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?


30 November, 2014

Dancing to a union tune in the senate

THERE’S a long-held view that lunacy prevails across the nation from Melbourne Cup Day to Australia Day.

The antics of erratic PUP senator Jacqui Lambie, Motoring Enthusiast Ricky Muir, independent Nick Xenophon, independent (formerly DLP) John Madigan and Labor’s Sam Dastyari would seem to confirm this.

In an extravagant example of populist grandstanding, this combination (backed by the Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson) managed on Wednesday to retrospectively undermine small financial advisory businesses across the country and prop up the huge trade union super funds and the big banks which would otherwise have had their activities reined in.

So much for Lambie, Muir, Xenophon, Madigan and Whish-Wilson’s claims to be champions of the little people, society’s underdogs.

As for Dastyari, who propped up former MP Craig Thomson and was allied to the notorious NSW ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid, he remains a tool of the union movement.

Hundreds of thousands of older Australians rely on superannuation for income and many more will in the next decade as the baby boomers take retirement.

Most depend on the big banks and the big industry funds for their retirement advice but, unbeknown to them, the bank and super fund advisers have merely been peddling their own institutions’ financial products — not looking across the marketplace for the best investments that would work for their customers.

Their loyalty has not been to the punters but to their own bosses — self-interest wins every time.

The Coalition went to the election promising to take on the vested interests — the union funds and the banks — empowering retirees and also strengthening the case for independent financial advisers.

The Labor legislation then in place favoured the banks and the big union superfunds which, naturally, were loaded with highly paid union stalwarts.

The superfunds have paid Labor back generously — even to the extent of bankrolling a left-wing website The New Daily with an initial $3 million to launch the beast and a further $3 million to keep the non-performing Labor propaganda site afloat.

Technically it was possible to change the status quo by regulation — and the senate had voted twice to do so before the amendments took effect on July 1, 2014.

It was these amendments to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) legislation that the senate voted to disallow on Wednesday after heavy lobbying from Industry Super Australia and the big banks.

Labor, the Greens, Lambie and the two independents have now undone provisions which would have ensured the requirement for financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients remained in the legislation in full.

They have removed the ban on conflicted remuneration — the bar on incompatible commissions — and they have added to the tangle of red tape that those attempting to come to grips with their retirement incomes have to deal with.

Nationals senator John “Wacka” Williams, who has been relentless in his pursuit of reckless and criminal financial advisers who have ripped off consumers, provided a good analogy when he argued for retirees and against the wreckers during the debate.

He said the big problem in financial advice is what is called “vertical integration”.

He asked the senators to imagine he was Ford salesman who has been approached by a male customer with a wife and six children who needed a vehicle.

If, he said, he had the obligation to sell a vehicle that was in the customer’s best interests he might find he didn’t have the right product but he would try and sell the customer a Ford — because he was working for Ford.

“I would not say to you: ‘Go down to Toyota. They have got a Tarago, it seats eight, it is a good safe vehicle, it is economical. That would be the best vehicle for you’. I am working for Ford: they pay my way; I am going to try to sell you a Ford.

“That is what happens in the financial planning industry. The big six — the big four banks, Macquarie Private Wealth and AMP — basically run the industry.

“Their planners work for them. And it is likewise in the financial industry when you wish to invest your money or your self-managed super fund or whatever.

“They are going to tell you to invest in one of their products — but it may not be the best product in your case or in your circumstances.”

It’s not that difficult to understand. The banks and the big super companies offer their advisers a wage and their advisers offer their companies’ products.

The Greens are innately contradictory and illogical. It’s easy to understand why they would vote against a consumer friendly measure.

The PUPs supported the amendments, but Lambie has now broken with them — and her vote is one of childish spite.

Labor was rewarding the unions again. More could have been expected of Xenophon and Madigan.

At least you know who to hold responsible for increased super charges, added red tape, and the destruction of small independent financial advisory companies


IMMIGRATION Minister granted broad new powers

Scott Morrison has been granted broad new powers to cancel visas to non-citizens who commit crimes.

IMMIGRATION Minister Scott Morrison has been granted broad new powers to cancel or refuse visas to non-citizens who commit crimes in Australia.

THE Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that broadens the existing grounds for not passing a character test and lowers the threshold for the cancellation of temporary visas for non-citizens.
Labor supported the bill, but urged the immigration minister to use his new powers as outlined by the legislation.

Assistant immigration minister Michaelia Cash said the federal government had low tolerance of criminal behaviour by non-citizens.

"Entry and stay in Australia by non-citizens is a privilege, not a right," she told the chamber on Wednesday.

"The Australian community expects that the Australian government can and should refuse entry to non-citizens or cancel their visas if they do not abide by Australian laws."

A person can now fail the character test if there's a "reasonable suspicion" - not a conviction - for involvement in crime gangs, people smuggling, genocide, war crimes, torture or slavery.

Anyone who has one or multiple jail sentences adding up to 12 months - down from two years - or has an adverse ASIO assessment of child sex charges can also fail automatically.

The minister can cancel or refuse a visa to anyone who fails the character test.

The Australian Greens opposed the legislation, warning it gave unprecedented powers to the minister and risked breaching fundamental human rights.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young described it is as another "power grab" by Mr Morrison.

"Why on earth he thinks he needs more powers is beyond me," she said.

"Give him an inch and he'll take a mile."


Queensland racks up smallest deficit in seven years

Under conservatives

THE Newman Government has chalked up the smallest fiscal deficit since 2006-07, the latest Report on State Finances has revealed.

The predicted deficit for 2013-14 shrunk from more than $6 billion to $2.58 billion after the Government kept a lid on expenses and received $1.5 billion in disaster funding earlier than expected.

“Despite the good outcomes in this report, the changes we’ve made are just the beginning of the work that needs to be done,’’ Treasurer Tim Nicholls said.

“Our expenses are now under control but at the same time we’ve been able to dramatically reduce surgery waiting times, we’ve eliminated the long wait dental list, we’re building new schools and upgrading roads.

“The debt level remains a problem for us with debt per person still at the highest level of any state and it’s clear that even with the most prudent financial management we can only make small inroads into that debt.

“Our Strong Choices plan is the next step in significantly reducing the debt and funding the job-creating infrastructure our growing state needs.”

Meanwhile, Premier Campbell Newman has described his government as a “grown-up” one with more to do in his final ministerial statement to State Parliament for the year, and potentially his last before the next state election.

In an address aimed squarely at voters, Mr Newman told the House while not every decision his government had made had been easy or popular, he believed all had been necessary.

“We are all working relentlessly together to take this State forward, to give Queenslanders everything they deserve and expect from a grown-up State Government,” he said.

“We are working hard for Queenslanders, and I stress today the job is not complete.

“Some of the actions we have taken have been difficult and I acknowledge some have not been easy for many people in our community.

“But all have been necessary. Necessary to deal with the challenges we face as we rebuild Queensland, as we position our state so we can face the years ahead with confidence, with strength and the ability to seize the opportunity of a better future for all Queenslanders.”

It comes a week after an exclusive Galaxy poll conducted for The Courier-Mail revealed that while Mr Newman’s personal approval rating had improved, Labor has gained ground on the LNP since the last survey in August.

The parties are now locked neck-and-neck ahead of next year’s election — 50-50 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis.


Fact check: Chris Bowen scaremongering on return of old-style commissions for financial advisers

The claim: Chris Bowen says the Government's changes to financial advice laws will bring back the type of commissions that encouraged financial advisers to recommend risky investments.

    The verdict: The proposed changes will only apply to some forms of general advice. They do not bring back old-style commissions.

Commentary around the Federal Government's proposed changes to financial advice laws suggests the financial planning and advice industry is about to return to the bad old days when retirees lost their life savings in dodgy investments that paid big commissions to their advisers. But is that really the case?

In 2011, the former Labor government introduced the "Future of Financial Advice" (FOFA) reforms after a series of financial collapses. It turned out that many investors were given inappropriate advice by financial advisers who were motivated by big hidden commissions.

Some in the industry suggested Labor's reforms went too far and in response, the Coalition promised during the election campaign to amend FOFA. In January 2014 the Abbott Government released draft legislation and regulations for consultation, and on March 19 it presented revised legislation to Parliament. The process has since been paused for further consultation.

Labor opposes the changes. On March 25, Opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen told Parliament that the original reforms had been introduced in response to collapses such as Westpoint, Trio and Storm Financial.

"The commissions being paid for the advice to invest in Westpoint amounted, on average, to 10 per cent of the amount invested," Mr Bowen said. "And this Government thinks that's just fine. This Government wants to bring back laws which would enable that to happen..."

Will the Government's proposals allow the reintroduction of the type of commissions that were paid to advisers who recommended Westpoint and Trio investments or advisers employed by Storm Financial?

    The claim: Chris Bowen says the Government's changes to financial advice laws will bring back the type of commissions that encouraged financial advisers to recommend risky investments.
    The verdict: The proposed changes will only apply to some forms of general advice. They do not bring back old-style commissions.

General and personal financial advice

There are two types of financial advice - general and personal. The difference between them is that general advice is given without taking into account the client's objectives, financial situation or needs.

A regulatory guide issued by the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), requires that in the case of general advice, the adviser must warn the client at the outset that they are giving general advice and that "the advice has been prepared without taking into account their objectives, financial situation or needs". The guide says that the advice will automatically become personal advice if the adviser considers the client's relevant circumstances when preparing and giving that advice. ASIC says the adviser "cannot avoid this by giving a general advice warning".

Many situations fall under the general advice description, ranging from general discussions with bank customer service staff to product brochures and advertisements.

Phil Anderson, the chief operating officer of the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA), one of the two largest associations of financial advisers, says that general advice could be telling a customer that "typically younger superannuation fund members will invest in shares as they generate the highest long term returns".

A spokeswoman for AMP, which operates one of the largest financial advice networks in Australia and New Zealand, suggests that general advice could even "be Shane Oliver [AMP's chief economist] talking about market conditions".


28 November, 2014

Children in detention: protesters harass the people solving the problem

A passive-aggressive civil disobedience movement has been underway in Australia for months with activists occupying the offices of federal Coalition ministers and refusing to leave. They demand to be arrested. They use social media to demonstrate their civil sacrifice.

The occupiers have started carrying children's soft toys, as a signal of their noble intent.

They think that caring about children in detention is self-evidently good and pure and noble. Members of the Uniting Church have been foremost in the more sanctimonious aspects of these displays.

The occupying movement is called Love Makes A Way. However, when it really mattered, when the problem of children in detention was getting out of hand, when nearly 2000 kids were locked up and others had drowned at sea, when the federal Labor government was opening detention camps all over Australia, then announced a hell-hole in Papua New Guinea, there was no occupying movement, complete with soft toys.

It wasn't until the problem was being solved, and the peak number of 1992 children in detention, reached in the middle of 2013, had been slashed in half by the incoming Coalition government, that the sit-ins started.

Yet there were no sit-ins while Labor was opening detention centres in Inverbrackie, Pontville, Wickham Point, Curtin, Scherger, Yongah Hill, Blaydin Point, Darwin Airport Lodge, Berrimah House, Adelaide, Brisbane and Port Augusta, after filling Christmas Island, which it had called a "white elephant" to overflow.

Thousands of beds were installed, thousands of strands of razor wire were installed, 50,000 people were placed in detention, including 8000 children. No government offices were occupied by church activists.

The Coalition government then quickly stopped the flow of undocumented arrivals, and started closing detention centres, and reduced the number of detained children by 75 per cent on Christmas Island, and by more than 50 per cent in the rest of the system, and is preparing to release the rest of the children into the community when required legislation has been passed.

Labor and the Greens created a problem which simply did not exist when Labor won power in 2007. Their moral grandstanding led directly to the deaths of more than 1000 people, the incarceration of 50,000, the re-emergence of a gouging people-smuggling trade, a quagmire in the Australian legal system, and a $10 billion burden on the federal budget.

Because the electorate was profoundly opposed to the idea of open borders – the tacit policy of the Greens that they refuse to admit – the Labor government had to institute the worst-of-both worlds, a deterrence policy and an enormously expensive admissions process which let most undocumented arrivals into the country anyway.

So why was this national disgrace not a matter of civil disobedience? Why is the government – which released close to 1000 children from detention – being condemned for a problem it did not create and is quickly solving?

So far the offices of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, federal ministers Scott Morrison and  Julie Bishop, assistant ministers Michaelia Cash and Jamie Briggs, along with the office of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, have been occupied.

Those who are occupying offices and demanding to be arrested are presumably not idiots. They must know that the placement of hundreds of children into care is a large-scale bureaucratic process. It takes months, and most of the children speak no English.

Caring about children in detention is laudatory. The activists of Love Makes A Way are to be commended for caring and for doing something about it. But I find their belated, selective, passive-aggressive, toy-brandishing, arrest-me, social-media grandstanding to be nauseating. The people who are busy solving the problem are being harassed and blamed.

Labor was hopelessly wrong on this issue both coming into power and going out. It mocked the Coalition's policies to solve the problem. The electorate did not. So successful has the Abbott government been in stopping the boats and reducing the numbers in detention that it has ceased to be an issue of national debate.

The antics of what I regard as Hypocrisy Will Find A Way – which just happens to be targeting a conservative government – affords an opportunity to look at the numbers and commend the federal government for staunching, defusing and dismantling the national detention disgrace. It has done so with quite remarkable speed, given how overwhelmed the Rudd-Gillard government was in fixing the mess it so methodically created.


Controversy over foreigners buying Australian real-estate

After all the hearings and submissions, the House of Representatives Economics Committee Report on Foreign Investment in Residential Real Estate boils down to this sentence on page 86:

"Conflicting evidence has been received by this inquiry, although on balance it is the committee's view that the benefits of foreign investment outweigh the negatives."

It might seem a little odd that this bottom line doesn't feature in the "four key findings that translate into 12 practical recommendations" listed in committee chair Kelly O'Dwyer's introduction to the report, but followers of Yes, Minister  - the British documentary series on the nature of government – would not be surprised.

There is a need for politicians to be seen to be doing something about "barbeque stopper" issues, particularly if such an issue is in danger of becoming socially divisive, is being whipped along by the government's tabloid media of choice and is causing some angst in the government's electoral heartland.

So it is with the suggestion that "foreigners" (code word for "Asians") are invading Australia not via leaky boats, but through real estate agents – buying up vast tracts of Australian housing, pushing affordability through the roof, pricing "real" Australians out of the market and thus denying them their birthright of the Great Australian Dream.

Ms O'Dwyer doesn't spell it out quite that clearly in her introduction, but she goes close:

    "Owning your own home is part of the great Australian Dream. For many it represents the opportunity to build a future, it represents connection with community and security for family.

    "Buying into the Australian Dream doesn't come cheap. According to a recent International Monetary Fund, the current ratio of housing prices in Australia to average incomes is 31.6% above the historical average.

    "Is it any wonder then, that many Australians now worry that home ownership may be out of reach for them, for their children, or for their grandchildren? At the same time, Australians worry about rental and interest costs, and their impacts on the cost of living.

    "There is no one simple explanation for the decline in housing affordability – although lack of land supply, underdevelopment, state planning laws and regulations, local council red tape, and stamp duty and tax arrangements likely all play a part.

    "Over the years, however, many in the community have asked the question – what role does foreign investment play in residential real estate?"

And so, to be seen to be doing something and in keeping with the sage advice of never holding an inquiry without knowing what it will find, Joe Hockey commissioned an inquiry, giving O'Dwyer's committee the task of doing something.

The four key findings amount to the discovery that the government lacks  detailed knowledge about just how much real estate is owned by whom and that the Foreign Investment Review Board probably has not been enforcing the existing perfectly adequate rules.

So, the recommendations include for the establishment of a national register of land title transfers to include citizenship and residency status of all purchasers – something the Nationals and Alan Jones have been after for some years.

(And such a register could make for interesting reading for all sorts of reasons for all sorts of people if it insists on drilling down to beneficial ownership.)

The committee wants FIRB to have access to Immigration Department information on the departure of visa holders, to be across all foreign purchases and to enforce the existing rules.

To finance this large increase in FIRB's workload, the committee proposes a user-pays application fee of $1,500 for foreign purchases. The Parliamentary Budget Office suggests that would raise about $159 million over four years.

O'Dwyer's introduction manages to include the standard few gratuitous swipes at the previous Labor governments, corrects speculation about free trade agreements having an impact on residential impact and supports the adequacy of our existing regulations.

So there, something has been seen to be done, foreign buyers should be reassured as the nation needs their investment to encourage more building and the real conclusion about the impact on housing affordability is what everyone already knew – maybe a little at the margin, but not enough to worry about it.


Green Party leader trying to hang on to renewable energy target

Greens leader Christine Milne has reached out to key crossbench senators to try to save the renewable energy target.

Senator Milne has sent three personalised letters to RET fence-sitters Jacqui Lambie, Nick Xenophon and Ricky Muir, detailing the impact scaling back the target would have on their states.

In one letter, she appeals to fellow Tasmanian, Senator Lambie, to help drive investment in renewable energy or face "economic pain, higher unemployment and social dislocation".

Senator Lambie has pushed for hydro to be included in the RET, claiming the target disproportionately affects Tasmanians - who predominantly run on hydro-electricity.

"I fear you have been misled by industries that have a financial interest in destroying Tasmania's emerging industries," Senator Milne writes.

The government wants to slash the target of 41,000 gigawatt hours to about 27,000, claiming that figure will represent 27 per cent of energy use by 2020 instead of the bipartisan level of 20 per cent.

Senator Milne's letters, obtained by AAP, follow a crossbench plan to include existing hydro and solar projects in the RET.

The proposal - spearheaded by Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm - would mean no significant new investment in renewable energy would be needed to meet the target.

It comes amid industry uncertainty prompted by a breakdown in major party negotiations.

Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer - with two Senate seats - is committed to maintaining the target, leaving Senator Muir and Senator Xenophon as crucial votes to pass the proposal if the government signs on.

Senator Milne claims including existing hydro in the target would cost households and would not reduce emissions nor drive new investment - a key aim of the policy.

"In other words, it would be all-pain for no gain," she writes to Senator Muir.

The Clean Energy Council believes the proposal would hand $13.5 billion to existing hydro power at the expense of much of the planned $14.5 billion of investment in new large-scale renewable energy.

Senator Milne has requested meetings with each senator next week.


Iced coffee cops:  Victorian police are captured on video sipping drinks while parked in a No Standing zone

Two police officers have been left red-raced after apparently being filmed enjoying an iced coffee on an outdoor table while their marked police car is parked in a No Standing zone.

The two officers from Victoria Police were filmed by a disgruntled member of the public, who then decided to embarrass the officers by posting the clip on Facebook on a page called 'Victoria Police Corruption'.

The video, which was taken on Hawthorn Road Caulfield North, in Melbourne's inner south-east, has already garnered over 230,000 views since it was uploaded 21 hours ago.

The home video shows the two officers sitting at an outdoor table sipping drinks at a café, having parked their car within walking distance to their table, in a No Standing zone.

Clearly upset with the officers' misconduct, the Facebook member uses his phone to film the unlawful act, hoping to name and shame the officers involved in the incident.

'Nice place for lunch,' the man filming the video says, taunting the officers with his camera.

'Parked in a No Standing, you’d give us a ticket for that wouldn't you.' he says, repeating it when he gets no response from the officers. The police officers give the man the cold shoulder, not acting up for the camera.  

'Wouldn't you constable' the man says, referring to the parking ticket,  as he zooms in on the officers name tag.

'Did you get my name?,' the constable asks, as the man decides to turn off his recording device as the policeman answers him back.

As the Daily Mail understands, police vehicles may park in No Standing zones in emergency situations.  Police officers also need to be in close proximity to their car, should an emergency arise.

The Facebook group 'Victoria Police Corruption' states that they are: 'An open platform for documenting police news, misconduct, brutality and abuse of power'  'The practice of Police investigating Police needs to end' the page says.

Over 1,200 people commented on the post, with the majority of commenters siding with Victoria Police in this situation.

Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia, that all employees are 'required to park police vehicles legally at all times, unless exempt from doing so.' 

'An exemption is available under the Road Rules Victoria Regulation Act 2009 for drivers of emergency vehicles. Information on exemptions is available in part 19 of the act,' they said.


27 November, 2014

Tony Abbott not happy about gay marriage bill, says senator

Same-sex marriage advocates are rejoicing that Senator David Leyonhjelm will introduce his same-sex marriage bill to Parliament on Wednesday.

But there is one person who is most definitely not, according to the Liberal Democrat.  Senator Leyonhjelm told reporters in Canberra that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was "not enthusiastic" about the same-sex marriage bill.

"His argument was the government's got plenty of troubles without this one coming along," Senator Leyonhjelm said.  "He would prefer I didn't [introduce the bill]."

Senator Leyonhjelm had a recent dinner meeting with Mr Abbott, where the Prime Minister again "made plain" his opposition to same-sex marriage.

After the dinner, the LDP Senator decided to go ahead with his plans to legalise marriage for same-sex couples as well as transgender, bisexual and intersex Australians. "The time is right for this bill," he said on Wednesday.

"I support marriage equality because I believe people should have the freedom to choose their own life path. "

On Wednesday, Senator Leyonhjelm called on the Prime Minister to agree to allow a conscience vote on the issue.

Mr Abbott has previously said the matter of a free vote would be one for the post-2013 election party room after an attempt to introduce same-sex marriage was voted down in 2012 when Coalition MPs and some Labor MPs voted against it.

"All I am asking for is tolerance," Senator Leyonhjelm said. "I will not be asking anyone to join a float in the gay mardi gras. Or to become the seventh member of the Village People."

Senator Leyonhjelm's bill proposes to change the wording of the Marriage Act to define marriage as "the union of two people" rather than a "man and a woman". But it will not make it compulsory for celebrants to marry same-sex couples, except in the case of government employed celebrants.

Senator Leyonhjelm explained that he had resisted the urge - as a libertarian - to ban the government from authorising marriages entirely, as he understood the bill needed to appeal to mainstream Australia.  The NSW Senator is not officially married to his wife of 30 years.

Senator Leyonhjelm said that after introducing his bill at around 3pm on Wednesday, he would delay a vote until he was confident it would succeed. He said he was confident that the Liberal Party would agree to a free vote on the issue, but cautioned it was not a "foregone conclusion".


BHP Billiton’s short-lived climate cuddle

The climate-friendly bonhomie of BHP Billiton’s Chairman, Jac Nasser, didn’t last long into question time at the company’s annual general meeting in Adelaide late last week.

Ahead of the AGM BHP had gone to great lengths to buff its climate policy credentials. In his opening speech Nasser even addressed climate change before discussing the state of the global economy.

However, when asked whether the company would continue to invest in thermal coal assets Nasser testily declared that there is no “realistic alternative” to the ongoing use of coal in power stations.

Aviva Imhof, representing her father and a number of other shareholders, had initially congratulated the board on their recent in acknowledging the seriousness of climate change and the implications of it for the company. [Disclosure: Ms Imhof is a work colleague]

“Will BHP Billiton rule out new investments in thermal coal? Do you believe that your existing investments in thermal coal risk becoming stranded assets due to the need to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius?,” she asked Nasser.

“It’s ‘no’ and ‘no’,” Nasser said. “Do you have any other questions?,” he bluntly asked.

She did. “So, given that the IPCC and the global consensus is that up to 80% of fossil fuels need to remain in the ground if we are to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, how could you justify additional investments in thermal coal?,” she asked.

Nasser reiterated that the company accepts the IPCC’s assessment of climate science. He argued that the company believed in the need to pursue a twin objectives of limiting climate change and track and providing for growing energy needs for development.

“You have to be realistic. The realistic side of this is that there are no real alternatives for the growing demand of energy over the next decade,” he said.

Imhof was stunned: “I’m really surprised to hear you say that Mr Chairman, given the absolutely astronomic decline in the price of solar and wind and other renewables. Solar is reaching grid parity in at least 16 markets around …”.

Nasser tersely interjected. “Ms Imhof, it’s not us, it’s the IPCC.”

“Yes and the IPCC say there has to be no investments in high-carbon infrastructure after 2017 if we are going to keep within two degrees of global warming. So it seems to me that if you say you are not going to rule out further investments in thermal coal you are not taking your commitment to climate change seriously,” she responded.

While Nasser was asserting there was no alternative to thermal coal last Thursday, an investor presentation briefing released on Monday morning indicated that the company is acutely aware of the declining financial performance of thermal coal and its vulnerability to energy competition.

In one slide (page 31) BHP Billiton states that energy growth will continue but concedes that “the shape of future energy demand mix is difficult to predict.” While the BHP Billiton code is cautious, the implication is clear: that at least in part, the growth of renewables and efficiency are posing a threat to thermal coal.

This is as good as confirmed when in another slide (page 33) the company refers to ‘energy coal’ as being “contestable.”

Another slide (page 48) charts the contribution of the company’s coal division to earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) plummeting from approximately 14 per cent in 2010 to approximately two percent in the space of five years.

In an accompanying note, BHP Billiton laments that the thermal coal market “remains well supplied” which is “prolonging the weaker pricing environment.” While demand it says “remains steady”, it soberly notes that prices will languish longer until further mines close.

As for the coal industry’s long touted silver bullet of Carbon Capture and Storage, in his speech Nasser would only go so far as to state that it is “exploring opportunities” to invest in the technology.


Muslims defend the Halal-for-money racket

Islamic organisations are now fighting back to protect a billion dollar industry that thrives on labelling Australian products as “halal certified”. Now that the extortion racket has been exposed, Aussie shoppers are shunning the “certified” products to the dismay of Australian manufacturers and processors.

An avalanche of Australian companies are now declaring their products as “non-halal certified” to protect their domestic market, and the Muslim mobsters who control the racket are incensed at their potential loss of income.

Not to be outdone, Islamic certification activists, who go by the names of Charkawi Wesam and Abu Hanifa, are fighting back, naming and shaming Australian companies who are refusing to pay (or who are avoiding paying) outrageous sums of money to be “certified” as halal.

The implication is that Australian companies must first make their products halal compliant so they can be “certified”. Those that refuse will suffer trade bans.

Arnott’s, who has been resisting threats to its export markets from Muslims, is described thus on their web site:

“Arnott's clearly states that its "non-halal" status extends to 'every product' bearing the name "Arnott's" even the non-cream biscuits and Tim Tams. The company has clearly demonstrated a reluctance to change its stance on this community issue.”

The site declares in respect of Flora products:

"Pork based gelatin is contained in Flora and Pro-activ Light, Ultra Light and Flora Pro-activ Olive spreads. Whilst there are some products 'Flora Original' that are certified 'halal' by AFIC (The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils) people need to be aware of the Pork Based ones. An investigation is continuing to determine the process and contamination factors that require compliance before halal can be granted.”

In relation to Golden Circle products the site states:

“Alcohol based flavours are used across some of the products of the Golden Circle and Original Juice Co. juice and orange ranges. Furthermore, after speaking directly to Golden Circle, it is clear that alcohol is used to derive certain flavours. The flavours are used and it is claimed that the alcohol is burnt off. However, with no oversight or some minimal monitoring in the very least, nothing can be substantiated.”

The site claims this about Smiths Chips:

“Smiths advocates a clear status of non-Halal certified, but says instead - that their products are ‘Suitable for Vegans.’ This means that some of their products do not contain any animal products. It must be noted that when it comes to food, the assumption is non-permissibility until it is proven Halal. Therefore, the onus is for Smiths to prove why they are Halal and simply claiming suitability for vegetarian without any oversight, and possible cross contamination work methods cannot be ruled out.”

“Smiths states that seeking Halal certification is on their agenda and they have been responsive to calls made.”

[Typos, grammar and misspelled words have been corrected to make the above quoted material more legible.]

It is clear that pressure is being applied to Australian processors to either comply with halal requirements or risk exports being cancelled.

One Queensland exporter has lost his entire Indonesian market by refusing to comply with Muslim certifiers’ demands.

Another NSW processor, who held out against Muslim demands for massive “certification fees”, eventually had to capitulate to save his business but was fined for not complying when asked to and made to pay loaded back-fees applicable to when he was first told to pay up.

All Australian exporters are being targeted in a world-wide $2.5 trillion extortion racket run out of Saudi Arabia with an Asian arm in Indonesia (MUI) that oversees dozens of certifying agencies here in Australia .

Certifiers make a quick phone call to Islamic importers overseas and Australian exporters who refuse to comply are told to pay up or lose their export markets.

The ABC and Fairfax (along with a certain radio station that advertises and promotes the discredited Arab Bank) naively believe “halal” is all about the inhumane slaughter of animals but if Minister Barnaby Joyce decides to return my calls, I will hand him proof of a massive extortion racket raising “certification” funds that go to terrorist organisations, laundered through "charity" front companies here in Australia.

You obviously don’t want to rock the boat Barnaby, so we will, and you better have your swimmers handy!


Freya Newman Escapes Conviction For Exposing Secret Frances Abbott Scholarship

Freya Newman, the whistleblower in the Frances Abbott secret scholarship scandal, has been given a two-year good behaviour bond and had no conviction recorded against her in the Downing Local Court this morning.

Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan read a lengthy judgment to a packed courthouse, which included more than two dozen journalists.

At the end of the judgement, she asked Freya Newman to stand.  “The offence is proved. You are discharged on the condition that you enter into a good behavior bond for two years,” Magistrate O’Sullivan said.

And with those words, the long-running saga was finally over for Ms Newman, the 21-year-old University of Technology Sydney student who blew the whistle on the $60,636 scholarship provided to the Prime Minister’s daughter by the Whitehouse Institute of Design.

Or at least it will be the end of it in 28 days, when the period for an appeal by the prosecution officially expires.

That time is likely to pass without appeal, given the lengthy and detailed judgment handed down by Magistrate O’Sullivan.

The local court judge provided substantial detail around the reasoning of her sentence, after having accepted submissions from both the prosecution and the defence that the offence of ‘accessing restricted computer data’ was at the lower end of the scale.


Pearson Test of English language proficiency ACCEPTED by the Australian government FOR VISA APPLICATIONS

Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, today announced that the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) has been approved by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) as proof of English language proficiency for a range of visa categories. The decision means that for the first time in thirteen years, visa applicants will have a choice of Government-approved English language testing options.

Emma Stubbs, Senior Vice-President of Pearson Language Testing, commented: “English language ability is important for success for any new Australian migrant, helping them to improve their employment opportunities, social integration and everyday interaction. It is critical to be able to prove this skill in a secure and objective environment using the most up-to-date testing methods and technologies.  This is what PTE Academic offers and we are delighted that people intending to work and live in Australia will now have the opportunity to choose which English test best suits them.”

The decision affects skilled, temporary graduate, work, holiday and former resident visa programmes. This impacts all visa subclasses, with the exception of subclass 457 which is currently undergoing an external review. In 2012 – 2013, around 130,000 visas were granted for permanent additions to the Australian population through this range of visa categories. The largest migrant source markets (excluding New Zealand) were India, China and the United Kingdom.

David Barnett, Managing Director of Pearson Australia & Singapore, commented: “PTE Academic operates in over 45 countries where people are looking to prove their English language ability, and has seen a rapid expansion into key source markets for Australian migration. The test’s rapid adoption has been fuelled by its superior service - convenient test locations worldwide, flexible test schedules and fast result times – typically, test-takers receive their results within five business days.”


26 November, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says that the ABC is cutting rural programs to slight the National Party


Three current articles below

ABC to cut more than 400 jobs

More than 400 people are set to lose their jobs at the ABC as the public broadcaster seeks to offset federal government funding cuts.

Managing director Mark Scott says close to 10 per cent of the ABC's ongoing workforce "face potential redundancy as we adjust our activities over coming months".

"We regard the changes as vital to securing the long-term health of the organisation but I acknowledge that is no comfort to those who will lose their positions."

The Abbott government has slashed $254 million from the ABC's budget over the next five years.  SBS has also been asked to find $53 million in savings over the same period.

Thousands of protesters held rallies against the cuts in Sydney and Melbourne at the weekend.


Turnbull slams Mark Scott over ABC cuts

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has launched a scathing attack on ABC managing director Mark Scott, accusing him of using funding cuts to drive his own agenda.

The coalition party room meeting, held earlier today in Canberra, devoted the majority of its time to criticising Mr Scott’s handling of the $254 million cut delivered to the public broadcaster last week.

Mr Turnbull, who previously had been a staunch defender of Mr Scott’s performance, said the programming cuts announced Monday had nothing to do with efficiencies and there were plenty of alternative options that would not have affected content.

Mr Scott was “using this opportunity as a cover to do things he has wanted to do for a long time,” Mr Turnbull told the party room meeting.

He also said the ABC had an “obsolete business model” and had been “a worker’s collective for quite some time”.

Other coalition MPs described the decision to cut programmes such as Radio National Bush Telegraph and close a number of regional bureaux, as a purely political move.

One MP said the ABC needed a stronger regional and rural voice on its board, a suggestion to which Mr Turnbull agreed.


ABC has flab to cut

When Louise Evans joined Radio National, the staff were like free range chickens, wandering around at will, pecking at this and that, content that laying one egg constituted a hard day's work.

By Louise Evans,  a former manager at ABC's Radio National

"Good luck trying to change anything around here, there are too many lifers."  This was the advice given to me when I started as manager at ABC's Radio National last year.  It seemed like a dream job. I love the ABC and relished the opportunity to help steer RN.

But having previously worked as a journalist, foreign correspondent, editor and managing editor at lean, efficient and editorially robust media companies including Australian Associated Press, Fairfax and News Corp for over 20 years, I was shocked by the culture, waste, duplication and lax workplace practices exercised in some pockets of Radio National. I was even more shocked by the failure of the executive to want to do anything about it.

One problem, as one insider pointed out, was the so-called lifers, a pocket of predominantly middle-aged, Anglo-Saxon staff who had never worked anywhere other than the ABC, who were impervious to change, unaccountable, untouchable and who harboured a deep sense of entitlement.

They didn't have a 9-5 mentality. They had a 10-3 mentality. They planned their work day around their afternoon yoga class. They wore thongs and shorts to work, occasionally had a snooze on the couch after lunch and popped out to Paddy's Market to buy fresh produce for dinner before going home.

They were like free-range chickens, wandering around at will, pecking at this and that, content that laying one egg constituted a hard day's work.

They knew they couldn't be sacked or officially sanctioned because there was no appetite among the executive to make waves, take on the union or make a case for any more redundancies. So the lifers just thumbed their nose at any attempt at performance management. Managers came and went, but they were there for life.

The RN budget was another shock. It was predominantly tied up in wages for 150 people. There was precious little budget to do anything new or innovative and you couldn't turn any program off, no matter how high its costs and how poor its audience share and reach.

The executive would pander to the whims of celebrity presenters because they gave the ABC "edge and credibility", yet would take for granted journalistic giants like Fran Kelly and Geraldine Doogue who present world-class programs.

While online rules the media world, trying to get some RN producers to repurpose on-air content for online was like pulling teeth. Plus the systems they were using were archaic, due to a failure to invest in efficient, integrated content-management systems that worked across divisions and on multi platforms, especially on mobile devices.

There was also blatant waste. Taxi dockets were left in unlocked drawers for the taking and elephantine leave balances had been allowed to accumulate. When programs shut down for Christmas, staff would get approval from their executive producers to hang around for a week or two "to tidy things up". One editor asked for his leave to be cut back by a week because he'd need to pop into work during the holidays to "check emails".That constituted work.

Yet attempts to tighten basic oversight of taxi use and leave, controls that are the norm in the corporate world, were frowned upon by the ABC executive and actively discouraged as "not the main game".

Programming and content generation was another shock. While other media organisations live and die by their ratings, circulation and readership figures, some ABC programmers considered ratings irrelevant. Some producers strongly resisted editorial oversight and locked in segments that lacked editorial rigour and relevance. So the weekly Media Report went to air discussing foreign press freedoms while hundreds of Australian journalists were being made redundant just down the road.

The ABC can be leaner and remain editorially strong and independent as ABC's NewsRadio proves. With less than 20 per cent of RN's total budget, NewsRadio employs brilliant broadcasters including Sandy Aloisi and Marius Benson and produces 5000 hours of robust original content each year that reaches a bigger national weekly audience than RN.

That's why these ABC budget cuts announced by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull are not just necessary but vital to the ongoing health of the corporation.

Pockets of the ABC have been allowed to get too fat, flabby, wasteful and unaccountable.

The doors have to be prised open so that the winds of change that have swept through media companies around the world can reinvigorate our ABC.

The same efficiencies and workplace practices that are the norm in corporate Australia need to be front and centre at the ABC so that it remains a strong, independent voice that is both editorially robust and reflects who we are - a culturally, geographically and socio-economically diverse nation that doesn't believe anyone is entitled to a job for life at the taxpayer's expense.


Australia: More Bureau of Meteorology shenanigans

(BOM:  "The Australian Climate Observations Reference Network – Surface Air Temperature (ACORN-SAT) dataset has been developed for monitoring climate variability and change in Australia. The dataset employs the latest analysis techniques and takes advantage of newly digitised observational data to provide a daily temperature record over the last 100 years")

The BoM ACORN SAT project has reconstructed Cobar temperature data commencing with an obviously invalid adjustment

This is the second episode in the Cobar ACORN-SAT series examining BoM adjustments to the CDO [Climate Data Online] temperature data – here I start to look at adjustments to minimum temperatures. The 1st episode looked at maximum temperatures.

A list of ACORN adjustments to Cobar data is here and you can see the first min adjustment listed is 1st Jan 1972 meaning the adjustment factor applies to all data earlier than that. You will see it is labelled as “Statistical” meaning there is no evidence for it in station diaries or admin records but it derives from computer driven comparisons sifting data differences from multiple stations as far away as Parkes and Hillston – see map. In this case of the 4th adjustment the following stations data was used.

Making the chart of Cobar annual minimum temperatures compared to ACORN-SAT my eye was caught by the adjustment starting in 2006 and affecting all earlier years which I have marked with a blue 6.

That is unlisted in the ACORN-SAT documentation and is substantial at about -0.4 degrees C. The slight mismatch between Cobar Met Office and ACORN from 2007-2013 is due to rounding differences because I have made my ACORN annuals by averaging a year of daily data which I leave as produced by Excel with multiple decimal places.

The next adjustment to look for is at 1971 where I have the blue 4, which is the 4th adjustment in the ACORN list and is listed at -0.49 degrees C. The increased departure of ACORN cooler than Met Office to about -0.9 is obvious on the chart.

Examining this adjustment in greater detail I have made a chart comparing Cobar MO and ACORN version with nearest neighbours Bourke, Wilcannia and Nyngan. The average difference between the 1971 & 1972 readings for these 3 stations is +0.2 at Cobar MO, +0.4 at Bourke PO, +0.4 at Nyngan, and -0.4 at Wilcannia, an average for the 3 Cobar neighbours of +0.13, not very different from the +0.2 that we know happened at Cobar Met Office.

But instead of leaving the higher quality Cobar Met Office readings well alone – what does the BoM decide to do with their adjustment #4? They take off 0.49° making the 1971-1972 difference now 0.7 – greater by 0.3 than any of the neighbours. Presumably the BoM justify this by their computer driven comparisons with sites as distant as Parkes.

If the reasons for an adjustment can not be seen in nearest neighbours then it must be an exercise in fantasy to search for a reason in a cherry picked array of more distant stations which are all of poorer quality than Cobar Met Office.

It is interesting to check the differences in annual minimums between Cobar Met Office and Cobar Airport which are only about 7 or 8 km apart. You might expect them to be very similar and in lockstep – not so from the chart.

Note the BoM never refer to Cobar Airport data in ACORN-SAT – but we are free to check it out.

First there is no evidence here of a step or jump around 2006 – 2007.

While there are such wildly varying and apparently random differences between these two very adjacent sites – what on earth can the BoM learn by comparing Cobar with Parkes – or indeed any other station in their adjustments list.

These are the sort of unsafe foundations that pro-IPCC climate science is based on.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Coalition to act on watchdog’s behaviour over asylum inquiry

THE Abbott government has “great concerns” about the behaviour of Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs and will “take the matter forward”, ­according to Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg.

And Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the HRC’s ­inquiry into children in detention “risks being a complete waste of taxpayers’ money” in the wake of controversy over how it was ­established.

Appearing before the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee last week, Professor Triggs revealed she had decided to hold the inquiry early last year, but delayed it because of what she claimed was the possibility of an early election.

After initially denying she ­discussed it with the then Labor government, she admitted under questioning that she had raised it separately with two Labor immigration ministers.

Speaking on Sky News’s Viewpoint, Mr Frydenberg said “what deeply concerns” the government about the president’s evidence was the “revelation that there were political considerations taken into account” before Professor Triggs decided to delay the inquiry.

“Those revelations — one, that there were political considerations about delaying the inquiry and, two, that there is now revelations that she had spoken to two senior Labor ministers — are also of great concern to the government.”

Referring to “contradictions in the evidence”, Mr Frydenberg also said: “It is going to be up to (Attorney-General) George Brandis to take this matter forward, but there are many questions that need to be answered.”

Speaking on 2GB radio, Mr Morrison said the HRC “did nothing” while boats were arriving under Labor and that as a result the inquiry was a “wasted opportunity”. But he would not be drawn on Professor Triggs’s future.

“She is appointed by the ­Attorney-General and there are some pretty strict conditions which apply to someone departing their role in such a position and it involves serious misconduct issues and things like that. That is really a matter for the Attorney-General.”

Professor Triggs is less than halfway through a five-year term.

The two former Labor immigration ministers Professor Triggs said she briefed have declined to reveal what was said. Chris Bowen said the HRC typically updated him on its activities, but he did not confirm or deny the inquiry into children in detention was raised.

Tony Burke said he sought a meeting with Professor Triggs “principally for the purpose of ­discussing my plans to prioritise the removal of unaccompanied ­minors from detention” and to provide and receive updates on ­activities.


Looming poll will shed light on what voters think of leaders with thuggish mates

The possibility that Labor might win next weekend's Victorian election is more worrisome than usual. There are two aspects which could set an unhealthy precedent for Victoria and maybe later for NSW Labor – which has a former union boss as its leader who will be contesting next year's NSW election.

The first is the CFMEU's control over Victorian Labor and its record of intimidation, thuggery and links to unsavoury individuals. With Labor using its numbers in the Senate to protect the unions and the CFMEU running Victoria, no one should be in any doubt that union militancy could be difficult to handle. We have had this problem before in the 1970s and 1980s when militant union behaviour was a major concern of key trading partners like the Japanese and Koreans.

The second is the declared policy of Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews to tear up large infrastructure contracts. A government decision to refuse to honour legally enforceable contracts is clearly a case of sovereign risk.

Regardless of the fact that polls suggest Labor is just ahead I still find it hard to believe that the Victorian Coalition will lose. The idea that Labor is going to win seems contrary to common sense. Then again, I never thought that Jeff Kennett was going to lose either back in 1999.

Premier Denis Napthine is a good man: the polls show he is well liked by the electorate; he has been a solid and dedicated Premier. There have been no real scandals despite the determination of many in the media to find some; he has sensibly managed the State's finances and wisely promoted Michael O'Brien as Treasurer; his infrastructure proposals will be good for Victoria and his key Ministers are streets ahead of Labor's union hacks.

In contrast, it's hard to see what Labor offers and its record when last in office was poor. Victorian taxpayers will be paying for Labor's mothballed desalination plant for decades, Labor's main policy seems to be 50 railway crossings to improve traffic and Andrews is the most left wing leader Labor has ever put up in Victoria. Andrews was anointed by the hard line CFMEU and he now turns a blind eye to the ongoing thuggery and intimidation which is the well-known trade mark of his CFMEU sponsors. The CFMEU is an embarrassment to Andrews but he can't do anything about it. And CFMEU supporters are becoming more brazen than ever; so much so that only a few days ago, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported that "Underworld figure Mick Gatto has told Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews not to break links with controversial CFMEU John Setka". When a political figure is getting advice from people like Gatto it's obvious Labor has a big problem with its choice of mates.

Andrews has said that a CFMEU member will be the new Planning, Major Projects and Infrastructure Minister. Mr Andrews sees no conflict of interest in his Minister's close association with the CFMEU despite the fact that the CFMEU is inextricably involved in his portfolio. Or maybe he has been told to turn a blind eye. Or maybe he is too weak to stand up to the CFMEU. Either way his position is scandalous.

In addition, Labor has publicly confirmed that it will break existing contracts for the East West road project despite the fact that the proposal has strong public support (around 60 per cent in recent polls). The combination of CFMEU cabinet influence and a diminution of Victoria's reputation on sovereign risk will be a blow to Victoria.

The third risk of a Labor government is that it would be a big spender as were the recent Labor governments of Steve Bracks and John Brumby. The facts speak for themselves, as reported by the Menzies Research Centre using ABS and other publicly available data.

Under Bracks and Brumby, the number of public sector employees grew by 52.4 per cent compared to the population increase of 16.7 per cent. By comparison, Labor governments in NSW from Carr to Keneally increased the public sector by 25.69 per cent.

Over the same Labor period, the average annual increases in wages were 7.7 per cent for Victoria and 6.2 per cent for NSW under Labor. By comparison, wage growth with Coalition governments was 3.3 per cent under Greiner, Kennett wages expenditure actually fell by 1.7 per cent and the John Howard increase was a mere 0.6 per cent.

And if you thought that the extra public sector workers were there to boost front line services, you would be wrong. From 2001 to 2007, when Labor was running nearly all the state governments, the ABS classification of "government administration" increased by 8.5 per cent compared to education (2.5 per cent) and 2.3 per cent for health and community services.

Victorian Labor has become too close to the CFMEU and tearing up contracts cannot be acceptable for either Liberal or Labor voters in NSW or Victoria. If Victorian Labor loses, on these two issues particularly, they will deserve what they get.


Australian Wind Industry in a Tailspin as Senate Sets Up Inquiry Into the Great Wind Power Fraud & Cross-Benchers Lay Out Plans for the LRET

(LRET = Large-scale Renewable Energy Target)

STT recently covered a motion proposed by cross-bench Senators Leyonhjelm, Madigan, Day, Xenophon; with the support of the Coalition, through their Deputy Government Whip in the Senate, STT Champion, WA Senator, Chris Back to establish a wide-ranging inquiry into the wind industry in Australia. It gives us much pleasure to report that the Senate voted to establish the inquiry, as moved by David Leyonhjelm on Monday.

Sure, it was a close-run thing, but many a grand final has been won by a single kick.

Predictably, the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers have gone into a tailspin – wailing about the dreaded malady of “uncertainty” – of the kind that everyone else gets to face on a daily basis in every aspect of life and business – but from which the wind industry must be protected at all times.

But the Senate inquiry is just the beginning of the wind industry’s many woes.


25 November, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is amused by the Leftist rage over cutbacks to the ABC

Australian astronomer, Michael Brown,  says science is not about debate, people are too stupid to judge

Michael Brown, recipient of taxpayer funds for astronomy, tells us that science is not about debate because people are not smart enough to judge the winner. He doesn’t list any evidence to support his faith in climate models (he’s just part of the herd following the consensus pack). Nor does he have any serious scientific criticism of the NIPCC climate report. But he uses plenty of names, baseless allusion, and innuendo. In the article ”Adversaries, zombies and NIPCC climate pseudoscience” in The Conversation he resorts to a group smear (with the help of the taxpayer funded site) in the hope that people won’t listen to those who disagree with him. Apparently he can’t win a fair and open debate, so he’s doing what he can to stop one.

If science now has “Gods” who are above question, it’s not science, it’s a religion. A scientist who says “I’m right because I’m a scientist” is neither right nor much of a scientist. Brown is acting like a self-appointed High-Priest of the Climate Doctrine.

The NIPCC report is more balanced, more comprehensive, and more accurate than the politically-guided tome from the IPCC . It contains hundreds of peer reviewed references put together by independent scientists. In his reply to it, Michael Brown tells us all we need to know about the intellectual state of Australian science, and the value of The Conversation.

This is the face of the Church of Global Warming.

How low can Brown go?  How about “zombies”, “aliens”,  and “pseudoscience”? As an unskeptical scientist (and we all know what that means), it appears Brown hopes to win through name-calling and “seeding doubt” about the motivations of people he disagrees with. Skeptical scientists are “skeptics” (always in quotes to imply they’re fakes) who are “bankrolled” (he’s blind to the evidence about the financial truth too).

For evidence Brown cites a consensus study that mixes up 0.3% with 97%. He likes the IPCC political-consensus approach. This is post-modern science (or post-science, science) forget radiosondes, just poll government appointees.

All the other evidence Brown lists is superficial and irrelevant. He claims: “there is remarkably good agreement between models of climate change and the temperature data.” Then offers as evidence the utterly banal and correct predictions of the “last 50 years” while ignoring the devastating failure in the predictions of the last 20 years that matter.

Modern science is broken — Astronomy in Australia is a small community and  illogical, unscientific people have already been promoted to influential positions. I could ask where the decent astronomers are, and why aren’t they protesting, but because Brown’s activism is so strong, so unscientific, and unequivocal, I expect those who disagree with him would choose to stay silent.  They wouldn’t know whether their next grant will be reviewed by him, but they know that if it is, and they are a vocal skeptic, it won’t help them. After a rant like this, why would anyone expect equal treatment?

This Heisenberg-like state of uncertainty (will or will he not be a reviewer for my application/proposal/paper? and will or will he not be biased if he thinks I am a zombie/denier/anti-science?) is enough to bring people in line. Welcome to the stifling blanket of self censorship.

Ode to the stupid: According to Brown, those who question the mantra of the IPCC are not just speaking their mind, they are using a pseudoscience “ploy” to fool the people (who are too dumb to realize).  These evil mercenary skeptics want you to think we need to debate complex, costly plans that are dependent on our knowledge of the weather. (Imagine that!) Luckily for us, Brown is here to correct the dumb engineers, doctors, and lawyers who are unconvinced a solar panel in Melbourne will help stop a flood in Bangladesh.

The call for adversarial debate is a variant of the debate ploy, a common pseudoscience tactic. At first glance having two teams present competing positions seems entirely reasonable, but this approach only works if the intended audience can effectively assess the arguments presented.

Who is the pseudoscientist using a ploy to fool the public? The geologist who tells us that this warming is not unusual, or the man who has no evidence, and a profoundly unscientific and patronizing belief that only the anointed can speak their mind?

How’s this for reasoning: According to Brown, adversarial debate failed once with Einstein’s theory of relativity (the audience were not able to get the right answer in 1920 on one of the most difficult and ground breaking scientific advances in centuries). Cue the High-Priest, therefore and verily says he, adversarial debate is always a waste of time and science can only advance if the populace lets politicians annoint Gods in each subject (and everyone bows to them).

No dissent will be tolerated, or we will call you a “zombie”!

Brown manages a few paragraphs of sciencey looking talk, but the papers he supposedly debunks are irrelevant to all the main NIPCC claims. The papers he cites as supporting him don’t have any evidence that the IPCC assumptions were correct.

Zombie Science: The Zombie in the room here is the dead science being revived endlessly by Brown and the IPCC, despite the evidence that climate models are based on flawed assumptions, which we know from 28 million weather balloons, 3000 ARGO buoys, 800,000 years  of ice cores, and 30 years of satellites.

Unlike Climate Gods, real scientists list real evidence. When theory clashes with data, the real scientists discard the theory.

Unlike government funded propaganda sites, we unfunded bloggers would never publish such a religious rant and call it “science”. We have standards.

We taxpayers want our money back. Let The Conversation compete in the free market.

Monash University may want to teach its scientists what science is and how to reason. Do Monash approve of this anti-science behaviour? Is this what they teach the students? Can someone ask the Dean?

If Monash don’t have good answers, the questions ought go to the Minister for Education. Why are tax dollars supporting university “science” which is so unscientific?

Send your questions to The Dean of Science at Monash, and or to The Minister for Education, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, which not only funds Monash, but through Monash and other universities, The Conversation.

The ARC needs to start funding real scientists and stop funding religious activists.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Time to Govern Right, Mr Abbott

By James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland.

A few suggestions that will better your chance of re-election: Drop that Labor-lite approach to attacking the deficit, stop funding your enemies and, on a related note, strip Malcolm Turnbull of responsibility for the ABC and let Scott Morrison muck out the national broadcaster's billion-dollar stable

abbott w bookAt some point the Coalition needs to realise that Labor will agree to nothing that it doesn't already want to put in place.  "Compromise" for them will amount to allowing through what they would otherwise want, and nothing more.  So, to deal with our ballooning deficit, Labor will always agree to more taxes.  In fact it's a bonus for them, as the Coalition will take the blame.

My take on this is summed up in the old saw:  `When you're helping to dig your own grave, the best thing to do is stop digging.'   That means that no matter what the short-term consequences, Mr. Abbott and the Coalition need to stop with the tax increases.  No matter what.  I'm sick of them, and I'm pretty sure most readers of this site are sick of them.  And those tax hikes won't do anything more than fiddle at the margins of our blowing-out debt and expanding deficit.

The Coalition ought to keep making the case for spending cuts.  Again, and again, and again.  If they can't get those cuts through the Senate, well, the deficit will go up.  And it will keep going up until the next election.  Meantime, you bring all the resources of government to bear on educating the public.

Likewise, while you're doing that you also stop pretending that you're a Labor-lite government finding Mickey Mouse ways to increase taxes.  And you ditch any new massive spending commitments.  That is my very kind and nice way of saying `Get rid of the idiotic and incredibly expensive Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Scheme. For Labor, the PPL is the gift that keeps on giving. Labor has absolutely no ideas on how to cut spending.  So their only halfway-plausible reply is, `We will get rid of the PPL when we win the election.'

And I believe they will.  So does everyone.  This policy is one that will cost huge political capital to get through and then will go as soon as Labor's next win.  Worse, my guess is that most Coalition voters - and all of those worried about our fiscal position as a country - want it ditched.  Now.

The other thing that this Coalition government might usefully do is to start taking on its critics.  By that I mean the groups whom they fund to attack them constantly.  The ABC most obviously springs to mind.   Mr. Turnbull has to go as the minister in charge of this billion-dollar-a-year vessel, a hopelessly port-canted ship whose crew looks uncannily like the Green Party at prayer - if you count Gaia-worshipping, carbon-tax genuflecting, hard-left dissembling as praying.

Here's what I think would gain Mr. Abbott a lot of credit from Coalition voters who are, thus far into his term, somewhat disappointed at the way his right-of-centre instincts have been muted since coming to power: the Prime Minister should transfer the ABC to the ministerial portfolio of Scott Morrison.  Take it away from a favoured Q&A guest and give it to someone who recognises problems and doesn't shy from solving them.

Were he to do that, I am betting ABC Managing Director Mark Scott would find the gumption to hire at least one right-of-centre person (host or producer) for at least one of the broadcaster's big-ticket current affairs shows.

Why?  In my view it's about psychology and in that sense a parallel with stopping the boats.  If you believe someone is committed to stopping you, and will do what it takes to change your behaviour, you submit.  That's why the boats have stopped and why I don't think any future Labor government will be able to mimic that success.

The same goes for the ABC. No one in that organisation has any real belief that Malcolm Turnbull will try to make them live up their statutory obligation to be impartial.  But bring in Mr. Morrison and the perception would change overnight.

On the other hand, Mr. Abbott can continue to travel the same road as Britain's David Cameron, alienating   his core supporters with every latest step in the wrong direction.  It's not working out at all well for Mr. Cameron.  So, Tony, please stop digging.


Australia's 'most corrupt politician' is finally charged

One of the most corrupt politicians in Australian history - former state minister Eddie Obeid, known as "he who must be obeyed" - will finally be prosecuted after an inquiry found he lobbied colleagues over leases for restaurants without revealing that his family owned them.

Mr Obeid and fellow minister Ian Macdonald, who has also been charged, practiced corruption in the state of New South Wales that was "on a scale probably unexceeded since the days of the Rum Corps [a colonial-era corps that had a monopoly on the liquor trade]", a corruption inquiry heard in 2012.

Mr Macdonald, known as "Sir Lunchalot", has been charged over the granting of a lucrative mining licence but may face further charges after receiving the services of a prostitute as apparent payment for assisting a property developer. The prostitute, named Tiffanie, told the inquiry the encounter was so repulsive she wanted to vomit.

Mr Obeid has previously dared prosecutors to charge him and appeared defiant outside his sandstone mansion in Sydney. Branded "The Godfather" by the media, he has insisted he is the victim of a political witch-hunt. "I'm innocent in every instance," he said.

"I have no concern whatsoever that in a court of law we'll be able to fight the evidence, and I'm very confident."

Mr Obeid, 71, a long-serving Labor MP in the New South Wales state government, was born in Lebanon and worked in Sydney as a taxi driver before taking control of a local Arabic newspaper. He served as an MP from 1991 to 2011, while he and his family built up a sizable portfolio of businesses and properties. During his time in parliament, he became a factional kingpin and exercised influence over numerous MPs and ministers, who relied on him for their positions.

"[He] treated the state as his personal fiefdom," historian Ross Fitzgerald wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald in August.

Mr Obeid's influence is said to extend to his small hometown of Matrite in north Lebanon, where he reportedly owns a $US1 million palace.

A corruption inquiry in June found that Mr Obeid "misused his position as an MP" and sought to lobby other MPs and public servants for favourable decisions affecting his family's restaurant leases in Circular Quay, a popular harbour-side tourist district. He could still face charges over other corrupt dealings investigated by the inquiry.

Mr Obeid said the corruption inquiries were "nothing but sham inquiries".



Springborg announces Queensland Health reform that guarantees timely surgery

LAWRENCE Springborg will today unveil an Australia-first reform to Queensland’s health system, guaranteeing every patient receives their surgery within the recommended time.

Patients will be sent to an alternative public hospital or to the private system if their local health service cannot treat them on time, under the Queensland health minister’s new plan.

The Patient Guarantee, which mirrors health systems in Scandinavia, where Mr Springborg recently visited, comes after the number of “long wait” patients – those waiting for surgery beyond recommended times – plummeted in Queensland from 6500 to 533 in the latest official figures.

The opening of new hospitals with greater capacity, an influx of federal funds, and major system redesigns instigated by the Newman Government combined to reduce the long wait list.

Mr Springborg told The Sunday Mail the long wait list was likely to be eliminated by the end of the year, opening the way for patients to be guaranteed their surgery on time.

“By the end of this year, we will have virtually zero, so we will have recalibrated the system,’’ he said. “The obligation then is for [health and hospital boards] to ensure they give every single patient their surgery on time.

“If they don’t, the obligation is for them to arrange that surgery so the patient has it on time at another public or private hospital.”

It will mean category one cases, in which specialists deem a patient’s condition to be at risk of worsening or becoming an emergency, will receive surgery within 30 days.

Category two cases, where the patient experiences pain or disability but it is unlikely to become an emergency, will receive surgery within 90 days, as recommended under nationally recognised treatment times.

Non-urgent category three patients, where the pain is minimal, will be operated on within a year.

Mr Springborg said there would be cases in which patients did not receive surgery within the recommended times, when specialists deemed that there were mitigating medical reasons for an operation not proceeding.

“The only exceptions will be those people who are not ready for care – and there are a small number of those – or you have a specialty where there is not enough capacity in the system to do it on time,’’ he said.

The Patient Guarantee is expected to be “cost neutral”, with the 16 health and hospital service areas to pay for patients sent elsewhere – including to the private sector – from existing budgets.


Cory Bernardi's newsletter

The political landscape is changing rapidly as a deep disillusionment with major political parties settles over the populace. It is a global phenomenon with the most recent incarnation being the rise of the Spanish Podemos political party.

Their name translates as ‘we can’ and according to Spanish opinion polls it is now the most popular party in Spain with 28 per cent of the vote. This is a remarkable turn of events for a political party that was only registered in March of this year.

I have no sense of whether Podemos is oriented to the left or right of Spanish politics but I do know they are regarded as a protest party that is tapping in to the well of discontent with politics as usual.

This discontent is a global phenomenon which is manifesting itself through the rise of political parties but also civil unrest in many regions around the world. We’ve seen a bit of it here in Australia, too.

At the last election, almost one third of all Senate votes went to minor parties. From a standing start and with a big marketing bankroll, the Palmer United Party grabbed three Senate seats. Although the fabric of unity has unravelled from PUP, their political descent doesn’t mask the public’s desire for change.

Right now, that desire is morphing into support for the parliamentary ‘independents’ who comprise the bulk of the Senate cross bench. Rightly or wrongly, they are seen to be free of what some may describe as ‘institutional bias’ attributed to the major parties.

I suspect this is set to continue and ultimately will see the rise of a new political movement that seeks to rebuild the faith of the people in politics.

Earlier this year, I spoke of the need for reform in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra. I put forward some ideas that would assist in restoring faith in our parliamentary processes. In summary I suggested:

"restoring the Senate to its role as a defender of Federalism,

reform of the political donations and disclosure regimes,

a national spending database that documents all levels of government expenditure over a threshold limit,

increased transparency of politicians’ expenses and the removal of all post-parliamentary entitlements for politicians, and

the establishment of a system whereby citizen-initiated petitions could be submitted and debated in the parliament.

Frankly, I now see the need for reform as more important than ever. Across the globe, politicians of all stripes have resisted the need for change and in many instances are now learning if they won’t change, the people will change them.

That’s what Podemos and their ilk are all about. For those who insist ‘it can’t happen here’, they need to be reminded that the process appears to have already begun. The makeup of the Senate is all the evidence you need.

Via email

24 November, 2014

Why left feminists don't like kids

"Biffo" (Former ALP leader Mark Latham) has a go below. There have been shrieks of protest from feminists over this article  but I think he is pretty right.  I am impressed by and agree with his child-orientation --  and his past as a Leftist leader should earn his words serious consideration among Leftists.  He is a perpetually angry man but I think that, at the end of the day, he does have a heart.  I think he is a man I would like to meet.  I am sure his wife never has a dull moment with Mark around

I love a social experiment, so last Saturday, I broke the habit of a lifetime and read the agony-aunt pages of The Sydney Morning Herald. I should have done so years ago, as an exercise in political awareness.

It nearly knocked me off my chair, as I confronted the core arguments of left-feminism. The inner-Sydney writer Lisa Pryor said the only way in which she can cope with "raising two small children while studying medicine full-time" is through "caffeine and anti-depressants".

Apparently, this is her standard answer whenever anyone asks: "How do you do it all?"

I felt depressed myself, at the thought of a Fairfax columnist describing one of life's great responsibilities, the raising of infant children, as requiring "neurochemical assistance".

Why do people like this have children in the first place? How will the children feel when they grow up and learn that they pushed their mother onto anti-depressants?

The sadness of these circumstances is aggravated by a broader political point. A major part of left feminist campaigning has involved the demonisation of children.

You know the refrain: men have rigged the rules of society by dominating the workforce, while women are left with the agony of domestic duties, the nightmare of raising kids.

Women in western Sydney with no neuroses

It's widely assumed that home-based life is pathetically menial. So much so, in Pryor's case, that only a cocktail of little red pills and caffeine-overload can ease the burden.

Yet, in truth, this is a political hoax. Women I speak to in western Sydney, who have no neuroses or ideological agenda to push, regard child-rearing as a joy. Financially, if they can avoid work, that's their preference.

Home life gives them the freedom to pursue their recreational interests and bond with the most important people in their lives, their children.

Other than for money, why would anyone want to commute and toil long hours for businesspeople?

With only 2 per cent of Australian men serving as the primary carers of their children, the left-feminist orthodoxy has been allowed to dominate the political debate. Men have been sucked into thinking that work life is inherently superior to a life raising children. From a male perspective, alternative views have not been aired.

So let me explain another experiment. What happens when an opposition leader quits politics, decides that he hates the prospect of working for other people and becomes the primary carer of his three children?

In my case, the results, for nearly a decade now, have been splendid. Sure, there's the odd hiccup and flash of frustration in full-on parenting, but the rewards are immense.

Left feminism is akin to a psychoneurotic disorder

My lifestyle has never been more satisfying. Whether it's my daughter's smile, my eldest son's Aussie irreverence or the belly laughter of my youngest son - these are my anti-depressants, every hour, every day. What is Pryor going on about?

I'm sure I'm just as busy as her: looking after a huge native garden at home, cooking gourmet meals for my family, pursuing a few business interests, writing books and The Australian Financial Review columns and, most crucially, preserving time for my children's homework, conversation and love. When I explain this reality to my male friends, they are incredibly envious. Each of them wants to swap places.

But the inner-city feminists know little of this. They spend a lot of time complaining, ostensibly on behalf of other women, yet their real priority is themselves. More often than not, they don't like children and don't want to be with them. They use political feminism as a release valve, trying to free themselves from nature's way.

Thus left feminism is akin to a psychoneurotic disorder: externalising personal feelings of distress and deficiency into the demonisation of children.

This is why people in the suburbs, especially women, distrust the likes of Pryor. Their political agenda is seen as unrepresentative and self-serving. At a personal level, it's also cowardly: popping pills as an easy way out, instead of facing up to the responsibilities of adulthood.


Vic Labor to review homosexual adoption

SAME sex adoption could be on the cards if Labor wins next Saturday's Victorian state election.

OPPOSITION leader Daniel Andrews says legislation that unfairly discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Victorians will be identified and changed under a proposal to put equality at the heart of the government's agenda.

Adoption laws will be reviewed with a view to allowing same sex adoption, while laws that facilitate employers to discriminate based on sexuality will also be amended, Mr Andrews said.

"When one person faces discrimination, it lessens us all," he said. "This is a problem we must face together.

"I'll never tolerate homophobia in my party room and I'll never water down our laws to allow discrimination."

Mr Andrews said a dedicated cabinet role would be introduced as well as a government ministerial advisory committee.

"Equality will be back on the agenda under Labor, so Victoria can be prouder, fairer and safer," Mr Andrews said.


Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens asks if it's too hard to hire and fire workers

BUSINESS groups have backed suggestions by Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens that it is too hard to sack workers.

But the Coalition Government, still smarting over the backlash to John Howard's Work Choices laws, refused to be drawn into the issue.

In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia this week, Mr Stevens admitted his comments might get him into trouble.  "I think these questions are increasingly being asked and it's about whether our overall business environment is conducive enough to risk taking and innovation," he said.

"Whether we are doing enough to develop the relevant competencies and capabilities for the modern world.

"The question might include ones like, how easy is it to start a business if the business fails, as many do, particularly small ones? Is it easier enough to try again?

"How easy it is to hire employees, and I know I'll get in trouble for saying this, but how easy it is also to let the employees go if those don't work?  " Because if it's too hard to let them go then it's too hard to hire them to begin with," Mr Stevens said.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland spokesman Nick Behrens said the Reserve Bank Governor had hit the nail on the head.

"Queensland employers are actively steering clear of employing individuals because of the difficulty in terminating employment," he said.  "In short the Fair Work Act is now holding back employment because businesses are just not prepared to take the risk of hiring someone who turns out to be wrong person for that organisation.

"Some businesses are also citing that if they are uncertain about a person and it's a lineball decision then they will use the end of probation period to separate ways.

"That is because it is so difficult to get rid of an employee after their end of probation duration they err on the side of caution and do not proceed with the employee. It's just not worth the risk.

"If you have the likes of Glenn Stevens now weighing in to the debate on workplace relations, a person who never comments publicly on these types of issues, we know that we have serious problem on our hands."

The Government refused to comment yesterday.  But Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor leapt on the comments, trying to tie the message to the Coalition's deeply unpopular WorkChoices campaign, launched about eight years ago.

"Before the election, Tony Abbott promised he wouldn't touch workers' conditions.  "Instead, we have seen this Government returning to the dark days of WorkChoices with its plans to attack penalty rates, wages and workplace safety.  "The Abbott Government would like to see a rise in precarious employment, Labor does not."

The Productivity Commission is reviewing workplace laws - including penalty rates and unfair dismissal - but pledged any changes would be introduced in its second term.


Human Rights Commission chief Gillian Triggs drowning in her own evidence

Lying old bag covered up for the Labor Party on boat arrivals before the Federal election

THE future of Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs is under a cloud after a disastrous appearance before a Senate committee, during which she contradicted her evidence about the political considerations of delaying an inquiry into children in detention. Under questioning, Professor Triggs revealed she had decided an inquiry was necessary early last year but did not act until after the federal election because she feared it would be "highly -politicised" and "very destructive".

And after denying she raised the matter with Labor before the election, she later admitted discussing it with two former immigration ministers, Chris Bowen and Tony Burke. It is understood the Abbott government and the minister who oversees the -commission, Attorney-General George Brandis, have lost faith in Professor Triggs.

Her position appears untenable. She is less than halfway through a five-year term and under the commission's act can only be dismissed for "mis-behaviour" or serious breaches of standards.

She has promised to release a "detailed chronology of events". The "facts and evidence will speak for themselves," she said in a statement.

In February, the commission came under fire from the government for announcing an -inquiry into children in detention four months after the election of the Coalition - and after people-smuggling boats had started to abate.

More than 800 boats, 50,000 asylum-seekers and 8000 children had arrived in the six years under Labor. The commission had previously investigated the issue in 2001 - under the Howard government.

When questioned about the new inquiry's timing, during the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, Professor Triggs's explanation was exposed as changeable and contradictory.

Professor Triggs claimed that after her -appointment in mid-2012 she -focused on the issue of children in detention and, as the arrivals continued, had decided to hold a fresh inquiry by February last year.

But she didn't - and she has now justified that delay with electoral considerations. "The fact that an election was imminent had been announced by the prime minister in I think about March," she said, "so we knew it was going to be very soon, and of course we didn't know exactly when."

Yet in an unusual step, on January 30 last year, then prime minister Julia Gillard had announced the election date for September 14 - so at the time there was no speculation.

Professor Triggs told the hearing it would have been "very destructive" to hold the inquiry in the middle of the election year. "Well, it would have been very destructive to the then government," interjected Liberal senator Ian Macdonald

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has challenged Professor Triggs's justification.

"For a position which is supposed to be free of political influence," he said, "it was puzzling to see Professor Triggs justify not holding an inquiry in mid-2013 as `we were moving into an election -period', yet described this issue as having caused `serious concerns' in December 2012, well before any election was called."

Further committee exchanges about her consultation with both the Labor government and the incoming Coalition government were also revealing.

Liberal senator Barry O'Sullivan pressed her on whether she briefed Labor about her intentions for an inquiry. "I certainly did not discuss that as far as I recall with the minister," she said.  But as questioning continued her answers changed to "I don't recall" and then that her "discussions with the minister are private".

Then, under sustained interrogation, she revealed she had in fact spoken to two Labor immigration ministers.  "I have discussed the possibility of an inquiry with minister Chris Bowen and with minister (Tony) Burke," she revealed.

Professor Triggs initially said the discussion with Mr Burke had occurred during the election caretaker period but later retracted. After the election Professor Triggs did not raise the matter in discussions with the Coalition or mention it in a letter outlining her agenda. The government was informed of the inquiry four months later via a letter from Professor Triggs.

"Australians will form their own judgment about just how fair Professor Triggs has been," Mr Morrison said.


23 November, 2014

A Greenie edition of this blog.  5 Green-relevant articles below

Good news: Leftist newspaper says the Australian government's climate change credentials have been battered

And see below that it includes some surprising claims, such as:  "The size of the Reef has halved in the past 30 years".  I have been following the barrier reef scares for around 60 years (long before global warming was invented) but that was a newie on me.

But I have traced the claim, and one amusing thing that we read there is:  "The exhaustive AIMS investigation reveals coral loss is uneven along the 2300km-long reef, with the far north still relatively healthy." So the WARMEST parts of the reef are doing best! How pesky can you get?

And what the research showed is NOT that the reef has shrunk by 50% but that the CORAL has shrunk by 50%.  The reef is of course an ancient and relatively permanent structure of dead coral skeletons.

 We also read:  "Storm damage accounted for 48 per cent of the coral loss in the past 27 years, crown-of-thorns starfish were responsible for 42 per cent, and bleaching caused 10 per cent of the coral to die".  No mention of global warming! Though no doubt they would claim that the storms were caused by global warming.  Since severe weather events worldwide  have been FEWER in recent years that however would be a rubbish claim, having no regard to the actual statistics.

Warmists have also been known to link starfish plagues with warming but again we read: "The study says the causes of the plagues were still not fully known".

And I won't mention that the period covered by the research was 27 years, not 30.

And I won't mention that the source paper for the research is no longer where it was.  Has it been taken down due to inaccuracy?

I could go on but the lesson is clear: As soon as we get into the details of the research findings, the sweeping claims made of the research by Warmists are extensively falsified.  So the appeals to authority below are junk.  It is the facts that matter, not authorities, and the facts are very pesky indeed for Warmists.

My habit of going back to the detailed research findings behind Green/Left claims once again shows what crooks and crazies they are

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's apparent, if modest, conversion to the idea that climate change was an "important subject"  following talks with French president Francois Hollande on Wednesday was greeted with no small measure of cynicism.

This was, after all, a politician who had built a political career on climate scepticism, with his famous remark in 2010 that it was "absolute crap" to assert the science was settled.

It took only two days, but the doubters can claim vindication after revelations that the government sent a briefing note to Barack Obama to dissuade him that the Great Barrier Reef was under threat by climate change.

In an interview with Fairfax Media's Latika Bourke in New York, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said the Reef was "not under threat from climate change because its biggest threat is the nutrient runoffs agricultural land, the second biggest threat is natural disasters, but this has been for 200 years".

This is disingenuous, and factually wrong.

To be sure, the government believes the world is warming, and that human factors play a part.

But when it comes to acknowledging the urgency of the problem, how climate change will impact on the world, and what must be done to avert a catastrophic four-degree rise in global temperature, the Abbott government offers obfuscation and excuses.

So it was with the response to Obama's speech in Brisbane last week, when the US leader called on Australia's youth to rise up and demand more action to combat climate change, remarking that "incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened".

The US leader's speech might have been undiplomatic and rude to his hosts - but his analysis of the impact of climate change on the Reef was spot on.

Just ask the federal government agencies charged with monitoring and protecting the Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in its 2014: "Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef. It is already affecting the reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come."

Averting further degradation of the Reef can "only be successful if climatic conditions are stabilised" reported the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), another government body.

The size of the Reef has halved in the past 30 years. Outbreaks of crown of thorn starfish which consume soft corals -  along with cyclones -  have contributed to about 90 per cent of that decline, says AIMS.

Coral bleaching is responsible for the remaining 10 per cent.

Coral bleaching is the direct result of rising sea temperatures caused by global warming. The acceleration of crown of thorn starfish infestations - which spawn in warmer months - is also driven, at least in part, by hotter weather.

And, warns the government's marine scientists, cyclone activity will only increase as the planet heats up.   

Bishop's personal political stocks have soared in recent months due to some forceful international diplomacy on the MH17 disaster and the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Her intervention on the Reef is unlikely to faze Obama, or harm relations. But some of the gloss has come of Bishop's credentials as a moderate alternative to Abbott.

And, the government's climate change credentials, once again, have been battered. 


US President Barack Obama should look at his own environmental record before lecturing Australia

Those who live in glass houses ....

BARACK Obama won an Olympic gold medal for schmoozing in Brisbane last weekend.

Along the way, the US president exposed the opponents of coal seam gas in Queensland as utter hypocrites.

With China, the US is of course the worst polluter on the planet.

Yet the shale boom sweeping across America is unlocking oceans of underground gas, a cleaner energy gradually replacing coal in US power stations.

Obama knows gas is good. Gas drives his emissions reduction pact with China.

However, the Greenies who swooned over Obama for his environmental crusade are the same snarling, left-of-centre bigots backing sinister groups like Lock the Gate in attempting to sabotage the fledgling gas industry here.

In a week dominated by news about the $7 billion Adani coal deal the importance of gas to our state cannot be overstated.

Gas royalties will deliver rivers of gold to the Queensland treasury as it fights to restore the AAA credit rating trashed by the previous government.

A significant milestone looms. And it may change everything. In three weeks the first ever shipment of liquid natural gas sourced entirely from coal seam gas will be shipped to Asia by QGC. It's not just a Queensland first, it's a world first.

And, surprise, surprise, the gas drawn from beneath our cattle pastures may end up in China.  It will be traded on the open market in Asia so the destination remains unclear.

Following Obama's visit the irony that the Queensland gas is destined for China has not been lost on certain Queensland Cabinet ministers.

While the President discourteously attacked his host's environmental credentials, our gas will eventually assist cutting emissions globally.

Australia's gas exports are set to increase from about 20 billion cubic metres in 2012 to 114 billion cubic metres by 2040 as global demand is forecast to grow more than any other fuel source. So says the International Energy Agency.

And while many newspaper columnists were gushing about Obama's speech and his green advice to Tony Abbott, they neglected to report America's own disgusting record on carbon dioxide.

Why reporters ignored this part of the story is a bit of a mystery to me.  Suffice to say that the media craves celebrity and is often blinded by it. And Obama was certainly a celebrity whose light shone brightly that day.

At the risk of offending the Obama-love media, it has to be said our environmental record is cleaner than his.

So how dare Obama lecture us?

The US didn't sign the 1997 Kyoto agreement. Nevertheless it pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 7 per cent. Instead they soared.

Now we learn that over two decades from 1990 to 2010, US emissions grew by 53 times the actual growth of emissions in Australia.

I'm glad Environment Minister Greg Hunt pointed this out. He also revealed China's sorry record.  In the same two decades China's emissions soared from 3.4 billion tonnes to 9.8 billion tonnes. This is the fastest growth in emissions in human history, Hunt said.

"The increase in Chinese emissions was 640 times, or 64,000 per cent, greater than any change in Australia. Over the same period, Chinese coal consumption increased at the greatest rate in human history."

Of course Australia's footprint is insignificant compared to the superpowers and we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it. In 1990, according to Hunt's office, Australia produced 580 million tonnes of carbon, the US 5.38 billion tonnes and China 3.356 billion tonnes.

By 2010, Australia's emissions had barely increased, to 590 million tonnes. The US, on the other hand, registered a substantial increase to 5.923 billion tonnes and China to a staggering 9.769 billion tonnes.

By 2020, if Australia meets its target, it will produce 555 million tonnes while the US will produce 5.144 billion tonnes and China a truly astonishing 12.4 billion tonnes.

Nevertheless Obama's deal with China, greeted with rapturous approval by the media, deserves closer scrutiny.

China will continue to build a coal-fired power station every 10 days until 2030.

I'm told another 28 nuclear power stations are also in the pipeline. Good. Now we are getting somewhere. The US emissions, too, are staggering and will continue to rise for years.

The other inconvenient truth is that Obama doesn't have congressional backing so is unable to add legal force to the targets proposed with China.

Former Labor state treasurer Keith DeLacy was not blinded by Obama's halo. In an opinion piece in The Australian he said Obama was a "lame duck" president.

DeLacy said Chinese President Xi Jinping admits CO2 emissions will increase until 2030, pact or no pact.  And renewables such as wind and power would produce just 3 per cent of output, said Xi.

Said DeLacy: "China is currently increasing emissions every year by the equivalent of Australia's total emissions, and Xi's statement means this will continue to be the case."

He added: "Lame duck US President Obama signalled the US would not take any leadership role on climate change action.  "While he suggested the US would reduce total emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2025, everyone knew he could not deliver any legislative backing for measures to do this.

"However, he was confident the shale gas revolution and a spluttering US economy may be sufficient to reach this goal.

"When questioned on the depth of commitment the US had to this target, officials referred to past commitments."




MOST Queenslanders believe Tony Abbott was right to ignore international pressure and focus the G20 summit on the economy rather than on Climate change. 

Just one-quarter of those surveyed in a new opinion poll said they thought the top priority for G20 nations should be reducing carbon emissions -- compared to half who said the focus should on be economic growth and jobs creation.

Both Labor and LNP suppporters rated economic growth higher than action on carbon.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has meanwhile sent a briefing to the White House to allay ' US President Barack Obama's concerns about Australia not working to protect the future of the Great.Barrier Reef.

From p. 31 of the Brisbane "Courier Mail" 22 Nov., 2014

Obama ignored embassy's warnings on climate change speech

BARACK  Obama defied the -advice of his embassy in Canberra to deliver a stinging attack on the Abbott government's climate policies in Brisbane last weekend.

The US embassy, under the leadership of ambassador John Berry, advised the President, through his senior staff, not to couch his climate change comments in a way that would be seen as disobliging to the Abbott government, sources have revealed.

When The Weekend Australian put this information to the US embassy, a spokesman said: "As is the case with all presidential speeches, President Obama's remarks at the University of Queensland in Brisbane were prepared by the White House."

It is normal practice when the US President makes an overseas visit that the ambassador in the country he is visiting is consulted about the contents of major speeches. It is unusual, though not unprecedented, for an embassy's advice to be ignored.

The Obama speech in Brisbane was added to the President's program at the last minute. During his extensive talks with Tony Abbott in Beijing at APEC, Mr Obama did not make any mention of a desire to make a speech, or of any of the contentious climate change content of the speech.

Only in Naypyidaw, in Myanmar, immediately prior to the leaders travelling to Brisbane for the G20 summit, did the US party demand that the President make a speech and that it be to an audience of young people. At the speech, the President did not -acknowledge the presence of Governor-General Peter Cosgrove.

Despite repeated Australian requests, White House officials refused to provide a text of the speech to their Australian hosts in advance, and did not provide a summary of what would be contained in the speech.

Mr Obama's repeated references to the climate change debate in Australia, his accusation that Australia was an inefficient user of energy and his repeated references to the Great Barrier Reef, which has figured heavily in the climate change debate, have led observers to conclude that the speech was a deliberate swipe at the Abbott government.

Historians of the US-Australia relationship are unable to nominate a case of a visiting president making such a hostile speech for the host government.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has accused Mr Obama of speaking in ignorance about the joint plans by the federal and Queensland governments to act to preserve the Great Barrier Reef. She sent a briefing on the reef to the White House after Mr Obama's speech was delivered.

Some days before the speech, at the World Parks Conference, Ms Bishop met US Secretary of the -Interior Sally Jewell and gave her the same briefing.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek yesterday accused Ms Bishop of "berating" the President and said Ms Bishop had created an "absurd" situation.

Sources in Washington said the Brisbane speech was a sign of deep divisions within the Obama administration over how to deal with Australia, and over Asian policy generally.

Senior US sources said Mr Obama had inadvertently overshadowed all the elements of his speech, which dealt with regional security and America's position in Asia. When the White House first proposed the speech, its subject was to be US leadership in Asia.

Mr Obama's speech was in marked contrast to the accomplished speeches, with their careful regional agendas, of China's President, Xi Jinping, and India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to the Australian parliament. Senior Washington sources told The Weekend Australian of a malaise in Obama administration policy towards Asia and the lack of influence of Asia experts lower down in the US government.

Since the Abbott government was elected last September, there has been a group within the Obama administration that wants to take a tougher public line against Canberra on differences over climate change, in particular the decision to abolish the carbon tax.

Washington sources say the figure who ultimately adjudicated on this internal debate was Mr Obama, who recognised that Mr Abbott had been elected with a clear mandate to abolish the tax.

This has resulted, in part, in differing accounts of the first meeting between Mr Abbott as Prime Minister and Mr Obama in Washington in June.  After the meeting, Australian officials briefed to the effect that climate change was raised with Mr Abbott only briefly by Mr Obama and in a non-contentious way.  This version was confirmed by senior US officials who offered the same account of the meeting.

US officials added that the Obama administration was acutely aware that the US had no national carbon tax itself and that the administration had been unable to get congress to agree to an emissions trading scheme, which the Americans call a cap-and-trade scheme.

They said the US was keen merely to confirm that the Abbott government was carrying out the commitments it had made on climate change, in particular to reach the target of 5 per cent reductions on 2000 levels of emissions by 2020.

At the same time, another account of the meeting was circulating through Washington to the effect that Mr Obama had been much more insistent on the issue with Mr Abbott. In this account, Mr Obama had repeatedly referred to the Sydney Opera House sinking as a result of global warming.

At the time Washington sources said this was an erroneous account of the meeting, which reflected the great hostility over the carbon tax issue that some of Mr Obama's domestic advisers felt.

Several former senior US officials characterise the White House as introverted and not inclined to pay too much attention to officials, either in the State Department or the Pentagon, who deal with Asia full time. Others suggest senior figures in the White House, when they think of Asia, tend to focus only on China.

Mr Obama has previously had a warm personal relationship with Mr Abbott. The President has been a frequent telephone caller to Mr Abbott, almost always with a request for Australian support for a US policy or initiative, from troops for the Middle East, US trade initiatives in Asia, or important regional diplomatic matters, especially those involving security. On every occasion the US President has asked for help, the Australian Prime Minister has provided it.


NSW conservative government cracks down on protesters, fast-tracks mining

The "close" relationship between the state government and the mining industry has come under renewed scrutiny after Premier Mike Baird announced faster mining approvals and harsher fines for protesters who illegally enter mining sites.

The announcement, at a dinner for mining heavyweights on Thursday night, came just hours after it was revealed that corrupt former Labor minister Ian Macdonald will face criminal charges over a mining deal.

Critics have accused the government of cutting "special deals" with the mining industry, and failing to follow advice by the corruption watchdog to safeguard the planning system.

Lock the Gate Alliance said protesters already face heavy penalties, citing farmer Ted Borowski, who was fined about $3000 for protesting against Santos' coal seam gas operation earlier this year.  By comparison, the company was fined $1500 for contaminating an aquifer with uranium.

The government says protesters do not have the right to act unlawfully, and industry and the community should not wait years for mining applications to be decided.

Mr Baird told a NSW Minerals Council event that his government will halve assessment times for so-called "state significant" proposals, such as mines and manufacturing plants. He said assessment times for mining projects had jumped from 500 to more than 1000 days in the past six years.

On Friday, Planning Minister Pru Goward said the government intends to slash 170 days from the average time it takes to assess major applications by introducing new timeframes and ensuring timely advice from government agencies.

New timeframes would also be applied to the Planning Assessment Commission, the independent body that decides some of the state's most controversial proposals.

The government has been under pressure to streamline the mining approvals process after its maligned planning reforms stalled in the upper house.

Fairfax Media has reported that 13 mining industry leaders met Mr Baird two weeks ago for a "crisis meeting" after Anglo American's application to extend the Drayton South coal mine project was rejected.

The industry has also called for stronger penalties for trespassers, following heated protests over projects such as Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek mine and Santos' coal seam gas venture in north-west NSW.

Mr Baird said it was "galling" that the mining industry was responsible for the safety of trespassers. The government will seek changes to workplace health and safety laws, and increase penalties for protesters who break into mining operations, damage equipment or disrupt work.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesman Phil Laird, whose organisation campaigns against coal and gas mining, said the announcement highlights the "close relationship and special treatment given to industry over the interests of communities".

He said the government had ignored advice by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to expand community appeal rights on planning decisions. A spokesman for Ms Goward said independent scrutiny of decisions already exists.

The NSW Minerals Council said the planning changes would "help attract investment and create jobs in our state".

Labor's environment spokesman Luke Foley welcomed the move towards faster approvals, but said it should not come at the expense of proper environmental, social and economic assessment.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham claimed the Liberal and National parties were "essentially just the political arm of the mining industry".


21 November, 2014

Australia's Iron Lady criticises Barack Obama over Great Barrier Reef comments

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has taken a highly unusual swipe at US President Barack Obama over his comments about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

Ms Bishop, in New York for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, said there was "an issue" with Mr Obama's remarks during a speech at the University of Queensland speech last weekend as part of the G20 summit.

Mr Obama told the audience the "incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened" because of global warming and said he wanted to be able to return to Australia with his daughters when he had more time.

"And I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit and I want that there 50 years from now," he said.

That speech has already drawn a guarded rebuke from the Queensland government; its Environment Minister Andrew Powell said he wanted to assure the President and all Queenslanders that "we are working ... to ensure the reef is protected for future generations".

Ms Bishop said on Thursday that Australia was employing world's best practice to ensure the reef was preserved for future generations.  "I think that President Obama might have overlooked that aspect of our commitment to conserving the Great Barrier Reef," she told the ABC's 7.30 on Thursday.

"There was an issue regarding his statement about the Great Barrier Reef, and I can understand the Queensland government's concern because we have committed significant resources to preserve and conserve the reef.  "We have demonstrated world's best practice ... to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is preserved for generations to come."

Ms Bishop denied suggestions that Australia and the US had taken widely different approaches to climate changing, saying Mr Obama had not introduced a carbon tax, which the Australian government had repealed earlier this year.

Treasurer Joe Hockey also appeared to criticise Mr Obama's reef speech by suggesting the President "hasn't had great success" so far on his own plans to cut carbon emissions.

Australia is awaiting a determination by the United Nations World Heritage Committee on granting the reef status of being "in danger". It has been deferred until next year.

The reef's sustainability plan, drafted by the federal and Queensland governments, has been attacked by the Australian Academy of Science — the country's leading scientific academy — which said the plan failed to acknowledge how the reef had already suffered extensively from the effects of climate change.

UNESCO is also concerned about the effects on the reef of the rapid industrialisation of Queensland's coastline.

Critics say the sustainability plan should also have ruled out further dumping of dredge waste.


Lib senator admits TPV plan is draconian

Most Australians will cheer that.  Draco (??????) was actually rather a good guy.  It was he who first gave Athenians written laws and established courts to adjudicate them.  And he took a very dim view of law-breakers

A LIBERAL senator has admitted government plans to fast-track the processing of about 30,000 asylum-seeker claims contain draconian measures.

BUT Ian Macdonald defended the move, arguing it was what the Australian people wanted.
"There are some draconian things, hopefully it will be reasonably temporary," he told a Senate inquiry in Canberra on Friday.

Senator Macdonald was responding to Law Council representatives who told the inquiry government legislation before parliament was at odds with accepted standards of international and domestic law.

The government wants to speed-up the processing of about 30,000 outstanding asylum-seeker claims left over from the previous Labor government since August 2012.

It plans to re-introduce temporary protection visas, a Howard government measure abolished by the Rudd government in 2008.

Asylum seekers on TPVs will be denied permanent residency and will have their protection claims assessed every three years.

However, asylum seekers who agree to move to regional areas will be provided with safe-haven visas that may lead to permanent protection.

The move has the backing of the Palmer United Party but is being opposed by Labor and the Greens.

The Law Council also opposes the bill in its current form, describing it as the single biggest change to Australia's asylum seeker policy ever made.

The proposed changes departed from the accepted standards of protection for asylum seekers in international and domestic law, it told the Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee.

They were also at odds with rule-of-law principles and procedural fairness guarantees.

The council said if TPVs were reintroduced they should only constitute a form of bridging visa while people await the determination of their claim.

Human Rights Commission president Gillian Trigg said the legislation contained provisions that were of great concern within circles of the United Nations.

Under the government plan, most references to the UN Refugee Convention will be removed from the Migration Act.

In its place will be a self-contained statutory framework which sets out Australia's interpretation of its protection obligations under the convention. The move is aimed at limiting appeals to the High Court.

Professor Triggs said it was virtually unprecedented for a mature democracy to take such a retrograde step.  It was one that would bring Australia into international disrepute, she told the inquiry.

The Australian Red Cross, which is providing support to about 11,000 asylum seekers living in the community while they wait for their claims to be processed, is concerned TPV holders will not be able to re-enter the country if they leave temporarily.

They would also be denied opportunities to reunite with family not in Australia, a point challenged by Senator Macdonald who said splitting up family was a choice made by asylum seekers who arrived by boat.

The Red Cross said previous experience showed that TPV holders lived with the constant threat and fear of repatriation.

This included fear of incarceration, torture or death upon return, it told the inquiry.

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds said it could take up to seven years to process the outstanding claims under the existing system.

That claim was rejected by Angela Chan, national president of the Migration Institute of Australia, who said the immigration department handled backlogs all the time.

"If they had the will they could process these people very quickly without a change in legislation," she told the inquiry.


Qld. Labor party 'blew billions on poor hospital plan'

Just another example of Leftist waste left for conservatives to sort out and clean up

More than $2.2 billion was wasted in the building of three Queensland hospitals due to poor planning, the Auditor-General says.

An Auditor-General's report says the Gold Coast University Hospital, South Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital and the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital have cost more than twice as much and will be delivered far later than needed.

The Beattie Labor government pledged to build the three facilities for $2.87 billion in 2006, but the report, released on Tuesday, says the hospitals have cost more than $5 billion thus far.

"When commitment was made to build three hospitals, no robust investment planning and analysis had been undertaken to determine their likely outturn cost, with the result that the August 2006 estimates significantly understated the cost of the projects," the report said.

The Auditor-General said the projects were announced before Queensland Health (QH) had the chance to investigate the needs of health services on the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, or for children, in regards to Lady Cilento Hospital.

"As a result, QH focused on the announced infrastructure solutions without adequate consideration of alternative options, their risks, costs and benefits," the report said.

Premier Campbell Newman said when combined with $1.2 billion blown on the new health payroll bungle, the former Labor government had completely wasted $3.4 billion.

"That could've cleared backlogs. That could've built new hospitals. That's what my government has been working to clean up over the last two-and-a-half years," he told reporters.

The Auditor-General recommended all future hospital projects be planned after their service area needs were identified; the costs, risks and benefits were analysed; and whole-of-life financial effects of projects were assessed.


Industry super funds outperform banks yet again

Commission-free industry super funds have again outperformed bank-owned super funds and other retail super funds, on average, over all time periods, according to monthly data from SuperRatings, based on balanced fund median rolling returns to 31 October 2014.

Industry Super Australia (ISA) Chief Executive David Whiteley welcomed the results.

“The community response to last night’s Senate vote demonstrates a commitment to the retention of strong consumer protections and super which is free from sales incentives and conflicted advice to ensure the best returns for investors,” said Mr. Whiteley.

“Over the long and short-term, independent research reinforces that industry super fund members benefit from the undivided loyalty the funds have to their members.”

The data underlines again the importance of the default superannuation safety net that safeguards the super savings of eight in ten Australians who don’t select their own funds. Bank-owned super funds are lobbying to scrap the safety net to avoid competing on investment performance.

“The outperformance, on average, of industry super funds further solidifies the case for the default super safety net not only being retained, but being strengthened and expanded,” said Mr. Whiteley.


20 November, 2014

Weather report

Some people reading here may just possibly be aware that Brisbane had a major storm yesterday afternoon which produced quite a lot of flooding in some parts of the city.  Where I am at Buranda is failrly elevated, however, so we had no flood grief at all.  My son and I simply drove to our usual local Japanese restaurant (Sunny Doll) for our supper and got marvellous food as usual. 

Vladimir Putin says he was surprised by ‘warmth’ of everyday Australians during G20 visit  -- and praises Mr Abbott

This will be a teeth-grinder for the Leftmedia (Fairfax, ABC, SBS).  They must have just about exhausted their vocabulary of  abuse in being negative about everything Abbott did and said at the summit

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has praised the Australian government for the atmosphere at the G20 summit in Brisbane.

“(Our) Australian partners created an extraordinarily welcoming atmosphere for work. I was surprised by the warmth with which normal Australian citizens received our delegation,” Mr Putin told a forum of supporters in Moscow, according to an official transcript.

Mr Putin also added praise for Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Mr Putin’s comments defied media reports that the Russian president was so frustrated at being sidelined and subjected to tough talk by Western leaders that he left the summit early.

Australia, the United States and Japan used the G20 to jointly criticise Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its actions to destabilise eastern Ukraine. The criticism was made in a statement following a trilateral meeting involving Mr Abbott, Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the summit.  They also called for those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 over the Ukraine to be brought to justice.

Mr Putin had told reporters he was leaving before the release of the G20’s communiqué because of the long flight to Russia and he wanted to get some sleep.

As he left on Sunday, he praised the “constructive atmosphere” at the summit and thanked Mr Abbott for hosting the event. He described the Prime Minister as “a very businesslike person”.

Far from shirt fronting Mr Putin, Mr Abbott said he was happy to welcome the Russian President to Brisbane.

“When all is said and done, President Putin was a guest in our country.  “President Putin is a member of the G20 and I was happy to treat him with respect and courtesy while he was here in Australia.”


Scott Morrison cuts off access to Australia for people who already have refuge

They are in no danger in Indonesia

Australia has taken its stand against boat arrivals to a new level, saying it will no longer resettle asylum seekers found to be refugees by the United Nation's refugee agency in Indonesia who registered after July 1.

But Fairfax Media understands the decision could be wider than this, and may be applied to all asylum seekers found to be genuine refugees recommended by UNHCR in transit countries such as Syria, Iran, Malaysia and Iraq.

Although a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison denied this, Mr Morrison has made plain that virtually all of Australia's humanitarian program for people overseas this financial year will be selected by Australia from countries of first asylum.

"In 2014–15, Australia's Humanitarian Programme will provide 13,750 places. These will include 11,000 places for people overseas, nearly all of whom will be in countries of first asylum," Mr Morrison said in a statement.

A well-placed source has told Fairfax Media that exceptions to the new policy direction would be women at risk and emergency rescue cases.

The waiting period in Indonesia will also increase for people who have been granted refugee status and who registered at the UNHCR before July, according to a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon by Mr Morrison.

In the statement, titled "Another Blow for People Smugglers", Mr Morrison said the decision was designed to stop the flow of asylum seekers travelling by boat to Australia, despite only one boat successfully arriving in Australia this year. The humanitarian intake of 13,750 will also not be increased.

"These changes should reduce the movement of asylum seekers to Indonesia and encourage them to seek resettlement in or from countries of first asylum,"

"While nine of 10 months of 2014 have passed without a successful people smuggling venture to Australia, we know smugglers continue to encourage asylum seekers to travel illegally to Indonesia for the purpose of seeking resettlement in Australia," Mr Morrison said.

But human rights advocates were appalled at the decision, questioning the real motives behind it. Refugee Council of Australia chief executive Paul Power said the decision was "absolutely outrageous."

"This will put Indonesia under even more pressure," he said.  "This a clear message that Australia does not care about its regional neighbours."

It is understood Labor will be seeking answers and clarification on the impacts of the decision.

Greens spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the decision was "narrow-minded" and "hard-hearted".  "This is the exact opposite of what the government should be doing," she said.  "We should be working with our neighbours, accelerating refugee processing and increasing Australia's intake from the region so that people are given a safe way to reach protection. That's the only way we can save lives at sea while caring for refugees."

Elaine Pearson from Human Rights Watch said: "If Australia really cared about saving lives at sea, then it would take more people from Indonesia, not less, because it would want to prevent people taking perilous boat journeys."  [The emptyhead has apparently not noticed that the boats have stopped coming]


ABC cuts: Malcolm Turnbull announces budget reduction of $250 million

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has detailed a $254 million funding cut to the ABC in a move that could result in job losses and the closure of foreign bureaux.

Mr Turnbull on Wednesday announced a slightly lower than expected budget cut for the ABC as well as a $25.2 million cut to the SBS.

He said the efficiencies represented a "modest saving in comparison to the government's continued investment in national broadcasting of more than $6.6 billion over the same five year period".

The cut represents 4.6 per cent of the ABC's budget and means it will receive $5.2 billion over four years rather than $5.5 billion.

The ABC has previously reported that a cut of this magnitude could lead to the loss of 500 jobs, the closure of foreign bureaux and the end of the state-based versions of 7.30.

In his speech in Adelaide, Mr Turnbull threw down the gauntlet to ABC management, arguing there was no need to cut programming because of the government's announcement.

"Let me be quite clear," he said. "The savings announced today are not of a scale that requires any particular change to programming.  "All of the savings can be found within operational efficiencies."

The Communications Minister said that it would be "cowardly" for management to blame the government for program changes, which he described as the "normal business of a media company".

"If the ABC or SBS want to make decisions to change or cease programming that is their choice."

Mr Turnbull announced that early next year, the government would introduce legislation to allow SBS to take a more "flexible" approach to advertising.

Under the new measure, the broadcaster would need to maintain its current average of five minutes of ads per hour each day, but could run up to 10 minutes in any given hour.

It is estimated this will provide SBS with an extra $28.5 million over five years.

Mr Turnbull also released an efficiency review that found the ABC and SBS could save millions of dollars a year by streamlining IT and marketing operations, changes in procurement and halting practices such as twice delivery of post to the desks of staff.

The opposition has attacked the funding reduction as another broken election promise and pointed to statements made by the Coalition in the lead up to the 2013 election in which cuts to the ABC's funding were ruled out.

Mr Turnbull dismissed claims that the government had broken an election promise with the cuts to the ABC and SBS.

He said both he and Treasurer Joe Hockey had made it "quite clear" there were no Coalition plans to cut on-air or online activities.

"But if there were to be savings made across the board, the ABC and SBS could not expect to be exempt."

Turnbull: Change ABC structure

Mr Turnbull said he would be raising several matters with the ABC board about the way the organisation is run - although he noted that the board could ignore his advice if it chose to.

The Communications Minister said the ABC should have a chief financial officer, explaining he did not understand why the role was currently being undertaken by the chief operating officer.

He will also recommend that the position of editor-in-chief no longer be combined with that of the managing director, who is Mark Scott.

"It creates the impression that the managing director is directly in charge of ABC news and current affairs, which he is not, and given the wide range of his responsibilities, could not be."

In a further shakeup to both public broadcasters, Mr Turnbull said there should be more "granular detail" about how they spend their money in relation to their charter obligations.

He also called on the two boards to take more responsibility for accuracy and objectivity in reporting at the ABC and SBS.

"I have on occasions heard directors say 'they do not want to get involved'. Well, if they do not want to get involved, they should resign."

Earlier on Wednesday, Education Minister Christopher Pyne made a pitch for the ABC not to cut local production in his home state of South Australia.

"I think [managing director] Mark Scott and the board need to get out of [Sydney headquarters] Ultimo and go around Australia and find the place where the ABC is most popular is in regional Australia, where it's the lifeline of country towns and regional areas," Mr Pyne said.

Cuts to SBS 'sizeable'

SBS managing director Michael Ebeid said the cut to his organisation was anticipated but "sizeable" and would "naturally be felt" by the broadcaster.

"National efforts to unify Australia's diverse communities go directly to the reason SBS was established, and it is at a time when our social cohesion is being tested, that having a multicultural broadcaster is more important than ever," he said in a statement.  

Mr Ebeid said if the government's plans to make the SBS's advertising arrangements more flexible came into place the broadcaster would "only implement additional advertising in programs and timeslots where the advertising return could genuinely aid our ability to invest in more Australian content".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the funding cut was another broken election promise from the Coalition.

"It is absolutely clear now that Tony Abbott stared down the barrel of a camera the night before the election and lied to the Australian people," Mr Shorten said.

The president of the Community and Public Sector Union, Michael Tull, said the announcement was "a sad day for all Australians who value the ABC and SBS".

"It is, frankly, gutless of Malcolm Turnbull to shun responsibility for these cuts and pass the buck to ABC management. There is no way that cuts of this size can be confined to 'back office' savings. Make no mistake, programming, services and jobs will have to be cut to accommodate these cuts."


How Narendra Modi turned Parliament House into a rock star's stage

You got the sense there was something about Modi when world leaders had their official handshakes with Tony Abbott at the G20 summit.

While the other leaders offered brief handshakes and stiff smiles, India's Prime Minister strode out of the wings to greet his Australian counterpart with an exuberant hug.

You got the same sense about Narendra Modi when he was later mobbed by chanting fans at the unveiling of a statue in Brisbane and then tweeted about how touched he was. And again when thousands of Indian Australians spent a day dancing, drumming and partying in anticipation of his speech in Sydney.

But when Modi began to address the parliament in Canberra on Tuesday, we knew for sure there was something about the Indian Prime Minister.

It wasn't just that he acknowledged Indigenous Australians when Mr Abbott did not.  Or that he wondered how MPs were surviving a third address to parliament by a world leader in as many days.  "Maybe this is Prime Minister Abbott's way of shirtfronting you," he suggested with the hint of a wink.

It wasn't even the fact that – although he had an autocue – he appeared not to be speaking from prepared notes. He was eyes up all the way through.

It was because as soon as Modi got stuck into the substance of his address, he had the normally rowdy House of Representatives hypnotised.

"I come to you with the greetings of 1.25 billion people … and today I have come to unite in spirit, as we once were in geography," he declared.

In cadences befitting of someone who is a published poet as well as a politician, Modi spoke of how democracy offers "the best opportunity for the human spirit to flourish" and loaded praise on Australia, whose cities are "alive with [the] richness of this world's diversity".

But his stylish words also carried a serious message: India is open for business.  There are 800 million Indians under the age of 35, "eager for change, willing to work for it because, now they believe that it is possible".

Young Indians want energy that "does not cause our glaciers to melt," cities that are "smart, sustainable and liveable" and villages that "offer opportunity". And they want Australia's help to get there.

"India will be the answer to your search for new economic opportunities … your source for world class skills at home or for a manufacturing location abroad," he said with all the polish and confidence of a new car salesman.

As he concluded with a simple "thanks a lot," the chamber rose in a standing ovation.  They were not just being polite. If Madam Speaker had let them, they would have whistled, whooped and charged the stage.  That's what you do when you see a rock star perform.



Education Act Amendments Benefit All Independent Schools

All Independent schools will see some benefits flow through from today’s passage of the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2014, according to Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) Executive Director, Mr Bill Daniels.

“Education Minister Christopher Pyne should be congratulated for moving quickly to make important improvements to the current funding and operational arrangements for Independent schools,” he said.

The amendments will ensure the timely payment of an extra $6.8 million for many non-government schools with a large number of Indigenous boarding students from remote areas. “These schools service some of Australia’s most needy students and will welcome the extra injection of funds this year to assist in improving the educational outcomes for Indigenous students,” Mr Daniels said.

“Many Special schools and Special Assistance schools faced a potential reduction in funding from the beginning of 2015 and now provision has been made in the legislation to allow them to transition towards the Student Resourcing Standard, consistent with other schools funded under the Australian Education Act,” he said.

“The implementation of the new school funding model in 2014 has put considerable administrative pressure on Independent schools and the additional burden to have School Improvement Plans in place by 1 January next year had to potential to add to this pressure,” Mr Daniels said. “The amendments have now relieved some of this pressure and moved the commencement date for Improvement Plans to 1 January 2016,” he said.

The amendments also ensure that the correct application of indexation is included in the total amount of capital funding for Block Grant Authorities for 2014, ensuring additional funding is available to support needy Independent schools to provide facilities that will enhance their educational outcomes.

Mr Daniels said that ISCA looks forward to working closely with the Australian Government in the coming months to explore other improvements that can be made to the way in which funding arrangements impact on Independent schools.


Comment from an old China hand

The Chicken Littles of Australia have been clucking about the Climate agreement between China and the U.S.

What they don't know is that while China may be a world leader in the use of solar heating, has extensive hydroelectric power and plenty of wind turbines, it is still installing one new multi megawatt coal powered plant every ten days.

While the pace may drop over time, China's dependence on coal power will only drop from from 79% at present to 75% by 2030. At that time China promises to be able to reduce its dependence on coal but even then nuclear will still be only 5% and hydropower much lower than at present.

On the other hand the U.S. Is a postindustrial economy with a bonanza in natural gas due to new technology. As a result it has seen a 20% drop in CO2 emissions in the last decade by switching from coal to gas powered electricity stations. In the future this can be accelerated which will make the U.S. The world leader in emissions reduction.

Of course CO2 is not the pollutant, but the particles from coal powered plants and petrol powered vehicles are. CO2 is good for plants up to 4000ppm as any greenhouse attendant will tell you.

The lack of correlation between climate and CO2 is demonstrated clearly by the current steady increase in ppm while the global temperature (HADCRUT/RSS) has stabilized for almost 20 years.


19 November, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG shows what he thinks Australian business labors under

Narendra Modi and Tony Abbott reveal new India-Australia agreement

Great news that Australia is getting closer to one of my favourite countries.  Will the Leftist media call this too a "failure" by Tony Abbott?  To get major agreements with both India and China is a pretty strange "failure"

Australia and India have entered a new era of security and military co-operation based on shared values and aimed at defending a rules-based international order.

The Indian and Australian governments have now confirmed a Fairfax report this morning that prime ministers Narendra Modi and Tony Abbott quietly signed a sensitive and potentially transformative new framework agreement.

The confirmation came after China's President Xi Jinping had flown from Canberra to Tasmania.

"They have decided to establish the Framework for Security Cooperation to reflect the deepening and expanding security and defence engagement between India and Australia, and to intensify co-operation and consultation between Australia and India in areas of mutual interest," said India's Ministry of External Affairs, on its website.

The framework lays out an extensive "action plan" including annual prime ministerial summits and maritime military exercises, according to the Indian government website.

The action areas include counter-terrorism, border control and close consultations on regional and international institutions.

It even commits Australian "support for India's bid to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council".

Australian officials later "noted" the framework in a joint statement from Mr Abbott and Mr Modi, after Mr Abbott departed to join China's President Xi for an afternoon in Tasmania.

The joint statement said the new framework would guide closer bilateral collaboration across "defence, counter-terrorism, cyber policy, disarmament and non-proliferation and maritime security".

"They agreed to hold regular meetings at the level of the Defence Minister, conduct regular maritime exercises and convene regular navy to navy, air force to air force and army to army staff talks," said the joint statement.

Mr Modi first revealed the framework agreement in a media statement this morning, while standing alongside Mr Abbott.  "I welcome the new framework of security co-operation," said Mr Modi, without introduction or explanation.  "Security and defence are important and growing areas of the new India-Australia partnership for advancing regional peace and stability and combating terrorism and transnational crimes," he said.

Mr Modi's short revelation to journalists was made just minutes before he gave a historic address to a joint sitting of Parliament, the same venue where President Xi had yesterday pledged his nation to peaceful co-operation.

Mr Modi's powerful speech placed Australia at the centre of India's vision of a prosperous and regional order, at the juncture of the Indian and Pacific oceans, at a time when he said security was valued more highly than ever.

He talked of what the two countries could do working together in maritime security and counter-terrorism, in regional and global institutions, and in entrenching international norms of good behaviour.

"India and Australia can play their part in it by expanding security co-operation," Mr Modi told the joint sitting in unscripted English, when he more commonly speaks in Hindi at international events.

"What we do need is to work together, and with others, to create an environment and culture that promotes the currency of coexistence and co-operation in which all nations small and big abide by international law and norms ... even when they have bitter disputes," he said.

Mr Modi and Mr Abbott are unlikely to mention China in the context of their plans of military co-operation, at least while President Xi remains in Australia.

Nevertheless, the muscular China that has been on display in recent years has been at the forefront of their concerns.

Mr Modi has been chafing at Chinese military incursions on the Indian side of the "line of control", in the Himalayas.

Mr Abbott has been exercised by China's territorial conflicts with neighbours in its maritime periphery.

"There's an enthusiasm on both our parts for more bilateral and trilateral military exercises  and we hope to see much more of that in the years ahead," said Mr Abbott.

Earlier, Mr Modi said his visit with Mr Abbott this morning to the Australian War Memorial  had "reminded us of the need to strive together for a better world".

The new India-Australia framework dovetails neatly with both countries tightening ties with both Japan and the United States, suggesting the informal resurrection of a "security quad" or "security diamond" of democratic powers that was previously dropped due to Chinese concerns.


Abbott will soon look like a genius for refusing to drag Australia to yet another climate fiasco

Even as he continues to win plaudits from visiting Chinese and Indian leaders, the high priests and priestesses of the fourth estate are in full-throated rebellion against Tony Abbott. Defensive, embarrassing, timid, insular, clumsy, flawed, weird, cringeworthy – this is just a sampler of media comment on Abbott’s performance at the G20 in Brisbane.

But it is perhaps better to see Abbott as someone who refuses to agree at all times with outspoken, self-appointed pressure groups that breed around controversial questions. He makes an inviting rhetorical target precisely because he embodies that down-to-earth quality in our national spirit that has been all but obliterated by the modern obsession with courting fashionable opinion. His bluntness – such as his defence of Big Coal or his threat to “shirtfront” Putin – takes him where mealy-mouthed politicians fear to tread.

I say this as someone who disagrees with his stance on Ukraine. It is one thing to try to subject the Russian-backed rebels to some scrutiny for 17 July; it is another thing for the leader of a middle power to issue dire threats and warnings to a nuclear power with vital strategic interests at stake in a region that has been in its sphere of influence for centuries.

All things considered, however, Abbott’s diplomatic conduct in recent days has been defensible.

Start with the China trade deal, a major victory for our exporters that will add tens of billions of dollars to the economy. The prime minister promised to clinch unprecedented and lucrative agreements with Japan, South Korea and China by the end of the year. His foreign affairs and trade team have achieved this goal with aplomb. The three nations account for about half of all our exports.

The critics were having a field day feasting on Abbott for daring to talk about his government’s domestic policy challenges; never mind that the leaders were invited to the G20 opening session to discuss how domestic politics impede a pro-growth reform agenda.

Then there is the G20 growth agreement itself, which will dramatically improve the lives of people all around the world, so long as nations deliver on their promises. Even Michael Gordon, one of Fairfax Media’s many Abbott critics, has conceded that for the first time the world’s richest economies have committed themselves to a specific (and ambitious) growth target and they have been prepared to allow independent bodies to scrutinise their approaches.

We are told that on climate change, the G20 leaders spectacularly wrong-footed Abbott. Yet he has merely defended the national interest and kept faith with the Australian people who gave him an electoral mandate to abolish Julia Gillard’s widely unpopular carbon tax. We are also told that Paris is the moment when the world will come together to save us from an excess of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a fair bet Abbott’s position will be vindicated at the United Nations climate talks next year.

Shortly before Brisbane, Beijing concluded a bilateral accord with Washington in which they agreed (on a non-binding basis) to begin reducing their annual emissions by 2030. The understanding is clearly that, since Obama signed up to this deal (and indeed presented it as a triumph), he will not push the Chinese any further at next year’s meeting in Paris.

Meanwhile, Obama needs to ask the US Congress to appropriate $3bn for the global climate fund. Republicans will oppose it, and many Democrats repudiated Obama’s energy agenda in the recent midterm elections. No member of the visiting Washington press corps, judging from the press conference on Sunday, evidently thinks the issue is an American priority. Congress won’t legislate a carbon tax or a national emissions trading scheme.

As for China, their leaders’ priority is to grow their economy at 7-8% annually and to reduce poverty; and the cheapest way of doing so is via carbon energy (president Xi did not even mention climate change in his address to parliament yesterday.) True, Beijing is investing in renewable energy projects and piloting cap and trade schemes in some provinces. But China is also building a coal-fired power plant every 8-10 days and its net emissions continue to escalate steadily (on 1990 levels, Australia is set to cut its greenhouse gas emission by 4% by 2020.)

Any “deal” at Paris will merely give China and India a free rein until the 2030s without any binding obligation to be monitored and scrutinised by the west on their actual behaviour. That is why Abbott is wise to make any Australian climate policies conditional on a legally binding, verifiable, enforceable and genuinely global agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol. Even the Germans have essentially done that.

What is shaping up now, as Benny Peiser of the London-based Global Warming Policy Forum predicts, is a huge blame game over the likely failure to agree to a post-Kyoto treaty. China and India will blame the west for its failure to deliver $100 bn per annum – yes, $100bn – that was promised at Copenhagen. Obama and the left will blame the Republicans. The EU will blame the Americans. Climate enthusiasts and developing nations will blame all and sundry.

And Abbott will look like a genius for keeping Australia on the margins of yet another climate summit fiasco.


G20 delegates decide to make Sydney a world financial hub

Another one of Abbott's "failures", I guess

IT was a view of the Opera House at dusk that convinced the finance leaders and governors of the world’s largest economies to agree to Sydney becoming the headquarters for a potential $7 trillion global infrastructure financing network.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that a private dinner at Government House on February 22 this year, hosted by Treasurer Joe Hockey, became the venue for a secret agreement unveiled yesterday as one of the key outcomes of the G20 conference in Brisbane.

Mr Hockey told guests to look out the window down to the Opera House and seek inspiration as they retreated into groups of eight and reported back to the Australian Treasurer that the greatest global problem with infrastructure was getting the private investment funds to build it.

The result was a declaration that Sydney CBD would become the hub for a global infrastructure drive. That drive would serve as matchmaker for investors, financiers, construction companies and governments to fund the $7 trillion in infrastructure that the world is forecast to be in need of over the next 15 years.

“It came out of a working dinner we had at Government House. I pointed out to them the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as examples,’’ Mr Hockey said. “As far as I know Australia has never been the global hub for anything.

“This is one of the most significant outcomes of the G20.’’

The hub will manage a database of major infrastructure projects around the world and provide training for project managers and bureaucrats from other countries in world’s best practice for infrastructure planning and investment.

As of late yesterday the UK, China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Korea, Mexico and New Zealand had committed funds to establishing the hub.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Sydney-based hub would be critical to the world’s economy. “The hub will facilitate better information sharing and collaboration between the private sector, governments, development banks and international organisations on infrastructure investment,’’ he said.

“The hub will help countries improve their general investment climates.’’


China connection to build bridge to better health in Australia

Abbott just can't stop "failing"

A new research-led Chinese medicine clinic in Sydney, better patient outcomes and the potential for Australia to tap into the $170 billion global traditional Chinese medicine market are among the benefits set to flow from an agreement signed today in Canberra in the presence of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping.

The Memorandum of Understanding is between world-leading Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (BUCM) and the University of Western Sydney (UWS), which is the home of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM). UWS and NICM have a longstanding relationship with BUCM in both research and education.

The focus of the new agreement will be the development of an Australian-first, high quality Chinese medicine integrative clinical service in Sydney, which will have a close connection to both clinical and laboratory-based research. It is hoped that the research will lead to the development of new treatments for unmet medical needs and new medicines for export around the world.

Australia is the only Western nation to have unified national registration of Chinese medicine practitioners and strict regulation of medicines, which delivers safe healthcare to thousands of Australians every year.

UWS Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover says the well-established regulatory framework and the strong international reputation for complementary medicine research at NICM - assessed by the Australian Research Council as ‘well above world standard’ (the highest rating) - provides the ideal environment for the new partnership with BUCM to deliver benefits to patients and the nation’s economy.

“Together UWS and BUCM will conduct the research and clinical trials required to validate and translate Chinese medicines into an integrated healthcare setting in Australia,” says Professor Glover.

“The connections forged with the internationally regarded researchers at BUCM will further enhance the reputation of UWS as a centre of research excellence that delivers practical outcomes for our communities.”

Beijing University of Chinese Medicine President, Professor Xu Anlong, says the educational and research opportunities for students and academics from both nations created by this partnership are extraordinary.

“The establishment of the joint centre for Chinese medicine between BUCM and UWS will provide a world class facility integrating clinical service, education and research, together, to serve the Australian people and promote Chinese medicine to the world, particularly in developed countries like Australia,” says Professor Xu.

Director of NICM, Professor Alan Bensoussan says the close collaboration with BUCM will increase the capacity of scientists and clinicians to research Chinese medicine treatments.

“This agreement is the bridge that brings the research conducted in the laboratory closer to the patient’s beside where it can make a real difference to a person’s health and wellbeing,” says Professor Bensoussan.

“The closer collaboration with colleagues in China and the integration of research into a clinical setting will accelerate the development of more effective treatments for the most pressing and costly chronic health problems facing the world,” says Professor Bensoussan.



Five current articles below

Despite opposition from Greens and farmers, NSW is pushing to get coal seam gas extraction up and running  -- as it already is in Qld

THE NSW Aboriginal Land Council will miss out on a ­series of valuable mining licences as part of the Baird government’s coal seam gas revamp.

Resources Minister ­Anthony Roberts announced plans last week to reopen the CSG industry, which has been beset by safety fears and ­community protests, in order to boost gas supplies and lower household bills.

As a first step, the government is cancelling 16 pending gas exploration applications put on ice during chief scientist Mary O’Kane’s study of the CSG industry and its extraction methods.

Six of those applications ­belong to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and cover exploration for conventional petroleum gas deposits and possible CSG extraction sites in the state’s far west.

Land Council chairman Craig Cromelin said losing the applications was a blow to indigenous communities, who had hoped to secure a jobs and cash windfall through mining.

“We certainly think we’re being unfairly treated,” Mr Cromelin said.

“If Aboriginal people are going to break out of the ­dependency system that exists we’re going to have to be given an opportunity to prove that we can make a fist of businesses like gas extraction.”

The Land Council, which had appointed a gas industry partner to help develop its proposed mining projects, wants the government to reconsider its plan to scrap its six applications. It is prepared to accept a ban on CSG mining if it can proceed on the basis that it would mine gas using other methods.

A spokesman for Mr Roberts said the Land Council would be able to reapply, should the land where it wants to explore become available again under the state government’s new CSG regime, which is expected to be formalised next year.

“New areas of exploration will only be released after an assessment of economic environmental and social factors,” the spokesman said.


Australian uranium shipments planned for 2015 as India ramps up nuclear power

Greenies LOATHE uranium and try to stop Australia exporting it

The uranium industry is hoping to make trial shipments to India next year as the nation makes plans to move to 25 per cent nuclear power by 2050.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Indian leader Narendra Modi have discussed the supply of Australian uranium for India's nuclear power plants.

It follows their signing of a safeguards agreement in New Delhi in September, overturning a long-standing ban on uranium exports to the subcontinent.

In his address to federal parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi said he saw Australia as a major partner in his country's quest to boost electricity production and address climate change.

"(We seek) energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt," he said.  "Clean coal and gas, renewable energy and fuel for nuclear power."

The pair discussed energy security and what Mr Abbott called Australia's "readiness and willingness" to supply uranium to India for peaceful purposes.

"If all goes to plan, Australia will export uranium to India - under suitable safeguards ofcourse - because cleaner energy is one of the most important contributions that Australia can make to the wider world," Mr Abbott said.

The agreement is now being examined by the parliamentary treaties committee, which will close submissions on November 28.  There are also talks between officials on administrative arrangements.

Both the treaties process and the administrative arrangements must be finalised before Australian uranium producers can start exports to India.

Minerals Council uranium spokesman Daniel Zavattiero said the industry expected to start shipments next year.  "The industry position is things are moving okay," he said.  "We expect some point next year it will come into force and become operational, then we can start on shipments and sales."

Initial sales are expected to start on a small scale, but the outlook is strong.

The International Energy Agency estimates that while nuclear provides three per cent of India's power today, it will grow to 12 per cent by 2030 and 25 per cent in 2050.  India plans to invest $96 billion in nuclear plants to 2040, with 21 operating now, six under construction and 57 planned or proposed.  "It's very positive for us," Mr Zavattiero said.

The agreement stipulates India must only use the uranium for peaceful purposes that adhere to recognised international safety standards.  It is controversial because India has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty despite possessing an arsenal of atomic weapons.

Australia has the largest share of uranium resources in the world but currently exports only 8400 tonnes a year, valued at over $820 million.


Western Australia's EPA gives green light for new iron mine

The Green/Left loathe ALL mines, for some obscure reason

Western Australia's environmental watchdog has given Rio Tinto the green light for a new 70 million tonne a year iron ore mine in the Pilbara, amidst growing concern about a global supply glut.

The state's Environmental Protection Authority has awarded conditional approval to the greenfields Koodaideri mine and infrastructure proposal, which was submitted by Rio Tinto subsidiary Mount Bruce Mining.

If approved by the state's Minister for Environment Albert Jacob, the mine is expected to produce as much as 70 million tonnes per annum of iron ore for a mine life of 30 years, Rio's Pilbara division is on track to export around 270 million tonnes in the 2014 calendar year, so the new mine would contribute a meaningful amount to the company's production volumes as well as sustaining pressure on the region's smaller miners.

A sharp fall in the iron ore price this year to around $US78 a tonne has put serious pressure on junior Pilbara iron ore miners, many of which are struggling to break even and are blaming Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton for flooding the market and causing prices to crash.

The project is part of Rio's long-term plans to grow its Pilbara exports to 360 million tonnes per year, with seeds for the growth sewn in November 2013 when Rio revealed its "breakthrough pathway for iron ore expansion in Australia".

That pathway proposed to build cheaper brownfields expansions at mines such as Yandicoogina and West Angelas, and delay an investment decision on new, more expensive greenfields mines such as Koodaideri and Silvergrass.

The company said that an investment decision on Silvergrass has been deferred to the third quarter of 2014 and the earliest decision on the Koodaideri deposit has been postponed to 2016.

Rio has been approached for comment about whether the EPA verdict will alter its plans to hold off on a decision to develop the mine.

EPA chairman Dr Paul Vogel has set 14 conditions for the development of the mine and surrounding infrastructure including strict rehabilitation and offset requirements and the creation of an exclusion zone to protect local species. The proposal was first brought to the EPA in 2012 and was assessed under the authority's highest level of scrutiny.

Dr Vogel said Rio had actively sought to avoid, minimise and rehabilitate environmental impacts through the proposal's design and had conducted numerous studies to address issues raised in the public submissions. Five public and eleven agency submissions were received during the comment period. The proposal is now open to a two week public appeals period before going to the Minister for a final decision.


Chinese Premier came bearing gifts, Barack Obama just attacked Australia over global warming

WHO would have thought it?  A US president comes to Australia with the specific intention of damaging the Australian government politically on climate change, while a Chinese president comes here with nothing but gifts.

Xi Jinping’s accomplished, well-considered speech to parliament yesterday contained no references to climate change and no implicit criticism of Australia. After all, there are other forums for that issue, China is not committed to any carbon emissions targets and why would you go out of your way to embarrass your host?

The contrast with Barack Obama was staggering. More than that, Xi was charming, respectful and helpful to all Australians he mentioned. He completed the free-trade agreement, which is a big win for both countries. But more generally his speech was one of reassurance and reasonable ambition.

Xi touched on some of the ­issues important to him and his government: China would remain a nation of socialism with Chinese characteristics. But he presented these values in a way designed to soothe and reassure. More than that, the substance of his message was one of reassurance more generally to the whole Asia-Pacific ­region. China was a peaceful country, he said, and repeated. China had suffered bullying and ­oppression. It would not visit these indignities on other nations.

Given how robustly the Abbott government has backed Japan’s strategic re-emergence, and protested against Beijing’s declaration of an air defence identification zone around the disputed Senkaku/­Diaoyu islands, as well as declining recently to join, at least for now, China’s new infrastructure bank, many analysts in Washington and Australia had expected some overt display of Chinese displeasure.

But the Chinese seem to value their relationship with the Abbott government, certainly to the extent that they would not embarrass their host by emphasising disagreements. Of course, the Chinese are being nice to everyone at the moment, including the Americans and even the ­Japanese. The question remains whether this will be the character of Chinese attitudes into the future.

But when China is being nice, everyone breathes easy.


China, US deal on global warming a load of hot air

ALMOST everything you’re told about Barack Obama’s “breakthrough” deal with China on global warming is a con.  But, God, listen to the spin.

President Obama told ecstatic students in Brisbane on Saturday that last week’s deal to limit carbon dioxide emissions would help save our Great Barrier Reef and “I want that there 50 years from now”.

Greens leader Christine Milne insisted it showed the Prime Minister Tony Abbott “is completely out of step with the rest of the world”.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it recognised “human activity is already changing the world’s climate system”, and “we most certainly need to address climate change as the presidents of China and the United States have done”.

Red China was going green, agreed the warmist ABC, since “the most concrete target is to have 20 per cent of China’s energy produced from renewable sources by 2030”.

Hear all that?  Every claim is actually false, fake or overblown, as so often with the global warming scare.  Here are the five biggest falsehoods told about this “breakthrough”.

First, Labor is wrong: this deal proves nothing about global warming. In fact, there has still been no warming of the atmosphere for 16 years, contrary to almost every prediction.

Forget the excuse that the missing heat is hiding in the deep ocean. NASA researchers last month said a new study had found the “waters of Earth’s deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005”.

Nor, incidentally, have we seen the biennial bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef predicted in 1999 by Australian alarmist Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Second, this is not a real deal.  China, already the world’s biggest emitter, is actually promising little more than what it always planned — to let emissions keep soaring until 2030 as it makes its people richer.  China will cap its emissions only in 2030 — the never-never — when its electricity supply is deployed and its population is set to plummet.

In exchange, Obama promises to cut US emissions by 26 per cent of 2005 levels by 2025.  But Obama’s term ends in two years and the Republicans who now control Congress say they’ll try to block his deal.  Republican Mitch McConnell, the new majority leader in the Senate, said he was “particularly distressed by the deal”, which “requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years”.

And, to add to the phoniness, the deal is neither binding nor enforceable.

Third falsehood? No, this deal doesn’t show the Abbott Government is out of step.  The Government’s own planned cuts to emissions — 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 — are not wildly behind the US ones over a similar time span.

If anyone is out of step it’s Labor, since China and the US plan to cut their emissions not with a Labor-style carbon tax but with Liberal-style direct action policies.

Fourth falsehood: China did not promise to get 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, as many journalists report.

The deal instead says that 20 per cent will come from “non-fossil fuels”, which in China’s case includes nuclear power.  Indeed, China plans to have at least five times more nuclear power by 2030, with Sun Qin, chairman of the China National Nuclear Corp, confirming earlier this year that “nuclear plants will play an important role in … raising the proportion of energy produced by non-fossil fuel”.

And the fifth falsehood?  The Greens and Labor don’t actually want us to follow the lead of the US and China at all.  Not when it comes to how those promises are meant to be delivered.

That’s because most of America’s cuts to emissions come from fracking, a technique that has given the US huge new supplies of natural gas, cheaper than coal and more greenhouse-friendly. But the Greens vehemently oppose fracking, and Labor wants it restricted.

As for China, it plans to have much of its non-fossil power supplied by nuclear plants and controversial dams like the massive Three Gorges project.  But, again, Labor and the Greens oppose nuclear power and fight new dams.

So without fracking, new dams or nuclear power, how could Australia possibly match the US and China?  How, given wind power is too unreliable and solar hideously expensive?

So what a con you’re being sold.  No, this isn’t a real deal.

To recap: China won’t cut emissions for another 16 years, and Congress will oppose Obama.  And reality check: Labor and the Greens actually oppose the technologies the US and China most rely upon to cut emissions.

Oh, and still the planet refuses to warm, for all Obama’s happy yammer. 


18 November, 2014

China and Australia strike major free trade deal

Free trade is of great importance and good relations with China are hugely important so this is a great leap forward. (Yes.  I know about a previous great leap forward)

China and Australia have struck a major free trade deal to remove tariffs from 95 per cent of Australian goods in return for more investment opportunities for Chinese companies.

The deal will see China will open up its dining tables to billions of pounds of Australian dairy, meat, seafood and wine.

In return, private Chinese companies will be able to buy Australian firms worth up to AUD1.08 billion (£600 million) without coming under government scrutiny.

The announcement came during a state visit by Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, following the G20 summit.

In a speech that underlined the ties between the two countries Mr Xi noted that 200,000 Chinese students study in Australia and that China gets over half its iron ore from Australian mines.

Last year, Australia exported AUD52.65 billion of iron ore, AUD9.08 billion of coal and AUD8.07 billion of gold to China.

But now it is trying to expand into food and agricultural exports and services, moving from a "mining boom" to a "dining boom".

In particular, Australian dairy farmers will get lucrative access to China's baby formula market, where parents have shunned local brands following a toxic milk scandal in 2008.

Meanwhile, Mr Xi also gave a rare speech to the Australian parliament in which he vowed that China would not use force to achieve its strategic goals.

"A review of history shows that countries that attempted to pursue development with force invariably failed," he said. "This is what history teaches us. China is dedicated to upholding peace. Peace is precious and needs to be protected."

"China has settled land boundary issues with 12 out of its 14 neighbours through friendly consultation. And we will continue to work in this direction," he said, vowing closer cooperation over maritime boundaries.

Mr Xi spoke after Barack Obama, the United States' president, warned over the spats that have broken out in the East Sea and South China Sea, saying that: "Disputes over territory – remote islands and rocky shoals – threaten to spiral into confrontation."


The obsession with defaming Abbott at the G20

Wow, it’s been a weekend of headline after headline from the ‘progressive’ outlets seemingly obsessed with undermining, embarrassing, and defaming our Prime Minister to suit their own political ends. 

People complain about the bias of the Murdoch press, but it really is a sad state of affairs when every headline on the largest meeting of world leaders in history has been focused on embarrassing Tony Abbott by nit picking tiny, insignificant elements of his speeches and finding every possible, desperate angle for attack. The issues of growth, conflict and tackling disease gave way to a national commentary that descended into an asinine obsession with personality.

It started with Abbott’s apparently failed ‘shirtfront’ on Vladimir Putin – where the ABC attempted a pathetic skit of satire aimed at mocking Abbott while seemingly forgetting they were offending the families of people who died on the MH17 flight.

Then came Abbott’s supposed ‘embarrassing comment that when the first settlers arrived here, Australia was ‘nothing but bush.’ In the context of what he was saying, there was nothing factually incorrect about his statements. From an infrastructure point of view, in which he was talking, Australia was nothing but bush.

It should be noted that the world leaders then trotted off to join in a Welcome to Country ceremony to pay their recognition to the country’s first owners, but this didn’t rate a mention over all the faux outrage over Abbott’s comments.

Where next to find the ‘embarrassing’ story? It didn’t take long. Abbott was in the firing line again after his supposed ‘cringe worthy’ opening speech when he made a minor comment about each country’s domestic agenda and the difficulties that come with passing difficult reform, to which he then cited his government’s $7 GP co-payment as an example. Never mind that world leaders in discussion also mentioned some of their own policy frustrations at the summit, and never mind the fact that the majority of the speech urged leaders to maintain optimism in the face of challenges occurring in the Middle East and West Africa. Never mind the emphasis on freer trade, growth, and tackling unemployment. Abbott mentioned GP payments – cue outrage.

Meanwhile, radicals outside in the streets of Brisbane were burning Australian flags in protest over indigenous rights. Talk about embarrassing.  Yep, the headlines keep flooding in, and they all focus on one target- Abbott. Meanwhile, beneath the noise, the leaders did actually do some talking and the following commitments have been made under their Communique:

Raising global growth to deliver better living standards and quality jobs for people across the world.

Implementing structural reforms to lift growth and private sector activity, recognising that well-functioning markets underpin prosperity

Establishing a Global Infrastructure Hub with a four-year mandate.
Setting new targets and implementing initiatives to tackle youth unemployment.

2015-16 G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan

Establishing increased collaboration on global energy markets.
Committing to lift the G20?s annual GDP growth to at least an additional two per cent by 2018

Agreeing to the goal of reducing the gap in participation rates between men and women in our countries by 25 per cent by 2025

Did you read about much of that over the weekend? Probably not. You see, Abbott led the G20 meeting, and Abbott is bad, you know. So bad, so every headline must be…bad. Because Abbott is bad. The reports will continue to come flooding in – Abbott embarrasses Australia at the G20. Abbott sends Australia backward. Abbott was bad. Abbott ‘insert negative headline here just cos.’

So what did the US president say? Obama thanked Abbott and said that Australia had been an ‘extraordinary host’. But hey, the headlines will no doubt suggest a huge rift between the leader of the free world and our lowly Prime Minister.

There was a blatant aim by the nation’s progressive class to undermine the G20 at every turn this weekend, and it was nothing short of disgraceful. It was particularly concerning that one of our elected members, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, had the audacity to mock the meeting of world leaders on our shores, by posting this on his social media account:

"Because I’m sure no security at all would have worked wonders".

Now THAT could have been embarrassing. The chattering classes wanted to hijack this weekend and utilise it to promote their pet causes – climate change, equalising wealth distribution, and same-sex marriage rights.

Barack Obama was happy to indulge, free from the difficulties of actually taking action on such matters in his own country. Without a doubt, the China-US deal on reducing carbon emissions is laudable and an achievement worthy of celebration, but these headlines were quickly used as a platform for the Left to embarrass Australia by pointing out Abbott’s dissonance on climate change.

Perhaps people should look to Obama’s own modest record on climate politics, and before they high five the Chinese for their ‘achievement’, perhaps look at their record over the past decade.

Barack Obama, the charismatic and charming US president, has always been brilliant at the arousing, inspiring speeches, but when one looks at his record as president they could only conclude that he’s done much on seeming, and little on doing. It’s true that in his time as President US carbon emissions have decreased, but that’s more a product of recession rather than any lasting policy achievement. In fairness to Obama, he has faced an obstructionist congress from day one, but Abbott faces the same issues here in the Senate with his budget – but don’t expect much sympathy there.

Here, we had a world leaders meeting where common ground was reached in tackling world disease, freeing up our borders for trade, closing the gender pay gap and promoting economic growth across the world, with a particular eye to easing youth unemployment. But those issues didn’t matter, because Tony Abbott ran the show; and because Tony ran the show, the political left could not see past their own hate to look at the issues that matter.

Fellow Australians, we don’t have to worry about Tony Abbott embarrassing us as a country. We have plenty of people out there going out of their way to do it themselves.


Queensland government determined to get big coal mining project off the ground

Greenie pressure on banks means that finance for such projects is hard to get so the State government is going to come to the party

Come hell, high-water or - worse - lack of private investment, the Queensland government is going to make sure the Galilee Basin is "open for business".

In his excitement at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit on Sunday, Premier Campbell Newman pre-empted Monday's big announcement that the state government would be prepared to fund the infrastructure needed to get the Galilee Basin projects happening.

"We'll be saying, if necessary, we'll be prepared to invest in infrastructure, core infrastructure, common-use infrastructure, we'll be making the case that we are prepared to do that to get this going," he said on Sunday morning.

"The role of the government, given the financial situation we face these days, the role would be to make targeted investments to help get something going and then within a few years time exit those investments so the private sector can then get on with it, but I stress, open to all comers - we just want a new coal resource basin to be opened up."

Climate change and the need to take carbon emission reduction more seriously may have hijacked the G20 agenda, but privately, Tony Abbott reportedly repeated Australia's commitment to coal, an attitude Mr Newman echoes.

The government sees the Galilee Basin as key to turning around the state's economy.  Gas projects initiated under the previous Labor governments are transitioning from the construction to production phase and shedding jobs at a rapid rate.

Mr Newman has said previously he wanted to see preliminary works on the Galilee Basin projects, the most significant of which is the Indian company Adani's Carmichael mine, set to be the largest coal mine in Australia, begin early next year.

So far the private sector has had issues securing the funding needed to begin work.  Mr Newman has not said how the government would fund the infrastructure or whether it would be part of its asset sales agenda.

But the announcement has already created ripples.  Director of Energy Resource Studies Australasia at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), Tim Buckley, said it was a financially irresponsible decision, and labelled the Galilee Basin projects "unviable".  "Many would consider this a Government simply pissing taxpayers' money up against the wall," he said in a statement.

"The people of Queensland and Australia should be outraged at this idea of questionable politicians spending many billions of tax payer dollars to make an unviable, unwanted and dangerous mega coal project a reality.

"The Galilee coal projects are totally commercially unviable. Any project undertaken is highly likely to end up as a stranded fossil fuel asset as the rest of the world rapidly transitions to lower carbon solutions. Coal has entered structural decline – there is no two ways about that fact."

Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters labelled it a bad decision, for both the environment and economy.  "Not only is this environmentally disastrous, it's economically insane, especially when you're spending the state's public wealth," she said.


ABC news and current affairs sink to new lows

Janet Albrechtson

WHEN Mark Scott was appointed managing director of the ABC, he made grand promises of exerting much needed editorial control over a national broadcaster that too often was failing to satisfy its charter. As an ABC board member committed to a vibrant and impartial national broadcaster, I had deep reservations about Scott’s ability and willingness to take on this editorial role. Having watched the ABC hierarchy up close, I saw how most of those in senior positions too often wanted to be loved by staff, rather than respected.

Earning respect requires making tough budget decisions; challenging the progressive orthodoxy that reigns at the ABC on issues from climate change to gay marriage to immigration; holding to account those who breach editorial standards; and expecting more than business as usual from producers, television and radio hosts and management. In other words, ensuring that the ABC meets it charter obligations.

Worse than wanting to be loved, Scott and ABC honchos have grown drunk with cultural, editorial and political arrogance. That is the inescapable conclusion arising from Tuesday’s 7.30 program. The ABC’s flagship current affairs program devoted more than five minutes of its prime half-hour slot to a skit about the “showdown of the century”, ridiculing Tony Abbott’s promise to “shirt-front” Russian President Vladimir Putin. Host Leigh Sales introduced the segment as “lighthearted”, but even she seemed uncomfortable with the questions it raised about the ABC’s distorted political and cultural antenna. On Thursday, Sales tweeted: “I can robustly make my case in editorial meetings but, ultimately, I have to present what’s commissioned.”

The commissioning of The Checkout’s Kirsten Drysdale to mock the Prime Minister’s reaction to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 speaks volumes about how the ABC has gone awry. While Abbott’s language was clumsy, his ­reaction reflected the outrage of Australians over the shooting down of an aeroplane by Russian-backed rebels, killing 298 innocent people, including 38 Australians.

That one of the ABC’s premier news programs opted for a tasteless skit, more at home on the Network Ten’s The Project, is just the latest sign that those in charge are entirely disconnected from Australians who fund the broadcaster through taxes.

From top to bottom, from Scott to ABC chairman Jim Spigelman, to members of the ABC board, to the all-powerful but little-known executive producers and highly paid program hosts, and all manner of well-paid management between, the ABC is deliberately delivering two fingers to those who fund the ABC — us. Twitter has become the target audience.

It’s hard to imagine leading British journalists Jeremy Paxman or Emily Maitlis using Newsnight, the BBC’s award-winning current affairs show, to showcase such trite comedies. Or legendary US journalists Jim Lehrer, Judy Woodruff or Gwen Ifill making a mockery of important stories on NewsHour, the US public broadcaster’s prime-time show.

No wonder the Prime Minister and Bill Shorten rarely appear on 7.30. In 2007, John Howard appeared 13 times, Kevin Rudd 10 times. In the 2013 election year, Abbott appeared four times and only once this year. Last year, the three Labor leaders appeared in total eight times. This year the Opposition Leader has appeared only three times.

Why would political leaders treat 7.30 seriously when it now includes tawdry journalism?

Neither Scott nor Spigelman is stupid. They know that section 8 of the ABC Act requires the ABC to provide “innovative and comprehensive broadcasting services of a high standard … that contribute to a sense of identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community”. They know that section 8 imposes a duty on the board to ensure that “the gathering and presentation … of news and information is accurate and impartial”. These are neither difficult nor unreasonable obligations. Scott and Spigelman know this is the quid pro quo for taxpayers paying $1.1 billion a year to the ABC.

Yet program producers operate with impunity and immunity, directing much of the ABC at the left-leaning, inner-city tweeting community. It points to a moral vanity that the values of this tiny community matter more than the wider Australian community.

Clearly, Scott is failing politically to read the times. Perhaps he is counting on Abbott being a one-term prime minister. He has even managed to get offside an ABC friend, Malcolm Turnbull, who increasingly voices his dissatisfaction with the ABC.

When Scott responded to ABC budget cuts by threatening to pull Peppa Pig and then Lateline, his arrogance was exposed. Playing emotional blackmail is no substitute for recognising that every taxpayer-funded organisation must accept sensible budget cuts when the country faces debt and deficits.

If Scott doesn’t realise that spending thousands of Australian taxpayer dollars to buy a Google ranking to direct viewers to a taxpayer-funded ABC website is an affront to taxpayers, he has forgotten who is paying his hefty wage.

Worse, by allowing the ABC to be run by the hipster Left for the hipster Left, instead of running a serious news organisation, he is treating Australians with ­contempt.

Breaking stories do happen at the ABC, but they are few and far between. Good reporting is there, too, but not often enough given the billion-dollar cheque written by taxpayers to the ABC. You only need watch Sky News to see how excellent news and current affairs can be delivered efficiently. And if Sky can broadcast left-wing hosts such as Graham Richardson and Kristina Kenneally, why can’t our taxpayer-funded Aunty find a conservative to front a headline program? After all, diversity delivers better quality debate.

It may suit Scott and Spigelman to depict criticism as another broadside in a culture war. But they miss the point at their peril. The ABC should not be right-wing any more than it should be left-wing. This is not a culture war. It is a cri de coeur about the legitimacy of the ABC as a publicly funded ­vibrant, innovative, intellectually curious, philosophically open-minded media organisation. When producers treat news and current affairs seriously, they treat their audience with respect. The opposite is also true.

In the lead-up to the G20 gathering, Lateline and 7.30 have done a paltry job. On Wednesday night Lateline host Tony Jones interviewed Paul Keating to deliver yet another slap to Abbott over carbon pricing and climate change.

On 7.30, earlier that same night, Sales talked up the “game-changing deal” between China and the US over emission reductions, with no mention of how such a deal might get through a Republican congress. The myopic focus was on what’s not included on the G20 agenda — climate change — rather than what the agenda does include, boosting economic growth.

Trotting out favourites on ABC news programs — Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young on asylum-seekers, Tim Flannery on climate change and so on — may titillate the tastes of the trendy Left, but what about the views and values of the rest of Australia? Why, for example, was it recently left to ABC regional radio stations — and Steve Austin on Brisbane ABC radio — to interview Patrick Moore, the founder of Greenpeace, who is an articulate and sensible voice of scepticism about climate-change fanaticism?

It’s more moral vanity from those at ABC headquarters in Ultimo in Sydney and Southbank in Melbourne who think their views should dominate ABC output. The Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine interviewed Moore when he was recently in Australia. So did Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Fairfax’s Ben Potter. But not one of the myriad journalists at the ABC’s flagship programs.

Over at Q&A, it has become a chore to sit through an hour of the predictable cookie-cutter output, where hip favourites such as Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek draw raucous applause and conservatives guffaw at mention that 40 to 45 per cent of the audience votes Liberal or Nationals. It has become a show for the graffiti world of Twitter that cheers panel members routinely invited to rubbish Australia.

It’s little wonder that serious conservatives such as Tom Switzer and Devine long ago decided to boycott the Monday night show. Why appear when doing so only serves to legitimise a program that routinely pours scorn on the views and values of a large slice of Australia?

With a sense of disappointment and regret, I’m joining the boycott because this week the national broadcaster sank to new lows of contempt for its paying audience.


17 November, 2014


Seven current articles below, including Mr Obama's latest effusion

University of Qld preaches Warmism

They think that you learn critical thinking by absorbing warmist dogma, not by criticizing it.  Course outline below.  It's clear that climate skepticism has got them rattled.  It's an EDx (online) course -- which makes it difficult to ask questions and answer back.  The University of Qld is one of the homes of "Mr. 97%" -- psychologist John Cook.  

In my years doing psychological research I grew accustomed to finding conclusions in the work of my colleagues that were  at variance with what they actually found.  And Mr Cook's work does not disappoint.  As you see below, the take-home message of his study was that "97% of climate scientists conclude humans are causing global warming".  What he actually found however was that two thirds of the academic publications he surveyed "expressed no position" on warming, probably suggesting that many of the writers disagreed with it.  Disagreeing with it explicitly is perilous for a scientist these days

There are also other serious problems with the Cook study and its conclusions

The fact that UQ students are being taught the sort of deceptive nonsense below goes a long way towards explaining why Obama got a rapturous response from some UQ students when he gave a Warmist speech there

Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

Climate change is real, so why the controversy and debate? Learn to make sense of the science and to respond to climate change denial.

About this Course

In public discussions, climate change is a highly controversial topic. However, in the scientific community, there is little controversy with 97% of climate scientists concluding humans are causing global warming.

Why the gap between the public and scientists?

What are the psychological and social drivers of the rejection of the scientific consensus?

How has climate denial influenced public perceptions and attitudes towards climate change?

This course examines the science of climate science denial.

We will look at the most common climate myths from “global warming stopped in 1998” to “global warming is caused by the sun” to “climate impacts are nothing to worry about.”

We’ll find out what lessons are to be learnt from past climate change as well as better understand how climate models predict future climate impacts. You’ll learn both the science of climate change and the techniques used to distort the science.

With every myth we debunk, you’ll learn the critical thinking needed to identify the fallacies associated with the myth. Finally, armed with all this knowledge, you’ll learn the psychology of misinformation. This will equip you to effectively respond to climate misinformation and debunk myths.


Green Obama in Australia

He knows how to sound good to the ill-informed, as Leftists usually do.  It's their stock in trade.  Doing good is however usually beyond them

U.S. President Barack Obama gave a landmark speech at the G20 Summit on Saturday where his call for immediate action to protect the Great Barrier Reef was met with rousing applause.

Conservationists have claimed that the U.S. President's urging should force industrialisation along the Queensland coast to stop immediately.

Mr Obama piled pressure on the Abbott government to act on climate change, declaring that natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef were under direct threat from climate change.

And although Prime Minister Tony Abbott did not mention climate change in his opening address to G20 leaders, it appears the government may be backing down on the eve of the main leaders' event.

The U.S. President said today that no country was immune to the effects of climate change and that everyone must play a role in fighting the global phenomena.

'I want my daughters to be able to come back and I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit, he told an audience at the University of Queensland to loud applause.  'I want that there 50 years from now.'

Despite the official G20 agenda excluding the issue of climate change, President Obama mirrored the concerns raised by protesters outside the venue in South Brisbane, calling for developed nations to join in the 'global fight'.

While the Australian government attempted to keep the focus of the Asia-Pacific leaders summit on economic growth and jobs, Mr Obama steered the focus back to climate change, following the U.S. deal with China to slash emissions.

The U.S. President also urged younger Australians to put pressure on politicians to take action on the issue and committed $US3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to aid developing nations to assist with initiating economies that were cleaner-fueled.

Japan is also expected to unveil a $US1.5 billion contribution to the fund over the G20 summit weekend.  Civil society groups are urging Australia to make its own contribution.

President Obama's speech to several hundred lucky students was one of the hottest items on the G20 agenda, and he didn't disappoint

The Australian Marine Conservation Society said the US president had put the reef's future front and centre, and the government must stop paying lip service to serious concerns raised by UNESCO, the UN's environmental arm.

UNESCO has given Australia until February to show it is properly managing the Barrier Reef, and if the world body is not satisfied with the response, the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site 'in danger'.

Felicity Wishart, spokeswoman for the Marine Conservation Society said that it was time for the Federal and Queensland governments to 'take heed and act decisively.'

She claimed that the government had attempted to 'placate concerns by whitewashing international consternation such as that expressed by UNESCO and the World Heritage committee.'

Ms Wishart said that in order to reverse the trend, 'our governments must stop the rapid industrialisation of the coastline, driven primarily by plans for increased coal mining.'

President Obama also issued a stark warning to Russia over the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and pleaded for the world to act on climate change.

President Obama told the audience that Russian aggression was a 'threat' to the world

In the address, the president also urged the world to seal a global deal on climate change, 'because I have not had time to visit the Great Barrier Reef,' Mr Obama said, to a roar of laughter. 'And I want to come back!'

The president also acknowledged Australia has had a 'healthy debate' about action to stop climate change but he said that if China and the United States could strike a deal on the global threat - as they did earlier this week: 'We can get this done.'

After the address, Australian political bigwigs seemed to transform into political groupies, delighting in receiving a handshake from the president as he left the room.


Obama a Peking lame-duck president

Piers Akerman

IT doesn’t take much to fool the hopey-wishy media, as the announcement of a ­non-binding agreement between the US and China on global ­warming has so clearly demonstrated.

Labor and the Greens were also there, sucked in and trying to exploit the empty pledge to wedge the Abbott government on its Direct Action emission ­reduction plan.

Stripped of the pretentious verbiage, the announcement merely states that the US and China have a non-binding intention to cut C02 emissions.

The Chinese have made a Peking duck out of the lame-duck US President Barack Obama — who was resoundingly rejected by American voters at last week’s midterm ­elections.

Reader Alan M. Jones put the Obama administration’s non-binding intention “to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent” by 2025 into perspective.

He found that the US ­reduction target, based on its peak 2005 emissions baseline of 6112 million tonnes per year, if achieved, would bring US C02 emissions to about 4523 million tonnes by 2025, or to about 5318 million tonnes by 2020, or in other words about 11 per cent below 2000 US levels of 5971 million tonnes.

Owing to a combination of sluggish economic growth under the Obama presidency and the huge ­uptake of domestic gas, the US had already dropped to almost exactly that level (5383 million tonnes) by 2012.

China’s non-binding ­intention to reduce emissions from 2030 is equally laughable.

By contrast, the Abbott government has won ­binding legislation that will see Australia reduce its C02 emissions by 2020 by 5 per cent below its low 2000 ­levels, unconditionally, or 13 per cent below its similarly relatively high 2005 C02 output.

While Labor, the Greens and their media friends at the ABC and Fairfax Media have tried to beat up on the Coalition, the authoritative US journal The Hill reports from Washington that senior Republican, Senator James Inhofe, who will head the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next year, says China can’t be expected to hold up its end of the bargain.

“It’s hollow and not ­believable for China to claim it will shift 20 per cent of its energy to non-fossil fuels by 2030, and a promise to peak its carbon emissions only ­allows the world’s largest economy to buy time,” ­Inhofe said. “China builds a coal-fired power plant every 10 days, is the largest ­importer of coal in the world, and has no known ­reserves of natural gas.

“This deal is a non-­binding charade.”

China accounted for more than 70 per cent of the world’s energy consumption growth in 2011, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, and not ­unnaturally, its emissions have risen correspondingly.

China’s chief negotiator at the Doha climate change conference, Xie Zhenhua, told the Xinhua news agency that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions — which rose 171 per cent between 2000 and 2011, and by just under 10 per cent last year — would keep rising until its per capita GDP had reached $20,000 to $25,000. It currently stands at $5000.

Taking anything the ­Chinese say at face value is risky though, as the left-wingers’ bible The Guardian ­acknowledged in its report on the non-binding deal.

The paper reported that “China’s environmental authorities are notoriously opaque, making the true extent of its carbon emissions — and its progress in mitigating them — difficult to assess. In June, scientists from China, Britain and the US reviewed data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics and found that the country’s total emissions from 1997 to 2010 may be 20 per cent (1.4 billion tonnes) higher than reported.”

While a raft of NGOs ­palpitate over Australia’s role in supplying the energy that has lifted thousands of millions out of poverty in China and elsewhere, left-wing organisations rail against C02, the tasteless, odourless gas that is ­essential to plant growth and is boosting crop ­production globally.

One of Australia’s largest food producers, the Costa group, which is expanding its Guyra tomato-growing glasshouse complex and increasing its employees to about 470, generates about 1800 tonnes of C02 a year by burning propane to keep the glasshouses at a constant temperature. This C02 is ­indispensable to the growth of Costa’s tomatoes, as it is to all forms of plant life, though green-left vegetarians won’t recognise this fact.

What the luvvies like is the vibe of the empty statement. As Fairfax’s rapidly shrinking print organs ­wistfully reported, “symbolism is the most potent ­element”, as if there was some ­substance in the hot air erupting from Beijing.

With global warming alarmists unable to explain the pause in rising temperature, the failure of the IPCC to present any new data in its most recent report, and the hollowness of the ­commitment made by the world’s two biggest economies, Labor and the Greens have again shown ­themselves to be out of touch with reality.


Warmists rely on outdated data

Michael Asten, a professor of geophysics, points to inconvenient data that the IPCC has left out

THE climate lobby will be working the corridors of the G20 ­meeting in Brisbane this weekend, using the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Synthesis Report and Climate Council ­commentary.

Curiously, neither has updated the underlying observational ­science relating to climate change; the figures are subsets from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, where data and literature review stops at 2012. Observational data and climate model predictions are presented separately, concealing the uncomfortable truth of the global temperature ­hiatus, which challenges the fundamental ­assumptions of the models. It is a challenge that gets stronger every year as increasing atmospheric CO2 content is unmatched by predicted temperature increase.

How would Joe Hockey fare if he went to the G20 with economic data that was two years out of date?

While scientists published in top journals treat the temperature hiatus as fact, activists still deny its existence. Thus the Climate Council (once a proud group of government-­funded scientists in the Climate Commission, now a privately funded lobby group) claims, “Myth: The Earth has stopped warming since 1998”. Use of the word warming is imprecise, being interpreted as “temperature” or “heat content” dep­ending on the argument of the moment.

The “heat content” approach hypothesised that warming of the deep oceans was compensating for lack of global surface warming. This has been studied in a series of important papers, most recently by William Llovel and co-workers at the California Institute of Technology who used quantitative observations of global ocean mass and temperature profiles to show that the deep ocean has in fact cooled slightly in the past decade.

Failure to include this in updated assessments by the IPCC and Climate Council is inexcusable.

The hiatus in temperature can also be studied using smoothed averages. Both the Synthesis Report and the Climate Council report use old plots that show a steady rise in smoothed temperature to 2010.

Yet NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies’ global temperature graphs are updated monthly, show five-year averages, are publicly available on the internet and show average temperatures peaked in 2004 and show a decline for the following eight years. Since similar declines in global temperature occurred in 1880-1910 and 1950-75, it is reasonable to ask whether the present apparent decline is historically unusual, and why our government science advisers ­persist in the view that steady increases in atmospheric CO2 are the major driver of such changes.

If a downward trend in global temperature is confirmed in the next decade, it will be no surprise — at least three recent peer­-eviewed papers predict that — but such views are not even hinted at in the IPCC or Climate Council reviews of possible scenarios.

The dichotomy between observational data and models is similarly marked with sea-level data of the past 120 years. The rate of rise across the past century is 1.7mm a year and has increased to about 3.2mm a year across the past 20 years. The data shows that the fast 3.2mm a year rate of rise has occurred twice in historic times (around 1860-80 and 1930-50). The IPCC modelling studies of sea level rise to 2100 show up to 80cm of total rise by 2100, increasing from the present 3.2 to a predicted huge 15mm a year. These projections have immense economic and community importance, as they have been supplied to government and planning bodies for consideration of restrictions on coastal land development.

Given we have 20 years of over­lapping precise satellite ­alti­meter-observed data and the mod­els, we should have been given comparisons between sea-level data and model predictions, and assessment of any evidence for acceleration of the rate of rise in the first sixth of this century. Yet neither the IPCC nor the Climate Council, or the publicly funded CSIRO on its website, even admits the existence of recent data such as that by Anny Cazenave and co-workers at the Geophysical and Oceanography Laboratory, Toulouse, which shows that from 1994 to 2011 the rate of observed rise in global sea level decreased from 3.5 to 2.5mm a year.

It is of great concern that bodies meant to provide scientific advice are unable to admit that observations show the rate of sea level rise going in the opposite direction to predictions for the first 15 per cent of the model time span.

If Australian politicians get shirt-fronted at the G20 on climate change, they should insist on briefings on recent observational data and its implications for climate model predictions before committing taxpayer dollars to the $100 billion a year UN-led Green Climate Fund.


Save that tree!  Too bad if your house burns down

Typical Greenie disregard for people

Almost all NSW's coastal land from one end of the state to the other is affected by the controversial 10/50 bushfire clearing laws, a never-before-seen map drawn up by the NSW Rural Fire Service shows.

The laws allow people living near bushfire prone areas to remove trees within 10 metres of their house without seeking any approval, leading to concerns the green light would be given to lopping trees in sought-after suburbs.

The map, which the RFS told the NSW parliament in August did not exist, was obtained by Greens MP David Shoebridge after a Freedom of Information battle with the fire agency.

Mr Shoebridge said it shows how much land is affected by the new laws.

"The potential reach of the 10/50 laws is far greater than previously thought," Mr Shoebridge said.

"The chainsaws are loose in the third of the state where almost everybody lives, it looks like this is just the starting point for the 10/50 laws."

A spokesman for the Rural Fire Service said that "much of the NSW coast has been identified by local councils as being bushfire prone land."

"However, it would be misleading to say that most of the coastline falls within a 10/50 entitlement area, as much of this area consists of national parks, public land and private land, on which there are no homes,"  the spokesman said.

The Sun-Herald reported in August widespread concerns that the new 10/50 bushfire laws were being abused by some landowners up and down the coast felling trees and shrubs for harbour views and development potential rather than reducing bushfire risks.

Councils and community groups have complained that trees have been disappearing overnight in some Sydney suburbs. Lane Cove residents Corrine Fisher and Gaye White have recorded the felling of 240 trees in their suburb since the introduction of the laws on August 1. Ms Fisher said of those maybe five were for bushfire safety reasons.

Ms Fisher said an added complication has been that the chip bark from the felled trees was being dumped or spread around the suburb, adding to the bush fire risk. "This is a complete and utter policy failure," she said.

The new laws were introduced to give people living near fire-prone category I or category II bushland the ability to increase their level of protection against fires, after the devastating blazes that destroyed more than 200 homes last year.

An investigation by The Sun-Herald into the 10/50 laws revealed that since the laws were introduced on August 1, trees were being stripped from areas from Palm Beach to Pittwater, Mosman and Sutherland Shire to improve views and property potential.

A critically endangered remnant rainforest has been being cleared on a property at Fingal Head on the north coast and tree-lopping companies advertised discount rates for streets banding together to clear unwanted trees. Concerned residents have said almost all the central coast appears to have been affected.

Fairfax Media reportedthis week that the trees on 92 per cent of Lake Macquarie properties south of Newcastle, could be removed if the new laws stayed.

After a public outcry, the RFS has agreed to review the laws and take submissions made by the public, councils and community groups. The spokesman said by the closing date they had already received more than 1200 submissions, which would be taken into consideration.

However, residents are calling for an immediate moratorium on the laws until the review has finished and are planning a protest outside the Premier Mike Baird's office on November 24.


Conservative NSW government puts NSW coal seam gas plan on table

Coal seam gas projects would be considered for Sydney's sensitive drinking water catchments and landholders will have no legal right to refuse drilling on their land under a state government plan for the controversial industry.

The government hopes the announcement will defuse community angst over coal seam gas mining ahead of the election next March. However voters will not be told where coal seam gas mining is allowed until after the election.

Announcing the plan on Thursday, NSW Nationals leader Troy Grant said coal seam gas was the "most polarising" issue facing the government. The plan would toughen regulation and take a more strategic and transparent approach to releasing land for gas exploration, including better science and data collection.

Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said the regime would secure the state's gas supplies and drive down prices.

There is a temporary ban on coal seam gas activity in Sydney's water catchment buffer zones known as "special areas". However under the new regime, coal seam gas operations anywhere in water catchments would be considered.

The position is at odds with a 2009 promise by then opposition leader Barry O'Farrell, who said a Liberal-National government would "ensure that mining cannot occur in any water catchment area. No ifs, no buts. A guarantee".

The government said it had adopted the 16 recommendations of NSW Chief Scientist Mary O'Kane's landmark report into the industry, including rigorous enforcement, improved communication and better compensation for landholders and communities.

A new assessment framework will determine which areas are open for gas exploration, considering economic, environmental and social factors. It will not be in place until mid-2015.

Mr Grant said the government would only allow operations "where it is safe and appropriate" and all national parks and urban areas will be protected.

Coal seam gas operators Santos and AGL have agreed not to enter properties to drill without landholder consent, but the deal is not legally binding. The government's new plan does not enshrine a veto right in legislation.

However, the government will require gas companies to negotiate land access arrangements and pay compensation to landholders.

The government will extinguish 16 pending petroleum licence applications covering 43 per cent of the state, and continue a freeze on new licence applications.

The Environment Protection Authority will assume responsibility for enforcement and compliance. Existing coal seam gas projects, such as those at Camden, Gloucester and the Pilliga, will not be subject to the stricter rules. 

The Greens and Labor both claimed the plan gave the green light to the coal seam gas industry, and questioned the government's claim that Professor O'Kane's recommendations had been fully implemented.

AGL welcomed the plan, saying it acknowledged the need to secure the state's gas supplies. Santos warned the announcement must not slow existing projects.

Protect Sydney's Water Alliance spokeswoman Isabel McIntosh said coal seam gas mining can have unintended results, and the industry must be permanently barred from water catchments.


Vic Libs preference Greens last: Napthine

This refers to an important peculiarity of the Australian electoral system that non-Australians are unlikely to understand immediately:

THE Liberals will preference the Greens last in all lower house seats in the upcoming Victorian election, Premier Denis Napthine says.

DR Napthine said the Greens were bad for the economy and bad for Victoria.  "The Greens will threaten the future of our strong economy," he told reporters on Thursday.  "They will destroy jobs and put Victorian families at risk."

Dr Napthine was unclear on whether this would mean the Liberals would preference the Greens higher than controversial parties such as Rise Up Australia.

"We'll be putting the Greens last in lower house seats, and we'll be reserving judgment in the upper house," he said.  "In most cases, we'll be putting the Greens last."

Victorians go to the polls on November 29.

Dr Napthine said it was not known who all the candidates are yet, and when asked about Rise Up Australia, said: "We've got to see where they've got candidates".  "We will put the Greens last as a general rule."  "If there's extremist candidates we will consider putting them below the Greens."

The Greens say they had already assumed they wouldn't get the preferences.  "The fact is many inner city Liberal voters ignore the how-to-vote card and preference Green anyway," the party said.

Labor has already shunned a formal preference deal with the Greens.


16 November, 2014

Bigotry against conservatives in Australian universities and media

WHEN a student turns up for a social science class at an American university there is an eight to one chance the lecturer will be a Democrat voter.

Studies consistently have found that the proportion of American academics prepared to out themselves as conservative is between 4 per cent and 8 per cent.

It would be no surprise to anyone, inside or outside the academies, if a local study produced much the same result. Australian academics too fancy themselves as progressives, or liberals in the American parlance. Universities, and other cultural institutions such as the ABC, are uncomfortable places for conservatives.

This is odd, really, since no ­university these days would be complete without a solemn commitment to diversity. James Cook University in Townsville, for example, boasts of “a rich cultural and experiential diversity on campus”. It embraces “the principles of equity, access and inclusion”.

The promise of “experiential diversity”, however, does not extend to members of the cultural Right. Climate-change sceptics do not qualify as an “equity group” ­afforded special protection under the university’s equal opportun­ities employment policy.

Neither are old white males for that matter, which meant when JCU sacked professor Bob Carter he didn’t have a leg to stand on. Not literally of course, for a JCU employee who was, to use Dudley Moore’s phrase, deficient in the leg department would have many avenues of redress.

Carter, the former head of the geology department, was stripped of his adjunct professorship last year because his views on climate change were not to the univer­sity’s liking. “Sustainability”, after all, is one of JCU’s key values. So is “mutual respect”, a courtesy not extended to Carter, despite his many years of distinguished service in academe.

Thus the right to be an intellectual bigot is steadfastly upheld in almost every cultural institution in the country. The conventional wisdom on everything from climate change to the supposed depravity of the Catholic Church is enforced, often unconsciously, in multiple ways.

The paradox between academe’s proclaimed virtue of inclusiveness and the exclusion of conservative thinkers is explored in a paper to be published soon by the journal Behavioural and Brain Sciences. The authors, led by Jose L. Duarte from Arizona State University, say there was once considerable political diversity in the field of academic psychology, but it has all but disappeared in the past 50 years.

Social psychologists, of all academics, should be particularly alert to the dangers of epistemological homogeneity, or groupthink as some prefer to call it. They would be aware of the errors that can pollute the group’s thinking if no one in the room is prepared to disagree. Assumptions become embedded into theory and method, researchers concentrate on topics that support the prevailing narrative and avoid those that do not.

One explanation for academic lopsidedness, Duarte suggests, is simply that liberals find an academic career more appealing than do conservatives, particularly in a field such as social psychology.

But while self-selection is clearly part of the story, it would be ironic if the academic community used such arguments “to exonerate the community of prejudice when that same community roundly rejects those same arguments when invoked by other institutions to explain the under-representation of women or ethnic minorities”.

A robust and largely civilised debate about the under-representation of conservatives in the humanities has been running for several years in the US. It began with an address by Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind, who warned that political diversity was as important as racial, religious or gender diversity.

“The under-representation of conservatives in social psychology, by a factor of several hundred, is evidence that we are a tribal moral community that actively discourages conservatives from entering,” he said.

Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard Univer­sity, agreed that “in every room of the academy, liberals outnumber conservatives by a whopping margin”. He questioned if it was because of discrimination, however. It could be that “liberals may be more interested in new ideas, more willing to work for peanuts, or just more intelligent, all of which may push them to pursue the academic life while deterring their conservative peers”.

John Jost, professor of psychology at New York University, was more critical. The liberal philosophy is, in the end, just better. “Nearly all of the best minds in ­science find liberal ideas to be closer to the mark with respect to evolution, human nature, mental health, close relationships, intergroup relations, ethics, social ­justice, conflict resolution, environmental sustainability, and so on,” he wrote. “He (Haidt) does not even consider the possibility that research in social psychology (including research on implicit bias) bothers conservatives for the right reasons.”

One suspects that Jost’s presumption that progressive ideas are ultimately more virtuous than non-progressive thoughts is the real reason the dominant cultural class appears indifferent to the lack of intellectual diversity within the institutions.

When ABC staff look around them, for example, it surely would not escape their attention that conservatives are somewhat thin on the ground. It must feel a little odd to work in a building where hardly anybody admits to voting for Tony Abbott.

They must realise, surely, that many of their listeners and viewers (and an increasing number of ex-listeners and ex-viewers) see the world in a different light, and that they cannot all be stupid. Why, some of them can write reasonably literate letters to the editor of The Australian to say so.

Deep down, one suspects, it is just as Jost implies, and they are working under the delusion that they are members of that fortunate group that sees the world in more sophisticated terms than those unreconstructed conservatives do.

Maybe they do, or maybe don’t. What is clear, however, as any social psychologist will tell you, is that institutions are diminished when the conventional wisdom becomes entrenched, groupthink takes hold and dissident voices are treated with contempt.


HALAL FEELS THE PINCH .. as social media exposes the scam

It took a country mum by the name of Kirralie Smith of who was disgusted by what she learnt about halal and went on a mission to eradicate it. Now the Muslim extortion racket is coming apart at the seams along with the Islamic State’s source of funds from Australia.

By the WA Islamic Council President, Dr Rateb Jneid’s own admission, in his annual report, halal receipts are sent to terrorist organisations in Syria, disguised as donations to needy causes, through sham “charity” companies.

Muslims have never donated anything to anyone unless it’s a cause that kills infidels or other Muslims.

Major Australian companies are now running for cover as they hurriedly delete those little Arabic logos from their products.

One of the worst offenders, Cadburys, for the first time had to temporarily close their doors due to lack of orders.

Halal certification, a mafia style extortion racket, began with the slaughtering of livestock to Islamic specifications but has spread to everything from fish and Vegemite to plastic containers and fruit, increasing the price to Australian consumers by billions.

Exporters are targeted by dozens of competing Muslim “certifiers” who threaten that their export markets will be trashed (and they have been) unless they pay up, but those exporters are now losing their domestic markets and are trying to obscure their compliance with Muslim demands.

No-one lies as well as a Muslim lies and when they say animals are allowed to be stunned prior to slaughter, it’s yet another lie. Livestock under the halal rite must first be mistreated and forced to watch the slaughter of other animals, trembling in fear as they anticipate their own fate.

They must be made to face Mecca as the slaughtering process starts. With their hearts pounding rapidly, so as to excrete as much blood as is possible from their bodies, they feel their throats being cut from ear to ear. The longer they stay alive the more unwanted blood is lost.

When the animal dies, only then will the blood flow stop. Only then has the halal slaughter of an animal been accomplished.

To extend halal compliance to fish and plastic containers is a nonsense but Islamic Councils world-wide have stumbled on a two trillion dollar industry that further imposes their will on the West. They will not give it up without a fight and it sure beats working for a living.

Do not expect Western governments to stop it, there are too many trade-exposed export industries at risk of being shut down if halal compliance isn’t met.

But social media is attacking domestic markets distorted by halal accreditation and it’s making huge inroads.

“Dominance” is a key word in Islam; dominance over women, little girls, animals and infidels, the visual dominance of mosques and the eventual dominance of Islam itself.

Is it any wonder the archaic cult of Islam has not been a positive factor in Western multiculturalism.

N.B. Islamic dominance over animals is entrenched in the teachings of the Koran where sexual gratification from an owner’s livestock is permitted but the Koran then instructs that the abused animal must not be eaten but can be sold for consumption to other Muslims.

Yet not a word from the Left who are besotted by the fallacious "mistreatment" of racehorses.


Gender wars are a bore

“Stop whingeing, get on with it and prove them all wrong.” So says Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in the latest edition of Harper’s Bazaar , in which she is named Woman of the Year.

Another woman in a leadership position, Gail Kelly, who has just resigned as CEO of Westpac, was quoted in the AFR’s BOSS magazine earlier this year advising women in particular to, “[b]e courageous, and be prepared to take the opportunities and the challenges that come your way.”

These are sentiments with which I wholeheartedly agree. I have rarely encountered sexism in the workplace and I suspect it’s because I take a similar approach to Bishop, and I like to think I have also taken on the opportunities and challenges that have come my way, as Kelly suggests. The fact I am a woman has absolutely no bearing on how I perform at, and approach, work.

I’m not saying gender bias doesn’t exist. Study after study finds a clear and growing income disparity between the sexes. There has also been very little progress in achieving a gender balance in senior leadership positions in Australian businesses.

But money aside, I have never been placed at a disadvantage at work simply because I am female. In most offices in which I have worked, the attitude by all has been: just get on with the job. Without fail, the colleagues I have watched do that - male or female - have succeeded and risen through the ranks. Not because or in spite of  their gender, but because they did a good job.

I have never seen men promoted above me just because of their gender. I have never seen men given opportunities just because of their sex.

I stress that that’s just my experience and I would encourage other people who have been held back because of their gender to share their stories in the comments section.

All I’m saying is that I have never let sexism affect me at work, and I think the reason why is because I don’t labour the gender issue. I just get on with it.

A couple of times I have had usually older male colleagues try to go over my head to get their own way about something, or to influence my superiors to make me do something. But this is a foolhardy approach.

Trying to call on the old boys’ network to get your own way rarely works. But it does give me an insight into the character of the person behind the behaviour. People who act this way would be better off approaching me directly than going behind my back.

A while back I wrote about  the inappropriate male gaze. But the only thing the guy who acted like this accomplished with his gawking was to out himself for the person he really was. He will be known forevermore among the women who witnessed his actions as the guy who couldn’t keep his eyes to himself. Whenever we come across him in the future that’s what will spring to mind, and we’ll be wary and less trusting of him, which will impact his ability to get his job done.

We’re a long way from the point at which we can claim to live in a post-sexist world. But what I’m suggesting is that men who behave in a sexist fashion in the modern business context make life tougher for themselves; something that probably could not have been said 20 years ago. In the same way, women who overemphasise gender bias in the workplace don’t do themselves any favours either.

If you are experiencing blatant sexism at work, make full use of the company’s HR procedures and workplace equality laws to address the situation.

But if you’re not, stop focusing on gender politics and throw your energy behind doing an exceptional job, one your superiors can’t ignore. It has certainly worked for Julie Bishop and it can work for you, too.


Not all boycotts are equal at the ABC

Muslims can be violently "homophobic" and that is fine.  Woe to others who show any sign of it, however

Aren’t we lucky to have Aunty ABC.  It’s renowned for its objectivity in reporting and unbiased manner.  And that is why its approach to two similar stories is starkly different.

When Barilla Pasta hit the headlines recently for refusing to advertise its food with pictures of homosexual men and their surrogate children, the ABC report gave the gay militants a good run.

A very good run.  Online petitions in Europe were mentioned. Three of them. Plus a petition started by a lesbian in the United States named Beth Allen. She was also quoted and two ‘gay rights’ groups were given coverage.

All of these individuals and organisations were described in a ‘positive’ way, with an emphasis on their support for ‘equal rights’. There was no mention anywhere that the pro-gay militants might be displaying ‘heterophobia’.

And, of course, not one traditional family or conservative group was mentioned or given an opportunity to speak.

The story was overwhelmingly about presenting the concerns of those who wanted to boycott the ‘bigots’ at Barilla Pasta. And, after reading it, one had the distinct impression that the only person in the world who didn’t want homosexual families plastered all over pasta packaging was the Barilla chairman.

I particularly liked this quote from the Washington DC-based Human Rights Campaign:

“Now, more than ever, consumers are sending a message that they are watching to see if the business they patronise, understand and honour issues important to them”

The message is loud and clear. If a food company from a Christian country decides that homosexual advertising is likely to put people off their dinner, human rights groups are going to get a good run at the ABC.

Given the fact that the ABC will report negatively on a company that is deemed ‘anti-gay’ simply because it won’t make rainbow coloured pasta to meet the whims and fancies of homosexual activists, you’d think there would be a media frenzy over halal certification.

Yet companies are lining up to pay for religious certification from organisations that follow the teachings of Mohammad. And he didn’t just say he believed that pasta packaging adorned with homosexuals was a bad idea. He commanded that homosexuals should be executed.

And don’t take my word for it. Take it from those who recorded his actions, like Sunan Abu Dawood.

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” -- Book 38, Number 4447.

And in Islamic countries that is exactly what happens. Homosexuals are executed in Iran.  Homosexuals are executed in Saudi Arabia.  Homosexuals are executed in Iraq. By the good guys that we are now fighting with.  And the Sultan of Brunei has just decreed that homosexuals can be executed there too.

And every time a company signs up for halal certification, a percentage of the profits go towards spreading the message of the prophet. It doesn’t really matter whether it goes to those who spread it with an AK-47 and a suicide vest or to those who just lobby for the friendly mosque and Islamic school down the road.

They all spread the same message.  You know, the one that says homosexuals should be killed. The disagreement is just the manner in which it should be done. Some say stoning. Others say burning. And others say they should be thrown head first from the highest pinnacle (and then stoned).

Of course, this can’t be done yet in places like Australia. It is in the ‘Meccan’ period, where Islam is not in control. First, Australia must be made like ‘Medina’, where Islam flourished. And halal certification fees are simply a means by which ‘Meccan’ Australia is transformed into ‘Medinan’ Australia. And when we get there, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Mardi Gras won’t be part of Sydney’s annual calendar.

So how did the ABC report the story about Australians who campaigned to have Fleurieu Milk abandon its plans for halal certification?

Did this unbiased organisation take the same approach as it did to Barilla Pasta and fill its report with quotes about righteously aggrieved consumers sending a message to companies that they need to understand and honour the issues that are important to them?

No.  Instead, the ABC failed to mention one group concerned about halal certification or the reasons why this concern exists.  It failed to mention one individual concerned about halal   certification.  It failed to mention any of the petitions that had been set up to express this concern.

But it did give an Islamic spokesperson an opportunity to rabbit on about ‘Islamophobia’.

And it portrayed opponents to halal certification as aggressive, harsh bullies.

In short, when the ABC reported on Barilla Pasta, the story presented the consumer advocates in a positive light and gave them plenty of space to speak. Those who held different views were not even mentioned. But when the ABC reported on Fleurieu Milk, it gave the consumer advocates no space at all and instead went and interviewed their opponents.

Biased? Absolutely.  Objective? Not at all.

That’s someone else’s ABC for you. It’s an organisation devoted to pushing the views of the intellectual elite. It’s an organisation that makes a virtue out of hypocrisy.

And it is not prepared to ask any of the hard questions. If it did, the ABC might start asking LGBT lobby groups why they whip themselves into a frenzy over a decision to advertise in ‘family-friendly’ way, but are completely silent when it comes to paying a certification fee that will further the spread of a religious belief that executes homosexuals.


Politically correct giving?

Questions over Katy Perry's choice of school for cash prize. Is it wrong to give prizes for excellence?  Must all prizes go to the poor?

Schools for children with disabilities have questioned a decision by Katy Perry and tour sponsor to give a $10,000 cash prize to Loreto Mandeville Hall College's performing arts facilities.

Telstra said the decision to choose Loreto Mandeville, an independent girls' school in Toorak, came directly from Perry, who is in Melbourne performing her Prismatic tour and that there was no interference.

"I picked you guys out of 300 different submissions from all over Australia, there are four girls that we should all thank because they made the most adorable, sweet, innocent, full-of-life, full-of-joy video – and I picked that one," she told her fans at Loreto on Thursday.

Perry visited the Toorak college yesterday which won a nationwide competition.

"I'm not one to complain but I think it's a shame when there's a lot of other struggling schools who want to expand their performing arts," said Karen Taylor, executive assistant to the CEO at Mater Dei in Camden, NSW. 

"Purely based on appearances I don't know if that school [Loreto Mandeville] would necessarily need an additional extra $10,000 for their faculty when they already have a fully fledged orchestra and a state-of-the-art performing arts department," she said.

Ms Taylor also said their school's submission did not have the resources to submit a professional-looking video.

"Loreto did a fantastic compilation of what their school was doing but theirs looked professionally done and they've clearly got the resources for that," she said.

Frankston's BAM Allstars dance group for children with different abilities also applied.

"We are wanting to develop a program to take into special schools. Most of them don't have a performing arts program at all," said founder Lisa Murphy.


14 November, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks he knows why China agreed to Obama's climate push

Tony Abbott says jobs and growth, not climate, top of the G20 agenda

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has insisted jobs and economic growth, not "what might happen in 16 years' time" on climate change will be front and centre at the G20 summit in Brisbane, even as senior US officials said climate change was an issue for the global economy.

In an extraordinary statement, Mr Abbott, who last month said "coal is good for humanity" and would remain an "essential part of our economic future" in Australia and right around the world, argued "for Australia, I'm focusing not on what might happen in 16 years' time, I'm focusing on what we're doing now and we're not talking, we're acting" despite the long-ranging superpowers' climate deal.

In Washington, US State Department senior spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that at the G20 meeting "there will be a focus on economic issues and how we are co-ordinating with the global economy. Climate in our view is part of that".

In Beijing, analysts told Fairfax Media China was unlikely to push as hard as the US appeared to be doing to put climate talks on the G20 agenda.

The Prime Minister's comments came after the United States and China announced a deal that will see the US target an emissions cut of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025 and as China pledged to cap growing carbon emissions by 2030.

The federal government's Direct Action policy, in contrast, mandates a 5 per cent cut in emissions by 2020 against 2000 levels, a target Mr Abbott said he was confident Australia would hit.

While Mr Abbott and his most senior ministers, including Joe Hockey and Julie Bishop, welcomed the US-China deal on Thursday,  they hosed down its immediate impact on Australia's post-2020 emissions reduction target, which is due to ne set in the first half of 2015.

Mr Abbott has resisted attempts to make climate change a high priority agenda item for the G20 summit of world leaders and Mr Hockey said climate change would only be "part of the agenda" while accusing companies who do not pay tax where they earn profits of committing "theft".

Mr Abbott said the US and China were the "two most significant countries and they're obviously the two biggest emitters" but said that at the APEC Beijing conference "climate change was hardly mentioned".

Forthcoming climate conferences in Lima and Paris would focus on the environment and he expected at the G20 "if other countries want to raise other subjects they're entirely welcome to do so but my focus, and I believe the principal focus, of the conference will be on growth and jobs".

In Washington, Ms Psaki said the US hoped the China climate deal would provide momentum for further international action and "I am certain in bilateral meetings the issue of climate, as we look to the Paris negotiations a year from now, will be a part of the agenda" at the G20.

The joint US-China announcement is seen as deft diplomacy by Chinese President Xi Jinping, with the deal seen as symbolically important, as China's economy has already begun shifting away from dirty coal and its 2030 target is not seen as overly ambitious.

Wang Tao, a Beijing-based climate change expert at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy, said the joint announcement was a "clear signal" that would have leverage and implications on potential negotiations around climate change at the G20.

"It's regrettable that Australia's scrapped the carbon tax and it's actually moving on the other direction from everyone else in the climate change negotiations," Dr Wang said.


Back to exams rather than university assessment

In my undergraduate years in the early 1980s I once stood up in class and challenged the lecturer for setting a 100 per cent end-of-semester exam. University policy gave students the right to be consulted on how they were evaluated and we lefty students were in favour of continuous assessment – several pieces of work rather than just one big roll of the dice. It seemed fairer. Now, having worked for 25 years as an academic, I have changed my mind.

This is not because I've become a born-again traditionalist - exams can be brutal and are not always the best measure of ability - but because the internet has changed things completely. There seems to be no alternative. Cheating is so easy that even the most credulous academic finds it hard to trust prepared work. This week's revelation of the widespread trade in ghost-written essays simply confirms anecdotal evidence that some students are gaming the system.

We often hear from students that they are pushed for time, that part-time jobs and personal commitments get in the way of essay deadlines. But many find it hard to avoid the temptation to procrastinate, because the laptops on which they research and write are also devices for play and communication. Of these a small number might be tempted to buy essays as a way of crisis managing the consequences of poor time management.

Others cheat because their writing skills are underdeveloped and they are convinced they will fail. This is a particular problem for overseas students from non-English-speaking backgrounds. There have been numerous reports of fraud in English-language testing like IELTS and so it is clear that some are admitted to degree courses without the language skills necessary for academic writing. Nobody enjoys assessing the work of someone who, while probably capable of great lucidity in their first language, has such poor grammar and syntax when writing in English.

The other factor that drives the increased readiness to cheat is that where students pay for their education, and where they believe they are likely to fail, there is a clear material incentive. It may cost a couple of hundred dollars to buy an essay, but the expense is much higher if you have to repeat the course/unit, especially for fee-paying overseas students.

If buying essays is a problem, plagiarism is a bigger one. It can begin at school, where overworked teachers find it difficult to deter lazy cut-and-paste habits, and can continue into post-school education. Much has been written about universities' use of plagiarism detection software, but this is by no means fail-safe. Not all sources are searchable, but more importantly university misconduct processes are so time consuming that many academics would rather avoid them and find other grounds to fail a student's work when they suspect cheating. Many are, like careworn old school cops, frustrated when students evade the rap on appeal, or receive lenient punishment.

So in this age of drag and drop, of online trade in essays, exams are something of a last resort: not ideal but a better way to test ability than the alternatives. They do not suit the students who suffer a form of stage fright under exam conditions but there are things we can do to mitigate this – give them much more time than they should ordinarily need, and even provide them with sample questions beforehand.

Those of us from universities that embrace the "anywhere-anytime" world of blended learning are being encouraged to use online assessment. Why, we are asked, do all students need to be simultaneously in the one place when sitting an exam? Earlier this year for the first time, I set a web-based 30-minute quiz that could be started by students at any time in a 90-minute window in the comfort of their study or bedroom (or on their smartphone in the shopping mall if they wished). This seemed to work reasonably well, but there is really no way for us to prevent collusion unless students are gathered together in a room under conditions of invigilation.

But this is the era of the sovereign educational consumer whose satisfaction is paramount. Those of us who work in universities know that, in a system where funding follows student demand, we have jobs only because they choose to study with us. But is there a tension between student satisfaction and scholarly rigour?

Academic promotion and career prospects depend on students approving of our work. Teaching evaluation surveys are now completely standard, even required in many universities. Obviously those with lively and compelling teaching techniques perform better in these surveys but it is also true that lecturers who lavish praise on their students, evaluate them highly, are themselves more likely to receive higher ratings.

The most damaging thing about the revelations of systematic cheating is that they undermine public confidence in the integrity of universities, suggesting that mediocrity has displaced meritocracy. In the deregulated environment being proposed by Christopher Pyne, this is only likely to get worse. If a degree is primarily a market commodity, and where universities rely more and more on the profits from selling that commodity, then it stands to reason that it will be a struggle to maintain academic standards.

The various scandals from the vocational education sector - where overseas students pay hefty fees for sham courses to fulfil their visa requirements – are salutary. They might provide a taste of what is to come for universities. Maybe the only solution is to get back to basics.


Mexicans seem to be the latest group who must be shielded from imitators

Imitation is often said to be the sincerest form of flattery but Leftists don't seem able to  consider that

It was to be a Mexican fiesta, complete with sombreros and ponchos. But Sydney University's annual staff Christmas party will be without a theme this year after students and academics complained it was racist.

The university's vice-chancellor, Michael Spence, has been forced to email all staff and tell them to ignore the suggested theme and dress code on the invite, which was sent to hundreds of staff.

"Some of you have since written to me or other senior members of the university to express concern about the theme of the party, particularly in light of recent tragic events in southwest Mexico that you may have seen reported in the media," Professor Spence wrote in his email.

"Our celebrations will proceed on 10 December, but I have today asked the event organisers to amend our plans so that the party has no particular theme."

Eden Caceda, an office-bearer with the university's Autonomous Collective Against Racism, told Fairfax Media that students were deeply offended by the invitation.

"We found it to be culturally insensitive, especially considering the horrible events that happened lately with the 43 children in Mexico," Mr Caceda said.

Mexican gang suspects have confessed to slaughtering 43 missing students and dumping their charcoaled remains in a river.

"We felt the vice-chancellor was perpetrating insidious stereotypes about Mexican people and its culture."

Mr Caceda, a second year arts student, said some people had suggested that the collective's stance was taking political correctness too far.

"I would say that is not the case. If you have any Mexican heritage in you, you would see this party as offensive and uninformed.

"I am Hispanic and I have some traditions from Mexican culture and the vice-chancellor's invite said 'bring your own sombreros and ponchos', which reduces Mexican culture to just a costume," Mr Caceda said.

"My family has a poncho and it is really important to us, and these people are treating it like a costume."

Mr Caceda said the collective managed to have a Day of the Dead party cancelled last year. The Day of the Dead remembers family and friends who have died.

"There is a push back on the idea that you can turn any culture into a dress-up," Mr Caceda said.


Being saved by strangers is not the same as being stolen

SENATOR Nova Peris could help explode the “stolen generations” myth that now menaces Aboriginal children.

Why menaces? Take the first protest ahead of this weekend’s G20 summit in Brisbane. Brisbane’s Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy held a “Stop Stealing Our Children” rally to protest against another “stolen generation” — the alleged taking of thousands of children just because they were Aborigines.

Some 14,000 Aboriginal children are in out-of-home care, and “Aunty” Rhonda told ABC radio welfare workers were too quick to remove them. “They need to leave them alone and leave them there.”

In fact, Aboriginal children are eight times more likely to be abused or neglected, and leaving them could kill them.

Indeed, children in Western Australia and NSW have died after social workers refused to remove them to avoid repeating the “stolen generations”.

One 10-year-old girl was even taken from her loving white foster family by welfare workers concerned she’d been “stolen” from her culture and was returned to Aurukun, where she was again pack-raped.

Yet the “stolen generation” is a myth. No academic or Aboriginal group has yet met my challenge to produce even 10 names of children stolen just for being Aboriginal.

Even so, no politician dares question the myth for fear of seeming racist. But Peris could. This Northern Territory Labor senator has Aboriginal ancestry and more licence to speak the truth.

True, Peris’ official Labor biography does state: “Her mother, grandmother and grandfather are all members of the ‘stolen generations’.”

But she could correct that. After all, the Federal Court found in its famous “stolen generation” test case the “evidence does not support a finding that there was any policy of removal of part-Aboriginal children such as that alleged” — at least in the territory.

Moreover, in an interview with activist Anne Summers, Peris said her mother, Joan, and three siblings were actually sent to a Catholic mission after their mother developed typhoid and couldn’t look after them.

Joan later chose to stay with foster parents in Adelaide, and when she returned to Darwin found her mother was a very heavy drinker.

The same interview told how Peris’ grandfather, of Aboriginal and Filipino descent, was given up by his mother.

To be abandoned by your mother is tragic, but to be saved by strangers is not to be “stolen”.

Such language feeds a myth that kills. Let’s rescue the truth — and the children.


13 November, 2014

The sad decay of Bob Carr (Once ALP Premier of NSW, Once Foreign Minister)

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

As an American who is married to an Australian, whose children are Australian citizens, and who visits this beautiful country annually, I care deeply when the decency of Australia is maligned by the likes of Bob Carr. His vicious assault on Israel demands a response.

In April of this year Carr made his bid for continued relevance by signing on to a version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in a bizarre claim that Melbourne’s Jewish lobby controls Australia’s Middle East foreign policy. To be sure, a distressed former political figure scapegoating the Jews with claims of Jewish control of governments to get into the news is nothing new. And it usually works. Carr’s book, Diary of a Foreign Minister which, like himself, would have been relegated to obscurity, sold a couple more copies through the press coverage he received with his claims of a Jewish conspiracy. Still, it’s sad to see a once-influential man reduced to crude antisemitism to remain relevant.

But not content to impugn the Jews of Melbourne with the scandalous charge of dual loyalty, Carr has just come out with his newest allegation. Israel is an apartheid state committed to disenfranchising the Palestinians, as evidenced by their expansion of settlements. It is for this reason, Carr claims, that he is turning on Israel and becoming a supporter of Palestine instead.

In this too Carr is wholly unoriginal. If you’re going to savage the Jewish state surely you can do so by saying something novel? But is this all we get, the over-roasted chestnut of Israel as pre-Mandela South Africa?

But in his obsession with Jewish world domination there are things that Carr omits.

He omits the fact that the land ceded by Israel to the Palestinians in peace deals has been transformed every time into terrorist enclaves.

He omits the fact that Hamas is a genocidal organization committed in its charter to Israel’s destruction and the murder of Jews worldwide.

He omits the fact that the Palestinian Authority is now a dictatorship run by Mahmoud Abbas who has not gone to elections in more than a decade.

He omits the fact that Abbas runs a kleptocracy enriching his sons Tarik and Yasser who illegally control the construction and cigarette trade, among other lucrative industries.

He omits the fact that Nelson Mandela was a true apostle of peace who languished in jail for 27 years, while Yasser Arafat is the father of international terrorism who made his name by blowing up children.

He omits the fact that Arab citizens of Israel enjoy more rights than Arabs anywhere in the Middle East. In his charges of Jewish racism he omits the fact that Arabs serve at the highest levels of Israeli officialdom, including the Supreme Court, something unthinkable in an apartheid regime.

He omits the fact that Israeli hospitals treated Abbas’ wife and the daughter of the current Hamas leader.

He omits the fact that the single greatest threat to world civilization today is not the Jews and the puny State of Israel but radical Islamic terrorism which is producing monsters like ISIS, Hamas, and Boko Haram.

Oh, were it so, Bob, that Australia’s biggest worry was Melbourne’s Jews, a community famous for its philanthropy, civic responsibilities, and patriotism.

All this Carr omits as he assails the Jews as apartheid racists. And in so doing Carr not only shows his cards but offends the brave black population of South Africa who are models of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Sorry, Mr. Carr, but the Jews are the indigenous people of Israel. It is not I who says it but your own Christian Bible.

Read the New Testament and try and find mention of a single Arab resident of ancient Israel.

The Jews were the land’s inhabitants and they were displaced by a European colonial occupier named Rome. They were forcibly removed from their land and displaced for 2000 years, while a small remnant always remained. The Jews prayed thrice daily to return to their land. And when finally granted the political opportunity, they came and drained the swamps, irrigated the sands and made the land so much more inhabitable for Arab brethren that had migrated in the interim.

    The Jews were happy to share the land but it was a sentiment that was sadly rejected by the Arabs.

    They rejected the 1936 Peel Commission Partition.

    They rejected the 1947 UN partition plan. They rejected Israel’s offers to return all conquered 1967 lands with their famous three “No’s” in Khartoum: No peace, No recognition, No negotiation.

    And they turned the Oslo peace accords – which granted Arafat political autonomy over 95% of the Palestinian population – into a murder-fest by launching a never-ending terror war against Israel’s buses, schools, and cafes.

Rather than Western statesmen like Carr demanding from the Palestinians to stop the never-ending incitement against the Jews and the promises to push them into the sea, rather than calling out Mahmoud Abbas for his monstrous lies about an Israeli genocide in Gaza, rather than objecting to the rampant assassination of Palestinian gay men by Hamas and the honor killings of innocent women, Carr would defend this barbarity by pointing the finger at the Middle East’s only democracy.

Australians are some of the warmest, tolerant, and peace-loving people on earth. Australia is a model of social harmony and ethnic integration. Australia took in scores of holocaust survivors who fled Hitler’s ovens after World War II. Australians love and support Israel. I know that they will reject pathetic attempts at Jewish character assassination leveled by desperate former politicos like Bob Carr.


Australian Labor Party walks away from renewable energy negotiations

Labor has quit its negotiations with the Abbott government about Australia's renewable energy target saying there is "no prospect of reaching an agreement".

In an escalation of the high stakes clash over Australia's energy future, the opposition's environment spokesman, Mark Butler, has written to Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane to end discussions that were aimed at restoring bipartisan support for the renewable energy policy.

In a letter to Mr Macfarlane on Tuesday, Mr Butler said that the government's plan to dramatically scale back the target had not budged throughout weeks of negotiations.

He said Labor would not "stand by and watch" billions of dollars in investment in Australia's renewable energy sector head overseas because of deep cuts to the target.

Mr Butler wrote that while Labor was committed to restoring bipartisan consensus, it "will not support certainty if that means certainty of destroying the renewable energy sector".

"Considering the Government's fundamental position remains a 40 per cent cut to the RET, I do not see there being any value in continuing discussions at this point in time," the letter says.

The parties had been in talks since Mr Macfarlane confirmed three weeks ago the government wanted to wind back the target to a so-called "real 20 per cent".

That would be done by reducing the agreed green energy target of 41,000 gigawatt hours of baseline power by 2020 to about 26,000 gigawatt hours.

It is understood Labor had been seeking to negotiate an agreement that would set the target in the mid-to-high thirties as a compromise to try to restore investment certainty for the clean energy industry.

The $20 billion alternative energy sector has been plunged into uncertainty since the government launched a review of the target, headed by businessman and climate sceptic Dick Warburton.

Mr Butler acknowledged on Tuesday that walking away from negotiations would not return certainty to an industry that was relying on bipartisan support for Australia's target to attract continued investment.

But he said the gap between the government and Labor on clean energy policy was simply too great for the parties to reach agreement.

"Labor held a number of talks with Abbott government ministers to explore any options we could find to get this policy back on the rails and restore investor confidence," Mr Butler told Fairfax Media.

"But it is clear from the discussions that the Abbott government remains committed to making deep cuts to the renewable energy target that will be enormously damaging to the industry.

"On that basis Labor has reached the view that there's no value in continuing these discussions because there is no prospect of reaching an agreement."


Must not disrespect Vegans

What's a Vegan doing in a hamburger restaurant anyway?

A Hunter restaurant owner says he has received threats and is afraid for the safety of his workmates after comments on Facebook about a vegan customer.

Mark Clews, part-owner of Tuk Tuk – in the Tempus Two complex at Pokolbin – was deluged with online complaints and phone calls after he said a customer's clothing was probably made in a "sweat shop"

"Well we had our first ever vegan in yesterday. Wearing a tie dyed T-shirt, I'm serious, didn't matter that it was made in a Chinese sweat shop.  Anyway it went as well as could be expected," he continued, adding the woman was told her felafel burger would be cooked on the same grill as meat but ate it anyway."

After the comment, Mr Clews was hit with a torrent of complaints on his page.

"To publicly shame a customer with special dietary requirements, comment on her attire and be so blatantly nasty is inexcusable. I will never step foot in this establishment," one reviewer said.

"Rude and disgusting," another added.

In screen-shots of posts, Mr Clews refuses to apologise and labels detractors "vegan Nazis".

Although he originally stood by his "flippant" comments on social media,  Mr Clews later told the Newcastle Herald he would apologise to the customer if she came back.

Mr Clews said disgruntled social media users had tracked down his mobile number and made threatening calls up until midnight. He feared for his safety and that of his family: "What I have learnt is some people have thinner skins than I."


Ban On 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' Among Melbourne Kindergarteners

The word "black" in the nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep is derogatory and racial for its allusion to black people—an implication that can be derived from the decision of staff at childcare centres in the Southeastern suburbs to change the lyric of the song. Also, a childcare centre in Melbourne mulls alteration to the line "one for the little boy who lives down the lane" for sexist insinuation, the Herald Sun reports.

The decision sparked unwanted reaction from parents saying the desire for political correctness was overblown. One parent said the rhyme is in no way alluding to a race. Another parent, who said he had black skin, said the issue is becoming a joke. While one parent pointed out there are black sheep and there are white sheep, the decision is like banning the use of the colour black.

Speaking to the Herald Sun, Celine Pieterse, co-ordinator of Malvern East's Central Park Child Care, said it will be more appropriate to introduce a variety of the sheep instead of banning the term "black." The term denotes the colour of the sheep and nothing else, Belli Spanos, owner of Bubbles Pre-School, told the Herald Sun.

The song's political correctness has actually been a long running issue. Back in 2000, a school council inspector in Birmingham City had told schools in the region not to teach the song anymore. The inspector said the song is filled with all the negative connotations like being the "black sheep of the family." The inspector also underlined the negative history behind the song, saying it originated back in the time of slavery. "The rhyme has colonial links: 'Three bags full' refers to the three bags of wool which the slaves were told to collect and 'yes sir, yes sir' is how the slaves would reply to the slave masters when told to do a task," the inspector was quoted saying.

The Birmingham City Council ruled otherwise, scrapping the advice. Parents had appealed the advice was ridiculous. The song had since been taught as is.


Europcar again

Rental car company Europcar will be prosecuted for allegedly deceptive conduct and unfair contracts in a test case that could have far-reaching implications for the vehicle hire industry.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges Europcar misled customers about how much they were liable for in the event of damage to hire cars and wants some conditions in its rental agreements removed.

It launched proceedings against the hire car business in the Federal Court after examining its processes as part of a review of consumer contracts across the airline, teleco, fitness and travel industries. 

The ACCC said unfair terms in Europcar's rental contracts should be made void, including charging customers a damage liability fee – irrespective of whether they were at fault – when their hire car is damaged, stolen or if there is third party loss.

The watchdog also wants removed clauses exposing customers to full liability for damage in cases where they breached their contract, regardless of how trivial the breach is or whether the breach caused the damage.

Chairman Rod Sims said Europcar customers were charged a damage liability fee of up to $3650 and that it was not always reimbursed if the company recovered the money elsewhere.

"It's common to have a damage liability fee and why we're concerned both with Europcar and with others is that they immediately deduct it when you have this damage, yet they may well recover the money from the person who was at fault," he said.

"They're taking the money off who they can get it [from] and then they have no incentive to pursue it further."

The ACCC also alleges Europcar engaged in deceptive conduct and made misleading claims on its website about customers' maximum liability when a vehicle was damaged or when there was third party loss.

Mr Sims said certain damage to hire cars, such as to the roof, underbody or some types of water damage, could leave customers exposed to more liability than they thought they signed up for.

"Europcar is representing that the maximum amount you can pay is 'x' when in fact it is not," Mr Sims said, quoting a recent complaint from a customer who was charged $16,000 for damage to the roof of a hire car that they thought was capped at $3650.

"What's different with Europcar is that they'll charge you unlimited amounts for certain types of damage and we judge that consumers weren't told about that," he said.

Europcar hit back at the ACCC's allegations, issuing a statement rejecting suggestions its damage liability fee was unfair and vowing to oppose an attempt to prevent it being charged.

Responding to the allegation that customers were liable for trivial breaches, a spokeswoman said senior staff always reviewed cases involving potential contract breaches.

The company also denied allegations that it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations, saying full disclosure of customers' liability is available on its website.

It said the allegations would be "robustly defended". "Europcar has invested substantial resources in making the booking process fully transparent and user friendly and has attempted to engage with the ACCC as part of an industry-wide review and inquiry into the car rental industry."

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in February.


12 November, 2014

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews backs family impact statements

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has backed a British government move to ensure all its policies support stable family life, even joking that its Work and Pensions Secretary got the idea from him.

David Cameron's conservative government has recently introduced a "families test" to make sure all new laws and policies support "strong and stable" families.

This involves five questions that must be addressed before ministers can agree on a new policy. It includes the impact on family formation, families going through "transitions" such as having a baby, getting married and bereavement as well as before, during and after a divorce.

Mr Andrews told Fairfax Media the British families test was a "useful tool" to focus attention on issues, adding he had been thinking about something similar for "some time".

In his 2012 book Maybe 'I do', Mr Andrews described a family impact statement for all legislative proposals as "desirable" but said it needed to be assessed by a body independent from the policymaker to be effective. In the book, Mr Andrews also suggested the test ask questions around the enhancement of stable marriage, the ability of parents to have children, good parenting skills and parental involvement with children after a separation.

"I'm not going to claim that [UK Work and Pensions Secretary] Iain Duncan Smith pinched my idea ... but there are some similarities," he said.

The Social Services Minister has been pushing for a greater emphasis on early intervention and prevention measures to address social problems, which would include looking at ways to make sure Australians adapt smoothly to significant "life points".

He is a long-time advocate of marriage and keeping families "intact".

Mr Andrews said he had not yet spoken to his Abbott government colleagues about a families test for Australia and said that if he were to go ahead with the idea, he would begin with his own Department of Social Services.

"If we used it in my portfolio area and it proved to be useful and resilient, then obviously we could look at how we could apply it more broadly," he said. 

Mr Andrews said it was a "bit cheeky" to suggest that Mr Duncan Smith had borrowed his idea about the families test, but noted that the Work and Pensions Secretary – who is thanked in the introduction of Maybe 'I do' – had read his book.

The Social Services Minister said he hoped to travel to Britain next year to see how the families test was working as well as the country's bid to streamline the number of welfare payments.

During the Rudd government, a family impact statement was made mandatory for all cabinet submissions, but its focus was on financial impact and access to government services.


Abbott adviser Mark Textor warns on tax

One of Tony Abbott's most trusted advisers, Mark Textor, has slammed technology giants such as Apple and Google for dodging tax on online content, while local television stations pay hefty fees.

"Why are people taxing Channel Nine but not Google?" he said in an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media ahead of the G20 summit in Brisbane this week.

"The TV industry is being asked to pay licence fees and taxes while there's a seismic shift to online content. The poor old TV stations that employ local people, and have to produce local content, are paying taxes, while Google, Apple and others provide content that doesn't necessarily line up to moral obligations or tax obligations."

Mr Textor is managing director of consulting firm Crosby Textor, which does lobbying work on behalf of peak body Free TV Australia.

He has built his career on political campaigns and analysing polling trends, said governments needed to work harder to find a solution to tax dodging.

"We are entering the period of tax wars instead of trade wars," he said. "People vote in governments to solve the problem, and giant multinationals not paying tax is a problem."

On the wider issue of GST reform, Mr Textor criticised business for failing to help the government sell the case for change. He said voters would never agree to a rise in the goods and services tax without a corresponding cut in personal tax rates and greater spending on health and education.

"One of the problems that business coalition groups have is they talk about rewards for themselves without talking about the benefit for consumers; ordinary voters," he said. "Voters are like investors, they will only take political risk if there's appropriate reciprocal rewards."

The Abbott government has been criticised for failing to sell changes contained in the federal budget, including extending the pension age.

Mr Textor, who was behind Mr Abbott's 2010 campaign slogan: "We will stop the boats, stop the big new taxes, end the waste, and pay back the debt", said the lesson from the budget was: "your message must be very clear and not compromised."

"When Abbott talked about stopping the boats, it was a very clear objective; unambiguous. And so it worked."

On local tax reform there was "absolutely no public or political pressure for reform".

"Business groups are in a far far worse position than they were in the '80s and '90s. They are fragmented and have become like bureaucrats. There's no pressure for anyone to change."

He said by raising the GST but instead funding tax cuts and better services the budget would remain neutral.

His comments came as ANZ chief Mike Smith told a B20 meeting that the issue of tax paid by multinationals needed to be addressed, but would always cause governments some degree of difficulty.

"You have got to pay tax somewhere, and as long as it is fair and equitable to those countries in which you operate, everybody is generally happy. But there is always going to be some contention," he said.

He said ensuring tax was paid where income was earned was a central issue for G20 governments to nail down. "Do [international tax laws] need adjustment to more accurately conform to the 21st century business model? You would probably say yes to that," he said.

Aside from making multinationals pay more tax, other issues to be tackled at the G20 Brisbane summit will be strategies to boost global growth and crack down on corruption.

As the chairman of the group representing the community's interest at the G20 summit, the C20, Reverend Tim Costello called on leaders to tackle global inequality and poverty by ensuring companies paid a fair share of tax.
He said the OECD move to establish a system of country-by-country reporting, whereby business reports to tax authorities detailed information about how much tax they pay and where, needed to be made public. Business has resisted moves to make the information public, saying their commercial confidence would be breached.

Even the head of tax for the OECD, Pascal Saint-Amans, has warned against it, saying it was  too complex and could create distortions.

But Mr Costello said: "There's no alternative but transparency.Yes there will be messiness and maybe arbitrary pain, but it's the only route we've got because it's a digitised economy."

He said companies would also have their reputation ruined if they did not come clean about the taxes paid. At the same time pressure on governments such as the US and Ireland was increasing to fix the problem.

"The US can't hold out forever against reform," he said. "The global movement on this isn't going to stop. Inequality facilitated by tax dodging is one of the No.1 issues the world is facing; in short it's theft."

Mr Costello has also been pushing for G20 leaders to ensure this weekend's summit communique contains the words "inclusive growth".

"The Australian government has tried to crawl away from the word inclusive," he said. "You must not have growth which flows to the top 5 per cent and ignores the bottom 20 per cent."


More "proof" that cooling proves warming

A fantasy by some Australian authors

GLOBAL warming could be making parts of the world colder. Yes, you read that right. Here’s why this is not a crazy thing to say.

There’s a strong outbreak of cold weather across parts of the United States this week. It’s similar in some ways to last year’s so-called polar vortex — that conveyor belt of frigid Arctic air which parked itself on top of large parts of the United States, bringing bitter cold for days.

This week’s cold outbreak is much weaker, but it’s again making people question the widely accepted narrative of global warming.

The sceptic’s logic train is understandable: if it’s so damn cold, how can the world be warming?

Time magazine did a fair job of explaining all that earlier this year. We paraphrase a little here, but here’s how their theory works in regards to the polar vortex:

1. Sea ice is vanishing from the Arctic, which leaves behind dark open ocean water.

2. That water absorbs more of the heat from the sun than reflective ice.

3. Relatively warmer water is the main reason the Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the planet.

4. As the temperature difference between the polar north and more temperate latitudes diminishes, a band of high-level strong winds called the “jet stream” weakens.

5. For want of a more technical description, the jet stream kind of holds all the weather systems in place. Most of the time it keeps the cold stuff north and the warm stuff south.

6. But a weakened jet stream can develop what Time calls “kinks”. Time reported that an unusually large kink in the jet stream was what allowed all that Arctic air to flow much further south than normal during the polar vortex.

Statistics show that most people tune out about halfway through most stories, so we thoug

Statistics show that most people tune out about halfway through most stories, so we thought this penguin might encourage you to struggle all the way through. Source: Supplied

So there’s your theory. It’s extremely cold a little more often as an indirect result of the world getting warmer. Or as Dan Pydynowski, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather told USA Today. “It’s a similar pattern. The jet stream buckles and releases Arctic air from its circulation over the North Pole. Here comes that cold air.”

Closer to home, there’s another example of how warming can produce seemingly contradictory effects. Warmer temperatures are not only causing more snowfall in Antarctica, scientists believe, but could also be producing more sea ice.

The basic theory is that melting water from glaciers is slightly colder than the seawater into which it flows. That means the ocean around the continent is more likely to freeze.

The bottom line here is that a few cold outbreaks in the USA, no matter how severe, don’t mean the world isn’t warming.

The world definitely is warming, according to just about every reputable science body, including our own Bureau of Meteorology, which says Australia’s climate has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910, with more extreme heat and fewer cool extremes.


Goss plaudits obnoxious and parochial says Barnaby Joyce

BARNABY Joyce has criticised as “obnoxious” accounts of Wayne Goss’s impact on Queensland, saying Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen should also be “celebrated” as an “exemplary leader”.

Mr Goss, the reforming Queensland premier who died yesterday, aged 63, has been credited as dragging his state “into the sunlight after 32 years in darkness” under corrupt National Party rule.

Mr Goss implemented the recommendations of Tony Fitzgerald’s landmark corruption inquiry, the findings of which resulted in the jailing of four ministers and the state’s police chief.

Mr Joyce, a former Queensland Nationals senator, acknowledged Mr Goss was “a great man” who did “a great job” as premier.

“But this idea that he took the hick out of Queensland and somehow Queenslanders were the diminutive people and then all of a sudden they had an epiphany, I find slightly obnoxious,” the Agriculture Minister told ABC Radio.

“Wayne Goss did an extremely good job as a politician, certainly he brought a change of direction, but the calibre of people was the same before and after he was there — there was no remarkable change, no seismic shift, no the scales falling off people’s eyes.

“I find it a sort of obnoxious, parochial and somewhat maligning statement to say someone took the hick out of Queensland is some kind of moral statement as to what the people were like beforehand.

“Remember, Queensland was a backwater and Bjelke-Petersen turned it into an economic powerhouse. It was the envy of other states, its treasury was overflowing with money, it electrified its central Queensland railways, it built the dams, it built the international airports, it had taken small towns to what would then grow to be major cities.

“Let’s not deride the accomplishments of one because it befits our notion of the politics of the next; let’s celebrate both as both being exemplary leaders and both having done a great job.”

Mr Joyce agreed Mr Goss should be congratulated for implementing the Fitzgerald inquiry recommendations, but added: “Who brought about the Fitzgerald inquiry? Who called for it? Bjelke-Petersen!”

The Fitzgerald inquiry was launched in 1987 in Bjelke-Petersen’s absence by then acting premier, Bill Gunn, who ordered what was expected to be a limited inquiry into a small group of police and their alleged involvement in illegal gambling and prostitution.

The inquiry changed the policing and political landscape in Queensland and across Australia. Significant prosecutions followed the inquiry leading to four ministers being jailed and numerous convictions of other police.

Former Police Commissioner Sir Terence Lewis was convicted of corruption, jailed, and stripped of his knighthood, and former Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was charged with perjury for evidence given to the inquiry, although the trial was aborted due to a hung jury.

The jury foreman, Luke Shaw, was later exposed as a Young Nations member and the cousin of a secretary employed by Lady Bjelke-Petersen. She said in 1994 “they would have plonked” the former premier in jail had not Mr Shaw been on the jury.

Mr Goss’s former press secretary, Denis Atkins, yesterday said the Labor premier “made Queensland respectable again” and “took the hick out” of the state.

“Queensland had a terrible reputation through the 70s and 80s as the place that didn’t favour or foster intellectualism, it was a place where the public service was more a branch of the political party in power and it was a place where ultimately we saw corruption in the levels and Wayne Goss turned that around,” Atkins, now a News Corp Australia journalist, said.

Premier Campbell Newman, campaigning for office in 2012, said the Bjelke-Petersen government “certainly was a period of Queensland’s history where a lot of terrible things happened and there was clearly corruption and it’s all there in the report of the royal commission.”


11 November, 2014

Labor Senator Chris Ketter appears to have told lies on oath to the Royal Commission

Here is the link to Senior Counsel Assisting's submission regarding the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association.

These paragraphs refer to the entirely unsatisfactory (read bullshit) evidence given by now Senator Ketter.

D1 Circumstances of Mr Swetman’s dismissal

77. It is clear on the facts that Mr Swetman had his employment terminated because he was threatening to challenge Senator Ketter for the position of Secretary-Treasurer.  There is no other plausible explanation.  At the time of his dismissal, Mr Swetman:

(a) had almost 18 years’ service; 
(b) had not be subject to any meaningful performance counselling; 
(c) was away from the workplace for medical reasons; and
(d) had provided a medical certificate to his employer. 

78. In these circumstances, Mr Swetman’s immediate dismissal one day prior to the close of the nominations for Secretary-Treasurer was a cynical manoeuvre by Senator Ketter designed to protect his position in that role.  The suggestion that either: 

(a)  Mr Swetman’s performance; or  

(b) the alleged inappropriate use of his SDA Queensland issued mobile telephone,  provided the justification for Mr Swetman’s dismissal and expulsion from the SDA Queensland should not be accepted. 

79. Senator Ketter’s insistence that the timing of Mr Swetman’s dismissal was a ‘coincidence’ should not be accepted and is a mark against his credibility as a witness.  

80. Senator Ketter stood to benefit significantly from the removal of Mr Swetman.  He must have known that termination of Mr Swetman would cause or likely cause cause damage to Mr Swetman’s credibility and credentials as a candidate standing against Senator Ketter.  Furthermore, once dismissed from his employment Mr Swetman would be without an income making it significantly more difficult to service the expenses associated with a contested election campaign. 

These considerations, coupled with the swift manner in which Mr Swetman was removed in circumstances where there was no urgency to terminate Mr Swetman (other than the impermissible consideration of removing a rival candidate from an upcoming election), count strongly against Senator Ketter’s contention that the timing of the removal was a coincidence. 

This relates to a current Senator, newly elected this last election for a 6 year post, rather than a past politician. Have you picked up that Senator Chris Ketter, the number one ticket-holder in the Senate of the ALP in Queensland has in effect been found dishonest in the evidence he gave the Commission? See paras 77-80 of Part 18 of Counsel's submissions. While Counsel hasn't asserted Ketter perjured himself, what other possible conclusion can be drawn?


Blanchett and Whitlam fans are living in a land of make-believe

Piers Akerman

ACTRESS Cate Blanchett epitomised her role as the poster girl for the age of self-delusional entitlement when she eulogised Gough Whitlam on Wednesday.  “I am the beneficiary of free, tertiary education,” she trilled
Whoops. I was paying taxes when Blanchett was born and I was a contributor to the cost of her education.  If I, and millions of other Australians were paying for her degree, it was not free. Similarly with the “good, free healthcare” she benefited from.   That healthcare cost a mozza – and it’s costing more now.

Hyperbole and extravagance of speech and gesture are the stock in trade of actors, the gestures have to be large so those in the back row can see and hear and perhaps Blanchett had this in mind as she played to her audience at the Sydney Town Hall.

“I am a product of the Australia Council,” she gushed.

That may be, but the Australian Council for the Arts, the Australian Film Development Corporation and the National Film and Television Training School were established during Liberal Prime Minister John Gorton’s term, according to the National Archives.

The so-called “free” education and healthcare she benefited from enabled her to put the “little I earned after tax and rent … towards seeing shows, bands, and living inside my generation’s expression”.

Among the examples she offered of her generation’s expression was a 2004 film called Little Fish: ‘‘A story like Little Fish would not have been told without the massive changes to the Australian cultural conversation initiated, and shaped, by Gough Whitlam’s legacy.”

I was one of the unfortunate few viewers who, having contributed to the production of the film through my taxes, ­actually paid an admission fee to see what they were creating with my money. In truth I found it to be one of a number of bleak movies made with taxpayers’ money which depicted sleazy drug addicts doing what most drug addicts do – lie and cheat and destroy lives.

As Blanchett acknowledged to swoons and applause, she was “but three” when the Whitlam government came into office and has many reasons to “be grateful ‘til the day I die”, but in reality she has many more reasons to be grateful to the taxpayers who bankrolled the great man’s many excesses.

Of course Blanchett was merely supporting the myriad of myths that now enshrine Whitlam’s legacy. The legends have grown since he was sacked in 1975 and flowed ­freely since his death on October 21, almost all of them untrue.


The ALP couldn't even organize a funeral properly

Devotees of former prime minister Gough Whitlam struggle for tickets and seats outside his memorial service at Sydney's Town Hall

Mourners turning up to pay their respects to former prime minister Gough Whitlam say they have been turned away from the memorial service at the Sydney Town Hall despite having registered for the event.

Some people had travelled from as far away as Perth, Melbourne and Townsville to attend the state memorial service, which is shaping up as the biggest in living memory.

But some people were close to tears on Wednesday morning when told they would not be admitted to the service, despite having phoned to register for the event.

Penelope Robinson and Omid Namdar had flown from Perth on the red-eye flight on Wednesday morning, only to be told they could not get in despite receiving an email confirming their registration.

"This is so unfair. I got through university because of Gough and I named my third son because of him. Mr Whitlam even signed his birth certificate," Ms Robinson said.

Rodney Ranners came from Seven Hills by train in his wheelchair.  "I came all the way in because my carer received an email, I haven't got the email, I don't have a mobile phone. They won't let me in," he said, close to tears.

Ron Miles, from Leichhardt, said he had phoned to register to attend the memorial service on the day registration opened.

"The woman I spoke to took my name, and I said 'What happens now?' She said nothing, it was first in, best dressed. That was how she phrased it," he said.

Mr Miles arrived at the town hall about 8am on Wednesday and joined a line of people on George Street, who were told by an official that if they did not have an email they would not be allowed to enter.

"We weren't asked for our email addresses," he said. "The people around me were just absolutely fuming. I live in Leichhardt, but the person in front of me was from Melbourne, and two other people were from Townsville. It's just so absolutely bloody frustrating.

"There was another couple of people there who I felt really sorry for. They were saying how much Gough meant to them and how this was a travesty for his memory.

"I was 24 when Gough was elected and he just changed the world, as far as I was concerned. I didn't benefit from the free university education, I'd been through university by then, however he embodied all the things that I think governments should do for people. He meant a lot to me. I'm really upset that I couldn't get in."

Mr Miles went home and had plans to watch the service on television.


Anti-car nonsense destroys convenience and hurts small business in an Australian country town

Toowoomba: HAIRDRESSER Leanne White has chipped in to pay for her customers' parking fines because she feels the parking situation in the area is unfair.

Ms White owns Lush Hair and Beauty on Ruthven St, a strip which recently lost its angle parking to make way for the addition of a bike lane.

The parallel parks outside her business are two-hour paid meters.

"The council has taken away half the parks to put in the bike lane. I'm not against the idea of having a bike lane but I never see anyone use it; cyclists use the footpaths instead," she said.

"We've lost valuable parking for clients and the lack of parking is turning people away.

"We chose this location to be in the CBD and there was ample parking at the time but now I'm considering relocating the business."

Ms White has bought private parking for her workers because she did not want them walking from the nearest long-term parking spots available, at the PCYC.  "That's costing me $1600 a year," she said.  "It's not just about business but also a safety issue for us."

She said business owners in the area were running out of patience with the lack of parking in Ruthven St.  "People are screaming for it but nothing is being done," she said.  "I'm planning on organising a petition because there are so many people concerned."

The owner of La Taste Takeaway Paul Worrall said business in the whole area had dropped off.  "I'm not aware of anyone who thought the bike lane was a good idea," Mr Worrall said.

He also had major concerns for the lack of accessibility to the library, particularly for elderly and disabled customers.

"I watched one old lady with her child who had Down Syndrome driving around trying to find a carpark and they were getting visibly upset," he said.

"The council has made the wrong decision when what you need is more car parks."


10 November, 2014

A great myth

That looks like defeated Australian Leftist leader Julia Gillard in the toon -- but I don't think she ever did ask that question

The squeeze on free speech in Australia

Britain's Tim Black interviews The Australian’s Chris Mitchell

It’s fair to say that the engagingly gruff, gravel-voiced Chris Mitchell, editor-in-chief of the Australian and a journalist of some 40 years standing, is concerned about the state of press freedom in Australia.

‘The two recent Labor governments, under prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, posed quite a serious threat to press freedom’, he tells me. ‘As those two governments got themselves into increasing trouble - internally, too, given two prime ministers were overthrown in internal coups - they became increasingly determined to hold inquiries into media freedoms, to try to limit them. And they did so for pretty venal political reasons.’

These ‘pretty venal political reasons’ are not difficult to fathom. An increasingly embattled government wanted to have a pop back at its press-based critics. It wanted to blunt the barbs, curb the criticisms, and, ultimately, exert a greater degree of control over its public image. That seems to have been the familiarly authoritarian motivation behind the Convergence Review, launched in 2010 to explore the regulation of the media as a whole, from broadcast to newer online media.

But here’s the surprising thing, the development that makes the Convergence Review look positively principled. In 2011, Gillard’s Labor government launched a second review, the Independent Media Inquiry (IMI) led by a retired judge Ray Finkelstein – think Lord Justice Leveson, but without charisma. And what was the prompt for this second inquiry, which, like the Convergence Review, was effectively exploring press regulation? It must have been something big, something that implicated Australian journalism, right? Wrong. Incredibly, it was the phone-hacking scandal in, er, the UK, which prompted Gillard to launch an inquiry into the Australian press.

Yes, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owned the News of the World, the paper at the centre UK phone-hacking scandal, also owns several Aussie papers, including the Australian, but they are still completely different staffs in completely different countries, with completely different readerships. Mitchell still sounds angry about what amounted to naked opportunism on the part of Gillard’s administration: ‘[The government] wanted to harness ill feeling towards News Corp after the phone-hacking inquiry in the UK. They wanted to gain some sort of public sympathy for media regulation in Australia on the pretext that phone hacking could be happening down here, too.’

And was it? Mitchell is dismissive. ‘Of course there never was phone hacking here for very easy technical reasons - the telephony regime is very different in Australia to that of the UK.’ In other words, it just wouldn’t be feasible.

Mitchell is in no doubt of the government’s motives: ‘The Finkelstein Inquiry and the subsequent regulatory system was a naked political grab for more power over the media.’ And here’s the irony: the Finkelstein Inquiry proved far more effective than the Leveson Inquiry in securing a new, more restrictive system of press regulation, complete with a revamped, souped-up Australian Press Council. According to one commentator, the Chinese Communist Party looked on with envy when Finkelstein released his recommendations. ‘So even though there was phone hacking in the UK, you guys didn’t end up with as tough a regulatory regime as we did’, says Mitchell.

So what has been the result of the Labor-sponsored spate of inquiries into the media? ‘We ended up with an unsatisfactory regime of third-party complaints against newspaper companies. It’s opened the doors to activist groups who don’t like certain kinds of stories but are not directly affected by those stories to lodge complaints which will be adjudicated upon - complaints which wouldn’t be heard under the British regime.’

This system of snitching to the state, or rather its press-council proxy, is especially evident on the issue of climate change. As Mitchell and his paper, the Australian, discovered to their cost in July, it is now possible for a group of climate-change alarmists to use the Australian Press Council to challenge the Australian over its coverage of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment of global temperature rise. Even more absurdly, the Press Council also reprimanded the Australian for not giving an environmentalist’s retort due prominence on its letter pages. As Mitchell puts it, ‘There’s a view in Australia that this newspaper in particular shouldn’t report on climate change in any sceptical way. We tend to run a lot of stories on climate change, most of them fairly conventional, but we also open our pages to those who take a different view. And there’s a lot of people on the conventional side who would censor us on that.’

The result of the steady onslaught against the press Down Under seems to be increasing conformism, a case of tell the ‘right’ story, or else. And what’s interesting is that this conformist push is coming not from right-wing autocrats, but from those who tend to think of themselves as liberal and progressive. Think for example of the case of Andrew Bolt, the columnist-cum-provocateur. In September 2010, nine people complained about three columns Bolt wrote criticising the phenomenon of white people bigging up their ethnic ancestry, or ‘blacking up’, to further their political careers. In September the following year, a court decided that Bolt had contravened Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. That is, Bolt was found guilty of expressing the wrong opinion.

Things did look up for a while following Labor’s election defeat at the hands of the Liberals in 2013, and the subsequent appointment of the seemingly principled George Brandis as new prime minister Tony Abbott’s attorney general. Brandis not only promised to reform the Racial Discrimination Act, but, in conversation with spiked editor Brendan O’Neill in April, spoke of his love of Voltaire and John Stuart Mill and the true measure of free-speech credentials: ‘Defend the right of people to say things you would devote your political life to opposing. That’s the test.’

And yet now, with the federal government’s decision to ditch its plans to reform the Racial Discrimination Act, even that flicker of promise has been extinguished. The conformist net of liberal-progressive opinion is being drawn ever tighter. It is this that seems to undergird the drive for greater state controls on the press, the sense that the media must espouse the right-thinkers’ worldview - or at least that of the Guardian. ‘Yeah’, says Mitchell, ‘there is a general tendency among those people who are at home with public broadcasters or traditionally progressive newspapers to think of themselves as having higher moral values than the rest of society. And they have tended to use the push for press regulation to impose judgements upon the media that are contestable.’

But conformism backed up by a tougher regulatory regime is not the only threat to press freedom as Mitchell sees it. There is also the growth of the PR industry, which ‘exerts control over what journalists can and can’t write’.

‘I think that this manifests itself across science reporting, across reporting on the share market, and so on’, he says. ‘For example there’s a very strong regime now to stop company directors from talking to journalists on the grounds they might influence the share prices of their companies, etc. So this gives the corporate spindoctor a great deal of power over the investigative journalist in the financial sector. And in government, it’s far worse than it is in the sciences or the financial sector. In government we now have a situation where the number of people involved in federal bureaucracy - they’re not civil servants, they’re people attached to political staff - is about 700 while the number of journalists working in that area is probably less than a third of that. So for every working journalist reporting on federal politics there’s about three spindoctors trying to hide the truth from that person.’

Mitchell is clear-sighted about what is really at stake in the debates and arguments over press freedom. That is, when a campaigner for press-regulation complains about the influence of a section of the media, what they are really complaining about is a section of the public. ‘What’s happened in the UK and here is that there is a left-liberal revulsion against the ordinary man or woman in the street. There’s a sort of morally self-satisfied view that our media is better than your media, and that there is nothing quite so shocking as a popular newspaper. I would say that the view that has emerged in our country and in the UK during the phone-hacking furore has allowed the progressive left to espouse policies that are quite draconian and anti-free speech under the guise of having better and more acceptable values.’

So the liberal suspicion of the press is underpinned by a liberal suspicion of the public, I suggest. ‘I think that’s right. It is inherently anti-democratic’, Mitchell says. ‘A long time ago, one of most successful Labor prime ministers in history, Bob Hawke, used to say that the electorate never gets it wrong and that the electorate always works you out. And I think that’s pretty much right. In my 42 years as a newspaper journalist, I’ve only rarely seen an election where I’ve thought they’ll turn harshly next time because it’s gone a bit wrong. Generally, the wisdom of crowds works well and it’s something elite opinion isn’t comfortable with. Elite opinion isn’t comfortable with the wisdom of the crowds — it’s comfortable with elite opinion.’

Trust in the wisdom of crowds is one very good reason for a more raucous press, not a more regulated one.


Adoption lag needs to be addressed

In 2012-13 there were 339 adoptions in Australia with more than a third of these adoptions from overseas. In 1971-72 there were 9,798 adoptions. That is a decline of 96.6% in the number of adoptions in the last 40 years. This dramatic decline has meant that Australia now has one of the lowest rates of adoption in the developed world.

At the same time there are nearly 40,000 children in out-of-home-care. Nearly 27,000 of these children have been in out-of-home care for more than two years after having been removed from their birth parents because of physical, sexual and emotional abuse or neglect. These children desperately need the kind of stable and permanent home that can be provided through adoption into a loving family.

So why is adoption apparently so difficult in Australia?

Women's Forum Australia's latest research report, Adoption Rethink, has found a range of reasons including broader acceptance of single mothers and increased access to welfare support, increased use of the foster care system, institutional hostility from some in academia and welfare departments who influence adoption policy, access to legal abortion, negative attitudes in Australia arising from past practices and the emotional and financial costs involved.

Based on the evidence from this research, Women's Forum Australia firmly believes that the optimal outcome for women and their children is when children are raised in a safe, loving and stable household with their birth parents. Sadly this is not always possible and the evidence suggests a large percentage of children passing into care away from their birth parents spend extended periods in that care.

There are long-term damaging consequences for children and society when children are left to flounder through the foster care system, in some cases for years, while waiting for the courts to resolve their future. The outcomes for children in institutions, foster care and other out of home care are far inferior to adoption. The cost to society and governments in caring for these children and mending the traumatic consequences of their situation is enormous. By contrast, adoption, appropriately managed, can provide better outcomes for all involved - birth parents, adoptees, adoptive parents and the broader community. Adoption enhances stability, a sense of security, belong and firm attachments.

Adoption can also provide an alternative to abortion for women facing a difficult or unplanned pregnancy. Adoption, appropriately managed, can work out well in by far the majority of circumstances and should be a realistic choice for birth parents who are unwilling or unable to parent their own child.

It is clear from the evidence that adoption is a viable alternative for women, children and families in need. A new legislative approach from State and Federal Governments, the involvement of Non-Government Organisations in providing adoption services and a change to the hostile attitudes towards adoption that have developed within the various bureaucracies in recent years is necessary. This must be underpinned by a comprehensive evidence-based education campaign to inform the community about the benefits of adoption for women, children and families, particularly in comparison to other arrangements.

Australia needs an adoption rethink.


Courage is needed right now to fix childcare

Peak childcare services body Early Childhood Australia this week released a report claiming that increasing quality standards are "not the only driver" of rising costs in childcare.

The report claims that the quality rating a service receives bears no relation to the fees that service charges. Instead, rent - which is obviously higher in the inner suburbs than on the suburban fringe - plays at least as much of a role in costs. It's doubtful anybody collapsed in shock at that information.

However, what cannot be categorically denied is that the burden of the National Quality Framework on providers' operating costs comes mostly from the increases in mandatory minimum standards.

The quality ratings assessment process, while time-consuming and a bureaucratic burden for many providers, sits on top of mandatory minimum standards. It is complying with these new minimum requirements in the areas of staff-to-child ratios and staff qualifications requirements that has the biggest marginal impact on providers' operating costs.

My new report released this week, Regulating for Quality in Childcare: The Evidence Base, canvasses the available evidence from Australian and overseas studies that specifically examine the links between structural 'inputs' such as staffing arrangements, the quality of service actually being delivered, and children's real outcomes.

It finds that in Australian studies, the only links that exist between structural inputs and child outcomes are for staff-to-child ratios, where smaller groups of children being looked after by a single carer have a small impact on their socio-emotional and behavioural outcomes.

By contrast, neither staff-to-child ratios nor higher staff qualifications had an impact on their socio-emotional, behavioural, or cognitive outcomes. Only one Australian study showed a link between staff qualifications and improved behavioural outcomes for older children (which is more likely to be a preschool effect than a childcare effect).

The overseas evidence is similarly inconsistent. One study suggests that staff-to-child ratios increased the quality of relationships, but only for younger children. Similarly, only a single study suggested higher staff qualifications resulted in improvements. Several other studies showed no statistically significant effects.

This is hardly a rock-solid evidence base on which to build an expensive policy. It certainly does not, as many like to claim, represent an 'investment' that yields clear benefits for all Australian children.

There have been reports that the Productivity Commission has stepped away from its initial recommendations to ease these staffing requirements. This is a mistake. The government should take a long, hard and sceptical look at whether there's evidence of benefits that justify the costs.


Australia’s Most Brilliant Young Maths Minds Shine in Global Competition

Most of whom were Han Chinese by ancestry, presumably

In a new record, 34 Australian secondary school students have taken out honours in one of the world’s largest mathematics competitions. The presentation ceremony for the annual Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC) sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank, which takes place in a different Australian state each year, will this year be held in Queensland at Government House, Brisbane, on Friday 7 November. His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland, will present the awards to the medallists from around Australia.

Following the ceremony, the students, their parents and teachers will be treated to a celebratory lunch at which one of the medallists, William Hu, a 13 year old internationally award-winning pianist from Perth, will perform. Another medallist from Sydney, Seyoon Ragavan, who also won a medal at this year’s International Mathematical Olympiad in South Africa, will be one of the speakers.

An Australian initiative which commenced in 1978, the AMC is now one of the world’s largest school-based mathematics competitions with more than 14 million entries since it began. It is a fun 30-problem competition with many problems set in situations which show the relevance of mathematics in students’ everyday lives.

Hundreds of thousands of students of all levels of ability from almost 4000 schools in more than 30 countries entered this year’s competition, including from around 2000 schools in Australia. Each year AMC medals are awarded to secondary level students for performances which are outstanding, both within their country and overall in the competition. Medallists represent the top 0.03% of entrants and this year, two Australian medallists also obtained a perfect score. In 2014, a significant number of students achieved scores worthy of a medal. The number of medallists grew from 67 last year to 77 globally.

Adjunct Professor Mike Clapper, Executive Director of the not-for-profit Australian Mathematics Trust that runs the AMC and a range of other mathematical enrichment programs, said, ‘It is a positive sign that the number of medallists from Australia has increased from 25 in 2013 to 34 this year, a record number for Australia, and many of them are first time medallists.’

‘In addition to the AMC, the Trust conducts workshops around the country for both students and teachers as part of a recently introduced outreach program. Our work is not only about the AMC, but also about connecting with students and teachers to better enable them to enjoy and benefit from what the study of mathematics offers’, he added.


9 November, 2014

Muslims attempting fraudulent takeover of Labor party branch

Hicham Zraika's home is a modest affair in the western Sydney suburb of Berala.  So the former Auburn mayor and aspiring NSW MP must occasionally feel the squeeze of sharing the abode not only with wife Dania and their three daughters but also more than a few of his closest political supporters.

According to Labor Party records, also living in the home are eight members of the party's Regents Park branch, of which Councillor Zraika is the secretary.

They include Moustafa Zraika and seven Zreikas: Abdulrahman, Fawaz, Ibrahim, Mohamad, Moustafa, Mustapha and Wassim.

It is not just Cr Zraika – set to fight a preselection battle against incumbent Auburn MP and former minister Barbara Perry –who apparently favours keeping members of his political machine at close quarters.

In the neighbouring suburb of Newington, another of Cr Zraika's supporters, Osman Fayad, appears to be following suit.

Mr Fayad – who ran unsuccessfully for Auburn council on the ALP ticket headed by Cr Zraika in 2012 – operates a firm, Pinnacle Business Advisory, in an industrial estate on the Avenue of the Americas.

ALP records show the business address is named by nine branch members as their place of residence. But Mr Fayad says he knows nothing about it.

"That could have been a typo," he said. "There could have been an error filling out the form by members".

Asked how the branch members – who all share his surname – could have come to list his business address as their residence, Mr Fayad could only guess.

"They may have been filling out the [membership] form there," he said. But asked what he knew of this, Mr Fayad declared: "Nothing".

Perhaps even more impressive is the Yassine household in Auburn, which records suggest houses 15 members of the party's Regents Park branch.

The unusual arrangements can be revealed amid a surge in membership of the Regents Park branch since 2012 as the ALP prepares to preselect its candidate for Auburn at next year's state election.

If he nominates as expected, Cr Zraika is likely to defeat Ms Perry in the preselection which was opened on Friday.

But as Fairfax Media has previously reported, questions are being asked by Ms Perry's supporters about possible branch stacking as numbers in Regents Park have exploded to more than 300.

The branch now contains close to half of the ALP membership in the Auburn electorate.

Under ALP rules, those who wish to join a branch must be enrolled to vote in federal elections and supply the residential address at which they are enrolled.

For some, the presence of so many members claiming to live at a single address casts doubt on the legitimacy of the process overseen by ALP head office in Sussex Street.

It is understood many of those listed in Regents Park branch are either not enrolled to vote or enrolled at addresses different to those given to the ALP.

"It appears that head office has turned a blind eye to the serious manipulation of the party membership which has been happening for some time," a Labour source who is a supporter of Ms Perry said.

"This doesn't say much for party reform and in fact points to the hypocrisy of [NSW ALP secretary] Jamie Clements who said at the 2014 NSW state conference, 'no more ethnic branch stacking'," the source said.

Mr Clements, who has been general secretary only since September last year, said Ms Perry was free to refer any allegations to the party's internal appeals process.


No free speech in Australia?

When Immigration Minister Scott Morrison unexpectedly cancelled United States pick-up artist Julien Blanc's visa on Thursday it capped off a week that started with an online campaign and ended in a real-world protest.

Blanc was in Australia to host a series of seminars on how to attract women. His repertoire includes choking women, grabbing their heads and pushing them toward his groin and advising his followers how to destroy a woman's "bitch shield".

Critics were quick to condemn what they said was Blanc's promotion of abuse towards women. Social media lit up with the hashtag #takedownjulienblanc, which trended for the rest of the week. Thousands of people tweeted and posted comments on Facebook against Blanc; almost 35,000 signed an online petition.

"Julien Blanc is sexually assaulting women and then teaching rooms full of men to do the same. He should be arrested,"one Twitter user wrote.

The hashtag phenomena, spilled over into the real world, culminating in a protest on the banks of the Yarra River on Thursday night. The river cruise boat that was hosting him cancelled the event before it started and asked police to remove men who had come to hear Blanc speak after they refused to leave.

Although Blanc has left the country, in his wake he has left an argument over freedom of speech.

His advice may be deplorable, but Blanc's seminars are not illegal. Should he have been allowed take to the stage without disruption, let alone kicked out of the country?

Simon Breheny, director of the legal rights project at the Institute of Public Affairs, said it would have been better to let his seminar go ahead.

"The answer to bad speech is more speech. If someone says something I don't like, rather than calling in the police and saying this guy should be fined or sent to jail, we should explain to people why we think those ideas are bad and why we shouldn't listen to him," he said.

"Why is it that a government bureaucrat gets to decide what ideas you and I hear at forums we freely choose to attend? That's a very concerning idea."

Deakin University social media academic Deb Waterhouse-Watson was surprised Blanc's visa was cancelled, but supported Scott Morrison's intervention.

"I was surprised it went that far, but yes, I think it was the right thing to do," she said. "You shouldn't have freedom of speech if you're advocating crime."

Blanc's arrival came just days after Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay described "vulgar and violent attitudes towards women" as a key cause of gender-based violence. Twenty-nine women were killed by the partners in Victoria in 2013.

Lay described Blanc's work as "deeply disturbing and offensive".

Feminist and writer Clementine Ford said she was most concerned that there was an audience eager to listen to Blanc's advice.

"It won't help them communicate with women. It doesn't encourage any kind of genuine connection between men and women. It only encourages objectification," she says.

The global protest against Blanc has now moved to Japan, where he is next due to appear.

Blanc has not commented, but one of his colleagues at dating company Real Social Dynamics has downplayed the incident, saying the controversy stems from one video being taken out of context.

"I think Julien's video was absolutely stupid," co-founder Owen Cook, who uses the name Tyler online, wrote on the company's web forums.  "It was totally out of context and he posted it to get shock, not realising the full outcome. I'm sorry about the video."


Army says topless barmaids incorrect

Is the army leadership a bunch of old maids?

A Queensland soldier was demoted for hiring topless barmaids at an Oktoberfest party only to have his rank reinstated, the Australian Defence Force has confirmed.

Four topless barmaids were hired for the party at the defence force's Townsville base, in direct defiance of the commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

It is understood more than 100 personnel attended the event on September 26, at which a roast pig and about $6000 worth of alcohol was served at a venue known among troops as "the boozer".

"Prior to the event, both written and verbal orders were given directing that bar staff were to assist in the service of food and beverages only and were to remain fully clothed at all times," the Australian Defence Force said in a statement.

"It was reported to the chain of command that the member organising the event had disobeyed this order."

The commanding officer subsequently took action against the soldier, who was charged under the Defence Force Discipline Act.

The soldier, understood to be a corporal, was found guilty of breaching the commanding officer's orders, stripped of his rank and sentenced to 14 days' detention. However, the soldier lodged a petition against his conviction and demotion.

As a result, the soldier's rank was reinstated and his conviction overturned.

The petition was reviewed and granted on the day it was received.

Earlier this year, complaints emerged about topless barmaids partying with special forces at a Defence Forces club in Perth.

Defence launched an inquiry in August to determine how the barmaids appeared at the Special Air Service (SAS)'s Gratwick Club, despite a ban being issued last year.

"Defence expects all members to act in a positive and professional manner which reflects the values and ethos of the Australian Defence Force," the statement said.

Last year, army chief David Morrison issued a stern warning to personnel after dozens of soldiers were linked to the distribution of an email denigrating women.

"I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values," General Morrison said.


We need fossil fuels says Qld. Premier Newman

Queensland must transition away from its fossil fuel reliant economy, Premier Campbell Newman says.  But not yet.

He was responding to the United Nations report on climate change, which found the world must stop almost all greenhouse gas emissions through a phased elimination of fossil fuels by 2100 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Mr Newman agreed that in "the longer term, Queensland has to move to a new type of economy".  "And I have said that before," he said.

"I mean, coal has been great for this state over many decades and coal will be very important for some decades to come. Gas as a transition fuel, is a cleaner fuel, and that is a great opportunity and that is why this government backs gas, because it is cleaner than coal.

"Those who say we can immediately change, I am afraid, are condemning people in China, and particularly in India, who live in poverty, are condemning them to that poverty."

The Queensland government has been an unapologetic supporter of mining projects and is relying on mines opening in the resource-rich Galilee Basin to turn around the state's economy.

The projects, particularly the Indian-owned Adani Carmichael mine, which once operational will become the biggest coal mine in the country, have faced fierce opposition from conservationist and environmental groups.

One Indian conservationist has brought legal action against the Carmichael mine in the Queensland courts on the basis of the damage it will bring Indian communities who live near its final destination. 

But Mr Newman said if India didn't take Queensland's coal, it would buy it from somewhere else.  "I think the point needs to be made that to take 1.3 billion people in India out of poverty is going to require significant energy and coal, particularly, is what they are after," he said.

"And if Queensland doesn't sell our cleaner coal, our low emissions coal to them, it will be acquired from other places where the coals have all sorts of nasties like sulphur in them and it will be burnt.

"They will improve a lot of their people and I think the opportunity for Queensland is to sell them a superior product as we then work here to try and transition our economy to a new type of economy in the future."

Adani is expected to begin work on its Galilee Basin projects next year.


7 November, 2014

Rape allegations against Shorten now likely to be heard in court

Peter Faris QC is now representing Kathy who alleges she was raped by Bill Shorten in 1986. This could be a real game changer as Mr Faris is no rookie and is regarded as a very successful criminal lawyer. He is also a former Chairman of the National Crime Authority.

Until now Kathy has by and large been doing the best she can by herself and reliant on the police investigation. As we know on the 21st of August 2014 the police announced that they would not be charging Bill Shorten ­as they were told by the Office of Public Prosecution ­that they believed there was no reasonable prospect of success.

Now Kathy has Peter Faris QC in her corner the chances of her allegations being heard in court at least to some degree have greatly increased and it has been reported that Mr Faris has taken the first few steps.

The Australian reported on Monday that “The woman has recruited high-profile barrister Peter Faris QC, who has informed the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions, John Champion, that his client wants to review the DPP’s decision not to press charges”

and: “Mr Faris has written to Mr Champion seeking documents that appear to lay the groundwork for further proceedings aimed at challenging the legal basis for the DPP’s decision. Mr Faris asked the DPP to confirm the nature of his decision, whether he was prepared to reconsider and whether he would provide the reasons why Mr Shorten was not charged. The letter, sent on Friday, seeks access to the police brief and any other material Mr Champion used when making his decision.”

Once the matter hits court in some shape or form the evidence then becomes part of the court records and I would then expect to see a lot more of the evidence in the mainstream media as they will have no excuse not to report it as most have dedicated court reporters.

Bill Shorten and his Lawyers

Mr Shorten and his lawyers would be extremely worried people at the moment. It is one thing to out muscle and out manoeuvre Kathy but it is nearly impossible to do that with a quality barrister or lawyer and I have no doubt that Peter Faris QC is up to the challenge.

Bill Shorten’s position as alternative Prime Minister is what makes his position so difficult. Mr Shorten does not need to lose in a court of law for his career to be destroyed as losing in the court of public opinion will end his career just as easily if not easier.

That is what puts Mr Faris in such a strong position even though the case is a difficult one. The length of time that has passed does make it harder to prosecute the case but not impossible as we have seen with the Child Abuse Royal Commission and cases of similar age where offenders have been jailed.

I like Kathy’s story as it shows someone who does not give up and I know a lot of the readers of this site have the same fighting spirit. Kathy has a lot better chance of having a win in this case than some people give her credit for and even if she doesn’t she has already won in many people’s eyes given her spirit.


Faceless in Canberra: Three men on a mission

On Monday 27th October, three men Sergio Redegalli, wearing a KKK outfit, Nick Folkes, wearing a niqab, and Victor Waterson, wearing a motorbike helmet, pushed the boundaries by testing the new federal parliamentary rules regarding individuals wearing full-face coverings entering Parliament House. The new parliamentary security rules state that anyone wearing a full-face covering must temporarily remove any head garment to prove their identity, but once cleared the wearer is able to continue wearing the full-face covering inside the parliament building.

The trio made the journey to Parliament House in Canberra to prove a few points regarding full-face coverings especially the main point to show that inequality exists. The inequality and special privilege that exist is the right given to Muslim women to wear a full-face burqa or niqab into the parliament building while those wearing other types of full-face coverings (including a motorbike helmet or KKK outfit) are denied.

Security officials met the demonstrators outside the building, who advised the men that the helmet and the KKK hood were not allowed inside Parliament. Sergio Redegalli removed his KKK hood to reveal a niqab underneath. He said, “So I guess this is the time to say that I’m now allowed into Parliament House am I?” the response was “no.” Sergio further added, “Bit of a loophole, eh?”

Once inside the parliament building, all three were forced to remove their facial coverings to reveal their identities. The Parliamentary security officials told the Faceless members that they could not wear their face coverings in parliament because it was deemed ‘protest paraphernalia.’ And men were not entitled to wear Islamic face coverings in Parliament, thereby again highlighting the double standards and implicit sexist attitudes.

Over the past few weeks, debate has been raging in parliament and also across the nation regarding full-face coverings. The issue of full-face coverings has divided the nation with the vast majority of citizens supporting a parliamentary ban on the wearing of full-face coverings in parliament while our weak and indecisive parliamentarians, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, remained undecided.

PM Tony Abbott even remarked that he found the garment to be “confronting” and wished that Muslim women did not wear the garment but he did not have enough conviction to uphold women’s rights or national security concerns in making the right decision. No doubt Abbott and his political cronies are too scared of demanding Muslims and their victimhood narrative and also those that support this ridiculous position including the gravy train multicultural industry.

South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi had asked Speaker of the House, Bronwyn Bishop and President Stephen Parry to consider ‘banning the religious headwear being worn in Parliament.’ On Monday, the day of the stunt Senator Bernardi said Faceless’ stunt proved “just how ridiculous it is to allow anyone wearing an identity concealing garment into Parliament House.”

Nationals MP George Christensen also publicly backed a ban on burqas in Parliament, and tweeted in response to Monday’s stunt, “Where is the left wing outrage at these guys being told to remove their facial coverings at Parliament House?”

Indeed, there was outrage from Wendy Francis, Queensland director of The Australian Christian Lobby who described the stunt as “so hurtful” and said Muslim women she knew “wanted a peaceful Australia every bit as much as my Christian friends.” Frivolous Francis went further saying, “To identify the KKK with a Muslim woman is extremely confronting and hurtful.”

Misguided do-gooders like Wendy Francis are part of the problem as she could not separate her own emotions from the hard hitting facts of full-face Islamic coverings and the risk to national security. Apologetic activists like Wendy should be making a stand for their Muslim ‘sisters’ by campaigning against Muslim men who are increasingly forcing their women and young girls to wear burqas and niqabs in public. Also, peace and public security will not be achieved when unidentified persons pose a real danger to parliament and national security dressed in concealed garments.

The aim of the stunt was not intended to label Muslim women as ‘extreme’ but to highlight the inequality of full-face coverings, the risk to national security and attack on women’s rights. In this exercise, the only ‘extreme’ is the political ideology of Islam for forcing the full-face garment upon so many Muslim women and girls.

Jacqui Lambie has been a beacon of light in the dark corridors of Canberra. Jacqui has been courageous for speaking her mind, linking Islam to ‘terrorism’ and calling the burqa a risk to national security. Last week, she released a draft bill, where people wearing full face coverings in public could be fined $3,400 and parents would be sent to prison if they were found guilty of forcing teenager girls to wear Islamic headdress. Regrettably, Jacqui’s private members bill to ban the wearing of the burqa in public was not supported by her cowardice parliamentarians.

It seems the Australian public has definitely turned a corner on the burqa debate with overwhelming public support for the banning of the burqa in public. The print press, radios and tv morning programs went into a frenzy opening discussion on this important issue with Sergio and Nick giving radio interviews to 2GB and 2UE radio stations and the trio appearing on Sunrise and also Studio 10. Even the hosts and panelists of the both programs seemed to display reservations about full-face Islamic coverings.


What makes for good childminding in the early years?

A report by a free market think tank that found little evidence to support improving childcare quality has been rejected by academics and experts.

University of Toronto professor Charles Pascal, who is in Brisbane meeting with childcare experts, said that "good evidence needs to trump ideology" and "junk science".  "The science regarding the social, emotional and cognitive impact of high-quality early learning and care on all children is unassailable."

He was responding to a Centre for Independent Studies report, released on Wednesday, questioning the changes introduced under the Gillard government in 2012 that aimed to improve childcare quality by increasing the number of carers per child and boosting staff qualifications.

Policy analyst Trisha Jha from the think tank said the "jury is out" on whether or not the reforms will improve outcomes for children. After doing a survey of international and Australian studies, Ms Jha said that to date, people have been "too optimistic" with the evidence. She also said it was a potentially inefficient use of the taxpayer funds.

Early Childhood Australia chief executive Samantha Page dismissed the study on Thursday.

She said the Centre for Independent Studies had "not looked at the research evidence regarding the harm children experience in poor-quality programs as a result of heightened stress and the impact this has on family decision-making".

"If Australian families were to lose confidence in the early childhood services sector, the consequences socially and economically would be disastrous."

Ms Page also pointed to a study released by Early Childhood Australia earlier this week, which showed factors other than service delivery were having at least as much, if not more influence on the fees charged by long day care services.

"It's highly unlikely that daily fees would be reduced if the quality reforms were relaxed," she said.

While the quality reforms have bipartisan support, the Coalition has raised concerns they will decrease affordability for families. The Productivity Commission, in its draft report on childcare, also raised the idea of watering down the standards.

The Benevolent Society's chief executive Joanne Toohey said reducing the quality standards would deny vulnerable children access to quality early childhood education.

"One in five children starting school is 'vulnerable' in one or more areas of development. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children the rate is double this, at 43 per cent," Ms Toohey said.

"We know that early childhood education and care enhances child development and makes a significant difference to children's school readiness and performance in later life, particularly for disadvantaged children, if the services are of a high quality," said Ms Toohey.

The Centre for Independent studies issued a statement on Thursday, saying that critics of its report had either not read or understood it.

"The focus of this particular report was not to argue that quality in childcare does not matter, but to examine whether structural factors – staff-to-child ratios and staff qualifications – have a proven, meaningful and statistically significant impact on childcare quality and child outcomes," Ms Jha said.

"The review of the evidence suggests it does not."


Halal money from Australia is finding its way to Syria

Halal money from Australian mosques and Islamic State Councils is being laundered through a charity called Al Imdaad, and it is finding its way to the Syrian conflict.

It’s a safe bet to assume Australian Muslims are not assisting the Kurdish Peshmergas or the Yazidis, but instead elements of the murderous Islamic State. has been told this charity is nothing more than a front to disguise where large sums of money, collected from the halal certification scam and receipts from major drug sydicates, finish up.

This so-called “charity” presents itself as a caring donor distributing funds to causes like South African Ebola victims, but nothing could be further from the truth.

In a recent interview, a Muslim cleric flatly refused to say where these large sums of money raised from halal certification fees go to, and it seems for good reason.

“It is an affront to ask such a question” he said, “you don’t ask where money raised in Catholic Churches goes to.”

Dr Rateb Jneid, President of the WA Islamic Council, in his 2013 annual report, admits moneys had indeed been sent to Syria from WA, using the sham “charity” Al Imdaad (see following).

Further investigations have revealed that the WA Islamic Council is only one of many Islamic organisations across Australia, including mosques, that are funnelling money via this sham "charity" front, to terrorist groups in Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

Now, Dr Rateb Jneid (many of these Muslims leaders falsely call themselves doctors) is the same bloke claimed was the kingpin when Police cracked a major methylamphetamine trafficking syndicate after a four-month probe netted more than $8 million worth of the drug, $380,000 in cash and a number of unlicensed firearms.

Detectives from the WA Organised Crime Squad led the latest protracted sting with a series of raids on properties in Kewdale, Munster and Bibra Lake.

Liam Ducey of WA said five men and a woman had been charged, including the President of the WA Islamic Council, Dr Rateb Jneid.

On-line Perth News Now, reported Rateb was fined after he pled guilty to firearm charges. The brothers are still awaiting trial on the drug trafficking charges.

Incredibly the ABC, despite a comprehensive Police report, managed to cover the entire news item without once mentioning an Islamic connection or that one of those charged was the President of the WA Islamic Council. That’s our ABC I guess.

Now here’s the interesting bit. Prior to the arrests in May this year, the 2013 annual report of the Islamic Council of WA, signed by Dr Rateb Jneib, stated that:

“Our Halal subcommittee now is functional and income starts coming Alhamdulillah (meaning "all Praise and thanks be to God").
“Our next aim is to expand Halal certification for local and international business insha’Allah (God willing).

“In our Masjid (mosque), many activities were conducted by our resident Imam Hisham Obeid.

“Over the year the Masjid has continued to assist other associations by allowing the facility (halal certification setup) to be used, Alhamdullah.”

Jneib’s annual report continued, “During the year ICWA (the Islamic Council of WA) has made ongoing donations to Syria because of the difficult civil conditions.

Sgd Dr Rateb Jneid

President- Islamic Council of WA"

Police say they suspect profits from the drug syndicate were finding their way to Jihadist organisations overseas. I say the suspicion is via the same “charity” front used for halal fees.

I will keep digging.


Life expectancy for Australian males surges past 80 for first time

For the first time in history, Australian men can expect to live past 80.

The breakthrough, revealed on Thursday, means that Australia has joined an elite group of countries.  Among them are Switzerland, Japan and Iceland, where both men and women can expect to live past their 80th birthday.

But men took their time to catch up to women, ABS's director of demography, Denise Carlton, said.

"Australian women pushed past the 80-year mark back in 1990, so it's taken men nearly a quarter of a century," Dr Carlton said.

"But having crossed the elusive 80-year threshold in the 1990s, improvements in expected lifespan for women has since slowed down, increasing by around four years over the period; it's 84.3 now."

"It's worth considering that 80 years is an expectation from birth. Statistically, the older you get, the more likely it is that you'll live to an even older age," Dr Carlton said.

"So a man who is now 50 could expect to live to 82, a 65-year-old to 84, and man who is 85 this year could look forward to a 91st birthday."

Dr Zakia Hossain, a demographer and sociologist at the University of Sydney, is cautious about singing the praises of an ageing population.

"Just because we are living longer doesn't mean we are living healthier. An ageing population needs to have adequate services," she said. "These are major issues that need to be looked at."

Estimates from the Australian Treasury suggest that facilitating services for an ageing population is only going to become a more significant issue.

By 2042, Australia can expect to have 1.1 million people over the age of 85, up from 300,000 over the past decade. 


6 November, 2014

What a pic!

Former Prime Ministers at the Whitlam memorial service.  Keating has bulked out

The photo also captured the imagination of social media, which focused on what appeared to be the careful division of political rivals – Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke, John Howard and Malcolm Fraser, all of them separated by a prime ministerial gap of three in the line up.

There were some rather sickening eulogies during the service, all with a notable lack of balance.  Noel Pearson's speech was particularly praised.  Let me take just one excerpt from that speech:

"In June 1975, the Whitlam Government enacted the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Queensland Discrimatory Laws Act. The law put to purpose the power conferred upon the Commonwealth Parliament by the 1967 referendum, finally outlawing the discrimination my father and his father lived under since my grandfather was removed to the mission as a boy and to which I was subject the first 10 years of my life."

Pearson neglects to mention that the referendum enabling Whitlam's legislation was pushed through by the conservative Holt government. 

He also fails to mention that the old restrictions on Aborigines have to a considerable extent been re-introduced at the behest of do-gooders on both the Left and the Right:  Bans on alcohol use in Aboriginal settlements and "income management" for Aborigines only.  Whitlam destroyed what he didn't understand and put in nothing to replace it.  So it has all been downhill for Aborigines since -- with soaring rates of alcohol abuse and the resultant abuse of Aboriginal women and children.

I could go on ...

In objecting to the media's praise of Whitlam, Andrew Bolt asked: "Will John Howard, a conservative who ruled four times longer and left the economy in wonderful shape, be given this massive and worshipful coverage?"

I think I know the answer to that

And the winner is ...

There were two great races on at Flemington yesterday. And the horse race was a nail-biter as usual:  Another amazing finish, marred only by the fact that two of the runners had to be put down after the race.  A truly sad aftermath.  I had 4 horses in various sweeps and none of them got anywhere!

I always take an interest in the other major contest of the day:  The fashions on the field.  I know nothing about fashion and for 364 days of the year take no interest in it -- but I figure I can once a year try to inform myself about it.  And what I thought I knew was turned upside down yesterday.  I thought the winning fashions were bound to be pretty sober and wearable anywhere.  That's not what happened.  I couldn't get past the winner's aluminium hat!

Anyway, some pix from the great day:

Christine Spielman in her aluminium hat

The dress was OK but are those leather gloves?

The winner with the runners up

Megan Gale let colour do the talking

And the anti-skin rules were not always enforced


Hooray! Federal bureaucrats face pay 'rises' of 0 per cent or worse

Military personnel may be seething over a below-inflation pay offer but federal bureaucrats could receive substantially worse: nothing.

At least two agencies – the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Research Council – are proposing a 0 per cent pay rise for staff.

If inflation forecasts hold true, that would amount to an effective pay cut of about $2500 to $3000 a year for a typical employee (an executive level 1 officer).

Most attempts by other government workplaces to negotiate higher increases have been knocked back after the Public Service Commission deemed them too generous.

In contrast, the Abbott government has endorsed a 1.5 per cent a year raise for its soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen – an offer military families described as "insultingly low". Reserve Bank forecasts suggest the annual inflation rate will be about 2.5 to 2.75 per cent over the next two years.

The federal bureaucracy began negotiating more than 100 separate wage deals for public servants earlier this year but has made little progress.

Under the government's bargaining policy, agencies can only increase staff salaries if they prove to the Public Service Commission that they can pay for them with productivity savings, which are notoriously difficult to measure in the public sector.

The commission, individual agencies and unions remain tight-lipped about the deals under negotiation. The commission said "no enterprise agreements have been approved", but added that agencies did not need its approval if they planned to offer staff no extra money.

Staff at the Crime Commission and the Research Council confirmed this week that their workplaces have drawn up agreements that contain no pay rises.

But despite its 0 per cent offer, it is understood the Research Council, which employs just 120 people, is still struggling to gain approval for the rest of its deal, due to government concerns that council staff have better conditions than other public servants.

The Public Service Commission has informally approved an Australian Financial Security Authority proposal to offer its staff a 0.5 per cent raise in the first year of their agreement.

Authority staff at the top of their pay levels could then receive raises worth about 1.4 per cent in the agreement's second and third years, but only if they cut significantly the amount of sick leave they take.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Tuesday he would like to pay defence personnel more but "until we get the budget back under control, there has got to be general pay restraint across the public sector".

"... I would be very surprised if anyone in the Commonwealth public sector receives more than is received by our defence forces," Mr Abbott said.

The Community and Public Sector Union has applied for permission for staff at several agencies to strike.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz said on Tuesday the union's "unrealistic 12.5 per cent pay claim, backed by threats of industrial action, is neither responsible nor realistic and cruelly raises expectations".

"The CPSU's unhelpful approach seems to be the product of it needing to justify its extravagant claims to save face," Senator Abetz said.

"It would be highly unfortunate if industrial action disrupts the processing of pensions and other payments to vulnerable Australians in the lead-up to Christmas."


The asbestos scare rages on in Canberra

I have followed the asbestos panic for many years but I have seen no evidence that asbestos products used in buildings have ever harmed the buildings' occupants.  All cases of mesothelioma were among people working with asbestos.  In Canberra they are destroying perfectly good homes in their mania

A small personal anecdote:  When my father had his house built he used, as was the fashion then, asbestos cement sheeting ("fibro") to line its internal walls.  So between the ages of 5 and 13 I lived in a room entirely surrounded by asbestos products.  And the room I mostly live in to this day is similarly lined.  So at age 71 am I suffering from mesothelioma?  To the contrary, my spirometry is excellent -- JR

Like more than 1000 Canberra homeowners Kathleen Read faces the devastating prospect of being forced to have her home demolished in the wake of the Mr Fluffy asbestos crisis.

But the Watson resident has vowed to fight to save her home of more than 50 years as she believes it never contained Mr Fluffy insulation and has ACT government laboratory results to prove it.

When the quest to find homes with the deadly Mr Fluffy amosite asbestos began in the 1980s Mrs Read and her late husband were shocked to find out their home was one of them.

But it wasn't until halfway through the nine-week clean up in 1993 that contractors working on the home told her husband the home did not contain Mr Fluffy.

It led Mrs Read to insist on the laboratory report, which showed the home contained cellulose insulation and only a "trace" of amosite in an extension added to the back of the house in about 1973 – accounting for about a quarter of the total floor area.

"I feel appalled that we won't told until we actually forced the issue that we didn't even have it in the roof and yet I'm not being treated any differently to the poor unfortunates that have had it in their roofs," she said.

"I'm expected to attach this sticker to the fuse box, and I've decided I'm going to put my own notice in beside it saying 'it isn't [a Mr Fluffy house], it never has been'."

An air monitoring report Mrs Read found in her home after the clean-up showed there were no asbestos fibres found.

Mrs Read believes others may have also had their home mistakenly identified as a Mr Fluffy home and hopes to get a group together to mount a legal battle to fight the acquisition and demolition process.

"I feel very sorry for the people who are finding fibres drifting into their houses, but we've all got our own fight to fight," she said.

"I feel perfectly safe, this is home, this is where my husband and I planned to see in our old age."

She said she would be prepared to allow the ACT government to "re-clean" the extension.

"Rebuild it to my satisfaction and we'll call it quits, which is a lot cheaper than knocking the house done and destroying everything that's been planted over the past 50 years," she said.

But a spokeswoman for the ACT Asbestos Response Taskforce was confident all Mr Fluffy homes were identified correctly and said remediating a portion of a house was "not effective or practicable".

"The Taskforce has matched its list of known affected properties with the properties positively identified and remediated during the original program," she said.

"Demolition is the only enduring solution to the health risks as well as the social, financial and practical consequences of the presence of loose-fill asbestos insulation in homes."

The spokeswoman said the taskforce "strongly" recommended Mrs Read arranged a free assessment of her home by a licensed asbestos assessor to "assist in informing future decisions".

But Mrs Read said she did not plan to co-operate.

"What gives them the right to compulsorily acquire people's homes without compensation?" she said.

The spokeswoman said the buyback program was voluntary "at this time" and sought to accommodate the individual circumstances of affected homeowners, including those who wished to stay in their homes in the medium term.

"Those residents wanting to stay in their homes in the medium term will be required to undertake at their cost a range of risk-mitigation measures such as the sealing of entry points to prevent asbestos fibres entering living areas," she said.

Asanother Mr Fluffy home backs on to her's, Mrs Read said she was cynical about the motives behind the demolition program.

"Deep down, it's a land grab," she said.

"They're going to be able to subdivide a block like this … they've got two houses for the price of one."

It's not the first time Mrs Read has fought the process. She also tried to stop the 1993 clean-up, which she says left her house damaged, with possessions missing.

"I understand how refugees feel ... the only thing is we weren't being shot at," she said.

"Our lives were just taken away from underneath us and the government is going to do it to us again."

The spokeswoman said homeowners would receive more details on the buyback and remediation scheme this week.


Alert - State Education Minister The Hon. John-Paul Langbroek MP and Stephanie Rice to open new Think Education Campus in Brisbane?

 *         State Education Minister The Hon. John-Paul Langbroek MP and Olympic Gold Medallist Stephanie Rice will officially open the new, state of the art Think Education Campus in Fortitude Valley

 *         The new campus took six months to build at a cost of over $5 million

 *         The campus will cater for over 2000 students studying bachelor-level degrees in business, hospitality, fashion, health and design

 *         Instead of looking to traditional academic institutions, Think Education have referenced Brisbane’s vibrant inner city surrounds and taken inspiration from local bars, restaurants and cafés to create an upbeat and state of the art educational space for local students

 *         The official opening will also mark the beginning of the Festival of Change, a 3-day educational event featuring over 150 free and interactive workshops across the areas of design, fashion, beauty, health, food, hospitality, and business

When?  Friday 7 November, 1030am for a 1045am start

Where?  Think Education Brisbane Campus – 90 Bowen Terrace, Fortitude Valley

Via email

5 November, 2014


An article published a week ago has just come to my attention and I find it rather sickening.  I reproduce its opening below. It is written by Leftist journalist Alan Ramsey and was one part of the effort made in the Left-leaning media to idolize the recently deceased Labor party leader Gough Whitlam.  Such idolatry failed to mention that Whitlam was one of Australia's worst prime Ministers, whose lunatic rule featured a great bloating of the bureaucracy and runaway spending that was financed by borrowing and unprecedented inflation.

So the point of the article was to portray Whitlam as a great soul using one incident.  The incident was Whitlam making a kindly gesture to Malcolm Fraser, the conservative leader who had effectively tossed Whitlam out of office.  What Ramsey failed to mention however was that, by the time of Whitlam's gesture, Fraser had drifted so far left that he had become Whitlam's "mate".  Whitlam's magnanimity was to a fellow traveller, not to an opponent -- and I think most of us could manage that.  There was nothing compassionate about the vast ego that was Gough Whitlam.  See here for evidence that Leftists generally are ruled by ego rather than compassion.

And Fraser deserved the spray he got.  Within a couple of years he moved from a supporter of John Gorton as Prime minister to the man who brought Gorton down .  Gorton was a decent man who retained many admirers in his party and one of those (Tom Hughes) got to express their views at Gorton's funeral.  Gorton loathed Fraser for the way Fraser undermined him in his own party and it should be no surprise that Gorton's admirers shared that loathing


Tom Hughes has become hugely wealthy from a lifetime of dismantling people in front of others. Five days ago his charmless, graceless eloquence in memory of John Gorton, his political mentor and friend of thirtysomething years, was served up to Malcolm Fraser for free. How bitter the words for stewing all those years.

And how ironic that Hughes, a Catholic, should use a Protestant pulpit so grossly in defence of his dead friend to humiliate their once Liberal colleague before a church full of people. So courageous, too.

Yet there was one remarkable instant of redemption.

In the congregation of St Andrew's Cathedral for Gorton's memorial service were three former prime ministers, not just one. Fraser and his wife, Tamie, were flanked by Margaret and Gough Whitlam and Blanche and Bob Hawke. And at some point after Hughes had finished his "eulogy", Gough Whitlam reached an arm around Tamie Fraser and, tapping her husband on the shoulder, was heard to say, gently but distinctly: "Let not your heart be troubled, comrade."

That it was a line borrowed from earlier in the service is beside the point. Whitlam's compassion for an old political foe and one who'd done him in so spectacularly was class of the highest order. So, too, Fraser's dignity in sitting there, Hughes' captive listener, the congregation's several hundred eyes boring into him, as Hughes intoned: "I realise what I'm about to say is said in the distinguished presence of a former parliamentary colleague. [But] I have to speak the truth, and I will."

And he did, as Hughes saw it.

Yet why he felt the "truth" about his old friend was not enough, but should include, too, the necessity for the "truth" about a man he posed as one of Gorton's "political assassins" 31 years after the event, only Hughes would know. Funeral rites are supposedly about resolution. Hughes ensured this one included revenge. There is no more enduring bitterness than political bitterness.

Hughes, like Ainsley Gotto and Jim Killen, has been a loyal keeper of the Gorton flame for 33 years. He came into politics in December 1963 and was there six years while the making of five Coalition ministries passed him by, the last three years of which he was a member of what was irreverently known as the Mushroom Club, a group of Liberal backbenchers, mostly Gorton supporters, who enjoyed a good dinner and a convivial drink, until Gorton's third ministry, in November 1969, made Hughes attorney-general. He survived just 15 months.


Another lot of international rankings -- of prosperity, by Legatum

The countries listed as most prosperous (See below) are broadly as one would expect but there are some glaring anomalies both with the final results and the way they are calculated.  A very large absurdity is giving New Zealand a much higher ranking than Australia.  While that will undoubtedly give Kiwis a glow, it does not explain the brutal fact that migration between Australia and NZ is almost all one-way.  Kiwis flee their country and move to Australia in droves.  Real wages are much higher in Australia and there must be few Kiwis who are unaware of that. So it will be surprising news to Kiwis to hear that NZ is more prosperous than Australia.

The problem arises because "wellbeing" or "Quality of life" is included in the index and assessing that cannot be done objectively. I have not been able to pick why NZ did so well but it is certainly broadly true that NZ is a pleasant place -- as long as you don't mind earthquakes and high rates of crime and child abuse perpetrated by the Maori. 

And looking in detail at the methodology used, there clearly are some oddities.  I was amused that separation of powers in government was included.  That system does prevail in the USA and France but lots of other countries get by perfectly well without it (Australia, Canada, Britain etc).  I would call that a nonsense criterion of prosperity. 

Mr Obama doesn't believe in the separation of powers anyway.  He thinks he's got a "pen and a phone" with which he can usurp the legislative monopoly of Congress.

Infant mortality is another absurdity.  Cuba has a lower infant mortality than the USA,  Does that make Cuba more prosperous than the USA?  No.  It just means that American hospitals go to great lengths to succour premature births and that does not always succeed.  Similar births in Cuba would all be counted as stillborn.

And what about religious attendance? That is high in the USA, Russia and  Muslim countries but very low in Britain and Australia.  Does that mean that Russia and Muslim countries are more prosperous than Britain and Australia?  Judging by the desperate measures Muslims take in order to get into Britain and Australia, I think we once again have to say that "voting with your feet" reveals the true situation.

And what you think of climate can vary too.  Cold is most life-threatening but some people prefer it nonetheless.  Living in Alaska is a choice, after all.  I could go on ....

The graphic below summarizes the findings:


Abbott goes after rogue union


In the early seventies Gough Whitlam tried to take over and reform the Victorian branch of the ALP. He knew, that without breaking the union umbilical cord, Labor was nationally unelectable. He did so, temporarily, but the communist activist thugs returned with new faces in the BLF running roughshod over the State’s construction industry. Eventually it became the most notorious union in the country under the guise of an expanded and renamed CFMEU.

Abbott’s announcement this morning of a Federal task force to clean up the union crims is a blatant attempt to shore up premier Napthine’s wilting chances in the looming State election.

The CFMEU contributes millions to the Labor Party and Abbott has just driven a wedge between the most corrupt union in the county and Daniel Andrew’s source of funds.

Andrews will now find it difficult to balance his election campaign with his criminal CFMEU compatriot on the one hand and the undoubted efficacy of the Royal Commission’s findings on the other.

Anyone watching the current RC proceedings will have had a peek preview of how Victorian unions operate... nothing short of a carbon copy of the worst of the American Teamsters under crime boss Jimmy Hoffa.

“On The Waterfront”, a 1954 iconic movie that shot Marlon Brando to box office fame was bookended 50 years later with his performance in the Godfather movies. The Mafia played a critical role in union corruption, but the nexus has been all but broken since.

The AWU and the CFMEU, along with many smaller unions, lead Victoria’s corrupt union-run construction industry, with tentacles reaching into NSW, QLD and WA.  Activities involve blackmail, extortion and multiple murders.

Abbott’s timeous Federal foray into union corruption will also have serious implications for Bill Shorten as he tries to defend a major source of ALP funding. He has understandably described the RC as a witch hunt but the vast majority of Federal Labor Members have previous involvement in the same unions that sanctioned their seats.

Shorten, along with Victoria’s Daniel Andrews, will now find it difficult to distance themselves from union corruption, let alone cut the maternal umbilical cord that has fed the ALP since its birth.

The CFMEU’s latest rash of TV motherhood ads promoting the union as sensitive, caring and family oriented, are ringing hollow.


The West’s failed counter-terrorism strategy requires a complete rethink

Comment from Australian Dr David Kilcullen. He is a US-based counter-insurgency and intelligence analyst and a former adviser to General David Petraeus in Iraq

THE events of 2014 — Islamic State in Iraq, the Syrian civil war and its spillover into Lebanon, the collapse of Libya, what looks increasingly like a Taliban comeback in Afghanistan, the string of Boko Haram atrocities in Nigeria, terrorist attacks in Mali and Somalia, the unprecedented flow of Westerners to terrorist groups, and attacks in Ottawa and Melbourne — represent nothing less than the collapse of Western counter-terrorism strategy as we’ve known it since 2001.

After 13 years, thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, we’re worse off today than before 9/11, with a stronger, more motivated, more dangerous enemy than ever.

Whatever the reason — and there’s more than enough blame to go around, in many countries and on all sides of politics — the ­result is that governments are suffering “task saturation”. So much is happening, simultaneously, in so many places that leaders are struggling to decide what to do, in what order. The danger is that we will engage in panicked, knee-jerk ­responses rather than taking time to consider what an effective strategy looks like.

The first step, of course, is to admit that this really is, every bit, the strategic failure it seems. US president George W. Bush’s large-footprint approach, invading and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, then rebuilding those countries from scratch at vast cost in time, troops, money and blood — what Maajid Nawaz, the former Islamist radical who now heads the London-based Quilliam Foundation, describes as “spreading democracy at the barrel of a gun” — bogged down the US and its allies in a decade-long counter-­insurgency fight that demanded immense sacrifices from our troops, cost us our strategic freedom of act­ion and eroded the legitimacy of a cause that, at the outset, enjoyed huge global support.

President Barack Obama’s strategy of precipitate withdrawal then pulled the rug out from underneath whatever progress had been made in stabilising Iraq and Afghanistan, neutralising those sacrifices and making a bad situation even worse. His passivity in the face of crises in Egypt and Libya, failure to support democracy movements in Syria and Iran, and reliance on unilateral drone strikes, raids and targeted killings — again, in Nawaz’s formulation, “getting rid of the democracy but keeping the gun” — telegraphed weakness to adversaries such as Iran and Russia, enabled the rebirth of Islamic State from the ashes of al-Qa’ida in Iraq, allowed a humanitarian tragedy in Syria and ultimately failed just as badly.

America’s allies — Australia, Canada, Britain and the rest of NATO — went along out of solidarity, while corrupt, non-inclusive governments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have been as responsible as anyone for the dire outcomes in their countries. Nobody’s in the clear: this is a bipartisan, multinational, equal-opportunity screw-up.

The second step is to realise that this truly is, as many have argued, a long war. There’s no magic bullet, no instant solution, let alone some carefully calibrated combination of firepower, diplomacy and technology that can quickly put the genie back in the bottle. Many Islamic State fighters are sons of Iraqis imprisoned by occupation forces a decade ago; many al-Shabab fighters in Somalia and Boko Haram militants in Nigeria are teenagers. Today’s Taliban members are younger, more radical, more battle-hardened and better trained than those we fought in 2001 — they have plenty of energy, and all the time in the world.

There are more than 30,000 fighters in Islamic State and about as many in the Taliban and other extremist movements. The rise of Islamic State, the stimulating effect of its rivalry with al-Qa’ida, the Taliban resurgence and, above all, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s declaration of the caliphate are breathing new life into a global movement that seemed to be declining — proving that the ideology, like the movements defined by it, is tough and resilient. This conflict will not be over quickly or cleanly. On the contrary: it is, and will be, a multi-generational struggle against an implacable enemy, and the violence we’re dealing with in the Middle East and Africa is not some unfortunate aberration — it’s the new normal.

Nor can we pull up the drawbridge, disengage from the world and somehow avoid the fight. For one thing, there is no drawbridge: we live in connected societies whose prosperity and success rely on trade, travel and free intercourse with the world. Particularly for Australians, as citizens of a multicultural nation, plugged into the global economy, a key player in regional and world events, opting out just isn’t feasible.

For another, if we fail to face the threat where it is today — primarily overseas — we’ll suffer the consequences at home. This isn’t to rehash some Cold War domino theory in which we “fight them there or we’ll fight them here”. It’s just to recognise the reality that a purely isolationist, defensive, policing strategy — protecting ourselves at home rather than seeking to defeat terrorism abroad — ultimately means the end of society as we know it. Mass surveillance, secret police, a national-security state, guards on every gate, a garrison society: that’s what a “defensive” strategy actually entails.

While ever there’s an entity — Islamic State, al-Qa’ida, the Taliban — that can attract and motivate disaffected young people in our societies, preying on their idealism and alienation, drawing them into what the late, great Time magazine Baghdad correspondent Jim Frederick called a “hyperviolent, nihilistic band of exterminators”, the threat will remain. We can lock down our societies, destroying them in the process, or we can seek to remove that entity.

In short, what we’ve been doing has failed: we need a complete rethink. That rethink, I would suggest, needs to start with a threat analysis. What exactly is the threat we’re facing and how can we address it in ways that are cheap enough, effective enough and non-intrusive enough to be sustainable across the long term, without undermining the openness, democracy and prosperity that make our societies worth defending in the first place?

IN my view there are four distinct (but related) threats to consider. In order of priority these are domestic radicalisation, foreign fighters, the effect of Islamic State on regional and global jihadist groups, and the destabilising effect of conflict in the Middle East. Let’s consider each issue in turn.

Domestic radicalisation — the mobilising effect of overseas terrorist groups on people in our own societies — is the most immediate threat. Last week’s attack in Ottawa, attacks on police and members of the public in Australia, last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, and the horrendous attack in which two Muslim converts ran down off-duty soldier Lee Rigby with a car, then beheaded him in a London street in broad daylight, are examples of “self-radicalisation” or “remote radicalisation”.

The randomness, unpredictability and copycat nature of these attacks, which require little preparation, give few warning signs, and are difficult to prevent, is what makes them so terrifying.

Attackers are often disenfranchised, alienated, marginalised young people, frequently converts: society’s losers, who see radical Salafi-jihadist ideology as a way to be part of something big, historic and successful. They’re not really self-radicalised. Rather, they often access online terrorist materials (increasingly in English) for inspir­ation, instruction and training, or link up online with radicals who groom them for action.

Defeating this threat is partly a matter of community policing to identify and engage at-risk individuals, and partly a matter of detecting and monitoring access to online forums, radicalisation networks, social media and online training materials.

Despite the fear these attacks create, police and intelligence agencies have a pretty good handle on this type of threat, but in the long term this brings a potential cost to civil liberties and community cohesion. This is because, more broadly, domestic radicalisation occurs amid alienation, authoritarianism and conservatism ­within some majority-Muslim communities, and hence suspicion of those communities from the rest of society. Ironically, it’s the ultra-conservatism and lack of freedom for young people in these communities that make radicalism so attractive and exciting.

Western governments have been their own worst enemies here: the tendency to treat Muslim communities as a special case, to think that “mainstream” society can deal with “the Muslim community” (whatever that is) only through self-appointed, often conservative, authoritarian elders and notables, is to deny people the individual freedoms that belong to them, by right, as members of our society while absolving them from the responsibilities that go with those freedoms.

It’s to set up an unelected, often illiberal intermediary between our wider society and the idealistic, motivated young people who deserve — and from whom society has a right to expect — the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else. So the right strategy for dealing with domestic radicalisation is more freedom, not less — but with it must come more individual accountability.

The second threat is that of foreign fighters, people who travel from our societies to join terrorist groups overseas. The pace and scale of foreign fighter flows into Syria, and now Islamic State, have been unprecedented, 10 to 12 times the size of anything we saw during the Iraq war. And many of these people are “cleanskins”, people with Western passports, Western faces and no known previous connection with violent radicalism.

The threat that such fighters, blooded in Iraq or Syria, may return to target their home countries is real and serious, though in practice many become disillusioned, are killed overseas or fail to return. Still, it would take only a small proportion of the dozens of Australians fighting with Islamic State in Syria to return home to pose a serious threat. Combined with self-radicalised individuals in their home communities, these people could form the nucleus of a serious domestic terrorist threat.

The appropriate strategy here seems to be a combination of policing and community engagement at home, and intelligence gathering overseas. Much as for domestic radicalisation, foreign fighters belong to communities and have families who care about them, and want them home and safe — for many, reintegration and monitoring may be the right approach. For others who commit atrocities overseas, participate in direct combat against their countrymen, or seek to bring their lethal skills back to target their home societies — well, the battlefield is a dangerous place, they take their chances, and many may not come back.

For those who seek to return, robust monitoring, border security and the ability to revoke or suspend travel documents may be all that’s required. Experience has shown, though, that it’s unproductive to treat all returning foreign fighters as a threat — debriefing, deradicalisation and reintegration programs can work, though results have been patchy.

These first two threats, then — domestic radicalisation and foreign fighters — are best dealt with through a strategy that combines policing, community engagement, intelligence work and border security. Australians, by global standards, are well served by institutions that are effective and generally bound by the rule of law and respect for civil liberties. But the ratcheting effect of these kinds of security measures — think of airline security since 9/11 — is such that if this is all we do, we’ll eventually find ourselves living in a garrison state, with para-militarised police and intelligence services that are more effective at stifling freedoms in the name of safety than in providing security.

Dealing with the last two threats — the regional effect of groups such as Islamic State and the destabilising effect on the Middle East — requires overseas ­engagement because only by removing that overseas threat and its magnetic effect on marginalised individuals at home can we ultimately dial back the securitisation of our society and thus preserve individual liberty.

The emergence of Islamic State has reinvigorated a global movement that seemed to be flagging after the death of Osama bin Laden and in the wake of the Arab Spring. Salafi-jihadist groups in North Africa, South Asia, Indonesia, The Philippines and even Latin America have been re-energised by the movement’s success in Iraq and Syria, and by the declaration of the caliphate.

It’s worth noting that Bagh­dadi, unlike bin Laden, claims an actual religious qualification — a PhD in Islamic jurisprudence — and claims to be a Qureishi, from the tribe of the prophet Mohammed. When a man such as that gives a public sermon in the main mosque in Iraq’s second city, Mosul, a city occupied by Americans only a few years ago, then declares a caliphate, announces his intent to expand that caliphate by conquest and calls on all true Muslims to join him and build a new, triumphant Islamic state, this has a huge effect on Salafi believers worldwide — at least some of whom may feel a sense of obligation to support him, while many others feel a stirring of excitement and historical purpose.

The regional strategy to deal with such a challenge is one area where Australia, at least, has had a good track record since 9/11 — one of close co-operation with, support for, and assistance to partners such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and The Philippines.

Australian co-operation with Indonesia, for example, though it has had its ups and downs, has generally had an extremely favourable impact on the capability of Indonesia’s police and legal ser­vices, on information sharing and on regional security, with support for jihadist groups dropping steadily across time. Australia’s diplomatic leadership, peer-to-peer co-operation among police and law enforcement, and carefully tailored foreign assistance and intelligence partnerships have made Australians and our regional partners safer, and at a modest cost.

Continuing and deepening this co-operation at the regional level is a key component, then, of our overall strategy — as well as extending it to other parts of the world such as Africa, parts of Eur­ope and Latin America.

Finally, the threat that has received most public attention in the past few months, that of destabilisation and conflict in the Middle East, clearly demands the strongest military response we can muster. Islamic State is a state-building enterprise, with a government, territory, an economy, a population under its control and an aggressive agenda of expansionism and sectarian violence. If we are ultim­ately to remove the other threats, Islamic State has to be destroyed.

Today’s strategy — of airstrikes, limited ground engagement in Iraq and training and logistical support to Syrian nationalist rebels — is fine as far as it goes, but there are some serious problems in its execution, and one fundamental flaw: the lack of a clearly defined regional end-state. Ultimately, the tough choice will be whether to tolerate the continued misrule of Bashar al-Assad in Syria or to seek a transition — most likely through a negotiated process — to a new regime.

This will be difficult, but it’s essential if the strategy is to have any chance of succeeding. At present, air attacks on Islamic State are simply creating room for the Assad regime to expand its control. This is why the Turkish government has been reluctant to commit to an effort that favours separatist Kurds and the Baathist government of Syria at the expense of regional stability, and it’s why so few Syrian nationalist rebels — so-called “moderates” — have come forward for training.

Until Western powers commit to the ultimate replacement of the Assad regime with a transitional unity or ultimately a secular democratic government — something the original democracy protesters called for in 2011, right at the beginning of the war — it’s hard to imagine any Syrian volunteering to fight with us against ­Islamic State. In any case, it will be months or more before Iraqi and Syrian forces are sufficiently trained to take the fight forward effectively.

Australia has a role in this, and an important one, both in the air and on the ground. But we should remember that of the four threats posed by Islamic State, this is last on the list for the simple reason that it’s a huge and complex challenge that is beyond Australia’s ability to address alone.

OUR goal seems to be — as it should be — to contribute where we can, participate as a valued and capable member of the coalition, and help develop a longer-term strategy as part of that coalition. At the same time, we shouldn’t make the mistake of meekly going along with a strategy with no clear or ­viable outcome in sight: Australia’s contributions in Afghanistan and Iraq have earned us the respect, and the right, to have a say in the strategy, and we should exercise that right vigorously.

The bottom line is that 2014 has exposed the weakness of a strategic approach that for too long focused just on neutralising terrorist plots and killing or capturing senior terrorist leaders. This approach looked, and often felt, as if it were proactive — taking the fight to the enemy. But in reality, as this year has shown, it was too narrowly ­focused to succeed.

The silver lining in this year’s crisis is that it forces us to a rethink. Australia should use that opportunity to broaden the strategy, building an integrated and sustainable approach that focuses on the four areas in priority order while exercising the right, earned across more than a decade in the war against terrorism and more than 70 years as a leading US ally, to have a say as to how that campaign develops.

And as we do these things, we should remember our fundamental strategic purpose: to preserve a free society, connected and integrated with the world and within itself, free from external terror and internal oppression.

This is truly an enormous challenge, but meeting it is essential if we are to rise from this year’s crisis to a counter-terrorism strategy that can be maintained for the duration of this long conflict.


4 November, 2014

Chaplains in Australian government schools

Ron Williams has had two High Court wins against the school chaplaincy program, so the Abbott government is pressing on via the States.  Williams claims that he wants to keep religion out of schools.  Odd therefore that we have not heard him protesting about the Leftism that is routinely preached in schools.  Why is one ideology so bad that just having people around  who believe it is offensive -- while another ideology that is actively preached is just fine?  And is he OK with what Muslims preach in their schools?  Much hypocrisy, I suspect.  Is he just a hater of Christians?  Seems likely

Williams' campaign to rid the nation's public schools of religious chaplains, which includes two High Court wins, might just have backfired, and he knows it. From next year, the Abbott government will ignore the High Court and give the state and territory governments $243 million to run the program, but only if they hire faith-based chaplains - the target of Williams' $600,000, eight-year crusade.

Tony Abbott's decision returns the program to its 2006 roots, when former prime minister John Howard opened the public purse to gift chaplains to public schools. But it will also render jobless hundreds of those without the requisite faith, and reboot the ideological divide on how secular our schools should be.

Williams, who lives with his wife, Andrea, 39, and their children aged five to 15, is now looking for other ways to disrupt the national chaplaincy program. "It's disgraceful," he says. "It deserves a Senate inquiry."  Williams won't succeed in setting up a Senate inquiry because of the program's bipartisan support.

Almost $700 million has already been spent, or earmarked, for school chaplains. Howard's $90 million started it, Labor leader Kevin Rudd continued it, before Julia Gillard, an atheist, expanded it and opened it up to non-faith-based welfare workers.

Now, under Abbott, about 500 workers who benefited from Gillard's edict that non-faith-based workers be allowed in our schools will be replaced by chaplains sourced predominantly from big Christian organisations: Scripture Union in Queensland, the ACT and Tasmania, Generate Ministries in NSW, Access Ministries in Victoria and the Schools Ministry Group in South Australia. Williams is now doing the rounds of politicians, finding an infrequent sympathetic ear, and seeking another way to stop it.

But beating Abbott's move to directly fund the chaplains will be harder than any High Court case. "Basically, he's run out of luck," Twomey says. "The ability to overturn that would be extraordinary. He must have been advised somewhere along the line that, 'Even if you win, there's another way the Commonwealth can do this.' If he really wants to win in terms of keeping the chaplains out of his children's school, then he needs to convince the school that it shouldn't have a chaplain."

Peter James, 50, who runs Scripture Union Queensland  is the spokesperson for the National School Chaplaincy Association.

James paints the school chaplain as the cool dude who hangs with kids, an ear open when they need it. "They are not psychologists. They are not counsellors. They are youth workers," he says. Trained to "recognise, not treat", they meet students at the school gate, mix with them, and are guided by the school in fulfilling their role.

A sullen or disengaged student might be sent by a teacher to the school's "chappy" for a chat and a piece of toast. Or to draw a picture, if that is easier. "Sometimes it's horrendous stuff," James says. "We've had school principals talking at events where they say [a student has told them], 'Dad attacked Mum with a machete last night, so I didn't get my homework done.'?"

Chaplains (and student welfare workers) need a basic certificate and their roles differ slightly between states but include "social, emotional and spiritual support", with chaplains expected to model the "unconditional love demonstrated and taught by Jesus, as recorded in the Bible", according to Scripture Union Queensland's website. Williams says the role, which stops short of religious instruction, amounts to a "full-on ministry".

Despite that, chaplains are forbidden from proselytising or trying to convert students to Christianity. That's a fine line, though, as pointed out by Queensland Liberal Senator Brett Mason during a 2008 Senate Budget Estimates hearing. "If a chaplain says to a child, 'God loves you', would that be proselytising?" Mason asked. The officials before him remained unclear.


YES, THE SCIENCE IS NOW SETTLED ...  it’s total bunkum!


What will it take to convince the true believers of global warming that they have been led up a garden path? A garden path paved in gold for the scammers of the UN, the IPCC and all those set for a windfall in carbon credit trading.

Ban Ki-moon is throwing everything he has at the failing global warming hoax in one last ditch stand to justify his tenure as Secretary General which ends next year.

Let’s get this matter cleared up once and for all. The IPCC is not in any way a scientific body (it forecast the Himalayas would be devoid of snow for Christ’s sake) it is no more than a publicity arm of outrageous warming lobbyists and is stacked with well-paid misfits who are also set for a windfall if they can pull this one off.

The IPCC’s job is to collate, and present as fact, papers of the pro-warming nutters holed up in universities and the far Left and Greens who dream of a UN dominated world financed by a carbon scam worth an anticipated trillions a year.

The UN receives 10 per cent of all receipts from countries running global warming carbon schemes. It has already pocketed a packet of Aussies’ hard-earned via Julia Gillard.

What more does the Left need than to view a hideous Australian landscape visually polluted with ineffective, unprofitable, inefficient and costly wind farms that are killing birdlife and causing migraines.

How painful is it to see desalination plants littering our coast lines, de-commissioned, in disrepair, rusting and never to be used?

Why did we suffer fools like Garnaut and Flannery (neither of whom are climatologists) who advised gullible Labor leaders like Queensland’s Bligh to waste billions on a pipeline between Brisbane and the Gold Coast’s Hinze Dam?  A pipeline that was completed just in time for torrential rains to fill every dam to capacity and flood homes.

The alarmist wastrels already have rap sheets as long as their arms with their Y2K bug, Crown of Thorns Star fish, a disappearing ozone layer, a disappearing Great Barrier Reef, soil erosion and forest degradation, etc, etc... all of which were furphies designed to keep grants flowing from taxpayers.

Now, totally discredited, they have turned to a “you beaut” global warming hoax... and it’s a bloody pearler!

Overnight they declared the plant nutrient CO2 a pollutant, organised America’s greatest fraudster, Al Gore to convince everyone our polar caps are disappearing and that New York would be under water in weeks and that Greenland would soon be growing grapes, while a fool named Flannery was suggesting it would never rain again, and that island nations urgently needed face masks and snorkels.

Dramatic footage of the extremities of glaciers breaking off and crashing into the ocean makes for good TV. But the simple truth has nothing to do with warming. The ice at the glacier’s source is actually increasing and has nowhere else to go.

It’s amazing the propaganda creative warmists can cook up when given free air time from willing media!

Universities are churning out thousands of illiterate kids on marine biology grants to float aimlessly among coral reefs trying to find something wrong to enable their grants to continue and hopefully increase. What a life! Beats the hell out of getting a proper job.

To Tony Abbott’s dismay, his warmist Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt has just pulled an unexpected swifty with renewable energy targets that are about to cost taxpayers another $2.5 billion to reduce emissions that were reducing way beyond expectations anyway.

Renewable energy is a misnomer! Everything is renewable, even water, oil and coal, it’s just a matter of how long you want to hang around!

The Greens refuse to selectively log old growth trees to allow new growth, refuse to allow the damming of rivers to give us clean hydro electricity and reject nuclear energy, the only practical, economic and freely-available source of clean energy we have, and the rest of the world has embraced.

Green councils impose fines for clearing the combustible undergrowth that burns your house down and they don’t want money spent on roads because it only encourages the use of petrol. WTF?

The earth lovers killed the introduced Asian buffalo to protect barramundi breeding sites thereby denying crocodiles of their buffalo food source, leaving the crocs with nothing else to eat except the barramundi.

The Fisheries Department sets minimum sizes for fish caught, so only the larger breeding fish are taken. Madness! And the loony environmentalists insist crocodiles and sharks be permitted to eat people

Media’s Left misrepresents steam from nuclear generators as scary smoke, tells us Julia Gillard has been cleared of all charges, promotes Islam as the religion of peace and suggests Islamic State Jihadists returning home be offered free counselling.

So why the hell would anyone believe anything the mad Left media says anyway?


Blacks can do no wrong

She's not even a good liar.  She just runs fast.  She's just a dumb black put into parliament by a racist (Leftist)  political party because of the colour of her skin

Leftist Fairfax and The Guardian in typical form suggested we, “Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here”. After all this is only another ALP mishap that needs no scrutiny, I mean it’s not as if Nova Peris might have punched a wall 35 years ago is it? And if any of you out there dare suggest black impropriety we’ll call you racists and bigots.

Of course the ABC’s “The Drum” came out with, “There is nothing improper about organising your private life around your work commitments... allegations against Nova Peris appear nothing more than whipping up sizzle and steam.” Well that’s a predictable response from another Labor organisation heavily sucking on the taxpayers’ teat.

To suggest Nova Peris is an oversexed, slovenly grub using public funds to cheat on her husband would be fine if she was white, and preferably a conservative. But she is not white, she is black and a protected species, therefore will have the support of Labor and the Left media.

Julia Gillard sacked hard-working and loyal Labor Senator Trish Crossin to allow Peris into the sisterhood with a nicely-warmed red seat in the Senate.

Having the likes of Gillard as an admirer should have had alarm bells ringing and it wasn’t long before the sordid past of Peris started to emerge.

Gillard had already rigged the pre-selection panel to ensure Peris had the unlosable number one on the Senate ticket.

Peris had the temerity to call Cathy Freeman “dumb” but that was after Cathy, never a friend of hers, had kindly allowed her to live in her house. Peris promptly trashed the premises and Cathy was left with no choice but to have her forcibly evicted.

Of course her ACT drink-drive charge was buried, with no conviction being recorded, and when she fronted the court, The Canberra Times (Fairfax again) needed no encouragement to ensure the matter was not publicised.

A spokesman for Peris said she could not remember the exact blood alcohol reading. Hmmm.

Peris's former husband Mr Batman, an Olympic athlete and the father of two of her children, was killed in a car crash in 2012, with police referring the matter to the coroner, saying "speed and alcohol" were to blame.

After complaints Peris spent $50,000 of taxpayers' funds on a dodgy academy program including large amounts on flash furniture for a house she was renting, the Labor party (then in Government) was able to bury both stories.

During the time Peris was an “ambassador” for Athletics Australia, $140,000 of taxpayer funds was found unaccounted for which was later attributed to an Aboriginal “talent sourcing” project. Again this matter was buried by Peris’s supporters within the NT Labor Government at the time.

This is not about dirty emails, nude pics and highly racist comments, it’s about a person’s suitability for Office.

Bill Shorten has looked into the matter and says she has his full support. Not sure if that’s a plus for Nova or not.

Perhaps the NT was glad to be rid of her and had given Julia a call.

Rebecca Wilson of the Adelaide advertiser wrote in a brilliant piece: “Cathy Freeman had a gentle heart and beautiful spirit that everyone around her loved. "Who cared if she was not a gifted communicator? She was just Cathy, a gorgeous young woman with the gift of speed.

“Peris was lapping up attention and behaving like a diva around her Australian team-mates in Sydney. She was desperate to be the star of the Olympic athletic team, but there was a certain young woman called Cathy who stood in her way.

“The email exchanges with Boldon have been salacious and scornful. Her remarks about Freeman - she is “dumb” and “can’t talk for shit” reflect the deep envy Peris has always felt over Freeman’s success.

“Peris wanted to be the Aboriginal headline girl. She left hockey because that was too small a pool for her.

"Cathy became the headline girl and the Aboriginal hero without wanting any of it. Her Olympic gold medal and her natural, sweet manner meant kids all around Australia loved her instantly. She has spent the best part of the past 15 years helping Aboriginal kids.

“The bottom line is that we loved Cathy and we were never so sure about Nova.”  Apparently Julia Gillard was.


Deregulation  possibilities

CIS recently hosted a visit from Institute of Economic Affairs Director of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon who summed up nicely the problem with regulation: “A lot of people are very good at doing benefit analysis”.  Costs are easily forgotten. Especially non cash costs like time, forgone opportunities and sheer frustration.

Between 2010 and 2013 an Act of Parliament was passed every two days, adding 21,000 new regulations to public, private and professional activities. Commenting on the Abbott government’s second Regulation Repeal Day, opposition spokesman Senator Joe Ludwig countered that the Gillard government had, “repealed over 16,000 acts, regulations, legislative instruments – without a fanfare” so in a spirit of goodwill let’s call it 5,000 additional rules. That’s nearly 3 new rules every day for three years.

All these rules add time, cost and confusion to daily life and deadweight losses across the economy. The Abbott government was elected with a commitment to cut $1 billion a year in red tape costs. Since the election, the PM has chalked up $2.1 billion in red and green tape savings for the business and not-for-profit sectors. To weigh the government’s boasts consistently with its bleats, we should at some point have a net figure that adds in the costs associated with the national security rules but that will need to be calculated once the full extent and impact of changes like metadata are clear.   

Senator Ludwig has criticised the government for passing off the usual abolition of redundant provisions such as the Spirits Act 1915 as regulatory reform which he says in the usual course of events, “always takes care of itself. The departments do this as part of their ordinary work. Departments will tell you that legislation such as this, old statutes, will come up, get written off and get binned. You don’t need a flying squad.” As is so often the case with politicians, he is a bit right and a bit wrong.

This latest round of reform has delivered a few minor fixes, so that for instance cattle headed to the EU no longer need a green tag on their tail — but it’s also got some meat in it.  A full list is here but these are the top three:

 * reducing duplication through a one-stop shop for environmental approvals $426.3m

 * streamlining income tax returns using MyTax $156.0m

 * making it easier for Australians to access government services $88.0m

Of these measures the biggest saving is from getting the commonwealth further out of the business of environmental approvals. States and territories will be able to autonomously approve projects consistent with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The MyTax initiative will allow approximately 1.4 million taxpayers access to an automatically pre-populated electronic income tax return.

The myGov service has been established to provide secure access to several departments. The clearest saving comes from allowing electronic mail from Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support to save the cost of posting 23 million letters.  A sad day for Australia Post but a happy one for taxpayers.

However, the really big deregulation opportunities remain to be addressed. Several of them can be found in the COAG Reform Council’s (CRC) final report on the National Partnership (NP) to deliver a Seamless National Economy [declaration of interest – I worked on this report].

The CRC report noted that at the outset of the NP, the Productivity Commission estimated that full implementation of the Seamless National Economy reforms would lower the cost of doing business by $4 billion a year and deliver productivity improvements capable of increasing GDP by up to $6 billion.

A good half of the original agenda remains incomplete, or implemented in letter rather than spirit. Nationally uniform OHS laws have not been fully achieved despite estimated benefits of up to $480 million a year – roughly the same figure as the headline item in this year’s repeal day. Also incomplete are national consumer credit reforms that the Productivity Commission estimated to be worth in $1.5 billion to $4.5 billion per year back in 2008.

There are massive gains to be realised in properly deregulating the national electricity market. This task will become more urgent once people realise how little saving they get from not paying the carbon tax.  A more serious cause of rising prices over the last decade has been regulatory gaming.  Similarly, national transport regulation is a rich source of economic gains for a government willing to take on the tough challenges. 

If the commonwealth is going to go after the real savings in power, transport and infrastructure it will need to work with the states. When it is ready to do that, the CRC left some advice – you will have to bring cash to the table.  “Governments” CRC noted, “have made better progress implementing the reforms that attract reward payments than they have made on the reforms that do not attract reward payments”. During the NP, governments completed 21 of 26 reforms attached to payments but only 10 of 19 reforms without payments.

National competition reforms were greatly aided by the use of reward payments. Not only did it motivate Premiers who didn’t want to lost money to other states, it gave Treasurers the leverage they needed over line Ministers to drive unpopular or poorly understood programs of deregulation or reform. 

The government gets a B for consistent effort but will have to considerably lift its game to deliver the benefits of real market deregulation to Australian consumers, employers and taxpayers.


3 November, 2014

Abbott's voluntary carbon scheme now law

With the backing of Mr Palmer's senators and crossbenchers Nick Xenophon and John Madigan, the policy passed the Senate after a marathon sitting that went into Friday morning.

At the heart of Direct Action is a $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund. While the carbon tax encouraged reductions in emissions by penalising polluters, Direct Action works on the reverse principle.

Instead, the government will pay emitters to reduce their carbon footprint.

Firms will bid for taxpayers' money at a so-called "reverse auction". Those that propose to get most carbon reduction for the dollar win the government funding

With the fund are a series of programs, some carried on from Labor, which earmark how the reductions must be made. Reforestation of degraded land, carbon capture by farmers, improved indigenous land clearing techniques and energy efficiency initiatives on a "grand scale" are all eligible.

There is very little encouragement for wind, hydro and solar energy, but plenty of support for the Coalition's traditional constituents in big business and regional Australia.

And the scheme, unlike the carbon tax or other types of emissions trading scheme, is voluntary.

The fund is the carrot, the stick is less well-defined. Penalties for those who opt out, continue polluting and jeopardise Australia's international obligation of a 5 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 are yet to be defined and won't kick in for almost two years.

Mr Hunt said this week he didn't expect any businesses to be penalised.

For the government, Direct Action is a win for the environment and the hip pocket;  direct action will achieve "real and significant" emissions reductions even as the repeal of the carbon tax eases pressure on household power bills.

Will direct action work?

There is evidence to back the government's claim that power bills are being cut due to the carbon tax, or at least are lower than they would be. The latest Australian Consumer and Competition Commission assessment reports that savings on electricity bills will vary between 5 and 12 per cent, for a maximum annual saving to household of $263.

But whether Mr Hunt's confident assurance that the outlay of $2.5 billion in taxpayer funds will be enough to meet Australia's modest target of reducing carbon emission in 2020 by 5 per cent compared to levels in 2000 remains highly contested.

Almost all the modelling conducted by private firms, some of them linked to clean energy industry, find that it will fall well short.

Market analysis firm Reputex says it will achieve just 20 to 30 per cent of the greenhouse gas reductions needed to satisfy the 5 per cent goal.

Research commissioned by the Climate Institute says a shortfall would mean the government will have to spend an extra $4 billion to meet the obligation, which is a binding commitment.

"I wouldn't be quite so categorical that we won't reach the target," said Frank Jotzo, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Australian National University.

Trends towards greater energy efficiency, the decline of the manufacturing sector, a drop in demand for residential electricity due to high prices and investing in solar could all mean the 5 per cent goal is met, even if the contribution from Direct Action is minimal.

Even so, it's an extremely costly way of delivering lower carbon emissions, argues Mr Jotzo, and completely inadequate when it comes to reducing emissions beyond the currently mandated 5 per cent decline.

By the end of next year at a UN-sponsored summit in Paris, Australia will be required to join other nations in committing to further reductions in greenhouse gases well beyond 2020.

"There's an expectation that something quite significant will happen in Paris. There will be significant reductions in emissions. You just can't scale up Direct Action to deal with that without costing huge amounts of money."

Subsidising industry rather than using market forces to achieve a policy outcome is at odds with the philosophy of the government, not to mention its core policy objective of repairing the budget deficit.

The approach has always puzzled analysts, although Greens leader Christine Milne believes it is explained by the government's desire to look after its mates.

Such exhortations against big capital by the Greens might be considered pro forma.

But the Abbott government's ties to big business, and the mining and energy sector in particular, have no precedent in modern political history.

The Business Council of Australia chairman and chief economist helmed the government's commission of audit into the state of the budget.

The BCA, which represents the chief executives of Australia's biggest companies, was also instrumental in developing the government's industry policy released last month, where two of the five sectors earmarked for special assistance were in the mining sector.

The mining industry spent an extraordinary $22 million in six weeks during 2010 to discredit the mining tax, and has also provided political and financial support to Abbott's anti-carbon tax campaign.

An analysis of political donations by the Greens, sourced from Australian Electoral Commission data, show the fossil fuel sector donated $11.8 million to the major parties over the past 15 years, of which $8 million went to the Coalition.

Mr Palmer, too, benefits financially from the government's climate change approach. His Queensland nickel refinery is an emitter that paid almost $10 million in carbon taxes. It could now apply for a Direct Action subsidy to reduce emissions.

His extensive coalmining tenements in Queensland's Galilee Basin means he has an interest in the ongoing success of coal-fired power generators, big winners with the end of the carbon tax.

After announcing the policy backflip, Mr Palmer spruiked the merits of "clean" Australian coal as a solution to global warming.

Questions of whether Mr Palmer always intended to put his business interests first will linger. Certainly, the mining magnate began his journey into politics after Campbell Newman's Liberal National government in Queensland refused to support a proposed rail line that would serve his as yet undeveloped coalmines.

Until then, the former press secretary to Queensland premier Joh Bjelke Petersen was the party's major donor and a Coalition grandee.

Those who advised Mr Palmer insist the assessment is too harsh.

Don Henry, the former boss of the Australian Conservation Foundation, led the negotiations with Mr Palmer on behalf of Mr Gore.

He says Mr Palmer is a "complex character" who is "genuinely interested in a clean economy".

"He's genuinely wants to champion an ETS," says Mr Henry, adding "there was never any expectation that the government would immediately embrace it".

"It's good that the Climate Change Authority has been saved and given an additional and important role to look at an ETS and to look at the international targeting. I think it's an important step forward."

The stay of execution for the CCA, which is independent and advises government on what a future emissions reduction target should be and how to achieve it,  was the government's "gesture" to compensate Mr Palmer for rejecting his demand for an ETS with a price on carbon of zero that would rise as other countries embraced emissions reduction.

Despite a draft being circulated among press gallery staff in Canberra, the terms of reference for the review, let alone a plan to replace about 20 CCA staff who have resigned since the Coalition took office, are not yet forthcoming. At any rate, Mr Hunt, almost gleefully, said he will ignore any recommendation in favour of an ETS, as the body has done before.

"Our position is absolutely clear. We've just abolished the carbon tax and we're not about to reinstitute it whether you call it a carbon tax or an ETS," Mr Hunt told Fairfax Radio.


Australia's crooked BOM again

Heat is on the Weather Bureau after MP accuses it of wiping 118-year-old temperature records to justify claims of climate change

An MP will launch an inquiry which accuses the Bureau of Meteorology of manipulating figures on the impact of climate change.

George Christensen, member off the Nationals party, claimed the Bureau had 'fudged' records of rising temperatures as well as tampering with older data in order to justify claims of climate change.

The member for the seat of Dawson in Queensland used records from a drought in 1896, when temperatures reached 50C in Camden, south-west of Sydney, as well as 43C in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Mr Christensen said: 'I rise to paint a picture of Camden. A picture where Camden, just to the south-west of Sydney, is sweltering in 50C heat.'

He cited that in the summer of 1896 alone, there were 435 instances of heat related deaths.

'The Bureau of Meteorology claims it's getting hotter and hotter. How can last year be the hottest on record if it was hotter back in 1896, 118 years ago?' 'It's relatively simple: the early years are simply wiped from the official record.'

Mr Christensen claimed you can find the values he is referring to on the Bureau website, but they are not part of the official temperature record the bureau uses to report on climate change issues.

He said the Bureau was also involved in a process of tampering with the raw data so the past appeared cooler than the present.

'Obviously if you drop down temperatures from the past, all the later temperatures will appear warmer even if they are not,' he said.

'We cannot use fudged figures skewed to support a global warming hypothesis. We have a scientific process being tainted at the source.'

Mr Christensen said he would use evidence of the Bureau's misconduct to launch an inquiry this week.

Senator Simon Birmingham, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, told Daily Mail Australia 'the country's climate record and the methods used for analysis by the Bureau were independently reviewed by international experts in 2012 to ensure quality assurance, transparency and communication''

'The review concluded that the Bureau's data and methods for climate analysis were among the best in the world,' Mr Birmingham said.

'The review also recommended that a regular and independent technical forum occur to ensure continuous confidence in and improvement of this dataset.

'These measures should give all Australians confidence that the Bureau is continually striving to deliver the most accurate climate records, based on the best available scientific methodologies.'


Sydney:  Muslim gang implodes

In the end, it was not the armed robberies, the extortions or the drug deals that undid them. It was the brothers themselves.

After six on-and-off years of waging war on Sydney's streets, police declared the Brothers for Life gang dead this week with all key members behind bars or allegedly killed by their own.

"I'd like to think this is the final nail in the coffin," Homicide Squad commander Michael Willing said  this week following the charging of leader Farhad Qaumi, 33, with two murders.
Crime scene of police officer David Rixon who was fatally shot yesterday in Tamworth in the course of his duties. Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas and other senior officers before addressing media outside Tamworth police station.

The toll has been high. More than 300 charges have been laid against 21 members including extortions, home invasions and cocaine supply. The internal war resulted in two murders, 11 shootings, two knee-cappings and several bashings.

After being appointed "general" by gang founder Bassam Hamzy in 2013, Qaumi ran a ruthless operation, often bashing members savagely if they didn't follow orders, according to a police statement of facts submitted in court on Monday.

But police allege power and money went to his head, causing the gang's Blacktown and Bankstown chapters to turn on each other, with relations souring so rapidly that they effectively imploded.

Qaumi "utilised fear and physical violence to recruit and control young members of the Afghan community into committing violent acts, supplying drugs and perpetrating multiple shootings, in a bid to overpower the Bankstown chapter, whose members are primarily of Lebanese background," according to the police statement of facts on the gang obtained by The Sun-Herald.

As tensions over drug territory and extortions increased, paranoia got the better of Qaumi, police say.

On October 28, 2013, Qaumi was at the Anytime Fitness gym in Parramatta when a friend, Amanda Crowe, allegedly told him that she had heard through her incarcerated husband that Bankstown leader Mohammed "Hammoudie" Hamzy was trying to have him killed, according to the police.
Four Brothers for Life members have turned and are now cooperating with the police, exposing the inner workings of the gang.

Four Brothers for Life members have turned and are now cooperating with the police, exposing the inner workings of the gang.

He immediately gathered his brothers Mumtaz and Jamil and other members to meet at the Armani Restaurant in Parramatta, allegedly to plan the murder of Hamzy.

He was "furious" about the threat on his life, police allege in the court documents.

Two members of the Bankstown chapter arrived at the restaurant by chance, giving Qaumi more reason to believe the hit was imminent. He lied and told the Bankstown pair his crew had gathered because they were about to "do a drug rip".

The group moved to Granville Park where police allege Qaumi told his "soldiers" it was either him or Hamzy that would die that night.

Just after midnight, as the police document describes, Qaumi and Mumtaz allegedly went to the Coolibah Hotel in Merrylands so they would have an alibi. Crowe allegedly drove Jamil Qaumi, Navid Khalili and Mohammed Zarshoy to Hamzy's Revesby Heights home where a hidden police camera captured them jumping out of the car, storming the garage wearing black hoods and opening fire.

However, police believe they mistook Hamzy's cousin Mahmoud for him. After unleashing a hail of bullets, Jamil Qaumi allegedly walked up to Mahmoud Hamzy and fired twice into his head. Mohammed had escaped out the back door and survived.

Farhad Qaumi fled to Thailand in a state of fear but the shootings did not stop. There were a further four shootings in three weeks, including the accidental shooting of a relative of Bankstown member Masood Zakari and the shooting of three men outside the Chokolatta Cafe in Bankstown, one of whom was allegedly targeted because he had links to a real estate agent who knew Qaumi's address, police had earlier disclosed.

Police had to swoop immediately and adopted Al Capone-style tactics, locking them up on smaller offences to allow time to build a brief of evidence for bigger charges.

Chicago crime boss Capone was ultimately jailed in 1931 for tax evasion rather than the suspected murder of gangland rivals.

Ten members were arrested in November and the Qaumi brothers were put in custody in January, initially on charges including unlicensed firearms, animal cruelty and drug supply.

However, their list of charges has grown to almost 150 between them, including murder charges laid against all three on Monday.

"Brothers for Life were hit from all angles and had no room to move," Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas said, referring to a multi-pronged strategy of pro-active raids and investigations by multiple squads including local police, drugs, Middle Eastern Organised Crime and the gun crime-focused Operation Talon.

Crucially, four gang members have rolled over, exposing the inner workings of the gang.

One of them, a senior member known as Witness D, sent an anonymous text message to police on the night of the Hamzy murder saying that Farhad and Mumtaz Qaumi organised the hit and attended the Coolibah Hotel to provide an alibi, the police statement of facts said.

However, questions will be raised about whether Qaumi's downfall truly signals the death of Brothers for Life.

The reality is that the group has ebbed and flowed since 2008 when Bassam Hamzy first converted Supermax inmates to Islam and built a loyal group of followers.

The group waned after Hamzy was caught making 19,523 calls using a smuggled mobile phone.

But, their insignia reappeared on western Sydney streets in 2010 in extortion attempts.

Following the murder of Yehye Amood in 2012, the gang's influence flared again. When leaders have been imprisoned or killed, Hamzy has always managed to appoint another.

Former prisons boss Ron Woodham called Hamzy one of the greatest threats to jail security he had ever encountered, a person who could influence prisoners and orchestrate events on the outside even while in the highest security facility.

"Despite the fact that we have dismantled the Brothers for Life leadership, we cannot rest on our laurels," Deputy Commissioner Kaldas said. "There are still a number of people and gangs out on our streets who are willing to resort to mindless violence ... to settle criminal disputes."


Caught in the Play School of pure evil

LAST week, Australians were asking how a 17-year-old boy could wind up in Syria fronting a propaganda video for the barbaric terrorist gang IS.

On Wednesday night, the Seven Network ran an edited clip of a YouTube video showing a group of adult men coaching four Australian children aged six to 13 in a chant designed to rally Muslims to violently destroy Australian society and assassinate world leaders.

It answered the question posed by the so-called “ginger jihadi” Abdullah Elmir’s appearance in the IS video.

It also severely undercut last weekend’s mosque open day, calculated to whitewash the image of militant Islam that has attached itself to large sections of Sydney’s Muslim community since the unprovoked 2005 attacks on surfers at Cronulla by young Muslim men apparently inflamed by the sight of women bathers wearing bikinis.

As the deluded Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali suggested the following year, alluding to immodestly dressed women generally and linking them to a group of young Lebanese Muslim men who had received lengthy jail sentences for a series of brutal pack rapes, abandoned “meat” attracts ravenous animals.

He said there were women who “sway suggestively” and wore make-up and immodest dress and “then you get a judge without mercy and gives you 65 years”.

Bilal Skaf, the leader of the gang who raped and terrorised a number of young women in 2000, was initially sentenced to 55 years jail but had that term reduced on appeal.

“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?” he asked in his Ramadan sermon.  “The uncovered meat is the problem.”

The sheik’s insensitive demagoguery was denounced by a number of Muslim organisations at the time, but the riots in central Sydney two years ago showed again that despite the constant assurances from self-nominated leaders of the Islamic community, there remains a chance of militancy within the Muslim population — predominantly among younger members.

Reporter Bryan Seymour’s expose of the group known as The Muslim Youth Project provides a horrifying insight into one of the reasons for this.

In the YouTube video posted by Bilal Merhi, a senior member of radical group Hizb ut Tahrir, the young boys are shown performing under the banner “Soldiers Of The Khilafa” with a six-year-old leading the show, which took place at a rundown reception centre on Canterbury Rd in Lakemba on September 21, 2013.

The children chant a hymn to death-fighting to end democracy in Australia, replacing it with a caliphate ruled by Islamic sharia law.

They also call for American President Barack Obama to “go to hell”, for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be beheaded and for an end to Western ideals.

Several wave flags and the IS flag is to the side. In the unedited video, now removed from YouTube, four or five men are seen prompting the youngsters.

The use of children by Islamist extremists and terrorists is not new.

The Palestinian Authority has long used funds supplied by the United Nations and the European Union to broadcast programs designed to inspire young Palestinians to embrace martyrdom as an option.

Instead of Play School, the kids are taught about suicide bombers and other murderers, and instructed to hate Jews and non-Muslims.

In secular Western nations like Australia, overpaid politically correct public servants at every level of government attempt to justify their busybody jobs by policing nursery rhymes and demanding that all cultures be given equal time and praise.

It is doubtful their preachy condemnation has any impact on the Arabic-speaking households receiving satellite-delivered hate speech programs similar and worse to the Hizb ut Tahrir YouTube video.

The same do-gooders claim the West is in some way to blame for the hatred that fuels Islamist terrorists from Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, many of the African nations and across the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the satellite dishes aren’t pointing to Western broadcast outlets, they’re pointing in the other direction and pulling down the nauseating bile which inspires the so-called imams and jihadi recruiters such as the (hopefully) deceased Mohammad Ali Baryalei to lure children into the hands of IS murderers and other terrorists with dreams of paradise and an inexhaustible supply of virgins.

This is brainwashing. This is child abuse.

Grooming children to die is perhaps the ultimate abomination — and those who engage in this evil must be punished with the utmost severity.


2 November, 2014

No. No. We want you to stay in Australia, randomly kidnap people off the street, behead them and videotape it'

Chilling ISIS message to jihadists in Australia which led to US threat level being raised

A senior US congressman has provided chilling purported details about an Islamic State terror plot to kidnap and behead an Australian, in an apparent reference to last month's terror raids.

Mike Rogers, the chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, told FOX News 14 Australian IS recruits were 'ready to go to Syria' at the time and 'further their radicalisation'. 

But Rogers said the recruits were told to stay in Australia. He said they received a note from IS which said: 'No, No. What we want you to do, stay in Australia. We want you to randomly kidnap people off the street, behead them, videotape it, send it to us for further propaganda.'

Terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton told Daily Mail Australia the remarks were presumably a reference to the September 18 dawn terror raids, the largest the nation has witnessed.

More than 800 NSW and federal police were involved in the operation, which saw Omarjan Azari, 22, arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.

A court heard Azari had received a call from senior Australian Islamic State militant Mohammad Ali Baryalei and was instructed to behead a random member of the public in Sydney.

Prof Barton said it was unclear what briefings Rogers had received on the matter, and whether his remarks about Australians intending to flee to Syria were accurate.

'He seems to be speaking with some confidence on these (issues)', Prof Barton, from Monash University's Global Terrorism Research Centre, told Daily Mail Australia. 

Rogers linked a security boost at 9,500 US federal buildings with the alleged terror plot. 'They wanted to have a high-profile event in a Western country,' Rogers said.

'They wanted to show that they could reach out and strike a Western country, which is why we believe now you see all of this activity - Canada, the United States, across Europe, Germany, France, Spain, because they're actively working at trying to find an event that happens in a Western country that they can take credit for.'

Daily Mail Australia has approached the Australian Federal Police for comment on Rogers' remarks.

Friends this week said the ringleader of the alleged beheading plot, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, had been killed in the Middle East.

The Federal government was attempting to verify Baryalei's death on Wednesday.


Political correctness taking over Australian sport

FIRST Kurtley Beale from rugby union, then Paul Gallen from league.  Two elite players who committed sins of ­electronic communication have been hung drawn and quartered by sports bureaucracies that care more about process than people.

We now have these great sports run by men who treat the role as if it were just ­another business. The coaches are their senior executives and the players mere employees, governed by over-legalised human resources protocols as if they were office workers, and just as expendable.

Yet the true expendables are sports executives so cowed by political correctness and legal advice they have forgotten that without the players they have nothing.

Thus State of Origin hero Paul Gallen, who captained NSW to its first win in nine years, finds himself fined $50,000 with his international career and Blues captaincy under threat.

He didn’t stand on a blackjack table and urinate on a croupier. He didn’t assault anyone. He didn’t trash a hotel room. He wrote 18 words on twitter. “Steve Noice (sic) actually cared about players from cronulla’s feelings. Couldn’t say that about any other c*** from NRL.” That’s it.

Gallen was expressing his dismay at the sacking of Cronulla Chief executive Steve Noyce and discontent with the management of the NRL. Judging by the hyperbolic response to his tweet, his feelings were understandable.

He apologised immediately but there was no mercy from the NRL management he had so offended. What’s happened to judgment and proportion and fairness? Not to mention free speech.

Similarly, Wallabies star player Kurtley Beale was hung out to dry after committing what admittedly was a more serious transgression, when he sent an offensive text message inadvertently to the team’s business manager Di Patston.

He apologised and his apology was accepted. But four months later, the issue was embroiled in the ruthless machinery of human resources. It has almost destroyed his career, and has cost Patston and coach Ewen McKenzie their jobs.

Instead of being dealt with on a human level, the incident escalated into a managerial process-fest, dragged out with legal advice at 10 paces, and ­expensive external media ­consultants brought in to hose down the inevitable ­reputational damage suffered by everyone involved. A clue to the problem came from ARU CEO Bill Pulver, who was quoted saying, mid-drama: “I said that if anyone in my team inside the ARU sent text ­messages with that type of comment and content, that I considered it a dismissible ­offence.”

He considered the player was no different from an office worker, subject to the same workplace rules.

Going by that logic, the football field presumably is a workplace, so it won’t be long before someone works out that there are assaults going on there every day.

Common sense and basic human understanding has been replaced by procedures and integrity units and committees and tribunals, codes of conduct you need a law degree to understand and layer upon layer of management designed to offload decision-making.

This is the disease of managerialism, which afflicts almost every modern human enterprise. It’s the idea that generic management skills can be ­applied across any industry.

Whether it’s sport or journalism or a vehicle production line, it’s all the same.

Thus the Australian Rugby Union chose as its CEO ­Pulver, a successful businessman with no experience of sports administration other than as a schoolboy player.

“I look at Australian rugby as I would any other enterprise,” he declared when he took the job.

In league, CEO Dave Smith sang from the same songsheet when he was appointed last year. A Welsh banker, he couldn’t even name the Kangaroos captain.

Journalism experienced managerialism at Fairfax under former McKinsey ­manager Fred Hilmer.

Time and motion experts and management consultants were set loose on newsrooms in the vain hope that journalism could be boxed up and measured. Journalists became “content-providers” for ­advertising platforms.

Athletes are much the same. The flesh and blood that provides the magic that wins football matches, and catches the imaginations of the fans who pay for it all, is just ­another cog in a process which must continually be improved upon.

Managerialism’s finest ­moment in sport came last year when the nation’s five most powerful sports bosses trooped dutifully to Canberra to act as dumb props for the Gillard government’s latest ­diversionary tactic. They stood mute at that farcical press ­conference as Jason Clare and Kate Lundy slandered their players with claims their sports were riddled with drugs and organised crime.

Few of those claims ever stacked up, but the players were left with the smear.

Alarm bells should have rung before any of the sport bosses agreed to front up. But not one refused.

They just went along with the process, no matter how stupid, because that’s what managerialism demands.


Phil Rothfield reports that NRL judiciary chairman Paul Conlon has resigned today over the treatment of Paul Gallen.

Conlon emailed his resignation this afternoon to NRL chief executive Dave Smith and ARL commission chairman John Grant, claiming the $50,000 fine for swearing on social media was a gross overreaction.

In his resignation letter obtained by The Daily Telegraph, Conlon, who is also a District Court judge, wrote: “My role as judiciary chairman involves ensuring that charged players rights are protected and that they receive a fair and just hearing.

“I have never witnessed a penalty more disproportionate to the offending conduct than that dealt out to Paul Gallen.  “My role as a judge involves ensuring that punishment fits the crime.”

The long-serving judge also attacked the game’s hierarchy for demanding a please explain from NSWRL chairman Dr George Peponis for his support of the embattled Cronulla captain.

Peponis’ crime was to tell the Saturday Telegraph he ‘felt sorry’ for Gallen.

Conlon had been in charge of the judiciary for eight years.

“No player in the history of the game has been under as much pressure, stress and tension as Paul Gallen over the last two years,” Conlon said.


Independent umpire to watch Qld hospitals

THE performance of Queensland's public hospitals will soon be tracked by an independent umpire instead of the state's health department.

QUEENSLAND'S health ombudsman will audit and report data on how long patients at public hospitals must wait for surgery and emergency treatment from July 2015, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says.  The information is currently managed by the state's health department.

Mr Springborg said the government was responding to calls by the Australian Medical Association for more community oversight of Queensland Health facilities.

"This will give the public even greater confidence in our public hospital system," he said in a statement on Sunday.

Mr Springborg said the latest quarterly report showed wait times for surgery continued to reduce and would soon fall into line with recommended time frames.

The ombudsman, Leon Atkinson-MacEwen, will report on more areas of public hospital performance in future, the health minister said.

The health ombudsman role was introduced by the Newman government to investigate complaints in the public health sector.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Springborg's announcement was "complete and utter spin" and it was well known there was a "waiting list for the waiting list".

Ms Palaszczuk said the government didn't care about people and had cut health staff across Queensland.

"There is nothing more important than ensuring that families get the right access to health services right across this state," she told reporters on Sunday.

"And you can't get the right access when you've cut 4800 health workers across Queensland."


Road to hellish environmental concern

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately the Anglican Church of Australia seems to have set out on its own journey to that fiery destination.

Campaigners in the Anglican Diocese of Perth, led by convicted Hilton bomber Evan Pederick, have followed national church policy and forced the Perth synod to dump all its fossil fuel investments.

Other dioceses, as well as Anglican National Super which provides superannuation for the wider church, have now followed Perth’s lead.

According to Pederick, the decision to sell off coal, gas and oil holdings was an entirely moral one taken to protect God’s creation and the livelihoods of human beings.

But as The Australian’s columnist Gary Johns has pointed out, “an effective divestment campaign would increase the cost of power and harm the poor.”

Just who is the church trying to help? Fuel costs are already on the rise hitting poorer people hard in the hip pocket. The church doesn’t seem to care much about them.

Nor is it concerned to protect the jobs of those who live in communities like the NSW coalmining town of Denman.

“At the heart of this issue is people with mortgages, people with families,” says Jody Zammit, a priest in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle where coal has been the lifeblood of the region for years.

There is little sign the church is being mindful of any issue concerning the well-being of families, communities and people. Nor is it thinking seriously about energy policy.

Nuclear power would be a good alternative to power derived from coal, but the Anglican Church is dead set against that option. And it’s not much keener on cheap, affordable hydro-electric power.

In fact, the Anglican Church is probably not so much concerned with developing an effective national energy policy as it is with struggling to secure its own survival as church attendance drops.

Ageing church members are dying off leaving empty pews that are not being filled by new parishioners. As a result, the size of the Sunday collection put in the plate each week is dropping too.

The church is desperate to connect with a younger generation of people and to stem the drift away from church life.

Many Anglican church leaders think that greater advocacy on fashionable issues such as safeguarding the environment will help them connect with that missing generation.

But while the church is pursuing the idealistic environmentalists it will actually be harming working parents with families to raise, bills to pay, and homes to heat.

G.K. Chesterton once said, “Those who marry the spirit of the age will find themselves widows in the next.”  The Anglican Church of Australia is making the very mistake which Chesterton warned about.

No doubt church leaders are well-intentioned. But sometimes good intentions are not enough. Especially when the consequences of actions have a whiff of sulphur about them.


Where's the outrage over Saudi treatment of women?

An Australian sporting perspective

Imagine a nation that treats a huge section of its population as little more than slaves. A nation where many are not allowed access to a full education or a professional career. Picture a place where some citizens can count themselves lucky if they are allowed to show their faces in public, let alone attend a sporting event.

Now imagine this: a football stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this Sunday. A sweltering cauldron of sound. The Western Sydney Wanderers run on to the pitch to play the second leg of the final of the Asian Champions League against Al-Hilal.

Then, at the opening kick-off, the Wanderers all sit down and decline to play until Saudi Arabia agrees to recognise women as equals.

Our apologies. We'll now interrupt this broadcast and return to normal programming.

You can safely assume this Sunday's final will pass without a mention of women's rights in Saudi Arabia. There may be only one woman in the crowd of 65,000 - devout Wanderers fan Kate Durnell. And she has only been given permission to attend because she will be accompanied by her father and will wear a hijab.

Where is the anger, much less the outrage? Whatever happened to that generation in the 1970s who helped change the world? Did they all grow fat and old and decide sport was no longer a worthy weapon in the battle for human rights?

Say what you like about the 1970s. The naff idealism. The quaint notions of peace amid the threat of nuclear holocaust. At least it was a time when the world belatedly woke up to the evils of the apartheid system in South Africa and decided to do something about it.

Australian sport caught up with public opinion as Sir Donald Bradman directed that a cricket tour of South Africa be cancelled.

"We will not play them until they choose a team on a non-racist basis," declared Bradman who, just a year earlier, had not believed politics should mix with sport.

When the Springboks arrived in 1971 for a series of Tests, more than 700 Australians were arrested for disrupting the tour.

Such was the public outcry that games were played behind barbed wire. Unions banded together, forcing the tourists to travel around the country on air force planes.

These strident public protests eventually led to a stiffening in the resolve of politicians.  By the late 1970s, the world was condemning South Africa. And, little more than a decade later, the practice of measuring a person by the colour of their skin in that country was peeled away.

So where is the outcry as the Western Sydney Wanderers head to Saudi Arabia?

This is a nation that has long suppressed its women. They are not allowed to drive a car. In fact women under the age of 45 require a male guardian's permission to open a bank account, to seek a job, to undergo elective surgery and even to travel.

Enforcement is often swift and brutal and carried out by the Mutaween – a select group of religious police with the powers to detain Saudis and foreigners for whatever they deem "immoral".

Where's the moral outrage? Have we had to look the other way because of the diplomatic nuances required to live in a post 9/11 world?

Does our reliance on the Middle East oil pipeline preclude the West from speaking out against clear and present human injustices?

Or maybe we've just lost the zeal, the passion and the desire to make the world a better place.  Maybe we decided that soccer superiority beats civil rights hands down.


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.

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

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, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

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.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

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/is 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

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."

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.


Coral Reef Compendium
"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
Paralipomena 3
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Immigration Watch International" blog
"Eye on Britain"
"Paralipomena" 2
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
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)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
Selected pictures from blogs
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: