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

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


31 May, 2016

Bill Shorten: ‘Systemic racism’ still exists in Australia as there’s no agreement about how the country was taken from Aboriginal people

He falls at the first hurdle.  The country was NOT taken away from Aborigines.  They still live here.  And that others also now live here actually gives them rights and privileges that they never had in their tribal past.

But this racism accusation is deplorable  coming from someone who thinks he can lead the country. He calls Australians racist but still wants their vote.  Does that make him a racist too? Hate clearly blinds him.  But Leftists do tend to hate the society they live in so it is not really surprising.

And if there is "systematic" racism, where is it?  Where is the system or systems concerned?  The only systematic racism I know of is the various affirmative action policies of the Federal and State governments -- which  give privileges to blacks that are not available to whites.  That is certainly systematic racism but Shorten is presumably not condemning that.  His party is behind much of the racism concerned.

And to call racist a country that has for many decades welcomed immigrants from all over the world is the height of absurdity.  Few countries have been as welcoming to foreigners as Australia.  But Australia has always tried to select migrants in a way that excludes problem people and still insists on that right of selection.  People who try to sneak in the back door are not sent away because of their race but because of their contempt for reasonable Australian laws.

That Aborigines live in a way that most whites deplore is their affair.  If unemployed, they get the same dole money as any other unemployed person and many unemployed people live civilized lives.  I lived on the dole for a couple of years in my youth and I lived quite well.  Nobody would have thought me to be pitied.

There is no doubt that Aborigines envy whites some things but the solution to that is to work for what they want.  Australia now has a very large minority of East Asian people who are very prosperous and contribute a great deal to the community.  But many arrived here penniless and unable to speak English. And, like Aborigines, they look different.  That they have nonetheless done so well shows that the opportunity is there for everyone in Australia. 

If Aborigines fail to take advantage of the opportunities available to them, that is their decision and it should be respected.  Let us not criticize them for being loyal to their own traditions

OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten has declared “systemic racism is still far-too prevalent” and says there isn’t “fundamental agreement about how the country was taken from Aboriginal people”.

Mr Shorten made the comments at a Reconciliation Australia Dinner in Melbourne, after campaigning in Darwin on indigenous affairs issues.  “Systemic racism is still far-too prevalent,” he said.

“The insidious nature of stubborn racism is still a reality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals — regardless of the status and stature they achieve in our society.

“Every generation of Aboriginal athlete, from Doug Nicholls to Nicky Winmar to Michael Long to Adam Goodes has known this.”

Mr Shorten said he knew “racism is not true of most Australians”, and that he was proud of those who stand up to it.

But he also acknowledged there was more to be done as “this sense of discrimination percolates down to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the street every day”.

Mr Shorten said real equality came from “being truthful”.

“Right now, there is not fundamental agreement about how the country was taken from Aboriginal people,” he said.

“Or the issues about settlement, and colonisation.

“We need a process to find the common ground, on such matters, for the common good of our nation.”

Mr Shorten went on to say the “disgraceful fiction of the doctrine of terra nullius has been disproved”.

“But without a future framework agreed with Aboriginal people, all the arguments from 1788 onwards will continue to plague us,” he said.

“Our goal should be to agree to a future which gives us all pride and respect.”

The Opposition leader went on to say it was important to acknowledge there was “unfinished business — and there are new pathways to be developed”.

“The reconciliation process has provided a constructive opportunity for our nation to find agreement on these fundamental issues — or at least help us settle them,” he said.

“But the concept of Reconciliation has — for too long — been split by some into a false dichotomy.

“‘Practical’ reconciliation on one hand — and ‘symbolic’ actions like compensation and agreements on the other.

“The truth is we need agreement on both paths.”

The Opposition Leader said the nation could not truly celebrate its achievements in the area of indigenous affairs while was “still a sense of injustice lingering in the hearts and minds of the first Australians”.


Homeowners kept in dark about climate change risk to houses, says Greenie report

They are asking for information that does not exist.  There is no way sea level rise can be predicted.  No Greenie prediction has come true yet -- and they have made many, most of which were hilariously wrong.  The Climate Institute is a privately funded Warmist organization that is at present struggling for funding.  The "report" referred to would seem to be an attempt to drum up funding for themselves

The risk that houses in some areas of Australia are likely to become uninsurable, dilapidated and uninhabitable due to climate change is kept hidden from those building and buying property along Australia’s coasts and in bushfire zones, a Climate Institute report says.

The report says there is untapped and unshared data held by regulators, state and local governments, insurers and banks on the level of risk, but that most homebuyers and developers are not told about the data and do not have access to it.

“Even when public authorities, financial institutions and other stakeholders possess information about current and future risk levels, they are sometimes unwilling, and sometimes unable, to share it with all affected parties,” the report released on Monday says.

“Thus, foreseeable risks are allowed to perpetuate, and even to grow via new housing builds. The full scale of the risk may only be recognised either through disaster or damage, or when insurance premiums become unaffordable. Any of these events can in turn affect housing values.”

The economic costs are high and could ultimately represent a real risk to the financial sector itself, the report says. While insurers, regulators and governments have started to recognise this risk, banks who approve the mortgages for at-risk properties have not yet begun working towards a solution.

For example, the report says, banks could integrate the impact of climate into their risk assessment processes, work with other stakeholders in the public, private and civil society sectors to research and develop ways to minimise climate impact risk to housing, and address losses that will occur in an equitable way.

It also says that state, federal and local governments could do more to protect buyers, by including climate risk in planning, development and approval processes, mandating the disclosure of all available hazard mapping, and requiring that all dwellings be built or renovated as fit-for-purpose for the maximum projected impacts of climate change.

Extreme weather and climate change risks associated with a property should also be disclosed at the point of sale.

“Even if these ‘uninsurable’ and ‘unadaptable’ properties are only a tiny minority of the total housing stock, the eventual devaluation could be financially devastating to individuals,” the report says. “It could also be damaging to banks, other financial companies and public balance sheets at all levels of government.

An author of the report and the manager of investment and governance at the Climate Institute,Kate Mackenzie, said the sector had to be proactive before houses became damaged, otherwise there could be a costly and messy battle over who bore responsibility.

For example, she said, councils could be liable for not providing flood data and for permitting a vulnerable development to go ahead, the developer for building it, the home owners for not realising the risk, the building code authority, the banks for financing the development and the mortgages, or the insurers.

“There’s definitely a big need for governments to show leadership on this,” she said.

“There have been a few very good recommendations made in the past by public policy reviews which really haven’t been followed up at the federal level or at the state level or through Coag, which would provide a mechanism for a national adaptation strategy.”

These included the reports from an Australian Treasury taskforce, the natural disaster insurance review, and two Productivity Commission inquiries, she said.

Her report concludes: “A sense of exasperation is evident among those who have spent any length of time seeking to address the economic and policy challenges posed by extreme weather.”

Some researchers are already taking the matter into their own hands and developing products to help buyers manage risk. Last month, the website Coastal Risk Australia was launched. It combines Google maps with detailed tide and elevation data, as well as future sea-level rise projections, to help people see whether their house or suburb is likely to be inundated.


Shorten's weak stance on religious freedom
This week Labor leader Bill Shorten announced his party will not join the Greens in supporting the abolition of religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws.

"We haven't seen the case made to make change," he told a press conference. "At this point in time, let me be really clear about that."

This less-than-resounding statement was followed by a more emphatic addendum on the superfluity of a gay marriage plebiscite.

"But also let's be straight up here. It is a massive waste of money, $160 million being spent on a plebiscite on marriage equality. Why should some people's relationships have to undergo the gauntlet of public opinion and taxpayer-funded hate campaigns?"

Casually referring to "hate campaigns" is not very reassuring in this context, considering that the very anti-discrimination laws in question are those under which the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart was subjected to a formal complaint seeking to ban a temperately worded booklet laying out the church's teaching on marriage.

Even less reassuring is that the Labor party's national platform says that anti-discrimination laws would be reviewed under a Labor government. No doubt the Greens would continue to push hard during such a review for the elimination of religious exemptions.

Shorten's half-hearted semi-endorsement does nothing to quell the uncertainty that does so much to fuel the bitterness of the marriage debate. Those on both sides who are weary of the culture wars should work toward a stable, sustainable truce that protects minorities of all kinds, not prolong uncertainty by foreshadowing future U-turns.

Exemptions for religious groups protect good-faith adherents of traditional views like Archbishop Porteous. Religious freedom is a fundamental Australian value that deserves our politicians' full-throated endorsement -- or at least something stronger than "we haven't seen the case made ... at this point in time."


How to play the man not the ball: negative gearing edition

Negative gearing has yet again been splashed in the media this week. On Tuesday, a draft report arguing against the ALP's proposed changes to negative gearing and CGT was leaked to the press.

The report was criticised because it was commissioned by Greg Paramor, managing director of property company Folkestone, after he met with the Treasurer. So does this criticism mean that politicians can never commission reports? If so, how would oppositions ever be able to get research done?

Or does it mean that links with political parties nullify a report? If so, should McKell Institute and Per Capita reports be dismissed due to ALP links, or The Australia Institute reports because they have links to the Australian Greens? Or does this rule only apply to the Coalition?

Other criticism focused on the report containing typos, with the critics conveniently forgetting that it is a draft -- evidently a fairly early one.

But this is all playing the man not the ball. Noting it is still a draft, the report makes substantive points that should be the focus. It argues the winding back of negative gearing will result in large rent increases, leading to increased need for rental assistance.

It argues the existing system has reduced the number of households in rental stress and increased the number of rental properties, in contrast to arguments from the Grattan Institute. The report argues these rental effects will be put in jeopardy by any change. The report also argues the existing tax system hasn't reduced home ownership, because the increase in rental properties offsets a decline in social housing.

It is these last points that should be the focus of the debate, not the superficial discussion that has occurred so far.


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


30 May, 2016

Australian university places still mainly filled by better-off students despite uncapping

This is a good example of shallow Leftist thinking leading to a result the opposite of what was intended.  A measure designed to help the poor has helped the rich.  Dumbing down university admission standards to help the poor sounds right for about 5 minutes -- until you look at the source of the problem. 

And the source is clearly the bad schools that the poor are forced to attend.  And you can't fix the schools by making university education dumber.  It is clear what is needed:  Restoration of discipline in the schools so that teachers are free to teach, no matter how poor the catchment area of the school may be.  As it is at the moment, a few disruptive students can hold back a whole class.

And student fees are another deterrent to the poor -- but not to the rich.  So a wealthy family can now get a university degree for their kid even though the kid might not be the brightest

AUSTRALIA’S universities ­remain the playground of the "rich and thick", who are gaining entry to degrees with low scores thanks to reforms ­designed to help the poor.

That has prompted one university head to warn that you don’t "change the make-up of the flock by leaving the farm gate open".

Thanks to former prime minister Julia Gillard’s decision to uncap university places, unis can enrol as many ­students as they wish, with the federal government funding the places and students running up $67 billion in uni loans.

It is estimated that one in four of these debts will never be repaid to taxpayers.

The number of students gaining university places with a tertiary entry mark under 50 is on track to hit 10,000 students this year.

But the target of 20 per cent of students from low-income backgrounds by 2020 is proving tougher to deliver.

The proportion of low-income students attending university had remained ­stable, at around 16 per cent, for nearly two decades.  Uncapping places has lifted it by only about 1 per cent.

University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Stephen Bebbington has previously warned the reforms had not done much to lift participation of disadvantaged kids. "As my father the farmer would have said, ‘You don’t change the make-up of the flock by leaving the farm gate open’," he said.

The Group of Eight (Go8) universities, Australia’s eight leading research universities, have previously warned that the reforms need a rethink. "Although the proportion of students from a low SES background has increased over the past five years, 80 per cent of growth still occurred in students from medium and high SES backgrounds."

There are also claims that wealthy public and private schools "inflate" entry scores with intensive tutoring that leaves those students struggling at third-level.

Curtin University researchers found that schools with higher socio-economic status inflate their students’ university entry scores and hence ­access to university.

Meanwhile, Grattan Institute director Andrew Norton said there was evidence that students from disadvantaged backgrounds who had defied the odds to make it to university performed better than their lower Year 12 scores predict.  "They are resilient and have the work ethic to succeed even if their ATARs are lower."

Some critics are calling for a new debate around whether a university education should be regarded as a prerequisite for all, citing the example of successful Australians, including Paul Keating and philanthropist and businessman Frank Lowy, who did not attend uni.


How the racing industry turned its back on Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne

Now why would that be?  Could it be that her feminist tirade at the Cup condemning men in the racing industry went down like a lead balloon?  The lamebrain seems not to understand the importance of getting on with people.  But you can't expect a jockey to be bright, I suppose. Condemning the men in the racing industry and them expecting them to give you work is about as stupid as Gillard's big feminist tirade -- which ultimately got her turfed out of office when her popularity among male voters dropped to about 20%

Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne was riding for just $190 at a country track in Victoria on Monday when she suffered serious abdominal injuries and was forced to have surgery for an injury which threatens to end her career.

Payne, 30, remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital after the fall in race seven at Mildura - only six months after winning Australia's greatest race in November where she delivered a confronting speech about inequality and chauvinism in the sport.

But riding in Mildura in Victoria's far north-west on Monday and then Casterton on the Sunday before are a far cry from the glitz and glamour of Cup week at Flemington and her ambassadorial role ahead of Rosehill Guineas Day during the Sydney Autumn Carnival in March.

After becoming the first woman to ride a Melbourne Cup winner, on Prince of Penzance, Michelle Payne quickly became the face of racing and was widely sought after - featured on magazine covers and approached for speaking engagements.

But with increasing pressure from family members to quit racing after her latest bad fall - that's where her future may now be.

Aside from taking mounts at Morphetville (including Prince of Penzance's return to racing) for champion trainer Darren Weir, for whom she rode the Cup winner, the majority of rides have been at country venues like Ararat and Pakenham.


Far from bleached, reef’s in the pink

West Australian coral is doing fine while Queensland (Eastern)  coral is extensively bleached.  So any pretense that the Queensland situation is part of a global phenomenon is at least dubious.  There's some very confused thinking about El Nino and La Nina below.  The journalist appears to have the two mixed up

Scientists have discovered that the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef off the West Australian coast — the largest fringing reef in Australia — has escaped any recent coral bleaching and that some areas are in the same condition as 30 years ago.

CSIRO ecologist Damian Thomson said yesterday a major study of the reef that ended this month had found that Ningaloo was unaffected by the current bleaching "event” that has hit Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef and other reefs off WA’s northern coast.

He said the research — funded by CSIRO and BHP Billiton through a $5.4 million partnership — showed Ningaloo was more resilient than expected.

"It’s really pleasing that Ningaloo hasn’t undergone any bleaching — it’s fantastic news actually,” Mr Thompson said.

The clean bill of health will be welcomed by the tourism industry around Exmouth, a town ­reliant on thousands of visitors visiting the reef every year ­between April and July to snorkel with migrating whale sharks. Later this year, tourists will also be able to swim with humpback whales, which is expected to double the length of Exmouth’s $6m tourist season.

Conservationists are worried about the human impact on the reef and have also raised concerns in recent years about ­increased oil and gas exploration — including by BHP — close to Ningaloo Marine Park.

Mr Thomson said while coral bleaching remained a possible future threat to the reef, the sheer number of people visiting the area was its major challenge.

"It’s a relatively small tract of reef when you look at the extent of the Australian coastline, but the number of people that love holidaying there or going there for other activities, it is very well used. That is probably the main challenge, managing that.”

Mr Thomson said bleaching tended to occur on Australia’s west coast during La Nina years, when strong currents from ­Indonesia pushed warm water south to Ningaloo. But during the recent El Nino, those strong currents had not ­occurred, ­resulting in cooler waters.

CSIRO research surveyed 70 sites at Ningaloo and found no coral bleached at locations where bleaching was recorded in 2010. At Osprey, on the western part of Ningaloo, results were as good as those taken in 1987. Ningaloo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011 for its biological diversity and conservation significance.

The findings are for the first year of field work undertaken by the Ningaloo Outlook project, which aims to increase the ­ecological understanding of the reefs.


Old Commo Roz Ward quits Vic government role

Controversial Safe Schools Coalition co-ordinator Roz Ward has resigned from a Victorian government advisory role after The Australian discovered a Facebook post where she labelled the national flag "racist”.

Ms Ward made a Facebook post on Tuesday after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews apologised to the gay community for past discrimination.

The government hoisted a gay-pride rainbow flag on parliament house as part of the event.

Ms Ward posted a photo of the rainbow flag on Facebook with the comment: "Now we just need to get rid of the racist Australian flag on top of state parliament and get a red one up there and my work is done.”

The Australian last night asked Ms Ward and the Victorian government for a comment on the post, given she is implementing Safe Schools and is advising the government on LGBTI issues.

In response to the request, her resignation was announced this afternoon.


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

29 May, 2016

We Should Be Accepting Refugees For Their Humanity, Not Their Literacy (?)

Once again a Leftist shows an inability to mount a valid argument, let alone a thought-out argument.  Ms Kovesi below quotes the case of two highly qualified central Europeans in the '50s as some sort of argument against Australia's current immigration  policies.  But the people trying to force themselves on us at the moment are nothing like highly qualified central Europeans.  They have low levels of literacy even in their own languages and few (about 16%) obtain full time jobs. The rest parasitize the Australian taxpayer.  So her example is completely irrelevant.  And the fact is that the two Europeans concerned came to Australia LEGALLY, whereas the "boat people" arrive illegally.

Ms Kovesi seems herself to see that the examples she gives have no real force so she trails off into saying that shared humanity is the reason why we should throw open the doors to all and sundry.  But we have shared humanity with rapists and murderers too.  So should we welcome them with open arms too?  Perhaps Ms Kovesi would like to billet a serial rapist in her own home? He's human too, you know. And that's all that matters, is it not? She may have a doctorate in history but I think most ordinary Australians would see her as a drongo

Last week’s comments by Peter Dutton that ‘illiterate’ refugees will take Australian jobs  misses the point at several levels, writes Catherine Kovesi.

Unsurprisingly, the electoral debate has brought the handful of tragic asylum seekers who live forcibly at our peripheries to our emotional centre stage once more. This time the argument is based on their possible illiteracy and job taking aspirations.

The response by some has been immediately to show the number of highly literate former asylum seekers who are now active and productive participants in Australian society. Others have shown instead how their illiterate parents became productive members of Australian society.

But does this advance the nature of the debate? Are literacy skills or the lack thereof what we should be basing the argument around in the first place?

My father and his brother filled out asylum seeker application forms to come to Australia in 1950. They were 19 and 23 respectively. Both were men of the mind. Highly literate, politically engaged young intellectuals. Fluent in Hungarian, and German, passable in French, and well versed in Latin. But with no English.

My father had studied Philosophy at Budapest University, and then, as a refugee in Austria in 1949, at Salzburg University. My uncle had studied medicine at the same institutions.

However in 1950, Australia was not interested in refugees’ literacy skills. In fact the very opposite. The country was only accepting refugees who had demonstrable practical skills.

My father had only just learnt to drive on the steep alpine slopes of the Tyrol, but he was accepted into Australia on the pretence that he was a truck driver, and my uncle that he was a shoemaker.

Anxiously, as they sailed towards Australia on the good ship Skargum with many other middle European refugees, my uncle studied an old shoemakers’ manual that he had hurriedly bought prior to departure, in case he arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia, to find materials to make a shoe waiting for him at Customs, in order to demonstrate his shoemaking expertise.

Both did indeed take on manual jobs when they arrived. Whilst living in the Northam refugee detention centre, my father worked variously as a gardener (planting out the grounds of the University of Western Australia), as a kiosk salesman on Cottesloe Beach, and as an orderly in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Perth. It was in that sanatorium that he spied some philosophy books on the table of one of the patients.

That patient, Professor Selwyn Grave, encouraged my father, who spoke little English, to come and study at the University of Western Australia – in the glory days of free undergraduate education. My father and my uncle did so.

Within five years my father had a scholarship to Oxford University. My uncle went on to Cambridge to study English Literature (although he always lamented that reading Shakespeare in the original was a disappointment).

But both returned to the country that had offered them asylum. Both went on to academic careers at the University of Western Australia – my uncle teaching English literature with a special focus on Shakespeare, and my father teaching Philosophy to generations of students.

Both are remembered with great fondness.

Sadly both are now dead.

But what they both offered Australia was not their literacy or otherwise. They offered quite simply all that we in turn can hope to offer desperate people who recognise something of good in the traditions of our island sanctuary – their humanity.

Can the debate please be removed from questions of literacy, and return to common questions of our shared humanity?


Labor party racism still at work

When Nova Peris was nominated for the Senate by the Labor party's Julia Gillard, it was blatant racism.  The long-serving incumbent Labor senator, Trish Crossin, was given the boot in favour of Peris -- someone with no discernible eligibility for the job other than the colour of her skin. She was not even a member of the party when given the nod.  She proved as poor in her Senate job as one would expect and implicitly acknowledged that herself by resigning. 

The Labor party has learnt nothing however.  All the candidates to replace her also seem to be Aboriginal.  The Labor party claim to be opposed to racism, but they  practice it anyway

Five women will fight to replace outgoing politician Nova Peris as Labor's top Senate candidate for the Northern Territory.

Former NT Labor minister Marion Scrymgour, Yothu Yindi Foundation CEO Denise Bowden and Labor staffer Cathryn Tilmouth put their names forward as nominations closed on Friday afternoon.

The trio join journalist and former politican Malarndirri McCarthy and Senator Peris's chief of staff Ursula Raymond, who threw their hats into the ring earlier in the week, reported The ABC.

Senator Peris quit politics on Tuesday, which was also National Sorry Day, saying she needed to put family first and spend more time with her children.

Ursula Raymond, Peris's former top staffer, is reportedly the favourite to replace her old boss.

Ms Raymond has a long association with Senator Peris and outside of politics is the associate producer for Darwin's annual Garrmalang Festival.

Malarndirri McCarthy is an experienced journalist who was worked for the ABC and SBS. She quit journalism to enter politics in 2005 and was elected as the Labor member for Arnhem, NT, with a resounding 73 per cent of the vote.

After seven years in politics Ms McCarthy was defeated by Country Liberal Party member Larissa Lee in the 2012 election.

Former state Labor minister Marion Scrymgour is looking to re-ignite her 11-year career after standing down in 2012. When she was elected in 2001 Ms Scrymgour became the first Indigenous woman chosen for parliament in the NT. As Labor's Deputy Chief Minister from 2007 to 2009, Scrymgour was the highest-ranked Indigenous woman in any government in Australia's history.

Denise Bowden is a relative newcomer to politics but boasts an impressive resume as the CEO of the Yothu Yindi Foundation. The foundation was established in 1990 to promote Indigenous community development in the NT and Ms Bowden has been the CEO since April 2010. Ms Bowden is also the director of the annual Garma Festival which promotes Indigenous culture and economic development.

Cathryn Tilmouth is a Labor staffer who has previously worked for former NT Labor leader Delia Lawrie.  She currently works as an electorate officer for NT politician Ken Vowles and has also worked for federal minister Martin Ferguson.  In 2014 it was reported that Ms Tilmouth was in line to challenge Senator Peris for pre-selection to the senate, although the challenge never eventuated.

Senator Peris entered politics in 2013 as a 'captain's pick' by then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard following a successful sporting career. She was the first Indigenous Australian to win an Olympic gold medal and competed as a part of the women's hockey team at the 1996 and 2000 events.

Labor's national executive will choose her replacement and is expected to announce its decision on Monday.


The election is shaping as a battle between the two most politically correct leaders in Australia’s history

Mark Latham, below, was a terible leader of the ALP but is always outspoken, a rare virtue

IN this era of political correctness and gender fluidity, Mother’s Day is lucky to survive. Under the guidance of the Safe Schools program, it’s only a matter of time before the second Sunday in May becomes an UN-sanctioned International Day For People Who Identify As Being Mothers. It will be open to men and women alike.

This is the logical extension of Leftist identity politics: a belief that capitalist social conditioning has fried our brains so badly that none of us can figure out our true gender role.

I’m a 55-year-old man who has spent the past 40 years admiring attractive women and, along the way, fathering three children.

But if only they had taught Safe Schools in the 1970s, I could have broken free from capitalist indoctrination, signed up for neo-Marxist gender politics and emerged as Australia’s answer to Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.

At Sunday’s lunch in the splendid La Vigna Restaurant in Camden, my kids could have had two mothers, not just one.

On Father’s Day we wouldn’t have to bother, staying home to read our gender fluidity lecture notes from La Trobe University.

Not surprisingly, in my state of false consciousness, I’m not alone. As I looked around the restaurant two days ago, all the mothers ­appeared to be women and all the fathers appeared to be men.

They too missed the Safe Schools lesson where you arrive from outer space without a penis or vagina and then sort out what to do.

Undeterred by our lack of formal education, we dug into the veal scallopini and seafood ravioli instead.

It says something bizarre about Australian politics that in this election campaign, both major parties are committed to keeping Safe Schools and the equally Goebbelesque Building Respectful Relationships program. As a duo, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are the two most politically correct leaders in our history.

They have formed an elitist bipartisanship around the things the Australian people aren’t allowed to hear.

Think of it as the great silence swindle of election 2016.

Over the next eight weeks there will be no talk of how welfare dependency in places like Auburn, Parramatta and Merrylands has become an Australian breeding ground for Islamic terrorism.

There will be no talk of how the nation’s 200,000 per annum immigration program is adding daily to congestion and urban sprawl, making large parts of Sydney unlivable. There will be no talk of amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to restore genuine freedom of speech.

There will be no talk of curbing the thought-police powers of the Human Rights Commission, which has declared its right to name and shame “racists”, even when there is no evidence of racial malice.

There will be no talk about the true extent of domestic violence in Australia: the ABS statistic showing an annual rate of domestic assault against women of 1.06 per cent. Instead, we’ll be bombarded with more taxpayer-funded propaganda about an “epidemic” and “national emergency”.

From Bill Turnbull and Malcolm Shorten, there will be no talk about the importance of teaching strength and resilience in our schools.

Their education policies will add to the Age of Sookery — where children are encouraged to play the victim, seeking quotas and other nanny-state interventions to succeed in life. There will be no talk of ending Australia’s pill-pop culture, where newly invented ailments such as “anxiety depression” have become an all-purpose alibi for errant footballers, welfare slackers and those claiming to be freaked out by the prospect of a democratic national vote on same-sex marriage.

Most of all, there will be no talk exposing the fraud of identity politics: the Leftist obsession subdividing our nation on the basis of race, gender and sexuality.

By encouraging people to focus on their individual identity, the Left is atomising society and destroying our sense of community, no less than the individualistic Right.

How fitting for this election to have been called on Sunday. It’s the mother of all politically correct charades.


Australia’s secret ETS starts in five weeks

Quietly, surprisingly, Australia’s climate change policy has become a bipartisan emissions trading scheme, or ETS … well, almost. The parties might try to manufacture differences for the election campaign, although they haven’t yet, and anyway they don’t really exist.

From July 1, coincidentally the day before the election, the Coalition’s “safeguard mechanism” within its Direct Action Plan will come into force.

One-hundred and fifty companies, representing about 50 per cent of Australia’s total carbon emissions, will be capped by legislation at their highest level of emissions between 2009-10 and 2013-14.

If they emit less than their caps, they will get credits, called Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), which were created by the Gillard government’s 2011 legislation; if they emit more, they have to buy ACCUs on the market.

The caps specifically include the electricity sector and the ACCUs are “financial products” under both the Corporations Act and the ASIC Act, and can be traded, so an ETS market will be established from July 1.

It is, in short, a classic cap-and-trade ETS, similar in effect to the one legislated by the ALP in 2011, but which unwisely started with a fixed price that could be labelled a carbon tax, and was repealed on July 17, 2014 by the Abbott government, with high-fives and champagne.

What hasn’t been announced or included in the Coalition’s legislation yet is that the caps will start to be reduced from next year, which will make it even more similar in some ways to the Gillard government’s Clean Energy Act 2011.

The legislation that included the Coalition’s ETS was passed by the Senate — with the support of both the ALP and the Greens — on its last day of sitting in 2015, in December.

As it happens, that was the day before the Paris climate conference, called COP 21, got underway, at which an agreement to keep the global temperature increase to 2 degrees was signed by 189 countries, including Australia.

The emissions caps imposed on 150 companies are described by the government as a “safeguard mechanism” to support the Emissions Reduction Fund that is the centrepiece of the Direct Action Plan, in which companies bid at auction for the right to be paid to reduce their emissions. Those auctions have so far resulted in 143 million tonnes of abatement at an average price of $12.10 per tonne, which is much lower than had been forecast by the scheme’s opponents.

The Department of Environment’s website says: “The safeguard mechanism will protect taxpayers’ funds by ensuring that emissions reductions paid for through the crediting and purchasing elements of the Emissions Reduction Fund are not displaced by significant increases in emissions above business-as-usual levels elsewhere in the economy.”

But depending on the gradient of cap reduction that is decided next year, the safeguard itself could end up becoming the central pillar of Australia’s response to the Paris agreement.

That’s because the government almost certainly can’t afford to pay for enough abatement under the auction system to meet its Paris commitments, given the state of the budget.

In fact, the safeguard mechanism becomes a way for the government — Coalition or Labor — to adjust the budget deficit: reducing the “safeguard” caps faster would reduce the amount that the ERF would have to pay out.

The interesting question is why no one is talking about any of this. Obviously the 150 companies involved know about it, and it’s all described in full on the department website, but the fact that Australia has effectively legislated an emissions trading scheme is virtually a secret.

So far, climate change has been absent from the election campaign and will probably remain so — because fundamentally the parties agree now. The only disagreement is likely to be rate of the reduction in the caps, and no one is ready to talk about that yet.

In fact, the idea of a cap-and-trade scheme has been part of the Coalition’s climate policy since well before Greg Hunt went from shadow minister to Minister for the Environment in 2013. He made it a condition of his appointment by Tony Abbott that the science of climate change would be accepted and the emissions reduction target would not change.

Within that, he and Abbott constructed a policy position that could more or less credibly be argued as achieving the abatement targets, while at the same time satisfying three requirements: differentiating their policy from the ALP, not increasing electricity prices and not upsetting the far right of the Coalition.

When Malcolm Turnbull became leader and Prime Minister last year, amazingly, he did not fully understand his party’s climate policy, and in particular the inclusion of a cap and trade ETS, because Hunt had never discussed it in Cabinet. Apparently, he was pleasantly surprised, but decided to maintain radio silence, as part of his broader efforts to keep the conservatives onside.

The whole process has been a remarkable strategy by Hunt: he has effectively steered an emissions trading scheme into Australia’s response to climate change through a ferociously polarised political debate.

It’s arguably a bit like Nixon in China — only a conservative minister could have done it.

The key has been not talking about the ETS part of the policy and to emphasise the lack of a price on all emissions. He hasn’t exactly kept it secret, since it’s in the legislation, but nor has he talked about it publicly and nor has anyone else.

Both the Greens and the ALP passed the legislation in December, even though they probably could have blocked it. Why? It’s because they basically agree with it and want to use the mechanism if elected.

Will it work? That depends on the gradient of the cap reductions when they start. The key is that an ETS has now been legislated in Australia and can be adjusted to fit requirements, either budgetary or political.

Will it result in higher electricity prices? Almost certainly. Shhh.


Police officer who faces trial after blowing the whistle on a brutal police bashing says he's received threats

A police officer facing trail for leaking footage of a violent police bashing has received death threats. Sergeant Rick Flori was sent a social media message betting $100 that he would be dead by the end of the week, The Courier Mail reported.

The revelation came on Friday after the suspended Queensland officer was committed to stand trial over the allegations he distributed CCTV footage to dishonestly cause a detriment to colleagues.

The video showed the brutal bashing of a handcuffed Noa Begic, 22, in the basement of the Surfers Paradise police station in 2012.

Mr Flori asserted his innocence in the Southport Magistrates Court, entering a formal plea of not guilty.

Prosecutors alleged that Mr Flori distributed the footage because he had a grudge against an officer in the video, Senior ­Sergeant David Joachim, who was filmed washing blood off the concrete.

Mr Flori's defence argued that he was trying to shed light on police misconduct in Queensland.

Magistrate Michael Hogan said Mr Flori did have a case to answer.  He set the matter for trial at a later date.

Outside court, Flori said he was pleased a jury would decide the outcome.  'I can't wait until the whole story comes out to be honest,' he said.  'I just hope that it doesn't get strung out for too long.'


27 May, 2016

El Nino over, BoM says, so winter rain could be on the way

A miracle has occurred.  The BoM has not blamed anything below on global warming

The latest El Nino cycle is over, which could lead to a wet winter, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

The bureau's modelling shows ocean surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific have cooled to neutral levels over the past fortnight.  Waters beneath the surface have also cooled.

Forecaster Michael Knepp said conditions were back to neutral and the bureau was now on La Nina watch. During La Nina events, rainfall in winter and spring is above average over northern, central and eastern Australia.

"[There's] a greater than 50 per cent chance that we might be in La Nina conditions later in the year," Mr Knepp said. "That's not a certain thing, just something to keep an eye on over the next few months."

International climate models indicate the tropical Pacific Ocean will continue to cool. Six of eight models suggest La Nina is likely to form during winter.

Mr Knepp said more rainfall could be expected across the region if predictions were correct, but the outlook accuracy at this time of year was low.

El Nino has contributed to drought conditions over the majority of Queensland. Currently, 85 per cent of Queensland is drought declared.

The bureau said almost the entire western half of Victoria was experiencing severe rainfall deficiency.  The rainfall deficiency in Tasmania covers much of the state.

Areas of serious to severe deficiency remain through inland Queensland and into northern New South Wales.

Large areas of South Australia and Western Australia are also experiencing serious rainfall deficiency.


Three newborn babies have died and another 167 have been infected by SYPHILIS in Queensland Aboriginal community
Syphilis is endemic in many Aboriginal communities -- mostly spread by rape

Three Aboriginal children have died from congenital syphilis in Queensland's worst outbreak in 30 years.

Since 2015, 167 new cases of congenital syphilis have been diagnosed in North Queensland, prompting Health Minister Cameron Dick to announce on Wednesday a five-year $15.7 million plan to tackle the sexually transmitted disease, according to The Brisbane Times.

Congenital syphilis infects babies when a pregnant woman contracts the disease and passes it along to her child. It can be treated with penicillin if diagnosed early.

The three children who died from the disease didn't receive timely healthcare, according to the Brisbane Times.

The North Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sexually Transmissible Infections Action Plan will disperse eight new specialists to north Queensland to increase the amount of regular sexual health screenings.

Sexual health education will also be administered in remote areas such as Doomadgee and Kowanyama.

Mr Dick said that he hopes the plan will stabilise the outbreak within five years but the Queensland government has given themselves 18 months to stop the increase in cases.

'This is an unacceptable situation and we need to ensure health services are working with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities,' Mr Dick said.

The plan predicts that some children will continue to die from congenital syphilis will continue until December 2017.


Australia ‘haunted by bureaucratic ghosts’ of Rudd and Gillard, red tape costing $176bn

SHUT it down. Fire them all.

That’s the message from free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, which is calling for Australia’s multitude of quangos, boards, tribunals, commissions, regulators and authorities to be cleansed with fire.

In a new report, The Red Tape State, the IPA estimates that 444 government bodies established by the Rudd and Gillard governments continue to exist, of which a staggering 198 are involved in imposing red tape on various industries.

To put that into context, there are roughly 1181 Commonwealth entities and bodies, 497 of which are involved in policy design or enforcement of the federal regulatory system.

In other words, 40 per cent of the various bodies responsible for enforcing red tape were created under Labor.

From the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and Safe Work Australia to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, a large number “impose substantial compliance and other costs upon the Australian economy”, the report says.

The think tank has previously estimated the cost of red tape at $176 billion annually.

However, the union representing more than 55,000 public sector workers has slammed the findings, saying corporate scandals at the 7-Eleven and the big banks highlighted the need for effective regulation.

In The Red Tape State, the IPA identifies 31 federal government bodies established under the Rudd and Gillard governments that should “at the very least” be done away with immediately.

Their functions should either be handed back to the states, merged with existing agencies or abolished altogether, saving at least $203 million, the report says.

The majority fall under the health and education portfolios.

They include 14 national health occupational licensing boards such as the Optometry, Dental and Pharmacy Boards, and education bodies including the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator.

The IPA recommends six be abolished completely — the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Clean Energy Regulator, Climate Change Authority, Anti-Dumping Commission and Anti-Dumping Review Panel.

In the case of the Anti-Dumping bodies, the IPA argues that “regulated prevention of cheaper imports into Australia harms consumers and producers”.

Together the 31 bodies employ around 900 people.

“As was the case with the now abolished Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, agencies like the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, Safe Work Australia and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency do nothing but impose excessive and unnecessary red tape on the Australian economy,” IPA senior fellow Mikayla Novak said.

The Rudd-Gillard government saw the biggest expansion of government bodies in the Finance portfolio, where the department had the ironic title of the Department of Finance and Deregulation, she said.

“Bill Shorten’s expansion of red tape bureaucracies would be a handbrake on economic growth and hurt Australia’s international competitiveness.”

The IPA is calling on either a re-elected Turnbull government or Shorten opposition to redouble efforts to abolish public sector red-tape regulators.
Canberra red tape costs $176 billion a year. Picture: Kym Smith

Canberra red tape costs $176 billion a year. Picture: Kym SmithSource:News Limited

Since the 2013 election the government has abolished or scheduled for abolition some 286 federal bodies, some of which were created under Labor and others under previous governments.

A lack of co-operation in the Senate and other political considerations means several Rudd-Gillard-era regulators previously slated for abolition remain in existence — most notably the Australian Charities and Not For Profits Commission, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

Earlier this year, the WGEA introduced strengthened mandatory reporting for companies about how they treat new mothers, despite earlier promises from the Abbott government that there would be no extension of reporting requirements for businesses.

“The federal government has been incurring budget deficits for almost a decade, while it is well known that regulatory growth has imposed significant compliance and economic costs upon Australian businesses and individuals,” the report says.

“As this paper indicates, at the very least there is the prospect that the Commonwealth can abolish 31 regulatory bodies immediately yielding a win-win of aiding the budget and economy at the same time.”

Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood said “unlike the IPA, Australians are far more concerned that the Commonwealth government provides effective regulation”.

“This has been highlighted by growing community concern about multinational corporations paying little or no tax while the Abbott-Turnbull Government has cut over 4000 jobs at the Tax Office,” she said.

“Recent scandals in the banking sector and 7-Eleven show how important it is to have adequately resourced regulatory agencies on the beat to stop dodgy corporations exploiting customers and employees.”

In 2013, the IPA released a similar report highlighting potential savings of $23.5 billion through cuts including slashing foreign aid, abolishing the Human Rights Commission and sacking around 24,000 public servants across 14 departments.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government had saved $1.5 billion since 2013 by abolishing or merging more than 200 bodies.

“We continue to explore further opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government administration,” she said.

“On top of this, we are saving about $2.7 billion by making the largest departments leaner by removing redundant functions and merging back office areas. Over the next four years we expect to save another $1.4 billion from a new efficiency drive and $200 million by rationalising property leases.

“The Coalition has been successfully implementing our Smaller Government Reform agenda to ensure the public sector is as streamlined, efficient and effective as possible.

“Our reforms are delivering greater value to taxpayers through better services delivered faster and at a lower cost.”


* Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

* National Vocational Education and Training Regulator

* Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency

* Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority

* Safe Work Australia

* Workplace Gender Equality Agency

* Australian Renewable Energy Agency

* Clean Energy Regulator

* Climate Change Authority

* Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority

* Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Advisory Council

* Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

* National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner

* Dental Board of Australia

* Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

* Occupational Therapy Board of Australia

* Optometry Board of Australia

* Osteopathy Board of Australia

* Pharmacy Board of Australia

* Physiotherapy Board of Australia

* Podiatry Board of Australia

* Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia

* Chinese Medicine Board of Australia

* Chiropractic Board of Australia

* Medical Board of Australia

* Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia

* Psychology Board of Australia

* Anti-Dumping Commission

* Anti-Dumping Review Panel

* Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission

* Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Advisory Board

TOTAL SAVING: $203 million


Social justice warriors perpetuate poverty

Jeremy Sammut

The reactions on the Left to the revelations about Duncan Storrar's past after his controversial appearance on Q&A last week have been predictably misguided.

News Limited publications -- The Australian and the Herald-Sun -- have been accused of engaging in vicious class warfare by seeking to discredit a person who had the temerity to question the right of wealthy people to receive tax cuts.

What was actually being questioned -- by a range of commentators including by myself -- was the simplistic explanation for social inequality given by the ABC.

If only poverty was simply a matter of money, rather than a matter of morals and manners -- the behavioral norms around education, work, and family life that account for different outcomes in life.

Nevertheless, those who try to unpick the complex causes of poverty have been accused of 'punching down'. We are vicious neo-liberals without social consciences who only care about keeping our own money in our own pockets.

Such caricatures are the standard stuff of political rhetoric, but should not be allowed to pass unchallenged.

Sure, I resent having to hand over a higher proportion than I should have to so that some people can lean on others rather than do their own lifting.

But the motivations that drive my interest in the underclass -- and especially the welfare of underclass children -- are more complex than this.

It may be my migrant heritage, but I like to believe Australia represents a new dispensation. This is a place where anyone, from any background, can make a go of life and rise up as far as their talents and efforts allow.

The existence in this country of a growing underclass that is trapped in intergenerational dependence and dysfunction offends my sense of the fair go.

The desire to right so terrible a social wrong is also entirely consistent with true classical liberal principles, which are founded in belief in equality of opportunity and in maximising the human potential of every individual.

I -- along with many other Australian taxpayers -- am sick of being lectured to about the need to address social inequality by spending more on welfare, which will only perpetuate the problem.

If people really want to eradicate poverty, the path is outlined in my book. And they should support the adoption of underclass children by functional families so as to give the most deprived children in the community a better chance of climbing off the lowest rungs of society.


Adam Salter shooting: Police agreed to lie about what happened, court hears

Adam Salter died after being shot by a policewoman in 2009. Four police officers at the scene when a man with a mental illness was shot dead "got their heads together" and agreed to lie about what happened, a Sydney court has heard.

In 2009, Adam Salter died after being shot in the back in a Lakemba home.

His father, Adrian Salter had called triple-0 seeking help for his 36-year-old son, who was bleeding in the kitchen after stabbing himself.

Four officers who were called to the scene are on trial, accused of lying to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) about what happened on the day.

Crown prosecutor Nanette Williams told the court the four officers - Sheree Bissett, Aaron Abela, Emily Metcalfe and Leah Wilson - deliberately gave false evidence to the PIC when questioned under oath in 2012.

"It is the crown's case that sometime after the shooting - perhaps even immediately after, they got their heads together and agreed to give a false account of what happened," she said.

The court heard Adam Salter managed to get hold of the knife for a second time even when the paramedics had arrived, and began stabbing himself again.

All four officers claim that one of them, Constable Aaron Abela tried to restrain Adam Salter before another officer - Sergeant Sheree Bissett - shot the victim.

"[Aaron Abela said] he attempted to restrain Adam Salter by grabbing his arm, but his arm slipped because it was covered in blood," Prosecutor Nanette Williams said.

"The crown's case is that this evidence is false, and that he knew it to be false."

The court heard Sergeant Sheree Bissett shouted "Taser, Taser!" but then fired her gun, shooting Adam Salter in the back while he was stabbing himself in the neck.

Adam Salter's father Adrian was the first witness to give evidence in the trial. He said when he heard a female officer shout "Taser" and saw his son fall to the ground, he was relieved because he thought his son had been Tasered, not shot.

"I thought 'that's OK' because he was sticking the knife in his [own] throat," Adrian Salter said.  "I then went to him and pulled his hand away - the hand that was holding the knife and he went limp."

Adam Salter was taken to Canterbury Hospital but he died shortly afterwards.

The trial is being heard by a judge only - Justice Greg Woods.

Earlier, tape recordings of calls made on the police radio system were played to the court.

In one, a female officer is heard explaining a man with a self-inflicted stab wound had been shot. "Just confirming he's been shot by police?" the man taking the call asks. The female officer is heard confirming that, and then adds "he was coming at us with a knife".


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 May, 2016

Australia is a nation of moguls and cartels

It is of course a general rule that cartels are bad for a country -- just as it is a general rule that import tariffs are bad.  A recognized exception to the rule about tariffs is however specifically called the Australian case -- an argument that tariffs may help diversify an economy that is overly dependent on erratically-priced agricultural and pastoral exports

And I think Australia is a special case when it comes to cartels too.  Australia has a relatively small population and cartels may be needed to enable Australian businesses to achieve optimal economies of scale.  Absent cartelization, there would be many small businesses rather than few big businesses.  And in that situation, none of the businesses may be big enough to achieve the most efficient size -- which would lead to prices being higher than they needed to be.

What I have said is of course theoretical and the case would almost certainly apply to some industries but not others.  It's one for the modellers to work on.  In the meantime we should not leap to conclusions and advocate "reforms".  Reforms could clearly be counterproductive in the absence of more data.

Ever played the game where you try to name an Aussie industry that isn't dominated by a handful of companies? Banks? Airlines? Supermarkets? Telcos?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants to lead a nation of innovators, entrepreneurs and start-ups.  But a new analysis proves what we've always known: Australia is prime breeding ground for monopolists, moguls and cartels.

And, according to the analysis by Labor MP and former academic economist Andrew Leigh, it's only getting worse.  In a speech delivered to honour Melbourne University economist John Freebairn on Thursday night, Dr Leigh shared the fascinating results of a comb through IBIS World data on the revenue share of firms in 400 industries.

The biggest four firms control more than four-fifths of the market in department stores, newspapers, banking, health insurance, supermarkets, domestic airlines, internet service providers, baby food, and beer and soft drinks.

The biggest four firms control more than two-thirds of the markets for petrol retailing, telecommunications, credit unions, cinemas, liquor retailing, bottled water and fruit juice.

And more than half of the markets for pharmaceuticals, hardware, gums, snack foods, magazines, newsagents and international airlines are controlled by the biggest four firms in those markets.

"Like a large tree that overshadows the saplings around it, firms that abuse their market power prevent newer competitors from growing. They hurt entrepreneurs and often reduce the scope for innovation. Consumers suffer through higher prices, lower quality and less choice," says Dr Leigh.

Compared with the US – where the top four firms control, on average, 33 per cent of that country's markets – market power of top firms in Australia is more concentrated at 41 per cent.

Australia is particularly mogulised when it comes to liquor retailing (78 per cent of market controlled by the top four firms, compared with 10 per cent of the market in the US), supermarkets (Australia 91 per cent, US 31 per cent), petrol (Australia 70 per cent, US 14 per cent) and cardboard manufacturing (Australia 88 per cent, US 36 per cent).

"The combined revenue of the 10 largest Australian firms – ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac, Wesfarmers, Woolworths, AMP, Australian Super, Rio Tinto and BHP – is the equivalent of one-fifth of the total Australian economy," says Leigh.

But surely things are getting better, as the cool winds of capitalism stir change and the emergence of new, more-efficient business models to challenge the dominance of the old?

Ha. No, market concentration in Australia is getting worse, according to Leigh.

The number of firms in Australia actually shrank 1 per cent from 2011-12 to 2014-15, driven not because more businesses collapsed, but due to a slowing in new business formation.

In the retail sector, the number of firms shrank 8 per cent, even as the value of goods and services produced in the industry grew 13 per cent.

Despite the entry of Aldi and Costco, the market share of Coles and Woolworths has risen from 60 per cent to 73 per cent since 2008 when Kevin Rudd held his grocery price inquiry.

Observers have long pointed to Australia's relatively small population and distance from larger markets to explain our corporate behemoths and the lack of competition they face.

However, according to Leigh: "This does not explain why markets should have become more concentrated. Since the turn of the century, Australian population growth has been among the fastest in the advanced world, and incomes per person have also risen (though not in recent years). If all that mattered was market size, there should be less concentration in Australia, not more."

According to Leigh, the shift to new technologies and the "weightless" economy were supposed to drive down barriers to entry and switching costs.  However, "in many sectors, this now looks to be a forlorn hope", he says. Think Google, Apple and Facebook.

It remains truer today than ever that to succeed in business in Australia, it matters not so much what you know, as who.

An outsized finance sector has grown up that makes a living charging fees for advising on mergers and takeovers that only further concentrate market power. The former merchant banker and managing director in Australia of Goldman Sachs, Malcolm Turnbull, should know this only too well.

According to the Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances, the number of mergers in Australia has risen from 394 in 1992 (with a combined value of $US12 billion) to 1460 last year (with a value of $US117 billion).

The concentration of market power among a smaller number of firms is only adding to forces driving greater inequality, says Leigh.

Labor has rejected the Coalition's so-called "effects test", which would override existing "misuse of market power" provisions and open firms to legal challenge over any activity that had the "effect, or likely effect" of reducing competition.

Turnbull angered big business when he adopted this policy this year in a sop to the National Party, which thinks the new clause would provide greater protection for suppliers to the supermarket giants.

In reality, however, it would apply to competitors of only the retailers, not suppliers, who are instead covered by existing "unconscionable conduct" protections. All the new test would probably do is expose all companies to costly litigation for doing what every business does: try to win a greater share of a market.

There are no easy solutions to diluting the growing market power of Australia's big corporates. Labor's proposals include higher penalties for and greater scrutiny of companies who target disadvantaged Australians.

But if we're serious about sowing the seeds of a more entrepreneurial and innovative nation, we need to start by acknowledging how removed that is from our present reality.

Oh, and if you want to win the guessing game; the most dispersedly controlled markets in Australia are for car dealers, hairdressers, dentists and law firms, the top four in those industries accounting for less than 10 per cent of the market.


Aurukun teachers evacuated again over safety concerns

Teachers in the Indigenous community of Aurukun in far north Queensland are being evacuated after children as young as six tried to steal a car.

It is the second time this month that teachers have been evacuated over safety concerns.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said a number of children were involved in the overnight incident.  "[There was] a group of young people trying to steal a car, throwing rocks at security guards and people's houses," he said.

Mr Stewart said the latest incident occurred near homes where teachers were staying.  "I have great sympathy for the teachers," he said.  "They're not armed and they're not trained to deal with the type of violence that sometimes occurs in those communities."

Mr Stewart said Aurukun usually had a contingent of eight officers but there was currently 17 in the town.  He said there would be another increase in police numbers, but more officers were not the answer.  "You could put a hundred police in there, this is about the community stepping up when they've agreed to do that," Mr Stewart said.

"I actually think parents have to be held to account.  "The community has to step up, parents have to step up to make Aurukun a safe place for everybody."

The Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) said the extra police had not been able to prevent teachers from fearing for their safety.

President Kevin Bates said the teachers' anxiety levels were high and they were under huge emotional strain.

"In response to increased concerns from staff the decision has been taken to withdraw [them] from the community until the end of this school term, so that they won't return until the beginning of term three," he said.

"The department has made it clear that if people don't feel that they can return to the community then they'll be supported to exit.  "People can't live and work in these types of conditions with these stresses without suffering consequences.  "This is a proper decision by the employer and we support it wholeheartedly."

Mr Bates said there was an alternative teaching program that could be provided to students in the absence of teachers.

Teachers had voted on Sunday to stay, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said they would leave the community immediately, with a decision about their return to be made closer to the new school term.

The Premier, who has met with ministers, directors general, and the Police Commissioner about the situation, said the safety of staff and the community had "always been the number one priority".

"I've been advised that the teachers are feeling unsafe so we are going to get the teachers out. We need to have a strong presence on the ground to really help build the community capacity," she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said she would travel to the community on Friday, with a public meeting to be held.  "[The Mayor is] going to call a big community meeting and I'll be there listening to what the community has to say," she said.

Most of the Cape York Academy's 25 staff and teachers had only returned last Thursday but tensions again flared on the weekend.

Principal Scott Fatnowna and his wife were allegedly threatened by three youths carrying machetes and knives on Saturday night when they returned home after visiting colleagues. The youths, who have been charged, allegedly took the government car for a joyride before it got bogged just out of town.

It comes after two teachers were terrorised in their home at the start of the month, and another carjacking involving Mr Fatnowna.


Pauline Hanson to make return to politics

Good.  I will be able to vote for her once again

PAULINE Hanson wants to halt Australia’s refugee intake and force people to be fingerprinted before they go to the doctor as part of an anti-immigration scare campaign.

If the former Oxley MP wins a seat in the Senate, she would use the platform to mount another attack on multiculturalism and push for an immigration policy that discriminates against Muslims.

In a series of Donald Trump-inspired policies, Ms Hanson wants a royal commission into whether Islam is “a religion or a political ideology”, a ban on new Islamic schools and CCTV cameras installed in existing mosques.

Ms Hanson wants Medicare cards to include photographs and fingerprints to stop what she says is fraudulent use of Australia’s health system by migrants.

Senior members of the Government and Opposition yesterday condemned Ms Hanson’s attempted political revival after The Courier-Mail revealed the major parties fear she is likely to win a Senate seat in Queensland.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warned the Coalition would only work with “sensible senators” and would shun Ms Hanson if she entered Parliament. “It seems to me she doesn’t have policies that will make a positive contribution,” she said.

Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said she was alarmed by the suggestion Ms Hanson “might be in with a chance”. “I’ve spent a lot of my adult life arguing against the views that she’s promulgated,” she said.

Queensland Labor Senate candidate and party powerbroker Anthony Chisholm said Ms Hanson’s return “could not come at a worse time” as Australia tries to boost economic ties with Asia.


Events in Europe vindicate Australian immigration policy

The spectre of political disruption in Europe moved another step closer to reality on Monday when Norbert Hofer, the anti-immigration candidate for Austrian president, lost by a hair’s breadth.

The rise of Hofer, leader of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party, to claim 49.7 per cent of votes is Europe’s Trump moment. For the first time since Austrian voters were given the right to choose their president in 1951, neither mainstream party will fill that role. Disillusioned with the political establishment and its inability to handle the migration crisis, voters cleaved to the far left and the far right and the win by former Greens and now independent Alexander Van der Bellen by 2,254,484 votes to Hofer’s 2,223,458 votes will do little to bridge Austria’s deep divisions. The lessons for Australia are clear. Those who foolishly demonised Immigration Minister Peter Dutton last week fail to understand that social and political cohesion depends on public confidence in an immigration system.

Snooty Europeans have had a tendency to look aghast at the rise of populist Donald Trump in the US. They turn up their noses at Trump’s rise as an “only-in-America” phenomenon where angry, mainstream Americans have snubbed the establishment for reasons relevant only to America. Yet, European elites now face their own nightmare on main street.

The driving force behind Hofer’s rise is deep community anxiety about the ramifications of uncontrolled immigration. In a small country that has taken in 90,000 asylum-seekers last year — more than 1 per cent of its population — almost half of Austria’s voters looked to a leader, even a symbolic presidential one — to send a blunt message to Austria’s political establishment: the political, social and economic consequences of uncontrolled immi-gration from the Middle East cannot be ignored any more.

The fault lines for Monday’s result were laid last year when Angela Merkel opened Germany’s door to every asylum-seeker fleeing Syria. Merkel’s welcome mat is a stark reminder that good intentions can lead to devastating outcomes — such as the rapes in Cologne on New Year’s Eve where one police report recorded a perpetrator saying: “I am Syrian. You have to treat me kindly. Mrs Merkel invited me.” As Milton Friedman said, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” European elites ruminating over Monday’s election should see Hofer’s rise as the direct result of Merkel’s policy.

Moreover, the Austrian vote is not an outlier event. Far from Hofer being Europe’s solitary Trump, a glance across the continent reveals the political centre has shattered, as people look elsewhere for a voice. Far-right politicians are engaging with voters on issues long ignored by elites: economic insecurity, EU elitism, open borders, national identity, social and cultural cohesion.

Start in France where far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and her National Front party may cause shock waves in next year’s presidential and legislative elections. In Germany anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany has emerged as a force in state elections. In The Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and beyond, outrage over immigration has put populists into parliament. It’s the same northwards where Scandinavian countries famous for their social welfare models have also felt the backlash against uncontrolled immigration policies.

In Norway, there’s Sylvi Listhaug from the populist Progress Party. The Finns Party (formerly True Finns) is in government in Finland. In Sweden, which has accepted the highest number of refugees per capita than any other country in the world, far-right nationalists, Sweden Democrats, is the country’s third largest party. In January, the Swedish government decided to deport 80,000 asylum-seekers.

In Denmark too, Merkel’s migrant-crisis fault lines have elevated Thulesen Dahl, the leader of the Danish People’s Party, to represent the second-largest party in parliament.

In fact, the unfolding immigration debate in Denmark offers an insight into all that is wrong with the unthinking rush of many on the Left to condemn Europeans as xenophobic if they raise questions about the arrival of more than one million asylum-seekers this year alone.

In Foreign Policy, James Kirchick explores how Denmark’s response to Europe’s migration crisis “is now looking like the better part of wisdom”. Media elites derided new Danish laws that allow the state to confiscate property from migrants seeking welfare as reminiscent of the Third Reich.

Writes Kirchick, “these reduction ad Hitlerum arguments are facile” given the same laws apply to native-born Danes. Equally shallow is the way the media has lionised Merkel as a selfless humanitarian given her policy has fuelled the rise of anti-immigration sentiments across Europe.

The self-evident truth that immigration policy needs support from the people is too often ignored by media and political elites. Danes are keen to buttress their social welfare compact, where a largely homogenous country understood a generous welfare system is the quid pro quo for paying high taxes. Hence they have backed the confiscation law along with stricter measures around asylum-seeker family reunification.

Denmark is confronting the progressive dilemma of imposing diversity and expecting solidarity. Writing more than a decade ago in Prospect magazine, David Goodhart challenged his left-leaning audience to understand the contradiction at the heart of their misty-eyed idealism.

He recalled what British conservative politician David Willetts said at a welfare forum: “The basis on which you can extract large sums of money in tax and pay it out in benefits is that most people think the recipients are people like themselves, facing difficulties that they themselves could face. If values become more diverse, if lifestyles become more differentiated, then it becomes more difficult to sustain the legitimacy of a universal risk-pooling welfare state. People ask: ‘Why should I pay for them when they are doing things that I wouldn’t do?’

“This is America versus Sweden. You can have a Swedish welfare state provided that you are a homogeneous society with intensely shared values. In the United States you have a very diverse, individualistic society where people feel fewer obligations to fellow citizens. Progressives want diversity, but they thereby undermine part of the moral consensus on which a large welfare state rests.”

The Austrian result is a timely cue to put our own immigration debate in a global context. The rush to revile Dutton for speaking about the challenges of increased immigration couldn’t be more misplaced. If we are genuinely committed to social, political and economic cohesion, we should thank Dutton for the straight-talking that mainstream European politicians have cowered from.

Our immigration response is far more measured and compassionate than many European anti-immigrant politicians, whose popularity represents a public backlash against the porous borders advocated by the muddle-headed moralisers in the Greens and Labor. It’s far better that immigration policy is settled in parliament than on the streets.


Off-duty female cop stripped, pepper sprayed, punched, kicked: anti-corruption watchdog

An off-duty female police officer was pepper-sprayed, had her clothes removed, was kicked and punched, and then dumped by Ballarat police in a cell for hours without pants or blanket, Victoria's anti-corruption watchdog has heard.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has begun examining claims of police brutality in Ballarat police cells at public hearings that continue this week after numerous appeals.

IBAC alleges 157 complaints were made against officers at the Ballarat Police Station between 2010 and 2012, most of which were made against senior officers.

An alleged incident involving the 51-year-old woman was the first of four alleged uses of excessive force by police in the area to be heard by the anti-corruption watchdog in the week-long hearing.

Council Assisting IBAC Jack Rush, QC, told the public hearings on Monday the woman was arrested for being drunk in public when she was allegedly subject to violent and degrading treatment while in custody last year, the Ballarat Courier reported.

He said she was partially stripped in front of male officers, pepper sprayed while her hands were cuffed behind her back, Mr Rush said.  "She was kicked, stomped on and stood upon."

Footage of the incident was shown before the commission, of the woman forced to use a cup to scoop water from the toilet bowl to drink. The video has not yet been made public.

Mr Rush said police involved in the alleged incident would be asked to give their account of the night during this week’s hearing.

Another three alleged incidents of police corruption involving officers at Ballarat would be examined this week.

The commission revealed an alarming statistic of 52 Ballarat officers receiving four or more complaints – compared to the state average of 2.5 complaints per member, the Courtier reported.

This week's hearings will focus on the alleged excessive use of force and Victoria Police's management of the incidents.


25 May, 2016

Australian Special Forces raid which killed Afghan women and children

The death of bystander women and children is of course deplorable but the troops acted solely in self-defence in response to an attempted ambush and while being fired on.  So as far as I can see the responsibility for the outcome rests entirely on the man who continued to provoke fire at himself while women and children were beside him in the same room.  And his sustained aggression makes mockery of the claim that he was not a Talib.  If he was not, he was of the same ruthless mind-set

A soldier at the centre of one of Australia's most controversial and secret military cases has spoken publicly for the first time about a horrific commando night raid in which five Afghan children were killed.

Identifying himself as Dave, the former lance corporal is one of two reservists from the Army's elite 1st Commando Regiment who was charged with manslaughter over the children's deaths in the 2009 raid of a family compound.

The manslaughter case sent shockwaves through the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and was the subject of a sustained public outcry, with accusations of "armchair" ignorance of combat conditions.

An ugly vilification campaign was mounted against the former director of military prosecutions, Brigadier Lyn McDade, who had laid the charges.

The case against the men was dismissed prior to a court martial, but Dave and other members of the regiment remain angry that the ADF still has not formally exonerated him or the other soldier, a sergeant, who was charged.

Debate about the case was reignited last week with the release of a ministerial memorandum obtained by Australian Story under Freedom of Information legislation.

The ADF has never given a full public account of the events of that night.

Now Dave — who at the request of his family has not divulged his surname — and other soldiers directly involved in the action, have given Australian Story a detailed description of the circumstances leading up to the raid, what happened on the night and its tragic aftermath.

Australian Story also raises many serious questions yet to be addressed by the ADF. It is still not clear whether the raid was properly authorised or if the intelligence the soldiers were acting on was incorrect and led them to the wrong compound.

The 1st Commando Regiment was sent to Afghanistan in November 2008 on a four-month tour of duty.

They were operating as a strike force, primarily targeting the Taliban leadership on "kill or capture" missions.

A member of the regiment, Corporal Geoff Evans, said all missions were intelligence-driven and had to be approved by senior army ranks, but the information provided was not always reliable.

"The intelligence we received was of varying quality. Sometimes it was very, very good, and other times it felt like they were throwing a dart at a map," he told Australian Story.

Another commando, identified as Corporal W, said: "Quite often we'd go into a compound and it would be what we'd call a dry hole. There'd be nothing there, we'd go in, do our search and then leave. Other times we would go in, capture a Taliban leader, for example, so it varied."

Raiding party redirected

On the night of February 12, 2009, a force of over 20 people, including a number of Afghan National Army personnel and Afghan interpreters, headed towards the tiny village of Sorkh Morghab in Uruzgan Province. They were targeting a Taliban leader.

As directed, they first entered a family compound, but found that the occupants had no Taliban influence or links. The information they had been given was false.

They then received further orders from a lieutenant colonel in Kandahar to proceed to a nearby compound. Details of why these orders were given and the intelligence on which they were based remain unknown.

As the team cleared the second compound, they found a family including an armed man and relocated them to a courtyard.

One of the commandos, Corporal W, told Australian Story that when he looked through the window of another room, he saw a man pointing an AK-47 rifle at a door that soldiers were about to enter.

"I shot him," Corporal W said. "I believe that if I didn't engage him at that time [the soldiers] would have made entry into that door and he would have shot and killed at least one, maybe two of them."

According to Corporal W, the man then fired at him "probably half a mag(azine) from one-and-a-half metres away". "It's a miracle I wasn't killed. Bullets whizzed past my ears and shoulders and glass and wall fragments struck me in the face," he said. Corporal W hit the ground and other soldiers thought he was dead.

Soldiers say they warned gunman to stop firing

According to the Australian soldiers, members of the Afghan National Army, interpreters and some of their own unit were calling out to the armed man to cease fire throughout the altercation.

He continued to fire and Sergeant J — who was also later charged with manslaughter — directed Dave to throw a grenade into the room.

After it detonated, Dave said there was a brief pause in the fire coming from the room and then it continued "at a rapid and sustained rate, hence us believing that there was more than one insurgent in that room".

"It was coming out through the windows and it was coming out through the walls, around eight or 10 centimetres from my head and chest," he said.

The soldiers told Australian Story that the design of the compound meant that the man shooting at them had full coverage of the only exit and that they had no option but to kill him in order to save their own lives.

Sergeant J directed Dave to throw a second grenade, at which point the firing from the automatic AK-47 rifle ceased.

It was not until the dust from this grenade settled and the room was entered that Dave and other soldiers say they realised there were women and children in the room.

Three children were dead and several badly injured. Two babies who were evacuated for medical treatment did not survive, taking the death toll to five children.

Family says gunman not a Taliban fighter

The man who had been shooting at them, Amrullah Kahn, also died after medical evacuation.

His surviving family said he was a peasant farmer and that neither he nor they were affiliated with the Taliban.

A family spokesman, Farid Popal, who lives in Perth, told Australian Story that the Kahn family wanted justice for their devastating loss. "The family want answers as to why their father and their children and other members of the family were attacked, and why did they die?" he said.

Mr Popal said that as far as he was aware, the family had never received an explanation nor an apology from the ADF.


Two pictures speak 1,000 words

Yesterday I put up two articles, one by a Leftist lady, followed by another article by a conservative lady.  I accompanied each article by the ladies' self-chosen picture of themselves.

The Leftist lady presented herself with an angry, glowering look.  The eyebrows alone would frighten you off.

And the conservative lady presented herself with a happy smile

So there you have an excellent summary of the difference between Left and Right.  It must be painful to be a Leftist.

How to become an honoured meteorologist

Tell lies.  He says below:  "I don’t know a meteorologist who doesn’t understand and accept that putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will lead to warming of the surface of the earth. It’s meteorology 101. This is not 40 per cent or 70 per cent. It’s 100 per cent"

Yet we read elsewhere:  "Barely half of American Meteorological Society meteorologists believe global warming is occurring and humans are the primary cause, a newly released study reveals"

And has he heard of this guy?

Prof. Nicholls knows on which side his bread is buttered

Monash meteorologist honoured by prestigious fellowship. Emeritus Professor Neville Nicholls’s lifelong passion and commitment to science has been formally recognised with a prestigious Australian Academy of Science (AAS) fellowship.

Professor Nicholls, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment in the Faculty of Science, set his sights on science at the age of eight, when his aunt gave him a book on wildlife of the British Isles.

Professor Nicholls took his interest in science further by training as a meteorologist with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, after which he returned to research to further investigate how and why the climate is changing.

“Weather and climate variations affect almost everything we do, particularly the extremes like heatwaves, tropical cyclones, droughts and bushfires, which destroy lives and property. The better we can predict those phenomena, the more we can help improve the quality of life,” Professor Nicholls said.

Climate change is a particular area of interest to Professor Nicholls, who is surprised at the perception of a scientific divide on the issue.

“I don’t know a meteorologist who doesn’t understand and accept that putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will lead to warming of the surface of the earth. It’s meteorology 101. This is not 40 per cent or 70 per cent. It’s 100 per cent. There is a perception that there is a big battle between scientists. There isn’t.”

Professor Nicholls has described himself as “doubly honoured” by the peer-nominated fellowship, both as an individual researcher and as a member of the meteorology community.

“I feel privileged to be only the third meteorologist ever to be elected to the Academy. From the operations to the research, meteorology is important because of the impact it has on people’s lives, so I am doubly honoured,” Professor Nicholls said.

Press release from Monash Media & Communications

What is happening in Aurukun?
Once again, Aurukun is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Last week schools were shut down and teachers evacuated due to safety concerns, and this week there are reports police are turning a blind eye to fighting in the street.

So what is happening there?

The situation in Aurukun is symptomatic of the broader social malaise affecting many remote Indigenous communities. It is what happens in the absence of a real economy and appropriate social controls. Welfare payments are spent on alcohol, and heavy drinking becomes endemic.  Such circumstances are not unique to Australia -- many First Nation communities in Canada also suffer similar fates.

Back in the 1970s, Aurukun was described as a 'liveable and vibrant community,' but following the introduction of an alcohol canteen in 1985, levels of violence, abuse and neglect in the community skyrocketed. By the time the canteen was closed down and alcohol management plans were introduced in the early 2000s, the town's homicide rate was estimated to be 120 times the state average.

What is not so well known is that many residents (particularly the women) of Aurukun vehemently opposed the introduction of the alcohol canteen -- fearing the damage it would bring to their community. The downward spiral of Aurukun was exposed in an excellent episode of the ABC Four Corners show in 2011, which re-aired previous episodes from 1978 and 1991.

Australia has a long history of treating Aboriginal people differently. First they were subjected to discriminatory laws that prevented them from living where they chose, drinking legally, voting, and being paid a fair wage. When these inequitable laws were finally abolished, they were replaced by equally damaging affirmative action and 'culturally appropriate' separatist policies. This has resulted in the police in Aurukun applying different standards and excusing behaviour that they would not tolerate in any other suburban street.

Police say they have to "let fist fights play out on the streets of Aurukun to prevent more widespread violence taking place" but I bet they wouldn't let that happen in Kings Cross.

It is time to stop ignoring Indigenous violence in the hope it will go away. The people of Aurukun deserve to be treated better than just fodder for news stories.


THIS is the aircraft that Australia should be buying

The Collins submarines have never worked properly and the F35 shows every sign of being the same

The latest version of the Gripen fighter jet has been unveiled by Swedish aircraft maker, Saab.

Dubbed the Gripen E prototype 39-8 'Smart Fighter', the aircraft is aimed at markets not yet cleared to buy the troubled Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The E fighter, the sixth variant in the Gripen family, is slightly bigger than previous versions, has a stronger engine and updated radar systems.

It is designed to carry more weapons further, and to track multiple threats using the latest type of radar.

Weapons include guided glide bombs, long-range air-to-air missiles and heavy anti-ship armaments.

It also has a 27 mm Mauser BK27 gun, which can be used in air-to-surface attacks against land and sea targets.

Like others in the range, the Gripen E has a delta wing and fly-by-wire flight avionics.

But unlike some others in the line, it has a greater fuel capacity, 20 per cent more thrust, more pylons, in-flight refuelling capability and increased take-off weight.

It has a 15.2 metre (50ft) long body has a wingspan of 8.6 metres (28ft) which allows it to manage a take-off weight of 16,500 kg (36.376lb).

It can reach Mach 2 (1,522 mph, 2,450 km/h) at high altitude with a turnaround time between missions of just ten minutes.

The aircraft's sensors include an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST), Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and data link technology.

Saab claims that, combined, these sensors give 'the pilot, and co-operating forces exactly the information needed at all times.'


New development targeted at Muslims in Melbourne sparks outrage

PEOPLE have slammed a new development in Melbourne, calling it “a ghetto of Islam”.  A block in Melton South will be transformed into housing targeted at the Islamic community, with 75 separate lots and a mosque built in the middle of the neighbourhood.  It’s called Iqra Village and is said to become Victoria’s largest faith-based housing.

The development, which featured on A Current Affair on Monday night, sparked a lot of outrage on social media and there were myriad racist comments, with some even saying it shouldn’t be allowed.

“What a joke. If Australians build an Australian only suburb, we would all be racists,” a comment on Twitter said.

An anti-Islamic Facebook group is also encouraging people to boycott this housing development, which will be built near last November’s riots, caused by anti-Islamic groups who were against Islamic schools and mosques.

But the development is not a Muslim-only community and it will certainly not be gated.  While it will be rich with Islamic culture, it’s only targeted at Muslim families who might want to live around others with the same values.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils treasurer Keysar Trad told A Current Affair Muslims were just creating a neighbourhood free of discrimination and free of misunderstanding.

“This particular venture is an indication there’s a feeling out there that there’s perhaps less acceptance of Muslims,” he said.  “A project of this nature will allow people to be able to develop a local place of worship or a local school without too many objections from neighbours. They won’t be getting in anybody’s way, it’s something within their local community.

“We’ve always encouraged our community to live among mainstream society and to build friendships and promote understanding and awareness.”

Town planner Bill Kusznirczuk told A Current Affair he did not have a problem with it.  “Just make sure that we are planning these areas properly,” he said.

“Australia has found that its settlement post war has been a mix of a range of ethnic cultures and that’s a good thing, it makes for the perfect minestrone from an urban planning point of view.”

Mr Kusznirczuk encouraged the developments, as long as they remained open to all in the community.  “Make sure it’s inclusive make sure this particular parcel of land joins and isn’t segregated from others,” he said.  “Plan it well and there will be good outcomes for people who are living there.”


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

24 May, 2016

We’re losing our religion. And that’s not a bad thing (?)

Karen Brooks makes a quite stupid mistake below, all the more amazing because she is allegedly a psychoanalyst.  Her employment in a neo-Marxist outfit has clearly caused her politics to trump her science.

In her discussion of religion, she fails to take account of the fact that there are many influences on human behaviour, with religion being only one of them.  And NO religion has ever made any nation into a nation of peaceniks.  There could be no more peaceful religion than Buddhism but the Buddhist Japanese showed great savagery in WWII.  Nationalist ideas trumped Buddhist ideas.

The only reasonable way to compare religions, therefore, is to look at the religions themselves, not the deeds of groups who claim some attachment to the religions concerned.  And Muslims are in fact a good example of that.  Despite the constant calls in the Koran for attacks on unbelievers, 99% of Muslims in the  Western world are entirely peaceful in their deeds.  They are "bad" Muslims from a religious viewpoint.  Their religion has no major influence on that aspect of their behaviour.

So what we have to do is to look at influence at the margins.  We have to ask what is the effect of the religion when it does have influence?  So we see that for a very small number of true believing Muslims, the commands of the Koran to attack kuffars are acted on with terrorist deeds.  But what about equally devout Christians? Their scriptures include no such commands so there are no Christian suicide bombers, which is a very good thing, and much to be encouraged. Instead it has commands to "love thy neighbour", which result in some Christians  building  hospitals and  doing  all sorts of charitable works.

Religion DOES have an important influence but Karen is too dim to see it.  Her Leftist hate of a rival faith blinds her to reality.  To forestall stupid "ad hominem" attacks,  I am myself a complete  atheist.  I don't believe in Jesus Christ, Mohammed or Karl Marx.  I don't even believe in global warming

Last week, columnist Andrew Bolt declared there was a war on Christianity. Claiming that Christians are being “harassed out of public space”, he provided examples before descending into polarising rhetoric of Christianity is “good and Islam “bad” (that is, violent and intolerant).

Cherrypicking quotes from the Bible and Koran to defend his points, Bolt then stated only a Christian society is safe for nonbelievers: “Christianity, for instance, tells us to treat even strangers as we would our own kin and insists the life of even the most lowly is sacred.”

Tell that to Peter Dutton.

Historically, Christianity’s record of kindness to strangers, their intolerance towards the “lowly” and those with differing or no beliefs, like that of other major religions, is grossly blemished.

One has only to read about the Crusades, the Inquisition, the various zealous missionary work undertaken around the world, to understand the destructive impact of Christianity on people and cultures, never mind how the God of peace could also transform into one that justified its warriors killing, raping, maiming and plundering in His name.

While Catholicism was the dominant religion in the Western world for centuries, Martin Luther and the subsequent Reformation changed that.

In less than 50 years, England, for example, went from a Catholic nation (Henry VIII), to a Protestant one (Henry VIII and Edward VI), reverted back to Catholicism (Mary I) before settling (uncomfortably) with the Church of England (Elizabeth I).

The Interregnum under the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell saw Puritanism take hold before the Restoration and Charles II, who reinstated the Church of England, but died a Catholic. Under all these monarchs, those of minority faith were persecuted, imprisoned, executed and/or deported.

Religious intolerance and the wars and bloodshed in God’s name, continued for centuries — and not just in England.

Christianity, like Judaism and Islam, has never been homogenous. Puritans, Anabaptists, Quakers, Muggletonians, Seekers, Ranters (to name a few) all splintered from it and fought to exist.

Jesus may have suggested, “turn the other cheek”, but the facts are Christianity, like other major faiths, has a long and tortured history that’s bellicose, hypocritical and more about the accumulation of wealth, lands, power and control of the ignorant, than bestowing blessings.

While Bolt’s correct in saying the Church is being increasingly disregarded, it’s a reflection of the times when, because people are better educated (and thus more likely to eschew religion), they’re able to critically reflect on what institutionalised religion offers.

With the shocking revelations of systematic abuse of children in the Catholic Church especially (but not exclusively) high on the public agenda, the indoctrination of would-be terrorists occurring in Mosques and cyberspace, let alone the murders being committed in Allah’s name, people’s tolerance, not so much for God, but for those who claim to be doing His work — whatever it may be — is rapidly diminishing.

Then there’s the bigotry and hatred expressed online and in other spaces by purported Christians towards homosexuality, abortion, refugees and on other human rights issues.

The fact churches don’t pay taxes simply adds insult to the increasing injuries.

Reflecting this, for the first time the 2016 August census will have the “no religion” option in the top spot. There’s a chance Christians collectively may lose their majority status in Australia as they did in New Zealand when a similar change occurred.

Is this such a bad thing?

The notion that a moral framework and ethics, living a “good” life, can only be learned through religion is a furphy.

While I might be damned for saying this, the safest society is a predominantly secular one, but of the kind sociologist, Jurgen Habermas, describes. This is one where religious and secular mentalities are open to a complementary learning process where shared citizenship and cultural difference is balanced.

This is sometimes described as a “soft-secularism”. It believes in the separation of church and state, but works in favour of believers and nonbelievers alike by practising tolerance in other spheres.

While we must steer away from religious extremism, we must also avoid an aggressive secularism that dismisses religious beliefs (but never excuses bigotry or hatred towards others). Likewise, we must not allow rhetoric, which, on the pretext of defending one faith, actually privileges it while apportioning blame and vilifying another, fuelling fear and hate and causing deeper divisions in the process.

In our increasingly disconnected world, I understand why some find the community and sharing, the sense of belonging some faiths offer, seductive. But isn’t it better to have faith in each other, practice goodness and compassion in the here and now, respect each other equally, with dignity, and leave an everlasting tangible legacy, than continuously defer to an invisible entity?

Secularism at its best is inclusive. I’m yet to be convinced about religion.


Federal election 2016: Left vilified Dutton but he spoke truth

By Jennifer Oriel

It is no secret that there is a vocal flank of Left-leaning politicians, media and academics who want conservatives purged from public life in Australia. They succeed by underhanded tactics often using anonymous posts and ad hominem attacks on social media that culminate in the mobbing of a politically incorrect target.

Once stamped with the Scarlet Letter, the mob uses guilt by association to keep the target isolated. The tactic was used against Tony Abbott and last week, the mob went after one of the few conservatives in cabinet, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

Dutton was subjected to mass opprobrium for referring to the struggle that refugees face with illiteracy and unemployment, as well as suggesting that the large increase in refugee intake proposed by the Greens could threaten Australian jobs.

His comments were unqualified and too generalised, which left room for misinterpretation. In a rational and fair political climate, however, commentators would have attempted to correct any perceived factual error or generalisation by way of factual analysis. Unfortunately, we’re not in a rational political climate.

Leftist commentators and social media pundits took Dutton’s statement on Sky News and turned it into a rage against conservatives, Abbott associates and the government’s border integrity policy. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young described his comments as xenophobic. Greens leader Richard Di Natale called for him to be sacked. On ABC’s The Drum, Dutton was described as one of the “Abbottistas” causing problems for Turnbull.

Guilt by association is the mark of the mob in public debate. Dutton’s comments were read out of context and blown out of proportion. The outrage on social media and free to air television provided a convenient distraction that excused the PC Left from scrutinising the lunatic immigration policy proposed by the Greens. Taken in context, however, Dutton’s comments raise important issues.

The immigration minister highlighted the problems many refugees experience with literacy. It should not have been read as criticism. Refugees often flee war-torn countries where a combination of civil conflict and corrupt governments deprive the general population of basic education. And anyone who has mastered a foreign language understands the challenges involved.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies undertakes longitudinal research on the experiences of people with permanent humanitarian visas in Australia. Their recent Building a New Life in Australia report found that three quarters of respondents stated they understood English “not well” or “not at all” before coming to Australia. However, 69 per cent of all adult respondents reported undertaking English classes. The finding is both a credit to refugees and the Coalition policy of concentrating funds in resettlement programs rather than the uncosted or unaffordable mass immigration policies proposed by the intemperate Left.

The lower levels of literacy found among refugee populations produces further challenges for their aspirations to succeed in forging a new life in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that lower levels of English proficiency among humanitarian migrants may be related to their lower levels of employment. In 2010-2011, there were twice as many male as female humanitarian migrants and among those in employment, most worked as labourers. In its Settlement of New Arrivals report, the Department of Social Services states that: “Humanitarian entrants are heavily dependent on Centrelink payments and based on information reported in this survey that dependency reduces only slightly over time.”

Dutton’s assertion that the Greens’ proposal to increase the refugee intake to 50,000 would be problematic has a factual basis. The problem with mass immigration proposals is compounded further by the state of the economy. Given the national debt is over $400 billion and foreign debt is over $1 trillion, all policies must be costed and contribute to deficit reduction. The one-off additional intake of 12,000 people from the Syrian conflict is costed at more than $700 million. The Greens’ plans to increase our annual intake of refugees to 50,000 will cost $7bn over four years, according to government estimates. Labor’s proposal to increase the intake to 37,000 is estimated to cost $2.3bn.

Every policy has a tipping point. Principled politicians seek to maintain a balance that will empower the flourishing of the citizens they serve. Opportunistic politicians manipulate policy to further their political ambitions whatever the collateral damage. The Greens’ immigration policy is politically opportunistic. It is not compassionate to empower people-smugglers by vitiating against boat turnbacks. It is not compassionate to prioritise-asylum seekers with the money to jump the queue while leaving genuine refugees languishing in camps in war-ravaged countries. It is immoral to encourage tens of thousands of refugees to enter a country deep in debt without the economic means to support their long-term resettlement.

As a strong advocate of the free world and the border integrity its flourishing requires, Peter Dutton has steered the most contentious Coalition portfolio, immigration and border protection, through high turbulence. Operation Sovereign Borders remains a prime target of the red-green Left whose porous borders advocacy in the context of transnational jihadism is sheer lunacy.

The Coalition has stopped the boats, saving lives and destroying people-smugglers’ return on investment. Malcolm Turnbull demonstrated both compassion and political astuteness in his vigorous defence of the Coalition’s immigration policy. Despite the push to purge conservatives from government, Dutton is still standing. We are the better for it.


Why the Greens are rotten to the core

Joe Hildebrand is usually a fairly jocular commentator but I think he has some valid points below

A week ago I wrote that the navel-gazers of the hard Left were driving disenfranchised voters into the arms of the hard Right.   

In between overthrowing capitalism, the Greens’ Jim Casey also wants to overthrow Anthony Albanese. (Pic: Supplied)
It turns out I was even more right than I thought.

It is well known that Donald Trump’s support base consists largely of the uneducated and working-class who feel locked out of the American political establishment — precisely the sort of underprivileged demographic to whom the Left should be offering some salvation.

Instead the intellectual Left’s preoccupation with campus issues like transgender toilet rights and the subconscious racism of Halloween parties has rendered them as foreign to the working poor as the working poor are to them — if indeed the two have ever met.

In Australia the disconnect is less great, largely because successive Labor governments have shielded disadvantaged people from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. We have free health care, free education, a welfare safety net and a solid minimum wage.

Yet this is precisely the legacy that the Greens wish to destroy.

The problem with the Greens is that they are ideologues, more consumed by an imaginary post-capitalist utopia than they are with real people in the real world.

Greens Leader Richard di Natale (right) and candidate for the seat of Grayndler, Jim Casey. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
Like fascists, they conjure up absolute goals and destroy anyone who fails to meet them. Indeed, they actually yearn for oppression in the hope that it will bring about the longed-for revolution.

And for a party that pretends to be all about the greater good, they are ruthlessly self-interested.

In 2009 the Greens blocked Kevin Rudd’s landslide mandate for an emissions trading scheme, thus leading to the destruction of his prime ministership and the ascension of climate contrarian Julia Gillard — with whom they then formed a fawning coalition and extracted a carbon tax before stabbing her in the back too.

The undemocratic and unpopular genesis of the carbon tax catapulted Tony Abbott into power, upon which he immediately abolished it. Thus the Greens both ushered in the Abbott Government and eliminated any ETS. This from a supposedly left-wing party that claims to tackle climate change.

You’d think they’d learn. But incredibly the Greens want Abbott back. Or at least one does. The Greens candidate for Grayndler has said: “I would prefer to see Tony Abbott returned as prime minister with a Labor movement that was growing.” (Those who are actually in the Labor movement disagree.)

These words are from Jim Casey, who — in between overthrowing capitalism — also wants to overthrow Anthony Albanese, a hugely respected left-wing Labor leader who was probably the most decent figure in the ALP’s six sad years of office.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Greens are also believed to be doing secret deals with the Coalition to effectively run dead in marginal seats targeted by the Liberals — a.k.a. giving “open preferences”. In exchange the Libs would preference the Greens in key inner-city seats to knock off ALP candidates.

Yes, a party that claims to be left-wing is both killing off Labor MPs and helping the Liberals win.

That is the true agenda of the lunatic Left: To get a conservative government elected so they can have something to protest about.

In the meantime, poor people just have to suffer while waiting for the revolution. And if they don’t go to Labor they go to Trump lookalikes such as Pauline Hanson or Clive Palmer or whatever nutbag showpony trots onto the field.

Say what you like about the Labor Party, at least it tries to wrestle out credible policies that improve the lives of ordinary people. Meanwhile the Greens bang on about Safe Schools while giving a leg up to the party of Cory Bernardi.

These vegetables are rotten to the core.


Marxist Roz Ward now Victorian school LGBTI adviser

Roz Ward, the hardline Marxist behind the contentious Safe Schools program, has been ­appointed to a high-level committee advising the Victorian govern­ment on education issues.

With the taxpayer-funded sexual and gender diversity ­program having become a hot election issue, after the Greens and Labor pledged to boost funding, the Andrews Labor government appears increasingly committed to pushing an LGBTI agenda in the schoolyard.

Ms Ward, already a director of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, has joined the education reference group set up to provide advice on the government’s LGBTI education priorit­ies and identify new ways to improve equality for gay and transgender youth in schools.

The group comes under the mantle of the government’s LGBTI Taskforce, co-chaired by leading transgender activist Brenda ­Appleton, which provides direct advice to Equality Minister Martin Foley.

While the taskforce membership was announced in September, the make-up of its education reference group has not been publicly disclosed. But Ms Ward’s role is detailed on the website of La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society, where she works.

Ms Ward, an academic with a degree in gender studies, has ­become the controversial face of the Safe Schools movement, largely due to her extreme Left political views; including publicly linking the program to a broader Marxist push to liberate society from “gender constructs”.

She has also shown some contempt for parents who ­harbour concerns about the prog­ram, which preaches a polit­ically correct approach to sex education and an extreme and contested gender ideology.

Ms Ward has previously ­conceded that Safe Schools was not an anti-bullying program, but rather a means to promote sexual and gender diversity.

She has advised school princip­als that they could dismiss parental concerns about the program with a “tough luck”.

And despite having no education qualifications, she has taught elements of the program, designed for the Years 7 and 8 curriculums, to Year 3 children.

A communique from the LGBTI Taskforce’s meeting last month, which was posted on the Victorian government’s website last week, reveals that the education reference group recently met for the first time.

It discussed aspects of the school curriculum, including the contentious Respectful Rela­tionships program and the implemen­tation of the Catching on Early resource.

Written with input from the La Trobe University research centre, Catching on Early is a 200-page guide for primary schools that touches on gender theory and contains a lesson on “IVF, surrogacy and other ­assisted-conception treatments”.

A government spokeswoman confirmed Ms Ward’s appointment to the group, which is still being finalised.

A spokeswoman defended the Catching On Early program as “an ­evidence-based and optional ­resource, founded on research into sexuality education”. She said it was not compulsory in any school.

Ms Ward did not respond to a request to comment.


Cracking the 'safe schools' campaign

When does 'safe' mean 'dangerous'? Answer: when the education of young children falls into the hands of a cabal of fanatical Marxist ideologues.

It's happening in Victoria where the Safe Schools Coalition is pushing its aggressive ideology of gender fluidity to reshape society and destroy oppressive power structures.

Premier Daniel Andrews has given gender activists the green light to mess with kids' heads. He condemns anyone who questions the merits of the ideology-driven program as a "bigot".

Wasn't the Safe Schools Coalition supposed to be about putting a stop to bullying? This seems to be not about bullying at all.

Co-founder Roz Ward has been promoting transgender lesson plans for seven-year-old children -- featuring genderless aliens who have arrived on Earth.

Thankfully these extraterrestrial folk are just imaginary; but Ms Ward sets an equally imaginary problem for the alien visitors: how to tell female and male Earthlings apart?

Just two genders? Male and female? Only a bigot could think that. Allowing boys to be, well, boys? How much more hateful does it get?

Safe Schools Coalition insists that there are many genders, all of which are merely social constructs -- so you can take your pick.

This nonsense, supported by Premier Andrews and his Green-Left government, is built on two big lies our culture has readily accepted but failed to question.

Lie Number One: if you don't agree with another person's lifestyle, you obviously fear them or hate them.

Lie Number Two: if you love someone you must agree with everything they believe.

The Safe Schools Coalition propaganda is dangerous. It aims to recruit the most vulnerable young Australians in a long campaign of attrition against our social structures.

If the gender activists were really smart, they'd campaign to ensure our Aussie kids had literacy skills. At least that way they would be able to read Karl Marx's Capital and decide for themselves whether gender is tyranny after all.


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 May, 2016

School sports carnivals have got a problem

Em Rusciano gets something right

YESTERDAY, I was taught a valuable lesson by a bunch of eight- and nine-year-old kids that I think you may want to hear.

I was helping out at my youngest daughter’s athletics carnival (yes I was an elite hurdler, yes I did qualify for world juniors and win my first national title when I was 10. So what? Stop bringing it up) when something caught my eye.

My kids go to an awesome school. However … how do I put this? It has more of an academic/performing arts/paint pictures of your feelings vibe to it than an incubator for elite athletes vibe.

If it was a “knit your own tampon” or “public speak your way out of a hostage situation” or “re-explain the theory of relativity using five different maths equations” race, they would totally nail that sh*t though.

I was standing at the finish line of the 60m hurdles when the first bunch of kids came barrelling through. They were the under-nine boys and one of the lads caught my eye (he had a knitted green and white striped frog beanie on).

I said hello and asked him how many ribbons he felt he may acquire today. Upon reflection that may have been a thoughtless question as moments before he’d finished exactly last in his event, but I’d already forgotten that because: awesome hat! His response floored me. It amused me so much I nearly had an asthma attack.

He said, with both hands on his hips and a deep sigh that belonged to an 80-year-old war vet, “Probably none, I’ll probably just get a few of those (points to participation ribbon) and a bunch of ‘well dones’.”

The tone was unmistakeable. It said: “I’m sick of your sh*t, don’t patronise me with your well dones and participation awards, I know the score.”

It made me wonder, do we give out participation awards to make the kids or the parents feel better?

I decided to conduct subtle interviews with every kid I saw today and NONE of them wanted the participation ribbon. Most of them down right sneered at it. They all understood that someone is going to get to the line fastest, jump the highest and throw the furthest. They all got that some people are better at sport than others and none of them seemed too fazed by that.

Look, if we weren’t giving out the first, second and third place ribbons and the day was just about having fun and being outdoors, great! Let’s go on an Oprah Christmas special ribbon giving spree: “You get a ribbon, and you get a ribbon and you get a ribbon, riiiibonnnnnn!”

However WE DO give out the first, second and third place awards, so what message are we sending them? “Hey kids it doesn’t matter if you win but if you do win you get a special prize and accolade, but it doesn’t matter, but it does, and the rest of the kids get a generic thing because they’re not special like the kids who won, who aren’t special, but they are ...”

Confusing huh? Imagine being a kid then!

I worry we’re getting to a point with kids sport where we’re attempting to shield them from feeling disappointment and loss. Isn’t that the stuff that builds resilience and resolve? Doesn’t it foster the need to improve and learn and grow?

After my highly scientific research at the track I’m now of the opinion that we don’t need to bother with participation awards.

For three reasons:

1. The kid’s don’t want them. They’re well on to us, the jig is up mates.

2. It’s OK to fail! Don’t be afraid to let your kids feel the sting of defeat. Let their little hearts get a ding or two, help them identify what they can learn from it and then they will grow and be better next time.

3. Don’t reward them for just showing up. It makes them grow up feeling entitled. You’re not doing them any favours — want and need create drive.

All that being said, of course not all kids are going to be the best at all things at all times and that’s OK, as long as your kid finds something he or she likes doing then they’ll be all right.

By the by, old mate frog beanie totally won his 100m … Not that it mattered, but it did, but it didn’t.


David van Gend from The Australian Marriage Forum responds to questions on marriage equality

Q. What is Australian Marriage Forum's opposition to same-sex marriage based on?

The heart of our opposition to same-sex 'marriage' is that such an institution would deliberately deprive future children of either their mother or their father, and that is an injustice we should never contemplate. It hurts children if we break the bond with their mother or father, and same-sex 'marriage' is just a new government policy for breaking that bond. We never learn.

We also oppose same-sex 'marriage' because it is untrue – a legal fiction with no foundation in nature. Marriage is not a social invention to be cut to shape according to political fad; it is a social recognition of timeless natural reality: male, female, offspring. Only a terminally demented culture like the modern West would seek to repeal nature and build our society on an artificial foundation.

We also oppose same-sex 'marriage' because it is a package deal that brings with it the entire radical rainbow agenda. Once homosexual relations are normalised in the central institution of society, that gives the LGBT lobby the big stick of anti-discrimination law to normalise homosexual behaviour in the school curriculum, and to silence conscientious dissenters. Think 'Safe Schools' and Archbishop Porteous. 'Marriage equality' is not ultimately about marriage; it is about sexual radicals getting the legal clout to push their values down society's throat.

Q. Are you only opposed to the proposition of equal marriage or is the opposition to equality under the law for LGBTI in general?

Same-sex couples already have exactly the same legal status and benefits as any de facto or married couple in Australia, with no discrimination whatsoever, and we do not oppose that.

Same-sex couples already have full relationship equality with other couples, but their relationship is a different thing to the great natural project of marriage and family and they need to find a different word.

Q. What are your thoughts on homosexuality? Do you believe it is a normal expression of human sexuality?

My thoughts are that homosexuality does not define a person: he or she is a unique, transient and beloved creature like anyone else, and if a person happens to experience same-sex impulses that is merely a puzzling aspect of their emotional makeup; it is not who they are.

Homosexuality is clearly not normal in a statistical sense, since only 1.2% of the Australian population identify as homosexual while 97.5% identify as heterosexual.[i] In a clinical sense I agree with Dr Robert Spitzer, the gay-friendly psychiatrist who led the campaign to delete homosexuality from the APA's Diagnostic & Statistical Manual in 1973, who described homosexuality as "a form of irregular sexual development". It is not a mental illness, but nor is it normal, and for many years Spitzer argued against "the acceptance of the view that homosexuality is a normal variant."[ii] We should not form public policy on marriage or sex-education based on the false view that homosexuality is normal.

Q. In an Australian Marriage Forum advert it states that "The radicalisation of sex education and usurping of parental authority is (in our view) a main objective of the homosexual revolution." Can you explain this further? What do you believe is the end game for LGBTI advocates? Do you believe that legalising same sex marriage will lead to other reforms, if so what could they be?

The logic is simple: if the law says homosexual "marriage" is normal and right, schools will be obliged, by anti-discrimination law, to teach that homosexual behaviour is normal and right. There is no option. Parents today can push back against the 'Safe Schools' program - but parents will be sidelined and treated as bigots if they object to such material once homosexual 'marriage' becomes the law of the land.

Parents need to understand that the genderless agenda is a package deal: if they vote for 'marriage equality' they are voting for 'Safe Schools' on steroids and agreeing to relinquish control of their child's moral education to sexual radicals.

If they vote for 'marriage equality', based on President Obama's executive order this week to all 96,000 public schools in the US, parents are voting for their daughter to have to share change-rooms with disturbed young men who claim they are women – all on the basis of genderless 'equality'.

The end game of any revolution is to remake society in its own radical image: that is achieved largely through controlling the education of the next generation and by silencing dissenting voices. Think 'Safe Schools' and Archbishop Porteous...

Q. Some commentators have observed that the debate between progressives and conservatives on issues such as Safe Schools, Gayby Baby, marriage equality etc is part of a "culture war" between left and right. What are your thoughts on this?

Wait for my book in a few months time. There will be a chapter on cultural Marxism and its many and varied fellow travellers and their relentless attacks on marriage and family over the last century.

Q. Are you concerned that language used to describe the push for LGBTI inclusion - eg the flyers we saw recently protesting the AFL's upcoming Pride game, comparing legalising same sex marriage to the stolen generation - could be damaging for LGBTI young people and their families?

I am concerned at the emotional blackmail used by supporters of same-sex 'marriage' which claims that any and every statement of opposition to same-sex 'marriage' is "damaging for LGBTI young people and their families" - so we had better just shut up and let them be the only voice in the public square.

Examples: in the Sydney Morning Herald, Justin Koonin, convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, specified our full-page ad in The Australian (10/8/15[iii]) as an example of the "bigoted opinions that we know cause harm to same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people". [iv] In an earlier report about our television ad aired during Mardi Gras in March 2015[v], the director of Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, said our ad was "actually harming the many Australian children being raised by same-sex couples". [vi]

Do you see how this game works? If anyone makes the case for keeping marriage between man and woman, the mere act of raising such an argument is "actually harming" children. There is only one solution: say nothing. Breathing a word makes us culpable for depression and even death in young people!

That is shameless emotional blackmail designed to silence one side of a serious debate.

I am astonished at the portrayal of LGBT young people and families as so fragile that they must be protected from hearing any discussion about homosexual marriage and parenting. How condescending! And it goes with the pathetic proposition that we should overturn the foundational institution of society as a form of psychological therapy for LGBT young people and their families. There are less radical ways to help them feel loved and respected.


Federal election 2016: refugee advocates are really NIMBYs

Greens MPs and refugee advoc­ates who are calling for a huge ­increase in the humanitarian ­migrant intake and the end of ­offshore processing live in affluent inner-city areas that take just a fraction of Australia’s refugees.

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale, who is campaigning to more than triple the nation’s humanitarian intake from 13,750 to 50,000 people, lives in the Surf Coast local government area, close to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. The area settled fewer than five refugees from 2010 to last year.

Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs, who has been critical of the treatment of asylum-seekers, is listed as living in the City of Sydney, which took in just 247 human­itarian migrants, and before that lived in the high-wealth area of Woollahra, in Sydney’s inner east, which settled just 14 refugees over five years. By contrast, Fairfield in Sydney’s west received 5816 humanit­arian migrants over the same five-year period while the Greater Dandenong area in Melbourne’s southeast took 3899, and Brisbane settled 3862, according to the ­Department of Social Services’ settlement report.

Former Labor leader Mark Latham questioned this week what the Greens had against refug­ees because their inner-city strongholds had taken in very few humanitarian migrants. “They say they want to welcome them into Australia but they won’t welcome them into the communities where they themselves live,” Mr Latham told Sky News’s The Bolt Report.

In Victoria, Greens MP Adam Bandt is campaigning to be re-elected to the inner-city electorate of Melbourne. His local government area of Moonee Valley took only 151 refugees over five years.

Mr Bandt said his electorate was full of people who had come from all over the world as refugees and anyone who claimed Melburnians did not want humanitarian mig­rants living near them had “not been here recently”. “If the government wants more humanitarian migrants to move to Melbourne, they’ll be welcomed with open arms,” Mr Bandt said.

Similarly, Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young’s local government area of Mitcham, in the foothills of ­eastern Adelaide, took just 114 ­humanitarian migrants over five years. However, she said many communities were “happy to welcome people in need”.

“Both evidence and history have shown us that, when they’re given a chance to rebuild their lives in safety, people seeking ­asylum become some of the most innovative and hard working citizens we’ve ever had,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

Barrister Julian Burnside QC has spoken out passionately against Australia’s policy of “stopping the boats” and of sending ­asylum-seekers to Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island and the impoverished nation of Nauru. Mr Burnside lives in Hawthorn, in Melbourne’s inner east, and his local government area of Boroondara received just 79 humanit­arian migrants over five years.

However, he has been sheltering refugees in his home since 2000. He said the suggestion refugee advocates were hypocritical for calling for an increase to Australia’s human­itarian intake while living in inner-city areas was “completely misconceived”.

“The people who don’t have refugees living near them are the ones who miss out,” he said.

Mr Burnside said he and his wife, Kate Durham, had housed mainly Hazara Afghan refugees and had gained from them “a ­really deep-seated understanding that they are just human beings like us”. “They’re not perfect, they’re not terrible, they’re just human beings who are doing their best to get along,” he said.

Mr Burnside said his wife’s “spare rooms for refugees” initiative, set up in 2001, had resulted in people from all over Australia ­offering their home to refugees.  “We had more rooms on offer than we had refugees able to take up the offer,” he said.

Refugee lawyer David Manne helped to derail in the High Court former prime minister Julia Gillard’s plan to send asylum-seekers to Malaysia and has criticised Australia’s policy of sending mig­rants offshore. Mr Manne is listed as living in Melbourne’s inner-north City of Yarra, which settled 190 refugees over five years.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s office estimated this week that if the Greens proposal of taking 50,000 humanitarian refugees annually was adopted it would cost about $7 billion over four years, while Labor’s proposal to increase the intake to 27,000 would cost about $2.3bn over the same period. The Coalition supports the existing intake of 13,750, which rises to 18,750 in 2018-19, with a one-off extra intake of 12,000 Syrians this year.


Australia Post again

IN THE week before her wedding day Michelle Cominos should have been putting the finishing touches to the venue, welcoming guests from near and far and looking forward to a new chapter in her life.

Instead, she just "cried and cried," says her husband Con who puts the blame squarely on Australia Post, accusing them of sending vital paperwork for the couple’s wedding day not only to the wrong address but to the wrong state.

The pair estimate the costs for the Greek orthodox ceremony, including travel arrangements for the guests, was upwards of $25,000 but it was all at risk due to the wayward $13 parcel.

Australia Post has said it is stumped as to how a parcel intended for a priest in Brisbane ended up languishing in a post office box in Sydney. But it has discovered the Sydney address was for a Greek Church.

The publicly-owned body has been under intense scrutiny in the last month since it announced it would charge some customers for holding undelivered parcels in post offices. In recent days, Australia Post has also had to defend claims its automated systems are sending parcels on unnecessarily epic interstate road trips in the wrong direction.

Mr Cominos, from Emerald in central Queensland, told his nuptial nightmares began in September 2015 when he sent the couple’s notice of intended marriage documentation to an orthodox priest in Brisbane via Australia Post’s Express Post Platinum service.

The pair hoped to have an orthodox ceremony but with no priest of that denomination in the regional town they had planned to fly the minister in.

"The law says we’ve got to have paperwork in one month and one day before the wedding so we sent it on 18 September which was well and truly a month before."

But by the middle of October the vital wedding documents hadn’t arrived. "He rang us the week before and said where’s the paperwork? I can’t marry you without it," said Mr Cominos.


With only days to go before the wedding, the desperate pair asked Australia Post to find their marriage documents only to discover they had ended up 1500km from where they were posted and were now in Parramatta, western Sydney.

"Platinum Post is supposed to deliver in three days outside metro areas and it was delivered in three days, but to Parramatta not Brisbane," said Mr Cominos.

"It had the priest’s name on it and an address in Mount Gravatt. How on earth can you get Parramatta, Sydney, out of that? It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad."

The missing marriage paperwork meant it was now illegal for them to wed.

"It caused my wife a lot of trauma," said Mr Cominos. "She broke down and just cried and cried you’ve got these a***holes denying everything and then they add insult to injury to only give me a lousy $13 to make up for it."

Mr Cominos said delaying the big day would have meant cancelling the hotel as well as airline flights and the reception.

"Everything would have been thrown out the door. We couldn’t have booked again for months afterwards and everything would have cost more and more.

"If the CEO can get $2m they can afford to compensate my wife for the trauma caused."

With 70 guests about to arrive in Emerald, the couple had to act fast and headed to a local magistrate, successfully persuading them they should be granted special dispensation due to the mail debacle.

But the delay meant they now had no priest. Thinking on their feet they called a nearby minister who, despite being from a different denomination, agreed to perform an orthodox ceremony.

"A local pastor did some quick homework, had a look at YouTube, got the gist of how to do the orthodox service and just worked it out," Mr Cominos said.

"Australia Post almost ruined my wedding day."


Australian election 2016: Would-be senator Angry Anderson says he feels Australia's 'pain'

Time has mellowed Angry Anderson. "I feel pain in this country," the former Rose Tattoo frontman told the dozen or so people gathered at a north Sydney golf club on Monday. "I feel anxiety, frustration, anger."

The self-described "baddest boy in Australia" was launching his latest Senate foray, this one with the Australian Liberty Alliance, the political wing of a cluster of groups opposed to halal certification and the "Islamisation" of the west.

After a stint with the Nationals, and starring role in the "ditch the witch" rallies against the carbon tax, Gary Anderson has turned to one of Australia’s newest parties to push his politics. "Do we want to be governed by a power in Europe?" he began his remarks on Monday.

"My vote is Europeans can govern Europe. Australia, as long as I have breath, will fight to preserve that we are masters of our own identity." (Few appeared to disagree.)

For the ALA, too, Anderson’s candidacy is a winner. Keen to shake off the prefixes "far-right" and "anti-Islam", the movement is rebranding. It now spruiks "smaller, smarter government", and a "pro-Australia" outlook. "We have more than 20 policies," one of its candidates, Kirralie Smith, told the crowd.

But the technocratic planks of its manifesto – public-private partnerships in healthcare, upping super contributions to 15%, free university lectures for retirees – still labour in the shadows of its more controversial policies.

Anderson said he supported the ALA’s Trump-style ban on immigration from Islamic countries, excluding non-Muslim refugees. "I’ve read history," he said. "I don’t want history to repeat itself. I don’t believe we have policies in place to address the issue of Islamisation."

The 68-year-old has featured in a series of SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From. A critic of Muslim immigration, Anderson was taken to Afghanistan to meet persecuted Hazaras, to see if their plight softened his views. It worked – sort of.

"I went to Kabul … And I found a group of people who we traced from Melbourne, the Hazara people. And they came here, and to their horror, they were subjected to the same pressures and the same discrimination that they ran away from.

"So they leave that environment, to come to an environment that doesn’t tolerate that, and then we confuse them by allowing the very people they ran away from, to come here, and persecute them here!"

It was pointed out that Hazaras are Shia Muslims and, under the ALA’s policy, would be banned from seeking asylum in Australia.

"The complexity of the policy as it stands, I’m not across that," he said, shrugging. "But one of my best mates, he runs a foundation called Save Our Sons, he’s a Syrian Muslim, I take advice from him because he is one, he’s Muslim.

"He says there are clear definitions within the community, which the government’s immigration policy, that we suffer under, has not looked at. We should be listening to those people."

Smith, a campaigner against halal certification, interrupted: "We will have parameters for persecuted peoples, absolutely. We’re talking about a pause, so we can get measures in place."

Did that include banning Hazaras? "That’s yet to be determined … As we go, obviously, in whatever effect we can have in government. But we want to start somewhere."

It was perhaps inevitable the launch of a rock star’s political campaign, on a fringe party’s platform, would lead somewhere unexpected. Monday’s launch included an attack on Waleed Aly – just hours earlier crowned Australian TV’s most popular personality.

"Who said he’s the most popular?" Anderson said, when a journalist raised the award.

Smith agreed: "He’s not the most popular, that’s ridiculous anyway. It’s a very closed industry."

The ALA had no problem with the likes of The Project’s host, she said: "If Waleed Aly was someone who subscribed to the Qur’an … we would have a great problem with that.

"He actually discredits the Qur’an because he doesn’t follow it, he doesn’t obey it," she said. "We have a problem with the ideology. While he is not representing the Qur’an, following Muhammad, [being] an example of a Qur’an-following Muslim, we have no problem with that."

What Anderson lacks in close study of ALA policies, he might recover by channelling its members’ overriding sentiment: anger.

One woman in the audience, Judy, said she had left the Liberals for the ALA. "I’m being told I’m a racist and a bigot," she said.

Smith asked who else had recently left the Liberal party.

Almost every arm in the room was raised.


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 May, 2016

Warmists just LOVE the Great Barrier Reef

It enables them to tell SO many lies.  That coral "bleaching" (expulsion of symbiotic algae) has been happening for millions of years goes unmentioned below -- as is the fact that corals have in the past coped with far greater temperature variations than anything we have seen  recently.  And corals are still with us, funnily enough.

They do respond to temperature, among other things, but the "bleaching" is mainly in order to recruit different varieties of symbiotic algae.  And corals are hardier than they look.  In "bleached" form they can survive for quite a while on just their normal filter feeding.  "Bleached" corals are NOT dead.

And the present ocean warming is clearly due to El Nino, a temporary warming that is part of a natural cycle.  It's actually the La Nina that normally follows El Nino that is the biggest concern.  Corals are more likely to "bleach" in response to cooling than they are to warming. 

And let me again mention my favourite fact about coral:  In 1954 the USA exploded a 15 megaton thermonuclear device over Bikini atoll.  And Bikini atoll had lots of coral.  So there is no coral there at all now?  Far from it.  The corals there now are huge, abundant and thriving.  So if coral reefs can recover from an H-bomb blast, why is a pissy one degree temperature rise in GBR waters of concern?

Corals at Bikini atoll today

Strange that all that goes unmentioned below, isn't it?  You would not suspect any of it from the screeches below.  The words below are "an orchestrated litany of lies", to quote a distinguished judge on another matter.  The Waremists just want more funding and are prepared to lie and deceive to get it.  Global warming is a global racket dreamt up by scientists for the benefit of scientists

The Federal Government’s plan to save the Great Barrier Reef is “totally inadequate,” and if whoever forms government doesn’t commit at least $10 billion this election the natural wonder is likely to be doomed, scientists at James Cook University have said.

This extraordinary warning comes from leading water quality expert Jon Brodie and Emeritus Professor Richard Pearson, who are speaking out after they published a paper this week. In an interview this morning, Brodie said the Reef “will never be in its full gory again, we can’t expect that, [but]it’s going to get worse unless we do something”.

The Scientists said the twin threats of poor water quality and climate change could put the Reef in “terminal” decline within five years, unless whoever forms government comes to office with a comprehensive, cohesive, and adequately-funded rescue plan.

The Coalition Government has released a plan, known as Reef 2050, but it scarcely mentions climate change and Brodie said it is “totally inadequate”. “I’m probably the leading water quality expert for the Great Barrier Reef over the last 30 years and I’m saying the water quality [aspect of the plan]is absolutely inadequate,” he said.

“It was meant to be a comprehensive plan, of course, but as has been pointed out by everyone, and particularly the Australian Academy of Science, it’s totally inadequate,” he said.

The James Cook University scientists said catchment and coastal management programs need to be funded in the order of $1 billion per year over the next ten years. “We need a plan to fix up water quality as best we can, to provide some resilience against the oncoming climate change impacts,” Brodie said.

The Great Barrier Reef has made headlines over recent months as 93 per cent of the Reef, which is the only living structure that can be seen from space, has been affected by coral bleaching.

Fuelled by warming waters, the coral bleaching event was the worst in recorded history. The uncompromising heat was a result of an El Nino climate system, superimposed over baseline temperatures already pushed up by climate change.

“Before climate change kicked in we simply never saw bleaching,” Professor Terry Hughes has previously told New Matilda. “It’s quite confronting that we’ve now got to the stage that every El Nino event – and they happen every few years – is a threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” said Hughes, the Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

The threats posed by climate change are exacerbated by plague-like outbreaks of Crown of Thorns Starfish, which are triggered by poor water quality. According to the James Cook University Scientists, the next outbreak is most likely to occur around 2025.

If we don’t make serious inroads at improving water quality by then, the fate of the Reef looks grim.

Brodie and Emeritus Professor Pearson are calling for management of the Reef to be extended beyond the bounds of the World Heritage Area, north to the Torres Strait, south to Hervey Bay, and inland to include the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

This would of course come at a cost. But Brodie points out that while $10 billion over ten years “may seem like a lot of money, we know that amount would be effective and it’s small by comparison to the economic worth of the Reef, which is around $20 billion per year”.

Current Federal funding, he said, “is almost nothing”. And that doesn’t look likely to change. “So far in the election campaign, we’ve seen no major commitments about the Great Barrier Reef at all from anybody really,” Brodie said.

The Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Imogen Zethoven said “the massive coral bleaching taking place right now on the Reef and the latest science over recent months all point in one direction: The outlook for the Reef is dire and we must act now.

“Things are worse than we thought for the Reef’s future, we are close to the brink of what this fragile ecosystem can tolerate without a credible plan for restoring it to good health,” she said.

“Australia’s current plans to protect the Reef are inadequate, short-sighted, lack appropriate funding and will not prevent its decline.”


Beneath the black mask: inside Australia's Fascist "anti-fascists"

The Anarchist drinks rose petal tea. He likes its delicate floral notes and dreamy bouquet. It's a treat, he says, giggling.

He's normally more of a masochist, taking his coffee strong, short and black, hold the sugar. But today we're sitting on plush chairs in a tea room in Sydney's Queen Victoria Building, by thick drapes and a crystal chandelier. The Anarchist sips from a dainty cup painted with a red carnation. He speaks in a loud, shaky voice about smashing the state, about Hitler and imperialism and a "monopoly of violence" – utterly oblivious to the unsettling effect this has on other diners.

He's 28 years old, with neat fingernails, unbrushed brown hair and puffy cheeks. He wants a revolution. He's gluten intolerant. He advocates the overthrow of capitalism. He's  studying at the University of Sydney and expects to work in IT.

He's among Australia's ranks of extreme anti-fascists – who have clashed violently with far-right groups at recent street protests in Sydney and Melbourne. They rally under the red-and-black flag of anti-fascist group "Antifa" – an umbrella term covering a loose collection of socialists, anarchists, anti-racists and small-l liberals.

While anyone opposed to an authoritarian or totalitarian state might be considered anti-fascist, Antifa tends to be associated with the militant left wing. There's no leader or executive committee. Members are identified by their all-black clothes (known as a "black bloc") and often angry confrontations with opponents and police.

Antifaschistische Aktion started as an anti-fascist organisation in Germany in the lead-up to World War II. Exactly who's in Antifa in Australia in 2016 is hard to say, because many members don black masks as a form of anonymity and intimidation.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane last month accused extremists on both sides of promoting a "mob mentality" – after a bloody clash at a Halal Expo in Melbourne left one anti-Islam protester bleeding heavily from the head and others injured from being punched, kicked and beaten with flag poles.

NSW Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Kyle Stewart similarly tells Fairfax Media that while everyone has a right to protest – regardless of their political views – "there is no place for criminal, anti-social, or dangerous behaviour".

I first met the Anarchist one Saturday in Sydney's CBD, where he was protesting against the Australian Christian Lobby in a balaclava and black-rimmed reading glasses. We agreed to meet later at the QVB, where we continued on to The Palace Tea Room, a fancy cafe on the first floor.

He doesn't want to be identified, in case fascists come after him. He's attended four Antifa rallies, including an ugly fracas with anti-Islam protesters in Cronulla last December, on the 10th anniversary of race riots there.

The Anarchist admits he has never laid a finger on an opponent. But he insists that any form of violence is legitimate against racists, bigots, nationalists or Nazis. "If someone beats up a racist it doesn't worry me. These people are heinous, so I don't really have any sympathy for them."

He grew up in a family of Liberal voters, in the wealthy suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. At university, while studying science and arts, he started reading Karl Marx and was swayed by the notion of a working-class revolution. Later, he embraced anarchy – but admits it's hard to follow in practice, while studying IT in Sydney.

"You can't escape capitalism. You can't live on an island. You can't just magically declare yourself not part of the system," he says, sipping his tea. "To radicalise people is not easy. You can't just walk up to someone and say 'smash the system' – they will think you're a loony. That's why people have to be mobilised."

Dr Troy Whitford, a lecturer in Australian history and politics at Charles Sturt University, says Antifa members tend to be disaffected male university students. Many have joined the cause in recent years to counter far-right groups, such as the United Patriots Front (UPF). "Whenever you see a rise in radical nationalism, you see a rise in counter groups as well," he says.

Such groups tend to be loosely organised, with a tendency to splinter, he says. He plots Antifa on the radical left-wing fringe of the mainstream debate on multiculturalism. While most Australians sympathise with anti-fascism generally, relatively few support Antifa's more aggressive methods, he says. "Look at some of the demonstrations between Reclaim Australia and anti-fascists, and you actually find anti-fascists are the ones throwing the first punch," he says.

"It becomes difficult to know which ones are the fascists. To quash someone else's view is fascism. To hit someone over the head because they don't agree with you is fascism. To lay the boot into another person to get what you want is fascism. You can be an anti-fascist and hold a placard but the minute you start imposing your will on someone else, you become a fascist as well."

Melbourne-based Antifa organiser Blake (not his real name) says the level of violence by anti-fascists is overstated. "I have seen worse brawls among people at the pub than I have at some of these rallies."

He's 27 years old and a tradesman for a residential building company. He admits punching and kicking right-wing protesters at street rallies but insists that it was in defence of his comrades. "I was standing at one rally and saw someone from UPF punch a woman's face. I got really angry and tried to shove him off and it turned into a brawl," he says. "To be honest, it felt quite scary. I half expected them to pull out a weapon."

He admits to also feeling a "macho adrenaline rush" and "indignant rage" during such stoushes. Antifa members adopt the term "no platform" when confronting far-right groups – meaning that their aim is to shut down entirely their rallies, protests and propaganda.

But he rejects the argument that quashing their right to protest is akin to fascism. "We are not trying to control what people in their everyday lives are allowed to do and say, we are only trying to shut down one tiny element of society," he says.
'Violence is usually a last resort'

At a bustling cafe in Newtown, near Sydney University, I meet a young anti-fascist who wants to be called Alison. She's wearing a black T-shirt with the pro-Indigenous slogan "Sovereignty never ceded" and a bright pink cap, which she sits on the table. Her lank black hair hangs over her face as she talks.

When she's not screaming at fascists, she works as a mathematician – but won't say where. She says she knows anti-fascist doctors, pilots, scientists, tradespeople, students and fire fighters.

She calls herself a Marxist and makes vague claims to have organised several rallies against Reclaim Australia in Brisbane, before moving south in late 2015. At the Cronulla riots anniversary, she held aloft the Antifa flag while marching behind a banner reading: "The only good fascist is a dead one!"

Anti-fascists outnumbered anti-Islam protesters on the day. A woman draped in an Australian flag was surrounded by 20 to 30 masked Antifa, shouting at her to "take that fascist flag off now". "Burn that flag and burn that woman," yelled a man in the crowd.

Alison argues that such abuse is usually in self-defence. "It's a bit weird, because 70 years ago people were celebrated for shooting fascists – but now when you just push one over on the street you get vilified," she says.

"Violence is usually a last resort but it is certainly not one we are apprehensive about. Obviously, converting someone is better than beating the shit out of them. But if you can't reason with people and you can't ignore them, you have to confront them."

Posts on the Antifa Australia Facebook page adopt an equally hard line: "We will not be afraid to use force"; "We need to F---ing shut down the fascists"; "Violence is the language of the unheard"; "We take policing into our own hands"; "If they plan a riot, we plan a riot. We must not be afraid to use force to defeat the enemy and instill (sic) fear in the racists."

But such bluster is not embraced by all anti-fascists. Anti-fascism advocate Andy Fleming (the pseudonym of a Melbourne blogger who tracks far-right groups) describes such posts as "quasi-hysterical". "It is not like you are fighting the battle of Stalingrad. To the extent that it is exaggerated, I think it undermines the seriousness of the purpose."

Antifa in Australia lacks the history and organisational capacity of its peers in Europe, where such groups attract thousands of supporters, he says. In a funny way, Antifa here is not dissimilar to Reclaim Australia – it's not terribly well-established or organised, and tends to be hijacked by self-appointed spokespeople.

Fascism and anti-fascism remain relatively marginal in Australia, Fleming says. But he argues that large rallies by groups such as the UPF in recent years illustrate the need for vigilance. "Anti-fascism will remain small for so long as fascism is small," he says.

"But we may be witnessing the first few sparks of a fascist movement emerging in Australia. So it makes sense to monitor and keep track of what is going on."


The real cost of welcoming refugees to Australia

This year Australia will select 13,750 "humanitarian" refugees (the intake will rise to 18,750 by 2018-19), some from camps across Africa. From the vast numbers of Syrians and Iraqis forced to flee their war-torn homelands, there will be a one-off additional intake of 12,000 people, costed at more than $700 million.

This week the cost of welcoming such refugees here and resettling them was thrust into public debate when the Greens called for our humanitarian quota to be raised to 50,000. The issue then exploded in the middle of the election campaign when Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said that “large percentages of them (refugees) have no English skills at all” and would “languish” in unemployment and on Medicare. Dutton added that, under the Greens’ policy, such people “would be taking Australian jobs”.

Cue outrage far and wide. Others, such as Malcolm Turnbull, emphasised Dutton was telling the truth and that the government was happy to meet the costs of resettling its intake.

Labor, meanwhile, wants to increase the annual humanitarian intake to 37,000. Dutton says Labor’s and the Greens’ policies would be hugely expensive. The government estimates that, across four years, the Greens’ policy would cost $7 billion and Labor’s proposal about $2.3bn.

This contrasts with the costs involved in settling asylum-seekers who landed in Christmas Island during the sustained wave of boat arrivals under Labor. Many of those granted protection were professionals who required less government assistance.

A 2011 report for the commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship found humanitarian entrants helped meet labour shortages but their contributions took time. The Social and Economic Contributions of First and Second Generation Humanitarian Entrants report found that, among those interviewed as new arrivals in 1994-96, 84 per cent of the refugees were unemployed. Three years later, 33 per cent still did not have jobs.

“This is a function of them on average having less English language ability, less educational experience, different forms of family support, less pre-migration preparation, poorer physical and mental health and greater difficulty in having their qualifications and experience recognised,” the report says. In a 2010 survey of relatively new migrants to Australia, including 8500 refugees, half the respondents said they spoke English not well or not at all. The Australian Survey Research found 24.1 per cent were in paid work.

The federal government is not carrying the cost of humanitarian resettlement on its own. The West Australian Department of Sport and Recreation, for instance, has sunk $405,000 into a program at the Edmund Rice Centre in Perth’s northern suburbs.

Refugee boys and girls flock there after school on Wednesdays and Fridays to play Australian football with African-born youth workers and kids from other backgrounds. The refugee children’s parents come to watch and often end up as helpers.

“They do vital work in getting people new to Western Australia engaged in our community through sport,” says Ron Alexander, director general of the department. “Edmund Rice is special in that it brings the volunteers, families, kids and our existing sports together, ultimately to enjoy and contribute to our way of life.”

Rafferty attributes the devastating beach photograph of drowned three-year-old refugee boy Alan Kurdi, beamed around the world, as prompting much public concern. “For the first time in a long time people have seen something that resonates with them,” Rafferty says.

“We have received about 40 tubs of winter clothing and children’s games which we’ve been able to distribute to refugee families.”

Rafferty acknowledges many refugee families need a lot of help across a long period, but he says the families that his organisation has begun to settle as part of the special intake of 12,000 Syrians and Iraqis are a little different from needier refugees, who have sometimes experienced generations of trauma. “The thing about the Syrians and the Iraqis coming through is that they are well educated, they are very entrepreneurial and they are going to have a really good settlement experience here,” Rafferty says.

All refugees in Australia are provided 510 hours of English lessons, which takes about nine months. Before that time, refugees with poor English find it difficult to get work.


Labor's 'national interest test' restricting gas exports is NOT in Australia's interests?

Everyone who understands energy agrees it's in Australia's interests to develop more gas.  Good for our economy. Good for jobs. Good for the environment.  And it's universally understood that there is an urgent need to develop new gas supply for Australia's eastern market.

We can and should, as a nation, be making the most of this abundant, cleaner-burning energy source.  So it's astonishing when a major political party releases an election policy that threatens to do the opposite.

Make no mistake, Labor's so-called "national interest test" on gas exports is not in Australia's interests.

It may satisfy the protectionist cravings of a few union leaders but it's a bad policy that will punish one of our most successful gas export industries while doing nothing to boost domestic supply.

Australia's gas industry is a global success story. Thanks to an unprecedented $200 billion of investment, we are on the verge of becoming the world's largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

But the industry has been smashed by the dramatic collapse in international oil prices. Companies are under intense pressure to cut costs, thousands have lost their jobs and new investment is on the line.

To make matters worse, exploration has declined to alarming levels.

Right now, Australia needs policies that will encourage new investment. Labor's policy will scare investment away. The party's solution to east coast supply concerns is to saddle new or expanded projects with additional layers of red tape that duplicate many existing processes and will add time and cost. Our competitors must be laughing.

The ACCC's recent report on its inquiry into the east coast gas market is the latest in a series of independent studies and reviews that have rejected a national interest test along with other forms of gas reservation.

Labor says its national interest test is designed to shield Australian manufacturers from higher gas prices. But according to the ACCC, any relief would be short lived. In the longer term, artificially suppressing prices would simply weaken the economic incentive for further gas exploration and development.

And it gets worse. Projects targeting domestic supply may be knocked out of the market due to poor economic returns. The result is less gas coming to market, less competition and more upward pressure on prices.

The ACCC's concerns were neatly summarised in this warning: "In a market that is facing supply issues arising from LNG, moratoria, and a low oil price, further impediments to gas supply development would be detrimental and so should not be introduced."

Labor's policy is based on the false premise that a successful gas export industry somehow threatens domestic supply. But this ignores the fact that our major gas exporters are also major suppliers to the domestic market.

For example, without Queensland's gas export industry, new gas fields supplying the domestic market would never have been developed and eastern Australia may have been importing gas from Papua New Guinea.

The reality is Australia has more than enough gas to supply its domestic and export markets – if industry is allowed to develop it.

As the ACCC and the COAG Energy Council have noted, the best response to concerns about domestic gas supply and rising prices is to bring more gas to market. More gas, not more regulation, will put downward pressure on prices.

This means removing unnecessary regulatory barriers that discourage the safe and timely development of new gas supply, particularly in Victoria and NSW.

Unfortunately, Labor is a big part of the problem. Apart from South Australia and Queensland, moratoriums on unconventional gas development are now part of the political rhetoric of every Labor state branch in the nation. In Victoria, both sides of politics have effectively banned all forms of onshore gas development. They might as well slap a moratorium on new jobs.

Australia's emergence as a global gas giant is a remarkable achievement that would never have been possible without the bipartisan support of the major parties. Labor needs to think twice before it walks away from market-based policies that have delivered sustained economic growth.

If Labor genuinely wants to support more and cheaper gas for Australia's manufacturers, it doesn't need a national interest test. It just needs to tell its state colleagues to stop standing on the hose.


Aurukun paying guards to keep town safe

I have been saying for some time that the best thing governments could do for Aborigines is to provide better policing for their communities.  Good to see that Aborigines themselves agree with me

The Aurukun Shire Council is spending more than a $1 million a year on private security guards and community police in the troubled Queensland town.

And its security bill is set to rise, the council to foot an annual $150,000 bill to operate a new security camera network in the indigenous community.

Chief executive Bernie McCarthy says the council has failed to convince former and current state governments to share security-related costs.

He says it's a big issue for a council that doesn't charge general rates, and relies primarily on government grants for its revenue.

The council has been paying private security guards for at least the last five years to improve community safety and protect council property and staff.

It also employs community police to work alongside sworn officers.

"We don't receive any funding for those activities," Mr McCarthy told AAP on Friday.

"And now we're also going to be hit with the operational costs for the CCTV system."

Mr McCarthy said the state government had helped fund the camera system, but the council needed help with its ongoing security costs.

Public safety in Aurukun is back in the spotlight after 25 teachers were evacuated following an attack on the principal of the town's only school.

It's alleged he was attacked with the blunt end of an axe when he went to the aid of teaching staff who'd reported youths loitering outside their accommodation in the school compound.

Classes have resumed after all but five of the teachers returned, following a security upgrade that included better fencing and the installation of panic buttons in their compound homes.

The Queensland Teachers' Union has downplayed calls by Aurukun Mayor Dereck Walpo for full-time security guards to protect teachers.

"I hope we can positively influence behaviour in the community so that won't be necessary," union president Kevin Bates told AAP 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

20 May, 2016

Weasel words from the Left on immigration again

You can always rely on the good ol' "Guardian" for one-eyed Leftist propaganda -- and they have not failed us on this one.  They claim to critique the government's claim that refugees end up largely unemployed and therefore welfare dependent.  Excerpt below. 

Note that it does not address the question at all.  It speaks of "considerable" achievement by "refugees".  But what is "considerable?  You have to go to the underlying report to find that out.  And in my usual pesky way, I did  just that.  And what we read from their table 6 is that only 16.6% of "humanitarian" immigrants were in full-time work at the time the interviews were carried out.  Isn't it amazing how Leftists can spin things?  They are habitual liars

And note that the underlying report was commissioned by the Gillard government so was almost certainly already leaning over backwards to find something favourable to say about immigrants

Here’s what Dutton’s own department says about the social and economic contribution made by refugees to Australia:

In 2011 the department of immigration and citizenship (as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection was then called) commissioned a report by the University of Adelaide academic Prof Graeme Hugo. Hugo’s report is here.

The department’s own summation of Hugo’s findings (still available on the department website) reads:

    The research found the overwhelming picture, when one takes the longer term perspective of changes over the working lifetime of humanitarian program entrants and their children, is one of considerable achievement and contribution.

    The humanitarian program yields a demographic dividend because of a low rate of settler loss, relatively high fertility rate and a high proportion of children who are likely to work the majority of their lives in Australia. It finds evidence of increasing settlement in non-metropolitan areas, which creates social and economic benefits for local communities.

    Humanitarian entrants help meet labour shortages, including in low-skill and low-paid occupations. They display strong entrepreneurial qualities compared with other migrant groups, with a higher than average proportion engaging in small and medium business enterprises.

    Humanitarian settlers also benefit the wider community through developing and maintaining economic linkages with their origin countries. In addition, they make significant contributions through volunteering in both the wider community and within their own community groups.


The poor in Australia are less healthy -- and they bring it on themselves

The poor in Australia are so poor that they can eat, drink, and smoke themselves to death. ­Indeed, they seem pretty good at it because they are one and a half times more likely to suffer disease from those causes than those who are better off.

Last week, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released its report, Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and deaths in Australia 2011. Burden of disease combines measures of the impact of dying early and living with illness. The report suggests 30 per cent of the burden of disease in Australia is preventable because "modifiable risk factors" cause it.

An example of a modifiable risk factor is "high body mass" — fat. It could lead to heart disease, diabetes and more. A great many modifiable risks are "behavioural". They are very familiar and include grog, smokes, drugs, unsafe sex, physical inactivity, childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, and a diet low in vegetables.

All of these factors are heavily class based. The researchers also say that, "if the poor were as healthy as the rich they would be 21 per cent better off." The message in the report, although drowning in gobbledygook, is quite simple. If you change the way you live, or with whom you live, you will live longer.

The researchers say that "disparity" in health outcomes is caused by "reduced access" to health services and resources, and "risky behaviours". Short of making the poor rich, how can the disparity be removed?

The fact that the wealthy can be kept alive by buying better health services does not explain why the poor, who have access to perfectly good health services, die younger. Bulk-billing GPs tell their patients every day to lose weight, eat vegetables, give up the smokes, give up grog, and to exercise. It is not "reduced access" that results in the poor dying younger or being less well.

All Australians are able to learn from highly qualified medical practitioners how to live healthier lives. Whether they listen is another thing altogether. Indeed, governments know that many do not listen, so they give them a real hard nudge.

Of the behavioural factors, and putting to one side unsafe sex, sin products such as grog and smokes (including gambling, which is highly related to others) are heavily taxed, vegetables are not, and the others are illegal.

In effect, the tax and the legal system distinguish between two classes of poor: the deserving and the undeserving.

The deserving poor do not have to pay sin taxes or fall foul of the law. To a great extent, through sin taxes and legal penalties, the undeserving poor pay for their sins, but little else.

Much of the federal election is encapsulated in this tale of class and health.

The welfare state cannot modify the class system sufficiently for the poor to catch up. The differences in health (and life chances) between the poor and the rest are unlikely ever to be abolished.

The welfare state provides ­adequate access to health services, and it tries to modify behaviour by taxation and the law. To some extent this works. In other respects, it makes lives more difficult.

Duncan Storrar, Q&A’s "national hero", is the architect of his downfall. He receives benefits regardless of whether he deserves it. As a nation, we have shown great forbearance.

My sense, in this campaign, is that forbearance is wearing thin. This is a huge danger for Bill Shorten and the Labor Party on two grounds. The ideology that welfare can abolish differences is threadbare. The money backing the threadbare ideology has gone. Labor has spent the ­future. There is no more chance that the welfare state can abolish the class system, sufficient to have the poor live as well as the rich, than Bill Shorten has of becoming prime minister.

To paraphrase Amy Wax (Race, Wrongs and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century), no one knows how to ensure that others make good health choices or do not engage in risky behaviour. More broadly, "We do not know how to make someone obey the law, study hard, develop useful skills, be courteous, speak and write well, work steadily, marry and stay married, be a devoted husband and father, and refrain from bearing children they cannot or will not care for."

The problems of the unhealthy poor will not be found in great social programs run out of Canberra. What remains is a salutary series of questions, with few answers, and the bill


States and territories in the age of entitlement
Transferring responsibility to the States is possible and practical

Carve 10 percentage points out of personal income tax, put it in the hands of a sub-national government, and reduce grants to said government by an equivalent amount. Malcolm Turnbull's pre-COAG thought bubble? It sounds like it, but it's what has actually just happened in the UK, as Westminster devolves fiscal power to Scotland.

Has the Australian federation reached such a sorry pass that we can take lessons from one of the most centralised of unitary states? For that matter, decentralisation is a global trend. As the Australian federation becomes more centralised, unitary states are going in the opposite direction.

We've travelled so far along the centralisation path that we've been conditioned to think the idea of our states raising more of the money they spend as freakish. In fact it's nothing less than a bedrock principle of accountable, efficient federalism. The Premiers and Chief Ministers know that, and some of their predecessors even advocated what Turnbull proposed to COAG, but it suits them (the WA Premier excepted) to pretend otherwise.

Turnbull's proposal has been put to rest for now, but the problem of unaccountable, inefficient federalism remains. More than that, the Premiers and Chief Ministers have become part of the entitlement culture.

Far from coming to an end, the age of entitlement long ago spread from pensions and other cash benefits to in-kind health and education benefits. It is the states and territories -- not the federal government -- that actually run public hospitals and schools, but instead of being held accountable for how they are run the Premiers and Chief Ministers have turned themselves into a pressure group for more federal funding as if that is the solution to all problems.

Public attitudes towards health and education in the age of entitlement make it politically difficult for the Commonwealth to make 'take it or leave it' offers to the states as in the past, but eventually something must give. The Abbott government's so-called '$80 billion cut' forced the issue into the open, but the nature of its resolution is not yet clear. The least satisfactory one would be more Commonwealth taxation to finance more grants to the states.     


‘Nothing worth doing comes easy’: How 23-year-old Brisbane man saved for his first home

I hope it works for this kid.  Buying off the plan can have big pitfalls

LIKE many young Aussies, housing is a major issue for Brisbane IT professional Nick Burge, only the 24-year-old is frustrated for different reasons than most.

He’s frustrated by Gen Y constantly complaining about how they can’t crack the property market, and thinking politicians should be making it easier for them to buy their first home.

He’s frustrated by suggestions that parents should "shell out" and hand over cash to their kids to set them up with a new house.

And he’s mostly excited, but still a little frustrated, by the fact that he still has to wait another three months before he can move into his brand new two-bedroom apartment, rooftop pool and all.

In stark contrast to the widely accepted narrative that young first home hopefuls are locked out of the market, Mr Burge managed to save for a deposit on his own home, after paying in full for his first car, without handouts from his folks by the age of 23.

And he wants his peers to know that they can do it too.

"A lot of my friends are in that situation where they think they’ll never own property, and it’s quite frustrating because it’s probably more a lack of research on their end," he tells

"Yes, it’s extremely hard. I know that from my own experience. But nothing worth doing comes easy."

While living with his parents in Brisbane and studying IT and design at university, Mr Burge was at first furious his mum and dad were happy to sink money into his education, but a car was out of the question.

Looking back, he says it’s now the best thing they could have done, setting him on the path to become a self-funded success.

"It was hard to comprehend ... They were financially capable that they could help me, but they said from the beginning that they weren’t going to," he says.

"They said if I wanted a car I could save for it myself, so I basically just challenged myself for a few months to work so many hours and rack up that money, which also reduced the amount of time that I could spend money.

"That made me really want it, and want to set goals. To me it was buy a car first, buy a house second."

The student worked three part time jobs over the uni break and kept up as many hours as he could during semester. He also managed his money carefully, investing in different term deposits and keeping his spending money in cash.

When his investments had matured and he had enough saved, Mr Burge withdrew from his four accounts so he could have all the money in the one place, and went to the dealership with a wad of fifties.

"I had $20,000 in notes, in cold hard cash. I took it to the dealership and we had to count it like 10 times to make sure it was the right amount," he says.

"The guy was like ‘this is the first time this has ever happened to us’."

The 18-year-old drove from the dealership in his brand new Mazda 3 with a zero account balance, so it was clearly the right time for the teenager to start planning his first property purchase.

Motivated by his home ownership dream, and the need for experience when he graduated his degree, Mr Burge started freelancing as a web designer and eventually landed a part time job at a start-up which turned full-time once he graduated.

He researched houses but found an apartment would be more attainable, so decided to invest in a two-bedroom apartment in Coorparoo, only about 4km from Brisbane’s CBD.

In April last year he secured his first property with a price tag of $389,000. That’s about 40 per cent cheaper than the average two bedroom house price in the area. It’s a home, and that’s what he was after.

Mr Burge had done all his research. Buying off the plan meant he required only a 10 per cent deposit ($38,900). He decided to save another 10 per cent by the settlement date to avoid paying mortgage insurance.

Although he’s not a fan of handouts, he’s also planning to apply for Queensland’s $15,000 "Great Start Grant" for first homeowners purchasing new homes. He sees it "as a reward for my hard saving", and intends to use the money "towards some nicer furniture when I move in".

With housing affordability consistently cited as the greatest source of pressure for Australians, particularly young ones, it’s not going away as a political issue.

Malcolm Turnbull’s comments that parents should "shell out" and support children to buy their first home attracted a huge amount of criticism that the Prime Minister had a limited understanding of the issue and was "out of touch" with the property-seeking public.

Mr Burge was also incensed by this comment, taking to LinkedIn to pen an essay in response.

He’s on board with the Government’s choice to make no changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax, and he didn’t think the quip made the PM seem out of touch. Rather, he thought it highlighted another cause of housing affordability struggles — parents being too generous.

"We’re having the wrong conversation," he wrote.  "The root solution has nothing to do with external financial aid for the younger generation. It’s a personal one ... parents are the worst culprits."

Mr Burge slammed the notion that parents should assist their kids in buying a car or putting down a deposit on a house. "My parents chose a different direction. Instead, they offered to put some money towards my university degree," he wrote.  "I didn’t realise it at the time, but they had given me an even greater education — the reward of hard work."

Mr Burge admits he’s lucky. He knows not everyone has the luxury of living with their parents and avoiding rent and other costs that come with leaving the nest.

"I know not everyone’s in that position, but people can achieve different goals at different stages, and I think the discussion we need to be having is more around financial responsibility and educating people a lot younger," he says.

"I suppose compared to other people, I don’t have a gym membership, I haven’t signed up for Netflix, I just spend my time probably working, I do a cheaper form of exercise, I have boardgame nights with friends. It’s just a different sort of lifestyle I guess, different priorities."

For now, his top priority is paying off his mortgage, and his next big goal will be to expand his property portfolio.


In brief

Those mainstream, moderate Greens. Jim Casey, Greens candidate for Grayndler, writing in the Guardian Australia, Thursday:

"As a union leader used to speaking shorthand to comrades, I framed capitalism as an idea that could be overthrown. On reflection, it is something that is more likely to collapse under its own weight — we cannot adhere to a belief that is so obviously unable to make the transition into the future that awaits many of us and all of our children … We must challenge the durability of capitalism in the face of three overriding realities: climate change, growing inequality and resource depletion"

Tell that to your comrades in Caracas. The Pan-American Post reports on life in the socialist paradise of Venezuela, May 4:

"Ramon Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food. Through Twitter, Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a "painful reality" that people "hunt cats, dogs and pigeons" to ease their hunger. People are also reportedly gathering vegetables from the ground and trash to eat as well"

Could happen to anybody. ABC News websites, Thursday:

The Labor candidate for the federal seat of Fremantle is set to be disendorsed by the ALP. It has been revealed Maritime Union official Chris Brown failed to disclose two convictions from the 1980s — the assault of a police officer and driving under the influence.

Bill Shorten, speaking to the press in Rockhampton, Thursday:

I am very disappointed by this set of events. The Labor Party has acted and we’re moving on from it. The national secretary has made a recommendation to me … I believe that Josh Wilson, the deputy mayor of Fremantle, will be a very good candidate in Fremantle.

Shorten, clearing up another candidate issue, moments later:

I don’t accept the language that was used at all by our candidate.

The Labor candidate for Macarthur, Michael Freelander, Wednesday:

I would hate to think we would be torturing children in a place like Manus Island — in a concentration camp — and I could never support that.

Israeli MP Sharren Haskel disputes the description of Manus Island:

I would invite (Dr Freelander) to Germany to view some real concentration camps and everything that happened there, the gas chambers, mountains of shoes, and clothes and glasses.


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 May, 2016

Congratulations, Australia

Australia has been very slow to subjugate the rights, interests and welfare of the majority to the wishes of sexual deviants.  Note:  "Deviant" means outside the norm or the average. On some estimations, no more than 2% of the population is homosexual so they deviate very far from normal. "Deviant" and "normal" have become loaded words for some but they basically have statistical meaning

IT’S a colourful map of the globe, daubed with vibrant splashes of pink, green and yellow. But the brightness of colour belies the fact Australia is lagging behind many nations it sees as equals when it comes to key areas of human rights.  The map’s creator has told Australia’s lack of action, in one particular area, is a cause for "alarm".

The map is part of a report issued by Geneva-based ILGA, the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex association, on global laws covering sexual orientation.

Called State Sponsored Homophobia 2016, the publication coincides with the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) held on Tuesday.

The report states that 75 countries currently criminalise homosexuality and while this is a marked decrease from the 92 countries a decade ago, 13 nations continue to apply the death penalty to gay men including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, which are shown in red.

Australia is in the upper echelon of nations when it comes to gay rights, with ILGA singling out effective employment protection laws and anti-discrimination legislation covering health and education.

But the report’s author, Aengus Carroll, told that Australia was still behind many countries it otherwise regards as peers such as the US, UK and New Zealand.

"In terms of relationships, Australia is not too hot compared to [New Zealand]. Relationship recognition is uneven throughout Australia."

That status is reflected in the lighter colouring of Australia which illustrates that the recognition of same-sex unions is deemed "clearly inferior substitute to marriage" or as Mr Carroll puts its, legislation that is "very weak … that hardly protects". Different coloured dots on Australia represent areas, such as NSW, Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania, where civil partnerships are in place.

More than 30 countries now allow same-sex marriages including most of Western Europe, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay and the US, shown in dark green on the map.
The map, published by ILGA, shows countries that have legalised marriage equality in bright green. Those in light green, like Australia, have yet to do so. Countries in pink imprison gay people, those in red have the death penalty for homosexuality.

The map, published by ILGA, shows countries that have legalised marriage equality in bright green. Those in light green, like Australia, have yet to do so. Countries in pink imprison gay people, those in red have the death penalty for homosexuality.Source:Supplied


Despite opinion polls showing a majority of Australians favour marriage equality, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said a final decision in parliament will be dependent on a plebiscite following a Coalition victory.

Labor has said they will ditch a public poll in favour of a parliamentary vote to be held within 100 days if Shorten gets the keys to the Lodge.

In South Australia and Queensland, the so-called "gay panic" defence continues to remain a viable legal argument in murder cases whereby the accused can have their charge downgraded if they can prove they were provoked into killing someone of the same gender because of a sexual advance.

Comedian Tom Ballard on Tuesday joined forces with a Catholic bishop to call for an end to the legal loophole, reported the Star Observer.

Queensland, uniquely, also continues to have an unequal age of consent for heterosexuals and gay men.

The ILGA also launched the first ever worldwide survey of global attitudes to LGBTI people which found 68 per cent of people globally would be upset if their child came out as gay including 44 per cent of people in Australasia.


Dutton says illiterate and innumerate refugees would take Australian jobs

The Left have feigned great outrage over the comments below but have provided no evidence to refute the claims concerned. What they do instead is point to examples of refugees who have done well.  But nobody has denied that some do well.  It is what MOST do that is of concern.  But looking at only part of the story is characteristic of Leftist argument

MALCOLM Turnbull has echoed Peter Dutton’s comments on "illiterate" refugees this afternoon, as the Immigration Minister’s inflammatory comments put the Liberal Party on the defensive.

Labor has accused the government of Pauline Hanson politics over Mr Dutton’s remarks, which cast refugees as illiterate, long-term welfare recipients, who take jobs from Australians.

In a press conference in Townsville this afternoon, Mr Turnbull said many refugees "have never been employed. Many of them have not had very much education. Many of them are illiterate in their own languages".

He praised his "outstanding Immigration Minister" but appeared to downplay concerns about refugees becoming welfare addicted or taking jobs from locals.

The Prime Minister said it was no criticism to point out many refugees were unskilled and illiterate: "It’s no fault of theirs. That’s why we reach out to help them with compassion."

He said $800 million a year was spent on ensuring refugees received the a settlement services they needed, and were integrated.

He said for Mr Dutton was arguing we had to take "the number of refugees that we can effectively settle".

Speaking earlier today in Cairns, Mr Turnbull pointed to "an enormous amount of money" spent settling refugees and teaching English language skills.

"We invest more on settlement than many other countries so it’s very expensive. We don’t begrudge the money. But it’s important to get it right," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the Prime Minister’s comments didn’t go far enough.

"Mr Turnbull, if he has any shred of self respect left on this matter, must immediately condemn Mr Dutton’s comments," Mr Shorten told reporters.

"But of course, I’m sceptical that he will condemn Mr Dutton’s comments because I wonder if Mr Turnbull is actually feeding the lines to Mr Dutton."

He said Mr Dutton’s remarks were "comments Pauline Hanson would have been proud to make". This was a reference to the one-time Liberal candidate, who formed a party based on anti-immigration issues, but who has not won an election in 20 years.

"Mr Turnbull needs to come me out and recognise the damage that Mr Dutton’s remarks are making," Mr Shorten said.

"Mr Dutton didn’t just insult refugees when he made those comments. He insulted millions of migrants who have contributed to a truly great country."

In an attack on Greens policy to take in 50,000 refugees a year, Mr Dutton, during a rambling appearance on Sky News last night said "many" refugees in Australia were unproductive or working too hard, and he also managed to slip in remarks about Green and Labor associations with a controversial trade union.

"Many (refugee) people, they won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English," he said.

"And, this is a difficulty because the Greens are very close to the CFMEU, as obviously the Labor Party is, and their affiliations with the union movement are obviously well known.

"Now, these people would be taking Australian jobs. There’s no question about that."

Mr Turnbull was in Cairns to announce a $24 million shipbuilding project when he was asked about Mr Dutton’s statement.

"We have the most successful multicultural society in the world," he said.

"We have a very generous humanitarian program, which as you know we are increasing over the next few years to 18,000 a year and of course in addition to that we’re taking 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict zone.

"Now, the reason we are successful is because we invest an enormous amount of money into the settlement services, to make sure that our refugees who come to Australia get the language instruction, all of the support to enable them to integrate into Australian society and move into employment and take up those opportunities."

Earlier today, Labor’s Chris Bowen demanded Mr Dutton apologise.

"There are hundreds of thousands of refugees in Australia whom have worked hard, who have educated themselves and their children, and they will be shaking their heads at their minister today in disgust, frankly," the shadow Treasurer and former immigration minister said on ABC radio today.

"And frankly, if Peter Dutton owes anybody an apology it’s not the Labor Party it’s them — hundreds of thousands of refugees who have made Australia a better place.

"Minister Dutton should come out to Cabramatta High School and see the children of refugees topping the state in maths. "He should walk around ... the small businesses which have been started by refugees and see the contribution they have made to Australia."


Peta Credlin defends the Coalition’s immigration policy

Peta Credlin defended the Coalition’s immigration policy on Sky News on Tuesday night in a debate with public policy fellow at Melbourne University Nicholas Reece.

The former Liberal Party chief of staff said the plans to increase the uptake of refugees, like the Greens plan announced today, were illogical without the funding and infrastructure to support them.

"Let’s be fair dinkum we are talking about public housing, we are talking about water shortages, we are talking about a range of issues, it’s not a simple hand on heart humanitarian response, it’s got to be hard-headed and it’s got to be paid for."

Mr Reece countered that Australia has had many successful waves of immigration, including after the WWII, where the country accepted hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Holocaust in Europe.

"They’ve built this country into the amazing country that it is. This line that Peta is running that there is certain types of people that shouldn’t be allowed in this country is extremely dangerous and I’d pause you to reflect on what you’re saying," he said.

Ms Credlin was quick to respond: "Do not play that lefty line. Do not play that lefty line. Do not try and say my side of politics somehow is morally corrupt by wanting the intake to be paid for," she said. "You’ve got to pay for it … my side of politics is just as generous as your side of politics.

But the thing is we’re always left with the bill. And you want Australians to come with you on your humanitarian intake. You want Australians to support the level of intake. Because if you don’t, you get a feral outbreak, like [Pauline] Hanson, and you must not have that happen again."


East West Link decision returns to haunt Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews

Appalling waste by a know-all Leftist government

PREMIER Daniel Andrews’s decision to waste $1.1 billion killing off the East West Link has returned to haunt him, with his hand-picked infrastructure advisers listing it as a key project.

In a sensational report to be released Thursday, Infrastructure Victoria lists the East West stages one and two as ­important to "meet Victoria’s infrastructure needs".

Mr Andrews controversially dumped East West, despite contracts having been signed with the previous Napthine government.

Stage one of the $17 billion project would have provided a new tunnel connecting the Eastern Freeway to CityLink, with stage two connecting CityLink and the Western Ring Rd.

The new report backing East West will be highly embarrassing for Mr Andrews, who set up Infrastructure Victoria last year to provide independent advice on the state’s building needs.

It will also provide a boost to federal Liberal MPs in the eastern suburbs who are still campaigning for East West Link to be built and will put pressure on Labor leader Bill Shorten, who is fighting to hold on to marginal Labor seats in the outer east, Chisholm and Bruce.

The East West stages are important to "meet Victoria’s infrastructure needs", according to the report.

Mr Andrews said in October he was setting up Infrastructure Victoria to "give us clear, expert advice that is independent of politics and focused on our state’s priorities". The body is due to release its "foundation paper" on Thursday.

A copy was seen by the Herald Sun, and it examines Victoria’s infrastructure needs for the next 30 years. "The purpose of this paper is to put all the options we’ve thought of for meeting Victoria’s infrastructure needs on the table and to invite you to contribute your views and ideas," it states.

Under the headline "new and expanded assets" in one section of the report, it lists: "Eastern Freeway to CityLink connection (EWE) — improve connectivity across the city from east to west linking the Eastern Freeway to CityLink.

"CityLink to Western Ring Road connection (EWW) — Improve connectivity across the city from west to east, linking CityLink with M80."

An international airport in Melbourne’s southeast is suggested in the report.

The 148-page "All Things Considered" report also includes controversial options such as closing small rural schools, building a second Melbourne port, a third international airport in Melbourne’s southeast, expanding the desalination plant at Wonthaggi and using recycled water for human consumption.

But it is the ghost of the East West Link, which will haunt Mr Andrews, who pledged before the 2014 state election to tear up the contract because it "wasn’t worth the paper it was written on".

The report makes no mention of the government’s priority road project, the $5.5 billion Western Distributor, proposed by private toll road operator Transurban, which links the West Gate Freeway to CityLink.

The release of the report will also provide another headache for Mr Shorten. As head of the Australian Workers Union and the member for Maribyrnong, Mr Shorten twice wrote letters backing the East West Link project.  But after Mr Andrews axed it, Mr Shorten said he no longer supported it being built.

Liberal MP for the federal seat of Deakin, Michael Sukkar, said the report showed how flawed the decision was to kill off the East West Link.  "This report confirms Bill Shorten’s absolute lack of judgment when he backed Daniel Andrews’s decision to waste $1.1b of taxpayers’ money cancelling the East West Link," he said.


Vic Uber driver wins legal appeal

An Uber driver has won a landmark appeal that means the ride-sharing service can operate freely in Victoria.

The court case over a $9 Uber fare is expected to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars after Nathan Brenner won an appeal against a $900 fine and charges that he illegally picked up passengers.

In a decision that had effectively outlawed Uber in Victoria, a magistrate last year found Mr Brenner guilty of two counts of operating a commercial passenger vehicle without a licence, and one of driving a commercial passenger vehicle without driver accreditation.

But Victorian County Court judge Geoffrey Chettle on Wednesday dismissed the charges and ordered the Taxi Services Commission pay the costs of Mr Brenner's appeal, led by prominent QC Neil Clelland.

The barrister represented former prime minister Julia Gillard during the royal commission into trade unions, and 32 Essendon players who appealed a world anti-doping ruling in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

While the appeal costs have not been disclosed, opposition transport spokesman David Hodgett estimates they will be high.

The opposition says the Labor government wasted money fighting Uber instead of regulating the service to provide industry certainty.

"This is not about taxis versus Uber. It's about getting the city on the move again," Mr Hodgett said.

"You need to have a level playing field where both taxis and Uber can co-exist."

Mr Brenner, who used to manage rock groups Men at Work and Split Enz, was fined $900 without conviction in December following a sting operation involving undercover taxi compliance officers.

His appeal heard the $9 fare from that ride couldn't be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution against Mr Brenner.

Mr Clelland argued the "antiquated" definitions in the legislation which apply to commercial passenger vehicles excluded Uber arrangements.

Uber Victoria general manager Matt Denman has called for the state government to now regulate the service.

"The government needs to listen to the hundreds of thousands of Victorians who are choosing ride-sharing every week and introduce sensible, safety-based regulations without delay," he said in a statement.

The Taxi Services Commission is assessing the appeal's implications.

Uber has been given the green light by the ACT, NSW, and West Australian governments, but is banned in the Northern Territory.


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 May, 2016

Another white black

This official Australian fiction that says that a white can be regarded as an Aborigine if they say they are is a form of political correctness that regularly leads to a shocking form of racism.  What happens is that whites get all sorts of awards, grants, opportunities etc. meant for Aboriginals.  Very rarely is any recipent of something designed for Aborigines in fact black.  Slight brownness is the most you can expect. So what is the message?  The message is that Aborigines themselves cannot do anything worthy.  They have to be represented by whites.  What a shocking message! How is that going to help Aborigines?  It is a total mess

Gwen and David Moore met on the set of Bitter Springs, a film about an Australian family learning how to work alongside local Aboriginal people in the outback.

It was not only the start of the couple’s love story, but also the start of their deep regard for Australia’s history and dedication to Aboriginal education.

The Gwen and David Moore Aboriginal Scholarship was established in 2015. It’s a trust worth more than $850,000 that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying a major in archaeology, anthropology, history or sociology, with a focus on Aboriginal heritage and Australian pre-history.

David Moore graduated in 1966 with a Diploma of Anthropology from the University of Sydney before being appointed Curator of Anthropology at the Australian Museum.

The scholarship’s inaugural recipient, Kirsty Mitchell (left), is studying a Bachelor of Arts; she also wants to pursue her interest in archaeology by working at the Australian Museum.

"I am going to start volunteering in the museum’s Indigenous unit," she explains. "Without the scholarship I wouldn’t have the opportunity to volunteer, as I would have to continue working."

Kirsty hopes to pursue postgraduate studies in law and develop a leadership role with Aboriginal communities.

"It’s important to preserve our history," she says. "At this vital time, when elders are getting older and no one is there to record our culture, stories and life experiences, it’s important that young Indigenous people go on that path. This scholarship provides that opportunity."


Do Warmists actually think?  Mismatch between CO2 and temperature changes

It sometimes seems not.  This post is a reaction to the generally correct statement in the excerpt below to the effect that CO2 levels have been rising steadily for a long time now.  The problem is the second statement: That increased CO2 levels cause warming.  In combination, those two statements are inconsistent with the evidence.  In particular, warming levels behave quite differently from CO2 levels.  The two are simply not correlated.  They don't covary. And without correlation there is no causation. 

For instance, CO2 levels DID rise steadily in C21 but temperatures did not.  It was only in 2015 under the influence of El Nino that temperatures rose.  And as luck would have it, that was precisely the one year in which CO2 levels stagnated.   2015 CO2 levels at Mauna Loa just fluctuated up and down from month to month around the 400ppm mark. 

The 4th column is the actual average CO2 level in ppm.
So at no point in C21 did temperatures and CO2 levels rise at the same time.  They were two independent phenomena.

The figures from Cape Grim showed more change but from August on the CO2 level was stuck on 398 ppm.  And late 2015 was precisely the time when El Nino was most influential and the temperature rise was greatest.  Putting it another way, any warming from August on (inclusive) was NOT an effect of a CO2 rise  -- because there was no CO2 rise.  That rather knocks out most of the warming in 2015 as due to CO2.  So again, temperature and CO2 did not mirror one another.

The Warmists below just don't see that a steady CO2 rise accompanied by no temperature rise is a problem.  They are robotic propagandists not scientists

Within the next couple of weeks, a remote part of north-western Tasmania is likely to grab headlines around the world as a major climate change marker is passed.

The aptly named Cape Grim monitoring site jointly run by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology will witness the first baseline reading of 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, researchers predict.

"Once it's over [400 ppm], it won't go back," said Paul Fraser, dubbed by CSIRO as the Air Man of Cape Grim, and now a retired CSIRO fellow. "It could be within 10 days."

The most recent reading on May 6 was 399.9 ppm, according to readings compiled by the CSIRO team led by Paul Krummel that strip out influences from land, including cities such as Melbourne to the north

Mark Butler, Labor's shadow environment minister, said the Cape Grim landmark reading was "deeply concerning".  "While the Coalition fights about whether or not the science of climate change is real, pollution is rising. And it's rising on their watch," Mr Butler said.

Cape Grim's readings are significant because they capture the most accurate reading of the atmospheric conditions in the southern hemisphere and have records going back 40 years.
With less land in the south, there is also a much smaller fluctuation according to the seasonal cycle than in northern hemisphere sites. That's because the north has more trees and other vegetation, which take up carbon from the atmosphere in the spring and give it back in the autumn.

So while 400 ppm has been temporarily exceeded at the other two main global stations since 2013 - in Hawaii and Alaska - they have dropped back below that level once spring has arrived because of that greater seasonal variation.

David Etheridge, a CSIRO principal research scientist, said atmospheric CO2 levels had fluctuated around 280 ppm until humans' burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests set in process rising levels of greenhouse gases almost without pause since about 1800.

"It's been upwards pretty much all of the time," Dr Etheridge told Fairfax Media. "This is a significant change, and it's the primary greenhouse gas which is leading to the warming of the atmosphere."


Sydney Muslim arrested over 'probably imminent' terrorist plot

An 18-year-old man has been arrested in north-western Sydney by federal and New South Wales police for allegedly planning an "imminent" terrorist act.

Tamim Khaja, of Macquarie Park in Sydney's north-west, was arrested in Parramatta about 10:00am by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, comprising of officers from the Australian Federal Police, the NSW Police, and other government agencies.

The ABC understands that he was a former student at Epping Boys High School and when he was in year 12 last year he was investigated by counter-terrorism police after allegedly preaching radical Islam at the school.

Authorities said the arrest was not related to raids earlier today at properties in Melbourne, which were part of an operation connected to the arrest of five Victorian men who allegedly planned to travel to Indonesia by boat.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said Khaja's arrest had prevented an attack, which was allegedly being planned and was described as "probably imminent".

Australian Federal Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan said police will allege Khaja was looking for "possible sites in Sydney to undertake a terrorist attack and was making arrangements to acquire a firearm".

Deputy Commissioner Burn said police would allege Khaja was also planning to leave the country to go to Syria to join Islamic State. "He does have associations with some of the people that have already been put before the courts," she said.

Deputy Commissioner Burn would not identify which people and how they were linked, but said Khaja was acting alone in this alleged plot. She said police monitoring of his activities culminated in his arrest.

Arrested man was known to police for about a year

Acting Deputy Commissioner Gaughan said Khaja was expected to be charged with planning a terrorism attack and preparing for foreign incursions.

He said both offences carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.  He is expected to face Parramatta Local Court on Wednesday.

"We have taken swift action to ensure the safety of the community and we are satisfied that any threat to the community posed by this individual has been mitigated," he said.

He said Khaja, who has been known to police for about a year, had attempted to leave the country to fight with terror organisations overseas in February, but was "unable to".

Acting Deputy Commissioner Gaughan said his passport was later cancelled.

He said police were currently in the charging process and allegations were yet to be taken to the court so he was not in a position to go into more detail, but said the arrest was another example of the disturbing trend of Australians allegedly subscribing to terrorist ideologies.

"Unfortunately what is concerning is that we are still seeing people who want to do an attack in our country.

"We are still seeing people planning and preparing for such attacks and unfortunately that group of people are getting younger and younger.

"As we all know, youth are vulnerable particularly around the radicalisation and we have a lot of things in place to try to deal with it but it is still of absolutely concern that we are still continuing to see it happen."

She said this was one of nine planned terror attacks the NSW Police Joint Counter Terrorism Taskforce had prevented as part of the ongoing Operation Appleby.


The Treasurer’s welcome attack on public service pension rorts

Sadly he received very little public credit, but in Scott Morrison’s 2016 budget, the Treasurer took the first steps to tackle what is undoubtedly the biggest long-term financial problem facing Australia — the unfunded public service pension scheme.

That scheme represents a budget black hole of between $400 billion and $600bn and it is expanding at a pace of around $6bn a year, fanned by expensive rorts that past treasurers have been too frightened to tackle.

Peter Costello set up a Future Fund during the mining boom in an attempt to cover the cost but he greatly underestimated the size of the black hole and its explosive rate of growth.

The Future Fund currently has about $120bn invested, which covers only about a quarter of the black hole.

Soon after Scott Morrison took office, I alerted the Treasurer to the problem and he acknowledge that alert on budget night.

Morrison now understands that whereas the public servants say the deficit in their defined benefit fund (including judges) is only $200bn, they use unrealistic calculations that do not take into account the interest rate fall and some of the rorts that the public servants have injected into the fund when Treasurers have been asleep or too weak.

The massive shortfall only involves public servants, including judges, who were hired prior to 2007. Those who were hired after 2007 receive an accumulation entitlement similar to the private sector and there is no shortfall. But those hired before 2007 have a lifetime indexed annuity plus entitlements.

The worst of these rorts is the entitlement awarded to retired public servants who have lost their spouse/partner. If they take on a new spouse/partner, then that person continues to receive the public service pension for life when the retired public servant dies. The new partner/spouse could be aged 30 and live to 100.

The private sector simply could not afford such a generous entitlement but nor can Australian taxpayers.

Scott Morrison has not tackled that rort and indeed has not reduced the basic indexed fund entitlement.

But what he has done is to superimpose the changes that he plans to make to private superannuation onto the public sector. He was helped by consultants from the private sector who understand the real cost of public service pensions.

One of the rorts that has been captured by applying the proposed private sector rules is the ability of employed public servants to receive their annual entitlement to the bonanza pension but to also sacrifice salary and invest in a conventional accumulation fund separate from the pension. It was blatant double dipping.

Under the Morrison proposal, from July 1, 2017, the government will estimate both a notional and actual superannuation contribution for members of the pre-2007 defined benefit funds.

Members of pre-2007 defined benefit schemes will still be permitted to make concessional (tax deductible) contributions to accumulation schemes, however, not only will the new $25,000 cap in the private sector be imposed but it will be reduced by the amount of the public servants ‘notional contributions’ to the defined benefit fund.

There are also new clamps to non-tax-deductible contributions to accumulation funds that equate to the $500,000 lifetime contribution clamp.

From July 1, 2017, members of defined benefit schemes and constitutionally protected funds will be subject to the $250,000 threshold for high-income contributions tax (subject to current constitutional exemptions).

To broadly replicate the effect of the proposed $1.6m cap, pension payments over $100,000 per annum paid to members of unfunded defined benefit, will continue to be taxed at full marginal rates, however the 10 per cent tax offset will be capped at $10,000 from July 1, 2017.

For members of funded defined benefit schemes, 50 per cent of pension amounts over $100,000 per annum will now be taxed at the individual’s marginal tax rate.

Double dipping in the accumulation funds will involve large figures but the other changes do not have a big financial impact because they are concentrated on higher earners.

At some point the next Treasurer, whether it be Scott Morrison or Chris Bowen, will have to face this gigantic national problem. Morrison has set the precedent.


The foolish tattoo fad

Everyone likes a good play on words and one of the best I've come across recently was on the side of a van parked outside my temporary home in Sydney: Renude.

Renude is an enterprise that offers to remove tattoos from those (increasingly many) who have so foolishly disfigured themselves.

I would buy shares in this noble enterprise if they were available for sale, and at the annual general meeting of shareholders I would suggest to its management that it sponsored independent research demonstrating that the possession of unwanted tattoos was a serious burden on the Australian economy and taxpayer. 

The research would show that such tattoos were the cause of anxiety and depression leading inevitably to time off work and loss of production. Furthermore, it would show that the tattooed are, by comparison with the untattooed, unemployed for longer. The costs in lost production, and in sickness and unemployment benefits, would be shown to be many millions (or, as we always put it these days, billions).

Removal of tattoos would save much of this money. It is easy to prove that a dollar's worth of tattoo-removal would save the taxpayer ten or twenty dollars in various benefits. Tattoo-removal would therefore be not a cost but an investment, one of the best that could be made.

Alas, many of the seriously-tattooed, having spent all their money on tattoos, cannot afford their removal as well. Why, in any case, should only the rich have their tattoos removed? There is only one solution, therefore: for the government to step in and pay for it out of general taxation. Compared with such proven extravagances as health and education, tattoo-removal is both cheap and effective. It would also improve slightly the aesthetic quality of daily life.


17 May, 2016

A defence of Waleed Aly

A Leftist lady, Karen Brooks, writes below that she finds Aly's Leftism perfectly acceptable, wise and honourable -- to paraphrase.  But she would, wouldn't she?  -- As Mandy Rice Davies once said. Her heading on her article below was "Dear Australia, why so angry?"  So it's possible that she really does want to know why many conservatives don't like Mr Aly. 

Does she like Tony Abbott or Donald Trump?  I'm guessing not.  I am also guessing that she has said harsh, intemperate and inflammatory things about both of those two interesting gentlemen.  But that's OK, of course.  Leftists are allowed to utter as much abuse as they like and that's fine and dandy.  Conservatives however have only one duty:  To shut up.  Is she surprised that they don't?  Apparently.  What's good for the goose is not good for the gander.  The expression "double standards" comes to mind, as it often does when reading Leftist writing.

But let me tell her why people outside the small circle of Leftist luvvies don't think much of Mr Aly  -- and certainly don't think he deserves any kind of Australian Award. 

It's because of the sneering contempt he has expressed about mainstream Australia.  He implies that we are immature, unthinking and reflexively racist -- with no substantial evidence at all and ignoring  much evidence to the contrary -- including the advantages that he himself has been given.  

So that's it, Ms Brooks:  Aly is an offensive false accuser and a person with a very flexible respect for the truth.  Is that a good enough reason to disapprove of him? If you want to read one of Mr Aly's contemptuous comments about Australians, together with a few observations about them, go here.  But you won't will you?

While the Logies is done and dusted for another year, the level of scorn and vitriol dumped on Gold Logie recipient Waleed Aly (co-host of Channel 10’s The Project, academic, award-winning journalist and musician), by various sections of the media and public, has not only been astounding, it deserves examination.   

What has this clever and clearly multi-talented man done to warrant such a smear campaign?

Less than 24 hours after the nominations for Gold Logie were announced back in April, derision was being heaped on Aly’s inclusion. Political correctness was touted; the show’s poor ratings; he’s too "divisive" wrote some. One anonymous person complained he didn’t use social media (no, just sets it alight). Another said he was a "Johnny-come-lately", despite having a 10-year career on TV and radio. Perhaps it was a case of Muslim-come-lately?

In a recent interview with The Australian, Aly raised the issue of his religion, noting that while the general populace don’t seem to care, journalists do. He suggested, "Journalists find it much more a point of interest because it’s not part of their world and the media is lacking in diversity."

Then, just as the fuss over his nomination was dying down, he did the unforgivable, and won.

According to one conservative columnist, the first, I think, to take aim, "it was fitting" that Aly won because he’s a "Social Justice Warrior who appeals most to Lefties with a first-year arts student view of the world".

Putting aside the fact caring about social justice is now also cast as something negative, the usual cluster of right-wing columnists (what is the collective noun for them, a cacophony?) then piled on to use Aly’s win as a political hammer upon which to beat their own dull and predictable agenda drum — insulting the "Left".

And boy, did they — along the way casting aspersions on Aly, his wife, their financial status, Twitter users, SBS, the Logie voting system, audiences, Noni Hazelhurst, ABC, the Archibald.

Blah lefty, blah left, blah leftist.

It seems that for some of these columnists, the most unforgivable thing Aly has done is give a broad voice and often considered and humanitarian platform to ideas that contest theirs — what they dismiss as Left-wing views. Some of Aly’s op-eds have been picked up on YouTube and gone viral: his discussion on terrorism and ISIS garnering 30 million-plus hits alone.

Refusing to be comfortably boxed, let alone shelved, Aly not only eschews the stereotypes many try to foist upon him (Muslim apologist, divisive etc), but also speaks out and, in doing so, pricks the social and cultural conscience.

It’s not comfortable being told in a measured manner that people with "unpronounceable names" are sometimes marginalised and forced to conform in order to get ahead. But it’s the truth. Anger and denial doesn’t change that.

Another social truth is what Aly humbly and with great compassion told when he received his Logie. Thanking his fellow nominees, he said each of them "brilliantly distils a piece of Australia... (if we) look back at all those pieces assembled, it’s a brilliant mosaic and we really should be celebrating that fact".

He joked often and was self-effacing. It was only in the final part of his speech that he referred to the undeniably white landscape of Australian TV. So white, "Mustafa" had to change his name to Tyler to be cast in an ethnic role. He dedicated his win to all the "Mustafas" and "Dimitris" and, basically, praised the night for perhaps enabling more and necessary change.

Less of an attack I haven’t seen or heard. Yet, to read his conservative detractors, you would swear Aly was an ungrateful mongrel who savaged everyone.

Perhaps Aly’s greatest offence is that rather than telling us what to think, he encourages us to think for ourselves.

But instead of congratulating the man many think a worthy winner, outrage and racism dressed as virtue and patriotism followed, accompanied by shrill claims of how multicultural and tolerant we are.

Give me Aly and his voice of reason and "accessible sound bites" over all the hate, judgment, green-eyed monstering and non-casual racism any day.


Left dominated arts council cuts funding to conservative magazine

The Conservative magazine Quadrant has called the loss of its Australia Council funding an "act of revenge" from an arts bureaucracy controlled by the left.

"The Australia Council’s decision to end our funding is plainly an act of revenge by its bureaucrats and advisers," editor-in-chief Keith Windschuttle wrote in an editorial.

"It is designed to punish us for being on the same side of the political fence as the Abbott government’s Minister for the Arts, George Brandis, who himself was responding to an act of arts-funding bastardry by Julia Gillard.

"Throughout the 11 years of the Howard government, its appointees to the Council never reduced the funding of any of the overtly left-wing literary magazines."

Windschuttle, a conservative historian, said the Australia Council had made a "political decision" not to award a $60,000 grant to Quadrant because it wanted to "devalue our reputation and demonstrate that the Left remains in control of the arts".

Last week it was revealed that another literary magazine, Meanjin, might be forced to shut down after its funding was also cut by the council.

Windschuttle acknowledged that Meanjin had also lost its funding but blamed its problems on a "succession of editors" and berated the council for funding rival literary magazines the Australian Book Review, the Griffith Review and Overland.

"They are little more than production lines for the Left’s limitless appetite for identity group politics of gender, race and sexual preference, and its support for any national culture, no matter how violent or barbaric, except our own," Windschuttle wrote.

"In contrast, since its founding in 1956, Quadrant has consistently defended high culture, freedom of speech, liberal democracy and the Western Judeo-Christian tradition.

"Although the Australia Council itself suffered a loss of government funds in 2015, the Quadrant decision was not taken because of a lack of money for literature. Indeed, while abolishing our grant, the council increased its funding to other literary magazines, all of them left-wing.

Windschuttle claimed only Quadrant was serious about publishing literature, and poetry in particular, and had more subscribers than any other literary magazine.

"Quadrant is also the most prolific publisher of poetry in Australia, in either magazine or book format, with up to 300 poems published per year for the past decade.

"Our Literary Editor, Les Murray, has worked on every edition since 1990, that is, for 256 of the magazine’s 518 editions. He is not only widely recognized as Australia’s greatest living poet but also Australia’s foremost poetry anthologist."

A spokeswoman for the Australia Council said Meanjin, which was considered a leftwing journal, was also unsuccessful in receiving four-year funding.

"All out arts grants are assessed by a panel of artistic peers and it’s a competitive process. We can’t fund everyone," she said.

The Australia Council gave $112m to 128 small to medium arts organisations in this funding round, announced on Friday.


Did two Leftist newspapers defame conservative fundraiser?

A lawyer for Liberal Party fundraiser Nick Di Girolamo has told the Supreme Court in Sydney his client's reputation has been "absolutely destroyed" by Fairfax Media articles.

Mr Di Girolamo - who gave Barry O'Farrell the $3,000 bottle of wine that led to the former premier's dramatic resignation - is suing Fairfax Media over six articles that were published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2012 and 2013.

Some of the articles were published under the headline "A Herald Investigation", and they explored the connections between Mr Di Girolamo and former NSW minister Eddie Obeid, as well as other members of the Obeid family.

They also look at Mr Di Girolamo's former role as a director at Australian Water Holdings, the private water company at the centre of an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

The ICAC is yet to hand down its findings on that matter.

The barrister representing Mr Di Girolamo, Bruce McClintock SC, told the four-person jury the articles, written by Kate McClymont, Sean Nicholls and Linton Besser, "absolutely destroyed" his client's reputation.

Besser is now a reporter for the ABC's Four Corners program.

"In this case the allegations made by Fairfax against my client are right up there at the top of the scale," he said.

"They are allegations of corruption and in effect bribery of a cabinet minister - we're talking about something very serious.

"They accuse my client of corruption; that allegation is completely false."

Mr McClintock told the court Fairfax Media had conducted a smear campaign against Mr Di Girolamo.

"[This case is] about dishonest journalists who lied to my client and set out to trick him," Mr McClintock said.
Di Girolamo's name 'tarnished through association to Obeid'

In his opening address to the hearing, the barrister said the articles in question tarred his client's name through association with Mr Obeid.

"The name Obeid in the eyes of the Sydney Morning Herald has become synonymous with corruption - I'm not saying that's accurate," Mr McClintock said.

"The mention of his name carries a flavour of corruption, but this case is not about him."

Mr McClintock went on to explain to the jury that while the ICAC made findings of corruption against Mr Obeid, he had not been convicted.

The barrister also told the jury about Mr Di Girolamo's connection to Mr Obeid's son, Eddie Obeid junior.

"Another person who worked at Australian Water Holdings was Eddie Obeid junior," Mr McClintock said.

"There was no secret about Eddie Obeid junior working for Australian Water Holdings... The connection between my client and Eddie Obeid junior is that they went to school together years before."

Tom Blackburn, the lawyer representing Fairfax Media, is yet to address the hearing.

The case is set down for a month, and Mr Di Girolamo is sitting in the courtroom for the hearing, along with the three journalists who will take the witness stand to give evidence at a later stage.


Leftist Victorian govt to preach homosexuality in Schools

If you are concerned about children being given instruction on "penis tucking" & "chest binding" you are a "bigot".

Victoria won't take advice from bigots about changing the Safe Schools anti-bullying program so it no longer includes controversial information on gender and sexuality issues, the premier says.

The Victorian education department on Sunday launched a web page containing the original material used to teach students about sexual diversity that has been removed from the federal government's amended version.

Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the move while taking aim at the Commonwealth.

"I get my advice on policy from experts, not from bigots, not from people who really ought to be ashamed of themselves in terms of their views and their tampering with a program that actually works," he told reporters on Sunday.

The premier in March vowed to keep Safe Schools running in Victoria, saying it would have a place in the state's secondary schools "long after Cory Bernardi and the rest of his dinosaurs eventually disappear".

Mr Andrews says the prime minister has failed to show leadership on the issue.

"The journey that the prime minister has been on - you know, talk a good game, pretend that you're a progressive and then either do nothing, or do nothing good - that is not national leadership Mr Turnbull," he said.

The state government says it won't tell teachers what to do but is there to provide them with the resources they need to help students.


There's real choice in this election

More or less government?

In recent elections, opposition and government candidates alike tried to make themselves as small a target as possible in the hope of avoiding alienating anyone. But in this election campaign there are already fundamental differences between the policies of the major parties.

The central divergence, and a key battleground on which this election will be fought, is simple: how can we kickstart the Australian economy and generate much needed employment growth?

The Coalition laid out its position in the budget: jobs and growth come from cutting Australia’s uncompetitive corporate tax rate, through lowering the burden of income tax on the top two income tax brackets, and by reducing the dead-weight of government stifling business.

The government has signed a number of free trade agreements. It has ended industry assistance for the inefficient automotive manufacturing industry. It has undertaken de-regulation, albeit not always with complete success.

While at times they have backslid over industry assistance and foreign investment — notably in the defence and agricultural industries — there has been a relatively coherent narrative on the Coalition side for the past three years that the private sector is responsible for generating jobs and growth.

Most of Turnbull’s recent rhetoric, including his initial campaign speeches, has focused on private sector innovation and growth and the need for competitiveness on company tax to attract investment. It is easy to see the Liberal party going further and campaigning on the basis of supply-side, free-market economics.

On Sunday, Labor’s shadow parliamentary secretary Terri Butler made it clear that Labor views the path to growth and jobs fundamentally differently. Indeed, Bill Shorten rubbished Turnbull’s approach as ‘trickle-down economics’ — although this position is at odds with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen’s statements just last year, who accepted that the burden of company tax fell hardest on workers and said that ‘the nation should be aiming for a 25 per cent corporate tax rate’.

Instead, Labor argues that the best way to generate growth is through more government outlays on education and training. This is combined with a program of significant infrastructure investment and industry assistance, particularly in manufacturing and the clean energy sectors, with union concerns driving additional compliance obligations and spending on oversight.

Labor does not see government as an unnecessary impediment to private sector growth but a check on its growing excesses. They have committed to a royal commission into the banking sector, will not pass on tax cuts for multinationals and aim to introduce additional regulation for the sharing economy, particularly around wages and conditions.

This goes far beyond an agenda for redistribution of the fruits of growth from the rich to the poor. Labor is proposing tens of billions of dollars of additional spending and will go to the people arguing that government must play a much more active role in the economy to generate growth. This is not a mere cosmetic difference between the parties.

In the wake of the Global Financial Crisis and the increased focus on inequality, the left globally has shifted towards policies that involve much greater government intervention in the economy.

The current Labor agenda is undoubtedly Keynesian and is probably closer to the platforms supported by British Labour and Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders in the United States, than the deregulation and tax relief platform of Hawke and Keating or Tony Blair’s New Labour.

There is a risk this debate will be cast nonsensically as the old dispute between socialists and capitalists. Labor is not proposing nationalising the banks, nor is the Coalition scrapping public health care. However, there has been a notable gulf growing between the left and right on the role of government in the economy.

Nothing in politics is clean-cut and both sides of this debate still face serious questions. Too often on the right, the interests of specific businesses has been conflated with the economic interest of the country, leading to the growth of crony capitalism. For the left, the economic position of Europe stands as a troubling example of the end point of tax and spend policies.

Yet, as Malcolm Turnbull says, the voters will have to make a choice as to who they trust to transition the economy after the end of the mining boom. And this is not just a choice between Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull or Labor and Liberal; it is also a choice between government and private enterprise.


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 May, 2016

ACER sees big problems with Australian schools

Comparing Australians with East Asian students is absurd.  East Asians have a known IQ advantage, which is particularly strong in mathematics.  Comparisons with other Caucasian populations alone make sense.  And on the 2013 PISA figures for reading ability (the most recent I could find), Australia in fact scored above most European countries. 

And the idea of raising standards for teachers is also absurd. In Australia's discipline-deprived schools few people with any  alternative would take up teaching.  Teaching is now for dummies.  Raising standards would just lead to a teacher shortage. 

Australian schools are in deep trouble and students will continue to slip behind in reading, maths and science unless there is urgent action from all governments, a new report has warned.

It's a grim picture of the country's education system, where high school students lag behind global standards, there is growing inequity and teaching has become an increasingly unattractive career.

Australia was "drifting backwards", said the author of the report Geoff Masters, chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research.

"We ignore these warning signs at our peril ... Unless we can arrest and reverse those trends we will continue to see a decline in the quality and equity of schooling in this country," he said.

The decline in the maths skills of students was particularly alarming, Professor Masters said.

Australia's results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – an international survey that pits the world's education systems against each other – has steadily declined over the past decade.

The top 10 per cent of Australian 15-year-olds now perform at about the same level in maths as the top 40 to 50 per cent of students in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

It coincides with a declining proportion of year 12 students taking up advanced maths and science subjects.

"It means we won't have the supply of people who are highly trained in mathematics and science that we are likely to need in the future," Professor Masters said. 

The report comes at a critical time, with education shaping up as a key election issue. The federal government has promised an extra $1.2 billion for schools and Labor has pledged $4.5 billion.

But the report, which was released on Thursday,  found that increased spending on education had not led to better outcomes. It said funding needed to target "evidence-based strategies".

"A decline in outcomes has often occurred in parallel with increased spending," Professor Masters said.

"Money alone is not the answer, but to turn around current trends we may need more money."

It also raised concerns about the drop in ATARs required for teaching courses.

In 2015, just 42 per cent of Australian students embarking on a teaching course had an ATAR above 70.

It recommended that teaching courses become highly selective, and make the bulk of their offers to students with ATARs above 70.

"The world's highest-performing nations in international achievement studies consistently attract more able people into teaching, resulting in better student outcomes," the report said.

"In some of the world's highest-performing countries, entry to teaching is now as competitive as entry to courses such as engineering, science, law and medicine."

In Victoria, the government is considering a similar model to New South Wales where future teachers are sourced from the top 30 per cent of school leavers.

Professor Masters said federal and state governments needed to agree to a national action plan to halt these "worrying trends".

He also took aim at "passive, reproductive learning" in schools which did not promote creativity.

Federal education minister Simon Birmingham said the report supported the Coalition's approach.

"The Turnbull government's back to basics Student Achievement Plan focuses on what ACER has called for, the better use of resources to target evidence-based initiatives," he said.

"Our once-in-a-generation plan to lift school student achievement provides more money than ever before for Australian schools but most importantly it focuses on measures that improve student results through clear and targeted action."

Victorian government spokesman David McNamara said many government initiatives were addressing concerns raised in this report - including the new Victorian Curriculum which teaches coding.

"The government knows that great teaching is the single most important factor for schools in improving student outcomes. It is always considering ways to ensure we attract and recruit the best teachers, including from among high achieving VCE students."


Seafarers 'devastated' by influx of foreign workers in maritime industry

No mention below of a major reason for the influx.  Australian seamen are very bolshy and often defiant of their employers.  Nobody who could avoid it would hire them.  They have destroyed their own jobs by their union militancy.  Their union, the MUA, is in the process of amalgamating with the CFMEU, Australia's most lawless union

Hundreds of overseas contractors are currently working on the Australian coast despite close to 1,000 local maritime workers looking for jobs — about one sixth of the entire workforce.

"Families are devastated," said Thomas Mayor, secretary of the NT branch of the Maritime Union.

The lack of jobs has been blamed on falling commodity prices and a decline in manufacturing, but unions have said that is only half the story.

"[Jobs] aren't drying up because there's no work, but drying up because the Government is allowing $2 an hour exploited labour to replace them on the coast," Mr Mayor said.

"The industry at the moment is going through a very, very tough time, there's no question about that," said the chief executive of Maritime Industry Australia, Teresa Lloyd.

Maritime unions have been running a campaign against the laws that allow so-called $2-per-hour workers.

Under the national shipping regime, foreign vessels can obtain temporary licences to operate in Australian waters without needing to pay their workers Australian wages.

The temporary licences are meant to apply for two trips only, but industry insiders say companies are easily able to obtain 'rolling' licences.

"Seafaring jobs are just the same as carrying cargo on a truck from Darwin to Adelaide — on a truck you expect Australian wages, Australian safety conditions, Australian work conditions," Mr Mayor said.

The job hunters include Darwin's Myra Leong, who is part-way through her training to become an integrated rating, but cannot find anyone to take her on.

The 23-year-old worked as a deckhand before undertaking further training at the Australian Maritime College last year in Launceston, where she was the only woman in her class.

Her timing could hardly have been worse, with shipping going through one of its worst downturns in half a century.

'The only way to stay competitive'

Some in the industry have said the use of cheap foreign labour is often the only way the Australian industry can remain competitive.

"At the end of the day, it's cost," said the chairman of Shipping Australia, Ken Fitzpatrick.

"In some cases that's been absolutely the only way they can survive without having to resort to importing from overseas."

Shipping Australia represents both local and overseas companies and has been pushing for further deregulation in the industry.

That position is opposed by another lobby group, Maritime Industry Australia (MIA), which speaks exclusively on behalf of local businesses.

MIA chief executive Teresa Lloyd said the maritime sector is treated differently to other industries when it comes to protecting local workers.

"It's one area of the Australian economy where for whatever reason, the idea that that particular activity needs to be done by Australians isn't supported the same way it is in almost every other aspect of the domestic economy," she said.

But Ms Lloyd said it may be too late for change and it had been a long time since job protection existed in the maritime industry.

Last year, the Federal Government failed to pass its Shipping Legislation Amendment Act which would have made it easier for foreign ships to operate in Australian waters, but Transport Minister Darren Chester said if re-elected the changes will be back on the agenda.

Labor and the Greens opposed the legislation, dubbing it "WorkChoices on water".

Calls to overhaul 457 visa program

The Government is also facing calls to overhaul its 457 visa program, which enables skilled workers to be employed in Australia for up to four years.

High-level maritime jobs like ships masters and ships engineers are currently listed on the Government's skilled shortage list, meaning foreign workers can be hired under the 457 system.

According to the most recent figures from the Department of Immigration, there are 303 foreign workers employed in the maritime industry under the 457 program — that is despite hundreds of similarly qualified Australians looking for work.

The 457 program is designed to give employers more flexibility in accessing skilled labour when demand is particularly high.

MIA has said the inclusion of seafaring jobs on the skilled shortage list made sense during the commodities boom, but not today when a large number of people in the sector were unemployed.

The 457 system requires employers to try the local job market before hiring overseas workers, but law lecturer at the University of Adelaide Dr Joanna Howe said it is poorly policed.

"There is currently no proper mechanism, no robust mechanism for identifying a skill shortage and for ensuring that where a foreign worker is coming in, they're not taking a job away from a local worker," Dr Joanna Howe said.

The Federal Opposition has called for a review of the skilled shortage list, while the Government has said it is awaiting further advice from the Department of Education and Training.


Is Australia among the lowest-taxing countries in the OECD?

Voters will hear plenty of seemingly contradictory claims on tax in the lead up to the federal election. Is Australia a high taxing country or was ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie right to say that Australia is one of the lowest-taxing countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development?

The most recent OECD data for Australia, for the year 2013, lists Australia as having a tax to GDP ratio of 27.5%. This is the sixth lowest in the OECD after Mexico, Chile, Korea, United States and Switzerland.

This ratio is based on tax as a proportion of GDP.
Australia is above average for some taxes; below average for others

The data above shows us Australia’s total tax revenue as a proportion of GDP. However, within Australia’s tax mix are a range of taxes, including corporate tax, personal income tax, GST and many more.

A closer look at the breakdown reveals that Australia is above the OECD average for some tax categories, such as corporate tax.

Australia also has relatively high collections from income tax, and lower levels of consumption taxes than the average in the OECD.


Global sea-level expert John Church made to walk the plank by CSIRO

Warmist John Church is most unchurchly.  His claims have little to do with reality. See  here and here.  He deserves the boot

For John Church, a leading authority on sea-level rise caused by global warming, there was much that was fitting – and yet callous – about being sacked at sea.

The veteran scientist was well into one of dozens of research voyages he had taken since joining CSIRO as a post doctoral student in 1979.

His vessel, the RV Investigator, was midway between Antarctica and New Zealand and steaming north on the 170 degree longitude when he received Thursday's call to tell him he was "potentially redundant".

Sitting with a supporter in the ship's conference room, Dr Church was told his services were no longer needed. "I was OK during the call but it is certainly not a nice feeling to have what you have worked for - for so many years - thrown on the scrapheap," the 64 year-old told Fairfax Media after finishing a 12-hour stint on watch.

Dr Church's achievements include developing sophisticated models linking sparse tidal gauge information around the world with satellite data to reveal how much sea levels are rising.

The current mission is retracing previous journeys along the 170 W longitude line to measure precisely how key parameters such as temperature, salinity and acidity are changing.

As Dr Church notes, including in a Nature paper published last month, sea-level increases are accelerating as a warming planet melts glaciers and swells oceans.

From increases of a few tenths of a millimetre annually in the 1000 years before about 1850, the rate jumped 1.7 mm on average in the 20th century. Since 1993, the rise has quickened to about 3 mm a year, he says.

Despite this trend, CSIRO will slash about half the climate staff – about 70 scientists - in its Oceans & Atmosphere division. New hires will be made in climate adaptation and mitigation, the agency promises but numbers cited so far are much smaller.

As with other CSIRO staff, Dr Church will get a chance to save his job. The sole scientist on board to be told of a pending redundancy, he was granted until June 16 – or three weeks after the voyage ends in Wellington, New Zealand – to argue his case.


More police arrogance: Woman free after videotaped Sydney arrest

A woman whose videotaped arrest went viral on social media has had charges of assaulting and resisting a NSW police officer dismissed.

The footage appears to show Claire Helen being hit with a baton and kicked in the head by officers during the incident at Kings Cross, in December 2014.

Police had alleged the woman struck a female officer during an attempt at restraint.

But Magistrate Graeme Curran found the woman's original arrest was unlawful and dismissed her charges on the basis the alleged offences occurred as a result of that custody.

"It's been a long time coming, so it's a really nice relief," she said outside court. "I didn't strike anybody."

The magistrate found it "must" have been Ms Helen who struck the officer but said the prosecution had not been able to prove the police were in proper execution of their duties when the act occurred.

He read evidence from witnesses who described a "rigorous" struggle between Ms Helen and police.

The court heard officers had become involved after a taxi driver accused one of Ms Helen's friends of assaulting a police officer and she was asked for ID on the basis she may be a suspect.

But her trial heard the taxi driver had made it clear his alleged attacker was a man.

"I don't have to give you anything," Ms Helen allegedly said to an officer.  "You're a f****** dog."

Magistrate Curran also dismissed charges against Ms Helen's friend Kevin Rolle who was accused of hindering police and escaping lawful custody.

He also dismissed one charge against the man accused of assaulting the taxi driver.

"It's taken 18 months ... she's been vindicated by the magistrate," Ms Helen's lawyer Bryan Wrench said outside court.  "The police were not entitled to do what they did."

Ms Helen had also been facing a charge for failing to describe her identity, which was also dropped.


15 May, 2016

Australia used to be a nation that made stuff. Lots of stuff. That’s changing

Transitioning from farming and manufacturing are marks of transition to a mature economy

AUSTRALIA, say goodbye to being a country that makes things.  Our houses are already full of stuff and we don’t want more. The few things we do want are made cheaply in China.

Making things is officially over. We are now a country whose economy is about doing things and helping people.

Kevin Rudd famously said he wants to live in a country that makes things. If that is true might I suggest he would be happiest living in China? The average wage and GDP per person there are a tiny fraction of ours, but manufacturing is almost a third of the economy.

Australia has a similar share of manufacturing in its economy to Luxembourg and Norway. Meanwhile the three countries that rely most on manufacturing are Puerto Rico, Swaziland and Korea — we are better off than all of them.

Yes, the manufacturing industries of the 1950s and 1960s were great employers of the middle class. But they are never coming back. The world economy is different now. Any residual love for making things belongs to an age where China was a communist backwater. The jobs of the future are in helping and doing, not in making.

Services are likely to be insulated from automation for longer. Of course, some kinds of services can be done by robots — think about self check-outs — but we still prefer them done by people. In manufacturing you wouldn’t even know if a person was involved in making your item.

The future of manufacturing is a hot issue this election campaign because Australia’s car industry is closing down. People are losing their minds over the idea that the next generation might have to work in services instead.

There is nothing special about manufacturing. So why does services have such a bad rap?

People talk about Australia becoming "a nation of burger-flippers" But they are just cherrypicking the lowest status service job. A nation of engineers and scientists doesn’t sound nearly so bad.

Is it really worse to be a helper than a maker? There is no shame in working in services. Heroes come from Australia’s service industry and they always have, throughout history.

Take the Man from Snowy River, who bravely rides his horse through the bush after an escaped colt. The owners of the colt that got away could have simply bought another one; the Man from Snowy River could have stayed at work, perhaps in a cobblers shop making boots. But that wouldn’t be much of a story.

Services are at the heart of our nation, whether it is a fictional story, or a true one. Like the tale of a doctor named Flynn flying round the outback saving lives. His legacy is the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Services is where we find the people who help: firemen, nurses, doctors, cleaners, truck drivers and teachers. It’s also where we find the people who make a lot of money, like lawyers and financiers. These are all good jobs.

And these days we can more easily base a whole economy on services, because we can provide them across the seas.

In the last few years, services exports have really taken off. A lot of this is tourism, and a lot is education. But we can also sell financial services and business services worldwide now, because of the internet.

The glory days of the manufacturing industry is over, and while old people will still remember them fondly, you can’t go back in time.

We’re now a nation of doers and helpers. That is something we should be proud of.


South Australia is now coal-free -- so it imports coal-powered electricity from a neighboring state

Empty Greenie boasting

South Australia’s last coal-fired power station closed on Monday this week, leaving the state with only gas and wind power generators.

The Northern Power Station, in Port Augusta on the northern end of the Spencer Gulf, has joined Playford B – the state’s other coal-fired power station which has already been retired.

The coal mine at Leigh Creek that supplied brown coal to the power stations also closed earlier this year, so there is no easy option for re-opening the power stations.

The immediate impact of the closure was a brief wobble in wholesale electricity prices, with more energy brought in from Victoria’s brown coal power stations (adding to carbon emissions).

But how could it affect the state in the long term?
Could South Australia run out of power?

Average electricity demand in South Australia is 1.4 gigawatts, and the state record for peak demand of 3.4 gigawatts was set in January 2011. In the past two years the highest demand was 2.9 gigawatts.

Rollout of rooftop solar panels is one of the reasons demand from the grid has been going down. The impact on the peak demand – the time of day when most people are using appliances – is less clear, because if the peak occurs after sunset, solar panels will not reduce it.

With the closure of the 520 megawatt Northern Power Station, South Australia is left with 2,800 MW of capacity in its gas-fired generators, which can be fired up when needed, and 1,500 MW of wind farms, which of course produce energy only when the wind blows. Most gas generation capacity comes from the Torrens Island A (480 MW) and B (800 MW) installations, built in the 1960s and 1970s, respectively.

There have been discussions about retiring Torrens Island A (it was mothballed for a period in 2014), but the departure of Northern appears to have delayed those plans.

The state also has a total of about 600 MW of rooftop solar, but, as noted above, this technically counts as reducing demand rather than adding to supply.

South Australia is also connected to Victoria via two transmission lines, one at Heywood (recently upgraded to 650 MW) and one at Murray Link (220 MW). This gives the state access to a potential 870 MW of Victorian power.

If South Australia gets close to record demand, the state clearly outstrips the capacity of the local gas generators. If the wind isn’t blowing, then the state will depend on the interconnectors.

But there is an unfortunate factor that transmission lines tend to fail under very high temperatures, which correspond to the times of highest demand.

It may sound unlikely, but South Australia is at risk of failing to meet demand.


Company taxes do harm wages
Michael Potter

Where is the evidence of the benefits of a company tax cut for workers? Clearly non-existent, according to some commentators , with one even arguing there was NO evidence from ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD that company tax cuts help wages [commentator's emphasis, not mine].

But it is incredibly easy to find this evidence -- even studies showing that workers bear a greater burden of company tax than shareholders. Here is a sample.

One 2012 study found that about half of the burden of European company taxes was borne by workers. A 2013 paper found every €1 increase in German company tax yields a €0.77 decline in wages, while other German studies found workers bear 40% of the burden and another 28 to 46%. The UK Treasury in 2013 estimated that 40% of the benefit of a company tax cut was provided to workers.

A 2013 paper argued that every $1 increase in US company tax leads to a $0.60 decline in wages.  A 2009 paper found that wages bore 52% of the burden of US State company taxes in the most recent years studied (1992 to 2005), while another 2009 study found that the burden was 54% for unionised workers. A 2014 study found workers bore 30-35% of the burden of US company tax, while the US Congressional Budget Office in 2010 suggested about 40% of the burden in the US is borne by workers.

Note that the estimates from larger economies such as the US and Germany would underestimate the burden on Australian workers. This is broadly because Australia is more dependent on foreign investment which is more sensitive to tax rates.

And all this evidence is in addition to the many Australian experts (including numerous Treasury officials) arguing that company taxes harm workers generally more than the adverse effect on shareholders.

So perhaps those commentators claiming company tax has no impact on wages need to learn how to use internet search engines.


Negative gearing debate off track

The Reserve Bank is a cautious organisation and averse to fuelling speculation. So it is ironic that they have unintentionally ramped up speculation about negative gearing after releasing — under FOI laws — a 2014 internal memo mentioning that winding back negative gearing "may be a good thing" for financial stability.

However, the negative gearing abolitionists now trumpeting that the RBA is supporting a change would do well to look at it more closely.

The (heavily redacted) internal briefing note does not indicate the impact of a change on the tax system, the housing market or the overall economy. So we should view it narrowly — restricting negative gearing might make the financial system more stable; but at what cost to the rest of the economy? And the issue of stability is already being addressed with a recent tightening of prudential requirements for investor loans.

This leaves only the RBA’s stated downsides of changes to negative gearing: fire sales of negatively geared properties (which the ALP tries to address with grandfathering) and — more importantly for low income earners — the increases in rents. Clearly if rents are hiked, this will hit low income households harder, as they spend proportionally more on rent.

A range of other impacts are not addressed in the RBA memo: the most obvious being the impact on house prices and affordability. However, we can’t be confident that the ALP’s policy will result in a moderation of house prices, surely a goal of a policy to improve housing affordability.

For example, increased rents may encourage some renters to buy properties, increasing prices; similarly the ALP’s policy restricting negative gearing to new properties may increase the price of new dwellings. It isn’t clear that these prices increases will be offset by any reduction in the price of old properties.

The impact on investors is also important. The facile debate so far has been driven by the abolitionists carping about which income groups get the greatest share of the total benefits from gearing. But these discussions are a furphy. Almost all tax provisions provide a greater dollar benefit to the rich, including the GST exemptions for food, education and health.

The GST exemption for food provides a benefit to the top 10% of $631 per year and a benefit to the poorest 10% of $365. Yet no one is using this data to argue for the abolition of the GST exemption for food, because measuring dollar benefits to different income groups is the wrong approach.

Instead it is better to measure the benefits as a proportion of income: which is the way many other organisations (including our Parliamentary Budget Office and the US Congressional Budget Office) analyse the benefit of tax provisions. On this basis, the proportional benefits of the GST exemption are greater for low income groups, as we all expect.

Applying this same approach to negative gearing, we find that the largest percentage benefits of negative gearing actually go to the lowest decile of income earners in the tax system. This result can’t be dismissed as being tax avoidance by high income households: if a low income spouse is negatively gearing, then the household is actually paying more tax than if the higher income partner negatively geared.

Based on this data, the removal of negative gearing may hit lower income earners harder: renting is concentrated at lower income levels, as well as negative gearing itself. But these distributional issues should not be determinative. If the focus is always on distributional effects we wouldn’t ever make any policy changes if anyone rich — or foreign — benefited, regardless of the broader economic benefits. For example, the Treasury argues that company tax cuts will increase wages, employment, investment and GDP, but a central argument used against these cuts are that they benefit foreign investors.

So if decisions about negative gearing should not hinge on financial stability and distributional impacts, what should the emphasis be on? A greater focus should be on how a change would affect the tax system; and on this basis, caution should abound.

Playing with negative gearing would (further) interfere with a fundamental part of the tax system: costs should be deductible against income. There are already some tweaks to this rule; and the more tweaks that are made, the more complex the system will become and the greater the incentives for tax avoidance.

But more importantly, the tax system will become further biased against risk taking. If you can’t deduct losses, then the incentives to invest in riskier assets and enterprises will be reduced — a poor result for what should be an innovative economy.

Negatively gearing is closely tied to capital gains tax (CGT), a point noted in the RBA memo. Negative gearing has always been around, but greatly increased after the 1999 changes to CGT. So instead of playing with the fundamental principle of deductibility of losses, a better option would be to return to the CGT system before 1999 (which involved indexation and an averaging provision that avoided overtaxation of one-off large capital gains), with an additional discount.

This discount should be set so that the tax burden on capital remains lower than the burden on other income, in alignment with the views of many tax experts.

This would be a much better approach than the proposals to slash the CGT discount and not reintroduce indexation, which will result in most capital gains being slapped with a higher tax rate than other income  — the opposite of the tax rate that should apply to capital.

It is unfortunate that the negative gearing debate has gone far off this track. There have been proposals for a supertax being applied to capital, when most experts agree this tax rate should be lower. We are debating the impact on financial stability, when this issue has already been largely addressed. We are using the wrong measures of distributional impact, and we are basing policy discussions over who wins and loses rather than the overall economic impact. Policy discussion deserves better.


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 May, 2016

Another Leftist fraud

Geelong truckie Duncan Storrar has been hailed Australia's "new national hero" for his appearance on Q&A, but to his son he is a deadbeat fraudster undeserving of sympathy.

Aztec Major, 20, says he is in disbelief his estranged father has received more than $50,000 in donations after claiming on the ABC panel program he was a low-income earner who deserved a tax cut "to take his kids to the pictures".

"He doesn’t deserve it … It's ridiculous," Mr Major told The Australian.  "He’s used drugs. He’s not the person he’s making himself out to be."

Mr Major, who works as an apprentice spray painter in Geelong, says he lived with his father until he was four-years-old. When he turned nine his mother Susan passed away from breast cancer, after which he lived with his grandparents.

He tried to reconnect with Mr Storrar when he was 17, only to realise he "was the kind of person I don't want to be".  "I came to the conclusion the best solution was to cut all the crap out of my life. I had to cut him out," he said.

Tamika Drew, the daughter of Mr Storrar's ex-partner, Cindy-Lee, agrees.  "I saw things as a kid living with him from when I was seven that I shouldn’t have to see," she said.

Mr Storrar has drawn widespread sympathy after asking Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer why workers earning $80,000 deserved a tax cut in this year's budget.

The 45-year-old, who has two daughters aged eight and six and lives in public housing, said the change was unfair.

"If you lift my tax-free threshold, that changes my life. That means that I get to say to my little girls, 'Daddy's not broke this weekend, we can go to the pictures'," he told the panel.  "Rich people don't even notice their tax-free threshold lift. Why don't I get it? Why do they get it?"

Social media users soon sprang into action, tweeting #DuncanforPM and #IstandwithDuncan.

Mr Storrar later admitted he never pays tax, as he earns below the threshold and collects Austudy payments.

A GoFundMe page dedicated to Mr Storrar has raised $54,000.

Mr Major says he would rather see the money given to more worthy causes.  "I don’t need it. I’m working now. The Cancer Council would be my suggestion," he said.


Waleed Aly’s complaint at Logies about TV racism erases the true trailblazers

WAS there anything more ludicrous than seeing Waleed Aly complaining last weekend about racism even after he was given the Gold Logie for Best Personality on TV?

Was there anything sillier than seeing Noni Hazelhurst likewise complaining last weekend about women not getting a fair go at the very moment that she was inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame?

Please, children are watching. Wouldn’t a "thank you" rather than a "stuff you" not have set a better example?

And wouldn’t a tribute to Australia have been more appropriate than all this childish displaying of wounds that seem to be not even the barest of scratches?

Instead, we were treated to something Kafkaesque on Logies night, where tales were told of Australia’s allegedly inherent racism and sexism at an event that at every turn contradicted that fashionable smear, so wildly applauded by the audience.

Take Aly’s acceptance speech. By any measure, Aly has succeeded so completely in this country that he is a walking contradiction of claims that Muslims or people from Middle Eastern families are invariably the oppressed.

Instead, our institutions have rushed to embrace and sanctify this man who seemed the moderate and unthreatening Muslim of their dreams — a man who allowed them to prove their own broad-mindedness at minimal risk and to ignore the explosions, gunfire and screams of "Allahu akbar" on the TV news.

A grateful Labor government appointed Aly to the board of the Australia Council. The ABC, committed to every kind of diversity except diversity of thought, signed up this preacher of Leftist pieties and Islamic apologetics as an on-air presenter. An eager Monash University made him a lecturer at its Global Terrorism Research Centre, even though he had not even completed a PhD.

Gold Logie award winner Waleed Aly has complained about racism.
The Age made him a columnist, Channel 10 made him a host of The Project and the Australian government sent him on a tour of the Middle East.

The journalist union’s Walkley Awards even handed him a prize for his columns and a portrait of Aly as a kind of Christ, blood dripping from his noble head, was a finalist for the Archibald Prize for portraiture.

No one can have been showered with so much by so many so soon — and so clearly while being so different.

Yet Aly in his speech still wouldn’t take yes, yes, yes for an answer. He instead attacked the TV industry for not being welcoming enough to Muslims, ethnics and people with funny names. You know, to people just like Waleed Aly.

"If tonight means anything, it’s that the Australian public, our audience — as far as they are concerned there is absolutely no reason why that can’t change," he said, clutching his Logie.

And then he told the most astonishingly far-fetched tale of oppression, announcing that ethnic actors had seen in him their representative, even their hero, and had urged him to win the Logie for them.

"Someone who is in this room — and I’m not going to use the name they use in the industry — came up to me, introduced themselves and said to me, ‘I really hope you win. My name is Mustafa. But I can’t use that name because I won’t get a job’."

How sad. But how suss. It soon turned out that this actor too scared to reveal his Middle Eastern first name was Tyler De Nawi, who still kept and traded under his Middle Eastern surname without any trouble.

Even stranger, De Nawi had just starred in the Channel 9’s prime-time hit TV show, Here Come the Habibs, playing someone from a Lebanese background just like his own.

Exactly what did Aly think De Nawi was hiding? If De Nawi thought he had to keep his Lebanese background secret to succeed, he was going about it in a hell of a strange way. But on Aly ploughed, saying an actor called "Dimitri" had also urged him to win.

"To Dimitri and Mustafa and to everyone else with an unpronounceable name like I don’t know, I really just want to say one thing and it’s that I am incredibly humbled that you would even think to invest in me that way," he sighed.

Please. A man with an even more allegedly "unpronounceable" name than Dimitri — Alex Dimitriades — had already just won the Logie for the Most Outstanding Actor.

And Deborah Mailman, of Aboriginal ancestry, had won Most Outstanding Actress, showing that honouring people of different colour and "race" is not quite the Aly-specific Big Deal in this exceptionally embracing country.

That is the real shame of this Aly schtick — that by presenting himself as the great challenger of our racism he wipes out the abundant history we have of people who did that challenging long ago and helped to create the kind of country where an Aly effortlessly cleans up big-time.

Am I too harsh?

Then consider how Aly’s wife, Muslim convert Susan Carland, herself given a lecturer’s job by Monash University and a gig by ABC radio, has presented her husband as the shining first to challenge a colour-phobic TV industry.

As The Australian reported in a generous profile of Aly last month: "Aly’s wife, academic Susan Carland, points out the significance of having a non-white face on commercial TV.

" ‘I think a lot of people forget that — he’s the first non-white on prime-time commercial TV. That’s huge,’ she says, later sending me a text to correct herself: ‘PS, Waleed told me apparently Ernie Dingo hosted something on commercial TV back in the day’."

Strange how a couple who have apparently discussed Aly’s great significance could only just remember Aboriginal Ernie Dingo — who merely hosted "something on commercial TV — and no one else.

It appears that so many others who went before have been wiped from their memories, including Aboriginal current affairs host Stan Grant, Sri Lankan entertainer Kamahl, exercise guru Swami Sarasvati, Aboriginal presenter Aaron Pedersen of Gladiators Australia, the much-loved African American singer Marcia Hines and Bellbird’s Bob Maza, whose Hall of Fame entry hails him for having "changed the way indigenous people were portrayed in the media".

Also wiped from this Aly-Was-First history are Big Brother’s Trevor Butler, MasterChef’s Poh Ling Yeow and Adam Liaw and Australian Idol’s Casey Donovan.

And, while Carland limited Aly’s exceptionalism to commercial TV, surely the ABC’s Trisha Goddard and the SBS’s Lee Lin Chin deserve some acknowledgment?

The truth is that whatever the flaws of Australia’s past, Aly is by no means the exception or the saviour by which we will be saved from the sin of our alleged racism.

He instead slots easily into a long tradition of Australians embracing people of all backgrounds who make an effort to join.

It is this version of Australia that should be taught — an affirmation of Australia’s warm heart, not a damnation of its imagined evil.

So next time let’s have a Logies winner admit they are not a victim but a winner in a society from which they so richly profit.


China’s kids excel at school — at half the cost

Not too surprising.  They study harder and are brighter to start with.  Australia could still do better, though

Chinese students are trouncing their Australian counterparts in literacy and maths but cost half as much to educate, the latest data shows, as schools funding becomes a key election issue.

Australia spends $132,945, on average, to educate a student from primary school to Year 10 — double the $66,463 spent on students in Shanghai and 40 per cent more than the $93,630 cost in South Korea, the latest comparative OECD data shows. More than half the students in Shanghai and nearly a third of Korean students top the class internationally in maths — compared with just one in seven Australian students.

One in five Australian students failed the minimum standard in maths in the OECD’s 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), compared with 3 per cent of Shanghai students and 9 per cent of Korean teenagers.

As Bill Shorten talked up Labor’s $3.8 billion cash splash for schools in 2018-19 yesterday, a new report warned that Australia’s students had fallen behind Asian countries despite record spending on education. The Australian Council for Educational Research criticised a widening gap between the performance of rich and poor students, and a ­"residualisation" of struggling students in the poorest government schools.

"Australia has increased spending on schools and seen standards decline," council chief executive Geoff Masters said yesterday. "It is of concern that so many Australian 15-year-olds are failing to achieve minimally ­adequate levels of reading and mathematical literacy.

"We cannot keep doing what we have been doing and expect performances to improve. The ­answer is to target resources on effective strategies for arresting the drift in Australia’s schools."

Professor Masters said it was too soon to tell if the needs-based schools funding model devised by business leader David Gonski — a long-time friend of Malcolm Turnbull — was making a difference. "It’s possible that if funding is better targeted (through Gonski) to where it will make a difference, performance will improve," he said yesterday.

"High-performing countries are focused on trying to reduce disparity between schools so it matters much less what schools students go to. "In Australia the concern is we can see an increase in disparity ­between schools — we’re ending up with low-achieving disadvantaged students being concentrated in particular types of schools."

The previous Labor government signed a six-year Gonski funding deal with most states and territories in 2013, worth an extra $9.4bn in federal funding and $5.1bn in extra state funding. The Abbott government cancelled the last two years of the agreement, worth $4.5bn in federal funding.

Labor is promising to spend the missing $4.5bn, while the Coalition promised $1.2bn in extra funding between 2017 and 2019 in last week’s federal budget.

Disadvantaged schools only began receiving their Gonski funds in 2014 and the results of last year’s PISA exam — which tested half a million 15-year-old students in 70 industrialised countries — will not be known until December.

Labor last night began sending out emails with an in-built calculator for voters to work out "how much Turnbull cut from your school", based on the difference between Labor and Coalition spending promises.

The Opposition Leader declared yesterday that Australia’s plummeting performance was "not good enough".

"If you look at the success of the emerging nations of our region, they are increasing investment in schools," Mr Shorten said. "If we want to be a smart and successful nation, we need to be an educated nation."

Opposition education spokeswoman Kate Ellis said a Labor government would spend $4.8m on "targeted teaching".

The council report says fewer Australian students are studying advanced maths and science subjects in high school, while 40,000 teenagers failed the minimum international standard for reading at the age of 15. It says teachers are required to teach too much content in a "crowded curriculum".

The federal and state governments approved a pared-back national curriculum, with a greater focus on phonics-based literacy, for primary school late last year but it has yet to take effect in most classrooms.

The Australian’s analysis of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development data shows a strong link between attending preschool and success in high school.

Barely half the Australian teenagers who took the PISA test in 2012 had attended preschool for more than a year, compared to 88 per cent of students in Shanghai, 90 per cent in Singapore, 97 per cent in Japan and 83 per cent in Korea.

The OECD data reveals that a third of Australian teenagers skip classes or wag school — 10 times the rate in Shanghai.

The US spends even more than Australia — $157,270 to educate a child to Year 10 — yet its students performed even worse.

Singapore spends slightly less than Australia — $115,665 per child — yet its students are twice as likely to top the tests in maths and reading.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday said the council report "smacks down" Labor’s big-spending approach to education.

"We need to focus on what actually makes a difference for our students because, while spending on Australian schools has increased, the results of our students has gone backwards," he said. Senator Birmingham said the Coalition’s "back to basics" education policy would improve outcomes in literacy, numeracy, the STEM.


Another one of those charming Muslims that Australia is lucky to have

A MAN who has been charged for allegedly stomping on and destroying baby graves came out of Burwood Local Court this morning swinging at the media.

Muhammad Ibrahim, 25, slapped away cameras and almost ran a photographer over in his Jeep, which had been parked illegally.

Ibrahim was in no mood to talk to the media after turning up about 30 minutes late to his hearing for allegedly destroying almost 70 Christian graves at Rookwood Cemetery on November 27 last year.

Ibrahim pushed one camera away and grabbed another as he walked towards a Jeep that he had parked in a no-stopping zone almost directly outside the court house.

He climbed into the Jeep and, with a parking ticket still stuck under his windscreen wipers, did a three-point turn, narrowly missing a Daily Telegraph photographer.

He then stopped to pull down the window and stick up his middle finger for the cameras.

It is not the first time Ibrahim has been involved in an altercation outside court. When he appeared in March, he was confronted by a group of angry Russian patriots who chased him down the street shouting, "you’re a coward."

Ibrahim’s hearing was adjourned because of a delay in locating his co-accused Nassem Raad.

Magistrate Eve Wynhausen adjourned the court case so that Ibrahim and Raad, who has also pleaded not guilty, can face a hearing together.

Ibrahim has pleaded not guilty to destroying or damaging property and supply of a prohibited drug. Raad has pleaded not guilty to entering an enclosed land without lawful excuse and destroy or damage property.

The Daily Telegraph understands almost 70 graves around a Greek Orthodox church were destroyed with crosses and headstones smashed including on at least four baby graves.

A security guard at the cemetery said he saw one father turn up to his infants grave sobbing.

A caretaker told the Daily Telegraph that many of the Greek Orthodox Christians would visit their relatives graves every day and the destruction of their loved ones headstones was deeply distressing to them.

As of January, the damage bill was $50,000 but it is expected to be a lot higher. Ibrahim and Raad’s cases will return to Burwood Local Court on June 30.


12 May, 2016

Australia had larger extreme weather events in the distant past

More flooding and longer droughts.  Pesky for the Warmists as CO2 was LOWER at that time (the last 1,000 years)

Australia is systematically underestimating its drought and flood risk because weather records do not capture the full extent of rainfall variability, according to our new research.

Our study, published today in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, uses Antarctic ice core data to reconstruct rainfall for the past 1,000 years for catchments in eastern Australia.

The results show that instrumental rainfall records – available for the past 100 years at best, depending on location – do not represent the full range of abnormally wet and dry periods that have occurred over the centuries.

In other words, significantly longer and more frequent wet and dry periods were experienced in the pre-instrumental period (that is, before the 20th century) compared with the period over which records have been kept.

Reconstructing prehistoric rainfall

There is no direct indicator of rainfall patterns for Australia before weather observations began. But, strange as it may sound, there is a link between eastern Australian rainfall and the summer deposition of sea salt in Antarctic ice. This allowed us to deduce rainfall levels by studying ice cores drilled from Law Dome, a small coastal ice cap in East Antarctica.

It might sound strange, but there’s a direct link between Antarctic ice and Australia’s rainfall patterns.

How can sea salt deposits in an Antarctic ice core possibly be related to rainfall thousands of kilometres away in Australia? It is because the processes associated with rainfall variability in eastern Australia – such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), as well as other ocean cycles like the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) – are also responsible for variations in the wind and circulation patterns that cause sea salt to be deposited in East Antarctica (as outlined in our previous research).

By studying an ice record spanning 1,013 years, our results reveal a clear story of wetter wet periods and drier dry periods than is evident in Australia’s much shorter instrumental weather record.

For example, in the Williams River catchment, which provides water for the Newcastle region of New South Wales, our results showed that the longest dry periods lasted up to 12 years. In contrast, the longest dry spell since 1900 lasted just eight years.

Among wet periods, the difference was even more pronounced. The longest unusually wet spell in our ice record lasted 39 years – almost five times longer than the post-1900 maximum of eight years.


Australia Post parcels doing laps of Australia before delivery

Sack boss Ahmed Fahour!

Australia Post customers are furious at plans to charge them up to $9 if parcels aren't picked up within five days. Courtesy Seven News Melbourne.

Complaints are mounting about Australia Post's parcel delivery service and an automatic scanning system that sends parcels thousands of kilometres in the wrong direction, or refuses to recognise home addresses that have been used for decades.

And a tough approach to under-paid mail has started turning people off letters, with one distressed lady saying she now lumps her beloved postal service "in the same basket as the big banks and electricity companies".

Australia Post introduced a new two-speed letter delivery service earlier this year that was supposed to save money on overnight processing and transportation.

Australia Post has been relying on revenues from the parcel business as letter volumes decline, with parcels contributing half of the group's $6.3 billion revenues. However, new automated parcel systems installed in late 2014 appear to be wasting resources by sending packages the wrong way or failing to recognise established addresses. And after several bad experiences people, Melbourne cartoonist Oslo Davis said he would rather hand-deliver parcels whenever possible. 

"Earlier this year I sent an artwork from Collingwood to South Yarra and it went via western Sydney then Perth then Sunshine [Victoria]. Took thirteen business days. Should have just driven it myself," he told Fairfax Media.

Sydneysider Alexandra Hordern ordered a parcel from South Australia and online tracking service shows it arrived in Chullora, New South Wales on a Thursday, but the next day it went to Sunshine, Victoria, then back to Adelaide. After complaining Miss Hordern was told automatic scanners missed the post code and the parcel could not be manually sorted until it "goes through three times with the post code scanner mis-reading it".

And when one woman bought Christmas gifts for her family, they never arrived because Australia Post no longer recognised the address her parents have been using for several decades. The parcel bounced between Queensland and New South Wales before finally being returned to the retailer. When Amy Stockwell complained, Australia Post said the address her parents had been using for 30 years did not exist. 

"As discussed, [the address] is actually located in Vernor, not Fernvale, so I would recommend providing this address to senders in future," the response read.  Both suburbs share the same postcode and her parents live within five kilometres of Fernvale. They had never used Vernor as an address.   

Problems appear to stem from automatic scanners that do not use common sense. For example, another woman told Fairfax Media she sent out 40 invitations for a work function, but all were returned the next day. She suspects sorting machines read the return addresses as the delivery address, a mistake that a human sorting through dozens of envelopes would be unlikely to make.

And Cathy Coote, a communications manager at an environmental non-profit, says expensive air monitoring equipment ordered from the United States was returned to the sender despite her attempts to collect it from the post office. According to the tracking information Australia Post attempted delivery three times, then gave her only one minute to collect the parcel before switching its status from "awaiting collection" to "returning to sender". Ms Coote says the sender would now re-post it using a different courier service.

A spokeswoman for Australia Post said it was investigating this complaint and would like to speak to Ms Coote, who told Fairfax Media she has been unable to speak to anyone Australia Post despite numerous attempts.

Meanwhile Australia Post continues to hit targets of delivering 94 per cent of mail on time, according to the spokeswoman, who also confirmed they received a temporary bump in complaint numbers following the introduction of two-speed mail.

But Australia Post's own belt tightening was now also discouraging letter writers. Carlton North resident Petra Stock recently sent a letter containing two photographs to her parents in Adelaide. She let her child choose the envelope, but because it was an irregular size she asked how much postage to pay.  A few days later she received a bill for $2.50 for underpaying by $1.

"I was a bit shocked because I had done all the right things and I felt like I would have even preferred they returned the letter than sending this unexpected bill in the post. I felt like the post had suddenly become this nasty corporation," Ms Stock told Fairfax media.

She tried to complain but was told she could only provide feedback through their My Support website, which she was unable to sign up to. The bill could only be paid in a post office or using Australia Post's own Post Billpay service, not Bpay like most other utilities.

"Letter writing is something that I absolutely love and something that I really want my kids to enjoy as well. It doesn't bother me about increasing postage, but now I wonder if my kids will get a bill [after posting a letter]. It has really changed my impression of Australia Post."

The Australia Post spokeswoman said it did not use BPay because it "only offers online payments – even then it is only for those logged on to Internet banking".



Three current reports below

Chinese student enrolments are exploding in Australia

The latest Government data for the three months to March revealed 459,621 international student enrolments over the year to date, for another 12 per cent increase over the past year.

The actual number of international students in Australia so far this year is 421,258, also a 12 per cent increase (students may enrol for more than one course, y’see), while commencements are up even more dramatically by 13 per cent.

46,370 Chinese students have already commenced courses in Aussie educational establishments this year, which is 23 per cent more than this time last year!

Big numbers, yes. Yet it’s the potential cumulative impact of the percentage increases which is the really astonishing thing.

Enrolments have increased by 36 per cent over the past three years alone, with most international students bound for the largest capital cities, drawn like scholarly flies to the bright city lights.

Well, that plus the fact that a lot of the most prestigious Universities, schools and colleges are located close to the centres of the most populous capital cities.

Small wonder, perhaps, that apartment vacancy rates haven’t been rising as fast as had been predicted in Sydney and Melbourne, despite the record construction boom.

Most of the growth in international students is sourced from Asia – a worthy glimpse into Australia’s future – and from China and India in particular.

There was a 23 per cent year-on-year increase in Chinese commencements in the first quarter of 2016, and a 26 per cent increase specifically in the higher education sector.

Meanwhile Chinese students have accounted for some 29.4 per cent of enrolments over the year to date, up from 27.8 per cent in the first three months of 2015.

Records are being shattered all over the show, and far more than could (or should) be mentioned in any one article.

There will doubtless be a few half-hearted noises made about diversification and spreading the love (or at least the concentration of risk).

But let’s face it China has a solidly growing population of about 1,381,000,000 and comparatively speaking there are very few of us. India’s population isn’t far behind at around 1.25 billion.

On balance, It appears unlikely that the supply of willing applicants is likely to dry up any time soon, so provided that education standards are maintained and establishments can facilitate foreign students appropriately, Government forecasts will continue to project nothing short of an explosion in student visas.

There has also been very strong year-on-year growth in Indian student enrolments, which one assumes (with admittedly little statistical support to my assertion) is predominantly a Melbourne thing.

Following the relaxation – ahem, streamlining – of visa rules for international students, tens of thousands of Asian students will in time go on to become permanent residents and Australian citizens.

The good fellows and my former employers at the Green Dot of Deloitte Access & Touche-Ross-Tohmatsu plc (or whatever they’re known as these days) now estimate that the higher education export industry is worth $20 billion per annum to Australia, which is even more than had previously been believed.


STEM graduates most likely to get jobs, earn more money

STEM graduates earn more money and are more likely to land a job. This was the message from The Good Education Group, which released its first Good Careers Guide today.

Figures showed people with science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) qualifications — whether from university or a vocational trainer — fared better than their non-STEM counterparts.

For university graduates, the highest average starting salaries were in dentistry ($77,000), medicine ($62,624), engineering ($62,102), surveying ($60,049) and rehabilitation ($59,603). This compared to a $52,840 average.

For vocational graduates, the highest average starting salaries were in information technology ($51,700), engineering ($51,100), education ($49,500), architecture and building ($48,200) and health ($47,400). This compared to a $46,900 average.

Good Education Group data manager Ross White said STEM graduates typically had more specialised and transferable skills so were in demand across more industries yet not enough people pursued these fields.

He said there were more people with business and management degrees alone than people with computing and IT, engineering and technology, mathematics and science degrees combined.

STEM careers also had higher employment rates.

University graduates most likely to have a job after university were in medicine (97 per cent), pharmacy (91 per cent), surveying (78 per cent), dentistry (77 per cent) and nursing/rehabilitation (76 per cent).

Meanwhile, those most likely to have a job after vocational training were in education (86 per cent), architecture and building (86 per cent), engineering (83 per cent), agriculture, environmental and related studies (81 per cent) and health (79 per cent).

Good Education Group chief executive Chris Lester said it was important more students explored STEM careers.

"With the government’s renewed focus on the importance of studying STEM subjects, it seems students would do well to consider these fields — both for positive employment and salary outcomes," he said.

University of Adelaide Careers Service manager Sue Hervey said students took many factors into consideration when choosing a degree and starting salary was only one of them.

"In the most recent annual survey by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers, graduates listed long-term career prospects, reputation of an employer, training and development, and work content as the most important factors for them. Salary was listed by only one per cent of graduates as being the most important factor."

Final year dental student Austin Yoo, 22, was surprised that dentists earned so much in their first year after graduation.

He said salary was not a consideration when he chose his undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide.

"With dentistry, you have to really enjoy what you are doing because you will be doing it for a significant part of your life," he said. "Money doesn’t necessarily buy you happiness.

"If you choose it for the possibility of earning a higher salary, you are better off choosing something you have an interest in."

Dr Yastira Lalla, who has a Bachelor of Dental Science, Master of Philosophy in Oral Oncology and is now studying a Doctorate of Clinical Dentistry in Dento-Maxillofacial Radiology at the University of Queensland, said salary didn’t factor into her career decision. "I knew that dentistry was a stable job but I never chased the money," she said. "I always believed in following an area (I) already had interest in.

"Study has (been) challenging — it seems to increase as I move further up the academic ladder — but pursuing STEM comes with unique rewards, such as seeing your hard work published in journals, presenting your work at conferences to show others what you have achieved and of course graduation."


Blacks attack teachers trying to help them

I have said many times that more police are what Aboriginal settlements need most.  Without security, nothing else is possible

A CAPE York school has been temporarily shut down and extra police have been rushed to the town to deal with unrest as more than 20 teachers were on Tuesday ordered to evacuate amid fears for their safety.

Education Minister Kate Jones said she was deeply concerned for the safety of teachers at the Aurukun campus of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy and promised the department would review its infrastructure and security in the town immediately.

Five extra police were sent in as reinforcements on Tuesday following an incident at the weekend in which the school’s principal was allegedly threatened with an axe and had his car stolen by a group of males aged under 19.

It was the tipping point for a union meeting of teaching staff on Monday night in which they expressed fear and called for their removal from the community on full pay while a safety strategy was negotiated.

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, who founded CYAAA, last night strongly backed the decision to evacuate the staff to Cairns, saying the employees did a "heroic job" amid unrest which had plagued the community "for too long".

"(There are disturbances) with fights among community members, unruly youths returning from detention and all of these problems have been rolling on for several years," he said.

In an email obtained by The Courier-Mail, staff demanded plans for construction of a "teacher community safe precinct" to start by the end of the year, increased incentives for staff working in Aurukun, and housing needs including 24-hour security and fences being concreted in the ground.

Ms Jones ordered the Education Department temporarily move 25 staff to Cairns on Tuesday.

"The safety and wellbeing of our staff has to be our number one priority," she said.

"After considering these concerns and resolutions put forward by staff I have given my full support to the executive principal’s decision to temporarily close the Aurukun campus of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy for a period of five school days.


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 May, 2016

Australia's cultural heritage: parents who despise education

I have no doubt that the writer below -- Lex Borthwick -- describes a real phenomenon but I think he oversimplifies the causes of it. In some cases students will indeed not continue with their education because their families have a contempt for it but it could also simply be family tradition that causes families to discourage further education. 

My father got only as far as Grade 6 in his day and his father did not go to school at all but was taught to read and write at home.  So when I finished primary school my father thought that was enough and that I should get a job.  That was simply the world he knew.  He was however persuaded to allow me to do two years of high school -- after which I did leave and get a job.

After three years of doing various things I was however persuaded that I should complete High School --  which I did.  And from there I began evening classes at university.

So despite a lack of parental encouragement I went right through the education system to Ph.D.  I had the ability so it was not difficult, even though I received no parental financial support after those first two years of High School.

So I think we should distinguish between those parents who are actively hostile to education and those who simply don't think it necessary.  My parents were in the latter category.

And I am fairly sure that actual hostility to education largely emanates from those who don't do well at it.  And almost all of those simply don't have the ability for it.  All men are NOT equal. So hostility is a cover for failure.  I don't see much remedy for that.

I was talking to my son about this, however, and he said he despises education too.  He was privately schooled -- where he always did well, has a first-class honours degree in mathematics and is a well-paid IT professional -- so he is looking through what might be called the opposite end of the telescope.  What he dislikes about the educational system is how much it is dumbed down and how much it teaches things of little usefulness.  He does not yet have children but seems likely to home-school them when he does

Many studies show parents' positive influence on their children's education, but hardly anyone will discuss the opposite: when parents stymie that education and ambition.

It's not uniquely Australian, but sentiments unsupportive of education are part of our cultural DNA. We know about our sporting heroes, but who knows about our Nobel Prize winners? And worse, who cares?

I witnessed the consequences of these educationally-destructive factors when attending rural secondary schools in the '60s, and more recently when teaching in metropolitan schools.

In 2001, aged 46, I was first-year teaching at an outer-suburban government school. Expecting a new educational era accompanying the new millennium, I discovered little had changed since my schooldays.

Attending six government schools around Victoria before accessing university, my educational progress could have been derailed but fortunately my family was educationally supportive.

I received spoken and unspoken parental encouragement to stay at school and achieve my best. Soon, I was being paid more than my father.

Many of my friends back then were not so lucky. Hating school, contemptuous of teachers, they stopped learning early. Leaving school at 15, they saw no point trying as success was impossible. They drifted through the low-skill manual labour jobs possible then but nearly gone now.

These friends' parents mostly didn't support education, inducing or forcing their children to leave school early. Through overt or covert disdain for education, these parents condemned their kids to lifetimes of low incomes or unemployment, and the consequent problems, including social disaffection, crime, alcoholism, drug addictions, and family abuse.

But most of these parents were themselves victims of their own parents, caught in cycles of negative parental influence probably stretching back several generations.

In Britain, particularly England, the membership and future of the poor was largely predetermined by the wealthy. Further education wasn't an option.

In early white Australia, kids needed hunting, riding, deforesting, fence building, cooking, laundering, children rearing, and animal care skills, not literacy and numeracy.

With urbanisation, kids left school for low income jobs to keep their family solvent, requiring only basic literacy and numeracy.

No poor kid could afford further education. Trapped in this awful cycle, many developed increasingly negative attitudes towards education and teachers. Education only constrained poor kids from surviving in the "real" world, and was for rich scumbags incapable of "real" work.

Recent reports, such as Gonski (2011) and Bracks (2016), highlight education's significance to national success. Similarly, most parents recognise education's importance to individual success, offering a reliable escape from long-term struggle.

Training, education and skill development through apprenticeships, technical colleges, teachers' colleges and universities have propelled many families into financial security. And many newly-arrived migrant families clearly recognise the transformative power of education.

So why had things not changed by 2001 when I began teaching? In the 30 years since my schooldays, libraries of books about "perfect" educational systems appeared, gaggles of politicians prattled about making Australia "smarter", and endless "band-aid" reforms whizzed by.

But there they were still, the educationally destructive factors I witnessed in the '60s, evident in every class I taught: that same parental opposition to education, at worst comprising anti-education.

Partly because of this, schools are still failure factories for many students: only one-third of my year 10 students had year 10 or above literacy skills. The remaining two-thirds were mostly between years 1-6, with some at years 7-9.

Of the one-third, most were influenced by the two-thirds' oppositional culture, so only one-tenth of that one-third consistently submitted assessment work.

Unsurprisingly, the two-thirds' parents were those who rarely attended parent/teacher interviews.

Despite expectations, a teacher's chances of changing the trajectory of these students' lives are effectively non-existent, especially when in their teens, as they came to me.

Teenagers can be intensely oppositional to any adult's opinion, so why do these kids keep their parents' negative education cycle spinning?

From first hearing their parents' voices kids absorb parental beliefs, giving years for negative inculcation before teenagehood. If non-educational parents fail to teach the pre-school basics then their kids start school behind, struggle to catch up, label themselves as stupid, lose their self-confidence, mix with similar kids, and develop behavioural problems.

This is well prior to their teens, by which time their hatred of schools, teachers and education is cemented in. The cycle is running.

Add Australia's culture of valuing sport above intellect, the upheaval caused to many kids by family dysfunction, physical or mental illness, poverty, and social disadvantage, shake or stir, and the resulting cocktail can, if even sipped, greatly diminish kids' opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, many teenagers howl in fury and frustration at the world, with school and teachers the easiest target of their pain. Some howl loudly, others in dark silence.

Teachers want to help, but can rarely win kids' trust when they're only seen a couple of times a week with 24 other kids, most with their own problems. And the teachers? By day, they act the part. But at night, their frustrations often bring tears, mental health problems, and resignation from the work they once loved.

Our work was also hindered by the Education Department and many academics persistently feeding the media with incredibly simplistic tales blaming teachers for almost everything. The real causes, however, go much deeper, culturally and psychologically.

Is this worse than my schooldays? I can't truly say, but it's of such an extent, with such awful consequences, action is clearly needed.

A few articles when year 12 results come out, highlighting a few students' success, fail to begin to counter many parents' educational opposition, or Australia's anti-intellectual culture.

It's an insult to all the kids failed by our education system, and their teachers, when we won't examine the full causes of, and solutions to, the wasted lives and potential that is another enduring part of Australian culture. This must change.


Will the internships program help young people get jobs?

THERE are many different reasons why a young person might not end up securing a job.

Even having a university degree doesn’t mean you will necessarily find work straight away. In fact, it takes a young person, on average, 4.7 years to find fulltime employment after graduating.

During this year’s Budget, the government set out its plan for tackling youth unemployment. It said it would offer six-week paid internships to those who have been looking for work for at least six months. But will the approach actually work?


The government wants to give $840.3 million to a new program named Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare, Trial, Hire). The aim is to get 120,000 people aged 17 to 24 who are currently on income support into jobs.

A core part of the scheme is to place as many as 30,000 young people each year in a voluntary four-to-12-week internship program. This will require completing six weeks of training and working 15 to 25 hours per week. Interns will earn an extra $200 each fortnight in addition to their existing income support.

Businesses providing the internships will receive a $1000 bonus, as well as a potential additional Youth Bonus wage subsidy of between $6500 and $10,000.


Opportunities for young people to be exposed to working life have potential benefits, ranging from work experience, developing networks, self-confidence and skills on the job that, hopefully, lead to a job at the end.

But whether this internship program will help more young people get jobs depends on a number of things.

Following the 2014 election, it was announced that welfare recipients would have the option of working for the dole if they worked for 25 hours per week for welfare. But evidence from the US and previous Work for the Dole programs suggests that being in a mandatory program may reduce participants from seeking work; perhaps because they are too busy with their current workload. The same could possibly happen for those undertaking an internship.

Other criticisms have emerged from some unions, arguing that it amounts to "unpaid labour which is actually going to be subsidised by the taxpayer".

They may have a point, depending on how you look it. An intern could be seen by an unscrupulous employer as cheap labour, with the taxpayer footing the bill for the training and incentives to the employer. On the other hand, if the internship leads to successful and secure work, this could save taxpayer expense on welfare payments — as well as being beneficial to the successful intern.

Nevertheless, there is something to be said about the message this sends to young people about the value of their labour. One commentator has already pointed out that when factoring in the combined payment of the program and Newstart allowance, jobseekers on these internships will be working up to 25 hours a week while earning just $363.80. The poverty line in Australia for a single person is $422.06 a week.

Another challenge for Youth Jobs PaTH will be to ensure that measures are in place to maximise the possibility of young people getting into secure, meaningful work — and keeping it.

Such safeguards would need to include the commitment of both interns and employers to the program, basic legal workplace requirements and a quality, meaningful internship experience in place. Whether six weeks will be sufficient is questionable, depending on the quality of the experience.


Young people can struggle to get work because of a lack of qualifications and experience. Other factors can include where they live (particularly if they reside in regional and remote areas), their gender, or if they are from an indigenous or disadvantaged background.

One important factor in getting a job is to complete school. But this may not be for every one, so other pathways need to be developed and improved.

Even with the completion of year 12 or equivalent — and even a degree or post-school training qualification — some businesses are not happy with young people’s work-readiness and are reluctant to hire them. Surveys of employers repeatedly identify dissatisfaction with young people’s business and customer awareness, self-management skills and problem solving abilities, and literacy and numeracy skills.

Soft skills and learning how to learn are increasingly needed to navigate changing worlds of work in which there will be multiple careers. Internships are one way of developing them — but they can only go so far.


A pressing question for policymakers is this: are good-quality, secure jobs available to young people?

Youth unemployment remains disproportionately high for young people aged 15 to 24 across Australia, rising as high as 28.4 per cent in regions such as outback Queensland.

Access to fulltime work is happening later in life — even for many university graduates. Young Australians face growing competition from global labour market flows and an ageing local population. Researchers found that between May 2003 and May 2013, the share of those aged 60 to 64 in the workforce increased from 39 per cent to 54 per cent.

The Baby Boomer generation is living and working longer, both by choice and necessity. Some bring experience and skills that young people do not have.

Underemployment, where young people aren’t able to get enough quality work, also remains a major issue. The casualisation of the workforce and greater competition for work in general are some of the reasons for this.

Lack of certainty across the areas of business, education and training suggest that for the election campaign, a more cohesive vision of youth employment policy is necessary, one which joins the dots between education, economic and social policies.

Perhaps most importantly, measures like the Youth Jobs PaTH program are only effective if quality, meaningful work is available at the end of the internship.

"quality & meaningful work"? That's a big ask.  Most work is routine -- JR


Australia seals trade expansion and $2.25b defence deal with Singapore

Australia will significantly deepen economic and defence ties with Singapore through an expansion of the countries' free trade agreement and a major boost to the number of Singaporean troops training in Queensland.

Former trade minister Andrew Robb has clinched the deal, which aims to elevate ties with Singapore to the same level as Australia-New Zealand relations.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Robb and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo will on Friday announce the agreement, under which Singapore will build $2.25 billion of new defence infrastructure, including new barracks, making it the only country beyond the United States to invest in military infrastructure on Australian soil.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, begun by former prime minister Tony Abbott and his counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, more than a year ago, represents a major boost to the strategic relationship amid the rise of China and the growing uncertainty across Asia.

"It takes our relationship to a whole other level, and in the region [it is] comparable to our very, very close relationship with New Zealand," Mr Robb said.

"It will lead to significantly more linkages and business across so many different sectors. It's going to lead to immediate multi-billion investments in Northern Australia. It's totally consistent with where we wanted the Defence white paper to go, where the northern Australia [white paper] commitments go."

Strategically, it would "lock in a deep friendship in a most powerful way", he said.

For the next quarter of a century, Singapore will send up to 14,000 military personnel to Australia for training, up from the 6000 a year now. They will stay for up to 18 weeks, longer than they currently stay.

There will also be an expansion to air force training. Details are yet to be agreed upon, but Singapore pilots will now be able to train in Australia for up to six months a year.

The expanded troop training will be based in Shoalwater Bay and Townsville in Queensland. Singapore will spend $2.25 billion on training facilities, barracks, roads, fencing and other measures, with the investment roughly split between the two sites.

For the other 34 weeks of the year, the Australian Army will be able to use the facilities.

A boost to northern Queensland's economy, in such areas as tourism, is also expected to flow through.

The deal follows Mr Robb signing free trade deals with China, Japan, South Korea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the past three years and significantly expands the existing FTA, first struck in 2003.

It increases visa access for Australian contract workers and executives, and allows spouses and children to work. Singapore will recognise some postgraduate law and medical degrees from some universities.

And investments – aside from agricultural land investments – under $1 billion will avoid full scrutiny from the Foreign Investment Review Board, up from the current threshold of $250 million. Both countries will commit $25 million to a science and innovation fund.

Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, said Singapore was desperate for "strategic depth" – relations with like-minded countries. But it was also good for Australia, he said.

"The context is in large part the rise of China, but it's not just about China. Singapore is famously pragmatic and recognises the need for smaller and middle powers to work together on security, because of uncertainties about Indo-Pacific power balance more generally, including the future US posture."

He said that given the wrangling between Canberra and Washington over who would pay for the US Marine facilities in Darwin, it was "ironic that Singapore, a non-ally, seems willing to stump up for costs to cover its forces' access to Australia, when our US ally has been so reluctant to do so".


Australia and the United States: close but different

Bernard Salt

Comparisons are often drawn ­between the US and Australia. Both comprise large land masses settled (or invaded) by European colonists. We both speak English, accept migration, value democracy, and regard ourselves as young nations.

We are linked by close trade, military and cultural ties. But then there are fundamental demographic differences that illustrate the sheer enormity of the American Empire compared with Australia.

The US economy generates a gross domestic product of $18,000 billion a year, 11 times the Australian economy. US military spending is $600bn, is 26 times the Australian spending. The US population at 320 million is 13 times the Australian population. Texas contains more people and is a bigger economic force than is the whole of the Australian nation. The US has 10 aircraft carriers at a replacement cost of about $10bn each that can project lethal force simultaneously to multiple global flashpoints; we had an aircraft carrier once but we crashed it.

The biggest city in the US is the greater urban mass of New York with 24 million residents; NYC is a bigger economic force than Australia. The second biggest city is Los Angeles with 19 million and which stretches 220km east to west; this is followed by Chicago with eight million.

Australia’s biggest city Sydney will pass the five-million-mark by the end of this year. We think Sydney is positively Los Angelean in scale even though the Bondi-to-Penrith stretch is barely 70km. Interestingly, the New Zealanders think that Auckland (pop 1.3 million) is a vast city.

We Australians get terribly excited every three years when our population ticks over another million as it did in February to 24 million; this is a fact that gets remarked upon on breakfast television. The US ticks over another million residents every four months. It isn’t a news story.

The US’s two biggest public companies Apple and Google each have a market capitalisation that is five times the market capitalisation of BHP Billiton. Five of the US’s 10 biggest companies were founded in the last 40 years; none of Australia’s top 10 businesses were founded in this time frame. Apart from Macquarie bank which was founded in 1970, the most recently established big Australian business is Woolworths founded in 1924.

There have long been murmurings about Australia being incorporated within a greater United States of America. I’m not sure we could make a net contribution.

And yet there are remarkable similarities between the American and the Australian settlement of their respective land masses over the last 25 years. Four weeks ago I published in this column a map showing population growth and loss at the municipal level across Australia between 1992 and 2015. The map spoke to the Australian preference for — even obsession with — coastal and treechange lifestyle options. Vast tracts of the Riverina, the Mallee, the Wim­mera, and the Eyre Peninsula and of the West Australian wheatbelt were shown to have yielded population in response to shifting methods of farming.

I have recreated that map for mainland America based on the same parameters. The unit base is 3000 American counties which compares with 600 Australian municipalities. The fastest growing and the fastest declining counties tell the story of the American people over the course of a generation. All powerful, resourceful and innovative that this nation might be in aggregate, the minutiae of demographic shifts shows a pattern of behaviour that is remarkably similar to the Australian experience.

The same unrelenting demand for agricultural efficiency that drives farm aggregation and depopulation in the Wimmera applies throughout the Mid West from the Dakotas in the north to the western prairies of Texas in the south. But also evident is the depopulation of the rust belt northeast in upstate New York, along the western edges of Pennsylvania and deep into the Apallachian Mountains. There are towns and counties in the US just as there are towns and shires in Australia that are caught on the wrong side of economic opportunity. The number of people living in Cottle County Texas for example dropped from 2100 in 1992 to 1400 in 2015 which is a 33 per cent decrease over 23 years.

Growth counties on the other hand cluster on the edges of bigger cities as commuter corridors or fill the retirement coasts in Florida. Other growth areas blossom in the unlikeliest of places like the Arizona and Nevada desert. The Americans will retire to lifestyle communities in the desert. We Australians are different; there is no counterpart in the Australia interior to places such as Phoenix. And besides we don’t do desert we do beach.

On the outskirts of Denver, Colorado, is the US’s leading growth hotspot. Douglas County increased its population from 74,000 residents in 1992 to 322,000 in 2015. Douglas County is a bit like say Melbourne’s City of Wyndham. Perhaps the mayors should organise an exchange.

But more important than the areas of loss and growth in the US or the sheer scale of the economy is the advent of turnaround places. I call these places sponge cities in Australia; in the US they are popping up everywhere and especially in the Dakotas. The reason is the discovery and exploitation of a new local resource, shale oil and gas. Shale oil has been behind the turnaround in the demographic fortunes of Burleigh and Cass counties in North Dakota.

In some respects the US is vastly different to Australia, but in ­others there is a remarkable similarity. It seems that towns in demographic decline can remain in a state of subsidence for years if not decades as the economic base of the region eschews labour. It’s almost as if places hibernate waiting for a reason to be brought back to life like the discovery of a new resource such as shale oil or further north into Canada’s Saskatoon Saskatchewan, potash.

Another reason why a region, a town or a county might be transformed is because of the great migration-driver of our time, retirement. Whether it is to Pinal County near Phoenix or to the Northern Rivers region of NSW the driving force is the same, the remarkably novel concept of a funded life that exists for years beyond work.

It makes me wonder why we have never emulated the American obsession with retirement to a desert location. Perhaps it’s because our winters are milder; perhaps it’s that no-one has tested the concept; perhaps it’s that Americans simply have different values to the Australians.

In many respects the US is mightily different to Australia; it certainly offers opportunity and scope on a scale that Australians and New Zealanders find hard to contemplate. And yet I somehow think that life is pretty much the same in the Wimmera as it is in Nebraska, in Douglas County as it is in the City of Wyndham, and along the Florida coast as it is on the Gold Coast.

I somehow think that the US and Australia will continue to find similarities and differences for generations to come.


10 May, 2016

Australia turns back three asylum-seeker boats

Australia has intercepted three asylum-seeker boats so far this year, including one carrying women and children from Sri Lanka, the country's immigration minister revealed on Monday.

Under Canberra's hardline measures, asylum-seekers trying to reach Australia by boat are either sent back to where they departed or to remote Pacific island camps, where living conditions have been criticised. The government has defended the policy as stopping deaths at sea.

Since the start of its "Operation Sovereign Borders" in September 2013, it has managed to halt the flood of boats, and drownings, that characterised previous Labor administrations.

In March, Canberra hailed 600 days with no vessels arriving, with 25 boats carrying 698 people turned back and "safely returned to their country of departure".

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said three boats had been intercepted this year, including a small wooden fishing vessel from Sri Lanka last week. "I can advise that there were 12 people on that vessel," he said.

"And the vessel had departed from Sri Lanka and we were able to successfully return those 12 people, which included men, women and children, back safely to Sri Lanka on May 6.

"Now, that brings to three the number of vessels that have sought to arrive and have been turned back, people returned back to their country of origin, in this calendar year."

He gave no details on the other two boats.

The vessel from Sri Lanka came within 500 metres (1,600 feet) of Australia's thinly-populated Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean on Monday last week, according to reports.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said that after being spotted, those on board were transferred from a customs ship to a smaller boat, which took them ashore.

They were flown back to Colombo on a charter flight in a secretive operation under the cover of darkness on Thursday, the broadcaster said, citing witnesses who claimed there were seven children, including babies, among them.

Dutton reiterated that no boatpeople, even if found to be genuine refugees, would ever be settled in Australia. "Please don't accept the word of con agents that are masquerading as these people-smugglers, that if you pay your money will you come to Australia. You will not," he said.


Election 2016: Labor's Melbourne candidate Sophie Ismail contradicts party asylum seeker policies

There's a lot of wobbling in the ALP about turning back the boats

Labor candidate Sophie Ismail has contradicted her party's asylum seeker policies, outlining concerns about boat turnbacks and offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru.

"I have concerns about turnbacks, I don't think they should be on the table"

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton seized on Ms Ismail's comments and called on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to discipline his candidate over her comments on immigration policy, which is a fraught political issue for the ALP and one it hopes will not become a major issue during the campaign.

An under pressure Mr Shorten was forced to declare five times his party's policy on boat turnbacks and offshore processing was "clear", as he dodged questions about whether he would reprimand Ms Ismail.

On the first formal day of the 2016 election campaign Ms Ismail - who has joked that she "looks like a Green" and is trying to win back the prized seat of Melbourne from the Greens' Adam Bandt - also said Treasurer Scott Morrison should "absolutely" apologise to charity organisation Save the Children.

Ms Ismail, who faces a tough fight to win back the former Labor stronghold, vowed to be a progressive voice inside the ALP caucus in the mould of retiring Fremantle MP Melissa Parke and suggested Australia may be in breach of its international legal obligations by processing asylum seekers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Ms Parke and four other Labor MPs recently criticised the offshore processing of asylum seekers on Manus Island in the wake of a PNG Supreme Court ruling that found the Manus Island detention centre was illegal, prompting Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to say it would be closed.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has promised to continue the Coalition's policy of turning back asylum seeker boats if Labor is elected, a policy adopted at the 2015 Labor Party conference.

But in a direct contradiction of party policy, Ms Ismail told Fairfax Media: "I have concerns about turnbacks, I don't think they should be on the table. When people arrive by boat, and 90 per cent of them are genuine refugees, turning them back to places not signed up to the refugee convention is a problem".

"I think the PNG ruling obviously casts doubt on the whole situation, it's time to review the Pacific Solution and move towards a decent and humane approach that fully complies with our  international legal obligations.

"These people [on Manus Island] need to be processed immediately and resettled. Their indefinite detention in unsafe conditions is clearly in breach of a number of our obligations and has to end.

"I have grave concerns about the ability of Manus and Nauru to provide safety for these people."

Asked directly if the asylum seekers on PNG should be brought to Australia and processed, Ms Ismail said:  "I think they do need to be processed, whether in Australia or somewhere else".

Campaigning in Queensland, Mr Shorten said the ALP had publicly debated its policy last year and that "Labor's policy is clear. We will not put the people smugglers back into business" while dismissing suggestions he led a divided team.

"When it comes to people smugglers and turnbacks and not having onshore processing by people who are smuggled here by criminal syndicates, we are not for turning on our policy," he said.

"Our candidates are good candidates. I'm proud of my united Labor team but I'm clear what the policy is, as is my team."

Asked about Ms Ismail's comments, Senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese said "I'm not about condemning people for putting forward their views".

"The Labor Party has positions on this. I argued out my position in the Labor Party. The difference is that when the Labor Party makes a decision it is potentially a decision of government rather than just a couple of people."

Mr Dutton said Ms Ismail's comments brought to six the number of Labor MPs and candidates who "have openly revolted against Bill Shorten on border protection". The other five are Ms Parke, Lisa Singh, Anna Burke, Jill Hall and Sue Lines.

"This is eerily similar to the situation that occurred for Kevin Rudd when he tried to be tough on borders but he could not bring his party with him," Mr Dutton told Fairfax Media.

"Under Labor we saw 50,000 people come on boats, 800 boats and 1200 people drown at sea. Bill Shorten has to show leadership and discipline these candidates because the Australian public don't believe Labor has the ability to keep the boats stopped."

At a later press conference, Mr Dutton said internal Labor division proved the opposition will unravel the government's border protection policies if it wins power. He said three asylum seeker boats had been turned away from Australia this year, showing people smugglers remain "very desperate … to come to our country" and authorities must "keep our borders safe".


"Green" subsidies kill off a coal-fired electricity generator in South Australia

The coal furnaces at Alinta Energy's Port Augusta power station in South Australia's north will go cold today as it goes offline.

Less than a year ago, Alinta Energy announced the station — which is the city's bigger employer — would close after the company struggled to compete with government-backed renewable energy.

The company closed its coal mine at Leigh Creek, which fuelled its Playford A power station late last year, but trainloads of coal have been making the journey to the power station several times a week until only recently. The mine had employed more than 250 people.

Alinta chief executive Jeff Dimery said the closure was sad for workers but inevitable. "The reality is, the technology we are using here is old, the cost structures are high and there's no longer a place for us in the market," Mr Dimery said. "It was inevitable. It is inevitable that more coal-fired power stations will close into the future."

He said some families had three generations who worked in energy production at the site, which started with the State Electricity Company.

Port Augusta's mayor Sam Johnson said the power station helped diversify the city's economy when it was a rail hub in the 1940s and 50s. "It gave a significant economic injection into Port Augusta both then and over its 62-year history," he said.

"[It's] a bit of a mixed feeling in Port Augusta at the moment and we've all known this now for the last 11 months that it is coming to an end. "It will have a big impact on Port August, big impact on the region and a big impact on the state."

Decommissioning to take up to two years

Mr Johnson said people had already left the area to find work elsewhere, but some had kept their houses with the intention to "return home". About 140 employees at the site will leave over the next fortnight, but some will stay on for decommissioning.

The decommissioning process could take about 18 months to two years to complete. The Playford B power station was mothballed in 2012.

Alinta Energy worker Gary Rowbottom said the mood at the station had been "fairly sombre". "I think everyone's feeling that sadness and wondering what comes next for them," Mr Rowbottom said.

SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the old coal-fired generator "was past its day". "The truth is, the reason it is closing is it couldn't make money in this market. The reason it can't make money in this market is even though it does pour in relatively cheap power into the grid, renewable energy is cheaper [due to subsidies]".


Identity politics is the enemy of equality

Australian campuses have become infested with victim politics

There is a growing obsession with victim politics on campus. It seems that certain groups are protected and everyone else is ignored or punished.

Take the recent events at one of Australia’s top universities. Outrage spread across the University of Melbourne campus following the discovery of anti-Islam graffiti. The chalked slogans, which were swiftly removed, stated ‘Islam is not a race’, ‘Stop the mosques’ and ‘Trump for president’.

The response was swift and furious. The vice-chancellor published a statement on Facebook within hours, asserting that the distressing and hurtful slogans ‘run counter to the vision of a safe, inclusive, connected and respectful university community’.

The University of Melbourne Students’ Union chimed in, denouncing the ‘hate speech and discrimination’ evident in the graffiti. The union proceeded to organise a ‘Chalk for Diversity’ morning, providing a free breakfast to students who wrote positive messages around campus.

But furious reaction to the graffiti was in stark contrast to way in which students and the university administration responded to another case of bigotry, just weeks earlier.

Hundreds of anti-Semitic flyers were distributed at the University of Melbourne during the first week of this academic year. The flyers, which were anonymously placed on car windscreens, stated that the Holocaust was ‘the greatest swindle of all time’ and that Holocaust Studies is ‘replete with nonsense, if not sheer fraud’.

In this case, the vice-chancellor did not take to Facebook to condemn them. In fact, the formal response to this disgraceful act was near silence. Neither the university nor the students’ union have condemned the flyers, and no events were organised to educate students about the Holocaust.

This isn’t just the case in Australia. At its recent annual conference, the UK National Union of Students (NUS) debated whether it should stop commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day. Unlike Muslims, women and gays, it seems Jewish students are not a chosen victim group.

In the name of justice and equality, certain identities are now given preferential treatment over others. Students’ union officials will often openly state that a white, male heterosexual has different political interests than a black, female homosexual, and so should be treated differently.

This is a tragedy. Identity politics diminishes both individuality and autonomy. You are defined by your category, speak for your group, and are responsible for the actions of others who share your identity.

And where a victim identity entitles you to special treatment, a privileged identity permits you to be punished. The recent bake sale organised by the University of Queensland Union illustrates this new mentality.

The union charged different amounts for cupcakes based on a student’s identity. If you were a white male, you had to pay a dollar. If you were a black woman in the legal profession, it cost just 55 cents. Rather than uphold equality, students were intentionally treated differently based on their supposed privilege, or lack thereof.

Such actions damage intellectual freedom on university campuses. Rather than consider views and ideas on their own merits, the identity of the person proposing them is now the first and foremost consideration in assessing their worth.

If a white male expresses a disagreeable opinion, they are instructed to ‘check their privilege’ before continuing. This argumentative technique presupposes whether or not a perspective is valid, purely based on who is expressing it.

Some people have also been forbidden from speaking altogether. At the Australian National Union of Students’ conference, men cannot speak during debates about women’s policy, nor can white people speak about ethno-cultural issues. Your identity is considered enough to silence your viewpoint.

Every individual should be judged according to their actions and the content of their character, not assessed collectively based on factors they cannot control. In the long run, treating everyone equally is the best guarantee against discrimination. But, in today’s student politics, equality is out of fashion.


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 May, 2016

Malcolm Turnbull confirms Australia will go to the polls on July 2

Malcolm Turnbull has set out his election agenda, following the calling of an historic double dissolution election.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced Australia will go to the polls on July 2 in a double dissolution election, launching an eight-week campaign.

The Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove earlier today gave his permission for Mr Turnbull to dissolve both houses of parliament, throwing open all 150 House of Representatives seats and 76 Senate places for election.

Mr Turnbull said there was a very clear choice at the election - to stick with the coalition's plans for jobs and growth or go to Labor whose policies "will stop our nation's transition to the new economy dead in its tracks."

"But if we embrace this future with confidence and with optimism, with self-belief and a clear plan, then we will succeed as we have never succeeded before," he said in Canberra.

He laid out his plan to return to government, citing innovation and science, Australian industry and high tech jobs, and getting young people into jobs as vital.

"These are exciting times. But we must embark on these times, embrace these opportunities, meet these challenges, with a plan and we have laid out a clear economic plan to enable us to succeed," he said.

He said his government had set up the stage for strong trade with China and Asia.


Election 2016: Prime Minister Turnbull's glittering prize

Rich and famous, combative, ambitious and a brilliant speaker.  Malcolm Turnbull's elevation to the Liberal leadership last September came with great expectation.

But the reality of being prime minister has rubbed away at least some of the gloss.

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull was a high achiever at Sydney Grammar School, took an arts/law degree from Sydney University and, as a Rhodes Scholar, a second law degree from Oxford.

While there, in 1980, he married Lucy Hughes, daughter of leading Sydney silk and Gorton government attorney-general Tom Hughes.

Lucy became Sydney's first female lord mayor and a business partner with her husband. They have two children.

The young lawyer became a household name in 1986 with the Spycatcher case in which he routed the British establishment's attempts to ban the memoir of former MI5 agent Peter Wright.

The following year, in partnership with Neville Wran and Nicholas Whitlam, he set up a merchant bank which quickly attracted establishment clients.

In 1994 he helped develop the internet provider Ozemail which he later sold for a big profit.

He went on to become chair and managing director of Goldman Sachs Australia and a partner in the global company.

Turnbull chaired the Australian Republican Movement from 1993 to 2000 and was its high profile public face in the 1999 referendum.

When it failed, he savaged John Howard as "the prime minister who broke this nation's heart".

In 2003, Turnbull, who was the Liberal Party's federal treasurer, ran for preselection against sitting MP Peter King in the seat of Wentworth and, after furious branchstacking on both sides, won.

He entered the following year and soon rose, becoming parliamentary secretary with responsibility for water in 2006 and, in January 2007, environment minister.

When Labor returned to power later in 2007, Turnbull ran for the leadership against Brendan Nelson and lost by three votes. He became treasury spokesman. But with Nelson languishing in the polls, Turnbull challenged the following year and reversed the result. He lasted a little over a year as opposition leader.

Turnbull's dangerous impatience was displayed in the Godwin Grech affair when he used what turned out to be false claims by an obviously flaky Treasury official against Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan over a funding scheme for car dealerships.

His support for Labor's emissions trading scheme put him offside with his party and Tony Abbott unseated him by one vote in December 2009.

Turnbull came very close to quitting politics. But in the end he decided to stay on and when Abbott came to power in 2013 Turnbull became communications minister with, among other things, the challenge of sorting out Labor's very expensive and behind-schedule NBN.

He regularly entertained parliament with savagely witty attacks on Labor. Generally he kept to his portfolio, though as the storm clouds gathered around Abbott he made a potentially provocative speech about leadership.

His political life has been troubled by wanting to do everything yesterday.

He can be a bully - fellow republican campaigner Tim Costello recalls: "When you're on the wrong end of Malcolm it's terrifying, the thunder in the face and ... the tongue lashing."

He doesn't suffer fools gladly - and there are always fools in any party room whose sensitivities can't be ignored. But his capacity, his skills, and the power of his personality are undeniable.



Three current articles below

A teacher has warned men not to join the profession after enduring two-year investigation

A TEACHER of 35 years experience has warned young men against joining the profession after enduring an investigation into an alleged incident with a student that lasted close to two years and left him mentally scarred.

The southern suburbs man has detailed the isolating and humiliating "farce" he was put through when investigated by the Education Department, which has revealed it finalised 80 disciplinary matters involving teachers and other staff last year.

"It goes from zero to psycho in an instant," the teacher said of the investigation into whether he inappropriately touched a student, which he estimated would have cost taxpayers $250,000.

"I am so pissed off because of the indignity of what I had to go through.  "It must cost (the department) millions each year chasing frivolous or vexatious complaints that should be at least attempted to be resolved at the local level.

"I would discourage any young guy from going into teaching."

The Australian Education Union says cases often run for well over a year and as long as three years, arguing principals should be allowed to deal with many of them to resolve them faster.

But the Department says the delays are out of its control as it must wait for any police investigations and court cases to end before it can finalise its own actions, which are slowed by interventions from the union and the accused’s lawyers.

A spokesman acknowledged the process was "stressful" but said investigations had to be robust to ensure "the safety and wellbeing of the children in our care".

Investigations can cover allegations of abuse or assault, financial wrongdoing, sexual harassment and a range of other matters. Last year 27 allegations were "substantiated with findings" and in three cases staff resigned prior to an outcome. Another 17 were handled through "managerial processes" and 33 were unsubstantiated. The department would not detail outcomes of substantiated cases or say how much it spends on investigations.

The physical education teacher, 60, was stood down from his job at a suburban primary school in 2014.

He was kept in the dark for six months about basic details of the accusation until he was interviewed by police who did not lay charges. He maintained his innocence through the department’s investigation and was sent a "cold and calculating" letter early this year ordering him back to work.

But suffering severe anxiety and panic attacks and diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, he is taking sick leave and long service leave to recover and hopes to teach again next year.


White flight: race segregation in Melbourne state schools

"White flight" is shaping education in Melbourne's inner city state schools, leading to unofficial segregation along race and class.

In the Greens-voting socially liberal enclaves of the inner north, white middle class families have deserted the schools closest to the remaining commission housing towers, while competing for spots in a handful of schools seen to have greater prestige.

Schools such as Fitzroy Primary, Carlton Primary School and Mount Alexander College in Flemington have become catchments for poor students of African heritage, many of whom live in the flats. Between 71 to 94 per cent of students attending these schools speak a language other than English at home.

The average median house price in some of these school's suburbs teeters around $1 million, yet about 60 to 80 per cent of students at these schools are among the poorest in the state.

They've been called "sink schools" – schools drained of affluent families and high achieving students.

White families with higher incomes are opting to enrol their children in over-subscribed schools a few suburbs away.

They favour Clifton Hill, Princes Hill and Merri Creek primary schools, where 79 to 84 per cent of families are among the state's richest.

These schools – with just 10 to 30 per cent of students speaking a language other than English at home – offer accelerated programs, overseas trips and boast above-average NAPLAN scores.

Abeselom Nega, an Ethiopian refugee and community leader, is alarmed by this trend.

"The white parents don't send their kids to these schools because all they see is black kids," says Mr Nega, who sits on the board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

"They may not view it as racism, but it is … you can sugar coat it, and put it differently, but I won't."


Sydney’s public school popularity driving real estate mini-boom

A surge in the popularity of public schools throughout Sydney is driving a real estate mini-boom in catchment areas.

With enrolments in public schools rising 6.4 per cent from 2012, and the NSW Department of Education announcing this week an investment of more than $60 million into new inner-Sydney schools to overcome a shortage of places, property agents have been overwhelmed by parents wanting to buy homes nearby.

"For the majority of families, couples and blended families, that’s now their No. 1 factor when looking for a home," says Curtis Associates buyers agent Chris Curtis.

"It’s always been important, but probably the changing boundaries and the fiscal burden of private education are making being close to public schools even more of a priority. I think it’ll get more important too, as time goes by. If the state government steps up to the plate and provides more public schools where they’re desperately needed, then demand for those areas will be higher still."

On February census figures, there are 494,102 children being enrolled this year in public schools in the Sydney metropolitan area, as against 464,343 in 2012. The Education Department attributes the rise to changing parental choices, retention rates between grades and an overall increase in the number of school-aged children.

Business development manager Jillian Cook is one mum who’s switching her allegiance from private schools to public, choosing to move house from Maroubra to within the catchment area of Bellevue Hill Public School. This week she enrolled her youngest, four-year-old Samantha, into the public school – despite having her two eldest daughters, Jessica, 13, and Charlotte, 10,  at private girls’ school Ascham

"Bellevue Hill Public School is a very good school and I think it’ll suit her more than the private school," says Cook, 42. "We just don’t feel there’s a lot of value for money in going to private school, and we’re quite happy to put her in a co-ed public school.

"The way they teach reading and writing at Ascham, I no longer believe in. So we were happy to move to Bellevue Hill and to make sure we were in that catchment area."

The public schools-driven demand for property is also having an effect on prices, says Mark Cook, principal of Richardson and Wrench St Ives-Turramurra. "We’re seeing a strong surge in demand for people who want to send their children to good public schools, particularly from newcomers to the area," he says.

"St Ives North is now rated highly and, as a result, St Ives Chase in the narrow catchment area has probably jumped up in value 10-15 per cent. Once, it wasn’t popular at all, but now people are buying for very good prices."

The catchment neighbourhoods for public schools with particularly glowing reputations, such as Killara High, Killarney Heights High,  Summer Hill Public and Newtown Public, are especially sought after.

Chadwick Killara agent Pamela McCulloch says the location of a home within a sought-after school zone can be a non-negotiable point for many buyers. "You are aware when you have a property in a very popular school zone that it creates more competition between buyers, which in turn is likely to lead to a higher price," she says.

Century 21 Northside agent Jason Roach agrees. "The accessibility to high-quality public education, like Killara High, is an important component in people’s decisions about where to buy," he says. "And certainly with the changing demographic of buyers coming through, many from Asia, it’s becoming even more important."

In Newtown, McGrath Estate Agents’ Josh Martin says for many buyers at openings, their first question is whether a house is in the catchment area. "So demand is strong," he says. "We hear stories of some people renting just to stay in those areas."

Along with the increasing demand, parents are often going to extraordinary lengths to be allowed to send their children to schools – one parent saying he knows others who rent for a year to qualify, and then move somewhere cheaper – and the schools sometimes check on the addresses to make sure their students are still there.  

Killara High School’s enrolment policy includes parents having to submit rate notices or tenancy agreements, and three utility account statements, such as electricity, water, telephone or gas, to show they’re resident.


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 May, 2016


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is cynical about the forthcoming election but thinks Turnbull will win

A reluctant defence of Australia's illegal immigration policy

By Jonathan Holmes

Nick Riemer has a choleric response to the article below on New Matilda -- but I can't see that he offers any arguments that hold water.  I am amused that he waxes righteous about what is the "moral" thing to do.  Stopping unauthorized arrivals is immoral, apparently. I wonder how he deduces that?  And since he and his ilk would in other contexts argue that "there is no such thing as right and wrong", I can't see that he has any basis for his moral claims at all.  As I pointed out long ago, Leftists who use moral claims are just being manipulative and dishonest. 

And -- OF COURSE -- stopping the boats is RACIST!  Everything that Leftists disagree with is racist.  So how does Herr Riemer (Riemer is a German and Yiddish name for a maker of leather reins and similar articles) decide that it is racist?  Because the illegals are brown.  But they mostly are not.  Iranians and Afghans are white -- not as white as Northern Europeans but no darker than Southern Italians.  And seeing that Australia accepts immigrants of all races through legal channels, the racism accusation is patently absurd anyway.

So I can't see that Riemer has any basis for his opposition to immigration control at all.  He certainly does not show that it is in Australia's best interests to accept poorly educated arrivals who subscribe to a barbaric religion and who often hate us and who mostly become welfare dependent. All he has is his rage and his faux morality.   The rage could be faux too.

I doubt that he would be happy about a third world family moving into his house and living there without his permission -- but other Australians should accept the something very similar, apparently.  Australians are not allowed to regard their country as their home.  He wants to deny their government the selectivity that he himself would exercise.

But now for Jonathan Holmes. I have omitted the initial throat clearing:

During the so-called "Tampa" election in 2001, I was the executive producer of the ABC's 7.30 Report. Every time we aired an item that was in any way sympathetic to boat people, we would get a flood of reaction from viewers: outraged, furious, bitter. It gave me some inkling of the tide that was washing into MPs' electoral offices.

And nowhere more than in western Sydney and western Melbourne, the heartlands of Australia's post-war immigrant population, where to have parents who were native English speakers made you the exception, not the rule.

These were people who had stood in the "queue" that others called fictional, who had waited years for the family reunion scheme to bring their wives and kids and parents to Australia; who had relatives and friends hoping desperately to join them; who knew that every boat person allowed to stay was one fewer of their own people who'd be admitted through the off-shore humanitarian visa intake.

They are also the parts of Australia where most people know someone who arrived by boat. They know about the networks of agents set up by people-smugglers, have seen the phone calls to families in Malaysia and Indonesia.

In three Four Corners programs (links here, here and here) that made far less impact than they deserved, Sarah Ferguson revealed beyond doubt that the criminal people-smuggler networks are not just a fantasy dreamt up by immigration ministers. They exist. And a lot of Australians know it. They don't see why people who can pay criminals should be able to buy a chance at a life they themselves had to get by legal means.

I still see the opposition to boat people dismissed by refugee advocates as "racist". That's a fundamental misunderstanding. Australia is rightly proud of its immigration program. It has created one of the most diverse and successful multi-ethnic nations in the world. The reason the boat people had to be stopped was that – justifiably or otherwise – they were undermining Australians' belief in a fair and orderly immigration program.

But, say many of the current policy's opponents, there are other solutions. In this four-year-old blog on the ABC's Religion and Ethics site, Aly argues that it's just a matter of taking more refugees from Indonesia. If people could get here legitimately, they wouldn't risk the boats. The Guardian's Richard Ackland put much the same proposition just last week.

Both blithely ignore that the people in Indonesia and Malaysia who want to come to Australia are not Indonesians or Malaysians. Overwhelmingly, they are Hazaras from Afghanistan, and Iranians; if the way to Australia were open, they would now be Syrians too.

They've already travelled a long way – helped by people smugglers – to get to Indonesia, and there are hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, more where they came from.

Taking a large proportion of would-be Australian migrants from Indonesia would only induce more to follow; very soon there would be far more than any orderly migration program could accommodate. The Indonesians and Malaysians would not thank us for that. That's why we source so much of our refugee intake from camps close to where they've fled from: Somalis and Sudanese from Kenya, Afghans from Pakistan, and so on.

As Europe is discovering, there is an almost limitless demand, through the Middle East, and central Asia, and Africa, for a better, safer life. Whether these people are "genuine refugees" or "economic migrants" may matter to the lawyers, but is immaterial in policy terms.

The brutal fact is that we cannot take them all. We cannot, without risking social disruption, take more than a tiny fraction of them. And as John Howard famously said, it should be our government that decides who comes to this country, not a free-for-all scramble for a place on a leaky boat.

For the poor souls who are its victims, the "Pacific Solution" has provided a living hell. I doubt their agony can be justified philosophically. I don't believe we should be sheltered from it by censorship. I hope, somehow, that it can soon be ended.
But I don't know what the alternative policy should have been in the past, or could be in the future.


Mobile phones DON'T increase the risk of brain cancer, 30-year study concludes

Research relies on fact that all cases of cancer are recorded in Australia

By epidemiologist Professor Simon Chapman, of the University of Sydney

There is no link between mobile phones and brain cancer, a landmark study has revealed.  Researchers found no increase in tumours over the last 29 years, despite an enormous increase in the use of the devices.

In Australia, where the study was conducted, 9 per cent of people had a mobile phone in 1993 - a number which has shot up to 90 per cent today.  But in the same period, cancer rates in people aged 20 - 84 rose only slightly in men and remained stable in women.

There were 'significant' rises in tumours in the elderly, but the increase began five years before mobile phones arrived in Australia in 1987, the researchers said.

The study's author, Professor Simon Chapman, of the University of Sydney, said phones emit non-ionising radiation that is not currently thought to damage DNA - and his findings make him even more confident the devices are not liked to cancer.

Earlier this year, Australia saw a whirlwind tour from the electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones alarmist Devra Davis.  Davis is an international champion of the belief that populations bathed in radiation emitted by mobile phones face epidemics of disease – particularly brain cancer.

Davis' concerns were the focus of an ABC Catalyst program which attracted widespread criticism, including from me and Media Watch.  The Catalyst presenter Maryanne Demasi was nominated for the Australian Skeptics bent spoon award.

At the time of the Catalyst program for which I declined to be interviewed, I had my hands tied behind my back.

Along with colleagues in cancer research, I had a paper in preparation examining the possible association between the incidence of brain cancer in Australia and the inexorable rise of mobile phone use here over the last three decades.

Releasing our findings would have jeopardised publication, we could say nothing about what we had concluded.

Today the paper is published in early view in Cancer Epidemiology. Here's what we set out to examine and what we found.

We examined the link between age and incidence rates of 19,858 men and 14,222 women diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia between 1982-2012, and national mobile phone usage data from 1987-2012.

Extremely high proportions of the population have used mobile phones across some 20-plus years -from about 9 per cent in 1993 to about 90 per cent today.

We found age-adjusted brain cancer incidence rates (in those aged 20-84 years, per 100,000 people) had risen only slightly in males but were stable over 30 years in females.

There were significant increases in brain cancer incidence only in those aged 70 years or more.

But the increase in incidence in this age group began from 1982, before the introduction of mobile phones in 1987 and so could not be explained by it.

Some 90 per cent of the population use mobile phones today and many of these have used them for a lot longer than 20 years. But we are seeing no rise in the incidence of brain cancer against the background rate

Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and related techniques, were introduced in Australia in the late 1970s.

They are able to discern brain tumours which could have otherwise remained undiagnosed without this equipment.

It has long been recognised that brain tumours mimic several seemingly unrelated symptoms in the elderly - including stroke and dementia - and so it is likely that their diagnosis had been previously overlooked.

Next, we also compared the actual incidence of brain cancer over this time with the numbers of new cases of brain cancer that would be expected if the 'mobile phones cause brain cancer' hypothesis was true.

Here, our testing model assumed a ten-year lag period from the start of mobile phone usage to evidence of a rise in brain cancer cases.

Our model assumed that mobile phones would cause a 50 per cent increase in incidence of brain cancer.

This was a conservative estimate that we took from a study by Lennart Hardell and colleagues (who reported even higher rates from two studies). The expected number of cases in 2012 (had the phone hypothesis been true) was 1,866 cases, while the number recorded was 1,435.

Using a recent paper that had Davis as an author we also modelled a 150 per cent increase in brain cancer incidence among heavy users.

We assumed that 19 per cent of the Australian population fell into this category, based on data from the INTERPHONE study an international pooled analysis of studies on the association between mobile phone use and the brain. This would have predicted 2,038 expected cases in 2012, but only 1,435 were recorded.

Our study follows those published about the United States, England, the Nordic countries and New Zealand where confirmation of the 'mobile phones cause brain cancer' hypothesis was also not found.

In Australia, all cancer is recorded. At diagnosis, all cases must by law be registered with state registries tasked with collecting this information. It has been this way for decades. So we have excellent information about the incidence of all cancers on a national basis.

The telecommunications industry of course also has information on the number of people with mobile phone accounts.

While touring Australia, Davis was confronted with the 'flatline' incidence data on brain cancer.  Her stock response was that it was far too early to see any rise in these cancers. She was here to warn us about the future.

Davis would appear to be arguing that we would see a sudden rise many years later. That is not what we see with cancer; we see gradual rises moving toward peak incidence, which can be as late as 30-40 years (as with lung cancer and smoking).

We have had mobiles in Australia since 1987. Some 90 per cent of the population use them today and many of these have used them for a lot longer than 20 years.

But we are seeing no rise in the incidence of brain cancer against the background rate.


Australia is now able to resettle genuine refugees from all over the world

Alexander Downer , Australian High Commissioner to the UK, replies to the Financial Times


I think we are all aware that in an era of unprecedented prosperity the rising tide against governments is at least partly driven by media hysteria drawing on half-truths and rumours. Your editorial "Australia must act to shut its offshore camps" (May 2), about Australia’s offshore refugee processing centres, is a case in point. You accuse a country that takes 200,000 migrants a year, including more than 25,000 resettled refugees, of "xenophobia" and claim, without any apparent knowledge of the terms of the 1951 Refugees Convention, that Australia is in breach of international law.

Australia is a country that is proud to uphold the rule of international law. It was Australia’s sense of humanity that drove it to setting up offshore processing centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. When Australians watched scenes on television of people who paid people smugglers being dashed against the rocks of Christmas Island, and when they heard of hundreds being drowned between Indonesia and Australia, they felt they’d had enough. Nearly all Australians agree: offshore processing is not ideal but it has destroyed the people smugglers’ business model.

We are now able to resettle genuine refugees in their thousands from all over the world, we are able to build our national population in an orderly way, and we have a public that overwhelmingly supports immigration and rejects extremist political parties.

Australia has handled the very difficult issue of irregular migration better than many. I will avoid the temptation to draw comparisons between our considered and orderly approach and the humanitarian chaos and loss of life elsewhere.


Wreckage of Clive Palmer’s legacy lies strewn across Australia

In most political obituaries of Australians who have served the ­electorate, it is possible to describe their positive contributions to public life. But not for the first time, Clive Frederick Palmer, 62, who yesterday signalled the end of his ­career in federal parliament’s lower house as the member for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, pending a possible switch to the Senate, breaks the mould.

The wreckage of his legacy is strewn across Australia.

It is in the homes and small businesses of his constituents in Fairfax, where his mismanagement of a resort caused it to close, costing more than 650 jobs and harming the fragile economy of beachside Coolum.

It is symbolised by the "For Sale" signs outside the homes of some of the 1000 employees who have lost their jobs over the period of his ownership and micro­management of a poorly run ­nickel refinery in Townsville.

It is on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park near his refinery’s ponds of toxic sludge that, through negligence and a cavalier defiance of regulatory authorities, spilled despite warnings of imminent risk.

It is in the public funds, stumped up by Australia’s tax­payers, that will need to be drained to pay for the refinery workforce’s lawful entitlements such as redundancy, long service leave and holiday leave, because Palmer siphoned tens of millions of dollars from the accounts for his own use.

It is in the relationship with China which, after being per­suaded by Palmer’s assurances about a very mediocre iron ore province, has spent more than $10 billion on this lemon, and now budgets millions of dollars a year on ­lawyers to protect its interests from his ­impulsive actions as a ­serial litigant.

And it is in much of the dysfunction of the Senate, to which he introduced Tasmania’s Jacqui Lambie, Western Australia’s Zhenya Wang and Queensland’s Glenn Lazarus in 2013.

While sowing chaos in Can­berra, Palmer also made a major contribution to the 2015 collapse of the Campbell Newman-led Liberal National Party government after the then premier and his deputy, Jeff Seeney, flatly rejected the tycoon’s repeated demands for preferential treatment of his coal province in central Queensland.

Fortunately for Labor’s Annastacia Palaszczuk, her minority Labor-led government, which has held the reins for 15 months, has not been buffeted by the Palmer United Party’s founder. His rocky relationship with the previous Labor government culminated in him issuing proceedings for defamation against then Labor pre­mier Anna Bligh and her treasurer Andrew Fraser, who were defen­dants in the Supreme Court before Newman and Seeney copped their defamation writs. All those cases are now settled.

But yet to be settled is Palmer’s political future. He knows that in Fairfax he is a shot duck. The ­voters cannot stand him. Those who voted for him in September 2013 are keeping their heads down — it is social death up there for his constituents to admit he was first choice on their ballot papers. He is, however, positioning for a tilt at the Senate.

He was pressed about it by Sky News hosts Peter van Onselen and former New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally yesterday, but Palmer first wanted to promote "some of our new policies for the Senate — one of them is that parliamentarians should leave parliament with no entitlements — that to serve the community is more important than serving your own pocket. So if people want to come to parliament they should come to do what good they can do and not leave with any entitlements at all".

It sounds eerily similar to the policy deployed at his Townsville nickel refinery, where the staff did their best and did indeed leave without any entitlements at all.

Asked about the Senate, he ­replied: "Well, it’s a live option. But, you know, I’m such an ­unpopular person in the country. And if I watch Sky News and Paul Murray, I’m just convinced that I’m a totally useless person and I’ve never contributed anything for this country or this ­nation, (so) why would people want to vote for me?"

It is a fair question. Why would anyone vote for Palmer? Three years ago when he announced himself as a "multi-billionaire" candidate for the federal seat of Fairfax — and the next prime ­minister — some of us at The ­Australian, and particularly in his stamping ground of Queensland, knew this would not end well.

Palmer had become very prominent, very quickly, aided by a great deal of free political ­advertising disguised as journalism from a fawning, unquestioning media. He racked up tens of thousands of kilometres a week in 2013, crossing Australia in one of his four jets, announcing candidates in 150 seats under the banner of the Palmer United Party, and getting prime airtime.

He could not be too choosy in his haste to leave a national political footprint. Several of his party’s candidates were members of his family. Others were ­members of the executive and management teams of his failing businesses.

One of them told the ABC’s 7.30 during those halcyon days that if Palmer instructed him to go to the moon, he would indeed try hard to go.

But for several Queensland watchers of Palmer’s juggernaut back then, it felt like history was on a repeating loop.

Palmer was a colourful character from the Gold Coast who, in his early years as a political maverick, had been in the ear of a deluded Joh Bjelke-Petersen, urging the then premier to run for PM.

Joh also made extravagant promises as he strutted the ­national stage but he fell in a big heap amid Queensland’s police corruption scandal and the ensuing Fitzgerald inquiry. ­Before being bundled back to Kingaroy, however, his "Joh for PM" campaign also doomed John Howard’s.

Palmer — like anyone running to be prime minister — was fair game for close scrutiny. And that was before you weigh the contradictions of a property and resources tycoon referring to himself, in private letters, media releases and serious financial documents, as "Professor" when he did not complete university; or promising in 2013 that he was building a replica of the Titanic at a shipyard in China’s Jinling when the shipyard’s owners saw no cash or contract for a half-billion-dollar undertaking; or calling himself a billionaire mining magnate when he does no mining and has never been a billionaire.

But he was fortunate because several of Australia’s most influential and widely watched media outlets had joined his cheer squad. Senior journalists granted unfettered access to him did not take ­advantage of multiple oppor­tunities to test his increasingly ­extravagant claims.

Completely spurious assertions from Palmer in his quest for attention on the way to building a political platform were accepted as gospel truth. The ABC’s Australian Story led the charge early on with profiles in which Palmer looked down the barrel of the camera and said a Chinese company, Citic ­Pacific, was paying him "royalty every year which is equivalent to about $500 million or something like that".

He added: "We developed a $7 billion project in the Pilbara, a new port at Port Preston. We ­employed about 8000 people at our joint venture."

It should have been an early clue to Palmer’s extraordinary propensity for telling huge porkies on a fairly regular basis. He ­repeatedly made these fanciful claims that he received a royalty of about $500m a year from the Chinese. He undoubtedly wanted it to be true. It was also a political boost — the appearance of extra­ordinary wealth in a maverick who wants to be a leader is attrac­tive to voters, as Donald Trump has discovered.

Those early claims about how he developed a $7bn project in the Pilbara in Western Australia, ­employing 8000 people, were fiction. The project and the employees were wholly funded by the Chinese, yet he peddled these ­untruths without challenge.

His other early claims of ­exquisite skill were said to be in ­litigation. Palmer boasted of a perfect ­record — almost 70 cases, and never a loss. These claims of great legal prowess were false, too. During an SBS interview when Ellen Fanning challenged his claim about his 100 per cent success rate in court — and reminded him that he had been trounced by Frank Lowy — Palmer’s response to being caught out was a classic: he reckoned he would have won if it had gone to appeal.

He has claimed that as a boy he sat on the knee of Mao Zedong in China. And that he had a plea­sant exchange in the rose garden of the last emperor of China, Puyi.

About my own journalism and a stint in London 25 years ago, he once texted me: "Remember when u use live Buckingham Palace and write stories that said ‘sources close to Buckingham Palace said’?

"And u use to make up stories about the Royal Family. Not interested in fantasy from a 4th class Jurno that we will be suing."

I tried to explain that for the two years I lived in London, I could not afford to rent anywhere but south of the Thames — right on Brixton Road at The Oval.

He has repeatedly claimed that our investigations of him only started because Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, wanted it.

We were accused by Palmer of involvement in a supposed Watergate-style break-in at his offices and the theft of a computer, which he said held some of the documents that fell into our hands.

One of these documents was a legal letter he instructed his lawyers to write to CITIC ­Pacific in March 2013, demanding the ­Chinese company pay him $200m ­urgently or everyone would be axed from their jobs. The letter’s forecast about the job ­losses and his financial crunch were prescient.

The claims about our connection to a break-in were rubbish but they did divert the media for a day in the news cycle.

But Palmer is often paranoid and conspiratorial. He has insisted in federal parliament that ASIO bugs his offices. When his former security chief, Mike Hennessy, told Palmer in 2013 that his ­luxury car was covered in bugs after a two-hour drive from the Gold Coast to the Coolum resort, the colour drained from the ­tycoon’s face.

Palmer’s purchase of the Hyatt resort from Lend Lease Corporation and his promises to keep things humming along were ­another large clue to his character shortly before he entered politics.

He renamed this respected destination the Palmer Coolum ­Resort, rebadged its restaurant as the Palmer Grill, hung framed photographs of himself on the main wall of the five star foyer, put the ABC’s Australian Story profile of him on a continuous loop on TVs in the holiday accommodation, and ordered fibreglass dinosaurs to turn the grounds into Jurassic Park.

He lost the annual Australian PGA Championship event after parking a bulldozer on the green and warning it would be torn up unless he got his way in the ­negotiations.

TripAdvisor’s published resort reviews were thrilling and funny. One guest wrote: "There are cars in restaurants and colour photocopies of Clive Palmer in the foyer, not to mention the once lovely PGA course ruined by Dinosaurs. I woke up on day 2 hoping I was dreaming."

Another guest wrote: "Every wall is covered with photos of Clive with various heads of state. His vintage cars sit all over the place, including the Captain’s Table and the reception. The golf putting green has been ripped up as a ­repository for more vintage cars.

"Dinosaurs are plonked on the resort and pieces of them are awaiting assembly stored behind a restaurant. Titanic II flags drape in odd locales, with vintage cars and dinosaurs.

"Should the Palmer Political Party get going and the same management style be adopted, Australia is doomed."

Palmer is changing horses now. From the House of Representatives, he is likely to try his luck in the Senate.

Even as regulatory authorities, liquidators, creditors, the Chinese, the sacked workers and others want him held to account, Palmer is still backing himself. It’s ­evidence that while he may have been the most disastrous politician in recent memory, he’s got the thickest skin.


Federal election 2016: Labor lays bare class warfare campaign

After months of subliminal sneers about Malcolm Turnbull’s personal wealth making it impossible for him to understand ordinary taxpayers, Labor has laid bare a campaign of class warfare in its response to the budget.

Two weeks ago Bill Shorten labelled the Prime Minister a "rich man’s Tony Abbott" in a double sledge at his wealth and continuance of 2014 budget cuts.

Labor intends to use Turnbull’s experience as a merchant banker and status as a multi-millionaire to brand him as defending the rich and being out of touch, and his first budget as unfair. Yesterday the Opposition Leader’s first two questions in parliament were not about the budget but bounced off comments Turnbull had made on ABC radio about wealthy parents "shelling out" to help their children buy a home. "Is that really the Prime Minister’s advice for young Australians struggling to buy their first home? Have rich parents?" Shorten said.

Earlier Shorten and Chris Bowen described the budget as unfair because it failed to give tax relief to 75 per cent of wage earners and was only good for "millionaires" and ­"billion-dollar companies".

Earlier Melbourne ABC radio host Jon Faine suggested Turnbull had ordered his financial affairs to avoid tax. Turnbull replied it was "unworthy" innuendo and he had "always paid a lot of tax".

"I am very conservative in the managing of my tax affairs, I can assure you, and the innuendo you made there is unworthy," the Prime Minister said.

Shorten further pursued the comments Turnbull made on the program about wealthy parents buying homes for their children by asking: "Can the Prime Minister confirm that in the past two weeks his advice to young Australians struggling to buy their first home is to have rich parents or to have parents who buy you a home when you turn one? Prime Minister, just how out of touch are you?"

Realising Labor’s basic attack would be over fairness and the lack of tax relief for those earning under $80,000 while those earning more — including MPs — would get $6 a week, Turnbull tried to deflate the ­attacks on him and the budget by declaring Labor was using the politics of envy.

"Labor is setting itself up for a war on business; they are setting themselves up for some kind of class war," he told ABC Radio National. "They are arguing that people who earn $80,000 a year are rich. Labor doesn’t want them to benefit from a tax cut. Labor presumably would like them to go into the second-top tax bracket. Now that’s the type of war of envy, the politics of envy, which absolutely stands in the way of aspiration and enterprise and growth."

After being asked twice in parliament about being out of touch, Turnbull picked up his earlier theme and said Labor was "sneering at aspiration" and conducting "a political war they wanted to ­foment against aspiration".

Scott Morrison also warned of Labor’s politics of envy and took an on-air shot at Shorten on the Nine Network when Shorten said to the Treasurer: "I guess it’s never been a more exciting time to be a millionaire".

Morrison replied: "You’d know all about that Bill, you’ve got plenty of mates in that category".

The class warfare tactic from Labor is not new although personalising it to Turnbull adds a new dimension.


6 May, 2016

Calls for Victorian curriculum to say Australia was invaded, not settled

This is just Leftists stirring up hatred.  When the English arrived in Australia, they didn't come waving swords and muskets.  They didn't need to.  There were no spear-wielding bands of warriors to confront.   From behind cover, the Aborigines mostly just stood and stared in amazement and fear. As time went by there were isolated violent clashes but settlement was nothing like an invasion, as we normally conceive it

The picture I have just drawn is a traditional one but in the second half of the 20th century, Leftist historians set to work to demonize white settlement.  And they told monstrous lies in the process.  Zero Aboriginal deaths in some incidents became 10,000 deaths, for instance.  Keith Windschuttle has however caught them out

Education Minister James Merlino has reignited debate about whether the curriculum should refer to Australia being invaded rather than settled. It follows the Minister recently declaring that in the eyes of Aboriginal people, Australia was invaded rather than settled.

Aboriginal leaders and advocates are calling for change, and say it is inaccurate to tell students that Australia was settled by Europeans.

Victorian Aboriginal Education Association general manager Lionel Bamblett said that he would prefer to see the term invasion in the curriculum.

"Settlement is inaccurate," he said. "From an Aboriginal viewpoint we believe there was an invasion. We also know that sometimes that causes a fair degree of concern in the general population, and at one stage we tended to settle on the use of the word colonisation."

In March, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that Australia was invaded and schools had been lying to students for too long.

Mr Merlino made his comments in a speech about trust and the media that he delivered last month at RMIT. "Look at the Daily Telegraph's page one assault on universities for having the temerity to state the obvious — that European settlement in Australia was, for Indigenous Australians, an invasion," Mr Merlino said.

But he told The Age that he was not considering changes to the curriculum, despite its references to settlers and settlement.  "Victorian students are already taught about Australian history from a number of perspectives," he said.  "It is important for students to understand the different historical interpretations and debates surrounding our nation's history."

The curriculum states that year 9 students should consider "the effects (unintended and intended) of contact" between "European settlers" and Indigenous peoples. This includes massacres of Aboriginal people, "their killing of sheep" and the Stolen Generation. It predominantly refers to European "settlement" of Australia, and sometimes uses the term "colonisation". It never refers to invasion in an Australian context.

University of Melbourne masters student Elizabeth Muldoon – who is also a history teacher at a state school– said the Australian curriculum was misleading.

"The little Indigenous history included in it is telling a really one-sided story. It emphasises the struggles that Aboriginal people have fought for civil rights as opposed to land rights and the right to self determination."

She tells her students that for Aboriginal people, Australia was invaded rather than settled. "For Aboriginal people, colonisation was a violent process so invasion is more appropriate. Settlement obscures the violence, and implies that it was peaceful and the land was vacant," she said.

Reconciliation Australia co-chair Tom Calma said the term "settlement" was too passive. "Wherever a settlement took place there was conflict, it was fairly bloody. They didn't peacefully negotiate anything, they just killed people. "You get some ultra conservatives who want to mask what happened versus reality."

The new Victorian curriculum incorporates and reflects most of the Australian curriculum, and is being rolled out across the state.


Asbestos-laden building materials slipping into Australia as result of weak regulation, report finds

The whole asbestos scare is conventionally correct but is utter nonsense.  There has NEVER been any proof of harm from asbestos in building and other products.  The only people harmed by asbestos were those involved in mining, fabricating and installing it.  There has never been any harm to the general public from products in their environment that incorporate asbestos.  I spent a significant part of my childhood living in a house lined with unpainted asbestos sheeting ("Fibro"), as did countless other Australians.  It was once a very fashionable building material.  And none of us came to any harm from it.  Asbestos is one of the many things that are harmful only if you are exposed to large amounts of it

Glaring weaknesses in regulations and border protection issues are allowing building products contaminated with potentially deadly asbestos into Australia, a Senate committee has warned.

In an interim report tabled late on Wednesday, the committee raised particular concern about "the ability of Australia's enforcement agencies to effectively police borders so that [contaminated products] are detected and prevented from entering Australia".

"At the moment, this area of enforcement appears to require substantial strengthening and should be a high priority for government," it read.

"The importation of banned materials, such as asbestos, raises very serious concerns about the capacity of Australian authorities to deal with this issue, particularly in light of our open and dynamic trade environment."

The report notes only two importers have been fined over asbestos-laced building material since tougher penalties were imposed in February 2014.

It said fines of up to $170,000 could be imposed, but only $64,000 in fines, penalties and costs had been issued since 2009.

The committee said the role of foreign governments in stopping contaminated products from leaving their shores should also be considered.

It has requested the inquiry be extended for a fourth time, to September 30, 2016, "due to the seriousness of the problem and the disjointed regulation of the use of building products, both manufactured in Australia and overseas".


    Government urged to address 'epidemic' Indigenous suicide rates in remote Australia

Like how?  Suicide is a very personal thing, well outside the competence of any government.  Governments could attack the causes of suicide but what is left to do?  Governments have tried all sorts of things to address  Aboriginal problems but nothing has worked

  Aboriginal communities across the nation are calling on the Federal Government to urgently address what they describe as an "epidemic" of Indigenous suicides in remote Australia.

The crisis is most acute in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, where a 10-year-old girl recently hung herself. Indigenous leaders there say the Federal Government must act now to prevent further deaths.

The call comes as the first-ever National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference begins tonight in Alice Springs.  Aboriginal people and health workers will travel from across Australia to attend the conference in the wake of escalating Indigenous suicide rates, particularly over the past five years.

The Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project, chaired by West Australian academic Pat Dudgeon and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Tom Calma, has been mapping suicide rates.  Mr Calma said suicide rates in remote Australia could be described as an epidemic. He said there had been a doubling of Indigenous suicide rates in the Kimberley during the past five years, and that the problem was larger than official statistics suggested because many deaths were never reported to the coroner.

He said that although the Government was preparing to implement a national suicide prevention strategy after July, there had been an unacceptable three-year delay in spending $17.8 million in funds earmarked for Indigenous suicide prevention. "We can't continually have these significant health issues become political footballs," Mr Calma said.  "It's disappointing.

The whole of Indigenous affairs is continually challenged by a lack of consistent policy direction and funding. And that's due to ministers and bureaucrats procrastinating.  "What we need in Indigenous affairs is good, bipartisan agreement on a way forward, and then we need to have a consistent policy approach and funding approach


John Birmingham: Australia Post's $9 pick-up service enough to make me go postal

Birmingham is basically a stirrer but he has some real arguments below

As a rule I try not to do business with criminal organisations. It never ends well.

Australia Post customers are furious at plans to charge them up to $9 if parcels aren't picked up within five days. Courtesy Seven News Melbourne.

Like most people, residual fondness and simple inertia kept me using the old dinosaur even as it cut services, increased prices and turned the local post office into a Two Dollar Shop full of one dollar crap with 10 dollar price tags. But this latest plan to charge people to pick up undelivered parcels is the end.

It seems Oz Post CEO Ahmed Fahour might have found the perfect way to finally kill off the business. Paying millions to his executive team while laying off 900 postal workers who actually did something useful like, you know, delivering the post, was a good start.

But shaking down punters to collect packages that have already been paid for by the sender is the coup de grace.I think it's almost certainly illegal. Oz Post has no contract with the recipient of the package, you see. The contract to deliver, for which payment has been made, was with the sender.

You can't forcibly create a contract for which payment is demanded just by holding onto somebody's stuff and putting out your hand. Not unless you're going into competition with the mafia. It's not just an insane way to blow up what's left of your business and drive people to the private couriers. It's extortion. There are laws against it.

Ahmed, you just can't do this, son.

According to one of Fahour's spokesdrones the plan to charge people to collect their own parcels is an exciting enhancement of the Post Office's customer service offerings, but this is such obvious bullshit that if Australia Post is subject to the Competition and Consumer Act it should be prosecuted for deceptive and misleading conduct; right after the organised crime squad have done them like a dinner for kidnapping your parcels and holding them ransom.

Fahour's "introductory offering" to his new "pick up" service will top out at $9 a parcel, if you miss the postie because you're at work or you simply don't hear them as they tippie-toe up the steps to knock ever so lightly on the door before running like crazy for the van, yelling at the getaway driver to put the pedal to the metal.

But you can expect the price to grow very quickly.

Eventually they won't even bother pretending to deliver. You'll just get a phone call from a heavy breather late at night. "JB, we got a little package here for you, brother. Looks fragile. Be a shame if anything happened to it."

The people who'll suffer the first blow, as ever, are the frontline staff.

Fahour and his well-paid executives won't have to answer to angry customers who've just been told they have to pay for a package they know the sender already paid for. The poor mugs on the front desk, however, will have to cop the rage of the poor mugs who've been forced to front up at the Two Dollar Shop and hand over nine dollars for something they didn't even buy in the first place – a simple parcel delivery.


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 May, 2016

Australia is closing 17 immigration detention centres

After key details from tonight’s federal budget by Scott Morrison emerged over the past week, government ministers began revealing details in parliament today.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton told parliament this afternoon that the closure of 17 onshore immigration detention centres will be announced in the Budget tonight.

"I’m pleased to announce ahead of the budget tonight that we will close 17 detention centres, resulting in 17 detention centres having been opened by Labor and 17 closed by this government," he said.

"We have reduced the number of children in detention from 2000 under Labor down to zero. We don’t want to see new boat arrivals and we absolutely are determined that we are not going to see men, women and children drowning at sea ever again in this country."

The minister did not specify which facilities would close, but Business Insider has been unable to find 17 centres.

The department immigration and border protection lists 10 on its website. The department runs five. Others are run by Serco and offshore, by Broadspectrum.

Australia’s oldest immigration detention sites are the 50-year-old Maribyrnong centre in Melbourne and Sydney’s Villawood detention centre, which are also used for other visa infringements by overseas visitors.

There are other centres in Perth, Christmas Island, Northern and Wickham Point in Darwin, Curtin and Yongah Hill in Western Australia. There are immigration transit accommodation centres in Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide for low-risk detainees and community-based family-style housing for detainees in Perth, Sydney, Port Augusta, Christmas Island and Adelaide.

Two years ago, when the treasurer was immigration minister, Scott Morrison closed four centres – Pontville, Scherger, Port Augusta and Leonora.

The announcement comes as the Turnbull government grapples with the future of 850 refugees and asylum seekers at the Manus Island detention centre, which the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court announced last week was illegal, leading PNG prime minister Lucas O’Neil to announce it would be closed.

The subsequent debate over what to do with the 850 men there — 450 have been declared genuine refugees — has seen the Australian government rule out bringing them to Australia and also turning down an offer by New Zealand to take 150 people, with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull saying it would be "marketing" for people smugglers.

Details emerged today that another refugee on Nauru had set themselves alight and is now in a critical condition in an Australian hospital. The 21-year-old Somali refugee, Hodan Yasin, self-immolated a fortnight after another refugee Omid Masoumali, 23, did and died from his injuries.

The minister has blamed asylum seeker advocates for the incidents, saying they were offering refugees "false hope".

"I have previously expressed my frustration and anger at advocates and others who are in contact with those in regional processing centres and who are encouraging some of these people to behave in a certain way, believing that that pressure exerted on the Australian Government will see a change in our policy in relation to our border protection measures," Dutton said.

"We are not going to change those policies, and the advocates, by providing false hope to these people, really [are] to be condemned."


Electric cars good for Australian miners

Due to the unprecedented interest in electric cars and renewable batteries, lithium miners are developing new projects across the state.

In the middle of iron ore country is one of the greatest discoveries of the sought-after resource, with Pilbara Minerals' Pilgangoora mine set to go into construction later this year.

It is one of 20 companies working to get lithium mining projects up and running in Western Australia.

"We are in essence going to be the world's number one lithium producer," Ken Brinsden, CEO of Pilbara Minerals, told 9NEWS.

The mine has promised hundreds of new jobs for unemployed FIFO workers. 

"(There is) excitement in the mining industry.  A commodity in demand and as result fantastic opportunities for Western Australia," Mr Brinsden said.

The interest in lithium is being pushed by the sales of electric cars, which currently account for three percent of the motor vehicle market and expected to reach 22 percent of the market by 2025.

Tesla is leading the charge — in a month it has already pre-sold 400,000 of the Model 3 electric car, even though it won't be released until 2018.

"Electric vehicles are coming," Kevin Johnson from Argonaut said.

"There is nothing you can do about it."


Game changing $170,000 melanoma treatment now subsidised by taxpayers

SUSAN Barlow watched her own mother die from a melanoma but has become a two time survivor of the disease herself thanks to a breakthrough new $170,000 treatment that will be subsidised from today.

The 53-year-old grandmother of three had a melanoma removed 25 years ago. But in 2013, while undergoing an operation for appendicitis, doctors found her appendix, lower intestines, liver and lung surrounded by secondary cancer.

"It was surreal, one big nightmare waking up and being told by the surgeon, I thought my life would be shortened," she says.

Susan’s doctor told her treatments for her advanced cancer were few and far between but he signed her up to a clinical trial for a breakthrough new drug Opdivo, which uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.

At the time of her diagnosis Susan’s daughter was pregnant with twins and she was desperate to live to see her new grandchildren.

Her sister was battling breast cancer and in August last year Susan’s mother was also diagnosed with melanoma and passed away very quickly eight months later.

She was unable to access the same clinical trial used by her daughter.

Susan responded well to the new treatment. "All my tumours have shrunk a fair bit, they’ve put me down as stable, the cancer is not progressing," she says.

The treatment makes her feel tired, she has lost pigment in her skin which now has white patches and she has had a rash and joint aches and pains.

However, she says she’s feeling good and has had none of the side effects that would have come with chemotherapy such as hair loss and nausea. "This drug has given me a chance to see my new grandkids," says the Adelaide resident.

Susan says there is no way she could have afforded the $170,000 treatment and she is pleased it is now subsidised. "Other people will get a chance and a hope," she says.

More than 12,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year in Australia and 1600 people die from the disease.  The melanoma capital of the world, we have more than 11 times the average global rate of melanoma.

Susan’s doctor Professor Michael Brown who was involved in clinical trials of Obdivo says the medicine is a "game changer".   "The most striking thing is that at one year 73 per cent of patients are alive on Obdivo," says the specialist from Royal Adelaide Hospital.  This compares to just 43 per cent who survived on standard chemotherapy treatment.

"The other striking thing is patients had tumours shrink 40 per cent on Opdivo compared to 17 per cent shrinkage on standard chemotherapy," he said. And patients whose tumours shrank maintained that shrinkage whereas on standard chemotherapy tumours began to grow again after six months, he said.

Typically only 15 per cent of patients with advanced melanoma survive for five years, a third of patients treated with Opdivo lived at least five years and the trial is still continuing.

"I’ve seen many big tumour masses shrink, it really can be dramatic," Professor Brown says. Around eight per cent of tumours shrink completely on the drug while one in three have some shrinkage.

The medicine is also useful in lung cancer and treble negative breast cancer but is not yet subsidised for these purposes.

Around 1500 patients with advanced melanoma are expected to benefit from the treatment that is delivered by injection every two weeks.


Laundry detergent pods dangerous to kids

I use these things so I am sad to hear of the harm they cause

Packets of brightly-coloured laundry detergent are hospitalising American children at an alarming rate, according to a new study that deemed them the most dangerous type of household detergent.

Research published in Pediatrics revealed that US medical centres receive over 60,000 calls a year from parents of children who have mistaken neatly-wrapped detergent sachets for candy.

The study found that one child every day is admitted to hospital with laundry detergent exposure, and on average two children die a year after fatally mistaking the detergent for something sweeter.

When broken down, this equates to the US Poison Control Centre receiving a call every 45 minutes with a child suffering the effects of detergent poisoning.

The finding ranks laundry detergent one of the most dangerous household items for kids, with dishwasher detergent – especially those hard tablets with a Jaffa-like ball in them – coming in at a close second.

Ingesting the contents of concentrated laundry detergent carries some pretty serious side effects.  After swallowing the liquid, it literally starts to clean your insides, causing burns to the lungs, breathing problems, coma, heart problems and eventually death.

This is because most laundry detergents are extremely alkaline, and cause the pH level in your body to change, potentially damaging every major organ.

Experts are now calling for parents with young children to use traditional bottled detergent, because the risk of packet confusion is simply too high.

"Many families don’t realise how toxic these highly concentrated laundry detergent packets are," says Marcel J Casavant, a chief toxicology doctor who co-authored the study.

"Use traditional laundry detergent when you have young kids in your home. It isn’t worth the risk when there is a safer and effective alternative available."

The trouble with detergent exposure is that parents have extremely little time to react, explains Dr Gary Smith, who also co-authored the study.

"A child only has to put this packet in their mouth and bite down, and as soon as it bursts, game over," Smith told the New York Post.

Smith is now calling for manufacturers to make their products safer for children by making them less appealing to the younger eye.

"Unless this unacceptably high number of exposures declines dramatically, manufacturers need to continue to find ways to make this product and its packaging safer for children."

Here in Australia, it’s estimated that about 50 children are admitted to hospital every week with the symptoms of poisoning.

The primary cause of this is inappropriate prescription or dosage of medicines, with the secondary cause being the consumption of household chemicals like kitchen and laundry powders, capsules and tablets.


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 May, 2016

Bex: Australia’s APC cure-all that was addictive and caused kidney damage (?)

Also once sold in the USA under names such as Anacin and Saridon

The story below is conventional but unbalanced.  Phenacetin is said to be the ingredient in APC powders that caused kidney damage but what does it metabolize to in the body? Paracetamol!  Precisely the analgesic that is now generally recommended.  How crazy can you get?  And paracetamol (aka acetaminophen) IS dangerous by itself, but not for its effect on the kidney. It destroys the liver!  It is very dosage-sensitive. If you take much more than the recommended dosage, you can die.

So how come people took huge doses of phenacetin and did NOT die of liver disease?  And aspirin in large doses can be toxic too, though not nearly as toxic as paracetamol.  So people were taking huge doses of both paracetamol and aspirin without experiencing the symptoms that should have gone with that.  So again, How come?

It seems that the APC combination produced some sort of beneficial drug interaction.  The three ingredients seemed to combine to eliminate the toxicity they had by themselves.  Stranger things have happened.  But divine miracles are rare so to a small degree the APC combination also caused some damage -- but only to the kidneys and only among heavy users of the powders.  And the mortality from liver disease is now much greater than the mortality that used to be experienced from kidney disease.

So APCs were in fact a wonder drug that became harmful only from heavy over-use.  And ANYTHING can be harmful in excess.  Even drinking too much water can kill you.  Google "hyponatremia" if you doubt it.

Another problem is that many Bex users went onto Valium instead when Bex was withdrawn -- with its attendant risk of making you drowsy when you're driving. So did the ban on Bex kill people in road accidents? Probably.

And a VERY important use of Bex was as an early treatment for what is still a dreaded and all too common ailment: migraines. Migraine sufferers generally get some warning when a migraine is due to strike, an aura, jaw stiffening etc. And as soon as anybody prone to migraines felt the slightest suspicion that one was about to strike, they would grab their nearby packet of Bex and slam one into themselves quick smart. And it did help. If you got the Bex into yourself straight away, the migraine would either not develop or would be less severe than a full-blown attack.

Now here's the final kicker: Something that is often prescribed for aches and pains these days is NSAIDS (Ibuprofen etc.). And guess what is a major side effects of NSAIDS? Kidney damage. NSAIDS are hundreds of times more toxic to the kidneys than Bex ever was. So let's ban NSAIDS!

So I know I am telling here a story that is at great variance with the conventional wisdom but everything I have said above is entirely factual.  There was some research in the 1960s that pointed to the benefits of the APC combination but it was not pursued, presumably because the usefulness of APCs was seen to be beyond question and needing no reinforcement

A more extensive coverage of the issues is here

I am inclined to suspect that the main reason for banning APCs such as Bex was because they were so popular.  That HAD to be bad

WHEN former prime minister Kevin Rudd told journalists speculating that he was trying to reclaim the Labor leadership to have "a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down", younger members of the media pack look puzzled.

They had not heard such an expression before, but to the children of the Baby Boomer generation, the phrase was immediately recognisable.

It was in the late 1950s and throughout the ’60s that the marketing slogan entered the vernacular. Bex, the analgesic made up of aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine (APC), became an Australian icon. It was recommended to treat aches and pains, headaches, colds, flu, fevers, rheumatism and for "calming down".

Dissolving a Bex (or the similar product, Vincent’s) in a cup of tea, or taken with other stimulants such as cola drinks became particularly common among housewives. It was widely available and sometimes taken up to three times a day.

Aggressive marketing from drug companies meant it was even common to pop a Bex or Vincent’s powder in children’s lunch boxes "just in case".

It wasn’t until the 1970s that doctors and health experts realised these formulations were responsible for kidney disease and addiction, and were carcinogenic. Phenacetin was finally pulled from the market by the late ’70s. But the damage had already been done. In the years that followed World War II, Australia led the world in APC consumption — and in the number of deaths it eventually caused.

Women resorted to "a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down" so often that in 1965 it became the title of a popular play by John McKellar.

The phrase is still instantly recognised by the children of that generation. So many people had an aunt, a mother, a sister, or a friend who were addicted to APCs. Many of them died from related kidney disease.

Readers of our Adelaide Remember When Facebook page recently responded to a post on the Bex phenomenon with memories of their own experiences.

Rick Cooper wrote: "For a while, I lived in Hamley Bridge and the railway was the playground, transport and just about everything else for us kids. At one stage, Vincent’s had a sign on every fence along the railway lines with the countdown in miles until you reached Adelaide. The blue, yellow and white signs said ‘X miles to relief with Vincent’s powders’."

Trish Simpson recalled how her father was addicted to Bex and ended up with terrible kidney problems: "We always had Bex in the house and I remember taking them when I was younger. Eventually they removed the damaging ingredient and Bex wasn’t as effective. Not sure how much longer they survived after that."
Vincent’s Powders and Bex with aspirin and cold medicine on the shelf in 1979.

Deborah Wise reminisced that as a child she loved Bex: "If we had a sore throat, Mum would mix a powder in a teaspoon of honey. Man, it tasted good! I suppose it eased the symptoms as well. I’m pretty sure that my Dad used to take a Bex first thing every morning."

And Adele Andrews contributed: "I was an operating room nurse in the late 1960s and one of Adelaide’s top renal surgeons gathered all the OR staff into the theatre one day to show them a shrivelled-up kidney he had just removed from a 32-year-old woman. All he said was ‘Bex powder addiction, take note’. I had never taken any APC and was not about to start after that lecture. They should have been banned much earlier."

Concerns about the rates of consumption of the popular analgesics first surfaced in 1962 and resulted in a series of public health warnings.

They seemed to have a minimal impact until 1966, when kidney specialist Priscilla Kincaid-Smith — after noticing a serious rise in women presenting with kidney disorders — conducted a series of experiments on rats.

She proved that APC powders were linked to serious kidney disease and the Government of the day began to take notice. In 1967, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommended that phenacetin be removed from the pharmaceutical benefits list, which saw Vincent’s eliminate the compound from its powders that same year, replacing it with salicylamide, which was from the same chemical family as aspirin.

Bex, however, continued to include phenacetin in its product but the sustained adverse publicity throughout the 1970s and the mounting evidence that the once "harmless" cure-all was in fact causing serious kidney disease, forced Bex to also drop the substance from its powders in 1975. By 1977, the results of the addiction were becoming very clear and the NH & MRC moved to restrict the availability of all APCs.

And so the Bex and Vincent’s powder era, thankfully, came to an end.

Thinking back to those days, it was just part and parcel of the lifestyle. Just about everyone’s mum or grandma seemed to always have a Bex or Vincent’s powder handy and, with the first sign of a headache, a cold or if they felt they needed a quick "pick me up", down would go a powder.

It was a vicious circle of addiction, really: the caffeine content gave a sudden rush of energy, which eventually triggered a withdrawal headache, which prompted them to take another powder.


‘Australia Post, you’re a joke’

He is apparently a great "networker" (crawler). That seems to be the only reason Ahmed Fahour was given the lucrative job of heading up Australia Post.  But the service has been going downhill ever since he arrived.  He seems determined to destroy the organization.  He is a Muslim so maybe he aims to do that.  Below is just the latest episode.  It is now routine for letters that used to be delivered in a day or two to take a week or two

IT SEEMS the only thing Australia Post can deliver effectively is outraged customers.

The publicly owned organisation has been bombarded with complaints following Monday’s news that customers could be charged up to $9 a pop to pick up a parcel.

Australia Post has been labelled "a joke", and the move "a blatant grab for cash" with claims staff often fail to check if someone is at home before leaving a card demanding they pick up their parcel at the post office.

Meanwhile, competitors have gone in for the kill lambasting the move to charge customers as "another clear indication Australia Post doesn’t understand its business".

But in a sign the organisation is seriously rattled by the parcel pandemonium, Australia Post has confirmed to it may drop the plan altogether — but only if the anger continues.

On Monday, Australia Post said it was set to start charging up to $9 for customers to pick up undelivered parcels in a change to delivery services. The delivery giant said the initiative was formulated in response to "customer demand".

Currently, undelivered parcels are held at post offices for 10 days at no cost before being returned to the sender. But from August, parcels not picked up within five days will attract a $3 holding fee rising to $9 if they are still in the post office after three weeks under a proposal nattily called ‘Hold at Post’.

Coming just months after Australia Post raised the price of stamps, it’s fair to say the news has proved about as popular as the final of Reno Rumble.

The fees fiasco managed to completely overshadow Australia Post’s big PR announcement on Monday, that its parcels subsidiary Startrack would use a new fleet of Qantas jets to deliver the mail.

While Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour joined Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in posing next to the shiny new planes, social media and news sites were being engulfed by anger at the new charges.

One comment received by was typical. "Australia Post delivery is a joke. The posties just drop parcels and run for their lives."

Many complained that they wouldn’t have to traipse to the post office if delivery staff made more of an effort to check if people were home.

Late last year, Australia Post copped a storm of criticism after CCTV footage was published showing a Sydney courier making no attempt to deliver a resident’s parcel.

Marie from Brisbane said, "I have seen them pull up at the letterbox, drop the slip in and ride off. "I have run down the stairs, opened my front door and run up the road to stop them, but to no avail. If they can avoid knocking on your door, they do."

On Australia Post’s Facebook page, Kerri Jordan said, "This is just a blatant grab for cash. Perhaps before you start charging storage fees you should consider delivering within stated time frames".

Karen Schuler asked, "Does that mean I can charge Australia Post for my time and the mileage to go and collect a parcel that could have been delivered?"  Or as Peter Frith summed it up. "If you keep pi**ing people off they will use other courier services instead and Australia Post will die".

Sean Cooney echoed many when he said the move was "dumb" and the opposite of customer service: "I will solve this problem by simply refusing to purchase any products from companies that want to ship using Australia Post. Simple."

Parcel delivery service Zoom2u chief executive Steve Orenstein would be more than happy to pick up Mr Cooney’s business. "The recent price hike is another clear indication that Australia Post doesn’t understand its business," he said on Tuesday.

"On face value it seems to make sense, customers who are not at home should pay a fee because Australia Post needs to store the parcel, which costs money. "But, the reality is many Australians order online precisely because they want the convenience of not having to leave their home to collect goods," he said.

Australia Post, Mr Orenstein said, "hasn’t solved anything with this decision". Rather than charging it should be looking at delivering parcels when people were actually at home.

Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive Emma King said people facing financial hardship would also suffer. "A couple of bucks might not sound like much, but every dollar counts when you’re getting by on a low income. "Increasing cost of living pressures are already a massive problem, and the last thing people need is an extra cost to receive mail."

Australia Post said 92 per cent of parcels were collected within five days and would continue to be fee-free under the new proposals.

When asked on Monday by 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, whether the organisation would reverse the decision if customers said "no, hate it, will you dump the idea?," Christine Corbett, Australia Post’s manager of postal services, said it would.  While market research had suggested the charge was palatable, Ms Corbett said "let’s see if our real customers say that once we actually put that in the ground".

On Tuesday, Australia Post spokeswoman Michelle Skehan mapped out for exactly how that would happen. "If over the next three months our customers tell us they don’t want us to hold their parcels for more than 10 days, we won’t introduce the service."

However, if the umbrage dissipates you can bet your bottom dollar, or nine, that you’ll have another fee to pay to use the post.


Budget 2016: Timid Turnbull tinkers at top and bottom

Comment from the semi-libertarian Centre for Independent Studies

CIS policy experts share their 'first glance' assessment of the Budget, with more detailed analysis to follow during the next couple of days as they unpick and unpack all the details.

The 2015/16 Budget has no credible plan to reduce expenditure and return the budget to balance, according to policy experts and economists at The Centre for Independent Studies.

"Far from tackling Australia's spending problem, Treasurer Scott Morrison keeps spending at near record levels," CIS Research Manager Simon Cowan said.

"Government spending remains at 25.8% of GDP the same level as 2015/16, and only falls to 25.2% by the end of the forward estimates.

"Government spending will burst past the $500 billion a year mark before the end of the decade.

"The Treasurer has repeated his predecessor's mistake of relying on future revenue increases to return the budget near balance: receipts continue to rise far above their historical average, increasing by 1.2 percentage points of GDP over the next four years.

"The budget does little to tackle the core areas of spending growth in health, welfare and education, which continue to be the fastest growing areas of government."


"Superannuation changes, including reducing the threshold at which additional contributions tax kicks in and a rebadged low income superannuation tax offset, do not address the core problem of pension dependence," Mr Cowan said.

"The government brags that 96% of people will be no worse off, yet all their changes will do is increase complexity -- they will do nothing to increase the number of people self-reliant in retirement."

Income tax and bracket creep

CIS Research Fellow Michael Potter condemned measures to combat bracket creep by increasing the 32.5 per cent marginal tax threshold from $80,000 to $87,000 as inadequate.

"This measure does nothing to address bracket creep for the majority of taxpayers," Mr Potter said. "The government should deliver a more substantial personal tax cut of $12.5 billion in 2017-18 and then index the tax thresholds."

Corporate tax

Mr Potter applauded the move to reduce corporate tax, but said it didn't go far enough. "The government has some good measures, reducing the corporate tax burden from 30% to 25%, but it won't reach this level until 2025/26. In the meantime, Australian companies remain uncompetitive.

"There are concerns that the funding for this tax cut, including a diverted profits tax, could harm the very investment the tax cut is meant to promote. And measures to combat so-called multinational tax avoidance rarely produce the revenue claimed."

Youth Jobs PaTH Programme

CIS Research Fellow Dr Patrick Carvalho was cautiously optimistic about plans for young jobseekers. "The Youth Jobs PaTH Programme addresses some barriers for longer term unemployed youth," he said.

However he cautions it does not solve the underlying problem:  "at the heart of the problem lies our complex workplace regulations structure, including prohibitive penalty rates that ultimately penalise the most vulnerable jobseekers. The budget doesn't address these issues."

Indigenous funding

It is good to see that the Government will redirect $23.1 million in 2016-17 from Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to support Indigenous entrepreneurs.

"A recent Ernst & Young review of IBA highlighted a number of problems with IBA, specifically, that it was not supporting Indigenous businesses effectively, not providing capital in a timely manner, and had a confusing number of programs," Sara Hudson, Research Fellow and Manager of the Indigenous Research Program, said.


One area the government has stuck to its guns is education policy, choosing not to fund the final years of Gonski, instead budgeting for a 3.6% annual increase­ -- the minimum rate legislated in the Australian Education Act 2013.

Head of the CIS Five From Five Literacy Program, Dr Jennifer Buckingham, said: "there is merit in some of the policy reforms attached to the funding, including the early assessment of reading, but others -- such as mandating the school subjects students must study at senior level to be eligible for an ATAR -- would be difficult to implement."


CIS Policy Analyst Trisha Jha warned the government's childcare strategy would not help more women into work. "Despite the deferral of the Jobs for Families childcare package, the Budget shows spending on an entrenched upward trajectory. These policies will not substantially increase women's workforce participation. More work is needed to address the crucial issue of supply of places, and the impact of the tax-transfer system on work incentives," Ms Jha said.


Two carbon taxes in Labor's climate policy suite

Labor will exempt the electricity sector from its broader emissions trading scheme hoping to limit the hit to the consumer wallet.

Instead, the sector will have its own ETS with an internal carbon market which Labor believes will reduce the impact on power prices.

The opposition's climate change policy - which it will take to the next election - also focuses on a transition away from coal-fired power stations.

Labor wants an orderly, structured phase out of high-polluting energy generators with a support program to transition workers into new industries.

Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler insists the plan is not a reincarnated carbon tax, while maintaining it's necessary to get Australia's pollution levels under control.

"Labor heard a very clear message from the Australian people about the carbon tax," Mr Butler told reporters in south-west Queensland.

But Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Labor was kidding itself that its ETS was not a carbon tax - which the coalition scrapped upon coming into government.

The policy reaffirms Labor's commitment to 50 per cent of the nation's power coming from renewable sources by 2030 and an emissions reduction target of 45 per cent by the same year.

It focuses on reducing land clearing, while aiming to double energy productivity through measures such as smarter buildings.

The ETS would be implemented in two phases - with the first requiring heavy polluters to offset any emissions above a set cap.

From 2020, an ongoing scheme will be in place - but the details won't be sorted until the next term of government, should Labor be elected.

Labor says it wants to get Australia back to the renewable energy superpower it was in 2013. © AAP Image/Glenn Hunt Labor says it wants to get Australia back to the renewable energy superpower it was in 2013. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten warned of increased insurance premiums, inconsistent food supply and a loss of tourism and jobs if nothing is done to limit climate change.

"Australia is now pretty much the only advanced economy on earth where pollution is rising rather than coming down," Mr Shorten told reporters on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who supported the introduction of an emissions trading scheme in 2009 when he was opposition leader, said Labor's plan would raise energy prices.

However, he conceded the coalition's 26-28 per cent target by 2030 would have to rise over coming decades.

The plan has been broadly welcomed by climate groups who believe it could help Australia reach its international obligations under last year's United Nations climate agreement.

In December, 196 parties - including China, India and the United States - agreed to limit global warming to two degrees.

Energy market analysts Reputex modelling shows phasing out coal-fired power stations would have a negligible impact on electricity prices.

However, the peak mining body says the policy puts at risk Australia's export competitiveness by eliminating the "cheapest form" of domestic electricity.

"The inevitable consequences of these policy choices will be higher power prices," Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Brendan Pearson said.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale questioned why Labor's policy was silent on coal exports, accusing all major parties of being beholden to the coal industry.

Labor has also promised to expand the investment mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, retain the Climate Change Authority and pump an extra $200 million into ARENA.


Controversial cop Chris Hurley pursues wages claim despite charges

This is the big goon who dropped his knee on a black guy, Cameron Doomadgee, lying on the floor of a police cell -- splitting the black guy's liver and killing him

CONTROVERSIAL cop Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley will press ahead with a Supreme Court bid to reinstate his pay, despite being charged with criminal offences since he launched the legal battle.

The Queensland Police Union, whose lawyers are representing Sen-Sgt Hurley, confirmed the case was still proceeding and a spokesman reiterated the organisation believed it was "oppressive" to suspend an ­officer’s wages while under investigation.

The case will be heard on Thursday and Friday in the Brisbane Supreme Court, and the union is expected to argue the suspension without pay is "not necessary to protect the interests of the Queensland Police Service".

Sen-Sgt Hurley was suspended on full pay late last year while under investigation over a police chase which involved him allegedly shooting at a suspect, and an incident unrelated to his duties.

In February, his pay was suspended and he immediately launched a Supreme Court battle to reinstate it.

He won a reprieve when the Supreme Court ordered he be paid while the case is ongoing.
Accused cop Sen-Sgt Chris Hurley is persisting with his wage claim.

Just one month later, he was charged with assault for allegedly choking a motorist and shoving a female officer.

Sen-Sgt Hurley claims he will be unable to pay the mortgage on a unit he owns that his parents live in if the Queensland Police Service’s decision to suspend his pay is upheld.

"The financial consequences ... will have a severe affect on (Sen-Sgt Hurley’s) personal circumstances," court documents relating to the case allege.

Documents filed on behalf of the Assistant Commissioner Clem O’Regan claim Sen-Sgt Hurley was ordered multiple times to pull out of a police chase on the Gold Coast in May last year before he shot at a car twice, including when it was driving away from him.


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

3 May, 2016

Sydney's finest Asian Australian students still missing out on leadership roles

The whine below from a Left-leaning newspaper relies on the absurd doctrine that the proportion of people in every occupation should mirror the proportion of various ethnicities in the overall population -- "disparate impact", as Americans call it. So if 10% of the Australian population is Asian, then 10% of the people in management should also  be Asian. 

It's the sort of rubbish you are always getting from Leftists.  They can only think in terms of big groups.  Consideration of the individual is of no interest to them. So what they overlook is that Asians may prefer to go into the professions rather than business management or the bureaucracy.  Judging by the numbers of Asian medical practitioners I have encountered, I have no doubt that Asians are OVER-represented in the professions -- which is as it should be.  It shows that people have a choice and exercise the choice that suits their own individual preference

Another thing ignored below is that academic success is not a good predictor of business success.  Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout.  And people who are highly successful academically may not even be INCLINED to go into business or the bureaucracy. So  it is probably for that reason that Asians seem to pop up as working scientists all the time -- often making notable contributions to knowledge.  You have just got to look at the author list on academic journal articles in the sciences.  There is almost always at least one East Asian name there, no matter where the research was carried out.  Since scholarship has been highly respected in China for a couple of thousand years or so, that should be no surprise.

For the past 20 years in a row, one Sydney high school has taken out the top HSC results in the state. At James Ruse High in Sydney's north-west, an ATAR of above 99 is so expected that it became its own satire song.

"100 ATAR, 100 ATAR, 100 ATAR," year 12 students rapped in a take on Psy's Gangnam Style. "99.95, not good enough".

It is also a school where up to 80 per cent of students come from a language background other than English, most of them from Asian families, according to the NSW Department of Education.

And yet, the statistics show that despite students of Asian origin dominating the academic scale at schools like James Ruse Agricultural High around the country, few rise to the top of the political, business and academic pile.

Australians of Asian descent make up to 12 per cent of the country's population but only four members of the federal Parliament. Of the 17 government departments only one counts a leader of Asian descent as its head.

The statistics are similarly damning in the private sector. Only 1.9 per cent of executive managers and 4.2 percent of directors come from Asian backgrounds, according to a 2013 Diversity Council Australia study.

At the entry level, discrimination, conscious or unconscious, is endemic. On average, a Chinese person must submit 68 per cent more applications to gain employment than a person of Anglo-Saxon descent, according to a 2011 study from the Australian National University.

"For 30 years, James Ruse has been pumping out very clever Asians," said University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence. "Where are they?"

For Dr Spence, self-interest is a powerful incentive. His newborn son, Ted, is half-Korean. His five children from a previous marriage are of Anglo descent.

"I want to make sure that he has much opportunity as my other children," he said. "If you say mathematician you probably think east Asian in Australia - if you say leader, you probably think white man."

"We are only now beginning to say that there is a real issue to face of particular ethnicities. The disparity between the educational success and their leadership attainment is evidence of a bamboo ceiling and the university needs to do its best to overcome it. There are settled cultural patterns that need to be challenged."

The unconscious bias goes right to the top. The country's Racial Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, has been asked if he worked in IT or Finance, or most recently, as an accountant.

In 2014, Dr Soutphommasane gave a speech that said "the bamboo ceiling" was well and truly above our heads. Not much has changed.  "But conversations are starting," he said on Friday. "People are beginning to recognise there's a problem."

Across academia and business, tentative steps are being made to talk about the touchy subject of race and what is happening to the 99.95 ATAR club when they walk out the school gates. Public leaders are few and far between.

The University of Sydney has adopted cultural inclusivity as one of the central tenets of its 2020 strategy. It has engaged partnerships with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Westpac and Telstra through its business school to set targets for ensuring Australian's of Asian origin reach leadership positions. PwC alone has a target of 11 per cent of its partners being of Asian origin by 2020.

It's the perceptions that Dr Soutphommasane, who was born to Chinese and Laotian parents, has spent his career battling against.

"Leaders are expected to be charismatic, assertive and outspoken," Dr Soutphommasane said on Friday. "At the same time, certain stereotypes of Asian-Australians persist. There is a perception that Asian-Australians are shy, timid and withdrawn.

"Put these together and you have an obvious problem. There can be an assumption that Asian-Australians make for better technicians than leaders. That they may not be able to master Anglo-Australian expectations of leadership."

Part of the problem lies in the limited number of public faces of Asian identity on our most public platform, television.

Bing Lee and Victor Chang are often rattled off as icons, but you are more likely to find that the public faces of Asian Australians are given as TV chefs like Poh Ling and Adam Liaw.

The ABC's outgoing managing director, Mark Scott, publicly acknowledged last week that the ABC had not done enough to promote cultural diversity on the public broadcaster.

"On broader diversity, we have a way to go, frankly," Scott told Buzzfeed. "I draw a parallel to the BBC: when I watch and listen to the BBC when I'm in the UK, I think the on-air talent really represents a diversity of modern Britain and I'm not yet sure we represent the diversity of modern Australia."

Dr Soutphommasane agrees. "Sadly, the issue doesn't appear to be treated with any urgency within Australian television," he said.

"The proof is in the programming: what you see on screen doesn't remotely reflect the reality of modern Australia. And you still have parts of Australian television that appear comfortable in their periodic fits of casual racism."

Dr Soutphommasane warned in 2014 that if the situation was not addressed the nation would create a class of professional Asian-Australian coolies in the twenty-first century.

"It would be neither just nor good to have a country where people may comfortably believe that a class of well-educated, ostensibly over-achieving Asian-Australians are perfectly content with remaining in the background, perennially invisible and permanently locked out from the ranks of their society's leadership," he said.

For Dr Spence, diversity starts with education. He is canvassing the idea of race targets in his faculties. "That will be challenging," he said. "Compared to gender, talking about race is much more problematic in the lucky country.

"But a diverse and contemporary Australia must be the country that lives up to our rhetoric. We have boundless plains to share, we need to make sure we live up that national anthem."


Group of Australian university students demand apology from Human Rights Commission in race case

A female administrator barred some students from a university facility on racial grounds but she now whines about the students calling her a racist.  So the students are being sued!

Two students accused the Human Rights Commission yesterday of "recklessly" breaching their human rights in a row stemming from a $250,000 damages claim brought by a worker who barred white students from a room at the Queensland University of Technology.

Jackson Powell and Calum Thwaites, who lodged separate complaints with the commission, are seeking a formal apology and compensation for their costs in defending racial hatred claims.

They say the commission has treated them with "flagrant indifference" because they are "white Anglo-Saxon heterosexual citizens who maintain a male gender identity", have no criminal rec­ord, no outspoken political opinions and no record of participation in trade unions or religious sects.

Their lawyer, Tony Morris QC, said the commission’s conduct in managing the case had been "illogical, irrational and ­patently bizarre", leading to gross unfairness to Mr Powell, Mr Thwaites and other students.

The Brisbane men, who strenuously deny being racist, have appealed to politicians to revisit section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, which has been used to restrict freedom of speech.

Commission president Gillian Triggs is expected to personally investigate the formal complaints from the students as the legislative framework prohibits her from delegating to another member.

The students say their rights were infringed because the commission failed for at least 14 months to notify them they were being accused of racial vilification under section 18c.

The delay meant that while QUT, its staff and its lawyers had 14 months to prepare a defence to the claims by QUT staffer Cindy Prior, Mr Thwaites was told of the serious complaint days before he was told to go to a conciliation conference ordered and run by the commission. He had no funds and little time to get legal advice or achieve a resolution before the case escalated to the Federal ­Circuit Court.

The racial vilification case was lodged in the commission in late May 2014 by Ms Prior, who ­alleges she was severely traumatised by Facebook posts from students responding to her action in preventing the men using QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit in May 2013.

The unit has been described as a "culturally safe space" for indigenous students, but there was no sign suggesting it was off-limits to white students who wanted to ­access computers that were not in use.

Ms Prior has been unable to work for 2½ years and wants $250,000 from QUT and the students. The students have insisted their posts were innocuous, harmless and a legitimate ­expression of their freedom of speech.

The FOI documents show that Mr Thwaites and other students were not told they were accused of racial vilification in the commission until late last July.

A file note by commission officer Ting Lim on July 28 states she advised the university’s solicitor that QUT "has known about this complaint for over year … it’s not the fault of the commission that the QUT has waited a week before the (conciliation conference) to notify the students.

"If a student is notified and wants to attend next week, they will have to make time".

Federal Circuit Court judge Michael Jarrett has reserved his decision since a March 11 hearing in which the students sought to have Ms Prior’s racial vilification case dismissed.


Eco-Fascists now harassing insurance companies

Climate activists are targeting the role of insurance companies in the expansion of fossil fuel production, highlighting the impact of extreme weather events on their bottom line.

"We’ve already targeted banks and super funds, so insurance companies are the next frontier," said Dan Gocher from the financial activist group Market Forces.

On Monday it hijacked the insurer QBE’s branding in Sydney, plastering the slogan "Made possible by QBE" over images of coalmines and natural disasters.

At about 8am on Monday morning the Market Forces team hung the posters from the QBE headquarters in Sydney’s CBD. Julien Vincent, executive director of Market Forces said they were removed by security after about 10 minutes.

"It’s about highlighting their role in the perpetuation and expansion of the fossil fuel industry, which is contributing to climate change," said Gocher, who worked for QBE until 2015. "Because as their slogan tells you, they make it possible."

The activists’ imagery is very similar to one produced by QBE a few years ago. In 2012 the its annual report printed "Made possible by QBE" on the cover, over an image of an operating coalmine.

In that report, the company boasted it was "a major insurer of the mining sector in Australia" and insured "coalminers in the Queensland Bowen Basin and New South Wales Hunter Valley".

Finding out exactly how much insurers were underwriting coal and other fossil fuel projects was difficult, Vincent said. "The way you learn about it is when there’s been a disaster," he said.

When the world’s largest oil leak occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, it was revealed BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil extraction was insured by QBE.

Gocher said the group would target other insurers, but QBE was an obvious place to start because it had revealed some of its involvement in the sector.

Insurers also held large investment portfolios, Gocher said. Australian insurance companies managed about $200bn worth of stock, $35bn of it held by QBE.

Some other insurers have begun to move away from fossil fuels. The French insurer AXA and Germany’s Allianz divested from thermal coal because of climate change.

Overseas insurers and reinsurers (companies that insure other insurance companies) have played a significant role in public discussion of climate change after recognising they were particularly exposed to the effects of extreme weather events.
How to free your investment portfolio from fossil fuels
Read more

In 2015 Munich RE said: "We are convinced that there are particular regions and hazards where climate change is already having a definite influence on losses. Significant effects have to be accounted for in risk management approaches of the insurance industry."

But despite being hit with large payouts, Australian insurers lagged behind their foreign counterparts, not divesting from fossil fuels and not playing a role in the public discussion, Gocher said.

Annual reports show QBE paid US$76m for storms that battered the New South Wales coast in 2014; US$144m for storms Desmond, Eva and Frank in the UK in 2015; US$108m for cyclone Pam, which hit Vanuatu in March.

Market Forces has asked Australian insurers to divest from fossil fuel in their investment portfolios, begin withdrawing from underwriting fossil fuel companies and play a role in the public conversation about climate change.

Gocher said withdrawal from underwriting could not be done overnight, but companies could immediately cease underwriting new projects.


Pauline Hanson rails against compulsory preferential voting

PAULINE Hanson has railed against the voting system that could have secured her a place in the Queensland Parliament.

While the LNP’s Ian Rickuss narrowly retained the seat of Lockyer by fewer than 200 votes, the story could have been different had compulsory preferential voting been in place.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has come under fire for Labor’s surprise scrapping of optional preferential voting.

Assuming Lockyer electors whose votes were exhausted would have preferenced similarly to those whose votes weren’t exhausted, Labor and Katter’s Australian Party preferences would have helped get Ms Hanson over the line.

But Ms Hanson accused Labor of having "underhandedly taken away the voting rights of the people" over the move. "I don’t agree with it," she said.  "You’re forcing people to send their preferences where they don’t want it to go."

Mr Rickuss said the idea that Ms Hanson could have won the seat through compulsory preferential voting was a "big hypothetical".

"Had this system been in place, the thought of the public might have been different, of course," he said.  "It is a very hypothetical question."

Mr Rickuss described the scrapping of optional preferential voting as a "cynical" move.

Ms Hanson said One Nation planned to stand candidates in every seat at the next state election. But she would not be drawn on whether she planned to recontest Lockyer, should her current Senate bid fail.  "That’s further down the track and I’m running for the Senate in Queensland – my full focus is on that and I’m not going to say ‘OK, I’m jumping here, there and all over the place’ – no," she said.

"I’m going out now to win the (Senate) seat and I’m determined to win it."


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

2 May, 2016

I know the poor

Poverty is a shortage of money, right?  It is not.  In our society, poverty is an effect of foolish decisions.  It is a behaviour problem, not a money problem.

I have seen it many times but I saw it most frequently when I was the proprietor of a 22-room boarding house located in a poor area. Many of the residents would buy basic groceries etc from a nearby service station, where the prices were about 50% dearer that at the supermarket.  And there was a branch of a large supermarket chain only ten minutes walk away.

And on "payday" (the day when government welfare money was paid into their accounts) it was a wonder to see the casks of "goon" (Sweet white wine in a cardboard box) coming into the place.  There was always money for alcohol.

And I had to be on the ball on "payday" too.  I had to get my rent before the money was all spent.  I even knew where some of them drank and would go in and collect my money from them at the bar.

And they would often have fights, usually over women.  And that often left me with property damage. I always had a glazier ready on call to fix broken windows.  I could have tried to claim that cost back off them but that would have been in vain. By the end of the week most had nothing left in their pockets.

And the fighting was not limited to my place.  They would also get into fights in bars and elsewhere.  And the loser in a fight generally had his money stolen off him, often on the night of "payday".  So, sometimes, if I had not got his money that day, he would have nothing left by the time I got to him. 

But not all welfare clients are like that.  Many are prudent enough to have money left over at the end of the week and accumulate some savings.  One such was a tall black Melanesian man -- named Apu if I remember rightly.  When I approached him for his rent he said:  "I got into a fight last night and lost my money ... so I went to the bank and got some out".  He was the only man ever to say that to me.

So he was not poor. He had money for his needs and could put something aside as well.  He got the same "pay" as everyone else but he was more prudent in his behaviour.

I spent many years endeavouring to provide respectable accommodation for the poor but the poor did not make it easy for me.  Many are their own worst enemies.

And in my younger days I lived on Australia's student dole for a couple of years -- and led a perfectly comfortable life.  The student dole was actually a bit below what the unemployed got.  So I have NEVER been poor. 

I sometimes had only a little money but I have always had savings, have always eaten well, have always had comfortable accommodation, have always had sufficient clothing, have always had lots of books (mostly bought very cheaply secondhand), have always had good access to the sort of recorded music that I like,  have always been able to afford the day's newspaper and have rarely been without an attractive girlfriend. 

I did not however drink alcohol until I could afford it.  I was teetotal until I was about 28.  And I have never smoked or used illegal drugs.  So I made good choices -- for which I largely thank my fundamentalist Christian background -- and have always been contented


While I am enormously grateful to  my Protestant background for putting my teenage feet onto the right path, there seem to be some genetics involved too.  I say that because my son, who did not have that background, is a lot like me.  He seems to save as  much as he spends and yet has an attractive girlfriend, a job he enjoys and vast amounts of "stuff" - mainly books and computer games. 

He does however have an addiction -- as young people these days mostly seem to.  So is he addicted to heroin, cocaine, marijuana  or "Ice"?  Far from it.  He is addicted to flavoured milk. He finds it hard to get past the flavoured milk display at our  local supermarket.  At a time when young people pour all sorts of foul things into themselves, I am overjoyed about that

Milk IS bad for his waistline but he has the self-discipline to  get that under control from time to time too.  I think that both he and I have inherited Puritan genetics.  I am convinced there is such a thing.  It is a great gift.

And let us not forget that Puritans founded America.  So Puritans can be people of considerable personal effectiveness.  And for some people Puritanism feels right.  It did for me.  People exiting restrictive religions tend to be resentful of their times in the religion concerned.  But I revelled in it. And it is still a fond memory of that time in my life

So in the end I have to agree with a great Rabbi:  "The poor ye always have with you". There may not be such a thing as "white privilege" (most of my lodgers were white) but there may be such a thing as an inborn Puritan privilege -- JR


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says we are back where we were in 2007

Waleed Aly's powerful but ignorant message about housing affordability

He hasn't got a clue.  Negative gearing does NOT amount to a subsidy. It is simply recognition of costs incurred by an individual in the course of earning income.  When Paul Keating attacked it, the results were so adverse that he rapidly restored it.  And Shorten doesn't plan to abolish it, just redirect it somewhat.  It will still be available for anyone to use.  It could in fact cause new-build housing costs to RISE

If you’re mad, upset and feeling helpless about the fact that you’ll probably never get into the housing market, you’re not alone. Waleed Aly is with you.

On last night’s episode of The Project, Aly delivered a powerful six minute segment on negative gearing; breaking down what it is and who it’s affecting, all before taking a sledge hammer to government claims, and doing what no politician has ever done well – providing non-biased data to back up his analysis.

Of course he did. *Cough* Gold Logie *cough, cough* ahem, Gold Logie.

The general consensus on what negative gearing does is clear, Aly argued. "Economists agree that negative gearing pushes house prices up, contributes to making our houses some of the most expensive in the world, and if you're from generation X or Y or you're a millennial, it's one of the reasons you can't afford a house."

While assessing Malcolm Turnbull's election commitment to keep negative gearing as is, Aly pointed out that the claims made in Tuesday night's interview with Leigh Sales on 7.30 were flawed at best, and raised the train wreck PR stunt that was introducing "real" Aussie families that benefit from negative gearing.

"So to recap, negative gearing has contributed to you - generations X, Y and millennials - not being able to buy a home, but it's got this baby one, so it all evens out, yeah?"

Peter Martin, the economics editor of The Age, agreed that buying houses for infants shouldn't really be our priority.

"If things are really that bad that that's what you need to do to get into the housing market, it says a lot more about the market than that negative gearing's a good idea," he said.

And while the Liberal Party is determined to bring Labor's policy down, independent research from the ANU's Centre for Social Research and Methods found that, "Labor's policy would slow the growth of house prices, increase new construction, raise billions each year for the budget".

"It literally said Labor's policy could be 'the biggest housing affordability policy this country has seen'," Aly said.

No political party, organisation or individual commissioned that modelling.

While opposition leader Bill Shorten may be, as Aly says, "the equivalent of the complaining neighbour who calls the cops and says the music's too loud," he appears to be the holder of the only clear solution to what is becoming a major issue for an entire generation of people.

Aly points out that as a sales person, Shorten really lacks some skills, but sandwiched into the segment was a quote from Shorten that, at the heart of it, says everything you need to know about negative gearing.

"In this country at the moment, we spend more money on taxpayer subsidies on negative gearing than we do on higher education."


Biffo Latham doesn't like feminists

A FIERY debate erupted in the Weekend Sunrise studio when commentator Mark Latham and co-host Andrew O’Keefe clashed over feminism.

Latham was on the show along with guests, Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine, The Guardian columnist Van Badham and columnist Rory Gibson to discuss the issue of feminism and if men were being unfairly targeted.

All three guests got fired up when debating the issue but the real eruption occurred between Latham and O’Keefe.

Latham was asked by Sunrise co-host Angela Cox if he thought men felt threatened now that women today are educated and better off financially.

Latham replied, "no I think the average man is doing quite fine, they ignore most of the left feminist clap trap. They ignore people like Van who are a very very minority interest in our society, she’s a self declared anarchist way way on the extreme left of politics representing perhaps point zero, zero, per cent of thought in Australia so she’s safely ignored".

"The real issue for men is can they keep up in the education system. At the moment among university graduates leaving every year 40 per cent are male, 60 per cent are female, a massive advance for women in this country. When you look at the bottom of society when you get away from Van’s debate about women like her, because left feminism is essentially selfish," he said before O’Keefe interjected, "Oh for god’s sake".

And that’s when the two went head to head. Latham accused O’Keefe of being biased and a left wing participant in the debate while Andrew accused Latham of personally attacking the guests.

It was left to Cox to take charge and request that the guests stayed away from personal attacks.

There were mixed opinions on Twitter with some backing O’Keefe while others were in Latham’s corner but aside from the difference in opinions Twitters users all seemed to agree on how heated the debate got.

And just when viewers thought the segment was over the two men fired up again. "You live in cloud cookoo land. If you’re on the 11:30 train out of the city and there’s a women’s only carriage, and you’re a bad bloke looking to do damage, you’re going to go straight in," Latham said referring to the idea of having womens only carriages on late night trains.

"That’s a really good insightful comment there. Great to have constructive debate there. Thank you. And thank you all for your insights and thank you Mark for the entertainment," O’Keefe said.

"Thank you for the objectivity, Andrew and maybe next week, you can go back to being a proper professional host. If you want to participate in these debates declare that at the start of segment," Latham replied before Cox ended the debate once and for all.


There is a God. And He votes for Malcolm Turnbull

Joe Hildebrand is basically a satirist but there is a lot in what he says below

There’s not much faith left in Australian politics these days but this week it emerged that there is a God and He votes for Malcolm Turnbull.

Because nothing short of divine intervention — of the ecclesiastical rather than the Miranda variety — could explain the two lucky breaks the Prime Minister has caught after a horror show start to the year.

The PM’s first good fortune relies on the misfortune of the 850 unfortunates stuck on Manus Island and his government keeping them there — or at least keeping them anywhere but Australia.

This is brutal but necessary politics. It is clear that suburban voters like it when the government acts tough on border protection and Turnbull has happily obliged them — because they will decide whether or not he keeps his job on July 2.

It is also, incidentally, the right call. If Australia wants to be humane we must also be hard-headed. We need to take as many refugees as we can directly fleeing ISIS and Assad, not lure others into a criminally run death race across the open seas. That’s not channelling Gandhi, it’s channelling The Running Man.

Morality aside — which is, after all, its usual place in politics — the PNG Supreme Court’s ruling that all asylum seekers be freed from detention and possibly returned to Australia initially seemed to present an impossibly complex legal and diplomatic dilemma.

But the government simply pulled out a Little Britain DVD and replied: "Computer says no."

Frankly, it worked. And it was also refreshing they’d taken their policies from a TV show that wasn’t Veep.

The second gift the Almighty granted Turnbull this week was Bill Shorten’s mother of all blunders when attempting to resurrect a price on carbon, something Labor has to do to stop votes haemorrhaging to the Greens but which exposes it to a bloodbath from the right. You wouldn’t wish the job on Osama Bin Laden.

Key to navigating this rocky path is ensuring the dreaded "carbon tax" millstone is never hung around the ALP’s neck again. And so while Malcolm goes to bed thanking God for OzEmail, Bill lies awake repeating to himself: "It’s not a tax, it’s not a tax, it’s not a tax…"

This perhaps explains why on Wednesday he found himself uttering the fateful words: "There will be no carbon tax under…"

It is at this precise moment mid-sentence that Shorten’s spirit no doubt left his body and hovered over the Opposition Leader, there to spend the remainder of the press conference howling "Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!"

In terms of existential crises it ranks somewhere between Macbeth and Darth Vader. You could almost hear Kevin Rudd’s giggle from New York.

Meanwhile Malcolm is laughing all the way to the bank, even if that bank is Goldman Sachs.

A week ago I would’ve taken an each-way roughie that Labor might just steal the election from under Turnbull’s Roman nose. Now I’m guessing that next week’s Newspoll will give him the holiest number of all: 51. But Lord knows I’ve been wrong before.


1 May, 2016

'Perilous': Bureau of Meteorology boss Rob Vertessy exits with climate warning

The report below is carefully worded but it still gives the absurd impression that global warming will increase drought.  It won't.  It would increase floods as warmer seas evaporate off more water.  The drought in the Southern states is part of an iregular oscillation that sees rain move North and South in turns.  It is the North that is getting the rain at the moment.  Where I live in the North it is raining nearly every day lately, when the normal pattern is for rain mainly in January,  February and March.  See here

UPDATE:  As I write this, it is raining like Billy-o outside. And we are now in May. Most unseasonable.  We have definitely got the rain that the Southerners are missing.  Don't ask me how or why that happens but it is a normal feature of the Australian climate

Australia faces a "perilous" water security future from climate change even as the Turnbull government eyes budget cuts to water programs and CSIRO halves climate investment, Rob Vertessy, the outgoing head of the Bureau of Meteorology, says.

Reservoirs in the Murray-Darling basin are now close to their lowest levels since the Millennium Drought and Tasmania is also facing "serious" issues", Dr Vertessy told Fairfax Media on Friday, his final day as the bureau's chief.

"Water shortage is a problem and climate change is going to be intensifying the drought and flood cycle," he said, noting that water demand is increasing. "Australia faces a really perilous water security challenge in the future."

The bureau now had "the world's best water information service", including precise stream-flow forecasting, that boasts a return on investments of between twofold and ninefold, despite the early stage of many projects, Dr Vertessy, a hydrologist by training, said. A drop in funding would result in a sharp reduction of services.

Facing criticism at home and abroad, CSIRO last week announced that it would instead form a special climate science centre of 40 staff under its Oceans and Atmosphere division. About 45 of the remaining 100 scientists in two key programs will lose their jobs and the future of those remaining is uncertain.

The need to boost global warming research was only going to increase. In Australia's case, the threats included lengthening and intensifying fire seasons, worse heatwaves and more intense storms.

"Unless we start slowing down our [greenhouse gas] emissions and really mitigating them completely in the next few decades, there's going to be a lot of environmental shocks to the planet," Dr Vertessy said. Human societies and ecosystems "are being pushed to the edge of sustainability".

The advance of technology promises ever more accurate weather prediction. The bureau will soon begin using a new supercomputer that promises 18 times faster data processing, and within three years, a 30-fold increase.

The resulting higher resolution capability would allow the bureau to scale forecasts down to 1.5 kilometres from 4 kilometres now, allowing an improvement in severe weather warnings.


Sub deal stupid, wasteful and purely political

Though Turnbull effectively had no choice.  Not building the subs in Adelaide would have caused big vote losses for him in South Australia and would therefore have lost him the election

It is telling that when the Prime Minister announced that Australia will spend $50 billion or more on 12 new submarines he was flanked by the South Australian-based federal Minister for Industry, Christopher Pyne. Since the start of the Future Submarine project, the key driver has been pacifying the shipbuilding industry in Adelaide.

One of the most persistent myths in the case of the subs is that spending $50 billion in Adelaide will automatically help the economy of South Australia and thereby is in the national interest.

There are several flaws in this argument.

First, the premium paid for an Australian build is substantial. RAND Corporation estimated that it was 30%-40%, however it could be much higher. The challenges of the troubled Air Warfare Destroyer project are instructive: the project is plagued by cost overruns, poor delineation of authority between Defence and the AWD partners, and scheduling issues.

The AWD price tag has nearly doubled, increasing by billions of dollars. The build for the original Collins Class submarines also ran over time and over budget. Cost overruns of just 10% could see the premium for an Australian built submarine comfortably exceeding $10 billion. As this must be funded by extra taxation, it represents a significant deadweight loss.

Much like the failed automotive manufacturing industry, protection for one industry comes at the expense of higher costs for all other industries. This economic law doesn't cease to apply simply because the industry is defence.

Second, defence manufacturing involves significant spending on technology rather than labour. Most of the cost of the Future Submarine will be spent on components, many of which will be imported. Less than 3,000 workers will be employed in the build and supply chain.

Moreover these are highly specialised jobs, requiring specific training and preferably experience. Defence industry policy simply isn't a good area for government dollars if your primary objective is reducing unemployment.

Finally, we cannot ignore the opportunity cost involved in this acquisition. By committing $50 billion to submarines, the money available for other projects (or even just for efficiency generating tax cuts) will be lessened. Too often these nation building projects come with nation crippling price tags.


Capital gain tax changes more dangerous than negative gearing changes
If England was a nation of shopkeepers as Napoleon is said to have asserted, modern Australia is a nation of landlords. The popularity of small-scale residential bricks-and-mortar investment, and the national obsession with the ups and downs of house prices, explains why negative gearing is such a hot button issue.

Negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions are often lumped together by the taxation hunters and gatherers, but they are vastly different beasts. There is little basis to attack negative gearing -- which is simply an application of the principle that expenses incurred in earning income should be tax deductible -- but even less to cut the capital gains discount. Increasing capital gains tax by half (by cutting the discount from 50% to 25%) would apply much more broadly than any change to negative gearing and be more damaging, but the objections are barely heard above the negative gearing commotion.

The principle that capital gains should not be taxed like recurrent income is recognised almost universally by discounts or lower tax rates, or in some cases by complete tax exemptions. Australia's 50% discount is unexceptional.

It is often said that the Howard government, when it introduced the discount, 'halved' capital gains tax. It did nothing of the kind. It replaced indexation for inflation (effectively a discount in a different form) with a 50% discount, and abolished the averaging provision that reduced the effect of large, lumpy capital gains pushing taxpayers into higher tax brackets. The net effect relative to the previous regime was ambiguous, and in fact CGT revenue held up.

Cutting the discount to 25% would result in the harshest CGT regime Australia has ever had. The exact comparisons depend on rates of capital gain and inflation, but in many situations where the real return is low, the effective CGT rate would be higher with a 25% discount than it was under the indexation regime.

And those advocating a 25% discount are not advocating a return to the averaging provision to soften the blow.

Capital gains tax should be left alone, and the indications are that it will be in next week's budget.


Australia's first nuclear waste dump to be located on former Liberal senator's land

Australia's first nuclear waste dump will be located in a remote part of South Australia, on land partly owned by a former Liberal senator.

Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg confirmed the government's intention to acquire 100 hectares of Barndioota station, 130 kilometres north-east of Port Augusta, for the storage of low-level and intermediate radioactive waste.

It followed four months of community consultation and an expert panel assessment of six shortlisted sites around the country, voluntarily nominated by their owners. Three of the potential sites were in SA, while there was one each in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

"Overwhelmingly, the strongest support was in this site," Mr Frydenberg told ABC Radio National on Friday. "This is a long-term solution to a long-term problem."

The minister said the Barndioota site excelled based on its geological settings, technical capability and access to transport - it is close to a railway line. But further technological, environmental and safety assessments would need to be conducted before it could finally be confirmed.

Former Liberal senator and state Liberal Party president Grant Chapman is a part-owner of the 25,000 hectare cattle station. In 1996, he chaired a Senate committee whose majority endorsed a national repository for radioactive waste.

It is almost 40 years since such a facility was first proposed under the Fraser government for the storage of radioactive material arising from medical, scientific and industrial endeavours.

Mr Frydenberg said that although Mr Chapman had volunteered his property for consideration, he had not been involved in the assessment process. "Obviously Grant Chapman had no say in the final outcome, it was all done at arm's length," he said.

Nor would the owners stand to gain much financially, since land in the remote area was very cheap and the government only intended to acquire about 100 hectares.

"Even if you're getting four times the value of your property, you're only talking about a few thousand extra dollars," Mr Frydenberg said.

Surrounding communities, including the township of Hawker about 30 kilometres away, will be given $2 million in compensation, to be allocated as required by a regional committee.

When the Barnidoota site was shortlisted in November, local Indigenous groups voiced their strong disapproval. Spokeswoman Jillian Marsh told The Australian people were "shocked" about the possibility of a nuclear waste dump being imposed on the area. "We want no further expansion of the ­nuclear industry," she said.

It is understood the site is held under a perpetual lease and cannot be subject to a native title claim.

The Greens' nuclear spokesman Scott Ludlam said he was "gobsmacked" at the government's decision, predicting it would face the same battles against Indigenous community leaders as the protracted, failed bid for a dump site in Muckaty, in the Northern Territory.

"I'm really surprised that the government thinks this is an appropriate curse to pursue," he said. "It will be fought to a standstill."

Senator Ludlam visited the site several weeks ago and said traditional owners there were "unequivocal in their opposition" to the idea. He said governments on both sides of politics had proceeded on the "wrong premise" that the best way to handle nuclear waste was to "chuck it at a convenient remote site and walk away from it".

"If that's the answer you came to then you must be asking the wrong question," he said. "How come after 60 years the industry still doesn't have a containment and isolation solution for this material?"


Government targets dole bludgers using sickies

Jobless welfare recipients feigning illness to avoid working are on the federal government's hit list.

More than 70,000 people are using medical certificates from doctors claiming they are too sick to work because they have depression, anxiety, muscular-skeletal problems, drug addiction and alcohol dependence.

"We are investigating that further to see how we can crack down on that," Treasurer Scott Morrison told Sydney radio 2GB on Tuesday.

Mr Morrison said the number of those on the disability support pension has been reduced under the coalition.  "These payments are there for people who really need them, not for those who want a loan on the taxpayer."


Chinese supermarket chain Winha woos Australian farmers

Three years ago Chinese supermarket chain Winha had no customers. Now it has 800,000. By the end of the year it hopes to have one million, and it has Australian farmers in its sights.

Winha says it is one of the first companies in China to use the country's historic free trade agreement with Australia to help grow its business.

Its chairman Jackie Chung was in Australia last week with a small delegation to negotiate directly with farmers to supply its boutique supermarkets in Guangdong, China's most populous province.

Despite Australian farmers heaping praise on the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), which took effect in December, Mr Chung said the deal had a relative low profile in China.

"A lot of Chinese aren't aware of the FTA," Mr Chung said. "Out of a population of 1.4 billion, 30 per cent would know about it."
And Mr Chung hopes this lack of understanding will help give his company an edge over its competitors.

He says the agreement has allowed Winha to effectively become its own exporter and importer. It has set up an Australian subsidiary to buy Australian products that it will sell directly into China through its supermarket chains.

Mr Chung and other Winha representatives travelled to Shepparton in Victoria's Goulburn Valley on Friday and signed two memorandums of understanding with cherry and pear growers.

He already has a supply agreement with a Melbourne-based infant formula manufacturer and hopes to strike similar deals with beef farmers and health supplement companies.

e said the FTA had also allowed Winha to slash the customs process for imported Australia, which normally takes six months to a year, to between two and three months, therefore securing supply before its competitors.

"In a free market, competition is inevitable, but being the first movers, we have an advantage," he said.

When asked why he chose Australia over other food exporting nations, it was a question about density and regulation.

Density, because there is plenty of land relative to people in Australia, which makes for safer and greener food production, and the country's regulatory standards ensured it stayed that way.

"Australia is the only country in the world that regulates vitamin production like drugs. Therefore, Australia has very high standards when it comes to food consumption and because of the FTA Australian products have become more competitive," Mr Chung said.

But buying directly of Australian farmers isn't about saving money by cutting out the middle men – it acts as a certificate of authenticity.

"In China there are a lot of distributors that import poor quality foods that they are pretending to be good quality food.

"I hope to correct that market. We are actually sourcing from the source and breaking down the distribution network."

Winha has a registered member base of 800,000 customers. It expects that number to hit one million in the next six months, and two million in the next 18 months.

The growth hinges on the company expanding its product range, which attracts more customers. And the more customers it gets, the quicker it can grow its inventory.

"Its a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Winha, which is listed in the US, is also considering a float on the ASX in the future to further strengthen it ties with Australia.


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

A great Australian wit exemplified

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."


Alternative (Monthly) archives for this blog


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
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"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
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Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral Reef Compendium
IQ Compendium
Queensland Police
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Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger
My alternative Wikipedia


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Bank of Queensland blues

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