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, 2016


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG wants to give hoverboards to the Jihadis

Why investors are leaving 90,000 Sydney homes EMPTY and thousands more in Melbourne

Belinda Cleary must be very young.  She hasn't got a blind clue about the topic she addresses  below. 

You CANNOT "benefit from negative gearing" by leaving a property unoccupied.  Negative gearing applies to rental income only.  You have to let out the property to "benefit  from negative gearing".

The article is pretty downhill after that so let me give the major reason behind the vacancies:  Difficult tenants and no support for landlords in dealing with them.  The various State Governments have passed restrictive legislation that is strongly protective of tenants -- and thus causes large losses for landlords when a tenant trashes the place or fails to pay rent.  So if you have just bought a nice new house or apartment you may well decide not to let tenants mess it up for you -- by leaving it vacant.  You will still usually get benefits from capital gains.

Another TEMPORARY factor is a mismatch between requested rentals and what tenants will pay.  There has been a huge building boom in most of Australia's capital cities recently, with new apartment buildings springing up like mushrooms.  And the owners think they can get both the purchase price and the rental income that they could have got 2 years ago.  But they cannot.  The law of supply and demand says that a big increase in supply will lead to a big decrease in price.  So those new apartments will sell for less than projected and rent out for less than projected.

Owners of new builds, however, are often very reluctant to drop their expected rents so keep a property vacant for a year or so just hoping that someone will give them the rent that they calculated on.  As disappointment sets in, however, they will drop their requested rent and get the property let out.  So part of the vacancy factor is temporary.  Rents will fall markedly in the next two years, thus leading to higher occupancy rates

The second article below confirms part of what I have just said

Some of Sydney and Melbourne's most desirable suburbs are being left vacant by property investors who benefit more from negative gearing than they do by filling the homes.

Now experts are calling for Sydney property investors to fill their empty properties and end the 'artificial' housing shortage the city is experiencing.

UNSW Futures Research Centre has found that one in seven homes in the inner-city, eastern suburbs and north shore suburbs of Sydney are empty.

A similar report shows up to 88,000 homes are vacant in Melbourne's inner suburbs leading researchers to believe it is a nation-wide program.

Dr Laurence Troy and Professor Bill Randolph have published an article in the Sydney Morning Herald which explains investors are securing big tax properties so they can benefit from tax-breaks.

This means they benefit more from leaving their properties empty than they do by filling them.

It is estimated around 90,000 properties are sitting vacant in some of the city's most desirable suburbs.

'The number of empty dwellings could more than account for the notional supply shortfalls,' Dr Laurence Troy and Professor Bill Randolph wrote.

The areas which see the highest amount of vacancies are those where capital gains are high and rental yields are low.

The experts say this is 'no coincidence' and reflective of negative gearing.

A study in Melbourne last year suggested more than 80,000 properties in the Victorian capital were left empty The Age reported.

'Having property sitting vacant has a very high cost on the economy. It's very destructive to our national prosperity,' Catherine Cashmore, author of the Prosper report said.

The researchers in that study used water-use data to reveal how many homes in the city area were being under used.

The recently revealed Sydney study showed fringe suburbs which experience higher rental yields and lower capital gains had fewer empty properties.

Doctor Laurence Troy has said on social media that he and his team want 'houses for people to live in!'

The Futures Research Centre team believe both the housing supply and shortage issues can be solved by filling those vacant properties.

They explained that the structure of the housing market is driven by a poor match in supply and demand.

'This only further exacerbates the emerging spatial inequalities experienced in our major cities, driving affordability in central, well connected and serviced parts of the city,' they wrote. 

'Failure of governments to acknowledge the pervasive prevalence of empty homes only adds to the ongoing un-affordability crisis,' they wrote. 

Haymarket and The Rocks are the most vacant suburbs in Sydney but a more than 13 per cent of homes in Manly, Potts Point, Wooloomooloo, Darlinghurst and Kirribilly are also vacant.

The researchers noted many desirable inner-city suburbs have also been left vacant in other Australian state capitals.


Australia's apartment price crash is real

Apartments in central Melbourne are being resold at discounts of up to 30 per cent from their original off-plan purchase price, sales data shows.

Not all units have fallen in value, but analysis of a handful of transactions shows many apartments have failed to hold their value between original purchase and resale, typically a few years later.

One property where prices have fallen is 27 Little Collins Street, which includes 171 apartments in a 32-storey tower above a Sheraton-branded hotel, completed by developer Golden Age in July last year.

A three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment occupying 140 square metres and with two car parks sold for $1,565,000 in August, a 28.7 per cent discount on its November 2010 purchase price of $2,195,000.

A two-bedroom unit in the same building fell almost 23 per cent in less than a year, when it was bought for $1,075,000 last April, having previously been purchased for $1,320,000 in June 2014.

A number of smaller apartments without car parks suffered falls ranging from almost 4 per cent to 8 per cent between 2010 and their resale last year.

Melbourne’s surge in new apartments led to predictions more than a year ago than an oversupply was likely to push prices down. While greater supply would limit rental income growth, as long as interest rates remained low there was unlikely to be a big correction in prices because buyers could still fund the gap between rental income and their mortgage payments, said BIS Shrapnel analyst Angie Zigomanis.

“Anyone who’s bought an apartment off-plan and then looks to onsell within a couple of years will probably be looking at a 10 per cent decline, but the 40 per cent decline – it’s definitely not going to be the norm,” Mr Zigomanis said. “At the broader level those price falls will be mitigated by lower interest rates and the fact that people aren’t necessarily going to be obliged to put their property on the market.”

At 108 Flinders, a 190-apartment building by developer Riverlee completed in August 2014, data from five transactions shows prices are treading water or falling, the numbers from CoreLogic RP Data also show.

The figures point to a downturn in prices and demand for investor buyers of apartment dwellings.

“Generally speaking, you’re going to get a worse outcome if the apartment doesn’t appeal to owner-occupiers and only appeals to an investor,” said Matthew Baxter, a director of valuation firm Opteon.

“You’re more likely to have a more favourable outcome if the apartment you’ve purchased appealed to an owner-occupier as well as investors.”

Mr Baxter declined to comment on individual properties or their prices. The figures are not comprehensive and give no indication of the CBD apartment market as a whole.

Golden Age managing director Jeff Xu said sales in the building were limited and the rental vacancy rate was zero.

“Some apartments will lose value, but that does not mean every apartment project will lose value,” Mr Xu told The Australian Financial Review on Tuesday. “It depends on the location, quality and how you manage it as well.”
Settlement risks mount

But these figures confirm the growing concern about the scope for prices to fall in central Melbourne.

With the number of apartments due for settlement ballooning, concern is rising about whether buyers will be able to pay for them, especially at a time when banks are tightening their rules.

If banks value properties for less or cut the loan-to-value ratio they will offer customers, buyers are forced to pay more at time of settlement. If they cannot pay more, they may be forced to sell into a weakening market.

The CoreLogic numbers add to separate figures compiled by valuation firm WBP showing half of 1,794 properties purchased off-plan between December 2009 and August 2015 had been revalued below their purchase price.

WBP figures subsequently broken out for The Australian Financial Review in the 3000 postcode that includes central Melbourne show that the 197 properties valued suffered an average fall in value of $51,272, or 9.15 per cent.

In one case, a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit purchased for $740,000 on 3 August last year was revalued at $600,000 – a 23 per cent discount – just 16 days later.


University tells students Britain 'invaded' Australia

What's wrong with saying "settled"?  "Settled" does not deny that there were other people there as well.  It is just typical Leftist hatred for the society they live in that lies behind this nonsense

A top Australian university has rejected claims it is trying to rewrite the nation's colonial history. Students are being encouraged to use the term "invaded" rather than "settled" or "discovered", and avoid the word "Aborigines".

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Indigenous Terminology guide states that Australia was "invaded, occupied and colonised".

But UNSW says it does not mandate what language can and cannot be used.  "It uses a more appropriate, less appropriate format," a UNSW spokesperson said in a statement to the BBC.

"The guide suggests referring to Captain [James] Cook as the first Englishman to map the continent's East Coast is 'more appropriate' than referring to his 'discovery' of Australia."

Students are instructed to use the terms "Indigenous Australian people" or "Aboriginal peoples" in place of "Aborigines" or "the Aboriginal people", to avoid implying that all Indigenous Australians are the same.

The guide also lists words such as "primitive", "simple", "native" and "prehistoric" as less appropriate than "complex and diverse societies".

Use of a term such as "nomadic" is discouraged on the grounds that it implies Indigenous Australians were not permanently settled, supporting the doctrine of terra nullius that English settlers used to justify occupying land in Australia.  Rubbish. terra nullius was a much later doctrine

The guidelines have sparked outrage in Australia's tabloid Daily Telegraph newspaper and on talkback radio.

Conservative radio host Alan Jones said: "Don't try and restrict the thinking of university students by some so-called diversity toolkit on Indigenous terminology rubbish which dictates game, set and match that Cook's arrival in New South Wales must be referred to as an invasion."

"One student might well argue in favour of invasion and another in favour of settlement. The argument should be judged on its quality. But prejudice and political correctness are anathema to genuine scholarship and learning."


Taller, faster, sooner: Australia’s growth spurt

I have noticed this myself.  I was a bit over 5'10" in my youth and was regarded as tall in that era ('60s).  But there seem to many young people around me these days who are taller than I am, even women

The hardwood lintel capping the front door of Reynolds Cottage in Sydney’s The Rocks was built in 1829 and it’s just part of the obstacle course 18-year-old Jackson Raddysh must run each time he visits his father Wes’s workplace. Standing 191.7cm in his port-coloured Vans, Jackson looms over his 180.3cm-tall dad, who runs ghost tours of the former penal colony out of one of Australia’s oldest surviving dwellings.

When convicts built Reynolds Cottage nearly two centuries ago, the average male height in the colony was 165cm. They couldn’t have known that Australians would start growing at a rate of knots: over the past 150 years our average height has soared almost 15cm. Now each generation is 3-4cm taller than the previous one. At 177.8cm, the average male aged 18-24 years today is 8.1cm [3"] taller than a man aged 75 and over (169.7cm), according to the ABS. Women aged 18-24 (163.8cm) are also 8.1cm taller than those of their grandparents’ generation. (We’ve also grown outward, with average weight up 3.9kg for men and 4.1kg for women between 1995 and 2011-12.)

More than that, though, the pattern of growth has changed significantly. Look around: at the schoolkids peering down on their teachers; at the lofty young athletes entering the ­Australian Institute of Sport (and not just to play basketball); at the adolescent girls shopping in the grown-up clothing aisles; at the huddles of skinny-jeaned teens Snapchatting, Spotifying and growing, still growing. You’re not imagining it: the younger generation is not only taller, it is shooting skyward earlier and faster.

“When I started teaching about 20 years ago, I was noticeably taller than my students,” says Timothy Olds, professor of health sciences at the University of South Australia. “Now there are very few I’m taller than.” Professor Olds studies the evolution of body size and shape in children and says that while better nutrition and improved public health help to explain the soaring heights, which typically max out around age 20 for boys and 16 for girls, there’s a new factor at play.

“Puberty appears to be very important,” he says. “We know that kids grow much more rapidly when they reach puberty. If they achieve that earlier, they are obviously growing faster younger, so kids are getting relatively taller.” The pubertal growth spurt is the most significant of the three major growth spurts — the first occurs in infancy, the second between the ages of six and eight — and there is a wealth of scientific data to show the age of onset of puberty has been falling, particularly in the past two decades.

At the turn of the 20th century, the average age for a girl to get her period was 16 to 17. Today that number has plummeted to a mean age of 12.5, with girls as young as seven starting to develop breasts and the growth spurt kicking in around 10. Similarly, boys are reaching puberty about four years earlier, around the age of 13. Why is unclear. Excess body fat, stress, less physical activity, and the presence of ­chemicals known as endocrine disrupters in food and the environment have all been touted as possible contributors.

Puberty is not just occurring earlier; some public health professionals say the process itself is compressed into a shorter time frame. “What was a process that perhaps took up to seven years now lasts three to four years,” says Professor George Patton, an epidemiologist at the Murdoch ­Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne. “So not only is the growth spurt occurring earlier, it tends to be over more quickly.”

Jackson was already approaching the average height of a colonial Australian adult by the age of 14 when, he says, he shot up 25cm. “It’s like something in my body just clicked and went, ‘Time to grow’,” he says.

Much has been made of our children growing heavier, with a quarter of all Australian kids now overweight or obese. But more stealthily, over the course of a generation, Gullivers like Jackson have been sprouting like dandelions in spring. (His 15-year-old sister, Sophie, is already as tall as their father.) And yet, says Patton, who also has a clinical background in child and adolescent ­psychiatry, our social systems are failing to keep pace. From fashion to furniture and official growth charts, from mental health protocols to the timing of the all-important transition from primary to secondary school, this rapid escalation, with its accompanying emotional upheaval, has caught us flat-footed. “We’ve learnt so much more about this phase of life; it is such an active phase of growth and development, particularly brain development, which until 15 years ago we had no idea about,” says Patton. “But have we taken that into account in any of the ­systems that we have in place to support, protect and empower kids during these years? No we haven’t.”

Forget apparitions in centuries-old attics; what’s really spooky is how quickly our kids are outgrowing the world around them.

There are no pencil marks edging up the door jambs in Professor Olds’ Adelaide home. No need. Son Spencer, 19 (176cm) and daughter Francesca, 17 (168cm) are measured expertly every year by their father’s anthropometry ­students using a height-measuring machine called a stadiometer. There’s little room for error as they are each measured 100 times. “It takes eight hours,” Olds laughs. “They get prodded and pinched, every skin fold is measured, every bone breadth is taken. But they get paid!”

Olds, 60 (180cm) anticipates his son will undergo a late growth spurt as he did and notes that his daughter, who’s 3cm taller than her mother Liz, already conforms to the dimensions predicted by a model he spent six years assembling. Olds compiled data on 644,613 children aged five to 17 between 1899 and 1999 and calculated that kids have been gaining a little over 1cm a decade for the past century. A 10-year-old boy, for example, stood on average 133cm tall in 1901, compared with 143cm at the tail-end of last century.

A 2006 study of 5000 South Australian ­adolescents by Olds’ University of Adelaide colleague, orthodontist Sarbin Ranjitkar, showed that steady increase continuing into the new millennium. “I was a bit surprised [the upward trend] was still continuing,” says Olds. “When I started in the 1990s, people were saying it was slowing but it’s not at all.”

Numerous studies have shown that society is significantly biased towards tall men: they get promoted more quickly, earn higher wages and have a better chance of finding a partner. A 2009 study, Does Size Matter in Australia? by Andrew Leigh, then economics professor at the ANU, and Michael Kortt from the ­University of Sydney found that an extra 5cm of height tends to secure a man an additional $1000 a year in wages.

So, height is a potent symbol. More than that, a new discipline of “anthropometric ­historians” now uses it to assess changes in the health and wellbeing of nations. According to an influential and oft-quoted 2006 paper, Underperformance in affluence: the remarkable relative decline in American heights in the second half of the 20th century by John Komlos and Benjamin Lauderdale, “height is indicative of how well the human organism thrives in its socio-economic environment.” The paper caused much consternation in the US as, by this measure, Americans are trailing much of the developed world. Once the tallest people on the planet — for 250 years they measured 7.6cm taller than Europeans — the Americans stopped growing about 60 years ago and much of the world’s population overtook them. Even the Japanese, once the shortest industrialised people on Earth, are catching up.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands has become a nation of giants. Over the past 200 years they’ve shot up 20cm to become the tallest population on the planet. There is widespread agreement within the scientific community that the incidence of disease and availability of medical services, especially during childhood, have a major impact on human size. The Netherlands has the world’s best — and free — prenatal and post-partum care, while America’s healthcare system and welfare safety net leave much to be desired. But because the increase in the Netherlands is more pronounced than that of the other ­European ­countries crowding the top end of the height charts — countries like Norway, ­Denmark, ­Sweden, Belgium and Germany — researchers believe there could be something other than environmental factors at play. Interestingly, a 2015 British study found taller men tended to have more children, leading its authors to ­suggest a process of natural selection may have been driving the astounding Dutch growth.

Diet is also crucial, with nutritionists claiming the removal of any one of 50 essential nutrients from a diet can restrict growth. This partly explains the height plateau in America, with its obesity problems and ultra-processed diet. In Australia, evidence shows kids are ­eating better than they did in the past. “We know kids are getting fatter, so we were ­doubtful about this,” says Olds, who looked at 2574 reports of energy intake in children from different countries dating back to 1854. Our great-grandparents “obviously expended more energy, but the amount they ate back then was unbelievable,” he says. “The other striking thing was how stodgy the diet was — huge amounts of meat and potatoes, very little fruit, no fresh vegetables. Our diet is so much better today in terms of variety and freshness and less saturated fat.”

A person’s height is mainly (about 80 per cent) determined by the combined effects of hundreds of genes. “Everyone is born with a genetic height potential but the likelihood they will reach that is based on a set of environmental circumstances such as nutrition,” says ­Professor Ravi Savarirayan, clinical geneticist and paediatrician at Victorian Clinical Genetics Services. He points to Korea where, since the country’s division, North Koreans have become several centimetres shorter than their counterparts in the South, despite similar genetics, “because they are starving”.

Stress is also an important factor. “If you starve a child they won’t grow, but even if you feed a child but neglect them, they won’t grow,” he says. Olds adds that historical data from World War II shows children’s growth decelerating during their attendance at boarding school, with “a catch-up growth when they were on holidays back with their families”.

Pffh is the sound of an exasperated mother trying to source age-appropriate clothes for her rapidly unfurling daughters.  At 185cm, Green knows what it’s like to feel out of step with the world. Benchtops and ergonomic desks are too low; she struggles with leg room on trains, planes and buses; and, on rainy days, must navigate a minefield of eye-poking umbrellas. In 2000, she established Tall People Australia for taller-than-average Australians. With only “a couple of hundred” in the club, she doesn’t have the numbers to form a powerful lobby group such as the Netherlands’ Klub Lange Mensen. So it’s more of an information network and social hub. But Green’s hoping for a revolution to make life easier for the girls who have inherited her genes: an 11-year-old who is 169cm and a 13-year-old who stands 177.8cm.

“There are a lot more places catering to large sizes because it’s more common to see overweight people in the community now,” Green says. Yet clothing manufacturers still operate on the same old standard height. “Even though we are growing taller as a nation, are we going to reach that point where businesses will think it’s viable to sustain a tall line?” she says. “In my lifetime it hasn’t changed much.”

Green is not alone in her despair. When ­Adelaide body-sizing expert Daisy Veitch teamed with Maciej Henneberg, professor of anthropological and comparative anatomy at the University of Adelaide, to conduct a national sizing survey in 2002, they were mainly concerned with filling a yawning gap in the data on the body shapes and sizes of adult Australians. But they also heard anecdotal evidence from a lot of distressed mothers. “We interviewed 5000 people about their shopping experiences and, overwhelmingly, the parents were telling us that young children were getting bigger faster,” says Veitch, who has advised Safe Work Australia and the US Air Force Research Laboratory on anthropometrical issues. “Now, imagine you’re the mother of a seven-year-old girl and you have to buy your child a size 12 and suddenly they’re being marketed sexy items. They’re being thrust into the tween market prematurely.”

Growth in children can be extremely rapid. Some studies have shown increases of half to a full centimetre in a single day; in one longitudinal study of 1000 children in NSW, a Year 8 boy grew 16cm over a 12-month period while a girl in Year 7 grew 13cm.

Elite sport is one area that’s been quick to size up the new generation and relatively fleet of foot in adapting. Staff at the Australian Institute of Sport, which enrols kids as young as eight, have adjusted their teaching methods after observing the increase in size of the centre’s 3D body scanners, endurance athletes’ altitude tents, even residence beds. “I’m continually astonished by how big the kids coming through are,” says AIS senior skills acquisition scientist Daniel Greenwood (185.4cms). “In the past decade, the biggest change I’ve noticed is in the team sports. Previously, there would be one tall person on each team, stuck in a certain role, whereas now the packs of kids are all taller.

“We’ve taken the reins off these tall kids, taken them out of traditional tall-kid positions, and had them show us what they’re capable of rather than what we expect them to do.” Training has also been modified. “Tall athletes are now better understood within physio circles,” Greenwood says. “Their muscles are tighter, their connective tissue is tighter, so there’s a greater emphasis on flexibility and an understanding they may not be able to do the same volumes of training as someone bulkier. We have to give them time and space to grow into their bodies.”

Increasingly, precipitous growth spurts are linked to earlier onset puberty with its attendant physical changes and emotional turmoil. And this is where the social scaffolding becomes shaky, says George Patton, who is also professor of adolescent health research at the University of ­Melbourne. “It’s an age where kids are still working out who they are, they’re still very limited in terms of interpersonal skills and they’re experiencing many new, challenging emotions,” he says. ­Without the corresponding social or emotional maturation, early puberty can be a confusing time, especially for girls, who may face sexual innuendo or teasing before they are able to deal with it. Risks for anxiety, depression, social exclusion and aggressive behaviour arise whenever puberty occurs but “kids going through puberty earlier encounter these challenges sooner and are less well prepared,” Patton says.

With his steel-rimmed glasses and kindly, unhurried manner, Patton blends science with compassion, emerging as an ideal advocate for young people at the most vulnerable phase of their lives. He and a team of researchers are undertaking the biggest longitudinal study of puberty in Australia, the Childhood to Adolescence ­Transition Study, in the hope of understanding “changes in the timing of puberty, the shape of puberty and what that means for the growth spurt that happens during the adolescent period”.

So far they’ve learnt that patterns of health and nutrition during childhood and the effective treatment of viral, bacterial and parasitic infections have “a profound effect” on the timing of the pubertal growth spurt. “And what we’ve come to understand is that it’s not just the ­timing of puberty that is earlier in the modern, higher-­income, better-nourished settings but the speed in which kids go through puberty,” he says, citing studies from the US and Denmark suggesting the onset of puberty occurs about one year earlier than two decades ago, at around 10 years old.

The transition in Australia from primary to secondary school, he says, is just one of numerous structures and ingrained practices that need to be rethought. “When the education system was designed, quite a long time ago, primary school was what happened prior to puberty and secondary school was what happened after and that aligned pretty much with the biology then,” Patton says. “What we have now is a system where, particularly for girls, but also to a certain extent with boys, you’ve got this transition between Grade 6 and 7 where it’s bang in the middle of the most profound developmental event in the life of children after birth. It’s a time of utterly profound change not just physically and in sexual reproductive maturity but emotionally, socially … You’re making this change at a point where it just makes no sense. And a lot of kids do struggle — they’ll be tracking along nicely to Grade 6 then you see this fall-off in educational achievement in Grade 7, 8 and 9 before you get a plateauing out when they’ve readjusted.”

Brisbane high school teacher Emma Warren, 38, has made peace with her height (195.5cm) but remembers her youth as a time of turbulence. “There are a lot of tall girls at my school struggling with low self-esteem, self-conscious about their height, and I’m a sort of mentor to them,” she says. Warren gets plenty of practice at home: her eldest daughter Sara, 17, is 178cm; Ingrid, 15, is 185cm, and her youngest, Wendy, 13, stands at a skyscraping 192cm. “Bendy Wendy”, as she’s sometimes called, recently tried on her first pair of heels, stilettos that lifted her a good 5cm closer to the gods. The teen twirled and strutted, turning the aisles of a suburban chain store into her own personal catwalk. As confidence lengthened her stride, she rehearsed the mantra her mother had lodged in her head: I’m not too tall; the world’s too small for me.


30 March, 2016

Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching at 95 per cent in northern section -- attributed to global warming

What bulldust!  For a start, coral bleaching is NOT coral death.  It is a stress response that leads to the expulsion of symbiotic algae.  There are about half a dozen things that can cause it.  And the ONE thing that can be excluded as a cause is anthropogenic global warming.  Why?  Because there has been none of that for nearly 19 years.  Things that don't exist don't cause anything. 

The ocean waters MAY have warmed but that will be due to natural factors such as El Nino.  The 2015 and early 2016 temperature upticks were DEMONSTRABLY due to El Nino and other natural factors, as CO2 levels were plateaued at the relevant time.

And it is not at all certain that a small temperature rise causes bleaching.  An ancient coral reef specimen now on display at the Natural History Museum in London is instructive.  It goes back to  160 million years ago.  The exhibit is proof that ancestors of modern corals somehow thrived during the Late Jurassic period when temperatures were warmer and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide higher than they are today.

And if that's ancient history, how come corals survive in the Persian Gulf today at temperatures up to 8 degrees hotter that what we see in the tropical Pacific?

Bleaching may even be a positive thing. In recent years, scientists have discovered that some corals resist bleaching by hosting types of algae that can handle the heat, while others swap out the heat-stressed algae for tougher, heat-resistant strains.

And a recent study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science showed that warming in Australian waters actually INCREASED coral growth over the 20th century.

I could go on but I think I have said enough

All the points I have made above could have been made by any competent marine biologist  -- and I can provide references for  them all.  But I am not a marine biologist.  I am a psychologist.  What a harrowed world we live in where a psychologist has to give the basic information that marine biologists dare not give.

An aerial survey of the northern Great Barrier Reef has shown that 95 per cent of the reefs are now severely bleached — far worse than previously thought.

Professor Terry Hughes, a coral reef expert based at James Cook University in Townsville who led the survey team, said the situation is now critical.

"This will change the Great Barrier Reef forever," Professor Hughes told 7.30.

"We're seeing huge levels of bleaching in the northern thousand-kilometre stretch of the Great Barrier Reef."

Of the 520 reefs he surveyed, only four showed no evidence of bleaching.  From Cairns to the Torres Strait, the once colourful ribbons of reef are a ghostly white.

"It's too early to tell precisely how many of the bleached coral will die, but judging from the extreme level even the most robust corals are snow white, I'd expect to see about half of those corals die in the coming month or so," Professor Hughes said.

This is the third global coral bleaching since 1998, and scientists have found no evidence of these disasters before the late 20th century.

"We have coral cores that provide 400 years of annual growth," explains Dr Neal Cantin from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

"We don't see the signatures of bleaching in reduced growth following a bleaching event until the recent 1998/2000 events."

Environment Minister Greg Hunt flew over the reef just eight days ago, before Professor Hughes' aerial survey, and announced some additional resources for monitoring the reef.

"There's good and bad news — the bottom three quarters of the reef is in strong condition," he said at the time.

"[But] as we head north of Lizard Island it becomes increasingly prone to bleaching."

The northern part of the Great Barrier Reef is the most pristine part of the marine park — and that is one possible glimmer of hope.

"On the bright side, it's more likely that these pristine reefs in the northern section will be better able to bounce back afterwards," Professor Hughes said.

"Nonetheless we're looking at 10-year recovery period, so this is a very severe blow."

Professor Justin Marshall, a reef scientist from the University of Queensland, said the reason for these bleaching events was clear.

"What we're seeing now is unequivocally to do with climate change," he told 7.30.

"The world has agreed, this is climate change, we're seeing climate change play out across our reefs."

Professor Hughes said he is frustrated about the whole climate change debate.

"The government has not been listening to us for the past 20 years," he said.

"It has been inevitable that this bleaching event would happen, and now it has.

"We need to join the global community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.



American computer game company Found Guilty Of Breaching Australian Consumer Law

After an 18-month back and forth with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Federal Court has finally ruled that Valve was in breach of Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC’s major issue with Valve was its lack of a refund policy, which ran contrary to Australian Consumer law. Valve has since implemented its own refund policy in the wake of this case, but had no refund policy in August 2014 when the ACCC initially sued.

Valve’s defence was based around the fact that it doesn’t officially conduct business in Australia, only admitting it provided access to an online access portal to video games through a client. Valve denied this falls into the definition of ‘goods’ in Australian consumer law. Valve also maintained the Steam Subscriber Agreement is the law of the State of Washington, United States of America — not the law of Australia.

But the Australian Federal court disagreed, and found that Valve made misleading statements to consumers in its terms and conditions contained in three versions of its Steam Subscriber Agreement and two versions of its Steam Refund Policy. These misleading statements all focused on the rights of Australian consumers to a refund if they’ve been sold a faulty or defective product.

Justice Edelman that Valve was doing business in Australia and, as such, was bound to operate within Australian Consumer Law.

“The Federal Court’s decision reinforces that foreign based businesses selling goods and/or services to Australian consumers can be subject to Australian Consumer Law obligations, including the consumer guarantees,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“In this case, Valve is a US company operating mainly outside Australia, but, in making representations to Australian consumers, the Federal Court has found that Valve engaged in conduct in Australia. It is also significant that the Court held that, in any case, based on the facts, Valve was carrying on business in Australia.

“This is also the first time Courts have applied the extended definition of ‘goods’ to include “computer software” in the ACL. It will provide greater certainty where digital goods are supplied to consumers through online platforms.”

“Consumer issues in the online marketplace are a priority for the ACCC and we will continue to take appropriate enforcement action to hold businesses accountable for breaches of the ACL.”

Initially, in August 2014, the ACCC asked that Valve:

* Provide an email address that specifically deals with refunds as per Australian Consumer law.

* Provide a 1800 number to help consumers address any refund issues.

* Provide a PO Box address for consumers to deal with refunds.

* Appoint representatives (the ACCC refer to this person as a contact officer) to reply to consumers regarding refunds.

Back then Doug Lombardi informed Kotaku that Valve was “making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter.”

No set amount was decided in terms of liability at the judgement, but there is a chance that, in addition to any liability, Valve will have to pay up to 75% of the ACCC’s legal costs.


Federal election 2016: Turnbull to ditch Abbott health cuts

Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have mapped out a health funding compromise to present to state premiers and treasurers at Friday’s COAG meeting.

Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison are preparing to ditch Tony Abbott’s massive cuts to state hospital funding at a crucial meeting on Friday after the Prime Minister and Treasurer held a two-hour strategy discussion at Mr Turnbull’s harbourside mansion yesterday, countering talk of a rift at the top of the federal government.

Although federal sources insist the deal has not been finalised, states are confident they will be ­offered a four-year hospital funding agreement to 2020 based on the original formula agreed under the Gillard Labor government. This would create a $5 billion hit to Mr Morrison’s first budget.

The Australian understands the four-year agreement would be tied to a revolutionary tax reform proposal under which the states would be offered a share of income tax beyond 2020 to fund health and education.

The discussions at Mr Turnbull’s mansion in Sydney’s Point Piper, which were held without ­officials, came after a week of poor communication, including a controversial decision by the Prime Minister to bring forward the budget from May 10 to May 3 without telling the Treasurer in the hours before the final proposal was put to federal cabinet.

As Labor warns of “dysfunction” within the government, yesterday’s meeting was described as proof of an effective working relationship that would scotch ­rumours of a rift.

Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison have mapped out a health funding compromise to present to state premiers and treasurers at Friday’s Council of Australian Governments to neutralise hospital funding as an election issue.

Mr Abbott and Joe Hockey’s first budget, in May 2014, included $80bn in cuts to hospitals and schools in the period to 2024-25, with commonwealth funding limited to covering only increases in the cost of living and population.

Mr Abbott argued funding was not being cut, rather that Labor’s unfunded increases in spending were not being covered.

After differences on GST and the government’s tax reform strategy, the Prime Minister and Treasurer had been at odds over hospital funding following meetings with their state counterparts in December.

When federal and state officials met in Sydney 10 days ago to plan for the summit, the message from Martin Parkinson, the head of Mr Turnbull’s department, was that the Prime Minister was “fighting” to find a way to offer more health funding but that others around the cabinet table had no appetite for an increased offer.

State governments were told Mr Morrison was one of those ­resisting the increased offer. “They really need to put their cards on the table,” said one state official.

Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison accept that the formula imposed in May 2014 is not realistic, either politically or to secure sustainable health services. Mr Morrison’s chief of staff, Phil Gaetjens, was formerly head of the NSW Treasury Department and had prepared the NSW argument against the hospital funding arrangement.

Commonwealth officials say the final shape of the agreement on Friday has not yet been negotiated and the idea of a four-year deal is the states’ claim, rather than the commonwealth’s offer.

However, a four-year deal would push the issue of hospital funding beyond the 2019 election, while a date of 2020 is sufficiently distant to allow for sweeping tax reform. The idea of sharing the ­income tax base has been repeatedly proposed as a way of securing state government finances.

The commonwealth will also be looking for some contribution from the states. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has proposed savings on preventive health while NSW Premier Mike Baird has outlined a proposal for increased health funding. The states are understood to have quantified “significant” savings they can make by improving healthcare before patients need hospital treatment, such as better medication management and in-home care.

This would go some way to meeting Mr Turnbull’s demand that the states bear some of the burden in fixing the hospital funding problem rather than rely solely on more cash from Canberra.

Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison are expected to discuss their proposals with state counterparts within days, but the federal offer may not be formally proposed until Thursday, ahead of a dinner in Canberra that night. The Prime Minister will dine with premiers at The Lodge ahead of the official COAG meeting in Parliament House the next day, April 1.

In a significant step, given the speculation over the relationship between the Prime Minister and Treasurer, Mr Turnbull has ­ensured that Mr Morrison will be alongside him at the most important sessions on Friday, including a presentation on the economy.

Just as former prime minister John Howard hosted some COAG meetings with treasurer Peter Costello next to him, this Friday’s meeting is expected to be a show of unity between Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison.


Australia Post: snail mail gets even slower

Australia Post is trying to kill off its main business

Bills arriving after the due date, birthday cards missing their mark, and businesses unwittingly breaking the law – this is the reality of life under Australia Post's new two speed mail service. The mail is so slow that retirees are phoning in birthday wishes instead of writing cards and schools have stopped posting newsletters.

This super-slow snail mail was introduced by Australia Post on January 4, ostensibly to save money on overnight processing and planes. Stamp prices also went up – an ordinary letter now costs $1 and takes up to six working days to be delivered. (Maybe this is why the Prime Minister called a three-month election campaign – to make sure the postman has enough time to deliver all the political junk mail.)

But while the changes were announced last year, it appears some industries have been caught unawares. For example, the National Credit Providers Association has just realised its members could be breaching the National Credit Act because it requires they wait 30 days before taking someone to court over unpaid bills. The law actually states the day of notice is the date "it would have been delivered in the ordinary course of post".
Letter delivery has slowed right down since two-speed mail was introduced in January this year.

Letter delivery has slowed right down since two-speed mail was introduced in January this year. Photo: Jim Rice

The NCPA has since realised members cannot rely on "ordinary" post speeds any more.

"Our view is that you should allow a further two days to ensure that the document is delivered compared to the time you would have previously allowed," chief executive of the NCPA, Phil Johns, wrote in a recent letter to members.

He was now in urgent discussions with the corporate regulator and Treasury to make it legal for his members to email default notices.

Even paying the extra 50¢ for a priority sticker doesn't help a letter arrive much sooner according to Elly Foster, the franchise operations manager at Melbourne Body Corporate Management, which sends out notices to property owners and tenants.

"Under our statutory requirements, we are to forward notices in relation to meetings with 14 days' notice. And it used to be that we could send them 15 days before [the meeting]. Now it is a case of having to send them a minimum of 21 days," she said. "If nobody turns up because they have not got their notification of the meeting, it is obviously a waste of everybody's time and energy."

Schools have also decided to dump snail mail. Thornbury High School recently stopped posting its newsletter to hundreds of families because the news was old by the time parents read it.

"We have a deadline for our newsletter here at the school and the expectation was that parents would get it in two days," principal Peter Egeberg? said. "Now that no longer happens." A quarter of families still receive a paper newsletter, but they now collect it from the school office.

A spokeswoman for Australia Post said this slower mail "will help to ensure a sustainable, world-class letters service can be maintained".

Last year the government-owned business reported revenues of $6.4 billion, including $2 billion from mail services, but recorded a $222 million loss, its first since corporatisation in 1989.

The spokeswoman also confirmed ordinary letters posted anywhere in Victoria go to Dandenong for sorting, including letters posted in regional towns to someone in the same town. This means something posted in Shepparton takes a 500-kilometre round trip. 

 She added that 97 per cent of letters sent in Australia were sent by business and government, and had been on the two-speed service since mid-2014

Asked whether Australia Post has seen an increase in complaints since the start of the year, she said it was "not required to publicly release any data related to customer complaints".

 The Postal Industry Ombudsman's latest annual report shows a 38 per cent increase in complaints about Australia Post in 2014-15 to 5613. It noted complaint numbers have tripled since 2007. 

One Hughesdale woman conducted her own experiment after a letter posted in Gippsland took two months to reach her in Melbourne's east.

"I put a piece of paper in the envelope saying the date of the letter and posted it to myself. It took about seven to eight days to get back to me," she said.

"I am not trusting [the post] as much. I have got to the stage now where I ring up and wish someone a happy birthday. If you want the card to get there on their birthday you would have to post it two weeks before."


29 March, 2016

'Precariat' generation missing out on Australian lifestyle

The story below is probably correct.  It is one of many stories that report on the unemployability of many young people today.  And where lies the blame for that?  Squarely on the Left-dominated educational system with its emphasis on saving the planet and glorifying homosexuality.

 Kids are encouraged to embark on studies that lead nowhere.  Take the kid used as an example below.  What did he do his degree in? "Contemporary music". Making money as a musician has always been a grind.  It's an oversupplied market. I knew a lot of musicians once and they were all usually "skint". 

My son shows how it can be if you have useful skills.  He was "headhunted" during his very first job interview by a member of the interviewing panel and given a job immediately.  So what are his skills?  He is an IT professional.  He is at ease writing multiple computer programming languages.  And such skills don't necessarily take long to acquire.  I learnt to program computers in the FORTRAN language from a course that consisted of just 4 mornings.

Young Australians have fewer opportunities for full-time work and affordable housing, creating a new "precariat" social class lacking security and predictability, according to a new book.

Jennifer Rayner, author of Generation Less: How Australia is Cheating the Young, said policies skewed towards the older generation dramatically increased disparities between the young and the old.

This, she said, had placed an "enduring handicap" on those born from the 1980s onwards.

"There have always been gaps between younger people and older people in Australia, and that's true everywhere because young people are starting out in life, because they haven't had as much time in the workforce," Ms Rayner said.

"But over the last 30 years in Australia what has happened is that all of those gaps are getting wider.

"What the data shows is that young people are going backwards compared to the people the same age 15 years ago."

Less than one in 30 young people reported being underemployed in the 1970s. But that figure now stood at about one in six, Ms Rayner said.

The number of young people working casually also jumped from 34 per cent in 1992 to 50 per cent in 2013.

Over the same period, the percentage of people working without entitlements in their 40s and 50s barely moved.

Unless policies around housing and the casualisation of the workforce changed, the disadvantage would become entrenched, Ms Rayner said.

"The fact that all of these trends and factors are ganging up on young people means that their experience of being an Australian is basically different from other generations," she said.

"The [youth] are currently part of the precariat and they will find themselves locked in there as they grow older, if these trends continue, and if nothing changes in their circumstances."

Ms Rayner said instability affected the material and emotional wellbeing of the young.

Something that 26-year-old Sam Johnston knows only too well. Mr Johnston moved to Melbourne in 2015 with his girlfriend Edie after a year travelling overseas.

He failed to find full-time work, but a bachelor's degree in contemporary music and a graduate diploma in education from Southern Cross University in NSW means he has a debt of about $30,000 "hanging over his head".

Mr Johnston said he "gave up" looking for full-time work in the "depth of winter" and was now focused on his gigs, which were easier to get. He also volunteers as a teacher's aide and tutors students to gain experience.

But the lack of income and the absence of a community in the new city has taken a toll.  "I had a bout with depression last year which lasted nine months," Mr Johnston said.  "I am still on antidepressants now, which is coming to a close very shortly."

Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley said the book's finding was consistent with the institute's research.

"There is a real danger of a generation that will be less well off than its parents," Mr Daley said.

"You can see it in an older cohort that has much more wealth than their predecessors, whereas wealth in younger households is not going up very fast.

"You see it in incomes, you see it in ... very rapidly falling rates of home ownerships."

Several factors, including rapidly falling interest rates, an age-based tax, welfare, and superannuation system geared towards older workers, were responsible for the situation, Mr Daley said.


April 1 premium rises prompt half a million angry Aussies to quit health insurance

This is bulldust.  A rise of $2 per week for a single person is a problem?  What can $2 buy you these days?  I can't think of anything.  It won't even buy you a custard tart in Woolworths

A PREMIUM rise three times the inflation rate has unleashed consumer rage on health funds with more than half a million people planning to quit their cover.

Premiums will rise by around $200 a year for a family and around $100 a year for singles on April 1.

And almost half of all health fund members plan to shop around to find a better deal a Galaxy poll commissioned by health fund iSelect has found.

More than 530,000 Australians told the survey they planned to ditch their insurance altogether, a move that could increase pressure on public hospitals.

Families and couples who already have hospital only or extras only (as opposed to combined health cover) are the most likely to quit their health fund.

One in five or 215,000 couple and families with hospital only or extras only are considering dropping their cover, the survey found.

“It’s possible these households have already pared back their cover as premiums have risen in recent years but this latest increase may be the tipping point that means they can simply no longer afford it,” iSelect spokeswoman Laura Crowden said.

Health Minister Sussan Ley has approved a 5.59 per cent premium rise that is more than three times the inflation rate.

Some health fund products are rising well in excess of this amount, Bupa’s Top Hospital with $250 excess is rising by 8.5 per cent and Medibank’s combined hospital and extras package for families by 9.5 per cent.


'Hard to watch': Afghans react to $6m Australian film aimed at asylum seekers

A movie commissioned by Australia’s immigration department to deter Afghan asylum seekers has had its premiere on local TV, seeking to reinforce a widely held view that unauthorised travel to Australia is not worth the risk.

The Journey is a lavish production depicting hopeful asylum seekers who meet tragic fates crossing the Indian Ocean.

Underwritten by $6m in Australian taxpayers’ money and filmed in three countries, it was shown on Friday on two channels in Afghanistan, the world’s second-largest source of refugees and migrants in 2015, after Syria.

“It was hard to watch. It made me very upset,” Ali Reza, an 18-year-old tailor said about the film. “I know they were actors, but these things really happen to Afghans.”

Put It Out There Pictures, which produced the film for $4.34m, says on its website the movie aims to inform audiences “about the futility of investing in people smugglers, the perils of the trip, and the hardline policies that await them if they do reach Australian waters”.

Judging from the responses of scores of young men who spoke to the Guardian, that goal was largely achieved.  “It was a good movie,” said Mostafa Ebadi, 23. “It showed the lies smugglers tell passengers before leaving.”

Mohammad Tawab, 23, said he had been particularly moved by scenes of refugees languishing in an Indonesian prison. For Yama Taheri, who was playing football in a downtown Kabul park, the most disturbing sequence was one in which three brothers drown. “It made me think that if I try to go with friends, this will be our destiny,” he said.

Before the current Syrian conflict forced millions to flee that country, Afghanistan was by far the largest producer of refugees in the world for more than three decades. Neighbouring countries Pakistan and Iran hosted most of the displaced Afghans, but Afghans were also the largest national group who sought to reach Australia by boat.

Almost all Afghans who have reached Australia by boat have been found to be refugees legally requiring protection. Each year since 2009, between 96% and 100% of Afghan asylum seekers have had their claims for refugee status upheld.

But in recent years fewer and fewer Afghans have set their sights on Australia. Harsher asylum policies and warning campaigns have deterred many. The vast majority of Afghan asylum seekers in 2015 went to Europe, with more than 150,000 to Germany alone.

For three years Daud Hossaini, 42, planned to join his brother in Australia. As asylum policies tightened, he hesitated, but retained hope that the forthcoming federal election might bring change. But on Friday, after seeing the movie, he finally buried his hopes of moving to Australia.  “If I die on the way, what’s the point of going?” he said.

Lapis Communications, who promoted and adapted the movie to Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan, denied they were producing government propaganda.  “The backers of the film are credited, that is neither hidden or denied,” said Sarah-Jean Cunningham, director of operations and business development. “More importantly, the ideas and values around the film are grounded in addressing a very serious and tragic issue – with the ultimate objective of saving lives.”

Cunningham denied the fee earned by Lapis – $1.63m – was excessive. “The cost is reflective of the extent of that significant scope of work,” she said.

However, not everyone bought the message. As security worsens and employment becomes scarcer, Afghans will continue to leave. Humayoon, 29, who saw part of the movie before rushing off to a wedding, said he was only staying in Afghanistan as long as he had a job.  “If I can’t feed my family, what am I supposed to do?”


Federal Labor party MPs Lobby Sydney University To Maintain  Antisemitic "Centre"

Pressure is mounting on the University of Sydney to back away from planned changes to its Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), with Federal Labor MPs writing to the University and urging it to reconsider.

In a letter seen by New Matilda, three Federal MPs and four of their state counterparts have implored the institution not to “downgrade” the Centre into a mini-department.

The CPACS is headed by Associate-Professor Jake Lynch, and has campaigned outside of the classroom on a number of issues. Lynch and others involved in the Centre are concerned the changes to its structure will threaten that side of its operations.

So too are Federal MPs Melissa Parke, Maria Vamvakinou, and Laurie Ferguson, who along with state MPs Paul Lynch, Julia Finn, Lynda Voltz, and Shaoquett Moselmane have signed a letter protesting the restructure and sent to the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Professor Barbara Caine.

“CPACS’s efforts to promote debate on issues like accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka, West Papua, Palestine and human rights generally provide the Australian and the global community with a sophisticated, alternative voice on topical and difficult issues, as reflected in acclamations for CPACS’ work by the likes of Dr Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” their letter says.

The letter goes on to urge the University to reconsider changing the Centre’s status.

“It cannot be good for our democracy and academic reputation to attenuate such voices. It would be particularly disturbing if a prestigious institution like Sydney University, by the simple expedient of withdrawing resources from CPACS, is seen to supress reflection and debate on important, even controversial, matters.”

The move follows similar action from NSW state Greens MPs, who wrote to the University earlier in the week warning the changes to the Centre could look like a ‘politically motivated attack’ to the broader community.

After being contacted for comment today, a spokesperson for University said they did not comment on correspondence with MPs. The University has previously argued the changes to the Centre are due to falling enrolments, but that has been disputed by Lynch.

Lynch has previously been the subject of controversy thanks to his support of the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions campaign. MPs who signed the letter, including Federal members Melissa Parke and Maria Vamvakinou, have been among Labor’s most outspoken supporters of Palestine.


28 March, 2016

Busybodies want to limit other people's choices

A small, low-cost inner-city "pied-à-terre" might be just what is needed for someone who works in the city during the week but who spends the weekend at a pleasant rural property.  Many men work away from their families during the week.  My father did

THEY’VE been labelled “crappy” and “dog boxes in the sky”, apartments so small and badly designed there’s barely enough room to swing a cat — let alone a pooch.

There’s no space for luxuries like, you know, a dining room table, while some rooms don’t even sport windows.

The tiniest units in Australian cities are so small they would be illegal in crowded Hong Kong and New York.

But far from being spurned, compact flats are being heralded by some as the solution to the growing demand for city living.

However, there are moves afoot to clamp down on so-called “micro apartments” with calls for a minimum size for flats to stop developers squeezing more people into ever smaller spaces.

Earlier this month, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle criticised developers who were sacrificing design for density.

“I am pro-development but some of the developments that have been put before us are shameful”, he told the Urban Development Institute in Adelaide.

Talking to he reeled off a list of developer requests he was outraged by, including windows separated from the rooms they were supposed to illuminate by a corridor so long it was “like something out of Alice in Wonderland”, glass walls whose role it was to filter light into windowless bedrooms but actually created “little caves”, and fridge doors that couldn’t open because of the cramped space.

There was even the builder who created a micro apartment without a kitchen with the reason that it would be ideal for someone who enjoyed eating out.

A critic of unchecked development, Mr Doyle said good design needed to be at the centre of new apartments to prevent “building the slums of tomorrow”.

Yet, for 24-year-old public relations consultant Elena Eckhardt, her tiny Sydney apartment, which she shares with her partner, is a bijou beauty.

“The apartment has a double bedroom, bathroom, laundry, joint kitchen and living room and balcony,” she told

“Despite it being so small I’ve decorated it so it feels very personal.”

At 48sq m her flat is skirting the regulations in NSW, known as SEPP 65, that set a minimum apartment size. One bedroom units can be no smaller than 50sq m but studio apartments can go down to a super snug 35sq m.

Ms Eckhardt’s bedroom is partially separate with openings in the wall letting some natural light “borrowed” from the living room which has large windows.

“It’s the smallest place I’ve lived,” she said of the unit in the city fringe suburb of Chippendale. “We wouldn’t be able to afford a big apartment in the CBD so I do definitely like being here at this stage in our lives.”

Ms Eckhardt said she could walk to work and any number of pubs and shops were in the local area. The couple are out most nights, so see the flat as less a place to linger and more somewhere to bed down in.

Nevertheless, they’ve had to make compromises. “We decided not to have a kitchen table because it’s too cluttered so we only have a table on the balcony and eat there or on the couch”.

“But having a separate bedroom was really important because there is two of us so it doesn’t feel like we’re sharing one room.”

Ms Eckhardt’s 48sq m are an indulgence of open space compared to an apartment advertised for rent in Melbourne CBD that was just 20sq m, or roughly the size of two car parking spots, the Age reported.

In Victoria, unlike NSW, there is no minimum apartment size. In the Victorian Government’s ‘Better Apartments’ consultation, Planning Minister Richard Wynne raised the prospect of a new apartment code which could see minimum sizes alongside a raft of other measures around natural light, noise and outdoor space.

The consultation found daylight and space were the top concerns for apartment dwellers with 76 per cent of respondents calling for a minimum apartment size.


Why women are the enemy of working mothers

It's broader than enmity to new mothers who work.  Women are great at tearing ALL other women down.  The "Sisterhood" is a myth.  Even your friends probably bad-mouth you behind your back.  Consciously or subconciously, most women see themselves as engaged in a never-ending competition for the affections of men, so regard all other women as potential rivals who have to be torn down.  And it's not unreasonable.  When men are inclined to "stray", there is usually a woman willing to stray with them

NEW mothers who return to work beware — women are out to get you.

Only 41 per cent of women would support a friend who chooses to go back to employment after having kids if they are not the primary breadwinner, according to a new survey.

But that figure rose to 89 per cent if the woman earned more than her partner, according to the survey of 2000 women by cosmetics company Heat.

Only about 14 per cent of households with dependent children under 15 are headed by a female breadwinner in Australia, although it is closer to 27 per cent in inner Sydney.

New mum Vilja Roman had little choice but to go back to work fulltime when her son Feliks was less than a year old. Under the terms of her contract, she would have had to pay back her maternity leave if she didn’t.  But Ms Roman, 35, felt judged.

She said: “I remember some of my colleagues were a bit surprised that I was going back fulltime. In my mothers’ group, others went back part-time or stayed at home, I was the only one who went back fulltime.

“The decision to go back fulltime is where I felt most judged. I don’t know how much of that was my personal feelings, as opposed to how much others judged me.”

Heather Gridley, an honorary ­fellow in psychology, said judgment often came when women felt pressured to defend their own choice.

“In doing that, you point to the other person as having made a less valid choice,” she said.

“Often, they are not choices at all. It can be quite painful. When you don’t get validation, self-doubt starts to emerge. I think women are particularly vulnerable to that.”

Anita Vitanova, founder of inner, said she found mothers felt judged “constantly”.

“Women do judge each other, mainly to justify and validate their own choices,” she said. “Very often it won’t be a direct attack but it will be more of the ‘I would never’ dig.

“It takes a lot of confidence to know who you really are when becoming a mother and it’s not something you can prepare or practise.”

Gillian Franklin, the chief executive of the company that carried out the survey, said women should be ­encouraging their friends.

“We need to release women from the guilt, and help them make choices on their own terms,” she said.


Tasmania is on the brink of an entirely avoidable power crisis

Because of Green bribery for "renewable" power from the former Gillard government, Tasmania ran down its big hydro dams.  So the water is not now there when it is needed to cover a drought

Tasmania appears to be on the brink of a crisis, with the island state only weeks away from serious blackouts if there is no significant rainfall.

The seriousness of the issue at hand isn’t suggested by Techly as being down to mismanagement by Tasmanian officials, simply a sequence of unforeseen problems.

Multiple sources in Tasmania and the mainland describe the situation as dire.

Tasmania has just two months supply of water to feed its hydroelectric dams, unless there is significant rainfall. Energy storage, or the level of water available to generate hydro-power, is at historic lows. Rainfall into catchment areas in the past 12-months has been around one-third of projected rainfall, based on thirty-year modelling. Without hydropower, Tasmania’s energy demands at normal peaks far exceed current generation.

Dam levels were reduced during the carbon tax era, where hydroelectric or carbon neutral power generation was extremely valuable. Hydro Tasmania, the body who maintain and run a series of 55 major dams and 30 hydropower stations within, was very profitable during this time, as it drained water for great revenues.

Indeed, in the quirks of the carbon tax arrangements, the sale of renewable energy certificates or RECs accounted for more than 70 per cent of revenue inflows. (It is not suggested that reducing dam levels during this time was malfeasant.)

Basslink. Tasmania is supplied both power and data connections via the Basslink submarine cable. That cable is no small matter – it runs for 370 kilometres undersea, it is rated to 500MW and cost over a half a billion dollars to install between 2003-06, including testing and commissioning.

However, on 21 December 2015, it was announced the Basslink was disconnected due to a faulty interconnector. Given the cable is underwater, and the fault was located as around approximately 100 kilometres off the Tasmanian coast, the Basslink controlling body called Basslink first announced that it would be repaired and returned to service by 19 March 2016.

That date has since fallen into the abyss as more than 100 experts, including 16 or more from Italy, plus a specialist ship, try to fix the cable. Basslink advised on March 13th that the cable would be fixed by late May.

Normally, a Basslink outage isn’t a big deal. The mainland has to adjust how it distributes power across the Eastern Seaboard, and given the cable supplies an absolute peak of 500MW, it doesn’t shoulder the entire load, but provides greater flexibility for operators, and reduces the average cost of power. It also helps to balance peak and off-peak loads across the grid.

Additional power from non-renewables in Tasmania includes three significant gas turbine and thermal power stations which provide 535 MWh of power at full capacity.

But Tasmania has far more hydroelectric power – more than 2300MW of hydropower at full capacity.

Techly understands that if Basslink can’t be fixed for an economic cost, it may not be fixed at all, depending on the assessments currently underway.


Federal election 2016: Bernardi risks Lib split with new group

Rightwing Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has laid the groundwork to launch a new political force, the Australian Conservatives, to “give a voice back to Australia’s forgotten people”.

In a move that risks further splintering the Turnbull government, a company controlled by the South Australian senator’s wife has applied to trademark the name and logos of the new group, with the stated aim of providing the “services of a political party”.

Senator Bernardi, who in ­September warned of a possible schism of the Liberal Party if Malcolm Turnbull did not uphold the party’s “distinctly conservative” character, yesterday described the Australian Conservatives as a program of his existing Conservative Leadership Foundation.

He would not provide further details about what the program ­involved or give an assurance he would not leave the Liberals to lead a breakaway party.

In a rousing email to supporters on Monday, Senator Bernardi ­referred repeatedly to the “silent majority of Australian Conservatives” who were challenging “the leftist agenda of big government and decaying society”.

“Unless the mainstream parties connect with the ‘forgotten people’ they will choose a different path. It’s a global phenomenon and would be foolish to think it won’t emerge in Australia,” he wrote, citing the rise of Donald Trump.

“My mission (is) to build a movement that will change politics. To fight against the tyranny of political correctness and give a voice back to Australia’s forgotten people.

“That’s what Sir Robert Menzies sought to do over 70 years ago in forming the Liberal Party. It’s time Australian Conservatives ­reclaimed Menzies’s vision.”

After Mr Turnbull seized the prime ministership in September, Senator Bernardi raised the prospect of a split in the Liberal Party unless it maintained a “distinctly conservative vision”.

“I don’t want it to come to that,” he said at the time. “I want us to be a mainstream conservative party, rather than just a vehicle for ­‘anything goes, as long as I can climb the greasy pole’.”

The senator yesterday would not say whether the risk of a party split had subsided.

Senator Bernardi, a conservative stalwart, regards Islam as a ­“totalitarian political and religious ideology” and strongly opposes gay-friendly initiatives such as same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools Coalition anti-bullying program. His foundation aims to train young conservatives to effectively advocate political change through business, media, academic, political and community organisations.

Senator Bernardi is not due to face re-election until 2019 in a standard half-Senate election, but would be up for election this year if the Prime Minister proceeds with his threat of a July 2 double dissolution.

The Liberal Party’s conservative fringe is being wooed by the Australian Liberty Alliance, which draws inspiration from populist Dutch MP Geert Wilders and champions a 10-year moratorium on Muslim immigration.

Tony Abbott in February warned the Liberal base would “flirt” with “more extreme alternatives” such as the ALA unless the Turnbull government maintained tough immigration and counter-terrorism policies. Mr Abbott has long cautioned against allowing fringe politicians to erode the Liberal base.


27 March, 2016

Why can't the Queensland police be polite?

The English police are traditionally polite so it's not impossible.

An elderly couple I know recently were "raided" by police in search of pornography.  I once had my car stolen and offered good evidence about who stole it but they weren't interested.  So pornography is more important than car theft?

The lady of the house is completely computer illiterate and the husband just uses his old computer to play solitaire.  But six cops and a computer expert barged into the house and ordered the couple around, leaving the lady in some distress.

And the husband has a heart problem.  What might the stress have done to him?

The police found nothing.  Why were they there in the first place?  Bungledom amplified by arrogance.

Oliver Cromwell's famous plea to some stiff-necked Scots could well apply to the Queensland police: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken".  The plea was ignored by those to whom it was addressed -- to their great woe.

Australian refugee intake will minimise single Sunni men, favour Christians

Is Australia the only country in the world with a sane refugee policy?

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says ‘we have a problem with second or third-generation new Australians (who) are radicalising online’.

Australia will minimise its intake of single Sunni men as it vets the 12,000 Syrian refugees the government has pledged to take from Syria, prioritising instead Christian family groups who can never return home.

As Malcolm Turnbull fended off suggestions he had conflated the European refugee crisis with the terror attacks in Brussels and Paris, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Australia had “a problem’’ with second and third-generation migrants who become extremists.

Speaking after Belgium’s ambassador to Australia, Jean-Luc Bodson, chided the government for connecting the Brussels terror attack with ­Europe’s migrant policies, Mr Dutton said some Euro­pean countries had adopted a “more passive’’ approach to terrorism and the challenges it posed to Western values.

“There’s been a different ­approach in some European ­nations to terrorists, a more passive approach,’’ Mr Dutton said. “That’s not the case in Australia. We’re not going to tolerate any view at all which is designed to kill off the Australian way of life or cause mass harm.’’

Mr Dutton also drew a connection between Australia’s migration program and homegrown extremists, many of whom have been second-generation Lebanese or Afghan migrants.

“We have a problem in this country with second or third-­generation new Australians and people that are radicalising online, people who believe that they owe some ­allegiance to another part of the world.’’

On Thursday, a day after the Prime Minister delivered a speech critiquing Europe’s migration policies, Mr Bodson said the ­remarks were “dangerous’’.

‘’It’s precisely what (Islamic State) wants,’’ the Belgian envoy said. “That we would make a confusion between terrorism and ­migrants and between terrorism and Islam.’’

The comments came after Mr Turnbull accused Islamic State of exploiting the European refugee crisis, which has been caused by the Syrian civil war, to smuggle its operatives in among the millions of refugees streaming into southern Europe.

On Thursday, Mr Turnbull told the ABC his words were “carefully checked’’ by his security advisers.  “I don’t think anyone would ­seriously doubt what I said,’’ Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Dutton said so far fewer than 100 of the 12,000 refugees Australia had pledged to take from war-ravaged Syria or northern Iraq had arrived in the country.

The government has said it would prioritise persecuted min­orities in choosing the 12,000, widely understood to be code for non-­Islamic migrants.

Christian groups, such as Yaz­idis, who have been massacred and enslaved by Islamic State in northern Iraq, will be given preference, partly because — unlike Sunni groups — they will never be able to return to their homes.

Authorities will largely pass over refugees from high-risk groups, such as single Sunni men.

The government has pledged to vet the 12,000 new migrants, subjecting them to biometric checks as well as checking their bona fides with Australia’s intelligence partners.


Belgium ambassador to Australia labels Malcolm Turnbull’s comments as ‘dangerous’

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has stood by his warning that terror group Islamic State was using the Syrian refugee crisis as a way to smuggle extremists into Europe.

Despite offending Belgium’s ambassador to Australia and ignoring Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel’s request for solidarity, Mr Turnbull linked the Brussels terror attacks to Europe’s refugee crisis during a speech at the Lowy Institute this week.

“The attacks in Brussels are an unfortunate reminder of how violent Islamist extremism appears to have reached a crisis point in Europe,” Mr Turnbull said.

“European governments are confronted by a perfect storm of failed or neglected integration, foreign fighters returning from Iraq and Syria, porous borders and intelligence and security apparatus struggling to keep pace with the scope and breadth of the threat.”

Mr Turnbull quoted Bernard Squarcini, a former head of France’s domestic intelligence agency, the Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence, describing these factors as creating “a favourable ecosystem for an Islamist milieu”.

“The external borders are difficult to manage. Recent intelligence indicates that ISIL is using the refugee crisis to send operatives into Europe.”

Belgium’s Ambassador to Australia, Jean-Luc Bodson, fired back, describing the comments as “dangerous, because it’s precisely what ISIS wants — that we would make a confusion between terrorism and migrants and between terrorism and Islam,” Mr Bodson told ABC News.

“Our Prime Minister during his first press conference yesterday, actually asked for solidarity, and asked for people not to blame one community, because it’s the worst thing we could do and it is the most counter productive.

“My view is that the terrorists who committed the latest attacks and in Paris and in Belgium are European-raised and born. Maybe from foreign origins, but they are Europeans.

“So it has nothing to do with the refugee crisis and I think that is the main danger to assimilate that.”

In a heated interview on Lateline with host Tony Jones last night, Mr Turnbull responded to claims he’d gone too far, backing his stance by assuring “everything I said was carefully checked by my security advisers”.

“My job as Prime Minister of Australia is to explain these events to Australians and in particular to explain the context, to explain where there are similarities and where there are differences,” he said.

“And there are very big differences between the security environment in Europe and Australia.

“We have a much more successful multicultural society than many European countries and we have stronger borders.

“I don’t think anyone would seriously doubt what I said.

“There is an enormous flood of refugees going into Europe and of course it’s very challenging for the Europeans. There is a very serious crisis. The humanitarian crisis in Syria of course is of a scale not seen for many, many years.

“It is not entirely without precedent of course but it is an extraordinary one — millions of people fleeing that unhappy country and many of them of course going into Europe.

“It strains the resources of the security services and the border agencies in Europe.”

Mr Jones quizzed Mr Turnbull as to whether fear of importing terrorists accounted for the reason that just 26 Syrian refugees have arrived in Australia, despite pledging an intake of 12,000.

“We are taking great care. We take security and border protection very seriously,” he replied.

“We are not afeared. We look at this in a very clear-eyed way and we protect the security of Australians diligently and in a very realistic and pragmatic way.

“Bringing people in from that environment demands that there be careful security checks, whether they are part of the 12,000 additional refugee places or the normal humanitarian intake. And ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) and our other agencies — the AFP (Australian Federal Police) and so forth — are taking great care in ensuring that those people who come in are as far as we can ascertain, not people that would pose any security risk to Australians.

“And we make no apology for that. My job as Prime Minister of Australia, first and foremost, is to keep Australians safe.”


Computers in class ‘a scandalous waste’: Sydney Grammar head

A top Australian school has banned laptops in class, warning that technology “distracts’’ from old-school quality teaching.

The headmaster of Sydney Grammar School, John Vallance, yesterday described the billions of dollars spent on computers in Australian schools over the past seven years as a “scandalous waste of money’’.

“I’ve seen so many schools with limited budgets spending a disproportionate amount of their money on technology that doesn’t really bring any measurable, or non-measurable, benefits,’’ he said.

“Schools have spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars­ on interactive whiteboards, digital projectors, and now they’re all being jettisoned.’’

Sydney Grammar has banned students from bringing laptops to school, even in the senior years, and requires them to handwrite assignments and essays until Year 10. Its old-school policy bucks the prevailing trend in most Aus­tralian high schools, and many primary schools, to require parents­ to purchase laptops for use in the classroom.

Dr Vallance said the Rudd-­Gillard government’s $2.4 billion Digital Education Revolution, which used taxpayer funds to buy laptops for high school students, was money wasted. “It didn’t really do anything except enrich Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard and Apple,’’ he said. “They’ve got very powerful lobby influence in the educational community.’’

Sydney Grammar students have access to computers in the school computer lab, and use laptops at home.

But Dr Vallance regards­ laptops as a distraction in the classroom. “We see teaching as fundamentally a social activity,’’ he said. “It’s about interaction ­between people, about discussion, about conversation.

“We find that having laptops or iPads in the classroom inhibit conversation — it’s distracting.

“If you’re lucky enough to have a good teacher and a motivating group of classmates, it would seem a waste to introduce anything that’s going to be a distraction from the benefits that kind of social context will give you.’’

Academically, Sydney Grammar rates among Australia’s top-performing schools, and is frequented by the sons of Sydney’s business and political elite. Almost one in five of its Year 12 graduates placed in the top 1 per cent of Australian students for Australian Tertiary Admission Rank university entry scores last year.

The school’s alumni includes three prime ministers — Malcolm Turnbull, who attended on a scholarship, Edmund Barton and William McMahon — as well as bush poet Banjo Paterson and business chief David Gonski, the architect of a needs-based funding model to help disadvantaged students.

The private boys’ school, which charges fees of $32,644 a year, routinely tops the league tables in the national literacy and numeracy tests.

Dr Vallance said he preferred to spend on teaching staff than on technology. “In the schools where they have laptops, they get stolen, they get dropped in the playground, they get broken, you have to hire extra staff to fix them, you’ve got to replace them every few years. They end up being massive lines in the budgets of schools which at the same time have leaky toilets and rooves and ramshackle buildings.

“If I had a choice between filling a classroom with laptops or hiring another teacher, I’d take the other teacher every day of the week.’’

Dr Vallance — who will step down as headmaster next year, after 18 years in the job — is a Cambridge scholar, a trustee of the State Library of NSW Foundation and a director of the National Art School.

In 2014 the Coalition government appointed him as a specialist reviewer of the national arts curriculum, which he criticised as “rambling, vague and patronising’’ with “a tendency towards the elimination of rigour’’.

Dr Vallance said yesterday laptops had “introduced a great deal of slackness’’ in teaching. “It’s made it much easier of giving the illusion of having prepared a lesson,’’ he said.

He also criticised as “crazy’’ plans by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority to computerise the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy tests next year.

“That means generations of students will be doing NAPLAN on computers, they won’t be allowed to write by hand, which I think is crazy,’’ he said. “Allowing children to lose that capacity to express themselves by writing is a very dangerous thing.’’

Dr Vallance said Sydney Grammar had been studying the difference between handwritten and computer-typed tasks among boys in Year 3 and Year 5.

“In creative writing tasks, they find it much easier to write by hand, to put their ideas down on a piece of paper, than they do with a keyboard,’’ he said.

Dr Vallance said he was sure people would call him a “dinosaur’’. “But I’m in no way anti-technology,’’ he said. “I love gadgets. It’s partly because we all love gadgets so much that we have these rules, otherwise we’d all just muck about. Technology is a servant, not a master.

“You can’t end up allowing the tail to wag the dog, which I think it is at the moment.’’

Dr Vallance said computers in the classroom robbed children of the chance to debate and discuss ideas with the teacher.

“One of the most powerful tools in education is conversation,’’ he said.

“The digital delivery of teaching materials across Australia has had a really powerful normative effect.

“It’s making it quite difficult for children to learn how to disagree, how not to toe the party line, because they can’t question things — the possibility of questioning things has been taken away from them.’’

Dr Vallance said it was a “really scandalous situation’’ that Australia was “spending more on education than ever before and the results are gradually getting worse and worse’’. He said it cost $250,000-$500,000 to equip a moderate-sized high school with interactive whiteboards, which are only used at Sydney Grammar if teachers request them. “That’s a huge amount of money in the life of a school, that could translate to quite a few good members of staff,’’ he said.

“I think when people come to write the history of this period in education … this investment in classroom technology is going to be seen as a huge fraud.’’

The OECD has also questioned the growing reliance on technology in schools. In a report last year, it said schools must give students a solid foundation in reading, writing and maths before introducing computers. It found that heavy users of computers in the classroom “do a lot worse in most learning outcomes’’.

“In the end, technology can amplify great teaching, but great technology cannot replace poor teaching,’’ the OECD report concluded.


25 March, 2016

What is Lyme Disease?

Australia has lots of ticks but Lyme-type diseases in Australia seem to be caused by a different organism to that seen in North America -- so the same therapy does not work

"I’VE been diagnosed with Lyme disease but no one believes me," my patient says, handing me a thick pile of blood test results from America.

I’m immediately concerned. She’s obviously unwell and looking for answers, but I’ve seen patients with similar results and I’m worried she’s being scammed.

Lyme disease is real, but there’s no scientific proof that it’s occurring in Australia. My patient has never travelled to an area known to have Lyme disease, so I know she’s been given the wrong information somewhere along the line.

Borrelia is the cause of Lyme disease and this bacteria is transmitted to humans via tick bites in North America and Europe.

My patient explained that after months of fatigue, muscle pain and headaches she wasn’t getting anywhere with her usual doctor. In desperation, she consulted Dr Google and quickly diagnosed herself with Lyme.

She read internet forums and learned about a "Great Australian Lyme Conspiracy", where regular doctors don’t believe that Lyme even exists, but she felt hopeful when she discovered the name of a charismatic Lyme practitioner.

She travelled a long way to attend his Lyme clinic and he backed up her diagnosis. He explained that local pathology labs never gave correct results, but a special lab in America would confirm their fears.

She sent her blood overseas and paid more than a thousand dollars to receive a positive diagnosis of Lyme disease from an unaccredited lab.

Pathology labs in Australia are asked to comply with strict guidelines. They’re closely monitored and accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA), an organisation that ensures patients receive accurate results.

Patients who’ve been bitten by ticks in Australia have their blood tested at accredited labs all the time, but so far we haven’t seen a test come back positive for Borrelia infection.

Lyme activists will tell you that NATA-accredited labs don’t detect Borrelia because their machines aren’t sensitive enough to pick it up. The truth is that unaccredited labs aren’t specific enough, and tend to deliver positive results for Borrelia whether you’ve got Lyme disease or not.

My patient was told that Borrelia was all through her body, eating her joints and rotting her brain, and her Lyme practitioner recommended a long course of high-dose antibiotics.

Panicked by this horrific news and desperate to get her old Lyme-free life back, she obediently commenced treatment. Six months on and feeling much worse than when she’d started, she attended my clinic looking for more help.

When this all began, she was definitely sick. Australians are getting a mysterious illness from tick bites all the time. We don’t know what it is, but we know it’s not Lyme.

Lyme activists are not known to be scientific, but are known to be politically powerful. In 2013 they pressured the Australian government to investigate Lyme disease and in response, the Chief Medical Officer formed the Clinical Advisory Committee on Lyme disease (CACLD).

In 2014 the CACLD concluded that there was "no routine finding of Borrelia in ticks in Australia" and recommended that further research was necessary to find a cause of this mysterious illness affecting Australians. An updated statement was released in February 2016 by the Department of Health, reiterating that "so far there is no conclusive evidence of a causative agent in Australia".

It’s already bad enough that Australian patients are provided with unvalidated results, but even if they were infected with Borrelia, the therapy offered by Lyme practitioners doesn’t follow therapeutic guidelines.

Using up to four weeks of antibiotics is the treatment recommended to eradicate Borrelia. This makes most people feel better, but some patients continue to feel unwell after Borrelia is long gone. This is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome and is caused by the bacteria triggering the immune system to cause chronic inflammation.

Local patients don’t get better from their first month of antibiotics (because they don’t have Lyme disease) so some practitioners try harder and increase the dose or extend the treatment for 12 months or more, and it still doesn’t work.

My patient fell into this camp. She felt worse than when she’d started treatment and I diagnosed her with severe jaundice due to drug-induced hepatitis. In other words, she was bright yellow because the high-dose antibiotics were causing liver failure.

I sent her straight to hospital in an attempt to save her liver and her life.

She was definitely unwell to begin with, but science is yet to confirm the cause of her mysterious tick-borne disease. Treating her blindly for Lyme was not the right way to go.

Political pressure from Lyme activists has resulted in a Senate Inquiry which is now underway. I’m hopeful that the Senate will uncover the actual ‘Great Australian Lyme Conspiracy’, where vulnerable patients are being scammed with expensive unaccredited tests, where unscientific and untruthful diagnoses are handed out, and where inappropriate and bogus treatments are endangering the lives of already unwell people.

Please note that this information is not an opinion, but has been written in consultation with some of Australia’s leading infectious disease physicians and pathologists.

Let’s end the conspiracy and work together to find the true cause of this mysterious illness with science-based medicine. It’s only then that we might be able to find a cure.


We'll take back Iranians with pride: Zarif

Iran will take back failed asylum seekers "with pride" but only if they return voluntarily from Australia. 

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop held wide-ranging formal talks with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Canberra on Tuesday during the first visit by a senior Iranian minister in 13 years.  The pair discussed combating people-smuggling, boosting trade ties and global security issues.

Following the meeting, Dr Zarif said it was within Canberra's legal right to deport Iranians.

"We cannot force anybody to come back to Iran but if anybody wants to come back voluntarily, we always take our citizens with pride," he told reporters.

The prospects of securing a deal for the mandatory return of 9000 failed asylum seekers to Iran is looking slim with negotiations still in early stages.

A group of 30 Iranian democracy supporters rallied on the lawns of Parliament House protesting human rights abuses and the execution of political prisoners including women and children.

"Our message to the foreign minister is clear, stop the hangings in Iran, stop killing innocent people," spokesman Mohammad Sadeghpour told AAP.

Dr Zarif said he was happy to talk about human rights but warned about the need for a more serious approach to discussions.

"Where human rights does not become an instrument of political pressure," he said.

Ms Bishop also raised Iran's controversial missile tests - namely the political circumstances surrounding the timing and how Iran was being perceived by the global community.

She said the proper legal process was for the UN Security Council to consider the matter.


Australia's boom made everybody richer but inequality remained

It's highly likely that you can't have it both ways. The poor don't create economic growth.  Rich people do. And "The poor ye always have with you"

Australia's 25 years of sustained economic growth in a highly unpredictable and volatile global economic environment is truly remarkable and unprecedented at the world stage. The country's outstanding run, however, stands out alongside increased public concern that poverty has remained  high and increasing, particularly for certain population groups.

The Poverty Report published in 2014 by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) reports that 2.55 million Australian residents lived below the poverty line in 2012.  This is about 14 per cent of all Australian residents in 2012.

One widely held view has been that Australia's economic growth does not reach the poor as fully as it does other members of society. This demands the question, "How good has Australia's economic growth been for the poor?"

To set the scene, an overview of significant economic events from that point on is instructive. In 1993, Australia was just coming out of a deep recession, and the Hawke-Keating government led recovery by continuing on with the economic liberalisation reforms that lifted the economy up in the mid-1980s. 

When the Liberals were voted to power in 1996, the Howard government moved swiftly to reduce government expenditure, prioritise a return to budget surplus and instigate industrial relations reforms to further speed up economic recovery. The short-term pains that accompanied these reforms were rationalised as unfortunate but necessary for achieving economic efficiencies critical for the long-term growth performance of the economy.

It was apparent that equity was less important as a reform goal, despite the political rhetoric.

In the 1990s, Australia's economic performance was characterised by low inflation targeting and high productivity. The first is a lesson learned from the last recession, and the latter is a result obtained from a long process of labour pro-market reforms dating back from the 1980s and which culminated in a formal shift towards enterprise bargaining early on in the Howard regime. Australia grew strongly under these policies. Towards the end of the decade, the country's economic growth was quite robust so much so that the economy got through the severe Asian financial crises of 1998 virtually unscathed.
Tax and mining

In the 2000s, the Australian economy continued to grow strongly on the back of a successful tax reform program introduced in the early years, and the Australian mining boom. Experts estimate the boom to have officially started in 2004, when Australian minerals had a surge in commodity prices and a tremendous increase in the trade of terms, particularly with China.

A second stage is identified to have begun in late 2005, when sustained international demand for our minerals led mining companies to reinvestment their superprofits by opening up new mines, building new infrastructure and acquiring/developing new technologies – all to accommodate growth in demand. It is this capital investment stage that is known to have peaked in 2013, and signalled the end of the mining boom. Through that 2004 to 2013 period, Australia had a change of government.

As well, the global recession of 2008 seriously threatened the stability of the economy.  The Australian economy, however, continued to grow through all these hurdles, albeit at reduced rates. Fact is, the economy did so well that Australia topped the list of countries that were least affected by the global financial crisis, where this included China, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Sweden among others.
Gap grows wider

So, back to the question: Is Australia's growth good for the poor? Our research investigations show that between 1993 and 2009, mean household incomes steadily increased by 76 per cent or 4.7 per cent per annum. So incomes were growing as the economy was growing.  Our calculations, however, also reveal that economic inequality – the gap between the rich and the poor, as measured by the Gini coefficient – increased by 8.6 per cent over that same period.

A deeper look into this showed that inequality levels worsened relatively slowly between 1993 and 2003, at a total overall rate of just 2.4 per cent for the entire 11-year period (or about 0.22 per cent each year); while inequality levels rose sharply by 8.6 per cent overall between 2003 and 2009 (this translates to a 1.4 per cent increase in inequality level each year in that  six-year period). So, the gap between the rich and the poor increased as the economy grew, and it increased more sharply after the global financial crisis.

With regards to poverty, our calculations show that national poverty rates appeared steady at 11 per cent between 1993 and 2010, but in fact, poverty estimates followed a U-curve path during that 17-year period. More specifically, we found that poverty rates decreased by 10 per cent between 1993 and 1998; but from 1998 to 2010, poverty rates increased by about 0.6 per cent per annum or a total of 6.4 per cent. This latter 13-year period can be further divided into 1998-2003 and 2004-09, where the second period incorporates the global recession of 2008.

Our calculations show that poverty rates increased during both four-year periods, but it is curious to find  that the increase in poverty rates during the recession-free period of 1998-2003 was larger than the increase in poverty rates observed in the recession-riddled period of 2003-09.

Proper econometric analysis needs to be undertaken to determine any causal effects of growth on poverty and inequality, but these results from our initial explorations are telling. Overall, we find that average household incomes increased as the economy grew in the 1990s, but economic inequality also increased through the period.

Poverty rates appeared to have decreased with growth in the early years, but this did not last, presumably because the global crisis dominated outcomes in the economy including an increase in overall poverty levels in the last few years.
The lessons

What do these tell us about long-run growth and poverty reduction?  First is that economic growth is a powerful instrument for reducing poverty. Empirical evidence supports this statement and the experience of many advanced and emerging countries demonstrate the powerful influence that growth can have on poverty alleviation.   Second is that inequality can worsen as the economy grows.

This is what we find for Australia, and it implies that the income of poor households grew slower than the growth of average income, and/or that the income of the rich grew faster than the average income. Third is that economic growth is not a sufficient condition for poverty reduction. As we can see in Australia, poverty can increase even whilst the economy is growing.

For any government, it is very clear that the aim to reduce poverty levels over a desired period of time must have, at its core, measures to promote rapid and sustained economic growth.


Some refugees refused asylum in Australia over security concerns

Some people wanting to come to Australia under the expanded refugee program have been flagged as security risks, Justice Minister Michael Keenan says.

The Abbott government last year pledged to take 12,000 extra refugees from Iraq and Syria as part of a one-off intake.

As of last week, fewer than 30 refugees had been resettled in Australia under the program, although about 9,000 people were partway through the security check process.

Mr Keenan told the ABC today strict security checks had been put in place to ensure no-one viewed as a risk would be granted asylum in Australia.

He could not provide a number of those refused asylum, but said the number was "relatively minimal".

"I understand there's been a couple of people ... flagged within that process and again the Australian people should be reassured that [when] 12,000 do arrive in Australia, [they] have been rigorously vetted and they will not pose any security risk."


SA Police settle homeless man’s $100,000 brutality lawsuit out of court, second man now missing

ONE of two homeless men who were bashed by a baton-wielding SA Police officer in the city has received an out-of-court settlement — while the other has gone missing.

On Thursday, the Adelaide Magistrates Court heard Christopher John Mackie had been offered a settlement in his $100,000 lawsuit.

All that remains is for Mr Mackie — who left SA and has refused to return, still fearful after his ordeal — to sign off on the offer.

However his friend, Shaun Robert Jones, will receive no money after the court dismissed his claim for want of prosecution.  The court was told Mr Jones went missing in Alice Springs last October, and the search for him had since been called off.

Last year, Mr Jones and Mr Mackie filed excessive force and assault compensation claims against SA Police and Constable Matthew Schwarz.

The lawsuits arose from an incident at Whitmore Square in
December 2012, which was filmed by Channel 7 and, when shown on television and, caused a public furore.

Mr Jones and Mr Mackie were charged over the incident and, at trial, Const Schwarz admitted striking them repeatedly because he feared his weapon “wasn’t working”.

The court condemned his evidence, threw out the charges and ordered SA Police pay $35,000 in court costs.

On Thursday Andrew Carpenter, for the men, said Mr Mackie’s claim was close to being resolved.  “We have reached an in-principle settlement and need only for the terms to be finalised,” he said.

“We have the difficulty of trying to get instructions from our client, who has since last year moved to a remote part of Australia.  “He’s quite scared of returning to the state based on the assault.”

Mr Carpenter asked for six weeks to obtain his client’s signature, and said he could “neither reject nor agree to” SA Police’s application to dismiss Mr Jones’ claim.

“We’ve had no instructions ... I was advised by Mr Mackie in October last year that Mr Jones was missing,” he said. “I’ve been in contact with missing persons in the NT, multiple times, and of late they had called off the search.”

Magistrate Brionny Kennewell granted the adjournment, dismissed Mr Jones’ claim and refused SA Police’s application for costs.


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

24 March, 2016

Turnbull Government to strip $1.3 billion from renewables

Below is an enraged whine from the vested interests created by the global warming nonsense.  At a time of budget difficulties, Mr Turnbull is to be congratulated for cutting useless expenditure
The Turnbull Government has today announced plans to strip $1.3 billion in renewable energy budget funding, according to the Australian Solar Council – the peak body for the solar industry.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s Clean Energy Investment Fund is like an exquisitely decorated Easter Egg. It looks great on the outside, but inside it’s a rotten egg”.

“The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has $1.3 billion in allocated and unspent funds between 2016-2022.  The Government has announced it will replace this with $1 billion in funds between 2016 and 2026, taken from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s existing $10 billion budget.”

That amounts to $1.3 billion in funding stripped from ARENA and $1 billion reallocated from within the CEFC.

“The governments ‘beautiful $1bn renewables Easter Egg’ is actually a $1.3bn cut in funding for renewables overall.”

Further the Turnbull Government has announced that early stage renewable R&D and commercialisation will now be majority funded by debt and equity.

“By its very nature early stage research is speculative.  Almost no projects will be fundable under this model.  This will rip the guts out of renewables innovation in Australia”.

 “The Turnbull Government has  tried unsuccessfully to abolish ARENA and the CEFC. This is a backdoor way to gut ARENA.”

 “ARENA has played a critical role in supporting research and development and early stage commercialisation of renewable energy projects through grant funding. Stripping its budget, taking away funding for early stage commercialisation, and directing the money be spent on non-renewables projects, achieves its goal through other means.”

Press release

Self-determination dream has turned into nightmare

Jeremy Sammut

Stan Grant's much-publicised new book, Talking to My Country claims the nation is yet to be held properly to account for its historic crimes and injustices against Indigenous peoples.

He argues Indigenous Australians experience different outcomes in life to other Australians because of the history of colonial oppression.

This is a questionable explanation for contemporary Indigenous disadvantage. The original sins of Australia's founding were acknowledged in the 1970s when they formed the basis of the policy of Aboriginal self-determination, which was specifically intended to right the wrongs of history by allowing Aborigine people to live in traditional ways on their traditional country with communal ownership and no private property rights.

Ironically, the most disastrous event that has caused the greatest suffering for indigenous people has been the implementation of the policy of Aboriginal self-determination to address the legacies of racism, imperialism, and colonialism.

The dysfunction that blights Indigenous communities is not due to the nation having done too little to address history's sins, but due to having addressed these sins in a way that has ultimately condemned too many Indigenous Australians to poverty.

Grant does not see it that way. Instead he writes, that due to colonialisation, Indigenous people are "without land" and "people with no land are poor."

This is profoundly untrue. Aboriginal self-determination has meant that the poorest indigenous Australians, who live in the remote homeland communities with the worst problems, are those who have continued to live closest to a traditional manner and on their traditional country.

The richest Indigenous Australians might not own their ancestor's country, but they are healthy and wealthy because they have seized the opportunities of education and employment in mainstream Australia. They have escaped the 'dream' of self-determination -- a dream that has long turned into a nightmare.


Homosexual arrogance

Safe Schools operatives have been coaching educators to dismiss parental concerns over the contentious sex and gender-­diversity program, asserting that parents are powerless to shut it down.

A Safe Schools national symposium was told by the program’s Victorian co-ordinator, Roz Ward, that schools could ­ignore concerns raised about the agenda.

“When people do complain then school leadership can very calmly and graciously say, ‘You know what? We’re doing it anyway, tough luck’!” she told more than 300 attendees.

Leaked video footage from the event, which emerged at the weekend, also appears to confirm what critics of the program have long suspected: that it was more about promoting radical political ideas around sexuality and gender than preventing schoolyard bullying.

“(It’s) not about celebrating diversity; not about stopping bullying,” Ms Ward said.  “(It’s) about gender and sexual diversity. About same-sex ­attractive, about being transgender, about being lesbian, gay, ­bisexual — say the words — transgender, ­intersex. Not just, ‘Be nice to everyone; everyone’s great’.”

Safe Schools project manager Joel Radcliffe, a fellow academic at La Trobe University, which spawned the program, told the audience that the issue of parental concern came up a lot when schools were considering whether to join the program.

“Parents … seem to have a lot of power (in) schools,” he said. “Parents don’t have the power to shut this down.”

The emergence of the video, which was shot in Melbourne in June 2014, follows the federal government’s decision on Friday to overhaul the taxpayer-funded program in light of an independent review.

Elements of the program, ­including homosexual role-play and asking students to consider gender as a fluid concept unaligned with sex at birth, have alarmed some parents.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has ordered organisers to curb their classroom campaign or lose their remaining $2 million in funding.  “Just as proselytising is not part of the school chaplaincy program, advocacy must not be part of the Safe Schools program,” Senator Birmingham said last week.

The Victorian government, which is pushing for the compulsory roll out of the program over the next few years, has said it will pick up the bill if the funding is cut, arguing that the program “saves lives”.

Launched in 2010, the program claims to be dedicated to creating “safe and inclusive” learning spaces for same-sex ­attracted, intersex and gender- diverse students.  It was created off the back of a campaign by the La Trobe University to elevate the interests of same-sex attracted youth in schools.

FamilyVoice Australia nat­ional research officer Ros Phillips said the video showed that the program was about pushing “rainbow ideology” not stopping bullying.

Ms Phillips said the organisation had received feedback from a significant number of parents who had been rebuffed when raising their concerns with principals.

A spokeswoman for the Safe Schools Coalition said the program aimed to reduce homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools.


Campbelltown Council votes against permanently flying the Aboriginal flag

CAMPBELLTOWN councillors have rejected a push to permanently fly the Aboriginal flag outside the council chambers, saying it would increase cultural divide rather than promote unity.

At a meeting last week, councillors narrowly voted against a request from its Reconciliation Advisory Committee to spend $2000 on a new flag pole so the Aboriginal flag could fly alongside the Australian flag.

Cr Max Amber told the meeting that permanently flying the Aboriginal flag would do more harm than good.

“I feel very strongly that the Australian flag, we fought two world wars under and numerous others, is the flag for all Australians,” Cr Amber said.

Cr Neville Grigg — with councillors Amber, James Nenke, John Kennedy and Dom Barbaro — was against flying the flag.

“This is separating the Australian into two separate peoples. “We are one Australia, we have one flag, and that’s the way it should stay.”

But Cr Marijka Ryan said flying the Aboriginal flag would help indigenous people, especially members of the Stolen Generation, heal and feel more accepted within the community.

“It would promote everything we value as a society, compassion, tolerance, acknowledgment of our history and respect from what is right,” Cr Ryan said.

“Flying the Aboriginal flag is not divisive, it’s not meant to offend, it’s meant for the good of those who were displaced in their own land and it’s a symbolic gesture.”

Aboriginal Elder Lowitja O’Donoghue was “gobsmacked and surprised” by the decision.

“I didn’t think it was a question anymore, anywhere, because the flag does fly everyday in most council areas.”

Campbelltown’s Reconciliation Advisory Committee was set up in 2005 to help develop projects and raise awareness of the significant Kaurna heritage in the area.

Mayor Simon Brewer and councillors Ryan and Jill Whittaker are on the committee, together with five independent members — three of them Aboriginal.

Mr Brewer condemned the council’s choice on his Facebook page and said he would now wear Aboriginal-inspired ties in place of official council ties at functions.

“In my view, in this more enlightened world, it is not flying the flag and recognising the special and unique place of Aboriginal people in Australia that is divisive,” Mr Brewer wrote.

“Until (the) council moves into the 21st century on this matter, the council tie is retired from this neck.”

The council will continue to fly the Aboriginal flag during NAIDOC Week.

It already flies the Australian flag, the State flag and the Campbelltown flag.


University of Sydney's Evangelical Union shouldn't have to give up its faith in fight against discrimation

Here is the new rule for student groups on campus at one of our leading universities: you can have any faith you like, as long as it's not any faith in particular.

As of November last year, the bolshie student politicians running the University of Sydney student union have voted to stop clubs and societies from defining themselves by reference to a particular creed. Because, er, discrimination, or something.

And the union's board has inaugurated this new reign of tolerance by deciding to kick one of its oldest and largest interdenominational faith based groups off campus. The Evangelical Union has been around doing its thing since the 1930s – my grandma was on the committee.

For 86 years they have been doing their same earnest and mildly irritating thing, floating around campus in  green T-shirts inviting people to interminable barbecues.

From March that must all stop. That is, unless the members of the Evangelical Union agree to make membership of the Evangelical Union about something other than being evangelical. The beliefs and principles which form the core basis of their association (and which their executive must sign up to) have to go, or else.

Olivia Ronan, vice president of the student union, sees it as an open and shut case of discrimination: in an interview with a student newspaper she explained that the student union is about "accessibility and inclusion" and so the board has decided that for associations to require particular beliefs of their executive "is no less exclusionary than requiring candidates to be of a particular sexuality or gender identity".

And she'd be absolutely right. If we were talking about "Electricians United" or the "Eurhythmics Union". But this is the "Evangelical Union": being out and proud as an evangelical is what the club is about.

It's not unlawful discrimination to make being on board with what the association is about a requirement for leadership in that club: it's what it means to freely associate with like-minded people. And inclusion is not the issue; as the green T-shirts will all too keenly inform you, they actually give discounts to encourage non-believers to take part in their activities.

We need anti-discrimination policies to address the wicked tendency of powerful people to exclude those they don't like (whether because of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation). Discrimination is discrimination because these factors are irrelevant to the inherent requirements of a job, or (in this case) the basis of the association.

It's good for us normally to be suspicious of faith-based requirements for membership. As a rule of thumb, someone's beliefs are usually irrelevant. But not always. Political views are no reason to ban someone from a restaurant. But political beliefs are a very good reason to decide who can sign up to a political party. By deciding that beliefs are never relevant to any association you're saying faith groups can't form associations.

The irony of using an anti-discrimination policy to justify violating the right to religious freedom appears to be lost on the USU board.  For five years, successive Evangelical Union leaders have patiently tried to explain to the union's staff and board members that a rather important part of protecting diversity is protecting the rights of diverse groups to associate. Indeed the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which Australia has signed) explicitly guarantees as much.

The USU vice president has responded to this (as only a law student could) by pointing out that the union board is not a signatory to the UN. Let's just pause on that for a second. The student union couldn't care less what one of the single most important international instruments on the subject of human rights actually says about the very rights they say they're trying to protect?

It's a dark day for anyone who cares about discrimination to see words designed to protect against religious discrimination used to banish faith-based groups.

Protecting freedom of religion by attacking faith communities' freedom to associate? The union board has missed the irony. Or perhaps they just don't like religious groups, and want them, and their annoying T-shirts, off campus for good.


23 March, 2016


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is a bit confused about what a double dissolution implies

Two analyses of educational testing (NAPLAN) data:  An intelligent one and a dumb one

The Grattan institute has issued a  vast and discursive research report which Alexandra Smith (below) has tried to summarize.  She fails.   It said nothing much about "disadvantaged" schools.  What it focused on was educational performance after year 3. It found that the gap between low achieving and high achieving schoolkids gets greater with every year after level 3.  But the authors have no idea why and offer policy recommendations that are therefore useless.  The Grattan Institute is a Left-leaning outfit.

Any student of IQ, however, knows what is going on.  As Charles Murray showed 20 years ago, the genetic influence on IQ increases steadily with age -- up to about age 30.  Genetics steadily overcomes environmental influences.  And then there is the related  Chimpanzee effect, the general rule that final IQ will be reached more slowly the higher is the final level. So dumb and bright individuals may start out at a similar intellectual level but the bright individual will steadily pull ahead of the dumb one.  And school performance is heavily influenced by IQ.

So the findings of the first analysis are fully explained by IQ.  Both smart and dumb kids get brighter up to a point but the high IQ kids get MUCH brighter.  And no-one has ever found a way to change that.  As Jesus said, "For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath" (Mark 4:25).

The second analysis below is also explained as an effect of IQ.  Maths and reading skills are central to IQ so that they were found to be highly genetic in origin is yet another one of thousands of findings that have shown IQ to be highly genetic in origin.

1).  Bright kids fall behind at disadvantaged schools

Bright students at disadvantaged schools lag at least two years behind their peers from wealthier schools and struggling students from poor backgrounds continue to fall behind with each year of school, a new analysis of NAPLAN data reveals.

The analysis, in a report by public policy think-tank the Grattan Institute, found that the learning gaps between Australian students of different backgrounds are "alarmingly wide" and worsen as students move through school.

Even if students were doing as well in Year 3, those from a disadvantaged background make one to two years less progress than students whose parents have higher levels of education, the report says.

Bright kids in disadvantaged schools suffer the biggest losses, the report says, making 2½ years less progress than students with similar capabilities in more advantaged schools.

"When kids are performing at the same level from the same starting point, it is pretty shocking that they can then fall behind 2½ years depending on what school they are at," the director of the institute's school education program, Peter Goss, said.

The spread of student achievement more than doubles as students move through school, the report says.

The middle 60 per cent of students in Year 3 are working within a 2½-year range, the report says. By Year 9, the spread for these students has grown to 5½ years.

"The report also shows that in a typical Year 9 class, the top students can be more than seven years ahead of the bottom students," the report says.


2). Maths and reading skills found to be 75 per cent genetic

Australian research into the academic performance of twins in NAPLAN tests has revealed that skills in maths, reading and spelling are up to 75 per cent genetic.  Genetics also had a 50 per cent impact on writing skills.

In stark contrast, the influence of teachers and schools on students was only found to be around 5 per cent, when looking at why children performed better or worse than their peers.

The research has been conducted by Emeritus Professor Brian Byrne and colleagues at the Centre of Excellence for Cognition and its Disorders, and the University of New England.

Byrne is a guest on this week's episode of Insight, sharing his views on how research into twins can deepen our understanding of the general population.

The research will shortly be published in full, with much of the peer review process complete. Some parts of the study have already been published.

Byrne and his colleagues were allowed access to around 3000 sets of twins and were able to look at their academic performance in literacy and numeracy NAPLAN tests in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

The results were surprising.

Families, teachers and schools had a much more modest contribution when explaining the difference in academic performance of children in the same grade or class. 

The majority of difference between students’ abilities in literacy and numeracy were instead attributable to their genetic make-up.

Writing skills were the least influenced by genetics – only about 50 per cent.  Genetic influences on reading, spelling and mathematics abilities were found to be between 50-75 per cent.

The findings back up earlier research done in the UK.

“Genes are the things that are, for the most part, driving differences among children, and not different teachers or even different schools,” Byrne told Insight’s Jenny Brockie, during filming of the show’s feature on twins.

Byrne says his findings “undermine the idea that a really, really big player in how well children are doing is teacher qualifications and a teacher's education.”

He stresses that the research does not show teachers’ influence is negligible; rather, it shows they are uniformly well-trained and high-performing, keeping students’ academic performance at national standards regardless of which teacher children are given or which school they go to.

“Teachers really matter,” he reiterates.

“The reason why a child knows more at the end of a school day than they did at the beginning is because of the work the teachers do.”

“I think it's good news for teachers that within this country the quality of training is similar enough and good enough to produce rather even-handed effects on the children who are your charges.”

Byrne says the findings are important “for the education system to understand that genes matter”, but cautions against being pessimistic about genetic predisposition.

Chris Watt, Federal Secretary of the Independent Teachers Union, says this kind of research confirms what teachers have known for a long time: that some children are born with advantages, when others are not, and there needs to be greater resources that allow them to factor those differences into their teaching.

"At the end of the day, a school can only do so much," he says.  "There's a whole of lot things that need to be right for kids to be learning properly. We have to pay attention to those issues before they step foot inside a school."

He's confident educators will be able to adapt their practice to these sorts of results, however. "Teachers are always changing the way they go about teaching, picking up new skills and strategies," he says.

Byrne agrees. "My guess is experienced teachers have developed good ways to adjust the curriculum for students who start out weaker in a subject."  "But my guess, too, is that most feel that if they had more time and back-up they could accomplish this even more convincingly."

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and the Australian Education Union (AEU) were also contacted for comment.

Byrne says the involvement of twins in his research has been incredibly important.

“They are the perfect natural experiment. We use their data to extrapolate across the wider population.”

Because twins almost always share the same environment going up, and a large portion of their genes, comparing their differences and similarities can tell us much about whether certain behaviours and abilities are the product of nature or nurture.

For example, he found that twins – whether identical or fraternal - performed equally as similar to one another even when they were in different classes and schools.

Insight guest and school principal Jennifer Lawrence – herself a twin – said she found this to be the case when looking at her twin daughters’ academic results.

“When Abbie and Emily were in Year 3 they were separated for the first time,” she says.

“I had this terrible feeling that I would be disadvantaging one over the other because maybe one would get a better teacher than the other, but their NAPLAN results were almost identical in that year.”


Turnbull shows his smarts

Catching his opponents by surprise, Malcolm Turnbull has seized the political initiative with his constitutional strike creating a political “win-win” for the government, but the Prime Minister’s real purpose is obvious and that is a July 2 double-dissolution poll on his critical industrial bills.

Turnbull has been planning a possible July 2 double-dissolution election since last December. But he has now outsmarted his enemies and his critics. He has put the Senate on notice — pass the government’s bills or face the people.

Having been attacked for his slide towards indecision, Turnbull’s advice to the Governor-General yesterday is a bold show of strength against a recalcitrant Senate, with Turnbull setting out his de facto election manifesto. It is long past time that this Senate was challenged. It is entirely appropriate that the current parliament end with a double-dissolution election given this is the most ­obstructive Senate since 1975.

Turnbull has a cause — he will wedge Labor, not just on negative gearing, but also on union power and its craven weakness before the CFMEU. Bill Shorten said Labor wasn’t afraid of a double-dissolution poll. But Labor, if it is smart, will persuade the crossbenchers to buckle and pass the bills.

If the showdown comes, it will be the seventh double dissolution since Federation and the first for nearly 30 years. By securing the proroguing of parliament and its recall from April 18 to reconsider the industrial relations bills, Turnbull has achieved what neither Labor nor the Greens believed was possible — he has got his Senate voting reform and he will get his industrial bills on any list for a double-dissolution election.

Turnbull wins either way. He either gets his legislation, notably the resurrection of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, or he gets a double-dissolution election on the industrial bills and can pass them at a post-election joint sitting.

Turnbull holds all the cards — he has no reason to accept amendments that ­seriously weaken the ABCC bills.

There are only two scenarios: the Senate crossbenchers can take flight to coward’s castle to save their political necks and pass the industrial bills or Labor, the Greens and the crossbenchers will reveal the sheer extent of their ­appeasement of the CFMEU by opposing the bills to restore law and order to the construction ­industry.

The initial response from most crossbenchers and the Greens ­yesterday was defiance, warning the idea of double dissolution doesn’t frighten them. Turnbull was denounced as a “union-bashing” bully who used the same tactics as the unionists he deplored. This sort of political trash typifies the Senate. The truth is Turnbull has been completely consistent about a double dissolution — saying it would depend entirely on whether or not the Senate passed his industrial legislation.

If only three of the eight crossbenchers vote against the bills they are defeated and senators John Mad­igan and Glenn Lazarus were emphatic yesterday that they cannot support the current ABCC bill.

Along with the Greens, they are pushing for a wider anti-corruption body, a proposal that is unnecessary, dubious and designed to avoid the real issue — the need for measures to address the crisis in the building industry.

The government will be seen to negotiate in good faith with the Senate. But Turnbull’s plan is to confront the crossbenchers, not accommodate them. He told the Governor-General the purpose of the new parliamentary sitting was to give “full and timely consideration” to the industrial bills. These words are vital. Turnbull makes it clear he intends to give the Senate every reasonable chance to pass the bills.

Given the character of this ­Senate you can guarantee every delaying measure imaginable, but Turnbull has given himself ­sufficient time to establish “failure to pass” for a second time.

The theme of his campaign will be economic growth and jobs. “The construction industry is vital to the transition to the new economy,” Turnbull said yesterday. He laid an explosive charge against Labor, the Greens and some of the crossbenchers — they oppose the ABCC bill partly because “the construction unions are big supporters of their political machines”.

“This is an opportunity for the Senate to do its job of legislating rather than filibustering,” he said. “The go-slows and ­obstruction by Labor and the Greens on this key legislation must end.”

There is no constitutional case against the government’s tactic.

As Attorney-General George Brandis advised the Governor-General, Peter Cosgrove, the technique of proroguing and recalling the parliament has ­occurred 28 times since Federation.

Sydney University law professor Anne Twomey said that it was a “normal parliamentary procedure”.

There is nothing remarkable about the Governor-General­ ­accepting Turnbull’s advice.

The documents ­released yesterday show that Turnbull and Brandis prepared the ground ­thoroughly with Sir Peter. It is ­obvious Turnbull has spent some time examining the precedents.

By bringing the budget forward a week to May 3, Turnbull better prepares the ground for a double dissolution.

He has a week before he needs to call the double dissolution before the May 11 deadline.


South Australia father has smacking verdict overturned

A father found guilty of assault for smacking his 12-year-old son as a form of discipline has had the verdict overturned.

South Australia's Supreme Court has ruled the actions of the Air Force pilot, who smacked his son three times, were not unreasonable for the purpose of correcting behaviour.

Justice David Peek said the smacks, one to the boy's bare thigh and two to his shorts, left some redness but no bruising and did not warrant the guilty verdict.

The incident happened in 2014 after a dispute over a takeaway meal when the father, who was divorced from the boy's mother, moved to discipline his son over what he considered his disrespectful behaviour.

The following day the boy took himself to his mother's home and later went to a police station to lay a complaint.

A magistrate subsequently found the father guilty of criminal assault but did not record a conviction or impose a penalty.

In his judgement on Monday, Justice Peek found that the suffering of some temporary pain and discomfort by the child would not transform a parent attempting to correct a child into a person committing a criminal offence.

"In all of the present circumstances, it was established on the evidence that the actions of appellant were bona fide for the purpose of parental correction and that his conduct was not unreasonable," Justice Peek said.



Three current articles below

Will plants' response to increased CO2 make heatwaves more intense than thought?

The report by Peter Hannam below seemed like a possible real concern if ever we do get global warming.  But I somehow knew that they would have ignored something important so I looked up the underlying journal article -- abstract thereof also reproduced below.  It is all just modelling rubbish.  When Warmist models show predictive skill will be the time to take notice of them.  It hasn't happened yet.

But there is something amusing in the article nonetheless. They seem to base their claims on how an individual leaf stoma reacts to higher CO2 but forget to look at  the whole plant.  That higher CO2 levels will produce bigger plants and hence more stomata seems to be overlooked.  With more stomata the overall water release may remain unchanged.

Warmists are such a laugh!  Junk science all the way.  It's such junk that even a humble social scientist like me can see through it.  And shifty old Peter Hannam swallows it all hook, line and sinker.  He must never ask any questions

Peter Hannam

Heatwaves in the northern hemisphere may become as much as 5 degrees warmer than previously estimated by mid-century because plants' response to higher carbon dioxide levels has been miscalculated, according to new research by Australian scientists.

As atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas increase, plant stomata – the tiny pores on leaves that open to take in CO2 and let out water vapour – won't need to open as much.

"There's less water vapour being lost so you have a net warming effect," said Jatin Kala, a lecturer from Murdoch University and lead author of the paper that was published Monday in Nature Scientific Reports.

The researchers used data from 314 plant species across 56 field sites to examine how plants responded. Existing climate models had assumed all plants would trade water for carbon in exactly the same way.

Needle-leaf forests, tundra and agricultural land used for crops would likely suffer the biggest temperature increases. Heatwaves from Europe to China were likely to become 3-5 degrees hotter than the already higher base expected from global warming, Dr Kala said.

"These more detailed results are confronting but they help explain why many climate models have consistently underestimated the increase in the intensity of heatwaves and the rise in maximum temperatures when compared to observations."

The results do not necessarily apply to southern hemisphere regions to the same extent. "We don't have an observation of how Australian vegetation will respond to rising CO2," he said.

CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science developed the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) model used in this study.


Impact of the representation of stomatal conductance on model projections of heatwave intensity

Jatin Kala et al.


Stomatal conductance links plant water use and carbon uptake, and is a critical process for the land surface component of climate models. However, stomatal conductance schemes commonly assume that all vegetation with the same photosynthetic pathway use identical plant water use strategies whereas observations indicate otherwise. Here, we implement a new stomatal scheme derived from optimal stomatal theory and constrained by a recent global synthesis of stomatal conductance measurements from 314 species, across 56 field sites. Using this new stomatal scheme, within a global climate model, subtantially increases the intensity of future heatwaves across Northern Eurasia. This indicates that our climate model has previously been under-predicting heatwave intensity. Our results have widespread implications for other climate models, many of which do not account for differences in stomatal water-use across different plant functional types, and hence, are also likely under projecting heatwave intensity in the future.


Earth hour skepticism

The Sydney skyline during Earth Hour in Sydney over the weekend

THE organisers of Earth Hour have hit back at criticism that the now nine-year-old campaign is a “silly fad” that should be “ignored”.

On Sky News’ Viewpoint program last night, host Chris Kenny joined social media naysayers and called out the campaign for being a “pet rock”.

Meanwhile, Earth Hour organisers have criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for not switching off over the weekend “despite countless requests…to protect the places we love” and despite international momentum including support from the United Nations.

Today, Earth Hour Australia’s Manager Sam Webb responded to the criticism, calling out Australian leaders - namely PM Turnbull - for “still dragging their feet”.

“There are some very cynical people in the world,” Ms Webb told

“There are also those who have very closely held interests that are threatened by the move away from fossil fuels on to clean, renewable energy. Sadly, a small number of powerful people make a lot of money from creating the pollution that is causing global warming and they are doing all they can to keep polluting, with no regard for the devastating impact this is having around the world.”

Ms Webb said Australian leaders aren’t keeping “up with the demands of the Australian people by putting strong policies in place to transition Australia as a whole away from dirty fossil fuels that are causing rising temperatures and more extreme weather, and onto clean, safe, renewable energy”.

Opponents have long fought against the campaign since its inception in 2007, arguing that switching off for an hour one day a year will make no difference to the planet’s fragile ecosystem, and in fact, could cost the planet more by switching your lights on and off.

“We need something more. Much more. An hour is just a gimmick,” wrote the Australian Business Review’s Daniel Palmer in a 2013 editorial.

“It’s a bit like the Valentine’s Day of the environmental movement. Aside from the strident environmentalists, most people who commit to it are ‘guilted’ into it. Flowers on Valentine’s Day can’t make up for 364 days of selfishness, just as turning the lights off for an hour can’t make up for 8,759 hours of lazy energy inefficiency (or 8,783 in a leap year).”

But Ms Webb says the awareness that Earth Hour generates does more for the planet than not doing it at all.

“One of the most valuable things about Earth Hour is that it is a catalyst for millions of people to have a conversation about climate change, what this means for us in Australia in particular, and why it is so important that we take action now to ensure we avoid the worst impacts of rising temperatures and extreme weather that we are currently facing,” Ms Webb said.

“We need moments like Earth Hour each year to ensure that climate change stays at the top of the agenda and so that we can continue to demonstrate to our leaders that there is huge support in the Australian community for transitioning away from dirty fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas that are causing the impacts of global warming and onto clean, renewable sources of energy like solar and wind, that Australia has in abundance.”

Earth Hour could not confirm to how many Australians participated in the event this year, citing its most recent figures dating back to 2014, which “found that 1 in 3 Australians, or over 7 million people, took part in Earth Hour Australia”.

The campaign began in 2007 when 2.2 million Sydneysiders switched off their lights. By 2014, they told, over 7 million Australians had joined the switch across the country.


The Climate Council’s Memory Hole

Mandrake the Magician has nothing on Tim Flannery & Co when it comes to vanishing acts, from geothermal investors' equity to those frothing predictions of endless drought and "ghost cities". But the excision of sceptic Judith Curry from a list of female climate experts takes the cake

When a three-year-old tells whoppers it can be cute. It’s not so cute if the whopper-tellers are scientist Tim Flannery, aged 60, and his Climate Council. Flannery is Chief Councillor of the crowd-funded body, which is dedicated to “accurate and authoritative information on all aspects of climate change”.

His Council website has this item:

"19 climate champions, who also happen to be women… To celebrate International Women’s Day, here’s a list of nineteen women kicking goals in the climate change debate — from scientists to politicians, diplomats, community organisers and more"

It begins, “This article originally appeared on the International Council for Science’s Road to Paris website.” Click through to that site (a spin-off from the International Council for Science, ICSU) and you find the original was not about 19 women but was headed, “20 women making waves in the climate change debate"

Even more mysterious, the Climate Council website has a Facebook prompt headlined: "Kicking goals: 20 climate champions, who also happen to be women…From scientists to politicians, community organisers to diplomats – here are 20 women fighting for climate action around the world.

But click it and the original 20 women suddenly become the Climate Council’s 19.

So what’s going on? The ICSU’s 20 women were meant to reflect women’s contribution to the “diversities of the climate debate”. The 20 included distinguished scientist Dr Judith Curry, who doesn’t toe the doomsters’ party line on climate. The Climate Council simply couldn’t bear to list her – even though she has a peer-reviewed publication list of 150+,  dwarfing that of the other women cited in the top 20 (or top 19).  So the Climate Council simply clipped her from 20 women minus one -- notwithstanding the ICSU’s copyright.

The Climate Council’s tampering was done without public acknowledgement or apology to the original compilers.

The Climate Council’s deletion of Judith Curry from the 20 Women list bears a family resemblance to the revered Soviet practice which saw photos that originally included purged-and-shot apparatchiks doctored, the unwanted individuals’ images made to disappear. At least the Soviets owned the photographs they doctored. The Climate Council doesn’t own the ICSU 20 women list and has no more right to delete  a woman it hates than to insert its own choice into the list. Perhaps we’re lucky the Council didn’t decide to re-make the list into 20 by replacing Curry with its winsome CEO Amanda McKenzie, who is more the telegenic cutie. That way, the odd, eye-catching numeral 19 could have been avoided.

The Climate Council’s monkeying with a third party’s survey-based list hardly validates its claim:

"We exist to provide independent, authoritative climate change information to the Australian public. Why? Because our response to climate change should be based on the best science available"

The ICSU list has this to say about Dr Curry – words Flannery and the “scientific” Climate Council felt duty-bound to expunge:

"Blogger and scientist favoured by sceptics. Judith Curry is fast becoming the go-to scientist favoured by the more sceptical ends of the climate debate, though she is more than capable of making a name for herself in her own right. An established climate scientist, well known for her research on hurricanes and Arctic ice, Curry is currently Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Troubled by the way those who do not fit with scientific consensus are treated by the scientific community and broader environmental discourse, she regularly speaks up for the role of dissent and free speech in climate science. It is fair to say this doesn’t always win her friends in either science or the green movement. Curry is an active blogger, reflecting her commitment to transparency of the debate within science…"

Pit Dr Curry against other women on the 20 list, and it would be no-contest.  The only other listee of similar stature (about 140 publications) is Joanna Haigh FRS, a solar expert and ex-president of the Royal Meteorological Society. Among the others, lightweight author Naomi Klein never managed to finish her BA at the University of Toronto.  Sharan Burrow, ex-ACTU boss, makes the list but her credentials stop at “high school teacher”. Listee Naomi Oreskes calls herself a science “historian” and carries on about climate skeptics being the same as tobacco lobbyists. Then there’s US EPA boss Gina McCarthy, who doesn’t know what percentage CO2 comprises in the atmosphere. Annie Leonard is boss of Greenpeace US.

The Climate Council not only solicits donations from the public, but these donations are tax-deductible. Perhaps our gutsy Prime Minister could check whether the Council’s tax-deductibility is still appropriate, given that it appears to have hired a green-tinted Mandrake the Magician to enhance a penchant for putting propaganda ahead of science and stuffing inconvenient sceptics down the memory hole.


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

22 March, 2016

Turnbull intends to call election if legislation is not passed

This is the right decision and a credit to Mr Turnbull.  It will unblock the Senate and rein in the rogue unions in one go

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull is playing a “high risk poker game” in threatening senators with a double dissolution election.

Professor John Wanna told that the tactic could backfire if the senators actually passed two pieces of legislation that Mr Turnbull plans to use as a double dissolution trigger — rather than rejecting them.

Mr Turnbull announced this morning that politicians would be recalled to parliament on April 18 to reconsider the two bills aimed at addressing union corruption in the building and construction industry.

If they did not pass, Mr Turnbull said he would call an election for July 2.

While this puts the Prime Minister firmly back in the driver’s seat and gives him space to have an election if he wants it, it could also blow up in his face if the Senate actually passes the new laws.

“He’s playing a high risk poker game, assuming that senators like Xenophon, Lazarus or Lambie might not vote for it,” Prof Wanna said. “If all crossbenchers voted together they could pass it, then Turnbull will look silly.”

During his speech, Mr Turnbull said that if the Senate did pass the new laws, he would not call a double dissolution election, but the government still intended to bring forward the Budget.

The government would need the support of six of the eight crossbench senators to pass the bills.

If this happened, colleagues would have plenty of time to question Mr Turnbull’s judgment ahead of a “full term” election in September.

“When things start going wrong, people start to say your judgment is not good,” Prof Wanna said. “There would be a lot of time for discussion about how he mismanaged the double dissolution.”

The chances of the laws passing appear slim as crossbench senators have reacted angrily to Mr Turnbull’s decision. But many face losing their seats if a double dissolution is called as it would involve all seats in the Senate being declared vacant.

If there is an election in September, only half the Senate will go to the polls and new senators such as Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir, will still have another three to four years in parliament.

So far Family First senator Bob Day is the only one to say he would back the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) bill.

Independent Nick Xenophon said he would support the bill with amendments.

Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm said he wanted a sunset clause on the ABCC bill and guarantees they would not breach the right to silence.

Palmer United Party senator Dio Wang told ABC radio he would be seeking to amend the ABCC bills, but had not yet decided how to vote.

Independent senator Glenn Lazarus said he remained opposed to the ABCC and instead wanted a national anti-corruption commission covering all areas of business, industry and government.

Victorian Senator John Madigan has not commented but has voted against the bill in the past. He also does not have as much to lose because he was already up for election this year.

Senator Jacqui Lambie and Ricky Muir have also not commented but have voted against the ABCC in the past.


Public sector servants strike across Australia -- and hardly anybody notices

Federal departments have been thrown into chaos with thousands walking off the job in the first of a series of strikes over failed pay talks.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) expect thousands of public servants from Centrelink, Medicare, Australian Taxation Office, Bureau of Meteorology, Defence Department, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Bureau of Statistics to strike for 24 hours after ongoing pay disputes with the Federal Government.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood claims family-friendly work conditions are being threatened by the ­government and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ignored offers of talks.

Easter travellers are being warned to expect delays as Border Force officers at international airports are set to begin striking from Tuesday, with a 24-hour strike planned for Thursday

The Federal Government has criticised the strike action.


South Australia's seventh successive crop above 10-year average

How awful for the Greenies.  They are always warning that we are about to run out of food due to global warming

South Australia's grain producers have produced their seventh crop in a row above the state's 10-year average.

The state's total 2015/16 winter crop was 7.2 million tonnes with an overall value of $1.6 billion.

However, grain account manager for Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) Dave Lewis said crop performance was not uniform, with the west of the state making up for the tough season experienced in the south-east.

"It is a tale of two parts of the state; one part doing quite well, which is generally the west, and the south particularly, the upper south-east, which produced about 50 per cent of their average," Mr Lewis said.

South Australia's 10-year average grain production is currently 6.9 million tonnes and Mr Lewis said, given seven of the 10 years have been above average, it could influence the average.

"I've got to do the calculations to see what the impact of a 7.2 million tonnes crop is [but] we might see it marginally move up," he said.

Overall, there was 4.3 million tonnes of wheat produced, 2 million tonnes of barley and even though there was less area planted to canola, 293,000 tonnes were produced.

"South Australia is also now Australia's largest producer of lentils, and we may see further increase in area sown in the mid-north and Yorke Peninsula," he said.


Heterosexual men who lean Right are the PC hate target of choice

By Dr. Jennifer Oriel

Any doubt that Labor is captive to neo-Marxism was dispelled by its campaign to enforce compulsory queer political programming of schoolchildren under the misnomer “Safe Schools”.

Queer acti­vists trashed conservative senator Cory Bernardi’s office on Friday after Green-Left politicians, ­including Labor leader Bill Shorten, called him homo­phobic for opposing the strategy. Unlike Bernardi, state-designated minorities are protected by discrimination and affirmative action laws. Such laws provide a permanent position of victimhood to justify bigotry against the PC hate target of choice: heterosexual men who lean Right.

Proliferating minority groups claim special protection under ­affirmative action law while constructing the form of society it was designed to prevent: a society governed by codified inequality. Under the aegis of special measures, they use affir­mative action to enact new forms of exclusion on the basis of inborn biological traits such as race and sex.

In the recent Queensland University of Technology case, male students were barred from a computer room allegedly because of their race. Former administrative officer Cindy Prior, an indigenous Australian, asked the students whether they were indigenous ­before asking them to leave. In court documents, she cited the need for “safe space” on campus.

The race discrimination commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, Tim Soutphommasane, stated he would not comment directly on the QUT case to but referred to special measures under the Racial Discrimination Act. The AHRC referred the case to the Federal Circuit Court.

Its website page devoted to RDA special measures states they are for indigenous people, some migrant and refugee groups. Impor­tantly, the AHRC differentiates formal from substantive equality. Formal equality is equa­lity of all citizens before the law and commonly ­associated with equal opportunity. Substantive equality is inequality under the law in favour of state-designated minority groups ­towards equality of outcome. Substantive equality thus reverses genuine equality. It is a prime ­example of the neo-­Marxist double­think that characterises contemporary Left thought and undermines universal human rights. Instead of sunsetting special measures past their use-by date, the hard Left uses them to justify ever more extreme forms of ­exclusion and bigotry.

The only group of citizens wholly ­excluded from the attri­butes list that comprises minority status under law are heterosexual, able-bodied men classified as “white”. The racial classification “white” is attributed generally to people of Celtic, ­English or European descent. In academe, it is common to find statements about the group that would be classified as hate speech if applied to any other. When I was an undergraduate, the phrase “the only good male is a dead white male” was ubiquitous in the humanities.

In an article on The Conversation, education fellow Sarah Pett complained about canonical wri­ters such as Shakespeare, Tennyson, Eliot, Sophocles, Ovid and Homer, calling to “push dead white men like Shakespeare out of the limelight”. In response to the Safe Schools ­debate, sociology lecturer Lucy Nicholas wrote: “While white, cisgender, heterosexual male politicians are quibbling over whether or not we should expose young people to the term pan­sexual … young people have never been queerer.”

Neo-Marxists use the minority politics of race and gender as communists used class, sowing envy and victimhood to create a revolutionary mass primed to attack a ­selected target. An extreme consequence of the PC bigotry came to light last year when academic journals ­refused to publish research demonstrating a steep rise in the suicide rate of white men.

Nobel laureate Angus Deaton co-­authored a paper with econo­mist Anne Case showing a spike in premature deaths and suicide among white, middle-aged men and women. According to Deaton, the research was rejected by academic journals on spurious grounds. Rather than offer sympathy for the suicide victims and their families, sections of the Left blamed the victims, claiming the premature deaths were caused by men losing their “white privilege”. The spike in suicide among middle-aged white Americans was thus reframed as an act of self-­indulgence, even when research suggested its cause lay in structural disadvantage owing to factors such as low education rate leading to mass unemployment.

The term “white privilege” is a corollary of neo-Marxist politics whose experts pervade critical race and postcolonial studies in universities. The term is used to justify bigotry towards people with racial, religious or cultural attri­butes deemed politically incorrect.

The AHRC recommends courses that advance the idea of white privilege as best practice for anti-racism education. In America, academic symposiums are ­devoted to it, including the Wisconsin National White Privilege Conference whose content illustrates the underwhelming intellectual prowess of the field: “The session begins with mind and body grounding in processes, proceeds to examining the biological wisdom of the human cell, moves to an analysis of race and class ­oppression/liberation dynamics … with particular attention to class supremacy and white privilege”.

Griffith University lecturer Marcus Woolombi Waters ­recently won praise on social media for his criticism of white privilege in Australia. After travelling overseas to deliver a keynote address, he wrote: “Generally every staff member is white on every major Australian airline. So here we are as black people, jumping on an aircraft of white people being served by white people, ­immersed back into a world of whiteness.” The perception that white people serving black people constitutes white privilege does seem rather at odds with reality.

The greatest erosion of human potential arises from the belief that some of us are born more equal than others. The creed was captured best by George Orwell in his satire of the Russian Revolution, Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In the 21st century West, affirmative action ­regimes bestow state-approved minorities with rights and advantages ­denied their fellow citizens. They are more equal than others. We used to call that inequality. We once fought against it.


Indigenous Australians take Apple, Facebook, Google to Human Rights Commission for racist game

No good saying "It's just a game", I suppose.  They want money

A group of high-profile Aboriginal Australians is taking Apple, Facebook and Google to the Australian Human Rights Commission for supplying a notorious online game that promotes the killing of Aboriginal Australians.

The complaint of racial vilification, lodged on Monday with the Human Rights Commission against the multinational suppliers of 'Survival Island 3 – Australia Story 3D', is made under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).

The complainants include poet Ken Canning, filmmaker and rights campaigner Sam Watson, climate campaigner Larissa Baldwin, student Murrawah Watson, former NRL player and suicide-prevention youth worker Joe Williams, and Georgia Mantle, who started a petition against the game in January.

In a statement released on Monday, Mr Canning says, "I am 63 years of age and have had first-hand experience of violence against Our Peoples. Given the history of the massacres of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, I find such a game to be highly offensive."

'Survival Island 3 – Australia Story 3D', developed by NIL Entertainment, was made available worldwide online including for download in Australia via a number of app stores including Apple iTunes, Amazon, and Google Playstore.

In a press release issued on Monday, the group behind the complaint says that it hopes that by taking this action it will help clarify whether making available games of this kind is acceptable under Australian law. 

"The game creators and developers are located overseas and it is not suggested that they are affiliated in any way with the companies that are subject to the complaint. The basis of the complaint is that companies that have provided or are providing access to the App have made available material that contravenes the RDA," the statement said.

The complainants seek to compel Apple, Google and Facebook to:

*    modify their policies and procedures to ensure that they do not make apps/games available on their platforms which contain material that is likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate on the basis of race.

*    publicly denounce NIL Entertainment for developing the Game.

*    publicly apologise to Indigenous Australians for making the Game available on their platforms and services.

*    make a donation to an Indigenous charity that educates the wider Australian community about issues related to cultural pride

The group is also asking Facebook to remove the Group Page 'Survival Island 3 Hunt the Aborigines.' Mr Canning had written  to Facebook to request that it voluntarily remove the Group Page but Facebook responded that it did not contravene its community standards.

The group is being represented by a prominent pro bono legal team including Sydney barrister Craig Leggat SC and instructed by human rights lawyer Benedict Coyne from law firm Boe Williams Anderson.

Mr Coyne said, "My clients have launched their claim under section 18C of the RDA alleging that the app is offensive, humiliating and intimidating on the basis of race and that its promotion should not be supported in the public domain. It is hoped that this action will assist in defining the bounds where free speech ends and where racial vilification begins.

"Whilst there has been significant controversy and misconception about the scope and application of section 18C in recent years, our law entitles people in our country to take action where public statements or content goes beyond free speech and enters the realms of racial vilification.

"It is important that we reflect on the intergenerational trauma of Indigenous Australians. The RDA seeks to protect vulnerable and marginalised minorities from racially based offensive, insulting and humiliating conduct by publicly outing such malicious mischief and sending a strong and educative message to the broader Australian community that racism is not acceptable in a civilised country such as ours."



Bias against redheads is a real problem in England but I have seen nothing of it in Australia.  My father was a redhead and my son has a red beard so I think I am pretty aware of the matter

YOU can’t call someone a racist name, or make fun of their sexuality or weight.  Yet "gingerism" is alive and well with red-headed people regularly teased, bullied or constantly joked about due to their colouring.

That is the view of Buderim Ginger, the organisers of Australia’s first Ginger Pride rally, which aims to unite red heads across the country to fly ‘the freak flag high’.

As part of the Melbourne rally, organisers are calling on gingers everywhere to celebrate their greatest difference — their hair — and bring an end to gingerism once and for all.

Hang on, what’s gingerism?  According to Buderim Ginger spokeswoman Emma Pryor it is "definitely a thing", adding that being a red-headed kid at school isn’t a walk in the park.

Between one and two per cent of the world’s population have red hair, yet rather than being celebrated the point of difference is often ridiculed, she said.

The rise of gingerism, defined as prejudice or discrimination against people with red hair, sparked the introduction of ginger pride rallies across the world with Edinburgh among the cities celebrating all things red.

The US city of Chicago even held its own rally last year which attracted thousands of red-heads.

That event is an offshoot of a massive festival in Breda in the Netherlands called Roodharigendag which runs for three days in September each year.

It may sound like a laugh, but the Melbourne rally has a serious side with most gingers admitting they’ve been teased or ridiculed or in extreme cases even bullied due to their colourings.

Ms Pryor said there’s still a perception that it’s okay to tease gingers because it’s just hair and it seemed to be seen as the last acceptable prejudice.

"After South Park showed an episode about kicking a ginger day, kids in the UK actually reported an increase of being bullied after people tried to do it there," she said.

"Red-headed people have been an object of ridicule forever and instead of celebrating this difference we make fun of it."

Buderim Ginger Marketing Manager Jacqui Price said the teasing has to stop.  "It’s no secret that gingers are used to being teased for their flaming locks and freckles, experiencing unfair prejudice and misrepresentation since the dark ages," she said.  "And it’s time we say enough!"

The festival is also supported by Bully Zero Australia Foundation and The Red and Nearly Ginger Association (R.A.N.G.A), "the peak special interest body for Ginger issues".

Participants will be encouraged to donate a gold coin with proceeds going towards Bully Zero.

Foundation Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Oscar Yildiz JP, said the team was excited to take a stand against bullying and celebrate the diversity of our community. "We will take a united front to shed light on the fact that bullying affects children through to adults for such trivial factors such as hair colour or freckles, and make it very clear that bullying is never OK," he said.

"We hope the Ginger Pride Rally helps to foster acceptance and diversity in the community, because we should all celebrate and be proud of what makes each person an individual."


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

21 March, 2016

Student Fascists  trash Conservative Senator's office

Violence is never far beneath the surface among the Left.  Note that the banner calls for something to be "smashed". Just naked hate.  Trotskyists use "smash" a lot too

THE “full force of the law” should be brought to bear on protesters who trashed Senator Cory Bernardi’s office and targeted his children’s school, he says.

The university students and high-school pupils, who were protesting against his opposition to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program and ongoing debate about same-sex marriage, engaged in abuse, vandalism and threats.

Both Flinders and Adelaide universities released statements condemning the action.

Branding the protesters “a bunch of cowards”, Senator Bernardi labelled the fracas a form of intolerance and intimidation that only “strengthened his resolve”.

He said: “They also headed down to my children’s school and sought to target it as well. They had to lock gates and take other preventive measures.

“If peaceful protests turn into violent and damaging protests the people responsible for that need to be held to account.  “I’m happy for the full force of the law to be brought upon those who’ve done property damage and threatened my staff.”

Police reported one man for graffiti damage to a road sign and are reviewing CCTV evidence from the scene.

About 20 students — from Adelaide and Flinders universities, UniSA and high schools — occupied the Grenfell St office at noon and scrawled abusive messages on the outside walls and veranda.

They also overturned tables and chairs, wrote messages in chalk on the carpet and chanted slogans such as “racist, sexist, anti-queer, Bernardi is not welcome here”.

Senator Bernardi’s wife, Sinead, and staffers retreated into other rooms.

Once police arrived, the students went outside, knocking over a fence on their way and leaving paper and rubbish strewn around the office. One sign read: “Eat rainbow, bigot.”

Senator Bernardi tweeted: “What a bunch of cowards. Lefty totalitarians have trashed my office and threatened my staff because their agenda has been exposed.”

Tom Gilchrist, Adelaide University’s Student Representative Council president and several other SRC members from the socialist group Student Voice were among the protesters.

They included SRC ethno-cultural officer Angelo Tavlaridis, who was last year banned from campaigning on campus after allegedly calling one female student a “c ...” and another a “bitch”.

One of Senator Bernardi’s employees, Adelaide University Union board member Robert Katsambis, then passed censure motions against Mr Tavlaridis’ behaviour and Mr Gilchrist’s failure to condemn it.

Mr Gilchrist defended the protesters’ actions on Friday, saying the damage was “completely superficial, paper and chalk — things that can be cleaned off easily”.

“This is nothing compared to the damage being done to LGBTI people,” he said of the Federal Government’s decision to “gut” the Safe Schools program, announced on Friday shortly after the protest.

“That is the really disgusting thing.”

During the office protest, the students claimed they were heading to the school because it was where Senator Bernardi was educated. Mr Gilchrist later said they had not caused any disturbance at the school.  “We put up the banner and walked away,” he said.

Senator Bernardi was a vocal critic of Safe Schools, a program to prevent bullying on gender and sexuality grounds.  He said the program was intimidating, indoctrinating, and bullying children by picking on heterosexual children.

Pressure from backbenchers forced Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce a review of the program. Tensions over the issue heated this week to the point where Queensland MP George Christensen tried to link the program to paedophilia and started a petition calling for a full inquiry.

On Friday, the Government released the review and announced a compromise, radically altering the way the program works but saying it would remain in place.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said review author Professor Bill Lowden, an education expert, found some content was “not necessarily appropriate for all children”.


A student grabs his deputy principal by the THROAT in a NSW high school playground

Something not mentioned below: The students at that school are almost entirely Muslim. It is just Muslims being Muslims and showing their usual contempt for the rest of us. Their religion teaches them that contempt

The shocking moment a senior student grabbed his deputy principal by the throat has been caught on camera.

The Granville Boys' High School student was caught on tape storming towards one of the school’s three deputy principals, Noel Dixon, before taking hold of him by the throat.

The deputy principal resisted the attack and removed the boy’s hand from around his neck.

Moments later another student pulled the dark-haired boy away from the altercation.

The angry student led dozens of Granville School students through the playground before launching his attack.

Some of his peers tried to stop him before he got to the deputy principal, but were unable to.

The Department of Education told 7 News the school doesn’t tolerate violence, and that strong disciplinary action has been taken against the young man in the video.

The student is believed to be in Year 12. Police have been notified of the assault.

It is not the first time the western Sydney school has been in the media for violence.

In 2011 a student was stabbed in the stomach six times.

In 2008 18 people were hospitalised after the students were involved in a brawl at Merrylands High.


F-35: A flying white elephant that may never work

It's a white elephant that may never work. There have been great difficulties and some disasters in getting computerized civilian aircraft to work.  The far greater requirements of a military aircraft may never be met

Australia would be better off getting new planes from Russia or France.  The Dassault Rafale is an "omnirole" aircraft that already works and is available for export. It has fewer stealth characteristics than the F35 but there are large doubts about how effective the F35 stealth features would be anyway

Dr Keith Joiner was responsible for signing off on the testing and evaluation for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for Australia — of which 72 were ordered for a cost of more than $17 billion, starting over 14 years ago.

Now, due to numerous concerns — among them major software issues — Dr Joiner says "the Senate should put a dirty great big stop work order on any sign-up to any production aircraft that we’ve not already committed to."

In an interview with Radio National’s Background Briefing, Joiner revealed the software weaknesses of the aircraft.

"The Joint Strike Fighter is a completely software driven aircraft," Joiner said.

"Some systems like the radar control are fundamentally worse than the earlier version, which is not a good sign. You don’t want your software testing going backwards. The next software version is block 4. It won’t be available until 2020. So there’ll be nothing but fixing bugs in the original software between 2013 and 2020."

"That’s seven years with nothing but fixing bugs. That doesn’t give you a lot of confidence for a completely software driven aircraft going into the future."

"It hasn’t done any cyber security testing yet, the aircraft. The only system that has done cyber security, vulnerability and penetration testing is the logistics software. So ordering spares. And it didn’t go very well."

"So the most software driven aircraft ever built hasn’t yet been tested against cyber security and the modern cyber warfare threats."


Australia to Register Its Concern About Foreigners Buying Its Water

BARHAM, Australia–The muddy river [Murray] that flows through this farming town feeds both verdant citrus groves and a growing unease among some lawmakers and regulators over foreign ownership of water rights.

Australia —the world’s driest inhabited continent— plans to require foreign investors to declare their interests in water rights like to this river used by farmers in three southeast states. The proposed register, which for the first time would create a public record of the level of foreign ownership, comes at a time when the country is seeing a wave of deal-making in agriculture. Public submissions close Friday.

Demand for water is rising ahead of government plans to turn the empty expanses of northern Australia into a food bowl for the rising middle classes of China and India. Water is already a scarce commodity, but climate change is expected to make droughts even more frequent.

Since 2007, investors have no longer needed to own land to be eligible to buy and sell water rights. That’s allowed landholders to either use water on their property or offer it for sale—creating one of the world’s most advanced water-trading systems.

Some lawmakers and farmers see rising foreign ownership of water rights as a threat to food and water security, driving up water prices and making it too expensive for Australian farmers to irrigate crops. The number of agricultural water entitlements with at least some level of foreign ownership increased by more than half in recent years. Around 14% of farm water rights were partially foreign owned in 2013 compared with 9% in 2010, government figures show.

"The Australian people have every right to know exactly… who owns our most precious asset—the land we stand on, the water we use, and how many of them come from overseas," Minister Barnaby Joyce said in an interview.

The angst over water rights in Australia comes as places from California to northwestern India and Africa are running out of water.

A recent University of California study using data from NASA satellites found about a third of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are being used at unsustainable rates. Thirteen of those are close to being depleted with little or no replenishment. Climate change and population growth are expected to intensify the problem of water shortages, creating a potential political flashpoint like what has happened with mineral and land rights around the world.

Soaring global demand for food—much of the appetite from China and India—is fueling a rush of global deal-making in agriculture and water, seen by some investors as the new oil.

In Australia, which exports about 70% of its food produce, farmers worry they’ll be priced out of the water market by speculators.

In Queensland state– a target for new dam building as part of a plan to develop the tropical north— dairy farmers offering $250 Australian dollars (about US$190) a mega liter for water expected to flow from new reservoirs are being outbid by investors offering up to A$16,000 a mega liter to be pumped into higher-return crops like strawberries. It takes 2.5 megaliters to fill an Olympic swimming pool.

"We are very aware about sensitivities about the price of water," said Mr. Joyce. "It has a very direct correlation to the profits you make from a product you produce. [The water register] is all part of getting that proper transparency."

Last year, the government established a register of overseas farm ownership and lowered the threshold above which foreign deals would be assessed for whether they are in the national interest by the country’s investment watchdog to A$15 million from A$252 million. It also moved to cap a heated domestic property market, forcing the sale of trophy homes purchased illegally by foreign residents in Sydney and Melbourne.

After years of over exploiting the Murray-Darling basin —a vast system of interconnected rivers and tributaries in eastern Australia that feeds the country’s major food bowl—the federal government is spending A$3.2 billion buying up and cancelling some water entitlements, seeking to repair environmental damage stretching back a century. Critics say the program has triggered volatility in the water market, driving up prices and hurting rural communities that rely on irrigation.

Some say concerns about investors forcing up water prices are overblown, however.

"While there have been concerns in the community that water speculators are driving up prices, this does not appear to be currently the case," Tim Cummins, a water market analyst said in a recent report into water use in Victoria state. Water ownership not linked to land has remained largely stable in northern Victoria between 5% and 7% since 2010, he said.

One way foreign investors gain exposure to water is by buying up farmland with water on it.

TIAA, a $900 billion New York-based retirement fund for many university professors, says roughly half its Australia farm investments have water entitlements, including Milo Farm in northern New South Wales, which produces cotton, wheat and sorghum across more than 21,000 acres and has over 26,000 mega liters of water.

"One of the of the primary ways we try to invest in water is by being smart about which farmland we buy and making sure we’ve got good water rights," said John Goodreds, TIAA’s head of agribusiness. "That’s a very valuable subset under agriculture."


Government declares war on cheap prices

The Harper Competition review describes the debate around the need for an effects test as "one of the enduring controversies of competition policy in Australia." The report helpfully provides a table that actually better summarises the position: despite 11 previous competition reviews over 40 years, only one found in favour of adding an 'effects test' to the misuse of market power prohibition.

The report proposes reshaping the regulation to prohibit "a corporation with a substantial degree of market power from engaging in conduct if the conduct has the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition."

Despite both the Abbott government and the Turnbull government initially rejecting this recommendation, it will now become law. That this was pushed by the Nationals, no friends of free markets, should warn you there are problems with this proposal. Of the many, two are important.

First, the very idea that government can create, corral and control competition is a farce. The more government tries to regulate market behaviour, the more it distorts the market with intervention and legal uncertainty, the less true competition there is -- especially since so much competition policy is based on the fallacy that companies can enter a market, force the competition out of business and then jack up the price forever. In a free and open economy this is basically impossible. There are always other competitors.

Second, the effect of this change is to protect smaller, inefficient businesses from larger, more efficient ones (there is no need to protect efficient small businesses from anyone). While there are a number of industries where this may be relevant, the most obvious targets are the major supermarket chains, hence the interests of the Nationals.

The purpose is to force the supermarkets to pay more at the farm gate, and prevent them trying to rationalise their supply chains by dealing only with larger farmers and companies. This can mean only one thing: food prices are going to rise. What a win for competition.

Whatever people like to say about supporting small business, the truth is consumers almost always go for the cheapest or best option. They would never vote with their dollars in favour of these changes. If only the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took the second 'C' as seriously as the first.


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

20 March, 2016

"Divestment" mania comes to Australian National University

Several hundred academics and staff members at Australian National University signed an open letter requesting the school jettison its oil and gas assets, even as the school promises to table the measure, citing the need to keep the school financially stable.

The ANU letter calls on the university to make its fossil fuel assets transparent, as well as ending whatever oil assets the school currently has by 2021.

Activist with Fossil Free, a group associated with the controversial environmentalist Bill McKibben, delivered the letter signed by 450 staff and academics to the school’s vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt.

The University currently has $43 million sunk in fossil fuel assets, according to Fossil Free spokeswoman and ANU student Zoe Neumayer, which would place it among a handful of universities gathering more than $40 million in fossil fuel assets.

Among those rebuking the divestment charge are Harvard University, which has $107.8 million in fossil fuel assets, as well as Yale University, with a lofty oil and coal asset portfolio of $51.09 million.

"(We believe) the ANU needs to divest from fossil fuels in order to properly be a global climate leader," Neumayer told reporters Tuesday, noting also that nearly 82 percent of students voted for divestment

The University Council’s decision to table the open letter comes two years after the school divested shares in 7 mining companies.

ANU moved in 2014 to purge assets from Australia mining companies Santos and Iluka Resources, following calls from independent groups for the school to become more socially responsible.

Officials condemned the move at the time.

"Sadly, no, the universities govern themselves. But I think to suggest that companies like Santos and Iluka, which are both excellent companies, are somehow not ethical investments is a bizarre decision," Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, told reporters.

That was then, this is now.

Schmidt, an astrophysicist who was recently appointed the school’s vice chancellor and an avowed proponent of fighting the advent of man-made global warming — said he still recognizes the school has responsibilities to its faculty and staff.

"The council has to balance both its fiduciary responsibilities to provide the funds for students and staff needs, such as superannuation payments and student scholarships, with that of socially responsible investments," he said.

Schmidt added: "It is a complex issue, and both the council and I welcome the views of staff and students."  He said the school would continue to fight global warming despite ANU’s decision to table requests to divest.


Australians come out in support of Donald Trump

Online polls are not very reliable but Australians are much less puritanical and uptight than are Americans so it seems possible that Trump has broader support in Australia than he has in America

AUSTRALIANS have come out in force to defend billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump and have even called for a like-minded personality to lead our country after warnings that a Trump White House would be bad news for Australia.

An online poll on The Daily Telegraph showed a surprising 71 per cent of respondents answered ‘No (Donald Trump is da man!)’ when asked ‘Are you worried about Trump becoming US President?’  There were more than 32,000 votes cast in the poll.

It came after a number of analysts and commentators suggested a Trump win in the November US presidential election would be dire for Australia.

"The words ‘President Trump’ should give Australians pause," Lowy Institute executive director Dr Michael Fullilove told The Daily Telegraph. "Mr Trump reflects few of the values that have made America great. And judging from his speeches, he fails to see the advantages that flow to his country from being at the centre of the global liberal order."

His sentiments were echoed by Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor from Sydney University’s US Studies Centre who said Trump’s isolationist views were ‘an absolute disaster’.

But the comments from readers came thick and fast and overwhelmingly supported the billionaire. Some Aussie supporters even called for a personality like him to lead the country.

The story struck a chord with US readers and was picked up by a major news aggregator so many were supportive comments were from Americans, but there was no shortage of love from Aussies.

The story saw more than 800 comments posted


Stop comparing Trump with Hitler

AUSTRALIAN Jewish leaders have condemned "deeply offensive" comparisons between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler.

In recent months, a string of media outlets, celebrities and politicians, including talk-show host Glenn Beck and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, have lined up to call Trump the next Hitler.

The billionaire real estate mogul’s unapologetic threats to deport illegal immigrants and put a halt on Muslims entering the US have caused outrage.

Trump this week scored primary victories in three more states, including Florida, forcing rival candidate Marco Rubio to drop out and further increasing his chances of taking the nomination.

It came as Dilbert creator Scott Adams warned that constant comparisons of Trump to Hitler in the media were helping incite violence against the candidate and his supporters and "priming the public to try to kill Trump".

Earlier this month, comedian Louis CK penned a 1400-word letter to fans describing Trump as an "insane bigot" and urging them to "please stop" voting for him.

"It was funny for a little while [but] the guy is Hitler," he wrote.  "And by that I mean that we are being Germany in the ‘30s. Do you think they saw the s*** coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird comb over who would say anything at all."

In December, British band Django Django tweeted, "Donald Trump trying to pull a 1933 Hitler but replacing Jews with Muslims. Dangerous times."

Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kapranos added, "I wonder what @realDonaldTrump (hairpiece be upon him) will reveal next in his final solution."

Now NBA star Matt Barnes is the latest high-profile celebrity to make the comparison.  In an Instagram post on Wednesday, the Memphis Grizzlies player posted a picture of Hitler removing a Trump mask with the caption, "This who you want to run your country?"

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC), said "once again we see celebrities using appalling comparisons to Hitler to attack others".

"There is simply no place for this kind of sickening distortion in our public discourse," he said.

While people were entitled to "strong opinions" on Donald Trump, "Hitler and his genocidal actions should never form part of the discussion about the American presidential elections and no candidate should ever be compared to Hitler", Dr Abramovich said.

Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg also criticised the comparisons.  "Donald Trump has his detractors, and many for good reason, but to compare him with the evil Adolf Hitler responsible as he was for the deaths of millions of innocents is ridiculous in the extreme," he told  "It diminishes the Holocaust and a shameful chapter in the history of the world."

Dr Abramovich said the six million Jews and millions of others who perished at the hands of the Third Reich "deserve better and should not be used for political point sloganeering".

"It bears repeating again that these types of historically inaccurate comparisons diminish the profound tragedy of the Holocaust and are deeply offensive to the victims, to survivors and to their families," he said.  "Such ignorant posts only fuel the gross trivialisation of the Holocaust."

Jeremy Jones, Director of International and Community Affairs at the Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), said "generally we find it very unhelpful when people make these sorts of historical comparisons".

"One, it doesn’t help people understand the contemporary phenomenon, and two, the historical circumstances [of the Holocaust] had particular and unique features which tend to be brushed under the surface [when such comparisons are made]," he said.

Peter Wertheim, Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), declined to comment on the politics of another country but pointed to the ECAJ’s policy platform, which references "inappropriate Holocaust rhetoric".

The EJAC "recognises that the Holocaust, the Nazi program of genocide, was a unique historical event", "notes that the Holocaust is generally recognised as the benchmark of the most extreme case of human evil" and "deplores the inappropriate use of analogies to the Nazi Genocide in Australian public debate".

Industry Minister Christopher Pyne yesterday described Trump’s popularity as "terrifying and kind of weird", describing the "Donald Trump phenomenon" as a "real problem for the United States".  "It’s terrifying, and I think for the Republican party, if they choose Donald Trump, will find themselves in the wilderness for a very long time," he said, saying the "violence and farcical scenes" at Trump’s rallies made for "uncomfortable viewing".

Conversely, conservative Liberal senator Cory Bernardi said the rise of Trump shone a light on "global disenchantment with mainstream politics".  "I have been warning about this for some time. Unless the major parties respond to the concerns of mainstream people, the public will look elsewhere and a more formidable force will emerge," Mr Bernardi said.


Australia hails 600 days of no asylum-seeker boat arrivals

Australia on Thursday hailed its controversial regime of turning back asylum-seeker boats as a success after 600 days with no vessels arriving, and almost 700 people being repelled since the policy was launched.

Under the hardline measures, asylum-seekers trying to reach Australia by boat are turned back to their country of departure or sent to remote Pacific island camps, where conditions have been criticised with allegations of rape and other abuse.

They are blocked from resettling in Australia even if they are found to be refugees in a policy the conservative government has defended as stopping deaths at sea.

"Tomorrow (Friday) marks 600 days since the last successful people-smuggling venture to our country and the government's absolutely determined to make sure that it stays that way," Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in Canberra.

Since the start of "Operation Sovereign Borders" in September 2013 when the government came to power, 25 boats carrying 698 people had been turned back and "safely returned to their country of departure", Dutton added.

Rights groups have criticised camp conditions while doctors and whistleblowers have said the detention of asylum-seekers, particularly children, has left some struggling with mental health problems.

Amnesty has also called for an independent review into allegations that Australian authorities paid crew on a people-smuggling boat US$30,000 to return 65 asylum-seekers to Indonesia.

The policy has stoked tensions with Jakarta, which warned earlier this month after six Bangladeshi migrants were returned to the eastern Indonesian city of Kupang on a fishing boat that such operations were potentially dangerous.

A group of "potentially illegal immigrants" from Sri Lanka were returned to the South Asian nation in February, the operation's commander Major General Andrew Bottrell added at the press conference.

Bottrell said a further 57 people-smuggling activities were disrupted during this period, preventing 1,900 asylum-seekers from trying to head to Australia, but did not provide further details about where they were from.  He said that "people smuggling networks have been severely degraded".

Under the previous Labor government, at least 1,200 people died trying to reach Australia by boat between 2008 and 2013.

Dutton added he was "very proud" the number of children held in detention had fallen to just 29, and he was working to bring it down further. Detention levels are down from a record number of almost 2,000 children in June 2013.

However, allegations of rape and other abuse at the Nauru camp were raised at a parliamentary inquiry last year. A doctor who assessed inmates at the centre told the hearings living conditions were unsafe and put vulnerable women and children at "considerable" risk.


Australian Education Minister Simon Birmingham unveils sweeping changes to homosexual-support program for schools

THE Safe Schools Coalition program will be overhauled, after a review found "a number of resources" included content not suitable for all children, Education Minister Simon Birmingham says.

Senator Birmingham said the government had ordered several sections of the program be redesigned and all references to external websites, except mental-health support services, be removed.

In response to the review, he said the program would also be restricted to high schools only and require schools to obtain parental consent.

"To further ensure the safety of the official resources generated by the program and also to ensure that it is really mainstreamed alongside of other student wellbeing and anti-bullying programs, we’ll be undertaking actions that will see the official resources of the program moved from the Safe Schools Coalition website to the Safe School hub," he said.

Senator Birmingham said while there was no evidence of "advocacy and activism" in classrooms, he believed some people involved in the program had used it to further political agenda.

He said "advocacy and activism" had no place in the program.

"Just as proselytising is not part of the school chaplaincy program, advocacy must not be part of the Safe School program," he said.

"This is here to help children in their wellbeing in schools and people who might have engaged in the past as presenting themselves as representatives of the program and in doing so speaking about political matters and advocating in those political matters have frankly done themselves and the program an enormous disservice and would be well advised to keep their mouths shut on such matters in future," he said.

The review was ordered by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in response to lobbying by conservative Liberals including George Christensen and Cory Bernadi.

A petition calling for an inquiry into the program was being circulated on Wednesday night and had reportedly garnered as many as 40 signatures, including that of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

It followed a backbench briefing by the author of the review, University of Western Australia emeritus professor Bill Louden, with some in attendance reportedly suggesting it was a "white wash".

Mr Christensen said he was pleased by the government’s response.  "As long as all the stuff the Minister said comes to pass, all of the concern is gutted out of the program," he said.

"I still am yet to see the response from the Safe Schools Coalition because we are talking about fundamentally altering what they have proposed and what they have proposed I think was disastrous for schoolchildren so if they reject what the government’s put forward then the funding will just be suspended, that’s my understanding from my conversation with the Minister."

He said the government changes would ensure it was an "anti-bullying program rather than something that’s bringing in queer theory into classrooms and sexual liberation ideals into classrooms."


18 March, 2016

100 CFMEU militants in court over building site disruptions

The number of militant construction unionists facing prosecution for allegedly wreaking havoc on the nation’s building sites has soared to 100, as Malcolm Turnbull places industrial lawlessness at the heart of his election campaign.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, its state branches and officials have also been fined a total of $7 million for industrial breaches which have been dealt with by the courts since 2002 after the Cole royal commission.

The Australian can reveal the Fair Work Building and Construction agency has launched action against 100 CFMEU officials and delegates who are before the courts, accused of more than 1000 industrial breaches.

The allegations include coercion, unlawful industrial action, intimidation and bullying and right-of-entry breaches.

Those before the courts include­ the CFMEU’s national secretary Michael O’Connor, whose brother Brendan O’Connor is Labor’s workplace relations spokesman, construction division head Dave Noonan, and NSW and Queensland secretaries Brian Parker and Michael Ravbar.

Mr O’Connor and Mr Noonan are alleged to have conducted unlawful blockades at disputes in Sydney and Perth. They intend to defend the charges.

The CFMEU has vigorously denied that Mr Ravbar broke indust­rial laws at a Queensland University of Technology site and the Enoggera army barracks in Brisbane and denied that Mr Parker broke industrial laws at a construction site in Sydney’s Harold­ Park.

Employment Minister Mich­ael­ia Cash seized on the prosecutions, branding Bill Shorten "untrustworthy" and "beholden to unions who tolerate lawlessness, whose policy positions are reckless to the economy and whose influenc­e is disastrous for job crea­tion should always be challenged’’.

"Australia’s future simply cannot be trusted with someone who is so willing to continually align himself with the most militant trade unions in Australia," she said. She called for the Opposition Leader to "support the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commis­sion and turn his talk into action".

The prosecutions against the CFMEU, one of the nation’s most powerful unions, with strong ties to the ALP, has reached a crescendo as the Senate impasse over the Turnbull government’s plans to reinstate the Howard-era ABCC threatens to end in a double-dissolution election.

The bill to reintroduce the construction industry watchdog, which was dumped by the Gillard government, is stalled in the Senate after being rejected once by Labor and the Greens.

The rejection of the ABCC bill a second time would provide a clear constitutional trigger for a double-dissolution election, which Mr Turnbull could call for July 2.

The Prime Minister would then use the prospect of introducing the ABCC at a joint sitting of parliament as a key election issue building on the disclosures of the Heydon royal commission into trade union corruption.

A spokesman for the Oppos­ition Leader said: "The same laws should apply to everyone without exception."

"The government should be supporting Labor’s plan to double the maximum penalties for all criminal offences under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act."

Muscling up his attack, Mr Turnbull accused Labor of being "in denial about the conduct of the CFMEU and the problems in the construction sector, the lawlessness in the construction sector’’.

"This is not a contentious issue. Last night we saw on television Mr Shorten defending the CFMEU, in denial of all of the breaches of law, the catalogue of court cases.’’

Mr Turnbull said the Heydon royal commission into union behaviour reminded "us of how deep the problems of lawlessness in the construction sector are, but just in case people had overlooked the reality, there it was, laid out, facts’’.

He said the axing of the ABCC had seen industrial disputes and lawlessness increase.

Master Builders Australia chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said the industrial unrest­ in the construction industry was increasing the cost of building hospitals, schools and other projects by an extra 10-30 per cent.

"Worse, these additional costs are imposed on the community because of systemic and in-ground culture of lawlessness exhibited by building unions,’’ he said.

Figures obtained by The Australian reveal the CFMEU and its officials have been slapped with $6.98m in fines since the Howard government’s first building industry regulator set up in 2002 in the wake of the Cole royal commission. Over the same period, the CFMEU has reportedly donated more than $10m to the ALP.

The list of prosecutions before the courts is topped by CFMEU delegate and organiser Duncan McAllister — formerly of the Queensland Builders Labourers Federation, which merged with the CFMEU — who is ­accused of 101 contraventions of industrial law over disputes in Brisbane in 2012 and 2013. Anthony Kong is also involved in the Brisbane disputes, allegedly committing 62 breaches.

Organisers Michael Powell, Gareth Stephenson and Joseph McDonald, Victoria branch president Ralph Edwards and Victoria branch assistant secretary Shaun Reardon have been fined more than $440,000 since 2002 when the Howard government set up the Building Industry Taskforce, which was followed by the first ABCC and ultimately the FWBC, officially known as the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate.

Mr Noonan branded FWBC "highly politicised" and accused Nigel Hadgkiss, director of the Fair Work Building and Construction Inspectorate, of "conducting an overt political campaign for increased powers".

"Mr Hadgkiss has still not explained why he has failed to prosecute one employer for under­payments, sham contracting or the theft of workers entitlements, despite having a statutory oblig­ation to do so,’’ Mr Noonan said.

"The fact that FWBC continues to engage in inflammatory public comment points to the fact that they are integrally involved in the current parliamentary controversies around the ABCC bill."

"Mr Hadgkiss and the Liberal Party are presiding over a serious corruption of public policy."

But Mr Hadgkiss said the "senior leadership of the CFMEU" had "not done anything to indicate that law breaking … is of concern’’.


George Christensen labels academic a 'pedophilia advocate' over controversial Safe Schools anti-bullying program

Conservative Nationals MP George Christensen has accused an academic he's labelled a 'pedophilia advocate' of being linked to the controversial Safe Schools program.

The backbencher, a staunch opponent of the controversial anti-bullying schools program, is among a group of coalition MPs who have written to the prime minister calling on him to suspend its federal funding.

He used parliamentary privilege on Wednesday to name Gary Dowsett, the deputy director of La Trobe University's Sex, Health and Society section, of being behind the anti-bullying program.

'I think it would shock many parents to know that a pedophilia advocate is overseeing the organisation that came up with the Safe Schools program,' he told parliament.

When contacted Prof Dowsett said: 'I really don't want to comment about him.'

Mr Christensen referred to an article written by Prof Dowsett from the journal Gay Information to accuse him of being 'a long-time advocate of intergenerational sex, otherwise known as pedophilia'.

'He says 'how different then is the gentle, tentative sexuality between parent and child from the love of a pedophile and his or her lover. That kind of love, warmth and nurture is an important part of the pedophilic relationship',' the backbencher said.

It is understood the article, entitled 'Boiled lollies and bandaids: gay men and kids', was written 35 years ago.

La Trobe University said it stood by the work of Professor Dowsett and his team. 'We are appalled that a respected academic has been attacked using parliamentary privilege,' a spokesman said in a statement.  'This is a blatant attempt to distract attention from the independent endorsement of the highly effective Safe Schools program.'

Mr Christensen wants funding for the schools program axed or suspended until a 'full blown' parliamentary inquiry is held.

He's unhappy about the process of an independent review in the hands of Education Minister Simon Birmingham, and believes 'gravely-concerned' parents and teachers should be allowed to air their concerns to a broader inquiry.

The Nationals MP says he's got the backing of a majority of his backbench colleagues, in the letter sent to Malcolm Turnbull.

MPs were briefed on the findings of the review on Tuesday night, but left the confidential meeting unimpressed.  Senator Birmingham said he would carefully consider what the reviewers found in terms of the appropriateness of the program's resources.


Another Climate Scientist Indicted for Financial Fraud

Here we go again. Daniel Alongi, a researcher/racketeer with the Australian Institute of Marine Science — though he’s no longer listed on its website — is facing trial for using a scheme to erroneously pocket half a million dollars in taxpayer money that was supposedly being used on climate change research. According to The Heartland Institute, "Alongi has been indicted by the Australian government on charges of defrauding taxpayers out of $556,000 in false expenses since 2008. Alongi has already admitted to creating false invoices, credit card statements, and e-mails to cover his misappropriation of funds." As you might expect, "Alongi’s indictment raises serious questions concerning the credibility of his research," Heartland adds. Meteorologist Anthony Watts says, "If Alongi falsely claimed to have spent half a million dollars on radioisotope testing, it would look pretty strange if he didn’t produce any false test results, to justify the expenditure of all that money."

Any of this sound familiar? It should. Last October, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology chairman Lamar Smith opened a probe into Institute of Global Environment and Society president Jagadish Shukla. Mr. Shukla, you may remember, implored the White House to prosecute climate dissenters. Not only was it an attack on free speech, it also violated laws on government-funded institutions. As Rep. Smith pointed out, "IGES appears to be almost fully funded by taxpayer money while simultaneously participating in partisan political activity by requesting a [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] investigation of companies and organizations that disagree with the Obama Administration on climate change. In fact, IGES has reportedly received $63 million from taxpayers since 2001, comprising over 98% of its total revenue during that time." The climate lobby is all about taking care of the earth — after they’ve taken care of their wallets.


Men are victims of sexism too

This International Woman’s Day I had a light bulb moment about sexism.

The sexism I speak of is not sexism against women; it is the type of sexism that places expectations on men: The very sexism that allowed me to "conveniently ignore" the replacement of a blown out (and extraordinarily hard to reach) light bulb in my home.

Innocuous, perhaps — but suffice it to say, when a light bulb moment involves an actual light bulb, you know the universe it trying to tell you something.

You see, I expected my partner to change the bulb because... errr... he’s a man.  And men fix stuff.

There was absolutely nothing stopping me from changing this freakishly awkward light bulb myself. Nothing stopping me at all. Except a buy-in to harmful gender stereotypes, and a fear of ladders placed precariously on a set of stairs, that is.

Stereotypes give us conscious, subconscious, and unconscious expectations about how men and women "should" behave; and these stereotypes lie at the root of inequality.  Stereotypes have a lot to answer for indeed.

While both my partner and I do lots of tasks around the home that are gender-bending, my decision to ignore this particular light bulb taught me a lesson: I have to fight subconscious sexism more consciously.

Like everyone — I am still learning what personal responsibility toward the principles of genuine equality requires. If I expect my partner to change a hard to reach light bulb, how is that any different from him expecting me to vacuum the house?

It is not.

And here is the twist: HE doesn’t expect me to vacuum; I expect ME to vacuum — and this is part of the same problem. I have bought into the gender stereotype that it "should" be my job to do so, when it "should" not.

It would be foolhardy of me to suggest the thoughts behind of who "should" change the hard to reach light bulbs or vacuum the house in a male-female domestic partnership can sum up the multitude of challenges we face on the road to equality. This is not the case at all. The systemic and institutionalised issues that surround sexism are deeply, breathtakingly complex.

But it is up to all of us to question the stereotypes that play out right under our noses, and in our homes.

I have since realised that saying "Hey honey, have you noticed the air conditioner is stuffed?" is an uncool thing to say. It implies I expect my partner to fix it, and that I expect him to be able to.

I have also realised that half expecting a medal for fixing it myself makes me no different to the man who proudly declares, "I change nappies!"  In both cases, no more than a whoop-de-doo is in order.

Simply put, there are things to be done, and our sex should not determine who does what. The reluctance to embrace non-traditional gender roles (or the idea that we should be rewarded when we do) hurts everyone.

It can be said that road to equality demands us ALL to admit when our thinking could be better.

It can also be said that she who fixes her own airconditioner is twice cooled.


Liberal Party's youngest-ever senator  gives a good speech

The Liberal Party’s youngest-ever senator, James Paterson, wants to scrap the "unbalanced and skewed" national curriculum, move Australia’s Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and reintroduce the commonwealth debt ceiling to crack down on intergenerational debt.

The 28-year-old, sworn into parliament on Tuesday after being selected by the Liberal Party to fill the vacancy left by retiring Victorian senator Michael Ronaldson, made several controversial declarations in his maiden speech last night as he championed the need for free speech.

Senator Paterson urged Australia to "do more" to show its solidarity with Israel, which he said was "not just a beacon of liberal democracy in a seat of despotism in its own region" but a "prosperous, tolerant, harmonious and creative country in the toughest of circumstances".

"The Israeli government have demonstrated time and time again they are the best custodians for the religious and historical sites that are of significance to people of many faiths," he said.

"It would be a symbolic, but important, step for Australia to formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city and to move our embassy there."

The former deputy executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs conceded he was not a fan of Australia’s national curriculum, "on many grounds", and was concerned its cross-curriculum priorities were more aligned with progressive views than Liberal or conservative ones.

The self-described "classical liberal" said the government should license multiple competing private curricula and set basic minimum standards. "This will not only allow schools and parents to select a curriculum which reflects their values, but would also open up the school system to much more diversity, specialisation and choice."

Senator Paterson acknowledged that he would be seen by many as a representative of younger generations and called for the reinstatement of the debt ceiling, introduced by Labor treasurer Wayne Swan and axed by the Abbott government in 2013 with the help of the Greens.


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

17 March, 2016


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is laughing at the absurdity of "Harmony Day"

Good to see Zeg back on deck

Droughts and flooding rains: it takes three oceans to explain Australia’s wild 21st-century weather

It's not global warming after all!  Tim Flannery will be surprised.  He and many others have long attributed any adverse weather event in Australia to global warming

Australia is a land of extremes, and famously of "droughts and flooding rains". That’s been truer than ever in the 21st century; since 1999 the country has see-sawed from drought to deluge with surprising speed.

There was the millennium drought, which lasted more than a decade and culminated in disasters such as Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. Then, in 2011, Cyclone Yasi struck Queensland and a large swathe of Australia exploded under a green carpet of grasses, shrubs and trees.

Filming of the movie Mad Max: Fury Road was moved from outback Australia to Namibia after the big wet of 2010-11, because Australia’s luxurious growth of wildflowers and metre-high grasses didn’t quite match the post-apocalyptic landscape the movie’s producers had in mind. In Alice Springs, the Henley-on-Todd Regatta was almost cancelled in 2011 because there was water in the normally dry river.

Globally, the big wet on land caused a 5 mm drop in sea levels as large amounts of rain were deposited on Australia, South America and Africa. This coincided with an unprecedented increase in carbon stored in vegetation, especially in arid and semi-arid regions of the southern hemisphere. The greening of Australia in particular had a globally significant impact.

Meteorologists have struggled to explain these wild variations in Australia’s weather. Dry years with disappointing crops have been linked to the Pacific Ocean’s El Niño phase (part of a cycle called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)). But despite its huge influence, not even ENSO can fully account for Australia’s extreme rainfall patterns.

Our research, published this week in Nature’s Scientific Reports, offers an explanation. We found that conditions in the three oceans that surround Australia – the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans – combine to amplify each other’s influences on Australian weather.

Extraordinarily wet and dry years occur when the ENSO phase is in sync with two other cycles, called the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM).

The three have been synchronised since 1999, which explains why things have been so volatile this century.
Weather engines

ENSO is the biggest driver of global climate and associated rainfall patterns – unsurprisingly, given that the Pacific is the world’s biggest ocean. The IOD is generated by a gradient in sea-surface temperatures along the equator in the Indian Ocean, while the SAM represents a north-south oscillation in Southern Ocean sea-surface temperatures.

By comparing sea-surface temperatures in the three oceans with rainfall data and satellite images of vegetation growth, we have shown for the first time that abnormally large fluctuations in rainfall across Australia are due to the synchronisation of these three ocean cycles.

For instance, both La Niña and negative IOD bring rain to Australia. When they co-occur, one amplifies the other. This is reinforced still further by a negative SAM, which helps to create the Continental Low, which can interact with the monsoon depression over a large area of the continental interior.

When all of this happens together, it results in extraordinarily heavy rainfall over large parts of Australia, transforming deserts into vast oases teeming with life.
Withstanding the switch

When the rain arrived in 2010, it was abrupt – coming straight after one of the driest years this century. In 2009, only 139 mm fell at the Bureau of Meteorology’s Territory Grape Farm station. The heart of the monsoon depression had been pushed north of Darwin, high pressure blocked rain from central and western Australia, and green plant growth was restricted to a small strip of land from Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory, into Queensland.

Green plant growth across Australia, compiled via satellite observations. Nature Scientific Reports, CC BY

Too much or too little rain can each be problematic. When both happen in quick succession, it is hard to profit fully from the wet or to remain solvent through the dry. In natural ecosystems, bushfires become more likely as the plants swing between exceptional growth and subsequent drying and death, leaving behind huge amounts of fuel. Farmers may need to diversify their livestock numbers and crop types to provide extra resilience to the changing conditions.

Understanding how Australia responds to these extremes offers a barometer for emergency services, farmers and everyone else on the land who will need to adapt to Australia’s lean times as well as the times of plenty.


Safe Schools LGBTI program: Malcolm Turnbull faces backbench revolt

It promotes homosexuality to kids

Malcolm Turnbull faces further backbench revolt over the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, as conservatives within his party vow to push for a parliamentary inquiry into the initiative.

The prime minister initiated a review in February following earlier backbench unrest over which aims to stamp out homophobia and transphobia in students.

When the results of the review were presented to backbench MPs on Tuesday evening, specific concerns were raised about its terms of reference, which did not take into account the appropriateness of material linked to the program’s official content.

"The terms of reference have been substandard because they haven’t given the review enough scope or time," LNP MP George Christensen said.  The scope of the review was designed "so a specific outcome could eventuate", he said.

He called for the program to be radically altered to remove its "political agenda", and a full parliamentary inquiry into its content.

Christensen will on Wednesday circulate a letter to fellow Coalition members to ask them to keep the pressure on Turnbull over Safe Schools. "I am confident that something has to happen on this," he said.  Another Coalition member said: "This is not over; this is just the beginning."

Some backbenchers are concerned that the review, which lasted just over a fortnight, did not visit enough schools that had undertaken the program, and did not interview any parents before reaching its conclusion.

A motion backed by several Coalition senators as well as two crossbenchers to immediately defund the $8m program will likely be moved in the Senate on Thursday.

The education minister, Simon Birmingham, is expected to release the findings of the review later this week.

Some members have privately criticised the minister for "completely misreading the depth of feeling" by conservative members on the program.

But ministerial colleague, Mitch Fifield, played down the discontent.  "Colleagues were very happy that Simon Birmingham initiated the review. We’ll see what the result is and then we’ll make a decision," the communications minister told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

It is believed that Turnbull will not back a parliamentary review of the program, but Labor is calling on him to go further in slapping down conservatives in his party.

"Is he on the side of his education minister or is he going to bow to the incessant, relentless demands of the far right of the Liberal party and scrap the Safe Schools program," the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, asked.

"It’s a voluntary scheme. Schools opt in to the Safe Schools program. Who is Mr Turnbull or the tin foil hat brigade in the right wing up in the Senate to start second guessing school councils, school principals and the administrators?"


Competition law: Malcolm Turnbull abandons opposition to proposed changes

Good in theory but maybe not in practice. Hobbling the people who supply most of our goods is pretty dubious

Malcolm Turnbull has embraced a plan to strengthen legal protections for small businesses and farmers against abuse of market power by big businesses – a change he is believed to have previously opposed – in a major win for the small business lobby and the National party.

The changes were advocated in a review of competition policy by Prof Ian Harper and are backed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, but split Tony Abbott’s cabinet to such an extent that they were deferred indefinitely.

Turnbull, along with the then treasurer, Joe Hockey, the attorney general, George Brandis, the trade minister, Andrew Robb, and the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, are understood to have argued against them at that time.

But on Wednesday he denied he had ever been opposed, saying he had "always taken a thoroughly open mind to this issue" and took a practical rather than "theoretical" approach.

While the Council for Small Business Australia welcomed the change, Catherine Livingstone, the president of the Business Council of Australia, expressed disappointment at the Coalition’s decision.

"If Australia wants to have an innovation-driven economy, this is poor policy," said Livingstone. "We participated in good faith throughout the consultation process, and will continue to work with the government to minimise the risks and unintended consequences from changes to the law."

Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said the National party held the effects test as an "incredibly important" part of the Coalition agreement.

Joyce said while large businesses could drive down costs in the short term, competition was the best result for consumers in the long term.

"What is better for consumers over the longer term is competition," Joyce said. "We believe in competition and this brings about the agility and ingenuity to drive new people into the business field so that they do compete.

"Otherwise you can have a great position for a short period of time but a very much deleterious effect over the longer period of time because you have one person offering one price and if you don’t like it, bad luck."

When Turnbull became prime minister he promised the National party the issue would return to cabinet but did not promise it would be adopted.

Intensive lobbying resumed, with companies including Telstra, BlueScope, Qantas, Coles, Woolworths, Wesfarmers and the Business Council of Australia lobbying to defeat the move, while the Council of Small Business, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the National Farmers’ Federation, the Australian Hotels Association, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Nationals fighting to have it accepted.

On the first day of Turnbull’s leadership, National party senators Bridget McKenzie, John Williams and Matt Canavan crossed the floor to support a Greens motion advocating the change and two Nationals ministers abstained from the vote – in a clear signal of the depth of the party’s opposition.

The Turnbull government did not announce a stance on the issue when it unveiled its response to the rest of the Harper review late last year, instead deferring consideration.

The change is opposed by Labor. Instead Labor proposes a mechanism to help small businesses which would mean they would not necessarily have to pay an opponent’s legal fees if they took unsuccessful legal action. Labor’s plan was backed by the BCA.

Under the government’s proposed changes to section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act a small business would be required to prove that the action of a bigger business had the "effect" of substantially lessening competition, instead of being required to prove that the action had been done with that "purpose".

The change would also remove a section forbidding a big business from "taking advantage" of its market power. The BCA says this would significantly widen activities that might be caught by the act and could push prices up.

Supporters insist the change would encourage, rather than diminish, competition and say the claim that it would force price rises is a "furphy".

"Congratulations to the cabinet for showing gumption," said the chief executive of the Council for Small Business, Peter Strong. "They resisted BCA and Wesfarmers and the like."


An open invitation to corruption

Labor hands unions veto power over who gets work in the ACT

The ACT Labor government has signed a secret deal giving all the unions in Canberra the right to veto tenderers for government goods and services, including in the building industry, identified as a hotspot of union corruption and standover tactics.

All ACT government agencies have been told to "decline to award a tender proposal for ACT government works or services" if the tenderer does not undertake to meet a list of union demands, including examination of company records, the names and addresses of workers and the right of entry for ­unions to recruit members.

Unions are also to be supplied with the names of companies and contractors tendering for business before any contract is let, to ­"advise the government" if the tenderer fails the union test and can ask for a contract to be cancelled if the company breaches the union requirements.

The department responsible for procurement is also required to give the unions a list of employers who breach the agreed government-union conditions.

Last night federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the deal was "deeply disturbing" ­because the ACT government had "outsourced" its business to the unions. "It is clear from the text of the MOU that UnionsACT have ­effectively been given a veto over who the ACT government does business with," Senator Cash said.

"Clearly, deals like this do not promote transparency and ­accountability and the deal is reminiscent of the worst types of behaviour revealed by the Heydon royal commission."

The previously undisclosed memorandum of understanding between ACT Chief Minister ­Andrew Barr and UnionsACT was signed a year ago and declares that the understanding is not just about an exchange of information.

"Consultation means providing relevant information to Unions­ACT and/or the relevant unions as identified by UnionsACT. It means more than a mere ­exchange of information," says the agreement, a copy of which has been obtained by The Australian.

"For consultation to be effective, the participants must be contributing to the decision-making process, not only in appearance but in fact."

The executive director of the Master Builders Association in the ACT, Kirk Coningham, said his members had heard the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union was "going around with a document signed by the Chief Minister" to force people to sign union enterprise bargaining agreements.  "It (the document) confirms our worst fears," he said.

"The CMFEU-pattern EBA in the ACT includes embedded business interests. These are the direct commercial interests of the union under which they sell insurance and training, and other commercial services.  "The embedded businesses raised $1.2 million in direct profit for the union in the ACT in 2013-14 alone."

The "whole of government" agreement also would cover the government’s proposal to build a $430m office block to lease back for ACT politicians and bureaucrats, to be built by 2018. One tenderer for the block is Cbus Properties, the superannuation investment arm of the construction industry.

ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson said last month that the government was considering "a sweetheart deal for Labor mates", given Cbus’s connection to the union movement.

ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja, said: "Labor is outsourcing its procurement to its union masters".

The revelation of the deal, which may have been in force up to 10 years in some form, comes after a slew of disclosures and charges over union corruption in the ACT arising from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption and contentious links between Labor ministers and CFMEU leaders.

The inquiry’s investigations have led to a former CFMEU organiser and previous president of an ALP Canberra sub-branch, Halafihi Kivalu, pleading guilty to two charges of blackmailing a subcontractor over a residential site in Yarralumla.

Then-police minister Joy Burch was forced to resign after the details of a confidential briefing with ACT police on union activities, including right-of- entry rules, was given to the CFMEU.

At the time of the meeting, the union’s construction division and its ACT head, Dean Hall, were being investigated by Australian Federal Police following the royal commission inquiries.

Yesterday a CFMEU statement said the case against Mr Hall would no longer be pursued by the Director of Public Prosecutions as it now fell outside the statutory time period. Charges against CFMEU organiser John Lomax were dropped last year.

The investigation of Mr Hall involved allegations of intimidation of a Worksafe inspector on a Claxton construction site in Canberra in 2013.

The national secretary of the union’s construction division, Dave Noonan, said yesterday the investigation should never have happened. "These actions seem to be designed to create a storm of negative publicity for the union without amounting to anything," he said.

The final report of the Heydon royal commission found CFMEU officials had taken the view it was "compulsory to have a CFMEU EBA in order to do construction work in the ACT" and that "officials may be prepared to abuse rights of entry" to achieve that outcome. The inquiry also found evidence suggesting CFMEU officials were pressured to achieve membership targets.

Mr Coningham said the CFMEU was pressuring businesses to sign its EBA.  "We’ve told our members that this time you really do have a choice ... A large number of Canberra commercial builders are choosing not to sign the EBA, hence the extraordinary pressure now."


Dick Smith says Ruslan Kogan can repair damage to the brand

AUSSIE entrepreneur Dick Smith says he’s "very happy" his namesake electronics store has been rescued by Ruslan Kogan and is confident the damage done to the brand will not be permanent.

The Belarusian-born online electronics pioneer announced this morning he had bought the Dick Smith brand and online operations from receivers Ferrier Hodgson for an undisclosed sum.

Kogan, who made his fortune selling cut-price private label electronics 10 years ago, intends to continue running the Dick Smith store as a stand-alone operation but will leverage his expanded bargaining position to negotiate better terms with suppliers.

Speaking to, Mr Smith, who founded the electronics chain before selling it to Woolworths in 1982, said he had spoken to Mr Kogan yesterday and gave him his blessing.

"I’m very happy. I don’t know him but I understand he’s very ethical and I think his formula is good," he said. Mr Smith said he believed Kogan could repair the damage to the brand.

"I’m hoping he can turn what I consider to be a very short period of total lack of ethics with Anchorage [Capital Partners] back into ethical business again. I don’t think it will take very long at all."

Mr Smith has publicly blamed the private equity firm for the collapse of the company. Anchorage bought Dick Smith from Woolworths for $20 million in 2012 and floated it on the stock market for $520 million 18 months later.

"It’s just common sense. If something is worth $90 million one moment, it cannot be worth $500 million 18 months later when there’s been no change," he said.

"There have been people stopping me in the street to say, ‘Isn’t it terrible what Anchorage did to the company?’ It has been called the greatest private equity heist of all time and I would agree with that.

"I believe Dick Smith would have still been in business if they hadn’t in effect milked $400 million out of it."

But Anchorage managing director Phillip Cave spoke out earlier this month, telling The Daily Telegraph that the firm had made "a significant investment in staff, stores, marketing and the operating systems" before floating the company.

Mr Smith said Kogan’s online-only model and focus on private-label products was the "way of the future", and in many ways was going back to the brand’s roots.

"Before we had the 50 shops, that’s where I made a lot of the initial money," he said. "We were very big in mail order and made a fortune.

"My prediction is that the prices of consumer electronics will keep coming down, and I don’t know how the bricks-and-mortar shops will be able to make enough money to cover the overheads.

"I think his formula is the one for the future. As long as he sticks to being 100 per cent honest and ethical he’ll do very well."

But Harvey Norman shouldn’t be worried just yet, he added. "I think Gerry Harvey is the best retailer in the world without a doubt," he said.

"While Gerry is alive it will be hard for anyone to compete with him. That’s why I think Ruslan Kogan’s idea is really brilliant — don’t get out and compete with Gerry Harvey but compete in low-overhead, web-based sales."

Receivers for the Dick Smith chain failed to find a buyer for its bricks-and-mortar stores, the closure of which is expected to result in nearly 3000 job losses.

While some customers welcomed the news, others pointed out the jobs were still going. "Going online. Rescued everything but the staff. Congrats," Steve Dunkley wrote on’s Facebook page.


16 March, 2016

OECD education chief Andreas Schleicher blasts Australia's education system

We see the fallout from the failure to tackle the indiscipline problem in government schools.  Experienced older teachers have been gradually getting out and are being replaced by poorly qualified new graduates.  Smarter graduates have lots of options and trying to teach unruly students is just not attractive to them.  You mostly have to be pretty desperate to take up teaching in a government school.  Brighter graduates with a vocation for teaching rapidly end up teaching in Australia's many private schools, which are much more orderly. A return of corporal punishment is needed to restore order in government schools.  In some such schools teachers spend most of their time getting the students to shut up and sit down -- during which they learn nothing

One of the world's most influential education experts, Andreas Schleicher, has criticised the Australian education system for falling behind global standards.

Mr Schleicher, the education director of the Organisation for Economic Development, said that Australia had a very significant drop in the results of students at the top of the PISA testing rankings in the past year.

"Australia has lost a lot of students with very good results, it's very significant this round and I think that's something to really think about," he said.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international survey held every three years that pits the world's education systems against each other by testing the performance of 15-year-old students.

Australia's results have steadily declined over the past decade. Last year, Australia ranked 14th behind Poland, Germany and Vietnam, with up to 20 per cent of students unable to demonstrate basic skills.

Speaking at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, Mr Schleicher said Australia's emphasis on having teachers in front of a class over their own professional development was an area that needed addressing.

"[Australia] more or less defines teachers by the number of hours that [they] teach in front of students," he said. "That is part of the problem."  "We treat teachers as interchangeable widgets on the frontline - they are just there to implement prefabricated knowledge."

He said many countries were struggling to keep the best teachers in the profession because of curriculums that restrict creativity.  "There really is a complete lack of intellectual attractiveness to the teaching profession once you have that very industrial work organisation behind you," he said.

The past decade of Mr Schleicher's data-driven research, which has been harnessed by the education secretaries of both the US and Britain, found that several changes have allowed the world's most successful school systems to prosper.

According to Mr Schleicher, high-achieving education systems such as Finland have implemented selective teacher training with high academic standards, prioritised the development of teachers and principals as goals above reducing class sizes and allowed teachers to be creative in their implementation of the curriculum.

These systems also directed more resources to schools that have high numbers of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli frequently cites Finland, where teachers are required to have a master's degree, as an ideal model for NSW.  In September, Mr Piccoli announced new entry standards for teachers, with higher minimum marks now required to enrol for an undergraduate teaching degree.

Mr Schleicher added that Australia's needs-based Gonski reforms, with increased investment in teacher training, were a positive step but that more commitment was needed.  "That is one of challenges in Australia - to make sure the funding continues to be channelled to schools with more needs," he said.

The federal government has not committed to the final two years of Gonski funding. According to school funding expert Jim McMorrow, NSW schools would be $1.27 billion worse off without the needs-based funding injection.


Victorian Premier says authorities will 'smash' violent black  gang

A Leftist politician grows a pair

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has vowed that authorities will 'smash' violent youth gangs after hundreds of Apex members clashed on the streets of Melbourne over the weekend.

Two teenagers with links to the Sudanese-based gang that rioted on Saturday night were arrested over a series of carjackings on Monday when police swooped on them outside a McDonald's.

Armed with knives and guns, more than 100 Apex members were heard chanting 'f*** the police' before launching into a mass brawl that turned Federation Square into a riot zone during the Moomba Festival.

Mr Andrews vowed to crack down on that brand of 'thuggery' and said sob stories about hard upbringings would not be accepted as an excuse for lawlessness.

'I am not interested in poor me stories,' he said, according to the Herald Sun.  'Nobody had to behave the way they did on Saturday night. They chose to.'  'It was an evil choice and one which those involved will deeply regret.

'We will smash these gangs because we will make sure Victoria Police has everything they need to make sure that those who were so violent and lawless on Saturday evening are appropriately punished.'

He said the priority would be equipping police with resources and flagged potential new legislation to ward off gangs.

Special Operations police arrested two Apex gang members outside a fast food restaurant in Dandenong less than 48 hours after the brawl.  The two 18-year-old men, one from Dandenong and the other from Noble Park, were taken into custody just after 2pm on Heatherton Road in Dandenong.

One of the men was struck by a police car during the arrest and has been taken to hospital with minor injuries. The other man is assisting police with their enquiries. 

Scores of people were seen rushing down the streets of Melbourne, with some running over parked vehicles

A Victoria Police spokesman said: 'It is believed the men are affiliated with the Apex gang, alleged to be involved in a recent spate of serious offences including aggravated burglary, car jackings and armed robberies.'

'Today’s arrests are part of the ongoing commitment toward dealing with this violent gang-related offending seen across our suburbs in recent months.'

It was previously reported that a tip off about the vicious gang brawl on Saturday was dismissed as 's**t' by senior officers only hours before up to 100 gang members brutally attacked each other.

A concerned member of the public called Triple Zero on Saturday at around 6pm warning of an imminent riot, the Age reported.

Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp admitted police had received a tip off before the event but said intelligence did not suggest the level of violence seen. He confirmed that some of the gang members punched innocent people in the face before stealing their phones.

Police are investigating if there was also an attempted ‘gun grab’ by one of the youths.

The primarily Sudanese-based Apex gang were filmed causing chaos on Saturday night as more than 100 members clashed in front of families attending a Moomba community event.

The Apex gang had threatened on social media to return and run amok again on Sunday night but police managed to disperse the group.

Earlier reports indicated that two rival gangs were involved in the widespread altercation, however police have now suggested that the incident involved only one group.

The gang is predominantly comprised of members from Sudan but is also made up of people from the Pacific Islands and other nations in West Africa.

Four people were arrested over the incident on Saturday, which forced the closure of Swanston Street and brought trams to a standstill.

Police have arrested 33 members of the Apex gang in the past four months for burglary, assault and car theft before the violent brawl took place on Saturday night in Melbourne's Federation Square, the ABC reported.  

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graeme Ashton condemned the Apex gang's actions and said a special taskforce had been set up in November to monitor the group. 

'The levels of violence exhibited by this group was an increase and escalation on violence... that concerns us greatly and we condemn it,' Chief Commissioner Ashton said.  'The sort of behaviour (on Saturday night) will not be tolerated and we'll be cracking down hard on this particular group we believe was responsible.'

Commissioner Ashton said police believed members of the Apex gang were behind a spate of robberies and car thefts in Melbourne's south where the group hails from.

He said the group had also come into the city for White Night and New Year's Eve celebrations 'looking to cause trouble'.

Hundreds of people flocked to the Moomba festival for a night of festivities when the scuffle erupted

The Apex gang had reportedly organised the punch-up via video messaging app Snapchat.

Dramatic scenes show the melee of youths throwing punches at each other, with police officers out in force to disperse the gang with capsicum spray.

Chairs were hurled as weapons when the gangs stormed the Brunetti's cafe in City Square before bringing trams and traffic to a standstill along Swanston Street.

Police were reportedly aware of the gangs' plans to meet in the city after a photo of weapons, including baseball bats, knuckle dusters and machetes was sent via the social media app.

Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp said police would make sure there were no further incidents. 'My clear message to those who are in any way thinking of engaging in stupid and violent behaviour is - stay away from the city,' he said.

But Mr Crisp also said reports that two separate street gangs were involved in Saturday's events were wrong.  Rather, it was just one large group involved in the violence, and the deputy commissioner pulled no punches when describing the chaos seen on Saturday.

'I'll even call it a riot - from my perspective it was riotous behaviour by this particular group,' he said.

A man armed with a Taser was involved in Saturday night's riot which centred on Federation Square and surrounding areas.

Two young men were arrested for being drunk, another was arrested for assaulting an officer, and a fourth was arrested after allegedly being found with the Taser.

An innocent bystander - a young man - was taken to hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.


NSW government's crackdown on Coal Seam Gas opponents brings out protesters

NSW imports most of its domestic gas for heating and cooking because mining opponents obstruct it from mining its own gas

More than 60 per cent of NSW voters oppose the Baird government's plans to crack down on anti-mining protests, according to an exclusive state-wide poll.

The news comes as about 1000 environmentalists, unions, civil libertarians and the Reverend Fred Nile shut down traffic on Macquarie Street as parliament prepared to vote on the controversial bill on Tuesday.

A NSW government source said it was possible the bill would be passed into law by the state's upper house on Tuesday night. Its passage appears guaranteed with the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party.

But a new poll shows less than 20 per cent of all voters support the measures, while 60 per cent are opposed.

In a troubling sign for the coalition government, more than half of those who declared support for its parties also said they opposed the measures.

"These measures may pass but they will have no social licence," said Greens MLC David Shoebridge. "We will break these laws on the street".

Two lanes and later all traffic on Macquarie Street near the NSW parliament was shut down by the protests despite heavy rain.

Bogaine Spearim, a Gamilaraay man and activist, said: "This proposal is going to deny [our] people access to our sacred land.  "[But] we can't think about the risk of getting arrested. We have to think about the risk of a generation that doesn't have access."

Both the NSW Bar Association and the Law Society have also issued statements condemning the plans to increase ten-fold some fines levied upon anti-mining protesters.

Police would also be given greater powers to search protesters without a warrant and to "move them on".

The law society said the changes did not "appear to be either necessary or proportionate" as police in NSW already had extensive powers to search and detain people.

The bill would also broaden the scope of existing anti-mining-protest laws to expose a wave of coal seam gas protesters  - such as those who chain themselves to machinery - to up to seven years' jail.

"We can't afford a $5000 fine on our pensions," said Anne Thompson, a farmer from Eltham in northern NSW and one of the founders of the Knitting Nannas anti-mining movement. "We're already making jailbird outfits".

The Nannas have been cited by green groups as examples of the kinds of non-violent protesters who may fall foul of the legislation.

But the NSW government argues the laws will simply update existing laws, which have already criminalised the offence of hindering activity on mining, to cover coal-seam gas mining.

The government notes that protests have led to more than 800 interruptions for the operations of one miner, Santos, on its Narrabri site since 2013.

The telephone poll of about 1200 NSW voters was conducted by Reachtel on March 14. The poll was commissioned by the NSW Conservation Council.

A concomitant plan by the state government to reduce drastically fines levied upon mining companies, in some instances from a maximum of $1 million to $5000, is even more unpopular. 80 per cent of voters oppose the move including those who identify as supporters of the coalition parties.

"Mr Baird's decision to push these laws through parliament without community consultation reinforces the perception that he is doing the bidding of coal and gas companies," said the CEO of the conservation council, Kate Smolski. "We would have lost many our most cherished natural areas to mining and logging if Mr Baird's anti-protest laws were in place during key environmental battles in NSW's history".

The NSW Unions movement, which is considering a High Court challenge to the laws also joined the protest.  NSW Labor frontbencher Adam Searle declared the laws "unnecessary".


Opposition in NSW to ethanol mandate legislation

The legislation is just Greenie nonsense

Liberal MLC Peter Phelps "went berserk" during a partyroom meeting and vowed to not support legislation to force small petrol retailers to sell an ethanol blend.  Opponents of the legislation say it will drive up petrol prices by as much as 8¢ a litre.

Mr Phelps - a self-styled libertarian - upbraided the minister with carriage of the legislation, Victor Dominello, during the meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Phelps told the minister it was "illiberal" to force companies to sell a product that "people don't want", according to the source.

He detailed Mr Dominello's publicly available diary summaries, which show he has met with ethanol producer Manildra five times as Minister for Better Regulation.

The NSW Greens have previously pointed out that Australia's largest ethanol producer, Manildra, has donated $4.3 million to the Liberals, Nationals and Labor since 1998.

Mr Phelps then told the partyroom he would not be supporting the legislation when it came into the upper house. He has been approached for comment.

In NSW, the law says major retailers must try to ensure ethanol accounts for 6 per cent of all petrol sold, via the E10 blend. Retailers with fewer than 20 sites are exempt.

But ethanol accounts for only about 2.7 per cent of all petrol sold in NSW.

The government's legislation is expected to force smaller retailers which sell three or more types of automotive fuel to sell E10 for the first time to reach the 6 per cent mandate, with some exemptions.

Small retailers warn they will be forced to increase the price over three years to recoup the cost of upgrades if their current exemption from having to sell ethanol-blended fuel is scrapped without compensation of up to $326 million.

They say this could drive up the price of petrol by as much as 8¢ a litre.

But Mr Dominello has said the changes are aimed at "creating a competitive biofuels industry in which E10 is a cheap and attractive option for motorists, while maintaining choice among other regular and premium unleaded fuels".


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

15 March, 2016

African gang violence comes to Melbourne streets

Violent Sudanese-based 'Apex Gang' blamed for vicious riot which left the streets of Melbourne completely trashed

A violent gang is being blamed for bringing a vicious brawl to the streets of central Melbourne as it emerged members of the group have been scrutinised by police for several months.

Police had arrested 33 members of the Apex gang in the past four months for burglary, assault and car theft before a violent brawl took place with a rival gang on Saturday night in Melbourne's Federation Square, the ABC reports.

The primarily Sudanese-based Apex gang and suspected members of the Islander 21 gang were filmed causing chaos on Saturday night as more than 100 of them fought amongst each other in front of terrified families who were attending the Moomba community event.

The Apex gang had threatened on social media to return and run amok again on Sunday night but police managed to disperse the group.

Four people were arrested over the incident on Saturday, which forced the closure of Swanston Street and brought trams to a standstill.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graeme Ashton condemned the Apex gang's actions and said a special taskforce had been set up in November to monitor the group. 

'The levels of violence exhibited by this group was an increase and escalation on violence... that concerns us greatly and we condemn it,' Chief Commissioner Ashton said.

'The sort of behaviour (on Saturday night) will not be tolerated and we'll be cracking down hard on this particular group we believe was responsible.'

Commissioner Ashton said police believed members of the Apex gang were behind a spate of robberies and car thefts in Melbourne's south where the group hails from.

He said the group had also come into the city for White Night and New Year's Eve celebrations 'looking to cause trouble'.

Dramatic footage from Saturday night showed scores of people running down the streets, with many jumping over parked cars as loud screams were heard echoing through the city after the fight broke out.

The Apex gang had reportedly organised the punch-up via video messaging app Snapchat.

Scores of people were seen rushing down the streets of Melbourne, with some running over parked vehicles

Dramatic scenes show the melee of youths throwing punches at each other, with police officers out in force to disperse the gang with capsicum spray.

Chairs were hurled as weapons when the gangs stormed the Brunetti's cafe in City Square before bringing trams and traffic to a standstill along Swanston Street.

Police are investigating a 'series of affrays' which occurred in the city and surrounding areas after officers responded to numerous incidents throughout the evening.

'Investigators have also received information regarding four robberies, and an assault resulting in a male being conveyed to hospital,' police said in a statement on Sunday morning.

'There have been several arrests for various offences.'

Police were reportedly aware of the gangs' plans to meet in the city after a photo of weapons, including baseball bats, knuckle dusters and machetes was sent via the social media app.

Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp said police would make sure there were no further incidents.

'My clear message to those who are in any way thinking of engaging in stupid and violent behaviour is - stay away from the city,' he said.

But Mr Crisp also said reports that two separate street gangs were involved in Saturday's events were wrong.

Rather, it was just one large group involved in the violence, and the deputy commissioner pulled no punches when describing the chaos seen on Saturday.  'I'll even call it a riot - from my perspective it was riotous behaviour by this particular group,' he said.

A man armed with a Taser was involved in Saturday night's riot which centred on Federation Square and surrounding areas.

Two young men were arrested for being drunk, another was arrested for assaulting an officer, and a fourth was arrested after allegedly being found with the Taser.

An innocent bystander - a young man - was taken to hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.


Charter change, ABC-SBS merger is on the Coalition radar

The Turnbull government has set the stage for the first major review of the ABC’s charter in 33 years, under incoming managing director Michelle Guthrie, and refused to rule out a merger between the ABC and SBS.

In an interview with The ­Australian, Communications ­Minister Mitch Fifield called for the public broadcasters to "work more closely together".

Senator Fifield said while he had no immediate plans to launch a review of the charter as he manages the tricky task of steering the media reform bill into law, he questioned whether the ABC’s legislative framework is outdated, and revealed he would raise the ­matter with Ms Guthrie.

"It’s been a long time since the ABC charter has been examined. I don’t have any current plans to review it but I’ll be interested to talk in greater detail with Michelle Guthrie once she gets her feet under the desk, to have a discussion about whether the charter reflects the world that we’re in and is fit for purpose," Senator Fifield said.

Any move to rethink the ABC’s charter would be consistent with a global trend seen most recently at the BBC. With the proliferation of online media, public sector broadcasters around the world are struggling to define their public purpose.

The British government publishes its white paper on the future of the BBC in May, which will ­determine the scope and purpose of the corporation for the coming decade.

The ABC’s charter was last ­reviewed in 1981, although a short clause "to provide digital media services" was added to section 6 of the Australian Broadcasting ­Corporation Act in 2013.

While the ABC’s charter stipulated that it must "reflect the ­cultural diversity of the Australian community", and "contribute to a sense of national identity", many think its output and new online operations do anything but.

And although the ABC rejects the view of itself as an imperialist conqueror in the digital landscape, there are concerns it has used its $1.1 billion annual funding to ­aggressively expand at the expense of choice by crowding out commercial operators, including news­papers.

Senator Fifield refused to be drawn into the debate, but said he would be "very happy to have a chat to Michelle Guthrie" about the ABC’s charter after she joins on March 28.

"Everyone has a view about the ABC. I won’t make any declaratory statements," he said.

The ABC’s outgoing managing director Mark Scott last month called for a "grown-up conversation" about merging the nation’s two public broadcasters, arguing it could save $40 million a year.

Senator Fifield stressed "it’s not something that I’m looking at". However, he did raise the prospect of a closer alignment to attain greater efficiencies and cost savings. "That’s not to say the SBS and ABC couldn’t work more closely together," he said.

Despite criticisms SBS has moved away from multilingual programming on its main channel in recent years as it steps up efforts to grab more advertising revenue, Senator Fifield said he believed the broadcaster still had a future in public broadcasting.

"I think one of the reasons why we have such a tolerant society is because of the work that SBS has done over the years. SBS has a distinct identity and a distinct role."

The ABC is bidding for fresh funding in this year’s budget to ­expand regional new services, hoping a new triennial funding package agreement will pave the way to hire more journalists across online, radio and TV.

But Senator Fifield dampened expectations of a giveaway budget in May by warning the ABC not to ramp up budget expectations, and overstate its plight by asking for additional funding to meet its ­ongoing functions and responsibilities.

"I’m always a little wary when an organisation is asking for additional money for things that should be its core business," he said. "The ABC should be servicing rural and regional areas."

Asked whether Ms Guthrie’s top priority was to spend the ABC’s annual budget more wisely, Senator Fifield said the public broadcaster should adopt a more pragmatic, make-do approach.

"It’s important for the managing director to recognise that the ABC’s budget, which will be revealed in the budget, is an envelope that needs to be worked within,’’ he said.

"If the ABC identifies something that it would like to do then the ABC will need to work out what are things that it does that are maybe less important so that it can do things that it thinks are more important. It’s important for the ABC, as an organisation, to work within its budget and to prioritise within its budget."


Scientists warn that coral bleaching is getting worse in the Great Barrier Reef

Bleaching waxes and wanes.  It is not well understood but it is followed sooner or later by regrowth

Scientists have warned that mass coral bleaching has started killing off parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

Lyle Vail, who runs the Australian Museum's Lizard Island Research Station north of Cairns, said bleaching had increased dramatically in the past two weeks, especially among shallow water corals.

"A couple of weeks ago you'd look around in the Lizard Island lagoon and see at least 50 per cent of corals were stressed to some level, but none had died," he said.  "Now you look around and see all the corals are highly stressed and a couple of colonies have died."

Earlier this month, Mr Vail said the bleaching was the worst to hit the island in more than 15 years.

He said it would take time for the coral to recover when cooler air and sea temperatures eventually arrived.

"Corals aren't going to miraculously recover. It takes them time, if they're going to survive, to get over such a stressful event," he said. "It will take many weeks for the coral to get as close as it can to previous condition.

"The problem with having these high levels of stress is it will affect their growth and reproductive output in the future."

Mr Vail said other researchers monitoring corals in the area had reported bleaching up to 30 kilometres away from the island.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) had increased "in-water" monitoring over the past two weeks, to check on the extent of the bleaching.

It warned there was a high risk of mass coral bleaching on the reef this month due to the hot, dry conditions associated with the El Nino weather system and high sea surface temperatures.

Mr Vail said there were signs the worst weather was over.  "We're starting to see the sea temperatures go down gradually after a week of cloud cover and cooler air temperatures," he said.


Fiji-born thug, outlaw motorcycle gang member Joshua Nabuto  Vosuqa deported

A BIKIE who beat up a group of soldiers and ended an Olympic decathlon hopeful’s career in a separate violent bashing is one of 15 sent ­packing from Queensland in a federal crackdown on outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said 78 people with bikie links have had their visas ­cancelled and six more have had their visa refused since December 2014 — 15 of them from Queensland.

Twenty-seven are already out of Australia, 31 are currently on remand or in prison and 23 are in detention awaiting removal.

The Courier-Mail understand Fiji-born Joshua Nabuto Vosuqa, who has lived in Australia since he was three months old, is one of those targeted.

The Bandido was jailed for 18 months in 2013 after an unprovoked  assault on a group of soldiers outside Casablanca nightclub in Paddington, inner Brisbane, in 2012.

He had earlier served time for grievous bodily harm over a vicious 2004 beating of a ­decathlon athlete.

Leslie David Gadd, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to a number of charges over a violent attack in which Jason ­Enrique Gravestein was shot in the leg at Little Mountain, on the Sunshine Coast, in 2011, has also had his visa cancelled.

Mr Dutton said the Government was determined to boot out non-citizens who were committing crimes in Australia.


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

NSW Liberals call for national debates on climate change science

The NSW Liberals have formally called on the Turnbull government to conduct public debates about climate change - including whether the science is settled - in a stark reminder of the deep divisions within the party over the issue.

A motion passed at the party's state council calls on the government to "arrange and hold public debates/discussions" between scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and "independent climate scientists".

The motion says the events should cover "the global warming/climate change debate"; "the claims by the IPCC"; and the statement "is all the science settled".

It proposes the first debate be held in Sydney, the second in Melbourne and "the others to take place one in each state".

Fairfax Media understands the motion passed with support of more than 70 per cent of delegates at the state council meeting held on the Central Coast last weekend.

A second motion called on the Turnbull government to hold an inquiry into Australia's engagement with the United Nations on climate change and report back to the party by mid-year.

But an amendment by NSW MLC Catherine Cusack, supported by left faction powerbroker Michael Photios, ensured the motion was sent off to the party's platform committee for consideration at a later stage.

The motions - which were debated after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had left the room following his speech - reveal the level of climate change scepticism among the Liberal base in NSW.

Sources say Mr Turnbull - known to strongly support action on climate change - was heckled by sections of the party during his speech and a large section of delegates refused to rise when he was given a standing ovation.

The successful motion will be conveyed to federal environment minister Greg Hunt. Mr Hunt's office did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for the NSW Liberal Party said: "We encourage robust debate of policy motions at state council".

Mr Turnbull has been accused of compromising his principles on climate policy since taking the prime ministership from Tony Abbott, who had previously described debate around the science of climate change as "absolute crap".

Conservative government MPs warned Turnbull not to stray to the left on climate change when he took the leadership.

Despite supporting the measure as opposition leader, Mr Turnbull does not now support an emissions trading scheme to cut Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

The federal government says it still intends to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which funds renewable energy infrastructure.

Mr Turnbull has also been criticised for failing to intervene to stop cuts to the CSIRO's climate monitoring and modelling units.

Read more:

14 March, 2016

Students to be taught Feminism at Melbourne school

Feminism is severely out of touch with reality so this is just brainwashing

Fitzroy High School, located in Melbourne has addressed gender equality and launched a new subject in the curriculum focusing on ‘feminism’. The subject is called ‘Fightback: Addressing Everyday Sexism in Australian Schools’.

The topics that are covered over 30 lessons include: domestic violence, media representation of woman, statistical breakdowns around work and visibility of woman in sport.

The Fitzroy Feminist Collective is a group of students who gather to put up posters around the school and proclaim their frustrations to the school board. Each member of the group has a different reason why they needed feminism as a subject in the school.

For Nia aged 17, she thought the growing stereotype of woman ‘living’ in the kitchen was a concern and for Zsuzsa, it was a lack of recognition for woman in sport.

Teacher in charge of the Fitzroy Feminist Collective group, Briony O’Keeffe says she is trying to get young men and woman to think more critically and engage in fighting sexist behavior on a daily basis around their area.

"We wanted to make sure we didn’t reinforce that and show that gender inequality is just one side of discrimination, there is race and sexuality – and you can experience it at an intersecting basis." says Ms O’Keeffe.

"It’s not teaching kids to be feminists, or a political ideology, it’s teaching kids about gender inequality and that it does exist" said student and group member, Nia Stanford to ABC News.

What has been confusing some of the public is whether they will focus mostly on women and their gender equality or include both sexes and how they are being stereotyped in the media. The last lesson in the course will be acknowledging men and how they are stereotyped in certain aspects.

When writing sources for the website, Ms O’Keeffe’s group has been compared to the American white supremacist movement the "KKK" as men’s rights movement have thought about FHS Feminist Collective poking fun of other men’s movements.


Efforts to Stop Forced Marriages in Australia

Although Australia has taken a number of steps to stop forced marriages, there are still several cases that have caught the attention of media where minors are married under these circumstances.

In most cases, brides are under 18-years-old who have to marry strangers who are much older than them. In February 2013, the federal government highlighted forced marriage issues and presented "The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-Like Conditions and People Trafficking) Act 2013," which the Australian parliament passed in the same year. According to the legislation, forced marriages are a serious crime that entails severe penalties for those who commit it.

Anti-slavery Australia and Plan International have recently released a report where the cases of forced marriage across the nation were examined. It was discovered that there was a minimum of 250 cases where girls under 18 have been forced to marry without their consent. According to The Conversation, Australia, as an entity, took several relevant steps to help save the rights of young girls and women.

The country has already offered legal and social protection to the society along with raising awareness about the effects of forced marriage by educating people, but nothing has shown significant results yet. Hence, the nation is expected to make even stricter rules to put a halt to forced marriage issues.

Australian law states that when a person marries under threat or deception, it indicates his/her incapability of "understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony." Campaign spokesperson Dr. Eman Sharobeem was also a victim of this arranged set-up. She was only 14 years old when she had to marry a man who was 12 years older to her. The arranged marriage, unfortunately, resulted to 14 years of physical torture that only ended when her husband died of illness.

"In the past year alone we have dealt with 13 cases amongst our clients … we have been at the front, dealing with it and dealing with the clients and the family directly," Sharobeem said as quoted by Westender Australia."I am not surprised and not shocked by the number of cases I have seen, this is a very big problem."

To make the legislation even more substantial, an amendment was welcomed in late 2015 that stated that a person under 16 will not be eligible to give consent to a marriage.


Australia, Canada, NZ and UK support EU-style free movement, new poll says

Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and Britons would like the right to live and work in each other's nations without the need for a visa, a new poll suggests.

The survey, carried out by The Royal Commonwealth Society, shows significant levels of support for a European Union-style system of free movement between the four nations.

Seventy per cent of Australians were in favour of the idea with only one in ten opposed.

Support was stronger among Canadians (75 per cent), New Zealanders (82 per cent) and people under the age of 35.

The policy proposal was least popular in Britain, where 58 per cent of those surveyed backed it and one in five did not think it was a good idea.

"I think it could work," said Lord Howell of Guilford, president of the Royal Commonwealth Society.  "We need to welcome our friends with open arms when they visit us, and, in doing so, work to ensure as much free mobility as possible."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea seemed incredibly popular among young Commonwealth nationals in some of London's pubs.

"Well I think if you observe history it seems only fair," said Jo McGregor, a barwoman from London.

"Why should people from Australia or New Zealand have a harder time [working in Britain] than people from Europe? We've got the same Queen, we fought the same wars, we have the same language and similar culture."

But former Australian foreign minister and now High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, immediately poured cold water on the proposal.

He suggested exempting countries from visas could be bad for Australia's border security.

"If we had exemptions ... we wouldn't know who was coming in from that country in advance," Mr Downer said. "We have to manage our borders in a coherent sensible way. We're not about to change those arrangements for anybody."

But Mr Downer said there is a "sense of disappointment" among Australians "that it's not as easy to get a visa to work in the UK as it once was".

Britain is trying to reduce migration by restricting the numbers of those coming from outside the European Union.

From April 6, Australians staying longer than six months in the UK will have to pay $380 for the "free" National Health Service (NHS).

Those who want permanent residency in the country will also have to be earning a minimum of $66,500 to be permitted to stay.

Officials and members of the British Prime Minister's party have warned the tighter, more expensive visa regulations could have a long-term impact on the UK's relationship with Australia.

"If the British want Australian companies to continue to invest very strongly in the UK they should think about making sure their visa arrangements are liberal enough that Australian investors are able to bring Australians over to help run those businesses," Mr Downer said.


Anti-Islam party Australian Liberty Alliance says members vilified, labelled bigots

The head of a new anti-Islamic Australian political party says members are vilified as bigots and shut down in mainstream channels if they speak out against the religion.

The Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA) had its WA launch on Saturday night at the Perth Convention Centre, calling for an end to "Islamisation of Australia" and guarantees of free speech, finishing one leg of what organisers said was a national tour leading up to the next federal election.

Almost 200 hundred people attended the event, which had Senate candidates from across the state address the crowd on their policies and values.

ALA director and WA Senate candidate Debbie Robinson said members were all passionate about their beliefs and deserved the right to express them.

"If this is not allowed to progress through the normal democratic, political channels, and people are constantly told that they're not understanding Islam, you don't know what you're talking about, one day there will be anarchy," she said.

She said it had been difficult to secure advertising and coverage in the mainstream media was often "biased". "If you do say something that no one agrees with you're labelled a bigot or called a name, and you're shot down in flames," she said.

"These people here ... they're not a bunch of redneck racist bogans, they're very informed intelligent people, they understand completely what Islam is about, and we're being talked to like fools."

In her speech Mrs Robinson said while the party had more than one policy, Islam was the greatest threat facing the world at the moment.

"We have so much to be thankful for here in Australia," she told the crowd. "But we must never take our liberty for granted. Make no mistake - Islam is at war with us."

The party has pledged to "stop the Islamisation of Australia", ban full-face coverings in public spaces and introduce a ten-year moratorium on immigration from Organisation of Islamic Cooperation countries.

Senate candidate for NSW Kirralie Smith said political correctness was the greatest enemy that everyday Australians were facing.

She said while the party supported a multi-ethnic society it was multiculturalism that was the problem.  "It is divisive and it's censored," she said.

"Australia has a good history of debating all the 'isms', of taking part in debate. But now we're facing this problem where we're not allowed to talk about them."

She finished that particular part of her address with the words, 'I am going to criticise Islam', to a round of raucous applause from the audience.

Along with raising concerns over Islam and more specifically the Koran and sharia law, candidates voiced their frustration over the current government, the education system, the media, the Defence Force and made calls to "bring back manners".

The ALA was founded in October 2015 with controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders flown over for the official launch, which also attracted protests.

The address for Saturday night's campaign launch was kept secret, with members and supporters told of the location only a day before.

Mrs Robinson said the party was working on fielding two Senate candidates for each state.

"We've got a long-term strategy," she said. "We've got to build slowly, part of our strength is to take our time and grow gradually.

"I think it's really important that we have a party like this to provide an alternative and swing politics back to where it needs to be."


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

13 March, 2016

Pathetic "Aboriginal" whiner

She behaved oppressively and then expected those she oppressed to say nothing about it.  And in the event they said NOTHING threatening to her.  It is all in her imagination, probably driven by a guilty conscience about her own poor behaviour.  All that the students said was social criticism.  She's the ugly white woman in the center of the photo below

A Brisbane woman who seeks $250,000 in damages in a racial vilification case against three university students for Facebook posts has described feeling "at risk of imminent but unpredictable physical or verbal assault" after reading what they wrote.

Cindy Prior, an administrative officer who has been unable to work for two years since she turned non-indigenous students away from the computer lab of Queensland University of Technology’s Oodgeroo Unit, had "nightmares, fear and sweating", and felt "unsafe and frightened to return to work", according to her newly sworn affidavit.

"I feel completely let down by all the people involved in this episode. It ended my career and my tertiary studies,’’ said Ms Prior, a member of the Noongar tribe.

"I was unwell for a very long time, unable to go outside my home, hospitalised for panic ­attacks and reduced to living off $450 a week for nearly two years. I am deeply disappointed that my private case has now become public, and I have been publicly vilified by people I don’t even know or who know me, or who don’t know the full story which led to the ending of my career at QUT."

The case, which is shaping as a test of the controversial section 18C of the federal Racial Discrimination Act, came before judge ­Michael Jarrett in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane yesterday as lawyers for the students sought to have the case dismissed.

Tony Morris QC told the court one of his clients, Jackson Powell, whose Facebook post said "I wonder where the white supremacist computer lab is", was being sarcastic and could not possibly have caused "offence, insult, humiliation or intimidation which has profound and serious effects, not to be likened to mere slights".

"There is nothing inherently offensive, insulting, humiliating or intimidating about Mr Powell’s words. On the contrary, it is obvious that Mr Powell was making a joke,’’ Mr Morris said.

"There is no reference to Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders or indigenous persons … there is an unequivocal and emphatic protest against racial segregation, regardless of the particular race, colour, or national or ethnic origins of the persons who benefit from such segregation.

"At worst the joke was in bad taste, but there was no evidence anyone (including Ms Prior) was offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated."

Mr Morris said his other client, Calum Thwaites, had insisted he had not made a Facebook post that featured the word "nigger", and he had complained to Facebook an unknown person had set up a false profile. There was not a shred of evidence to suggest Mr Thwaites was not being truthful.

Section 18C constituted an "extreme ... encroachment on ­traditional liberties, including freedom of speech".

Michael Henry, counsel for the third student, Alex Wood, said his post — "Just got kicked out of the unsigned indigenous students computer lab. QUT stopping segregation with segregation" — was a factual and innocuous statement made after he had been ejected by Ms Prior "in a manner which he perceived to have been aggressive and unpleasant".

"It is not directed at any person but rather at QUT itself as a critique of their policy of mandating substantive segregation,’’ he said.

Judge Jarrett intends to rule only on the students’ arguments that they have no case to answer, not constitutionality questions as to the legitimacy of section 18C.

Ms Prior’s lawyer, Susan Anderson, said she would want to cross-examine Mr Thwaites to test his claims he did not post.

Ms Prior said in her affidavit that she couldn’t "even think about going back (to work) there" as the students "knew me" and she was terrified of being "physically attacked by them".

She told a doctor she had "chest pains, anxiety and an ongoing fear of returning to the workplace due to concerns about my physical safety".

Judge Jarrett has reserved his decision.


Greenies trying to crawl to the workers

After their attacks on coal companies have caused big problems for those companies, Greenies are trying to shield themselves from the fallout of that.  If the companies go broke, it will be bad news for their employees. And the Greenies don't want to be the target of unhappy employees.  So the press release below is an appeal to the corporate regulator to "do something" about the companies concerned.  What the regulator could do is unknown

Environmental Justice Australia and Greenpeace International today alerted the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to a number of Australian creditors who would be at risk should Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal company, file for bankruptcy.

Many of Peabody’s senior lenders are calling for the company to file for bankruptcy in the U.S. However, this could risk Peabody’s Australian employees’ redundancy entitlements, while Australian state governments could be left to foot the bill for rehabilitating mines if Peabody’s financial assurance is insufficient.

Peabody owns nine operating coal mines in Queensland and New South Wales seemingly via a subsidiary registered in Gibraltar. Peabody's Australian assets secure, in part, a financing facility worth US$1.2 billion for the company. Not only will Peabody's likely bankruptcy impact whether its operations in Australia will continue, but the company’s complicated structure may determine if Australian creditors get a fair deal.

David Barnden, a lawyer from Environmental Justice Australia specialising in finance and climate change, said:

"Peabody is in poor financial health. It has a complicated holding structure and is highly leveraged. Bankruptcy appears imminent. ASIC has been asked to investigate whether Australian creditors will get a fair deal if and when bankruptcy occurs. Potential creditors include workers who may have redundancy entitlements and the New South Wales and Queensland state governments which might need to pay for rehabilitation costs beyond any financial assurance held for Peabody's mines. It is a matter of public interest that Australian creditors are protected to the full extent of the law."

Marina Lou, lawyer from Greenpeace International, said:

"Regulators in the U.S. have already raised concerns that taxpayers could be left on the hook for coal mine reclamation obligations as the coal industry declines, and a Peabody bankruptcy would significantly exacerbate these risks. Australian regulators should also be investigating the risks to protect taxpayers and the environment from a potential Peabody bankruptcy.

"Australian taxpayers have already heavily subsidised this industry during its decline and now they may also need to bail it out and clean up its mess after it finally closes down too.

"We need ASIC to act because this isn’t a one-off. There are many other struggling mining companies in Australia and unless proper plans are made for when they go bankrupt, the overall cost to the country and mining workers could be far greater."

EJA and Greenpeace have identified a number of potential creditors of Peabody's Australian operations. They include workers at Peabody's mines who may miss out on entitlements, and the governments of New South Wales and Queensland, which may become creditors if Peabody's financial assurance is insufficient to rehabilitate its mine sites.

In this scenario, either the taxpayer will foot the bill for rehabilitation costs or sites may never be rehabilitated. Unfortunately, the long-term nature of environmental issues associated with voids from open-cut coal mines, such as acid mine drainage, means liabilities may not crystallise until long into the future.

As a result of these public interest concerns, ASIC has been asked to investigate the relationship between Peabody and its Australian subsidiaries.

Press release from EJA

‘Thieving police’ caught out by mock drug sting in S. Australia

MOCK drug growing rooms were used in elaborate stings to collect evidence against a group of police officers accused of stealing from crime scenes.

The Adelaide Magistrates Court on Thursday heard two "test case" houses were set up as "targeted integrity tests" after the Anti-Corruption Bureau was tipped off that officers were allegedly stealing seized property.

Iain Mott, 53, Jed Raymond Coffey, 35, Michelle Kay Hack, 28, and three other officers whose identity remains suppressed, have been charged with theft-related offences. Three of the officers are arguing that they have no case to answer.

The officers were current or former members within the Sturt Local Service Area at the time of their arrest, and allegedly stole alcohol, tools and electronics.

They were charged following joint investigations by police and the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

Prosecutor Jeff Powell told the court the items allegedly taken were of limited value and included two bottles of whiskey, perfume, walkie-talkies, transformers and a Bosch screwdriver set.

He said the intricate trap was ethical as the officers were left "unaided" and uninfluenced" over whether to act appropriately with the items.

"They (the houses) did nothing more than provide an opportunity," he said. "It was up to the defendants whether to remove the items or not."

Mr Powell said recordings allegedly capture one of the officers, whose identity remains suppressed, saying "f---ing good, don’t put them (items) in property, they can go in our toolbox".

Mr Powell alleged other recordings capture one of the officers saying it would be good to give a seized tool to another accused officer’s father.

"They were taken by him dishonestly and in our submission with the intention to infringe on the propriety rights of the owner," he said. "His motives were to treat the items as his own property and, as such, against the wishes of the owner."

He alleged items were not checked in as police evidence and several items were found under the desk of Mott — the supervising officer.

Mott’s lawyer, however, argued his client was not in charge of the team that went to either of the mock drug houses and did not attend the raid.

Mott, and two other officers whose identities have been suppressed, have asked a court to dismiss the charges against them due to a lack of evidence.

Magistrate Paul Foley will hear further no case submissions from their lawyers before making a ruling next month.


Last chance to catch up on vaccination for child care subsidies

The Coalition Government's No Jab No Pay policy is encouraging parents to do the right thing for their children and public health, with a sharp rise in the number of children being immunised against preventable diseases.

This is great news for Australian children and our community.

The spread of many dangerous diseases can be prevented, and we must do all we reasonably can to protect all children. The benefits for the broader community from high rates of immunisation are vital.

The Commonwealth Government is aiming to increase this number to at least 95 per cent to ensure Australia has herd immunity for diseases like measles, whooping cough and chicken pox.

Babies under six months are at the greatest risk of severe whooping cough disease and death. High vaccination rates help to protect our most vulnerable, including young babies and those unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Parents who fail to fully immunise their child according to the National Immunisation Program, are putting their child and the community at risk of infectious diseases.

Scientific research confirms immunisation is the safest and most effective way to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases.

The No Jab No Pay policy reflects this fact, and is designed to lift the national immunisation rates by providing a stronger financial incentive for parents to immunise children.

At the end of 2014, there were 39,523 Australian children registered as conscientious objectors. Twelve months later, that figure had dropped to 30,092.

Following the announcement of the No Jab No Pay policy, the percentage of 12 to 15 month year old fully-immunised children rose from 90.69 per cent in 2014 to 92.28 per cent by the end of 2015.

Families currently receiving Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate have just over a week left to get their child’s immunisations on track by 18 March 2016 to avoid missing out on child care payments.

The overwhelming number of Australian families who have immunised their children before the March 18 deadline has put pressure on state and territories processing these records and this has caused slight delays. Some jurisdictions need extra time to add all the records into the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register.

This is a positive challenge to have.

To protect families who have done the right thing and because the delay in records is beyond the control of parents, the Department of Human Services will continue to pay Child Care Benefit beyond that date until the immunisation register is up to date. 

While some jurisdictions have excellent immunisation rates, others are disturbingly low. The south coast of Tasmania has a vaccination rate of just 73 per cent and Fremantle has a vaccination rate of 78 per cent. This is a terrible outcome for the children of those areas.

Under the Commonwealth Government’s No Jab, No Pay laws, which began on 1 January 2016, children must be up to date with their vaccinations, have a valid medical exemption or be on a catch-up schedule for parents to keep receiving Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and the FTB Part A supplement.

Parents whose children do not meet the requirements by the end of their grace period will start incurring a debt for any child care payments they receive from that date, which they’ll have to repay.

Parents who do not intend on vaccinating their child can ask the Department of Human Services to stop their child care subsidies straight away, to avoid incurring a debt.

Now is the time for parents to get their child fully immunised. It is the right thing to do for their child and the right thing to do for their community.

We know the devastating consequences vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough can have.

As part of the full immunisation package, the Government committed a further $26 million for incentive payments to GPs and other immunisation providers to help children in their practice overdue for vaccinations. The Government’s approach has included: improving public vaccination records and reminder systems and greater public awareness of the benefits of vaccinations.

While parents have the right to decide not to vaccinate their children, taxpayers should not have to endorse a choice that compromises public health. 

Parents whose children are not vaccinated, or do not have a valid medical exemption or are not on a catch-up schedule by 18 March 2016, will start incurring a debt for those child care payments and they will have to repay that debt. Parents should check the letter they received from the Department of Human Services to confirm when their grace period will end.

The No Jab, No Pay policy also applies to the Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A supplement, but the delay will not affect the FTB Part A supplement, as it is paid after 30 June.

For more information about the changes to immunisation requirements, go to

Federal press release

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

11 March, 2016

Australia’s record-breaking heatwaves haven’t convinced its ruling party of climate change

Nor should they.  Below is just another exercise in cherrypicking by hack journalist Steve Mollman.  The BoM says 2015 was only Australia's 5th hottest year so it's unlikely that much has changed in two months. 

An average implies events both above and below the average so determined cherry pickers can always find some places that are above average.  It does seem that parts of Southern Australia have had a lot of unusually hot weather in recent months but some parts of Northern Australia have been unusually cool -- creating a balance that produced the BoM figure. 

And if it's only anthropogenic global warming that could have created the unusual highs in some places, how come it was so hot in Sydney in 1790 (yes: 1790; not 1970) that birds were falling out of the trees with heat exhaustion?  Watkin Tench recorded it all.  See here and also here for a confirmation of Tench's observations

The guff below is just another example of the famous but illogical Warmist dictum that hot weather proves global warming but cold weather does not prove global cooling

The guff appeared in an online business magazine called "Quartz".  They claim that they publish "bracingly creative and intelligent journalism with a broad worldview".  On the basis of the guff below I would say that they publish unintelligent hack journalism with no originality and a conventional worldview

It’s late summer/early autumn in Australia, and few can remember the weather being so persistently hot this time of year.

Mildura, a small town about six hours to the northwest of Melbourne, has suffered through eight straight days of extreme heat, with temperatures of around 40 °C (104 °F). Sydney, meanwhile, has had a record 30-plus straight days above 26 ? (79°F), breaking the previous record of 19 set in 2014. Melbourne, a famously drizzly city, yesterday (March 8) endured the hottest night on record for March, with temperatures lingering around 30 °C (86 °F) and residents tossing and turning in their beds.

Climate change has been politicized all around the world, but perhaps nowhere so intensely as Australia, where the previous prime minister, the Liberal party’s Tony Abbott, was adamant in his denial of it, and his successor, Malcolm Turnbull, is under pressure to hold hearings on it.

Scientists are seizing on the heatwaves now hitting southeastern Australia as proof that something is seriously amiss. They “have the fingerprints of climate change all over them,” Will Steffen, a climate science professor at Australian National University, told the Guardian.

Andrew King, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne, told the heatwave could be attributed to climate change. “The future is not looking good,” he said. “We’ll continue to get future record-breaking heat extremes, and there will be hotter summers with bigger impacts in Australia.”

In politics, however, there remains stiff resistance to the very idea of manmade climate change. Many in the ruling center-right Liberal party agreed when Abbott famously said in 2009, “The argument [on climate change] is absolute crap… however, the politics of this are tough for us… 80% of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”

Although the current prime minister, Turnbull, was seen as a repudiator of Abbott’s position when he took office last September, conservative members of his Liberal party warned him not to abandon the party’s stance of questioning the reality of climate change. Turnbull favors cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions—for which he has been heckled by members of his own party.

Today (March 9) conservative members of the Liberal party in the state of New South Wales formally called upon the Turnbull government to organize a series of public debates to test climate scientists’ claims about global warming.

The opposing Labor party has warned against the move. “If Mr. Turnbull now bends to the will of the NSW Liberals and conducts public debates about climate change,” said Mark Butler, a Labor MP, “he will solidify his party as one of climate change skeptics.”

Victoria, meanwhile, is suffering from both blistering heat and a drought. “It’s just hotter than normal,” one farmer and sheep rancher told the Age, “and that might be the way we’re going, given climate change.”


Ten-year-old Aboriginal girl kills herself in far north Western Australia

It's odds-on that she was abused by Aboriginal men in her community.  Child abuse is rife in such communities.  So I fail to see that this is the responsibility of whites.  To do anything real about it, you would have to change the responses of Aboriginal men -- and it would take very tough intervention to do that.  All the social workers in the world would achieve nothing.  Aborigines in the Kimberly are very close to their tribal ways so have little to restrain them from being rough on women and children

A 10-year-old Aboriginal girl has taken her own life in far north Western Australia, the youngest of 19 Indigenous people to kill themselves in remote areas of the state since December.

Guardian Australia understands the girl died on Sunday in the small community of Looma, 3,912km north of Perth.

It is one of the youngest reported suicides of an Aboriginal person in WA and follows the death of an 11-year-old Geraldton boy, Peter Little, on 19 October 2014, which prompted the state government to announce a $26m suicide prevention program.

A suicide researcher, Gerry Georgatos, will travel to Looma to support the community in his role as a coordinator for the Indigenous suicide critical response unit, a $1m federally funded trial program that aims to provide culturally appropriate assistance to curb the flow-on effects of suicide.

“This tragedy has affected not only her community but surrounding communities that she had been moved around within,” Georgatos told Guardian Australia. “Many families and communities need support.”

It’s the 16th such trip he has made since taking up the position. The first was to support a community in the Goldfields, near Kalgoorlie, where three people took their lives within a month. “We buried three kids in five days,” Georgatos told Guardian Australia. “The graves were alongside each other, three in a row.”

The youngest on that occasion was a 15-year-old girl.

WA’s mental health minister, Helen Morton, said it was “devastating that a child of 10 would even consider taking their own life”. She said: “Circumstances are not yet clear but I find it deeply concerning.”

Morton said the girl was not in the care of the department of child protection, but the department had been providing support to her extended family “and will continue to do so during this very difficult time”.

Scullion said the interim advice he had received was that existing suicide response services were often not well-coordinated or delivered in a culturally appropriate way, which led to the funding of the Indigenous suicide critical response unit.

“The minister is deeply saddened by the news of the latest Indigenous child suicide in the Kimberley and it has reinforced his resolve to do everything he can to prevent suicide and the enormous grief it causes families and communities,” a spokesman for Scullion told Guardian Australia.

Wes Morris is coordinator of the Kimberley Aboriginal Language and Culture Centre which runs the Yiriman Project, a culture-based program led by elders from four language groups that aims to reduce suicide by making young people resilient in their culture. He said suicide would be raised as an issue at regional meetings to discuss the state’s remote community reform plans this week.

“What we need to be investing in is culturally appropriate programs of resilience and healing, to show young people where they fit into their culture and possibilities for their future,” Morris said.



Backlash after Australian official's 'alleged' Nazi comment

A routine bit of legal caution has been blown up as meaning something

Australia's immigration minister Wednesday faced calls to apologise after his department chief used "allegedly" to describe experiences in Nazi Germany during a defence of the government's hardline asylum-seeker policies.

Canberra's tough measures against boatpeople - which involves detaining them in remote Pacific island camps indefinitely while their refugee applications are processed -- have attracted strong domestic and international criticism from rights groups.

Doctors and whistleblowers have also said the detention of asylum-seekers, particularly children, has left some struggling with mental health problems.

A statement by immigration department head Michael Pezzullo, meant to counter a Sydney psychiatrist's criticism of the policies in the Australasian Psychiatry journal, drew fire when he used the term "allegedly" to describe experiences under Nazi rule in Germany.

"Recent comparisons of immigration detention centres to 'gulags'; suggestions that detention involves a 'public numbing and indifference' similar to that allegedly experienced in Nazi Germany; and persistent suggestions that detention facilities are places of 'torture' are highly offensive, unwarranted and plainly wrong -- and yet they continue to be made in some quarters," said the statement released Tuesday.

After a backlash on social media, the immigration department issued a follow-up statement saying "any insinuation the department denies the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany are both ridiculous and baseless".

It also accused critics of distorting the text to "create controversy".


Richard Di Natale floats idea of eventual Liberal-Greens coalition government

Richard Di Natale’s pragmatism has been on show in the 10 months since he was elected unopposed to succeed Christine Milne. © AAP Image/Mick Tsikas Richard Di Natale’s pragmatism has been on show in the 10 months since he was elected unopposed to succeed Christine Milne. With margins in some inner-city seats as tight as a thick, close-fitting wool collar, the Greens leader Richard Di Natale has floated the idea of one day forming government with the Liberal party, but says “it’s much more likely the opportunity rests with Labor”.

The former physician, now senator, told an upcoming issue of GQ the prospect of a Greens-Liberal alliance was “unlikely” but his political mantra was to “never say never”.

Not a sandal or hemp shirt was in sight for the accompanying fashion photoshoot, for which Di Natale posed in clothing by designers Acne, Balenciaga, Christian Louboutin and Hugo Boss.

One shot has already been released showing the Victorian senator in a sleek black turtleneck, drawing comparisons to Daniel Craig, Steve Jobs, Sinead O’Connor and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Di Natale’s pragmatism has been on show in the 10 months since he was elected unopposed to succeed Christine Milne. The Greens have backed the government on pension cuts, corporate tax transparency measures and, last week, on changes to Senate voting rules.

“It’s true that there are some people who say we should never do anything with the Liberal party,” Di Natale told the magazine.

“But it’s my view and the view of my party room, that you have to put the policy first and then the politics looks after itself.”

In the interview, out 14 March, Di Natale also discusses his relationships with Turnbull and Tony Abbott, as well as taking on some in his party on the issue of genetically modified foods.

“It’s about changing the conversation,” he said about genetic modification. “With a position like GM foods, you’re boxed into a pro-science or anti-science camp. It’s actually more nuanced that that.”


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

10 March, 2016

Leftist rubbish below -- from the SMH of course

The return to Iran of "refugees" resettled in Cambodia is hailed as a failure of coalition policy.  It is anything but.  It shows that the Iranians were NOT genuine refugees and that the government was therefore right not to resettle them in Australia

A married Iranian couple who were once refugees at Nauru have left Cambodia and returned to their homeland despite the potential dangers, in a further sign Australia's $55 million deal with the south-east Asian nation has failed.

The office of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed the development on Tuesday, but said Nauru refugees were still encouraged to move to Cambodia.

It means Australia has paid Cambodia $55 million to permanently resettle just two refugees - striking a further blow to the much-maligned deal.

Labor's immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the deal had been "botched" and reflected the government's "abject failure" in dealing with asylum seekers.

"Not only has this government wasted $55 million of taxpayers money on this dud deal, they have also left more than 2000 people on Manus and Nauru in limbo for nearly three years on their watch," he said.

"The inability of this government to secure a meaningful resettlement arrangement with a credible third country is a serious failure on the part of [Prime Minister] Malcolm Turnbull."

The government argues that the asylum seekers and refugees in offshore detention are a legacy of the former Labor government, and it has stopped unauthorised boat arrivals.

The Turnbull government has been seeking third countries in which to settle refugees from Nauru, after Australia refused to accept them. Nauru has offered refugees only temporary resettlement.

A spokeswoman for Mr Dutton said refugees "can elect to return to their country of origin at any time, which is what an Iranian couple in Cambodia decided to do recently".

"The government remains committed to supporting the government of Cambodia to implement settlement arrangements in Cambodia and encourages refugees temporarily in Nauru to explore this settlement option," she said.

"The government holds firm on our policy that you if arrive by boat then you can either return to your country of origin or be resettled in a third country."

As Fairfax Media reported last week, the federal government says two gay refugees reportedly bashed at Nauru, where homosexuality is illegal, should take up the Cambodian resettlement deal.

The first group of four refugees arrived in Phnom Penh in June last year at a cost to Australia of $15 million, on top of $40 million in increased aid that Australia gave Cambodia to sign the agreement.

However one of those refugees returned to Myanmar. The departure of the Iranians leaves just one from the original group remaining, plus another who arrived last November.

Critics say Cambodia is not a suitable place to resettle refugees because it is impoverished, has been accused of human rights abuses and has no refugee resettlement experience.

Mr Dutton was forced to fly to Cambodia in September last year to salvage the controversial deal, after a Cambodian official declared the nation had no plans to resettle more than the four refugees who had so far arrived.

News outlet Cambodia Daily has reported comments by Sok Phal, director of the Cambodian Interior Ministry's immigration department, as saying the Iranian couple "wanted to return back home. You ask me why, I don't know".

General Phal reportedly said he was not aware of any efforts to guarantee their safe return, and that no other refugees on Nauru had volunteered to come to Cambodia since the Rohingya man in November.


Leftist Victorian government turns their desalination plant on

Expensive but good for the farmers

Victoria ignored advice to order desalinated water in 2012 and regional communities are still paying the price, Water Minister Lisa Neville says.

She's ordered $637 million worth of water - 50 gigalitres - from the Wonthaggi desalination plant, which has sat idle since it was completed.

Ms Neville said the previous water minister, Peter Walsh, had rejected advice in March 2012 to order water from the plant.

"He provided his own little advice, which said that as water minister he thought it was going to rain," Ms Neville told reporters on Tuesday.

It did rain in Melbourne. But Ms Neville said regional communities didn't get the benefit of extra water and they still had severe restrictions.

Nationals leader Mr Walsh said on Sunday the decision to turn the desalination plant on was a political one, designed to save Labor some face after signing a bad contract for the plant in 2009.  Victorians pay $1.8 million a day for the plant, whether water is produced or not.


Tree clearing: Indigenous leader Noel Pearson hits out at changes to Queensland's Native Vegetation Act

There's a fair chance the crossbenchers will block this Greenie nonsense

Prominent Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson has hit out against the tightening of Queensland's tree clearing laws, arguing the changes could hurt Indigenous people trying to break out of poverty.

The Palaszczuk Government wants to make it harder for landholders, such as farmers, to clear native vegetation to make way for new agriculture projects.

Mr Pearson said landholders, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous, were better placed than politicians in Brisbane to say what was best for their land.

He urged crossbenchers to reject any State Government moves to tighten clearing laws.

"My prejudice is on the side of landowners," Mr Pearson told the ABC.  "I believe that too many decisions are arbitrarily taken in south-east Queensland for considerations other than proper environmental stewardship. "I'm hugely sympathetic to the position being taken by [farm lobby group] AgForce and other stakeholders here in north Queensland."

The Government is expected to reveal its changes to the Vegetation Management Act next week, but has been criticised for taking more than a year to follow through on the policy, which it announced during the 2015 state election.

However, Mr Pearson challenged the move, arguing it would hold back Indigenous people who want to develop agriculture businesses.

"We have a right to development, and in particular the Indigenous right to development isn't one that has ever been recognised," Mr Pearson said.  "We didn't have a chance in the old days to develop our land, we weren't part of the economy, we were marginalised and excluded.  "And now that we have our land back, what are you saying to us? That we don't have a right to development?

"We're not going to lift ourselves out of the poverty and misery we live in unless we have balanced development."

In a statement, Queensland's Environment Minister Stephen Miles said the proposed changes to Queensland's vegetation laws were based on science.

"The Palaszczuk Government accepts the science that proves that unsustainable rates of tree clearing are damaging Queensland's environment and our climate," the statement said.

"This isn't about farmers versus conservation."

Tree clearing has been a contentious issue in Queensland for more than a decade, following strict clearing laws implemented under former Labor premier Peter Beattie that ended decades of broad-scale clearing.

The Liberal-National Party under Campbell Newman amended that law to enable farmers to clear native vegetation for the purpose of high value agriculture, such as new cane and cropping ventures.

Mr Miles said the former Newman government had an irresponsible approach to climate change and land clearing.

"Land-clearing rates doubled in Queensland in the first two years of the LNP government," he said.

"Queensland is now responsible for 90 per cent of Australia's emissions from land use.

"Some 36 million tonnes of emissions every year is generated in Queensland alone by land clearing."
Pearson urges crossbenchers to reject reforms

Mr Pearson urged the four north Queensland crossbenchers, who hold the balance of power along with a Sunshine Coast MP, to reject Labor's reforms.

Two MPs from Katter's Australian Party have come out against the reform, and Mr Pearson said the independent member for Cairns, Billy Gordon, should do the same.

"We would be urging him to support the objection to this potential move by the State Government," Mr Pearson said.

"It's death by a thousand cuts, the ability for the people of the Cape - including Indigenous people who now have vast areas of land back on our title - to do anything on that land is severely restricted.

"Our opportunities for our future generations to develop have been cut off at the past, so I just think this is an unfortunate agenda the State Government is pursuing here."

However, Mr Pearson concedes clearing can have a negative impact on the land if not done correctly.

"There has got to be proper processes and assessments and clearances in place," he said.


A fair go means lower taxes

Simon Cowan

Over the past 40 years the cost of old age pensions as a proportion of average wages has almost doubled. Each generation has demanded more from the next generation than they were willing to give the previous one.

Having reluctantly provided a penny when in employment, retirees believe they are entitled to demand a pound from current workers. Not surprisingly, the pension now exceeds $44 billion a year, with a $50 billion price tag just over the horizon.

Only part of this rising cost can be explained by increases in life expectancy, with taxpayers now funding an additional seven years in retirement on average over 1971.

A bigger factor is government policy. Since 1911, the real rate of the pension has increased seven-fold and the means tests substantially broadened. Despite sitting on more than $700 billion in largely untouched housing assets, the percentage of retirees dependent on the pension remains very high.

As retirees' political power expands, it is foreseeable that by 2055 the per-worker cost of other peoples' pensions will exceed the average worker's contributions to their own retirement. In effect people may soon be paying more for other people's retirement than their own.

To rebalance the pension, the retirement age should be increased by six months every four years to ensure it keeps pace with increases in life expectancy. When coupled with reforms that include the value of the primary residence in the pension means test, this should ensure the pension is focused on alleviating poverty of those who really need it, not just subsidising the transfer of bequests.

In addition, the age at which superannuation can be accessed should be increased in line with pension age to limit those who retire early and fall back on the pension.

Beyond the question of whether we can afford this is another issue: will future taxpayers tolerate a massive increase in taxation to fund a retirement lifestyle they increasingly believe they may never achieve?

Younger workers feel the system is rigged against them, locked out of the housing market and discouraged at the inevitable tightening of generous entitlement they are currently funding. The generational bargain must be fair to both sides if it is to be truly sustainable.


9 March, 2016

Woman sues as body revokes certificate of Aboriginality

Being an Aborigine can earn you good gravy from the government.  And many people who are objectively white want in.  And in Australia, white can be black -- the government says so.  It's an invitation for fraud. And you can be hauled into court for saying it is a fraud -- as Andrew Bolt found out when he was convicted by a biased Jewish judge who had no regard for his constitutional free speech rights.  I have a niece whose skin is as white as snow but she is entitled to Aboriginal privileges if she wishes to claim them, though she has not done so.  Crazy politically correct rules

A NSW woman teaching Aboriginal culture to school-aged ­children after being stripped of her certificate of Aboriginality in 2012 is claiming compensation in the Federal Circuit Court, saying she was discriminated against.

The Yamanda Aboriginal Assoc­iation gave Elizabeth Taylor, 40, a certificate of confirmation of Aboriginality on May 23, 2010, after it was provided with a handwritten family tree at a meeting in Bowral.

Yamanda says the initial certificate was issued to avoid embarrassment, due to the large crowd of local community members in ­attendance at the meeting, with a full geneaology or family history required­ by Ms Taylor and her family within three months.

But the genealogy was not ­provided and on July 17, 2012, the group cancelled her certificate after a special extraordinary general meeting was called, at which elders argued Ms Taylor had failed to meet two of three criteria defining an Aboriginal person under the NSW Land Rights Act.

In 2014, Ms Taylor launched legal action against Yamanda and the Moyengully Natural Resource Management Group, seeking more than $150,000 in compensation for lost income, pain and suffering. She argues in her submissions she is of Aboriginal descent and identifies as Aboriginal.

Ms Taylor’s court challenge to Yamanda’s withdrawal of her certificate follows revelations in The Weekend Australian that one of Australia’s largest indigenous land councils has called for a standardised system of identity checks to combat an increasing number of false claims of Aboriginality.

Warren Mundine, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indig­enous Advisory Council, has argued that a system to test claims needs to be created to cut rorting and ensure targeted taxpayer money and jobs go to Aborigines.

In June 2012, while they still held a current certificate of Abor­iginality, Ms Taylor and her family applied to register Families Sharing Culture Aboriginal Corporation, a group which describes itself as an educational corporation teaching Aboriginal culture to children in schools in the Southern Highlands area. Ms Taylor is listed as the secretary of the group, whose members include her parents, husband and daughter.

Elizabeth Taylor wants more than $150,000 in compensation for lost income.

Court documents allege that, since her certificate was withdrawn, Ms Taylor won a Smith Family award for her participation as a member of the Aboriginal community, attended NAIDOC celebrations at the local community cultural centre and participated in consult­ations for a NSW state government-funded program.

Yamanda argues that, under the Land Rights Act, an Aboriginal person should be able to provide documentation proving they are a member of the Aboriginal race, that they identify as Aboriginal, and that they are accepted by the Aboriginal community.

Ms Taylor is not accepted as Aboriginal in her community and has insufficient proof of her Aboriginal heritage, despite a search of archives held at the Australian Institut­e of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, they say.

In arguments set out in Federal Circuit Court documents, Ms Taylor argues that the revocation of the certificate of Aboriginality discriminated against her, in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act.

She has argued that the group circulated a letter to indigenous service providers in the Southern Highlands, blocking her from working in Aboriginal-identified positions. Ms Taylor worked in an Aboriginal-identified position at a cultural centre in Moss Vale, 120km southwest of Sydney, from April 2011, after obtaining a 12-month traineeship funded by the NSW government’s Elsa Dixon Aboriginal Employment Program.

In submissions to the Federal Circuit Court, she said she had “disagreements” with Yamanda’s treasurer Eileen Warren, who had signed both the certificate certifying her Aboriginality and the letter notifying her that the certificate would be withdrawn.


Australian Scientists Claim Human-Caused Global Warming in The 1930's

This is just modelling nonsense.  Amusing that they found an effect in the 1930s, though.  The usual Warmist story is that the human effect did not start until the LATE C20.  But that discrepancy will be dismissed with an armwave, no doubt

The last 16 record-breaking hot years globally clearly show the influence of human caused climate change with the first signs appearing as far back as the 1930s, according to new Australian research released today.

“Globally all the record-breaking hot years we’ve had since the 1990s are so much outside natural variability that they would be almost impossible without climate change caused by humans,” said Dr Andrew King, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

But even at country and regional scales, where it is often much harder to detect global warming signals, the influence of human caused climate change still became unmistakable in many regions in the 1990s and for Australia as far back as 1980.

“In Australia our research showed the last six record-breaking hot years and last three record-breaking hot summers were made much more likely due to global warming,” said lead author, Dr King.

“We were able to see climate change more clearly in Australia because of its position in the Southern Hemisphere in the middle of the ocean, far away from the cooling influence of high concentrations of industrial aerosols.”

Previous research has shown that aerosols in high concentrations over specific regions had a cooling effect, reflecting more heat back into space. However, when those aerosols were removed from the atmosphere, the warming returned rapidly.

This cooling impact was seen very clearly by the researchers when they looked at five different regions, Central England, Central Europe, Central US, East Asia and Australia.

Cooling periods, likely caused by aerosols, occurred in Central England, Central US, Central Europe and East Asia during the 1960s and 1970s before accelerated warming returned. These heightened aerosol concentrations also delayed the emergence of a clear human caused climate change signal in all regions studied except Australia.

“In regards to a regional human caused climate change signal, Australia was the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the world. The signal appeared there first and then over the coming years it became apparent elsewhere,” Dr King said.

“Recent increases in aerosols over East Asia has started to slow the rise in the number of the region’s record hot years and summers, again masking the clear climate change signal we are finding in other areas.

“High aerosol concentrations also significantly delayed the climate signal in the Central US.”

To get their results the researchers took a new approach. In the past, most researchers searching for a human caused climate change signal selected specific events and then tried to determine the role of climate change in those events.

By contrast, this study looked at when events started exceeding the range of natural variability. Using climate models, they looked at a world without human produced greenhouse gases and compared it to a world where the composition of the atmosphere corresponded with those found over time in the real world.

Where real world observations rose above the range of natural variability produced in climate models showing temperatures in a world without industrial activity, this indicated the unequivocal influence of human caused global warming.

“Everywhere we look the climate change signal for extreme heat events is becoming stronger. The key now is to determine how much warmer the climate will continue to get, so we can respond to the impacts this will inevitably bring,” said Dr King.

“This is particularly true for Australia, which appears to have one of the strongest climate change signals for a populated country. As a nation, it will need to respond more quickly and understand clearly what future climate change brings.”


What happened to celebrating free speech? Homosexuals prevent criticism of Leftist leader

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras organisers have defended their heated approach to refugee advocates who were told they would not be in the parade after protesting at a Labor press conference.

A video posted by organisers of the No Pride in Detention float shows a heated confrontation with Mardi Gras producer Anthony Russell who told them they would not be in the march if they continued to shout slogans at federal opposition leader Bill Shorten.

'If I bring Bill Shorten out here and one of you people say something to him, you are not in the f***ing have a chat to your people,' Mr Russell can be heard saying.

 'If you don't act like a normal human being all in the parade together, you're out.'

When questioned by refugee advocate Ed McMahon in the video, the producer says 'I don't care, don't harass people,' before stating his role and name as producer Anthony Russell.

A statement released by Mardi Gras CEO Michele Bauer said NSW Police had reported to march producers there had been an 'unacceptable level of harassment and offensive comments from the No Pride in Detention float members being directed towards members of the Rainbow Labor float.

'Police requested parade officials ensure the safety of the Rainbow Labor float participants during the parade.'

Ms Bauer said the No Pride in Detention float had an important message to send and to prevent police from intervening and removing the float from the parade, a last minute decision to reshuffle the run order was made.

She said tensions were 'understandably high' after producer Anthony Russell used strong language toward the No Pride in Detention float participants.

'The level of harassment reported to parade officials, just prior to 12,500 people commencing to march along Oxford Street, meant that tensions were understandably high,' she said.

'Many people had worked for many months on the co-ordination of the 178 floats in the parade, not to mention the work of thousands of parade participants.'

However, No Pride in Detention said in a statement that Bill Shorten's office and Mardi Gras 'pushed to expel the group' for their support for refugees.

Ed McMahon, the refugee advocate who features in the video, said he was abused by a Mardi Gras representative because the float made politicians uncomfortable.

'As a compromise, we were moved back while accompanied by an extra contingent of heavily armed riot police,' he said.

The refugee advocates justified their right to use Mardi Gras to push a political message but said tensions arose not long after Mr Shorten gave a press conference promoting Labor's stance on queer rights.

No Pride in Detention member Evan van Zijl, 29, told the Daily Mail the fallout from the incident highlighted a racist undertone.

‘I think it’s an interesting contradiction that Labor and Mardi Gras are saying it was the decision of the police. There is the video recording of blatant aggression from Mardi Gras,’ Mr van Zijl said.

‘This is not about abuse and harassment of our protesters it’s about a clear reference of whether you are racist or not racist as members of a party.

‘There are many Labor members who sided with us and oppose mandatory detention, unfortunately Shorten’s office isn’t taking that perspective.'

In a statement to the Daily Mail, Bill Shorten's office denied he asked for the No Pride in Detention to be rescheduled to appear several floats behind.

'That's not correct. Given the significance of the occasion, we were keen to ensure everyone was able to march,' the statement read.


Political upheaval in Qld

North Qld politicians combine to grab balance of power. The North has always been more conservative than Brisbane

North Queensland is being hailed as the big winner from Cairns MP Rob Pyne's decision to quit the Labor party and join what looms as a powerful voting bloc.

The newly Independent MP's move leaves the minority government deadlocked with the Liberal National Party with 42 seats in the 89-seat parliament - and gives a distinctly northern crossbench the balance of power.

Mr Pyne joins another former Labor MP, Billy Gordon, whose electorate borders his own, along with Katter's Australian Party MPs Rob Katter and Shane Knuth in that group.

Mr Knuth said Mr Pyne's resignation was a brave move. "This is an opportunity for us as crossbenchers to really scrutinise legislation," he told ABC radio.

When asked about the idea of a voting bloc, Mr Katter said: "We'd be silly not to".  "That's an obvious conversation," he said. "And I think we're obligated to have that conversation."

Mr Katter cited the KAP's sugar marketing bill, which passed parliament in December, as an example of how a cross bench could trigger action despite both parties aiming to implement change for a decade.

The Mt Isa-based MP said a strong cross bench could lead to strong outcomes for Queenslanders, given the state's lack of an upper house and the "rigid" two-party system.  "I think it's an unhealthy part of our political system that desperately needs addressing," he said.  "It's creating a lot of disenchantment with voters."

Mr Pyne has said Ms Palaszczuk still has his support - and would back the government on confidence motions - but he would not declare his support for Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

Griffith University political analyst Dr Paul Williams said the existing crossbenchers had increased their power by a third. "It's very good news for north Queensland - they are winners out of this," he told AAP.

Dr Williams said the region had rightly felt ignored by the government in recent times.


8 March, 2016


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has a remarkably hairy vision of God.  But it's not satirical. Zeg is a man of faith.

Baseless allegations led couple to flee Australia while under investigation by Families SA

Lazy and inept social workers inflict great harm again

  Baseless allegations involving a child's welfare led to an Adelaide couple committing offences which saw them serve jail time in Malaysia, a court has heard.

 The man and woman, who cannot be identified, fled Adelaide in August 2014 for Malaysia with their two-year-old son, while under investigation by South Australia's child welfare authority.

The South Australian District Court heard the investigation was prompted by what eventually turned out to be baseless allegations against the man, now aged 28, involving his young daughter from a previous relationship.It led to his young son being placed under an Investigation and Assessment Order, which meant there was evidence or information to suspect the boy was at risk.

That order was initially for 42 days, during which the boy was cared for by the man's parents. The court was told the couple panicked when Families SA wanted to extend the order by another year and the couple brought forward a holiday to Malaysia.

But in doing so, they failed to comply with a care and protection order and had removed a child from a jurisdiction. The man and woman have pleaded guilty to both offences. The man's 66-year-old father admitted to aiding and abetting the couple's unlawful actions.

The couple faced a maximum sentence of 19 years in jail, but Judge Rauf Soulio indicated that any prison term would be suspended

After fleeing Adelaide, the couple was arrested in Penang by Malaysian Interpol staff as they tried to catch a taxi. The couple spent more than two months in jail in Kuala Lumpur. Adelaide's District Court heard the man faced harsh living conditions. He was forced to share a cell with about 60 other men and lost 36 kilograms while surviving on one small fish and a cup of rice a day.

The woman's lawyer said the time her client spent in the Malaysian prison was extremely traumatising, as she was kept in a small concrete space with about 20 other women.The lawyer said her client, now 25, felt at the time that Families SA could have investigated the matter more promptly.

"They felt very helpless and frustrated," she said."[It was] an act of desperation. It was not well-planned or well thought through."Prosecutor Lucy Boord defended Families SA in court as having acted appropriately on the allegations.


Parents in dark over uni sex survey linked to Safe Schools

Vulnerable teenagers as young as 14, including some who had -suicidal thoughts, were secretly interviewed without parental knowledge about their gender and sexuality by a university -research team with links to the Safe Schools program.

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and -Society, run out of La Trobe Univer-sity, went to significant lengths to ensure its interviews with underage participants took place without parental consent when researching its report, From Blues to Rainbows.

The move has been savaged by education expert Kevin Donnelly and sparked questions from leading bioethicists about -recruiting young people for -research via social media.

Several gay, lesbian and transgender organisations promoted the project by sharing links to surveys on their Facebook and Tumblr pages. It was also promoted via other media, including gay magazines LOTL and the Star Observer, as well as ABC's -Triple J radio station.

Interviews via an online -instant messenger platform were often held during the evening so some participants would not be interrupted by parents who did not know about their child's "gender identity".

"It was imperative that people under the age of 18 were able to participate in this research," the report concedes.

"In order to protect the young people from being outed to their family, the young people did not need to gain parental or guardian consent to participate in the -research."

The report, released in 2014, presents a picture of a highly vulnerable cohort, with half the 189 participants aged 14 to 25 identifying as transgender and 11 per cent as "gender questioning".

Almost two-thirds had reported being subject to abuse or harassment due to their gender non-conformity, more than half had been diagnosed with depression and 38 per cent had experienced thoughts about suicide.

While the project was -approved by La Trobe University's ethics committee, the methodology appears to go against the National Health and Medical -Research Council's guidelines pertaining to the ethical conduct of research involving minors, which recommends that parental consent be obtained when dealing with "children and young people".

Dr Donnelly, who opposes the Safe Schools program, raised concerns about minors being -interviewed about contentious -issues without parental involvement. He said the research participants were clearly vulnerable. A worst-case scenario would be that a participant could emerge as a risk of self-harm, yet their parents or guardians would remain oblivious.

"I would have thought it was unethical; as we know the guidelines are pretty strict for academic research," he said.

"Parents still have primary responsibility for raising their children; as a parent I'd be quite shocked (if my child was interviewed without my knowledge).''

The report, which was released with much fanfare, appears designed to push a case for further rollout of the Safe Schools program - an anti-bullying program that has been criticised by conservative groups for politicising sex education and advocating a LGBTI lifestyle.

Its approach to sex education, in which teachers are counselled that it's "heterosexist" to refer to students as "girls and boys" and children are instructed to role-play gay teenagers, has outraged religious groups and conservative politicians.

The Safe Schools Coalition was co-developed by Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, which is situated within the research centre but funded by the state government. It is run in Victoria by Roz Ward, a La Trobe University academic and hard-left advocate for LGBTI issues. Ward is one of six authors behind the From Blues to Rainbows report, which noted that participants who did not feel supported by their teachers were more than four times more likely to leave school if they experienced discrimination than those with teacher support.

The ABC would not comment on its involvement in seeking survey respondents.

Bioethicist Marie Bismark, who leads the law and public health group at the University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, said that although it was crucial that researchers be able to conduct research involving young people, social media and technology had raised new ethical considerations.

Dr Bismark said some of her colleagues were concerned that medical research council guidelines had not kept pace with these technological changes. "The greatest concern as a researcher is always that a young person may, in some way, be harmed," she said. "I think the ethics review process is a critically important check."

La Trobe University vice-chancellor John Dewar said the research centre had his full support. "It is a centre of excellence in research and has forged an international reputation for the quality and impact of its work over the last 23 years." he said through a spokesman. "The project was subject to rigorous scrutiny by the university's ethics committee prior to being approved and was undertaken to the highest academic standards. As an additional layer of oversight, the project was also reviewed and monitored by a community advisory group, which included young people and support services."

The University of New England, which also took part in the research, distanced itself from the project yesterday. A spokesman said the report was a product of the research project led by La Trobe University.

"La Trobe was the recipient of the research grant and it contracted a UNE researcher to work for La Trobe on the project," the spokesman said.

Depression support group beyondblue, which funded the project, defended the research.

"Sadly the reality is a lot of young adolescents do not have the courage to talk to their parents about their sexuality - some who do are rejected by their parents and are treated very badly and therefore the issue of their sexuality compounds their mental issues," beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett said.


A Queensland university revises the Australian national anthem to feature Aborigines

A Queensland MP is outraged after a university played a revised version of the national anthem at an official function.

Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie, the state's former attorney-general, says he was attending his alma mater University of Sunshine Coast's 20th anniversary event last month when the re-worked version was played.

The university says the lyrics in Advance Australia Fair don't represent contemporary views, so it was decided to play Judith Durham's version instead.

In her version, The Seekers' lead vocalist emphasises Australia's indigenous heritage, with lyrics like "and honouring the Dreaming" and "combine our ancient history and cultures everywhere".

Mr Bleijie said it was inappropriate for the university to play the new lyrics at an official event. "I'm disappointed and offended, but there were many people in the crowd who I know felt the same," he said.  "It's important to make a stand against this because it's wrong."

Mr Bleijie rejected the university's claim the anthem was out of date, given it was only voted on in 1977 and was full of inclusive language.

He said he had written an official letter of complaint to the university and also wrote to federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said that if there was wide appeal to change the anthem, which he argued there wasn't, change shouldn't be driven by university activists.

"These things should always be driven by the Australian people," he said. "It should not be indoctrinated from on high."


Get Your Hands Off Our Children

Hot on the heels of the annual parade of sleaze and perversion in Sydney tonight, attended for the first time ever by our Prime Minister, as well as Opposition Leader, and with police and other groups in attendance, we have even more sexual evil polluting our land.

And when this sexual perversion specifically targets our children, even toddlers, then you know that diabolical evil is now running amok in this country. As a parent it makes my blood boil to hear about this moral madness and sexual insanity.

Consider this article about what the sexperts and social revolutionaries at the Early Childhood Australia are up to as they target our children:

Toddlers will be taught about sex, sexuality and cross-dressing in a controversial national program being rolled out at childcare centres and kindergartens next month.

Educators will be encouraged to use dress-ups to explain cross-dressing to kids and may even take group tours of the opposite sex’s toilets as part of the Start Early initiative.

Teachers will use material provided by Early Childhood Australia, and books such as the book Children’s Sexual Development and Behaviour: Pants Aren’t Rude, by Pam Linke.

Suggestions in the book include teaching about sexuality in a positive way as a healthy part of life, ensuring children aren’t forced to kiss anyone they don’t want to and letting children know that “all parts of their body are good”.

Early Childhood Australia spokeswoman Clare McHugh said the program would reduce domestic violence because “rigid views on gender” were associated with violence and domestic violence.
“Children are sexual beings and it’s a strong part of their identity, and it is linked to their values and respect,” she said.

It comes after the federal government ordered a review of a Safe Schools program for secondary students including lessons on how to bind breasts and tuck in male genitalia.

Ms McHugh said the program was designed to “use everyday moments and interactions” to teach respect, ability and making choices.
“The underlying message is to value difference and be open to difference,” she said.

Dr Anne Kennedy, chairperson of Community Childcare Victoria, said there would be a “wide take-up” in Victoria.
She said the material would be handled sensitively and parents would be consulted.

“Educators deal with these issues all the time and the resources help them do better in the way they respond — in a developmentally and culturally responsible way,” she said.

If even half of this is true it is utterly reprehensible. I have news for these despicable social activists: keep your grubby hands off our children. Children aged 1 to 3 are not sexual dynamos who walk, talk and breathe sexuality. They don’t even know what the lousy word means, and have no need to be sexualised and robbed of their childhood and innocence.

As one expert, Dr. Robert McDonald, a retired psychotherapist and medical doctor, said about a similar program in Canada: “Any action which sexualizes a child before he or she is ready is sexual abuse. Therefore so-called sex-ed for children before puberty is an act of sexual abuse.”

Talk about targeting our most vulnerable and defenceless members of society: these sexual engineers should be locked up for deliberate child abuse. There is no other way to describe this sick perversion. It is bad enough when they seek to corrupt adults, but when they target toddlers then that is certainly enough.

The only good news here about this disturbing story is the comments which are flowing fast and furiously under this article. And boy are they ever ticked off – and rightly so. Here are just a few of them:

-Madness. Utter madness. Stop using our schools as platforms for social engineering.

-Absolutely disgraceful and from the pits of hell. Demonically inspired, with one purpose, to destroy the innocence of young children. Pathetic AND it must be stopped.

-More leftist social engineering from a spineless union controlled, government.

-I have re-read the article and I am gobsmacked. It is disgraceful and goes against EVERY single thing to help raise a happy and well-adjusted child, who will then grow up to be a good and contributing member of society. Look at the key words, respect, value difference, culturally responsible, rigid views on gender and sexuality. Four year olds. Who are these women trying to kid?

-Utterly, utterly ridiculous. This is simply a lawsuit waiting to happen. Leave our kids alone.

-Did this lunatic really say “children are sexual beings!!” Sorry Ms (of course she is a “Ms”) McHugh, it’s not “rigid views” which is causing a rise in domestic violence. It’s a generation of boys being raised by people like her, with no strong male models (Ms McHugh enemies), having their minds poisoned with evil nonsense like this. This is madness. No way will my little girls be exposed to this sort of indoctrination, and woe behold any educational institution that will try it!

-A new more subtle form of child abuse. This time parents should shout out we are as mad as hell and not going to put up with it any more .Leave our children alone. No more tolerating so called experts experimenting and trying to socially engineer our children.

-This is outrageous. Any child under The age of 15 does not need this rubbish forced down their throats. If my local child care centre tries to teach my child this, I’ll make sure he’s away on those days.

-PC is dead, There will be a backlash. A minority cannot simply keep on imposing their stupid ideas and expect the majority will just roll over and accept this garbage.

-A predictable outcome from a society that rejects God and embraces humanism. The moral weakening of a society will be its downfall as has been demonstrated time and again throughout history. Nevertheless truth and justice will prevail in the end.

-Rational atheists finds this sort of social engineering to be absurd, too. Research with both young primates and very young children (even new born babies), consistently shows strong correlations between males favouring toys with spatial stimulus (cars, blocks, gadgets, etc), while females favour dolls. Gender differences is not because of social constructs, as regressive leftist try to portray, but due to biology!

These men and women are thoroughly outraged. And I am so glad they are. There is hope yet for this nation when concerned parents and others speak out loud and clear about this horrific abuse of our children. I am absolutely sick and tired of it. I hope all who read this are too.

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

7 March, 2016

Scientists are ‘exaggerating carbon threat to reefs and marine life’

The article below points  out something that I have often reported, that coral reefs are not easily damaged, bounce back well from damage and can be found in a wide range of water temperatures.  One lot even bounced back after being hit with a thermonuclear detonation

I have for some time now been collecting on one site all the stories I see about coral reefs and a browse through that site will show you what I mean.  The academic journal article underlying the report below is here

An ‘inherent bias’ in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification.

Claims that coral reefs are doomed because human emissions are making the oceans more acidic have been exaggerated, a review of the science has found.

An “inherent bias” in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification, which is caused by the sea absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

It has been dubbed the “evil twin of climate change” and hundreds of studies have claimed to show that it destroys coral reefs and other marine life by making it harder for them to develop shells or skeletons.

The review found that many studies had used flawed methods, subjecting marine creatures to sudden increases in carbon dioxide that would never be experienced in real life.

“In some cases it was levels far beyond what would ever be reached even if we burnt every molecule of carbon on the planet,” Howard Browman, the editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science, who oversaw the review, said.

He added that this had distracted attention from more urgent threats to reefs such as agricultural pollution, overfishing and tourism.

Dr Browman, who is also principal research scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, found there had been huge increase in articles on ocean acidification in recent years, rising from five in 2005 to 600 last year.

He said that a handful of influential scientific journals and lobbying by international organisations had turned ocean acidification into a major issue.

“Such journals tend to publish doom and gloom stories ... stated without equivocation,” he said. The bias in favour of doom-laden articles was partly the result of pressure on scientists to produce eye-catching work, he added.

“You won’t get a job unless you publish an article that is viewed as of significant importance to society. People often forget that scientists are people and have the same pressures on them and the same kind of human foibles. Some are driven by different things. They want to be prominent.”

Dr Browman invited scientists around the world to contribute studies on ocean acidification for a special edition of his journal. More than half of the 44 studies selected for publication found that raised levels of CO2 had little or no impact on marine life, including crabs, limpets, sea urchins and sponges.

Dr Browman said that the edition had demonstrated that there was “a body of work out there that people had difficulty publishing elsewhere” and that “not every study shows that Nemo is going to be doomed”, a reference to the reef-dwelling clownfish in the Disney film Finding Nemo.

The term ocean acidification was also a misnomer, he said, because it suggested that the oceans could become acidic instead of alkaline.

“The oceans will never become acid because there is such a huge buffering capacity in the oceans. We simply could never release enough CO2 into the atmosphere to cause the pH to go below 7 [the point in the pH scale at which a solution becomes acidic].

“If they had called it something else, such as ‘lower alkalinity’, it wouldn’t have been as catchy,” he said.

Dr Browman, a marine scientist for 35 years, said he was not saying that ocean acidification posed no threat, but that he believed that “a higher level of academic scepticism” should be applied to the topic.


Hoagy strikes back -- rejecting the above claims

Hoagy is the go-to man about coral at the University of Queensland -- and a fervent Warmist.  He has come out of his shell in order to hype up alarm about Australia's Great Barrier Reef.  He went quiet for a while when his own research showed the reef to be very resilient but he seems to have recovered from that blow, as he has returned to the fray a few times in recent years.

Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

I was born a short distance from the reef in Far North Queensland so I have heard about it off and on for most of my life.  And for most of my 72 years, I have heard  of imminent doom facing it.  But the doom has not happened. All that has happened is that the reef has gone through periods of death and rebirth that differ from human cycles of death and rebirth mainly in that the coral deaths have never affected the whole reef.  And so the reef is still thriving.  It is still a major tourist attraction.

Hoagy's reply is below.  As you can see it actually does nothing to refute the many research findings about coral survival in all sorts of settings. He just skates around them.  Hoagy is losing it.

But maybe he lost it long ago. As I have often pointed out, corals are at their most prolific in the Torres Strait area, Queensland's warmest waters.  So how is warming harmful to them?  Hoagy has never answered that as far as I can see.  The most that warming would do would be a slight alteration to the distribution of species -- and I am sure Hoagy knows that

If you read The Australian or Britain’s The Times this week, you might have concluded that concerns about ocean warming and acidification are all a big beat-up.

Based on a study of the expert literature, the newspapers ran with a line that the marine science expert community has a penchant for “doom and gloom stories which has skewed academic reporting” because we only report the bad bits and rarely the good.

Given that the majority of scientists in this area (including the hundreds working in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process) do not feel this is the case, what is going on?

Newsflash: the dog isn’t barking

Reporting that a dog isn’t barking can sometimes be as important as reporting when it is. However, if we were to follow the newspapers' rationale, the scientific community should be pumping out endless scientific papers that report that nothing has happened. This would lead to numerous and repetitive studies showing that there is no significant effect (if that were indeed the case).

Print space in science journals is in short and coveted supply. To publish in a respected journal, you need to have something new, significant and well supported to say. In the case of the impacts of ocean acidification, it would indeed be newsworthy if a study reported that a set of organisms was unaffected by ocean acidification (to use our analogy, a newsworthy non-barking dog).

Indeed, some studies have shown precisely that, in the case of some invertebrate and fish species. These studies have received considerable attention given their departure from a literature that is finding a vast number of species that are affected.

This is not surprising. But after several studies have convincingly documented how one group of organisms responds, the novelty, significance and appeal of publishing further papers about those organisms quickly falls away. That doesn’t mean that the observations of no effect have been discarded or demoted in importance. The conclusion of “no effect” will remain until credible studies demonstrating the opposite come along. That is, until a study finds a dog that is barking.

Of course, once we have established that dogs bark, there are likely to be many papers to produce about the significant nuances of dogs and their barking such as the effect of size on barking, how important evening light might be for stimulating juvenile dogs to bark and so on. Again, this the way science produces detailed insight into significant issues like ocean warming and acidification.

Paper weight versus significance?

The importance of an idea is not a simple function of the number of papers. We don’t rate an idea or conclusion solely on the weight of the pages on one side versus another. This is where the newspapers and the original study wrongly assumed that the smaller proportion of “no effect” papers on the subject of ocean acidification was an indication of “skewed academic reporting”.

In reality, the massive and growing proportion of studies showing that ocean warming and acidification have real effects on ocean life shows that there is much to learn and be concerned about when it comes to these issues.

If the headlines from The Australian and The Times were correct, then conclusions about risks associated with ocean warming and acidification could be refuted at every turn. Our projections of the future of coral reefs, based on our allegedly distorted scientific literature, could be safely ignored.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over the past year or so, many marine scientists like myself have been watching a very large blob of ocean water, up to 2? warmer than normal, across the equatorial Pacific and Atlantic oceans. We have been predicting substantial mass coral bleaching across the planet as 2016 unfolds.

At first, you might question our hypothesis and projections – these changes seem to be small changes in sea temperature. Yet we know these small variations can have huge implications. An increase of as little as 1-2? on top of regular summer temperatures can mean the difference between life and death for coral reefs.

However, the past, plus a rich and valuable scientific literature, has taught us that these changes are serious. The Great Barrier Reef, for instance, has lost up to 10% of its corals to these warming events over the past three decades. Over the past 25 years, relatively short periods of anomalously high sea temperatures have killed up to 95% of corals on some reefs.

The evidence suggests that we are likely to lose most corals worldwide in as little as 30 to 40 years if we continue to warm the climate at current rates.

Science works

The ultimate test is whether the elevated sea surface temperatures (the “warm blob”) translates into impacts on the ground. True to expert predictions, Hawaii and many other parts of the Pacific, including Australia, have begun bleaching on cue – hardly evidence of biased and unreliable science.

And as the year rolls out, we should see mass coral bleaching and mortality across the western Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and, later, the Northern Hemisphere as the year progresses and the third global bleaching event rolls out around the planet. We should also see the significant loss of corals from many parts of the world.

There is no doubt that this type of information sounds alarming. It is not, however, a consequence of biased or skewed science. Rather, it is a function of the careful build-up of significant ideas to which we would be well advised to pay attention.


Women finally realizing that feminist goals are not for them

WHEN Taryn, 28, imagines her wedding day and married life, it's not just the white-lace dress, rose bouquet and happy tears she pictures. It's packing her husband's lunch, making the bed every morning and even cleaning the bathroom that she dreams about.

Taryn, an account manager and contestant on Channel Nine's The Farmer Wants a Wife, says that she has always wanted to be a stay-at-home spouse. "Although a career is important, it's never been my main priority in life," she explains. "I've preferred to focus on finding the right person, settling down, getting married and having at least two or three kids."

She's not alone. A recent study published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly found that while females of Generation Y are more accepting of working mothers, there is an increased desire among them to stay at home, compared to the generation before. Thirty-two per cent of millennials in the US believe men are best suited to be the breadwinners and women the homemakers. This figure is up from 27 per cent in the 1990s.
More and more young women want to settle down and stay at home.

More and more young women want to settle down and stay at home.

In Australia, there is a similar subset of young people with traditional attitudes towards the role of women in the household and workforce. Dr Jennifer Baxter of the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) reports there is a significant portion of 15-29-year-olds who agree with the statement: "It is better for everyone involved if the man earns the money and the woman takes care of the home and the children."

Sophie, 25, and her husband Leon came to an agreement very early on in their relationship that she would stay at home while he worked full time and studied. She is proud to be called a housewife, but admits, "These days, it's a bit of a dirty word. Stay-at-home wives and mothers are very underappreciated." Despite the `stigma', Sophie sees motherhood as "the most important job anyone could have" and is happy raising her one-year-old son, Charles, at home.

Belinda, 25, is also happy for her husband Nigel to be the breadwinner in the family, while she looks after their children, Alexis, five, and Brock, three. "Let's just say he doesn't have much patience and gets bored very quickly," she laughs. "He is happy working and I have always wanted to be home with the kids."

Kirsty, 29, is another millennial grateful to be in a position where she can stay at home with her children, Isla, three, and Axel, one, while they are young. She describes motherhood as her true calling and says, "I've always been a very maternal person, even when I was a little girl."

It's curious that a subset of young women in 2016 - a time when females are so strongly encouraged to get a university education, join the workforce and climb the corporate ladder - would rather be at home than in an office. So why are these Gen-Y women choosing to stay at home and nurture the future generation?

Experts suggest it's a reaction to being raised by Gen-X mothers, the first generation of women who were empowered to have both a family and career. That's the case for Taryn, who says her desire to be a stay-at-home wife and mother is a result of her own childhood. "I grew up with a single mum and it was hard to spend time with her because she worked a lot," she says. "I'd go into after-school care on a regular basis because she was on a single income with four kids." Seeing her mother struggle to work and raise a family cemented Taryn's decision to instead choose the domestic option.

Dr Margaret Henderson, author of Marking Feminist Times, agrees the swing back to traditional gender roles is a reaction to millennial upbringings. "They've seen their parents' marriages break up and [have grown up with] working mothers and [seen] the pressure that puts on the family," she explains. "And so they think staying at home is the easier option."

Kirsty laughs at the idea of staying at home being easier. "I don't ever get to sit down. I'm constantly doing jobs: cleaning, washing, cooking meals."

But while it's not any less difficult, staying at home is increasingly seen as an alternative to the harsh reality of the workplace by some women. Dr Henderson describes a culture of retreatism in young women. "We bring girls up saying that they can do anything with their lives, and then they go to university and get a job and find out the workplace is tough," she says. "The home is becoming this haven from a bad, tough old world."

Sociologist and feminist Eva Cox cites a different reason for their desire to stay at home; she thinks it's a reaction to workplaces failing to accommodate the needs of women who are juggling a career and children. "Changes to workplaces have not really made it easier for women to manage both over the last 20 years," she says. "And I think for a lot of younger ones, they're thinking, `Why should I kill myself trying to do both roles?'"

According to a 2013 AIFS report, many mothers are choosing to avoid that stress, with 57 per cent of couple mothers opting out of a job. Dr Baxter confirms: "Australia's female employment rate is lower than the OECD average through those childbearing years."

While Belinda sees herself going back to work at a later stage, she says the benefits of her staying at home outweigh those of joining the workforce right now. On top of saving money on childcare (fees can be as high as $160 a day in Sydney and $120 in Melbourne), she talks about the joy of watching her children grow up. "I get to raise my kids the way I want, without relying on others to teach them the things I want them to learn," she says.

However, even though most non-employed couple mothers may not want a job, some don't have a choice. The financial demands of having a family can outweigh the desire to stay at home. Sophie recently had to return to work in the childcare industry two days a week to contribute to her family's budget.

Kirsty, too, is planning to go back to work "for the sole reason we need to financially". Despite wanting to have more kids in the future and enjoying her role as a stay-at-home mum, she feels she needs to get a job to help her family get ahead, save for a home deposit and maybe a holiday.

In a society where being called a housewife could be considered an insult, is choosing to stay at home instead of pursuing a career a rejection of feminism?

Sophie says no. Strongly. As a proud feminist and housewife, she sees feminism as having the choice to be whatever you want to be, whether that's a homemaker or a hydrometeorologist.

Cox sees feminism as not having to make a choice at all. "The whole point of feminism is to not be forced into making choices according to one's gender."

We should be able to have both a career and children, or one or the other, or neither. That's everyone's prerogative, after all


Swimsuit model hired as policy adviser to Queensland MP

A PhD student and swimsuit model who has been attacked online as a "taxpayer-funded call girl" has been hired by as a policy adviser researching Sharia law for a Queensland MP.

Tamara Candy, 27, told The Courier Mail that she has been conducting research for the Member for Dawson, Liberal-National MP George Christensen.

The PhD student of politics at the University of Canberra said her work for Mr Christensen focused on all facets of Sharia law and how it could work within the Australian legal system

She said her inquiries have led her to believe that Sharia law could one day be recognised in Australian courts for "things like dowries and Sharia divorces".

"We could see legal recognition of it in the courts one day, things like dowries and Sharia divorces," she said.

"The thing that's worrying me is the issue of genital mutilation. Eighty thousand women in Australia are survivors."

On the topic of the burqa, the model said it was not her style "but I've got nothing against women who wear them".

Personally, Ms Candy said she was regularly called a "bimbo" because of the way she presented herself and said she expected criticism.

But she said she should not be judged and took aim at "progressives" who always failed to defend her against verbal abuse.

"It shows the utter hypocrisy of the left," MS Candy said.

"Where are they when a conservative woman is being attacked?"


Australia's Star Chamber is worse than the 16th century original

Obsessional and tyrannical secrecy.  Australia badly needs a 5th amendment

When the 20-year-old man who can be named only by the pseudonym ZZ appeared before the Australian Crime Commission he couldn't even tell his mother where he was going.

He was frightened, tired, suffering from what was later diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from allegedly being tortured by a foreign intelligence agency, and couldn't find a lawyer to represent him.

He could tell nobody that he had been called before the commission, not even his friends or family. To do so would be illegal. He was required, under threat of jail, to answer all the questions put to him truthfully.

"I was there for two hours. It felt like two days," he would later tell a forensic psychiatrist.

While it holds hearings in a way that may look like a court, the crime commission operates more like an intelligence agency; with its day-to-day workings and the identities of those who comes before it kept confidential.

The commission has the power to force people to give evidence against their friends and family in secret. This can later be used to help build criminal investigations.

ZZ is just one of dozens of people being compelled to give evidence against their friends and family in relation to terrorism matters. His case is the latest in a string of people who are often described as "linked to" or "closely connected" to terrorism investigations - although they may have committed no offences themselves - brought before the commission or its state equivalent, the New South Wales Crime Commission.

While terrorism investigations are an important law enforcement function, legal experts have raised concerns about whether these kind of proceedings are really consistent with basic principles of natural justice. And whether they could potentially be doing more harm than good and damaging relationships with communities.

The ACC chief executive officer, Chris Dawson, told Guardian Australia the ACC "adopts measures to accommodate young and vulnerable witnesses. Such proceedings are subject to general administrative law principles in relation to procedural fairness and natural justice."

ZZ was charged and prosecuted with contempt for failing to answer questions before the commission. In 2015 Justice Steven Rares found that while he may have been suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, his failure to answer the commission's questions were contempt.

The contempt case against him is unique. It gives the public a rare glimpse into the work of the commission. Guardian Australia has obtained and published the full transcripts of the ACC hearings that led to ZZ's imprisonment. What follows is an account of the hearing.

The case: ZZ called before the commission as part of special national security investigation

ZZ was called before the ACC in February 2014 as part of a special operation relating to the recruitment and funding of foreign fighters. He was unemployed. He was receiving no employment benefits. He lived with his mother, father and sister. His brother was in prison.

Six days, only three of which were working days, before appearing before the commission, he was served with a summons at his house. When he arrived at the Sydney office, he showed up without legal representation. He said the barrister he contacted was not able to come to represent him on the day.

Standing in the commission before what is known as an "examiner", in this case Geoffrey Sage, the commission's legal officer Kate Deakin and a handful of staff, he was alone.

This would be an opportune moment to describe what the commission looks like, but that isn't possible. The public is not permitted to attend hearings, or even see the inside of the commission.

Those who have seen how it works say that the proceedings can be intimidating.

"You're summoned, you can't have any support persons. You have people sitting around you and you have no idea who they are," said Moustafa Kheir, a solicitor at Birchgrove legal who has considerable experience in crime commission proceedings.

"You have four people sitting by your side. They aren't questioning. They have computers in front of you. They just stare. It's a form of intimidation."

In ZZ's case, the questions begin with a series of outlines about what can happen if he breaches the law by failing to answer a question. They go on to ask whether ZZ has spoken to anyone. Deakin asks whether he told his mother about it. They take his phone and download a copy of its contents. They ask him about his email addresses and social media accounts. They even asked him what his profile picture is.

A lot of the first interrogation is about a sum of money that had been deposited in his account and who gave it to him. It was slightly more than $2,000.

Deakin says, "Mr ZZ listen to me, don't make up stories." And again, "Don't tell me maybe." And again, "Don't interrupt me."

ZZ answered vaguely. He said he didn't know about why some of the amounts appeared in his account. Maybe it was from some people in prison to pay his brother?

Eventually, a photograph was produced, an image from an evening in September 2013. The photograph appeared to show a group of men. One particular man was pointed out, he was dressed in white.

Deakin: "Who's the guy in the white?"

ZZ: "I don't know"

Deakin: "Come on Mr ZZ."

It's a painstaking cross examination and ZZ is alone. Even if he had a lawyer there would be little he could do to object to it and there's no judge in the chamber.

Another photo is produced with ZZ and same man in white in it. ZZ said he wasn't lying before, "I didn't see myself."

A phone call is then played that ZZ says he could not recall and it is put to him that ZZ was talking to the man in white during it. It's about this point of the hearing that the examiner tells ZZ he is considering charging him with contempt and the hearing is adjourned while ZZ is allowed to seek legal advice.

Three days later ZZ travels to the airport and tries to board a flight to Vietnam. He is detained by the Australian federal police and immigration officials and kept from leaving.

He appears before the commission again in February, March and April, each time giving the same answers and now with a lawyer representing him, Phil Butterfield. In a later hearing Butterfield has to give the commission an undertaking that he will destroy his notes relating to ZZ after the examination finishes.

Butterfield presents the commission with a mental health assessment of ZZ from the consultant forensic psychiatrist Richard Furst, who says ZZ appears to be suffering from PTSD. He attributes the diagnosis to ZZ being detained when he was 18 for a month in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, where ZZ alleges he was subject to "severe torture" by a foreign intelligence agency.

It also states that he presented with a high level of anxiety, depression and experiences flashbacks and nightmares from his interrogation. In court the ACC did not dispute his incarceration or his mental condition. Consular officials who saw ZZ during his incarceration said he had told them he was not being mistreated, although his interrogators were also in the room at the time.

"His memory and capacity to recall past events may have been affected, as people often find it hard to concentrate and remember things when stressed, especially in a setting that reminds them of past traumas," the assessment reads. Two other psychologists backed the report.

The ACC put forward evidence from Dr Stephen Allnutt. While he acknowledged that ZZ may have had PTSD, he disputed the opinions of the other doctors that ZZ was suffering from memory impairment.

In April 2015 ZZ was charged with four counts of contempt and brought before the federal court. In a thorough examination, Rares found ultimately that while it was likely he did have PTSD, this had not impaired his memory; he said ZZ had deliberately given statements to the ACC that "were not truthful, and knowingly so".

ZZ was found guilty of contempt and jailed in NSW.

Is it the right approach for terrorism matters?

Before his appearance at the ACC, ZZ hadn't been charged with any offence. His only crime, as far as we can tell, was knowing the wrong people.

While the ACC's initial remit was largely focused on drug and organised crime cases, it now operates far beyond this, and still compels people to give evidence in secret.

Increasingly its powers are being used in active terrorism investigations. Many matters currently before the courts are relying on the unseen probing of the ACC and the NSW Crime Commission in order to help them build cases.

While the responses given by ZZ and others can't be used as direct evidence in criminal proceedings, they can be used to derive further evidence about a case.

Recently, a 16-year-old who has been summoned to appear before the NSW Crime Commission in relation to a terrorism matter sought to challenge the summons on the grounds it didn't afford him procedural fairness. His lawyers argued his vulnerability should have been taken into account.

"He has to deal with the stress and anxiety of this process having been commenced that will see him having to incriminate a sibling," Lawrence said.

Last week an 18 year old woman was charged with failing to answer 31 questions about her husband's involvement in alleged terrorism activities.

In the context of debates over deradicalisation, these questions about the secret commissions are all the more important.

"The Australian Crime Commission regime where they have very draconian powers to force people to give evidence is a great concern. These powers are now obviously being exercised frequently and regularly," said Stephen Blanks, the president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

"There is almost no scrutiny or accountability with how the ACC works. And it is entirely possible that its activities are a significant factor in deterring people in the Australian community from cooperating with law enforcement agencies because of the fear that draconian powers will be used against them."

The ACC takes issue with these concerns. Its chief executive officer, Chris Dawson, told Guardian Australia in a statement: "The Australian Crime Commission is supporting the national effort against terrorism through its foreign fighters taskforce."

"Working under Project Ridgeline, the Australian Crime Commission is increasing the national understanding of the evolving threat posed by foreign fighters, identifying previously unknown threats, and contributing to domestic monitoring and disruption activities."

"Examinations of witnesses are conducted in private with appropriate safeguards for witnesses, including protection against use of their evidence in criminal proceedings and restrictions on publication of the fact witnesses have been examined and what they have said."

And what happened to ZZ? After a month he was released from prison. Although we don't know all the details, the federal court found he had given answers to the ACC after he was jailed that satisfied them.

Little else can be said about him. While some in the community may know of ZZ's fate, they can't talk about it.

Even if ZZ happened to be reading this now, he wouldn't even be able to tell us who he is.


6 March, 2016

Could there be an Australian Donald Trump?

Robert Gottliebsen

Don’t be shocked by the fact that Donald Trump is now the front runner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America.

Instead, understand the forces that have led to his rise and be aware that those same forces are building up here in Australia. In a few years, those forces could well cause either of our major political parties to take a radical turn away from the conventional approach to government.

The business community needs to understand that many of the basic assumptions now being embraced, such as globalisation, free-trade agreements, migration and bad behaviour on sharemarkets (start with shorting and legal insider trading), are now being challenged.

The main force driving support for Trump is that the US middle class is being hollowed out and salaries are not rising. Even worse many are losing their jobs and are being forced to take a salary cut to earn an income. And if the middle class is struggling, it makes it even tougher for low-income people.

At the same time, the whole population is watching appalling behaviour on Wall Street and believes that technology, globalisation and free-trade agreements are pushing the profit share of the US economy higher and higher. If you let that happen in a democracy, then expect a voter backlash. In the US it was simply a question of when and whether the backlash would come from the right or the left.

I have always believed that unless the current US hollowing out of the middle class was addressed, the voter backlash would radically change the presidency in either 2020 or 2024 and could usher in an era of US isolationism.

That still might be right, but we are watching Donald Trump brilliantly handle these issues blaming free trade and migration for destroying the American dream. Trump promises to make America great again.

Remember we are talking politics not whether Trump is right or wrong, so saying Trump is wrong or can’t achieve his goals is irrelevant. This is a sales pitch.

Just as importantly, Trump has isolated another force that may be just as powerful around the world — ordinary people both in the US, Australia and many other places are sick and tired of the political correctness that has infiltrated so many of government bodies and the media. When incomes and jobs were booming it was tolerated. Trump is probably the most ‘politically incorrect’ political aspirant the world has seen since Ronald Reagan.

He has therefore become a folk hero among a lot of people. That does not mean he will win. The Democrats’ Hillary Clinton is a conventional candidate and she is hot favourite to secure the presidency. However, she is already being drawn to the Trump line on issues like the abuses on Wall Street.

Fascinatingly, the Democrats number two candidate, like Trump, has pitched his campaign to appeal to those in the American middle and lower income levels who are being hit.

But whereas Trump’s remedies come from the right, Bernie Sanders remedies come from the hard left.

In the UK, the Labour Party is being led by the hard left, while in Germany the opposition against migration is coming from the hard right. These events are a perfectly predictable response to what is happening in those communities.

In Australia, both our major parties pursue conventional policies and are united on the refugee issue, although there are internal differences within both parties.

But if by 2019 there is still an Australian income recession and the free-trade agreements have not delivered benefits to the middle- and lower-income levels, then the party that loses the 2016 election might well embrace radical polices, either to the left or right. And the Greens have an eye to the gap.

The problem for the US, Australia and all developed countries is that technology is going to replace vast swathes of middle class jobs. Much of Australia’s posterity has come from migration but if we see the current income recession drag on, then Trump- or Sanders-type policies will become popular.

The Business Council is trying to get the government to lower company tax — an incredibly dangerous political move given the income recession and the fact that Australian corporate tax rates after franking credits are not way out of line. What would have been far more sensible for the Business Council in the current environment would have been to advocate allowing companies to start new ventures that are taxed at a lower rate but not to have the benefits of franking credits for the profits of those ventures.

And we are seeing private health premiums rise, which hits the middle class, because governments are simply lazy or incompetent and will not tackle the duplication and waste in the system.

The rise of Trump is an alert to everyone.


Xenophobia jeopardising foreign investment in Australia, Tourism Minister warns

The xenophobia is mostly coming from the ALP and its unionist supporters

Xenophobia could be jeopardising hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign investment needed by Australia, Tourism Minister Richard Colbeck has told the ABC.

Senator Colbeck, who is also the assistant minister for trade and investment, said he was "significantly concerned" about the negative rhetoric surrounding the recent sale of Tasmania's Van Diemen's Land farm to a Chinese buyer — particularly given the dairy giant has always been foreign-owned.

"Sending negative messages based on what can only be described as xenophobia really do concern me," he said.

Senator Colbeck said the one million Chinese tourists visiting Australia every year were taking that negative message home with them.

"One of the most frequent questions I get asked (by overseas interests) is 'are you genuinely serious about foreign investment because the rhetoric we hear in the community indicates something else'."

Senator Colbeck said large investors from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were questioning whether Australia genuinely welcomes foreign capital.

"When you are looking at people who are investing in sums of $100 million at a time they look very closely at where their money is going to go," he said.

"Obviously they want to get a return on it but those subtle differences (in sentiment) can be the difference in them investing here or other places and so our ability to grow our economy in the way we are looking to do it can be limited by us not being seen as a welcome place for foreign investment.

"We will need something in the order of a trillion dollars in foreign investment between now and 2050 [to be globally competitive]."

"So not only should we welcome foreign investment, but we need it."

Figures show that 1,000 jobs are created with every $1 billion of foreign money invested here, he said.
'44 cents in every tourism dollar spent in regional areas'

Senator Colbeck said the number of Chinese visitors to Australia rose 21 per cent in 2015 and their expenditure increased 45 per cent to reach a record $8.3 billion.

Overall, there were 6.9 million international visitors to Australia last year, 8 per cent higher than a year earlier, according to figures released today by Tourism Research Australia.

Total visitor expenditure climbed a record 18 per cent to a new high of $36.6 billion.

"One of the Government's priorities has been to encourage more investment and visitation in regional areas and I'm thrilled that the International Visitor Survey showed strong growth in regional tourism," Senator Colbeck said at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) conference in Canberra.

"Forty-four cents in every tourism dollar is now spent in regional areas and our natural attractions are a key asset with visits to farms increasing by 14 per cent and visits to national or state parks increasing by 13 per cent.

"Visits to wineries increased by a massive 37 per cent, a key indicator that Tourism Australia's targeted marketing campaign, 'Restaurant Australia', has been successful in marketing our world class food and wine to the world.

"Australia's strong international education sector is also having a great impact on visitors.

"The total trip spend for education visitors increased by a huge 30 per cent for the year to $8.7 billion."


Journalist wins gender discrimination case against Islamic group

An Islamic group has been ordered to stop segregating men and women after a journalist won a gender discrimination case against it.

Journalist Alison Bevege had attended a lecture hosted by Hizb ut-Tahrir on October 10, 2014, but was forced to sit in women's-specific seating at the back of a venue in Lakemba, in Sydney's south west - so she sued the group and five of its members for sexual discrimination.

On Friday, the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal said the action was unlawful sexual discrimination, a decision welcomed by Ms Bevege, who told Daily Mail Australia it was a 'win for everyone - progressive muslims and non-muslims'.

In its finding, the tribunal ordered a member of the group to ensure attendees of further meetings were aware that segregated seating arrangements were not compulsory.

Ushers at such events also must be made aware and not instructed to enforce segregated seating.

Ms Bevege, who was 'really happy' with the outcome, said at the lecture she was made to sit with women, and she did not want to leave and give up the opportunity to ask questions at the end by arguing or leaving. 'I had to sit down the back like a second class citizen'.

She had attended the 'politics and plots of the American led intervention in Iraq and Syria' public lecture with the hopes of asking questions and writing an opinion piece, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

At the tribunal's hearing - which no representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir attended - it received documents which said Ms Bevege had not contested the seating and that she would have been allowed to sit with men if she asked.

The group's spokesperson, Ismail al-Wahwah, said the segregation - a 'fundamental consideration in Islam' - was so noisy children were at the back of the venue and did not distract from the lecture, and also so women and children were closer to exits in the case of an emergency.

Although the tribunal ruled against the Islamic group, it rejected a claim made by Ms Bevege for $100,000 compensation.

She had said the money would go to four charities, as she had not suffered financial loss or damage, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.


Pell says meeting with Australia abuse survivors was 'hard and honest'

Cardinal George Pell, a top adviser to Pope Francis, has vowed to help survivors of sexual abuse in his native Ballarat in Australia after meeting a dozen abuse survivors for more than two hours, which he described as "hard" and "emotional".

It came after four nights of intense questioning via video link by a royal commission in Australia that revealed he had never pursued rumours of clerical abuse by priests.

In his controversial testimony, Pell never wavered from his claim that he was kept in the dark about the abuse committed by one of the worst paedophile priests in recorded history, Gerald Ridsdale, even though other senior officials were aware of it. Some of his statements were deemed "completely implausible" by Gail Furness, the counsel who questioned him.

While the cardinal’s testimony was largely dismissed as "dishonest" by the group of survivors from Australia who travelled almost 10,000 miles to Rome to hear him testify, at least one said he believed Pell would help abuse survivors going forward, particularly in areas that required the church’s financial support. The commission is studying institutional responses to child abuse and the Catholic church has been the subject of an intense investigation.

Pell, who is considered one of the Vatican’s top officials and has oversight of the church’s finances, said after meeting the survivors: "I heard each of their stories and their suffering. It was a hard and honest and occasionally emotional meeting.

"We all want to try to make things better, actually and on the ground," Pell said in a statement that he read in front of journalists waiting for him at the Hotel Quirinale in Rome.

He also said he would work with a special Vatican commission to protect minors that was created by Francis in 2014. In Pell’s testimony, he seemed to have only passing knowledge of the committee’s work.


4 March, 2016

American Leftist hysteria comes to Australia

The alleged rape epidemic on American campuses is all unproven allegation.  Whenever rape claims are examined they fall apart --e.g. in the cases of Crystal Gail Mangum, Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Emma Sulkowicz

The Hunting Ground Australia Project, a collaborative, comprehensive campaign around the incidence of, and responses to, sexual violence in Australian universities, launches in Australia this week.

Central to the campaign is a university screening program of The Hunting Ground, the critically acclaimed US feature documentary film. Screenings have begun at universities across Australia. Released in the US in early 2015, The Hunting Ground has had a remarkable impact there, helping to raise awareness of sexual assault on hundreds of college campuses across America.

The film chronicles the personal stories of students who have reported sexual assault on campuses, and the failure of a number of American universities to respond effectively and appropriately to these reports.

While there are significant cultural, financial and structural differences between American and Australian universities and student life, The Hunting Ground Australia Project has confirmed in consultation with the Australian university sector and the National Union of Students (NUS) that there are issues raised by the film that are relevant in the Australian context.

The Hunting Ground Australia Project has bought together a coalition of partners to develop and implement a proactive impact strategy around the film.

The strategy includes a partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Human Rights Centre to develop a national survey tool on the prevalence of and institutional responses to sexual harassment and sexual assault in Australian universities. The survey will be undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission with the implementation supported by Universities Australia.

The Australian Human Rights Centre is also undertaking a research project, Strengthening Australian Universities’ Responses to Sexual Assault and Harassment, to develop a model protocol and policy framework. Research for this project commenced in September 2015, with a review of recent policy developments and academic research in America, Canada and the UK. Final policies and protocols will incorporate best practice aspects of this research and the analysis of the national survey data.

Andrea Durbach, Professor of law and Director of the Australian Human Rights Centre has been working on the development of the survey, and the research project directed at developing best practice policies and protocols. "Given the concerning statistics on violence against women in this country, it’s not completely out of the question that these stats might be replicated to some degree at tertiary institutions. At the very least The Hunting Ground and the work of the National Union of Students has triggered the need to do the research to see if that is the case and how we can start to

remedy deficient reporting processes and ensure effective and appropriate redress. We requested the Australian Human Rights Commission’s involvement in the design and implementation of the survey because we want the survey to be conducted at arm’s length from the universities and by an independent, authoritative, objective expert in this area."

"In 2015, the NUS ran a nation wide survey of women students which resulted in some really valuable statistics at Australian universities," said the NUS National Women’s officer Heidi La Paglia. "In the survey, over 70% of women said that they had experienced some form of unwanted sexual encounter; and perhaps even more alarmingly, the vast majority of these individuals also said that the response they received from their university and or the police was inadequate"

"It's great to see that stakeholders across the sector are taking steps to address the issue "

A further element of The Hunting Ground Australia Project is the development of training resources in sexual ethics, consent and bystander strategies. These are being developed by experienced national experts in sexual assault prevention education, in partnership with the leading national sexual assault and domestic violence service. These programs will be available to universities for both staff and student training.

The Hunting Ground’s Producer Amy Ziering has been closely involved in the Australian project. Ms Ziering says "We’re thrilled that our film, The Hunting Ground, is being released in Australia. We are impressed and heartened by the leadership role that Australian universities are taking on these issues – and hope that their efforts will inspire their global peers to demonstrate similar moral courage and follow suit."

The campus screening program of The Hunting Ground gives all universities and tertiary institutions the opportunity to use the film to begin the conversation on their campuses. Anyone interested in hosting a community screening of the film is encouraged to register their interest via The Hunting Ground Australia Project website (see below).

"Administrators and staff from many Australian universities have recognised the important opportunity the film offers to continue a conversation about sexual violence by scheduling screenings early in the 2016 academic year. We encourage all tertiary institutions and interested community groups to screen the film and engage with The Hunting Ground Australia Project," said the Project’s Impact Producer Allison Henry.

In a statement posted on La Trobe University’s website, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, outlined his support for a series of campus screening events: "I encourage you to attend one of The Hunting Ground screenings and to be part of the positive changes that are needed to ensure that our campuses are safe places for everyone. Together, we can help to eliminate violence from Australian society".

The Hunting Ground was one of six documentary films selected for the 2015 philanthropic Good Pitch2 Australia initiative held at the Sydney Opera House. The leading international forum for documentary filmmaking, Good Pitch brings together filmmakers with foundations, not-for-profits, campaigners, philanthropists, policymakers, broadcasters and key players in the film industry, around leading social and environmental issues, to forge coalitions and campaigns that are good for all these partners, good for the films and good for society.

The Hunting Ground is the latest film by Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, who made The Invisible War – a film directly responsible for influencing

government policy and laws on how the US armed forces respond to and prevent sexual assault within their ranks.

Press release

Cyclists are up in arms at new laws which will see them treated equally with motorists

Big egos

Complete madness!  So started the up-in-arms Facebook post I read last week - one of many deriding police action in recent days to crack down on cyclist behaviour and safety in NSW and Queensland.

The first hot winds of contempt started blowing on Wednesday after it emerged, shock-horror, that police were finally starting to treat cyclists like the equal road users they have long lobbied to be by enforcing signposted speed limits and a stop sign in Centennial Park.

From today, new fines have come into effect meaning cyclists will be penalised to a similar extent to motorists, althought they have won a battle to delay the requirement for them to carry ID.

"F--k the police!" cried one cyclist on Facebook, beneath a story link outlining the action. The post was a reference to the NWA song made famous recently by the acclaimed film Straight Outta Compton.

That outlaw bikie echoed the sentiments of many complaining about this affront to freedom and common sense.

Others said the park’s 30km/h speed limit was ridiculous, and that the intersection in question didn’t require a stop sign at all.

Cyclists urged their brethren to contest any fines issued in court, both to avert the financial penalty and to clog up the justice system in a show of two-wheeled solidarity.

But since when did personal opinion give road users the right to flout the law?

Motorists have long been penalised for not sticking to seemingly silly speed limits, or running through stop-sign intersections at a snail’s pace with not another car in sight.

Welcome to life on the road.

As far back as 2014, The Daily Telegraph reported an average two cyclists were being hospitalised every weekend after accidents in Centennial Park.

Cyclists were being clocked at the time travelling almost 50km/h in the park’s 30km/h zone.

I’m a frequent and avid cyclist, though admittedly not of the lycra-clad variety.

Often, I have my four-year-old son riding along in a child seat on the back of the bike.

Increasingly, he’ll be weaving drunkenly beside me on a scooter or on his own bike supported by trainer wheels.

I’ve lost count of the times we’ve had a near-miss with clusters of much faster cyclists approaching silently from behind on our local shared bike/walking track, before overtaking at pace.

A simple ring of a bell would have been sufficient both to warn us of their approach and move us to the far left of the path.

But they don’t have a bell!

In their unending quest for streamlined efficiency (and image, I suspect), the cycling elite remove the bell their bike came with, or fail to install one on those models that don’t include them.

This is against the law in NSW and Queensland, but it is the absolute norm.

It came as no surprise this morning that there’s equally hot-headed upheaval about Brisbane police issuing fines to cyclists whose bikes don’t have bells.

These people will argue that a shouted warning is equally effective.  From personal experience, I can tell you it’s not.

If it were, cops would probably drop the lights-and-sirens business and just start yelling out their highway patrol windows.

I hear a voice directed at me, and I instinctively turn my head to see who is talking. I hear a bell, and I know it’s a warning.

I don’t resent cyclists – I am one.

But I do resent when other road users – on two wheels or four – think they are above the law, or think they are being victimised simply because they’re not sticking to the rules.


Business investments smashed under Labor's policy: Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull has unleashed a massive new attack on Labor's negative gearing policy, declaring its hidden effects would be much broader than has been admitted and that it would not merely hit real estate but would decimate investments in shares and small businesses.

After weeks of attacking the policy as a shock to house prices and the property sector, a newly energised Mr Turnbull used Parliament on Thursday to open a new front on the opposition's plan to restrict the tax deductibility of interest to new homes only from July 2017, rather than existing housing stock purchased after that date.

The Prime Minister said Labor's policy is actually a plan to end tax deductability on all business expenses against ordinary income, including margin loans used to buy shares, and even basic small business acquisitions such as a truck for a freighting partnership.

The assault came after the government was embarrassed when a report by the firm BIS Shrapnel, which Treasurer Scott Morrison claimed had modelled Labor's negative gearing policy, was found to have been done before the opposition policy was released.

Mr Morrison said the economic modelling, commissioned by an unknown third party, had found the policy would cause economic mayhem by sending rents soaring by $2600 a year, costing as many as 175,000 new jobs and wiping $19 billion from national earnings over a decade.

"It is a credible report and it shows what we said would happen with Labor's policy," he told the ABC's AM program.

"It would have a significant impact on property values, it's going to push many people into housing stress."

However, the economic consultancy later admitted its modelling had not been based on Labor's policy at all, and was also forced to explain a significant under-estimation of Australia's national income as a typographical error.

Labor pounced, claiming Mr Morrison had been caught peddling nonsense. In Parliament, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen pressed Mr Morrison.

"Will the Treasurer admit his claims are entirely wrong and will he also acknowledge that he attached himself to a report with a $1 trillion error?" he said.

However, Mr Turnbull had largely moved on from the politically compromised report, to sharpen his attack on Labor's policy on the new grounds.  "This is an assault on private enterprise, it's an assault on economic freedom," Mr Turnbull said. He said the totality of Labor's proposal was "so much more extreme" than that modelled by BIS Shrapnel.

He said the effect of the policy would be to bring about "extraordinary" restrictions on investment "under the cover" of a housing affordability policy.

Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce went further, accusing Mr Bowen of practising "Zoolander economics" and orchestrating a "complete re-engineering of the Australian economy".

Labor concedes its new policy does apply to other investments such as the interest payments on borrowings to purchase equities, which it deems passive investments, but distinguishes those from active investments.

Mr Bowen described the Prime Minister's claim that it would stop business owners deducting expenses as "trucking lies".

"In using the example of a truck purchased by a partnership, he asserted that Labor's policy will impact upon business investment assets. This is wrong, he said.

"There is no change to the current rules for business investment deductions.

"This means that net losses from carrying on a business (including related interest expenses) can be offset against other income."


Magistrate Joan White slammed for crucial errors in sentencing man for domestic violence

A JUDGE has slammed as "manifestly inadequate" a $750 fine handed by soft-touch magistrate Joan White to a convicted armed robber who subjected his elderly ­father to repeated domestic violence, and instead sent him to jail.

Police appealed the penalty given by Ms White to Shane Kassebaum, 37, last year and Southport District Court judge Clive Wall, QC, yesterday set aside the fine and sentenced him to six months’ prison.

The court heard Kassebaum breached a domestic violence order taken out against him by his ­father seven times, bombarding the 66-year-old with threatening texts and phone calls, slashing his car tyres and smashing his house.

Before Ms White, Kassebaum pleaded guilty to seven counts of breaching a domestic violence order, wilful damage and possessing a drug utensil.

During the four-month domestic violence spree, he sent his father up to 40 texts a day – including one threatening to kill him and another warning he would make him "wish I was never born" – and made demands for money to buy drugs.

Some of the domestic ­violence offences were committed when Kassebaum was on bail for the other charges and after being warned multiple times by police, the court heard. He was also on probation for previous damage to his father’s car.

Judge Wall ruled that Ms White made several crucial errors in letting Kassebaum walk free from court, including failing to take into account his extensive criminal history and relying on "tenuous" medical evidence that he was mentally ill.

The judge was critical of Ms White’s comments that Kassebaum had a "very, very serious mental illness" and that "probably half the time you didn’t know what you were doing".

Judge Wall noted that Kassebaum had failed five drug tests while on probation and it was more likely he was drug-affected rather than mentally ill when he committed the offences.

He said even Kassebaum’s own lawyer had acknowledged that domestic violence was an "abhorrent act" that should be "stamped out".

Judge Wall said although there was no evidence Kassebaum’s father was vulnerable, he was elderly and worried enough to take out the domestic violence order and call police when his son breached it.

Legal Aid barrister Ed Witton described Kassebaum’s conduct as "toxic" but said jail was no place for the mentally ill.

He said Ms White had been correct in "joining the dots" between Kassebaum’s offending and schizophrenia. But Judge Wall rejected that argument and sentenced Kassebaum to six months’ jail, to be released after two.

Outside court, Kassebaum’s mother said she was disappointed and believed the court had not taken into account her son’s genuine mental illness.


Queensland schools with highest High School grades revealed

QUEENSLAND’S leading OP schools have been revealed and just four state schools made the top 30.

Brisbane Grammar School topped the list with 56 per cent of its 2015 Year 12s achieving an OP1-5.

But the top three schools were split across the three education sectors of private, Catholic and state, with more than 50 per cent of 2015 Year 12 students at both St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace and Brisbane State High School achieving an OP1-5. State High is a selective school

Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson said parents were choosing private schools due to how the schools prepared their students, good discipline and high-quality teachers.

Brisbane Grammar School headmaster Anthony Micallef said its students had strong outcomes across academics and co-curricular activities.  "We feel that we offer the boys the best chance to flourish across the full spectrum of activities on offer," he said.

The recent results, published in the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2015 Year 12 Outcomes Report, showed 370 schools had at least one student with an OP1-5.

Of those students receiving an OP, 80 per cent achieved an OP1-15, with 96 per cent of those applying to the Queensland Tertiary Admission Centre receiving a tertiary offer.

Brisbane State High School executive principal Wade Haynes said it had been building ­momentum to achieve strong academic results.

"We have been focused on two key things – really sharp, focused teaching and having students take ownership of their work with the right mindset," he said. "We are ­always looking to improve and do that little bit better."

Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Lee-Anne Perry said school choice was a complex decision for parents.

"Parents need to consider those choices carefully, but just as importantly they need to consider the individual needs of their children," she said.


3 March, 2016

Great Barrier Reef suffers 'tragic' coral bleaching event

This is utter rubbish.  Bleaching events are poorly understood but one thing we know is that they are NOT a response to warmer water.  Corals are at their most prolific in Torres strait, the part of Australia nearest to the equator, and hence the warmest East coast waters.  And in any case even NOAA's "adjusted" figures showed only 13 hundredths of one degree global  temperature rise in 2015

Fears of a mass coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef have prompted federal authorities to issue an urgent warning on the natural wonder, which is *under threat from climate change*.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on Tuesday said patchy bleaching had been detected on multiple reefs in mainly shallow areas, and weather forecasts of upcoming hot conditions posed a dangerous threat over the next few weeks.

In a statement, the authority said the conditions had triggered "level one incident response" involving more in-water field surveys and monitoring by authorities and researchers.

Climate action advocacy group said the bleaching was "tragic" and the Turnbull government should block what would be Australia's largest coal mine, by Indian mining giant Adani, and commit to halting new fossil fuel projects nationally.

The authority said the bleaching had occurred in mainly shallow areas where corals are often exposed to high levels of sunlight.
Chairman Russell Reichelt said February and March were the highest risk periods for mass coral bleaching on the reef because of hot, dry El Nino conditions and high sea surface temperatures, adding "the next few weeks will be critical".

"Bleaching is a clear signal that living corals are under physiological stress. If that stress is bad enough for long enough, the corals can die. Corals generally have a temperature limit, and the bleaching indicates they're outside of their comfort zone," Dr Reichelt said.

"At this stage, there appears to be low rates of coral mortality restricted to a small number of reefs, and most of the corals affected by bleaching are those that are particularly vulnerable to this type of event such as plate and branching corals."

The authority says the most common cause of coral bleaching is sustained heat stress, which is occurring more frequently as the climate changes.

Dr Reichelt said the Bureau of Meteorology and the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had forecast a high probability of heat stress that would cause further bleaching.

While sea surface temperatures were fluctuating across the 345,000 square kilometre marine park, in some areas they had reached 2.5 degrees above the summer average, which was exacerbated by lack of cloud cover, he said.

"What happens now will be entirely dependent on local weather conditions. If we're fortunate enough to receive plenty of cloud cover, which will effectively provide shade, it will go a long way to reducing heat absorption by the ocean and alleviating thermal stress on corals," he said.

Dr Reichelt said the bleaching event was less severe than that which has occurred across the Pacific during the current global bleaching event. The authority says past bleaching events show coral reefs can recover if thermal stress does not last for prolonged periods.

If mass bleaching does occur, the authority would study its extent and impacts, alongside coral reef scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University, the University of Queensland and the CSIRO.

Blair Palese, chief executive of said the "tragic coral bleaching" showed coal and gas were "warming the planet and destroying the places we love most".

The authority says bleaching occurs when stress causes corals to expel tiny marine algae called zooxanthellae, which live inside their tissue and provide corals with much of their food and colour.
Without zooxanthellae, the coral tissue appears transparent, revealing the coral's bright white skeleton.


Senator Joe Bullock quits citing Labor's support for 'homosexual marriage'

West Australian Senator Joe Bullock has announced he is retiring from politics citing an inability to support the Labor Party's position requiring MPs to vote in favour of same-sex marriage.

Calling it "homosexual marriage," the 61-year-old right-wing Senator told Parliament on Tuesday night that he was "morally obliged" to quit, just two years after entering Parliament because he could not agree with the party's decision to impose a binding vote on MPs.

He said his decision to retire began when he was asked how he could support the Labor Party given his view on same sex marriage.

"This question has dogged me for six months," Senator Bullock said. "How can I in good conscience recommend to the people that they vote for a party which is determined to deny its parliamentarians a conscience vote on the homosexual marriage question?" "The simple answer is that I can't."

Senator Bullock said he would not defect to the crossbench because he was elected on the ALP's ticket.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten immediately issued a gracious statement saying that while he often disagreed with the West Australian, he wished him well.

"A man of deeply held faith and convictions, Joe has always held to his views," Mr Shorten said.

"I don't agree with his views on a number of issues – including marriage equality – but I respect his right to hold those opinions."

"I respect the decision he's made to step down tonight, knowing it's come after a long period of consideration."

But one Labor MP who did not want to be named told Fairfax Media there was no love lost for the outspoken conservative Senator.  "Good riddance to the big fat rat," the MP said.

Senator Bullock is the fourth West Australian to announce their retirement ahead of the 2016 election. Gary Gray, Melissa Parke and Alannah MacTiernan have all recently said they will be quitting politics. Mr Gray attended Senator Bullock's speech in the Senate.


Australia's economy is stronger than anyone thought

Inumerable prophecies of doom over fall in Chinese demand for coal and iron get it wrong

Australian economic growth has beaten expectations, rising 0.6% in the final quarter of 2015 in seasonally adjusted chain volume terms.

The figure, well above expectations for an expansion of 0.4%, left the annual rate of growth at 3.0%. This too was significantly above forecasts for an increase of 2.5%.

It was the fastest annual expansion seen since the September quarter of 2012.

According to the ABS, the robust result was driven by strength in household final consumption expenditure along with public gross fixed capital formation.

Over the quarter household consumption expenditure increased by 0.8%, leaving the annual growth rate at 2.9%. It contributed 0.4 percentage points (ppts) to the quarterly GDP figure.

The ABS notes the increase was driven by growth in services industries such as information, media and telecommunications (2.7%), retail trade (1.0%) and arts and recreation services (2.2%).

Government final consumption expenditure also rose by 0.7% for the quarter, leaving annual growth at 3.6%. This contributed 0.1ppts to quarterly GDP.

Public gross fixed capital formation, linked to an increase in military spending, rose by 6.0% over the quarter, adding 0.2ppts to GDP.

Inventories, unexpectedly, contributed 0.2ppts to growth.

Offsetting those positives, private non-dwelling construction, linked to the unwinding mining investment boom, fell by 7.0%, detracting 0.5ppts from growth.

Net exports, as opposed to the previous quarter, made no contribution to GDP.

The table below, supplied by the ABS, reveals the contribution to economic growth by component. The quarterly contribution to economic growth in percentage points is shown in red.

While in volume terms GDP exceeded expectations, that result was somewhat tempered by continued weakness in national incomes.

Real net national disposable income, described by the ABS as "a broader measure of change in national economic well–being", fell by 0.1% over the quarter in seasonally adjusted terms, leaving the annual decline at 1.1%.

Gareth Aird, an economist at CBA, notes that nominal GDP, the broadest measure of income in the economy, grew by less than real GDP in the December quarter.

"This weakness is weighing on confidence, wages and government revenue," says Aird. "It makes debt repayment for households and businesses harder, notwithstanding record low interest rates."

"It reflects a big decline in commodity prices which puts downward pressure on wages, company profits and government revenue growth. And it is why the economy feels weaker that the headline GDP numbers imply."

While a backward-looking data release, showing where the economy has been rather than where it is heading, in volume terms the report was far stronger than what many had imagined, even with persistent weakness in national incomes.

In what will no doubt please the RBA, household expenditure continued to impress, fitting with recent improvements in the labour market along with substantial gains in residential property prices. At a time when business investment remains weak, this will likely need to strengthen further in order to power economic growth in the quarters ahead.

This is what the RBA expects, heightening the importance of upcoming labour market and housing data, along with the upcoming federal budget, given their implications for household spending.

Despite the backward looking nature of the release, the strength of the data has seen the odds of a near term rate cut from the RBA diminish somewhat, helping to underpin the Australian dollar which has rocketed higher in the minutes following the release.

As at 12.10pm AEDT, the AUD/USD buys .7230, representing an increase of 0.78% for the session.

Australia’s stock market has also welcomed the news with the ASX 200 pushing above the 5,000 point level in recent trade. It currently trades at 5,005 points, representing an increase of 1.68%.


New cycling laws: One of the first bike riders hit with $319 fine for not wearing a helmet

DESPITE the threat of the massive new fines for running red lights, not wearing helmets and riding dangerously, The Daily Telegraph witnessed cyclists continuing to flout the road rules.

Ben Ackerley, who recently moved to Sydney from the United States, became possibly the first rider to be booked under the new fine regime.

The restaurant manager from Darlinghurst was riding on Oxford St just before midday and was not wearing a helmet.
Ben Ackerley was upset over being fined $319 for not wearing a helmet while riding his bike. Picture: Ross Schultz

Ben Ackerley was upset over being fined $319 for not wearing a helmet while riding his bike. Picture: Ross SchultzSource:News Corp Australia

A police Highway Patrol officer on a motorcycle pulled Mr Ackerley over and hit him with the new $319 fine – up from just $71.

"I’d just picked the bike up from the bike shop after getting it fixed," he said.

"It got wrecked in an accident with a taxi on Market St about three weeks ago. I knew about the no helmet laws but I was just riding about a mile and a half (1.6km) home.

"I’ve just come from living in New York City. The cops there have got better things to do than worry about this sort of stuff."

Mr Ackerley said he may appeal for leniency.

As part changes to cycling laws beginning Tuesday, fines for five offences have increased by up to 500 per cent.

As well as new fines for no wearing helmets, cyclists risk $425 fines for running a red light; riding dangerously and; not stopping at pedestrian crossings.

Motorists who do not leave a 1m buffer between their vehicle and a bike when travelling up to 60km/h can be hit with a $319 fine and lose two demerit points. Those travelling more than 60km/h must leave a 1.5m space.

During today’s morning peak, The Daily Telegraph saw riders shooting through on the red light at busy intersections along Oxford St, between Taylor Square at Darlinghurst and College St in the CBD.

While the vast majority of cyclists kept to the left lane, some riders weaved among the traffic, coming less than a metre from vehicles moving slowly through the rush hour traffic.

At the intersections with Flinders, Crown and Riley streets, a number of cyclists pushed to the front of the traffic queues stopped at red lights, leading to some distance issues between cars and bikes when the lights turned green.

In Randwick, a number of cyclists were spotted riding in the middle lane of the three city-bound lanes, on Alison Rd.  Several weaved among the traffic even though a shared cycle/pedestrian path runs along the northern side of the road.

On King St at Newtown, a rider, without a helmet, insisted on riding on the footpath.

Along busy Bondi Rd at Bondi, several riders darted between vehicles slowing moving towards the city.

Police could not confirm any other incidents of vehicle drivers being fined for not giving enough space to cyclists.

On Monday, Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander John Hartley said his officers would use their discretion, but would book those who were obviously breaking the new laws.

A spokesman for the police Highway Patrol said it had not scheduled a specific enforcement operation targeting cyclists to coincide with the first morning of the new laws. "Police, including our Motorcycle Response Teams, were undertaking their regular duties this morning," the spokesman said.

The government’s Transport Management Centre said it had not recorded any incidents involving cyclists during the morning peak.

Bicycle NSW CEO Ray Rice said the majority of cyclists are keen to do the right thing and obey all road rules.

While he strongly supports the new minimum passing distance rule, because it offers extra protection to riders, the cycling community is opposed to the increased fines and mandatory photo ID for bicycle riders.

In the lead up to the law changes, Bicycle NSW handed a petition containing 10,000 signatures to the state government demanding the government immediately rescind the fine increases and photo ID sections of the legislation.

Mr Rice said last month that regulation should be a last resort and described NSW as fast becoming Australia’s nanny state.

The NRMA today said it supports the increase in fines. "We support the argument that cyclists should have to carry ID because what we know is that the overwhelming majority of cyclists do the right thing and this is targeting the ones who don’t," spokesman Peter Khoury said. "They are putting their lives at risk and we don’t want that."

City of Sydney Liberal councillor Christine Forster said cyclists are road users so should be expected to obey the rules.


2 March, 2016

Safe Schools activist Roz Ward is a Commo

The architect behind a contentious sexual diversity program set to become mandatory across all Victorian schools is an outspoken hard-left warrior who has publicly denounced Immigration Minister Peter Dutton as a "sexist prick".

Safe Schools Coalition ­Vic­toria co-founder Roz Ward has also conceded the Safe Schools Coalition program is part of a broader Marxist strategy to change society.

Ms Ward is a La Trobe University academic who moonlights as a writer for Red Flag, the publication of the Socialist Alternative, a Trotskyite self-des­cribed Marxist organisation that has become a dominant force among university radicals and the broad-left ­activist movement.

Ms Ward’s recent contributions include an article published in January, titled "Sexist text messages are the least of Peter Dutton’s crimes", in which she accuses the minister of being ­responsible for instances of sexual abuse being experienced by refugees at the Nauru processing centre.

"Dutton is responsible for these horrors," she writes. "Sure, call out casual sexism, but we should rage longer and harder against his ongoing crimes against refugees."

In another article, Ms Ward accused the former Victorian Liberal government of turning train stations into prisons after the ­introduction of a safety policy in 2012 of manning platforms with armed guards. She denounced the guards, known as "protective services officers", as "uniformed thugs".

The program has recently been linked with an improved public perception of safety.

A prominent campaigner on gay, lesbian and transgender ­issues, including marriage equal­ity, Ms Ward has repeatedly claimed that the Safe Schools ­Coalition was derived out of a bid to stamp out homophobia within schools.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino, who posed for photographs with Ms Ward at the recent Pride March, declined a request for an interview yesterday.

However in a statement, his spokesman said that the "scare campaign" being run by opponents of Safe Schools Coalition has been "nothing short of disgraceful".

"The comments from federal MPs like Cory Bernardi and George Christensen are perfect examples of the kind of attitudes that we need to change," he said.

The Victorian government was the first to provide public funds to the cause. Former Labor education minister Bronwyn Pike, who has an openly gay son, announced $80,000 in seed funding in October 2010. A year later, the newly elected Coalition government announced further funding of $416,000 and the federal Labor government then lent its support in 2013 when Senator Penny Wong, who is gay, unveiled $8 million over four years to "help stop homophobia and create more inclusive school communities".

The Safe Schools Coalition program has since been rolled out to more than 500 schools and has the backing of the Australian Secondary Principals Association and the Australian Education Union.

Despite the program’s stated aims, its politically correct approach to sex education — under which teachers are counselled that it is "heterosexist" to refer to students as "girls and boys" and children are instructed to role-play gay teenagers — has outraged religious groups and conservative politicians.

Many have questioned whether it is appropriate for schools to be teaching children as young as 11 the meaning of terms such as "queer", "pansexual", "sister girl" and "trans guy".

The Coalition’s website also lists more than 40 primary schools or P-12 colleges that have registered.

One of those, St Kilda Primary School in Melbourne, took part in the Midsumma Festival’s annual Pride March in January alongside the Safe Schools Coalition.

Ms Ward, who manages the program in Victoria, wrote about the landmark occasion on the coalition’s website: "For the first time ever we marched with a primary school as well as more than a dozen secondary schools, which just really shows the progress that has been made."

St Kilda Primary School principal Sue Higgins confirmed that the school had taken part, but did not respond to further questions via email, including whether students had taken part.

West Australian Education Minister Peter Collier has raised concerns, describing aspects of it as "almost offensive".

A former high school teacher, he said it could hurt the children it aimed to protect, although it had the hallmarks of an effective bullying strategy.  "I cannot see or fathom any situation where drawing attention to a particular set of students is going to necessarily assist that child," Mr Collier said.

"I feel as soon as you start to identify or isolate very discrete elements of student cohorts, inevitably you’re going to draw attention to those students and if anything it could work in reverse."

He said only 16 of the state’s 800 public schools had registered for the program.


Aboriginal man claims non-Indigenous passenger refused to sit next to him on Virgin Australia flight because of his skin colour

Would YOU want to sit next to him?

An Aboriginal man claims a non-Indigenous passenger on-board a Virgin Australia flight refused to sit next to him because of his skin colour.

Kevin Whyman, from Wilcannia in New South Wales' north-west, said he was 'racially discriminated' against on Sunday morning's Flight VA 1175.

'The woman asked the stewardess if she could sit in another seat cause she didn't want to sit next to me because I'm Aboriginal so the [steward] agreed with her and they told me not take it personal,' he said in Facebook post that has since been deleted.

'I'm very disappointed in Virgin Blue airline [sic] it made me feel like I was some sort of dangerous animal in my own country.'

But a Virgin Australia spokesman denied the woman asked to move because the man was Indigenous.

'Due to the privacy of our guests and crew we are unable to provide specific details, however we can confirm that our guest requested to change seats, which is not unusual, and that this request was not racially motivated,' he said. 'Virgin Australia does not tolerate any form of discrimination.' 

Mr Whyman's friend, Vickie, sent a complaint into Virgin Australia who has investigated the claims

Mr Whyman, who was on a flight from Albury to Sydney, told BuzzFeed News the woman was reassigned a seat two rows in front of him, next to 'another white person'.

'I was dressed nice, I didn't have any odour or anything and it made me feel belittled and discriminated against... I felt like I was not good enough to sit next to her,' he said.

Mr Whyman said he had brought the issue up with crew members on-board but he was less than satisfied with their response.

'This young flight attendant pretty much rolled his eyes a couple of times while I was speaking and pretty much had no interest in what I saying. I just felt uncomfortable, I felt like I wasn't meant to be on the plane,' he said.

His friend, Vickie, also lodged a complaint with the airline and was assured Virgin Australia was taking the allegations 'seriously'.

Daily Mail Australia understands the woman asked to change seats because he had a solid build and they could not put the arm rest in between them.


Australia as a safe place

A National Australia Bank survey into living standards has revealed Australians like living in Australia.  Ninety-nine per cent of us do, anyway.

And after crunching the numbers the bank found some revealing results; Queenslanders rate climate as the appeal in their state, Western Australians value wide open spaces, Victorians enjoy sport and New South Wales appreciates diversity.

But in the biggest twist, the survey found Australians valued their relative safety and security the most.

Thirty-six per cent of the 2000 respondents to the survey valued security highest, particularly, in South Australia where 43 per cent of respondents cited safety as their primary cause for enjoying Australian life.

Aside from the freedom of immediate danger, Australians are attracted to the general lifestyle and "friendliness" of their environment and access to quality healthcare. 

And despite the despondent cries from economists, the state of the nation's finances and economic stability contributed less to liveability in 2016, with only 18 per cent of people surveyed say it contributed to livability, down from 21 per cent in 2015.

"In particular, people were concerned with infrastructure," says NAB group chief economist, Alan Oster.

"My guess would be they feel they're spending too much time on public transport and have roads that don't work. Also, housing is not affordable. But they are certainly going in for safety and general lifestyle."

Access to open spaces, beaches and parks, climate, clean environment & unique natural wonders continued to be highly valued by around one in four Australians.

Overall, Australians and their acceptance of diversity is a stronger allure this year, up to 17 per cent from 13 per cent last year. Those who value a sporting culture also climbed to 11 per cent.

Access to quality education has become less of a livability factor, with only 15 per cent claiming it was important, down from 19 per cent in 2015.


Mining to dining: Australia becomes China's land of milk and honey

Asian consumers determined to improve their lifestyle are boosting the fortunes of Australian producers of premium baby milk formula, vitamins and honey, as the region's burgeoning middle class jumps on the health food bandwagon.

With their expanding wallets, middle class consumers are fueling a sharp increase in sales of high-quality products from Down Under, sending the profits and share prices of health foods companies -- particularly producers of infant milk formula -- into unprecedented territory.

They are led by Chinese consumers fearful of lax food safety standards at home, where cost-cutting by producers have resulted in deaths and health scares.

"You've had almost three decades of incredible GDP growth (in China) and that has brought a huge amount of spending power to the Chinese consumer," IG Markets' analyst Angus Nicholson told AFP.

"And given the fact that there has been some questions around -- particularly food, health and medical products -- in China, there has been an increase in demand for foreign, top quality brands."

The growth is being described as a shift from "mining to dining" as Australia transitions away from supplying China with key metals such as iron ore and coal towards feeding Asia's consumption boom.

While much of the focus has been on soft commodities like beef and dairy, smaller Australian-listed firms that produce infant milk powder, vitamin supplements and honey are also benefiting from the increased appetite.

Supplements maker Blackmores last year had the Australian stock market's highest share price, jumping 534.03 percent to Aus$217.98.

Its net profit for the six months to end-December soared 160 percent compared to the previous period, driven by sales to Chinese consumers, which made up 40 percent of revenue.

Bellamy's Australia, whose organic baby milk powder is nicknamed "white gold", saw its share price leap more than 700 percent last year as its net profit spiked by 325 percent in the second half. Rival formula producer a2 Milk Company is also enjoying strong demand.

A firm tapping into the growing Asian craze for honey is Australia's largest producer Capilano, which recorded a 52.9 percent surge in 2015 second half net profit.

Brands like Bellamy's and a2 are seen as trustworthy by the Chinese as they are sold in Australia's dominant supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths, Benjamin Sun of digital marketing consultancy ThinkChina said.

"What they are thinking is if the milk powder is being drunk by Australian babies, it should safe for Chinese babies," Sun told AFP.

But the baby powders' popularity has overwhelmed the two supermarket giants, which have imposed two or four-tin limits for each purchase. Even souvenir shops that usually stock stuffed toys and sheep skins now make room for formula, propolis and royal jelly supplements -- honey products believed to boost health -- as well as manuka honey.

The empty racks are the result of a burgeoning grey market where purchasing agents known as "daigou" help Chinese customers secure products in Australia and ship them to China, raking in a tidy profit in the process.

Peter Barraket, who heads up "Mr Vitamins", a chain of supplements outlets in Sydney, said he noticed Chinese customers' behaviour change over the past two years, with shoppers becoming more organised and brand aware.

He is now planning to grow the business by shipping directly to China.


1 March, 2016

Pell punished for trying to aid victims


TODAY, Cardinal George Pell is giving evidence via videolink from the Hotel Quirinale in Rome to the child sexual abuse royal commission.

It is the third time he has testified to the commission - the fourth, if you count the Victorian parliamentary inquiry which preceded it. He has hardly been hiding.

And yet the point of much of the unrestrained vitriol spewed at him is that he is a coward who has refused to "come home" to testify.

But Pell, 74, has a heart complaint and has been told by doctors not to fly, a fact accepted by royal commissioner Peter McClellan after some delay, which only served to add to pressure on the star witness of the $500 million exercise.

Watching Pell is a self-invited group of about 120, including 50 journalists and assorted victims, supporters and Pell-haters who have travelled to Rome, largely on the proceeds of an abusive ditty by anti-Catholic crooner Tim Minchin, calling Pell "scum" and "coward".

The royal commission has sent "support staff" and media people, at unknown cost, to assist this unofficial lynch mob.

It doesn’t matter that he is in frail health and will have delivered 21 hours of testimony after today’s stint.

The worst accusations are that he helped move paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale between parishes in the 1980s, when he was a junior priest in Ballarat under Bishop Mulkearns. However, as Father Eric Bryant has testified to the commission, at a 1982 meeting he attended with Pell, Mulkearns simply said Ridsdale was being moved because he had a "problem with homosexuality".

Bryant said he didn’t link homosexuality with paedophilia and was offended by the suggestion put to him: "I know a number of clergy who are homosexual and who are the most decent people in the world... who have lived their celibacy to the letter. There’s others who have fallen weak and make mistakes but they don’t abuse children."

Pell’s accusers must expect that he should have made that terrible link, which is ironic, because the central reason for his unpopularity is that he is a conservative priest who upholds the teaching of the Church and raised the eternal ire of homosexual ­activists by refusing to give them communion.

So he is fair game. But the indifference of much of the media to any semblance of fairness or legal restraint is astonishing.

The ABC has illustrated stories about Pell with images of a red toy truck, a cutout of his face glued into the driver’s side, and festooned with rocks and spiders, a blatant reference to "rock spiders", slang for paedophiles.

On Channel 10’s the Project, Minchin debuted his vicious song in full, along with an illustration of a hollow cross with Pell inside with two altar boys.

There is no justification for this abuse of Pell in anything before the royal commission.

Pell denies the accusation that he tried to "buy" the silence of Ridsdale’s nephew and victim David Ridsdale, and at the time police were already investigating the paedophile, so there is no logic to the claim.

Anthony and Chrissie Foster, who have received $750,000 compensation from the church, accuse Pell of a "sociopathic lack of empathy" when he met them as the new Archbishop of Melbourne, to discuss the abuse of their two daughters by a priest a decade earlier.

But Pell was the most senior churchman to meet them and the first to respond with a plan to help victims, his Melbourne Response.

This is the profound unfairness of the attacks on Pell. He alone of any church leader in Australia responded to the crisis of child sexual abuse and set up a system in which claims would be investigated, counselling and compensation offered and victims would be directed to police.

He became Archbishop of Melbourne on 16 June 1996. Sick of the dithering inaction of his fellow bishops, within a month he had instructed Corrs lawyers to come up with a plan. By mid-October Peter O’Callaghan QC had been appointed the first Independent Commissioner, who went on to investigate 351 complaints of abuse, of which 97 per cent were upheld.

Pell acted with his usual decisiveness and efficiency, qualities invaluable to the Pope now as the Vatican’s top financial official, bringing integrity and transparency to Church finances.

Yet he has become the whipping boy, and even on the eve of his testimony this week, was betrayed by Victoria police who leaked vague allegations that Pell himself had sexually abused boys in the past.

This was an appalling intervention by police who are in the firing line themselves for failing to investigate complaints of child sexual abuse and for telling untruths about the church to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton claimed 43 suicides related to child sexual abuse in the Victorian Church, but, after an internal investigation, only one could be confirmed. That’s one too many, of course, but the exaggeration cast doubt on the motives of police. Ashton also claimed police had not "had a single referral of a child sexual abuse allegation by the Catholic Church’’.

Wrong. As O’Callaghan has testified, of 304 complaints, 97 were reported to police, and 76 victims he encouraged to go to police.

So pleased were Victoria police at Pell’s initiative in 1996 that they issued a press release praising the Melbourne response, and NSW police royal commissioner Justice James Wood also lauded the Catholic Church’s response then as a "model" for other institutions to follow.

For its time, Pell’s response to the child sexual abuse plaguing the church was groundbreaking. Not perfect, but it acknowledged a problem, helped victims and referred offenders to police if possible.

There is evidence, however, that Victoria police seemed to drop the ball, whether because prosecutions in those days were too difficult or for some other reason, we don’t know.

Last week, for instance, former priest and psychiatrist Dr Peter Evans told the commission he was contacted by police in 1975 about the paedophile Ridsdale, who Bishop Mulkearns had asked him to assess after an allegation of child sexual abuse had been made against him.

"The police were certainly investigating it and knew about it. The police informed me that they would not be pressing charges. However, the policeman added that they … thought, he was guilty."

So what you have today is one potential scapegoat accusing another of covering up paedophilia, and leaking untested allegations to bolster their case.

If all the abuse heaped on him would ensure that children never again suffered sexual abuse, perhaps even Pell would say it is a cross worth bearing.

But it does the opposite. By targeting the one man who tried to do the right thing it ensures that no future church leader in their right mind would take decisive action again.

To save his own skin, Pell would have been better to leave it to the hopeless cowards and naive bumblers who had presided over the evil in the Church for so long.


Green/Left waste followed by Green/Left self-indulgence

Centuries from now future citizens will pick through the remnants of 21st century Australia. Some discoveries may puzzle them.

Why, for example, did Australians spend so much time and money building facilities for the purpose of turning salt water into fresh water?

Presumably these future folk will know that Australia didn’t actually need these devices at the time, given our usual abundant rainfall. So what was the use of all those desalination plants? Were they merely experimental? Did they have another, more practical application?

Or, like Stonehenge or Egypt’s pyramids, were they quasi-religious or spiritual monuments to some form of mystical deity?

The last answer will be close enough. Australia’s desalination plants were built in panic following warnings from former Climate Commission chief Tim Flannery that we were in danger of running out of water. "In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months," Flannery claimed in 2007.

A couple of years ago, at the 2014 Mudgee Readers’ Festival, Flannery recalled those warnings. "Here in eastern Australia we’ve got much more variable rainfall, and I remember being asked about this at times, even by the government. I said, ‘what you should do is build a desalination plant; that’s really your last resort. Build it as an insurance policy’.

"Instead, treasury departments across eastern Australia said, ‘That’s a waste of money’."

If only.

Desalination plants were constructed in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, the Gold Coast and a couple in Perth, at a total cost of around $12 billion. Most of that money was completely squandered, because — just like Flannery’s government-funded Climate Council — half of our nation’s desal plants have since been shut down, or at least reduced to standby status. Perth’s are still supplying water, and so is Adelaide’s, although it doesn’t need to following dam-filling rains. As of last month, the plant is running at just 10 per cent of capacity — at a cost of $1 million per day.

Sydney’s desal plant hasn’t spat out a drop since it was put on standby in 2012, only two years after it was opened. It is presently costing more than half a million dollars per day just to sit there like the world’s fattest disability pensioner while Sydney’s dams remain at more than 90 per cent of their capacity. The Gold Coast’s desal plant opened in 2009 and closed in 2010.

Thanks for all that, Professor Flannery. Undaunted by the outcome of his ridiculously expensive water worries, the great global warming hysteric has lately moved on to another field. He’s swapped desal for diesel — thousands of litres of the stuff.

Recently the Climate Council — a privatised, donation-funded version of the old Climate Commission, still with Flannery at the helm — invited concerned Australians to join the professor on a cash-raising cruise along Western Australia’s Kimberley Coast. "As part of this adventure, you will join renowned scientist and former Australian of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery — the Climate Council’s Chief Councillor — on the adventure of a lifetime," the Council promises.

"Over eight days you’ll sail the breathtaking Kimberley coast in the award-winning charter vessel, Kimberley Quest, on an expedition of archaeological discovery. Best of all, by taking part in this expedition, you’ll be stepping up to help provide Australians with a vital source of correct and informed information on climate change."

There’s no better information than informed information. As part of their climate crusade, Flannery’s ecotourists will also be supplied with a "courtesy vehicle to/from your Broome accommodation", a "light aircraft from Broome to Mitchell Plateau" and a "return helicopter flight from Mitchell Plateau to Hunter River", which is what you’d expect for a total cost north of $7500.
Lap of luxury and a fuel bill to boot with a scenic flight returning to the Kimberley Quest. Picture: Supplied

All of that fossil fuel incineration doesn’t exactly sit well with Flannery’s climate change message, however. And then there’s the vessel he and his mates will travel aboard. The Kimberley Quest II, to give the ship its full name, is "equipped with a helipad, spa, [and] large en-suited cabins" that "feature private ensuites, individual air-conditioning, viewing windows, mini-refrigerators and are serviced daily by your hostess."

This sucker’s carbon footprint must be sensational. All of those airconditioners, spas and fridges don’t run on wind chimes, so the Kimberley Quest II is fitted with no fewer than four diesel-burning engines — two massive 450 horsepower Caterpillar 3406Es for propulsion and a couple of smaller Cat generators to keep the champagne chilled as you discuss the terrible threat of global warming. Get them all cranking at once and the diesel consumption rate might be around 320 litres per hour, which is why this floating Gaia-eater needs a total fuel capacity of 36,000 litres.

To put that fuel capacity into perspective, 36,000 litres of diesel is enough to run a poor African village’s electricity generator for nearly five years. The fastest Audi at last year’s Le Mans 24 hour race made it all the way to the podium after using less than 1500 litres of diesel during the entire event.

Still, I suppose Flannery’s diesel drainage is all worth it. You can never put a price on the "correct and informed information on climate change." Unless that price is more than $7500 per customer, not including return flights to Broome, personal expenditures for laundry and tipping, compulsory travel insurance and meals not outlined in the itinerary


Labor’s Early Years Quality Fund "unfair, inequitable"

A $300 million fund to give pay rises to childcare workers, rolled out early in 2013 by Labor, has been labelled a "union slush fund" and was axed by the Abbott Government later in the same year.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said Labor’s introduction of the Early Years Quality Fund had been a shambles that had funnelled off taxpayer money in a way that gave unfair advantages to child care providers ‘in the know’.

"The Public Accounts Committee report on the EYQF paints a damning picture of Labor’s administration of the $300 million public fund. While it was claimed the policy was designed to attract more qualified people to the child care and early learning profession, the EYQF was fully subscribed in just 13 hours after applications opened.

"This report from the Public Accounts Committee echoes the findings of a 2013 PwC examination of the program and an ANAO report that found the administration and policy flaws Labor built into the EYQF meant it was inherently unfair, inequitable and drove a greater pay divide in the sector.

"Labor’s EYQF was a pre-election splurge splashed during the caretaker period and based on wage schedules designed by the United Voice Union.

"The PwC report was particularly scathing of the way Labor used the EYQF ‘as a vehicle to increase membership in United Voice’ [Union] with unionised EBAs in the child care sector quadrupling from 100 to 400 despite only 30 per cent of long day care staff being eligible for the Labor fund.

"Sadly the EYQF isn’t the only short-sighted policy-on-the-run legacy from Labor. Their 2008 increase in the Child Care Rebate from 30 to 50 per cent, without a check on what providers could charge, has seen child care fees accelerate for families while taxpayers have had to wear soaring costs.

"The EYQF demonstrates another example of Labor’s failure in child care policy and once again prove they cannot be trusted to provide fair, affordable and transparent child care for Australian families."

Press release

Sydney uni students to investigate wrongful convictions

In as little as three months from now, a handful of Sydney university students may have enough evidence to exonerate a prisoner who claims they were wrongfully convicted.

When the academic year begins next month, a handpicked class of undergraduate students from the university's law and psychology schools will spend a semester poring over court files, police interviews, eyewitness testimonies and trial recordings for course credit.

Their efforts are part of a new initiative – the Sydney Exoneration Project – which is based at the University of Sydney and will assess Australian cases of suspected wrongful convictions through the lens of forensic psychology.
A class of undergraduate students from Sydney university's law and psychology schools will spend a semester poring over ...

A class of undergraduate students from Sydney university's law and psychology schools will spend a semester poring over court files, police interviews etc for the project. Photo: Edwina Pickles

"If a miscarriage of justice has taken place we want to right that but, the bigger picture is that we want to make changes in the legal system and address certain aspects that can be improved," founder and director of the project Dr Celine van Golde? said.

Dr van Golde, who set up the project in March last year, said a team of legal professionals and forensic psychologists had spent several months rigorously reviewing applications from people convicted of serious crimes across Australia, before selecting one for the upcoming course.

"The cases we look are the most severe crimes. From murders to anything for which you go to jail for a long time."

Confidentiality issues prevented Dr van Golde from discussing the case that would be examined by students, but she said the applicant had contacted the project after watching a documentary on forensic psychology.

"[They] said 'this is exactly what happened in my case and said I'm innocent and wrongfully convicted'."

While innocence projects have a well-established role in the United States, where mass incarceration has resulted in extraordinary rates of wrongful convictions, the Australian criminal justice system is equally susceptible to mistakes, she said.

"We need a project like this because mistakes are being made and wrongful convictions do happen. We know that from the case studies we've seen around Australia [that] it would be ignorant to think it wouldn't happen here."

There have been a number of high profile wrongful convictions and subsequent exonerations in NSW.

In November last year, Roseanne Beckett was awarded $4 million in damages by the NSW Supreme Court for her wrongful conviction of plotting to kill her husband Barry Catt? in 1991. She served 10 years of a 12-year sentence before she was exonerated in 2001.

Alexander McLeod-Lindsay was exonerated 26 years after he was found guilty in 1965 of the attempted murder of his wife in their Sydney home. He had already served nine years in jail and had been paroled by the time new DNA analysis exonerated him.

While innocence projects typically centred around re-examining DNA evidence, Dr van Golde said the Sydney project would uniquely focus on the role of forensic psychology in wrongful convictions.

"The number one reason people are wrongfully convicted – in 72 per cent of cases – is mistaken identification. These are eyewitnesses who have identified the perpetrator but it later turns out they identified the wrong persons."

False confessions and false memories – also leading factors behind wrongful convictions – were key research topics within forensic psychology.

"That's why it's so important we involve it. That's the main aim and main focus of our project."


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

Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

A great Australian wit exemplified

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."


Alternative (Monthly) archives for this blog


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To be continued ....
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