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, 2018

Chief of Army admits females recruited for infantry before men

It was Senate Estimates. And the topic was Defence. On one side was the Chief of Army, Angus Campbell. He was confident, cocky and condescending.

On the other side was Senator Fraser Anning, the grazier from Queensland. He was coughing and clearing his throat. No doubt, he is more comfortable at home with his cows than in a committee in Canberra.

And surrounding them was the sycophantic crowd praising the naked emperor’s clothing.

It takes courage to walk into that room and ask the questions that no one wants to hear. But Fraser Anning did just that. He looked at the Chief of Army and asked if Defence had ever commissioned a study to determine whether placing females in combat roles would increase Defence capability.

The answer: no.


And then, when the Chief of Army claimed that there were no quotas for women, Anning asked why the Chief of Army had previously informed the Senate that the recruiting targets for females had not been met.

The answer: there are no ‘quotas’ and instead the Army simply won’t recruit males unless no female is found within six weeks of the job opening up.

Boom! Boom!

These answers given to Senate Estimates last night should shock the nation. And they come just days after the Army also informed Senate Estimates that just 24 of the 154 females recruited for an infantry role have passed their basic training courses:

Question 6

Please provide a breakdown of Reserve/Full Time females who were recruited into the Army for a role as a Rifleman:

a. How many commenced via the Army Pre-Conditioning Program?
b. How many completed the Army Pre-Conditioning Program?
c. How many commenced the Recruit Training Course at Kapooka?
d. How many completed the Recruit Training Course at Kapooka?
e. How many commenced Infantry Initial Employment Training?
f. How many completed Infantry Initial Employment Training?


The Army Pre-Conditioning Program is designed to assist women to meet the general entry-level fitness standards and build resilience to successfully complete the Army Recruit Course.

The Army Recruit Course is designed to prepare and train recruits to be soldiers in the Australian Army and commence their respective Initial Employment Training. Initial Employment Training is designed to train soldiers in their Employment Category or trade.

For the last six years, the Army has embarked on a costly and politically-correct crusade to bring females into the infantry.

It has been done on an assumption and without any research. And to make it happen, blokes have been told to go away.

It takes, on average, almost eight months for a male to join the Army. And the Chief of Army has just let them know that they won’t get a look in if a female applies before them and punches out eight push ups at a recruiting centre.

If they can’t manage that, women can still take a position via the Army Pre-Conditioning Program, which will give them 49 days of paid training to help them reach that target. It’s almost one week of training per push up.

True, if no woman can be found, men will be contacted six weeks prior to the position opening up and offered a job. But after waiting for months, for many this will be pointless. They’ll have already found a job doing something else.

The Chief of Army claims that this system is helping Defence secure the best talent possible. The reality is that it is turning talent away. Our military is weaker for it.

Last night the clichés rolled. Angus Campbell told the Senate that half the nation’s talent was in its female population. Following that logic and the Army might as well recruit everyone and grab all the talent on offer.

No one denies that females are talented. But the infantry requires specific talents: strength, endurance and fitness. And Defence’s own statistics show that when it comes to these talents, females can’t compete.

Of the 154 women recruited for infantry since 2016, just 24 have passed basic infantry training. Already 25% of those have been medically downgraded.

And every single female recruited for an infantry role via the Army’s vaunted Pre-Conditioning Program has failed to qualify as an infantry soldier.

When asked if the Army concedes that this program has been a failure for the infantry, the Chief of Army said no.


In terms of success, this program has been an utter disaster. It is a barren wasteland with a 100% failure rate. Yet the Chief of Army claims it is working. He sounds like this guy (and you wouldn’t want him running our military):

Taxpayers are wearing the burden of this costly program.

Millions have been spent on advertising to make it happen. Millions more have been spent on squandered training days.

And the unit which is receiving these women is now in the process of sacking almost as many male soldiers due to  comments they have made about women on Facebook.

In the big picture, every single dollar spent has been wasted with absolutely zero increase to capability, while those who could increase it have been turned away.

That’s bad enough. On the financial figures alone, the program should be scrapped.

Making it worse is the fact that standards have been dropped. And that means capability has actually been diminished.

Comments from recruit instructors or those at the School of Infantry make it clear that assessments are no longer as rigorous as they once were, just to enable females to pass. Consequently, the quality of male soldiers will also decrease.

And worst of all is that this entire program has been based on a politically-correct assumption. No research has been done at all.

There is no data to back the Chief of Army’s claim that female infantry soldiers increase capability, unit cohesion or the ability to win on the battlefield.

And the Chief of Army has no idea whether those women who do get through will not suffer an increased risk of long-term health consequences over their male counterparts.

If any other organisation embarked on such a program without any due diligence it would be rightly described as negligence.

Unfortunately, the Army is not any other organisation. It is not a business that this nation can afford to fail because it embarks on some politically-correct flight of fancy.

Yet it is being eroded before our very eyes, while the crowd bays for the emperor to walk back down the cat walk.


Today's Sonia Kruger fails to have racism complaint dismissed two years after she said Muslims should be banned from Australia

Today Show and The Voice host Sonia Kruger has failed to have a racism complaint against her dismissed. Kruger sparked outrage after saying Australian borders should be closed to Muslims.

The Civil and Administrative Tribunal rejected Channel Nine's application to have the complaint dismissed without hearing, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Sam Ekermawi made the complaint saying Channel Nine had vilified 'ethnic Muslim Australians'.

Kruger said Australian borders should be closed to Muslims while discussing a column written by Andrew Bolt on the Today Show in July 2016.

'I mean, personally, I think Andrew Bolt has a point here, that there is a correlation between the number of people who are Muslim in a country and the number of terrorist attacks,' she said.

'Now I have a lot of very good friends who are Muslim, who are peace-loving who are beautiful people, but there are fanatics.

'Personally I would like to see it stopped now for Australia. Because I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do, when they go out to celebrate Australia Day.'

Mr Ekermawi wrote an email to the Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales saying Kruger had dehumanised Muslims.

The Nine Network applied to have Mr Ekermawi's complaint dismissed, saying the segment discussed religion and not race.

They also said Mr Ekermawi's history of making vilification complaints meant it would be an abuse of the tribunal's processes to allow the complaint to proceed.

NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal deputy president Nancy Hennessy refused Channel Nine's application.


Japan coal threat could cost Queensland ‘jobs and billions’

Japan’s biggest steelmaker has threatened to slash its demand for Queensland coal and find other suppliers amid an escalating ­industry brawl that could see “significant job losses” and billions of dollars wiped from the state’s budget.

On a trade mission to Tokyo, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will today meet Japanese steelmakers and Foreign Minister Taro Kono over the freight ­dispute between her state’s rail monopoly, Aurizon, and miners, including BHP, Glencore and Rio Tinto.

The row follows the draft ­decision of the Queensland Competition Authority to cap Aurizon’s income at $3.8 billion over four years — about $1bn less than the company said it needed — and restrict maintenance costs that it passes on to its customers.

Aurizon’s subsequent cost-cutting, which includes fewer freight services with more maintenance shutdowns for trackwork, risks cutting exports from central Queensland coalfields by about 20 million tonnes each year. The hit to royalties is ­estimated at $2bn to the state’s budget over the next four years.

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, which spent more than $2.5bn on Australian coal in 2016, last week wrote to Ms Palaszczuk expressing alarm at the looming shortfall.

“We are afraid that this might damage the reliability of the supply chain of Queensland coal, and as a result, we will inevitably have to consider buying coal from other regions,” managing executive officer Yasushi Aoki said in the letter, obtained by The Australian.

Ms Palaszczuk, whose state exports almost $5bn of coal to Japan each year, said she would “reassure the Japanese gov­ernment their coal exports are secure”.

“It is very important that Auri­zon and the QCA sit down and try to resolve this issue as a matter of urgency,” she said.

It comes as the Palaszczuk government is set to announce a boost in infrastructure spending in the June 12 budget on the back of rising coal royalty payments, which the industry estimated would hit $3.7bn this financial year.

Aurizon chief executive Andrew Harding has told staff there would be “significant job losses” if the QCA’s “fundamentally flawed” draft ruling was not changed. “If the draft decision stands, it will permanently change the way our network business operates, resulting in significant job losses in both network and support areas,” he said in a message to staff.

Mr Harding said ignoring the draft decision, delivered in December, and maintaining normal operating practices was not an option because the final ruling would be backdated to July 1 and leave Aurizon facing a “huge financial hit”.

“The QCA have recommended we drive our operational and maintenance practices to the lowest possible cost regardless of the impact on our customers.

“They have also recommended one of the lowest rates of return on any regulated asset in Australia.”

Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington urged the government to assertively “intervene” and make the QCA and Aurizon reach a solution.

However, Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said Ms Palas­zczuk was “absolutely right” to respect the independence of the QCA. He said Aurizon was going to the big miners individually to broker side deals outside the regulator’s process.

“Aurizon is using thug tactics, being a monopoly, saying to the coal companies, ‘If we don’t resolve this issue, we are going to cut your exports’,” said Mr Macfarlane, a former federal resources minister under Tony Abbott and John Howard. “This is going to cost this state enough to pay the wages of 7000 teachers or nurses a year.”


University degrees costing up to $100,000 may get you NOWHERE

Young Australians are often told that the path to success is paved by a tertiary education.

But a new study by Ernst & Young may have debunked that apparent myth, with almost half of Australian university degrees now at serious risk of becoming obsolete in the next decade.

The company has called on universities to future-proof themselves given the current model leaves graduates with more debt and poor job prospects, the report said on Tuesday.

More than 50 university leaders and policymakers were interviewed and more than 3000 students and employers were surveyed.

Around 42 per cent of current and past graduates felt their degree needed to be overhauled.

Only 36 per cent of those studying humanities, culture and social sciences and just 41 per cent of science and mathematics students thought their degree was relevant to their job.

'Australian universities are under threat from changing learner preferences, new competitive models and international competition,' Ernest & Young Oceania Education Leader Catherine Friday said.

'They need to move now to ensure they meet the needs of a changing society and changing economy. To succeed, they will need to deconstruct the higher-education value chain, offering new formats such as unbundled degree programs, continuous subscription-based learning and just-in-time learning options.'

The report urges universities to collaborate more closely with industry in creating course content to produce more work-ready graduates after 50 per cent of employers claimed that management and commerce degrees are not worthwhile.

'Australian universities are ranked last in the OECD ranking for the ability to collaborate with business on innovation,' Ms Friday said.

'Fixing that has become an urgent priority - 51 percent of international students believe their degree needs to be transformed and the university leaders we spoke to estimate that 40 per cent of existing degrees will soon be obsolete. Those institutions that can crack the new, flexible teaching learning models required will reap the benefits, as they outpace competitors that persist in delivering three to four-year degree programs that employers simply do not value.'  


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, 2018

Controversial 'alt-right' firebrand Lauren Southern set for Australia

Alt Right people are simply those who talk about what sort of people you want in your life.  Would you like a Jihadi next door, for instance?  Leftists think all men are equal.  Which do you think is saner?

Controversial Canadian blogger Lauren Southern is heading to Australia, with dates booked in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.

The Canadian anti-Islamic immigration firebrand, who boasts more than a million social media followers, will be accompanied on speaking engagements in Australia by fellow countryman Stephan Molyneux, a podcaster who was described by the Washington Post as "one of the alt-right's biggest YouTube stars".

Described by some as a peddler of online hate, Ms Southern was denied re-entry to the United Kingdom in March after she distributed flyers near London in February which said, "Allah is a gay god".

UK border authorities determined her political activites were "a serious threat to the fundamental interests of society and are likely to incite tensions between local communities in the United Kingdom".

The pair said they would be bringing "essential information" to help Australians make better decisions about the nation's direction.

"It really seems that you guys [Australians] are at a cross-roads," Ms Southern said in a promotional video for the tour.
"Do you want to retain your culture, do you want to retain your borders, family, identity.

"Or will the boats keep coming, will the no-go zones keep growing and will you become another victim of multiculturalism."
Ms Southern has been a prominent in drawing attention to the plight of South African farmers and will be screening a documentary about post-Apartheid era farm violence.


No new subs until the 2030s?

Until then we have to rely on the useless Collins boats.  They are good when they are good but they are always breaking  down.  There's never any more than one at sea (out of 6 boats) at any one time  They appear to be unfixable

There's a $100 billion estimated price tag to build and maintain Australia's new fleet of submarines over the next 60 years.

French shipbuilder Naval Group has the $50 billion contract to design the 12 submarines which will be built in Adelaide.

Defence department officials told a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday the maintenance costs are expected to be $50 billion over the next 60 years.

The first steel for the Australian submarines is expected to be cut by 2022, with the first vessels due to enter service in the early 2030s.


Bill Shorten defends shutdown of refugee debate at Victorian Labor conference

Keeping the lid on his pro-refugees members is essential for him but will be difficult.  Seeming weak on illegal immigration would cause him to lose the next election

Labor left MPs have expressed disappointment that the Victorian conference shut down a debate on imposing a 90-day time limit on offshore detention.

The procedural move to close the state conference early by the industrial left has been interpreted as protection of Bill Shorten’s position by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, and indicates that any major change to the party’s platform on refugees at the national conference is unlikely.

The national conference will be rescheduled after the surprise announcement that five byelections are to be held on 28 July, with September and January now under consideration.

On Sunday the industrial left teamed up with the Labor right to close the Victorian state conference, shutting down urgency motions on live exports, gender inequality in superannuation, closure of offshore detention centres, the right to strike, the rate of Newstart and recognition of Palestine.

The same grouping also combined to vote against senators being preselected by an equal vote of rank and file members and affiliated union delegates to state conference.

In a statement on Facebook the Labor MP Andrew Giles, the shadow assistant minister for schools, said it was “beyond disappointing that some delegates chose to shut down debate on important issues”.

“In Labor we pride ourselves on our culture of debate – of working through tough questions respectfully and openly, not hiding from these or from scrutiny of our positions,” he said.

“We can’t take this for granted. This goes to the heart of our challenge, which isn’t just to to set out an alternative policy vision but to reject cynicism towards politics by building a movement in which all of us can have a say in shaping our future.”

A Labor MP told Guardian Australia that “clearly the industrial left and CFMEU in particular are very focused on supporting Bill Shorten, even at the expense of progressive causes”.

The MP said it was clear the industrial left was now a reliable source of numbers for the Victorian right when it came to opposing organisational changes to democratise the party in Victoria.

Since the CFMEU provided crucial votes to Shorten at the 2015 conference, Labor’s policy has been to support boat turnbacks and offshore detention of refugees, with the proposal for a 90-day time limit now the most progressive option under serious consideration.

At a doorstop on Monday in the marginal Tasmanian seat of Braddon, where Labor is fighting for the re-election of Justine Keay, Shorten said the party had a “very good conference over the weekend”.

“When it comes to offshore processing, I’ve made it clear that we will make sure the people smugglers don’t get back into business,” he said. “But I’ve also made it clear that I think this government hasn’t done enough to help resettle the people in these facilities and indefinite detention shouldn’t be used as an excuse to avoid regional resettlement.”

On Sunday the Victorian special minister of state, Gavin Jennings, compared the last-minute vote to defer the motions to Labor’s administrative committee to “student politics”.

“The disappointing thing is there was a strange alliance of people who actually decided rather than to deal with important issues ... they’d rather go home,” he told reporters.

Even Labor right powerbroker Adem Somyurek backed Jennings, labelling the intervention “courageous” and expressing his personal opposition to indefinite detention of asylum seekers.


Victorian crackdown aims to draw children back to local schools

Your kid will go to school where WE want, not where you want.  Typical Leftist authoritarianism

The Victorian education department is cracking down on schools that accept high numbers of enrolments from non-local students by refusing to provide portable classrooms.

The department told state schools this month that it would not deliver portable classrooms in 2019 to schools where more than 50% of students live outside the local catchment area.

The new rule will apply to about 15% of state schools, based on 2018 enrolment figures.

The aim is to funnel students back into under-capacity schools in preparation for an estimated 10% increase in the number of school-age children by 2021. The state needs to build an estimated 50 new schools to keep up with demand.

A department spokeswoman said the decision allowed the department to focus resources on schools facing enrolment pressures from local population growth.

“It’s important for all schools to take a common sense approach to managing enrolments from outside their local community so we don’t have schools lose vital play space,” she said.

But some parents have suggested it will take away choice.

Parents in Victoria are able to choose which public school to send their children to, provided the school prioritises local enrolments. It is a system that has seen some more popular schools overflow into portable classrooms to cope with out-of-area demand while other schools are under capacity, the Australian Education Union’s Victorian president, Meredith Peace, said.

According to a 2017 ombudsman’s report, more than half of all primary and secondary students at Victorian public schools in 2016 attended a school other than their local school.

Peace said it was a concerning trend that could increase inequality in the public school system.

“We risk ending up with a very stratified system, which is frankly not in anyone’s interests,” she told Guardian Australia.

“We don’t want to continue to see that [inequity] added to by this movement of what I think is a false notion of choice, because the reality is not everyone has a choice. The government has a responsibility to ensure that our state education system, regardless of where you live, provides your child with a properly resourced school that can offer high-quality education.”

Pearce said that the reputation of public schools was “fickle” and encouraged parents to visit their local schools during term to make their own assessment.

“Schools can get reputations for being good, bad, or otherwise often unfairly or with no basis,” she said. “It’s often based on hearsay from other people who may have their particular issues with that school.”


No room for differing views

“What happened to me has a massive chilling effect on debate,” says physics professor Peter Ridd, who was sacked by James Cook University last week after saying other scientists, including former colleagues, have exaggerated the dangers to the Great Barrier Reef.

“Any scientist who might agree with me on the reef will just keep their mouth shut, it’s just too risky.”

The well-published professor in coastal oceanography, reef systems and peer review, and a former head of JCU’s school of physics, allegedly has “engaged in serious misconduct, including denigrating the university and its employees, and not acting in the best interests of the university”, according to vice-chancellor Sandra Harding in the letter terminating his employment.

The sacking stems from comments the 29-year JCU veteran made on Sky News that “science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated” and those who claim problems with the reef are too “emotionally attached to their subject” — views already aired in his chapter in the book Climate Change: The Facts 2017, produced by the Institute of Public Affairs. Ridd’s academic freedom supposedly has fallen foul of the institution’s code of conduct. A disturbing pattern is emerging on Australia campuses. The JCU experience is typical of the breakdown of free intellectual inquiry at our universities; of debate replaced by dogma.

“I’m a lefty myself, but a monoculture is always a risk, whether you’re part of it or against it,” says Bill von Hippel, acting head of psychology at the University of Queensland. “I’m very worried that the left-leaning ideology of most members of our field might skew the nature of the questions we ask and the way we interpret our findings.”

Ridd has taken his fight to the Federal Circuit Court on the grounds that termination of his employment is a breach of his contractual right to academic freedom. “We need universities to actually encourage different viewpoints so that we get argument,” he says.

Inquirer has spoken to more than a dozen Australian academics across disciplines, universities, and the political spectrum who are concerned about the suffocating monoculture that is gripping our universities, jeopardising research and teaching.

These academics are members of Heterodox Academy, a network of 1865 professors from the US, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. They come from the political left and right but are united in promoting viewpoint diversity: a range of perspectives challenging each other in the pursuit of reason, truth and progress.

Heterodox is premised on the work of co-founder and chairman Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at New York University. Haidt’s moral foundations theory contends that progressives have a more narrow moral palette than conservatives. Progressives prioritise care and fairness; the moral palette of conservatives includes these concerns, in addition to group loyalty, submission to legitimate authority and disgust. Haidt has found that these moral intuitions drive progressives and conservatives to different world views.

This poses a danger for research. Academics, like everyone else, are not immune from confirmation bias (interpreting information to confirm pre-existing beliefs) and motivated reasoning (developing logic to support pre-existing beliefs). To combat these biases, individuals with different opinions need to be put together to “disconfirm the claims of others”, Haidt says.

It is necessary for conservative academics to challenge progressive academics, and vice versa. This is the essence of the Socratic method, of claim and counterclaim in pursuit of the truth, and it is what drives intellectual inquiry.

Universities, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, are dominated by progressives. A US study found less than 10 per cent of academics identify as conservative, while another study found 39 per cent of US campuses have no Republicans. The situation in Australia appears to be similar. Universities seek gender and racial diversity but they are missing the diversity that is crucial for their effective functioning: viewpoint diversity.

“When everyone shares the same politics and prejudices, the disconfirmation process breaks down,” Haidt says.

Academics interviewed by Inquirer tell of a variety of ways that the progressive monoculture limits free intellectual inquiry in Australia. Important projects do not receive funding. Challenging papers are not published. Important issues are not investigated. Studies are designed to reach predetermined outcomes. Erroneous research is misguiding society. Academics self-censor. Administrators censor heretics. Students are exposed to fewer ideas and are marked down or failed for expressing a different perspective.

“Essentially, I was reprimanded for discussing issues that could make students feel uneasy or uncomfortable,” an Australian academic tells Inquirer on condition of anonymity, fearing retaliation from the university and shunning by colleagues.

This same academic was condemned by university administrators for using challenging stories from Haidt’s moral foundations theory in his teaching. The stories, which include necrophilia, incest and cannibalism, are designed to teach students how instinctive emotional responses come before logical reasoning.

“Students are adults, not children, and within a university it should be possible to expose students to material that, even if it was distasteful and confronting, is of educational value,” the academic says.

Administrators demanded the stories be removed from a new online course on ethics, despite no complaints from on-campus students in the past. The academic reluctantly agreed to the censorship and thought this was the end of affair. However, word about the stories spread. Several months later the academic was reprimanded again at his annual performance review for teaching “culturally insensitive” stories. He believes he was punished with an increased workload. Cultural sensitivity is the progressive political belief of not offending those of non-Western backgrounds.

“Going down the path of ‘cultural appropriateness’ recommended by my supervisor is condemning universities to a future of pre-Enlightenment obscurantism. For example, most of my students come from countries where homosexuality is both illegal and subject to social censure. Does this mean that I should no longer discuss homosexuality in my teaching? In conversing with Saudi students I have discovered that some of them believe that women should not hold political office. Should I therefore avoid referring to female politicians in my lectures?”

Ideological monocultures create intolerance and hostility. When you never hear opposing perspectives and spend time only with people who reinforce your ideas, it breeds overconfidence. You come to think that the people expressing opposing perspectives are intellectually deficient or driven by sinister goals.

“If you are exposed to just one set of ideas, you’re not going to understand the other person’s perspective,” Matthew Blackwell, an economics and anthropology student at the University of Queensland, warns from his experience. “And even if they do begin to try to tell you their perspective, because you’re so used to an entirely different way of thinking you’re not going to be receptive at all.”

As a result, students and academics who challenge the zeitgeist are stigmatised by their colleagues and university administrations.

One academic tells of a marker recommending a fail grade to a student thesis critical of postmodernist interpretations of terrorism. “Having read parts of his thesis I am certain that it did not deserve a fail,” the academic says. “The only reason that I can think of for the examiner seeking to fail his thesis is ideologically based animus against his argument.”

An Australian psychology academic was investigated by his university for setting an assignment that surveyed students on gender differences with regards to jealously. “The underlying theory is evolutionary — jealousy is linked to biological sex and males and females respond differently,” the lecturer tells Inquirer.

A student accused the academic of “transphobia” in a pejorative Facebook post and com­plained to the university. The administrators spent months investigating, the lecturer was required to attend hours of meetings, and the dean of the school monitored lectures, ostensibly to make the student feel “safe”.

Social psychology literature has established that men respond more strongly to sexual infidelity, and women more strongly to emotional infidelity. The survey — which included “male”, “female” and “prefer not to say” options — was designed for students to test this theory and write up the results. The academic was never given a written complaint or formally cleared of wrongdoing and almost left his job because of the inquisition.

“I find myself having to be extremely careful, having a real anxiety about going into lectures and classes, and am very fearful of saying something that students find offensive,” the academic says. “That affects my teaching, it makes me feel uncomfortable, it makes it difficult to think and present freely and clearly.”

There have been many cases of censorship across Australian campuses. Last year, Monash University and the University of Sydney capitulated to demands for course content censorship — including a quiz and a map — by nationalistic Chinese international students. The University of Western Australia cancelled a contract to host “sceptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian Consensus Centre, and no Australian university was willing to host it.

The monoculture has institutional backing through university policies and censorship.

The IPA’s Free Speech on Campus Audit 2017, which analysed more than 165 policies and actions at Australia’s 42 universities, found that four in five universities had policies or had taken action that was hostile to free speech.

University policies prevent “insulting” and “unwelcome” comments, “offensive” language and, in some cases, “sarcasm” and “hurt feelings”. Some policies tell students and academics they are “expected” to value “social justice”, a progressive political notion. These misguided policies make it difficult to explore controversial ideas without fear of reprisal.

Florian Ploeckl, a senior lecturer in economics at the University of Adelaide, says many acad­emics bite their tongue on con­troversial topics. “If working on these topics is essentially futile, why should we make ourselves into targets for Twitter mobs and social media crusades?”

Ploeckl warns that academics instead are ceding the space to “activists with their fundamentalist convictions” who do not approach topics scientifically. “Funding is easier and more plentiful if you pick the right topic, publishing is easier if you don’t rock the boat and life in the department is easier if you see the world in the same way your colleagues do,” he says.

David Baker, a lecturer in history at Macquarie University, says while most academics are open to diverse viewpoints, “there is a small group of academics, whose behaviour can only be described as sinister, who are in the business of brainwashing their students and who will try to harm the careers of colleagues they deem heretical to their ideology … Grades can be devastated, careers can be cut short and there is very little one can do about it.”

The lack of viewpoint diversity ultimately has an effect on the quality of public discourse. “Universities and academics are uncritically accepting some theories, teaching them to students, and they are finding their way into society, influencing businesses and political debate,” says Hardy Hulley, a finance senior lecturer at University of Technology Sydney who identifies as “pretty liberal”.

The late Stephen Hawking once warned: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it’s the illusion of knowledge.” Our ability to expose errors and discover truths is hampered by lack of free and open discussion.

There are reasons to be optimistic. The existence of Heterodox Academy indicates a willingness by some to challenge the orthodoxy. “I joined Heterodox because I wanted to pull myself away from my echo chamber and consider more diverse viewpoints,” says Lydia Hayward, a psychology researcher at the University of NSW.

In the US, some institutions are staking their reputation on being open to debate.

The University of Chicago has declared that “it is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive.” Thirty-five US universities have adopted this statement.

Federal Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham, in response to the concerns raised by Heterodox Academy members, has stressed the importance of views being challenged.

“Any university that limits constructive debate doesn’t just do themselves a huge disservice, they let down the Australian public and taxpayers who chip in most of their university revenue,” he tells Inquirer. “Univer­sity leaders who aren’t fostering debate on campus need to remember that the autonomy they are granted comes with the responsibility to understand the social lic­ence taxpayers give them to operate.”


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, 2018

NATIONAL SHAME: Unthinkable horrors in heart of Australia

Above is the lead-in to the story excerpted below. It is utter garbage.  The state of many Aborigines in outback Australia is incredibly degraded but they did it to themselves.  No-one else is responsible.  But Paul Toohey in Alice Springs does give a long overdue "warts and all" picture of what is happening.  It has been going on like that for a long time but a true picture of it is rare.  Many governments have tried to improve the situation but nothing works.  Only the missionaries were able to lift them up out of their behavioural sink and they are long gone. Just the opening blast of the article below.

ON THE south side of Alice Springs, a Thursday afternoon, five adults are gathered around a sedan at the entrance to the showgrounds. A man king-hits a woman and she goes down, hard. She is helped up, then carefully lined up and smashed again, in the face. She’s so drunk she has no hope of defending the punch. She goes down again.

Sitting on the window ledge of the car, watching, is a child. This is what she thinks is normal: incoherent adults enacting the brutal afternoon rituals of total alcohol dysfunction, as desensitised locals drive by with barely a glance.

Alice Springs is at Australia’s spiritual heart: the creation point in our landscape, where raw earth blends seamlessly with the cosmic, and even diehard atheists confess to sacred encounters with the almighty red rock. Now that heart is broken.

There’s deep trauma here. Some Aborigines blame white settlement and loss of culture; others see income support as the driver of destruction, because it buys alcohol and obliterates self-reliance.

The tragedy for the child is that she has already been traumatised, by her parents, for whom acts of ultra-violence carry no shame and rarely result in repercussions, other than visits to the ICU.

She has no opportunity to start life clean but is at the vanguard of another broken generation, same as the last. She doesn’t know it, but she is already caught up in a hopeless hunt for answers in which blame will always displace solutions.

Tired and self-interested politicians; overworked and numb cops; distraught and confused welfare workers; cries for more money from all directions. The spotlight never tracks on the parents causing the harm, because of a shielding instinct that says they have been injured by history.

The middle of Australia, from Tennant Creek down to Alice, is at the statistical epicentre of Australian child neglect and abuse. Each attempt to intervene becomes a forced retreat about saving culture, rather than saving kids.


A real mother

A mummy blogger with 18-month-old identical twin boys and a two-year-old daughter is 'unapologetically' refusing to bring up her children as 'gender neutral'.

Sydney mum Eliza Curby, 28, told Daily Mail Australia she won't 'create some unreasonable neutral gender playing field' for her children - because she isn't 'afraid of gender'.

Ms Curby made headlines after giving birth to her twin boys Jack and Wolfe in December 2016 - after conceiving just six weeks after the birth of her first child, Charlie in January.

The mum gave birth to three children in 2016 - Charlie, her daughter in January, and her sons in December +9
The mum gave birth to three children in 2016 - Charlie, her daughter in January, and her sons in December

The busy mum noticed her young boys 'gravitating towards the few toy cars' in the house - and says they are 'obsessed' with the garbage truck.

'It got me thinking about boys and girls and why we are so afraid of the difference,' she said.

So she wrote a post about it on Facebook - challenging new-age ideals about gender.  'Why are we so scared of gender these days?' she asked.

'We are so concerned with equality, blurring the lines in such a way that we expect men and women be treated the same, act the same, be judged the same, 'be' the same,' she wrote.

'But here's the thing - we are not the same.'

She went on to say she is 'proud to be a woman' and that she expects to be treated as one.

'I'm honoured to have an incredible man who opens the door for me, pulls out my chair, who 'looks after me' - not in a sense that I cannot do these things myself, but to show me a certain respect and love in doing them.

'And I intend to raise my boys - unapologetically - in the same manner,' she wrote.

And it appeared to hit the mark with her 'Twingenuity' blog followers. 'Love this !! What's wrong with girls being 'girls' and boys being 'boys'!' wrote one mum.

'I am raising my son just as that - a boy. With respect, manners and chivalry for women. A gentleman. And there is nothing wrong with this!' said another.

'Hear, hear! Because a man treats (and respects) a woman differently to a man, like opening a door or giving up a seat, it in no way means men think of them as inferior. We are in all ways equal but just different. And the differences should be celebrated,' a father wrote.     

'If my kids decide they are the wrong gender I will support them, if they are boys boys or if my daughter is a girly girl I will support them - I just don't intend to overthink the matter,' she said.


Bill Shorten doubles down on opposition to ‘rotten’ company tax cuts at ALP conference

Labor will campaign in the Super Saturday by-elections on bolstering basic services such as schools and hospitals and accuse the Turnbull of government of an obsession with the big end of town.

Labor leader Bill Shorten today used his address to the Victorian ALP state conference to accentuate his class warfare rhetoric against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In a tight but targeted speech rich with pro-union rhetoric, Mr Shorten said the ALP would stand up for people who lacked a voice and would oppose the Coalition’s tax agenda.

He also this morning indicated that Labor would still attempt to hold a national conference before the next election.

“The choice is clear, Labor chooses hospitals and schools,’’ he said.

“Mr Turnbull and the government choose looking after big corporations and big banks.’’

Mr Shorten told hundreds of delegates Labor’s immediate business was to campaign to win the five by-elections on July 28, followed by the next national poll.

In a traditional stump speech that lasted less than 25 minutes, Mr Shorten focused heavily on opposing the Coalition’s “rotten” business tax cuts and warned that Australia was becoming increasingly economically divided. “We are seeing growing inequality in this country,’’ he said. “And that is the cost of five years of conservative government.’’

Mr Shorten promised to lift average wages, declaring that workers had been buckling under the pressure of how wages growth.

Mr Shorten said it was only a matter of time until the Turnbull government “gives up” on its proposed company tax cuts, and promised a Labor government would see that the overall package was “dead, buried and cremated.”

He said the plan was disproportionately favourable to big business, including banks, at the expense of public services.

“I am damn sure Australians do not want to give a $17bn tax cut to the big banks which have been proven, have been demonstrated to be ripping off consumers,” Mr Shorten said.

“I actually think the average Australian wants to see their scarce taxpayer dollars invested in hospitals, reinvested in schools.”

Federal Labor MPs in attendance included Richard Marles, Michael Danby, Tim Watts, Joanne Ryan and newly sworn in Batman MP Ged Kearney.

The party was left reeling last week following the Turnbull government‘s surprise announcement to schedule the “Super Saturday” by-elections on the same weekend as the long-planned national conference.

While party members were quick to condemn the government’s move as an act of political treachery, insiders are already weighing up delaying the conference for twelve months.

Privately, they will admit that suspending the event — which is a magnet for factional clashes and high profile, contentious police debates — could be favourable during a potential election year.


Newspoll: Voters snub Bill Shorten’s tax attack

Bill Shorten’s class-war attack on the big end of town has been blunted, with an overwhelming majority of voters supporting company tax cuts and more than one-third believing they should be ­implemented immediately rather than phased in over 10 years.

The strengthened support for corporate tax cuts in an exclusive Newspoll comes as the government slipped back in the two-party-preferred vote and Mr Shorten racked up the longest run of negative satisfaction ratings for any opposition leader since records were first taken in 1985.

The poll, conducted for The Australian, suggests Labor’s ­attempts to tie the government’s policy to recent banking scandals has been largely dismissed by voters, with 63 per cent backing tax cuts for corporate Australia.

The results also challenge the opposition’s claim the reforms are politically toxic for the Turnbull government, as Mr Shorten vowed yesterday to wage war over the issue in the lead-up to the “super Saturday” by-elections on July 28.

“I am damn sure Australians do not want to give a $17 billion tax cut to the big banks, which have been proven, have been demonstrated to be ripping off consumers,” he told Labor’s Victorian state conference.

Yet even among Labor and Greens voters polled by Newspoll, more people supported dropping the corporate rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent either immediately or in line with the government’s 10-year phase in.

In a warning to the crossbench that it was out of step with community sentiment, 60 per cent of One Nation voters also backed the company tax cuts, undermining Pauline Hanson’s justification for welshing on a deal to support them because they were unpopular with her supporters.

Contrary to suggestions that the government would walk away from the cuts, it is expected it will put them to a vote in the Senate before parliament rises at the end of next month for the winter break.

This would extend to all businesses the tax cuts that currently apply to those with turnovers of less than $50 million a year and bring the rate down to a globally competitive 25 per cent.

Newspoll also shows the ­Coalition slipping back a point to trail Labor 52-48 on a two-party-preferred basis, while losing a point in primary support to 38 per cent. One Nation picked up two primary points.

The result marks a halt to the gains the Coalition had been making over the past two months, ­having got as close 49-51 in the most recent two polls, including one directly after the May 8 ­budget.

Malcolm Turnbull further ­extended his advantage as the preferred prime minister, gaining a point to lead 47 per cent to 30 per cent over Mr Shorten, who dropped a further two points to reach one of his lowest levels since the 2016 election.

One Nation’s support rose from 6 per cent to 8 per cent. The resurgence comes from a low base for the conservative minor party, which had had a continuous slide in popular support since last year.

In what will be a frustrating result for the government, the poll revealed that 63 per cent of voters now backed its company tax plan despite the Senate crossbench having effectively killed it off last week when Senator Hanson withdrew her support after a previous pledge to back it.

Senator Hanson said one reason she had reneged on her deal to support the plan was she believed they should be implemented ­immediately, in line with US ­President Donald Trump’s move to cut the corporate tax rate to 22 per cent.

This view was reflected among One Nation voters, with 32 per cent agreeing compared with 28 per cent backing a stepped ­approach over the decade.

Among Greens voters, 34 per cent wanted them done now compared with 16 per cent preferring them to be delayed and 39 per cent opposing them entirely.

Among Labor voters the split was 28 per cent in favour of an ­immediate implementation, 20 per cent in support of a longer time­frame, a combined level of ­support of 48 per cent compared with 45 per cent not wanting them at all.

Addressing the Victorian state conference yesterday, Mr Shorten vowed to campaign against the company tax cuts in the lead-up to the five by-elections on July 28, claiming the cuts would come at the ­expense of more schools and hospital funding.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann last week dismissed sug­gestions the government would walk away from the company tax cuts following Senator Hansen’s decision to back out of a deal to vote with the government in ­exchange for a range of demands.

“Let me assure you, I will not leave any stone unturned to land this important economic reform for Australia through the Senate,” Senator Cormann told The ­Australian.

“If we don’t get there, it won’t be because of a lack of a genuine and good-faith effort to secure a consensus through the Senate.

“The future job security, future job opportunities, career prospects and wage increases of nine out of 10 working Australians working in a private sector business depend on the future success and prof­itability of businesses here in ­Australia.”

The Newspoll of 1591 people nationally was conducted between May 24 and yesterday, and across metropolitan and regional areas.


Final Report Into Security of Payment Laws 
Master Builders Australia welcomes the release of the report by Mr John Murray AM following a comprehensive review of various current Security of Payment regimes operating around Australia.

“Everybody who is entitled to be paid, should be paid. Security of Payment is a vital function as it protects all building industry participants and ensures that businesses, and therefore their workers, get paid,” Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

“The 300+ page report is a comprehensive contribution to what is an important issue for many participants in the building and construction industry, right up and down the supply and contracting chain,” she said.  

“Mr Murray should be commended on the extensive work undertaken to complete the Report which is a welcome contribution to this policy debate,” Denita Wawn said.

“Security of Payment law assists in helping industry ensure businesses receive payment when due, however the various regimes have become more complex and divergent in recent years,” she said.

“Master Builders has long supported the goal of greater uniformity and consistency of Security of Payment law across the states and territories to increase industry understanding, clarify uncertainty, reduce complexity and boost payment compliance outcomes,” Denita Wawn said.

“The history of Security of Payment law shows that more regulation does not always mean better outcomes on the ground, particularly for small subcontractors, and urged all stakeholders to consider the reports 86 recommendations in a sensible and practical way,” she said. 

“We will carefully consider the report and its recommendations following extensive consultation with our 32,000 members across the country. Naturally there will be a range of views given the existing differences from one jurisdiction to the next, and we hope the focus can be on finding common ground,” Denita Wawn said.

Via email from Ben Carter, Ph. 0447 775 507

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, 2018

Secret trial for Cardinal Pell

The Star Chamber lives on in Australia. Wikipedia: "The term star chamber has come to mean any lawless and oppressive tribunal, especially one that meets in secret".

The Victorian Department of Public Prosecutions has narrowed its application for a complete ban on media reporting of the trials of Cardinal George Pell, but is still seeking an order that will have the effect of a ‘super injunction’.

Yesterday, New Matilda reported than the DPP was seeking a complete ban on any media reportage of Cardinal Pell’s upcoming trial related to a number of offences. The application was so broad that if granted, it would also have the affect of banning any reporting of the ban itself – known legally as a ‘super injunction’.

However late this afternoon, the DPP submitted an amended application, which narrowed the ban on media.

Cardinal Pell is facing two separate trials related to allegations of a number of historical sexual offences.

The DPP is currently only seeking to ban media coverage of the first trial, although if granted tomorrow morning, it will still have the effect of banning reporting of the trial and the injunction until the second trial concludes.

At this stage, media may be able to report some of the second trial as it proceeds, provided the DPP does not seek a fresh suppression order.

The application, to be heard in the Melbourne County Court tomorrow morning before Chief Judge Peter Kidd, requests that:

“Publication is prohibited of any report of the whole or any part of these proceedings and any information derived from this proceeding and any court documents associated with this proceeding.

“The order will expire upon commencement of the final trial save that publication of any report of the whole or any part of previous proceedings and any information derived from previous proceedings and any court documents associated with previous proceedings will be prohibited until verdict in the final trial.

“For the avoidance of doubt, publication is prohibited of the number of complainants, the number of charges, the nature of the charges and the fact of multiple trials.

The DPP will argue that the order is “necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice that cannot be prevented by other reasonably available means”.

Further it is “to ensure that jurors and potential jurors in the prosecution for alleged sexual offences against George Pell do not become aware of the matters the subject of these proceedings other than those in which they are directly involved”.

In other words, the DPP appears to be trying to ensure that potential jurors in each of the trials are not made aware of the trials in which they are not participating. Reporting of the details of the first trial during the course of the second trial would ordinarily be limited on account of contempt laws, regardless of any suppression order.

While ‘super injunctions’ have, traditionally, been a relatively uncommon mechanism in the courts, they’re becoming increasingly popular, particularly in Victoria.

If granted, this story and other New Matilda reporting from earlier in the week will have to be removed from publication.

Cardinal Pell, aged 76, is the most senior Catholic charged with sexual offences anywhere in the world. Cardinal Pell has strongly denied the allegations leveled against him, and has already formally pled ‘Not Guilty’.


Our delightfull Middle-Eastern "refugees"

A baby and four adults are lucky to be alive after a military hand grenade was thrown at a Melbourne home as part of a feud involving Middle Eastern organised crime figures.

Police said a Yugoslavian M52 hand grenade was hurled at the home in Yuonga Court, Lalor last November, causing significant shrapnel damage to the house, fence, and two parked cars.

"It could have been fatal. That's what a grenade is designed to do," Detective Sergeant Anthony Gasparini told reporters on Tuesday. "We are extremely fortunate no one was injured, only property damage."

Det Sgt Gasparini said police believe the incident is linked to a number of ongoing feuds between Middle Eastern organised crime groups. "It does not just happen randomly, that a hand grenade is being thrown at your front door," he said.

An image has been released of a man believed to have thrown the grenade and the car believed to be involved in the attack.

"We would like to obviously identify this individual so that we can link it back to a Middle Eastern organised crime syndicate and that'll fill in a little bit more in relation to the feud," Det Sgt Gasparini said. "In general terms, when we are talking about Middle Eastern organised crime figures, it is about drug trade. There are a number of non-fatal shootings that have occurred."

Det Sgt Gasparini said a man drove up to the house just before 2.30am on November 19, in a dark coloured Toyota Hilux before hurling the grenade and hiding behind a parked car to watch the explosion. Witnesses saw the man flee, but he returned later, only to do a u-turn and leave again.

Police said the attack was not random and assured locals the investigation is ongoing. "We are doing all we can to bring this person to justice," Det Sgt Gasparini said.

"It is quite concerning organised crime entities do have their hands on this type of weapon."

Det Sgt Gasparini said police are narrowing a long list of suspects and urged anyone - even those reluctant - to speak to police.


Senator slammed for saying Australia can't be racist because Aboriginal Johnathan Thurston has succeeded at football - as he encourages the NRL star to have a run at politics

The popularity of indigenous footy player Johnathan Thurston has been pointed to as evidence of the lack of racism in Australia.

Liberal senator Ian Macdonald questioned in Senate estimates on Thursday whether Australia needs a race discrimination commissioner to replace Tim Soutphommasane once his term ends.

'I might live in a bubble perhaps but I find it very difficult to find any but very rare cases of racism in Australia,' the senator for Queensland said.

'In my own society... the greatest hero, in fact the king of Queensland, is Johnathan Thurston. 'If only I could get him to run for a political party, he'd walk it in.'

Mr Macdonald argued Thurston's popularity as a star rugby league player for the North Queensland Cowboys and Queensland in State of Origin was an example of the lack of racism in the state.

'I just don't know - there are obviously isolated aspects of racism in Australia but I would think across the board they're very isolated.'

Mr Macdonald describes himself as a 'proud and passionate North Queenslander' who lives in Ayr, 80km south of Townsville.

In response to Mr Macdonald's comments, Michaelia Cash - standing in for Attorney General Christian Porter - said the government intends to appoint a new race discrimination commissioner.

Mr Macdonald, 72, has served in the Senate since July 1990 and is one of the oldest politicians in Australia.


Wait for the green WOMAN! Council plans to scrap male pedestrian crossing symbols and replace them with women

An Australian council has announced it plans to replace male pedestrian crossing symbols with female signs.

Brimbank Council in Melbourne has asked for female 'walk and don't walk' figures at crossings in a move to 'improve gender equality'.

Mayor Margaret Giudice told the Herald Sun the initiative would 'show women and girls that they are important and valued in our community'.

An Australian council has announced it plans to replace male pedestrian crossing symbols with female signs +3
An Australian council has announced it plans to replace male pedestrian crossing symbols with female signs

'We know that improving gender equity leads to very positive outcomes for organisations and for our community… research shows societies with greater gender equity have lower rates of violence towards women and children,' she said.

The council has put forward Perth Ave and Ballarat Rd as the first crossing to get the new female lights.

The request will be submitted to VicRoads this week.

But Ratepayers Victoria vice president Frank Sullivan said the council was 'out of touch' and needs to address more pressing issues.

'Councillors have got to realise what they are elected to do... they are completely out of touch and they're moving into things that don't concern them,' he told the Herald Sun.

The push comes after the installation of 10 female pedestrian lights in Melbourne's city centre year.


Say you want a revolution — listen to the online freethinkers

The revolution has started. In the US a group of articulate free thinkers has stormed the barricades of political correctness, identity politics and anti-intellectualism to form the Intellectual Dark Web. They’re articulate, funny, respectful people, and their killer weapons are words, ideas and ­curious minds. If you’re listening to them, you’re part of the revolution, too.

If you haven’t heard of the ­Intellectual Dark Web, don’t worry. Neither had I until barely a week ago, preparing to speak to a room full of eager young students in Melbourne as part of the Institute of Public Affairs’ Generation Liberty program. They wanted to know what to do about rising and stifling anti-intellectualism in Aus­tralia. I pointed them to this loosely aligned group of cultural disrupters from left-liberals to libertarians to conservatives who have set up home on YouTube and podcasts.

Raked over the coals of orthodoxy, these online revolutionaries now routinely attract many millions of people each week. The IDW is the new, nimble and cheeky competitor to the mainstream media. No sound bites or 60-second videos, no talking points or catchphrases, these are long, meandering conversations about culture, science, politics, history, religion and more. You name it, they’re talking about it online because they can’t do it at universities or in the mainstream media.

Who are these subversives? Some you know. Jordan Peterson, for one, who rose to fame for ­rejecting forced speech rules that Canada has set down for trans­gender people. If you missed that ­intellectual melee, you, along with 9.8 million others, may have seen Peterson on BBC Channel 4 this year when host Cathy Newman exposed her ideological blinkers to his ideas, not to mention her cluelessness about free speech.

As Peterson said recently, his audience came for the scandal and stayed for the content. In his case, hours of religious-based conversations reminding us that our everyday decisions pivot the world towards heaven or hell.

These IDW thinkers have a flashpoint in common. Cast out by the left, labelled racists, Islamophobes, misogynists and more, merely for challenging orthodoxy about everything from Black Lives Matter to Islam to the gender pay gap, IDW members are rebelling against the anti-intellectualism of academe and mainstream media. There is no formal membership card or club house, just an assortment of free thinkers with different politics but a common cause.

Feminist Christina Hoff Sommers is a member of the IDW. Routinely howled down for introducing facts into feminism, she speaks freely online to millions of listeners who are searching for reason about feminist causes. Conservative Ben Shapiro is there, too, an anti-Trump Republican bringing conservative ideas to a younger generation of listeners. Shapiro attracts 15 million downloads to his podcast a month.

Joe Rogan, comedian and cage fight commentator, brings his special mix of genius interspersed with profanities to the IDW. The Joe Rogan Experience ambles ­between two and three hours of commentary about everything from martial arts to arts to transgender politics and classical liberalism — and has stratospheric audience numbers. His most ­recent 2 ½-hour YouTube conversation with Peterson has attracted more than 3.3 million views. In Australia, The Joe Rogan Experience is the fifth most popular podcast on iTunes.

Dave Rubin is on the IDW, too. A progressive until he noticed how retrograde the left had become, he is now a classical liberal who wants to build bridges in places where others would reflexively burn them down. Rubin has 720,000 subscribers to his live-streamed The Rubin Report and has attracted more than 150 million views.

Neuro­scientist, philosopher and bestselling author Sam Harris is another IDW member, a left-­liberal who supported Hillary Clinton with solid instincts for liberty, free speech, intellectual curiosity and civil debate: everything that is under attack at American colleges. His Waking Up podcasts attract more than a million downloads per episode.

The Young IPA Podcast

We diss millennials for their short concentration spans, but millions are listening to these conversations, and turning up to subversive live shows when the ­intellectual rebels go on tour.

Speaking to Inquirer yesterday just minutes before going on stage with Peterson in Los Angeles, Rubin is full of optimism: “I’m on this tour with Jordan Peterson and thousands of people are coming to these events, 3000 to 5000 people per show, all of them are sold out. And I would say the average age is probably mid to late 20s.

“I said to Jordan on stage last night, I actually have more hope now, just in the few weeks that we’ve been doing this (tour). I think we’re turning a corner here, something really incredible is ­happening.”

There is a thirst for learning, he says, and the mainstream media treats people as if they are dumb. “We treat people as smart and that they want to learn, and we’re learning right next to them. We don’t know everything but, wow, let’s find out what a biologist thinks about this, what a mathematician thinks about that, what a psychologist thinks about this, and, for me, I’m learning every day.”

Even though Rubin was ­shouted down at a university a few weeks ago, he is upbeat about the change he sees: “It’s changing ­because this group of social justice warriors, cultural Marxists, collectivists, progressives, the reason they’re screaming louder and louder is because less and less people are listening to them.

“I am a firm believer that most people in society, and most people in college, are good people who want to engage and learn, and this loud, hysteric group of people, they’re on their way out. I don’t know how you reach them specifically. But I think by being calm, measured and decent, and listening, you can reach the people on the fence.

Rubin tells Inquirer that if you take all the people on the fence and all the people open to learning, “you’ve got 80 per cent of people right there”. But he is adamant that the hysterical sliver needs to be exposed so it doesn’t grow ­bigger. You don’t need to mock the people. Just ­attack their ideas, he says.

What must infuriate left-­liberals most about these cultural rock stars is that their fame and fortune are the unwitting creations of the left. Shapiro has ­described their various confrontations with the left as gateway drugs to longer conversations about values.

Here’s an example. A year ago this month, professor of evolutionary biology Bret Weinstein was hounded from his tenured position at Evergreen State College, one of America’s more progressive colleges. Weinstein is so progressive he supported the Occupy Wall Street activists. He wanted Bernie Sanders to be president. He has been fighting racism his entire career. When he called a planned “Day of Absence” at Evergreen — when white students were told to stay home — a racist act, student crowds bayed, police couldn’t ­secure his safety and he no longer teaches at Evergreen. Say thanks, then, to the postmodernists and the moral relativists for devouring its own. Weinstein is now a prominent member of the IDW along with his brother Eric, who coined the phrase intellectual dark web in January.

At a deeper level, the rise of the IDW is explained by a fault line between liberty and justice. The liberal democratic project was premised on liberty of the individual, every human being of equal moral worth, regardless of colour, creed, sex or sexuality, with minimal intervention from government. Forty years ago, the left cast off classical liberal ideas of liberty in favour of subjective social justice agendas that put people into groups, creating minority groups defined by race, sex, sexuality and religion, demanding special fav­ours from government and others to deliver justice. Once identity politics took hold, the locus of concern became the group, not the ­individual, as Harris said recently on The Joe Rogan Experience.

“So they will sacrifice any number of individuals to make the political case,” Harris explained. “That’s why they are completely unrepentant even when they are shown to be wrong.” (That YouTube video has attracted 1.3 million views.)

The IDW has come under ­attack, especially by left-liberal critics who don’t know how to ­respond to articulate free thinkers with politics that span the spectrum from progressive to libertarian to classical liberal and traditional conservative. The creator of the slick IDW website that gathers all these online conversations, known only as @edustentialist, says these critics simply hit the default button: they scream and label the rebels as alt-right.

Other more thoughtful critics such as Bari Weiss in The New York Times have ruminated over whether these cultural rebels who have broken through the gates of orthodoxy may need a gatekeeper of their own, so people aren’t led down rabbit holes to rotten ideas.

Rubin responded to this last week, telling his YouTube audience that it’s not his job to guard people from ideas. “I, as an individual, make the choices which I think are intellectually honest, and then it’s on you, as an individual, to decide which people and ideas you like or dislike. There are plenty of people who wouldn’t want me to sit down with Jordan Peterson because they say he’s alt-right. This is the dangerous place we are all in when we all act like the gatekeepers of other’s capacity to make decisions for themselves.”

Rubin, who is planning a tour to Australia later this year, predicts 2018 will be the year of unusual ­alliances. Let’s hope so because this is not an American problem. Right across the West, the liberal democratic project is under attack from illiberal intellectuals, weak-kneed vice-chancellors, poorly ­educated students, political chief executives, misguided politicians and a whole bunch of people who have become what John Howard once called the self-appointed cultural dietitians.

Just ask Peter Ridd, a professor of physics and a greenie environmentalist who was sacked from James Cook University last week because he spoke out about science that is not properly checked, tested or replicated. He said that some people pushing our research funding are not very objective: “They’re emotionally attached to their subject and you know you can’t blame them, the reef is a beautiful thing.”

Ridd is headed to court, determined to expose JCU’s trumped-up charges of misconduct. The university says Ridd criticised and denigrated published work. If you’re an academic or a university vice-chancellor, surely your wheelhouse is a robust market place of ideas. As they say in the military, toughen up, Princess.

This scandal, or variations of it, have happened in Australia ­before. From professor Bob Carter to Bjorn Lomborg, and right back to March 1984 when that great gentleman of Australian history, Geoffrey Blainey, was forced to withdraw from talks at the University of Melbourne over his comments that the rate of Asian immi­gration was getting ahead of public support for immigration. At the end of the year, it was still deemed unsafe by the vice-chancellor for Blainey to speak.

There is a backlash to illiberalism in Australia. Ridd has raised more than the $260,000 from Australians on the GoFundMe website so he can pay for his legal travails with JCU. On Friday, ­Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg defended Ridd. The previous day Frydenberg delivered a withering rebuke in parliament to an uneducated branch member of the National Tertiary Education Union who said: “Western civilisation is often used as a rhetorical tool to continue the racist prioritisation of Western history over other cultures.”

The NTEU and some students want to stop a multi-million-dollar donation by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation to the Australian National Univer­sity for a new course in Western civilisation. Alas, their ill-­inform­ed comments prove why it’s needed more than ever. More Australian academics also are signing up to the Heterodox Academy, a group of academics committed to intellectual freedom and open inquiry.

And in Melbourne last Friday night, questions came thick and fast from young students, some still at high school, eager to confront political correctness, identity politics and stifling illiberalism. Right there, packed into a room upstairs in Campari House, were the green shoots of a renewed liberalism in Australia. Our very own revolutionaries.


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

27 May, 2018


An email from Bettina Arndt below.  I have been reading Tina for decades so am pleased that she is still energetically engaged in challenging the consensus. She has had her own travails but has risen above them. There are two things in her words below that had a personal resonance for me.

1).  Her claim that roughousing from a father figure is desirable would be greeted with pursed lips by many but I in fact did heaps of it with my stepchildren, much to their delight.  I would wear  out after a while, however, and I can never forget the childish voices urging me on:  "Come on, John.  More John".  They are all well established adults in their middle years now and I am still on excellent terms with them all.  We all remember lots of fun times together.

2).  I did once years ago have an interview with a counsellor from Relationships Australia and was amazed at their feminist bias.  For example they seemed to think that anger in a female was a good thing, whereas I as a psychologist would have said that all anger is a bad thing as it obstructs dialogue

I thought you might like to see something cheerful after all the very serious topics I have been covering recently. So my latest video is about Roughhousing, featuring a fascinating discussion between Jordan Peterson and Warren Farrell about how this classic play between fathers and their children contributes to child development.

I’ve indulged myself by including a couple of tiny home videos showing my own son, Jesse playing with my baby granddaughter, Matilda. I received these videos from the family – who are living in Texas at the moment - around the same time I was watching the Peterson/Farrell discussion. I couldn’t resist including them here because they so beautifully illustrate what it is about play with fathers that is unique and irreplaceable. I hope you will help me promote the video. 

Finally, we’re doing well with Rob Tiller’s crowd-funder – we just about to hit the initial goal of $10,000 but we decided to double that amount. I’m sure you all know about hefty legal fees -  his next Fair Work Commission hearing is in July. Also Rob is slowly building up his private practice. Do keep him in mind for skype or phone counselling – and he’s planning his first workshops. He’s scheduled one for next month on The Impossible Business of Keeping Women Happy. Keep an eye on his website for details of when and where. Rob’s delighted to have some financial support at the moment to help him back on his feet. He’s also been doing some great media interviews. Here he is with my friends Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean on Sky News’ The Outsiders.

We are being swamped with stories from across Australia about the anti-male climate at Relationships Australia and similar organisations. I have a number of people who are keen to follow up on this story so please contact me if you have more information. If you need to remain anonymous, that will be fine. We will protect your confidentiality. 

Bettina Arndt

Western civilisation course at the ANU sparks uproar

An unprecedented scholarship program to encourage the study of Western civilisation is facing a backlash from within the first university selected to participate, with staff and students accusing the philanthropic group behind it of pushing a “racist” and “radically conservative agenda”.

The National Tertiary Education Union and the Australian National University Student ­Association have intervened in negotiations between the university and the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation over a proposal to establish an undergraduate degree that could see up to 40 students offered scholarships in the first two years worth $25,000 a year each.

In a letter to vice-­chancellor Brian Schmidt this week, NTEU ANU branch president Matthew King expressed “grave concerns” and warned of a potential backlash if the finalised agreement were perceived to compromise the university’s core principles.

Mr King singled out a Quadrant article written by Ramsay Centre director and former prime minister Tony Abbott in which he “implies that the Ramsay Centre would wield considerable influence over staffing and curriculum decisions”.

“If this is true, we are very concerned that this would violate the core principles of academic freedom, integrity and independence, and reflects an ignorance of, or disregard for, the role of the academic board as final arbiter of academic standards,” Mr King wrote.

“If the Ramsay Centre agreement is perceived to compromise on these principles, it will be ­rejected by staff, students and other stakeholders and could lead to significant anger, protest and ­division.”

Mr King, who is employed as a technical officer, told The Australian academic staff and non-academic staff, and students, had raised concerns around the proposal. The union has been backed by the student association, which has also written to the vice-chancellor, while a separate student petition has been established ­opposing the deal.

ANUSA president Eleanor Kay told the campus newspaper, ANU Observer, that Western civilisation was often used as “a rhetorical tool to continue the racist prioritisation of Western history over other cultures”. She said there was “value to learning from Western civilisation” without prioritising it over others.

Ms Kay was not available for comment yesterday. ANUSA education officer Harry Needham said students had multiple concerns, including lack of consultation around what was “more than a philanthropic donation” involving an organisation with a “politically loaded board”.

The Ramsay Centre, based in Sydney, is chaired by former Liberal prime minister John Howard. As well as Mr Abbott, its directors include former Labor leader Kim Beazley, who is now governor of Western Australia.

The proposed Bachelor of Western Civilisation, due to commence next year, is understood to be the first course of its kind in Australia and is the brainchild of late healthcare mogul Paul Ramsay, who bequeathed part of his $3.3 billion fortune to revive the neglected study of the liberal arts.

After its launch March last year, the Ramsay Centre sought expressions of interest from universities seeking to establish undergraduate degrees in Western civilisation based on the great books courses taught at top liberal arts colleges in the US.

ANU was the first university invited to enter detailed negotiations after the centre opened in March last year. It is understood the centre is hoping to announce a conditional agreement with a second university within months. Up to 100 scholarships could be established under deals with two or three universities over time.

While Mr Abbott in his Quadrant article ­published last month stressed Ramsay was not “oblivious to the deficiencies” of Western civilisation, his comment about the Ramsay Centre being “not merely about Western civilisation but in favour of it”, has ruffled some feathers.

Ramsay Centre chief executive Simon Haines yesterday defended the process. “The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is completely committed to academic freedom, integrity and independence,” he said. “University autonomy itself is a bastion of Western civilisation.”

Professor Haines declined to comment on the ANU negotiations or internal university ­matters.

An ANU spokeswoman said the university was not in a position to make an announcement on the outcome of negotiations. “The university has a long history of managing donations and gifts from a range of private and public donors,” the spokeswoman said.


IPA boss scoffs at Race Discrimination Commissioner’s ‘so-called achievements’

In his last 12 months in his $346,000-a-year role, Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has produced a report on cultural diversity in leadership roles, led a racism campaign supported by business and sport leaders, and held public forums on race relations.

Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam said it was a list of “so-called achievements” that demonstrated why the position should be scrapped.

“The so-called achievements of the commissioner are proof that the position is a waste of money and, worse, promotes divisive identity politics,” he said.

Fifty-three applicants have applied to replace Dr Soutphommasane, who was appointed in 2013 for a five-year term.

The IPA argued this week, in a parliamentary research brief sent to all federal MPs, the position should not be filled because it served “no substantive function” and is required to ­promote “divisive” ideas based on race.

Attorney-General Chris­tian Porter rejected calls to axe the position. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed next month, a Senate estimates hearing was told yesterday.

A spokesman for Dr Soutphommasane told The Australian his key achievements over the past year included the “Leading for Change” report, which highlighted the lack of cultural diversity in senior leadership roles, and leading the “Racism. It Stops with Me” campaign, which had more than 360 supporters from business, sport and other organisations.

He had also conducted regular forums on race relations and “opposed the growth of far-right nationalist extremism”.

Mr Roskam said the “Leading for Change” report encouraged “government-sanctioned ethnic apartheid”, while “far-right ­nationalist extremism” was an idea “confected” by Dr Soutphommasane.

The idea of a racial discrim­ination commissioner embedded the notion of difference, he said, rather than treating everyone equally, regardless of their race.

“The path­etic response of the Turnbull government to the idea (that) the position not be fulfilled reveals it is at best half-hearted about freedom of speech.”


EU to approve free-trade negotiations with Australia and NZ

After eight months of closed-door diplomacy, SBS News can reveal European Union leaders will tonight formally approve free-trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between Australia and New Zealand, paving the way for a multi-billion dollar deal before the United Kingdom leaves the EU in March.

Plans for “fast-tracked” FTA negotiations, revealed by SBS News, were announced by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg in September.

President Juncker expressed a desire to complete negotiations and secure a deal before the next European elections, which will take place in May, two months after Brexit.

While the European Commission had expected the European Council to greenlight talks before the end of last year, SBS News understands talks stalled at the leaders’ level after France, Ireland and Belgium raised concerns about “the reciprocity” of any agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron had urged his fellow European Union leaders not to rush free trade agreement negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, fearing a “free-trade stampede” would “wipe out” his country’s “struggling” agricultural sector.

Concerns were raised by other nations, because President Juncker’s fast-tracked plan would mean any final deal would not need the final approval of the European Union’s 38 separate national and regional parliaments.

Instead, the European Commission would be given the authority to agree the final terms of any deal.

The President – and his Commissioners – were said to be “incensed” after a multi-billion dollar free trade agreement with Canada was almost scuttled by regional parliamentarians in Belgium.

Earlier this month the French President visited Australia, where he was asked by a French journalist if it “was fair play” to delay FTA negotiations with Australia, given it had been awarded a $50 billion submarine deal – the largest defence procurement contract in Australian history.

“First of all, it is about protecting the French interests”, Mr Macron said on the lawn of Kirribilli House. “We’re not wasting any time, we're not lagging behind.  “France will be in favour of a negotiation mandate in the coming weeks, as soon as it is submitted to the (European) Council. They will have some very concrete discussions on agricultural issues.

“This is fully reassuring. This is also our vision of global trade, which has to be free and fair.

“I can say that both our countries do not consider trade war or tensions to be something in our interests or in the interests of our values so we very much want to comply with the spirit of multilateralism and free trade, to which we contributed to designing.”

Later today in Brussels the Foreign Affairs Council, chaired by Emil Karanikolov, the Bulgarian Minister of Economy, will formally adopt a decision “authorising the opening of negotiations on free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand” and agree “the respective negotiating directions for the Commission”.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo told SBS News he "looked forward to seeing the results out of Brussels" and that "hopefully, we’ll be able to commence FTA negotiations very soon".

“There’s a high level of commitment from both the Australian Government and the European Union to try and commence these negotiations,” he said.

“Importantly, we’ve completed the scoping study and in the next 24 or 48 hours we should see the results in terms of the European Union hopefully securing a mandate to commence FTA negotiations."

The European Union is Australia’s second-largest trading partner, worth close to $100 billion, and officials have spent decades trying to increase our access to the single market.

The sectors likely to benefit most from a free trade agreement include agriculture, motor equipment, machinery, chemical, processed foods and services.

“I’m a firm believer in keeping the horse in front of the cart, so you’ll understand I’m not going to get into a sector by sector analysis, what I will say is that we want to drive more trade and more investment with Europe,” Mr Ciobo said.

“We know that we can do that through a high quality, comprehensive free-trade agreement between the two of us and that’s what I’m focused on doing.”

Shadow Trade Minister Jason Clare welcomed news of the impending talks. “It’s great news for Australia”, Mr Clare told SBS News.

“We were hoping it was going to start last year, but if it’s starting now, that’s great.”

The Opposition has pledged a bipartisan approach to negotiations, should there be a federal election or change of government before the negotiations were completed.

“Both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party support free trade and support fair trade,” Mr Clare said. “We want to export as many of our goods and services as possible to the rest of the world because that’s what creates jobs here in Australia.”


Doing the numbers on renewable energy

Wind and solar are still currently small in global terms. Which is why advocates never mention absolute size or even relative size, but focus on growth rates. They also never talk about the wildlife impacts.

In Australia, there is little research on such matters, but some figures are coming in from the US. The Gibson paper cites estimates that wind farms are killing 600,000 to 880,000 bats a year, which now makes them the second biggest risk to bats behind White Nose Syndrome. Birds are also getting killed in large numbers, but not large enough to rate next to motor vehicles and transmission lines; unless you are a bird.

But intermittent renewables like wind and solar need a much bigger transmission network than traditional grids, so they will also increase the avian transmission line death and injury toll. How much bigger does the transmission network need to be for wind and solar? 5-10 times. And those 600,000+ bats killed annually in the US are being killed for a power source that generates just 6.3 percent of US electricity.

The Jacobson plan (see Part I or critique here) calls to expand the 82 GW of wind turbine capacity in the US to 2449 GW; so we can expect this to also cost 18 to 26 million dead bats a year. We can also expect the current wind farm toll of half a million birds annually, including 83,000 raptors, to rise by perhaps a factor of 32.

But all these animal and environmental problems wouldn’t be so bad if the technology could both provide a reliable grid while also solving our climate problem… but it can’t.

In Germany, solar power is still only about 6 percent of electricity, but is already stuck.

The following figure shows that solar power growth is levelling off in all the key European countries who spent big on subsidising solar growth. The German data for solar output in 2017 is available and is much the same as for 2016.

Some of this is due to simply running out of money. But the much bigger problem is structural. It doesn’t matter how cheap it is if you can’t sell it. Solar power output in Germany will certainly rise a little more, but it’s unlikely to pass its predicted maximum of about 11 percent of German electricity.

Prediction? What prediction? I don’t know who spotted it first, but this article contains a description of why intermittent renewables will tend to level of at around what’s called the capacity factor… 11 percent for solar power in Germany, and 16 percent for solar power in sunny Australia.

Why? Put briefly, and using wind power, as an example, when you have enough wind turbines to meet 100 percent of the electricity demand on windy days, then the incentive to build more turbines starts to decline. Why? Think about what will happen on windy days after you double the amount of wind power? You’ll simply have to throw half of your electricity out; you can’t sell it.

How much electricity will you get from wind over a year if you satisfy 100 percent of the demand on windy days? This number is called the capacity factor. It’s just the annual average output divided by the theoretical maximum if every day was maximally windy at all turbine locations. It’s about 33 percent, give or take a bit.

So without large amounts of storage, profitability ceases and growth gradually stops, rather like what you can see in the graph.

The largest battery in the world was recently installed with great fanfare in South Australia, but can it store large amounts of energy? No. That was never the intention; as an energy storage device, it’s tiny.

SA typically uses 1,500 megawatt-hours of energy each hour, and the battery could store about 4 minutes worth of this. The battery was never intended to store energy; that’s just a side effect. Its purpose is to reduce frequency fluctuations during generator outages. Not that it will do that particularly well either. ACOLA reckoned it would need to be 6 times bigger to have prevented the September 2016 blackout.

So it won’t store much energy and won’t be much use to stop blackouts; so what’s it for? As a means of securing votes from renewable energy junkies, it’s priceless.

The only available technology which can store significant amounts of electricity to allow renewables to expand beyond their capacity factor is… can you guess? … flooded valleys; otherwise known as pumped-hydro.

So while renewable advocates cheered early exponential growth of solar and wind power, the rates were always destined to be logistic… meaning that they grow exponentially until hit by limiting factors which cause an equally fast levelling off.

If I had included China in the graph, you’d see a massive solar increase during the past few years, because she’s still on the exponential growth segment of the curve. But the limiting factors will eventually kick in, exactly as they have done in the EU countries. In fact, at a local level throwing out excess wind power in China is already a problem.

A few years back AEMO did a study on how to meet Australia’s electricity demand with 100 percent renewable sources. They put forward two plans, both involved putting a baseload sub-system underneath wind and solar; one plan was based on burning forests and the other on geonuclear.

Geonuclear is where you drill a hole in the earth’s crust deep enough to tap into the heat generated by radioactive decay in the earth’s mantle and crust. You might know it as geothermal, but it’s a power source based on radioactive decay so why not call a spade a spade? And did I mention the radioactive material being bought to the surface and spread over the landscape by this industry?

Is it a problem? Absolutely not. Meaning that it is a well understood micro-problem which people solve in many similar industries. But could I construct a true but totally misleading scare story about it?

For some people, I probably just did. Not everybody appreciates the irony of opposition to digging big holes to drop radioactive material down (nuclear waste repositories) while supporting digging big holes down to where extraordinary quantities of radioactive material is generating heat.

And what if you don’t want burning forests or geonuclear? A recent study of the US showed what happens when you try and power the US with just wind, solar and storage. It quantifies the lack of end game with these technologies. It’s like trying to build a 10-story building with inadequate materials and design. Things may go brilliantly until level 9 and then you suddenly realise you are screwed.

The US electricity grid is currently about 99.97 reliable, ours is generally even better. The study found that that you can get an 80 per cent reliable grid with wind and solar without too much trouble. And then it starts getting hard; really quickly. By without too much trouble, I mean lots of overbuilding and extra transmission lines.

Look at the bottom graph, which assumes 75 per cent wind and 25 per cent solar. The black line shows how big an overbuild you need if you want a grid of specified reliability. The reliability is given along the X axis and the overbuild factor on the right.

Draw a horizontal line with your eyes from the overbuild factor of 10 and see where it hits the black line. Somewhere about 99.8 percent reliability. So if you want a 99.8 percent reliable supply of 1 gigawatt, then you need to build 7.5 gigawatts of wind and 2.5 gigawatts of solar.

This is very much an optimistic estimate. There are plenty of unrealistic assumptions here, like a perfect transmission system and all your turbines in the best spots. It’s the best you can do; it’s just that the best isn’t really very good.

Now draw a horizontal line with your eyes from the overbuild factor of 5 to the 12 hour storage line. This shows that you can get a 96 per cent reliable supply of 1 gigawatt by building 3.75 GW of wind and 1.25 GW of solar if you have 12 gigwatt-hours of storage.

You’d have to repeat the study with Australian data to see what happens here, but it’s worth thinking about what 12 hours of storage looks like. In Australia, our average power use is about 28 gigawatts, so to store 12 hours worth of energy would require about 3,100 of those ‘biggest battery in the world’ devices in South Australia. There are plenty of other tiny storage systems that it’s fun to pretend might one day scale to the sizes required, but only flooded valleys have a proven track record.

As it happens, someone has done a very similar study using Australian data. The recently released ACF report A Plan to Repowe Australia lists the study (by Manfred Lenzen of UNSW and others) among its evidence base. It finds pretty much what the US study found; namely that you could power Australia, meaning supply our 28 gigawatts worth of demand) with wind, sun and storage and all you’d need to do is build 160 gigawatts worth of wind and solar farms, including 19 gigawatts worth of biomass burning backup.

A one gigawatt power plant is a large structure, whether it’s burning wood, coal or gas. The 19 biomass burners would be doing nothing for 90 percent of the time, but we’d need them just to plug the holes when there are low wind and sunshine periods. Oh, and they also postulate 15 hours of storage for the 61 gigawatts of solar farms.

How would this be provided? The main paper didn’t say, and I didn’t buy the Supplementary material. But you could do it with about 8,000 “biggest battery in the world” Li-ion batteries. Alternatively you could use fertiliser; otherwise known as molten salt. This is a mix of sodium and potassium nitrate. All you’d need would be about 26 million tonnes, which is over 8 years worth of the entire planet’s annual global production (see here and here); all of which is currently ear marked to grow food.

In South Australia, our wind energy supplies us with a little over the capacity factor percentage of energy; which means we are starting to throw away electricity when it’s windy, while relying on gas or coal power from Victoria when it isn’t.

Which is why the new Liberal Government wants to build another inter-connector. That’s fine as a short-term fix, but eventually the whole NEM will saturate with wind and solar. And then where do you build an inter-connector to?

The statewide blackout of 2016 was also a wakeup call that the automatic frequency control delivered by synchronous energy sources but not by wind and solar actually mattered; big time. Without it you are in trouble when events of any kind take out some of your generation capacity.

But ignoring the problems and assuming the US results apply, then we could surely plough on and build another 6.5 times more wind power plus considerably more solar and also buy another 180 of those Elon Musk special batteries and we could have a working, but sub-standard, grid.

This assumes we added all the rest of the required transmission infrastructure to connect all those wind and solar farms. That’s the thing with solar and wind. It may seem attractive when you kick the problems down the road and rave about the short-term successes. But the devil is in the detail and the total lack of end-game.

SOURCE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

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, 2018

Now the nanny state wants control of YOUR chocolate bar: Calls for graphic tobacco-style warnings on junk food - with claims 80% of Aussies will be overweight by 2025

Just a small problem:  How do we decide what is "junk" and what is not?  A big Mac was once said to be junk because it contained fat.  But fat is now said to be good for you. A big Mac may be unprestigious but there is no certainty that it is bad for you.  Its bad name seems just pure snobbery

There are calls for graphic warnings, similar to those on cigarette packets, to be introduced on junk food packaging to fight skyrocketing obesity rates.

Health experts want graphic images including fat-covered hearts, to be branded across junk foods after it was revealed 80 per cent of Australians would be overweight by 2025 if drastic action wasn't taken.

The call comes after a study found images like fatty hearts or decayed teeth displayed on packaging would successfully deter someone from making unhealthy choices.

Speaking on Sunrise on Thursday, commentator and lecturer Jane Caro supported the idea. 'It would literally put you off your food,' she said. 'It's proved very effective with [cigarettes] it's something we should look at with junk food.

'I think all of society has to come together and make junk food as socially unacceptable as cigarettes have become.'

Melbourne's 3AW presenter Tom Elliott disagreed. 'Can you imagine going to a kids party and having to display all these pictures of diseased organs?' he said. 'If you have it on junk food how do you separate it from kids and adults. 'If it's up there at a Maccas and kids are being taken to Maccas, kids are not going to enjoy the experience too much.'

The University of Melbourne and Cancer Council Victoria study, which was published on Thursday, found negative text combined with explicit images, was twice as effective at sending a message, than negative text without the image.

For the study, 95 hungry participants were shown colour pictures of 50 different snack foods ranging from chips, chocolate bars and biscuits to nuts, fruits and vegetables.

They were asked to rate on a scale how much they would like to eat each food at the end of the experiment.

In addition, participants' brain activity was monitored with electrodes attached to their heads.

The results revealed the warning labels prompted participants to exercise more self-control rather than act on impulse.

'The study shows that if you want to stop people choosing fatty and sugary packaged foods, health warnings actually work,' said study co-author, Dr Stefan Bode.

'It sheds light on the mechanisms in the brain that underlie the effects of health warning messages on food processing,' Dr Bode said.

Cancer Council Victoria behavioural researcher Dr Helen Dixon said the graphic images worked because they 'disrupt' the strong cues - like taste - that images of junk foods elicit. This then allows a person to consciously consider the health implications of their food choices, she explained.

Obesity Policy Coalition executive director Jane Martin says the use of packaging should be used for good, not for bad. 'This research demonstrates that powerful, relevant information on food packaging can influence people and push them away from junk food,' said Ms Martin.

'Poor diets and being above a healthy weight are risk factors for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. To address this Australia needs a comprehensive strategy, which should consider improved labelling,' she said.

The public health advocates have called on the government to make the graphic labelling mandatory, as part of the revised Health Star Rating System.


Is Bill Shorten going to bring back the boats? Labor leader under pressure to bring 1,341 asylum seekers being held offshore to Australia within 90 DAYS if he's elected PM

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is under pressure from his own party to bring more than 1,300 asylum seekers to Australia within three months if Labor wins the next federal election.

A pro-refugee group from his own Victorian branch is demanding an end to offshore immigration detention, despite such a policy causing a dramatic surge in boat arrivals when Labor was last in government and the deaths of 48 people at Christmas Island.

The motion, revealed by the Guardian Australia, called on a Labor government to 'close offshore detention centres, transit centres and other camps on Manus and Nauru within the first 90 days, and to bring all the children, women and men who are refugees or seeking asylum remaining there to Australia'.

The cross-factional Labor for Refugees group within Mr Shorten's party is putting forward an urgency motion at this weekend's Victorian conference calling for all remaining asylum seekers to be transported to the Australian mainland within three months.

The activists are demanding an end to the detention of asylum seekers at Christmas Island, Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific island of Nauru, which would see 1,341 boat people brought to Australia.

However Bill Shorten said Labor was committed to offshore detention and clarified that state conference motions on border protection weren't binding on national policy.

'Labor's policy on asylum seekers is clear – we will never let the people smugglers back in business,' a spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia today.

'Labor believes in strong borders, offshore processing, regional resettlement and turnbacks when safe to do so because we know it saves lives at seas. 'Resettlement in Australia for those on Manus and Nauru is not an option.'

When Labor last won an election from Opposition a decade ago, it immediately ended the Howard government's Pacific solution.

This led to a surge in boat arrivals, rising from just three in the 2007/08 financial year, to 117 in 2009/10.

Or put another way, the number of asylum seekers surged from 25 to 5,327, figures from a Parliament House research paper showed.

The policy change also coincided with the deaths of 48 people, mainly asylum seekers from Iran and Iraq, as their boat sunk and washed on to cliffs at Christmas Island in December 2010.

Former federal Labor leader Mark Latham described the Labor for Refugees motion as a 'sickness inside Labor'. 'Labor For Refugees want to repeat all these errors, all those deaths,' he told his 64,892 followers on Wednesday.

'It's a tragic example of people losing their marbles in life, blindly putting ideology, a borderless world, ahead of practical policy lessons and common sense.'

The surge of boat arrivals in 2012 led to then Labor prime minister Julia Gillard reopening the Manus Island detention centre.

Since then, seven asylum seekers have died there, including a Rohingya refugee this week.

Ms Gillard's Labor predecessor Kevin Rudd took back his old job in a party room coup in 2013 and soon declared boat people sent to Manus Island would have 'no chance' of ever being settled in Australia.

Department of Home Affairs data shows there were 330 asylum seekers detained at Christmas Island and 269 at Nauru as of March 31, 2018.

It listed a zero figure for Manus Island, however that was because the detention centre there, which previously housed 742 people, was closed down with its residents transferred to the nearby, low-security Lorengau facility.

Were Labor for Refugees motion to become government policy, 1,341 asylum seekers would be brought to Australia.

The Australian mainland is already housing 1,059 asylum seekers, including 101 in Bill Shorten's own Melbourne electorate of Maribyrnong.


Pauline Hanson claims immigrants are forming 'dangerous ghettos' in Sydney - after Labor leader said white families have been forced to leave a suburb that took in 6000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees

Pauline Hanson says immigrants are forming ghettos in parts of Australia and the situation is becoming so bad there will be 'no-go zones' that even the police will avoid.

Appearing on the Today show on Thursday, the One Nation Party leader praised New South Wales Opposition leader Luke Foley for starting a conversation on the 'white flight' from parts of Sydney.

Mr Foley said on Wednesday white families were being forced out of western Sydney suburbs, such as Fairfield, after it took in 6000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

'I've been saying this and I said it 20 years ago. I said there'll be places in Australia that we won't even recognise as being Australian,' Senator Hanson said.

'I said they're forming ghettos and that is exactly what is happening and people are starting to talk about it.'

Senator Hanson again backed the NSW Opposition leader, and claimed 'people are forced out of their homes that they grew up in'. 'They don't want to live in these suburbs anymore because [immigrants] are not assimilating,' she said.

Senator Hanson warned the situation would only become more extreme as the Australian government accepted more immigrants.

'There'll be ghettos here, and there'll be places like there are in France and Sweden and other countries around the world that will be no-go zones,' she said.

'We won't even go in those places, the police will be told not to go in those zones. Even now, the police don't want to go in those areas. 'Good on Luke Foley, because it needs to be debated.'

Senator Hanson acknowledged it was a sensitive subject, but said it was an important conversation people needed to stop tip-toeing around.

'Let the people have their say. Stop shutting us down because the lefties believe that you're offending people,' Senator Hanson said

Mr Foley said on Wednesday he was particularly concerned about Sydney's south-west suburbs taking in a disproportionate number of refugees and forcing white Australians out.

'It's all right to come up with a grand gesture of we'll take 10,000 Syrian or Iraqi refugees but where's the practical assistance?' he told The Daily Telegraph.

'I'm saying, what about that middle ring of suburbs that have experienced, if anything, just a slow decline. In terms of employment, in terms of white flight - where many Anglo families have moved out?'

'I'm not prepared to see the people of those suburbs denied opportunities that are taken for granted elsewhere.'

In January, it was announced at least half of the 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees coming to Australia would be settled in Fairfield City Council, a trouble-prone area with nine per cent unemployment and high levels of drug use. 

Fairfield and the surrounding area is home to more than 200,000 people, many from non-English speaking backgrounds. Fairfield has settled 75 per cent of the Syrian and Iraqi refugees moving to western Sydney.

One of the fastest growing areas in Australia is Cobbitty-Leppington in Sydney's south-west, due to high immigration. Iraqi-born residents make up more than a third of the recent arrivals, which is more than 10 times the Sydney average of three per cent.


Sexism? Medical clinic comes under fire for charging patients an EXTRA $7 to see a female GP

Patients have been left outraged after a medical centre charged MORE money for them to see female GPs.

The Melbourne clinic, Myhealth North Eltham, has come under scrutiny after it was found charging patients more for standard consultations with female GPs than it does for a consultation with male GPs.

A sign displayed in the clinic showed the discriminatory pricing policy - and it's attracted criticism online.  

The photograph was uploaded to Twitter with the caption: 'This is so f***ed. My friend goes to Eltham North Clinic in #Victoria, and they've just instituted extra fees for female doctors because "women's issues take longer". Surely this is illegal ... if it's not illegal, it's still outrageously sexist.'

The post was shared online by the user's followers, who also vented their anger.

One user said: 'If you're asking people who are paid 30 per cent less to fill that 30 per cent wage gap, it doesn't help. It means even greater financial inequality for those at the bottom.'

Another added: 'I don't think this is the scandal you think it is. I'd pay more to see a female colleague knowing they get ~30% less take home pay than their male counterparts. On top of fewer opportunities, and institutional/societal sexism.'

According to Fairfax, Federal Health Minister Greg is calling for an urgent investigation of the matter.

Kristen Hilton, Victoria's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner told The Guardian, the Melbourne clinic may be breaking the law and it can be considered discriminatory for charging patients more to see female GPs.

'It is against the law for doctors to treat someone unfavourably because of their gender,' Ms Hilton said.


Claims emerge that a mass exodus is afoot at 2Day FM with staff refusing to work with controversial feminist host

Tensions at Sydney radio station 2Day FM are reportedly reaching 'breaking point' after an insider claimed that people just 'can't work' with host Em Rusciano.

The Daily Telegraph reported that 'several people' had departed the show while others were seeking new employment.

A source told the publication: 'Things are at breaking point, people just cannot work with her [Em's] energy. There have been... casualties at the hands of Em Rusciano.' 

The insider added: 'The audio producer is now working on another show, the publicist is refusing to work with her and one of the producers has told the company that they are looking for other work.'

Meanwhile, Em's previous co-host Harley Breen departed the show last November following just one year on air.

The comedian herself has spoken out about the changes at 2Day FM.  Talking to Wil Anderson on his podcast last week, Em expressed her frustrations at the radio station.  Em, 39, claimed the breakfast program was 'her show' and that she has 'taken all these big ego hits' since new co-hosts Ed Kavalee and Grant Den­yer were brought in at the beginning of the year.

She said: 'It was hectic. It was the Em Rusciano Radio Show - it was my show! 'And then all of a sudden Ed's anchoring and the show's called "The 2Day FM Breakfast Show."'

The mother-of-two confessed she was 'hurtling towards an implosion in the next six months' and said the solution to her problems could be to 'leave' morning radio for good. 'I don't think I'm suited to breakfast radio - I struggle with it,' Em added.


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, 2018

"Righteous" critics of a reasonable statement

In the age of Twitter, you must emote appropriately.  A plea for balance is not possible amid grief

Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman is standing by a series of tweets he made about police "creating total and utter chaos" around the Brisbane CBD when responding to a pedestrian hit and killed by a bus this morning.

A woman was crossing Ann Street near the intersection of Wharf Street just before 7:00am when she was struck by a bus. She died at the scene.

Police closed the intersection for hours and asked motorists to avoid the area.

In response, Mr Newman shot out a series of tweets, saying police could have handled the situation better to minimise traffic disruptions:

"There must be a better way for the Qld Police to deal with a tragic pedestrian death than to shut down the entire northern side of Brisbane and create total and utter chaos extending more than 5 km from the CBD."

"And for those of you who don't agree, what about the surgeons and doctors who didn't get to the hospitals on time, the cancer patients who were heading for treatment, the kids who had exams, the people who missed job interviews etc. etc.

 Gee. What would they say if someone had died in the back of an ambulance this morning that had been injured in an incident elsewhere but couldn't get to the RBH in time due to the traffic? Let's stick to the point rather than name calling and invective"

They were quick to attract criticism.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Newman's criticism was uncalled for. "Someone has lost their life, a family will be grieving tonight and I think it's very sad to hear that Campbell Newman has come out and criticised police," Ms Palaszczuk said. "The police have to undertake an investigation as quickly as they can where that event occurred."

Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan said police took appropriate action at the scene.  "I must say that I was appalled by comments made by former premier and former Brisbane lord mayor Campbell Newman about the police management of traffic while they were taking the necessary steps to investigate and respond to this morning's tragedy," Mr Ryan said.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington also voiced her disappointment at the comments made by her party's former leader. 

Speaking to the ABC, Mr Newman said he stood by his tweets, that he recognised the tragedy of the situation, but there was a need to examine if there was a better way of handling such incidents.

Mr Newman said police needed to consider the potential danger of delaying medical staff on other urgent tasks elsewhere in the city. He said if he were still premier, he would have invited the Police Minister and Police Commissioner to his office to discuss the matter.

A Queensland Police Service (QPS) spokesman said it handled the scene of Tuesday morning's fatality by the book. "It is standard procedure to close a road where a fatality has occurred while investigators from the Forensic Crash Unit conduct thorough scene examinations without interference from traffic," the spokesman said. "The QPS is also conscious of ensuring scenes of fatalities are managed with dignity and respect for the victims and their families.

"On this occasion, a traffic alert was issued to the public within minutes of the incident and local diversions were put in place while the intersection was closed to traffic for two hours."


'Lucy Turnbull has a way of life most people don't': Pauline Hanson slams the Prime Minister's wife for 'out of touch' comments that Sydney has plenty of room for more immigrants

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has slammed Lucy Turnbull for saying Sydney is far from full.

Speaking in a television interview on Tuesday night Ms Hanson said the Prime Minister's wife has a standard of living and way of life many Australians don't.

The Queensland senator said Mrs Turnbull, head of the Greater Sydney Commission, is out of touch and unable to judge whether the city can accept more immigrants.

'I don't think she's in a position to say whether Sydney is full or not full, Ms Hanson told Alan Jones on Sky News.  'For Lucy to say "Oh, Sydney can take more people" you might have your standard of living Lucy ... she's got her way of life, many many Australians don't have that.'

Ms Hanson, who sensationally withdrew her support for the government's corporate tax plan earlier this week, said people are 'screaming' for immigration to be halted.

On Tuesday Mrs Turnbull, former Lord Mayor of Sydney, told The Daily Telegraph the city is far from full, while discussing the commission's recommendations.

Social media users backed Ms Hanson's comments, bringing up Mrs Turnbull's multi-million dollar mansion in exclusive Sydney suburb of Point Piper. 'Lucy needs to venture out of that harbourside abode of hers and see what's happening in the real world,' said one Twitter user. 'Her husband's high-immigration program is overloading and trashing our major cities.'

'Point Piper's not full. Plenty of room for a refugee camp,' said another.

Callers to talkback radio agreed, flooding an open line to slam Mrs Turnbull's comments on 2GB.

'With all due respect Mrs Turnbull, it mightn't be full at Point Piper, but come to south-west and western Sydney and you'll see it's more than full,' said one caller.

'But let me tell you, and it's an open invitation to you Lucy, I'll chauffeur you around.' 'I'll show you the explosion of many high-rise apartments, particularly in my area in north-western Sydney, which are unwanted,' said another.

Mr and Mrs Turnbull bought one harbourside property for $5.4million in 1994, and purchased a neighbouring home for $7.1million five years later. They used the second purchase to expand the waterfrontage of the first property - now estimated to be worth tens of millions - and sold the rest for $13million.

Mr Turnbull's net worth was estimated to be over $200million dollars in 2015.


Bringing a new meaning to nanny state: Primary teachers forced to answer 1,000 questions about their students' progress every five weeks so school's can assess their 'feelings and needs'

Teachers are being made to fill in over 1,000 questions about the progress of their students every five weeks under a new system that will assess how children 'express feelings and needs.'

The new Assessing Literacy and Numeracy (ALAN) program is 'over the top,' according to NSW Primary Principals Association executive Rob Walker.

Mr Walker told the Daily Telegraph some schools had been forced to hire relief teachers just to enter data.

The process involves grading every K-2 child on 791 literacy and 307 numeracy indicators every five weeks.

A spokesperson for the program said it will 'help track students movement along the literacy and numeracy continuum.'

Teachers will need to fill out an online form marking each child on listening, speaking phonics, grammar punctuation and interaction.

The Assessing Literacy and Numeracy program is being implemented at 661 schools across NSW this year.

The questionnaire software, called PLAN 2, will be available to all teachers by the end of 2018.

A spokesperson for Education Minister Stokes said PLAN 2 is just one way the department is hoping to improve the learning experience.

'The Department is always looking at better ways to help students and support teachers,' the spokesperson said.


'Just work a little bit harder': Liberal politician is heckled by an ABC audience for calling on women to stop being 'bitter' about not being promoted at work

A female politician was heckled by an ABC studio audience for declaring women needed to work harder and stop being bitter if they had failed to get promoted in the workplace.

First-term Victorian Liberal senator Jane Hume told the Q&A program that women, being half of the population, needed to stop thinking of themselves as a minority.

'I really dislike being patronised as if I am a minority,' she said.

The 47-year-old Melbourne-based senator, who is opposed to gender quotas, stirred up the Monday night audience when she suggested women needed to get by on their abilities instead of demanding special treatment. 'We are capable of anything but we are entitled to nothing,' she said.

'We have to work for what we want and for women that don't get there, the trick is work that little bit harder.

'Don't get bitter, get better. Work hard. Nothing that is worth getting doesn't come without hard work.'

Senator Hume's call for women to work harder antagonised the Q&A audience, where 41 per cent of the studio spectators identified as either Labor or Greens voters, compared with 32 per cent who declared themselves as Liberal or Nationals supporters.

The panel discussion took a tense turn when Senator Hume, a former banker, suggested an African schoolgirl in the audience from Melbourne's western suburbs, Sarah Ador Loi, could get ahead if she joined the Liberal Party and was mentored.

Macquarie University research fellow Randa Abdel-Fattah hit back by referencing the senator's skin colour. 'Spoken like a white, female politician,' she said as she sipped on a glass of water.

The Muslim academic, who grew up in Melbourne, suggested Sarah would not have the same connections to become a politician as someone who came from the wealthy suburb of Toorak.

The discussion had also focused on how just 21 per cent of federal Liberal Party politicians were women, compared with 44 per cent in the Labor Party, which has had gender targets since the mid-1990s.


Commuters are ditching public transport and choosing to drive to work because their travel times are DOUBLING as Sydney struggles to cope with population growth

Sydneysiders are spending almost twice as long on public transport as commuters living in bustling cities like San Francisco and Madrid, a new report has revealed.

Urban growth experts claim the city is approaching a tipping point where fed up residents will boycott public transport and further clog up roads by driving to work. 

International urban expert Professor Greg Clark, who authored the report, said the problem was made worse by Sydney's inability to cope with population growth.

'Public transport is struggling with capacity as passenger demand from new developments around train stations increases,' Professor Greaves told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'Sydney's population is growing at a higher rate than many other global cities and we're playing catch up.'

The report found that Sydney's commute times are well above what is normal for the population.

It also found Sydney's brand didn't reflect the reality with the city performing lower than its reputation in about 300 benchmarks.

The city is fragmented by over 30 local councils which was identified as contributing to the issues with other cities such as Totonto, Copenhagen, and even Brisbane having more efficient larger centralised governing bodies.

Property Council of NSW executive director Jane Fitzgerald said Sydney is not operating as well as it could be.

'We need to get our planning and city policies right to ensure we don't fall behind comparable cities across the world,' she said.

When all performance benchmarks were taken into account Sydney ranked 13th in the report, Melbourne 20th, and Brisbane ranked 40th.

Coming in at the top of the best performing cities across the 300 benchmarks were London, Singapore, Paris and New York.


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, 2018

Birds are dropping dead off Australia's coast, and it's all our fault (?)

There is no doubt of the problem but its real cause is getting the Nelson's telescope treatment.  The marine plastic debris does NOT come from developed countries such as Australia.  Such countries have efficient waste collection systems (garbage trucks) which take the waste to a place where it can be dissposed of responsibly. So the debris is not from Western countries.  It comes from AFRICA and ASIA -- where people dispose of their rubbish by tossing it into their local river -- whence it flows to sea.

But reforming Africans and Asians is "too hard" so the do-gooders pretend that the problem is where it is not.  To admit its real source would be politically incorrect.

If they could bear for any length of time to admit reality, they MIGHT be able to do something useful for the problem -- putting garbage collection barriers across the mouths of the major African and Asian rivers.  But that would be too practical, of course.  Much more attractive to go around finger-pointing and criticizing your own society.

Deep in their burrows, hungry shearwater chicks on Lord Howe Island await a meal. Their parents have been scouring the sea in search of fish and squid. Instead, they return to feed their babies clothes pegs, bottle tops and Lego pieces.

The flesh-footed sheerwater population at Lord Howe Island is dwindling due to a tidal wave of marine plastic being mistaken for food.

After 90 days the fledglings emerge from their burrows, stomachs bulging with plastic. They prepare for their first flight. Many are so malnourished they die outside the nest. Others make it to the beach, but their undeveloped wings flap in vain and waves engulf them.

Ian Hutton, a naturalist and museum curator on Lord Howe Island, pulls the bodies off the beach. Researchers slice open their stomachs to confirm the cause of death. Once, they found 274 plastic fragments.

“It’s so upsetting to think this bird has been reared by its parents, it’s been fed and it should have a chance to go to sea but it’s died,” he said.

‘When you cut the stomach open and pull out the plastic, some people actually cry when they see it.”

The flesh-footed shearwaters embody what the United Nations has called a “planetary crisis” posed by an unremitting tide of marine plastic.

In the few decades since mass production began in the 1950s, plastic waste is overwhelming rivers and oceans – tossed into waterways, carried by stormwater and winds, and lost overboard from boats.

In Australia 1.5 million tonnes of plastic were used in the year to June 2013 - about 65 kilograms for each person. Only 20 per cent was recycled [The rest went to a proper tip]

Brisbane City Council this week committed to banning plastic straws, single-use plastic bottles and helium balloons from all council events. Environmentalists say other federal, state and local governments can do much more.

University of Tasmania marine eco-toxicologist Jennifer Lavers said the birds “are not picky eaters” and easily tricked by ocean plastic. She said the birds’ numbers are declining due to a range of pressures.

NSW Greens MP Justin Field, who travelled to Lord Howe Island this month, said single-use plastic items such as straws or utensils were often unnecessary and could be limited through stronger regulation.

“It is going to require much more than a recycling mentality. It might even include banning single-use plastics,” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago that food courts had ceramic plates and stainless steel knives and forks. We need to return to that type of thinking.”

A Senate report in 2016 presented 23 recommendations, including developing alternatives to plastic packaging and urgently putting marine plastic pollution on the Council of Australian Government agenda.

The federal government has not responded to the report. It is developing a threat abatement plan to reduce the impact of debris on marine life – a draft version of which Mr Angel described as “unbelievably weak”.

A NSW Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said the government’s Return and Earn scheme will help meet the state goal of reducing litter volumes by 40 percent by 2020, and 320 million drink containers had so far been returned.

Most major supermarkets will voluntarily phase out lightweight plastic shopping bags this year and NSW was taking part in a national microbead phase-out. The mass release of gas filled balloons is against the law in NSW.

The federal Department of the Environment and Energy said a recent meeting of environment ministers agreed all Australian packaging should be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 or earlier, that Australia’s recycling capabilities be increased and waste reduction be encouraged through consumer awareness, education and industry leadership. A national waste policy will be updated this year and government agencies will prioritise projects that convert waste to energy.


Elsternwick Primary School in Victoria fenced off an old  tractor in the playground as a health and safety risk to children

A school has caused outrage by banning children from a playground tractor. Elsternwick Primary School in Victoria fenced off the tractor because it was deemed 'too dangerous' and posed a health and safety risk to children.

One father Glenn Riseley protested by posting a picture of his son playing on the tractor to Facebook. He wrote: 'Just asked my son why there's a fence around this old playground tractor? 'Apparently some bureaucrats with cardigans and clipboards and diplomas in clipboard management did a 'safety audit' and deemed it too risky... so it has to be removed.

He added: 'It seems the biggest risks to children these days are lack of physical activity, excessive screen time, poor nutrition and an alarming epidemic of type 2 diabetes, online bullying and mental health issues. None of which are connected to cemented in old red tractors.'

Commenters on his post agreed. One wrote: 'World gone made' while another said: 'Growing up on a farm and riding in dad's rusty Bedford truck was the highlight of my childhood.'

Mr Riseley told Daily Mail Australia: 'The lad on the tractor is Oscar. He’s four years old. He starts at Elsternwick primary school next year. His older brother is already there. Sadly the tractor won’t be when he starts.

'It's not the school's fault - Some overpaid public servants with too much time on their hands I suspect.'


Australia needs to fix its hospitality reputation before infrastructure boom

WORKING weekends and public holidays for slashed penalty rates and increasingly disinterested customers has turned Australia’s hospitality industry into a place where not many people want a job anymore.

Across Australia’s cities and especially in the nation’s regional towns, the hospitality industry is on the brink of a crisis.

Most young people dip their toe into the waters of hospitality for jobs while studying.  But even as a stepping stone, fewer and fewer young people are embracing hospitality.

The industry now has a 28 per cent vacancy rate, according to findings from Edith Cowan University lecturer Dr Edmund Goh, as older people retire and the younger generation refuse to fill the vacancies.

Previous studies on past generations, cited by Dr Goh, found high turnover patterns were “a major human resource problem in this dynamic industry”.

A 2017 survey from hospitality software provider Impos also found more than half the businesses it spoke to had difficulty hiring and retaining staff.

While young people continue to reject hospitality as a viable industry, the nation keeps growing, attracting tourists and building the infrastructure to complement that.

In Brisbane alone, projects along the city’s river, including at Queen’s Wharf and Howard Smith Wharves and the proposed concert venue Brisbane Live, will guarantee thousands of new jobs — most of which will fall into the tourism and hospitality sector.

The tourism infrastructure is great news for the Queensland capital — but bad news when its locals won’t want to be the ones servicing the new tourist hubs.

The Brisbane revitalisation is expected to create a whopping 9000 more jobs over the next two years.

In a bid to find answers to Australia’s growing gap between the tourism boom and a lack of people to pick up the jobs that go with it, Brisbane hosted the World Tourism Forum.

The forum’s chief executive Martin Barth told the Brisbane Timesthe answer lies in making hospitality “sexy” again. “The image of working within the tourism industry has changed,” he said.

“A poor salary and long hours may be right, but there are also business and international opportunities, so let’s tell that story and show the world how interesting the industry is.

“It’s not just long hours and weekends, let’s see what is important to the young generation and see what we need to do to make it sexy and attractive for them.”

Listening to the complaints of marginalised and underpaid workers might hold the key.

Maddy McCormack, who has worked in the hospitality industry for six years including at restaurants in NSW and Victoria, said getting “screwed over” in the industry was a given.

“I don’t get paid penalty rates and the only time I received some extra pay was because when I was told I was working Anzac Day, I asked my boss, ‘What will my public holiday rates be?’” she told “She said she’d check with her bookkeeper and I was paid a few extra dollars per hour. I don’t know if anyone else got the same.

“On Mother’s Day we all worked 12 hours straight because we had tables coming in all day — no break or time to stop and eat something.

“Sometimes on a weekend, they’ll pay you your pay for the week even when you’re still working. How can they clock me out when I’m still working?”

The Melbourne uni student, who currently works at a Middle Eastern restaurant in the city, said workers’ tips were also a big issue. “Sometimes I’ll be paid a little bit extra, if tips are like $37 for everyone they will pay you $40 or something.

“When I used to work at a pizza restaurant it was similar, we’d share our tips and they’d all go into a tip jar and once every blue moon you’d see an envelope with some cash in it. Often they’d use it to buy things we needed or breakages in the restaurant and stuff,” she said.

And in February last year, hospitality’s depressing reputation wasn’t helped when the Fair Work Commission decided to slash Sunday penalty rates.

Full-time and part-time hospitality workers had Sunday rates slashed from 175 per cent to 150 per cent. Sunday rates for casuals remained at 175 per cent.

Full-time and part-time fast-food workers had their Sunday rates cut from 150 per cent to 125 per cent.


Q&A: ‘The royal wedding has killed off the idea of Australia becoming a republic’

THE ROYAL wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was one of the most watched televised events in the world’s history.

But what was it about this real-life fairytale that captivated some two billion people around the globe and 2.5 million Australians?

It was a topic that the ABC’s Q&A panel discussed on Monday night’s program, prompting fierce debate about whether or not the couple’s undeniable popularity signalled a collective desire for Australia to shun the notion of becoming a republic once and for all.

Panellist from The Australian, foreign affairs editor Greg Sheridan, described the royal wedding as “genius PR by the British royal family” because it had greatly improved its public image.

“I’m sure Harry loves Meghan and Meghan loves Harry, but this was a strategic marriage,” Mr Sheridan said. “It makes the monarchy multicultural, hip, and suddenly people of colour can identify with the royal family.”

Victoria Liberal party senator Jane Hume said she was initially concerned about the wedding “turning into a bit of a circus” because of the “Markle debacle” that plagued the family in the lead up to Saturday’s ceremony. But her fears were soon allayed.

“I was really proud and had a little tear in my eye, along with most Australians, on Saturday night,” Ms Hume said.

“I was watching it and the football at the same time. I love the fact Harry and Meghan do tend to bring a more contemporary edge to the monarchy and make it more relevant for young people.

“They feel more accessible and more approachable. I think they take their humanitarian work very seriously. It’s a terrific addition to the monarchy.” It was a sentiment echoed by thousands of Australians who declared their admiration for the royals on social media while watching the royal wedding.

But according to Ms Hume, intense interest in the royal wedding did not equate to the concept of Australia becoming a republic having been “killed off”. “I think it’s an entirely separate issue and an awful lot of republicans were watching. Had a tear in their eye,” she said. “I think you could have enjoyed the royal wedding without being a monarchist.”

Opposition minister for ageing and mental health, Julie Collins said Australia was a “free and independent country” and should have its own head of state. “I’ve always believed that,” she said.

“The royal wedding hasn’t changed my mind and I don’t think it will change many other Australians minds. “[The royals aren’t] relevant to Australia anymore. Yes, it was a lovely wedding. Yes, they’re clearly in love.”

Author and academic Randa Abdel-Fattah was less sentimental. She told the panel that the monarchy represented “an institution of imperialism and racism”.

“It has been enriched by that: by corruption, imperialism, racism, slavery and for me it’s not just suddenly we have a bi-racial bride and that diversity politics erases the history of that institution,” she said.

“For me, we need to be critical and we shouldn’t lose our critical eye when we look at these things and not be seduced by the pomp and ceremony and recognise what this institution stands for.”

Ms Abdel-Fattah said that royal wedding enthusiasts had their priorities askew. “The fact that homeless people were taken away from the streets [and] the Grenfell fire people have not been compensated: These are the real issues,” she said.

“Not what Meghan was wearing and whether or not she’s now reformed an institution that is sick at its core.”

Last week, University of Sydney researcher Luke Mansillo — who has analysed trends in Australia’s sometimes wavering support for the royal family during the past few decades — said the royal wedding was expected to provide the monarchy with a popularity boost.

Based on research he had published in 2016, Mr Mansillo found support for the monarchy in Australia began to wane in the 1960s and crashed to a low about the time of the republic referendum in 1999.

However, since then, there’s been a slow but steady improvement aided in part by events including Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011 and the births of their three children.

“Events such as royal weddings contribute to improvements as people get to witness the grandeur, the splendour, the pomp and ceremony and this self legitimises the institution,” Mr Mansillo said.

“After Kate and William’s wedding I found that there was a pretty big bump in the number of people who saw that royalty was important, a seven to eight per cent increase in how many people who thought that what these people do for Australia is important.” Mr Mansillo’s research, published in the Australian Journal of Political Science, found support in Australia for the monarchy hit its lowest point about the turn of the century.

During the 1990s, the royals were rocked by scandals leading up to the 1996 divorces of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

It was also the decade that debate about Australia becoming a republic ramped up before the 1999 referendum.

At the same time, there was a sharp dip in support among Australians for retaining the monarchy and those who believed the Queen was important, Mr Mansillo’s research found.

However, that fall in support bottomed out about 2001 and 2002 and has risen steadily ever since.

Mr Mansillo attributed that to many young Australians, particularly Generation Y, having no memory of the royal scandals of the 1990s.

“And because we don’t have royal scandals (the Australian Republican Movement’s national chair) Peter FitzSimons can’t get up and complain about it with a really, really big megaphone,” he said.

“So there’s fewer bad media images and stories about the royals coming out from London and more good stories which make it very difficult to campaign against.” The most recent Newspoll on support for an Australian republic, published in April, found support for the monarchy was at 41 per cent — its highest level in 18 years.

Fifty per cent said they wanted a republic, with nine per cent uncommitted.

Addressing the Q&A panel on Monday night, philosopher Peter Singer said the push for Australia to become a republic had lost its momentum long before Harry and Meghan had even met.

“Republicanism goes off the agenda when the former head of the Australian Republican Movement becomes the Liberal prime minister and doesn’t show any interest in pursuing [it],” he said in a reference to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s past role as Chair of the organisation.


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, 2018

University Professor Sacked for Telling-the-Truth about coral

by Jennifer Marohasy

BACK in 2016, when I asked Peter Ridd if he would write a chapter for the book I was editing I could not possibly have envisaged it could contribute to the end of his thirty-year career as a university professor.

Considering that Peter enrolled at James Cook University as an undergraduate back in 1978, he has been associated with that one university for forty years.

Since Peter was fired on 2 May 2018, the university has attempted to remove all trace of this association: scrubbing him completely from their website.

But facts don’t cease to exist because they are removed from a website. The university has never challenged the veracity of Peter’s legitimate claims about the quality of much of the reef science: science on which billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded research is being squandered. These issues are not going away.

Just yesterday (Friday 18 May), Peter lodged papers in the Federal Court. He is going to fight for his job back!

If you care about the truth, science and academic freedom, please donate to help bring this important case to court.

It doesn’t matter how little or how much you donate. Just make sure you are a part of this important effort by donating to Peter’s GoFundMe campaign.

Peter deliberately choose to frame the book chapter about the replication crisis that is sweeping through science.

In this chapter – The Extraordinary Resilience of Great Barrier Reef Coral and Problems with Policy Science – Peter details the major problems with quality assurance when it comes to claims of the imminent demise of the reef.

Policy science concerning the Great Barrier Reef is almost never checked. Over the next few years, Australian governments will spend more than a billion dollars on the Great Barrier Reef; the costs to industry could far exceed this. Yet the keystone research papers have not been subject to proper scrutiny. Instead, there is a total reliance on the demonstrably inadequate peer-review process.

Ex-professor Peter Ridd has also published extensively in the scientific literature on the Great Barrier Reef, including issues with the methodology used to measure calcification rates. In the book he explains:

Like trees, which produce rings as they grow, corals set down a clearly identifiable layer of calcium carbonate skeleton each year, as they grow. The thicknesses and density of the layers can be used to infer calcification rates and are, effectively, a measure of the growth rate. Dr Glenn De’ath and colleagues from the Australian Institute of Marine Science used cores from more than 300 corals, some of which were hundreds of years old, to measure the changes in calcification during the last few hundred years. They claimed there was a precipitous decline in calcification since 1990

The LHS chart suggests a problem with coral growth rates – but the real problem is with the methodology. When corals of equivalent age are sampled, there has been no decline in growth rates at the Great Barrier Reef – as shown in the RHS chart.

However, I have two issues with their analysis. I published my concerns, and an alternative analysis, in the journal Marine Geology (Ridd et al. 2013). First, there were instrumental errors with the measurements of the coral layers. This was especially the case for the last layer at the surface of the coral, which was often measured as being much smaller than the reality.

This forced an apparent drop in the average calcification for the corals that were collected in the early 2000s – falsely implying a recent calcification drop. Second, an ‘age effect’ was not acknowledged. When these two errors are accounted for, the drop in calcification rates disappears

The problem with the ‘age effect’, mentioned above, arose because in the study De’ath and colleagues included data from corals sampled during two distinct periods and with a different focus; I will refer to these as two campaigns. The first campaign occurred mostly in the 1980s and focused on very large coral specimens, sometimes many metres across.

The second campaign occurred in the early 2000s due to the increased interest in the effects of CO2. However, presumably due to cost cutting measures, instead of focusing on the original huge coral colonies, the second campaign measured smaller colonies, many just a few tens of centimetres in diameter.

In summary, the first campaign focused on large old corals, while, in contrast, the second campaign focused on small young corals. The two datasets were then spliced together, and wholly unjustifiable assumptions were implicitly made, but not stated – in particular that there is no age effect on coral growth…

Dr Juan D’Olivo Cordero from the University of Western Australia collected an entirely different dataset of coral cores from the Great Barrier Reef to determine calcification rates. This study determined that there has been a 10% increase in calcification rates since the 1940s for offshore and mid-shelf reefs, which is the location of about 99% of all the coral on the Great Barrier Reef.

However, these researchers also measured a 5% decline in calcification rates of inshore corals – the approximately 1% of corals that live very close to the coast. Overall, there was an increase for most of the Great Barrier Reef, and a decrease for a small fraction of the Great Barrier Reef.

While it would seem reasonable to conclude that the results of the study by D’Olivo et al. would be reported as good news for the Great Barrier Reef, their article in the journal Coral Reefs concluded:

"Our new findings nevertheless continue to raise concerns, with the inner-shelf reefs continuing to show long-term declines in calcification consistent with increased disturbance from land-based effects. In contrast, the more ‘pristine’ mid- and outer-shelf reefs appear to be undergoing a transition from increasing to decreasing rates of calcification, possibly reflecting the effects of CO2-driven climate change."

Imaginatively, this shift from ‘increasing’ to ‘decreasing’ seems to be based on an insignificant fall in the calcification rate in some of the mid-shelf reefs in the last two years of the 65-year dataset.

Why did the authors concentrate on this when their data shows that the reef is growing about 10% faster than it did in the 1940s?

James Cook university could have used the chapter as an opportunity to start a much-needed discussion about policy, funding and the critical importance of the scientific method. Instead, Peter was first censored by the University – and now he has been fired.

When I first blogged on this back in February, Peter needed to raise A$95,000 to fight the censure.

This was achieved through an extraordinary effort, backed by Anthony Watts, Joanne Nova, John Roskam and so many others.

To be clear, the university is not questioning the veracity of what ex-professor Ridd has written, but rather his right to say this publicly. In particular, the university is claiming that he has not been collegial and continues to speak-out even after he was told to desist.

New allegations have been built on the original misconduct charges that I detailed back in February. The core issue continues to be Peter’s right to keep talking – including so that he can defend himself.

In particular, the university objects to the original GoFundMe campaign (that Peter has just reopened) because it breaches claimed confidentiality provisions in Peter’s employment agreement. The university claims that Peter Ridd was not allowed to talk about their action against him. Peter disputes this.

Of course, if Peter had gone along with all of this, he would have been unable to raise funds to get legal advice – to defend himself! All of the documentation is now being made public – all of this information, and more can be found at Peter’s new website.

Together, let’s fight this! Go fund ex-professor Ridd at:

The Institute of Public Affairs published Climate Change, The Facts 2017, and continues to support Peter’s right to speak the truth. For media and comment contact Evan Mulholland on 0405 140 780, or at

Buy the book if you haven’t already: this is another way of showing your support.

The most important thing is to not be silenced, shout about this! I received an email last week: “Bought Climate Change, The Facts 2017, as requested, to support Peter Ridd. I’m not making any friends at dinner parties at the moment. Stuff ’em.”


No more boys, no more girls - and no more Winnie-the-Pooh or Barbie dolls: Books and toys could be banned from schools due to radical push to make classrooms 'gender-neutral'

This is just ideology.  What proof is there that boys who are deprived of male role-models are better off?  There is none.  It's just Leftist theory. Most role-model researchers say that boys need MORE male role models in our feminized schools

Winnie-the-Pooh books, Barbie dolls, and superhero play are among things children could be banned from after a radical study on 'gender stereotyping'.

A number of Victorian councils will respond to the study by Australian National University, which found educators should avoid using the terms 'boy' and 'girl' and classifying children according to gender.

The study means Melbourne schools, kindergartens and libraries could be without children's classics such as Thomas the Tank Engine, which wouldn't pass the guidelines, Herald Sun reported.

The research found 'prejudice along race and gender lines can be observed' in children as young as three-years-old.  

Girls who played with 'feminised characters', such as Barbie dolls, had fewer career options, while those who engaged with Disney princess toys had more female-stereotypical views.

Meanwhile, boys who watched superhero shows were more gender stereotyped in their thinking, the study found.  

Now councils across Victoria are set to review educational resources, ensuring stories and experiences go beyond 'gender stereotypical narratives'.

Teachers will also be encouraged to not select toys in gendered colours, or to use expressions such as 'boys will be boys', according to the publication.

Manningham City Council already checks books for gender modelling and diversity, while teachers are asked to refrain from calling girls 'honey' and 'sweetie'.

Libraries in Maribyrnong City Council are asked to promote 'gender equity' and to 'challenge gender stereotypes' in their book selections.  

Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence Natalie Hutchins told the publication that 'the change needed won't happen' without gender equality. 

But Opposition youth and families spokeswoman Georgie Crozier slammed the possible decision to ban certain books. She said: 'It's crazy. Boys should be boys and girls should be girls.

'Any funding should be focused on interventions to prevent family violence, and not radical gender-based theories.' 


Say No to chuggers

YOU see them everywhere. People in a sloganed T-shirt carrying a clipboard as they stand outside train stations, set up in shopping centres, or even knocking from door-to-door.

They claim to be from a charity organisation and aggressively target members of the public in an attempt to get credit card details under the guise that it is going to a worthy cause.

But in many instances, the charities they purport to work for, never see a cent of your donation.

Charity muggers, or “Chuggers,” are ruthless and will do whatever they need to meet their quota and sign as many people up as they can.

“Chuggers are slugs, they’re dogs. Look I’ve really got no time for them to be honest,” Samuel Johnson told Today.

Johnson, 40, knows all about reputable charity work, co-founding Love Your Sister with his late sister Connie Johnson in 2014.

The Molly actor’s charity raises funds to encourage women to check for signs of breast cancer and improve survival rates. Connie sadly passed away in 2017, but Johnson has continued the charity work raising more than $7 million in funds since its inception.

While a large number of Aussies still sign up via commissioned street workers, studies have found the majority of those people cancel their subscription within the first eight months of sign up.

What they don’t realise is that for the first 12 months, the money only goes towards commission costs, paying the third party that employs the street collectors. So in many cases the charity never actually sees a cent of what you donate.

“They’re not doing anything illegal. But if you’re not prudent about how you give, if you don’t know about the organisation that you’re giving to, then I’d be pretty cynical about how much is actually going to the cause,” said Johnson.

Charities, as good as their intentions are, often don’t have the skills or resources to raise funds themselves. This is why they outsource to a third party, a group who at face value are there to raise money for the charity but on the books are actually making ridiculous profit before the money even gets to the charity. If it gets there.

So in those instances where people cancel because they were pressured into signing up or are bad at saying no and cancel shortly after, the charity actually never sees a cent of the donated money.

It’s worth considering, next time you want to donate to a worthy cause, cut the middle man out and go straight to the organisation themselves.


MPs push to punish AGL for knocking back power station sale

FURIOUS government MPs want to punish AGL for today’s refusal to sell its Liddell power station, with former prime minister Tony Abbott comparing the electrical company to a militant union and again urging it be nationalised.

And MPs repeated accusations AGL wanted to decrease electricity supply to cash in on demand.

“It’s in their narrow commercial self-interest to get the price of power up because that pads their profits,” Mr Abbott told 2GB.

The demands for a government takeover of a private power station are too extreme and expensive to be even considered by the government, but are a measure of the anger among some coal activist MPs.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said the government should “cart back in” AGL for some tough talk.

The AGL board today revealed it had rejected a purchase offer from Alinta Energy because it “significantly undervalues future cash flows to AGL of operating the Liddell power station until 2022 and the repurposing of the site thereafter”.

“Consequently, AGL has reaffirmed its decision to close Liddell in December 2022 and will continue progressing its NSW generation plan, which includes repurposing Liddell,” the company said in a statement.

“The Australian Energy Market Operator has confirmed that completion of this plan will address the capacity shortfall that may occur as a result of Liddell’s closure.”

Industry players believe Alinta made the offer primarily because the government asked it to, and that AGL was never likely to sell Liddell, its NSW coal-fired power station, which it wants to shut down in four years and convert to running on gas and other fuel sources.

The government argues the loss of the coal-fired generation would create a shortfall that renewable energy could not make up.

Mr Abbott repeated his demand on 2GB today for taxpayers to fund a compulsory acquisition of AGL, and to then offer it for sale to someone who would keep the coal component.

“This is a strike against the national interest by a big business,” he said.

“My very strong view given that the federal government has effectively got responsibility for energy security, the government should compulsorily acquire this power station for the price that Alinta were prepared to pay, and then it should sell it to Alinta, who can operate it.”

Mr Joyce said: “We need to grab AGL, cart them back in and say, ‘This is BS. You’re taking us for a ride. You think we’re fools, and the Australian people are not’.”

Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh scoffed at the threats, which he linked to what he called “an internal fight within the Liberal Party — the coal dinosaur factions who want to see taxpayers’ money go to subsidise coal-fired power plants”.

“That’s not good for energy prices in Australia and it’s certainly not good for our carbon emissions, which have continued to rise,” he told Sky News.

The official government response was to insist AGL guarantee the closure of Liddell would not cause a power shortfall.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg today called the no-sale decision disappointing.

He added that the continuation of Liddell beyond 2022 would benefit consumers and had the backing of some of Australia’s largest manufacturers.

“It is also disappointing because it was AGL’s CEO that first raised the prospect of Liddell’s sale in a meeting with the Prime Minister and other ministers last year,” he said in a statement.

“While the government recognises AGL has put forward a replacement plan, it has only financially committed to a fraction of the projects — namely, a 100MW upgrade to its existing coal fired Bayswater power plant and a 250MW gas peaking plant.

“The government calls on AGL to financially commit to all other stages of its replacement plan.

“Wholesale power prices in the National Electricity Market have declined nearly 30 per cent year on year and AGL’s latest half yearly report announced a 91 per cent, or $297 million, increase in statutory profit after tax for the half. Given this, customers are entitled to expect to see lower wholesale prices passed through to them in the next round of retail price determinations in July.”


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, 2018

School envy

Because the government schools are so woeful in most instances, parents send 40% of Australian teenagers to private schools.  That is such a big voting bloc that no government would dare doing much about it -- as Mark Latham found out. 

But the Left see an easier target in State selective schools.  There are not many of them but the fact that you have to have a good record of academic achievement to get into them brings their standards up to about equal with private schools. And you don't have to be rich to afford them. They were conceived as schools that would give a private school education to the more able poor.

But the pupils who pass the adnmissions tests tend to be from affluent backgrounds so it is mostly they who get in.  The unmentioned fact in most discussions about this is that IQ and affluence are highly correlated -- so it will always be mostly  rich kids who can profit from a high-standard education.

But the numskulls below want to square the circle.  Because most of those eligible to attend selective schools come from well-off backgrounds they think the system is somehow "unfair".  So they want to let more poor students into selective shools -- which would make them less selective and therefore less able to offer an alternative to private schooling.

But surely, the obvious thing to do is to lift the game of the mainstream state schools, not try to pull down the selective schools.  That might seem blue sky but it is not.  At a small unselective country State school in the '50s I got an education modelled on Eton, including physical punishment for misbehaving.  And I profited greatly from what I learnt then.  I learnt stuff at primary school that these days is taught in High School, if at all.  I was a long way from Berkshire but I got something quite similar to an Eton education

How come?  In those days all politicians wanted "the best" for their schools and Eton was acknowledged as being the best.  I am inclined to think it still is.  So they simply modelled their syllabi on Etons'.  They even copied the Eton "house" system  as far as one could in a State school where all students went home at night.

So the problem is not privileged schools but the crazy ideology and unproved methods that most modern-day education theorists inflict on mainstream schools

Monica Garcia-Pineda remembers feeling as though the partially selective Sydney high school she attended was made up of two completely different places.

“I can’t describe it in any other way,” she says. “It felt like going to two schools. There was always this divide between the selective and community kids, because you weren’t treated like you were in the same school.

“The selective kids were always encouraged to choose more academically challenging subjects so there was very little opportunity for the cohort to kind of be alongside one another in class, which affects how you socialise when you’re not in class.

“We used to sit on different sides of the quad.”

Selective school policies have come under increased scrutiny in recent months as state governments grapple with evidence that the schools are overwhelmingly populated by students from advantaged backgrounds and may be reinforcing existing class differences.

The overwhelming majority of Australia’s selective schools are in New South Wales – 19 fully selective and 29 partially selective. Its education department last year announced a review of competitive entry tests to address concerns that the system was being gamed by wealthy families who could afford tutoring.

Garcia-Pineda was a selective student at Macquarie Fields high school in Sydney’s south-west. She grew up in Wattle Grove, only about 12km away but another world in the socially complex jumble of Sydney’s western suburbs.

“I never used to hang out in the area at all,” she says. “I really didn’t feel like I was part of it.”

Macquarie Fields is demographically typical of western Sydney. Unemployment is higher and wages are lower than the Australian average. Fewer people are university educated and the population is dramatically more multicultural than the rest of the country.

A few years before Garcia-Pineda graduated in 2008, Macquarie Fields made national headlines when teenagers threw stones and molotov cocktails at police officers during riots sparked by the deaths of two local teenagers who were killed during a police car chase.

The statistics are reflected in the makeup of most of the local public schools.

Education data published by the federal government breaks school populations down into four “socio-educational” advantage quartiles. At Ingleburn high school, 2km away from Macquarie Fields, 54% of students come from the bottom quartile while only 3% come from the top.

At another neighbouring school, Sarah Redfern high, the figures are almost identical.

Both neighbouring schools rank below the national average for educational advantage, a yardstick determined using the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage, or Icsea, which measures factors such as parents’ occupations, education level and the location of the school.

But at Macquarie Fields only 15% of the students come from the lowest advantage quartile, and 27% are from the top. Its Icsea score of 1,054 is above the national average of 1,000.

It’s a trend which is reproduced over and over across Australia wherever selective schools are found.

Analysis of My School data by Guardian Australia reveals that students at selective schools are strikingly more advantaged than other nearby schools. They are overwhelmingly attended by the most educationally advantaged students and in many cases are dramatically unrepresentative of the suburbs in which they are located.

The divide is more pronounced in fully selective schools than partially selective. In fact, Guardian Australia’s analysis found that in some cases partially selective schools are less advantaged than their neighbours.

But at fully selective schools such as Penrith high school in western Sydney, the Icsea is 1,163, compared with an average score of 976 at the 20 closest schools. Only 1% of the school’s students are from the bottom advantage quartile. At Jamison high school, about 3km away, the figure is 42%.

The trend is even apparent for schools in highly affluent areas of Sydney and Melbourne, though these have the smallest gap between selective and non-selective.

The difference comes in part because selective schools do not have geographic catchment areas like public schools and can therefore be attended by students from anywhere in the state.

Education data suggests some selective schools may be becoming more advantaged over time. In 2013 the average score for students at Macquarie Fields was 1,047, rising to 1,054 in 2017.

But changes to the way the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (Acara) calculates disadvantage means it’s impossible to accurately assess how much the school’s demographics have changed over a longer period.

Christina Ho, an academic from the University of Technology, Sydney, says selective schools are reinforcing class and cultural divisions.

“They’re elitist. And not only are they elitist but they’re becoming more elitist,” Ho says. Any review of selective schools’ admissions would amount to “tinkering around the edges” of a system she says has become “warped”.

“There is obviously an education culture emerging that means these schools have a certain kind of status within the community which is quite different to what it was designed to be,” she says.

“Selective schools were supposed to be public schools that were accessible for gifted kids. The fact that there are almost no disadvantaged kids in these schools tells us they’re no longer accessible and they’re not genuine public schools because they’re not open to anyone except the most advantaged families in NSW.”

Not everyone agrees the system is broken.

Jae Yup Jared Jung, a senior lecturer in the school of education at the University of NSW, says the positive role of gifted education programs such as academically selective schools is backed up by research.

He points to a 2016 US academic paper which reviewed 100 years of research on ability grouping in education.

The study, published in the Review of Educational Research, looked at 172 papers on “ability grouping” published between 1922 and 1994, and concluded that the “preponderance of existing evidence” suggested special grouping for gifted students can “greatly improve K–12 students’ academic achievement”.

He says the process of choosing students for selective schools “isn’t perfect”, but that the system helps gifted students advance faster by coupling them with students of similar ability.

“There are certain selective schools with students from a higher socioeconomic background than other schools, but you could say the same thing about the Catholic and independent sectors,” he says.

“There’s no perfect way of selecting students for selective schools, but I have confidence in the NSW department of education that the current systems are such that someone who doesn’t deserve to be there isn’t being permitted to enter.”

Brendan Ma graduated from James Ruse Agricultural high school in 2015. The school’s Icsea value of 1,236 is one of the highest in Australia, and in 2017 87% of its students came from the top advantage quartile. [And most are Asian]

But Icsea doesn’t consider income, and Ma says it is wrong to assume that most selective students come from advantaged backgrounds.

“I had a lot of friends from my cohort who would have parents working double jobs, coming from an immigrant background where their parents still didn’t have a strong grasp of English,” he says.

For Ma, going to a selective school meant getting access to opportunities he never would have been able to afford otherwise.

“For a lot of people at my school who might have worked really hard or been academically gifted there were a lot of opportunities to advance those gifts,” he says.

“Study tours, musical events, things that cost a lot money. Usually it wouldn’t be something they could go to because their parents couldn’t pay for it, but our school made a really strong effort to make sure they could provide opportunities at low cost or for free.”

Guardian Australia’s analysis also compared the percentage of selective school students from a language background other than English with that of neighbouring schools.

It found that across fully selective schools the average proportion of students from a non-English speaking background in 2017 was 66.5%, compared with 36.2% at nearby non-selective schools.

In some schools the difference was more stark. At James Ruse, 97% of students come from non-English speaking backgrounds, compared with 38.7% at nearby schools.

In February Guardian Australia reported on research showing Indigenous students were disproportionately represented in Australia’s most disadvantaged schools. Christina Ho argues that the concentration of students – mostly from east Asia – in selective schools is another example of “monocultures” forming within the education system.

“Because these schools are now seen as ‘too Asian’ there’s been a real backlash from non-Asian families, so Anglo Australians are now saying ‘those schools are not for us’,” she says.

But Ma, the James Ruse student, says being at a selective school allowed him to explore his identity.

“I think for a lot of students who did come from immigrant backgrounds it did in some way support their development of an identity,” he says.

“My experience coming from a Chinese immigrant background was that as a young person you get conflicting signals about what your identity should be or how you fit into the Australian landscape.

“I found though that I could be more comfortable with my identity at school. All those doubts I had about being proud of my heritage or language I could be open with people who understood.”

In January the NSW education minister, Rob Stokes, said he was concerned selective schools could “create a rigid, separated public education system”, and raised the idea of opening more selective schools to local enrolments.

Laura Perry, an associate professor specialising in education research at Murdoch University, says schools with partially selective academic programs in specific subject areas such as music or sports are preferable to fully selective schools, because they have the dual benefit of keeping high-performing students in the public sector while “promoting socially mixed schools”.

For Garcia-Pineda, despite experiencing a social divide between selective and community students at her school in western Sydney, there were benefits in being exposed to students from different backgrounds.

“I think for a lot of kids who were in the selective part of the school it was a good experience for them because they mostly came from families with money and weren’t always exposed to that,” she says.

“I know for me it was confronting. When I came to high school I didn’t know people who came from single-parent households [or] grew up living in housing commission.

“I think that’s a major benefit of a school with a mixture of backgrounds. You become a different kind of person. It opens your eyes a little bit.”


High-profile business figure Chris Corrigan slams the push to vastly increase the number of women on company boards

And says that the besieged AMP chairwoman never would have got that job if she was a man

High-profile business figure Chris Corrigan has criticised the push to vastly increase the number of women on company boards.  

In slamming the campaigning for more women to be promoted within corporate Australia, Mr Corigran revealed the move was a major consideration when leaving the board of port and logistics group Qube Holdings last year.

He said besieged AMP chairwoman Catherine Brenner never would have got that job if she was a man, believing it was 'demonstrably the case' that she was advanced because of the 'mood of the moment' to pursue gender fairness, The Australian reported. 

'Can you imagine that a man with moderate investment banking experience at a second-rate ­investment bank would have got to be chair of the AMP?' he said.

Sharing that although he isn't opposed to equality, Mr Corrigan said he does mind when the ability to do the job is impacted. 

In July 2015 Mr Corrigan wrote in a letter for the board: 'I am uncomfortable about being bullied to add females to the Qube board irrespective of requirement, suitability and potential contribution but solely on the basis of their sex.'

He outlined new measures which could be taken to ensure a fairer process which included one where shareholders could nominate candidates and they could be voted in at yearly meetings.

'It provides an invitation to the social engineers to put up or shut up and it emphasises the role of shareholders in the choices for which they should take responsibility,' he wrote.

ACSI chief executive Louise Davidson said Mr Corrigan's claims were inaccurate, telling Newscorp that members have the right to oversee improvements in corporate governance.


The University of Queensland has been recognised as the top university in Australia for global research quality in the 2018 CWTS Leiden Ranking

This really means something.  The Leiden ranking is the only purely objective ranking.  UQ was my first university and I did well in publications so I find it easy to believe these findings

UQ ranked number one in Australia and 28th in the world as measured by one of the highly-regarded international ranking’s Impact indicators.

During 2013-2016, using fractional counting UQ contributed 11,793 publications in recognised journals, with 183 in the top one per cent of most frequently cited publications, which places UQ 28th globally, up five places from last year.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the University’s outstanding performance in the Leiden Ranking sent a strong signal to potential partners and collaborators that top-quality, highly cited research was produced across all disciplines at UQ.

“The Leiden Ranking does not rely on data obtained from reputational surveys, or the number of Nobel Prize winners on staff, or information provided by universities themselves. It focuses entirely on scientific impact and collaboration,” Professor Høj said.

“By this measure, no other university in Australia published more top one percent cited research than UQ.

“Of the 938 universities from 55 countries ranked by Leiden, only 27 institutions publish more top one per cent cited research.

“This is a tremendous result and I congratulate our researchers for the quality of their work, and their efforts to translate this work so that it  benefits people everywhere.”

Professor Høj said a number of Australian universities performed strongly in this ranking.

“If business and industry leaders want to partner with universities that can form expert teams from a wide range of disciplines, then Australia is a terrific place to start looking," he said.

UQ was also Australia’s top-ranked university in the research categories of life and earth sciences, and social sciences and humanities as measured by publications in the top one per cent cited globally.

The University’s life and earth science ranking jumped from 18th to 11th globally, with 2453 publications in recognised journals, including 42 in the top one per cent most frequently cited.

UQ’s social sciences and humanities leapt 14 places – from 44 in 2017 to 30 this year – with 1634 publications in recognised journals, including 23 in the top one per cent most frequently cited.

The 2018 CWTS Leiden Ranking measures the impact of research publications and collaborations of universities around the world, and is based on Web of Science indexed publications. This ranking system differs from others in that it separately reports scientific impact and collaboration rather than aggregating many dimensions of university performance into a single rank. The CWTS Leiden Ranking thus provides a more detailed perspective on university research performance.

UQ ranked number one in Australia and 28th globally based on the Impact indicator: P, P(top 1%), PP(top 1%), Ordered by: P(top 1%). Calculated using fractional counting. P(top 1%) = The number of a university’s publications that, compared with other publications in the same field and in the same year, belong to the top 1% most frequently cited.

The ranking offers insights into the scientific performance of 938 universities worldwide. It uses a sophisticated set of bibliometric indicators that provide significant statistics on the scientific collaboration and impact of universities.


Emboldened by passing 1 million jobs mark, Turnbull pushes for business tax cuts

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to launch a fresh lobbying blitz to get the Senate to pass the rest of the company tax cuts after beating a key performance benchmark months ahead of time.

The April employment figures show the Coalition has delivered 1,013,631 extra jobs four months ahead of its fifth anniversary in office, fulfilling a promise made by the former prime minister Tony Abbott to create one million new jobs in five years.

Humbled by exceeding the benchmark, Mr Turnbull acknowledged Australia's historically low-wage growth and that many Australians were still missing out due to underemployment.
"I appreciate not everyone is sharing in the benefits of our stronger economy," he told Fairfax Media. "There is more to be done and we must keep working on getting people into work."

He accused Bill Shorten of being a "job destroyer", warning the opposition leader would “go to war” with businesses by opposing the $35.6 billion remaining of the Coalition's company tax cuts.

Mr Abbott made the pledge in November 2012, almost a year before taking office, committing the next Coalition government to “creating one million new jobs within five years and two million new jobs over the next decade”.

Driving jobs growth would be the axing of the Labor’s “job destroying carbon tax” and scrapping the Gillard government’s mining tax, “restoring Australia’s reputation as a safe place to invest”.

But in Mr Abbott's first year in office from September 2013 employment barely grew, climbing only 75,900 at a time when the working age population grew 287,825; an even worse result than in the final year of the Gillard and Rudd government, as the mining boom was winding down. Only 10,600 of the 75,900 jobs were full-time.

Mr Abbott's fortunes turned around in his second and final year in office when employment surged an exceptional 240,200 at a time when the working age population grew 285,252.

In the Coalition's third year and Mr Turnbull's first, jobs growth eased to 154,800 before surging 380,100 in the forth year. In the year to April employment grew 332,200.

A slim majority of the jobs created in five years of Coalition government have been full-time: 532,216, or 52.5 per cent.
Most, 58.1 per cent, have gone to women. In the past year an extraordinary two thirds of the extra people to take on jobs were women. All but 67,000 of the 332,200 new jobs have been full time.

Labor's employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor said despite the strong employment growth Australians were still being stung by insecure work, record low wages growth, and cost of living pressures.

"Australians are feeling the pinch," he said. "The Coalition focus all their energy on advocating for an $80 billion tax cut to the big end of town."

Mr Turnbull said the jobs boom had delivered the budget a revenue bonus. "It is a million more Australians, that are paying tax," he said. "That's why the government's revenues are stronger."

Mr Abbott himself also took credit for the record rate of jobs creation saying it flowed "from being under new management since 2013 and once more open for business".

The Bureau of Statistics figures show 22,500 jobs have been created each month since Mr Turnbull took over the Liberal leadership. Around 13,200 a month were created under Mr Abbott, 12,500 under Kevin Rudd, 13,600 under Julia Gillard, 16,400 under John Howard, 12,700 under Paul Keating, and 13,000 under Hawke.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the rate could not be taken for granted. "These one million jobs didn’t happen by accident," he told Fairfax Media. "They come from the hard work of Australians and businesses all around the country."

Mr Turnbull will use the figure to press for the Senate to pass the Coalition's company tax cut to 25 per cent for all businesses.

The government has so far been unable to secure the nine out of 10 crossbench votes required to pass the legislation despite renewed interest from the Centre Alliance party, formerly known as the Nick Xenophon Team.

It believes the tax cuts are necessary to meet the second promise Mr Abbott made in 2013: "Two million jobs in manufacturing as well as in agriculture, services, education and a still buoyant resources sector in a decade."

JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said the employment surge was due, in large part, to a flurry of hiring in the healthcare and construction sectors. "Together they contributed more than half of last year’s total employment growth."

The ABS figures showed full-time job creation has slowed, from 321,000 between December 2016-17 to 265,300 between April 2017-18.

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

20 May, 2018

Number of Australians who earned more than $1m a year yet paid no tax surges 30%

This story no doubt refers to gross income.  There are many reasons why net income could be lower.  A failing business might for instance have a very large gross income but practically no net income

Sixty-two Australians who earned more than $1m in the 2015-16 financial year paid no income tax. That represents a 30% increase from the previous financial year.

New data from the Australian Tax Office, released on Friday afternoon, shows that despite a political focus on wage stagnation and income inequality in recent years, the ranks of Australia’s millionaires paying no income tax is growing swiftly.

The data shows Australia has 12,706 taxpayers earning more than $1m, the vast majority of whom have paid some sort of tax on their taxable income.

But in the 2015-16 financial year, 59 millionaires claimed to have taxable income below $6,001, one claimed to have taxable income between $6,001 and $10,000, and two claimed to have taxable income between $10,001 and $18,200, putting them all below the tax-free threshold.

None of them paid the Medicare levy.

Twenty-two reduced their taxable income to zero by claiming a combined $4.34m for the “cost of managing tax affairs” – nearly $198,000 each.

Fourteen claimed gifts or donations worth $54.9m to help them do so.

A tax office spokesman said there were legitimate reasons why a wealthy taxpayer may not pay tax in a particular year, including prior year tax losses (which are able to be carried forward indefinitely), large costs associated with the production of assessable income (such as the start-up phase of a business), and the cost of managing tax affairs.

The “cost of managing tax affairs” includes the cost of getting advice from a registered tax agent, barrister or solicitor, the cost of preparing and lodging tax returns and activity statements, and the cost of court appeals.

“Notwithstanding this, a wealthy taxpayer who does not pay tax is more likely to attract the ATO’s attention and be subject to further scrutiny to assure they are complying with their tax obligations,” the spokesman said.


The PC sickness in Australia

“I’M GOING to miss this,” said the comedian. And for a moment nothing was very funny anymore.

We had been chatting about our respective mongrel ancestries when we realised we were both part Scots-Irish.

“I never understood exactly what Scots-Irish was,” I said. “As far as I can tell some Scots went to Ireland because they didn’t like the Scottish and then when they got there they decided they didn’t like the Irish — or the English for that matter.”

“Yep,” he said. “They basically just rocked up and said to everyone: ‘If you don’t like it then f*** off!’”

“They’re so disagreeable!” I said. And that’s when my friend paused.

“I’m going to miss this,” he said.

For a moment I was scared he was about to tell me he had some terminal disease but then the penny dropped — and like a true Scotsman I noticed it.

“Soon we won’t be able to talk about this anymore,” he said. “We won’t be able to laugh or take the piss out of people for their differences. Everybody will just be exactly the same.”

It was an extremely depressing thought and for a moment I wished he really had told me he had a terminal disease.

Comedians are of course notoriously melancholy creatures but there have been several recent developments that make me more sure than ever that my mate is on the money.

One was a report this month that the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions had ordered his Newcastle office to complete a sexual harassment course after a lawyer “tweaked” a colleague’s nipple.

Sounds fair enough, you might think, until you read on. You see, it wasn’t a lecherous old man groping a young vulnerable clerk. It was a female solicitor mucking around with a male colleague when she gave him a little nipple-cripple over his shirt. Call the prosecutors!

And it gets better. It wasn’t even the bloke who had his nipple tweaked who made the complaint. He wasn’t fussed at all. Instead it was someone in the office who witnessed it and reported it as “inappropriate”.

As a source rather plaintively told The Daily Telegraph: “It was just a joke.”

But as my comedian mate now knows, there are no jokes anymore. There’s just appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

And so, as a result of a playful exchange between two friendly colleagues who were completely untroubled, dozens of legal experts have to sit through an interminable sexual harassment lecture delivered perhaps by some po-faced bureaucrat or perhaps by a disembodied online portal. It’s hard to know which would be a bigger waste of the taxpayer’s time or money.

Moreover, the female solicitor is said to be “highly embarrassed” by the whole affair. So well done to the #metoo mole who called it in. You’ve just humiliated a woman for having too much fun at work. What a victory for progress that is.

It would be tempting to write this off as just a rogue PC absurdity — even if it did come from the highest prosecutor in the nation’s biggest state. If only this were so.

Recently I learned of colleagues at another government organisation who were forced to undergo cultural awareness training after an eerily similar incident.

In this case, two people, one white and one black, were talking about how absurd it was that a certain derogatory racial term was still allowed to be used in some contexts. Another person in the office overheard the conversation and reported them.

And so it was back to the re-education camps for that happy little workplace. Yes, even a black person discussing a racist word can now be sanctioned for racism.

Again, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is as dumb as society could possibly get but, again, you’d be wrong.

Because just last week an educator infamously suggested that parents should ask their babies for consent babies before changing a nappy [diaper]. Needless to say, in any such exchange it would not just be the nappy that was completely full of it.

I had words about this on Studio 10 and apparently it became a “Twitter Moment”, so I don’t want to add further to the mob frenzy. All I would offer is that anyone who compares changing a nappy to rape needs to seriously consider their world view.


NAPLAN much more gain than pain

More than a million Australian students sat NAPLAN tests this week, assessing their standards in reading, writing, language and numeracy.

Despite some hysterical criticisms, the national assessment program remains a vital educational tool and there is no rigorous evidence it has widespread negative effects on students. And in general, parents groups continue to support the tests.

Claims that it harms students are at best superficial, and at worst downright misleading. There have been very few studies to date on the impact on students, and the existing research is mostly based on surveys or samples so small as to be insignificant.

There is a world of difference between serious mental health issues and the low levels of nervousness associated with any school assessment.

The other target of NAPLAN naysayers is the MySchool website, where school results are published and can be compared to other schools and the national average. It is argued MySchool harms schools by making them focus excessively on NAPLAN test results. But again, there is little evidence to support this claim, and ultimately schools focusing more on literacy and numeracy is almost always a good thing.

MySchool is important for parents. Parents choose schools based on multiple factors, including academic achievement. Having access to NAPLAN results allows parents a more informed choice for their children’s education success.

And when we’re constantly told parents should be more engaged in their children’s education, it would be bizarre to tell parents they shouldn’t know how their local school is performing compared to national standards.

NAPLAN helps improve schools and teaching, by identifying problems in the school system over time and enabling potential solutions — from the national level all the way down to individual students. It also provides transparency for school results. And it holds governments and schools accountable for the more than $50 billion of taxpayer money invested in the school system every year.

So what is the future for NAPLAN?

It is reasonable to investigate how NAPLAN data can be used more effectively to help students. A possible review of NAPLAN — which education ministers are currently considering — should focus on such issues, rather than simplistically scrapping the whole program.


High hopes for economic boost from Australian Space Agency

AUSTRALIA is placing a big bet on space technologies with the creation of our own space agency — and the pay-off could be huge.

TECHNOLOGISTS, university researchers and start-up companies are expected to benefit from the establishment of an Australian space agency that could provide a boon for things like precision agriculture and autonomous mining vehicles.

The government officially launched the Australian Space Agency on Monday, setting up the agency to capitalise on the $420 billion aeronautical industry and create thousands of hi-tech jobs, with a review forecasting that the industry will be worth $12 billion by 2030.

Dr Rosalind Dubs is the former Chair of the Australian Space Industry Innovation Council and current Board Director of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).

She said the cash, and more importantly the government commitment, will foster investment and allow burgeoning Aussie tech companies to tap into the growing global space industry.

“In terms of industry there are a lot of small players already in Australia but they don’t have a champion at the big table ... a space agency will be sitting with its peers with NASA, with the European Space Agency, with the UK Space Office to prosecute their case,” Dr Dubs told

She hopes it will stop a brain drain of top engineering talent leaving Australia to work in space-related industries in the US, Canada and the UK.

“On the research side, there are a number of universities looking to create critical mass around their own space technology capability,” she said.

ASX-listed Electro Optic Systems (EOS) is a Canberra-based defence and space company that, among other things, works with international partners on solutions to the issue of space junk.

“They look at what’s called the space environment and use laser technology to monitor space debris ... and are working on methods to actually push dangerous space junk out of the way of valuable satellites that create vital services for the world,” Dr Dubs said.

While EOS is “already successful in their own right,” she believes the new agency will provide a focal point for research and innovation, allowing other small companies to emulate that success and get a piece of the pie.

She is hopeful the policy certainty anchored by the space agency will encourage large overseas aeronautical and space players such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others to “start investing here, in local technologies”.

“It will enable partnerships and allow smaller companies to grow,” Dr Dubs said.

The global space industry is growing at about 10 per cent a year worldwide, an expert review panel estimated Australia accounted for only 0.8 per cent of the industry.

Dr Dubs thinks Australia can reach 2 per cent within the decade.

The review into the coming space agency recommended Australia build on its strengths in communications technology, debris monitoring and space services including situational awareness, ground stations, and other areas where the domestic industry could “leapfrog” other countries.

In addition to the $41 million allocated to kickstart the establishment of the space agency, Dr Dubs praised the government’s $260 million investment in global positioning system (GPS) technology and satellite imagery as part of its 2018-19 federal Budget.

“Satellite data are vital for everything from the monitoring of the environment, to understanding the weather, border security and emergency response, precision farming and time-stamping of financial transactions,” Dr Dubs said

“Every $1 million spent on satellites can drive up to $5 million in economic benefits back on Earth.”

Minister for jobs and innovation, Senator Michaelia Cash, said Australia’s move to join the global space industry had the potential to be worth as much as $12 billion by 2030.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity to increase our share of the growing global space economy,” she said.

“Space technologies are not just about taking people to the moon; they open up opportunities for many industries, including communications, agriculture, mining, oil and gas.

“An Australian space agency will support the long-term development of space technologies, grow our domestic space industry and secure our place in the global space economy.

“Through our $300 million investment in space industry and technology, the Turnbull government is allowing businesses across the economy to prosper, enter new markets and create jobs.”


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

18 May, 2018

The word 'Aboriginal' is REMOVED from birth, marriage and death certificates after politically-correct bureaucrats rule the term is offensive

What an insult to Aborigines!

The word 'Aboriginal' is being removed from birth, marriage and death certificates after politically-correct bureaucrats ruled the term offensive.

The practice of eradicating the word was implemented by the Western Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages when it made its records digital between 2007 and 2015, the ABC reported.

The practice came to light when family historians Garry Smith, from Perth, and his cousin John Chandler, from Queensland, discovered the word had been whited out on their ancestors' certificates.

Mr Smith claimed a staff member told him the word Aboriginal was removed because it was deemed offensive. He said it made him feel as if he should be ashamed of his aboriginal heritage.

Mr Smith also slammed the movement as hypocritical. 'If you're Aboriginal, it's offensive and deemed offensive – but the government calls us Aboriginals,' he said.

Mr Smith's cousin, Mr Chandler, said the news brought back painful memories for his family. 'We feel like we have people making decisions on behalf of us, just like in the past,' he told the ABC.

The men called for the registrar to stop whitewashing documents and apologise for any offence caused.

Mr Chandler and Mr Smith have together lodged a claim of racial discrimination against the registrar in the Federal Court, however their claim was unsuccessful.

History Council of Western Australia's Dr Cindy Solonec said the practice repulsed her. She said the movement was 'hogwash' and would undoubtedly offend every Aboriginal person in Australia. 

University of Western Australia history professor Jenny Gregory said she would contact the WA Attorney-General to call for the 'bizarre' practice to be stopped. 'The registrar is tampering with history,' Dr Gregory said.

WA Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages' Brett Burns told Daily Mail Australia there was no legal requirement to note the race or ethnic background of a person on documents such as birth certificates. 'This applies whether a person is Aboriginal, Greek, Italian, or from any other heritage,' he said.

Mr Burns said the practice was in no way fuelled by racism. 'I completely refute any suggestions that I, or my staff, have acted in a racist way in this matter. That suggestion is ridiculous and hurtful,' he said.

He said the change was made after offensive terms were used by past registrars. Mr Burns said offensive terms such as 'Abo', 'Chinaman', 'native', 'nomad' or 'half-caste' were once used on official documents.

'That has prompted the removal of all references to race, which were never required to be included in the first place, from the Registry's records,' he said.

'This does not just apply to Aboriginal people and any suggestion we are 'white-washing' history is wrong.' 


Australia needs to stop fantasising about high-speed rail and build medium-speed rail instead

AUSTRALIA’S obsession with massively expensive high-speed rail between the east coast’s major capitals is “pie in the sky” and the country should instead be focusing on connecting our largest cities to regional centres.

That’s the view of transport boffins who have said the focus on 300km/h Japanese style bullet trains and even the Elon Musk championed 1000km/h Hyperloop system has blocked the way for less ambitious, slower — and certainly less sexy — but far cheaper and game-changing rail projects.

By some estimates, a high-speed rail network linking Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne could cost north of $100 billion.

Cutting train times from Sydney to Newcastle by an hour would cost far less and open up the possibility of commuting between the two centres for many currently put off by travel times.

“We’ve been talking about high-speed rail in Australia since the 1980s and nothing ever happens. So maybe it’s time to look at more affordable options,” Professor Rico Merkert, from the University of Sydney’s Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, told

He said the level of funding the Federal Government had so far dedicated to higher speed rail to regional cities was “disappointing”.

In the 2017 Budget, $20m was committed to prepare three studies to look at speeding up trains times between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and specific regional cities. Of the billions in the 2018 Budget for rail, very little was earmarked for regional passenger rail.

However, Associate Professor Philip Laird, an Honorary Principal Fellow at the University of Wollongong, said some $125m had been spent by successive governments on high speed rail studies and yet not a skerrick of track had been built.

“It is now time for Australia to commit to medium-speed rail, trains operating on new or existing tracks at speeds of between 160km and 250km/h,” he wrote in The Conversation this week.

In NSW, modern Intercity trains can go as fast as 130km/h but rarely reach anywhere close to that speed. A 2013 report found the average speed of trains in Sydney was just 43.3km/h.

When, last year, Labor asked Transport Minister Andrew Constance for the average speed of the state’s trains, he said speeds “were affected by such a significant amount of variables … there is no value in calculating it”.

Nonetheless, trains in NSW can take longer to get to their destination than in other states. A trip from Sydney’s Central station to Gosford takes almost 90 minutes by train, while a train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross to Geelong, a similar distance, takes less than an hour suggesting V/line trains are speeding along at around 80km/h.

But even that isn’t fast enough with the Federal and Victorian Governments commissioning a study to see if a line with a top speed of 250km/h could be feasible.

“A fast rail link from Geelong to Melbourne would slash travel times between Victoria’s capital and its second biggest city,” the Andrews Government said.

In Britain, a rail journey between London and the regional city of Ashford, 93kms from the CBD, takes just 35 minutes on a true high-speed line.

Undoubtedly Sydney is cursed with a challenging topography of national parks and mountains that will make cutting travel times tricky.

But Professor Merkert said the fact there were three flights a day between Newcastle and Sydney airports, just 160km/h distant, was a sign not enough had been done to improve rail links between NSW’s first and second cities.

He said the Hyperloop low pressure system, that could see pods shoot through tubes that have been almost completely expunged of air, was “pie in the sky” though.

“Hyperloop is way too expensive; it’s not feasible at the moment because you need a very straight line and any curve in it would be unpleasant for passengers and the sheer distance between the capitals destroys the economics.

“We currently talk about slow (suburban) trains and at the other extreme Hyperloop; maybe it’s worth thinking about something in between. “(Medium-speed rail) would be better for regional development.”

Speaking earlier this year to, Professor Merkert said this was because: “The idea would be to get people moving into regional centres such as Goulburn and then commuting into Sydney.”

Yet, to compete with airlines, very fast trains would be under pressure to not stop in any regional centres.

Consultants HKA, who work with Virgin Hyperloop One, a company building the new technology, have said regional areas needn’t miss out because the system uses on-demand individual pods which could service, say, Goulburn as long as a station was constructed.

Professor Laird said while the private sector had shown some encouragement for high speed rail, “at all levels” government was not supportive.

“Despite many studies recommending the need to identify and protect a corridor for a future high-speed rail network, government has failed to reserve any.”

In contrast, the move towards medium-speed rail in regional Victoria had been a huge success. Costing around $4.5bn the investment in new track, trains and stations over the last decade has seen jumps in passenger numbers to and from regional centres.

Regional NSW was now the laggard. “The rail situation in Australia’s most populated state is not good for its regions,” he said. While a growing Sydney was overflowing with infrastructure projects, such the Sydney Metro and light rail, connections to the surrounding areas were lacking.

“The State Government is getting new intercity electric trains and has committed to buying new regional trains. But it’s yet to commit to track upgrades to help the new trains go faster than the present slow ones.”

Professor Merkert said the Government’s regional rail priority seemed to be the 1700km Inland Rail route between Brisbane and Melbourne which aims to reduce the number of trucks charging up and down coastal motorways.

But once that was done, more should be focused on how we bring our regional cities to within commuting distance of the capital.

“There’s lots of infrastructure in the cities but not much connecting the cities,” he said.


Coalition won't ban live exports and has delayed report's release

The Turnbull government will not announce a summer ban on live sheep exports when it releases a report into the live export trade on Thursday.

The planned release of the report by livestock veterinarian Dr Michael McCarthy was abruptly cancelled on Wednesday after cabinet deliberations.

A government spokesman has confirmed the report is now scheduled for release on Thursday morning, and a second confidential briefing for stakeholders has been arranged after the initial briefing, slated for Wednesday morning, was put off.

The details of the report are not yet known but Guardian Australia understands the government is not likely to recommend banning the live sheep export trade between May and October, despite a recommendation from the Australian Veterinary Authority.

Government response will instead focus on the requirements for greater ventilation and air conditioning on ships, and a reduced stocking density. Both of those issues were terms of reference for McCarthy’s inquiry.

The federal opposition and the Western Australian state government have both called for a summer ban.

There are conflicting accounts about the surprising 11th-hour decision to delay the report on Wednesday. Nationals sources say it was a unanimous decision by the five Nationals in cabinet to delay the report, and that they presented their argument to their cabinet colleagues on Tuesday and it was accepted.

Separate reports suggest the agriculture minister and Nationals MP David Littleproud was rolled by Liberals in cabinet and the delay was imposed over his head.

McCarthy was appointed by Littleproud to conduct the review of the live cattle trade on 10 April, two days after 60 Minutes aired footage of sheep suffering extreme distress on the Emanuel Exports stocked ship Awassi Express, which left Fremantle on 1 August 2017 and lost 2,400 sheep to heat stress.

His scientific report contains recommendations about how many sheep can be safely transported on live export ships during the Middle Eastern summer.

The report contains a “very complex formula” that people will need time to think about. It is understood the Nationals wanted to receive more scientific advice about the formula before releasing the report.

Matt Canavan, the resources minister, said the government simply wanted to properly consider the review before responding to it.

“The key thing we would like to avoid is making the same mistake as has been made in the past, as has been made by the former Labor government and seemingly repeated by the Labor opposition today, and that is not to make a knee-jerk response here,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“This is an industry that employs thousands of people. Their livelihoods and jobs are reliant on governments that make well-informed and considered decisions and I’m confident that Minister Littleproud is doing exactly that.”

Animal welfare organisations raised concerns last month about McCarthy’s appointment to conduct the review into conditions experienced by sheep on live export ships, saying there was a perceived conflict of interest.

McCarthy has more than 30 years experience as a livestock veterinarian and has worked most of his career in the live export trade.

He has acted as shipboard veterinarian on 65 live export voyages for eight major Australian exporters, including Emanuel Exports; conducted industry-funded research for Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp; and acted as an expert consultant for Murdoch University and the University of Queensland.

But animal welfare groups say McCarthy’s extensive working history as a paid contractor to the live export industry created a perceived conflict of interest.


Renewable energy investment surges as Australia on track to exceed RET

There's nothing like a juicy government subsidy to guarantee your profits.  This is tax mining

Investor appetite for renewable energy projects, such as large-scale solar and wind projects, is set to help Australia exceed its 2020 Renewable Energy Target two years ahead of schedule.

While coal and gas-fired power are still the dominant fuel source in the National Electricity Market, investors are voting with their money and backing more than $20 billion in renewable projects as Australia moves to a less carbon-intensive economy.

But the surge in renewable investment is not expected to remain at record levels unless the Turnbull government becomes more ambitious with its emissions reduction targets under its proposed National Energy Guarantee, which is currently set at 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Although conservatives in the Turnbull government party room would like a new coal-fired power station to be built in Australia, the private sector has shown no interest in funding a $5 billion, new, high-efficiency, low-emissions power plant, a fact acknowledged by Treasurer Scott Morrison and federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The Turnbull government is attempting to push through the NEG to replace the RET after 2020. The energy sector is keen to ensure a new mechanism will help keep renewable investment flowing out to 2030 and beyond, and to end 10 years of uncertainty over climate change and energy policy.

The latest update from the Clean Energy Regulator this month found there was 6553 megawatts of capacity from renewable energy projects under construction or already built – this is above the 6400 megawatts of capacity required to meet the RET.

The RET requires 23.5 per cent of Australia's energy – or 33,000 gigawatt hours – to come from clean energy sources by 2020, with key investments to keep flowing out until 2030.

The CER said there was also an additional 1454 megawatts of projects subject to power purchase agreements that are likely to be fully financed and under construction this calender year.

Almost half of the 6553 megawatts under construction has already been accredited and generating large-scale generation certificates (LGCs), with a further 1592 megawatts having applied for accreditation and expected to soon be generating them.

"We expect the 2020 Renewable Energy Target to be exceeded at current build levels," the Clean Energy Regulator said.

"The judgment that the RET will be exceeded takes into account the effect of updated AEMO marginal loss factors and expected curtailment as a result of network congestion. The Clean Energy Regulator is aware of other projects that are likely to be announced in the near term."

The rush to invest in renewable projects past 2020 is also likely to result in a big drop in the price of LGCs, which will embolden clean energy industry advocates to debunk claims that renewable projects can only get off the ground if they have heavily subsidised by taxpayers.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance said there was a record $12 billion in renewables investment in Australia in 2017, with $3.2 billion so far this year. But Green Energy Markets Renewable Energy Index estimated there was more than $20 billion projects under way, contracted or under tender that would add 9691 megawatts of new capacity to the NEM by the early 2020s.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Australia head Kobad Bhavnagri said there was likely to be a tapering of renewable investment in the lead-up to 2020 given the target had been met and even exceeded. The price of LGCs were likely to stay low now the RET has been met.

He said the investment was likely to be lower in future years unless the federal government increased the 26 per cent target under the NEG, either from a change of heart from the Coalition or an in-coming Labor administration.

"It's likely to taper in 2018 and then collapse after 2020 because the National Energy Guarantee requires very little investment to be met," Mr Bhavnagri told The Australian Financial Review.

"It's more likely to be stop-start in the future to replace the exit of coal-fired generation [like AGL Energy's Liddell in 2022 and Delta Energy's Vales Point in 2028]."

Surge in solar

Under Bloomberg's projections, Australia will reach 23 per cent below 2005 level emissions by 2020 – meaning Australia will only need to achieve 3 percentage points over a decade to achieve the NEG target, something which Mr Bhavgnari believes will be achieved through the on-going rollout of small-scale solar.

A Climate Council report released this week found there were now 40,000 commercial solar systems installed in Australia, an increase of 60 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

Pacific Hydro's 80 megawatt Crowlands wind farm near Ararat in Victoria, which secured $80 million in project financing this week, is an example of the money flowing into renewable energy projects.

The Crowlands wind farm, which will comprise 39 wind turbines and create enough energy to power the yearly needs of about 50,000 Victorian homes, was financed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the National Australia Bank. It is the first project to be supported by a long-term power purchase arrangement with a group of corporates through the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.

Planum Partners managing director Shaun Newing, who helped pull together the finance for the Crowlands project, said there was strong interest from banks to invest in renewable projects.

"We are seeing a lot of activity in that space. These projects are never easy to do. It depends on the quality of the sponsor and the quality of the revenue streams. But all the banks are well set up to finance renewable projects. They are keen to get involved," Mr Newing said.


Genomics and nanotechnology to benefit from $393m research funding boost

Nanotechnology, genomics and remote ocean sensors to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef are among the projects that will benefit from $393m over five years in new federal research funding.

On Tuesday, the federal government released its response to the national infrastructure roadmap, allocating funding to its research priorities after recommendations by an expert group led by the chief scientist, Alan Finkel.

The plan was submitted to the government in February 2017 but was allocated an additional $393m over five years – or $1.9bn over 12 years – in the 2018 budget on 8 May.

New funding announced in the current round includes grants over the forward estimates of:

$36m to the Australian National Fabrication Facility for nanotechnology manufacturing research

$22m for marine observation systems used by international marine and climate science communities, as well as $31m for the research vessel RV Investigator to operate for an extra 120 days at sea

$14m for microscopy and microanalysis equipment for applications including health and biomedical research

$48m for Bioplatforms Australia’s work in the field of gene sequencing

The government response states the public benefit of the research will include: improving weather forecasts; increasing the identification of cancer; better management of the Great Barrier Reef by using remote sensor data to detect coral bleaching; and using genomics to increase wheat yields and agricultural returns.

The program also includes “expansion of the southern hemisphere’s unique nuclear capabilities to drive world-leading advances in biotechnology, agricultural, chemical and material sciences”.

The government estimates the investment will create about 500 new jobs over the next 10 years, including for science, technology, engineering and maths graduates.

Finkel said: “The interdependence between national research facilities and scientific breakthroughs is a virtuous merry-go-round that that has been given a boost in the budget to spin faster for the common good.

“The benefits include new diagnostics for earlier disease detection, micro-sensors used in advanced agriculture, and new metal alloys for construction and machinery.”

In a statement the education minister, Simon Birmingham, said the Turnbull government “is partnering with researchers across our world-leading universities and other research institutions that will deliver a stronger economy, a healthier environment and cutting-edge medicines and treatments”.

“This is the single largest and most comprehensive investment in research by any Australian government,” he said. “Australia’s prosperity depends on the work being done in these research labs today and into the future.”

The budget papers stated the injection of $1.9bn over 12 years would bring to $4.1bn the total cost of government investment in national research infrastructure projects.

The plan will be reviewed every two years to keep investments in line with research priorities.


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, 2018

Muslim values on display

A sexual predator who took part in one of Australia's worst gang rapes has refused to apologise for his heinous crimes, saying: 'Mate what am I sorry about? I've done my time.'

Belal Hajeid was part of the 'Skaf' gang of teenagers aged 15 to 19 who raped young women in parks and public toilets in the build-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In June 2002, he was sentenced for 10 offences in one of the gang's attacks on two female teenagers. He served 14 years in jail before being released on parole.

Now 36, Hajeid, of Lebanese descent, is working in maintenance for a council in Sydney's inner west. A Current Affair tracked him down and asked if he wanted to apologise to the woman whose life he destroyed - but he refused more than 12 times.

Unaware of the irony, he told reporter Steve Marshall: 'You know what you are, you're the lowest of all kind. You're lower than scum.'

Hajeid was ordered to pay his victim $100,000 compensation but talked this down to $6,000 in a tribunal by claiming he was too poor to pay.

Asked by A Current Affair if he could afford to pay more, he said 'of course.'

After the attacks, which were racially motivated, judge Michael Finnane described the offences as 'worse than murder'.

One of the victims was raped 25 times by 14 men at Bankstown, west Sydney during a six-hour ordeal in which the attackers subjected her to racist taunts.

Nine of the rapists were found guilty and sentenced to an unprecedented total of more than 240 years. Five of the rapists were never caught.


Retirees to underwrite Labor spending splurge

Bill Shorten’s tax hit on self-­funded retirees will underwrite a spending spree that ­includes cash handouts for low-­income earners, with the scrapping of franking credit refunds forming the biggest revenue raiser in Labor’s $30 billion short-term tax ­measures.

As Labor Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen prepared to outline today Labor’s plan to match the government’s early return to surplus and tackle the nation’s debt bomb, Scott Morrison accused the opposition of using older Australians to fund a spending splurge.

Treasury and parliamentary budget office ­estimates suggest that Labor’s tax hit from scrapping imputation credit refunds — a policy that will largely target self-managed super funds — will amount to a third of Labor’s new tax grab over the current forward estimates, to 2021-22.

The Treasury and PBO numbers, which have been disputed by the opposition, show the retiree tax raising $10.7bn over four-year budget forward estimates, working on a baseline year of 2018-19.

A policy to reverse the legis­lated company tax cuts for businesses with between $2 million and $50m in turnover, and not proceed with the remaining cuts proposed by the government, would raise $6.2bn in the four years to 2021-22, although Labor has not revealed yet what its election policy will be.

The re-imposition of the 2 per cent debt-and-deficit levy for high-income earners — taking the effective tax rate from 47 per cent to 49 per cent — would raise $5.25bn. And the winding back of negative gearing tax breaks for property investors would raise $1.35bn over the first four years. A total of $5.6bn would also be raised from superannuation contribution taxes and changes to family trusts.

Mr Morrison claimed that this meant retirees would be contributing more to Labor’s spending plan over the first three years of an ALP government than the reversal of company tax cuts, the winding back of negative gearing or tax rises for high-income earners.

Mr Bowen, in a National Press Club address today in response to last week’s federal budget, will pledge to return the budget to balance in the same year as the ­Coalition — 2019-20, a year ­earlier than originally forecast — while returning larger surpluses than the Coalition over the following years.

Labor’s costings would be overseen by an independent ­expert panel.

Mr Bowen will admit to preparing for a “backlash” over Labor’s tax policies, but say it is the right thing to do. “Australians probably didn’t know that you can get an income tax refund, even if you didn’t pay any income tax, and can get the tax paid by a company you own shares in repaid to you so that no net tax is paid. Removing a concession worth $6bn was, we knew, bound to cause a backlash,” he will say. “But we didn’t do these things for fun.”

Mr Bowen will add that Labor will go to the election achieving budget balance in the same year as the government while delivering bigger cumulative budget ­surpluses over the forward estimates, as well as “substantially” bigger ­surpluses over 10 years.

“The majority of savings raised from our revenue measures over the medium term will go towards budget repair and paying down debt,” Mr Bowen will say in his speech. What the eventual savings will be is yet unknown as Mr Bowen has not committed to whether Labor would repeal any or all of the legislated company tax cuts for small to medium-sized businesses. Over the medium term of 10 years, the government claims that Labor’s extra tax revenue would amount to $219bn. But Mr Morrison said extra taxes raised over the first three years by a Labor government would be $30bn.

“The biggest slug will be on retirees and pensioners, with more than $10bn coming from their plan to rip away their tax refunds they receive from their investments,” Mr Morrison said. “If elected Labor’s biggest tax in their first term will not be on multinationals and big banks, as they pretend, but on retirees and pensioners.”

Mr Bowen said Labor’s budget priorities would be to “deal with debt and deficit” and “fund policies we regard as important for economic growth”.

In an attack on the Turnbull government, Mr Bowen will declare that a surplus not reaching at least 1 per cent of GDP until 2026-27 would fail to “adequately protect Australia against the ­potential roiling seas of inter­national uncertainty”.

“The greatest failure of the government’s official ‘fiscal strategy’ has been the persistent watering down of its 2013 commitment to get to a surplus of at least 1 per cent of GDP by 2023-24,” Mr Bowen will say. “The government’s fiscal strategy was originally to reach a surplus of 1 per cent of GDP by 2023-24. This was then downgraded to a surplus of at least 1 per cent of GDP ‘as soon as possible’. Now, on the government’s current numbers, they still don’t get there for eight years, in 2026-27.”

Labor will also announce today that it will engage a “panel of ­expert and eminent Australians to review our costings and assure their efficacy”. The panel will include Bob Officer (a finance and accounting academic), Mike Keating (a former Department of ­Finance and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary) and James Mackenzie (businessman and fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Company Directors). They were engaged by Labor ahead of the 2016 election.

“The costings panel provide a final assessment and verification of our budget bottom line, over the forward estimates and the ­medium term,” Mr Bowen will say. “The panel will also assess the ­robustness of our costings and the assumptions that underpin them.”


Study finds Australian weather experts have been getting it wrong preparing for severe events

Yet they reckon that they can tell us what will happen in 100 year's time

From scientific research to the community response, a new study out today outlines just how at risk Australians have been — and will continue to be — because of the “bad job” experts have been doing predicting and preparing for extreme weather.

The research warns events can often come as a “double whammy” and stress now is the time to realise most major weather and climate catastrophes are caused not by one hazard at a time, but by a combination of processes.

In their paper published in Nature Climate Change, the scientists say we may be underestimating the risks and a better understanding of the combination of factors contributing to a weather event may improve projections.

The research comes as the country is hit with an autumnal big chill, with temperatures forecast to drop again this week.

Both Adelaide and Darwin recorded their coldest starts to the day this year on Monday morning, a shiver inducing 5.9C in the South Australian capital but an almost balmy 19.7C in the tropical Top End.

University of Adelaide lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, Dr Michael Leonard, said traditional planning and modelling had looked at one weather event occurring on its own rather than multiple factors.

Dr Leonard highlighted the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria and the Brisbane floods of 2011 as examples.

He said while the fires were brought about because of drought and a heatwave, they were driven by a high pressure system and resulted in hospitals being stretched, so there were multiple considerations.

“With the floods it was two storms in quick succession and there wasn’t enough appreciation for the quick succession of storms,” Dr Leonard said. “The problem is we need to look at multiple extreme things happening together.

“There’s something that catches us off guard and as a professional community, we could do it better and try come up with these possible combinations to avoid getting caught out like that.

“It’s very easy to invent a doomsday scenario and dismiss it because it’s not practical, saying: ‘I can’t plan for that, then what’s the point?’ so people are reluctant.”

Dr Leonard said in terms of being prepared for floods, planning could be better and systems updated because computing power to test the variability of storms had come a long way.

He also said the risks of hazards needed to be better understood.  “There’s really a need to revise our critical infrastructure and use computing power to come up with events that are possible to get a better idea of what can possibly go wrong,” he said. “I think we do a bad job with that.

“People have not done as good a job of ‘what’s the chance of some of these things happening together?’”

The international paper was led by the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Switzerland with Australian researchers from the University of Adelaide and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes with the University of New South Wales.

They recommend ways climate scientists, engineers, social scientists, impact modellers and decision-makers can work closely together to understand complex weather events.

“Usually when we experience these catastrophic failures it’s not one thing that’s gone wrong, it’s a whole sequence of things that have gone wrong and we need to guard against that,” Dr Leonard said.

“But there's also lots of practical challenges if we have multiple extremes happening together. “When hazards impact communities we’ll hear, ‘the one that caught us by surprise’ and ‘we didn’t see it coming’ or ‘this wasn’t like the ones we’ve seen before’.

“We need to appreciate the variability in conditions we can experience and therefore avoid false complacency or false security — last time there was a fire it didn’t come near us, we got out with plenty of time — the next time there’s an alert it can diminish the implications of it.”


Hardline feminist Clementine Ford's Lifeline speech is CANCELLED after thousands demanded the charity remove her as keynote speaker for tweeting 'all men must die'

Clemmie is a troubled soul.  On her own admission she had a mental health crisis recently. Definitely not someone to be advising others

Suicide prevention group Lifeline has cancelled an event featuring hardline feminist Clementine Ford after a petition against her appearance attracted almost 14,000 signatures.

A petition, set up last month, argued her previous tweets saying 'kill all men' and 'all men must die' made her unsuitable to address the 'Recognise, Respond, Refer' event in Melbourne on May 29.

A Lifeline spokesman Alan Woodward said the event, which was to be moderated by former Ten newsreader and Australian #MeToo campaigner Tracey Spicer, was cancelled because they regarded it as 'divisive'.

'The decision was made following feedback we had received and our assessment the event had drawn strong views,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday morning. 'We felt we couldn't proceed in the spirit of open discussion as intended.'

Mr Woodward said the 'nature of the views expressed' in the petition had made the forum untenable, but he stressed the cancellation was not related to Ms Ford's previous tweets.

'Lifeline does not want to do anything that could create division in the community,' he said.

'It was more the response within the wider community that led us to cancel the event, not any views expressed by the speaker.'

Adam Smith's campaign against Ms Ford's appearance at the Lifeline event had amassed 13,917 signatures by Tuesday morning, three weeks after his petition went live.

'It is extremely important that they remain distant from the hateful comments previously made very loudly and consistently by Ms Ford,' it said.

'She MUST be removed from the speaking lineup for the protection of the very people you are funded to support.'

Petition author Adam Smith had included screen shots of the Fairfax Media columnist's inflammatory tweets and argued she was synonymous with the hashtag, '#killallmen'.

'Lifeline is a service that is crucial to people experiencing high levels of emotional distress, many of them suicidal over bullying experiences,' he said.

In October 2015, Clementine Ford tweeted 'kill all men' after a woman suggested on Twitter her 'blind hatred of males' made it hypocritical of her to be an advocate of equal rights.

One woman questioned how Lifeline could give her a platform, considering many men with mental health problems relied on the service.

'It's hard enough for men to call a helpline to talk about how they are feeling,' she said on the Facebook page of former Labor leader Mark Latham. 'Now I feel men may not utilise this important lifeline for them.'

Last month, Lifeline said it did not necessarily agree with Clementine Ford's views on men. 'It is common place for a range of views and perspectives to occur in a discussion panel,' it told Daily Mail Australia.  'Lifeline does not necessarily agree with any particular panel member or commentator's views.'

Clementine Ford said in April she had 'addressed the intention behind these statements numerous times'.

'If we lived in a world where women were murdering men en masse and men genuinely had reason to fear they might be murdered in their beds by a gang of marauding feminists, I would agree with your concern,' she told Daily Mail Australia on Monday.

'As it is is, we live in a world where it's women who are being murdered by men at a minimum rate of one a week in this country, not to mention the countless circumstances of sexual violence, physical harassment and ongoing domestic violence perpetrated against women.'

The author of 'Fight Like A Girl' has also previously tweeted 'I bathe in male tears' and last year wrote 'Have you killed any men today? And if not, why not?' in a book signed for a fan.


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, 2018

It’s racist for white people to lodge complaints…

By Bernard Gaynor

About: "Offending White Men: Racial Vilification, Misrecognition and Epistemic Injustice"  by Louise Richardson-Self"

It ended with these words:

"As such, members of the culturally dominant group must commit to engaging with resistant imaginings with a critical openness to the other and their testimony, and they must develop their capacities as listeners and a propensity to epistemically esteem the other in recognition of their alterity, if we are to prevent such injustices in the future."

If you don’t understand any of that, don’t worry. I don’t really either. But let me attempt to unpack it for you anyway.

As far as I can tell, according to Louise Richardson-Self, a lecturer in philosophy and gender studies at the University of Tasmania, I am a racist because I lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission regarding Linda Burney’s statement that opponents to 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act were ‘white men’.

One way of arriving at that conclusion was reading the abstract of her latest work, Offending White Men: Racial Vilification, Misrecognition and Epistemic Injustice:

"In this article I analyse two complaints of white vilification, which are increasingly occurring in Australia. I argue that, though the complainants (and white people generally) are not harmed by such racialized speech, the complainants in fact harm Australians of colour through these utterances. These complaints can both cause and constitute at least two forms of epistemic injustice (willful hermeneutical ignorance, and comparative credibility excess). Further, I argue that the complaints are grounded in a dual misrecognition: the complainants misrecognize themselves in their own privileged racial specificity, and they misrecognize others in their own marginal racial specificity. Such misrecognition preserves the cultural imperialism of Australia’s dominant social imaginary—a means of oppression that perpetuates epistemic insensitivity."

The second and perhaps easiest way to get there was the fact that my name is mentioned 21 times in the 25 misery-filled pages of feminist woe that make up this little ‘study’.

Louise also made a few other comments that caught my eye.

"For instance, in the very first sentences of her work she implied that the Racial Discrimination Act is flawed because it permits a person of any race to lodge a complaint. No doubt, that’s evidence of some kind of ‘imaginary’ yet all-too-real white privilege and, after all, she did go on to note that white people are lodging complaints because of the ‘ostensibly’ neutral language of the Act."

And she does have a point: what’s the bloody point of a Racial Discrimination Act if white people can complain?

Fortunately, the courts have interpreted the Act in such a way that labelling somebody a white so-and-so is not deemed to be racist because the majority of Australians are white.

That makes sense in a totally progressive way. It also explains, by the way, why the Australian Human Rights Commission did nothing with my complaint against Burney.

It is perfectly fine to claim that the only people who want to get rid of this Act are white but it is decidedly risky to make an assessment about the race of those who want to keep it.

And it’s also racist to ‘celebrate’ Australia Day, but it is hunky dory to get up on a stage on ‘Invasion Day’ and claim that white Australians are responsible for land theft, child stealing, state-sanctioned murder and that the nation as we know it should be burnt to the ground.

And the reason for this is simple: according to Louise, holding the view that all should be treated equally before the law is nothing more than white privilege and fails to understand that such concepts constitute ‘cultural imperialism’.

Louise even went out of her way to make this clear, stating:

Here I am assuming that the complainants genuinely believe that ‘white vilification’ and non-white vilification are qualitatively equivalent.

I’ll take her assumption away. Racism against a white person is exactly the same as racism against any other person.

Louise obviously disagrees and, instead, yearns for a world where people are treated differently as a result of their skin colour.

There is a word for that worldview. Unfortunately, it has lost all meaning today because it’s been completely high-jacked by feminist loonies intent on cultural suicide…


The rapidly disappearing subsidies for wind and solar in Australia

This sounds like very good news

One of the loudest, most controversial and misinformed debates around Australian energy policy has been the level of subsidies for wind and solar farms.

It is mostly based around the renewable energy target and the market price of its principal pricing signal – the certificates known as LGCs, which have been trading at or above $80/MWh for some time.

This has led to some outrageous claims about the amount of money that is supposedly being pocketed by renewable energy developers, such as the Saudi company that owns the Moree solar farm.

Conservatives, and the Murdoch media in particular, continue to parade and parrot the false story and fake news that the renewable energy target will pocket some $45 billion of subsidies out to 2030.

It’s nonsense. Such claims are based on the assumption that all LGCs attract the market price – currently around $80/MWh. But in reality only a small percentage of “merchant” generators do that.

And those claims also assume that the price will remain at those inflated levels until 2030. Clearly, they are not.

The price of LGCs is already showing signs of significant decline as it becomes clear that the RET – which seeks 33,000GWh of new renewables by 2030 – will not just be met, but could be significantly exceeded.

That has pushed the future price of LGCs down sharply

Many analysts expect that the price will fall to zero once the new build is completed and the excess of certificates flood the market. It is not a matter of if there is a price crash, says Tristan Edis of Green Energy Markets, but when.

What is often forgotten in the tirades against wind and solar is that many project developers have already forgone any subsidies, because they have signed long-term contracts, known as PPAs (power purchase agreements), for between 12 and 15 years.

Most of these contracts, particularly those signed in the last 12 months, provide effectively zero value to the LGCs. These include projects such as the 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm, the 200MW Silverton wind farm, and the 470MW Cooper’s Gap wind farm.

Those contracts – like most others for wind and solar farms – were signed with the realisation that the LGC market price was heading to zero, or negligible, value in the 2020s.

But the key is that the prices for both the electricity and the LGCs have been struck below the prevailing cost of electricity, sometimes as low as $55/MWh.

This has also been the case for the ACT’s goal of sourcing the equivalent of 100 per cent renewables for its electricity by 2020. That program requires the LGCs to be surrendered at no cost to ensure the ACT’s efforts are additional to any national target.

So far, the ACT has done well out of its contracts because the first two wind farms have actually been returning money to ACT consumers, rather than requiring a top up over the market price.

It is important to note that the price of LGCs actually have little to do with the actual cost of the solar farms or wind farms, but are merely a financial instrument that provides an incentive for retailers to meet their obligations.

So, why are the LGC’s at such a high price of $80/MWh when that level of subsidy is not needed, and renewable energy projects can be developed and operate at an all up price of $55-$70/MWh?

Simply, it’s yet another example of where the incumbent utilities, in this case the retailers, are playing the market. Not illegally, but simply because the rules allow them to do so.

The price is high because not enough renewable energy generation has been built to meet the progressively higher annual targets, creating a shortage of LGCs.

This occurred because of the three-year investment strike that was caused by the Abbott government’s attempts – supported by many energy incumbents – to try to scrap, and then reduce the RET, from 41,000GWh to 33,000GWh.

That investment delay meant there was a shortfall in LGCs, so prices hit the market cap – it had nothing to do with the cost of building wind and solar farms.

Because of this, some retailers are still taking advantage of the rules. ERM power, for instance, in 2016 chose to pay the “shortfall charge” for not meeting its required number of LGCs.

It was a quite deliberate move. ERM has a three-year grace period to make up that shortfall, so while it paid a $150 million fee, that fee is fully refundable, and ERM will make a handsome profit – already estimated at $45 million – by buying the LGCs when the price falls.

Indeed, ERM CEO Jon Stretch discusses this very strategy in our latest Energy Insiders podcast, which you can listen to here.

According to the Clean Energy Regulator, around $238 million of shortfall charges have already been paid, and will likely be redeemed. Mark Williamson says retailers are likely to take a similar approach if the spot price for LGCs remains high this year and next.

“We’re pointing out the reality that the longer the spot price stays in the mid-$80 range, well above the $65 penalty price, there will be some temptation for some to pay shortfall, or to use the flexibility to carry forward less than 10 per cent of their liability,” Williamson says.

“And there is the prospect of more shortfall to come the longer it’s up there.”

Tristan Edis, from Green Energy Markets, predicts there could be a surplus of 80 million LGC once the RET is met.

“Across the life of the RET scheme to 2030 we are looking at a massive oversupply,” he says. “The question isn’t if we’ll see prices collapse but when.”

Edis agrees that because projects are still to be completed, a shortfall could continue until 2019, ensuring that the price stays high, and retailers paying the shortfall charge.

Even as late as 2020, retailers could still elect to pay the penalty price, or shortfall charge,   judging that the oversupply in 2023 will be so big that they can pick-up lots of them very cheaply.

They can then use these cheap LGCs to make good on the shortfalls they incurred in 2020 to claim back penalty refunds from the regulator, as ERM is doing.

The other complication is the structure of the proposed National Energy Guarantee, or any other scheme, and whether that allows generators to “double dip” into creating both an LGC and a NEG emissions obligation.

(That much may be academic if the Coalition retains its meagre emissions targets for 2030, as it has promised to do. Most analysts say the 26 per cent emissions target will be largely met by 2020 by the build out of the RET)

“If the NEG were to allow double dipping where a generator can create both an LGC and a NEG emissions obligation entitlement from the same megawatt-hour of generation then LGCs become worthless pieces of electronic paper that don’t mean anything for abatement purposes,” Edis says.

“If instead, they follow the prior recommendation from the AEMC for a baseline & credit scheme, where a renewable generator would have to choose between either an LGC or a NEG entitlement but couldn’t create both from the same MWh, then LGCs retain an ongoing value equal to a NEG entitlement.

“The second option that disallows double dipping will provide a far smoother transition that avoids pulling the rug from underneath participants in the secondary market for LGCs.”

So, if renewables don’t need subsidies going forward, then what’s the problem?

The problem is that without further incentives, or reasonable emissions reduction targets, the main energy retailers will have little or no reason to build new wind or solar, and will be happy to keep spinning maximum profits out of their fossil fuel generators.

That leaves only the household and corporate market as potential parties to contracting new wind and solar farms, and additional demand created when coal generators are due to retire.

There could be plenty of activity in the corporate market – with Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance contracting one solar farm already for its Victorian steel works and planning to build 1GW of new solar and storage for its South Australian assets.

Numerous other corporates are turning to wind and/or solar, with companies like Carlton & United Breweries committed to 100% renewables, and others to follow.

And they can be sure that the costs of wind and solar will continue to fall, even below the mid $50/MWh pricing that has been reported for projects like Snowtown and Murra Warra in Victoria.

As the CER’s Williamson told RenewEconomy on the sidelines of Australia Energy Week: “I’m also hearing that even the ultra-low prices we’ve heard disclosed in PPAs (power purchase agreements), that we may see lower prices further to come.

“I guess that’s going to be interesting to watch, in the context that wholesale prices are decreasing, but are currently still above those prices of new-build variable renewables.”


Immigrants forced to live in 'struggling' rural areas rather than overcrowded Sydney or Melbourne under new visa rules

Immigrants coming to Australia on a regional-sponsored visa would be forced to stay in the country under a new policy being considered by the Federal Government. 

Sydney's population increased by more than 100,000 people in 2017 and more than 80 per cent were from overseas.

The Home Affairs Department is looking into how they can 'bind people to a regional area,' First Assistant Secretary David Wilden told the Daily Telegraph.

'One of the complaints we often get from sponsors is that migrants come as permanent residents and are not actually bound under law to stay in a regional area,' he said.

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme 187 visa allows skilled workers to apply for permanent residency with the sponsorship of an Australian employer.

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge told the Daily Telegraph he has been discussing the issue with his Coalition colleagues during recent regional visits.

'Many migrants are sponsored for permanent residence on the basis of an intent to live and work in regional Australia but don't stay long in the region once they have their permanent visa,' he said.

'This has been a key issue for discussion during my recent visits to regional areas over recent weeks.' 


'Best and brightest' flee Australia in search of lower tax: Peter Costello

The "best and brightest" are heading for Hong Kong to escape a top tax rate that will soon kick in at just 1.7 times average weekly earnings, former treasurer Peter Costello said.

Speaking at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney on Monday, Mr Costello said it made no economic sense to deny high income earners tax relief.

"It's not just companies where we're in competition, it's for individuals as well," he said. "These are the people you do want to build and carry your economy."

Mr Costello applauded the Coalition government's income tax plan but queried whether Malcolm Turnbull would win the next two elections in order to deliver it.

"If you announce a tax plan for 2024, you have to get home in two elections to actually deliver it and nobody can control the political cycles," he said.

Mr Costello again pressed the Turnbull government to make lowering the top marginal rate – 45 cents in the dollar for those earning over $180,000, on top of which the 2 per cent Medicare levy applies – a priority.

"I'm always amazed how many young Australians are living in Hong Kong," Mr Costello said. "During their high income earning years they're in Hong Kong and then when they're ready to draw down on the social welfare system they're back in Australia. "You never see any Australian retirees moving to Hong Kong."

As treasurer in the Howard government in 2007, Mr Costello laid out a five-year plan which would have reduced the top income tax rate from 45 cents to 40 cents.

The Howard government lost the 2007 election to Labor headed by Kevin Rudd, who said he would pursue the plan in his second term.

At the time, the top rate of 45 cents cut in at 3.5 times average weekly earnings.

That has since dropped to 2.2 times. If the government's plan comes to pass, the figure will drop to 1.7 by 2024. If not, it will settle at 1.9.

"In the US, you go on the top rate at eight times average weekly earnings," Mr Costello said.

"All I'm saying is if we could keep our income tax rates more competitive we'd keep more of those [high-income earners] here," he added.  "I want the best and brightest not to feel they have to go somewhere else but to feel they can stay here."

The Turnbull government has not proposed changes to the 45 per cent rate, but it does want to lift the threshold at which the rate cuts in, from $180,000 to $200,000.

Aside from a temporarily expanded low- and middle-income tax offset, the biggest changes would occur to the second top tax bracket, which has a present rate of 37 per cent.

The bracket's upper threshold would be progressively lifted until 2024-25, when it would be scrapped entirely.

A mega bracket, with a tax rate of 32.5 per cent spanning incomes from $40,001 to $200,000, would be created.

Critics say the plan does not amount to tax reform and will make the system less progressive.

"[Mr] Shorten says it's unfair because a nurse would pay the same tax as a CEO," Mr Costello said.

"The nurse wouldn't pay the same tax as a CEO. They would pay the same tax rate as a CEO. Thirty per cent of $40,000 is not nearly as much as 30 per cent of $200,000."


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, 2018

Pension age hike will force thousands of elderly Australians on to the dole

Half of the 51,300 older Australians affected by an increase in the age pension age would move on to Newstart or the disability support pension in the first year alone, new figures suggest.

The Coalition has long proposed increasing the age pension age from 67 to 70, kicking in from 2025-26. The change is likely to make Australia’s pension age the highest in the developed world.

Government estimates show the move would affect 51,300 people in the first year alone, according to a response to questions asked in Senate estimates.

The government also predicts 12,934 people would move from the age pension to the disability support pension and 12,825 to the Newstart Allowance unemployment payment.

The changes have not yet been legislated, but the pension changes remain Coalition policy after being first proposed in 2014.

They would follow Labor’s increase of the pension age from 65 to 67 when it was last in government – a change that is being gradually implemented from July 2017 until July 2023.

The opposition has pledged to fight any further increase to the pension age.

The shadow social services minister, Jenny Macklin, said the data showed increasing the pension age would not necessarily keep older Australians in work, as the government intends. “Many Australians won’t be able to work for longer like Mr Turnbull wants them to. Instead they’ll just be forced to live on Newstart or the DSP,” Macklin said.

“Labor understands how hard it is for older Australians to find work, particularly when their job has taken a toll on their body and where there is age-based discrimination in the workforce.”

But the government has hit back, saying Labor’s policy would have created an extra 61,761 DSP recipients and 63,187 Newstart recipients by the time it was fully implemented in 2024-25.

“Jenny Macklin had no concern about this when she increased the pension age. Now she is crying crocodile tears – what a hypocrite,” a spokeswoman for the social services minister, Dan Tehan, said.


Bill Shorten rebukes Pauline Hanson over threat to deny Labor preferences

Pauline Hanson has told the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, she will not “flow preferences” to Labor in the looming Longman byelection, or federally, unless the ALP puts the Greens last on how-to-vote tickets.

In response Shorten has accused the One Nation leader of “attempting to direct the preferences of Longman voters to the LNP” and criticised her for turning her back on the battlers by signing on to the Turnbull government’s ambition to cut taxes for Australia’s biggest corporations.

The spat between the leaders has played out in an exchange of letters, seen by Guardian Australia, following the high court’s decision last week in the Katy Gallagher case – a decision that has triggered a super Saturday of byelection contests including in the Queensland seat Labor holds by 1,390 votes.

The mini-election season looms as a significant test for both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, with the major parties set to campaign on rival tax plans outlined during budget week.

A ReachTel poll published on Saturday suggests Labor will struggle to hold the Queensland seat of Longman, and One Nation is likely to be a significant factor in the result. If the survey is correct, Hanson’s party is currently polling 15% in the electorate.

Labor snatched the seat at the last election in part because of a favourable preference flow from One Nation, but the party’s candidate for the byelection, Matthew Stephen, has already made it clear publicly he wants to preference Labor last in the contest. On current indications that would help deliver the seat back to the LNP.

An incumbent federal government has not won a seat back from an opposition at a byelection for a century, but the share of the major party vote has been falling, and the strength of insurgent parties, like One Nation, will influence results in different parts of the country.

Hanson wrote to Shorten on Thursday “seeking an assurance from you as leader of the Australian Labor party that you will guarantee placing the Greens at the bottom of all Labor how-to-vote cards”.

The One Nation leader says she cannot “in good conscience flow One Nation preferences to Labor if their preference relationship continues with the Greens”.

Shorten replied on Sunday saying: “I know you are under a lot of pressure following your decision to support the prime minister’s $80bn tax handout to multinationals and the big banks.

“That’s the only explanation I can think of for your letter to me, in which you appear to be attempting to direct the preferences of Longman voters to the LNP.

“When Queenslanders voted for you at the last election, you should have been honest with them about your true intentions. You should have told them you would vote with Turnbull 90% of the time.”

He says Labor will not do a deal with One Nation either in Longman or in the federal election. “Sadly, you’ve put the top end of town first and Aussie battlers last – so that’s where Australian Labor will put One Nation in our preferences at the next election.”

“Your voting record in Canberra has left us with no choice but to put you at the back of the queue – because we’ll always put working Australians and their families first.”

The ReachTel survey of 1,277 residents across the federal electorate of Longman taken on Thursday night has the LNP polling ahead of Labor on two-party-preferred terms 53% to 47%.


Peter Costello praises budget for delivering tax relief to the 'forgotten people'

Former treasurer Peter Costello has heaped praise on the Turnbull government’s $140 billion income tax cuts for delivering tax relief to the "forgotten people", but cautioned it may never be realised.

Last week, Mr Costello threw a hand grenade into the Turnbull government’s pre-budget messaging by warning he would probably be dead before government debt was paid off.

But speaking on Monday at a breakfast at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, Mr Costello backed the government’s long term plan to deliver tax relief to high income earners, a group he described as the “forgotten people”.

However, he warned of potential work disincentive effects for lower income earners from the introduction of the new low and middle income tax offset.

“No Australians would have a clue what any of these offsets are because of the complexity,” Mr Costello said.

“The trouble with these offsets is they do phase out, and when they phase out they actually add to what’s called the effective marginal tax rate.”

Despite this, Mr Costello said he supported the new offset because “that is a way of delivering benefits early, which I support, to hard-pressed low and middle income earners".

Mr Costello reserved his highest praise for the second phase of the government’s income tax plan which increases tax thresholds and abolishes the 37 cent tax rate from 2024-25.

“If you could get a 30 per cent rate in there between $40,000 and $200,000, that is really good tax reform and that’s the kind of thing we really want,” Mr Costello said.

“But the trouble is that that’s the plan for 2024 and you’ve got to survive two elections to get there. Even if it’s legislated now, if there’s a change of government it can be taken out, this is the problem.”

“[But] that is good tax reform: lower rates, less thresholds. That is very good tax reform, no doubt about that, in a design sense. It’s just that there’s a couple of contingencies before you get there.”

Mr Costello, who is chair of the government’s Future Fund, also warned of a “ticking time bomb” in the budget as more people become eligible for the age pension.

When the age pension eligibility age of 65 was first set in 1909, it was 10 years beyond average life expectancy. “You had to beat the average by ten years to get the age pension,” Mr Costello said.

Today average life expectancy is 86, while the age pension qualifying age remains at 65.5, rising to 67 by 2023.

Reflecting on the difference, Mr Costello said a Treasury official had once quipped to him that “Treasury was on top of its game in those days,” Mr Costello said.

“This is the biggest time bomb ticking in our welfare system,” he added.

While supporting the budget’s tax cuts for high income earners, Mr Costello repeated his warning that higher government debt left Australians more vulnerable to the next economic downturn. “We’d just be far more exposed when we go into the next financial downturn,” Mr Costello said


Gambling the answer to saving Australia's heritage: economist

The federal government will spend $47.4 million on World Heritage sites over the next four years and another $28 million on historic sites on the National Heritage list.

The NSW government spends $3 million each year though its Heritage Grants program, with another $16 million provided over four years through the Heritage Near Me incentives.

Starved of money, beleaguered by weak and haphazard laws and too often sacrificed to property developers, Australia’s cultural heritage is the “forgotten child” of cultural policy, according to a leading economist.

But David Throsby, a professor of economics at Macquarie University, said part of the answer to conserving Australia’s heritage may lie with gamblers.

A lottery would provide an alternative source to cash-strapped governments to fund heritage projects, Professor Throsby suggests in Art, Politics, Money: Revisiting Australia’s Cultural Policy.

“In a spirit of unashamed plagiarism, we could copy the British example and set up a Heritage Lottery Fund,” he said.

“In fact such a mechanism would not be new to this country – the building of the Sydney Opera House (now listed as a World Heritage site) was financed by significant funding from the Opera House lotteries.”

Professor Throsby’s call for a lottery comes 12 months after the federal government promised in its 2017 budget to consider a “national good causes lottery” to provide funds for sport, arts and heritage.

A spokeswoman for the Department of the Environment and Energy said the proposal was still under consideration, but she did not say if it would proceed.

Broadcaster and comedian Tim Ross, who has made shows about modernist architecture, expressed his support for a lottery but also said incentives such as tax breaks and discounts on council rates should also be explored.

He said the argument was constantly made that historic buildings cost too much to maintain and “that’s just rubbish”.

Britain’s Heritage Lottery Fund has distributed £7.7 billion on more than 42,000 projects since 1994, according to its website.

More than 19,000 historic buildings have been restored with money from the fund, which is operated by a public body accountable to the UK Parliament, but its funding decisions are independent.

The National Lottery has also distributed billions of pounds to arts organisations, charities and sporting bodies.

Professor Throsby said heritage conservation was expensive, with more projects than existing levels of public funding can support.  “The National Trust and its state branches, and local historical societies etc, do a lot, but they are always short of money,” he said. “Project grants from funds raised by a heritage lottery would be a huge help.”

In NSW, the Opera House Lottery No. 1 was established in November 1957 and ran 496 lotteries that raised $105 million. However, the state government sold the NSW Lotteries Corporation to Tatts Group in 2010 for $1 billion, granting an exclusive, 40-year licence to conduct public lotteries in NSW.

Lotterywest, meanwhile, distributed $265 million in grants in Western Australia in 2016-17 to projects including conservation and heritage.

'Haphazard, unco-ordinated and weak'

Professor Throsby also described cultural heritage as a neglected area of Australian cultural policy in his Platform Papers essay published by Currency House.

He said the regulatory framework to protect and conserve heritage was "haphazard, unco-ordinated and weak".


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, 2018

Coalition could take Queensland seat from Labor at byelection, poll shows

New polling shows the Turnbull government could take the marginal Queensland seat of Longman from Labor at the looming byelection triggered by the dual citizenship fiasco, with the One Nation vote sitting on 15%.

A new ReachTel survey of 1,277 residents across the federal electorate of Longman taken on Thursday night has the LNP polling ahead of Labor on two party preferred terms 53% to 47%.

But the research, funded by The Australia Institute, also suggests the Turnbull government’s proposal to cut tax for Australia’s biggest businesses is unpopular, with only 17% endorsement.

A majority of respondents (53.7%) believe the third phase of the income tax cuts proposed by the Turnbull government, to flatten the tax rate on incomes between $41,000 and $200,000, is unfair.

Voters were asked whether they supported or opposed tax cuts delivering an average of $530 a year extra for low and middle income earners in the first four years, and tax cuts for high income earners in seven years time.

More Longman voters opposed the measure (47.3%) than supported it (38.3%).

The Labor incumbent in Longman Susan Lamb resigned on Wednesday following the high court’s ruling in the Katy Gallagher case.

The ruling triggered a super Saturday of byelections which is looming as a mini-election and has been called a referendum on the tax policies of the major parties.

It would be a significant upset if the LNP snatched back the seat because a government has not taken a seat from the opposition at a byelection for a century.

The resignations this week have triggered contests in Longman, the Tasmanian seat of Braddon, the South Australian seat of Mayo and the Western Australian seat of Fremantle. There will also be a byelection in the seat of Perth, because of the resignation of the Labor MP Tim Hammond for family reasons.

Given the contests will stretch party resources in the run up to a federal election, the Liberals are highly unlikely to run in Fremantle, which will be a Labor/Green contest, and may not run in the seat of Perth either. The Liberals are in the process of preselecting candidates for Longman, Braddon and Mayo.

The Labor incumbents will defend their seats, as will the Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie, who resigned on Friday. Sharkie is the most likely casualty from the upcoming super Saturday of byelections triggered by the latest wave of dual citizenship resignations, analysts have said.

Sharkie won the formerly safe Liberal seat in the Adelaide Hills on preferences in 2016, with the help of an unpopular opponent in former MP Jamie Briggs and the once-powerful campaign clout of then senator Nick Xenophon.

This time, she is likely to face a well-known name in Georgina Downer, daughter of former foreign minister Alexander Downer who held the seat from 1984 to 2008.

While Sharkie is regarded as a very attentive local member, Xenophon’s political cachet has dwindled since the colossal loss of SA Best at the March state election.

Sharkie’s party has been rebadged from the Nick Xenophon Team to the Centre Alliance, but Flinders University associate professor of politics, Haydon Manning, whose wife ran for SA Best in the state election, said volunteers and donors felt burnt by the recent loss.

“[Sharkie] doesn’t have the money, she doesn’t have the database,” Manning said. “But she has been the incumbent for two odd years, she has worked tirelessly, she has got good demeanor, and she is a person that this seat has not had, in that she is focused on the community.”

Internal Liberal party polling in Tasmania suggested the Coalition was in front in Braddon 53-47, but Tasmanian election analyst Kevin Bonham said it was based on an “utterly woeful” sample size and should be dismissed. Braddon has a history of swapping sides and has not been held for more than two consecutive terms since 1998. Labor’s Justine Keay won it in 2016 and has a 2.2% margin.

Bonham said he expected Labor would retain all four of its seats, failing a catastrophic campaign mistake on behalf of one of its candidates, or a superstar candidate from the Liberal Party.

“If they lose any of them it will be too embarrassing for words,” he said.

He said Longman, which Lamb won from the LNP’s Wyatt Roy in 2016 on an 0.8% margin, was the most at-risk Labor seat.

Bonham added that Lamb was the most likely to get a sympathy vote over her inability to revoke her UK citizenship.

One Nation has named controversial former state candidate Matthew Stephen as its pick for the electorate, and has said it will not preference Labor.

“In the state election, Labor put me last and that’s exactly where I’d like to see them on my ballot paper,” Stephen told the Australian.

ALP resources in Western Australia are expected to focus on Perth. Preselection is likely to go to WA Labor state secretary Patrick Gorman.


At last an eco craze that might actually do some good

If you haven't yet heard of plogging, it won't take you long to wrap your head around it.

The fitness craze involves picking up litter while jogging. Yes, that's the extent of it.

If that sounds like a sped-up Clean Up Australia Day, well it kind of is, except plogging is a worldwide phenomenon.

It began in Sweden, where the name originated. "Plogging" is a mix of the Swedish words for "to jog" and "to pick up" — "plocka upp".

A quick search online delivers posts from plogging groups from just about everywhere; in the UK, Italy, Finland, the US, Canada, Venezuela, Malaysia and India.  And of course, the Icelandic President was recently spotted plogging at his palace.

Now, the craze has reached Australian shores. Well, it's reached Byron Bay.

"We saw it on social media and we thought, 'We can do this!'" said Geoff Bensley a member of the Byron Bay Runners and founder of the fledging Plogging Australia group. "We thought Australia should be up there also and we've picked it up, and yeah, we've been loving it."

"Loving it" is not the first impression you get from the Byron Bay Runners as they head out on what is only their second plog. It's been raining relentlessly through the night and at 7:00am enthusiasm for the task ahead is muted at best.

However, the group soon gets into the swing of things as they pound the 7-kilometre track along the coastline to Lennox Head.


Lending to Australian housing investors plummeted in March, recording the largest percentage drop since September 2015.

This has got to bring prices down

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the value of investor housing finance tumbled 9% in seasonally adjusted terms to $10.88 billion, the smallest monthly total since January 2016.

In percentage terms, it was the largest monthly decline since September 2015.

Over the year, investor lending slumped 16.1%, the largest decline since May 2016. At the start of 2017, year-on-year growth to investors was running at 26.8%.

“Despite the macro-prudential measures in 2017, investor loans held up reasonably well, particularly compared to the response to the previous round of measures in 2015,” said Matthew Hassam, Senior Economist at Westpac.

“The March drop puts the segment decline more on a par with the earlier episode.”

In December 2014, APRA, Australia’s banking regulator, introduced a 10% annual cap on housing investor credit growth. It followed that move up in March 2017 with a 30% limit on interest-only lending as a proportion of total new mortgage loans.

APRA subsequently removed the 10% annual cap on investor credit growth last month for some lenders, acknowledging that it had served its purpose to cool investor activity in the housing market.

Henry St John, Economist at JP Morgan, says this is reflected in the split between investor and owner-occupier lending in March.

“The share of new lending in dollar terms attributable to investors has slid to its lowest level since January 2012, at 34.1%,” he said.

While not to the same scale as the decline reported for investors, the ABS said the value of finance extended to owner-occupiers also fell, slipping 1.9% to $21.01 billion after seasonal adjustments.

From a year earlier, that saw growth in owner-occupier lending slow to 3.2%, down from 7.2% in the 12 months to February.

Combined, the total value of housing finance slumped 4.4% to $31.89 billion in seasonally adjusted terms, the largest percentage decline January 2016.

The sharp reversal left the total value of lending down 4.3% over the year, the steepest drop in nearly two years.


Number of Australians with tertiary education qualifications to plunge

Good.  It might rein in credentialism

The number of Australians with tertiary education qualifications will plummet in the next decade unless current funding arrangements are overhauled, new research has found.

A new report released by the Mitchell Institute in Victoria on Monday warns that by 2031 participation in Australia’s tertiary education sector could fall to as low as 6% of the population aged between 15 and 64, down from about 10.5% in 2016.

Driven by a combination of the government’s freeze on the demand-driven university enrolment system and a sustained period of cuts to vocational education and training (VET) funding, the report cautions Australia could be “about to enter a decade of declining participation in tertiary education”.

Written by respected tertiary education expert Peter Noonan, the report paints a stark portrait of falling enrolments, particularly driven by a marked decline in the vocational sector.

“Really if we look at the tertiary education sector as a whole – both VET and higher education together – and think ahead, then we face a significant risk of declining participation rates in post-school education on current settings, and that’s mainly because of the alarming decline in VET enrolments and participation,” he told the Guardian.

Noonan’s report warns that based on current trends VET sector enrolments would fall from 5.3% of 15 to 64-year-olds in 2016 to 1.3% by 2031. That equates to more than half-a-million fewer enrolments in the sector in a 15 year period.

“Assuming the ongoing decline in student enrolments is not reversed ... in effect, VET would become a residual sector,” the report states.

“While this scenario may seem implausible, governments will need to act quickly and decisively to arrest the continuing decline in public investment in VET and the ongoing decline in publicly funded student enrolments.”

Noonan has long been critical of current funding arrangements for the vocational sector, and has called for a complete overhaul of the way the system is run between the states and the commonwealth.

Data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research has previously shown that VET operational funding from the states and territories has fallen steadily over the past four years, from $4.3 billion in 2012 to $2.9 billion in 2016.

He says current funding arrangements allow the states to match commonwealth funding allocations by taking money from their other parts of the VET system, and thinks the federal government needs to take a stronger hold of a sector he says has been allowed to fall into crisis.

“If you were a casual observer you’d think that the education system consisted of schools and universities because all the debate has been around Gonski and the various iterations of university reforms,” he said.

“At the same time the VET sector has been in free fall and no one has either noticed or cared.”

While the decline in VET enrolments means that even on current trends the number of students enrolled in tertiary courses will continue to fall, the report states that the freeze on demand-driven funding will impact on university enrolments.

The report’s modelling predicts the cap will see the proportion of 18 to 64-year-olds enrolled at university staying at below 5% by 2031, rather than lifting to above 6% based on previous trends.

“In a period when successful mass participation in tertiary education is essential to the country’s economic and social wellbeing ... this decline would, over time, also result in a decline in qualification attainment levels in the Australian workforce,” the report found.


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

13 May, 2018

An interview with a counseller who got fired for failing to toe the feminist line

Rob Tiller was fired from Relationships Australia WA for posting Bettina Arndt's domestic violence article on Facebook.

Rob Tiller is an experienced, well-respected counsellor who worked for this government-funded counselling organisation for the past eight years. He was respected by his colleagues and much in demand as the only male counsellor working in Perth, running workshops in addition to seeing his clients.

He was fired for posting on his personal Facebook page an article: "Always Beating Up on Men", published in Weekend Australian and reproduced here (Scroll down), which gave the latest official statistics and research on domestic violence, providing evidence that most family violence is two-way, involving women as well as men. RAWA promotes a “feminist framework” which denies women’s role in family violence.

Bettina says: "We need a huge email campaign to protest RAWA’s action. You will see on my website I have put together full details of what has happened, with all the relevant links, the addresses of the Relationship Australia Board members and other key people for you to write to plus a draft protest letter.

I’m hoping we can use this to show there are lots of people who really care about the undue influence of extreme feminist views in this country. I’ve spent the whole week organising media coverage of The Dismissal, only to discover Relationships Australia has been busy trying to stop newspapers and radio programmes from giving it any coverage. They have sadly succeeded in getting some of my media stories cancelled – if you have good contacts at the West Australian please politely encourage them to cover the story next week. 

Rob has taken RAWA to the Fair Work Commission claiming unfair dismissal. A crowd-funder is Here to help Rob with his legal fees and costs of establishing full-time private counselling and workshops.

Federal budget 2018: Labor sets new rich line at $95,000

Obama set it at $250,000

Labor has set a new benchmark for the definition of “rich” after Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech revealed a plan to make all workers earning more than $95,450 worse off by 2022 when compared with the government’s seven-year strategy to slash taxes.

The Opposition Leader’s ­income tax proposal, centred on a new refund worth up to $928, ­includes barely any change to the decade-old ­income tax thresholds faced by middle and higher-­income earners.

The Labor plan would leave ­almost three million taxpayers up to $5490 a year worse off compared with the Coalition plan.

Analysis by The Weekend Australian shows the benefits of Mr Shorten’s $928 proposed offset, withdrawn at a rate of about 2.6c for every dollar earned above $90,000, would be overtaken by the government’s rival plan once an individual’s income exceeded $95,450, making that the pivot point for undecided voters making a choice based on the competing tax policies.

John Humphreys, an economist at the University of Queensland, yesterday warned of a “political class war in the making” following Mr Shorten’s budget reply speech. He singled out the stark difference in Labor’s proposed tax treatment of workers earning between $90,000 and $200,000 a year.

Battlelines for the next election are being drawn around the contrasting tax policies, with Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Shorten locked in a political stand-off that leaves immediate relief for low to middle-income earners in limbo.

The Prime Minister yesterday branded the Opposition Leader “unbelieva-Bill Shorten” for promising in the budget reply ­address to deliver the policy trifecta of deeper tax relief, greater health and education spending, and a healthier budget bottom line.

“What you saw from the Labor Party was unfunded, uncosted, and unbelieva-Bill Shorten,” Mr Turnbull said. “You can’t believe a word he says … This is the guy who said he gave a gold-plated guarantee that his members of parliament were eligible to sit in the parliament.”

Labor argues the government is holding low-income earners hostage by using legislation to link immediate tax relief for those earning up to $90,000 to a proposed flattening of the tax system from 2024.

Mr Shorten said yesterday the five pending by-elections — four of them triggered by Wednesday’s High Court decision that forced Labor MPs to resign for being dual citizens — would double as a ­referendum on the competing budget visions. “If you want to see 10 million working Australians get better tax cuts — $928 per year for many of those Australians — if you want to get a better deal for working and middle-class Australians, vote for us,” Mr Shorten said.

The government legislation proposes three stages of tax reform. Labor supports the first phase, which would introduce an annual tax offset worth up to $530 and lift the ceiling on the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $87,000 to $90,000. Both measures are due to take effect in July.

In his budget reply address, Mr Shorten proposed expanding the government’s tax offset but launched an in-principle assault on phase three of the government’s tax package, which ­includes a flat 32.5 per cent rate for those on incomes between $41,000 and $200,000 by 2024.

Phase two of the government’s package would take effect in July 2022 and lift the ceiling on the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $90,000 to $120,000. By 2024, under Labor’s plan, workers earning between $120,000 and $200,000 would be between $36 and $106 a week worse off compared with the government’s plan.

Labor Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen yesterday suggested the government should split its tax package into separate bills to ensure phase one of the tax package could take effect in July and ­deliver tax relief for low to middle-income earners.

“Is Scott Morrison seriously saying he won’t give low and ­middle-income earners a tax cut from July 1, 2018, if the parliament doesn’t sign off on massive tax cuts for high-income earners in 2024?”

The government has repeatedly dismissed claims its seven-year tax plan, worth $140 billion over a decade, is tilted towards the rich, pointing out the share of taxpayers in the top tax bracket would increase from 4 per cent in 2016 to 6 per cent by 2024, an increase of almost 400,000 workers.

Former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan in 2011 announced a freeze in indexation of family tax benefits for families earning above $150,000, prompting a debate about who was “rich”.

Under Mr Shorten’s current plan, a tax rate of 49 per cent would apply to those earning more than $180,000. The ­Coalition’s top rate of 47 per cent, including the Medicare levy, would eventually apply to those earning more than $200,000. “Those on the top rate are now paying 30 per cent of all personal income tax,” Mr Morrison said. “Under our plan, their share will actually rise to 36 per cent, so there is no danger of our system losing its progressivity here.”

Mr Bowen said Labor would reserve its support for the later stages of the government’s plan until a Senate committee report, due next month. “$127bn of the $140bn income tax package occurs outside the forward estimates,” he said. “There’s a major ramp in cost over the medium term, especially after 2024-25 when high-income earners get further tax relief.”

Ben Phillips, at the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, said Labor’s plan addressed bracket creep to a “limited extent and certainly much less so than the tax plan of the Coalition”.

The top two income tax thresholds, set at $80,000 and $180,000 in 2008, would have needed to ­increase to $98,400 and $221,400 had they been indexed to the consumer price index since then.

KPMG chief economist Brendan Rynne said yesterday: “It’s worthwhile recognising that taxable income of $200,000 from July 2024 is equivalent to $162,600 in today’s dollars if average wages growth is 3 per cent per annum ­between now and then.”

The number of taxpayers earning more than $95,000 will ­increase from two million this year to 2.96 million by 2022, according the Parliamentary Budget Office.

John Wanna, professor of public administration at the Australian National University, questioned yesterday whether either party’s proposals were genuine tax cuts.

“Offsets, rebates, low-income supplements, concessionary measures, call them what you will … they are also a form of welfare payment,” he told The Weekend Australian.

“The only difference between these repayments and normal welfare is that most welfare recipients are dependent upon welfare benefits, whereas these are for people earning some income and then being made slightly wealthier by government,” he said.

Labor’s offset would lift the effective marginal tax rate to 41.6 per cent for incomes between $90,000 and $125,400.

The combination of the 2 per cent Medicare Levy and Labor’s offset, which would be withdrawn at the rate of 2.6c for every dollar of income between $90,000 and $125,400, complicates the effective tax schedule.

“The government wants to charge workers earning between $90k and $200k a 34.5 per cent marginal tax rate, while Labor has proposed marginal rates of 41.6 per cent, 39 per cent, and 47 per cent (not including the deficit levy) for the same cohort,” Dr Humphreys said.

“Under Labor, the confusion and complexity of the Low to Middle Income Earner Tax Offset would be permanent, resulting in 10 tax brackets and three moments of regressive tax ... compared to the government’s final proposal of eight tax brackets and two moments of regressive tax,” Dr Humphreys said.

“Sadly, neither side of politics shows the slightest awareness that these regressive moments even exist.”


There’s little point in debate when the Left is always right

Like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show we seem to live in blissful ignorance of the absurd confections around us. After the annual six-hour sugar hit of lollies and political spin inside the budget lockup, journalists, politicians and lobbyists re-emerge into a national ­debate every bit as unrealistic and insulated.

(Note to self: Pitch a reality TV show next year that takes a dozen mainstream Australians into the budget lockup to show their reaction to the process and the budget contrasted against what passes for national political debate.)

The jaundice of the debate is often easy to demonstrate by flipping sides. Imagine if it were clear six months ago that four Coalition MPs were dual citizens at the time of the last election but were refusing to resign or refer themselves to the High Court. The media pressure on Malcolm Turnbull and the MPs would have been intense and would have forced action.

Despite the clarity of Labor’s situation, laid bare by the literal interpretations of the Constitution in the Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash cases, Bill Shorten pretended his MPs were OK and his party’s verification processes were thorough. Some of us disputed this back in November but the Opposition Leader was never made to feel the heat. It took the High Court to expose him.

Now we can expect many of the so-called objective ­observers who took Labor at its word to blame the Constitution and push for a referendum on section 44. Different standards often apply across the political divide.

By the way, changing the Constitution is a very bad idea. Federal politicians must have undivided loyalties: do proponents suggest we have a prime minister or foreign minister enter negotiations with say, Britain or China while being dual citizens of those nations? No thanks.

The predisposition of most political journalists holds the Labor line as the reality against which all arguments must be tested. The Coalition case is presumed false until proven correct. Hence Labor escapes much scrutiny.

(This sometimes has a downside for Labor; for instance, the party would have been better served if its dual citizens had quit last year in the middle of Coalition dramas rather than this week, damaging Shorten’s credibility at budget time.)

You will recall how the media believed Labor in government when it blamed “push” factors for the people-smuggling trade. The gallery also was convinced it would be impossible to turn boats back. Both arguments were demonstrably absurd and some of us said so at the time, but it was like whistling in the wind.

Labor also was taken at its word when Kevin Rudd pledged economic conservatism. This acceptance of shallow or false claims from the left is so strongly reinforced through the media, academe and wider national debate that the Coalition often lacks the political courage or intellectual integrity to contest it.

This is why expensive and inefficient expansions of government such as the Gonski education funding, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the National Broadband Network and the ­renewable energy target were not opposed or rescinded by the Coalition. Instead they have added more than $100 billion in costs on the nation (though not all on the budget) during a period of economic hardship and fiscal crisis.

These are examples of how divorced our national debate has become from reality. Sadly, the places we look for answers often present the same artifice.

Think of the public broadcaster’s self-interested hypocrisy on fiscal matters. ABC journalists campaign for additional spending on unemployment benefits, foreign aid and environmental projects yet squeal like stuck pigs over a pause in the growth of their own $1bn budget.

This is a taxpayer-funded ­organisation that pays Media Watch host Paul Barry about $200,000 a year to present a 15-minute television program produced with eight other full-time staff — indulgence almost beyond belief. If they animated the program, shooting 25 modelled still frames for every second of airtime, they still would have a slow working week with time to slip off for a long lunch or May Day march.

Yet in response to this funding pause ABC news director Gaven Morris claimed there is “no more fat to cut at the ABC” as he overstated the cuts by $43 million.

Then, rather than threaten to trim the sort of love handles we see at Media Watch or curtail expansions into niche digital markets, Morris threatened local news outposts at Parramatta, Geelong, Ipswich and ­Gosford. Former ABC stalwart Quentin Dempster tweeted the broadcaster was “in despair” at the “reprisal” cuts that would now be a “major” election issue.

Instead of trimming costs the ABC compounds its sins by using our money to agitate on our broadcaster for more of our taxes. Aunty’s pretence at impartiality was destroyed on Thursday night when the Labor and union-­dominated crowd at Parliament House for Shorten’s budget reply speech erupted in sustained cheers for more ABC funding. The left made it clear it is their ABC.

With friends like that, Michelle Guthrie doesn’t need to work out who her enemies should be.

With such a tendentious, publicly funded behemoth dominating national media it is little wonder our political debate is so far removed from reality.

And then there are the Senate crossbenchers who will decide the fate of the government’s budget centrepiece tax-cut plan. Pauline Hanson’s primary criticism of the budget was that it didn’t cut immigration. Seriously.

Also pivotal is Tim Storer, a nerdish former Labor lawyer who ran at the last election as a member of the Nick Xenophon Team — which is no longer a team and no longer counts Xenophon among its members — but from which he quit before the High Court ruled he was the legal inheritor of the Senate spot. Along the way Storer attracted 189 first-preference votes in his own right. Yet this week he deigns to sit in judgment on the tax package, pontificating on which aspects of the plan he will approve and which he will reject.

Whoever is controlling this narrative creates quite a drama but it has little to do with democracy. It truly is more like reality TV, with the players periodically stepping into the Tardis of the Sky News bureau to communicate their incoherent messages to the nation.

Shorten’s terrible budget reply doubled down on class-warfare rhetoric, promising higher taxes for business and high-­income earners. He also recommitted to his reckless 50 per cent RET and higher emissions reductions. Labor’s plan is to increase costs on business and households yet spend more on schools, health and the ABC (without saying what any of the extra spending will achieve).

The choice at the election will be comically simple and stark.

The Coalition is arguing for the private economy, aspiration and economic growth. Labor is campaigning against business and aspir­ational voters, and promising additional costs and regulation that can only inhibit growth.

This is where reality stretches credulity. The vast media/political apparatus campaigning against the interests of business, taxpayers and aspirational voters is funded by ­taxpayers.

The obvious pillar is the $1.5bn annual funding for the ABC and SBS but universities are powerful via contributions by academics and influence on students — sadly, campuses are hotbeds of ­political correctness and ideological homogenisation. Leftist “think tanks” such as the Australia Institute and McKell Institute push for higher taxes but survive on tax-deductible donations.

Myriad environmental groups also rely on tax- deductibility status and often receive grants. Unions don’t pay tax either. So this swath of publicly funded or subsidised organisations campaigns — strangely enough — for others to pay more tax. A government battles to implement tax cuts against a vast anti-private enterprise alliance funded mainly by taxpayers.

We accept the reality with which we are presented. And we wonder why we don’t forge ahead.


Election combat starts here, as Turnbull and Shorten clash over tax cuts

Rarely have the election battlelines been drawn so early: the dominant feature is Bill Shorten’s rewriting of our political norms by pledging the once untenable ­trifecta of bigger middle-class tax cuts, far greater government spending and a better budget bottom line.

Shorten is betting the house on equity, hostility to banks and surgical action “to bring the fair go back into the heart of the nation”. Labor is running a tax agenda with a majority of winners and a minority of serious losers while the Turnbull government’s medium-term tax package has modest all-round winners and virtually no losers.

While Labor has offered a clever and bigger tax package in the short term through a larger tax refund, meaning four million people will be better off by $398 a year compared with the budget, only the government so far offers a meaningful medium-term reform that goes to rates and thresholds.

To prevail, Malcolm Turnbull must destroy Shorten’s credibility with a fierce negative campaign, the type his government is usually incapable of mustering. Shorten’s trifecta looms as an election-winning package. Lab­or’s confidence is undisguised. It seeks to win the election by raising a $200 billion-plus war chest by tax increases on companies, investors and retirees, and distributing the benefits to a majority of taxpayers.

This is high risk but it’s working so far. The pivotal question is whether Shorten’s trifecta is too good to be believable. Labor is confident on its numbers. But it will face intense pressure to release more financial details.

The Prime Minister drew the link between Shorten’s demonstrated deception of the country on the citizenship issue and his tax and budget claims, which Turnbull branded as “unfunded, uncontested and unbelieva-Bill Shorten”.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says “there was no detail, no costings, no plan” and that Shorten should release his full financial details before the upcoming by-elections. This makes sense, since Shorten declares the by-elections should be a “referendum” on the competing packages.

In his budget reply, Shorten presented himself in three tax postures: as a bigger upfront income tax cutter for working people, saying 10 million people would pay less tax under Labor; as an endless opponent of company tax cuts and the argument that Australia’s uncompetitive rates would hurt the economy; and as an opponent of the final stage of Scott Morrison’s tax design, the attack on bracket creep by having 94 per cent of taxpayers on a 32.5 per cent rate, which Shorten repudiated on fairness grounds. The differences over tax policy and tax values are only widening.

A test of political wills against the by-election backdrop now looms over the government’s $140bn, seven-year tax cut package in three stages. If passed in its entirety, this would constitute an immense victory for Turnbull, giving him a powerful election platform.

What is Labor’s position? If the bill is split, Labor will give passage to stage one, reflecting the government’s $530 refund for middle-income earners from 2018-19. As Shorten has signalled, Labor is extremely unlikely to ever vote for stage three, the real heart of the package. This still leaves a degree of negotiating room. It also means Labor will be under pressure to spell out its own tax policy beyond the forward estimates.

But if the government holds firm and treats the tax cuts as one entire package — and that package is defeated — that would constitute an unforgiving stain on this parliament and political system already deeply discredited over the citizenship fiasco. It would unleash a competing blame game of nasty and unpredictable consequences.

Every policy Shorten an­nounces and nearly every doorstop he gives is designed to show Turnbull “out of touch”, the prime exhibit being the company taxes cuts that Shorten brands as a handout to big business and big banks. He calls the government agenda a “disgrace” and “immoral”. His pitch is that Turnbull could be giving working people bigger tax cuts and spending more on health and education but chooses to prioritise his mates in big business and banks.

The reality is different. Despite the endless rhetoric, there is no connection between Shorten’s tax cuts costing $5.8bn across the four years of forward estimates from 2018-19 and Turnbull’s proposed $36bn big business tax cuts that begin to trigger for banks only in 2023-24, five years away. The latter foregone revenue could not be used to finance the former concessions. Moreover, by the time the banks get the full benefit from the company tax cuts in 2026-27, they will have paid out $16bn from the bank levy.

The reality is also different in relation to the government’s attack on bracket creep. Shorten’s claims here are populist and deceptive. “How on earth can it be fair for a nurse on $40,000 to pay the same tax rate as a doctor on $200,000?” he asks. “For a cleaner to pay the same tax rate as a CEO?” It is a ruthlessly effective line but false.

By 2024-25, under the Morrison scheme, a person on $41,000 will pay $4767 in tax, which means an average tax rate of about 11.6 per cent while a person on $200,000 will pay $60,007 in tax, an average tax rate of more than 30 per cent. That is, the person on $200,000, earning five times as much, pays 12.6 times more tax.

Far from the government’s model being a problem because of lack of progressivity, the opposite argument is more relevant and more of a problem. Under the 2015-16 scales, there are 420,000 taxpayers in the top bracket; under the new system, that number will expand to 820,000 taxpayers. The proportion of tax­payers in the top bracket ­expands from 5 per cent to 6 per cent.

More telling, however, is that under the 2015-16 scales, the proportion of tax paid by taxpayers in the top bracket was 30 per cent, while under the new model the 6 per cent of taxpayers in the top bracket will contribute 36 per cent of the tax. That is, the better-off are paying a far bigger share of tax. Those on $41,000 or less, totalling 2,730,000 taxpayers, will be contributing just 2 per cent of the tax.

This real question to be asked is this: how tenable is it for such a small proportion of taxpayers to be contributing so much of the revenue while more than four out of 10 households in this country pay no net tax but have all their benefits financed by others?

Elimination of tax brackets inevitably creates equity issues. But even the Grattan Institute in its critical analysis of the government’s package grudgingly admits the new design, when fully implemented, doesn’t “much” change the progressivity of the system.

The centrepiece of the budget, Morrison’s $140bn personal income tax cut package over a decade and defined in three stages, faces a struggle to pass the Senate. This is an insight into our politics where spending and tax increases are frequently projected over a decade. The issue, however, remains in the early days of negotiation.

A Senate committee will assess the package and will report back by June 18. It would be a mistake to dismiss any hopes for the government since the package involves, at varying stages, tax cuts for everyone. The pressure on the Senate crossbenchers to vote for the package will be significant. What exactly is the benefit for crossbench senators in sinking the package? Pauline Hanson, who will be pivotal, has accepted stages one and two: not a bad starting point for the government.

The government and Labor are now positioning for this coming test of wills. But with the tax package costing $13.4bn across the four years of forward estimates and $140bn across the decade, it is ­obvious the big gains are rear-end loaded. Labor, naturally, wants to explore via the Senate committee the year-on-year costs and the fully distributive impact.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen told The Australian: “The fact is $127bn of the $140bn income tax package occurs outside the forward estimates.

“There’s a major ramp in cost over the medium term, especially after 2024-25, when high-income earners get further tax relief. Labor will use the Senate inquiry to ask Treasury for the answers to basic questions that the Prime Minister and Treasurer refused to answer this week, before taking a final view on the balance of the ­package.”

Passage of the entire package based on crossbench support would give the government its greatest political momentum this term and would represent the implementation of its budget strategy. This rests on splitting the revenues in coming years between restoration of the budget surplus and returning benefits to taxpayers. This balance is the essence of the budget.

It mirrors two calculations. First, the political calculation that the government must take to the next election a more broadbased tax reform agenda, beyond the company tax cuts. That means shifting the debate in part to people and away from companies. It also represents the surely correct view that going to the election with just a bigger surplus and corporate tax cuts would be far too thin a platform after two terms of office.

Second, it involves the values-based and ideological proposition that a Liberal government must impose a taxation ceiling on how the nation returns to surplus, hence the tax to GDP benchmark of 23.9 per cent. This guarantees a major difference between the parties with Labor seeking its return to surplus on a much higher taxation and spending regime overall.

Fundamental to this strategy is Turnbull’s pitch on investment, growth and jobs. He campaigns as a superior economic manager with an impressive record of job creation and an economy-wide strategy to boost investment over the medium term. Labor seeks to puncture this by pledging a better and more responsible surplus, thereby denying Turnbull the attack he mounted on Labor in the 2016 election over its bigger deficit across the forward estimates.

The risk for the government is the nation may be more focused these days on equity rather than growth. If this is true, then Shorten is master of the zeitgeist and he becomes PM. Turnbull’s job is to persuade the nation that growth and investment strategies for the private sector — witness the corporate tax cuts — are vital for the 85 per cent of Australians employed in private enterprise.

Shorten also seeks a more broadbased election strategy: witness what he calls his “winning trifecta” given its strongest expression so far in his budget reply. He explained what this meant: “a genuine tax cut for middle and working-class Australians; proper funding for hospitals, schools and the safety net; and paying back more of Australia’s national debt faster”.

What makes the trifecta possible, however, is tax redistribution, creating a $200bn-plus war chest via higher corporate taxes; a higher tax rate at 49 per cent for the top personal income tax bracket; and a crackdown on negative gearing, capital gains, trusts and franking credits refunds. This will have serious costs for companies, the aspirational class, the better off, investors and many retirees. Whether Turnbull, Morrison and Cormann can turn this equation against Shorten remains to be seen.

The sheer numbers behind Shorten’s tax pitch must gain some traction: across the forward estimates, Labor offers a yearly refund of $928 in the income range $50,000 to $90,000, phasing down such that, as Shorten says, “everyone earning less than $125,000 a year will receive a bigger tax cut under Labor compared to the Liberals”.

Labor’s cut-off point is calculated to ensure a majority of taxpayers are winners. It seeks political ownership of the “tax cuts for working families” mantle in the election. This compares with the Morrison budget, where step one of the tax package provides a refund for 10 million taxpayers including 4.4 million getting the full $530 to be paid as a lump sum on assessment of 2018-19 tax returns.

Meanwhile, this week showed no respite from the government’s tactical ineptitude. It was revealed in a startling style on Wednesday, the day after the budget, when the High Court found against Labor senator Katy Gallagher and four MPs including three Labor MPs, who were forced to announce their resignations at lunchtime. It was a humiliation for Shorten.

This was the final demonstration that all Shorten’s assurance for eight months that Labor had no case to answer on dual citizenship, that its vetting processes were tight and that he could “guarantee” no Labor MP was involved were exposed as false. It is extremely rare that a political leader is left so naked and exposed. The issue went to Shorten’s credibility. The government did not ask a single question on the issue at question time that day.

It confused form for substance. It thought that running on the budget was better. It misunderstood that highlighting Shorten’s proved lack of credibility on the constitutional imperative of citizenship would undermine his related credibility on the budget.

So far, this is one of the most disreputable episodes in the ­national parliament in recent decades. MPs who were dual citizens were sitting in the parliament, drawing their salaries, insisting they had no case to answer and living by a false legal notion exposed in earlier High Court judgments and repeated again in the Gallagher judgment.

You can forget any referendum to change the Constitution to allow MPs to be dual citizens. The idea is laughable. Senior ministers have no interest. They know any such priority would be misplaced.

Given the shoddy performance of the parliament, can you imagine what the public would say to a referendum designed to solve the problem by making dual citizenship permissible so those MPs who have been so reluctant to honour their obligations under the Constitution won’t have to worry any more?


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, 2018

Australia on dark road to Fascism: Greens

Talk about projection (seeing your own faults in others)!  Projection is characteristic of the Green/Left.  The Duke of Edinburgh once called the Greens "The stop everything brigade" and that is apt.  They want to control and change almost everything that people do. If that's not fascism, what would be?  The founder of Fascism was Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.  And he WAS a Greenie:

Mussolini the environmentalist

As well as being an "anti-globalizer", there were several other ways in which Mussolini would have appealed to modern-day greenies. He made Capri a bird sanctuary and in 1926 he issued a decree reducing the size of newspapers to save wood pulp. And, believe it or not, he even mandated gasohol -- i.e. mixing industrial alcohol with petroleum products to make fuel for cars  Mussolini also disliked the population drift from rural areas into the big cities and in 1930 passed a law to put a stop to it unless official permission was granted. What Green/Left advocate could ask for more?

And to address the Fascist below directly:

It is the consolidation of several control agencies under one head that arouses him.  But that is not Fascist.  Authority in Hitler's Germany, for instance, was in fact polycentric.  There was the Schutz Staffeln, the Sturm Abteilung, the Heer, the Geheimestaatspolizei and the Polizei. And the various government departments all had various degrees of authority and mechanisms for control

Australia has taken the first steps on a dark road to fascism with the creation of the new home affairs super-department, a Greens senator has warned.

Nick McKim says the minor party has serious concerns about the powers handed to minister Peter Dutton in the new department, which includes national security and immigration portfolios.

"This country is walking ever more rapidly down the road to authoritarianism and totalitarianism," Senator McKim told parliament on Wednesday.

"Time after time this government demonstrates its disregard and contempt for the rule of law. That is one of the early warning signs of fascism."

The government had failed to give reasons for the new department which was created in December.

Legislation to finalise the establishment of Home Affairs and boost oversight powers of the attorney-general cleared parliament on Wednesday.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has been brought into the new department, which also looks after federal law enforcement, national security, immigration, emergency management and criminal justice.

Despite raising concerns with the increased powers, Labor voted for the bill.

"Our primary concern is that the government has struggled to explain why the sweeping changes to be brought about by this bill are required at all," opposition senator Jenny McAllister said

Cabinet minister Mitch Fifield said the new department would ensure Australians had confidence in the scrutiny and oversight of intelligence agencies. "Security and integrity go hand in hand," he said.

Senator McKim took aim at Mr Dutton's record on the treatment of refugees in offshore processing, saying he didn't trust him with more power.

It's not the first time Senator McKim has targeted Mr Dutton, having previously labelled him a racist and a fascist.

For his part, Mr Dutton is a strident critic of what he's called the "hotbed of crazies" within the Greens.


Australia's refugee deal stumbling after US rejects all Iranian and Somali asylum seekers

Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban is influencing Australia’s offshore processing system – with all Iranian and Somali refugees rejected for resettlement in the US.

The third version of Donald Trump’s travel ban bars or limits entry to citizens of five Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen – as well as North Korea. The ban’s constitutionality is currently being considered by the supreme court but is currently in effect.

About 150 refugees held in offshore processing on the island of Nauru have appointments with US officials this week, where they will discover final assessments of whether they have been accepted by America. So far, every Iranian and Somali applicant has been rejected.

The ABF [Australian Border Force] has escalated its presence on Nauru for this week’s meetings and stepped up the security around the camps and the island settlements.

Iranian refugee Shahriar Hatami said the environment across the island was disruptive and distressed. “Highly security environment again spread everywhere. In our camp a deadly [silence] is dominant.”

On Manus Island, the refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani said all Iranians and Somalis were fearful they would be rejected.

“There is huge worry in Nauru & Manus about US deal,” he wrote. “Many Iranian & Somali refugees in Nauru given rejection notices from US. It means US considers the countries banned. Its time for that the Home Affairs minister takes responsibility & makes his plan clear.”

The Australian government has promoted the US resettlement deal as its solution to offshore processing but, for more than a year, it has conceded that the US deal cannot clear the camps.

Thus far, 85 refugees have been resettled from Manus and 162 from Nauru. US officials hope to finalise the resettlement deal by October, when its annual resettlement quota restarts.

More than 500 refugees are expected to be left on the island of Nauru even if the US fulfils its entire commitment of 1,250 places.

Only a handful of refugees have been resettled in Papua New Guinea and the Nauru government has consistently refused to permanently resettle any refugees. Both the PNG and Nauru governments have consistently maintained those refugees not accepted for resettlement remain the responsibility of Australia.

“It’s Australia’s responsibility to move them out,” the PNG prime minister, Peter O’Neill, said.

The Nauruan president, Baron Waqa, said: “They can’t stay on Nauru forever, we’ve made that clear right from the start.”

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the US resettlement had been “revealed to be a farce”. “Iranian refugees account for around a third of all refugees on Nauru,” he said. “It is just not possible for all Iranians to be rejected on any legitimate basis.

“While Trump says there is no official ban on Iranians and Somalis, it is now very clear that the US administration is imposing an unofficial ban. It is not a coincidence that all Iranians are being rejected.

“Turnbull’s phone call to Trump is coming back to haunt him. Turnbull told Trump that he didn’t have to accept anyone; now Trump is taking him at his word.”

Over the past five years, Australia has approached dozens of countries – including Kyrgyzstan – offering millions of dollars and other inducements in exchange for resettling some refugees from Australia’s camps. But the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, said this week there were no “third country” resettlement options beyond the US and the Cambodian deal, which has resettled only two refugees at a cost of more than $40m.

New Zealand has a standing offer to resettle 150 refugees from Australia’s offshore islands every year but this has been rejected by the government as a “back door” to Australia.

“We will continue to look at third-country arrangements,” Dutton said. “Believe me, Dfat, our department have been working on this for a number of years. People aren’t jumping out of their skin to provide places and that’s the reality.”


Sexism in the Army

Medals for women, students over male soldiers

FEMALE recruits are being awarded the Australian Defence­ Force medal in half the time it takes their male counterparts.

And gap year students who join up for a 12-month “adventure” have that service taken into account, also cutting­ the time it takes them to qualify for a medal.

Critics say the rules have made the medal, which honours­ military attendance, “meaningless”, claiming they have taken “discrimination against men” to “farcical” levels.

Female members of the Al Muthanna Task Group in Iraq.
Last year The Daily Telegraph revealed ADF recruiters were told to actively target females­, including for combat roles, but were given no targets­ to hire men for 35 of 50 army positions.

To encourage women to join up, Defence cut the minimum four-year period of service that applies to men to just two years for females. The gap year program also targets women.

The Australian Defence Medal is given to members of the military after four years, or at the completion of their enlistment period — meaning female­ recruits get the medal in half the time of males.

Those who spend a gap year experiencing “what a career in the navy, army or air force could be like” have that 12 months included in their service time if they then enlist full-time.

Ex-soldier and military commentator Bernard Gaynor said he had been contacted by defence personnel­ who said morale was suffering over this latest example­ of political correctness­. “The defence force’s discrimination­ against men has become farcical,” Mr Gaynor­ said.

“Males who sign up for frontline combat roles now need to serve double the time as females­ to get the same medal. This is blatant discrimination­ and it is having a serious impact on morale.

“If females­ want to serve alongside the men, they should do so with exactly the same entitlements­ and requirements. Anything else is just politically correct social engineering.”

Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi said Defence was “creating an unequal workplace for men”.

“The morale of troops has been squandered on this diversity­ agenda and it is about time they got back to what they are supposed to do which is defending Australia,” he said.

A Defence spokesman said there was “no intent” to change the policy regarding ­required service periods for the Australian Defence Medal.

“The length of service is determined­ by the required training needed to ensure­ the member is proficient in their role,” the spokesman said.


Citizenship debacle: Bill Shorten to face leadership test

Bill Shorten’s leadership will be put on trial in a “Super Saturday” of five simultaneous by-elections, four of them triggered by the resignations yesterday of three Labor MPs and one independent in ­response to a ruling by the High Court on the parliament’s ongoing dual citizenship crisis.

The besieged Labor leader yesterday declared the string of by-elections — four of them in Labor-held seats and expected to be held on the same Saturday in either late June or early July — would double as an early referendum on the Turnbull government’s budget.

After more than seven months denying any Labor MP was under a citizenship cloud, the Opposition Leader yesterday was forced to face an extraordinary day in parliament that began with former ACT senator Katy Gallagher being ruled ineligible to sit in parliament, followed by the resignations of three lower house Labor MPs — Susan Lamb, Justine Keay and Josh Wilson. Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie also fell on her sword after acknowledging the ruling meant that she could not ­remain in ­parliament.

The political crisis engulfed Mr Shorten, whose leadership could hinge on the outcomes of the ­by-elections, ahead of his budget-in-reply speech tonight, which is expected to outline Labor’s alternative to Scott Morrison’s $140 billion seven-year personal income tax plan.

Senior party officials on both sides of politics conceded that the by-elections, which will also include the seat of Perth after the unrelated resignation of Labor MP Tim Hammond last week, could decide the fate of either leader.

If Mr Shorten were to lose one or two of the Labor-held seats, his leadership would come under intense pressure. But a senior Liberal MP warned: “Equally, if the ­Coalition vote went backwards in any of those contests, it would spark a major panic in the partyroom.”

Asked whether the by-­elections would double as a referendum on company tax cuts, Mr Shorten said that, even if he lost seats, he thought the cuts were a “bad idea”.

He said Labor would explain to voters that “this hoax of a budget … which is all about giving large corporations billions of dollars in taxpayer money” would mean less money was available for schools, hospitals, debt “and indeed ­income tax relief for lower-paid Australians”.

The High Court yesterday returned after almost six months to rule that Ms Gallagher had been ineligible under section 44 of the Constitution to stand in the 2016 election because she was also a British citizen at the time of nomination. The three lower house Labor MPs and Ms Sharkie had the same British citizenship questions hanging over their heads.


Georgina Downer’s destiny: Mayo bid set for launch

A scion of a remarkable political dynasty

Georgina Downer — daughter of former foreign minister and member for Mayo, Alexander Downer — will return early from an ­election-observation delegation in East Timor today to launch a bid to reclaim the Adelaide Hills electorate for the Liberal Party.

After the resignation yesterday of MP Rebekha Sharkie over the dual-citizenship fiasco, a by-election is expected as early as next month.

In a telephone conference overnight, Liberal Party officials were expected to decide to hold an open and quick preselection for Mayo. Ms Downer will nominate and it is unknown whether there will be any other candidate.

The Australian revealed yesterday that Ms Downer was a certain starter for the preselection. She would be the fourth generation in her family to engage in federal politics. Born and raised in the electorate, Ms Downer now lives in ­Melbourne with her husband, Will Heath, and two children. However, she is well known and connected in the area as a frequent visitor with strong support among the branch membership.

It is understood Ms Downer held British citizenship by descent from her mother, Nicky, but ­officially renounced it last year.

Ms Sharkie is a former Liberal Party staffer who signed up with the now-defunct Nick Xenophon Team and unseated junior Liberal minister Jamie Briggs at the 2016 election after he had been forced to resign over a sexual harassment controversy.

A lawyer and former diplomat, Ms Downer is a research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, ­office holder in the Victorian Liberal Party and is often seen as a political commentator on Sky News and the ABC. She has been in East Timor as part of an International Republican Institute delegation but decided to return to Australia upon news of Ms Sharkie’s resignation.

As foreign minister, her father was instrumental in the liberation of East Timor and its establishment as an independent nation.

Ms Downer’s great-grandfather, Sir John, was a South Australian premier, senator and key figure in Federation. His son, Sir Alexander, was a former Japanese prisoner of war who represented the Adelaide Hills area in the federal parliament, in an electorate then named Angas, for 15 years. “Alick” was immigration minister in the Menzies government and went on to serve as high commissioner in London.

His son, Alexander, held the seat of Mayo (covering a similar region to Angas) from 1984 till 2008 and was Australia’s longest-serving foreign minister. Coincidentally, Mr Downer returned to Adelaide from his posting as high commissioner to London just last week.

Mr Downer has been actively discussing his daughter’s candidature for Mayo with party operatives including state president and former premier John Olsen. The Mayo federal electorate committee recently intervened to thwart attempts by Ms Sharkie, a former Liberal staffer, to rejoin the party and seek its endorsement to stay on in the seat.

Now Ms Downer is likely to be given the task to reclaim the seat for the Liberal Party. Her name recognition in the electorate will be strong and she will have active support from a wide network of party supporters.

Mr Downer would not comment on his daughter’s candidacy, saying only that “historically, the seat of Mayo has played a key role in an Australian Liberal government and I hope it can again in the near future”.


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

10 May, 2018

Is this the end of 'unpopular' Bill Shorten?

Three Labor MPs RESIGN forcing by-elections for being BRITISH when they were elected - as a fourth steps down in a seat expected to go to Turnbull.  Shorten's popularity in the polls is well behind Turnbull's

Three Labor MPs and a minor party politician have quit federal parliament for being dual British citizens.

The flurry of resignations came hours after the High Court found Opposition senator Katy Gallagher was ineligible to stand for the 2016 election because of her British ties.

Marginal seat Opposition backbenchers Susan Lamb and Justine Keay, along with Josh Wilson, have subsequently quit the House of Representatives, sparking a series of by-elections, following pressure from the Turnbull Government.

Minor party lower house MP Rebekha Sharkie, who was elected in 2016 as a Nick Xenophon Team candidate, has also quit parliament.

First-term Labor MP Susan Lamb won the outer northern Brisbane seat of Longman by a 0.8 per cent margin, or just 1,390 votes, at the 2016 election by defeating junior minister Wyatt Roy.

She faces a tough challenge to keep her seat although she indicated she would renounce her British citizenship and contest the upcoming by-election. 'I am not done yet. I intend to be back,' Ms Lamb told parliament on Wednesday.

In February, Ms Lamb's stepmother Maureen Cant questioned the MP's tearful claim in parliament she could not renounce her British citizenship because her mother abandoned her at the school gates when she was six, and was 'not around' to provide her marriage certificate to her biological father, who was British.

Rebekha Sharkie, who won the Adelaide Hills-based electorate of Mayo off the Liberal Party at the last election, also quit parliament over concern she was a dual Briton.

This will spark a by-election in the Adelaide Hills seat of Mayo, where the Nick Xenophon Team candidate defeated former Liberal minister Jamie Briggs with a massive 17.5 per cent swing.

Ms Sharkie, who is now with the Central Alliance, faces a strong challenge from the Turnbull Government in the previously safe Liberal electorate once held by former foreign minister Alexander Downer.

Her resignation came just six months after her NXT colleague Skye Kakoschke-Moore resigned from the Senate after the High Court found she was a dual British citizen.

In Fremantle, south of Perth, first-term Labor MP Josh Wilson is also a dual Brit, however this seat would be unlikely to be picked up by the Liberals in an upcoming by-election despite the 7.5 per cent margin.

'Until today's decision the reasonable steps test had been accepted for more than 25 years in this country,' Mr Wilson told the House of Represenatives.

Another by-election is being held in the Labor-held seat of Perth, after first-term MP and former barrister Tim Hammond resigned citing the pressure of being away from his two young children.

Senator Gallagher's replacement in the upper house will come from Labor under a 1977 constitutional change.

However, the High Court's decision had put a cloud over the four MPs in the lower house, who dramatically announced their resignations on Wednesday afternoon.

The Turnbull Government was returned to power with a bare one-seat majority in July 2016 so a by-election in either in Longman or Braddon could help the Coalition boost its numbers in the House of Representatives.

The Coalition had been calling for those Labor MPs, Susan Lamb and Justine Keay, to resign from parliament, with senior minister Christopher Pyne in early April predicting they and Josh Wilson would be quitting parliament.

Since July last year, section 44 of the constitution, which bans dual citizens from being federal members of parliament, has ended the political careers of former Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam.

The citizenship fiasco has also seen crossbench firebrand Jacqui Lambie kicked out of the Senate along with former deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash and former Liberal Senate president Stephen Parry, for being dual citizens of the United Kingdom by descent.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and Liberal MP John Alexander, a former tennis champion, resigned from the House of Representatives last year but were returned in December by-elections, after they discovered they had ties to New Zealand and Britain through their fathers.


Cash payment crackdown to counter tax evasion and black economy

Australians will face a crackdown on cash-in-hand payments in an attempt by government to reduce money laundering and tax evasion.

The Turnbull government has turned its attention to the “black economy” in an attempt to raise billions of extra dollars and intends to limit cash payments for purchase goods and services to $10,000.

The measure was announced in Tuesday’s budget, which introduced a suite of tax integrity measures aimed at individuals and companies.

“The black economy undermines community trust in the tax system, gives some businesses an unfair competitive advantage, puts pressure on margins of honest businesses, and often includes exploitation of vulnerable employees through the underpayment of wages and loss of entitlements,” said Kelly O’Dwyer, the financial services minister.

The government’s largest black economy measure is a crackdown on illicit tobacco, which it expects to raise $3.6bn over the next four years.

It says the three main sources of illicit tobacco in Australia are smuggling, leakage from licensed warehouses, and illicit domestic production. To combat this, it will create an illicit tobacco taskforce with powers to prosecute organised crime groups at the centre of the illicit tobacco trade.

It will introduce permits for all tobacco imports (except tobacco imported by travellers within duty-free limits), and require tobacco importers to pay all duty and tax liabilities upon importation. That is a change from the current system where tobacco can be imported and stored in licensed warehouses prior to taxes being paid.


Coalition's plan to dock welfare for debtors savaged by advocates

Getting money you are not entitled to seems to be OK with the Left

The Coalition’s plan to dock people’s welfare if they repeatedly fail to pay fines has been denounced as a “brutal” measure that will drive those on the lowest incomes into homelessness.

Tuesday’s federal budget delivered a string of hits for welfare recipients, as the Coalition continued its push to glean savings from its social security spending.

There was no increase to the poverty-level Newstart payment, despite the pleas of community groups, and the already overstretched Department of Human Services was targeted with 1,200 job cuts.

The Coalition’s controversial debt recovery program has been extended, and new migrants will have to wait four years, instead of the current two, before accessing Newstart.

Advocates say the most punitive measure is a plan to dock the welfare of people who are repeatedly unable to pay fines. The commonwealth would be able to make compulsory deductions from the welfare of “serial fine defaulters who have outstanding state and territory court-imposed fines”. The government would also be able to suspend or cancel welfare for anyone with an outstanding arrest warrant for a serious criminal offence.

The National Social Security Rights Network has warned the measure will compound the plight of Australia’s most disadvantaged. The network’s executive director, Leanne Ho, said it risked pushing welfare recipients into homelessness or, in some cases, prison.

It also flew in the face of programs designed to ensure the inability to pay a fine didn’t snowball into more serious problems for the lowest paid.

“The same kind of people who generally end up with an amount of fines they just can’t deal with are going to end up homeless or, in a lot of these cases, possibly in prison,” Ho told Guardian Australia.

“It’s probably one of the most urgent measures we want to discuss with the department. The reality of people’s lives when they’re in that position is that things snowball out of control, one fine leads to another, and the capacity for people to deal with those [diminishes].”

The chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, Cassandra Goldie, described the measure as “particularly brutal”.  “People on low incomes are just going to be sent into homelessness,” said Goldie.

“It’s completely out of touch with the reality of people on very low incomes and the capacity for people to pay these kind of fines and debt.” Goldie said anyone who believed last night’s budget was “victimless” was clearly out of touch. “There are clear victims from this budget. It is not a budget for people on a low income, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee essential services,” Goldie said.

It is unclear how much the government is looking to save through the fine recovery measure. It requires negotiation with the states and territories before it can be implemented.


School chaplain program's $247m budget extension rejected by teachers' union

The Australian Education Union has joined a chorus of secular groups in opposing the Coalition’s decision to extend the school chaplains program in the 2018 budget.

Tuesday’s budget confirmed the federal government will give $247m over four years to continue the controversial program, which places 3,000 chaplains recognised by religious groups in schools to provide pastoral care.

According to budget documents, the renewed program will have “an enhanced focus on addressing bullying in schools”.

Luke Howarth and dozens of other Coalition MPs have pushed to expand the program, despite warnings from the Rationalist Society of Australia that it “interferes with the right to religious freedom and involves religious discrimination in hiring decisions” because secular pastoral care workers cannot be hired.

The Australian Education Union president, Correna Haythorpe, said: “We do not support the chaplains program.

“Our schools need these funds to invest in programs such as school counsellors and student wellbeing programs in schools. We prefer to see that money invested in our schools more broadly.”

In March the education minister, Simon Birmingham, said he had received “representations from many, many schools around the country, arguing in favour of the continuation of that program”.

Alison Courtice, a spokeswoman for Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools, said the government had ignored “many representations opposing the program and urging, at the very least, that the religious requirement be removed”.

Courtice said the Queensland guidelines allowed for groups employing chaplains to apply for a temporary waiver of minimum qualifications, but “no such waiver applies to the faith requirement ... which clearly illustrates that the program is about religion more than what’s best for students”.

Although chaplains are not allowed to proselytise, Courtice noted the same people were allowed to deliver religious instruction when not on chaplaincy hours. She called this “a concerning blurring of the lines, with students potentially failing to distinguish between the roles”.

Secular groups are concerned chaplains can skirt the rules by telling a personal story of embracing religion, inviting guests who encourage children to attend religious services or other religious events, or using materials such as the Qbla app, which contains more overt religious material.

In a 2015 consultation report the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that at almost all the public meetings it held, complaints were raised about the chaplains program.

But the commission refused to review the program in 2018 when the Rationalist Society raised a complaint, citing the fact the review conducted by former minister Philip Ruddock is already investigating freedom of religion.

In April Guardian Australia reported the federal and several state governments had stopped counting complaints against the school chaplains program after responsibility for administering the program was transferred to the states in 2015 as a result of a high court challenge.

In 2015 federal Education Department officials told Senate estimates that in the previous year, 2,312 of the program’s 2,336 chaplains were Christian. The rest were adherents of Islam (13), Judaism (eight) and one each from Bahá’í, Buddhism and Aboriginal traditional religions.


“People are muzzled”: why Australia isn’t discussing unsustainable immigration

Many Australians are reluctant to publicly criticise our unsustainable immigration intake due to fears they will be labelled a racist or white supremacist, a new study has found.

The paper by The Australian Population Research Institute  found that 65% of participants think that those who publicly question mass migration are seen as xenophobic. It seems debate is being suppressed as a result, with freedom of speech falling by the wayside.

“What’s interesting is a large chunk of people want immigration reduced,” explains Catharine Betts, who wrote the report.

“But when asked do you feel uncomfortable talking about this, a lot of them say they are. They’re worried people will get the wrong idea. People are muzzled.”

The study also exposed an increasing chasm between how the political elite and the general public conceptualise population policy. Though 54% of those surveyed want an immigration cut and 74% think Australia is full, only 4% of politicians publicly favour migration restrictions.

Ms Betts says that the claimed “nexus” between a big Australia and economic prosperity is being wrongly used by politicians to justify the current 190,000 a year intake.

“The big fallacy here is that yes, if you add more people, gross domestic product will rise. But if we’re talking about wealth per capita, it’s not rising.”


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, 2018

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says he is close to being able to fast-track paperwork to bring persecuted white South African farmers to Australia

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has revealed persecuted white South African farmers are not 'too far off' from being fast-tracked into Australia.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last month said he wanted the issue of the transfer of land from white to black owners to be resolved 'once and for all'. 

A fast-track plan to bring up to 10,000 South African farmers to Australia has been put to the Immigration Minister in a push to remove at-risk families from danger.

Minister Dutton said it won't be long before he's able to offer the first places for the farmers in an interview with Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine.

 'I will review many of those cases and look individually at the circumstances around those cases and as we've said before we think there is certainly a necessity to act and to provide that support to people who are in trouble, who face persecution, and I'm not going to step back from that position,' he said.

Mr Dutton said he would be looking at the allegations people have made and verify information to ensure he brings in 'the right people'.

'There's a bit of time involved in going through and checking the bonafides of individual cases, because we want to make sure we're bringing the right people, the most deserving people, and we'll do that,' he told the columnist. 'But I don't think it'll be too far off in terms of the first places that we're able to offer.'

Ramaphosa said after his inauguration in March he would speed up the transfer of land to black people, providing food production and security was preserved.

'We are going to address this and make sure that we come up with resolutions that resolve this once and for all,' he said.

'This original sin that was committed when our country was colonised must be resolved in a way that will take South Africa forward.'

White farmers control 73 percent of arable land compared with 85 percent, when the apartheid system ended in 1994.


Citizenship ruling a potential Labor pain

The government is piling pressure on Bill Shorten ahead of tomorrow’s High Court ruling on the citizenship eligibility of senator Katy Gallagher, saying three more Labor MPs must immediately resign if the court rules against the ACT senator.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said there would be no need to refer MPs Susan Lamb, Justine Keay and Josh Wilson to the High Court if Senator Gallagher were found ineligible.

All three have admitted they were still British citizens when they nominated to stand for parliament, while Ms Lamb, the Member for Longman, has admitted she did not provide the required documents to the British Home Office to renounce her citizenship.

“As far as Susan Lamb is concerned, by her own admission she is a British citizen as well as an Australian citizen, which is a clear breach of the Constitution. So she should long have resigned her seat to face a by-election,” Senator Cormann told ABC radio.

“The question is going to be a question for Bill Shorten: is he finally going to show some strength of character here.”

Opposition finance spokesman Jim Chalmers said Labor would await the High Court’s ruling before commenting.  “I obviously won’t predict or pre-empt what the High Court might say about her eligibility,” he said.

“That’s a mug’s game, as the Prime Minister learned when he confidently predicted that Barnaby Joyce would be found eligible to sit in the parliament. Of course, that went a very different way.”

Senator Gallagher has argued she took “all reasonable steps” to renounce her citizenship before nominating.

If the court rules Senator Gallagher ineligible to remain in parliament, she would be replaced by the next candidate on the ACT’s Senate ticket, Professionals Australia director David Smith.

However, the elevation of Mr Smith to the Senate would upset Labor’s factional representation in the chamber. Mr Smith is from the party’s right faction, while Senator Gallagher is from the left. It’s understood he would be likely to face a preselection challenge at the next election from the party’s left, seeking to install one of their own in the plum Senate role.

Last year, Mr Shorten said Labor had “strict” vetting processes and there was “no cloud over any of our people”.

Former Nick Xenophon Team MP Rebekha Sharkie, the Member for Mayo, is also facing possible resignation, or referral to the High Court, for being a British citizen when she nominated to stand.


Irrigators and Indigenous groups are cautiously optimistic about a deal struck by the Coalition Government and Labor to give certainty to communities in the Murray-Darling Basin

The two sides of politics reached an agreement on Monday to pass elements of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan that aim to do more for the environment with less water.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) wants to return less water to the environment in the southern basin, saying it needs to balance the need to improve the river's health with the need to protect jobs in irrigation-dependent communities.

Water Minister David Littleproud said the deal would give the Murray-Darling Basin's 2 million residents clarity so they could get on with their lives.

The news was greeted with joy by the Southern Riverina Irrigators, a group representing more than 2,000 farmers along the Murray River in New South Wales.

"I may have got a little bit excited and I may have had a little scream in my motel room," chairwoman Gabrielle Coupland said.
Doing more with less

The agreement will pass a plan to undertake works on the river system to deliver water to key sites more efficiently. It means 605 fewer gigalitres of water will be taken for the environment.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan has remained controversial ever since its introduction back in 2012. So, what is it again and why is it back on the agenda?

The deal also supports a plan to reduce the take for the environment by 70 gigalitres in the northern half of the river system.

Irrigators said the deal provided certainty about how much water would be available in the Murray-Darling Basin and how the system would work once the plan was finalised.

"We will have certainty for ourselves, our businesses, our communities and our environment as well," Ms Coupland said.

"Volume alone will not fix the environmental challenges along our river system. "We need measures to make sure the water gets to where it needs to be, when it needs to be there, to make sure we achieve what we need to achieve for the environment."

The Australian Dairy Industry Council also welcomed the deal, but with some reservations.

"It's amazing what can be achieved with bipartisanship when there is no South Australian election involved," the council's water spokesman Daryl Hoey said.

The original basin plan was for 2,750 gigalitres of water to be taken for the environment. That amount will now be reduced.

But while Labor was in government the plan changed, when then-prime minister Julia Gillard and water minister Penny Wong signed the states up to another 450 gigalitres of water for the environment, if it could be shown the water could be attained without socioeconomic impact.

In a statement announcing the deal, Mr Littleproud said the 450 gigalitres of water would be recovered for the basin.

"The Government has reiterated its commitment to the 450 gigalitres, and the process of attaining it can now begin," he said.

But that part of the deal has angered the dairy industry, which has lost the bulk of its water in the southern Murray-Darling and believes the region cannot afford to lose any more.

"If that water is going to be taken through off-farm and no more on-farm efficiency programs or out of urban water then great, go for it," Mr Hoey said.


'My confidence level in weather forecasters is very low. It's burnt us': Drought-stricken farmer's despair after the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts a wet summer - but it was one of his driest EVER - as the big dry ravages the region

The BoM bomb again.  They integrate global warming into their forecasting models so it is no wonder they get it wrong

An award-winner farmer has lost confidence in the Bureau of Meteorology's predictions after a 'wet' long-term forecast was followed by a devastatingly dry summer.

Huge swathes of New South Wales' north-west have been gripped by drought in recent years, with suffering farmers running out of water and selling off their livestock. 

Cotton, canola and wheat farmer John Hamparsum told Daily Mail Australia the drought hit his farm particularly hard last year, after a hopeful weather forecast failed to pan out.

'It's like somebody tells you you've got a really good tip on a horse - but that tip was totally wrong and the horse ran dead last,' he said.

The winner of the 2015 Brownhill Award - a prestigious farming accolade for innovation, sustainability and profit - Mr Hamparsum said he tried to run his farm on the best science available.

So after a hot and dry summer, he decided to plant more cotton last year. The Bureau's long-range forecast had predicted an above-50 per cent chance of a wetter summer and prices were good.

'Cotton was by far the most profitable crop and the best return on our water,' he told Daily Mail Australia. 'We were going "oh gee, it was a terrible summer last year, maybe this will be the one that's going to break it'.

But it wasn't to be. The weather was hot and dry and the river that runs through his farm was desolate. On top of that, the farm's water allocation was recently cut. Statewide, it was the third hottest summer on record.

At the farm, the rain was pitiful: just 11mm in January, and about 30mm in February, most of which 'basically evaporated'.

'The rain doesn't even settle the dust,' Mr Hamparsum said. A couple of storms came tantalisingly close - but just missed the farm.

The terrible conditions have had a 'massive' impact on the farm. 'We might break even this year, if we're lucky'.

Meantime, the veteran farmer's confidence in weather forecasts has hit an all-time low. 'I base my decisions ... as a good farm manager on the science that's available,' he said.

'I've increasingly lost confidence in that process in the last 3 to 5 years. 'My confidence level in weather forecasters is very low. It's burnt us'. 

A Bureau of Meteorology spokesman told Daily Mail Australia the agency recognised the impact of the recent dry climate on farmers, and was committed to providing the best science.

The spokesman said the recent climate outlook came at a time in the cycle where predictability was low. 'Climate outlooks are probabilistic, not categorical forecasts,' he said. 'That means a 60 per cent chance of above average rainfall, also means a 40 per cent of below average rainfall.'

'You're not guaranteed a win because there is always that element of chance, but know that in the long run, having the odds in your favour will mean you come out ahead,' a BOM video about its climate outlook maps said.

Meantime, the drought continues. Things are busy at the local saleyards as farmers in the north-west realise they can't feed or water their cattle through the winter to come. Prayers are said for rain but there is no end in sight.

Regardless, Mr Hamparsum said he is still optimistic about the future. 'As the old guys say, every day without rain is another day closer (to it),' he said.


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

8 May, 2018

Big Greenie Rally against plan to build cable car on Tasmanian mountain

There's never any end to their protesting. Building dams, cutting down trees, there's always something they are against.  They talk as if the cable car will make the mountain shrivel up and disappear. In reality the cable car will simply allow more people to enjoy the mountain. 

But Greenies always do want to restrict access to natural features by non-Greenies. It's stark elitism.  They think they are the only ones who deserve the privilege of entering natural areas.  Only they have the "sensitivity" required

It's just another local mountain

Thousands of people descended on Cascade Gardens in South Hobart to protest against a plan to run a cable car up to the summit of Mount Wellington-kunanyi.

So many people were packed into the park for the Mountain Mayday rally — held near the proposed base station for the project — that some had to stand outside the fence on the road in order to see.

The speakers included Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan, former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown and independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

They said the process for the cable car development had been corrupt and lacking transparency and community consultation.

Mr Flanagan talked down the likelihood the cable car project would ever get up, likening its chances to MP Rene Hidding getting the Speaker's role that was snatched away from him by fellow Liberal Sue Hickey earlier this week.

"The Hobart cable car company says the Hobart public support the cable car," he said.

"Rene Hidding's more likely to become Speaker than you can believe a word the cable car company says.

"The cable car company says they'll take the kids free up to the top of the mountain.  "Well, I've got some news — the mountain's always been free. Kids have been enjoying it forever and I was one of them.

"I've loved the mountain since I was little. To have this wonderland, this thumb of the southwest sitting itself into the pie of our city always seemed to be a miracle.

"I've walked all over it, camped in snow caves as a kid, I climb the zig-zag most weeks, I've watched the snow swirl round the columns of the organ pipes and I've walked on into the wonder."

Referring to the state's housing crisis, Mr Flanagan asked: "Why is this government more interested in building a cable car than houses for the homeless?"

Bob Brown said "kunanyi is in our safekeeping and kunanyi will be saved from this cable car".

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie told the crowd the strong support the Hodgman Government had provided the sole proponent of the project, the Mount Wellington Cable Car company (MWCC) led by Adrian Bold, had put many people offside.

"This is a monumental achievement to get so many of us so cross," he told the crowd.

"Even those people that support the idea of a cable car, or are at least open minded to the idea of a cable car, even they're getting cross now because what they see is unacceptable.

    "In the last week, I had one person who supports the cable car say 'but it really should be publicly owned'.

"I heard someone else say I support the cable car and I think it should be privately owned but I'm worried it's going to be bailed out by the taxpayer."

Government Minister Michael Ferguson said the process was transparent and had been proven so.

"You couldn't be more transparent than the Minister for State Growth [Peter Gutwein] cancelling a permit to ensure best practices are being followed," he said.

    "There is a Green constituency in Tasmania that will never accept any development on Mount Wellington and that is what you are seeing.

"We understand there's different points of view on the cable car, but overwhelmingly people of Tasmania do support that [the cable car], voted for that and expect us to get on with it."

Luke Martin from the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania said the public needed to consider the alternatives.

"Within a few years there is likely to be more than a million people heading to the summit each year," he said.

"It is simply unsustainable to continue to have more and more vehicles and tour buses driving up a century-old road and a seemingly ever-expanding car park.

"What do they propose we do? Shuttle buses that mean expanding the summit road? Limiting visitor numbers through some kind of fee or quota system?

    "Ironically, across the globe it is conservationists who are pushing for the development of cable way technologies."

On Monday Mr Bold said the MWCC was not deterred by the protest and the large turnout.

[It] doesn't necessarily change our view of what the social licence should be," he said.

"We're quite aware that there are hundreds of thousands of people who didn't go to Cascade Gardens. "We've been listening to the people for a good six, seven-and-a-half years now and meeting with residents one-on-one, collecting and responding to thousands of emails. "We just have to stick it out, essentially."

The proposal from the MWCC has faced stiff opposition from conservationists and sectors of the Hobart community since it was announced that preliminary drilling works had been approved days before the state election.


People try, and fail, to guess the meaning of Australian slang

A notable omission below is terms of abuse:  "galah" = foolish person; "Nong" = stupid person; "Drongo" an utter moron

IF YOU need proof of how unique Australian expressions are, get a load of these people from overseas trying — and miserably failing — to interpret them.

IF YOU’RE talking to someone from another country and they’re looking at you like you’re a few roos loose in the top paddock, it’s likely they literally have no idea what you’re saying.

Our beloved Australian slang is unique — and complete gibberish to most other people.

Just think of every time someone’s been confused, or demanded an explanation, when you’ve used a word like “thong” or uttered a phrase like “blowing the froth off a couple” while overseas, even an English-speaking country.

That’s something Aussie Matt Horsburgh, the PR manager for Babbel International, has realised since he started working in Europe alongside international colleagues.

“Working with people from all over the world on a daily basis, it’s eye-opening — and sometimes downright hilarious — to see how others react to some really everyday Aussie expressions,” he said.

“One of my favourite examples was when I said ‘yeah, no worries’ to a colleague and they asked me what I was worried about. I had to clarify that it meant ‘yes’.

“Even though I constantly end up having to explain what things like ‘she’ll be right’ or ‘togs’ mean, I think our slang is one of the most endearing things about being an Australian, and people from other countries always love hearing about our idiosyncrasies.”

Sometimes, though, it can start off sounding like total nonsense.

Babbel, the language learning app, recently polled people from the US, the UK, Canada, France, Sweden, Germany, Spain, the Philippines, Poland and Russia, seeking their interpretations of classic Australian slang.

Respondents successfully deciphered the easy stuff, like “g’day”, but other words and phrases left them totally baffled and perhaps even a little frightened.

Here are some of the survey results.


UK’s guess: “The wife is always correct”

Russia’s guess: “She will be back in a minute”

Actual meaning: Everything will be fine


Germany’s guess: “Something that is disgusting”

Poland’s guess: “To drink fast”

Russia’s guess: “Everything is cool”

Actual meaning: To make a U-turn while driving


UK: “Bring the drinks”

France and Sweden and Germany: “Waiter”

Actual meaning: Service station


US: “Absolutely no idea”

France: “To have a flat tyre”

Germany: “Spilling drinks everywhere”

Actual meaning: To be very busy


UK: “Probably something alcohol related”

US: “To be drunk”

Actual meaning: To be treated fairly or reasonably


UK: “A fat person trying to finish a task”

US: “To talk excessively”

Actual meaning: To act in an overly dramatic manner


Sweden: “You fool”

Philippines: “You’re boring”

Poland: “You smell bad”

Actual meaning: A remarkable person or thing


Germany: “To be confused”

Sweden: “Having a headache”

Actual meaning: To be unattractive


Canada: “Someone who isn’t very smart” (bingo!)

Poland: “To be very messy”

Russia: “Mobbing the losers”

Actual meaning: To be foolish, nonsensical, crazy


France: “She just wants your money”

US: “A big storm”

Actual meaning: Something awesome


US: “One of the former Prime Ministers”

Actual meaning: Enthusiastic yes, you bet (taken from “f**ken oath”)


Sweden: “A crazy person”

Poland: “Not a very smart person”

Actual meaning: Wine, usually cheap, sold in a cask


US: “To get nervous”

Germany: “To clear out quickly”

Actual meaning: To get angry or annoyed.


Big group of young Africans trash Melbourne short-term rental: ‘Furniture was being thrown out of the house’

A TWO-storey property in Melbourne’s Footscray has been “trashed” by up to 150 youths who attended an out-of-control party at the residence after it was rented for a night through an online booking site.

Police officers were called to the Ryan St property following reports of an unruly house party about 7.30am on Sunday.

A group of people were throwing furniture onto the street when the authorities arrived, according to police.

“The property, which had been rented for the night, sustained significant damage both internally and externally,” a police statement read.

The owner of the house, identified only as Kelly, told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell that she was alerted to the incident as it was unfolding but police advised it was too dangerous for her to enter and that they could do nothing to help.

She said police told her the tenants who rented the home had invited the guests, so they couldn’t enter, the Herald Sun reported.

“I think they were powerless,” she said. “So I stood out there with the police and we all looked in while I could see my house — basically windows were being smashed, neighbours told me they could hear smashing noises, massive holes in the walls, doors knocked through,” she said.

“We were saying what can we do? We can’t just stand here and watch our house being trashed. And they said there is nothing you can do.”

She said she believed false names were used when the property was hired and because the damage was “malicious”, insurers weren’t going to cover the cost of repairs.

A resident who lives a couple of streets back told 3AW he noticed many of the partygoers hanging around his place.

“The police did come within about five minutes and told them to move on,” he said.  “The police didn’t raise their voices, and the African guys did adhere to what the police said so I’m very thankful.”

A 19-year-old Point Cook man has been arrested for drunken behaviour. No one was injured during the incident and the investigation is ongoing, police said.


PFAS chemicals not linked to disease but health effects 'cannot be ruled out', expert panel finds

PFAS is the latest false alarm from the disastrous Erin Brockovich

There is limited or no evidence to link exposure to PFAS chemicals with human disease, but health effects cannot be ruled out, an independent panel has advised the Australian Government.

An expert health panel was set up in October 2017 to advise the Government on the potential health impacts associated with exposure to the chemicals, which were historically used in firefighting foams, and to identify priority areas for further research.

It found there was "mostly limited or no evidence" for any link with human disease and there is "no current evidence that suggests an increase in overall cancer risk".

While it concluded there was no increase in overall cancer risk, it did note the "most concerning signal reported" in the scientific studies was a "possible link" with an increase risk of testicular and kidney cancer.

Per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS chemicals, were used in firefighting foams at 18 Defence bases across the country starting in 1970.

Use of the foams was phased out from 10 years ago but caused widespread contamination in the soil, groundwater and surface water around some of the bases.

Since revelations about contamination, residents who live near Defence facilities in Katherine in the Northern Territory, Williamtown in New South Wales and Oakey in Queensland were offered blood tests, and some offered alternative sources of drinking water.

Katherine was exposed to the chemical from firefighting foam used at the nearby Tindal RAAF base in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Voluntary blood tests got underway in Katherine in March this year, following an interim human health risk assessment that warned against eating local seafood and home-grown produce.

The entire town has been on water restrictions since August 2017, while a permanent solution for an alternative water supply could take up to two years.

PFAS chemicals build up in animals and humans, and remain in the body for many years, the panel report said.

"Importantly, there is no current evidence that supports a large impact on a person's health as a result of high levels of PFAS exposure," the report found.

"However, the panel noted that even though the evidence for PFAS exposure and links to health effects is very weak and inconsistent, important health effects for individuals exposed to PFAS cannot be ruled out based on the current evidence."

The panel reviewed 20 recently published reports and academics reviews.

It found that "although the scientific evidence on the relationship between PFAS exposure and health effects is limited, current reports, reviews and research provide fairly consistent reports with several health effects".

The panel noted, however, the level of health effects in people with the highest exposure was generally still within "normal ranges" for the whole population.

Considering all the evidence before it, the expert health panel advised Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt any health screening for exposed groups should be for research purposes only.

"The evidence does not support any specific health or disease screening or other health interventions for highly exposed groups in Australia, except for research purposes," the report stated.


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, 2018

Retailers may be doing it tough, but you can’t blame consumers for shopping online

Both in England and Australia I have at times found it difficult to get served in shops.  I once had some shoes picked out to buy that cost $200+ but the only shop assistant there just sat on the phone.  Nothing I said or did would dislodge her.  I walked out of BFS Pedorthics with my money still in my pocket. 

I do however have a way of getting served that usually works.  I stand in the middle of the store  and say in a VERY loud voice: "Why am I invisible?".  That gets a pretty quick response usually.  Even in my old age, I do have a Stentorian voice when I choose -- and enough extraversion to use it.

Stentorian speech is not aggressive speech. It is not a shout or a scream or a screech.  Stentor was simply LOUD.  Australia actually has a modern Stentor in the person of Michael Darby. Michael rarely uses public address systems. He uses his built-in one. It is a wonder to hear.

Bosses with underperforming shops should mount a close investigation of how their staff are treating their customers.  If they found out, a lot would be horrified, I think.  There are a lot of snooty servers who give the customers the feeling that they are doing the customers a favour by serving them

If you’ve recently been into a Myer outlet and tried to buy something, then you would not have been surprised to read some of its stores are closing.

Australian retailers are having a terrible time, apparently. Conditions are tough and the outlook is grim. In fact, things are so bad that it sounds to me as if the average retailer is almost in as much despair as the average retail consumer.

If you’ve recently been into a Myer outlet and tried to buy something, then you would not have been surprised to read some of its stores are closing. Perhaps you too have played the catch-a-shop-assistant game with Myer’s staff. You search for ages before finally spotting one, whom you approach tentatively, clutching your item.

You ask politely if you can buy it, but your hopes are dashed. This person doesn’t work for the brand that owns your item, someone else does; she is over there somewhere, but she may not be here today, she may work only on other days; whatever, good luck and toodle-oo. With that she disappears and you are left clutching your item, which you put down before going home to buy it online for 30 per cent less, with free delivery.

Myer is only one of the most recent retail casualties and the government’s silly new tax on retail consumers isn’t going to help anyone. Consumers are fed up with poor service, rubbish retail experiences and high prices, and increasingly prefer to buy goods online, especially from overseas.

In the past financial year, Australians spent about $40 million on low-value items (less than $1000) online, offshore. We pay no GST on low-value items, and we pay no other taxes, duties or charges to bring them into the country. However, this is all about to change.

From July 1, retailers will have one of their long-held wishes realised, with GST applied to items under $1000. This will “level the playing field”, apparently, but you and I know it will do nothing except make things more expensive.

Any overseas retailer who is sending goods worth more than $75,000 a year into Australia must collect the GST and pay it to our government, but it is not clear how enforceable this rule may be.

For example, I regularly buy household items from a small vintage boutique in Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles. It is difficult to imagine that the lovely shop owner with the pout and monster eyelashes might sit down at the end of each quarter, dirty martini in hand, and dutifully fill out her Aus­tralian business activity statement.

In addition to the GST expansion, the Department of Home Affairs is considering whether to slug us all with a new import levy of up to $7. They say this is to cover the cost of screening our items at the border. However, this is just poor management and government gouging, just because they can. Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm describes the moves succinctly: “Collection of GST on low-value imports will be expensive. It’s stupid policy. The levy idea is even worse.”

Russell Zimmerman of the Australian Retailers Association is a great advocate for the retail sector. He empathises with consumers, but adds: “The cost of doing business is very high in Australia, and this is not just about the high cost of wages. Rent and other costs are very high.”

Indeed, rent is a real issue. Landlords seem unreasonable, even greedy. Prices are exorbitant; a retailer may expect to pay $130,000 a year for a 120sq m shop in an outer suburban shopping centre. Further, the standard retail lease mandates the store has to provide its landlord with its gross sales figures on a reasonably detailed basis every month. These figures must be kept by the retailer for two years in case the landlord wishes to inspect them.

If the landlord suspects the retailer is fudging, they have the right to audit the figures, and if there is a variance of more than a particular percentage, the landlord has the right to impose fines and the retailer must pay the cost of the audit. The average lease for a retail outlet is between five and seven years, as a general rule. Rent increases each year by the consumer price index plus 2 per cent or 2.5 per cent, or 5 per cent compounded year on year. This means that across a five-year period rent rises by about 27 per cent.

Red tape costs a lot of money, too. For example, in Melbourne a large retail outlet opened its flagship store a few years back. For its opening night it wanted to serve refreshments including alcohol. It was required by the local authorities to have a person with a “responsible service of alcohol” ticket. This in itself wasn’t a huge cost but it is indicative of the reach of government, and how almost anything that anyone wants to do is subject to annoying, time-consuming regulation.

In terms of presentation, the Australian retail sector leaves a lot to be desired and this has become more apparent in the past five years. Australians watch many TV shows about renovating, decorating and design. Many of us have beautifully decorated homes now, and we are disinclined to leave our lovely houses to visit cruddy facilities that are visually unappealing. Yet, as Zimmerman points out, when a retailer wants to complete a fit-out, the work must be done after-hours. The cost of paying tradespeople to work nights adds enormously to the cost.


Mathematics teachers disapointed by new education report

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) says today's Government response to this week’s Gonski 2.0 report, Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Education Excellence in Australian Schools, must consider the time and resources needed to tackle deepening issues surrounding mathematics education.

A ‘system view’ is needed to understand the maths education ecosystem, including the extent of the damage caused by Australia’s absence of university mathematics prerequisites and out-of-field teaching.

Only 14 per cent of universities require intermediate mathematics for entry into science and students are able to enter almost half Australia’s engineering degrees without a requirement for intermediate or higher mathematics.

“The current lack of university maths prerequisites is sending a worrying value message about the impact and need for mathematics to students, schools and parents,” says AMSI Director, Professor Geoff Prince.

Professor Prince said the report undersold this issue, as well as the difficulty in graduating qualified secondary maths teachers and the extent of out-of-field teaching. The Institute believes that it would take a considerable amount of time to turn around the current lack of interest in teaching amongst mathematics graduates.

At least 26 per cent of Years 7-10 maths classes are taught by an out-of-field teacher, a figure that almost doubles for remote regions. An issue, Professor Prince, warns will not be solved through graduate recruitment alone.

“Insufficient attention has been paid to the professional development of out-of-field teachers, an explicit recommendation put forward by the Institute in its submission to the review panel. It is critical to support student learning with adequate teacher content knowledge, an issue only partially addressed by the report,” he said.

AMSI supports greater transparency around relevant teacher qualifications to provide this much overdue professional development and enhance workforce planning as recommended by the report.

“It is critical we understand the true extent and trends of out-of-field teaching; as the report identifies this is acute and endemic in regional and remote areas with mathematics teaching positions hardest to fill,” said Professor Prince.

Not just about what happens in the classroom, AMSI also continues to call for a national campaign to tackle behavioural and cultural attitudes towards mathematics to strengthen student engagement. The Institute’s Schools program is already a leader in this area through its national Choose Maths project.

“If we want students to stick with mathematics, particularly girls, we need to tackle engagement barriers beyond the classroom. As well as deeper understanding of career pathways, this is essential to challenge community attitudes to mathematics and its value and impact,” says Professor Prince.

Media release from AMSI. Media Contact: Laura Watson,

Government workers who have saved dozens of criminals from deportation will enjoy three-day junket at a luxury beachside resort – and taxpayers will foot the $500,000 bill

Government workers will enjoy a three-day junket on the taxpayers dime. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has invited 304 members to the Novotel Twin Waters Resort on the Sunshine Coast, according to the Herald Sun.

Between flights, food and beverages and accommodation over May 28, 29 and 30 the expected cost of the weekend is $500,000.

An AAT spokeswoman told the publication: 'following a tender process to meet mandatory requirements and to ensure that the booking represented the best value for money due to the ability to offer a competitive rate compared with metropolitan venues.'

The hotel describes itself as a 'four star beachfront resort property'. It can fit 1,400 people in its 361 suites and sits amongst 36 hectares of bushland.

The AAT has made headlines recently after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton admitted to being 'incredibly frustrated' with the government body.

Speaking to Ben Fordham on 2GB earlier this weeky, Mr Dutton said regular Australians were being 'taken for a ride'. 'I think taxpayers, the Australian public, and most importantly the victims and their families, are being taken for a ride,' he said.

'We're working as hard as we can to kick people out of our country who've done the wrong thing.'

According to The Australian, the ATT overturned the decision of 164 cases of foreign-born criminals that were made by Peter Dutton's delegates.

This includes 17 rapists, eight murderes and 33 drug dealers.


Senate inquiry misunderstands company tax

Company tax is one of the most economically harmful taxes and in global terms Australia is more dependent on company tax than many other comparable countries. Countries around the world, and in our region, have either cut rates or already have substantially lower rates than Australia does

Yet the Senate is inquiring into a commitment by the BCA to increase investment, employment or wages prior to passing a company tax cut.

Both the concept of the commitment, and the resulting system to monitor performance, suggest a misunderstanding of how company tax cuts will affect the economy.

Making tax cuts conditional on these commitments is another form of regulation, based on the notion that it is only government control that can ensure businesses will do ‘the right thing’ and invest more.

Yet the benefits of the company tax do not flow to wage earners on the basis of a commitment by companies to ‘use’ the proceeds to boost wages or hire new staff. It does not require charity or a social contract with business. In no sense are the benefits reliant on a ‘trickle-down’ effect.

It is the self-interested market that will drive increased investment, particularly by foreigners who receive a higher rate of return than they have done previously.

However this is not the only reason a system of measurement for compliance with any such commitment is not a good idea.

Another important reason is that the corporate tax rate is only one factor of many that determine where a company chooses to invest. In observing movements in investment, wages, productivity and employment in the years following a company tax cut, it will be impossible to separate out the effects of the cut. This is especially the case as the cut is phased in over a number of years.

Evidence of wage growth at companies making the commitment would not necessarily be associated with company tax cuts, nor would any increases in investment necessarily be caused by that commitment. Both could be the result of external effects in the economy.

Nor would the counterfactual in any analysis be current levels of investment, wages or employment. By standing still, Australia risks losing investment to other countries. Investment may have declined in Australia in the absence of a cut.

So not only is such a commitment unnecessary, there is no way to know whether the companies involved met their commitment or not. The Senate should instead look at company tax on its merits.


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

6 May, 2018

'They all support the bullies': Primary teacher says there's no way school could have saved suicide girl Dolly because education officials rarely step in to help tormented children

A primary school teacher claims he experienced first hand the Queensland Education Department favouring bullies over teachers trying to help their victims. 

Grant Elmsly, 56, said he was filling in at Bribie Island State School last year when he allegedly saw a student stab another in the lower back with a pencil.

After several attempts to report the incident through the correct channels, he identified what he believed to be a massive flaw in the system.

He said he ended up reporting what he saw to police and the Department of Education's ethical standards unit, but the department ultimately sided with the bullies.

Mr Elmsly claimed the children made stories up about him, which resulted in him being suspended from work.

His claims followed backlash from parents in the wake of Amy 'Dolly' Everett's death, with many pushing for more to be done to put an end to bullying in schools.

The 14-year-old took her own life in January after enduring years of relentless bullying at her Queensland boarding school.

'I read with amazement the story about Dolly,' Mr Elmsly said. 'But I don't know that teachers could have done anymore to help because we're not supported by the system to do so which makes us helpless to an extent.'

He said after witnessing the alleged incident involving the pencil while teaching a class in August last year, he couldn't file the incident in the school's OnePortal system because he was employed as a casual.

When he asked other staff to file it on his behalf, Mr Elmsly said they told him the victim had likely deserved it.   

'They all seemed to support the bullies in saying the kid who was stabbed deserved it. I couldn't believe it was normal to them. There was just no excuse for that sort of behaviour,' he said.

Mr Elmsly claimed his suspension, pending the outcome of an internal investigation, was an example of the department penalising teachers for standing up for bully victims.

'It's common for QLD principals to tell their staff not to write mandatory reports on OnePortal as it's available on request to parents and the regional education QLD office will think they are wonderful principals,' he said.

In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, QLD Department of Education said it could not comment on specific incidents but encouraged all cases of bullying to be reported.

'Bribie Island State School, like all Queensland state schools, does not tolerate bullying. 'Any situation that threatens the safety and wellbeing of any student is treated extremely seriously, and dealt with as a matter of urgent priority

'Students who engage in bullying behaviours at Bribie Island SS are dealt with under the school’s Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students. It outlines the standard of behaviour expected from students and the consequences when those standards are not met.'


Budget 2018: Morrison to deliver relief for low-income earners

Scott Morrison has confirmed that low to middle-income workers on less than $87,000 a year will be targeted for immediate “maximum” tax relief this year.

Tuesday’s budget will also map out a plan to reduce both the thresholds and tax rates paid by the “aspirational class’’ on higher incomes, including those on the top marginal tax rate.

These fundamental changes to the higher tax brackets are slated to kick in as early as 2024.

In an appeal to the Liberal Party base ahead of a budget that will define the stark contrast on tax policy between the Coalition and Labor, the Treasurer has conceded that salary earners on the highest tax bracket have had to bear the greatest share of the tax burden.

Treasury analysis of unpublished Australian Taxation Office data, released to The Weekend Australian, reveals the median personal tax bill for the 400,000 people earning more than $180,000 a year was almost $85,000 a year — an effective average tax rate of 36 per cent.

This compared with a tax rate of only 7 per cent for those earning less than $37,000 and a 19 per cent rate for those earning up to $87,000 a year.

The Weekend Australian understands that the $180,000 threshold for the top marginal tax rate of 45c is expected to be raised over the medium term.

Mr Morrison told The Weekend Australian that the figures showed that the greatest tax burden was levied against higher-income families and exposed Bill Shorten’s claim that the wealthy paid little to no tax. “I can say that our first ­priority is to maximise and target tax relief to low and middle-­income earners … it’s good for them and it is also good for the economy,” he said. “But the notion that somehow that comes at the expense of slugging others on the false pretext that they don’t pay enough tax is pure envy politics … it is nonsense.”

Mr Morrison would not be drawn on whether the budget would reveal an earlier return to surplus on the back of the revenue rebound and spending restraint, despite a senior cabinet minister telling The Weekend Australian that it was expected to be brought forward a year.

While not revealing the changes to tax thresholds to ­deliver what economists expect to be a maximum of $8 billion a year in personal income tax cuts, Mr Morrison said Labor’s plan to raise the effective top tax rate to 49 per cent would punish those who already paid the most tax.

The Treasury analysis of ­median taxable income revealed someone who had a taxable ­income of $190,000 in 2015-16 would ordinarily have faced a marginal tax rate of 49 per cent, comprising a 45 per cent headline rate, plus 2 per cent Medicare levy, plus the 2 per cent temporary budget repair levy. This resulted in a tax bill of $63,047, amounting to the equivalent of twice the wages of a low-income earner.

By contrast, the median personal income tax rate of the 5.2 million people earning ­between $37,000 and $87,000 in 2015-16 was just 19 per cent — or a little over $10,000.

The Coalition has already dropped a plan to increase the Medicare levy by 0.5 per cent for all taxpayers to help pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is also axing the 2 per cent temporary deficit levy, meaning the top tax rate will revert to 45 per cent, plus the existing 2 per cent Medicare levy, offering relief to higher taxpayers. Labor plans to keep the deficit levy, meaning the top rate would be an effective 49 per cent.

Mr Morrison said there were strong economic and political reasons for targeting tax cuts at the low to middle-income earners, who had been suffering from low wage growth.

“Tax relief of middle to low-­income earners underpins the economic policies that support stronger consumption from an economic view and from an em­pathy point of view,” he said.

Mr Morrison said many lower to middle-income earners could see from employment numbers that the economy was doing well but were saying “we haven’t felt that yet”.

National accounts measures of household consumption have been volatile but the overall trend has been only modest growth. Tax relief could help lift consumption, which represents almost 60 per cent of the economy.

Mr Morrison said low to middle-income earners, with wages of less than the $87,000 threshold where the second top rate of 37c in the dollar kicks in, were the government’s target in next week’s budget. They had the greatest propensity to lift spending in response to tax cuts.

Deloitte Access Economics has calculated that tax cuts delivering greatest benefit to these groups could be achieved by raising the tax-free threshold from $18,200 to $20,000 and the threshold at which people start losing 32.5c in the dollar from $37,000 to $40,000.

This would cost the budget about $8bn a year, and would represent a gain of almost 2 per cent for people earning $40,000, dropping to about 0.6 per cent for those earning more than $150,000.

Mr Morrison sought to allay concerns that the improved budget position was a flash in the pan, saying it reflected the strength of the economy and a structural ­improvement in company tax payments. “A lot of what we’ve seen in the last six or nine months has been what has physically come into the coffers of Treasury — it’s real money that’s turned up,” he said. “It is a structural improvement, even taking account of the enterprise tax plan which is in all of our numbers.”

Mr Morrison said the budget forecasts on commodity prices had been conservative and this would continue. Iron ore prices have ­averaged about $US65 a tonne this year (allowing for freight) or about $US10 a tonne above Treasury’s previous forecast.

He said the main reason for growth in company tax receipts this year was that companies had used up tax losses incurred in the years following the end of the mining investment boom.


New education plan skims over key indicators such as discipline in schools

“Not good enough.” That’s what Malcolm Turnbull said this week about Australia’s declining results in international school tests.

As noted in the Gonski 2.0 report, Australia has fallen in absolute performance and relative to other countries in the three Program for International Student Assessment tests run by the OECD. These assess the science, maths and reading abilities of 15-year-old students.

The factors linked to good outcomes are well known: they have to do with the quality of teaching, including classroom management. Yet they barely rate a mention in Gonski 2.0.

The OECD notes the five strongest factors associated with student performance, for good or for ill. Those associated with higher achievement are teacher-­directed instruction, adaptive instruction and school disciplinary climate. Those associated with lower achievement are inquiry-based instruction and perceived feedback.

What comes through loud and clear is that four of the top five factors influencing student achievement are about instruction: that is, methods of teaching.

The fifth factor is the level of disruption in the classroom, which indirectly is also associated with instruction. Gonski 2.0 has little to say about this well-established body of evidence.

The OECD factors in play need some explanation. Teacher-direc­ted instruction is defined as the teacher explaining and demonstrating ideas, leading whole-class discussions and responding to student questions. Consistent with decades of research, the OECD findings indicate that teacher-­directed instruction is highly bene­ficial for student learning.

Inquiry-based teaching, which in some ways is the opposite of teacher-directed instruction, is characterised by class-led learning activities and encouragement of discovery through group collaboration. This style of teaching is ­associated with less student achievement.

On the surface, adaptive instruction sounds similar to one of the main recommendations of the Gonski 2.0 report, adaptive learning. This refers to teachers adjusting their teaching to cater for the needs of their class and individual students.

Most teachers try to do this as much as they can, with varying degrees of success. For teachers to know the levels and range of ability in their classes, and to calibrate their teaching accordingly, is an important skill.

However, Gonski 2.0 went much further. It recommended students be assessed based on their growth in learning rather than according to age-based or year-based curriculums. The idea is to give teachers an online assessment tool to continuously measure learning growth, with the expectation they would provide “tailored teaching” for individual stu­dents depending on their ability.

Adaptive learning as described by the OECD is much simpler. It means teachers adapt lessons, provide individual help to struggling students and change the structure of lessons when covering difficult topics. It does not mean going to the great lengths of using a continuous online assessment tool or coming up with an individual learning plan for every student.

Taking the OECD data as a guide, the task of teachers adapting to the needs of students is much simpler than the Gonski panel’s proposal and Australian students think teachers are already doing this reasonably well.

This is where Gonski 2.0 could have made a valuable practical contribution — an objective and detailed investigation of the factors that have the biggest impact on student learning, and an analysis of how to deploy them in Australian classrooms.

Discipline is the other key issue that Gonski could have tackled. School disciplinary climate is the factor that most clearly differentiates Australia from the top 10 performing countries, and not in a good way. According to students themselves, Australian classrooms are unsettled and disruptive to learning. The data is clear.

The “disciplinary climate index” is based on how often these things happen in class: students don’t listen to what the teacher says; there is noise and disorder; the teacher has to wait a long time for students to quiet down; students cannot work well; and students don’t start working for a long time after the lesson begins.

This PISA data on student behaviour and school discipline in Australia is corroborated by the most recent results from two other international education datasets — the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Teaching and Learning International Survey — which both indicate Australia has relatively high levels of student misbehaviour relative to other countries.

These results are not surprising, given a series of recent studies showing Australian university teacher education degrees in the main do not adequately equip new teachers with classroom management techniques based on evidence.

And recent research from Macquarie University researchers found school discipline is far more important than school funding in determining a country’s educa­tional performance.

The OECD has found that for developed, high-income countries such as Australia there is no clear relationship between school funding and student outcomes. This should give us pause for thought as the federal government puts an extra $23.5 billion of taxpayer money into schools across the next 10 years.

But on the factors that do make a difference — teaching method and school discipline — the Gonski 2.0 report stayed almost silent.

As a coda, some qualifications of our argument are necessary.

The PISA 2015 analysis of the factors in student achievement deals specifically with science classes — so we need to be cautious about generalisation — but the results correspond with similar analyses in previous years and with other educational research.

Also, the data is based on self-reporting, thereby limiting the conclusions that can be made.

However, the PISA result involves a large sample size and there are no obvious biases in the survey and assessment instruments.

It’s true that Australia performs above the international average on adaptive and teacher-directed instruction, which are both associated with high student achievement. But there are question marks over the categories and descriptions of instruction at issue.

Notwithstanding these caveats, instruction — or teaching method — is clearly the big-ticket item for student achievement and should have been a major focus of the Gonski 2.0 report.


Australia tipped to soon produce more than half of the world's lithium

Western Australia is tipped to produce more than half of the world’s lithium supply by the end of this year, as new mines come online and the world’s appetite for the materials used to make batteries for electric vehicles grows.

That forecast, made by Citi analyst Clarke Wilkins last week, came on the same day that the managing director of lithium miner Pilbara Minerals, Ken Brinsden, said Australia was in "pole position in lithium raw materials", and described one part of WA as "lithium valley".

But with Australia’s emerging lithium industry growing so fast, investors have also been reminded that there will be “bumps and curves” and twists along the way.

Most of the world’s lithium now comes from hard rock mining of spodumene deposits, or via the extraction of lithium from brine deposits in Argentina and Chile.

But given the handful of hard rock mines now operating in Western Australia or soon to start, Australia is well placed to capitalise on the rapid growth in the use of electric vehicles over coming years in major car markets such as Europe and China.

“If you look at all the hard rock (lithium) mines, WA is going to dominate. West Australia will be over half of the (world’s) lithium supply, effectively, by the end of this year. Because all of the world’s hard rock mines are basically in WA,” Mr Wilkins said.

“There are projects outside of Australia, but it’s unlikely that any of those will be really of material scale production until a number of years away. Because you’ve got infrastructure, you’ve got a mining culture, the biggest projects tend to be in Australia, so Australia does lead the world in terms of development of these hard rock mines."

Lithium is a key ingredient in the manufacture of lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles, large battery storage units, and electronic devices like mobile phones and laptop computers.

In an address to the Melbourne Mining Club on Friday, Mr Brinsden said Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora mine would be “one of the world’s largest lithium mines”, and that the company was only a week or two away from turning on its processing plant. The plant will crush and process rocks from the mine to produce spodumene concentrate containing lithium.

“We expect to make our first shipment of spodumene concentrate sometime in late June,” Mr Brinsden said.

Mr Brinsden said Australia was the world’s largest producer of spodumene concentrate with mines already in production, and with several more to come.

“Australia commands pole position in lithium raw materials, and will likely hold that mantel for many years to come as a result of the incredible mineral endowment we have in hard-rock lithia sources,” he said.

Despite this “pole position” for lithium held by Australia, ASX-listed lithium companies have experienced their fair share of ups and downs on the market, with some volatile stock price movements in recent months.

The share price of Pilbara Minerals itself hit an all-time closing price high in early January this year, of $1.22, but then retreated as concerns rose that the lithium market could in future years be in over-supply for a period. Pilbara closed up one cent on Friday, at 89 cents.

“I think the industry is going through a rapid growth phase, that is clearly with risk. And the risk here is around obviously project definition, project funding, customer off-take relationships, and critically - project execution. And then, ramp-up to steady state. All these things are not without risk,” said Lachlan Shaw, commodity strategist with UBS.

“I think that’s the first thing, the industry is going through very rapid growth, and there will be bumps and curves along the way,” he said.

Also, on the demand side, peoples understanding of the “battery chain” was still developing. “There’s a pretty wide range of views out there about demand growth, and about how the industry works. And because the range of views is so diverse, there’s added volatility,” he said.


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

4 May, 2018

School's deputy principal is rushed to hospital after 'being attacked by a [?] student before other teachers dragged them away'

There is a word left out above and below: Aboriginal.  There have been a series of violent incidents at the school involving Aborigines.  Relations between West Australia's large Aboriginal population and the rest of the community are notoriously poor

The deputy principal of a Western Australian high school was taken to hospital after allegedly being attacked by a student on Wednesday.

Police say the student, 14, was told to leave Busselton High School grounds at about 1.40pm on Wednesday at which point he allegedly punched the 50-year-old deputy principal.

A second staff member was also allegedly targeted on the same day by another student however this attack was prevented from taking place.

A spokesman for the Education Department told The West Australian that staff stepped in to help the deputy principal, and moved the alleged attacker along with other students away while police were called at about 2pm.

'A short time later, there was a second incident involving a different student who tried to physically hurt another staff member,' she said.

'The staff member who was assaulted has had medical treatment ... and is being offered the school's full support.'

The deputy principal was later released from hospital and police have charged the 14-year-old boy from Geographe has been charged with Assualt Public Officer and Trespass.

He is due to appear in Bunbury Children's Court Thursday on Thursday.

The incidents occurred at Busselton High School, about an hour south of Bunbury, the same school where just over a month ago video was captured of a student punching another student before stomping on his head.

That incident was described as shocking by the Education Minister and police later charged that teenager with assault occasioning bodily harm.

The Minister Sue Ellery has now ordered an urgent review of school violence policies following the string of incidents.


Labor announces it would phase out live sheep exports

Political correctness to destroy a thriving Australian business.  Australia is good at growing sheep but many countries want to slaughter their own  -- on both religious and health grounds

Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon says the party sees no future for the trade.

A Labor government would phase out the the live export of sheep, opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has announced.
Labor had previously called for a suspension of the trade but promised to wait for a government review into the trade before making a final decision.

"From day one in government, we will develop and implement a strategic red meat industry plan which will focus on more processing and more jobs in Australia and begin that transition away from live exports," Mr Fitzgibbon told Fairfax Media.

"I don't believe the live export of sheep has a future in Australia. By the industry's own admission this week, mortality rates can't be controlled."

The future of the live export industry has faced an increasingly uncertain future after the emergence of shocking footage showing the cruel and deadly conditions faced by sheep on voyages to the Middle East.

Liberal MPs Sussan Ley and Jason Wood have also pushed for the trade to be gradually abolished but the Turnbull government has resisted a "knee jerk" reaction.

Ms Ley, a former Turnbull government cabinet minister, has plans to introduce a private member's bill to phase out the exports.

The Greens have also proposed a five-point plan that, in shutting down the trade, would offer financial assistance to farmers and encourage the growth of boxed meats.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud last month announced a snap review that will consider whether the trade should continue during the northern summer months when animals are put at risk by high temperatures.

In April, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would "honour our commitment to await [the review's] findings" and called for the creation of an independent inspector general of animal welfare.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he had since become concerned about the pace of the reviews into the sector and was now "convinced the government is not serious about real and meaningful action".

He said the "final blow" was remarks this week from Emanuel Exports managing director Graham Daws about extreme weather being unpredictable. "The incidents in 2016 and 2017 we mitigated as much as we could, but unfortunately no one can predict that weather event," Mr Daws told the ABC.

Mr Fitzgibbon said, "What he is saying is, 'No matter what we do, we are always going to have events like those depicted on 60 Minutes.'"

Responding to Labor's announcement, Ms Ley urged the party to back her bill and said she would be discussing it with MPs from all parties when Parliament returns.

"Either you believe the trade needs to be phased out or you don't. If you do believe it, then you should support my private member's bill, which is all about a sensible transition to a future where we don't continue to export live sheep to the Middle East," she told Sky News.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he had not yet seen the bill and noted the government would have to allow it to be voted on. "I'm absolutely convinced that farmers can benefit from this transition," he said, outlining that Labor would push for growth in the export of chilled and boxed meats, especially to Asia.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Littleproud savaged Labor's announcement, dismissing it as a "political stunt" and a reckless position.

"What the Labor Party has done today has just shown how reckless they are in protecting the jobs of Australians ," Mr Turnbull said. "What you're seeing from Labor is a repeat of that emotional decision made when Julia GIllard was prime minister to ban live cattle exports."

Mr Littleproud said, “The McCarthy review into the Middle Eastern summer sheep trade is due in two weeks. With the science just two weeks away, Labor has rushed to a knee-jerk ban, punishing farmers who have done no wrong."


Mark Latham: Trump started it, now it’s time to drain the Australian political swamp

Former Labor leader Mark Latham is calling for Australia to take a leaf out of US President Donald Trump’s book and drain the political swamp.

He’s hated by the mainstream media and the left-wing, but continues to resonate with the common masses in America and around the world.

Latham says he’s thrown all the political rules out the window and believes it’s time to do the same in Australia.

“Everyone knows the system is failing, we see that in Australia.

“The two major parties are limping along with record levels of public distrust and disenchantment with politics.

“Trump calls it draining the swamp and it should be drained.

“That’s such a refreshing break with the political orthodoxy. Around the world, he’s become quite a hero to people.

“You wouldn’t agree with 100% of what he says and sometimes you think ‘oh that’s a bit jarring’ and ‘where did that come from’, but the fact that he’s brave enough to say it.

“He’s totally fearless of the modern media.”


Warmists joining Liberal Party branches in an attempt to unseat climate realist Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott’s political future could be under threat from a group of activists who have been organising environmentally conscious voters to join Liberal party branches on Sydney’s north shore – a move that could unseat the former prime minister.

Billing themselves as “the counterweight” to the pro-coal power Monash Forum, the North Shore Environmental Stewards have held at least two recruitment functions at which attendees were urged to tap into their networks of environmentally conscious people to join the Liberal party branches in Abbott’s seat of Warringah and on the lower north shore.

The NSES has a Facebook page that says the group “supports clean energy and a healthy environment, and believes in traditional Liberal party values of environmental stewardship”.

But some participants believe its objectives appeared to be aimed at candidate change.

“I was asked to participate in an initiative to have a representative in Canberra who acknowledges climate change,” said one person who attended the meeting in Seaforth on 25 March.

Exactly who is involved in the group remains a matter of conjecture.

Certainly, Liberals have attended. Several high-profile figures in the moderate faction of the Liberal party, including the powerbroker Michael Photios and his wife, Kristina, attended the lunchtime gathering of the NSES at Seaforth in March.

Also attending were the New South Wales MP for North Shore, Felicity Wilson, and David Begg, a longtime Liberal party member who ran against Abbott for preselection in the 1990s.

Photios addressed the meeting and, according to one attendee, put the case that the Liberals were the party that would tackle climate change – and that they should join. He highlighted his own record of defending the environment when in state parliament. .

“At the meeting I soon realised that the NSES was ... seeking to recruit people concerned about the lack of action on climate change to join the Liberal party in order to block the preselection of Tony Abbott to stand in Warringah at the next federal election,” the attendee claimed.

One invitation for the Mosman meeting said: “We have a real opportunity be a force for good in the party, a voice for the environment right here in the electorate of the Monash Forum’s figurehead – Tony Abbott. Come and learn about how we can shift the politics here in Warringah at our info session this Sunday!”

Photios told Guardian Australia he had attended the Seaforth meeting because his wife, a passionate environmentalist, had been asked to speak. She ultimately didn’t speak but Photios did and was the main speaker at the event. He said there was “zero involvement” of the Liberal party or the moderate faction in the formation of the NSES.

A year ago, the Photios couple formed a spinoff from Photios’s lobbying firm, Premier State, to represent clean energy companies. The firm, Clean Energy Strategies, describes itself as “a boutique corporate advisory firm specialising in energy”.

Until a few years ago Photios held several senior positions in the state executive of the NSW Liberal party and was head of the moderate faction, known as the Group, which has been locked in a long-running power struggle with the right. Abbott is one of the leading members of the right faction.

As prime minister, Abbott pushed through rule changes in the Liberal party to ban registered lobbyists from holding party positions.

Several members of NSES are also members of the activist group GetUp. A GetUp spokeswoman said the NSES “was definitely not a GetUp project but the environmental justice team knows of it ... and think they’re great”.

The official organiser of NSES, Rob Grant, told Guardian Australia the group was no more than “a group of like-minded people on the north shore who want to see action on climate change, and who believe in driving change from inside the tent”.

Senior figures in the moderates scoffed at the idea that Abbott was in any danger of losing his northern beaches seat in a preselection. They said he had a firm grip on the numbers and that to take part in a preselection members must have joined at least six months earlier.

There is no firm date for federal preselections but they are likely to take place by the end of the year or earlier, if an early election is called.

But figures closer to the machinations in Warringah warned the seat could be vulnerable to an attack by Young Liberals, whom they described as marauding across NSW.

This is because the geographic rules that require members to join their local federal branch do not apply for members under the age of 30. Young Liberals can therefore vote in preselections outside where they live.


Bill Shorten’s ‘$26m BCA war chest’ claim fails to add up

Bill Shorten has peddled an unverified estimate to attack the Business Council of Australia, claiming it is using a corporate war chest of $26 million to “buy” the next federal election for the Liberal Party.

Turnbull government ministers yesterday attacked the Opposition Leader over the claim, accusing Labor of free-riding on the political campaigning efforts of unions and left-wing activist group GetUp! while condemning business for attempting to engage with the community.

The $26m figure cited by Mr Shorten is inaccurate. The BCA funding drive, aimed at promoting two television advertisements for its Australia at Work campaign that are yet to air, is expected to fall short of the total.

Each of the BCA’s 130 members has been asked to contribute to the campaign, which is not related to the government’s proposed corporate tax cuts. The Australian can reveal that — contrary to an ABC report this week that each member had been asked to contribute $200,000, making a total of $26m — there are different amounts for different companies based on their capacity to pay.

It is understood that some companies, including ANZ, are not making a contribution to the Australia at Work campaign, which is aimed at trying to counter anti-business sentiment in the community.

Mr Shorten yesterday escalated his assault on the fundraising efforts of the BCA, saying it was using its “big scary warchest” of $26m to secure a reduction in the corporate tax rate. His office declined to respond to questions about how he arrived at the $26m figure.

Mr Shorten used the same number GetUp! had earlier referenced to try to raise revenue from supporters to “help take on the business lobby” as it warned against the BCA’s “destructive neoliberal agenda”. “If we can raise just a portion of the BCA’s $26m, we can turbocharge our people-powered ­organising efforts for the next election … and start winning the fight against destructive corporate power,” GetUp! said in a statement.

Mr Shorten’s depiction of the BCA funding drive as an attempt to “influence” democracy and “buy the Australian election” was savaged by Workplace Minister Craig Laundy, who provided government figures showing that Labor received more than $6m from unions in 2016-17 and $21m since 2014. Mr Shorten’s ­office did not dispute the figures last night.

The Australian can also reveal the annual reports of left-wing ­activist group GetUp! showed it spent more than $25m on political campaigns over the past three years, including on its targeted campaigns against conservative MPs at the last federal election.

The union push to overhaul workplace laws through its Change the Rules push, spearheaded by ACTU secretary Sally McManus, has also been touted as the labour movement’s most expensive advertising campaign since the Your Rights at Work campaign, which helped to unseat John Howard in 2007.

An ACTU spokesman refused to reveal the cost of the campaign. “The union movement will ­devote whatever resources are necessary to deliver more secure jobs and fair pay rises for working people,” the spokesman said.

Mr Laundy argued that the amount of funds that the BCA proposed to raise was small compared with the levels of funding coming to Labor from the trifecta of “big business, unions and GetUp!”.

“Bill Shorten claims to stand up for workers, but the record shows during his time as a union leader he was only too happy to do deals with big business and sign away workers’ rights to weekend penalty rates,” Mr Laundy said.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar told The Australian that Mr Shorten’s comments exposed him as “nothing more than old-­fashioned union bully”.


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, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron Called Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Wife 'Delicious'

An odd word for an old lady -- but he does like old ladies -- being married to one. Lucy Turnbull (age 60 years) will be on cloud nine however -- to be called that by none less than the President of France

Was it a Freudian slip by French President Emmanuel Macron? A joke linked to French gastronomy? Or even, a week after his visit to Washington, a parody of President Donald Trump’s infamous comments about Macron’s wife?

Whatever the case, Macron raised eyebrows in Sydney on Wednesday by calling Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s wife “delicious.”

Wrapping up a joint news conference during his brief Australian visit, Macron moved to thank the Turnbulls for their hospitality.

“I want to thank you for your welcome, thank you and your delicious wife for your warm welcome,” he said.

The comment quickly sparked some lighthearted reaction on social media and in the Australian press amid lively conjecture about the French leader’s intent.

“Macron just said he wanted to thank Malcolm Turnbull and his ‘delicious wife’. You can take the man out of France but …,” tweeted Alice Workman, a journalist.


Assault, resisting arrest and 'riotous behaviour': African teens, 18, face serious criminal charges after wild Melbourne shopping centre brawl

Two of three teenagers arrested after a wild brawl between African youths and police in Melbourne's western suburbs have faced court charged with offences including assault and resisting arrest.

Deng Diing, 18, appeared in Werribee Magistrates' Court on Tuesday when it was revealed an application would be made to have his matters dealt with by way of 'diversion'.

Such an application, if successful, could result in all reference to the charges ever having been laid against Diing removed from his record.

Diversions can involve the offender making an apology to a victim, undergoing counselling and education courses or even donating money to a charity.

Diing was one of three teenagers arrested on January 3 after a disturbance at the Tarneit Central shopping centre, about 25km west of Melbourne, which was photographed exclusively by Daily Mail Australia.

Up to 20 officers rushed to the shopping centre after a dispute began near a mobile police van about 2.45pm.

The van had been placed at Tarneit Central as part of a high visibility operation in the suburb, where police had been trying to calm community fears about African youths.

Stunned shoppers watched as a 17-year-old allegedly spat at officers, one of whom threatened him with pepper spray. 'Walk away or you're going to get sprayed,' the officer told the teen.

But as the confrontation escalated more youths quickly arrived, followed by about eight police cars. Two 18-year-olds and one 17-year-old were arrested.

'What did I do wrong?' one of those arrested screamed at the scene.

Several of the young people at the shopping centre alleged the Sudanese community had been unfairly blamed for trouble in the area.

Officers stationed at a nearby community centre were among those to attend the scene.

Diing, from Tarneit, was charged with assaulting police, resisting police, behaving in a riotous manner and failing to move on. Those charges could be reduced.

A Point Cook teenager who was 17 at the time but has since turned 18 was charged with the same offences as Diing, as well as shop theft. He is on bail and also faced court on Tuesday.

Another 18-year-old from Tarneit was charged with assaulting police, resisting arrest, behaving in a riotous manner and failing to move on. He was due in court on Tuesday but did not attend as he was recently arrested, police said.

There has been a regular police presence at Tarneit since it was revealed in December that the Ecoville Community Park had been trashed.

Before the incident at Tarneit Central there had also been a near-riot involving African youths at a party being held at an Airbnb in nearby Werribee.

In an effort to allay the local community's fears, a number of Victorian politicians and top-ranking police publicly said the city had no problem with African gang violence.


Two days after the Tarneit Central incident, Victoria Police claimed the situation had been provoked by a Daily Mail Australia photographer's decision to 'move to take close-up photos of a group of African teenagers socialising.'

The Mail strongly denies that claim.

Victoria Police executive director of media and corporate communications, Merita Tabain, sent an email to the editors of several Melbourne media outlets who were not present at Tarneit Central expressing concern that aggressive behaviour by journalists might 'exacerbate the current tensions'.

'The teenagers had been doing nothing of public interest prior to the photographer's decision to move in and take the photos and [the group] reacted to the photographer and what he was doing,' Ms Tabain wrote of the incident.

'This led to police being called in and a scuffle ensued in which police were spat on and arrests were made. After the event, the photographer acknowledged that his actions had provoked the incident and apologised.'

Daily Mail Australia flatly denied inciting the youths or acknowledging the publication's actions provoked the incident.

The Mail's reporting team was legitimately taking photos because a large marked mobile police van had moved to the Tarneit shopping centre, where a group of African teenagers was nearby.

The photos were taken from 20 metres, certainly not 'close up'.

No apology was issued by the journalist, or the photographer, as was claimed.


Political correctness is butchering Australian comedy

The PC brigade is killing comedy for Australian audiences.

Aussie comedian Vince Sorrenti says “comedy is part of the solution” and “not the problem”. “There’s a place for political correctness. I think it serves a purpose,” he tells Ben Fordham.

“But I do think the pendulum has swung a little bit too far.  “People will get offended about anything.”

Vince says comedians shouldn’t edit their humour to suit everyone. “If you go through your life just trying to avoid offending anyone, you’re pretty much going to say nothing for the rest of your life.

“You need to chill out… and think someone’s just trying to make you laugh.

“Sweeping it all under the carpet, to me, just highlights the problem.”



Four current articles below

Half of all university degrees will be useless in ten years - as majority of employers admit business degrees are a waste of time

Almost half of Australian university degrees are at serious risk of becoming obsolete in the next 10 years unless they're overhauled, a new research paper has revealed.

Ernest & Young has called on universities to future-proof or risk major disruption following the release of its latest report, titled The university of the future.  

The dominant Australian university model is under threat of becoming unviable, and will leave graduates with more debt and poor job prospects, according to the report released on Tuesday.

More than 50 university leaders and policymakers were interviewed and more than 3000 students and employers were surveyed.

The dominant Australian university model is under threat of becoming unviable, and will leave graduates with more debt and poor job prospects, according to a new research paper +5
The dominant Australian university model is under threat of becoming unviable, and will leave graduates with more debt and poor job prospects, according to a new research paper

Large numbers of academics, teachers and employers consider that many of the degree courses offered will soon be obsolete unless they are overhauled to reflect the rapidly-changing nature of industry and employment, the report found

Around 42 per cent of current and past graduates felt their degree needed to be overhauled. 

Only 36 per cent of those studying humanities, culture and social sciences and just 41 per cent of science and mathematics students thought their degree was relevant to their job.

The report follows a recent Grattan Institute prediction that more than 50,000 of the 250,000 students who started a bachelor degree in Australia this year will drop out.

'Australian universities are under threat from changing learner preferences, new competitive models and international competition,' Ernest & Young Oceania Education Leader Catherine Friday said.

'They need to move now to ensure they meet the needs of a changing society and changing economy. To succeed, they will need to deconstruct the higher-education value chain, offering new formats such as unbundled degree programs, continuous subscription-based learning and just-in-time learning options.'

The report urges universities to collaborate more closely with industry in creating course content to produce more work-ready graduates after 50 per cent of employers claimed that management and commerce degrees are not worthwhile.

'Australian universities are ranked last in the OECD ranking for the ability to collaborate with business on innovation,' Ms Friday said.

'Fixing that has become an urgent priority - 51 percent of international students believe their degree needs to be transformed and the university leaders we spoke to estimate that 40 per cent of existing degrees will soon be obsolete. Those institutions that can crack the new, flexible teaching learning models required will reap the benefits, as they outpace competitors that persist in delivering three to four-year degree programs that employers simply do not value.'

Just 41 per cent of science and mathematics students interviewed thought their degree was relevant to their job +5
Just 41 per cent of science and mathematics students interviewed thought their degree was relevant to their job

Ms Friday believes there's a role for governments to define what they want out of the sector and needs to motivate the development of future offerings in collaboration with industry.

'For better or worse the policy choices of the past 40 years have given us today's education sector,' Ms Friday said.

'The policy choices we make now will define the education sector of 2030. Policy makers need to step above the fray and start making decisions that encourages a more effective and efficient model that builds on existing strengths.'

Marketing executive Michael Nguyen said little of what he learnt from his commerce degree had been relevant in the workplace.

'When you get out there, you have to know how to use platforms and create campaigns on social media,' Mr Nguyen told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'You don't learn that at university, you only learn textbook theory on things like what consumers do.'

University of Technology Sydney vice-chancellor for education Peter Scott is already planning for the future.

'One of the things UTS is now doing is developing our strategy for 2027 and looking at unbundling the degree, redesigning the physical campus and working with industry,' Professor Scott told the Sydney Morning Herald.


Outraged parents slam 'fun police' schools that force kids to sit in supervised areas instead of playing before class

Parents have slammed Queensland schools for forcing their children to sit down instead of running around the playground before class.

The move is to keep kids from being too energetic before lessons.

Mother Tiff Lawrance sends three of her children to Scarborough State School, north of Brisbane.

'I think it's crazy. Why should our children have to miss out on playtime before school. My nine and seven-year-old hate having to sit down and wait until the bell rings,' she told Daily Mail Australia.

'I believe there are way too many restrictions placed on children these days and it's unfair. They are the ones that school is supposed to be about and at the end of the day they are the ones it's affecting.'

Ms Lawrence took to social media to express her frustration and quickly found out Scarborough State School wasn't the only one with the policy.

'My kids primary school, kids aren't allowed morning play time before school. They have to sit under the undercover areas until the bell goes to go into school. Just interested to see if any other schools enforce this as I don't agree with it,' she wrote in Facebook group The Redcliffe Peninsula Community.

In response Sarah Bell wrote: 'Our school has just introduced this, it's not a supervision issue, it was kids playing sport and getting hurt… that's what kids do! I think they need to be able to run around and burn of some energy ready to sit in the class and learn, crazy society we seem to be creating!'

Patricia Truscott said: 'At our school they have said strictly no playing on the equipment even if parents are supervising.'

Many parents said the rules were in place for the safety of children, particularly if they arrive at school early and are unsupervised.

A spokesperson from the Department of Education said principals at each school made decisions regarding the safety of students.

They said classes at Scarborough started at 8.40am and students who arrived early were supervised in covered areas to make sure they were safe.

'The principal has not received any complaints about before-school supervision,' the spokesperson said.

The Catholic school funding shambles 12 months on

One year after the unveiling of the Gonski 2.0 package, it’s a good time to take a step back and reflect on the shambolic and tortuous process the Turnbull Government is bumbling through as it tries to devise a new school funding policy, Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Executive Director Stephen Elder says.

‘The warning bells started ringing when Senator Birmingham decided he knew how to develop what he called a fair, consistent and equitable funding model without consulting anyone other than the independent school sector,’ Mr Elder said.

‘In taking that approach he ignored detailed research from Catholic education that showed the key parameter in his model – school SES scores – was deeply flawed and biased in favour of elite independent schools.

‘Unsurprisingly, the Minister went on to announce a new funding approach that has been rightly labelled the best special deal independent schools have ever had.

‘But that approach was riddled with policy mistakes, and the Minister has been playing catch-up ever since, much to the concern of his marginal seat colleagues in the Reps who don’t share the luxury of his six-year Senate term.

‘We’re now in the bizarre situation whereby the Minister promised he would deliver schools “absolute certainty” over their funding, but most Catholic and independent schools don’t know what they will receive in a matter of months when school SES scores are replaced for the 2019 school year.

‘In fact, looking back at all the claims made by the Minister when he announced his new funding policy, one wonders whether he actually knew what he was talking about.

‘Most of these claims are deeply misleading, and bear no resemblance to what has actually transpired – or to the funding model that the Turnbull Government legislated in June 2017, as the attached CECV Research Brief outlines.

‘The one-year anniversary is also a good time to reflect on the worst policy development process in recent times. Senator Birmingham:

·     Increased the importance of SES scores in school funding by removing the option of system-average SES scores for non-government school systems thereby:

o  Ignoring recommendations from the original Gonski review to replace SES scores.

o  Ignoring detailed research from Catholic education that demonstrated school SES scores were flawed and biased against Catholic schools.

·     Announced a new school funding policy that would fundamentally reshape Catholic education in Australia by making Catholic primary schools in many parts of Australia fundamentally unviable – without consulting with Catholic education.

·     Legislated new funding requirements for state and territory governments which have the potential to dictate how much funding these governments provide to schooling – again without actually consulting with states and territories.

·     Decided to use dodgy new data to fund students with disability in schools, even though he had said himself it failed a basic credibility test – leading to a situation in Victoria where independent schools now claim more than 25 per cent of their students have disabilities.

·     Published figures on the funding that Catholic schools would receive under his policy proposal that were deliberately based on an incorrect starting point to disguise funding cuts for over 600 Catholic schools.

·     Informed all principals and school communities in schools that are part of systems of the funding they would receive from the Australian Government, while simultaneously insisting that system authorities – not the Government – would determine the funding that these actually received.

·     Claimed to be implementing the ‘full vision’ of the Gonski Review panel, even though some of the changes he announced contradicted aspects of the Gonski Review final report.

‘It is entirely predictable that this appalling process has delivered a flawed funding model. Ignorance and arrogance have never led to good policy.

‘One can only hope that Senator Birmingham learns from this experience as he now scrambles to fix his school funding shambles.’

 Media release. Further information: Christian Kerr, 0402 977 352

Australian schools have 'failed' a generation of students

It’s taxpayers’ money and real solutions that are Gonski

IF the new Gonski report on education is a “blueprint” for building student achievement, as described by the Prime Minister yesterday, we should all grab our kids and pets and evacuate.

The report is so lacking in substance and rigour that the roof is very likely to cave in.

Worse, it is a clear example of taxpayers’ money being soaked up by another review that not only did not deliver on its brief, but actually suggested spending more money to establish yet another review.

The committee’s task was to “examine evidence and make recommendations on the most effective teaching and learning strategies and initiatives to be deployed” in order to improve student achievement in school and maximise their opportunities post-school.

The review was commissioned in the wake of an announcement last year of significantly increased Commonwealth funding for schools. It was supposed to mitigate the risk that this extra funding would fail to improve results over the next 10 years — just as previous funding increases have failed over past years.

What the committee provided instead was a series of proposals that largely have no evidence basis and which would probably take up to a decade just to develop and implement.

The headline proposal is for a ‘continuous assessment tool’ — for which there is no evidence to support the grandiose claims of its impact — but there is also a wideranging set of 22 other recommendations. Some will increase administration burdens and bureaucracy, and some simply endorse things that are already happening, such as the reforms started by the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) in 2014.

What should actually be happening classrooms in terms of effective teaching for high standards of learning barely gets a look-in. The report doesn’t investigate the evidence on curriculum design and teaching strategies that lead to the most growth in learning, or advise on how to ensure that teachers use them.

Instead, there is a strange preoccupation with the idea of ‘growth mindset’ as being a key factor in student performance. According to this concept, students who believe they can do well are more likely to, so schools and parents should facilitate this attitude.

‘Growth mindset’ has the ring of a Pentecostal preacher about it — the idea that a dyslexic child who cannot read or write can be helped by simply being told to have a positive mental attitude is like a faith healer telling a blind person he can see if he believes he can. It follows that according to recent meta-analyses of mindset research, the relationship between mindset and achievement is weak at best.

And what about the idea to “deliver at least one year’s growth in learning for every student every year”? Again, it sounds obvious that this should be a goal for every student but there is a lot of missing detail in the report, and the complexities of Professor John Hattie’s research have been lost in translation.

How do we determine what is a year’s growth in learning in every single subject? Will it change as children move through school? Is it the same for typically-developing children and those with learning disabilities? Not so straightforward, after all.

It is easy to see the appeal for federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham of the recommendations about individual student growth and low-stakes assessment tools. They appear to tick both the student-centred progressivist box and the data-driven, instrumentalist box. There is enough ambiguity in the recommendations to bring states and territories to the table and hopefully come up with something useful and workable.

Unfortunately, the cupboard is bare. Rather than giving concrete advice, the report glides over the crucial ‘who’ and ‘how’, with recommendations like “ensure all students have the opportunity to be partners in their own learning” and “create the conditions necessary to enable teachers to effectively engage and benefit from professional learning.” What conditions are those, whose responsibility is it to create them, and what should happen if they don’t?

The Gonski 2.0 report got one thing right: Australia’s performance in international assessment has been sliding for a decade and action must be taken. Too many children are leaving school unable to read, let alone be the idealised ‘creative, connected and engaged learner’.

But the solutions posed in this report will take us further in the wrong direction. If implemented, the Gonski 2.0 report will just be another chapter in the story of Australia’s sad educational decline.


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, 2018

Australian comedian is banned from Facebook for 'hate speech' and 'racism' - for bagging New Zealanders' ACCENTS

The Kiwi accent is certainly unusual.  They have lost an entire vowel.  They say "fush n chups" instead of "fish n chips".  Losing a consonant is not uncommon.  Outside Scotland all English speakers have lost the guttural "ach laut", as in the Scottish "loch".  We still have it in our spelling -- as in "night" but we no longer pronounce the "gh".  And Cockneys have lost Theta.  They say "wif" instead of "with".  The Kiwis however seem to be the only group to have lost a vowel.

But the big issue is that the comments were just jocular.  There is no hate involved. Australians and Kiwis are of the same stock so hate would be absurd. There are small cultural differences but they evoke only humour.  Though Kiwis are undoubtedly tired of Australian jokes about sheep.  And Australians in New Zealand must never mention underarm bowling in cricket

An Australian comedian has taken to social media to share his thoughts on the age old rivalry between Australia and New Zealand.

It's one of those classic questions - like Ali or Frazier, Lennon or McCartney, and Ford or Holden - that anyone who has set foot in this corner of the globe will be more than happy to share their opinion on.

In the video, which has more than 324,000 views on YouTube, Mr Butterfield takes aim at what he sees as the many differences between the countries.

In the video titled 'The Actual Difference Between Australia and New Zealand,' posted in response to video by YouTuber 'How to DAD,' Mr Butterfield says the NZ national icon, the kiwi, is 'small, hairy and boring,' and that at least the koala 'has a little bit of personality'.

He says the country is known for 'some small budget movie ten years ago' and is also not a fan of the Haka, saying that Australia has its own version - quality players, but did concede that the All Blacks were 'very, very good at rugby.' 

Referring to the many adventure activities available across the ditch, Mr Butterfield said if he had a choice between jumping off a bridge with a rope or trying to understand NZ locals at the pub, he would choose the bridge minus the rope.

The video has incurred the wrath of not just New Zealanders but also of Facebook's powers-that-be.

Mr Butterfield said in a Twitter post the video was 'removed by Facebook for Hate Speech and 'Racism which is the most ridiculous response that I could ever imagine.'

The touring stand-up comedian in his early twenties also revealed that he was suspended from Facebook for seven days following the video removal.

'I understand Facebook is a private company and they can do whatever they want but… this is a humungous public forum and they are censoring it,' he said in a follow up YouTube video.

Youtube comments to the original video appeared to be free of any seriously offended remarks with one commenter stating, 'I'm from New Zealand but I found this video hilarious.'

Another commenter to Mr Butterfield's Twitter post revealing the ban said that, 'the video was comedy not hate speech… FB just doesn't understand kiwis and strayans.'

During Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before the US Congress on April 10, the Facebook CEO said that he could see artificial intelligence taking a front line role in automatically detecting hate speech on Facebook in five to 10 years.

'Until we get it automated, there's a higher error rate than I'm happy with,' he said.


'I'll set that church on fire': 'Australian Army veteran' leaves deadly threat online after Anglican minister posted Yassmin Abdel-Magied's controversial Anzac Day post on his church sign

Muslims get pretty irate at disrespect for their religion so why should not an Australian army veteran get irate at disrespect for our war-dead?

An Anglican minister who supported Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied by putting her controversial Anzac Day message on his church's billboard has revealed the terrifying threat an Army veteran sent him.

Father Rod Bower of the Gosford Anglican Church, north of Sydney, knew he would cop a lot of abuse after putting up the controversial message.

However, Father Bower did not expect to have his church threatened to be burnt down by a man dressed in a Australian Defence Force uniform.

The controversial minister reposted the man's threat, which read: 'I'll set that church on fire'. 

'This is the first time a member of the Australian Defence Force has threatened to burn our church down,' Father Bower wrote on Facebook. 

'We have had other occasional threats of arson, always from the extreme right of our nationals political spectrum.

'Ironically, the threats come from the very same people who warn that Muslims will 'burn your churches down'.

'A Muslim has in reality, never threatened me in any way.'

Father Bower acknowledged the negative and destructive behaviour by nationalists who caused a woman to flee her own country.

'The kind of nationalism that drives a woman from her own country with threats of rape and violence is truly frightening.

'Also when members of our own defense force threaten to turn on Australian Citizens simply for questioning the direction in which our culture is heading.

Father Bower concluded his post by saying he has the greatest respect and admiration for the courageous men and women who serve the nation. 

In the Facebook post before revealing he was threatened, Father Bower honoured the war veterans who served and protected, including some of his own relatives, before acknowledging the refugees and asylum seekers. 

'We must remember what we are doing to Refugees and Asylum Seekers on Manus and Nauru along with the harm we continue to cause the First Nation people.'

Father Bower's billboard stunt came a year after Yassmin Abdel-Magied tweeted then apologised for her controversial post.

'Lest. We. Forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine),' Ms Abdel-Magied wrote in 2017.

A few days before Anzac Day, the Sudanese-born former ABC presenter, 27, called on her supporters to tweet '#lestweforgetManus'.

The threat was investigated by the Australian Federal Defence and it's been confirmed the person who threatened the church is not a current member, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Father Bower said the issue has been passed on to the state police to investigate.  


Australian steel and aluminium remains exempt from US tariffs

The US is continuing tariff exemptions for Australian steel and aluminium producers.

A White House statement says President Donald Trump's administration has reached an in-principle deal on the tariffs with Australia, Argentina and Brazil.

It says the details of that arrangement will be finalised shortly.

Mr Trump announced in March that the US would impose a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and a 10 per cent tax on aluminium.

Shortly after that, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia would be exempt. But uncertainty remained because Mr Trump set a May 1 deadline for deciding whether that exemption would be permanent.

Today the President announced that he had struck a deal with Australia, Argentina and Brazil, but also warned that under certain circumstances he could reimpose the tariffs.

He has announced South Korea would be exempt from the tariffs because it had struck a deal to reduce the amount of steel it sends to the US.

Mr Trump has given himself another month to decide on whether the EU, Canada and Mexico would be exempt from the tariffs. The EU has threatened to retaliate if it is not exempt, which has raised fears of a trade war.


Governments at work: Australia’s billion dollar infrastructure boondoggles

AUSTRALIA is being buttered up for a multi-billion dollar infrastructure bonanza in next week’s budget. Road and rail projects are expected to be showered with taxpayer funds courtesy of Canberra.

But economists have warned that grand infrastructure projects can become billion-dollar wastes of money.

One highway upgrade in Victoria has returned just 8c for every dollar of public money invested in it. A proposed rail link could cost a motza and still be slower than the bus.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the Federal Government would chip in half of the $10 billion cost of a rail link to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.

“The time for talk is over … Melbourne is still waiting for a service almost all of the world’s great cities take for granted,” he said on April 12.

But for Grattan Institute transport expert Hugh Batrouney, it is still not certain that a Melbourne airport rail link is really worth it.

“My first reaction (when the announcement was made) was to look at whether the project was included on any of the infrastructure bodies’ priority lists and then to have a look to see if a detailed business case had been prepared,” Mr Batrouney told

“The answer to both of those questions was ‘no’.”

On the most recent priority list drawn up by Infrastructure Australia, a government body that assesses big projects, the rail link barely rates a mention. Infrastructure Victoria said the link wasn’t needed for 30 years.

Amazingly, the billions spent could actually make travel to the airport worse.

Infrastructure Victoria has said an alternative plan, of spending up to $100 million on traffic priority measures, could speed up trips on the existing SkyBus to just 20 to 25 minutes. In contrast, the expensive new train would take 30 minutes to go between Southern Cross and Tullamarine.

But the urge to build is hard to resist.

“The issue, particularly in Melbourne where there is such strong population growth, is there’s a perception the city is under developed in infrastructure. There’s a feeling we need to make up for that perceived infrastructure deficit,” he said.

It’s not that Melbourne doesn’t need an airport rail link; it just doesn’t need a train right now. And money spent on this train, can’t be spent on a train somewhere else.

Backers of big projects, with close-to-the-bone budgets, say the benefits aren’t just economic. They can enhance safety and revitalise neighbourhoods.

But what other questionable infrastructure projects are being — or have been — built?

Economists have long questioned the financial sense of expensive infrastructure that is not within Australian cities, or provides a link between them.

The A1 Princes Highway duplication in Victoria, which is still being built, does neither. Rather, it connects a regional city, Geelong, to a regional town, Colac.

The upgrade costing $500 million, is not included on Infrastructure Australia’s priority list, and has a return of just 8c on every dollar invested, according to the Grattan Institute. By some measure, over the period of a decade, taxpayers have subsidised every vehicle on the road to the tune of 13.7c per kilometre travelled.

Only the Forrest Highway, between Perth and Bunbury — which went five times over budget — has a higher cost per vehicle kilometre.

“A project can have merits beyond the economic case, there is no doubt about that,” Mr Batrouney said. In the A1’s case, that included easier access for tourists to the Great Ocean Road, the elimination of accident black spots and the opening up of southwestern Victoria. But it’s been a high price to pay for those benefits.

The M7 Tunnel is one of a number of expensive road tunnels, including Sydney’s Lane Cove Tunnel, that never fulfilled its promise.

The $3 billion tunnel under Brisbane’s CBD saw three times less traffic than was expected and ended up sending its private owner bankrupt.

ACT: The 12km tram project to link the CBD to Gungahlin is well under way with a price tag of about $700m. The Grattan Institute has previously found it will provide no more benefits than an alternative bus rapid transit project but will cost twice as much.

But the ACT Government has said a bus can’t compete with the urban development and property price hikes that a tram line brings.

In Newcastle, where a light rail line is also on the way, the justification is even more dubious. The less-than-3km tram line will cost about $300m and will replace a curtailed commuter train line.

A leaked NSW Government report found its return is expected to be less than one dollar to the dollar. But if the train line had remained in place and development had occurred alongside it, the return would have been $2.40 per dollar invested, Fairfax reported.

According to Mr Batrouney, the proposed western Sydney airport rail link falls squarely into the Melbourne rail link category of building too much way too soon.

The new airport at Badgerys Creek is right at the top of Infrastructure Australia’s to-do list. But a rail link, speeding people from the surrounding areas to the terminal costing as much as $7b, is not. Yet both the federal and NSW governments have signed up for it.

“The airport is due to open in 2026 but the Western Sydney Rail Needs Study found rail wasn’t needed for at least the first 10 years of operation so that puts it out to at least 2036,” he said.

INLAND RAIL: It’s the $9b railway the vast majority of us will never see. Snaking its way 1700km from Melbourne to Brisbane, its backers say it will take masses of freight from congested highways, create 16,00 jobs and pump $16 billion into the economy. But the Grattan Institute said it would “never add up”, that traffic projections were hazy and a cost overrun — likely on a mammoth project — could wipe out any benefits.

EAST WEST LINK MOTORWAY, MELBOURNE: The crowning glory of uneconomical infrastructure, however, is Melbourne’s inner-city East West link, which cost $1.2 billion NOT to build.

The road was controversially signed off by the then Victorian Coalition government weeks before the 2014 state election, after criticism the project did not have a rigorous cost-benefit analysis in place.

Labor, which had campaigned against the project, won the election and cancelled it. But, said Labor, to build would have cost at least $6b.

In a piece for The Conversation, Mr Batrouney said governments shouldn’t splash out on big projects until they had looked in detail at the economic impacts and opened the results up to public scrutiny.

“We shouldn’t be fooled into thinking any spending is good spending. There are many examples where the opposite is more likely true: where poorly targeted infrastructure wastes resources and weakens economic growth,” he said.


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

1 May, 2018

Malcolm Turnbull backs Gonski report call to move from mass learning to tailored education

Gonski is a lawyer and a notable networker. He has no experience as a teacher or educationist.  His report is an expression of conventional pious hopes and nothing more.  It's all old hat to real educationists.  The devil is in the detail.  How do you make it happen?  Nobody knows.  Most British private schools achieve something like it but they cost a bundle.  They need to charge like that to get the low staff-student ratios required.

So even to attempt to carry out its recommendations in government schools would take at least a doubling of teacher time.  Where do we get the extra teachers?  How do we pay them? 

Turnbull is safe in endorsing it as he won't have the job of implementing it.  The States will. The State governments will regard this as just a Chinese puzzle and do very little in response to it. It's just a pipe dream

David Flint comments: "Gonski- more of the same. More reviews, more money, poor discipline and a national disaster- constantly falling standards in education. As usual, Canberra  succeeds in only making the problem worse"

The Prime Minister has thrown his support behind what he's described as a blueprint to lift Australia's lagging educational performance, laid out in a report by businessman David Gonski.

Malcolm Turnbull has urged state governments, teachers and parents to back the recommendations in Mr Gonski's report on achieving excellence in Australian schools.

Mr Gonski's second major review into Australian education said the country must urgently modernise its industrial-era model of school education and move towards individualised learning for all students.

Too many Australian children are failing to reach their potential at school because of the restrictive nature of year-level progression, the report said.

It calls for the implementation across states of a new online assessment tool that teachers would use to diagnose the exact level of literacy and numeracy a child has achieved.

Teachers could then create individual learning plans for students that would not be tied to what year group they are in.

If formative online assessments were established and reported nationally, it would downgrade the intense focus on the yearly NAPLAN tests in favour of continuous, real-time measurement of student progress.

The Federal Government has agreed to implement all of the report's recommendations, and it hopes to use it to develop a new national schooling agreement.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said he would enter into talks with the states and territories about how to implement Mr Gonski's recommendations.

"We want to see a system out of this report where each student is stretched to the maximum of their capabilities each and every year over the 12 or 13 years of their schooling," Senator Birmingham said.

"It really is essential that teachers know and are able to chart where their students are up to in terms of what they're learning, how they're progressing and that parents are fully engaged as part of that process as well."

Mass education model holding back students

The report was commissioned by the Federal Government last year after the passage of its amended schools funding legislation.

Mr Gonski said in his report that the structure of Australian schools reflected "a 20th century aspiration to deliver mass education to all children".

The report recommended shifting from that industrial education model to one where schools focused on achieving each individual student's "maximum potential growth in learning each year".

It found current assessment tools in schools did not provide teachers with "real-time or detailed data on a student's growth".

"In our report we're suggesting: let's take some time to allow teachers to have more time to improve their art — and not to improve it because it's not good, but to keep up-to-date with all that's happening around the world and in their profession."

While tests like NAPLAN and the international sample test PISA provided "a useful big picture view of student learning trends across Australia and the world", they provided limited assistance to teachers at the classroom level, the report said.

It also said the current "rigidity of curriculum delivery, and assessment and reporting models" were holding Australia back.

Several state governments lodged submissions to the Gonski review, pointing out that current assessment tools used by teachers were not uniform across all schools.

The Victorian Education Department described current assessment tools in its state as "idiosyncratic".

Mixed-ability classes preferable

Many schools rely on gifted and talented programs to extend bright students but the report said evidence showed that mixed-ability classes were preferable.

It said streaming children by ability "has little effect in improving student outcomes and [has] profoundly negative equity effects".

It recommended overhauling the curriculum to focus on "learning progressions" that extended all students, regardless of ability.

Other key recommendations included:

    Setting up a national inquiry to review curriculum and assessment in years 11 and 12

    Establishing a national educational research institute

    Implementing greater principal autonomy

    Providing more rewards for high-performing teachers

    Overhauling the current A-E grading scale to instead measure progression gains

    Introducing a "unique student identifier" for all students that allows progress to be tracked across time, even if a student changes schools or moves interstate

A special meeting of the Education Council will be held on Friday to discuss the recommendations in the report, titled Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools.

Mr Gonski was commissioned by the Gillard government in 2011 to compile a major report on school funding.

The review formed the basis for what is known as the Gonski legislation that created a baseline resourcing standard across all schooling sectors.

Findings 'not supported by research', 'lack detail'

But the report has not been welcomed by all in the sector, with the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) describing it as a failure.

Senior research fellow at the CIS, Jennifer Buckingham, said the report offered no clear guidance to schools and did not meet the review's terms of reference.

"Many of the findings are not supported by research, and lack detail about implementation," Ms Buckingham said.

    "For example, the disproportionate attention to policies that facilitate 'growth mindset' have no evidence-basis in terms of impact on student achievement.

"Likewise, the pre-occupation with increasing the focus on general capabilities has no support in rigorous research about curriculum design and how children learn."

The Australian Education Union said it was concerned the report was coming at a time when the Federal Government was cutting funds to public schools over the next two years.

Union president Correna Haythorpe said it was about properly resourcing disadvantaged schools and students.

"We do have outstanding teachers across Australia who are delivering a very high-quality curriculum, but the reality is that they are missing out on the resources needed to close the student achievement gap," she said.


More African vibrancy in Melbourne

Rental property trashed and police cars smashed as wild party involving dozens of African youths descends into violence. Police cars and property were smashed and damaged at wild Melbourne party

A rental property has sustained thousands of dollars in damage and four police vehicles have been smashed after officers arrived to shut down an out-of-control party in Melbourne in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The party, held at a property in North Melbourne, was an online rental booked under a false name and bears striking similarities to a spate of recent wild parties throughout the city.

Police arrived at the 17 Shands Lane address at about 2am in response to noise complaints and were pelted with rubbish and other objects, including damage to four police cars at the scene. 

'It's outrageous. It's criminal behaviour and we won't tolerate it,' Senior Sergeant Adam Tanner told the media on Sunday.

The partygoers allegedly shouted 'you can't come in ... get a warrant' when police knocked on the door, a witness told 7 News.

The party guests have been described as being of African appearance, Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia.

Around 50 youths were found at the party and were asked to leave but police discovered 'significant damage' had been made to the property.

Numerous items were recorded as stolen such as a TV and microwave and walls that had been 'punched or kicked in', Sergeant Tanner explained.

'The group dispersed but then began throwing objects at police from a nearby laneway,' leading Senior Constable Lee Thomson said.

Police took cover for safety and later found their patrol cars had been significantly damaged with smashed windscreens, some side mirrors kicked off and panels dented.

Neighbours described waking to the sounds of banging and shouting, abusive language and youths jumping and running across police cars. 

'They were running down the street and jumping on the cars,' a father of two and resident of the area told the Herald Sun.

Another resident Meg Moorhouse said the party-goers became violent quickly, loitering in the alleyway and using 'abusive language' toward police.

'It was aggressive,' she told the Herald Sun.

'They were drinking in the alley. They left broken bottles and were yelling.'

'I think they [party attendees] need to party in normal places ... whether it's in pubs or in public areas that are enforceable by law, or in their own homes,' another neighbour told 7 News. 

The youths reportedly did not leave the street until about 8am, and it's the second out-of-control party to have been hosted at the property over the past fortnight, according to neighbours. 

The $460 per night four-star North Melbourne rental home was listed on multiple rental sites but the 'strict house rules' include 'no parties' and noise levels needing to 'be kept at an appropriate level at all times'.   

No arrests have been made and witnesses are continuing to be questioned by police.

Police are speaking to the owners of the property and investigating the details of the person who made the rental booking.

The police vehicles are also being processed by crime scene services and distinctive footprints have been recorded from the scene.

Piles of rubbish and broken glass can still be seen outside the property and a locksmith was seen changing the locks.


Cutback to funding for Catholic schools

Members of Victoria’s 500 Catholic school communities will be watching next month’s federal budget to see if the Turnbull Government is serious about tackling their concerns over the Gonski 2.0 debacle, Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Executive Director Stephen Elder says.

‘It’s been less than  12 months since Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham stood up to announce a new era of fair funding had arrived, yet in that time over 600 Catholic schools across the nation have already lost an average of nearly $600,000 each, or just under $2,000 per student,’ Mr Elder said.[PB1]

‘The fine print of the Gonski 2.0 legislation – discovered only after the bill had passed the Senate – showed that over-funded independent schools will transition down to their new funding levels over 10 years, while their Catholic equivalents will have just six years to accommodate the changes, leaving them over $1 billion out of pocket.[PB2]

‘This not only makes a mockery of Mr Turnbull and Senator’s Birmingham “no more special deals” rhetoric. It can’t be called “needs-based funding” either.

‘About one hundred thousand families have students in a Catholic school across the state. We are the biggest school system after the government sector by far.

‘Spread those families across Victoria’s 38 federal electorates and they have real punch at the ballot box.

‘That’s why, with the whiff of an election in the air, we expect to see signs on 8 May the Turnbull Government has recognised the need to rebuild bridges with the Catholic education community.’

Mr Elder said Catholic school communities expect action on three key priorities.

‘We expect to see signs in the forward estimates that no special deals means no special deals; that the transition measures for non-government schools don’t see the smaller, more exclusive independent sector given a four year free ride that leaves Catholic schools over $1 billion behind.

‘We expect to see signs to show the government is serious when it talks about needs-based funding and is prepared to finally act on the recommendations of the Final Report of the Gonski Review Panel from more than five years ago and replace the fatally-flawed school socio-economic status, or SES, score system.

‘We expect to find clear indications that the government is looking at fair and accurate measures of need for non-government schools – measures that won’t slash funding for Catholic parish schools while lining the pockets of wealthy independent schools.

‘With Gonski 2.0, Mr Turnbull and Senator Birmingham put the horse before the cart. With the Budget, they can begin to put things right.’

Media release received via email. Further information: Christian Kerr, 0402 977 352

The sexual, racist and homophobic remarks that got a police officer booted from the force

A Victorian police officer has been dismissed from his post in the transit safety division after a decade of derogatory and racist remarks were revealed during a disciplinary hearing.

The man, whose identity isn't revealed, allegedly told a constable she had a 'cracking a***', offered to slap another's 'just once' and made comments about public service officers not being Australian or greeted them as 'homos'.

When she replied that she had, he continued with: 'Don't worry if I want you, you will know about it,' the Herald Sun reported.

While the officer contested his dismissal upon reviewing the comments Police Registration and Services Board Victoria upheld the decision.

While the police officer was later diagnosed with mental health issues, he made a point of saying his actions were only an effort to promote camaraderie.

The board said his unprofessional and repeatedly disrespectful conduct was made worse by the fact he didn't appear willing or able to alter his behaviour.


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Another bit of Australian: Any bad writing or messy anything was once often described as being "like a pakapoo ticket". In origin this phrase refers to a ticket written with Chinese characters - and thus inscrutably confusing to Western eyes. These tickets were part of a Chinese gambling game called "pakapoo".

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

Would you believe that there once was a politician whose nickname was "Honest"?

"Honest" Frank Nicklin M.M. was a war hero, a banana farmer and later the conservative Premier of my home State of Queensland in the '60s. He was even popular with the bureaucracy and gave the State a remarkably tranquil 10 years during his time in office. Sad that there are so few like him.

A great Australian wit exemplified

An Australian Mona Lisa (Nikki Gogan)

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."

A great Australian: His eminence George Pell. Pictured in devout company before his elevation to Rome


Alternative (Monthly) archives for this blog


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral Reef Compendium
IQ Compendium
Queensland Police
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger
My alternative Wikipedia


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
Alt archives
Longer Academic Papers
Johnray links
Academic home page
Academic Backup Page
General Backup
General Backup 2

Selected reading



Rightism defined
Leftist Churches
Leftist Racism
Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
What are Leftists
Psychology of Left
Status Quo?
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism

Van Hiel
Pyszczynski et al.

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following:

OR: (After 2015)