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, 2017  

Call to ban ‘toxic’ interest-only home loans

I have often used interest-only loans so object to them being called "toxic".  "Useful" would be my word for them.  But I can see the author's point.  There's too much money sloshing around in the housing market and banning interest-only loans would reduce that.

There is no doubt, however, that councils and developers are not releasing new residential land at a rate that matches the demand.  They are not responding to market signals.  That is primarily due to bureaucracy plus Greenie harassment of any change.

If there is to be loan restrictions, there also needs to be a metaphorical bomb put under councils to release much more residential land than they have been doing.  They are the blockage in the system

FORGET dipping into super, scrapping negative gearing or opening up new supply. If we’re going to restore some sanity to the Australian housing market, the regulator must step in to ban “toxic” interest-only loans, economist Lindsay David has argued.

“It’s definitely the best policy to take artificial and speculative heat out of the market,” he told

According to the founder of property market research firm LF Economics, the much-maligned negative gearing is “only 8 to 10 per cent” of the reason why house prices in Australia are so high.

CoreLogic figures released this week showed home prices in Australia’s capital cities have jumped 3.7 per cent since the start of the year alone, with Sydney leading the charge, increasing by 5.3 per cent.

Earlier this year, Sydney was named the second most unaffordable city in the world second only to Hong Kong by research firm Demographia.

“Over the last 20 years, Australian house prices have risen in real terms by about 131 per cent, in the same time real wages have risen by about 38 per cent, and real rents have only increased by about 20 per cent,” Mr David told Sky News.

“So I disagree that Australia actually has a housing affordability issue, but what we do have is a credit-fuelled housing bubble issue. The easiest way to make house prices more affordable is to limit the amount of debt that gets flooded into the housing market.

“Here in Australia we’ve had this total household credit expansion that has moved in a beautiful straight line at about a 35-degree angle — the only other line I know that grows like that is Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.”

In a bid to keep the housing market under control, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority recently introduced a new rule requiring banks to keep growth in investor loans under 10 per cent.

Mr David argues the banks can easily “get around” the growth cap, and argues APRA should instead be thinking about banning interest-only loans, which now make up around 40 per cent of all mortgages. “These loans are very dangerous to the core fundamentals of the Australian economy, they’re toxic to the housing market and they’re toxic to those who buy bank securities,” he said.

He said the solution was not first-home owner grants or other proposed solutions such as accessing superannuation, which would only push up prices further.

“Any new policy that is designed to stimulate demand for housing will stimulate demand for housing,” he said.

“Just get rid of them. Just get rid of everything, let the market work on its own, and let’s try and reduce the risk profile of our banking system one way or another, because it looks like a giant Lehman Brothers waiting to go ‘ker-shmang’.”

He added that the lack of supply argument was “bogus”. “It’s the demand side that’s the big problem — it’s artificial,” he said.

“People aren’t paying this much money for a house because they’re trying to make money on rent. If there was such a supply issue, there wouldn’t be any negatively geared property owners because you would have seen rents go through the roof.”

And while Sydney prices are “insane”, Mr David believes Melbourne is currently in most danger. “In Melbourne, over the last 20 years house prices have risen in real terms by about 214 per cent, whereas rents have only risen by about 12 per cent,” he said.

“That is probably the biggest mismatch you will see of any city in the world pretty much. It’s nearly impossible to see how Melbourne cannot be the largest housing bubble in the country, even versus Sydney despite house prices being absolutely insane here.

“Yes they’re overvalued, yes they’re in a bubble, but nowhere near to the length that Melbourne is. And you look at Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane too, it’s the same story. They’re probably two times the value they should be.

“That’s been fuelled by a massive sum of credit flooding the housing market.”

It comes as all four of the big banks have been sharply hiking interest rates for interest-only loans, with some offering to waive switching fees for customers who move principal and interest repayments.

Commonwealth Bank last week raised its interest-only rate for investors by 26 basis points to 5.94 per cent per annum, and for owner-occupiers by 25 basis points to 5.47 per cent. The same day, ANZ raised its interest-only investor rate by 11 basis points to 5.96 per cent, and its owner-occupier rate by 20 basis points to 5.25 per cent.

It came a week after NAB and Westpac jacked up rates. Westpac increased its interest-only investor rate by 28 basis points to 5.96 per cent, and its owner-occupier rate by 8 basis points to 5.49 per cent. NAB increased its interest-only investor rate by 25 basis points to 5.90 per cent, and its owner-occupier rate by 7 basis points to 5.42 per cent.

Despite the official cash rate remaining on hold at its historic low of 1.5 per cent, banks have been raising rates out of cycle with the Reserve Bank to protect their profit margins as funding costs rise.

Late last year, the final report from a two-year parliamentary inquiry into housing affordability came back with no recommendations, drawing strong criticism from Labor and the Greens.

The committee argued against changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts, a position shared by the federal government. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison have blamed soaring house prices on a lack of supply.


Where’s the due diligence on renewables?

James Delingpole

You know that lovely warm glow you get on a summer’s evening when it’s still 42 degrees outside and you’re reaching into your fridge for your first restorative tinny when suddenly the lights go out and your air-con too?

Of course you do, especially if you live in South Australia, where, thanks to ambitious ‘green’ energy targets, power outages like this have become the new normal.

‘No worries!’ you say. ‘I accept that personal discomfort, inconvenience and mild danger are but a small price to pay to save the planet from global warming. Only a dinosaur would expect to go on being able to use electricity as and when he wants it. I for one welcome the bright new age of darkness, clean energy and government rationing!’

Except you don’t, do you? If you’re anything like all the commonsense Aussies I met last time I visited, you’ll be absolutely bloody livid: ‘We’re Australia, the lucky country, not some third world backwater. We invented commercial refrigeration. We’re sitting on top of a continent’s worth of cheap energy. What kind of eco-fascist madness is this?’

The madness is the result of the global warming scare which has dominated Western policymaking for the last four decades. Some countries are starting to get over it – notably Donald Trump’s United States –but in Australia it continues to exert a grip tighter than the bite of a ravenous saltie.

Climate change lunacy has affected everything from your right to clear trees off your property (often you can’t: they’ve been designated a carbon sink) to where you can’t build your waterfront home (junk science paranoia about rising sea levels) to how many millions of dollars you waste on desalination plants (for the permanent drought that never came).

Most damaging of all are Australia’s renewable energy targets. In South Australia they stand at 50 per cent (by 2025), in Queensland 50 per cent (by 2030) – rightly described as ‘bonkers mad’ by deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, in Victoria 40 per cent (by 2025). Even under the Liberal federal government, the national target is 23 per cent by 2020. All of these are doomed to fail –even the national one would require the impossible feat of a 50 per cent increase in Australia’s renewable energy (mainly solar and wind) within three years. Meanwhile, the havoc they have already wreaked is considerable.

South Australia has been the hardest hit so far by the great renewables disaster. No doubt it sounded good when premier Jay Weatherill and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis first began evangelising about their world-beating clean energy targets. The consequence, though, has been blackouts, job losses and economic chaos caused by rocketing power prices and intermittent supply.

But instead of apologising, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is asking customers to take it on the chin. In a process euphemistically known as ‘load shedding’, the AEMO can order customers’ power supplies to be switched off in times of extreme stress so as to prevent wider system failure.

Why is this happening now in a developed nation in the 21st century? The simple answer is that renewables, apart from being two or three times more expensive than fossil fuels, are intermittent, unreliable and unpredictable.

If the sun isn’t shining (which it doesn’t, at night, not even in Australia) or the wind isn’t blowing, then the power needs to come from more conventional sources like coal and gas. The more renewables in the energy mix – 40 per cent of South Australia’s energy capacity is now wind – the more inherently unstable the grid becomes.

Hence the great blackout of September last year: a storm forced a shut down of wind power to prevent surges; this in turn crashed the entire local grid.

All this man-made chaos might be excusable if it served any useful purpose. It doesn’t.

Increasingly, it is becoming apparent that renewables are one of the great, truly bad ideas of the last 100 years: a boon for troughing rent-seekers, virtue-signalling pollies and posturing greenies but terrible for the rest of us poor saps who have to subsidise them; disastrous for the environment (all those birds and bats sliced and diced); utterly ineffectual in ‘combatting climate change’ (Australia produces less than two per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases).

So what’s to be done? What’s painfully clear is that – with rare exceptions like Cory Bernardi and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts – Australia’s politicians have no appetite for reining in the problem, for fear of suffering the same fate as Tony Abbott, whose political demise was partly wrought by the Green Blob. It doesn’t help that most of the media – especially the ABC –is so heavily in thrall to eco-zealotry and refuses to question the (fake) green ‘consensus’.

That means people who believe in regaining the cheap, reliable energy Australia used to have before the green madness took hold have a fight on their hands. One way they might yet win is through the courts via judicial review. What, after all, is the most basic requirement taxpayers ought to expect from their governments? Due diligence on public expenditure.

This is going to be one of the tactics of Cool Futures Funds Management – a contrarian Aussie hedge fund of which I’m an enthusiastic supporter because it is, as far as I know, the first financial institution to try to profit by holding the Green Blob’s dodgy dealings to account.

It has approached the government with a low-cost, shovel-ready, clean-coal technology solution which could solve all Australia’s baseload energy supply problems. But because this solution involves fossil fuel, it will inevitably be resisted heavily by the greens and their useful idiots in government and business. And that’s where the courts may have to adjudicate.

Australians deserve better than to be held to ransom by the duff ideology of a few eco-zealots. If governments can’t provide their voters with something as basic as reliable energy, then they must be held to account for their negligence.

South Australia is a warning the rest of the country should heed before it’s too late. And the answer to your problems, my Aussie friends, is most definitely not blowing in the wind. It’s right there, underneath your feet.


Urfa Masood to be Victoria's first female Muslim magistrate

Will sharia principles creep into her verdicts?

Victoria has appointed its first Muslim woman to the bench.

Attorney-General Martin Pakula on Tuesday morning announced the appointment of Urfa Masood to the Magistrates' Court of Victoria.

Ms Masood, who is of Sri Lankan background, will be the first Muslim woman to sit on the bench of any Victorian court.

Ms Masood started practising criminal law in 2003 and has worked for the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and the Australian Tax Office. She has worked cases in the Magistrates', County, Children's, Family and Federal Courts.

In 2012 she became an adjunct lecturer at the College of Law, where she teaches advocacy.

Mr Pakula congratulated Ms Masood on her new position, saying she brought to the role extensive experience in criminal and family law.

"Ms Masood has extensive experience in criminal law, child protection and family law, as well as with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, which will prove invaluable in her role as a magistrate," he said.

Annette Vickery, deputy chief executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, said it was important to have magistrates with an understanding of the issues facing Aboriginal communities.

"The Aboriginal Legal Service has long been recognised as a development ground for exceptional legal talent and we congratulate one of our previous staff members on her appointment to the bench," she said.


University introduces 'trigger warnings' to courses - to warn students of distressing content

Monash University has become the first in Australia to introduce a policy of trigger warnings.

But critics have blasted the move as a bid to implement a politically correct agenda under the pretence of protecting the wellbeing of students.

In the Melbourne university's pilot program, 15 course outlines contain warnings that the content could cause emotional distress to students, the ABC reports.

It involves academics reviewing the course's content and highlight any 'emotionally confronting material' related to sexual assault, violence, domestic abuse, child abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, suicide, pornography, abortion, kidnapping, hate speech, animal cruelty and animal deaths, including abbatoirs.

The university insists political correctness was not a factor in the introduction of the policy, which was the culmination of years of campaigning by the Student Association.

But critics insist it is conceding to the demands of students who want to avoid ideas they do not agree with – and is a reflection of what is happening on campuses across the United States.

Student Association president Matilda Grey insists the warnings are not there so students can withdraw themselves from challenging situations – but so they can prepare themselves for the material they will study.

She added the current generation of students are simply more aware of the traumatising experiences their classmates may have endured, such as sexual assault.

'We're not suggesting that they should be faced with difficult, discomforting topics at all,' she said.

Rather, it will allow those who may suffer anxiety or panic attacks from distressing content to prepare themselves and manage their response, she said.

Chris Berg, from the Institute of Public Affairs, is critical of the move and says it is harmful to education.

'We've seen how this has played out in the US and it can turn into a censorious, highly politically correct [culture] and highly harmful to the mission of education that universities exist for,' he told the ABC.

And Marguerite Johnson, an associate professor at Newcastle University, considers herself progressive and regularly warns her students ahead of explicit material.

However, she disagrees with the idea of university officials deciding when warnings are to be issued – and thinks Monash sets the bar far too low.

'The world is emotionally distressing and I find it quite absurd that the universities may see themselves as the guardians of emotionally distressing situations,' she added.

She also believes the warnings are a stepping stone to censorship and could lead to the application of warnings on specific works.

For example, the works of Roman poet Ovid, Virginia Woolf and F. Scott Fitzgerald have often been objected to by American students for their depiction of sexual violence.

Professor Johnson also noted that analysing texts that might disturb students can be for the betterment of society, citing the example of Australia's reform of sexual assault laws.

She said it was only because young feminist students in the 1970s saw the way women were represented in rape cases that they went on to become lawyers and advocated for the change in legislation.

'If they hadn't experienced the horrors of reading the materials as students, how would they know what to fight against, how would they know what to kick against?'


The Leftist reliance on censorship


After a long winter of stultifying centrism, Australia has regained its two-party system. The left’s ­political persecution of artist Bill Leak and his untimely death have shocked the Liberal Party into resurrecting its founding principle of freedom. Labor has responded to the Prime Minister’s plea for freedom by revealing its intent to censor the people and the free press.

In the fashion of 21st-century totalitarians, the left is using race and human rights as rhetorical weapons against liberty and civil society. The Liberal Party is ­emerging once more as the party of freedom, fairness and democracy. It begs the question: what’s left of the left?

In the midst of World War II, sociologist Robert Nisbet warned that we would not be able to detect the return of totalitarianism by searching for political absolutism in the form of an autocratic state. Rather, the rise of totalitarianism would become apparent by the gradual encroachment of the state into all areas of life traditionally assigned to society: family, friendships and secular faith.

The object of totalitarian ­contempt is civil society because the ties that bind us in friendship, family and faith also effect our ­independence from the state. The animating principle of civil society is free speech and we learn to master it by exercising public reason. As a result, the most distinctive feature of liberal democratic states is the protection of free speech and public reason from state coercion and control.

The Western left seems capable of discerning the totalitarian threat, but only when it comes dressed like an enemy. Thus, its members might criticise Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for suppressing free speech, or Vladimir Putin for punishing dissidents, but celebrate the silencing of fellow citizens deemed politically incorrect by state censors.

In the modern West, the most popular and effective rhetorical device to erode free speech has been race. Communists used class as a weapon to depict state censorship of dissenters as victory for the proletariat. In the 21st century, the left uses race as a weapon to shame and silence dissenters from the PC party line.

State censorship of dissidents is marketed as victory for state-designated minority groups. In the West, however, these ­minority groups are rarely genuine political minorities. Under ­affirmative action laws, they are given superior rights to other ­citizens. They are usually numerical ­minorities granted a range of ­unearned privileges under law.

As a woman, I am one of the fake minorities singled out for special privileges under discrimination law and I have come to resent it. I believe in formal equality, not inequality and I dislike intensely any attempt to create hostility between people on the basis of biological traits. As history shows, a ruling class often comprises a numerical minority awarded political, legal and economic privileges that are denied other citizens. It is the meaning of systemic inequality and a reliable predictor of social unrest.

The Liberal Party seeks equality for all Australians under law. It wants to restore speech equality by reforming section 18C so that every citizen enjoys an equal right to freedom of thought and speech without fear of persecution by common slanderers, or the state. The Labor Party champions speech inequality by defending 18C. Under Labor, the people and the press are denied the right to speak freely.

Those who insist on free speech are often targeted for abuse by false accusers wielding the rhetorical weapon of race. As we saw in the persecution of Bill Leak by Islamist and PC censors, and the three-year-long case against QUT students, section 18C empowers a type of fraud. In its current form, the Racial Discrimination Act enables what I would call race fraud; the use of race to deceive/defraud Australians by means of false accusation and political persecution. The beneficiaries of race fraud include vexatious claimants, ambulance-chasing lawyers, race-baiting activists and establishment backers of 18C.

Section 18C is big business, as legal affairs editor Chris Merritt has revealed. Since 2010, respondents in race discrimination complaints handled by the AHRC have paid almost $1 million to avoid going to court. The complainant in the QUT case, Cindy Prior, sought $250,000 in damages from students over Facebook posts. Some of the biggest payouts have come from government ­departments, which means that once again, the taxpayer is funding the harmful PC industry.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane invited people online to complain about Leak’s cartoon. Soutphommasane was appointed in 2013 by then Labor attorney-general Mark Dreyfus. During a panel hosted by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria last week, Dreyfus outlined plans that could result in the application of 18C to a growing list of protected attributes.

According to Merritt, Dreyfus indicated that: “A Labor government hoped to consolidate all federal anti-discrimination legislation and would consider … a general standard for the type of speech that would attract liability.” Dreyfus plans on “consolidating the five anti-discrimination statutes when we are next in government” and establishing “a standard about speech generally”.

When last in office, Labor launched the most totalitarian ­assault on freedom of speech I have seen in the 21st century West. The Green-Left’s attack on free speech and the independent media was categorically anti-democratic. Combined with a ­proposed meta-regulator of the media, Labor’s human rights and anti-discrimination bill would have ushered in state control of free speech under the guise of social justice. The bill created a raft of new protected attributes including immigrant status, nationality or citizenship, and social origin. They would have been protected from “unfavourable treatment”, defined as “conduct that offends, insults or intimidates”.

Labor’s doomed bill was supported by the AHRC. The Liberal Party warned it would reverse the onus of proof, thereby destroying the presumption of innocence in Australian law. However, AHRC President Gillian Triggs contended that shifting the onus of proof to the accused was needed because complainants were “vulnerable”.

The ethos of Australian equality and mateship is protected by formal equality. We should seek a state where speech equality is guaranteed by ensuring all Australians can speak freely without fear of political persecution under 18C.


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

30 March, 2017  


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is cynical about attempts by Turnbull to repeal the 18C "human rights" law.

Democracy triumphs over Turnbull’s unfathomable foreign policy fiasco

It was a great day for democracy in Australia as the political class ­rejected the debasement of our laws and legal system involved in ratifying the extradition treaty ­between Australia and China, and rejected likewise the enormous pressure the Chinese government brought to bear on the matter.

The unsuccessful attempt to get the treaty ratified is the single worst foreign policy fiasco in the life of the Turnbull government.

It represents a failure in principle, as well as a failure in political and process management, on an epic scale.

Rejecting the treaty was the right thing to do. Those Liberals who considered crossing the floor are an advertisement for decency and values in politics.

The way the process unfolded also offers a serious measure of justification for Cory Bernardi in leaving the Liberal Party. Outside the party, he was able to produce a result he could not have achieved from inside the party.

But the Turnbull government has achieved for itself the worst of all possible results — it has embarrassed itself and the Chinese, it has embarked on a course which contradicts fundamental Liberal ­values and its campaign of justification for the proposed ratification was at times bizarre and frequently rested on inadvertent factual mistakes from ministers who gave every impression of not understanding the process.

Surely the most objectionable element of the government’s ­arguments was to cite the situation of Australians who are now in Chinese custody.

The government’s argument contradicts itself and making it publicly is one of the most irresponsible actions I have ever seen from an Australian government.

If the Chinese government is going to mistreat Australian prisoners because Canberra does not ratify a treaty this is itself proof ­beyond question that the Chinese legal system is not independent or truly based on law.

But for an Australian government to make public reference to the fate of individual Australians in foreign custody, in support of a doomed and grossly mismanaged parliamentary ratification process, is cynical, irresponsible and frankly improper. I am surprised this element of the government’s behaviour has not excited wider comment. The government’s misuse of such arguments smacks of desperation and panic.

Two other elements are ­notable. The Labor Party has behaved well here. People are mistaking Penny Wong’s reticence to criticise the treaty in principle, but rather to base Labor’s public justification for rejection in process ­issues, as meaning Labor has no objection to this treaty in principle.

That is dead wrong, as Bill Shorten’s several comments on the matter illustrate clearly. Instead, Labor consistently tried to offer the government a way out of the mess of its own making which did not humiliate the Chinese and caused as little diplomatic fallout as possible.

That goes back as far as the Labor members’ dissenting report in the joint treaties’ committee.

Finally, the fact that we have some other extradition treaties with countries with dubious legal systems is no argument for having one with China. Those other agreements may themselves be problematic, but there are two fundamental differences with China.

No country other than China makes a remotely comparable ­effort to manipulate, coerce and control the political activities of its diaspora population in Australia as China does.

And no other country has China’s ability to pressure an Australian government.

This appalling treaty would institutionalise that manipulation and invite that pressure.

To bring it back onto the public agenda was a massive self inflicted injury by Turnbull. The source of his motivation for doing so remains an unfathomable mystery.


The homofascists are on a roll

Having pressured Coopers, IBM and PwC and their senior staff to sever links with Christian associations, gay rights activist Michael Barnett has turned his sights on academia, demanding Macquarie University force one of its lecturers to renounce a Christian educational organisation.

The move led the Christian group to warn the onus was on the university sector, as a national pillar of freedom of thought and ­expression, to back its academics against political pressure from LGBTI campaigners.

Mr Barnett, who tweets as ­“mikeybear”, re-posted the list of directors of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, a training organisation established by the Australian Christian Lobby, and singled out Macquarie University senior research associate Steve Chavura as a member of the LMI board. “A bad look @Macquarie_Uni having a Lachlan Macquarie Institute board member and director on your payroll, as a @PrideDiversity member,” Mr Barnett tweeted.

Mr Barnett yesterday told The Australian he believed Macquarie University was conflicted while it was a member of the Pride in ­Diversity campaign which supports LGBTI individuals’ rights and safety in the workplace, while Dr Chavura was a director of LMI.

Mr Barnett said he did not know if LMI or Dr Chavura had ever issued any anti-gay material, but said “I don’t think they are going to be running floats down Mardi Gras.” Mr Barnett issued the post as The Australian revealed that ACL and LMI had been granted official permission to keep their board members’ names secret on the grounds of “public safety” after abuse and threats from gay activists forced IBM executive Mark Allaby to quit the LMI board.

Dr Chavura yesterday said he would not resign as a lecturer and director at LMI, and would resist what he described as an attempt by Mr Barnett to “weed out any dissenters from his view” about sexuality, in any public institution.

“I hope the university is strong enough not to capitulate” to this type of pressure, Dr Chavura said.

But Macquarie University yesterday declined to support Dr Chavura. “As a matter of practice, Macquarie University does not comment on individual matters pertaining to employees,” spokeswoman Megan Wright said in a statement to The Australian.

“When commenting publicly, the university asks that employees adhere to the university’s public comment policy.”

Dr Chavura, who lectures in history and political theory at the university and LMI, said while he privately maintained traditional Christian views on sexuality and marriage and would talk about them if asked, he did not canvass them in his teachings which ranged widely from Karl Marx to liberalism to political concepts.

“I think it’s a bad look for the tweeter, seeking to destroy the ­career of someone who has engaged in no abuse, no inflammatory speech whatsoever,” Dr Chavura said of Mr Barnett.

Mr Barnett, who describes himself as a campaigner for human rights and equality, is convener of Jewish LGBTI group Aleph Melbourne. He denied his post against Dr Chavura was an assault on the academic’s rights to freedom of expression, religion and association. “No one is stopping him going to church, being a member of a faith,” he said. “Being a member of a board is not religion.”


Food Fascists strike again

Australian parents were outraged earlier this month when two mothers were shamed for daring to let their children bring cake to school.

But now a Melbourne mother has revealed that even a organic Greek yoghurt snack was now against the rules.

And they didn't stop there. The staff also informed Aleesha that her daughter's second snack of Vegemite on cheese Cruskits also didn't meet their healthy standards.

Aleesha revealed that her daughter had not been allowed to eat either of her snacks.  'Seriously, where do you draw the line?' the mum wrote in a post about the incident on a parenting group.

A number of parents quickly agreed, revealing that their own healthy snacks of carrots with hummus or zucchini muffins were rejected by their children's schools.

And some feared that the strict dietary standards would only lead to their children developing unhealthy relationships with their food. 

Adelaide mum Jessica Gianoni's daughter Isabel declared 'You're in trouble mum' after a similar incident.

Jessica received a note from her kindergarten after she sent the four-year-old to school with a piece of cake.

'Sorry, cake is a sometimes food,' the note read, adding that it didn't align with the schools 'Healthy Eating Policy'.

The note said Jessica's daughter had been provided with a 'healthy alternative instead' and invited her to ask staff for nutritious snack suggestions.  

Jessica shared a photo of the note on Facebook, where a number of parents were equally outraged.

And, earlier this month, a South Australian mother was also shamed for including a slice of chocolate birthday cake in her three-year-old's pack.

She was given a note with an sad face emoji informing her that cake was from the 'red food category' and that she needed to 'choose healthier options for Kindy'.


'It's destroying the innocence of childhood': Experts slam 'sexism' program aimed at stamping out gender stereotypes in preschools

A new program targeting four-year-old children who show signs of sexism in preschool has been slammed by education experts.

Thousands of early childhood educators in Victoria will be trained to implement Respectful Relationships programs in a bid to stamp out gender stereotyping in the state's kindergartens.

A tender to train 4,000 educators suggests four-year-old children can show signs of sexism and gender discrimination.

'As young children learn about gender, they may also begin to enact sexist values, beliefs and attitudes that may contribute to disrespect and gender inequality,' the document says, according to The Australian.

'Professional learning will ­increase the capacity of early childhood educators to understand and implement respectful relationships and gender equality into their program delivery.'

Senior research fellow at Australian Catholic University, Kevin Donnelly, told the Herald Sun children in preschool do not have the capacity to understand complex teachings on gender and sexuality. 

'It is far too early... It is quite outrageous and quite offensive to think that young children of that age will be indoctrinated with this very cultural, left gender and sexuality theory,' Dr Donnelly said.  'It really is destroying the innocence of childhood.'

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling has previously slammed Respectful Relationships programs.

'[Premier] Daniel Andrews should stop implementing ideological programs and forcing his values on other people's children, and start focusing on the basics such as teaching our kids to read, write and count,' he said.

The new program will reportedly cost the taxpayer $3.4 million.


Coal hatred behind South Australian blackout

Windmills are given huge subsidies but a small subsidy for a much more useful generator was denied

The owner of the now-defunct Port Augusta power station made a secret offer to keep generating electricity until mid-2018 in return for $25 million from the State Government — 22 times less than its $550 million power plan.

Extensive details of Alinta Energy’s bid to subsidise the 520 megawatt Northern plant’s operation are revealed in a May, 2015, letter from the company to the Government.
The Port Augusta power station. Picture: Kelly Barnes

Seizing on the explosive revelations, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall branded the rejection of an affordable deal to keep power prices down and prevent blackouts as the State Government’s biggest failure since the 1991 State Bank disaster.

In the six-page letter supplied to The Advertiser by the Liberals, Alinta warns of significant risk to the security of South Australia’s power supply and a surge in electricity prices — costing the state $56 million to $112 million a year — if the power station and associated Leigh Creek brown coal mine were to close.

Other sources have told The Advertiser that Alinta made another bid for $30 million to the government, which made a rejected counter-offer of only $8 million. Alinta then announced in June 2015 that it would close the station.

The secret Alinta letter revealed also warned that closure of Flinders Power, which included the Northern power station and Leigh Creek, would trigger a $150 million annual blow to regional GDP and cost 450 jobs.

The bulk of Alinta’s demand was for a 70 per cent subsidy of maintenance costs for the 250km Leigh Creek railway, which supplied brown coal to the power plant — equivalent to about $8 million over three years.

SA has been hit by three major blackouts, including a statewide outage last September, since the closure last May of Alinta’s Flinders Power operation.

Businesses across the state took an estimated $450 million hit because of the statewide blackout and mining giant BHP Billiton has said that outages at Olympic Dam cost it $137 million.
The Port Augusta power station on a clear day, in 2008. Picture: Supplied

Electricity prices for forward contracts in SA have jumped from about $80 per megawatt hour in mid-2016 to about $140MW/h.

Premier Jay Weatherill this month branded the Port Augusta plant a “clunky, old, coal-fired power station”, declared Alinta’s temporary offer did not secure SA’s energy future


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

29 March, 2017

Labor would lead us to poverty: PM

Malcolm Turnbull has accused the opposition of wanting to lead Australia into poverty by rejecting the government's 10-year corporate tax rate cut.

As the Senate prepares to debate and vote this week on the package aimed at incrementally reducing the company tax rate to 25 per cent, the prime minister warned its rejection would lead to less investment and business and fewer jobs.

"That's Labor's policy. It's the path to poverty," Mr Turnbull told parliament on Tuesday.

However, while one opinion poll on Monday showed two in five Australians backing the $50 billion tax package, the latest Essential Research survey found just three per cent of respondents see it as a priority for the government.

Instead, nearly half want more investment in hospitals and health services as a major priority and close to a third want big business to pay their fair share of tax.

With Labor sticking to its opposition to a widespread tax cut and limiting the reduction to 27.5 per cent for firms with a turnover of $2 million or less, the government needs the support of a fractured crossbench.

However, there appears to be sufficient crossbench agreement to at least back the first leg of the package, which would reduce the rate to 27.5 per cent for business with a $10 million turnover.

At the moment, corporations pay 30 per cent apart from those with $2 million or less turnover, which pay 28.5 per cent.

But Business Council of Australia president Grant King says the $10 million turnover limit is a very low number that would leave thousands of businesses out in the cold and in a "very disadvantaged" position globally.

He believes Australia's tax rate is already uncompetitive after reductions in the UK and Europe.

"If the US tax rate is cut to anywhere near where Trump campaigned, which was a headline rate of 15 per cent, it would make Australia very disadvantaged," Mr King told ABC radio.

But shadow treasurer Chris Bowen argues Australia is already quite competitive.

He said a recent US Congressional Budget Office report showed businesses do not just look at the headline rate, but also other permissible reductions and the overall average rate.

"When you look at our top corporate tax rate of 30 per cent, it comes down much closer to 20 when you look at the average that's actually paid," Mr Bowen told ABC radio.

The government can expect support from crossbench senator Cory Bernardi and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, while Pauline Hanson's four One Nation senators will support a reduction for businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million.

Senator Nick Xenophon's three NXT senators will back a reduction for businesses with a $10 million turnover, as will independent Derryn Hinch, while Tasmania's Jacqui Lambie has said she will back a cut for "small business".

Under the initial stages of the plan, the corporate rate drops to 27.5 per cent for businesses with a turnover of $10 million this financial year, then for those with a $25 million turnover in 2017/18 and $50 million in 2018/19.


Rampant ‘rexism’ joins conga line of political correctness

THERE is a new form of bigotry sweeping our nation. Potentially, it’s as pernicious as apartheid, as revolting as the racism against blacks in pre-civil rights America, as vile as sexism against women before the feminist revolution of the ’70s, and as subtle and insidious as the McCarthy-era black-listings.

Although it combines several prejudices, at heart it’s a dangerous combo of racism and sexism. So I’m going to give this new form of bigotry a name: rexism.

Rexism means that in at least 33 per cent of hirings inspired by diversity and inclusion, organisation ends up with an employee who’s not as good as they could be.

Rexism is directed against one specific group of people in our society – some of whom might actually be called Rex, but that’s coincidental – and it’s designed to cripple their careers, lower their earning power, and damage their self-esteem. Rexism is rampant throughout business and politics, and it is being deliberately cultivated by some of the most powerful institutions in the country. Indeed, rexists are encouraged and rewarded with money, power and influence.

I define rexism as “prejudice against heterosexual white males”.

Of course, rexists, like racists and sexists, try to justify their prejudice. As in the past, when bigots would cite crackpot theories to “prove” that blacks or Asians or women were somehow genetically or intellectually “inferior” by the shape of their head or hormones or whatever, today’s rexists hide behind weasel words and pseudo-science.

“Diversity”, “inclusion” and “perceived merit” are some of those weasel words, and the theory of “unconscious bias” is the loopy science masking this prejudice against straight white men. (Often by straight white men, funnily enough.)

Martin Parkinson is the most powerful public servant in Australia. He is Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. He is also a leading rexist. He believes in the theory of “unconscious bias”, that merit is “perceived”, and he boasts ­that he’s committed to “diversity” and “inclusion”.

In his own words: “Treasury’s lack of diversity was largely a product of … my own biases. Recruiting on merit meant looking for someone who had done the job before – a safe pair of hands. The only candidates ticking this box tended to look, sound and think like those of us already in Treasury. The fault wasn’t the concept of merit, but how we perceived merit.”

Think through that logic.

Two people come in for a job requiring certain credentials and experience. Applicant One is a heterosexual white male who has the appropriate CV. Applicant Two is a gay/lesbian/transgender/Asian/African/Muslim/woman/take your pick, whose qualifications for the job are: a.) better than; b.) the same as; c.) worse than Applicant One’s. Who gets the job?

In the past, it would – or should – have been the person most qualified to do the job. But now, throughout the public service and in many banks and corporations, that choice is deliberately skewed in favour of Applicant Two.

In all those businesses now boasting about diversity and inclusion (D&I), the person doing the hiring will not only be expected to counter their own “unconscious bias” by choosing Applicant Two, but they will be expected to prove it, thanks to the presence in many organisations of “D&I officers”, whose job it is to monitor them. Thus, the hirer’s own job is on the line if they don’t repeatedly show that they have defeated their own “unconscious bias”.

By definition, in at least 33 per cent of D&I-inspired hirings, the organisation ends up with c.) an employee who’s not as good as they could be.

Diversity Council chairman David Morrison chided the army for being “overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male, overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon”. Imagine if he’d said that about women, Muslims or gays.

Meanwhile, it gets harder for straight white men to be certain in their careers because the odds will always be stacked against them in favour of someone who represents “diversity” regardless of merit. Equally, gays/trans/Muslims etc will always have the nagging feeling they only got picked because of D&I. Ultimately, D&I means taxpayers, shareholders and consumers get dudded by political correctness.

And every day another non-gay white bloke is rejected, a victim of rexism.


Backlash over ‘racist’ theme of new Sydney bar

A NEW Sydney bar and restaurant has come under fire for its “sexy pre-war Shanghai” theme as social media users flood the business’ Facebook page with accusations of racism and cultural appropriation.

Suey Sins, a new bar and restaurant in Surry Hills, only opened its doors for business this morning but has already received a barrage of criticism over its name, traditional qipaos as staff uniforms, and theme.

The critics claimed the venue was glamorising the dark reality of Chinese culture during the British colonial era and “continuing negative colonial ideologies”, and “racist fetishisation of a marginalised women [sic] for a dollar”.

“Mind explaining the brilliant idea of blending “sins” and “chop suey” to come up with the name?” one person asked. “Mind explaining this incredibly obvious perpetuation of the longstanding stereotype of Asian women as exotic sex toys?”

Another social media user wrote: “The creepy concept of this bar makes my skin crawl. “The gross cultural appropriation is abhorrent and they also refer to “geisha chicks” in at least one of their posts while dressing their white staff in qipao as though Asian cultures are all the same. Ugh.”

In a press release, venue owner Eli West said the bar was named after “a famous Shanghai call girl ... a quintessential icon of the ‘Shanghai Naughties’.”

“I have spent most of my life travelling in Indonesia, and have some Chinese heritage and I like to think I may be related to a character very similar to Suey Sin,” Ms West wrote.

“I love the idea of this seductive, alluring woman who had old world charm and poise but also knew exactly what she wanted and how to get it. I see a bit of that in myself and the young women who will drink here.” understands Suey Sin was a Chinese woman working in the film industry — and not as a call girl or pre-war — in Los Angeles in the 1920s.

The venue also features a collage of Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong who, during her illustrious career, was passed over for a role playing a Chinese woman by MGM in 1935 in favour of German actress, Luise Rainer, according to

Venue management responded to the backlash on their Facebook page but has not yet responded to requests for comment from media.

“We acknowledge and understand that there has been some criticism surround Suey Sins,” the statement read.

“It has never been our intention to offend. We simply sought to create a venue that focuses on delicious Asian fusion inspired street style food and creative beverages for all to enjoy.”


Queensland rail fail: Taxpayers foot bill for staggering cost of overhaul

A spineless Leftist government said "yes" to egregious union demands.  And now all Queensland pays

TAXPAYERS have been stung more than $17 million in the wake of the rail fail as the Government scrambles to provide reliable services and overhaul the toxic organisation.

The bill includes $14.4 million Queensland Rail spent scrambling to replace cancelled trains and missing drivers caused by the timetabling disaster and chronic train crew shortages.

Taxpayers spent more than $4.2 million driving stranded passengers around in replacement buses and taxis even as they shelled out $10.2 million in train driver overtime in the months since October.

They were forced to pay ex-chief executive officer Helen Gluer a $160,000 severance payment as she left the organisation in crisis. Another $2.5 million was spent on the Strachan Commission of Inquiry to find out how to fix the chaos.

But the cost of a total overhaul of Queensland Rail’s driver training program had been dubbed commercial in confidence and remains secret as outside experts are brought in to try to trim the laborious 18-month training program down to nine months.

Transport Minister Jackie Trad released the staggering costs that show the cost of replacement buses and taxis for October to January was $206,000 more than the same period last year.

It was particularly high in December, when issues culminated in the cancellation of about one third of services on Christmas Day and led to the resignation of QR’s chief operating officer, Kevin Wright.

Queenslanders also paid $10.2 million in driver and guard overtime payments from October to February 19. Driver and guard wages in the period without overtime would have cost $5.68 million.

Ms Trad said the Government was working through all the recommendations of the Strachan commission. “He has given us a blueprint for reform and we are pursuing that,” she said.

But Opposition transport spokesman Andrew Powell said taxpayers were paying more now for 1800 fewer services a month.


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

28 March, 2017

No bias to fix at ABC, vows new chairman

And he really seems to mean it

The ABC’s newly appointed chairman, Justin Milne, has dismissed accusations of bias in news coverage, saying the organisation would continue to resist political pressure over its editorial output.

Speaking to The Australian in his first interview as chairman, Mr Milne said the broadcaster was fulfilling its role as a public service by presenting a wide range of political views.

“I don’t come to the job thinking I need to fix the perceived bias in the ABC because I don’t know that there really is a bias, but I imagin­e scrutiny of the ABC will continue — and so it should,” he said.

Criticism from former prime minister Paul Keating, current cabinet ministers and government MPs of an ABC bias on a range of issues was more often than not driven by personal ideology and a perception of bias, he argued.

“Roughly speaking, 50 per cent of the audience will think it is biased to the left, 50 per cent will think it’s biased to the right — it has ever been thus.

“The skill and test of the journalists and editors and staff at the ABC is to try to continually find that line down the middle.

“Generally speaking, as a punter and consumer of the ABC, it seems to me to be doing a very good job. I like ABC for news like all Australians do because the ABC attempts to be unbiased, it attempts to tell it right down the middle so it’s a good reference point for many Australians.”

Mr Keating said last year the ABC was “letting Australia down” with its presentation of news.

The public broadcaster has also come under fire from cabinet, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who has described ABC reporters as ­“advocates dressed up as journ­alists” for their critical coverage of the government’s detention policies.

Mr Milne, however, said it would not be his responsibility to be an overseer of the corporation’s editorial output or weigh in on programming decisions for shows such as Q&A, which critics say do not feature enough conservative voices.

“I think Q&A serves a purpose and it clearly stirs people up and creates an audience, which is part of the job of being a media organisation,” said Mr Milne, who admitted­ to watching Q&A only “occasionally”.

“I won’t be sitting there with a score sheet. I think it’s the job of the board to ensure the ABC continues­ to provide the service that the Aus­tralian people want it to provide and that is … an unbiased view of politics, current affairs­ and the zeitgeist.”

In his first comments since his appointment was confirmed by the Turnbull government last week, Mr Milne said he was fully supportive of ABC managing directo­r Michelle Guthrie, and said the ABC must do more to connect with younger audiences.

He also underscored the importan­ce of serving regional rural communities after savage cuts under Ms Guthrie’s pre­decessor, Mark Scott.

A former Telstra executive and longstanding friend of Malcolm­ Turnbull, Mr Milne has media and marketing experience that aligns with Ms Guthrie’s strategy to increase the public broadcaster’s digital media output­.


Political correctness has become the new truth

Rex Jory

THE Australia I love is disappearing. It’s been hijacked by faceless people who worship at the altar of political correctness and personal offence.

These messengers of the new morality paint themselves as victims. They believe they are entitled to compensation or apology if they are offended. They seek reward or retribution for the slightest inconvenience.

These self-proclaimed victims use social media with such devastating effect they have wrested control of the nation’s political, social and moral agenda. They tear down people who dare express a contrary view. They humiliate and intimidate anyone who challenges their beliefs. Megaphone politics.

They know best. Their view of Australia in 2017 must prevail. My way or the highway. Never mind that it is not the view of the majority of people.

These purveyors of the new morality are reminiscent of the racially-based Ku Klux Klan in the US. They plant a burning cross in the front yard of someone they accuse of breaching their often warped moral code while dressed anonymously in white robes and pointed hats.

They have crushed free speech and free expression by destroying community debate. People are now too frightened to say what they believe.

Political correctness twists and manipulates truth. It has become the new truth, the selective truth. Yet truth is no longer a defence. Just because someone expresses an opinion based on fact, they are not immune from being attacked and discredited on social media.

If someone dares criticise or even raise political, religious or racial issues which are contrary to the beliefs of the anonymous purists, the reaction and retribution can be swift and brutal. Often it resembles hate-speak.

Look at poor old Coopers, the beer makers. They were lampooned for being associated with a private discussion between two Liberal members of Parliament about same-sex marriage. The attack on social media was vicious. Then IBM copped it because one executive is in a Christian group.

Now they’ve turned on proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act which currently threatens freedom of speech.

The Kokoda Track in Papua-New Guinea has become a target, with words like mateship being quietly erased from the lexicon. Mateship has been replaced by friendship. Never mind the Diggers and their families — let alone the wider community — who are offended.

In the new social agenda, mateship has become hateship. It has transferred power from the individual and a structured system of authority to a faceless, intangible force fuelled by moral indignation.

We are no longer allowed to be involved in civilised debate or think for ourselves. If the trend continues, then as a nation we are no longer civilised.

The Australian character has been stripped and reconstructed in the image of political correctness. The Australian larrikin has become an endangered species. Whatever happened to Australia’s “have a go” spirit? What happened to our irreverent sense of humour? What happened to common sense and the brave “she’ll be right” credo which helped build this country?

The Australian community has fragmented. We are no longer a single, coherent society. People are judged on what they are, what they believe and not what they have achieved or contributed.

For too many people, the first reaction is to lay blame and seek compensation through intimidation or litigation. Whatever cloak they wear — race, colour, gender, occupation, age, religion, physical appearance — they claim the moral high ground.

I don’t begrudge people holding strong beliefs. That’s their right in a democracy. I agree with some of them. But I resent being bullied into accepting those views under duress — or remaining silent.

Those promoting victimhood and personal offence as the path forward have used social media to promote their agenda by fear and suppression.

It’s time those who have taken the alternative path of meek silence spoke out and exposed the politics of victimhood as a false god.

If not the face and character of Australia, the Australia I love, will be lost. At the moment the people with the loudest megaphone are winning.


Australia's conservatives looking to Asia to build new coal-fired power station in north

The Turnbull government has opened talks with Asian investors to build a coal-fired power station backed by its $5 billion northern Australia fund, as half the nation’s voters endorse the use of taxpayer funds to develop the project and improve energy security.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan is fast-tracking the plan amid a growing fight with Labor and the Greens over support for coal power, as cabinet ministers prepare to decide how to encourage big investors into the market.

Senator Canavan told The Australian there was a “high ­degree of interest” from Asia helping to develop the new power station in northern Queensland, arguing that finance from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund would be needed to give the project long-term certainty.

A special Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, ­reveals that 47 per cent of voters favour the use of federal government funds to help construct a new coal-fired power station to improve energy security, while 40 per cent are opposed and 13 per cent undecided.

Amid a push by environmental groups to block new coalmines and coal-fired power stations, the national survey finds that 35 per cent of Labor voters and 15 per cent of Greens voters support using public funds to ­develop more coal-fired power.

It also shows that 59 per cent of Coalition voters favour public ­financial support for the new power station, lending weight to Malcolm Turnbull’s declaration that coal must be one of the options in a “technology neutral” approach to fixing energy ­security.

The findings come as the Prime Minister and Scott Morrison crack down on electricity ­retailers in a new move to act on fears about rising prices, ordering the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to review the sector in order to get a better deal for consumers.

The Prime Minister and Treasurer will announce today that their response to the ACCC’s ­review will consider new measures to improve “reliability, security and pricing” across the sector.

As the imminent close of the ageing Hazelwood power station reignites debate about electricity shortages and price spikes, Labor climate change spokesman Mark Butler has declared there is no support from industry to build new coal-fired power stations in Australia.

The Australian Energy ­Council, which represents companies supplying electricity to 10 million homes, warns it has become “very difficult” to finance coal-fired power stations when investors are ramping up wind and solar projects as well as gas generators that provide baseload power with lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal.

But the government is determined to keep the coal proposal on the agenda by raising the prospect of funding from the northern Australia fund, which is also a potential source of support for the controversial coalmine planned for central Queensland by Indian company Adani.

Senator Canavan said there was “no doubt” of the rudimentary economic and commercial case for a coal-fired power station in northern Queensland but that the government’s challenge was to set the energy market rules to offer certainty.

“There’s clearly a risk of government policy changes in this area, and I think that’s a risk that’s been created by the Labor-Green(s) movement,” he said.

“Until last year there was bipartisan support for the future of coal in Australia but it was last year when Labor supported the Senate inquiry that said we should shut down all coal-fired power stations in Australia. That wasn’t the position of Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard.

“The decision by Labor and the Greens to move to the radical fringes of our energy debate and turn their back completely on coal, on our second-biggest export, has introduced an element of risk to potential new coal-fired power stations.

“It’s now a sovereign risk and the only people who can get rid of sovereign risks are the sovereigns.”

A Senate inquiry led by a Labor and Greens majority last year argued for an “orderly retirement” of the nation’s coal-fired power stations but the government believes there is strong support in northern Queensland for a new coal project at a time of rising electricity prices.

Senator Canavan is examining options for a new power station near the Adani coalmine in the Galilee Basin, in Collinsville, to add to an existing power station or in Gladstone near an existing power station and taking advantage of transmission lines that are already in place.

The Resources Minister, who is also the Minister for Northern Australia and oversees the infrastructure fund, rejected suggestions that the help for a coal-fired power station would be a “subsidy” that meddled with the market.

“I wouldn’t characterise it as a subsidy, it’s an investment. Governments for decades have invested in energy infrastructure; all the energy infrastructure in Queensland is owned by the state government,’’ Senator Canavan said.

“It’s not unusual and generally those investments have paid off very well. I think most Australians see the central role of government as being investing in infrastructure — roads, rail and energy.”

Senator Canavan said the investment would be comparable to Mr Turnbull’s decision 10 days ago to offer government support for a $2bn expansion of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme.

The energy security committee of cabinet is waiting on a report into the electricity market from Chief Scientist Alan Finkel before deciding any changes to the sector, with energy security expected to gain a priority so that baseload power generators — including coal-fired ones — are assured a long-term return.

Senator Canavan is talking to Japanese companies that believe they could transfer their “high efficiency, low emissions” technology to the northern Queensland project.

Mr Butler is warning against the use of taxpayer funds for the rail line to the Adani mine or a new power station, claiming the long-term future for coal is one of decline.

“This is something the coal industry needs to deal with. We’ve said as a federal Labor Party we will not support taxpayers’ money going in to support infrastructure or pay for infrastructure around this (Adani) mine,” he said last week.


Pauline Hanson threatens to halt government's agenda over Queensland sugar dispute

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is threatening to hold the government's $50 billion corporate tax cut plan to ransom, saying her party will withhold their crucial Senate crossbench votes until the Queensland sugar dispute is resolved.

The challenge in the final sitting week before the budget follows Monday's Fairfax-Ipsos poll showing 44 per cent support for the tax cuts, a 10-year plan to reduce the big business tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent by 2026-27.

One Nation senators won't vote on government legislation until the Queensland sugar dispute is sorted out.

The plan was a centrepiece of Coalition's 2016 budget and re-election campaign.

Senator Hanson restated her threat on Monday to not vote for any legislation before Parliament until the government resolved a three-year crisis over sugarcane supply contracts in Queensland's Burdekin region, south of Townsville.

The Singapore-owned conglomerate Wilmar, which bought CSR Sugar's mills six years ago, is seeking control over marketing as well as milling, while growers want flexibility to use a single-desk system.

Until an agreement is reached, sugarcane growers have been unable to secure a price ahead of the June harvest.

The One Nation leader has previously ruled out doing deals to progress or block government legislation, including the reintroduction of the building industry watchdog.

The government had been expected to secure support for a cut for companies with a turnover of up to $10 million from One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team, while other Senate crossbenchers have indicated they could move up to $50 million.

The Fairfax-Ipsos poll found 39 per cent opposition to the plan.

Labor will back a cut only for companies with a turnover of up to $2 million, while the Greens do not support the lowering of the rate from 30 to 27.5 per cent.

One Nation's growing influence has put Coalition MPs, including local Liberal-National backbencher George Christensen, under pressure.

Senator Hanson blamed the ongoing stalemate on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his deputy and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

She told the Seven Network on Monday the situation was a headache in north Queensland, where growers had "their backs to the wall".

"This has been going on for nearly two years now, especially since the end of last year, Barnaby Joyce promised the cane growers it will be fixed by Christmas last year and nothing has been done," she said.

She said Mr Joyce was "crazy as bat-poo" for not standing up for growers, echoing his criticism of Senator Hanson's comments calling for a Muslim immigration ban.

Fellow Queensland One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts will join his leader in the planned blockade.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said work was ongoing, including with industry and the state government. "I don't think Australians expect their parliamentarians to go on strike. I think they expect them to turn up to work and do the job," Mr Morrison told ABC radio.

Mr Morrison said One Nation was "a bit behind the play" on the dispute. He expected a draft agreement to be reached as soon as Monday.


Cafe slammed on social media for serving up 'racist' burger named 'Uncle Tom' - but owners say they did not know it was offensive

American sensitivities are often little known abroad

A newly opened cafe is at the centre of a racism row over the naming of a burger. Master Toms, in Brisbane's city centre, only flung open its doors less than four months ago but it has already found itself embroiled in accusations of racism, 9News reported.

The cafe has named one of its burgers Uncle Tom, which is also a derogatory term describing a black person who is considered to be excessively obedient to a white person. The name first came to prominence in the novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, in the mid-1800s. The novel, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, details the suffering of African-American slaves.

Customer Jonathan Butler-White, who noticed the name when he dropped by the cafe recently, said he felt a 'mix of disappointment and anger'.

'I think it's concerning but I don't think it's surprising,' he said.  'I did leave straight away.'

Mr Butler-White then made his feelings known to the cafe through social media who told him they were 'completely unaware' of the name's historical meaning.

Master Tom's manager Eduardo Cantarelli vowed to change the burger's name and update the menu.

'We really want to change that because that's not good for us, it's not good for the business,' Mr Cantarelli said.


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

27 March, 2017

Non-mothers: Why you should pay for my daughter’s future

Because she will pay for your old age.  News item:

"Don’t be surprised if the government’s childcare package provides a boost for the Turnbull government — and unlike the artificial boost of last week’s Snowy Hydro silliness, this one is fairly earnt. The government has implemented, in broad, the recommendations of the Productivity Commission in the critical area of childcare and early childhood learning, and in doing so will make the childcare subsidy system more effectively targeted and more progressive, while also supporting female workforce participation. And it’s fully funded by savings elsewhere."

It was after a dinner with some very close, old friends of mine that I understood the gap that can exist between those who have children, and those who don’t.   

Shevonne Hunt with her future taxpayers. (Pic: Toby Zerna/News Corp)
Somehow we ended up on the topic of paid parental leave, and my friend (who doesn’t have children) said, with a distinct tone of disgust in her voice, that a colleague at work was “rorting” the system. She was, my friend said, “double dipping”.

This is a friend of mine who I consider to be well-educated and informed. Not a person who would swallow political rhetoric without question.

As I felt the blood boiling in my veins, taking deep breaths, she followed this up with, “if you can’t afford to have children, you shouldn’t have them.”

The Government has been trying to get its Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill and its Jobs for Families Childcare Package through parliament for some time now. It’s being debated right now. But it’s when this kind of debate is back in the headlines that people without children either get angry, or they tune out.

They get angry, because they don’t see why their taxes should go to supporting adults who have children (why should they be penalised for not having children?) or they turn off because it has nothing to do with them.

While I am not Peter Costello, who back in 2006 said: “I encourage people who can, if you have the opportunity, if you’re young enough, to have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country,” I do believe that supporting families is fundamental to the wellbeing of our whole community.

Firstly, let’s look at Paid Parental Leave.

Without going in to too much detail about so-called “double dipping” — the reason it was first designed by the Labor Government (yes, designed — you were meant to have two bites at the pie if you could get it) was the overwhelming evidence that supporting mothers in the first six months of a child’s life contributes to society by having healthy mums and thriving babies (and reducing the burden on welfare and the medical system if they are not healthy and thriving).

It was also economically driven, by ensuring that mothers return to the workforce. A 2014 review of Paid Parental Leave found that more women returned to work one year after having their child because of the scheme.

Once you get mothers back to work, someone needs to look after the children. And given that the first five years of a child’s life is when most of their brain development takes place, you want that childcare to be quality, and accessible for all parents.

It’s also a very effective way of reducing disadvantage.

But, non-parentals could argue, Paid Parental Leave and Child Care are only needed if you have kids. So if you can’t afford them, don’t have them.

Peter Costello, regardless of what you think of his politics, was no dummy. He knew the value in having children. Children, if you raise them well (i.e. from birth by supporting parents, and in early life, through quality early learning) will become the future tax payers of Australia.

Yes, non parentals, our children will be contributing to your pension, your retirement home. A PWC report released in 2015 found that the benefits to GDP from children participating in quality early learning stood at more than $10 billion cumulative to 2050.

They will also be the future problem solvers. The ones that will have to clean up the climate mess we are currently leaving. The ones who will be untangling the political decisions our leaders are making now. They will be the ones supporting our ageing population.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, by 2050 around one quarter of all Australians will be aged 65 years and over. And in the next ten years it is estimated that people over 65 will overtake the number of children up to 14 years age.

My children are going to be shouldering a big load. And if you pay a little now, they’ll be better equipped at helping us all later.

And that’s why you should be paying for my daughter’s future — because it’s your future as well.


Cancer of political correctness corrodes society’s very fabric

By PETER BALDWIN (Baldwin was an active member of the Labor Party's Left in the '70s and is most famous for having been bashed up by what was probably someone acting on behalf of the Right faction.  Like many before him, however, he seems to have drifted Rightwards over the years.  He speaks good sense below)

Peter after the bashing

I consider the mindset we have come to refer to as political correctness to be a cancer, an ideological malignancy afflicting the Western world that chills speech, wantonly and unjustly destroys the lives and reputations of decent people, and seriously compromises our ability to hold open and honest debates about some of the most important issues that face our societies.

Defenders of PC see it as essentially benign, except in maybe a few extreme cases. All it does, they say, is urge us to avoid racist, sexist and homophobic abuse, just institutionalized politeness really.

The great tragedy is that modern PC ideology is a ghastly mutation of earlier movements that embodied these very sentiments: the civil rights movement to end racial discrimination, earlier waves of feminism that demanded equality of opportunity for women, the campaigns to end legal discrimination against homosexuals.

The defining feature of these earlier campaigns was a vision of a common humanity, not a world where people are seen, first and foremost, as members of one or other identity group category.

On the former view human beings, irrespective of such distinctions, were united by their possession of rationality, agency, and the right to exercise them irrespective of the cultural milieu into which they were born. They were held to have the right to critically evaluate, and indeed reject, aspects of their native culture, including religion.

Racial distinctions were viewed as trivial surface manifestations of minor genetic differences, something we should aim to transcend, a view encapsulated beautifully by Martin Luther King in his great 1963 civil rights speech.

Nowadays the Left is obsessed about race and determined to perpetuate racial distinctions. To say “there is only one race, the human race” or to say “all lives matter” are now serious affronts. Statements of viewpoint have to be prefaced by phrases like “as a woman” or “as a trans person” or “as a Muslim”.

Instead of the words of the old civil rights song “black and white together” there is the systematic demonization of something they call “whiteness”, invariably associated with privilege irrespective of individual circumstances.

We are seeing new segregationist movements, Black Lives Matter rallies where white supporters are told in no uncertain terms to hold their tongues and get to the back. There are calls for segregated college dormitories, separate spaces for minority races. In Britain there are gender-segregated Labour Party meetings in the Midlands — with women at the back. Modern progressives seem comfortable with all this.

In former times leftists, with the admittedly important exception of apologists for communist totalitarianism, used to champion free speech and campaign against censorship. The seminal moment in the emergence of the American New Left was the free speech movement at the University of California, Berkeley in the early sixties.

What an awful contrast to the events at this same institution a few weeks ago where masked, black-clad thugs attacked a scheduled event with Molotov cocktails, fireworks and metal poles, bashing attendees in some cases to the point of unconsciousness as police stood by passively.

These thugs style themselves as anti-fascists while employing classic fascist tactics from 1930s Europe. Scenes like this: peaceful, lawful assemblies being violently attacked, are an increasingly frequent occurrence all over the Western world, including here in Melbourne, and the perpetrators are overwhelmingly from the Left.

So if political correctness is not just about being nice and polite, what is it?

I think it is best described as an attempt to impose a comprehensive set of constraints on what can be said or debated, publicly or even privately, whenever such speech conflicts with the current version of the ever-changing identity politics ideology. It is the compliance and enforcement arm of this ideology.

John Stuart Mill’s dictum that “he who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that” is out the window. Instead of responding to disagreeable views with counter-arguments, the characteristic PC response is to say “I am offended by what you said, and you should not be allowed to say it and furthermore the fact you even say such things marks you as a bad person”.

It deploys a growing array of curse words — racist, sexist, fascist, far-right, homophobe, transphobe, Islamophobe, genocide-apologist — to delegitimise speech and to peremptorily declare certain viewpoints beyond the pale, not to be even heard or debated.

These curse-words are deployed with great abandon, irrespective whether they are even remotely justified. I experienced this personally in early 2015 when a public meeting held at Sydney University that was to hear a speaker known to be defensive of Israel was wrecked by thugs who forced their way in and shouted down the speaker with chants of “Richard Kemp, you can’t hide, you defend genocide”.

The speaker, Richard Kemp, a former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan who was in Israel during the Gaza conflict, was accused of defending genocide, a completely absurd allegation.

The only entities in the region that would commit genocide given the chance are the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, which openly look forward to the day when the world’s Jews can be exterminated — Hamas has it in Article 7 of their founding charter.

But in the minds of the disrupters Kemp is a genocide defender, his views beyond the pale and forceful action to stop him speaking is justified. Senior academics, including the head of the Peace and Conflict Studies Centre, endorsed this nonsense.

When it looked like the university administrators might act against the perpetrators, arts faculty staff went into a defensive frenzy. An international petition was raised, and in a truly Orwellian touch the disruption was presented as a legitimate exercise of free speech and academic freedom rather than its suppression.

I have described political correctness as the compliance and enforcement arm of identity politics, policing the boundaries of what can be said and debated when questions of identity are involved.

So how does these strictures enforced? I have mentioned some of the weapons in the PC arsenal — violence, no platforming, disruption of events.

All very unpleasant — and becoming more so. There are even reports that in America some groups are forming “fight clubs” to better prepare themselves for violent action. These are the brown-shirts of political correctness, though sartorially they seem to prefer black.

This is the overtly violent end of the spectrum. But ostensibly softer measures like ostracism and vilification through social media can be stunningly effective, and far more damaging to the target.

Take the case of a 72 year-old British biochemist by the name of Tim Hunt, or Sir Tim Hunt to give him his full title. He sat at the pinnacle of the British scientific establishment. A professor at University College London, Fellow of the Royal Society and recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize for medicine, awards and honours galore. Absolutely secure in his position, you might think.

Well think again. In June 2015 he spoke at the opening of a conference of women science journalists in Seoul, South Korea and in the course of his remarks he made what was clearly a self-deprecatory joke about attitudes to women scientists of old codgers like him.

He immediately followed this by saying:

“Now seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt, an important role in it. Science needs women and you should do science despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me.”

Almost immediately a huge global twitterstorm, the modern equivalent of a medieval witch hunt, erupted based on a version of Hunt’s comments that omitted the paragraph I just read. Literally as Hunt was flying back to London, his career was destroyed.

His wife was summoned to University College before his plane landed and told Hunt must resign immediately or be sacked. The Royal Society disowned him. He was forced to step down from the European Research Council, which he was instrumental in founding.

His reputation and career, a lifetime’s contribution to science and medicine, trashed over a misreport of a triviality. Only later was an accurate transcript released, but it was too late. UCL refused to reappoint him and he now works in Japan. This despite a string of young women scientists coming forward to vouch for his mentorship and support from eight other Nobel laureates, and despite his abject apologies.

The furies of political correctness had been aroused. Hunt had been designated a sexist, one of the most lethal curses, and there was no way back. The sheer malignant cruelty of this is astounding, the obscene denunciations he was subjected to in both social and traditional media truly appalling.

But how about this for a contrast. A couple of weeks ago Professor Jonathan C. Brown, Chair of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington gave a lecture on slavery and Islam in which he said “it’s not immoral for one human to own another human” and that “consent isn’t necessary for lawful sex”, especially in the case of sex slaves since they do not possess agency. He dismissed consent as a modern Western obsession.

Surely the furies of political correctness would have erupted at this, Twitter should have gone into meltdown, you would think? Well, no — the furies were silent. You see Brown, a convert to Islam, had the ultimate protective blanket of identity politics — culture, and the demand it be respected. Can you imagine if a Catholic priest said anything like that?

In any “clash of correctness” cultural respect, it seems, is trumps. In the face of it older concerns, like women’s rights and basic humanitarianism just fall away. Recall how Germaine Greer denounced efforts to stamp out female genital mutilation as “culturally arrogant”.

I have mentioned violence, no platforming and campaigns of social ostracism. I will now briefly touch on what happens when these are bolstered by legal constraints like those imposed by our Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

There is not time for me to say much about this, but I would ask you to consider the fate of the student respondents in the recent QUT case, young people on the cusp of their working lives.

Take the case of Alex Wood, at the time an engineering student, who after being evicted from an indigenous-only computer room, posted these words on Facebook:

“QUT stopping segregation with segregation”

A quite reasonable observation, I would say and as a federal judge confirmed, but in any case surely a legitimate expression of opinion. For this high crime he has had to endure years of stress, a farcical conciliation conference of which he had three days’ notice, followed by a court case.

Defenders of 18C say ultimately the system worked, since the Federal Circuit Court threw it out as being of no merit. Woods “won”, though what a pyrrhic victory it was.

He now faces reportedly $100,000 in litigation costs, as well as the damage of having an accusation of racism splattered all over the web. He would have been far better off to have just forked out the $5000 go-away money initially demanded and preserved his anonymity.

Another of the students, Calum Thwaites, dragged into protracted proceedings over a Facebook post he demonstrably did not make, has had to abandon his aspiration to teach in remote Australia. Who would employ a “racist” in that capacity?

All this because whoever handled the matter in the Commission failed to exercise the common-sense option of terminating the case as lacking in substance. I submit that any legislative scheme that can produce this sort of outcome is severely deficient.

My conclusion then is that political correctness is a major detriment to our society. It makes frank and honest debate about any issue where the prerogatives of culture come into play extremely difficult. The Bill Leak cartoon controversy highlighted one such, the debate over the role of traditional culture in perpetuating indigenous disadvantage.

Another matter where some hard questions need to be asked concerns the increasing salience of Islam in our society. How to avoid the disastrous situation that we see in some European countries with the emergence of enclaves like the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek that incubated the Paris and Brussels terrorist atrocities?

How to preserve our Enlightenment heritage, which includes the right to freely critique religion? I find it incredibly disturbing that high profile critics of Islam are routinely subjected to death threats. This applies especially to those who defect from the creed, labelled apostates, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maryam Namazie of the Council of British Ex-Muslims.

As well as death threats, they are vilified by the PC brigade and subjected to no-platforming and sometimes violent disruptions of events where they speak. Incredibly, these disruptions almost invariably have the support of progressives, including feminist and LGBT groups crying about “Islamophobia”, an ill-defined term now routinely and absurdly conflated with racism.

How striking, this new found deference to religion — or one religion in particular — from a movement that used to champion secularism.

Tough questions, these, but if our society is to have a decent future they must be addressed.


Australia is world’s most successful immigrant nation

I think I can build a case to say that Australia is the most successful immigrant nation on Earth. The global community comprises 195 sovereign nations, 90 of which have what I would call a critical mass of 10 million or more residents. The UN tracks the propor­tion of each nation’s resident population born abroad.

In Australia’s case, that propor­tion is 28 per cent: almost seven million out of 24 million Australians were born overseas. Add in Aussies born here but who had one parent born overseas and that proportion tops 40 per cent.

These figures speak to a fundamental truth about the Australian people and nation. There is no other equivalent nation (meaning with a critical mass of population) that has been as generous in ­absorbing migrants.

The only nation with a higher proportion is Saudi Arabia, where 10 million residents out of 32 million, or 32 per cent, were born abroad. But Saudi Arabia’s foreign-born residents are guest workers who do not have the same sovereign rights as migrants.

Australia’s migrant proportion stands clear of peer nations: in Canada, it is 22 per cent; in Kazakhstan, 20 per cent; in Germany, 15 per cent; in the US, 14 per cent; in Britain, 13 per cent.

Our immigration story isn’t our generation’s success: it has been built up, layer upon layer, over 200 years, often spurred by calamity abroad such as the Irish Potato Famine and the desire to escape post-war Europe. There have also been lures such as the gold rush and various economic booms.

Typically, migrants enter Australia via the capital cities of Sydney­ and Melbourne, and cluster­ within enclaves formed by tribal and familial bonds. But there is also a practicality to clustering in the cities of the New World, such as Melbourne and New York: it supports an ethnicity’s schools, churches, shops and language.

The Italians commandeered Melbourne’s Carlton in the 1960s as the Greeks gravitated to Sydney­’s Marrickville. A century earlier, the poor Irish huddled in Melbourne’s North Melbourne or in the mean streets of Collingwood. The Vietnamese now “own’’ Sydney’s Cabramatta and the ­Arabic-speaking community clusters in Sydney’s Lakemba.

By the second generation, the Australian experience is that the migrant community bleeds and blends into the greater urban mass. Carlton’s Italians were building trophy properties in places­ such as aspirational Keilor and Fawkner by the 1980s and their Aussie-born children were part of the regeneration of the inner city. The Greeks and Italians had been absorbed into, but were also profoundly changing, Australian culture, which morphed into a Mediterranean-Anglo fusion.

We shifted our palate from tea to coffee and started kissing each other on the cheek in an oh-so-sophisticated continental way. But then you’d expect that from the most successful, most accommodating migrant nation on Earth. It’s not about “us’’ converting “them’’ to our culture; it’s about both cultures growing together over time, fusing in a very Australian way, where we take bits of each culture and create something that suits our values.

Horsham, in western Victoria’s Wimmera, is home to 20,000 people­. As whitebread a community as you could get, some would say. And yet 10 per cent of Horsham’s population was born overseas. Go to Pittsbugh (population 2.4 million) in the US and it is 4 per cent. Horsham by comparison is positively cosmopolitan.

At the last census, 42 per cent of urban Sydney’s population was born overseas. This proportion for New York, the great melting pot, is 29 per cent; for Paris, is 22 per cent; for Berlin, 13 per cent; for Tokyo, 2 per cent, for Shanghai, 1 per cent. Australia stands apart. Sydney stands apart. We are different.

This does not mean there are no ethnicity-based tensions in Australia, or that there won’t be tensions in the future or abhorrent acts of racism. What it does mean is that this nation should be proud of the fact that we have achieved something that no other nation has achieved or attempted. And that is the delivery of sustained economic prosperity combined with a generous immigration program­ over generations.


Australia's population soars past 24 MILLION as net immigration hits 200,000 a year - putting huge pressure on schools, hospitals and housing

Australia's population has soared past 24million as hundreds of thousands of immigrants flocked to the country.

New official figures show that population increased by nearly 350,000 in the year up to September 2016, hitting 24.2million.

Net immigration - the number of people entering Australia minus the number of people leaving - hit 200,000, the highest in four years.

The huge surge in population will put further pressure on already-stretched public services such as schools, hospitals and housing, economists warned.

The figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the population rose 348,700 from September 2015 to September 2016.

Rob Tyson, an economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), told The Australian: 'Such growth means we need five new hospitals, 31 new schools and 35 new childcare centres every three months.'

The biggest increases were in Victoria and New South Wales, with respective population rises of 127,500 (2.1 per cent) and 109,600 (1.4 per cent).

Mr Tyson said that was the equivalent of adding a city larger than Ballarat or Bendigo to Victoria every year.

He added that cities such as Melbourne and Sydney were already facing 'strongly and persistently rising house prices, more congestion and strained infrastructure' before the population boom.

A total of 7.75million people now live in New South Wales, whereas 6.1million live in Victoria.

There was a 1.4 per cent rise in population in Queensland as the total number of people rose 67,700 to 4.8million.

A similar rise of 1.5 per cent in Australian Capital Territory left the area's population just shy of 400,000.

Population growth was far slower across the rest of Australia, with a one per cent increase in Western Australia.

An extra 9,400 (0.6 per cent) people now live in South Australia, while population increased by just 2,600 (0.5 per cent) in Tasmania.

Just 800 more people lived in the Northern Territory in September 2016 than a year earlier.

The new figures come just days after it was revealed that Sydney house prices have skyrocketed by 70 per cent over five years, while wages rose just 13 per cent - making it even harder for first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder.

The official numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show house prices rose 6.1 per cent in Sydney in the three months to the end of December 2016. 

The high price growth in Sydney and Melbourne (six per cent) dragged property prices around the country higher. Property prices nationally went up 4.1 per cent in the December quarter - the strongest growth since June 2015.

The residential property price index in Sydney rose 5.2 per cent in the same quarter, and 5.3 per cent in Melbourne.

Melbourne had the largest annual growth of all capital cities at 10.8 per cent, followed by Sydney at 10.3 per cent.

The mean property price nationally is now $656,800. New South Wales has by far the highest mean property price at $864,900, followed by Victoria at $690,100. In the ACT that figure is $642,900.

Meanwhile, wages growth remains at record lows, making it even harder for first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder.


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

26 March, 2017

Law Council Opening Statement on Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2017

The council opposes changes to 18C on the grounds that judges have generally  treated free speech with due respect in cases brought before them.  That ignores the cases where judges have NOT respected free speech -- as in the Andrew Bolt case.  It also ignores the fact that  the very act of of prosecution can be very oppressive and expensive.  Many such cases should not have been brought in the first place

Opening statement by Fiona McLeod SC, President of the Law Council of the Australia, Canberra, 24 March 2017:

I thank the Committee for the opportunity to appear before you today as part of this inquiry into the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2017.

The Bill would amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and the complaints handling processes of the Australian Human Rights Commission under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth). In particular, it would redefine conducted prohibited by section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The conduct defined to encompass the notion of racial vilification is proposed to be amended by removing the words ‘offend, insult, humiliate’ from paragraph 18C(1)(a) and replacing them with ‘harass’.

The Bill would also introduce the ‘the reasonable member of the Australian community’ as the objective standard by which contravention of section 18C should be judged, rather than by the standard of a hypothetical representative member of a particular group.

Further, the Bill will amend the Australian Human Rights Commission Act to ensure that unmeritorious complaints are discouraged or dismissed at each stage of the complaints handling process, from lodgement to inquiry to proceeding to the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court.

The Law Council maintains the view, first expressed in submissions in 2014, that section 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act, as interpreted by the Courts, strike an appropriate balance between freedom of expression and protection from racial vilification, and should not be amended

We are guided by the objects of the Act and the judicial interpretation of the meaning of the provisions in case law.

Part IIA, including section 18C and D, give effect to important international obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1969 that commits all State Parties to:

Prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, to personal security, and to all  civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The Law Council supports a proportionality approach in recognising both the right to freedom from racial discrimination and vilification, and the right to freedom of speech and expression.

The Act, as it stands, achieves this according to the case law. As Allsop J (as His Honour the Chief Justice then was) remarked in Toben v Jones (2003) 129 FCR 515 at [129], Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act provides for the balancing of free speech with ”legal protection to victims of racist behaviour”, ”the strengthening of social cohesion and preventing the undermining of tolerance in the Australian community” and the “removal of fear because of race, colour, national or ethnic origin”.

The Courts have construed the provisions in a conservative manner to the protection of the important right to freedom of speech and expression, and have found contraventions of section 18C only in cases of “profound and serious effects”, and not in cases involving “mere slights” (per Justice Keifel , as Her Honour the Chief Justice then was).

The Law Council considers that the exemptions in section 18D have provided important and effective safeguards for justified freedom of expression consistently with such protections which exist elsewhere in the law.

The Law Council has previously submitted that any amendment to, let alone repeal of any of the provisions of Pt IIA (ss 18B to 18D) should be preceded by a rigorous and comprehensive review of their operation.[1] In relation to the exposure draft of the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of s.18C) Bill 2014, the Law Council noted that it was not aware of any evidence that the existing provisions have had or are having anything in the nature of a “chilling effect” on freedom of speech or freedom of expression in Australia.[2]

This remains the case

In weighing amendment to any of the language of the currently enacted text of sections 18C to 18D, the Committee should consider the impact of the provisions on the enjoyment of human rights, both in terms of the promotion of, as well as interference in the enjoyment of human rights.

In this context, the Law Council notes the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 which is currently before the Committee for inquiry and report.

While the Law Council does not consider that the case for change has been made, if Parliament is minded to make amendments to sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act, the current Bill is problematic in a number of respects.

For example, omitting the words ‘offend, insult, and humiliate’ and replacing them with ‘harass’ assumes a direct personal relationship. It may have the effect of carving out media or publications where the author has no person in mind to ‘harass.’ The ultimate effect may be to limit the scope of the provision to interpersonal interaction.

Further, it is unclear what meaning should be given to the term ‘harass’ In the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA), for example, racial harassment can include threating, abusing, insulting, or taunting another person.[3] Accepting that the Western Australian definition is a statutory definition, and that ‘harass’ is not otherwise defined in the proposed amendments, it may be that ‘harass’ covers conduct that was intended to be removed from section 18C.

A number of other options have been canvassed, including by Justice Sackville who has proposed to omit the current words in the Racial Discrimination Act ‘offend, insult, and humiliate’ and replace them with ‘degrade, intimidate or incite hatred or contempt’.

Another option would be to retain the more demanding but divisive term ‘humiliate’ so that the current formulation in the Act would be replaced with ‘humiliate, intimidate or incite hatred or contempt’ rather than to adopt the term ‘degrade’.

Whatever words are ultimately adopted by Parliament, they should be consistent with the prevention of harm and social cohesion objects of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Another difficulty arises in relation to the proposed ‘standards of a reasonable member of the Australian community’ test. This is rather vague. The ‘Australian community’ is a fluid and changeable concept.

Despite these difficulties in the Bill, there are some improvements. Proposed subsection 18C(2B), which clarifies the definition of an ‘act’ for the purposes of section 18C, is welcome to ensure that the unlawful conduct can be as a result of a single unlawful act.  This should be retained, if Parliament wishes to proceed with the Bill.

To the extent that the amendments tighten up the complaint handling process of the Australian Human Rights Commission and ensure complaints are dealt with fairly and expeditiously in the circumstances, the Law Council supports them subject to some technical amendments to the Bill.

Again, I thank the Committee for the opportunity to appear before you today and we are happy to answer any questions you may have where we are able to do so.

Media release

More multiculturalism in Melbourne

One reason why bystanders did not intervene would be the inevitable accusations of racism they would have copped.  Blacks are untouchable in Victoria

Video of a young [black] woman handing out a vicious beatdown to another girl at a Melbourne train station has viewers scratching their heads at the indifference of commuters who witnessed the attack.

The footage, posted to Facebook on Thursday by prominent Melbourne gym-owner Avi Yemeni, shows the apparent victim being punched and stomped in what Mr Yemeni has characterised as a "racist attack".

The pink-shirted girl tries in vain to protect herself as her attacker repeatedly punches her in the head before putting the boot in several times before another girl pulls her away.

The victim is left slumped against a pole, with nothing more than a few glances cast in her direction by passersby.

Mr Yemeni, who says the footage was passed onto him by a witness, wrote that "this was an unprovoked and racially-motivated attack. The 'dark-skinned' girl was allegedly screaming racial abuse at the victim before launching into this horrific attack. Most liveable city my ass."

Mr Yemeni, a former Israeli soldier who now runs Krav Maga classes in Melbourne, signed off on the video, which he has watermarked with his name, by saying that premier "Daniel Andrews is failing us." has contacted Mr Yemeni and Victoria Police for comment. Staff at Sunshine station say they have no knowledge of the attack.


Senator to introduce legislation to force ABC to reinstate shortwave radio service

Because of its widespread availability, Radio Australia has been great PR for the country.  It has spread Australian voices far and wide.  If the ABC wants to cut costs, let them cut their sprawling bureaucracy.  Where is the National Party on this?

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon says he will introduce legislation to Parliament to force the ABC to reinstate its shortwave radio service, which ended today.

The ABC announced in December that it would switch off its shortwave transmission to remote parts of northern Australia and across the Pacific.

Mr Xenophon said his introduction of legislation next week was not the ideal way to handle the issue, but something had to be done.  "This is a pretty messy way of doing it — putting up a bill — but it will force the ABC management to account," he said.

"If it means part of the solution is trying to squeeze more money out of the Government, then so be it."

Mr Xenophon said he believed the ABC had underestimated the impact of its decision.

"The fact is this will affect thousands of Australians who are in remote areas, but it seems it will affect many tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people who are regular Radio Australia listeners throughout the region," Mr Xenophon told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.

"This is an essential service not just for the bush in Australia but for the region. I hope I can get bipartisan support to reverse this decision."

The ABC said shortwave technology was out of date and it would save $1.9 million by cutting the service, which it said would be reinvested in expanding content and services.

The national broadcaster said in a statement there would be a transition program and it "has offered comprehensive advice on how to best access emergency information, ABC News and entertainment".

"The ABC will assist with the transition to new technologies … as well as the use of modern and reliable devices such as emergency GPS beacons and affordable satellite telephones," the statement said.

Pastoralists, fishermen among those angered by decision

But the decision has prompted widespread criticism from federal and Northern Territory MPs, pastoralists, fishermen and tour operators, as well as from communities across the Pacific.

"This is shocking news, totally shocking news," said Francesca Semoso, Deputy Speaker of Bougainville's Parliament in Papua New Guinea.

The ABC's decision to end Radio Australia's shortwave service has raised questions about who will fill the void.

"The reason being that wherever you go — if you are up on the rooftop of your house, if you are up in the mountains in Bougainville, if you are down in the valleys, in the Pacific islands in Papua New Guinea, in Bougainville — the only medium that can reach me at that location is shortwave."

Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association chief executive Tracey Hayes said the move would have a profound impact on the wellbeing of isolated workers and families.

"There will be just silence in the vehicle and they would have had no contact with the outside world," she said.

"I can't imagine what it is going to be like for people who are being put in that position."

Northern Territory MP Gerry McCarthy said he had invited ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to his remote electorate to listen to people affected by the decision.  "Come to the Northern Territory for a start, consult with the people that are affected, real Australians out there in remote areas," he said.

"Also we've offered the help and support of the [Northern Territory] Department of Housing and Community Development to go and do some serious analysis about who are the users of shortwave."

ABC Radio will continue to broadcast across the Northern Territory on FM and AM bands, via the viewer access satellite television (VAST) service, streaming online and via the smartphone app.



Three current reports below

Another sawmill becomes a victim of Greenie policies

Victoria's Heyfield timber mill, Australia's largest hardwood mill, will close in 2018 -- which will close down the whole town around it. Heyfield is totally dependent on the mill. It will become a ghost town, greatly disrupting the lives of most people in the town

Victoria's Heyfield timber mill is to close, putting 250 people out of work, after the owners rejected a government lifeline.

Australian Sustainable Hardwood chief executive Vince Hurley says the Gippsland-based mill will close in September 2018 after the state government cut its timber supply.

The mill, Australia's largest hardwood mill, is now looking to relocate to northwestern Tasmania to process plantation hardwood, he told AAP.

The company rejected Victoria's offer of a three-year contract of one year's timber supply at 80,000 cubic metres and two years at 60,000 cubic metres as well as a $4.75 million, three-year operational subsidy.

ASH maintains it needs at least 130,000 cubic metres of saw logs a year to continue operations - a number the government says is not environmentally sustainable.

Premier Daniel Andrews offered to buy the mill if ASH didn't want to run it any longer because he said the business had a strong future.

Mr Andrews said the government would offer a reasonable price if another buyer could not be found. "This is a fair offer and a reasonable offer as we have had a look at the books of the company and we believe it is viable even at those lower volumes," he told ABC radio.

But Mr Hurley says ASH hadn't heard of the offer until the premier's statement was released on Friday morning and is "disgusted" staff had to find out through the media. "We were expecting the premier to honour a commitment that things should have been heard from us first," he said.

If the government did buy the mill, it would have to substantially change operations to be viable on just 60,000 cubic metres of logs, Mr Hurley said. "Not only would you have to buy it, you would have to refit it. It would be a huge risk," he said.

The company is backing a CFMEU and Committee for Gippsland campaign to get the government to change its mind about timber supply. The CFMEU says it does not accept VicForest's decision on the availability of wood.

Nationals leader Peter Walsh said there was enough supply to give ASH the timber it wants and he doubted the government's ability to buy the mill.

"As I understand it the mill's not necessarily for sale and it doesn't matter who owns the mill, it still needs timber," he told reporters.

ASH says it will now restart negotiations with the Tasmanian government about moving the mill to the island state.


Two quit Australian climate authority blaming government 'extremists'

Quiggin is a big-mouth Leftist from way back

Two members of the Climate Change Authority have resigned, with one accusing the government of being beholden to rightwing, anti-science “extremists” in its own party and in the media.

John Quiggin told Guardian Australia he informed the federal minister for environment and energy, Josh Frydenberg, of his resignation on Thursday. It follows the resignation of fellow climate change authority member, Danny Price, who quit on Tuesday.

“The government’s refusal to accept the advice of its own authority, despite wide support for that advice from business, environmental groups and the community as a whole, reflects the comprehensive failure of its policies on energy and the environment,” Quiggin said.

“These failures can be traced, in large measure, to the fact that the government is beholden to rightwing anti-science activists in its own ranks and in the media. Rather than resist these extremists, the Turnbull government has chosen to treat the vital issues of climate change and energy security as an opportunity for political point-scoring and culture war rhetoric.”

Quiggin said his immediate reason for resigning was the government’s failure to respond to the authority’s third report of the special review into potential climate policies, which the government had requested and which it was legally required to respond to.

“The government has already indicated that it will reject the key recommendations of the review, particularly the introduction of an emissions intensity scheme for the electricity industry.”

Quiggin said he didn’t believe there was anything to be gained “by giving objective advice based on science and economic analysis to a government dominated by elements hostile to both science and economics”.

Price told Guardian Australia he had resigned because he “didn’t think it was appropriate for a member of a government agency to be openly critical of government policy”.

“I think the authority does really good work, but I didn’t think I could stay if I was going to continue to criticise the government’s policy making and I didn’t see any chance that it would get any better,” he said.

“I really hate the complete ad hocery of it all … the idea that anything at all can be thrown out by a government in a political panic.”

Quiggin was appointed to the authority in 2012, and Price in 2015. Both were appointed for five-year terms.

The Climate Change Authority’s special review was undertaken last year, and recommended the government institute two emissions trading schemes and strengthen regulations if it was to meet Australia’s 2030 emission reduction targets.

The report was criticised by the Climate Institute, the Greens, and other climate groups and experts criticised elements of the report, and in August Guardian Australia revealed a split in the ranks of the authority, with three members writing a dissenting report.

However many groups – including the Business Council of Australia, Energy Networks Australia, retailer Energy Australia, electricity provider AGL, the Climate Change Authority, the National Farmers Federation and the CSIRO – have also called for the introduction of an emissions intensity trading scheme.

Frydenberg had canvassed a trading scheme following the release of the Finkel review into energy security in December, but the policy was dumped after three days following objections by senior government ministers.

The government’s openness to a scheme has also been cited as a reason for Cory Bernardi’s resignation from the party in February.

The Climate Change Authority was set up in 2011 as an independent statutory agency, and the Coalition has maintained that it should be abolished after failing to get its legislation to do just that through the Senate.

Frydenberg told Guardian Australia: “the government thanks both Danny Price and John Quiggin for their service and the government will continue to engage constructively with the authority”.

The Greens climate and energy spokesman, Adam Bandt, said the government’s “dangerous pandering to climate change deniers” had left it friendless. “When added to previous resignations, this exodus is the equivalent of half the reserve bank board resigning over the government’s economic policies.”


Tony Abbott: Hazelwood Power Station should stay open

IF WE are serious about tackling Australia’s looming energy crisis, the last thing we should be doing is closing 20 per cent plus of Victoria’s (and 5 per cent of Australia’s) base load power supply.

Yet that’s what’s scheduled to happen next week unless there is an eleventh hour intervention by government or a last-minute change of heart by the station’s operator.

Sure, brown coal is more emissions-intensive than gas.

Yes, coal lacks the “big new thing” allure of pumped hydro.

Still it’s given Victoria and South Australia cheap, reliable base load power, making those states our country’s manufacturing hubs.

And until equally cost effective and reliable alternative supplies can be established, having Hazelwood close is sheer, avoidable folly.

Keeping Hazelwood open would make a lot more difference than pumped hydro which is trying to solve today’s problem in some years’ time.

Still the Prime Minister’s Snowy Scheme 2.0, plus the South Australian commitment to a new gas-fired base load power station, shows that our leaders are finally thinking about what might be done to keep the lights on.

So far, though, no one in authority is talking about the one thing that could boost base load power by almost 2000 megawatts immediately: not closing Hazelwood next week.

If we want secure and affordable power supplies, we can’t lose the ones we currently have, even if they involve burning coal.

The past few months, with the statewide blackout in South Australia and the blackout which badly damaged the Portland aluminium smelter in Victoria, have shown the damage that intermittent and unreliable wind and solar energy is doing to our power supply.

There’s no doubt that climate change obsessions have played havoc with Australia’s energy policy.

Fifteen years ago, thanks to a largely privatised and deregulated energy market, our power prices were among the world’s lowest.

With the world’s largest readily available reserves of coal, gas and uranium, we were an affordable energy superpower.

Since then, climate-induced political fiddling has put prices through the roof and removed Australian manufacturing’s one big comparative advantage.

It’s damaged our standard of living and it’s destroyed thousands of jobs.

My government scrapped the carbon tax and reduced the renewable energy target but the preference given to wind and solar power continues to drive coal and gas fired power stations out of business and to put security of supply at risk.

Depending on conditions, wind varies between providing nothing and everything that South Australia needs.

Because of wind’s preferential status and minimal marginal cost, more reliable and cheaper-overall forms of power generation simply can’t compete.

SA’s private Pelican Point gas-fired power station is currently mothballed because policy-driven market distortion and Greens-driven restrictions on gas supply have made it uneconomic. Meanwhile, renewable energy-obsessed Labor governments, dramatically increased coal royalties, and political risk have made coal-fired power unbankable here even though it’s still the most affordable and reliable source of energy.

If price rises are to moderate and if jobs are to be preserved, energy policy needs a complete rethink.

The renewable energy target, in particular, needs to be reconsidered so that unreliable power is no longer shutting down the reliable power everyone needs.

As always, it’s the unintended, unanticipated consequences of well-intentioned policy that turn out to be the most significant.

The dream of “clean, green” wind and solar power over “dirty, dangerous” coal — and the subsidies to bring it about — has led us to the verge of catastrophe.

Once Hazelwood is gone, the plant mothballed and the workforce dispersed, it will be almost impossible to reopen.

Meanwhile, all the other schemes to produce large amounts of coal-free base load power are years and years from fruition.

At least until Snowy 2.0 can produce 2000 megawatts of cost-effective and droughtproof hydro power, Hazelwood should stay open.

That wouldn’t be bailing out a failing business. It would be securing the services that Australians need until market forces are once more driving the system.

Keeping Hazelwood open would be a good way for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to show that energy policy in Australia won’t be hijacked by ideological fixations in France.

One of the factors in its looming closure — not the only one but an important one — is the French socialist government (which part owns Engie, which part owns Hazelwood) wanting to boast that it has closed down one of the world’s “dirtiest” power stations.

Keeping Hazelwood open would cap off a good week for the Prime Minister.

He’s fought for free speech, announced a new crack down on union corruption, and released an “Australia First” citizenship statement.

Stopping next summer’s looming blackouts with bold action now is a chance to keep the momentum.


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, 2017

Muslim ban to solve terror problem, says Pauline Hanson

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has gone from offering sympathies to the people of London after a deadly terror attack to slamming the city's mayor and pushing her bid to ban Muslim immigration.

Four people, including a policeman, died in the lone-wolf attack near London's Houses of Parliament overnight.

London mayor Sadiq Khan paid tribute to PC Keith Palmer who he said "was killed doing his duty - protecting our city and the heart of our democracy from those who want to destroy our way of life".

But Senator Hanson focused on Mr Khan's comment in The Independent newspaper last September that terror attacks were "part and parcel of living in a big city".

"It's amazing that the Muslim mayor over there has come out and said terrorists' attacks are part and parcel of a big city," she said in a video posted to social media today.

"Well, no, they're not, they don't have to be, they never have been in the past, and that's something I never want to hear or see here in Australia from any mayor in any city."

Senator Hanson said sending sympathies under the PrayForLondon hashtag was futile and offered up her own hashtag to solve the problem - Pray4MuslimBan.

"That is how you solve the problem. Put a ban on it and then let's deal with the issues here," she said.

"I'm grateful for the ASIO and the police and what they're trying to do, but they can't keep an eye on everyone."


Victorian high school students given option to select 'gender X' instead of 'male' or 'female' on official exam papers

High school students who do not identify as male or female will now be able to list themselves as 'gender X' on official high school documents.

In the ruling made by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), students sitting their VCE and VCAL examinations will have a third option when it comes to listing their gender identity.

The move comes as Victorian transgender and intersex pupils feeling marginalised by the lack of identification on personal I.D forms, voiced their concerns to the education body.

But the decision has come under staunch opposition with some describing the it as a threat to 'bathroom usage.'

In announcing their ruling, VCAA expressed that their decision came with the support of schools and that the well-being of students was their priority.

'The inclusion of Gender X in student records is of importance to the health and welfare of individual students who do not identify as male or female.'

The rule would allow the VCAA to use gender X statistics to categorise a new subset of children - as young as 15 - as non male or female when it comes to VCE results. 

Education Minister for Victoria James Merlino supported the move arguing that it was a reflection of every student.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling however called on Premier Daniel Andrews to stop: 'pushing his radical gender and sexuality theories onto other people's children.'

Dan Flynn, Victorian director of the Australian Christian Lobby, also strongly opposed the decision, expressing concern that it could create safety issues within school bathrooms and change rooms.

'Boys are boys and girls are girls and there would be a fractional category of people who are truly intersex. We are also opening the door to say 'I don't want to be a male or a female, I want to be something else,' Mr Flynn told the Herald Sun. 

Adding that by having a third sex, same-sex sports teams would also be among those affected and that the decision is in direct contrast from the expectations of parents and the community. 

However executive director of Transgender Victoria Sally Goldner lashed out at Mr Flynn's comments that a 'gender X' would risk safety in toilets, describing it as a non-existent argument.

'There has never been a proven case (of misconduct) in Australia involving transgender people … in bathrooms. I really have to express my frustration that we keep having this 'nothing' debate,' she said.

Transgender Victoria however disagreed having the third option as 'gender x', rather calling on I.D forms to have four options: male, female, 'other please specify', and one allowing pupils to not answer.


Senate carpets Gillian Triggs over Bill Leak testimony

Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs is expected to front the Senate ­tomorrow for a determination of whether she “misled” the chamber over the Bill Leak case and after an allegation by Attorney-General George Brandis that her organisation had turned into “some sort of Orwellian chamber”.

A special spill-over session of Senate estimates was arranged after several Coalition MPs ­expressed concern about Professor Triggs’ testimony to a parliamentary committee in Feb­ruary, when she claimed Leak’s lawyer had failed to respond to requests to justify his provocative cartoon, that was the subject of complaints under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

She said then that if “at least a simple statement” had been made, a four-month investigation into his cartoon — depicting an indigenous boy being handed over by the police to his father, who is drinking beer and has forgotten his son’s name — would have been “terminated much earlier”.

Independent senator Derryn Hinch also lodged a complaint with the committee’s chair, Liberal senator Ian Macdonald, when Leak’s lawyer, Justin Quill, rejected her evidence and produced correspondence detailing several defences The Australian’s editorial cartoonist wished to establish under section 18D of the act.

“This is the third occasion on which we’ve had to ask Professor Triggs to return and explain ­apparent misleading information,” Senator Macdonald said.

“I’m disappointed we have to do this again but it is clear from the evidence we have that there was a misleading of the Senate and I want Professor Triggs to explain.”

Her scheduled return to parliament, which could be delayed if the Senate continues to sit ­tomorrow to debate the government’s omnibus and childcare bills, comes as Race Discrim­ination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane acknowledged section 18D, which provides ­exemptions for artistic work produced in the public interest, should have protected Leak.

But he said Leak’s lawyers did not put in a “submission” to the commission on 18D and instead “wanted only a public hearing”.

Mr Quill said Dr Soutphommasane was “distancing” the commission from Professor Triggs’ earlier “misleading statements”.

“Here at least we have them ­accepting that we responded,” Mr Quill said.

Dr Soutphommasane has denied soliciting complaints against Leak’s cartoon but Senator Brandis yesterday declared the “evidence is there for all to see” that he was “encouraging” people to do so.

At the time, the commissioner asked Aboriginal Australians who had been racially offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the cartoon to “consider lodging a complaint”.

Senator Brandis said the government’s proposed reforms to the AHRC’s processes would ensure complaints could not be “pre-judged”.

“If only the Australian Human Rights Commission would do what it was set up to do and be a champion of human rights rather than allowing itself to become some sort of Orwellian chamber in which people get persecuted for holding opinions. That’s what people expect them to do,” Senator Brandis told 2GB radio.

“If you go out and say ‘please make a complaint to me and then I will adjudicate the complaint’, how is that adjudication going to be fair?”


Look out when science and politics tell us the future

A growing mood of catastrophism is enveloping our more serious newspapers as the cost of anthropogenic change to the business climate bites.

A decade of ill-judged environmental and energy policy has exacted a terrible toll on the national economy. There is little chance of the investment needed to rid South Australia of its basket-case status while the government is unable to guarantee a stable power supply. Across the country, household electricity prices have more than doubled in less than a decade, and gas is running out on the eastern seaboard.

A decade ago, Australia enjoyed an efficient and reliable energy market and some of the cheapest power in the world. Hubristic government intervention has changed that and the damage could take decades to repair.

The politicisation of the global warming debate began almost 30 years ago with the 1988 climate change conference in Toronto. It was the start of a series of international gatherings, each larger than the last, with escalating apocalypticism and ever more strident demands for action.

The hyper-dramatisation of the millennial drought and the release of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth set the stage for Kevin Rudd to declare climate change our greatest moral challenge.

“There are two stark choices,” Rudd said in an extraordinary speech in late 2009, “action or inaction.” A pedant might describe it as a single choice constructed around a false dilemma, but his rhetorical point was made.

His government, naturally, would choose action since in modern progressive politics the urge to do something is stronger than the imperative to assess the likely consequences of the thing they are intending to do.

Time has helped illuminate the dewy-eyed naivety of the climate change policy Rudd took to the 2007 election. Ineffectiveness is one thing; the damage caused by the unintended consequences is quite another.

By setting a 20 per cent renewable energy target for 2020, the government privileged the suppliers of intermittent energy — wind and solar — over sources of energy capable of producing a reliable supply.

The costs of the scheme were seriously underestimated. The myth was allowed to percolate that renewable energy was free.

If we thought we’d been let off the hook when the Abbott government scrapped the carbon tax, we were wrong. The collective weight of government interventions, large and small, driven by compassion for the planet, has made us poorer than we would otherwise be. The Garnaut report in 2008 spoke of the massive economic transformation required to adapt to a carbon-constrained future but greatly underestimated the cost.

Its logic was obscure and its economic modelling so ambitious that it was frankly unbelievable. Treasury had forecast Australia’s gross national product for the next 92 years, yet one has only to read old budget papers to realise that their modelling breaks down over four.

Today the Garnaut report, with its lofty, theoretical arguments, reads like a brilliant postgraduate thesis. As a blueprint for government policy, however, it is dangerously flawed.

Yet by 2008 science and politics had become indistinguishable. Science provided the justification for political action; politics provided the grants that sent science heading along a single track.

Some say the politicisation of climate change picked up where the Cold War left off. There are certainly parallels: Marxism, according to Friedrich Engels, was scientific socialism; its theories supposedly held to an empirical standard, based on the methodical observation of history.

Once you understood — or thought you understood — the rules according to which human beings operated, you could build a perfect society and create economic order from chaos. There was no room for dispute because the science was settled; authoritarianism was its natural consequence.

The science of global warming offered the intellectuals another chance to organise the world as they wanted it to be, to take charge of human affairs and to bypass the irksome process of democracy. It was a global problem that called for global action.

It was an opportunity to settle old scores by re-fighting the lost battle of the Cold War: the fight against free markets. It justified a new technocratic world order, constructed in the spirit of Thomas Paine: “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” And they weren’t shy to admit it. As Christine Figuerres, executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, put it in 2015: “This is first time in the history of mankind that we set ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”

From the perspective of free-market liberals, this is bound to end in tears. The massive collective interventions that have distorted the energy market are choking the economy in the 21st century, as surely as socialist interventions did in the 1990s.

An ideological commitment to address market failure has resulted in something worse: non-market failure. Australia is running short of baseload electrical power, but the disincentives for investing are large.

So the South Australian government now talks of taking electricity generation back into public ownership. Others talk about subsidising baseload power plants from the public purse, falling back on the industrial welfare habit.

It all makes perfect sense to the technocrats and central planners.


How we house growing families in Australia

Research has uncovered a surprising sociological twist to why so many Australians are facing the choice of either moving to a bigger house or renovating their existing homes to accommodate growing families.

That difficult choice can involve what academic studies call "multi-generation households" with growing numbers of adult members, as well as more traditional Australian families that need more space for the arrival a new baby.

A study by the University of NSW Housing and Urban Research Institute found the number of multi-generation households has grown steadily over the past 25 years, and that almost one in five Australians now live with two or more generations of related adults.

"Multi-generation households are particularly common in our major cities," the report says. "In Sydney, where the practice is most common, almost one-quarter of all households comprised multiple generations."

The decision to move or extend is also driven by soaring house prices. Multi-award-winning Australian architect, Andrew Maynard, says a growing number of clients are choosing to consolidate their wealth in an existing home rather than move.

"Property values are so high people are quite keen to stay where they are," he says. "They're confident in investing significant amounts of money to ensure their modest sized block is doing everything it can to give them a comfortable and happy life.

"We have numerous projects that are resolving that issue, working with a site that most Australians would say is too small and just doing something clever with it to make sure it works for a long-term family plan."

The architect also believes Australians create houses much bigger than they need. "That's something I talk to them about," he says. "Australian houses are the biggest in the world at the moment, and we talk to people about what they actually need."

Housing Industry Association Victorian executive director, Gil King, says families deciding whether to buy or extend should look at the area they already live in to see if it has all the facilities needed for a growing family.

"That would include things like schools, parks and shopping centres," he says. "If all those facilities are in the area it might be detrimental to move, they might already have children in local schools who would need to be uprooted and moved elsewhere.

"If the necessary facilities are not in their existing location, they might need to move somewhere that does have them."

ME's head of home loans, Patrick Nolan, says the decision to move ? or stay put and renovate ? to accommodate a multigenerational family is often made as much with our hearts as with our heads.

"A reason many people like to stay put is emotional, and a home that has been lived in for a long time will carry many family memories ? that in itself is a valid reason to stay," said Nolan.

"Also, moving to a new home can be an expensive process.

"You can renovate to accommodate the extended family adequately, particularly if you are housing older generations who may need facilities like ground floor access or hand rails.

"Either way, it's critical to think about how you will pay for it all. Your home loan is a valuable tool here, offering a low cost source of funds.

"It may also be worthwhile refinancing your loan with another bank. The benefits are two-fold: you can tap into equity to get the funds you need while also giving yourself an opportunity to secure a better rate.


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

23 March, 2017

Homofascists target IBM executive

Marriage equality advocate IBM Australia is being targeted by ­militant gay rights activists who have condemned the company over a senior executive’s links to a ­Christian organisation.

Activists have criticised the IT giant and Sydney-based managing partner Mark Allaby, suggesting that his role on the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an internship program for young Christians, is incompatible with IBM’s public support on the issue.

The social media campaign comes after the same activists shamed Adelaide brewer Coopers into pledging allegiance to Australian Marriage Equality after its ties with the Bible Society were ­exposed.

Michael Barnett, convener of Jewish LGBTI support group Aleph Melbourne, and Rod Swift, a Greens candidate in the 2014 state election, have targeted IBM with a barrage of messages via Twitter in recent days, accusing the company of hypocrisy for ­allowing an employee to be ­involved with “an anti-LGBTI ­organisation”.

“A bad look … that IBM managing partner Mark Allaby sits on the anti-LGBT Lachlan Macquarie Institute board,” Mr Barnett ­posted on Thursday.

The next day he followed with: “As an LGBT champion @IBM­Australia, why did you employ a board member of a high-profile anti-LGBT organisation.”

Mr Swift pitched in, calling on IBM to explain whether it would “request this guy to step down” from the institute.

“If you are having a bet each way @IBMDiversityANZ then you must justify to your staff and customers why your guy is on their board,” he wrote.

It is not the first time Mr Allaby, a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors who handles IBM’s financial services ­clients across Australia and New Zealand, has been targeted for his association with a religious organisation.

Last year, when employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, he was pressured into standing down from the board of the Australian Christian Lobby, which opposes changes to marriage law.

Both PwC and IBM are active supporters of Australian Marriage Equality, and their chief executives were among 20 corporate leaders to sign an unprecedented letter lobbying Malcolm Turnbull to legalise same-sex marriage, revealed in The Australian last week.

The letter has sparked heated debate about the role of business in lobbying on social issues, with conservative frontbencher Peter Dutton telling business leaders to “stick to their knitting”.

However, the increasingly ­aggressive tactics being employed by some marriage equality activists has highlighted the risks for corporations — and their employees — in taking a position on ­divisive political causes.

Leading anti-discrimination lawyer Mark Fowler said employees with religious beliefs in conflict with their employers’ stand on marriage equality were particularly exposed. “In NSW and SA there are currently no laws protecting individuals from expressing their religious beliefs,” Mr Fowler said. “Nor are there religious protections for ­individuals under commonwealth laws.”

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton said the ACL, which helped set up the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, denied that the organisation was “anti-LGBTI”.

“Quite frankly we are tired of this slur being used to intimidate people because of their beliefs,” Mr Shelton said. “Corporate Australia is obviously free to have and express views on political matters.

“Sadly, same-sex marriage activists are intolerant of different views and have co-opted some in the corporate sector to assist them in enforcing this to the point where people fear for their jobs.

“All Australians, including corporate Australia, should openly and forcefully condemn every instance of bullying and intimidation.”

Mr Barnett defended his role yesterday, arguing that when an organisation such as IBM employed an individual in a high-profile leadership role who did not espouse company values, a disparity emerged. “I have no desire to see IBM sack Mark Allaby. I want the conflict to go away,” Mr Barnett told The Australian.

“Mark Allaby can make whatever decisions he needs to resolve this conflict, and if IBM needs to assist with that process then they can do that. “My goal is to see IBM, and any other pro-LGBTIQ organisation, remain strong to their stated values.”

Mr Barnett said he had nothing against Mr Allaby personally but his links with the Australian Christian Lobby meant he was a “target for equality campaigners like me”.

IBM did not respond to questions about whether staff were free to engage with external organisations, including religious groups, outside of their employment with the company. “We will not be responding on this,” an IBM spokeswoman said.

Mr Allaby, who lives in Sydney, did not return calls.


The coal-hatred in South Australia:  It cost $4.5 million to keep power stable for one day

SOUTH Australian power consumers have been slugged for a massive $4.5 million price spike for services that stop energy infrastructure from blowing up.

The Australian Energy Regulator released a report on Tuesday night into why prices for services which stabilisethe grid exceeded $5000/MWh in SA on October 18 last year.

It found that for more than five hours, the cost of the services which regulate frequency soared to more than $11,000/MWh, bringing the total cost for the day to $4.5 million.

“In comparison, FCAS (Frequency Control Ancillary Services) costs across all mainland National Electricity Market regions combined are typically around $200,000 per day,” the report stated.

Over the week inclusive of October 18, 40 per cent of the cost — or $1.8 million — was paid for by customers and 60 per cent of the cost was recovered from generators, which The Advertiser understands tended to be wind farms because they cause frequency changes.

The report found that a planned outage on the Heywood interconnector, which connects SA to Victoria, created a risk that SA could cut off from the rest of the network. This creates a higher risk of blackouts.

Since September 2015, to help reduce the risk of blackouts, the Australian Energy Market Operator requires a set level of ancillary services to be sourced in SA to protect the system.

“This is effectively a security mechanism introduced by AEMO to protect South Australia in the event of separation (from the national market),” the report stated.

But the report found that two generators — Pelican Point and the Quarantine Power Station — that provide the service experienced technical difficulties on the day which led to fewer low-priced services being available and, therefore, led to the price spike.

After the statewide blackout in September last year, which was partly caused by a massive drop in the grid’s frequency after the interconnector tripped, AEMO introduced another new rule requiring two gas generators to be on at all times, because until now wind farms had not provided these services.

But the Essential Services Commission of SA has since changed licensing conditions for all new generators that would require them to be able to provide such services.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said these stability services were required to protect the network in the event SA was separated from the national grid.

“I am advised the price spike was caused by issues with two gas-fired power stations. The cost will be met by both electricity generators and consumers,” he said.

“Our energy plan includes building a new gas-fired power station and Australia’s largest battery, both of which will improve grid security.”

The Government’s proposed $360 million, 250MW power station was not intended to generate power very often but would be switched on most of the time to provide the stability services.

Mr Koutsantonis said ESCOSA’s reforms were also designed to ease the market.

Separate data released by the regulator yesterday shows that SA energy consumers had the highest average electricity debt in the country, were the most likely to be on a hardship program and most likely to have their electricity disconnected due to non payment.


Australian Human Rights Commission facing shake-up

A major shake-up of the Australian Human Rights Commission, including new powers to terminate “unmeritorious” complaints, is expected to win support of the parliament, amid concern the agency’s processes have “become the punishment”.

Following the government’s announced overhaul of the AHRC and plans to change controversial section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, the commission released a statement indicating it would work with the government to change the law governing how it deals with complaints.

“The commission will engage with the government and parliament on progressing legislative reforms that can further strengthen and improve the complaint handling process, while ensuring access to justice,” it said.

The Attorney-General, George Brandis, said the Coalition was responding to recommendations from the parliamentary joint committee on human rights to ensure the commission observed the principles of procedural fairness in ­investigating complaints.

One of the key new provisions will require the commission president, currently Gillian Triggs, to make a preliminary assessment of whether a complaint has substance or any “reasonable prospect of being resolved in favour of the complainant” before embarking on an inquiry.

“If the president is of the view that the complaint is without substance, and has no reasonable prospects of success, there will be an obligation to terminate the complaint at that point, at the threshold, rather than exposing people who are the subject of complaint ….to the torment of process,” Senator Brandis said.

There will also be a requirement for a complaint to be lodged within six months of the conduct and an obligation on the commission to try to resolve issues within 12 months.

In order to provide a financial disincentive to complainants, the changes will also include orders in relation to costs, so that someone who makes an unmeritorious complaint can be the subject of an adverse cost order.

“Sometimes the process can be the punishment,’’ Senator Brandis said. “That is not right or fair.’’

He said the proposed changes had been discussed with Professor Triggs and “in general have her support”.

While the government faces an uphill battle to win Senate support for changes to 18C, the reform of the commission’s complaint-handling processes is more likely to pass, with widespread recognition of its shortcomings.

Professor Triggs has also indicated problems with the legislation governing the commission, calling for changes that reduce the regulatory burden it faces in its mandatory reporting obligations.

The government will respond to these concerns, making a number of “technical amendments” to reduce the red tape faced by the commission and improve its governance arrangements.

Changes to the complaint process will not only apply to grievances under the Racial Discrim­ination Act, but to all human rights complaints made to the commission.

Senator Nick Xenophon, who controls a bloc of three Senate votes, said that while he opposed changes to 18C, he would consider supporting the commission shake-up and potentially the insertion of a “reasonable person” test into the act.

“We do support sensible changes to the process involved in the handling of such complaints so the process does not become the punishment,” the South Australian senator said.


10,000 Syrian refugees settle in Australia

Australia has welcomed 10,000 Syrian refugees and issued another 2000 visas to people fleeing the war-torn Middle East country.

Malcolm Turnbull will reportedly confirm the entire 12,000 visas pledged to Syrian refugees in 2015 have been issued during a migrations awards speech at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday night.

His speech is not expected to detail the religious make-up of Syrian refugees processed, but the government has prioritised persecuted Christians over Muslims, the Daily Telegraph reports.


Integration core in new multicultural policy

Australia’s national identity will be redefined along fundamental principles of integration, citizenship and unity in a pointed shift away from welfare entitlement, in the first multicultural statement by a federal government to also recognise the impact of ­terrorism on the nation’s social fabric.

In a landmark departure from the 2011 statement delivered by then-Labor prime minister Julia Gillard, the Turnbull government has ­included for the first time a list of individual freedoms, including freedom of speech, as core Australian values. The statement, ­released to The Australian ahead of its launch today, is a rejection of multiculturalism as a vehicle for grievance and identity politics.

The government has dropped past emphasis on equitable access to welfare and services for new ­migrants, and instead promotes values of opportunity, self-reliance­ and aspiration.

In an implicit reference to the controversial provisions of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, it has moved away from Labor’s past reference to the use of the “full force of the law” while denouncin­g ­racism and discrimin­ation, and promoting mutual respect­.

A keystone of the document is the inclusion of white Australia — British and Irish settlers — in a broadening of the definition of multicultural Australia to beyond ethnic minorities and indigenous people. Introducing “integration” as the core principle over ethnic segregation to guide government policy, the statement signals a delibera­te shift away from the ­emphasis placed on services articulated by Labor.

A premium has now been placed on citizenship, with a strengthened obligation to demonstrate allegiance to Australia and English as the national ­language as “critical” features of ethnic integration.

The chairman of the Australian Multicultural Council, Sev ­Ozdowski, said the document marked a profound change and ­returned the underlying principles to those established under the Hawke government, when the definition of multiculturalism was an inclusive policy. “I think it is an important move … it takes multiculturalism away from identity politics … it makes it a policy for all of us,” he told The Australian.

The Assistant Minister for Socia­l Services and Multicultural Affairs, Zed Seselja, said it was a document that stamped the ­Coalition government’s view of multicultural Australia, with the substantive difference ­between it and previous government statements being the introduction of a core principle of integration. “I think a focus on common ­values was critical, and a focus on unity and citizenship, rather than an emphasis­ to services and welfare, which is not the main game,” he said. “It is about all of us, whether we arrived last week or whether our ancestors have been here for hundreds or thousands of years.”

Terrorism and border protection have been recognised for the first time as a threat to social ­cohesion, with an unambiguous repudiation of behaviour that ­“undermines Australian values”.

“Underpinning a diverse and harmonious Australia is the security­ of our nation,” the statement says. “The Australian government places the highest priority on the safety and security of all Australians.

“Recent terrorist attacks around the world have justifiably caused concern in the Australian community. The government ­responds to these threats by continuing­ to invest in counter-terrorism, strong borders and strong national security.

“This helps to ensure that Australia remains an open, inclusive, free and safe ­society. In the face of these threats, however, we do not compromise on our shared values and national unity.”

The document infers recip­rocal rights and obligations, claiming that “regardless of cultural­ background, birthplace or religion, everyone in Australia or coming to Australia has a responsibi­lity to engage with and seek to understand each other, and reject any form of racism or violent ­extremism”.

“We take responsibility for fulfilling our civic duties,’’ it says. “Prac­tices and behaviours that undermine our values have no place in Australia.”

The inclusion of a set of “freedoms” fundamental to Australian values marks a further divergence from previous statements. “Our commitment to freedom is fundamental,” it says. “We support freedom of thought, speech, religion, enterprise and association.”

The statement is the first since the Gillard government’s 2011 document, which focused on strengthening access and equity policies to “ensure that government programs and services are responsive to the needs of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities while responding­ to expressions of intoleranc­e and discrimination with strength and, where necessary, with the force of the law”.

Mr Ozdowski said the document reflected a national policy for all Australians. “It brings back those dimensions established by Hawke and Keating with a focus on multiculturalism for all Australians … not a policy statement on welfare or for particular ethnic groups, or ­religions or refugees,” he said, adding that the use of the word integration did not reflect a US policy of assimilation but recog­nised people must accept Australian values while bringing new ideas and connections.

Senator Seselja said the government had included national ­security to address “the elephant in the room” and it reflected a need to promote social cohesion.

Malcolm Turnbull said that during a time of increased anxiety over terrorism, it was important to reaffirm what should be Australian values.

“We are defined not by race, religion or culture, but by shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and equality of ­opportunity,’’ he said.


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, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is cynical about reform to the hate speech law going through

Infanticide law in Victoria: How is this not murder?

Comment from a reader involved in social work:

I have a particular dislike of the infanticide law. I personally know of several cases where mothers have deliberately killed their baby and never went to gaol for it. They simply got counselling.

Men are charged with murder and get 20 - 25 years for killing their babies, but women can drown them, stab them, dash their brains out on a door frame and get off free, and often without any publicity at all.

The only reason this one got publicity is because the woman was caught on tape, otherwise, like all such cases we would probably not know about it unless we worked in a counselling facility.

Feminists love the infanticide law, they want it extended to the killing of 5 years olds in states where it is only for killing up 1 and 2 year olds. Yet they protest when a father who killed his baby is released after 18 years gaol.

I have silenced a few groups of feminists -- when they are griping about the patriarchy and planning some silly protest -- by saying to them, You women want more rights but without accountability. When you are marching in the streets demanding the infanticide law be scrapped and women who kill their babies be charged with murder and sentenced just like men are, when you are demanding equal accountability with men, then I will be marching in the street with you. Until then, I find your talk about equal rights disgusting

IN THE days leading up to April 10 last year things had got out of hand for Sofina Nikat, a court has heard.

According to a summary of her police interview from that day, which was last week read out in court, the 23-year-old mother was struggling to cope with her 14-month-old baby girl Sanaya Sahib.

She told police the baby would “look at the roof and cry and growl”, and that she had been advised by a priest that she and her baby were possessed and had negative energy.

After initially claiming her daughter had been snatched from her pram by an African man who reeked of alcohol, Nikat later admitted to police she had put her hand across Sanaya’s mouth and nose, and hugged her tight until she couldn’t feel her daughter moving.

Nikat had killed her baby, she told police, then dropped her daughter’s body in Darebin Creek.

Yet when she answered a charge of murder in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, she pleaded not guilty. Psychiatrists agreed.

Her defence lawyer Christopher Dane QC presented the court with two psychiatric assessments by different psychiatrists who independently concluded what Nikat did was not murder, but another charge.

“The balance of mind of Sofina Nikat was disturbed,” consultant psychiatrist Yvonne Skinner wrote in her report. “She is guilty of infanticide, and not murder.”

Mr Dane told the court if Nikat had been charged with infanticide, she would have likely pleaded guilty.

In Victoria, the charge of infanticide carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, however it is believed no Victorian woman has been jailed for infanticide. A murder accused is up for 25 years behind bars.

The charge can only be applied to a woman — a mother — who “carried out conduct that causes the death of her child (under two) in circumstances that would constitute murder”, and, whose balance of mind is disturbed because she’s either not recovered from the effect of giving birth, or as a result of “a disorder consequent on her giving birth to that child”.

It’s a rare crime and one that carries different meanings and consequences in different jurisdictions. In New South Wales a mother can only be found guilty of infanticide if she has killed her child under 12 months, under similar circumstances as in the Victorian law, only the punishment will be the same as if it was manslaughter. The partial defence of infanticide is also available in Tasmania, but doesn’t feature in the remaining Australian states’ criminal codes.

When infanticide does come up in a high profile case, confusion and outrage often comes with it.

How is this not murder? Why is the sentence so light? Why should it be any different?


Lock up dodgy union officials: Turnbull

Turnbull grows a pair

Union officials who carve out pay deals laced with a "corrupting intent" would be thrown behind bars under new laws proposed by the Turnbull government.

The prime minister wants employers or union officials found making secret payments other than for clearly legitimate purposes jailed for up to two years.

"Trade unions have a solemn, legal, moral, fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their members," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

"We have seen through the Heyden royal commission and subsequently unions have let their members down and big unions have traded their rights away in return for payments."

Mr Turnbull and his workplace minister Michaelia Cash outlined the proposed penalties as the government seeks to gain the front foot in the penalty rate debate.

Ms Cash said there was no consistency across Australia's bribery laws, and the offence was often difficult to prove.

"Employees should be aware and should have full knowledge of any payments that are made between their employer and a union," she said.

"When you look at the level of penalty, it should send a very, very clear message to any employer or any union who wants to indulge in secretive payments.

"It is wrong and compromises the integrity and lawfulness of the workplace."


Hazelwood's closure raises threats of east coast blackouts and manufacturers quitting Australia

The head of the Food and Grocery Council says manufacturers will quit Australia if affordable, reliable energy cannot be guaranteed, as concern grows about the cost of power and the stability of the electricity grid with Victoria's Hazelwood power station due to close in a fortnight.

The ageing brown-coal-fired generator in the Latrobe Valley will begin the staged shutdown of its eight units from March 27. The final boiler will go cool on April 2.

With it will go 22 per cent of Victoria's power supply and just over 5 per cent of the energy on a grid that runs from Port Douglas in far north Queensland to Port Lincoln on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.

The wholesale price of power spiked across the National Electricity Market in November on news that Hazelwood would shut.

Retail prices will follow the rise.

Food and Grocery Council chair Terry O'Brien said his industry had been caught in a pincer movement, unable to pass on power price hikes because of discounting by the two major supermarkets chains.

As many local manufacturers were arms of international companies, pressure was mounting for some to quit the country.

"The decision to stay or go gets more and more marginal as the days go on," Mr O'Brien said.  "And there's not a heck of a lot of sentiment in these internationally managed companies. They go where it makes sense. And if it's not going to make sense here, they leave."

The closure of Hazelwood raises an even larger threat: blackouts.  "To stop production through a lack of energy is just a disaster," Mr O'Brien said.

The threat of east coast blackouts is now real because of the disorganised disconnection of coal-fired generation without any new investment in base-load power.

Hazelwood will be the ninth power plant to close in five years, removing a combined 5,400 megawatt of generation from the grid. The Australian Energy Market Operator is now predicting electricity reserve shortfalls in Victoria and South Australia from December.


Prime Minister Turnbull commits to 18C race-hate law reform

MALCOLM Turnbull has been shouted down in Question Time after saying changes to race-hate speech laws announced today would strengthen the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Prime Minister was asked why he chose to make the announcement on Harmony Day.

“We are standing up for the freedom of speech that underpins our society, the greatest multicultural society in the world,” Mr Turnbull said.

He accused the Labor Party of painting Australians as racists, only held in check by section 18C.  “We have more respect for the Australian people than the Labor Party does,” Mr Turnbull said. “We know that our precious freedoms, our freedom of speech, is the very foundation of the nation.”

Speaker Tony Smith was forced to warn MPs about the “ridiculously high” level of interjections.

Labor MP Anne Aly then asked the Prime Minister to clarify which forms of racial discrimination he wanted people to be able to say that they could not say now. Ms Aly said she had been “subjected to racism time and time again”.

Mr Turnbull responded: “I believe all Australians are absolutely opposed to racism in any form.”  “The suggestion that those people who support a change to the wording of Section 18C are somehow or other racist is a deeply offensive one.”

The bill will be introduced to the Senate.


The Prime Minister said the language in a contentious section of the Racial Discrimination Act has lost credibility and will be replaced.

Under the changes approved at a joint party room meeting in Canberra on Tuesday the words “offend, insult and humiliate” will be changed to “harass and intimidate”, making claims harder to prove.

The test to be applied in complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission will be the standard of a “reasonable member of the community”.

The commission will also have greater powers to filter complaints which are deemed to be frivolous or without merit and those who are the subject of the complaint will get an early warning when a complaint is lodged.

“We are defending Australians from racial vilification by replacing language which has been discredited and ... has lost the credibility that a good law needs,” Mr Turnbull told reporters.

“We need to restore confidence to the Racial Discrimination Act and to the Human Rights Commission’s administration of it.”

The changes struck a balance between protecting people from racial vilification while defending and enabling free speech, and had support across the political spectrum, he said.

“There will be many critics and opponents but this is an issue of values,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Free speech is a value at the very core of our party, it should be at the core of every party,” he said.

“What we presented today strikes the right balance, defending freedom of speech so that cartoonists will not be hauled up and accused of racism, so that university students won’t be dragged through the courts and have hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal costs imposed on them over spurious claims of racism.”


Opposition to free speech won’t end happily


Democracy should always be defended. The essential ingredient of a true democracy is freedom of speech: that freedom is under attack from the left and even, at times, the right.

When those opposed to marriage equality tried to hold a meeting at the Mercure Hotel near Sydney airport, supporters of marriage equality so pestered and threatened the hotel that they cancelled the event. Just as I have been critical of the left for preventing Israeli speakers from going to any university in Australia to put their case, this and every attack on free speech must be resisted. If you won’t let the other side speak, you must have limited confidence in your own argument.

This week saw two attempts to further muzzle free speech on marriage equality. The fiasco at Coopers says so much about intolerance. The performance of LGBTI activists over Coopers Brewery and the Bible Society video was as cruel as it was anti-democratic. Directors Tim and Melanie Cooper looked uneasy as they tried to distance the company from the video and stave off the rapidly growing boycott of their beer.

The video itself is merely an attempt at sane, sensible and orderly debate. The reaction of totalitarians with such outrage is really sad to see. The viciousness suggests that they will never allow the slightest hint of a view different to their own to see the light of day.

This blind insistence against the exercise of the right to free speech has been on graphic display in recent times. I attended the Bill Leak memorial on Friday to honour a great and talented Australian genius. One of the kindest men I ever met had been the subject of a bitter, savage assault on social media. The attack from the Human Rights Commission had accused him of racism and one commissioner called on people to lay complaints against him.

Just to make sure that the right got in on the anti-free speech bandwagon, Peter Dutton bucketed the CEOs who had the temerity to lend their support to an open letter calling for an early start for gay marriage.


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, 2017

‘Stick to your knitting’: Dutton tells CEO’s to stay out of gay marriage

Why would an airline involve itself in homosexual marriage politics?  The boss of Qantas is himself homosexual, that's why

In an extraordinary spray, immigration minister Peter Dutton has singled out Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in a fresh assault on the involvement of some of Australia’s largest companies in the marriage equality debate.

Mr Dutton warned CEO’s to “stick to their knitting”, and said the Turnbull government “would not be bullied” into changing its stance on gay marriage.

“It is unacceptable that people have used companies, and shareholders money, to try to throw their weight around in these debates,” he told reporters in Cairns following his address to the Liberal National Party’s state council.

He used his address on Saturday to accuse chief executives of using shareholders’ money to drive a personal agenda.

In particular, he took aim at Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, a strong advocate for marriage equality.

“Alan Joyce, the individual, is perfectly entitled to campaign for and spend his hard earned money on any issue he sees fit, but don’t do it in the official capacity and with shareholders money,” he told the meeting.

“And certainly don’t use an iconic brand and the might of a multi-billion dollar business on issues best left to the judgment of issues and elected decision makers,” he said to applause.

Mr Dutton’s comments come after the chief executives of 30 of Australia’s largest companies, including Telstra, Holden, Wesfarmers and the Commonwealth Bank, urged the government to take action on marriage equality.

Dutton, one of the most prominent conservative voices in the Turnbull government, also claimed some companies had been coerced into supporting the marriage equality campaign.

“The reality is that some companies are morally coerced into supporting campaigns in fear of being extorted by an online social media push to boycott their product,” he said.

Qantas quickly returned fire, saying the company would continue to support gay marriage and “other things we believe in”, the ABC reported.

“Qantas speaks out on a number of social issues from indigenous recognition to gender diversity and marriage equality,” a spokesman said in a statement.

“We do so because we believe these issues are about the fundamental Australian value of fairness and we’re the national carrier.

“We respect the fact that not everyone agrees with marriage equality, but opinion polls show the majority of Australians do, as do many of our employees.”

Social media reaction to Duttons words ranged from the critical, to the supportive and the hilarious.

“There goes his Chairman's Lounge access,” tweeted Ian Soloman.


Homofascist censors don’t want us thinking for ourselves

JENNIFER ORIEL writes as follows:

In their campaign for gay marriage, some activists have developed a regrettably totalitarian strategy. It is to target dissenters, gay or straight, and silence them through persistent bullying. It is a strategy where the ends justify the means. The ends are not the formal equality of homosexuals and gay marriage. It is absolute conformity to radical queer ideology.

Like many columnists, artists and voracious consumers of the late Bill Leak’s art, I have wondered what he might have made of the past week’s events.

In a discussion of Leak’s cartoons on Monday’s Q&A on ABC, panellists praised polite speech in contrast to his politically incorrect art. The prim thought police did not deem impolite the audience member who smeared Leak as a “racist” only three days after his death. At times like these, you need Leak on the illustration and Baudelaire on the caption.

In the following days, a draft letter on same-sex marriage was leaked to the press. The corporate chiefs who signed it apparently wanted the Prime Minister to abandon his pre-election commitment to a people’s vote on same-sex marriage.

Some queer activists have celebrated the idea of politicians snatching the plebiscite vote away from the people. They seem to ­believe that denying people freedom of thought is the constitution of equality. As a justification, they imagine some hypo­thetical harm that might result from fellow citizens exercising ­independence in a free vote on the matter of marriage. We are used to hearing the PC nonsense that free and civil speech causes harm. Now sections of the activist class contend that democracy too is harmful. They are unlikely to find accord among dissidents in totalitarian states.

In the same week, Islamophobia propagandists tried to stop ­enlightenment advocate and freethinker Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaking at events across Australia. She too has been criticised as harmful by people whose sense of self, status and taxpayer-funded careers rely on cultivating and maintaining a victim identity.

Just as the PC naval-gazers looked like they had reached peak narcissism, along came an outrage to outrage them all; a video of civil conversation between beer-drinking blokes. If not for the gallows of political correctness, the story could rival Springtime for Hitler in hilarity.

Consider the context. The scene is set on a balmy, late summer day. Two high-profile politicians from the political right — men in the prime of their lives — want to talk marriage. They have arranged to meet on none other than Valentine’s Day at, wait for it, Queen’s Terrace. Their brief, polite conversation is filmed by a fellow who recently has come out of the closet in Newtown, a Sydney suburb brimming with students, activists, lesbians and gays. Unfortunately, he has come out as a Christian and conservative in Newtown, which is something akin to staging a drag cabaret in the Kremlin.

The chat between the conservative straight politician who supports traditional marriage and the libertarian gay politician who wants same-sex marriage legalised is amicable. It is so civilised and friendly that it enrages activists who view dissenters as an enemy class to be silenced, not ­befriended. They dislike civility and public reason because it ­exposes their intemperance.

Some outraged activists took to Twitter and any social media platform they could find to launch a queer fear blitz on beer.

The video to discuss the meaning of marriage featured Coopers beer that was produced as part of a joint Coopers and Bible Society campaign, “Keeping it Light”. The brewer has a long association with the society and the campaign ­includes a series of beer cartons with inspirational quotes from the Bible. Such quotes shouldn’t be controversial in any country, let alone a Christian-majority nation.

In the past, some wine companies have inscribed bottles with scripture. It appears that the Coopers case became controversial for two reasons. Firstly, the company has a relationship with a Christian organisation (very politically ­incorrect). Secondly, the video cele­brated public reason on the question of marriage, which is an issue the PC class wants to monopolise. It targets dissenters, regardless of whether they are gay, bisexual or straight. The aim is to shut down all debate to create ­absolute ideological conformity.

Several Coopers boycotters were associated with the Greens. Adam Bandt and Christine Milne backed the boycott, as did Jason Ball, who stood as Greens candidate in the last election. On Twitter, Ball wrote: “… conservative Christians buy up cases of alco­hol to smite gay people”. James Brechney, a Mardi Gras board member, led an online petition to boycott Coopers. It read: “Coopers recent alignment with the Bible Society, who are openly against Marriage Equality, is shameful!” Brechney described the conversation on marriage between parliamentary mates Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson thus: “A video where two Liberal Party MPs discuss the issue of same-sex marriage. It’s horrendous!”

On the Coopers Club forum, some members decried the company’s commercial relationship with a Christian group. However, when a member asked what they thought of Coopers’ halal certification, most declined to criticise the company’s relationship with an Islamic group. It is a double standard. Boycott and divestment campaigns against Christians or Jews are commonly justified while boycotts of Islamic organisations are deemed racist.

Coopers made the critical error of capitulating to PC bigotry. ­According to sources, the legal counsel for Coopers asked the Bible Society to take down the video. It is no longer available ­online. In a filmed apology, Tim and Melanie Cooper looked like a pair of thought reform victims in a re-education camp.

If you want liberty, democracy and Christianity to survive, never submit to the PC mob. In its ­response, Coopers might have stated simply that while the company didn’t finance the video, its ­leadership believes in free speech, freedom of association and a ­vibrant Australian democracy where mates can discuss any issue over a beer.

There was little to learn from the activist campaign against free speech between mates, but irony emerged in its wake. The biblical quote on Coopers’ controversial beer read: “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3:21).


Bob Brown defiant over Gillian Triggs fundraising speech

UPDATED: Bob Brown has issued a defiant message about Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs’ planned speaking engagement at a fundraiser for the former Greens leader.

Several Coalition MPs have criticised the booking of Professor Triggs at the Hobart dinner at the end of the month, saying she should withdraw or resign immediately from the Human Rights Commission.

Liberal backbencher Eric Abetz said the event appeared to contravene the Public Service Code of Conduct.

Mr Brown responded via Twitter today:  Professor Triggs has agreed to address the $50 per person fundraising event for the Bob Brown Foundation on the topic of “Fighting for our rights – a ‘fair go Australia’”.

Senator Abetz said: “For a senior public official like Professor Triggs to attend a blatant fundraising event for a left-wing political action group like the Bob Brown Foundation just displays once again a very poor level of judgement”.

“Professor Triggs is paid more than $400,000 each year by the taxpayer and is expected to be impartial. If Professor Triggs won’t withdraw then she should resign.

“There is no doubt that Dr Brown still has very deep links to the Australian Greens and that this event could in no way be impartial. As head of the HRC, she should be reconsidering her position.”

Senator Abetz said the fundraiser appearance was the latest in a long line of questionable decisions made by Professor Triggs.

“Between awarding compensation to a wife killer, looking into children in detention several years too late, dragging four university students before tribunals and courts for four years just to be found innocent over a Facebook post, misleading journalists and parliamentary committees and now this blatant political activism – you’ve got to wonder if we could do any worse,” he said. “The Australian people deserve better than this continued saga.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton also called for Professor Triggs to cancel her appearance or quit.

“Gillian Triggs has done enough damage to the office already,” Mr Dutton told The Daily Telegraph. “Surely for the sake of the people she purports to represent she should announce her candidacy for the Greens or step aside from the position.”

Professor Triggs is adamant the dinner is not a political event.

Although Dr Brown is no longer a politician, his foundation conducts activist campaigns with overtly political intentions.

“I have been assured by the organisers that the event is not a fundraiser,” she said. “The income from tickets will be used to cover the costs and any surplus will be donated to charity.”

“It is not a political event, but an annual Hobart oration. I am not being paid an appearance fee and my travel and accommodation costs are being covered by the organisers.”

Professor Triggs, who is supposed to be unbiased, will deliver a speech titled “Fighting for our rights — a fair go Australia’’ at a dinner for Dr Brown’s foundation in Hobart on March 30.


State Premier lies to cover up Greenie folly

His manic anti-coal hatred caused several major blackouts in South Australia

Business leaders have been left stunned after Jay Weatherill, during a debate a year out from the next state election, claimed that Alinta Energy had made no offer to keep the state’s last coal-fired power station open.

This is despite The Australian in August revealing correspondence between Alinta Energy and state Treasurer Tom Koutsan­tonis, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, in which the government rejected a transition plan to keep the Northern power station in Port Augusta open until 2018. The plant permanently shut in May, with immediate price ­surges of ­almost 75 per cent and a wind-reliant grid that has led to a spate of blackouts.

The government is continuing to deny access to 12 documents sought under FOI by the opposition, which are being reviewed by the ombudsman, and will not reveal how much financial assistance was sought by Alinta.

Yesterday, during a pre-election leaders’ debate hosted by Business SA and the Property Council, Mr Weatherill was asked by Opposition Leader Steven Marshall to “tell the 650 people here today” how much Alinta wanted to keep its baseload power station open to help with the transition to renewable power.

“It was put to you, it was put to cabinet, and it was rejected — tell us now whether it was much higher than the $550 million energy plan you’re now putting on the people of South Australia.”

As the audience applauded, the Premier shook his head. “They (Alinta) were never offering to do that, simple as that,” he said. Pressed by the debate moderator, the Premier insisted there was “absolutely” no offer on the table, but later said he would not reveal what Alinta had asked for.

FOI documents show Alinta took a firm transition plan seeking financial support to the government on May 6, 2015. A fortnight later, Mr Koutsantonis rejected the approach, advising chief executive Jeff Dimery that “the support requested would not be forthcoming”.

In a follow-up letter to Mr Dimery, the Treasurer said: “The government considered Alinta Energy’s revised proposal and is unable to accommodate the ­significantly increased funding request.”

Mr Dimery said in June 2015 that despite talks with the government to stay open, its policies to promote high levels of renewable energy generation had forced the power station’s closure.

Mr Weatherill this week recommitted SA to its 50 per cent renewable energy target, saying it had almost been achieved.

Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan last night said voters had the right to know what it would have cost to keep the Northern power station operating. He said it was understood the support requested by Alinta was less than 10 per cent of the $550m cost of the Weatherill government’s energy strategy.

“If there was no offer then why is a confidentiality gag in place and why is the government fighting 12 Freedom of Information applications?” he said.

The debate came a day after Mr Weatherill traded insults with federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg at an AGL announcement in Adelaide. Mr Frydenberg labelled the state’s new energy policy as the Premier’s “$550m admission of failure”.

Mr Weatherill on Tuesday said the state would “go it alone” and released a six-point energy plan.


CGT attacks are an example of the tall poppy syndrome
Herman Toh

This week has seen a renewed focus on targeting capital gains tax with the threat that the fifty per cent concession will be cut -- a proposal that rears its unattractive noggin on nearly an annual basis. Essentially, this means there will be an increase in taxes on capital.  Tall poppy syndrome seems to be going into overdrive. What next? A tax only for the rich!

There are several reasons why it would be a terrible idea to increase capital gains tax levels.

First, capital gains tax creates what is called the lock-in effect. Meaning, owners of assets are incentivised to hold onto assets to avoid paying capital gains tax. One example where this is most prevalent is the housing market where investors are taxed on an investment property. This creates a decrease in housing available for sale. With housing affordability as a hot-button issue, any action that causes a restriction on the supply side should be avoided.

Second, capital gains tax inflicts an additional burden on capital that has already been taxed. An example of that would be company shares. Any capital that is first earned by a company is taxed. The issue is that if the company retains the profit, it then increases the value of the company's shares. When the shares are sold, capital gains tax is applied.
The third reason is capital gains tax is not indexed to inflation. Taxing the inflation component increases the effective tax rate on savings above the official tax rate, as argued by the Henry Tax Review. This means capital gains can be overtaxed if there is no inflation adjustment. This works as another disincentive to invest .

Finally, there is a risk in any investment.  To reward the investors for contributing to the economy, a lower capital gain tax would provide incentives for people to invest. We need to stop demonising people for wanting to invest in housing or shares that help them make money. Neither are they cash cows to be milked whenever the government has a shortfall in the budget.


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, 2017

Is housing the homeless a good idea?

The report summarized below says that the monetary benefits outweigh the costs but I strongly suspect some courageous assumptions in their calculations.  Most people however do seem to want to get rough sleepers off the streets and out of the public parks so my suggestion would be the provision of domitories to which they can be taken rather than putting them into full accomodation. 

The people concerned generally have mental problems to at least some degree so we would not want them to reproduce.  And providing a full apartment to them might tend to encourage partnering and reproduction -- leading to a new dependent generation for the taxpayers to support.  By all means get them into safer quarters but limit what is provided for free

It's cheaper to provide last resort housing to homeless people than to leave them sleeping rough, a new cost-benefit analysis has found.

The analysis found governments and society benefit more than they spend by providing last resort housing to homeless individuals. This is mainly through reduced healthcare costs, reduced crime, and helping people get back into employment or education.

This comprehensive cost-benefit analysis was commissioned by a team of experts from the University of Melbourne, NGOs, and architecture firms. The analysis was conducted by consulting firm SGS Economics and Planning.

Key points:

The number of people sleeping rough in Melbourne's streets has increased by over 70% in the last two years. Homelessness is now at emergency levels. Key causes are the unaffordability of housing, people escaping domestic violence and a structural lack of social housing.

There has been a reduction in the supply of "last resort housing". Last resort housing refers to legal rooming and boarding houses, and emergency accommodation.

On average, more than 40 requests for last resort housing are turned down across Victoria every day.

Our analysis shows that the government providing one last resort bed will generate a net benefit of $216,000 over 20 years. That averages to a net benefit of $10,800 per year.

The majority of those benefits (75%) flow to society and the remainder to the individual.

For every $1 invested in last resort beds to address the homelessness crisis, $2.70 worth of benefits are generated for the community (over 20 years).

In other words, the benefits of providing last resort housing outweigh the costs. There is much to gain in economic and social terms, both for government and society, by assisting the homeless.

This is because if homeless individuals find stable accommodation they require less healthcare and fewer emergency admissions, and they are less likely to be involved in crime (both as victims and perpetrators). They are more likely to reconnect with employment and education. Homelessness also incurs property blighting and nuisance costs. Importantly, last resort housing can greatly improve the quality of life of individuals.

Our analysis shows that the form of last resort housing which makes the most sense economically is the construction of new, permanent stock - especially medium to large-sized facilities. Converting existing buildings, and subsidising private rentals, are both worth considering as well especially in the short term.

The commissioning team calls on governments to build more new, permanent last resort housing to help the homeless, because the benefits outweigh the costs. Existing last resort housing should be protected and maintained. These are issues for local, state and federal governments.

The commissioning team hopes the research presented in this report will be used to develop stronger business cases for - and ultimately generate substantial investment in - last resort housing.


We're failing to protect indigenous children for fear of another Stolen Generation

That's quite true.  But who is to blame for that?  It is unequivocally the fault of lying Leftist historians who pumped up normal social work among Aboriginal children into a "Stolen Generation".  Social workers went into self protective mode in response to that great slur by often refusing to rescue Aboriginal children for any reason whatsoever.  Who would want to become the object of a Leftist hate campaign?

Warren Mundine

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd lamented the high numbers of indigenous children being removed from their community and culture, saying: "We do not want another generation of young Aboriginal children unnecessarily separated from their culture. We do not want to see the emergence of a second Stolen Generation, not by design, but by default."

On ABC's The Drum, Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Price rebuked Rudd saying: "Indigenous children's lives must come before anything else." She also spoke of family members having "begged for children to be removed" and placed with non-indigenous families they know and trust only to have child protection workers say "No, No. It's their culture that's more important" or citing the Stolen Generation as justification for not removing them.

The fact is there are indigenous children living in the grip of dysfunction, abuse, family violence and addiction.

Report after report has found children exposed to some of the worst forms of violence, sexual assaults, psychological abuse and neglect imaginable.

Last year the NT's Coroner described family violence there as out of control with one child subjected to domestic violence and three witnessing it every day.

The Drum's official Facebook Page posted Price's interview with the caption: "Indigenous children's lives must come before anything else. even if it means taking them from their families. Jacinta Price shares her controversial view."

Since when is putting a child's life first "controversial"? It's the basis of Australia's child protection system and indigenous children have as much right to protection as any other. Of course children should know their culture and have the opportunity to be part of it. But that isn't more important than their right to live safely, free of abuse and violence and healthy, fed, clothed, housed, educated and loved.

If a child's extended family is rife with dysfunction, and many are, no family member may be able to care for them. And it's not always possible for indigenous children to be cared for in community. I've fostered children. It's a big responsibility. And if a child comes from a small, close knit community, where everyone has a kin relationship with everyone else, it may be impossible to protect a child if they remain there.

Unfortunately, sometimes it's a choice between a child's individual interests and the child living within their family, community and/or cultural group. This isn't a hard choice. The child's interests come first. Few people object to this principle when it comes to white children. When it comes to indigenous children it's sensitive or "controversial", as if their membership of a group is more important than their wellbeing. This mentality is racist.

Today's situation is nothing like the Stolen Generation. Indigenous children aren't being removed to assimilate them into white society in anticipation of indigenous extinction, but because of abuse and neglect at home. Last year, Victoria's Commission for Children and Young People released its report on services provided to Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in Victoria. Read the report and you'll find 88 per cent had experienced family violence and 87 per cent were exposed to parental alcohol/substance use.

Last November at the National Launch of the Family Matters campaign, Senator Pat Dodson described the high levels of indigenous children being removed from their families as "genocide". I disagree. Even the Victorian report says "Most Victorian Aboriginal children are cared for in loving families, where they are cherished, protected and nurtured, where their connection to community and culture is strong, their Koori identity is affirmed and they are thriving, empowered and safe."

Price's statement that child protection agencies justify leaving children in unsafe environments because culture is more important is shocking. This must stop. In the future there'll be another generation of indigenous people deserving an apology from government, not for removing them but for failing to protect them.


School standards drop as government pushes a politically correct program


PARENTS should be worried about the LGBTI Safe Schools gender and sexuality program being forced on government schools by Daniel Andrews' government.

Add the fact, as reported in The Australian recently, that vulnerable teenagers with intellectual disabilities enrolled in Victorian special schools are also being indoctrinated, and it's understandable why so many now call the program Un-Safe Schools.

Such was the furore last year about Safe Schools' indoctrinating of pupils with a Marxist-inspired curriculum, where gender is fluid and limitless and boys can be girls and girls can be boys, that the Commonwealth censored the program and cut its funding.

Not so in Victoria, where the uncensored version is being promoted. Education Minister James Merlino has said "Work is under way on expanding Safe Schools to all government schools by the end of 2018."

Supporters argue it is an anti-bullying program to make schools safer. Wrong.

Roz Ward, the Marxist academic responsible for its design, publicly admits its real purpose is to impose a radical, alternative view about gender and sexuality: "Safe Schools Coalition is about supporting gender and sexual diversity, not about stopping bullying." She says it's about "sexual diversity, about same-sex attraction, about being transgender, about being lesbian, gay, bisexual - say the words transgender, intersex".

While the government severed ties with Ward and La Trobe University's Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society late last year, the Safe Schools material is still guilty of advocating an extreme, cultural-Left view of gender and sexuality.

Notwithstanding that about 98 per cent of Australians identify as heterosexual and are comfortable being men and women, one of the resources, OMG I'M Queer, tells pupils that "sexuality can't really be defined". It is stated that "sexuality is fluid, and changes over time" and "Looking at sexuality as something that's fluid and always changing is pretty cool".

According to Safe Schools, "what you label yourself is up to you" as "common definitions of sexuality, gender and sex are often limited" and because gender and sexuality "exist on a spectrum rather than absolute binaries".

Ignored (as argued by the American College of Pediatricians, and with very rare exceptions) is that we are all born with either XY or XX chromosomes, and "Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species".

Even though most children are happy being boys or girls, the Safe Schools material argues "Gender isn't quite as simple as whether you're `male' or `female'. Everyone has their own gender identity in relation to masculinity or femininity". Victoria's version of Safe Schools also repeats the misleading statistics used by the LGBTI lobby when justifying the need for government funding and positive discrimination.

The All of Us booklet tells pupils 10 per cent of people are same-sex-attracted. Ignored is one of the largest Australian surveys, by Anthony Smith and Paul Badcock, Sexual identity and practices, that concludes only 1.6 per cent of men identify as gay and 0.8 per cent of women as lesbian.

On reading the Safe Schools material on the Victorian Department of Education and Training's website, parents are left in no doubt that Safe Schools is more about LGBTI advocacy than stopping bullying. Schools are told that language should be gender-neutral and, as a result, "Phrases like `ladies and gentlemen' or `boys and girls' should be avoided".

Schools are also told they should ensure, regardless of whether pupils are male and female, that they should be able to use "the toilets, changing rooms, showers and swimming facilities based on the student's gender identity and the facilities they feel most comfortable with".

Safe Schools is not the only alternative, cultural-Left program. The Respectful Relationships material is also one-sided and biased. Even though the Victorian royal commission concluded that 25 per cent of family violence involves men as victims, the Respectful Relationships program implies it's only women who are at risk. Boys and men are portrayed as misogynist and violent.

Once again gender is presented as a social construct that is impossible to define because whatever gender you are is "determined by what an individual feels and does and how individuals understand their identities including being a man, women, transgender, gender queer and many other gender positions".

But at the same time the government is forcing a politically correct gender and sexuality program on government schools, we are going backwards in international literacy and numeracy tests; we are now ranked 24th in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. So much for the basics.


The sun has set on Greens' dreams - and they may not be renewable

By GRAHAM RICHARDSON (They've taken most of his insides out but Richo's brain still seems to be working as well as ever.  He was always a realist)

Twenty years ago, the Greens were forming governments in Europe and were on the rise. In Australia, they even entertained dreams of winning power, state or federally. In all the words written and said about the election in Western Australia barely a sentence has been about the Greens. The Greens' dream has well and truly faded. Their vote has hovered about 10 per cent for all of those two decades and they have been utterly useless when it comes to convincing Australians to support them. They continue to run up their flag and they continue to see only that loyal 10 per cent prepared to salute.

During those two decades Australians have moved further to the right and the Greens, our only genuinely left-wing political party, are stuck on 10 per cent with almost no hope of ever seeing their support increase. It is disappointing that the Greens, like Labor, never seem to try to convince voters that man-made climate change is a big problem. They seem to assume that a big majority here believes in climate change. That may have been the case a decade ago but now the sceptics and the non-believers are able to argue the lack of evidence to support the onset of climate change without any real effort to defeat their arguments.

The blind pursuit of ridiculous renewable energy targets is a Greens push adopted by Labor and now works against them both.

I felt almost sorry for Jay Weatherill this week when he announced the building of this useless, mega-expensive battery farm. Flim-flam won't replace solid policy. The Greens led the South Australian Premier down the road to ruin and he acquiesced too quickly. The lights have gone out on South Australians several times now and the state Liberals, as pathetic as they appear to be, will no doubt turn the lights out on the Weatherill government at the next election.

Meanwhile, as if to reaffirm their vote of no confidence in the electorate, the Greens go further and further to the left. The bleatings of Sarah Hanson-Young served only to alienate ordinary Australians. The Greens' spend-up-big policies on every form of government endeavour frightens the horses. Then this week their leader, Richard Di Natale, scaled new heights of madness suggesting a four-day week. While the rest of us try to find ways to make this country more productive, the good old Greens want to take us backwards.

No party of the left can do well in Australia in today's electoral climate so the Greens are guaranteed to remain fringe players in the game of winning real power. Sure, they will win the odd inner-city seat and each time this occurs they will tell us that this is the dawn of a new era. The false dawns have come and gone before but the Greens are destined to be cellar dwellers for a very long time.

The goals of the Greens in some cases are absolutely right but time is never adequately allocated to achieve them. Renewable energy makes sense and I congratulate Malcolm Turnbull for seeking to increase by 50 per cent the output of the Snowy River Hydroelectric Scheme. This is real forward thinking, a commodity in short supply in our nation. It won't be enough on its own to solve our energy crisis but it is a giant stride in the right direction.

Let us all hope that it may embolden the Prime Minister to push for the building of other dams around Australia. We don't build dams any more on a continent infamous for its lack of water. Usually the Greens can find an endan-gered toad or rat that needs to be protected and judge its needs as much more important than the aspirations of a country looking for a drink or for some irrigation.


Malcolm Turnbull doubts there'll be much co-operation with the new secretary of the ACTU if she stands by her comments that the peak union is above "unjust laws"

Sally McManus, who was this week promoted inside the ACTU, has drawn criticism after suggesting it was OK to break unjust laws, with even Labor leader Bill Shorten disagreeing with her view.

"If she thinks that she and her unions are above the law then there's not much we can do with her I'm afraid," Mr Turnbull told 3AW's Neil Mitchell on Friday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a tour of a power station at the Snowy Hydro Scheme. c Lukas Coch/ AAP Image Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a tour of a power station at the Snowy Hydro Scheme. He equated her comments to a culture of thuggery as seen in the construction union.

Asked about something she wrote on social media last year claiming Mr Turnbull has no central beliefs which guide him, he said "that's just abuse, isn't it?"

He cited his commitment to freedom, to the liberty of the individual, to drive economic growth and nation building.

"I had the courage as prime minister to dissolve both houses of parliament so that we could get passed laws that would restore the rule of law to the construction sector," he said.

"A lot of people said we wouldn't succeed ... those laws have been passed."


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

19 March, 2017

The only way to save coral reefs: A war on global warming (?)

This utter BS first came out in Australian newspapers and I commented on it then.  I found the article below in the Boston Globe, however, so the nonsense has spread.  In the circumstances, I think I should repeat and amplify my earlier comments. 

Cape Grim tells us that CO2 levels have been plateaued on 401ppm since last July (midwinter)  So anything that has happened in the recent summer is NOT due to a rise in CO2. 

And NASA/GISS tell us that the December global temperature anomaly is back to .79 -- exactly where it was in 2014 before the recent El Nino event that covered the second half of 2015 and most of 2016.  So there has been no global warming in the recent Southern summer and there was no CO2 rise to cause anything anywhere anyway. 

The claim that this summer's bleaching was an effect of global warming is a complete crock for both reasons.  The data could not be clearer on that.  The seas around Northeast Australia may or may not be unusually warm at the moment but if they are it is some local effect of air and ocean currents etc. The warming in NOT a part of global warming

Reducing pollution and curbing overfishing won't prevent the severe bleaching that is killing coral at catastrophic rates, according to a study of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. In the end, researchers say, the only way to save the world's coral from heat-induced bleaching is with a war on global warming.

Scientists are quick to note that local protection of reefs can help damaged coral recover from the stress of rising ocean temperatures. But the new research shows that such efforts are ultimately futile when it comes to stopping bleaching in the first place.

"We don't have any tools to climate-proof corals," said Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia and lead author of the study being published on Thursday in the journal Nature. "That's a bit sobering. We can't stop bleaching locally. We actually have to do something about climate change."

Across the world, scores of brilliantly colored coral reefs once teeming with life have in recent years become desolate, white graveyards. Their deaths due to coral bleaching have grown more frequent as ocean temperatures rise, mainly due to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The hot water stresses corals, forcing them to expel the colorful algae living inside them, which leaves the corals vulnerable to disease and death. Given enough time, bleached coral can recover if the water cools, but if the temperature stays too high for too long, the coral will die.

Preserving coral reefs is crucial, given we depend on them for everything from food to medical research to protection from damaging coastal storms. Scientists and policymakers have thus been scrambling to find ways to prevent bleaching. Last year, for example, Hawaiian officials proposed several measures they hoped would fight bleaching on the state's reefs, such as limiting fishing, establishing new marine protected areas, and controlling polluted runoff from land. The question was whether such efforts could provide the corals any resistance to bleaching, or just help them recover.

The researchers conducted aerial and underwater surveys of the Great Barrier Reef, which has experienced three major bleaching events, the worst of which occurred last year. The scientists found that the severity of bleaching was tightly linked to how warm the water was. In the north, which experienced the hottest temperatures, hundreds of individual reefs suffered severe bleaching in 2016, regardless of whether the water quality was good or bad, or whether fishing had been banned. That means even the most pristine parts of the reef are just as prone to heat stress as those that are less protected.

Prior exposure to bleaching also did not appear to provide any protective benefit to the coral. The scientists found that the reefs that were highly bleached during the first two events, in 1998 and 2002, did not experience less severe bleaching last year.

Ultimately, the study concluded, saving reefs from the ravages of bleaching requires urgent action to reduce global warming.

"I think it's a wake-up call," Hughes said. "We've been hoping that local interventions with water quality and fishing would improve the resistance of the corals to bleaching. We found no evidence that that's actually true, at least during a very severe event."

The study shows that older ways of thinking about reef management, such as reducing river runoff, are now moot points when it comes to preventing bleaching, said Kim Cobb, a climate scientist and coral researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

"It all seems so quaint now, really," said Cobb, who wasn't part of the study. "A future that we thought was decades coming is basically here."

The research also illustrated the gravity of the situation facing the 1,400-mile Great Barrier Reef. The team found 91 percent of the reef has been bleached at least once during the three bleaching events. Even more alarming, Hughes said, is that a fourth bleaching event is already underway. Corals need years to recover from bleaching, so back-to-back events increase the possibility that the bleached coral will die.

The study shows that very intense coral bleaching events are no longer isolated and are happening more regularly, said coral reef scientist Julia Baum of Canada's University of Victoria. That assertion has been further bolstered by the Great Barrier Reef's latest bleaching event, which began a few weeks ago and which Baum says has stunned scientists.

"None of us were expecting the water to be heating up again right now," Baum said. "I think it's beyond what any of us could have imagined. It's our worst nightmare."


The foreign investor myth that's fooled us all

THE Australian property market is a complex beast.

Prospective homeowners are so desperate to get a foothold in the housing game they're putting off having children as they front up to dozens of open houses and auctions each weekend trying to find their forever homes. Yet in the very same suburbs, foreign investors - predominantly Chinese buyers - are snapping up properties they're happy to let languish unoccupied with no intention of ever living in them.

What's seen as the great Australian dream for one buyer is merely a place to park money for another.

The housing crisis looming over home-owning hopefuls is completely at odds with what's going on in the cashed up world of Chinese investors. At first glance it seems foreign investors are driving up prices by taking the homes first home buyers believe they deserve, but experts are not convinced the two are so easily linked.

Alarming figures published this week show one in every 10 homes in NSW is purchased by foreign investors - 11 per cent of property purchases - and some of those are being left vacant.

A closer look at the figures, according to the Australian Financial Review, shows the figures aren't as scary as they seem. Once you strip out home jointly purchased by Australian and foreign citizens or by dual citizens, the share of foreign buyers is just 8 per cent, and that includes permanent residents according to today's report.

While many call Australia - and their new properties - home, the motivation for the few overseas property moguls who keep their purchases vacant is generally either so the owners or their children can inhabit them at their whim when they want to visit, or simply to "offshore" some cash and wait to turn over a profit when they eventually sell. For this particular brand of investor, rental income is not an issue.

It seems unfair these houses should languish unoccupied and presumably be stripped from the market that young families are clambering to enter but, according to University of Sydney chair of urban and regional planning and policy Peter Phibbs, the two buying groups aren't always stepping on each other's toes.

"The Chinese investor is quite complicated and what they're after is not the same as what your average first homebuyer is looking for," he said.

"Often they want to live around Chinese people where there's Chinese food and culture. It's not like they're spread out all across the city. A lot of them are looking at apartment blocks in Chatswood where they're very dominant in that market.

"You can't imagine your first homebuyer that's trying to buy a crappy semi in the middle of the suburbs is going to have to fight a fight with an investor over that sort of property."

Prof Phibbs said it was important to bear these differences in mind when looking to pin the blame on high house prices on foreign buyers, particularly when many of them, anecdotally, were unconcerned with the livability of the properties they were investing in.

"Certainly if you've got a lot of money in China and you're a bit unsure about the direction of the regime, banking your cash in Australian real estate would be a good strategy," he said.

"That could be part of the reason why sometimes those increases in stamp duty in Victoria (imposed on foreign investors) haven't made too much difference. Some of that market is definitely not operating like a normal housing investor market, there are clearly buyers that are only interested in offshoring money."

He said often foreign buyers would barely consider the living conditions for their investment properties, seeing them as a banking mechanism rather than a home.

Last week the House Economics Committee review into Australia's four big banks heard that, in Melbourne, a glut of apartments had sprung up as foreign buyers failed to settle on property sales, and were having difficulty trying to offload properties "which may or may not be what the local buyers want".

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer told the committee local buyers rejected the lower quality apartments that Chinese buyers had put money into in favour of higher quality developments, the Australian Financial Review reported.

"Take an apartment building in the Docklands [Melbourne] that is a luxury building with a high-quality build and it's fine and we will back a good development with high quality local buyers. Some of those buildings will be fine," he said.

"You can go half a dozen blocks away and find another apartment building with a small footprint targeting overseas buyers who don't plan to live there and it's in trouble. You actually have to go building by building."

It's easy to rebuke foreign buyers for locking the rest of us out of the market, but if you look at it another way, without them the market would be a lot smaller.

Prof Phibbs said it was actually thanks to them that a lot of new developments were getting off the ground.

"You can't get finance for an apartment block without presales, and guess who's buying off the plan?" he said.

"By making that investment and boosting that supply, foreign buyers are in a way helping out domestic investors."

According to the Foreign Investment Review Board, the government's policy is to channel foreign investment into new dwellings "as this creates additional jobs in the construction industry and helps support economic growth".

When the new foreign investment rules were implemented, it was decided that foreign investment applications should be decided in light of the principle that "the proposed investment should increase Australia's housing stock" or contribute to creating at least one new additional dwelling.

In order to curb the number of foreign buyers flooding the real estate market, state governments have introduced a number of measures.

The NSW government last year introduced a four per cent foreign investors stamp duty surcharge, and Opposition Leader Luke Foley on Tuesday said if Labor was elected it would lift that to seven per cent and double the land tax.

Victoria has already boosted its stamp duty for foreign buyers to seven per cent, but it's made little impact.

NSW property industry leaders have slammed the suggestion of hiking surcharges for foreign buyers, saying it throttles supply.

According to Prof Phibbs, measures to reduce demand are "probably a good thing at the moment", and while it's important to remember property, like other markets, is now dealing in "a global market", slapping on extra fees to those who were least harmed by the housing crisis "couldn't hurt".


Literally no idea about literacy and numeracy

Blaise Joseph

In my entire teacher education degree, there was just one subject dedicated to learning how to teach literacy and numeracy. And ironically that subject included very little literacy and no numeracy.

It is unsurprising therefore -- but nonetheless concerning -- that it's necessary for the federal government to require students doing teacher education degrees to pass a literacy and numeracy test before they can be accredited to teach.

The test requires students to achieve the literacy and numeracy level equivalent to the top 30% of Australian adults (not the loftiest of goals). This week we learnt that over 5% of teacher education students didn't achieve the required level on the test in 2016 and another 3% had to re-sit the test, despite having already been admitted to a teacher education degree.

Students are charged $185 to sit the compulsory test -- and are then charged the same amount again if they have to re-sit it. They are entitled to wonder why they were admitted to an expensive teaching degree in the first place if their literacy and numeracy skills were not necessarily up to scratch.

This raises many questions. How has the quality of graduate intake in teaching degrees fallen so low that the ATAR cut-offs don't eliminate applicants who lack the literacy and numeracy levels required? What are universities actually covering in teaching degrees if an external test for literacy and numeracy is still needed? And are there teachers already in schools who don't have adequate literacy and numeracy skills themselves -- and so have no hope of passing on these basic skills to school students?

The absurdity of having to test the literacy and numeracy levels of teacher education students, who will soon be responsible for teaching literacy and numeracy, shows how from primary school through to university the Australian education system is failing to consistently get the basics right. No wonder Australia's school results have been declining in the international rankings.

It is a crucial problem that literacy and numeracy are not being taught as well as they could. They are the foundations of a proper education.


Headscarves ban: Bronnie urges Islamic headscarf ban in Australia

Bronwyn Bishop has urged Australians to "fight for our culture" while announcing her support of a ban on headscarves in Australia following a controversial ruling made in Europe overnight.  "It's an excellent ruling, an excellent ruling and I'd like to see a similar ruling here," Ms Bishop told Sydney's Macquarie Radio this afternoon.

The former politician and speaker in the House of Representatives was responding to a decision made in the European Court of Justice which may allow European companies to legally forbid employees from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols.

The court argued such a ban does not constitute "direct discrimination".

"The word discriminate gets banded around a hell of a lot doesn't it? But sometimes it's a good thing to be discriminating and it's a good thing to not tolerate the intolerable," said Ms Bishop told radio host Ben Fordham.

The ruling in Europe was a response to two cases presented by a Belgian and a French woman who were both fired for refusing to remove their headscarves in the workplace.

Ms Bishop, who resigned from Parliament in 2015 after a travel expenses scandal, says such a ban should be adopted in Australia. "I've said for a long time that young girls who are going to public schools in Australia should wear the school uniform and not a religious uniform," Ms Bishop said.

She also referenced the controversy surrounding Punchbowl High in Sydney's west, where alternative ways for pupils and female teachers to interact are being explored in response to religious beliefs that prevent males from shaking a woman's hand.

"Somehow people are saying a solution to that is they can put their hand on their heart," said Ms Bishop. "Well they can put their hand where they damn well like, but in this country, if a hand is put out by a woman, you take it. This is our culture and we have to fight for our culture."

"When I hear the Department of Education start to say it's okay for a boy to put his hand on his heart instead of taking a woman's hand is totally unacceptable. Because the belief behind that is that women are unclean. It just is totally unacceptable. In this country men and women are equal and if we don't, as women, stand up for that continually then we will lose that battle. I'm not prepared to lose it."


Bill Leak: silencing a larrikin spirit


I feel not only terrible sadness at Bill Leak's premature death but also anger and resentment.

Bill was not gunned down at his office, like the writers and artists of Charlie Hebdo, nor did a murderous Somali axeman break into his home, as happened to Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish Mohammed cartoonists, nor did he have his last public appearance shot up by a killer jihadist, as did Swedish artist Lars Vilks. But, as much as any of those, Bill was a target of what he called "the cartoonists hit list" and the wider war on free expression that has rampaged across the West this past decade.

Last October, he woke up to find that, after a cartoon arising from a then current controversy on Aboriginal policy, he was to be investigated by the Australian state's thought police. Indeed, the government's race discrimination commissar, Tim Soutphommasane, was so anxious to haul Bill up on a charge of "racial stereotyping" that he was advertising for plaintiffs: he urged anyone who was offended by it to lodge a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act.

As Bill's mate Tim Blair observed: "This is extraordinary. The Human Rights Commission is now preparing to sit in judgment in a case clearly already decided by one of the HRC's most senior officials. As Homer Simpson once asked: `Who made you Judge Judy and executioner?' "

In the way of apparatchiks everywhere, Commissar Soutphommasane insisted that his -verdict-first-trial-afterwards approach was all part of the vigorous public debate of a healthy democracy: "Cartoons will be subject to all matter of public debate. It's a healthy part of our democracy that we have that debate."

To which I responded: "Sorry. A legal action is not a `debate'. Mr Leak is being `subject to' not debate but state thought-policing - because ideological enforcers like Soutphommasane find debate too tiresome and its results too unpredictable. Which is why he gets a third of a million a year from Australian taxpayers to prevent debate."

Gillian Triggs, the chief commissar of the Australian "Human Rights" Commission, complained that Bill had refused to send her a written response "justifying" his cartoon. Good for him. As I wrote in The Australian at the time, you don't get into a debate with someone whose opening bid is "You can't say that": It's not a dispute with someone who holds a different position but with someone who denies your right to have a position at all - which is what Triggs and Soutphommasane are saying when they require you "to justify an 18D basis for the cartoon". (18D is the relevant section of Australia's crappy anti-free-speech law.) In healthy societies, the state does not require artists to "justify" art.

That was five months ago - the last five months, as it turned out, of Bill's life. So all that "healthy part of our democracy" didn't turn out that healthy for him. As I always say, the process is the punishment, and in this case it may well have proved fatally so.

I can't say for certain what toll the section 18 complaint took on him but I know something about the strain of being caught in the commissars' crosshairs from my own experience with section 13, Canada's equivalent.

I remember one day reading a legal analysis of my case that was all "Steyn this" and "Steyn that" and eventually concluded: "It will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court." And I realised that "it" referred to "Steyn", to me. I was no longer a "he", a flesh-and-blood human being called Mark, but an "it" - a legal matter that happened to share my name. I wonder if Bill ever felt like that under his cheery exterior: you become your case; the case gets bigger and bigger, and the real you becomes smaller and smaller. And, even as your life shrivels, far too many people who should know better swallow all that guff about how "it's a healthy part of our democracy".

Bill was not his case. He was a brilliant observer of the scene, an inventive joker, and a superb draughtsman, which these days too few editorial cartoonists are. One image, for example, pictured above, was on a familiar theme, at least to me - the Left's indulgence of Islamic supremacism. But it's made by the detail - the beard, the earrings, the pose, the trouser colour - and the contrast between the infantilised teacher and his pupils in their neat little English school uniforms.

Australia is not yet beheading infidels but it does drag apostates of the multiculti pieties into court - which is a difference merely of degree. As Blair wrote, Bill was "one of the sweetest, funniest and most generous people I've ever met" - but he was also braver and tougher than men of his prominence have found it prudent to be in this cowardly age.

Two years ago, after the Charlie Hebdo bloodbath, I got pretty sick pretty quickly of the bogus solidarity - not just the #JeSuisCharlie humbug hashtaggery but also the response of the victims' fellow cartoonists around the world, with their fey, limpid drawings of pencils shedding tears and pens mightier than swords, and other evasive twaddle, all of which would have made the dead of Charlie Hebdo puke. Everyone wanted the frisson of courage but without having to show any. Bill's attitude was truer to the spirit of the slain: one example was beautifully drawn - a beard protruding from the burka is a very nice touch - and, if you have to hold candlelit marches through the streets, #JeSuisMohammed would have made a much better slogan.

But you can also sense in it the difficulty a cartoonist faces in a world retreating into silence: you have to come up with something your newspaper will be willing to print. Can you draw Mohammed? Whoa, not in a Western newspaper, no. Can you suggest that someone in the cartoon might be Mohammed? Possibly - if you put him in a burka, with a beard dangling. What if your editor responds to the cardboard placard by saying, "Hang on, mate. Isn't `Je Suis Mohammed' French for `I am Mohammed'?" Well, maybe your line is "No, no, that's just someone showing solidarity with Mohammed" . like Helen Mirren wearing her "Je Suis Charlie" brooch to the Golden Globes.

It's an ingenious solution in an age when, with or without Commissar Triggs and section 18C, "justifying" your cartoon now goes with the job.

But that wasn't the cartoon Bill gave his readers in the days after the Charlie Hebdo slaughter. He drew the "Je Suis Mohammed" beardie-in-a-burka piece pictured above a few months later to accompany a speech he gave on the role of humour in today's world, and it nicely skewers the cartoonist's predicament in our times. In January 2015, in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, he offered a far more direct image: no burka, no ambivalence, just God and Mohammed shooting the breeze in the hereafter.

To their credit, his editors published it. When every other major Western newspaper was professing solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo dead yet refusing to show the reason they died - the Mohammed cartoons - The Australian actually published a new Mohammed cartoon.

Unlike the jihadists in Bill's picture, the real ones couldn't see the joke. So, after a gag about a "cartoonists hit list", the cartoonist wound up on an actual hit list, from Islamic State.

Distinctive-looking persons started showing up around his house. "What do you mean, `distinctive-looking'?" asked the coppers. So he got out his pencil and drew them. On my visit to Australia a year ago, Bill told me, in confidence (though he later went public with it), that as a result of death threats he and his family had been forced to leave their home, and live in a strange house in a new town under police protection.

This is the life of an Australian artist in the 21st century: you exist in a kind of precarious semi-liberty. Having friends over for dinner is a gamble - because if a careless friend mentions it to a friend of a friend, you'll have to move again, to another house in another town, further and further away from what used to be your life. There is a price for not taking refuge in bland, self-flattering hooey about weeping pens might-ier than swords.

Bill paid it without complaint. Last year I gave a speech in Sydney, followed by the usual book signing. It was a very long line that night, and you get a little punchy, head down, staggering from one autograph request to the next, one photograph to the next, and all you see is the guy at the front, not the fellows waiting patiently behind. So I didn't spot Bill until he was at the head of the queue, bantering amiably with those around him. "Who's next?" I asked, and the bloke whose book I'd just signed said breezily, "Australia's best cartoonist." Which is true.

I told Bill he needn't have stood in line - not because he's under Islamic State death threats (I didn't yet know that) and waiting in a slow-moving queue for an hour makes you a very inviting target even for the most incompetent jihadist, but because he could have pulled rank and demanded he get the VIP treatment. Come to that, we'd have been happy to let him have free copies of the five books he'd very generously purchased for friends and family. He scoffed at the suggestion and gave a characteristic Bill response: "That's not how we do things in Australia, Mark," he said, and grinned.

I would like to believe that. I real-ly would. But "how we do things in Australia" - and France, and Denmark and The Netherlands and Sweden and Canada - is what's at issue here. The Islamic State savages said, "That's not how we do things in the new caliphate" - and the Leak family was forced to move house.

And a few months later the goons of the state grievance industry decide to remind him just ex-actly "how we do things in Australia" these days: a man who is already living in hiding because murderous thugs don't like his cartoon has to be further tormented because hack bureaucrats and professional grievance-mongers don't like some other cartoon.

As I said that night in Sydney, these are merely different points on the same continuum: the Islamic State and the Australian state are both in the shut-up business, and proud of it. But for Bill this must have exacted an awful, cumulative toll. The "human rights" investigation was later quietly abandoned after the plaintiff decided to withdraw. The thought enforcers had made their point, they'd pinned the scarlet letter on him and persuaded fainter-hearted artists and writers that here's one more topic you might want to steer clear of. The silence of so many Australian journalists and cartoonists these past five months was more shameful than the accusations of his enemies.

I doubt this is how he thought his life would end up when he first came to public attention in the 1970s. He was a skilled and sensitive portraitist of Sir Don Bradman and other great Australians, and you can see in his paintings what he loved and cherished. He could have led just as successful a life far more quietly. But, when the Islamic Statists and the Australian statists alike decided to target him and his art, he didn't flinch. He understood the malign alliance between Islamic imperialism and a squishy, appeasing West. One of his cartoons shows a spotty T-shirted kid announcing he's off to join Islamic State in "the war on Western freedoms". "No need for that, son," says his dad. "They're giving them away."

And so we are.

Thirty-six hours before his sudden death, Bill held his last book launch, for a collection of cartoons called Trigger Warning. He was by all accounts on great form, calling political correctness "a poison that attacks the sense of humour" and that "infects an awful lot of precious little snowflakes". Other eminent Aussie free-speechers such as Anthony Morris QC were present. But I wonder, in the circumstances, given the state commissars' efforts to de-normalise him and criminalise his work, if his favourite moment during the event wasn't when proceedings were interrupted by the arrival of Australia's iconic cultural ambassador, Sir Les Patterson.

When they play the racism card against you, you always worry that, even if you win, the word's got out that you're no longer quite respectable or mainstream, and the wobblier A-listers among your mates will decide that discretion is the better part of full-throated support. Good for Barry Humphries for putting a stained and sodden arm around Bill on his last night out.

When I wrote my column on Bill's travails for The Australian, I quoted a report in The Economist on my own battles with the "human rights" commissions: "Much of Canada's press and many broadcasters are already noted for politically correct blandness. Some fear that the case can only make that worse. Mr Steyn and others hope it will prompt a narrower brief for the commissions, or even their abolition. As he put it in his blog, `I don't want to get off the hook. I want to take the hook and stick it up the collective butt of these thought police.'

And I added: "Canada's section 13 was eventually repealed. If I can get my hook past Australian Customs, I would be honoured to assist Mr Leak in performing the same service for Australia."

I meant that. Section 18C is a squalid and contemptible law incompatible with a free society. I hope one day that it will be gone - because "that's not how we do things in Australia". But, to return to where we came in, I am bitter and angry that for Bill Leak, a very great Australian, his long overdue victory will be a posthumous one.


A Leftist view of cartoonist Bill Leak.  To the The Leftist "Saturday paper" realism is racism

The Leftist "Saturday paper" is owned by an Israeli draft dodger and edited by a Peace Prize winner so its stories are fairly predictable.  Under the heading "The freedom of a coward", the paper refers to examples of Bill Leak's cartoons that give realistic impressions of life on Aboriginal settlements.  Such cartoons are "racist" said the paper.

To those who have never set foot outside the more affluent suburbs of our capital cities, the portrayals offered by Leak probably do seem grotesque.  For those of us who have had a lot to do with Aborigines, they are simply realistic.  We have seen in real life the sort of thing Leak portrayed.

So there is a issue here:  Is it permissible to say anything negative about minorities?  It's a strange retreat from reality when all minorities must be portrayed as without stain but that seems to be the Leftist position.  If not, why is Leak abused as a racist? 

Clearly the Left are not confronting the absurdity of their  assumptions.  But expecting any balance from them about anything is a big ask, of course

And if Bill was a racist is it not a little strange that he was married to a non-Caucasian person with the charming name of "Goong"?  In the Bogardus scale of social distance, marrying a minority person is the ultimate example of tolerance and lack of prejudice.  The Saturday Paper should be renamed the Saturday Propaganda.  There is no honour, depth or truth in them

Bill Leak was a racist. To pretend otherwise is a nonsense.

His death doesn’t change that. The culture warring obituaries don’t change that. The misguided plea of a former prime minister still squaring up against the national broadcaster doesn’t change that.

It was racism that drew a cartoon of two Aboriginal men drinking – they were always drinking – as they read about John Howard’s Northern Territory intervention. “Rape’s out, bashing’s out,” the speech bubble read. “This could set our culture back by 2000 years!..”

It was racism that drew a cartoon of two Aboriginal men drinking – they were always drinking – as a woman slumped battered behind them. Her exaggerated fat lips were made fatter by violence. Blood ran from her head and nose. A comedy of stars circled above her. The speech bubble: “Sheilas! You give ’em an enriching cultural experience and what thanks do you get??!!..”

They were the same men in both cartoons. For Leak, they were always the same men – grotesqueries of a culture his pictures deemed subhuman.

Bill Leak was not brave. There is nothing brave about the persecution of minorities. There is nothing brave about tracing clichés. Leak became a martyr for free speech but in reality he was a martyr for the right to be wrong. His was the freedom of a coward.

Leak’s late-career targets were rarely the powerful. At some point he gave up on genuine insight. About the same time, he gave up on being funny.

There is history to these cartoons. It is the history of a kind of racism that would not be published in another developed democracy anywhere in the world. Leak’s late cartoons drew on the tropes of colonial propaganda to demean and dehumanise an entire race of people. And that was before you got to the homophobia or the Islamophobia or any of the paranoias that drove his pen.

Bill Leak drew for a country that no longer exists. The majority of the words written since his death have been a kind of specious voodoo – a hope that Leak’s Australia could somehow be reanimated, that racist intimidation would once again dominate, that freedom of speech may be co-opted as a tool to keep down the future and the diversity of people who will make it.

The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, wrote this week that Leak represented “a nation at war over its core values”. He called him “an iconic figure in this struggle … the most important local symbol in the cultural disruption afflicting Western societies.” Leak’s bigotry, in Kelly’s mind, was a corrective to the progressives “dismantling the cultural norms and traditions that have made Western societies such as Australia so successful”.

These are bizarre assertions. They depend on the repression of minorities to maintain an ailing status quo. But this is what Leak spent his time doing.

There is nothing to celebrate in Bill Leak’s death. But there was little to celebrate in the last years of his cartoons, either.


 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, 2017

Did the police kill Corryn Rayney?

The police behaviour throughout this case has been unsatisfactory.  The courts have identified instances of that.  Even more unsatisfactory is the repeated refusal of the authorities to look for the real murderers after the flimsy case against Lloyd Rayney was thrown out. 

It all stinks of a frameup.  And there is a motive for a frameup. At the time of his arrest Lloyd Rayney was involved in a Corruption and Crime Commission inquiry into the misconduct of police officers in a murder investigation.  Did the cops want to get him off their backs and preferably put him away for a long time?

The day police stormed into the home of Perth barrister Lloyd Rayney to arrest him over the murder of his estranged wife has been described by his mother as "terrorism".

Molly Rayney testified for the first time in the WA Supreme Court on Wednesday during her son's multimillion-dollar defamation trial against the state government.

The 77-year-old was at her son's house in September 2007 when she heard banging at the front door and garage for several minutes.

At first, Mrs Rayney thought it was someone seeking refuge or a teenage prank, adding she never heard the doorbell ring or police sirens.

"There was no request or demands to be let in," she said in her statement.  "The whole time the banging was going on but no one was identifying who it was or saying anything at all."

Mrs Rayney said she felt intimidated by the loud banging and terrified.

"They eventually forced the doors open and stormed in. I then realised it was the police," she said. "If they had rung the doorbell or knocked normally on the front door, I would have let them in. "I felt this was a sheer act of intimidation and terrorism.

"I have had nightmares about this incident since that day and the sound of the banging rings in my ears. "I have always had great trust in the police but this has just thrown me."

Under cross-examination, Mrs Rayney was asked why she did not call police if she was so scared. "When you are terrified you don't actually have all your faculties," she replied.

Hours after Mr Rayney was arrested, Detective Senior Sergeant Jack Lee named him the prime and only suspect in the murder of Supreme Court registrar Corryn Rayney, who was found buried head-first in Kings Park a month earlier.

Mr Rayney has denied showing resistance to police during their investigation.

A video of his interview with police was previously played to the court in which he refused to answer questions about his wife's death, citing the legal advice he had received.

Mr Rayney was acquitted of murdering the mother-of-two in 2012 and an appeal was dismissed in 2013.

Prominent barrister Linda Black, who knew the couple, cried on Wednesday as she testified about theories she considered when her friend went missing. She said one theory was Ms Rayney took her own life, but she was a good mother and would not have done that to her children.

"It's horrible reading that now (in my statement) knowing what happened to her," she said.


Undisciplined Australian classroms holding kids back

I have been saying this for years -- JR

Things you would find in a classroom: a student pointing a replica gun at the teacher, an entire class deciding to ignore the teacher in silent protest, chairs thrown, threats and overturned desks.

Teachers came forward to tell the ABC about the biggest classroom disruptions they experienced.

It did not stop there. One teacher had three Year 9 boys skip her class and smear their poo all over the school gymnasium walls, while others had been cursed with the full spectrum of offensive profanities.

The list went on.and on.

Therefore, it would not come as a surprise that two global reports have revealed Australian classrooms are among the most disorderly of the OECD nations.

Australia has a "problematic situation" in terms of classroom discipline, according to the report on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

"About one-third of the students in advantaged schools, and about half of those in disadvantaged schools, reported that in most or every class there was noise and disorder, students didn't listen to what the teacher said, and that students found it difficult to learn," the report said.

Tasmania and New South Wales are problem areas

About 14,500 students from around 760 schools participated across Australia in PISA. Using science classes as a sample, it said on that average:

 *  More than 44 per cent of Australian students indicated there is noise and disorder

 *  Half of students in Tasmania and nearly half of students in New South Wales reported this problem occurring most frequently

 *  Students in Tasmania most frequently reported students don't listen to what the teacher says (48 per cent)

 *  In contrast, students in each of Victoria and Western Australia (30 per cent) and the Northern Territory (29 per cent) were least likely to report the teacher waits long for students to quiet down

Dr Sue Thompson from the Australian Council for Education and Research (ACER) said the environment is challenging for teachers.

"Level of noise and disorder reported in the classroom is one of the highest in the OECD [countries] and it's a problem at grade 4 and grade 8 level as well as at year 9 and 10 level," she said.

The respect is gone

The PISA report stated nearly 40 per cent of students in Australia attended schools where the principal indicated student learning was hindered by "teachers not meeting individual students' needs."

Principals also flagged inadequate infrastructure "hindered teacher capacity to provide instruction", with the issue identified by 25 per cent of principals of students from disadvantaged schools compared to 12 per cent from advantaged schools.

But one caller the ABC said there was another factor at play disrupting the learning process. "I think the respect [for teachers] has gone," she said.

She added that teachers often tried everything they could to engage students. "We split them up, move them around, try and put seating plans in place, engage them one to one. When you've got 30 of them in a class though you've got all different needs at once," she said.

Discipline is the issue

Dr Sue Thompson said the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) also revealed the impacts of classroom disruption.

According to the TIMSS there was "a clear relationship between the achievement of Australian students and principals' reports of school discipline problems, with fewer discipline problems associated with higher achievement".

The Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said teachers and principals need more support, as well as parents playing their part in addressing the issue.

"Parents must be part of the solution this cannot be something that rests on the shoulders of teachers and principals alone because attitudes, respect are of course formed as much in the home environment and the rest of life as they are in the school community itself," he said.

He said he would examine whether policy needs improving, and discuss the issue with his state and territory counterparts.


Labor's economics expert humiliates himself on share registry ignorance

Federal frontbencher Andrew Leigh has styled himself as Labor's go-to-guy on pointy-headed economic policy, as a Harvard PhD on the subject and a former professor at the Australian National University.

But on Monday, Dr Leigh put on the most incredible display of corporate/financial sector ignorance we have ever seen by a Treasury portfolio frontbencher. Period.

In an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald, the shadow assistant treasurer claimed that "five investors - HSBC, JPMorgan, National Nominees, Citicorp and BNP Paribas" are "the biggest owners" of Australia's largest listed companies. These shadowy "institutional investors" are "the Lexcorps and Cyberdynes of the Australian economy" and "what's surprising about this is that many Australians probably haven't heard of some of them."

Citing research he had conducted alongside ANU's Adam Triggs, he reckons HSBC "in petrol retailing, owns one-third of Caltex and one-fifth of Woolworths. In electricity it owns one-fifth of Origin and one-fifth of AGL. In life insurance, it owns a quarter of AMP and one-fifth of ANZ. In department stores and supermarkets, it owns one-fifth of Myer, David Jones, Wesfarmers and Woolworths."

But anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Australia's capital market knows that none of these five are major fund managers with mandates in Australian equities. They are nominees, or custodians, for the beneficial owners, or the actual fund managers (AMP, Perpetual) and super funds - including Labor's beloved industry super funds. In particular, you'd think the name "National Nominees" would've been something of a giveaway! And adequately explains why most Australians have never heard of them.

Twitter was quick to pour scorn on the good doctor (for a doctor he is, Gerard). Indeed the new boss of the SMH's bureau in the Canberra Press Gallery James Chessell tweeted him on Monday morning, asking "are you sure you aren't confusing custodians with actual shareholders? HSBC doesn't own 1/3 of Caltex."

Our fellow columnist and fundie himself Christopher Joye followed. "Andrew your research is totally wrong: the 5 firms are all custodians acting as trustees for other investors."

Then came the Menzies Research Centre's economist Andrew Bragg. "Every 2 years a sloppy report appears confusing nominee companies for actual investors."

Except the sloppy reports have never before been authored by the country's next assistant treasurer, responsible for this country's financial services industry. Oh dear.


'Snowy Hydro 2.0': Malcolm Turnbull announces plans for $2 billion expansion

This looks like being a very clever way of bypassing Greenie protest but it is very expensive.  You could build several coal-fired stations for the same cost

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed plans for a $2 billion expansion of the iconic Snowy Hydro scheme that could power up to 500,000 homes through a new network of tunnels and power stations.

The surprise intervention, a potential game-changer in the political brawl over flaws in the nation's electricity system, will increase the scheme's 4100 megawatt capacity by as much as 50 per cent.

The four-year project would massively increase the amount of renewable energy storage capacity in Australia through pumped hydro technology, which involves using cheap electricity to pump water uphill so it can be later released downhill through turbines, creating electricity when demand is high.

No new dams would be built, but a fresh series of tunnels and power stations are on the agenda, at an estimated cost of $1.5 to $2 billion. A feasibility study should be completed by the end of 2017 and the search for expansions sites will led by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The Tantangara Dam is understood to be an early area of interest.

The Snowy Hydro Scheme as seen from the air. c Supplied The Snowy Hydro Scheme as seen from the air. The Snowy Hydro scheme was instigated under Labor prime minister Ben Chifley in 1949 and completed in 1974. About 100,000 men and women from more than 30 countries helped build a network of nine power stations, 16 dams, 145 kilometres of tunnels, and 80 kilometres of aqueducts.

The Commonwealth owns 13 per cent of the scheme, NSW 58 per cent and the Victorian government 29 per cent. Those state governments could also be asked to assist with funding the expansion.

Mr Turnbull said the Snowy Hydro had been built with the capability to be expanded and his government planned to maximise its capacity.

"The unprecedented expansion will help make renewables reliable, filling in holes caused by intermittent supply and generator outages. It will enable greater energy efficiency and help stabilise electricity supply into the future," Mr Turnbull said.

"By supercharging the Snowy Hydro precinct, we can ensure affordable and reliable electricity for Australian households and businesses."

"It will enable greater energy efficiency": Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said of the Snowy Hydro expansion. c Andrew Meares "It will enable greater energy efficiency": Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said of the Snowy Hydro expansion. Mr Turnbull said the expansion would create thousands of engineering and construction jobs and have no impact on water supplied water to irrigators in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.

It would also effectively kill off any short or medium-term to privatise the scheme, which was raised by the Coalition's Commission of Audit in 2014. The Howard government considered privatisation in 2006, but later dropped it.

The proposed expansion could, in one hour, produce 20 times the 100 megawatts of power from the proposed battery farm announced by the South Australian government earlier this week.

Mr Turnbull will make the announcement in the heart of the Snowy Mountains on Thursday morning, a day after meeting the chief executives of major east coast companies and securing guarantees of additional supply for the domestic market during peak periods.

Earlier this week, Mr Turnbull was also briefed by ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht on pumped hydro storage.

Australia currently has 2.5 gigawatts of pumped hydro power capacity, with most of it from three projects: the Tumut 3 plant in the Snowy, the Wivenhoe Dam near Brisbane and the Shoalhaven scheme south of Sydney. All three projects are used for electricity generation, water storage and irrigation and if all operated at full capacity, they could power 3.3 million homes


Breaking `unjust' laws OK: ACTU boss

Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne has described new ACTU secretary Sally McManus's declaration that she does not have a problem with unions and workers breaking "unjust" laws as "anarcho-Marxist claptrap".

Ms McManus was last night questioned about whether the peak union body would distance itself from the -unlawful conduct of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, telling ABC's 7.30: "There's no way we'll be doing that. I tell you this: the CFMEU, when they've been fined, they've been fined for taking industrial action. It might be -illegal industrial action according to our current laws, and our current laws are wrong."

Ms McManus, who intends to lead unions on a campaign to ease legal restrictions on the right to strike, said it should not be so hard for workers to take legal industrial action when necessary. "I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair and the law is right," she said. "But when it's unjust, I don't think there's a problem with breaking it."

Mr Pyne said Ms McManus's comments were "the kind of anarcho-Marxist claptrap we used to hear from anarchists at Adelaide University in the 1980s."  "The reality is the rule of law is required to be followed by all Australians otherwise we'll have chaos," he told ABC radio.  "The fact that this new secretary of the ACTU would even say such an absurd thing indicates that she is not capable of doing the job."

Bill Shorten last night moved to distance himself from Ms McManus, saying that those who thought a law was unjust should try to change it through the democratic process.  "That's the great thing about living in a country like Australia. That's what democracy is about," Mr Shorten said. "We -believe in changing bad laws, not breaking them."

But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton hit out at the Opposition Leader this morning for failing to distance himself from the union movement over the comments.  "It's unbelievable if we look at the words of Bill Shorten overnight, basically he just noted the comments," he told 2GB.  "He didn't say that she should retract them, he didn't say that it was offensive that this woman was saying that people should act outside the law.  "She's got a leadership position as the head union boss in the country."

"The CFMEU basically are running around as the modern day Teamsters, breaking arms and extorting money and carrying on across building sites, and Bill Shorten had nothing to say about it.

Mr Dutton said the trade union royal commission had head evidence that hundreds of people within the CFMEU had been charged and convicted of criminal offences.  "This woman says that she won't distance the ACTU from the CFMEU and Bill Shorten the same, says that they should conduct their activities as they are and continue on," he said. "In my mind it's a test of leadership for Mr Shorten and he's failed yet again.

"He's got to stand up to these people and surely, if people are advocating that union members should act outside of the law and the CFMEU have been charged and convicted of criminal offences, surely the alternative prime minister in this country has to show some leadership and say that they should be condemned or that they should withdraw comments, and I think again last night Mr Shorten demonstrated how absolutely 100 per cent beholden he is to the union bosses."

Liberal frontbencher Craig Laundy said he hoped Ms McManus would do as many press conferences and media appearances as possible. "It shows you that it's a unique set of circumstances. Only the union movement could quite clearly promote an anarchist to its key position, and I just hope she keeps finding the nearest camera every day and telling us what she thinks," he told Sky news.

"I think the more she does that, the more Australians will see that unions aren't there for the worker, they're there for anarchy and lawlessness, and that's exactly why we had to fight through and get the ABCC through, so that we could bring the rule of law back.  "If you want a more pressing and relevant recent example, look to that interview last night. I hope she keeps talking."

Mr Pyne said Western democracy depended upon citizens abiding by the law.  "That's why Australia is a great country and this kind of ideological gobbledegook from the secretary of the ACTU only proves that the ACTU has not changed from their past of trying to disrupt workplaces, trying to disrupt our economy, and if that's what the secretary of the ACTU thinks, she has no place being there and she should resign and give the job to someone who has a modern, forward-looking view of the relationship between employers and employees."

South Australian Labor MP Nick Champion urged every unionist in the country to change unjust laws by democratic means.  "That's at the ballot box," he told Sky News. "That's traditionally the way we've done it, and these are profoundly unjust laws.  "They give builders, they give plumbers , they give electricians in the construction industry less rights than drug dealers.

"I believe that laws should be changed via democratic means by parliamentarians, by a good Labor government making laws safe and just for workers."

Questioned about whether the peak union body would distance itself from the -unlawful conduct of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Ms McManus told ABC's 7.30 last night: "There's no way we'll be doing that. I tell you this: the CFMEU, when they've been fined, they've been fined for taking industrial action. It might be -illegal industrial action according to our current laws, and our current laws are wrong."

Ms McManus, who intends to lead unions on a campaign to ease legal restrictions on the right to strike, said it should not be so hard for workers to take legal industrial action when necessary. "I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair and the law is right," she said. "But when it's unjust, I don't think there's a problem with breaking it."

The Prime Minister accused the ACTU secretary last night of seeking to be above the law.  "The rule of law is fundamental to everything that Australia believes in: democracy and freedom," Mr Turnbull said.

"Militant unions have used bullying and standover tactics to trash the rule of law on worksites, and now one of Australia's most senior union bosses says the law should only apply when you agree with it.  "Is this what Bill Shorten means when he says he'll govern Australia like a union boss?

"This flagrant disregard for the rule of law by unions is what has plagued Australian workplaces over many decades. This is an explicit and outrageous -admission Labor's puppet masters believe they are above the law. We do not condone breaking the law - not now, not ever."

While the CFMEU welcomed Ms McManus's remarks, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson said the comments would not be tolerated from a business leader and represented a disturbing signal from the union movement. "It indicates that the spirit of the CFMEU has infected the ACTU," Mr Pearson said.

He said his initial response to the appointment of Ms -McManus had been to hope that business could work construct-ively with the ACTU, "but if this is an accurate reflection of her views of the law of the land, then that would make it hard to do that.

"You can only imagine what the reaction would be if a chief executive at a public company said this. It would not be tolerated."

CFMEU Victorian secretary John Setka told a Melbourne rally last week that "bad laws throughout history have been changed by people like yourselves defying them and breaking them".


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

16 March, 2017

Why Coopers boycott is a disgrace

WHAT is happening to this country? There isn’t anything more Australian than two people sitting down, sharing a drink and having a yarn. Our core culture is built around this activity.

Our diversity and inclusiveness as a nation — by far one of the friendliest and most tolerant on the planet — has long been lubricated by people sitting down and sharing a drink together as they explore their differences, sort out their differences or just accept their differences.

And now we have this travesty. A beer boycott by inner-city hipsters who think they are right-on but actually are just outing themselves as ignorant twats.

If you haven’t heard, a bunch of pubs and bars in the “progressive” parts of Sydney and Melbourne have banned beers made by Coopers after the Bible Society produced a video featuring a debate about gay marriage.

Released last week, “Keeping it Light” features Liberal MP and former human rights commissioner Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie having a “light discussion” on the “heavy topic” of gay marriage over a Coopers beer.

Wilson, who supports gay marriage, and Hastie, a conservative Christian in favour of traditional marriage, are each asked to state their case and then say which element of the other’s argument they found most convincing.

Coopers has released a statement saying it didn’t have any involvement in the video featuring its beer.

The video shows two perfectly respectable people offering two perfectly respectable but differing points of view.

The aim of the video is to foster rational and measured discussion about an important issue. What it’s done is flush some bigots out of their beard-grooming salons.

Bigots are people who are intolerant of other people’s points of view. The majority of Australia’s population can’t cop bigots.

The actions of the pubs and bars who have boycotted Coopers beer because of its appearance in the video are disgraceful. It is bigotry, pure and simple.

These venues are attacking an innocent party. They are having a hissy fit because an alternate view to the one they hold was given equal weight, and are punishing a neutral bystander to the exchange.

A cynic might say it is a marketing exercise to ingratiate themselves to their customer base. If that’s the case, shame on them.

What they should do is invite Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie to their venues and use the occasion as a vehicle to promote inclusion, tolerance and recognition, the very things the gay marriage lobby are pleading for, and what the Bible society was hoping to foster. A society that accommodates opposing points of view is an admirable one.

Coopers will survive this. It is one of Australia’s great businesses and is a good corporate citizen. People love the company’s beer, and it is the largest Australian-owned brewery.

When Thomas Cooper first started making beer in Adelaide in 1862, Australia was a young country full of promise. The old codger had a beard that would make him feel right at home in the pubs and bars banning his beers. If he knew how prejudiced they were he wouldn’t be seen dead in them.

Beer has helped Australia recover from a dozen wars. Beer has helped people from dozens of nations assimilate into a country far from their original homes. Beer has been witness to our country’s greatest triumphs.

To ban a particular beer for no reason at all is bloody well un-Australian.


ABC has not learned the Trump lesson

Slavish devotion to minority causes tends to piss off the majority

IT seems to me the ABC is trying its hardest to become redundant. It focuses on progressive causes at the expense of reporting the news. No wonder it’s haemorrhaging viewers.

While the Brisbane ABC newsroom presents reasonably straightforward reports, the national shows like Q&A, Insiders and even the 7.30 Report have a distinctive left wing twang. It panders to the inner-city elites and leaves the rest of us scratching our heads.

I no longer turn to the ABC for the facts. I know I will not get balance and depth of coverage free from political influence.

And today ABC is again making the news rather than reporting it.

It has declined to apologise to the family of cartoonist Bill Leak for an on-air outburst in which an activist interrupted Monday’s Q&A program by calling him a racist,

Senator Seselja, who is Assistant Minister for Multicultural ­Affairs, yesterday labelled the protesters “a disgrace”, accusing them of “dancing on the grave of Bill Leak”.

“You really have a continuation of some of the Twitter ­hatred that’s been directed ­towards Bill Leak in his death, and I would just say to those individuals to perhaps have a little bit of decency and a little bit of compassion,” he told Sky News.

Senator Seselja said the pursuit of Leak over the cartoon through a complaint to the Human Rights Commission under section 18C had highlighted failures in the way the law dealt with race-hate allegations.

It is further proof the ABC has lost the plot and should be defunded.

Its broadcasters remain in denial about the threat of Islamic extremism and everything it touched reeks of political correctness.

Aunty, meanwhile, continues to pander to unions by giving them too much airplay. The ABC fuelled the hate campaign against Tony Abbott until his authority was so weakened he had to be removed.

It’s time our national broadcaster went back to its roots and did some in-depth reporting on the union underbelly controlling state and federal governments.

And I would like to see Aunty should stick to its original charter of providing radio and television and get out of digital this and online that. The ABC pays people to run no fewer than 350 websites. Why? It’s overkill and costly and you are paying for it.


Battery storage may have its place but this isn’t it

South Australia’s emergency power plan proves that battery storage is a fringe response rather than a durable solution to the state’s electricity woes.

Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk has milked South Australia’s problems for plenty of publicity to coincide with the launch of his new Powerwall 2 battery in Australia.

But Musk’s money-back guarantee always was on meeting a 100-day installation deadline rather than actually fixing South Australia’s problems caused by its over-reliance on intermittent wind and solar.

To the dismay of armchair electrical engineers, Premier Jay Weatherill yesterday confirmed the solution to South Australia’s blackout problems would overwhelmingly be gas.

Showing the hide of a rhinoceros, Weatherill cast the blame for South Australia’s predicament far and wide.

But the cost of the latest instalment in a decade of electricity adventurism will be paid by South Australian taxpayers and long-suffering electricity users.

Sure, South Australia will deploy a big bank of batteries to smooth out the peaks in demand — equal to several minutes of total state requirements, but the heavy lifting will be done by a new taxpayer-owned peaking gas plant and a raft of state impositions. Electricity consumers will be forced to buy a set ­portion of state-generated gas-fired power rather than cheaper coal-fired power from Victoria.

This is supposed to encourage private investment in more gas-fired power in the state.

To get the gas, South Australia will give a share of taxpayers’ royalties to landholders where the gas is drilled.

More state regulation will mandate that new gas stays in South Australia.

This all adds up to an expensive fix and slippery slope to further ­nationalisation.

With the heavy emphasis on peaking power, it still begs the question of what will happen when doldrum conditions again strand wind turbines for long periods over summer?

Batteries may have their place, but this is not it.

The incredulity shown by a new army of battery fetishists to the South Australian plan’s emphasis on gas shows how tough it will be to find a durable fix for energy ­policy nationally.


Education's 4C's do not exist without the 3R's

Jennifer Buckingham

Almost every day, a new evangelist for so-called '21st Century' learning makes a heartfelt plea for schools to throw off the shackles of having to teach children to be proficient readers and fluent writers, competent in arithmetic, and knowledgeable about the world they live in.

Instead of the 3 'R's, which is code for old-fashioned and fusty, these visionaries argue schools should focus on the 4 'C's -- creativity, critical reflection, collaboration, and communication (what a stroke of luck they all start with the same letter!).

Apart from the obvious observation that the 4Cs came in quite handy prior to the current century, there are a couple of problems with this argument.

Foremost, the 4Cs depend upon the 3Rs. A person cannot think creatively or critically if they don't know anything to think creatively or critically about. Likewise, a child who cannot read will not easily acquire knowledge and a child who cannot write will struggle to effectively communicate what they know and think. Sadly, there are hundreds of thousands of Australian students who cannot read or write.

Furthermore, it is a serious but common misconception that the 4Cs are generic skills, whereas cognitive science research has shown they are domain specific. That is, thinking critically and creatively about physics is different to thinking critically and creatively about English literature. Sophisticated levels of communication require explicit knowledge of the subject matter in question.

The generic skills misconception derives from the constructivist theory of learning -- that children are naturally disposed to seek knowledge and understanding, and only require adults to facilitate their self-guided journey of discovery. This is the 'learning how to learn' trope that was invalidated by scientific research not long after Vatican II.

Nonetheless, constructivist theory continues to lead many schools to embrace inquiry-based learning pedagogies, even though there is copious evidence that they are much less effective than other methods for children learning new and difficult concepts and facts, especially when compared to explicit instruction.

And, despite the evidence, new multimillion dollar, architect-designed schools are being built specifically to encourage and accommodate inquiry-based learning pedagogies. (Meanwhile, high performing primary schools are putting the walls back into open classrooms because they know they don't work.)

It is easy to be seduced by the idea that children only need a wifi-connected tablet computer, a bean bag, and a caring adult nearby to gain all the complex knowledge the best brains in history labored over for centuries. But the reality is that children will always need the 3Rs, and expert teaching -- and by extension, expert teachers -- are still necessary.


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, 2017

The dream has died. "Green" South Australia returns to "fossil fuels"

Natural gas is a "fossil fuel" (a hydroCARBON)

THE South Australian government has unveiled ambitious new plans to build a gas power station and battery storage facility to try and fix its power problems.

Premier Jay Weatherill announced the $550 million six-point plan during a press conference this morning.

He said the events of February 8 were a powerful indication of a broken national electricity market.

"On that occasion, we had a private national electricity market that chose to black-out South Australians rather than turn on a power station," Mr Weatherill said. "This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs."

Mr Weatherill’s plan involves the state government building Australia’s largest battery facility to store renewable energy and a new 250 megawatt gas-fired power plant.

According to The Advertiser, the new power plant is expected to cost $360 million and would deliver close to 10 per cent of the state’s peak demand.

Mr Weatherill said the government would own the plant but it had not just established who would run and maintain it.

The battery storage would be funded as part of a new $150 million renewable technology fund.

The government would also encourage the construction of a new privately-owned power station using a government bulk buy power contract.

Other elements of the strategy include legislation to give the Energy Minister direct power to intervene in the electricity market and force power stations to fire up in times of need.

The government will also set an "energy security target" to force electricity retailers to buy 36 per cent of their power from locally-generated baseload sources in SA.

Mr Weatherill said he wanted to put South Australian gas ahead of Victorian coal, and to ensure South Australian power was reserved for South Australians.

"We have expert advice that this will reduce the price of electricity when competitive pressures are returned to the market, which this plans to achieve," he said.

Mr Weatherill said he couldn’t guarantee that South Australia would never be blacked out again but expert advice said the plan would help reduce the risk.

"I can’t guarantee what happens with the weather. If a tree falls on a power line it will black-out a suburb. I can’t guarantee that won’t happen," he said.

"Without this, we are at risk of increased blackouts and load shedding. That is why this plan is essential."

When asked whether it would have been cheaper to pay the Port Augusta coal-fired power station to fire up, Mr Weatherill said it didn’t offer what the state needed.

"What we have here is an ageing coal-fired power station that couldn’t guarantee its capacity to gain the fuel necessary at an economic price to secure its future," he said. "That is the past. We are talking about the future."

Mr Weatherill said he hadn’t told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yet about the state’s plan but hoped to do so soon.

He said that the government-owned gas power plant would be there provide for peak demand and emergency responses.

"In the long term it also sits there as an investment in new generation capacity here in SA," he said.

"The private sector is not building new generation. That is why government is stepping up and taking control of our energy future by investing in new generation."


Climate Institute to shut due to lack of public support

A lot of Greenie enterprises would lapse except for their access to the government teat

Australia's original climate change-focused think-tank and lobby group will shut after it failed to replace the multi-million-dollar bequest it relied on.

The Climate Institute, known for its research and leading role in public debate since being set up in 2005, will close in June.

It comes 18 months after the institute called for public donations to offset the lapsing of the foundational support set up by Rupert Murdoch's niece, Eve Kantor, and her husband, farmer Mark Wootton.

Mr Wootton, also the institute's chairman, said he was proud that the institute had built understanding of a complex issue during a tumultuous time in Australian public life.

He said he was particularly gratified to have seen the shift in the business and finance communities, where many who were opposed to the institute's goals had in recent years become allies.

"We are disappointed that some in government prefer to treat what should be a risk-management issue as a proxy for political and ideological battles," he said.

"They are increasingly isolated as the costs of inaction mount and the opportunities and benefits of action become ever clearer."

Where membership-based environment groups are necessarily focused on building grassroots support in the community, the Climate Institute has developed a reputation for policy analysis and building partnerships across the ideological spectrum.

It played a central role in the campaign for a limit on greenhouse gas emissions, and in bringing together groups representing business, investors, unions and the welfare sector to push for change.

It also focused on improving understanding of the importance of climate risk-management in the financial sector, particularly superannuation funds.


Muslim leader claims authorities have been 'turning a blind eye' to radicalised students at Punchbowl Boys High School for 'years'

A prominent Muslim community leader claimed extremism has been a problem at Punchbowl Boys High School for at least six years.

Jamal Daoud said he heard concerns about radicalisation at the Sydney public school since 2011, and the NSW Government should have acted years ago.  'It's been going on for years,' he claimed.

'I had a friend whose son attended the school and was worried about extremism... there was violence and radical name-calling,' he told the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Daoud claimed the government had 'turned a blind eye' to students who were supporting Islamic extremism and called for a 'holistic' approach to the problem. 

He said radicalisation 'spread like a disease' and the source needed to be investigated - including looking into mosques linked to the school.

'It is an organised process that starts at home, school and at the mosque,' Mr Daoud said.

'My friend whose son attended the school himself ended up becoming radicalised and the things he had once seen as wrong, he started to see as right.'

Punchbowl High's Muslim convert principal Chris Griffiths and his deputy Joumana Dennaoui were dumped earlier this month after an investigation.

NSW Education boss Mark Scott said Mr Griffiths blocked an anti-radicalisation program, which lead to them being removed from their positions.

The school was identified as one of 19 New South Wales schools at risk of radicalising Muslim students.

It followed a series of allegations by staff, parents, and students into Mr Griffiths' running of the school, with Mr Scott conceding it was 'off the rails'.

Mr Griffiths allegedly stopping female teachers from participating in official events such as the Year 12 graduation ceremony.

He was also said to be trying to make the school Muslim-only, preventing police liaison officers from entering - with 'actively hostile' relations so bad they couldn't get in for 2.5 years.

Police were 'concerned about his rhetoric' and felt he was leading students down a 'dangerous path', after they had good relations when his predecessor Jihad Dib was in charge.

'Students were being told that if 'the pigs' stop you, to film them and refuse their directions,' a senior constable told the Telegraph.

Several employees claimed non-Muslim staff were verbally attacked, including with threats of beheading, by Muslim students declaring themselves ISIS sympathisers.

Non-Muslim students said they were bullied into attending Muslim prayers, lectures on the Koran and cut their hair to conform to Islam.

Another student allegedly attacked a teacher last year after refusing to participate in an anti-radicalisation program.

There was no suggestion either Mr Griffiths or Ms Dennaoui condoned the threats or incidents, but they were not reported to police.

Then, just as Mr Griffiths' replacement Robert Patruno took over, two men of Middle Eastern appearance, aged 19 and 20, allegedly threatened him. 'We're going to get you. We're going to f*** you up, you dog. F*** you,' the men allegedly said, according to the Telegraph.

Undeterred, Mr Patruno vowed to tackle radicalisation and sexism at the school by implementing the Stronger Communities Working Together program - and fly the Australian flag every day.

'It all comes down to education. If there is those values in the school, I'm going to address them. I'm not going to turn my back on them,' he said.


Whistleblower suing Federal cops over reprisals

AN Australian Federal Police agent is claiming $10.3 million in damages from the organisation for allegedly seeking reprisal against him after he became a whistleblower.

AFP agent Bradley Turner, 37, who is on worker’s compensation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through Comcare, is suing the AFP in the Federal Court of Australia for allegedly breaching the Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Act.

The Act was introduced in 2013 to encourage public officials to report suspected wrongdoing in the Australian public sector and to "offer protection to ‘whistleblowers’ from reprisal action".

But Mr Turner said the organisation failed to abide by the Act when he reported "government sanctioned ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and corruption" to the AFP in Lae, Papua New Guinea, while he was deployed there in 2013-14.

The AFP members deployed to PNG under the International Deployment Group are based there as advisers and mentors to PNG Police and don’t have powers to enforce laws.

According to Mr Turner, AFP responded to his reports of PNG Police misconduct by leading "constant internal investigations into (him) for being a whistleblower", and allegedly tried to "ruin (his) reputation" by discrediting him.

"When I told internal affairs their investigation was illegal because I had protections under the Act, I was told ‘we don’t give a sh*t about that, you spoke out and will be dealt with," Mr Turner told

"They told other AFP members not to talk to me, you name it, they went for the jugular".

A spokesperson for the AFP told the organisation "does not comment on matters that are the subject of court proceedings".
AFP officer Brad Turner in Lae during his deployment.

AFP officer Brad Turner in Lae during his deployment.Source:Supplied

Mr Turner said he was "suing the AFP for $10.3 million" with the "largest component of that (being) 30 years worth of salary".

"My career is effectively over," he said.

"I can’t go back to the AFP for having been a whistleblower.

"The reprisals against me brought about my PTSD and made it worse."

Mr Turner said the incidents he reported took place in crime hotspot Lae, the capital of the country’s second-largest province, as exclusively revealed by

"We were witnessing ethnic cleansing and some murders (by PNG Police) ... stuff like shooting unarmed civilians ... and it was being covered up (by the AFP) ... because of political interests in PNG ... including the asylum seeker resettlement deal on Manus," Mr Turner said.

In a previous statement, an AFP spokesperson said the organisation "does not have the jurisdiction to conduct investigations in Papua New Guinea".

"The AFP received a large amount of material from (Mr Turner) in both July 2015 and September 2015 relating to a number of matters during his deployment in PNG during 2013 and 2014," the spokesperson said.

"The AFP reviewed this material and did not identify any matters requiring further action by the AFP.

"The AFP has not received any reports from AFP members deployed to PNG alleging that they have observed Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary officers involved in murders."

Mr Turner said he provided witness reports, including photographs, about violence and murders in Lae to AFP management but alleged they weren’t included in the weekly reports sent by the organisation in PNG to Canberra.

"The AFP should have briefed government who then could have applied pressure through AusAID or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading," he said.

At one point, Mr Turner was under investigation for the murder of a PNG local in custody but was later cleared after the AFP found there was no evidence to support the claim.

Mr Turner said he has been unable to work since returning to Australia because of his PTSD.

"When I returned home, I put my hand up for help, and they (AFP) went after me hammer and tong," he said.

He said the AFP "fought tooth and nail" to prevent him from getting his Comcare claim approved although it was eventually accepted.

"The claim was eventually approved due to the weight of evidence that I was able to provide to Comcare such as medical reports, photographic evidence of traumatic incidences and my outstanding performance evaluation which specifically mentioned several incidences," he said.

"What worries me is how many officers from PNG put in claims and got knocked back.

"I had photographic evidence which helped me, it’s highly unlikely everyone else has that as well.

"I would never have gotten PTSD if the reporting from Lae was not sanitised and if the AFP had conducted a proper investigation into it instead of continuing the cover up."

The case has been to the Australian Federal Court for mention with both parties expected to attend a hearing on May 15 if not settled prior.

Mr Turner is one of almost 100 AFP Agents, past and present, who have come forward about a mental health crisis within the organisation, after it was exposed by

The whistleblowers have shared their concerns over bullying, the wellbeing of members and inadequate welfare support within the organisation after an agent took her own life at the AFP Melbourne headquarters last month.

Following’s reports, the Australian National Audit Office has ordered an audit "to examine the effectiveness of the AFP in managing the mental health of its employees" and is currently taking submissions from the public. The Australian Federal Police Association is also pushing senators for an inquiry into the AFP.


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

14 March, 2017  

Abbott 'teaches' Turnbull on penalty rates

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has again publicly fronted up to Malcolm Turnbull, this time over the government's stance on penalty rate cuts.

It comes after the Fair Work Commission last week recommended Sunday rates be pared back for retail and hospitality workers.

"Against Labor's pitch of 'high wages' versus 'low wages', we need to pitch 'high wages' versus 'no wages'," Mr Abbott told The Australian in an interview.

The government has being trying to position the FWC decision as a pro-jobs, arguing businesses will hire more workers as their wages bills decrease.

But Labor is trying to pin the upcoming cuts to Sunday worker's pay on the government and wants Mr Turnbull to oppose them.

"The issue is not higher wages versus lower wages," Mr Abbott said. "It's about making it possible for more businesses to stay open because if the business is shut no one gets paid anything."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday said the transition to the new rates should be done in "a way that ensures that take-home pay is as far as possible maintained".


Face cover ban for Victorian protests

Victoria will introduce laws banning face coverings at protests as authorities warn "idiots" not to try to disrupt the end of the Moomba festival.

Police made 53 arrests at the festival on Saturday night and Attorney-General Martin Pakula says they will be ready again if there was trouble as the event wrapped up.

"There seems to be a small band of idiots who want to chance their arm," Mr Pakula told reporters on Monday.

"All I can say to those people is Victoria Police is ready for you, they demonstrated that on Saturday night, and no doubt they'll demonstrate it again if anyone is stupid enough to try it on."

Moomba descended into violent riots last year as groups of youths battled each other in Melbourne's streets.

That incident - and other political protests that turned violent - has prompted the state to propose laws banning face coverings at protests.

Mr Pakula said the laws were meant to be ready earlier, but had been complex to draft.

They will give police the power to arrest people with covered faces if they believe the coverings are for avoiding detection or to prevent the use of capsicum spray.

Mr Pakula said the laws will be introduced into Parliament next week.


Bill Leak: doublespeak at freethinker trial

On Friday, March 10, 2017, Australian painter, cartoonist and avant-garde freethinker Bill Leak died of a suspected heart attack. He was 61 years old.

In the two years before his death, jihadists and the political establishment inflicted horrific stress on him because he refused to surrender his creative genius and free mind to the colourless, artless overlords of political correctness.

In 2015, Leak was forced to flee into a safe house with his family after jihadists threatened to kill him. His thought crime was drawing a cartoon of Mohammed in the wake of militant Islamists slaughtering cartoonists at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

In 2016, Leak was accused under the PC censors’ favourite weapon, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, for offending someone somewhere.

Members of a state-protected minority chose to take offence at a cartoon.

It was offensive to those offended by the truth that some men are alcoholics, some alcoholics neglect their children and some ­alcoholic men who neglect their children are indigenous.

In his submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights into Freedom of Speech in Australia, Leak said: "I was put through two months of ­incredible stress by the (Australian Human Rights) Commission’s investigation. The first complainant … didn’t have to justify anything she did. No one asked her any questions and it didn’t cost her a cent … the tortuous process (threw) my life into a state of utter chaos and it’s not over yet.

"Three months after the cartoon was published, two more complaints were received and ­accepted by the Commission ... So now, two months after being notified of the first complaint and four months after the publication of the cartoon, the possibility that I may yet be required to defend myself in court still hovers, like a dark cloud, over my life.

"This in itself is just another part of the punishment I’ve been subjected to for daring to shine the spotlight on the truth."

Three months later, still suffering under the immense stress ­inflicted by 18C backers, he died.

Section 18C is an act of violence against those who tell the truth. It is, as the slow torture of Bill Leak revealed, a totalitarian tool fashioned by bullies determined to punish creative geniuses who refuse to toe the PC party line.

It is a censor’s hammer used to bludgeon artists for thinking and speaking freely in ways that entertain truth, delight dissidents and expose PC mediocrities for their inconspicuous talent.

Bill Leak did not repent. He held truth above spin, free thought above correct thought and beauty before duty to the PC party line.

He was a thoroughly unreconstructed artist; he said freedom meant freedom to think and speak and create. He was born male and white! (Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!)


Power shortage: playing politics only prolongs energy disaster


Australians now live with one of the great public-corporate policy failures in decades as the nation once touted as an energy superpower is brought to its knees with spiralling power prices, shortages and system unreliability — as the long and unresolved issue of climate change is overtaken by an energy emergency.

There is no easy fix to this crisis. Indeed, Australia faces multiple problems in meeting multiple objectives around gas shortages, renewable energy policy blunders, energy unreliability, the absence of price signals to achieve emissions reductions, the Paris climate change targets and growing uncompetitiveness hurting jobs, industry and investment.

Malcolm Turnbull’s switch after last year’s South Australia blackouts to a new agenda based on energy security and reliability is vindicated but of little compensation. The nation has spent six months learning about the difficulties of feeding renewables into the power system only to now discover gas production cannot meet demand, the latter danger having been warned about for years.

Cast the net wide for blame. There are no innocent parties. Begin with the obsessive climate change and ideological posturing by politicians, the failures by public servants, regulators and advisers to foresee unintended consequences, the utter inadequacy of the federal-state system and the ongoing shambles of conflicting energy policies across competing jurisdictions.

The costs will be borne by households, businesses and jobs. Forget any notion that this crisis will lead to bipartisanship. That won’t happen — energy policy is highly charged with ideology, cost-of-living and jobs competition. The emerging blame game will be fierce. The more the crisis deepens the more it will dominate both state and national politics. The Coalition, Labor and the Greens are locked in a deepening political struggle where an energy crisis has smashed into the already weakening public "hip-pocket" will on climate change action.

This week the Australian Energy Council, representing electricity and gas businesses, said "sustained" policy failure was driving up electricity prices to "critical" levels and the price impact now "is effectively equivalent to a carbon price in excess of $50 a tonne". Bluntly declaring "we are running out of power", the AEC says "ageing power stations keep closing but there is no plan about how they will be replaced".

The Prime Minister, backed by Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, aspires to a dual task: to limit the factors that threaten jobs and industry, and to mobilise energy as a frontline political issue to discredit Labor. Turnbull is fierce on Labor’s ideological flaws — it rejects coal, bans gas exploration and developments, and has bet the economy on renewables without proper baseload back-up power. His message is that the threat is serious and follows "years of ideological complacency by the Labor Party." Bill Shorten has joined this battle, saying the energy crisis responsibility resides "solely" with Turnbull, who is delivering higher prices, more pollution and less reliability.

This week Turnbull, facing a crisis in gas production, announced an urgent meeting of gas producers. This comes in the teeth of dire warnings from the regulator about gas shortfalls and ­electricity supply shortfalls threatening NSW, Victoria and South Australia from the summer of 2018-19 onwards.

Turnbull’s task at next week’s meeting is to secure emergency pledges from companies to increase supply in the near term. "They’ve been put on notice," Turnbull said of the gas companies. "I’ll be demanding from them their explanation as to how they’re going to deliver security for their customers."

This followed a warning from the Australian Energy Market Operator that, in effect, there is insufficient gas in production to meet demand over the next several years. AEMO says "strategic national planning of gas developments has never been more critical for maintaining domestic energy supply adequacy across both gas and electricity sectors."

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox says: "Without action on gas there will be massive demand destruction that will claim thousands of jobs. High gas prices and tight supply are at the heart of Australia’s unfolding energy crisis. Gas users are being offered prices three times higher than their last contract and five times the historic average, leading them to rethink planned investments. Businesses that were looking to return production from China are now considering further offshoring."

Gas was supposed to be the essential baseload substitute for declining coal. But an epic ideological blunder for which Australia pays a high price was the decision by the green and environmental lobbies to cut gas out of the plan in favour of their fixation on renewables. This anti-gas campaign was lethal, had multiple dimensions, exploited the arrogant stupidity of the industry and tapped into farmer discontent.

The reality has come home — relying on renewables, as South Australia does, means that the system needs baseload back-up from gas. The political class, completely unaware of the technical and engineering aspect, has been taught a stark lesson. The message is: if you want renewables, then you want gas. The two fit together.

The gas problem springs from three factors — the ludicrous, destructive moratoriums on gas exploration and development in the states, notably NSW and Victoria; the higher costs for gas development; and the consequences of our massive liquefied natural gas exports, with Australia now exporting two-thirds of the gas it produces, leading to higher parity pricing.

AEMO raised the option of LNG exporters redirecting gas to the domestic market. The left will beat the drum for a gas reservation policy. Turnbull says all measures will be considered but warns of sovereign risk in imposing gas reservation policy, given binding contracts and investment decisions.

But Frydenberg has welcomed as "creative" and worthy of consideration the Queensland government’s recent decision on a tenement in which companies can invest, with provision for domestic market gas. Turnbull and Frydenberg are going to hold the feet of the states to the fire — they need to fix their own mess.

The irony is that Australia has massive gas reserves. It is set to become the world’s biggest LNG exporter but is now being poleaxed on a gross supply-demand gas imbalance. AEMO warns in its report that "holistic planning" across the entire energy supply chain is now imperative. Its suggestions for immediate action include a lift in coal-fired generation, higher gas production, the option of LNG producers redirecting a "small portion" of their export production for domestic use, and greater battery storage.

The long run demands a new approach to exploration and development. The craziness of energy policy is exemplified by the Victorian Labor government, with Frydenberg saying: "(Premier) Daniel Andrews has a real case to answer here. He’s got a 40 per cent renewable energy target, he tripled the royalties on coal which in part has led to the closure of ­Hazelwood and now he’s got a moratorium on onshore gas developments. So I don’t know where he expects Victorians … to get their power from."

The Turnbull government believes the impact of coal-fired Hazelwood’s closure has been underestimated. It provided about 20 per cent of Victoria’s baseload power and is also important to South Australia. The AEMO report says it was assumed that other sources, including gas, will substitute for Hazelwood, yet the future for gas is "highly uncertain."

But Labor, courtesy of Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen, looks smart. In the face of much criticism, it embraced a national interest test at the last election in which new gas projects would be assessed according to domestic market needs in the national interest. The only conclusion is that the government misread the full impact on the domestic market of the massive LNG export sector.

Turnbull told the Australian Financial Review summit this week that his government’s three core goals remained energy security, affordability and meeting the Paris emissions reduction targets. He continued to rule out a market-oriented emissions intensity scheme that was rejected late last year essentially on political grounds, but which is now backed by a near consensus of interest groups as the main mechanism for emissions reductions.

This looms as a significant political problem for Turnbull. Labor’s environment spokesman Mark Butler had a field day this week, pointing out that a who’s who of stakeholders now supported Lab­or’s stance on an EIS, including the National Farmers Federation, AGL, EnergyAustralia, BHP, Origin Energy, the Australian Energy Council, the CSIRO, Frontier Economics and most state governments. "This is the scheme that will get investment going again to replace our ageing electricity infrastructure," he said. "There is an investment strike on right now."

The stakes are high surrounding the final report into the energy system by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. This is a report to the Council of Australian Governments. Its recommended position on the EIS will shape the future of the policy and political debate on emissions reductions and achieving the Paris targets.

The government now pushes the idea of a cleaner, efficient coal-fired power station — but there is little financial appetite for such a venture that would have a 50-year life, subject to high risk from conflicting political positions and financial uncertainties. The Australian Energy Council’s head Matthew Warren has dismissed the viability of such a project: "Plans for expansions to coal-fired power stations have been basically shelved over the past decade. We’re now looking at gas and renewables as the mainstay of investments for us, at least for the next 10 to 20 years."

On renewables, the Turnbull government has made progress on the political and policy risks flowing from Labor’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030. The Opposition Leader has walked away from his April 2016 policy to legislate this goal while retaining the commitment overall. There is growing recognition that individual state renewable energy targets should be abolished.

At the West Australian election the Labor Party abandoned its plan for a 50 per cent RET. Coalition oppositions in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland now reject the idea of state targets, opening the way for aggressive political campaigns on the consequences of ambitious renewables targets.

BHP Billiton chief Andrew Mackenzie says: "We have lost $US100 million in this period because of the intermittency of power in South Australia and also we are facing more expensive electricity." BlueScope’s chief Paul O’Malley says Australia’s mistake had been to focus "on renewables first and everything else second", adding that "if we continue to talk that way, there will be more blackouts and there will be more jobs leaving Australia".

While Labor remains pledged to the 50 per cent renewable concept, this debate has got a long way to run. Labor remains in denial about the significance of the South Australian blackouts. As Frydenberg has said, this shows "the vulnerability of a jurisdiction that relies too heavily on intermittent sources of generation such as wind and solar without the necessary storage and back-up".

The pro-renewables cult has much traction in Australia — as revealed by polls — but the price, reliability and security costs have now come into play. Frydenberg has helped to establish in the public mind that there is a price to pay, and that the power system should not become the zone for "experiments", as happened in South Australia. For Labor, however, this issue transcends policy because it has a non-negotiable need to protect its left flank from the Greens. For electoral reasons, Labor cannot surrender the "renewables position" to the Greens.

At the same time, there is no prospect of Turnbull and Frydenberg succumbing to the demands of their conservative wing and cutting their own 23.5 per cent renewables target. Most of the industry lobbies want the target kept, given long-run investment needs, and the government points to the necessity of achieving its Paris emissions commitments.

Turnbull argues, again, that state governments have failed, saying he is the first head of government to put storage on the agenda. "If you have a large amount of variable renewable energy, wind and solar, isn’t it obvious that you need storage?" he said at the AFR business summit. "Isn’t it blindingly obvious that you do?"

Australia’s energy grid is being disrupted by consumer preferences, new technology, high costs, ill-judged and ideological govern­ment interventions and politics preceding policy. Every government, federal and state, is now caught up in the mire. No solution is possible short of a degree of commonwealth-state concord, not yet evident. Meanwhile, investment in the sector is too high-risk and the upshot is an "enduring dysfunction" in the system.

It has become a template for the Australian disease — the polarisation of politics that makes agreement among governments and in the national parliament a forlorn project. The bottom line is obvious: politics has been given priority for too long and both sides carry much blame. The crisis has now been called — it is a test for the politicians, the companies and all stakeholders.


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, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG commemorates recently deceased cartoonist Bill Leak and his many battles with political correctness

The Justice Project to uncover systemic flaws in legal redress   
Hah! Equal access to law is a chimera.  The middle classes will always be unable to afford it.  If you tried to set up a Legibank as well as a Medibank, the costs would make Medibank look cheap

The Law Council has announced that it is conducting a comprehensive national review into the impediments to justice in Australia, focusing on those facing significant social and economic disadvantage in our community.

The Justice Project will uncover systemic flaws and ensure the path towards equal access to justice is clearly mapped-out. It will report its findings by the end of November this year.

A Steering Committee of eminent Australians, chaired by The Hon Robert French AC, former Chief Justice of the High Court, will oversee the Project.

The President of the Law Council of Australia, Fiona McLeod SC, said that “access to justice is a bedrock principle for our society and a means of protecting, promoting and defending the rule of law and human rights of all people. It is a core tenet of our modern democracy, yet unfortunately there are many who are missing out.

“A person’s formal right to justice and equal treatment before the law is of no value if he or she cannot effectively access the legal system or secure protection of basic rights,” Ms McLeod said.

“Whether it is the pressures upon court resourcing and long backlogs, lack of access to legal advice or representation, or laws and practices that compound unfairness, the inequity experienced by many can have a devastating impact upon their lives.”

The Justice Project will inform its work with a review of the existing research on access to justice issues and explore what is working and why, with constructive, informed recommendations for future action. The Project will seek submissions and involve consultation with individuals and organisations with on the ground experience and focus on case studies that illuminate the key impediments and solutions.

“I am delighted that former High Court Chief Justice Robert French AC, has agreed to chair the Steering Committee, and very grateful for the contribution of our expert Committee members,” Ms McLeod said.

“The review will investigate how these issues affect key groups such as: the elderly, young people, those living in remote areas, the homeless and marginalised and the many in our community who have experienced crisis in their lives, are exploited or face significant discrimination.

“This is a significant undertaking to examine critical issues that need to be urgently addressed.

“We need to ask ourselves whether our idea of Australia as a free and open society, committed to the fair-go, stands up to scrutiny when it comes to access to justice. At the moment this is a very difficult question to answer,” Ms McLeod said.

Media release

Fake News: Whipping up a media frenzy over bizarre “records” before they occur

Australia’s “leading climate scientists” can’t predict the climate but they are very good PR operatives. Here in Perth we’ve had a cool year — for the last twelve months it’s been nearly a whole degree cooler than the average for the last 20 years.

But last weekend in Perth, news stories told us we’d had an “autumn stinker” and wait for it, we might get Perth’s second hottest first eight days of March. Call that a HFEDOM record and write in the Guinness Book of records. It’s a permutation “record” almost as important as the longest distance run by a man holding a table in his teeth. Except it’s not even a record, it’s a news story about a record that “might happen”, but didn’t.

Let’s name Neil Bennett (BOM) and Will Steffen (ANU) as the Propaganda-in-Chiefs dumping meaningless climate-trivia on the people in order to generate FEAR and screw more money from the public.

Straight from the New Climate PRAVDA Manual:

Invent contrived trivial permutations in order to use the word “record”

Don’t bother waiting for real data, use forecasts

If record includes the word “cool”, “cooler”, or “cold”, send to trash.

When wrong, crickets.

So science serves its purpose as a tax revenue generator and source of support for parasitic industries that need government money and government propaganda to keep them alive. (Yes, I’m talking about renewable energy).

The public is hammered with record hot stories, even before they’ve happened in this case, yet there are no BoM announcements or media stories detailing WA’s remarkable run of well below average temps since about April last year.

Last week the Climate Council report on summer mentioned Perth had record rainfall and the second hottest December day on record at 42.4C on 21 December, but they didn’t mention 9 February when Perth had by far its coldest February maximum daily temp since records began in 1897, smashing the previous record by a whopping 1.6C.     

More HERE 

Refugees told they will have to learn English if they want to keep their welfare payments

Refugees may be forced to learn English if they want to keep their welfare payments in a drastic move suggested by a migrant support group.

The Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre (SMRC) has proposed removing 'futile activity testing' and instead linking welfare payments to refugee's presence at English classes, The Daily Telegraph reported.

After arriving in Australia, refugees receive welfare for 13 weeks before they must find work or study - SMRC claims this means refugees often gave up English lessons in case they lose their payments.

Poor English skills can often prevent new arrivals, especially young people, from settling into the Australian community Liberal MP Jason Wood said. 'It is very apparent that the lack of English on arrivals for new migrants makes it extremely difficult,' Mr Wood said. 'Even though 510 hours of English is provided by government, evidence suggests most new arrivals only access about 340 hours.'

Mr Wood is currently a month into a joint parliamentary committee hearing looking in to services for refugees arriving on Australian shores.

For acting chief executive of SMRC Despina Haralambopoulos removing the activity test was an important step. 'The activity test takes away from their capacity to attend English language classes,' Ms Haralambopoulos told the Daily Telegraph.


PM pushes for childcare ban for unvaccinated children

Vital to protect newborns

Unvaccinated children will not be allowed into childcare centres or preschool under a tough new proposal put forward by the federal government.

Malcolm Turnbull has written to state and territory leaders demanding they introduce nationally consistent laws to protect children and has vowed to take the policy to the next Council of Australian Governments (COAG), according to The Sunday Telegraph.

The Prime Minister said all parents deserved to know their children were safe when they dropped them off at daycare or preschool.

“All of us desperately want to protect our children and our grandchildren and other people’s children too,” Mr Turnbull told The Telegraph. “If you are don’t vaccinate your child you are not just putting their own life at risk, but you are putting everyone else’s children at risk.”

Children don’t need to be immunised to enrol at daycare in the ACT, SA, WA, Tasmania or the Northern Territory although in NSW, Victoria and Queensland children must be fully immunised or on an approved catch-up program unless an official objection has been lodged.

In his letter to state and territory leaders, Mr Turnbull writes: “At our next COAG meeting I propose we agree that all jurisdictions implement legislation that excludes children who are not vaccinated from attending childcare or preschool, unless they have a medical exemption.

“Vaccination objection is not a valid exemption. We must give parents the confidence that their children will be safe when they attend childcare or preschool. “Parents must understand that if their child is not vaccinated they will be refused attendance or enrolment.”

Last week, Pauline Hanson triggered a furious backlash when she advised parents to “investigate” where to vaccinate their children. The One Nation leader was later forced to retract her remarks after she told ABC’s Insiders program that the government’s no jab, no pay policy was a “dictatorship” and parents should do their own research into vaccinating their child.

Mr Turnbull said leaders must present a united front against the anti-vaccination movement. “It’s not one of those things where you say ‘I am making my own decision, it’s got nothing to do with anybody else,” he said. “It impacts on everybody.”

Bill Shorten back the plan but urged the prime minister to undertake a national educational campaign on the issue.

Mr Shorten applauded Mr Turnbull for standing up to the anti-vaccination brigade, saying he had already written to the prime minister calling for a national campaign. “I think we need to start educating parents ... as opposed to some of the crazier views they can read on the internet,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government’s tough “no jab, no pay” policy of withholding family payments to parents of unvaccinated children is being supplemented by an “equally tough” policy of “no jab, no play”.

“We want to work with all of the states and I’m very confident that they’ll come on board,” he told the Seven Network.  “Ultimately it’s about protecting kids against horrendous illnesses that are agonising and potentially in some cases tragic.”

Senior Labor MP Mark Butler said there had been some very damaging public commentary led by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and now the major parties had a responsibility to get the issue back on track. “The AMA says that next to clean water, this is probably the most important public health measure that a country can have,” Mr Butler told ABC TV.


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

12 March, 2017

Scientists alarmed after Great Barrier Reef is hit by a SECOND year of coral bleaching

Note that both the GBRMPA and AIMS below have NOT attributed the event to global warming.  Only ratbag outfits like Greenpeace and WWF have done that.  And there is a reason for that circumspection. Cape Grim tells us that CO2 levels have been plateaued on 401ppm since last July (midwinter)  So anything that has happened in the recent summer is NOT due to a rise in CO2.  And NASA/GISS tell us that the December global temperature anomaly is back to .79 -- exactly where it was in 2014 before the recent El Nino event that covered the second half of 2015 and most of 2016.  So there has been no global warming in the recent Southern summer and there was no CO2 rise to cause anything anywhere anyway.  The claim that this summer's bleaching was an effect of global warming is a complete crock for both reasons.  The data could not be clearer on that

Scientists in Australia have revealed unprecedented damage to the Great Barrier Reef, warning 'we are entering uncharted territory'.

Surveys have shown the coral reef is entering its second year of year bleaching for the first time.

Bleaching happens when algae that lives in the coral is expelled due to stress caused by extreme changes in temperatures, turning the coral white and putting it at risk of dying.

The first aerial survey of 2017 has found shocking levels of bleaching in the central part of the reef, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said.

Marine Park Authority director of reef recovery Dr David Wachenfeld said: 'Mass bleaching is occurring on the Great Barrier Reef for the second consecutive year.

'How this event unfolds will depend very much on local weather conditions over the next few weeks.'

He said not all bleached coral would die, and last year revealed bleaching and mortality could be highly variable across the vast marine park, a World Heritage Site which covers an area larger than Italy.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 mollusc species, and is the habitat of wildlife such as the dugong – sea cow – and the large green turtle.

Conditions on the reef are part of a global coral bleaching event over the past two years, as a result of unusually warm ocean temperatures due to climate change and a strong El Nino weather phenomenon which pushes temperatures up further.

Dr Neal Cantin, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), said the recurrence of widespread coral bleaching in back-to-back summers indicated there was not enough time since 2016's extreme heat event for the corals to fully recover.

'We are seeing a decrease in the stress tolerance of these corals,' he said. 'This is the first time the Great Barrier Reef has not had a few years between bleaching events to recover.

'Many coral species appear to be more susceptible to bleaching after more than 12 months of sustained above-average ocean temperatures. 'We are now entering uncharted territory.'

John Tanzer, from WWF International, said: 'What is unfolding before our very eyes is the starkest evidence that climate change is already wreaking havoc on the ocean.

'Coral reefs are a beloved natural wonder but less appreciated is that they also directly support the jobs, livelihoods and food supplies of many millions of people. What will happen to these people as large areas of coral die?'

He called for a major lift in action to bring down carbon emissions, and scaled efforts to reduce local pressures on reefs so they have the best chance of withstanding climate change.

Brett Monroe Garner, a conservation photographer and marine biologist documenting the bleaching with Greenpeace, said: 'I've been photographing this area of the reef for several years now and what we're seeing is unprecedented.

'Just a few months ago, these corals were full of colour and life. Now, everywhere you look is white. The corals aren't getting the chance to bounce back from last year's bleaching event. If this is the new normal, we're in trouble.'


Students at Sydney boys' high 'at high risk of Islamic radicalisation' after the school's top student fled to Syria to join ISIS

Students at a boys' high school were 'at high risk of radicalisation' because one of the top pupils fled to Syria to join Islamic state after he graduated.

Parents have told The Australian students at Canterbury Boys High School in southwest Sydney began the government-funded anti-radicalisation program last year - after their 2013 dux Samir Atwani joined Islamic State.

Punchbowl Boys High School was also reportedly identified as needing the specialist program, but the school refused and principal Chris Griffiths with his deputy Joumana Dennaoui were later dismissed.

The Education Department would not confirm which schools were in the program, saying it would breach privacy and operational rules.

Another spokesperson for the department had said the program, School Communities Working Together, was not a 'deradicalisation program' - but a 'proactive program designed to support students'.

The Education Department said it had conducted an 'extensive appraisal of the school's policies, procedures and management'.

The investigation was prompted by its refusal to participate in School Community Working Together, department boss Mark Scott said.

Staff made a series of serious complaints in 2016.

Women teachers had been prevented from participating in official events such as the Year 12 graduation ceremony, it was alleged.

Daily Mail Australia has approached Canterbury Boys High School and the Department of Education for comment.


Penalty rates a challenge for business

Simon Cowan

The government's response to the Fair Work Commission's decision on penalty rates has been weak. The government has appeared indecisive, yet will wear opprobrium for supporting the decision anyway.

That the unions and Labor would try and mount a campaign against these changes was one of the most predictable things in the world: unions in particular long for another relevance boost like the one they received after Workchoices. The government should have had their response prepared.

And to be clear, the penalty rate cut is not merely a whim of the Fair Work Commission: a lot of work has been done over a number of years to build the economic case for the cut -- not the least by the Productivity Commission. As the CIS has noted before in a number of reports, this change is a good one for the economy.

Yet the political case, the public case, must be made for the changes -- not just the economic one. Government has failed to take the lead here, but they are not alone in failing to act. Business has been even weaker in prosecuting the case for change.

The Liberal party has long despaired that business does not actively campaign the way unions do. By and large, business is correct to stay out of politics -- too many businesses to count have suffered financially from taking political positions.

Yet this reticence by business has now gone far beyond staying on the political sidelines. Business is not defending itself against increasingly aggressive attacks by the left. Business was barely heard in supporting positive changes to company taxation and business leaders are again missing in the fight to cut penalty rates.

The business community is supposedly white hot with anger over the failure of Turnbull to prosecute the case for penalty rate cuts. I say supposedly because you would never actually know that from the debate on the issue.

Businesses have tried making themselves invisible in politics and they have tried appeasing the left by embracing 'corporate social responsibility'. Neither approach has placated the politics of envy. Maybe it's time they start fighting for what they believe in.


‘Thousands’ now backing Bernardi

Less than a month after Cory Bernardi quit the Coalition to form his own ultra-conservative party, his membership list is equal to half the number of Liberal Party members in South Australia and two-thirds of ALP members.

The former South Australian Liberal Party senator yesterday formally applied to register his Australian Conservatives.

In his application to the Australian Electoral Commission, Senator Bernardi said his party stood for limited government, personal responsibility, free enterprise and civil society.

Senator Bernardi told the South Australian Press Club yesterday that plans to run candidates at the next state election, due on March 17 next year, were a “work in progress”.

“There are tens of thousands of people who have registered their interest ... I know many of those people are members of other political parties as well, because they are telling us, and there are also thousands upon thousands of people who have paid to become members of Australian Conservatives,” Senator Bernardi said.

“In South Australia, we already have one half the number of members in the Liberal Party, which is pretty good after a month, and about two-thirds of what the Labor Party has, and that’s just in this state. So we are building from a very strong position.”

Contrasting today’s political reality with the Howard era, ­Senator Bernardi said “we’ve had a lost decade of political non-achievement”.

Australian Conservatives represented “a path forward where principles are put before politics and where policies are more important than personalities”.

Senator Bernardi outlined a seven-point plan to “deliver savings, transparency and accountability”. This included no retirement benefits for MPs until they reached preservation age and that benefits of prime ministerial office be taken only after four years were served.

Senator Bernardi said he would introduce a motion on the resumption of parliament for a pay freeze on MPs’ wages until the budget was returned to surplus. Political donations should come only from individuals and be capped, with above the tax-­deductible threshold amounts disclosed in “real time”.

He warned that there was a “co-ordinated global movement, funded by billionaire activists, to influence local politics”.

All MPs and their offices, along with government agencies and departments, should disclose their spending over a nominal level in a publicly searchable national database, he said.

He said he wanted to reduce duplication of federal and state responsibilities and reform the Senate so the executive government was drawn solely from the House of Representatives to “restore the Senate to its primary role as a house of review”.

Senator Bernardi also proposed term limits for all politicians so that “political service would once again become a public service rather than a political career”.


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, 2017

NSW selective schools cater to the brightest students -- Asians

Amusing.  An Asian writer below is complaining that Asian students ace tests of academic ability.  So much so that schools for the gifted are dominated by Asian students.  How could it be otherwise?  East Asians simply have markedly higher average IQs.  People are just going to have to cope with that. 

It's true that Asians "cram" a lot and thus get top exam results but such cramming will not help bring higher scores on an admissions test -- which will largely be an IQ test.

In both Sydney and Melbourne, Asian enrolments make up more than 80 per cent of the school community in virtually all selective schools.

In 2016, selective schools made up eight of the top 10 schools in the Higher School Certificate  leaderboard. This is not surprising, as selective schools are government schools designed to cater for gifted and talented students with superior academic ability and high classroom performance.

Unlike other government schools, they are unzoned, so students can apply regardless of where they live.

But these public schools are increasingly bastions of inequality, rather than simply havens for the gifted and talented.

Figures from the government’s MySchool website show that in NSW, selective high schools are among the most socio-educationally advantaged in the state, surpassing even prestigious private schools.

The levels of advantage within selective schools are perhaps even more stark when we compare the students falling within the top quarter of socio-educational advantage (Q1) with those in the bottom quarter (Q4).

In 2015, an average of 74 per cent of students in Sydney’s selective schools were drawn from the most advantaged quarter, compared to only 2 per cent from the bottom quarter.

More than half (56 per cent) of Sydney’s selective schools had no students at all from the lowest quarter in 2015.

What’s more, this inequality has grown noticeably in just five years, with 2010 figures showing a (slightly) more balanced distribution.

On average 60 per cent of selective school students came from the highest quarter, while 9 per cent were from the lowest.

There are signs that other states are moving towards the NSW model. Victoria now has four selective schools, whose enrolments are similarly polarised, though not to the same extent as in NSW.

As public schools designed to cater for gifted and talented students, selective schools should be accessible to high achievers regardless of family background.

The MySchool figures raise serious questions about how accessible or meritocratic selective schools really are. They have become more inaccessible in recent years, almost completely so to the most disadvantaged groups.

Entry to selective schools is becoming increasingly competitive, with growing evidence that success is reliant on months or years of training through academic tutoring centres. Sometimes this begins in early primary school.

In my research with students and families in selective schools in Sydney, interviewees explained that many tutoring centres offered programs specifically focused on the selective schools test.

This kind of academic tutoring, designed solely to improve students’ test-taking skills, is quite a different phenomenon to the traditional tutoring undertaken by those who might be struggling in a particular subject area.

Academic tutoring is particularly popular among east and south Asian migrants to Australia, who are often accustomed to the practice in their home countries.

As a result, selective schools, as well as being increasingly dominated by the socially advantaged, are also now dominated by students from Language Backgrounds Other Than English.

In both Sydney and Melbourne, these enrolments make up more than 80 per cent of the school community in virtually all selective schools. At James Ruse, the figure was 97 per cent in 2015. I have previously analysed some of the social implications of this ethnic imbalance, from self-segregation in the playground to hostility from Anglo-Australian parents who accuse Asian-Australians of “gaming the system”.

The demographic profile of selective schools therefore reflects Australia’s skilled migration policy, which overwhelmingly selects highly educated, professional migrants.

These middle-class migrants, keen to see their kids do well, but also anxious about their place in a new society, have sometimes been unfairly demonised as “tiger parents”. But their behaviour is a logical response to Australian education policies that increasingly emphasise competition and schooling hierarchies.

Ultimately, most students sitting for the selective schools test this week will be unsuccessful in securing a place. And based on current trends, we can confidently predict who will be successful: the majority will come from the most advantaged groups in our society, often from Asian migrant families. Virtually none will be from the most disadvantaged groups.

Selective schools were set up to provide opportunities to the gifted and talented, not just the wealthy, gifted and talented.


Pick your statistic:  Was recent weather unusually hot?

The authors below have picked statistics that appear to show that recent times in Australia were unusually hot.  As with most Green/Left claims, the key is to look at what they did NOT say.  And it stands out like dog's balls what they have done.  They have discussed summer only.  What about other recent seasons?   Were they unusually hot too?  They probably were in parts but it's the average that matters and the BoM tells us that 2016 was only the 4th hottest year for Australia.  So overall, there is nothing to get heated about.  It's just the usual dishonest propaganda below

?Scientists have confirmed what anyone who lived through the past summer knows to be true - climate change is driving hotter and longer summers that are becoming "the new normal", according to scientists, with worse to come unless tough decisions are made.

The summer of 2016/17 produced not only Sydney's hottest summer on record, Canberra's hottest summer for daytime temperatures and Brisbane's hottest summer in terms of mean temperature, but Queensland's second hottest summer on record and the hottest summer temperatures on record for almost 45 per cent of NSW.

Scientists have called it "the angry summer" as more than 205 records were broken in just 90 days, according to a new report from the Climate Council.

"We are into the latter half of the critical decade, and temperatures are continuing to increase and extreme weather events are worsening. Climate change is increasing the frequency, duration and intensity of heatwaves and warm spells. Hot days and heatwaves, like those experienced in the 2016/17 angry summer, are becoming the new normal, and even more extreme heat is on the way in future unless rapid and deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are achieved around the world," the report warned.

The reports authors, which include Professor Will Steffen, the inaugural director of the Australian National University's Climate Change Institute, warned that Australia will continue to warm up throughout the 21st century and experience increasingly severe impacts.


The ‘absurdity’ of Australia facing a natural gas shortage

It's absurd all right.  But the chief absurdity is that NSW is sitting on huge reserves of gas but will not let anybody drill for it.  Queensland drills for it.  Why not NSW next door?

THERE are warnings today our gas supply could soon fall short, forcing Aussies to swelter through summer. But an expert says it’s “a total failure” we’re in this position.

The idea of a shortage in Australia — the largest gas exporter in the world — is an “absurdity”, according to energy analyst Bruce Robertson of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

“We are swimming in gas, the idea that we cannot provide for our own population is just a total failure of our energy policy,” Mr Robertson told

The Australian Energy Market Operator on Thursday warned of future power supply shortfalls, which could cause blackouts in South Australia, NSW and Victoria unless gas production is boosted and supplied to electricity generators.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will hold meetings with the chief executives of east coast gas companies soon to address what he’s labelled as an “energy crisis”, laying the blame on state governments for not allowing the development of gas resources.

“We are facing an energy crisis in Australia because of these restrictions on gas,” he said in Sydney on Thursday.

But Mr Robertson disagreed and said the problems Australia was facing were due to companies sitting on gas reserves and not releasing enough of their product.

“There’s plenty of gas around, even on the east coast,” he said.

”Companies are sitting on permits, not developing them and restricting supply so they can make a lot of money.”

It’s created the bizarre situation that sees Australian gas being sold in Japan for a wholesale price that is cheaper than the price it’s available for in Australia.

This is despite the fact it costs an estimated $3.70 a gigajoule more for the gas to be shipped there.

Mr Robertson blamed state and federal governments for failing to develop a proper energy policy in Australia to avoid these problems, despite being warned as far back as 2009 that this could happen.

Part of the problem dates back to the approval of three export terminals in the Queensland port town of Gladstone, which allowed companies on the east coast to ship their gas overseas for the first time.

Mr Robertson said a government report Blueprint for Queensland’s LNG Industry published in August 2009 noted that allowing gas to be converted from coal seam gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export, might not deliver enough gas for domestic use.

It advised the Queensland Government, under the leadership of Labor’s Anna Bligh at the time, to ensure there was enough gas available to met domestic demand. It listed options including holding back production in certain areas to supply Australia’s needs.

“There is a real problem that the availability of gas in the ground may not translate into gas supplied to the domestic market,” the paper stated.

Despite this potential problem being flagged, Mr Robertson said the government took a “cavalier” attitude of pushing forward with the project.

He said any other country that allowed a company to dig up its resources and profit from this, would also have ensured its own domestic supply was covered.

“Australia is unique in its sheer stupidity in allowing companies to exploit our resources and not insist they provide for our domestic market,” he said. “We are uniquely stupid.”
The Santos liquefied natural gas plant in Gladstone, Queensland has enabled companies to ship gas from the east coast of Australia overseas. Picture supplied by Santos

The Santos liquefied natural gas plant in Gladstone, Queensland has enabled companies to ship gas from the east coast of Australia overseas. Picture supplied by SantosSource:Supplied


Mr Robertson said there needed to be transparency around how much gas could be produced by existing reserves, something that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also noted was lacking in its 2016 report.

The ACCC found gas was being removed from the Australian market and shipped overseas instead, leading to uncertainty about future gas supply on the east coast.

Suppliers had also taken advantage of this uncertainty to increase prices.

Mr Robertson said a global glut of gas, which is predicted to continue until 2030, had added to this because companies were under more pressure to make money domestically.

This is helped by the fact there is little competition in Australia so companies can charge higher prices locally.

“The market on the east coast is controlled by a cartel of producers and is restricting supply to the domestic market to drive up the price, and they’ve been very successful at doing this,” he said.

Mr Robertson said this problem could be solved, but required political will to crackdown on the cartel behaviour and force companies to provide information about how much gas they could actually provide.

“The government has to step in and it has to step in forcefully, to ensure the national interest,” he said.

While there’s much discussion of an energy crisis in Australia at the moment, Mr Robertson said it was going to get a whole lot worse.

“People will get made redundant, people will lose their jobs, there will be blackouts. All these things will happen because the government’s let a cartel run riot,” he said.

“The government has got to act and it’s not and there’s no sign they will. And we’ll bumble on in an energy policy void.”


'I was wrong': Pauline Hanson backs down on anti-vaccination comments - after calling government's no jab no play policy a 'dictatorship'

Pauline Hanson has apologised for likening a federal vaccination policy to a dictatorship after previously insisting there was a test for immunisation allergies.

The One Nation leader earned a rebuke from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and doctors on Sunday when she slammed the 'no jab, no pay' policy where family payments of up to $15,000 a year are withheld if parents fail to have their kids immunised.

But on Thursday the Queensland senator offered an apology, explaining she had wrongly believed there was a test that could indicate if a child was allergic to vaccinations.

'Yes, I do apologise if that be the case, I am wrong, alright,' Senator Hanson told Sunrise presenter David Koch  on Thursday. 'I was of the opinion, that I did read, that that was the case. Apparently it's not. 'I have heard a couple of doctors have said that there is no test.'

On Sunday Senator Hanson, whose four children were vaccinated, hit back at ABC Insiders presenter Barrie Cassidy for suggesting vaccinations saved lives.  'That's a dictatorship and I think people have a right to investigate themselves,' she said. 'I hear from so many parents, where are their rights?'

Senator Hanson described the 'no jab, no pay' policy introduced by Tony Abbott's government as an affront to civil liberties.

'What I don't like about it is the blackmailing that's happening with the government - don't do that to people,' the Queensland senator said.

The Prime Minister rebuked her on the same day. 'It is a vital health objective to ensure that everybody is vaccinated,' Mr Turnbull told reporters.

'If parents choose not to vaccinate their children, they are putting their children's health at risk and every other person's children's health at risk 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

9 March, 2017

Sexism is now compulsory?

There is a default assumption that bias in favour of females is not only OK but is actually required

A female principal at a co-educational public school has defended her decision to appoint two boys as head prefects, saying the decision was based on 'merit, not gender'.

Principal Lea Fairfoul-Hucheon decided to ditch the standard custom of appointing a head boy and head girl to the roles at Woodvale Secondary College in Perth, Western Australia.

But speaking ahead of International Women's Day, Chris Sutherland, CEO of Gender Equity, says that the school's judgement of merit may be flawed.

'Merit is a very subjective method. Most organisations say they promote on merit and yet the majority of key roles in nearly all organisations are men, which suggests that something is amiss in the process,' he told The West Australian. 

'I think it doesn't make sense that you would appoint two male heads,' he said.

'It makes far better sense that we should be choosing one boy and one girl to represent the interests and diversity of the school.'

Ms Fairfoul-Hucheon said the decision was based on a student's record of service at school, their school history, interviews, speeches and votes from staff and students.

'The head prefects for 2017 were selected through a nomination and merit selection process and our strongest applicants were two males which is why they were appointed,' she told Daily Mail Australia. 

Despite the criticism they have received, Woodvale Secondary College say both staff and students are happy with the decision, and no formal complaints over the decision have been filed.

'There is a real focus at the school on hearing the voices of the students... and they are happy with the outcome,' Mrs Fairfoul-Hutcheon told Daily Mail Australia. 

It is the first time the school has had two boys fill the prestigious title. 'We have a total of 24 prefects at the school from Years 7-12, 16 of whom are females,' the principal said.

'Not that it matters because they were offered these leadership positions on their merits — and they are all doing a fantastic job,' she added.


Aggressive Leftist government in Victoria on the way out

Interestingly, the slide seems to be because of their corruption, not their policies.  Leftist politicians are notoriously susceptible to money temptations

The Herald Sun has obtained a ReachTEL poll, the first commissioned since an expenses scandal claimed the scalps of the Speaker and deputy speaker, showing that Labor now trails the Coalition 46 to 54 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis.

The ALP’s statewide primary vote has plummeted to 30.3 per cent, according to the poll.

And Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has overtaken Mr Andrews as preferred premier, 34.7 per cent to 29.6 per cent.

If these voting intentions were replicated at next year’s election, the ALP would lose up to 18 seats, including Mr Andrews’, his deputy James Merlino’s, and a swag of seats along the Frankston rail line.

The poll of 1268 Victorians was conducted on March 2 — a few days after Speaker Telmo Languiller and deputy speaker Don Nardella resigned over their use of taxpayer-funded perks.

Mr Andrews this morning brushed off the figures claiming it was “internal Liberal Party polling” and said it was “clear” where the figures had come from.

Despite refusing to comment on the results he did accept “community expectations have not been met” in regards to the entitlement scandal and promised there would be sweeping changes to the rules. “What is of concern to all of us is the rules (on the second residence allowance) are fundamentally changed.”

Opposition leader Matthew Guy said the poll was not done by the Liberal Party and has “got nothing to do” with them.

One senior source said the polling result for the government was an absolute “disaster”.

The results will send shockwaves through the state Labor caucus, which was rocked on Tuesday by Mr Nardella’s resignation from the parliamentary party in disgrace after he refused the Premier’s demands that he repay $100,000 he claimed from taxpayers while living in the country.

An angry Mr Nardella told reporters at parliament to “f--- off” and “get f---ed”.

Mr Languiller, the MP for Tarneit and the former Speaker, also claimed the controversial “second residence” allowance while living in Queenscliff last year. But he has promised to repay the almost $40,000 claimed.

In just two years the government has lost three ministers, a Speaker, and a deputy speaker, who must now sit as an independent.

Mr Guy said the poll showed “a competitive race in Victoria” but that there was a long way to go before the election. “The two-party preferred is way ahead for the Coalition but let’s keep our feet on the ground. It’s one poll,” he said. “It’s anyone’s game.”

A previous ReachTEL poll conducted by Fairfax in September had Labor holding a 51-49 two-party preferred lead, despite its primary vote plunging from 38 per cent at the 2014 election to 34.6 per cent.

The September survey also found that 50 per cent of people thought the premier was too close to unions, after he gave in to United Firefighters Union boss Peter Marshall’s demands over an enterprise bargaining agreement for the Country Fire Authority.

The March 2 poll found that 42 per cent of people think the government’s relationship with Mr Marshall is “too close”, 14 per cent think it’s “about right” and 9.5 per cent think it’s “not close enough”.


Muslim school: Student assault on teacher not reported to police

A student at a Sydney high school that has refused to take part in a deradicalisation program physically assaulted and threatened a teacher last year but the incident went unreported to police, an investigation has uncovered.

NSW Education Department head Mark Scott confirmed yesterday that the school’s ongoing reluctance to implement the state-funded deradicalisation program provided the catalyst for the investigation that culminated in last week’s shock removal of the principal and deputy principal.

The School Communities Working Together program — unveiled in November 2015 in the wake of the Parramatta terror attack in which police worker Curtis Cheng died — was designed to counter violent extremism and anti-social behaviour in schools by providing training and support to help identify students at risk.

It involved schools working closely with community leaders and local police and set out a protocol for schools to report incidents of violent extremist behaviour to the Education Department and police.

“The school was reluctant to have that program take place; they felt it was not necessary,” Mr Scott told 2GB radio yesterday morning. “So at the end of term four we made the determination at a senior level that we really wanted an appraisal of that school.”

The Australian understands that the school’s lack of co-­operation was a significant concern to senior departmental staff, given that a previous audit of its lunchtime prayer group — carried out as part of a statewide audit prompted by revelations that extremist interpretations of Islam were being preached within Epping Boys High School — showed up several red flags, including the failure of organisers to take a roll-call.

Punchbowl, in Sydney’s southwest, has a large cohort of Muslim students and teachers.

As The Australian reported last week, Mr Griffiths and deputy principal Joumana Dennaoui were dumped from their roles in light of the department’s investigation. Both are on leave and Mr Scott declined to say whether they would be redeployed.

Sources close to the school say staff morale plummeted towards the end of last year in response to female teachers being denied ­official roles in the Year 12 presentation and annual awards day.

Since then, a picture has emerged of a school that was increasingly shutting itself off from the ­community.

The school’s relationship with police, which once played an ­active role in helping the school overturn its previous reputation for violence, had soured and police liaison officers had been unable to access the campus for the past 2½ years.

Meanwhile, allegations have emerged about teachers being threatened by students claiming to sympathise with terrorists and of senior staff encouraging the disrespect of authority, with one known to describe police as “pigs”.

The Australian understands that the departmental audit picked up one case in which a non-Muslim teacher was seriously assaulted and threatened but the matter was not reported to police.

Mr Scott said yesterday that some allegations aired about the school, including claims that Mr Griffiths had wished to allow only Muslim students in, were untrue.

He also described claims about female teachers being excluded from official ceremonies as “unsubstantiated”, which is contrary to the accounts of various school and departmental sources.

However, Mr Scott said it was a “serious matter” to remove a principal and deputy principal from a school. “We sent a very senior team in there and found a number of matters that were a concern,” he said.

“There was a significant lack of staff unity and there were a number of policies and procedures that were not being followed. It does seem to have lost its way in recent times and become more isolated from the ­community.”

Parents are understood to have been blindsided by the decision. A petition, started by Ahmed El-Hassan, called for the Education Department to explain the “unfair dismissal”.

A spokesman from the department last night declined to comment on the assault allegations or provide further details on findings from the investigation.

He also declined to say ­whether the deradicalisation ­program would be implemented by the school’s new principal, former juvenile justice educator Robert Patruno.

“The school’s new leadership will implement the recommen­dations from the appraisal,” the spokesman said.


Melbourne set to create female walking signals to create 'street light equality'

Susie O’Brien

PLANS to make the traffic light crossing people gender-neutral is the silliest idea I have ever heard.

It’s political correctness gone mad. First we had restrictions on the word women (because it contains the word men), moves to ban terms like Miss and Mrs, rewriting of classic books and fairy tales to remove gender stereotypes, and now this.

What’s next? Traffic lights that look like those silly family stickers on the back of cars with dogs, cats, tall men and short women and kids with hockey sticks? I mean, we wouldn’t want to leave anyone out, would we?

Haven’t these people at the Committee of Melbourne got anything better to do?

Turning the crossing figures into females won’t create one single job, break down one single barrier or help one single woman.

And yet the Equal Crossings Initiative is proudly kicking off its plans to install 10 female pedestrian figures at one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections. The idea came from the committee’s Future Focus Group and is designed to challenge “unconscious bias”.

I am a woman and a proud feminist who has crossed thousands of roads in my life, but I have to honestly admit I have never seen the crossing men flashing at me and felt left out, subjugated or objectified.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle hit the nail on the head when he suggested such a scheme was more likely to bring about “derision”. Clearly, Doyle is more in touch than the Future Focus Group.

The problem is that if you spend too much time and money obsessing about irrelevant stuff like whether the crossing figures are men or women, then people don’t listen when you talk about things that are really important.

You know, things like the cost of childcare, the gender wage gap, the lack of women running our companies, and the problem both women and men have accessing family-friendly work.

The Future Focus Group says it is committed to developing “the leadership that our city needs” and promoting “creative ways of thinking”.

Some of their ideas are pretty good, such as free trams in the CBD, Open House Melbourne and Eleos Place, a youth homeless crisis accommodation centre.

Putting skirts on traffic light crossing figures isn’t one of these good ideas.

It’s silly and absurd, and makes a mockery of the whole women’s movement.


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

8 March, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is scornful of Melbourne's "female" traffic lights

'You line up a number of Muslims, who is the good one?'

Pauline Hanson slams Sharia law and women who wear burqas as she warns Australia will be overrun by Islam

Pauline Hanson has revealed she is suspicious of all Muslims and has urged women who wear the burqa to leave the country.

The One Nation leader once again criticised Islam and challenged A Current Affair reporter Tracy Grimshaw to point out a 'good Muslim'.

'I believe there are some (Muslims) that want to live a good life and a quiet life,' Senator Hanson said.

'But you tell me - you line up a number of Muslims, who's the good one?'

The outspoken politician reiterated her well-known view on the burqa in the explosive interview with the Channel Nine program. 

'The burqa should absolutely go. This is Australia,' she said.

'The full face covering I think is wrong. If they want to live that way and have their Sharia law, then I suggest they go to a Muslim country.'

The Senator also revealed she believes Muslim immigration has changed suburban Australia for the worse. 

'I hear Australians that have lived nice quiet lives in the suburbs and then they've had Muslims come in there who have changed their suburbs.

'They've built these mosques and they have their cars parked across the driveway or they have rubbish thrown over their fences... It's having an impact on our educational system, in our schools, in swimming baths.

'If these people want to come and live here - respect our laws. Even in court rooms they have no respect for the judges - won't even stand up.'

The Senator said her party's views are resonating with the Australian public. 'People actually want to see One Nation in power. And that's what I'm picking up all the time,' she said.

'The grumbling from the people - they're actually fed up with both sides of politics, whether it be Liberal, Labor or the Nationals, and they certainly don't want the Greens. 'So they've just had a gutful of the whole lot of them. They feel they're not being listened to.

'Australia is going to slide into a third world country if we do not get our act together. That's my opinion.'


Teen terror cells in our midst: recruiters target ‘sleeping colonies’

Iraq’s most senior Australian diplomat has warned of “sleeping ­colonies” of potential terrorists in Sydney and Melbourne and ­extremist recruiters targeting ­teenagers.

Hussain Al-Ameri, Iraq’s ­ambassador to Australia, told The Australian members of the Iraqi community had expressed concerns that local Muslim youth were being offered financial incentives by radical preachers. Those included rewards for wearing Islamic clothing, and ­“encouragement” for young ­people to attend their meetings.

Dr Al-Ameri, a former director of the press and human rights ­department at Iraq’s foreign affairs ministry, said Australian mosques associated with the extreme “Wahhabi Salafi ideology” were being watched by authorities.

“They are active here (in Australia) and they believe in this ­Salafi Wahhabi. This is the ideological background of ISIS,” said Dr Al-Ameri, who was concerned about some Iraqis with Australian citizenship working with Islamic State.

“The world is one village through the internet. Accordingly, the contact between countries is very easy so we have a big concern for such persons or for such groups, because they may affect us indirectly.

“For example, when anyone with Australian citizen(ship) — when he’s coming to Iraq we will say ‘welcome’ — we are not ­expecting that he’s a terrorist. “But maybe he’s a member of a ‘sleeping colony’. And maybe he was brainwashed already because the people who practise brainwashing are already present in Australia, and they are active.”

Anne Aly, a leading counter-radicalisation expert and new Labor MP for the federal seat of Cowan, said she had heard of Indonesian recruiters using money to lure youth, but not in Australia.

“I haven’t come across it in Australia. I’ve come across it in ­Indonesia, for recruitment … so if you come and join you’ll get this much money; not so much here. But it is part and parcel of it all, so those who do go and fight as ‘soldiers’ do get a salary,” Dr Aly told The ­Australian.

Sydney Muslim preacher Sheik Wesam Charkawi said: “I work with a lot of youth and it’s not something I have heard of.’’

As the Islamic State grip on ­territory in Iraq and Syria weakens, anti-terror agencies fear small groups or individuals could pose threats in Australia.

In addition to high-profile raids by the AFP, other targeted individuals had their passports suspended to prevent young Australians travelling overseas for terrorist purposes.

National security agencies ­remain at a heightened state of alert, with the terror threat rated ­“probable”.

In the past three years, several accused terrorists have been identified as having Iraqi backgrounds, including teenager Farhad Jabar who murdered NSW police ­accountant Curtis Cheng in 2015.

Student Omar Al-Kutobi was jailed in December for at least 15 years after pleading guilty to one count of acting “in preparation/planning for a terrorist attack”.

Dr Al-Ameri’s comments came a week after ASIO chief Duncan Lewis warned that terror groups were increasingly radicalising younger Australians, whose ages had “dropped by a decade in the space of a couple of years”.

Mr Lewis said that in 2013, 45 per cent of Sunni Islamist extremists investigated by ASIO were aged between 25-34, while in 2015, 40 per cent of were between 15 and 24.

Dr Aly, founding chair of People against Violent Extremism, said: “They are deliberately targeting younger people because it’s not so much about the religion, it’s more about fighting and being a hero and being a soldier; that’s more the appeal.”

Dr Al-Ameri said Iraqi community members had in recent months told him of young people targeted by radical organisations. “Their target is the teenagers because their mind is easily brainwashed. It is a long-term process starting in steps. This is what I heard in Sydney.”


Reasonable compromise on hate speech law

Malcolm Turnbull is being ­offered a bold reform on race-hate laws that promises to end a ­damaging Coalition impasse over restrictions on free speech, raising the bar for complaints about language that “insults” or “offends” people on the basis of race.

The breakthrough proposal puts “ordinary Australians” at the heart of a tough new test for legal action under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, clearing the ground for talks in federal cabinet about the push to amend the law.

In a new effort to build a consensus for change, the Prime ­Minister has been approached to back the compromise, in order to quash threats to free speech while acting on community calls to ­retain strong sanctions against ­racism.

The plan seeks to insert a “reasonable person” test into the law so that applicants will have to prove the offensive behaviour breaches the standards of ordinary Australians — not just the feelings of a narrow group.

International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, a conservative whose parents migrated to Australia from Italy, has ­canvassed the proposal with her colleagues as a way to bring the law into line with everyday ­community standards.

“It raises the threshold for ­determining what constitutes ­offensive behaviour based on ­racial hatred: to offend, insult, ­humiliate or intimidate,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells writes in The Australian today.

“The test would be what ordinary Australians think those should be. I believe by adding this test we can obviate much of the negativity we are seeing at the moment and deliver the appropriate balance between freedom of speech and freedom from racial vilification.

“The ‘reasonable Australian’ test is a far higher threshold for ­social debate. It has been an ­essential part of the values that we hold dear to have great resilience and racial tolerance. We do not accept racist and xenophobic speech and we also value freedom of expression, religion and belief.”

The plan builds on the findings of a joint parliamentary committee that last week agreed to overhaul the Australian Human Rights Commission to weed out vexatious complaints but failed to reach common ground on ­reforming section 18C itself.

The Australian has been told Mr Turnbull and senior cabinet ministers are preparing to act swiftly on the report in order to force the commission to speed up its decisions, throw out vexatious complaints and prevent the law being used to threaten free speech.

Coalition MPs are struggling to agree on the best path to change the law after growing concern at the drawn-out complaints against three Queensland University of Technology students over their Facebook posts and a more recent case against The Australian’s cartoonist Bill Leak.

Commission president Gillian Triggs is under fire for letting complaints drag on, with critics warning that “the process ­becomes the punishment” as ­defendants must spend thousands of dollars to argue cases at the commission that later go to court.

In the latest dispute, Professor Triggs faces a likely recall by ­Liberal senators to explain ­“misleading” evidence she gave about Leak’s case last week, when she said neither the cartoonist nor the publisher “made any submission” justifying why the complaint should be dismissed under 18D of the law, which provides an exemption for the media and academia.

Leak’s lawyer, Justin Quill, has produced a letter sent to the commission last October that explicitly cited section 18D as grounds for dismissing the complaint over the cartoonist’s portrayal of an Aboriginal police officer handing over a boy to his beer-drinking father who has forgotten his son’s name.

Last week’s report into the racial hatred laws highlighted the divisions within the Coalition by outlining six options for section 18C, ranging from no change to replacing the words “offend” and “insult” and “humiliate” with the word “harass” instead.

The committee also canvassed changing the objective test from a “reasonable member of the relevant group” to a “reasonable member of the Australian community”.

Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson is backing the new offence of “harass” in order to restrict complaints but fellow committee member and NSW Liberal MP Julian Leeser is opposing change to section 18C on the grounds that changes to the commission’s process would be enough to prevent a repeat of the QUT or Leak cases.

One Liberal who opposes change to 18C told The Australian that the “reasonable person” test would still provide fertile ground for Labor and community groups to campaign against the Coalition with the claim they were making it easier for racists to speak out. “But of all the options it is the least bad,” he said.

Another Liberal who wants sweeping change to section 18C said the compromise would not go far enough for those who wanted to dismantle the limits on free speech.

The debate is expected to go to federal cabinet before being put to the full Coalition party room to decide whether to change the law.


Free speech debate offers Turnbull a free kick at Labor’s expense

Malcolm Turnbull should not shrink from the section 18c fight

The Coalition parties in Canberra are starting to realise that the ­debate over section 18C is not a burden, but a gift.

It is unfolding in a way that will allow the Coalition to wedge Labor and the Greens and portray itself as the only grouping that is prepared to defend the standards of the Australian community.

This has been made possible by the growing push to adopt “the reasonable person” test as the touchstone for liability in section 18C.

Malcolm Turnbull has a perfect free kick all lined up and waiting to be taken. All he needs to do is ­explain that Labor and the Greens — by rejecting any reform of 18C — have also rejected making the standards of the reasonable ­member of the general community the central core of this law.

This is an outrageous insult to the great mass of ordinary Australians, and the Prime Minister should not hesitate to make Labor own it.

Implicit in the do-nothing ­approach of Labor and the Greens is blatant elitism and a deep suspicion about the standards that govern the lives of ordinary, reasonable members of the community.

If Turnbull shrinks from this fight, judges will continue to be prevented from applying community standards when it comes to determining what can and ­cannot be said on the sensitive subject of race.

Australians are not racists. The great mass of society — the reasonable members of the community — are decent people. Their standards should be entrenched in law as a guide for all parts of this ­diverse nation.

Anything less betrays a deep sense of self-loathing that should have no place in a law enacted by the national parliament.

Labor and the Greens are seeking to entrench divisions by giving priority in 18C to standards of ­conduct based on the race, ethnic background or national origin of those who complain.

In the apartheid era, when South Africa enacted laws based on race, colour or national or ethic origin such shameful conduct was called out by Labor for what it was: racism. Labor’s policy now is ludicrous: words, cartoons and newspaper articles that strictly comply with the standards of ordinary members of the community could nevertheless be declared racist.

For Turnbull, a switch to ­community standards as the touchstone for liability should be the first and most important step on the path to reform.

He can take comfort in the fact that those who favour this change include former race discrimination commissioner Irene Moss and former human rights commissioner Sev Ozdowski.

This is not just good politics, it is good law. If the purpose of 18C were to provide guidance for the community on what cannot be said on the subject of race, one consistent standard is the way to achieve clarity.

The elitist posturing of Labor and the Greens has made them vulnerable. The free kick is there. Take it.


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, 2017

Idiots in Uniform. It has happened again

  It is clear that we never learn. Remember the outcome of the Coonabarabran fire some years ago and the culpability if National Parks in that fire.   Well here we go again.   Enough should be enough.

Friends,  please read this and forward it on.  We have to stop idiots standing behind Bureaucrats and killing the Australia that we all love.

You will remember an email that you received from me 6 years ago about “idiots in Uniform”.   That was about to stupidity of Officers from Queensland Transport in the big floods.  Thanks to you all, that email went viral and reached a hundred thousand people.  The media got involved.  The Government got embarrassed.  AND there were  big changes of attitude.    WE NEED TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN AGAIN.

I am at Dunedoo,  NSW, where the biggest fire ever in NSW raged a couple of weeks ago.   Something approximating to 130,000 ACRES OF GOOD FARMING AND GRAZING LAND WAS DECIMATED.  50 FAMILYS INVOLVED WITH MANY LOSING EVERYTHING.  Their houses, sheds, machinery, fencing, and everything else GONE FOREVER.  ESTIMATED THOUSANDS OF CATTLE, SHEEP, DOGS, CATS, AND ALL FORMS OF ANIMALS.


I had the privilege to, last night, sit with a group of farmers beside the burnt remains of 3 generations of hard work, and the real stories were flowing.  The stories about what they did.  BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT THEY WERE NOT ALLOWED TO DO.

This fire could have been.  SHOULD HAVE BEEN, put out the first night.  However, by then the Government Fire Department were involved.  These were the IDIOTS IN UNIFORM.

They had fire trucks full of water and retardant, plenty of men and all the equipment ready.  BUT THEY STOOD AND WATCHED BECAUSE  THEIR BOSS IN THE IVORY TOWER HAD NOT GIVEN THEM THE GO AHEAD.


And everyone had to stand down and wait for instruction.  And the fire jumped the highway and every other fire break, and raged on.   Wiping out everyone’s life, and generations of hard work.

Luckily, the fire split into fingers and the idiots were not everywhere.  And so there were pockets of farmers who saw it coming and sacrificed their thousands of acres and did back burn.  And eventually the fire got under control as it hit the top of the Great Dividing Range.

Luck for everyone on the coast that these guys made that sacrifice.  The day was one of the worst/hottest ever recorded.  The fire made its own storm.  Nothing remains in this vast area.

The community has been devastated, lives ruined, worlds turned upside down.  But because no person was killed, Government and media have gone home to their comfortable beds and nothing is happening.

BLAZEAID is here with a hundred senior citizens. But where is the ARMY.  If this sort of disaster happened oversees, we would send in the troops along with millions of dollars.

There is no mobile phone coverage in the fire area.  And yet there are portable towers available for sports events and rock concerts.  Why can’t we have one?
There are heaps of accommodation units left over from mining camps, but these people have no-where to live on their properties.  And they have to be there to protect them from looters.

And then there is the issue of who is going to pay for all this destruction by Government via red tape and levels of incompetence.

Oh,  that’s right, we have to wait for someone to get killed.  Well, that’s probably going to happen.  There is 5000 kms of fencing gone.  And thousands of cars now on unfenced roads.

And there is no money for the farmers.  Farmers are not responsible to replace road fence that they wanted to save but were stopped by idiots.  Government MUST PAY.    NOW

Apparently, a fire this big must have a coronal inquiry.

The initial cause of the start fire will never be known.   It will not be hard to prove the fire was exasperated by the inefficiency of the fire service.  So, what happens after that?  Sweep it under the carpet?



And to refresh on the flood ordeal simply google   “idiots in uniform”    “Gary Briggs”  The media took it on with full front page coverage by Brisbane Courier Mail.  After that the Qld Government had to rescind all fines and change forever the way they will handle future floods.    Then followed the Class Action in relation to idiots in uniform who had to read the manual before opening the dam gates, and the subsequent Brisbane flooding.

To list some of the things needed here.

MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE because to world rotates on phone technology.  We cannot shout when the phone doesn’t work.
LOTS OF MONEY.  Someone mentioned we just sent some more oversees for some disaster.  How about this disaster?

Gary Briggs
Managing Director
Dingo Australia, 9 Owen Street EAST, Dalby, QLD 4405 Australia
(M) 0417 977 451 (E) (T) 07 4672 5400 (F) 07 4672 5422 (W) DINGO.COM.AU

Religious freedom is a tricky thing

Rob Forsyth below thinks that Muslims must be allowed to follow their religious dictates even when they clash with normal Australian customs.  And if the Muslim custom does no harm why not allow it?

The answer surely is that we want immigrants from chaotic parts of the world not to bring their dysfunctional beliefs and customs with them.  We want them to learn our ways -- the ways that have made Australia an attractive destination for them. 

And the various attacks on Australians by Jihadis do tell us that imported Muslim attitudes are a serious problem.  We do well to ask Muslims for assimilation as the price for being here. 

Sikh customs, Hindu customs, Chinese customs are all fine and can  reasonably be accommodated -- because they do not bring hostility towards us with them.  It is precisely Islam that is the problem.  Sikhs, Hindus and Chinese do not attack us.  Some Muslims do.  All men are not equal nor are all religions

After all, Muslims can practice all the Muslim customs they like in the many Muslim countries. Why not go to one of those if our customs don't suit them? Malaysia is just to the North of us and it's not a bad place -- thanks to the large Chinese minority there

Two weeks have passed since the controversy over Hurstville Boy's Campus of Georges River College agreeing to a protocol allowing Muslim students not to shake hands with women.

A proper understanding of religious freedom suggests the school did the right thing and its critics are mistaken.  Freedom of religion is not just the freedom to believe but also, in the words of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),the freedom "to manifest [ ...] religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching." In this case, if there is a way to accommodate the manifestation of the religious views of the young men, why shouldn't it be done?

The views in question may be strange even to mainstream Islam. But religious freedom never depended on the reasonableness of the religion involved. Nor is it any good to assert that giving in at this point is the thin edge of a 'sharia' wedge. Religious freedom is not absolute. It is, as the ICCPR asserts, subject to such limitations that are "necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others." No sharia.

But is it sexist? Maybe, but in itself that is not a reason to deny religious freedom. And having an agreed protocol manages the risk of misunderstanding and substitutes another gesture of respect.

Government schools are essentially secular institutions, but they are not secularist imposing an Australian version of a French hard line laïcité -- a core concept in France's constitution, Article 1 of which states that the country is a secular one.

The School need not be criticised, but like any religion, Islam certainly can be. The right to religious freedom is not the right to be free from criticism or even ridicule. Something often goes wrong when Islam is discussed. The left forget their abhorrence of sexism, and others can lose their passion for freedom.


An ANTI-Muslim hoax?

Below is an excerpt from an article by Michael Brull. Brull is a far-Leftist Jewish Australian and his writings boil with hate.  I have left the abuse and hate out.  I have just excerpted the apparently factual bits of his article below.  So the article now is about half as long as comrade Brull left it

Today Tonight in Adelaide featured yet another report on Muslims.

The story was based primarily around three figures, supposedly representing the important insight of Muslims concerned about Muslims. Two of them were presented as Muslim clerics. One was Mostafa Rachid. The other was Mohammed Tawhidi. And the third figure was Jamal Daoud, presented as a “Sunni community leader”. Daoud’s is called a “leader” presumably on the basis that the TV presenter liked what he was told by Daoud.

The star of the show was Tawhidi, who used his supposed status as a Muslim religious scholar to attack Muslims and Islam. The show opened with him saying that, “When I am worried about what’s happening and what I see from my community and my religion, trust me that there’s something that’s going on.”

Tawhidi made numerous inflammatory statements. He claims there was a plan to increase the population of Muslims in Australia, to buy real estate, and give the streets Islamic names. And those Islamic names would be in memory of those who “massacred and killed people”. And then they’ll ban drinking and anything “un-Islamic”, it’ll be a small Islamic country within Sydney. He also claimed that ISIS hides among refugees fleeing to Europe, some of them disguised as women. Presumably he is opposed to Western countries accepting Muslim refugees.

The journalist was impressed by this rendition, and his “stark warning of a plan to alter Australia forever, to establish a caliphate here right under our noses”. Tawhidi confirmed this theory, saying that the alleged fact that a Muslim imam is worried (him), shows that something must be done.

Tawhidi called for governments to stop the building of mosques and Islamic community centres, and for a government body to be established to investigate everything in relation to the Muslim community.

In response, the online Muslim magazine One Path Network issued a video response to the report, along with a short written summary. Both are refutations of Today Tonight’s report. They showed that the two supposed Muslim scholars have something like zero credibility. As for Tawhidi:

“Little is known about Mr Tawhidi, who claims to be a “Muslim leader” in South Australia. His centre named the “Islamic Association of South Australia” was only set up last year and there is little to no information available about the centre and its attendees.

When One Path Network approached the Australian National Imams Council, ANIC, for comment on the above individual, they stated that Mr Tawhidi was “not recognised as an Imam, Sheikh or Muslim leader”. ANIC is the official representative body of all Imams across Australia and has over 250 members.

The Imams Council of South Australia was also approached for a public comment and they too stated that ” he was not recognised” and “not part of the Islamic leadership in South Australia”.”

And Rachid, the supposed scholar brought on to claim that alcohol and pork are halal? One Path Network reports:

“The other “Imam” used in the segment is known as Mustafa Rashed, and is a known imposter and fraud. He has previously claimed to be the Mufti of Australia, and was exposed by ANIC in 2014 for his fraudulent remarks. He has no known credentials in Islamic Studies and neither does he have a centre in Australia or a following.”

This was followed by a media release by ANIC, the Australian National Imams Council, featured in the video report by One Path. It observed that Tawhidi is “not a recognised Imam, Sheikh or Muslim leader”. The video report, fronted by Malaz Majanni, noted that “Imams for Peace” seems to consist entirely of Tawhidi.


Hug a farmer, they've just saved Australia's economic bacon

Guy Milson has been farming his land six kilometres outside Goulburn for the past 38 years. "People 'round here the call me a newcomer," he said. "They tell me you haven't had time to unpack your bags."

But during four decades on the farm, rarely has Mr Milson seen as season as good as this one - and neither has the rest of Australia.

Agricultural growth surged by an extraordinary 27.6 per cent in 2016, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics national accounts have revealed, following a record harvest in every state. While agriculture enjoyed a double-digit leap, the traditional driver of the Australian economy - mining - grew by just 4.6 per cent. Retail struggled, and manufacturing and construction went backwards.

Agriculture had 10 times its average contribution to the economy in the three months to December, making up 0.5 per cent of the country's 1.1 per cent growth. It usually contributes just .05 per cent.

"It is a fantastic year for agriculture and it's made a very strong contribution to the Australian economy on the back of a record winter crop," said Trish Gleeson, a commodity analyst at the Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

The farming boom looks set to continue, with export earnings in cotton projected to skyrocket by 56 per cent, wheat 25 per cent and sugar 23 per cent. 

Angus Taylor, Mr Milson's local federal MP, said farmers in his electorate "haven't been as buoyant as this for many many decades, probably my lifetime".

The Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, said regional areas had "saved the economy" but not enough Australians appreciated the contribution.

"We are actually making money that actually helps this nation pay its bills," he said this week.

But hurdles remain on the horizon.

Sugar has become a major political issue in cane growing regions on the back of fears the industry might miss out on the wider boom. A pricing gridlock has forced Queensland growers to stock excess harvests despite the bumper crop.

While the last year also saw strong gains for cattle across the country, export earnings this year are forecast to fall for 17 per cent for beef.

Cattle farmers hope the projection will be reversed by a new deal signed this week between Indonesia and Australia to increase the import cattle weight limit from 350 to 450 kilograms.


Australia poised to seize world economic record

Australia is on the cusp of achieving something truly remarkable – not to mention unprecedented in modern world history.

In 26 days, as the clock ticks over to April 1, Australia will likely have bested the Netherlands to lay claim to the title of the longest economic expansion on record, entering our 104th quarter of economic growth without recession.

The Dutch winning streak kicked off in 1982 thanks to the biggest natural gas field in Europe and lasted for 103 quarters before the Netherlands succumbed to the turmoil of the global financial crisis in 2008.

In the first of three significant European elections in coming months, Dutch voters will go to the polls next week and have a strong chance of electing an anti-Islam, far-right politician called Geert Wilders, who has spent the past 13 years living in protective seclusion after death threats from Islamic militarists over this controversial views, including wanting to close all Mosques and comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf.

Meanwhile, back at home, the news that Australia has avoided a technical recession with growth rebounding in the December quarter was greeted with little more than a shrug.

It deserves much more recognition than that.  Australia has just pulled off the Great Escape.  The end of the end of the mining boom is almost here. We made it.  We've escaped the resources curse which has defined our economic history.

Not only will we beat the Dutch, we've beaten the economic curse which bears their name, "Dutch disease".

A 1977 article in the Economist coined the term to describe how large resource booms tend to suck the life out of other parts of the economy, like manufacturing, by raising wage costs and the exchange rate.

Australia has suffered Dutch disease in several periods during our history, most notably in the first 1850s gold rush. In a fascinating speech in 2010, then Reserve Bank deputy governor, Ric Battellino, recalled how that gold rush led to a doubling of shepherds' wages in just three years and contraction in the number of NSW manufacturing firms from 165 to 140.

Indeed, of the five major mining booms that Australia has had, the majority ended in double digit inflationary outbursts.

At the time, Battellino hoped that this most recent China-induced mining boom would be different, thanks to our floating exchange rate, a more flexible labour market and more soundly based frameworks for monetary and fiscal policy. Seven years later, it turns out he was right.

Since the mining investment boom peaked about four years ago, the Aussie dollar has fallen significantly, supporting other exporters. Wages growth has fallen too, which isn't great for workers, but certainly helps us to recover our international competitiveness.

Lower interest rates have also responded to cushion jobs growth in other sectors.

All in all, we've survived the biggest commodity supercycle in our history relatively unscathed. Income growth has been disappointing recently, compared to previous gains, but those gains have not been unwound. Australia today is a vastly richer country than it was before the boom.

According to a recent testimony to Parliament by Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, we are now 90 per cent through the fall in mining investment that has dragged on growth for about four years. While there are no major new investments on the horizon, mining companies have now begun investing again in upkeep of their existing infrastructure.

"Higher prices have given them the confidence to do a bit more sustaining investment – that is a positive development," Dr Lowe told the parliamentary committee. "We hear that in some areas, partly in Western Australia, the higher prices are encouraging people to at least think about exploration again, whereas exploration activity had fallen way off. It is still going to be a headwind for a little while, but not like the headwind we have had for the last four years."

Meanwhile, several other economic winds blow in our favour. Most notably, the skies have opened on our agriculture sector. Unleashing havoc in our cities, the rains have breathed new life into our exports of cotton, wheat and sugar.

And Asia's burgeoning middle classes continue to underpin a boom in education exports, with foreign student numbers only likely to benefit further from America's great intellectual leap backwards.

Lastly, state governments have finally begun to address Australia's yawning infrastructure gap, most notably in Sydney, which has turned into one giant, rain-soaked worksite of late.

Obviously, our economy is not without its challenges.

While activity levels are sound, prices growth has been weak. In theory, booming corporate profits should trickle through to higher wages, but they haven't yet. Business spirits remain dampened by political uncertainty. And there has been a worrying rise in household debt relative to income as low interest rates fuel a house price boom in some capital cities. While the Reserve Bank is likely to stay on the sidelines for most of this year, the next move in interest rates will be up – barring any new international shocks – which will be a major test for our newest indebted households.

Aussies are fond of talking ourselves down. And caution is warranted. But we are about to lay claim to the strongest economic performance in world history.

And that will be worth celebrating.


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

6 March, 2017

Does Denmark have the reliable "renewable" electricity that eludes "Green" South Australia?

Someone below is not telling the whole story.  Unmentioned is the Skagerrak interconnector between Denmark and Norway -- which enables Denmark to import Nowegian hydro-power when the wind isn't blowing. There are also interconnecters to Sweden and Germany that import coal and nuclear power when the wind isn't blowing.  And sometimes the wind is so still that it provides virtually no power to Denmark.

And the statement that on "Samso, an island in Denmark, renewables provide 100 per cent of the electricity" is misleading.  On Samso, electricity is generated using a mix of wind, solar and straw-fired power plants.  If straw-fired power plants are renewable so are coal-fired plants.  There is no likelihood of running out of either straw or coal. 

Also unmentioned is the cost factor, but it is  known that Denmark has paid heavily for its wind plants and some 2010 figures suggest that  Denmark's wind industry is almost completely dependent on taxpayer subsidies, and Danes pay the highest electricity rates of any industrialised nation.

Further, when the wind does decide to blow, Denmark sends fully half of its very expensive, taxpayer-subsidized wind power to its neighbors at cut rates, in return for said neighbors dialing up or down its hydro power or nukes at other times (which, most of the time, means "up").

As ever, it's a very different story when you know the facts that the Green/Left leave out.  It's fake news below

THE man who helped create the world’s first 100 per cent renewable island, and who lives in a country that gets 50 per cent of its electricity from wind and other sources, says he has to travel to Australia for a blackout.

Soren Hermansen told that blackouts are not common in Denmark, which gets about 50 per cent of its electricity from renewables. “I have to go to Australia to deal with a blackout, we never have blackouts, this is not bragging,” he said. “We have a very powerful grid — we don’t experience any failure.”

Denmark has managed to successfully integrate its renewables into its electricity system but it has also avoided some of the problems that Australia is experiencing by burying its distribution lines underground.

This helps avoid blackouts caused by severe weather, which led to South Australia’s statewide blackout in October.

While underground cabling would be very expensive to implement in Australia, taking out the storm factor, Mr Hermansen said Denmark’s system showed it was possible to successfully integrate renewable energy into the electricity network and create a stable system — without reliance on coal-fired power.

Debate has been raging in Australia about whether the country needs coal-fired power to provide a stable electricity system, in light of the a number of blackouts in South Australia, which gets about 40 per cent of it electricity from renewables.

But even on Samso, an island in Denmark where renewables provide 100 per cent of the electricity, Mr Hermansen said supply was very stable.

The island has a cable connecting it to the mainland but Mr Hermansen said it was used “rarely”, maybe two to three per cent of the time, at a maximum.

Most of the time, the island is a net exporter of electricity to the mainland.

Samso is an island of about 4000 people, and gets its electricity mainly from wind turbines, both on the island and offshore.

Five of the 10 offshore wind turbines are owned by the local government, three are privately owned mainly by local farmers who pooled their money to fund the project, and the last two are owned by a co-operative of small investors.

Mr Hermansen spoke at the national Community Energy Congress in Melbourne this week, and said local community support was one of the keys to creating a successful renewables grid.

“It requires people to be educated and informed, and to take responsibility for energy consumption and generation,” he said.

“(In the past) they were just consumers in a shop buying energy ... they got a bill every month, they paid it and that’s it.”

Nowadays electricity grids are becoming decentralised. Consumers can participate in the energy system, through things like installing rooftop solar panels that feed energy into the grid or by contributing to community electricity projects.

There are already community-funded solar projects in Australia, including an investor fund that raised $17,500 from 150 people to install a 29.9kW solar farm on the roof of Young Henry’s Brewery in Sydney.

It’s these types of community projects that are helping to generate electricity in Denmark.

Wind power alone produces about 40 per cent of Denmark’s electricity and the country aims to increase this by 100 per cent by 2050.

Power stations help generate the rest but instead of burning coal, many of them use local materials.

Power stations in forested areas are fed with wood chips, those in farming areas used manure and in the city, waste is incinerated.

The country is also innovative in its heating system, developing district heating networks to collect hot water or steam produced by power stations and transport this via water pipes to heat surrounding homes.

This supplies more than 60 per cent of homes in Denmark with heating and hot water. “It reduces our dependency on oil and also produces electricity,” Mr Hermansen said.

Denmark’s last coal fired power station has been decommissioned but is on standby mode until 2024. There is also some natural gas and LNG powered gas stations to help make up any shortfalls.

“The energy sector said this was not possible 10 to 15 years ago but it is happening now with no impact on industry or the security of the system,” Mr Hermansen said.

When asked whether Australia could follow Denmark’s lead, Mr Hermansen said while he didn’t know all the details of the system but it seemed viable.

“You have a lot of natural resources, there’s a lot of wind and other materials,” he said.


"Green" SA faces more power woes after generator goes offline

They just don't have enough baseload capacity after they turned off their coal-fired stations.  Any unusual event can now throw them.  They have virtually no capacity in reserve.  So when bad things happen they struggle to cope.  They need those coal-fired generators. There is no alternative

South Australians have been asked to conserve electricity and consider turning off appliances to avoid potential load-shedding after three units at Torrens Island Power Station went offline following spot fires.

Four spot fires and a possible explosion at the power plant resulted in three units generating a combined 400 megawatts of power going offline at 3:33pm.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) also reported a loss of 200 megawatts of power from the nearby Pelican Point Power Station, which tripped as a result of the Torrens Island incident.

It has asked the market to respond, declaring there was a lack of reserve power available in SA.

There are fears this could lead to load-shedding — ordered by AEMO when power demand outstrips supply — and which most recently led to 90,000 Adelaide customers being switched off during a heatwave in February.

SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said South Australians should turn off all non-essential items when they go home tonight, such as dishwashers and washing machines.

"AEMO has requested as a precautionary measure to help avoid potential load-shedding that people conserve electricity and run air conditioners at a higher temperature of about 26 degrees," he said.

"To meet the drop in supply and manage risk within the system, AEMO has directed available additional generation to turn on."

A Metropolitan Fire Service spokesperson said they sent four appliances to the site and "on arrival found that on-site AGL personnel had extinguished a series of small spot fires using dry power fire extinguishes".

Torrens Island is the state's largest power generator, with a total of eight gas-fired units that generate up to 1,280 megawatts.

It was not clear how many units were in use at the time of the outage and the extent of the damage and time it will take to be repaired remains unknown.

The reliability of SA's power supply has been a controversial topic since September last year when wild weather resulted in a state-wide blackout.

Another blackout occurred in December, when an electrical fault on the Victorian side of the border prompted the failure of the Heywood Interconnector, which was contributing about 220 megawatts into SA's mix

SA Power Networks said the cause of the Torrens Island fires was being investigated and did not appear to be caused by its distribution network.

Mr Koutsantonis said the outage was not caused by "some inherent fragility of the system" but was due to fires and the close proximity of large generators to each other.

"The restart is occurring during a very high demand [period]," he said. "Is it frustrating? Yes absolutely.

"The important thing here now is rather than a blame game is to try and help people help the market operator manage the system for the next couple of hours by keeping the demand low."

Wholesale power prices in SA spiked and hit the maximum allowable limit of $14,000 per megawatt hour.


Next populist showdown is all about immigration

The populist tide now surges towards a truly big target — Australia’s immigration intake, which was lauded by Donald Trump this week as a model — with the anti-immigration arguments based around city congestion, housing affordability, centralisation problems and the Muslim integration issue.

Tony Abbott has called for reduced immigration in recognition this is now the de facto stance of much of the conservative Right. Pauline Hanson wants a halt to further immigration. Liberal defector Cory Bernardi has called for the intake to be halved on economic grounds and expresses alarm about Muslim immigration. And Trump is invoked at nearly every stage of this political campaign.

There is a rich field of grievance for exploitation and Hanson is its most lethal manipulator. “High immigration is only beneficial to multinationals, banks and big business seeking a larger market while everyday Australians suffer from this massive intake,” she said in her maiden speech in the Senate. “Our city roads have become parking lots. Schools are bursting at the seams. Our aged and sick are left behind to fend for themselves. I call for a halt to further immigration and for government to look after our aged, the sick and the helpless.”

There is now intense competition between the Turnbull government and Shorten opposition over cracking down on the 457 visa system for temporary foreign workers. Bill Shorten flirts with his own version of Trump’s populist America-first mantra, saying he believes in “buy Australian, build Australian, employ Australian”.

Trump has made the attack on illegal migrants and Muslim immigration central to his presidency. In Britain, the absence of border controls was pivotal to the Brexit result, while migrant numbers and controls will be critical in the European elections, notably in France.

Australia’s situation is conspicuously different to that of both the US and Europe but it is idle to think such sentiments will not resound here. The immigrant issue or “big Australia” bogy lurks permanently below the surface, waiting to be unleashed.

Yet the foundations of Australia’s immigration policy, built over decades of trial and error, are far superior to that of nearly every other developed nation. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton tells Inquirer: “My approach as minister has been to return to and restore the Howard values and approach to immigration. This means we don’t have to apologise for seeking the best people from around the world to come to this country, and there are currently about 65 million people looking to migrate. We don’t need to be embarrassed about this.

“The objectives of our program are to employ Australians first but commit to skilled migration based on integrity and public confidence in the scheme. That means a hard-nosed approach. The immigration program is not some feel-good exercise. Our goal is to bring to this country people who will work, earn, contribute, educate their children and learn English.”

The principles are entrenched: strong border protection based on zero tolerance for asylum-seekers by boat; a lawful entry program geared heavily to the economy and labour market; separate principles for permanent and temporary entry; and a settlement philosophy geared to integration and embrace of Australian norms despite the radical wing of the multicultural lobby seeking to undermine this.

The test, however, is surely coming. In his speech nine days ago, Abbott drew the nexus between immigration and housing affordability, saying: “If we end the ‘big is best’ thinking of the federal Treasury and scaled back immigration (at least until housing starts and infrastructure have caught up), we can take the pressure off home prices.”

He warned that Australia had “land in abundance” but “Sydney’s house prices are close to Hong Kong’s”. The risk is obvious: linking house prices and immigration will become a media fashion and populist cause.

It is idle to pretend there is no relationship between immigra­tion, as it fuels demand, and house prices, but to justify major changes to the migrant intake on the basis of housing prices (as opposed to other demand and supply factors) lacks any sense of proportion.

The anti-immigration wave moves in cycles. Recall that when Julia Gillard became prime minister she launched a cynical Hansonite assault, exploiting Kevin Rudd’s blunder in calling for a big Australia. Gillard repudiated this notion, saying it was “time to reconsider whether our growth model was right” and declaring that our “clean beaches and precious open spaces” must be protected. It was a focus group project.

As part of his current tactics to fight for Australian workers, Shorten accuses some companies of exploitation and says nurses, carpenters, cooks, childhood educators, electricians and motor mechanics are missing out because “too many work visas are being used as a low-cost substitute for employing an Australian”. It slots perfectly into the crackdown demanded by the trade unions.

For Hanson, lower immigration is a crusade. She has generated huge support for immigration cuts from the conservative media bandwagon that promotes her. In her maiden speech Hanson said: “We have reached a population of 24 million this year, 17 years ahead of prediction. Governments have continually brought in high levels of immigration, so they say, to stimulate the economy. This is rubbish. The only stimulation that is happening is welfare handouts — many going to migrants unable to get jobs.”

Hanson’s campaign has a heavy religious bias. There is no doubt that Australia, like other Western nations, has a Muslim integration problem. But Hanson pushes this to intolerable extremes, saying: “Now we are in danger of being swamped by ­Muslims who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own.”

There is no point simply condemning Hanson. She has a misconceived response to one of the challenges of the age. Political progressives seem clueless about the extent to which ordinary Australians are worried about the ability of Muslims to integrate. The issue needs to be confronted, not denied, but banning Muslim immigration cannot be an answer for Australia.

In relation to the economic and housing impact of immigration, Reserve Bank governor Phil Lowe said recently: “I am fond of telling visitors 40 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. I wouldn’t want to give up that kind of advantage just for property ­prices.”

It may be elitist but the point is valid. Immigration is pivotal to Australia’s economic and social success during the age of globalisation (and it’s not going to disappear despite Trump).

The relatively good news is that Australia is buttressed to some extent to meet the coming political onslaught. Our immigration program is even more geared than normal to economic and labour market needs. Net migration numbers (permanents plus temporaries) have been slashed by more than a third from their record high under Rudd. The 457 temporary worker visa program has been reduced and tightened under the Coalition.

Net overseas migration peaked at a huge 305,900 in the 12 months to March 2009. It became the zenith of the big Australia beloved by Rudd, who had genuine ambitions to build up Australia’s global weight. Since then, no prime minister has used the phrase, as the implications are too electorally risky.

In the current climate, any figure beyond 300,000 annually would be untenable in both economic and political terms. Officials looking back on that period are apt to use the phrase “out of control”. The peak was driven by student visa programs in which an education and migrant package could, in effect, be purchased together. Labor subsequently removed these concessions.

The net overseas migration figure (which counts people if they are onshore for 12 out of the previous 16 months) has fallen on a sustained basis to around 170,000 in 2014-15 with the current government using the working assumption of a 1 per cent annual increase to labour force growth, meaning numbers in the 160,000 to 2000,000 range.

Looking at the main component, the permanent immigration intake, the story has been a model of stability for a number of years. It sits at a 190,000 annual cap, extending from Labor’s final year through the entire Abbott-Turnbull period. This intake is high by our historical norms and high in per capita terms judged against other developed nations. To a large extent, this reflects Australia’s superior economic growth performance. Scott Morrison reminded us this week that Australia is growing faster than any of the G7 countries.

In his recent speech to the Australia-Canada Forum, Lowe said both nations had strong population growth for advanced industrial economies but that over the past decade Australia’s population growth had averaged 1.7 per cent compared with Canada at 1.1 per cent, though these rates were now coming closer together.

In relation to 457 visas, there has been a sharp downward trend since the peak that reflected Labor-initiated ambitions for foreign workers. Under Labor, the program expanded from about 70,000 to 110,000 in September 2013. Now Malcolm Turnbull and Dutton are hammering Shorten for his hypocrisy.

The current 457 numbers are running at 81,000.

“We are cleaning it (the 457 program) up because Labor made a mess of this migration program when they were in government,” Dutton says. “During the glory years of Rudd-Gillard-Rudd during which the Leader of the Opposition was the employment minister, the number of 457 visa, primary visa holders, went from 68,0000 to 110,000 people. This was at the time the Leader of the Opposition, the then employment minister, was saying to Australians that he was putting workers first.”

Shorten, in reply, has pointed to the resources boom as justification. The bigger point is that the politics are now pointing one way — limiting the number of 457 visas while still trying to cater for the demands of the economy.

Dutton says the government will run migration policy according “to the settings that are most effective”. This means “we can’t take people that don’t have the required skills or that can’t make the economic contribution we want”.

The feature of the program these days is the heavy bias to skills over family reunion compared with the pre-Howard era. For instance, in 2015-16 the family numbers were 57,400, compared with the skilled component running at 128,550.

“It was the Howard government that rightly set in place the fundamentals that exist today,” Dutton says. “They were abandoned during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd period. But we have now returned to those principles.”

In the debate about immigration there are four benchmarks: the program has been a vital driver for economic growth; new migrants lower the age profile of the population; without ­migrants, the worker-retiree ratio would be worse; and migrants are vital in a connected world assisting our global networks.


Prejudice against Tasmanians?

Interstate rivalry is mostly a jocular affair in Australia but Tasmanians do seem to have a tendency to be more bothered by it than they should

INFERIORITY complex? Has political correctness spread from race, colour and gender to geography?  Yes, I choked on my organic, certified GM-free muesli with soy last week when I saw the front-page headline in the River City press: “Bullied for being Tasmanian”.

It was the story of an accountant working in Perth who was given a bad time for being from Tasmania.  “I was regularly the butt of office jokes,” he was reported as saying. “Jokes right to my face about me buying lunch from Subway, that I liked Hungry Jack’s, [about] my jumper, my mug [and] that I came from Tasmania.”

Well, in that order, initially I wondered if the bullying might have been more to do with his diet, the jumper and the mug, rather than state of origin.

Anyway he sued his accounting firm, one of the nation’s largest, and it stumped up $120,000 in damages, which should easily cover the cost of his relocation to the gentler confines of Tasmania.

I don’t know how bad the bullying was but I do know that if I had $120,000 for every time in my long career on the big island someone made a joke about me coming from Tasmania, I would now be spending winters in my beachside mansion at Byron.

As one of my bosses once told me when I was pitching a story about my home state: “Charlie, no one gives a rat’s about your crumb-bum, two-headed, inbred little island. There’s not a ratings point in the place.” I didn’t invoke section 18C but I did look annoyed.

“Maaate,” he cajoled. “Don’t go spiralling off with your nightie on fire back down to your rellies in Black Bob’s Country. Why don’t you just get a seat up the front on the next plane to New York? You can interview Hugh Jackman and stay at the Ritz Carlton.”

Well, that must have been $120,000 worth. Tassie was defended and honour was satisfied.

Maybe we are a touch thin-skinned in Tasmania. We grow up in a remote and protected little green bubble where bad things rarely happen – unless you are a marsupial. But when they happen to us, boy, do we remember them.

During recent reminiscing about the 1967 bushfires, a local historian worried that publishing too much detail might be traumatic for those who survived the ordeal.

Very down-home Tasmanian, I thought. Even historians are anxious about bringing up the past.

More than 40 years after the ship hit the span, we still close down the Tasman Bridge whenever a carrier sails under it.

Actuaries tell me the chance of it happening again is a more remote chance than winning a TattsLotto jackpot. But where optimists might say, “Well, someone’s got to win”, Tasmanians will likely say, “Well, someone’s got to lose.”

I get it. Growing up here, I too am a glass-half-empty kind of bloke. I expect the worst. That way, I am rarely disappointed.

I hardly dare mention Port Arthur, except that it so well represents the Tasmanian quandary of whether to remember or forget. I think there is good reason to forever consign the random half-witted maniac killer of April 1996 into outer-darkness and never again mention his name.

On the other hand, there is every reason for remembering the stark horrors of the penal settlement. It is a vital part of our history and the convict system has defined who we are, and is still in play in the high-handed attitude of the authorities in our daily lives.

By the 1880s, there was a movement abroad to destroy all trace of the place and so remove the “convict stain”.

When it comes to the inconvenient past, we could take advice from grand old Persian poet Omar Khayyam;

“The moving finger writes, and having writ,

Moves on; nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line

Nor all they tears wash out a Word of it.”


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

5 March, 2017

Australia’s record-breaking summer heat linked to climate change (?)

This is just modelling:  Games with numbers.  There has been no statistically significant change for decades anyway.  So there is nothing to link to.  Big fraud!

The record-breaking heat seen across southeast Australia in the last few months was made 50 times more likely by climate change, according to new analysis that links the heat directly to global warming.

Southeast Australia was struck by three major heatwaves in January and February, with temperatures climbing as high as 113°F (45°C) in some places. On February 10, Sydney Airport recorded its hottest February day on record, with temperatures hitting 109°F (42°C). The heat was also uncharacteristically persistent?—?Observatory Hill in Sydney saw temperatures reach above 95°F (35°C) for nine consecutive days in January, breaking a 120-year old record. Elsewhere, the consistent heat was even more extreme: in Moore, New South Wales, there were 52 consecutive days with temperatures above 95°F (35°C).

The study, conducted by the World Weather Attribution Program at Climate Central, used climate model simulations and observational data analysis to understand how climate change, caused by an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, might have made these heat events more likely. They found that climate change made the average temperatures seen this summer in Australia 50 times more likely, and made the maximum summer temperatures 10 times more likely.

“In the past, a summer as hot as 2016–2017 was a roughly 1 in 500-year event,” the researchers wrote. “Today, climate change has increased the odds to roughly 1 in 50 years?—?a 10-fold increase in frequency.”

The analysis also warns that heat events like these?—?both punctuated heatwaves and long stretches of above-average temperatures?—?are likely to become more frequent as climate change continues. In the future, according to the study, heat events like the one this summer could happen as frequently as every five years?—?and will likely be more intense, with temperatures averaging at least 1.8ºF (1°C) warmer than they were in the past.

The connection between heat waves and climate change has strong scientific support. In 2015, eight papers published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society’s attribution report?—?an annual report that explains extreme weather events from a climate perspective?—?all linked climate change to heatwaves, showing that climate change clearly made heatwaves either more likely, more intense, or both.

According to data from NASA and NOAA, 2016 was the hottest year on record. Before that, both 2015 and 2014 held that distinction. In fact, 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001.


Trump effect coming in country Australia?

Conservative politician George Christensen sees different attitudes in his regional electorate

Mr Christensen, 38, is channelling deepening backbench disaffection with the Prime Minister and his leadership team, his seat of Dawson is in the eye of a wider storm for Australian politics: the re-emergence of Senator’s Hanson’s party of protest.

One Nation is thriving in the fault line between voters in the prosperous inner cities and the country, as detailed this week by The Australian’s Regions in Revolt series. Dawson is emblematic of the political and socio-economic rift. Anchored in sugar farming, coalmining and tourism, economic growth in the electorate ­consistently outstripped that of the Queensland and national economies until mining con­struction fell over in 2012-13. ­Exclusive modelling for The Weekend ­Australian by Price­waterhouseCoopers shows than unemployment in the Dawson ­region doubled between that time and December 2015, from 3.6 per cent to 8.4 per cent. Reflecting this, take-up of the dole increased by 98.61 per cent in postcode 4740, in the heart of Mackay, in the three years to 2016, government data reveals.

Peter McFarlane, of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, said the average home price in Mackay had slumped from $411,000 to $318,000 in five years. While there are signs of “green shoots” in the property and job markets, it’s not before time.

Mr Christensen wants to tell this story of Australia’s haves and have lesses. The outspoken backbencher this week threw in his job as the Nationals’ chief whip, sacrificing pay of $26,000 a year, to ­become an even greater headache for Mr Turnbull in his self-­appointed role as a straight-­talking advocate for regional Australia and his far-flung ­electorate. While some of his colleagues complain that Mr Christensen is embittered about missing out on a spot in the ministry he claims to have been promised after the election last July reduced the Coalition government’s ­majority to a single seat, the man of the moment is having none of it.

“It had just become completely and utterly not workable for me,” he said of his position as whip.

“You could not have someone who was supposed to enforce party unity and discipline and do what I was doing. I was actually having to hold back most of the time when I was … speaking out. Relinquishing the role makes me feel a lot more free in terms of ­articulating the concerns of the electorate and where I think the government has gone into the wrong area.”

Mr Christensen is convinced that it’s a mistake for the government to support the decision by the Fair Work Commission to reduce weekend penalty rates. In parliament, Mr Turnbull was pursued by Labor over the impact on low-paid workers — even though the industrial umpire had been set up by Labor and the review of penalty entitlements was commissioned by Bill Shorten when he was industrial relations minister.

By week’s end, Coalition backbenchers were “despondent”, Mr Christensen said. “There is no way we can win an argument when you are telling people they can make do with less money.”

The government needed to cut its losses. Mr Christensen backs a proposal by Tony Abbott loyalist Eric Abetz for existing workers’ penalty rates to be protected and for the cuts to be applied only to small business, where cost relief was needed most. He had texted Mr Turnbull and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce to outline his concern about the government’s position, but was given short shrift.

“Let’s just say I gave my view and they gave their views back, and it was not the same view,” he said. “But blind Freddy can see the trouble we are in … this argument is so big we should be doing something to head it off at the pass. It (the FWC decision) was not our decision. We should not be ­wearing it. But we are wearing it.”

Mr Christensen said his apprehension was shared on the government backbench: “I have talked to other MPs who agree with me, yes.”

Asked if the issue could ­threaten Mr Turnbull’s leadership, he said: “I don’t know about that. Leadership speculation is a matter for the Liberal Party and not the National Party, to be honest. I think we are going to have to make decisions which may be political, but the reality is it is in line with what people think.”

Newspoll showed this week that support for One Nation had doubled over summer to 10 per cent nationally, as its leader sought to channel President ­Donald Trump’s appeal to conservative-minded voters in the US. A ReachTEL poll in Dawson conducted for the Left-leaning Australia Institute showed that One Nation and the merged Liberal National Party in Queensland were level-pegging on 30 per cent apiece of the primary vote, a finding Mr Christensen yesterday described as credible. This suggests that his re-election would be dependent on Labor preferences.

He will tell a crisis meeting today in Bundaberg of federal and state MPs and senators for regional Queensland called by state LNP leader Tim Nicholls that a “de-branding” of the amalgam­ated conservative party could be the way forward. Contrary to ­reports in Fairfax Media, however, he remains a supporter of the LNP.

“There is some merit to the ­argument that we (regional MPs) should stand under the brand of the Nationals … do I think it would be better federally? Probably it would be,” he told The Weekend Australian.

State LNP frontbencher Jason Costigan, whose ultra-marginal seat of Whitsunday takes in Mackay’s northern suburbs, won’t be attending the Bundaberg meeting, highlighting the problems One Nation is causing for the LNP. Mr Costigan has portfolio responsibilities for north Queensland. But he said he had other commitments and Bundaberg “was a long way from north Queensland”.

“One of the things in our party is that we have lacked the ability to sell our vision and our policies to the people of Queensland,” Mr Costigan said.

Mr Christensen said Senator Hanson had been able to a “fill a void over values”, especially in regional areas. “People are angry,” he said of the quality of political leadership. “In the regions … we are more conservative, we are more patriotic. People can laugh in the cities that it’s a bit jingoistic, but that’s the reality. Kids stand up at school looking at the flag, they sing the national anthem and some even have a school prayer. Things are done differently here.”

Mr Christensen said he would not accept a promotion to the ministry before the next federal election, due in 2019. Queenslanders are tipped to go to the polls to elect a state government later this year or early in 2018.


Punchbowl Boys High School having Muslim problems

The Punchbowl Boys High School principal and deputy principal have been dumped amid a backlash over the exclusion of female teachers from taking part in ­official events at the largely Muslim public school.

The NSW Education Department confirmed yesterday that principal Chris Griffiths and deputy principal Joumana Dennaoiu had been removed from their roles, following an investi­gation into the school in Sydney’s southwest.

The school’s treatment of its ­female staff is understood to be one of a multitude of issues that have led to the decision. While the department said it was unaware of any official policy at the school that concerned the role of female teachers, The Australian understands a decision was made last year to exclude them from taking official roles in the Year 12 graduation ceremony and the annual presentation day.

Senior female teachers, who expected to play official roles as they had in the past, were upset by the move, for which no explanation had been provided by ­management.

Action by the department comes as Education Minister Rob Stokes seeks legal advice over a protocol implemented at the Hurstville Boys School in Sydney’s south that permits students to decline to shake hands with women in accordance with an ­ancient Islamic hadith.

While Mr Stokes labelled the protocol “sexist” in a radio interview earlier this week, it is understood there are concerns within the government that such a protocol could potentially contravene federal anti-discrimination laws.

Legal advice, when received, is expected to be shared with all principals.

Tensions at Punchbowl have been building since Mr Griffiths took over the top job from Jihad Dib in late 2015. Mr Dib, now the state Labor MP for Lakemba, had a celebrated teaching career and is credited with turning around a school that was once notorious for gangs, drugs and violent crime.

Sources close to the school claim that the broader school community has been gradually shut out. Large community dinners previously hosted by the school, often with 700 people in attendance, have been scrapped and replaced by small invitation-only events.

In the meantime, former students have been barred from visiting the campus.

Meanwhile, the relationship between the Education Department and the school is understood to have soured, with the school understood to have resisted ­numerous requests to provide ­information.

A spokesman for the Education Department said yesterday that Punchbowl Boys High School underwent the department’s regular cyclical auditing process in 2016, which covered a range of ­internal programs and practices, including supervision of prayer groups.

“As a result of a recent ­appraisal of Punchbowl Boys High School, there has been a change in the leadership of the school,” said the spokesman. “A new principal and deputy principal will commence work at the school tomorrow.” He declined to name the new principal.

Mr Stokes, who has been in the role just weeks, has requested regular briefings from the department on the situation.

“Decisive action has been taken by the department to remove the principal and deputy principal from the school,” he told The Australian last night.

“A new principal with great ­experience has been appointed, effective immediately.”


"Aboriginal" woman has $250,000 racial discrimination case against three uni students dismissed for the second time after judge rules they have 'suffered enough'

An aboriginal woman who claimed she was racially abused on Facebook by three university students has lost her appeal to restart legal proceedings against them.

Cindy Prior, an administration officer at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), filed a $250,000 lawsuit against Alex Wood, Calum Thwaites and Jackson Powell after they allegedly posted racist comments about her online in 2013.

She claimed she had been racially abused by the trio after asking Mr Wood to leave an indigenous-only computer room at the university in Brisbane.

Her lawsuit under the Racial Discrimination Act's controversial section 18C was thrown out of court last year and a judge has now ruled that she cannot appeal.

Ms Prior's lawsuit was originally dismissed by the Federal Court after a judge ruled she did not reasonable prospects of bringing a successful case against the three men.

Justice John Dowsett has now dismissed the case for a second time, saying the students had 'suffered more from legal proceedings than any other young person would have suffered in a lifetime'.

The QUT worker, who has been on stress leave since filing the lawsuit, has been ordered to pay more than $200,000 in costs and the legal fees of the three men, The Australian reported.

Ms Prior had argued she was unable to work face-to-face with white people following the incident in a computer lab at the QUT in 2013.

Mr Wood allegedly made a series of Facebook posts after Ms Prior told him to leave the room, which was reserved for indigenous people only. 'Just got kicked out of the unsigned indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation,' he wrote.

The post attracted a number of responses, including one from Mr Powell who wrote: 'I wonder where the white supremacist computer lab is.' Mr Thwaites is alleged to have written 'ITT N***ers', however he denied being responsible for the post.

Justice Dowsett's judgement appeared to criticise 18C as he said Mr Powell's comments were clearly ironic. 'To suggest that humour or irony cannot blunt the most outrageous of statements overlooks the history of such devices, and the extremes to which comedians, authors and speakers commonly use them today,' the judge said.

'No reasonably intelligent person would have understood Mr Powell's posts as other than humour or irony.'

The case has been a rallying point for opponents of 18C, which makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people.

Many Coalition MPs have argued the words 'insult' and 'offend' in section 18C of the act hinder free speech and have called them to be removed.


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

3 March, 2017

Donald Trump's speech to the joint session of Congress spoke highly of Australia's immigration rules

Donald Trump's interest in adopting Australia's so-called "merit-based" immigration system and switching away from low-skilled  foreign workers appears to be the culmination of 12 months of private talks between his advisers and Australian officials.

Mr Trump's senior policy adviser, immigration hardliner Stephen Miller, first met Australian diplomats last March at the Washington residence of Ambassador Joe Hockey.

At the time Mr Trump was leading the Republican primary elections and championing a tough stance against Muslims and illegal Mexican immigrants he labelled "rapists" and "murderers".

The ultra-conservative Mr Miller showed interest in better understanding Australia's immigration system - which prioritises higher-skilled workers in demand from business and blocks people who arrive illegally by boat - according to people familiar with the discussions.

Australian officials briefed Mr Miller on Canberra's targeted immigration rules and points system.

Visas are granted predominantly to skilled workers on their likely contribution to society based on factors such as age, education and work experience.

In contrast, the US residency rules are heavily skewed towards family reunions.

A series of exchanges over policy, including immigration, between Australian officials in Washington and Canberra and the Trump team continued over the past year, sources said.

On Tuesday night in Washington in his first speech to a joint sitting of Congress, President Trump hailed Australia's immigration rules and signalled he wanted to adopt a similar approach.

"The current, outdated [US] system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers," Mr Trump said.

"Nations around the world - like Canada, Australia and many others - have a merit-based immigration system.

"It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially."

Mr Miller was reportedly a major contributor to Mr Trump's speech.

The President's statement was ironic given that weeks earlier he lashed out on social media at a "dumb" deal he inherited from predecessor Barack Obama to accept 1250 refugees from Australian offshore processing centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

During a late January phone call, Mr Trump told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull "this is the worst deal ever", complained that he was "going to get killed" politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the "next Boston bomber", The Washington Post originally reported.

In another twist, Mr Miller is understood to have been one of Mr Trump's advisers most sceptical of honouring the Obama-Turnbull refugee deal.

The referencing of Australia by Mr Trump this week in Congress may be interpreted as a nod to Mr Turnbull; that while the administration loathes the refugee deal, the President respects Australia's targeted immigration laws.

Mr Hockey last month visited the White House to smooth over relations with chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon after the fiery phone call. Ambassador Hockey was on the floor of the Congress for the speech yesterday.

In the US, about 70 per cent of the approximate 1 million people granted permanent residency each year are approved on family-based migration.

About 15 per cent are employment-oriented and 15 per cent humanitarian, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.

Australia accepted 262,170 permanent immigrants last year, including many already living in Australia on temporary visas, according to government data. About 57 per cent were skilled, 34 per cent came through the family migration scheme and 9 per cent were part of Australia's humanitarian stream.

Under strict rules, asylum-seekers who attempt to illegally enter Australia by boat are dispatched to foreign detention centres.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton last October proposed a lifetime ban on adults who attempt to come to Australia illegally by boat.

In the United Kingdom, Australia's points-based immigration system was last year championed by Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson to "take back control of a system that is, at the moment, completely out of control" and to "neutralise the extremists".

A review of past presidential speeches shows that the last time Australia was mentioned in a president's inaugural address to a joint sitting of Congress was in 2001 when George W. Bush thanked Australia "mourning" the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks that killed about 3000 people.


Australia’s energy mess to spark our own Trump revolt

Global markets last night declared the looming Trump-driven US boom back on track. For Australia to duplicate such a boom would require four elements:

First, there needs to be a willingness to slash government administrative waste. The Washington reductions (“draining the swamp”) are monumental. Our waste is worse than that in the US. The Abbott government was elected in 2013 on a promise to slash the waste but it didn’t go through with it. There is no political will.

Second, we would need to raise tariffs or introduce an import tax, which means a return to protectionism. Australia says ‘no’.

Third, an ability to run up a huge deficit in the expectation that the tax cuts and infrastructure spending will create a boom. We certainly run big US-style deficits but by via government spending and waste not tax cuts. A mindset change is required which is not in our political DNA.

Finally, and most important of all, Trump is fostering massive energy developments in oil, gas and coal to drive his job creation and middle class income increases (Trump talks to the believers, March 1).

Here we can do the same thing and do it in a way that slashes our carbon emissions. But our politicians, particularly in states like NSW and Victoria, have no concept of the link between employment and gas usage, so we are actually facing a domestic gas shortage and skyrocketing energy prices.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs are linked to gas. Worse still, we have invested in renewable electricity generation but have not invested in base load power generation or energy storage systems like pumped hydro, so NSW and Victoria face blackouts in coming summers when the Hazelwood brown coal generator is shut down. You can’t have an investment-led recovery like the US when there are energy shortages.

Of the four US elements, energy goes to the core of why the Australian domestic economy will struggle and requires savings run-downs or borrowing for houses to maintain domestic momentum.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that the Origin and Santos consortiums in the Gladstone LNG projects are seriously short of gas from the Surat basin and surrounding areas in Queensland, so they are going to continue sucking gas out of the Cooper Basin and Bass Strait that supply NSW and Victoria — exactly as the chief of BlueScope, Paul O’Malley warned.

How do we solve this problem? We have the gas but state politics is preventing its development

On the surface the most straight forward way would be to bring in a third political party in New South Wales and/or Victoria (either to the right or to the left) who understands the link between gas and jobs

But that’s hard work and there are no obvious candidates at this stage, although one might emerge.

So we’re really left with only one alternative — the Bowen Basin in Queensland although there is gas in the Northern Territory but that too is being blocked by the Northern Territory administration.

The gas in the Bowen Basin is owned by Shell and Petro China. The Bowen Basin gas was originally owned by BHP and then AGL. Shell and Petro China bought the gas field for $3.5 billion and have since invested large sums in it.

There are huge reserves but they are deeper than the Surat basin further south and much more complex. Shell and Petro China drilled a series of some 20 pilot wells but not all of these flowed as well as Shell had hoped, so more work is required to extract the gas economically.

It will therefore take some years to bring Bowen gas to market and the outlays will be large. Probably the best alternative is to pump the gas 250 kilometres to the Wallumbilla gas hub where it can be piped to Sydney and Melbourne.

Alternatively, it can be pumped 500km to Gladstone to reduce the Santos and Origin shortfalls so that they’ll no longer require gas from the Cooper or Bass Strait.

When Shell purchased British Gas in 2015, it acquired the BG LNG project in Gladstone, which is now owned in a consortium with a different Chinese partner. Shell has sufficient Gladstone gas so it doesn’t need to suck gas from the Cooper and Bass Strait to honour its commitments.

Given the costs and complexity of developing the Bowen Basin, it’s probably not at the top of Shell’s agenda. More importantly, Shell needs to make sure it continues to drill in the old British gas areas in the Surat, so that there continues to be enough gas to supply its LNG requirements.

To develop Bowen gas will not only require more development work but the buyers of gas in Victoria and New South Wales will need to come together and offer an iron clad contract to take the gas.

In the past, because we had abundant gas in the Cooper Basin and Bass Strait, Australian gas buyers have never had to secure their supplies. But now they do and the gas will not be cheap but at least it will be available. Of course, the frustrating part of this is that our governments/oppositions in Victoria and NSW are stopping the development the reserves of gas in their states.

These are the sort policies that in the US created the Trump presidency. If the market is right and the US booms, then watch Trumpism spread to Australia on the back of our energy mess.


Australia cracks down on visas for fast food industry

Since 2012, more than 500 foreign staff have been granted a visa - known as 457 - to work at businesses including McDonald's, KFC and Hungry Jack's.

The skilled worker visa, designed to fill Australian shortages, also extends to family members. "Australian workers, particularly young Australians, must be given priority," Mr Dutton said in explaining the change. He said visas would still be granted under exceptional circumstances.

Why Australia's temporary workers' scheme is under fire
According to government statistics, 95,758 people were living in Australia on 457 visas in September last year, compared with 103,862 in 2015. The highest proportion came from India (24.6%), the UK (19.5%) and China (5.8%).

What is the 457 visa?

A four-year business visa which allows people to live in Australia with their immediate family. It is designed to staff industries where there are gaps in skilled labour. Employers must sponsor 457 holders, and only if they "cannot find an Australian or permanent resident"

Successful applicants can freely travel in and out of Australia
In 2016, the most 457s were granted to cooks, developers, programmers and medical workers. Foreign workers had been able to apply for fast-food industry jobs since an agreement in 2012, when the opposition Labor Party was in power.

McDonalds employed more than half the people given 457 visas since 2012

But Labor's employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor queried the new decision, saying the visa did not apply to unskilled workers. "The notion that 457s can take jobs of flipping burgers means either Peter Dutton is lying or they are misapplying the 457 visa," he said.

Mr Dutton conceded the change mostly affected managerial staff, but said the current arrangement did not put Australian workers first. "Genuine business needs for overseas workers which contribute to economic growth will still be considered," he said.

Mr Dutton in December ordered a review of Australia's Consolidated Sponsored Occupational List, which lists more than 650 professions, to ensure that overseas workers "supplement rather than provide a substitute" for Australians.


GDP: Australian economy rebounds 1.1 per cent, beating expectations

Australia has avoided a second consecutive quarter of negative economic growth, rising by 1.1 per cent in the December quarter and beating market expectations.

Overall, the economy grew by 2.4 per cent in the 12 months to December, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

All states and territories grow as the latest GDP figures show Australia has avoided a technical recession.

In the September quarter it had shrunk 0.5 per cent, posting the second-worst result in 25 years as both private and government investment contracted and bad weather disrupted construction.

Ahead of the release of the December quarter figures, Treasury secretary John Fraser told a Senate hearing there was "no denying" the September quarter had been very weak.

A second consecutive quarter of negative growth would have raised the prospect of a so-called technical recession of the kind Australia hadn't experienced since the early 1990s.

Market economists were expecting growth of 0.8 per cent in the December quarter and 2 per cent over the year.

Strong increases in export prices pushed up nominal gross domestic product 3 per cent in the quarter and 6.1 per cent over the year.

The Bureau believes the terms of trade surged 9.1 per cent in the quarter, the most since 2010.

"The decent rebound in doesn't just dash any lingering fears that Australia was in a recession, but it also boosts hopes that the surge in commodity prices will trigger a rapid recovery," said Capital Economics chief economist Paul Dales. "The income recession of 2015 has given way to a mini income boom."


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

2 March, 2017

The crisis for conservatism

Paul Kelly reminds us below that Australia's great conservative Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, had a message similar to Trump.  That does suggest that an Australian version of Trumpism might be very successful today

The fragmentation in Australian politics that sees the fracturing of the voting base of the Turnbull-led Coalition parties highlights a phenomenon evident around many Western democracies including Australia — the crisis of conservatism.

This varies from nation to ­nation but is most convulsive in the US, where Donald Trump has energised the conservative base yet shattered its unity, leading to the question: what does conservatism stand for in the world of 2017?

This question and its competing answers lie at the heart of the contemporary upheavals in the West. Is true conservatism dying in an age of disruption and globalisation where habits of life, work and family are radically shifting?

Will Trumpism save conservatism through populism or herald its intellectual collapse?

The crisis of conservatism is just part of a bigger story in the West: the weakening of the political centre. The tearing apart of the centre is a universal trend, seen in the Brexit vote (against both the Tory and Labour parties), the victory of Trump (against first the Republican and then the Democratic establishment), the rise of the European populists (often at the expense of mainstream parties) and in Australia, albeit to a much lesser extent, the decline of the primary vote for the main parties (the last Newspoll shows the Coalition on 35 per cent and Labor on 36 per cent, not far from a ­split nearly three equal ways).

Around the globe, conservative and progressive/labour parties are in the gun. Their meaning and support base are under extreme pressures. But in Australia, greater damage is being done to the ­Coalition as the governing party during a time of popular grievance with the existing order.

It was in 1994 when John Howard, from the wilderness, first enunciated what became the central organising principle of his success in office: that the Liberal Party was best seen as embodying the two great classical political traditions, liberalism and conservatism. While Malcolm Turnbull admires Howard as a role model, he declines to operate on the same strategy.

In Australian today, there is no leadership figure accepted as the authoritative voice of conservatism. Turnbull does not occupy such a role. Tony Abbott aspires to this position but suffers from the problem that his declarations of conservative belief cannot be separated from the leadership issue. Howard has been retired a decade. Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernardi have made their claims but neither is a high-profile mainstream figure.

This week Abbott unveiled his full mission as he launched a struggle for the soul of the Liberal Party. Abbott’s charge is that Turnbull does not understand the nature of the party he leads because he cannot grasp the essence of conservatism and, as a result, he is doomed to fail. While Abbott is unpopular in the country, he purports to be the more authentic voice of Liberal conservatism in an age of Trump-inspired upheaval on the centre-right.

The first question for Australian conservatives is whether Trump is their ally or a false prophet. Should Australian conservatives follow in Trump’s footsteps? “No, I don’t agree with that,” Howard tells Inquirer. “It’s misreading the political landscape for conservative commentators in Australia to see Donald Trump as the embodiment of modern conservatism.

“Trump is not my idea of a conservative. He is very hard to label and it’s far too early to make a judgment. He may turn out to be a very good president. But it’s a mistake to see him as part of the continuous conservative tradition in the US. Trump is no Reagan or Thatcher and they are the two conservative lodestars in my lived political experience.”

Howard points to Trump’s “apparent abandonment” of trade liberalisation as proof he does not fit the conservative model. His behavioural differences are apparent. Howard says Margaret Thatcher did not publicly ­attack the British intelligence services, nor would Ronald Reagan have ­attacked the family of a US soldier killed in action.

“My argument is that Trump does not fit the Reagan-Thatcher model of a conservative,” Howard says. “Now, of course he doesn’t have to. I think it’s too early to identify where you can locate him philosophically.”

Trump is also far removed from the Howard model of conservatism though Howard says there are overlaps, notably on Trump’s rejection of political correctness, a Howard trait as well.

Yet Howard’s rejection of “Trump as model” is furiously disputed by conservative populists, notably Hanson and Bernardi and many conservative commentators. The lesson Abbott draws from Trump is that without stronger conservative policies, the Coalition will “drift to defeat”.

This leads to a pivotal test for the Liberals. Former Liberal federal director Brian Loughnane tells Inquirer that Trump threatens Coalition and Liberal Party unity in this country.

“The fracturing driven by Trump threatens to contaminate mainstream conservatism,” he says. “Preserving the best of conservatism to ensure it can offer a viable alternative to Trumpism will be a key challenge in the next few years.

“(Trump’s) success makes the political management of the centre-right in Australia more complex. This means there is a political precondition for the Coalition to govern effectively and that is keeping the disparate groups on the conservative side tied into the ­Coalition’s umbrella and not doing their own thing.”

Yet, as Loughnane knows, they are doing their own thing. Nobody can predict how far the Hanson breakout will extend but it has the potential to destroy the Turnbull government. This reinforces Loughnane’s most vital point, that governing well is not enough if the conservative base is fragmenting.

The Turnbull Coalition is being damaged not on the Left but on the Right. Its priority should be a strategy to hold conservative voters to the Liberal Party. Howard makes the same point yet admits the structural nature of the problem.

“This is a function of the generic fragmentation of the major party vote,” he says. “In a sense the fragmentation that afflicted the Labor Party via the Greens has begun to catch up with the ­Coalition on the Right. We saw a bit of this at the 2013 election with Clive Palmer and we saw a repeat at the last election. It’s now almost a detachable flank on both sides.

“There is a danger for the ­Coalition in losing people who are instinctively conservatives to parties like One Nation. The Liberal Party must be alive to that. People who vote for One Nation would be, in the main, cultural traditionalists and these people should find their natural home in the Liberal Party or the National Party. We’ve got to hold on to those people.”

Abbott agrees but goes further in a sustained indictment of Turnbull without naming him. He says disillusioned conservatives believe the government “has become Labor lite”. He wants a more muscular conservatism, an agenda to contest the Left’s “long march through the institutions”, and now offers a series of policies that he ­either dodged or ditched in office.

Abbott admits his own failures. But the real issue being raised by Howard, Loughnane and Abbott, each pivotal to recent Liberal history, is Turnbull’s ideological and philosophical leadership of the party. Turnbull, as a natural progressive, is a different Liberal leader — still evolving, but from a different mould.

This raises the critical question: what is the key to Liberal Party success? History points to a sustained theme, the ability to champion and hold together the liberal and conservative traditions. The remarkable individual and collective success of Robert Menzies, Malcolm Fraser and Howard in office testifies to their mastery of this art. Each managed to hold the ­allegiance of conservatives and liberals, striking a balance between stability and progress. The experience of the Abbott-Turnbull era suggests this art is either lost or awaiting rediscovery.

It is astonishing, therefore, that perhaps the strongest media critique of Turnbull in his first year as PM, delivered on a virtual weekly basis, was that he should have moved decisively to the progressive side by sharply lifting the ­government’s climate change ambitions, authorising a free vote on same-sex marriage and even taking up the republican cause.

Anyone who thinks this was marrying the conservative and liberal traditions must live on another planet. It was doing the exact opposite. Such media critiques assumed, dubiously, these moves would lift Turnbull’s public standing while ignoring what would happen to his standing among his colleagues and voting base. The ensuing turmoil would have wrecked his government and jeopardised his leadership. Imagine the scale of the conservative voting haemorrhage today had Turnbull followed such advice, particularly on climate change.

The deeper point here is the sheer confusion and disputation about the essence of the Liberal Party and how it succeeds in power. Unsurprisingly, this confusion extends into the ranks of the party itself. The great folly in grappling with non-Labor politics is to assume the Liberal Party is primarily a liberal party or alternatively that it is a conservative party — a natural instinct, yet such interpretations merely shrink the scope of its broader appeal.

Much of this confusion arises from the endless debate about Menzies himself, his purpose and practice. Explaining the party’s name, a defining decision, he ­famously said: “We took the name Liberal because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary but believing in the individual, his rights, and his enterprise and rejecting the socialist panacea.”

This reflected three themes pivotal in the Liberal Party ethos, meaning and contemporary significance. First, Australia as a new-world society without any aristocracy, ruling class or established church and riven with a convict emancipist outlook that “one man was as good as another” was a polity where conservatism was weak.

There was no conservative ruling order and those who tried to pretend otherwise were usually mocked. Indeed, as historian John Hirst said, the word “conservative” was frequently used as a term of abuse. Europeans settled on this continent after the American and French revolutions and as the 19th century advanced, political liberalism was as potent in this country as at any place on earth.

In 1909, when the fusion took place and the party system was formed with the merger of Alfred Deakin’s Protectionists and the Free-Traders, previously led by George Reid, the new party became the Liberal Party. The separation between Australia and Britain was sharp: this nation has never had a Tory party.

The non-Labor side remade itself four times during the 20th century. After the 1916 Labor split, it became the Nationalist Party. During the Depression it became the United Australia Party. And in 1944 under Menzies it became the Liberal Party again. It was never called the Conservative Party.

The sustained historical impulse on the non-Labor side is unmistakable: that conservatism alone will never suffice in Australia. Stand-alone conservatism has never had a hope in this country and it never will. Promoted as a tradition and practice in its own right — witness many noisy advocates today — it will always fail at the ballot box. Menzies knew this.

The second theme is embedded in Menzies’ words. The new anti-Labor Party had to embrace a powerful set of positive ideas. As historian Judith Brett says, the non-Labor side in Australia was distinctive, operating in a young society, aware it must promote change as well as stability, and ­appealing not just to economic interests but to the moral virtues of the middle class.

The context was vital. Menzies saw the interwar years as a time of poisonous division and stagnant policy. His mission was not just to defeat socialism but to offer a more persuasive alternative. Convinced that non-Labor had made the mistake of being “the man who says no’”, Menzies said: “There is no room in Australia for a party of reaction. There is no useful place for a policy of negation.”

The Liberal Party he created would stand for a repudiation of class division, the espousal of savings, investment and reward. Individual freedom and enterprise was the heart of his philosophy. “Governments do not provide enterprise; they provide controls,” he said. “There cannot be rising living standards if all we propose to do is redistribute what we now have. We must produce more and produce it more cheaply.”

This view is as relevant today as it was in the 1940s.

Menzies believed in the battle of ideas and principles to combat Labor and, for most of his time, he won the battle of ideas, as did Fraser and Howard. If Liberal governments do not engage in the battle of ideas and do not win the battle of ideas, they fail. In short, good governing is not enough

The third theme is that Menzies also governed as a conservative, with the power of his conservatism originating in his “forgotten people” philosophy. In his immortal phrase, the middle class was “the backbone of the country” and the values of home and family became the invisible political current between himself and an expanding nation during the 50s.

Declaring the “real life” of the nation was found in homes of the “nameless and unadvertised”, Menzies located the national virtue in “homes material, homes human, homes spiritual”. For a long time, Menzies tapped into this current until, towards the end, the middle class outgrew him and left him behind.

The conclusion is unmistakable: the conservative tradition that tapped into the powerless and forgotten was indispensable to Liberal Party identity. Those who say the Liberal Party is essentially a party of liberalism and progressivism misread Menzies and the basis of his success. His credo was inclusive: the party must reach the hardworking, conservative but powerless “backbone” of the ­country.

When interviewed, Howard says his 1994 two traditions construct was based on “my lived experience” in the party. “I based that view on what I thought the Liberal Party had become,” he says. In reality, he offers fresh life to the Menzian philosophy. Coming after the fierce wet/dry internal conflicts of the 80s, this “broad church” construct was highly useful in providing “an umbrella under which the party could function”. In office, it became an instrument for electoral ­success.

In simplified terms, Howard deployed the liberal tradition of ideas (mainly policies to buttress economic growth and jobs) to hold the centre and resist voter defection to Labor while he used the conservative tradition to buttress defections to the Right and One Nation. Howard saw politics as a battle of ideas via the media.

He took positions in public debate to project his profile as a values politician with a mixture of liberal and conservative positions: tight gun laws, limiting native title, privatisations, budget surpluses, tax reform, work for the dole, anti-drug campaigns, support for traditional marriage, fighting Islamist terrorism, backing East Timor’s independence, initiating tough border protection, honouring the Anzac ethos and championing the fair go.

Operating 20 years before Trump’s victory, Howard was brazen in his use of populism, saying: “I am fairly mainstream. I can’t be, in any way, typecast as an establishment figure.”

He wanted the word “mateship” in the Constitution while protecting the monarchy. He hated the phrase “middle ground” as too weak. He used “mainstream Australians” as a parallel to Menzies’ “forgotten people” to appeal to those who felt sidelined by the elites.

Howard used his conservatism as a weapon of political attack, often confounding Labor and his media critics, just as he used his economic liberalism as a weapon of attack from his 1998 success with the GST-led tax reform to the 2007 epic failure with Work Choices. In office, he probably developed the clearest philosophy of any Liberal leader, summarised as economic liberalism and social conservatism.

Asked whether this philosophy remains relevant in the age of Trump and populist upheaval, Howard says: “Yes, I do think that, in some respects even more so.

“Everything is a bit different after 10 years but I find in Australia today there are still a large number of people who see themselves as cultural traditionalists. For instance, just look at the positive response to the suggestion in NSW that the school curriculum is going back to basics. What’s disappointed me is an issue like Safe Schools. When that emerged it should have been hit on the head by centre-right governments at federal and state level. It should have been a simple and vigorous response. We need to understand that on cultural issues, symbols and attitudes are important.

“We have to explain — and I think Malcolm Turnbull is well ­positioned to do this — the global benefits of openness in trade and economics and how much better off the world is because of globalisation and the export of competitive capitalism to Asia.

“This is a moral argument. If you want a moral challenge for the world, it’s eliminating poverty. That’s a much greater challenge than eliminating climate change. In the last 15 to 20 years we’ve lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. This is a terrific story and it’s something the centre-right parties of the world should go on the ­attack over.

“The economic reform debate is still there. Yes, you have to look after the losers. But if people think the Liberal Party should retreat from economic reform, then they’re wrong.”

Howard, like Menzies, was not just a governing PM. He was an agent of populist and ideological attack, aware this was the only way to combat the Labor Party. This method arose, as in Menzies’ case, from the depth of his own understanding of the Liberal Party tradition and his confidence in seeking to reinterpret that tradition for his own time.

Turnbull, as Liberal leader, is yet to offer a fully matured and developed view of his own philosophy of the Liberal Party, the balance between liberalism and conservatism. Maybe he won’t. The past few weeks have seen a resurgent Turnbull, more aggressive, more ready to engage in political combat and the battle of ideas. The party desperately wants him to succeed. There is little support for Abbott and his widening assault on Turnbull threatens to isolate him further.

The historical record, however, cannot be ignored. The successful Liberal prime ministers, Menzies, Fraser and Howard, spent much time developing, outlining and projecting their philosophy and ideas. Fundamental to their success was putting the Labor Party of their time under challenge from core Liberal belief.

The Liberal Party waits on Turnbull. Its philosophical history is rich enough to meet the challenge of the Trumpian age. Under assault from the different brands of Bill Shorten’s populism and Pauline Hanson’s populism, Turnbull cannot keep delaying. He needs to ­articulate his inner core, expose his heart, address the dilemmas facing his party, offer his own version of liberalism and a credible reason why conservatives should remain within the tent.


Plea to fix ‘girl-friendly’ bias in NAPLAN testing

The headmaster of Australia’s oldest independent school, the King’s School, has called for an overhaul of the national numeracy and literacy tests, arguing the current assessment favours girls over boys.

Tim Hawkes said four of the five domains in NAPLAN, the ­National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy, were ­focused on literacy and the exam was “substantially a test of literacy and that’s a traditional area of strength with girls, who typically enjoy a word-rich learning style’’.

About 50 per cent of students sitting NAPLAN, he said, were ­typically stronger in STEM ­(science, technology, engineering and maths) than they were in literacy and, coupled with fewer numeracy questions, this was “massively ­disadvantaging boys’’.

“There would be very few ­serious educators who would not conclude that the existing ­NAPLAN exam is much more girl-friendly than it is boy-­friendly. It is time this bias was corrected,’’ Dr Hawkes said.

Last year’s NAPLAN results showed girls in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9 outperformed boys in literacy but the tables were turned for all grades in numeracy.

Australia Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive Robert Randall said the NAPLAN tests were ­designed to be fair to boys and girls, and any difference in achievement could be the result of a range of factors, including levels of ­engagement or teaching.

“NAPLAN test development process and analysis includes checking all test items for gender bias and removing any items that appear to favour either gender from test analysis,’’ he said.

Dr Hawkes’ critique from the prestigious Parramatta school in Sydney’s west comes as another leading principal, Paul Browning from the co-educational St Paul’s School in Brisbane, warns Australia is in danger of losing sight of what an education worth having really is. He blames a highly politicised “culture of fear’’, which he says is forcing some schools to “teach to the test’’ instead of ­inspiring creativity and entrepreneurial skills.

“We’re not saying that testing isn’t important — students need to learn how to read and write — but this fixation on standardised testing as the ultimate measure of a ‘successful’ education is not healthy,’’ Dr Browning said.

“Nobody is talking about the correlation of when we started to report and create leagues tables of our schools’ performances and the decline in our international standing in the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results.’’

Dr Hawkes, who backs ­NAPLAN as a diagnostic tool and believes results should be publicly reported, said “fortunately, our NAPLAN results at King’s are good, but I feel for boys’ schools in general because they are being compared with co-ed and girls’ schools who traditionally do very well in literacy-based tasks”.

Mr Randall said: “NAPLAN tests the important skills of literacy and numeracy. The assessment of these skills, through the NAPLAN domains or subjects of reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy. has been agreed by Education Council. Any changes to the domains assessed as part of NAPLAN would require approval of ministers.’’


18C: Gillian Triggs gets it wrong again

The lawyer for Bill Leak has accused Gillian Triggs of being “just wrong’’ over the origins of the 18C complaint against The Australian’s cartoonist.

In a radio interview this morning, the Australian Human Rights Commission president was at odds with key statements by Justin Quill, the lawyer representing Leak, who was subjected to an 18C case over a cartoon depicting indigenous disadvantage.

Professor Triggs told ABC Radio that she did not believe that Mr Quill had responded to the Human Rights Commission by offering a defence of his client under section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Section 18D offers protection from rules making it unlawful to offend or insult somebody on the basis of their race if it has been done “reasonably and in good faith” as part of an artistic work or intended as a contribution to the public debate.

Professor Triggs yesterday claimed she would have immediately dismissed the complainants against Leak had she received a justification along these lines, arguing the Commission had twice requested one.

But Mr Quill told The Australian that he had responded, defending the cartoon as being “created in good faith and for a genuine purpose in the public interest in accordance with 18D.”

Professor Triggs sought to cast doubt over this claim. “That’s not my understanding of the matter,” she told ABC radio. “And as he’s raised that, that is directly contrary to my advice about this case.”

Mr Quill said: “Professor Triggs is just wrong’’.

“Rather than shifting blame to the ‘advice’ she was given I would suggest she read the correspondence herself before appearing before Senate estimates again. In particular, she should read the letter sent to the commission on October 21, 2016 (see below extract)”

Professor Triggs also said the proposed changes to section 18C as handed down yesterday in a parliamentary committee were “disappointing” because no new ground was traversed in terms of reform to racial vilification laws.

“It’s been extremely disappointing because we’ve really only had a consensus to list a series of options that were already on the table and already well known,” she said.

She also argued that replacing the words “insult” and “offend” with another term like “harass” would only achieve “very little” change.

“The point has been made that these are suggested solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist and we really don’t have a problem with 18C. The Australian public doesn’t really follow it very much, doesn’t really see it as an important on the agenda. And we know that it works extremely well.”

Professor Triggs also sought to tackle arguments that pushed for reform of the complaint making process to the Human Rights Commission amid suggestions too many “frivolous” complaints were being made.

She argued reform on this score would achieve only very minor changes.

“One of the very sensible recommendations is that the President should have the power not to proceed with a matter that’s not warranted,” Professor Triggs said. “The truth is ... that the matters we deal with in the main do have substance.”

Pressed on how many frivolous complaints came before the Commission each year, Professor Triggs said: “I think it would be minuscule (or) very tiny. There would be some.”

“Fortunately, the ones that are actually in the public arena, and they would be one in thousands ... they would probably be cases that would not be dismissed as frivolous.”

Professor Triggs also clarified the Leak case was not deemed as frivolous. She said that, even if reforms to weed out frivolous claims were implemented, this would not stop similar cases from proceeding in future.

“That case would almost have certainly have been one that we would have taken a preliminary view on. On the face of it, that cartoon is one that raised an 18C issue,” she said.


School testing "fixation" ruining creativity

This is an old cry.  But can creativity be taught?  I doubt it

A Brisbane school principal says the Federal Government is missing the point by launching an inquiry into Australia’s innovation challenge while refusing to look at the school system.

St Paul’s School principal Dr Paul Browning said the Federal Government’s inquiry into Innovation and Creativity: workforce for the new economy had laudable aims but was flawed while its terms of reference focused only on tertiary education.

“It is not merely the tertiary sector that should be examined from the perspective of growing the workforce’s creative capacity,” Dr Browning writes in St Paul’s School’s submission to the Federal inquiry.

“Western economies are going through a hollowing?out process of middle?class jobs. These jobs are being automated or off?shored at an increasing rate. The emerging jobs require high levels of creativity and an entrepreneurial capacity.

“Furthermore, increasing amounts of research indicate a capability gap between the skills and mindsets of students emerging from our schools today, compared to those they will need to perform the jobs of tomorrow.

“It is imperative that we begin to regard creativity and entrepreneurial skills as part of what counts in education today. For this reason, we believe the terms of reference for this inquiry should be expanded to include primary and secondary schools.”

Dr Browning said it was disappointing that the office of Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham had reiterated recently that primary and secondary education would not be considered by the inquiry.

The Minister’s office stated that a curriculum review was recently completed. However, Dr Browning says this misses the point.

“The issue isn’t the curriculum, it’s what we prioritise.  Schools and teachers are developing an unhealthy fixation on having to achieve improvements in literacy and numeracy at the detriment of creativity because a school will be named and shamed if they don't,” he said.

Dr Browning said schools could make changes while remaining within the bounds of the national curriculum. He said St Paul’s School was proactive in fostering creativity and innovation within its students, pioneering several programs including the design of a new subject in the Junior School called Immersion Studies Time.

“The truth is, it’s possible to foster creativity within the current curriculum. You can do this by releasing the pressure created by standardised testing and providing professional development for teachers to help them nurture and grow a person's natural creative abilities,” Dr Browning said.

“We’re not saying that testing isn’t important – students need to learn how to read and write – but this fixation on standardised testing as the ultimate measure of a ‘successful’ education is not healthy.”

Via email

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

1 March, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says Turnbull is not conservative enough

Muslim fraudster caught but shows no remorse

We are just cattle to be exploited in her Muslim values

A millionaire Muslim woman who posed as a 'battling single mother' so she could live in public housing for 15 years has had her appeal thrown out of court.

Rebecca Khodragha, 44, appeared at Parramatta District Court on Wednesday to fight her three months home detention sentence, hoping for it to be lightened to community service.

The married mother-of-two, whose husband owns an electrical business which rakes in more than $1million each year, was given the sentence in 2016 when she was convicted of welfare fraud.

Rebecca Khodragha, 44, had her appeal thrown out in court on Wednesday and will now be kicked out of her housing commission apartment

The court was previously told that Ms Khodrangha's husband Khaled Sabsabi owned a lucerative electrical contracting business which was registered to the housing commission address.

At the same time Ms Khodrangha was claiming welfare benefits, the couple owned two other investment properties - in Lakemba and Greenacre - which they later sold for a significant profit.

Justice Martin Sides said mother-of-two had an 'absence of remorse' and 'complete lack of insight', and dismissed the appeal.

The court heard that despite the fraud conviction, Ms Khodragha is still living in public housing and receives Centrelink payments.

Ms Khodragha married husband Khaled in an Islamic ceremony in 1991 but their wedding was unregistered and the pair have been in a Punchbowl housing commission unit in the city's south-west since that year, 7News reported.


Must not refer to illegal immigrants as "fleas"

None of the "aylum-seeker" detainees are in fact refugees.  None of them came to Australia directly from their own countries.  So they already had refuge before they departed for Australia

LIBERAL Senator David Fawcett has clarified a statement where he appeared to describe asylum seekers as “fleas” while quizzing the Immigration Department over border protection.

The senator made the statement while responding to Employment Minister Michaelia Cash in a senate estimates hearing at Parliament House today. Minister Cash had defended the Turnbull Government’s track record on border protection by saying it was “still trying to clean up” a mess left by the former Labor government.

Senator Fawcett, a panel member of the estimates hearing, responded: “I’ll leave it there, I just question the ethics of nitpicking when your particular group brought the fleas in the first place.”

Senator Ian Macdonald, who made headlines this month by defending the Life Gold Pass for retired politicians, laughingly said “Nicely put.”

Senator Fawcett has since clarified his comment, saying he was describing the Labor Party’s dispute of a very small detail of processes at a time the Immigration Department was under great stress and that the stress was due to Labor policies at the time.

“If they were nitpicking they were responsible for the cause of the irritation,” he said.

Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann had called on the senators to apologise for their comments after they were initially made.

“It is beyond belief that a Turnbull Government senator would ever refer to vulnerable people seeking asylum as fleas, and even worse, to have other Coalition senators laugh, cheer and eagerly agree,” Mr Neumann told News Corp.

“Senators Fawcett and MacDonald should immediately apologise for their comments and start treating Australia’s humanitarian program with the respect and seriousness it deserves.”


Michaelia Cash nailed ABCC’s value by calling out building cartels

If you’ve been paying attention, you will know that this week people in the construction union and someone from academe have been jumping up and down, loudly catastrophising the impact of recent changes to the Australian Building and Construction Commission legislation. Senator Derryn Hinch, who arranged to delay the implementation of the laws last year, reflected on his actions over the Christmas period. Now we have brought forward the key weapon in the fight against corporatised corruption in our building and construction sector: the implementation of an anti-corruption building code.

Hinch’s is a welcome move for consumers, employers and workers. It’s not so welcome for construction unions and the many businesses owned by them and operated in conjunction with employer groups. The rivers of dirty gold might dry up just a little.

Dave Noonan is the national secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s construction division. This week, this newspaper carried a picture of him, looking suitably forlorn, alongside terrifying predictions of industry Armageddon. Contributing to the prophecies was University of Adelaide law professor Andrew Stewart. He railed against the inconvenience to business and denounced the code as an “unholy mess” of the government’s making.

If we are to believe these chaps, now that the industry will be required to not act corruptly, chaos, confusion and business disruption will imminently be upon us. Five thousand businesses will be in turmoil; there will be demands by the union for more money, marches in the streets, protests involving the manufacturing and transport sectors and, more generally, hell to pay.

Now is the precise moment that every single person in the country must ignore Noonan and his grieving mates. This is the wail of the ditched boyfriend, the spurned lover. We are seeing the break-up to end all break-ups: tier-one construction firms are going to have to break up with their dearly beloved chums in the unions. They will have to stop forcing their subcontractors into union enterprise bargaining agreements, and deal ethically with the subcontractors instead.

Unions are going to have to break up with the corporates that support them. Can you imagine the golf days that will have to be cancelled? Now, unions will have to go back to raising money the old-fashioned way, by walking up to workers at building sites in their lunch hour and asking them to join the union.

Noonan wasn’t the only one sooking in recent times. A few executives were a bit put out too. You see, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash nailed them, really nailed them, in parliament.

For decades, the big players in the construction sector have had the rest of the community conned. They complain about the unions, but really, they have always been in business with them. There is more profit that way.

In government ranks the penny has dropped, and Cash blasted the “big end of town”. She said, “I am not going to blame the CFMEU here, because ... it takes two to tango … So I am going to lump Lendlease in there and I am going to lump Probuild in there, on Hansard. I am going to say to them: ‘The reason we are doing this is to stop your cartel-like behaviour.’ ’’

Cash told parliament how small and medium-sized building contractors, if they want to work on jobs managed by tier-one builders such as Lendlease and Probuild, have to sign union EBAs at the insistence of the builders. This behaviour is forbidden by the new code.

Contrary to the union line, the code does not prevent building companies from employing apprentices or casuals, nor does it inhibit the safety of workers.

The code does not apply to unions at all, it only applies to companies. Simply, the code prohibits large companies from forcing smaller companies into union EBAs.

The punishment for breaking the code is the tier-one in question would be denied federal government work. As Cash said, subcontractors “cannot stand up to the CFMEU, they cannot stand up to Lendlease, they cannot stand up to Probuild’’ and that “what the code is seeking to do is break — we admit it — the ­cartel-like behaviour between head contractors and unions.’’.

Lendlease rejected the Minister’s characterisation, saying it is not engaged in cartel-like behaviour. Australia is known as the most expensive construction destination on the planet. There is ample proof that cartel-like conduct by tier-one builders and the construction unions has led us to this point.

Recently, I spoke with a contractor who was phoned by a tier-one firm and asked to consider tendering for some work. Several days later, a complete stranger to their completely non-union workplace arrived: a union rep. He mentioned the tender, dropped a union EBA on the desk and waxed lyrical about the “benefits of a union relationship”, but made the contractor aware he would need to be “kept happy”.

The contractor emailed the tier-one to say he wanted to tender for work but wouldn’t be entering into an EBA with a union. He already had an EBA with his staff, and everyone was happy, would that do?

A reply came straight back, his tender wouldn’t be required, not now, not ever.

Ominously, the email was signed off with the words “Good luck”. This is how a company in a cartel behaves.

Long live the code, and good luck to all those who breach it.


International students studying in Australia reach record numbers, Education Department figures show

Figures from the federal Education Department show there were 554,179 full-fee paying international students in 2016, an increase of more than 10 per cent on the previous year.

The higher education sector had the largest share of Australia's international students, with 43 per cent.

Of those the largest numbers came from China and India.

The vocational education sector accounted for 26 per cent of international student enrolments with English Language Intensive Courses attracting 21 per cent.

The schools sector only attracted 3 per cent of the total figure.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the numbers showed the importance of attracting overseas students. "International education is now our third largest export sector generating more than $21 billion of economic activity in Australia, supporting many jobs and providing benefits to both Australian and international students," he said.

"There are real upsides in terms of the jobs that are created, the opportunities for Australian students to study alongside international students and to gain exposure to people from more than 200 different countries who are now studying in Australia."

As well as the data on enrolments, the Government has released the results of last year's International Student Survey.

The survey found 89 per cent of students were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience 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

Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Another bit of Australian: Any bad writing or messy anything was once often described as being "like a pakapoo ticket". In origin this phrase refers to a ticket written with Chinese characters - and thus inscrutably confusing to Western eyes. These tickets were part of a Chinese gambling game called "pakapoo".

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

Would you believe that there once was a politician whose nickname was "Honest"?

"Honest" Frank Nicklin M.M. was a war hero, a banana farmer and later the conservative Premier of my home State of Queensland in the '60s. He was even popular with the bureaucracy and gave the State a remarkably tranquil 10 years during his time in office. Sad that there are so few like him.

A great Australian wit exemplified

An Australian Mona Lisa (Nikki Gogan)

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."

A great Australian: His eminence George Pell. Pictured in devout company before his elevation to Rome


Alternative (Monthly) archives for this blog


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral Reef Compendium
IQ Compendium
Queensland Police
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger
My alternative Wikipedia


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Bank of Queensland blues

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