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, 2017

A feminist rape accusation, it would seem

Particularly in Britain, feminists fume at the low percentage of rape claims that result in a conviction.  They view this as a fault of lazy or biased police and prosecutors.  As a result, police and prosecutors are under pressure to produce "results" and to mount prosecutions even when the prospect of convictions is slight.  That results in a lot of innocent men being traumatized before they are acquitted.  The case below would seem to be an indication that such injustices have spread to Australia

The marriage of a man and his medico wife was already under strain when the husband discovered "sexts" on the wife's mobile phone.

The doctor was in the shower getting ready for her shift in May 2015 when her husband found a series of sexually explicit text messages between her and a man in London.

The pair got into a heated argument, then a physical scuffle and the husband threw the wife's mobile phone out the front door of their Sydney home, smashing the screen.

The next day, he emailed her a sexually explicit picture of her that she had sent to him some time earlier, with the comment: "I think he asked for this specifically".

The comment was in reference to a text message sent from the London man that said, "I really need a pic of that p---- please".

On the first day of his trial in the Sydney District Court earlier this month, the husband, 45, pleaded guilty to two domestic violence-related charges, being damaging property and using a carriage service to menace or offend.

But the now-former wife alleged he committed much more serious offences against her, including sexual intercourse without consent, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and aggravated filming of a person without consent.

Following a 10-day trial, a jury acquitted him on all counts.

At a sentence hearing on Friday, Judge Mark Williams dismissed the proceedings without recording a conviction against the two guilty pleas.

The judge said the prosecution case was "most unsatisfactory" and gave the man a certificate for costs, meaning he can recoup some of his legal fees from the state.

Judge Williams said the prosecution failed to take into account "cogent and consistent objective evidence" that backed up the man's claim that the sex that was the subject of the rape charge was in fact consensual.

The man's solicitor, Greg Walsh, told the court the man and his legal team took photographic evidence that corroborated his story and discredited hers to the police, but it was ignored.

"Was it ideological, was it wilful blindness? I don't know," Mr Walsh said. "All the evidence pointed to the fact that this was an innocent man who should not have been charged."

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, spent 34 days in jail on remand, an experience he found "extraordinarily difficult" given he has no criminal record.

He also lost about $47,000 worth of work because his conditions once released on bail prohibited international travel.

The prosecution submitted that in emailing the picture of her genitalia, the man used "a very private image … taken in the context of their marriage" as a "sword" and "it was just a mean-spirited thing to do".

The court was urged to send a message that so-called "revenge porn" will not be tolerated.

But Judge Williams said the "unusual" case was not the appropriate vehicle for sending a message of general deterrence. He noted the man had spent time in jail and had to defend himself at trial at considerable expense against serious charges that should not have been bought against him.


'It's not going to happen': Barnaby Joyce rejects push for Aboriginal body in constitution

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has rejected a push from Aboriginal community leaders for a constitutionally-enshrined Indigenous body to influence policy in Canberra, predicting "it's not going to happen".

As Mr Joyce called for "substantive" but practical progress on Aboriginal reconciliation, two of Australia's most senior Indigenous politicians rallied behind the importance of a national referendum on the issue, warning it must be done right or could set the cause back for generations.

Hundreds of Indigenous people from across the country are at Uluru to discuss whether they want to be recognised in the constitution

Last week's national convention of Indigenous community leaders at Uluru rejected symbolic recognition on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution, instead calling for a "First Nations Voice" and a plan for treaties between Aboriginal people and the government.

"If you overreach in politics and ask for something that will not be supported by the Australian people such as another chamber in politics or something that sort of sits above or beside the Senate, that idea just won't fly," Mr Joyce said on Monday.

Shireen Morris, senior policy adviser at the Cape York Institute, said Mr Joyce's comments showed he misunderstood the proposal. "There is no suggestion at all there should be a new third chamber of Parliament," Ms Morris told ABC.

"The proposal for a first people's voice is a proposal for an external advisory body, so an advisory body that is outside parliament, outside government."

The Nationals leader did express openness to some kind of treaty.

"You show me what's in the treaty and I'll tell you what the appetite will be," he replied when asked if the public would support a national treaty with Indigenous Australians.

Linda Burney, Labor's spokeswoman for human services, said the Uluru statement was silent on recognising Aboriginal people in the constitution.

"The issue of recognition has to be dealt with and I think it's important to have that recognition within the constitution, that truth-telling," she told ABC radio.

Ms Burney cautioned that a constitutional proposal must remain feasible because its failure could see progress "set back two or three generations".

Ken Wyatt, the Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister, said he was "extremely confident" a referendum could be held in 2018.

Mr Wyatt also warned the aspirations laid out at Uluru had the potential to be seized upon by people agitating against change.

He said "extremely important" bipartisanship from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has remained constant and noted no referendum had ever succeeded where there has been division between the major parties.

On Saturday, Mr Turnbull expressed caution about the outcome from Uluru and emphasised the importance of there being minimal opposition to any referendum proposal.

Mr Turnbull referenced the uphill battle that referendums face because voters are "constitutionally conservative". Only eight of the 44 held since 1901 have been successful.

The findings of the Uluru convention, which capped off a dozen regional dialogues around the country, will now be factored into the Referendum Council's report to the Parliament, due to be delivered in five weeks.


Leftist doctors dismiss Islam’s link to terrorism

An outspoken health lobby group has weighed into the divisive ­debate on terror, dismissing ­“inherent links” between Islam and terrorism and calling on an ­influential parliamentary committee to do the same.

The Public Health Association of Australia, comprising doctors, researchers and health academics, has asked the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to take a stand on the issue when it releases its much-anticipated report into the status of religious freedom later in the year.

“The PHAA urges the committee to include a recommendation in its report that disavows the ­notion there is any inherent link between Islam and terror,” the submission says.

“The committee should condemn any politician who refers divisively ... to any ­religious or ethnic group for the purpose of political gain.”

The tabling of the submission — one of almost 200 presented to the inquiry so far — coincided with last week’s terrorist attack in Manchester, which claimed the lives of 22 concert-goers, many of them children and teenagers.

The suicide bomb attack, by British-born Salman Abedi, 22, ­reportedly radicalised by Islamic State recruiters, has reignited public tensions around the issue, with mounting concerns about radical Islamism offset by some attempts to play down the threat.

It also comes as Australian ­Security Intelligence Organisation head Duncan Lewis last week denied there was evidence to suggest a link between refugees and terrorism in Australia when quizzed at a Senate hearing.

The PHAA submission was co-signed by its president and former politician Michael Moore, Curtin University professor of international health Jaya Duntas, and David Legge, a scholar emeritus in public health at La Trobe University.

With almost 2000 members, the association’s aim is to enhance population health results based on prevention, the social determinants of health and equity principles. As part of that, it develops “evidence-based” policies and ­advocates for these with governments at all levels.

Mr Moore told The Australian that religious intolerance was a ­serious matter, particularly in relation to Islam, and current divisive leadership on the issue was relevant to the inquiry.

“When you look at terrorism and the IRA, I don’t think many people blamed Christianity for terrorism when clearly there was an overlay. In fact there’s nothing ­inherent in Christianity that links to terrorism,” he said.

“Intolerable behaviour is intolerable behaviour and ... because individuals might frame that around Islam doesn't mean we should accept that.”

Macquarie University political theorist Stephen Chavura described the request as “ridiculous” and said it appeared the PHAA wished to condemn “non-politically correct statements” about ­religion.

“What on earth kind of authority does the Public Health Association of Australia have to declare on the connection between Islam and terror?” he said.

“Just because there might not be an ‘inherent link’, doesn’t mean that there is no connection at all. The fact is there is a connection ­between some modes of Islamic expression and terrorism.

“Whether it’s ‘true’ Islam is ­irrelevant for the state to decide. It’s an issue for theologians.”

Dr Chavura said that division on an issue as complex as terrorism was “simply part of what it is to live in an open society”.

Senator Jacqui Lambie, who has previously advocated deportation for Muslims who endorse sharia law, said that links did exist between terrorism and ­religions or movements with extreme views.


Time to confront local Islamists: this is war


Britain has been invaded. Whitehall has revealed that there are 23,000 suspected terrorists inside the UK. What it didn’t say is that the British army reserve has just 29,940 active personnel. The ­implications are clear, but no politician will admit them. When the number of enemies inside a nation nears the number of its active army reserve, the nation cannot hold. Britain and the Commonwealth states should be on a war footing. That means closing borders, strengthening treason laws and bolstering defence.

Islamists are engaged in total war against the West. The latest figures on jihadis in Britain prove their success in penetrating the heart of Western democracy without our knowledge. Intelligence agencies in Britain, the US and Australia appear to be concealing the immensity of the jihadist threat within. We must question why British intelligence did not ­reveal the staggering number of potential jihadis in the country ­before now. We can ill afford intelligence services that tell us half-truths and lies by omission that protect an enemy within committed to our destruction.

Islamists are engaged in total war against free world people. In the 21st century, total war is commonly conducted by non-state ­actors that aim to destroy legitimate states by any means necessary. The chief enemy of the modern West is a coalition of non-state actors whose militant front is Islamic jihad. Its combatants aim to overthrow liberal democracies by subverting the central organs of the state and replacing the gov­erning principles of free society with sharia. However, Western leaders are conducting the war against 21st century jihad with a 20th century mindset. They focus on foreign wars and militant acts while the enemy subverts our ­nations from within.

The best Western leaders ­protect our borders, the worst ­appease or collaborate with the enemy, but few openly state the alpha and omega of the jihadis’ total war: a global empire under Islam that requires the death of the West.

Following the Manchester bomb­ing, the British government finally told the truth about what decades of multiculturalism have produced in Britain: 23,000 terrorists. The Times reported that the initial figure of 3000 jihadists was a function of MI5 operational limits, not reality. The intelligence agency can keep eyes on about 3000 individuals at any one time, so it creates a priority classification list with categories such as active and residual risk. But the three major jihadist attacks on Britain in recent years were conducted by men who had been ­investigated and subsequently ­removed from the active terror watch list. These residual jihadis number about 20,000.

The revelation that there is a potential jihadist army inside ­Britain about 7000 personnel short of Britain’s army reserve raises the question of war. But Britons must surely question also why the state withheld such critical information during the Brexit debate when ­issues of national security, border and immigration policy determined the outcome. The concealment of such information begs the question of how many other intelligence services are concealing the true state of the jihadist threat within the West.

ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis’s recent denial of the ­relationship between the refugee ­intake and terrorism does not ­inspire confidence. In response to Pauline Hanson’s question about it, he responded that there is no evidence of such a link. Perhaps Senator Hanson should revive her “please explain” on these names: Man Haron Monis, Farhad ­Jabour and Mohammad Ali Baryalei, as well as the dozens of asylum-seekers who have ­received adverse security assessments from ASIO.

It is not the first time that Lewis has seemed more critical of those who defend the West than our ­jihadi foes. In 2015 he allegedly told some MPs who spoke out about the link between Islam and terrorism that their comments could threaten national security.

Minimising the link between porous borders, refugee programs and the development of jihad as a Western phenomenon is a common Islamist tactic. In the information age, intelligence services would be better to admit the threat of jihad while repeating the obvious truth that not all ­Muslims are jihadis.

I warned in 2015 that the West would win the battle against ­Islamic State but lose the war against Islamism unless Western leaders recognised jihad as a substantive ideology. Jihad is an ideology first and last. Its militant expression is Islamic terrorism whose primary purpose is not to instil terror but to destabilise and exhaust the protective capacity of legitimate governments. In that sense, jihad is akin to militant socialism. The end of revolutionary socialism is the communist state. The end of revolutionary jihad is the Islamic state.

The comprehensive ideology of jihad is set out in Management of Savagery, the Islamic State ­playbook reportedly written by former al-Qa’ida official Mohammad Hasan Khalil al-Hakim. In it, Hakim clarifies that gradual, subversive jihad is a total war strategy. He states that jihadis are: “Progressing until it is possible to expand and attack the ­enemies in order to repel them, plunder their money, and place them in a constant state of apprehension and (make them) desire reconciliation.”

The Coalition has done much to counter what I would call hard jihad, namely the advocacy, ­financing and enactment of ­Islamic terrorism. But few Western governments have tackled soft jihad: the teaching, preparation and promotion of jihadist ideology including gradual subversion of the state, liberal institutions and the fundamental values of Western society. To counter jihadists’ total war against the West, the government should consider the powers ­created to protect Australia’s freedom during the total wars of the 20th century.

The piecemeal ­approach employed by the West in response to jihad is born of a ­reluctance to face reality. The laws of peacetime can no longer ­accommodate the jihadist menace within Western states. When the number of potential enemy combatants inside Britain is only 7000 men short of its army reserve, we must face the reality that the enemy is inside the gate. It is time to state the four words the West hoped never to utter again: we are at war.


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, 2017

Ahmadiyya Muslim congregation take to Perth streets to condemn Manchester attack

Not mentioned below is that the Ahmadis are a sect of Islam regarded as heretical by other Muslims. They have an extra prophet --  Mirza Ghulam Ahmad -- later than Mohammed.  They are often persecuted by other Muslims

MEMBERS of a Perth Muslim congregation took to the CBD on the weekend to condemn last week’s terror attacks in Manchester.

Imam Kamran Tahir and members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim congregation stood in the middle of the Murray Street mall on Saturday wearing T-shirts that read “I’m a Muslim. Ask me anything”.

Mr Tahir said the actions of suicide bomber Salman Abedi — who killed 22 and injured at least 119 during an Ariana Grande concert— was totally contradictory to the teachings of Islam.

“It was heartbreaking for us to see in the name of our faith that this atrocity was happening and that beloved human beings were unfortunately being killed in the name of Islam,” he said.

“It was essential to show that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people who mourned the unfortunate deaths of those who lost their lives in Manchester.”

Mr Tahir said the response from members of the public was overwhelmingly positive.

“A lot of the people walking past were giving us hugs, high-fiving us, shaking our hands and really appreciating what we are doing.

“Of course, you had the odd one or two who didn’t like what we had to say but the majority were really appreciative.”
Survivor of the London underground bombings gives her take on the Manchester Attack.

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim congregation will return to the CBD next weekend in order to offer people the chance to ask questions about Islam and Muslims.

When asked if he could teach the Perth public a single message, Mr Tahir said it would be that Islam teaches love for all and hatred for none.


Sir Lunchalot is in jail at last

Disgraced former NSW minister Ian Macdonald will have to stay behind bars until he is sentenced after his bail was revoked at his sentence hearing.

Macdonald and ex-union boss John Maitland were taken into custody on Friday after Justice Christine Adamson revoked their bail, which she had continued after they were convicted in March.

Justice Adamson said she will "endeavour" to sentence the men on Friday.

Macdonald, 68, was found guilty of misconduct in public office for signing over a valuable coal exploration licence to Doyles Creek Mining, a company chaired by Maitland, when he was NSW mineral resources minister in 2008.

Maitland, 71, who made $6 million selling shares in a company that acquired Doyles Creek Mining after the licence was granted, was found guilty of being an accessory to the misconduct.

On Friday, Maitland's daughter embraced him in the NSW Supreme Court dock, before she stormed out of the room saying: "It's so wrong, you're all disgusting".

The jury was told unexplored coal resources were "as rare as hen's teeth" in NSW and the state was facing budget constraints when the multimillion-dollar licence was given away without a competitive tender.

At their sentence hearing, Crown prosecutor Michael McHugh SC said the misconduct warranted full-time custody.

He cited comments made by another judge who, when jailing former minister Eddie Obeid, talked about ministerial public duties and public confidence.

Macdonald's barrister Matthew Johnston SC tendered references including two from broadcaster Alan Jones and former MP John Della Bosca but Justice Adamson refused to make them public, and referred to the broadcaster saying that Macdonald was found guilty by a court of "public opinion".

Mr McHugh also said the Director of Public Prosecutions intends to apply for a $6 million proceeds of crime order against Maitland.


Navy's troubled warships 'expected' to be back in service by October, senators told

Defence procurement in Australia is repeatedly a shambles.  The only consolation is that it seems just as bad in the UK and USA

The Chief of Navy says he expects Australia's two largest and most expensive warships will be back in service by October this year.

Australia's two Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs), HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide, have been docked in Sydney since March after problems were discovered with their propulsion systems.

Facing a Senate Estimates hearing, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett confirmed HMAS Adelaide will remain in dry dock at Garden Island where engineers are closely examining her propulsion pods.

"If there's anything that we discover from her that we then need to apply with [HMAS] Canberra [that] will be done in that docking in the third quarter of this year," he said.

    "The expectation [is] that both ships will be able to be back in service by the end of the fourth quarter of this year."

During extensive questioning from Labor senator Kim Carr, the Navy Chief acknowledged Australia's newest warships will have spent more time out of service this year than on operations.

"They will have been alongside for more time than they will have been at sea, Senator, that's correct," Vice Admiral Barrett said.

Earlier this month, the Navy confirmed HMAS Adelaide would miss highly-anticipated war games with the United States at the end of June, and said it was too early to say whether HMAS Canberra would be able to participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre — even in a reduced capacity.

Defence's head of maritime systems Rear Admiral Adam Grunsell said it was also too early to say how much it would cost to repair its two largest warships, and some of the eventual bill may be covered by warranty.

"It will aggregated at the end of the activity or towards the end of activity," he said. "I can't give you the exact cost at this stage."

Rear Admiral Grunsell has previously said a design flaw could not be ruled out as a reason for the propulsion problems — although senior Navy figures say the latest testing points to failures with seals used inside the high-tech azimuth pods on the LHDs.

HMAS Canberra was commissioned into service in 2014, while her sister ship HMAS Adelaide was commissioned 18 months ago, with both LHDs costing a total of about $3 billion.


Principals under pressure to enrol children with disabilities without support

This is a result of the manic Leftist committment to "all men are equal".  Kids with disabilities must be placed in mainstream schools instead of the old system of special schools.  The result is mayhem with the disabled not given the special attention they need and mainstream classes being disrupted by the special needs students

A lack of support and resources to teach children with disabilities or special needs has resulted in unsafe classrooms for teachers and students, a survey has revealed.

The survey of principals of more than 200 primary schools in south-western Sydney also found breaches of disability discrimination laws "occur on a regular basis".

Eighty-nine per cent of principals rated the funding for students with a disability or special needs was either poor or very poor, according a submission from South Western Sydney Primary Principals to a NSW parliamentary inquiry into students with a disability or special needs in NSW schools.

Their submission contained examples of how inadequate resources had left schools unable to cater for some children with disabilities and special needs, including one student whose high anxiety led to outbursts of physical aggression.

"He has bitten, kicked, strike out at teachers and students on at least 15 occasions in two weeks," the submission said. "He will abscond from the classroom. This student does not attract any funding."

Another student attracted funding for a teachers' aid for only three hours a day despite requiring "full toileting assistance".

"She requires a [teachers' aid] to support her with changing and if she requires showering of a full change she requires two [teachers' aids] at times," the submission said.

The submission said funding was often only provided for a child's "primary disability", and not for other special needs: "Schools may undertake a laborious process to apply for additional funds. The result is usually tardy and inadequate."

Inflexible staffing arrangements and excessive class sizes resulted in "inadequate" learning opportunities for children with disabilities and special needs.

"Principals are sometimes placed in a position whereby they feel compelled to enrol a child with a disability/special needs knowing that they are not able to provide the necessary supports and resources that a child requires to fully access the curriculum," the submission said.

"The pressure to do so from NSW Department [of] Education personnel is significant."

It also said parents were "compelled" by education bureaucrats to complete requests for resources that were "totally inadequate" for their children.

"Parents are sometimes forced to accept enrolment placements that they know are not sufficient for their child due to a lack of special placements available," the submission said. "They are usually given no better alternative."

A majority of principals reported school counselling services were inadequate, with one counsellor per 1500 students: "Some of the students with greatest needs (e.g. emotionally disturbed/mental diagnosis) have access to a school counsellor less than one day per week."

The safety concerns expressed by the principals of schools in south-western Sydney were echoed in the submission from the NSW Primary Principals' Association.

"Principals are struggling to keep staff and other vulnerable students safe," the submission said. "Staff are being injured at alarming rates. Many staff in [Schools for Specific Purposes] come to work expecting to be hurt."

Chris Presland, the president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, told the inquiry there had been an increase in physical threats, assaults, verbal threats and abuse towards staff and students.

Mr Presland also said there was a growing number of students with disabilities being integrated into mainstream schools: "Teachers put the education of their students first, but they are finding it more and more difficult to cope with the many students with disabilities or special needs in their classes."

The inquiry, chaired by the Liberal Party's Lou Amato, received more than 400 submissions from teachers, parents, government agencies and disability organisations. It will conduct its next public hearing in Tamworth on June 8.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education did not answer specific questions but issued a statement that said more than $1 billion was provided directly to schools or through specialist programs and services to assist students with a disability.

"In 2017, more than $237 million of needs-based funding has been allocated to schools in south-western Sydney for principals to use flexibly to support the learning needs of all students in their schools," he said.

He added: "The department also works with schools to ensure the environment for students and staff is conducive for effective, safe learning and takes action to address situations brought to its attention where this may not be the case."

David Roy, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle's School of Education, expressed concerns about placing children with disabilities in special schools.

"Often the argument is that the students are happier," he said. "If we replaced the words disability with 'black' or 'Muslim' or 'gay' then the discriminatory aspect of this is apparent. That is not withstanding the educational reasons that it is harming not only the students isolated but also the wider social cohesion of the whole school and community."

Mr Roy also said research indicated mainstream students were not adversely affected if students with disabilities were in their class: "In fact, those very same 'diverse' students often bring new ways of thinking to the whole class. We need to stop seeing disability as a deficit, but as also having assets attached."


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, 2017

An ignorant Australian Greenie

I put up yesterday some arrogant, elitist comments from an Australian Greenie.  The Greenie, Dayne Pratzky, also uttered  some ignorant Leftist stereotypes about the USA. Because it is rich and powerful, all Leftists hate the USA.  Even American Leftists do. A conservative American  reader was rightly incensed at the unbalanced comments.  And has replied to them.  First the comments then the reply:

“I’m a custodian of society, we all are. If you don’t want to live in a gun-filled and drug-filled society like America, you’ve got to fight to keep Australia the way it is now.”

We are a country of 326 million of which 325 million are not criminals. There are a lot of drug users but by far the majority of the population are not drug addicts. We become alarmed when 100 people in a small state overdose on illegal and tainted drugs. I will not miss nor will I grieve for  these misfits but I will support trying to protect the citizens from these drugs. Pharmaceutical companies continue to find ways to make life more comfortable but leave it to some to find the drug world a place to retreat into to avoid all of life's responsibilities.

Our constitution makes it very clear that the forefathers had a built in fear of government, to the extent that they wrote in a single demand that citizens would never be disarmed so as to safeguard against powerful people strong arming the removal of all rights. Many people miss the fact that such freedoms come with responsibility as well as risks of abuse. People own guns for all kinds of reasons, some for pleasure, some for protection, some for crime.

We are a long way from armed uprising but the possibility remains in the minds of government people. Almost every state in the Union has more armed citizens than the entire standing army and you can bet that even the army would not stand on the side of a tyrant government. Every citizen has at least one bullet, it is called a vote.

Our second amendment does not endorse crime, rather crime uses what ever advantage it can gain. Drugs are another issue but it is people that use drugs that make the issue.  Our country is under siege both from in and from without. It will always be that way as long as there is big profit in drugs.

In is people like Pratzky that our constitution protects us from.

Oh look, the rainbow fascists are at it again

Miranda Devine

THE rainbow fascists are at it again. This time they’re trying to erase tennis great Margaret Court from the sport’s history because she dared to express a view on marriage contrary to Qantas’ gay activist CEO Alan Joyce.

“I am disappointed that Qantas has become an active promoter for same-sex marriage,” she wrote in a letter to The West Australian last week.

“I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible. Your statement leaves me no option but to use other airlines where possible for my extensive travelling.”

Court is free to boycott Qantas if she wishes, and she is hardly the only Australian affronted by Irishman Joyce’s hijacking of our national airline as his personal political plaything.

But for sticking her head above the parapet, she has been pilloried, with a growing chorus, driven by Czech-American Martina Navratilova, pushing to delete her name from the Melbourne stadium named in her honour.

As a reader points out, this is a modern version of “Damnatio memoriae”, a punishment in Ancient Rome considered worse than death. Latin for “condemnation of memory” it was a form of dishonour aimed at erasing the person from history.

Such an extreme reaction to an honestly held Christian belief in traditional marriage is what is driving fence-sitters away from the cause.


Turnbull warns Australian voters 'conservative' on constitutional change

He's spot on about that

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has cautiously responded to Indigenous leaders' calls for a constitutionally enshrined "voice" to parliament, warning that Australians are "conservative" about constitutional change.

Speaking at a lunch at Crown on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, Mr Turnbull thanked Indigenous leaders who agreed on a historic declaration at Uluru on Friday to reject a minimalist version of constitutional recognition of Indigenous people. But he gave a thinly veiled warning that their more ambitious recommendation would face challenges in a nation in which referendums have historically been defeated.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, speaking at the same gathering, also did not specifically endorse the Uluru statement, but urged Australians to consider the calls with an "open mind".

The Prime Minister warned that a successful constitutional referendum must have "resolute solidarity" or "minimal or at least tepid opposition".

Mr Turnbull did not directly address the contents of the statement of the Heart, which outlined a roadmap for a treaty and called for the constitution to enshrine the Indigenous voice in parliament, through the creation of an elected indigenous advisory body.

"As I know better than most, changing the Australian constitution is not easy - 44 referendums and only eight successes," he told the audience, which included campaigners for the 1967 referendum and plaintiffs in the historic Mabo case.

"Indeed, history would indicate that in order to succeed, not only must there be overwhelming support but minimal or at least tepid opposition.

"No political deal, no cross-party compromise, no leader's handshake can deliver constitutional change. To do that, a constitutionally conservative nation must be persuaded that the proposed amendments respect the fundamental values of the constitution and will deliver precise changes that are clearly understood to be of benefit to all Australians."

The Referendum Council is yet to advise Mr Turnbull and Opposition Leader Mr Shorten in a report delivered on June 30.

Mr Shorten, who last year indicated a willingness to consider a treaty but has been more muted on the question since then, said there was "sincere desire for bipartisanship" on reconciliation.

"We owe those members and those that participated the time and the space to finish their work and we owe them an open mind on the big questions: the form that recognition takes on treaties, on changes required in the constitution and on the best way to fulfil a legitimate and long-held position for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people," he said.

But he warned that arriving at a final proposal may be challenging.

"I do not doubt the size of the mountain that we will have to climb," he said. "But for any Australian in need of inspiration, I would say look to our history, look to that spirit of '67, or Eddie Mabo."

Greens leader Richard Di Natale criticised the Prime Minister for not endorsing the Uluru declaration. He supported calls for a treaty and an Indigenous voice in Parliament.

"I'm deeply concerned, the Prime Minister had an opportunity today to say, 'I stand with our First Nation people, I've heard them and we are going to work towards a treaty and towards as a strong Aboriginal voice', and instead he appears to have backed away from any significant change," he said.

The National Reconciliation Week Luncheon marked the first opportunity for both leaders to respond to the Uluru Statement, which moved away from the symbolic recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution in favour of enshrining a "First Nations Voice".

"In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard," read the statement.

The Uluru declaration also called for a "Makarrata Commission" that would supervise agreements between Indigenous groups and government and a period of "truth-telling" about the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle," read the statement. Makarrata is a Yolngu word for treaty or settlement.

The Referendum Council's co-chair Pat Anderson said in its statement on Friday that "delegates agreed that sovereignty has never been ceded or extinguished".

High rates of suicide, closures of communities and youth detention were all proof of the need for constitutional reform, the co-chair said.

 The 1967 referendum included Aboriginal Australians in the census. The luncheon also fell on the 25th anniversary of the High Court's decision to uphold native title rights in the Mabo case.


Ramshackle federation lives on

Robert Carling

The recent federal budget clearly marks a shift to higher spending and higher taxation; and a retreat from the Coalition government's previous (at least rhetorical) emphasis on expenditure discipline rather than tax increases. What has been less noticed is the budget's affirmation -- by action if not explicitly -- of Australia's ramshackle version of federalism.

The recent history of false starts towards reform of federalism includes the Abbott government's federation white paper, which aimed to make the states 'sovereign in their own sphere'. This raised hopes that the Commonwealth might withdraw from state functions and give the states revenue capacities and powers more in line with their spending responsibilities.

Regrettably, the white paper project was aborted when Malcolm Turnbull took the reins.
Turnbull was still apparently thinking in the spirit of the white paper when he proposed, a year ago, that the Commonwealth withdraw from school funding and give the states greater revenue capacity to pay for schools themselves. But that idea was also quickly withdrawn.

In contrast, we now have a budget that revels in using the familiar levers of grants and conditions to impose the federal government's policy will on state functions. That the states are willing accomplices does not alter the fact that the principles of competitive, accountable and efficient federalism are being trashed.

The budget takes Commonwealth involvement in school funding to new heights. Just one other example of the budget's bossy, Canberra-knows-best tone is the proposal to change the grant for public housing to require the states 'to deliver on housing supply targets and reform their planning systems'. This begs the question: why should the Commonwealth be involved in public housing at all?

The approach to federalism in this budget is not an historical aberration. It represents a further instalment in the decades-long trend towards more centralised government. Vertical imbalance is now more entrenched than ever, and our federal system further than ever from the principles of competition, accountability and efficiency.

The system will continue to lumber on, but it could be so much 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

28 May, 2017

A secretive EPA in Australia

NSW home owners could be living near contaminated land without knowing because the state's environmental watchdog has failed to disclose the information, a government review has found.

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority told the review it decided not to declare all contaminated residential sites because it could "affect the valuation of a property".

The report was led by Macquarie University Professor Mark Taylor who found the EPA failed to make the information public even when the "contamination is significant enough to warrant regulation".

While the EPA is committed to declaring contamination on and near commercial and industrial land, the review found it "generally does not declare off-site residential land to avoid unnecessarily blighting that land and causing undue concern".

The review continues to say the EPA first determines if the contamination poses health or environmental risks before it decides to disclose the information to residents.

The review found two examples where off-site residential properties near "significantly contaminated" sites were not declared to affected residents and no reason was provided why in the EPA's briefing notes.

The EPA says in the report it is investigating the matter.

The environmental watchdog has committed to a revised declaration process, which will assure a more "standardised approach", but decisions to declare or not declare the contamination will continue to be made on a "case-by-case basis", the report says.

However, the EPA will not declare all contaminated sites that are deemed "significant enough to warrant regulation".

In a statement released on Sunday, the EPA says if the contaminated site poses an impact on neighbouring properties, it's up to the council to reveal that information and in cases of significantly contaminated sites, the information is "added to the public record, published in the Government Gazette, notification is provided to the landowner, polluter, land occupier and local council or authority".

"Local authorities are then tasked to record this information on property planning certificates issued under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act," the EPA said in the statement.

The environmental watchdog noted NSW had some of the strictest reporting requirements in Australia, and "human health and the environment are the priority".

"Property value never overrides the EPA's protection of human health and the environment regarding significantly contaminated sites," the EPA said.


The arrogance of a Greenie

"We have to lead the government in what we want"

SO MANY people feel like they can’t make a difference nowadays but not Dayne Pratzky aka the Frackman.

Eight years ago he started a war with the coal seam gas industry that left him financially and emotionally drained but still angry enough to rip out the gas connection in his new house. “I will not have a part of it, I will not be held hostage to the gas industry in cooking and heating,” Pratzky told

Pratzky, who has embraced solar power at home, gained infamy when he appeared in the hit 2015 movie Frackman about his fight against gas companies who wanted to drill on his property in Queensland’s Darling Downs.

While he now lives in Forster in NSW’s Mid North Coast, Pratzky does not think he lost, despite the high price he’s paid for his activism. “I’ve lost eight years of my life, I’ve financially ruined myself and it will take time to get back on my feet but I’ll be back, I’m not finished.”

Pratzky believes he also helped others, and contributed to destroying the onshore gas industry in Australia. Since then the Victorian government has banned all onshore gas exploration and production, and there are delays over projects in NSW and the NT.

“You could say I lost but you could also say I won because the industry’s social licence has been destroyed,” Pratzky said.

“They are losing the PR battle and people don’t trust the oil and gas industry. “There’s no place for it in this country, and I’m proud of that.”

Ultimately Pratzky believes companies will never be a match for passionate people. “They do this for a job, they get paid, go home and do something else. But activists go home and eat and breathe it, that’s why you can’t beat activists because they are doing it because they want to. You can’t beat passion.”

Asked whether he had any regrets, Pratzky reckons he would have gone even harder. “I realise that being a passenger in policy, it’s no way forward,” he said. “We are having things that are not good for us forced down our throats.

“The government doesn’t lead, it follows. We have to lead the government in what we want.”

Far from feeling disempowered, Pratzky believes the rise of social media has enabled people to fight for what they believed in more than ever before. “Now I say if you’re not an activist, you’re just a whinger — there’s no excuse anymore,” Pratzky said.

“You used to have to fight to get yourself in the media, it would have to be a great story for them to get involved, but part of our rise to notoriety was because of social media.

“We had the ability to get the message out and it’s changed society. “You can be a keyboard warrior now, you can write a letter, join a group and educate yourself far easier than before.”

And contrary to what many people think, Pratzky said activists were not the rainbow-clothes wearing, bong smoking rabble they were often made out to be.

Pratzky, a carpenter and builder enjoys pig-shooting, is himself an unlikely activist and he said the social aspect of activism was actually the best part about it.

“The best thing is the people you meet ... they are absolutely phenomenal people, good Aussies, that’s why I stay involved, to help them save their properties,” he said.

“It’s not the ‘usual suspects’, it’s normal people trying to protect their way of life and business.”

Pratzky, who will be sharing his experiences during a talk at the Opera House on Saturday, wants to continue encouraging people to stand up for what they believe in.

“You’ve got to put yourself out there,” he said. “If there’s something wrong in our area, you should know about it,” he said.

“I’m a custodian of society, we all are. If you don’t want to live in a gun-filled and drug-filled society like America, you’ve got to fight to keep Australia the way it is now.”


Australian spy boss sparks row over refugees

ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis has declined to elaborate on his claim that there is “absolutely no evidence” of a link between Australia’s refugee intake and ­terrorism, despite multiple Islamic terrorist acts in the past three years involving individuals on ­humanitarian visas, or their children.

One Nation seized on Mr Lewis’s comments, with Queensland senator Malcolm Roberts tweeting: “If ASIO can’t see a link between refugees and terrorism we are in far greater danger than I thought.”

Labor MP Anne Aly, an Islamic radicalisation expert, supported Mr Lewis, while Philip Ruddock, a former Liberal immigration minister and attorney-general, said while one could not ignore the issue, “simply to blame all refugees is over-simplistic”.

On Thursday, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson grilled Mr Lewis, a former special forces commander, in a Senate estimates hearing about Islam, radicalisation, refugees and terrorism.

She first asked Mr Lewis if he could confirm that the four terrorist attacks and the 12 foiled on Australian soil were “committed by Muslims”.

Mr Lewis replied: “Certainly of the 12 thwarted attacks, one of those indeed involved a right-wing extremist, so, the answer is ‘no’, they have not always been carried out by Muslims.”

During the exchanges, the ASIO chief said: “We’re not interested in religion. We are interested in whether an individual is exhibiting or practising violence.”

Senator Hanson then asked: “Do you believe that the threat is being brought in possibly from Middle Eastern refugees that are coming out to Australia?”

Mr Lewis replied: “I have abso­lutely no evidence to suggest there is a connection between refugees and terrorism.”

Islamic State-inspired gunman Man Haron Monis, who took hostages and killed one of them during the Lindt cafe siege in 2014, came to Australia on a business visa before successfully applying for asylum.

Abdul Numan Haider, the Melbourne 18-year-old killed after attacking police with a knife three months earlier, was an Afghan-born Australian citizen whose family arrived as refugees.

Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old jihadist who killed NSW police civilian accountant Curtis Cheng in Sydney in 2015 was an Iranian-born Australian citizen of Kurdish-Iraqi background whose family came as refugees.

At least a dozen other first or second-generation Muslim ­mi­grants have been convicted of terror-related charges.

Senator Roberts last night told The Weekend Australian: “We see a lot of terrorism around the world from refugees who have come in particularly from Islamic countries. Most people so far have hidden the obvious correlation between Islam and terrorism and refused to discuss it.

“We’re stunned that ASIO doesn’t do that, and that the Australian Federal Police doesn’t.”

Mr Lewis declined to answer questions requesting he expand on his statements in Senate estimates. He has previously sparked controversy for what some conservative Coalition MPs saw as an effort to play down the threat of ­Islamic radicalisation.

In 2015, The Australian revealed Mr Lewis had telephoned MPs publicly critical of attitudes within the Australian Muslim community, asking them to use the “soothing language favoured by Malcolm Turnbull in their public discussion of Islam”.

Speaking from Liberia last night, Mr Ruddock said it would be unrealistic to say immigration and refugee questions “play no role in relation to trying to resolve difficult issues”, but he said “integrity in selection is always of the ­utmost importance. Some of the people you cite were never refugees and deceived us in relation in to their entitlements.

“Monis was never a refugee. He clearly had difficult psychological problems.”

Mr Ruddock noted many of those who had committed ­Islamic-inspired terrorism here had been born in Australia, and said the question was “why have we failed to pass on our values”, particularly respecting the law.

Dr Aly said: “I think Duncan Lewis knows more than Pauline Hanson, and if Duncan Lewis is saying that, we should be paying attention to him.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton declined to comment.


Mining revival

House-buyers seeking a bargain amid the wreckage of Australia's mining boom might want to get in quick.

Port Hedland, a shipping hub for the Pilbara iron ore region in Western Australia, saw house prices collapse nearly 70 per cent in the past four years as workers lost their jobs and left amid the end of a resources investment boom. But prices there have reached a bottom and are now even rising.

Brighter spots in housing is one of three chunks of evidence adding to a growing sense that resource-based state economies are improving. The RBA's liaison with businesses and its data analysis show emerging signs that the Queensland and WA slowdowns are coming to an end, it said earlier this month. The regions' jobs markets, meanwhile, showed a healthy pickup in April.

The recent commodities rally has laid a foundation for recovery. While the price of iron ore — the country's biggest export — has slipped after unexpectedly rebounding toward the end of last year, it remains well above the lows beneath $US40 seen in late 2015. Still, there is potential for the steel-making metal to fall further as No 1 trading partner China stockpiles its holdings.

Port Hedland last month approved BHP Billiton's request to boost the amount of iron ore it ships through the port by 5 million tonnes to 275 million tonnes a year, after the miner initially sought an increase to 290 million tonnes. Coal-mining Queensland, meanwhile, is starting to reap benefits from large-scale liquefied natural gas projects coming on stream.

A CoreLogic report earlier this month found that many mining towns across the country were seeing sales volumes of houses lift and the rate of price declines starting to slow. But it's still a far cry from the good times, when median prices in the fly-ridden, cyclone-prone outpost of Karratha, the Pilbara's biggest town, topped Sydney's by 49 per cent.

Nobody's expecting a return to the boom years, when mining workers with no degrees were commanding salaries akin to that of Wall Street bankers. The bonanza lasted for much of the decade though 2012. But recent green shoots bolster the RBA's case that the unwinding of the mining investment boom is almost done, as the central bank seeks to diversify the economy toward services industries.

Drivers of growth in mining states appear to be broader-based than just commodities. WA is getting a $2.3 billion overhaul of its roads and rails, with a new 60,000-seat stadium also under construction, while works are well underway on the Gold Coast in preparation for the city hosting next year's Commonwealth Games.

Queensland "has got a pretty good spread of industries, for example tourism and education, so once the worst of this mining pullback is done, then the prospects are pretty good", said Steven Milch, chief economist at Suncorp Corporate Services.

'Slowly picking up'

Deloitte Access Economics is also optimistic about Queensland. It forecasts the north-east state to grow 4.5 per cent in fiscal 2018, outstripping NSW's 3 per cent and Victoria's 3.4 per cent. Growth in WA, the state hardest hit by the mining downturn, is tipped to accelerate from 0.2 per cent in fiscal 2018 to 2.2 per cent the next year.

ANZ Bank gave a tempered assessment in a May survey: "While activity in Western Australia continues to expand well below trend pace, the weight of the downturn is lifting." The bank's Queensland index also improved, but it said that labour-market slack was still a drag on economic activity.

April data showed improvement in the resource states' job markets. Queensland added a net 62,100 roles in the six months through April, the most of any state during the period. WA's jobless rate dropped 0.6 per centage points to 5.9 per cent, the biggest decline in almost two years.

"It is busy over here," said Guy Fulcher, a recruitment consultant at Zenith Search agency in Perth. "It's been slowly picking up in the past 12 months. It's still nowhere near where it was in the boom time, but compared with how quiet it was, it's a lot better."

'Skull and crossbones'

With soaring property prices in Sydney and Melbourne far out of reach for many workers, some economists also expect to see northward migration to Queensland increase. That might go some way to easing an apartment supply glut in Brisbane, which the RBA has identified as a significant restraint on prices in the state's biggest city.

It's still a stretch to suggest that resurgent mining states can pick up Australia's growth baton should east-coast property markets stutter.

Back in Port Hedland's real estate market, Dunning said he's also seen a sharp drop in rental vacancies, usually a sign that employers are in hiring mode, while buyer demand is almost entirely from owner-occupiers. He says the real gains won't come until a different type of bargain hunter reappears.

"Nothing will happen dramatically until the investors start to come back," said Dunning. "For investors, Port Hedland has got a skull and crossbones on 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

26 May, 2017

New 50c coin commemorates Mabo and 1967 referendum

The events concerned were significant so it is not unreasonable to commemorate them but what about some centenaries that could have been commemorated?  In 1917 Lieutenant Frank Hubert McNamara became the first Australian airman to receive the Victoria Cross; in 1917  The two halves of the Trans-Australian Railway met; in 1917 The second plebiscite on the issue of military conscription was held and defeated. But who cares about old white guys and their history these days? 

But while we are on the subject, I might at least note what the 1967 referendum actually showed.  I am guessing that you won't see much discussion of that in the media.  For a start it showed a big majority (91%) of the population voting in favour of Aborigines.  So even in those days of inspissated darkness,  Australians were NOT generally racist in any sense.

But the second finding is more interesting.  Who were the blackguards who voted AGAINST Aboriginal recognition?  As Mitchell showed, they were the people who had most contact with Aborigines.  So dislike of Aborigines can be reality-based rather than based in any racist ideology.  Pesky!  Details here

The face of Eddie Mabo is etched into the newest 50 cent coin, as the Royal Australian Mint commemorates 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since the Mabo decision.

As well as the historic figure, the coin features Torres Strait Islander and Australian Aboriginal flags, and iconic pamphlets from the referendum.

Designed in collaboration with Eddie Mabo’s granddaughter, Boneta-Marie Mabo, the coin was unveiled in a ceremony at Old Parliament House.

Also attending the event was Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion, and people who were involved in the 1967 referendum campaign.

Ms Mabo said she was proud to represent her family. "I am so honoured that the Royal Australian Mint invited me to work with them as an artist to design the coin and that they have given me the opportunity to be a part of such a nationally recognised celebration which means so much to me and my family," she said.

Royal Australian Mint CEO Ross MacDiarmid told SBS World News the anniversaries were two of the most significant events in Australian history.

"Once we realised that these things were coming together and it was also the start of the national reconciliation week it seemed obvious to us that we could create a coin that was going to be a recognising the significance of both of those occasions," he said.

He hopes when people come across the coin they will "stop and reflect on what message might be associated with that coin."

Four million of the coins will be released into circulation at buildings in Canberra, such as the National Library, the National Portrait Gallery and Parliament House, and from there they will make their way around the country.


ABC axes Yassmin Abdel-Magied's Australia Wide program

The ABC is axing the program hosted by Yassmin Abdel-Magied a month after the television presenter and activist sparked outrage over her Anzac Day comments.

Australia Wide is set to be shelved in the coming weeks as part of the national broadcaster's sweeping restructure. As well as programming changes, as many as 200 jobs are being slashed in order to reinvest $50 million a year back into regional and online content.

Abdel-Magied has hosted Australia Wide since 2016. Last month, the presenter courted controversy after publishing an Anzac Day Facebook post that suggested Australians should also remember the suffering of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru.

The retribution was swift and brutal, with many accusing the part-time ABC presenter of politicising a day designed to remember those killed defending their country.

At the time, an ABC spokesman stood by Abdel-Magied – arguing her views do not belong to the national broadcaster. However, as part of the ABC's ongoing restructure, staff were recently told it is time for Australia Wide to go.

Sources inside the ABC told Fairfax Media that management were using the the axing of the community-focused program as a convenient opportunity to show Abdel-Magied the door, or at least minimise her on-screen time


Energy costs threaten manufacturing in Australia

Predictions of the demise of manufacturing in Australia as the economy slowly becomes more service oriented are increasingly widespread. The reason – we are told – has mostly been an uncompetitive labour cost structure. We just can’t make stuff as cheap and as quickly as they can in China, Vietnam or India.

But there are two problems with this. First, manufacturing is far from dead and remains our fifth largest employer: more than double the entire financial, insurance and property sector. The second is that it may no longer be labour costs but something else that could threaten the viability of our manufacturing sector.

That something is energy and the cost of it. Only 20 years ago or so, Australia enjoyed some of the cheapest energy costs in the developed world. Now they are among some of the highest and most worrying is that they are predicted to continue to escalate well beyond inflation. Some hawks are even suggesting prices may double within the decade.

Responding to this is going to mean much more than turning off a few domestic lights at night or switching to energy save mode in the office. A bit like the city kid who hasn’t seen a cow and doesn’t know this is where milk comes from, we city slickers can easily get detached from the bigger reality – and in terms of energy consumption in Australia, the reality is that domestic and commercial are not the major consumers.

Manufacturing – our fifth largest industry – consumes nearly a quarter of energy in the country: more than double the entire residential sector and more than the entire residential and commercial sectors combined. This graph from the Office of the Chief Economist spells it out:

Transport is the largest consumer of energy (chiefly fuel) while in manufacturing it is chiefly electricity. What produces electricity is mainly coal, although renewables are fast on the rise (subsidised as they are for the time being). The graph below courtesy Origin Energy data shows generation by energy source:

So here’s the problem. In public policy and media discussion, much of the debate over energy costs seems to revolve around domestic and perhaps also commercial considerations. The cost of cooling or heating the home, the cost of appliances, even the cost of leaving the TV on at the wall occupy our minds and our thinking and much of the policy debate in the daily media. The answers, we are told, rest in renewables and as a nation we seem happy to embrace them: roof top solar for example was adopted quickly (many of us due no doubt to a mix of environmental responsibility plus a desire to break free from the power companies). We seem content with policies which cast coal fired power as the enemy and renewables as our saviour, without much question on the wider economic impacts beyond "will I still be able to have the lights on and fridge running?"

Where is the national debate about how rapidly rising electricity costs may cripple our fifth largest employer in manufacturing? There are countless stories of significant innovation in manufacturing where even our high labour costs haven’t been the death blow we’ve been told. Away from the trendy inner city coffee shops, energy costs – more specifically the cost of electricity – are becoming a bigger and bigger concern for these businesses and enterprises involved in manufacturing.  It would be criminal in a public policy sense if our national energy policy was more finely tuned to the sensitivities of the inner urban greenie doing their bit for sustainability by growing some zucchini plants in a broccoli box on their balcony, while the industries that power one in four jobs are left out of the debate.

I am not full of hope. The recent Federal Budget announcement of an inland freight line from Melbourne to Brisbane (hoo-ray by the way!) met with a suggestion from The Green’s Sara Hanson-Young that the steel used should be Australian, and preferably from Whyalla. ""If you care about the steel industry, then make sure Government money is being spent on Australian steel and give those steelworkers in Whyalla actually something to smile about," she said.

Well yes. Except for one thing. Making steel is massively energy hungry. To do so, you not only need loads and loads of reliable energy, but the cost of energy is critical. Increase that cost and making steel becomes uneconomic. Massively so. Plus, Whyalla is in South Australia. Their experiments with renewables and reliability to date have hardly been stellar. What do the likes of Sara Hanson-Young have in mind? A solar powered steel smelter?

The energy source that once powered energy hungry industries like steel manufacturing is coal. And coal is very much on the nose, especially with The Greens but also the wider community too. The logical connection between the cost of replacing coal with renewables and the cost and viability impact that will have not just on steel but right across the manufacturing spectrum, seems to rate little thought.

If we are to make this energy transition, we need to have a sensible debate about the impacts on industry and how they can handle that transition without suffering needless economic hardship. Otherwise, yet more might look at closing their Australian operations and head for more cost friendly markets. Letting that happen without at least trying to prevent it would be economically reckless in every sense of the word.


What Australia can learn from Donald Trump’s first budget

Behind the rhetoric that dominates President Trump’s budget — lower taxes, higher defence spending and medicare cuts — is an incredibly valuable lesson for Australia. It is possible to slash government duplication and waste to bring national budgets under control.

One of the biggest money raising exercises proposed by President Trump comes from embracing what I call "the Andrew Robb strategy" of redefining what governments should do.

Robb proposed this when he was shadow finance minister but when Tony Abbott won the subsequent election Robb was given the trade portfolio and redefining government and cost reduction was shelved.

We went on administrative spending sprees and instead of ending duplication with the states we increased it. By expanding the ministry we created jobs for the faithful and blamed the Senate for cuts not passed.

As we all know, the Trump’s administration has a deep element of chaos and his budget is even more speculative than the Australian budget. Vast amounts of the US public service administrative jobs have not been filled so it’s easy to announce measures and another to implement them.

Nevertheless the strategy has clear application for Australia. Let me share with you a few extracts: "Deficit spending has become an ingrained part of the culture in the Nation’s capital.

It must end to avoid passing unsustainable levels of debt on to our children and grandchildren and causing serious economic damage.

"When debt levels keep increasing, more and more of the nation’s resources are required to service that debt and are diverted away from Government services that citizens depend on.

"To help correct this and reach our budget goal in 10 years, the Budget includes $US3.6 trillion in spending reductions," Trump says.

Back to my words. Almost half that $US 3.6 trillion or $1.4 billion comes from reorganising government and applying what Trump calls the "two-penny plan" to non-defence discretionary spending. Previously he used the term "draining the swamp". Those "two penny" programs are separate from social services and medicare payments.

The "2-penny plan" involves reducing non-defence budget authority by two per cent each year, to reach approximately $385 billion in 2027, or just over 1.2 per cent of GDP. Trump admits that "this reduction may seem steep, but the strict and disciplined discretionary policies (already proposed in the budget blueprint) will serve as a down payment on the out-year reforms the Administration will unveil, as it seeks to downsize the mission of the non-defence discretionary budget in the coming years".

In addition Trump proposes comprehensive overhaul to the US tax code to make it simpler, fairer, and more efficient "Our out-dated, overly complex, and burdensome tax system must be reformed to unleash America’s economy," he says.

Compared to Australia the US tax system is simple. The amount of money the US plans to spent on the non-defence discretional spending does not fall all that dramatically but there is little growth. Currently the Australian government and opposition do not take these sorts of issues seriously. We may struggle out of our problems in the way proposed by the Treasurer. But if he is wrong and the opposition comes to government and makes the situation worse then we will have a crisis. To solve the problem either a right or left wing government (you do not have to be right wing) can turn to the Andrew Robb plan or the "2-penny plan" of the US.


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

25 May, 2017

Dud public servants paid to go away: audit report

The above picture of a brown-skinned person with an African hairstyle accompanied the lead to the article below on the front page of the SMH. It was apparently intended to illustrate a dud employee. Reverberations to come?

Dud public servants are being given taxpayer-funded golden handshakes or generous early retirements because departments do not want to deal properly with under-performers, a new government audit has found.

A long-anticipated Australian National Audit Office report on so-called "performance management" processes for public servants found between 14 and 30 per cent of employees in some of Canberra's biggest government departments believed their bosses dealt effectively with under-performing colleagues, with significant areas of improvement identified.

A long-standing frustration for many public servants, the audit considered performance management processes in a range of departments and agencies, including the Australian Tax Office, the departments of the Attorney-General, Veterans' Affairs, Social Services, Industry, Innovation and Science, Agriculture, IP Australia and Canberra's National Film and Sound Archive.

Social Services had the highest number of staff found to be "less than effective" between 2012-13 and 205-16, with 338 employees or 3.06 per cent for the period. Among that group 19.2 per cent had been rated less than effective more than once.

The Attorney-General's department had 176 staff identified for performance management in the period, 2.73 per cent of its total workforce. Veterans' Affairs had 149 staff in the category, of which 10 per cent had been rated less than effective more than once.

Agriculture and Water Resources had 173 staff found to be under-performing, or 0.92 per cent of its workforce, of which 18.5 per cent were repeat poor performers. The Tax Office had 408 staff in the category, or 0.67 per cent of its workforce, with 7.6 per cent rated ineffective more than once.

The report said performance gaps could be difficult to identify for some of the types of work commonly done within the public service, including in areas of policy development and research. It said some staff took sick leave during performance management processes.

"It is not uncommon for employees undergoing under-performance processes to access certified sick leave as either an avoidance technique or because undergoing the procedure itself can exacerbate underlying medical conditions (particularly mental health conditions) or create stress-related conditions," the report said.

"From the manager's and agency's perspective this results in a drawn-out, complex process with difficult judgements to be made about how to best to progress the case."

Dealing with dud public servants isn't a new challenge for government.

A 1920 royal commission report held by the National Archives found "manifestly incompetent" bureaucrats who had been hanging around for years were next to impossible to dislodge from their jobs, labelling them "decent duffers".

The report, tabled in Parliament this week, warned some public servants identified for performance management took advantage of official processes, "including making allegations of bullying and harassment against their manager".

"Under-performance is generally not effectively dealt with in performance management processes, including during the probation period in most agencies, and structured under-performance processes have been infrequently used."

Senior managers had often avoided addressing staff under-performance because of a lack of incentives, support and their own capability.

Despite being common across the public service, the report said probation periods were generally not used "to robustly test the suitability of newly appointed employees", other than at the ATO and the Film and Sound Archive.

The report said the causes of under-performance included personal problems, physical and mental health issues, misconduct including minor absenteeism or behavioural issues, ineffective training and recruitment processes that fail to identify candidates with the capabilities for the job.

"Most agencies could streamline their underperformance procedures to remove repetition and prescription while still ensuring procedural fairness, although provisions in three agencies' enterprise agreements restrict flexibility in this regard.

"In addition, some agency procedures contain requirements that are in excess of those required by legislation or regulation for senior executive service or non-ongoing employees. Not all agencies have transparent procedures for their senior executive service employees, and probation procedures could be improved in all eight agencies," the report said.

Former employment minister Eric Abetz said slack public servants were wasting taxpayer funds and departmental bosses needed to take action.

"Taxpayers expect the public service to be lean, efficient and focused on delivery – not to allow for professional slackers who have turned underperformance into a victimhood industry at huge expense to the taxpayer," the Liberal senator said.

"Instead of this 'job for life' mentality that exists in many APS agencies, the public service should be refocused to become outcomes based and see underperformers managed more effectively – including a preparedness to let staff go."


A shocking government hospital

Night nurses at a Lismore hospital where a NSW mother died of shocking neglect regularly drugged patients, falsified observation checks, played computer games or slept to pass the time on their shifts, a former nurse at the facility has explosively claimed.

The whistle-blower, who did not want to give her real name for fear of retribution, told the horrific treatment in Lismore Base Hospital's Adult Mental Health Unit that resulted in Miriam Merten's death on June 3, 2014 was far from an isolated incident during her time working there due to corner cutting and inappropriate practices among some nurses.

Northern NSW Local Health District has confirmed to that four inpatients died at the facility between 2005 and 2013.

Ms Merten, who was drugged and stripped naked, died eight days after being admitted as an inpatient to the AMHU in mid-2014, court documents revealed.

A coroner's report, dated September 2016, found she died from "traumatic and hypoxic brain injury caused by numerous falls and the self-beatings of her head ... not done with the intention to taking her own life".

Ms Merten died as a result of "about 24" falls she had while locked alone in a seclusion room, according to documents published in the occupational division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The seclusion room, which is three by four metres in dimension, held no furniture except for a mattress on the floor.

Her tragic passing is now the centre of disciplinary proceedings brought by the Health Care Complaints Commission against Christine Borthistle, a former senior nurse at AMHU who was rostered on the nights of the first and second of June. The public release of the court documents and CCTV of Ms Merten's final fatal fall from inside AMHU have also sparked two government-backed reviews.

"(Miriam) used to bang her head from migraines", the former sister said, who told she had spent years caring for Ms Merten at AMHU.

Court documents revealed Ms Merten was admitted to AMHU 58 times between 1990 until mid-2014.

"Miriam was never violent. She was just delirious," the former night nurse said. "I loved her dearly. All she ever wanted was a cup of tea. I was horrified (by her death). I don't think she should have died. It could have been prevented if she had been given a little bit of compassion instead of being manhandled."

The whistleblower quit her almost decade-long post with AMHU in disgust well before Ms Merten's death – so is unable to comment on whether practices have changed in recent years.

She said she left after being "burnt out fighting the system" when her countless complaints about patient neglect and work protocol abuses fell on deaf ears.

She said she worked with nurse Borthistle and was told about the night Ms Merten died.

"Obviously (Borthistle) had a shocking night. She was a good nurse but she had no experience," the whistleblower said, explaining that Borthistle had 40-years experience but no professional training dealing with mental health patients.

The whistleblower confirmed Borthistle died just days before the findings of the tribunal's disciplinary proceedings.

On April 12, the tribunal banned Borthistle from, but not limited to, providing services as an assistant in nursing and mental health services.

The whistleblower said the fears Ms Merten's family expressed that her tragic death was not an isolated incident are "sadly true". She remembers at least 30 to 40 patients who were drugged, stripped naked and locked for hours in the seclusion cell like Ms Merten.

"If we couldn't get them (patients) to sleep and they were screaming like hell you'd chuck them in the single room; in the cell," she said.

"I was told don't go in there to do hourly checks because, 'You might wake them up'. The priority was to mop up the shit and forget about your patient."

The nurse, who had 38 years of psychiatric nursing experience, described AMHU as being "a jail" and said patients would be left for days in the clothes they arrived in or stripped naked if no hospital clothes were available.

"(The hospital) provided PJs but there was always a shortage of PJs and the girls had to have doctor's gowns. They'd walk around in Hepatitis C clothes until the nurses did the washing for them," she said.

She said she was aware of some patients who were "locked up" for almost three years and witnessed four patients die in AMHU – two deaths and two suicides. She added that at least one of the deaths occurred while the patient was in the seclusion cell.

"I've seen patients in the cell for two weeks and they were bad. That was the only way we could contain them. We've found broken teeth. Not false teeth, but real teeth," she said.

As well as locking up patients, the whistle-blower said it was common practice for nurses, particular those rostered on the night shift, to lie about completing rounds to check on patients and rely on the "nurses upper hand" – topping up their medication.

She said some nurses would sit behind the Perspex-screened room of the nurses' station - which was the size of a double bed - and just "tick, tick, tick" the five hour rounds as completed on the paper in front of them. Asked how she knew this, she admitted: "I did it too."

She said night duty staff get "the best shifts" as there is no management around and so got away with anything. She said it was common place for night shift nurses to "tranquilise" patients to get them to sleep long enough to be awoken just as the morning nurses arrived.

She said, sadly such doping seemed necessary as some patients were extremely violent and staffing levels would mean you couldn't check on patients if there weren't two nurses awake at the same time. However, she said it wouldn't work on every patient.

"Miriam was a case where you couldn't. She had a tolerance, she'd walk through it," she said.

As well as failing to check on patients, some night nurses would ignore patients who stood before them banging on the Perspex glass. These nurses were known as "office sitters" among other staff.

"Night nurses just used to sit on their bum … and play computer games. It was like (they were) playing poker machines," she said.

One NSW mother, who spoke to on the condition of anonymity, said she had witnessed firsthand the cruelty and abuse of the AMHU nurses when her son was admitted as a patient 18 months ago.

She claims her son received nearly "non-existent care" during his month-long stint at AMHU and the abuse from nurse staff was so concerning she has made two formal complaints to the Lismore Base Hospital. She is yet to receive a response past the hospital's initial automated email.

"He was in there about three-and-a-half weeks a month. He had no support whatsoever," she said.

"His girlfriend came to visit and he was treated deplorably and made fun of by staff. He was abused whilst she was there."

She claims one time during a visit with her son she tried to initiate a conversation with one of the registered nurses over concerns she had that they were planning to release him too soon. She claims she was abruptly rebutted by the nurse who claimed AMHU "is not a motel".

"The behaviour is so bad that sometimes you're speechless," she said.

"They are more interested in being on social media or on eBay than they are in the patients anyway shape or form. They don't even care from a human perspective. They just treat the patients with contempt and laughter."

She also claimed one of her sons was left with a broken mobile phone after he threatened to show a photo he'd taken of a nurse on eBay during a shift to the hospital CEO. She says her son's phone was confiscated by staff and returned smashed.

"So many times I complained and I asked questions and they don't want you to ask questions. It just boggles my mind, it really does. It makes me sick to the stomach," she said.

"Even in a jail if you needed immediate first aid, you'd get that I'm sure."

Chief Executive of Northern NSW Health District Wayne Jones told that data showed four inpatient deaths had occurred in the Lismore Mental Health Unit between 2005 and 2013.

"Unfortunately, Mental Health units can experience incidences of patient death, either through medical emergencies or self-harm," Mr Jones said.

"Any unexpected patient death is investigated through internal review and referred to the NSW Coroner.

"The use of seclusion for patients in Mental Health facilities in NSW is always a last resort and only used where clinically necessary.

"The seclusion rate for patients at Lismore in 2016 was on average 8.1 episodes per 1,000 bed days."

Mr Jones said Mental Health Services at Lismore Base Hospital had more than halved the patient seclusion rate in the last five years.

"The treatment Ms Merten received was unacceptable. The Northern NSW Local Health District took immediate steps following this tragic incident," Mr Jones said.

"The LHD also reinforced that staff at the Lismore Adult Mental Health Unit must adhere to NSW Health protocols on the use of seclusion and treatment of patients.

"The Northern NSW LHD welcomes the mental health review announced today and we will be working with the independent expert panel during its investigation."


New maps show the risk of sea level rises to Australian cities

Another Greenie prophecy that will fail like all others before it

SAY sayonara to Sydney airport, farewell to Fremantle and bye to Byron Bay.

A series of maps has graphically illustrated how Australia could be affected by climate change and rising sea levels. And it looks like many of our major towns and cities could be getting a lot soggier.

Hobart Airport would be underwater, Melbourne’s Southbank submerged and the WACA in Perth would be inundated.

Famous sea side resorts like Byron Bay, Port Douglas, Noosa and the Gold Coast are in danger of seeing the sea get a whole lot closer for comfort.

A climate expert has said rising sea levels globally could displace "tens of millions of people".

The new maps come from Costal Risk Australia run by Western Australia business management consultants NGIS. The data is fished from the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA to show which areas will be at risk from a "business as usual" scenario of a 2 metre sea-level rise by 2100.

Just by putting in your suburb name into the Coastal Risk Australia, you can see if you area is at risk of flooding.

Website co-creator Nathan Eaton said that with more than 80 per cent of Australians living near the coast, it was critical for people to appreciate what rising sea levels in the decades to come could mean for their communities.

However, in some areas its likely even a 2 metre sea rise will be surpassed. Climate scientists have pointed to parts of northern and Western Australia where rises could be higher.

The Torres Strait Islands have experienced regular king tides, an area which rarely got any of the monster tides in the past.

Professor John Church from the University of NSW’S Climate Change Research Centre said flooding to the measure forecast would cause catastrophic problems for many Australians.

"With business as usual emissions, the questions are when, rather than if, we will cross a 2 metre sea level rise," he told Fairfax. "This scenario would result in major catastrophes and displace many tens of millions of people around the world."

One of the worst affected areas would be Cairns with vast tracts of the city’s CBD and suburbs at risk from rising sea levels.

But Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said he wasn’t going to lose any sleep over the maps. He said claims Cairns could be under the ocean by the end of the century were "outlandish".

"I’m someone who takes environmental issues very seriously," he told the Cairns Post. "But if we’re going to run around every day because some group comes up with some wild or outlandish or extreme prognosis — and we don’t have any verification on it — then we’ll just spend the next so many years going crazy."

He said the decisions made by the council were based on the "best scientific evidence we’ve got" and that the city worked with the Local Government Association of Queensland’s sea-level adaptation unit.

Earlier this month, climate scientists at the University of Melbourne warned an agreement reached in Paris to hold global average temperatures rise to under 2C above pre industrial levels would inevitably fail.

Last week, US researchers said sea levels driven by global warming were on track to dramatically boost the frequency of coastal flooding worldwide by mid-century, especially in tropical regions.

A 10 -20cm jump in the global ocean watermark by 2050 — a conservative forecast — would double flood risk in high-latitude regions, they reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

Major centres such as Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with the European Atlantic coast, would be highly exposed, they found.

But it would only take half as big a jump in ocean levels to double the number of serious flooding incidents in the tropics, including along highly populated river deltas in Asia and Africa.

Even at the low end of this sea rise spectrum, Mumbai, Kochi and Abidjan and many other cities would be significantly affected.

"We are 95 per cent confident that an added 5 — 10 centimetres will more than double the frequency of flooding in the tropics," lead author Sean Vitousek, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told AFP.


Woof! Peer review in action

MOVE aside quokkas and black swans, Perth is now home to the world’s smartest dog, at least on paper.

Local "academic" Dr Olivia Doll — also known as Staffordshire terrier Ollie — sits on the editorial boards of seven international medical journals and has just been asked to review a research paper on the management of tumours.

Her impressive curriculum vitae lists her current role as senior lecturer at the Subiaco College of Veterinary Science and past associate of the Shenton Park Institute for Canine Refuge Studies — which is code for her earlier life in the dog refuge.

Ollie’s owner, veteran public health expert Mike Daube, decided to test how carefully some journals scrutinised their editorial reviewers, by inventing Dr Doll and making up her credentials.

The five-year-old pooch has managed to dupe a range of publications specialising in drug abuse, psychiatry and respiratory medicine into appointing her to their editorial boards.

Dr Doll has even been fast-tracked to the position of associate editor of the Global Journal of Addiction and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Several journals have published on their websites a supplied photo of Dr Doll, which is actually of a bespectacled Kylie Minogue.

Professor Daube said none of them smelt a rat, despite Dr Doll’s listed research interests in "the benefits of abdominal massage for medium-sized canines" and "the role of domestic canines in promoting optimal mental health in ageing males".

Today Ollie is being featured in a more reputable publication, the Medical Journal of Australia’s Insight magazine, which is looking at the surge in journals which charge desperate would-be researchers up to $3000 to get their studies published.

"While this started as something lighthearted, I think it is important to expose shams of this kind which prey on the gullible, especially young or naive academics and those from developing countries," Professor Daube said.

He said the authors would be gutted to know their papers were being reviewed by a dog, who often needed to be offered a treat before she dragged herself in front of the laptop. "It gives all researchers paws for thought," Professor Daube said.

Dr Doll refused to comment unless she was taken for walkies.


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, 2017

Advance Australia Fair reworked to be more inclusive to Aboriginal people

"Young" and "Free" are bad words?  And if everybody has to be recognized, where is the Vietnamese version, the Maori version, The Fijian version, the Sikh version etc?  And don't forget the Ulster Scots.  I am  descended from one of those.  And what about the convicts?

A version of Australia's anthem that recognizes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can be sung as a patriotic song at certain events, the government agreed this week.

The Australian government granted permission on Tuesday for the altered version of 'Advance Australia Fair' to be used, but not as an official anthem, according to 7News.

The more inclusive version introduces a third verse with references to Aboriginal culture, Uluru and 'respecting the country.'

It also alters the line 'For we are young and free' from the first verse to read 'In peace and harmony.'

Recognition in Anthem Project have pushed for the new patriotic song, written by Victorian Supreme Court Judge Peter Vickery, according to 7News.

The national anthem fails to recognize all Australians and many Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders find some of the lyrics upsetting, Judge Vickery said.

'Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people find the words 'For we are young and free' hurtful and offensive, and find it difficult, if not impossible, to stand or sing the Anthem with these words,' the Recognition in Anthem Project website read.

'A simple solution is presented for consideration. The strength of our proposal is that it retains all of the proclaimed words and music (with one change to Verse 1), while adding a new Verse 3 which acknowledges our First Peoples and their occupation of Australia for more than 50,000 years. Otherwise the words and music of the National Anthem stay the same.'

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told 7News the new version will be played at certain events but it has not been revealed which ones.


African Apex gangs in terrifying four-day Melbourne home invasion spree

Melbourne residents have been left terrified with a massive crime wave spreading across the city's west as police reveal there have been four home invasions in just one week.

A Hillside mother-of-three remains sedated in hospital after she was tied up with a phone cord and bashed by two intruders who stole her car on Wednesday at 11am.

On Thursday at 7pm, eight men armed with metal poles broke into a home in Melton South while the family were watching television.

One day later, a Rockbank couple tricked a gang of seven suspected Apex members by giving them the wrong keys to one of their cars and a Brookfield family were left terrified when five burglars crept to steal mobile phones as they slept.

On Tuesday, Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana said home invasions were a 'difficult type of offending' to police and described the perpetrators as 'hardcore individuals'.

'What we find is we have some hardcore individuals that seem to attract other young people and they could come from all parts of Melbourne or Victoria,' he told the Today Show.

Assistant Commissioner Fontana advised residents to give up their car or property to violent home invaders to avoid being injured.

'Let them take it. These are really cowardly young people that are breaking in and best to avoid any confrontation with them,' he said.

Marisa Bonacci, 55, was home alone when she was tied up and attacked in a horrific daylight home intrusion on Wednesday.

She is sedated in hospital and suffered a suspected broken nose and significant bruising to her head and body.

The offenders stole her Volkswagen, which was found burnt out in Melton later that day.

On Thursday, Riccardi Accaputo, 31, and his aunt were horrified after eight men broke into their Melton South home while they were watching television at 7pm.

The men ransacked the home with metal poles and stole computers, jewellery and Mr Accaputo's white Ford.

'I was just watching TV, trying to relax, and before I knew it they've burst through the back corridor,' he told 7 News.

Mr Accaputo's aunt, 68, protected her nephew, who is on crutches and has a neck brace after being injured in an unrelated car crash.

Just four days later, a couple managed to trick a gang of African youths after they broke into their Rockbank home at 3am on Monday.

The pair gave the intruders a set of car keys to the wrong car and the group fled the scene on foot.

The couple's daughter Jade Ribeiro said her stepdad suffered a cut to his cheek and eyebrow in the violent home intrusion and her 12-year-old brother has 'not stopped crying'.

'We're all shaken. How else can you be after you've had eight Sudanese men break into you, rough you up, beat up my step dad?' she told 7 News.

On the same day, Farrukh Naeem, his wife Sanna and their two young sons were left terrified after five masked intruders broke into their Brookfield home at 1am on Monday.

They stole the family's brand new Audi A5 after threatening the family with wooden stakes.

Police found the Audi several kilometres away, but have no yet located the thieves.


Australia's peak Muslim body accused of stripping $45 MILLION in taxpayer funding from top Islamic school - as federal government cuts its funding

Australia's peak Muslim body is accused of stripping $45 million in taxpayer funding from Sydney's largest Islamic school.

Malek Fahd Islamic School is in a bitter legal battle with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils - accusing the body of charging inflated rent, payments for services that were never provided and taking out interest-free loans and over two decades.

It comes as the school continues to fight for $19 million in annual federal funding, which was cut by the government last year after the school's extensive ties to the AFIC were revealed.

According to court documents obtained by The Australian, the school alleges AFIC took $45.14m from its accounts in 'gratuitous' withdrawals since 2000.

Lawyers for the school in Greenacre, in Sydney's southwest, last week accused the AFIC of using it as a 'milking cow that never runs dry' to finance other projects.

The school's rent skyrocketed from up to $67,500 in its first decade to $900,000 in just one year - a staggering increase of more than 13 times.

Court documents allege the huge rent increase coincided with demands for a loan valued at over $1 million to secure a $7.1 million property at Condell Park. 'The loan was not documented, the loan was unsecured ... AFIC breached the fiduciary obligations it owed to MFIS,' the school claims.

According to court documents, the Condell Park property was sold three years later in 2003 with a profit of over $3 million, but no action was allegedly taken to reduce the rent, repay the loans or account for the huge financial gain made by the AFIC.

But Keysar Trad, a former president of AFIC, told The Australian the school's claims were 'grossly inflated'.

AFIC has staunchly defended its transactions over the years, saying it did not breach any of its alleged duties to Malek Fahd.

'The relevant transactions were appropriate in their terms, and well suited to the particular and novel interests and practical realities facing the parties at the time,' AFIC's statement of claim says.


Outrage over plans for an Islamic hub featuring a mosque, childcare centre, shops and apartments exclusive for Muslims

A masterplan for an exclusive Muslim enclave in Brisbane featuring a mosque and apartments has sparked community outrage.

The Australian International Islamic College has lodged plans to add a mosque, 120 residential apartments, childcare and retail space within its existing site at Durack, in the city's southern outskirts.

Residents opposed to the plan for a Muslim community have lodged a petition with Brisbane City Council, arguing it's incompatible with the area's multicultural values.

'The apparent exclusivity of the proposed development to a religious group will offer hardly any benefit to the community it is situated in as a whole and is inconsistent with the multicultural community that already exists in the suburb,' the petition, cited by the South-West News, stated.

Labor councillor Steve Griffiths said he was opposed to the development proposal for 724 Blunder Road, however he stressed this was on planning and not religious grounds.

'The impact on other local residents’ amenity appears well beyond that expected of its use as community facilities - educational purposes,' he said in a submission obtained by Quest Newspapers.

The plans, seen by Daily Mail Australia, include a proposal for a two-storey mosque covering 1,970 square metres.

It would include a three-storey aged care and residential building, 3,000 square metres of retail space and 120 residential apartments, on top of new classrooms and a childcare centre for 2,000 students.

The existing site is already home to the college, which caters for students from kindergarten to year 12.

It is near Inala, which is home to a large Vietnamese community, and the Wacol prison, which both fall with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's Inala electorate.


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, 2017

Wikipedia calls for Fair Use provision for content as Australian copyright debate drags on

GOOGLE, Wikipedia and VCRs could never have been invented in Australia, but a simple change in copyright law could change that

Critics of Australia’s copyright laws often point to the high profile case of Australian band Men at Work being sued for their hit song Down Under. Picture: Michael Ochs

ONE of the world’s most popular websites has weighed in on the debate over Australia’s strict, and what many see as outdated, copyright laws.

Wikipedia has launched a campaign targeting Australians to push for the government to introduce a "fair use" provision like in the US which permits the reuse of content, as long as it’s deemed to be fair and doesn’t hurt the market of the original content. Proponents say it will help Australia unlock creativity and innovation.

Wikipedia which displays logos and information on an array of topics owes its existence to such a provision because if it was hosted in Australia, it wouldn’t technically be legal.

In fact a number of the online services we enjoy including Google could not have started in Australia because the cataloguing of the internet is not expressly permitted and it’s very possible rights holders could have sued it out of existence.

Even the advent of VCRs which let people record shows on TV could have been nixed by rights holders had they originated in Australia.

But in the US a "fair use" provision enshrined in the country’s copyright law allows companies to use copyrighted material to do things deemed to be in the public interest.

Wikipedia — the 7th most visited website in Australia — launched a campaign today to push for Australia to follow suit and adopt more flexible laws around the copying and reuse of content.

If you visit Wikipedia in the next few weeks, you will see a banner displayed at the top of the page with the message: "Wikipedia editors and readers benefit from FAIR USE. But Australia does not. Yet. #FairCopyrightOz"

It’s been an area of debate for nearly two decades.

Australia currently has strict laws around the reuse of copyrighted material. Instead of a "fair use" allowance, Australia has a "fair dealing" provision which only allows limited defences for the reuse of copyrighted material including research and study, criticism and review, parody and satire, and news reporting.

A number of past reviews have called for the easing of certain provisions, the latest of which is a review by the government’s Productivity Commission which released a draft report in April last year.

As the Wikipedia campaign points out, "six government reports since 1998 have recommended Australia adopt Fair Use."

Currently the government is considering its response to the latest recommendations.

The Copyright Agency, which collects payments on behalf of authors, is fighting hard against the introduction of Fair Use saying it will harm the ability of artists to make a living and receive proper compensation for the use of their work.

"This is not just unfair, it is a threat to jobs of young Australians and means the next generation of Australian filmmakers, songwriters, artists and authors will not be able to make a living," the agency’s chief executive Adam Suckling said.

But critics often point to the case of popular Australian band Men at Work being sued for their iconic hit Down Under in 2010. The band were sued by plaintiffs who claimed the flute riff played by Greg Ham in the song was taken from iconic children’s song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, written by Melbourne teacher Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides jamboree in 1934.

Men at Work band members were ordered to pay five per cent of their royalties from the song to the plaintiffs.

Professor Nicolas Suzor from the law department of Queensland University of Technology believes a fair use doctrine in Australian copyright law would help facilitate creativity and drive innovative projects.

"Overall there’s something really strange going on here, because in other countries, particularly in the US we see that fair use is actually a vital part of the creative process" he told back in December.

"Creatives are scared," he said. "In the transition to the digital economy people have had to change business models and people are really worried about copyright infringement and something really strange has happened; we’ve started to confuse fair use with pirates," he said.

Jessica Coates of the Australian Digital Alliance — which represents librarians and is also partnering with Wikipedia on the latest campaign — told Fairfax on Monday that introducing a fair use provision would future-proof the law so it didn’t need to be updated with every new wave of digital technology.

"It took until 2006 to legalise taping a TV show on a video cassette recorder in Australia, by which time most VCRs were already mothballed," she said. "We need copyright law that focuses not on specific technologies but on what is fair."


Childless couples 'on track to be Australia's most common family type'

A society dominated by childless couples could become Australia's reality, with data analysis suggesting they will become the most common family type by 2023.

One sociologist says the trend is already happening, and future government policy will determine whether the traditional family model continues to exist.

For many millennials, like 23-year-old Karim Eldib, changing financial and social realities are important factors in the choice to have kids.

"[A lot of people] get the point where they say 'yep, going to have a child', and they don't think about all the things that come with having children," Mr Eldib said.

"I'm in a relationship and there has been talk of that but it's not something that we're seriously considering — it's something we'd like to consider after we've done all the things we want to do."

Is being a mum worth it?

"Nobody warned me" are words that resonate with many new mums. And, as some women share with the ABC, that's especially true when you're depressed, wetting yourself at every sneeze and feeling inadequate against idealistic images of motherhood on Instagram

His view is shared by other couples delaying their decision to extend their families, a trend which paired with Australia's ageing population means the nuclear family is in decline.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates between 2023 and 2029, there will be more people in a relationship living without children than families with kids.

Jackie Mahony and Trina Gilchrist, who are raising two-year-old Angus together, said the decision to have a child took a lot of thought.

    "For us I think it's very much about should we just have the one child? One is easy for us," Ms Mahoney said.

"We've been in a really long-term relationship — 13 years coming on and Angus was certainly a part of that relationship and conversation," said Ms Gilchrist.
Future policy will impact family choices

University of Melbourne sociologist Leah Ruppanner said while the trend of not having children varies between countries, it is already happening in Australia.

"[The trend is most evident in] a lot of countries like South Korea and Japan, where their populations are shrinking because they are not having enough babies," Dr Ruppanner said.

"One of the things is governments need populations to grow because it means you have people paying taxes, people looking after the older generation, and people supporting the economy."

Bronwyn Harman of Edith Cowan University, who studies social responses to childless couples, said the public has become more accepting of non-traditional families.

"In the past, we had the traditional family of mum, dad and the kids — mum stayed at home, dad was the bread-winner. We know that's not true now," Dr Harman said.

She expects the 2016 Census data, which has not been fully released yet, will show an increase in households without children.


Moroccan Soup Bar owner Hana Assifiri only hires Muslim women

This would appear to be contrary to Australian anti-discrimination law

THE owner of a Melbourne soup bar has described her policy of only hiring Muslim women as "positive discrimination".

Moroccan Soup Bar owner Hana Assifiri, a self-described "Muslim feminist" who successfully campaigned to prevent human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali from visiting Australia in April, was featured on the ABC’s religious affairs program Compass on Saturday.

The program described Moroccan Soup Bar as a "restaurant with a difference", and Ms Assifiri as "on a mission to combat rising Islamophobia".

In the documentary, she tells customers about "fear mongering". "If I was to believe what I saw about Muslims on telly, I would be fearing Muslims as well," she said.

Ms Assifiri runs regular "Speed Date a Muslim" sessions at her Fitzroy restaurant, where customers are encouraged to come and ask Muslim women any questions they like about Islam — "nothing is off the table".

She explained that her hiring policy was a way of empowering Muslim women. "It’s positive discrimination," she said. "You need to establish an environment that you know speaks to and engages and is relevant to Muslim women.

"There’s not a day that a woman walks through the door where she needs a job and I don’t give her a job, even though I don’t need workers. I believe in empowerment rather than charity, not only through monetary employment but being in an environment which is validating."

Staff at the restaurant are allowed to drop everything to pray, even during busy service. "They say, ‘I’m going to pray’, they go pray, halfway through a shift, halfway through a meal, halfway through the chaos," Ms Assifiri said.

"Some women will pray five times a day, some will accumulate them all until they go home, some need to pray at the time prayer’s called, some don’t pray. It’s not imposed, it’s at their discretion. It is what it is."

Ms Assifiri highlighted examples of alleged Islamophobia. "Every night I will come in and go, ‘Now girls, what happened today?’, and somebody will tell me they were filling up petrol and they were accosted by a bunch of people and their hijab was pulled off," she said.

"Customers would say to me things like, ‘Why [has] that woman got that thing on her head?’, and I go, ‘It’s a symbol of her faith’, and the guy then said, ‘The only thing it’s symbolic of is beheadings and honour killings’, and I went, ‘Woah, good thing you’re here to eat, mate.’"

Waitress Layalle El Najib told the program the Moroccan Soup Bar was "full-on". "Even though you might not need a resume to get in, you still need to be strong minded, strong willed to work here," she said.

"As long as you’re respectful to one another, I don’t care if you’ve got long hair, black hair, blonde, black, white, work is work."

According to the Human Rights Commission, discrimination in employment on the basis of religion "occurs when someone does not experience equality of opportunity in employment because of their religion".

"Example: An employer refuses to offer an employee a role serving customers because she wears a hijab," the HRC website reads.

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said federal anti-discrimination legislation "does not prohibit discrimination based on religion unless it is connected to a person’s ethnicity".

"Religious freedom is protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," he said. "This means everyone has the right to freedom of religion and everyone has the right to worship according to their religious belief, subject only to laws that are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

"Australia also has obligations under the International Labour Organisation Convention to ensure employers do not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, political opinion or social origin."


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, 2017

Push to change names linked to Australia's past

There were different standards in the past but the achievements of our ancestors were great and are rightly honoured.  And who is to say that our current behaviour standards are in any sense "right"?  In future it may be that the history destroyers are the ones seen as ignorant

Wealthy grazier John Batman is remembered as one of the "founding fathers" of Melbourne. He famously declared the site of the modern day city to be "the place for a village," suggesting it be called "Batmania".

He also signed a so-called "treaty" with Aboriginal elders in 1835, believed to be the only such agreement of its kind in Australia. In exchange for items like knives, flour and blankets, Batman's treaty gave him access to around 60,000 acres of land.

But the treaty was soon annulled, with colonial powers saying Batman did not have the authority to make it.

"Rename Batman" organiser Emily De Rango said Batman essentially duped Aboriginal people into an unfair trade they didn't understand.

She said there were also historical records of Batman as a bounty hunter of Aboriginal people in Tasmania. "Batman was one of the people to found Melbourne as a colonial city, which makes him important in a way," Ms De Rango told SBS World News. "But he's also somebody who was responsible for the murder of, and dispossession of Indigenous peoples."

Batman's name is a constant presence in Melbourne, with an electorate, streets, parks and other landmarks named after him.

But that might be about to change. One local council, Darebin, is changing the name of Batman Park in the northern suburb of Northcote and they want the Batman electorate to be renamed as well. "This is just one small step in the broader reconciliation journey that all levels of government need to get on board with," Darebin Mayor Kim Le Cerf said.

And Batman isn't the only colonialist to come under fire.  Victorian MP Russell Broadbent has been leading a push to change the name of his McMillan electorate in Gippsland. The electorate honours the memory of Scottish settler Angus McMillan.

But McMillan had also been labelled "the Butcher of Gippsland" and blamed for the massacre of dozens of Aboriginal people in the 1830s.

Mr Broadbent wrote to the Australian Electoral Commission asking for the name to be changed when a redistribution takes place early next year.

Former New South Wales Governor Lachlan Macquarie's legacy is also being questioned. Author and Journalist Paul Daley said Governor Macquarie's name is everywhere in Sydney, but while historians have been kind to Macquarie, the man left a dark legacy.

He said Governor Macquarie had been accused of giving the order for his soldiers to kill 14 men, women and children at Appin, on the outskirts of Sydney. "He was actually responsible for ordering the massacre in 1816 in Appin," Mr Daley told SBS News.  "After which he also ordered the theft of children to be taken to his native children's home in Parramatta."

Ms De Rango said while changing a name was a symbolic gesture, it could have real outcomes. "As a non-Indigenous Australian I think that it is really important that we genuinely recognise the full scope of our history," she said.  "Symbols matter. What we name something says a lot about what we value."

But some residents of the Batman electorate disagree. An online poll for a local paper last year found just 20 per cent of readers supported the name change, and some residents who spoke to SBS News said renaming places was a low priority. "I don't think it matters to everyday Australians," Batman resident Terry Martin told SBS News. "It's just a name, you know."

Darebin Council has worked with Wurundjeri people to find an appropriate replacement name for Batman Park.

The preferred name, Gumbri, comes from the last Aboriginal girl to be born at the Corranderk mission in Healesville, an hour out of Melbourne. She later lived in the Batman electorate.

Gumbri's grandson, Wurundjeri elder Colin Hunter Junior, said his grandmother would have been "chuffed". "I think that she would be quite proud of the honour," Mr Hunter told SBS News. "She would have been in this park many a time."

Mr Hunter said renaming the park, and the electorate, was an important step for healing. "Until you can accept the truth and acknowledge the past, how can you move forward in reconciliation?" he said. "You can't."


Daniel Andrews gender agenda and mythmaking

By now, I’m sure you would’ve heard the news that the Victorian Andrews government is backing a brand new "feminist collective" strategy under the assumed guise of tackling domestic violence through a $21 million tax-payer funded school program called Respectful Relationships. Whether you like it or not, your kids will be made to feel bad about themselves for being white and male and lectured on how "white, male privilege" and "hegemonic masculinity" are the roots of domestic violence. It’s bad enough that us adults are already exposed to a constant drumbeat of feministic, anti-male hysteria on a daily basis, but our kids? This is beyond outrageous.

Fightback, the "feminist guide" has the approval of the state government and is part of this "domestic violence awareness program" that is already implemented in 120 schools across the state, and is designed to counter "everyday sexism" by brainwashing secondary school children about "negative attitudes towards gender equality that contribute to high rates of sexism and discrimination and ultimately … violence against women".

The disturbing material also asks teachers to lecture kids on the concept of "privilege" – an idea that some groups have advantages over others just because of their birth identity (chiefly due to their parents’ hard work and moral choices).

The controversial program has long been a subject of criticism for foolishly simplifying the issue of family violence, putting the blame mostly on men and their apparent "privilege".

"Being born white in Australia, you have advantages," the guide claims. "By being born male, you have advantages … that you may not approve of or think you are entitled to, but that you gain anyway because of your status as male."

And just so you know, I am not a white male. However, on more than one occasion on the Twitterverse, I have wrongly been called "entitled" and a "privileged white male." (Hey feminists did you just assume my race and skin colour? I thought that’s racist!)

But when you think about it, the concept of "white privilege" is an elaborate invention of the "progressive" liberal collective – especially third wave feminists – to silence freedom of speech by discrediting white males for simply being what they were created to be. Instead of teaching respect for men and women equally, regressive programs like Respectful Relationships would prefer that the concept of "toxic while masculinity" is drummed into young minds.

It might surprise you to know that the theory of white privilege (if you can call it a legitimate theory, that is) started out being solely about men and their perceived privilege. It had nothing to do with the struggles of non-whites due to their lack of privilege. Peggy McIntosh, a feminist who is touted as the inventor of the white-skin privilege concept in the late 1980s, came up with the term "unacknowledged male privilege," or the seemingly unearned advantages men have in society by virtue of being born male. She believed there was also a "white privilege" analogous to male privilege, and so the terminology of white privilege was born. McIntosh manufactured a crisis about males to prove they garnered favour over females but then expanded the concept to include white males and later evolved the concept to include all whites as the root of all apparently unearned privilege.

It is commonly (and wrongly) believed that women are the typical victims/ survivors of domestic violence and that most perpetrators are men. But the fact of the matter is both men and women are victims of violence and abuse. This is an issue that affects both genders, young and old. It is also a fact, according to the Royal Commission, that 25 per cent of domestic violence victims are men. Men also die earlier than women and young men have greater rates of youth suicide and self-harm. I guess somehow that’s white male privilege. No?

What about the apparent gender pay gap? Well, to put it plainly, it’s a complete hoax. Industries statistically dominated by men tend to attract better pay than those traditionally dominated by women. And then there is the choice women make, willingly, to trade career heights for job flexibility, shorter hours, maternity leave and more time to raise children, which a lot of mothers would agree is a priceless privilege. Raising healthy, secure children is tremendously productive to our society.

Christina Hoff-Sommers, "the factual feminist" has a good question: "If, for the same work, women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, why don’t businesses hire only women?"

That number is calculated in a way that doesn’t take into account several factors that contribute to wage. In fact, a feminist organisation’s own research found that the wage gap is 6.6 cents when factoring in these choices that men and women make. These are choices such as college major, specialities, hours worked, and location. The keyword here is choice (I thought you progressives love that word?).

And when it comes to education, women are the privileged sex. Girls outperform and outstay boys in school and, as a result, they go on to university in ever-greater numbers. According to 2013 statistics from the federal Education Department, the number of female students in higher education jumped by 33.5 per cent between 2002 and 2012, compared with a 22 per cent rise for males. In 2002, of the 151,550 Australian students who graduated from university, 56 per cent were women. By 2012, graduation numbers had increased to nearly 195,000, of whom 60 per cent were female, a ratio likely to be higher again this year.

Thus, the concept of "white male privilege" is nothing less than a complete myth. It is thanks to this regressive kind of thinking that in today’s brave new world, boys can no longer be boys and are instead forced to break traditional stereotypes by putting on makeup and playing with Barbie dolls. It is no wonder why problems such as effeminisation (the stripping away of all facets of manhood), homosexuality, acquired gender dysphoria and transgender-ism are rife among our youth.

The million dollar question is why are Victorian schools teaching our children this type of hogwash? The answer? The cultural Marxists backing these regressive programs such as "Respectful Relationships" have an agenda to create a genderless society and end any celebration of the unique qualities of each gender. Their ignorance of science, biology and, therefore, the truth will only create more depression in our youth, not less.


The boats will be back under Bill Shorten, no matter his denials

Peta Credlin

MOST of us have seen it first hand; the family barbecue or out for dinner, and the two political topics that divide the group are boats and budgets, or to put it more specifically, how the government manages Australia’s immigration program and how they manage our money.   

Other issues might come and go but as far as a political barometer is concerned, this double-headed test is still the best. If you’re prepared to risk a split in the friendship or even the family, give it a go. To be fair, Malcolm Turnbull’s recent Labor-lite budget might skew things a bit but as long as Peter Dutton’s in charge, the Coalition’s immigration policies won’t lurch to the left any time soon.

When it comes to immigration, you can’t trust Labor.

As he continues to lift in the polls, Bill Shorten’s going to start promising us he won’t restart the boats, but being soft on immigration is in Labor’s DNA. Go back to John Howard’s time and you’ll find that Labor opposed almost every sensible measure to curtail illegal arrivals.

Kevin from Queensland got in and thought he could get away with dismantling the Coalition’s tough border protection policies to win friends in inner-city latte land but the people-smugglers had other ideas. Almost immediately their trade started up again and as I watched them from opposition, Labor was utterly powerless to stop it. The Rudd-Gillard-Rudd record of chaos must not be forgotten: 800 boats, 50,000 illegal arrivals, 17 new detention centres, 8000 children in detention and 1200 deaths at sea (that we know about).

"That was then, this is now," Bill Shorten will say. Don’t be fooled.

Some of you might look at Chris Bowen and see a man trying hard to be a credible shadow treasurer but I see the man whose record as immigration minister should disqualify him from any future office. Under Julia Gillard, 398 boats and 24,447 people arrived on Mr Bowen’s watch; the worst record of any immigration minister in Australian history. Hapless, reckless and completely inept; is it any wonder people are worried what he would do to the economy if this was his previous ministerial effort?

In recent days we’ve seen the example of six Iranians who came by boat under Labor, granted asylum to stay because they claimed their lives would be in danger if forced to return yet return they did, for a holiday. When Peter Dutton cancelled their visas and tried to deport them for lying about their so-called refugee status, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal overturned his decision and allowed them to stay.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case with the AAT overturning 39 per cent of the minister’s decisions on visas and deportations over the past year. As a result of the chaos left by former ministers like Chris Bowen (and his successors, Brendan O’Connor and Tony Burke, both also on Shorten’s frontbench), the Coalition is spending tens of millions of (borrowed) dollars fighting ridiculous court cases like this despite being up to our eyeballs in debt.

But it isn’t just the debt, it is the principle too.

We’re a generous nation and one of only 27 in the world that’s actually resettles refugees (yes that’s right over 160 other countries refuse) however it’s clear we’re being taken for a ride. Those really needing our help, waiting patiently in a camp often for a decade or more, are displaced by economic migrants with cash and a good story who lie their way through the system, until they’re caught by people like Dutton, and even then the system gives them a second chance. Sadly, there’s no second chance for the child in the camp, the persecuted Christian or the gay man thrown off a building by Islamic State.

On this issue, like so many, the hypocrisy of the Left is breathtaking. Australia cannot take all the world’s refugees but we do our bit and we do it better than almost any country in the world. But this tripe that anyone who wants to come here can just turn up and we should have to take them beggars belief. This mindset is one of the reasons Europe is such a basket-case.

Because we grant refugees almost immediate access to Australia’s taxpayer-funded school system, Medicare and Centrelink, governments must regulate the quantum of our immigration intake so we can keep paying for the services that most of us (sadly) take for granted. In the end — like everything — its all got to be paid for or we won’t be able to afford it in the future.

Under Malcolm Turnbull, the Coalition’s economic policies may have slipped to the left, but while Peter Dutton remains the same won’t happen to its immigration policy.

To date, Labor’s immigration failures have cost the taxpayer just shy of $14 billion dollars ($13.7b to be exact) and there’s a legacy caseload of over 30,000 people that Mr Dutton’s still sorting through. While Labor says ‘elect us, it won’t happen again’, let’s take a look at the facts.

At last year’s election, over 40 Labor MPs and candidates were on the record at one time or another opposing the Coalition’s policies to stop the boats. Right now, Labor are blocking legislation designed to prevent an illegal maritime arrival sent to a regional processing centre from getting to Australia. Bill Shorten tells us he has the same border protection policies as the government, but his troops won’t vote for them in the parliament. Surely this just shows that while Mr Shorten leads Labor, it’s the far Left who are actually in charge?

The uncomfortable truth is that to have a fair immigration system we have to be tough. There’s no shortage of people around the world who want a better economic outcome and while we can all understand that; aspiration alone isn’t what defines a genuine refugee. A ‘well-founded fear of persecution’ is the test and those who lie, who holiday back in their old homeland, or rort the system, displace those in real need of a place.

Malcolm Turnbull never had his heart in this issue last time as Liberal leader (or indeed when in Abbott’s cabinet) but we should all be grateful Peter Dutton does. And while Bill Shorten might say the right thing now, we know his people have other ideas should they get elected. This issue is important. As someone who worked for the prime minister who stopped the boats last time, if the boats start up again, under any government, stopping them a third time will be nigh on impossible.


Peter Dutton declares 'game is up' for 'fake refugees' living in Australia

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has given 7,500 asylum seekers living in Australia until October to lodge an application for protection, or face deportation, declaring the "game is up" for "fake refugees".

Mr Dutton said the asylum seekers had all arrived by boat under the previous Labor government, most without identity documents, and had so far either failed or refused to present their case for asylum with the Immigration Department.

"They need to provide the information, they need to answer the questions and then they can be determined to be a refugee or not."

The asylum seekers have now been given until October 1 to lodge an application for processing or they will be cut off from Government payments, subject to removal from Australia, and banned from re-entering the country.

According to Mr Dutton, the group is costing taxpayers about $250 million each year in income support alone and the deadline would ensure the Government is "not providing financial support to people who have no right to be in Australia".

South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon said the new policy would have public support, and appeal to the Coalition's support base, but urged the Government to take a "calm, methodical and fair" approach.

"I only hope that the Government puts as much effort into dealing with job seekers as it does with asylum seekers," Senator Xenophon said on Insiders.

Of the 50,000 asylum seekers who arrived by boat between 2008 and 2013, 43,000 have now been processed — which means they have either been granted a visa or had their claims rejected — or are currently having their claims assessed.

However, there are 7,500 asylum seekers "outside the process" and that is the group now subject to the October 1 deadline.

Asylum seeker statistics

-50,000 Illegal Maritime Arrivals arrived in Australia between 2008 and 2013

-Labor processed 20,000 of these people

-It stopped processing IMAs in August 2012 leaving 30,500 people yet to be processed — this is known as the Legacy Caseload

-23,000 of the Legacy Caseload have applied for Temporary Protection Visas or Save Haven Visas

-Of those 6,500 have been granted a TPV or SHEV 3,000 have already been found not to be refugees and must leave Australia

-13,000 are having their claims assessed

-Around 7,500 remain outside the process and have not presented their case for protection


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

21 May, 2017

Obsolete health advice in NSW schools

This is a good lesson in the folly of relying on governments.  The "health" advice below is based on minimizing the intake of dietary fat and salt.  That was of course conventional wisdom for many years. 

Over the decades however, the research did not support that and current  medical advice is that fat is actually GOOD for you and that it is sugar that should be minimized.  There is however a lot of research indicating no harm from sugar. And the advice on salt is that it is only a deficiency of it that kills you. 

So governments should get out of the health advice business.  Their current advice is just an obeisance to fads.  It is actually contrary to the best current scientific advice.  It is nothing more than a parade of ignorance

SCHOOLS have been told to stop using butter in the latest NSW government crackdown on the food sold at ­canteens.

Banning or severely restricting fairy bread, Vegemite, schnitzels, pies and cream is also part of a dreary new regimen for kids.

"We can’t teach good ­nutrition in the classroom and then sell rubbish in the playground," Education Minister Rob Stokes said.

Under a blanket regimen starting next year, public schools are being told they must not buy hundreds and thousands, butter, cream, salt, Nutella, icing and chocolate chips.

The war on fat has also spread to Vegemite, which may now only be used in "small amounts, lightly spread".

Fattier foods such as schnitzels, bacon, hot chips, pies and other foods must make up no more than one-quarter of canteen menus — and they must be healthier versions.

New Education Department advice says these ingredients "should not be used in your school canteen".

The department has prepared a list of meals it would prefer kids have, including hummus, rice paper rolls, a "veg-o-rama burger" and a bean and corn salad. It wants canteen menus to contain at least 75 per cent healthy food, and water should be the kids’ "main drink".

"The nanny state is getting ridiculous — governments are interfering too much in our lives," Liberal MP Peter Phelps told The Saturday Telegraph.


African man jailed for abandoning girlfriend in desert

A BLIND, hearing-impaired woman overdue for medical treatment was abandoned in the desert south of Alice Springs without food or water in a "particularly callous" crime committed by her boyfriend, the Supreme Court has heard.

Kenneth Mututa, then 53, was jailed for two years and six months after pleading guilty to failing to provide the woman, 36, with the necessities of life, as well as two aggravated assaults committed before in the hours before the woman was abandoned.

Justice Trevor Riley said Mututa’s "heartless conduct" in November 2015 could easily have killed his girlfriend.

"Your conduct in leaving her there alone and completely vulnerable was particularly callous," he said.

Mututa’s attacks on the woman began when he punched the woman in the face, cutting her lip and loosening her tooth, and continued with an indecent assault in a remote stretch of bushland south of Alice Springs.

Mututa then abandoned his victim, who suffers from end-stage renal failure and who was due for a dialysis appointment. A passing train woke the woman around late on the day she had been abandoned.

The woman, "lost, helpless and completely vulnerable" wandered towards the tracks, thinking they would lead her into town, but inadvertently turned south and began walking further into the outback.

A second passing train stopped to help the woman after nearly hitting her.

"It was mere good fortune that she was not killed or badly injured at that time," Justice Riley said. "Had the train not arrived, and the operators been so observant, she could easily have perished while walking south rather than north."

In a victim impact statement, the woman said she was "very scared when she was left alone" and no longer trusts people other than her family members.

Justice Riley said Mututa "must have known how helpless she would be in those circumstances".

Mututa, who has served 14 months behind bars since police tracked him down in South Australia’s far north, will be eligible for parole in two months.


Catholics declare war on the Libs over school funding

The Catholic education system will campaign against the Turnbull government’s school funding arrangements.

The Catholic education system has declared war on the Turnbull government with plans for a ­nationwide mining tax-style campaign against the Gonski 2 education reforms, which it claims will rip funds from the most in-need primary schools and force closures.

The Weekend Australian has confirmed that members of the National Catholic Education Commission voted on Wednesday night to approve a campaign that would involve a grassroots, social and main-media blitz across the country.

It is believed Catholic officials have also approached several Liberal Party research companies and pollsters, including Crosby Textor, as part of a bid process for the focus group and campaign research that would guide the campaign against the government.

It is understood the campaign would also focus on marginal Liberal seats, with parent forums to be held across nearly every diocese in the country.

An NCEC source confirmed that the campaign would be the largest ever undertaken by the sector, claiming that the integrity of the entire Catholic school system was under threat.

"The National Catholic Education Commission was resolute," the source said. "It will be a long and sustained campaign and based on ‘Who do you trust more: the school, the principal or the government?’ This will be an informed campaign to let parents know the impact of the government’s policy on their schools."

With independent schools, including the most elite in the country, now admitting that they came out "better off" under the government’s deal, the Catholic schools are claiming they want the playing field to be levelled.

The independent school lobby has hit back with a sectarian attack on the Catholic school sector, accusing it of going "beyond ­robust advocacy".

Colleagues of Simon Birmingham said the Education Minister was working on a solution but it was not clear what that would be.

The government is unlikely to countenance taking money back from the independent sector.

The alternative would be to find up to $700 million in the second half of the 10-year Gonski 2 deal, well beyond the current budget forward estimate parameters, to redress the issues claimed by the Catholic sector.

The government has privately argued that the issue was being conflated by Victoria and ACT Catholic educators. However, The Weekend Australian has confirmed that every diocese and state represented on the Catholic education commission voted in favour of the campaign.

The Catholic sector yesterday repeated its warning that the school funding shake-up would force the financial burden on to working parents, and those sending their children to low to ­medium fee Catholic parish schools could be looking at fee hikes of about $5000 next year.

Parents currently pay $2397 a child at the Father John Therry Catholic Primary School in the Sydney inner-west suburb of Balmain but exclusive modelling today reveals parents would need to find an extra $6082 a student next year. The shortfall is because the federal government’s reforms estimate the expected private income per child at the school in 2018 should be $8762.

The escalation in hostilities between the sector and the government coincides with the end of a budget-period truce agreed to by angry conservative Liberal MPs who claim they intend to resume internal pressure on Senator Birmingham to reach a compromise with the Catholic schools.

Several MPs said several marginal seats could be severely impacted, including Dunkley, Corangamite, Chisholm and ­Latrobe in Victoria and the Sydney seats of Banks and Reid. A number of Queensland seats were also vulnerable as was the ACT, where the Liberals hold a Senate seat.

A significant bloc of MPs took a view prior to the budget that they needed to allow the government to focus on core business but made it clear to Senator Birmingham that he had to consult and find an ­arrangement with the Catholic sector. "He has failed to do that," said one senior Liberal MP.

Senator Birmingham’s office said the minister did not hold any meeting with the Catholic sector yesterday.

Claims by Senator Birmingham that the Catholic sector had in the past received "a special deal" because it operated as a school system appear to have been undermined. Lutheran schools also operate as a system, as can any private school sector that applies as is provisioned for under legislation.

The Catholic Education Commission’s new research, obtained by The Weekend Australian, examined 72 Catholic systemic schools nationwide, finding 31 would need to raise fees by between $3000 and $4000 a child next year and anothe­r 21 schools would be hit with hikes of between $4000 and $5000.

Parents at these parish schools, which are part of state-based Catholic education systems, currently pay an average of about $2000 a student in fees.

At Galilee Regional Catholic Primary School in South Melbourne, parents contribute about $1651 a child but next year the CECV data argues that the government is factoring in private income of about $6698 so fees could be expected to rise by more than double, or $4366 a student.

Fees at St Bernadette’s Primary School in western Sydney’s Castle Hill are also expected to double from $1944 to $4506 next year.

Bill Shorten has continued to push the cause of Catholic schools, visiting St Brigid’s in the marginal Tasmanian electorate of Braddon yesterday. It was the Opposition Leader’s seventh visit to a Catholic school in the past fortnight since the government’s Gonski changes were announced.

He accused Malcolm Turnbull and his team of launching "an ­unconscionable attack into the Catholic systemic system".

"When will Mr Turnbull rea­l­ise, in his out-of-touch universe … that people who choose to send their kids to a local parish school should not be presumed to be wealthy," he said.

Mr Shorten said private schools at the very top end didn’t need much more money but disagreed with the proposition that parents who chose to send their kids to a Catholic parish school "shouldn’t get some investment back for the taxes they pay — I don’t buy that".


A government avoiding all the hard issues

Cory Bernardi

We have a diverse crossbench, a government transitioning from Conservative to Social Democratic, an opposition devoid of any integrity, colourful characters and a multitude of controversial matters facing the country. It’s the latter that is actually getting quite repetitive.

The significant issues facing the country are the same as they were a year ago which are the same ones from three years ago, which are the same ones from five years ago…and so on. The issues we need to confront are pretty straightforward. Too few taxpayers are paying too much in tax and too many are paying nothing.

Governments of all political colours are spending beyond their means and accruing debts they will demand that others repay. Our migration system isn’t working to our advantage and bureaucrats are empowering abuse of the system.

There are only a couple of public voices left who are brave enough to champion the lower tax, limited government agenda. Everyone else seems to have abandoned all hope of getting our political system and public finances back on an even keel. For the true believers it’s never been a more challenging time to be a conservative beacon in an ocean of socialism.

I said on Sky News last night that the great socialist experiment of decades past was going to come to an unhappy end. Debts (social and financial) will have to be repaid in one way, shape or form. Unbridled welfare is unsustainable from a financial and human interest perspective. The deconstruction of societal norms is already having profound negative consequences - for our children and our families - which are evident for anyone who chooses to see them.

Perhaps one of the most alarming things I have read recently, but one that captures the new zeitgeist so clearly, was presented by ‘our’ ABC. It was posited that children who have a bedtime story read to them by a parent have an ‘unfair’ advantage over those children who don’t. Now I happen to agree with the benefits of reading to children, but rather than use this as a means to suggest stronger families are vital to children’s development, the ABC chose a different path. Instead, they suggested that bedtime stories should be restricted, even proffering the views of an ‘expert’ who posited the very concept of family should cease.

"If the family is this source of unfairness in society, then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field" the ABC’s chosen philosopher stated.

It is alarming that such an attitude barely raises an eyebrow on our public broadcaster or amongst many of our political leaders.
Yet it is emblematic of everything else we are facing. The inconvenient truths are that societal norms have evolved through multi-generational experience about what is best for society and the greatest number are being turned on their head by misty-eyed idealogues intent on re-purposing the established order in their experimental image. They are empowered by emasculated politics where too few stand for very much at all.

That has to change. We simply cannot continue down the path of least resistance because it only leads to a prison of misery and pain. Sure the journey to the cells might be relatively easy but, after that, there are few means of escape.

It’s not too late to turn around and pursue a better way but it will take a strength of character that is lacking in most of our political options available today.

Via email

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

19 May, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is having a laugh at the frauds in the Taxation office

Western Australia’s catastrophic forest collapse

A thoroughly lazy article below. It does seem to be true that West Australian forests are retreating but the galoots below have no idea why and don't try to find out.  They just chant the tired old mantra of global warming.  But global warming COULD NOT be the cause.  As any number of studies show (e.g. here) increased CO2 in the atmosphere has a GREENING effect, not a browning effect.  The writers below, George Matusick, Giles Hardy and Katinka Ruthrof, are all academics specializing in forest studies so they are quite simply a disgrace to their professions.  It's just a bit of opportunistic Warmist propaganda below. 

Even aside from its building block effects, elevated CO2 reduces transpiration time for plants and makes them less needful of water; Warming oceans give off more water vapor which comes down as rain.  So both CO2 rises and its allegedly associated temperature rises are good for plants.  They certainly don't dry anything out.  So what they say below flies in the face of all the facts.  They are just grant-hungry crooks

Recent, unprecedented, climate-driven forest collapses in Western Australia show us that ecosystem change can be sudden, dramatic and catastrophic. These collapses are a clear signal that we must develop new strategies to mitigate or prevent the future effects of climate change in Australian woodlands and forests. But society’s view of forests is ever-changing: are we willing to understand ecosystems and adapt to changing conditions?

The south west of Western Australia has experienced a long-term climate shift since the early 1970s, resulting in dryer and hotter than average conditions. This shifted baseline, or average, has also led to more frequent extreme events. In 2010, the region experienced the driest and second hottest year on record.

These climate changes have resulted in significant decreases in stream-flow and groundwater levels. For example, formerly permanent streams now stop flowing for considerable periods. Groundwater levels have fallen up to 11 meters in some forested areas, with larger decreases in populated areas. Clearly, soil water reserves have dried out substantially and will likely continue to do so; we are now starting to see the implications of this. Although most of the West Australian society, particularly those in urban environments, may be well-buffered from these changes, ecosystems are not.

The climatic changes occurring in the south west of Western Australia are contributing to deteriorating woodland and forest health. In the past 20 years, insect infestations and fungal diseases have plagued many iconic tree species, including tuart, wandoo, flooded gum, marri, and WA peppermint, increasing their mortality rates. Many of these disorders are likely triggered or incited by changing climate conditions.

In extreme climate conditions, woodland and forest health suffers most. For instance, during the record dry and hot period in 2010 and 2011, large patches of trees throughout the region suddenly collapsed, with little recovery in some areas. Along the coastal plain surrounding Perth, some areas of Banksia woodland suffered losses as high as 70-80%, while over 500 ha of tuart woodland collapsed and over 15,000 ha of exotic pine plantations (~70% north of Perth) were destroyed. In the northern jarrah forest, over 16,000 ha of forest suddenly collapsed, with mortality rates 10.5 times greater than normal.

In several ecosystems, species have died out and not been replaced, permanently shifting vegetation structure and ecosystem function. Some believe that species and ecosystems will transition slowly in response to climate change. But following the extreme conditions experienced in 2010-11, we now know the transition in many West Australian woodlands and forests will likely occur in sudden, catastrophic, step changes. Many species may not have time to adapt.

These often sudden and dramatic shifts in vegetation health, structure and function have profound consequences on associated flora and fauna, including many critically endangered species. The Mediterranean type-ecosystems of the south west were recently named among the top 10 ecosystems most vulnerable to climate-induced tipping points and degradation by a panel of 26 leading Australian ecologists. The region is one of 35 global biodiversity hotspots, harbouring approximately 1500 plant species, most of which aren’t found anywhere else.


Former Labor party leader slams Sydney council for putting screens around a public pool for Muslim women to swim in private

Media personality Mark Latham says putting up curtains at a Sydney public swimming pool to cater for Muslim women is a step towards putting drapes around section of Bondi Beach - as an Islamic sheikh likened it to imposing sharia law in Australia's suburbs.

The council-run Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre in the city's west has installed a retractable curtain around one of its three pools so women can swim privately during two set time slots on Wednesdays, infuriating many residents who said it was like 'segregation'.

The organiser of the swim group, Yusra Metwally, said the idea behind the sessions was to 'accommodate people who wouldn't otherwise swim at a beach, or swim in a swimming pool because they don't feel comfortable'.

However Mr Latham, a former federal Labor leader, said it set an awful precedent and undermined Australia's egalitarian values about people from all different backgrounds mixing together.

'Where does it end? What's the next step? Down at Bondi Beach, we're going to have some curtained-off area, or something, it's just ridiculous,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.

While Mr Latham supported the right of Muslim women to swim in a burkini, he said councils were bowing to left-wing demands to protect minority groups instead of encouraging individuals to come to terms with their modesty issues.

'It's not going to be very helpful for Islamic integration into the broader Australian community,' he said. 'Enclaves are a disaster for Australian multiculturalism. It becomes monocultural.'

There are even critics within the Muslim community, with Adelaide Shia imam Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi likening the swimming pool policy to sharia law.

'It is part of sharia law that a strange man must not see the body of another woman, therefore they are installing the curtains,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

Sheikh Tawhidi said religious Muslims should build 'Muslim-only swimming pools for themselves' rather than have their laws imposed on non-Muslims.

'Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre is not an Islamic swimming pool, therefore they should not be accepting of such an idea in the first place,' he said. 'The Muslim community can afford a private swimming pool for themselves that observes their sharia laws.'

Some locals have slammed the idea as 'segregation,' saying the women are receiving 'special treatment'.

'These communities should be encouraged to integrate and uphold the values of equality and respect not division and segregation paid for by taxes and council rates,' one woman wrote.

Anthony McIntosh, manager of the centre's operator Belgravia Leisure, said the covering for the swimming pool's glass walls was intended to make Muslim women more comfortable with aquatic activities.

Behind the curtain, Muslim women who wear a hijab would be able to swim in whatever attire they feel comfortable instead of a modesty suit or burkini.

Ms Metwally said other swimmers would not be affected as the other pools would be open to everyone during the session times.

'We had a record number of people drown at the end of last year which matches up with the road fatalities,' she said.

'So if we can have more women who are water-safe, that's surely a good thing.'

Cumberland Council general manager Malcolm Ryan told Daily Mail Australia female lifeguards are present during the women's only swim sessions. 'Council has a responsibility to cater for the needs of its community,' he said.

'The curtains, which are retractable and can be used or not used at any time, ensure we have provided a space that is accessible to and inclusive for all'.

The pool is also used for children's swimming classes and use by the elderly, people with a disability and patients having hydrotherapy or physiotherapy, who may prefer additional privacy during their use of the pool.

It is not only used by Muslim women and can be used by any women.
Cumberland Council General Manager, Malcolm Ryan, told Daily Mail

Cumberland Council General Manager, Malcolm Ryan, told Daily Mail Australia female lifeguards are present during the Women's Only swim sessions

Ms Metwally said although she is an avid swimmer, she 'didn't like swimming in a burkini and for a long time.' 'I remember when I was younger I was told by a lifeguard that my clothes weren't appropriate for the pool — you feel like you are being policed and that you stand out.

'Some women are worried that what they wear in the pool can expose them to questions, comments or stares.'


Must not laugh at blackface concerns

An Australian ice-cream store says it has taken disciplinary action against a staff member after the brand came under fire on social media for a post that made reference to blackface.

Mumbrella reports N2 Extreme Gelato made a post on both Instagram and Facebook on Friday, advertising a new flavour of ice-cream containing charcoal. The photo shows the ice-cream held in someone’s hand, which is smeared with charcoal.

The caption accompanying the post reads: "Is it still considered blackface if it’s just on your hand???".

"Anyway it’s just split [sic] carbon so calm yo tits with our HONEY CHARCOAL VANILLA gelato!" the caption concludes.

It wasn’t long before customers took to the comments sections to slam the brand over its "inappropriate" caption and post, labelling it both racist and sexist.

"Wow @n2australia you should probably have a sit down with whoever is in charge of your social media and give them lesson on how not to trivialise racism," wrote one commenter on Instagram.

"This is a heinous caption. It’s offensive and trivialises a serious issue. Take it down," wrote another.



Four current reports below

Why should everyone else pay for your expensive university degree?

Australian students have the immense privilege of being able to attend a world-class university regardless of their bank balance, or family background.

And that will continue under the government’s recently announced plans to make students foot more of the bill for their degree, and to start paying it back sooner.

The beauty of Australia’s higher education contribution scheme, or ‘HECS’ as it’s widely known, is that students are only expected to repay less than half the full cost of their studies after they land a job that earns them a comfortable living. By the time former students are earning the government’s newly revised threshold of $42,000 a year for compulsory HECS repayments, they will be taking home a healthy $700 a week after tax and super contributions.

That is a far cry from packaged noodles, tinned spaghetti and instant coffee.

And once students do start work, the dividends are enormous. University graduates can expect to earn well over $1 million more throughout their working life than those without a degree. They also enjoy around half the average unemployment rate, as well as having the opportunity to spend valuable years plying their trade in their chosen field.

That kind of pay-off makes the government’s proposed fee increase of no more than $3600 a year look like chump change. Anyone who claims an increase of this order will stop school leavers from pursuing their dream career can join me for a bicycle ride to the moon. Indeed, whatever way you slice it, taking out a HECS loan to attend university stands to be the best investment you’re ever likely to make.

It’s fashionable to romanticise the Whitlam government’s introduction of free tertiary education as a shining example of the truly egalitarian society Australia ought to be.
A student in the quadrangle of the University of Sydney. Holders of degrees will significantly out-earn other workers, so asking them to pay more is fair and reasonable. (Pic: AAP/Paul Miller)

But where is the fairness in asking the majority of Australians — three quarters of whom don’t have a university qualification — to subsidise the debt of tomorrow’s professional class who are likely to earn more over their lives than they will?

With an eye-watering national debt of $550 billion and an annual deficit of $37 billion, there is no painless or politically simple way of bringing our country’s finances back to a sustainable footing. Faced with the challenges of an ageing population, chronic infrastructure backlog and inexorably rising health costs to name a bare few, hard-headed choices in our national interest are sorely needed.

If we want to take care of those who are sick, without work or who can’t otherwise go it alone, it makes sense to share the burden with those who can. By that standard, paring back the funds used to pave the way for doctors, lawyers, scientists and engineers without raising the entry barriers for future students is a perfectly equitable place to start.

None of this is to say there aren’t scores of students buckling under the cost of living independently while studying 40 hours a week. But if we actually want to help students doing it tough, there are far better things we could do than paying off a debt they will only encounter once they’re taking home an easily liveable wage.

But as famously said by Paul Keating, the Treasurer who abolished free university and introduced the HECS system, "a free higher education system is one paid for by the taxes of all, the majority of whom haven’t had the privilege of a university education. Ask yourself if you think that is a fair thing."

On that score, Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s announced shake up of university funding is exactly the kind of fair and forward-thinking policy the Coalition government should be championing.


Enrolments at Sydney Catholic high schools drop for the first time in 20 years

Mainly due to the high costs of living in Sydney, particularly for accommodation

Enrolments in NSW Catholic high schools have dropped for the first time in almost 20 years and are down overall in Catholic schools for the first time since 2008 as struggling families are forced into overcrowded public schools.

The latest enrolment figures show there are 219,862 students in the state's systemic Catholic schools, down 179 from last year, according to the minutes of the NSW Catholic Education Commission's March meeting.

Schools in the Maitland diocese had the largest enrolment increase, with 392 extra students this year, while the largest decline was in the Parramatta diocese, with saw a drop of 353 students.

At the same, the latest enrolment figures from the NSW Department of Education show that some public schools within the area covered by the Parramatta diocese have ballooned by about 20 per cent in just four years.

"This is the first year since 2008 in which total enrolments have declined from the previous year [and] this is the first year since 1999 in which secondary enrolments have declined," the minutes say.

Maitland-Newcastle and Wollongong dioceses had enrolment growth in both their primary and high schools, the minutes say.

"Sydney and Lismore also grew overall but declined in the secondary and primary sectors respectively."

The executive director of Catholic education in Parramatta, Greg Whitby, said there were substantial financial pressure on families in western Sydney.

"House prices and rental costs, as well as general cost of living increases, are putting many families in a situation where they don't feel that they can afford even the modest cost of systemic Catholic schools fees," Mr Whitby said.

But Mr Whitby said some parents were also "hesitant" about the "strong school transformation agenda" in Parramatta.

"For some communities, this student-centred, inquiry-based learning model is very different from what they know or are used to. For the schools that have embraced this contemporary approach to learning and schools, they are doing outstandingly well," Mr Whitby said.

"Others are more hesitant or are still in the early stages of change. We believe this is reflected in enrolment numbers."

In the Sydney diocese, primary school enrolments increased by more than 100 students but there was a "slight decline" of less than 50 students from their secondary schools, according to a spokeswoman.

"Preliminary research shows that some families, particularly in the southwest regions of Sydney, are already struggling to make ends meet especially due to the mortgage stress of the Sydney housing market," the spokeswoman said.

"Only 35 per cent of families in our south-west Sydney schools can comfortably afford a Catholic education, while 15 per cent find it a real struggle."

The spokeswoman said the Catholic systemic schools had always maintained to keep school fees "affordable to the bare minimum required to deliver a quality education".

The fees for years 7 to 8 are about $1600 per year, increasing to about $1700 per year for years 9 and 10 and $2200 per year for years 11 to 12, according the the Sydney Catholic Schools website.

"The reality however, with the current uncertainty in Commonwealth's announced 10-year funding school model means, Sydney Catholic Schools could face fee increase potentially forcing some families to seek enrolments in the already overcrowded state education sector," the spokeswoman said.


Proposed changes to Australia Education Act do not go far enough

The majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged'

The government’s proposed amendments to the Australia Education Act introduced to the Parliament today include welcome changes to school funding but do not go far enough, Centre for Independent Studies education policy analyst Blaise Joseph said.

"The proposed changes — important updates of school funding data, a better way of allocating funding for students with disabilities, sensible transition arrangements for schools with funding changes over the next 10 years, and indexation based on actual costs – ignore the crucial issues," Mr Joseph said.

"The changes do not address the fundamental underlying problems with the school funding model: that the benchmark is set unreasonably high and is not based on any evidence."

"The SRS base amount is to be calculated using the latest data, which is welcome as it is currently based on data from as far back as 2008. However, the legislation does not include any provision for further updates any time the next 10 years, so in 2027 schools will be funded based on data which is over 10 years old. This is a significant oversight which should be rectified," he said.

"The government’s proposal to have three different levels of support for students with disabilities depending on need — instead of just one level for all students with disabilities — is a sensible move, as not all student with disabilities have the same needs.

"However the proposed changes to loadings do not address the fundamental problems with the SRS.

"It is inexcusable that the other loadings haven’t been substantially altered, as they represent a significant proportion of the cost of the SRS, are not based on any evidence whatsoever, and do not represent genuine needs-based funding.

"In particular, the loading for low SES still applies to the lowest 50% of all students."

"This means the criteria for ‘disadvantage’ remains unreasonably broad such that the majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged’ and receive extra funding. As a result, the cost of the SRS is unjustifiably high," Mr Joseph said.


Jobs without degrees: Is university becoming outdated?

THE Government’s decision to increase university fees is not the only reason Australians should reconsider enrolling.

Many experts and employers believe degrees are outdated, with the world of work is changing faster than universities can keep up.

Degree costs are set to grow 7.5 per cent by 2021 and students will have to start paying back loans as soon as they earn $42,000 a year, meanwhile shorter, less expensive study options – such as free online courses and vocational qualifications – are increasingly considered on par or even preferable, depending on the field of work.

Dr Amantha Imber, founder of training and consulting firm Inventium, says she does not look for university degrees when hiring for operational, administrative or support roles.

"In this day and age there is a wealth of learning experiences online and many of those are free or cost effective, like under $1000, and what you can learn is often actually a lot better than what you learn in a university degree," she says.

"What is important to us in any job applicant is a thirst for learning.

"(Universities) generally are big conservative organisations and they are not moving fast enough to keep up with how the world is changing around them."

GradStats data finds 68.8 per cent of 2015 bachelor degree graduates available for full-time work found it within four months of completing their studies.

This is up from 68.1 per cent for 2014 graduates but down from 71.3 per cent for 2013 graduates.

Although some occupations still require university for licensing purposes – such as lawyers, teachers, doctors and engineers – Imber says there is a trend of employers thinking outside the box when it comes to education.

"There are definitely larger organisations no longer treating (degrees) as a mandatory requirement," she says.

"They are probably still in the minority but there is definitely a change happening."

In July, PwC will welcome its first cohort of school leavers under the Government’s Higher Apprenticeships pilot program.

The Year 12 graduates will join PwC’s consulting and assurance teams in Sydney and Melbourne and be trained on the job, earning a Diploma of Business along the way.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show more than a quarter of school leavers choose the workforce over post-school studies straight after graduation.

Of the 237,400 Australians who finished Year 12 in 2015, 69,200 were working and not studying in May, 2016.

Michelle Moloney, director of nanny matching service Mini Majer, did not go to university and has zero regrets.

She started her career path with a Diploma of Hospitality Operations and Event Management, and a three-month stint in catering but soon decided to move into the corporate world.

She became a receptionist at a recruitment firm before working her way up to a consultant position then eventually managing and purchasing Mini Majer.

"I didn’t need any degrees or anything like that," she says.

"(Recruitment) is one of those things you can only learn on the job.

"In high school I was very competitive and always wanted to get ahead but I never thought a degree would get me ahead.

"My mum grew up in a village in a convent and didn’t have the luxury of finishing high school so I get that drive from my mum."

Lisa Solomons, director of 360 PR, also took an alternative path to success. She went straight into full-time work with Telstra then, after a year, enrolled in a Diploma of Marketing, specialising in Sports Marketing.

"At the time I was cheerleading for the Roosters and decided I would prefer to be in the office rather than on the field," she says.

"I ended up working in the marketing department for a Sydney nightclub (then) a 12-month reception role came up at a public relations company and I quickly realised that this was where I was meant to be."

Solomons studied part time at night to complete a Diploma of Public Relations and now runs her own company.

"(If you don’t got to university), you need to be proactive and say ‘yes’ to create the path you want. Have a bank of mentors and look beyond people within your chosen industry," she says.

"I didn’t want to go to university just because that was the thing you do."


A majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged’!

The government’s proposed amendments to the Australia Education Act introduced to the Parliament today include welcome changes to school funding but do not go far enough, Centre for Independent Studies education policy analyst Blaise Joseph said.

"The proposed changes — important updates of school funding data, a better way of allocating funding for students with disabilities, sensible transition arrangements for schools with funding changes over the next 10 years, and indexation based on actual costs – ignore the crucial issues," Mr Joseph said.

"The changes do not address the fundamental underlying problems with the school funding model: that the benchmark is set unreasonably high and is not based on any evidence."

"The SRS base amount is to be calculated using the latest data, which is welcome as it is currently based on data from as far back as 2008. However, the legislation does not include any provision for further updates any time the next 10 years, so in 2027 schools will be funded based on data which is over 10 years old. This is a significant oversight which should be rectified," he said.

"The government’s proposal to have three different levels of support for students with disabilities depending on need — instead of just one level for all students with disabilities — is a sensible move, as not all student with disabilities have the same needs.

"However the proposed changes to loadings do not address the fundamental problems with the SRS.

"It is inexcusable that the other loadings haven’t been substantially altered, as they represent a significant proportion of the cost of the SRS, are not based on any evidence whatsoever, and do not represent genuine needs-based funding.

"In particular, the loading for low SES still applies to the lowest 50% of all students."

"This means the criteria for ‘disadvantage’ remains unreasonably broad such that the majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged’ and receive extra funding. As a result, the cost of the SRS is unjustifiably high," Mr Joseph said.


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

18 May, 2017

Santos boss warns on ‘rushed’ east coast gas intervention, urges industry solution

Victoria and NSW want to grab natural gas mined in Queensland because they have banned gas mining in their own States.  Why should anyone accommodate that?  There is however a big new gas  mine under development in Qld. that should supply plenty of gas for all

Santos chief Kevin Gallagher says Malcolm Turnbull’s east coast gas intervention is being rushed through, could put future Australian LNG contracts at risk and will reduce pressure on Victoria, NSW and the Northern Territory to produce their own onshore gas.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Perth, the Santos boss said east coast exporters should put an industry solution to the east coast crisis.

"There is an imbalance in the market and I don’t think it is just about availability — it’s a supply issue, but it’s an affordability issue as well," he said.

"Whatever we come up with has to be robust and not scare investors, international oil companies and buyers.

"A reputation for reliable supply has really underpinned the boom we’ve been through. There are still millions of tonnes of LNG to be contracted in the years ahead, and we have to be really careful we don’t create an environment where we are known asbeing not only a high cost environment but a high sovereign risk environment."

Mr Gallagher said the government’s plan to implement its domestic gas intervention plan by July was too quick. "This is a tool for governments to use over 20 to 30 years," he said.

"Any long term solution has to protect the sanctity of long-term agreements. If you start putting export licenses in place and you ask companies to apply every year to meet contract commitments, how will you sign the next agreement ... people will go to the US to get their gas."

He said gas swaps, where export-bound gas could be diverted to domestic markets and LNG contracts filled by spot purchases took time to negotiate.

Resources Minister Matthew Canavan and Woodside Petroleum chief Peter Coleman have said swaps are one solution to the east coast problem. "Some of the people making comments in the market might be conflicted because they are looking to sell some spot cargoes," Mr Gallagher said.

He said that a rushed mechanism could have unintended consequences. "One of the problems with an ill-thought-out mechanism is it may just let all the states that haven’t developed resources sit back and rely on Queensland.

"Everybody should work together to get an industry solution we can take to government. I think there is a risk we are standing alone and being singled out as a project, the way this is heading, and I don’t think that’s a good outcome and it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem."


Immigration farce shows Pauline Hanson was right all along

Des Houghton

I HATE to say it, but it seems Pauline Hanson was right all along.

Muslim immigrants are sneaking into Australia on fake claims they will be persecuted if they are sent home.

Perhaps we are too soft at welcoming uninvited non-citizens who jump the back fence.

Australia’s immigration system is again under scrutiny after visas were granted to "refugees" who lied their way in by pretending to be in danger if they were sent home.

Six Iranian boat people have made a mockery of our strict border controls by gaining residency and then travelling back and forth to Iran on holiday.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton did the right thing and moved to deport them, only to have his decision overturned by the Administration Appeals Tribunal.

In fact 39 per cent of Dutton’s decisions or those by delegates have been overturned by the AAT in the past year.

Dutton has done a mighty job protecting borders and showing the door to undesirables.

He chose his words carefully yesterday saying some "infuriating" cases make you "shake your head". So the courts, once again, usurp the powers of the democratically-elected Cabinet minister responsible for our welfare.

The left-wing Greens and Labor pretenders don’t like me mentioning it but "refugees" pay $10,000 to people-smugglers for places on boats to Australia. So they are not genuine refugees. They are queue jumpers.

Polls show a majority of Australians support immigration. But the majority also favours entry of only genuine refugees who have been carefully assessed.

Now isn’t the time for Malcolm Turnbull to go soft.

He should remember that strife surrounding unvetted immigration has smashed European Union and delivered Donald Trump the White House.


Shipbuilding sticker shock: taxpayer to waste millions per naval job

From those of us who long lamented the waste of taxpayer dollars propping up the automotive industry, it’s time to declare "come back, all is forgiven". Perhaps it’s not too late to throw a few billion at Detroit and Tokyo to get them to stay because, compared to its replacement, automotive protectionism was bargain basement stuff.

In unveiling its Naval Shipbuilding Plan today, the government gave some hard numbers to the cost of propping up Australia’s uncompetitive naval construction sector and the diminishing number of Liberal-held seats in South Australia. And they’re horrific. To build a succession of frigates, patrol boats, submarines and smaller naval craft in Australian shipyards in coming decades, the government has committed to spend at least $195 billion, not merely on building the vessels, but in upgrading shipyard infrastructure to handle the task (the cost of maintaining the vessels is a whole, and much larger, separate bucket of money). The big-ticket items are the $50 billion submarine contract and the $35 billion future frigates project, both of which will be built in Adelaide, although the future frigates project still awaits a decision on a successful tenderer.

Today’s plan also reveals the government needs to invest in the upgrading of the Adelaide shipyards in order to accommodate multiple builds. That will cost at least $1.2 billion — although the upgrades haven’t even been designed yet, meaning the cost is almost certain to increase. Worse, the vessel construction schedule is dependent on those upgrades being completed by late 2019, meaning there’s no room for delays. That $1.2 billion is likely to end up looking fanciful when time comes for the Australian National Audit Office to write the inevitably scathing report of how the upgrades were mishandled.

Australian shipbuilding plan © Provided by Private Media Operations Pty Ltd. Australian shipbuilding plan According to the plan, it will sustain 5200 jobs when construction reaches a peak in the mid-2020s. That’s what we’re getting in terms of employment for spending $195 billion on local construction. The plan notes the famous RAND report that found "the cost of building naval ships in Australia was 30-40 per cent greater than United States benchmarks, and even greater against some other naval shipbuilding nations". Assuming RAND’s lowest estimate, 30%, we’re spending nearly $60 billion more than we need to over the coming decades (and more beyond) for 5200 jobs. That’s around $11.25 million a job, or about $1 million a year over a decade. In contrast, back around 2010, we were spending about $10,000 a year to support around 50,000 automotive manufacturing jobs.

But according to the plan, we’re missing the point. What the government is doing is investing so that that 30-40% gap can be closed.

    "RAND judged that the premium could be reduced if both Government and the industry were prepared to reform. Government would need to change its demand profile for new naval vessels and reform its acquisition and contracting processes. Industry would need to reform its workplace cultures and institute productivity improvements across the board. Both sides of the demand-supply relationship would need to work more collectively – in partnership — to deliver a more productive and cost-competitive industrial capability. The Government accepted the RAND principles and is making the necessary investment in a strategic national capability for naval shipbuilding and sustainment."

So, we’re spending $195 billion over the next ten years on local naval construction so that we spend less on naval construction. It’s a kind of fiscal equivalent of fighting for peace (or as the Plan puts it, all this extra defence spending is "part of the Australian contribution to global peace"). So let’s assume that the government is wildly successful and reduces the RAND gap by three-quarters. We’d still be spending tens of billions for 5000 local jobs.

But it isn’t the only interesting twist on protectionism in the document. We’re building so many vessels locally that we won’t have enough workers to build them. We’re not just propping up existing jobs, we’re creating new ones to subsidise. Better yet, many of those jobs are going to be filled by… foreign workers. Yes, even though it’s only a few weeks since the Prime Minister announced the faux-bolition of 457 visas, the plan says we’ll need lots of foreign workers:

    "Selected shipbuilders are expected to bring into the Australian shipyards workers from their home companies who are familiar with their specific production techniques and processes. These workers are likely to fill middle management and supervisory roles and will be essential to the process of knowledge transfer to the Australian naval shipbuilding industry."

You’ve got to hand it to Australia — we’ve invented a form of protectionism that involves looking after foreign workers. So, everyone’s a winner. Except the poor taxpayer.



A most incorrect man: Broadcaster John Laws reveals he still demands female staff wear short skirts

If men stopped liking the looks of women, the human race would rapidly die out

Controversial broadcaster John Laws says he still demands women in his office wear short skirts and bare legs and refuses to be bowed by "political correctness".

The 81-year-old refused to accept he could not "get away with some of the things he got away with in the 70s, 80s and 90s", and when asked if he still demanded female staff to wear skirts he said "you bet".

"I can ... (and) they all wear skirts," Laws said in an interview with Steve Price on The Project last night.

"He who pays the piper calls the tune. "I just love women, it's been one of my great downfalls in life.

"I love to talk to them, I'd much rather talk to them than a bunch of blokes and I love them to look feminine. "And to me a skirt on a beautiful body is a very, very feminine thing."

Laws said if he was confronted by the Equal Opportunity Commission, which investigates discrimination in the workplace, he would tell them to "get stuffed".

His comments sparked fury amongst viewers, who said it disrespected women. "Someone needs to tell John Laws women's bodies don't exist for male pleasure," one person wrote.


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

17 May, 2017

Reading to children at bedtime: ABC questions value of time-honoured practice

I question it too.  All the studies show that children read to subsequently do better at school but is that a result of the reading?  It is more likely a social class effect.  Middle class people are more likely to read and they also have higher IQs.  The question could easily be answered by controlling for IQ  but IQ and social class are both largely forbidden topics in the social science and medical literature. 

There is however one well controlled study here which found that NO parental lifestyle differences, including reading to children, had any effect on the subsequent IQ of the child

THE ABC has questioned whether parents should read to their children before bedtime, claiming it could give your kids an "unfair advantage" over less fortunate children.

"Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?" asks a story on the ABC’s website.

"Should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?"

The story was followed by a broadcast on the ABC’s Radio National that also tackled the apparently divisive issue of bedtime reading.

"Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t," British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.

Gelonesi responded online: "This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted."

Contacted by The Daily Telegraph, Gelonesi said the bedtime stories angle was highlighted by the ABC "as a way of getting attention".

Asked if it might be just as easy to level the playing field by encouraging other parents to read bedtime stories, Gelonesi said: "We didn’t discuss that."

Swift said parents should be mindful of the advantage provided by bedtime reading.

"I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally," he said.

Professor Frank Oberklaid, from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute said he was bewildered by the idea. "It’s one of the more bizarre things I’ve heard," he said. "We should be bringing all kids up to the next level."


'Fake' Iranian refugees reportedly allowed to stay in Australia

Six Iranian refugees who were caught travelling back to the country where they claimed their lives were in danger have reportedly been allowed to stay in Australia.

The group have been accused of lying on their visa applications after voluntarily returning to Iran on holiday despite having obtained protection visas based on fears for their lives, News Corp reports.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is considering what he will do in response to the reports, 9NEWS understands.

All six refugees' protection visas were reportedly cancelled after it was discovered they were travelling between Iran and Australia. They were set to be deported, but after successfully appealing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal they were allowed to stay in Australia.

One man reportedly made three trips to Iran despite earlier claiming he could face execution if he returned. A couple also reportedly travelled to and from Iran using their Iranian passports after claiming persecution.

Mr Dutton has the power to set aside decisions made by the tribunal, and is understood to be considering the reports on a case-by-case basis.


Inflated housing expectations

The Budget measures relating to housing are a case study in how to fail in meeting expectations. The government unwisely generated, then inflated, expectations that there would be major solutions to housing affordability in the Budget.

But we haven’t got those solutions. Instead we have a hodge-podge of measures that help and hinder the problem simultaneously. On the help side, the main funding agreement for the states will be reformed to cajole them into reforming planning laws and increasing housing supply. About time too.

The new Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (HFIC) for social housing could be worthwhile as long as it doesn’t have government backing.

There are also changes to super to facilitate saving for deposits by home owners, and downsizing by retirees, but these will make the super system even more complex.

However, the ‘hinder’ side of the ledger is long. There are several increased taxes on housing investors, particularly foreign investors. Tax deductions for travel to investor housing will be denied, as will depreciation deductions for plant and equipment installed by previous owners of housing. Foreign investors will pay more capital gains tax (CGT) and an extra levy on properties left vacant, while there will be added restrictions on housing purchases by foreigners.

And the big tax on big banks, worth $6.2 billion over four years, will flow through to higher mortgage rates, harming housing affordability and investment.

These measures send a totally mixed message when other measures purport to promote housing investment, including through reduced CGT on investment in affordable housing and the previously mentioned HFIC.

There is also $1 billion for a National Housing Infrastructure Facility, but this is unnecessary as the states should undertake housing-related infrastructure investment themselves — and lose funding if they don’t.

Overall, if the housing measures in the budget demonstrate anything, it is how mismanaging expectations can generate policies that are more bad than good.


Advance Australia Fair is our anthem, right or wrong

Stan Grant continues his rightwards drift below

When my brother was a young boy he was asked in class what he wanted to be when he grew up.

"Lionel Rose," he answered.

The Aboriginal world boxing champion was a hero in our family.

For Aboriginal people like us, sport was a pathway to success.

We did not know anyone who had been to university, but we knew a lot of boxers and footballers.

One of my sweetest memories of childhood is walking with my father through the park that led to Redfern Oval, home of our beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Dad would take me by the hand to see players like Eric Simms, the Aboriginal full back and point scoring wizard.

Sometimes we would bump into my father's old mate Eric Robinson, a powerful, fast Rabbitohs player from the 1960s.

Eric's son Rick Walford would later play for the St George Dragons and Eric's grandson Nathan Merritt would pull on the red and green of South Sydney.

A wonderful football dynasty. They are part of a proud tradition of Aboriginal rugby league players.

Dad turned out for Newtown, my cousin David Grant played for Souths and later captained Canberra.

I remember them all, the immortal Arthur Beetson, Larry Corowa, Percy Knight, Cliff Lyons, Steve Ella, John Ferguson, Laurie Daley and modern day giants like Greg Inglis and Jonathon Thurston.

I could go on and on. Indigenous people comprise fewer than 3 per cent of the Australian population but are more than 10 per cent of the National Rugby League competition.

Of the 13 players who ran out for the Australian Kangaroos against New Zealand in the Anzac test, five were Indigenous. But for injuries there would have been more.

This weekend the NRL is honouring this extraordinary legacy with the Indigenous round.

Teams will wear specially designed Indigenous-themed jumpers, part of a celebration of the culture of the first people of Australia.

It is a high point of the year, but something troubles me.

The NRL has opted to play politics, to dabble in social engineering.

The national anthem will be played before each game. OK, nothing wrong there.

But alongside the "official" anthem the NRL is also including an "alternative" version, Advance Australia Fair rewritten by Judith Durham, the former singer of the 1960s pop group The Seekers.

Same tune, different words. It is meant to be more inclusive: "a new day dawns", "Australians let us all be one" and "honouring the dreamtime".

Nice sentiments. I am all for a new anthem that is less "girt by sea".

But by including it this weekend it seems the NRL is apologising for Advance Australia Fair.

Could anyone imagine a football game in the United States offering an alternative version of the Star Spangled Banner?

Would the English football team walk into Wembley Stadium to a rewritten God Save the Queen? (I can hear the Sex Pistols playing faintly in the distance!)

Imagine an updated Le Marseillaise?

It is problematic for many Indigenous people. It sits with those other uneasy symbols of dispossession and colonisation, the flag and Australia Day.

Some have taken a stand. Indigenous singer Deborah Cheetham declined an invitation to sing the anthem at the 2015 AFL grand final.

Boxer and former footballer Anthony Mundine has boycotted the anthem and called on other Indigenous sportspeople to do the same.

But I have also seen black sports stars — like Thurston — proudly sing with hand on hearts while representing their country.

We live in a democracy and I support the right of people to boycott the anthem or reject the flag.

I also accept and respect those who cherish our national symbols.

We value pluralism — the right of many voices to be heard — but we also live in a system that accepts the decisions of the majority.

Our vote is our expression of our democratic right and for those in the minority our law should protect and defend us from potential tyranny.

Strange multiplicity

Getting this balance is right is crucial. The strength and primacy of the nation state is one of the challenges of our age.

Around the world we are seeing a blowback against globalisation, deindustrialisation and a liberal cosmopolitanism that has cost jobs, eliminated borders, challenged sovereignty and left some people feeling as though they no longer recognise their own country — strangers in their own land.

This dislocation has fuelled a wave of populism founded on xenophobia, racism, and trade protectionism that seeks to exploit division.

It is countered by identity politics that is often framed by a celebration of difference over unity.

British political scientist David Goodhart captures this phenomenon in his recent book The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics.

He identifies two broad groups: "anywheres" educated, mobile professionals of no fixed allegiance at home anywhere in the world, and "somewheres" often working class, more rooted and loyal to a fixed place.

His message is, in a rapidly changing and connected world, somewhere still matters.

The task of so-called "liberal elite" is to negate the appeal of populists by strengthening a sense of nationhood while still opening up to the world.

Canadian philosopher, James Tully, speaks of a "strange multiplicity". He asks how to manage constitutionalism in an age of diversity.

Professor Tully says we find ourselves locked in intractable conflicts of nationalism and federalism, linguistic and ethnic minorities, feminism and multiculturalism and the demands of indigenous rights.

    "The question is whether a constitution can give recognition to the legitimate demands of the members of diverse cultures that renders everyone their due," he writes.

In the time of this "strange multiplicity" democracy has been in retreat.

A 2016 edition of the journal Foreign Affairs revealed that between 2000 and 2015 democratic ideals broke down in 27 countries from Kenya to Russia, Thailand and Turkey.

In this world of competing claims on nationhood and identity, can the centre hold?

Where is the role for citizenship? What does citizen mean?

All of this may seem very far from the National Rugby League. But it isn't.

Just as sport inspired me and told a young Aboriginal boy he could have a future in the world, so it helps bind us as a nation.

    We don't strengthen a nation by weakening the symbols of a nation. We don't strengthen the values of our democracy by apologising for our anthem.

If we don't like it, as a nation we should change it.

By offering an "alternative" version the NRL is trying to have it both ways, trying to appease any potential Indigenous political opposition.

It is well meant but misguided and potentially politicises what should be a celebration.

There are many things I would wish to see in Australia — a republic, a new flag, Indigenous constitutional recognition and treaties that enshrine the Indigenous place in Australia, that recognises our traditions and claims to this land, and produce economic and political certainty.

In a democracy we compete peacefully and persuasively for our ideas, we listen to and value the voices and opinions of others, we prosecute our case in the marketplace and seek validation in our courts and at the ballot box.

And, yes, one day I would like to see an anthem that speaks to us all.

When that day comes the NRL should play that loudly and proudly.

Until then we have an anthem it is Advance Australia Fair. The NRL should play it and accept and support those who may protest.

Otherwise, play no anthem at 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

16 May, 2017

This budget signals a jump to the left

That is sort of true but it is really a non-ideological budget.  Its aim is to win elections, nothing more.  So it is a steady-as-she-goes budget that aims to please many while  upsetting nobody.  Turnbull does not have the conviction that would make him able to sell the spending cutbacks that are really needed

Australia is undergoing a decisive change in its political values — Malcolm Turnbull has reinvented his government as a pragmatic, populist, public investment vehicle and Bill Shorten in reply has taken Labor even further to the populist, ideological left.

The edifices of Australia’s aspir­ational politics and market-based reforms are being torched in an end-of-generation bonfire. Occasionally in a nation’s history you can identify a point of transformation and it is likely that this week is such a marker.

Politics is now a contest about the nature of tax increases, the scope of monumental social spending initiatives and the type of government intervention. Australia is becoming yet another Western-world laboratory for the anti-market, populist revolution fuel­led by resentment towards finance and corporates, the breakdown of the social contract, big-spending social democratic reforms and a drumbeat for redistribution and equality.

The Prime Minister and Scott Morrison have repudiated the 2014 Abbott budget, moved to assure Middle Australia, declared the worst is over, bet their government on higher economic growth, and displayed a ruthlessness to save their government and make it competitive again.

How did the Opposition Leader respond? In his budget reply Shorten doubled down on the strategy that nearly made him PM last year — he wants more redistribution and class warfare; more taxes on companies, multinationals and upper middle to high income earners; vastly more educa­tion spending and rejection of univer­sity cuts; he upholds penalty rates, backs the banks levy, still demands a royal commission, claims Turnbull and the Treasurer aren’t strong enough to stand up to the banks, and wants a top marginal rate of 49.5 per cent (you work for yourself one day and government the next).

The story behind this week is that Labor and the progressives have won the battle of ideas and politics since the 2013 election. The budget is a surrender document for the tougher Abbott-Hockey policies that prioritised the return to surplus. Shorten’s answer to the Turnbull reinvention reveals the political contest will critically shift further to the left.

A far more pragmatic Turnbull now embraces the 2013 Gillard agenda including the Gonski school model and seeks to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme via the Labor way of another 0.5 per cent increase in the Medicare levy. But Shorten savages both decisions. To retain product differentiation he pledges another $22 billion for Gonski funding, frankly a ludicrous figure, and wants the Medicare levy increase limited to those earning above $87,001.

Turnbull enshrines centrist intervention and pragmatism. Shorten’s choice is a crusade for fair­ness. Debt and deficit reduction is on the table but a lower priority. The nation is in retreat from the pro-market post-1983 reform age that delivered such prosperity.

This is the looming political contest that defines our times. We live in a time of reaction, public denial, shallow debate, self-interest and national interest decline.

For Labor, Gonski and the NDIS are icons of political identity and ideological symbolism that assume almost irrational proportions — hence the determination to massively outbid the Liberals on school funds and insist, contrary to the budget papers, that the NDIS is "fully funded" when the government seeks to plug a huge $55bn shortfall over the coming decade.

Shorten is protesting too much. The truth is that Labor is being squeezed by Turnbull’s dramatic repositioning. Shorten is desperate to keep his product differentiation from Turnbull on fairness, redistribution and company bashing, and the danger is that he goes too far and risks the middle ground. The Australian ethos is becoming far more progressive but Labor is in front of the trend.

Shorten attacks Turnbull for seeking "better days for millionaires and multinationals" along with "property investors and tax-minimisers" and offers truckloads of rhetoric about the "big end of town". He seeks the retention of the temporary deficit levy on higher income earners. Asked about the justification for his near 50 per cent top marginal tax rate, Shorten answered: "Is it fair to give millionaires a tax cut?"

He was in furious denial, saying of Morrison’s Tuesday performance: "This is not a Labor budget." Morrison also agrees it is not a Labor budget. The reality, however, is that probably no budget in the past 40 years has so ruthlessly seized the framework of its opposition — witness targeting the banks, embracing Gonski, funding the NDIS, taxing foreign workers, guaranteeing Medicare, boosting infrastructure via "good" debt accounting and tackling the deficit through higher taxes. That’s comprehensive.

It is an admission of reality: that neither the public nor parliament will tolerate unpopular policies and spending cuts to deliver the surplus and intergenerational fairness we need. Turnbull and Morrison bowing before this truth is a turning point for the nation.

As Morrison says, the budget is driven by what is "achievable". It is about the "new reality" of our politics. Leading economist Chris Richardson says that because plan A wasn’t working, it was "absolutely time" to shift to plan B.

The options were obvious: more plan A meant Turnbull was signing his political death warrant. Guess what? Turnbull and Morrison decided plan B sounded better. A critical point, however — which they don’t conceal — is this was not their preference. Australia has become a nation of second, third and fourth-best policy and everybody will pay the price.

There is a relentless logic to this budget and the coming contest. It proves that a dysfunctional political system and a fraudulent public debate will have consequences for a nation. Australia is changing before our eyes.

What of the future? There seem to be two choices — the nation will rekindle confidence in the Turnbull-Morrison team and the pragmatic pro-Labor policy fixes and trade-offs they have engineered or march further to the left under the Labor/progressive banner in the cause of populist redistribution presented as fairness.

Shorten stated the obvious in his budget reply speech: referring to the Hawke-Keating era, he said "Australia can’t live off their legacy forever." So Shorten is ready "to set a new direction", with his solution being investment in educa­tion and human capital. Making the nation "clever" is not a new idea. Valid as far as it goes, it fails without growth-oriented policies to underpin private sector prosperity where 85 per cent of people work.

The major challenge for the government is to stay united in the teeth of its sweeping reinvention. The strains are apparent — Tony Abbott’s policies have been openly repudiated by Turnbull and Morrison; the battered Liberal ethic of economic liberalism has surrendered to political pragmatism.

There is open warfare between the government and the banks that "saved" the nation during the 2008-09 global crisis. Morrison, having insisted the budget had a "savings", not a "revenue", problem, has opted for a "revenue" solution via higher taxes and new levies. Having initially defined himself by innovation, Turnbull is now a champion of huge public investment typified by the decision to build a new Sydney airport and take ownership of Snowy Hydro.

And the government has decided in the cause of political protection to guarantee Medicare and put $18.6bn into Gonski school funding for the next decade. It wants to deny Shorten the charmed political life he has led since the night of the 2014 budget. There is no philosophical logic to this reinvention beyond the reflex of political survival and non-ideological adaptation. In many ways it is a reversion to an older-style Liberal Party of the Fraser era.

Morrison is the driving force behind the political sentiments that underpin this budget. He has been moving down this path since last year’s election. His belief is that the government must listen to the pain, hopes and sentiments of Middle Australia and abandon policy that neither the public nor parliament will accept. Wiping $13bn of unlegislated savings from the budget books after their denial by the Senate has a consequence. It breeds a ruthless flexibility. What else would you expect?

The schism between the Liberals and the banks has no parallel over the past 30 years. It testifies to the smashing of traditional alignments — a consequence of the budget deficit, populist politics and Shorten’s demonisation of the banks. Morrison has converted the anti-bank hostility generated by Labor into easy revenue gains for the Liberals. In the process he lectures bank chiefs about not passing on the levy to customers, say­ing "they don’t like you very much". It is impossible to miss the personal factor. Instead of defending the banks against Labor, Turnbull and Morrison decided instead to pre-empt Labor, tax the banks, impose new regulations on them and make the royal commission a hollow cause.

The banks, having disastrously misread how to respond to the mounting opinion against them, never saw the hammer blow coming. The deficit levy is dangerous policy and logical politics.

The bank levy was settled as a political issue within an hour of Morrison’s budget speech. The banks were friendless and Labor signed up. Morrison ticked off his bottom-line gains. But this created a problem for Labor in its search for product differentiation.

Labor put up in lights its 2016 policy of seeking to extend the temporary deficit measure of the Abbott government that imposed a 2 per cent levy on income above $180,000, with Shorten attacking Turnbull for delivering "a tax cut for millionaires". The levy’s termination was built into the law, but Labor pledges to restore it.

Labor’s big new play, however, was its attack on Turnbull’s proposed increase in the Medicare levy from 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent, designed to raise $50bn over 10 years and finance the NDIS funding gap. This is a proven Labor policy — in its triumphal last Gillard budget Labor announced the NDIS with an increase in the Medicare levy from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent to finance it.

In short, this is another example of Turnbull adopting a Labor policy. The NDIS is a national project for the disabled. Is it fair to expect the entire community to contribute? This is what Labor believed in 2013 in government but does not believe in 2017 in opposition. What has changed?

The key is Labor’s insistence that the NDIS is a Labor policy, that it is fully funded and that the Liberals, somehow or other, want to undermine it. Social Services Minister Christian Porter says: "Labor has never funded the NDIS. They left a $4bn annual funding gap in the NDIS from 2019-20 which grows each and every year … Labor’s claims that it ‘clearly identified’ enough ‘other’ savings to pay for the funding gap is a lie." Labor’s full savings were never set aside or allocated to a fund to support the NDIS. "They ended up being washed away by Labor’s increasing cumulative budget deficits," Porter says. The govern­ment’s proposed increase in the Medicare levy is poetic justice, doing to Labor exactly what Labor did to the Coalition via its own Medicare levy increase.

Labor now insists on the basis of "fairness" that no one earning below $87,001 annually should pay the increased levy. Yet the proposed increase has a heavy dose of fairness anyway. Richardson tells The Australian millionaires will cover 6.9 per cent of the levy cost while constituting only 0.4 per cent of taxpayers and that the 18.3 per cent of taxpayers earning more than $100,000 will finance 46.5 per cent of the extra levy.

Anyone for fairness?

Shorten’s claim the NDIS is fully funded is not tenable — but if that is the case, why is Labor supporting an increase in the Medicare levy anyway? Given its posi­tion it now needs to explain how it would fill the NDIS funding gap as shown in the current budget.

This promises to be a bitter and emotional debate. Shorten plays to the hip pocket. But Labor is vulnerable. It has changed its position, makes untenable claims and has decided to make NDIS funding a political issue. This saga is a case study in the class, fairness and redistributional conflict now at the heart of our politics.


The big danger facing Australian banks

Robert Gottliebsen

Australian banks now face a much greater danger than the $1.5 billion tax deductible levy — quasi nationalisation.

Shareholders should be alarmed because quasi-nationalisation a serious threat to the value of bank shares Nationalisation takes place when the government buys the equity whereas quasi nationalisation takes place when government bodies control the prices of an enterprise and have power over executive remuneration and appointment.

Banks have become our four biggest ASX stocks and dominate most share portfolios so the threat of quasi nationalisation goes well beyond the fate of individual banks.

It’s ironic that the next Federal Election is due in 2019 — 70 years after the 1949 election when ALP Prime Minister Ben Chifley went to the polls partly on the issue of bank nationalisation. Robert Menzies defeated Chifley and the present private banking system was established. It’s ironic that quasi nationalisation should be undertaken by the party Menzies founded.

The banks now have no support from either of the major parties. The banks blame the politicians but the boards and management did not read the warning signs prior to the budget. And then in the panic after the $1.5 billion levy announcement they locked themselves into a situation where they have probably ensured price control on home mortgages which could easily spread to deposits and other consumer products. And that likely price control will be cemented in via the proposed unprecedented influence over bank executives.

It’s important that bank shareholders understand first how the banks fell into the trap and then how the quasi nationalisation movement could infect their operations

While I don’t like what the government has done, that’s irrelevant. It’s happened and unless the Senate votes it down (unlikely) the levy won’t change for a decade or two so we had better understand the wider ramifications.

Banks are in this situation partly because too many of them did not act with brutality to smash the management culture that led to the financial planning and insurance scandals and then deliver rapid and generous compensation to customers. If they had undertaken those actions fast the CEO’s could then have gone out on the campaign trail to show they had reformed. Instead they were slow and compensation in the public eye looked incomplete. That strategy generated bitter parliamentary debates over whether we needed a Royal Commission into banking so creating the environment that makes not only the levy but quasi nationalisation possible. Then on November 12 last year the banks had the perfect chance to redeem their public image by making their ‘100 Page" ridiculously unfair small business overdraft contracts "fair" as defined by the act. They could then have gone out to win small business and community goodwill plus generate lots of business. Instead, the task any junior lawyer could do in less than a week, is stuck in a cultural and legal morass in some of the banks. Many business loan agreements are a total mess. The redemption chance was missed.

Then we come to budget night and that dramatic 24 hours that followed. On that night Bankers Association chief Anna Bligh said that bank customers would have to fund part of the levy. Several bank chief executives made similar remarks. It might have felt good but it was an incredibly dangerous action.

In the budget lock up Treasurer Scott Morrison told me that he believed that the competition from the small banks would stop the banks trying to recoup the levy from customers.

But the banks, having decided to defy Morrison, will now have to face an ACCC inquiry into their home mortgage pricing having said publicly that they would taken an action the ACCC is there to stop. As a result almost certainly there will be an on going monitoring of the pricing of the bank’s biggest earner — home mortgages. And as always happens in quasi nationalisations control is extended beyond one body. The bank regulator APRA has already intervened to get investor loan rates up. APRA may also extend their interest rate control wings. And now that the banks have effectively declared war on the government, if there are strange moves in, say, deposit rates, they risk controls over other parts of their business. The ACCC is to set up a special unit to monitor bank pricing.

And to illustrate that they might over time extend the clamps beyond home mortgages, the government plans to clamp down on "poor practices" in the credit card market ("poor practices" is a euphemism for highly profitable practices). The government will put in place new rules on providing credit cards. London to a brick they will slash credit card profits.

Another part of the plan is to look at ways to increase competition in the industry. All the small banks will be rolling up their sleeves to show a proposed productivity commission inquiry how to do it. So not only are we planning to regulate prices but also we are looking to lower the market share of the big banks.

With hindsight, in my view what Bligh and all the bank CEO’s should have done when they saw the budget documents and the likely subsequent pricing control was to guarantee that customers would not be affected by the levy. And then make doubly sure they deliver on that undertaking so that the looming inquiry would be forced to give the banks a good report. Let the market work later when the heat is off.

I emphasise Bligh and the bank CEO’s were entitled to vigorously complain on behalf of shareholders and point out what the tax would mean to shareholders, the retirement community and indeed the integrity of the banking system. They also have strong case that this was a tax thought up at last minute without much detailed work. But in any battle be careful when you fire your shots. At this time they needed to keep right away from customers. Instead Bligh and selected CEO’s took a very high risk stance. If, as is likely, it locks in quasi nationalisation bank shareholders will not thank them.

And that post budget customer threat reinforced the government view that it was time to be more active in controlling bank executives.

Senior bank executives will be required to register with APRA and before any appointment is made banks are required to advise APRA. Penalties will be imposed on banks that don’t monitor the suitability of their executives to hold senior positions. Bonuses must be made long term. Clearly the government believes that a number of current bank executives are unsuitable for the task. I can only speculate that among those considered unsuitable may include chief executives who proposed to pass the levy onto customers.

Welcome to the world of quasi nationalised banks.

At some point the boards of the banks are going to have to construct an APRA approved executive team that can operate in this new environment. Maybe, rather than ACCC and other inquiries, the banks actually might be better with a Royal Commission. Royal Commissions give time to fix the problems.


Qld LNP devise plan to slash red tape

Queensland's Liberal National Party opposition has declared it will slash red tape by 20 per cent over six years if it wins power at the next election.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls made the announcement on Monday, committing to a "red tape repeal day" once a year in state parliament to focus on reducing bureaucracy.

Mr Nicholls said the key to fostering "vibrant businesses" in the state was to reduce regulation to let them "get on with it".

"Unnecessary regulation, compliance paperwork and approval processes are costly and consume time," he said. "That's why we owe it to businesses, especially those many family-run small businesses, to turn this around."

In addition to the annual repeal day, the LNP would appoint an industry figure to oversee regulatory reform, as well as setting performance targets for ministers and department heads.

Mr Nicholls said the previous Newman government had put forward more than 500 red tape reform initiatives, valued at $425 million a year.

He also criticised the current Palaszczuk Labor government for increasing red tape, including scrapping the LNP's plan to reduce payroll taxes.

But Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace defended the government's record on red tape, pointing to their proposed trading hours reforms as an example. "Our proposed reforms will slash the number of trading hours provisions in Queensland from 99 to just six - a 94 per cent reduction in red tape," Ms Grace said. "The LNP has indicated it won't support trading hours reform, but it's about time they stopped playing politics and put jobs and the economy first."

The next Queensland election is due by next May but there is speculation it will be called later this year


Mainstream pulls reins on runaway political masters

Conservatives everywhere could learn from Trump

Wandering around the US last month I was reminded about the less than compelling place that partisan politics has in our daily lives.

Even in the Democrat heartlands of California and Hawaii, whether in the big cities or the back blocks, Americans didn’t mention politics or their new President unless I raised the topic. They were — to use a phrase — relaxed and comfortable; just getting on with their lives.

This, of course, should be no surprise and it merely confirmed my instincts as I mulled over what we are told are tectonic shifts in the political mood in Western liberal democracies.

Brexit, Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and even Pauline Hanson are often characterised as evidence of a far-right, populist upsurge. This analysis often veers into patronising or demeaning references to the voting public.

If this were true, what could be the trigger? Why would this be happening? And where will it take Australian politics?

Perhaps much of the political/media class has misjudged what is going on. Maybe this is less a case of the public mood shifting than voter realisation that the political/media class has shifted from a once centrist axis.

In the broad, voters have a tendency to be more consistent. Maybe, rather than behaving with volatility, they are the ones who have applied, or are applying, a corrective on a runaway political/media class intent on a damaging progressive course.

Central in this corrective is a reassertion of a fundamentally sensible principle: the primacy of the nation-state and the sacredness of sovereignty.

The voting public has shown it values the cultural and institutional heritage — the hard-won gains — of its liberal democracies more highly than the political/media class, which seems willing to risk bedrock priorities such as national security, border control or separation of church and state to ingratiate themselves to virtue-signalling contemporaries or to win approval from non-government organisations or supra-national bodies.

The political/media class, for instance, would allow free movement across borders into Europe, the US or Australia so as not to wear the opprobrium of the UN — the same UN that puts countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran on bodies promoting wo­men’s rights.

Much of the political class in centre-right and centre-left parties, and throughout media and academe, would portray so-called Islamophobia as a bigger threat than Islamist terrorism.

Voters have been calling time on this sort of nonsensical posturing. Brexit is perhaps the clearest example because there was little by way of personalities or party politicking that contaminated the referendum about membership of the EU. Indeed, the major party and media consensus favoured the remain case.

But voters preferred Brexit. The political/media class still derides this as a foolish, regrettable and even xenophobic decision, yet it was eminently sensible. This was reclamation of sovereignty and is likely to be reaffirmed at next month’s general election.

The public probably has been quite steady on all this through the years, but the political/media class had rushed on without it, ceding ever more bureaucratic, legal, economic and immigration power from London to Brussels. Given the chance, voters opted to protect what they had rather than risk further experimentation and diminution of their sovereignty.

The nation-state matters. Borders are meaningful. Immigration needs to be organised. The rule of law and equality before it must take precedence over cultural tolerance.

This is not reactionary. This is not a redneck backlash. This is rat­ional. It is common sense.

And it represents a commitment not to squander the unequalled gains and privileges of Western civilisation.

To the extent we are seeing culture wars, they are eminently justifiable. Our culture and what it has nurtured — from science and technology, through democracy and the rule of law, to high art and unprecedented standards of living — represents the pinnacle of civilisation to this time, and the aspirations of just about everyone on the planet except those who would tear it down to create a bleak caliphate.

Mainstream people know this, even though the political/media class has made us almost ashamed to say it.

There should be no need to apologise for defending this bounty, this legacy.

In America, eight years of Barack Obama saw endless apologies for American exceptionalism and a retreat by the US from its role as a global enforcer of order.

The Republican Party was unable to coalesce around a strong establishment candidate, so voters were left with a choice between two unappealing options.

One of them, however imperfect, actually spoke about reasserting sovereign priorities on foreign policy, immigration, economic development and trade. When the alternative was more of the same progressive drift, Trump became a viable option.

In France the differing dynamic fits the pattern even though Le Pen did not win. To understand her success so far we have to consider the Muslim integration problems that have manifested in no-go zones, social strife and horrific terror attacks, as well as the example of Britain showing that it is possible to turn your back on Brussels (and Berlin).

The point is that whether you endorse these correctives or not, they are understandable and rational.

So Malcolm Turnbull will be making a major miscalculation if he dismisses these trends as some far-right or conservative backlash that he must resist at home; quite the opposite.

If he further blurs the distinction between the Coalition and Labor he will embed the perception that the political/media class has drifted from mainstream values. This will only inflame the corrective we have started to see already through Hanson’s One Nation and Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives, and deliver Bill Shorten into the Lodge.

Turnbull has had one of his better weeks since taking over the prime ministership. His natural instincts for deal-making have produced an ideal (if expensive) outcome for Sydney’s second airport and a plausible (if also expensive) compromise on education funding.

We can expect to see something similar on Medicare funding in the budget.

This is all aimed at neutralising difficult issues for the government and stemming Labor attacks, which is well enough as far as it goes.

But to capture a sense of purpose for his government and provide a reason for re-election, he must accentuate some differences.

Labor has been soft or wrong-headed on visceral issues such as borders, budgets, Islamic extremism and climate/energy pricing, but the government has not taken advantage.

The Coalition faces a relatively easy task — should it recognise it — of convincing the public it is the party that can be trusted to strongly defend and protect the hard-won qualities, values and priorities that underpin our prosperity and security.

Whether they have been here for generations or arrived last year, Australian families, in the main, will value strong borders over UN posturing, solid schooling over gender and sexuality options, affordable energy over climate gestures, balanced budgets over grand promises, and job opportunities over union deals.

The Coalition has surrendered enough already, giving up its advantage on leadership stability and gradually reducing its dominance on fiscal rectitude. It needs to press home key differences that advance the national interest.

Given where Labor is on the defining issues — divided and weak on borders, high risk on energy pricing and firmly in favour of higher taxes and deeper deficits — Turnbull is fortunate indeed. Aligning with mainstream sentiment should be easy.

Capping the renewable energy target would be the best start and most worthwhile battle. The greatest threats to the Coalition are the lure of political/media class approval, limiting itself to what the Senate will allow and showing a lack of confidence in its values.


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

15 May, 2017

Is Mark Latham angry because of his own humble background?  Do his anti-elite barbs reveal his pain of being an outsider?

Rick Morton says below that coming from a poor background has marked him and he thinks Mark Latham's similar background accounts for his angry rants.  It's a conventional explanation but may be wrong. 

I too come from a poor background but am a positive, contented person.  I also sailed to the top of the socio-economic tree quite quickly and effortlessly and regard my life as a blessed one: No anger or resentment there at all, no consciousness of obstacles.

Latham too sailed to the top of his tree quite quickly and effortlessly so I think my experience might be quite a good simile for his life.  I sailed to the top of the education tree by becoming a university lecturer while Latham climbed to the top of the political tree by becoming the Federal parliamentary leader of the ALP. Neither of us have any grounds for resentment about our progression through life.

So I rather see Latham's utterances as the work of a commendably honest but temperamentally aggressive man.  There is no need to invoke his childhood to explain his actions.  It seems clear that Rick Morton dislikes what Latham says and it is an old tactic to attack disagreements by demeaning one's opponents.  It's called "ad hominem" argument and I cannot see that Morton's article is anything more than that. It is a purely speculative attempt to "psychologize" Latham in order to discredit his arguments.

A man with a parliamentary pension of $80,000 a year called me elite this week, just over a decade since I took a half-eaten chicken from outside a stranger’s hotel room because I had no money for food. Now it is possible I achieved this mythical elite status in the intervening years; I am writing this column. But my assailant is a Well Known Commentator whose only stumbling block in his many well-paid media gigs is that he holds on to them like a man in a greasy pig competition.

I do understand where he is coming from, however, having grown up in similar circumstances. Mum raised me and my two siblings on her own while working for meagre pay. Our father paid $21 a month child support for most of that time. Were it not for the local Catholic Church and its community, we would have had more than one desolate Christmas.

This man, whose father died when he was a teenager, became mayor at 30 and leader of the ALP before losing an election. His wife is a lawyer. He breeds racehorses for fun. None of these are bad things, unless you’ve glazed your persona in the resentment of never fitting into the class you’ve now belonged to for decades.

What commentators — well-read, well-connected — never disclose is that elitism is built on cultural capital. Not just the big stuff, either. By the time I’d finished high school I had read only three classics. I never finished Pride and Prejudice, as mandated, but nailed the essay based on the four-hour BBC drama. I knew of some artworks, but only by indirect means. Whistler’s Mother was famous, I knew, because Mr Bean ruined it in a movie. I saw a few foreign-language films on SBS, but only because we had dial-up internet and I stayed up late to see naked people. Such were the times.

We laugh, but there is an acute shame in all of this. I won a scholarship to a private univer­sity, about which I cared little, but it came with a newspaper cadetship so I went. During one of the valedictory speeches I listened to a student give a speech in which he lamented the rise of scholarships "diluting the elite status of the university" for the full-fee paying among them.

I cried when, in my late teens, I sat next to some of these students at a teppanyaki restaurant during an official function and went hungry because I did not know how to use the chopsticks and was too embarrassed to ask. Days before, I’d never even heard of such a restaurant.

It’s enough to make a man angry, I get it.

My provocateur must have known this feeling. It has riled him for decades. I suspect not, however, out of concern for the millions of other Australians to whom this continues to happen but on account of his own wounds, which have festered.

Both Mark Latham and I made it out of this milieu, whether he wants to admit it or not, though I remain tethered to it in weekly battles to support Mum through the drug addiction of a very close family member that has raged for years. I have feared for her safety more often than I care to think about. None of us has the resources or social leverage to even start an intervention, let alone make rehab work.

There is a certain access that comes to being in the media, though nothing of the sort the anti-elites would have you believe. It is true that when Mum feared our relative had been involved in a serious car accident I called police media to get some basic details and put her mind at ease. It wasn’t him. I did not feel elite.

This is the "real Australia" the commentators claim to represent, though of course they do not. They peer in, as if through a window at a zoo, and sketch clownish caricatures of our lives. I use my experience only because I know it, though there are many whose experiences outside mainstream politics and power deserve to be captured in minutiae instead of airbrushed by pointless slogans.

But I get it, the residual hurt and anger. I know the fissures outsiderism can leave on the soul, particularly when you’ve wanted to belong somewhere but end up between the start and the finish. Even now, I find myself wondering if this might have been more powerfully argued, more eloquently put, if I’d known more people who’d read the right books when I was younger.


Sydney teacher says Muslim pupils as young as 10 wore ISIS shirts to school, waved terrorist flags and circled around her reciting the Koran

A primary school teacher in Sydney's west has spoken of how radicalised Muslim boys wore ISIS shirts to class and circled around her menacingly reciting the Koran.

The woman, known by the pseudonym of Mrs A, told former federal Labor leader Mark Latham about the horror of being intimidated by students aged between 10 and 13.

'I had students coming into class flying flags from overseas, be it the Syrian flag and possibly the ISIS flag. It looked to me like the ISIS flag,' she told the Mark Latham Outsiders program.

'There was one occasion where a couple of boys had come to school wearing T-shirts that appeared to have the ISIS flag wording.'

Former federal Labor leader Mark Latham interviewed the teacher about school radicalisation

On another occasion, a group of students circled her against a wall and began reciting the Koran, she claimed.

'That was quite scary and it wasn’t only scary for me but it was also quite intimidating for the other students,' she said.

'The other students were quite frightened, non-Islamic and Islamic students.’

The incidents, involving students in Years 5 and 6, occurred in 2014 as ISIS gained territory in Iraq and Syria.

The teacher, who has taught in the same area for the past decade, also endured students making threats to her with throat slitting gestures.

'Sometimes they would even make comments, "I can do this to you",' she said, demonstrating the intimidating finger movement.

She added that some students would 'constantly make threats to behead' her in class.

A spokesman for the Department of Education confirmed to Daily Mail Australia on Thursday the incidents she described had taken place.

The teacher said the students' behaviour worsened after they had watched the ABC's children's current affairs program Behind The News.

'We would watch some programs at school, one of them being the ABC Behind The News program, which tended to have a bit of a sympathetic voice towards ISIS,' she said.

'If there was a segment about ISIS, or something to do with Islam, their behaviour seemed to have heightened. So I actually stopped watching it altogether.'

However, an ABC spokesman denounced the claim about Behind The News. 'Any such claim would be nonsensical and offensive,' he told Daily Mail Australia.


Wood heating contributes to worsening air quality in Melbourne

People are forced to heat their homes in a way they know causes air pollution but are forced to by the high cost of Federal & State climate policies

On Friday morning, air quality tracker AirVisualEarth showed that Melbourne's PM2.5 levels (smoke particles) were higher than those in Shanghai, China.

The EPA issued the warning, saying there would be poor air quality in  with a band of haze over parts of Geelong, Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley.

People at risk include those over 65, children 14 years and younger, pregnant women and those with existing heart or lung conditions. People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan, the EPA said. It warned those at risk to reduce prolonged or heavy physical activity and, where possible, limit the time spent outdoors.

EPA group manager of applied sciences Dr Anthony Boxshall said the plummet in air quality was a result of combination of factors including current weather conditions and an increase in people sparking up wood fire heaters due to the chilly weather.

Stable weather conditions, namely a lack of wind, has resulted in a build-up of PM2.5 in the atmosphere, Dr Boxshall said.

"Our environmental conditions are a combination of everything the environment throws at us and what we throw at the environment," he said.

"Any city produces pollution from cars, factories, homes, trucks and open fires... but we are not seeing any unusual increase in pollution it's the weather system, including the stillness of climate conditions, which are causing the changes in air quality."

In Victoria in November nine people died and thousands were hospitalised due to the world's worst recorded thunderstorm asthma event.

However, Dr Boxshall said this weekend's conditions were completely different to thunderstorm asthma.

"Thunderstorm asthma was pollen which of course isn't a pollutant it's a naturally occurring event this is way less dramatic than that," he said. "That event was an unprecedented and unusual event."

"But we still urge asthmatics to be vigilant and and follow their asthma management plan."

Dr Boxshall added health authorities and hospitals had so far not recorded an increase in people presenting with respiratory problems.  

However, smoke from household wood heaters, motor vehicles and other urban sources have worsened conditions.

PM2.5 particles are tiny fragments, which are up to 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

The EPA has advised anyone with a heart or lung condition to take their medication as prescribed by their doctor.


Controversial bid to have gender-neutral bathrooms added to all Australian Federal Government buildings

Government branches will be introducing gender-neutral bathrooms following a push for equality from the Public Service Commission.

The liberal notion to include gender-neutral bathrooms is making a push in the nation's capital in Canberra, but some conservative MP's want to flush the idea, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Conservative MP's have labelled the move as potentially 'uncomfortable' for workers but it hasn't stopped The Department of Environment and Energy implementing the move in Canberra.

The bathrooms have been slammed by some MP's claiming the extra money needed to install the 'inclusive' bathrooms could go to better use.

'This is just the latest example of the public service going into political correctness overdrive at taxpayers' expense,' Conservative Liberal senator Eric Abetz told the publication.

'Most Australians would expect the Treasury of all departments to focus on bringing down the debt, not finding creative ways of increasing expenditure within its own department.

In a further move to show the commitment to the controversial move the Treasury building will have the inclusive bathrooms installed.

The introduction of gender-neutral bathrooms won't be forced onto government departments, however they will be encouraged.

'Toilets that are specifically reserved as gender-neutral are not part of the scope of work for the Treasury building refit that is currently underway,' a spokesperson for the Australian Public Service Commission told the publication.


Senior cop says QPS 'failing Queensland'

A SENIOR officer has called for a sweeping inquiry into the Queensland Police Service, saying gross management failures have left criminals laughing and police too scared to do their jobs.

Senior Sergeant Phil Notaro has apologised to Queenslanders, saying the police service is failing them but managers, not officers on the beat, are to blame.

He says morale in the service is lower now than during the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and it’s time the government opened a broad-ranging inquiry to stop the rot coming from the top down.

"I think we need an inquiry into mismanagement by the QPS hierarchy. The leaders of the organisation have to be held accountable, because we are failing the people of Queensland," Snr Sgt Notaro writes in the Queensland Police Union journal.

He said a restructure of the service had been a dismal failure and had not achieved any of its objectives.

"What were once police districts with a District officer have now become merely patrol groups that are totally leaderless. The bosses have lost contact with the frontline," he wrote.

He says the restructure’s only success was to save the government money, after more than 100 experienced officers took redundancy packages. Snr Sgt Notaro also savaged Queensland’s pursuit policy, saying it’s given criminals "a green light to do what they please when they please without fear of retribution".

Asked about the stinging criticism, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the restructure referred to by Snr Sgt Notaro happened under the former state government.

"I think if he does have those concerns, he should refer them to the CCC (Crime and Corruption Commission Queensland)," the premier told the Nine Network.

"I’ve been right across this state speaking to police officers and honestly, they have had a lot of opportunities to speak to me about that if that was their concern."

Snr Sgt Notaro’s comments echo those of the Queensland Police Union, which has railed against the no-pursuits policy, claiming it has made Queensland roads more dangerous.

"The current no-pursuits policy in Queensland has been a complete disaster. Police are no longer allowed to pursue offenders which means criminals have the green light to run from police," acting union president Shayne Maxwell said in January.

Snr Sgt Notaro also attacked the police service’s discipline system, saying it can take up to four years to resolve cases against officers.

Police don’t have enough vehicles, and a crackdown on access to information, led by Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, was seeing police charged with offences such as computer hacking, he said.  "We are now told we should not be curious. Every check we do may be scrutinised," he said.

Snr Sgt Notaro said police were frustrated and too scared to do their job. "All I can say to the people of Queensland is ‘sorry’. We at the coal face are doing all we can. We at the union are doing all we can. But someone needs to be held accountable," he wrote.

"I don’t see there is any choice (but to hold another inquiry). The QPS has been mismanaged and it’s falling down around us."


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

14 May, 2017

Move to decriminalise abortion in New South Wales voted down

Various legal decisions, such as the one in the Heatherbrae case have meant that abortion is effectively legal in NSW -- so this move was largely symbolic

A proposal to decriminalise abortion has been voted down in the New South Wales parliament.

Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi’s abortion law reform bill was defeated 25 to 14 in the state parliament’s upper house on Thursday. Public members in the gallery shouted "shame" as the result of the conscience vote was announced in the state’s legislative council.

The defeat means that abortion will remain an offence in the NSW Crimes Act, and unlawfully procuring abortion will continue to be punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment under the act.

Unlawfully supplying a drug or instrument for an abortion will also continue to be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

Abortions in NSW are currently made legal by an interpretation of the Crimes Act by the NSW district court in 1971. That interpretation, known as the Levine ruling, allows doctors to approve an abortion if a woman’s physical or mental health is in danger, and taking into account social, economic or other medical factors.

Proponents of reform said the current situation created considerable uncertainty for doctors and women, stigmatised abortion, and was archaic.

But the Catholic church mobilised in opposition to Faruqi’s bill, led by Sydney archbishop, Anthony Fisher. "Archbishop Fisher has asked all Catholics in Sydney and others of goodwill to defend life by giving a voice to unborn and signing a petition to the NSW members of parliament," a statement on the archdiocese’s website said last month.

The Greens’ bill had the support of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Marie Stopes, Family Planning NSW and many other groups.

The ACT has decriminalised abortion completely and Tasmania and Victoria have also successfully pursued abortion law reform.

But similar attempts in Queensland ran into difficulty and were delayed earlier this year, following opposition from the state’s Liberal National party.


Customer given 'racist' receipt in Australian restaurant

Waiters sometimes put notes on an order to help identify the customer when it comes time to bring the food out.  Such notes should be erased before the docket is printed but slipups do  occur

An African Australian man received a personal apology from chef Neil Perry this morning after finding a derogatory term on his receipt from a Melbourne burger restaurant.

Nicholas Muchinguri posted a photo of the Burger Project receipt, which labelled the order "#16: N----s", to social media, slamming it as "totally disgusting in this day and age".

The parent company Rockpool Dining Group issued an apology on its Facebook page last night, confirming the employee had been terminated and claiming the company had apologised.

"Rockpool Dining Group is a caring and inclusive company. We have a clear policy of respect and care for our customers, staff and community… This is why the behaviour of one employee is so disappointing," the statement said.

"As soon as we became aware of the matter this afternoon, when we were contacted on behalf the customer, we acted: we reached out and apologised and the employee’s position was terminated.

"The employee’s behaviour was in breach of our code of conduct and such behaviour won’t be tolerated. We apologise profusely for the upset and hurt this has caused," the company said.


Anti-Islam candidate claims discrimination

The founder of a controversial anti-Islam party wants the operators and venue manager of a Queensland pub to undergo "anti-discrimination training" after barring her from the site, tribunal documents reveal.

Love Australia Or Leave Party founder Kim Vuga, a grandmother who rose to prominence after starring on SBS program Go Back To Where You Came From, made headlines when she and her members were blocked from meeting at the Beach House Hotel in Hervey Bay in April 2016.

The stoush has now made its way to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, with Ms Vuga claiming she was discriminated against because of her political beliefs and seeking orders including a public apology in writing, as well as "anti-discrimination training" for the pub's operators and venue manager.


Free speech the loser in Australia's defamation bonanza

Australia's punishing defamation laws have made Sydney the libel capital of the world, and people posting on Facebook and in blogs are the latest target for expensive legal action and threats.

But the number of matters reaching court are a small proportion of total writs served, with most cases settled in advance to avoid the cost of a trial.

Sydney's role as "defamation capital" is "a matter of public record," said NSW Judge Judith Gibson, who compiles the details of all defamation cases in Australia for legal publication LexisNexis.

The Australian defamation law was passed in 2005, and to the end of last year, there were 72 trials in NSW compared to 21 in Queensland and 19 in Victoria, she wrote in Defamation Case Law Analysis and Statistics.

London was traditionally considered the libel capital of the world, with its strict defamation laws, but the number of actions there has fallen quickly in recent years. Legislation introduced in 2013 has made it more difficult to sue and has limited damages.

"A more plausible candidate for the international title might be Sydney," wrote British libel expert Hugh Tomlinson.

"Although the population of NSW is just over seven million it appears to have similar numbers of libel cases to the whole of England and Wales with nearly eight times the population."

Judge Gibson wrote that a growing problem was that "claims based on publications on the internet, emails and on social media, are now far more common than claims against traditional media defendants".

That means ordinary people increasingly find themselves defending defamation actions in court, often representing themselves in a complex and expensive area of law. In NSW, there is no limit on how much money the court can order in costs to the winner of a defamation complaint.

Defending a court action for defamation cost between about $100,000 and $1.1 million, which far exceeds the legislated maximum damages of $381,000, the figures show.

Damages can also be substantial. A WA court last year awarded the largest ever Australian payout in a defamation case brought by three people against a blogger (described as a troll), Terence McLernon, of $700,000.

Australia's Uniform Defamation Act was last amended in 2005, and does not differentiate between publishing by a media company or an individual, and makes no mention of internet, print or social media publication.

In fact, under the law it is unclear who the publisher is of a post on social media.

The law says there is a time limit of 12 months for someone to take legal action for defamation, but the High Court has ruled that each new download from the internet can be considered a fresh publication. This it means there is effectively no time limit on suing over something published online.

Defamation lawyer Matt Collins, QC, said Australia's laws were now "a Frankenstein's monster" of rules and exclusions, and prevented good journalism from investigative reporters.

"There are important, high-profile stories that don't get told because of the chilling effect of defamation law, and the high cost of actions".

Dr Collins said the law needed urgent change

Fairfax Media lawyer Richard Coleman said only about 10 to 15 per cent of defamation claims made against the media organisation, publisher of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, ever made it to court.

Many are settled for undisclosed sums because taking cases to court is so expensive.

Richard Ackland of the Gazette of Law and Journalism, described it as "a racket".

"You start sending nasty letters and pleadings to newspaper lawyers and they respond 'how much is this going to cost'?"

However, the issue of defamation law is not on the political agenda, and even Australian politicians who have cited free speech when arguing for amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act have used the defamation law to sue or threaten people who criticise them.


Education’s biggest trend: Why home taught kids are doing better

IT’S arguably the biggest trend in education and even teachers are shocked.

Home educated kids are outperforming their mainstream counterparts in just about every area, according to NAPLAN results and other studies. And more and more Aussie parents are taking their kids out of school.

No one is more surprised than Dr Rebecca English, from the Queensland University of Technology.

"I’m a teacher of two decades standing and I assumed that teachers knew better than parents how to teach."

The shock for Dr English was to learn that lots of parents are doing better than teachers at educating children. This was "because of their ability to be able to individuate, and to draw on an incredible knowledge of what all parents know about their children’s likes".

Home educator and casual high-school teacher Myfanwy Dibben says one of the reasons parents are taking their kids out of school is that teachers are not respected by parents or their students, which is leading to chaotic classrooms where teachers are often making children copy from the board because nothing else is possible.

Myf has been educating her 10-year-old daughter, Pi, for five years because of "the disengagement and disruptive environment of schools".

Statistics are hard to come by, largely because most home educators are technically doing it illegally rather than face the invasive task of registering. Although only 14,510 students were registered as home educated in 2015, estimates of the actual number range from 25,000 to 55,000.

"This means three or four per cent of the population have been home schooled, Stuart Chapman, CEO of Christian based Homeschool WA, says.

"That’s almost mainstream. It is the fastest growing educational demographic in the country."

But not everyone agrees. "It is still a tiny number of kids who are home schooled," CEO of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Lisa Rogers said.

"I don’t have a problem with home schooling but it is a tough job. It’s highly unlikely that kids have parents who are able to teach the specialist content across all the curriculum domains," she said.

"It’s a trade-off. It’s difficult for parents to deliver a quality education in terms of curriculum outcomes, but school isn’t just about curriculum content."

And of course, not all parents can afford, nor have the desire to stay home and teach their kids.


There are three types of home educators: religious, libertarian and accidental teachers, whose children might have been bullied, have special needs or don’t fit for another reason.

Anita Webster* began teaching her two boys, Josh*, 12, and Lewis*, 10, at home this year. Josh, who is autistic, was bullied by his teacher. Josh’s desk was his special place but his teacher dumped everything from papers to a fish tank on it and eventually removed it so Josh was forced to sit on the floor by himself.

Anita says, "There was no safe space for Josh at his school, symbolically and in reality."

"They’re focused on outcomes so the real needs of the students get lost."

The experience has led Anita, who is an occupational therapist (OT), to "rethink OT".

"I have realised that most of what we do as professional OTs is try to get children to go to school. That’s ridiculous. We should be asking what the best schooling option is for each child."

Triana Parry was motivated to home educate a decade ago when her son’s local Steiner school in the Southern Highlands of NSW closed down but she had always liked the idea of home education.

Her son Kiahl, 17, has since entered the workforce and her two daughters, Elinor, 14, and Freya, 10, both elite ballerinas, "have totally thrived in a home school environment".

The sisters have both trained with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia, a rare honour for a non-Russian.

Elinor is the youngest in her Bolshoi Academy class, by years, and plans to complete advanced diplomas in dance. Freya accompanied her sister and mother to Russia and, after impulsively auditioning, was accepted and spent a fortnight training with the Bolshoi dancers.

Triana, a music teacher, is able to integrate her daughters’ love of dancing into their curriculum. "Being able to follow your children’s passions is really important," she said.

This flexibility is the most important aspect of home education for Elinor and Freya. "If Freya isn’t able to move she can’t sit and focus," Triana said. This is an issue many teachers would either not notice or be unable to address.

"Teachers are passionate about what they do but their students are not their children," Triana explained. "Parents have a much deeper understanding of their needs."


A lack of socialisation is often the main criticism of home educators, but these parents disagree.

"The impression of socialisation being a problem for home educators came about because of Christian minority groups keeping to themselves. In reality it has never been a problem," says Myf.

"The issue is fitting it all in," Triana says. Her children made lasting friendships through after-school activities, home-education gatherings and holiday workshops. "I just make sure I always get phone numbers."

Myf’s home education network meets for three hours a week to, for instance, present science projects or refine circus skills.


Stuart Chapman, a former pastor, and his wife home educated their five children for 18 years. Three went to university to pursue professions. Two became tradies.

The Chapmans began home educating as there was no Christian school in the country WA town where they lived. "Most people’s reasoning for home schooling is multifaceted," Stuart said.

"We didn’t want to have children to give them away for the best part of the day," he said.

Stuart has observed numerous changes since he began home educating. "There is a stereotype. It used to be the Christian fundamentalist. Now it’s much more likely to be the child who is bullied or withdrawn," he said.

Stuart maintains bullying is the single biggest reason for home educating. "But the big market nowadays is what I call crisis enrolment. This includes student refusals and special needs, particularly autism."

"Schools do achieve their Number one aim, which is to enable parents to have two jobs and not look after their children," he said.

Myf agrees.

" It’s never been easier to home educate your child," she said.

"Quite frankly the education ministers should be coming to home educators to find out what to do. We’re the innovators."


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

12 May, 2017

A really poisonous example of political correctness

An Egyptian con-artist achieved enormous acceptance because everyone WANTED to believe in a female Egyptian of probably Muslim origin. "Affirmative action" towards her meant believing everything she said and checking nothing

It's the redemption story that everyone wanted to believe: a teenager forced into an arranged marriage to her first cousin, widowed at 29 with two young sons, having endured years in a violent marriage.

She emigrates from Egypt, gaining not one but two PhDs, rising to become chief executive of government funded health services that care for new migrants and earns a long list of community honours – including as a finalist for an honour from her adopted country on its national day.

Dr Eman Sharobeem migrated to Australia more than 30 years ago. Since then she has earned two PhDs and campaigned against issues such as forced marriage and family violence.

But with an announcement this week that ICAC will hold public hearings into former Australian of the Year finalist Eman Sharobeem, following an investigation by Fairfax Media that revealed an asset freeze by the powerful NSW Crime Commission, the charade has come crashing down – allegations of misuse of credit cards, false invoices, spending on personal items, using public money to renovate a property she owned.

On top of the alleged fraud ICAC is investigating is the outright deceit, also revealed by Fairfax Media, that Sharobeem paraded fake academic and professional qualifications.

Now a string of high-profile organisations and governments have egg on their faces – state and federal, Liberal and Labor, that appointed her to trophy boards; organisations such as SBS that gave her a high-profile job; and the Australian of the Year Foundation that not only waved her through to the final round of its awards but appointed her to their advisory council.

What's more, they all called her "Dr Sharobeem" – despite there being no proof of the degrees and evidence revealed by Fairfax Media that she was not a psychologist.

The high point of the charade came in late 2014, when then NSW Premier, Mike Baird, stood beside an Australian of the Year finalist, handing her a commendation from her adopted country, smiling for the cameras.

It begs the question – who did due diligence on Eman Sharobeem? Who checked anything about her?

As her star rose around 2012-14 it doesn't appear to have been the media who focused on the story of her forced marriage as a child and escape from a violent marriage and her claims of academic achievement in Australia.

Fairfax Media understands workers at the Non-English Speaking Housing organisation (also run by Sharobeem) raised concerns about financial mismanagement around 2015. And it was the auditor of the Immigrant Women's Health Service accounts Nathan Boyd who rang alarm bells when he qualified his opinion on the organisation's 2015 accounts, saying the CEO owed at least $100,000 in wrongly claimed reimbursements, as revealed by Fairfax Media.

So how did Sharobeem seemingly hoodwink everyone?

Sharobeem ran the IWHS based in Fairfield for 11 years until 2015. Government funding was cut at the end of that year with a governance investigation acknowledged by the health department as the centre was about to close in June 2016.

It was around this time broadcaster SBS hired Sharobeem to be its community engagement manager. It's understood SBS went through a regular recruitment process to hire her. A press release hailing her appointment in April 2016 used the honorific Dr in the opening sentence. Almost every achievement SBS heralded is now under question: "Eman is a Member of the Settlement Services Advisory Council, Justice Multicultural Advisory Council, State Library CALD Advisory Board and an Advisory Board Member of Multicultural NSW. In 2014, Eman was honoured as an Australia Day Ambassador and became a finalist for The Australian of The Year Award. In 2013, she was a finalist in the Premier's Woman of the Year Award and was selected as one of 100 Most Influential Women in 2015 by The Australian Financial Review."

Perhaps the most revealing tale surrounding background checks can be gleaned from Social Services Minister Christian Porter appointing her to the Settlement Services Advisory Council. When Fairfax Media inquired last month about the circumstances surrounding her appointment, a department spokeswoman said the department performed "due diligence", including on a "resume from Dr Eman Sharobeem identifying her educational background, including the attainment of a PhD in psychology, family and community and a PhD in management in organisational leadership".

But having confirmed details from the CV she submitted claiming to have two PhDs, the spokeswoman suddenly claimed it would be a breach of privacy to disclose further information from the same CV when asked which institutions she claimed to have attended.

Fairfax Media was able to challenge her claim to be a psychologist in one phone call – to the Australian Health Professional Regulatory Agency. A search of their database revealed nobody named Eman Sharobeem was currently registered or had been removed as a psychologist. It's illegal to practise as a psychologist if unqualified.

Our politicians also wanted to believe. In 2014, the Upper House of the NSW Parliament moved a motion of congratulations to Sharobeem, listing in full glory what it understood to be her achievements. It makes for tough reading.

She is lauded for her professional roles and the subsequent awards she achieved.

The parliamentary motion mentions "Dr" Sharobeem's "greatest contributions in Australia" being her involvement in the Immigrant Women's Health Service.

Our elected officials praised her for working with volunteer and part time workers at the health service – the same one she is now alleged to have defrauded, claiming bogus expenses and spending government money on a house she owned.

Parliament members moved to wish "Dr Eman Sharobeem all the very best in her future endeavours".

In truth, ICAC wants to know if she robbed us blind.

The story that we all wanted to be true was, in fact, something else: it was too good to be true.

SOURCE.  Latest report on the ICAC enquiry here

Hundreds of students unite in protest after a Sydney school bans hot chips from the canteen

This is not only authoritaran, it is also stupid and outdated. The potato is highly nutritious and fat is now officially recommended as good for you

The decision to remove a staple ingredient from a Sydney school menu has been met with strong resistance from its enraged pupils.  

De La Salle College has decided to remove hot chips from its kitchen as the college looks to adhere to the government's new plans for a healthier lunch menu.

The students of the Revesby institute have taken matters into their own hands and started an online petition in an attempt to reinstate the popular potato snack.

The petition pleads for the public's support and suggests that hot chips can make a contribution to their academic success.

'To satisfy everyone's desire for some fried potato, we believe this is a necessity for successful academic achievements to get above the state cohort,' the petition reads.

Since the page was created two months ago, it has amassed an impressive 360 signatures, just 140 short of their target of 500.

De La Salle College principal Timothy Logue said that while he was impressed with the students' initiative to set up an online petition, the school canteen would not be returning hot chips to the menu.

'We have discussed with the students the importance of nutrition and physical activity, and how research shows that it underpins effective student learning and achievement,' Mr Logue told The Daily Telegraph.

The new strategy, enforced by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, will replace the failed 'traffic light' system and will ensure that 75% of all school menus are made up of fruit, vegetables and fresh food options, leaving little room for the oil fried fritters.

'The new NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy strikes the right balance between nutrition and freedom of choice,' Mr Logue said.  'Our canteen menu offers students very healthy options like fresh fruit salad bowls, salad wraps and sushi.'

One signature from Kalli Ryder in Adelaide went with a pragmatic approach and suggested instead of removing them altogether, to rethink how they were served.

'Rather than ban chips, you could have looked at 'healthier' ways of preparing them, such as baking, shallow frying, making them from potatoes instead of a packet.

'You could have consulted with the students on a new menu, instead, you have chosen to food police your students. Shame on you.' she added.


Happy happy Africa -- in Melbourne again

A family has told of their horror waking up to find a gang of six Sudanese intruders wielding wooden stakes inside their bedroom as their young daughter slept nearby.

The teen bandits burst into the Melbourne home in Melton on Monday night demanding phones, wallets, and keys to the young father's new Holden.

The thugs then fled the scene in the car and gave chase from police before crashing into a fence 30km away and fleeing on foot, reports Yahoo Seven.

'They kept banging the sticks on the bed too so they were just making a lot of noise and it was just really scary... It was just like a nightmare,' said the mother, who was not named.

One armed teen approached their five-year-old daughter's bedroom, before another said: 'Leave her alone, she's only a kid'.

'It kind of makes you feel unsafe in your own backyard when people who are doing wrong are getting a slap on their wrist and see you later,' said the young father.

Police arrested three teenagers at the scene of the crash, but the other three escaped.

A 14-year-old and a 15-year-old from were arrested face a raft of charges including assault with a weapon. They were both on bail at the time. An 18 year old was released pending charges.


Former PM John Howard says Australia's greatest immediate policy challenge was barely mentioned in the federal budget - the looming energy crisis

FORMER PM John Howard says Australia's greatest immediate policy challenge was barely mentioned in the federal budget - the looming energy crisis.

Speaking at a post-budget business breakfast with former New Zealand PM John Key, Mr Howard described the risk of supply and price rises as scandalous given Australia natural endowments of energy sources.

The nation had 38 per cent of the world's easily recoverable uranium reserves, hundreds of years of coal reserves, was a major natural gas producer and could also produce plenty of solar and wind power, he said.

"That we should be facing a potential energy crisis in the eastern states is a serious condemnation of the political process," he said.

"That gas exploration has been hampered, narrowed, redirected and prohibited by some state governments is a policy scandal of the first order."

He also claimed state governments had overzealously embraced renewable energy targets, leading to a massive increase in costs.

"When my government was defeated in 2007, the renewable energy target was two per cent and it should never have been increased?" he said.

Some major energy users have shut some operations as a result, such as Rio Tinto, while others are threatening to do so, such as Glencore coal boss Peter Freyberg in comments this week.

Mr Howard said Australia was extremely fortunate economically and was approaching a world record of consecutive quarters of growth, but was getting to the "brake linings" and falling behind competitors.

A Senate that was more diverse than in his time made the crucial economic reform needed more difficult to pass, he said.


Police officer ‘disciplined’ for sharing address of domestic violence victim

A QUEENSLAND cop who used the official police database to share a Gold Coast mum’s home address with her former husband who was bound by a restraining order – and then joked about it – has avoided the sack.

Almost nine months after The Courier-Mail revealed the shocking allegations, an internal affairs police investigation has determined Brisbane Senior Constable Neil Punchard should receive “disciplinary sanctions”, but it is understood he was not suspended.

The terrified woman, who has been forced to move house, said she was disgusted by the decision and has now appealed to the ­Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee to review the case. She has also sought an ­urgent meeting with State MP Shannon Fentiman, the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence.

The Ethical Standards Command investigation ruled that the allegations against Sen-Constable Punchard were substantiated and imposed “disciplinary sanctions”, but in a statement refused to tell The Courier-Mail what those sanctions were.

After learning the woman’s address, Sen-Constable Punchard joked with his mate via text message about how she would “flip out” when she discovered she had been tracked down.

It comes just a week after another police officer, caught using the QPRIME database to look up netball star Laura Geitz out of curiosity, pleaded guilty to computer hacking charges and was fined $4000.

The Gold Coast mother-of-three whose file was ­accessed by Sen-Constable Punchard said it beggared belief that the two officers received such vastly different punishments.

“How is it that an officer can look up a netball player and get criminally charged and another who has completely betrayed my trust is not subjected to further investigation?” she said.

“He should be facing criminal charges.  “I feel like the safety of myself and my family is now at risk.”

Ms Fentiman said no one deserved to have their privacy and safety threatened.  “Any breach of trust by someone tasked with protecting domestic violence victims is completely unacceptable,” she said.


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

11 May, 2017

Budget 2017 entrenches big government

Simon Cowan

In this budget the government has surrendered to the special interest groups and revenue-istas.
Having maintained for years that the problem was excessive spending, the government has not only abandoned attempts to find efficiencies in wasteful expenditures but instead chosen to substantially increase spending in health, education and welfare.

To pay for this extravagance, taxes will increase much faster than inflation, population growth or the economy. To say this is disappointing is an understatement. The evidence that our budget problems have largely been caused by increases in recurrent expenditure is overwhelming. That much of this expenditure delivers little or no value for money for taxpayers is indisputable. To be told the fair way to deal with this is to increase taxes on business and income is intolerable. And incorrect.

This is a budget that entrenches big government. On that score alone it is a big failure.

Media release from CIS

Conservatives fume over tax-and-spend budget dubbed ‘Labor-lite’

CONSERVATIVES have reacted with fury to Malcolm Turnbull’s Federal Budget, accusing him of turning his back on Coalition principles.

His tax-and-spend agenda has been dubbed “Labor-lite” by some commentators, with its $6 billion bank levy and Gonski 2.0 funding package coming in for particular criticism from the right-wing side of politics. It is also being widely seen as Mr Turnbull’s attempt to press the political reset button, killing off the ghosts of the Abbott-Hockey disaster budget of 2014.

Tony Abbott’s former chief-of-staff turned Sky News pundit Peta Credlin blasted the budget as not credible.

“It beggars belief when last year’s Budget hit our base with superannuation. It beggars belief that this year’s Budget would again hit the aspirational Coalition base on schools funding. It is a fight we don’t need. We are behind in the polls, when are we going to stop hitting our own?

“I don’t think it is credible for the Coalition side of politics to deliver a tax-and-spend Budget. This is a Labor tax-and-spend Budget, this is not who we are as a Coalition, this is not who we are as Liberals”

During an interview with 2GB radio host Alan Jones this morning, Mr Turnbull was confronted by Australia’s ballooning debt.

Jones pointed out Australia’s debt ceiling had been lifted to $600 billion and total debt was now rising by about $5.3 million per hour.

“People are saying to me ‘I never thought I would see the day when a Coalition government would increase the debt ceiling to $600 billion’,” Jones said.

“Out there they are worried sick ... how can you say we are living ... within our means? It’s worrying the tripe out of people.”

But Mr Turnbull said the government was doing everything it could to bring the deficit down and the government was increasing taxes on banks and the Medicare Levy, but had not been able to get savings through the Senate.

“Labor backed in a lot of spending which we have sought to pare back — we have had a lot of success actually but not enough,” Mr Turnbull said.

“You cannot turn the federal government around on a dime.”

Jones also criticised the government’s backing of Gonski school funding which will see it tip $18.6 billion into the sector, saying the PM didn’t discuss the move with the party and it was “dudding Catholic schools”.

He also pointed out that Mr Turnbull even confronted Opposition Leader Bill Shorten over the issue of increased education spending, saying it didn’t guarantee results.

“You said that last year ... now Gonski has become an article of faith, some kind of religious relic,” Jones said. “What are you doing?”

Mr Turnbull tried to appeal to Jones’ experience as a former teacher saying “You know as well as I do, you are a former teacher, an old chalkie ... you know that the charisma of the teacher is the most important element”.

But Jones was having none of it, saying: “don’t soften me up, don’t try and soften me up”.

Former Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, who quit the party in protest in February to form the Australian Conservatives, said the Coalition had delivered “economy sucking vampire measures” that would leave every Australian family worse off.

“This is a great Budget for Australian Conservatives because it proves definitively, that the Coalition is now just another faction of the Labor Party,” he told Sky News.

“[They are] tackling businesses that make a profit, simply because they make a profit. There is no principle attached to it.”

He said the only Budget measure he backed was drug testing for dole recipients.

Both the Coalition and Labor have been accused in recent weeks of trying to appeal to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation voters in Queensland, but the firebrand Senator was not buying last night’s Budget either.

“(I’m) not happy, not happy at all. It’s all about the spending, and I believe the government needs to rein in the spending,” Senator Hanson told Sky.

“We are paying top dollar for all of this.”

Bipartisan support for the government’s commitment to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme was also a source of suspicion.

“I know of someone who got on a disability pension for chronic fatigue [and] has not been investigated for four years. We have to have these people reinvestigated,” she said.

“We have to get tough on this. People are ripping us off left, right and centre and they must prove they are still eligible because taxpayers have had a gutful.”

Veteran Channel Nine commentator Laurie Oakes said the “Labor-lite” Budget was a clever political move that “stole the thunder” of Opposition leader Bill Shorten by neutralising Labor on heartland issues such as Medicare, education and the banks.

“I think it could have been brought down by a Labor treasurer and if it was, the Coalition would criticise it as a tax-and-spend Budget,” he said.


The Australian Government Will Drug Test Welfare Recipients

The 2017-18 budget will save the government $632 million in welfare payments, in part thanks to tough new rules that will target and penalise Centrelink recipients that are affected by drugs and alcohol.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison said in his budget speech that the government still wanted to support jobseekers and welfare recipients, but that it would have to be a "two way street" for those already struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. A drug test trial will be run on 5000 current welfare recipients, and any of those recipients that test positive for a list of substances will be have their regular payments locked on to a cashless card that can only be used for "essential living expenses."

Welfare recipients that are affected by drugs will also be "subjected to further tests and possible referral for treatment" according to the government, although it also says that those with "genuine issues" will not be "unfairly penalised". Landlords in affordable housing will also be able to deduct rental payments directly from tenants' welfare payments.

This comes in addition to the government's new "three strikes" rule for welfare recipients — a demerit point style scheme where missing one employment appointment without a "reasonable excuse" will have their payments suspended until they re-engage, and repeat infringements see payments suspended completely for as long as four weeks.

Social security and welfare is projected to cost $164 billion in the 2017-18 federal budget, rising to $178b in 2018-19, $184b in 2019-20 and $191b in 2020-21. According to the government, this increase in expenses is due to the impact of a fully funded National Disability Insurance Scheme.

    The Government is also strengthening participation requirements for welfare recipients to better drive participation outcomes. These will be coupled with a new targeted Job Seeker Compliance Framework that will apply stronger financial penalties to persistently non-compliant job seekers, whilst ensuring genuinely disadvantaged and vulnerable job seekers are supported. This includes refocusing Work for the Dole activities towards disadvantaged job seekers, and ensuring job-ready job seekers engage in more cost effective Work for the Dole activities. The changes will encourage and support those who have the capacity to work to do so, while ensuring disadvantaged job seekers have the opportunity to develop the characteristics employers look for, such as strong communication skills, the ability to work effectively with others, and reliability.


This Budget tells us about Malcolm Turnbull is really about

THE Budget asks us to believe that a Government roughly $600 billion in the hole is actually heading for a surplus in 2021 — which would be the first in 14 years.

But it also asks much more from voters, and that is its key.

Forget agile and innovation. The Turnbull government is now about security and health, having learned from the electoral rebuke of last year.

And it’s about doing big things of concrete and steel which create jobs and economic growth and become projects of national pride.

It is saluting the working not-so-rich over the really rich and the bone idle. The proposal to drug test welfare beneficiaries is more about standing up for hard workers who pay their own way than saving money.

That’s the core of the Budget. It is broadly a reaction to the national political mood. It portrays a government looking after basics and doing things which require imagination and action and ensuring hard workers are rewarded.

The Budget core also requires the Liberal Party to reshape some of its principles.

From one perspective it is bank bashing and hunting down transnationals for unpaid taxes, big kicks against big business.

But it is also about making an iron clad commitment to Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme — and daring Labor to oppose the measures.

The Liberal thumping of last election — and its near defeat — was because voters doubted the Government’s qualifications on health, and had little idea what Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was on about.

This Budget tells them clearly what Turnbull is about in 2017.

And there was sugar coating of the near future from Treasurer Scott Morrison’s assurances that happy economic times, complete with wage rises above the inflation rate, are at hand.

The Budget will have its critics, including some Liberals who remain wedded to some of the 21 “zombie measures” from 2014 and 2015 finally dispatched in this Budget.

And Labor will question the accounting which approach which effectively says borrowing for infrastructure isn’t really debt.

But there will be that killer Mr Morrison dare to the Opposition: Hands up if you don’t want to pay to care for the disabled.


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

10 May, 2017

Australians want company tax spent on environment, survey finds

A most amusing "survey" below.  It calls to mind the way "elections" in totalitarian countries usually find 99% support for the dictator. 

Some obviously leading questions were asked.  To what ordinary voter would it occur that company tax in particular should be diverted to fund environmental programs?  It is just a Greenie wet dream.

And the suggestions were put to an undefinable group of people via an automated telephone poll on behalf of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).  And they got the resounding result the ACF undoubtedly wanted. If I had designed the questions, the result would show very little support for the environment. 

Not to put to fine a point on it, the findings are garbage.  And nobody actually talked to any of the people surveyed!

Australians have given the thumbs down to Australia's environmental protection in a new survey, which shows a high level of scepticism about the Federal Government's commitment to protecting nature.

The poll has revealed more than two thirds of Australians want a share of company tax spent directly on protecting the environment and more than 76 per cent want a levy imposed on polluting companies to protect reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife.

Nearly 3,000 people were interviewed for the pre-budget sounding, conducted by market research company ReachTel for the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

Six out of 10 said protecting the environment should receive a bigger share of the federal budget, while nearly three quarters said they would support a political party with a policy for "a national plan where nature thrives".

Just 11 per cent thought that nature protection should receive less funding.

Yet spending on environmental programs is in decline and set for further cuts, with conservation groups arguing that protecting the environment is shouldering a disproportionate share of "budget repair".

The environment budget has declined by 20 per cent since the Coalition first came to office in 2013, according to analysis by the ACF, and is projected to decline by 38 per cent on 2013 levels through to 2019.

Over the same period, overall spending is projected to increase by 22 per cent.

The political leanings of those polled in its survey were broadly consistent with the findings of most voting intention surveys.

They translate to a two-party preferred result of 47 per cent Liberal, 53 per cent Labor.

The survey also showed four in 10 Australians thought the Government has "a plan to protect the reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife for current and future generations".

This was outnumbered by 45 per cent of respondents who disagreed with that statement.

ACF chief executive Kelly O'Shannassy said the poll showed the Federal Government is "completely out of touch with what Australians expect their elected representatives to do".

"The only way for the Prime Minister to restore his credibility on environment and climate change is to reverse cuts and develop a comprehensive national plan to protect nature and move to clean energy," she said.

"The polling shows that Australians support long-term measures that would provide increased funding to protect and restore Australia's reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife."

The survey results come in the wake of the independent State of the Environment report, released by the Turnbull Government in March.

It found that despite significant improvements on key benchmarks, resources for environmental management and protection were "insufficient".

The State of the Environment Report also said the nation lacks "an overarching national policy that establishes a clear vision for the protection and sustainable management of Australia's environment to the year 2050".

The office of Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has been contacted for comment.


The Federal budget

The newspapers are full of commentary on this and so is my inbox so I will just make a small comment.

It is a re-election budget in that it does not do anything really controversial.  There are no real reforms despite the many potential reforms which would benefit Australia. It is also a tax & spend socialist budget but with one important difference from what a socialist government would have given us:  It has no new "bold" initiatives.  It just sees to the financing of existing programs.  That is its only conservative feature but it is a big one. 

School’s bid to ban Mother’s Day ‘blocked’

A Melbourne primary school that scrapped its Mother’s Day stall in the name of “diversity” and ­“inclusivity” is understood to have reversed the decision after a phone call from a concerned parent — Bill Shorten.

Moonee Ponds West Primary School was facing a backlash from parents shocked to read in this week’s newsletter that the stall — where children can spend their pocket money on small, token gifts for their mother or ­another “significant loved one” — would not be going ahead.

Instead, principal Jeff Lyon ­revealed, the school would ­celebrate UN International Day of Families. “I believe celebrating International Day of Families is a more inclusive way of celebrating the richness, diversity and complexity of living and loving as a family in the modern world,” Mr Lyon wrote. “The day highlights the importance of all caregivers in families, be it parents, grandparents or siblings and the importance of parental education for the welfare of children.”

The Opposition Leader, whose daughter goes to Moonee Ponds West, rang the school late yesterday. He said the decision had been reversed.

Asked to comment on the decision by the school, which is in Mr Shorten’s electorate, he described it as a “wonderful’’ institution. “I’ve spoken to the principal this evening and I understand there will be a Mother’s Day stall,” he said.

Samantha Hanna, who went to the school as a child and sends her children Isabela, Dante and Didier there, said parents had been surprised by the move.

“I remember as a kid lining up and agonising over whether to get mum the soap on the rope or the scented candle, and now I love getting these little gifts ... from my own kids,” Ms Hanna said.

“I know that there are some single parent families at the school, and for those mums this is probably the only gift they will get from their children. I understand that some don’t have mums around but it is a good time to think about the importance of mums and dads and the role they play in our lives. I’m glad to hear it’s been reinstated.”

While some parents were dismayed about the initial decision, other politicians weighed in with concerns about the advent of political correctness in the school playground.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino distanced himself from the move. “While these are local decisions, I would have thought Mother’s Day was a great opportunity to celebrate not just mums but other carers and family members,” he said. “I know I will be spoiling my mother this ­Mother’s Day.”

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling pointed the finger at the Andrews government for forcing “political correctness” on schools. “Mother’s Day is about celebrating the maternal figures in our lives, whether it is mum, grandma, an aunt or a female mentor, and honouring their contribution as women in society,” he said. “If it’s not banning the signing of traditional Christmas carols or reading classical fairy tales, (Premier) Daniel Andrews’ attack on our cultural traditions continues.”

Mr Lyon was not available for comment last night.


Victoria's bail system to become most onerous in Australia after review, State Government says

The Victorian Government says it will become harder for people accused of serious crimes to be released on bail as part of a shake-up of the system following Melbourne's Bourke Street rampage.

Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the Government would increase the number of offences which had a presumption against bail — toughening the requirements to satisfy a court to grant bail.

Mr Pakula said offences such as aggravated home invasion and carjacking would be treated "the same as murder or terrorism" for the purposes of bail, unless there were exceptional circumstances.

"There is always a balance between community safety and presumption of innocence in bail decisions," he said.

"What this report ensures is that community safety will be given a higher priority than ever before in our state.  "[This] will mean we will have the most onerous bail conditions in the country."

Those who commit serious offences while on bail, summons or parole will not be granted bail again unless they can prove exceptional circumstances.

The changes follow a review of the bail system by Supreme Court Justice Paul Coghlan.

Mr Pakula said the Government would also limit the role of volunteer bail justices, and establish a new bail and remand court.

After-hours magistrates' courts were established after the Bourke Street rampage.

The courts consider bail applications for people charged with violent crimes when police oppose bail.

Dimitrious Gargasoulas was granted bail by an out-of-sessions bail justice just days before he allegedly drove his car along Melbourne's busy Bourke Street pedestrian mall in January, killing six and injuring more than 30 people.

Gargasoulas has been charged with six counts of murder.

Mr Pakula said night courts would transition to the new bail and remand court, which would operate between 9:00am and 10:00pm.

He said the role of bail justices would be reduced to dealing with offences by children or vulnerable adults.

Victorian police would also be given more powers to remand people out of hours.

Mr Pakula admitted the changes would lead to more pressure on the state's prison system, but said a new 1,000-bed prison at Ravenhall to be built this year would help deal with the increase in prisoner numbers.

"We do realise there will be more people held on remand as a consequence of these changes, there's no question about that," he said.

In the review, Justice Coghlan said there was a public perception that too many people were being granted bail but this was not reflected by the data.

    "A significant problem with the bail system at present is the apparent lack of public confidence in the system," he said in his report.

"The number of people received into adult prison on remand in 2015-2016 was 70 per cent higher than in 2010-2011.

"The data also shows that bail is refused more often now than five years ago."

Mr Pakula said the Government supported all 37 recommendations made by Justice Coghlan, and would move to table legislation later this month and later in the year.
Sick to death of 'weak' bail system

The Victorian Opposition branded the proposed changes "weak and cosmetic".

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said cultural change was needed so people would fear the consequences of their crimes.

"These changes simply just don't go far enough. These changes are simply cosmetic," he said.

"There are some small steps forward but they are very small.

"Victorians are sick to death of a weak bail system."

Wayne Gatt, secretary of the Police Association, the union representing officers, said the devil would be in the detail because the current laws were being misapplied and were too weak.

"One of the real needs with this legislation is for it to be strong and unambiguous," he said.

"It needs to be really clear and put the community first.

"It needs to send a strong message that the outcomes at court reflect the intent of those people drafting the legislation."


Glencore's coal chief, Peter Freyberg, says Australia has passed a tipping point in its energy crisis

Glencore has warned that Australia has drifted past a "tipping point" of industrial energy "demand destruction" and that the nation has 12 months to re-establish reliability and affordability of its base load power capacity or risk permanent and unpredictable shifts in the shape of the economy.

The commentary by the most senior Glencore executive based in Australia, global coal boss Peter Freyberg, comes as the future of the Swiss-based miner's Queensland copper mining and processing estate is being undermined by a concert of uncertainties over the availability and price of gas and electricity supplies.

While Freyberg resisted our invitation for comment on the uncertain state of Glencore's copper business, Glencore's coal man seized the opportunity to express frustration that 15 years of failed governance had reduced one of the world's biggest energy exporters to a state of domestic shortage and paradigm-shifting pricing unpredictability.

"We have to meet Australia's energy needs now, in five years, 10 years and 15 years. We can't rely on blue-sky thinking. There is an energy crisis in the world's largest exporter of coal, the second largest exporter of gas and a major exporter of uranium. We need real solutions. Unless we make decisions really quickly, and I mean in the next 12 months, that re-establish base load capacity then we have no chance of sustaining the economy in the shape that it is in now.

"In the end the market will work its way to balance," Freyberg continued. "It will stabilise – but the wrong way and for the wrong reason. The inability to secure affordable base load supply means that the problem will be fixed by demand destruction.

"We are beyond the tipping point in terms of industrial demand destruction. And when capacity is closed and plants are shut down, they don't come back.

"As an aside," Freyberg added, "nationalising gas production is not the solution.

"Making sure that the incredible resources in the ground are developed is a solution. Short-term intervention is not going to fix a problem. Until gas is drilled in NSW and Victoria we will be in deep, deep trouble."

Glencore's North Queensland copper business stretches from the legendary Mt Isa copper mines to a copper refinery and export facility at Townsville and it currently counts 3200 Australians as employees and $1.1 billion as its annual contribution to the state economy.

But each arm of the Glencore business is being challenged by high energy prices and an inability to either secure gas supply contracts or to make any sort of bankable power price forecasts.

Glencore is said to have taken the opportunity of Tuesday's prime ministerial visit to the company's Townsville copper smelter to offer a frank assessment of the state of national energy markets and the imminence of hard decisions that the current crisis is generating.

For the record, the average price of power in Queensland through the March quarter more than doubled against the same period last year. To put firm numbers around that price increase, the average spot price of electricity in Queensland through the March quarter was $173.98 a megawatt hour. The March quarter average in 2016 was $80/MWh.

The accounting of that average is telling. In January, while other state markets circled averages of $80/MWh, the Queensland average was $197.65/MWh. Through January 2016, Queensland's average price was $51.55/MWh. A wildly hot February saw Queensland's average price shoot up to $239.59/MWh, again about twice what it was the previous year.

Through January and February this year there were at least 44 separate occasions when Queensland's generators pushed prices to the market maximum of $14,000/MWh. And a series of reviews of price peaks by the market regulator revealed that many of those peaks were unexpected and the result of generators removing capacity and then re-bidding back into the system.

To be fair, the review findings were not consistent. The regulator also found that the integration of Queensland's generators with other state markets saw peak pricing migrate from NSW and South Australia into the Sunshine state.
 Perilous opportunism

Nonetheless, many major industrial customers continue to maintain that Queensland's state-owned generators have been acting with enriching but perilous opportunism in pushing prices to the regulated ceiling when demand is high.

It is understood that Glencore recently stopped importing copper anode to support cathode production at its Townsville plant because of those surging power prices. And the company is said to have baulked at investing something less than $50 million in a re-lining of its Mt Isa copper smelter because of uncertainty over the availability and price of gas.

Pushed to confirm delays of reinvestment in the Mt Isa smelter and that Townsville had ceased importing feed-stock, the asset manager of Glencore's copper assets in North Queensland, Louis Chiat, said: "We have started to make decisions [in response]. Future investment decisions are [going to be] of a much bigger nature."

Importantly, the fate of copper mining at Mt Isa does not necessarily swing on the economics of Glencore's copper processing chain with production able to be shipped directly to customers in a marketable concentrate. But like so many mature copper mines around the globe, Mt Isa faces a cost challenge given that its underground network has to reach ever deeper to extract ore of ever lower grades.

The Glencore position is that the erosion of Australia's base load capacity caused by a policy preference for intermittent renewable options has left the national market critically exposed to peak-demand shortages. And Freyberg's forthright criticism completes an unwelcome trifecta for our federal and state governments.

After power interruptions brought BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam to a halt for a second time in a month late last year chief executive Andrew Mackenzie warned the energy insecurity threatened new and existing investments and Australian jobs.

Just 24 hours before the Freyberg broadside Rio Tinto's new boss, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, called for regulation of the Queensland power market because of the miner's inability to secure financially viable power prices for supply of one of its Queensland aluminium smelters.

In March, Rio shut 14 per cent of its production at the Boyne Island smelter for want of an acceptable electricity supply contract. Rio generates 86 per cent of its own power for the Gladstone-based smelter but had been acquiring the balance of its needs from the spot market. A two-year effort to replace that spot exposure with contracted supply proved unsuccessful and, as a result, an equivalent quantum of Boyne production was closed.

That meant more than 100 Australians lost their jobs and Rio surrendered 80,000 tonnes a year of aluminium exports. It is worth digesting in full the transcript of Jacques's spiky post-annual general meeting contribution to the national energy debate. His frankness announces, with equal force, the depth of Rio's anxiety and the difference in style Jacques will bring to Rio.

"I was in Canberra four weeks ago and we met quite a few government officials," he started. "The Queensland situation needs to be fixed. What's happening is absolutely wrong at this point in time."

Jacques said the power price Boyne was paying "was so high that it didn't make any sense any more for us to produce". "As a result, 100 of our colleagues lost their jobs," he said.

"You've got endless power capacity in Queensland and the regulation, the regulatory environment, doesn't work. I'm happy to be quoted on this one to say, it's time for the federal government to step in and to sort this one out. Because at the end of the day you can't say, on one side, you want to create jobs, create economic benefits in Australia, and [then] not sort out the power [supply], and it's absolutely wrong.

"We had a very open conversation, very blunt conversation with the government, and the opposition on this one, that this has to be fixed for the benefit, not only Rio Tinto.

"Forget about Rio Tinto for one minute here. It's for the benefit of the people in Queensland, for the short, medium, and long term. Power is essential. Power in Queensland needs to be fixed, and it's not a lack of capacity. It's a question of regulation here."


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, 2017

Aussie politicians can learn a lot from Macron

Robert Gottliebsen is mostly right below and it is indeed a relief to have an economic realist in charge of France. 

But the main point of the whole election was attitude to the EU.  Marine Le Pen wanted France out of it.  And that attracted so many votes that Macron hopped on the bandwagon.  He too vowed to reform the EU and France's relationship with it.  In other words, LePen shifted the whole Overton window rightwards. 

The EUSSR is now under attack from all sides. Britain is leaving, Italians loathe it.  Greeks groan under its restrictions and Germany has a new nationalist movement -- AFD -- that is getting a slice of the vote similar to what LePen got.  To survive, the EU will have to have its wings heavily clipped.  The torrent of regulations it issues will probably be scrapped, at least

Coalition and ALP politicians in Australia could learn a lot from the victory of Emmanuel Macron in France. And if the rest of Europe learns, the EU might have a chance to regain momentum.

It’s the French equivalent of Donald Trump’s draining the swamp.

If we strip away the political rhetoric involved in debating the far right, we have a set of policies from Macron that would transform Australia. Of course, as in Australia, announcing policies in France is only the first step. Bringing them into action is much harder and, in the case of France, Macron has to assemble a political party to win a Parliamentary election to make his revolution work. But he has momentum.

So let’s go through some of the Macron policies that would either transform Australia or where there is clear relevance down under.

* Make budget savings of €60 billion ($A90 billion). Cut the number of public servants by 120,000 — through natural wastage, but excluding hospitals. That’s a huge fall in the public service but like Australia, France has a bloated public service with enormous waste and duplication. Remember: the French people voted for this. They understand the waste in their equivalent of Canberra. France will stick to the EU deficit limit of 3% of GDP.

* Boost people’s purchasing power by cutting their social security contributions. This is worth about €500 ($750) annually for someone on a monthly net salary of €2,200 ($A3,300).

In Australia, the equivalent is that superannuation contributions would be cut back. Unless superannuation can be used to provide a home deposit, it is becoming less and less relevant to young Australians.

* Lower corporation tax from 33.3% to 25%. Australia’s corporate tax debate is made more complex by franking. But the American action is spreading.

* Maintain retirement age at 62, but unify pension rules to reduce complexity. I suspect that there will be a hidden incentive to work longer, which we are mandating.

* Half of food provided in school and work canteens must locally produced or organic. Imagine what a boost that would deliver to our agricultural industry because the pattern would spread to supermarkets.

* Allow businesses flexibility on the 35-hour working week — but extra hours worked will be free of social security deductions. The same policy introduced into Australia would see much more flexibility in shift allowances and penalty rates. But because there was no super deducted, pay rates might not be reduced.

* Make fluency in French the main qualification for obtaining French nationality.

* At the age of 18, French teenagers will get a “Cultural Pass” worth €500 to spend on cultural pursuits such as the cinema, theatre, books. What a fascinating idea.

* Ban children’s use of mobile phones at school. A great idea.

* France aims at becoming the world leader in developing green technologies. France already has a huge nuclear industry.

* One million poorly insulated French homes must be renovated. Macron can learn from Australia. Don’t allow governments anywhere near the change and get the right technical people involved.

* Create a 5,000-strong force of EU border guards. Protecting borders was an issue that could not be ignored. Both Australian parties understand this.

* MPs must not work as consultants, nor employ family members.

* Cut the total number of parliamentary deputies and senators by about one-third. Another wonderful idea for Canberra.

* Reform the EU by giving the Eurozone a separate budget, finance minister and parliament. Macron is trying to also transform the EU which has its own monumental waste.

* In Brexit negotiations, insist that EU Single Market rules apply fully to all trade partners. That’s being tough on the UK.

To get these sort of policies required a new party. Currently the same applies in Australia. The party does not have to be extreme right or left.

Alternatively, one of our existing parties may wake up.


Labor under fire for white ‘Australia First’ advertisement as human rights’ groups call it ‘racist’

The Labour party has always been racist and it pops into view occasionally.  They were the main bastion of the old White Australia policy

OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten has been forced to pull Labor’s new advertising campaign which sparked social media backlash, with many claiming it’s racist.

The Labor party has come under fire from human rights groups for its latest “Australia First” campaign which features almost all white Australians and calls on businesses to “employ Australians first”.

Today, Mr Shorten has acknowledged it was a “bad oversight” not to include more diversity.

He took to social media this morning to vow it would not happen again.

Earlier, Mr Shorten told reporters in Canberra that claims the advertisement was racist were “rubbish” but acknowledged it should have more diversity.

“I’m not in the ad making business ... but I certainly think we need to encourage as much diversity as we can,” Mr Shorten said.

“I’ve had a look at the final production and I think we should have had more diversity in it and I will speak to the Labor Party about that,” he said.

Mr Shorten said he would not apologise for Labor’s stance that there had been too many rorts in the 457 visa system for foreign workers and too many apprenticeships cut under the Coalition government.

Human Rights Watch Australian director Elaine Pearson slammed the ad on social media saying “What a horrible campaign”.

“Only white Australians? Where’s the diversity,” she said on Twitter.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young also called out the ad on social media this morning as white washing.

“As subtle as a sledge hammer. Honestly, what are Labor thinking? This is awful, just awful,” she wrote on Twitter.

The ALP launched the ad campaign in marginal seats featuring an image of Mr Shorten standing next to a group overwhelmingly comprising white Australians.

The theme of the campaign is “Employ Australians First”.

It is understood Labor MPs have also voiced concerns about the ad.


Budget 2017: foreign citizens get $15bn in welfare

Sad that it took the LionHelmet to raise this issue

About 870,000 non-citizens, mostly from Britain, New Zealand, Africa and the Middle East, are claiming $15 billion a year in welfare­ benefits, according to new analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office, raising questions about the generosity of Australia’s social security system.

The analysis, requested by Libera­l Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm, estimated that 710,000 non-citizens from nations with which Australia has no social security arrangement, includ­ing Britain, Vietnam and China, claimed an average $17,500 each annually in welfare, totalling 83 per cent of the $15bn total.

“At present, around 2.5 million (non-citizens) live in Australia and are eligible for welfare,” said Senator Leyonhjelm. “While I believe refugees should continue to be elig­ible for welfare to help them find their feet, the vast majority of non-citizens are not refugees and should not require handouts.”

More than 150,000 non-citiz­ens from countries with which Australia does have a bilateral agreement, such as New Zealand and India, were estimated to claim $15,500 a year each, making up the remainder of the total.

Eligibility for pensions, allowances and family tax benefits is based on residence rather than citizenship. Eligibility for the Age Pension, Australia’s biggest welfare payment, requires a minimum of 10 years’ residency.

John Wanna, a professor of public policy at Australian National University, said Australia was one of the most generous countries in the OECD for payments to non-citizens. “We’re one of the few in the OECD where somebody who doesn’t work can go straight on to benefits,” he said, noting that in Europe access to social insur­ance was often predicated on prior ­contributions.

British citizens made up the largest share of the total, at 170,000, followed by Africa and the Middle East (90,000) and China (50,000). “Before 1949 everyone here was simply a British subject,” said Professor Wanna. New Zealanders who arrived before­ 2001 are eligible for welfare.

The government has recently tightened eligibility for skilled temporary visas and citizenship, paring back eligible job categories and toughening English-language and residency requirements. “Citizenship still doesn’t really give you that much; a lot of people in Australia still vote who aren’t citizens.”

Senator Leyonhjelm said limiting welfare to citizens “will discourag­e those with poor job prospects from coming to Australia, and will build support for immig­ration within the Australian community”.

Social security and welfare is the largest area of government spending, projected to grow from $158.6bn this financial year to $191bn by 2020.

The new figures “represent the total number of adult welfare recipients affected by limiting welfare payments to only Australian citizens, except where a reciprocal social security agreement is in place with the non-citizen’s home country”, the PBO said in its costing. “It includes both those who would have their total transfer income­ reduced and those who would lose all of their transfer income­.”

The PBO excluded payments to non-citizens from countries where expatriate Australians would receive similar payments, mainly age and disability benefits, as a result of bilateral agreements. A deal struck with New Zealand last year gives Australians access to age and disability benefits. Thirty international social security agreements allow Australians “to claim payments from other countries where they have spent part of their working life”.


Stamp duty rip-off forcing sellers to stay put

AUSTRALIA’S "worst tax" is stopping nearly half of potential sellers from listing their homes, driving up demand and impacting affordability, a new study suggests.

The survey of 2700 of homeowners, commissioned by LJ Hooker, found 44 per cent of respondents who wanted to sell their home in 2016 but decided against it cited transactional costs such as stamp duty they would pay on their next property as the reason.

Just over half said they would likely go to market if stamp duty were lessened, while 61 per cent would have gone to market if it were scrapped altogether. LJ Hooker said 60 per cent of survey respondents who requested an appraisal last year decided against selling.

"Homeowners are staying in their properties for longer periods of time which is reducing the necessary turnover of stock," said LJ Hooker network chief Graeme Hyde. "With an increasing and ageing population, it’s important all market demographics have the confidence to buy and sell in the marketplace to aid sustainability."

Soaring property prices, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, have flooded the coffers of state governments with stamp duty receipts. Stamp duty generally accounts for around one quarter of all state government taxation revenue.

"As stamp duty is pegged by the state governments to property prices, we’ve seen transactional costs rise exponentially," said LJ Hooker head of research Matthew Tiller. "In Sydney, the sale of a median-priced property costs a buyer around $40,000. In Melbourne, the 5.3 per cent duty adds $37,520 for buyers."

CoreLogic figures showed an 8.9 per cent drop in listings and a 9.2 per cent drop in transactions in 2016. Transaction costs, including stamp duty, now account for up to 8 per cent of the value of the home, "reducing the incentive to buy and sell in the same market", Citi wrote in a report this week.

The Property Council, which has long advocated for a complete abolition of Australia’s "worst tax", says stamp duty can add more than $60,000 to the cost of a typical Sydney home over the life of a mortgage when interest is taken into account.

Earlier this year, Victoria announced it was scrapping stamp duty for first home buyers on homes valued up to $600,000. In NSW, where a similar exemption exists for new homes up to $550,000, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has conceded it must be explored for existing properties.

Last year, a report by the McKell Institute think tank recommended scrapping stamp duty and moving to a "simpler, fairer" land tax system, which would remove upfront costs on purchasing a home and bring benefits in its own right.

"A stable and simple form of revenue that cannot be avoided, land tax would improve housing affordability through incentivising a better allocation of housing, while also allowing for transport infrastructure to be financed through value capture financing," the report said.


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

8 May, 2017

A VERY interesting article by Stan Grant below

Grant has in the past made much of "discrimination" against Aborigines so it is an interesting turn that he makes below.  He says that Aborigines are NOT disadvantaged and that many have succeeded in white society.

That is an excellent counterblast against the constant wails from Leftists about the sad state of Aborigines.  It discredits their implicit claim that Aborigines can not get anywhere without Leftist "help".

What Grant omits however is that most of the successes he quotes are like him -- people with substantial white ancestry.  Some could pass as whites. Grant himself is little more than a white man with a good tan. I cannot think of a successful full-blood even in sport. 

But Leftists insist that part Aborigines and full-bloods are all the same.  All are just Aborigines.  So Grant's argument should lack no force with them if they were consistent.  But expecting consistency from Leftists is a big ask, of course

Historian Tony Judt was big on challenging conventional wisdom. He warned of the dangers of "received wisdom": those things we accept as truth and cease questioning.

I recalled his words just this week as I was confronted with the received wisdom of views about Indigenous people.

I was at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. Before me was a room full of some of the most successful people in Australia and they were Indigenous. Yes, Indigenous.

I looked out and there was Kyle Vander Kuyp, an Olympic hurdler. In the middle of the room was Mark Ella, in some minds the greatest rugby union player in the history of the game and a former captain of the Wallabies.

Aden Ridgeway was there, former Democrats senator. There were lawyers, doctors, university professors.

In one room was probably the single largest collection of Indigenous millionaires ever assembled in one room.

They were there to celebrate black business. It was a conference organised by Supply Nation, Australia's leading directory of Indigenous businesses.

It was formed to capitalise on a Federal Government policy that mandates that all Government contracts include a proportion of business awarded to Indigenous owned and run companies.

Proud, successful, ambitious Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders — how does that fit with the received wisdom of a demoralised, disadvantaged people?

No-one ever did Mark Ella a favour on the football field. There was no special treatment or easy pathway to a Wallabies jumper. Mark is now an executive at National Indigenous Television.

Kyle Vander Kuyp did not walk onto the world's biggest sporting stage because he was a victim. Post-athletics Kyle is forging his own successful career in the private sector.

These were people who made things happen. The people in that room had earned their hard-won success. Yet, it still surprises people.

Suffering need not be a life sentence

As an Indigenous man and a journalist whose career has taken him around the world, I have lost count of the times someone has said to me, "Oh, but you're not like the others".

As I took to the stage to speak to these amazing people, I wanted to puncture that received wisdom that consigns into permanent misery and suffering.

I wanted to challenge this idea that to be successful is somehow not to be Indigenous.

Our forebears were the first people to cross the open water in the history of humankind. They first touched these shores at least 60,000 years ago and forged a civilisation.

Colonisation was devastating. Indigenous people still live with the legacy of injustice and segregation.

It is a sad fact that by any measure the first peoples of this land are its most impoverished. Indigenous Australians have the worst outcomes in health, housing, employment and education.

Statistically Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders die ten years younger than other Australians. Rates of suicide and imprisonment are catastrophic.

None of this should be forgotten. But does that story of struggle and pain tell the story of those before me?

How does it explain me? Yes, I was born into poverty. My family was itinerant and we had no permanent home for much of my childhood.

For my parents it was a struggle to put food on our table.  Now, I live a privileged life.

Poverty need not be permanent. Suffering need not be a life sentence.

There is alternate history in Australia. It is a history of Aboriginal people struggling against adversity and successfully engaging with white Australia.

Australian Historian Paul Irish writes about this in his new book Hidden in Plain View. It tells the story of the people of Sydney.

They did not vanish after the coming of the British, they resisted, they survived and their descendants live here still.

Irish tells a tale of ingenuity and resilience; a people rendered strangers in their own land, who adapted and embraced the ways of whites while holding to their own traditions.

Irish introduces us to people like Jack Harris, one of the so-called "last of his tribe", who worked and traded with Europeans while never missing a chance to remind them "this is my country".

This was common right across the country. It runs counter to a story of an unrelenting and tragic clash of civilisations.

Anthropologist Ian Keen has said that Aboriginal people were invisible in our economic histories.

Economist Christopher Lloyd has written about this: "Indigenous people developed economic relations with settlers in some places and supplied labour while at the same time being marginalised and impoverished due to land seizures."

Of course, that does not mean people were not exploited. The struggle for unpaid wages continues.

But the instinct to survive and prosper never wavered.

They were not victims

I have written about this in my recent Quarterly Essay, The Australian Dream: Blood, History and Becoming.

I traced the journey of what I called Aboriginal economic migrants. These were people leaving the missions and reserves looking for a place in a new country, an Australia that had excluded them.

They walked — often hundreds of miles — for work on farms as fruit pickers or saw-millers or drovers and railway workers.

They fought to get houses in town and enrol their kids in schools. They fought in Australia's wars and demanded the right to be full citizens.

They were not victims.

They hitched a ride on the post-World War II economic boom. They worked alongside the migrants of southern Europe and saw the face of this country change as the nation abandoned the old White Australia Policy.

Movement is change and Indigenous Australia changed. They married non-Indigenous people, sparking a black population boom, and gravitated to the cities. Today the grandchildren of these pioneers are graduating universities in record numbers.

The Indigenous middle class is growing. Indigenous people are on our television screens, on our stages and our sporting fields.

We don't tell this story often enough. We don't even yet have a language for Aboriginal success.

Redefining what it is to be Indigenous

Indigenous lawyer Noel Pearson blames what he calls a soft-racism of low expectations. White Australia can be disbelieving and black Australia can be sceptical if not hostile. Success is sometimes seen as betrayal, a sell-out to the struggle.

Academic Marcia Langton has called this out in her Boyer Lectures of 2012. She coined the term "The Quiet Revolution", but says success comes at a price.

"Those of us who are successful run the risk of being subject to abuse, accused of being traitors to our own people, 'assimilationists'," she said.

"These detractors will never help you and they can resent your success. They will become increasingly irrelevant as you become more successful."

There are deep, historical, structural problems in Australia; successive generations of policy failure and pockets of racism that lock too many Indigenous people out of the Australian dream.

But identity framed around misery can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The people I spoke to in Sydney this week are redefining what it is to be Indigenous.

Received wisdom would say they are disadvantaged — but don't try telling them that.


Brutal or beautiful? The battle to "save" Sydney’s Sirius building

Why are so many people fighting to protect a Sydney eyesore? Locating the building in a premium area was a wasteful act to start with.  As welfare housing it generated only a fraction of the income it could have generated if it had been used for high-end accommodation.  But it gave good views to a few privileged poor people and the Left liked that. Rationality is however now catching up.  The money made by selling the building will fund much more public housing than  before

The arty-farty arguments for retaining an ugly building are amusing.  The best they can do is to say it adds to "the social mix".  So what?  Why is that a good thing? It is probably a bad thing. Having lots of poor people in a given area tends to elevate the crime rate in that area.  But you are not allowed to mention that, of course.  Assumptions are all the Left need -- not those pesky facts.  They don't even bother to argue for their assumptions.  They just "know" the truth

FROM her 10th floor apartment, Myra Demetriou has the kind of view many Australians would kill — or at least spend several million dollars — for.

The Sydney CBD soars to one side, while before her the Harbour sparkles as the Opera House bathes in the afternoon light.

The magnificence of the view is lost on the 91-year-old. "I’m blind, so I’m lucky if I can make out a ship," she tells

She is one of just two remaining residents of Sirius which sits in the tourist mecca of The Rocks. Night and day the words ‘SOS’ flash from her bedroom window — ‘Save our Sirius’.

If the Government has its way the public housing structure could soon be rubble and Ms Demetriou will be out.
Myra Demetriou, who is legally blind, can barely make out the view from her public housing unit. The Government wants her, and everyone else, out. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Myra Demetriou, who is legally blind, can barely make out the view from her public housing unit. The Government wants her, and everyone else, out. Picture: Jonathan NgSource:News Corp Australia

Sydneysiders may not know the name Sirius, but most will recognise the building. Situated next to the Harbour Bridge as you enter the city from the north, it looks like an all grey Lego set, the dark and brooding blocks stacked on top of one another as it flashes by. A small precursor of the skyscrapers to come.

Built in 1979, it’s been dubbed the ugliest building in Australia by its detractors. It’s fans say it’s an icon of period.

Last year, the NSW Environment and Heritage Minister, Mark Speakman, refused to heritage list Sirius. The announcement had developers salivating at the prospect of a prime plot with harbour views.

"Whatever its heritage value, that value is greatly outweighed by what would be a huge loss of extra funds from the sale of the site," Mr Speakman said.

Shaun Carter, the former NSW President of the Australian Institute of Architects and the head of the Save our Sirius campaign, admits the building can be hard to warm to for fans of more historic buildings.

But, you know what, so is Madonna, he tells

"Sirius is a bit like Madonna, people either love it or they hate it, but at least they notice it."

He is firmly in the former category.

"I used to see it when crossing the Harbour Bridge. I would sit on my dad’s knee when he was driving and I’d see it as we came into the city. It was one of the buildings that made me fall in love with architecture."

In the 1970s, public housing tenants were being displaced from The Rocks as the previously working class suburb was gentrified.

Unions eventually placed a Green Ban on the upper end of Cumberland Street and refused to allow any building unless it rehoused those in the old terraces it was making way for. Sirius was the result.

It’s partly this role in Sydney’s history that has galvanised many to see it preserved.

It was ahead of its time. Richly designed community spaces were built in, all flats had access to the outdoors, palms lined rooftop gardens and units for elderly residents sported alarm bells to ensure help could be quickly beckoned.

In a TedX talk, Mr Carter compared it to the now much loved Queen Victoria Building in Sydney’s CBD which too was once threatened with demolition — to be replaced with a car park.

"The only way we knew how to value these buildings was through a financial model and a car park stacked up pretty well," he says.

"I get that to try and understand brutalism is a struggle because it’s not the architectural orthodoxy. But these buildings have grand gestures, they are like medieval castles built as utilitarian structures."


More snobbery from a Leftist


Senator Sam Dastyari has put a little video up on Facebook, and it’s a little bit offensive.

The topic is everyone’s favourite — housing affordability — and Sam starts reasonably enough by saying Sydney house prices are expensive.

But does he have to mock people’s homes to make his point?

In the first scene, Sam is shown standing in front of a house he clearly regards as a bit of a dump. "This is what a million dollars in Sydney will buy you," he says, with scorn.

"This is what’s called a classic house … (It’s) on one of the busiest roads, and you know if it’s got security shutters, you’re onto a good thing."

Call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s rude to mock other people’s houses. That house was somebody’s home. A place where a family may well have raised their kids, and very proudly, too.

The house had those roll-down shutters that are commonplace on busy roads. I know heaps of Mums who have asked their hubbies to put them in, to help keep the noise and the dust down. I don’t think those people are losers.

Sam soon moves on to a different house that isn’t up to his standards, saying: "This is what a million dollars will buy you in Northmead, but’s it okay, because it’s described as having a functional kitchen!"

But again, that was somebody’s home. Maybe their first home, that they slaved to buy, where they raised their kids. It looked like plenty of the homes in Melton, where I grew up. Not a palace, sure, but one man’s dump is somebody else’s proud castle.

It’s okay for Sam. He’s on a big income.

He is also shown mocking a vacant block of land because it was on a train line. So what if you live on a main road or God forbid a train line?

I grew up on a train line. In an old house. Maybe Sam would think it was a dump but that’s his business. It was our home.

In the next scene, Sam reminds young people they’ll need to be frugal if they ever want to own a house, and he starts salvaging furniture off the street like that’s something only a loser would do.

Most people start with a bit of old furniture pinched off the street or rescued from grandma’s garage.

There’s no shame in that. Not everybody has everything brand new.

Finally, there’s a scene where he mocks the fridge that’s been dumped with no door.

Any truly working class person could tell Senator Sam why the thoughtful owners removed the door before placing the fridge on the kerb.

Anyway, I said on Twitter: "This is offensive. Running around disrespecting people’s homes. And who hasn’t salvaged furniture from the street? @samdastyari is a snob.


A prolonged outpouring of Leftist hate from an alleged comedian below. America's Stephen Colbert is not alone

By Ben McLeay, writing from Australia

If we cut funding for private schools where will Australia get its arseholes from?

Malcolm Turnbull has triggered discord within the Liberal Party and among conservative voters with proposed education funding reform that would see money reduced from 24 private schools and redistributed among government schools. It’s difficult to make a case that private schools should get government funding when non-private schools exist exactly for that purpose, but there’s one thing we really need to consider here: Australia’s arseholes need to come from somewhere.

Look, I understand, your extremely precocious 6-year-old, Bartholomew, is special. He needs an education where a) they will teach him the appropriate way to address a butler and b) he won’t have to be exposed to anyone who knows what the inside of a Centrelink looks like. While government schools certainly get the job done, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi that private schools provide, specifically, the ability and inclination to use the phrase ‘je ne sais quoi’ in a sentence.

In a utilitarian sense, Australia might not strictly need people who know how to fence or speak Church Latin, but if we don’t have our private schools, who will be rude to our waiters? Who will leave one-star reviews of restaurants because the tap water tasted like it came out of a tap? Who will park their obscene Porsche four-wheel-drive partially across two parking spaces – one of which is handicapped – just to make sure that no one dings it? Who will complain about homeless people making the neighbourhood look ‘untidy’?

It might seem like all of those examples are awful things that a horrible person would do, but this country is a rich tapestry of human beings that would be far less rich if it weren’t for the sort of people who move next to an iconic music venue and try to have it shut down with noise complaints. And where do these people come from? Private schools.

Private schools aren’t just about removing your child or children from the real world and placing them in a hermetically-sealed bubble of families who all own at least a half-share in a racehorse, they’re also about teaching your child or children that they are, in every way, better than everyone else. Private schools give children the confidence and determination to demand things they are not entitled to and to be outraged at not having things they don’t actually deserve.

There’s a reason that a lot of wealthy and powerful people come from private schools and it’s because they are taught one supremely valuable thing: a complete disregard for the wellbeing and feelings of anyone who has never been to the opera or played polo. Our politicians and titans of industry are empowered to make the sorts of decisions that only benefit the wealthy and are massively detrimental to the poor because private schooling blessed them with a childhood completely free from interacting with the filthy rabble who "needed that money to eat".

An idiot would see the religious right demanding government funding for Catholic schools and the same religious right demanding the government stop funding Safe Schools because it’s "too ideological" as a hypocrisy of titanic proportions, but religious private schools are about more than just making sure children are taught creationism and evolution with equal weight. They’re also integral in raising the next generation of people who will come under fire for posting pictures to Facebook of themselves next to an endangered African animal that they shot with with a bazooka out of a helicopter.

Obviously, arseholes come from all walks of life, and not everyone that comes from a private school is an arsehole, but no other institutions in this country provide as comprehensive an introduction and indoctrination into the arsehole lifestyle as our private schools do (except maybe the university bodies involved in student politics).

As always, we must think long-term. Sure, it’s easy to defund private schools now, but in 20 years’ time, who will try and take away your penalty rates? Who will try and defund Medicare? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to live in an Australia where P-platers in $80,000 cars aren’t empowered to run into your car in the Woollies car park and not leave a note.


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

7 May, 2017

Was Trump right in praising the Australian healthcare system?

See the report below.  Trump took a lot of flak for his remarks but because knowledge of the Australian system is minimal in the USA, the subsequent controversy got a lot wrong.  TRUMP WAS RIGHT.  Let me say WHY the Australia system is better.  Broadly, it is better because the care you get is influenced by how much you put into the system. 

At the basic level, a visit to your local doctor, the Federal government picks up most or all of the tab. So everybody has good access to a doctor of their choice.

But when the costs get big -- as in hospitalization -- a different system prevails.  Everybody is entitled to free treatment at a government hospital but the care you get there is very poor, with waiting times being very problematical.  One man once had to wait 7 years for an eye operation, during which time  he could barely see.  And even with cancer, which MUST have speedy treatment to give the possibility of recovery, the wait can be long enough to reduce significantly or eliminate survival chances.

And Australians have heard the horror stories and know that you would not wish government medical care on anyone.  As a consequence 40% of Australians have private health insurance -- which gives them access to our many world-class private hospitals, where they get prompt and effective care.  A few years ago, I went to my favourite private hospital with pain from kidney stones,  I was scanned, diagnosed and on the operating table in a matter of hours, and given the latest and greatest treatment for the problem.

So our private hospitals are as good as our public hospitals are bad.  And private health insurance in Australia is not forbiddingly expensive.  People on quite ordinary incomes can and do afford it.  I pay $215 a month for very comprehensive cover and my insurer pays 100% of my private hospital costs. Obviously, many people will have to cut back on other expenditures to afford their subscription but prudent people do just that.

On the other hand, less wise people decide that they will take their chances with the "free" system and spend their money on beer and cigarettes instead.

The upshot?  People who contribute to their own health insurance get care as good as can be imagined while those who try to parasitize the taxpayer get shithouse medical care.  That seems to me to be entirely fair.

And there is great consensus behind the Australian system.. It has been in place for many years now and neither political party wants to change it:  Very different from the USA

A comment by US President Donald Trump about Australia's healthcare system has caused a political firestorm in the US.

Mr Trump, while sitting beside Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in New York before their bilateral meeting on Thursday, praised Australia's healthcare system.

"We have a failing healthcare," Mr Trump said.

"I shouldn't say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do."

Earlier in the day the president and his Republican Party scored a victory in the House of Representatives for repealing Obamacare, although it still has to pass the Senate.

During the Republican campaign to replace Obamacare they railed against government-funded universal heath-care systems like Australia's.

US Democratic Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a supporter of universal healthcare, laughed during a US TV interview when he was told about Mr Trump's Australian comment.

"Thank you Mr Trump for admitting that universal health care is the better way to go," Mr Sanders later tweeted.

"I'll be sure to quote you on the floor of the Senate."

Mr Turnbull also drew criticism after he told Mr Trump in front of reporters: "Congratulations on your vote today".

Labor's shadow minister for health and Medicare Catherine King said the prime minister was praising a bill that will could lead to thousands of Americans losing their healthcare and "will take away the requirement for health insurers to cover people with 'pre-existing conditions' - such as diabetes, autism or cancer," Ms King said in a press release.

"It could also impact survivors of rape or domestic violence."

Later on Friday White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news briefing that Mr Trump was simply "complimenting a foreign leader on the operations of their healthcare system".

"It didn't mean anything more than that."

Ms Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump's remarks did not mean he thought the US should adopt a similar system to Australia's.

"I think he believes that they have a good healthcare system for Australia," she said. "What works in Australia may not work in the United States."


Christians feel under siege for expressing opposition to same-sex marriage

A Melbourne IT specialist engaged to work on the Safe Schools program was sacked after privately expressing concerns about the contentious initiative during a staff meeting, with his employer later accusing him of "creating an unsafe work environment".

Lee Jones, a Christian who was general manager of a business at the time, had told his boss he would work on the project despite his views but was dismissed regardless, according to a submission to a federal inquiry into the status of religious freedom.

His predicament is just one of several cases of discrimination ­alleged by Christians or opponents of same-sex marriage that have come to light as part of the inquiry, which, in the wake of the Coopers Brewery fiasco, has heightened concerns about free speech and a growing intolerance towards traditional views.

Other cases include a Victoria-based commonwealth pub­lic servant who was given a warning for complaining about being pressured to take part in a gay pride march.

The man, who was also a Christian, later asked to be taken off the email list of the department’s LGBTI network as he found emails "offensive by reason of his religious background".

According to the submission of the Wilberforce Foundation, which is a coalition of lawyers committed to common law ­values, rights and freedoms, the public servant was issued a notice to show cause why he should not be disciplined.  That was challenged and there was a finding that there had been no breach of the APS Code of Conduct.

The foundation also cites Alice Springs teacher Ian Shepherd, who was threatened with disciplinary action last year for expressing opposition to same-sex marriage on a Facebook forum.  Despite the comments being made outside school hours, he was issued a notice to show cause. The Northern Territory Education Department has since dropped the action.

Meanwhile, an Adelaide ­university student was suspended last year after offering to pray for a student who was stressed over her workload and later voicing his opinion about homosexuality.

The student had said that he would treat a gay person kindly "but (didn’t) agree with their choice".  He was ordered to undergo "re-education" but sought legal advice and the university withdrew the allegations.

Human Rights Law Alliance managing director Martyn Iles, who was involved with some of the cases, said they were evidence of the "purging of certain ideas in public discourse".

Mr Iles said people with traditional views on same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools program were not being permitted to express them publicly.

In Mr Jones’s case, he was in a staff meeting when asked his opinion about Safe Schools, which had been generating significant media due to its promotion of contested ideas around gender fluidity and sexuality.

His response was that he would not want his own children to be taught some of the more controversial elements of the program. No representatives from Safe Schools were at the meeting.

Mr Jones did not want to discuss details of his situation.  However, he said his sacking — "a brutal over-reaction" — had opened his eyes to attempts to censor those opposed to "rewriting the law and morality".


The fantasy of ‘Gonski funding’ set to continue

As Yogi Berra said: "It’s déjà vu all over again." While we’re still recovering from the nightmare of Gonski 1.0, the government has unleashed Gonski 2.0.

The government’s announcement this week involved three main things: billions more taxpayer dollars for schools over the next decade, an announcement of another Gonski Review into how school funding is spent, and a decision to cut funding to 24 ‘overfunded’ non-government schools.

All three are a distraction from the real problems with the current school funding model.

When the Gonski 1.0 school funding model was released in 2012, it was hailed as a ground-breaking blueprint to shape the future of education (if it was so good, why is Gonski 2.0 allegedly necessary?).

But Gonski’s model turned out to be almost impossible to implement.

The model involved a base level of funding per student and extra funding for disadvantaged students. Disastrously, following the Gillard government’s negotiations with the states and non-government schools, the criteria for disadvantage was expanded so much that the majority of Australian students are now considered ‘disadvantaged’ and attract extra money. So much for ‘needs-based funding’.

This funding model is clearly not financially viable in the long-term. Consider 2017 school funding levels: government schools in almost every state and territory will receive thousands of dollars per student above the base level but are considerably ‘underfunded’ according to the model. This ‘underfunding’ is due to the unjustifiably high benchmark caused by the expanded loadings –not because a few independent schools are ‘overfunded’ as some would have you believe.

It would be a fantasy to pursue this funding benchmark for every school in Australia. The government should have grasped the opportunity this week to remove the ‘Gonski funding’ albatross from their necks.

Everyone is concerned about disadvantaged students and wants a school funding model that effectively caters for disadvantage, but the inescapable conclusion is that ‘Gonski funding’ does no such thing and is an irredeemable mess.


Smart parents favour quality education over fancy buildings

With student numbers swelling in city public schools — partly because of population growth and partly because of a slowdown in the drift to non-government schools — the NSW and Victorian state governments have plans to build a bunch of new schools. Sensibly, they have realised that urban land availability does not allow the traditional sprawl of buildings and playgrounds, so the new city schools will be high rises.

Media reports in Sydney and Melbourne show the schools to be at the fancy end of the architectural scale. They’ll no doubt be equipped with all of the latest — soon to be outdated — technology and will have ‘learning spaces’ instead of classrooms, ‘information resource centres’ (RIP libraries), and cafés … vale, the humble tuckshop.

Contrast this with Chatswood Public School in Sydney. Due to its outstanding reputation for academic quality, its student numbers have almost doubled in the past 10 years. It is so over capacity that demountable classrooms have been placed in the car park and on the oval of the high school across the road to meet demand.

There is a high premium on house and rental prices in the enrolment zone. Parents are willing to bypass a nearby under-capacity school and pay a real estate premium to have their child educated in a demountable classroom in a crowded school. They do this because they believe the teaching and learning is first rate, and this outstrips all other factors. While Chatswood is perhaps the best known example of this phenomenon, it is far from the only one.

To be clear: students and teachers in public schools should have comfortable, high quality facilities that are fit for purpose. But in their eagerness to provide this, state governments should not lose sight of the fact that whizz-bang buildings are not necessarily the highest priority for parents. Astute parents know that there is no substitute for a great teacher and a strong curriculum — whether it’s in a demountable classroom or a multi-billion dollar learning space. Governments need to make sure their priorities are just as sound.


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, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is flabbergasted by certain recent news

The horrors of being a customer of Optus Australia

I have just updated my Optus blog.  It's amazing how constant the complaints about them are.  I think anybody reading the blog would steer a wide berth of Optus.  I was once a customer of them myself.  No more!

Let’s reflect on Muslim nations’ Christian genocide

Our nation’s newest refugees recently celebrated their first Easter in Australia. It is a momentous ­occasion for those who survived Islamic State’s genocide of Christians and have been given a new life in our country.

Yet many Western nations ­refuse to recognise asylum for Christians fleeing genocide and persecution.

Typically, politicians cite the principle of non-discriminatory immigration to justify policies that result in discrimination against Christian victims of genocide. It is morally reprehensible.

Last year, the US Congress declared that the Islamic State persecution of Christians and other minorities constituted genocide. The term was coined by Raphael Lemkin who recognised the slaughter of Armenians in 1915 as the first genocide of the 20th century. He wrote: "It [genocide] happened to the Armenians and after the Armenians, Hitler took action."

It is estimated that the Ottomans massacred between 800,000 and 1.5 million Armenians in the genocide, most of whom were Christians. To commemorate its centenary, Pope Francis said: "The first genocide of the 20th century struck your own ­Armenian people, the first Christian nation."

Turkey’s Islamist government continues to deny the genocide took place.

Western nations bear a special responsibility to shelter Christians fleeing genocide because they ­suffer systemic oppression in many Islamic states.

According to not-for-profit group Open Doors, last year was the worst on record for the persecution of Christians since it began reporting 25 years ago. Each month, an estimated 322 Christians are killed for their faith and 772 suffer serious violence. In ­addition, 214 Christian churches and properties are destroyed.

Of the 10 countries ranked worst for Christian persecution, nine are Muslim majority nations. The other is communist state North Korea.

Islamist persecution of Christians is intensifying in African and Southeast Asian countries. Last year, Boko Haram changed its general strategy from attacking anyone classified as an infidel to targeting Christians. Its new leader, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, aligned the group with Islamic State and vowed to "blow up every Church" and "kill every Christian".

The Islamist tactics used to ­annihilate Christians extend ­beyond bombs and guns. Muslim organisations in Nigeria that run camps for people displaced by ­Islamic State are reserving aid for Muslims only. Christian Bishop William Naga reported to Open Doors UK that: "They will give food to the refugees, but if you are a Christian they will not give you food. They will openly tell you that the relief is not for Christians."

Christians are also under threat in Southeast Asia where militant Islamism is on the rise. The trial of Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki Ahok for blasphemy (that is, "insulting" the Koran) is a case in point. On Friday, about 15,000 Muslims marched to demand Ahok be jailed. Associated Press recorded a protester who said: "There’s no room for kaffir to lead in this nation."

The Hungarian government recognises the persistence of global Christian persecution and the West’s responsibility to become assertive in redressing it. The conservative government led by Viktor Orban reports that four out of five people killed for their faith are Christians. It has responded by establishing the world’s first state department dedicated to addressing Christian persecution.

In Australia, Labor and Greens politicians responded negatively to news that the Liberal Coalition has provided asylum to several thousand Christians fleeing Islamic State genocide in its dedicated program for Syrian refugees. Greens senator Nick McKim created a distinction between selecting on "genuine need" and religion in relation to the Syrian intake, and described the latter as "disgusting". He might need a briefing on the reality of jihadist genocide.

Labor legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus reportedly "expressed concern about the prospect of persecuted Syrian refugees being selected for resettlement in Australia on the basis of religion". He stated that more Muslims have been killed in the Middle Eastern conflict than members of any other religion.

Some leftists seem wilfully ignorant about Islamic State’s deliberate genocide of Christians and the systemic persecution of Christian people in Muslim majority nations. Thanks to ignorance, rank immorality, Christophobia or some combination thereof, the Western left has denied fair asylum to Christian victims of jihadist genocide for more than a decade.

Majed El Shafie, the Founder of One Free World International, highlighted the problem with "political correctness" in Canada’s humanitarian programs. He stated that among those accepted as refugees from Iraq and Syria: "Most if not all are Muslim Sunnis."

Fox News reported that the Obama administration’s Syrian refugee program produced a questionable result. Of the 10,801 refugees accepted from Syria in 2016, almost all — 10,722 — were Muslims. Only 56 were Christians.

NGOs have reported that Christians suffering persecution across the globe face "double discrimination". They are persecuted for their faith and subsequently experience discrimination in United Nations refugee camps and facilities. The Barnabas Fund charity rescues Christians from Syria and reports they are at risk of violence in "Muslim-majority shelters".

Catholic Archbishop Jacques Hindo stated that Christians were denied aid in Syria. He told the Vatican’s news service: "We have a hundred Assyrian families who have taken refuge, but they have received no assistance either from the Red Crescent or Syrian government aid workers, perhaps because they are Christians. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is nowhere to be seen."

In a column for Fox News, Nina Shea, the director of the Hudson Institute Centre for Religious Freedom, relayed that Christians in Lebanon are too afraid to enter UNHCR refugee camps in the ­region. There are many emerging reports of Muslim attacks on Christian asylum seekers in transit to Europe and in refugee camps across the continent.

The refugees who escaped the Islamist genocide of Christians to find safe haven in Australia should be welcomed. The coming Easter ritual focuses on the persecution and crucifixion of the world’s first Christian, Jesus Christ. But it culminates in a celebration of new life on Easter Sunday.

All peoples have experienced the relief of finding the light at the end of the tunnel after a long struggle. But in our time, none have struggled more than those who suffered genocide under ­Islamic State. Make them feel ­welcome this Easter.


Badgerys Creek airport is finally cleared for takeoff

The construction of a second major airport in the Sydney area is imperative not just for the nation’s premier city but for the economic development of the entire country. The existing Kingsford-Smith Airport at Mascot accounts for one in every five aircraft movements in Australia and almost half of the nation’s international arrivals. Demand for aviation services continues to increase. Passenger movements through Kingsford-Smith are projected to rise from 35 million annually now to 77 million by 2035, which would almost double plane movements to 460,000 a year. Under existing legislative and infrastructure constraints all flight slots from 6am until midday and 4pm until 7pm will be filled within three years, and within 10 years there will be no slots available at all, meaning additional capacity can be generated only by allocating larger aircraft.

The consequences of this congestion are substantial, ranging from insatiable demands on road and rail transport servicing the airport to higher airfares, increased delays and lost economic opportunities. This is why the joint study into the airport conducted in 2012 by the Gillard federal Labor government and O’Farrell NSW Coalition government found that even with reforms at Kingsford-Smith and greater use of airports at Newcastle, Canberra, Richmond and Bankstown another major airport was needed. The site at Badgerys Creek stood out as the "best location" after being put aside for that purpose and protected from encroaching development since the late 1980s.

The airport has been a political saga in which infrastructure vision and electoral timidity have had their moments and governments of both stripes at both levels have had their share of both. But in a planning and transport development that will help shape the greater Sydney metropolitan area and the national economy for decades, the right decision eventually has been made. The crucial resource — the land — wisely has been preserved. Badgerys Creek is sufficiently distant from major urban areas to reduce noise and traffic problems yet close enough to the city and major transport links to be viable in commercial and practical terms. It can enhance the job prospects and economic development of the western Sydney region while servicing the needs of national tourism, interstate commuting and airfreight demand in a curfew-free environment. The joint study found the cost of not proceeding with this development would be to reduce the nation’s gross domestic product by about $35 billion in today’s dollars across 50 years while reducing prospective job opportunities by about 78,000 nationally.

For these reasons it is high time and the right decision by Malcolm Turnbull and his government to get cracking on this project. Having announced their decision last year, they gave Sydney Airports Group their contractual right of first refusal, which was declined on the basis that it did not provide adequate return for shareholders. Canberra will now proceed with construction itself, most likely funding it through an off-budget corporation operated on a commercial basis with details to be announced in Scott Morrison’s budget speech. Given the amount of money involved (at least $6bn), a gradual start-up, the expected delay before a profitable return is likely and the airport’s importance for national development, the case for government carriage is strong. Where possible The Australian would like to see infrastructure delivered by private capital, but most of Australia’s airports have been built by governments before being privatised so this model is not new. Public financing will guarantee the development is not delayed any longer and it will ensure the bonus of creating clear competition between Kingsford-Smith and the new airport during its start-up phase and eventually when it is sold or leased to another operator. In other crowded markets such as Britain, competition authorities have forced the breakup of airport monopolies with resultant benefits in traveller costs, transport efficiency and infrastructure investment. So, while Kingsford-Smith will dominate the Sydney and national aviation market for decades to come, we can be assured that from at least 2026 there will be growing competitive pressure in the market, especially for airfreight and budget tourism.

We await next week’s budget for more details; and no government should be given a blank cheque on any infrastructure project, let alone one of this scope. But we welcome the decision to proceed — at last — and recognise that government financing will deliver benefits. Eventually we expect to see a return for taxpayers and advantages for travellers and residents, as well as economic benefits for western Sydney and the nation as a whole. Initially identified three decades ago, Badgerys Creeks is finally cleared for takeoff.


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants overhaul of COAG, says bigger states are 'held hostage'

Creeping centralization of decisions

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for a radical rethink of federal-state relations and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) process during a National Press Club address in Sydney today.

Ms Berejiklian wants fewer items on the COAG agenda and is pushing for states that pursue reforms to be given more freedom on how they deliver their responsibilities.

The Premier said the Commonwealth was the greatest idea of modern Australia, "but is a concept which in practice needs a massive overhaul".

She argued NSW had different challenges to other states and it was increasingly hard to reach consensus positions through COAG that suited everyone in the federation.

"The truth is modern federal-state relations are clunky and now thrive on mediocrity," Ms Berejiklian said.

The Premier said she had been frustrated in ministerial council meetings when the ACT — with a population of 400,000 — had been given an equal voice to a state of 7.7 million.

She argued that the cooperative federalism started by former prime minister Bob Hawke and former NSW premier Nick Greiner 25 years ago had run its course and there were many matters which no longer required a national consensus.

"Too often COAG is a brake on reform, and in some cases a blockage," she said.

Ms Berejiklian said COAG's agenda should be limited to issues that were truly national in their focus and would have a real chance of delivering important reforms quickly.

She wants some of the 45 separate national partnerships and project agreements with the Federal Government torn up or put aside as they are "too complex and in the end there is little ability to enforce the terms of the deals we have agreed".

Instead, she argued for a new approach which rewarded governments which pursued reform.

"For the states that take the lead on reform — asset recycling, deregulation, service innovation — the Federal Government could step back, and allow greater flexibility in how we deliver our responsibilities.

"Today I am saying that we need to have an honest conversation about what works in our federation and what doesn't — and that we need a more flexible approach to deal with increasingly diverse circumstances.

"Let's try it with one state by looking to more bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and a state — and if it can work, then others can choose to embrace it."

Ms Berejiklian said she would put a more detailed proposal to the Commonwealth in the coming months.


Principal of Queensland's 'most overfunded' school hits back at Gonski 2.0

The principal of Queensland's most "overfunded" private school has questioned the speed with which its federal funding will be cut under the Turnbull government's mooted 'Gonski 2.0' changes.

Hillbrook Anglican School in Enoggera charges $11,000 in fees each year, a figure principal Geoff Newton said was "moderate" compared to other, higher-profile private schools.

Hillbrook was identified alongside Cannon Hill Anglican College as the only two Queensland schools deemed likely to face immediate funding cuts in next week's budget. 

Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced on Tuesday that 24 independent schools will have their funding cut next year as part of the new model. Some 350 schools will also receive less federal funding by the end of the decade than they would have under the current formula.

The government has declined to name the schools in question, however Fairfax Media's evaluation of the government's School Resource Standard criteria identified 26 most at risk, which included Hillbrook and Cannon Hill.

"We are taking the difficult decision of cleaning up a system riddled with inconsistencies and ancient sweet heart deals," Senator Birmingham said.

While acknowledging that a needs-based approach to funding was appropriate, Mr Newton said private schools should be given time to adjust their funding.

"If an $11,000 school is called elite and over-funded, this is different from some of the other schools mentioned in that list," Mr Newton said.

"I feel it is a little harsh to expect a funding cut, a freeze would be a much more reasonable compromise for some schools.

"We do 10-year projections on what we are going to do in terms of capital works, fee increases, staffing.

"I would argue for a freeze, which is a zero per cent increase on our current funding and inflation will eat that away."

Under the changes, schools receiving more than 80 per cent of their SRS from the federal government are expected to have their funding brought down over time, while schools exceeding 100 per cent of their SRS will have their funding cut from next year.

Fairfax Media's analysis found HAS was funded at 139 per cent and CHAC at 113 per cent of their SRS.

The Turnbull government has argued it is fundamentally fair to reduce funding for some wealthy schools as the vast majority of schools - around 9000 in total - will be better off than they are now. Most private schools will see their funding rise under the new model.

Grattan Institute School Education Program Director Pete Goss said the announcement was a "brave call... but the right call" and was in keeping with the broad principles of the Gonski Review as set out under the Gillard government.

The cuts come as $2 billion is expected to be injected into next Tuesday's budget for schools over the next four years on top of the $1.2 billion announced in last year's budget.

"Julia Gillard made a politically based decision to say no school would lose a dollar and the way it played out subsequently meant that some of these exemptions continued," Mr Goss said.

"Amazingly under legislation, some over-funded schools would still be over-funded this time next century unless something changed.

"They have been on a good wicket for a long time and every dollar that gets spent in an over-funded school is a dollar that can't be spent in a school that needs it more."

He said the new funding model would provide consistent funding on a needs basis, regardless of which state you were in.

Mr Goss said under the new system Queensland schools would do "reasonably well".

"Queensland I suspect will generally do reasonably well because government schools are not funded close to their target and they should be," he said.

"On average Catholic and independent schools in Queensland are funded just below 95 per cent of their target and on average would need a bit of a lift to get there."

Meanwhile Queensland Labor Education Minister Kate Jones on Wednesday accused her federal counterpart of trying to "trick" and mislead voters about its reforms.

Ms Jones said government schools across the state would be $300 million worse off over 10 years under the Gonski 2.0 changes, in contrast to the $1.43b surplus spruiked by Senator Birmingham.

"What we've seen by Simon Birmingham is an attempt to trick parents and to trick schools," she said in Brisbane.

"He is comparing his deep cuts to his less deep cuts.

"I am comparing it to the real dollars flowing into our schools right now in Queensland that expires at the end of June."

Senator Birmingham said Ms Jones' number-crunching was "curious" because Queensland would receive at least $100 million extra year-on-year over the first four years.

Cannon Hill Anglican College principal Robyn Bell was contacted for comment.


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, 2017

Australians need to ‘wake up’ to the robot threat, with five million jobs at risk: Futurist Shara Evans

Another stupid prophet.  Machines have been steadily replacing people for over 200 years without causing unemployment

MILLIONS of Australians are destined for the unemployment queue if they don’t "wake up" to the robot revolution, warns futurist Shara Evans.

Creeping automation is set to transform how we work, shop and socialise — and the changes are a lot closer than most people realise.

New research by recruitment agency Randstad reveals that 84 per cent of Australians surveyed are not concerned that automation will affect their future job prospects, while 77 per cent believe that they won’t need to change careers in the next 10 years.

But the reality was the opposite, said Ms Evans, who suggested Australians "take their heads out of the sand" and wise up to the dramatic transformation that had already begun.

"The reality is that 40 per cent of current jobs in Australia won’t exist in 10 to 15 years due to automation — that’s five million jobs gone," she said, citing the latest report on the topic by CEDA.

"If I look at the exponential advancements in technology, it is very clear that this figure will continue to rise."

The really scary part? It’s not future innovation that puts our jobs at risk, but existing technology that is available for use right now.

A recent report by consulting firm McKinsey found that 45 per cent of the activities people are currently paid for could be automated using currently demonstrated technologies.

Robotic checkout systems are being rolled out at convenience stores in Japan, and insurance firm Fukoku Life replaced 34 of its claims assessors with robots earlier this year.

The company laid off the workers after spending $2.36 million on a computer program that calculates payouts to policyholders, a move it said would boost productivity by 30 per cent.

Fukoku Life expected to save about $1.65 million a year on salaries with the new system, meaning it would pay itself off in less than two years.

Amazon now has 45,000 robots moving products around its cavernous warehouses, an approach that has been adopted by companies like DHL Logistics as they scramble to keep up with the e-commerce giant.

Chinese e-commerce billionaire Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, last week predicted that even chief executives like himself would see their jobs taken over by robots.

And Volvo has predicted that driverless cars will become commercially available in the next five years, a prospect that would make taxi and Uber drivers redundant.

The rise of automation is so significant that Microsoft founder Bill Gates has called for governments to impose a "robot tax" to slow down the pace of automation — a suggestion Ms Evans said was "a nice idea", but not viable to implement.

"We are already seeing robots performing concierge tasks within the retail space, and the future workplace will see humanoid type robots with greater physical capabilities," she said.



Leftist State government approves new iron mine in South Australia

No uproar from the Greenies so far.  Maybe they are unaware that magnetite (Fe3O4) is a common iron ore

A $4.5 billion mining project that will create nearly 2,000 jobs during construction has been approved in South Australia.

Iron Road has received a mining lease and development approval for the project on the Eyre Peninsula, which will result in 700 jobs over the 25-year life of the mine.

The South Australian Government said if the company meets the conditions of the approval, the Central Eyre Iron Project would be Australia's largest magnetite mine, estimated to produce 21.5 million tonnes each year.

The project will include the construction of a new 145-kilometre rail link and deep-water port at Cape Hardy, near Tumby Bay.

The port will also be able to be used to export other goods from the region, such as grain.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the rigorous development assessment process considered a wide range of environmental, social and economic impacts on local residents and businesses.

The assessment resulted in 127 conditions that Iron Road will have to meet to proceed with the project.

Conditions include the resolution of land access issues, continuous monitoring and public reporting of dust emissions and noise, and taking measures to prevent any loss of agricultural productivity from surrounding properties.

"If Iron Road meet the conditions of their approval this project will create thousands of jobs and have a significant, lasting impact on our economy," Mr Weatherill said.

"Connecting the Eyre Peninsula to the world's markets through a modern rail link and deep-water port that can be used by other businesses will also enable this important region of our state to grow."

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the project was one of several magnetite projects under development in South Australia.

"There are 14 billion tonnes of magnetite underground in South Australia and the State Government is committed to developing this resource in order to boost exports, create jobs and drive economic activity in regional areas," he said.

"This is an extremely important milestone in the Centre Eyre Iron Project, which is the latest in a pipeline of magnetite projects under development in South Australia.

"If this project proceeds to production, it won't be a sugar hit to our economy, it will deliver 700 jobs over a 25-year mine life."


The ABC needs to know its place and time

There are many leading institutions in Australia — businesses and universities — but there is an argument that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation should not be among them. The ABC should be a lagging institution, reflecting present and past.

The ABC should conserve, rather than disrupt. Instead, the ABC has moved way out ahead, trying to be the future, when people crave certainty and reliability in institutions.

The ABC’s great mistake is that it paints a particular future. Take two long-running examples: its promotion of an idealised Islam in pursuit of multiculturalism, and its obsession with renewables as a response to climate change.

As esteemed colleague Angela Shanahan pointed out, over Easter ABC radio barely featured Christian music to celebrate the remembrance of Christ’s death. Yes, I am aware that Christ ranks only No 3 in Islam, but there was a time when you might get a fight over that.

As for the ABC’s Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s offensive Anzac Day tweet, and her eulogy to Islam­ic feminism, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was right to regard her as a "hypocrite", dripping phony indignation.

Think of the context of the ABC promotion of pretty Islam. Australia is a less religious country than was once the case. The number of people reporting no religion in Australia has increased during the past century, from one in 250 people to one in five.

The rate of people reporting Christian religions is 60 per cent, down from 95 per cent at the beginning of the 20th century. Into this mix we add Islam, with an illiberal history and dubious devotees. Australians are making massive adjustments to a new world, with less certainty than previously, so why pour fuel on the fire?

Perhaps ABC really stands for Allah Before Christ.

Mind you, you can see why Christianity is in decline when some of its leaders worship Gaia instead of God. The ABC Religion and Ethics website recently ran with a big headline, "Government support for Adani’s giant coal mine is scientifically and morally unjustifiable". Stephen Pickard, a professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture at Charles Sturt University, and Thea Ormerod, president of the Australian Reli­gious Response to Climate Change, were in there chanting to Gaia.

Then came Conor Duffy’s report on 7.30 that featured a young, curly-haired "boy of colour", Levi Draheim, gambolling on an Oregon beach. Poor young Levi "worries President Trump’s climate policies will see his local beach washed away by the time he’s grown up". Really? You didn’t just put those words in his mouth, did you, Conor?

After all, he is only nine years old. Breathlessly, we were informed that Levi "is taking the President to court, along with 20 other young people". I have news for you, Conor and Levi: that court case, which began in the middle of last year, is pure theatre. Every Democrat state attorney-general has played that climate change trick, suing Big Oil or the feds in the lead-up to an election. It is bizarre that children in the US are suing government officials. If only it were so easy. Sue a government and all will be well. Meanwhile, children in less developed countries face a multitude of sources of harm, only one of which is the risk from climate change.

But fear not, the ABC has the answer. On RN’s Sunday Extra last week, the announcer introduced a guest, a geographer spruiking "full decarbonisation of our economy is needed by 2050 to avoid the worst of climate change". Do you think that it may have some conse­quences, pal, such as poverty?

The university type spruiked the "next generation of clean-energy entrepreneurs" and derided a country with a "risk-averse mindset" towards clean energy. They are risk averse, just to the wrong things: think Westpac.

Again, the ABC is getting way out ahead when Australia has already hit the wall with renewable disruption. And not one person has been saved or, indeed, harmed by climate change.

Perhaps ABC really stands for, Anything But Coal.

The Australian Broadcasting Commission started in 1932. Before that, we relied on licensed wireless broadcasting operated by the Postmaster-General’s Department. The conglomerate of individually operated radio stations was called the Australian Broadcasting Company.

If the Coalition cannot bring itself to constrain the leading, which at present are progressive, elements in the ABC, it should rewrite the charter to give the ABC a lagging bias — or sell it.


Private schools the big losers under misguided Turnbull plan

Kevin Donnelly

It takes a particular kind of political ineptitude to arrive at a school funding model that represents a slap in the face to Catholic and independent schools — schools that John Howard, when prime minister, sought to defend and to properly fund.

It also beggars belief that the Turnbull government is employing David Gonski and Ken Boston, both strong supporters of government schools and favoured by Julia Gillard when she was Labor’s education minister, to undertake a needless and wasteful review investigating what is already accepted about how best to raise standards.

The Turnbull government’s proposed funding model, based on the original Gonski report, financially discriminates against parents who send their children to Catholic and independent schools — especially low-fee-paying, non-government schools serving less wealthy and less privileged communities.

The new model is also based on the flawed assumption that the cost of educating students across the different states and territories is the same; certainly not so when it comes to teacher pay scales.

The proposed model, by adopting what is described as the Schooling Resource Standards as the basis for deciding how much will be allocated to students and schools, is also flawed.

As argued by the Melbourne Institute’s policy brief No 2/13, the Schooling Resource Standards are "essentially arbitrary, and despite the veneer of technical sophistication in their construction, do not have a sound methodological basis".

The authors of the policy brief also argue that because the Gonski model adopts a highly centralised command-and-control approach, school autonomy will be stifled and a one-size-fits-all approach enforced on all schools.

Both Gonski and Boston, who are responsible for Gonski Mark II, in addition to arguing that more needs to be done to boost enrolments in government schools, argue that a student’s socio-economic status (SES) or home background significantly affects educational results. Based on the mistaken assumption that SES is such a significant factor, the Gonski report then argues that what is most needed is additional funding. In yesterday’s press conference, Gonski made specific mention of SES when arguing what needs to be done to raise standards; not so, based on the latest OECD research that puts the impact of SES on Australian students at 12 per cent.

The fact the government met non-government school authorities only yesterday, less than a week before the budget is tabled, represents another blunder. Instead of presenting a fait accompli, what minister Simon Birmingham should have done over the last 12 months is negotiate and be transparent.


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, 2017

Fat cat universities to get reduced Federal funding

UNIVERSITY funding will be slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars in the May Budget after a report found they receive enough revenue to cover the cost of teaching most degrees.

Student fees are likely to rise and graduates will likely be required to pay back their loans faster under the sweeping changes, Fairfax Media reports.

Universities will reportedly face new efficiency measures of between 2 and 3 per cent to be phased in over a number of years.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham will foreshadow the education package to be announced at next week’s Budget at a higher education and business event in Canberra tonight.

It’s understood he will point to a report by Deloitte Access Economics which shows universities receive enough funding, through government and student fees, to cover the costs of teaching most degrees.

The report shows the average cost of delivery per student grew 9.5 per cent between 2010 and 2015, while funding per student grew by 15 per cent.

Universities received $19,285 per student place in 2016.

Government figures show the average cost of an undergraduate place is $16,000 and for postgraduates $20,000.

The government acknowledges funding in some areas — such as dentistry and veterinary studies — didn’t cover the cost of delivery but says the vast majority of courses could be delivered cheaper than the level of funding provided.

Senator Birmingham says this showed the record level of funding for universities had grown beyond the cost of their operations.

"Universities have a vital role to play in Australia but many mums and dads are feeling the pinch of tighter budgets at home and want to know their tax dollars are being used effectively and efficiently," he said on Monday. "Universities need to invest taxpayer money judiciously and with appropriate public scrutiny and accountability."

Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek has slammed the proposed efficiency measures.

The government should not be "slashing" money from education to repair the budget, Ms Plibersek said.

She also questioned the Deloitte report’s credibility.

"Isn’t it surprising that when the government commissions a company to do a report to justify cuts to university funding and increases to student costs that the report comes out saying we should cut university funding and increase student costs," she said.

Ms Plibersek also laughed off suggestions Labor had promised similar efficiency measures, saying funding for education had nearly doubled to $14 billion under the Rudd and Gillard governments.

Universities have tried to pre-empt any funding cuts with an analysis the sector says shows it has contributed $3.9 billion to the budget bottom line in recent years. The sector’s peak body says there is no capacity to absorb further cuts.


Friedman Liberty conference welcomes Ross Cameron, Mark Latham

Mark Latham stood at the back of the room in jacket and jeans listening intently to a workshop on "alternative media". In a little room above Sydney's University of Technology, a group of YouTube commentators - who usually hide behind pseudonyms - had come to show their faces and share their ideas for taking on the mainstream.

The mission, said moderator James Fox Higgins, was to "make libertarianism sexy". The men - and men they all were - on the panel seemed to agree their cause suffered from an image problem: one of oddball keyboard warriors camped out in their underwear in their parents' basements.

"Us libertarians, we're not that cool," admitted Dylan Thomas, known online as "truediltom". Perhaps to prove the point, Sven Lowe - who works on YouTube channel The Rational Rise with Mr Higgins - said he consumed "eight hours of YouTube content a day".

The Friedman Liberty Conference brought together leading libertarians from Australia and overseas for a three-day freedom fest, extolling the virtues of guns, drug legalisation and eliminating taxes.

But it was also a platform for self-styled "outsiders" of the far-right to step out of the shadows, culminating in a show-stopping double-feature late on Sunday with Mr Latham, the former Labor leader, and Ross Cameron, the former federal MP who on Saturday lost his bid to rejoin the Liberal Party.

Mr Cameron, who made headlines in February when he headlined a far-right fundraiser and called the Liberal Party a "gay club", continued his crusade against the Herald, which he accused of photographing him unflatteringly.

Addressing the Herald's photographer in the room, Mr Cameron said: "His job is to take 100 photos of Mark Latham and Ross Cameron and make them look like f---wits."

Then Mr Cameron raised his arm into a Hitler salute and yelled, to whoops of approval: "Mate, if you want to come down now I'll give you the Nazi salute and you can f--- off to the pub."

The bias and failings of the mainstream media were a preoccupation of many speakers at the conference. But it was Mr Latham's critique of "identity politics" and the modern Labor Party which stirred the crowd to rapturous applause.

Mr Latham, who lost the 2004 election to John Howard, accused Labor of drifting from a pro-market, anti-establishment ethos to embrace political correctness and identity politics in a race to the Left with the Greens.

"The Labor Party's goal posts have moved much more than my position," he said. "They've abandoned meritocracy. Modern Labor is killing itself with the own-goal of identity politics.

"I've got an IQ of three figures and I'm not going to fall for this bullshit," he said to cheers.

Mr Latham, who has been shunned by most contemporary Labor figures and also fired from numerous commentary gigs including most recently Sky News, appeared to have found a new home at the libertarian love-in.

"That's the other thing I love about a libertarian conference – no matter what I say, you can't kick me out," he said.

The conference concluded with a screening of men's rights movement documentary The Red Pill, which Mr Latham said he found "dull".


Barnaby Joyce says Australia has 'moral obligation' to supply coal to poorer nations

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has defended the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland, saying Australia has a "moral obligation" to help poorer nations keep their lights on.

The controversial Carmichael mine would be Australia's largest, with Indian company Adani expecting to export 60 million tonnes of coal per year, much of it to India.

Sparring between Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Q&A host Tony Jones were relieved by the presence of British satirist Armando Iannucci.

Environmental fears, including concerns from graziers that the mine has been granted an unlimited licence to use water, have swirled around the proposal, leading major banks including Westpac and the Commonwealth to distance themselves from it.

Speaking on the ABC's panel program Q&A on Monday night, Mr Joyce would not rule out the government stepping in to provide direct finance to Adani to ensure the mine goes ahead.

"I'm not going to start answering that question, but I suspect not," Mr Joyce said. "The issue is the infrastructure that surrounds it. We're happy to look at that, and we are doing that.

"We've said we're prepared to support the rail link, and we look forward to [it]."

The government has proposed loaning the mining conglomerate $1 billion from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to build a rail line that would transport the coal to ports.

However, the company may have ruled itself ineligible for the criteria of the loan, after declaring such an investment would not be "make or break" for the project.

Mr Joyce said he did not want to create two classes of people - those who can afford power, and those who can't - by refusing the mine.

"I'm going to be a complete economic pragmatist. We have to make sure this economy works. We have to export dollars. One of our largest exports is coal," he said.

"We have to realise we have a moral responsibility to other people in other nations to keep their lights on. They have their right to exist in the 21st century like we do. We can't sort of lord it over people and say 'we prescribe a way of life for you that you can't afford'."

Mr Joyce said the mine would ultimately lead to lower emissions than if people in India used local coal.

"If we decide that we don't want to use Adani - the coal from the Galilee coalfields - to help poor people in India be able to turn on their lights like we do, they're still going to get coal. They're just going to get coal that's 60 percent less efficient, from India," he said.

"So you're actually going to increase your carbon emissions."

Mr Joyce was also quizzed on climate change. He acknowledged human activity had an impact on the phenomenon, but said it was not responsible for "every climatic catastrophe".

"Of course, if human activity is putting greenhouse gases - and it does - into the atmosphere, then of course that has an effect on the climate," he said.

"They [activists] always take the next step and say 'that cyclone was climate change, that bushfire was climate change', everything. And it's not. It's part of the natural path of what happens in the climate all the time, for which part of the effect are greenhouse gases."

Fellow panellist Brian Schmidt, the vice chancellor of Australian National University, said we must take steps over the next 30 years to lessen the impact of climate change.

"You are correct that often any little thing is ascribed to climate change," said Mr Schmidt, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 2011. "But as climate change becomes bigger and bigger, more and more things really are going to relate to that.

"People have, I think, this false belief that it's only going to be two degrees [of warming]. It's only going to be two degrees if we actually really start changing quickly. It could be five, six, seven - we don't know, it's hard to calculate when it becomes really big."


Turnbull announces schools funding boost

MALCOLM Turnbull has announced schools funding will be increased by 75 per cent over a decade.

The Prime Minister has also announced a second major report into schools funding — Gonksi 2.0 — which will be chaired by the architect of the last major report, David Gonski.

Schools funding will grow from $17.5 billion this year to $22.1 by 2021.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the reforms would end "ancient sweetheart deals" with certain schools for the first time ever.

Based on recommendations in the first Gonski report, the Government will provide 80 per cent of Gonski base for non-government schools, up from 77 per cent currently.

It will also lift the contributions for government schools from 17 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020.

Speaking alongside the Prime Minister in Sydney, Mr Gonski said he was very pleased the government had adopted the recommendations for needs-based funding.

He will report to government by December.

Senator Birmingham said the Commonwealth would work with the state governments on implementing the "better fairer" funding model.

He said 24 schools across Australia would experience "negative growth" over the decade.

Mr Turnbull made calls to state premiers today to brief them on the reforms, while Mr Birmingham spoke to Catholic schools.

He made the announcement at a joint press conference in Sydney with Mr Birmingham and Mr Gonski this afternoon.

It comes hot on the heels of a major announcements about higher education funding last night.

Minister Birmingham announced the government would be introducing an efficiency dividend which will effectively mean a $2.8 billion funding cut for universities.

Under the changes, students will be required to pay back loans earlier and degrees will be more expensive.


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, 2017

Thought police screening schoolbooks in Victoria

Kevin Donnelly

Victoria’s politically correct thought police and nanny state mentality know no bounds. The Marxist-inspired LGBTI gender and sexuality program is being forced on all government schools, as is the Respectful Relationships program that presents boys and men as violent and misogynist.

Add the state’s Curriculum and Assess­ment Authority’s principles and guidelines dictating what texts should be studied in years 11 and 12, and it’s no wonder Victoria is once again being ­described as our Albania of the South — a state where cultural-left ideology and group-think rules, and freedom of thought is under threat.

The guidelines warn that texts should not be chosen "regardless of literary or dramatic merit" if they deal with "violence or physical, psychological or sexual abuse", "gratuitous use of coarse language" or they "promote or normalise the abuse of alcohol, the use of illegal drugs or other ­illegal behaviour". Texts dealing with the full ambit of human ­nature with all its flaws, weaknesses and susceptibility to give in to temptation are to be cut from the state-mandated curriculum.

Often the most enduring and worthwhile examples of literature by their very nature portray the dark and unsettling side of ­humanity and personal relationships. In the Greek tragedy The Bacchae, Euripides presents Dionysus as a god of wine, promiscuity and physical gratification that represents an enduring ­aspect of human nature. Other Greek tragedies, such as Antigone and King Oedipus, centre on the nature and impact of violence, ­deceit, betrayal and the ­impact of psychological and sexual abuse.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth, as vividly portrayed in Roman ­Polan­ski’s film adaptation, is awash with violence and death, and there’s no escaping the reality that what drives Lady Macbeth to suicide is her mental and psychological ­instability. The final scene of Hamlet is also bloody, and once again the destructive impact of psychological abuse is evident with Ophelia’s suicide. As proved by one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, Falstaff, it’s also true that great literature often involves bawdy scenes ­involving alcohol and rude and ­offensive language.

Similar to Falstaff, the central character in Zorba the Greek would fall foul of today’s PC thought police as he is consumed by the attraction of women and drink, illus­trated by his statement: "To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble."

There’s also no doubt that if the Victorian guidelines relating to "social and sexual relationships" are taken seriously then metaphysical poets like Marvell and Donne would be unacceptable.

Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress is a seduction poem feminists would castigate as misogynist in nature as the poet’s aim is to convince his mistress to consummate their relationship "like amorous birds of prey". Donne’s poem Elegie: To his Mistress Going to Bed would also definitely be in the no-go zone as the lines, "Licence my roving hands, and let them goe, Behind, before, above, between, below", would cause feminist apoplexy.

Modern Australian classics like Wake in Fright, The One Day of the Year and Don’s Party, given the pervasive influence of alcohol, gambling and sexual innuendo and misbehaviour, would also fall foul of the politically correct mentality that seeks to impose state sanctioned behaviour.

And what of Tolstoy’s War and Peace,that vast and majestic novel that not only vividly and in detail portrays the death, suffering and violence of war but also the interplay of characters depicting the full range of human emotions and ­actions ­including sexual promiscuity, ­betrayal and abuse?

Whatever the nature of the text or how challenging its issues, teachers must ensure the way it is taught is affirmative and constructive, that lessons ­include a range of perspectives and there are alternative points of view.

DH Lawrence argues: "The Business of art is to reveal the relation between man and his circumambient universe at the living moment." Lawrence also argues that literature should never be sanitised and, as such, students have the right to encounter human nature and their world in all its complexity and challenges — good and evil, dark and light.


Crackdown looms for welfare ‘cheats’

WELFARE "cheats" who turn up to Centrelink appointments just to get paid are facing a crackdown in next week’s Federal Budget.

According to figures reported in The Australian, 7006 jobseekers last year missed their Centrelink appointments and re-engaged at the very end of each fortnight, allowing their $579 Newstart payment to continue

Almost half of those repeated the behaviour six times or more during the year. An additional 16,492 jobseekers were flagged for "unusual" behaviour, attending Centrelink appointments at regular intervals to prevent payments being cut off.

A further 3415 people re-engaged with Centrelink every 56 days to avoid having their payments cut off, and more than 800 of those repeated the behaviour more than six times, meaning they were repeatedl­y suspended and then backpaid without consequence.

The group identified as "gaming the system" comprise about 3 per cent of the 759,000 people receiving the fortnightly Newstart allowance.

The Australian reports the crackdown on the small group of repeat offenders will by unveiled by Employment Minister Mich­aelia Cash and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, promising "immediate and proportionate" financial punishment.

"Australia’s welfare system is there to provide a safety net for those in need — not to fund a lifestyle choice," Senator Cash told The ­Australian. "The Coalition continues to look at ways in which to strengthen the system so that community expectations are met and to ensure­ that those that can work, do work."

Mr Tudge said the government was targeting the "persistent group of capable people who are gaming the system". "We need to close these loopholes so that jobseekers can’t get around their obligations," he said.

"It is in their interests as much as the community’s for them to get back to work as quickly as possible, because the longer a ­person is on welfare, the steeper the road back to ­employment.

"We need a system that ­recognises that some have serious issues in their life and need assistance. But for those who are gaming the system, we need to introduce stronger, more immed­iate ­conse­quences."


Good or bad debt has to be repaid: Bernardi

Crossbench senator Cory Bernardi is sceptical about the Turnbull government's new approach to debt, saying whether it is good or bad, it has to be repaid.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison went to great lengths last week to explain how debt in the future will be classified as "good and "bad" debt.

In its simplest form, good debt is an investment like that in infrastructure projects, while bad debt is just funding recurrent expenditure.

Senator Bernardi, the former Liberal and now leader of the Australian Conservatives, believes this is about a government trying to make sure the budget looks better than it otherwise would.

"They are going to say 'we are not borrowing to buy pencils but we are borrowing to pour concrete'," he told Sky News on Sunday.

"Whether it is good debt or bad debt it has to be repaid,"

He said the world is awash with capital looking for reasonable returns, so he can't understand why the government is looking at accruing billions of dollars worth of debt to get involved in projects that commercial financing can get involved in.

"If they make economic sense for a nation I know there would be capital attracted to it," he said.

Government frontbencher Matt Canavan said the government has been committed to infrastructure spending since it came to power in 2013 when it announced a $50 billion program

He said the treasurer had taken a step forward trying to better account in the budget when governments are just putting stuff on the credit card and when they investing in something that will pay off for future generations.

"We continue to invest in infrastructure and we will continue to support projects like the inland rail which we have backed already," he told Sky News.


Abbott slams "anti-men" gender quota idea

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins reportedly wants the federal government to make private sector contractors hire more women.

Government agencies would include a clause in contracts requiring "demonstrated efforts to improve gender balance" with a hiring rate target of 40 per cent women.

"Pull your head in," the former prime minister said of Ms Jenkins, during an interview with Sydney radio 2GB. "We absolutely have to give women a fair go but some of this stuff sounds like it's just anti-men."

Mr Abbott said if the government wanted to do the right thing by women the best thing it could do was to get good conservative women into the parliament. "That's one of the challenges which faces my party right now," he said.


Kiwis reassured one year 'pathway to citizenship' in Australia remains

New Zealanders living in Australia have been assured a crackdown on citizenship requirements has not shifted the goalposts on the "pathway to citizenship" hammered out last year.

In February last year, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a streamlined pathway to citizenship for Kiwis who had been living in Australia for at least five years and met income and character tests.

As many as 100,000 Kiwis were expected to be eligible for the process, which would allow applicants to first receive permanent residency then citizenship one year later.

But in a surprise move last week Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced a stringent new citizenship test and said that all new citizenship applicants must have been permanent residents for at least four years.

That raised fears Australia reneged on the 2016 deal and those eligible would have to wait for four years, not one.

However, on Friday a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Bill English said the PM and Turnbull had spoken on the recently announced Australian citizenship changes, and the scope of their impact on New Zealanders who had moved to Australia between February 2001 and February 2016.

"Prime Minister Turnbull confirmed that the Pathway to Citizenship for eligible New Zealanders, announced in February 2016, has not been changed.

"It remains in place and on track, and is separate from the citizenship changes which Australia announced last week," she said.

"Prime Minister English has thanked Prime Minister Turnbull for this confirmation."

The reassurance means those who meet the eligibility requirements for the Pathway announced in Feb 2016 would be eligible to apply for permanent residency under the "pathway" from July 1, 2017 - New Zealanders who moved to Australia between 26 February 26, 2001 and February 19, 2016 and meet the other eligibility criteria - would be exempt from the four year qualification period and will only have to wait one year between receiving permanent residence and applying for citizenship.

Before the "pathway" was announced in 2016 New Zealanders on Special Category Visas could work and live in Australia indefinitely, but had limited access to government services and no pathway to citizenship.

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

1 May, 2017

Another stupid Greenie prophecy:  "The Reef will never be the same again"

This is just straight Greenie propaganda, with no regard to all the facts.  The GBR has had some bleaching events lately but it is nothing compared to Bikini Atoll, which had a thermonuclear device exploded above it.  And Bikini coral is thriving again.  If coral on Bikini can survive that, why should not the GBR survive infinitely lesser stressors?

And attributing the isolated bleaching to global warming is just assertion.  They offer no evidence for it.  The best evidence is that it is due to sea-level changes, not ocean warming.

It does seem that the 2015/2016 summer bleaching was repeated in summer this year (2016/2017).  Since water levels change only slowly, that is to be expected. 

And note that while they are busily attributing the bleaching to global warming -- they give not a single number for either the global water temperature or the North Queensland water temperature. 

So let me supply some numbers: NASA/GISS Tell us that the global December 2016 temperature (mid-summer) was .77, which was DOWN on December 2015 (1.10)and even slightly down on 2014 (.79).  So in the period at issue, there was NO global warming.  So the guys below are lying through their teeth.  They say that the bleaching was caused by global warming but there WAS no global warming in the period concerned.

And they also don't give numbers for sea levels in the area.  They are zealously hiding the real cause of the bleaching

THE biggest jewel in Australia’s tourism crown will never look the same again — and to fix it, Australia needs a worldwide hand.

Made up of 3000 individual reef systems, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living organism. It is home to 300 species of coral and a vast array of fish, molluscs, starfish and other marine life.

The Reef also supports a $6 billion tourism industry that provides employment for 69,000 people — all of which is in strife if environmental degradation causes significant, widespread harm.

Already back-to-back coral bleaching episodes have taken their toll, wiping out nearly 600km of coral mostly in the far north.

Caused by rising ocean temperatures that kill food-generating algal organisms inside the coral, no one can say with any confidence that bleaching will not become an annual event.

Even more worrying, scientific data suggests a further two-degree increase in ocean temperatures would wipe-out most of the hard corals.

The man in charge of the Reef Recovery program at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Dr Mark Read, concedes it will never look the same again.

Although some corals will build up a resilience to warmer temperatures, a number of species are facing extinction.

"I think it’s going to end being a real mosaic," said Dr Read.

"Some parts of the Reef are going to look more classic — hard coral-dominated — that we’re familiar with while other parts will be less dominated by hard coral and more dominated by soft coral and algae."

While natural habitats are destined to change over time, Dr Read says in the Reef’s case, mankind has contributed to the "current accelerated period of heating" causing coral bleaching.

"We are talking about a global phenomenon," Dr Read said.

"(Coral bleaching) is happening all around the world where you have hard coral. The Great Barrier Reef has been hit particularly hard, so it’s front of mind."

Among the strategies being used by his team to aid in the Reef’s recovery, are ensuring activities in the area do not adversely impact the delicate marine environment; tackling the insidious Crown of Thorns starfish; improving water quality and reducing the volume of debris that finds its way into the massive water park.

Together those initiatives will make a difference but Dr Read admits they won’t prevent more episodes of coral bleaching.

"In terms of dealing with the warming per se, that is something that needs to be tackled at that global level," he said.

"What we do, and what we can do is reduce as many of the direct pressures on the Reef to enhance its capacity to bounce back."

Those who make a living from the Reef are watching the situation with some trepidation.

Despite chalking up their best tourism season since 1997 in 2016, long-term operators know the back-to-back coral bleaching events that have received global coverage will eventually take their toll.


Which genius gave this Islam idiot a soapbox?

Piers Akerman

AS idiots come, they don’t get much bigger than the silly Muslim woman Yassmin Abdel-Magied, but as stupid as she so obviously is, those who have fallen over themselves to promote multiculturalism across the private and public sector are of far greater ­concern.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who hosted Abdel-Magied and the hate-preacher Sheik Shady Al-Suleiman, along with media hog Waleed Aly and his wife Susan ­Carland, last year at Kirribili last year must take note.

Abdel-Magied had already distinguished herself earlier this year when her principal backers at the ABC put her on a Q&A panel enabling her to proclaim to great hilarity that Islam was "the most feminist religion".

She was always bound to utter greater inanities and she didn’t fail with her ­ridiculous (and extremely ­offensive) Facebook remarks about Anzac Day last Tuesday.

She’s so deficient in judgment that she didn’t even ­realise her remarks might have been disgustingly offensive until someone else explained the matter to her.

"It was brought to my attention that my last post was ­disrespectful, and for that I ­unreservedly apologise," she later wrote.

The ABC displayed similarly absurd thinking when its media manager Sally Jackson released a statement standing by its part-time presenter and noting that Abdel-Magied’s post was "subsequently retracted, apologised for and ­deleted".

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is responsible for spending taxpayers’ money on the ABC and should do more than be merely critical of the fool but whether or not she is dismissed from her part-time job as an ABC presenter is ­ultimately up to the new CEO, Michelle Guthrie, and the new chairman of the ABC board, Justin Milne. It is they who now wear the asses’ ears and it is their gross lack of judgment that Australians should be ­protesting about.

The young hijab-wearing Sudanese-Egyptian-Australian Muslim is a non-entity ­despite her relentless self-promotion and would not have come to notice had it not been for the oafs within the Australian government who are ­determined to push the failed concept of multiculturalism despite the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence which shows that all cultures are not equal and that the ­fanatical adherents of Islam, some of whom Abdel-Magied has sought advice from, do not support Australia or Australian values.

Yet it was the geniuses within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who plucked this halfwit from obscurity and paid for her to visit Islamic nations across the Middle East and in North Africa to ­promote her book on her experiences as a Muslim hijab-wearing woman in Australia.

Throughout the three-week jaunt, Australian taxpayers were picking up her cheque as she was duchessed and waited upon by DFAT officers.

The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is now said to be pondering whether Abdel-Magied has a future on the Council for Australian-Arab Relations, one of the little perks run by DFAT. But the real question is why was she ever chosen to do anything by anyone of any ­intelligence in government (OK, the oxymoron trigger warning should have come ­before that last thought).

Of course, she is, as Senator Eric Abetz noted, "unfit and (she) lacked the judgment" for the DFAT role but that means the judgment and fitness of the individuals who initially selected her is what must be questioned and dealt with.

It is just over a year since the Australian navy’s hijab-wearing Muslim adviser ­Captain Mona Shindy exposed her ineptitude through a ­Twitter account described as the ­"Official Royal Australian Navy Islamic Advisor Twitter account", to publish political views in tweets critical of Tony Abbott during and after his prime ministership.

Again, who were the numbskulls responsible for creating the position Shindy held and the account she operated?

Were they the same senior naval officers responsible for the two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ships HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide which can be seen lashed to the wharves in ­Woolloomooloo this past month and more, unable to go to sea because of "propulsion problems"?

The most land lubberly of observers might well have thought that the prime function of the navy was to ensure that its ships, even those worth some $3 billion, could go to sea and that "propulsion" might be key to that ability but apparently not so.

Neither the naval brains trust nor the Defence Minister Marise Payne can tell the taxpayers what their mechanical problems are but they can tell us how inclusive and multicultural the immovable fleet is.

Given that the navy embarrassingly bought two rust buckets from the US navy in the early ’90s — commissioned them as HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla — and sold them for scrap in 2013 after getting about 10 real years of service out of them, the lesson is that the Defence Department is hopeless at negotiating a deal and more concerned with politically ­correct appearances than ­operating efficiently.

Too much weight has been given to the ridiculous identity politics of political correctness at the expense of real policies delivering real gains for the ­nation, whether it’s at the ABC, within the navy, or across ­private sector boards.

Don’t deny nonentities their right to freedom of speech but at least deprive them of having a hand in the public pocket while they’re on their silly soap boxes.


Turnbull’s ministry catches the flak as PM botches gas

Richo is an old ALP numbers man so it is interesting to see him in favour of coal below

The capacity of our Prime Minister to turn triumph into tragedy is on display far too often. It is hard to imagine how putting downward pressure on gas prices could be turned into a negative but Malcolm Turnbull is the champion of the political cock-up. Increasingly, the average punter has become aware that our liquefied gas is overwhelmingly for export and can be bought far more cheaply overseas than it can at home. People are aware that energy prices are rising at a phenomenal rate and can’t understand how the gas industry is able to flog its stuff to foreigners when gas supply is so short at home.

Philosophically, the Liberals, like any good conservative party, are opposed to interfering with markets. The free market ideology has held sway for what seems like forever. Even over the last 12 months, ministers such as Josh Frydenberg and Matthew Canavan have dismissed the notion of export controls on the gas industry. It is sometimes difficult for his ministry to keep up with the Prime Ministerial style. Whether bastardry was involved or not, Scott Morrison has had the ground taken from under him several times by Malcolm Turnbull and now the rest of the ministry is learning that it, too, is liable to run foul of a boss thrashing around trying to do something to regain his credibility let alone his ratings.

When a suitably attired and helmeted Prime Minister made his announcement on the export controls on gas, he must have known that suggesting the wholesale price of gas could be halved by this government intervention would mean the mob would assume that the price to them would reduce by a similar margin. Most Australians, and that definitely includes my good self, have no real idea on how gas is priced, let alone what the cost of liquefication might be. As soon as they hear anything that sounds like a 50 per cent reduction, then the automatic interpretation and expectation of price reductions become very, very real.

Josh Frydenberg was forced to go out, a la Sean Spicer, and explain that the government was not in a position to guarantee whether a decrease in the gas price would occur at all, let alone see the price come down by half. What made it so damaging was that the government’s inquisitor on this was not a Labor politician or a high-flying economist, it turned out to be a Melbourne pensioner name Greta who rang the open line on Neil Mitchell’s program on 3AW. Like so many pensioners, she was concerned about whether she could afford to turn the heating on this winter. This was a woman who stood up and was not denied her opportunity.

Sadly, in the current era, cost alone is not the only reason Greta and millions of others might be denied heating this winter. Electricity supplies don’t look nearly as reliable as they have for the last few decades. The government will undoubtedly be judged on that supply and yet, apart from some supportive statements about the need for Australia to continue to rely on coal-fired power for a few decades yet, nothing concrete has been done to make Adani happen or to bring about the construction of new coal-fired plants. As old plants close, we seem to be delaying too much the decision on how to replace them.

Our weak-kneed, cowardly big banks are shying away from financing anything to do with coal. The Turnbull government must find a way to make Adani happen.

Inevitably, this will require government guarantees. If it is good enough to intervene in the gas market, then coal is a natural to be next on the list.


Rich Baby Boomers clinging to their superannuation ripoff

We are entering an era likely to be defined by an intergenerational standoff. Baby boomers are retiring en masse, with the political power that comes from a demographic bubble. The remaining generations who are of working age face increasing pressures courtesy of an expanding gov­ernment remit, which of course needs to be paid for through ­higher taxes.

Australians are living longer than ever, and the generation retiring now is the largest ­cohort in history. The financial costs of an ageing population are significant, even if living longer is a problem we all hope to confront.

There are more baby boomers than any other generation alive, despite their age, which gives them enormous political power — delivered to an activist generation who knows how to use it.

The battleground in focus is superannuation, and ­within the Victorian division of the Liberal Party it became open warfare this week when cabinet minister Kelly O’Dwyer was attacked ­repeatedly for having the temerity to reform superannuation — reforms, incidentally, that after the election last year (and admittedly after a little tinkering to get the settings right) were applauded by the partyroom. Those who claim dissatisfaction with the changes overstate their case.

We need to be clear when outlining just how insignificant the changes to super have been for most Australians. Ignorance is driving much of the fear in this ­debate.

While baby boomers are, as already mentioned, retiring en masse, most will continue to pay absolutely no tax on earnings in their superannuation accounts. That is the political reality. When I say most, we are talking about upward of nine of out 10 retirees living off their superannuation savings, and that’s before considering all those other over-60s living off the pension.

A small number of retirees will be required to pay a very small share of tax, courtesy of the ­reforms the government ushered through soon after the election last year.

The changes have left a rhetorically loud (if numerically small) grouping of elites very ­unhappy. They believe that years of earning huge salaries, and presumably often minimising their taxes when doing so, have earned them the right to pay no taxes whatsoever in retirement — notwithstanding the costs an ageing society im­poses on the rest of us in policy areas such as health.

Let’s put what they are collectively moaning about into context. How dare O’Dwyer support ­reforms that would see a 15 per cent tax on superannuation invest­ment earnings beyond the earnings on the first $3.2 million invested by couples (half that for individuals). That, according to O’Dwyer’s critics, is an unacceptable reform. I say it continues to be an unbelievably low rate of tax.

Assuming low investment ­returns of 5 per cent a year, $3.2m invested would return at least $160,000 each year. No tax is paid on that by retirees, not before the changes the government made and not after them. All that happens now (which did not happen before) is that 15 per cent tax is paid on any additional earnings. The principal ($3.2m or greater) is not taxed, which is important to be aware of.

So if you have super earnings of $200,000 each year, you now pay the whopping tax total of $6000.

Compare that with every generation X, Y or Z person paying marginal tax rates on their ­income earnings.

And if they are able to save money each year ­towards a home or investment loan, consider what they pay in tax on the earnings from those savings. Such taxes are levied at the marginal income tax rate their earnings fall into.

For example, if you earn $180,000 a year, you have just hit the top marginal tax rate (close to 50c in the dollar when levies are factored in).

If you manage to save $20,000 towards a home deposit, and invest it in a savings account earning you 5 per cent interest, you make $1000 after one year to help top up your deposit.

But ­because your interest earned is taxed at the top marginal rate, you effectively lose $500 of that $1000 interest earned — money that can go into government coffers to help fund the ageing of the population.

It doesn’t seem very fair, does it, when the baby boomer earning $200,000 on their super every year is paying only $6000?

Unbelievably, however, this debate isn’t about whether those baby boomers should pay more tax. Neither major party is suggesting that. The debate is about whether O’Dwyer should be challenged in her electorate of Higgins because she had the temerity to impose any taxes at all on superannuation earners.

This is how broken our political debate has become, and it’s also a sign of how powerful the baby boomer generation is politically. Not that the superannuation changes should exercise the minds of most baby boomers ­because, as already mentioned, the overwhelming majority of them simply are not affected by the government’s new taxes.

Critics of O’Dwyer are out of touch and driven by financial self-interest, yet they are scaring retirees unaffected by the minimal super tax changes into thinking the government is stealing from them — harming the financial ­viability of their retirement.

In irony of all ironies, there are polemic advocates from generations X, Y and Z who do the bidding of elite cohorts among the baby boomers, misunderstanding the changes or happy to attack political enemies such as O’Dwyer when they should know better as policy analysts. It’s so lowbrow.

As an addendum to the far more important policy ramifications of this whole debate canvassed above, I was criticised during the week by Peta Credlin (a colleague on Sky News) for not giving her the opportunity to comment within a comment piece I wrote for this paper. The piece criticised her for fuelling the story that O’Dwyer might be challenged for preselection.

I took the view, as a chair of journalism at a Go8 university, and aware of this newspaper’s editorial guidelines, that seeking comment for a comment piece isn’t necessary (news flash: it’s required for news stories, not comment pieces).

Peta and I can agree to disagree on the matter, but I do note that the following day she wrote her own comment piece on super, taking aim at O’Dwyer. So why wasn’t O’Dwyer given the opportunity to comment for that piece? Not that offering her such an opportunity is required, of course.


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

Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Another bit of Australian: Any bad writing or messy anything was once often described as being "like a pakapoo ticket". In origin this phrase refers to a ticket written with Chinese characters - and thus inscrutably confusing to Western eyes. These tickets were part of a Chinese gambling game called "pakapoo".

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

Would you believe that there once was a politician whose nickname was "Honest"?

"Honest" Frank Nicklin M.M. was a war hero, a banana farmer and later the conservative Premier of my home State of Queensland in the '60s. He was even popular with the bureaucracy and gave the State a remarkably tranquil 10 years during his time in office. Sad that there are so few like him.

A great Australian wit exemplified

An Australian Mona Lisa (Nikki Gogan)

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."

A great Australian: His eminence George Pell. Pictured in devout company before his elevation to Rome


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