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?


29 March, 2018

Brainless do-gooders to make Aboriginal crime problem worse

What is their solution to the high rate of Aboriginal crime?  To reduce the penalties!  They want to abolish jail for fine defaults, for instance.  Do they know nothing about human behaviour? Basic psychology tells us that to reduce the undesired behaviour you need to INCREASE the penalties, not reduce them.  But Leftist "solutions" almost invariably worsen the problem so this ideological claptrap is nothing new.  They are trying to signal their own big heartedness, not help Aborigines

Australia has reached "crisis point" when it comes to the rate of indigenous people being sent to jail - especially women, lawyers say.

Federal and state governments are facing calls for urgent action as the latest statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders continue to be "alarmingly" over-represented in prison.

In a report tabled in federal parliament on Wednesday, the Australian Law Reform Commission says Indigenous Australians are 12.5 times more likely to be in jail than non-indigenous people.

Indigenous women, who make up more than a third of the country's female prison population, are 21.2 times more likely to be incarcerated than their non-indigenous sisters.

"The cycle of incarceration will continue devastating families and communities if we do not remodel our approach to criminal justice," Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT chief executive Lesley Turner said in a statement.

The Law Council of Australia labelled it a "national crisis" that requires immediate action.

It has called on governments to adopt the ALRC's 35 recommendations and not shelve them - like many from the 1991 royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody report were.

"The ALRC's recommendations offer a renewed roadmap to end disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in incarceration," president Morry Bailes said.

The commission has suggested establishing a new body to redirect resources from the criminal justice system to community-led initiatives to address the issues driving crime and imprisonment.

It also wants all levels of government to repeal mandatory sentencing that disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, amend bail laws to ensure they're culturally appropriate, and scrap jail terms for unpaid fines.

On top of that, it has recommended a national inquiry into child protection laws and processes affecting indigenous Australians and specified national targets to reduce the rate of incarceration rates and violence against them.


Final proof the ABC is completely out-of-touch? Taxpayer-funded broadcaster's CHILDREN'S video mocks 'male privilege' using a sick refugee to illustrate 'white Australians' UNEARNED advantages'

The ABC has been forced to remove the Facebook page for its children's 'ME' channel after a barrage of angry viewers took offence at a video explaining 'white male privilege'.

In the video, two young female presenters try to explain the concept of privilege to the channel's primary-school aged audience through rap and cartoons of two people trying to cross a stream.

Initially published to the channel's social media about five months ago, the clip was recently shared across a number of right-wing Facebook groups - with many outraged at the video's content and the fact it was aimed at such young children.

In the video, viewers are introduced to Ross, a straight male in his mid-40s who is 'rather wealthy', in good health and born in a peaceful country. Ross is able to teleport across the stream.

They then meet Stevie, a female refugee who doesn't speak much English and has little money. Rather than being travelling across the stream by teleportation, Stevie the refugee has to swim across the stream, despite developing a cough just before she jumps in.

The video ends by explaining Ross was able to cross the stream due to his privilege.  

'He was born with advantage, unearned gifts that his life was granted,' one host raps.

'He might not think about his in-built perks, but that's just the way that privilege works.'

While many chose to vent their anger on the various pages the video had been shared to, such as: Political Posting Mumma, The Bolt Supporter Group, Lessons in Liberty, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Supporter Group, Mark Latham's Outsiders Supporter Group, Stop Communism in America, and Marriage Matters, others began to comment on the ABC post.

A spokesman for ABC told Daily Mail Australia the page had been 'reluctantly removed' as a result.

'The ABC ME Facebook page was created for Australian school-aged children and their families,' they said. 'Due to the high level of inappropriate comments, we will consider other ways to engage with our intended audience.'

In groups where the video remains online, comments call the video 'mentally deranged and pathetic', and claim primary-aged children aren't equipped to deal with issues such as social injustice.

'These social justice warriors are really trying to find unhinged ways to explain 'White Privilege' to children. Not only is it utterly pathetic it's very stupid too,' one man wrote.

Another said the cheesiness of the rap and use of cartoons indicated the video was designed for children at the younger end of ABC ME's target audience, who would not be able to comprehend the issue.

'What the f*** are you doing trying to make little kids feel like s*** over stuff they can't control when that morning they were probably worrying about what best f****** crayon to use,' he wrote.

A woman denied the existence of white privilege and said only those born into wealth had the privilege described in the clip.

ABC declined to respond to questions as to whether the material was appropriate for its audience.


Brisbane jogger bashed by Africans

KIMBERLY Smith was jogging through her local park in Brisbane when she was savagely beaten by two women.

Now she has described her attack, which left her with a fractured cheekbone, how it took place and how she believes racial tension in her community may be to blame.

“Think your (sic) safe to go for a run around your neighbourhood..... apparently not,” she posted of Facebook along with pictures of her bruised and bloodied face following the altercation over the weekend.

Ms Smith described how she was running through a park in the suburb of Redbank Plains, in Brisbane’s southwest, when she was approached by two women — who she claims were of African descent.

The Queenslander claims that they were yelling abuse at her as she ran, so she decided to ask them what the issue was.

“When I’m running, I generally keep to myself and I wouldn’t have taken notice. But out of the corner of my eye I saw them coming closer and closer,” she told

“They kept shouting at me, so I just asked them what their problem was. I didn’t hear them because I had earphones in.

“Then I just felt this pain and I vaguely remember being knocked to the floor. The next thing I remember is picking myself up off the ground and trying to find help.”

She believes the women punched her once in the head — but says she lost consciousness so she can’t be sure.

Shaken up by the assault, Ms Smith managed to flag down a passing car and collapsed on a median strip before she was rushed to hospital. She told she believes the attack was racially motivated.

“I don’t want this turning into a racist thing, and I know people who are Sudanese and they are great people, there is just a small minority of teenagers causing trouble and it has been getting worse over the years,” she said. “I just want to bring whoever did this to justice.”

Her family told 9 NEWS that the incident comes as tensions in the local community have heightened, resulting in some parks becoming “no-go zones”.

“It’s just the odd group of large African, Sudanese children who are causing havoc,” Ms Smith told the station. “I have nothing against African, Sudanese (people), but that’s how I’m going to take it.”


The well-paid career path that parents don't want their kids to take

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Its an eternal question and often young people nominate practical, outdoors or active careers. Ask parents what they want for their children career-wise and answers will include rewarding – both financially and personally - with opportunities to progress and work-life balance.

A career in a trade can deliver all of this and more – working outside on challenging projects, earning good money and having the satisfaction of seeing your efforts contribute to society through much-needed infrastructure or housing and even ensuring people’s safety.

But I fear children are missing out on the opportunities offered by this career path due to societal misconceptions and parental bias towards university.

Government figures show apprentice numbers dropped 5.6 per cent over the year to September 2017, and the number of apprentices in training - at just under 262,000 compares with 443,000 in 2012.  There is some debate around the figures as the type of training that is counted as an apprenticeship has changed during that period, but it is a useful yardstick.

As well as having broad and adverse economic implications, this indicates to me that we’re limiting the opportunities we’re offering our young people.

There are many answers why apprentice numbers are dropping but there is one important factor that is rarely explored; the influence of parents, who don’t realise their hopes for their children can be achieved with a career in a trade.

I hear time and again that young people are being put off apprenticeships by well-meaning parents who want to see their children in traditionally well-paid and respected white-collar roles – lawyers, accountants, general managers etc.

This is especially true of the parents of young women, who often think a building site isn’t a place for their daughters.

We are the first to concede that more needs to be done by the profession to encourage young women to enter a career in the trades. But we need the support of parents. We want them to look at the benefits of a trade for their daughters and be open to the idea of them working on a construction site, delivering technical projects.

More broadly, we need parents to think about their child and the sort of career they’ll excel at rather than just assuming they need to go and get a university degree.

A quick look at the numbers explains why. NECA provides electrotechnology apprenticeship training, with around 90 per cent of our apprentices successfully completing their apprenticeship and almost all of them finding a well-paid job straight after graduation. This compares favourably to university graduates: only 71 per cent of graduates secure a job straight out of university. Fifteen per cent are still unemployed four years after graduating, and median starting salaries are just $54,000. And students are saddled with large debts with once they enter the workforce.

Add to this the opportunity to work outdoors on challenging projects, and establish and run your own business, and an electrical apprenticeship is even more compelling.

The electrotechnology industry is increasingly embracing initiatives that will help support and develop apprentices during their apprenticeship. For example, NECA has teamed up with the Federal government to run the Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices scheme.

Mentors are no longer the reserve of aspiring tech entrepreneurs or professional services firms, and ISMAA is connecting experienced tradespeople with apprentices, benefiting both parties.

It’s therefore not surprising Ms Hanson is advocating for more apprenticeships – it is an excellent career option. So, next time there’s a career discussion consider an apprenticeship; a career path which can fulfil parents’ and children’s ambitions.


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, 2018

How important is Aboriginal culture?

The writers below agree that abuse of Aboriginal children is rife in Aboriginal communities and that protrecting the children concerned is difficult.  They write primarily to argue that  placing Aboriginal children in white foster homes is not the solution.  They give no reasoning for that however.  Instead their article is suffused with an assumption that Aboriginal children must be brought up amid Aboriginal culture.

But what is so good about Aboriginal culture? Is extensive alcohol abuse, brutal attacks by Aboriginal men on women and children and a widespread incapacity to be economically self-sufficient a good culture?  One would think not.

The plain truth is that Aboriginal culture is a failed culture.  It fails Aborigines by not giving them lessons they need to thrive in the modern world and instead gives them lessons in dependency and incompetence.

It is true that there are elements in Aboriginal culture which would be considered admirable by some whites:  Their emphasis on sharing with one another anything they have, for instance.  They are as near to a permanent Communist society as there is.

I think the main thing that talk of Aboriginal culture is about is the group feeling among Aborigines.  Aboriginals need to have other Aboriginals around all the time.  If you arrest an Aborigine and lock him in solitary confinement his distress will be so great that he will almost always use any means possible to commit suicide.

You see the same thing when an Aboriginal community concludes that one of their members has committed a grave offence.  They will"sing" the man to death.  It works every time because the "singing" tells the offender that he is rejected by that community and can no longer live among them.  He must go somewhere else alone. And he will rapidly die of despair at that prospect.

Let me add a personal anecdote to the two well-known generalizations above.  Some time ago, I was the proprietor of a large guest house in a lower socio-economic locality -- Ipswich.  Showing how "racist" I am, I used to accept accommodation requests from Aborigines and Maori.  In  many jurisdictions, acceptance of minority tenants has to be compelled by law but I did it voluntarily. Guest houses are not covered by landlord & tenant legislation in the State of Queensland.

One day a perfectly pleasant Aboriginal man came to the door and asked:  "Is Lenny home?".  Lenny was an older and much respected Aboriginal man who had lived there for some time.  Lenny was out so I told the visitor that.  The visitor then said:  "Are there any of my people there?".  He meant other Aborigines.  I told him no, as it happens.

So you see that ANY Aborigines would have met his need for company at that time. Aborigines CANNOT be alone for long.

So the "culture" concerned is the very strong "we" feeling among Aborigines.  That must not be disturbed.  Any attempt to disturb it threatens death.

So I think I see the Aboriginal side of the argument but I cannot agree that their culture is admirable or worth the cruelty that it includes.  If the children grow up in white families and miss out on that overwhelming "we" feeling, something may have been lost but the gain will be some of the individual independence that has enabled white people to be innovative, entrepreneurial and emotionally strong.  They will fit in better with a white environment and culture which has many faults but which will nonetheless serve them better.

I could say more about the unhappy state of Aborigines and why they have such problematic lifestyles but I think I should leave it there for today.  There are things to like in Aborigines but they are their own worst enemies

Recent comments by Federal Children’s Minister David Gillespie, that we need not hesitate to place ‘abused’ Aboriginal children into adoption arrangements with ‘white families’, have been widely reported in the media, prompting both outcry and support among Indigenous and non-Indigenous commentators.

Gillespie’s argument that we need not be concerned about creating another Stolen Generations is completely unsound. What has failed to rate a mention in the coverage of this issue is the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are already placed in care with non-Indigenous families in large numbers.

Australia’s child protection systems are among the most risk-averse in the world. The state intervenes often into the realm of family to ensure the protection of Australia’s children, investigating 119,173 cases of suspected child abuse or neglect last financial year (2016-17).

More than 36% of all Australian children living in care are Aboriginal, and a sizeable proportion are being looked after by non-Indigenous carers. As one example, in Victoria a 2016 report by the Commission for Children and Young People stated that almost 50% of all Indigenous Australian children in care are looked after by non-Indigenous carers, many of whom lack cultural awareness training.

While placement in care may be necessary for children’s immediate safety, separation from family, community, country and culture places Indigenous children at risk of unstable and culturally inappropriate childrearing, cultural disconnection and subsequent social and emotional problems.

Recent findings from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse also highlight the fact that children are not always safe in care. Of the 257 survivors who shared their painful histories, 66% stated that they had been abused in home-based care with either a foster or kinship carer, while 37% said they had been abused in residential care.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are being removed from their families at inordinate rates; Indigenous Australian children are nearly 10 times more likely to be removed from their families and placed in care than non-Indigenous children. This disproportionality is nothing less than a crisis. In fact, the Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) expects that the population of Indigenous children in care will more than triple by 2036 if the increasing trend of overrepresentation is not stopped.

But Gillespie is right on one point; something must be done about Aboriginal children living in families where they have been harmed or where there are strong indications that they are likely to be harmed. We all feel the necessity and urgency of doing something transformative. But reductionist and simplistic solutions such as adoption by white families, no matter how well-intentioned, will not achieve the results we desire. Indeed, policies such as this are likely to make the situation worse.

Safeguarding Aboriginal children is full of complexity, uncertainty, dilemmas and tensions. The fact that people who care deeply about this issue cannot agree on a way forward demonstrates the difficulty of the challenge we face. Real and lasting change will only happen if change agents are willing to embrace and work in complexity.

Successful long-term strategies do not come from one individual, but emerge from the continuous, purposeful interaction among people. This means families, communities, professionals, researchers and policymakers must work together purposefully and with a clear vision of the future we want for Aboriginal families and communities in distress. This is to understand and change the deep causes of family and community dysfunction and the deficits in our systems for protecting children.

Three key principles need to guide us in this work. They are Aboriginal self-determination, prevention and early intervention (to avoid harm to children and prevent them from entering the child protection and care systems), and protection of the cultural rights of Aboriginal children already in care.

The latter can be achieved by upholding the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle (Aboriginal children placed with Aboriginal carers) and by:

ensuring that workers and carers are culturally competent;
that the fundamental importance of culture is better understood by workers placing children in care;

enhancing collaboration between Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and non-Indigenous agencies; and, ultimately, by acknowledging family as pertinent to the development of a strong cultural identity and connection to Indigenous heritage.

A national Commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People in care may provide appropriate monitoring, direction and oversight to improve culturally-responsive practice with Indigenous children in the future.


Australian Police officers to undergo 'Muslim sensitivity training' to better understand Islam and combat the radicalisation of home grown terrorists

Wouldn't it be more appropriate to train Muslims into adapting to Australian culture?

Australian Federal Police officers will undergo three-day 'Muslim sensitivity training' to better understand the culture of Islam.

The AFP is tendering for a new provider to conduct the courses for officers across Australia, as the agency works to manage the threat of Islamic terror.

The agency will work to target Islamic extremism and prevent the radicalisation of young people in Australia.

The program will brief officers about current international conflicts and 'areas of interest', and aims to build relationships with Islamic community leaders.

The workshops will educate officers about all aspects of Islam, as Australian soldiers return from war-torn regions including Iraq and Syria.

The AFP told Daily Mail Australia the agency was tendering for a new provider, after offering the course over many years.

'The program has been delivered over many years by academic and cultural leaders within the community,' the AFP told The Australian.

'[It ensures] that AFP members are culturally aware and sensitive to the issues of the communities to which the AFP provides.'

The Australian police force has introduced a range of groups and commissions to tackle the threat of Islamic extremism since the September 11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.

The National Disruption Group (NDG) was formed to combat religious extremism and includes officers from the state police, the Australian Crime Commission, and national intelligence agencies.

The NDG worked with 'vulnerable individuals, particularly young people, to prevent them from committing terrorist-related activity or travelling overseas to fight with a terrorist group'.

The AFP will also focus on targeting encrypted messages sent over the internet to organise terror attacks.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said: 'The use of encrypted messaging by terrorists and criminals is potentially the most significant degradation of intelligence capability in modern times'.

'The use of cyberspace by terrorists and criminals presents an increasing challenge for our agencies,' Mr Dutton said at the ASEAN conference. 

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia on Monday, an AFP spokesman said Islamic Awareness Workshops were 'paramount in educating officers around the Islamic faith'. 

'Like many other cultural initiatives within the AFP and Commonwealth Government, ensures that AFP members are culturally aware and sensitive to the issues of the communities for which the AFP provides a service to,' he said.  

'The program is designed to educate them about Islamic culture and the history of Islam, including the current international conflicts and areas of interest. It also covers engagement with other law enforcement partners and community members and groups.

'The AFP is governed by ‘Commonwealth Procurement Rules’ and as such we are unable to release additional information regarding an RFT while it is in the evaluation period.' 

Meanwhile, Senior commanders report they are concerned about terrorism ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Undercover commandos will be at the heart of the massive operation to keep the Commonwealth Games safe, police have revealed.


China to the rescue of the Australian power supply?

Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have both used the Coalition partyroom meeting to urge Malcolm Turnbull to do more to keep the Liddell coal power station open.

According to a government MP, Mr Abbott raised an article in The Australian this morning and asked why the government did not attempt to facilitate a sale of the plant to Chinese group Shandong Ruyi.

Mr Turnbull responded by saying the government was not Liddell and could therefore not sell the coal-fired plant in the Hunter Valley. He added the government was agnostic on energy sources.

Mr Joyce spoke in the partyroom to say it was important the 45-year-old power station stay open.

Former Australian rugby union great Nick Farr-Jones wrote to the Prime Minister’s ­office in December declaring that his client, Shandong Ruyi Group, was interested in buying the 45-year-old plant, which AGL is closing in 2022.

Mr Farr-Jones, the director of consulting firm Taurus Funds Management, wrote that Shan­dong Ruyi, which has a controlling stake in the $240 million Cubbie Station cotton farm in southwest Queensland, wanted to invest in clean-coal technology and become a player in the Australian energy market.

The captain of Australia’s 1991 World Cup-winning Wallabies rugby team suggested the government should raise Shandong Ruyi’s interest in Liddell when it lobbied AGL to sell the coal-power plant to a third party.

AGL so far has refused the government’s request to extend the life of the 1800-megawatt power station, instead planning to replace Liddell’s power capacity with renewables, gas and a planned battery.

The Australian reported last week that Liddell’s closure may cause power outages because only 100MW of the replacement capacity has been funded.

In an email sent to Mr Turnbull’s deputy chief of staff, Clive Mathieson, on December 15 last year, Mr Farr-Jones said a senior representative of Shandong Ruyi met Scott Morrison in the middle of last year to detail the company’s ambition to invest in Australia’s power sector, including in thermal coal assets.

Shandong Ruyi, which is chaired by Qiu Yafu, specialises in textiles but in recent years has expanded into other industries including energy and real estate. The group bought the 96,000ha Cubbie Station in 2012, sparking intense criticism from the Nationals, but must reduce its initial 80 per cent stake in the farm to 51 per cent by late this year.

“Following the recent announcement by AGL that they ­intended to close the Liddell coal-fired power station in coming years, I thought I would drop you a quick note regarding a client of ours who would definitely be prepared to invest in latest-­technology, low-emission, coal-fired power,” Mr Farr-Jones wrote. “To that extent they would review the current Liddell plant with a view to extending the life of the plant to provide reliable, lower cost power to NSW. They would also look to invest in Queensland, particularly north Queensland.

“Around six months ago I met with the Treasurer (Minister Morrison) with the son-in-law of the president of Ruyi to make sure he was aware of Ruyi’s intentions to invest in the power sector in Australia.”

A spokesman for Mr Turnbull earlier has said no response was provided to Mr Farr-Jones, and that the Prime Minister’s office did not raise Shandong Ruyi’s interest with AGL.

Shandong Ruyi, one of China’s largest integrated textile companies, has partnered with Chinese state-owned company ­Huaneng Power on power projects globally, including building low-emission, coal-fired plants in Pakistan, Mr Farr-Jones’s email said.


Victoria Police 'deficiencies' found in IBAC report on internal reviews

Victoria's anti-corruption watchdog says there are "concerning deficiencies" in the way Victoria Police reviews serious incidents, including those that kill or injure members of the public.

IBAC found police failed to consider evidence that should have been included, such as witness statements, in more than half of the cases.

About two-thirds of the reviews also failed to address human rights, while almost a third were not adequately supervised.

The audit also found Victoria Police failed to notify IBAC of 16 deaths and nine serious injuries resulting from police contact.

"The audit identified concerning deficiencies in Victoria Police's oversight, which require immediate attention," IBAC commissioner Robert Redlich QC said in a statement.

"Police have significant powers, the community rightly expects them to use these powers responsibly and perform their duties fairly, impartially and in accordance with the law."

A review is held when a member of the public dies or is seriously injured after contact with police to see if it was preventable.

The watchdog also looked at how thoroughly incidents were investigated, whether reviews were impartial and whether conclusions were justified.

It found a "general overreliance" on police statements and a failure to critically examine the accuracy of police accounts by seeking independent statements or CCTV recordings.

Drunk person found dead after being taken home by police

In one instance, an individual was taken home by police after they were discovered intoxicated, sitting on a public bench.  The police officers decided to take them home after discovering that they were not drunk enough to be arrested.

The individual was discovered hours later dead on their front lawn after falling through a glass frame near their front door.

IBAC found police CCTV inside the police van did not record the incident, and there were inconsistencies in the statements provided by the two police officers who drove the person home.

"The deceased's next of kin expressed concerns about the transparency and truthfulness of the police investigation of the incident," the report said.

It found conflicts of interests were often poorly identified and managed and more than a third of reviews took longer than they should have.

One case IBAC investigated included an alleged family violence incident where a person killed themselves in the days after police involvement in the matter.

The review file was allocated to the same region where the incident took place and the person overseeing the review admitted to having known one of the officers involved "since childhood".
Despite the admission, the review officer did not disqualify themselves from the case.

IBAC recommended giving officers more information and training on human rights, and suggested improvements in how conflicts of interest are managed.

"We have worked closely with IBAC throughout this process and this has allowed us to make good progress in acquitting the recommendations, all of which we accept," Victoria Police said in a statement.

"The Victorian community should be assured that Victoria Police welcomes the work IBAC undertakes in conducting audits of this kind.

"We want to be challenged, and will always act on opportunities to improve."

Victoria Police said it had introduced new conflict of interest forms and compliance measures, as well as new processes to ensure IBAC was notified immediately whenever there was a death or serious injury.


Child sodomized by classmates; assaults recorded on school-issued iPads, lawsuit claims

A Grandville kindergarten student was sodomized by fellow classmates, with portions of the assaults recorded and shared, leading the boy to “cover himself with mulch’’ to avoid more harassment, according to a lawsuit filed this week.

The disturbing allegations are contained in a 23-page federal lawsuit filed in Grand Rapids by the parents of a boy who attended Century Park Learning Center starting when the boy was five years old.

School officials did not protect the boy and turned a blind eye to the abuse once it was brought to light, parents of the boy, identified in court records as Jimmy Doe, claim.

“The assailants told Jimmy that if he did not cooperate with them, or if he told about the touching and pictures, they would not be his friends and they would say the sexual activity was Jimmy’s idea,’’ the lawsuit claims.

Grandville Public Schools Superintendent Roger Bearup released a statement Thursday saying the district cannot respond in detail to the allegations.

’’However, we assure you that our focus is and always will be on the safety and care of every student who walks through our doors,’’ the statement reads.

“Litigation is meant to be an avenue to the truth,’’ Bearup says in the statement. “We patiently wait for that truth to be revealed. Until then, we will have no further comment.’’

The lawsuit claims the abuse started in the fall of 2014 and continued until April, 2015. It says four boys took Jimmy Doe to the mudroom area of the classroom where they touched and sodomized him and took photos of his genitals using classroom iPads. It occurred when kindergarten teacher Hillary Huberts attended the classroom’s ‘free time,’ the suit claims.

“The four boys directed Jimmy as to what and how he was to pose and for how long while the boys used classroom iPads to take photographs,’’ the suit claims.

Images were continuously deleted to create space for additional photographs “each time they attacked Jimmy,’’ the lawsuit claims.

Dissemination of the photos to other students led to continued harassment, forcing the boy to dig hiding places beneath playground equipment where he would “cover himself with mulch,’’ the lawsuit claims.

His parents noted both a physical and emotional deterioration in their son, who was born in 2009. They raised concerns during a parent-teacher conference.

When the boy’s mother asked for a police investigation, she was told by Principal Tonia Shoup that an investigation had already been completed and found “no indication of coercion or assault.’’

Shoup told the boy’s mother that she interviewed the four boys involved in taking the photos. “The four boys said that it had been Jimmy’s idea to display his genitals in the classroom and that Jimmy had admitted to showing his ‘privates’ and to having his picture taken,’’ the lawsuit claims.

In a subsequent meeting with then-Grandville Superintendent Ron Caniff and Assistant Superintendent Scott Merkel, the parents were told the pictures had been deleted “and they could move Jimmy to another school district if they wanted,’’ the lawsuit claims.

Caniff and Merkel “stressed that the pictures needed to be viewed in the context of kindergarteners’ normal curiosity and suggested that if the parents insisted on pressing the matter, Jimmy would be the one to be disciplined as he was the only child whose genitals were photographed.’’

Caniff, who is now superintendent of Kent ISD, issued a statement Thursday refuting several of the allegations.

“At the time I was at Grandville Public Schools, there was never any suspicion, suggestion or complaint expressed about inappropriate physical contact between the students involved in this matter, nor did the investigation indicate any concerns in that regard,’’ Caniff says in the statement.

“As I read through the complaint, there are several allegations that will be refuted, but since attorneys are involved, that will occur in due course through the legal process. Beyond this, I do not have more to add at this time since this is a pending legal matter.’’


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, 2018

Made In Indonesia: ‘Aboriginal Art’ Company Lands In Federal Court Over Alleged Misleading Conduct

I am one of those dreadful people who think most "art" is BS.  So I am rather amused by this. 

A whole lot of "art" is bought for things other than its appearance.  When a famous painting is shown to be a fake, its value drops to about 1% of what it was.  Yet the painting remains the same. Which shows that the previous buyers were buying the thing for the name on it, not its appearance. They bought it for essentially snobbish reasons.  They can't say they bought it "just because they liked the look of it".  If they really did like the look of it, they could just as well have bought a quality print. And it may be that they didn't like the look of it at all.

So in the case below many buyers would have been snobs who were deliberately ripped off.  They bought it for its origins, not its appearance. But I am not too sorry for them. They got what they saw. Those who bought it for its looks however, lost nothing. Its looks remain unchanged

With a highly distinctive ‘Aboriginal art’ style , you’ve probably seen Birubi products in tourist shops all over the country. Everything from ‘hand-made’ and ‘hand-painted’ boomerangs and didgeridoos, to bull roarers and even drink coasters.

And you probably thought Aboriginal artists were behind them.

Today, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced it’s launching Federal Court action against the company behind the brand – Birubi Art Pty Ltd (Birubi) – alleging it spent years making misleading claims about Aboriginal art.

Between July 2014 and November 2017, Birubi allegedly “contravened the Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading representations that some of its products were made in Australia and/or that Aboriginal people had made or hand painted them, when in fact they were made in Indonesia”.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said the products displayed a combination of words and artwork including ‘hand painted’, ‘handcrafted’, ‘Aboriginal Art’, and ‘Australia’.

“We allege that Birubi’s conduct is damaging as it is likely to mislead consumers into thinking they are buying genuine handmade Aboriginal art when they are not. This has the potential to undermine the integrity of Aboriginal art and negatively impact Indigenous artists, including by undervaluing their authentic works,” Commissioner Court said in a written statement.

“We allege that over 18,000 of these Birubi products were sold to retail shops in key tourist spots around the country.

“In the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month, with tens of thousands of tourists visiting Australia, this action by the ACCC is a timely reminder to traders to ensure that products they are selling as Indigenous cultural objects or art are authentic.”

The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, injunctions, corrective notices, compliance program orders, and costs.

Ironically, Birubi claims to be a “proud licensed supplier of many items featuring the copyright Aboriginal Flag image designed by Mr Harold Thomas”.

The website adds: “So please, when purchasing Aboriginal flag items, ensure they are authentic licensed products….”


Women in Men’s Sheds

Bettina Arndt

Women are everywhere now. We've forced our way into all the workplaces, into the army’s fighting forces, into all men’s organisations, into the pubs. Everywhere you look there are women.

But there was one place that men were safe and that was in men's sheds. Traditionally in Australia many men had sheds up in their backyard where they could retreat to do their own thing. It led to a Men's Shed movement across Australia – over 1000 sheds now, particularly attracting older, retired men who come together and support each other. A vital mental health measure given that these older men are the group most at risk of suicide in the country.

But guess what? Women are pushing our way into the sheds too. There are sheds across the country coming under pressure to allow women members and amazingly some have caved in. I recently spent a few days talking to men in sheds for a YouTube video, finding out what’s going on here.

It turns out women are being allowed in the door due to a bunch of virtue-signalling men who willingly sell out other males in order to win brownie points from the ladies. They don’t believe in what men’s sheds are supposed to be all about – that special male companionship that comes from men doing things together, working on projects and enjoying banter and secret men’s talk. They don’t believe men are more likely to share their problems when with other men who get where they are coming from, who know what it’s like to face a broken marriage or prostate cancer.

There’s a good bloke up at Kur-ring-gai called Kevin Callinan who is chairman of the peak body representing men’s sheds, The Australian Men’s Sheds Association. He worked for seven years to set up his local shed but Kevin comes from a background in equity in the workplace. He believes in “inclusiveness” and hence calls his thriving shed simply “The Shed” and women are welcome.

Kevin is a man who doesn’t believe there's anything special about male culture. “There is to a certain extent but it’s not the be all and end all. I would more prefer a broader mix of society.” When asked whether it changes male culture to include women he said. “It does change male culture - for the good.”

Yet you hear something very different if you talk to most blokes in the Men’s Sheds movement.

“What do you think of women in men’s sheds?” I asked a man from the Kincumber Shed, on the NSW Central Coast. “Ugly!” was his response.  

“If women ever came into this shed I would be out the door,” said another.

Many believe the men allowing women into their sheds for cosy “inclusive” little craft sessions are selling out other men – and they are part of a far bigger problem.

There are many men in leadership positions see it in their interests to brown-nose to the ladies rather than stick up for men. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lies about women’s role in family violence blaming the whole problem on men. Men running corporations, our bureaucracies are falling over themselves to institute policies favouring women. Our laws are tilted to favour women victims. The men running our universities promote a fake rape crisis and ignore the increasingly failure rates for male students. And so it goes on.

Men involved in the Men’s Shed movement need to take action to protect these male sanctuaries that enrich the spirit and even save the lives of some men. Come on men – grow a pair and stand up for men! 

Via email from Bettina

Cutting company tax and red tape are key to jobs and wage growth

On the surface, Australia's economy is performing well. Gross domestic product grew by a healthy 2.4 per cent last year, adding to the 25-plus unbroken years of economic growth. But digging a bit deeper shows not all is well.

A substantial portion of Australia's overall growth stems from population growth. This means per capita growth, which is more relevant to people's lives, hasn't been doing so well. Since the end of the global financial crisis in 2008, per capita incomes grew by just 1.3 per cent on average per year. This is less than half the average growth seen between 1992 and 2017.

Slow income growth has been underpinned by slow wages growth. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, average annual wages growth has been on the decline since mid-2014, and is now as low as 1.9 per cent. To put that in context, annual wages have grown by an average of 3.2 per cent over the past 20 years.

Making things worse, the price of key household essentials has risen dramatically. Over the past 20 years, for example, the cost of housing has increased by 330 per cent, child care by 310 per cent, electricity by 215 per cent, and education by 174 per cent.

Is the free market to blame?

Many have blamed free market capitalism (or what is often pejoratively referred to as "neoliberalism") for our economic malaise.

Will Australia really be uncompetitive with these countries if the Government's tax cut proposal is not passed by Parliament?
"Neoliberalism" has been blamed for everything from rising prices, to creating loneliness, to making us physically sick.

However, the root cause of Australia's economic problems is better understood as the absence of free market capitalism, not its prevalence.

In a free market system, government intervention would be limited to protecting property, administering justice, and providing a targeted safety net, national defence and domestic law enforcement.

Taxes would be low and flat, and regulation would be mostly limited to the common law. People would be free to start a business, and sell their products, services, or labour to anyone, anytime, under whatever conditions they voluntarily agree to.

The Australian economy, by contrast, is beset with government interference in every corner.

Company tax rate deterring investment

If you want to know why wage growth is sluggish, look no further than the corporate tax rate.

Australia's top marginal corporate rate of 30 per cent is well above key competitor nations such as the US (21 per cent), the UK (17 per cent by 2020), and Singapore (17 per cent).

Further, a recent World Economic Forum report showed that, out of 138 nations, Australia ranked 94th for the negative effect taxation has on the incentive to invest.

This is why business investment in Australia is sitting at just 12 per cent of GDP, which is lower than during the Whitlam era. And low business investment means less capital, lower productivity, and lower wages.

Workers could win from a tax cut

Cutting Australia's high corporate tax rate would help turn this around. The Treasury — hardly a bastion of free-market thought — estimated that reducing the business tax rate to 25 per cent will increase GDP by 1 per cent, or $17 billion each year.

The murky world of corporate tax cuts

Who really emerges as the winners? Business editor Ian Verrender looks at the push for a 25pc company tax rate.
This windfall would be shared among customers (through lower prices), shareholders (through higher returns) and employees and households (through higher wages).

Economists differ on the exact breakdown. But Treasury estimated about two-thirds would go to households, mostly through higher wages.

Even Former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry stated, "if the company income tax were to be cut, the principal beneficiaries will be workers …"

Red tape also to blame

But it isn't just taxes where the heavy hand of government can be felt. Regulation and red tape are as big, if not bigger, drains on Australia's economic prospects. Modelling by the IPA shows red tape reduces economic output in Australia by $176 billion each year, or around 11 per cent of GDP. This cost captures forgone human potential: all of the businesses which are never started, the jobs never created, or the technologies never developed because red tape got in the way.

The consequences of red tape and regulation can be seen across the economy.

An iron ore mine located in the Pilbara in Western Australia required some 4,697 licences, approvals, and conditions for the pre-construction phase alone.

While in NSW it could take filling out 48 separate forms just to open a restaurant.

The key to jobs and wage growth

Cutting this regulatory burden, reducing Australia's high business tax rate and liberalising the economy will give Australians more freedom to start their own business. It will also encourage more businesses to invest in Australia instead of overseas.

This isn't "trickle-down economics". It's an immutable reality.

If you want more jobs and higher wages, then you need more of what creates jobs and pays wages: businesses.

Imposing high taxes and a stifling regulatory burden will only drive businesses away. And the biggest losers won't be corporate CEOs. They will just find work in other countries. It will be Australian workers and families.


HSC students abandoning high-level subjects

The proportion of students doing high-level maths and science subjects in the HSC has steadily declined over the past 10 years along with Australia's performance in international tests, which experts say is linked to the country's attitudes towards STEM.
Only 4.18 per cent of HSC students did Maths Extension 2, the highest level maths subject available, last year. This was down from 4.58 per cent of the cohort in 2007.

Only 11.54 per cent of year 12 students did Maths Extension 1 in 2017, down from 13.18 per cent in 2007, and 22.36 per cent studied Mathematics, down from 26.99 per cent.

Maths General 2, which is a non-calculus course, remains the most popular maths elective, with 41.29 per cent of HSC students taking it last year. However, this also represents a decline from 44.27 per cent in 2007.

The proportion of students studying physics, chemistry, engineering and technology subjects has also seen a similar decline.

There was also a fall in the proportion of HSC students studying the top-level English Extension 2 course from 3.8 per cent in 2007 to 2.16 per cent last year.

However, the percentage of students taking the popular PDHPE course has increased from 18.64 per cent of the HSC cohort in 2007 to 20.43 per cent in 2017. The candidature for Modern History has also increased from 14.02 per cent of students in 2007 to 14.54 per cent last year.

Despite these figures, NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said that the national promotion of STEM subjects over humanities subjects was an act of "intellectual snobbery", which has drawn comment from the country's top scientists and industry experts.

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) school program manager Janine McIntosh said that general attitudes towards maths and science are a big part of the problem.

"Australia seems to have an aversion to STEM, something I hear a lot at dinner parties is 'I was never any good at maths'," Ms McIntosh said.

"All of the calculus-based subjects have declined, and not just in NSW.

"My biggest concern is that Australia is going to be left behind because other countries don't have that negative attitude to maths and they're going to have the data analysis and technical skills for the future."

Sue Thomson, head of educational monitoring and research at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), said the effect of the decline is visible in students' results in international tests such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS).

"What we've found is that over the past 15 to 20 years, we have fewer students performing at the advanced level," Dr Thomson said.

"We're average on the OECD scale for maths but certainly, our scores have gone down over the past 10 to 20 years.

"And in the questions where we ask students whether they like maths or science, only half say yes in year 4. By year 8, it's down to under a quarter and it's even lower at the senior levels."

Dr Thomson said a shortage of STEM-qualified teachers in high schools and anxiety about teaching maths and science subjects among primary school teachers is one reason for the fall in enrolments in high-level maths and science subjects and the country's overall declining performance.

"The other reason is that kids only choose subjects they know they'll be successful in," Dr Thomson said.

"If they know they'll only be moderately successful in advanced maths, they'll do general maths instead. And often they're advised to do that by their schools to maximise their ATARs."

The ATAR scaling system has advantaged students choosing Maths General 2 course with up to 6.5 marks more than those studying the Mathematics course, a report by the NSW Department of Education's Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) revealed last year.

However, new maths syllabuses that will be rolled out this year and next year will aim to address the problem by introducing common content and marking scales.


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, 2018

Malcolm Turnbull declares he will 'stand up' for Australia in response to China's criticism

Clever of Malcolm to learn to say a quotation in Mandarin.  But I think he should go easy on China.  It will act in its own self-intertest and nothing will change that.  Antagonism between nations can be catastrophic

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has struck out at Beijing, speaking Mandarin to declare he will "stand up" for Australians with his tougher foreign interference laws.

The Prime Minister used unusually sharp language to reject China's complaint against him, after he raised concerns this week about Communist Party influence in domestic politics.

"Modern China was founded in 1949 with these words, The Chinese people have stood up'. It was an assertion of sovereignty, it was an assertion of pride," he said, switching between speaking Mandarin and English.

"And we stand up and so we say, the Australian people stand up.

"There has been foreign interference in Australian politics."

When announcing new espionage legislation on Tuesday, Mr Turnbull mentioned his concerns about Chinese influence in domestic politics, but insisted the laws were not focused on any one country alone.

Beijing took that personally and fired a diplomatic warning shot, arguing the remarks had "poisoned" the atmosphere of China-Australia relations.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he was shocked Mr Turnbull cited media reports about Communist Party interference.

"We are astounded by the relevant remarks of the Australian leader. Such remarks simply cater to the irresponsible reports by some Australian media that are without principle and full of bias against China," Mr Geng said at a regularly scheduled briefing.

Mr Turnbull said he was right to be worried about the role foreigners play in domestic politics, especially after Labor senator Sam Dastyari let a Chinese donor pay a legal bill for him.

"Sam Dastyari is a classic case and the real question is why is Bill Shorten allowing him to stay in the Labor Party, stay in the Senate, when he clearly does not put Australia first? he said.

China trying to 'end Australia's alliance with US'

Defence analyst Malcolm Davis, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said Beijing was trying to intimidate Australia by complaining about references to its interference in domestic politics.

"They are trying to intimidate us and what we have to understand is the reports of Chinese infiltration and attempts to manoeuvre and manipulate Australian politics and Australian political debate are legitimate," Dr Davis said.

"The Chinese are seeking to interfere in our political process."

Mr Davis argued Beijing was trying to gain a strategic advantage in the region.

"Ultimately, their goal is to have Australia become more pro-China, less pro-US, align with Beijing and distance itself from the United States and ultimately end the alliance," he said.

"Everyone understands what China is about, the difference is now we are starting to fight back against them."


Raising NSW dam wall plan 'would flood 50 Aboriginal heritage sites'.  Greenies furious

Greenie hatred of dams is as implacable as it is irrational

A proposal to raise the Warragamba dam wall would flood 4,700ha of the Blue Mountains world heritage area, destroying more than 50 recognised Aboriginal heritage sites and wiping out pockets of threatened plant species, conservationists have said.

The $670m plan to raise the dam wall by 14 metres was announced by the New South Wales government in 2016 as a strategy to prevent catastrophic flooding in outer-western Sydney.

It faces strong opposition from conservationists and Gundungurra traditional owners, who say WaterNSW has made it difficult for them to engage in a consultation process and has underestimated the number of cultural heritage sites that will be lost.

Kazan Brown, a Gundungurra woman who has nominated to be part of the Aboriginal consultation group on the project, said she was given four days’ warning of an information session on 20 March. The briefing was held in northern Sydney, more than a three-hour drive in peak-hour traffic from Brown’s home in Warragamba.

Infrastructure NSW said the briefing was “not a mandated part of that consultation process” but invitations were issued to “registered Aboriginal parties”. Four groups accepted but due to “personal circumstances” none turned up.

A second meeting will be held at Katoomba on 27 March.

Brown said raising the dam wall would flood more than 50 Aboriginal heritage sites. A significant number of sites were flooded when the original dam was built.

“They [WaterNSW] are saying that it is going to save more sites downstream,” she said. “But they are talking about different cultures. Everything that is behind the dam wall belongs to the Gundungurra and Dharawal people and everything that’s downstream belongs to the Darug.”

Among the sites at risk behind the dam wall are rock art sites, burial sites and ochre deposits in a cave on the waterline.

Brown said the Gundungurra people could not afford to lose any more heritage sites. “We lost a lot when they first flooded the valley,” she said.

Infrastructure NSW said it was still assessing the impact on Aboriginal heritage sites.

Ecologist Roger Lembit was involved in environmental assessments of a proposal to raise the wall by 23 metres in 1995. A spillway was built instead.

Lembit said he was “very surprised” to see another proposal to raise the dam, especially after the Blue Mountains received world heritage listing in 2000.

“You would think that world heritage meant something,” he said.

The new inundation area includes Camden white gum (Eucalyptus benthamii), which is nationally is listed as vulnerable, and Kowmung hakea (Hakea Dohertyi) which is listed as endangered.

It also contains “highly unusual” mixed ironbark and cypress pine forests, areas of dry rainforest and a substantial number of old growth trees.

The proposal would also flood 65km of wild rivers and streams, according to the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, which will launch a campaign to save the wild rivers on Monday.

    The 142m high dam wall was completed in 1960. It fences in Lake Burragorang, a 2,000 gigalitre lake on the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains that provides 80% of Sydney’s water supply.

It guards the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley, which was identified by the Insurance Council of Australia as the most flood-prone area in NSW.

According to the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley flood risk management strategy, which recommended the dam wall be raised, up to 134,000 people live and work on the floodplain. That number is growing as Sydney sprawls westward.

The strategy said raising the dam wall would create “airspace in the dam to temporarily hold back and slowly release flood waters coming from the Warragamba river catchment”, which would reduce the flood risk by 75%.

The proposal was developed in response to the 2011 Brisbane floods, which were triggered by a release from the Wivenhoe dam.

It has already received $58m in state funding and is undergoing ecological assessment. If approved, construction will begin in 2020.


Federal Leftists trying to buy the Catholic vote with schoiol funding

Bill Shorten’s promise to give an extra $250 million to the Catholic school system has been credited as a decisive factor in Labor’s victory in the Batman by-election last weekend. The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria actively campaigned for the Labor candidate, reigniting the war of words between the Turnbull government and some elements of the Catholic education system.

Both the Catholic school system and government school advocates (such as teacher unions) have been rallying against the government’s ‘cuts’ to school spending.

This ignores the facts. Under the Coalition’s Gonski 2.0 plan, real per-student funding for the Catholic school system is going up by 3.7% per year (well above inflation and enrolments) for the next 10 years — and the Catholic system will retain the right to distribute the funding however it likes. Both the government (5.1%) and independent (4.3%) school sectors are receiving large yearly per-student increases as well.

The average increase for each sector is less than it would have been under Labor’s original (unfunded) Gonski 1.0 plan, which was full of ‘special deals’ and funding inconsistencies. While it is reasonable for any group to advocate for more funding, it is highly disingenuous to describe Gonski 2.0 as a ‘cut’.

The Catholic school system should be far more concerned about preserving the right of religious schools to decide who they hire, who they enrol, and what they teach. These freedoms currently rest largely on precarious exemptions to state-based anti-discrimination laws, and are under attack by some activists. Catholic schools should be pushing the major parties — at both state and federal levels — to confirm exactly what their positions are on religious freedom in education.

The priority issue for religious schools at the next federal election should be religious freedom. It would be a shame if it is overshadowed by incessant clamouring about non-existent funding ‘cuts’.


Tasmanian Government agrees to scrutiny on proposed gun law policy

The Tasmanian Government has agreed to open up controversial gun law reform to scrutiny by the state's Upper House, as pressure is applied to the Prime Minister to stop the proposed changes.

Tasmania's Police Minister Michael Ferguson has confirmed the State Government will support a Legislative Council inquiry into gun reform, called for this week by the Independent MLC Ivan Dean.

The Liberal policy, revealed earlier this month on the eve of the state election, would allow greater access to category C firearms such as self-loading rifles and pump-action shotguns for farm workers and sporting shooters.

Licence holders in category C would also be allowed gun silencers.

"We have made it very clear we will not do anything that puts Tasmanians at risk or is inconsistent with the National Firearms Agreement, and the inquiry will be a chance for everyone concerned to have their say on these proposals," Mr Ferguson said.

"It will also allow Labor to explain how they managed to both oppose the proposals, while at the same time promising many of the exact same measures."

Mr Ferguson also hit back at Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten over proposed changes to the state's gun laws, saying he did not know what he was talking about.

In a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Shorten said the proposal was a direct threat to the national consensus on firearms regulation, referring to the National Firearms Agreement that was made after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.

"As Prime Minister, you cannot stand by and allow Australia's world-leading gun laws to be watered down," the letter said.

"If, as appears to be the case, that proposal would breach the agreement, I ask you to publicly demand that your Liberal Party colleagues in the Tasmanian Government abandon it."

Mr Ferguson said Mr Shorten was uninformed on the issue. "I'm not sure Mr Shorten knows what he's talking about, and it doesn't look good when party leaders try to play naked party politics," he said.

Roland Browne from Gun Control Australia said the State Government appeared increasingly confused about its own policy.

"The Premier says his advice is it doesn't breach the National Firearms Agreement, now the Upper House wants to have an inquiry into whether it does breach the National Firearms Agreement or not, and then the current Minister says he wants to clarify whether it breaches it," he said.

"What needs to happen is less an inquiry and more the Government being straight with the community and saying 'This is what we were intending to do but we are abandoning those plans', if that is what they are actually doing — it's impossible to know."

Deputy State Opposition Leader Michelle O'Byrne said the Government's support for an inquiry showed how little consultation had been done.

"They're grasping hold of the offer by Upper House member Ivan Dean for an inquiry to give some kind of legitimacy to the appalling pathway that they've constructed," she said. "The Government should take these things off the agenda."


Distance conquered: A direct link to our ancestral home

Australians and Britons have always retained close links of all sorts with one-another, but the physical distance between us has always been a burden.  So a direct link is a wonder -- how it should be -- a direct link to our national origins

THE first direct flight from Australia to England has landed, right on time.

The Qantas Dreamliner didn’t quite have a dream run, with a small amount of turbulence early the flight courtesy of Cyclone Marcus, but for the most part was smooth flying.

The plane took off to applause and landed to the same, with the majority of passengers on the flight aware they were part of a history-making event.

The only exception may have been five month old baby Charlie, for whom the moment was lost, and the Boeing Dreamliner’s special features — designed to make flying long-haul routes more comfortable — were redundant.

Addressing the media in his pyjamas on the flight, Qantas chief Alan Joyce said the success of the Perth-London route could pave the way for direct flights from Perth to Paris in the future.

“We do have the rights to fly to Paris daily; we’ve never had those rights before,” he said. “When we last did Paris it was from Singapore to Paris and it was three a week, and it was hard to make it economically work.

“So we are keen on it (starting a Perth to Paris route), we are interested in it, but we need to bed this one down first,” Mr Joyce said. “It’s off to a great start it’s only the first flight but we need to show that economically it’s going to work out.”

Boeing Dreamliners were big investments, priced at $250 million each, so it was vital new operations provided good returns on that investment, 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

25 March, 2018

Teachers' union backs call for comprehensive approach to education

This is another shot in the long war between those who want education to lead to jobs versus those who see education as a general cultural experience.  It seems clear to me that if the taxpayer is paying for it, it should be useful in some way.  I see only three options there: education for jobs, education for citizenship and English language education, where that includes instruction in reading and writing, which in turn includes spelling and grammar. Education for citizenship should cover primarily history and how the political system works. 

I see no role for literary education or foreign language education.  Literature and language can be left to adult education courses and other evening courses.  There are already in the country people of many ethnic origins who grow up bilingual so foreign language education seems particularly useless

The Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch has welcomed comments from NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes calling for a balanced approach to education, with no extra emphasis on any one discipline.

Stokes said on Wednesday that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects must not be preferred over the arts, sports or social sciences.

IEUA NSW/ACT Secretary John Quessy said providing a comprehensive education was the best strategy to create adaptable and employable adults.

“All disciplines, whether it be languages, sport, arts or science can and do contribute to greatness in Australian society,” Quessy said.

“It is important that teachers from all disciplines are supported and provided with professional development that enhances the education they can provide to students.

“While we totally support and understand the need to encourage the study of STEM subjects, students should never be discouraged from studying other disciplines.

“Everyone needs to be allowed to find their niche and be given a chance to shine.”

Media release

Inside the 'most dangerous job in the world': White farmers in South Africa are FOUR times more likely to be murdered than anyone else

White farmers in South Africa have the most dangerous job in the country, are twice as likely to be murdered than police and are killed at four times the rate of the wider community, a rights group claims.

This week, as the government moves to seize all white-owned land without compensation, civil rights organisation AfriForum claimed there had been 109 attacks which left 15 white farm workers dead so far this year.

This follows 82 killings and 423 attacks in 2016, though none of the figures can be verified because the South African government has refused to release farm murder statistics since 2007.

Some of the killings are reported to have been barbaric, with farm owners tortured, raped, burned alive and slaughtered in front of their families.

Farm attack victims are usually restrained with shoe laces, telephone wires or electric cables, according to a previous AfriForum report.

Some have had their nails pulled out, had boiling water poured over their bodies and been beaten to death with makeshift weapons.

'Some of the murders have been accompanied by gratuitous violence and torture that can only be explained as racial hatred,' Australian National University international law expert Associate Professor Jolyon Ford told SBS.

'They tied me to a chair and came with a steam iron they found in the kitchen and burned me,' Ms Alsemgeest told The Daily Telegraph.

'Piet, they burned on his back in three or four places and burned on the back of his leg. They stripped off his skin... I thought Piet was dead because he was lying on the floor.

'They put a cloth in my face and tied me to the chair. They stripped off my top. I was naked. They put some tape over my face and eyes. They took my breast and twisted, humiliating me, not saying a word.' 

This week, a 40-year-old farm manager was tied up and hacked to death by a group of attackers, according to local reports. His wife was said to have been raped. 

Pictures posted to the Stop Farm Attacks & Murders in South Africa Facebook page show the horrific injuries inflicted on farmers

Earlier this month, a woman was allegedly 'repeatedly and violently' sexually assaulted in front of her young son as five attackers stormed the family farm.

The group tied the family up in separate rooms and told the woman they would harm her husband if she didn't comply, according to AfriForum. 

The brother of another South African farm owner who witnessed his murder spoke to Australian activist Avi Yemini on Friday.

'I could see the fear in his eyes before he was shot. Then I tried to convince myself that my brother was one of the lucky ones... His fear was only for a few minutes,' he said.

'There are people that are being tortured for nine hours and through the night.'

The South African government denies white people are deliberately targeted and says farm murders are part of South Africa's wider violent crime problem

Afriforum claims 156 commercial farmers are killed per 100,000 of the population, more than four times the wider murder rate of 34 per 100,000.

The group said it is forced to compile its own statistics because the government stopped releasing its own figures more than 10 years ago.

'Although the South African government denies that a violence crisis is staring rural areas in the face, the numbers prove that excessive violence plague these areas,' Ian Cameron, AfriForum's head of security, said.

'The government cannot deny the facts - our people are being mowed down... Our rural areas are trapped in a crime war.'

Ernst Roets, AfriForum's vice president, said last year 'political factors' were fuelling the violent attacks. 'We are concerned about hate speech, political leaders who... would say for example ''the white farmers should be blamed for everything'',' he said.

The situation has worsened since the ruling African National Congress joined with the Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF) earlier this month and announced a motion to confiscate white-owned land without compensation.

EFF leader Julius Malema, who was previously convicted of hate speech for singing the outlawed apartheid-era song 'Shoot the Farmer,' said two weeks ago: 'We are starting with this whiteness. We are cutting the throat of whiteness.'

On Wednesday, he urged white South Africans to 'go and live in a racist country like Australia' in front of a cheering crowd during a Human Rights Day rally in Mpumalanga.

'A racist country like Australia says, ''EFF wants to kill white
farmers – they must come to Australia''. If they want to go, they must go. They must leave the keys of the tractors because we want to work the land.

'They must leave the keys of the houses, because we want to live in those houses. They must leave everything that they did not come with to South Africa.'

He went on to say anyone who immigrated to South Africa from Australia must 'leave quietly' and added: 'Don't make a noise because you will irritate us.'

Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton last week announced controversial plans to fast-track white South African farmers through Australia's refugee program.


'Racist to its core': Outrage as nurses are subject to a new code where they must announce their 'white privilege' before treating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

Australian nurses and midwives are being forced to announce their 'white privilege' before treating Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander patients -  a move which has been slammed as 'racist to its core'.

The term 'white privilege' defines the unearned social and cultural advantages awarded to people with white skin which are not enjoyed by people of colour or non-white backgrounds.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board believes the cultural safety of Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander patients is just as important as their clinical safety.

But Graeme Haycroft, spokesperson for the Nurses Professional Association of Queensland, (NPAQ) told Sky News the addition to the code of conduct could have serious consequences for nurses and is simply 'racist'.

The Board describes the move as 'a decolonising model of ­practice based on dialogue, communication, power sharing and negotiation, and the acknowledgment of white privilege'.

Mr Haycroft said 50 per cent of NPAQ members were opposed to the new rule. 'They have said "this is wrong, do something about it",' Mr Haycroft told host Peta Credlin.

The inclusion of 'white privilege' in the code of conduct was first exposed by Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives. Senator Bernardi heavily criticised the move, labelling it as 'another virtue signal' and 'nonsensical'.

'This is just another example of where PC and this identity politics has captured the professional class or the political class,' he told 2GB.

Following backlash, the Board released a statement which said the codes required midwives and nurses to 'acknowledge that Australia has always been a culturally and linguistically diverse nation'.

Medical staff are also asked to consider the impact historic factors such as colonisation have had on indigenous peoples' health.


'We're not talking to you, you have no rights': Shocking moment female officer tries to stop civilian filming police

This is the shocking moment police officers refuse to give their badge numbers after tasering a driver 'for no good reason' and arresting him.

The driver and his wife were heading to dinner with a friend at Fremantle, south of Perth, when his Jeep was stopped and served with a defect notice.

After being tasered, as he tried to drive off, the motorist's friend turned on his camera phone and repeatedly demanded the three officers give him their badge numbers. 

To make matters worse the female officer, Senior Constable Arnold, repeatedly put a hat over her face as the driver's friend filmed the encounter in March 2017. 'You are not the person being spoken to,' she said.

When the driver's friend asked her again, explaining it didn't matter that he wasn't the one being arrested, she doubled down on her refusal to comply with the law.

'You're not the person that we're dealing with. You have no right.'

Earlier in the four-minute video footage, a male officer Constable Keenan repeatedly told the driver to 'get out of the car' before holding the taser pointed towards him

The state watchdog blasted the officers for using 'unreasonable and oppressive force'.

'The incident involved a driver, his wife and friend who were heading to a Fremantle restaurant for dinner – but ended up with the driver being tasered in his vehicle for no good reason, arrested and locked up,' it said.

When the man was told by police to turn around to be cuffed, Constable Keenan then used force to twist his arms behind his back and press him against his four-wheel drive.

'I'm not resisting, mate,' the man told the officer.

'You were under no threat when you tasered him,' the friend behind the camera added.

He was then placed under arrest for disobeying the directive of a police officer.

A subsequent internal police review cleared Constable Keenan of any wrongdoing, however the Crime and Corruption Commission has found his actions 'unlawful, unreasonable and oppressive.'

Constable Keenan has not been charged with any wrongdoing but has been stood aside, one year after the incident. The female officer, Senior Constable Arnold, was criticised by the CCC for preventing the filming and has since been charged.

Police Minister Michelle Roberts said the police would be brought to justice.  'Police officers in this instance have done the wrong thing, they have been found out, and they will need to cop the consequences,' she said.

Ms Roberts said officers should be kept accountable with the use of body cameras, and WA traffic police could be trialling the devices by the end of 2018.


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, 2018

Scientists say Australia is getting so hot people could DIE just going outside - and warn the nation could be hit with more violent storms and disease

This is just prophecy from people who have never got a prophecy right yet, so deserves no attention.  It is in any case absurd as Australia has a huge North to South reach so you can always choose your place of residence to get the temperture range that suits you.  In Tasmania the climate is like England -- but with less air polution in Hobart than there is in Muslim-run London

It's true that Darwin is already very hot but I have lived there and people simply use air-conditioning.  The "itinerants" (Aborigines) who live there use natural air-conditioning by camping on the beach

Deaths from "heat waves" are unknown in Australia.  We are acclimated to hot summers.  Temperatures that cause mulitiple deaths in Europe are just another hot day for the average Australian.  In much of Australia, every summer is a "heat wave" by European standards

The number of days that Darwin has reached temperatures of over 35C has increased to 20 days a year in the last five years, according to the Australia Institute.

That figure is up from 5.6 at the beginning of the 20th century.   This temperature, paired with 70 per cent humidity, is considered dangerous.

Darwin sees a considerable number of days with that level of humidity.

The report detailed that between March 2017 and February 2018 in Darwin there was a total of 60 days with 70 per cent humidity before 3pm, with 46 of these days falling in the first three months of the year.

This weather would result in more heat-related deaths, avoidance of general life tasks and interrupted sleep.

Environmentally it would create harsher storms, more rainfall and change the way diseases spread.

The Australia Institute, the think tank who released the paper, referenced the fact that places such as Russia, India, Europe and Pakistan 'have all experienced heat waves resulting in mass death events where thousands of people died sitting in their homes'.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation projects that if there isn't a drop in greenhouse gas emissions Darwin's 35C days each year will hit 132 by 2030.

Liz Hanna, from the Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at Australian National University, told NT News: 'This puts a real challenge on how people function. Can we work in a world as we know now in terms of going out shopping, working, picking up the children without putting lives at serious risk?'


A father has posted an open letter on Facebook accusing Myer of racial profiling

OK. I'll mention the elephant in the room:  Aboriginal children are lightning-fast sneak thieves.  Only top alertness will catch them.  So all shop staff have every reason to be nervous of them.  In the unusual circumstances of this case, staff were right to wonder what was going on

A FATHER in Western Australia has posted an open complaint letter to Myer on his Facebook page, detailing an “embarrassing” experience at the Perth store last week.

The letter written by Shem Garlett and addressed to the Myer Perth store manager, begins by explaining he often shops at the Forrest Chase store as it is close to his work.

“My son Jaylen, 16, will be attending his upper school formal this weekend and I am extremely proud of the young man he’s become,” he writes.

“On Thursday 8 March at 4.30pm Jaylen and I were looking for a shirt and accessories to go with his suit which we bought from another shop. The lady helping us was extremely helpful and provided us great customer service. She helped match his shirt and accessories to his suit all within 20 minutes.”

“While my son was trying on shirts I needed to use my phone to contact my girlfriend who was meeting us afterwards. The phone reception was bad so I made my way to the escalator area and allowed Jaylen to continue trying on shirts in the fitting room with the assistance of [the original shop assistant].

“While I was texting I heard a call over the intercom calling for security to attend the men’s formal wear fitting room. Since my son was in the fitting room I made my way there to see if he was OK. As I neared the fitting room the staff from the nearby service desk had gathered. I asked the lady at the service desk if everything was OK. She told me that there was a boy unaccompanied in the change rooms that didn’t have anything to try on so she called security.”

He went on to explain to the service desk staff that his son was waiting unattended in the change room as he was waiting for the original shop assistant to bring back another shirt for him to try on.

“She seemed stunned so I asked her why she called security for my son,” he continues.

“She told me that last week a purse was taken from the service area, expecting me to understand. I asked what this had to do with my son, but no response ...

“I then explained to her that this is not the first time he’s had security called on him and it is for this reason I don’t allow him to shop in Myer or David Jones alone. I suggested that she was racially profiling as the only thing she would have noticed was a young Aboriginal man, in her mind, appearing to be in the wrong place. This is not grounds to make a panicked call for security over the intercom. She did not witness any crime being committed. There were at least 10 staff including security in the area within 30 seconds.

“Everyone looked confused and embarrassed when they saw [the original shop assistant] accompanying us to the other service desk to finalise our purchases. We spent more than $200 on a shirt and accessories but I was tempted to just walk away. I thanked the original shop assistant for her assistance and explained that she was the only reason why I didn’t take our business elsewhere.”

Mr Garlett told ABC Radio in Perth that he became “quite upset and embarrassed” during the incident, “especially with the scene and the other customers looking at me.”

He tells that Jaylen remained calm as the situation was unfolding, as “he saw I had it under control”.

Despite that, he says this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to Jaylen, and security has been called on his young son “on several occasions in different stores”.

Another commenter offered an alternative reason for security being called:

“It might not be that your son is Aboriginal but merely that he is a teenager,” wrote Dael Harvey.

“They face all manner of discrimination from shop assistants and security when they’re simply trying to purchase something. As a white man, as a teenager I was frequently accused of trying to shoplift for just browsing in stores looking to buy things. It’s a poor response but I don’t see shops changing it because most people won’t stand up for age-based discrimination.”

When contacted by for comment, a spokesman for Myer said “Myer is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion across our stores and workplaces and we want our customers to feel welcome and safe shopping with us irrespective of gender, background or sexuality.

“Myer has looked into this matter, which came about due to a misunderstanding between team members when the customer entered the change rooms without any clothing items. There were no other factors involved.


Greens claim Dutton has ‘racist’ views on white Sth African farmers

The Green/Left run over with sympathy for disadvantaged minorities -- unless the minority is white.  In that case no abuse is off the table towards anybody who wants to help the minority concerned

The Greenie spokesman said minister Dutton is racist for wanting to rescue endangered white farmders in South Africa while making no effort to help the Rohingya.  But the Rohingya are largely illiterate Muslims and nobody wants them.  Even in their ancestral homeland of Bangladesh nobody wants them

Liberal Democrats leader David Leyonhjelm has slammed comments from Greens senator Nick McKim, who claimed that the Liberal Party “still has a White Australia policy”, and accused Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton of being “racist”, “fascist” and “regurgitating speaking points from neo-Nazis”.

Mr Dutton has sparked controversy and diplomatic tensions when he last week argued the “persecuted” farmers needed help from a “civilised country” like Australia, following disturbing reports of extreme violence, land theft and murders.

Senator Leyonhjelm said Senator McKim was “living in the past”.

“South Africa used to be a thoroughly obnoxious, racist society,” he told Sky News.

“I lived there for a little while and I saw it. It was totally abhorrent, but it’s not any more, and it’s a multicultural society, it’s not racist at all, it has an anti-racist constitution, and yet here we have a group of people who are being persecuted, murdered, chucked off their farms because they are white.

“That is racism. That is plain and simple racism. The fact that the racism used to work the other way 20-odd years ago does not justify racism in the opposite direction today.  “(Nick McKim) is totally up the creek on this whole issue.”

Greens leader Richard Di Natale meanwhile defended Senator McKim.  “What we do know is he certainly holds, I think, racist views,” Senator Di Natale said.

“We’ve got 700,000 people fleeing the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh at the moment, this crisis that is the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people, and yet what does Peter Dutton say about any of those things?

“He doesn’t say anything about the crisis in Myanmar, no, he goes in to bat for South African farmers. What’s the difference here? The difference is that they are white and that the other communities who are suffering, and we’re talking about an ethnic cleansing in Myanmar right now, that they’re not white.”

Asked whether he believed it was reasonable to suggest the Liberal Party “still has a White Australia policy”, Senator McKim stuck by his claim. “Absolutely. It’s naked, and it’s transparent and it’s out in the open,” Senator McKim told Sky News.

“I mean basically we’ve got Peter Dutton who is regurgitating speaking points from neo-Nazi or Nazi or fundamentalist white nationalist websites around the world who are now out there bragging that they’ve captured Peter Dutton and they’re very happy that he’s repeating the speaking points that they’ve been putting on their websites,” he said.

“You’ve got Mr Dutton and others supporting him now nakedly and clearly suggesting that Australia’s immigration policy should be conducted on the basis of the colour of somebody’s skin, and it’s a simple reversion to the White Australia policy which was actually adopted by both the Labor and Liberal Parties back in the day, and I thought we’d gone past that and I think most Australians thought we’d gone past it.”

Senator McKim claimed Australia’s offshore detention policy was motivated by skin colour. “Of course it’s got things to do with skin colour. I’ve been to Manus Island many times as you know and I can assure you there’s no white people locked up on Manus or Nauru,” he said.

“Those people are exclusively from races and countries that they’re non-white people.

“I can be absolutely certain that if a South African person arrived by boat to seek asylum in Australia, they would not end up on Manus Island and Nauru under Peter Dutton’s regime. I can give you that guarantee 100 per cent.”

Asked whether he was accusing Mr Dutton of being a “closet neo-Nazi”, Senator McKim said he had “exhibited racism right through his public career”.

“When he boycotted the apology to the stolen generation and walked out of the house of assembly in a huff just before that apology was given, his regime in terms of Manus Island and Nauru is clearly race based, and he’s also exhibited some of the things that we know through human history are associated with fascists, I mean for example, setting up an enemy to try and scare the Australian people, and he’s done that with Muslim people, and then seeking to undermine the rule of law on that basis,” he said.

“I’m mean it’s fascism 101 that we’re seeing from Peter Dutton.”

Asked whether he was disputing that white South African farmers were being violently attacked and murdered, Senator McKim said: “I don’t know the issue on the ground. I’m not the one advocating on their behalf.” “I’m not saying they shouldn’t be accepted,” he said.

“I’m saying let’s assess them on the basis of need and let’s prioritise on the basis of need in a way that doesn’t take into account the colour of somebody’s skin.”

‘ABC lefties are dead to me’

Peter Dutton earlier said he was staring down fierce criticism from “crazy lefties” at the ABC as he pushes on with plans to bring white South African farmers into Australia.

The Home Affairs Minister said he was unperturbed by “mean cartoons” and negative media coverage.

“I think the ABC and others report these things how they want to report them, and how they want to interpret them,” Mr Dutton told 2GB. “Some of the crazy lefties at the ABC, and on The Guardian, Huffington Post, can express concern and draw mean cartoons about me and all the rest of it. They don’t realise how completely dead they are to me.

“We just get on with making decisions that we need to.”

Mr Dutton said he was blind to skin colour and would continue to bring in migrants based on the national interest.

“It concerns me that people are being persecuted at the moment — that’s the reality — the numbers of people dying or being savagely attacked in South Africa is a reality,” he said.

Mr Dutton likened the latest backlash to the reaction over his comments on African gangs in Melbourne over summer. “Stick to the facts and you’re on safe grounds so all of the criticism over the last week has meant nothing to me,” he said.

“We’re looking at ways we can help people to migrate to Australia if they’re finding themselves in that situation.”


Sydney university lecturer cancels a class due to be held in church in case it offended his gay students

Just an attention-seeker

A university lecturer has cancelled a class due to be held in a church for fear it would offend his LGBTQI students.

University of Technology Sydney communications lecturer Dr Timothy Laurie emailed his students two days before lectures were due to begin saying class was cancelled due to 'the suitability of a church as a venue'.

St Barnabas Anglican Church in Ultimo, inner-city Sydney, was a temporary venue the university turned to during planned construction.

'We welcome religious pluralism at UTS, [but with] the heated political climate… around the marriage equality postal survey and the Safe Schools Coalition has meant that we need to redouble our support of the LGBTQI community at UTS and Beyond,' Dr Laurie said.

'[We must] recognise instances where this may come into conflict with specific religious institutions.'

One of Dr Laurie's students questioned his decision and slammed it as 'political posturing'.

'I am happy to learn in a church, a mosque, a temple, a lecture hall, a museum and have the utmost gratitude for any institution willing to offer me such services,' they told The Daily Telegraph.

Dr Laurie said a make-up class was scheduled in a different building and the students did not miss any teachings. 


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, 2018

Minneapolis cop who shot dead Australian yoga instructor in her pajamas after answering her 911 call is charged with murder

This is the thing -- a refugee from Africa -- that shot a lovely Australian lady.  He already had multiple complaints against him.  He was still working only because he was black

A Minneapolis cop who shot dead an Australian yoga teacher in her pajamas after he answered her 911 call has been charged with murder.

Officer Mohamed Noor turned himself in Tuesday morning and is being held on murder and manslaughter charges for gunning down 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond on July 15 while she was engaged to be married.

He shot Damond in the stomach when she approached his squad car minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.

Damond's family said in a written statement they are pleased that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman decided to bring charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

They say they hope a strong case will be presented and Noor will be convicted.

Their statement says justice 'demands accountability for those responsible for recklessly killing the fellow citizens they are sworn to protect'.

A statement from the Ruszczyk and her fiance, Don Damond, said: 'While we waited over eight months to come to this point, we are pleased with the way a grand jury and County Attorney Mike Freeman appear to have been diligent and thorough in investigating and ultimately determining that these charges are justified.'

Damond was unarmed and had called 911 caller to alert police to what she believed may have been a rape taking place in the alley behind her home.

Noor told friends he was 'startled' by his victim seconds before he opened fire.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one friend said the officer had opened fire when an unidentified figure emerged from the dark and ran towards the vehicle.

The officer said he was not sure what the person was carrying and momentarily opened fire through his driver-partner's open window.

It was confirmed that Damond's cell phone was found alongside her during the tragedy.

Noor told associates it was dark and the situation was already tense as the caller had been 'panicking' when making the 911 call reporting an assault in the alley beyond where Damond lived with her fiancé and his son.

The squad car, driven by his partner Matthew Harrity traveled hastily down the unlit alley between Washburn and Xerxes avenues south from West 50th Street toward West 51st Street.

Neither officer's body camera was switched on, and there is no video of the shooting.

Crucially, the vehicle did not have its lights on and this may have been so as not to give any suspect notice that police had arrived and buy precious time to apprehend the target. That the car was unlit was disclosed by Harrity to the BCA.

Both Noor and the BCA's version of events agreed on the car's lights being off. 

According to Noor's version when they reached the end of the alley, they came across a waiting, panicking figure.

It was dark, and the figure was moving around and approached their vehicle.

Noor said he did not know whether the figure who rushed towards their vehicle was the 911 caller or even if it was a man or woman.

He his weapon through Harrity's open driver's window hitting his victim once in the abdomen.

Both he and Harrity gave CPR to the victim before help and back up arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The charge of third-degree murder carries a maximum of of 25 years in prison, although the presumptive sentence is 12 years.

The second-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, and the presumptive sentence is four years.

Noor's bail is set at $500,000, according to jail records.

The 'twin cities' of Minneapolis and St Paul have been rocked in recent years by police shootings, putting the community and law enforcement on edge.


Queensland train drivers earning nearly $200,000

What an aggressive union can get you -- at the expense of the fare-paying public

LOOKING for a new career? The salaries of Queensland’s train drivers have been revealed, and they are truly mind-boggling.

QUEENSLAND’S top-paid train driver took home nearly $76,000 in overtime alone last financial year, nearly an entire full-time Australian salary.

The eye-watering pay packets of Queensland Rail drivers have been revealed by the State Government as it scrambles to fill 200 positions to avoid a repeat of the October 2016 timetable disaster.

In 2016-17, the median base salary for full-time drivers was $95,351.32, with the total pay rising to $130,022.05 including overtime and allowances — nearly 60 per cent higher than the Australian average of $81,531.

Citytrain drivers clocked an average of 6.45 hours of overtime per week, amounting to an extra $511.98, according to the figures released by Transport Minister Mark Bailey in response to a question on notice from the opposition in the Queensland Parliament.

The top-earning driver worked 952.65 hours of overtime last year and was paid a total of $193,507.59. The top five drivers each took home total pay packets of greater than $180,000 for collectively working a total of 4061.34 hours of overtime — more than 169 days between them.

“Queensland Rail’s first priority is safety and all rostering arrangements are in accordance with relevant fatigue management requirements,” Mr Bailey said.

The Strachan Commission of Inquiry into the 2016 fiasco, which resulted in network-wide delays and the cancellation of 167 services over several days following the opening of the Redcliffe Peninsula Line, recommended Queensland Rail hire an additional 200 drivers and 200 guards to ensure a structural surplus of crew to reduce the reliance on overtime.

Mr Bailey said since October 2016, 69 drivers had been added with another 77 in training, while 168 guards had been added and a further 51 were in training.

“Queensland Rail is working hard to recruit additional train crew and has already reduced the level of overtime for train crew,” he said. “In addition, Queensland Rail has opened train crew recruitment to external applicants, which is critical to boosting train crew numbers and increasing Queensland Rail’s services.”

Mr Bailey said more drivers would commence training this year alone, than under the entire term of the previous LNP government.

“Train drivers and guards are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of up to 1000 customers at any one time,” he said.

“They are required to work weekends, public holidays and shift work and are remunerated accordingly for this time away from family, when most people are at home or enjoying time off.

“There is an expectation that they are resilient and adaptive, with the ability to problem solve during unplanned disruptions, critical incidents and emergency situations, however it is not mandatory to work overtime.”

Opposition MP Steve Minnikin told the ABC the figures were unacceptable. “Whilst commuters are cramming into packed trains or being left stranded on the platform, Queensland Rail drivers are counting their cash,” he said.

“Some drivers are earning more than $65,000 a year in overtime alone with their total remuneration almost reaching $200,000 a year. Labor’s train driver shortage means more overtime for union drivers, paid for by taxpayers.”

Earlier this month, the Queensland government was left red-faced after it emerged that it may have to pull $4 billion worth of new trains off the tracks because they were basically illegal.

The Canadian-designed, Indian-built fleet of New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains failed to meet minimum legal standards, with multiple problems including failing air conditioning, issues with braking and disabled toilets inaccessible by wheelchair.

At the time they were ordered, the former LNP government boasted that the trains were about half the price of similar designs.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads said “some compliance issues have been identified” with the trains. TMR said the fix would take 18 to 24 months and would involve removing toilets from some trains, adding extra toilets to others and rearranging the seats.


Green/Left governments want us to use public transport

But that puts us in the hands of bureaucrats who don't give a sh*t about us.  The story below is from the Australian city of Brisbane.  The Brisbane train system is actually one of the best in Australia's capital cities.  Sydney commuters have it much worse.  So it is interesting to see what counts as a good system below.  Nobody gives a sh*t in Brisbane either

SCHEDULED maintenance has caused public transport chaos on the night of Ed Sheeran’s first concert at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Passengers leaving from the city on the Caboolture/Sunshine and Redcliffe lines were being moved on to buses at Northgate station and being told to expect delays of up to an hour on their journey.

Buses replaced trains between Northgate and Petrie stations for the remainder of the evening.

As reported by The Courier-Mail, TransLink announced the works – maintenance on overhead powerlines – two months ago, warning commuters that buses would be used from 9.30pm onwards, before tracks reopened in the morning. That particular maintenance work was only scheduled for last night and will not impact tonight’s show.

Concert goer Katherine Lameree didn’t arrive home at Dakabin until after 1am due to the maintenance work. The gig finished at 10.30pm. Ms Lameree said it took her 30 minutes to reach the station.

Ms Lameree and her partner got off the train at Northgate where they were forced to join the que to the waiting bus.

“The lines were up the ramp for the overpass to get to the busses,” she said. “There was one waiting and they couldn’t keep up with the demand.”

Ms Lameree ended up calling a friend from the station and instead got a lift home, but was left disappointed that the maintenance went ahead despite the event.

“They knew the event was on, they were partnered with it offering free transport. Surely it could’ve waited until Thursday or be done in off peak during the day,” she said.

“A lot of people voiced it (frustration) on the train… but we all were like do we expect any better from Queensland Rail.”

A TransLink spokesman last week told The Courier-Mail last week of the track closure from Northgate to Petrie affecting the Redcliffe Peninsula and Sunshine Coast lines, encouraging Ed Sheeran fans to plan ahead. They did not give a reason as to why the closure was scheduled for that particular night.

Despite the warning many Ed Sheeran fans were angry TransLink chose the night of a major Brisbane event to conduct the maintenance.

In a Facebook comment, concert goer Ashley Darrenkamp called Queensland Rail “utterly ridiculous” for scheduling maintenance on the same night as the the 52,000-capacity sellout gig.

“They really messed up! I had to end up finding another way home, costing heaps of money!,” she wrote.

“Having to wait for buses to then stop at every station then to catch another train... very upset. I was fully aware and expecting delays due to high volumes but this was unacceptable.”

Another fan, Jessica Hopwood, said she too was also caught off guard by the maintenance.

“Traffic to Roma street station from the concert took 40 minutes then been told at the platform to get off the train at Northgate, then waiting in line for 20 minutes for a bus,” she said.


University of Sydney debating club determined to discriminate on race, class and sex

One would have thought that the best way to stop discrimination would be to stop discriminating

The politics of race and gender have arrived at the University of Sydney’s oldest debating club, which this year will field teams of debaters comprised mainly of “non-cis-males, wom*n, and persons marginalised by white ­supremacy” as opposed to the best debaters they can find.

The University of Sydney Union, which describes itself as “one of the best debating ­institutions in the world”, says its affirmative action policy will ­ensure that teams heading to the Australian Easter Debating Championships (or “Easters”) for novices next month will include more “persons of colour” and others from “minority ethno-cultural background” as well as born-women, and others who don’t identity as “cis-male”.

(A cis-gender person identifies as the sex they were assigned at birth. Wom*n is used to include females, trans women and anyone who identifies as a woman).

There are quotas for people from non-elite public schools too, who get in on the grounds that they are “disadvantaged in debating ­opportunities”.

The union, which boasts of being an equal world record ­holder when it comes to making the finals at the world debating championships, will also employ “equity officers” to attend the tournament to assist those who find debating “intensely competitive and stressful”.

“This can intentionally or ­unintentionally lead to people feeling victimised,” the union says. But the equity officers will ­provide “safe avenues” to voice concern.

Sydney University student Nina Dillon Britton praised the ­initiative, saying affirmative ­action policies had fostered a ­diverse and inclusive environment. “I’m a female debater and it created a culture where more women were able to put themselves forward,” she said. “We have to recognise sub­conscious bias and stereotypes, which mean women and people of colour are disadvantaged when they speak.

“We shouldn’t just be happy with only allowing privileged ­people; we should be encouraging as much diversity as possible in ­debating.”

However, Sydney University Liberal Club president Joshua Crawford criticised the quotas, saying they were “an affront to fairness and merit”.

Mr Crawford said it was a ­“disgrace” that some students, “who have worked tirelessly to ­become some of the university’s top debaters” would be prevented from being on the team because of their gender.

“It is equally abhorrent that there will be female debaters, who have every right to be on the ­debating team by their own ­merits, who will now have the legitimacy of their position ­questioned.”

Media personality and former Sydney University debater Adam Spencer said that if the community overwhelmingly wanted the changes, “then good luck to them”. But he argued that the ­selection for the world debating championships should continue to be merit-based.

“You should send your very best team at any given time to the world championships, which is the jewel in the crown of debating,” he said.

Spencer won the world’s best speaker award in the 1996 world championships.

No union officer was available to comment on the diversity requirements when contacted by The Australian yesterday.

The Australasian Intervarsity Debating Association, or AIDA, which this year chose the University of Sydney as host for the Australian Easter Debating Championships, was not available to comment either.

AIDA president Stephanie White said the conveners of the Easter tournament — that is, the University of Sydney’s Easters 2018 team — were best placed to answer questions “and they will be in touch”, but they were not.

The affirmative action guidelines are complex, and may prove difficult to implement in some circumstances.

For example, the proportion of debaters who identify as non-cis-male across all teams attending Easters must be no less than 50 per cent. One third of tournament adjudicators must also identify as non-cis-male.

In addition, each of the top three teams must also have “at least one debater who identifies as being a person of colour, from a minority ethno-cultural background, or marginalised by white supremacy”.

Teams must also include ­debaters who attended “a school meeting the criteria listed in section 5.6.8 of the regulations” which basically means a disadvantaged public school, as ­opposed to a private school.

The University of Sydney Union expects to send 11 teams of three speakers each, and 11 ­adjudicators.

The union pays the fees, which are as much as $380 per person, but the union will fund only those teams where the “proportion of non-cis-male, wom*n-identifying people” reaches 50 per cent.

“At least four non-cis-male women-identifying people must be selected in the top three teams,” the guidelines say.

There must be “one non-cis-male women-identifying person in each funded team.”

At least one third of ­adjudicators must be “women-identifying”.

It requires some juggling because the various rules must also be applied in a way “that does not disadvantage” those people who have already been included on the basis of gender, racial and socio-economic discrimination.

“The proportion of people who identify as being a person of colour, from a minority ethno-cultural background, or marginalised by white supremacy … must be at least 25 per cent,” the guidelines say.

“At least one person who identifies as belonging to one or more of the aforementioned groups must be selected in the top three teams.

“At least half the quota (must) be filled with people identified as non-cis-male (rounding up).”

Teams must also include ­students from “high schools that are recognised as being disadvantaged in terms of debating opportunities” and 15 per cent of places must be from a reserved for student from a comprehensive school.

In addition, “the minimum number of non-cis-male identifying adjudicators sent shall be equal to the number of adjudicators sent divided by three”.


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, 2018

Tony Abbott says Peter Dutton is 'absolutely right' about white South African farmers

Former prime minister Tony Abbott says Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is "absolutely right" about the need to prioritise white South African farmers through Australia's refugee program.

Wading into the internal and diplomatic furore over Mr Dutton's remarks, Mr Abbott said the situation in South Africa was a "national crisis" and "racism of the worst sort", and backed the call for intervention - despite Foreign Minister Julie Bishop rejecting the idea at the weekend.

"There is a very serious situation developing in South Africa. Something like 400 white farmers have been murdered, brutally murdered, over the last 12 months," Mr Abbott told 2GB radio. The farmers were being murdered by "squatters intent on driving them off their land", he said, and it would be a "national crisis" if the same thing were happening to Australian farmers.

"If the boot was on the other foot we would call it racism of the worst sort," Mr Abbott said.

"I think we should acknowledge this as a very, very serious issue of justice and fairness and freedom for people who are trying to do the right thing.

"I think that Peter Dutton was absolutely right to say that under our humanitarian intake program there ought to be a place for people who are being persecuted this way."

Mr Dutton's bid for some sort of special refugee program for white farmers has stoked not only internal tensions within Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's cabinet but a diplomatic furore with South Africa. That country's foreign ministry has refuted the assertion that white farmers are persecuted and demanded an apology for Mr Dutton's claim they needed help from a "civilised country" such as Australia.

The statistic cited by Mr Abbott - that 400 white farmers have been murdered in the past year - has appeared in several media reports, including in Australia, but is disputed. According to Africa Check, a fact-checking website, police and researchers counted 74 farm murders in the 12 months between April 2016 and March 2017, with victims' races not recorded.

South Africa has demanded Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton retract his comments that the country's white farmers are being "persecuted" and deserve protection with special visas from a "civilised country".

At the weekend, Ms Bishop rejected Mr Dutton's pitch for "special attention", telling the ABC's Insiders program the "credibility [of the refugee program] comes from the fact that it is non-discriminatory and that each application is assessed on its merits". There were "no plans" to alter the program, Ms Bishop said.

However, the program is Mr Dutton's responsibility as Home Affairs Minister and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Mr Turnbull is yet to publicly articulate a view on the issue.

Ms Bishop confirmed Australia's high commissioner to South Africa was "called in" for a meeting with the government in Pretoria following Mr Dutton's remarks, and explained the nature of Australia's refugee program.

Mr Dutton last week revealed he had instructed his department to examine ways of giving special treatment to white South African farmers, observing there was already a large cohort of South Africans settled in Australia who integrated well and did not live off welfare. "They're the sorts of migrants we want to bring into our country," Mr Dutton said.


Church forced to remove the word 'Jesus' from its Easter advertising as the word is considered to be OFFENSIVE to non-Christians

A church has been forced to remove the word 'Jesus' from its signs ahead of Easter because it has been causing offence.

Elim Church on the Central Coast in New South Wales paid for digital signs to be displayed at Erina Fair shopping centre reading 'the greatness of His Power'.

Pastor Martin Duffy told 2GB radio that shopping centre manager Lendlease objected to the signs and forced them to be changed to read 'Risen Christ' instead of 'Jesus'.

'The phrase 'Jesus is alive'... is the core message of the Christian faith and what Easter's really all about,' he said.

'It's a good message. I think there's a minority group out there that are constantly distorting the message of Jesus Christ. It's just going on and on.'

Elim Church is a West Gosford evangelical church located north of Sydney.

Pastor Duffy claimed Lendlease requested to withdraw the word 'Jesus' from the sign as it may have offended shoppers and non-Christians.

The sign was an advertisement for a free community event being held on the waterfront at Gosford.

'The greatness of His Power - Jesus is Alive!' the sign read.

Pastor Duffy said Lendlease has since changed their mind and allowed the word 'Jesus' to be included in the sign.

He said Lendlease said the word 'Jesus' has yet to be added to the sign but he is hopeful it will be returned eventually.

In a statement, a Lendlease spokeswoman said they regretted asking for the sign to be amended.

'It was an error of judgment to ask Elim Church to change its messaging, and we apologise unreservedly.

'Lendlease values diversity and inclusion, and we welcome people of all backgrounds at our shopping centres.'
Read more:


Q&A’s near miss with Peterson

In case you missed it — you can’t possibly have missed it — Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson has been touring Australia. Maybe you saw him in Melbourne. Maybe you saw him in Brisbane. One thing is certain: you didn’t see him on the ABC’s Q&A. Why not?

If we here at The Weekend Australian have been asked that question once this week, we’ve been asked it a thousand times, in the comments section of our website and while we — me and Janet Albrechtsen — have been on tour too, meeting subscribers.

How can the ABC claim to have the nation’s No 1 show for ideas and conversation, and not have Peterson — the conservative rock star du jour — on the panel? Was he not invited? Did he refuse to go on? The answers to those questions are no and no, meaning yes, he was invited, and no, he did not refuse to go on.

Peterson’s publisher, Penguin Random House, tried hard to make it happen, and Peterson himself was keen, telling The Australian: “I would have stayed longer if it would have helped.” It wouldn’t have helped. The problem was that Peterson was due to be speaking to a sold-out show in western Sydney at the exact moment that Q&A was going live from ABC headquarters in Ultimo.

He couldn’t move his commitment, and Q&A couldn’t either. Nobody is ruling out a future appearance should Peterson return to these shores, and you can see why the ABC would want him: Peterson is box office. His book, Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is storming up bestseller lists here and abroad. He’s selling out shows at which he just stands and talks for two hours.

Q&A, by comparison, is in trouble. That is not ABC bashing. although of course that’s how it will be read. It’s a simple statement of fact: the show that used to rate 750,000 a week now gets about 430,000. On March 12, which is when Peterson would have been on had they been able to swing it, the program didn’t make the top 20 for the night.

What’s gone wrong? You could be generous and say it’s 10 years old, so fair enough that some people are a bit bored with the format, but there is absolutely no denying that there is also a feeling — and this comes through extremely strongly when you talk to subscribers of the Oz — that Q&A is failing because it’s a nest of leftie vipers.

Some of the things they’ve done through the years boggle the mind. For mine, the low point was when they decided to make a hero of the toaster guy, Duncan Storrar. You’ll remember that episode, but it’s worth revisiting in the wake of #MeToo. Storrar became a Q&A hero — a hero of the left, a hero on Twitter — after he asked a question about tax breaks for the rich, while telling viewers at home that he barely had enough money to take his children to the movies.

Storrar was rewarded with oceans of sympathy and stacks of actual cash after someone started a crowd-funding campaign to buy him a toaster. A day or so later, one of his young-adult sons came forward to say: hey, hang on, just so you know, the recipient of all your leftie love had been convicted on multiple occasions of serious crimes against women. Oh, for #MeToo, back then.

News Corp Australia, being a company of reporters, dutifully checked the record and found that Storrar indeed had breached multiple apprehended violence orders, threatened violence and made threats to kill, and he had been sent to prison for it. The backlash — against News, mind, not Storrar — was fierce because obviously even a bloke with a long rap sheet for terrorising women is, in the minds of Q&A and its Twitter audience, better than anything that comes out of News Corp.

Others will say the Storrar episode was nothing compared with the appearance by Zaky Mallah, who was invited to be in the audience. Mallah is most famous for saying that two women who worked for News deserved to be pack-raped. He was cheered because obviously being a rapist sympathiser also is better than being a conser­vative from The Weekend Australian.

Audience aside, it’s probably fair to say that some panellists also make the show unwatchable. There’s no need to name names, but who has had enough of the unctuous lefties who roll their eyes whenever the conservatives speak? Who insist on getting all loud and sweary while making their very passionate points? Who talk all over the others, and arrive equipped with lame jokes they are so desperate to use, they end up butchering the punchline or inserting them at precisely the wrong moment? That person still gets a huge cheer, of course. By contrast, talk to conservatives and they’ll tell you it’s a bleak experience going on that show. You’d be hard pressed to say that Albrechtsen hasn’t done her best to yank Q&A towards the middle. She has been on 13 times — compared with, say, Tanya Plibersek, who has been on 29 times — but took a break back in 2013, saying she got tired of being the token conservative.

“I don’t want to legitimatise a show that makes no genuine attempt at balance,” Albrechtsen said at the time. They coaxed her back for this year’s special #MeToo episode, hosted by Virginia Trioli, who I can assure you is no leftie luvvy, and it was excellent, although there was a telling moment when one of the other panel­lists, Isabella Manfredi, turned to Albrechtsen and said: “Can I just say as well, Janet, I agree with most of what you said, which is … I never thought I’d say that in my life …” The transcript records the audience response: (LAUGHTER).

It’s the same when broadcaster Alan Jones goes on. Twitter lights up with: “My god, I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Alan Jones!”

Shouldn’t the audience be more even than that? They say they do their best, even busing in people from Sydney’s west to try to make it more mainstream — if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about who is normally there, nothing does — but clearly it’s not enough.

That said, guess what happened when News Corp’s Sharri Markson went on two weeks ago? (For the record, she’s not a conservative — she’s a superstar reporter — but she works for Rupert, and there are always plenty in the audience who will find plenty wrong with that.) They made her a cake. They really did.

Apparently they remembered from the last time she was on in 2014 that it was her birthday that week, so they brought a cake and candles into the green room and sang Happy Birthday to her, and not only that, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie stopped by with her best wishes (for those who think she doesn’t know or care what’s going on at Q&A, we can report that she also sat in a camera blind spot in the audience and watched the whole thing).

But yes, I know, you’re going to scoff and say, so what if they came with cake? Let them eat cake. The ABC has a statutory obligation to reflect a diversity of opinion. We all fund the broadcaster, and Q&A is the flagship show for debate, which is why it matters not only that Peterson didn’t get on this time, but also that so many people instinctively — no, reflexively — believed it was because they didn’t ask him. Next time, you’d have to think, there can be no excuse.


Canada guilty of a "trade war" too -- against Australian wine

Why the Canadian wine industry is in any sense strategic is a mystery

Canada is shaping as a fresh hotspot in a world of budding trade wars thanks to a battle over Australian wine exports.

Australian trade officials recently met with their Canadian counterparts to object to extra taxes and mark-ups on imported wine sold in Canada that the Australian wine industry believes breach international trade rules and threaten Australian wine sales.

The Canadian measures, which Australian trade minister Steve Ciobo has criticised for “discriminating against Australian wine imports” also include the adoption of separate distribution channels reserved for Canadian wine only, and extra fees on imported wines.

The discussions, which occurred over two days early this month in Geneva, came at a sensitive time in global trade, coinciding with the worldwide outrage generated by US President Donald Trump’s comments that the world’s biggest economy would introduce stiff new steel and aluminium tariffs.

Canada itself reacted with anger to the Trump tariff move, with its foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland saying: "As the number one customer for American steel, Canada would view any trade restrictions on Canadian steel and aluminium as absolutely unacceptable."

In January Australia launched formal World Trade Organisation dispute settlement action against Canada over the various wine measures, the first time Australia has initiated formal WTO action since 2003.

The formal consultations between representatives of the two nations were the first stage in World Trade Organisation dispute settlement action over the matter.

According to figures recently released by Wine Australia, Australian wine exports to Canada were valued at $187 million in 2017, equal to seven per cent of Australia’s total wine exports for the year of $2.6 billion and our fourth biggest wine export market.

Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Winemakers Federation of Australia, said Canada was a significant market for Australia.

“It’s an important market at a higher value price point as well...They do like premium wine,” he said.

“It’s our fourth biggest market, so it’s significant, so we take it very seriously. The issue is that the Canadian liquor boards are trying to give preferential treatment to domestically produced product.

“One of the reasons we’re involved in this dispute is a fear that the US will seek the same rights as the Canadian industry, and then they would get equal access and that would leave us in a very adverse position."

The Australian industry is also about to start spending a significant amount of money on promoting Australian wine in both America and Canada, and believe exports to both countries could be increased.

In Canada most provinces have what are called liquor control boards, which Mr Battaglene likened to government-owned liquor monopolies that raised substantial revenue for provincial governments.

“When they start giving preferential treatment to domestic product it means that you don’t have any other way to sell your product but through those outlets, and that means that you suffer a significant disadvantage,” Mr Battaglene said.

“This issue has been around for some time, a number of years, but it’s become we think, almost a systemic problem. So each province is introducing new measures all favouring their domestic producers, and they differ between provinces."

Mr Ciobo said he had initiated World Trade Organisation dispute settlement proceedings as a result of ongoing concerns held by the Australian wine industry.

“The Australian wine industry is a big export earner for Australia, and helps create many jobs for Australians. I want to make sure we stand up for our producers and not allow other countries to discriminate against us, costing us export income and potentially jobs," he said.

“Australia requested formal WTO Consultations on measures discriminating against Australian wine imports that we consider to be clearly inconsistent with Canada’s WTO commitments."


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, 2018

Dick Smith has come into his own

Dick Smith was undoubtedly the most popular man in Australia.  As a successful businessman he was known for his sense of humor and the comic stunts he did to publicise his electronics business. From Wikipedia: 

"Smith has also attempted a number of well-publicised practical jokes, including the April Fool's Day attempt to tow a purported iceberg from Antarctica into Sydney Harbour in 1978, a new source of fresh water. Smith appeared in several TV ads on a pogo stick, promoting his business. In the early 1980s, Dick Smith served as the conductor aboard a London double decker bus which jumped 15 motorcycles. The bus, driven by Hans Tholstrup, was a humorous poke at Evel Knievel, who had visited Australia in 1979 and jumped his motorcycle over buses. Dick Smith's presence on the bus was a last-minute decision by himself."

Additionally, he was often ready with a cheque for people in the news who had fallen on hard times.  He was a genuine philanthropist -- and still is.  When he speaks publicly it is news.

When a few years ago he sold his business to Woolworths for a large sum, his focus changed somewhat.  He had always been a keen patriot -- something else that tended to endear him -- and he now set about doing something about it.  Like Trump, he deplored the  way Australian businesses were being shut down by cheap inports from China and elsewhere. 

Unlike Trump, he can't impose tariffs but he could try to persuade people to "Buy Australian".  And he did.  And to encourage that process, he set up a retail business that exclusively stocked Australian products.  It had some success but struggled.  Dick turned his business brain to the project, however, and came up with various ways of making sales.

Dick advertises his new sandwich spread on his hat

One of his inspirations was to sell "hampers" of Australian-made food products -- jams, sauces etc.  The hampers included quite a lot of different products and came in a nice wooden box with a latch.  I bought one to give to Jenny on her birthday a few years back.  It cost me a bit but it was worth it to see Jenny's glee in getting it.

Eventually, however, most of the business faded away, though I see that Dick has persuaded Woolworths to stock a few of the products he sponsors.  They are dearer than competing lines but the Dick Smith name on them is prestgious and generates some sales.  I suspect that Woolworths stocks them mainly as good PR.

So when Dick saw the problems Australia was having with its high level of imigration, Dick spoke out -- pleading for a pause while Australia built the new roads and houses that had become necessary.  He was ignored.  Some Leftists even called him a racist. 

But he was proved right.  In the absence of much new housing, the price of existing housing stormed up to levels similar to London and Manhattan.  It was a disaster for young Australian couples wanting to get into their own first homes.

Do Dick lost a lot of love over his opposition to high levels of immigration.  For the first time, some people were saying bad things about him.  He was of course greatly hurt to be condemned for trying to help his beloved country to get off an unsustainable path.

Quite recently, however, the excreta has hit the rotating device and former PM Tony Abbott made a speech or two along the same lines that Dick had taken.  He stressed the housing shortage, the traffic congestion and the overstretched public hospitals that the immigration surge has brought about.  The authorities have actually been very diligent in buiding new roads, traffic tunnels and bridges but finding room for such things in already crowded cities was not easy so the traffic jams have lengthened.

And guess what?  Mr Abbott was called an racist too.  But that seems to have been the last hurrah from the abusive Left.  Even the Leftist ABC recently aired a big program pointing out the difficulties that immigration has caused.  And there have been other voices raised that no longer get condemned as racist. 

So Dick has been exonerated.  His warnings are now widely accepted as wise and in need of action.  We may not see much action immediately but there is now a pretty good consensus over the need for action.  Below are two of the recent articles in support of an immigration  slowdown.  The first is from the ABC "4 Corners" TV program

Is YOUR suburb at breaking point? Inside the areas DOUBLING in size as garden blocks vanish, roads are clogged, and home-ownership dreams end for Aussies - while baby boomers make MILLIONS

When John McCaffrey moved into Cliff Road at Epping more than 60 years ago there were cows, horses and a creek across from his home.

Now when Mr McCaffrey looks out from his front lawn he sees rows of four-storey apartments and he is ready to sell up and leave his little part of suburbia in Sydney's north-west. The 64-year-old can no longer resist the forces of huge urban population growth.

Sydney is still Australia's largest city but Melbourne is growing faster and both capitals will have populations of eight million by the middle of the century.

The fastest growing areas in Australia's two biggest cities are South Morang in Melbourne's north-east, and Cobbitty-Leppington in Sydney's south-west. Some suburbs in both cities have more than doubled in size in the past 10 years.

Mr McCaffrey, his mother, father and two brothers first crammed into their two-bedroom home in 1956. It had cost his parents just £5,000 pounds.

The recent death of his mother means Mr McCaffrey is selling up and leaving with an almost $4 million windfall.

'I've been here 62 years and when I first came here it was rural,' he said. 'When I first came to Epping there used to be a produce shop, a fish shop and some other little shops. On this street kids used to go down to the creek and catch eels and fish.

'On the other side of the road, was a meadow with cows and horses, a creek and farmland.

'I guess it was probably about two years ago I reckon that these units started popping up. I understand people need somewhere to live and I certainly understand people wanting to sell with the prices that are being paid.'

Sydney's population topped 5million at the end of June 2016, with an increase of almost 83,000 - or 1.7 per cent - over the previous year. It took the city almost 30 years - from 1971 to 2000 - to move from 3million to 4million. The next million took just 16 years.

Melbourne's population has grown by a third in just 15 years and added almost a quarter to its population in the past decade. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates that in the 10 years to June 2016, the population of Greater Melbourne grew by 880,876, or 23.4 per cent.

Most of the growth is due to immigration. Australia's net annual immigration rate moved above 200,000 a year in 2012. A decade earlier it was 100,000. The country's immigration rate averaged 70,000 during the 20th century.

The number of Australians born overseas - 28 per cent - was a record, up from 24 per cent 10 years earlier.

An ABS estimate of net overseas migration for the year ended 30 June 2017 - 245,400 people - was 27.1 per cent higher than the net overseas migration recorded for the year ended 30 June 2016.

The population of Australia, which is now about 25million is set to hit 40million by the middle of the century. There were just 19million people living in Australia in 2000.

That year former New South Wales premier Bob Carr declared Sydney 'full'. Since then, the population of Greater Sydney has increased by 22 per cent, while its area has increased by less than 2 per cent.

Australia's capital cities grew faster than the rest of the country in the 12 months to June 2016, accounting for 82 per cent of the nation's population growth.

Sydney and Melbourne experienced 56 per cent of the entire nation's population increase.

ABS statistics figures released in March last year put the population of Greater Sydney, which includes the Blue Mountains and Central Coast, at 5,005,400.

Sydney is bearing the brunt of population increases in New South Wales, absorbing 78 per cent of the state's growth.

Four of the five fastest growth areas in the country in the 2015-16 financial year were in Melbourne and two in the top 10 were in Sydney.

Businessman Dick Smith warned of an end to the Australian way of life if the country continued to accept more than 200,000 immigrants a year. 'You're jammed like a termite in a high-rise, or I say battery chooks,' Mr Smith told Four Corners this week.

'Now we've got 20 storeys and presumably in 20 years' time, the 20 storeys will be knocked down and we'll go to 50 storeys.'

If the current trends continue Melbourne will pass Sydney as Australia's biggest city in the mid-2050s, by which time both cities will house more than 8million residents.

Mr Carr warned on Four Corners that unrestrained growth could create a dystopia.

'When you contemplate the eastern suburbs of Sydney, access to the beaches - which is a natural space, recreational space - what do you do?' Mr Carr asked. 'Do you have fences and turnstiles? When the population around Bondi, for example, reaches the sort of intensified level that means the roads are choked most days in summer, do you start to ration access to the coastal walking trails along the coast?'

A ReachTell poll conducted for Fairfax Media in October last year found more than two thirds of respondents believed Sydney was full.

At the same time, the Greater Sydney Commission said the city would need about 725,000 extra dwellings over the next 20 years to accommodate the growing population.

The growth means increases in housing density in some parts of Sydney and Melbourne. 

Greater Sydney has an average 405 people per square kilometre while Greater Melbourne has 465 people per square kilometre.

But Homebush Bay-Silverwater in Sydney's west has a population density of 1,773 per square kilometre, while Maroubra, in the city's south-east has 5,591.

Paddington-Moore Park in the east has 4,394 and the Concord-Mortlake-Cabarita area in the inner-west 3,706.

It is expected Green Square, in the city's inner-south, will have a population density of 22,000 people per square kilometre by 2030.

By comparison, the New York urban area has a population density of 1,800 per square kilometre. London is 5,600, Tokyo-Yokohama 4,400 and Paris 3,700.

Dhaka in Bangladesh has 44,100 people per square kilometre and India's Mumbai has about 26,000.

This week NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley called for a cap on Australia's immigrant intake set in consultation with the states and territories.

Experts are warning Sydney and Melbourne are becoming so big infrastructure, health services and education facilities cannot keep pace.

'We've done an abysmal job,' Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox told Four Corners.

'There has been really no serious integrated debate around all the key factors that population growth brings to our economy and our national way of life.'


Add new migrants and stir carefully

If Australia — or any other Western democracy — were able to have a grown-up conversation about immigration and integra­tion, then that conversation would start with difficult questions. One of them would be this: “Who do we not want to join us here?” If there are people who we do want then there must be people we do not want. And if we agree that we cannot take in the world then we must have this conversation.

As gang violence once again makes itself felt in Melbourne the Australian public will be mulling this matter. But few people in public life — and almost no one in mainstream politics — dares to even talk about this subject, or show they’re thinking about it. For the time being we all have to pretend that 10,000 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa will contribute no differently to a country than 10,000 arrivals from New Zealand. Such cowardly and immature public discussion — across all the Western democracies — is provoking disastrous mistakes.

In recent years I have researched and addressed questions of immigration and identity around the world, but particularly in Europe, whose situation is most similar to that in Australia. And I have often asked these uncomfortable questions. I once pressed an elected British official in public to tell me who they did not want in Britain. The only clear answer I could get was that Britain should not allow in people who had been convicted of war crimes. Which means we have a moral right to keep out about a half-dozen people, all of whom are spending the rest of their lives in jail in The Hague anyway. Is all of the rest of the world really welcome?

We have stopped ourselves being allowed to think out loud about these matters. The plain reason is that for the time being the social costs of speculating about this in public are just too high. And there are some good reasons. Nobody wants to alienate people who are not alienated already. Plus there are a small number of people around who genuinely hate people of different backgrounds and ethnicities. Nobody wants to provide cover or give succour to such people. But in attempting not to aid them, and while signalling that we are not such people ourselves, we have disabled our ability to have a sane public discussion. Simultaneously, “open borders” fanatics see how afraid everyone else is even of false accusations of bigotry and push their advantage, throwing around accusations of racism for short-term wins towards a long-term political goal.

Nevertheless, serious questions about immigration and integration will keep finding us out. Today in Europe they are finding us out all the time. Particularly in the aftermath of the German Chancellor’s 2015 decision to say that the world could come if it could make it to Europe.

In 2015 up to 1.5 million came to Germany in one year alone, adding about 2 per cent to the German population. Nobody thought the matter through. Nobody wanted to admit the consequences. Everyone was fearful of the discussion. But the German public is now living with the consequences. A report commissioned by the German government and released at the start of this year found that a double-digit increase in violent crime had occurred in the years since 2015 and that “more than 90 per cent” of this was due to young male migrants. Three years ago if you said that a huge influx of young male migrants from the developing world might cause an increase in violent crime you would be dismissed as a racist. Today it is clear that — whether you were a racist or not — you also were right in your prediction. Is it wise to depict accurate predictions as racist? Rather than address this conundrum, we shut it down.

For the time being there remains only one acceptable tone in which to talk about immigration and integration. That is to talk about it as an unending boon and one big success story. Merely signal that there are pros and cons and you land in a whole world of pain.

Australians are particularly keen to talk about the positive side of the ledger. And to some extent Australians have a right to do this. The country has much to be proud of. What country has coped better with a swiftly changing and pluralistic society? Can any of Australia’s numerous homegrown critics name one? And it has had a political class that has been willing — on occasion — to break the consensus, certainly far more so than its counterparts in Europe.

For instance, in a recent speech, Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge made one of the most important points that can be made — not only to praise what Australia has done well in the past but also to warn of the consequences of getting things wrong. Because a nation does not remain the same by some law of nature. It does not remain the same whatever you put into it. As with any recipe, change the ingredients and the whole thing will change. Some change may be good. But some may be retrograde. In Europe in recent years politicians have appeared to believe that you can do anything at all to a country — throw in whatever ingredients happen to arrive — and it will remain the same. It is a presumption for which the public — from Rotherham to Cologne — is paying.

The mistake is based on errors the public can see with our own eyes. For instance we can see that there are essentially only two things that matter in migration: speed and character. The speed matters because if you bring in people too fast then there is almost no chance of integrating them. They will congregate in areas with people like them and will have little or no interaction — or desire to interact with — the rest of the community or country. Anyone visiting the towns of northern England, suburbs of Marseilles or outskirts of Stockholm can see this for themselves. Australia may be coping with this better, but ask anyone in Australia where a particular ethnic community lives and you will get directions. That is not a sign of wholly successful integration but a form of segregation — whether self-imposed or not.

Yet even harder to discuss than speed of migration is the identity of migrants. But identity matters, because — and here is a great shibboleth to break — some identities are simply easier to integrate than others. There are 67 suburbs in Melbourne and Sydney in which more than half of the residents were born overseas. Melbourne is grappling with the problem of African street gangs. Some of these are refugees from South Sudan. Of these some — including the children of refugees — have been involved in violent home invasions in the city that gave them a home.

Similar stories occur everywhere. In London there has been a significant rise in knife crime in the past year, much of it gang-related. Last month in London, within a few kilometres of each other, and within just 1½ hours, two young men of Somali origin were stabbed to death in gang fights.

So some truths need to be considered, even if they are not accepted. One is that members of the Australian public, like members of the public around the world, are right to be concerned about the speed at which immigrants come into the country. The ability of a country to absorb people does not forever increase. And it is not the case that people in Australia become as Australian as the next person simply because they have arrived in Australia.

That mistaken presumption — the one that has guided (or misguided) Angela Merkel — is disintegrating in every modern liberal state at the moment. But another truth that must be considered, even if not accepted, is that it is unlikely that knife crime in London, or home invasions in Melbourne, would be at the same levels if Britain or Australia had imported the same number of native Scandinavians as they have Somalis or South Sudanese.

Here everybody gets understandably nervous. Somalia has had a brutal civil war in recent decades and South Sudan has been marked by ethnic conflict. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands of others have been involved in that violence or seen it first hand, with effects that will never leave them.

But here is the hard question. At what stage are we helping to save people from Somalia or South Sudan? And at what stage are we at risk of resembling those conflict-torn states ourselves? The hope of our time is that while the first generation may bring problems, the second generation will not. Of course the list of second-generation immigrants in Australia who went to join Islamic State should at least give pause. But fine: if not this generation then the next, or the one after that will be fully integrated. And if many refugees don’t find employment in five years (as is the case in Australia) perhaps the country will find a use for their skills in 10 or 20 years, or some other spot in the future.

Just one problem in considering this is that it is not a science. There is not a tipping point worked out by careful equation at which one can show that integration stops occurring and tribal and gang violence — as well as many other beliefs and behaviours people bring — begin to make themselves felt. In the absence of such an equation we have only one device to work with, which is the extent to which the public feels happy with the speed of change in society and the agility of the political class to respond to this.

In Europe the political class knows that it has done mass immigration against the will of its public. Partly as a result, politicians have done everything they can to disable the public’s response mechanisms. They have ignored expressions at the ballot box, ignored manifesto promises, and when something such as the Brexit vote occurs (a vote driven largely by concern about unrestricted immigration) much of the political class continues actively to berate the public.

It is easy to experiment on people (and even berate them for objecting) if you don’t live with them. In general politicians are able to live away from the situations they create. Few Australian cabinet ministers will have their homes invaded by African gangs. They tend to be luckier in the neighbourhoods they can choose to buy in. Likewise, when Merkel meets a migrant it is in a carefully vetted photo op. Her country’s citizens are not so lucky, as the rise in violent crime — including sex crimes — suggests.

All the time the public is having to think quietly. We wonder whether integration will ever happen for some groups, and what must be put up with to get to that nirvana. Others wonder whether the destination is worth the journey. Others worry whether some groups just don’t want to be integrated, and wonder what anyone can do if that is the case.

Though there are plenty of easy mistakes that can be made in thinking through all this, there are few easy answers. Yet what answers do exist, all originate from the same places. The first lies in re-finding the ability to talk all this through honestly, plainly and without fear. The second is to do so in a recognition that most countries aren’t like this. Tolerant, pluralistic liberal democracy is not the default state of humankind. What we have is a blip point in a world of violence and millenniums of chaos. So we should be careful with experiments that cause concerns about our future and develop better remedies for when our experiments go wrong.

A generation of Australians — like their European counterparts — have been told there is nothing so appalling, oppressive and racist as the society in which they have grown up. The most charitable response to that is to say these critics can never have been anywhere, and have zero idea of how lucky they are. Saving the rest of the world from misery is a precious ambition. But recognising your own good fortune and seeking to preserve it for the next generation is a precious ambition, too — and one that happens to be within the nation’s gift. So tread wisely, Australia.


Labor voter fury over losing 30pc of income under Shorten plan

Fully-self-funded retiree, Margaret Osborne, 64, is a rusted-on Labor voter but will abandon the party at the next election.

The former teacher, who lives in Sydney's Rozelle with her husband, said Labor's proposal that, if elected, it would make changes to the dividend imputation system, would see the couple's income drop by 30 per cent. "I'm very angry about this," she said.

The couple have all their savings in Australian-listed investments through their self-managed super fund. About 85 per cent of their money is the big dividend-paying shares such as Telstra and the big banks.

Under the plan announced by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday, imputation credits would no longer be refundable. These are tax credits attached to dividends of Australian-listed companies where shareholders can claim a cash refund from the Tax Office if the value of the tax credits exceeds the shareholder's tax liabilities.

Most retirees have tax liabilities and without refundable tax credits, lose the benefit of the credits.

"We were encouraged by successive governments during our working life to set aside for our retirement and not become an added burden on the economy by accessing the age pension," Margaret said.

It is not only a major problem for better-off retirees like Margaret and her husband, but also for other retirees, many of whom are likely to be pushed onto the age pension, she said. "I don't think Labor has thought this through," she said.

If Labor wins the next election the change to dividend imputation would start from  mid-2019.

It is not only the better-off retirees who would be affected. Andrew Stark, who is in his "mid-50s", came out of a divorce with a modest amount of money which he invested in Australian shares.
He lives off about $150 per week after paying the rent on his home on the NSW Central Coast of $210 a week.

"I am a Labor supporter and to vote for the Liberals at the next election will gut me, but I will have to do it, look at my situation," he said.


Labor victory fuelled by Catholic education backing

Bill Shorten has privately hailed a Catholic education sector ­campaign days before the Batman by-election as a key factor in Labor’s win.

The Catholic intervention, which helped fuel the nearly 8 per cent primary vote swing to Labor, is already being taken as a warning to the Turnbull government that it could lose seats over the school-funding issue at the next federal election.

The Australian can reveal that the Opposition Leader called Catholic Education Melbourne chief executive Stephen Elder on Saturday night after the bigger-than-expected win over the Greens. Mr Shorten thanked the sector for its support in the by-election campaign after the Catholic body made 30,000 robocalls to almost every household on Thursday, urging a vote for Labor. The campaign helped propel the ALP’s Ged Kearney to a win with a two-party-preferred vote of about 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

Northcote resident and working mother of three Vanessa Lania said she had been compelled to vote Labor for the first time in more than three years after receiving a letter for her children’s Catholic school telling her that its funding was at risk under the Liberals.

“You don’t want to say panic set in or anything, but we were made aware that the school could be facing funding cuts, and it worried us,” Ms Lania said. “And so you do what you can to try and stop it.”

Having young children and paying school fees means her priorities have shifted, she says. “The Greens and what they say and their values align to my values, but your priorities change and education is higher on my agenda at the moment,” she said.

Catholic Education Melbourne has been at war with the Coalition over funding reforms it says have robbed millions of dollars from Catholic schools, threatening to campaign strongly over the issue at the next federal election.

During the Batman campaign, CEM wrote to every parent of the 5000 Catholic schoolchildren that make up more than a quarter of all school students in the seat, claiming Labor was the only party that would provide an extra $250 million in funding to Catholic schools over the first two years if Mr Shorten was elected to office.

It is understood that Labor’s poll tracking a week ago was pointing to a loss in the seat.

Mr Elder said he believed the issue played a significant role in the outcome, having run similar campaigns in Victorian state by-elections.

“(Bill) sat down and listened to us, got across the detail and worked out we had a fair case unlike Turnbull and (Education Minister Simon) Birmingham,” he said. “People who dismiss the church forget we are on the high moral ground when it comes to school funding. Birmingham is taking hundreds of millions of dollars off Catholic schools and many parents can’t afford to pay.”

Senior Labor MPs have seized on the by-election win to spruik the party’s chances in the next federal election. Malcolm Turnbull and senior Liberals batted away suggestions the result sent any message about Labor’s chances on federal polling day.

“We weren’t involved in that election, and I guess it tells you a lot about Bill Shorten’s situation in that he’s crowing about holding a seat the Labor Party have had for 50 years,” the Prime Minister said.

Labor’s initial plan trained the party’s sights on trying to retain traditional Labor voters in the north while attempting to win back younger families and more socially progressive voters living in the comparatively affluent suburbs in the south.

Australian Electoral Commission data reveals the strategy worked, with the party netting some of its biggest swings in the south and areas close to schools.

The Northcote West polling booth at Northcote High School experienced a swing towards Labor of 34 per cent, delivering Ged Kearney a final tally of 62.5 per cent to 37.5 per cent over the Greens in that booth.

Labor picked up a swing of more than 10 per cent at the Westgarth Primary School polling station in southern Northcote.

Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives secured 6.37 per cent of the primary vote, with most of the preferences flowing to Labor, ALP sources estimated.


Australian PM 'disappointed' the Greens linked destructive wildfire to climate change

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed his "disappointment" that the Greens linked the catastrophic bushfire that ripped through Tathra overnight to climate change.

"I'm disappointed that the Greens would try to politicise an event like this," the Prime Minister told reporters, speaking from the fire-ravaged town this afternoon.

“You can’t attribute any particular event, whether it’s a flood or fire or a drought or a storm – to climate change."

As Tathra residents waited to hear if they'd lost their homes, businesses, and or livelihoods, Greens leader Richard Di Natale rose in the Senate and linked the catastrophic bush fires to climate change.

"We are seeing climate change in our every day lives have an impact on the risk of bush fires in our communities," he said.

"We can't any longer be complacent about risk of bush fires once the end of summer comes around. "And yet here we are with bush fires racing through my home state and indeed my community."

But Malcolm Turnbull said such intense fires are part and parcel of life in Australia.

“We are the land of droughts and flooding rains, we're the land of bushfires,” he said. “Nature hurls her worst at Australians – always has and always will."

“We saw from the air how the fire had not just leapt over a river, but had leapt over streets of houses, apparently without any damage, and then landed on a group of houses which had been burnt out. So, you can see how unpredictable it is.

“We have an environment which has extremes. Bushfires are part of Australia, as, indeed, are droughts and floods.”

Coalition Senator, Ian Macdonald, called the speech "hypocritical and a fraud". "These events happened before. They will happen in the future," he said.

The official New South Wales bush fire season ends at the end of March.



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, 2018

A win for the major political parties; defeat for minorities, including Greens

The X-man is dead; South Australians finally get rid of their painful Greenie government.  The Leftists will be out for a long time in S.A. now.  They hung on for so long because of a gerrymander.  The new government will be sure to reverse that ASAP

Voters have given the minor parties the flick in two key elections this weekend.

In the end, Nick Xenophon failed to make much impression on the South Australian state election when pollsters and commentators had predicted he would hold the balance of power.

When he first stepped down from the Senate to lead SA Best, there was even talk of him becoming premier.

Instead, the Liberals, led by Steven Marshall, look to have won sufficient seats to govern in their own right, ending 16 years of Labor rule.

Departing Labor premier Jay Weatherill conceded it was always going to be difficult for Labor to win a fifth straight election.

However, Labor still held on to a rump of seats and it wasn't the usual landslide associated with the end of a long-term government.

In the inner-Melbourne seat of Batman, Labor unexpectedly held off another attempt by the Greens in the by-election caused by sitting MP David Feeney being forced to step down over his citizenship.

Labor candidate and former ACTU president Ged Kearney actually managed a swing towards her party.

In both cases, it could be seen as another vote of confidence for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten after being attacked on all sides for announcing a risky policy that will end cash handouts on non-taxpaying shareholders just days out from the elections.

It puts Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on course for an inevitable 30 consecutive Newspolls showing the coalition behind Labor - one benchmark he set on rolling Tony Abbott for the leadership.

This weekend's results may also be a sign that the minor parties are losing their appeal having made a big impression on the 2016 federal election.

It was the sixth attempt by Greens candidate Alex Bhathal to try an secure Batman.

Such a disappointing outcome from what was seen as an "unloseable" election came hot-on-the-heels of the party's poor showing in the Tasmanian election earlier this month, the strong-hold of the Green vote.

Friction within the party - such as between Lee Rhiannon on the extreme left and traditional Green voters of the Bob Brown ilk - may put pressure on Richard Di Natale's leadership.

But it's not just the Greens.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation also flopped in both the Western Australian and Queensland state elections last year, and again in SA, having promised so much after scoring four Senate seats in the 2016 federal poll.

And SA Best, aka the Nick Xenophon Team, having nothing to shout about either.

Could it be that rather than holding the big parties to account, voters realise that other than griping from the sidelines, the minor parties will never actually govern and would rather put their cross against someone who perhaps will?

The next test will be the Victorian state election in November, unless there are further federal by-elections from the dual-citizenship fiasco or in the unlikelihood Turnbull bites the bullet and goes for an early election.


Batman by-election: Bickering Greens blew it

The Batman result is a disaster for the Greens and a significant campaigning achievement for Labor.

The extent to which the Greens blew it is in Richard Di Natale’s brief statement on the party’s Batman debacle.

Di Natale _ who hid from most of the media yesterday _ lamented that ``we have to get our own house in order if we’re going to win back traditional Greens voters who were turned off by the leaking and sabotage from a few individuals with a destructive agenda’’.

On the back of that disunity, Labor’s Ged Kearney mustered a 6.5 per cent swing and a two-party preferred vote of 52 - 47 against the Greens’ Alex Bhathal.

Bhathal, after umpteen attempts at the seat, is officially a dud candidate.

With Bhathal at the helm, the Greens had a horror campaign with internal bickering detracting from their core message.

The Greens have wasted an epic opportunity to cement themselves in Melbourne’s inner north and it will only get harder when the Liberals run a candidate at the next general election.

Labor started the campaign trailing the Greens by as much as six percentage points, spooking Bill Shorten and others.

But Labor strategists said even the southern end of Batman — a Greens stronghold — had failed to deliver sufficiently for the minor party in the numbers needed to oust the ALP.

There was talk last night that Labor’s Ged Kearney was the antidote to the negatives that swirled around former MP David Feeney, who quit over the citizenship crisis. It certainly looks like her campaigning worked.

But it wasn’t until the last week of the by-election campaign that the Labor vote pulled back. Shorten will be elated.

The result will keep Anthony Albanese at bay and refocus the attention on the cost of living, which was at the heart of the ALP win.

Labor’s Ged Kearney mustered a 6.5 pr cent swing and a two-party preferred vote of 52 - 47 the the Greens’ Alex Bhathal.



Four current reports below

Graduates slam ‘meaningless’ degrees, dismal career prospects and crippling debt

Data released by the Good Universities Guide late last year revealed about 30 per cent of undergraduates left university without any job prospects and struggled to break into the competitive job market.

While Charles Sturt University had the best employment outcomes followed by Charles Darwin University and Notre Dame, Australia’s worst-performing institutions were Southern Cross University followed by Curtin and La Trobe.

Research from the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University also revealed that between 2008 and 2014, the percentage of recent graduates in full-time employment dropped from 56.4 per cent to 41.7 per cent, with the 2017 Graduate Outcomes Survey finding the courses with the lowest full-time employment rate immediately upon graduation were creative arts and science and mathematics.

However, Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said an improving labour market had led to a “steady improvement in graduate job rates”.

“The data shows that graduates, like everyone entering the labour market, need time to establish their careers,” Ms Jackson said.

“But this immediate outlook can shift quickly — within three years of finishing their studies, nine in 10 graduates are employed full-time.

“Employment rates after four months differ by field, but after three years, graduates with generalist degrees have largely closed the gap.”

Nevertheless, Queensland mum of three Susan Jane still hasn’t found work more than six years after graduating.

In 2009, she hired a manager for her natural therapies business, rented out her home and moved from Gympie to the Gold Coast to pursue her dream of studying at Griffith University.

As a 48-year-old mature-age student, Ms Jane enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in Public Health, majoring in Health Promotion.

At the time, Ms Jane and her fellow students were told there was an abundance of jobs in the industry.

But by the time Ms Jane graduated at 50 in 2011, a change in government had already ended the Health Promotion career boom, with the private sector quickly snapping up experienced workers from the public sector who suddenly found their positions redundant.

It meant recent graduates were forced to either relocate to other states, or abandon their careers altogether.

Ms Jane said she had given up looking for a job she was qualified for two years after graduating in the top five per cent of her cohort.

She has never worked in the field, and is saddled with a $25,000 HECS debt she has little hope of paying off.

“I absolutely loved uni; I worked three jobs doing it, and I went in with the right attitude because I wanted to get ahead,” Ms Jane said.

“They told us there were heaps of jobs available and because it was a new area, they were screaming out for people.

“I did three years of full-time study, but by the time I finished, there was absolutely nothing there at all.”

Ms Jane said out of her university peers, she only knew of three people who had found jobs in health promotion — although all three had moved across the country to Victoria.

She stressed that her studies had been a positive experience that had given her a lot of confidence, and that she did not blame the university for her career outcomes.

But she said given the rapidly changing nature of work, it made more sense for universities to provide broader qualifications in areas such as “leadership” or other areas that would be useful in a range of careers, instead of providing rigid degrees for specific careers.

Since graduating, Ms Jane has published a book and now organises personal development and goal setting workshops in schools and in the community.

She said she had used the skills she learned while studying as much as possible — but admitted her struggle to find a job had been “challenging”.

“I wasn’t expecting to add more financial stress — getting a degree was supposed to ease that,” she said.


Nightmare of the 'ed tech' jungle

Regarding the recent backlash against the common sense suggestion by the Australian Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, that schools should ban mobile phones:

We were told by academics this would ‘take us back in time’, ‘there are so many new ways that mobile devices can add to the classroom’ and ‘we can’t let fear control everything we do’!

Yes, pity those poor students who lived before the 2000s and didn’t have access to the vital educational resource of smartphones. How did students ever learn before education apps were invented?

A Melbourne school recently banned student mobile phones, and the principal said the effects during recess and lunch were startling: ‘I hadn’t anticipated the level of noise. There was laughter, people were actually interacting and socialising.’ What a crazy idea. More radical than the Communist Manifesto of 1848. But that school is not alone in scepticism about the benefits of technology in classrooms. The prestigious Sydney Grammar School in 2016 banned laptops in class, and required students to handwrite assignments and essays until Year 10.

Cases like these provide some perspective on the fashionable trend of schools using education technology, or ‘Ed Tech’ as hip people call it.

According to the latest international education datasets, Australian schools use classroom technology far more than most other countries

But there is very little evidence to indicate more computers in classrooms actually improve student results. Recent studies have come to conflicting conclusions, but there is no clear link between school technology usage and student performance. While the novelty of the latest technology may get people excited, that doesn’t mean it helps students learn.

Furthermore, ‘21st century learning’ isn’t cheap. Investments in technology — like laptops and tablets for every student — can become obsolete quickly, require a great deal of maintenance, and are expensive.

Just look at the Rudd-Gillard governments’ ‘Digital Education Revolution’ program, with an original cost of $1.2 billion which blew out to over $2 billion. Remember the incredible transformation of schools and all the amazing improvements in student results? Neither do I.

Interestingly, some studies suggest education technology in fact has a negative impact on student achievement.

And recent research has found students using laptops in class has a damaging effect on other students who aren’t using laptops because they increase distractions (this concept has been called ‘the new second-hand smoke’).

It’s not hard to understand why. Try sitting at the back of any lecture theatre in a university these days. Most students have their laptops open — so they can ‘better follow the lecture slides’ and ‘take digital notes’ — but all you will observe is a sea of scrolling Instagram feeds, not to mention multiple people with earphones plugged in and surreptitiously catching up on the latest Walking Dead episode. Generally the poor lecturer at the front is completely oblivious and carries on about his fascinating area of expertise, satisfied because at least all the students are quiet.

A similar phenomenon occurs in many school classrooms. Some teachers are happy their students have laptops because it helps keep them serene during lessons; and of course students aren’t wasting time since the school’s IT system blocks social media sites (and obviously, the kids will never figure out how to get around it, right?).

Most fellow young people I talk to agree laptops are a source of distraction that hinders rather than helps learning. It’s mainly only cool older education academics with a piercing in their ear (or other places) who still go on about the supposed monumental benefits of 21st century learning.

Of course, education technology is not useless. In the right circumstances, and in moderation, it can be beneficial to student learning. But the focus should be on using it better rather than using it more. Technology addiction is already a problem, and ‘Ed Tech’ (with its limited benefits) could create even more young people who are hopelessly attached to technology, at the expense of deep subject knowledge.

The best way to help students be prepared for the 21st century is to ensure they leave school good readers, fluent writers, competent in maths, and with a sound and well-rounded knowledge of the core disciplines. These are the fundamental skills people will always need to be successful. In contrast, learning with, and about, new technologies can quickly become outdated, due to the rapid pace of technological change. A wise senior teacher once revealed to me the greatest irony of education: ‘If you teach kids the latest thing, then that will be the first thing you’ve taught them which becomes out of date.’


Private sector innovation in education

The federal government is implementing Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, but the real innovation is that the National STEM Education Strategy is prioritising industry collaboration and pathways to employment rather than ‘fads’ such as iPads and mindfulness.

Following the success of the US education program Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) — which partners high schools with industry to develop STEM skills — the federal government has provided $5.1 million in funding to pilot the program here, with 14 Australian sites to be operating by mid-2018.

The P-TECH program has students undertake hands-on workplace learning and receive classroom instruction focused on the STEM skills employers need.

Despite the programs benefits, taxpayer support for P-TECH must be removed. It is inappropriate to use taxpayer funds to provide industry participants the opportunity to future-proof their workforce at the expense of their competitors.

P-TECH has already had early successes. The Skilling Australia Foundation reports that while government funding for the Geelong pilot expired in June 2017, the program continues to operate with financial support from local industry and community groups.

As the excitement about STEM continues, it is easy to miss what is truly important about P-TECH: industry collaboration. Workplace learning has been a central component of vocational — and to a certain extent, university — qualifications, but has been ignored at school level.

The workplace learning component of P-TECH should be extended. Students would benefit from the opportunity to undertake workplace learning in sectors that have not traditionally participated in work-based learning at school level, such as logistics.

On-the-job training teaches students the relevance of their education to the employment landscape and prepares them for the workforce.

Further, the implementation of hands-on learning in communities with high youth unemployment would strengthen local economies and teach at-risk students the benefits of work.

As industry develops new pathways to employment, it has never been more important that Australia avoid the latest education ‘fads’ and deliver tangible outcomes for students by expanding workplace learning.


Prominent lawyer to investigate sacking of an elite high school deputy principal for the cutting of a student’s hair

Ray Finkelstein QC, will be investigating the sacking of a long-standing deputy principal at Trinity Grammar. A letter was sent to the school community on Friday afternoon, informing them investigation proceedings will begin immediately.

Mr Brown, known as Brownie, was dismissed from his position at prestigious private boy's school Trinity Grammar in Melbourne's east last week.

A group of 50 former captains and vice captains have penned a heartfelt letter calling for the reinstatement of a long-standing teacher.

The letter accompanies a student protest on Tuesday in which students donned brown armbands and smart casual attire in support of their fired deputy principal.

He was sacked after video surfaced of him trimming a student's hair with scissors before school photo day at the beginning of term.

The decision to let Mr Brown go outraged parents and students, who have started an online petition and wore brown armbands on Tuesday in protest.

The letter was sent to the principal and the school council chair on Monday, and raises concerns held for the direction of the school.

'We are writing to express our profound disappointment at the School Council's decision to dismiss Rohan Brown after an exemplary 30 year career,' they wrote.

'Many of us are former students of Rohan's and have directly witnessed his exceptional personal qualities.

'His defining characteristics define the school's traditional core values: he is courteous, fair and humble, wholly dedicated to the wellbeing of the school's students. 'He can be firm, but he is not a bully. He wants boys to be their best.'

The letter went on to question the school's aims, and noted a change towards a performance-based school.

'In recent years, the school's executive leadership has made clear its intention to change the school's vision and direction.

'This has seen a dramatic shift from Trinity's position as a non-selective, not-elite school dedicated to holistic personal development, to an institution focused on "exceptional" performance defined by ATAR excellence, growth and profit.'

Students taking part in the brown armband protest insisted they did not want to disrupt class, but felt the need to make a 'unified statement of solidarity'.

'He is a pretty integral part of this school. We all really love him, he is such a big presence at the school and he will be sorely missed,' a student told the Today show.

'He was only upholding the school rules and the school values, which he loves and cares about so much,' said another.

'A lot of the boys are planning to have a protest at the school and everyone is wearing brown arm bands for Mr Brown and we all think that the punishment clearly does not fit the crime,' said a third student.

The armband protest comes after hundreds of angry parents and former students challenged the decision at a special meeting on Friday 9 March.

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 people have signed an online petition urging the school to 'Bring Brownie Back.'

Trinity Grammar will now appoint an independent expert to review its procedures, ABC News reports.

On Monday, the school's headmaster Dr Michael Davies issued a statement saying students, staff and other stakeholders will be consulted about the review

He added the school 'takes seriously its duty of care to students, staff and the wider community.'

Dr Davies said: 'We have reached out regularly to the boy involved in the February incident, over the past few days. 'We have also been in touch with Rohan Brown over the weekend.'


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

18 March, 2018

Must not mention child abuse in Aboriginal families

The usual unbalanced response to the issue is coming from the Leftist Aboriginal industry.  The official policy is to leave abused black children with their families and if that does not work the kid is left with other black families, usually relatives. Where all that has been tried the kid may in rare cases be fostered by a white family. 

Adoption is usually considered only as a last resort.  Of the four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children adopted between 2016 and 2017, three went to white families, according to government figures.

The protesters act as if the latest call is to place ALL abused black kids with whites, which is not being proposed at all. The proposal is for the most endangered kids to be placed with white families.  There have been deaths among children whom the authorities have simply shuffled around among black families.

A protester below says: "Aboriginal children are being taken away at exponential rates and these rates have grown every year"  --  as if that exonerates the existing procedures.  Surely it in fact shows that the problem is getting worse and in need of fresh thinking

The real driver behind the protests is of course the strange leftist belief that "All men are equal". Mentioning that child abuse if rife among blacks defies that foolish gospel

[TV program] Sunrise has sparked intense backlash after a commentator suggested Indigenous children should be taken from their families

The comments were made on Tuesday morning as part of the breakast show's 'Hot Topics' segment. Samantha Armytage kicked off the discussion by bringing viewers up to speed on assistant minister for children David Gillespie calling for non-Indigenous families to adopt at-risk Aboriginal children.

"It's a no-brainer", Sunrise commentator Prue MacSween supports federal minister David Gillespie's proposal for white families to adopt at-risk Aboriginal children.

"Post-Stolen Generations there's been a huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they're being neglected in their own families," she said.

The Sunrise co-host then asked controversial commentator Prue MacSween and Brisbane radio host Ben Davis what they thought. MacSween made headlines last year after she said she was "tempted to run over" former ABC host Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

McSween claimed there was a "fabricated PC outlook" among some people who believed it was better to leave Aboriginal children in abusive homes than have them adopted by white families.

"It's just crazy to just even contemplate that people are arguing against this," she said. "Don't worry about the people that would cry and handwring and say this would be another Stolen Generation. Just like the first Stolen Generation where a lot of people were taken because it was for their wellbeing... we need to do it again, perhaps."

The comments have been slammed as false and misleading by prominent members of the Indigenous community.

South Sea Islander and Darumbal journalist Amy McQuire said the two minute segment was "packed [with] so many mistruths". "The idea that Aboriginal children are not being placed in white families is a lie," she wrote. "The greater lie is that Aboriginal children are not being taken away and are being kept in dangerous situations for fear of a 'stolen generation'.

"That does not gel with the statistics: Aboriginal children are being taken away at exponential rates and these rates have grown every year since Kevin Rudd gave his apology to the Stolen Generations and promised it would never happen again."

Black Comedy's Nakkiah Lui, meanwhile, has accused Sunrise of "bottom-feeding off people's pain". "If you're talking about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, communities and culture, maybe speak to Aboriginal children, families and adults that have been affected," she wrote. "Not white people who have zero knowledge."


Bill Shorten’s ‘left behinds’ actually got ahead

Low-income households have ­enjoyed the biggest improvement in standard of living since the ­financial crisis, challenging Bill Shorten’s claim that inequality is rising and large parts of society are being “left behind”.

The bottom fifth of households ranked by income have had an 11 per cent rise in their living standards since 2007, more than twice as fast as those in the top income group, according to analysis ­undertaken at the Australian ­National University Centre for Social Research and Methods.

A comprehensive analysis of more than 20 different household types found those with incomes made up mainly of social security benefits have enjoyed an 18 per cent jump in living standards since 2007, wage earners enjoyed a 5 per cent jump and those with mainly business income recorded an almost 8 per cent fall.

The analysis, produced by ­researcher Ben Phillips, also shows that even the 20 per cent of households on the lowest ­incomes received on average $110 a year in franking credits in 2016, highlighting the political difficulty Labor faces as it seeks to end cash refunds for franking credits for all taxpayers. “Some low-income households do receive them but they are quite small in the scheme of things, with almost 80 per cent by value going to the top share of households with large portfolios,” Mr Phillips said.

The figures come amid an ­escalating battle between the ­government and opposition about the impact of Labor’s new policy, which the government says will hurt more than a million shareholders, mainly low-income retirees, and have far-ranging unintended consequences.

In a bid to tackle what he described as “the growing inequality in this country, the growing wedge of disparity”, Mr Shorten announced plans to scrap cash ­refunds for tax credits on franked share dividends for those paying no income tax, saying it would save $59 billion over 10 years.

The value of the tax increases combined would provide Labor with a war chest to cut personal income tax for workers, most of whom have experienced zero real wage growth since 2012.

The ANU analysis found that 9 per cent of households in the bottom income quintile received franking credits. The average payment received by that 9 per cent was $1250, with a median payment of $231. Among top-earning households, 38 per cent received credits. Among that group of households, the average payment was $13,300 and the median payment was $870 in 2016.

Mr Phillips said all types of households had “overwhelmingly” enjoyed large increases in their living standards over recent decades, while high-income households had seen “virtually no real growth in living standards since the GFC”.

His new research is based on a series of biennial income and ­expenditure surveys conducted by the ABS of up to 30,000 people.

Labor has announced a controversial swag of tax increases on trusts, high-income earners, multinationals and property investors in recent months. “In 2018, my side of politics is going to lay out our ­vision for that Australia — fairer, stronger, more inclusive — where no one gets left behind,” Mr Shorten said in January, echoing language used by British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Phillips’ analysis provides a clearer picture of changes in living standards for different groups by comparing disposable income (after tax) with the cost of living. The lowest earners, who tend to spend more of their incomes on essential services, had experienced the biggest cost-of-living increase — 25 per cent since 2007 — but incomes, propped up by a hefty increase in the age pension in 2009, had more than kept pace.

Single, middle-income households aged 50 to 64, in Queensland and South Australia, appeared to have done the worst over the past decade. Single parents with a mortgage, living in ACT or NSW, appear to have done the best, relatively, the analysis suggested. “Middle and higher-income single parents did particularly well over the long term with a strong increase in workforce participation, helped along by changing ­cultural attitudes and increases in family payments as part of the Hawke government poverty-­alleviation measures,” Mr Phillips said.

When grouped according to age, households over 65 enjoyed the most rapid growth in living standards, up 16.5 per cent or almost three times that of those under 35 over the past decade.

“The main driver here has been a more generous taxation system for older Australians and large pension increase in 2009 under the Harmer review,” he said.

The new analysis reveals how previously booming resource states were now struggling. Western Australia was the only state or ­territory where households went backwards since 2007 while Queenslanders’ living ­standards rose 1.2 per cent — masking sharp surges and retractions in income. By contrast, real incomes in the ACT and the NT, which have relatively large government sectors, rose 14 per cent and 11 per cent, more than any others.

Against a backdrop of sluggish wage growth and high house prices, Mr Phillips showed living standards for all Australians had still risen substantially since the last recession in the early 1990s.

“A key point is that overall living standards, which are defined as income growth adjusting for cost of living, have increased dramatically since 1988, rising around 68 per cent, ” he said.

He noted they had risen more slowly in the past decade.

“Lower-income single parents have not fared so well over the past decade following cuts to welfare payments by the Howard government in 2005 and Gillard government in 2013,” he said.


Marginals pain for Labor as tax grab hits thousands of voters in key electorates

Bill Shorten has risked igniting a backlash in key election battlegrounds, with official data revealing that almost 90,000 voters across 13 of the most marginal seats in the country would lose an average $2000 a year in refundable tax credits under his policy.

As the Labor leader yesterday defended the $59 billion tax grab amid pressure from pensioner and retiree lobby groups, Treasury analysis of tax ­office data reveals seven marginal Labor seats could be vulnerable at an election.

Those seats have an average of ­almost 6000 voters who would lose thousands of dollars of income a year under the Labor plan.

In the country’s most marginal seat of Herbert in north Queensland, which Labor won at the 2016 election by only 37 votes, there are 4700 people who on average ­receive $1994 a year in refunds on tax credits from share dividends.

The ATO data suggests that the issue could also be a deciding ­factor in tomorrow’s by-election in the suburban Melbourne seat of Batman, which Labor is at risk of losing to the Greens, with 5284 voters receiving an average of $1471 a year in refunds. The same scenario could play out in the Queensland seat of Longman if Labor were forced to a by-election over questions about ALP MP Susan Lamb’s citizenship, with 5491 people collecting $1563 annually. Labor won the seat by just 1390 votes.

Treasurer Scott Morrison told The Australian: “Labor were hoping they would get away with it and try and slide this past hundreds and thousands of pensioners who depend on their tax refund to pay everything from their power bill to their grocery bill.

“Either Bill Shorten didn’t know, or he didn’t care. But either way he is going to pocket the tax refunds of pensioners and ­retirees.”

Mr Shorten and his Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen yesterday briefed opposition MPs about the details of the policy shake-up in a 30-minute phone hook-up of the Labor caucus after MPs were inundated with feedback from concerned constituents. The Australian understands that no one spoke out against the shake-up, but some were drawing up case studies to help explain the impact of the policy. “They went through the policy and we all had a chat,” a Labor MP said. “We have to ­explain it to the community and what the benefits are ... there were a number of people who were asking questions.”

Mr Shorten, speaking in Melbourne with the Labor candidate for Batman, former ACTU president Ged Kearney, branded government attacks on Labor’s plan a “ hysterical scare campaign”. But Ms Kearney was forced to back away from earlier comments that the plan could be reviewed, instead attempting to talk down the tax grab’s impact.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale moved to exploit Labor’s confusion ahead of the Batman by-election, saying the proposals “look like they could have a range of very serious unintended consequences”.

“It’s very clear here that we have a situation with Bill Shorten who is quite rightly raising the issue of inequality,” Senator Di Natale said.

“The Greens are very concerned that these changes could hit struggling pensioners — pensioners with low income, low assets — and make their lives harder.

“The Greens will do everything that we can using our power in the Senate and our numbers in the House to ensure that we scrutinise every aspect of Labor’s policy.”

In Batman, the ATO data shows it is home to 1052 pensioners receiving tax refunds.

Mr Morrison took aim at Mr Shorten after the Opposition Leader denied that he would seek to provide additional compensation to low-income pensioners who lose their refunds, following a report in The Australian revealing it was being considered.

“We’ve seen the circus of yesterday. They (Labor) are saying, ‘we’ll be compensating pensioners’. And today they say they won’t be compensating pensioners. They have no clue,” Mr Morrison said.

Tony Shepherd, who headed the Abbott government’s National Commission of Audit and is a ­former president of the Business Council of Australia, also spoke out against the dangers of making one-off ­alternations to the tax and superannuation systems. “There is considerable room in Australia for taxation reform but that must be done on a comprehensive basis with a thorough examination of the consequences,” Mr Shepherd told The Australian.

The ATO data shows about 84,000 NSW pensioners stand to lose money. Nearly 8000 of them are in the marginal seats of ­Gilmore, Robertson and Page, and 40,000 live in ALP seats.

More than 20,000 pensioners living in Labor seats in Victoria and almost 10,000 in Labor-held seats in Queensland would also lose out, according to the data.

The data shows that six Liberal and LNP-held marginal seats, which the government would ­likely lose in an election based on current polling, had similar numbers to the Labor marginal seats of pensioners and retirees who would be affected.

In the Queensland seat of Forde, which the LNP won by 1062 votes, there are 4074 voters receiving an average refund of $1604 while, in the central Queensland LNP seat of Capricornia that the Nationals’ Michelle Landry won by 1111 votes, there are 6209 voters ­receiving an average refund of $2079.

Mr Morrison will today visit the NSW south coast seat of Gilmore — won by Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis by 1503 votes — where there are 10,903 voters who receive an average refund of $1397.

The other marginal Liberal seats most affected by the policy include the central Queensland seat of Flynn — where there are 5939 voters receiving an average refund of $2461 — and the NSW central coast seat of Robertson where there are 9331 voters ­receiving an average refund of $1799.

The second-most marginal seat in the country — the Labor-held ­Adelaide electorate of Hindmarsh — has 8850 voters who receive an average refund of $2140.

Labor has warned that the value of the refunds at $6bn a year is unsustainable and will claw back $59bn in revenue over the decade by scrapping the measure initially introduced by the Howard government in 2001.


Australia bans bolt action rifle because of its scary 'appearance'

Gun owners often argue that “assault weapon” is just a term made up by politicians to ban guns that look “scary.”

The designation is made up, they say, to confuse consumers into thinking that machine guns are available off the shelf at local sporting goods stores. The so-called assault weapon, they say, is simply a semi-automatic rifle with certain cosmetic features.

Australia's government is giving ammunition to this argument by beginning to confiscate rifles simply because they look scary. The Australian Border Force ordered its citizens to turn in a bolt action rifle, 7 News Brisbane reports, “due to the firearm being substantially the same in appearance as a fully automatic firearm.” In other words, the guns are now illegal because they look like so called assault weapons.

This is, of course, ridiculous.

The rifle in question is a Riverman Operator Assisted Firearm. It cannot fire fully automatic. It cannot even fire semi-automatic. It is a bolt action rifle, meaning that a shooter has to manually chamber a cartridge before taking each shot. Aside from its pistol grip, tactical stock, and scope, it has more in common with Lee Enfield rifles of the Second World War than M16s or AK-47s of today’s conflicts.

But because looks can be deceiving, the gun has become illegal.


"Ping Pong" is racist?

A new Asian-themed gastropub called Hotel Longtime has sparked outrage on social media, with critics calling its name and theme racist.

The owners, married couple Alex Fahey and Tin Chu, have denied the Adelaide pub is racist, and said their Ping Pong Club Room has nothing to do with sex shows.

Critics slammed the pub's name, which they say references a scene from the movie Full Metal Jacket in which a Vietnamese prostitute says 'Me love you long time'.

They claimed the Ping Pong Club Room was prostitution-themed, referring to 'Asian strippers performing demeaning acts', as was a 'brothel madame' poster.

Vietnamese-born co-owner Ms Chu said their critics made associations that were never imagined when Hotel Longtime was designed, The Advertiser reported.

'It is worth remembering that I am a director of this licensee company and I am a proud Asian woman who has worked hard to build my business,' she said.

'There is nothing in our name which is in any way intended to insult or offend women. If anyone has felt that, then we humbly apologise.'

Mr Fahey denied the Ping Pong Club Room was a deliberate reference to sex shows involving ping pong balls, and said the name means 'stay for a long time'.

'It's meant to be like a clubroom, like a football clubroom, where you go and have a drink after playing ping pong. It's nothing to do with the Thailand ping pong shows,' he said.

Alice Whittington - who started a petition on demanding the pair change the name of the pub - said the theme perpetuated negative Asian stereotypes.

'All I wish for on behalf of Asian people and in particular women, is a change of venue name, as well as the acknowledgement that this name and concept blatantly reaffirms the stereotype.

'I too am a proud, half-Asian woman born and bred in Adelaide. Here and around the world, I have been subject to horrific slurs and racial and sexual harassment directly related to the quotes that are associated with the film Full Metal Jacket.'


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, 2018

Shorten scambles to reverse great tax blooper: To give back with the left hand what he takes with the right hand

Which leaves him with no budget "saving" after all.  He should just admit that he got it wrong and do a complete 180.  But Leftist hate to admit it when they are wrong, which they often are.  Where were his political instincts when he decided to hit 600,000 poor people?  It shows that the Labor Party is no longer the party of the worker

Bill Shorten is considering a supplement payment package for up to 250,000 pensioners to make up for annual cash refunds they stand to lose, as the Opposition Leader comes under mounting pressure over Labor’s plan to scrap $59 billion in refundable tax credits on share dividends.

As Labor faces pushback from seniors and self-managed super fund lobby groups, The Australian understands that a financial sweetener will be considered for the 10 per cent of pensioners on the lowest annual incomes who may lose their modest imputation credit refunds.

This would likely come in the form of a payment supplement in addition to Labor’s promise to ­restore the energy supplement linked to the carbon tax, which the Turnbull government scrapped for new welfare and pension recipients.

“We will make sure that pensioners are OK, full stop,” Mr Shorten said yesterday after hinting that Labor’s budget strategy would ensure pensioners were not left out of pocket.

Association and the Association of Independent Retirees yesterday urged their members to write to Labor MPs and warned of a ­national campaign against Mr Shorten’s tax grab.

The Opposition Leader yesterday acknowledged his policy would affect about 250,000 pensioners, amid new warnings the changes would force more people onto the Age Pension and possibly undermine the expected revenue gain of $59bn over a decade.

Mr Shorten’s claim that part pensions would rise to compensate low-income earners for the loss of their rebates was also ­attacked by National Seniors Australia. It declared the comment “incorrect” and argued it showed a fundamental misunderstanding of “how income is calculated for pensioners”.

National Seniors Australia chief executive Ian Henschke said he wanted Labor to “reconsider the full effect of this policy” and provided research showing that some part-pensioners would be more than $900 worse off once their rebates were removed.

Analysis provided exclusively to The Australian shows that a single person who qualifies for the part pension under the assets test may be substantially worse off under the Labor plan.

In one case study, an individual with $451,000 in assets — including $1000 cash from a refundable dividend tax credit — would receive a $3 increase in their fortnightly pension payment (from $302.65 to $305.65) once the refund was scrapped. While this would lift the part-pension payment by $78 a year, it would still leave the individual $922 worse off overall.

Centrelink makes an assumption about the income that investments will generate. In another case study, the analysis suggests that a single person who qualifies for a part pension under the income test is assumed to receive a return of 1.75 per cent on their first $50,200 of savings and 3.25 per cent on anything over that.

Changes in the person’s actual income are irrelevant to this calculation, so the abolition of cash imputation refunds would make no difference to the pension, ­although it would directly affect the pensioner’s total income.

National Seniors Australia’s senior officer Basil La Brooy said: “There doesn’t seem to be an understanding of how income is calculated for pensioners. And this is a policy that’s been in place for many years.”

Malcolm Turnbull yesterday accused Mr Shorten of launching a targeted attack on lower and middle-income earners in a “Labor cash grab” he said would hit more than 3.5 million superannuation accounts and affect more than one million people, including more than 200,000 pensioners.

“He’s seeking to take money from pensioners and self-funded retirees, money they’re entitled to,” Mr Turnbull said. “Think about that — 50 per cent of the individuals that will be hurt by this tax grab are on incomes of less than $18,000. These are pensioners and self-funded retirees.

“This is not a tax loophole or anything like this. This is a case where companies have paid tax, they’ve paid tax. They pay a dividend with a franking credit and if somebody doesn’t have other tax liabilities to offset that, they’re entitled to get the difference in cash. That is completely fair. It’s been the case for nearly 20 years.”

Writing to The Australian yesterday, former Treasury secretary John Stone backed Mr Turnbull’s criticism.

Mr Stone said Paul Keating had not gone far enough after introducing dividend imputation relief in 1987 to correct the “injustice” of double taxation whereby “dividend recipients had no or ­insufficient other taxable income against which to offset their ­credits”.

Mr Stone said this was “finally rectified” by Coalition treasurer Peter Costello in 2001, after the budget had been taken back into surplus. He warned that Mr Shorten’s policy on franking credits would “restore that injustice”.

The Association of Independent Retirees warned the Labor policy could “push more retirees onto the Aged Pension much earlier than would currently be the case” and “negate the short-term revenue gains anticipated”.

“You need to engage with your federal member of parliament and bring to their attention the concerns described above that AIR has with Labor’s announced policy on dividend imputation credits,” it said in a letter to its members.

The Self-Managed Super Fund Association produced figures showing that a single homeowner with $580,000 in superannuation (who had saved enough to forgo the Age Pension) could lose $5357 in franking credits — a reduction in yearly income from $28,357 to $23,000, or a cut of 18.8 per cent.

SMSF Association head of policy Jordan George said the drop to $23,000 in income was only $112 above the full Age Pension and Age Pension supplement of $22,888 which can be accessed by a homeowning single person with assets of less than $253,750.

“Self-funded retirees who have assets just above the Age Pension assets test thresholds may be worse off under the Labor proposal than those with less assets but receiving the Age Pension,” Mr George said. “This is a perverse outcome.”


Batman Labor voters vent fury over Shorten tax grab

Lifelong Labor voters living in Batman have called Bill Shorten’s radical tax plan the “final straw” ending their support for the ALP as the party road-tests new superannuation changes days ahead of a critical by-election.

Pensioners and low-income retirees living in the north Melbourne electorate say the latest ALP plan to abolish cash rebates for tax credits on shares held by retirees, investors and ordinary taxpayers will hurt those who can ill afford it. “Apparently it won’t affect me that much because I only hold shares through my super fund, but it’s possible those returns will go down and that hurts,” retired marine engineer Jim Robertson told The Australian yesterday. The 78-year-old, on a full pension supplemented by a small amount of super in an ­industry fund, has voted Labor in every state and federal election bar one since emigrating from Scotland more than 50 years ago.

Come polling day on Saturday, he will vote for either the Australian Conservatives or the Australian Liberty Party, saying the tax plan Mr Shorten unveiled in an address to the left-wing Chifley Institute this week was more evidence of Labor ditching traditional values.

“It wasn’t looking good before, but now I’m even less inclined to vote for Labor,” he said. “It’s like Labor has lost its roots and needs to get back to what it used to stand for: the working man. I don’t think the party of old would have gone about (tax reform) like this.”

Analysis of the new tax plan conducted by Treasury revealed that more than 610,000 Australians on the lowest annual incomes stand to lose an average of $1200 a year in tax refunds under the proposal to abolish cash rebates for tax credits.

Analysis of official tax data also showed the largest group of people to be hit by the $59 billion tax grab will be those receiving annual incomes of less than $18,200, the majority of whom receive the Age Pension.

Within the Batman electorate, voters over 65 make up almost 19 per cent of the voting population. In the last federal election, Labor would have lost the seat if it had sustained a net loss of just 927 voters on the two-party-preferred vote.

The by-election is a close contest between former ACTU president Ged Kearney for Labor and Greens candidate Alex Bhathal, who is making her sixth attempt on the seat.

Northcote-based financial planner Anthony Galle fielded calls from clients concerned about the changes. “I had one client who called it ‘political suicide’ because so many people — not just in the electorate, but around the country — are going to be affected,” he said.

Another Northcote-based planner, Jeff Yacoub, also fielded calls from concerned clients, and said he was personally concerned about how super returns would dip as a result of the policy.

“Sure, the impacts will be more visible to people with an SMSF, but people with money in super funds will also see returns go down. It might be 4.8 per cent last year and then its 4 per cent this year. It’s less obvious, but they’re still getting hit,” he said.

“And it’s a bad political stunt because it’s probably going to be supported by people who don’t understand the implications, because they’re not active or direct investors.”

At Quarries Park in Clifton Hill, self-managed super fund beneficiary Geoff Griffiths fumed at the changes which he said had the potential to drive the price of shares down across the Australian equities market.

The Clifton Hill resident, who owns a house in Batman but isn’t a resident for voting purposes, said he had been a near lifelong Labor voter, but this had turned him off the party for good.

“Now I’ll have to vote for whoever will be strongest against Labor,” he said.

Ms Kearney kept a low profile yesterday. In her absence, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the Greens were wary of unintended consequences for the elderly and pensioners.


Perth's back-to-back cooler summers belie warming trend, say forecasters

While its counterparts in the east sweltered, Perth had one of its mildest summers in 18 years, recording just 10 days over 35 degrees Celsius.

Residents in the WA capital can normally expect about 20 days where the temperature reaches 35C or higher, and three or four days hotter than 40C.

However the hottest day this summer, January 14, was a mere 38C — the lowest maximum since the summer of 2001-02.

Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra all recorded higher summer maximums, with each experiencing days exceeding 40C.

Sydney sweltered through the hottest day of the season, with a top of 43.4C, its highest temperature in 79 years.

The average maximum for Perth this summer was 30.2 degrees, half a degree below the average since recording began at the Mount Lawley weather station 25 years ago.

The long-term average for the city is 29.3 degrees.

It has also been Perth's fourth-wettest summer, after heavy falls from ex-Tropical Cyclone Joyce dumped 96.2mm in the gauge on January 16, bringing the summer total to 147 millimetres.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Glenn Cook said the cooler weather was partly due to the mobility of weather systems to the south.

"We've had high-pressure systems moving fairly steadily to the south and not sitting in the Bight for any length of time," he said.

"Hotter summers will usually have more easterly winds and more static high pressure systems in the Bight, building up heat over the west coast."

Perth's wetter, cooler summer is the second in a row for the city.

2016-17 saw a record wet summer, with 192.8 millimetres of rain over three months, exceeding the previous record of 180.4mm set in 1954-55.

It was also a season of mild daytime and overnight temperatures.

Several sites across the metropolitan area had their lowest daily maximum temperatures ever on February 9, 2017, with temperatures in the 13-18C range.


Australia to get a new German-designed light tank

Much faster than a tracked vehicle

Australia’s top political military figures have announced the largest purchase in the history of the Australian Army which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said was based on “lethality and survivability”.

The Turnbull Government plans to use the new Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV), known as “The Boxer”, to replace the Army’s current crop of substandard products, the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle, or ASLAV for short.

“We’ve put them in the heat, we’ve put them in the cold, we’ve put them in the wet, we’ve put them in the dry, we’ve shot at them, we’ve tried to blow them up,” Defence Minister Marise Payne said.

The move follows the Army being left forced to use substandard products in combat, threatening the lives of Australian soldiers by using older products not suited to modern day warfare, a security expert has told

“This is a large step up in terms of size and capability from the vehicle they are replacing,” Marcus Hellyer, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said.

“You could technically say that defence has undercapitalised its armoured vehicle fleet for decades.

“The Army got to the point where they couldn’t take ASLAVs any more to Afghanistan because they couldn’t withstand the blast of an improvised explosive device (IED).

“The kinds of vehicles that the Army currently has, the ASLAV, and M113, are just not capable of surviving on a modern battlefield, they can’t survive even in lower threat environments such as Afghanistan.

“We had ASLAVs blown up in Afghanistan and soldiers killed to the point where Army chose not to deploy any more. It didn’t even deploy its M113s to Afghanistan at all.

“The M113 is really a vehicle with a 1950s pedigree, and we still have M113s in the Army today that went to Vietnam. They are a much older technology.

“The Boxer will provide protection against those IEDs as well as rocket propelled grenades.”

In January, decorated war hero Ben Roberts-Smith told The Courier-Mail troops under attack would stand a better chance at survival if the Government used the Boxer.

“They are going to have to live and die by their own decisions,” he said at the time.

According to The Courier-Mail, “it is understood Rheinmetall’s Boxer CRV was the far superior vehicle and has a bigger export footprint to South-East Asian countries and the potential to break into the US”.

The vehicle, dubbed “highly lethal”, can survive direct bomb hits while its cannons can fire up to 200 rounds of ammunition in one minute.

It also uses a “pulse” technology which blows up incoming missiles and soldiers have noted its “astounding accuracy”.

Mr Turnbull said the new vehicles ensured “the best protection for our soldiers on the battlefield” and will “undertake a range of missions, from regional stability and peacekeeping through to high-threat operations”.

“This is a decision based on the capability of the vehicle both in terms of lethality and survivability,” he told soldiers during the announcement on Wednesday.

“What we’re doing is ensuring you have the vehicle that will enable you to complete your missions with the best capability, the greatest lethality but also will protect you and ensure that when you have completed your mission you will come home safely.”

Yet Mr Turnbull’s choice of words has sparked concern over the fate of Australia’s future at war.

“Things take a long time and if you decide to start getting these things the day before the war starts, it’s too late,” Mr Hellyer said. “If you want to be ready for a war that starts in 2025 you need to start preparing now.”

What the Prime Minister didn’t mention in today was that the announcement is in fact phase two of a four phase “megaproject” which according to experts will cost three to four times as much as phase two.

The next phase, according to the Department of Defence, is to replace its current crop of M113 vehicles.

“This is actually the small part of the project, despite the $5 billion price tag,” Mr Hellyer said.

According to a statement from the Defence Department, the next phase of the program is to replace the M113, otherwise known as an Infantry Fighting Vehicle, which will have the job of carrying soldiers on the battlefield.

The cost of the next phase is estimated to be close to $20 billion.

Queensland has been picked to build $5 billion worth of the vehicles, which according to the Department of Defence will “support the next generation of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) with the firepower, protection and mobility to defeat increasingly lethal and adaptive adversaries well into the future”.

Ms Payne said it took three years of “rigorous testing” to determine which vehicle would fight best in warfare.

“The outcome of that assessment is that this is the best capability to provide the mobility, the lethality and the protection that will support the men and women of the ADF in doing the job that we ask them to do every day.”

The vehicles will be “manufactured and delivered by Australian workers, using Australian steel,” according to a statement from the Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne.

Mr Turnbull made the announcement this morning, revealing German contractor Rheinmetall will build 211 Land Combat Vehicle Systems at a new facility in Ipswich, southwest of Brisbane.

Major General Gus McLachlan tweeted Australian soldiers were “grateful” for the new multipurpose Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle.

“A tough competition delivered us a great vehicle to start the process of modernising our Armoured Fighting Vehicles. Make them well, Rheinmetall, because they will protect our most precious asset, our soldiers.”

Despite looking like a tank, the Army will use the Boxer in a different, more mobile form during combat.

“It’s going to be out in front of the tanks, scouting out ahead and doing reconnaissance, it’s not meant to get into a battle with the enemy. A vehicle like this is going to lose a fight with a tank very quickly,” Mr Hellyer told

The federal government said the project would “create jobs across Australia, including 330 in Queensland, 170 in Victoria and 140 in New South Wales during acquisition”.

An additional upgrade of facilities in Puckapunyal and Bandiana in Victoria, Adelaide, and Townsville and Enoggera in Queensland, where the vehicles will be used, will commence at a cost of $235 million.

The first CRV’s are not expected to be rolled out until mid 2020.

“In years gone by we would have bought these vehicles from overseas and import them into the country, Mr Pyne said. “54 per cent of the acquisition will be valued to our economy and 70 per cent of whole project.”


Lenient sentence for African menace

Tempers have flared outside court after an unlicensed driver who killed a teenage boy escaped a prison sentence.

Ayou Deng was driving when knocked 13-year-old Jalal Yassine-Naja off his skateboard in Brookfield, west Melbourne in March 2017.

The mother-of-seven wasn't charged for the fatal collision as it was deemed an accident, but on Tuesday she was sentenced to 80 hours of community work for driving without a licence, Nine News reported.

She was also sentenced for unrelated unlawful assault and criminal damage offences.

Deng was heckled by members of the far-right group True Blue Crew as she walked from court.

Group member Kane Miller was heard yelling: 'If her family wasn't on the road the boy would still be alive... child killer'.

Jalal's mother Olivia Yassine said Deng should have been charged over her son's death.

'I want it to be acknowledged that she killed a person - my son - and she ran over him. And she did wrong. You do the crime, you do the time,' she said.

Conservatives MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins was also outside court and she was critical of Victoria's judicial system.

Ms Yassine said she wants the case to be re-examined so charges can be pursued against Deng.

'That's not right. I will fight for my son. It doesn't matter what it takes. I will get answers out of this and I will appeal it,' she 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

15 March, 2018

Statistics show Australia doesn’t need these migrants

AUSTRALIANS are being fed a “myth” about immigration and one expert says he has the damning statistics to prove it.

AUSTRALIA’S immigration program has been slammed by an expert, who says it is not really aimed at addressing skills shortages.

Population expert Bob Birrell, a former Monash University professor and now head of the Australian Population Research Institute, has released new analysis on the skilled migration program that confirms many can’t find jobs.

Mr Birrell points out that supporters of high immigration levels often spruik the role of migrants in delivering scarce skills. But he found the idea that the program was attracting migrants with in-demand skills was “a myth”.

“Only a small proportion of recently-arrived migrant professionals are actually employed in professional positions,” Mr Birrell’s report Australia’s Skilled Migration Program: Scarce Skills Not Required said.

He said the selection system did not prioritise occupations with skill shortages and so many professionals entering Australia were trained in fields that are currently oversupplied.

This includes accounting, engineering and many health professional fields.

Mr Birrell said the Skills Occupations List introduced in 2010 to target professions experiencing a “national shortage”, had gradually been watered down and then scrapped altogether in 2016.

He believes the list was axed because of the pressure to maintain a high immigration program after the mining boom slowdown. Recently, Treasurer Scott Morrison said calls to reduce immigration could cost the Budget $1 billion a year.

“From the Treasury’s point of view, low growth (that is without the population boost) means a slowdown in tax revenues,” the report suggests.

“It will make it even harder for the government to rein in the budget deficit.”

Adding to the pressure was the fall in overseas students due to a tougher university selection system introduced in 2011.

“Around half of all overseas students enrol in business and commerce courses, where most do the required accounting courses needed to attain the credentials to apply as an accountant or auditor for a Skill Stream visa,” the report said.

“Many others do engineering courses. Should such occupations have become ineligible it would have dampened future enrolments.”

So instead of being guided by genuine skills shortages, immigration is now allowed via the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skill List aimed at attracting occupations that could experience a future skill shortage. This does not address current skills needs.

“To the extent that the current program does deliver any scarce skills this is an accidental rather than a planned outcome,” the report says.

Mr Birrell questions the effectiveness of looking to fill future shortages as young Australians could be encouraged to train in these areas instead.

“Australia is awash with graduates from both domestic and migrant sources,” the paper notes.

“Demand for graduates may grow, but so too will supply.”

Governments, educational authorities and innovation advocates are already encouraging young Australians to enter university, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) disciplines, and the recent deregulation of university enrolments will also ensure a growing supply of graduates.

Mr Birrell has analysed census results to identify whether professionals moving to Australia to fill skills shortages are actually getting jobs, and the answer is, in many cases they’re not.

Census 2016 results showed just 24 per cent of educated migrants aged 25 to 34 years old from non-English-speaking countries arriving between 2011 and 2016, were able to find professional level jobs by 2016. Five per cent had found managerial jobs.

This compares with 50 per cent of those from mainly English-speaking countries who managed to get professional jobs and an extra 13 per cent in managerial jobs.

Young people born in Australia had the best prospects, with 58 per cent in professional jobs and 10 per cent in managerial jobs.

But despite the poor job prospects, Mr Birrell said people still wanted to live in Australia.

“The reason is that there is a huge pool of professionals in Asia who would like to move to a country with Australia’s salary levels and quality of life,” the report said.

“There is also an expanding number of Asian graduates from Australian university courses who want to convert their qualification into a permanent entry visa. Many of these professionals are not put off by Australia’s soft labour market in some professions.”

While Mr Birrell noted that there were caps on the number of visas that can be issued to each occupation, he said these numbers were so high they had little impact, except in the case of accountants.

Overall, he said Australia’s skilled program was being driven by migrant demand, not the country’s needs.

“Most recently arrived skilled migrants cannot find professional jobs,” the report said.  “The Skill Stream program is deeply flawed.”


Calls for Aboriginal adoption laws to be relaxed evoke anger

But the angry comments did not actually refer to what was proposed

SUNRISE is facing a backlash after a discussion on taking Aboriginal children out of abusive family environments sparked accusations of “blatant racism” and “bottom feeding”.

The controversial chat on the Channel 7 breakfast show came after children’s minister David Gillespie’s proposal white families should be able to adopt indigenous children to save them from rape, assault and neglect.

Currently, they can only be placed with relatives or other Aboriginal families or with other families as a last resort.

Sunrise host Samantha Armytage said: “Post-Stolen Generation, there’s been a huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they’re being neglected in their own families.”

 Panellist Prue MacSween said removing the kids was a “no-brainer” and that there was a “conspiracy of silence and fabricated PC outlook that it’s better to leave them in this dangerous environment.”

MacSween, who was previously criticised for saying Yassmin Abdel-Magied should be run over, added: “Don’t worry about the people who decry and handwring and say, this will be another Stolen Generation.

“Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again, perhaps.”

Brisbane radio host Ben Davis said Mr Gillespie’s proposal was simply spelling out “what a lot of politicians are afraid to say.”

Davis said doubts over taking this step were “politically correct nonsense” and claimed Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine had called it “madness”.

“We need to be protecting kids, we need to be protecting Aboriginal kids and putting them back into that culture, what culture are they growing up seeing?” asked Davis. “Well, they’re getting abused, they’re getting hurt and they’re getting damaged.”

Armytage wrapped up the segment by saying, “let’s hope some sense prevails there.”

But social media users were disturbed by the discussion, with the chat attracting a stream of comments calling it “paternalistic racist BS”, “vile” and “a new low”.

Some viewers claimed the panellists were advocating “forced assimilation” without looking at other solutions such as better foster care or support from family case workers.

Angelo Angeli tweeted: “Sorry to inform you that the 1st of April is over two weeks away.”

Many viewers asked why there were no indigenous voices on the panel.

James Dean, an Aboriginal ABC Alice Springs reporter, wrote: “I see the horrible conditions some of these kids live in. But the suggestion that ONLY white families should take them, is a terrible inference that suddenly EVERY Aboriginal family is bad.

“Also the reference at the end it the video that Warren Mundine supports the idea, incorrect as well, Mundine does not support white families taking in abused Aboriginal children, he agrees with the consensus that these children need to be removed from these abusive environments.”

A spokesperson for Seven told Fairfax Media: “Editorial opinions, either written or articulated are a vital part of journalism.

“At all times on Sunrise, respect for others and their values and opinions is a foundation principle in debates.

“The issue raised by the page one article in today’s newspapers around the country warranted a discussion in a fair and reasonable forum, as undertaken by social commentators Prue MacSween and Ben Davis.”


Conservatives are everywhere

Another completely dense article from Janet Albrechtsen, this time on Where have all the conservatives gone? Her first half sentence: “It is premature to read the last rites to Australian conservatism”. As if she’d know. Oddly, just the other day this same issue came up in a letter I was writing, in which I wrote in reply to someone else:

    “Conservative” is not a list of policies but a state of mind that values the past and wishes to preserve what we have learned by heart so that it can be passed on to future generations. Border protection is the single most conservative policy of the present day. Lose on that, and everything else disappears. Zero tariffs is not a “conservative” policy in any sense I can think of.

So here is Janet going on about the same thing, but with hardly a sense of what that elusive thing called conservatism is. I will come to the comments in a minute, but first will take you to her last para:

    Just as Ronald Reagan was once described as an optimist in a party that had acquired a habit of pessimism, Australian conservatives need a good dose of optimism before they can man up for a long battle over ideas that still matter today.

Missing entirely in her empty screed is mention of Donald Trump, the most conservative political leader of the past thirty years anywhere in the world, and a living example of what a conservative looks like and does. And then these, from the top down, in comments on her article at The Oz.
Mandy6 hours ago

For a prime ministership cut short by Turnbull, the Labor way, Abbott’s legacy is impressive :

stopping the boats, beginning budget repair (getting regulations & spending down), completing beneficial trade deals with Japan, South Korea and China, scrapping the mining and carbon taxes, agreeing to a second Sydney airport, ending wasteful corporate welfare, reducing the public service by 12,000, and abolishing hundreds of unnecessary government boards and agencies.

And, he has said he’s sorry for reneging on the pledge to repeal 18C. He’s acknowledged the wall of opposition he faced at the time – within the parliament and the lobby groups outside of it.He’s said he’s sorry for reneging, what more do you want?

Cultural leadership, no other contemporary parliamentarian can top this -Abbott’s memorable speech, self-penned, for the 2015 dawn service at Gallipoli.  A snippet, “So much has changed in one hundred years but not the things that really matter.  Duty, selflessness, moral courage: always these remain the mark of a decent human being. They did their duty; now, let us do ours.They gave us an example; now, let us be worthy of it. They were as good as they could be in their time; now, let us be as good as we can be in ours”.

And he’s still providing leadership to this day.From the backbench.Raising the parliamentary bar with contributions via interviews, self penned newspaper articles and speeches such as the Sydney Institute speech on immigration levels (and energy) and his “Daring to Doubt” speech for Global Warming Policy Foundation in London. And the toxic Turnbull and his Team’s reaction to Abbott speaking the truth? They attempt to shoot-the-messenger Abbott, because as Richo has noted, many resent the man they have already knifed, Tony Abbott, because he dares to demonstrate, day after day after day, that the man they chose to replace him as prime minister is a political dud.


Coalition backbenchers urge end to solar subsidies

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg faces a backbench revolt with pressure building to end subsidies for solar panels.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott is demanding action after revelations that the subsidies could cost consumers more than $1 billion this year.

Mr Abbott led a chorus of ­Coalition backbenchers urging the government to end the small-scale renewable energy scheme, with Liberal MP Craig Kelly declaring the policy was more economically damaging than the Rudd government’s home insulation scheme.

“The cost to the economy in dollars is far greater than what the (home insulation) scheme was,” Mr Kelly said.

The scheme was also criticised by Grattan Institute director Tony Wood because it did not reduce subsidies to solar panels as they ­became more affordable.

Mr Abbott cited a report in The Australian that revealed the big increase of solar panels could drive up costs by $100 per household.

“Australians are paying far too much for our emissions obsession. Government must end subsidies for new renewables,” Mr Abbott said yesterday.

Nationals senator John Williams said the policy forced struggling families to subsidise rich people’s solar installations. “Renewable energy is good in that it is renewable and it goes on forever,” Senator Williams said.

“However, the subsidies they cost us is enormous, renewable ­energy should be made to stand on its own two feet. We’ve got all the users of electricity paying for this.’’

Queensland senator Ian MacDonald said the small-scale ­renewable energy scheme pushed up electricity prices but did nothing to reduce climate change. “Nothing we do in Australia will make any difference, we could open up new mines, new power stations it would not make one iota of a difference to what they say is climate change,” he said.

“I think we should be at least making renewable energy compete on a different basis with other forms of energy and that means phasing out subsidies for an ­expensive form of power.”

The small-scale renewable scheme, which is unaffected by the proposed National Energy Guarantee, gives financial incentives for homes and small businesses to install solar panels or hydro systems on their property.

Certificates, worth a maximum of $40, are provided for each megawatt hour of renewable electricity that would be created from a solar panel until the scheme ends in 2030. Electricity retailers are ­required to buy the certificates, passing the cost on to consumers.

Industry analysis obtained by The Australian showed the subsidy was expected to more than double from $500 million last year.

Mr Kelly, chairman of the ­Coalition backbench committee for energy and the environment, said the government should halve the maximum certificate price to $20, followed by another ­halving in its value next year ­before it is phased out a decade early in 2020.

Mr Wood, from the Grattan ­Institute, said the problem with the renewable energy target was that it did not have any “self-correcting mechanism”.

“The idea the subsidy stays in place regardless of what happens to the thing you are subsidising is asking for a problem in the long term,” he said.

“If people continue to put in more small-scale solar the retailers, more or less, are forced to support it with a price that is capped at $40 MWh.

“That means that, despite the cost of solar coming down dramatically, there is nothing that means that subsidy comes down with it, and that business in effect becomes more profitable.”


Shoe brand cops heat on social media for “ridiculous sexualisation”

A SOCIAL media campaign for a Melbourne shoe company has sparked outrage online, with one labelling the advertisement as “ridiculous sexualisation”.

Preston Zly Design, which launched in North Fitzroy in 1995, sells handmade shoes designed by artists Johanna Preston and Petr Zly.

The shoes, which are available in store in Melbourne as well as online, uploaded a montage of designs to their Instagram, which featured an array of boots, heels and wedged shoes.

But some social media users were quick to critique the campaign, which features an almost naked woman wearing the brightly coloured shoes.

“Why does the model have to take her pants off to sell shoes? one person questioned.

“Lisa Little lovely shoes. Shame about the ridiculous sexualisation,” another added.

Designer Johanna Preston hit back at the criticism, defending the photographs as simply showing off the shoes to consumers.

“We are not clothing designers — it’s all about the shoes here,” she wrote on Facebook.

“She [model] is not naked and is not doing anything sexual. Have we come to a place now where the female body is completely taboo?”


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, 2018

Shorten aims at the big end of town and hits the little guy

Retirees with a small income who own a few shares will not get the tax refunds on their shares that they are entitled to.  I have an above-average income and I will still get every cent of the tax refund due to me.  Is that fair?

Labor will target more than 1 million Australian taxpayers who own shares in a $59 billion revenue push that would take its heaviest toll on retirees, as Bill Shorten wages war on “unfair” cash refunds and ramps up attacks on the rich.

In a bold move that hurts wealthier voters, the Opposition Leader will reveal plans to help balance the budget by cancelling cash refunds worth an average of $5000 a year to taxpayers who own shares and claim tax credits on their dividends.

The stunning decision takes aim at more affluent taxpayers in a “hit the rich” policy that is certain to spark a political fight over a group of voters still reeling from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s move to scale back superannuation tax breaks two years ago.

As Labor fights to hold the marginal seat of Batman against a threat from the Greens this weekend, Mr Shorten will blast the Coalition for creating a “loophole” in 2001 on the tax credits paid on dividends.

Mr Shorten opens the new fight over shareholder credits after his long row with Mr Turnbull over company tax cuts, where he has attacked the “big end of town” for not paying enough tax.

Labor is calculating the political pain from the bold new plan will be worthwhile when it uses the huge revenue gain to pay for policies at the next election - including personal income tax cuts.

The Labor policy, seen by Fairfax Media, is aimed at raising $5.6 billion in 2020 and a similar amount every year, equivalent to about $4,800 on average each year for every taxpayer affected.

Labor will target more than 1 million Australian taxpayers who own shares in a $59 billion revenue push.

This is based on Labor assumptions the reforms would hit about 8 per cent of taxpayers, or around 1.17 million individuals and superannuation funds - including 200,000 self-managed super funds.

In a key pledge, Mr Shorten will promise to continue with dividend imputation for millions of taxpayers and would only change the rules for those whose taxable income is so low they qualify for cash refunds.

“Everyone will still be able to use imputation credits to reduce their tax - but not to claim cash refunds,” he says in a draft of his remarks to a policy summit on Tuesday.

“Reforming the system to eliminate this concession will save the budget $11.4 billion over the final two years of the current forward estimates and $59 billion over the medium term.”

Under dividend imputation rules, Australians are given franking credits on the dividends they receive for the shares they own, in order to avoid company profits being taxed twice.

Because the company has already paid tax on its earnings, its dividend payments to shareholders come with credits that reduce the individual’s tax bill every year.

Most workers have incomes that are high enough to ensure they still pay tax after the dividend credits are counted.

But when the individual has little or no income other than dividends, he or she ends up being owed money by the Australian Tax Office and then receiving it as a cash refund.

Former prime minister Paul Keating, who introduced dividend imputation as treasurer in 1987, did not include the cash refund in the original scheme.

The cash payments only began after 2001 when the Howard government, enjoying a substantial budget surplus, decided to help the relatively small group who claimed they were owed money from the ATO.

The Coalition policy cost the budget $550 million at the time but the bill has blown out to $5.6 billion a year because of the rise in the number of shareholders and dividend payments.

Mr Shorten will tell the Chifley Research Centre today, in a policy move advanced by shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, that nobody will “pay more tax” because the cash payments will stop.

“I want to emphasise a few important points here. Firstly, this change only affects a very small number of shareholders who currently have no tax liability and use their imputation credits to receive a cash refund,” he says in his draft speech.

“These people will no longer receive a cash refund - but they will not be paying any additional tax."

“Let me repeat that: a small number of people will no longer receive a cash refund - but they will not be paying any additional tax.”


'I don't want them recycled back into harm': Calls for abused Aboriginal children to be placed into the care of white families

Leftist lies about a "stolen generation" have done great hard

Aboriginal children who are abused should be allowed into the care of white families, assistant children's minister David Gillespie has argued. Dr Gillespie wants to relax rules that keep Aboriginal foster children in the care of indigenous families because too many are still raped and abused.

He said his fears of 'an abandoned and damaged generation' trumped his desire not to create another Stolen Generation.

Dr Gillespie said there was a 'mind-blowing' number of aboriginal children with sexually transmitted diseases, adding: 'If a child is being raped we can't just say it's OK on cultural grounds.'

He said: 'In small communities, if a family is dysfunctional, that's not satisfactory. I don't want children recycled back into harm.'

Queensland will this year introduce 'permanent care orders' so Aboriginal children can be looked after by foster parents until they reach 18, reported the Courier-Mail.

'Foster care is not ideal, but there is a reluctance to put them in a more permanent situation for fear of creating another Stolen Generation,' Dr Gillespie said.

The minister is supported by prominent Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine who has long been campaigning for abused children to be allowed out of Aboriginal communities.

He said safety is 'paramount, more important than anything else, including culture and kin'. 'Culture is not a reason to leave a child in an unsafe or neglectful home,' he added. 'Indigenous children can be raised with their culture and language even in adoptive families.

'And, frankly, if parents can't take care of their children's basic needs, well-being and safety, I'd question what culture their children are learning anyway.'  


Case dropped but Christian clerics fight on for free speech

Two Hobart preachers will continue a constitutional challenge against Tasmania’s anti-discrimination laws, despite the withdrawal of a legal complaint about their preaching on homosexuality and gay marriage.

Presbyterian pastor Campbell Markham said yesterday the two had “no intention” of withdrawing their constitutional challenge to Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act in light of the dropped complaint, despite advice the case could cost $20,000 in legal fees.

They also planned to seek a meeting with whomever was named attorney-general in the pending post-state election reshuffle, to lobby for another attempt at amending the act.

“We feel a responsibility to fight this law — not for ourselves, but on behalf of all Tasmanians who want to live in a free society,” said Mr Markham, of the city’s Cornerstone Church.

The state government last night suggested it was open to ­another tilt at reform, after changes to bolster religious freedom were last year blocked in the upper house.

“We remain of the view that the act as it stands does not get the balance right,” a spokeswoman said. “We are supportive of strengthening freedom of speech, but no decision has been made on any legislative change.”

Often described as the nation’s broadest anti-discrimination law, its section 17 bans conduct that “offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules” someone on the basis of 22 attributes, including sexuality and religious belief.

Mr Markham said despite the complainant, Hobart man Sam Mazur, dropping the case against him and his church’s street evangelist, David Gee, it had already tied them up in legal wrangles for six months.

It had also set a precedent, with Equal Opportunity Tasmania agreeing to accept the complaint despite Mr Mazur not identifying as gay and instead bringing the complaint on behalf of others. “If the EOT starts accepting third-party complaints then every Tasmanian is exposed to legal ­action — not just because a person may be offended by what they say, but because someone may decide that someone else, somewhere, might be offended,” Mr Markham said.

Mr Mazur suggested he had withdrawn the complaint because of doubts about its chance of success, given that he was not gay.

According to Mr Mazur’s complaint, Mr Gee suggested same-sex marriage could lead to “polygamy, pedophilia, incest and even bestiality”. In online blogs, Pastor Markham has referred to the “distressingly dangerous homosexual lifestyle”.


Assertion in lieu of evidence

There are absolutely no facts advanced to support the assertions below.  Even the IPCC says that extreme weather events cannot be linked to present levels of warming

YOU can forget about climate change being a future phenomenon, according to Professor Lesley Hughes.

“It’s a now phenomenon,” she said during her visit to Bathurst on Monday.

She says the effects of climate change are already being seen in Australia – from more intense droughts to a longer bushfire season – and those impacts are only set to grow so “the status quo is not an option”.

Professor Hughes, a Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor at Macquarie University and a former federal Climate Commissioner, gave a lunchtime presentation on Monday hosted by Bathurst Community Climate Action Network and introduced by Councillor Jess Jennings.

She was brought to Bathurst courtesy of the Climate Council, whose Cities Power Partnership recently added Bathurst as a participant.

Speaking after her presentation, Professor Hughes was at pains to emphasise that the climate had already changed and would continue to change based on what was being put into the atmosphere now.

“What we will get for the next few decades is already on the way now,” she 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

13 March, 2018

Insane population growth in Australia

Fed by an insane immigrant intake.  A moratorium on the refugee intake would be well warranted while Australia assimilates the refugees taken in already

Australia is growing fast. In one year we added nearly 400,000 people to our population. That is like adding a city the size of Canberra.

But, of course, we are not building new cities. Most of those new residents are swelling the populations of our four major cities: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Between 2006 and 2016 Melbourne has added close to 1 million people. Sydney was not far behind adding 800,000.

In the same period, Brisbane and Perth grew by almost half a million.

The pressure points are plain to see — from congestion on the roads and rail networks, to the struggle to keep up with demand for schools and hospitals.

Back in 1997 it was estimated we would take until the middle of this century to reach a population of 25 million. Australia's population is there already.

Four Corners has investigated how this population growth has occurred and why it is taking government by surprise.

Australia has a steady birth rate and we're also living longer.  But the main driver of our population growth is immigration.

On our current rate of growth, Melbourne and Sydney will nudge 8 million in the middle of this century. But they are already groaning under the strain.

It is going to mean big changes. We will all need to make choices, trade-offs, and compromises.

We need more public transport, and fewer cars on the roads.

Most of us feel the pressure of population growth during our daily commute to and from work. Sydney has the longest commute times, followed by Melbourne.

Marg Prendergast is coordinator general at Transport for NSW. She told Four Corners our reliance on cars will have to change. "We're doing everything we can to put public transport as a real option, because single car drivers are just not going to fit on the road in years to come," she says.

"We can't build ourselves out of this growth. We actually need to manage demand better. We want people to travel earlier (or) to travel a bit later."

New South Wales is experimenting with getting employers to shift working hours, so that the traffic load can be spread across the day.

But if Melbourne and Sydney are going to become cities on the scale of London and Hong Kong, much bigger changes are needed.

"London and Hong Kong cope because they've got amazing public transport systems. Here in Sydney, we're in catch-up mode."

We're going to need a lot more schools

State governments are scrambling to keep up with demand for schools.

In 2016, the Grattan Institute estimated that in more than 10 years Victoria and NSW will need to build around 200 schools each to keep up. Queensland is not far behind, needing an estimated 197 new schools.

Victoria is now building multi-storey "vertical" schools in the inner city to replace those shut down in the 1990s.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino says this is the future for inner-city suburbs.  "The land lots are smaller, so you need to go vertical to cater for the student numbers," he says.

"We need to accommodate 90,000 additional students over the next five years, just incredible enrolment growth.

"We've got 56 new schools in the construction pipeline, 11 of which are opening for the 2018 school year.

"We just need to keep that pace up, year after year, because this pressure is not going to stop."

We need to think about how fast our population should be growing

Fresh calls for pulling back on immigration are coming from both sides of politics.

In 2000, former New South Wales premier Bob Carr famously declared Sydney was "full". Close to two decades later, he says we have overshot the mark on immigration.

"Would it be such a national tragedy, if it took us five years to add a million to our population, instead of three? Or, might it, in fact, encourage Australians to find other ways of driving a contemporary economy?" Mr Carr asks.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott recently suggested slashing immigration to allow infrastructure to catch up.

Treasurer Scott Morrison dismissed that immediately, saying "the hit to the budget of that would be about $4 billion to $5 billion over the next four years".

The Federal Government is cracking down on one aspect of the immigration program: temporary visas. Not only is the list of approved jobs for foreign workers shorter, but it is harder for them to stay on and become permanent residents.

Business is worried. Scott Farqhuar is the co-founder of the Australian tech giant Atlassian. He says about one-quarter of his Sydney workforce are here on temporary visas.

"Bringing someone in from overseas actually creates jobs and creates a whole industry versus taking someone else's job. That idea of one person in, one job gone, is a very much industrial-era way of thinking. It's not relevant for today," Mr Farqhuar says.

He says the changes have already made it harder to attract the skilled workers he needs. "If you're trying to find someone who's 45 and they're a senior person, they're going to bring their family, their partner, their kids. They want to know that if they like it here then they can stay, they're not going to have to uproot their family," he says.

"The government has basically put up a big red balloon internationally saying 'Australia's closed for business'. "People who are interested in moving here now think, OK, I don't want to move to Australia because the government has sent off this message."

And … we need someone in charge

By mid-century, Treasury forecasts show our population over the age of 65 will double. Our population over 85 will quadruple.

Bernard Salt of The Demography Group says that will be a major issue to manage.

"Five million baby boomers coming out of the workforce take their tax-paying capacity out. Then they say, 'Well, thank you very much, I'll have an age pension. I'll have pharmaceutical benefits, and anything else that's going'."

The question is, will there be enough working-age people to look after them?

And why do we not have a national population policy? Or a population minister?

"I suppose the urban plans we've got for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane are competent documents," Mr Carr says.

"They spell out where the high-rise will occur. All I'm saying is we're going to have to have a whole lot more high-rise to accommodate another 4 million over the next three or four decades."

Australian Industry Group chief executive officer Innes Willox is more blunt. "We've done an abysmal job," he says.

"You know, there has been really no serious integrated debate around all the key factors that population growth brings to our economy and our national way of life."


NSW laws that make land clearing easier reinstated by Berejiklian government

Greenies on the warpath

On Friday, the NSW land and environment court ruled the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code was invalid, since it was not approved by the NSW environment minister before it was implemented by the primary industries minister.

The code was created to exempt clearing from the usual development assessment procedure and was introduced after the NSW Coalition government overhauled the state’s conservation laws in 2016, making land clearing easier for farmers.

But the laws were thrown into disarray on Friday when the Nature Conservation Council (NCC) of NSW won a challenge against them, after it was revealed the proper procedure for implementing them had not been followed.

The NCC and the NSW environmental defenders office, which represented the NCC, said on Friday the government should not simply remake the laws, since the case showed the environment minister, Gabrielle Upton, had not done the work required to protect biodiversity.

“This is not simply a matter of incorrect paperwork,” said David Morris, the chief executive of the environmental defenders office NSW. “Ecologically sustainable development is not just another box to tick. The environment minister has a legal responsibility to protect biodiversity in this state.”

But the government made no delay remaking the laws, announcing on Saturday it had been completed.

“The remade code is identical to the previous one and is an integral part of the new land management framework which gives landowners the tools and certainty they need,” said David Witherdin, the CEO of Local Land Services, which oversees clearing under the codes.

The move was condemned by the NCC. “By waving these laws through a second time without even pausing to consider the consequences, Premier Berejiklian has gone against the wishes of voters and the advice of leading scientists,” the NCC’s CEO, Kate Smolski, said.

“The government’s own experts have warned 99% of koala habit on private land is left exposed to clearing by these laws and that there would be a spike in tree loss of up to 45%.

“As the state’s peak environment organisation, we will continue to do everything we can to expose the damage of land clearing and will not stop until we have laws that give nature the protection it deserves.”


The NAPLAN nervous ninnies

NAPLAN [national school tests] results are out and high gain schools are receiving their just recognition. Yet, critics are calling for a review of NAPLAN because results have not improved as much as we would like.

Criticising NAPLAN for poor literacy and numeracy is like blaming your thermometer for your fever. NAPLAN is not responsible for the deplorable differences in performance between wealthy and disadvantaged students. NAPLAN’s job is to expose the truth about those gaps, and that is what it is doing.

Perhaps it would help to see what NAPLAN really involves. Here are two sample questions:

* Ben collected 68 cans. Jack collected 109 cans. How many cans did Ben and Jack collect altogether?

* The following sentence has one word that is incorrect. We bought fresh bred. Write the correct spelling of the word.

These questions may appear harmless, but critics claim they traumatise our children, pervert classroom teaching and undermine education. They say that asking children to calculate sums and spell ‘bread’ can cause insomnia, stomach aches and nail-biting — and getting the answers wrong crushes students’ self-esteem. Teachers report they are forced to ‘waste’ valuable class time teaching students to spell and do arithmetic when they could be focusing on more important things such as ‘creativity’.

Ludicrous? Welcome to the surreal world of opposition to the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy, commonly known as NAPLAN.

Questions 1 and 2 come from NAPLAN’s Year 3 numeracy and literacy assessments, respectively. To answer them, a child must know how to read, add and spell. These are vital skills. NAPLAN simply tells us whether children have learnt them.

Testing did not begin with NAPLAN. Teachers have always used assessments to monitor students’ progress and identify those who need extra help. In addition, state education authorities administered examinations to ensure that schools were preparing children adequately for further learning.

Unfortunately, the curriculum, the assessment tests and the standards children were expected to achieve differed across teachers, schools and states. As a result, students participated in a postcode lottery — the content and quality of their education depended on where they lived and which school they attended.

The Australian Curriculum and NAPLAN have eliminated these inequities. For the first time, all Australian children are taught the same content, undertake identical assessments and are held to common performance standards. The benefits have been enormous. Using NAPLAN, teachers can identify students’ strengths and weaknesses and plan lessons accordingly. In addition, because NAPLAN is administered in years 3, 5, 7, and 9, schools can see how their students’ learning grows over time.

Because their curriculum and the assessment methods are now comparable, schools in one state can compare their educational outcomes with those of similar schools in other states. Authorities can identify high performing schools and disseminate their successful teaching methods nationally.

NAPLAN will eventually move from paper and pencil to online assessment. When this occurs, results will be available much earlier in the school year, but that is not the only benefit. In contrast to the present one-size-fits-all paper test, NAPLAN online will be tailored to the abilities of each student. Teachers will be given a precise picture of each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, moving NAPLAN online will allow the test to be customised for the special needs of students with disabilities.

Instead of welcoming these benefits, the critics of NAPLAN have stepped up their attacks. In addition to lowering self-esteem, making children ill and occupying too much time, NAPLAN is also blamed for low levels of literacy and numeracy, and for not measuring creativity, critical thinking and ‘personal attributes’. These claims are all baseless.  Apart from anecdotes, there is no evidence that asking students how to spell ‘bread’ makes them ill.

Critics of NAPLAN believe that self-esteem is protected by never allowing children to fail. But the truth is precisely the opposite.  By preventing children from experiencing failure, we stop them from gaining the self-confidence that comes from overcoming it.

If we want young people to be able to handle life’s inevitable slings and arrows, then we should not encourage them to avoid difficult situations. Instead, we should teach children how to cope with them. If children find NAPLAN stressful, imagine the stress they will encounter trying to find jobs if they leave school unable to read, spell and do arithmetic.

Claims that NAPLAN takes up valuable teaching time are simply untrue. Over 10 years of schooling, NAPLAN testing occupies an average of 3 minutes per week. Surely this leaves enough time for teaching. Teachers claim that they are ‘forced to waste time’ drilling students on sample NAPLAN questions. It is not clear who is exerting this force, but drilling is not an effective teaching method.  The only way to prepare students for NAPLAN is to teach them to read, write and do mathematics.

And perhaps this is one reason that some educators are so critical of NAPLAN — it exposes the truth. By identifying good and poor performers (such as the high gain schools recognized this week), NAPLAN makes school learning transparent.  Some may find the spotlight uncomfortable, and criticise NAPLAN even as online delivery promises timelier and more useful tests. It is time for parents, policymakers, and community leaders to enter the debate.


$1.3bn hit on electricity users as subsidies for solar panels surge

Energy consumers will be forced to pay more than $1 billion for rooftop solar installation subsidies this year, increasing power costs by up to $100 per household, according to an industry analysis.

Operators warn of a spike in the number of unscrupulous ­operators unless the green-power subsidy is wound back.

The Clean Energy Regulator has released figures showing that more than 1057 megawatts of ­capacity was installed last year, equating to 3.5 million solar ­panels being fixed to rooftops.

Industry analysis obtained by The Australian reveals the cost of small-scale technology certificates — created to increase the incentive to install rooftop solar — shows the value of the sub­sidies was $500 million last year.

The solar industry is expecting the subsidy to increase to about $1.3bn this year after the regulator estimated in January that 22 million new certificates would be created over the year. The certificates are granted to people installing solar panels, and electricity retailers are required to buy them.

Jeff Bye, founder and owner of Demand Manager in Sydney, a company that creates and trades the certificates, warned that the rebate was “overly generous” in many circumstances. “There are strong reasons to support installation of rooftop solar in Australia; however, it’s a question of the degree of support needed,” he said.

“The cost increase (this year) is about $800m and there are 8 million households … so there’ll be a cost impact of around $100 per household. The electricity impact might be $40 or $50 per household but businesses will pass through the additional cost too … That subsidy of $500m last year, or $1.2bn to $1.3bn this year, is added on to everyone’s bills.”

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the Australian Energy Market Commission had found the average cost to households over the past five years was about $29 a year, with the price peaking in 2012 at $44 for the year. “The AEMC forecasts residential electricity prices will fall over the next two years as renewable energy, including small-scale solar supported by the Renewable Energy Target, enters the system,” Mr Frydenberg said.

In last year’s Residential Electricity Price Trends report, the AEMC acknowledged that “costs incurred in purchasing certificates are assumed to be passed on to consumers through retail prices”.

Mr Frydenberg celebrated the solar rooftop take-up last year, saying Australia had emerged as a “world leader” and noted that one in five households used solar power.

NSW Liberal MP Craig Kelly, chairman of the Coalition backbench committee for energy and the environment, warned that the cost of rooftop solar subsidies was being carried by those who could least afford it.

He said the benefits of lower power prices were going to high-wealth households that installed the panels, while those without solar panels were hit with higher prices passed on by electricity ­retailers.

“It’s effectively a reverse Robin Hood scheme where we are ­increasing the electricity prices on the poor to reduce electricity ­prices for the rich,” Mr Kelly said.

“A woman rang me during the week and broke down on the telephone. She just got her electricity bill and it was $800. She was ­expecting a bill of $400 ... she’s got no way of paying for it.”

Mr Frydenberg faces calls to ­reduce rooftop solar subsidies by slashing the price of the certificates that electricity retailers are required to buy. He is expected to set a target for the calendar year by the end of this month.

Mr Bye said the number of certificates to be bought each year was set by the small technology percentage (STP), but warned the system was flawed and the certificates were overpriced.

“In recent history, the certificates have traded close to the maximum legislated price of $40 and the target-setting process, overseen by the minister, effectively leads to a continuation of that pattern,” Mr Bye said.

“However, there was a period last year when the market price dropped to $30 but the boom in solar installations continued.”

Mr Bye warned that the high STC price, coupled with growing demand for solar, could attract “unscrupulous operators”.

“It’s nowhere near what it was 10 years ago under the home insulation program but we should be wary of subsidies attracting the wrong people,’’ 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

12 March, 2018

The war on "Throaties"

Note the little birdie

I gather that "Throaties" are officially regarded as confectionery rather than medicine.  On the rare occaion when I get a cold, however, I find them helpful.  And Woolworths is the obvious source of supply for them.

"Throaties" do contain various volatile compounds (menthol etc.) which are the active ingredients.  So "Throaties" are one of the cough lollies that come carefully double wrapped in order to prevent the volatiles from evaporating off.

Some lamebrain at Woolworths, however, didn't see the point of all that double wrapping so put all the lozenges together in a little plastic bag -- into which all the volatiles promptyly evaporated.  So as soon as you opened the plastic bag, all the stuff you wanted promptly escaped into the air.  So your "Throatie" no longer had any active ingredients.

I found that very frustrating but was consoled to find that a Bangladesdhi grocery on a corner near where I go had the olde "Throaties" in stock.  So I promptly bought 4 of them to tide me over.

Sadly, however, the Bangladeshi grocer is now a Mexican restaurant so when I got a cold recently I had to go in search of "Throaties".  My local chemist did not have them in any form.  Too grand for "Throaties", I guess.

But I knew how widely "Throaties" used to be stocked so on a hunch I called in to my local newsagent.  And there they were.  I bought 4 packs straightaway!

Jordan Peterson finds fellow travellers in the search for meaning


I want to start by saying: if you don’t have a ticket to see Jordan Peterson while he’s in Australia, run and get one. Beg, borrow and steal to get one. Except you can’t.

Peterson arrived in Australia this week for what, to their dismay, local organisers — a small company, True Arrow Events — immediately recognised is a too-short series of lectures in too-small theatres, on too few dates. He is sold out everywhere.

People can’t get enough of the 55-year-old psychologist. So, what will you be missing?

I went along to the Melbourne lecture on Thursday to find out. I’m not going to deny that I was already a bit of a fan girl.

Like many people, I stumbled on Peterson online last month when his interview on Britain’s Channel 4 with Cathy Newman went viral. I enjoyed it — enjoyed him — so much, I went and got his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos and inhaled it in a day. And OK, sure, since then I may have found myself, more than once, happily lost down a YouTube rabbit hole of Peterson ­lectures.

This was to be the real thing. The event was to be held in the sublime surroundings of the Melbourne Recital Hall. It was a warm night and the crowd was mostly on foot, and mostly young but not especially so — there were certainly people middle-aged and older.

I found myself seated in the second-back row, near the sound mixer, alone yet not, because it seemed like half the crowd had come alone, and I soon found out why: they hadn’t been able to convince friends to come along.

You want me to sit for two hours listening to some obscure Canadian drone on about the meaning of life — or else maybe pluck my eye out with a fork? Pass the fork.

They had shrugged and come along anyway.

To my left, I had a super clean-cut guy, Alex Roy, 32, who works for a non-profit. Behind us was the tattooed and beautiful Maggie Baines, 32, who is doing gender studies at the University of Victoria (she sheepishly admitted that her girlfriends weren’t all that happy about the idea of her “going to see Jordan ‘Effing’ Peterson because I guess he’s seen as a bit antifeminist”); and to our right we had brothers Tim and Nathan Morris, 24 and 26 respectively, who stumbled on Peterson while gaming, and soon found themselves “like, not talking about My Kitchen Rules, talking about big issues, like: what is the purpose of my life?”

Within seconds, everyone had introduced themselves and they were all getting animated, remembering the best things they’d heard Peterson say, when the lights dimmed and Peterson strode on to the stage.

To my complete surprise, they — indeed the entire audience — immediately rose as one and gave him a standing ovation. He hadn’t even said anything yet!

His first words were: “It’s three in the morning my time.” They cheered that, too.

Peterson did not say so but he had only just got off the plane. It would be an exaggeration to say that he has been on a speaking tour nonstop since the start of the year, but not by a lot. He’s touring the world and it’s different every night. He decided on his topic for Melbourne just 10 minutes before taking the stage.

He wanted to begin, he said, with something “spectacularly difficult”. The existence of God.

Peterson uses Bible stories to illustrate basic points in his lectures, and “people keep asking me, do I believe in God? And I’ve been accused of hedging my bets.”

It wouldn’t be fair to try to summarise his answer to that question. He spoke for more than 90 minutes, with no notes. If that sounds like your worst nightmare, know this: he does not drone.

Peterson has an unusual way of speaking that carries you along. Partly it’s the accent — he is a Canadian who has spent time in the US — but it’s also the way he speaks, with his long fingers pressed against his forehead, like he’s trying to push, or maybe even pry, the thoughts out.

Other times he’s like a mime artist, using his hands to draw boxes in the air, or else he’s doing a sucking thing with his fingers, drawing his hand back, like the movement of a jellyfish.

He does not shout or insist. He’s not a snake-oil salesman or a tub thumper.  He’s got his doubts, too. And depression.

There is also the manner in which he paces the stage, lean and hungry. All of Peterson’s clothes are new because he recently has lost more than 20kg by restricting his intake pretty much to moose, elk and steamed broccoli.

His daughter Mikhaila, 25, has suffered from chronic ill health almost all her life, including a form of arthritis that cost her a hip and an ankle when she was 17, and threatened to crumble more of her joints. She invented a diet that he has now adopted. It’s so strict, the tour organisers had to book him into self-catering hotels and Airbnb where the whole family can prepare their own meals (there being no elk in Australia, kangaroo may have to do).

Mikhaila Peterson credits the diet with curing her ailments and Jordan Peterson’s depression, which has been severe at times. He is now obsessive about food and veers dangerously close to those gals who claim to cure disease with food, except everyone knows he is right. You do feel awful when you eat junk food, and when you stop you’ll lose weight and feel better, and diabetes and arthritis may well be improved.

But on with the show. What did he say?

In essence, his point was not a new one: in a million years, who will care that you lived? You will be dust, and so will everything you ever did and everyone you ever loved. “Given that, you can decide that everything’s pointless, and yet we don’t,” he said.

Human beings tend to live like there is a point to it all. Not just here in the West. Every society has its parables. We are apparently hardwired to accept that there is more. Which maybe means there is more?  Maybe life does matter. Maybe we do, too.

On the other hand — and we all know this is true — with every person you meet, “you don’t have to scratch very much to find a bedrock of tragedy”.

“God only knows what’s wrong in your life,” Peterson said. “No doubt plenty, and there is more to come, you can be sure of that.”

That’s because even normal, well-functioning human beings are burdened by sorrow, and how could it be otherwise? We all suffer because bad things happen to all of us. We all lose people we love and in the end we all die.

Think about that for even a day and you’ll find yourself on the edge of nihilism. What can rescue us from despair?

“Happiness isn’t going to do it, that’s very fragile,” Peterson said. But meaning?  That may be the trick.

But what does it mean, to have meaning in your life?

Peterson’s ideas are difficult to summarise but essentially he believes that heaven and hell exist in some form on earth, and anyone who has ever done a bad thing knows it.

When you do a bad thing, you feel awful, and it’s the same when you find yourself being carried along by people or organisations whose values you don’t share, or working in a job that is not fulfilling, or telling lies about your drinking, or even when you’re not doing what you believe in your heart you were put on earth to do.

You feel awful because you’re walking in the wrong direction.  Let’s call that hell, since that’s how it feels.

When your house is in order, when you’re acting with clarity and honesty, when you’re moving in the right direction, you feel better, right?  That’s the opposite of hell.

Probably not heaven, since we’re human, but it is better than the alternative.

Peterson’s idea is that you — the sovereign individual — should start moving as quickly as possible away from hell. Away from things that would make you feel bad, and therefore make your world worse.

Pick your goal — a job more suited to your skills, a more honest marriage, a life filled with more kindness towards others — and head in that direction.

Catastrophic things will still happen. You will still suffer, because you’re human. But you will be able to bear it.

The reason we despair, he says, is because we have no target, “sometimes no bow, no arrow, no idea that we’re even meant to be aiming at”. So pick up whatever burden you’ve been given — your personal losses and grief, which you can’t escape anyway — and start moving rapidly in a direction that won’t make your life worse.

Make good decisions. Don’t tell lies.

Maybe the only life you’ll improve will be your own, but that’s a good start.  “Fix what’s in front of you,” Peterson said.

Peterson told the Melbourne audience he had received 30,000 letters in the six months since he rocketed to fame and, in broad outline, they said two things.

The first group says: “You put into words what I always thought was true, but couldn’t find a way to say it.”

The second group says: “I’ve listened to you, and I’ve been trying to put my house in order. I stopped making things worse, and lo and behold, they got better!”

The audience laughed and cheered.

Ninety-five minutes in, Peterson stepped briefly away from the stage and people were invited to line up behind the microphones, and half the audience rose and rushed toward the aisles, since everyone had a question for him.

No way was he going to get to them all, which was a shame because unusually for this format — audience participation — even the questions were good.

He was asked if there is a coming Christian renaissance — he thinks it likely — and about the looming civil crisis in South Africa.

One guy in an open relationship wanted to know if Peterson admired his decision to voluntarily face the fear and insecurity that develops when you know your partner is sleeping with other people (answer, in short: no).

A pale individual with a quaking manner asked whether “a person can continue to do graffiti and still say they were aiming to make the world a better place?”

The crowd laughed, but Peterson paused for a long time, like he wanted to give it serious consideration. “Mostly I think it’s a desperate attempt to get status,” he said ­finally. “And I think you should paint on your own property. But then there’s Banksy.

“So I hate to say this, but it depends on who you are. Probably you’re not Banksy.”

It went on for a bit longer, then it was time to go, and of course Peterson got a second standing ovation, but it wasn’t a long one, for everyone was rushing to get outside — and I soon figured out why.

Peterson was going to be signing. Buy a book and you’d get a chance to meet him, and didn’t that provide a moment to make a local author weep: the queue was 25 wide — that’s wide, not deep — and it snaked through the foyer and right up the staircase, and why wouldn’t it?

There just aren’t that many roaming rock star philosophers in the world today. You may think it mumbo-jumbo. You may profoundly disagree.

Even so, it will be a long time since you sat for two hours and considered the big questions with other people keen to have an animated conversation about the world, and our place in it.

I’d say get a ticket — but of course, you can’t.


Chilling fact is most climate change theories are wrong


You have to hand it to Peter Hannam, The Sydney Morning Herald’s climate change alarmist-in-chief, for his report last month - “ ‘Really ­extreme’ global weather event leaves scientists aghast”.

Hannam is often the ­canary in the coalmine (er, wind farm) when there is a sense that public belief in man-made global warming is flagging. With Europe in the grip of a much colder winter than predicted and with the ­abnormal chill spreading even to Africa, he did his best to hold the line.

Earlier this year, Climate Council councillor Will Steffen also climbed on board — for The Sydney Morning Herald of course. Extreme cold in Britain, Switzerland and Japan, a record-breaking cold snap in Canada and the US and an expansion of the East Antarctic ice sheet coincided with a ­Bureau of Meteorology tweet (later retracted) that January 7 had set a heat record for the ­Sydney Basin. Steffen told us these seemingly unrelated events were in fact linked. “Climate ­disruption” explained both. Whether fire or ice, we’re to blame. No ifs, no buts.

Now a warming Arctic provides the perfect opportunity for Hannam to divert attention from the latest deep freeze. He ominously warns: “Climate scientists are used to seeing the range of weather extremes stretched by global warming, but few episodes appear as remarkable as this week’s unusual heat over the Arctic.”

It’s true, warm air has made its way up to the high Arctic, driving temperatures up to 20C above ­average. But Anthony Watts, who runs a climate change website, puts things into perspective. He observes: “Warm moist air from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans has warmed the Arctic above the 80th parallel. It should be noted, however, that the Arctic Circle actually starts at 66 degrees north, meaning the record heat is over a much narrower area.”

Cato Institute atmospheric scientist Ryan Maue reviewed high Arctic temperature data going back to 1958 and says: “Data before the satellite era … has some problems, so it’s hard to say the current spike is for sure a record.” He says that if the baseline is 1973, when the polar-­orbiting satellites began recording the data, there is not much difference between today’s ice extent and then.

Indeed, we now have satellite confirmation that global air temperatures are back to the same level they were before the 2014-16 super El Nino event and, this January and February, the decline accelerated. Since 2015 satellites also have detected a fall in sea surface temperatures.

Solar expert Piers Corbyn, of British forecasting group Wea­therAction and famous for his successful wagers against the British Met Office forecasts, predicts Earth faces another mini ice age with potentially devastating consequences. He notes: “The frequency of sunspots is expected to rapidly decline … reaching a minimum between the years 2019 and 2020.” Indeed, the present decline in solar activity is faster than at any time in the past 9300 years, suggesting an end to the grand solar maximum.

Critics say while “it might be safe to go with (Corbyn’s) forecast for rain next Tuesday, it would be foolish to gamble the world can just go on burning all the coal and oil we want”. That’s the nub of it. The world has bet the shop on CO2 warming and the “science” must be defended at all costs.

But while spinning unfalsi­fiable “climate disruption” slogans may sway readers of The Sydney Morning Herald and resonate with believers in their centrally heated halls, those in the real world, witnessing hundreds of people dying of the cold and thousands more receiving emergency treatment, will consider they’ve been duped.

Not feeling duped are successive Australian governments that have become committed members of a green-left global warming movement promoted by the UN. On dubious scientific grounds they have agreed to accept meaningless, anti-growth, CO2 emission targets that enrich elites and burden the masses.

And, true to label, a Green Climate Fund supported by Australia and 42 mostly developed countries will redistribute $US100 billion ($128bn) annually to poorer nations as reparation for the unspecified environmental harm the West has allegedly caused them.

Big emitters such as China, India and Russia are conspicuously absent.

Policing Australia’s targets and helping to spread confirmatory propaganda is a network of international and local bureaucracies. The world’s academies and meteorological organisations, frequently found to be unreliable and biased, keep the faith alive. They reject debate and starve nonconforming researchers of funds and information. Students are indoctrinated with unproven climate-change theories that an unquestioning media gladly ­reinforces.

Meanwhile, the country ingenuously surrenders its competitive advantage by refusing to embrace its rich endowment of affordable baseload energy. This it happily exports while lining the pockets of renewable energy rent-seekers with generous taxpayer subsidies.

Should the world enter a per­iod of global cooling, we should ­expect concerted denial. Too many livelihoods, too many reputations and too much ideology ­depend on the CO2 narrative. Having ceded sovereignty over our economies’ commanding heights to unelected bureaucrats in Geneva, the West (Donald Trump excluded) repeatedly turns to expensive vanity projects to paper over this folly. If the iceman cometh, there can be no quick fix. Yet we know it takes twice as much energy to heat a home than to cool one. So pity the poor and infirm who respected medical journal The Lancet says are 20 times likelier to die from cold than heat.

While even to mention a mini ice age risks scorn and derision, recent research has shown a close correlation between solar activity and climate on Earth. That possibility alone should cause shivers. But it will take time and experience before we accept the global warming movement is really the triumph of ideology over science. Until then we will continue to commit life’s cardinal sin of putting too many eggs into one questionable basket.


Goverment regulations a huge part of the cost of new housing

What does a million dollars buy in Aussie capital cities?

Everybody complains about high housing prices these days. But would you live in a concrete jungle if it meant you could get a much cheaper home?

That’s the question Australia’s Reserve Bank is asking. It put out a report this week on how Australia’s housing market would look in the theoretical world where there were no zoning controls. It finds zoning rules — things like minimum block sizes and height limits — have raised Sydney house prices by 73 per cent.

The price of an average block of land in Sydney is $765,000, which is 36 per cent the true value of that land and 64 per cent the cost of what the RBA calls the Zoning effect.

Without zoning, you’d get Blade Runner cities full of high rise apartments, but they’d be damn cheap to buy. If a Blade Runner future doesn’t quite sound perfect for your family, that’s probably because zoning can be good. Even the RBA admits it.

Zoning rules mean we pay higher prices but we get a bit more breathing room to live in. More light in our homes and perhaps a bit more beauty. Zoning gets us nice leafy streets of one and two storey homes with big yards (…that we drive past on our way to the home we can afford!).

The question is whether having zoning rules that bring us high prices is worth it. The high cost of housing is a real burden on a human life. Two working parents slave away for years to pay off a mortgage, spending time away from their kids, getting stressed and unhappy at work. Do we really get more benefit from a heritage facade and a front yard than we would from 15 years less mortgage?

(Personally, I’ve always thought front yards are a total waste. We never really use ours and it’d save on gardening if the house went all the way to the street. If I could get rid of one rule, it would be the rule we must have front yards.)

It is worth pointing out that the Blade Runner cities would only be in the inner parts. Once the most valuable land is built up tall, larger houses would be available a bit further out

The fact we’d like to buy just a little bit of land to build a house on, but we have to buy a big block, suggests some people don’t get much value from being forced to have big blocks. It suggests that zoning rules such as minimum block sizes are making housing more expensive than they would otherwise be.

The RBA paper is partly an intellectual exercise — wrecking balls are not going to come tearing through the beautiful old suburbs tomorrow even if we decide to relax zoning rules. But it is also a political document. In discussing how much it costs us to have the zoning restrictions, it encourages us to think about getting rid of them. If we turfed out heritage controls and height limits and minimum apartment sizes, we really could make housing more affordable.

It’s a question worth thinking about, since to a large extent we seem to be heading that way anyway, with towers shooting up across Australia’s cities.

There is one city in the world that is most famous for existing without major zoning laws — Houston Texas. It is famous for having enormous urban sprawl and the lack of rules mean very different kinds of buildings can end up next door. They could build an enormous tower just over your back fence, for example:

But Houston, which is an extremely wealthy city, also has very affordable housing. House price to income ratios have been falling since the 1970s, which says housing is getting easier to buy there. (In San Francisco, where zoning rules are incredibly strict and locals fight back against development, median house prices are the highest in the USA.)

Houston has a few higgledy-piggledy moments, but it still has a lot of single-family homes. Meanwhile, the commercial parts mostly stick to the commercial areas and residences mostly get built in residential areas. The lack of zoning doesn’t end up changing it too much from a normal city, and it has managed to absorb a huge amount of population growth.

As our cities struggle to absorb big population growth, being just a little bit more like Houston might be in our interests.


Victoria police 'caught using and trafficking meth and ecstasy - as two officers joke over texts about going to work after a cocaine bender'

No wonder they cannot control the African teenagers who aree running riot

Police partying on ice, cocaine and ecstasy would meet up with known traffickers, peddle drugs themselves and return positive tests, says an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission special report.

The report takes in three investigations into claims of drug possession, trafficking and use by police since 2014 and says allegations against eight officers have been substantiated.

Operation Apsley revealed a group of police were using drugs regularly in their social lives - including one who used cocaine 'most days' for four months last year.

The officer, known as Senior Constable A, and a friend, Senior Constable B, used and trafficked drugs and were 'cavalier about the safety risks', the report says.

Both told IBAC they would not work if affected by drugs, but messages between them refuted these claims, including this exchange after a night out using cocaine:

Senior Constable A: 'Feeling slightly average but okay. Gonna be a long shift. Rad night.'

Senior Constable B: 'Kill me, I wanna lay down.'

Another senior constable messaged a civilian associate about putting MDMA powder into capsules - 'Now that you run a sophisticated drug syndicate you will be... essstremely bizzy' was the reply.

Two other IBAC operations also exposed regular drug use with one that focused on a constable leading to that officer's brother being arrested by federal and interstate police on drug offences.

While IBAC says allegations against eight were substantiated it says they were likely just 'snapshots of a more widespread and serious problem for Victoria Police'.

Of those eight officers, two were charged with giving false evidence, misleading or attempting to mislead IBAC, and inciting a witness to mislead IBAC, and one was charged with criminal drug offences.

One has been dismissed, three have resigned, three are suspended and one returned to work after an admonishment notice.

There are systemic deficiencies in Victoria Police's illicit drug prevention and detection, IBAC concludes.

'Police officers cannot be selective in choosing which criminal laws they will obey,' IBAC Commissioner Stephen O'Bryan QC said in a statement.

'While most of the police officers investigated were aware they were engaging in illegal conduct, they rationalised their off-duty criminality as being separate to their obligations as police officers.'

Victoria Police's alcohol and drugs policy says illicit drug use is not tolerated but there is ambiguity about the consequences, IBAC says.

Police have accepted the recommendations and are reviewing their practices and policies, a Victoria Police spokesman said in a statement.

A progress report is due on June 30 and Victoria Police must provide IBAC with a final report by June 30, 2018.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said drug use has 'no place' within the force.

'This investigation related to a small group of police officers, and Victoria Police has since taken appropriate action through criminal, disciplinary and management interventions,' she said in a statement.

Police Association secretary Ron Iddles denied there was a systemic drug problem within Victoria Police, but conceded the eight instances didn't come as a 'total shock'.

'Our members are susceptible to more pressure and stress than the average member of society,' Mr Iddles said in a statement to AAP.

He said the report showed health and wellbeing services available to Victoria Police's 15,000 members needed to be improved.


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

11 March, 2018

President Donald Trump has announced he will not impose tariffs on Australian steel and aluminium

A major diplomatic victory for Malcolm Turnbull. His unfailingly polite approach to almost everything has paid off here. Australia has two large raw steel producers  but their output is down to a quarter of what it was.  And they produce less than 1% of world output. So the effect on Australian steelmakers and the coal and iron miners who supply them is likely to be minimal. 

Australia is however an aluminium superpower.  It is the world's largest producer of bauxite, the mineral used to produce aluminium.  And there are seven existing plants (alumina refineries) to do that conversion in Australia.  Alumina in turn is converted into aluminium in smelters and there are such smelters in Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria. So there may be a more significant advantage to Australia in aluminium

Mr Trump tweeted the announcement on Saturday morning after authorising new tariffs this week.

Mr Trump said he will not be imposing the tariffs on the 'great nation of Australia', fulfilling a promise he made to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull replied to Mr Trump's tweet, saying the pair had a 'great discussion on security and trade'.

The President said he was 'committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship'.

'Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel or aluminium tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia,' he said.

Earlier this week Mr Trump introduced a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium.

He had hinted that Australia along with Mexico and Canada may be exempted from the tariffs.

Mr Turnbull said the trade relationship between the US and Australia was 'fair and reciprocal, and each of our nations has no closer ally'.

'Thank you for confirming new tariffs won't have to be imposed on Australian steel and aluminium - good for jobs in Australia and in US.'

The announcement is the latest development in the growing relationship between Mr Trump and Mr Turnbull. It began in rocky circumstances when Mr Trump berated Mr Turnbull on a call days into his presidency for a 'stupid deal' his counterpart had struck with Barack Obama.

'I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer,' Mr Trump told Mr Turnbull, before reportedly hanging up the phone on him. Mr Trump described the phone call with Mr Turnbull as the 'worst' out of a series he made to foreign leaders after becoming president.

Mr Trump also seemed to refer to Mr Turnbull as 'Malcolm Trumble' when speaking about the Australian leader.

The frosty start to their working relationship seemed to thaw during Mr Turnbull's recent visit to Washington D.C.

Mr Trump signed the tariffs into law on Thursday, flanked by senior officials on one side and a group of steelworkers on the other.

'You are truly the backbone of America, you know that? You are very special people,' he told the blue collar contingent. 'We want a lot of steel coming into our country, but we want it to be fair and we want our workers to be protected.'

The president said his promises to factory workers were a big reason for his 2016 victory, complaining that American steel and aluminum workers have been betrayed – but 'that betrayal is now over.'

The Associated Press reported that every nation in the world will be able to petition the United States for exemptions to the tariffs.

A senior administration official said the national security underpinnings of the new policy were 'unassailable,' and clarified that the offer of loopholes would be somewhat limited

Mr Trump will 'allow any country with which we have a security relationship to discuss with the United States and the president alternate ways' of protecting America's interests, the official said, while cautioning that petitioning countries would have to prove that their steel and aluminum exports aren't harming America's national security capabilities. 


Tough school deputy head supported by the students

School authorities making mountains out of a molehill

The student who had his hair cut by a long-standing deputy principal of an elite private high school has revealed he never wanted he wanted him to be sacked.

A woman who claimed to be the boy's aunt told The Herald Sun they did not try to force Rohan Brown out of Trinity Grammar School in Melbourne. She also said that her nephew had been the target of bullying since the announcement of Mr Brown's dismissal and that the student and Mr Brown had sorted the issue out between themselves.

Students were seen passionately protesting the dismissal of Mr Brown, with one student claiming students and teachers alike were crying over it.

However despite more than 500 people signing an online petition to 'Bring Brownie Back' and parents threatening to withhold fees, the school is standing firm on its decision.

Principal Michael Davies said he would consult with advisors and leaders so that the school could provide more insight into the issue in the coming weeks.

Trinity Grammar School council chairman Roderick Lyle told parents on Thursday night Mr Brown had left the school. Mr Lyle said Mr Brown's actions were 'inconsistent with community expectations in this day and age', The Age reported.

It is understood Mr Brown cut a student's hair because it was too long on the school's photo day.

The school's policy is that hair must be off the collar.

'As a result, the school council was of the view that Mr Brown's leadership position at the school was no longer tenable,' the letter read. 'We are all very disappointed and deeply saddened by the situation.'

Mr Brown had worked at the school for almost 30 years, and said he was upset about what had happened. 'I would like to go back. It's a good school and this is tearing me apart. I can't comment further,' he said.

Former students said they believed the decision to sack Mr Brown was political.

'This was a school which produced well-rounded men who had an interest in the wider community not just their pay packets and status. The school is being destroyed,' a former Trinity Grammar student said.

Former teachers said there had been high staff turnover after current principal Michael Davies took the role in 2014. A teacher estimates 152 staff had left the school since then.

In his letter to parents, Mr Lyle said Mr Brown had served the school and had made a strong contribution.

An interim leadership structure has been put in place at the school while the council looked for a replacement for Mr Brown.


Jacinta Price says what few dare about Aboriginal culture and violence towards women and children

Soaked in blood, with nightclothes clinging to her skin in the thick, muggy heat, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price sprints to the nearest neighbour’s house and begs them to call the police. It is 7am, Darwin, 2008. Five months into a new relationship — the first since splitting with her high-school sweetheart and father of her three kids — and Price is bolting for her life.

Drugs and feral outbreaks of jealousy have broken the veneer of the honeymoon period. In the heat of the attack a lamp is hurled at her with such force that it leaves a gash requiring six stitches. “I looked at my hand, it was covered in blood and the blood was dripping down my shoulder,’’ Price recalls. “And I thought, ‘I have to get out of here because if I don’t get out of here, he’s going to kill me.’?”

She manages to make a run for it, out the door, feet slapping the driveway of the flats where she lives, across the road and into sanctuary. “I felt like the stereotypical Aboriginal woman victim of ­violence. And I felt really degraded,” Price says now. “Sitting in this stranger’s house, bleeding all over their floor and asking them to call an ambulance for me, and the police. I was just so glad that my kids weren’t there to witness that.”

The proud Warlpiri-Celtic woman peers at the bushland across the street from her mother’s place on the edge of the Alice Springs township. ­“Immediately there’s a stigma attached to a victim of family violence. And I felt it, straight away. And I felt like, ‘How could I let this happen to myself? Why didn’t I see this coming?’”

This would be the last time Jacinta Price would be a victim. She broke up with her boyfriend, roused her spirits and took a good hard look around her. In the mirror stood a clever young Territory woman with much to say — although it would take some years for her to articulate all that she’d seen and experienced since she was a tiny kid running through the potholed backstreets of Alice.

But soon she began to speak some uncomfortable truths. She lifted the veil on the murderers and rapists and victims in her own extended family and the kinship ties and “cultural excuses” that protect the perpetrators. She has been hailed as a fearless anti-violence warrior and at the same time has become a lightning rod for criticism. But once the lid was off she realised there was no turning back. Despite the vitriol, the scorn, the social media hate campaigns. No running away.

In a newspaper article, Price listed the diverse cultural mix in her own household: “I am half Warlpiri and a mixture of Irish, Scottish and Welsh. My sons are of Warlpiri, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Malay, Indian, French, African, Chinese, Scandinavian and ­German ancestry. My stepson is half Scottish and a quarter Mauritian. They are all 100 per cent ­Australian.” Her point? “Most of the self-identifying indigenous members of our community who claim to feel hurt by Australia Day being held on January 26 would also have white ancestors in their family trees and may not even have been born if the First Fleet hadn’t come.”

Price’s views have attracted the attention of some high-profile allies, including the one-time prime ministerial candidate turned anti-PC baiter Mark Latham, who enlisted her to take part in a televised Australia Day campaign. “I heard her speak at a conference in Brisbane last year and was very impressed by her practical but compassionate approach to the indigenous issues,” says Latham.

The cavalcade of abuse that dogged Price in the weeks following her involvement in the campaign was “horrendous”, says the one-time Labor leader. “The trolls hate her because she’s the sort of ­person that identity politics would normally applaud — an indigenous woman, an elected councillor from Central Australia. She’s got impeccable credentials for speaking on indigenous issues, but she’s not toeing the inner-city green line, and their only response is abuse and online hysteria.”

Latham understates nothing when speaking of how far he believes Price could travel in politics. In April, if she is successfully nominated to run for the Country Liberal Party in the sprawling ­Territory seat of Lingiari — which insiders say looks a done deal — she then has the chance to ride into the House of Representatives on the ticket at next year’s election. “I think Jacinta is the most impressive indigenous person that I’ve come across in the political sphere,” Latham says.

Conservatives across the nation latched onto the Price juggernaut following the intense Australia Day coverage. Asked if she trusts figures like Latham and others now hooked on her and her political ideologies, and whether they have her best interests at heart, she cautiously replies: “Trust is a strong word. I think there are people who are ­valuable to have in your network, put it that way. You need to surround yourself with ­people you trust. There are only a few people you can trust. I’ve learnt that most definitely. And never necessarily trust those who are throwing themselves at you and want to do things for you. Even if they say they don’t ­necessarily want something, there is always something that someone wants.”

By 2015, the younger Price was in the process of a political awakening. She realised she too was now in a position to start raising her voice. The seemingly endless chain of violence in her family led her to speak out. “I got to a point in my life where we had that many deaths in our family. We had that many women traumatised by family violence and children traumatised by family violence,” she says. “And this ‘growing up yapa [Aboriginal] way’ is always like, you don’t talk about the really tough things. You pretend like they don’t exist. You know there are members in your family who have beaten the crap out of your own aunty, who have raped people, and yet your family expects you to pretend that these people haven’t done those things. You’re supposed to turn a blind eye to that. And I think I got to a point where I went, ‘I’ve had enough of this’. And I became quite vocal.”

In lifting the veil from the largely taboo subject of Aboriginal community violence, Price’s star began to rise. She was hand-picked to deliver a couple of high-profile addresses to audiences at the National Press Club and the right-wing think tank the Centre for Independent Studies. In the latter, in 2016, she told the audience: ­“Aboriginal culture is a culture that accepts violence and in many ways desensitises those living the culture to violence.”

To the press club she admitted she had been placed under immense pressure to withhold parts of her story, saying she was putting her immediate family at risk of violent retaliation. “But why am I standing here if not to hold us all to account for the lack of responsibility, action and justice for these Aboriginal women and children and the thousands of ­victims of family violence and sexual abuse?” she said.

Prominent Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine says Price’s uncompromising stance on indigenous violence has never been more necessary. “It’s a voice we need to have in the parliament. Because the current situation is not working,” he says from Sydney Airport, where he is waiting for a flight to ­Darwin where he will meet members of the NT Government dealing with a child protection crisis after the alleged rape of a two-year-old Aboriginal toddler in Tennant Creek. “On the Closing the Gap figures, we’re spending something like $130 billion [in eight years to 2016] and we’re not really confronting the real issues,” Mundine says. “About the social breakdown and family dysfunction in some of these communities. And the alcohol and drugs and so on. So I think she’s spot on. The status quo is not working. We need new blood in there, we need someone to be disruptive and to shake it up so we start actually confronting and dealing with the issues.”

In her desert hometown, some have begun striking out against Price’s firebrand commentary. A perception that she hasn’t properly consulted with women in town camps and communities has added kindling to the blaze. In late January, a statement attributed to “the Aboriginal women of Central Australia” was read in the Alice Springs council chambers by indigenous councillor ­Catherine Satour, appearing to take aim directly at Price. “To be an Aboriginal leader it requires you to be appointed and recognised as such by the Aboriginal community,” the statement read. “As the Honourable Linda Burney MP so rightfully put: ‘Leadership in an Aboriginal cultural context is not given or measured by how much media you get or if you earn big money. True Aboriginal ­leadership does not come from high-level appointments or board membership. It doesn’t come from and cannot be given by white constructs. Leadership is earned; it is given when you have proven you can deal with responsibility and you understand that responsibility’.”

While Satour and others flatly deny the speech was pointed at Price, a heated stoush at the ­meeting’s conclusion suggests otherwise. Inflamed on social media beforehand, Price’s relatives showed up to defend her name. Price herself was a no-show, away in Sydney for unrelated business. White activists accompanied a group of Abori­ginal women supportive of the statement. The place was packed. While the meeting dragged on, a din erupted on the council lawns. A ­screaming match between Bess Price and other desert women had broken out, with insults hurled in English and Red Centre languages. The stoush hit fever pitch as Satour left the chambers. It is alleged that an uncle of Price’s stormed up and verbally assaulted the councillor. “Following this statement [being] read is now a matter for a police investigation as I and the Arrernte woman were abused and I was threatened with violence,” Satour says. Territory Police have confirmed a report was filed.

More HERE 

Broadcasters Withhold Important Information from the Australian Public Concerning Climate Change

Jennifer Marohasy

Australian politicians, and the media they sponsor, have been throwing their hands in the air and screaming unprecedented climate change – particularly over the last two weeks. A focus has been on the record number of new record hot days. But in all of this, there is no mention that the method used to actually measure hot days has changed.

This week’s Four Corners program began by interviewing Karl Braganza from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Braganza explained that it is really only since the 1990s that we have started to see the extreme heat. What he didn’t mention is that a totally new method of measurement came into effect on 1 November 1996 – with the transition continuing, so each new year, additional weather stations have their mercury thermometer replaced with an electronic probe taking one-second spot readings.

For example, the Bureau claimed a new record hottest day for September for the state of Victoria on 23 September 2017, which was actually a one-second spike from an electronic probe installed in June 2012. The Bureau reported this as the hottest September day back to 1889. Yet between 1889 and 1996 a completely different method was being used to measure maximum daily temperatures at Mildura.

According to the Guinness World Records, a record must be standardisable and verifiable. Yet the new record from Mildura was not measured according to world standards of calibration for the use of electronic probes which specifies that one-second readings be averaged over at least one minute. Meanwhile this questionable data is being used to justify ever more expenditure on Australia’s perceived climate catastrophe – without any questioning by leading Australian journalists Michael Brissenden or Sarah Ferguson, who presented Monday night’s program that lamented the new record hot days.

In not reporting that the incidence of “extreme heat” corresponds with a change in how maximum temperatures are measured, these two journalists, Brissenden and Ferguson, have withheld important information from the Australian public.

Given the new, very different, method of measuring temperatures, it would be assumed that there are dozens of reports published by the Bureau that document how comparable the measurements from electronic probes have proven at different locations, and under different conditions. Yet there are none!

The Bureau claims, when asked, that temperatures from its electronic probes and traditional mercury thermometers are comparable – without providing any actual evidence. My analysis of temperature data from Mildura indicates that there is a statistically significant different – with the first probe (in place from 1996 to 2000) recording too cool, and subsequent probes too warm relative to the mercury thermometer (often by up to 0.4 degrees Celsius).

I have been attempting to bring this to the attention of the media, particularly the ABC for some months. But their journalists turn-away. They don’t want any scrutiny of this much revered institution, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Even in the Australian parliament there is a closing-of-ranks. Rather than consider my evidence, Monday before last Senators Richard Di Natale and Anne Urquhart from the Australian Greens claimed that the questions I have been raising about the integrity of the temperature data amounted to ‘climate denial’ and harassment of the Bureau’s CEO, Andrew Johnson.

In reality, my few emails to Johnson have focused on the single issue of how temperatures are measured, which really has nothing whatsoever to do with denying climate change. Indeed, if we are to accurately quantify the magnitude of global warming, then the integrity of the temperature databases is paramount. Yet the number of documented anomalies continues to grow – as does the indifference of our political class.


Software gurus say Trans Pacific Partnership agreement still on the nose

The "Comprehensive & Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership"(CPTPP) was signed yesterday in Chile by representatives of the 11 remaining Parties, including Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism & Investment, Steve Ciobo, without the Commonwealth Government having commissioned any independent analysis or economic modelling of the treaty whatsoever.

On 21 February, DFAT released briefing material around CPTPP, including a TPP-11 background document entitled "Myth Busters: FACTS vs FICTION"[1]. Despite its attention-grabbing title, that document is anything but an objective analysis of CPTPP.
'The DFAT "Myth Busters" document is mostly a propaganda piece,' said OSIA Company Secretary Jack Burton, 'whilst there are some facts in it, they have been very carefully presented in a manner likely to mislead the reader on the true nature of the treaty.'

On four previous occasions\footnote[2,3,4,5], OSIA has called for the Commonwealth Government to commission independent analysis of TPP and modelling of its economic impact on Australia, by the Productivity Commission or any other suitable arms-length body.

In the past the ACCC[6], the Productivity Commission themselves[7] and even the Senate Standing Committee[8] have also called for the same thing. Those calls have all fallen on deaf ears.

'Following the signing of CPTPP yesterday we renew that call,' Burton continued, 'in the hope the Commonwealth Government will commission that critical, independent analysis & modelling prior to referring the revised treaty back to JSCOT & to the Senate Standing Committee.The highly partisan nature of the propaganda about CPTPP we are now seeing released by DFAT makes it even more crucial that Parliament and its various Committees be informed by objective analysis & modelling undertaken by a credible, independent Australian body, before making decisions on CPTPP.'

Interestingly, the first "myth buster" in the DFAT document seems to anticipate that very call. It begins by touting the Peterson Institute's forecast[9] of 0.5% growth in Australia's national income by 2030. The PIIE forecast seems extremely optimistic, given that in 2014 & 2016 (when the USA was still part of TPP so the potential export markets involved were far greater) the United States Department of Agriculture[10] forecast that TPP would have no measurable impact on Australia's GDP by 2025 and the World Bank[11] forecast TPP yielding only 0.7% growth in Australia's GDP by 2030.

Even if one accepts the most generous PIIE forecast of 0.5% growth by 2030, it is important to note that that 0.5\% is a gross figure. Annualised, that equates to a CAGR of only 0.042%.

'Such meagre growth forecases lie well within the usual margins allowed for error, so effectively CPTPP delivers no positive economic impact at all,' said OSIA Chairman Mark Phillips, 'the numbers just don't add up'.

What is far more concerning about the first "myth buster" though is that it claims that the PIIE forecast "underestimates the potential benefits of the TPP-11 because it mainly focused on tariff reductions", implying that the non-tariff measures in CPTPP were of greater economic benefit to Australia. In fact, the tariff reductions of Chapter 2 are the only part of TPP that is about free

'With the exception of Chapter 2, TPP seeks to proliferate a wide range of restrictions on trade and on all sorts of matters unrelated to trade, as we've pointed out many times before', said Burton. 'We cannot understand how DFAT could believe that such restrictions could possibly help "break down trade barriers" when such restrictions are in effect the exact opposite of free trade.'

Media release from OSIA

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, 2018

Brave man speaking out against laws ruining men's lives

An email from Bettina Arndt (

I want to introduce you all to a good friend, Augusto Zimmermann. Some of you may know him from his speech at the International Men’s Issues Conference last year (ICMI 2017

Augusto is a former Law Reform Commissioner for Western Australia. He’s a professor, an academic lawyer who has won many awards for his research and teaching. He spent ten years at Murdoch University, including a period as Associate Dean of the law school.

For the last few years this brave man has been speaking out against changes to the domestic violence laws in his state and also the role of AVO’s in family law battles.

Late last year he left Murdoch after finding himself increasingly uncomfortable about the feminist agenda being promoted in the law school. The new goal of the school is to promote social justice and particularly to support the role and legal standing of women. What a crazy way to train new lawyers.

My new video is a skyped chat with Augusto about all this. Here it is:

Please help me circulate this.

For those watching the video who want to learn more about the courageous stance he is taking on these issues, I will include a few links to articles he has written on domestic violence laws and family law:

Reform the Family Law Act to Protect the Innocent, Quadrant Magazine, Volume LXI, Number 11, No 541, October 2017.

The Menace of Family Violence Order, Quadrant Magazine, Volume LX, Number 10, November 2016,

Aged-care providers caught over ‘asset’ fee racket after court ruling

Tens of millions of dollars that large aged-care providers collected illegally from residents under the guise of an “asset refurbishment” fee will be repaid or forcibly refunded after a Federal Court decision barred the practice.

Two of the biggest listed providers — Regis Aged Care, which charged residents $15,000 each when they died or left care, and Japara — levied the charge even after the Department of Health warned in September 2016 that the practice was not supported by legislation.

The two listed companies have a combined market capitalisation of almost $2 billion.

Estia Health, which is also listed, stopped charging the fee after the Health Department intervention.

The full list of providers who built the fee into their contracts with residents may be much longer, because many did not disclose the charge on a federal government portal.

The Australian has confirmed that residents of family-owned McKenzie Aged Care were also hit with the charge for about two years. A spokeswoman for the organisation said the company would “abide by the court’s ruling” and money collected would be repaid. The chief executive had written to managers, but letters to families had yet to be sent out, the spokeswoman said.

The fee has been charged by large providers for capital investment or infrastructure “refurbishment” at a rate of about $16-$18 per resident, per day. Frequently, the money was for future projects that residents would never see completed.

Many large for-profit providers introduced the charge amid a budget squeeze on care funding, after $1.2bn was cut in the 2016 federal budget by tightening criteria for government subsidies. This cut was later remodelled as an indexation freeze, to save the same amount.

Regis sought an interpretation of the Aged Care Act from the Federal Court after the September 2016 bulletin from the Department of Health, hoping to clear the way for the fee and its revenue base. The company continued levying the charge in the meantime, but adjusted its profit forecast by the amount that would be collected in the event of an unfavourable finding.

On Friday, Federal Court judge Debra Mortimer found there was no legislative basis for any aged-care company to charge a fee for a service or infrastructure from which a resident would never benefit.

“There are no monetary limits on the level of such additional fees and charges, nor on how many of them a provider might impose,” Justice Mortimer said in her judgment.

“It is an additional price extracted by Regis from all who wish to enter one of its facilities.

“It is imposed as an integral part of any entry by a person to one of Regis’ facilities, on a take-it-or-leave-it basis,” the judge said. “It is not a fee from which the individual resident derives any benefit: it does not secure for the resident better living conditions, additional services or (for example) more one-on-one care.

“Regis’s senior counsel submitted that the market will regulate such matters, but as I have explained above, the way in which persons who need aged care are able to select which facility they enter is not necessarily ‘free’ in a market sense.

“Further, because on Regis’ contention these fees are simply a matter of private contract, there is no accountability or supervision to ensure that the moneys received under such fee arrangements are actually expended for the purposes for which they were levied. The secretary would have no power to inquire about this, as on Regis’ argument it is a matter outside the statutory scheme.”

Japara Healthcare, with a market capitalisation of more than $500 million, has not updated the Australian Securities Exchange since the judgment was handed down but conceded its “capital refurbishment charges” levied on residents would be affected.

“The company has disclosed its position in relation to its (capital refurbishment deduction) in the contingencies note in its June annual financial statements and 31 December 2017 half-year financial statements,” a spokeswoman said. “It is reviewing the decisions of the Federal Court as to its applicability to the company.”

The company said it had taken almost $4.3m in those fees since it began charging them and in its contingency note admitted it might need to repay them. “This may include ceasing to deduct CRDs and refunding CRDs previously deducted,” it said.

Analysts from UBS cautioned Japara was “likely to take a hit”.

“JHC management had ­suggested this fee was being wound down regardless of the court’s decision but we note a ramping trajectory of (CRD) revenue,” they said. They estimated a 9 per cent hit to net profit after tax.


‘Kill Climate Deniers’ – Now Showing at a Sydney Theatre

Jennifer Marohasy

JUST two generations back, in the 1960s, mainstream Australian society shunned both unmarried pregnant women and also homosexuals. They were loathed, and it would have been considered reasonable for the local police to turn-a-blind eye should misfortune befall members of either group – should they be killed.

In my opinion, human-beings are not naturally hateful, though powerful institutions often look to squash dissent by turning the tribe against groups with certain characteristics – particularly those likely to possess special knowledge.

The loathing of unmarried pregnant women and homosexuals back in the 1960s was a consequence of preaching, particularly by the Catholic Church. During this period the church, while preaching abstinence, employed thousands of priests active in the community, many of whom were secretly molesting young boys and girls. No doubt getting some of them pregnant, and grooming others to be their homosexual lovers. Key findings from the recent child sexual abuse royal commission include: abuse mostly occurred in religious institutions (58%), most victims were male (64%), most of those perpetrating the abuse were male (94%), the average age of the victims is now 53 years.

After some decades, finally, Australian society has woken-up and owned-up to this scandal. Times have changed, and unmarried pregnant women and homosexuals are now embraced.

It is my observation that homosexuality is now almost revered; at least by those who consider themselves progressive, trend-setters, supporters of the arts – our most virtuous. So, what does it say about this same group, that they now actively support hatred of so-called climate change deniers?

The arts community successfully sought government funding for a play entitled ‘Kill Climate Deniers’ that has just now opened at the Griffin Theatre in Sydney.

What special knowledge could so-called ‘climate deniers’ possess that would turn the now most virtuous in our society so against us – against my group.


Even if it is rubbish, religion should still be as free as possible

Despite some attempts to the contrary, it would be a mistake to treat the “Expert Panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion” as round two of the same-sex marriage debate. While the deep differences that lay behind it remain, everyone needs to realise that the legal discussion is well and truly over.

What is not over is the achievement of what chairman Philip Ruddock said was the purpose of the Expert Panel process: namely that freedom of religion must not only be enacted but “well understood and respected.“

Even those who might think religion is rubbish should still agree that it must be as free as possible. Of course, religious freedom cannot be absolute. It should be viewed in context with other competing rights and valid concerns over public health, safety, law and order, and issues of public morality.

But the issue of religious freedom — together with other freedoms of association, speech and the right to own property — is crucial to the health of our society and the flourishing of its people.

Not only does this give each individual freedom to hold and manifest their religion, but also such freedoms enable different and distinct voluntary societies and communities to maintain their identities — without which they could not exist. This in turn enriches civil society.

As things stand, there is considerable religious freedom in Australia. This is mostly due to Australia’s inheritance of the English tradition of unwritten rights and freedoms that are protected by custom and the common law.

Will this be sufficient to maintain such important freedoms in the future? Many, including the CIS, have submitted to the expert panel that the time may well be coming when we need to go a step further — to protect freedom of religion by the legal codifying and consolidating traditional freedoms and protections while at the same time not creating new rights or limiting existing protections.

Even if you aren’t a believer, everyone has a stake in a society that preserves the freedom of those who are. Liberty for those we don’t agree with is the true mark of genuine liberalism after all.


From the more obscure corners of Australia's Leftist media

A report on some recent emissions of Helen Razer, a mad Marxist with plaits and a figure

For much of the last decade, Helen Razer has been the staple diet of Crikey readers, a prolific author, and an occasional contributor to New Matilda.

But Australia’s most loved Marxist, and easily one of its best writers, is turning her attention back to the spoken word, with a new ‘occasional podcast’ that makes for highly entertaining listening on topics that generally make the average Australian’s eyes glaze over.

It also, as you might expect, features quite a few swear words.

Razer’s podcast opens thusly: “Welcome, this is an attempt to bring you a critique of the status quo in the FM breakfast radio style, hence the title Knackers and The Vadge.”

With the title – the most difficult bit – out of the way – Razer gets down to the hilariously serious business of skewering the things that bug her the most, in particular the evils of capitalism, and anyone who doesn’t agree with her about the evils of capitalism.

“My name is Helen Razer, it’s profoundly irrelevant, particularly in the present. I used to be a woman of modest prominence but am no longer, and I am tempted to do one or two of these new fangled podcast things, and surprisingly I find when I get onto a topic like the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, or the stupidity of Russiagate, or the false distinction between the so-called left and so-called right without anybody bothering to define those terms, that I go on and on and on.

Renowned Australian writer, Marxist and author, Helen Razer.
“What I lack is an authoritative male co-host to say ‘shut up Helen’. So what I’ve actually got here is a small bear called Knackers. I am The Vadge – refer to me as The Vadge from now on.”

In case you missed that, Razer is running a podcast with a ‘male host’ to keep her under control, who happens to be a stuffed animal. Only the Kyle and Jackie O show is remotely similar.

Razer then introduces her inaugural Knackers and The Vadge guest.

“Happily, after an afternoon of light to moderate drinking, I happen to be joined by my former flat-mate and a gentleman known to many Australians as Francis Leach, for his excellence in sports broadcasting, his musical snobbery, and his ongoing soft leftism that has been pleasuring the nation for many decades.”

Mr Leach obviously knows he’s in for a ride… and that’s precisely what he gets. The first episode of Knackers and The Vadge gives you the general flavor of where the podcast will head over time.

RAZER: Let’s talk about some personal shit shall we? Look, we’ve had a chandy or two. Okay. We’re talking largely out of our fundaments with little bits of ill-remembered history about the end of the Keynsian economic prescipriotns…

LEACH: John Maynard Keynes was a great man.

RAZER: Oh fuck off Francis.

LEACH: He was a great man.

RAZER: No! He was just somebody who wanted to save capitalism. And you and your soft leftie mates…

LEACH: Here we go. Let’s get down to it…

RAZER: You don’t believe that capitalism has internal contradictions which means that it’s a period of time that will inevitably end? I mean how many fucking lives does capitalism need to take? You look at conservative estimates like the world poverty foundation of annual deaths due to poverty (from capitalism)… the conservative estimate is 18 million a year. Any dictator, any economic regime that is not named capitalism that you can think of in the history of meaning, has not claimed as many lives as capitalism. We think about this time of over-abundance, where you get fucking molecular chefs talking about how they might be able to 3-D print an appetizer for our delectation and you’re telling me that we can’t get clean water?”

It gets even better from there… indeed Leach fights back quite admirably. All up, the best Australian political podcast going around.

So over to Razer and Leach… and Knackers and The Vadge, and we’ll keep you updated on episode two, when Razer next hits the piss.


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, 2018

Integration is key to Australia’s successful migrant story

Alan Tudge, below, is broadly right about the high level of integration of immigrants into Australian society. It is a great success story. But he speaks as if ALL migrants integrate well.  Musims and Africans do not -- and the prospects of improvement there seem slim. 

He makes such probably correct statements as "There is almost no difference between the unemployment rates of Australia’s migrants and those born here".  That is largely because our largest minority group by far is Han Chinese.  They are great workers and very enterprising.  Look at the picture for Muslims however and you see heavy welfare dependancy

Blurring of significant distinctions is a form of deception so it is regrettable that a Federal government minister has resorted to it.  Tudge does however seem to be drawing heavily on the latest Scanlon report, which is little more than pro imigrant propaganda.  See here for instance. So Tudge should be more wary of his sources

Australian multiculturalism is different to what is termed multiculturalism in other (particularly European) nations because of our strong emphasis on integration.

That means a person who comes here shares our values, engages in the community and has full rights to government services. In exchange, they must obey the law, participate in and uphold democratic principles, and support other Australians. These things are the glue to building trust between all citizens and consequently help foster social cohesion.

With integrated multiculturalism, there is shared responsibility. The existing population must open its arms to newcomers and the newly arrived have responsibilities to do their best to participate fully in our society.

This model of integrated multiculturalism is different to an “assimilationist” model or a “separatist” model. Assimilation is the idea that we must abandon our cultural and religious heritage and all become the same. We don’t expect or want that in Australia. But where there are conflicts in cultural behaviours, Australian law and values must prevail.

On the other hand, a separatist model of multiculturalism is the opposite to assimilation, and is when people bring their entire practices, languages and cultures and plant them in the new land, with little desire to share or mix with their local community. They live side by side, rather than merged with, the existing population. While not the stated policy intent of Europe, the impact of its policies has been precisely this in some places.

The successful Australian model is one of integration, not assimilation and not separatism.

Our success in integrating people over the decades is evidenced by the 2015 OECD Indicators of Immigrant Integration report. It finds, for example, that we have the third lowest rate of overseas-born unemployment of all 34 OECD countries surveyed.

 There is almost no difference between the unemployment rates of Australia’s migrants and those born here, whereas across the OECD migrants had an unemployment rate that was 2.6 percentage points higher than non-migrants.

Migrants here do better than the Australian-born population in education attainment. Migrant parents want to secure success for their children, in large part through education. Poverty rates among children of migrants are low and home ownership is similar to that of the Australian-born population.

Migrants here have generally participated, succeeded and contributed to our nation.

What is particularly remarkable, however, is that Australia’s success at integration has occurred despite a rate of migration that is much higher than elsewhere — 28 per cent of the total Australian population is born overseas, the third highest in the OECD.

There is, however, no room for complacency. The challenges to successful integration are perhaps greater than in previous decades, and there are indicators we are not doing as well as we once did.

The challenges are greater due to the size of the diasporas, diversity of the migration intake and availability of technology.

In past decades, for example, despite the initial challenges of settling in a new country, new migrants interacted with the existing population through work, school and elsewhere because their diasporas were relatively small.

They tended to maintain less regular contact with their country of origin because of the cost of travel and communications. Today, diasporas can be larger, making it easier for the new migrant to settle initially, but possibly limiting their external interactions.

Technology means a person can communicate easily and cheaply with their birth country or within their diaspora. Today, a person can more easily live here within a language and cultural bubble.

The data also suggests that our success in integrating new migrants has waned. For example, there is an increasing geographic concentration of the overseas-born population. In some respects, there is nothing new about concentrations of newly arrived migrants but the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion report suggests this is getting more pronounced. Further, a very high proportion of those born overseas is often aligned with a considerable absence of English capability.

The 2016 census, for example, shows 24 per cent of the people who arrived between January and August that year reported they did not speak English well or at all. This compared with 18 and 19 per cent respectively in the 2006 and 2011 censuses.

The Scanlon Foundation also highlighted the relatively high level of negative feeling towards Muslims, in part “fed by the reality — and the heightened perception — of radical rejectionism of Australia’s secular democratic values and institutions within segments of the Muslim population”.

These challenges are real and we must be alert to them, but they are not insurmountable. We need to work hard at integration by stamping out any remnants of racism, but also by setting higher expectations for those who want to call Australia home. With rights come responsibilities. Ultimately, this will ensure the migrant has the best opportunity to succeed — and it is essential for the ongoing success of our multicultural nation.


Some Sydney schools lifting their NAPLAN results

Fundamentalist Christian school does well

While declining or flatlining NAPLAN results have become a cause for concern, one tiny school in Sydney's west has bucked the trend to improve its scores dramatically in both literacy and numeracy.

The latest NAPLAN results showed the proportion of students meeting national minimum standards in all domains has flatlined or declined for most year groups, and were described as a "wake-up call" by federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

However, Christadelphian Heritage College in Kemps Creek is one of 81 schools in NSW, and 330 across Australia, that have been identified by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) as showing significant NAPLAN gains in literacy or numeracy, and one of the few schools to improve in both.

The school's principal Felicity Shields said intervening before students start kindergarten and extensive profession development for teachers were the major factors behind its success in the standardised tests, which all Australian students sit in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

"We have a transition class in term four before kindergarten starts, where students come in one day a week for that entire term," Mrs Shields said.

"They just have a normal school day but it allows us to see if there are any early things like hearing and speech we need to work on before they even start school."

Mrs Shields said year 11 and 12 students also provided mentoring and homework help for younger students at lunchtime every day, and teachers had a special focus on "character, learning and teamwork" in the classroom.

"I think our environment and culture and their attitude towards school flows through; we have very high attendance and great participation," Mrs Shields said.


Some recent notes from Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef

Nothing like the disaster area that the Greenies predicted

The Great Barrier Reef’s resilience has been mightily challenged and it narrowly escaped being placed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in Danger last year. The one-two punch of Cyclone Ita in April 2014 and Cyclone Nathan just one year later left Lizard Island reeling. A coral bleaching event in the summer of 2016, resulting from a number of marine heatwaves on top of an already elevated sea temperature, dealt it a further blow.

Yet the reef displays a remarkable ability to regenerate and flourish. “There are a lot of people here studying recovery from disaster, and things are coming back after the cyclones and the bleaching,” Dr Anne Hoggett tells me during an afternoon tour of the research station.

She and her husband, Dr Lyle Vail, were appointed directors of the facility in 1990 and Anne has been working on the Lizard Island field guide, a constantly evolving resource detailing more than 7000 different ­species. “I think you could multiply that number of species by at least five, and people are discovering new ones here all the time,” she says.

Back at Clam Gardens, the cuttlefish has found a mate. Diaphanous skirts rippling, the pair frills up the side of a sherbet-coloured bommie, a ­stand-alone coral outcrop that’s been split like a watermelon by one of the recent cyclones. It looks like a tragedy, until Penny points out the crack has merely increased the surface area of the bommie and that the polyps, like busy little construction workers, are already starting to build on the ­foundations of their ancestors.

Drifting over the columns and canyons of reef we spy several ­thickets of staghorn coral, their tips a spark of pale, luminescent blue. “It’s nice to see,” Penny says, ­surfacing with a smile. “It’s encouraging.”


Victoria firefighters get 99 days of sick leave and personal leave

A militant union leader is given all he wants

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has defended a new workplace agreement awarding firefighters up to 99 days of personal and sick leave a year and other extravagant perks, saying “you can’t pay them enough”.

The Premier and Deputy Premier James Merlino have stood by the state’s new Metropolitan Fire Brigade enterprise bargaining agreement, which is due to be voted on by fireys this Friday.

Analysis of the document by the Herald Sun revealed provisions which allow fireys to be absent on pay for up to 196 days a year, in addition to other generous perks and allowances such as a second-language allowance of more than $1200 a year.

Firefighters will receive a pay rise of 19 per cent over five years, and will have access to other provisions including “pressing necessity” leave which means they can take up to four days off at any time if a family member is sick or injured.

The Opposition has slammed the agreement for “not passing the pub test” while other critics have voiced persistent reservations that powerful veto clauses award too much control to the United Firefighters Union.

Mr Andrews this morning batted away suggestions the deal was too generous, and described the deal as a fair and reasonable outcome for professionals who put their lives on the line every day.

“I make no apology for awarding firefighters. After all, they leave their families to run toward the danger to keep my family and every Victorian family safe,” Mr Andrews said. “When you need a firefighter, you can’t pay them enough.”

He called the agreement “fair [and] appropriate” and said that some of the analysis of the total package went far beyond reasonable assumptions that had been relied upon to draft it.

“I think we’ve seen a situation where every single entitlement has been added together to give an impression which I don’t think, doesn’t really stand up,” Mr Andrew said.

“You’ve always got to look at the assumptions behind everything, and I think the assumptions have been, well, anyway, they speak for themselves.”

The deal comes at the end of more than five years uncertainty for the state’s firefighters who have been in limbo as the government has attempted to nut out a new workplace agreement between the MFB, the Country Fire Authority and the United Firefighters Union.

As the government has worked to ease tensions between warring parties, it has been forced to fight challenges on a separate front with persistent allegations of bullying, harassment and rampant sexism throughout ranks of the state’s firefighting forces.

The government has tasked the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to compile a report into the bullying and harassment allegations, which has not been released.

Leaked details of the report — which the UFU is attempting to block — revealed issues with bullying, “everyday sexism” and a “hyper- masculine culture” in the MFB.

On Tuesday, a government statement said that the new enterprise agreement and other measures to boost diversity in the services would help tackle the bullying issue.

“There have already been a number of significant reviews that have shown serious cultural and diversity issues within Victoria’s fire services — and that’s why we are delivering on reforms to our fire services,” a government spokesman said.

Other generous provisions in the deal include a generous sign on bonus of $3000.

With regard to the new “pressing necessity” leave entitlement which means fireys can take up to four days leave each time a family member takes ill or needs care, the definition of “immediate family” has also been expanded to include niece and nephews.

There are questions surrounding whether a new “after hours disturbance” allowance would allow fireys for answering or receiving emails while they are not rostered on.

Deputy Premier James Merlino said the deal would cost around $150 million during its lifetime.

He was unable to reveal what proportion of that total was made up by overtime provisions.

Already, the government is facing scrutiny on whether the agreement could serve as a blueprint for other emergency services to get more generous pay deals.

When asked if paramedics and police and other emergency services workers deserved the same conditions, Mr Andrews said that the government had already presided over a “very significant pay rise” for ambulance paramedics.

“I’m very pleased for us all to be reminded that we’ve given very significant pay rises to our ambulance paramedics, fair and balanced pay rises and legislated nurse to patient ratios to our nurses and our midwives,” Mr Andrews said.

“Rather than promising and then failing to deliver for our teachers ... we have negotiated in good faith with our teachers, our police ... it’s a long list.”


‘Everyone has lost the plot’: Press Club lost in International Women’s Day hysteria


I’m not a big fan of International Women’s Day. What’s the message: that women’s issues are irrelevant during the other 364 days of the year?

And let’s face it, there is an international day for just about everything under the sun — puppetry, laboratory animals, Star Wars, tuberculosis, migratory birds, oral health, cancer, tourism, hand washing and, my personal favourite, vasectomy, among others. The International Day of [fill in the gap] brand has been seriously degraded.

But if International Women’s Day is to mean anything, it surely means that women want to be judged in the same way as men. No special treatment, rather merit-based assessment irrespective of gender.

Sure, there is a useful discussion to be had about how merit is defined and measured and whether there are some implicit biases that impact on assessments. But gender equality must mean women and men working side-by-side, in respectful and constructive ways. Feminism is not hatred of men.

So how could it be that a male journalist was treated so discourteously by the Press Club crowd — overwhelmingly female, by the way — when he posed a political question to Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek?

To be sure, the question was not about women’s issues. By the way, if I had been there, I wouldn’t have asked her about a question about women’s issues. The answer would have been predictable and high-level.

It was too good an opportunity for journalists to seek out the views of a senior politician on an important and current political issue — in this case, Labor’s wavering support for the Adani coal mine.

And let’s face it, Plibersek is no single-issue politician. She is perfectly adept at addressing, but not answering, a politically tricky question if needs be. You know the sort of thing — I’m glad you asked me that question (although she didn’t have the grace yesterday to preface her answers to the serious questions posed by the journalist), on the one hand and on the other, blah, blah, blah.

In fact, Plibersek might have been well-advised to stick to topics other than women’s issues because she demonstrated an alarming ignorance about economics when she dealt with the gender pay gap. But I guess economics has never been her strong suit.

And let’s not forget that women workers exhibit consistently higher levels of job satisfaction than male workers. Now that could have been the basis of an interesting question to Plibersek, be it posed by a female or male journalist.

Let me just put it out there: I think everyone has lost the plot. To be sure, some women are treated shabbily in the workplace. But some men are too. Women and men should unite to ensure that workplaces are civil and positive places rather than women waging a dubious us-versus-them campaign where it is entirely possible that women will come off second-best.


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, 2018

Kangaroo court for Cardinal Pell

I am no Catholic but I can see that this is a travesty of justice.  "Victims" are allowed to testify entirely in private, with no opportunity to see them, let alone have their allegations tested in court by counsel.  They are given that license because this is an enquiry not a trial but that is a distinction with ltttle difference.  If the enquiry uses it dubious "evidence" to conclude that a trial is justified, people will take it as evidence of guilt akin to a court verdict. 

And when we hear that the alleged transgressions happened 40 years ago and have come to light only now, it is clear that the procedings are thoroughly corrupt.  That Pell is a very conservative priest has to be relevant.  He had to be "got"

The alleged victims of the most prominent Catholic Church leader to be accused of sex abuse began testifying in Australian court via video link Monday.

Australian authorities charged Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ former finance minister, in June 2017 with sexually abusing multiple people several years ago in his Victoria home. Pell began facing his alleged victims’ testimonies Monday. They testified in court via video link from an undisclosed locations so as to avoid media attention surrounding the courtroom, the Associated Press reported. The testimonies are expected to continue for up to two weeks.

The alleged victims’ names and number have not been released to the public, and their in-court testimonies are being kept private. Authorities have also withheld specific allegations against Pell from the public — noting only the sexual assault charges are “historical,” meaning Pell allegedly committed the acts decades ago.

Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter, had no objections to the prospect of the complainants testifying via video. Richter did, however, question the rationale for allowing one of the alleged victims to testify with a support dog present, saying, “I always thought that dogs were for children and very old people,” according to AP.

“No,” Magistrate Belinda Wallington replied. “They’re also there for vulnerable and traumatized people.”

Richter also questioned why Pell would not be able to appear in court with a priest’s support. Richter argued Pell’s age and medical problems were adequate reasons Pell should be allowed to appear in court with personal support.

The prosecution “has an objection to that support person being a priest, although I can’t understand that,” Richter told Wallington.

Abuse victims and their advocates cheered the charges against Pell as a sign authorities were becoming more responsive to the voices of the abused. Pell, however, has denied all charges and intimated he will enter a not-guilty plea if put before a jury trial. Pell’s lawyers argued in February the complainants were inspired to bring accusations against Pell not by trauma but by news of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and its 2016 inquiry concerning Pell.

Pell’s first accuser came forward 40 years after the alleged crimes in 2015 and was prompted to do so via reports of the inquiry, the lawyers noted.

Pope Francis has not forced Pell to resign and has not passed any judgement on Pell, saying he will wait for the Australian judiciary to complete their justice process and come to a conclusion his input has not influenced. Pell, for his part, said he will continue his work in ministry and in the church’s finances after the case is resolved.


Kangaroo meat industry slams documentary for 'crazy' claims that the native animals' numbers are plummeting in Australia

The Kangaroo meat industry is up in arms over a documentary that claims the native animals are a 'disappearing resource' in Australia, even comparing them to 'rhinos, tigers, cheetahs and whales'.

The documentary, currently making its way across Europe and the US, shows activists mourning the lives of kangaroos shot in the outback and asks 'how did we get so hoodwinked into believing it was OK to kill our national icon?'.

The documentary called Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story, has enraged the peak body for kangaroo harvesters, with top researchers slamming it as 'dangerous' and a 'major disservice to Australia and the welfare of kangaroos'.

The documentary, which will premiere in Sydney next week, uses 'shock tactics' to ask if harvesting kangaroos is unethical.

The documentary gives voice to a range of people including animal rights activists who claim the industry is 'cloaked in secrecy' and 'local extinction and regional extinction has happened'.

In 2016 there were almost 45 million kangaroos in Australia, almost double the human population
In 2010 there were about 27 million
In 2007 there were 23 million

Government data shows the population neared 50 million in 2017
These claims have been rubbished by ANU College of Science Dr George Wilson, who has worked on kangaroo management for 45 years.

'The film's full of beautiful looking red kangaroos and it pulls at the heartstrings. That affects me just as much as anyone else, but how it relates to population ecology I don't know,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday.

'A lot of these animals are killed every year, but it's not at all connected to whether they're threatened. There are 600 million chickens killed per year, are they seriously going to suggest chickens are in danger?'

If the film gained traction, and brought the production of kangaroo meat to a halt, Dr Wilson (right) said it would have a devastating impact on the welfare of Australia's kangaroo population

If the film gained traction, and brought the production of kangaroo meat to a halt, Dr Wilson said it would have a devastating impact on the welfare of Australia's kangaroo population.

'If this animal rights mob shut it down, populations will get higher and higher to the point they starve to death, and die out during the drought,' he said.

'They're doing themselves, Australia and the kangaroos a major disservice. 'These people are really concerned about animals, so am I, but they're completely off the wall.'

Dr Wilson said the filmmakers were jeopardising the welfare of kangaroos, and hoped viewers could look past the 'shock factor' and 'emotion' of the documentary.

'It's hard to imagine a more animal friendly meat,' he said.

National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson backed Dr Wilson and said the industry was one of the most humane.

'It is inconceivable to think that anybody would see the humanity in allowing hundreds, possibly thousands of kangaroos die a prolonged and painful death caused by starvation and dehydration, while rallying against a pain-free and instant option available via the controlled, regulated culling,' she told The Australian.

Not only could the film jeopardise the welfare of kangaroos, locals claim it could devastate outback towns and enterprises.

Brad Bales and Chantalle Allwood, who work at a Queensland processing factory, said 'it'd be a shock to the community if it shut down'.

'I've seen the industry through droughts, floods… it's the non-professional shooters, the city people who think they can make money out of it, who ruin it for a lot of people,' Mr Bales told The Australian.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon travelled to Belgium on Monday to help promote the film in Europe, where Australia exports 1780 tonnes of kangaroo meat funnelling more than $10 million into Australia's economy.

'We will use the evidence to show that kangaroos are in trouble,' Senator Rhiannon said in a statement on Monday. 'There's a big question mark over the data the government uses… I've called for kangaroo protection; what we want is accurate research. '(Near extinction) is a risk, and that's why we need to be responsible.'

The documentary will premiere in Australia in Sydney next Tuesday.


More African vibrancy in Melbourne

A YOUNG couple’s defence with a baseball bat of a terrifying suburban home invasion by a gang of armed teenagers has been caught on dramatic CCTV video footage.

The brazen house robbery, carried out by four youths of African appearance carrying hammers, is the ninth home invasion in just 16 days in what appears to be a Melbourne crime wave.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, Gavin Fry and his fiancee Leah Meurer were asleep in their house in the north-western Melbourne suburb of Kings Park.

It was just before 1am, when four males aged in their teens and wearing hoodies kicked down the couple’s back door.

They entered the couple’s bedroom and, shining a light on Mr Fry and Ms Meurer, they said “give us the money, give us the money” and demanded they hand over their car keys, Nine News reported.

“So two of them have entered our bedroom with torches ... one of them had a hammer and they were demanding cash,” Leah Meurer told Radio 3AW.

Mr Fry fended off the two youths, who tried to fight him back, from the bedroom and the couple managed to barricade themselves inside.

But Ms Meurer was forced to defend the door as Mr Fry dialled triple-0.

In a terrifying few seconds, she had her body weight against the door while the gang began to smash it with the hammer to force their way back in.

Mr Fry grabbed a baseball bat and, with “fear and shock turned to anger”, he decided “I’m going to get them out of my house”.

Chasing the youths down the path, he saw them prepare to steal two cars.

Mr Fry approached the driver’s side and bashed at the window with his bat, which broke.

When the robbers took off in the cars, Mr Fry went back inside to help his fiancee who later broke down as they waited for police to arrive.

Speaking to The Australian, Mr Fry said he and Ms Meurer were “just completely shaken, beside ourselves, traumatised, we don’t feel safe staying in the house.

“It’s disgusting, these kids ... have no regard for anything.”

Victorian Police may know who the criminals are and told The Australian that “repeat offenders” were often involved in aggravated burglaries.

About 18 months ago, police say one group of armed robbers committed up to nine offences in a row.

The latest wave of home invasions began on February 14, when a man had a knife held to his throat as a gang raided his apartment in Albion.

On a second attack in Albion at 1.30am on February 27, a woman had a knife held to her throat while she slept by her son.

Six of the latest crime spree have happened in north-western Melbourne suburbs, including one in Saint Albans, one each in Kings park and neighbouring Taylors Hill, and the Albion attacks.

The others took place in Bayswater in inner western Melbourne, the beachside suburb of Brighton and at Skye in the south-west.


Super union gets green light

The Turnbull government and employer groups have failed in an attempt to derail the merger of the militant national construction and maritime unions into a new super union.

The Fair Work Commission on Tuesday approved the controversial merger of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, the Maritime Union of Australia, and the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia.

Fair Work Commission deputy president Val Gostencnik rejected employer arguments that legal proceedings in relation to alleged workplace and contempt of court breaches by the unions prevented the merger. He was satisfied the unions had fulfilled all other requirements for the merger under the Registered Organisations Act.

However, he stressed his decision should not be interpreted as any kind of approval of the unions' conduct. "Lest it be said that, by discharging my duties under statute which I am bound to do by my oath of office and by law, I condone any of the conduct for which any of the applicant organisations or various of their officials have been held to account by the courts, nothing could be further from the truth," Mr Gostencnik said.

"On no view can it be said that the conduct is acceptable and judicial officers have, particularly over recent years, been unanimous in the strong and unequivocal language used to describe and condemn some of the conduct."

Federal Court judges have blasted the CFMEU's abusive conduct on construction sites and "deplorable" history of breaking workplace laws for which it has been fined millions of dollars.

Employer groups on Tuesday said the creation of a super union "put the economy and jobs in jeopardy” and flagged they would appeal the merger decision.

The federal government had hoped to block the merger with new laws that would impose a "public interest test" for union mergers - something that was scrapped by Labor.

But the Ensuring Integrity Bill has stalled in the Senate, where it is opposed by Labor and the Greens. The government insisted the measures were not aimed at blocking this merger in particular, but the opposition and Greens believe they were.

Workplace Minister Craig Laundy said under the current legal regime the Fair Work Comission "had no option" but to fix the merger date of March 27.

"The government remains of the view that any proposed merger of registered organisations with significant economic power should be subjected to a public interest consideration in the same way that the merger of companies with significant economic power would be," he said.

Mr Laundy said it was "not unreasonable" for the commission to ask if it was in the best interests of the country to have several law-breaking unions consolidate their power.

"It is now up to the union officials to work co-operatively and within the law to ensure the best interests of all its members and the country are represented under the new arrangements," Mr Laundy said.

The new union will have over $310 million in assets and annual revenue of nearly $150 million, according to documents submitted to the court.

CFMEU national secretray Michael O’Connor said the new union - which will have 144,000 members - would be fighting to "restore the fair go" and would focus on turning the country around through a change of government.

"Business has too much power, we have record levels of inequality in our community, and working families are finding it hard to make ends meet," he said.

“It’s time for big business to stop riding on the coat-tails of everyday working Australians, time the banks stopped ripping people off, and time for every business in this country to pay tax. Nearly 700 big corporations pay no tax, which is a national scandal.

“We are absolutely committed to a change of government, to changing the rules to restore balance and fairness into our communities, and to growing our movement."

But the Master Builders Association said the merger would "put the economy and jobs in jeopardy”.  "The creation of a militant 'super union' is a backwards step that will have far-reaching consequences for the construction industry and the community,” chief executive Denita Wawn said.

“No government – Labor or Coalition – would allow a corporate merger which resulted in the formation of an entity with the capacity to shut down multiple supply chains and effectively hold the economy to ransom. But this is exactly what this decision will create."

Resources and energy group the Australian Mines and Metals Association said it would continue to fight the Fair Work Commission's decision. “AMMA, with the backing of the Master Builders Association, will be assessing our options to protect Australian industry and jobs, following today’s decision. We have no option but to do all we can to try and prevent this impending disaster for Australians,” AMMA director workplace relations, Amanda Mansini, said.

The Victoria International Container Terminal is currently suing both the CFMEU and the MUA for potentially more than $100 million over an alleged illegal waterfront picket line that blockaded a major container terminal at the Port of Melbourne for more than two weeks late last year.

The new super union will hold its first meeting in Melbourne on Friday.


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, 2018

Australia must STOP immigration to 'help first-time buyers break into the housing market and not be reliant on their parents'

Australia's historically high level of immigration has been blamed for making housing ridiculously unaffordable.

With Sydney's median house price hovering above $1.1 million, a major report fears Australia will become a 'less equal society' if the nation continues to accept more than 200,000 immigrants a year.

The Grattan Institute think tank cites high immigration and foreign investment as key reasons why Australia has some of the world's least affordable housing.

It said people who worked hard were no longer able to afford a house in Sydney or Melbourne unless they had help from their parents.

'Owning a home increasingly depends on who your parents are, a big change from 35 years ago when home ownership rates were high for all levels of income,' report authors John Daley and Brendan Coates said.

'Housing is contributing to widening gaps in wealth between rich and poor, old and young. 'Lower income households are spending more of their income on housing, and are under more rental stress.'

Australian house prices have doubled in real terms, adjusted for inflation, during the past 20 years.

Wages have also stagnated with full-time workers on an average $81,600 salary struggling to save for a 20 per cent mortgage deposit.

However, the report said the situation was even worse in Australia's two biggest cities.

Since 2012, house prices have climbed by 50 per cent in Melbourne, and 70 per cent in Sydney, taking median house prices to $900,000 and $1.1 million respectively.

The steep climb in house prices has also coincided with Australia's net annual immigration rate soaring above 200,000 in 2012, when skilled migrants and refugees were factored in.

Under the Howard government in 2002, Australia's net annual immigration rate climbed above 100,000, which was significantly higher than the 20th century average of 70,000. 

'Strong population growth, both from natural increase and overseas migration, has increased demand for housing and contributed to the increase in dwelling prices, particularly in our major cities,' the report said.

'The population has grown particularly rapidly over the past decade, after immigration jumped in the mid-2000s.'

Australia's population rose by 3.8 million between 2006 and 2016, with immigration into New South Wales and Victoria at record levels since 2008.

During that time, Melbourne's population climbed from 3.6 million to 4.5 million while Sydney's population grew by 700,000 to 4.6 million.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics predicts the national population will jump from 24.8 million now to 38 million by 2050.


'It's okay to break the law if it's unfair': Australia's most senior union leader likens illegal industrial strikes to opposing Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany

She's actualy a nobody so not worth listening to

Australia's most senior union leader has likened illegal strikes to dissidents breaking the law in Nazi Germany.

A year after suggesting it was okay to disobey the law, Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus doubled down on her controversial comments - this time with a reference to Adolf Hitler.

'It is a fundamental part of democracy that if a law is unjust, or if it's unfair, it is okay in some circumstances to not follow it,' she told the ABC News channel on Sunday.

'It's a basic principle that people have taken throughout the world; in Nazi Germany in a whole lot of places.'

Ms McManus' likening of trade unionists to dissidents in Nazi Germany, during the 1930s and 1940s, comes three days after left-wing Labor senator Kim Carr compared a blond, Liberal senator James Paterson to the Hitler Youth.

In her latest ABC TV interview, the ACTU boss was asked about telling 7.30 host Leigh Sales in March 2017 'I don't think there's a problem' with breaking the law.

When the ABC's National Wrap host Patricia Karvelas pointed out 'we don't live in Nazi Germany', Ms McManus defended last year suggesting industrial law breaking was justified.

'We don't but it was a general question asked of me,' she said.  'And it was also asked in the context of industrial action.'

She said breaking the law to go on strike was a fundamental human right, even if the industrial action wasn't sanctioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

'Quite often we are accused of breaking laws because sometimes workers choose to withdraw their labour and we believe that's a fundamental human right,' Ms McManus said.

Her comments come a month after the militant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union was fined a record $1 million for engaging in an illegal secondary boycott of concrete supplier Boral at construction sites in Melbourne.

The CFMEU, which has close links in Victoria to federal Labor leader Bill Shorten, has a history of breaking the law.

In 2015, the Federal Court ordered Australia's largest building union to pay $400,000 in fines over acts of intimidation and coercion at a government housing project construction site in Brisbane.


Mankind, guys, love and darling: The 'gender-inappropriate' words Qantas has banned its staff from using

Australian airline Qantas has told staff to use 'gender appropriate' terms and avoid saying 'husband and wife' because it may offend the LGBTI community.

Qantas' People and Culture group executive Lesley Grant issued an information booklet detailing how to make employees feel more comfortable at work in line with the airline's Spirit of Inclusion month, The Daily Telegraph reported.

It asks employees to stop using words such as 'honey, darling and love' because they have the capacity to offend.

It also advises staff to use 'partner' instead of husband and wife, and 'parents' instead of mum and dad because it could exclude LGBTI families.

The pack asks Qantas workers to not use gender-inappropriate terms such as mankind or fireman.

The information states: 'Language can make groups of people invisible. For example, the use of the term chairman can reinforce the idea that leaders are always men.'

'Words like love, honey or darling, even when used as terms of endearment, often offend. In the workplace, it is best to avoid these sorts of words.'

Ms Grant told staff she wants the work environment at Qantas to be a place 'everyone feels comfortable to bring their whole selves to work'.

The material was produced by the Diversity Council of Australia, Qantas told The Daily Telegraph.


Labor signals plan to dump 'punitive' work for the dole program

Ed Husic has said that work for the dole is “punishing people for not being in work” rather than helping them find a job in a sign Labor is preparing to dump the program if elected.

Labor’s employment services spokesman has ramped up his rhetoric against work for the dole after evidence in Senate estimates that 73% of participants did not have a job three months after completing the work-readiness program.

Work for the dole employs job seekers for up to 25 hours a week for six months a year as a form of mutual obligation to continue receiving the dole. The program expanded under the Coalition from 47,000 places in 2014 to 111,000 in 2016.

On Sunday Husic told ABC’s Insiders the $600m program had “serious question marks over its performance and, in particular, whether or not it’s safe”.

“We need to ensure that we get young Australians working, not putting them through a program that clearly has either got an issue with its safety or an issue ultimately as to whether or not it’s putting people into work, skilling them up, getting them ready for jobs.”

Husic and the Australian Unemployed Workers Union have been campaigning for the release of a report into the death of work for the dole participant Joshua Park-Fing in Toowoomba in April 2016.

Husic cited that case and incidents of young people being exposed to asbestos, claiming that departmental audits had found work for the dole work sites were not safe.

The government maintains that the rates of injury incidents on the program are lower than across the economy as a whole.

Husic said that would be cold comfort to the families of children exposed to asbestos and argued young people feel they can’t make safety complaints for fear of losing their welfare payments.

Husic said that Labor is “absolutely committed to mutual obligation”. “We want to ensure that young people are not sitting on their hands. They don’t want to be sitting on their hands, they want to be put to work.”

Mutual obligations include training, developing a job plan, applying for jobs and attending meetings with employment service providers.

Signalling an intention to replace work for the dole, Husic said that a “future program” would retain mutual obligation so that job seekers are skilling themselves up and getting ready for work.

Husic said that 70% of work for the dole participants “don’t get themselves into jobs just months after being in it”. He said it “has been a useful program” in the past because Labor ran it “with a focus on skilling people up and in particular for those job seekers that haven’t had any work experience whatsoever”.

“The way it is being managed at the moment, the way it has been chopped and changed and the way it is not preparing people with skills that employers need demonstrate that the program being managed by the Coalition is becoming a dud.”

On Wednesday employment department officials told Senate estimates that between July 2016 and June 2017, 27.1% of work for the dole participants were employed three months after their participation in the program.

The Greens’ family and community services spokeswoman, Rachel Siewert, said that more than 70% of people “languish below the poverty line after working below the minimum wage just to receive income support”.

“Here we have a clear cut example of work for the dole not working for participants, yet the government persists with the program,” she said.

Siewert said the program forced people to do “basic tasks” that “don’t necessarily build skills”. She suggested it should be scrapped in favour of individualised support and mentoring for young people to help them find jobs.


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, 2018

Leftists are basically all the same

Tasmania has just had an election in which the conservatives won. So how did the Tasmanian Left handle the defeat?  There is no doubt that the issues for tiny Tasmania, tucked away at the bottom of the world, are much less portentous than the issues for the great world power that is the USA.  So surely we could expect that the response of the Tasmanian Left would be much less embittered and rage-filled than the response of the American Left when Donald beat Hillary?

It was not to be.  The big issue in the Tasmanian campaign was the hardly earth-shattering question of whether gambling machines should be permitted.  Despite that, the defeated Tasmanian Left erupted in anger and bad grace, accusing the conservatives of not having won fair and square. 

So this similarity of results between Tasmania and the USA despite very different circumstances confirms that we have to go down to the psychological level to understand the Left.  We have to face the fact that Leftists are born full of anger and hostility to the people around them.  Reality doesn't interest them.  They just hate it all.

Excerpt from a news report follows:

[Federal] Trade Minister Steven Ciobo has attacked the “extraordinarily ungracious” concession speech by Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White, calling Labor’s claims the Hodgman campaign was bankrolled by gaming companies as “sour grapes” and “absurd”.

Tasmania’s Hodgman Liberal government has been re-elected with a majority, after voters turned away from the Greens and shunned the Jacqui Lambie Network.

Ms White congratulated Premier Will Hodgman this morning after neglecting to do so in her concession speech last night.

“I’m incredibly proud of the Tasmanian Labor campaign, our candidates and the values and issues we fought for. We didn’t get there this time but we can hold our heads high.”

The Tasmanian Left too put up a woman for the top job, the blonde bombshell Rebecca White.  Once again the Feminist theory that women will vote for another woman falls flat

[Federal Leftist leader] Bill Shorten also added his congratulations, but not without throwing in a pointed barb.

“Rebecca White and her team ran a positive, issues-focused campaign that reflected the best Labor values, against the Liberals who were backed by well-resourced special interests,” the federal Labor lader said in a statement.

“Bec has shown herself to be an energetic campaigner, and a strong and effective leader with a bright future ahead of her.”

Earlier Mr Ciobo said he was disappointed by the Labor response to losing the Tasmanian election last night, calling the party hypocritical given the amount of campaign money it receives from unions.

“I also find it frankly quite extraordinary that the Australian Labor Party, who are effectively a bought subsidiary of the union movement, would for a second start accusing anybody else of throwing too much money at a problem or advertising in excess of the amount that they can advertise,” Mr Ciobo told Sky News.

“I mean seriously? That is probably the most absurd thing I have heard in quite a while from the Australian Labor Party.”

Mr Hodgman claimed victory at 10.30pm on Saturday, thanking voters for sticking with his government, providing it a second term in majority.

While his opponents claimed the government had been purchased by advertising paid for by poker machine interests, Mr Hodgman said voters had rewarded the Liberals for “kickstarting” the economy.

Opposition leader Rebecca White conceded defeat but failed to congratulate Mr Hodgman, instead praising voters for putting his government “on notice”.

“The Tasmanian people have put this Liberal government on notice: today marks a new era in Tasmanian politics,” Ms White said.

“People want transparent, good government that is going to benefit them and not somebody’s rich mate.”

She said the Hodgman government was “nearly defeated” and blamed the cashed-up campaign against Labor by poker machine interests for the party’s failure to secure a better result.

“The Tasmanian people should be represented by the best representatives; not the richest,” she said, accusing the Liberal Party of “buying” seats in the parliament.


Christians push to reclaim mardi gras origins

Sydney will have two mardi gras after the organisers of the Sydney Easter Parade, who expect 10,000 people to march and dance through the city on Easter Monday, said they were out to reclaim the Christian origins of the celebration.

Tomorrow, with Cher headlining, about 15,000 people are expected to take part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary and is expected to draw more than 300,000 spectators.

Sydney Easter Parade and Family Day director Ben Irawan said from this year, the parade would brand itself as a “mardi gras for Christians”.

“We don’t want to oppose or contend with the gay mardi gras, but I want Christians to be able to celebrate and take some ownership of what was originally a Christian feast day before lent,” he said.

Mardi gras, or “Fat Tuesday” traces is origins to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. From there, it followed France to its colonies, and became most famous in New Orleans, first as an elegant society ball and then as the colourful, voodoo-infused parade of today.

Mr Irawan said the Easter mardi gras was open to Christians of all denominations, as well as non-Christians who wanted a fun and colourful family day out.

“We have giant inflatables, things like Noah’s ark and letters spelling ‘HOPE’ 4m high,” he said. We have marching bands, dancers, colourful costumes. So it really is a mardi gras already, but we want to make the connection more strongly.”

Mr Irawan, a marketing and events expert, is also the pastor of Life Centre International church in Sydney and Wollongong, as well as senior strategy adviser in NSW for Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives.

But anyone hoping to see Senator Bernardi as a bearded Noah or heavenly angel would be disappointed. “Cory won’t be marching. This is a family fun day, so we keep the politics out of it,” Mr Irawan said. “It’s a community event.”

The parade’s Facebook page proclaims: “We celebrate the true meaning of Easter — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We feel that (the 2018 event) is the sounding of the trumpet to gather God’s people during a time when darkness is covering the earth.”

This year’s parade starts at 11am in Hyde Park and takes in Market, George and Park streets, followed by an afternoon of music, performance and food stalls in the park.

Christians and the gay Mardi Gras haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Until recently, NSW Legislative Council member and minister Fred Nile would lead a prayer for rain on the eve of the parade. In January 2008, Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Robert Forsyth condemned Corpus Christi for opening the Mardi Gras with Judas seducing a gay Jesus.

A Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras spokesman said: “There are many members of the LGBTQI community that hold a wide range of religious beliefs with Christianity being among them.

“Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras welcome many faith based organisations, their LGBTQI members and allies to walk in the Parade and for the 40th anniversary celebrations we will have groups such as Mormon Temple of Equality, Wayside Chapel, Uniting Network, Dayenu and Acceptance Sydney for Gay and Lesbian Catholics joining us on Parade night.

“Mardi Gras’ are historically a celebration and the very heart of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is diversity and inclusion so we wish the Sydney Easter Parade and Family Day organisers well in their own Mardi Gras endeavours.”


New coal mine:  Labor Party leader shown up as an opportunist too smart by half

The Adani project has become a turning point in the contest over political, cultural and financial power in Australia. It is an iconic test of strength between the growing progressive/green lobby and the Turnbull government-backed pro-development forces with long-run consequences.

“This is the biggest environmental campaign ever run in this country and one of the biggest campaigns in the world,” former Australian Conservation Foundation director Geoffrey Cousins told The Australian. “It has got international attention from The New York Times to The Financial Times.

“It is a landmark event. The campaign is about climate change, global warming and protecting the Great Barrier Reef. Adani would be the biggest coalmine in this country. In my view the project is dead in the water, but you don’t stop until it sinks. Nobody is going to fund this mine. Financial institutions watch their reputation and if you damage your reputation then your shareholder value drops.”

The Labor Party, though beset by internal divisions, is essentially working to undermine Adani with its mantra that the project “doesn’t stand up financially” — a blatant appeal to no confidence that prejudges a commercial result about an approved project.

Political opponents are playing with fire. This issue has consequences for the viability of regulatory approvals, foreign investment, the coal industry and regional Queensland’s economic outlook.

The proof of the near triumph of anti-Adani sentiment is the convoluted, expedient yet unmistakeable shift of Bill Shorten. Once pro-Adani, the Opposition Leader has been galvanised by the Batman by-election and public mood to tilt his position against the project while still paying lip service to pro-coal opinion in regional Queensland.

Shorten’s character as an opportunist has rarely been so embarrassingly exposed. On display is his compulsion to offer conflicting messages to different constituencies for electoral gain, the antithesis of any politics of principle.

In the process, Shorten got caught out from his trip and dialogue with a calculating Cousins, whose ruthless skill as an environmental advocate is legend. The two principals have different versions but, according to Cousins, Shorten not only sought advice but signalled his willingness to change Labor policy — instead of letting Adani die from lack of funds, Shorten lurched towards a policy that he would revoke its licence as prime minister.

This would have been filled with traps — Shorten would have been cast as killing agent for a project that he feels cannot survive anyway. Whether Shorten reassessed or was persuaded by colleagues, by week’s end the flirtation with Cousins was in a polite retreat of sorts.

Cousins explained what happened from his dialogue with Shorten: “I believe he wanted to have a firmer policy on Adani but in some way he was held back by his colleagues. He had given me a precise timeline about the announcement of his stance. He told me he wouldn’t do it in his National Press Club address at the start of the year but that I shouldn’t be concerned about that. He said he would do it in Queensland and would make the announcement in Queensland the following week.

“He subsequently rang me to explain that he would need more time. I think he was having difficulty with his colleagues. I said OK. I mean, that’s his job. But I felt it was best to keep the pressure on. My experience is that keeping the pressure on is the only course that ever delivers anything.”

In late January, Cousins had hosted Shorten on a $17,000 tour of the reef and a flight over the Adani mine site. “Shorten could see precisely where he was snorkelling and what had happened to the reef,” Cousins said. “We flew over the mine site and there’s nothing there, just a couple of buildings, it’s a lot of nonsense.”

Given the delay, Cousins ­decided to turn up the heat. He dropped his bombshell on the ABC’s 7.30 with Leigh Sales on Tuesday night. Cousins said Shorten assured him “when we are in government, if the evidence is as compelling as it appears now, we will revoke the licence in accordance with the law”.

This is what Cousins wanted to hear: a different and tougher Labor stand that he hoped might settle the issue. Cousins said there was no mistake — the statement was delivered precisely this way at least a half-dozen times. Shorten believes this version is highly exaggerated: he wanted assistance and advice from Cousins; he has no time for the mine; he believes it will fall over; he wanted to explore options but he will not create sovereign risks or break contracts.

According to Cousins, Shorten said he would take the issue to the shadow cabinet. Cousins also gave Shorten legal opinions ­obtained by the ACF to the effect that under the law, revocation can occur if an issue is revealed that was not identified when ­approval was ­initially given that would otherwise have resulted in that ­approval being denied. Given this law, Cousins said, “in this situation the risk sits with the company — it is not a sovereign risk”.

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg repudiates any claim the grounds exist for revocation. Frydenberg told Sky News this week his advice was that no such new information was available.

“Here’s the critical point,” Frydenberg said. “That ­information is not at hand. So there is now not a case for the revocation under section 145. Shorten knows that but because of the Batman by-election he’s trying to be all things to all people.”

Frydenberg’s advice exposes the high risk Shorten would run if he pledged revocation or to explore revocation in office. This would constitute a short-term fix but a major folly. A number of senior Labor figures warn of the serious political risks in this position. It would be a gift to the Turnbull government with the potential to swing sentiment against the anti-Adani camp.

Despite Cousins’s argument, it would raise certain issues of sovereign risk. The government would mount this argument. It would ­assert Shorten was prepared to pose a sovereign investment risk in the cause of winning green votes in the inner city.

The politically smart position for Labor is obvious — let the project expire because of lack of funding but avoid any pledge from opposition or act in office that sees Labor assume accountability for revocation. This would open a Pandora’s box — if Labor moved to kill the Carmichael mine then what other coal proposals or ventures would be safe and what would be the investment consequences?

As a governing party presiding over a substantial coal industry by world standards, Labor must build product discrimination from the Greens based on a coherent policy framework.

The Shorten-Cousins rapport has not been widely known within the Labor Party and is now an issue raising questions about Shorten’s judgment. The Carmichael mine has been through a protracted series of environmental law provisions and is approved subject to 36 strict conditions.

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, there are precisely defined circumstances that govern suspension or revocation of federal environmental approval. Opposition environment spokesman Tony Burke told the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas this week that under the law, as minister, “you must never prejudge a decision”. If so, you risk legal action from the aggrieved company. No prizes for guessing where Burke is coming from.

As Frydenberg said: “The Carmichael mine has gone through the process. It has been challenged in the courts multiple times and has been upheld. It is a mine that is in the Galilee Basin, it’s 300km inland in a dry and dusty part of Queensland, and it has ­received strong support from local mayors, from the unions and local communities.”

In short, revocation of the Carmichael mine on environmental grounds is a daunting task loaded with traps. Comparisons with the Franklin dam under the Hawke government are nonsense. That predated the EPBC Act and the politics since are transformed — because of the EPBC Act, no political party can make a firm commitment to use environmental law to stop a project.

This was the message opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese sent repeatedly this week to anyone with ears.

“The Adani coalmine has been approved,” Albanese said. “It has been approved under state and federal approvals. The question is what can Labor do? What Labor can do is … make sure that there is no subsidy of the rail line or other infrastructure for what is a private project. If that doesn’t occur, and the company has said it themselves, the project will fall over and be unable to get finance. At the moment, it just doesn’t have ­finance. They have tried to get it everywhere and it just doesn’t stack up.”

Shorten said of the project yesterday: “I make no secret that I don’t like it very much. I don’t think the project is going to ­materialise. The Adani mining company seem to have missed plenty of deadlines. It doesn’t seem to stack up financially, commercially or indeed environmentally.” But Shorten ruled out any breaking of contracts and that also meant any action as prime minister to revoke the licence.

Understand what is happening — federal Labor wants to destroy this project but keep its hands clean from any financial or political backlash.

It knows “Adani” is a dirty word from the focus groups. Indeed, Frydenberg knows as well and is careful now only to use the term “Carmichael”.

Labor’s hostility must become a material factor in the final ­assessments made by the company. With polls pointing to a change of government, Labor’s campaign makes successful ­financing a more remote possibility. Shorten’s tougher position only intensifies the stakes ­involved in the Batman by-election. How will Shorten look if Labor loses despite his intensification of the campaign against the Adani mine, his trip to the region, his dialogue with Cousins and the belief by the former ACF director that Shorten was ready to play the revocation card?

The green lobby is desperate to defeat the mine on environmental and climate change grounds. While these grounds have sway with public opinion, they are the weakest instruments to secure Carmichael’s defeat — the real pressure points are lack of finance and political “no confidence” from the alternative government despite Adani’s success in meeting the formal approvals.

The mine is a long way from the Great Barrier Reef. Yet arguments about its alleged proximity to the reef are irrelevant in climate change terms since to the extent emissions are corroding the reef that is a universal, not a local, phenomenon.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan attacked Labor’s hypocrisy, saying many of the delays have sprung directly from politics. “This mine is the cornerstone to unlocking the Galilee Basin,” Canavan told The Australian. “There is a window of opportunity at present in the world coal markets with the price high and ­renewed confidence. But the risk for Australia is that we will miss this window and this opportunity essentially because of political ­factors.”

Canavan said the decision by the Queensland Labor government last year to veto any potential loan from the $5 billion Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility for the rail line to the port had a “huge impact” on the overall venture. The company wanted the funds and wanted governments “to have skin in the game”.

“This wasn’t just a backflip,” he said. “The Queensland government gave Adani repeated assurances they would support federal government loans to the rail line.” This was now a lost ­option courtesy of a political ­decision.

Queensland Labor’s decision has been reinforced by Shorten’s tougher stance and the recent warning by opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler that Carmichael was not in the national ­interest and that proposed new mines in the Galilee Basin were also not financially viable.

Canavan concedes that Adani’s “financial options are limited”. He warns that “future investors will look at the way Adani has been treated and have to ­reconsider investment in Australia”. He fears that the opportunity presented by higher coal prices will be missed and is frustrated at the extent of opposition to Carmichael from other coal companies operating in Australia.

The objective of the Greens is to use Carmichael as the instrument to terminate any new coalmines in Australia. Victory will strengthen their hands for the next battle and solidify the hostility of local financial institutions to finance coal projects.

Meanwhile, there seems no end to Shorten’s dissembling — he ­declared yesterday that “we are a resource nation, we are a mining nation”, while he passes judgment as a politician on the finances of Adani in an ­effort to ensure its funding cannot materialise.

Cousins, who has lobbied the Indians and the Chinese against the project, said: “They have no money. They were briefing journalists they could get money from China but the Chinese banks have come out rejecting this. The financial community in Australia accepts climate change science ­totally. Adani’s business case just doesn’t stack up.”

If Cousins’s predictions are ­realised, the killing of Adani after it passed all state and federal ­approvals will bring progressive and green momentum to a zenith. On display will be its moral power, its ability to smash through government and court approvals, its capture of the financial sector and its delivery of a decisive blow to the once-strong pro-development, pro-coal ethos.

Can you imagine the scale of political conflict that will erupt in this country if Adani defies such hostility and somehow manages to proceed with finance?

It is also an insight into our ­morality as a nation — the moral case that Carmichael will help many thousands of poor people in India gets almost no traction; ­indeed, it is mocked by progressive politicians who insist there is an alternative over-arching ­morality — stopping the coal ­industry in the cause of saving the planet from global warming.


Sydney's extraordinary international student boom

Asians spooked by school shootings in America?

Overseas student numbers have surged at Sydney's universities during the past few years. While the number of foreign students has been trending upwards for years, the current growth is unprecedented in such a short time.

Foreign student numbers in Sydney jumped 50 per cent more in the past two years than they did in the entire decade prior.

The student fees being collected by the city’s biggest tertiary institutions capture the scale of this boom.

At Sydney University, overseas student fees rose 92 per cent in three years - from $391 million in 2014 to $752 million last year. At the University of NSW, consolidated revenue from overseas student fees jumped 26 per cent between 2015 and 2016 alone to a handy $560 million.

Sydney University and UNSW in particular have reaped the rewards in the recent race for the international student dollar.

More than one in three students at Sydney University is now from overseas, the majority of them from China.

But with such rapid growth - and big dollars - comes risk. Critics say universities are now over-dependent on the money international students can bring in, especially as government funding for teaching and research is squeezed. Others say the dependence on overseas - and especially Chinese - cash is “corroding the soul of our universities”.

Higher education is being transformed the world over as rising living standards in Asia, and especially China, drives unprecedented demand for tertiary qualifications.

“We are witnessing one of the largest investments in higher education and research in history,” says Laurie Pearcey, Pro-Vice Chancellor, International, at the University of NSW.

Academics and university administrators have emerged as improbable heroes in Australia’s export story.

Sydney’s universities are sought after as higher education becomes a mass global commodity and members of Asia’s new middle class aspire to degrees from institutions that rank well on international league tables.

Financial Times columnist John Gapper has labelled big urban universities “the new global brands” and a “core industry of city-states in a globalised world”.

The inner districts of Sydney - home to the city’s biggest universities - have benefited disproportionately from the surge in international student numbers.

Total employment in tertiary education in the inner-Sydney region jumped by 37 per cent between the 2011 census and 2016 census, analysis by regional economist Terry Rawnsley shows. It was a similar story in inner-Melbourne where tertiary education employment was up 28 per cent in the period.

Then there are flow-on effects from the money spent by students - and their visiting friends and relatives - on things such as accommodation, dining, retail and entertainment.

In 2016 the fee income from overseas students in NSW universities surpassed the fee income from domestic students for the first time. It now makes up a quarter of all university revenue in NSW and seems likely to rise further, as government funding comes under continued pressure.

“Successive governments have been actively encouraging universities to seek out alternative sources of revenue,” says Melbourne University education economist Michael Coelli.

Nationally, about one in three international students are Chinese, but the figure is double that at Sydney University and UNSW.

Last year nearly one in four of all students enrolled at Sydney University - the state’s biggest tertiary institution - were Chinese. That share was more than one in five at the University of NSW and one in six at the University of Technology, Sydney.

A NSW Auditor-General’s report in June found some of the state’s universities have become “vulnerable” to fluctuations in overseas students’ intake and drew attention to the sector’s “concentration” risk.

“The increasing number of overseas students can have significant financial benefits to a university,” the report said. “However, there are associated risks, including pressure on capacity constraints and the need to maintain teaching quality. There is also a concentration risk from reliance on overseas students from the same geographical location in the event of an economic downturn from that region.”

Even the Vice-Chancellor of Sydney University, Michael Spence, is worried about the dependency on the overseas student dollar. Back in 2014, amid debate about a controversial Abbott government proposal to deregulate university fees, Professor Spence told ABC television “we are over-dependent on international student fees”.

Andrew Norton, who heads the higher education program at the Grattan Institute, says that despite these concerns universities have decided the opportunities are simply too big to ignore. “The universities are taking the calculated risk that, even if it doesn’t last, the benefits are so great while it does last, that you should not forgo them,” he says.

Although Norton questions whether high academic standards can be maintained amid such rapid growth in student numbers. “I am concerned about the rate of increase and whether you can deliver the expected quality when you are expanding at that 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

4 March, 2018

Former police officer found not guilty of misconduct after leaking footage

The vindictive prosecution of a whistleblower who should in fact have been praised casts a dark shadow over the reputation of the QPS.  It shows the police as having no morality at all.  They were furious that Flori revealed the ugly truth about them and desperately wanted to get back at him. 

Now that their prosecution has failed, it is surely time to ask some very challenging questions of ?Ian Stewart, the Queensland police chief.

The prosecution was undoubtedly stressful for Flori -- as would have been intended -- but there was a silver lining to his dark cloud. After her own victory over a crooked cop and his QPS defenders, Renee Eaves has done a lot to help other innocent victims of the police. So she flew to Fiori's side when his prosecution was announced and has given him support ever since. And as well as a her strength of character and iron will, Renee is absolutely gorgeous. A former bikini beauty, she is a dream walking. Having her nearby would soothe most troubled male souls.

You see her walking beside Fiori below.  I had the great privilege to help her once when she badly needed it

A FORMER Queensland police sergeant who leaked footage of officers bashing a handcuffed man in a Gold Coast station basement has been found not guilty of misconduct.

Rick Flori, 47, was acquitted of the charge by a majority 11-1 verdict by a jury on Wednesday following a six-day trial at the Southport District Court.

Flori, who has since resigned from the Queensland Police Service, says he released the footage of the January 2012 arrest to cast a spotlight on illegal practices within the force.

Flori released footage of police at the Surfers Paradise station bashing a handcuffed man, Noa Begic, in a basement car park in January 2012.

Once the footage was run by The Courier-Mail, an internal investigation lead to a search of Flori’s home where the footage was located on an SD card.

Flori told investigators he’d acquired the footage for “training purposes” and denied knowing anything about the email address used to arrange the leak with a journalist.

Crown prosecutor Todd Fuller said Flori was upset at being overlooked for a promotion to senior sergeant in 2011.

Once he realised the footage included the man who had been given the promotion at his expense, Senior Sergeant David Joachim, he’d set about leaking it to discredit his rival, Mr Fuller argued.

Mr Fuller said in the email sent to the journalist, Flori failed to mention any of the other officers involved except for Sen Sgt Joachim, despite Senior Constable Ben Lamb being the man who kneed and punched Mr Begic.

“The email doesn’t even mention Constable Lamb,” Mr Fuller said. “His attack is on David Joachim. Rank. Name. Position.”

Mr Lamb was later disciplined for his actions, receiving a suspended dismissal from the police service.

Flori’s barrister, Saul Holt QC, labelled the accusation of a vendetta by his client against Sen Sgt Joachim as nonsense.

Mr Holt said Flori had made complaints about several other officers during his career and his behaviour towards Sen Sgt Joachim wasn’t exceptional.

“Rick Flori is happy to complain about anybody if the complaint is valid,” Mr Holt said.

“David Joachim is no more than a mild irritant in Rick Flori’s history of making complaints.” Mr Holt said Flori’s motivation to leak the footage was “pure” and intended to ensure those responsible for the violent arrest were exposed.

“This incident is astonishing ... the fact we know about it through the leak is a good thing.”


Australia's internet speeds over the next ten years with peak below the 50mb/s threshold that NBN says it will provide

The Green's NBN Spokesperson, Senator Jordon Steele-John, says the speeds in the report are already below international standards, and would cement Australia’s position as a second-rate digital player globally.

The report has been described by the Greens as "sloppy, unfounded and deliberately vague".

Senator Steele-John says connecting to the Turnbull government's "mixed technology mongrel" National Broadband Network has "overwhelmingly been a negative experience – in terms of cost, connectivity and speed – for individuals and businesses."

"What this report suggests, almost comically, is that the requirements of Australian internet users will plateau at or near current speeds over the next decade, with an average peak requirement of 49mb/s conveniently peaking just under the 50mb/s promise of this government."

Senator Steele-John says there is no historical data on Australia's bandwidth requirements and therefore no real accurate predictions on what might be needed into the future.

He points out that 24 hour trends are not reliable data sets for a decade-long prediction.

"What the report fails to acknowledge, in basing its predictions on current uptake, is the extremely cost-prohibitive nature of the speed packages offered by the NBN and their ability to actually achieve those claimed speeds," Senator Steele-John said.

"Australians are fed up with the NBN compromise and want access to a network that meets our current and future digital needs."


Bupa strips extras payments for budget custoners

Australia’s largest health fund has told almost a million members their ­restricted cover for procedures such as hip and knee replacements has been removed.

A consumer group has expressed alarm at the decision by Australia’s largest health fund to downgrade the policies of more than a third of its members.

From July, Bupa will amend about 720,000 policies so the restricted cover those members have for certain services, paying minimal benefits, becomes an outright exclusion. This will ­include hip and knee replacements, pregnancy, IVF, cataract procedures, obesity and some plastic surgery, areas in which insurers have for years allowed members to downgrade in an ­effort to reduce their premiums.

The specialties that perform these procedures leave patients with some of the biggest average gap fees, or out-of-pocket expenses, after insurance benefits are paid. Restricted cover also means the insurer would only pay for private hospital care at a rate equivalent to that of a shared room in a public hospital.

In one email to members, Bupa said “feedback from customers has shown the value of ‘minimum benefits’ (restricted cover) included in their health cover was not clear”.

The CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, today urged dissatisfied Bupa members to shop around and said the decision reflected everything that was wrong with the industry.

“This change by one of Australia’s biggest health funds, highlights how the twin demons of out of pocket costs and policy complexity are adding up to a poor deal for consumers,” Ms Wells said.

“It highlights how complicated the whole process of private health cover has become and how out of pocket costs are forcing both individual members and the health funds to make changes that in turn diminish cover.

“It also raises the question of the declining utility of health insurance if people are being forced to consider less expensive policies which have the effect of leaving them with cover for the very treatments they may need in the future.”

Several authorities, including the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, have warned the rise in restrictions and exclusions in cover has exposed members to the risk of having no cover when they need it. The highest number of consumer complaints in the past quarter were about restrictions and exclusions.

A Bupa spokesman would not say how much would be saved but insisted the insurer was “redistributing that money into a lower premium increase and additional benefits such as introducing gap free dental care on a number of common preventive dental services at selected dentists”.

The spokesman said Bupa would waive hospital waiting periods for any members who wanted to continue being covered for any of those procedures and upgrade their policy before July.

Insurers are required to notify the Department of Health of any significant policy changes, although last month the reporting system was closed down, meaning there are now only emails.

The department, or minister, can only block policy changes if they breach legislation. At present, the only services required to be covered by insurers, at least at minimum benefit (restricted cover) level, are psychiatric, rehabilitation and palliative care.

Senior federal health bureaucrat Charles Maskell-Knight yesterday said he understood the industry had seen a need to ­convert restrictions to exclusions, perhaps to clarify what policies covered. “Bupa’s late coming to this,” Dr Maskell-Knight said. “There’s lot of other insurers that already offer policies that do exactly that.”

The Turnbull government has promised Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic Bronze categories of insurance from April 2019, with standardised clinical definitions. It is understood only policies in the Gold category would have no restrictions, and the areas affected by the Bupa changes could even be restricted in, or excluded from, ­Silver policies.

A ministerial advisory committee, headed by Chief Medical ­Officer Brendan Murphy, is examining out-of-pocket expenses. Professor Murphy yesterday said all stakeholders “agree that there is a problem with out-of-pocket costs” and it was hoped that GPs, and patients, could have more information on high-charging specialists before referral.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has promised reforms to improve transparency and contain costs. Some Bupa members who received the email about their restrictions were notified of 10 per cent fee increases at the same time. Other insurers have reportedly slugged some members with 25 per cent rises.


People on Centrelink benefits to face drug tests

A controversial plan to drug test welfare recipients is set to be trialed in three locations across Australia. New laws were set to be introduced to parliament Wednesday after the coalition endorsed new proposed laws.

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan told parliament on Tuesday the trial was 'not about taking away payments', but rather 'helping those people with a problem get treatment'.

'This is about helping them help themselves and then get a job,' Mr Tehan said.

Mr Tehan said an extra $10 million would be set aside for drug and alcohol treatment support at the three trial sites in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

Sites were set to be established in Canterbury-Bankstown (NSW), Logan (QLD) and Mandurah (WA).

'We will also provide $1 million for an independent, third party to evaluate the trial while it is in operation,' he said. 'If there are serious unintended consequences, the government will act.'

The Turnbull government had originally hoped to drug test 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients from January.

But the government acknowledged in December it did not have the numbers in the Senate to pass it, and the trial was stripped out of a welfare reform bill.

Doctors and community groups were deeply critical of the drug tests, arguing they would prove an expensive, paternalistic and potentially damaging waste of time.

Under the plan, anyone who tested positive would be shunted onto cashless welfare cards, while those who failed more than once would be referred to medical professionals for treatment.

Mr Tehan said the bill included measures to help victims of domestic violence and the homeless.

'I say to those opposite that this is a trial. We encourage you to work with us,' he said.

Labor said there was no change to its opposition to the proposed laws, while Greens senator Rachel Siewert said the 'overwhelming evidence' from experts showed it would not work. 'It has already been rejected by the Senate, and for good reason,' Senator Siewert said in a statement.

Penington Institute chief executive John Ryan called for the bill to be scrapped.

'These are people who rely on these social security payments for the bare necessities and this plan risks pushing them into crime or homelessness,' he said.    

A Parliamentary Budget Office report found the largest group of new disability support pension recipients were people with psychological conditions, which was often linked with substance misuse.

They were also found to be far younger than average recipients and could receive the pension for more than 20 years.

Previously unpublished data also showed 260 jobseekers had chosen to enter drug and alcohol rehabilitation or treatment instead of finding jobs.

The most 'work ready' unemployed - who were typically on the dole or youth allowance - were allowed to receive addiction treatment in lieu of looking for work as part of the regime introduced on January 1.

Meanwhile, those who were in Stream C - typically receiving the DSP - were already allowed to select this option and were doing so in large numbers.

There were more than 520 welfare recipients in the category receiving treatment, according to The Australian. 

Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said more people with mental health problems were seeking help because of a lifting stigma.

'But I think we are seeing an increased burden in society more generally and a greater demand for services,' 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

2 March, 2018

MP calls for rethink on Aboriginal place names because brother of drowning victim struggled with hard-to-pronounce 'syllable soup' moniker while calling triple zero

A minister has called for a rethink on using Aboriginal place names after a woman died at a swimming hole while her brother struggled to tell medics where they were.

Kimberley Johnston, 22, died at the Dwaarlindjinaap waterhole last month after getting pulled under by a strong current and trapped under a rock.

Brother Aaron was with her at the time and called 000, but he and bystanders had difficulty pronouncing the name, costing vital moments in the race to save her life.

Now local MP Andrew Hastie is calling for places to be given universally recognised signage alongside Aboriginal names to avoid the event repeating itself.

His call comes after the City of Mandurah, where Kimberley was from, announced it will be renaming all parks and reserves within its boundaries with Aboriginal-inspired names as part of their reconciliation action plan.

Hastie told WA Today: 'If local governments are going to go for a long name that's complex and difficult to pronounce then I think we should really take seriously… [the] suggestion that we implement emergency location signs.

'It's not just someone drowning at a watering hole. It could be a child getting a snake bite, it could be someone having a heart attack, it could be an accident on a trail.

'It could be any number of emergencies that we need first responders for. I think it's a really issue and if we can't pronounce it – well then there's a problem.'


Greens call for their own by-election candidate to be axed

She is behaving like a typical far-Leftist. She's a snake and snakes bite

The Greens candidate attempting to win the seat of Batman and end a century of Labor representation in Melbourne’s north is accused by members of her party of intimidation, bullying, branch stacking, spreading “reckless false statements’’ and cultivating ALP-style factionalism within the party’s largest branch.

A complaint lodged by 18 Greens campaign volunteers, office-holders and elected representatives calls on the party’s state executive to disendorse Alex Bhathal as the Batman candidate and expel her from the party, warning that her election to federal parliament would pose a serious risk to the party’s future growth and unity.

The party said the complaint had been considered and dealt with.

The complainants are current or former members of Ms Bhathal’s Darebin branch, which controls preselections for the Darebin council, the state seats of Northcote and Preston, and the now winnable federal seat of Batman.

They are Greens who supported her previous campaigns, who ­attended branch meetings and party functions with her and who, since the 2016 federal election when she ran and lost in Batman for a fifth time, are concerned at her “increasingly malicious’’ ­behaviour towards anyone she perceives as disloyal.

The 101-page complaint and covering letter, seen by The Australian, depicts a power-hungry, perennial candidate who ruthlessly uses proxies to stifle debate, manipulate internal party procedures and undermine fellow members. It accuses her of ­“serious, repeated, often wilful misconduct’’ and demands the ­allegations be fully investigated.

“This misconduct has included systematic intimidation, and ­malicious and reckless false statements about members and party decisions,’’ the complaint reads.

“The attached statements ­include instances of direct ­intimidation and victimisation on the part of Alex, as well as the wider, more systematic operation of her political machine, which has been used to undermine ­consensus decision-making ­processes, attack and harass members considered to be ‘in the way’ and we believe, to recruit members for the purpose of swaying preselection results.

Alex’s behaviour has escalated markedly in the past year. Her tactics have become more aggressive and ruthless, her breaches of the code of conduct more flagrant and brazen, her ­behaviour many magnitudes more destructive. We believe she must be held to account and cannot be allowed to continue on as a representative and member of the Victorian Greens.’’

The complaint was made to the party’s state executive on January 15, two weeks before Labor’s David Feeney retired from the parliament and triggered the Batman by-election — a knife-edge contest in which early voting began this week.

The complainants, who ­requested their identities be concealed from Ms Bhathal, say the party’s interests would be better served by the Greens losing ­Batman than Ms Bhathal winning it. This would enable the party to preselect a new candidate for the next federal election.

It is understood Ms Bhathal has not been shown the full complaint. She declined to respond to the allegations and invited Batman voters to make their own judgment.

“The people of Batman have over 30 years experience of my character and I have faith that my community will rely on their first hand knowledge of me over the decades,’’ she said last night.

Ms Bhathal was strongly backed by the three Victorian Greens in federal parliament: Adam Bandt, Richard Di Natale and Janet Rice.

“Alex convincingly won the preselection,’’ they said in a joint statement to The Australian. “She is held in the highest regard by members and supporters within the broader community.

“It is disappointing that ­despite this support and the party resolving this matter, someone who is unhappy with the outcome has taken it to the media.’’

The co-convener of the Victorian Greens, Colin Jacobs, said the complaint had been considered and dealt with. “We take all allegations of this nature seriously,” he said. “The party considered these matters and found the ­material presented lacked sufficient evidence to reconsider Alex’s preselection.’’

This is disputed by the complainants. They say the allegations raised against Ms Bhathal prompted a review of her endorsement for Batman by a three-­person committee but were not properly investigated by the party.

Ms Bhathal is a Tampa Green: the cohort of political activists who joined the Greens in the lead-up to the 2001 election motivated less by environmental concerns than ­opposition to immigration and border protection policies.

When she first ran for the Greens in Batman in 2001 it was an unwinnable, “dead-red’’ seat. In every election she has stood as a candidate, she has eroded Labor’s hold on it.

In 2016, after Mr Feeney ran a train-wreck campaign, Ms Bhathal got to within 1853 votes of ­entering federal parliament. She works as a social worker, lives in Preston, is a mother of two and is well known in the electorate.

Some of the allegations raised against her appear frivolous. She is accused of standing in front of ­another Greens representative at a media doorstop so she wouldn’t appear on TV, of passive aggression, of “unfriending’’ a party member on Facebook and in typical Greens-speak, of projecting, triggering and making the Darebin branch an unsafe space. The more serious allegations are:

? That she recruited a dramatic influx of new members to the Darebin branch early last year to stack the numbers in favour of her own preselection and marginalise perceived political opponents.

? That she orchestrated a campaign to undermine the preselection chances of City of Darebin councillor Susanne Newton in the state seat of Preston.

? That she waged a ruthless, intercine war against four Greens members of the Darebin council and used her social media accounts to support non-Greens candidates running against them.

The complaint does not contain grievous instances of bullying or harassment but documents a corrosive pattern of alleged behaviour including late-night phone calls, incessant text messaging and malicious backgrounding, reducing party members to tears and creating a bitterly divided Darebin branch. None of the allegations has been proven.`

The Greens state executive and its federal leadership have backed Ms Bhathal as the party’s best chance of securing a second lower-house seat in the federal parliament.

Labor has preselected Ged Kearney, the president of the ACTU, in an attempt to hold the seat. The Batman by-election will be held on March 17.


Child protection staff turned a blind eye to Aboriginal men sexually assaulting underage girls because of 'cultural reasons'

Leftist "tolerance" can come at a steep price, a price not paid by Leftists themselves

Child protection case managers in the Northern Territory underwent mandatory training four years ago after it was revealed a small number of staff members ignored relationships between young girls and much older men because of Aboriginal cultural practices.

Jodeen Carney, the CEO of the Department of Children and Families at the time, sent an urgent memo in November 2014 ordering all staff to participate in training conducted by social anthropologist Jane Lloyd, according to NT News.

The memo is believed to have been prompted by a staff member's decision to grant permission to let a girl have a relationship with a man, who she also lived with.

'It has come to my attention that a small number of staff misunderstand how some cultural practices in local Aboriginal communities affect their role as child protection practitioners when assessing and managing cases involving sexual exploitation,' Ms Carney said in the memo, the publication reported on Wednesday.

'The age of consent in the Territory is 16 years of age. Children under 16 years of age cannot 'consent' to sexual intercourse.'

Ms Lloyd was hired to educate staff and 'address aspects of classical and contemporary Aboriginal beliefs and customs insofar as they relate to family structures and child safety,' Ms Carney said.

The leaked memo comes after tensions escalated in Tennant Creek over the alleged sexual assault of a two-year-old girl.

The toddler was flown to the Alice Springs Hospital on February 16 before being rushed to the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, where she was placed in an induced coma because of the severity of her injuries.

A 24-year-old man has since been arrested and charged with sexual assault. He appeared to have been bashed when he appeared in court by video-link last week. He did not apply for bail.

The girl has been released from hospital into the care of her family and will return to the home where the alleged assault occurred, much to the horror of relatives. Her parents are understood to have troubled pasts, and are known to be heavy consumers of alcohol.

It was previously reported a party was held at the home on the same night the two-year-old was allegedly sexually assaulted.

Territory Families received 21 calls to the girl's troubled residence between August 15 and December 17.

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol in Tennant Creek have been put in place for the next seven days after an increase in alcohol-related offences, particularly domestic violence.

Licensing director-general Cinday Bravos says the restrictions will apply to six venues in the town including the Tennant Creek and Goldfields hotels and will limit the amount of takeaway alcohol that can be bought and when it can be purchased.

'I will then assess their effectiveness and the options available for implementing longer-term measures if the restrictions prove to be successful in reducing the levels of harm associated with the consumption of alcohol,' Ms Bravos said in a statement on Tuesday.

Takeaway alcohol will only be sold from 3pm to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, with limits on the amount of beer, wine, fortified wine or mixed drinks that can be purchased in a single transaction.


Students from China, India and Nepal surge at Australian universities despite jobs squeeze etc.

Chinese and Indian students have not been deterred by negative media coverage or reports of racist attacks, and are flocking to Australian universities in record numbers.

New statistics show amost 190,000 foreigners applied to study in Australia between July and December, an increase of 14.1 per cent on the same period in 2016, with Indian applicants surging by 32 per cent and Chinese applicants by 13 per cent. Nepal overtook Brazil as the third-largest source of applicants, rising by 46 per cent to nearly 12,000 prospective students.

More than 90 per cent of applicants were granted student visas, with 41,000 - a quarter of all student visas issued in the quarter - going to Chinese nationals. A further 20,000 were Indian nationals. The grant rate for Chinese applicants steadily declined over the course of 2017 from 98.3 per cent to 93.8 per cent. In total, the number of student visas granted rose by 7 per cent.

International students pay huge fees to study in Australia and have become an enormous source of income for universities, particularly the Group of Eight, to the extent that education has become the country's third-biggest export market.

Critics have raised concerns at the level of Chinese influence in Australian universities, with students sometimes objecting to course material covering China and its government. Such matters, as well as physical attacks on Chinese students, have received prominent coverage in local and overseas Chinese media.

Last month Beijing issued a safety warning for Chinese students in Australia and provided phone numbers in case of emergency.

But the figures released this week by the Department of Home Affairs show Chinese interest in an Australian higher education has only continued to grow. The 12.9 per cent increase in applications from Chinese nationals was far higher in July-December 2017 than the same period in 2016 (6.7 per cent) and 2015 (5.6 per cent).

Over the past 10 years, Nepal has grown exponentially as a source of international students, initially spurred by the decade-long Maoist insurgency and subsequent word of mouth. Nepalese media have identified Sydney's Victoria University and Western Sydney University as major destinations for Nepalese students, and Auburn has become Sydney's hub for Nepalese-speakers.

However, the figures released by the government this week also show signs of a jobs squeeze for international students after graduation. The number of graduates moving straight into skilled work has crashed following the Turnbull government's changes to the temporary 457 visa, which will be abolished and replaced this month.

Just 3000 graduates transitioned to a 457, a decline of 50 per cent on the same period in 2016, while the number who moved on to a 189 or 190 skilled visa also fell. Instead, there was a 30 per cent increase in students moving on to a 485 "temporary graduate" visa, which allows them to work in Australia but is not a guarantee of skilled labour. There was also an 11.5 per cent rise in the number of graduates who moved on to a tourist visa.

Er-Kai Wang, associate lecturer in migration at the Australian National University, said the 485 visa still offered a "window of opportunity" for permanent residency, but it was easier on the 457. "That was a pathway for a lot of people to get into permanent residency – which was probably one of the things that the government was a bit suspicious about," she said.

Last year the Turnbull government slashed the number of occupations eligible for the 457 visa, which this month will be replaced by the similar but stricter temporary Skills Shortage visa.

Of those graduates who were on the increasingly-popular 485 temporary graduate visa, about 6000 transitioned to a skilled migrant visa - a decline of 13.7 per cent on the same period in 2016.

Despite the lure of an Australian job and pathway to permanent residency, Ms Wang noted a large number of foreign students who study in Australia "are wanting to study and then go home".


Why is the number of male circumcisions declining in Australia?

As Iceland debates whether to outlaw circumcisions of newborn males, SBS News explores why rates have been dropping in Australia.

The procedure of removing the foreskin of a newborn male's genitalia has been practised for religious and cultural reasons for centuries. It is a common practice among Jewish, Muslim and some Christian communities but is also undergone for cultural reasons. For Jews and Muslims, the practice is stipulated in religious texts. It's also considered a practice among Indigenous Australian communities.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says neonatal, infant and child circumcision is generally safe if it is conducted by experienced providers in hygienic conditions, but there have been levels of risk outlined in some studies.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) says while there is evidence that shows some health benefits, there are also risks from the medical procedure. It considers the potential health benefits are not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision of all infant males.

The RACP cites recent studies as showing circumcision may provide protection against urinary tract infections in infancy. Also in countries where sexually transmitted disease is high, the procedure can also reduce the risk of HIV/Aids.

In a 2010 report, the WHO estimated one in three males worldwide were circumcised. In Australia, it said 59 per cent of men were circumcised. But there is evidence that is substantially declining among new generations.

Based on Medicare records, there were 6309 newborn males circumcised in the 2016/17 financial year. That is a major drop from the 19,663 circumcisions of those under six months of age from 2007/08.

The RACP paediatrics and child health division's Professor Paul Colditz says the rate was four times greater a decade earlier, and the numbers have been dropping rapidly. "Only four per cent of boys are being circumcised (today), so I guess parents are really making up their own minds on the basis of the available evidence," he told SBS News.

However, there may be some procedures not captured by the data if it is performed by religious figures, given the statistics are based on Medicare claims.

But Professor Colditz says that would be a fairly small number in relation to the 6000 babies circumcised in the past year.  "There will be a small number done by religious figures who may be very experienced," he said.

Why are rates dropping? Professor Colditz says it is because of two aspects - more informed parents and more fathers not being circumcised themselves.

"The number of new fathers who are no longer circumcised is increasing and therefore if they haven't been circumcised, collectively between the two parents then they're making a decision that they don't feel it will confer any benefit to their son," he said.

Parents were also making up their own minds by researching available evidence.

"We've entered an era where everyone is looking at [it like], 'Is this operation, is this treatment worthwhile, will be effective, what are the risks?'" he said.

“[They're] doing this balance between the potential for any benefits against the potential for any harm and I think the whole of society is getting sophisticated in the way they do this."


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, 2018

"Sharksteeth" has been told to keep her mouth shut, it would appear

Up until her election win, most photos of NZ PM Jacinda Ardern had shown her as smiling -- and a very big smile it was, with all teeth fully exposed.

Lately, however, most pictures of her seem to show her with either a much more restrained smile or even with her mouth rather painfully closed. 

One understands that but it makes her look a lot less pleasant.  She obviously has a "bite" problem that it would take maxillo-facial surgery to correct but maybe that would be better than restrained smiling when she so obviously is inclined to let it all beam out.

The former Mormon certainly is an unusual lady.  A lot of Kiwis are still wondering how she became Prime Minister of their country with only a third of the vote.  She has announceed a big raft of new spending but when the bills come in to pay for it all will be interesting. I guess New Zealand has to have its version of Julia Gillard.

Censoring the press in order to butter up Muslims?

Independent adjudicator -- The Press Council -- says the article is ok.  Government says it is not -- and won't give reasons

FOR what appears to be the first time, the Classification Board has taken the extraordinary censorship decision to ban an Australian news site from reporting a terror threat.

TODAY, has published a Press Council decision that ruled in its favour — accepting there was public interest in its article publicising the disturbing ways Islamic State was trying to target potential victims through sites like Gumtree.

The problem is, the article titled “Islamic State terror guide encourages luring victims via Gumtree, eBay” no longer exists.

A week after it was published on May 31, 2017, the Attorney-General’s office contacted to demand it be taken down, saying the Classification Board had ruled it should be refused classification as it “directly or indirectly” advocated terrorist acts.

It appears to be the first time section 9A of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 has been used to censor a news report, since it was first added in 2007.

The action has alarmed the publisher of as Australian media in general were not informed the Classification Board had the power to ban news stories or that the eSafety Commissioner had the power to instigate investigations into news articles.

“The first knew of this matter was when contacted by the Attorney-General’s Department and advised of the Classification Board decision,” argued as part of a separate Press Council investigation into the article.

“The department, board and the eSafety Commissioner did not contact beforehand to advise of the investigation. Consequently, was not given the right to make submissions or a defence in regard to the article.” removed the article as it was facing legal penalties from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) if it refused, including fines or even civil or criminal legal action.

In justifying its decision, the Classification Board noted the article contained “detailed references and lengthy quotations from Rumiyah (Islamic State’s propaganda magazine)” with limited author text to provide context. asked the board why there was no opportunity for news organisations to defend the article based on public interest grounds but a response provided by a spokesman for the eSafety Commissioner did not directly address this.

The spokesman said the board did consider whether the material could “reasonably be considered to be done merely as part of public discussion or debate, or as entertainment or satire” before making its decision.

He also acknowledged this may have been the first time a news article had been censored using this section.

Passages in the article were taken from of Islamic State propaganda magazine Rumiyah.
Passages in the article were taken from of Islamic State propaganda magazine Rumiyah.Source:Supplied

“We are not aware of any similar decisions by the Classification Board, however we are aware of ongoing efforts by government departments, universities and indeed industry bodies such as the Australian Press Council to encourage and promote responsible, balanced reporting of news and issues relating to terrorism,” the spokesman said.

There is now concern about what the situation means for the operation of a free and independent media in Australia.

Representatives of have tried numerous times to get further explanation from the Attorney-General’s Department about the operation of the powers but these have been unsuccessful.

Recent inquiries to the department about how it became involved, whether the application of section 9A is reasonable or could be considered censorship, have also not been addressed.

“The Attorney-General was appointed in December 2017 and is therefore not aware of what discussions may or may not have taken place between the office of his predecessor and media outlets,” a spokesman for the Attorney-General told

“Classification Board decisions are a matter for that agency which sits in the Communications portfolio.”

The eCommissioner has also declined to reveal the source of “several complaints” that sparked its review, and whether they were from a member of the public or from a government official or representative.

“It is inappropriate to comment on the identity of individuals submitting complaints about offensive and illegal content, or to disclose any other information which could compromise the operational integrity of the investigation process,” a spokesman said. editor-in-chief Kate de Brito said any censorship of the media by a government department raised serious concerns about press freedom.

“This is a deeply concerning development of media censorship. The Classification Board has silenced the reporting of a legitimate threat to the Australian public,” she said. “Australians have a right to know if their safety or lives are being placed at risk — there can be few more important matters of public interest.

“The secretive way the Classifications Board acted in this way is a direct attack on freedom of the press and journalists should condemn it.”

While the Press Council also received at least one complaint about the article, its ruling published today found there was a public interest in publishing the article.

It agreed the article featured limited author input, analysis or context but accepted the need to warn the public.

“The Council accepts the public interest in alerting readers to potential risks to their safety,” the ruling says.

“The Council considers that on balance, the public interest in alerting readers to the dangerous content of the terrorist propaganda and its instructional detail was greater than the risk to their safety posed by the publication’s effective republication of terrorist propaganda content.”


Australia and East Timor agree on maritime border, 'pathway' to develop gas field

More natural gas!

East Timor and Australia have reached an agreement for a treaty on their disputed maritime border and on a "pathway" to develop the giant Greater Sunrise offshore gas fields, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague says.

Under the agreement, the share of revenue from the offshore gas field will differ depending on downstream benefits that arise from "different development concepts", the statement released following talks in Kuala Lumpur said.

The agreement would establish a maritime boundary in the Timor Sea for the first time.

Australia had sought a boundary aligned with its continental shelf, but East Timor argued the border should lie half way between it and Australia — placing much of the Greater Sunrise fields under its control.

In 2002 East Timor gained independence and the Timor Sea Treaty was signed, but no permanent maritime border was negotiated.

East Timor has long argued the border should sit halfway between it and Australia, placing most of the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field in their territory.

The long-running dispute had led the owners of Greater Sunrise — Woodside Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and Japan's Osaka Gas — to shelve the project.

The fields are estimated to hold 144 billion cubic metres of gas and 226 million barrels of condensates, which analysts have previously estimated could be worth up to $50 billion.

However, development could be at least a decade away, with Woodside looking at the latter half of the next decade.

Ending years of opposition, Australia agreed in 2017 to accept Dili's formal notice to terminate an agreement to split petroleum revenue equally from Greater Sunrise and set a 50-year timetable for negotiating a permanent sea boundary.

Dili had taken the long-running maritime border dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an intergovernmental organisation based at The Hague, which ordered compulsory arbitration between the two parties.

The court announced last year that the countries had reached an agreement "on the central elements of a maritime boundary delimitation between them in the Timor Sea" — but that details would remain confidential until the deal was finalised.

The two governments will meet in New York at the United Nations headquarters on March 6 to sign the new maritime boundary treaty, the statement said.

East Timor had been pushing for the building of an onshore processing plant to boost its economy rather than a floating plant.

According to media reports, East Timor could receive up to 80 per cent of revenue, but could agree to less if gas is piped to a terminal in the tiny country.

The Sunrise joint venture, led by Woodside, said it was aware the two governments had agreed on a new maritime boundaries treaty.

"We hope that the Commission's conclusions and the signing of the treaty will help to provide the fiscal and regulatory certainty required to develop Greater Sunrise for the benefit of all parties," a Sunrise joint venture spokeswoman said.

Australia's foreign ministry said the countries had "agreed [on] a draft treaty establishing our maritime boundaries and the sharing of revenue from the development of the Greater Sunrise resource".

In the emailed statement, the ministry said the countries would "continue to work towards a decision on the development concept for Greater Sunrise".

East Timor's oil minister, Hernani Filomena Coelho da Silva, said his country's preference was for the gas to come to his country to help development.


South Australia election: Xenophon’s party to force ice users into rehab

Ice users in South Australia will be forced into rehabilitation under an election policy announced by Nick Xenophon’s SA-BEST party.

Xenophon made the promise during a social issues debate in Adelaide on Tuesday involving the three candidates for premier. Xenophon, Labor’s Premier Jay Weatherill and Liberal leader, Steven Marshall.

Xenophon says he wants to slash the use of ice by half by 2020.

“Successive governments at state and federal level have had not had effective strategies in place to tackle the scourge of ice,” Xenophon said.

If his party has the balance of power, he will seek to pass legislation establishing mandatory rehab and detox facilities for ice users within the first three months.

The debate was a picture of shifting alliances from one topic to the next, with Marshall and Xenophon teaming up to criticise Weatherill over child protection services.

They argued the Labor government failed to adequately respond to the recommendations of a two-year royal commission prompted by the arrest of paedophile carer Shannon McCoole that concluded in 2016.

Marshall criticised the Weatherill government for failing to have a dedicated child protection minister, and pledged that a Liberal government would appoint one.

“You judge a state by how it defends its most vulnerable, and on that Labor stands condemned,” Marshall said.

Weatherill was scoffed at by the audience when he attempted to respond to a previous question directed at Xenophon rather than address the child protection question that had been put to him.

The alliance was temporary however, with Weatherill and Marshall joining forces to urge the focus on poker machines be moved over to online gambling rather than Xenophon’s approach to what the Labor leader described as Xenophon’s “backdoor” attempt to “close down venues by destroying their viability”.

Xenophon said pokies “remain a going concern” and pointed to the Australian Hotels Association financially backing both the Labor and Liberal parties.

The SA Best leader moved between gambling addiction and drug addiction, expressing concern that sewage analysis of Adelaide showed the city to have the highest methylamphetamine levels per person of anywhere in the country.

“My concern is those country communities that don’t have wastewater systems but just septic tanks, and the fear that they have even higher use,” he said.

He is also calling for a significant boost in funding for treatment programs and for monitoring of their effectiveness.

The former senator said during a recent murder investigation in Murray Bridge, east of Adelaide, police were shocked at the extent of ice use in the regional centre.

“The fact that a senior respected police officer was shocked by what was found is a wake-up call for all of us,” Xenophon said.

Weatherill also referenced the “scourge of ice” when he used the debate to launch a $70m commitment to outreach and support services for suicide prevention.

As ever in South Australian politics, energy was never far from the conversation. Marshall criticised Xenophon for a lack of detail of how his non-for-profit energy retailer would work, and attacked Labor for abandoning baseload power for intermittent renewables, pointing to his policy for a new interconnector with New South Wales and a $100m household battery storage scheme.

Xenophon spruiked his role in securing a concessional loan from the Turnbull government for the Aurora solar thermal plant in Port Augusta, and said his support for a new interconnector would depend on it being “modelled appropriately”.

Weatherill framed the power prices issue as one of a lack of competition, urging a rollout of more power generation. “The way you smash control of large gentailers is to introduce new forms of generation and retail it,” he said.  “They’re screwing us because they’ve got the power to screw us.”

Digital inclusion was another hot topic, with Weatherill pledging the Labor government would supply laptops to every year 10, 11 and 12 student in the state.

Xenophon said SA-Best would focus on using libraries as hubs of digital inclusion, and Marshall highlighted a $10m commitment to rolling out better internet access in regional areas.

Questions were sourced from online submissions made by the public and pulled out of red, blue and orange hats, representing the colours of the three major parties, to the amusement of Marshall.

“It’s like we’re on a game show,” 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


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


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