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

The original version of this blog is HERE. Dissecting Leftism is HERE (and mirrored here). The Blogroll. My Home Page. Email me (John Ray) here. Other mirror sites: Greenie Watch, Political Correctness Watch, Education Watch, Recipes and Tongue Tied. For a list of backups viewable in China, see here. (Click "Refresh" on your browser if background colour is missing) See here or here for the archives of this site

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, 2015

Why the childless should pay for other people's children

I don't  agree with all the reasoning below. To me the only issue is how the childless will be supported in their old age.  As it is now, other people's children support them -- children whom other people have made large financial sacrifices to raise.  That being so, it seems fair that the childless should chip in to help raise those children.  And roughly that happens now.  Is there a fairer system?  Maybe taxing childless people more heavily.  They should certainly not get a free ride -- JR

By Louise Roberts

Last time I checked, we Australians live in a society rather than a jungle and we help each other without expecting something lucrative in return.

A fair and reasonable society which nurtures its new generations yet offers government financial assistance to mums, dads or indeed both if they’re legitimately in need.

Families, you know, being the anchor of life.

Then there’s the society Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm claims us sponging, selfish breeders should live in. One where we should bow down and thank the child-free folk who cough up tonnes of tax dollars all their lives to help raise our “bundles of dribble and spittum”.

Leyonhjelm — himself not a father — this week was speaking in favour of a cause I do in fact support.

This is the new No Jab No Pay bill which from January 2016 blocks childcare payments and other benefits for the deluded parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

But in a logic which is truly skewed, the MP segued into an offensive, headline-grabbing rant against mums and dads, myself included, by claiming those without kids are forced to fund our five-star lifestyle.

“For some people, childlessness is not a choice; it is a great sadness. Forcing them to hand over money to more fortunate people is like charity in reverse,” he thundered in the Senate.

“It’s like making people in wheelchairs pay for other people’s running shoes.”

Here’s the thing — childless people should be subsidising families because it is the babies, the mums and the dads, who keep this country going.

They might be “other people’s kids” but they are the future, these irritating brats of today who will, with proper guidance and community infrastructure, be the productive taxpayers of tomorrow.

Yes, that means working as the barista, teacher, cop, dentist or palliative care nurse that even a childless person in 2015 might have to rely on in 40 years to come.

And therefore people who don’t have or don’t want kids but are working deserve to have a large chunk of their taxes go towards parents who need help to raise these sons and daughters.

As parents we are doing so much more than “leeching off” the child-free, we are breeding future tax payers. But in Leyonhjelm’s argument, the government “is not your parent or your spouse — get over it,” he said.

“You (the childless) work for more years and become more productive than the rest of Australia. You pay thousands and thousands of dollars more tax than other Australians. You get next to no welfare and your use of public health services is minimal.

“But you pay when other people get pregnant, you pay when they give birth, you pay when they stay at home to look after their offspring, you pay for the child’s food, clothing and shelter, you pay when the child goes to child care and you pay when the child goes to primary and secondary school. And then you pay when it goes to university.”

And it continued, a stream of anti-family and over-generalised garbage.

It’s obvious but we need new generations. The economy needs more babies. Maybe the gun-loving senator and his ilk need a reminder that low fertility rates are linked to diminished economic growth. That’s a text book basic.

We are all dependent on each other in a civilised society. I don’t have the qualifications to care for a terminally-ill patient but I am sincerely grateful that my tax dollars go towards educational opportunities for a stranger’s child who will one day work in the health industry.

In effect, someone else’s baby will work in a hospital and probably nurse me in my twilight years.

Then there’s the suggestion that children are “parasites” on the system — what about a heavy smoker who places a burden on the public health purse? A smoker choses to light up. A child has no say in being born.

It is shameful that when we decide to have children — those of us lucky enough to do so — we are lumped in with dole bludgers.

And if he is truly worried about tax, what about multinationals who make a huge profit in our markets and pay disproportionate penalties?

There may be few policies which benefit the childless and single, as Leyonhjelm argues, but protecting families is the point of government policy.

So when politicians cry “Won’t someone please think of the childless?”, I say we should be thinking of the child.

Look to China’s failed One Child policy if you want to see the alternative — less younger people to work, pay taxes and help look after the older generations.

Surely the idea would be to thank all taxpayers.

Fuelling a self-righteous Us and Them mentality just destroys our compassion.


Childcare tantrum over hourly fees

That wailing sound you heard coming from childcare centres this week was not from upset children. It was the caterwauling from the childcare industry as it howled with indignation over the ruinous, heretic suggestion by federal Minister for Education Simon Birmingham that parents should only be paying for the childcare they actually use.

Under the current system, a parent with the morning shift in a job-share might only use care for the first half of the day, but they’re still obliged to pay the full day flat rate – often 10 or 12 hours.

It’s not difficult to spot the childcare industry’s grievance – good, old-fashioned self-interested rent-seeking. After all, parents pay the full-day fees and the taxpayer helps parents by subsidising it with Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. Childcare providers are obviously the beneficiaries of this.

It’s very cheeky of the industry to whip out the Helen Lovejoy defence (“won’t somebody think of the children?”) in saying that part-day childcare isn’t good enough for early learning. There is a reason why the duration and length of the preschool day generally matches that of the school day – it’s because that’s the type of arrangement that works best for children’s learning. And the part-day, part-time model is also what the evidence says has the least amount of negative impact on kids’ emotional wellbeing and behaviour.

With older kids at school for six hours a day and adults generally at work for eight (with some dispute as to how much of that is productive), who could mount an honest intellectual argument that 10 to 12 hours is not only beneficial, but crucial for children’s learning?

The Minister has attempted to stress that this is only a suggestion, and won’t be compulsory for centres at that. Some version of this proposal is undoubtedly doable. At the very least, part-time blocks that fit neatly into the full-time day can better suit different parents’ work needs, and assist children who may not be able to access a formal preschool program.

Parents and taxpayers have much to gain from this proposal. The only interests being served by the status quo are those of the childcare industry, who enjoy the ensuing windfalls.


Judge this book by its cover

Jeremy Sammut

There was some controversy over the use of the famed Hogarth ‘Gin Lane’ etching for the cover of my book on child protection policy in Australia.

However, the image was chosen after due consideration of the potential controversies.

One of the landmarks of 18th century British art, this iconic image of parental dysfunction and child maltreatment was an important piece of social commentary pivotal to the formation of the modern social conscience.

It helped spur the development of the great movements for social improvement that took shape in Britain in the 19th century, including the anti-child cruelty or child rescue movement.

This movement, and the child welfare legislation it spawned, developed under the influence of the writings of no less a figure than JS Mill.

Mill was the first thinker to identify that children had independent rights as future citizens. In On Liberty, Mill argued that if parents failed to fulfil their fundamental obligations to the welfare and development of children, the state and its agents should step in to see that those obligations were fulfilled.

I believe that contemporary child protection practices in Australia – which over-emphasise family preservation and upholding the rights of abusive and neglectful parents at almost all costs – are perversion of the true origins of the field in Mill’s sense of child rescue and children’s rights.

Critics are sure to point to the cover and take offence at the apparent suggestion that what is done today in the name of child protection amounts to a return to Hogarthian times of society permitting and tolerating child abuse and neglect.

I am comfortable with that suggestion. Because that’s precisely what the book is saying.

If the claim that family preservation amounts to presiding over child maltreatment instead of eradicating it makes the critics uncomfortable, then good. Because the weight of facts, logic and evidence compiled in the book supports this claim.

Those who are shocked by the cover should also consider the alternatives. The cover could have featured the photos of the utter chaos and filth of the dysfunctional household in which Chloe Valentine was left to live and die by Families SA, which were tendered into evidence at the coronial inquest into her death.

These photos where simply too shocking, too disgusting, too disturbing to put on the cover. Those who find Hogarth too shocking ought to take their social consciences for a walk through the underclass homes in which too many children suffer.


A new Aussie icon? Alongside Vegemite?

AS A columnist and memoir writer, I am used to sharing dark secrets with my readers. I have admitted to motherhood failures, to the breakdown of my marriage, to having anxiety, and to a thousand embarrassments and humiliations. But no revelation has ever evoked such an uproar, such unrest, as my recent confession.

And so, bracing myself for the flak, I will repeat it here.
I do not like the Golden Gaytime.

Yes, it’s true. That iconic ice cream, that symbol of Australian summer, that epitome of bronzed beach culture, is not at all to my taste. I don’t like it. In fact, I find it a little bit repulsive.

Now, I love toffee ice cream as a concept, but the rendition in the Gaytime is both bland and sickly sweet. It’s not ice cream; it’s confectionary, and unsatisfying at that. The chocolate coating is too thin, and the biscuit crumbs are hideously unrefreshing. The whole combination is wrong. Give me a Magnum or a chocolate Paddlepop any day of the week.

But why is this even relevant? When I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was not a fan of the famous snack on a stick, I was pilloried. And although most of the criticism was pretty damn funny, the message came through loud and clear.

To dislike the Gaytime is to be unAustralian. And I, the disliker, am a national disgrace. The comments came in thick and fast.

“You don’t like the Gaytime? I’m shocked and appalled!” wrote Michelle.

“Unfollowed,” wrote Mel. “Gaytimes are f**king awesome.”

“Kerri. Delete this sick filth,” demanded Shannon.

And from Robin: “You’re clearly in a negative emotional space to even think of calling Gaytimes crap. Gaytimes are the ultimate in ice cream experiences. I hope you take some time to meditate on this issue and see the error of your ways.”

Even my old friend G texted me to complain. “You don’t like Golden Gaytimes? And you only reveal this now??? Et tu, Brute!”

I was stunned. How can not liking a popular food cause so much outrage? What was wrong with people?

Is ice cream simply fat and sugar-laden junk food or is there some nutritional goodness?

But then I turned on the radio, and heard a celebrity announcer discuss the fact that she prefers Promite or Marmite to Vegemite.

What kind of a monster is this woman? I thought. What kind of demented tastebuds does she have that prefer Promite or Marmite to the One and Only Yeast Extract Spread? She needs to be banished from the airways, I decided. No, she needs to be banished from this country! She isn’t an Australian! She’s a traitor and a disgrace!!!

And then I realised. Perhaps I had been too dismissive of the Gaytime. For the sake of our nation, I might give it another try.


29 November, 2015

An evil crusade against an innocent woman comes to an end

It finally took a conservative NSW government to do justice. The article below was written by Wendy Bacon and appeared in "New Matilda". The Bacons, Salmons and Gentles were three well known Communist families in the heyday of the now defunct Communist Party of Australia and, as they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  So Wendy appears to have remained true to her political inheritance.  So I would not normally quote her. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day however and I have been following the Catt case since the beginning.  And I can say that Wendy had no need to exaggerate in her story below.  It really was as bad as she says

It looked like another day of dry court proceedings and delays. But then a message from out of the blue turned a 26-year campaign for justice on its head. Wendy Bacon, who has followed the story for 16 years, on the day NSW finally ended its pursuit of Roseanne Beckett:

On Monday afternoon I was on my way home from the NSW Supreme Court when into my inbox popped an unexpected message from the media advisor for the NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton. “Attached is a statement which might be of interest to you.”

I read the first words. “The State has agreed to pay Roseanne Beckett nearly $4.092 million in damages. This relates to two counts of malicious prosecution. Payment for Ms Beckett will be made shortly.”

After 26 years, Roseanne Beckett had finally triumphed. I read it again and immediately rang Beckett who told me she had been downloading an urgent message on her phone. At first she did not absorb the news. But when I said this means you never have to go to court again, she began to sob.

This is highly unusual for a woman who has stood strong under enormous pressure. Like all of us, Beckett’s mood and manner changes with her circumstances. I have seen her angry, elated, charming, steely, irritated, demoralised, and scared. There were grim moments during the fifteen years that I have followed the case, such as when no lawyer could be found to adequately represent her, or when she received tapes of Barry Catt screaming threats against her and another women. Beckett, her family, and other witnesses remained terrified of Peter Thomas – the former detective who framed her for a number of offences – until he died last year.

She was deeply distressed and humiliated when Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes aired false allegations that she was a child abuser after her release in 2001. But only once before have I heard her voice break into sobs and that was when her daughter Julie, who had stood by her side during the 2004 Inquiry into her convictions, became a quadriplegic after a tragic car accident in Canada.

Before the news came through a Monday hearing in the case of Roseanne Beckett against the State of NSW had been an anti-climax. The Crown Law department sent two barristers and a solicitor to inform the Court that the State of NSW would withdraw its application to Justice Harrison to put a stay on his judgment awarding Roseanne Beckett just over $4 million in damages.

Beckett, her lawyers, and supporters left the court expecting that an appeal and possibly an application to stay the judgment would still be lodged in the Court of Appeal. For an appeal that will take several days, the waiting time can be more than a year. If the Crown had appealed, Beckett’s team intended to cross-appeal against the decision in the malicious prosecution counts that she did not win. For Beckett, who is now in her late sixties, it looked like she was looking forward to a future of more tense days of court preparation and hearing. The fact that if the Crown failed to pay the damages interest would start to accrue was not much comfort.

As we left the court the jubilation of the victory several weeks ago was muted.

However, behind the scenes political pressure was building. Supporters had begun sending letters to the Premier Mike Baird and NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton. The feminist online campaigning group Destroy the Joint had posted New Matilda’s story on its site while 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones has been calling for justice for Beckett for some time. A formidable combination if ever there was one.

It was also clear at recent court hearings that the Crown was scrambling to find legal points on which to mount an appeal.

I was mulling over these events when the email came through. Upton’s statement read, “This is the right thing to do. [Beckett’s] case is extraordinary and requires a sensitive response after so long including 10 years of imprisonment for Ms Beckett. Roseanne Beckett has been through enough and should not have to fight the government anymore. She deserves the right to move on.”

Finally the Crown law department, that has so consistently refused to accept responsibility for any of the misdeeds of those acting on the state’s behalf, has been instructed to concede. The fact that the news is welcome should not obliterate 26 years of failure.

Beckett, who soon recovered her equilibrium, told New Matilda: “The hardest thing about the fight was the very fact the people in positions of power such as the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown were aware Thomas was a criminal from day one, they had more than enough well-documented evidence to that very fact, yet they restlessly pursued me with the public purse at their disposal. How can any person match that?”

Not long after Beckett’s arrest the Manager of Family and Community Services in Taree Greg Baggs had reported that he had been threatened and stood over by the detective in charge of the case, Peter Thomas. Baggs had criticised Thomas for handing Beckett’s step-children, who had alleged their father Barry Catt had abused them, over to one of his close friends. In a later report to the NSW Ombudsman he noted the sinister under-tones running through the case and recent allegations of a police liaison officer’s involvement in abuse of Aboriginal children. He noted how much Beckett cared for the children and protected their interests. All of this material was available at the trial but was never handed by the NSW Police or Director of Public Prosecutions to the defence lawyers.

Even before her 1991 trial, Thomas had resigned from the police while charges against him had been recommended but not pursued. Right up until the end of the malicious prosecution trial the State was actively working to prevent evidence of Thomas’ numerous wrong doings being presented in court.

Beckett hopes that her “difficult journey, will now make it much easier for many innocent victims to obtain justice – that they don’t have to suffer and fight as I have.”

But that will only happen if there is reform that allows miscarriage of justice cases to be considered by a non-adversarial body that has the purpose of establishing the truth in order to deliver a just result.

Yesterday, miscarriage of justice researcher and campaigner Dr Bob Moles called for national reform.

Moles’ organisation Networked Knowledge has already won reforms giving potential victims of miscarriages of justice more rights to appeal in South Australia and is now campaigning for a new Right to Appeal act in all states, and the establishment of a national Criminal Cases Review Commission. (For more, see his timeline).

Moles has been involved for many years in seeking the release of Henry Keogh who spent 21 years in prison for a murder conviction that was finally overturned last year. The office of the SA Director of Public Prosecutions announced last week that it would drop a further attempt to prosecute Keogh. As in Beckett’s case, senior officers were aware of evidence raising doubts about Keogh’s conviction ten years before his release.

In a letter to me Moles wrote, “What happened to Roseanne is a perfect illustration of the systemic and deeply entrenched ‘mates’ network which can be called upon to protect the perpetrators of such illegal activities.”

Moles also wrote that findings by Judge Davidson, who found after his inquiry into Beckett’s convictions in 2004 that key Crown witnesses were likely to have fabricated evidence against her, “should have sounded alarm bells and brought urgent assistance to deal with this issue. Instead, Roseanne has had to battle with the legal system for just over 10 years since then to attain justice. It is clear that police officers, who were duty bound to assist Roseanne, used their powers to distort the investigatory and judicial process and to secure the conviction on multiple serious charges of an innocent woman.”

“This is the worst possible type of miscarriage of justice – when the legal process is hijacked by the legal officials (police officers) who consciously and deliberately use the legal system to inflict serious harm on innocent citizens. The shame here is that there should be inbuilt checks and balances with systems of peer review to identify such aberrations at the earliest opportunity.”

Moles agrees with Roseanne Beckett that domestic violence was at the heart of her matter. “Barry Catt was a very violent person, he was protected, I was the victim, yet I was the one persecuted,” said Beckett.

Roseanne Beckett’s case will be remembered for the way she was vilified, the amount of compensation she was awarded, the years she spent in prison and the length of her fight for justice. If she had allowed domestic abuse to continue she might well have ended up dead. If she had fled, she would have left Barry Catt’s children in danger. She tried to exercise her legal rights to hold Catt accountable for his actions but she was outsmarted by Barry Catt’s mate Peter Thomas and ended up in jail herself.


Same-sex marriage debate goes to the heart of our democracy

Can state recognition of same-sex marriage be reconciled with religious freedom?

The calculated assault on freedom of religious liberty in Australia is rapidly gaining pace with the focus in Tasmania where the Catholic Bishops of Australia now face formal action on the grounds that their defence of traditional marriage contravenes anti-discrimination law.

This action — an effort to deny the Catholic Church the right to ventilate its social and religious views on marriage as a union between a man and a woman — has become a test case. The issue is manifest: it is whether existing law and current public opinion can censor or partially silence the churches from full public expressions of their beliefs.

For Australia and its alleged open spirit of debate, this is an unprecedented situation. It reveals an aggressive secularism dressed in the moral cause of anti-discrimination justice but with a long-run agenda that seeks to transform our values and, ultimately, drive religion into the shadows. The vanguard for this drive is the same-sex marriage campaign.

The Tasmanian action before the state’s Anti-Discrimination Commission highlights what many parliamentarians and journalists have preferred to deny: that the campaign for same-sex marriage threatens to infringe the rights of the church and religious freedom. Sustained denials of this proposition by many pro same-sex marriage politicians are untenable given the evidence to the contrary.

Their denialism is based in several different notions — a desire to make the same-sex marriage transition as fast and smooth as possible, a naivety about its meaning and a more disreputable sentiment, namely, a quiet acceptance that same-sex marriage as an ideology must strike against freedom of religious conscience.

With the Turnbull government upholding the previous pledge of the Abbott government to conduct a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage the immediate issue is whether advocates of traditional marriage will be inhibited and intimidated in making their case in a campaign. This would be an extraordinary situation for the country. Yet it has a logic flowing from the Tasmania case.

The greater danger, however, lies elsewhere. It is whether the terms and conditions under which same-sex marriage is legislated in this country is founded in a new intolerance against religious freedom. The refusal of many federal parliamentarians to confront this issue honestly is a conspicuous feature of the public debate.

The churches, belatedly, are rallying on this issue. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said in his recent Acton Lecture that Pope Francis had identified “respect for the democratic ideal of religious liberty as an essential precondition of peaceful coexistence”. Going to the heart of the issue, he quoted the Pope that “religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere” and must be preserved in the public square. Yet this is the exact point of the ideological attack.

Fisher’s lecture sketches the cultural crisis the church sees as a potential outcome for Australia — that in 10 years religious schools will be forced by law to teach a gay-friendly concept of marriage in conflict with their beliefs, that clergy will face fines and possibly imprisonment, that faith schools and teachers will be mired in legal threats for “hate speech”, that religious organisations will be compelled by law to extend spousal benefits on a same-sex basis and will have lost their charitable status and that all businesses will be compelled to provide services for same-sex marriage, regardless of their beliefs.

Referring to the decision of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission, prominent Jesuit and law professor Frank Brennan, who accepts same-sex marriage will be legislated, tells Inquirer: “To date, the bishops have spoken cautiously and respectfully. They know their views are not in fashion. It is ridiculous to have a national debate on a plebiscite stifled by assertions that church teaching on marriage is offensive to some individuals and likely to cause offence to a reasonable person.

“Debate should not be put on hold while the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Board decides whether it is arguable that a reasonable person might be ­offended. The board is not the thought police or, at least, it shouldn’t be. Those who take ­offence are those who think churches should butt out of all moral debate in the public square. On this one, we should all let a thousand flowers bloom.”

This is a contest over power, ideas and law. With the Catholic Church deeply compromised and unpopular because of the child sexual abuses and cover-ups, it is vulnerable to a calculated strike by parliaments and anti-discrimination boards using the cover of same-sex justice to achieve a quantum reduction in religious freedom and a pivotal change in the norms of our society.

The complainant in Tasmania, transgender Greens political candidate, Martine Delaney, said the church’s 15-page pastoral letter, “Don’t Mess with Marriage” authorised by the Catholic Bishops of Australia was “insulting” and “offensive”. Tasmanian law has an exceptionally low threshold for unlawful conduct under anti-discrimination law and therefore is the ideal jurisdiction to intimidate expressions of faith.

Australian Marriage Equality, the main lobby group for same-sex marriage, has given robust support to the complaint. “This booklet denigrates and demeans same-sex relationships and will do immense harm to gay students and students being raised by same-sex couples,” AME national director Rodney Croome said in June.

“The Catholic Church has every right to express its views from the pulpit but it is completely inappropriate to enlist young people as the couriers of its prejudice. Any principal or teacher who exposes vulnerable children to such damaging messages not only violates their duty of care but is a danger to students.”

Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks found the Catholics bishops and Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous have a case to answer. Procedures are under way that could involve a conciliation process and, if that fails, then a hearing before a tribunal.

Porteous has said the federal debate about marriage “has significant implications for the future of our society” and tells Inquirer his intention is to ensure the Catholic community “understood where we stand on the issue of marriage’’.

“It was not my intention to ­offend,” he says. “Rather, it was and is, to express the teaching of the Catholic Church. I regret if ­offence has been taken by individuals and will work with the commission to resolve the matter.”

The pastoral letter was distributed to parents of Catholic school students. It defends existing Australian law, including the Marriage Amendment Act of 2004 and the Catholic sacrament of marriage. The letter begins with a declaration that the Catholic Church opposes all forms of unjust discrimination. It says gay people must be treated with “respect, compassion and sensitivity” and “every sign of discrimination” against them “should be avoided”.

The letter says a struggle is now under way “for the very soul of marriage”. It says “the union of a man and a woman is different from other unions — not the same as other unions”. Accordingly, it is “unjust” to assert there is “nothing distinctive about a man and a woman, a father or a mother”. For the church, marriage is both a natural and holy institution. It ­argues the importance, as far as possible, of children having both a mother and father.

It says if the law changed, then our culture would teach marriage was merely an emotional bond rather than a union founded on sexual complementarity. It warns that in this situation, people who adhered to the natural definition of marriage “will be characterised as old-fashioned, even bigots, who must answer to social disapproval and the law”. Finally, it lists a series of examples from abroad showing that even if same-sex marriage law has an exemption for ministers of religion, freedom of religious conscience is gradually being eroded.

AME’s repudiation of this letter as an acceptable “public square” document reveals the sheer extent of the deadlock in the same-sex marriage debate. The consequences far transcend the definition of marriage itself. Same-sex marriage is provoking an upheaval about freedom of conscience, religious liberty and the norms that govern our democratic discourse.

The same-sex lobby believes such an authorised letter of church teaching constitutes prejudice, an offence against gays, a danger to children, denigrates same-sex relationships and should not be tolerated under anti-discrimination law.

In short, it is unacceptable for the Catholic Church to make its case because that case is offensive. Ultimately, this is the bedrock position. In Tasmania the church is now fighting for the right to expound its beliefs in the public square. The culture of repression sanctioned by anti-discrimination law continues to grow.

Its impact is already marked. Many people will not defend existing law or the centuries-long traditional concept of marriage precisely because they are accused of prejudice or offending others. Brennan’s point is correct: in its essence this is a campaign to force the voice of the churches from the public square on the grounds of ­offensiveness.

Anti-discrimination laws vary across the states. The extent to which they can be harvested once same-sex marriage is legislated is difficult to assess and, in some states, the churches may still sit on solid ground. But there can be no doubting that among same-sex marriage activists, the political will exists and the pathway is apparent to silence opponents. One upshot is that Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman has said he will review Tasmania’s law in the light of recent events.

What is required, however, is a new approach to the same-sex marriage debate. That approach has been best articulated by Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, who said some time ago that in this transition, support for same-sex marriage and support for religious freedom should enjoy equal status. This would be the response of a tolerant society. It has not been the approach of the Australian parliament.

The legislation of same-sex marriage means the laws of the state and the laws of the churches (at least most churches) will be in conflict over the meaning of marriage. This leads to the question: how tenable will this historic difference be? And it prompts another question: is the push for same-sex marriage founded in tolerance or intolerance? The evidence is mixed and varies from person to person, group to group.

What is undeniable, however, is that marriage equality is a powerful ideology and ideologies rarely stop short of complete victory. Can state recognition of same-sex marriage be reconciled with religious freedom or is the erosion of freedom of religious conscience an integral step on this journey?

These are the real issues at stake. The country deserves more than weasel words from its politicians and hollow crusading from its media. Don’t be fooled, yet again, by phony assurances that Tasmania is a one-off, means nothing and will be easily settled. It is, rather, a signal that issues without precedent for our democracy are being put on the table.


Bill Shorten’s carbon hit to cost of living

Former Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbin warned that the Labor plan went too far beyond the commitments being made by similar nations.

Bill Shorten has sparked a polit­ical fight over the cost of living after setting a climate change target that could impose a cost burden 10 times greater than Julia Gillard’s carbon tax.

The new Labor target was branded “way out of range” of other countries as world leaders prepare to meet in Paris on Monday to try to agree on a united plan to address global warming.

Labor is defending its goal of a 45 per cent cut in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by insisting­ it will not need an expensiv­e price on carbon that drives up household energy bills.

In a break from bipartisanship on previous targets, Labor’s ambition is almost twice the size of the government’s offic­ial goal of cutting carbon pollution by 26-28 per cent, which Malcolm Turnbull will reiterate when he attends the Paris talks.

The Opposition Leader’s move prompted concerns yesterday that a partisan brawl over competing targets would damage the prospects for real action on climate change, frightening investors and making a consensus more difficult.

Former Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbin, the author of a detailed economic study of climate change targets, warned that the Labor plan went too far beyond the commitments being made by similar nations.

Professor McKibbin estimated that the Labor goal would need a carbon price of $200 a tonne without access to inter­national credits — almost 10 times the $23 fixed price in Ms Gillard’s carbon pricing scheme four years ago.

While only an early estimate, the $200 figure is a like-for-like comparison in today’s dollars based on the fact that the carbon tax only needed to achieve a 5 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Mr Shorten said yesterday that Labor would set up an “internationally linked” emissions trading scheme, suggesting it could allow the purchase of permits that might keep the price down. The new Labor and Coal­ition targets aim to cut carbon emissions by 2030, compared with the base year of 2005.

Professor McKibbin, who holds the chair in public policy at the Centre for Applied Macro­economic Analysis at the Australian National University, said Labor’s target was “far more than any other country” was planning at Paris.

“Why would you go much harder than everyone else when it’s the global target that matters?” he asked.

“At the moment, Australia is contributing a greater economic loss than other countries with the 26-28 per cent target. To be going further out in front is not good policy.”

The Labor target compares with commitments by Japan (25 per cent), the US (41 per cent) and Europe (34 per cent).

Frontier Economics director Danny Price said the real impact on Australians was greater on a per-capita basis and showed that Labor was too far ahead of other countries. “The problem with such tough targets and high costs is that they generate objections to clim­ate change policies,” said Mr Price, an expert in the carbon pricing debate over the past decade.

“You can see why Labor’s doing it, because they want to appeal to Labor/Green voters. But in appealing to those voters it makes the actual­ implementation of the policy less likely.”

The Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group welcomed the chance to consult with Labor on the new target, but the Minerals Council of Australia dismissed it as an “ambit claim” and favoured the government plan instead.

Climate Institute chief John Connor said the Labor target was “stronger and more credible” and would achieve the agreed inter­national goal of preventing global temperatures rising by 2C — something he said the government target would not do.

The Climate Change Author­ity, set up by Labor, recommends a cut of 40-60 per cent.

Labor is yet to reveal how its ETS would work or what price it would set, the key factor in shaping the cost impact on households.

Professor McKibbin’s economic analysis with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade this year found that a 26 per cent target would trim 0.6 per cent from gross domestic product in 2030 while a 45 per cent target would trim 1 per cent from GDP instead.

Given that the government’s Intergenerational Report forecasts GDP to reach about $3 trillion in 2030, Labor’s target would in theory cost $30 billion in forgone economic output in that year. The government target would cost $18bn. Economic growth continues under both targets.

Mr Shorten countered the idea that his target would hurt the economy, saying “this modelling took no account of the ­economic consequences of not adopting this sort of target”.

Setting out his policy in a speech to the Lowy Institute in Sydney yesterday, Mr Shorten made it clear there would be help for families to deal with the costs.

“We will undertake this process mindful of the consequences for jobs, for regions and for any impact­s on households,” he said.

Labor also argues it will not have to rely only on an ETS to reach its target because of its commitment to make renewable energy account for half of all power by 2030.

Scott Morrison warned of the economic damage from the Labor plan while Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the policy would “smash household budgets” and the economy by re­introducing a carbon tax. Labor rejected­ the claim that its ETS would be a carbon tax, citing a comment from the Prime Minister in September that drew a distinction between a carbon tax and an ETS and other mechanisms to reduce emissions.


27 November, 2015

"Miss Dhu" did NOT die because of unpaid fines

The claim below that she did is totally dishonest.  She died from the complications of a bashing she received from her partner. Aboriginal men bashing their women is a sadly common occurrence.  I have seen it myself and it can be very severe. Only a greatly enhanced police presence in Aboriginal communities might help the women concerned. The claim below, by contrast, ignores all that,  simply making cynical use of her case in order to get fines waived for Aborigines.

And the authorities were not negligent.  Seeing that she was ill, they took her to hospital several times.  The doctors however had difficulty finding what was wrong, not because of ill-will but because of the characteristic difficulty Aborigines have in communicating with whites.  For instance, it is a reflexive custom for Aborigines to say what they think their questioner wants to hear.  So a question such as "Are you OK now?" would get a Yes reply even if such a reply were inaccurate.

And it does appear that her repeated unsuccessful visits to hospital had made the guards impatient and suspicious, which is why they were a bit rough with her towards the end but which is also an understandable response in the circumstances. 

Clearly, nobody was aware of the difficulties that communication with Aborigines can pose.  So if there are any lessons to be learned it is to improve that understanding, either by employing experienced Aboriginal intermediaries or by having all staff trained by people who really know Aborigines and their culture well.  It really is an art.

I note in passing that the doctor who saw her was from India.  That could well have amplified the communication difficulties.  One often hears of problems arising from a "communication breakdown" but this would appear to be a particularly unfortunate example of it

Miss Dhu died in police custody in excruciating pain, all because she couldn’t pay her fines.

IMAGINE this. You’re 22-years-old, and you should have your whole life ahead of you.

Instead, you’re stuck in a violent relationship, using drugs and facing legal troubles. The bills are piling up, and so are the fines you’ve been ordered to pay by the courts — $3622.

That’s the situation a young Yamatji woman, known as Miss Dhu for cultural reasons, found herself in when she paid the ultimate price, a West Australian coronial inquest has heard.

Miss Dhu died in agonising pain in police custody last year — all because she could not afford to pay her fines.

The case has prompted calls for WA laws to be overhauled, so that vulnerable Australians who cannot pay their fines do not meet the same tragic fate.

Family members who filled the courtroom when a two-week inquest into Miss Dhu’s death opened yesterday gasped and cried while watching security footage of her time in custody at South Hedland Police Station, in the Pilbarra.

Security footage showed a male police officer entering Miss Dhu’s cell and trying to lift her up by her arm, before she slumped back and hit her head on the concrete floor.

The footage showed police dragging and carrying her limp body from the cell to a divvy van. One officer was heard telling Miss Dhu to “shut up” as she moaned.

Less than an hour later, she was dead.

A lethal combination of pneumonia and septicaemia killed Miss Dhu, who the court heard had suffered broken ribs at the hands of her violent partner.

The inquest heard she had repeatedly complained in custody of pain and having difficulty breathing. Miss Dhu’s father Robert testified she had told him her boyfriend had “flogged” her and broken her ribs.

She was taken to the Hedland Health Campus hospital twice in two days, and each time doctors deemed her fit to remain in custody after giving her medication, including diazepam and paracetamol.

On the third day, Miss Dhu could not move her legs and her body was numb, so police carried her to the van and took her to hospital again.

But one officer believed she pretended to faint when they placed her in a wheelchair.

Dr Vafa Naderi told the court Miss Dhu kept changing her story, which made it difficult to characterise the nature and location of her pain.

“Dr Naderi’s impression was that she was withdrawing from drugs or had behavioural issues,” counsel assisting the coroner Ilona O’Brien said in her opening address.

Miss Dhu’s mother Della Roe told the coroner her daughter was family-oriented and bubbly, but that changed when she started dating a much older man and using drugs.

On one occasion, Ms Roe noticed her daughter had a black eye, but when she asked whether her partner had hit her, Miss Dhu replied: “Oh mum, don’t worry. It’s an old one, it’s going away.”

Miss Dhu’s father said he was concerned his daughter was treated cruelly and like a dog in custody. “They should not treat anybody like that,” he said.

Outside court, Ms Roe sobbed while describing the depression, grief and sleepless nights she suffered as a result of her daughter’s death. “I still have no answers; I still don’t know how or why she died,” she told the ABC.

“These emotions I go through is like a temperature gauge, the pressure is high and I don’t know where I should stand. I want answers for myself, my family and for friends that knew my daughter.”

Miss Dhu’s family is campaigning for changes to WA laws for people who cannot pay fines, with the help of the Human Rights Law Centre.

In the state, recipients of fines can elect to spend a day in jail for every $250 worth of fines, a policy that has been blamed for the high number of indigenous people in WA jails.

Shadow Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt has called it “a terrible way to operate a justice system, a terrible way to operate the finances of the state”, and unfairly targeted the poor.

Lawyer Ruth Barson said about 1000 people were jailed every year because of unpaid fines.  “Miss Dhu was a young woman without any money in a domestic violence situation. She was locked up because she had not paid her fines,” Ms Barson told the ABC.

“Even though Miss Dhu tragically died over 12 months ago, the Western Australian Government is yet to change the laws that allowed such a vulnerable young woman to be locked up ... Western Australia urgently needs a fair and a flexible fines system like that in New South Wales which differentiates between those who will not and those who cannot pay their fines.

“Vulnerable people like Miss Dhu who can’t pay their fines should not be locked up; rather they should be given the opportunity to rebuild their lives. It is time for the Western Australia to take action and rebalance the justice system.”

Back in 1987, NSW teenager Jamie Partlic was attacked and left in a coma for six weeks by another inmate at Long Bay prison, where he had been locked up for refusing to pay a parking fine.

The laws were then changed so that prison was no longer an option; instead, licences can be suspended, the Sheriff’s Office can confiscated belongings to be sold to pay off fines, and community service can be ordered.

Other legal reforms being debated in WA include a custody notification service like in NSW, where the Aboriginal Legal Service must be notified every time an indigenous person is taken into custody.

The WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committee has urged that Miss Dhu’s death ought not be in vain, and is campaigning on Facebook for law reform.

Chairman Marc Newhouse told The Australian the case must not be overlooked as it “goes to the heart of the criminalisation of vulnerable women”.

Premier Colin Barnett fast-tracked the inquest after public outrage, which included rallies across Australia about deaths in custody.


Tolerance of Muslim hostility has gone too far

HANDOUTS and #hashtags haven’t worked, multi-faith kumbaya sessions haven’t cut any ice — the evidence is that the only way to eradicate ­Islamist terrorism is to kill the terrorists.

Recruit as many imams as you may wish but Muslims admit their faith has no Pope, no central figure with a commanding stature, and no discipline beyond the wildly differing interpretations of the 1400-year-old Koranic verses.

As evidenced by the war that has raged between Shia and Sunni Muslims since the death of Mohammed, the most diligent Koranic scholars offer little hope of peace either.

Multiculturalism certainly isn’t the key. Nations that have opted for the soft-left view that all cultures have equal value are now wondering why they have no-go zones like Belgium’s Molenbeek, which in the week since the atrocities committed in Paris became shorthand for Islamist terrorism in Europe after Molenbeek residents were identified as the brains behind the slaughter.

Writing in the Belgian newspaper La Libre, Belgium Liberal senator Alain Destexhe, the former secretary-general of Doctors Without Borders, expressed his shock at the lawlessness he found. “I was in shock there,” he wrote. “Women covered with a burqa, in contradiction of Belgian law, walk around undisturbed next to policemen. Officials of the electricity and water companies don’t come to check the meters without bodyguards.”

He blamed his country’s socialists, those who “in their youth worshipped Stalin and ignored the gulags, and in their old age have fallen captive to the charms of the Muslim clerics”. He also targeted former socialist mayor Philippe Moreaux, who stands accused of conducting a “social multicultural laboratory experiment” in the suburb during a period of major immigration from the 1970s that saw the north African population grow fourfold.

The suburb now has a population which is one-quarter Muslim, similar to that of metropolitan Brussels, but which has some neighbourhoods where some 80 per cent of the people are descendants of north Africa. Unemployment in Molenbeek is almost 30 per cent, compared with 8.5 per cent for the rest of Brussels.
Belgium’s Socialist Party relied on Muslim votes to hold power on the council and permitted Muslim residents to reject traditional Belgian culture.

Australia has a far smaller percentage of Muslim residents than Belgium but, alarmingly, has provided a disproportionately high number of young jihadis to the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria.

A handful have been zealous converts but the majority have been first- and second-generation Australians who have succumbed to slick terrorist recruiters who lure their pathologically vulnerable targets with claims of religious piety attached to ultimate thrill seeking.

American assets were hit by terrorists long before the 9/11 hijackers murdered 3000 people in their 2001 attacks on the United States.

Australians were targets before the first and second Bali bombings in 2002 and 2005, yet after each major attack the initial Western response has always defaulted to somnolence as the best way to avoid confrontation with the Muslim world, which ultimately must deal with its own millennia-old conflicts instead of blaming convenient external issues.

The chronic weakness in the Western leadership doesn’t give much reason for optimism.

On the world stage, only one person in recent times has provided any leadership in the war against the lawless, and that person was former prime minister Tony Abbott; hailed abroad for his stand against Russian President Vladimir Putin and mocked at home for his honesty — just as he was last month when he presciently warned of the impending catastrophic effects of Europe’s capitulation to the flood of so-called refugees.

It took the horror of last week’s attack to mobilise France, but the US — under its weakest post-WWII leader, President Barack Obama — has failed to offer the world any hope it will fulfil its Western leadership role.

The lessons for Australia are obvious. The same socialism that inflicted cancerous Molenbeek on the Belgian population has long infected popular culture in Australia.

Multiculturalism has been permitted to degrade the core values that underpinned the success Australia enjoyed as a migrant nation once attracting people from diverse cultures who wished to enjoy the freedoms of religion and speech that were once at the core of our national fibre.

Whether taking the pledge or swearing the oath of allegiance, new citizens solemnly undertake to give their loyalty to Australia and its people and their democratic beliefs, respecting their rights and liberties and upholding and obeying their laws.

Yet we see so-called refugee advocates urging foreigners to break our laws, weak-kneed university administrations turning a blind eye to student groups who oppose free speech on campuses, and politicians who have permitted suburbs such as Lakemba to turn into ghettos where English is rarely heard and women who don’t hide themselves in hideous garments are discriminated against.

The national anthem and our national flag are mocked by academics and the bien pensants who run the ABC. Mainstream Australians from both sides of politics feel their parties have let them down.

Our governments at every level must make it clear that they, too, stand for our rights, liberties, and laws and loyalty to our nation, and not for a meaningless degrading melange of inclusiveness, diversity and multiculturalism. 


Bible teachings  forbidden in Victorian  schools

VICTORIAN students can make Christmas decorations and sing carols in class but hymns are forbidden.  This is one of the new rules put in place by the Victorian government to tackle how religion is taught in schools.

Students will be allowed to dress up for the Hindu festival, Diwali, or indulge in sweet delights from Muslim’s Eid celebrations. But looking at the Bible, Koran or any other religious text will be strictly banned in class time from next year.

Prayers and instructions on how to live in accordance to a particular faith will also be unacceptable in the classroom.

Under the new government plan, Special Religious Instruction can be taught in schools in the hour before or after school or at lunch times by an accredited instructor approved by the Minister for Education. A teacher must also be present and children must have permission from their parents to attend.

Fairness in Religions in School chief executive Lara Wood has been fighting to eliminate Special Religious Instruction from state schools and while she welcomed the changes, she still had her concerns.

“We are worried about the lunchtime classes because we know from past experience the volunteers do try to convert the kids and don’t stick to the curriculum,” she said. “We are concerned that could happen.”

Principals get to decide whether they want Special Religious Instruction within their school at all and Ms Wood commended the government for giving them more power.

“If a school did decide to take it on, it would mean a lot more work for schools because they will have to closely monitor the program to make sure the rules are being followed,” she said.

In Victorian state schools previously, children were being split up to learn about their religion during class time.

Ms Wood said school work was impacted and children were segregated. “The new guidelines will remove this problem altogether though and I think it’s fantastic,” she said.

It will now be the teacher’s responsibility to educate children generally about religion and the main holidays and celebrations.

On occasion, guest speakers who are representatives of a particular faith can explain their religion further to students but they must not promote it.

Ms Wood said teaching children about all religions would make them more tolerant, respectful and accepting.  “We hope Victoria will now lead the way for other states,” she said.


Australia Post:  Muslim favouritism?

This story has been circulating for some time but seems to be totally factual. A story in the Left-leaning SMH confirms most of it, including the size of Ahmed Fahour's salary package.  The salary is undoubtedly disproportionate, signaling at a minimum that Mr Fahour has friends in all the right places.  Recent rises in the price of stamps make the whole matter particularly galling

Recently Australia Post which is totally government owned and has been for 200 years, announced the loss of 900 jobs, being part of a cut back program.

This is due to the decline in letters beings sent and that's true as email has further reduced letter writing and in many ways understandably.

The CEO of Australia Post is Ahmed Fahour who was born in Lebanon and came to Australia in 1970.

In 2009 he was made Managing Director and CEO of Australia Post.

His salary package was estimated to be worth $4.8 million last year.   Of this he donated about $2 million to the Islamic Museum of Australia located in Melbourne.

I have a big problem with this fellow's salary package and so let's get some perspective here.

The top ten executives in Australia Post combined earn around $20 million each year.

That's simply immoral and clearly the CEO can afford to give away nearly half his takings to an Islamic Museum as he doesn't need it, and surprise, surprise ....  it's tax deductable.

The founder and director of the Museum is former Macquarie Bank executive ..., Moustafa Fahour - Ahmed Fahour's brother. Moustafa's wife, Maysaa, is the chairwoman and Director. The Fahours' sister, Samira El Khafir, is Head Chef and manages the restaurant on site.

How can the CEO of the Post Office earn so much,  especially when the postal service is bleeding money from letter delivery. No employee is worth 5 million a year and especially not from a government owned business.

The top Federal Public Servants in Australia have salaries of between $665,600 and $844,800 so how does the bloke in charge of the Post Office received $4.8 million?  The Prime Minister of Australia earns a modest $507,000 considering the real burdens of office,  while the CEO of the Gold Coast Council earning slightly less and that's patently out of kilter with the PM's package. The Mayor of GCCC brings in $225,000 so how on earth can the Post Office justify the massive pay of their CEO?.

Let's look further.  The head of the US Postal Service with 19 times more staff and 11 times more revenue than Australia Post receives $550,000.

In France the head of their post office was paid $1.1 million with a staff compliment of 268,000 employees.

What a country full of mugs are we to sit by and let all this happen??   I would have run the big game of Post Office for a lot less and still done a reasonable job and in fact,  if the best of we seniors applied ourselves we could run the damn Post Office better and accept a normal salary and a free lunch now and again.

You had better believe it too.

There is an unpleasant and some would say 'sinister' unbalanced agenda in Australia, which in the end preys on the average citizen, we the people.

We are no longer the lucky country and we are no longer wealthy and this particular game of Post Office reveals major fractures and faults on a number fronts in our society and culture.

Who is running the Country, who is pulling the levers and who is going to win? We the Mugs need to know.


26 November, 2015

Decoding fact and fiction in coding

Trisha Jha is on the money below.  The idea of teaching programming to kids must have come from someone who knows nothing about it.  Only people in the top 2% of IQ will ever be able to program to any significant extent. I once tried to teach Uni NSW Sociology students programming in a language that seems easy to me  -- FORTRAN -- but none of them actually learnt it as far as I could tell.  My son has recently got a job as a computer  programmer but he has a first class honours degree in mathematics and spent a solid 18 months doing computer programming courses at university.  There are some very bright kids who take to computer languages like a duck to water but that is the end of it.  Average kids will never acquire useful programming skills

We're seeing an increasingly apparent borderline obsession with getting primary school age kids to learn to 'code', i.e. computer programming. Bill Shorten promoted it in his Budget Reply speech this year and various commentators have formed a chorus.

The focus on coding does have sensible origins. The 2009 Melbourne Declaration made the fairly common-sense observation that school students should be prepared for "a world in which information technology will be ubiquitous."

It seems schools aren't doing a very good job. The National Assessment Program includes an ICT component, and the 2014 report for Years 6 and 10 released this week shows  test performance - in terms of mean scores and the percentage of students reaching basic standards - is poor and has declined since 2011. Only 55% of Year 6 students were deemed proficient, and just 52% of Year 10 students. Results were also differentiated by socio-economic status, with kids from professional urban households performing better than their rural and underprivileged peers.

It should not be surprising that 'digital natives' may not be so skilled after all. The technology people use on a daily basis is becoming less technical and more focused on 'idiot proof' apps.

Is it any wonder, then, that even children who are accustomed to using technology are often failing to grasp how to use it to complete concrete tasks? The idea that schools can 'teach' computing skills, the skills necessary for 'creative and productive' use of technology (as the Melbourne Declaration proposes) just by replacing the whiteboard with a smartboard, and exercise books with computers, is folly.

If the obsession with coding is shorthand for more explicit and purposeful teaching of ICT, as ACARA CEO Rob Randall has said there should be, then there's something to it. But trying to cram the teaching of a highly specific skill (likely by poorly-trained instructors, given there is already a shortage of maths and science teachers) into an already-crowded curriculum can only make things worse - especially when so many kids are still not functionally literate or numerate. Those are skills that even the most brilliant of software engineers cannot do without.


Australia has met its 2020 greenhouse emissions target five years early, Environment Minister Greg Hunt says

This will burn Greenies up.  It is of course a fudge but the whole Kyoto process was designed for fudges. Everybody else is fudging too. The big fudge is what date you take for your starting point

The Federal Government says it has met its 2020 greenhouse emissions target, ahead of this week's climate change talks in Paris.  It has released figures from the Department of Environment showing Australia had already achieved a 5 per cent reduction based on 2000 levels.

By 2020, the department predicted Australia would have met its target by 28 million tonnes.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt told the National Press Club it would make it easier to make additional cuts in the future.  "We have closed the gap and go to Paris officially subzero and on track to beat our 2020 target," Mr Hunt said.  "This still remains a conservative forecast, and I am hopeful that future updates will show an even greater surplus."

Mr Hunt will be joined in Paris by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop later this month.

The Federal Government has committed to a 26 per cent to 28 per cent reduction by 2030.

Labor has questioned the figures, claiming much of the gains were because of accounting measures. The department figures showed emission reductions from previous years had been carried over, with a reduction in economic growth also factored in.

Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler said figures from market analyst Reputex showed carbon pollution between now and 2020 would see a 6 per cent rise.

"Malcolm Turnbull will get on the plane to Paris and presumably trumpet the fact that Australia has been able to technically achieve its Kyoto commitment," he said.

"But what will be clear is that Malcolm Turnbull is getting on that plane, laden down by Tony Abbott's policies that were deliberately designed to do nothing to reduce carbon pollution levels."

Mr Hunt rejected the claims and stood by his figures. "We can achieve and will achieve our 2030 target, although it will be a challenge, precisely as it should be," he said. "And we will achieve our targets without a carbon tax and without its pressure on electricity and gas prices."

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia promised to look at cuts of between 15 per cent and 25 per cent by 2020, if the rest of the world made similar cuts.

Mr Hunt stopped short of meeting that promise, but stressed that under current projections, Australia "in all likelihood" would go further than the current 5 per cent target.


Why terrorists have us all under the gun

THE Australian Army is removing a century-old motto on the hat of army chaplains, because it might offend Muslims.

“In this sign, conquer” is the motto written around a cross on a badge on the chaplains’ hats. The words are to be deleted, reportedly to better reflect the “diversity” of the army.

The army may as well delete the cross too, which is presumably even more offensive to the professional offence-takers of the Islamic community.

The move follows the appointment of an imam to advise the army for $717 a day, Sheik Mohamadu Nawas ­Saleem, who previously has suggested sharia law be introduced into Australian divorce courts.

So now we know it is official government policy to appease Islamists.

But if anyone objects, you can bet that they will be accused of “Islamophobia”.

And Islamophobia is to blame for terrorism, as the Grand Mufti told us after the Paris attacks.

Anyone who questions the ideology which justifies murder in the name of Islam is “dividing” the community and playing into the hands of IS.

Don’t question the spread of a lethal totalitarian ideology ­because that would be persecuting Muslims.  Don’t point out that terrorists from Paris to Parramatta who yell “Allahu Akbar” commit murder in the name of Islam. Don’t mention that more Muslims around the world are killed by other Muslims than by any “crusader” army because you’ll wreck the victim narrative.

This is the vice we are trapped in — between Western political correctness and Islamist propaganda.

This is why our progressive new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull found it so hard to respond forthrightly to the Paris terrorist attacks. His first response was to say “freedom stands up for itself”, when freedom only stands because our soldiers fought for it, as part of the army whose heritage is being sold out by politically correct appeasers.

The PM also last week committed Australia to the Obama agenda in the Middle East, ­despite the fact it has been a tragic failure.

But the Obama agenda has been for America to project weakness, and leave a vacuum filled by Russia, Iran and Islamist terrorists.

Turnbull claimed the way to deal with the terrorists was by “political settlement”, “compromise” and some sort of “power sharing deal”, which could include Sunni elements linked to IS, but that was up to the Syrians.

No wonder Turnbull is more popular with Islamic fundamentalists and their left-wing apologists than his straight-talking predecessor.

He couldn’t even bring himself to criticise the Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, who blamed “causative factors” including racism, Islamophobia and foreign policy for IS attacks on Paris.

But when the Mufti issued a “clarification” which still did not explicitly repudiate IS’s religious violence, the PM commended him.

We know Turnbull believes in the glass half full theory of life but that’s ridiculous.

The Mufti’s clarification, condemning “all forms of terrorist violence”, depended on how you define “terrorism” and “innocent lives”. If anything, the clarification made things worse.

None of this is a surprise to theologian Dr Mark Durie, author of The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude And Freedom. The Anglican pastor warns that Australia is naive and unprepared to face the problem of Islamist extremism, because it misunderstands Islam.

Even counter-terrorism experts have “bought into a theologically illiterate view that all religions are the same and that Islam’s problems today are just a twisted ­distortion”.

“And I think if they have that view they’ll never understand what they’re trying to deal with and they will be ineffective to a significant degree because of that.” He says Australian Muslims he knows from the Middle East “are absolutely appalled by our naivety and inability to engage with the theological issues that are driving these movements”.

Durie also points to the fact that the Christian West is ­ignoring the plight of persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria, and won’t even offer Christian refugees priority in their humanitarian intakes. “Somehow it’s a horrible thought crime.”

Turnbull’s soulmate, Obama, branded as “shameful” calls to prioritise Christian refugees over Muslims.

When Tony Abbott announced an extra intake of 12,000 Syrian refugees would comprise Christians and other persecuted minorities he was labelled a “bigot” by Islamic leaders. The UN refugee agency then demanded that religion play no part in refugee selection. The head of the government’s Syrian Refugee Resettlement Task Force insisted the intake would comprise a “range of religions” and the first family were Sunni Muslims.

Australia’s Christian leaders have expressed concerns that the government is breaking its promise and that most of the intake will be Muslims.

Privately the government says it will give preference to “persecuted minorities”.

But it doesn’t want to antagonise the UN by saying so publicly. Again, appeasement is official policy.


Labor comes out as anti-free speech on marriage

Labor nailed its colours to the Greens’ anti-free speech mast today, joining them to block a Senate motion supporting the Catholic church’s right to teach the orthodox Christian view of marriage.

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said it was chilling to have the alternative party of government oppose in Parliament the church’s right to teach about marriage being between one man and one woman.

“Labor’s action raises serious questions about where the same-sex political debate is taking our nation.

“Labor’s move coupled with Greens politicians Adam Bandt and Robert Simms today calling people who support traditional marriage ‘bigots’, is evidence of a growing intolerance emerging in Australian politics.”

The Senate motion was to support the Catholic church’s right to free speech in the face of an anti-discrimination complaint lodged with authorities in Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner is investigating the complaint by a transgender Greens’ political candidate against the Catholic church for distributing a booklet that explains its millennia-old view on marriage.

A decision by the Commissioner on whether or not the complaint is sustained is expected any day. If sustained, the church will likely end up in court.

In an extraordinary political maneuver, Labor today joined the Greens in blocking the motion from even being discussed in the Senate.

The motion was co-sponsored by Liberal senator Eric Abetz, independent John Madigan, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, Family First’s Bob Day, and Palmer United party’s Dio Wang.

The motion stated that: “The Senate, while not expressing a view on the contents of the booklet issued by the Australian Catholic Bishops conference entitled Don’t Mess with Marriage, fully supports the rights of members of the Catholic church, including Archbishop Julian Porteous, to distribute it.”

Mr Shelton said today was a sad day for free speech and freedom of religion.

“While Australians may have different views on its definition, I don’t think anyone ever thought we would see the day when political parties would use Parliament and the law to stifle free speech on marriage.

“It is important that people who care about preserving marriage and free speech take an interest in the Turnbull Government’s plan to hold a people’s vote on marriage after the next federal election,” Mr Shelton said.


25 November, 2015

Why Islamic violence?  Leftist "New Matilda" has no answers

Megan Giles, who wrote the article I excerpt below, has a significant academic background.  It is however a solidly Leftist one, so we cannot expect much in the way of balance or academic rigour from her. She mainly seems to be a do-gooder.  Anyway, she knows a bit about history.  And she parades that history as if it excuses or at least explains the current epidemic of Muslim violence. She spells out the tired old comment that Christians and Christian countries have been violent in the past too.  As if nobody knew that!

There she is. Isn't she gorgeous?

But it is not history we have to deal with. It is the present. So why is the present-day world's flood of political violence coming from Muslims?

She seems to think that it is Muslims "getting even" with the West for colonialism.  But de-colonization took place around 50 years ago.  And, after some initial eruptions, the decolonized world was mostly peaceful.  What has suddenly caused it to erupt? And why are Indo-China and other non-Muslim ex-colonies not erupting?  And why are the people being killed at the moment overwhelmingly Muslim, rather than the wicked colonists? 

Megan has not apparently thought of those questions.  Her conventional Leftist hates are all she has to explain anything, whether they fit or not.  She is a procrustean.

I and many others point to the way in which ISIS and other violent Muslims are just doing what the Koran says.  Megan thinks that cannot be the explanation as Christians have been similarly vicious at times too.  But that is a non-sequitur. A particular type of behaviour can arise from many causes. And that normal human selfishness has caused Christians to GO AGAINST New Testament teachings proves nothing.  But Muslims don't have to do that.  The Jihadis are not going against ANYTHING in their religion.  Their deeds and faith are in harmony. So we at least need to note that.

And that makes a difference to what adherents of the two religions hear.  Both Mullahs and priests tell their adherents to do as their holy books say.  So Christian priests overwhelmingly preach peace and kindness while the Mullahs overwhelmingly preach conquest.  And preaching can be influential.  Why do it otherwise? For most people -- Christian or Muslim -- it goes in one ear and out the other. They usually accept the wisdom of it but don't act on it.   But some do. So on the one hand we have the provision of Christian hospitals and schools while on the other we have gruesome violence.

So what the Koran says is indeed central to the Muslim problem -- because it is what most of the Mullahs preach --  and what the Mullahs preach is influential.

But why is it that we have the upsurge of violence now?  Megan does not even attempt to tell us.  She had no answers about the causes of Muslim violence at all.

But I think the cause is pretty clear. It is in that history that Megan thinks she knows about. It is a product of ham-fisted European intervention. A skeletal outline:

It all started with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  Afghanistan had been a reasonably secular State up until then.  But it was part of the Ummah, part of the Muslim world. So it was devout Muslims who chased the Soviets out.  The invasion aroused the devout Muslims and eventually made them the only effective force in the land.  And they used that power to transform Afghanistan into a Koranic State, a centre of Islamic righteousness and virtue.

And it might have stopped there except for the fact that the Afghan upheavals had attracted a very rich Saudi who became instrumental in defeating the Soviets: Osama bin Laden.

And Koranic virtue does preach attack on the infidel, the kuffar. So after helping to defeat the Soviets, Osama bin Laden was "feeling his oats" and sought new fields to conquer -- and consequently organized  the attack on the exceedingly un-Muslim USA, with results we all know about.

And since then it has been push and counter-push. An Afghanistan-enmeshed organization -- Al Qaeda -- attacked the USA so the USA attacked Afghanistan in an attempt to root them out.  And once the USA under George Bush was mobilized, they thought that the sabre-rattling coming from Iraq sounded dangerous too so decided that a pre-emptive war there was needed to avoid another "9/11".

But in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the Americans had no reasonable idea of an end-game. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they assumed that destroying the hostile regime would enable them to give the grateful natives the blessings of democracy.  But there is no history of democracy in the Middle  East and no hankering for it. Instead there is a 4,000 year history of tyrannies.  So the semi-democratic regimes set up by the Americans had no legitimacy in the eyes of the people and consequently had little control over anybody or anything.  Instead we have had chaos.

But nobody likes chaos and many influential Muslims of the Middle East have put their hands up as the new tough-guy leader who will restore peace and unity -- and maybe even become the new Caliph.  And that is what has been going on.  Can it have escaped anyone's notice that 98% of the people dying are Muslims?  Much of the the Middle East and North Africa is in the midst of a civil war to determine who the next tyrant will be.  The people there want a strong tyrant not a wishy-washy democracy.

And amid those struggles aspiring leaders will do everything they can to acquire legitimacy.  And attacks on the West are a good way of doing that.  It enables the aspiring tyrants to claim Islamic righteousness.  So what constitutes Islamic righteousness does matter.  And we find that in the Koran.

And all the excitement of the struggle does catch the attention of people in the Western world whose ancestry is in Muslim lands.  And a tiny minority decide that they want a part of the action.
So some of those go to Syria, while others attack individuals in their country of residence.

So is it reasonable to target the whole Muslim minority of a Western country in some way?  I think it is.  But no half  measures will do.  Tentative measures will just exacerbate the problem.  The small minority of radicalized Muslims can do a lot of damage and cause a lot of disruption, social and otherwise.  And the populations of Western countries are becoming increasingly intolerant of that, as they should.  We wouldn't accept such disruption from anyone else so why should we accept it from young Muslims?

But how can we get violent young Muslims out of our countries? How do we detect in advance who they are?  We cannot.  So the only way of getting the violent young Muslims out of our countries is to get ALL Muslims out of our countries.  I believe it will come to that.  Muslim populations ARE a breeding-ground for terrorists and that undisputable fact endangers their continued long-term acceptance in Western countries.


Now listen to Megan. I have omitted her more sulphuric comments about Pauline Hanson:

Hanson states that the New Testament, unlike the Qur’an, is devoid of any violence, as if the relative peace and prosperity enjoyed by the Western world is somehow solely attributed to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Hanson and many others fail to recognise the context of time, place and circumstance that permits the usurping of Quranic verses for such violence.

They fail to scrutinise what it is that separates the millions of Muslims, and millions of others of faith, who can read their sacred scriptures in their historical contexts, from those that totalise and literalise religious doctrine and wrongly champion it as the impetus for their savagery.

In the late 20th century, regimes across the Arab world shaped and utilised Islamic ideologies to solidify and mobilise support against Western liberalism. And so it goes, on and on through history. Past contexts magically transforming to suit present and future contexts.

When we place blame we go directly to the original source, without acknowledging how that source has been manipulated to accommodate contemporary political objectives.

Though all of this, in our current debate, is near-irrelevant. Focusing on the details of religious texts will lead us nowhere since we have, right in front of us, countless examples that help us understand the rise of Islamic State and specific historical, albeit complex and multi-faceted, justifications for North African and Middle Eastern violence.

Indeed what is missing from mainstream debates about contemporary terrorism is the very heavy historical baggage it carries.

Tony Blair has apologised for “mistakes” made during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The US government’s hasty state-building policies after the disbanding of the Iraqi army left thousands of young men angry, armed and unemployed.

Unfortunately, only few commentators will reach back far enough into history to examine the brutal, incendiary and utterly destructive legacy of colonialism in the Middle East to understand contemporary violence.

While ‘we’ in the West have moved on from colonialism and want everyone else to just ‘get over it’, post-colonial states were never given space to – they live its continuity in the neocolonial economic policies of the Washington Consensus and the ubiquity of a militarised national consciousness where violence pervades and reproduces.

The late Algerian psychiatrist Franz Fanon has written passionately on the impact of colonialism on the colonised individual’s psyche, and its propensity for creating violent separatist and regionalist factions, long after independence.

“At the individual level, violence is a cleansing force. It rids the colonized of their inferiority complex, of their passive and despairing attitude… Violence hoists the people up to the level of the leader.”

Despite the horrors of history committed on every continent, our right to anger and grieve over the bloodshed in Paris is doubtless. It must be denounced with the loudest possible voice and responded to with the strongest possible deliberation and vigilance.

Good people lost their lives because they represented the freedom we all hold dear, no matter our race, nationality or religion. Though we must fall short of dismay that Middle Eastern wars have somehow spilled over onto a bystanding Europe caught up in the crossfire.

These wars belong to the Great Powers and they always have. As Gordon Adams has noted, “France has been a central arena for the confrontation between Islam and political-religious Christian Europe for 1,300 years.”

The proceeding centuries were characterised by a vicious brand of colonialism under the guise of exporting a concept of citizenship that was highly exclusionary at home, and anti-Islamic domestic policies leaving hostility an omnipresence weaved through France’s social and political fabric.

Adams states, “France needs to undergo a deep self-examination, and a fundamental revision of the current practice of sidelining its large Muslim population, leaving them disaffected, poorly educated, underemployed, and ripe for recruitment to terrorism.”

All religious texts have the capacity to unite or divide humanity. Our conversation must start centering on the dark, ugly side of human nature and the contexts that breed violent extremists of which our own states are often complicit in.


Cory Bernardi: Australia must reconsider refugee intake in light of Paris attacks

Screening process for refugees is open to inaccuracies

The government must reconsider its decision to take an extra 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq in light of the Paris attacks, Liberal backbencher Cory Bernardi has said.

Bernardi told ABC TV on Monday he supported the initial cabinet decision to offer an additional 12,000 visas to refugees from Syria and Iraq, on top of the 13,750 existing humanitarian visa places.

But since this month’s attacks in the French capital, Bernardi has changed his mind.

“I do think that cabinet now needs to reconsider the decision to take in 12,000 additional refugees on the basis of evidence that’s come to light over the last week,” he said.

“In our previous refugee intake we’ve had examples where people who have been accepted as refugees have gone on to commit terrorist acts or planned terrorist acts in this country. Why do we think that suddenly this is going to be any different?”

Bernardi said the screening process for refugees was open to inaccuracies, as security agencies were unable to go to Syria to do background checks. He also objected to handing over the decision of who could come to Australia to the “bunch of unelected bureaucrats” at the United Nations refugee agency.

“A lot of the most persecuted minorities in the Middle East – the Jews, the Christians, the Yazidis – don’t even go to UNHCR camps, they don’t register there because they’re scared for their lives by the Muslim communities there,” Bernardi said.

He said he wanted a rethink of the way the whole system worked.

“I do believe we should be reassessing our refugee humanitarian intake,” the Liberal senator said, adding his views were shared by many Australians.

“For many years I’ve been voicing my concerns about extremist elements in the country and the lack of political will to confront that and of course I’ve been called all sorts of names for my trouble by my colleagues and the media,” Bernardi said.

“But the point is I’ve been right about it and it is now a widespread community sentiment. We have extremist elements at work in this country. Why risk bringing in more to add to their ranks, even potentially, and bear the financial and social burden that comes with that?”

Bernardi’s call to axe the 12,000 refugee intake was promptly shot down by the attorney general, George Brandis, who reiterated the government’s determination to proceed during a statement to the Senate condemning the Paris attacks.

“These attacks give no reason to reduce our commitment to helping those who flee the barbarism of Isil and other terrorists,” Brandis said during question time on Monday. “Indeed, they demonstrate more graphically why it is necessary, both to stand resolutely against Isil, and also, to help as best we can its many innocent victims, including the 12,000 Syrian refugees we have rightly committed to take.”

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, told the House of Representatives’ question time 2,800 Syrian and Iraqi refugees were in the process of having health and security checks as part of the 12,000 intake.

“The Australian government has in place the most robust security screening measures in relation to those coming in under the humanitarian program and we will not resile from that one bit,” Dutton said.

He said the government would cast aside any application of those seeking to come into Australia under the humanitarian visa system if the application presented security concerns.

The first five of the 12,000 intake, a Syrian family, arrived in Perth last week, in line with the government’s promise to resettle the first group by Christmas.

But the New South Wales refugee resettlement coordinator, Peter Shergold, told ABC radio on Monday morning the lengthy security process refugees had to undertake could mean the bulk of the 12,000 visa holders would not be resettled until 2017.

“I’m working on the basis that the vast majority will come next year, in 12 or 18 months, not six months,” he said. “I think it’s appropriate that screening, security, character checks are all done before they arrive.”


Australian Greenies still not happy about coal compromise

They've rightly figured out that Australia's conservative government has in fact THWARTED international attempts to stop investments in coal.  New generators are likely to use coal in poor countries only. New generators in advanced countries will be using gas anyhow

By Hannah Aulby, a clean energy campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The Australian government has watered down an international deal on coal subsidies – essentially protecting the future profits of the Carmichael coal mine ahead of the best interests of our communities and environment.

Hailed as a ‘landmark’ deal to reduce public subsidies to coal fired power stations, the agreement by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development aims to stop public financing of the dirtiest coal projects. In the past seven years, rich countries' export credit agencies have funded about $35 billion worth of coal. The Turnbull Government was looking to block the deal, but has come onside at the last minute with a caveat – that old dirty coal power plants can still be financed in 8 of the world’s poorest nations.

The Minerals Council of Australia, hardly champions of climate action and poverty reduction, welcomed the deal, saying that it paves the way for coal powered development. And Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the deal provided coal fired power to lift millions out of energy poverty.

Again Australia is getting left behind by a world ready to move beyond coal. As well as the international political intent shown at the OECD, international markets are moving. Global coal consumption has fallen 2-4% this year, including a 6% drop in China. This being the case, we have, in fact, passed peak coal. Demand is dropping, and yet Australia continues to champion the Carmichael mine as the future of low emissions development. Continuing down the mine shaft will only leave us with stranded assets in a dinosaur economy.

Domestically the markets are turning on coal too. New projects are struggling to attract private investment, as seen by the Victorian brown coal project in the Latrobe Valley that was just withdrawn by Chinese firm Shanghai Electric Australia as it failed to reach the first investment milestones.


Pfizer US tax escape suggests an opportunity for Australia

The tax-driven reverse merger of American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Dublin-based Allergan to create the world's biggest drug firm is a timely reminder to Australian policymakers that they need to ensure the corporate tax system is internationally competitive.

Pfizer joins dozens of United States firms fleeing the penal US business tax system that charges a rate of up to 39 per cent on worldwide income, comprising federal and state corporate income taxes.

For a medium sized, capital importing economy such as Australia, it is an opportune time to reinforce that capital in a globalised world is increasingly mobile and firms will relocate to where they can make the best after tax returns for shareholders.

Under the tax "inversion" deal worth up to about $US155 billion unveiled on Monday, Pfizer will shift its corporate citizenship to low-tax Ireland, despite 56 per cent of shares in the new company belonging to US-based Pfizer shareholders. The merged company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Even though the US Treasury will miss out on billions of dollars in tax revenue when Pfizer redomiciles, Pfizer chief executive Ian Read said the transaction was a "great deal for America" because the firm would continue to invest $US9 billion and employ 45,000 people in the US.

The Obama administration has taken incremental administrative attempts to block the wave of US companies like Pfizer, Burger King and a host of pharmaceutical firms involved in cross-border tax deals from escaping the US tax net.

The US government has had little success because the Treasury and Congress have failed to strike at the heart of the problem; an internationally uncompetitive tax code imposing high rates and incentivising firms to shift and stash profits in low-tax jurisdictions.

The political class in Canberra, business leaders and unions appear to be engaging in a healthy debate about the future of the country's tax system, including corporate tax.

Australia's 30 per cent rate is more competitive than the US, especially once dividend imputation credits for shareholders are taken into account.

Ken Henry's tax review commissioned by the former Labor government recommended cutting the rate to 25 per cent to stoke investment and lift the wages of workers. Dr Henry found the incidence of company tax ultimately falls on workers.

In 2001, Australia had the ninth lowest corporate tax rate in the developed world and below the OECD's unweighted average of 32.5 per cent. The OECD average has since fallen to 25 per cent and Australia has slipped to 28th, as economies like the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand have cut corporate rates.

Pfizer expects the combined maker of Botox and Viagra to have an adjusted tax rate of about 17 per cent in Ireland, compared to the 25 per cent rate it currently pays in the US after allowing for deductions.

"The threat of succumbing to US tax rates has meant that Pfizer has been desperate for a deal outside the US," said Warwick Business School professor John Colley.

The White House and Congressional democrats criticised the move, while presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said inversion deals will leave US taxpayers "holding the bag".

The US not only has a high maximum rate, but unlike other economies, it takes corporate earnings overseas when they are repatriated home. This has led to the perverse situation of companies like cash cow Apple stashing large amounts of funds overseas and borrowing money at home to pay dividends.

As the mining boom winds down, Australia will need to retain and attract new sources of foreign capital into other sectors of the economy.

A competitive corporate tax system will be an important drawcard.

If literally dozens of tax-paying companies are running away from the home of capitalism and emptying the US Treasury's coffers, then Australia cannot afford to be too complacent.


24 November, 2015

Neither Australia's bush fire preparedness nor anything recent  is caused by climate change

Contrary to the article below, recent increases in bushfire damage have nothing to do with global warming. Since there has been no global warming for over 18 years it CANNOT be true.  Things that don't exist don't cause ANYTHING

The satellites are the only way of obtaining a truly global temperature reading and for the last 18 years they just show random fluctuations around a constant mean. Here's the graph:

And even the terrestrial datasets show no statistically significant global temperature change over the last 18 years.

Global temperatures are anything but uniform, however, and there may have been some local warming in some places which was offset by cooling in other places.  But local warming is not global warming, to be reluctantly tautologous.

What then is going on?  Why the increase in bushfires?  No mystery at all.  Greenies did it.  They have been meddling heavily in forest management.   One particularly pernicious type of interference is Greenie opposition to precautionary burnoffs in winter.  Such burnoffs are easy to keep within bounds and reduce fuel load for later fires.  So any fires that eventuate in warm seasons are much tamer and spread less. 

Why Greenies oppose such burnoffs I am not sure -- some feeling that it "unnatural" would be my guess. They say it is to protect forest critters but the big burns are actually the ones that kill most forest critters.  Many of the critters can escape a small controlled burn and a controlled burn can in fact make some provision for that

Australia risks being under-prepared for longer, drier and more severe bushfire seasons, a report from the Climate Council says.

The national report found that record-breaking temperatures and hot winds will place unprecedented strain on firefighting resources, estimating that the number of professional firefighters across Australia will need to double by 2030.

Australia's bushfire season got off to an early start, when more than 200 fires burned across Victoria in the first week of October, and this week, blazes sparked by lightning and burning have destroyed at least 300,000 hectares in the North Cascade, Western Australia, killing four people so far.

Thursday is shaping up as another fire risk day in Victoria, with hot stormy conditions forecast.

"As a country, we are not prepared ... for the impacts of climate change. This is not a future problem; it is already costing us now," said Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council CEO.

"I don't know any [state] government that has a plan for how they are going to manage the need for more firefighters in the future."

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, maximum temperatures in October averaged 3.44 degrees above the long-run average, and almost all of southern Australia recorded its hottest October, driven higher by a big heatwave across the region.

It is the increasing likelihood of such conditions around the world that the Climate Council report said would challenge Australia's firefighting resources.

"Climate change is impacting on the fire seasons in both hemispheres, meaning that they will increasingly overlap. This has the potential to decrease the capacity to share resources …"

The Climate Council said resources meant equipment as well as hands-on assistance.

For example, some of the largest aircraft in Australia's fleet are leased from international companies and are the same as those contracted to firefighting services during the northern hemisphere summer.In August and September, 72 Australian and New Zealander personnel were deployed to support US firefighters, and 104 were deployed to Canada during the 2015 season.

"It's not just looking at how we share resources between Australia and US. If we have multiple fires happening around Australia, that's where we see very serious situations. That's when you have a very exhausted fire service," said Ms McKenzie.

A spokesperson for the NSW Rural Fire Service said they were aware of research "suggesting climate change could result in longer bush fire seasons and increased demands on resources, including firefighters."

"As the lead agency for bush firefighting and management in NSW, the NSW Rural Fire Service continues to consider the potential for increased fire activity and how it may impact the prevention, mitigation and suppression of bush fires in NSW," he said.

"Irrespective of the cause, the NSW RFS always assesses conditions and prepares based on the prevailing forecast."

Over the past year the ranks of the service swelled to a record 74,516 volunteers, a figure revealed in annual reports of the state's emergency services tabled in NSW Parliament on Wednesday.

"Our services are leaders in emergency management and are doing an outstanding job of meeting the needs of the community during their time of greatest need," said Minister for Emergency Services David Elliot.

"The report does come at an important time, given we have seen an early start to the bushfire season in WA and Victoria."


Army chaplains to remove ‘conquer’ from 102-year-old motto because it is offensive to Muslims

Has anybody noticed that conquering is what armies are about?  And how ironical that Muslims might be offended by the idea of conquest.  They believe in conquest and the only people attempting conquest in the world today are Muslims:  ISIS

THE Australian Army is removing the motto “In this sign conquer” from the 102-year-old hat badges of army chaplains because it is offensive to Muslims.

The move comes after an imam approved by the Grand Mufti was appointed to join the ­Religious Advisory Committee to the Services in June.

Australian Army chaplains have had the motto on their hat badges since 1913.

A Defence spokeswoman last night denied the motto was being changed because it was associated with the Crusades, when Christian armies fought Muslims in the Holy Land during the Middle Ages.

“The motto of the Australian Army Chaplains is being changed to better reflect the diversity of religion throughout the Australian Army,” she said.  “The new wording on the Australian Army Chaplaincy badge is under consideration and no decision has been made at this time.”

Former army major Bernard Gaynor, whose commission was terminated last year due to his outspoken views, said: “This is political correctness destroying our military heritage.”

Mr Gaynor, who is standing as the Australian Liberty Alliance senate candidate for Queensland, said political correctness in the military was highlighted by the appointment of an imam.

“The government must stop the political correctness. It must dismiss the Defence Imam for his views. And it must put Australia first,” he said.

Military historian Professor Peter Stanley from UNSW Canberra said: “The motto was acceptable 100 years ago but today has crusader connotations.”

Despite the perceived crusader links, he said the motto actually comes from Emperor Constantine’s vision before he won the battle of Milviian Bridge in 312AD and converted to Christianity: “Jewish chaplains already have a separate badge with a Star of David, so Muslim chaplains would not be expected to wear the current badge. They would have one with a crescent.”

Army chaplains are understood to have pushed for the change. Former principal chaplain to the army Monsignor Greg Flynn said: “We have been aware of this coming down the track and most chaplains would agree with the change. It is a reality.”

Professor Tom Frane, former Bishop to the Defence Force, said: “It seems like a crusading motto — triumphal. It is not the first time it has been misinterpreted. If times have changed it is worth another look.”

The army imam, Sheik Mohamadu Nawas Saleem, has previously called for sharia law to be introduced into Australia. He signed a petition supporting radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has argued in favour of honour killings and said Muslim students should not be forced to honour Anzac Day.

Sheik Saleem works about 40 days a year for the Army and is paid $717 for each one: almost $30,000 a year.  The sheik did not respond to requests for comment.

Sheik Saleem was supported for the role by Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, who this week sparked controversy by failing to come straight out and condemn the Paris terror attacks.

The Defence spokeswoman said: “There are 102 ADF permanent members who self-identify as Muslim. In addition there are 40 Active Reservists who have declared as Muslim.’’


Scouts to ditch pledge to God, Queen and Australia to become ‘more inclusive’

SCOUTS are set to dump the word “God” in its traditional promise amid claims the ­religious reference was making non-Christian members “uncomfortable” while turning others away from joining.

References to being “cheerful” and “thrifty” are also set to be axed, while a pledge to “doing my duty to Australia” will be canned to be more inclusive to other ­nationalities as part of a major review within the nation’s largest youth movements.

In a move set to irk monarchists, an optional promise to the “Queen of Australia” is also to be permanently given the boot as part of the modernisation of the movement.

Scouting families have until the end of the year to complete a survey on the new wording of the movement’s new “law and promise” that will then be recited by members from mid-2016.

A message posted on its website by Scouts Australia chief commissioner Chris Bates said the change of words was about making the Scouts more inclusive.

The existing promise includes the line “I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to my God and to the Queen of Australia”.

However, some younger Scouts were already reciting an adapted version of the promise, contributing to a “silo-effect” between its sections, Mr Bates said.

He said there was a strong feeling some of the wording was not consistent with members’ beliefs or their current use of language. “The result is we are either losing members or some of our members are using words they don’t actually believe in,” he said.

“After much research and discussion, we have provided some new wording for a revitalised promise and law that we believe young Australians will find easier to commit to, and to follow.”

One of the proposed ­options for the new promise includes a reference to being “true to my spiritual beliefs”.

The revised law ditches the need for Scouts to be cheerful, thrifty, courageous and helpful, while retaining the need to be friendly, honest, fair, loyal and trustworthy.

Founded in 1958, Scouts Australia is regarded as the largest youth movement in the nation with almost 70,000 members. Although the ­organisation is open to members of all religious faiths, those who refuse to make the promise to God are not ­allowed to become members.

The Scouts Youth Program Review said feedback from members found many parents preferred non-­religious activities for their children “and have expressed discomfort with the use of the word ‘God’.”

Scouts had the option to ditch the line about “doing my duty to the Queen” a decade ago, with only a few branches retaining the reference. But the review said most members felt the phrase needed to change, with less than 12 per cent wanting it retained.

As for revising the law, young people no longer used words such as “thrifty”. It said scrapping the reference to “Australia” in the promise was in recognition of the global nature of scouting, it said.

“The removal of direct reference of Australia was also seen as recognition of the global nature of Scouting, and making the promise more ­inclusive for citizens of other nations,” the review said.


Rogue union fined for disrupting work on rail crossing

THE militant CFMEU and one of its key players have been fined more than $50,000 for disrupting work on the $140 million Mitcham rail crossing upgrade.

Federal Court Justice Christopher Jessup handed down the fines this morning in a case lodged by the industry watchdog Fair Work Building and Construction.

The judgment found against unionist Joseph Myles and the CFMEU over the unplanned stopwork at the rail site in August 2013. The union was fined a total of $48,750 and Myles was fined $6375.

Myles had threatened to declare “war” on head contractor John Holland for refusing to hire a union delegate as a safety officer on site.

But the union stopped the work of a contractor instead of John Holland.

Justice Jessup said the union did not appear to have respect for industrial law.  “The schedule paints a depressing picture. But it is more than that,” he wrote.  “I am bound to say that the conduct referred to in the schedule bespeaks an organisational culture in which contraventions of the law have been normalised.”


Strange-looking new weapon for the Australian army

It does just about everything except make your coffee. It is a development of an Austrian design from the Steyr company.  Steyr also make a highly regarded sniper rifle. Austria is a politically neutral country but is a notable supplier of highly regarded firearms. Glock pistols are probably the best-known Austrian product there is

Thales has received a contract from the Australian Department of Defence to supply F90 assault rifles to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Under the terms of A$100m ($73.6m) contract, the company will supply 30,000 F90 rifles and 2,500 SL40 grenade launchers, as well as spare parts and various ancillaries.

Two versions of the rifle will be delivered, including a standard rifle with a 20in barrel, and a carbine with a 16in barrel.

Thales Australia Armaments vice-president Kevin Wall said: "Our soldiers deserve the best possible equipment and the F90 delivers on all counts.

"Enhancing the Austeyr is the most cost-effective way to deliver a capability upgrade, and we've worked closely with defence and army units to design, test and manufacture this world-class weapon.

"The F90 is born from over 100 years of engineering and manufacturing expertise at Lithgow, and this is the latest chapter in Lithgow Arms' long contribution to Australian military operations."

Manufacturing work under the contract is scheduled to be carried out at the company's facility in Lithgow, regional New South Wales.

Deliveries to the ADF are set to commence in the next few weeks and will take place over six years.

In ADF service, the rifle will be known as the Enhanced F88 (EF88), marking a significant enhancement of the original Austeyr F88, a modified version of the Steyr AUG used by the service since 1988.

The EF88 rifle will be equipped with an enhanced day sight, foregrip and a grenade launcher attachment for grenadiers, and is scheduled to be issued more broadly to ADF from 2016 as part of the rollout of LAND 125 Phase 3C - Soldier Enhancement Version 2-Lethality project.

Thales is currently exploring export opportunities for the F90 in various markets worldwide.


23 November, 2015

'Whitesplaining': what it is and how it works

Leftists usually run away from  any contact with conservative discourse because the factual points made by conservatives are toxic to Leftist beliefs.  As a conservative, however, I have no fears about Leftist discourse and am always ready to learn so I read quite a lot of Leftist writing, even though I am often disappointed by its vacuity.

So I read with interest the attempt below by Catriona Elder (an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney) to explain some very fashionable Leftist tropes.

There she is, complete with feminist haircut

Sadly, however, amid her long ramble below I have found nothing but opinion.  I would have thought that a social science professor might have brought some facts and data to bear but she has not done so.

And even her reasoning is just a ramble.  I have read the article carefully, with particular attention to her view that being "colour-blind" is somehow wrong.  Why is it wrong?  She does not  say -- but simply asserts that we are not in fact colour blind. Our behaviour does not match our beliefs.  That is no new point, however; psychologists have been saying that since the 1930s.

But surely being color blind is a worthy goal? Perhaps not.  It is difficult to get a grip on what she is saying but she seems to think that we should become MORE race-conscious.  She wants us to SEE racial differences rather than ignore them.

That is very naive.  The whole motivation behind the colour-blind  people is to avoid us seeing too much.  There ARE real race differences in educational attainmemnt, occupational attainment, crime-rates, IQ and much else.  In one way I could be seen as her ideal person.  I DO look at and report race differences.  I have many published academic journal articles on race-related topics. And, as a psychometrician, I always feel free to mention black IQ if it is relevant.

Is that what she wants?  I doubt it.  She wants some ideal world where people see only those things that she wants them to see.

And her comments on privilege are frankly Marxist.  Marx said that what you see depends on where you are.  While that is trivially true in some ways, Marx meant that there was no objective truth and that what you see as truth will depend on your social class position. Catriona thinks the same, except that she sees your race as the important influence on your perceptions.

The nature of truth is a very large philosophical topic so, despite my interest in such matters I will forgo any attempt to address it fully here.  Suffice it to say that those who deploy the "no absolute truth" weapon aim a gun at their own heads.

For example, if there is no absolute truth, why should I believe anything that Catriona says?  She might simply be seeing the world from her own privileged viewpoint (I think she does) and all her resultant conclusions from that might simply be wrong and worthy only of being disregarded. She evidently wants to say that nothing is right excerpt what she says.  Which is roughly what Mussolini said.  She is a neo-Fascist.

So as far as I can see, what she says is an expression of muddled and poorly-founded opinion that expresses a diffuse sense of rage but achieves nothing more.  I certainly fail to see from her writing that "race-blind" people are doing anything unworthy.  Given that there are real and not always congenial differences between the races, I think that they are in fact rather heroic people.  Ignoring race differences may be the best most people can do when it comes to fostering harmonious race relations.

I am not entirely sure that I am spending my time wisely in  commenting on the addled lucubration of an airhead like Catriona but her position in a senior university post is significant.  The feebleness of her "explanations" should help to confirm in the minds of my fellow conservatives that even the smarter end of Leftism is intellectually incompetent.  Had her screed been presented to me as a student essay in my time teaching sociology at Uni NSW, I would have failed it on the grounds of its incoherence.

Have you ever had an experience where someone is explaining to you, maybe in a lot of detail, something you actually already know quite a lot about? Possibly about your own life?

It’s frustrating. But it’s not a random occurrence, and it’s often about power. There’s a word for it: “whitesplaining”.

It’s a term that’s been in high rotation over the past couple of weeks, thanks to Hollywood film star Matt Damon and Australian radio and TV personality Kyle Sandilands, whose comments around issues of racial diversity and sexuality have sparked debate around issues of white privilege and “colour-blindness”.

Let’s reexamine their comments:

While appearing on Project Greenlight two weeks ago, Matt Damon - in the midst of a discussion about forming a directorial team for a reality show - argued the decision to appoint a director should be based on merit rather than diversity.

His comments suggest diversity is only an issue when casting actors, not behind-the-scenes crew such as directors.

A short while later, Damon gave an interview to The Observer where he argued gay actors should remain private about their sexuality:

"But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play."

As Nigel Smith pointed out in The Guardian, Damon’s point negated the interview he then gave, which spanned such personal topics as how he met his wife, their children and family life, his childhood and his political views.

Closer to home, Kyle Sandilands last week explained to the Australia television viewing public that the lack of non-white contestants on a new season of The Bachelorette is irrelevant:

"I think a lot of young people don’t think like that. They don’t think 'Oh we better have a black, we better have a brown'."

Being ‘colour-blind’ and why it’s a problem

Let’s begin by unpacking Sandilands' comments. His perspective is one that suggests “people are people”.

About 20 years ago academic Ruth Frankenberg studied the phenomenon of white people explaining away race and difference by declaring “people are people”. Her book White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness (1993), explores the unspoken racial hierarchies around us.

In her terms, Sandilands self-identifies as “colour-blind”. It means you say you don’t see racial difference. Often making reference to Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote about being judged not “by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character,” proponents argue that drawing any attention to race is, in fact, more racist.

An extreme form of a colour-blind attitude to race can be seen in the US movement Unhyphenate America, which argues terms such as African-American are divisive:

"Cultural cohesion and connectedness are more important than having a 'diversity' of skin colour. Anyone can choose to be a part of this culture, because the principles aren’t ethnically exclusive."

Sandilands made his on-air comments in response to his guest Sam Frost’s defence that The Bachelorette producers didn’t even think about race when casting the show.

But in a “colour-blind” world, they should have thought about it - because all the contestants for The Bachelorette are the same colour. In fact, Australian television in general fails to reflect our diverse population. So what’s happening here?

The selection process for who ends up on our screens is not neutral because, like it or not, we do notice difference, including race or ethnic differences, and we act on this awareness in subtle ways.

Ways that end up suggesting that the bachelors of Australia are white.

This is where the episode of Damon “whitesplaining” the world of race to an African-American woman is useful to explore. Richard Dyer, another scholar of race and culture, describes these situations in terms of white invisibility and white privilege:

"White people create the dominant images of the world and don’t quite see that they thus construct the world in their image."

White people move through the world in a way that is made to suit a particular worldview. Damon, in explaining away any need for affirmative action, or awareness of race in film and TV, is only saying: I, personally, did not need it. He does not see his whiteness and all the privileges that come along with it.


Whitesplaining - derived from “mansplaining” - is a new, zietgeisty, word, but it’s essentially an expression of privilege: the unconscious, unearned and largely un-examined benefits of prejudice.

The concept of “privilege” was fully articulated in its modern form by Peggy McIntosh in her 1988 essay,White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.

In it, McIntosh lists specific and personal examples of her white privilege. Point number thirty is particularly relevant here:

"If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of colour will have."

Sandilands and Damon are white, famous, middle-aged men. They used their platforms to make statements about the nonexistence of social issues that actively benefit them.

All of this is not to say Damon or Sandilands are necessarily racist. Their comments, however, are examples of how easy it is for those with privilege to assume their experiences are universal. Because our media, our government and our cultural institutions constantly reflect whiteness back at us, it is easy act as if is the default.

Privilege is insidious because benefiting generally involves little to no effort. It is often the result of other people’s actions towards you, and requires simply that you look a certain way. Conversely, perpetuating privilege means acting on invisibly socialised patterns of behaviour.

Calling out whitesplaining is not about saying white people can’t talk about race: it means prioritising the voices of those with experience, not those with the loudest megaphone.


Australia  blocks sale of cattle farms to Chinese

When Greenies, the National Party and the Labor party agree on something, they're likely to get their way.  But, as Senator Leyonhjelm, notes below it is pretty irrational.  And the farms can still be sold off individually! What does that achieve? 

The Nationals are also putting sentiment before self-interest in the matter. Keeping foreigners out of the pool of buyers is bad for prices.  Farmers selling up will get less for their land

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has emphasised the national security threat posed by allowing the sale of cattle company, S. Kidman and Co, after Treasurer Scott Morrison blocked the proposed sale.

In the second veto of a major investment in agribusiness since the Coalition came to power in 2013, the government ruled the company’s holdings — valued at more than $350 million — could not be sold to a single foreign bidder.

In a statement today, Mr Morrison said selling the entire company to an overseas bidder would be “contrary to the national interest”.

Amid allegations of pandering to anti-Chinese sentiment, Mr Turnbull stressed there was “no issue of discrimination” as buyers from multiple countries had expressed an interest in the assets.

“It’s a huge piece of Australia, these Kidman properties being sold in one line, and a large part of the acreage is in the Woomera Prohibited Area,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Manila.

“Plainly the Woomera Prohibited Area is called the ‘prohibited area’ for a reason. It is actively used for weapons testing and trials and it’s an area that obviously raises national security issues.

“I noticed you asked me about backlash from the Chinese government. You would be wrong to assume that there was only one foreign country associated with buyers. So there’s no issue of discrimination here.”

About half of Anna Creek station, the single largest property holding in Australia, is located within the Woomera Prohibited Area.

Mr Turnbull said: “There’s nothing to stop them to recalibrate or restructure the way in which they’re selling these assets and resubmit. So no doubt they will reflect on that.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten said of Mr Morrison’s decision: “I look at the process. It was a big parcel of land. I think it’s 1.3 per cent of land, 2.5 per cent of agricultural land. Now, personally I had concerns. It’s a big issue but that’s why we have a Foreign Investment Review Board process.”

Greens senator Rachel Siewert welcomed the government’s decision as “a step in the right direction” and called for tougher foreign investment laws.

“The Kidman properties are not only iconic, they have high environmental values and are an important part of our agricultural production,” Senator Siewert said.

“Given the iconic nature and environmental value of some of or part of these properties I would encourage the government to look at how some parts of the holdings could contribute to our conservation estate and/or indigenous protected areas.”

The company’s holdings comprise 10 working cattle stations spanning 101,411 square kilometres across Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Kidman is Australia’s largest private land owner and holds approximately 1.3 per cent of Australia’s total land area, and 2.5 per cent of Australia’s agricultural land.

Mr Morrison said Kidman could consider whether it chose to break up the company and sell its component parts.

“I will consider any such future alternate proposal or set of proposals on its merits, consistent with my obligation to ensure that, any such sale is on terms that are not contrary to the national interest.”

In a statement, S. Kidman & Co said it acknowledged the government’s concerns and would “seek clarity around those concerns and the deal parameters, so that stakeholders can continue to work with the government in good faith to reach a satisfactory outcome”.

It is possible the assets could be split and sold separately, but several rural agents have suggested this would have significant tax implications and would not be the preferred route for the Kidman family.

Meanwhile, one underbidder, the Hong Kong-based Genius Link Asset Management (GLAM), had until today continued its search for a local partner, with the Australian Agricultural Company or the Jumbuck Pastoral Company understood to be the most likely partner.

Joel Chang, the chairman of GLAM, told The Australian he wasn’t disappointed by Mr Morrison’s decision, and he remained interested in the Kidman portfolio and other agricultural investments in Australia.

“I’m quite calm because in a way this is part of the process, and we respect the decision of the treasurer,” Mr Chang said.

“We will keep looking at cooperation and investment in Australia because the market definitely has attractiveness, and we will find ways to cooperate with Australian partners to have a business here.”

A number of China-backed syndicates were believed to have been bidding for the sprawling pastoral empire and China’s Shanghai Pengxin had been in exclusive due diligence for the portfolio.

GLAM was poised to lob a bid of as high as $370m if Pengxin, failed to close the deal this week.

Mr Chang said he would formalise a strategy after today’s announcement, and would consider bidding for individual stations if the pastoral company was sold in parts.

“We will just evaluate rationally each of the stations … and we will consider the commercial situation and if it is justified we are definitely interested,” he said.

“Australia, together with New Zealand, is the only country in the Asia-Pacific region that has the export capacity, and being an overseas bidder we see this as very interesting and that’s why we are looking at the Australian landscape.

“We accept these kinds of decisions; we see (Australia) is even more interesting because there is more scarcity in terms of opportunity.”

Kidman is viewed by many Coalition MPs, especially within the Nationals, as an iconic agricultural asset that must be kept in Australian hands.

Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm criticised the treasurer’s decision as “xenophobic”.

“It’s hard to understand. The farm can’t be taken anywhere, its owner pays tax in Australia, buys supplies in Australia and employs Australians who pay tax in Australia,” the crossbencher told The Australian.

“I will start worrying about foreign companies buying our farms when I see the farm being loaded onto a ship and taken overseas.

“What they’re worried about mainly is Chinese investment. There’s an undercurrent of racism to it.”

The Kidman deal was viewed as a major big foreign investment test for the Turnbull government and Mr Morrison.

It comes almost two years to the day since Morrison’s predecessor Joe Hockey controversially knocked back a bid by US agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland for GrainCorp.

The Abbott government earlier this year also tightened restrictions and threshold limits on all foreign purchases of agricultural land, largely in line with the election platforms of its Coalition partner, the Nationals.

Foreign Investment Review Board approval is now required for all farm deals once a foreign company owns or plans to buy Australian agricultural land worth more than $15m.

Mr Morrison stressed his government “welcomes foreign investment where it is consistent with our national interests”.

“Foreign investment has underpinned the development of our nation and we must continue to attract the strong inflows of foreign capital that our economy requires. Without it, Australia’s output, employment and standard of living would all be lower,” he said.

“Foreign investment rules facilitate such investment while giving assurance to the community that the investment is being made in a way which ensures that Australia’s national interest is protected.”

Founded in 1899 by Sir Sidney Kidman, it is now one of the country’s largest beef producers supplying markets in Japan, the United States and South-East Asia.

The company reported a net profit of $50 million in June.


Police misconduct in Cairns

By Madelaine Stover, writing very recently (20th)

Wow!!!!! What a crazy 48 hours our family has just been through.

It started yesterday morning when the police came to our house without a warrant to arrest my dad. They then ended up arresting my sister and letting her go which i'm assuming because the officers reason for the arrest wouldn't match up to the facts?

Then sometime between 2:30-3:00 am the property was raided by what I now know where members from the tactical crime squad. They all refused to identify themselves and came through my place without producing a warrant or any ID. They were forcing me to comply to their orders (even though I had no idea who they were) by using a dog to scare and intimidate me.

Then this morning another large number of police officers or tactical crime squad members swarmed the property and arrested my dad...I witnessed the officer slam his face into the ground and jam his knee into the center of my dads back. An extremely unnecessary force for a peaceful man who was complying (in fact one officer tripped over and my dad kindly asked him if he was okay while he was handcuffed....because that is the type of man my dad is).

My dad had his court case today and was released without any charges after he represented himself. All this force when no crime has been commited by this man.

My dad, sister and I have all been treated in such an unprofessional, disturbing way by the Cairns police in the past 48 hours and we have NO CHARGES and NO CRIMES have been committed by any of us.

This is important for people to know as there have been a couple of nasty comments such as 'well if you want to be treated fairly by police then don't break the law'. None of us have and the result of the court case today shows that.

Some people are aware that my dad reveals disturbing information about the police and the fraud of the government. We strongly believe this was the reason for being targeted by the police.

Everything that happened over the past 48 hours was in relation to an alleged minor traffic infringement, which my dad wasn't charged for in the court today. A lot of force for something so small right!?! A whole tactical squad (which is very expensive tax dollars) for an alleged traffic incident that my dad was not found guilty of.

The CCC have been contacted and were concerned about the police and the way they conducted their procedures. We will be putting our evidence together for them to start their investigation.

The past 48 hours were scary and tough for our family. Everyones kind words, love and support are what helped us through. Thank you so much to everyone who supported. We are all okay for now smile emoticon big love!!

SOURCE.  Video here

We must decide which refugees we accept

COALITION prime minister John Howard famously declared “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”.

The UN has now made it clear it will take that decision out of Australians’ hands.  In an interview with the ABC’s PM program, Andrew Harper, of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, says Australians are going to have to take Sunni Muslim refugees no matter what our politicians say, and the Turnbull government is going along with it.

In September, just before he was deposed by Malcolm Turnbull, former prime minister Tony Abbott pledged to increase Australia’s refugee intake by 12,000 and said the focus would be on “families and women and children, especially of persecuted minorities, who have sought refuge in camps neighbouring Syria and Iraq”.

Australia, he said, was in a position to take more refugees because of the government’s success in stopping illegal boat arrivals.

Expectations were that significant numbers of the refugees to come to Australia would be from the persecuted Christian and Yazidi groups, among the most threatened in the Middle East.

According to Harper, however: “We do not take too much notice of what politicians anywhere in the world have to say. Some are being very forthright in their positions. What we will do is remain objective and focus on the criteria which we have, which is vulnerability.

“When people are talking about focusing only on minorities, that’s not necessarily a true reflection of the people who are probably most at risk.

“So if people start pushing the minority card or the religious card, we are going to be pushing that back and saying this is not the most ­important element for us.”

That’s fine for the UN but it isn’t a nation and its staffers don’t pay taxes and it is dominated by people who would really prefer an unelected one-world government that they run.

Australia should tell the UN that Australians have their own criteria and they are not tools of the UN.

The UN is a failure, and Australia is not. Had Mr Howard buckled to the UN’s agenda, as Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard did, Australians would not be paying for a far larger number of illegal boat arrivals than the more than 50,000 who arrived on their watch.

There would also be a far greater number of corpses floating in the seas around Christmas Island.

Australians expect to receive Christian and vulnerable people from the non-Muslim minorities. They have nowhere else to go.

We should tell the UN to stick its criteria and stand up for those most in need.


China acknowledges Australia coal concerns

Chinese premier Li Keqiang has acknowledged concerns over import controls that stymie $9 billion in Australian coal exports, agreeing with Malcolm Turnbull that work should be done to “streamline” the rules.

Mr Li pointedly praised Australian coal in his first formal bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister late yesterday, responding to fears about the curbs at a time when the two nations are finalising a free trade deal.

Mr Li also reiterated that the Chinese economy was expected to grow by about 7 per cent, in line with previous forecasts and giving Australia a long-term source of demand for its natural resources.

While there was no shift in policy, the bilateral meeting agreed that officials from both countries should find ways to “streamline the process” that is causing huge concern among Australian coal exporters.

Mr Turnbull is in Kuala Lumpur for the East Asia Summit of more than 18 leaders from around the region, but he spent some of Saturday afternoon in a private meeting with Mr Li, the Chinese leader with greatest responsibility for economic policy.

Amid talk of freer trade between the two countries, China imposed tougher standards last year to reduce the percentage of ash and sulphur in its imported coal, thereby helping domestic producers who struggle to compete against Australian suppliers.

The Prime Minister raised the matter in his meeting with Mr Li, leading the Chinese premier to praise the quality of Australian coal.

Australian coal exports to China were worth about $9bn last year, according to an Austrade report in February, but the quality checks have introduced new uncertainties into the trade.

Local authorities at the port of Taizhou said a 40,000-tonne Australian coal shipment was turned away on environmental grounds in July after sitting at the port for more than three months, Reuters reported earlier this year.

Weaker demand has also undercut the trade, with China’s coal imports down 37.5 per cent by volume in the six months to the end of June compared to the same period last year.

The Australian was told Mr Li described the relationship between China and Australia as being in “great shape” and spoke with Mr Turnbull about the prospect of the China Australia free trade agreement coming into force by the end of this year.

The Chinese premier also told Mr Turnbull of an expectation that China would grow at about 7 per cent.

The figure is in line with the World Bank forecast of 7.1 per cent growth for China this year, but the remarks offer comfort to Australian exporters given the increasing reliance on Chinese demand.


22 November, 2015

Now New Matilda is defending the Paris terrorists

Their contributor, Dr Lissa Johnson, writing below, is a psychologist/sociologist, as I am.  And what she does in the excerpt I reproduce below  is to excuse the terrorists by saying in effect "We all do it".  Saying that baldly would be too absurd to be worth saying so she repeats broad generalizations of the kind that psychologists have often made. 

She regurgitates the conventional wisdom in psychology -- the claim that most people love their own group and that leads to them hating other groups.  Rather amazingly, however, there has been little testing done of that claim. It just seems obvious to Leftist psychologists.  So they actually embody it in a definition.  They prefer to speak of "ethnocentrism" rather than racism and they define ethnocentrism as the combination of ingroup love and outgroup hate that I have just mentioned.  They embody in a definition what is in fact an empirical claim.

So how does the claim stand up when tested?  I have been involved in most of the surveys concerned and have uniformly found negligible correlation between ingroup and outgroup sentiment. So her implicit claim that the Paris masssacres were simple psychological normality is built on sand.  Patriotism does NOT lead to a hatred of other nationalities and there were more than normal psychological processes behind the Paris massacres. 

What WAS behind the massacres is a mystery only to Lissa Johnson and her Leftist allies.  The Jihadists themselves told us that they hated what they saw as Parisian decadence compared to Muslim purity and their cries of "Allah Akhbar" are unanmiguous in  claiming that their thinking was Muslim.  And it was.  Read the Koran from Sura 9 onwards and you will see that the Jihadis were doing just what Mohammed commanded

So the Lissa Johnson whitewash won't work.  She and her fellow Leftists need to remove the scales from their eyes


Cashdan, E.(2001)"Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia: A Cross-Cultural Study"Current Anthropology Vol. 42, No. 5.pp. 760-764

Heaven, P.C.L., Rajab, D. & Ray, J.J. (1985) Patriotism, racism and the disutility of the ethnocentrism concept. Journal of Social Psychology,125, 181-185.

Ray, J.J. (1971) Ethnocentrism: Attitudes and behaviour. Australian Quarterly,43, 89-97.

Ray, J.J. (1974). Are racists ethnocentric?Ch. 46 in Ray, J.J. (1974) Conservatism as heresy Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co.

Ray, J.J. (1984). Half of all racists are Left-wing.Political Psychology, 5, 227-236.

Ray, J.J. &Lovejoy, F.H. (1986). The generality of racial prejudice. Journal of Social Psychology, 126, 563-564.

Excerpt from Lissa Johnson:

In short, we know what makes people capable of unthinkable atrocity. Psychologists have understood it for quite some time.

Put simply, it involves an ‘us-versus-them’ mindset, in which ‘we’ are human and ‘they’ are not.

These processes are exacerbated by fear and intergroup competition, which are predictably exploited by leaders and popular media at times of crisis such as this.

Fear and intergroup competition breed not only outgroup hostility and dehumanisation, but also ingroup glorification and collective narcissism. Victims of ‘our’ violence are not only less human, but our violence is necessary and noble. Only ‘theirs’ is abominable.

The overlap in the psychology of our own and extremists’ group-based violence, however, is barely acknowledged in the psychological literature on extremism.

Where intergroup processes are described, there is little reference to their parallel role in ordinary law abiding citizens’ support for state-sanctioned violence (torture, war, military force, civilian death and injury), despite extensive literatures on the subject.

Rather, when applied to violent extremism, intergroup processes are often framed as particularly Islamic. They are described in terms of “Islamic youth”, “Islamic violence”, “Muslim extremists”, “prescription to obey the laws and rules of Allah”, the “extreme Islamic person”, “Muslim in-group superiority”, “Alienated and frustrated Muslims” and so-on.

Were the literatures on terrorism, radicalisation and extremism to acknowledge the shared psychological foundations with Western collective violence, two consequences might follow.

We would be forced to acknowledge that radicalised intergroup violence is not different, strange, unusual, unfathomable or foreign. Given the fierce hostility of global intergroup relations, particularly our and our allies’ devastating actions in the Middle East, group-based violence and hostility towards Westerners is predictable. And, unfortunately, human.

We would also need to acknowledge that our own intergroup violence is scarcely different. It is no more covered in glory, despite what our leaders and mainstream media would have us believe.

In the psychological passages above, for instance, while the third and fourth quotes relate to US citizens’ acceptance of US violence in Iraq, the sixth relates to contempt for asylum seekers and opposition to refugee intake in Canada.

Were we able to look past our own ingroup glorification we would see these very self-deceiving, self-defeating, base psychological processes at work in our own intergroup hostility, with origins in our very distant ancestors, whose knuckles still dragged along the ground.


Left can’t sugarcoat bitter pill of terror

Miranda Devine

BEAUTIFUL Paris has been attacked by Islamist terrorists again. There’s no point pretending there’s any doubt about who the perpetrators are, even if US President Obama says: “I don’t want to speculate, at this point, in terms of who was responsible for this.”

Less than a year after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the land of “liberte, egalite and fraternite” has been attacked at its heart, yet again, by Islamist fundamentalists driven by a murderous totalitarian ideology which cannot be appeased.

Co-ordinated, militaristic ­attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen on soft targets at six ­locations across Paris are ­designed to cause maximum casualties and maximum terror.

Survivors say terrorists wielding Kalashnikovs yelled “Allahu Akbar” as they opened fire on young people watching a rock concert at the Le Bataclan theatre, scene of a dramatic police operation to rescue hostages from the carnage where scores of people were reported dead.

Leftist fools who try to downplay this virulent terrorism are missing the point. They sneer at attempts by security agencies to keep us safe, and tediously claim that, because fewer Australians are killed each year by terrorism than, say, car accidents or heart ­attacks, counter-terrorism is mere pantomime pandering to Islamophobes.

But when sports stadiums, restaurants and concert halls in the City of Love are not safe, nothing is safe. This is the point of terrorism, the ever-present threat of random and violent death, targeted specifically at innocent people in the Western world.

Denial and appeasement, pretending the threat has nothing to do with Islam, exaggerating Islamophobia and blaming the victim, are exactly the wrong reaction.

But you can bet in the weeks to come this will be the narrative from the bien pensants of Fairfax and the ABC, just as it was after the terrorist attack on Parramatta’s police HQ and on the Lindt cafe in the heart of Sydney. This wilfully blind political correctness does no favours to Muslims, who are among the greatest victims of Islamofascism.

“We have to acknowledge that today’s Islamists are ­driven by a political ideology, an ideology embedded in the foundational texts of Islam,” Somali-born former Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

“We appease the Muslim heads of government who lobby us to censor our press, our universities, our history books, our school curricula. They appeal and we oblige.

‘‘We appease leaders of Muslim organisations in our societies. They ask us not to link acts of violence to ... Islam because they say theirs is a ­religion of peace, and we oblige.

“What do we get in return? Kalashnikovs in the heart of Paris. The more we oblige, the more we self-censor; the more we appease, the bolder the enemy gets.”

I spent last Christmas in Paris, just before the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and had never seen such strong security measures, outside of Israel. As it turned out, a few days after I left, just a few minutes away from where I was staying, Islamists attacked Charlie Hebdo.

Even with the best security, Paris was still not safe. And what happened again there yesterday only reminds us how vulnerable we are in Australia, after three terrorist attacks ­already on home soil, and ­numerous attacks foiled by counter-terrorism agencies.

And yet, in the days after the ­lethal attack in Parramatta last month by a 15-year-old yelling “Allahu Ak-bar”, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NSW Premier Mike Baird were reluctant to speak plainly about what had occurred.  They repeatedly refused to mention the “I” word.

Sugar-coating the truth about Islamist extremism, and pretending that an equal threat comes from theoretical redneck Islamophobes, only further endangers us and pushes reasonable people into the arms of far-right hate groups.

Angela Merkel’s naïve open-door refugee policy, which has set off chaos across Europe, will only exacerbate the problem. As Tony Abbott said in a recent speech in London, it is a “catastrophic error”, which has benefited a majority of fake refugees.

Yet, in a subtle repudiation of Abbott’s stance, Turnbull chose to bestow on the German Chancellor the honour of being the first European leader he has visited as PM this week. In his reported remarks from their Berlin meeting he made no criticism of the policy which has bitterly divided Merkel’s government.

These are not good signs.

Instead of at least acknowledging the renewed Islamist threat mutating out from the bloody Syrian civil war, too many world leaders keep insisting that the greatest threat to humanity is carbon dioxide.

The irony that Paris is the site of the upcoming UN climate conference can’t be overlooked.


Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission finds all Catholic Bishops might have a “case to answer”

A news story in The Australian this morning indicates that the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission has found a preliminary “case to answer” in relation to a claim of sexual orientation discrimination against not only the Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous, but also “all Australia’s Catholic bishops.”

We have known for some time that Greens political candidate Martine ­Delaney had made a complaint against Archbishop Porteous, but the additional feature of the decision of the Anti-Discrimination Commission is the inclusion of other Catholic Bishops from all around Australia.

The booklet distributed to parents of students at Roman Catholic schools by Archbishop Porteous is entitled, “Don’t Mess with Marriage,” and was produced by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

The booklet eschews all forms of “unjust discrimination,” and goes on to say, “some suggest that it is unjustly discriminatory not to allow people with same-sex attraction to marry someone of the same sex. Others believe that marriage is an institution uniting a man and a woman. We wish by this pastoral letter to engage with this debate, present the Church’s teaching to the faithful, and explain the position of the Catholic faithful to the wider community.”

It continues: “the traditional view of marriage, which the Church has always supported, is different. It sees marriage as about connecting the values and people in our lives which otherwise have a tendency to get fragmented: sex and love, male and female, sex and babies, parents and children. This view has long influenced our law, literature, art, philosophy, religion and social practices. On this view, marriage includes an emotional union, but it goes further than that. It involves a substantial bodily and spiritual union of a man and a woman.

“Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will have far reaching consequences for all of us. The world around us influences the communities in which we live. Cultural and legal norms shape our idea of what the world is like, what’s valuable, and what are appropriate standards of conduct. And this in turn shapes individual choices. That’s one of the main purposes of marriage law: to enable and encourage individuals to form and keep commitments of a certain kind. But if the civil definition of marriage were changed to include ‘same-sex marriage’ then our law and culture would teach that marriage is merely about emotional union of any two (or more?) people.”

The legal status of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and whether it claims to represent, for example, the views of every Roman Catholic Bishop in Australia, is unclear. But it must also be said that it would be somewhat odd if a Tasmanian tribunal were legally able to exercise authority over Bishops who operate in other states of Australia.

The more important issue, of course, is whether the law will continue to protect the religious freedom of churches and believers to maintain and teach within their own communities the historical views of Christianity about marriage and sexuality.

These issues are brought sharply into focus when some of those supporting “marriage equality” consider this sort of attempted widespread suppression of speech and religious freedom a reasonable policy stance.


Tax reform: time for remedial maths lessons

Michael Potter

It seems everyone needs to go back to school to re-learn their sums. Public debate over tax reform has shown a disturbing lack of maths knowledge.

Firstly, we had the Greens arguing that a carbon tax would raise as much revenue as a GST, but with only one third of the cost to households. But where else would the revenue from a carbon tax come from? Thin air? They can't argue that the cost is borne by business - because then the same argument would apply to the GST. Either business bears the cost of both taxes, or households bear both costs. Either way, the total impact on households would be similar. And exports can't fill the gap in the Green's calculations, because Australia's exports aren't large enough.

The Coalition also needs remedial lessons. They have argued that tax reform must not increase the tax burden, and tax reform will include compensation for households that don't pay tax, implying an increase in welfare spending. So taxes won't increase, but spending will go up - meaning an increase in the budget deficit. But the Coalition has argued the deficit should be reduced. These calculations don't add up.

Next on the remedial class list is the ALP, who have been arguing that taxes are currently too low compared to 2002, and there were too many tax cuts given in and around 2002. However, the ALP at the time, and more recently in 2011, argued that taxes were are at record highs. Taxes can't be too low compared to a year when taxes were too high.

ACOSS is also on the list for extra maths lessons. They released modelling arguing the poorest households paid 13.4% of their income in GST. Working out the sums, this means that a household with income around $26,000 has consumption of around $71,000. This doesn't make sense.

And finally, all tax commentators need to check their sums. The proceeds from a possible GST increase have already been spent multiple times on compensation; personal tax cuts; company tax cuts; reductions in stamp duties; funding for hospitals, education and infrastructure; and to reduce the deficit. This also doesn't add up - everyone involved in the tax debate should also head back to class.


For 26 years, the state of NSW has pursued Roseanne Beckett, AKA Roseanne Catt

Last week, NSW Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison ordered the state to pay Beckett $4,091,717 in damages for maliciously prosecuting her on charges of perjury and soliciting a man to murder her then husband Barry Catt. He also ordered the Crown to pay her costs, likely to be at least $4 million dollars.

For the convictions that resulted from these charges – now overturned – Beckett served six years in prison.

This malicious prosecution case has already gone for seven and half years. Beckett and her many supporters were hoping that the NSW government might finally let it rest. But it is already clear that the state has not ceased its campaign.

Justice Harrison noted the speed with which senior counsel for the Crown John Maconachie announced its intention to appeal, even before his judgment “had been delivered into its hands, let alone read”, reinforcing his perception that the state has only ever been interested in a “capitulation” by Beckett.

The Crown had only until November 24 to apply for a stay or halt on Justice Harrison’s orders pending an appeal. Yesterday afternoon, Beckett received news from her lawyers Turner Freeman that the Crown will apply for such orders next Monday morning, just one day short of the deadline. The application will be opposed.

The big unresolved issue now hanging over this historic miscarriage of justice case is not whether Beckett was guilty of the nine charges initiated by then Newcastle Detective Peter Thomas, who led a team of other police on a raid on her home way back in August 1989. Instead the big questions are: why has the Crown so determinedly defended the improper conduct of Thomas? And why has the NSW government so comprehensively failed to hold those who acted on its behalf accountable?

Thomas, who avoided disciplinary charges related to intimidating witnesses in his campaign to send Beckett to prison, resigned from the NSW police force before her trial in 1991. But he remained actively involved in pursuing Beckett and any who he saw as supporting her cause until his death shortly before the malicious prosecution hearing ended last year. Reporters were not immune. He attempted to blacken my own name by spreading allegations to News Corporation, ABC’s Media Watch, Fairfax Media and the Media Alliance that I was biased against him because he arrested me in my youth. These allegations were false.

Malicious prosecution cases are notoriously hard to prove because the plaintiff must show not only that the prosecutor had malicious intent but also that there was an absence of any reasonable cause to prosecute. Harrison found Thomas “intensely disliked” Beckett, who had previously laid a complaint against him. He found that Thomas was a frightening and “corrupt bully” who used “intimidating antics” to pressure witnesses in the Beckett case. He found that the plaintiff had established the essential ingredient of malicious intent on all counts.

Beckett only succeeded in proving an absence of reasonable cause to charge her in two of six counts. Nevertheless, this still meant a verdict was entered in her favour. Although she did not prove absence of reasonable cause on the other four counts, she was acquitted of two other charges and another three were dismissed by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2005. She remains convicted of two charges. She served terms of imprisonment on eight charges though Justice Harrison was of the view that most of these charges would not have ordinarily have led to a prison sentences and that the case would have been entirely different if Thomas had not been involved.

While she was in prison Beckett was badly assaulted, a contract was taken out on her life, and her health suffered. The damages are intended as some compensation for these long years of wrongful imprisonment and suffering, her loss of family and friends, her right to work, and damage to her reputation which began when Thomas arranged for her to be taken handcuffed from her home in Taree and paraded in front of the local media.

As Justice Harrison commented, there is no way of knowing what Beckett’s life might have been. In 1989, she was a 42-year old woman with no criminal record who he observed was definitely of “good character” and had considerable “energy and independence”. Her fight for justice has required every ounce of that energy and independence.

Last week’s decision was the second stage in Justice Harrison’s judgement. Twenty-six years from the day of her arrest in August 24, Justice Harrison handed down his decision and awarded Beckett $2.3m in damages. It’s normal to pay interest on damages and the judge asked lawyers for Beckett and the Crown barristers to agree on interests and costs before he finalised his judgement. Only if they failed to do so would he need to preside over a further hearing.

On that day Beckett and her supporters celebrated her victory at a press conference which most of the media also assumed was the finale. But this was not the first time that Beckett has made a victory speech.

After nearly a decade in prison Beckett was released in 2001 when a fresh appeal was ordered after new evidence emerged in her case. In 2004, at the end of a four-month inquiry, Justice Davidson found that it was likely that key prosecution witnesses had conspired to fabricate evidence against her. The Crown completely rejected his findings. Nevertheless, Beckett won her appeal. By now she had been acquitted of two charges and another five had been dismissed. At that stage, the NSW Labor government could have offered some compensation. It declined to do so.

She sued for malicious prosecution. The NSW state then spent a considerable amount of public money in an unsuccessful High Court bid to deprive her of the right to sue. No settlement was offered and the case continued with the Crown taking every technical point to keep evidence of Thomas’ misconduct in this and other matters out of the proceedings.

Last year, Beckett’s legal representatives offered to settle the case for $2 million. The Crown lawyers did not even reply. By that failure they added to the amount of public money at risk should they lose the case. Referring to the Crown’s failure to respond, Justice Harrison found that “the State’s total disregard for the offer of compromise does not inspire me with confidence that the State was anxiously hanging out for an opportunity to settle the proceedings. On the contrary, even allowing for the fact that my view of the settlement landscape was necessarily obstructed, I never once acquired the feeling that the State was even in the slightest fashion interested in settling the proceedings upon any basis other than a complete victory for it.”

The NSW Crown lawyers are supposed to act as ‘model litigants’. This means they should keep costs to a minimum and apologise where appropriate. They would appear to have fallen well short of model litigant conduct in this case.

The malicious prosecution trial took place last year. The Crown failed to call three key prosecution witnesses that Judge Davidson had found were likely to have fabricated evidence. This deprived Justice Harrison of the opportunity to see them give evidence and the plaintiff to chance to cross-examine them.

Beckett finally triumphed in August. Justice Harrison reminded the Crown that the case had already taken more than seven years. Would they finally accept the result? True to form, the lawyers representing the state did not blink.

Maconachie and his team of Crown lawyers proceeded to file submissions that normal legal principles should be varied so that Beckett would be deprived of both interest and costs. They described the damages as “staggering” and even “irrational”.

They turned once again on Beckett suggesting that she had “stigmatised” Thomas by falsely alleging that he had planted a gun on her. Although Beckett’s case that there was no reasonable basis for that charge was not accepted by Harrison, she was acquitted of the charge of possession of a gun by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2005.

With no agreement between the parties the case resumed in late October. Acting for Beckett, Kylie Nomchong SC called on the Crown to withdraw the submissions and apologise to Beckett. But the Crown refused to do so arguing that the only possible reason why Harrison did not accept some aspects of Beckett’s evidence was that she had deliberately lied. Justice Harrison disagreed, pointing out that the Crown’s argument did not logically flow from his finding and that it could even be that he was wrong.

Without a hint of irony Maconachie argued that he should be given more time to consider arguments for a stay in judgement pending an appeal given that public money was at stake. Given the millions spent in pursuing her, the murmur his comment inspired from Beckett’s staunch supporters was hardly surprising.

According to information supplied in response to a freedom of information request from NSW Greens Legal spokesperson MP David Shoebridge, the Crown had already outlaid more than $2.8 million in fees and disbursements in the defending Beckett’s claim for damages up until April this year. This includes fees for senior counsel and two junior barristers during the malicious prosecution trial. It does not include the cost of months of time of a small team of in-house government solicitors or the court time. For every written submission and judgement and every minute of court hearing the public bill grows. Along with the damages and plaintiff’s costs this case will have cost more than $13 million. The public cost of the entire case against Beckett would be at least $30 million including costs of imprisonment, courts, police, and massive legal bills for the Crown and defence.

It is worth looking more closely at the findings in the two counts in which it was decided there was no reasonable basis for the charge.

At the time of her arrest, Beckett had charged her husband with assault. Instead of allowing the part-heard proceedings to continue, Thomas charged Beckett with perjury. On the day the assault case was due to continue, he improperly arranged for her bail to be withdrawn so that she was held in custody. Although the Supreme Court soon released her again, the assault proceedings were never finalised. Justice Harrison found that the “laying of the perjury charge was patently improper” and that Thomas could have formed “no honest or reasonable belief” that Beckett was guilty of the charge.

Justice Harrison described the allegation that Beckett had approached a drunken man called James Morris, whom she did not even know, to kill her husband as an “extraordinary” one which Thomas had “never once sought to verify it or test.” Instead he found that Thomas proceeded “at full throttle to prefer a serious charge for the wrongful purpose of getting back at Beckett for the mischief he felt she had caused him.” (The mischief was a complaint against Thomas’ conduct several years earlier). At the time Morris, who had resigned as the Aboriginal Police Liaison officer in Taree, was vulnerable because there were public rumours that he was involved in the abuse of Aboriginal girls. Justice Harrison found that Thomas “utilised the legal system in a way that did not secure justice but perverted it.”

These are the findings of fact that the state so strenuously resists. It is the verdicts on these two cases against which the Crown has indicated it will appeal. If it does, Beckett could counter appeal on the four counts that she did not win.

A Curiously Strident Submission

Justice Harrison was clearly not impressed by the Crown’s submissions.

He referred to their criticisms of his judgement as being submitted “somewhat boldly” and to their “curiously strident terms.” In response to the Crown’s description of the damages as “a staggering sum” and “irrational”, he wrote, “The significance of their characterisation in the present context is not immediately apparent to me.”

He noted that the Crown had made it “abundantly clear” that it would appeal his judgment. “However, the precise areas of challenge to my decision, apart from what may be gleaned from the generally agitated tone of his submissions, have not as yet been specified,” he added.

Justice Harrison’s judgment is cautious. He has clearly striving to be fair to both sides and did not overreach in his findings against the police. He has not accepted all of Beckett’s claims. But he did find there had been an “egregious failure in policing and an institutional failure of remarkable proportions” in allowing Thomas to be involved in the case. The Crown can only appeal on legal not factual grounds so it will be scrambling to find legal points on which to mount an arguable appeal.

At every point, the Crown has used its discretion to fight this case. It could easily have decided otherwise. So if it is not the law that is driving the Crown’s conduct, what factors might explain it?

What’s Driving The Crown?

The Crown stands to lose a lot of money on this case. Some may be arguing that it is better to risk losing EVEN more than give up NOW.

For years it seems that the Crown might be fending off damaging allegations about police involvement in a paedophilia ring in Taree, and abuse of Aboriginal girls. There were allegations even before Beckett was arrested about these activities and they were never resolved. The children of Beckett’s ex-husband, Barry Catt, alleged that when they were very young they had been made to watch pornographic movies and perform sexual acts in front of their father and police including Thomas. These allegations were withdrawn. Files disappeared and witnesses went missing. Several years after Beckett went to prison, more evidence emerged that police were involved in abuse of Aboriginal girls in Taree.

In the light of the revelations about child abuse in the mid north coast region of NSW and the Royal Commissions into institutional responses to child abuse, the allegations do not seem so unlikely today as they did in 1989. Only an open inquiry free of adversarial process could establish the truth of these allegations.

This aspect of the case has consistently been put aside as irrelevant by lawyers on both sides but ran as a dark unexplored current through the case. In the earlier years of the case it could be that some police and other witnesses had an interest in protecting Thomas and Barry Catt, both of whom died last years.

It is also true that miscarriages of justice cases involving corrupt police are hotly resisted because of the potential flow on impacts on other cases. Beckett was not Thomas’s only victim. The Crown settled at least one other malicious prosecution case while Beckett was in prison and another potential case was never launched because the victim lacked legal resources.

The Gender Issue

But there is also the issue of gender. The original Crown case depended on Beckett having almost magical witch-like powers. She was supposed to be able to manipulate police and psychiatrists against her husband and hypnotise witnesses. While the media treatment was fair before her conviction the trial judge’s phrase ‘evil and manipulative’ stuck. After her conviction there were double page spreads portraying her as a wicked stepmother and plotting wife. Prison files embedded the label in the official record when she would not admit her guilt.

Her strong exterior does not appeal to those who expect women to be vulnerable under pressure, especially when they have already been warned that she is ‘evil and manipulative’. One gets the impression that whatever the evidence, some Crown lawyers harbour an antipathy to her.

Those who know Beckett know what a toll the ordeal has taken on her but she has never crumbled. She has been fierce in her protestations of innocence and publicly scathing about the police and lawyers who pursued her.

The author knows from experience the whispering campaign among police, lawyers, journalists, and even judges to undermine any sympathy for her. She has been accused of being a prostitute, having an affair with a politician and involved in organised crime. None of these accusations had the slightest basis in reality.

She and her husband’s children were certainly the victims of domestic abuse. After she went to prison another woman who was severely assaulted by Catt stayed at a local women’s refuge. On the steps of the court last week Beckett expressed the hope that now that domestic violence is in the news another women in her situation might be treated differently.

Last week when Justice Harrison handed down his final judgement Maconachie was not there. But Justice Harrison categorically rejected the Crown’s proposition that Beckett’s conduct has somehow deprived the State of an opportunity to resolve the proceedings other than by litigation.

Those in charge of decisions about how the Crown should use its scarce resources must seek independent advice from a team with fresh eyes. A line should have been drawn on the 26-year campaign against Roseanne Beckett and compensation paid not just last week but a decade ago.


20 November, 2015

New Matilda gets an audience

The two-man army that is New Matilda feigned surprise a few days ago that Australians and Westerners generally are little moved by Muslims killing Muslims.  The article got picked up by overseas media, "going viral" as they say.  I add to their success by reproducing the article below.

The article closes in the usual Leftist way with an accusation that the indifference to Muslim deaths is all due to "bigotry".  We are not allowed to be satisfied when people are hoist with their own petard, apparently. 

The French have done us no harm but Muslims never stop their attacks.  So seeing some of them go to their doom at the hands of their own kind is some cause for satisfaction.  Reducing the ranks of the enemy is usually a good thing, regardless of their race or religion.  And Muslims make it very clear that they are our enemy

New Matilda, of course, persists with the desperate fiction that ISIS are "bad" Muslims who do not represent mainstream Muslim aspirations. So how come young Muslims are streaming from all over the world to join ISIS?  And how come ISIS is doing exactly what the Koran instructs?  Read the Koran starting from Sura 9 if you doubt it. 

And Turkey is the most Westernized Muslim nation so how did they see the Paris attacks?  When asked for two minutes silence to honor the dead, a Turkish crowd responded  not with silence but with loud and massed cries of "Allah Akhbar"!  -- plus whistles and boos. The REAL Muslims are the  Jihadis.  Most Muslims are not jihadis, mainly out of cowardice, one suspects, but they all stand behind the Koranic message of Islamic supremacism. And that is the problem

As France enters yet another period of mourning, Lebanon is just emerging from one. Not that you probably heard anything about it. Chris Graham reports.

If you didn’t know better, you could be excused for believing that the planning behind the latest terrorist attack in Paris is about more than just causing widespread death and fear in the West.

It looks like it’s also designed to highlight our selective outrage.

Overnight, dozens of people have been confirmed dead in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris.  News sites have fired up live blogs. Serious news Channels such as Sky are providing blanket 24-hour coverage of the event, and, as with all things tragedy, media are competing with each other for scoops and gory videos.

World leaders are also out in force, condemning the attacks. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held a press conference in Berlin a short time ago, after sending out this message of solidarity with the French people.  He was joined by his Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.  Labor’s Tanya Plibersek also tweeted in support.

French president Francois Hollande has declared a national State of Emergency, and closed its borders.

Meanwhile, in a brown part of the world, as the attacks began in Paris, Lebanon was just emerging from a National Day of Mourning, after 43 people were killed and 200 more were injured during a series of coordinated suicide bombings in Beirut.

The attacks – for which ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility – occurred in the southern Beirut suburb of Burj al-Barajneh, a predominantly Shia community which supports the Hezbollah movement. Not counting Israel’s assaults on Lebanon, the slaughters represent the deadliest bombings in Beirut since the Lebanese civil war ended more than two decades ago.

Like suspicions around the attacks in France, the bombings in Beirut are believed to be in response to Hezbollah’s decision in recent weeks to send in troops to support efforts in northern Syria against Islamic State.

But the bombings in Lebanon drew no tweet from Malcolm Turnbull, no social media statement from Barack Obama, no live media blogs from Western media, no wall-to-wall media coverage. And no twitter hashtags from Australians in solidarity with the Lebanese.

It’s a curious state of affairs, when you consider that there are around three times as many people of Lebanese descent living in Australia, compared to French nationals.

You’d think if we were able to identify with anyone, it would be with Lebanese Australians – after all, so many of them are among the most beloved in this nation, and have contributed enormously to public life.

Marie Bashir – perhaps the most admired Australian governor in history – is the child of Lebanese immigrants. Her husband, Nick Shehadie is as well – he’s the former Lord Mayor of Sydney, and a member of the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame.

Queensland parliamentarian Bob Katter has Lebanese roots. Former premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks does as well. One of the most loved rugby league stars of all time is Hazem El Masri. Benny Elias’ parents come from Lebanon. So do Robbie Farah’s.

In the AFL there’s Milham Hanna and Bachar Houli, and the current coach of the Australian Wallabies, Michael Cheika, is of Lebanese descent.

The Lebanese contribution to Australian business has also been immense – John Symond, the founder of Aussie Home Loans has Lebanese heritage. Jacques Nasser is the former CEO of Ford Motors in Australia. Ron Bakir of Crazy Ron’s mobile phones was born in Lebanon, and migrated to Australia.

There have, of course, been many great contributions by Australians with French heritage – commentator Richie Benaud, actress Cate Blanchett, businessman Robert Champion de Crespigny, politician Greg Combet, and the iconic AFL star Ron Cazaly.

But how do we explain our identification with French suffering and our apparent indifference to Lebanese suffering? Or more to the point, how do we explain our indifference to the suffering of people we perceive as different, Lebanese, African, Hazara, Muslim…. Brown people.

The sad reality is, Australia has been here before, and just 11 months ago. A few days before the Charlie Hebdo massacre, terrorist organisation Boko Haram razed the town of Baja in Nigeria, killing more than 2,000 people.

The world’s media – and most of its politicians – were mostly silent. Last month, at least another 30 people were killed in another attack on Nigerian mosques by Boko Haram.

That followed 10 people killed in a coordinated attack near the Maiduguri Airport, again by Boko Haram.

In Islamabad Pakistan, at least 20 people were killed in a suicide attack on minority Shias. That came a day after 12 were killed in an attack on another Shia shrine, this time in the province of Balochistan.

It is the Shia who were manning many of the boats that we turned away a few years ago, as sectarian violence reached unspeakable levels in towns like Quetta in Pakistan. When the Pakistani Taliban targeted the Hazara community in Quetta in September 2010 at the Meezan Chowk (a market in the middle of the city), they managed to kill at least 73 people and injure 160 more. In the background of the bloody carnage is a billboard sponsored by the Australian Government, warning Hazaras against the dangers of getting on a boat to come to Australia.

The Meezan Chouk attack in Quetta, In September 2010. In the background is a billboard sponsored by the Australian Government, warning locals of the danger of getting on a boat to seek asylum.
The Meezan Chouk attack in Quetta, In September 2010. In the background is a billboard sponsored by the Australian Government, warning locals of the danger of getting on a boat to seek asylum.

In September, at least 117 people were killed at a mosque in Nigeria, again at the hands of Boko Haram. The simple fact is, Muslims are far more likely to die at the hands of other Muslims – or more to the point, Islamic extremists who bear no resemblance to average Muslims. They’re also more likely to be killed by Westerners, who are seeking to kill Islamic extremists.

The difference is, they’re unlikely to see an outpouring of grief in Australia, or most of the rest of the world. But unlike Parisians, they already live in a state of perpetual terror. That’s why many of them have fled the Middle East for Europe, a reality which prompted this tweet this morning from American movie star Rob Lowe, a man who adequately sums up the outrage and frustration of white bigots everywhere.


Turnbull agrees to a long-term climate "goal"

"Strong language about the long-term ambition" has been agreed to. Surely a bit of a laugh.  It actually commits nobody to doing anything.  Just politician-speak, real hot air

The Turnbull government has quietly committed Australia to support decarbonising the world economy as one of the goals for this month's global climate summit in Paris, a move that has drawn applause.

With little fanfare, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agreed on the sidelines of the G20 gathering with European leaders in Turkey this week that the language of the Paris agreement should agree on a long-term goal to ensure temperatures keep within an increase of 2 degrees on pre-industrial levels.

The terrorism attacks in Paris are also considered to be a reason Australia's shift was largely overlooked.

The Paris agreement "must establish a durable platform for limiting global temperature rise to below 2 degrees, including through a long-term goal, accountability and transparency of contributions, and allowing for strengthening of ambition over time", Mr Turnbull agreed in a statement issued with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk on November 15.

The concession by Australia marks a significant advance on the country's position and stands in contrast to comments made just three weeks ago by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop that Australia wouldn't back wording supporting a long-term goal being added to the Paris accord because the country does not have a domestic target to cut carbon emissions beyond 2030.

Erwin Jackson, deputy chief executive of The Climate Institute, said the Australian government had previously committed to examine a long-term goal as part of a 2017 review of its climate policies so the statement in Turkey with the EU represented a shift of position.

"This is the first time they have publicly and explicitly supported a long-term decarbonisation signal as a central objective for an outcome in Paris," Mr Jackson said.

"The combination of shorter-term targets and a longer-term goal can facilitate long-term decision making and investment," he said.

"Long-term investment signals are essential in order to ensure innovations and investment in the technologies required to reduce emissions across the global economy."

Sem Fabrizi, the EU's ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, welcomed the Australian position. "The EU wants to work with partners to create political conditions to conclude an effective deal in Paris," Mr Fabrizi said. "So we are extremely pleased to share so many similar objectives with Australia ahead of the Paris climate talks."

The official Australian delegation to Paris has now been given its final negotiating mandate, which is understood to have been agreed to by cabinet in recent weeks.  That mandate will give Australian negotiators a great deal of flexibility on the floor of the summit to sign up to a strong agreement.

That includes the ability to accept strong language about the long-term ambition of any new climate deal, such as a push towards decarbonisation, carbon neutrality or other versions of the theme that are being considered in the talks.

However, how the long-term ambition of the Paris agreement will be expressed in the text is still an open question in the negotiations.

Some major developing countries are understood to be pushing against some of the stronger language on ambition.

A similar debate is understood to have taken place over the wording of the official communiqué for the recent G20 leaders meeting in Antalya, Turkey. Reports suggested India and Saudi Arabia argued against the inclusion of the commonly agreed global goal to keep warming below 2 degrees in the G20 statement, but later backed down.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government would take a "strong and ambitious target of reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent [on 2005 levels] by 2030 to Paris".

"The government has a long-standing commitment to working towards limiting global temperature increases to below 2 degrees," the spokeswoman said. "We are confident that a strong agreement will be reached in Paris."


PNG police detain 13 Vietnamese men 'heading to Australia'

Police in Papua New Guinea have detained 13 Vietnamese men they believe were attempting to reach Australia by boat.  The men had stopped in Wewak on the north coast of PNG to take sick people to hospital, where police were alerted to their presence.

East Sepik provincial police commander Peter Phillip said the men's boat was well stocked with water and supplies for a long voyage.

"One or two of them were very sick, [so] they're coming in to Wewak, and I suspect the boat [was] heading to Australia," he said. "They have about 10, 166-litre drums all filled with water and they have stock all through the engine room, well stocked for a long sea journey."

PNG Customs and Immigration officials are preparing to travel to Wewak from Port Moresby to interview the men, who police say do not speak English.

Mr Phillip said 10 of the men were being detained on their boat because they did not have any travel documents and may be carrying disease. Three of men remain in the Wewak hospital.

"They have no valid documents and even the vessel is not registered ... it does not look good [or] seaworthy," the chief inspector said.  "I am of the view that they are illegally here and they should be detained."

Mr Phillip said someone onboard appeared to have knowledge of Wewak because the men had found the hospital on their own.


Risk of recession is waning as Australia outpaces its peers -- under a popular conservative givernment

Australia's economy is far from a recession – its outlook has improved and it is poised to attract international buyers, according to two major investment firms.

Stephen Roberts, chief economist at Sydney-based Altair Asset Management, said the local economy was faring better compared with most of the world, with global growth set to remain stagnant at 2.8 per cent in 2016.

"There is more reason for international investors to carefully trawl Australian opportunities and not to sell but to buy, especially after the underperformance of the Australian sharemarket over recent months," he wrote in a client note.

Mr Roberts listed four signs, albeit tentative, that investors should be encouraged by: the depreciating currency; the housing boom correcting rather than collapsing; the changing mix of the big banks' loan books; and strong employment numbers.

"The combination of these four positive factors means that the risk of Australia slipping into recession has lessened over the past month or so, from a near 50 per cent chance to under 30 per cent in our view," he said.

The depreciating Aussie, which has fallen 25 per cent against the US dollar in two years and 16 per cent on a trade-weighted basis was doing its job in lowering export prices while boosting tourism.

Housing not so bleak

Housing, meanwhile, had turned from a predominantly speculative investment market to a more stable owner-occupier market, meaning macro-prudential policy was working, Mr Roberts said.

"That does not mean that house prices will not fall, but it does imply that the fall is likely to be much less than if investors driven entirely by unrealistic expectations of capital gain had continued to be by far the most dominant influence in the market," he said.

The big four banks had managed to raise the capital required by the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority without too much market disruption, and their loan books were shifting to more diversified mix of risk in both home and commercial lending.

Finally, employment growth, which posted very strong numbers in October and sent unemployment back to 5.9 per cent should prop up retail spending and housing demand.

Underpinning the unknowns was the fact that the Reserve Bank of Australia had room to ease if necessary, Mr Roberts said.

The optimistic note came as Olga Bitel, economist for Chicago-based fund manager William Blair, said Australia was beating its Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development peers in capitalising on China's economic transition.

While many Australians were disheartened by falling iron ore prices, which are caught in a global commodity rout amid weaker demand from China, services of exports have almost caught up with resources.

"We are talking about medical services, pharmaceuticals, tourism, education – all of these sectors are seeing a tremendous boost [in demand from China]," Ms Bitel told Fairfax Media on a visit to Australia. 

"The resources boom was a big tax on the economy. It made the exchange rate very expensive and the services sector very uncompetitive," she said.

China services sector strong

In a further blow to the resources sector,  the OECD on Wednesday struck an historic agreement to scale back coal production.

But the numbers coming from China's growing demand for services were extraordinary, Ms Bitel said.

Services consumption had risen from 45 per cent of China's gross domestic product to 50 per cent in five years, while retail sales were rapidly growing. Online shopping, almost non-existent a decade ago, was growing at a pace of around 40 per cent a year and accounted for 10 per cent of China's economy.

She said the legacy from China's manufacturing boom was that it knew how to build roads and bridges. It was not as good as Australia at building hospitals and nursing homes – for which there was a skyrocketing demand.

This meant that investor portfolios tilted at China should look very different to what they did a decade ago, she said, indicating less resources, and more healthcare and agriculture stocks.


19 November, 2015

Australia is a nation of white privilege?

Despite the unceasing efforts of many Australian governments to improve the lot of Aborigines, we find a big whine from a part-Aboriginal man below.   Clearly he feels saddened by some of his life experiences but he is that way because of a lack of perspective.  He fails to factor in the great efforts to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal that have been made by many Australian governments over the years.  Those efforts have largely failed but it is Aboriginals who have failed to take advantage of what they have been offered.  You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

Australia does have an informal version of America's "affirmative action" in that the standards expected of Aborigines are lower than what is expected of whites but that has still done little good.  How is the rest of Australia to blame for that? The efforts have been made but Aborigines have failed to respond.

As well as that deficiency in perspective, the writer seems to suffer from something like delusions of reference.  He attributes all his difficulties to the color of his skin.  He seems to think that only Aborigines have problems.  That society also gives whites problems appears to be quite beyond his ken.  The problems whites and blacks have may be different but the problems whites have can be very severe.  We often read of young white people suiciding but I have yet to hear of an Aborigine doing the same.  Particularly in Britain there are stories of suicides among young white children and teenagers in the papers most days.

There is no doubt that children can be cruel to one-another  and that seems mostly to be behind the suicides I have mentioned.  Children will pick on almost any deviation from the norm and mock it.  In my youth I was mocked for being unsporting but I just ignored it and the mockery ceased.  That children also mock dark skin is therefore completely normal and unlikely to change.  If the guy below did not have dark skin he might well have been picked on for some other attribute.  Calling a society racist for what some children acting like children do is absurd.

In using the word "privilege", the writer is using an expression that often implies that a person is getting something undeserved.  But the whole idea of privilege in the field of race-relations is just a leftist slur.  It asserts that some people or classes of people were/are given certain things unfairly rather than working for them, earning them or deserving them

If a high IQ person makes a scientific breakthrough, is that privilege?  I can't see it.  He may be amply rewarded for his breakthrough but that reward is a reward for his work, not privilege.

Being born bright could be seen as a privilege but that is conferred by genetics not society -- and being bright of itself may mean little.  I knew a very high IQ man who could only find work supervising garbage bins.  It's the work you do using your brain that matters and which gives you any rewards. And the results of work are not "privilege".  They are justly earned  rewards

And a rejection of a job application by a black is also a justly earned reward, though the individual black himself might not have earned it. If Leftist privilege-critics can talk in terms of such broad categories as "whites", why can employers not think in terms of such broad categories as "blacks"?  And the well-known poor performance of both Australian and American blacks in many ways will often give rise to a reasonable fear that any given black may perform poorly in tasks relevant to the job in question. If the task involved singing and dancing or running fast, an application from an American black could well be given priority.  Who would be "privileged" then?

Any attempt at answering that question shows immediately that the whole idea of anchoring your analysis of wellbeing or success in such  broad and diverse categories as "whites" or "blacks" is near brain-dead.  It indicates an inability at detailed thought or a lack of fine-grained perception.  It is just a typical Leftist overgeneralization. There all sorts of whites, rich, poor and in-between.  Are they all equally "privileged" by being white?  Only a Leftist would think so

An intelligent appraisal of various forms of success in society would require much, much more than such childish categories as "whites".  Pre-schoolers can tell whites from blacks and Leftists  would appear not to have got beyond that infantile stage in their thinking.  Leftist politicians do talk of 'nuance' but they rarely display any of it

But nothing in Leftist "privilege" discourse is remotely intellectual.  It is just an attempt at stirring up racial antagonisms.  It is racism pure and simple. 

The guy below should stop obsessing about past slights and get on with living.  As an totally unsporting person, I manage to survive happily in a sports-mad nation so I can see no reason why an articulate part-Aboriginal man cannot survive happily in a mostly white nation.  Wise people make the best of what they have instead of whining about what they have not

Chinese, Japanese and Indians look different and are different in some ways but they do well in Australia.  The whiner below needs to ask himself why Aborigines fail to do likewise.  Within living memory, Italians Greeks and other Southern Europeans were treated with suspicion by "old" Australians but their children are now well and truly in the mainstream.  Why has that not happened with Aborigines?  Minor discrimination clearly does not hold anyone back in Australia if they have the drive to get out and do something for themselves rather than sitting down on their behinds

I have just returned from Jamaica, where I gave a keynote address on Black Consciousness as part of the country’s Heritage Week Celebrations. I spent a week feeling “black, loud and proud”, embraced for my Aboriginality and acknowledged by my international peers as an authority in my field.

But I returned home to discover yet another storm of racial vilification brewing. This time it was targeted against actress Miranda Tapsell, whose only crime was to be honest and heartfelt when interviewed about racism in Australia.

And, once again, anger was being aimed at retired footballer Adam Goodes – now due to his role as a David Jones ambassador.

And, last week, a video showing a group of black African students being asked to leave an Apple store in Melbourne went viral. It clearly showed an Apple staff member telling the boys that they had to leave the store because staff were concerned they were going to shoplift. Apple later apologised.
The reality of white privilege

It doesn’t take long as an Indigenous Australian returning from overseas to be reminded that we are a nation of white privilege. Examples of such privilege include people being able to experience the following:

    assume that most of the people you or your children study in history classes and textbooks will be of the same race, gender or sexual orientation as you are;

    assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race or gender; and

    not have to think about your race, gender, sexual orientation or disabilities on a daily basis.

For me, it starts before the flight home. My daughter is the youngest-ever graduate in the Australian Public Service traineeship program, black or white. She also celebrated her 18th birthday in Paris after negotiating a dollar-for-dollar deal with her mother and I.

But rather than reaffirm her identity, Maiala’s success denies her Aboriginality, with people often shocked when they hear how well she is doing.

If she was beaten, abandoned and on substance abuse she would fit her racial profile. This is white privilege in action: assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race or your gender. If Maiala fit her racial profile her failures would be attributed to her being Aboriginal – but no-one assumes this of her success.

Our failure is a consequence of being Aboriginal. But any success is clearly only due to our having white blood.

Being black in white Australia

Everywhere we travel overseas as a family we are asked our ethnicity. Whether in Europe, the US or elsewhere, people are generally shocked to find out we are Indigenous Australians. Why? Because they had no idea black people, let alone Indigenous black people, come from Australia.

Australia is known exclusively as a country of white people. Could you imagine thinking of New Zealand without any idea that M?ori people existed, or the US without black people or Native Americans?

My wife and children are very Aboriginal in their appearance. The welcoming faces they receive from other Australians when overseas quickly turn to shock, and replaced by a look we Aboriginal people see all our lives. People look down as we pass them, or slide across in public seats so we can’t sit next to them. Yes, this happens. And we see it, we feel it – and yes it hurts.

The situation almost becomes surreal on the plane. Generally every staff member is white on every major Australian airline. So here we are as black people, jumping on an aircraft of white people being served by white people, immersed back into a world of whiteness.

Just look at these in-flight air safety videos from Australia, the US and New Zealand. If ever there was a demonstration of Australian white privilege this is it. The US and New Zealand videos clearly show black and Indigenous people not only existing, but as being essential to the culture, the company and the identity of the institution. The Australian video is a world of whiteness.

History repeats itself

Australia just isn’t progressive and our people continue to suffer. There’s no better example of this than the fact that we are losing more of our children today than during the Stolen Generation. Not having been reared by my own Aboriginal mother, it is a situation that raises feelings of anxiety within me every time I return home from overseas.

The greatest demonstration of white privilege is that Australia consistently ranks near the top in the annual United Nations Human Development Index – which measures health, economic well-being and life expectancy.

But if Australia’s Indigenous population were to be ranked separately, it would come 100th out of nearly 200 nations. In other words, Australia is one of the richest Western countries in the world built on an industry of mining from the lands of Aboriginal people who remain living in third-world poverty.

As with Tapsell, my daughter Maiala, Goodes, black kids denied access to Apple stores and many others, the atmosphere is toxic. It affects us all and we have to call it for what it is: white privilege.


Turnbull compromises on coal stand-off

This concerns government funding for coal-fired generators, not private lending by banks.  It will however undoubtedly reduce the availability of electricity to some extent.  China finances its own generators so will not be affected. India too will probably skate around the restrictions on the grounds that it is a poor country.  Australian negotiators  insisted on exceptions for poor countries.  Most new generators in the Western world are gas-fired anyway, largely thanks to fracking

Australia has backed down from a climate change stand-off with the US and Japan, agreeing to a deal to cut funding for dirty coal-fired electricity by billions of dollars a year.

The agreement, backed by 34 wealthy countries, is expected to give a boost to the United Nations climate summit starting in Paris in 12 days.

The compromise deal was reached at a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the terror-ravaged French capital overnight on Tuesday.

A senior White House administration official said it was a "landmark" – the first deal to include standards to reduce public financing for the dirtiest coal-fired power plants. "If you look at plants ... funded in the last 10 years, this agreement would make 80 per cent of them ineligible," the official said.

"And if you look at the forward pipeline of coal plants on the drawing board today globally, we estimate that this agreement will render more than 85 per cent of those plants ineligible."

Rich countries' export credit agencies have funded about $35 billion worth of coal over the past seven years.

Leaked documents seen by Fairfax Media last week showed Australia had opposed a US-Japan deal that effectively would have limited public financing of coal plants by OECD countries to only the "cleanest" available – mostly those classed as "ultra-supercritical" generators.

The US and Japan also wanted a clause that a coal plant could win public funding only if cleaner alternatives, such as renewables, were not viable.

Australia wanted the deal to still allow the funding of large "supercritical" coal plants, which have higher emissions, and to avoid the requirement that cleaner alternatives be considered.

The US official said under the compromise deal large plants can be funded only if they were ultra-supercritical – that is, if they have the latest technology and the lowest emissions possible.

Dirtier plants could be funded only if they were small and in the poorest countries.

All plants would need to be assessed on whether they were the cleanest alternative available, and if they were consistent with the country's climate change plan before winning funding. The deal will take effect in 2017.

"This is a big step forward," the official said. "It puts clean energy technology, like renewable energy, on a stronger footing."

The deal addressed concerns that cutting emissions would prevent people in the poorest countries getting access to electricity by still allowing small plants using older coal technology to be built in those cases, he said.

The deal includes an Australian proposal that eight countries in which fewer than 90 per cent of people have access to electricity still be allowed to build older coal technology if cleaner alternatives were not available.

The US official said it did not consider this clause significant, estimating it would affect less than 1 per cent of planned coal plants.

Based on Australian Treasury modelling, it is likely Australia's coal exports will fare better than those from competitor countries as the market tightens. Australia's coal is generally considered to be of better quality, and more suitable for use in lower-emission power plants.

Jake Schmidt, of the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council, said Australia had watered the deal down, but it would still send "a powerful signal to the private sector that unfettered public financing of overseas coal power plants is coming to an end".

?Julien Vincent, of campaign group Market Forces, said the agreement was a "huge relief", but expressed concern about Australia's positioning in the negotiations.

"Prime Minister [Malcolm] Turnbull said just a few weeks ago that we need to take the ideology out of the climate change debate. For Australia to take a modest proposal ... and only agree to it after kicking holes in it is a sign that we haven't yet shaken off the 'climate change is absolute crap' ideology of Tony Abbott," he said.

Japan backed the deal despite being responsible for more than half of OECD export credit financing of coal. South Korea had also opposed the US-Japan deal, but agreed to the compromise.

The deal covers coal plants funded by public export credit agencies only. Australia's export credit agency, the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation, does not fund coal.


French Submarine Maker Surfaces New Offer to Woo Australia

The French contender in a $20 billion contest to build Australia’s next undersea fleet said it won’t offer its cutting-edge design to other nations like India bulking up their underwater capabilities, as bidding intensifies for one of the world’s most lucrative defense contracts.

The French shipbuilding giant DCNS has sold smaller submarines to India, Malaysia, Chile and Brazil, but its chairman and CEO said Tuesday that only Australia is being offered advanced sonar and stealth technology similar to systems on French nuclear missile submarines.

“What France is offering to Australia is absolutely unique and has never been offered to anybody else in the world,” DCNS’s head Herve Guillou said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal at a conference bringing together bidders for the new submarines. “Nobody else will be offered, by far, the same type of package that we are offering.”

DCNS is a state-controlled company that is one of Europe’s largest defense firms, building submarines, destroyers and aircraft carriers.

Also vying to build Australia’s next-generation submarine fleet are Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) and Japan’’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.

Australia’s Defense Minister Marise Payne said the government will pick the winning company early next year, as it plans to replace its six aging submarines with eight to 12 state-of-the-art vessels. The two-day conference was scheduled long before the weekend’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, which Mr. Guillou said he expects will spark countries to speed up buying of sophisticated weaponry.

Germany’s TKMS has also offered a larger and more advanced submarine than it has offered elsewhere. Japan, which has never before offered its proven Soryu design for sale, is hoping a sale of its submarines could solidify Tokyo’s growing strategic ties with Australia, while also boosting the country’s ambitions to take a greater slice of the global arms market.

Australia is one of many Asia-Pacific nations looking to modernize its submarine fleet with diesel-powered vessels. More than half of the world’s submarines are expected to be in Asia by 2030, as such countries as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore look to hedge against instability by building undersea fleets, which are harder for enemies to detect than conventional ships.

Canberra wants its new fleet to maintain the advantage its small but technically proficient military has held over regional neighbors, including China, which is also modernizing its fleet of around 70 submarines as it flexes its muscles over disputed islands in the East and South China Seas. The submarines are part of Australia’s ambitious naval modernization worth A$89 billion, which includes new destroyers, frigates, submarines and patrol ships.

All of the submarines being offered to Australia would give the country one of the most potent undersea forces in Asia, while adding to the capabilities of Australia’s chief ally the U.S. Modern conventional submarines add to the ability of the all-nuclear U.S. undersea fleet by being able to operate in shallower Asian coastal waters and rest undetected with engines off on ocean floors—something nuclear vessels cannot do.

DCNS is offering Australia a smaller version of its Barracuda nuclear submarine against Germany’s new Type 216, also designed specifically to prowl Australia’s sprawling coastline and reach far north into Asia. Japan, which has fallen from favoritism after a change in Australia’s prime minister, is offering a modified version of its Soryu submarine.

Mr. Guillou said DCNS was offering Australia exclusive designs because it is a Western ally in the same region of French strategic interests in Tahiti and Noumea, as well as the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.


Senator David Leyonhjelm warns the US not to adopt Australia's gun control laws

Senator David Leyonhjelm has labelled Australia "a nation of victims" and discouraged the United States from following Australia's example on gun control.

The Liberal Democrat made the comments in an interview with the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) which was screened on YouTube.

His interview appears in a clip attacking presidential hopeful and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton over her pro-gun control stance and comes as the race to the White House heats up.

Senator Leyonhjelm told the NRA that Australia should not be a model for gun control, stating that John Howard's 1996 gun legislation - pushed through in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre - had made "no difference".

"We are a nation of victims," he said.  "You cannot own a gun for self defence ... the criminals still have guns. There's a very vigorous black market for guns, so it's not made the slightest bit of difference.  "If you want a gun, you can get one."

Senator Leyonhjelm has pushed for the rights of gun owners in Australia since his election in 2013 and recently negotiated a 12-month sunset clause on a ban on importing the Adler lever-action shotgun.


Australia 'hand picking' Syrian refugees

Australia says it's hand picking the 12,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled here to limit any risk of importing terrorists.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has moved to allay any concerns in Australia, saying the checks on incoming refugees are as exhaustive as they can be.

"These are people who are hand-picked by Australian authorities in the Middle East," she told the Seven Network.

"We are focusing on people who have been persecuted in Syria and Iraq, people who are fleeing from terrorism, from persecution. Our screening and testing is very intense."

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says people have been pouring over borders in Europe, some on false documents, but Australia's security landscape is different.

"It's a different scenario for our country compared to a country like France because we don't have land borders," he told 2GB Radio on Tuesday.

"We face a very different scrutiny of people. We do all of the checks offshore before people get here, and we discard many applications."


18 November, 2015

Australia won't close borders, says FM Julie Bishop

Ms Bishop said she did not agree with calls to close the nation's borders following the deadly Paris attacks, saying stringent screening and vetting processes were in place for all refugee arrivals.

'Australia is an open tolerant, free society - that would be caving into the extremists and terrorists who want to change our way of life,' she told reporters in Manila on Monday.

Calls for a rethink of plans to resettle fleeing Syrians came after a passport, found near the body of one attacker, reportedly carried the name of a Syrian refugee.

The minister said those reports were yet to be confirmed by French authorities.

'But we cannot succumb to the fear that the terrorist organisations thrive upon,' she said.

With the terror alert level remaining high, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expressed faith in the nation's security agencies when he spoke to reporters at the G20 summit in Turkey on Monday.

'Attacks in this environment are likely to happen in the future but Australians can be assured we have the best security agencies,' he said.  'They are monitoring the situation and are seeking to protect Australians at home and so far as we can abroad.'


First family of Syrian refugees to arrive in Australia

Marwan Alkhdah and his family are among the first Syrians to be granted visas under Australia's expanded resettlement program.
The first group of refugees under the federal government's special program for Syrians is due to arrive in Australia in the next 24 hours.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter announced on Monday that a family of five would soon arrive in Perth.

He said they were originally from the city of Homs, which has been ravaged by the Syrian civil war, but could not say where the family was flying from.

Mr Porter said the mum, dad and three children had been through a "great deal" and had spent "very long periods of time in refugee camps".   He would provide no further detail about their personal circumstances, other than to say they were arriving earlier than expected due to a medical issue.

One of Tony Abbott's final acts as prime minister was to announce Australia would permanently resettle 12,000 refugees from Syria.

Mr Porter said many of the refugees would begin to arrive in December, and that the program would "pick up speed" in January and February.

The Social Services Minister said the family would be met by government officials who would help them settle into a new life in Perth.

He added that the screening process to award the family refugee status had been slow but "very, very thorough".

The group had been through "all the levels of stringency that occurs for all humanitarian and refugee arrivals," Mr Porter said.

He said the process and circumstances around this family and others in the 12,000 group were very different from "largely unregistered refugees moving across porous borders in Europe".

Earlier on Monday, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton warned of possible delays to the program, noting the government would not "rush".

"If the program time is blown out, it's blown out because we want to make sure we can be assured as to who is coming to our country and the government is not going to step back from that position," he told Fairfax Radio.

This comes after a Syrian passport, found near the body of one of the suicide bombers in Paris, suggests the attacker had arrived in France through Greece as a refugee. 


'Not every Muslim is a terrorist but every terrorist is a Muslim'

Outspoken politician Pauline Hanson has been slammed on social media for her controversial tirade in response to the Paris terror attacks after calling for a halt on Muslim refugees in Australia.

Appearing on Channel Nine's Today Show, the One Nation party leader claimed that one of the men involved in the horrific, co-ordinated attacks on Friday night (local time) had posed as a refugee.

In the wake of the deadly attacks, Ms Hanson has called on the Turnbull government to rethink its plans to resettle people fleeing conflict zones in Syria and Iraq.

'My message has been that we must be more vigilant on who we bring out to Australia,' Ms Hanson told the Nine Network, from Queensland's Coleyville, on Sunday morning.

'These refugees may be cells that have been brought out, who have been planted ISIS... to become refugees who will end up in Australia, on Australian soil.'

Her call follows the harrowing ordeal in Paris that have left at least 129 people dead and hundreds more injured, including a young Australian woman, who is recovering in hospital.

It's believed one of the attackers may have travelled to Europe on a Syrian passport recently.

Ms Hanson's remarks echo those of former PM Tony Abbott, who warned of the risk that terrorists could be hiding among the tens of thousands of refugees pouring into Europe from the Middle East.

'Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist is a Muslim,' she continued.

'People don't want another 12,000 refugees in Australia. People of Australia don't want more Muslim refugees in Australia who may be ISIS plants.'

Following her television appearance, many have taken to Twitter to voice their opinions over the Queensland Senate candidate.

Gabriella wrote: 'We need to stop giving Pauline Hanson a medium to spew her racist and hateful views. Bring all the refugees.'

Zozo posted: 'I became an Australian citizen to have a better life and to be free of politicians like you. Pauline Hanson does not speak for me.'

Fadi Antoun said: 'All these refugees want, is a safe country to protect their families.. Where's the compassion. Put yourself in their shoes Pauline Hanson.'

Meanwhile, some have defended Ms Hanson's stance.

Orietta Toro posted on Facebook: 'I'd never thought I would ever agree with Pauline Hanson but this time she has a valid point especially after the Paris attacks.

'Australia needs to be safe and we need to look at the safety of our children in the future the world isn't the same anymore and Australia does not need to have the same incident happen as Paris!'

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is in Turkey to attend the G20 summit, played down the threat.  'While there have been some exceptions, the history of terrorist activities in Australia and people of concern in this area is very much for the most part second- and third-generation Australians,' he said.  'So the screening of refugees of the humanitarian intake has been very careful.'

Greek authorities have confirmed that at least one of the men involved in the attacks - a Syrian passport holder - had registered as a refugee earlier this year.


NSW cops think they are a law unto themselves

Police 'illegally' hacked Facebook page of a man who posted an image of American pop star Miley Cyrus twerking over an officer

Police allegedly hacked a private Facebook account of a man who posted what appeared to be a digitally altered photograph of American pop star Miley Cyrus twerking in front of an officer.

Rhys Liam Halvey was charged with three counts of using a carriage service to offend police and three counts of publishing an indecent article, the Sun-Herald reported.

For four months, NSW Police Senior Constable Daniel Moss allegedly monitored the closed Facebook page by using another username between November 2013 to March 2014.

An account under 'Rhys Brown' was said to have posted several offensive posts, including an image saying: 'Here's my $25,000 for your $101 fine' and photos of officers, taken on a Sydney street.

However, Mr Halvey denied any involvement with being Rhys Brown and uploading the 'derogatory' posts on social media.

All six charges have been withdrawn and dismissed after Sydney magistrate Roger Brown slammed the measures carried out as a 'criminal offence' for committing an 'unauthorised access'.

During a hearing in April this year, Magistrate Brown said to Constable Moss: 'You use the term "monitored" the Facebook account of Rhys Brown ... you went into that account frequently?'

'Yes, I did,' the officer responded.

Magistrate Brown questioned: 'So, you didn't obtain a Supreme Court warrant ... you didn't obtain any judicial authorisation to invade the privacy of Rhys Brown's Facebook, did you?'

Constable Moss replied: 'No.'

In September this year, the case was withdrawn and dismissed with $14,429 in costs ordered against the police.


17 November, 2015

‘Racism’ and ‘Islamophobia’ cause Muslims to blow up stuff and kill people

Utterly disgusting response to the Paris terrorist attacks from the ‘Grand’ Mufti of Australia, who lays the blame for those vicious and barbaric atrocities at the feet of everyone except the Muslim community and Islamic ideology:

    "These recent incidents highlight the fact that current strategies to deal with the threat of terrorism are not working. It is therefore imperative that all causative factors such as racism, Islamophobia, curtailing freedoms through securitisation [completely the wrong word, by the way – Ed], duplicitous foreign policies and military intervention must be comprehensively addressed."

The Mufti is too dense to realise that any ‘Islamophobia’ that exists (and it rarely does exist) arises directly from incessant daily litany of Islamic terrorist acts, which have been going on pretty much since the 7th Century.

But from the Mufti’s clouded and blinkered perspective, Islam is perfect, so it cannot possibly be at fault. Anything bad that happens cannot be the result of any wrongdoing by Muslims, and therefore he looks everywhere else to find a cause – except in a mirror.

The rest of us civilised people are thoroughly sick of Islam and the perpetual whining and bleating from this highly over-privileged and under-achieving group, and this kind of patronising, pompous and sanctimonious lecturing just makes it ten times worse.

The West’s phobia of a barbaric, supremacist, medieval political ideology that wants to see us dead is a natural response and is entirely justified.

Oh, and if you’re waiting for those protests from ‘moderate’ Muslims condemning the attacks…..


It’s now time to grow up, Australia

Piers Akerman

NEW Social Services Minister Christian Porter has called for a “grown-up” discussion on reforming the overstretched welfare sector. He’s a former West Australian treasurer but anyone who has ever balanced a household budget knows that, as a nation, we can’t keep welfare funding levels at their present level without sending the nation deeper into the red.

As Porter told The Daily Telegraph’s Daniel Meers: “Many of our payments are growing at a rate greater than the ability of the tax base to sustain them.

“We want a system that is fair and sustainable. “It would be inherently unfair to stretch the safety net to breaking point.”

The welfare spending trajectory is truly frightening but Labor and the Greens refuse to recognise this.

Away in la-la land, the two left wing parties are firmly bogged in forms of Neanderthal socialism that rightfully belong in the museum of failed philosophies.

Yet they are both championed by the monolithic ­taxpayer-funded state broadcaster, the ABC, and the terminally challenged anti-capitalist publisher Fairfax, and, according to the surveys, are the parties of choice for young Australians.

Forget turkeys voting for Thanksgiving — or Christmas. Young Australians attracted to the left wing parties are voting for a tax burden that will handicap them for the rest of their lives.

Unless the government is able to achieve meaningful reforms to welfare spending now, Australians who are now in their 20s will be saddled with unsustainable debts which are inevitably going to make their 40s and 50s ­unbearable.

This is part of the reason Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s call for the voting age to be lowered to 16 is so hopelessly irresponsible and must be called for the sheer populism that it is.

Porter wants an adult conversation, while Shorten wants the national conversation to be conducted in the kindy playground.

That’s why Labor and the Greens are currently blocking the Coalition’s attempt to prevent school leavers from going straight on to the dole when they walk out of the school gates.

Where the Coalition believes that school leavers should wait a month — and hopefully find some sort of a job — casual, part-time, whatever — and set a pattern for their adult life before accessing the dole, Labor and the Greens would like to see them locked onto the welfare tit as soon as possible so they will be reliant on government handouts for the remainder of their lives.

With eight out of 10 Australians currently paying taxes solely to meet the growing welfare bill, it is easy for clear-eyed people to see exactly why encouraging even greater numbers to fall into the welfare trap is catastrophically insane.

With the Disability Support Pension payments and Newstart Allowances set to blow out astronomically, these areas must be the first to be reviewed and reformed.

More than 70 per cent of dole recipients have been on the Newstart Allowance, which has a maximum single recipient’s payment of $523.40 a fortnight, for more than a year, while more than 800,000 people are on the disability support pension, which has a maximum basic rate of $788.40 a fortnight for a single recipient.

Porter says the national welfare bill was just $83 billion a decade ago. It currently stands at $154 billion and modelling shows that it is set to increase by more than $120 billion over the next decade to $277 billion a year.

By 2026, welfare spending in today’s dollars will be $81 billion more than current tax revenue.

More money is coming out of the welfare bucket than the nation can afford to put in if it is still to underwrite the massive cost of new infrastructure needed to meet the demands of future generations. These are the hard facts. The facts that Shorten and the Greens don’t want to address.

When Shorten addressed NSW Young Labor in October, he told members of the next generation that they deserved “the right to shape the laws and policies that shape your lives”.

The issues he included and chose to emphasise were “marriage equality, real action on climate change, the equal treatment of women, youth wages, a better university system, international development and animal welfare”.

Homosexual marriage is a non-issue beyond the inner-urban areas of the nation’s ­cities where the chattering classes dominate the media.

When Shorten mentions climate change, he’s referring to the unreliable theory that global temperatures have been affected by mankind.

None of the modelling produced to support this claim has accurately predicted the global climate over the past 30 years.

The women’s rights campaign is such a First World issue that the shrill activists can rightly be condemned for ignoring the unfashionable reality of the total discrimination against women in almost all Muslim societies. The sisterhood is essentially white, over-educated and middle-class.

A better university system would see the removal of the left wing propagandists from the education system.

Youth wages are held back by the socialists, as is international development (unless its funded by taxpaying capitalists), and animal welfare is largely a photo opportunity for activists.

Experienced grown-ups know that good policy may be tough but populist feel-good policy is generally no solution.

If young Australians want to enjoy a nation that looks anything like today’s when they grow older, they will have to start growing up now.


ABC to get new boss as Mark Scott retires

Good riddance to bad rubbish

Mark Scott's successor as ABC managing director could receive a significant pay rise, taking home a salary of around $1 million a year.

The race for Mr Scott's replacement is heating up, with the ABC board preparing to begin interviews with short-listed candidates in the next fortnight.

Former News Corp Australia chief executive Kim Williams and SBS managing director Michael Ebeid are understood to be among those who will be invited to interview for the position.

Fairfax Media can reveal the ABC has applied to the Remuneration Tribunal – the independent body that sets pay rates for politicians and top public servants – for a salary increase for the next managing director.

Consultancy work commissioned by the ABC found Mr Scott's current salary is 30 to 40 per cent below market standards, and should be lifted to attract talented recruits from the private sector.

Mr Scott was paid a total salary of $823,613 in 2013-14. A 40 per cent pay increase would lift his successor's total salary to around $1.2 million.

A decision is expected on the application next month.

Outgoing Nine Entertainment boss David Gyngell, who earned $19.6 million last year, has been known to joke that his "tea ladies" earn more than Mr Scott.

An ABC spokesman said the decision was a matter for the Remuneration Tribunal and that the broadcaster usually applies for a salary increase when a new managing director is being appointed.

The ABC hopes to have a successor finalised by the end of the year. Mr Scott plans to step down in July after 10 years in the role.


Climate change will 'SHRINK sharks and make them less deadly'

This might be good news if it were true.  But this is just a study of fish in a tank.  Not a report of what is naturally happening in the oceans

If temperatures and CO2 levels rise in the way climate experts expect, by the end of the century sharks will be considerably smaller and less aggressive than they are today.

Experts from Australia have discovered that warmer waters and ocean acidification can stunt the growth of the predators and affect their sense of smell used for hunting.

To cope with higher CO2 levels, the sharks studied had to use more energy, and this reduced how effectively they metabolised the food they could find.

During lab experiments, researchers from the University of Adelaide studied Port Jackson sharks in large tanks with natural habitat and prey.

When the water temperature was increased, the team noticed that embryos developed much faster.

However, the combination of warmer water and higher CO2 increased the sharks' energy requirement, reduced metabolic efficiency and removed their ability to locate food through olfaction, or smelling.

These effects led to significant reductions in the growth rates of these sharks.

'In warmer water, sharks are hungrier but with increased CO2 they won't be able to find their food,' said leader Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken.

'With a reduced ability to hunt, sharks will no longer be able to exert the same top-down control over the marine food

The Port Jackson shark is a bottom-feeding shark that primarily relies on its ability to smell to find food.

It is found around southern Australia and is a migratory species that travels south in the summer and returns to the north during winter to breed.

Adults can grow up to 5.5ft long (1.67 metres) and the shark is part of the bullhead family.   

Under higher CO2, the sharks in the study took much longer to find their food, or didn't even bother trying, resulting in considerably smaller sharks.

Marine ecologist Professor Sean Connell said the results of the latest study provide strong support for the call to prevent global overfishing of sharks.

'One-third of shark and ray species are already threatened worldwide because of overfishing,' he said.

'Climate change and ocean acidification are going to add another layer of stress and accelerate those extinction rates.'


16 November, 2015

She likes him

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin

Forgive my sense of humor breaking out amid the present dark hour but if we let ISIS stop us laughing they will have won

Mr Turnbull is in Germany at the moment and making a good impression.  He represents Australia well.  And if he has won the heart of Frau Merkel so much the better.

I reproduce part of his speech below.  An interesting comment in it is his mention of the Devil.  I doubt that he represents many Australians by believing in the Devil.  But I believe in the Devil too.  There are many conceptions of the Devil -- a man in a red suit with horns and a tail; a fallen spirit being or the evil and destructive side of human nature.  I hew to the latter.  And that means that the the Devil is REAL and a great threat

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned brutal terrorist attacks in Paris, France, as an attack on worldwide freedom.

Speaking from Berlin on Saturday, where he has been visiting Germany to discuss economic and diplomatic issues, he echoed US President Barack Obama in calling the devastating assaults an attack 'on all humanity'.

Mr Turnbull said he had spoken with Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) who did not believe an increase in Australian's terror threat alert level was justified at this stage.

Australia's sympathies, thoughts and prayers were extended to the people of France after the attacks, which occurred on Friday night in France, killing many and injuring more.

The people of Australia stood with them in solidarity through the tragedy, he said.

'Protecting Australians, protecting freedom is a global battle. It is a global struggle for freedom against those who seek to oppress it and seek to assert some form of religious tyranny. A threat in the name of God, but is truthfully the work of the devil.' 


Australia and Germany sign new tax treaty

 Australia and Germany have signed a new treaty on tax in the first step towards growing trade and investment between the nations and improving the integrity of the tax system by clamping down on multinational tax evasion.

The deal was signed in Berlin by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble and replaces a double taxation agreement that has existed between the countries since 1972.

The deal preceded the arrival in Berlin of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday.

Mr Turnbull and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will release the recommendations of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group in Berlin on Friday night, Australian time. The group was established a year ago when Dr Merkel visited Australia for the Group of 20 leaders' summit.

The recommendations include suggestions to improve economic and cultural ties between the world's fourth and 12th largest economies.

Investment, trade, the arts, security, people links, and science and innovation are all canvassed as areas for greater collaboration.

Senator Cormann said the new double taxation agreement will facilitate this by reducing the rates of withholding tax "helping to create a more favourable bilateral investment environment and making it cheaper for Australian businesses to access foreign capital and technology".

There will also be new arbitration rules and other changes to prevent double taxation that can deter business investment.
Progress on BEPS

Significantly, the new treaty puts into effect recommendations from the G20 and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), an area in which Australia has taken the lead in moving with its own proposals but which will not be effective until there is widespread global action.

Progress on the implementation of BEPS laws will be discussed at the G20 in Turkey which Mr Turnbull and Senator Cormann will attend after leaving Berlin.

The new tax treaty will come into force as soon as the Parliaments of both countries have passed the requisite legislation.

Senator Cormann said he would legislate "as soon as practicable".

The German deal, which mirrors to some extent a recent agreement between Australia and Switzerland to share tax information, is part of a growing link between Canberra and Berlin.

According to official figures, there are over 300 partnerships and co-operations between Australian and German universities, with Germany ranked as Australia's third most important research partner.

Germany is also the second-largest source country in Europe for students after the UK. Two-way trade in goods amounted to $13 billion in 2012-13, with services at $2.5 billion. German investment in Australia was $18.5 billion.


Paris attacks: Nationals MP Andrew Fraser calls for Australia to 'close borders'

A senior member of the NSW Coalition government has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to "close our borders" to refugees from the Middle East in response to the terrorism attacks in Paris.

As the drama unfolded over the coordinated attacks, which have left more than 129 dead, Nationals MP Andrew Fraser took to Facebook to issue his call.

"Message to Malcolm Turnbull: Australia does not need Middle Eastern refugees or Islamic boat people!" wrote Mr Fraser, who is the member for Coffs Harbour and assistant speaker of the NSW Parliament.

"Close our borders we have enough anarchists already resident in Australia (our democracy) we do not need any more coming in disguised as refugees!!!!!!"

The terrorism group Islamic State, or ISIS, has since taken responsibility for the attacks.

Asked on Sunday about his comments Mr Fraser said: "I've had a gutful, I've had enough."

"Isn't it about time we said, hang on, our number one duty is to protect Australians, not to give a haven to people who want to kill people in the name of Islam?" he asked.

"I have no problems with people coming in from the Middle East to Australia. But I don't think the filter is good enough. I'm sorry."

Mr Fraser acknowledged his comments would be controversial but said he was simply representing a widely held view in his and other communities.

"I think we have the main political parties who are trying to woo Muslim votes and are too scared to come out and say what I think many Muslims are also saying, because they don't want to lose votes," he said.

Mr Fraser has an adult daughter living in Versailles who regularly travels into Paris. He and his wife visited the Charlie Hebdo memorial in Paris during a private holiday to France in July.

The makeshift memorial at the Place de la Republique sprung up in honour of the 17 people killed in a terrorism attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January.  "It puts a lump in your throat," Mr Fraser said of the experience.

Mr Fraser's comments come as another senior government member, government whip in the Legislative Council, Liberal MLC Peter Phelps, responded to news that France had closed its borders in the wake of the attacks by tweeting: "Forty years too late".

Dr Phelps said his tweet was in response to Helen Dale - an adviser to NSW Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm - and part of a long running discussion the pair has had about immigration and welfare.

Dr Phelps said Ms Dale was a "border libertarian" but his argument is that "you can't have open borders and a welfare state."

"If you're going to have essentially a Francophile welfare state designed to be a safety net for the existing population - certainly that was the case in France in the 1960s and 70s - what you can't have is a situation where open borders allow creation of a permanent underclass," he said.

"There's been a simmering tension in the outer suburbs of France, the immigrant suburbs, for years."

"I'm not seeking to justify the terrorist actions but people need to understand that if there were economic opportunities or even forced assimilation I think you'd have better integration and less disaffection with the community," Dr Phelps said.

Premier Mike Baird and Nationals leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant have issued pleas for unity.


Chris Kenny: Now, let’s set a few things straight on climate change

AT the risk of getting lost in a maze of mirrors where columnists respond to columnists responding to columnists, let me talk about colleague Laine Anderson’s climate-change column last week.

She was responding to Andrew Bolt, who can look after himself, but personalising an issue as important as climate change is to miss the point.

This is not science versus Bolt, public opinion versus Bolt or facts versus Bolt. In fact, his contributions to the debate — whether you agree with him or not — are replete with facts and detailed arguments.

Whereas Anderson trotted out the sort of emotive nonsense that shows exactly what is wrong with the climate debate.

Apart from telling us she disagrees with Bolt’s climate scepticism and that she believes global warming is a problem, Anderson did little to address the facts.  And she finished off with a fact-free, emotional catch-all.

“The way I look at it is this: any action today means a cleaner world tomorrow,” she wrote.  “Man-made climate change or no, isn’t that the world you want for your kids and grandkids?”

Clean world versus dirty world. Good citizens versus bad.

These false binaries avoid all the details and complicated arguments, reducing debate to a morality play. Using these tactics, climate alarmists often seek to render some views worthy and try to silence others.

Such lazy thinking permeates too many debates but none more so than climate. So let’s expose some of the silliness.

To start with, characterising carbon dioxide as pollution is an Orwellian twist that overlooks the critical role this gas plays in our natural cycles.  Plants thrive on CO2, turning it into foliage and emitting oxygen; this is why planting trees abates CO2.

Whatever your views on global warming, to talk about carbon dioxide pollution is emotive and to suggest it’s about clean air is also misleading.

China’s terrible air pollution, for instance, is due to particulate pollution (which experts say actually helps reduce global warming) rather than CO2.

Air pollution is a real problem in some parts of the world and needs to be tackled but this is a separate argument to global warming.

Scientists have found that one of the reasons we saw global temperatures rise in the past two decades of last century was because western countries reduced sulphur dioxide pollution.

This is not an argument in favour of pollution but a demonstration of the complexities.  And it is nonsense to suggest people who take a contrarian view on global warming are comfortable with pollution.

Many argue we should be putting more resources into tackling more pressing or pragmatic pollution challenges such as water, air and land degradation, rather than obsessing on CO2.

No matter what any activists or scientists say about climate forecasts everyone is stuck with the same reality that there has been no discernible increase in global average temperature for 17 years.

Yes, temperatures have remained high. Yes they could rise again soon. Yes, other factors are at play. But we can’t ignore how all the modelling favoured by the IPCC and others, so far, has proven incorrect.

That is not my view. That is just the reality of empirical measurements versus theory.

Explaining this divergence has been the critical debate in climate science over the past four or five years (as the Climategate emails revealed).

Again, whether you are a climate alarmist or agnostic, these are just the realities of the debate.

Also, if you argue, like Anderson, that the threat is serious and requires action, you need to define that action.

Going to a candles-only Earth Hour dinner won’t cut it. No matter whether you favour the government’s Direct Action policy or Labor’s carbon price policy, you have to deal with the reality that reductions in Australia’s carbon emission can have little if any impact on the planet.

Our emissions make up 1.3 per cent of the global total — a reduction of 5 per cent of 1.3 per cent is what a scientist might call diddly-squat.

And even if Australia delivers these cuts the current growth of emissions in China alone would more than make up for them within a few months.

No matter what Australia does — even if we were to shut down our nation — global emissions will rise over the next decade. So those arguing for action have to explain what and why.

Are we spending money and adding to our costs just to make climate activists feel good?

If we really believe this is serious, shouldn’t we spend the money on adapting to the warming climate?

Should we also plan to take advantage of the benefits of a warmer climate in some places?

Or if we think the global economy really can change the planet’s climate patterns, shouldn’t we at least wait until China, India and America join an international trading scheme (if it ever happens)?

Instead of these discussions, we tend to read and hear about catastrophic scenarios — oceans rising six metres and the like — and if you reject the alarmism you are anti-science.

How, decidedly unscientific.


15 November, 2015

The unaccountable destroyer of lives we call ICAC

A watchdog with Rabies

Miranda Devine

ON the morning of May 2, 2014, Mike Gallacher, a cop who had risen to become police minister, was on stage addressing graduates of the Police academy at Goulburn.

“The community will always back the police to do the right thing,” Gallacher was saying, when his press secretary Clint McGilvray started fielding frantic text messages.

Geoffrey Watson, SC, counsel assisting ICAC, had just dropped the bombshell corruption allegation that would destroy Gallacher’s career.

Watson alleged in a question to a developer that Gallacher, 54, was the mastermind of a “corrupt scheme to make donations to the Liberal Party”.

Within hours Premier Mike Baird had demanded his resignation.

Gallacher is a man who prides himself on integrity, a former undercover cop in Internal Affairs, a working class battler who dragged himself up by his bootstraps from Mt Druitt High, and public housing in at Lethbridge Park. Now he had been accused of the one thing he had spent his life fighting.

“That C word for me is death”, he says.  “I am an ex undercover cop against corrupt police and the utterance of the word corrupt was the most devastating thing given my history in the police force.”

And so began the surreal nightmare that is now so familiar to anyone caught up with the unaccountable star chamber we call ICAC.

For 18 months Gallacher has been in limbo on the cross bench of state parliament, his salary halved, his family shell-shocked, his Liberal colleagues wary of the association.

Yet to this date ICAC has never produced any evidence to prove its incendiary claim that he is corrupt. Despite repeated attempts by Gallacher’s lawyer Arthur Moses for Watson to substantiate his allegations all the ICAC counsel has said is “we have plenty of stuff and we have sworn testimony from a reliable person.”

Gallacher appeared in the ICAC witness box for two days and Watson never produced any “stuff” linking him to a Liberal slush fund into which illegal donations from developers had been channelled.

The worst of ICAC’s allegations against Gallacher involve the presence of two property developers at a fundraising dinner at Doyle’s Circular Quay on New Year’s Eve in 2010. There were about 20 guests at the $1000 a head dinner, which made a profit of $5000, but property developers had been banned from donating money to political parties since the previous year.

Gallacher denies he has done anything underhand and is waiting for ICAC to provide the evidence against him so he can clear his name.

He can’t understand why it won’t publish its findings on Operation Spicer, the political donations inquiry. How complicated can it be? Magistrates decide more complex cases every day.

The personal toll of the long wait has been devastating. “It has affected me very deeply because of the sheer nature of the shame, and the public humiliation.  “I would see police walking down the street and cross the road and walk on the other side because I felt I’d brought shame on the police by being named”.

Adding to his burden was his wife’s ill health. Judy was scheduled to have a nine hour operation for breast cancer on the first day Gallacher had to testify at ICAC.

His mother in law had a heart attack two weeks after Watson’s allegations. His mother collapsed at bridge and was hospitalised with high blood pressure and renal failure.

Staffers who worked for Gallacher have struggled to find jobs, even interstate, because the taint of ICAC is lethal to careers

Being named at ICAC is not a theoretical exercise. It has real and dramatic consequences, particularly for people who value their reputations.

In the last two years, ICAC has brought down a premier, a commissioner of the SES and 10 government MPs (all but Gallacher have left parliament), all without proving its allegations of corruption, or managing to muster a single prosecution.

It sidelined for more than a year Arthur Sinodinos, who had been Tony’ Abbott’s federal assistant treasurer, so that his expertise was denied to the government’s crucial first budget.

In other words ICAC has interfered with the running of democratically elected NSW and federal governments. And for what benefit?

Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, SC, as dedicated and effective a public servant as you would ever find, was targeted by ICAC over a private matter of a car accident involving her son’s girlfriend.

She and her family were dragged through the wringer until she cleared their names through expensive litigation that ended up in the High Court.

Cunneen, too, was forced to stand aside from a murder trial and twiddle her thumbs at home after ICAC cast a pall over her reputation.

Every public official or politician who has been named by ICAC has had to resign or stand aside.

And yet when ICAC itself comes under fire, it is not bound by the same code of conduct.

When ICAC is humiliated in the High Court for having overreached in the Cunneen matter, or when ICAC inspector David Levine, QC, has to launch two inquiries into its conduct, and makes scathing findings about its “arrogance” and “hauter”, no gesture is made to safeguard the reputation of the institution.

Unlike ICAC’s victims, Commissioner Megan Latham has not offered to stand aside from her $689,856 a year job pending the outcome of David Levine’s inquiries.

For ICAC it is business as usual.


Coalition attack on union `rorts' if Labor targets commission

The Turnbull government will make a staunch defence against any Labor attack on the trade union royal commission in parliament this week, seizing on corruption allegations against the Australian Workers Union.

At least five former AWU offic-ials have been criticised in the submissions, including alleg-ations of possible criminal behaviour by Bill Shorten's former deputy at the union, Cesar Melhem-, who faces a prison sentence if ultimately charged and convicted of falsifying invoices.

The union may also be liable for civil penalties and breaking criminal laws over deals struck when Mr Shorten was Victorian and national secretary and after his successor Paul Howes took over in 2007.

The two-year inquiry into trade union governance and corruption came under heavy fire after counsel assisting the commission published legal arguments against the AWU shortly after 8pm on Friday. There was no submission that Mr Shorten engaged in any criminal or unlawful conduct.

The opposition's employment spokes-man, Brendan O'Connor, accused the commission of "working in concert with executive government" and releasing submissions on the AWU in "the dead of night".

The government yesterday warned Labor against adopting "conspiracies against the commission" rather than acting on union corruption, which remains the focus of the inquiry.

"The royal commission has uncovered disturbing evidence of systematic rorting and corruption in a range of unions, including Mr Shorten's own union, the AWU," said a spokesman for Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.

"Instead of taking action to clean up rorts and corruption the ALP continues to engage in half-baked smears and conspiracies against the commission."

Companies including the Thiess- John Holland construct-ion joint venture to build the $2.5 billion East Link toll road in Melbourne, glassmaker ACI, Chiquita- Mushrooms (now part of the Costa group) and construction firm Winslow also face possible allegations of corruption over hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the AWU.

The submissions by counsel raise the possibility Mr Melhem committed an indictable offence, which carries a penalty of imprisonment for up to 10 years, by allegedl-y falsifying invoices to engineeri-ng firm Downer EDI in 2012. Mr Melhem and Downer EDI employee Tony Sirsen may have engaged in the offence under the Victorian Crimes Act of false accounting, over a $25,000 invoice to the company from the union, the submissions state.

"The evidence does establish that Mr Melhem's concurrence in the falsification of the invoice was done dishonestly," they state. "He must have known that the falsification would facilitate the payment by Downer of the money."

Mr Howes, who left the union last year, testified to the commission that he could not remember a memorandum of understanding bearing his signature in 2010 that left Cleanevent cleaners with below-award wages. He said in a written statement tendered at the commission last month that it was not his "role to personally analyse" the "adequacy" of the deal.

On Friday, counsel queried whether that was an "appropriate approach" and submitted that it "appears to be an abrogation of the responsibility that a national secretary should assume".

"Cleanevent got precisely what it was looking for from the AWU when the MOU was executed: an agreement that avoided the employ-er's responsibility to pay its employees, at minimum, at the relevant award," the submissions state. "Paul Howes should take respon-sibility for . failures in proper process."

John-Paul Blandthorn, a former organiser in the Victorian branch, now an adviser to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, was cited for a possible "breach of fiduciary duties" to members, but the submissions note for "fairness" that "Mr Blandthorn was a relatively junior organiser, who reported to the state secretary, Mr Melhem".

The submissions also allege that former AWU assistant secretary Frank Leo made a corrupt payment when he accepted $24,000 for the union from Chiquita Mushrooms, ahead of a 2004 workplace deal that counsel submitted left workers worse off.

Former Chiquita Mushrooms worker Donna Hodgson said yesterday she felt vindicated by the submission that the company and union colluded behind workers' backs, saying it "confirmed her suspicions".

"It's disgusting ... you pay your union dues and then they take your job away from you," Ms Hodgson said.

Ms Hodgson, who worked at Chiquita for 11 years, sued the company for unfair dismissal after she was sacked as a result of the 2004 EBA, which replaced permanent workers and independent contractors with "union-friendly" labour hire.

No corruption is alleged to have occurred at the AWU under the current national leadership of secretary Scott McDine or in the Victorian branch since Ben Davis took over as leader.


Senator Cory Bernardi draws our attention to a most peculiar man

A Muslim, funnily enough.  Below is a speech in the Senate from 11 November 2015

I rise today to raise a matter involving a man claiming to be an international business leader but who has demonstrated through his words and actions that he is a person who clearly has limited—if any—association with the truth. I am talking about a gentleman by the name of Mr Mohamed El-Mouelhy, who is head of the Halal Certification Authority.

My attention was first drawn to Mr El-Mouelhy's intentions by his Facebook page in which he made the following comment about me: 'Mr Cory Bernardi is a well-known bigot and Muslim hater. A couple of years ago when halal certification became an issue for the bigots, Bernardi sent me an unsolicited, offensive and racist email. I did not dignify him with a response then, and I am not about to dignify him now.'

Having never heard of this man before, and establishing I had never had any previous contact with him, I was perplexed as to his claim. Upon further review of his distasteful, bigoted and racist social media rantings, I actually thought this was a grubby parody account. Imagine my shock when I discovered that Mr El-Mouelhy was actually a real person claiming to be a respected businessman. I contacted him through his business email asking for evidence of his defamatory claim that I had sent him an unsolicited, offensive and racist email. He responded by not providing any evidence at all and refusing to engage in any further conversation.

Accordingly, I am completely at peace in referring to Mr El-Mouelhy's claims about me as completely false, and I can only consider him to be a liar. This prompted me to conduct a further review of Mr El-Mouelhy's public statements. Clearly, he is no stranger to the limelight. With an increasing interest in halal certification, and as the head of the Halal Certification Authority, he has taken every opportunity to have his views heard. He pops up in TV interviews, on radio and in print. He is constantly offering opinions that halal certification has made him a multimillionaire. In fact, you could probably think that he is the quasi-face of halal certification in Australia. Yet, when given his opportunity to appear before a Senate committee about this precise topic, he refused to appear. I am guessing that the requirement to tell the truth in giving evidence before a Senate committee was enough to scare him off.

But that does not stop him from abusing the Senate inquiry. On Facebook he called the inquiry an 'exercise in bigotry' and a 'sham'. He labelled as bigots all those who called for the inquiry and all the senators who voted for it. He insulted almost every submission to the enquiry and he claimed, quite incorrectly, that the inquiry wants to destroy the halal certification industry. Amid proclamations that the government had 'shut down' the inquiry—again, another lie—he boasted further about the money he makes and mentioned alleged corruption within halal certification in Indonesia.

A large part of me wonders whether we should take anything he says seriously. In addition to defaming me on the internet, Mr El-Mouelhy is happy to abuse many others. He insults the whole of New South Wales as a 'bigots dreamland'. He describes Queensland as a 'bigots hinterland' and the ACT as 'foil hat territory'. I will not list them all now, but he said the same about virtually every state and territory in Australia. On Facebook, he doles out opinions and insults in equal measure. I will characterise just a few of these sorts of abuses today. Next to photos of pork rectums for sale, he writes: 'Favourite food for bigots. They are what they eat!' He accuses the Reverend Fred Nile of watching pornography on his computer and reading 'free porn mags'. In a comment to someone who posted on his page he wrote: 'You are a jealous bogan … die in your rage, bigot'. In another comment about someone on his page he said: 'This guy must have been to a Catholic school; he is besotted with paedophilia.' When asked about animal suffering, he said: 'I don't mind seeing you suffer.' He labels those who do not agree with him as 'bogans, bigots, religiously intolerant, rednecks and hicks'. His comments about a photo of short-cut bacon, where the word 'cut' has been misspelled through the addition of an additional consonant is simply repulsive, and it would be unparliamentary for me to repeat it here.

Such comments do not reflect well on any Australian businessman, especially someone who claims to be as successful and prominent as Mr El-Mouelhy. I have lost count of the number of times he has labelled me an Islamophobe, a bigot or a Muslim hater. Frankly, I put no stock in his insults against me. It is not the first time someone has called me names—and, coming from someone like him, I wear it as a badge of honour.

But the telling thing about all these online rantings and arrogant insults is what they tell us about the character of Mohamed El-Mouelhy. He is willing to spend a significant amount of time abusing people on social media and peddling lies in the public domain. And, by his own admission, he has been involved in corrupt dealings—bribery, to be specific—to attempt to gain access to the Indonesian halal food market. On ABC's Four Corners he was asked whether the $28,000 he spent on a visit to Australia by Indonesian halal officials was, in his mind, a bribe. This is what he said:

"In my mind … as an after fact, yes, it is a bribe."

Why would anyone want to do business with a corrupt businessman? But, according to Mr El-Mouelhy himself, business is booming. He arrogantly talks about how much money he makes from the halal certification industry. On Today Tonight he said it had made him a millionaire. On Four Corners he said that everything he touches turns to gold. His business website claims that it has an '80 per cent market share of halal certification in Australia'—something which I have seen no evidence of, but that is what he claims.

Yet beneath these dodgy boasts there are many questions to be answered. He portrays himself and his business as an Islamic body or authority. The name alone—Halal Certification Authority—implies that it is some sort of peak community representative organisation. It even has a '.org' domain name instead of the usual '.com'. But is it really an Islamic body or authority? Is it really a not-for-profit organisation as suggested by the domain name? As far as I can tell it is neither. It is simply a private business formed to make money for Mr El-Mouelhy through any means possible.

Descriptions of his company, on various websites, claim the Halal Certification Authority 'is the most authoritative national Islamic body on the application of Islamic dietary laws' and it is an 'Islamic body appointed by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, AQIS, according to federal legislation'. Mr El-Mouelhy is not an imam or Islamic religious leader, so I do not know on what basis he makes the claim of being a credible authority. And AQIS does not appoint Islamic certifiers. The certifiers apply to AQIS to gain approval to certify certain products for export. Further, El-Mouelhy boasts on Facebook that `Sharia rules' and is associated with another organisation that includes a special religious or sharia subcommittee.

Despite these statements and associations, El-Mouelhy also denies the existence of sharia or Islamic law. On 11 Feb 2015, during an interview on SBS, El-Mouelhy stated—in relation to a court case—'The defendants have said I am actually working to install sharia law—whatever that is—in Australia.' On 18 March 2015, during an interview on the ABC's The Drum program, El-Mouelhy claimed: 'There is no such thing in Islam called sharia law, by the way.' They are just more contradictions by a man unwilling to be confined by the truth.

Alarmingly, El-Mouelhy also boasts about contributing to the global Islamic charity Human Appeal International, HAI, an organisation that has been banned in Israeli, since 2008, because it channels funds to Hamas and has links to Hezbollah. Mr El-Mouelhy claims he knows of no links from HAI to Hamas, but a quick internet search reveals the HAI logo in use at Hamas ceremonies. Hamas, I remind the Senate, has been listed by the United Nations as a terror group since 2001. In 1996 a CIA report said HAI was used as a conduit to fund terrorism. HAI also sponsored two visits to Australia by a bloke named Tareq Al-Suwaidan, a man banned from the US and Belgium for his violent anti-Semitism. And this is the charity that Mr El-Mouelhy chooses to support.

In short, based on his words and actions, I consider Mr El-Mouelhy to be an untrustworthy person. In fact, he does a great disservice to the Muslim community and the halal certification industry. During evidence to the committee on halal certification, one witness described the shonks and con men operating within the industry and endorsed calls for reform. In my opinion, Mr El-Mouelhy is the embodiment of such a description. I know he has made false statements about me and I know he has made admissions to being involved in corrupt practices.

On that evidence alone, El-Mouelhy must be considered one of the halal industry shonks and con men that no reputable organisation should have anything to do with.


Labor veteran David Hanna could face charges

One of Queensland’s veteran Labor powerbrokers could face charges after yesterday being accused of corruption over the $150,000 fitout of his luxury Brisbane home in a deal with managers of a construction giant to keep industrial peace on a building site.

In a submission to the royal commission into trade unions, the counsel assisting, Sarah McNaugh­ton, said David Hanna, the then boss of the now-defunct Queensland arm of the Builders Labourers Federation, may have received secret commissions through work carried out by subcontractors for construction giant Mirvac in 2013.

Ms McNaughton said former Mirvac state director Adam Moore and Mathew McAllum, a longtime contractor of the company, may also have committed secret commission offences in ­organising the work, which was mostly billed to Mirvac through false invoices on a commercial building project.

The allegations were first aired in September at hearings of the royal commission, which was told Mr Hanna, a former vice-president of the ALP in Queensland, had approached Mr Moore to do the work on his home.

At the time, building sites had been rife with strikes and industrial action by the CFMEU, with which the BLF merged in 2014.

Ms McNaughton said there was insufficient evidence to suggest that Mirvac itself was involved in the alleged corruption.

In the submission, she alleged that Mr Hanna and Mr Moore had agreed in early 2013 for the works to be done.

“David Hanna knew that the gift of free goods and services placed him in a position of temptation, and that Mathew McAllum was not simply acting out of the goodness of his heart, but was instead, and at the direction of Adam Moore, ‘greasing the wheels’ of the relationship between Mirvac and the BLF in the hope or expectation that it would run smoothly as a result of the giving of the free goods and services,’’ the submission said.

During the hearings, Mr Hanna quit the party after state ALP secretary Evan Moorhouse issued a show-cause notice on his continuing membership. Mr Hanna also resigned earlier this year as national president of the construction division of the CFMEU.

In a statement, Mr Hanna said he would “strenuously defend my innocence’’ and the allegations had not been properly tested.

In another development yesterday, the royal commission dropped its investigation into allegations against CFMEU Victorian secretary John Setka made by a builder, Andrew Zaf.

Mr Zaf claimed he gave free building materials to Mr Setka in exchange for industrial peace and was attacked after going public about the allegations. However, the royal commission heard evidence last month that Mr Zaf possibly had attacked himself.

Construction union secretary Dave Noonan said: “These alle­gations have been thrown around for two years or more and treated as if they were true. John Setka always maintained he was innocent of any wrongdoing in this matter.”


Immigrant invasion of farm in Brisbane area investigated by border protection

The aggression suggests Muslims

Immigration authorities are investigating the invasion of about 600 illegal workers at a Lockyer Valley farm.

A Department of Immigration and Border Protection spokesman confirmed the incident is being investigated after bus loads of migrant workers arrived at Steep Gully Produce on Tuesday morning, looking for work.

When they were informed there were positions available for just 100, the large group became aggressive and began throwing onions at other workers.

"The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is aware of an incident that occurred (on Tuesday) at a Lockyer Valley farming property, and is conducting investigations into the matter," a spokesman said.

"Queensland police responded to the incident and is also investigating the circumstances surrounding the matter."

The Tuesday morning incident is not the first time issues with illegal workers being found in the Lockyer Valley.

The spokesman said the department was "well aware of illegal work issues around the country, including in the Lockyer Valley region" and had taken steps to educate employers and "where appropriate, detain and remove illegal workers".

About 100 illegal workers have been located and detained in Queensland, a fraction of the more than 600 people detained across Australia.

"As recently as two weeks ago, officers visited several contractors in the area to conduct education sessions, and several investigations into illegal work are ongoing," he said.

The spokesman said employers had access to free online services to check visa details of non-citizens when considering them for employment.

"The Visa Entitlement Verification Online tool is on the department's website," he said.

"Employers can ask non-citizens to email their current visa conditions directly to the employer through the VEVO email service.

"Sanctions under the legislation include administrative warning, infringements, civil penalties and criminal offences.

"Regional employers and labour hire contractors that are found hiring illegal workers face substantial fines and civil penalties for allowing or referring people to undertake illegal work."


13 November, 2015

Islamic immigration—a very costly exercise for Australia

The threat of Muslim terrorism attacks increases while our leaders continue to throw money at Islam.

I wonder how many of us have stopped to count the cost of Islamic immigration into Australia, or even know where to find the information? I wonder how many of us realise just what that largesse from both governments is financing and what we are getting for our money?

The associated cost of Muslim immigration into Australia is absolutely staggering and can be expressed in tens of billions of dollars that are thrown at this growing problem we don’t need or want to have.

Disappointingly, our Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, who seems blind to the problems faced in Europe and the UK, now talks about increasing the intake of Islamic refugees while the government continues to finance the unacceptable security risk it poses for the Australian community, now and the future.

NSW Premier, Mike Baird, who is a regular at the Lakemba Mosque and fasts with the Muslims, has decided that the way to fix the problem of radicalisation of Muslim youths is to scour the schools trying to ferret out those that show signs of radicalisation and send them off to de-radicalisation counselling.

He is so convinced that Muslim parents are prepared to dob-in their kids that he is going to throw a lazy $40 million at this hair-brained scheme. That is in addition to the many millions of dollars already wasted on failed de-radicalisation schemes and the $4 million demanded by the Parramatta mosque to clean up their own mess after the Curtis Cheng terrorist murder.

Almost $67 million have been handed over to various Islamic organisations. As an example, in 2013 the Malek Fahd Islamic School was gifted approximately $17.5 million. Now Government leaders, both state and federal, of which the NSW Premier is one, tell us that they need to raise the GST and apply it to everything to finance education and health. Isn’t it marvellous that while governments, state and federal, are having difficulty financing health and education, Premier Baird can still manage to rake up $44 million to finance a Baird/ASIO extravaganza?

The common thread with a number of little known Islamic organisations is that they not only shared in $1.62 million of your money for God only knows what real purpose, but they blamed Australia and Australians for the disruption and security risk caused by the 7th century ideology that they brought with them to this country.

Approximately $2.6 million has been provided to the Lebanese Muslim Association. That is in addition to a grant of $66,000 from the Australian Federal Police. The funding was used to run mosque open days that were supposed to teach the non-Islamic community about the ’Religion of Peace’ and thereby stop violence.

The Australian reported in March 2015 that more than $5 million had been wasted on such programs, including a $100,000 educational program run by the Lebanese Muslim Association that attracted a grand total of 12 people. That’s $8,333 per person for no result. Never mind, it’s only money—your money.

The extent of the ongoing drain on our welfare system is mind-numbing and almost incalculable. Reports say that after five years since their arrival in Australia up to 85% of immigrants are still unemployed and exist on welfare. The welfare bill is on target to cost the Australian taxpayers $190 billion per annum of which a large proportion is directed to Islamic immigrants who have access to up to 22 various welfare benefits.

There are only around 100 Muslims in our armed services but the ADF chiefs, in their collective wisdom, decided that there needed to be an Islamic Imam on the Religious Advisory Committee. This Imam is paid $717 per day plus travel allowances. To add insult to injury, it was this same Imam who called for Sharia law to be introduced in 2012 and defended the conduct of the terrorist sympathising group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

It doesn’t stop there with the ADF. Our Navy Chief decided that because the Navy is absolutely overrun with Muslims—good grief, there are perhaps 20 of them. Given such numbers there is an urgent need to appoint, in addition to the Imam, not one but two Islamic advisors. One of the advisors, Captain Mona Shindy, wasted no telling us that Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism and that we are the problem because we expect Muslims to act in accordance with our Western values, laws and culture.

Then there is the matter of the Navy Chief, Admiral Barrett, funding a dinner for Islamic leaders at the Australian War Memorial. He intends to make this offensive insult to our war dead and veterans an annual event. At your expense—of course. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the same consideration to be shown to Buddhists, Hindus or even Christians. It ain’t going to happen.

While Islamic leaders are happy to accept the millions of dollars thrown at them by our governments, the Australian National Imam’s Council opposed the proposed new anti-terror laws that prohibit the advocating of terrorism because it ‘impinged on the Islamic community’s religious freedom’.

Two other Islamic organisations claim that ‘right-wing extremism is a bigger problem than Islamic terrorism.’ Really? Can’t say I have heard of any right-wing extremists in Australia shooting a Muslim in the back of the head as he left work to go home to his family. Nor have I heard of right-wing extremists threatening to behead a Muslim during Anzac Day commemorations.

Add to the overall cost the operation of detention centres, air transport, court challenges by Muslims, formation and training of security personnel, Muslim criminals in maximum security jails, housing school security measures, etc. The total sum is frightening to contemplate. Shame!


Mother, midwife and sheikh guilty in Australia's first genital mutilation trial

About time

When the little girl appeared on the courtroom television screen, Justice Peter Johnson removed his horsehair wig.

The NSW Supreme Court judge asked the three barristers acting in Australia's first female genital mutilation trial to do the same, to make the nine-year-old witness, known as C2, feel at ease.

"I don't think it will have a magical effect, but I hope it will make us look a little more human," Justice Johnson told the jury.

It was a poignant act that symbolised the youth of C2 and her sister C1, the victims of the mutilation, and the extremely sensitive nature of the things they were to talk about, via video link from another room.

On Thursday, a jury found the girls' mother, who can only be known as A2, and a former midwife, guilty of mutilating the clitorises of the sisters during ceremonies in Wollongong and Sydney between October 2009 and August 2012.

A sheikh, Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, was found guilty of being an accessory after the fact. All three were members of the Dawoodi Bohra Shia Muslim community

The sisters, who were given pseudonyms by the court to protect their identities, were interviewed by a social worker at their school in August 2012, after police received reports of female genital mutilation within the religious sect.

C1 said that when she was about seven she went with her mother to a house in Wollongong, where the midwife laid her on a bed and carried out a procedure known as "khatna", which involved a "little cut down there".

When the social worker asked her why it happened, C1 replied: "It's a part of our culture and it has happened to every girl."

C2, the younger sister, told police similar details, saying she was hurt on "the bottom". C1, who is now 11, later gave evidence that she saw the midwife holding a tool that looked like scissors.

The defence argued the ceremony was "secret women's business", involving a symbolic touching of the girls' genitals with forceps, and there was no physical evidence of injury.

The midwife's barrister Stuart Bouveng asked C1 what kind of pain she experienced during the procedure. "It was short, it didn't last long. It was like a pinching or a cutting, I'm not sure," C1 said.

The jury heard hours of telephone intercepts, including a call A2 made to an aunt in which she said: "Honourable maternal aunt, we had [C1], [C2] circumcised hadn't we?"

There were also several calls in which the girls' parents spoke about whether they could tell police it happened in India or Africa.

Dr Sonia Grover, a paediatric gynaecologist, told the court it was possible the tips of the girls' clitorises had been removed, but there were other more likely medical explanations.

"If you were going to remove tissue, it would hurt and bleed," she said. "The information I was given was that the girls did not complain of pain or problems in the days after. So it means whatever was done was a minor procedure."

After the verdict, Crown Prosecutor Nanette Williams asked that bail be revoked for all three offenders, arguing that there was a risk they would flee the jurisdiction and that they now faced jail.

The police officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Sergeant Eugene Stek, told the court he was concerned that the offenders would be protected by their close-knit community and possibly assisted to leave the country now that they had been convicted.

Sergeant Stek said that, on the day Vaziri was arrested, he had been about to leave the country for India.

He also said he was worried that some or all of the offenders would encourage fellow members of their community to hide other instances of female genital mutilation if allowed back into the community.

But Justice Johnson refused the detention application, allowing the trio to remain on bail subject to strict conditions, including the surrendering of their passports and other travel documents.

They will return to court on February 5 for sentencing. 


More applicants failing Australia's citizenship test following increase of passing mark

A growing number of applicants are failing Australia's citizenship test in the wake of changes which increased the mark needed to pass.

The percentage of people failing the test has increased steadily since 2010-11, following the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's move to increase the passing mark from 60 per cent to 73 per cent in 2009.

It remains a relatively small number at less than 2,200 people, or 1.9 per cent, in the previous financial year, according to the Department's annual report.

A spokesperson for the Department told the ABC that applicants from approximately 80 different countries failed the citizenship test through 2014-15.

Birth countries that most commonly failed the citizenship test were:  Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Sudan, Vietnam

Concerns have also been raised for refugees attempting the citizenship test, citing lower success rates and insufficient English levels.

A report released by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) stated that the passing rate for refugee and humanitarian applicants was 6.3 per cent lower than the overall success rate.

RCOA interviewed 188 people of refugee background who were eligible for citizenship — people who had been in Australia for four years on a permanent humanitarian visa — and heard multiple applicants were never asked to resit the test after initially failing.

RCOA also said it had spoken with psychiatrists representing patients who had a significant mental incapacity and were not capable of successfully completing the test.

"While these people would generally be exempt from the test, RCOA has been informed that since late last year a number of these psychologist's reports have been rejected," they stated.

"As one psychologist has informed us: 'until September/October 2014, these applications were successful, the clinical report accepted and citizenship granted. "However, since that time, of 22 applications that I have supported, there have been 4 responses, all rejecting the applications. "For the other 18 people, who are all holders of 866 visas, there has been no decision made in any of their applications. "Some of these claims have been lodged some 11 to 12 months ago'."

The citizenship test has been in place since October 2007, with a review undertaken in 2008.



Three current articles below

Australia urged to choke off financing for new coal mines

Pressure is mounting on the Australian government to toe the line on fossil fuel subsidy reform, as reports emerge that support is mounting for a robust deal to phase out incentives for new coal plant development.

The deal, brokered between the US and Japan, would rein in export credit agency financing for coal, a leading source of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

The credit agency proposal – which has been years in the making – will be debated at a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in in Paris next week, which represents 34 mainly rich countries, including Australia.

But the OECD will also look at overall fossil fuel subsidies, which amount to more than $70 billion a year in the OECD alone. A new report due tomorrow will put Australia’s share of those subsidies at more than $US5 billion, although the Australian government denies that this exists.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that European Union negotiators at the talks were expected to push hard for the deal which, according to another source, could make the “vast majority” of about 1,000 planned coal plants ineligible for export credit agency backing.

But this may be easier said that done, with Australia named as one of the plan’s key opponents, after it joined forces with South Korea to produce an alternative plan that would not go as far as the US-Japan deal.

The Australia-South Korea effort has been slammed by environment campaigners in Australia and abroad, who say it could scuttle negotiations hosted by the OECD, and cast a shadow over Paris.

“Behind window-dressing rhetoric, they clearly want to sabotage the OECD deal,” said Sebastien Godinot, an economist at WWF.

Jake Schmidt from US green group Natural Resources Defense Council described the Canberra/Seoul proposal as “a terrible sign” from countries that claim they want to deal with climate change.

“They are trying to stop the simplest way to deal with this problem, which is to minimise the public finance going to coal power plants,” he said.

And as Reuters puts it, “the difficulty of agreeing that rich nations should stop allowing governments to fund coal is seen as a foretaste of the challenge of negotiating a new global pact on climate change.”

Locally, the focus is on Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, and whether or not he will pass what many consider to be his first big test on climate.

“This is where the rubber hits the road on (the climate change) debate,” said Julien Vincent, lead campaigner at Market Forces. “We have a modest, proposal that would cut off finance to the dirtiest proposed coal power plants.”

Even the federal opposition has weighed in, taking the opportunity to sink the boot, despite the fact that – as we have reported before – Labor appears to be no more enlightened on the subject of digging up and burning coal than the Coalition.


Who’s Killing Our Climate Scientists?

Tony Thomas

Well nobody, actually, unless you count a smattering of sometimes rude emails as representing credible threats to warmists' lives and safety. As with climate change itself, our purportedly un-settled scientists refuse to share their evidence of bloodthirsty sceptics on the warpath

cyber skullWhy is the Australian Academy of Science going off the deep end claiming “reprehensible vilification” of warmist scientists? It’s now saying they’re being so threatened and harassed that their ability to do science is in jeopardy. Academy President Andrew Holmes, addressing a greenhouse conference in Hobart on October 27, claimed

The costs to individuals can be high. It is therefore critical that as scientists and experts we stand together. The ability of scientists to conduct their work, free of fear or hindrance, is vital to the future wellbeing of our community, and the Academy will continue to advocate for academic freedom… 

“As the International Council for Science proclaims, the free and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement and human and environmental well-being.

I thought at first he was chastising the academics at University of Western Australia over their successful witchhunt against non-sceptic Bjorn Lomborg, or that he was chastising academics at University of Melbourne for wanting punitive fines to drive sceptics out of the media. Or maybe rebuking US academic peers who wanted sceptic corporations to be prosecuted under the Racketeering and Corrupting Influences Act (that exercise backfired spectacularly). But I erred, Holmes’ victimology includes only orthodox climate scientists as its purported casualties.

Those climateers make unlikely victims. There were hordes of them at the Hobart greenhouse conference. My estimate: I’d say 95% are on government or academic payrolls, plus expenses. The evening after Holmes spoke, they went tooling across the harbor “by luxury catamaran” for dinner “at the world-renowned Peppermint Bay, where’ll we’ll enjoy a delicious three-course meal set against a backdrop of the lush rolling hills of the Huon region, with commanding views across the d’Entrecasteaux Channel and north to Mt Wellington.” Saving the planet is not work for the faint-hearted, n’est ce pas?

Holmes’ victimology statement comes about a month before the great climate confab in Paris, which warmists hope will raise the price of fossil-fuelled power for the Third World’s billions of abject poor, who are desperate for electricity’s benefits and not-so-worried about CO2 emissions.

The previous victimology  statement by the Academy, on June 10, 2011, coincided with key Parliamentary debates on the Gillard carbon dioxide tax and a 200-strong deputation  of semi-scientists at Parliament House to urge MPs to crush ‘disinformation’ about climate change. The 2011 Academy statement was not just by then-President Sue Cory but by the Academy’s executive committee of council, indicating its seriousness. It reads quite similarly to the current Holmes’ text, with a cry to “defend intellectual freedom”.

Academy President Professor Suzanne Cory said the Academy is deeply concerned about the threats being made to scientists.

“Today the Academy’s Executive Committee of Council issued a public statement defending the right of researchers to do their work free from abuse, acts of intimidation and threats of violence,” Professor Cory said.

“We call on leaders across the community to make the same defence of intellectual freedom.”

The statement endorsed by the Executive Committee reads: "The Australian Academy of Science is firmly of the view that the interests of the community and the advancement of knowledge is best served by an environment where researchers can put forward views and present data for discussion and scrutiny free from threats of personal or professional harm.

The more controversial the area …the more important that any researcher should feel free to argue a case based on evidence without fear of reprisal. We know of examples where prominent researchers have been personally and professionally threatened by individuals and organisations that disagree with their findings and conclusions.

We reiterate our common defence of the principles of academic freedom: any researcher has the right and duty to argue a case based on evidence, because only public discourse and experimental challenge can advance understanding."

So what’s behind this Academy angst? We’ll start with the 2011 Council statement and work up to its 2015 variant.

In May, 2010, John Coochey, a retired public servant, was chatting at a climate seminar dinner in Canberra with the ACT Environment Commissioner Maxine Cooper about the annual ACT kangarroo culls and eating game meat. He remarked that he had his cull permit, which he added are issued only to reliable marksmen, and he assured Cooper that she need have no concerns about cruelty to roos.

Someone excitable overheard some of this chat and relayed a garbled version to the ANU’s climate czar, Will Steffen. Alarmed, Steffen sent an email to his group of ANU correspondents on June 2 saying they were now under serious threat from “a sniper”. About half a year earlier, someone had visited the ANU unit’s premises twice and. according to Steffen, displayed an aggressive demeanour.  This supposedly led to security upgrades, although the only actual step was the introduction of new, broadly issued entry swipe cards.

A year or so later, on June 4, 2011, an enthusiastic environmental reporter on the Canberra Times, Rosslyn Beeby, ran with a story, “Climate of Fear”, about death threats or abuse to ANU and other climate scientists and abusive emails. This story caused an international sensation and the Academy weighed in with its statement barely six days later.

On June 20, a staffer for the science lobby group FASTS (and earlier, for Labor ministers) reported receipt of a death threat email, which turned out to be from a serial pest in Seattle who cut and pasted nasty text into emails to lots of people globally. Blogger Simon Turnill of then FOI’d the ANU for the abusive/threatening emails. The ANU dug in its heels and refused for a year, until forced to come clean by the Privacy Commissioner Tim Pilgrim.

Well, well, well! There proved to be 11 emails to six climate people in the relevant six months of 2011, and the only one claiming a “death threat” was Steffen’s hyper-reaction to the garbled roo-cull conversation. The other 10 ranged from querulous complaints by citizens about waste of tax dollars on climate science (“Please be truthful in future,” one said),  to a few rich in four-letter words and insults.

Now scrabbling for credibility, the climate scientist community beat the bushes nationally for nasty emails — and it emerged that random nutters had indeed sent some sexist, abusive, threatening notes, a deplorable practice. The only actual violence cited involved someone throwing eggs at someone’s house and no-one thought of complaining to police.

To sum up, the Academy went into Full Outrage Mode over ANU claims of death threat-type emails, even though the “death threat” was rolled-gold hokum. The other ANU “abuse” emails work out at an average of two per climate academic during a six month period, of which one email, on average, involved nothing more sinister than members of the public griping about climate alarmism. After the Academy statement, details emerged of 30 or so other nasty, sexist emails nationally.

Keep in mind that un-elected alarmist climate scientists are advocating a total societal transformation to costly renewable energy involving massive government controls and big drops in living standards. Yet these brave climate warriors dissolve into puddles of jelly if a rude email hits their in-box.

I promised to fill you in on the Academy’s “evidence” for its latest victimology by President Holmes last month.  Sadly, the Academy refuses to provide any. Indeed it refuses to respond to Quadrant’s queries at all, on the ground that our article may not be flattering. Quadrant’s invitation to redact all identifying names failed to change the Academy’s stance.

All we can be sure about is that some climate scientists have complained to the Academy about hate mail, harassment and threats,   But whether those were just the 2010-12 complaints or new ones, the Academy declines to say. Other questions getting no answer were:

    To what extent are these accounts from Australian sources, as distinct from overseas sources?

    To your knowledge, did the providers of the accounts seek any police investigation of the  threats?

    What is meant by the term ‘harassment’? Does that refer to allegedly excessive volumes of FOI requests (which have been publicly complained of by people like East Anglia Climatic Research Unit’s Phil Jones)? If not, can you clarify pls.

The Academy’s non-response rather undercuts President Holmes’ nice words at Hobart:

"We can lead through small actions and words, such as…engaging in conversation with someone who lacks a scientific understanding of serious issues, instead of dismissing them."

Taking a tip from someone near the Molonglo, Quadrant decided to google “climate scientist abuse or threat 2015” . The  only thing relevant in the first few pages  was Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann, self-proclaimed Nobel Prize Winner, running a “poor victim me!” line. Other stuff just referred back to the ANU 2010-12 farce, although there was also one bad person urging the children of sceptic-minded UK journalist David Rose to kill him.

Inputting “2014” instead of 2015 produced a similar result, but with the interesting addition of climate scientist Lennart Bengtsson[ii], who wrote:

"I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that life has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc.

I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years."

The back story there is that Bengtsson, of Sweden, had accepted an invitation to join the academic council of the UK’s non-alarmist Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) two weeks earlier, but pulled out because of the above-described hostility of the warmist climate team.

It’s all very unsatisfactory. Climate alarmists, far from being victims and underdogs, as the Academy would have it, are in fact calling the shots on anti-CO2 investment of well over $US1b per day.  A tiny fraction of that sum could make huge inroads into here-and-now Third World issues, such as infant mortality, malaria, education, clean water and sanitation, and cheap fossil-fueled electricity. For alarmists, the high moral ground can be a bit slippery.


Has-been politician slams a Prince of the Church over global warming

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has unleashed an excoriating attack on George Pell, accusing Australia's most senior Catholic of being a "radical climate sceptic" and saying the cardinal's "inflated rhetoric" can no longer go unchallenged on the role of the Church in the climate change debate.

In a blistering lecture called "Faith, Ethics and Climate Change," Mr Rudd said he might have called a double-dissolution election on an emissions trading scheme had he not been robbed of the Labor leadership in 2010. And he said he stood by his claim that "climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time" and predicted those words would stand the test of time. 

The former Labor prime minister said George Pell needed an "ecological conversion" and noted the cardinal's denial of climate change science matched the views of former prime minister Tony Abbott, to whom Cardinal Pell is close.

"Cardinal Pell has in the past accused me of inflated rhetoric," Mr Rudd told the Rowan Williams Lecture at Trinity College in Melbourne.  "Such rhetoric, it seems, is not the exclusive province of prime ministers. Princes of the Church are apparently not entirely immune," Mr Rudd said.

Mr Rudd said the Cardinal's view that the Church should butt out of politics and climate change policy was deeply at odds with the ethical imperative to protect the environment as well contradictory of Pope Francis' views.

"The Pope says the science on climate change is sufficiently clear. Cardinal Pell says it is not and further that the purported science is without foundation," he said.

Cardinal Pell has publicly criticised Pope Francis and told the Financial Times that the Church has "no particular expertise in science" and "no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters".

Mr Rudd said Cardinal Pell's comments were illogical. "To contend that a necessary prerequisite for engagement in these ethical debates in the public square is to be a professionally qualified climate scientist … would render his own contribution to these debates null and void, as Cardinal Pell is qualified in none," he said.

Mr Rudd said Christians should not be prevented from forming ethical views on public policy just because they don't have a science degree.

Cardinal Pell's comments were in response to a Papal encyclical Pope Francis released in June this year in which he called for humanity to save itself from the threat of climate change.

The Pope took aim at "committed and prayerful" Christians who "ridicule expressions of concern for the environment" using "realism and pragmatism" as an excuse. "What they all need is an "ecological conversion," the Pope said.

"Perhaps the Pope had Cardinal Pell in mind when this paragraph was written," Mr Rudd suggested on Tuesday.


12 November, 2015

Australia makes a small concession on global warming

Agreed to talk about refrigerant gases. But Warmists overjoyed by even that small validation for their beliefs

Australia has been applauded by delegates at climate change ministerial talks in Paris for returning to active climate diplomacy.

With the major UN climate summit set to begin at the end of this month, some 60 countries have sent ministers to Paris for advance talks.

Climate activists have praised Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt's work for achieving a breakthrough in a six-year-old deadlock on a side protocol, delivering a bonus cut equal to two years' total global carbon emissions.

And Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has negotiated for Australia to become one of two co-chairs of the UN's Green Climate Fund, a  body that Tony Abbott once derided as a "Bob Brown bank".

"We bring a new energy and a new commitment to these processes," Mr Hunt told Fairfax Media.

"At the first plenary session in the ministerial meeting, of all the countries that spoke only two countries received strong applause – Australia and Canada," in response to their opening statements, Mr Hunt said. The session was closed to the media.

A prominent Australian activist, the Climate Institute's John Connor, said: "There's an audible sigh of relief around the world when everyone realised that two countries with formidable diplomatic corps are not going to be ridden on mandates to be difficult."

Both countries have recently replaced conservative prime ministers with more centrist ones.

The Paris meeting is not expected to meet the international commitment to restrain global temperatures to 2 degrees above the pre-industrial average.

Hopes of achieving this by the end of the century now depend on a follow-up process that the Paris meeting is to design.

"Paris will produce an outcome of about 2.7 degrees but everybody is committed to the Paris process to review national targets," said Mr Hunt.

"The only figure being talked about is five years  - we will probably come back every five years, in 2020, 2025 and 2030, for subsidiary rounds of new pledges" for the pledging period to 2030.

"The Paris meeting won't deliver 2 degrees, but the Paris process will," he said.

Last week Mr Hunt led a breakthrough in a deadlocked effort to cut greenhouse emissions through the Montreal Protocol.

Set up 30 years ago to cut ozone-depleting gases, the international Montreal Protocol was hailed as a success. The looming ozone problem was averted.

But the replacement gases that were embraced, hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs, have become a new problem because they add to the greenhouse effect of global warming.

Countries have been trying to phase these gases out through the Montreal Protocol but have been stymied by a negotiating standoff.

Mr Hunt brokered an agreement at a meeting of 197 countries in Dubai last week. That has started the process of planning the phase-out of HFCs.

The process is expected to take over a decade. But it is expected to eliminate the equivalent of at least 90 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, equal to two years of total global carbon output.

The Climate Institute's Mr Connor said: "We think it's a really important move and the Australian government played a good role. For too long it's been shoved around. India was a blockage."


Radical reforms to health insurance flagged by Turnbull Government

Private health insurers would be allowed to cover GP visits and common tests such as X-rays under radical reforms being canvassed by the Turnbull government that would shift Australia towards a more US-style health system.  

Health policy experts say the move, flagged in a government survey of Australians about private health insurance, would reduce pressure on GPs to bulk bill their services at the Medicare rate of payment, inflating prices for patients.  

The government has also opened the door to private health insurers charging higher fees for people who smoke or are overweight, and Health Minister Sussan Ley said she may slash subsidies currently provided for health insurance policies that include "extras" such as dental and optical services because "they may not be best value for money".  

"There are all sorts of policy options on the table when we get through this process," Ms Ley said on Sunday after launching the survey.

Health economist and former secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health, Stephen Duckett?, said allowing insurers to cover GP visits could undermine universal access to healthcare - the fundamental principle of Australia's Medicare system.  

At the moment, Dr Duckett said high rates of bulk billing (around 80 per cent of GP consultations) encouraged other doctors to follow suit. If health insurers could cover GP visits, they may pay doctors more than the Medicare rate, changing the market dynamics.

"About 50 per cent of the population has general insurance, so this may encourage doctors to charge those people higher rates on the function that they will be fully rebated from health insurance. That would be inflationary and it might have a flow-on effect to people without health insurance who will be expected to pay," said Dr Duckett, from the Grattan Institute.

Health policy expert at the University of Sydney, Lesley Russell, said allowing insurers to cover GP visits would be like opening "Pandora's box" on fees. 

"We know that in the hospital sector they (insurers) do deals with specialists around what they will pay, and in many cases they pay more than the Medicare reimbursement rate," she said.

Associate Professor Russell said the change would also reduce efficiency because GPs, radiologists and pathologists would be dealing with a raft of insurers with different rules, rather than just Medicare.  

At the moment, private health insurers are not allowed to cover community based health services such as GP visits, pathology services such as blood tests and diagnostic imaging which includes X-rays, CAT scans and MRIs.

The government's survey, launched on Sunday, asks: "If insurers were permitted to extend coverage to health care services not currently covered, and knowing that this would lead to an increase in the price of premiums, which services should be covered?"

It also asks people if higher insurance fees should be charged based on age, gender, health conditions, smoking status and other "health risk factors".

Health insurers are currently not allowed to discriminate against people based on their health history or behaviour, so everybody pays the same premium for the same product, and insurers must provide cover to anybody who seeks it. About 50 per cent of Australians have health insurance, making it a $19 billion industry.

Ms Ley said that while she did not want any Australians to be excluded from health insurance, she wondered if people should be rewarded for avoiding unhealthy behaviours such as smoking.

"I'm really about incentives, not exclusions. For people that have private health insurance now, they can be reassured that we won't be changing the way we look after them in a whole of community sense," she said.  

"We understand that sometimes you get sick and it's not your choice, but when I talk to young people who say 'Well I'm going to keep fit and I don't want to pay as much for my private health insurance because I'm going to do everything right. Is there a way I can get some incentive?', these are the sorts of things we want to explore".

Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said the move should sound alarm bells for every health fund member in Australia (about half of the population), and would shift more seriously ill patients into public hospitals.

"If the poll endorses charging smokers more for health insurance, how long before the government moves to look at charging people more based on their age, weight, alcohol consumption, general fitness, genetic testing or family history of cancer?" she said.


Western Australia Police Minister concedes major cases could have been mishandled

This is all about the poor relationships between Aborigines and W.A. police.  Aborigines in custody will often agree to almost anything so special care has to be taken in interviewing them.  The case below would seem to be about police NOT taking such precautions.  They need to aim at justice, not convictions

A scathing review of the bungled police investigation into the death of Josh Warneke could indicate other major crime squad cases have been mishandled, Police Minister Liza Harvey has conceded.

The Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) last week released its report into the police handling of the case, in particular flawed 2012 interviews with Kimberley man Gene Gibson, who later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Mr Warneke, 21, was bashed with a metal pole and left to die by the side of a road in Broome in August 2010.

The report found "the errors of individuals reflect a deeper malaise and systemic weakness, which permeates criminal investigations in this state".

Mrs Harvey was asked if the case raised doubts about other major crime investigations in Western Australia.

"It's quite possible and I would put to members of the community, if they feel that they are aggrieved with the respect to the way their matter has been investigated, that they should contact police," Ms Harvey told reporters.

Gibson, from the Western Desert community of Kiwirrkurra, was charged in August 2012 with murdering Mr Warneke in Broome in 2010.

But police questioned him without a translator and the Supreme Court ruled his interviews were involuntary and inadmissible.

Gibson's lawyers then negotiated with prosecutors who accepted a plea of guilty to manslaughter.

The CCC was highly critical of the Major Crime Squad, which headed the investigation and conducted the interviews.

The watchdog found detectives failed to follow procedures and breached the Criminal Investigations Act.

It said the squad needed to urgently review its capacity to conduct admissible interviews and the way it dealt with people with language difficulties.

Five officers have been stood aside as an internal investigation into police conduct continues.

The CCC did not publicly release any opinions of misconduct regarding the case but gave a separate report to police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan, who has said he was considering the report.

Mrs Harvey said she did not believe Mr O'Callaghan should be sacked, but all the CCC's recommendations should be adopted and it was his responsibility to enact change.

She said he had already taken steps to change the management structure in the Major Crime Squad.

"It is up to the commissioner, he's been in the role for a long time, to sort any of these issues out," Mrs Harvey said.

"If there's a cultural issue, I expect him to address it. He's given me his assurance that he will."


Useless education not helping young Australians to get jobs

Today's graduates are facing the worst job prospects in a quarter of a century - and perhaps even longer, the latest research shows.

"I wouldn't use the word 'bleak' . but these are the toughest labour market conditions since the early 1990s, that's for sure," says Graduate Careers Australia strategy and policy advisor Bruce Guthrie.

"The demand for graduates has dropped away."

The figures are even worse when looking only at new bachelor degree graduates. Among this group, the proportion unable to find full-time work four months after graduating is at its highest since the 1970s.

In 2014, only 68 per cent of new bachelor degree graduates were working full-time four months after graduating, compared with 85 per cent in 2008, research from Graduate Careers Australia shows.

Like previous generations, Generation Y has been raised with the belief that a good education would lead to a good job. But they're the first generation for which that promise may not hold true, according to Johanna Wyn, director of the University of Melbourne's Youth Research Centre.

"It's a global phenomenon. We're going into a phase where work is precarious," she says.

"For the first time in history, people who are qualified are struggling to get a foothold ... professionals are now on contracts or doing casual work, whereas becoming a professional of some sort used to mean you'd get a proper job."

In 2011, 26 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds had a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with only 5 per cent in 1976, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Having a university qualification is more important than ever, but it has never provided less of a guarantee against job insecurity or even unemployment, says University of Melbourne sociologist and senior lecturer Dan Woodman.

"For this generation's parents, if you had a bachelor's degree, that was your ticket. You didn't have to worry about graduate employment rates because you were in a very elite minority," he says. "Now, more and more people are seeing one degree as not enough."

Among them is Ms Wenham, who will complete a combined BSc in Pharmacology and Master of Nursing at The University of Sydney over just four years.

"The more pieces of paper you have saying 'I have this degree and this degree', the better. I think jobs are going to people who can show they've put in the hard work," she says.

The urge to amass degree after degree is understandable, experts say, but it's far from given that it will bring you closer to your dream career.

"There is a mistaken view that getting more qualifications will improve your employment prospects. I think many employers value experience over qualifications," Grattan Institute higher education program director Andrew Norton says.

Postgraduate courses, which are mostly full-fee-paying, are significantly more expensive than undergraduate courses, he warns. "You've really got to be confident that it's going to pay off."

Unpublished Graduate Careers Australia figures suggest people coming out of postgraduate degrees without previous full-time work experience have very similar employment prospects to bachelor degree graduates, Guthrie says.

Gen Ys also seem ambivalent about whether more university is the answer to their woes. Paradoxically, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in the Future Leaders Index said universities weren't equipping students with enough practical skills for the workplace - even though half said they were considering further study.

However, Guthrie says these beliefs are a reaction to the poor jobs market and not a reflection of university teaching.  "Universities haven't changed how they teach overnight. The issue is not the quality of supply; it's demand from recruiters," he says.

"I suspect graduates aren't seeing that. They're just thinking they're under-prepared for employment."

Besides, the role of universities is to train people to think and understand the world, not just to prepare them for jobs, Professor Wyn says. "In fact, our longitudinal studies show the graduates most likely to be in full-time work by the age of 27 are those who have done an arts degree", she says, probably because they have the skills to "think outside the box".

As for those at university now, Guthrie says it's important to put current conditions in perspective. For one thing, unemployment among university graduates is half that of the general population, according to Bureau of Statistics figures.

"Our own research shows that three years after [graduating], their employment figures have improved markedly. So it's not that they're not finding work, it's that they're taking longer," he says.

"I talk to students regularly; I know it's difficult for them. I just tell them to hang in there. Keep trying."


British doctors moving to Australia

"More cash, fewer hours, less pressure"

Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Commons health committee, revealed last month that her daughter, a junior doctor, and eight of her friends had all quit the NHS to find work in Australia. It's a disturbing trend: but as the dissatisfaction over hours and conditions in the NHS grows, it may be one we have to get used to.

Australia has long attracted doctors from Britain. Depending on their seniority, doctors can earn up to 50% more in Sydney or Melbourne, despite generally working less overtime. With the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, now threatening to impose a tough new contract on junior doctors - one that would see their working hours increased and pay cut - the lure of Australia is growing.

This should be particularly worrying for the NHS, given that a review published last week found the UK would need 26,500 more doctors and 47,700 nurses to match the OECD average.

The UK provided Australia with 13% of its GPs and 22% of its specialists in 2011. The crisis could see these numbers rise. The latest General Medical Council figures show that in the 10 days after the Hunt contracts were confirmed, doctors made 3,468 requests for a certificate to practise medicine outside of the UK. The regulator normally gets between 20 and 25 requests a day.

Associate professor Brian Owler, who is head of the Australian Medical Association, said junior doctors should be "highly valued" and is critical of the NHS contract changes.

"Junior doctors are almost the engine room of the hospital system," he said. "They're the ones that are there every day waiting on patients and sorting out tests, they're the ones that are still there at night, and without them the whole system grinds to a halt. They're a bit undervalued sometimes in the services they provide - they're training as well as working - and people forget how essential they are. Without them, care would suffer."

Doctors came to Australia from the UK for a number of reasons, he said, including Australia's high training standards and beaches-and-sunshine lifestyle.

"And there have also been quite a number of general practitioners and other doctors come to us because they found conditions under the NHS difficult," he said. "Yes, we have our challenges here, but we know that there have been quite a number of challenges, particularly in general practice, over a number of years in the UK."


11 November, 2015

Malcolm Turnbull should go to the polls in December

There’s a wonderful line in Billy Crystal’s 1991 western comic romp "City Slickers" on the ravages of middle age.

On approaching 40, Crystal asks his pal if he has ever had the feeling this is the best he’s ever gonna do, the best he’s ever gonna feel.

In that sense governments are a lot like people. They’re born, they achieve, they fail. And they expire. And because the Turnbull government is not middle aged but still in the first blush of youth, the new Prime Minister should now think carefully about how his Coalition will handle getting old and tired, even before its time.

That’s why more than a few were surprised when Malcolm Turnbull recently ruled out an early election, now or in March. “I would say around September-Octo­ber next year is when you should expect the next election to be,” the Prime Minister said.

Turnbull’s thinking is undoubtedly twofold. First, don’t ­appear greedily opportunistic to voters still adjusting to the new milieu. No one likes a gloating winner.

Second, the conventional wisdom is to use the first year to build a narrative as a sensible, measured leader who can be trusted on the big economic moments, such as a tough budget or raising the GST to 15 per cent. The fact Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey didn’t build that narrative before launching last year’s horror budget partly explains the pair’s demise.

But a year-long narrative can cut both ways. It can build up a leader’s credentials, or it can tear a leader down in the heat of policy debate. There’s nothing like a brawl over tax to grey a government’s hair or put lines on a leader’s face.

That’s why I’d strongly advise Turnbull — in fact, yell in his ear — to visit the Governor-General today and call an election for December 12: the last feasible date for an election this year.

Why? For one reason only: if Turnbull lives to be 100 and his government surpasses Menzies’, he will never look or feel as good, be as popular or so uncritically received as he is right now. Sadly, popularity, like youth, fame and fashion, is cruelly fleeting.

Yet there’s one remaining problem: constitutionally, the earliest possible date for a regular election — House of Reps and half the Senate — is August 6 next year. The only other options are a house-alone election (not held since 1972 and therefore unfavoured) or a full double dissolution — the phrase that usually makes prime ministers blanch.

But these are not usual times. They’re more like the calm before a series of pending policy storms. With the Coalition sitting on 45 per cent primary vote (52 per cent after preferences) to Labor’s 35 per cent, the Coalition would be easily returned.

Add in Turnbull’s preferred PM rating of 63 per cent to Bill Shorten’s 17 per cent, and we could expect a 33-day barnstorming, Turnbull-centric campaign in which the Coalition would blitz Labor in the house and, potentially, the crossbenchers in the Senate.

Expediently, several triggers are already in place. The twice-stalled legislation to reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission — a trade union watchdog — would be Turnbull’s favoured to pull as a union-themed campaign would painfully wedge Labor: either get on board with anti-corruption measures or be seen as shielding crooks.

The choice for Turnbull is therefore clear: damn the cries of opportunism and go to the polls before Labor replaces a sinking Shorten with more formidable candidates such as Tanya Plibersek, Tony Burke, Chris Bowen or Anthony Albanese.

His Coalition colleagues should be shouting: “Go to the polls before the inevitable ‘revising down’ of Australia’s GDP growth, or a hike in unemployment, or disappointing Christmas retail figures.”

Get to the GG before interest rates rise or before the banks behave even more abominably. Get your own mandate before having to battle with same-sex marriage plebiscites or carbon prices or GST increases that will bruise the Coalition far more than Labor.

Get re-elected before your new cabinet starts to blunder, as all new cabinets invariably do. And go to the polls before swinging voters, dazzled by the Turnbull charm, start drifting back to Labor out of frustration or mere ennui.

To mangle a couple of other movie quotes: carpe diem, Malcolm. This is as good as it gets.


UN human rights review: Countries line up to criticise Australia for its treatment of asylum seekers

Amusing that Australia should be getting criticized at a time when much of Europe is wishing that it had Australia's border defence policies

Geneva: Australia has copped a barrage of criticism at a United Nations human rights forum over its treatment of asylum seekers on the high seas and in offshore detention centres.

But Australia was defiant as dozens of countries called on it to wind back or end boat turn-backs and mandatory detention, and grant refugees their full rights.

Australia's delegation, which included MP Philip Ruddock, insisted that turning back asylum seeker boats and putting asylum seekers in overseas detention centres was necessary, and had saved lives.

The UN Human Rights Council's official review of Australia's human rights policies took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Monday. The scrutiny comes at a time when Australia is vying for a two-year term on the council.

During the review, representatives from more than 100 countries gave recommendations on how Australia should improve its human rights record.

Countries including Brazil, Turkey, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Bangladesh - even Rwanda, Iran and North Korea - expressed concern over Australia's treatment of refugees. [What a laugh!]

The presence of women and children asylum seekers in detention centres came in for particular criticism.

Many countries called for Australia to ratify 'OPCAT' – an international convention against torture, which would expose offshore asylum seeker detention centres to new international oversight and review.

Countries taking part in the review also noted Australia's inadequate treatment of Indigenous people, the high level of violence against women, and the spread of Islamophobia.

France's spokesman Thomas Wagner called for Australia to "develop alternatives to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, especially when dealing with children".

Germany's representative said Australia should "critically review" offshore processing on Nauru and Manus Island. He recommended Australia "remove children and their families, and other individuals at risk – in particular survivors of torture and trauma – from immigration detention centres".

Bangladesh's representative said Australia's response to migrant arrivals had "set a poor benchmark", calling for the repeal of mandatory detention for asylum seekers – and she was also concerned by "firsthand reports of discrimination and racism, particularly associated with Islamophobia".

The United States encouraged Australia to "ensure humane treatment and respect for the human rights of asylum seekers, including those processed offshore". The US said the processing of refugees and asylum seekers should be "closely monitored", though it stopped short of calling for the offshore centres to be closed.

Countries not normally celebrated for their human rights records joined the criticism of Australia.

North Korea's representative said his country was "seriously concerned at continued maltreatment of and violence against the refugees and asylum seekers".

Iran expressed its "deep concern about the mandatory immigration detention regime".

And China said Australia should safeguard the human rights of "all refugees and asylum seekers who reach Australian shores".

Most countries acknowledged that Australia had made progress since its first human rights review in 2011.

However Russia pointed out that Australia had fully implemented just 10 per cent of the 145 recommendations it had accepted from that review – a statistic it plucked from this year's report by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

In pre-written responses, Australia's delegation defended government migration policy during the three-hour session.

Steve McGlynn, from the Immigration Department, said Australia was committed to strong border protection measures – and a "critical element is to send a clear message that people smugglers do not offer a path to Australia".

Fewer asylum seeker boats were attempting to reach Australia, so the policy had "saved countless lives at sea", by damaging the people smuggler trade, he said. The drop in boat numbers meant Australia was able to resettle more refugees through other channels.

Mandatory immigration detention was "viewed by Australia as vital to ensuring the integrity of our migration and visa programs", he said.

As of September 30 there were 2044 people in immigration detention, and 113 children in 'alternative detention', down from a peak of almost 2000 in 2013.

Andrew Goledzinowski, ambassador for people smuggling issues, said Australia had "experimented with the free arrival of asylum seekers by boat", which had led to people smuggling networks mobilising a flotilla of more than 800 boats.

"The seas around Australia are wider, deeper and more dangerous than even the Mediterranean," he said. "More than 1200 people of whom we are aware died in the attempt to reach my country.

"Those who criticise (Australia's) policy positions need to appreciate the reasons (for them)." Regional processing "allows us to save lives", he said.

After the session, Mr Ruddock said he thought it was "a very positive performance by Australia and very well-received"....

The HRC's recommendations from the review will be made public on Thursday. They are not binding under international law.


Greenies do something useful

The navy should be looking after this

Conservation activist group Sea Shepherd will head to Antarctic waters to target illegal fishing of Patagonian toothfish for a second season after a "successful" 2014-15 operation.

The campaign will be similar to the previous voyage, even baring the same name, Operation Icefish.

The operation's first incarnation lasted five months and culminated in the scuttling of the ship Thunder, an alleged poaching vessel, after a 110-day pursuit by Sea Shepherd's ship Bob Barker.

Sea Shepherd Australia chairman Peter Hammarsteadt said last year's operation was regarded as very successful.

He said the operation's primary objective was to stop the "Bandit Six poaching vessels" that he said had operated in the Southern Ocean for more than a decade.

"Out of the original Bandit Six one is at the bottom of the ocean, another three are detained ... but two remain at large."

Mr Hammarsteadt said the fishing vessel Kunlun, which was boarded by Australian Customs officials in February, escaped detention in Thailand one month ago with a cargo of about 128 tonnes of toothfish aboard.

He said this year's operation would target the two ships that got away.  "[We will] once again intercept them in the southern ocean, shut down their illegal activities and to drag them back into the halls of justice," he said.

Mr Hammarsteadt skippered the Bob Barker in 2014-15 and watched the ship Thunder sink.

"On December 17 2014 my vessel the Bob Barker encountered the most notorious of the Bandit Six, the fishing vessel Thunder, a vessel wanted by Interpol, a vessel Interpol believed had made a profit of over $60 million in the 12 years that it was operating in the Southern Ocean," he said. "That action sparked the largest longest pursuit of a poaching vessel in history.

"For over 110 days the Sea Shepherd vessels Bob Barker and Sam Simon pursued the fishing vessel Thunder across three oceans and over 11,000 [nautical] miles until the poaching vessel finally sank off the coast of Sao Tom‚ and Pr¡ncipe.

"The captain of the vessel tried to sink his vessel in order to try to destroy evidence and just one month ago the captain and two of his officers were convicted in a court of law in Sao Tom‚ and Pr¡ncipe on evidence provided by Sea Shepherd.

"They were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of up to three years as well as a fine of 15 million Euros [$23 million]."

Sea Shepherd Australia managing director Steve Hanson said Hobart would again be an important port for Sea Shepherd with "Steve Irwin" likely to dock in the Tasmanian capital next month.

"Hobart really is the gateway to Antarctica and Sea Shepherd has launched many campaigns from here from saving whales to saving Patagonian toothfish."


Malcolm Turnbull targets super for ‘fair’ tax reform

A radical approach to super­annuation has been moved to the top of Malcolm Turnbull’s tax agenda in a bid to create a fairer way to encourage retirement ­savings while generating $6 billion in new revenue to support wider reform.

The federal government is stepping up work on new rules that offer the same super tax break to all Australians, ­re­gard­less of their income, while giving those on low incomes a greater ­incentive to build their nest eggs.

The Prime Minister has discussed the proposal in recent days to make it a favoured option within the government, as he fights ­attacks on a potential GST ­increase by declaring it “inconceivable” that his reforms would hurt the vulnerable.

The Australian can reveal that the government is turning its focus towards super taxes amid the growing dispute over the GST and as Liberals warn against a “lazy” hike in the consumption tax when other reforms should be considered.

In another sign the government is cooling on a GST increase, MPs told The Australian that ­Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told a private meeting of ­Coalition MPs yesterday that they would not be taking the ­reform to the next election. “It stopped the crowd,” one MP said of Mr Pyne’s remarks. “He said what a lot of us have concluded. I think it reflects an emerging view.”

Mr Pyne’s remarks were a ­reassurance to backbenchers that no decision had been made on the reform and there was a long way to go before it was finalised. The minister’s office denied last night that he had said the government would not seek a change to GST at the election.

While an increase in the GST from 10 per cent to 15 per cent would raise about $27bn a year, about a third would have to be spent on compensation for those on low incomes and there would be a fight with the states and ­territories over how to share the rest. The super tax proposal could raise $6bn a year with the possibility of increasing over time and could help fund income tax cuts without the need for a deal with premiers.

Bill Shorten has unveiled a ­policy to increase the tax on super earnings from bigger funds, but the government prefers an ­approach that applies a single tax rate to all future super contri­butions instead.

In contrast with Labor, the government’s option would avoid any “retrospective” change to the taxes on about $2 trillion now saved in retirement accounts, ­easing fears of older Australians who object to a tax slug on money they have already put aside.

Current laws apply a 15 per cent tax on all super contributions regardless of a worker’s income, which means the advantages are greater for a person who pays the top marginal income tax rate of 47 per cent while there is no ­incentive to save for those paying less than 15 per cent income tax.

Deloitte Access Economics ­director Chris Richardson called two weeks ago for a different ­approach that would reduce the contributions tax by 15 percentage points from a worker’s income tax rate.

Under that plan, a worker on the top marginal tax rate would pay 30 per cent tax on contributions while a worker on a middle income would pay 17.5 per cent — a 15 percentage point reduction on the 32.5 per cent tax rate on ­incomes between $37,000 and $80,000.

Under changes introduced in 2012, those earning more than $300,000 including super already pay a 30 per cent tax rate on their contributions.

The Deloitte proposal is similar to a policy from the Greens, ­indicating the potential for the ­Coalition to gain Senate approval even if Labor tried to block the changes.

Mr Turnbull singled out Mr Richardson at last week’s Rebuilding Foundations for Reform ­Conference sponsored by The Australian and the Melbourne ­Institute, calling on the Deloitte director for tax reform ideas.

The Australian has learned that the Prime Minister spoke at length with Mr Richardson on the phone last Friday to canvass the super tax breaks. Mr Richardson would not comment on the conversation.

Others said the super reform was now under consideration within the government. Mr Turnbull has made fairness a central theme in his argument for tax reform amid warnings from the Australian Council of Social ­Service and others that an increase in the GST is inherently unfair ­because it costs low-income households a bigger share of their incomes.

As Labor used question time yesterday to intensify attacks on a GST increase, the Prime Minister chided Mr Shorten for being too quick to shut down ideas.  “The honourable member should not be afraid of open discussion,” the Prime Minister said of Mr Shorten. “He should get out from under the doona.”

Mr Turnbull dismissed Labor’s tactics as a “not especially scary scare campaign” and cited support for a higher GST from Labor ­figures such as former Victorian premier John Brumby.

However, Mr Turnbull did not advocate a rise in the GST and ­instead suggested it was only an option in a debate on reform that should be about economic growth and job creation.

Mr Turnbull pledged that any reform would include compensation to ensure it was fair. “If you were to increase the GST without any compensation and without any other arrangements, households on lower incomes would be disadvantaged, and that is why it would never be done,” the Prime Minister said. “That is why it was not done in the past and that is why it is inconceivable.

“The fact of the matter is that any changes to the tax system will be fair. They will be fair — that is a fundamental design requirement.”

Treasurer Scott Morrison today welcomed proposals for a single tax rate on superannuation as “a very interesting idea” that is worthy of consideration, writes Jared Owens

“What we are seeking to do with superannuation is ensure that people are independent in their retirement and that the tax incentives that are applied to superannuation are the ones that best put Australians who are at risk of not being independent in retirement in a strong position,” the Treasurer said in Canberra.

“I’ve talked about the need for greater flex over people’s working lives, I’ve talked about the need to make sure those tax incentives are targeted. I’ve also talked about the need for stability and certainty in the superannuation system and those who’ve already been saving have some certainty about what the treatment will be when they’re in the retirement phase, so I think we’ve laid out some very clear principles when it comes to superannuation.”


Americans are introduced to sausage rolls -- to great confusion

I seek out good sausage rolls and I must admit that the best ones I ever found were made by an Englishman

The sausage roll is a part of many Australian childhoods and remains a snack of choice for thousands across the country.

The delicious meaty dish, often accompanied by mini meat pies, is a common sight at parties, child birthdays and catered events - and almost always served with a side of tomato sauce.

But when American's recently found themselves introduced to the pastry wrapped treat, they were somewhat confused by the concept.

The New York Times recently ran a recipe for sausage rolls, claiming the dish was a traditional British Boxing Day meal.

'Though the concept of sausage wrapped in pastry exists in every cuisine in one way or another, the British have claimed sausage rolls as their own,' the writer said.

'They are always welcome, especially at holiday time...A pleasantly spiced homemade sausage mixture is easy to make up with a pound or two of ground pork shoulder, not too lean.'

Once shared, the five star recipe caused some confusion on social media - both from bewildered Americans, shocked Brits and amused Australians.

'Like pigs in a blanket, but so much better,' The New York Times wrote on Twitter.

The baffled comments soon followed.

'Don't know what these are exactly, but I would like that plate, please...,' one Twitter user wrote.

'Whats a sausage roll. is it a rolled sausage [sic],' another queried.

'I would eat sausage rolls every day': Some shared their true love of the dish, which are a favourite at picnics, large events and childrens' birthday parties

Australian and British sausage roll fans soon joined the conversation - most outraged that Americans were so in the dark.

'Just like with the flat white you Americans are late to the party...,' one wrote.

'I feel sorry for Americans: living this whole time not knowing the deliciousness of a sausage roll!' One woman wrote.

Others came up with new names for the treat altogether.  'A sausage in a sleeping bag,' one man suggested. 'Chorizo in a doona.'


10 November, 2015

Amusing:  The Green/Left is trying to put money into the hands of bloated capitalists

They don't think they are doing that but that just shows how stupid they are.  It is a chronic mental disease for the Left not to think things through and the nonsense below is is a prime example of it.

Let's say that they do get some people to "divest" from shares that Greenies have demonized.  What will that do to the company concerned?  Nothing.  It is generally a matter of indifference to a public company who holds its shares.

And what do the Greens think happens to the shares?  They get bought by someone else, by some bloated capitalist in all likelihood.  But if the Greenies have a stunning success with their campaign and a big lot of the shares concerned come onto the market, what will happen? The price will fall:  Good ol' supply and demand.  So the bloated capitalist who buys the shares will get them cheap. He will acquire a desirable asset at a bargain price.  Will he thank the Greenies for that?  He should but he is more likely to snigger at what dummies they are

And note also below the ethical desert that is the Green/Left.  They are condemning the accused before a trial -- a fundamental breach of natural justice.  Let me put it so plainly that even a Greenie might understand: "Under investigation" does not mean "guilty"

A leading environmental group has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ditch his investments in ExxonMobil, a company that's under investigation by the New York Attorney General for allegedly covering up the truth about climate change for decades.

On Friday it emerged that Exxon had received a subpoena requesting documents relating to internal studies from the late 1970s on, which allegedly revealed the extent of the damage done to Earth's atmosphere by products like those the oil giant peddles.

Climate advocacy group was the first to realise Turnbull is a beneficiary of the alleged cover-up, which internationally renowned environmentalist Bill McKibbon has branded an "unparalleled evil".

The Prime Minister's pecuniary interests register reveals that Turnbull invests in the SPDR S&P 500 fund which, in turn, lists ExxonMobil as its second largest holding.

Exxon's annual report for 2014 claims the company has paid out $128 billion to shareholders over the past five years, but it's not clear how much of that money has made it into Malcolm Turnbull's pocket.

On Friday the Australian Campaigns Director at, Charlie Wood, called on Turnbull to put his money where his mouth is ahead of key United Nations negotiations to be held in December.

"In a few weeks, world leaders will meet in Paris to come up with a plan to tackle the devastating climate impacts that Exxon has fuelled," Wood said. "Australia won't be taken seriously in Paris if our Prime Minister turns up with investments in a company that has worked for decades to make meetings like Paris fail."

The Prime Minister's office has not responded to requests for comment from Friday morning, but given his outspoken stance over a number of years on the need for climate action and "the importance of [accurate]science," the multi-millionaire is likely to face questions from other quarters too.


Note:  I use the Leftist term "bloated capitalist" above just as mockery of the Left

Nugan Hand bank mystery: Michael Hand found living in the United States

This was a big news item in 1980 but the idea that he had to have CIA help to vanish is very speculative.  The way Whitey Bulger and others have vanished for years shows that Americans can manage it all by themselves.  If there was some official reluctance to move in the matter, it could just as well have been due to his great distinction as a war hero

One of Australia's most wanted fugitives, Michael Hand, the co-founder of the Sydney-based international merchant bank Nugan Hand, has been found alive and well and living in small-town America.

He vanished in 1980 amid rumours of CIA and organised crime involvement in the bank as the United States attempted to back anti-communist governments and anti-communist insurgents at the height of the Cold War.

Sydney author Peter Butt found Hand. In his new book, Merchants of Menace, Butt reveals that Hand, 73, is living under the name Michael Jon Fuller and resides in the small town of Idaho Falls.

Hand manufactures tactical weapons [knives] for US Special Forces, special operations groups and hunters.

Hand disappeared in June 1980 after his partner, Griffith-born lawyer Frank Nugan, then 37, was found dead beside a .30-calibre rifle in his Mercedes-Benz outside Lithgow and as corporate and police investigators, ASIO and the FBI started investigating the Nugan Hand bank. A coroner founded Nugan had killed himself.

The bank collapsed with debts in excess of $50 million and a subsequent royal commission found evidence of money-laundering, illegal tax avoidance schemes and widespread violations of banking laws.

Over the years, the two words Nugan Hand became shorthand for drug-dealing, gun-running, organised crime and clandestine intelligence activities.

But nobody has been convicted. Governments, security and espionage agencies ran dead or appeared to look the other way.  Many men associated with the bank's affairs in Australia, the US and Asia have died early or in mysterious circumstances.

The most problematic death was William Colby's. Director of the CIA between 1972 and 1976 as the US wound down its involvement in Vietnam, Colby became a legal adviser to the Nugan Hand bank. He was found face-down in the water after leaving his Maryland home on a solo canoe trip in 1996.

Butt thought Hand had been protected since fleeing Australia in June 1980.  "It turns out that the FBI could have dealt with Michael Hand long ago. A simple background check reveals Fuller's social security number is identical to the one allocated to Michael Hand in New York in 1960," he said.

"The fact that Hand has been allowed to live the free life in the United States suggests that he belongs to a protected species, most likely of the intelligence kind. Indeed, an intelligence document I found places Michael Hand back working for the CIA in Central America 18 months after his disappearance."

Butt's previous "big reveal" was in 2006 when his well-watched and Logie award-winning ABC documentary, Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler?, claimed their unsolved deaths on New Year's Day 1963 may have been caused by accidental hydrogen sulphide poisoning from industrial waste that had concentrated in the bottom mud of the Lane Cove River. [Rubbish!  H2S stinks.  People would have run away from it.  The most likely cause of the deaths was complications from using LSD]

While Australian and American authorities failed to find Hand after he disappeared in 1980, Butt hit upon the idea of using the former US Green Beret's most formative experience to track him down.

In 1965, Hand was in a small contingent of Special Forces troops dispatched to Dong Xoai on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In June, Hand's outpost came under fierce Viet Cong attack. This was free-fire warfare without constraint. Only six of the 19 Americans survived. Hand saved four of them. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, America's second-highest bravery award. His chutzpah brought him to the attention of the CIA - out of bullets, Hand ended up in a hand-to-hand combat, during which he killed a killed a number of attackers with a Ka-Bar combat knife.

"Hand now manufactures tactical weapons for US Special Forces, special operations groups and hunters. Many of his weapons are designed to work in the unforgiving conditions of combat and hark back to that Technicolor Kodak moment in the battle of Doing Xoai when Hand used his Ka-Bar knife to rip through the sternum of a Viet Cong attacker before removing the man's head from his body with his bare hands," he said.

"It appears that Hand has spent the last 17 years alchemising that critical, existential moment in his life when a blade honed and sharpened to a micrometre represented the line between life and eternity.

"He now produces tens of thousands of such weapons a year, many of which he exports to countries around the world, including Australia."

On Sunday night, the Nine Network program 60 Minutes, using information provided by Butt, filmed Hand emerging from a pharmacy in his local shopping mall.

Shocked and befuddled, Hand said nothing but drove home and locked himself behind closed doors refusing a request for an interview.

Butt said he would inform the Australian Federal Police and the NSW Police of Hand's new identity and whereabouts.

He said he would also provide authorities with details unearthed during years of research about Hand's criminal deeds, including money-laundering for drug traffickers, tax evasion schemes, gun-running, foreign exchange fraud, false evidence to a royal commission, fabrication of a false passport and false declarations to customs.

"Australians who lost their life savings in the Nugan Hand debacle may wish to see Hand face his day in court, but it would be naive to believe this would come to pass," he said.

"Extradition from the US would require a serious measure of political will. It would also demand answers of our American friends as to why Hand, who had become an Australian citizen, was allowed to settle back into the United States when the Australian police and Interpol were desperately trying to track him down."


Former Labor MP Craig Thomson unable to pay civil fines, Federal Court hears

The real scandal here is that his investigation and trial was derlayed for as long as the Gillard government was in office.  They needed his vote in divisions.  Had he been prosecuted and convicted promptly, the ALP government would have been out of office a couple of years earlier. They therefore made sure that the matter was dragged out for as long as was needed

Disgraced Labor MP and former union leader Craig Thomson has no money and cannot pay any fine that might be imposed in a civil case, the Federal Court in Melbourne has heard.

In September, the court upheld a case brought by the Fair Work Commission against Thomson finding that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in Health Services Union (HSU) funds without its permission.

Justice Christopher Jessup is hearing submissions on what penalty should be imposed.

Some of the money was used on prostitutes, while further funds were spent on staff, sports sponsorship and charitable donations in the lead up to election campaign for the NSW seat of Dobell in 2007.

Thomson was acquitted of the majority of criminal charges on appeal last December.

Despite the acquittals, the Fair Work Commission reiterated last week it was determined to pursue its case.

"I believe it is in the public interest for Mr Thomson to be held to account for his alleged conduct," the commission's general manager Bernadette O'Neill said earlier this year.

"Therefore it is appropriate that I seek to re-enliven these matters and to pursue these alleged contraventions as part of the Federal Court proceedings."

Thomson was the HSU's national secretary from 2002 to 2007.

The court has previously heard Mr Thomson could not afford a lawyer to represent him in the civil trial.


Bill Shorten: `Cleared' not same as ethically right

Judith Sloan

The purpose of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption was not to "get" Bill Shorten.

In fact, when the royal commission got under way, no one even predicted that the Opposition Leader, a former state and national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, would be called to give evidence. The AWU was named as one of the handful of unions to be investigated. But given that the AWU claims to be one of the biggest unions in the country, its inclusion was hardly surprising.

The fact Shorten has now been cleared of any criminal or unlawful behaviour - given the current suite of laws - does not mean that what he did was ethically right.

Nor does it mean that other AWU officials are off the hook.

There is also a possibility that the AWU has violated the Registered Organisations Act by inflating the number of members - think jockeys and net-ballers - something that occurred on Shorten's watch. (More members mean more votes at Labor Party conferences and greater influence in parliamentary preselections.)

One of the extraordinary things is that so many of these former union officials don't think they did anything wrong. Cesar Melhem, who took over from Shorten at the AWU and is now a Labor member of the upper house in Victoria, argued on the weekend that a secret side-payment to the union was fine because it was really members' money.

Unfortunately, that doesn't -explain the secret bit or the need for bogus invoices: training and research that were never -undertaken, advertising space that was never used, ball tickets for balls that were never attended.

We should also expect action to be taken against the company -executives who knowingly participated in this fraudulent activity.

Of course, the real business model of the AWU is that it is not as bad as the CFMEU. The trouble with this pitch, however, is that the AWU has been only too happy to sell its members down the river to bolster the union's fin-ancial and political power. And employers have been complicit in this arrangement.

What the preliminary reports of the royal commission are indicating is that there is a pressing need to change the law.

There is an almost complete lack of accountability when it comes to union officials using members' dues. To the extent that misuse becomes evident, there are few sanctions save in the most egregious cases.

Witness just last week, when we learned that the NSW secretary of the National Union of Workers, among others, had engaged in an extraordinary spending spree on all manner of personal goods and services paid for by his union. And prior to leaving the union, he insisted the union provide him with a deed of indemnity to escape the consequences of the union making any claims on him. This is surely breathtaking stuff.

There is a need for broader law reform, including consideration of introducing US-style anti--racketeering laws. It should be an offence for a business to provide secret payments to unions; it should be an offence for a business to pay the union dues of workers.

It should also be an offence for a union official to prevent a business from securing work when that business does not agree to the union's demands. This behaviour, of course, is aided by compliant businesses - mainly the head contractors in the building industry. They also need to be brought to heel under the law.

It's clear that the industrial -relations club is corrupt to its core on both the union and employer sides. The government should not miss the opportunity to clean up the mess - for the benefit of union members and the public, more generally.


Vic.: "Alternative" school in meltdown

ABOUT a third of students will leave a Reservoir primary school that teaches transcendental meditation amid a host of complaints.

Maharishi School principal Frances Clarke confirmed a third of the school's 97 students would not return in 2016 "for various reasons, not just because they have concerns about the school".

Ms Clarke said the school had hired an education consultant to review all aspects of the school.

The private school, founded in 1996 before moving to Reservoir in 2002, offers daily meditation, small class sizes, no religious affiliation and consciousness-based education.

The student exodus comes as parents voice concerns with a lack of student assessment, poor record keeping and gender-segregated classes.

The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) - the authority responsible for ensuring education meets quality standards - last week confirmed it had received four complaints about the school.

Parent Lefa Singleton Norton said the school's "deeply unhappy parent body" was concerned with a lack of policies and procedures at the school, and a decision to separate some classes by sex.

"Our biggest problem was the gender-segregation stuff, that's kind of where this all started for us, and then it wasn't until trying to deal with those problems that it became apparent just how lax the school was with regards to policies and procedures," Ms Singleton Norton said.

The school recently axed single-sex classes following parent complaints.

One parent, who asked not to be named, said she would not re-enrol her two children after discovering the school had kept little-to-no test or assessment records.

"On the 19th of October I sent the board a formal request saying, `OK, the school claims they've done these tests, the school claims to have a detailed file on my student, I want it by tomorrow'," the parent said. "What I got was just a ramshackle collection of some literacy assessments and no maths assessments.

"Her (maths) workbook was almost entirely unmarked for the first two semesters of the year."

The principal, Ms Clarke, said she was "disappointed" the student in question's workbook had not been marked for "about four months".

She said the school had held a public meeting, reinstated the Parents and Friends Association, and was working through the constitution and taking on board what parents' concerns are.


9 November, 2015

Funding isn’t everything when it comes to improving school results

As the U.S. example also shows

The Mitchell Institute report published last week showing wide disparities in educational outcomes and attainment among Australian students could not have come at a better time for the ‘I Give a Gonski’ campaign.

The report provides new data confirming what is already well-known – students from low socioeconomic backgrounds on average start school developmentally behind their more advantaged peers, have lower literacy achievement, are less likely to complete school or participate in further education, and are more likely to be unemployed.

The report has been widely interpreted as providing undeniable proof that the huge increases in government funding promised by full implementation of the ‘Gonski’ funding model are necessary. Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull is now apparently open to the idea that our children need this massive funding boost for education. Unfortunately, given government debt levels, it will be our children’s children who pay for it.

The ‘Gonski’ funding model is held up as the great hope for Australian education. It is viewed as the result of rigorous research and expert analysis and believed to objectively represent the ideal funding levels that will finally deliver the ultimate educational prize of equity.

If only that were true. The funding model commonly known as ‘Gonski funding’ is really the Better Schools model devised by the last federal Labor government. It is inspired by the model proposed in a funding review by a committee led by David Gonski in 2012 but there are some important differences. The Better Schools model, now rebadged as Students First, is as much a product of political negotiation as educational analysis. The high dollar figures attached to the model represent political decisions: that no school would lose even one dollar of funding in a new model; that the federal government would carry 65% of the extra funding burden rather than the 35% suggested in the Gonksi report; and that the funding would be phased in over 6 years, putting the crunch years outside of both the budget and electoral cycle.

For many people, the integrity and evidence-basis of the funding model is irrelevant. As long as it means more money for their school, they don’t much care. Governments, however, should care. They should be concerned about whether an extra $7 billion dollars a year is necessary to achieve improved educational outcomes or whether a lesser sum would do the job if spent in ways that are likely to have the greatest benefits.

The relationship between funding and achievement is not linear. Funding increases will produce better education only up to a point, beyond which further increases are marginal at best. There are also other factors in play, including the ability of schools to use funding effectively. Some schools have reported improvements in educational outcomes in just one year as a result of the extra money that began to flow into schools in 2014. This is great news for those schools and their students. But funding was not the only thing that changed – schools were also given significant flexibility in how they used the funding. Education unions have been quick to play up the impact of the funding increase but reticent to acknowledge how such results might also support moves to greater school autonomy.

The in-school factors most likely to improve educational outcomes do not require funding increases in the realm of $7 billion a year. Literacy is a perfect example of why large scale studies consistently fail to find a strong positive relationship between expenditure and student achievement. Billions of dollars have been spent on policies and programs to improve literacy in Australian schools over the last decade yet, as the Mitchell Institute report found, 28% or 73,000 Year 7 students still do not meet the minimum benchmark for literacy.

Literacy is the fundamental skill in education; reading ability is strongly associated with every other indicator or measure from school attendance through to employment. Making sure every child in every classroom has evidence-based reading instruction in the early years of school would do more to improve literacy levels than anything else and is less a function of funding than good policy by governments and strong leadership by principals.

The question is not whether school funding should increase in some schools and keep pace with educational demands in others. The question is whether a long-term commitment to the unprecedented funding levels prescribed by the so-called Gonski model can be justified.


Australia Tops Education Marks In Global Prosperity Report

Australia's education system has been ranked the best in the world by a new report into global prosperity.

The Legatum Prosperity Index, assembled by the Legatum Institute, bills itself as "a uniquely multi-dimensional picture of the world’s nations," ranking 142 countries in economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, personal freedom, safety and security, health and social capital.

Australia is ranked seventh in the overall prosperity ranking, but was awarded top marks for education. The education ranking was determined through analysing data around class size, girls to boys enrolment ratio, secondary and tertiary enrolment, perceptions that children learn and satisfaction with educational quality.

Aside from the chart-topping rank in education, the rest of Australia's marks were hardly impressive. Australia ranked fourth in social capital -- which includes volunteering, charitable donations, helping strangers, trust in others and marriage -- ninth in personal freedom and 10th in governance, but failed to crack the top 10 in any other category.

We ranked 12th in economy, 14th in entrepreneurship and opportunity, 15th in health and 15th in safety and security.

Australian ranked seventh overall out of the 142 countries, the third year in a row we have occupied the #7 spot.

The top positions were, predictably, dominated by Scandinavian nations. Norway topped the list, followed by Switzerland and Denmark, but our trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand now occupy fourth spot on the global prosperity index.


Jokey song about boomerangs banned by ABC

We read:

"A 936 ABC Hobart listener complained that an offensive song was played on the Weekends program.

Complaint Finding Status: Upheld against 7.1 ABC Editorial Policies (11 April 2011)

Audience and Consumer Affairs response:

The broadcast of the song ‘My Boomerang Won’t Come Back’ was not in keeping with the ABC’s editorial standards for harm and offence; there was no editorial justification for playing it.  The song was not on a regular ABC playlist but was aired because it was requested by a listener.  This error was due to staff not being familiar with the track’s lyrics.  The ABC apologised to the complainant, removed the track completely from the system and took steps to ensure that this would not happen again."

The song was actually written by an Englishman and there is virtually nothing authentically Aboriginal in it.  It is just a bit of imagination.  Listen to the song below:

The full words are here:

An excerpt:

"My boomerang won't come back
My boomerang won't come back
I've waved the thing all over the place
Practiced till I was black in the face
I'm a big disgrace to the aborigine race
My boomerang won't come back"

ALP's memory loss

Michael Potter

Those of us with long enough memories will remember the ALP carrying on at great length in the years around 2002 that the Howard government was the "highest taxing government in Australia's history". Unfortunately enough, it was true.

Imagine, therefore, my surprise when I saw that Anthony Albanese, a Shadow Minister, arguing on Friday that Howard "spent" too much money on tax cuts.

The gall of it was astounding. Not only did it contradict the arguments of the ALP at the time, it also contradicted the arguments of Craig Emerson as recently as 2011 that taxes were at record highs under Howard. And of course, it murdered the definition to talk of tax cuts as "spending".

Mr Albanese was arguing that some of funds that were "spent" on tax cuts instead should have been spent on infrastructure. Great idea. What we really need is more A-class infrastructure such as the ALP's pink batts, the Coalition's Alice to Darwin railway, the Magnesium smelter near Rockhampton (remember that one?) - funded by both the Coalition and the ALP - or the ALP's National Broadband Network with net costs that are $22 billion more than the market-based alternative.

If this wasn't enough, on Monday we had Tony Burke, the Shadow Finance Minister, arguing  that current tax levels are currently too low compared to 2002. We've been over this territory before: comparisons can easily be made to any year; my suggestion is to compare to 2011: if we do this, we must have a tax cut of $40 billion.

Mr Burke was also contradicting the many arguments by his party that taxes were too high in 2002.

Instead of this nonsense, if we are to compare tax levels, they should be done to averages across years, and on that basis the current tax level is well above the 10 year average and about equal to the 20, 30 and 40 year average.

In truth, the ALP was on a winner with its earlier arguments that taxes were too high in and around 2002. They should stick to that argument and not try to put it into the memory hole.


Australia plans for Asian 'dining boom' as food exports surge

A falling currency and a dry spell in the United States have helped Australian food exports jump by a quarter to an annual $26 billion, an outcome likely to please policymakers eager to find signs of life in non-mining sectors.

Australia has entered its 25th year of uninterrupted growth, but its $1.6 trillion economy has slowed as it shifts from exporting natural resources to other areas such as construction, manufacturing and tourism.

Now the talk is of a "dining boom" for Australian farmers as Asian consumers move up the food chain to more expensive meat and dairy products.

"The Chinese are transitioning from a carbohydrate-based diet to a protein-based one; at present that protein is mainly coming from pigs and chickens, but beef will become increasingly important," agribusiness bankers at National Australia Bank said in a note.

"Dairy also looks set to be a winner, especially if we can replicate the kind of success New Zealand dairy has had in China."

Meat exports alone jumped 43 per cent to $14 billion in the year to June, helped by US production falling because of drought, the Australian Food and Grocery Council said in a report.

The export surge allowed the Australian Agricultural Company , the nation's biggest listed beef producer, to flag a return to profit. The company will post half-year results this month.

The Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates steady earlier this month after cutting them to an all-time low of 2 per cent in May, reducing the foreign exchange value of the Australian dollar.

The steep 15 cent fall in the Australian dollar over the past 12 months has made local producers much more competitive in the global food market.

Recent free-trade agreements signed with China, Japan and South Korea also promise to improve access to Asian markets and reduce tariffs on Australian foods.

Australian wine too has been in demand with annual exports up 18 per cent, according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council report.

Australia's Treasury Wine Estates, the world's biggest standalone wine maker, forecasts the Asian market will be the largest single contributor to its profits by June 2017.


8 November, 2015

Aboriginal and Western ethics collide

Aboriginal ethics are a form of Communism.  They really do practice, "From each according to his ability and to each according to his need". A windfall for one Aborigine does not stay with him alone.  It must be shared with others of his tribe. And a windfall received today is used up today.  There is no sense of saving for the future.  And those ideas are totally contrary to mainstream Western ideas.  Why?

There is mention of it below but in summary, it all goes back to tribal life. Those ethics were logical and served Aborigines well in a tribal state -- when a windfall consisted of catching a large and tasty animal.  You shared your  catch with the rest of the tribe in the assurance that others in the tribe would share their catch with you next time. And in the absence of refrigeration, nothing could be saved for tomorrow so it all had to be used up straight away.

Unfortunately for the do-gooders, the tribal life is quite recent in the Aboriginal experience so they still have the old ethics and attitudes.  So what is described below as profligacy and corruption is in fact by Aboriginal standards right, ethical and proper. 

Giving Aborigines stuff always ends up the same way. It all tends to be glossed over now but the first big example of giving stuff to Aborigines was probably the Lake Tyers experiment in Victoria.  In 1970 a large rural property was handed over to the Aborigines living there in the hope that they would run it as a going concern and become largely self-supporting.  They promptly ran it into the ground and put their hands out for welfare.  They have been wailing ever since about how the white man doesn't treat them right.  And there have been other handovers of rural properties with similar results. Will anybody ever learn anything from such episodes?  Not when policy is formed by urban whites who know nothing about Aborigines

So why is readily available anthropological knowledge about Aborigines ignored?  It is ignored because of the Leftist "All men are equal" gospel.  That Aborigines are different cannot be allowed.   Aborigines must be seen as "just like us only browner".  To say otherwise is to be branded a racist.  So what is on trial in Darwin at the moment is Leftism:  The stupid gospel that Aborigines are the same as us. It is that gospel that has led to the great waste described

What happened to $34 million from Aboriginal fund on Groote Eylandt?  It was millions of dollars in mining royalties that was meant to be spent for the benefit of the Groote Eylandt community.

Instead, tens of millions were spent on 156 cars and boats, fridges, a barge, gambling at the casino and charter flights.

The latest chapter in the extraordinary saga played out in the Darwin Supreme Court on Monday.

The former public officer of Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust (GEAT), Rosalie Lalara, had earlier pleaded guilty to misappropriating almost $500,000. Her bail was revoked and she is now behind bars awaiting sentencing.

A total of $34 million disappeared from the GEAT coffers between 2010 and 2012, leaving just $400,000 remaining in the account.

While Lalara has pleaded guilty to a fraction of the missing millions, exactly what happened to the rest remains a mystery.

But those involved in the case said little of it appeared to have been spent on housing, education or the needs of the community.

Jacqueline Lahne was brought in as the interim operations manager at GEAT when the trust was put into administration in 2012.

"My initial impression was that there was a group of people [on Groote Eylandt] who were literally living like rock stars," she said in an interview with the ABC.

"Chartered planes, vehicles waiting for them at airports, they owned multiple vehicles and boats themselves. They had access endlessly to cash for their lifestyles and then for their families."

Groote Eylandt, a remote island off Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, regularly appears at the top of the Northern Territory's richest postcodes. It earns millions each year in royalties from the nearby South32 manganese mine.

Since its inception in the early 1960s, the trust has earned more than $200 million in royalties.

Lalara told the ABC she is not responsible for all the money that went missing.  "They accuse me of being a thief and I don't steal," Lalara said in an interview with the ABC.

Lalara was the community's go-to person on the trust and said not everyone was happy with the trust's rules on how royalty money should be spent.

"They say, 'Oh, it's our money, you should spend this money on us. Why you keeping the money, what for? It shouldn't be up there in the bank, it should be down here spent'," she said.

Court documents in a separate case allege Lalara was involved in the purchase of 156 cars and boats at a total cost of $5 million.

A barge and real estate in Cairns were also bought with trust money.

The documents alleged cash cheques to a total value of $3.5 million were written from the trust account and fraudulently recorded against funeral costs.

Millions remain unaccounted for due to poor record keeping

In court documents in civil proceedings against Darwin's Skycity casino, it is alleged Lalara gambled more than $1 million of trust money.

"If I had a million dollars would I be gambling it? No, thank you. That is all bad," she said. "We went and bought a whole heap of stuff ... maybe fridges, washing machines, even air conditioners, yeah, beddings, beds, mattresses, yep."

But what exactly has happened to the remaining $33 million is unclear.

Ms Lahne said that many millions remain unaccounted for because GEAT kept poor records. She believes non-Indigenous businesses who preyed on the trust received a large percentage of the missing millions.

"I guess we'd call them carpetbaggers wouldn't we?" she said.  "They're people, or sharks, that prey on vulnerable populations.

"They find that organisations are limited in their governance structures and capacity, they work their way in there."

Court documents alleged one operator who did business with the trust regularly charged 30 per cent commission to the trust.

"Vehicles that had been purchased by the trust weeks before for perhaps $35,000, were sold on for $5,000 or $10,000 in cash," Ms Lahne said.

"So the trust automatically lost a portion of cash and the vehicle disappeared, plates were destroyed, it's gone."

Purchase of cars for teens triggered 'distrust'

Not all of the community were benefiting from the largesse. It was the purchase of cars for kids barely in their teens that caused the community outrage and made them act.

"Thirteen-year-old girls getting bought a car and 15-year-old boys getting a boat," said Keith Hansen, who has lived on the island for 25 years. "That's when the distrust really came into place, when they were buying for a birthday for a 13-year-old girl a flash Ford Falcon sedan."

Groote Eylandters told the ABC that 300 locals confronted Lalara about the trust's finances on the oval in the town of Anuragu in early 2012.  Punches were thrown, the police were called and there were multiple arrests.

On March 12, 2012 more than 500 locals signed a petition which was sent to the Northern Territory Attorney-General, saying "many millions of dollars have been wasted and corruption is rife ... no-one is game to do anything for fear of retribution".

The Government stepped in and a statutory manager was appointed. Ms Lahne worked alongside the statutory manager and said she was "shocked" when she arrived on Groote Eylandt.

"I would have expected with all the years of royalties going into that island to see more supporting infrastructure, better local health services, better support agencies that the trust might be investing in but there was no evidence of that," she said.

But Lalara said she was put under great cultural pressure by beneficiaries to keep buying things for them with money from the trust. "I reckon I was stuck with the two worlds. White-man world, white-man way and blackfella way. And what I was trying to do was to do it our way, and it's not written in the book," she said.

"We try to balance the both sides so it doesn't how you say ... ruin things. But it obviously ruined [things]."

Lalara is angry that the community has not defended her since charges were laid against her in 2013. "The community is the fault and I say they are gutless and they are coward and it's their fault all this happened," she said.

"Now everybody's ... happy sitting behind their cars and steering wheels and that they don't even want to help [me]."


Ex-Labor minister Martin Ferguson calls for more foreign workers in tourism jobs.  Leftist unions aghast

Former Labor minister and union heavyweight Martin Ferguson is pushing for visa changes to allow more foreign workers as a report predicts a "skills drought" across Australia's booming tourism industry.

A Deloitte labour force report, released Wednesday, reveals an extra 123,000 jobs would be required within five years to meet the demands of the rapidly growing sector.

Inbound travel would grow by 6 per cent a year from 2015 until the end of the decade, with the number of international visitors growing from 7.2 million to more than 10 million by 2024, according to the report.

Tourism Accommodation Australia's chairman Mr Ferguson said the findings identified an urgent need for a major lift in local recruitment, and a relaxation of temporary skilled migration rules in the nation's 417 and 457 visa schemes.

"With such an unprecedented pipeline of new hotel development and with record international demand, it will be important for governments to be flexible to allow temporary skilled workers when and where they are most needed," he said.

Australia is undergoing its most rapid period of hotel development, according to the industry group, with more than 70 hotels and 10,000 rooms presently under construction or in advanced stages of planning.

Mr Ferguson, a former Australian Council of Trade Unions president and politician-turned-lobbyist, has recently fallen out with his former union colleagues after making a number of controversial public comments.

In July, the long-time Labor figure was publicly condemned by the party after he campaigned in support of NSW Liberals' plan to privatise power assets, and called for the reinstatement of the hardline construction watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission.


Ill-judged prosecution costs the NSW police over $100,000

NSW Police ordered to pay legal costs to Rickey Caton and Adam Antram over toy dinosaur incident

The police case against Rickey Caton started with a "roaaaar!" when he was forcibly arrested by two officers after jokingly producing a toy dinosaur during a roadside car stop.

But it ended with a whimper on Friday when a magistrate ordered the police force to pay more than $100,000 in legal costs after finding the matter should never have gone to court.

The police are facing even more financial pain over the ill-judged prosecution, with Mr Caton and his mate set to launch a claim for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for assault, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution.

"The [police] proceedings should not have been brought," Magistrate Mark Douglass told Kiama Local Court on Friday, as an inspector from the police force's Professional Standards Command looked on.

"The prosecutor failed to reasonably investigate relevant matters ... which might have suggested that the accused was not guilty."

The magistrate was referring to the evidence of the third officer present on the night of the arrests - Lucie Litchfield - who said that far from assaulting police as her colleagues had claimed, it was Mr Caton and his mates who had been the victims of aggression.

Ms Lichfield said that when police stopped Mr Caton and his mates in Queanbeyan in late December 2013 and asked if they had any weapons, the local father had cheekily pulled out the toy and declared "I've got a dinosaur – roaaaar!".

She said one of the officers, Senior Constable Todd Finnegan, had subsequently forced Mr Caton from the car, pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him. Her other police colleague, Senior Constable Patrick Hicks, had then crash-tackled Mr Caton's friend, Adam Antram into a retaining wall.

The police prosecutors in the case were aware that Ms Litchfield had contradicted her colleagues' version of events, but they failed to question her about it and continued with the prosecution.

On Friday Magistrate Douglass described her evidence as "cogent and compelling".

Ms Lichfield told Fairfax Media that the magistrate's comments had been "extremely satisfying".

"If the police had done their job properly they would have questioned me about my evidence before it went to court," she said.

Ms Lichfield says she was subjected to bullying and isolation at work after blowing the whistle and has since resigned from the force.

Magistrate Douglass upheld the application for legal costs by Mr Caton's barrister, Steven Boland, ordering the police to pay more than $100,000 after finding that the prosecution had been conducted in an "unreasonable manner".

The police had strenuously opposed the costs application.

Mr Caton and Mr Antram are expected to file civil claims next week against NSW Police in the District Court.

Fairfax Media understands the men will claim that the police committed the civil tort of "trespass to a person" during the arrest and then concocted the assault claims in a bid to cover up their behaviour.

The men are expected to allege that police then pursued a malicious prosecution, deliberately ignoring the evidence of Ms Lichfield that contradicted her fellow officers' claims.

Fairfax Media understands that the matter is now the subject of an internal police investigation involving the Professional Standards Command.


National leadership on adoption reform needed

Jeremy Sammut

It is promising that both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Social Services Christian Porter have endorsed the growing calls for greater use of adoption to provide permanent families for the tens-of-thousands of Australian children living in 'out-of-home' care.

While national leadership on adoption reform is welcome and overdue, the difficulty is that child protection is a state government responsibility. The federal government has pledged to raise the issue in future talks with state community services ministers.

The problem here is that state ministers (and their opposition shadows) are creatures of their departments. They defend the virulently anti-adoption attitudes prevalent in child protection authorities, and resist policies that would facilitate more adoptions.

Before entering any talks, the federal government should be aware of the myths and distortions likely to be advanced to justify the status quo.

For example, the states are sure to claim that they are trying to reduce the number of children in care by investing in support services for parents. This is despite that fact that identical 'family preservation' policies have been standard practice for 40 years and have ultimately lead to rising numbers of children entering care after being damaged by parental abuse and neglect.

The states are also likely to claim that adoption is not the solution because there are many older children in care with 'high needs' - abuse and neglect-related developmental, psychological, and behavioral problems - which make them 'unadoptable'. This ignores the fact that most of these children have been damaged by the failures of the system - by prolonged parental maltreatment and by prolonged instability endured when they are churned in and out of care in the name of family preservation.

This is why a crucial feature of adoption reform involves a shift away from the current ideology of removal only as a last resort, and towards ensuring that timely decisions are made about removal and adoption for children who are unlikely to be ever able to live safely with their highly dysfunctional parents.

The best contribution the federal government can make is to force the states to be publicly accountable for their non-performance on adoption. Despite more than 43,000 children living in care nationally last year, there were only 89 children adopted from care - 84 in NSW and just 5 in the rest of the states and territories.

This is why my new book proposes that National Adoption Targets be established to highlight the chronic under-use of adoption in Australia compared to similar countries such as the US and the UK.


6 November, 2015

Corrupt union boss

Union official's corporate credit card was used for 'dating website subscriptions, Tiffany jewellery and a tattoo'

Tiffany & Co jewellery, dating website fees, a tattoo, and other personal benefits which total in the tens of thousands have allegedly been paid for by a union official's corporate credit card.

Almost $700,000 had been used on former National Union of Workers boss Derrick Belan's corporate cards over a period of around six years, a NSW royal commission has heard.

It has not been suggested the entire expenditure is improper, however records show $12,000 had been spent on iTunes purchases and $2,271 on a dating website, while a witness was brought to tears under questioning on Wednesday.

More than $39,000 had been spent on online shopping website Catch of the Day, with purchases including cameras, skateboards, LEGO toys, kitchen appliances, sunglasses, iPads, Easter eggs, makeup, perfume, and Tiffany & Co jewellery.

A tattoo, as well as payments for entertainment, holidays and accommodation appearing to have no connection with union duties were also found in bank records, according to the Counsel Assisting Opening Statement from Sarah McNaughton.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has begun a three-day hearing into the NSW branch of the National Union of Workers.

On Wednesday, it revealed a total of $679,038.95 had been spent on Mr Belan's American Express Corporate Card and Commonwealth Bank Corporate MasterCard between 19 December 2009 and 24 October 2015.

He had resigned from his position two weeks ago, which he had been in since 2001, not long after he was summoned to appear before the commission.

His niece, Danielle O'Brien, had been a union accounts manager, while his brother, Nicklouse Belan, had been branch organiser during periods at the centre of investigations.

Ms O'Brien wept under questioning on Wednesday about holidays, hairdressing and other personal items she bought on her union corporate credit card.

Ms O'Brien said she didn't know why she started buying personal items on her credit card but she had been told by Mr Belan that she could put her iTunes purchases on the card.

The commission heard she spent $75 on hairdressing, $196 for coaching services for her family, $487 on a Central Coast caravan park holiday and $368 on furniture during 2011 and 2012.

'Oh my God, oh this looks bad,' a sobbing Danielle O'Brien said in the witness box as she was presented with thick files detailing spending on a corporate MasterCard she had as accounts manager at the NUW's NSW branch. 'This is just so hard for me.'

Ms O'Brien said she started as a secretary at the union aged 18, straight out of high school, and was fired recently 'because I was using my credit card without permission'. 'I'm so sorry,' she said.

The commission heard she also made purchases on other union officers' corporate cards.

The commission is due to hear from Mr Belan on Wednesday afternoon after Commissioner Dyson Heydon rejected a request for his appearance to be delayed on medical grounds.

The commission is investigating purchases of luxury gifts, dating website fees and holidays on Mr Belan's corporate credit cards.

Counsel assisting the commission Sarah McNaughton SC said the commission will investigate issues 'associated with the financial governance' of the NSW NUW.

Investigators have identified 'a large number of suspicious transactions' and transactions that appeared to be for personal benefit, Ms McNaughton said.

The hearing continues.


Tony Abbott, the 'opinion and thought leader' should stay in Parliament, says Eric Abetz

Former prime minister Tony Abbott should stay in Parliament because he is an "opinion and thought leader," dumped cabinet minister Eric Abetz says.

And Senator Abetz has declared himself the "informal leader of the conservatives in the Liberal party," and says he is ready to serve in Malcolm Turnbull's cabinet should he be recalled to the frontbench.

That prospect however is extremely unlikely. One cabinet source recently told Fairfax Media that one of the biggest payoffs in Malcolm Turnbull's elevation to the prime ministership was ridding the government's frontline of the long-serving conservatives Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz.

But Senator Abetz has told Tasmanian newspaper The Advocate that he would "of course" take a ministry should he ever be offered one but said he was in politics to "serve [and] not to succeed." Liberal sources have told Fairfax Media Senator Abetz has taken his dumping as a senior minister and as the leader of the government in the Senate particularly badly.

Shortly after the leadership spill, Senator Abetz released an email to supporters claiming hundreds had quit in protest against Malcolm Turnbull. This was immediately disputed by the President of the Tasmanian Liberal Party who said only seven paying members had quit while eight had applied to join. Senator Abetz has never provided an explanation for the discrepancy between his claims and the figures provided by the Party's Tasmanian division.

Senator Abetz on Wednesday restated his intention to seek preselection for another six year term which if successful would see his time spent in the Senate stretch to 27 years.

The party's "right", as it is known, has lacked a recognised leader ever since former senator and Finance Minister Nick Minchin announced his retirement in 2010 and has remained splintered ever since his departure in 2011. At least two senators formerly seen as belonging to the right following the emissions trading split within the party in 2009, Mitch Fifield and Scott Ryan, plotted for Mr Turnbull's advancement, to the dismay of Abbott supporters.   

Senator Abetz said Mr Abbott, whom he described as an "opinion and thought leader" should stay in Parliament because he would have an important role in guiding conservative allies in the party.

Mr Abbott has said he will not decide on his political future until Christmas. But he has been seeking the advice of friends and supporters about whether he should stay of go. The advice provided to Mr Abbott is understood to be mixed with some urging him to retire while others, like Senator Abetz, want him to continue serving.


Treasurer Scott Morrison says tax system is ‘retarding’ opportunities

AUSTRALIA’S tax system is “retarding” opportunities and punishing workers, Treasurer Scott Morrison says.

Reiterating previous comments by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Morrison said all tax reform measures — including raising the GST to 15 per cent — were on the table.

But the Treasurer said the government was still in a “discovery phase” and he wasn’t “feeling under any pressure” to put forward a tax reform package anytime soon.

“If you’re going to go and change the tax system you need to I think engage in some pretty significant change because that’s the only way you can go and get the outcomes that people would want,” he told ABC radio. “You’ve got to have a serious package of measures.”

He said the nation’s tax system was “punishing” workers.  “We’ve got a problem with our tax system which is actually retarding growth in our economy and it’s retarding the opportunity for Australians to be in jobs and to work more and to be able to be saving more and investing in new ideas,” he said.

Mr Morrison said state and territory governments were negotiating in “good faith” with the Turnbull Government, but criticised the ALP for refusing to do the same.

“The Opposition has just jumped into bed, pulled the doona over its head and said ‘look no, no, no, no’ and they are just carrying on like a petulant child over this,” he said.

“They should get part of the debate and be part of a change we think could really improve the real outcomes for people in this country through the tax system.”

Shadow Assistant Minister for Education Amanda Rishworth.
Labor MP Amanda Rishworth said the government couldn’t “do everything”.

“What Malcolm Turnbull seems to do is be promising everything to everyone, but of course what we known when it comes to an increases in the GST is that it is regressive,” she told Sky News.

“That it will hit low and middle income earners the most and of course wages are not keeping up.” The said suggestions the changes wouldn’t leave some in the community worse off was “quite frankly mythical”.  “It is the magic pudding solution and quite frankly Labor will stand up for low and middle income earners even if the government won’t,” she said.


Qld. Government ‘didn’t drop the ball’ on child protection, says police commissioner

This was just an attempt to discredit the priorities of the Newman government

ACTING police commissioner Ross Barnett has rejected claims made by the inquiry into child protection that pedophilia was allowed to flourish while officers pursued outlaw bikies.

Mr Barnett today said the total number of officers involved in child protection investigations had grown by 73 across the state after the bikie taskforce “Maxima” was established.

He said a further nine officers had also been added to the specialised pedophile unit Taskforce Argos over the same period.

“I would say there was a little disappointment that the perception was in the child protection area that we had dropped the ball or lost our focus,”

“That, in our view, is clearly not the case.  “It is certainly not supported by the growth in those areas.  “We take child protection, as the government does, extremely seriously.”

Mr Barnett’s comments came as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced $3.2 million not used by the controversial organised crime inquiry headed by Michael Byrne QC would be funnelled into fighting child exploitation.

Ms Palaszczuk said she would not direct police to divert funding from tracking down criminal motorcycle gangs because this was an operational decision.

The Premier says an extra $3.2 million will be given to police to investigate child abuse and exploitation.

Ms Palaszczuk announced money left over from the Commission of Inquiry into Organised Crime would be given to officers to tackle the issue which the inquiry found had flourished because resources had been directed towards fighting bikie gangs.

“This is about an additional injection of funds into child exploitation investigations, which the Commission of Inquiry makes clear is required,” the Premier said.

Ms Palaszczuk said this was just a first step and she, along with Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath and Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller, would look closely at the other 43 recommendations in the report.

That includes looking at how other areas could be better tackled including financial and drug crimes.


5 November, 2015

Behold a silly little lady who has drunk the Kool-Aid

The article below appeared in "New Matilda" under the heading: "Coal Moratoriums As A ‘Radical War On The Poor’. They’re Only Half Right".  It was written by a piece of furniture named Hilary Bambrick, who is allegedly "Chair" of Population Health at the School of Medicine at Western Sydney University.  Professor Bambrick was one of a group denounced by "The Australian" newspaper after she signed an open letter calling for no more coalmines. The original letter was signed by 61 people and it appears that the criticism of their ideas abashed 60 of them. Hilary is still standing, however so I am pleased to give you her attempt at scholarship below.

It is a curious thing:  100% assertion.  No proof or evidence offered. No links; no references.  She has faith and expects all others to share it.  And she feels no need to address obvious criticisms.  Winter is when most people die but she says it is warming that is bad for your health. She ignores total mortality in judging the effects of warming! 

And she attributes recent bad weather events to global warming when even Warmist climate scientits shrink from doing that.  And the events CANNOT in fact be due to global warming -- because there has been no global warming for 18 years.  The satellites are the only way of obtaining a truly global temperature reading and for the last 18 years they just show random fluctuations around a constant mean. Here's the graph:

And even the terrestrial datasets show no statistically significant global temperature change over the last 18 years. That KoolAid must have tasted great!

She should become a Jehovah's Witness.  You have to have a strong faith to be a JW and her faith is Herculean.  One quails before the thought of her as a medical researcher, however.  Though she would not be the only medical researcher who believes that correlation is causation.

Isn't she a cute-ums?

On Tuesday last week an open letter called for a global moratorium on new coal mines. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hurriedly dismissed the call as ineffective in reducing emissions, and The Australian accused those who signed the letter of waging war on poor people. This could not be further from the truth.

The letter was signed by 61 people, or ‘coal haters’ as The Australian called us. I am one of them, and here is why.

The planet has warmed nearly 1°C and we’re already seeing the effects. We’re heading into a ‘Godzilla’ El Nino; California is suffering unprecedented drought; Mexico just had a narrow escape from the world’s strongest ever hurricane, and the Pacific has had many more super typhoons than is fair.

We’re now having to construct new scales for measuring and reporting the weather because what we are seeing is outside previous human experience. We’ve added a ‘Catastrophic’ level to bushfire danger ratings, and a new colour to weather maps to depict regions over 50°C. And that’s only at 1°C warming – nowhere near the 4°C we are currently on track for by the end of this century.

As humans we’re not isolated from our environment. Through its effects on water, food, and air, climate change alters the relationship between us and our life-support system.

The health consequences of climate change are many, for example: Deaths and injury from heatwaves, flooding and bushfires; mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue; or those arising from food insecurity and conflict.

In Australia, we’re relatively well resourced to deal with climate change. We’re healthy, we have robust emergency response and health systems and we can add a tax levy to rebuild after major flooding, for example.

But climate change is not fair, and other countries are not so lucky. Poverty, poor health, ecosystem degradation, and limited infrastructure and services render some populations extremely vulnerable and diminishes their capacity to adapt.

The worst consequences of climate change fall disproportionately on the world’s poor. Already marginal regions will become decreasingly hospitable, and those living there are least able to adapt.

Climate change acts against economic development, and will keep vulnerable people in poverty and exacerbate existing health and economic inequalities.

The health consequences that are easiest to measure, such as deaths from the recent Middle East ‘heat dome’ or even Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, are not the biggest impacts in terms of numbers of people affected. The biggest impacts will be those that are least direct, and more complex, such as:

Repeated crop failures triggering famine

Sea level rise contaminating water supplies, and even consuming whole countries

Wars and civil unrest over increasingly scarce resources

Forced migration and deaths at sea

As with public health more generally, prevention is far simpler and cheaper than cure. We’ve known for decades what’s causing the earth to warm, and we’ve known for decades what we should do about it.

There is no ‘moral case’ for continuing to dig up, use and export coal, as Australia’s Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg would have you believe. But there is a very strong moral case against it: Coal kills people.

We have healthy energy alternatives, and we don’t have to wait years to reap the benefits. Quitting coal this morning means cleaner air and better health this afternoon. It’s as simple as that.

These are exciting times. There’s real momentum for change. New polling shows six out of 10 voters in Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate support a moratorium on new coal mines. The divestment movement shows us that, ultimately, market forces will prevail and coal and gas will become untenable. But we can’t afford to wait. Some nudging is required now to get investment in renewables happening sooner, to promote faster returns and drive technological development.

Australia is very well placed to lead clean energy technology, but we risk missing the boat on innovation. Instead we seem hell bent on propping up a withering coal industry, de-funding clean energy technology and running interference with endless reviews into wind farms.

Rather than continuing to subsidise the problem, let’s subsidise the solution.

If politicians worried about the health and livelihoods of the people they govern as much as they worry about the ‘health’ of the economy in the coming financial quarter, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

The signatories to the letter have been labelled as radicals, and perhaps that is true. Certainly the decision to place the value of human health and wellbeing – and that of the planet on which we depend – above short-term economic growth requires heretical thinking. But most of all it requires politicians with the vision to lead this great transition.

Coal is so last century. It’s high time we quit.


‘Tis the season for all that global warming folly

Janet Albrechtsen

With the UN climate summit in Paris due to start later this month, the global warming silly season is well under way.

This week France’s popular weatherman Philippe Verdier was sacked by a French TV station for writing a book that challenges some scientists for inflating the effects of global warming. The UN gabfest, or COP21, is aimed at securing agreement from countries with vastly different levels of development, from the prosperous West to fast-growing economies in China and India, to less developed in Africa, to restrict global temperature rises to 2C. It’s a big ask, which may explain why the madness started even before Verdier was sacked by France 2.

Addressing a September conference in London on climate change and international law, Philippe Sands QC called for a ruling from the International Court of Justice to “scotch” claims by “scientifically qualified, know­ledgeable and influential individuals” who challenge the “consensus” on man-made global warming.

Are we re-entering the Middle Ages where you were treated as a traitor if you mentioned that the king might be dying — even if he was?

More recently, the future king of England, Prince Charles, repeated his favourite claim that the Paris conference was our “last chance” to draw up a “Magna Carta for the Earth”. Charles is no King John. But, equally, Charles seems to have scant understanding of the real Magna Carta, a document that aimed to curb the powers of the king. Charles and his global warming enthusiasts now want a treaty that will deny countries such as China and India the ability to do what rich nations have done — use readily accessible and cheap carbon energy to build prosperous economies.

Here in Australia, just as the Prime Minister turned 61, 61 so-called “eminent” people signed an open letter calling on Malcolm Turnbull to put a moratorium on coalmining and new mines. That went nowhere. It was easily demolished when Turnbull said shutting down our coal industry would make zero difference to ­global emissions.

And if every silly season has a Santa, [Leftist leader] Shorten is  it. More and more, the Opposition Leader resembles a second-rate actor who has assiduously studied a set of lines but hasn’t managed to inject any conviction into the role. This week Shorten has been on “a fact-finding mission” to the Pacific ­Islands. Translation: the Opposition Leader thinks he can use global warming to dent Turnbull’s popularity.

Shorten’s core problem begins with his role in past policy. Shorten rode the Kevin ’07 wave into office when Labor’s position was that global warming was the great moral challenge of our time and required an emissions trading system. As a senior minister, he then backed Rudd’s change of heart to dump the ETS. Shorten was a critical backer of Julia Gillard, when Labor’s new position was “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”. He was there too when Labor signed a deal with the Greens to legislate a carbon tax.

Shorten’s shadow boxing was evident as soon as Turnbull became PM. Labor’s attacks on Turnbull’s wealth served only to remind voters we have a PM who was highly successful before he entered politics and understands business. It makes a refreshing change from the career politicians who have never worked in the real world.

With the COP21 summit fast approaching, Shorten is now desperate to make climate change a positive for Labor. But, once again, his problem is one of believability. No one can question that Turnbull genuinely believes in the human drivers of global warming. It drives his critics mad and weakens the knees of his admirers.

Shorten’s history, on the other hand, is replete with stark episodes of him making statements thrust into his hands by spin doctors and pollsters. There’s no detail on the Opposition Leader’s uncosted “aspirational” 50 per cent renewable energy target. Nor has Shorten told us what Labor’s emissions target would be if he were the PM heading to Paris. A four-day visit to our Pacific neighbours does nothing to build Shorten and Labor’s credentials.

The hyperbole around global warming, Magna Cartas, last chances and moratoriums on coal will only ratchet up over the next few weeks. But the hyperbole won’t alter Turnbull’s commitment to take the Abbott government’s policy of a 26 to 28 per cent emissions reduction target on 2005 levels by 2030 to Paris.

None of it will alter the fact, while China and India will happily extract money from the West’s promised $US100bn Green Climate Fund, they won’t agree to a deal that curbs their emissions, and therefore their economic growth. China is building a new coal plant every seven to 10 days and has plans to boost its coal power by 50 per cent by 2040; India is intent on doubling its coal production by 2020.

In other words, none of the hype will deliver a meaningful treaty at the Paris gabfest that is legally binding, enforceable and verifiable. Unless you believe in Santa.


Kiwi criminals who won't go home harshly treated

But one must allow for Leftist exaggeration

A Labour MP has told the New Zealand parliament Kiwis are being locked up, beaten and starved in a harrowing account of the way their citizens are being treated in Australia.

Kelvin Davis last month visited detention centres including the notorious Christmas Island facility, where about 40 Kiwis were being held awaiting deportation.

Australian authorities are rounding up and deporting non-citizens who have served more than 12 months in prison.

"These people are being locked up, they're being beaten up and they're being starved," Mr Davis said.

"The conditions are tantamount to torture and it's happening in Australia, a country we say is our closest ally."

Mr Davis said the offences committed by detainees he met were at the lower end of the scale.  "I know they went to prison, they committed crimes, but they ought not to be punished twice," he said.

"They don't deserve to be picked up as they leave prison and detained indefinitely. Some have been detained for longer than they were in prison."

A fortnight ago, Justice Minister Amy Adams said 167 New Zealand nationals had already been sent home and 585 were waiting to be processed.

Prime Minister John Key last month met his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, and discussed the issue.

Mr Turnbull gave an undertaking there would be a more compassionate approach, and said any detainee was free to return to New Zealand while contesting a decision to cancel their visa.


Australia's fundamentals robust enough to beat the recession odds

The economy is a dangerous place — at least as perceived by some commentators. The list of tripping points that could push the economy into recession tallied by these commentators is long and varied. Some put recession odds as high as one-in-three. Even a Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman, has bought into the debate.

The reality is that Australia has clocked up 24 four years of continuous growth. The last recession was in the early 1990s. Events that were widely expected to deliver recession — the Asian financial crisis, the tech wreck, the global ­financial crisis — didn’t.

The old financial adage that past performance is no guarantee of future returns still holds good. But there are factors at work limiting recession risks. And some of the arguments for recession look weak on closer examination.

Policy settings are very accommodative and the automatic stabilisers are working. The Reserve Bank routinely notes that low interest rates are supporting borrowing and spending and that the availability of credit is not a constraint. The Australian dollar may have taken longer to adjust than expected. But monetary conditions overall are very stimulatory and consistent with a sizeable lift in economic growth momentum.

And policy firepower remains. Our interest rates are well above the near-zero settings in the major economies. They can be cut further. The budget is in deficit but debt is low and fiscal policy can be ramped up. The Aussie dollar would move lower still if a major China/global shock emerged.

The immediate growth concern is the mining construction downturn. The biggest construction boom in 150 years is over. And mining capex will drop by between 3.5 and 4 per cent of GDP by the time the cycle is complete. It is at least as big a drag on the economy as the feared US “fiscal cliff” was a few years ago. But the earlier boom will leave a legacy. The expansion in the mining capital stock is driving a new boom in ­resource exports. These exports will provide a cushion at the ­bottom of the mining capex cliff.

There is also a perception the capex cliff still lies in front of us. And that we will be swept off at any moment. The reality is that mining capex peaked at the end of 2012. The decline is about 2 per cent of GDP. On that metric we are about half way down the cliff.

And it is a case of so far, so good. Economic growth may not be as fast as we would like. But it remains comfortably in positive territory. Job losses are occurring. But they are being offset by job gains elsewhere. The unemployment rate looks to be peaking at just over 6 per cent — sooner and lower than many anticipated. Good old-fashioned Australian luck has helped. We have “exported” part of our problems. The capex boom came with a large import bill. As mining projects wind down, part of the pain is being exported to those countries that provided us with the necessary capital goods. On the jobs front, fly-in fly-out workers are losing their jobs in the Pilbara. But they are becoming unemployed in Sydney and Melbourne where they live. And that is where the job creation is occurring. We are also exporting part of the problem as those on 457 visas move on to the next big project and New Zealanders return home.

But we will need more than luck. We must transit to other forms of growth. Construction is the focus. And unfortunately the results are mixed. A residential construction boom is under way. But non-mining construction ­activity has remained limp. And the drop in public infrastructure spending in recent years is nothing less than disappointing.

Non-mining capex and infrastructure spending may have disappointed for now. But some parts of the economic story that weren’t in the transition narrative may surprise on the upside. Non-­resource exports and the consumer may fill in some of the hole.

The number of exporters doesn’t normally vary much from year to year. But there was a ­significant spike in the 2014 financial year. The spike is all the more interesting because it occurred at a time when the Australian dollar was still strong. The larger part of the drop in the currency has ­happened since then and should push the export trend along.

It seems the Australian dollar was not as big a restraint on the economy as policymakers feared. Non-resource exports may surprise on the upside.

Weak income growth and changed household attitudes to spending/saving/borrowing were expected to weigh on consumer spending. But an array of forces is improving the consumer backdrop. There is a spending flow through from building new homes; there is a wealth effect from higher house prices, the lower dollar is redirecting some spending back onshore and lower petrol prices are boosting spending power. Consumer spending may surprise on the upside.

An expanding group of middle-income consumers in Asia is ­providing further opportunities. These new consumers want larger and better quality housing, more and better quality food, consumer durables, education services, and more holidays. Education and tourism already rank in Australia’s top five exports. Asian demographics also involve an ageing population. And older consumers have certain needs: notably health and financial services. These are well developed sectors in the ­Australian economy.

Australia’s experience in these areas means we are well placed to take advantage. The opportunities are there for those who want to take them.


4 November, 2015

The cup

Once again I watched the Melbourne cup along with most of my fellow Australians. And it was exciting as ever, with a huge change in ranking at the last minute.  And it was a 100 to 1  outsider that came forward at the last moment to win.  Big Orange led for most of the way and would have looked a cert for anyone unfamiliar with cup runs.  It fell right back at the end, however.  And the winner, Prince of Penzance, was a New Zealand horse ridden by a female jockey, the first female jockey to win a Melbourne cup. 

New Zealand horses often do well but this horse was originally bought for only $50,000 so is still a huge surprise. The owners were six mates. Describing themselves as “small fry owners", the men decided to pool their cash and buy a nag they hoped might win at a country meeting. They probably backed their own horse at 100 to 1 so will be rich men now.

I drew the favorite in a sweep but none of the three I drew got anywhere.  But Tom Waterhouse also got it wrong so I am in good company.

The ever immaculate Tom with wife Hoda, a lady of Iranian origins

And a home-made dress won the Fashions on the Field competition

28-year-old Emily Hunter wore an outfit run up by her mother.  She is now in line for some very rich prizes, worth around $100,000 all up.

I can't myself see what was good about the winning outfit but what I know about fashion would fit on the back of a small postage stamp.  I do note however that the winning outfits over the years have tended to be fairly conservative

Australia has a greater percentage of foreigners but less xenophobia than the US. What is its secret?

Australia has control over its borders and filters who comes.  When that faltered, there was rage

Why is there no mop-haired demagogue in Australia denouncing immigrants as rapists?

After all, if America's excuse is anxiety caused by a flood of incoming foreigners, Australia should be twice as anxious. In the US, 14 per cent of the population was born elsewhere, near the record of 15 per cent reached a century ago. In Australia, more than a quarter of the population is foreign-born, and some 46 per cent have at least one foreign-born parent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Yet both main parties, the centre-right Liberals and left-leaning Labor, are committed to continued immigration. Politicians who seek to whip up or exploit anti-immigrant prejudice are relegated to the fringe. Is there some secret sauce whose recipe the US could copy?

First, a few caveats. One week Down Under does not quite qualify me as a full-fledged Australianist, but it is long enough to learn that this nation of 23 million people is not a race-blind paradise.

Successive waves of immigration have each aroused anxiety among some Australians that the newcomers would never fit in: Greeks and Italians in the 1950s, Vietnamese in the 1970s, Chinese, Indians and Middle Easterners today. People fret over crime and worry that newcomers segregate themselves in suburban enclaves.

Everyone swears fealty to the national ideal of "multiculturalism", but beneath the surface there is profound disagreement over how much assimilation is desirable. Meanwhile, the captains of industry and government remain mostly Anglo (and male). And a sizeable share of immigrants continue to come from New Zealand and Britain; the country as a whole remains overwhelmingly white.

Still, given that the White Australia Policy was official until the early 1970s, acceptance of a world in which Chinese and Indians represent the fastest-growing groups of immigrants would strike anyone escaping from the GOP primary debates as remarkable.

Paul Kelly, a leading historian and political analyst with the newspaper The Australian, explained that the nation as a whole realised after World War II that it had to "bulk up" its population if it was to defend itself in a dangerous world. Seven million people in a nation the size of the continental US wasn't enough – and when it became clear, with time, that Britain couldn't furnish enough immigrants, "the White Australia Policy buckled, surrendered and was abolished".

"It was a deliberate, bipartisan decision," Kelly told me. "We had to embark on this immigration project to make the nation tenable and viable."

A second critical factor has been Australia's ability to decide who gets in. "The island culture is fundamental," Kelly said. "We control our destiny."

Australia has consistently been a leader, in per capita terms, in accepting refugees from conflict zones. But in 2001, when people from Afghanistan and elsewhere started turning up as boat people, it challenged Australia's sense of control and became "a very traumatic issue", Kelly said.

A conservative prime minister decreed that no boat people would be admitted and was excoriated by human rights advocates. A Labor prime minister in 2007 reversed that call, but when leniency seemed to encourage more and more arrivals – some 30,000 over several years – the nation returned to a no-entry policy. Quickly the boats stopped coming.

Understandably, a policy of turning back asylum seekers at sea continues to disturb many Australians. But Tom Switzer, a conservative commentator and research associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney (which was also my host last week), argues that the tougher policy was not only more humane – because so many migrants were drowning during the years of laxer control – but also essential to preserving public support for legal migration.

"Strict controls help damp down xenophobia, and ensure that decent treatment is given to those seeking the nation's hospitality," Switzer wrote recently in the Spectator.

In Europe, a sense of helplessness does seem to be fuelling xenophobic political forces. A senior German official recently told me that the hundreds of thousands of migrants pressing to enter represent the greatest challenge to the continent since World War II. One reason, he said, is the feeling of being out of control; bordering nine nations, Germany seems challenged to define any terms of entry.

The same logic has helped shape US immigration policy under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom have emphasised border security, deportation and other enforcement measures in part to lay the political groundwork for humane immigration reform. The policy has been successful in tamping down illegal immigration, and maybe also in shaping public opinion; polls show a majority of Americans, and even of Republicans, favour a path to legalisation for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, rather than the mass deportation Donald Trump advocates.

Sadly, though, the enforcement success has yet to produce any Australian-style bipartisanship on this issue out of Republican members of Congress or presidential candidates. If there's a recipe for that, no one here has shared it with me.


International Baccalaureate exams begin in Australia and around the world

It is the exam so secret that not even teachers know what it contained until a day after students put down their pens.

Tamper-proof packaging, investment bank-style encryption and invigilators are all part and parcel of the International Baccalaureate, which began around the world on Tuesday.
"A bit of banter between the groups," says Alexandria Smith, left, with Annabelle McMahon.

"A bit of banter between the groups," says Alexandria Smith, left, with Annabelle McMahon. Photo: Janie Barrett

At St Paul's Grammar in Cranebrook, two-thirds of the year 12 cohort took the IB over the HSC this year but, unlike their HSC classmates, none of them could talk about the English exam they had just finished.

Globally, 77,000 students from 400 schools in 148 countries take the transnational certificate that is an alternative to the HSC.

The worldwide nature of the examinations means that students must wait 24 hours before discussing the tests with anyone.

It is a longer wait than most for Australian pupils, who are some of the first in the world to hear the examiner call "pens down" at 11:30am.

"It gives me time to make peace with myself," said 17-year-old Annabelle McMahon. "It's better for me because I get really nervous when I ask people about the exam."

Annabelle's St Paul's classmate, Alexandria Smith, echoed her sentiments. "I'm more happy not knowing anything. We can't improve it now. It is just more stress."

Along with 60 of their classmates and more than 350 other NSW students, the pair will sit up to 12 exams between now and November 24, almost twice as many as their HSC counterparts.

Overall, there are more than 80 IB exams in subjects as diverse as global politics, philosophy, English and maths, with a curriculum that focuses more on breadth than specialisation and has a compulsory community service component.

The IB diploma goes for two years compared to the HSC's one.

"You can be tested on day one of year 11," said Alexandria.

The teenagers said that finishing their IB almost a month after the majority of the rest of state's year 12 students was worth the wait.

The last of the state's 77,000 HSC students will finish their HSC exams when  the Visual Arts exam concludes at 3:30pm on Wednesday.

"There is always a bit of banter between the groups," said Alexandria. "We have had six weeks to prepare and be better equipped for our exams."

"For our HSC friends we are a bit jealous that they do get to go on to holidays now, but my HSC friends said I'm going to be jealous of your ATAR'."

Last year Australian students dominated the International Baccalaureate exams, performing well above the global average and claiming a high proportion of the top marks despite the relatively small cohort.

Overall they made up 10 per cent of the top scores, despite accounting for less than 3 per cent of all students.

The national average of 34.22, which equals an ATAR of more than 90, was well above the global average of 29.95.

Antony Mayrhofer, the Director of Learning Services at St Paul's, said that the IB was becoming increasingly popular as an accreditation for Australian universities.

"But there is not a huge jump into the IB diploma in NSW," he said. "One reason is because the HSC is such a strong credential".

The IB continues on Wednesday with Economics, English and Classical languages. 

The HSC finishes with Visual Arts, Food Technology, French Extension and Modern Greek Extension.


Wowser redux

Ever read a news article that seems to be from an alternate universe? The Guardian's coverage of a recently FOI-ed government report on alcohol advertising felt like that.

For good reason: The 'shelved report' in question was produced by the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, which was abolished over a year ago. ANPHA was finalising the report when the Abbott government pulled the plug.

By writing up the story now, the Guardian is giving us a glimpse of an alternate universe where ANPHA was never abolished.

The report's headline recommendation is that alcohol advertising, which is already heavily restricted, should be banned from one of the few occasions where it is still permitted: daytime sporting events that are broadcast live during weekends and public holidays.

Why? Because "exposure to alcohol advertising .... influences adolescents' awareness of alcohol brands and their readiness to adopt alcohol consumption as a normal activity."
Is alcohol consumption not a normal activity?

More importantly, if this purported brainwashing is so harmful to adolescents, then why has the proportion of 12-to-17-year-olds who abstain from alcohol gone up since 2010, from 64% to 72%?

The dressed-up wowserism in this report is a perfect demonstration of why the Abbott government was right to abolish ANPHA and entrust preventive health policymaking to the Department of Health instead. Ideologically motivated semi-science like this does not deserve a government imprimatur.


3 November, 2015

Refugee advocates do more harm than good

Refugee advocates and other green-Left activists will say and do anything to inflame emotions and inject political acrimony into the border protection debate. Their sanctimony eclipses their respect for the facts.

They protest and denounce their government as heartless. They tweet about the racism and selfishness of their fellow Australians. They denounce Nauru and Papua New Guinea in terms that, in other debates, would be deemed patronising if not racist (Radio National commentator Paul ­Bongiorno this week referred to Nauru as a “prison island aka a guano heap”).

Five years ago, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young (who is one of the secular saints of this ­brigade) issued a press release about the unfolding tragedy of an asylum-seeker boat crashing against the rocks of Christmas ­Island (48 were killed) and a few hours later tweeted about watching a band at a pub. This is moral slacktivism writ large.

Another in this communion is Melbourne lawyer Julian Burnside, whose words summarise the twisted politics and derisory view of others within this group. “Stop the Boats policy causes terrible harm to boat people and Australia’s reputation,” tweeted Burnside, “but harnesses xenophobia for political gain.”

It would be difficult to conjure a more superficial view of a serious problem or a more miserable misreading of our national culture.

These compassionistas are not harmless. Back in 2008 Labor and the Greens bowed to the humanitarian hubris and abolished Australia’s strong border protection measures. This triggered a people-smuggling revival, leading to 1200 deaths as more than 800 boats and 50,000 asylum-seekers crossed dangerous waters.

A similar but greater tragedy has unfolded in Europe this year — more than 700,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in the EU, mainly via Mediterranean ­crossings, and more than 3000 have died.

Yet even after seeing what unfolded on our shores, the compassionistas cheer them on. When Tony Abbott spoke in London this week about this diabolical ­dilemma — how open borders could lure tens of millions from South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East — the response was hateful.

Abbott talked frankly about how protecting refugees and ­making their homelands safe was the only sustainable solution. He warned that welcoming unlimited numbers of refugees and economic migrants could undermine the very qualities that make ­European nations desirable destinations. This is what serious politicians need to do — explain hard choices.

“This is so utterly appalling, Tony Abbott,” tweeted human rights lawyer Sarah Joseph. Former Liberal, Democrats and ­WikiLeaks party member Greg Barns tweeted about “Abbott’s racist rant”.

The greatest chutzpah came from Kevin Rudd’s former press secretary, Lachlan Harris, with “What a very small man.” Never mind that Rudd’s policies, designed to appear generous and worldly, actually delivered misery and death.

By referencing the Christian ethos of “love thy neighbour” ­Abbott opened himself up to a simplistic morality play. The ABC’s Julia Baird suggested this maxim should be applied in an “unlimited” fashion. Fairfax Media’s Waleed Aly said Abbott’s approach was the kind reached when “deep down, the actual lives of people in far-off lands barely feature in your moral calculus”.

This moral superiority is coming from people who advocate policies that inevitably lead to chaos, criminal smuggling operations and innocent deaths. Taken to its logical extension, the unrestrained compassion urged by such commentators would be the ruin of Europe with the influx of millions of dependent people.

And it would surrender the countries from which people are fleeing — Syria, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan and others — to barbarous vandals and ­dysfunction. This approach wouldn’t show much love to your neighbours in Hamburg, Milan or Amsterdam, nor would it do much for your neighbours left behind in Aleppo, Tripoli or Kabul.

Politicians have to make decisions and implement policies that will protect and enhance the lives of their constituents. When they are successful they can — as Western countries such as ours always do — extend generosity beyond their shores through aid and other support and through generous immigration programs.

To hatefully condemn people who deal in these realities as somehow morally inferior is, in fact, an act of prejudiced immorality and hypocrisy. If the compassionistas had their way, tens of thousands more in Australia would be in detention, hundreds more would have died and we could not possibly have agreed to accept 12,000 refugees from Syria.

The slacktivists excel in smugness and in vitriol thrown at their opponents but they have no real arguments or solutions. When it comes to outcomes, all the results come from the actions of those such as Abbott, Scott Morrison, Julie Bishop and Peter Dutton (and let’s give credit to the belated endorsements from the ALP leadership) who are prepared to soak up ­unconscionable abuse to run effective policy.

Last week in Nauru, I came face to face with those who pay the human price for strong border protection. An Iranian widow cried as she explained her thwarted hopes for her adult son, while he sat between us translating her torment. There was Syrian father Jafar and his five stranded sons, and many others.

We understand boatpeople deliberately tried to buy their way in while others wait forlornly for assigned humanitarian places but we all understand their motivation. None of us could blame anyone from seeking a better life in Australia.

But such feelings of empathy have never been in dispute and don’t provide answers. The issue is how to resolve the dilemma.

The refugees stuck on Nauru and Manus Island are the price we pay for sending a strong signal to the smugglers and potential customers. It is incredibly tough, but the policy outcome is crucial, fair and, ultimately, compassionate.

What those refugees need is permanent resettlement places, somewhere. And the tragic paradox is that the best option effectively has been killed off by the posturing of the compassionistas.

John Howard’s Pacific Solution was made to look and sound tougher than it actually was because in reality, of the 1153 asylum-seekers resettled from Nauru and Manus Island between 2001 and 2008, about 30 per cent went home, 30 per cent to other countries (mainly New Zealand) and 40 per cent came to Australia.

Yes, most of them got to Australia or New Zealand.

Critically, this generous outcome was kept quiet so that it wouldn’t encourage more smuggling. But later, to score political points and justify their ­rejection of offshore processing, opponents put it all up in lights.

“The truth about the Pacific Solution,” Rudd said in the 2013 election campaign, “is that 70 per cent, thereabouts, of those people sent by Mr Howard to Nauru and elsewhere as part of the Pacific Solution, used it as a weigh station and within a couple of years were in Australia anyway.”

This was part of a deliberate campaign to discredit the Pacific Solution.

Ideally, Australia would, again, gradually and quietly, resettle most of the refugees in Nauru and Manus Island on our shores. This would be compassionate and cost effective. And if no one made a song and dance about it, Operation Sovereign Borders wouldn’t be compromised. But in the present climate of confected hysteria, this can’t happen; the compassionistas have made it impossible.

Finding third country options is the critical task — and it is not proceeding well. So refugees will bide their time in the offshore centres for extended periods.

And the slacktivists whose actions have helped create the problem will make wild allegations and complain loudly, apparently ­convinced that if only we were all as compassionate as them, all the problems of the world would ­disappear.


Hizb ut-Tahrir: National anthem is ‘forced assimilation’

Scott Morrison has described speakers at a Hizb ut-Tahrir conference as “clowns” and said they were “no friends” of the Australian Muslim community.

The Islamist activist group told its followers yesterday that Muslims should not have to submit to an oppressive campaign of “forced assimilation” such as singing the national anthem­ or pledging support for democratic values in the citizenship oath.

The call came at a conference in Sydney where Muslims were encouraged to make use of printed material which recommends “refusing to partake in any of the government’s counter-terror­ism programs and initiatives”, and says co-operation with spy agencies “is outright haram (forbidden)”.

The Treasurer said the conference differed significantly to Saturday’s National Mosque Open Day, an initiative that saw mosques open their doors around the country in an attempt to improve social cohesion and break down misconceptions.

“On Sunday we saw no friends of Australia in the way that they were carrying on those speakers, the speaker in particular, and no friend of the Australian Muslim community either. They are no friends of that community, they do them no favours,” Mr Morrison said on 2GB radio.

He praised the Lebanese Muslim Association’s co-founder Samier Dandan and Islamic community leader Jamal Rifi for pursuing the mosque open day event.

“I just wish there was more people like them and not the clowns we saw carrying on on Sunday,” Mr Morrison said.

“When I was at Lakemba (on Saturday) I met a group of people who’d come down from the Blue Mountains, another one that’d come from Manly, other people had come up from the (Sutherland) Shire, they were asking really honest questions, they were getting I think very honest answers.”

Mr Morrison also said attendees at a Shia mosque had expressed their concerns about the Victorian primary school who allowed Muslim students to walk out during the national anthem.

“They were just as mortified and just as embarrassed about that as any of the rest of us would be,” he said.

Anthem is ‘forced assimilation’

Hizb ut-Tahrir speakers told followers at yesterday’s event that Australian Muslims should not have to submit to an oppressive campaign of “forced assimilation” such as singing the national anthem­ or pledging support for democratic values in the citizenship oath.

A slick magazine handed out to the 800 or so attendees recommends exposing ASIO’s “predatory tactics” publicly, because “the best way to send cockroaches scurrying is to turn on the lights.”

The Hizb ut-Tahrir conference held in Bankstown in Sydney’s west, entitled Innocent Until Proven Muslim, was the group’s strongest yet in condemning what it claimed was a brutal campaign by the government and security agencies to oppress Muslims and force them into compliance.

One speaker, Hizb ut-Tahrir figure Wassim Doureihi, said the government attitude was that “you cannot allow Muslims a momen­t to breathe” and raids by security agencies on the Muslim community were designed to “terroris­e its inhabitants” with a policy to “tie their hands, beat them, break their nose” and “all on the basis of nothing”.

Hizb ut-Tahrir describes itself as a global political party whose ideology is Islam.

Its ultim­ate goal is the creation of a caliphate to rule all Muslims around the world according to sharia.

Although former prime minister Tony Abbott promised to “crack down” on the group, which is banned in some countries, it has not been proscribed, and Malcolm Turnbull is believed to side with those in the security establishment who argue it is best left in the open.

Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar told the conference the federal government “claims to afford freedom, but seeks to impose values and beliefs” on Muslims.

This imposition was reflected in the oath when taking out citizenship, he said, with new citizens required to pledge alleg­iance to Australia “whose democratic belief­s I share”. “It’s not enough that you obey the law, no, you have to adopt our values,” Mr Badar told the conference.

Similarly, he said, schoolchild­ren were required to sing the nation­al anthem, which he said “reflects a disputed view of history”. “If you don’t share those values, why should they be forced to sing it?” Mr Badar said.

“It is nothing less than forced assimilation ... sought to be justif­ied by exaggerated fear of a security threat.”

The comments follow a backlash from many politicians and commentators to news last week that the principal of a Victorian primary school had excused Muslim­ students from singing Advance­ Australia Fair.

The conference heard a series of members of the Muslim community, some by prerecorded audio­visual clips and some live from the floor, deliver testimon­ials of what they claimed was oppress­ive behaviour by officials against them as Muslims, at airport­s, in police raids and in high-security prisons.

Among other speakers, British Muslim barrister and broadcaster Ibtihal Bsis, who created controversy in Britain by telling a group of young Muslim women that the Islamic State terrorist group was not really a problem, said in a prerecorded video to Australian Muslims that, when they needed strength, they should “look at your brothers in Syria who stand and fight against an unjust ruler”.


Second rotation of soldiers to Iraq depart Australia

SOME 300 Australian Defence Force members were formally farewelled in Brisbane yesterday ahead of their departure for Iraq under Operation Okra.

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binksin, AC, the Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, DSC, AM, the Commander of the Army's 1st Division, Major General Stuart Smith, AO, DSC; and Federal Member for Ryan Jane Prentice MP, joined families and friends of the ADF members at the farewell parade.

The second rotation of the ADF's Building Partner Capacity contingent, known as Task Group Taji 2, is a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel.

Air Chief Marshal Binskin said the second rotation of Task Group Taji would carry on the important work of the ADF members currently serving in Iraq.

"Our Building Partner Capacity mission is critical to increasing capability across Iraq's security forces and enabling them to take the fight to Daesh.

"Those Iraqis who have completed Coalition-led training programs perform at a higher standard than their peers demonstrating greater skill, confidence and resilience on the battlefield.

"I know the men and women of Task Group Taji 2 will continue to build on the outstanding work of their predecessors in the region," he said.

Lieutenant General Campbell expressed his well wishes for the deploying contingent.

"The soldiers of Task Group Taji 2 will partner closely with Iraqi Security Forces and I am confident they will impart their professionalism, knowledge and skills; underpinned always by our values of courage, initiative, respect and teamwork," he said.

"We wish them all the best with their mission, and importantly, a safe return to family and friends."

The Commander of 7th Brigade, Brigadier Adam Findlay, AM, whose troops make up the majority of the departing force, thanked the families and friends of the deploying personnel for their support.

"This parade is not only about the soldiers. This parade recognises the contribution and support of the families of our soldiers and the broader Brisbane community," Brigadier Findlay said.

"We have spent the last few months conducting training focused on replicating the conditions the troops may face in Iraq. Our soldiers are ready and well prepared for any challenge this deployment may bring."

Commander of Task Group Taji 2, Colonel Gavin Keating, said the aim was to help to empower the Iraqis to shape their own destiny.

"Building Partner Capacity is all about training the Iraqi Security Forces so they can defeat Daesh and achieve peace and stability," he said.

"We are very fortunate to be able to build on the excellent work completed by Task Group Taji 1 and are looking forward to working with our NZDF partners."

Task Group Taji 2 will comprise a headquarters element, training team, force protection and support elements.

Operation Okra is the ADF's contribution to the international effort to combat the Daesh terrorist threat in Iraq.


Busting tax myths of Deloitte

Deloitte Australia's  Mythbusting tax reform report has made a useful contribution to the tax debate, but is misguided in a number of areas.

Deloitte confirms that super tax concessions are nowhere near as large as many commentators argue. I've created an interactive graph that shows the Budget cost of the Age Pension compared with the budget cost of superannuation tax concessions under two benchmarks: the income tax benchmark, and the expenditure tax benchmark.

The natural conclusion of this is that it is unwise to slash these concessions -- but this is what Deloitte is recommending. If there aren't large problems with the taxing of super, then it isn't clear why the system needs as large a change as Deloitte proposes.

Deloitte estimates its changes to the tax on super contributions will increase revenue by $6 billion -- and unhelpfully call this tax increase a 'reform dividend'. A tax impost isn't a reform dividend. Australia gets a reform dividend if growth increases, and large tax increases won't generate this growth.

The Deloitte report usefully busts the myths that negative gearing is a tax loophole that is driving property prices through the roof and (correctly) argues negative gearing shouldn't be removed solely on the basis that rich people are using it.

However there is an inconsistency in the report: it argues the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) discount should be wound back particularly because the discount is more often used by the rich. Consistency would argue that it is poor policy to remove
any tax concession simply because the rich are using it.

Deloitte is also correct in arguing that there should be a CGT discount (to reduce the overtaxation of saving).  But the report does not justify why the current approach is too generous or why their proposed discount of 33?% is an improvement.

Deloitte's report provides some useful analysis for the tax reform debate, arguing that taxes should be lower on saving, and tax rules shouldn't be changed solely because the rules are used by the rich. However, neither of these arguments justify their proposals for changing the tax treatment of super or capital gains. In busting some myths, they have generated some of their own.


2 November, 2015

Australia mulls sending illegals to Kyrgyzstan

The Green/Left call this idea hilarious, absurd, desperate etc.  But why?  Is it because the country is poor?  The Left do not usually mock the poor.  Is it because the Kyrgyz are Muslims?  So what is absurd about sending Muslims to a Muslim country?  Is it because Kyrgyzstan is a long way away?  Hardly.  It is very close to where many of the illegals come from.  If they ever get sent there they could walk home.  So what is it behind the mockery?  It seems clear that the mockery is motivated by unacknowledged racism.  It is the Kyrgyz themselves who are seen as absurd

Australia's government refused to comment on a report Saturday that said it was considering resettling refugees it currently houses on two Pacific islands in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan.

Canberra has made no secret of the fact it is in talks with a number of countries about taking refugees now living in the tiny state of Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus island but did not confirm the Kyrgyzstan option.

"We are having conversations with other countries to support our offshore processing arrangements and when we're in a position to make relevant announcements, the minister for immigration will do so," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News.

The Weekend Australian story, which named no sources, said that majority-Muslim Kyrgyzstan was seen as a potential option for resettling refugees, in particular Hazara people from Afghanistan.

It said other former Soviet bloc countries were also understood to be on the list of options, along with some African and South American states, but named no other country specifically and gave no indication of whether talks were underway.

A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton made no comment on the story but referred to recent statements in which Dutton confirmed discussions with the Philippines and "other countries".

"We have had bilateral discussions with other countries, including the Philippines at an officials level, at a ministerial level over a number of months," Dutton told journalists in Canberra on October 9.

"If we can strike other arrangements with other countries, we will do that, but I won't publicly speculate on it."

Under Australia's hardline policy to stop asylum-seeker boats reaching its shores, those arriving by sea are denied resettlement in Australia even if found to be genuine refugees.

Instead they are turned back to their country of departure or sent to Nauru or PNG where more than 1,500 are now being held.

Australia has already struck an agreement with Cambodia to accept refugees in exchange for millions of dollars in aid but only a handful of people have taken up the offer and the deal has been strongly criticised by rights groups.

The Philippines said Tuesday it was "seriously considering" an Australian government proposal but stressed it would not accept any refugees permanently given its responsibilities to its own people, about one quarter of whom live in deep poverty.

Australia's Greens, staunch opponents of the conservative government's immigration policies, ridiculed the idea of sending people to Kyrgyzstan.

"What next? Are we going to send people to Mars?" leader Richard Di Natale said.

"This is ridiculous that we would look for any option other than the most logical, humane and economically responsible option which is to ensure we process people here in Australia and, if they are found to be genuine refugees, that they are settled here."


A Christian school exercises its freedom of religion

Christian school told homosexual his daughter, seven, could not talk about her parents because they did not want her to 'promote' homosexuality, which is well within the teachings of scripture (See Romans Chaps. 1 & 2, for instance, where Paul condemns Roman sexual practices, including sodomy)

A private school has publicly announced that children of same-sex parents are not welcome to attend, after it was discovered that a Year One pupil at the school has gay fathers.

A school parent is accusing Western Australia's Foundation Christian College of discriminating against his family due to his homosexuality, according to the Mandurah Mail.

Brendan, who would prefer not to disclose his surname, claims the school forbade his seven-year-old daughter from discussing her two fathers or the topic of homosexuality with her classmates.

The Mandurah school principal Andrew Newhouse responded to the controversy by openly confirming that children of same-sex parents will not be allowed to enroll at the Christian school.

Mr Newhouse – a former Family First candidate in the 2013 Federal election – has allegedly accused Brendan of 'fooling' the school during the initial interview and says Brendan's daughter would never have been accepted if they'd known she had two fathers.

The conflict was instigated by a conversation the little girl had with her classmates in which she mentioned she has two fathers, the Mandurah Mail reports.

'(My daughter) got talking about Tony Abbott and gay marriage and mentioned that her dad is with (my partner) and she was shut down by her teacher and then the teacher had to explain to the class what 'gay' is,' Brendan told the publication.

The girl's parents were called into a meeting with the school, who informed the parents that the student could not mention having two dads or broach the topic of homosexuality, as the school doesn't promote 'gay'.

Brendan is living with his male partner while sharing custody of his daughter with his ex-wife, according to the Mandurah Mail.

After another confrontation with the principal, Brendan chose to remove his daughter from the school. The ordeal has left the little girl confused and upset, according to her father.

'She doesn't like it that they don't like her dad,' said Mr Newhouse. 'Why does my daughter have to go through this and lose her best friends due to the person I am? 'I carry a lot of guilt and I hate that my daughter has to deal with her dad not being accepted.'

Mr Newhouse released a statement in the wake of the controversy to stand by his actions.

'The Board has a clearly enunciated Christian world view which all parents are made aware of before enrollment is confirmed,' said Mr Newhouse.

'Recently, a father withdrew his Year 1 (sic) daughter from the college as he came to understand the College was unable to support his worldview.

'A same-sex world view is not congruent with our Christian world view.'

'While we respect the rights of others to hold different world views, the College has an obligation to the parents to maintain the Christian worldview in all aspects of the college.'


Let the ALP see UK’s Jeremy Corbyn fiasco as a cautionary tale

Stephen Loosley, a former ALP senator and national president of the party, argues below that the ALP must keep close to the political center if it is to win power

Denis Healey, the British Labour titan who died earlier this month, had a lacerating turn of phrase.

At the Bournemouth Labour Party conference in 1985, I stood by watching in the media green room while he did interviews following his conference speech. In his address to the delegates, he had argued for unilateral rather than multilateral nuclear dis­armament. A young television journalist seized on this policy shift.

“Mr Healey, you have changed your position?” was the opening question. Fixing him with a cold stare under those trademark bushy eyebrows, Healey replied: “Yes, I have. In my experience, the only people who never change their views are television journalists and university academics.”

At that point, the interview was virtually over.

But there is one memorable line sometimes attributed to Healey that was actually the work of a parliamentary colleague.

It was Labour MP Gerald Kaufman who famously described his party’s 1983 election manifesto, which was effectively a chronicle of Labour Party conference resolutions, as “the longest suicide note in history”.

The note included nationalisation of the largest 250 British companies and unilateral withdrawal from NATO. The indulgence and nonsense of this particular document, which reflected hard-Left fantasies of the era, helped deliver Margaret Thatcher an overwhelming electoral victory and a second term.

However, the 1983 manifesto pales by any comparison with the impact of the election of Jeremy Corbyn as British Labour leader in a farcical “rank-and-file” ballot of party members, thousands of whom joined very recently, paid a token fee and voted online. No care and no responsibility.

The wide-open door to the ballot box prompted Tory Chancellor George Osborne to quip that he had to be sure to cast his final three votes before the poll closed.

Now, the concept of unelectability is a chimera. Both Paul Keating and John Howard were once so dismissed. But Corbyn is as close to unelectable as it is possible to be, and matters are likely to get worse, much worse.

It is not simply Corbyn’s history of political conversations with extremists abroad but, rather, his apparent positions on where modern Britain should stand, from NATO to the national anthem and the renationalisation of the railways.

Corbyn’s election has moved Labour dramatically to the Left, vacating the centre ground to the Conservative Party, which has moved to occupy it in the absence of the Liberal Democrats.

Make no mistake, as Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech in Manchester to the Tory conference made clear, the Conservatives are campaigning with a view to winning the 2025 election: 2020 seems assured and it is difficult to argue that Labour can recover to be competitive next time.

The American “three strikes rule” seems to be in play: a political party sometimes seems to need to be beaten three times before it comes to its senses. British Labour is not so much lurching from crisis to crisis as permanently occupying space in the political equivalent of a National Health Service intensive care unit.

For Australian Labor, struggling in the polls, certain lessons may reasonably be drawn from the British experience.

First, the parliamentary Labor Party should always be the core element in deciding the party leader.

MPs are in the best possible position to determine who should lead, both in parliament and in the country.

Why is it possible to be certain of this? Simply because MPs see prospective leaders in all their dimensions and under all kinds of pressures. And, after all, the MPs have the most to lose from an electoral disaster.

Just recall that when Ed Miliband defeated brother David last time for the Labour leadership, David Miliband won the parliamentary and constituency party votes, losing narrowly only in the union section of the electoral college. Given all that subsequently happened under Ed Miliband’s watch — Cameron re-elected, the loss of Scotland and the elevation of Corbyn — who could possibly argue the MPs got it wrong?

Second, moving Labor to the Left reduces the party to a pressure group competing with the Greens and other splinters. The modern Western electorate — be it in the US, Britain, Australia or elsewhere — is dominated by the centre ground. This is where elections are determined, not inside the inner-city cycleways in London, Melbourne or Sydney, which exercise far too much influence in the national affairs of parties of the Left.

Third, politics is a serious business and not a dinner party game, played over pinot noir and cheese in Annandale or Carlton. Hard decisions are required of leaders; priorities must be established; the public interest must prevail over siren songs of populism. Corbyn talks numbingly about merely debating the issues in the absence of clear decisions.

Finally, significant parts of British Labour not only have disowned Tony Blair but now revile his governments, despite their modernising achievements and their electoral endorsements. For Australian Labor, the answer is in evidence. Embrace the Hawke and Keating years in deeds as well as words; deny the Coalition the model; endorse aspiration while never losing sight of the millions of working people whom the ALP should always seek to represent.

None of the above is beyond Bill Shorten and his colleagues in the federal ALP. The alternative is sobering. British Labour may not survive as a viable parliamentary opposition, despite the efforts of mainstream activists to group together as Blue Labour in the centre ground.

The Momentum faction, which exhibits more than a few of the tendencies of the Trotskyite/fascist Militant group from the 1980s, is gearing up for a complete takeover and a purge of moderate MPs. The future is grim for those who remember Hugh Gaitskell’s clarion call to “fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love”. The party that was once loved may actually be past saving.


Baby drought as Australia's fertility rate falls to 10-year low

Still a much better figure than most European countries

The average number of babies Australian women are having has fallen to the lowest level in 10 years – the level it was when the federal government introduced a baby bonus to boost population growth.

The national fertility rate has dropped to 1.8 children per woman, down from 1.88 children last year.

"This rate has been declining since 2008, though not reaching the low recorded in 2001," said AJ Lanyon, the regional director at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Altogether, 299,700 births were registered in Australia in 2014, down from 308,100 in 2013.

The country's fertility rate started increasing in 2002 and sat at two children per woman from 2007 to 2010, coinciding with the peak of the mining boom.

However, it has all been downhill since 2010, despite the introduction of government-funded paid parental leave in early 2011.

Demographer Peter McDonald said it was "impossible" to know if the baby bonus, child care rebate and tax rebates introduced after the 2004 election caused the spike. He believes it was due to women in their 30s deciding not to delay having children any longer. The recent decline was because those women had finished having their children.

The extra government support "may have helped people in making their decision to go ahead with the first birth", Professor McDonald said. A rate of 1.8 was normal for Australia and not a cause for concern, he added.

Meanwhile, a 9.3 per cent decline in births in NSW has been attributed to a clerical lag, with the state's birth rate expected to return to normal. This means the national rate could actually be around 1.85, according to Professor McDonald.

Overall, women aged between 30 and 34 were the most fertile, recording 120 babies per 1000. They were followed by women aged 25 to 29, with 95 babies per 1000.

Teenagers and women over 40 now have roughly the same fertility rate - 12.9 babies and 14.4 babies per 1000 women respectively. This is a historical low for teen pregnancies, which fell from a peak of 55 babies per 1000 girls in 1971. 

For the first time the ABS mapped birth rates and found families in city centres have a much lower birth rates than outer suburbs, where the rate exceeds two children.

Artists Piers Greville and his wife Bridget Mac still live close to Melbourne's CBD and are an example of families choosing to have one child.

Lucien Greville-Mac was born in early 2012 when the national fertility rate was at 1.9, just slightly higher than it is now. The couple were living in Berlin but returned home when Lucien was born. Mr Greville says they are content with one child and he has "a feeling that there is enough people in the world without [us] contributing to a population explosion". 

"We thought one child might allow us some of the lifestyle we had before having a child," Mr Greville explains.

It also gives them a chance to concentrate on raising one person, rather than being stretched by two. Friends with multiple children tell him that two children were harder than one.

Asked whether Lucien might miss having siblings, Mr Greville says they try hard to socialise with other families as often as possible.


Apple Pay to launch in Australia through American Express in 2015

Apple has bypassed banks unwilling to give up their dwindling card fees to accept Apple Pay by doing a deal via American Express in Australia and a host of other countries.

Amex's global head of mobile products and payments, Tony Prentice, said its customers in Australia and Canada will be able to use Apple Pay on iPhones, Apple Watch and iPad this year and in Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong in 2016.

"We believe it is critical to be on the forefront of seamless and innovative payment solutions for our card members and we are pleased to be able to deliver on that with Apple Pay," he said in a statement.

Some banks in Australia now offer contactless payments on Android mobiles, but Apple has struggled to get agreement with banks to launch via Visa and MasterCard networks outside the US and Britain.

Even in the US, the number of people actually using Apple Pay is estimated to be very low. This is in part because contactless payments are much lower than in many other countries.

Unlike Google and other mobile wallet providers, the tech giant wants a cut of the fees the card schemes pay to the banks, but these interchange fees - which amount to about $2 billion annually for all Australian banks - are much lower in Australia and Europe than the US.

In August, Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev told Fairfax Media Apple would find it hard to convince banks to give up revenue in return for being able to offer Apple Pay.

He said CBA already offered the same functionality as Apple Pay through its app – for users of Android phones – for two years, so it was difficult for Apple to argue it is providing much value. In the US, Apple Pay was innovative because tap-and-go was not a feature of that market.

A spokesman for CBA said on Wednesday: "Apple Pay is an interesting proposition and on its arrival in Australia we'll evaluate the best payments solution for our customers," he said.

"Commonwealth Bank currently offers NFC payments via Android phones and via PayTag for compatible iPhone phones. As we have always done, we will announce any future enhancements to our applications when they are ready for customers."

A Westpac spokesman said it provides contactless cards and payments on Samsung Android phones via NFC. "It is not appropriate to comment on any discussions we may have had with Apple."

Other major banks privately said talks were ongoing with Apple. But one said the Amex deal represented a very small part of the credit card transactions in Australia and believed it would put minimal extra pressure on banks to to do a deal.

Apple would not confirm whether it is in talks with any banks or discuss the terms of the deal with Amex. "You will need to speak to the banks about their plans," a spokeswoman said.

Apart from its so called "companion cards", American Express issues its cards directly rather than relying on banks. The fees it charges are also on average about twice the rate for Visa and MasterCard, at about 1.7 per cent per transaction.

Amex wouldn't comment on whether Apple will take some of its fees. American Express already works on Apple Pay in the US and Britain, along with Visa and MasterCard.

More than 95 per cent of Amex cards have chip and PIN authentication rather than magnetic stripes now after all card schemes and banks in Australia began discontinuing these cards from August 2014.

Bank consultant, Grant Halverson of Mclean Roche, said banks own most of the payment terminals in Australia and could easily frustrate any upgrades to these needed to accept Apple Pay. He said banks would feel no extra pressure to do a deal with Apple.

"They will be sitting back patting themselves on the back saying 'look they have caved in and gone with Amex'."

But he said Amex, which has 19 per cent of all credit card transactions in Australia - the second largest single share after CBA - may be able to pick up a lot of new customers from the deal if it now makes offers via Apple.

"Around 34.9 per cent of mobile phone's in Australia are Apple phones. In the first six months of 2015, 1.29 million iPhone6 were sold in Australia. So adding in sales for the second half of 2014, there are around 2 million iPhone 6 in the country with Apple Pay installed," he said.

"The big opportunity for Amex is to go after 2 million Apple phone users. If you are one of those people who are excited by technology then they are probably going to send offers to Apple customers and make it very quick and easy."

In a statement, Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, said: "With a global issuer like American Express, we are thrilled to seamlessly bring our easy, secure and private way to pay to more customers internationally."


1 November, 2015

Biffo uses the words 'darkie' and 'n****r' on TV

Biffo has never pulled his punches (sometimes literally) and he clearly does not like censored speech in others. Surprisingly for a Leftist, he sometimes gets things right.  Note that The High Court of Australia ruled in 2002 that the word "n*gger" is not offensive in Australia so there is little doubt that "negro" is also not generally offensive in Australia.  It was clearly seen by the media personalities as incorrect, however

Former Labor leader and controversial columnist Mark Latham has repeatedly used racial expletives including the N-word in a televised discussion about political correctness.

Mr Latham used the highly offensive terms ‘n****r’ and ‘d**kie’ on Channel Nine's recently launched The Verdict on Thursday night, leaving host Karl Stefanovic stunned at the rant.

The terms were used during a debate around the question of whether 'political correctness is killing Australia', which quickly resulted in a heated discussion of Eric Abetz's recent use of 'n***o'.

The terms were used during a debate around the question of whether 'political correctness is killing Australia', which quickly resulted in a heated discussion of Eric Abetz's recent use of 'n***o'

The Senator had called U.S. Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas a ‘n***o’ during a radio interview about the push for marriage equality on 2UE.

But panellists Mr Latham and News Corp columnist Miranda Devine, rejected that ‘n***o’ was offensive.

Mr Latham appeared to use the term to intentionally offend, and the audience sounded shocked at his statements.

‘I am happy to make my weekly donation to Australia’s outrage industry by saying: “N***o, n***o, n***o",’ he said.

‘Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, n***o was actually a respected, dignified alternative to really racist terms like n****r and d**kie.’

Social media was awash with disgust following his comments, with Twitter users widely criticising Mr Latham.


What Did We Get for the $400 Billion that Rudd and Gillard borrowed?

Just an excerpt below from what one blogger has been able to track down:

4 – Increased welfare – $20 billion-$40 billion

This one depends on how tough you want to be. In 2006-07, welfare spending was $92 billion. For 2015/16, it’s budgeted to be $154 billion.

Within this, among other things, are our current annual welfare bills for:

    ‘families with children’ – $38.1 billion;

    assistance to the aged – $60.1 billion; and

    assistance to people with disabilities – $29.5 billion.

To illustrate just some of the welfare money being wasted on people with no need for it, one need look no further than:

    School Kids Bonus – which started in 2012-13 and which costs $2 billion annually. Apparently, if you have children in school and earn up to $100,000, you’re special and need a bonus; and

    Family Tax Benefits A and B – where, for example, if your family earns ‘only’ $150,000, you need a handout. To be fair, this ‘middle class welfare’ was a legacy of John Howard’s and probably his biggest mistake as this spending has become firmly entrenched. At least Howard had the money to pay for it at the time.

All up, welfare spending has increased by 6% each year since 2006-07.

Given that annual revenue growth was about 4%, you could be generous and say that welfare spending was 2% too high each year over this period (i.e. welfare should only have increased in line with government revenue). In this case, the total wasted spending has been $20 billion.

Alternatively, you could be ‘tough but fair’ and say that welfare should only have increased by the inflation rate (around 2%-3%). In this case, the wasted spending has been $30 billion – $40 billion.

You could also be firmer and say that welfare spending should have been cut given that it amounts to 35.5% of total government spending.

It’s up to you.

Meanwhile, many elderly pensioners still cannot afford to run any heating or air-conditioning. Perhaps they should be having kids?

3 – GFC stimulus package – $42 billion

The infamous ‘stimulus package’ with its $900 cheque mail out program was Rudd’s panicked response to the GFC. In fairness, some stimulus might have been defensible in the circumstances. However, a real leader would have taken time to do actual thinking and then taken a calm and measured approach to the situation (and would have probably realised that nothing needed to be done in Australia). Rudd, on the other hand, needed several changes of underwear and invited everyone – including the dead – to buy a new TV.

2 – NBN – $56 billion

Trying to list all of Labor’s blunders on this project is like trying to individually bag every grain of sand on Bondi Beach.

The insane cost for this white elephant is after the Liberals mercifully put some brakes on the project (going from fibre to the premises to fibre to the node). Just imagine how much more it would be if we were still hopelessly pressing on with fibre to EVERY premises under Labor.

Something tells me that this version of Rudd and Conroy’s ‘napkin’ cost benefit analysis wasn’t far off the reality. And yes, they were trying to tell us at the time that full fibre to the premises would ‘only’ cost $37 billion.

Of course, a real cost benefit analysis probably would have concluded that this kind of project is best left to the private sector which isn’t exactly miles away from rendering the NBN redundant. Just imagine if the private sector was allowed to handle this project or properly compete during this time. Instead we were lumped with a government created monopoly where there was not even the slightest whiff of natural market failure. Marx would be proud.

Let’s just say that the less than 25% take-up rate for the fastest speeds offered by NBN says it all.

To any person with intelligence, it all boils down to a question of cost and priorities – and the NBN certainly doesn’t fall into the ‘we need $100 billion right here right now’ category (which is what fibre to the premises would probably ended up costing). I have no doubt that one day in the not too distant future, we will all require ‘Lamborghini internet’ for modern life in ways we cannot possibly imagine today. However, today is not that day and we simply don’t have the $100 billion for it in any event.

Why couldn’t we have built the fibre skeleton across the nation first and then seen how things were going, rather than starting with fibre to the premises in Tasmania?

1 – Interest on loans – $90.4 billion (rising to well over $150 billion)

I promised irony and here it is. The biggest contributor to our debt is the interest on it. It’s not even close and it’s still contributing at a rate of $15.6 billion per year and rising. You are not seeing things. Here’s our sordid interest bill history:

    2007-08 – $3.5 billion
    2008-09 – $3.9 billion
    2009-10 – $6.3 billion
    2010-11 – $9.3 billion
    2011-12 – $11.4 billion
    2012-13 – $12.5 billion
    2013-14 – $13.4 billion
    2014-15 – $14.5 billion
    2015-16 – $15.6 billion

NB: interest on debt also amounted to $3.5 billion in 2006-07 based on government bonds on issue. However, there was no net debt in 2006 despite this due to returns the government was receiving elsewhere.

Over the next four years, our debt is projected to grow by another $80 billion (that’s the next four years of projected budget deficits). The total interest payments we’ll be making over this time will be around $70 billion – $80 billion. That’s right, the extra amount we’ll be borrowing is just enough to pay the interest on the loan. Feels great doesn’t it?

The second most expensive item on the list (NBN) is not even close and isn’t going to have $15-20 billion added to the pile every year for the next four years – unless we vote Bill Shorten in.

When the interest bill is the biggest contributor to your debt by miles, then you know something has gone disastrously wrong.

Last word

If you’ve been keeping count, then you’ll have noticed that about $320 billion of our money has been tracked down. That still leaves a lot left over to account for our $400 billion loan.

About $50 billion can be accounted for by Rudd and Gillard’s refusal to accept the reality of the government’s declining revenue in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and their attempt to keep our ‘lifestyle intact’. Instead, they defied all logic and kept increasing spending in too many areas of the economy that were never going to provide any return on the ‘investment’:


When normal people are confronted with less income, they cut spending and balance the books until things improve. Sometimes that might mean making hard decision like selling the house or a car or moving the children into public schools. As for Rudd and Gillard….

As for the remaining tens of billions, it’s a case of death by a thousand cuts and almost impossible for a hobby blogger like me to track down. Even if I could, the list would be hundreds of items long and impossible to digest. I can only say that it’s all in there somewhere:

I think it’s time for a stiff drink


Only adoption can rescue abused kids

Miranda Devine

A WOMAN who is 6½ months pregnant last week threatened to commit suicide unless she had an abortion. The 41-year-old mother-of-two told doctors at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne her life was in a “diabolical state”, with financial and relationship problems, and she couldn’t cope with ­another baby.

The story made news on Friday because the hospital’s “termination review panel” ­reportedly refused the late-term abortion, leading the state Health Minister Jill Hennessy to express concern about “limited access to abortion”.

There is, of course, an alternative, which in a previous era would have been seen as a natural win-win for everyone, particularly the baby: adoption.

But adoption has become such a dirty word in Australia that not only is it barely mentioned as an alternative to late-term abortion, it is not even used to rescue abused and ­neglected children.

The scandalous power of the anti-adoption industry is laid bare in a brilliant, searing new book by child protection ­expert Jeremy Sammut, ­research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies. The Madness Of Australian Child Protection makes the moral case for adoption to rescue Australia’s ­underclass children.
Adoption in Australia is peculiarly low; last year we had only 203 local adoptions, compared with 50,000 in the US.

Meanwhile, child abuse and neglect is soaring, with 43,000 children shifted in and out of government-funded, out-of-home “temporary” care.

Mistreated children are ­reported repeatedly to welfare authorities that refuse to ­remove them from drug-­addled, violent, dysfunctional parents until it is too late.

“Children are not removed from unfixable families in a timely fashion, and these children are not provided with safe and stable adoptive families.”

Sammut cites various reasons for this perverse situation, including the emphasis on ­official apologies for past practices of forced adoption and “Stolen Generations”.

The radical shift from child rescue to family preservation is grounded in the 1960s radical school of social work which is hostile to “supposedly bourgeois institutions, such as marriage and the nuclear family”.

Add in a simplistic social justice credo which claims that adoption victimises the poor by denying their “right” to parent children, and you have an ideological perfect storm. Three case studies give Sammutt’s conclusions added power.

? Dean Shillingsworth, a two- year-old boy strangled by his mother, who shoved his body into a suitcase and threw it in a lake in Western Sydney in 2007. Dean had been the subject of 34 reports about his ­welfare.

? Ebony, a seven-year-old autistic girl who died of starvation in her parents’ Housing Commission home on the NSW mid-north coast in 2007, also was the subject of numerous child welfare reports.

? Four-year-old Chloe Valentine died from horrific internal injuries after her single mother and de facto repeatedly placed her on a motorbike and filmed her falls while they were drunk and high on ice, in South Australia.

Chloe had been the subject of 21 welfare reports. The state welfare department, ­incredibly, had approved a case plan which allowed Chloe’s mother to use drugs.

They are victims of the prevailing orthodoxy in child protection, which is to keep children with their “family” at almost any price.
“Children suffer prolonged exposure to abuse and neglect by clearly unfit parents because of the policy and practices of family preservation, which seek to fix even the kinds of families that starve and strangle children,” Sammut writes.

The underclass children caught up in the child protection system live in homes that are “unimaginable to most Australians,” writes Sammut. “In these chaotic worlds of ­unchanged nappies, putrid kitchens and garbage-strewn rooms, fridges are full of grog and parents feed drug habits while pantries and children’s bellies remain empty.

“There is regular violence between adults instead of consistent care and loving, nurturing interactions with children.”

But the prevailing social work ideology is that you can’t be “judgmental” about what constitutes a “good family”.

Thus the links between the rising rates of single motherhood over the past 40 years and rising rates of child mistreatment are ignored, and parental drug use is tolerated.

The only solution is to dramatically increase adoptions.
Sammut proposes national annual adoption targets, and an incentive payment scheme that rewards states that increase the number of adoptions.

If the children of the underclass are to receive the “fair go all Australians should expect as their birthright” then we have to make tough decisions to ­remove them from people who have foregone the right to call themselves parents. 


Paul Zanetti on Waleed Aly

HERE he goes again. Waleed Aly preaching to the rest of us about ‘morality’.  Mr Aly would do very well tidying up affairs in his own backyard before lecturing Australians.

Waleed Aly is a Sunni Muslim. As are Islamic State. And we all know how Islamic State follows Islamic teachings to the letter. The evidence is all over the internet. They proudly advertise Sunni Islam in all its gory technicolour.

The latest tut-tutting from Waleed Aly is in today’s Sydney Morning Herald in one of his regular columns, a moral mound looking over the rest of Australia.

His piece is headlined:


Fancy being reprimanded by Waleed Aly about morals.

In his most condescending tone we’re advised by Mr Morality how ‘deaths at sea’ is a ‘crassly nationalistic argument’.


I – and most compassionate folk – thought stopping ‘deaths at sea’ was a humanitarian ideal. But that could be just our simplistic view of the world.

The column is dripping with so much erroneous righteousness, so much so that I began thinking it was a parody piece and waiting for the final punch line.

He makes the hopelessly dangerous case that doctors at Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital should not discharge kids back to detention because these doctors are ‘not political’.

Which is exactly why these doctors should not be getting involved in a political debate. They should simply do their job. Leave the repercussions to our politicians who know more than the doctors about the impact of political decisions, particularly the lessons learnt by the inhumanely lethal Labor-Greens model advocated by Aly.

Moving the children on the mainland sounds like the right thing to do on the surface but will have devastatingly deadly consequences.

In Aly’s world, first we release the children onto the mainland on ‘humanitarian grounds’.

Then the parents and family must absolutely join them on ‘compassionate grounds’.

Then we’ll have a wave of kids sent to Australia by ruthlessly opportunistic people smugglers who must immediately be sent to the mainland (because they’re children).

Followed by the parents (for the childrens’ sake).

He argues the doctors’ judgement is clinical and ethical, without a hint of nod to the clinical and ethical consequences of their demands – kids  torn from their mothers’ arms and dropping to bottom of the ocean. And how many kids will be intentionally harmed once it gets out that ‘harmed children’ are the ticket to the mainland?

Ethical? Clinical?

If Waleed gets his way, people smugglers will be advising parents this is their best bet to settling in Australia.

The reason kids are in detention is because their parents illegally attempted to enter Australia – queue jumpers pushing genuine refugees to the back of the line. The illegals chucked their papers away, having used the same papers to country-hop to the last Indonesian port before Australia.

My criticism is not of the doctors per se who I have no doubt do care about the kids’ welfare.

It’s the consequence of their demands that have me more than a little worried. More kids on the mainland equals more dead kids on the bottom of the ocean.

Which is worse? A kid in detention or a dead kid?

Whose up for the morality test? Waleed’s hand is up, sir.

While he’s on his self-righteous crusade, he reminds us that the notion, ‘that each individual is sacred; that no individual can simply be sacrificed in order save others – lies at the heart of our civilisation’.

He goes on, “It’s the reason we’ve prohibited torture. It’s why we’ve abandoned the death penalty in this country, no matter the crime. Indeed, it’s the basis of the whole idea of human rights, which this nation was so instrumental in distilling into law. It’s meant to be the basis on which we do our public reasoning. So it’s hugely significant that right now, it’s also the opposite of the argument our politicians are running.”

He hasn’t finished yet. He’s on a roll.

Cop this, “It’s the morality that can make anything from slavery, to torture, to Stalinism possible: an ethos that has no rules, only results; where nothing has intrinsic value except whatever “greater good” you wish to serve.

Under this sort of cover, almost any atrocity can be sanctified. And if it can do even that sort of heavy lifting, then what’s the mental disintegration of a few hundred asylum seekers – whether they’re children or not?”

Here are some inconvenient truths about Waleed Aly.

He’s a former executive member of the Islamic Council of Victoria, yet we’re still waiting to hear him condemn all the horrific atrocities in the name of, and for the advancement of his religion.

He has the connections, he has the profile, he has the community ear. But does he have the moral fortitude?

His gall at demanding from our government what he turns a blind eye to in his own belief system, is breathtaking.

The slavery, torture, human rights abuses, death penalties and atrocities he claims might be sanctified by us, is actually sanctified and practiced as a means to enter Islam’s Paradise.

Once Waleed Aly starts lecturing his own side about tidying up the atrocities of Islam from within, then he can get on that moral high horse about the rest of us.

Not a word has he ever uttered about the ‘morality’ of Islamic teachings. Credibility factor : zero.


Malcolm Turnbull should champion free speech on race

It’s good to hear the Prime Minister has great faith in the Australian people. He is right to say we are able to conduct a civil debate about same-sex marriage.

The wisdom of Australians doesn’t end there, of course. Which is why Malcolm Turnbull should also start a conversation about the proper limits of free speech in this country.

The PM has been quick to reopen the economic debate too. Good for him that he is keen to put his mark on the new government as a reformer capable of conversing honestly with Australians, negotiating with the mixed bag of independents and even extracting a dose of bipartisanship from Labor.

Now it’s time for Turnbull to take a confident step into the cultural arena. Whereas Tony Abbott disappointed many Australians, especially the Liberal base, by dumping an election promise to reform section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act on the premise that it was causing division within the Muslim community, Turnbull can score an important, long overdue win for freedom.

In the process, he can also turn the jeers he faced at the recent NSW Liberal conference into cheers by taking on an issue that Abbott dropped.

And let’s face it, Turnbull may be just the person to win over people in a way the former PM never could.

Indeed, Turnbull’s lovey-dovey honeymoon with the press has a focus so soft and blurry it makes the final scenes of The Bachelorette look like gritty TV.

Sections of the media who couldn’t bear Abbott have found their man in Turnbull. ABC 7.30 host Leigh Sales giggled and smiled her way through an early Turnbull interview, apologising for interruptions in a manner Abbott could only have dreamed of.

The Australian Financial Review last week ran a rather hilarious piece by academic Elena Douglas. Quoting Manning Clark (of course), Douglas drew the distinc­tion between two types of Australian prime ministers: the “enlargers of life” who want “all human beings to have a life and have it more abundantly” versus the “punishers and the straighteners”.

Douglas claims Australia has never had an enlarger from the Right — until maybe now, with the arrival of Turnbull. That’s probably news to millions of Australians who voted in the Howard government four times, but that’s for another day.

The point is that Turnbull is in a particularly blessed place right now and it can’t last.

One way to transition from the honeymoon weeks into a stable, long-term relationship with the Australian people is to seek out their respect on the economic and cultural reform fronts.

Turnbull shouldn’t waste time drawing on his political capital wisely, carefully and boldly to go to places that Abbott could not.

Of course, dark clouds will gather, special interest groups will squeal and the going will get tougher when the reform process moves to the pointy end of fine details and negotiations. But again, Turnbull may be the right person to handle this.

Last week Turnbull said the government had no plans to change the RDA at all. He should reconsider. There is a simple and convincing conversation to be had around free speech. It goes something like this: the current balance in Australia around so-called hate laws is entirely out of kilter.

On the one hand, laws that aim to stop real cases of hate speech and incitement to violence have failed us.

Turnbull can point to NSW, where there are moves to change section 20D of the NSW Racial Discrimination Act. That law set the bar so high that, since its 1989 enactment, not a single prosecution has been launched against those who preach hatred or incite violence in NSW. State prosecutors couldn’t even manage to bring a case against Ismail al-Wahwah, the head of Hizb ut-Tahrir, who in a sermon last March called on Muslims to rid the world of “Jewish hidden evil”.

The PM could point out that reforming section 20D is entirely sensible, that surely we can all agree to set a legal bar against hate speech that incites or encourages violence. Only then can we hope to shut down the hate preachers who have free rein to radicalise impressionable Muslim boys.

The PM could then point out that other laws at the federal level have set the bar too low, to the point where words that merely offend or insult someone are prohibited.

He could say the case for reforming section 18C of the federal RDA should never have been about Andrew Bolt. It’s about a law that allowed a federal judge to say he didn’t like the tone taken by a writer. Turnbull could say the bar here is too low in a liberal democracy such as Australia.

Defamation laws protect reputations; laws that protect feelings have tilted the free speech balance sheet in the wrong direction. Surely it’s time to correct the balance, to ensure real hate speech and genuine cases of inciting violence are outlawed and expressing opinions, even if they offend some people, are protected?

If Turnbull meant what he said on The Bolt Report earlier this year — that it is a sensible reform to excise “offend” and “insult” from section 18C — he should support senator Bob Day’s private member’s bill that seeks to do just that.

Turnbull is in the position as leader to launch a compelling, conviction-filled conversation about why our freedoms and our values matter, why we must defend them and why we need to reform misguided laws that impinge upon them.

The PM can already count on support from some on the Left, among them David Marr, Jonathan Holmes and Julian Burnside. Turnbull even may convince a few free-speech nay-sayers. Can’t you just see those people who have never defended free speech when it meant defending opinions they despise, cocking their heads towards Turnbull, listening to him rather intently and saying, “Heck, doesn’t he make sense?”

To be sure, others on the Left will never give an inch on free speech. For them, even a minor change to the balance sheet will deliver their worst nightmare — more open debates on anything from immigration to climate change. From hounding Geoffrey Blainey out of the University of Melbourne in the 1980s to stopping Bjorn Lomborg from even getting a foothold in an Australian university this year, these anti-freedom crusaders will always defend the barricades of their own minds with anti-free speech bazookas.

Beyond those walls, Turnbull can win this debate. First, he needs to conquer his reluctance to give his long-time internal opponents a win, men such as Cory Bernardi and Ian Macdonald, who both support Day’s private member’s bill. There is something far more important at stake than a few internal enemies grandstanding over a win. If Turnbull chooses, he can score a win for freedom in Australia in a way that others never could. How ’bout it, Prime Minister?


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, 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.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

A great Australian wit exemplified

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."


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To be continued ....
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