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

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


30 November, 2017

White "Aborigines" soaking up funds needed for blacks

Andrew Bolt got prosecuted and convicted for saying this.  Good that someone now is allowed to say it

Cosseted urbanites who belatedly self-identify as indigenous are ­ripping much-needed funds from the pockets of their disadvantaged brethren in remote communities farther north, according to one of the nation’s highest-profile Aboriginal bodies.

The Yothu Yindi Foundation, which runs the annual Garma Festival in Arnhem Land, yesterday told the Productivity Commission that counting indigeneity in the formula used to allocate GST revenue might be hurting those in areas with the highest need.

YYF representatives said “exponential” growth in the indigenous-identifying populations of southern states — over and above that attributable to natural factors — was “draining away” money from the Northern Territory.

Bob Beadman, who previously chaired the local branch of the body responsible for implementing the GST formula, said YYF was also concerned about identity “fraud” and called for “greater efforts to distinguish degrees of need among the Aboriginal population”.

“We believe the self-identification provision in the census is encouraging people to come ­forward for reasons of their own. Some of those reasons might be to do with the work of genealogists … if there was an indigenous ancestor 200 years ago, suddenly an ­entirely new family appears on the census data as indigenous,” Mr Beadman said.

“We know from census data that 80 per cent of marriages interstate are to a non-indigenous partner, and the kids of that union then become indigenous … all of this growth in numbers is drawing money away from the Territory.”

Mr Beadman made the comments at a PC hearing into the horizontal fiscal equalisation formula, which governs the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s allocation of GST. Over half the Territory government’s annual budget typically consists of GST.

“A double university-degree, double-income family in their own house in Parramatta should have much lesser value in the weighting that the CGC would give to an indigenous family (as compared) with (a family consisting of) several intergenerational levels of welfare dependency, all unemployed and in a humpy in a remote community like Papunya,” he said.


Religious freedom laws not included in same-sex marriage bill

Malcolm Turnbull is facing mounting hostility among conservative MPs after an overwhelming majority of Coalition senators last night voted for amendments to the same-sex marriage bill only to be shot down when six Coalition senators, including three cabinet ministers, sided with Labor and the Greens to scuttle them.

The move is likely to see Liberal senator Dean Smith’s bill rammed through the Senate unchanged as early as this morning, crushing attempts by 18 of 26 ­Coalition senators to secure significant amendments to broaden religious protections.

Liberal frontbencher Zed ­Seselja last night accused colleagues of conspiring with the Greens and Labor to undermine the rights of parents and freedom of speech.  “Labor, Greens and a handful of Liberals are undermining freedom of speech, religion and parental rights in Australia by voting down these amendments,” he said.

The defeat of the first two rounds of amendments put by Liberal senators David Fawcett and James Paterson came as six No voting Labor senators buckled to internal pressure to not cross the floor in support of the amendments, prompting claims Labor’s conscience vote had been torn up.

Cabinet ministers Simon Birmingham, Marise Payne and Nigel Scullion joined Senator Smith and Jane Hume in voting against changes to the Smith bill, ensuring it will pass unamended. The remaining Fawcett/Paterson amendments, including parental rights, also failed.

In a final bid late yesterday to secure a token protection measure, cabinet ministers Matt Canavan and Attorney-General George Brandis moved a reworked amendment to protect people from discrimination for expressing a religious view.

WA Liberal Linda Reynolds voted in favour of the Canavan and Brandis amendments but voted against the others.

Conservative MPs have warned that the Prime Minister faces a potentially hostile partyroom next week with six cabinet ministers and a growing number of frontbenchers supporting amendments, which will now be taken to the lower house when it returns next week to vote on the bill. The same-sex marriage split comes as Mr Turnbull faces pressure from the Nationals to support a commission of inquiry into the banks, as crossparty support mounted for the probe pushed by LNP senator Barry O’Sullivan.

“He will have to respond to this and realise there is a problem. If the Smith bill had been put to a partyroom vote it would have had no chance of being passed,” one senior MP said. “He risks being completely out of step with his partyroom on this.”

Queensland MP Scott Buchholz and senator Ian Macdonald yesterday criticised the Prime Minister for lacking an “inner mongrel”, saying he had failed to take on Labor with more “passion and aggression”.

Senator Macdonald, who is based in Townsville, said Mr Turnbull — who has visited north Queensland only three times since last year’s federal election — was not appealing to Coalition supporters by playing to people “that will never vote for us”.

In September, Mr Turnbull had offered hope to Christian groups and conservative MPs when he pledged to protect ­religious protections following the same-sex marriage survey.

“I just want to reassure Australians that as strongly as I believe in the right of same-sex couples to marry, as strongly as I believe in that, even more strongly, if you like, do I believe in religious freedom,” Mr Turnbull said. “Religious freedom is fundamental and it will be protected in any bill that emerges from this ­parliament.”

Scott Morrison, a leading proponent and most senior cabinet minister backing religious freedoms, tried to turn the tables on Labor, accusing Bill Shorten of binding his No-voting senators against backing the amendments and effectively reneging on a promise of a conscience vote.

“Bill Shorten has turned his back on people of faith and ­religion, including Labor voters, for political advantage,” the Treasurer told The Australian. “Many people of faith voted against same-sex marriage in Labor electorates and wanted protections for ­religious freedoms. “If you are person of faith in Australia, you can have no faith in Bill Shorten and the Labor Party.”

Senator Smith told The Australian religious freedoms “does not end with the passage of the same-sex marriage bill”.

“The strength of the government’s pathway for legislating for marriage equality has always been its decision to allow individual ­Coalition senators a parliamentary free vote,” Senator Smith said.

“This has allowed Coalition senators in good faith to represent the views of both Coalition Yes and No voters in designing the legal architecture for same-sex marriage. Equally, it has allowed the ventilation of various attitudes on how to best protect religious views and uphold our effective anti-discrimination laws.

“The matter of religious freedoms in Australia does not end with the passage of the same-sex marriage bill.

“It has been clearly demonstrated the matter warrants careful, comprehensive examination.

“The result of the survey highlights many things, not least the need to carefully balance the contemporary values of many Australians with the more socially conservative approach of other Australians. Guaranteeing the co-existence of these attitudes is important for Australia and critical for the future electoral success of the Liberal Party.”

Labor legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus denied Labor senators who had signalled an intention to vote with conservative Coalition MPs in favour of amendments had been stripped of a conscience vote.

He said Labor MPs who were opposed to same-sex marriage would not get a conscience vote on enshrining further ­religious protections after the review of the freedoms ordered by Mr Turnbull and to be conducted by former Howard minister Philip Ruddock was completed next year.

Labor senator Helen Polley, who has strongly suggested to ­Coalition senators that she would vote with the amendments, last night said she would oppose them on the basis there were “legitimate concerns regarding religious freedom” that should be investigated in the Ruddock review.

“It’s important that these issues be investigated by the Ruddock review and that religious freedom protections in Australia be considered in greater detail,” she said.

“Those who know me know that I have always had a very strong view regarding marriage. “Unless we ensure appropriate protections are in place, this is the type of intolerance incident I fear could become the norm if safeguards are not put in place in the future,” Senator Polley said.


The universities and degrees with the best outcomes revealed

Three Sydney universities are among the best in the country for their six-year degree completion rates, but the national graduation rate has fallen to its lowest level recorded.

Overall, the six-year university completion rate has dropped to the lowest levels recorded since the Department of Education began collating the data, with only 66 per cent of students who started their degree in 2010 finishing by 2015.

The overall short and medium-term employment rates for students with undergraduate degrees have also fallen significantly since 2007, with 67.5 per cent of students who graduated in 2014 finding full-time work within four months, compared to 83.6 per cent of students who graduated in 2007.

About 89.3 per cent of students who graduated in 2014 found work within three years, compared to 92.6 per cent of students who graduated in 2007, according to the 2017 Graduate Outcomes Survey, which is funded by the Australian government and conducted by the Social Research Centre.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said universities could do more to improve outcomes for students. "It's clear some of our universities need to take a close look at their efforts and do more to support the students they enrol with significant taxpayer subsidies," Senator Birmingham said.

"While the results show most institutions are supporting the vast majority of their students through to completing their courses, some with already below-average results have seen further declines."

The University of Melbourne is the best university in Australia in terms of completion rates, with nearly 88 per cent of domestic bachelor students who started their degrees in 2010 graduating by 2015, according to the latest Department of Education figures.

The University of Sydney has the next best completion rate, with nearly 83 per cent of students finishing their degrees within six years of commencement, followed by Monash University, with a six-year completion rate of 80 per cent.

The University of NSW is also among the top universities by completion rate, with 79.6 per cent of students finishing their degree within six years, followed by the University of Technology Sydney, with a completion rate of 76.7 per cent.

At the other end of the spectrum, less than half of all students at the University of New England in northern NSW had finished their degrees after six years, with a completion rate of 47.2 per cent.

Other universities with low completion rates include Federation University Australia in Victoria, with 36.4 per cent of students finishing their degree within six years, Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory with a completion rate of 41.2 per cent, and the University of Southern Queensland, with a rate of 42.5 per cent.

Nationally, students who graduated with medicine degrees had some of the best outcomes, with the highest short and medium-term employment rates and median salaries.

About 97.7 per cent of medical graduates were in full-time jobs four months after graduating and had a median full-time salary of $63,000.

In comparison, students who graduated with creative arts degrees had some of the worst graduate outcomes, with only 45.7 per cent finding full-time jobs within four months of finishing their degree, and reporting an initial median salary of $45,000.

This increased to 79.4 per cent of graduates in full-time work within three years of finishing university, and a medium-term median salary of $55,000.

Similarly, only 48 per cent of science and maths students found work within four months of graduating and had a median salary of $52,000. This increased to 83.5 per cent of students in full-time jobs within three years, with a median salary of $62,000.


Barrier reef not as fragile as once thought

It has inbuilt recovery from damage mechanisms

About 100 coral reefs within the Great Barrier Reef have been identified as having particular resilience that may help corals recover from bleaching and other threats.

The hardy "robust source reefs" – about 112 in number or about 3 per cent of total coverage – were found to be in cooler, outer reefs.

Their location helped shield them from the recent back-to-back annual bleaching that had devastated corals, the Australian and British researchers found.

Their proximity to stronger ocean currents than inland reefs also meant their annual spawning events could disperse coral larvae over a large region, fostering recovery after bleaching or cyclones.

A third characteristic was a relative absence of crown-of-thorns starfish, lowering their susceptibility to that threat.

Peter Mumby, one of the authors of the reef paper appearing on Wednesday in PLOS Biology, said a single coral spawning event from the robust sites could "almost reach half the reefs of the Great Barrier Reef".

"These sites are important ecologically, providing some of the backbone of the reef," said Professor Mumby, who is based at the University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences.

"We are trying to uncover the natural life-support system of the reef, so we can then support it," he said, adding: "The reef is much better connected than we thought."

The importance of supporting natural recovery processes would likely increase in the future "as climate change reduces the average size of coral populations and the need for recolonisation becomes more frequent," the paper said.

But with most of the robust sites clustered off Mackay in the central-south region of the Great Barrier Reef, any relative resilience might be of little benefit to more distant regions, such as the northern end.


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

29 November, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is skeptical about Tracey Spicer involving herself in the sexual abuse panic

Bob Katter versus crocodiles versus "experts"

Crocs mean "no swimming in coastal waters or in rivers within a certain distance from the coast" but that's OK, apparently. The Greenies below look at the long term average of croc attacks and say it is low but that is an inappropriate statistic where the population is rising.  They should look at the trend.  And if you do that you see the four recent attacks as a minimum not as an outlier.

And to demonstrate ecological benefit from lots of crocs they had to go to Brazil.  Pretty good evidence that there are no such benefits here.

They are right in saying that crocs are a tourist attraction and some areas should be set aside for that purpose.  But limiting their Queensland population to the Daintree and parts North would be a reasonable compromise.  That would leave a big areas for crocs while leaving most of the North Queensland coast safe.  But compromise is alien to Greenies.  They always want it all

Australian politician Bob Katter wants to launch a war … against crocodiles. 

Katter, known for his controversial opinions on multiple topics including same-sex marriage, claimed on Nov. 15 that there are too many crocodiles in Australia. They have no natural enemies, and in the Australian region of North Queensland alone, they eat up to four people each year, he said.

Katter made the anti-croc statement on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's program "Insiders"

But crocodile experts assert that the ancient reptiles are, in fact, good for Australia.

The animals have a positive effect on the ecosystem, as well as the local economy, said Adam Britton, a leading crocodile expert and zoologist at Charles Darwin University in Australia. Though Britton conceded that crocodiles in the rivers of northern Australia can threaten people's lives, these dangers can be easily managed, he said.

"There are probably between 150 [thousand] and 180 thousand crocodiles in the Northern Territory [of Australia] and some 40 [thousand] to 50 thousand in Queensland," Britton told Live Science. "They are certainly not endangered. But over the last 30 to 40 years, we were able to deal with the risks [posed by crocodiles] via a management program."

For local people, that program means no swimming in coastal waters or in rivers within a certain distance from the coast.

Britton, who runs the website CrocBITE, which monitors attacks by all sorts of crocodile species around the world, noted that North Queensland has experienced an unusual streak of crocodile attacks over the past year. However, he said that he doesn't think there are too many crocodiles in Queensland's rivers. Rather, the croc population is still recovering from overhunting that occurred in the first half of the 20th century, he said.

"This year has been a little bit unusual for Queensland," Britton said. "They had four attacks in total. Two of them were fatal. It has been the worst year they've had for a long time."

But in the long term, the statistics look less sinister, Britton said. "Over the last 10 years, there have been 14 crocodile attacks in North Queensland, six of them fatal," he said. "That would be about one person killed by crocodiles every 20 months."

Most of the victims had ignored a slew of warning signs, Britton said. The crocodile habitats are known and marked by warning signs, yet some people decide to risk their lives nonetheless.

In one of the recent cases, for example, a guy "was attacked by a crocodile when he was showing off to a girl," Britton said. "He jumped into the water, where he knew there were crocodiles, and sure enough, one of them bit him. It's like putting on a blindfold and walking into a highway. You may be lucky or you may not."

Britton added that even though crocodiles place limitations on people living in the areas, northern Australia benefits from the animals' presence. The reptiles attract adventure-seeking tourists, and the wild-crocodile egg-harvesting program is an important source of income for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, he said. Harvesters can sell the eggs to crocodile farms that breed the animals for skins, which are popular in the fashion industry.

Moreover, artificially reducing the crocodile population could disrupt the balance of the wider ecosystem, Britton said.

"There are examples from other parts of the world," Britton said. "For example, in Brazil, when they removed black caimans [a large crocodile species], the economically valuable fish that were captured by local people disappeared."

After the reintroduction of the caimans, the fish population recovered. Researchers eventually found that the juvenile caimans feed on crabs, which eat fish eggs. The lack of juvenile caimans had meant too many crabs in the water, which resulted in a reduced fish population and economic problems for local fishers.

Katter said he is concerned that crocodiles don't have natural enemies and that the only way to keep the population within limits is to kill off the animals. But Britton said the population will stabilize naturally once it reaches healthy levels.

"As the crocodile population recovers, the mortality rate of juveniles increases through competition," said Britton. "Crocodiles actually self-control their own population growth, eventually slowing down and reaching a stable level like any wild animal population with limited resources."


Queensland election: Stephen Andrew won't be last to win seat for One Nation, Pauline Hanson says

A gun dealer and feral pig shooter from Mackay who secured One Nation's first, and likely only, seat in the state election will be a strong voice for regional Queensland, party leader Pauline Hanson has said.

With 75 per cent of the vote counted, One Nation's candidate Stephen Andrew has secured enough preferences to take the northern seat of Mirani, ousting Labor MP Jim Pearce.

ABC election analyst Antony Green officially called the seat for Senator Hanson's party late yesterday afternoon.

Labor is predicted to get the required 47 seats to form government in the next few days, while the LNP has 36 and could get 40.

Green has predicted One Nation and the Greens may win one seat each, Katter's Australia Party possibly three seats, and one independent.

Mr Andrew would also become the Queensland leader of One Nation, by default, after the current leader Steve Dickson was turfed from his Sunshine Coast seat of Buderim.

Mr Pearce said while he topped the primary vote, preferences proved to be his downfall. "With One Nation and the LNP swapping their preferences, I really had no chance of hanging onto the seat once they did that, because the preferences have been coming through in large numbers for the One Nation candidate," Mr Pearce said.

In a statement, Ms Hanson said Mr Andrew had worked "exceptionally hard over the past 12 months" and would be a strong voice for regional Queensland. "I suspect he and the Katters will hold the balance of power in the state," Senator Hanson said.

Senator Hanson also posted on Facebook this morning, saying she thought the party would win other seats. "I'm very proud of Stephen Andrew's win in the Queensland election," Senator Hanson wrote.  "He won't be the last, with things looking very strong in at least five other seats." "I sense we will have some other exciting announcements over the coming days," Senator Hanson said.

Mr Andrew is a fourth generation South Sea Islander who lives in Mackay. He is also heavily involved in the gun lobby movement and is a licensed weapons dealer.

Mr Pearce was elected as the Member for Broadsound in 1989, before moving to the electorate of Fitzroy. He retired in 2009, but won Mirani in 2015, the first time Labor held the seat.


Perth Modern School wants bigger classes

Larger class sizes can in fact be highly beneficial if they expose more students to good teachers.  But the unions are afraid of them in case they reduce the number of teaching jobs available

WA’s only academically selective school is offering teachers up to $500 cash in exchange for taking extra students above maximum class-size thresholds, raising the ire of the teachers’ union.

Perth Modern School has told teachers they can “negotiate” compensation for accepting bigger classes above the limit of 32 pupils in Years 7 to 10 or 25 in Years 11 and 12.

A document circulated last week to staff at the Subiaco school said it was not compul-sory for teachers to take on extra students but there would be trade-offs for those who chose to do so.

“Examples of negotiated compensation may include trading off yard duty or, in some cases, for middle years there is a figure of $300 for an extra student and $500 for senior years, or you are welcome to negotiate for something else if you require,” it said.

State School Teachers Union president Pat Byrne said offering teachers a financial incentive for extra students was “highly unusual”. The union had raised its concerns with the department after Perth Modern teachers flagged the issue.

“Planning to have classes that exceed the limit is a breach of our industrial agreement,” Ms Byrne said. “So that’s certainly a concern.”

She said that under the union’s agreement with the Education Department, schools were not permitted to plan for classes to be above the agreed maximum. The agreement recognised that classes sometimes exceeded the limit after new students enrolled, so teachers could discuss reducing other duties in recognition of the additional workload.

“There is nothing unusual about that,” Ms Byrne said. “Where it gets unusual is the notion that people are paid extra. It means the school is actually not prioritising class sizes. Class sizes are fixed at a number for a range of reasons — a lot of that is to do with the size of the classroom and safety, particularly if you’re in a science lab or home economics room.

“It isn’t just about workload, it’s also about the actual attention that a teacher can give to individual students.”

Ms Byrne said she had not heard of any other public schools making a similar offer but worried it could set a precedent.

“It undermines the whole rationale for having smaller classes,” she said. “Schools are funded according to the class size ratio, so there should be no reason for a school to be needing to offer that sort of payment,” she said.

“The implication here is that as long as people get paid money, it’s all right to have larger class sizes.

“But we wouldn’t support that at all. It’s about the quality of education you can provide for that class and the bigger it gets the harder it is to do that.” An Education Department spokeswoman said: “This matter was brought to the department’s attention recently and we are currently looking into it.”


Our tax system rewards losers, so it reaps failure

Scott Morrison is looking at our income tax system with a view to proposing tax cuts before the next election. Well, he may have a really hard look because our system is set up all wrong and needs the rules dramatically changed. Our tax game incentivises losing. We need fewer losers, more winners. So we must incentivise winning. Our system takes too much off those who are bright, who work the hardest, take the most risks and, yes, have the best luck, too.

Our system incentivises us towards failure, and so the result is failure and an undesirable, tall poppy-hating culture. In Australia there seems to be no point in working overtime, working too much, trying too hard and becoming a champion. We punish those who try to create wealth. We sneer at our winners. We line up to lose and cheer ourselves on as losers.

Virtually half the country lines up at Centrelink every fortnight with their hand out, without a moment's thought towards the person who had to go to work to put that money into their possession.

One half of our community supports the other half. Surely, everyone can see how ridiculous this is. Worse, the supported half seem insatiable; no matter how much they are given it is never enough and constantly there is loud clamouring for more.

The Treasurer, to put it mildly, is a disappointment of the highest order. With regards to his tax proposal he is likely to do something characteristically foolish and self-defeating yet again. If he cuts income taxes it will probably be by a few measly bucks a week. This will be an insult that will infuriate, and hasten his demise.

The government needs a circuit breaker and strong product differentiation from Labor. Wise heads within the government should push Morrison to turn the income tax system on its head. The system should drive wealth creation and reward self-sufficiency. People should be incentivised to earn as much as possible, to stand on their own two feet. Avoiding contact with Centrelink should become a source of pride and a national obsession, the ultimate goal everyone strives to achieve.

There will always be people in our community who need support but there is no way that number is 50 per cent. At the moment, because of our tax system, dishonesty, mediocrity and failure are rewarded, therefore aspired to, and ultimately revered. Imagine how much better our country would be if all of that were totally reversed.


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

28 November, 2017

Australian cities could soon be uninhabitable because of extreme heat with 'brutal' global warming already making temperatures soar to SEVENTY degrees (?)

What a lot of slime!  The alleged 70 degrees reported was the temperature reached by bitumen roads at  midday on a dry sunny day in the tropics.  No air temperature ever gets near that.  And bitumen roads in the tropics have always got very hot -- so hot that the bitumen sometimes melts.  It is neither unusual nor diagnostic of anything. I well remember sitting on my verandah in the tropics one Christmas day long ago and watching the heat waves rise like worms from the bitumen road outside

And you can't draw global conclusions from what happens in one country.  Australia is at the moment having a hot spell but at the same time Britain is having an unusually cold spell. The two average out to say nothing global is happening.  I reproduce both the Australian and British reports below

Climate scientists have warned that some Australian cities could become 'virtually uninhabitable' due to a combination of blistering heat and smothering humidity.

In the past week alone, surface temperatures in parts of Darwin's inner city have been nudging 70C - and experts have told that some regional cities in Queensland 'may not be far behind'. 

This year, Bureau of Meteorology senior climate liaison officer Greg Browning warned Darwin residents that 'everything would be hotter than normal' in the lead-up to the wet season.

Average temperatures all over the country have been shattering records all year, with Hobart's recent run of six consecutive November days unparalleled in 130 years.

Darwin residents have 'suffered' through a 'hotter than average' lead up to the 2017 wet season

Sydneysiders are also in the midst of the warmest November week in nearly 50 years, ending a dismal run of rain and cooler temperatures.

A prolonged run of uninterrupted warm weather is due to hit the city with temperatures set to reach or exceed 25 degrees every day until the end of November.

'The last time this happened in November was in 1968, and it's only happened four times in the last 160 years,' Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke told Daily Mail Australia.

The last times Sydney basked in seven consecutive days of temperatures at or above 25 degrees were in 1968 and 1897.

The consistently warm weather is the result of a high pressure system - known as a 'blocking high' - that is centred over the Tasman Sea and is stopping any strong cold fronts from moving up Australia's east coast.

And it's not just Sydney that's rolling into summer - Melbourne residents have had sweltering spring temperatures for the past week, enduring the longest stretch of November days exceeding 28 degrees on record.

Australian National University's Dr Elizabeth Hanna warned that the issue would mostly affect the Top End due to the tropical humidity.

'We can cope with much higher temperatures in Melbourne because the air is drier, but in Darwin the high temperatures and humidity are oppressive.

'If it gets worse, those unpleasant times of the year (like the build-up) will extend longer and longer making it not a viable place to live,' she told the news site.

Professor Mattheos Santamouris explained that the way to combat climate change and battle rising temperatures is to 'understand what is happening at a local level'.

He warns that if Australia can't find a solution, the cities will eventually become 'uninhabitable'.

But it's not just the environment that will suffer - when it's oppressively hot, people feel 'crappy and grumpy' which impacts on people's social behaviour.  

Professor Samtamouris recommends planting more greenery - the surface temperature of grass in the city of Darwin is only 27.4øC, while bitumen can have a surface temp of nearly 70øC

Three months ago, the Territory Government kicked off a project to see where Darwin's hot spots were - and what was causing them - so they could cool down the CBD.

'The study found our streets, parking lots, roofs and pavements have very high surface temperatures, ranging from 45-67C,' said Chief Minister Michael Gunner at the time.

'Areas such as the Post Office carpark, the Supreme Court car park, and the Bus Terminal are incredibly hot - Cavanagh Street (the CBD's main thoroughfare) is a river of fire.'

Professor Samtamouris told Darwin was a 'classic case of an urban heat island' where materials used in roads and buildings 'turbocharged' temperatures.

Excessively hot surface temperatures can raise the temperature around them - for instance, black bitumen can heat the air by around 3ø - which is why Professor Samtamouris recommends more greenery in the city.

He also suggests building with alternative materials, like 'cooling' asphalt which works to bring own the surrounding air temperature.

The urban heat island effect is being felt most strongly in Darwin, but the rest of Australia may not be too far behind.

'Townsville and Cairns are not as bad but they will start to become like Darwin. Everything is just moving to the extreme but we just don't know exactly when or how fast it will happen,'' warned Professor Hanna.

'Global temperatures are going so badly and emissions are increasing so much that it's not looking good.'

Planting more trees and creating shady streets was a good strategy to make cities more liveable, she said, but as temperatures continue to rise, there's only so much that plants can do.


Britain is gripped by a deep FREEZE: Health chiefs warn of 'very real risk' of deaths as temperatures plummet to -4C and November looks set to be coldest on record

Just as quickly as the temperatures across Britain dropped this weekend, bookmakers have slashed the odds on November to be the coldest on record.

Britain is facing more sub-zero temperatures tonight as the cold snap which has braced the nation is expected to bite again.

The mercury dipped to -3.5C (25.7F) in Hurn, Bournemouth, while South Newington reached -2C (28.4F) and Drumnadrochit, near the Loch Ness dipped to -1.7C (28.94F), while health watchdogs have urged people to prepare for a prolonged cold snap. 

Ladbrokes slashed their odds to just 5/2 that November will be the coldest on record. The betting firm has also slashed the odds of the UK seeing a White Christmas to just 8/15, while Coral is offering 4/6 on the same bet.

Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes said: 'The sun might be shining but the odds are shivering south as much as the mercury is. It looks like the UK could finally see a proper White Christmas this year.'

Weathermen believe records may have been broken as this weekend was the fifth autumn weekend which saw temperatures fall below at least -4C. 

The Weather Outlook forecaster Brian Gaze said: 'All regions are at risk of rain, sleet and snow later in the week.

'Five autumn weekends in a row each having sub-zero cold snaps must be a record.'

And the low temperatures are likely to see a new level 2 Government health warning as hospitals prepare be to busier than usual., while staff prepare to make daily visits or phone calls to the vulnerable. Figures earlier this week showed there were more than 34,000 'excess deaths' across England and Wales over the last winter period, the second highest level in eight years. 

But despite the chilly temperatures last night, the mercury did not drop near to this Autumn's lowest temperature of -6.3C which was recorded this Friday in Topcliffe, North Yorkshire.

On Saturday there were smatterings of snow in parts of Scotland and the West Midlands, with more forecast for higher parts of Wales, the Pennines and parts of Northern Ireland overnight.

On Saturday there were smatterings of snow in parts of Scotland and the West Midlands, with more forecast for higher parts of Wales, the Pennines and parts of Northern Ireland overnight. The mercury dipped to -3.5C (25.7F) in Hurn, Bournemouth, while South Newington reached -2C (28.4F) and Drumnadrochit, near the Loch Ness dipped to -1.7C (28.94F)

A yellow weather warning was issued for the length of the western side of Britain and Northern Ireland from 10pm on Saturday until 10am on Sunday, alerting people to the risk of ice.

Yet the weather warnings have now been lifted, although a Met Office spokesman warned people living in coastal areas to remain vigilant as there is the possibility that showers which happen into this evening and overnight could pose a risk of icing over. 

Heading into next week, the Met Office warned of snow as far south as Essex by Wednesday, with the East, Northern Britain and Wales all due low-level snow near coasts.

While temperatures will remain similar to the 3-6C that most of Britain felt during the day this weekend, the bitter polar winds next week could make it feel a bitter -1 to -2C.

Temperatures in some parts of Britain could plummet to a brisk -7C on either Wednesday or Thursday in both Scotland or England, which would beat Saturday morning's low of -6.3C in Topcliffe, North Yorkshire. 

Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said: 'It turns cold again from Monday afternoon and stays colder-than-average through the week and for up to 10 days, with winds from the Arctic.


Thug cops still working in NSW police

A toy dinosaur could end up costing NSW about $500,000 after police settled a claim they had bashed two men in Queanbeyan in 2013.

The two officers have been promoted, one having made detective, and remain on the force after NSW settled the claim without admission of liability in August.

Court-tendered documents alleged Rickey Caton and Adam Antram were beaten by then-senior constable Todd Finnigan and then-constable Patrick Hicks in December, 2013 after Mr Caton pointed a toy dinosaur at senior constable Finnigan.

According to the claim, the two officers then charged Mr Caton and Mr Antram with numerous offences, including assaulting an officer, in what is now known as "the dinosaur incident".

The case went ahead until a third officer who was present, constable Lucie Litchfield, testified in court to the contrary.

In total, the incident could cost NSW about $500,000. After police dropped the criminal charges against Mr Caton and Mr Antram in October 2015, they paid their $110,00 legal costs.

Their lawyer, Peter Bevan, expects the NSW government to pay over $300,000 in legal costs after a civil claim lodged by the men saw the police settle for $45,000 apiece with the two men in August this year.

An internal police investigation into the officers' actions that night concluded in June this year they had not acted improperly and no disciplinary action was taken.

The two officers have been promoted. According to unrelated court documents from September this year, Finnigan has been promoted to detective; another unrelated document from May shows Hicks is now a senior constable.

"Those two officers remain in the workplace with the full confidence of the commander," a NSW police spokeswoman said.

Ms Litchfield resigned from the force in 2015, then telling Fairfax Media she had been driven out. Ms Litchfield was contacted for comment for this article.

Mr Bevan has lodged a complaint to the NSW police watchdog, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, regarding the investigation's outcome.

A commission spokeswoman said they were reviewing the internal report. "Once the LECC has completed this review, further information will be sent directly to the complainant about the matter," the spokeswoman said.

Speaking for the first time since the settlement, ?Mr Caton and Mr Antram expressed frustration the two officers remained employed.  "It wasn't even about the money for me, I would have rather seen them lose their jobs," Mr Caton said.  "If it wasn't for Lucie we probably would be in jail."

According to court documents from the settled civil claim on December 21, 2013, police stopped Mr Caton, Mr Antram and two other friends on Morella Avenue in Jerrabomberra.

They'd mistaken their car for one associated with a nearby violent home invasion when the men were in fact heading to the shops to buy more alcohol for their work Christmas party.

Senior constable Finnigan asked the men if they had any weapons. Mr Caton then held his daughter's toy dinosaur out the car window and said "No weapons, but I've got a big dinosaur. Roar."

According to the claim, senior constable Finnigan then opened the rear passenger door where Mr Caton was sitting, pulled him from the car, kicked his legs from underneath him, smashed his sunglasses and handcuffed him.

Constable Litchfield ordered Mr Antram from the car and told him to stand by a nearby retaining wall, which he did.

Constable Hicks then tackled Mr Antram, who was standing still, causing his head to collide with the wall, knocking him unconscious. The constable later claimed Mr Antram had charged at him.

"I couldn't believe it. Being charged with assaulting police, I thought I was honestly going to jail," Mr Caton said.

According to the claim in January, after the incident, officers Finnigan and Hicks told Mr Caton's and Mr Antram's boss the pair were unsuitable for employment.

He fired the two, who then couldn't find removalist work in Canberra.

Mr Antram's partner left him and he moved to Cooma where he still finds it difficult to find work.

Mr Caton believes he could have got more from the police, but working as a concreter in Canberra, he couldn't afford to take time off for a 16-day trial in Sydney.

Mr Antram said the harassment hasn't stopped. He described a night at the Cooma Hotel in August last year where he was invited to celebrate a mate's engagement.

Within minutes of showing up, Mr Antram said police had arrived with sniffer dogs, including constable Hicks. "You're looking good, aren't you," constable Hicks allegedly said.

There were other police who were looking at Mr Antram, one commenting "this is the guy who's taking us to court".

"I got underneath a camera straight away," Mr Antram said.

NSW Police were contacted regarding the incident, they declined to comment on the scenario but said the use of sniffer dogs at venues was routine. "The use of drug detection dogs within licensed premises has been used across the command with great success and will continue into the future," a spokeswoman said.

Mr Caton said he hasn't had similar encounters but refuses to go to Queanbeyan. "I'm alright with the coppers, but I won't go to Queanbeyan any more. I used to go there for pool comps, dart comps, all that sort of shit," he said.

Their lawyer, Mr Bevan, said they were still pursuing their legal costs from the state. "Although this is a lot of money to pay out, NSW Police have determined that no one is accountable," Mr Bevan said.


'Rubbish, we've done extremely well': Pauline Hanson

Pauline Hanson insists her One Nation party did 'extremely well' in the Queensland election despite failing to win a single seat.

The One Nation leader put on a cheerful face as veteran Sixty Minutes interviewer Liz Hayes asked her if the public's perception of her party as chaotic had cost it votes.

'No. No. Rubbish. It's not chaos when we are actually polling the second highest vote in these seats,' she said. 'We've done extremely well.'

The exchange became tense when Hayes asked Senator Hanson if she took any responsibility for One Nation's poor showing. 'If you don't win any seats, is that you who lost?,' the Sixty Minutes star asked.

Senator Hanson downplayed the result. 'Liz, for what we have achieved in short period of time, it is a positive,' she said.

'I'm not going to see a negative in it whatsoever and you or anyone else is not going to badger me into it.'

One Nation has failed in its bid to win a single seat in the Queensland parliament, despite a Galaxy poll in early November showing Senator Hanson's party with 18 per cent support across the state.

The party's primary vote fell to less than 14 per cent on Saturday, only two weeks after new Queensland Senator Fraser Anning, a former friend of Pauline Hanson, quit One Nation to sit as an independent.

He had replaced Malcolm Roberts, a dual British citizen forced out of federal parliament only to lose his bid for the state Labor seat of Ipswich.

When she launched her Battler Bus to kick off her campaign in early November, Senator Hanson appeared to suggest her party was on track to win more than 11 seats.  'Honestly I think this is going to be bigger than it was in 1998,' she said three weeks ago.

On Sunday, Senator Hanson insisted she had never put a number of the seats she expected to win in her home state.

'What I said was the feeling was stronger than what it was in 1998,' she told Sixty Minutes.

One Nation failed to win a seat in Townsville, where a Newspoll showed the nationalist party was on track to win the north Queensland electorate of Thuringowa off Labor.

The campaign suffered a setback when a 7News reporter ambushed candidate Mark Thornton with questions about his wife's adult shop.

In neighbouring Mundingburra, One Nation's Malcolm Charlwood denied posting sexist Facebook memes mocking married and overweight women.

One Nation also failed in the farming seat of Lockyer, west of Ipswich, which Pauline Hanson came within 200 votes of winning at the 2015 Queensland election.

Her party's state leader Steve Dickson, a former Liberal National Party minister, also lost his seat of Buderim on the Sunshine Coast.

The party's hopes were also dashed in Maryborough and Gympie, which the party had hoped to pick up.

One Nation's only realistic hope lies in the central Queensland seat of Mirani, where Stephen Andrew could defeat sitting Labor MP Jim Pearce with Liberal National Party preferences.

It also stands a chance in the north Queensland seat of Hinchinbrook, held by LNP frontbencher and former minister Andrew Cripps.

With Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's Labor Party yet reach a majority of 47 seats in the expanded 93-seat parliament, Senator Hanson insisted One Nation could still be kingmakers.

'If we win two or three seats or even one seat, whatever, it may come down to our seat to decide who is going to govern,' Senator Hanson said.

However, ABC election analyst Antony Green predicts Labor will have 48 seats, negating the need for the government to rely on One Nation or any crossbench MP to retain power.


Goodbye Goldilocks? Calls for parents to ditch traditional fairy tales in favour of gender-neutral books showing 'men in caring roles and women as scientists'

Children should be read gender-equal books instead of fairy tales of knights and princesses.

That's the view of former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who believes exposing children to gender-neutrality at preschool could help solve issues of pay disparity and violence towards women later in life.

'A lot of what our children see and are taught is subconscious gender stereotyping and what we have to do is really shift that, and we won't shift that until the social norms change,' she told The Sunday Telegraph.

Ms Broderick said children's literature in Scandinavian countries helps 'children understand that boys and girls can do anything.

'Their picture books are ones which show men in caring roles and women as scientists, through to looking at the division of unpaid work and the role of women in building the economy.

'I think we really need more of that approach here and it's not just putting all the men in caring roles and all the women as scientists. It is showing men and women in the diversity of roles,' she said.

Critics have slammed Ms Broderick's call as 'political correctness gone mad'.

Kevin Donnelly, director of the Education Standards Institute, told the publication that there was a real risk of 'damaging boys'.

'It is wrong to try and attempt to indoctrinate children with a politically correct gender agenda. 'It runs counter to human nature and what most parents want for their children - and it could be damaging to boys and their development'. 'Biologically girls and boys are different. Girls have a more nurturing role as mothers and wives which is different to what men are.'

Critic and entrepreneur Dick Smith told the paper: 'I'd much rather we weren't trying to make young girls aggressive by changing the messages they are getting. I'd much rather young girls continue to be nurturing, kind and understanding.'

Sam Page, CEO of Early Children Australia, told the paper he applauded Ms Broderick's call to introduce children to gender-equal ideas through books at school and wants parents to get board too.

'We've had examples where parents and dads have been really upset when boys dress up in dresses or traditional girls clothing as part of their normal play.

'While I don't think we should get rid of fairy tales altogether, we do need to contextualise and balance them with contemporary stories as well,' she said.


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

27 November, 2017

Illegal immigrants on Manus Island now no longer refugees  -- if they ever were.  Now have residence in Papua New Guinea

They didn't want to be freed from detention.  Detention suited them better than freedom did

The month-long standoff on Manus Island came to a violent end on Friday after Papua New Guinea police carrying batons raided the decommissioned processing centre and forced out about 330 remaining refugees and asylum seekers.

The men had subsisted on stockpiled food and rainwater for 24 days since the facility officially closed on October 31, having refused to leave citing fears for their safety and an unwillingness to move "from one prison to another".

PNG police entered the site for the second day in a row in Friday's early hours, and by midday all the remaining men had boarded buses for the nearby town of Lorengau, saying they could no longer resist police willing to use force.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the men's capitulation, telling reporters in Canberra: "That's as they should. That is precisely what you should do if you're in a foreign country: you should comply with the laws of that other country."

But the altercation was rough, with video seen by Fairfax Media showing local police appearing to wield long batons against refugees, and several of the men posting on social photographs showing cuts and bruises they said were sustained on Friday.

"They hit me on my hand," Pakistani refugee Samad Abdul said during the raid. "The police are so aggressive. They are telling us 'you should go back to your country'. They are swearing at us. Everyone is scared, everyone is just terrified. "We don't have any option to stay here. All of us, we all are going."

Another Pakistani man, Ezatullah Kakar, said the men were "crying" as they left the camp. He boarded the last bus and said the men spent Friday afternoon arranging transfers to one of three alternative accommodation sites in Lorengau.

Manus Island police commander David Yapu denied his officers used force and said the operation had proceeded "smoothly", but noted there had been "some resistance".

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said three people had sustained very minor injuries and claims of violence were exaggerated by Australian activists. He urged advocates to stop the "cruel hoax" of suggesting refugees might be allowed to come to Australia if they kept up their protest.

"You are offering out false hope to people who are in a difficult situation. You have compounded their problems," Mr Dutton said. "Under no circumstance will people be coming to Australia. We will provide whatever support we can to see people resettle elsewhere."

The minister also said backup power generators and water infrastructure at the new sites had been sabotaged, in what he called "an organised attempt to provoke trouble and disrupt the new facilities". Repairs were under way and the matter was being investigated, he said.

Labor's immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said reports of force by PNG police were of "deep concern", and demanded the Turnbull government agree to a refugee resettlement deal with New Zealand "immediately".

Mr Dutton dismissed that as "not an option that's on the table for us now" and said intelligence reports suggested it would mean the boats would restart.

Hundreds of refugees on Manus Island are awaiting possible resettlement in the US under a deal struck between Mr Turnbull and former president Barack Obama, which has been slow to get off the ground under President Donald Trump.

Only 54 refugees have gone to the US from both Manus Island and Nauru so far. Most have been on the islands for more than four years and many, such as Mr Abdul, are yet to be interviewed by US authorities.


"Woman" is now a bad word

MOTHERHOOD, it used to be said, is sacred. But perhaps in these supposedly more enlightened times we should change that to “carer status is sacred”.

As reported yesterday, Australia’s national Nursing and Midwifery Board just almost passed a new code of conduct which, among other things, would have made midwives refer to their patients as “persons”, not “women”.

As in, “the person in Delivery Suite A has been in labour for four hours”.

Welcome to mother… er, make that parenthood.

The shift was proposed, apparently, to make a universal change so that the profession would be more inclusive of those “individual instances” of women who identify as men giving birth.

Now of course everyone knows that transgender people are part of the community and surely no one of good will wants to make life more difficult for them.

But couldn’t it be left up to midwives and patients to work this out when these “individual instances” occur?

In any case, thanks to strong opposition from the profession, the Board relented, but not for lack of trying.

If anything, the progressive push to re-engineer the entire English language to suit whatever the rules are about what we can and cannot say this week is stronger than ever.

Political correctness used to be defended on the grounds of politeness, but the current language wars go far beyond that, even if they follow a predictable pattern.

What starts out as attempts by progressives to burnish their own moral standing by finding something to be offended about on someone else’s behalf quickly morph into campaigns to so comprehensively divorce words from their meanings that the rest of us dare not open our mouths lest we say the wrong thing.


Australia's seniors say the political correctness of millennials is ruining society

Older Australians are sick of the younger generation's manners, obsession with technology and political correctness, which they say is ruining society.

That was the verdict on the nation's young which emerged from a study commissioned by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency (ASIA).

Of 1,000 people aged over 50 surveyed by CoreData for the ASIA, 88 per cent thought people in modern Australia were too politically correct.

As well, 74 per cent of seniors said people who strived to be politically correct annoyed them, and 45 per cent said they tried to avoid being politically correct just for the sake of it.

And 86 per cent of those surveyed said the drive to be politically correct was ruining society.

Study findings:

85 per cent of older Australians found millennial social etiquette confusing

88 per cent thought people in modern Australia were too politically correct

86 per cent said the drive to be politically correct was ruining society

Employment etiquette included putting phones away in meetings, punctuality, personal hygiene

Posting online when tired, intoxicated or emotional in the top 3 no-nos

Nan Bosler, president of the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association, said seniors found it difficult these days when it came to simple things, such as certain words they used day to day.

"Names we have known things by all our lives, they weren't there out of disrespect or anything like that, it was just a name we knew things by," she said.

"And if we have to always modify what we're saying, it's a little distracting, it's a little bit frustrating.

"We of course do respect other people, so we understand about political correctness. "But we don't always think it's the way we want to go — we want to be true to ourselves."

Ms Bosley said too much sensitivity about the meaning of words and phrases acted as a barrier between younger Australians and people aged over 50. "I think we can just be too politically correct," she said.

"I suppose it's for the majority that the minority have to sometimes think well 'ok, can't say that anymore, I must remember that'."


Queensland election: Labor to form majority government, Antony Green predicts

Annastacia Palaszczuk will be returned as Queensland Premier with her government likely to win up to 48 seats, giving it a slim majority, ABC election analyst Antony Green says.

He said he was certain Labor would have at least 46 seats, with the ABC election computer predicting they would win one or two more, clearing the 47 needed to govern with a majority.

The LNP is predicted to win 39 or 40 seats.

One Nation and the Greens are predicted to win one seat each, Katter's Australia Party two, and one independent.

This afternoon, Labor state secretary Evan Moorhead said only Labor could form a majority government.

"Of the remaining 13 seats in doubt, we need to win four seats for a Labor majority," he said. "We are leading in six of these seats and very close in five further seats.

"We're confident that as counting continues, Labor will confirm a majority in the Queensland Parliament."

Green said on his numbers it looked like the Palaszczuk Government would get a majority. "But even if she falls a seat short, she doesn't have to do any deals," Green said. "She can leave it to the Parliament to vote her out, because it would be unlikely that all the crossbench would vote against them at once.

"It is a fixed-term Parliament — the Government can't just resign and walk out of office and leave someone else to form government — they can't do that, so somebody will form government. "So it is very hard to see how anyone other than Annastacia Palaszczuk can form government in the new Parliament.

"They have a certain 46, and they only need one more vote and at the moment we are giving them another two seats on a prediction."

Green said although One Nation had done well, it was not well enough to win many seats.

"There is a strong likelihood they could win the northern mining seat of Mirani — that's the only one," he said.

"The only other seats where they have done very well, the LNP has been re-elected on Labor preferences."
Mr Moorhead said Labor succeeded in keeping One Nation from the balance of power.

"Our principled decision to put One Nation last has rescued the LNP in regional Queensland, where their vote collapsed," he said.


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

26 November, 2017

Refugee frauds

I was stunned into silence the first time I saw a refugee reach Australian soil; it was a hot Saturday afternoon, February 24, 2007, and I stood with notebook and pen ­behind a waist-high barricade on the Christmas Island jetty.

The new arrivals smiled and waved. They carried bottled water and wore baseball caps given to them by young navy crew from HMAS Success, which days earlier had rescued them from their stricken vessel. It seemed astonishing that these 82 Sri Lankan men and one boy had made it ­almost all the way across the deep ocean of the Java Trench in a small wooden boat, and miraculous that they had been plucked to ­safety. I felt proud these victims of civil war had chosen us and that we would help them.

I cannot be sure of the moment my heart began to harden. It took a long time but I felt I lost my soul a little bit in the next decade. During 17 assignments to Christmas Island, I learned a lot about liars, opportunists and innocent victims while reporting on the more than 50,000 asylum-seekers who reached Australia by boat and the estimated 1200 who died trying.

The idea that an asylum-seeker could be digging for water inside a derelict offshore camp ­established by my own government would have brought me to tears at one time. But I was wary this month when that bleak scenario was acted out. I was mostly ­unmoved by the words of men at the old Manus Island camp who refused to move to the new accommodation built for them. Instead, I wondered immediately if refugee advocates had encouraged these wretched souls to hold out.

I am now out of step with — among many others — my union, the organisation of journalism professionals I have served as a volunteer since 2000. The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance co-signed a letter to Malcolm Turnbull asking him to bring three Manus Island detainees to Australia: cartoonist “Eaten Fish”, performer Mehdi Savari and journalist Behrouz Boochani. They ended up on Manus because they reached Christmas Island after Kevin Rudd slammed the door on boat arrivals on July 19, 2013.

It was already a brutal policy before the Coalition turbo-charged it by putting asylum seekers in orange lifeboats and pointing them towards Indonesia. Genuine refugees such as Boochani missed out on a smooth path to a new life in Australia by a matter of days. They were told on arrival they would be settled in a foreign country and never, ever in Australia. Boochani has responded with defiance, bringing international scrutiny to the plight of the men on Manus through tweets and online reports.

My friends — decent, compassionate people — will be surprised and possibly disgusted to know how I feel.

I had made wrong assumptions from the beginning. The Sri Lankans I saw taking their first steps on to the Christmas Island jetty in 2007 were rescued by the navy, but only after their ­Indonesian crew sabotaged the boat engine twice. And not everyone on board had sought out Australia as a beacon of humanity — one of the men later told me he had paid to go to New Zealand, which many of his countrymen preferred.

To round out my trifecta of mistaken beliefs during that first wide-eyed attempt at asylum-seeker reporting, it turned out Australia had not wanted to help these men at all. The Howard government tried to send them to Cuba in an elaborate people swap.

The 2007 Tamils were the first large group of asylum-seekers to reach Australia in more than a year. They were taken to a detention camp on the island that held just two Vietnamese men, long-time detainees who spent their days outside the centre gardening for the island council or visiting residents.

Rudd’s landslide victory over John Howard, which I watched on a wall-mounted television at Christmas Island’s open-air pub, the Golden Bosun, on November 24, 2007, changed everything. The island of 1200 permanent residents is a heavily unionised workforce of Labor voters; that night locals told me the boats would come again. They predicted a rush of arrivals like before the Tampa crisis of 2001, which triggered turnbacks and the hated Pacific Solution. I thought they were too cynical. I also thought: “So what? Refugees deserve protection.”

The following July, Chris Evans, the immigration minister at the time, unveiled a more compassionate policy on asylum-seekers, saying Labor “rejects the notion that dehumanising and punishing unauthorised arrivals with long-term detention is an ­effective or civilised response”.

“Desperate people are not ­deterred by the threat of harsh ­detention,” Evans said. “They are often fleeing much worse ­circumstances.”

In hindsight, it was as good as giving people-smugglers the double thumbs up. Christmas Island began to fill; by the end of 2008 there had been 161 arrivals, in 2009 there were 2557, largely from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. In 2010 6555 people arrived by boat and even Christmas Island’s $396 million immigration detention centre was full, which meant offshore processing was over. The Howard-era detention centre at Curtin in Western Australia’s remote north was reopened and it eventually held 1400 men. New, reopened or expanded immigration detention facilities were eventually needed in every mainland state.

More than 17,000 asylum-seekers reached Christmas Island in 2012 and now many were Iranians. The final year of the Labor government was chaos: 20,711 people arrived by boat, 7678 of whom were Iranians. Five boats in one day is the most I can recall.

I was based in The Australian’s Perth bureau during this extraordinary chapter and I spent many months on Christmas Island documenting the arrivals and listening to the stories of asylum-seekers. Perth was the only Australian city with a commercial service to the tiny Australian territory. The seven-hour flight via Cocos (Keeling) Islands initially ran just twice a week but ramped up to cope with the very big business of detention.

The first fatality I reported on was in April 2009, not long after the boat trade was re-energised; the vessel had been intercepted by the Australian navy when someone on board deliberately set off an explosion, killing five of the 47 asylum-seekers on it. Then a boat that left Indonesia loaded with asylum-seekers disappeared and was never found. Others were found capsized with desperate people clinging to the hull. Some vessels were not sunk by waves, they were just terrible junk that slipped under the sea in calm weather. By July 2013 there were 4000 detainees on the island and the coffins of the drowned were in my nightmares.

In those years the island was overwhelmed, not so much by the asylum-seekers but by the enormous number of public servants who came to detain and process them. There were hundreds of Australian Federal Police, Customs officials, detention centre guards, ASIO officers, teachers, case workers, cooks and cleaners.

The island’s sewerage system ­failed and began spewing brown liquid on to the pristine reef. Fresh fruits and vegetables were flown in for detainees but they were scarce on the outside — once I saw fresh milk had been airfreighted in and was on sale at the local grocer. I grabbed it before anyone else could and paid $19.95 for two litres.

As well as looking for stories, I often spent hours each day trying to find accommodation. Eventually we got to know locals who agreed to rent us their homes when they were on holidays. One woman let us stay in her unfinished and unfurnished house. We were often the only news outlet on the island.

I began with deep compassion for everyone I met in detention. Among them was Leela, a 19-year-old Sri Lankan journalist who was detained and beaten by Colombo police after his employer, a radio station, broadcast a speech by an LTTE leader. He was bashed again in detention, including by a professional kickboxer at Sydney’s Villawood, an angry man who was waiting to be deported to New Zealand for violent crimes.

Leela and I became friends and talked a lot about food, a neutral topic that kept the conversation away from the twin horrors of life in Sri Lanka and in Australian ­detention. I gave him Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. He is now a chef in Sydney’s Surry Hills and has bought a second-hand BMW. He is so happy.

A lot has been written about the dire mental health of the men on Manus Island, but people were going mad in the camps on Christmas Island long before anyone was shifted to Papua New Guinea. One detainee dug his own grave and slept in it each night for months. A stateless Kurd nicknamed Spiderman spent an entire month naked in Villawood and threw his faeces at people.

The family “camp” at Christ­mas Island was every inch a detention centre and it deteriorated into one of the most disgraceful things I have seen — it was overcrowded with kids who had no grass to play on. Due to a falling-out between immigration officials and the local sports club, children could see an oval and playground equipment from their compound but they were not ­allowed on it.

Guards drank ­heavily, apparently to cope with stress. Some would phone me at night, horribly drunk, to say they could not stop thinking about the cries of parents whose children had drowned. Detainees ­befriended the guards, but sometimes they also attacked them (on one ­occasion by pouring a kettle of hot water over an unsuspecting staff member).

Some male guards were accused of assaulting detainees. Stories of middle-aged female guards flirting with young male detainees were common. It was all so sick and strange, and I suspect everyone knew it. The island’s camps began to wind down when the boats stopped, and from July next year the last of them, the men’s detention centre on the northwest corner of the island, will be empty.

Built by the Howard government and dormant until the run of boats that started in 2008, this centre was a well-appointed hellhole. Groups of male detainees were caught raping, and attempting to rape, the weak. Self-harm became a form of self-expression; one ­female guard walked into a compound in early 2011 to find a man with his lips sewn and his body strapped high on the fence with his arms out and his feet together “like Jesus Christ or something”. She joined a growing number of colleagues on stress leave.

The centre’s “visiting room” was converted to a ward where up to 20 self-harming detainees were under watch each day. These were the lip sewers, cutters, hunger strikers and men who had tried to hang themselves.

The most dominant personalities in detention were in regular contact with refugee advocates. Greg Lake, a former director of offshore operations, was howled down in 2014 when he told me that asylum-seekers in detention were being coached and encouraged to attempt self-harm by refugee ­advocates, who then used the incidents as political capital.

Lake has long since left the ­Department of Immigration and Border Protection — he is a Christian who said he struggled with Australia’s decision to send asylum-seekers to Nauru. But he is watching the debacle on Manus Island closely. “When you see people exploit their victim status to try to get something from Australia, it’s usually a good sign that they’re not the right person for us to take,” he tells Inquirer.

Lake stresses that at the height of the arrivals under Labor, many of the asylum-seekers who arrived by boat were still genuine refugees with heartbreaking stories. But he says opportunism was rife by the time of an influx of middle-class Iranians.

“There were some Iranians who struggled but probably nothing like the proportion who ended up showing up (in Australia),” he says. “A lot of those who came by boat were here to exploit the system and these people don’t ­deserve the support, frankly. They get in the way.”

A former kitchenhand at the family camp on Christmas Island told me in 2011 that the wealthiest new arrivals “bossed staff about like servants”. “We have to call them clients, even when they’re throwing their dinner on the ground,’’ he said at the time. “One Iranian guy said, ‘I’m not going to eat this. Do you know how much I paid to come here?’ ”

It seemed to contradict what I thought I knew about asylum-seekers and their motives. I ­realised there was a misunderstanding in some individuals’ minds about what Australia’s ­humanitarian intake was for. Some viewed it as a service they had purchased. Being called “clients” by guards and immigration officials reinforced this.

I was shocked when a camp doctor told me “Persian prin­cesses” in the camps were asking for breast enhancements and their husbands requested cosmetic dentistry. Sitting on the beach at Flying Fish Cove, the doctor told me his theory that in Iran people-smuggling agents were selling the lie that the Australian government would happily provide these things as soon as they stepped off the boat. Could this be right? I know I did not try as hard as I should have to pursue stories such as this. I felt the claims were too outlandish, too hard to prove or that they would reflect unfairly on the genuine refugees in detention.

Then in 2013 the former director of medical health services for Australia’s offshore asylum processing network, Ling Yoong, confirmed to the Medical Observer that detainees did, indeed, request Botox, IVF and breast enhancements when they underwent standard medical checks in the camps.

This was all happening as Syrians began to arrive at Christmas Island by boat. Families fleeing a humanitarian crisis that displaced 5.1 million people were in the same camp as a young Iranian woman who told me — through the detention centre fence — that she had been living in Malaysia but ­decided to come to Australia by boat to pursue a modelling career.

I found it so difficult to believe anyone would risk their life if their life was not already at risk. But I was finding out that they did.

Among the most extreme ­examples was a British citizen who had no claim to asylum but wanted to live in Australia, and a woman from Russia who arrived with her Afghan boyfriend in 2011 — on the boat ride over she sat on the deck reading a book. In detention, which she initially thought was a hostel, she was shocked to learn from a guard that a few months earlier 50 people had died on a boat like hers that foundered against the cliffs on Christmas Island. Footage of asylum-seekers falling into the sea as that boat broke up in wild weather on December 15, 2010, was a jolt to many Australians.

I looked for a personal story and found nine-year-old Seena Akhlaqi Sheikhdost, who was ­orphaned that day. In the next two months in ­detention on Christmas Island, Seena injured himself kicking his bedposts in grief and told other children that his parents were not dead.

On ABC’s Q&A this week, former Labor immigration minister Brendan O’Connor cited that tragedy when he was asked whether the Coalition should ­accept New Zealand’s offer to take the men protesting on Manus ­Island. O’Connor — who oversaw the establishment of a temporary morgue on Christmas Island to hold the many drowned — would say only that he believed the offer should be considered. Though he was interrupted several times, O’Connor insisted on making his point that the passengers on that doomed asylum boat in 2010 had left transit countries.

“I saw the bodies of men, women and children and, let me tell you, when they got on that vessel at that point they were not fleeing persecution,” he said. “We have to find a way to stop people embarking on unseaworthy vessels where they kill themselves. That’s why I don’t bring righteousness or sanctimony to this debate. It’s very complicated.”

Amid all this tragedy, I was still looking for happy stories. I found them on “visa days” at the Christmas Island airport where I interviewed freshly released refugees who were suddenly free and on their way to the Australian mainland as permanent residents. It was the loveliest part of the job to speak to people who had found safety and to tell their stories in The Australian. On four occasions that I remember well, newly ­minted visa-holders waited until immigration officials were out of earshot and warned me frauds were getting visas, too. These people were dobbing, and each of them seemed sincerely concerned about the integrity of the system that had helped them.

Over time, and without noticing it, I became extremely anxious about the prospect of having to ­report on more drownings. I hated these stories; the raw grief I witnessed on the jetty after a sinking or a capsize had a cumulative effect. I began to wish hard that somebody — anybody — would stop the boats.

An asylum-seeker coffin is light grey steel with a number on it. Sometimes there were so many dead that airport ground crew worker Mark Stein and his colleagues found it quickest to load them on to planes with a forklift, four at a time.

But when baby Abul drowned with almost 100 others between Indonesia and Christmas Island on July 12, 2013, he was placed into a special white coffin with a number on it for his final journey to Melbourne for burial. It was child-sized yet still too big for a 10-week-old baby.

Abul’s parents, Masouma and Ali Jafari, told the horrible story of being tricked by people-smugglers who took $25,000 from them, ­assured them they would be safe and put them in a rotting boat. ­Masouma and Ali saved three of their four children as rescuers drew near but the baby was torn from them; when the family was delivered to dry land, Masouma had an empty baby carrier strapped to her chest. A female guard put an arm around her.

Sometimes there was a miracle amid the misery — baby girl Raha was one. After another asylum boat sank on July 16, 2013, navy crew members from HMAS Warramunga spotted her floating face down in the water. They pulled Raha into a rigid inflatable boat and saved her life.

“The baby was unresponsive and the boat crew immediately commenced CPR,” the navy later confirmed in an emailed response to my questions about the girl ­locals called “the miracle baby”.

Raha had stopped breathing again on the way to the navy vessel and the crew had again revived her. Her 30-year-old mother was never found, nor were 10 others in their party. As Raha was transported to Christmas Island hospital with her two young sisters and their father, Sudollah, the bodies of four drowned adults from Raha’s boat were placed in a refrigerated sea container near the town swimming pool.

I worked hard to get the details of this rescue. Trying to be hopeful as ever, I wanted to produce something uplifting. The navy heroes deserved it, I told myself, and it was truly amazing that she survived. But moments before I filed the story I looked again at the photograph that would accompany my words and I wondered what on earth I was thinking. It showed beautiful Raha in her father Sudollah’s lap on the Christmas Island jetty. He was ashen-faced and staring straight ahead. His three girls had just lost their mother. His wife was dead. This was not the dream they had been sold.


Philip Ruddock appointed to conduct review of Australia's religious freedoms

This is just a ploy to get the Christian question out of the debate over homosexual marriage legislation

The government has appointed Howard-era cabinet minister Philip Ruddock to lead a review into the legal protections for religious freedom in Australia, which has emerged as a contentious issue inside the Coalition ahead of the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Announcing the review, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said recent proposals for religious protections went beyond the immediate issue of marriage and warned any change should be undertaken carefully.

Former attorney-general Philip Ruddock has been appointed to ensure religious freedoms are protected as the government pushes ahead with legalising same-sex marriage.

"There is a high risk of unintended consequences when Parliament attempts to legislate protections for basic rights and freedoms, such as freedom of religion. The government is particularly concerned to prevent uncertainties caused by generally worded Bill of Rights-style declarations," Mr Turnbull said.

Since the Australian people backed same-sex marriage in the postal survey, Coalition MPs have been pushing various proposals for religious exemptions, including allowing service providers to boycott weddings that conflict with their faith. One proposal would see a section of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights incorporated into the same-sex marriage bill.

Debate over the raft of proposed amendments has risked derailing the government's plans to legislate the change by the end of 2017.

Mr Ruddock, who retired from Parliament in 2016 and was recently elected as mayor of Hornsby, will conduct the review with an expert panel consisting of the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission Rosalind Croucher, retired federal court judge Annabelle Bennett and Jesuit priest Frank Brennan.

The Prime Minister said the review, which will report back by March 2018, would be a "timely expert stocktake" to inform any future legislation.

Treasurer Scott Morrison, a vocal advocate for religious exemptions, said he was pleased with the review and emphasised it was "not a substitute" for relevant amendments to the same-sex marriage bill.

"Those amendments ... will still be pursued and, as you know, I have a view that they should be supported," Mr Morrison told ABC radio.

As the last attorney-general of the Howard government, Mr Ruddock introduced the 2004 amendment to the Marriage Act that explicitly defined it as a union between a man and a woman.

He was recently the government's special envoy for human rights and has strong connections to Australia's multicultural and religious communities.


Hindus get lamb ad ban as advertising watchdog does backflip

Lamb may well be the meat to eat this Spring, but you won’t be watching any more of one particular ad about it.

The Meat and Livestock Corporation’s (MLA) latest offering, featuring a range of religious gods, deities and prophets has been has been banned.

The ad sang the praises of lamb as the food of the gods, with a message of unity and bringing people of diverse backgrounds together.

But the fact that it featured opposing divinities and prophets including Jesus, L. Ron Hubbard, Thor, Zeus, and Hindi god Ganesha proved its stumbling block, with the advertising watchdog ruling it discriminatory to those of the Hindu faith.
It’s a U-turn by the Advertising Standards Board, which originally sided with the view of the MLA that it was fine, despite a flurry of complaints when it first aired from Hindus seeing red.

But after an independent review the Board revised its decision, ruling the ad is discriminatory to those of Hindu faith.

The review rejected the board’s initial majority finding that the YouTube advert, which showed Lord Ganesha at a meal celebrating lamb as “the meat we can all eat”, was “lighthearted and humorous” and did not breach the advertising standards code.

At issue is the portrayal of Ganesha, with the board ruling Ganesh got “less favourable treatment” in the ad. The Hindu god is a vegetarian.

In the ad, amid lines like “it’s a nightmare catering for you lot with all your dietary requirements”, the agnostic host declaring a toast “to lamb — the meat we can all eat”, comes another line about “addressing the elephant in the room”.

It was the “elephant in the room’ reference which caused the problem, because the deity — who appears in elephant form — was the only one singled out for his physical characteristics.

The phrase “might sound cute and clever”, the Board noted, but to Hindus, Ganesha is “not just an elephant” but rather “the first deity in all Hindu services, and is considered the remover of obstacles”.

It ruled the MLA had not given adequate consideration to “how seriously some Australians take their religious views — and did not pay due attention to the level of offence about something important to those people”.


Australia's Energy Guarantee Could ‘Decimate’ Wind, Solar


PM Turnbull plan calls for emissions reduction of 28% by 2030
Government to debate national energy guarantee plan on Friday
Australia’s proposed National Energy Guarantee program could slash investment in large-scale wind and solar projects if the government fails to boost its 2030 emissions-reduction target, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull government’s goal of reducing emissions by 28 percent by 2030 only requires an additional 1.5 gigawatts of new large-scale renewables, according to an estimate by BNEF. That target “could decimate large-scale wind and solar construction” while a 45 percent reduction target advocated by the opposition Labor party would “continue the current boom,” it said.

“The National Energy Guarantee could be an effective and innovative policy mechanism, but if the target is weak, it will deliver little,” BNEF’s Australian head Kobad Bhavnagri said in an email.

Turnbull’s Liberal-led coalition government will provide information to the states on Friday in a bid to get them to back the National Energy Guarantee, which aims to bolster reliability of Australia’s faltering electricity grid. Australia’s six states and two territories will need to approve the program for it to function properly with a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments to be held Friday in Hobart to discuss the plan.

The Labor plan would require 17.3 gigawatts of large-scale renewables, according to BNEF’s modeling. The level of ambition by the nation’s political parties on emissions reduction targets will ultimately play a big part in determining the success of the government’s proposed energy policy, according to BNEF.

Turnbull on October 17 ditched plans to set renewable power targets as part of his latest policy to lower electricity prices and require generators to guarantee reliable supply and limit emissions. The government has argued that falling costs mean the technologies no longer need government subsidies to compete against traditional energy sources.


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

24 November, 2017

There’s a touch of fluidity in comments on Safe Schools program

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk argues that the Marxist-inspired Safe Schools gender and sexuality program is not being taught in Queensland’s schools and, if re-elected, her government has no plans to impose it on students.

The LNP, in its election policy, says that if it wins government it is committed to “withdrawing the Safe Schools Coalition resources from Queensland schools” and implementing a general anti-bullying and anti-discrimination program.

Who to believe? Based on the ALP’s 2017 state platform document Putting Queenslanders First, it’s clear, while not specifically mentioning Safe Schools, that a Palaszczuk government intends to force schools to adopt similar radical gender and sexuality programs. These are programs and resources that a commonwealth inquiry found unsuitable for students and that have been withdrawn from schools interstate, except for Victoria, the Albania of the south under the Andrews ALP government. The Palaszczuk platform document says an ALP government would “invest in professional development, training and ongoing support for school principals, teachers and support staff so that they can support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer/questioning students”.

Couple that with the ALP’s plans to “reduce discrimination, harassment, abuse and bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer/questioning students” and it’s clear who to believe.

The only comfort is that the ALP’s gender and sexuality policies are not as extreme as the Greens’. A watermelon party that argues gender, instead of being genetically determined, is a “lived” social construct where individuals, including schoolchildren, can self-identify as whatever gender they desire.

It’s not just gender and sexuality where the two major parties differ. The LNP is committed to giving schools greater autonomy over decision-making based on research that proves flexibility at the local level raises standards.

Queensland Labor promises to stop funding the program and to undertake a review. This review, no doubt, given its reliance on the support of the Australian Education Union, would return schools to inflexible, bureaucratic control. As an example, instead of letting schools choose staff best suited to their culture and mission, the ALP document states teachers will be chosen by a “a statewide staffing system”.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is director of the Education Standards Institute and author of Dumbing Down


China will finance Adani coal mine, insiders say, as Greenies vow obstruction

The Adani Group is close to securing finance for its controversial coal mine and railway project in outback Queensland, with an announcement expected in coming weeks that Chinese state-owned enterprises, banks, and export credit agencies are backing the venture.

Australian taxpayers may be let off the hook under the deal, which could mean Adani no longer requires an Australian Government-subsidised loan of up to $1 billion for the railway it needs to transport the coal to port.

But China's money will come at the cost of local jobs.

Chinese enterprises and export credit agencies invariably require that materials for key infrastructure are sourced from China, effectively shifting work out of Australia and undermining Adani's claims its project will create many thousands of additional jobs for Queensland.

Jobs and exports from existing coal regions will be decimated by new project, according to new research.

Just days ago, a director of Adani Mining, an Australian subsidiary of the Adani Group's flagship company Adani Enterprises, told industry figures Adani had secured Chinese funding for the Carmichael mine in North Queensland and the Carmichael rail project.

He said Adani would not need the loan from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to fund the 388-kilometre railway, and claimed a formal announcement of "financial close" was imminent, the ABC has been told.

Details are sketchy, however the ABC revealed earlier this month that a Chinese state-owned enterprise, China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), was in negotiations with Adani for contracts to build key mining plant and equipment in return for China's financial backing of the Carmichael mine.

CMEC is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, but is 78 per cent owned by the giant Chinese state-owned enterprise China National Machinery Industry Corporation Ltd, or Sinomach.

Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.

We asked if you thought leaving Australian taxpayers off the hook in funding the coal mine was more important than keeping jobs in Queensland.

Adani Mining's chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj told Reuters in October that Adani was in talks to secure loans from export credit agencies for its mining equipment and tie up other funding.

"The company is in advanced discussions in all these cases with merely term sheets under final negotiations," he said.

Mr Janakaraj said Adani was looking to sell minority equity stakes in the coal project, and rail line, to financial institutions and contractors to help fund it.

"By the end of this financial year, all things will be in place," he said.

The Indian financial year ends on March 31.


Manus Island: Police enter former Australia-run asylum centre

Image caption PNG authorities have given asylum seekers a deadline to leave, the former detainees say

Police in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have entered a former Australian-run detention centre in a bid to get asylum seekers who remain there to leave.

Hundreds of men have refused to leave the Manus Island centre since it was shut down on 31 October, citing fears for their safety.

On Thursday, men inside the camp said that PNG police had given them a one-hour deadline to leave. One refugee, a journalist, was reportedly arrested.

Australia said it was a PNG operation.

Under a controversial policy, Australia has detained asylum seekers who arrive by boat in camps on Manus Island and Nauru, a small Pacific nation.

Australia shut down the Manus Island centre after a PNG court ruled it was unconstitutional, urging asylum seekers to move to transit centres elsewhere on the island.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his nation would "not be pressured" into accepting the men, reiterating a long-held policy that such a move would encourage human trafficking.

"They should obey the law and the lawful authorities of Papua New Guinea," Mr Turnbull said.

One refugee, Abdul Aziz Adam, said about 420 asylum seekers were in the centre early on Thursday. PNG police later told Australia's ABC that about 35 men had left voluntarily.

The Sudanese refugee told the BBC a large number of police officers had entered the compound.

"They had a really big microphone in their hands and started telling people 'you have to move'. They are taking all the phones away, destroying all the rooms and belongings and everything," he said.

Another refugee, Iranian reporter Behrouz Boochani, was arrested, according to Australian media outlets and journalism union Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA).

The MEAA called the arrest of Mr Boochani, a prominent voice within the centre, an "egregious attack on press freedom". A video and a separate photo appeared to show him being led away by officers.


Australian school apologises for 'suggestive' saint statue

An Australian school has covered a statue from view because of its "potentially suggestive" depiction of a saint handing a loaf of bread to a boy.

The Catholic school in Adelaide apologised on Wednesday for the statue, which was completed recently.

The sculpture, portraying St Martin de Porres, was widely criticised after images of it were posted online.

The unfortunate position of the loaf of bread held by the saint led to some misreading the scene.

Blackfriars Priory School said it had commissioned a new sculptor to "substantially alter" the design.

In a message posted on Facebook, principal Simon Cobiac apologised to the school community for "any concerns and publicity" caused by the statue.

He said the school had approved its design and commissioned a sculptor in Vietnam, but "upon arrival the three-dimensional statue was deemed by the [school] to be potentially suggestive".

The Adelaide Advertiser newspaper said the statue had been installed last week and later covered with a black cloth.

It drew public attention after an image of the statue was posted on a popular Adelaide Instagram account, where it attracted hundreds of comments.

"Who designed that...surely someone has to say 'mmm big mistake'," wrote one commenter, in a sentiment echoed by many.

Mr Cobiac said the design had been intended as a "depiction of the tireless work of St Martin de Porres, a Dominican brother, for the poor and downtrodden of the 16th Century".


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

23 November, 2017

Legal battle: James Cook Univer­sity trying to muzzle critic of reef alarmism

Outspoken James Cook Univer­sity professor Peter Ridd has taken Federal Court action claiming conflict of interest, apprehended bias and actual bias against vice-chancellor Sandra Harding.

Professor Ridd wants JCU to drop a misconduct investigation launched following his interview with Alan Jones on Sky News on August 1 in which he criticised the quality of Great Barrier Reef science.

In the interview, he said research findings by major institutions could not be trusted. “We can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, even things like the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

“The science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated, and this is a great shame.”

JCU responded in late August by launching a formal investigation for misconduct which could result in Professor Ridd’s employment being terminated.

Professor Ridd engaged legal counsel, with new accusations being made by JCU and Federal Court action being lodged by him.

JCU has said Professor Ridd’s comments were “not in the collegial and academic spirit of the search for knowledge, understanding and truth”. It said his comments had denigrated AIMS and the ARC Centre and were “not respectful and courteous”.

In letters lodged with the court, JCU said Professor Ridd’s comments could damage the reputation of AIMS and the university’s relationship with it.

In a letter to JCU on September 7, Professor Ridd’s legal team, ­Mahoneys, called on JCU to drop the case. They said the university suffered a conflict of interest in its investigation.

“The vice-chancellor is a council member (akin to a director) of the Australian Institute of Marine Science,” Mahoneys said. “The vice-chancellor is in a position of conflict between her duties and ­office to the AIMS and to bringing an impartial mind to a decision on the allegations (against Professor Ridd).”

JCU responded on September 19 that it was “not satisfied that there has been no serious misconduct or that the allegations are unsubstantiated”. It said Professor Ridd “must not disclose or discuss these matters with the media or in any other public forum”.

Mahoneys responded on September 27, repeating concerns about conflict of interest: “There are only two conclusions our ­client can reach as to why the complaint is continuing to be prosecuted: incompetence or act­ual bias, neither of which is satisfactory or tolerable to our client.”

JCU then engaged law firm Clayton Utz, which on October 6 wrote to Mahoneys to say: “The matters you have raised are not matters that prevent JCU from ­addressing your client’s conduct and JCU’s expectations of your client as a JCU employee.”

Mahoneys responded on ­October 13 that the Utz response was “evasive and inadequate”.

On October 17, Clayton Utz wrote “further allegations and concerns” had been raised against Professor Ridd. “These matters ­related to allegations of similar conduct and/or a pattern of insubordination and denigration of the university,” Clayton Utz wrote. It rejected the allegation of bias, ­apprehended bias, or inability of the officers of the university to ­address Professor Ridd’s conduct.

JCU again wrote to Professor Ridd on October 23 highlighting comments made to Jones. In the Jones interview, Professor Ridd said: “I think that most of the scientists who are pushing out this stuff — they genuinely believe that there are problems with the reef; I just don’t think they’re very objective about the science they do, I think they’re emotionally ­attached to their subject.” In its letter, JCU said it “is not satisfied that the principles of academic freedom excuse or justify your comments”.

The university said it did not accept a conflict of interest or apprehended bias existed.

On November 7, Mahoneys said “new evidence” was “entirely separate”. “The revised offending conduct cannot reasonably have had any effect on the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee, that is, of course, unless the employer was hypersensitive in the extreme and determined to find slight in every action,” Mahoneys responded.

Professor Ridd said in correspondence to The Australian he hoped the court action would “draw attention to the quality ­assurance problems in science and the obligation of universities in general to genuinely foster debate, argument and the clash of ideas”.

“I think it is right to challenge our science institutions about whether their work is reliable and trustworthy,” he said.

A JCU spokesman said “it is not appropriate to comment on confidential matters’’.


These Liberals have missed the point of the party

Government bloat continues under the Turnbull government

Having imprudently cancelled parliament for a week, the Turnbull government could use its spare time to reacquaint itself with the liberal mindset. The one that believes in more — not less — liberty, greater individual responsibility and the corrupting power of big government. And the one that understands the three vices of government: taxing us too much, spending too much of our money poorly and, worst of all, presuming to tell us how we can spend the bit we’re left with after we’ve paid our taxes.

It was once a safe assumption that a Liberal leadership team understood all of this. They understood that a system that taxes work and investments while subsidising non-work has an inherent flaw of discouraging work and investment and encouraging non-work.

Sadly, today there is bipartisan weakness when it comes to genuine tax reform to provide incentives, not penalties, for work.

Malcolm Turnbull told a Business Council of Australia dinner on Monday that tax reform has been a personal priority of his since entering parliament in 2005, when he compiled a paper detailing tax reform options. The test will be whether the Prime Minister can move beyond being a tax teaser, writing a tax paper 12 years ago to rile then treasurer Peter Costello and giving a speech this week, to delivering real tax reform.

In the meantime, as the Parliamentary Budget Office paper revealed last month, during the next four years bracket creep will move 1.8 million taxpayers, particularly middle-income taxpayers, into higher tax brackets through routine wage rises. The top 40 per cent of taxpayers will see their tax rate rise by almost three percentage points compared with tax rates in 2000.

Worse, the PBO analysis found that the Turnbull government is relying on bracket creep and other tax revenue to deliver its 2021 budget surplus. In other words, a surplus will be thanks to taxpayers putting more of their money into the coffers, not through spending cuts.

This raises the other vice of government. When the government spends other people’s money on other people, it invariably makes poor spending decisions. The aim then should be to spend less of other people’s money, leaving more for them to spend themselves.

Sadly, high spending has become bipartisan, too: spending as a percentage of gross domestic product sits at 26.6 per cent in 2016-17, higher than the 26.1 per cent in 2008 under Kevin Rudd and much higher than the final years of the Howard government, at 23.6 per cent in 2006.

You might think that a Liberal government would at least resist the third vice of telling us how we can spend our own money. That sin of government is a truly illiberal form of nanny-statism, the home of paternalistic, far-left Greens who assume they know better than us how we should spend our own money.

Except the Turnbull government is due to put its name to this third vice, too, making it three-for-three on the scorecard of government vices.

Changes to consumer lease provisions, soon headed for the partyroom and then the House of Representatives, breach the most basic principles of individual liberty. The draft legislation lauds as a “key reform” a prohibition on consumers entering into a consumer lease for household goods if rental payments exceed 10 per cent of their income. In a bill of many ill-conceived changes to consumer lending, this one change really stinks.

Paternalistic caps on how much money a person can spend are usually limited to recipients of welfare. Except that the Turnbull government wants to impose the same prohibition on everyone when it comes to consumer ­leases. It raises the simple question: what business is it of government to tell Australian taxpayers — even those on modest incomes — how they spend their money?

Last year, Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer explained it on the basis of “financial inclusion”. Like other faddish phrases such as social justice, diversity and tolerance, financial inclusion is one of those sweet-sounding expressions we expect from the Greens when they try to justify government intervention. And as with so many feel-good words, you can usually count on opposite outcomes. So it is with O’Dwyer’s daft allusion to financial inclusion.

Telling consumers how much of their income they can and cannot use on leases for household goods will end up penalising those who most need the goods quickly, and under the terms of a consumer goods lease that allows them use of goods while shifting risk over maintenance and repairs to the lessor.

That’s why consumer leases cost more and, like other financial products, they must comply with a plethora of laws, from responsible lending requirements to credit licensing to misleading and deceptive conduct provisions.

When the misnamed “reform” was handballed to Small Business Minister Michael McCormack, he said O’Dwyer’s review found that high-cost consumer good leases “have the potential to result in very poor consumer outcomes”. Except that the hard facts, as opposed to “potential” risks, point to very few cases of unscrupulous behaviour in an industry worth $569 million with about 300,000 present consumer leases. On the contrary, in the past financial year just 270 complaints about consumer leases were lodged with the Credit and Investments Ombudsman.

The government urge to “do something” is seductive. But it ought to be part of the skill set of a sound Liberal government to make the case as to why they’re not adding new laws to the books, not telling people what to do with their own money, and not adding more red tape on business.

Smaller government, and less government interference in our lives, used to be a core Liberal Party principle accepted as a good starting point within a Liberal leadership team, meaning the prime minister, the treasurer and senior cabinet members.

So too was personal responsibility. Even if we sometimes make the wrong decisions, mistakes teach us how to become more responsible. It was once a safe assumption that, in contrast to Labor and the Greens, senior Liberals responsible for policy understood that politicians should not infantilise people by encouraging them to see government as a curer of all ills, because that would inflict far worse evils on society.

Not any more. Instead, it’s left up to a solid and growing group of Liberal backbenchers to protect the party brand, keeping it true to liberal values and clearly distinguishable from the paternalistic illiberalism of Labor and the Greens.

When parliament last sat in mid-October, Russell Broadbent spoke up in the Liberal partyroom meeting, challenging the leadership team about the illiberal moves to regulate who can be a senior banker under Scott Morrison’s kneejerk banking accountability regime. The usually quiet backbencher from Victoria described the government’s intervention as the “opposite of everything we stand for”.

Broadbent has emboldened many others across the ideological divide of the party. They talk of the “Russell Broadbent moment” as breaking a dam of silence of those previously concerned about speaking out for fear of being victimised by a leadership hierarchy that has become values-free and transactional.

The silver lining of a truncated parliamentary sitting period is that the Turnbull government will have less time to pass this lousy law and more time to listen to backbenchers who are asking that the Liberal leadership group give liberal values a chance. It can’t turn out worse than the government’s current downward trajectory.


The Four Scorners stopped truth from ruining its ripping yarn

Don Dale remains open. Last year the ABC’s Four Corners announced to the world that the Northern Territory “tortured children”, and engaged in “barbarism” in facilities such as Don Dale. It sparked an inquiry — the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory — which reports on Friday.

More than $50 million was spent trawling through the system that “tortured” so many innocents. The time for investigation more than doubled and the commission heard from hundreds of witnesses, yet Don Dale remains open.

How could this be? Neither has a single person been referred for criminal investigation. If any further recommendations are made regarding criminal investigations, it will most likely be the reinvestigation of matters already ­examined.

Four Corners was told at the time that these matters had ­already been investigated. But that went unreported. The ABC made only passing reference to the fact the Don Dale in which the gassing events and the other acts that so shocked Australia took place had already been closed.

The gassing episode has since been examined by the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory and declared to be an exercise in reasonable force. Neither are charges likely over the use of the restraint chair and spit-hoods. Their use was lawful and was overseen by a panel of experts. The old Don Dale was decrepit and had been closed long before Four Corners arrived. Its reporter did a piece to camera standing in a cell decrying the awfulness of it, but the empty building had long been vacated. The new Don Dale Centre, a former prison, had been declared fit for purpose by Michael Vita, an expert in youth detention in the NSW corrections system.

In conversation with me, Four Corners’ Caro Meldrum-Hanna said: “All I’m saying is we can talk … about change and progress but unless we see it and you can take us into the facilities where the change and progress is occurring, it’s very difficult for people to … to fully understand it unless they’re shown it.”

They were shown it. The public and the Prime Minister were not. Meldrum-Hanna also acknow­ledged the plight of many of the youth in the Territory, saying it was “sad” that Don Dale might be the safest place for some children.

That observation reflected the complexity of the issues faced by young offenders in the Territory.

In correspondence, the ABC indicated it was aware of the substantial improvements in the Territory’s corrections system and wished to report on that and the challenges it faced. Those issues were explored at length but were not broadcast because Four Corners came into possession of footage that then condensed 10 years of events into a few minutes of CCTV footage.

So precious was the footage that it was never put to me. I suspect that was because they knew I had ­already referred the matters for investigation and it would have diluted the impact. The ABC insisted it secured the footage late in the piece but it didn’t ask anyone in the Territory about it. Its Darwin office could have told Four Corners it was known and much of it had been reported on.

Four Corners wanted to shock, not give oxygen to the real issues. The net result was a royal commission. So where are the scalps? Why is Don Dale still operating? The royal commission will likely find systemic problems, but there clearly is no urgency.

What Four Corners did was gravely misleading and it did so after having been told openly that crimes had been investigated and, where necessary, people had been charged and/or sacked.

Since that time, Four Corners has snarled at critics of its conduct.

The ABC sought to suppress criticism of it at the royal commission and subsequently has refused to investigate Four Corners on the grounds the complaint was not made within six weeks, despite a discretionary power to overturn that rule. Anyway, it said, most of that material would now be “unavailable”.

Really? Material that could have been called as evidence before a royal commission is suddenly unavailable?

I don’t know if Malcolm Turnbull would have called for a royal commission had he been told all these matters had already been investigated. But he wasn’t told. The ABC says he would not have made his decision based solely on its report. Actually, yes, he did.

During conversations with Four Corners, I sought and repeatedly was given assurances that the highest ethical standards were being applied. In the opinion of other news outlets, trusting the ABC was a rookie mistake. That trust was why it was given the ­extraordinary access.

Those ethical standards can be found in the ABC’s Code of Practice under the heading Impartiality and Diversity of Perspectives. I believe Four Corners failed all five guidelines.

The ABC is a federally funded public service organisation. It withheld information from a Prime Minister and based on partial information the Prime Minister made a call to spend $50m. Since that time, the ABC has declared its footage unavailable; attempted to suppress evidence before a royal commission; and, when asked, has refused to investigate itself. Even an ABC journalist referred to it as a “hatchet job”.

If the royal commission report does not deliver scalps or, worse still, fails to even recommend criminal investigations and prosecutions, it will be because the information that led to its establishment was deeply flawed and misleading.

If any other public service department conducted itself in that fashion, it would be worthy of a Four Corners expose.


Brace yourself NSW – you can expect a return to the bad old days unless ICAC's funding is fully restored

Geoffrey Watson, SC

The need for a powerful and independent anti-corruption agency in NSW is obvious. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has been effective, especially in the past five years, in exposing corruption and removing corrupt individuals from government. This work has been an essential step in restoring some confidence in governmental decision-making.

That is why recent revelations that the ICAC is insufficiently funded are disturbing. A failure to properly fund the ICAC undermines its power and destroys the ICAC's independence from government.

We know from evidence given by the chief commissioner, Peter Hall, QC, that as a consequence of funding cuts the ICAC has had to eliminate one-quarter of its investigative team and is constantly hampered by a lack of staff and a lack of funds.

I know from my own days at the ICAC that, even when there was full funding, not all suspicious activities could be investigated because there were insufficient resources. Compromises were made. Because of the funding cuts the position at the ICAC is much worse now than it was then.

It is enlightening to understand how the present problem came about. In June 2016, then premier Mike Baird made two consecutive announcements. His first announcement was he and his government had "zero tolerance" for corruption. This was a strong, positive sentiment for which he could be admired. But his second announcement was he intended to inflict massive funding cuts on the ICAC.

Baird never got around to explaining how he could reconcile these two inconsistent propositions.

Just as a matter of timing, the funding cuts were made shortly after the ICAC had exposed numerous members of Baird's party as committing election funding "irregularities". It is hard to imagine the funding cuts were completely unrelated to the ICAC's work.

Whatever the reason for the cuts, this inadequacy of funding robs the ICAC of its real power. Now, more corrupt transactions will go uninvestigated, and more corrupt individuals will escape exposure and punishment. Brace yourself NSW – you can expect a return to the bad old days.

But the funding cuts have a second effect – it takes away the ICAC's independence. By reducing its funding, the government makes the ICAC subservient to it. It means the ICAC will be required to go to the government outlining why it needs money and justifying it by outlining what it is doing. This leads to the unsettling idea that the investigative agency needs to beg for money from those persons it should be investigating.

It all depends upon what you want. If you do not mind corruption then you will not mind a weak ICAC. If you want to stop corruption and you want to expose corrupt individuals, then you need a properly funded, powerful and independent ICAC.

I say that if you really want to stop corruption in NSW then the chief commissioner should be given all of the funding he wants – and then it should be doubled.


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

22 November, 2017

'Overpopulation will destroy Australia'

Dick Smith claims skyrocketing immigration will cause mass unemployment and most of our children 'will sell coffee to each other'

Dick Smith has launched a new ad campaign, warning overpopulation will cause mass unemployment and poverty. The entrepreneur's new advertisement, titled Overpopulation will Destroy Australia, will appear in six newspapers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Appearing on Sunrise, Smith denied he was anti-immigration, but said migrant intake needed to be capped at 70,000 people per year.

The businessman said at current growth rates Australia could be home to 100million people by 2100, causing mass unemployment and poverty.

'In a primary school class today 65 per cent of the kids there will have a job that hasn't been invented yet,' said host David Koch during a discussion on Sunrise.  'Most of their jobs will be selling coffee to each other,' Smith replied.

'I think you are going to have a lot of poor people like America, where they can't even support a wage,' he said.

Smith launched a controversial advertising campaign earlier in the year, warning unchecked population growth would lead to famine, disaster and war.

The latest ad, appearing in two newspapers today and four on Wednesday, claims eight out of ten Australians want a population plan.

'Voters - ask your state and federal politicians to come up with a plan - otherwise, tell them you will be voting for the Sustainable Australia Party...or Pauline!' it reads.

'Don't let the wealthy donors to political parties destroy Australia as we know it today.'

Smith said the increase in immigration to over 200,000 people per year started under John Howard is unsustainable, and is calling for a cap of 70,000.

He accused the ABC of bias in September, claiming they portrayed him as anti-immigration in a panel discussion.

Politicians are afraid to speak up about immigration and overpopulation for fear of being labelled racist by the national broadcaster, he claimed.

Smith said he would support any political party that comes up with a population plan, but at present only Pauline Hanson's One Nation was addressing the issue.

Figures released earlier this month show Australia  is growing at an annual pace of 1.6 per cent, double the average among the world's 78 richest nations.

A survey by the Australian Population Research Institute released in October found 74 per cent of Australians believe the country is 'already full'.

Of those surveyed, 54 per cent wanted a reduction in the annual migrant intake and 48 per cent backed a partial ban on Muslim immigration.


Leftist hate never stops

The angry, foul-mouthed phone calls to Liberal MP Andrew Hastie’s electorate office started soon after the results of the same-sex marriage survey were declared last Wednesday.

Then came a deluge of abusive emails, tweets and Facebook messages from victorious same-sex marriage advocates that have shocked the usually unflappable Mr Hastie and his staff — some of whom voted Yes in the survey.

Many are furious over Mr Hastie’s controversial decision — flagged months ago — to abstain from voting on the issue in parliament even though his own electorate of Canning, south of Perth, returned a 60 per vote in favour of same-sex marriage. For this he has repeatedly been labelled a “homophobe” and a “coward”.

One anonymous correspondent emailed Mr Hastie’s office: “Listen you f..king maggot. You are there to carry out the wishes of your electorate & not to enforce your own homophobic & bigoted views. Don’t be a c... Vote for it in parliament.”

Even a reporter from a local newspaper expressed her fury with the MP. “F..k you Hastie,” wrote Rachel Fenner, using her maiden name of Steward, as she shared a story on Facebook by her paper, the Mandurah Coastal Times, about the MP’s decision to abstain from voting.

The editorial director of Perth-based Community Newspapers, Ken Burrowes, said yesterday Fenner had posted to what she believed was a “closed group of friends” and she had learned a “valuable lesson”.

In a separate comment on Mr Hastie’s Facebook page, Fenner said of the deeply religious MP: “Thank you for letting your imaginary friend and a book of fables written 2000 years ago dictate your actions instead of the people you were voted in to represent.”

Nick Kapirnas also joined the debate on Mr Hastie’s Facebook page. “You are a useless piece of shit Hastie,” he wrote. “You don’t deserve to be in your seat.”

Facebook user Tyron Gore chipped in with: “Hastie is an arrogant bigoted fool who needs to ­either do the right thing and represent the majority in his electorate or resign as a coward and a failure of a man and politician.”

Others questioned Mr Hastie’s war record and brought up allegations that a soldier under his tactical command in Afghanistan had cut the hands off dead Taliban soldiers during the heat of battle. (Mr Hastie was cleared of any wrongdoing over the incident.)

“Andrew Hastie needs to look deep within his psyche. He’d rather kill another man than kiss them,” wrote Facebook user Alan Gordon.

Mr Hastie declined to comment yesterday. But he has told friends it has been the most brutal week he has experienced since he entered parliament at a by-election in 2015. A spokesman said the MP respected the outcome of the survey, which is why abstaining was the most appropriate action.



Four current articles below

Green voters are snobs, says Labor Party survey

About 70 per cent of Greens voters in inner Melbourne are rich, dislike unions and think suburban people are backwards, ­racist and bigoted, Labor has concluded based on its own research.

A six-month survey of Melbourne Greens voters has encouraged the Victorian Labor Party to give up on campaigning to most of them, arguing they do not share Labor values and are closer to the Liberals.

Labor has dubbed them “Teal Greens”, with teal being a colour blend of green and blue. The party has decided to target the 30 per cent “Red Greens” in Melbourne’s inner city who are typically university students or Millennials starting their careers.

“Red Greens” are usually renters who are more likely to come from Labor families, while “Teal Greens” own expensive inner-city homes and have parents who vote Liberal.

The qualitative research surveyed more than 50 Greens voters in inner suburbs such as Fitzroy, Brunswick and Clifton Hill, from January to June this year. Party sources said the findings showed the biggest concern of many Greens voters was the ­notion of living in the outer suburbs that contributed to their ­interest in local planning laws.

“Teal Greens” are usually highly paid professionals in two-wage households, are aged in their 30s and 40s and “look down on” ­people in suburbs, thinking they hold Australia back from being “tolerant” and “just”.

After the Greens’ victory in the state seat of Northcote at the weekend, Labor faces a fight to hold inner-Melbourne federal seats such as Batman, Wills and Melbourne Ports. Labor thinks the broader boundaries of the electorates will help it retain the seats as they encompass modest suburbs as well as affluent inner-city ones.

Victorian senator Kim Carr said: “The blue Greens are really the hardcore Liberal types in their attitudes, the red Greens are more sympathetic to our message. There is the homeowners and the renters big divide.

“The homeowners talk about their sense of privilege and their sense of entitlement, their wealth is the natural order of things ­rather than good fortune.”

Senator Carr, the federal ­opposition industry spokesman, said many “blue Greens” migrated into inner-city Labor seats from traditionally Liberal areas or from Sydney and Brisbane.

“These are traditionally Liberal voters that are moving into these areas. They are not Labor people,” Senator Carr said. “They claim to be progressive social values but we surveyed them and their biggest fear was actually being forced to live in Pascoe Vale and Coburg.

Their real anxieties are different to what they claim them to be. Their preoccupations are ­essentially material conditions, not with the state of the world ­environment.” The “blue Greens” traded on “snob appeal” and were closed to Labor, he said.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said the claims were “fairytales” and voters were shifting because of Labor’s support for offshore processing and the Adani coalmine.


Greenie dam-hatred to cost Queenslanders big

Foot-dragging on building Rookwood Weir

Queenslanders face a $500 million bill to pay for 600 B-double trucks to transport water into central Queensland every day unless the weir was built, an explosive report kept secret by the State Government revealed.

A shock business case for Rookwood Weir warns Rockhampton and nearby towns could run out of water from just one “failed wet season”, raising questions why the State Government repeatedly refuses Mr Turnbull’s offer to build the weir.

The Prime Minister yesterday accused the Premier of being “beholden to an inner-city Green-Left agenda that doesn’t like dams”.

Sources told The Courier-Mail that Mr Turnbull had pledged to fund the entire project in a meeting with Ms Palaszczuk earlier this year.

Speaking in Mackay this morning, Ms Palaszczuk said her Cabinet is still yet to receive the full business case for the project but conceded her Government has received the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Report.

“Let’s be very clear, with Rookwood Weir, I attended a meeting with the Prime Minister, Senator Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce,” she said.

“What was discussed there very clearly was ... they would look at building and operating it themselves. Subsequently to that we did not hear anything further about that proposition that they were canvassing at that meeting.

“Let me make it clear, after the meeting some of his (Mr Turnbull’s) senior officials came up to my senior officials and said ‘oh no they don’t mean that’. So lets get some clarification from him, does he want to pay for the whole lot? If he does, all well and good.”

Ms Palaszczuk also said she was not concerned that Rockhampton would run out of water, despite the project continually being stalled. “I am not concerned because the detailed work is happening and will be discussed by Cabinet,” she said.

“Unfortunately I believe there is a little bit of politics being played locally but I believe in the best interests of Central Queensland — we need to work together.”

Asked in north Queensland yesterday if there had been any progress on the Rookwood Weir business case, the Premier said: “No, not at the moment.”

The 229-page Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project report, exclusively obtained by The Courier-Mail, was commissioned by State Government-owned corporation, the Gladstone Area Water Board. It implores the Government to build the weir and soon, advising it is the cheapest way to secure water for the region.

The report was handed to the State Government on October 27, which was two days before the election was called.

However, Building Queensland, which provides the State Government with independent advice on major infrastructure, provided its assessment in September.

Rockhampton’s main source of water is the Fitzroy Barrage storage, which is heavily reliant on regular seasonal inflows, including the annual wet season, to maintain supply.

The report flagged water would have to be trucked in from Awoonga Dam if there was not enough water.

“Building Queensland estimated ... a total cost for five months’ emergency supply at $486 million, while noting that there were doubts over the feasibility of this solution,’’ the report said.

“Gladstone Area Water Board’s position is that this solution is not feasible at the required scale (and) the logistics involved are daunting. “(It would mean) 4000 daily B-double movements of a 260km round trip.

“Working 24 hours, seven days and assuming a filling, travel, delivery and return travel time of only 3.5-4 hours, a fleet of at least 600 B-doubles would be required.

“The as-yet unidentified filling point(s) and delivery point(s), and the regional road network would need to be able to accommodate the constant movement of 300 B-doubles in each direction between Rockhampton and Awoonga, ie approximately two departures per minute.”

The report revealed power could become more expensive for Queenslanders because Stanwell power station might need to reduce its water use during severe water restrictions.

“Rockhampton’s continued reliance on a single source is particularly risky because that source is uniquely vulnerable to low inflows,’’ the report said.

“The characteristics of the barrage storage and the Fitzroy flows, combined with Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast’s demand, mean the storage is insufficient to make sure supply can survive a single failed wet season.

“In the event of a period of low rainfall, such as a failed wet season, Rockhampton has no means to respond with demand management measures or contingent water supply arranges and instead is likely to experience a complete supply failure.”

The report also pointed to a boom for the agricultural sector because more water meant more crops.


Diesels win the day

They are very polluting and run on "fossil" fuels but what the heck!  Anything is better than the demon coal

South Australia, Australia’s wind power capital, has signed up to squander $150 million on one of Elon Musk’s creations, that would power the state for all of 4 minutes when the wind stops blowing and/or the sun goes down.

Weatherill’s wonder has been nicknamed the ‘NeverReady’ battery by wits in SA, because, despite being trumpeted for months as SA’s saviour, it is unlikely to be operable this Summer.

Meanwhile, over the border in Victoria, a long-touted plan for mega-batteries in that State has just run out of juice.
Instead of running on wind and sunshine – having killed the 1,600 MW baseload plant, Hazelwood earlier this year – Victorians (like their South Australian cousins) are going to be running on diesel powered generators. Oh, the irony.

Plans for two large-scale batteries to help secure Victoria’s power supplies this summer are in disarray, with a $25 million proposal by the Andrews government still in the planning stage months after construction was due to start.

Touted as a “game-changer” by Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio when she and Premier Daniel ­Andrews announced the investment in March, no successful bidder has been announced for the storage initiative.

The project, which is meant to deliver two 20-megawatt batteries with combined capacity of at least 100MWh, was due to start construction in August so it would be ready for peak demand in January.

The state will now rely on diesel generators pumping up to 100MW of power into the grid to guard against blackouts during heatwaves. It is understood the government is still assessing the bids to provide the batteries, but a spokesman for Ms D’Ambrosio yesterday declined to answer questions about the delay and whether the battery plan would proceed.

“We’re making sure Victoria is equipped with the next generation of energy technologies that will support a resilient energy system,” the spokesman said.

The batteries were to be installed in western Victoria, and each would be capable of powering a town such as Bendigo or Ballarat for up to four hours during a peak demand period.

Opposition energy spokesman David Southwick said the Andrews government was “delivering a third-world energy policy” and changing its policy on the run.

“These are desperate policy ­announcements by a government who simply can’t figure out how to solve the problem they created in closing down Hazelwood and taking 22 per cent of energy out of the market,” he said.

Experts have previously questioned the business case for large-scale storage in Victoria and whether $25m would be sufficient to pay for it. The government has claimed energy storage will play a “vital” role in integrating renewable energy into the network and improving grid reliability.

“This initiative will highlight Victoria’s position as a leader in managing the transition to a secure and modern energy system through deployment of new energy technologies,” the state’s Environment Department said in an information packet for potential bidders.

AGL Energy has flagged plans to build a 250MW battery — which would be the world’s biggest battery and more than twice the size of the 100MW plant being built by Tesla in South Australia — at the site of the Liddell black- coal power station.

The federal government last month unveiled the National Energy Guarantee, which attempts to align climate and energy policy by obliging retailers to buy certain amounts of energy from ready-to-use power such as coal, gas, pumped hydro and batteries, and from renewable sources such as wind and solar to lower emissions.


'No plans' to shut power plants: Qld Labor

Queensland's Labor government says it has no plans to shut down state-owned coal-fired power stations so it can meet its renewable energy target.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey has rubbished a new analysis of Labor's 50 per cent renewable target by 2030, which warns of power station closures and an increased risk of widespread blackouts.

He says the analysis is the work of former LNP federal candidate Jonathan Pavetto, and claims of plant closures are politically-driven nonsense. "We have got no plans to close any of them," Mr Bailey has told ABC radio.

"Mr Pavetto was intimately involved in the privatisation program as a consultant by Tim Nicholls and Campbell Newman ... you've got to see it in that context."

Mr Pavetto, an electricity economist, produced the analysis for the Australian Institute for Progress, whose executive director is former Queensland Liberal Party vice president Graham Young and whose directors include former Queensland Liberal Party state president Bob Tucker.

Mr Pavetto's analysis says Stanwell's Tarong plant near Kingaroy would be first to close in 2018-19, followed by two units at the Gladstone Power Station in 2020-21 and Stanwell's Rockhampton station in 2026-27.

He also warns Labor's green power policy could result in blackouts across the state, for up to 15 per cent of the year, once the policy is in full force.

Mr Pavetto went on ABC radio on Monday to defend his views, which he says are backed by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

"What their reporting shows is that to get to a 50 per cent renewable target by 2030 - and they have modelled this - is that there will be some requirement to close down power stations in Queensland," he said.

He says AEMO has stated in its National Transmission Network Development Plan that coal-fired power generation would have to be cut to reach the 2030 renewables target, with Tarong, half of the Gladstone plant, and then Rockhampton to close.

"If you're going to be having a 50 per cent renewables capacity ... you have to displace some of that coal generation from somewhere," Mr Pavetto said.

The Electrical Trades Union backed the Labor government, calling Mr Pavetto's work a "deeply partisan" analysis from a right-wing think-tank backed by Liberals. Union spokesman Keith McKenzie says the ETU trusted Labor not to shut power plants and not to sell public assets.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls says he's seen the reports of plant closures, and his party flatly rejected Labor's "crazy" renewable energy target.

"Queenslanders want reliable and affordable power; they don't want to end up like South Australia with blackouts and the most expensive power in the western world," he told reporters in Bundaberg.


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

21 November, 2017

Violent burglaries linked to Sudanese youth - including children as young as 10 and Apex-linked members have 'surged 400 per cent in three years'

An imported problem. It was John Howard who started accepting African refugees

Sudanese youth as young as 10 have committed 400 per cent more violent burglaries in just three years.

Federal Liberal MP Jason Wood, a former police detective who is heading a parliament inquiry into migration, has released terrifying crime data on Apex-linked gangs, who are known to particularly active in south-east Melbourne suburbs like Frankston and Pakenham.

It shows the number of Sudanese-born criminals, aged 10 to 18, committing aggravated burglary in Victoria surging from 20 in 2014-15 to 98 in 2016-17.

The Melbourne-based politician accused Labor of overlooking the data to avoid being labelled 'racist'.

'With South Sudanese hugely over represented in violent crimes in Victoria, the protection of all those living in Melbourne and Australia must come first,' Mr Wood told the Sunday Herald Sun.

The Liberal backbencher is calling for the deportation of visa holders who commit home invasions.

The data he released also showed a 55 per cent increase in serious assaults by Sudanese youth, between 2014 and 2017, from 29 to 45.

Car stealing by these African youths had also doubled in the same time period, from 63 to 150.

Sudanese-born youths, aged between 10 and 18, are the most represented ethnic group when it comes to aggravated burglaries, car thefts and sexual offences, the newspaper report said.

Sudanese comprise just 0.11 per cent of Victoria's population, but 4.8 per cent of aggravated burglary offenders.

Victoria's Crime Statistics Agency last year released data showing aggravated home invasions by Sudanese-born youth, aged 10 to 18, had risen 10-fold between 2012 and 2016, to 40 incidents.

Apex-linked gangs are notorious around the Frankston, Sandringham and Cranbourne/Paken­ham rail lines, the Victorian police revealed in 2016.

But there have also been incidents in Melbourne's inner-west and western suburbs.

In June, a man was struck in the head with a tomahawk when a gang of men burst into a Melbourne barber shop and started brawling.

Up to 15 men, many who are believed to be of African descent, entered the shop in inner-city Footscray and began fighting.

In April, a gang of five Sudanese teenagers allegedly bashed their autistic classmate, in a horrific attack on a bus at Tarneit, in Melbourne's west.

The 17-year-old student was travelling alone to the city centre, when five boys approached him and told him to hand over his mobile phone and new Nike shoes.


Christians commiserate after same-sex marriage vote loss

The campaign against same-sex marriage in Australia was an “extraordinary success” despite losing the national postal survey, crossbench Senator Cory Bernardi says.

The Australian Conservatives senator believes this is because it convinced about 40 per cent of participants to vote ‘no’ despite competing with a “ten-year campaign” by marriage equality supporters who enjoyed “tens of millions of dollars” in funding.

“That is a fantastic start,” Senator Bernardi told about 700 delegates at the Australian Christian Lobby’s national conference in Sydney on Saturday.  “You have established an amazing base, you have some wonderful leaders, you have some extraordinary technology and you have it all in the palm of your hands.”

Senator Bernardi attempted to further rally the religious troops, saying if only half the ‘no’ voters elected “decent Senate candidates” at the next election there would be up to a dozen politicians in the upper house to drive change.

“We can no longer be silent, we can no longer sit back and rely on prayer to change the course of earthly events,” he said.

“Prayer is important - never underestimate that. If you want to pray for things, pray for strength for those who are leading in this battle.”

Senator Bernardi said he went into the process of changing the Marriage Act with “a degree of optimism”.

But he also warned parliament was “tortured” - as illustrated this week when he moved a series of provocative motions including a failed attempt to oppose Medicare funding for gender-selective abortions.

That motion, Senator Bernardi explained, caused confusion as some senators left the room and other merely sat on the observers benches.

“You’ve got a party of government effectively not knowing whether they’re Arthur or Martha on gender-selective abortions,” he joked, drawing laughter and applause. “We need people in parliament who know whether they’re Arthur or Martha.”

The faithful gathered amid reports federal Attorney-General George Brandis is considering incorporating article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights into the same-sex marriage legislation.

The move to appease conservatives demanding better protections for freedom of religion, speech and parental rights was supported at the conference by ACL managing director Lyle Shelton.

“I welcome that because that’s essentially what the (alternative) James Paterson bill was doing and yet he’s been demonised all week,” Mr Shelton told the 700 delegates.

“The ICCPR is actually quite a good document. It’s one that we at ACL ... have quoted in our government submissions for years.”

Article 18 of the covenant — which Australia agreed to in 1980 — states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

Leading No campaigner and Queensland senator Matt Canavan told Saturday’s conference he’d be moving amendments to Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage bill to enshrine those protections.

Asked later if he’d work with Senator Brandis, the Nationals senator said: “I plan to move my own amendments but obviously it’ll be worked out.”

He said if conservatives lost the battle to protect the freedom of religion, speech and parental rights “that does strike at the foundation of our Western society”.

“I’m trying to fight to ensure that we’re not a persecuted minority,” Senator Canavan said. “There is no other country to flee to in the world if we lose ... there’s no other planet we can take ourselves to.”

Just.equal spokesman Rodney Croome says the only reason for inserting the ICCPR clause into the Marriage Act would be to override state and federal laws preventing discrimination against LGBTI people.

“Senator Brandis’s proposal risks clogging the courts with claims that religious freedom trumps other rights,” he said in a statement.

New Zealand Family First national director Bob McCoskrie told the ACL conference that since gay marriage was legalised in his country in 2013 Christians have been discriminated against for holding traditional views.

He warned of “new frontiers” in the battle, including an acceptance of polygamy, and urged delegates to stay strong.

“We’ve had some losses ... but we are not called to win, we are called to speak truth.” Mr Shelton said the No campaign lost because the “rainbow coalition” was better organised.

“We didn’t lose this in a three-month campaign we lost this because of 20 years of silence when the other side was talking and advocating,” he said. “We haven’t been showing up ... that has to change.”

Mr Shelton urged Christians to join a political party to challenge “bad ideas”. “A wonderful take-out of this campaign is there now is a standing army emboldened to continue fighting for freedom.

“Thousands of volunteers have had a taste of political campaigning and activism and they’re saying ‘What’s next? We want to stay in the fight. We want to keep going.”


Victorian power bill likely to jump by $470. Energy Australia announces MORE hikes to electricity and gas prices for 2018

Victorian households are expected to be slugged with a significant increase to their power bills by the start of 2018.

The state's third largest energy retailer Energy Australia is rolling out significant price jumps in the coming year, according to the Herald Sun, pushing up the cost of both electricity by almost 15 per cen and gas by 13.5 per cent.

The average residential customer will be slugged an extra $278 a year for electricity, pushing their annual bill to approximately $2134, while gas customers' bills will jump to $1612.

But it's not just Energy Australia customers either - other retailers are expected to announce similar increases by December 1.

Experts blame the price surge on a combination of the 'steep climb' in wholesale energy prices and the closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station.

Energy Australia's chief customer officer Kim Clarke said wholesale electricity prices have risen about 55 per cent since the start of the year and this pain was being passed on to customers.

'With this (latest) price increase that we have got there is zero retail margin increase in that,' she told the publication.

'Since August, calls to our contact centre are up 30 per cent and it's easy to under­stand people are looking for a better deal on energy.'

But while Financial comparison website Mozo's spokeswoman Kirsty Lamont said energy price rises would continue, she advised people to keep shopping around. 'Energy bills are the second biggest household cost after the mortgage or the rent, so an increase of around 13-14 per cent will be a huge pain point for many households,' she said.

'When it comes to energy, if you are not shopping around you are not saving because energy providers generally reserve their biggest discounts and best deals for new customers.

'If you have been with the same energy provider for a few years, chances are you are paying a lot more than you could be.'

In an attempt to minimise the financial pain, Energy Australia is giving both new and existing customers the chance to  to sign up to their Secure Saver two-year energy plan. The new plan locks in energy prices on both electricity and gas for 24 months and will put the 'pause button' on price rises.

Customers have until January 31 to sign up to the Secure Saver and avoid the January price hike.


Bob Katter grabs an opportunity to talk about the unchecked crocodile population in the Far North

The Far North is too far away for most politicians to bother about a few people getting chomped

North Queensland Federal MP Bob Katter has bizarrely talked about marriage equality in the same sentence as the growing crocodile violence in his electorate.

Footage of the interview was played on Insight which shows a relaxed Mr Katter brightly speaking about the same-sex marriage debate in a tender tone before things take a turn.

'I mean, y'know, people are entitled to their sexual proclivities. Let there be a thousand blossoms bloom, as far as I'm concerned,' he said during a press conference last week.

Moments later the conservative politician's entire face changed into an expression of anger.

'But I ain't spendin' any time on it, because in the mean time, every three months, a person is torn to pieces by a crocodile in North Queensland,' he managed to spit out.

The maverick Queensland crossbencher previously said he is so worried about parents losing the right to object to their children being taught the Safe Schools program he wants the law changed.

The Katter's Australian Party leader and renegade Nationals MP George Christensen, a fellow Queenslander, are working on a parliamentary bill that would give parents the right to pull their kids out of the controversial gender theory lessons.

Mr Katter, who holds the vast far-north Queensland seat of Kennedy, said the legalisation of same-sex marriage would force children into learning about gay sex and relationships.

'I don't want anyone to underestimate the damage that is being done here to the people of Australia,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

'It opens the way for them to teach same-sex marriage in school.'


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

20 November, 2017

Yes vote means a new minority needs protection

Miranda Devine

ON Thursday night, 24 hours after the same-sex marriage result, young Christians from the No-voting western half of Sydney took five litres of black paint to Yes-vote heartland, inner-urban Newtown, and painted over an offensive mural of Cardinal George Pell and Tony Abbott engaged in a sex act.

The giant mural depicted the former Prime Minister as a bride with his hand down the topless Cardinal’s rainbow underpants, complete with pubic hair and caption “The Happy Ending”. It was painted on the wall of the Botany View Hotel on Wednesday as a perverse celebration of the 61.6 per cent same-sex marriage ‘Yes’ vote.

Within hours someone had splashed white paint across the wall, obscuring Cardinal Pell’s face.

But it took 28-year-old Maronite Catholic builder, Charbel, to do the job properly.

He and a mate drove to Newtown and proceeded to paint over the mural using a long-handled roller, respectfully leaving the artist’s name intact and choosing a colour that blended in with the rest of the building. He was impervious to abuse from passers-by calling him “fat wog” and “bigot”.

And then on Friday night, to the horror of locals, a group of 30 Christians from the western suburbs turned up with rosary beads and incense to pray the “Hail Mary” next to the painted-out mural.

“This mural was a direct attack on Christians or anyone who believes in a god,” says Charbel. “This is homosexual activists saying we are here, we are loud and strong and when you oppose us we’ll accuse you of hate and not being reasonable and acceptable. What I want to know is, where’s our acceptance?”

This is the cry of the four in ten Australian who voted No and are being treated now like outcasts by gloating Yes campaigners, chief among them the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In his triumphalist speech when the result was announced, the PM lauded the 7.8 million Australians “who voted yes for fairness”.

But he barely acknowledged the 4.8 million Australians who voted No, not because they believe in unfairness, but because they are concerned about the consequences of such a profound change to our foundational social institution. He said nothing to allay their fears.

All he said was: “I know a minority obviously voted no. But we are a fair nation.”

To be fair, he deserves credit for sticking with his election promise to hold a plebiscite, and he has been vindicated with an extraordinary participation rate of almost 80 per cent.

Same-sex marriage has been legitimised by the mandate of the majority, and those of us who were on the losing side accept the result in good faith.

But Turnbull assured us during the campaign that he believed in religious freedom “even more strongly” than in same-sex marriage.

And now social conservatives find themselves disenfranchised and unprotected.

Last week they were being ridiculed for trying to protect basic freedom of expression, association, thought, conscience or religion, and for upholding the right of parents to ensure the education of their children is in accordance with their beliefs.

Crikey accurately described the “general hilarity” that greeted Senator James Paterson’s serious effort to craft a bill that balances competing rights when same sex marriage becomes law. Ignored was his 35,000-word explanatory memorandum containing 19 examples from countries where people have been persecuted for holding a traditional view of marriage, from the Irish baker, the Canadian law school and the British adoption agency to the Washington florist, the Sydney GP and the Tasmanian bishop.

According new rights to one minority should not leave another minority vulnerable and afraid that they will be persecuted for deeply held beliefs.

This is why treasurer Scott Morrison, who was the first politician to advocate a plebiscite, in June 2015, has intervened now to insist on amendments to the marriage bill to protect basic freedoms.

“There are over four million people that voted no in this survey who are now coming to terms with the fact that on this issue, they are a minority.

“They have concerns that their broader views and their broader beliefs are also now in the minority and therefore under threat. And they are seeking assurances that… the things that they hold dear are not under threat also because of this change.”

If Morrison, and those valiant Liberal MPs who still believe in freedom, don’t prevail, the gulf between No-voting Australia and Yes-voting Australia will tear our society apart in ways we can’t even imagine.

WITHIN hours of the same-sex marriage announcement on Wednesday, an outspoken No voter who owns a beauty salon in Perth was floored by a gay wedding request.

Belinda received a booking inquiry on her salon’s Facebook page from gay couple Brad and Chris for “a full body wax to make our honeymoon extra special”.

“My partner Chris and I have started planning our big day for Jan now the vote thing is over, So excited!”

Belinda, who is afraid to use her real name, is certain she is being trolled by gay activists. “It’s not genuine. They know I’m an active No voter and they think they can goad me…

“Are they going to turn up at the shop tomorrow? Where do I stand now if there are people out there deliberately trying to force me to participate in gay weddings?”

Belinda says her Catholic faith prevents her from endorsing a gay wedding. “But I’ve been in business 15 years and I have heaps of gay clients. I have no problem with gay people but I need a safeguard from crazy people.”

In other countries where gay marriage exists, activists have targeted conscientious objectors, florists, bakers and innkeepers who don’t want to service gay weddings.

Labor, the Greens and like-minded Liberals insist the rights of No voters need no protection, but Belinda’s dilemma is just the start.


Australia slow at adopting electric cars

In the race to adopt electric vehicles, Australia is sputtering along in the slow lane.

Rather than growing, Australian sales of electric cars are actually in decline. In 2016 they represented just 0.02 per cent of new car sales — even lower than in 2013.

Contrast that with Norway, the country with the highest levels of electric car adoption. Almost 30 per cent of new cars sold there in 2016 were electric.

Why are Australian motorists rejecting electric cars while those in other advanced economies are embracing them? As the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) has previously pointed out, high vehicle prices are an obvious barrier.

But that is only part of the answer.

Our current research, in which we used online questionnaires to survey Australian motorists' attitudes to electric vehicles, suggests that a comprehensive network of recharging stations — particularly on popular intercity routes, is essential to encourage drivers to go electric. This seems to be even more important than subsidising the cost of the cars themselves.

Rechargers on highways, in country towns and at service centres need to be fast and convenient, so that motorists are not unduly delayed. Without the right charging infrastructure, there is no foundation to allow Australian motorists to go electric with confidence.

The average Australian motorist drives 36 kilometres per day for all passenger vehicles. This is well within the range of modern fully electric vehicles - more than 150km for the models on sale in Australia — and actually less than Norwegians, who drive more than 40km a day on average.

Norwegian drivers also enjoy the highest proportion of rechargers in the world. But on another criterion the world leader is Estonia. It's credited as the first nation to build a country-wide network, with a recharging station every 50km on major roads, and one in every town with a population of at least 5,000.


'Yeah, nah': She's a top fighter but Keneally won't win Bennelong

Imre Salusinszky

Sometimes I think about my seven years reporting on state politics as a love-affair with the NSW Labor Right faction. My brief during those seven years, or at least the brief I constructed for myself, was to capture some of the unusual characters who populate NSW political life and make it so special.

In NSW politics, there are vivid, interesting characters in all parties and all factions. For example, to have any considerable experience of Fred Nile is to suspect one has entered the pages of a Charles Dickens novel. And whatever you think of Lee Rhiannon?'s politics, which in my case is not much at all, she's a character all right, all the way down to her made-up surname and her insistence on saying "v" instead of the word "very".

Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally is Labor's candidate for the byelection in Bennelong, taking on Liberal John Alexander.
But for sheer political cunning, mixed with policy nous, and all wrapped up in a delicious package of profoundly filthy language, it's hard to go past the NSW Right.

Just the beginning of a list of noteworthy characters from the faction would include Bob Carr, Michael Egan, John Della Bosca, Frank Sartor, Barrie Unsworth, John Robertson, Morris Iemma, Carl Scully, Amanda Fazio and – my spiritual adviser for many years – Michael Costa.

And, of course, Kristina Keneally. Smart, funny, confident, and yes, American, she was one more thing that made NSW politics between 2007 and 2011 every journalist's dream gig – and one more incredible and indelible character thrown up by the Right.

Her swearing wasn't as good as Costa's or Sartor's, but it wasn't bad.

I first interviewed Keneally on the day she became Minister for Disability Services and Ageing in 2007, and pretty much tracked every move she made between then and her retirement from parliament in June, 2012. She was always great copy.

Following Keneally around on the 2011 campaign was to exist in a parallel universe. The Labor government's numbers, and her own numbers by this stage, were catastrophic, yet she was mobbed everywhere we went. Like a subsequent NSW premier to whom I eventually got much closer, she had star power.

Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi played a decisive role in Keneally's victory over Sartor for the leadership in December, 2009. That said, she did not have a close personal relationship with Obeid. She was extremely close to Tripodi.

Did she know the pair were corrupt, as eventually found by the Independent Commission Against Corruption? Absolutely not. Love her or hate her, Keneally is as straight as a die, and has strong values rooted in her family and her faith. Anybody who knows her is aware of the deep sense of betrayal she harbours towards Tripodi today.

Even Sartor, the chief nemesis of Obeid and Tripodi, wouldn't swear they were corrupt in 2008 or 2009. There was one senior Labor figure who looked me in the eye back then, on Phillip Street as it happens, and said the pair were corrupt and would end up in jail. That was the MP for Liverpool, Paul Lynch.

So Keneally was certainly Obeid and Tripodi's candidate, but was she their "puppet"? I don't think anybody can nominate particular outcomes she engineered for the pair once she was premier.

I speak with considerable authority on this subject, because if anybody was a puppet of Obeid and Tripodi, it was I. I liked and trusted them and used them as sources for innumerable stories. I wrote an essentially positive profile of Tripodi for my newspaper's glossy weekend magazine.

On the day Keneally became premier, The Daily Telegraph branded her a puppet on its front page, and she instantly became a highly popular figure across NSW. This popularity was worn down over time: by the venality of her colleagues, by the clever long game of Barry O'Farrell, and by her own missteps in the back half of 2010.

The Tele repeated the treatment on Wednesday, and it will give her a mild electoral boost. People dislike victimisation and vilification, especially of women.

But will Keneally unseat John Alexander in Bennelong and trigger a change of government in Canberra?

No, she won't. Bill Shorten's gambit is the sort of thing political tragics love, but for the voters of Bennelong it will be more a case of, "Yeah, nah."

Keneally is a great fighter, but Alexander is a popular and hardworking local member. His citizenship travails are likely to engender sympathy, particularly in a heavily multicultural electorate. The big issues in Bennelong are usually over-development and housos, and he will know exactly what to say.

But Keneally will improve the result for Labor, which will signal "Mission Accomplished" for Shorten. I fully expect she will be nominated for a winnable seat in 2019 and will be a real asset in a Shorten ministry, if there ever is one.


Queensland has too many public servants: Howard

Former prime minister John Howard has hit out at the size of Queensland's public service, undermining Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls' promise not to cut jobs.

The Liberal Party elder statesman campaigned alongside LNP MP Tarnya Smith in her marginal Brisbane electorate of Mount Ommaney on Friday as he joined the state campaign for the first time.
Former prime minister John Howard said Queensland has too many public servants despite LNP leader Tim Nicholls promising no cuts.

Asked about Queensland's rising debt problem, Mr Howard said economic growth and activity would help eliminate money that was owed but also said a slimmer public service would reduce the burden.

"You also eliminate debt by not just appointing unnecessarily large numbers of state employees," he said. "You need a certain number of state employees but I think it's fair to say that the number appointed by the present government has got a little bit out of proportion."

Mr Nicholls has been haunted during the election campaign over the role he played in the sacking of 14,000 public servants during Campbell Newman's government.

The Opposition Leader has repeatedly apologised and ruled out axing government workers if he is elected to govern.

Mr Howard also lashed Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over her mixed messages about the Adani coal mine. "The first requirement of effective leadership in politics, whether you're Labor or Liberal or National Party or LNP or whatever, is to know what you believe in and where you stand," he said.

"The problem Annastacia Palaszczuk has is that I don't know where she stands on the Adani mine."

Mr Howard said the premier's views had changed based on where she was in Queensland. "In one part of the state she's for it, in another part of the state she's sort of against it and in another part of the state (she's) right against it," he said. "Now that is unimpressive irrespective of what your politics are."

The premier has come under fire during the election campaign over her handling of the Adani issue after she vowed to veto a $1 billion federal taxpayer-funded loan to the mining giant.

She initially said the decision was to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest following revelations her partner Shaun Drabsch worked on the loan application with employer PricewaterhouseCoopers. But Ms Palaszczuk later said it was to meet a 2015 election commitment.


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

19 November, 2017

Two words that may not be spoken in the same breath

Leftists hate everything that is normal in their own society -- which leads to them championing everything that is abnormal in their own society -- such as homosexuals and Muslims.  They want to be on the side of both those groups.  But what if Muslims despise homosexuals?  A problem?  Not for a Leftist.  You have lots of Freudian defence mechanisms to use.  A good one is compartmentalization.  You just never mention or even think about the two in the same breath.  Tim Blair mocks that below in his commentary on the people who voted "No" to homosexual marriage in the recent plebiscite. You would never guess who they were:   Excerpts only below:

“Why did western Sydney overwhelmingly vote no?” asks academic Andy Marks, who subsequently spends several hundred words avoiding the obvious answer.

The assistant vice-chancellor at Western Sydney University continues:

    Here's the breakdown on the across western Sydney's 10 federal electorates. On the "no" side of the ledger: Blaxland 73.9 per cent, Chifley 58.7, Fowler 63.7, Greenway 53.6, McMahon 64.9, Mitchell 50.9 and Werriwa 63.7 per cent.

    Barring Mitchell, "no" dominated in all Labor held seats. Longstanding MPs, Jason Clare, Ed Husic, Chris Hayes, Michelle Rowland and Chris Bowen might well be considering the implications with respect to the social dimension of the party's broader policies. Or not ....

Instead of "engaging with an incredibly complex debate on cultural values with the sophistication it deserves", we ask "who will think of the cake makers". It's time to recognise the consequences, political and otherwise, of the shifting epicentre of Australian conservative values.

Marks is right that Western Sydney, as a region, is no longer “a homogenous whole”. But he declines to join a “complex debate on cultural values” that recognises the massive Islamic homogeneity within certain Western Sydney suburbs.

Instead, ridiculously, he apparently includes the opinions of non-English speaking Muslims within the broader category of “Australian conservative values”. Similarly evasive is the ABC


One step closer for Kidston solar and pumped hydro generator

Pumped Hydro electricity is intrinsically an enormously expensive way to generate electricity.  You need two dams for a start.  So it will never be anything but the tiniest contribution to baseload.  No wonder the project below is "world first"!

The folk below, however, seem to have found two conveniently located existing dams so might have a workable project with taxpayer support

The world’s first integrated solar and pumped hydro hybrid project in Kidston is one step closer to being built as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today announced up to $5 million in funding to Genex Power Limited (Genex) to help bring the landmark project to financial close in 2018.

This morning, Genex Power Limited made an ASX announcement that ARENA, on behalf of the Australian Government, would provide up to $5 million to support pre-financial close activities.

The Kidston Stage Two is a hybrid solar and hydro project is expected to comprise a hybrid 250MW pumped hydro electricity storage (PHES) facility and 270MW solar PV, generating around 783GWh of renewable electricity per year and powering over 140,000 Australian homes.

The Kidston site is located 270km north west of Townsville and will utilise two existing gold mining pits as the reservoirs for the project to minimise construction time and costs.

The solar PV and PHES hybrid enables Genex to create a reliable, dispatchable and affordable energy generator that is entirely renewable. PHES will also be also be able to provide stability and support to the grid, including ancillary services.

During peak power demand periods water will be released from the upper to the lower reservoir, passing through reversible turbines. During off peak periods and when sun is abundant, water will be pumped back from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir using electricity primarily from the solar farm.

“Stage Two of the Kidston hydro and solar project is an important step in achieving a secure and reliable grid for Australia and increasing the value delivered by renewable energy,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

“Kidston will be the only grid connected solar project located in Australia’s solar red zone, providing consistent strong sun throughout the year, and combining it with pumped hydro will provide Queensland access to an entirely renewable flexible energy option,” he said.

ARENA’s funding will help the project reach financial close by mid-2018, with up to $4.5 million of the grant to be convertible at the Minister’s discretion.

ARENA has previously provided $4 million to Genex towards the technical feasibility study of the PHES portion of the project, and a further $8.9 million towards Kidston Stage One solar PV project as part of the $92 million large scale solar PV competitive round.

Genex Managing Director Michael Addison said: “Genex is grateful to the Australian Government for its continuing support of the Kidston Stage 2 project, and the help of ARENA in bringing this to fruition in the near future.

The continued support from ARENA is testament to the innovative nature of the project, and the growing importance of large scale energy storage in Australia’s energy system as it transitions,” he said.

Via email

Universities line up for new $3 billion Ramsey Centre for Western Civilisation

Ramsey clearly thought Western civilization was a good thing.  Sadly, it is unlikely that his money will go to teach that. The jobs generated will undoubtedly go to Leftist academics who will be doing their best to denigrate Western civilization

In the biggest philanthropic gift in the history of education in Australia, as many as 10 NSW universities are vying for the chance to offer a new western civilisation degree to be completely funded as part of a $3 billion bequest from health care magnate Paul Ramsay.

Mr Ramsay, who died in 2014, wanted a significant part of his personal fortune to be spent on funding an academic centre to revive the liberal arts and humanities.

The new Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, to be formally launched on Monday, will offer a western civilisation arts degree in two or possibly three universities in NSW and the ACT, as well as fund 30 generous scholarships at each selected university.

About $25 million a year will be spent on the centre and its Ramsay scholars, as they will be known, will get at least $25,000 a year to cover tuition and living costs.

The centre's chief executive, Simon Haines, who was previously professor of English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the centre "would not be a think tank". "This will be a teaching enterprise, not a political one," Professor Haines said.

The centre is currently evaluating the expressions of interest from NSW and ACT universities which want to collaborate with the centre, with 10 of the 12 NSW universities having indicated that they would be submitting a formal proposal, Professor Haines said.

It is understood the two or three successful universities will be announced in the new year.

The board of the centre includes notable conservatives, including former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, but to broaden its political reach, the former Labor leader and US ambassador Kim Beazley and the powerful right-wing unionist Joe De Bruyn were recent appointees.

The male-dominated board will be boosted by some female appointments, Professor Haines said.

"There is no doubt this is the biggest thing for the liberal arts and humanities that has ever happened in this country," Professor Haines said. He said the centre would offer degrees that would "be as prestigious and as high quality" as some of the top universities in the US and UK. "We will be elite but not elitist," Professor Haines said.

The model of teaching would be very similar to the leading liberal arts universities in the US such as St Johns, Amherst and Columbia, with small classes of about six students rather than huge lectures.

The centre will recruit leading academics from around the world and Australia, Professor Haines said.

Professor Haines said although the centre would be fully funded, it would not dictate how the selected universities run the degree programmes. "We will not be telling them what to do, they will retain their independence," Professor Haines said.

There will also be several Ramsay postgraduate scholarships, which will be open to recent Australian graduates from a range of academic disciplines, for study at prestigious international universities, and the centre will run a program of summer schools, with distinguished visiting lecturers.

The centre says "generations of young Australians will eventually benefit from this unique opportunity, and learn to value their own civilisational heritage, at no cost to the taxpayer."


The writing is on the wall for ... writing itself

A New Yorker magazine writer lamented the demise of joined-up (cursive) writing in 1966. As Mark Twain might have said, that news was highly exaggerated. Handwriting was not dead but, like a histrionic opera heroine with a fatal illness, it was suffering a long lingering denouement. In recent years, the pace of decline has accelerated.

Australia Post tells us that the volume of personally addressed mail has slumped by half in the past eight years. A handwritten letter in the mail queue stands out like a vintage car in a stream of shiny new Teslas. A recent poll conducted by Docmail, a printing and mailing company, found that one in three people had not handwritten anything longer than a shopping list in the previous six months. In 2015, the Thomas Cook Group published a survey showing that, on any particular day, half the population never picks up a pen or pencil. This is not surprising; the Bic pen company says that one in 10 teenagers does not even own a pen.

Handwriting, increasingly absent from everyday life, is also vanishing from the professions. Doctors, long infamous for sloppy writing, are giving up scribbling prescriptions preferring to generate them by computer. Their patients should be relieved. Over the years, doctors’ illegible scrawls have resulted in thousands of medication errors, some fatal. Digital prescriptions are much safer. They are not only easy to read but computers also double-check dosages, side effects and drug interactions against online databases.

Medicine is not the only profession that is moving away from handwriting. Lawyers say that e-signatures are more secure and easier to verify than the obscure squiggles at the bottom of letters. Accountants no longer write in ledgers and newspapers do not accept handwritten articles for publication.

In a particularly ominous sign, Finland, widely considered an educational leader because of its students’ strong performance on international tests, has stopped compelling schools to teach cursive writing. Instead, Finnish teachers are advised to devote their time to “keyboarding”. According to Minna Harmanen, from the Finnish National Board of Education, “fluent typing skills are an important national competence” – implying that handwriting is not. The Finns are not alone. The Common Core State Standards (a school curriculum adopted by more than 40 American states) has gone down the same road. Students attending schools in Common Core states must learn to print individual letters, but cursive writing is optional.

In contrast to Finland and many American states, the Australian Curriculum (which applies to all states and territories) still requires instruction in cursive writing. Students begin with printing, but by Year 3 they are expected to “write using joined letters that are accurately formed and consistent in size”. The curriculum does not describe what these joined letters should look like because, in a throwback to the days of different railroad gauges, each state clings to its preferred style.

After Year 3, the Australian Curriculum does not specify any achievement standard for writing nor is penmanship assessed in national examinations. Given that no expectations have been set and no external assessments conducted, it is not surprising that many (perhaps most) schools expend minimal effort teaching writing. The results are evident to those who mark school examinations. Like President Trump’s tweets, the handwriting of many young people consists entirely of capital letters. SAD!

The decline of handwriting has been precipitous, but it has not vanished entirely. Some authors claim that writing by hand stimulates their creativity. That’s why JK Rowling drafted her Harry Potter books using a pen, and Quentin Tarantino writes his screenplays using a pencil.

For many professionals, there is no practical alternative to handwriting. Overstretched nurses find it more efficient to jot down their observations on patients’ charts than to type them on a keyboard. Convenience is the reason that teachers continue to write corrections in the margins of papers and why signatures, those hastily scribbled declarations of who we are, remain in wide use — on hotel registrations, marriage certificates and even electronic receipts for deliveries..

But, convenience is not the only reason handwriting refuses to perish; it is also kept alive by tradition and nostalgia. As Anne Trubek, author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting (2016) put it:

When a new writing technology develops, we tend to romanticise the older one … for monks, print was capricious and script reliable. Conventional wisdom holds that computers are devoid of emotion … [whereas] handwriting is the province of intimacy, originality and authenticity.

Intimacy, originality and authenticity are all highly valued. The Thomas Cook Group poll that found only half the population writes anything on a given day also found that 28 per cent of people save handwritten love letters (even from their exes). One quarter retains written thank-you notes and postcards. They may only be blue-black smears, but signatures are definitely original. This is why fans collect autographs and readers ask authors to sign their books. As for authenticity, the five-dollar note in your wallet may be graced with a portrait of the Queen, but it still relies on the signature of the Governor of the Reserve Bank to convey its trustworthiness.

Perhaps because it is old-fashioned and requires some effort, handwriting has acquired the aura of bespoke craftsmanship. “Handwritten” is the name of a rock album, a film producer and a fashion company. Catering to artisanal needs, shops such as the Il Papiro chain sell elegant papers, pens, blotters, wax seals, even quills. In addition to selling pens and stationery, the Officeworks chain sponsors Time to Write workshops that promise “a greater sense of life satisfaction” for those who spend “just 15-20 minutes of handwriting a day”.

For writers such as Anne Trubek, upmarket stationery shops and New Age writing workshops confirm that handwriting is no longer a quotidian form of communication but a craft. Like other crafts, Trubek believes that handwriting should be relegated to art classes where it could be taught to an ever-diminishing group of interested students. An editorial in The Los Angeles Times put this view quite bluntly: “States and schools shouldn’t cling to cursive based on the romantic idea that it’s a tradition, an art form or a basic skill whose disappearance would be a cultural tragedy.”

Many educators disagree. They say teaching handwriting in primary school produces cognitive benefits, such as fine motor skills and eye-hand co-ordination. These skills are not easy to acquire using a keyboard because the cognitive and motor processes required for typing are different from those used in writing. To handwrite a letter, a child must form a mental image of the letter’s shape. The child then uses this image to guide a pen or pencil.

Edouard Gentaz, an education researcher, calls this process “directing movement by thought”. With practice, the specific movements needed to draw each letter create a unique “motor memory” that not only facilitates writing but also helps children recognise letters when learning to read. Using a keyboard does not create unique memories because the motor movement required for typing any letter or punctuation mark is identical (a key press).

Handwriting also beats typing for remembering lessons. Psychologists Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer found that university students who took lecture notes on laptops performed worse on a subsequent examination than students who handwrote their notes. According to Mueller, the “laptop note-takers took … verbatim notes, signalling that they were processing the content less than the longhand note-takers.”

Students who took notes by hand could not get every word down, so they were forced to think about what they were hearing and reframe it in their own words thereby improving their memory. In the light of this research, some school systems (Singapore, France) have decided to re-emphasise cursive writing. Six American states have reintroduced it into their schools.

A potent combination of tradition, nostalgia, craftsmanship, practicality and educational research suggests that once again the “writing is on the wall”. Unlike King Nebuchadnezzar, handwriting has been weighed in the balance and found necessary.


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

17 November, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks that Iranian-born ALP politician Dastyari deserved the insults he got

Revealed: Why Labor-supporting western Sydney voted 'No' to same-sex marriage in HUGE numbers - with migrant Chinese and Muslim communities against any change

It’s a bit awkward for the left how the white people they hate voted yes and the migrants they love voted no

The Australian Bureau of Statistics also provided a breakdown of results via state and federal elect...
Australia has voted overwhelmingly in favour of same sex marriage - with some dramatic exceptions.

A whopping 12 of the 17 seats that voted No were in Sydney's west - taking in suburbs such as Bankstown, Auburn, Villawood in the south and Ryde closer to the city.

The only other major region to follow suit was outback Queensland, a traditionally conservative area.

Two of the country's most respected analysts argued major reasons behind western Sydney's surprise result were its cultural diversity and large migrant population.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle said: ''They are all the areas of Sydney with the highest migrant population and have high proportions of non-Christian regions. 'They're religious areas and culturally diverse areas'

ABC election guru Antony Green said : 'I understand there's been some quite specific campaigning within the Muslim community, the Chinese community, in parts of western Sydney'

ABC election guru Antony Green pointed out NSW had the highest proportion of people born in non-English speaking countries.

Demographer Mark McCrindle told Daily Mail Australia he was fascinated by the results released by the Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

He pointed out even the 'Bible Belt' style suburbs of Sydney's north shore and Sutherland Shire had voted Yes.

Mr McCrindle doubted the high vote totals in these areas were a reflection of the success of the No campaign.

'I think... any No campaigning has been pretty minimal and not particularly strong in either organisation or impact.

'What we have here in western Sydney or south-west Sydney electorates is just a perspective of people again - because of their cultural and religious diversity - that is different... to what the majority of the rest of the electorates had,' the social researcher said.

Keysar Trad, the spokesman for the Islamic Friendship Association, said: 'It's not just Muslims'.

He pointed out his area of south-west Sydney, which reported some of the largest No vote totals, was home to churches, including of the Orthodox and Maronite variety.

'What this shows it the clergy of all faiths can be successful in educating their parishioners as to what this is all about,' Mr Trad said.

No campaign spokesman Lyle Shelton said he was disappointed, but will respect the result.


'We'll protect our kids from gay sex education': No vote leader vows to fight any 'consequences' from marriage vote

Shattered 'no' voters have licked their wounds behind closed doors after more than 61 per cent of Australia supported legalising same-sex marriage.

Lyle Shelton, the head of the Coalition for Marriage, called the result 'disappointing', but did manage to offer 'congratulations to the Yes campaign' on Twitter.

While thousands of 'yes' supporters packed into public spaces across the nation, Mr Shelton and supporters watched the announcement in private at a hotel in Sydney.

With the result always expected to see a win for the 'yes' vote, Coalition for Marriage supporters planned little in terms of post-result events - with Mr Shelton fronting the media to make a somber statement after the announcement.

Vowing 'to protect Australian kids from being exposed to radical... sex education in the classrooms', Mr Shelton said he hoped the vote would not have 'consequences'.

'Those who seek to deceive parents or deny them information about what their kids learn in school will find themselves called to account by millions of Australian mums and dads who now know what is at stake,' he said.

'Those who seek to place restrictions on freedom of speech or freedom of belief will face tough opposition from millions of Australians who understand how a change in law is used to silence those who disagree.

'Those who seek to push these ideologies through our schools and institutions will not get away with it so easily.'


- Gay sex education in classrooms

- Employees being sacked for opinions

- Small businesses refusing to provide services for same-sex couples

- Protection of religious freedom

- Restrictions on freedom of speech

Labelled everything from 'dumb c***s' to 'bigots', one woman even received a threat from a 'yes voter' who vowed to 'f**k her children' if they were gay, in September.

A spokesperson for the Coalition for Marriage said while the abuse had died down in the months since the campaign began, it was expected to heat up after the result.

Among shocking messages sent to the women were abuse and threats of violence to both them and their families.

'F**k you and f**k your spastic kids,' one wrote, while another said: 'Dumb c**t'.

'You're a disgusting f**king disgrace of not only a mother, but a human being,' said one man.

'You are a horrid mother and should be ashamed to call yourself Australian,' another wrote.

Federal politicians painted a troubling picture of Australia if same-sex marriage was legalised in recent days, naming a number of fears of what a 'yes' vote would mean.

Among their fears were parents losing rights to object to gay sex education, workers being sacked for expressing an opinion and bakers taken to court over cake.

Even Labor senators are worried, with several backbenchers voting against same-sex marriage on religious freedom grounds, to the chagrin of their leader Bill Shorten.

In September, a Canberra woman was fired for saying 'It's okay to vote no' on Facebook, with her boss Madlin Sims calling it 'homophobic hate speech'.

Ms Sims, who runs a party entertainment company, said the woman was fired because she was 'extremely out and proud about her views on homosexuals.'

'As someone who has an responsibility to the vulnerable people we work with, could not risk her voicing those opinions to any children of ours,' she said.


Treasurer Scott Morrison leads in fight to preserve parent rights

Treasurer Scott Morrison is leading behind-the-scenes negotiations with supporters of the Dean Smith same-sex marriage bill, as conservative MPs demand the preservation of parental rights but concede on protections for businesses that refuse commercial dealings with gay wedding ceremonies.

Mr Morrison has emerged as the most vocal cabinet voice on stronger freedom of speech and religion protection amendments to the proposed bill amid accusations that members of Malcolm Turnbull’s executive had misled MPs over their promise to guarantee robust protections.

Leading conservative ministers Peter Dutton and Mathias Cormann have come under pressure from colleagues over claims they “walked away” from earlier commitments.

The Australian understands the Treasurer has already approached colleagues of Senator Smith seeking a “goodwill” agreement to rescue amendments from the rival bill put forward by Victoria’s senator James Paterson, and which were of most concern to conservatives. Chief among them will be the “safe schools” clause preserving the rights of parents to remove children from classes that do not accord with their values, anti-detriment provisions to forbid unfair treatment in the workplace of people who hold traditional views of marriage, and broader religious freedom protections including for charities.

“The issue of same-sex marriage is settled … the issue now is religious freedom, freedom of speech and parental rights,” Mr Morrison told The Australian. “That’s what we need to debate now in good faith and come to a landing on.”

The move for detente between warring tribes within the Coalition came as former prime minister John Howard warned conservative colleagues to not “get hung up” on whether cake makers and florists should be allowed to conscientiously object to supplying their services to gay weddings.

“Clearly the decision of the public should be respected by the parliament,” Mr Howard said, “but I think it is also very important (to address) quite legitimate concerns that were raised by many people, including me and my friend and former deputy prime minister John Anderson, about the protection of parental rights, religious freedoms and freedom of speech.

“These are not small matters. It is a pity that the government, as I asked, had not spelled out before the vote how these matters were going to be covered in any ­enabling legislation.

“I don’t regard the Dean Smith bill as being sufficient. I think the two things that really do matter are freedom of religion and speech and parental rights.”

Victorian frontbench MP ­Michael Sukkar said the Yes campaign promised Australians that there would not be any consequences for parents’ rights, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience and religion. “Now we must hold them to those commitments,” Mr Sukkar said.

Liberal National Party senator Barry O’Sullivan accused a “cohort” of senior cabinet ministers of misleading the partyroom and called on the Prime Minister to ­intervene. “There is deep discontent amongst a lot of Coalition senators at the way that this has been managed, the introduction of this bill,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“It’s almost as if some cohort within the executive — there’s ­evidence that we’ve been misled, there’s evidence that decisions have been taken where they haven’t consulted with the broader caucus of the government members.

“And there is deep anger about that ... This is about procedure ... Today we will cede the government to the opposition and the Greens — that’s the effect of this motion this afternoon.

“My call is for the Prime Minister to just intervene in this and slow the process down ... so all voices can be heard and we can develop a piece of legislation that’s comprehensive and reflects not just the will of the people to have same-gender marriage, but the five million Australians who have resisted this and want to see that we provide the appropriate protections in future so we don’t fill the courts and human rights commission with cases.”

Mr Anderson said parliamentarians needed to remember that almost five million Australians had voted No.

“They are worthy of respect and our protections for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech and the right to raise our children according to our values are very weak by international standards,” the former deputy prime minister said. “I do have to say to my ­Coalition colleagues, ‘Walk away from that, I would suggest, at your peril’."


Forget hurt feelings, free speech is a birthright

"Human rights are not the same as civil rights — the former are universal and arise at birth; the latter are gifts of citizenship, bestowed by the state on an individual"

The case for same-sex marriage in Australia and the protection of religious freedom could have happened hand-in-hand.

It could have been dealt with in an honest and simple way. This is how a proposal for same-sex marriage should have been put to the Australian people. Two simple clauses should have been laid in front of them. Clause 1: Same-sex marriage is legal. Clause 2: Notwithstanding anything in Clause 1, any right, privilege or freedom that was permissible before the legal recognition of same-sex marriage is permissible after it.

The plebiscite ought to be marked down as a failure of the Turnbull government and the same-sex marriage activists to recognise same-sex marriage and guarantee religious freedoms in a simple and honest manner.

Their duplicity is a glaring reminder of what the so-called “progressive” mission has stripped from the liberal project, deliber­ately confusing and conflating universal rights bestowed on us at birth with civil rights that are gifts of the state.

This mission to lump anti-discrimination rights in with universal human rights is retrograde, and it has happened only by ignoring the history of universal human rights as the foundational principles of a liberal democracy.

As Liberal MP Tim Wilson pointed out when he was human rights commissioner back in 2014, human rights are not the same as civil rights — the former are universal and arise at birth; the latter are gifts of citizenship, bestowed by the state on an individual.

Human rights are not the same as social justice aspirations, that nebulous tag given to the pursuit of equity, an equally ambiguous notion.

And human rights are not the same as anti-discrimination laws, Wilson said, pointing out that human rights are often about exercising discrimination.

Not every discriminatory act is a wicked one, such as the freedom to associate with those we choose and the freedom to speak about and to believe in different ideas.

Human rights conflict not just between themselves but with myriad other civil rights bestowed by the state and social goals set and sought by government, industries, individuals and activists. The question then is whether a universal human right should be treated as less important than these other pursuits. So-called progressives answer yes, and have worked tirelessly to downgrade universal human rights, targeting freedom of speech and freedom of religion as particular hurdles to them imposing their views on others.

To understand the depth of the human rights corruption, consider how section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has been used as a weapon of first resort by those claiming to have been offended by views they disagree with. This is part of a reckless and ill-considered pursuit of feelings-based rights bestowed by the state over universal rights that accrue be virtue of us being human beings.

Consider, too, how section 17 of Tasmania’s anti-discrimination law was used by trans-activist and Greens candidate Martine Delaney, who claimed her feelings were hurt by a pamphlet published by Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous that defended traditional marriage. Section 17 pro­tects hurt feelings but there is no protection of religious freedom. The universal human right to freedom of belief has been superseded by a right not to be offended.

It doesn’t matter whether cases about hurt feelings succeed or not; it’s enough that the law is used to shadow box free speech and freedom of religion, creating a chilling effect on what people can say and believe in a liberal democracy.

Casting free speech and religious freedom as inferior to anti-discrimination laws has been central to the same-sex marriage campaign. And this illiberal agenda has been enabled by silence and obfuscation about religious freedom by Yes advocates within the Turnbull government; by George Brandis, Dean Smith, Trent Zimmerman, Christopher Pyne and other so-called moderates who are more intent on claiming a legacy than doing what genuine liberal politicians should do: find the right accommodation between a new civil right to same-sex marriage and a universal human right to freedom of belief.

Canberra’s elite should remember that in polls taken throughout this process, the percentage of Australians who support guarantees for religious freedoms has been consistently higher than the percentage supporting same-sex marriage.

Remember too that census figures released in June show a growing percentage of Australians tick “no religion”, up from 19 per cent in 2006 to 30 per cent last year. The conclusion is that Australians recognise that guaranteeing religious freedoms is not just a matter for the religious: it goes to the core of individual freedom in a liberal democracy because religious freedom is inextricably linked to freedom of expression.

In mid-September, the Prime Minister said he wanted to “reassure Australians that as strongly as I believe in the right of same-sex couples to marry, even more strongly, if you like, do I believe in religious freedom”.

If Malcolm Turnbull and his government walk away from first principles, from their liberal principles premised on the freedom of the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of belief, they will inflict further self-harm on a government and a party that can ill afford more brand damage.

Rather than playing dodge-ball, Turnbull should be praising James Paterson as a young Liberal who understands what’s at stake, not just politically but culturally after more than three decades of the liberal project and human rights being vandalised by the progressive mission to insert hurt feelings into the law at the expense of individual liberty and genuine tolerance.

Paterson, a long-time supporter of same-sex marriage, released his draft private members bill on Monday. It goes much further than the other bill pushed by Smith, the Liberal senator from Western Australia. Paterson’s bill extends religious freedom beyond the church, mosque or synagogue door. It means anyone directly connected to a wedding ceremony may decline services if same-sex marriage is against their beliefs. It provides a limited right of conscientious objection, too, so that sincerely held views are protected.

It protects speech that is not threatening or harassing, rein­forces the rights of parents to decide whether the so-called “safe schools” agenda fits their values, and more.

The Paterson bill seeks a genuine accommodation between same-sex marriage and universal human rights, though a compromise may be somewhere between the two private member’s bills.

Following the release of Paterson’s bill on Monday morning, Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy immediately tweeted: “Serious question: why are some people’s freedoms more equal than others?” Other critics claim Paterson’s bill amounts to an opponent of a bill of rights now wanting a limited bill of rights. It’s a cheap shot that betrays a poor understanding of universal human rights as the foundational principles of a liberal democracy.

In a liberal democracy, we shouldn’t need a bill of rights to entrench freedom of expression or religious freedoms; these universal rights accrue at birth, and it’s up to the state to make the case for caveats and carve-outs from those rights. Alas, human rights have been so corrupted, the system is now so topsy-turvy, that we have to go cap in hand to government asking that freedom of belief be explicitly accommodated by same-sex marriage laws.

Those with a poor grip on history and freedom should be careful what they wish for. It’s stunningly ignorant to assume that treating freedom of expression and freedom of belief as second-order rights won’t one day bite those who treat them as disposable today.

The outcome of this contest is not just a matter for gay people and religious people. It’s a matter for all of us in a liberal democracy. It will settle, one way or another, whether the country can finally confront and reconcile a 30-year project aimed at the sustained corruption of classical liberal ideas of universal human rights.


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

16 November, 2017

More homosexual aggression

'No' vote volunteer has car windows smashed MINUTES before the same-sex marriage result - as campaigner says they are bracing for more abuse after Australia voted YES

Supporters of the 'no' vote in the same-sex marriage survey are bracing for an influx of abuse from 'yes' trolls, now that the country has voted in favour of gay marriage.

On Wednesday morning just hours before the announcement, Coalition for Marriage boss Lyle Shelton took to Twitter to share a photo highlighting such shocking abuse.

Showing a car belonging to a Coalition for Marriage volunteer with its windows fully smashed in, Mr Shelton described the act as 'unacceptable and unAustralian'.

With the 'yes' campaign winning the vote on Wednesday with 61.6 per cent support, those against legalising same-sex marriage are bracing for more abuse.

It comes just months after mums who fronted a TV ad for the 'no' vote prepare for an influx of racial and sexist abuse.

Labelled everything from 'dumb c***s' to 'bigots', one woman even received a threat from a 'yes voter' who vowed to 'f**k her children' if they grew up to be gay.

A spokesperson for the Coalition for Marriage said while the abuse had died down in the months since the campaign began, it was expected to heat up after the result.

Among shocking messages sent to the women were abuse and threats of violence to both them and their families.

'F**k you and f**k your spastic kids,' one wrote, while another said: 'Dumb c**t'.

'You're a disgusting f**king disgrace of not only a mother, but a human being,' said one man.

'You are a horrid mother and should be ashamed to call yourself Australian,' another wrote.

'Your children will have all sorts of misery throughout their lives growing up with an ignorant, homophobic parents such as you,' claimed another.

Lyle Shelton, the head of the Coalition for Marriage, said he had warned the mothers they would come under fire for the ad but never expected such vile backlash.

'We tried to prepare them for it, we warned them and we did everything we could to protect them, they were demonised by the 'yes' campaign,'


Children forced to learn about gay sex, workers sacked for speaking their minds and bakers taken to court over cake: The fears lurking behind the same-sex marriage bill

Parents losing the right to object to gay sex education, workers being sacked for expressing an opinion and bakers taken to court over cake.

With a 'Yes' vote result on Wednesday, conservative federal politicians have painted a troubling picture of Australia if same-sex marriage is legalised.

Even Labor senators are worried, with several backbenchers voting against any gay marriage bill on religious freedom grounds, to the chagrin of their party leader Bill Shorten.

Maverick Queensland crossbencher Bob Katter is so worried about parents losing the right to object to their children being taught the Safe Schools program under gay marriage he wants the law changed.

The Katter's Australian Party leader and renegade Nationals MP George Christensen, a fellow Queenslander, are working on a parliamentary bill that would give parents the right to pull their kids out of the controversial gender theory lessons.

Mr Katter, who holds the vast far-north Queensland seat of Kennedy, said the legalisation of same-sex marriage would force children into learning about gay sex and relationships.

'I don't want anyone to underestimate the damage that is being done here to the people of Australia,' federal parliament's longest-serving MP told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday night from Mareeba, south-west of Cairns. 'It opens the way for them to teach same-sex marriage in school.

'There are people preaching and teaching, and I use the word "preaching" before I use the word "teaching", because there are some very aggressive people involved in the homosexual movement in Australia. There are huge, grave dangers there.'

Mr Katter said the teaching of homosexuality in schools would cause lifelong damage to students. 'You are very vulnerable at that age,' he said.

'Unfortunately and sadly, these kids in the 12 to 15 age bracket are influenced to go down that pathway, they're looking at a much darker life than they would otherwise have.'

Mr Katter, who has been a state or federal MP since 1974, is also worried about workers falling foul of state anti-discrimination laws, and losing their jobs, for expressing an opinion critical of gay relationships.

In September, a Canberra woman was fired for saying 'It's okay to vote no' on Facebook, with her boss Madlin Sims calling it 'homophobic hate speech'.

Ms Sims, who runs a party entertainment company, said the woman was fired because she was 'extremely out and proud about her views on homosexuals.' 'As someone who has an responsibility to the vulnerable people we work with, could not risk her voicing those opinions to any children of ours,' she said. 

'It was never about giving people a fair go, it was all about punishing people that had different beliefs ... if a person thinks differently about homosexuality,' Mr Katter said.

New South Wales Nationals Senator John 'Wacka' Williams is worried about bakers being sued if they refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

'They might be hugely Christian, they don't believe in same-sex marriage, they refuse to bake the cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony or reception and hence they get sued,' the farmer from Inverell told Daily Mail Australia.

'Likewise, if it's a same-sex couple have a bakery and they don't want to bake a cake for the heterosexual marriage, I don't want them getting sued either.'

Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson is proposing a bill that would give bakers and florists the right to refuse to provide goods or services for a same-sex wedding.

'A baker could not refuse to bake a cake for someone who is gay who's having a birthday but they could decline to provide services to their wedding,' he told the ABC's 7.30 program on Monday night.

'So it's very limited and narrow. It's only about a wedding and that's in recognition that weddings are different from other things.

'People hold very strong views about it.'

It's a rival bill to one being proposed by West Australian gay Liberal senator Dean Smith, which would only give exemptions to church and religious groups when it comes to performing a same-sex wedding.

Tasmanian Labor senator Helen Polley, who voted 'No' in the $122 million gay marriage postal vote survey, is concerned about protecting religious freedom.

'We certainly need protections around religious freedoms so that we can avoid anti-discrimination cases like we saw in Tasmania against Archbishop Julian Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops in 2015,' she said about the case that was withdrawn last year.

Labor senator Deborah O'Neill, who hails from the NSW Central Coast, said she reserved the right to vote against a gay marriage bill, even though her boss Bill Shorten is in favour of redefining marriage.

'I will be exercising my conscience vote that I am entitled to in the Labor Party and I will be making that decision when the time comes,' she said.


Controversial sex education course that included 'Generation XXX' lesson that taught students about porn, sexting and 'painful sex' is axed from schools

A radical sex education course for senior students has been axed from schools after a review found it wasn't 'suitable' for all pupils.

The NSW government has decided to dump the Crossroads curriculum in favour of teaching Year 11 and 12 students how to drive, manage their finances and maintain their mental health.

Education Minister Rob Stokes flagged the teachings, which describe gender as a 'social construct' and sexuality as fluid, and said it may not be appropriate learning material for all school-aged children, The Australian reports.

According to the review, Year 7 and 8 students were being shown 'explicit' images involving sexual practices and sexually transmitted infections.

In other schools a lesson called 'Generation XXX' allegedly introduced students to sexting as well as pornographic sexual positions and how they 'look painful and are certainly not enjoyable'.

Not all students would be familiar with the concepts being presented to them, the review found.

In terms of gender-related issues, pupils were also being taught they could identify as a 'woman, man, two-spirit, genderqueer or genderless.'

As a substitute for these classes, students will instead study topics related to correct use of credit cards, consumer protection laws, domestic violence, drug education and safe driving skills.


Startup lets you shop for a postgraduate degree
Students considering further study have been delivered an early Christmas present, with the launch of Australia’s first comprehensive postgraduate degree comparison website earlier this month. is a brand new platform that allows students and professionals contemplating a graduate level degree to explore, compare, shortlist, and apply for over five thousand unique courses in one place.

Users can filter by study field, degree type, and region to generate a comprehensive list of courses that match their interests. Results can be sorted by tuition fees, duration, or even student satisfaction, allowing users to refine their results according to what is important to them.

Postgrad Australia’s founder, Richard McKeon, said “When you sum tuition fees, time off work, and potential career advancement, deciding to study a postgraduate degree is one of the biggest financial decisions people make in their lives.”

“For the other big life decisions, like buying a house, car, or insurance policy, many online comparators exist to help consumers to compare options, but for postgraduate degrees, the landscape was bare”, McKeon said.

McKeon came up with the idea for Postgrad Australia when he was researching his own master’s degree in Development Studies. “It took me an entire weekend to find all the information I needed to make a decision. The difference between offerings was immense; tuition fees ranged between just $12,000 to North of $50,000; some courses were offered online, but others were in person only; some courses offered credit for work experience, while others didn’t. I thought to myself: there has to be an easier way! After hearing similarly frustrating experiences from my classmates, I decided to launch Postgrad Australia”.

As the job market continues to become more competitive, more candidates are turning towards postgraduate qualifications to give them an edge. The number of Australians with a postgraduate degree has grown by 123% between 2006 and 2016, outpacing Bachelor degree growth at a rate of two to one [1].

Despite an ever increasing supply of students (or perhaps because of it), established universities have historically not had to compete aggressively on price and value. While some universities display tuition fees and reviews on their course pages, others make it difficult for students to find.

But McKeon argues that is about to change. “Millennials are used to comparing every purchase they make against the market. Compared to the generation before them, they’re less likely to enrol in a course just because it’s delivered by a sandstone university; they want to know the value they’ll get from it”.

With the average master’s degree costing between $20,000 and $37,000 in Australia [2], it’s not surprising that students will want to shop around for the right deal.

Over the last decade, the comparator website industry has exploded in Australia and around the world. Sites like iSelect, comparethemarket, and finder have become household names in Australia. The industry, however, is becoming increasingly proliferated, focussing on niche markets, rather than one-stop shops.

If you would like more information about Postgrad Australia, please call Richard on 1401 592 872.

Via email

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

15 November, 2017

Australia's lush street trees face grave threat if emissions keep rising (?)

How strange that a group called the "Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub" found a problem!  Could they have done otherwise?  It's all arrant nonsense anyway. Plants generally like warmth.  A popular street tree in Brisbane is the colourful Croton.  But it only grows to shrub height here.  In Darwin, where the climate is much hotter, it grows to tree height.  And even in Sydney cumquat trees are planted as an ornamental shrub.  But in far North Queensland they grow to tree height. Warmth is more likely to make the trees BIGGER.

And they have overlooked something that flows from their own Greenie theories.  What they are warning against is a CO2-caused temperature rise.  But elevated levels of CO2 have a fertilizing effect, and can cause plants to colonize places where they were not previously found -- as has happened in the Sahel.  So in the unlikely possibility that a couple of degrees of warmth were bad for some tree, the higher levels of CO2 could well counteract that.  But they have completely ignored that factor.  So the assumption below that present distribution is also a distribution limit is very shaky.  It's a typically one-sided Green/Left document below

Much-loved leafy streets and shady parks in Sydney and Melbourne are in jeopardy, according to new research that found climate change severely threatens the health of more than one-third of tree species in Australia's cities.

The federally funded study of 1.5 million trees in 29 council areas across Australia found that higher temperatures and urban heat means new tree species may be introduced, existing trees must be given special care and some trees may disappear in certain locations.

More than four in 10 houses in Australia's capital cities have a street tree.

Trees can greatly affect people's experience of a city - providing shade, places for recreation and a sense of place and heritage. They also cool the city, capture rain, slow stormwater and provide habitat for birds and other animals.

But the study found 24 per cent of all public trees, or 35 per cent of tree species, were at high risk from increased temperatures under a business-as-usual scenario in which emissions continue to increase to 2070.

Some 14 per cent of all public trees, or 22 per cent of tree species, were at high risk of increased temperatures if emissions were limited, in line with international commitments, in the years to 2040.

Trees were deemed at high risk when predicted temperatures were warmer than 97.5 per cent of locations where the species is found – making them particularly susceptible to drought, physiological stress and pest and disease outbreaks.

In the City of Sydney, 50 per cent of trees were at high risk under a business-as-usual scenario. They included brush box, rose gums, grey oaks and several eucalypt species.

In the Sydney council area formerly known as Marrickville, now part of the Inner West Council, a business-as-usual scenario put 40 per cent of trees at high risk, including casuarina she-oaks, black locusts and several eucalyptus species.

Some 32 per cent of trees were at high risk under business-as-usual in the City of Melbourne. They included rose apples and several species of elms, oaks and eucalypts.

Melbourne's inner north City of Moreland would see 26 per cent of trees at high risk under a business-as-usual scenario, such as purple-leafed plums, prairie crabapples and the narrow-leaved ash.

Darwin had the highest proportion of trees – 85 per cent - most at high risk if emission levels rose to 2070, while Ballarat had just 1 per cent at high risk.

Risks to trees were posed by both rising global temperatures and the urban "heat island" effect, where localised warming occurs due to dark-coloured and paved surfaces, buildings and the emission of heat from human activities.

The study was conducted by the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, a consortium of four universities funded by the Department of Environment and Energy.

It said "changes to the composition and the traits of the urban forest will lead to changes in the sense of place and identity of cities."

"Many cities in south-eastern Australia have a strong European colonial heritage expressed in their many broad-leaved deciduous trees that is likely to change under future climates," it said.

Conversely, local native trees helped create unique city identities and connections to natural heritage and traditional Indigenous ownership.


Rent-seekers think Liberals wrong? Well that’s good

“Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain,” wrote Dale Carnegie. “But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Carnegie’s advice should temper our loathing of the people responsible for wrecking a perfectly good energy market with their ill-judged policy intrusions.

They may claim to be well intentioned, but as Carnegie reminds us in How to Win Friends and Influence People, even gangsters imagine themselves blessed with hearts of gold.

“I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time,” Al Capone once ­lamented, “and all I get is abuse.”

Jay Weatherill was only trying to brighten our lives with his quirky plan to power his state with windmills and other imperfect methods of delivering alternating current at a constant 50 oscillations a second.

So far his little experiment — the South Australian Premier’s words, not ours — has delivered the highest electricity prices in the country, and possibly the world, and the first state-wide blackout for more than a half-century.

A more reflective premier might have thought twice before abandoning coal, preferably before a demolition squad blew up the state’s last thermal power plant, as it did late last week.

Instead, Weatherill is backing fledging technology called solar thermal. It would be a “game changer” that “signals the death knell for coal-fired power stations”, Weatherill told reporters in ­August, when he announced a solar-thermal plant would be built near Port Augusta.

The plant will have a capacity of 130MW, about 4 per cent of SA’s peak demand. Despite its modest size it will knock $90 million off our collective electricity bills, Weatherill said. “That’s about $50 per household … it could be much lower than that.”

One thing in solar thermal’s favour is that it can store energy. It won’t store it for long, however, since it suffers from the same impediment that stops us boiling the kettle tonight for tomorrow’s cup of tea.

But who are we to challenge Weatherill’s uncorroborated price assumptions about the potential of unproven technology? Especially when it has the cast-iron backing of concessional equity loan from the government.

The Premier reckons the project is a goer even without the $110 million it is borrowing from the feds, which makes you wonder why taxpayers get dragooned into carrying the liability for these kind of things.

Oliver Yates spent many ­hours trying to answer that question at Senate estimates committees before stepping down as chief of the Clean Energy ­Finance Corporation earlier this year. Here’s an extract from a particularly long session in February last year.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson: “A point of clarification … Is there some kind of market failure in relation to financing these kinds of projects?”

Yates: “Market failure is, I think, an overused term. It could be a market failure, but a market failure could also represent the fact that there are not a lot of investors in certain asset classes … If you call that market failure then, yes, it is a market ­failure.”

Yates is an angry critic of the Turnbull government’s plans to fix the energy market. The Liberals “are knowingly stoking the fires of the destruction”, Yates told the online journal RenewEconomy earlier this month. “They are on the wrong side of history.”

Yates’s outspoken comments followed his unexpected intervention at a Liberal Party lunch in Melbourne earlier this month, when he stood up from the table so suddenly that his companions found their desserts on their laps.

He spoke for several minutes denouncing climate denial before he was ejected by security guards. Such incidents are rare at Liberal Party fundraisers, but there is an argument they should be encouraged. Properly promoted, they would surely draw a crowd.

Yates’s wrath was invoked by Jane Hume, a mild-mannered senator from Victoria, who tried to lighten proceedings by presenting Scott Morrison with a lump of brown coal as a souvenir from ­Victoria. For Yates it was further evidence of a Liberal Party in denial, as he told this column yesterday. “They’re walking around as if coal is a good idea, ” he says. “Some of us find that offensive.”

In the interests of disclosure, we should note that Yates has skin in the game. He co-founded the Clean Energy Derivatives Corporation, which bets on ­future National Electricity Market prices.

It is hard to see how sanity can be restored to the energy market without treading on the toes of the renewable energy lobby.

What angers them most about Josh Frydenberg’s reforms is the National Energy Guarantee, a mechanism that requires electricity retailers to find their own back-up power when wind and solar plants cannot operate.

They can no longer expect the east coast grid to cover for them; anybody selling electricity must provide it every day in regular 4,320,000 alternating cycles.

The NEG is bad news for renewable energy producers because it takes away an effective subsidy and goes some way to levelling the playing field. Regional electricity producers that rely heavily on intermittent renewable energy sources will have to fire up gas plants, install batteries, pump hydro, boil kettles or anything they think of to keep the lights on.

It is bad news for the SA government, which assumed those costs would be absorbed by consumers in other states. It is bad news for carpetbaggers generally.

It is, however, good news for everyone else since it will end a form of subsidy that was being added to our bills.

Investors in renewable energy will think twice before investing in new projects, and shift the focus to projects with back-up, such as solar thermal, if it proves to be viable.

It will reduce the risk of blackouts — even in South Australia — and empower consumers. It will help restore the energy market to what it used to be: a system where supply is dictated by customers’ needs rather than the caprice of the weather gods.


Vote shows we can respect views with which we disagree

Tony Abbott

Whichever way it goes, the supporters of marriage between a man and a woman can be proud of their campaign. With polls showing support for same-sex marriage as high as 70 per cent just two months ago, the No campaign has done a fine job reminding people of the importance of keeping faith with values and institutions that have stood the test of time. Change is part of life but change for the better is invariably evolutionary, not revolutionary, and builds on our best traditions and historical strengths.

Two months ago, there were all sorts of hysterical claims about the bigotry and homophobia that the plebiscite would supposedly unleash. There have indeed been nasty social media posts on both sides of the argument but there’s been no bullying, intimidation, or prejudice from the No campaign. Yet again, the Australian people have shown that they’re more than capable of respecting views they don’t necessarily agree with and the Abbott government’s decision to resolve this matter by popular vote has been vindicated.

For whichever side emerges on top, the challenge will be to show magnanimity in victory. Of course, the result has to be respected by the parliament as there’s no point having a national plebiscite, even by post, if its result is to be ignored.

Bill Shorten, I suspect, might now be a little embarrassed by his pre-plebiscite declaration that Labor would introduce a same-sex marriage bill into the next parliament regardless of tomorrow’s vote, because any democratic politician who declares that he’s right and the public wrong is on a hiding to nothing.

A No vote would dismay the activists who have long demanded the status of marriage, if not its heavy duties and obligations. It shouldn’t make much difference to same-sex couples, though, as they already have exactly the same rights as a man and a woman in a settled domestic relationship.

In the event of a Yes vote, both Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull will need to do much more to protect freedom of conscience and freedom of religion than is the case with Dean Smith’s private member’s bill — which does no more than allow ministers of religion to decline to perform same-sex weddings.

Less than two months ago, the Prime Minister said: “I … want to reassure Australians that as strongly as I believe in the right of same-sex couples to marry, even more strongly … do I believe in religious freedom.” The opponents of same-sex marriage will certainly facilitate the passage of a bill through the parliament but hope that the Prime Minister will be as good as his word on entrenching the right to dissent from any new orthodoxy.

Naturally, the supporters of marriage as it has always been understood would be disappointed; heartbroken, indeed, in the case of those who have always maintained the power of the ­“silent majority”, if it turns out that the cultural ground has collapsed from under them.

Yet defeat could turn out to be a blessing in disguise if it forces the defenders of Western civilisation out of their long complacency. For too long we have put up with the trashing of our country’s history and the rubbishing of our ethical norms because we didn’t want to upset people.

The most persuasive advocates of same-sex marriage have a point when they characterise it as merely the latest manifestation of the decency and generosity of spirit that has long characterised Western societies. But how long can we slice and dice the ethical understandings on which our civilisation has rested? How far can we accept the redefinition of concepts that have always been taken for granted; assert rights without corresponding responsibilities; allow every opinion to be equally valid; or seek to give what we haven’t actually got? If we don’t want to end up at the bottom of a slippery slope, we have to be careful about starting down in the first place.

The same-sex marriage plebiscite is really the first time the public has been asked their view on an important values question. With no big political party leader on their side and with many church leaders dithering and divided, the ability of the No case to mobilise more than 5000 volunteer doorknockers and phone canvassers and to raise more than $6 million from 20,000-plus individual donors shows the latent power of respect for tradition, if only the case is made for it. The challenge will be to keep the faith and stay the course for the even more important struggles ahead.


Queensland conservative leader played role in decision to preference nationalists

LNP leader Tim Nicholls has confirmed he played a role in his party’s decision to preference One Nation in 49 seats. “I’m a member of the state executive and had a role in it,” Mr Nicholls told ABC Brisbane radio this morning. “The decision was ultimately one for state executive to make…we put the Greens last as I’ve said. The danger of a Labor-Greens coalition, a very real prospect…is something we wouldn’t countenance or support.”

The LNP will preference the Greens last across the state. “Their policies would lend you to believe they will destroy the economy,” Mr Nicholls said. The Opposition leader also said the LNP would not support Labor’s Cross River Rail project, which has been budgeted at $5.4bn.

Asked when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former PM Tony Abbott would be joining his campaign in Queensland, Mr Nicholls dodged the question and said it was “very much a Queensland campaign”. He said it was likely federal MPs would show up at some point ahead of the November 25 election. It is understood Mr Nicholls will be campaigning in south-east Queensland today, while Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is still in the regions.


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

14 November, 2017

Major private health insurer to transition to low-carbon investments in its international portfolio

They appear to have meekly swallowed the arrant nonsense about warmth being bad for your health.  Every hospital manager knows that it is COLD weather that increases his caseload.  And a health insurer should certainly know that

Medibank, one of Australia's biggest health insurers, has announced it will dump its holdings in fossil fuel companies amid concern over the health effects of climate change.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange on Monday morning, Medibank said it would transition to low-carbon investments in its international portfolio within the next year, to reflect the global transition to clean energy.

"We are also committed to exploring a similar approach with our domestic equity portfolio, and so we will be actively encouraging fund managers to develop a suitable product for us that is socially responsible, cost effective and delivers a sustainable investment return," the statement said.

The announcement by chairwoman Elizabeth Alexander preceded the company's annual general meeting in Melbourne on Monday.

"We understand that the health of the environment has an impact on the health of the community ... Medibank acknowledges the science of climate change and the impacts on human health," the statement said.

"We also recognise our role as a corporate citizen, and the increasing expectations the community has of corporate Australia."

Divestment from fossil fuel companies has emerged as a key front in the fight against climate change, helped by major institutions that have started to divest, including Norway's government pension fund.

Campaigns have targeted universities, churches, local councils, superannuation funds and banks.

Environmental finance group Market Forces said the announcement by Medibank, which has 3.8 million members, means all of Australia's major health insurers have now agreed to shift their money from fossil fuels.

"It's extremely positive that Medibank has ended its unhealthy addiction to fossil fuels," campaigner Pablo Brait said.

"The medical profession has long understood that climate change has a devastating effect on people's health, so it stands to reason medical insurers should not be invested in the industries which drive it."


A balanced bill to protect freedom of religion from homosexual hostility

James Patterson

The Leftist view:  "James Patterson’s bill isn’t about protecting religious freedoms, it’s about enshrining discrimination and should be rejected."

On the question of religious freedom and same-sex marriage, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten both put it well.

On September 15, the Prime Minister said: “I just want to reassure Australians that as strongly as I believe in the right of same-sex couples to marry, even more strongly, if you like, do I believe in religious freedom”.

On the same day, the Opposition Leader argued that “I am a supporter of marriage equality, but I also have been raised to be a person of faith. I can give this guarantee to the Australian ­people: I and Labor will not support legislation which impinges upon religious freedom in this country”.

Assuming there is a Yes result in the postal marriage survey on Wednesday, the issue before parliament will be how to best deliver on this bipartisan promise.

Like the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, I support same-sex marriage. I was proud to vote Yes in the postal survey, and I’ve been on the public record in support of same-sex marriage since June 2011. Although I am personally agnostic, I am equally passionate about ­religious liberty and the other important freedoms we cherish as Australians, like freedom of speech and ­conscience.

I’ve never believed that legalising same-sex marriage and preserving the freedoms of all Australians are mutually exclusive. During the campaign, I argued that it was not beyond the ability of the parliament to achieve both.

To do so it must enact a bill with sufficiently robust protections for our freedoms. Today I’ve released a draft bill to deliver on these objectives.

Like other draft bills produced in recent years, it changes the Marriage Act to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. It also ensures ministers of religion and civil celebrants with a genuine belief in the traditional definition of marriage cannot be forced to solemnise a same-sex wedding.

Everyone agrees these protections are necessary because we all accept it would be wrong to compel someone to act against their conscience.

But unlike other bills, it does not end there.

Religious freedom is a universal human right. There’s no international law or legal instrument that says only ministers of religion enjoy this right, and deserve to have it protected. Religious freedom extends to the congregation too — and it doesn’t end at the church, mosque or synagogue door.

As a society, we uphold the idea of religious freedom because we believe people of faith ­deserve to be able to lead their lives according to their values. Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are intimately linked. As a non-­religious person, I should have no fewer rights to live my life consistent with my beliefs than anyone else.

That’s why it is necessary to extend the same principle applied in other same-sex marriage bills beyond ministers of religion to anyone else directly connected to a wedding. If it is wrong to force a priest to participate in a same-sex ­wedding against their beliefs, it should be wrong to force a florist or a photographer too.

My draft bill provides a limited right of conscientious objection, so that no one is compelled to participate in a same-sex wedding if it is inconsistent with their sincerely held beliefs.

It also protects free speech. The aborted complaint against Archbishop Julian Porteous in Tasmania shows there is legal uncertainty about whether promoting a traditional understanding of marriage is consistent with some state laws. The bill would protect this speech — provided that it is not threatening or harassing.

It enacts a new, narrow anti-detriment clause, to ensure that people who hold a ­traditional ­belief in marriage cannot be ­adversely treated — but only by government and its agencies. For example, governments could not withdraw funding for a charity ­because it promotes a traditional understanding of marriage. A body that licenses occupations could not revoke the licence of a practitioner based on their views. No government could sack a public servant based on their beliefs about marriage.

But a printing company could refuse to print a book arguing against same-sex marriage, as occurred last year. As we saw during the survey period, an advertising company could decline to provide services to opponents of same-sex ­marriage, and the owner of a venue could not be forced to hold an event promoting traditional marriage.

This is an important feature of the bill. In the same way it would be wrong to force someone with a traditional belief in marriage to participate in a same-sex wedding, it is also wrong to force a supporter of same-sex marriage to be ­involved in the promotion of views with which they disagree.

Finally, the bill ensures students and their parents have a right to opt out of classes that conflict with their values. This upholds the right of parents to control the moral and religious education of their children. This bill is not an ­attempt to delay the legalisation of same-sex marriage. It could pass the parliament as quickly as any other bill that aims to do the same. If a Yes result is returned this week, the parliament must pass a bill before Christmas, with additional sitting weeks if necessary.

We’ll soon know the result. But one thing is already clear — Australians disagree on how we should define marriage. Our challenge is to find a way to coexist harmoniously and accept that we don’t all agree. Free societies can prosper with diverse points of view. A legal framework that protects everyone’s freedom gives us the best chance of doing so.


The Law council wishes to protect the rights of clergy and institutions only, not individual Christians
Note this cynical legalistic sentence below:  "While the freedom to have religious beliefs is also protected unconditionally, the manifestation or expression of those beliefs or religion may be subject to limitation".  In other words, your religion is OK as long as you keep it in your own head.  That strays a long way from the usual conception of religious freedom
The draft Marriage Amendment (Definition and Protection of Freedoms) Bill 2017 to legalise same-sex marriage, released by Senator James Paterson today, represents an ‘extraordinary and perilous’ winding back of Australia's anti-discrimination laws under the cover of marriage equality.

Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, said while the Paterson Bill acknowledges concerns of those holding traditional views of marriage, it goes well beyond the issue of marriage in a number of crucial respects.

“Australia’s anti-discrimination laws were amended in 2013 to enact important protections for LGBTI people in recognition of the unacceptable levels of discrimination. This Bill will encroach on many of these protections in an extraordinary and perilous way.”

“For example, the Bill would allow people to refuse to provide goods and services on the grounds of belief, thought and conscience taking us well beyond religious beliefs into unchartered waters.

“You could potentially see a situation where a hire car company could leave their customers stranded on the way to a marriage ceremony simply because the driver held a thought or belief against it. This is even if the belief had nothing to do with religion,” Ms McLeod said.

Ms McLeod said freedom from discrimination is a fundamental human right. Discrimination on personal attributes, including sexual orientation, is contrary to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and our international obligations.

“The right to freedom of religion also appears in international law. While the freedom to have religious beliefs is also protected unconditionally, the manifestation or expression of those beliefs or religion may be subject to limitation where it impacts upon other fundamental rights.”

Ms McLeod said the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017, endorsed by five government members including Senator Dean Smith, already extended existing protections for freedom of religious expression in the context of marriage and was a reasonable compromise.

“The Smith Bill supports the protection of religious freedoms in two key ways. It permits ministers of religion and religious marriage celebrants to refuse to solemnise a marriage and it allows bodies established for religious purposes to refuse to provide goods or services for the purposes of the solemnisation of a marriage,” Ms McLeod said.

“While the Law Council does not endorse every detail of the Smith Bill it represents a better balance from a human rights perspective and represents greater fairness, including those affected by winding back anti-discrimination laws.”

Email from the law Council

Fat and mismanaged public sector is eating Australia alive

Milton Friedman once quipped: “You’re lucky you don’t get all the government you pay for.” Well our federal public service costs more than 6 per cent of GDP simply to run, so just how lucky are we? America’s population is more than 13 times Australia’s, yet employs only eight times as many federal public servants. On a relative basis the US has fewer departments and agencies.

In Australia, growth in public service employment and wages outstrips the private sector. ­According to The Australian’s economics editor: “Inflation in the cost of public-sector services is rising at more than five times the pace of the private-sector, and is equivalent to a tax of more than $800 a year on the average ­household.”

But running costs are one thing. In a Crikey article, carried by the Community and Public Services Union, Eric Beecher chronicles appalling mismanagement in service delivery.

There’s Centrelink’s fake debt letter “debacle” where thousands of poor Australians were hit with demands to repay money they didn’t owe.

Centrelink considerately attached a “suicide call-back service number” for the despairing. Beecher describes the handling of the North West Shelf royalty ­revenue by the Department of ­Industry as “extraordinary ineptitude”, “possibly costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in unjustified tax offsets”. The Australian National Audit Office confirms “available evidence indicates that the problems are much greater than has yet been quantified”.

Then there’s the $11 billion spent by the Defence Department managing 119 bases around Australia which the ANAO says is well in excess of the $9.3bn “expected value” of the 10 services contracts, signed in 2014, to do the work.

The department has defended its performance, saying the vast project to renegotiate the contracts has delivered value for money, when considered against increased service demands and changing expectations of the ADF. Yet a new $120 million IT system, meant to manage contracts ­between Defence and the private companies servicing the bases, was $39m over budget and five years late.

There’s also the flawed tendering and contracting processes overseen by the Immigration ­Department, which resulted in the waste of “tens and possibly, hundreds of millions of dollars”. Given these practices were subject to a scathing ANAO report, they could hardly be ignored.

We’re reminded of last year’s Australian Bureau of Statistics census “stuff-up”, the Australian Taxation Office’s massive and damaging IT outage, the Department of Health’s decade-long mismanagement of e-health records, and the embarrassing release of identifiable Medicare information. There’s also the Department of Finance’s lax oversight of ministerial travel arrangements. But not raised is the $576m public service travel bill — a blowout of $75m in just four years.

While this shocking record is acknowledged, Beecher argues the blame lies mainly with outsourcing to powerful private contractors who take advantage of CPSU members, under-investment in IT, IT service providers, and, of course, Tony Abbott.

It appears Abbott “demoralised and demonised” the public service. He imposed an industrial relations “hardliner” to negotiate a new enterprise agreement which the union rejected. His aggressive approach resulted in 27 agencies taking industrial action, with some managers admitting that “staff are simply no longer bothering to make any extra effort to achieve government priorities”.

Is this what the Australian ­Public Service means when it says it “must set the pace for a ­contemporary Australian workforce”? Treasury’s shortcomings are also Abbott’s fault. He ­appointed department head John Fraser, who, it is argued, brought with him a “dearth of quality thinking”. Treasury’s poor forecasting record for most of the decade is conveniently forgotten.

Forgotten too are the 1500 ­Department of Education and Training staff who are supposed to create the conditions and incentives for schools and universities to flourish. They do not operate any schools or employ any teachers, but oversee the spending of more than $34bn a year.

Yet, despite regular funding ­increases, a UN agency ranks Australia 39th out of 41 high and middle-income countries for quality education.

Only 7 per cent of Australian school students perform at ­advanced-level maths, compared with 54 per cent of Singaporean students. But when gender-diversity, climate-change and a negative view of our history fill student’s minds, this is not surprising. Higher education is also lagging. Despite federal university funding per domestic student ­increasing 15 per cent between 2010 and 2015, Australian institutions, according to The Times Higher Education editorial director, are falling behind those in China and Hong Kong.

Regrettably, bad policy decisions and poor administration aren’t restricted to recurrent programs. We remember well the $2.45bn pink batts fiasco which ­resulted in deaths and house fires, and the $16.2bn “Building the Education Revolution” debacle, ­almost $2bn of which was completely wasted.

The latest taxpayer extortion is the National Broadband Network “train wreck”, which was forecast to cost $43bn but which will deliver a system little better than what it replaces for about $60bn.

Then there’s the uncosted French submarines, Snowy Hydro 2, experimental battery storage and the countless other brainwaves probably in our future. The inescapable conclusion is that today’s political leaders, federal and state, treat taxpayers’ money with contempt. They cultivate a culture which fosters conceit and deflects responsibility for failure. These days, announcements pass for policy. Implementation is for others to worry about.

And we complain about capitalism? Such negligence would see corporate executives fired, sued or in jail and their businesses bankrupted. That’s how the private sector is cleansed.

Political ineptitude, on the other hand, is perpetuated, courtesy of taxpayers.

Yes, we do have elections. But as long as the electorate puts its trust in the same discredited snake-oil promises, politicians will keep pushing their “government is the answer” remedies. Only when voters realise that insanity is voting for the same thing over and over and expecting different ­results will change and accountability be possible.


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

13 November, 2017

'It was a very dangerous situation': Christine Forster slams protesters for 'shredding her jacket while trying to punch her' - as she claims refugees detained on Manus Island are 'well treated'

More Leftist thuggery.  When Sam Dastyari was verbally accosted by a couple of bozos the MSM shrieked about the rise of right-wing extremists. Christine Forster was physically assaulted by a feral mob. We await the front-page headlines about the evils of Left-wing extremism...

Christine Forster has opened up about the moment a crowd of protesters swarmed her and allegedly 'shredded' her jacket as she tried to attend her brother's Liberal Party function on Friday.

Met with thousands of angry Manus Island protesters, Tony Abbott's sister claims she was viciously attacked as she trenched through Redfern's Australian Technology Park.

'We were spat on, we were physically grabbed, people tried to punch us,' she told Nine News.

Despite being under heavy police guard, Ms Forster recalled being 'crushed' as she and her partner Virginia maneuvered their way towards the fundraiser.

'There was really a crush happening at that point and if someone had of been knocked over it would of been was a really dangerous situation,' she said.

Protesters were also blamed for tearing apart the back of her tweed blazer before her escape through a back fence.

Her older brother came to her defense, slamming the violent acts as 'disgraceful behaviour'.

Police revealed the four people had been arrested from their involvement in the chaotic event, which unfolded around 6pm.

A 24-year-old was granted conditional bail after being charged for spitting on an officer. He will face court on December 11.

A further three people, including a 31-year-old male and two women aged 43 and 51, were arrested but cleared of any charges.

The crowd was protesting the Australian government's handling of refugees on the now-closed Manus Island detention centre.

Ms Forster defended her stance on the issue, stating it wasn't 'her view' that people on Manus Island were being mistreated.  'They are being well treated,' she claimed. 

Ms Forster had her jacket 'shredded' by protesters as she and her partner Virginia Edwards made their way through the crowd.

Mr Abbott took to Twitter on Saturday morning to condemn the attack.

'Disgraceful behaviour by protesters last night,' the former prime minister tweeted.

'Denying Australians' real rights to uphold the supposed rights of boat people.'

Ms Forster said it took 30 to 40 police officers to prevent the growing crowd from completely overpowering her and her partner.

'They were spitting, they were snarling,' she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'I support peaceful political protests, that's fine. But don't assault people.'

Mr Abbott later continued: 'My sister is herself a brave campaigner for rights and should never have been assaulted.'

Around 600 refugees remain at the detention centre, despite services including water and electricity being cut off 10 days ago.

The men believe it is safer to stay at the old compound rather than risk being attacked by locals at the new facility.

The refugees are protesting against the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments who want to move them to facilities near the township of Lorengau


Manus Island refugees 'regularly travel into town to have sex with underage girls and buy drugs - and they've been doing it for four years'

Refugees detained on Manus Island have regularly travelled into town to allegedly have sex with underage girls and buy drugs, Australian government officials were told last month.

Police and community leaders in Papua New Guinea informed Australian officials of 161 offences involving residents at the centre, dated over the last four years.

The alleged offences include ­assault, sexual assault, aggressive behaviour, unlawful entry, property damage and contraband, The Australian reports.

Several children have been born from the alleged sexual assaults, the paper claims.

The publication reports that some of the detained on Manus Island, who receive $100 a fortnight, allegedly used items such as cigarettes and chocolates bought at the centre to lure ­underage girls to engage in sexual acts.

On Friday, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told Melbourne radio 3AW around 190 men from the Manus Island detention centre would travel into the nearby village of Lorengau by bus each day.

Mr Dutton also confirmed some of these men had threatened the wives and children of locals with sexual abuse and rape.

'They'll go down, purchase goods from the markets, they stay at the beach, go to the beach, they sell things down there,' he said.

'Obviously, if they're minded to buy drugs or sell drugs, then that's an activity that some are involved in as well.'

The allegations follow claims of another refugee who reportedly punched a female doctor in the face before trying to strangle her with a plastic bag.

The 50-year-old refugee was arrested after he was accused of assaulting a senior doctor while he was being treated at a medical centre run by the Australian government in March.

The clinic is operated by the International Health and Medical Services, and paid for by the government to help refugees on Manus Island.

According to an incident report from the International Health and Medical Services, the man tried to strangle the doctor with a plastic bag and punched her in the face, leaving a gash on her forehead. 

The Australian government cut off food, water, medical assistance and electricity to the refugees at the Manus Island centre 10 days ago.

There are still 580 men living at the detention centre who are protesting against the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments who want to move them to facilities near the township of Lorengau.

The men believe it is safer to stay at the old compound rather than risk being attacked by locals at the new facility.



Christopher Pyne makes threat to use votes to refer Labor MPs to High Court in citizenship saga

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused Labor leader Bill Shorten of running a ‘protection racket for his own dual citizens’.

Mr Turnbull, who is in Hong Kong today, told reporters that the pressure is really on Mr Shorten now to refer his MPs who may be ineligible to be in Parliament to the High Court.

“There is no question that Labor has a number of members who not only were, but knew they were, they knew they were foreign citizens at the time they nominated for parliament,” he said. “That makes them ineligible. Now, if they believe they can persuade the court to take a somewhat different tack, good luck to them. But the place to determine that is in the court. Bill Shorten has got to stop running a protection racket for his own dual citizens.”

His comment come after Christopher Pyne threatened to use the government numbers in the House of Representatives to refer two Labor members to the High Court over their citizenship status when it sits at the end of November.

There are still questions over whether Labor MPs Justine Keay and Susan Lamb, as well as crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie, held dual citizenship at the time of the 2016 election.

Mr Pyne, the Leader of the House, says the government will put it to the vote if necessary if Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor do not take any action.

“There is absolutely no reason the parliament should not vote to refer those members to the high court if the Labor Party refuses to do the right thing,” Mr Pyne told Sky News on Sunday.

The threat came after Liberal MP John Alexander on Saturday resigned from parliament after admitting it was “most likely” he holds UK citizenship.

The member for Bennelong said he’ll stand again for parliament in an upcoming by-election in a seat the Liberals hold by more than nine per cent.

Labor frontbencher Richard Marles said unlike Mr Alexander, Ms Keay and Ms Lamb took steps to renounce their foreign citizenship prior to nominations.

“Compare that to John Alexander, to Barnaby Joyce, to Stephen Parry, to Fiona Nash, all of them, they didn’t even look at their circumstances until they had been sprung,” Mr Marles told Sky News.

Mr Alexander’s departure temporarily leaves the coalition clinging to 73 seats in the 150 seat House of Representatives, not counting the Speaker, while Labor has 69 seats.

Mr Pyne is confident the government still has the support of independent MP Carthy McGowan so the government will not be brought down.

“Sure it will be a confusing couple of weeks on issues to do with procedure but the government will not change, we have supply and confidence with support from the crossbench,” Mr Pyne said.

“There is no reason for the parliament not to serve its full term until July 2019.”

The Turnbull government faces a tumultuous end to the parliamentary year as Labor threatens to take advantage of the coalition’s depleted numbers amid the citizenship scandal.

Labor MP Tony Burke says his party will try to deliver on a royal commission into banks, despite the numbers still being stacked against them.

“When we get back to the Parliament what Labor will do with the new situation is pursue our agenda,” Mr Burke told reporters on Saturday.

“Our commitment whatever the numbers on the floor are, is to be representing the people who have been hurt through the banks without getting a royal commission.”

Despite yet another of his team falling foul of section 44, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ruled out returning early from his trip to Asia. “These are very important meetings, huge priorities,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Da Nang, Vietnam where APEC summit was wrapping up, before heading to Hong Kong.

Mr Turnbull said he spoke to Mr Alexander on Friday night ahead of his resignation.

“John’s done the right thing. The honourable thing,” Mr Turnbull said. Earlier this week, Mr Alexander sought advice on whether he is a UK citizen through his father Gilbert Alexander, who was born in England in 1907 and arrived in Australia in 1911.

Mr Alexander said he hadn’t received official confirmation of his dual citizenship, but said the “balance, the probability of evidence is that I most likely am”.

“The obligation that I have is that once I do not hold the view that I’m solely Australian I must resign,” Mr Alexander told reporters in Sydney. He will be the second member of the House of Representatives forced to resign because of their dual citizenship.

Barnaby Joyce is facing a by-election in New England, after discovering he was a New Zealand citizen, because of his father’s birth.


Bill Shorten faces bitter Victorian branch dispute

Bill Shorten is staring down the barrel of a legal dispute that could tear apart the Labor Party in his home state, after the federal ALP intervened to readmit thousands of Victorian members suspended over allegations of rorts.

Victorian Labor has called an emergency meeting of its state administrative committee next week to consider legal advice against its national executive, after it overrode the state body to ­reinstate voting rights of 4600 members of its online “central branch”.

The national executive motion, passed on Friday by a single vote, was a bid to end a near year-long dispute that erupted when fears of branch stacking in the online body prompted Victoria to suspend online members’ voting rights.

The motion was greeted as a coup for the Victorian right faction and central branch powerbroker Stephen Conroy, but has outraged the party’s left, which claims the online branch is a hotbed of branch stacking and rorting.

“We now have our party back,” Maribyrnong Federal Electoral Assembly delegate and Conroy ally Bassel Tallal said.

The dispute has pitted top-ranking MPs and officials against one another, with the Opposition Leader’s right faction dependent on central branch votes to secure plum preselections.

“It’s a big fight in a big branch,” a Labor MP told The Australian.

Another member raged that the party could not afford the distraction of a state committee fighting with the national body.

The dispute is expected to boil over as preselections in the marginal seat of Corangamite see a duel between Libby Coker and Diana Taylor. Other preselections also under the microscope include Dunkley, La Trobe and Chisholm.

The online central branch previously allowed members to join by simply completing an online form. A probe of about 800 sign-ups this year found irregularities and reasons for dismissal in more than 600 of the applications.

Mr Shorten declined to comment on Friday’s decision, but a spokesman said he supported making it easier to join the party.


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

12 November, 2017

ACTU chief’s fake facts on wages undone by history


It is a truth universally acknow­ledged that we live in a post-truth age.

That Sally McManus’s speech on the 110th anniversary of the Harvester decision last week is ­replete with claims whose only ­relationship to reality is that they contradict it may therefore be par for the course.

But as demagogues have known since time immemorial, myths can have powerful consequences; and McManus’s myths are made all the more dangerous by the remedies she proposes to the problems she invents.

At the heart of those inventions is the assertion that Australian workers are being brutally crushed. “Labour’s share of ­national income,” she says in ­support of that assertion, “is at a 50-year low.”

Like so many of her purported facts, that claim is simply incorrect: at 54 per cent, the share of wages in national income is line ball with the 55 per cent that has been its trend level since the late 1980s.

Moreover, far from being at a low, the wages share of national ­income is materially higher now than it was during the mining boom, when surging export prices boosted profits and helped finance a doubling in Australia’s capital stock.

As for profits being at historic peaks, profit rates, as measured by the national accounts, have dropped since the boom ended to well below their long-term ­average, and the profits share of national income has fallen with them.

But however shonky McManus’s data may be, it shines compared to her understanding of Australian economic history.

Eulogising Justice HB Higgins’s Harvester decision, which increased the minimum wage by 18 per cent, she argues it shows that raising the minimum wage lifts the living standards of the poorly paid and reduces inequality.

That decision, she claims, consequently stands as a ringing endorsement of the ACTU’s call for a more than 10 per cent  increase in the minimum wage.

No characterisation of the Harvester decision could be more fanciful. In reality, Justice Higgins had little regard for productivity; accused by his critics of refusing to “consider the rates which industry could bear”, he readily admitted that was “very nearly true”. As a ­result, the higher wages he ­mandated benefited the most skilled and productive workers, but cast the less skilled and ­disabled on to the dust heap of long-term unemployment.

“Higgins thought he was protecting the weak,” Colin Forster concluded in his classic assessment of the Harvester decision; “in fact, he was aiding the strong.”

But McManus did not need to plunge into the scholarly archives to see the dangers of raising the minimum wage without taking ­account of productivity. Rather, even the most cursory examination of the Whitlam government’s experience should have set alarm bells ringing.

Much like McManus, Gough Whitlam, and his minister for ­labour, Clyde Cameron, believed there was an urgent need to ensure “wage justice” for those “who have been disadvantaged by their ­relative bargaining weakness”.

On coming to office, they therefore secured a 27 per cent minimum wage increase in the 1973 National Wage Case.

As that increase spread through industry, triggering a wages explosion, unemployment soared, leading Cameron to complain in August 1974 that “union bloody mindedness” was “slowly but surely pricing thousands of Australian workers out of employment”.

By the end of 1974, even Whitlam admitted that “employees can price themselves out of the market”, while also admitting that the “sharp squeeze on profits” — which, much as McManus hopes to do, had slashed profits’ share of national income from 45 per cent to 38 per cent — was causing a complete collapse in investment.

The 1973 rise in the minimum wage was therefore one of the worst economic policy mistakes in Australian history. And yet again, it was the most vulnerable who paid the price, with younger ­workers the hardest hit.

As Cameron recognised in his 1982 memoirs, “we have not helped the young by demanding that they not be employed unless paid excessive wages. We priced them out of the labour market and we deserve no thanks for that.”

By then it was, of course, too late. Correcting the Whitlam ­disaster took nearly 15 years, with the Hawke government’s ­Prices and Incomes Accord, which reduced the wages share of national income towards its current level, beginning the recovery.

All that ought to have taught McManus an obvious lesson: firms won’t hire workers who cost more than they produce. Productivity growth therefore sets a constraint on wage rises.

That McManus entirely avoids that issue is unsurprising: our  productivity performance hardly creates scope for the steep wage hikes she advocates.

Multifactor productivity — which measures how much output we get for each unit of capital and labour combined — is only 1.5 per cent higher today than it was in 2006-07, implying an annual growth rate of less than two-tenths of 1 per cent.

Yes, labour productivity has ­increased more rapidly. However, 90 per cent of that increase is just the result of “capital deepening”, that is, of the rise in capital per worker.

In marked contrast to their counterparts in the US and Britain — where less than half the growth in labour productivity is due to capital deepening — Australian workers are not more productive because they are doing things ­better but simply because they have more capital to work with.

Instead of addressing our ­productivity crisis, the myriad restrictions McManus wants to impose on Australian workplaces would worsen it. And the higher wages she seeks would merely  induce more inefficient substitution of capital for labour, compounding the problem.

Those are truths phony facts cannot wave away. After all, to say something is true is to say it is the case whether we want it or not. And nothing can be made true by words alone. Not even Sally McManus’s.


Why the history wars matter

Jeremy Sammut

Before I became what I half-jokingly describe as a fact-grubber and barrow pusher — a think tanker — I was formally trained as an historian.  My PhD thesis examined the political ideas and ideals of the men who founded the Commonwealth of Australia.

I was — and still am — a big-picture national history kind of historian. At a time when deconstruction is the intellectual fashion, my historical interests continue to lie in the national story.

And not only as a historian interested in getting the national story right about contentious historical and social issues such as gender and race; but also as a think tanker interested in the contemporary importance of the national story to the national interest.

For despite what the post-modern theorists claim, the nation remains the ultimate political reality. The power of the national story to inspire our collective beliefs about ourselves as Australians, and for those beliefs to inspire the direction of our national life, is the reason the history wars matter.

The history wars — the on-going debate about the practice and teaching of Australian history — and about vitally important and potentially divisive subjects such as the history of Australian racism — remain a critically important battle of ideas.

Understanding the true meaning of Australian history, and debunking the perennial claims routinely made about the role our supposedly perpetual of history of ‘racism’ allegedly continues to plays in Australian society, is increasingly in the national interest today.

In the current age of grievance-mongering identity politics, the use, abuse and distortion of Australian history lies behind the politicisation of racial issues by organisations such as Australian Human Rights Commission.

Getting the history of Australian racism right has therefore never mattered more than now to counteract to the threat identity politics poses to the social harmony that has become the hallmark of modern multi-racial Australia.


Right of entry permit stripped from swearing CFMEU official

A construction union official who called non-union workers as "f---ing dog c---s" at the Gorgon Gas LNG project has been stripped of his right of entry permit.

Fair Work Commission Deputy President Melanie Binet dismissed CFMEU organiser Brad Upton's request for a right of entry permit on Monday after the Commission heard he threatened to write the names of workers who had left the union on backs of toilet doors and used the derogatory term for them.

The decision contrasts with Fair Work Commissioner Bernie Riordan's recent finding that another CFMEU official, Matthew Gosek, was unfairly dismissed after using almost identical language.

Mr Gosek allegedly called co-workers "f-----g dog , c--t and dog c--t" which Commissioner Riordan described as unfortunate but very commonplace and "used across all walks of life".

In Monday's decision, Ms Binet said Mr Upton failed to meet the "fit and proper person" test for holding a right of entry permit.

She said Mr Upton's use of obscene and abusive language revealed a "pattern of repeated conduct". She said the pattern of behaviour suggested a "lack of genuine contrition and a propensity to engage in unlawful conduct".

"This is highly relevant to the question of whether Mr Upton is a fit and proper person," Ms Binet said.

The Federal Court of Australia in September found Mr Upton addressed a group of workers at the West Australia Gorgon project for about ten minutes in a manner "which might best be described as a rant", during which he said words to the effect of:

"The f-----g 90 dog c----s that resigned from the union the day after we f----g signed the [Enterprise Bargaining Agreement] after we got the conditions we got now, this is a f----g union site. If you don't f-----g like it, f--k off somewhere else. We got you these conditions, we know who you are. We're going to put your names on the back of the toilet doors...

"If you're not in the union, you can f--k off somewhere else".

The Federal Court found Mr Upton caused a non-unionised employee emotional distress and harm.

A spokesman for Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said bullying behaviour demonstrated by the CFMEU official should have no place in any Australian workplace.

"Sadly, hardly a day goes by without a court or commission finding against the thuggish and bullying behaviour of CFMEU officials," the spokesman said.

"These findings demonstrate the endemic cultural problems of Australia's most militant union, and the utter failure of its leadership to do anything about it."


More BOM Shenanigans

Australia’s @BOM_au ignores all pre-1910 temps, because it was warmer in the late 1800’s, than now, leading up to the “Federation Drought” – and that wrecks their and @abcnews' scam.

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

10 November, 2017

Woman sets up Jehovah’s Witness husband on ‘To Catch a Cheater’

This is fake.  Jehovah's witnesses don't wear jeans during their ministry and they don't wear a backpack.  They carry a briefcase.  And they don't have a "list" of people to call.  They knock on every door in the block. And they travel in pairs, not alone

A SUSPICIOUS woman was left horrified when her Jehovah’s Witness husband was seduced during an outreach knock.

The married woman contacted YouTubers To Catch a Cheater after she had her doubts about her husband being faithful.

She informed channel host Luis Mercado that she had converted to the faith for her partner, but felt many people in their assembly — including her husband — were “hypocritical”.

The crew and woman worked together to add their studio flat to his door to door list and set up a honey trap inside.

In the YouTube video the horrified wife can be seen tentatively watching as the actress answering the door starts to ramp up the flirting.

The actress informs the man that she was kicked out of the church for “pleasures of the flesh” and starts to play seductively with his tie.

When the pair were sitting on the couch, the woman shows off her cleavage and starts to get extremely tactile with the man.

The clip had to be censored for YouTube as the action started to heat up.

The shocked wife looked visibly distressed when her husband started taking off his clothes so he was standing in his underwear and just a tie.

The actress 'got cold feet' before things went too far, but the wife had seen enough.

Many viewers were shocked, and one said: “That man taking off his shirt was the fastest he’s moved in decades.”

But some questioned the validity of the video, which has been viewed over a half a million times.

One said: “There has never been a Jehovah’s Witness that has knocked my door dressed in jeans and with a backpack or alone.”

Another said: “This is obviously fake because Jehovah’s Witnesses always travel with one partner at the very least. And their field ministry doesn’t include jeans for apparel.”


Sydney University charging students a security fee for conservative events

A blatant attack on free speech

UNIVERSITY students are being told they will have to pay to hire security guards if they want to run events spruiking conservative ideals — including pro-coal ideas.

Student organiser Renee Simone Gorman said the Conservative Club was told by Sydney University it had to agree to pay “unlimited security fees” if it wanted to host an event called The Case for Coal.

The club was also hit with a $760 fee to pay for up to 10 security guards for an earlier talk on the “Dangers of Socialism” in August.

This was despite no protesters actually turning up.

“Students who don’t follow the left wing line of thought are paying for the left to throw tantrums,” she said.

A university spokesman rejected the fees were one-sided, but would not explain how the university decided who was charged.

“The University of Sydney makes its facilities available to staff, students and the community but all applicants are required to pay for the costs incurred for events,” he said.

“Students are charged whenever security assesses there is a need and all kinds of events are charged.

“We are not able to comment on methods used by Campus Security for operational reasons.”

Dr Peter Phelps, who is attending the forum on coal and energy said it was a clear attempt to curtail free speech. “It is disgraceful,” he said.

The Institute of Public Affairs research fellow Matthew Lesh slammed the fees as a “heckler’s veto”.

“It creates a strong incentive for students to disrupt events and make certain ideas unspeakable on campus,” he said. “Students should not have to pay for bad behaviour.”

Kelton Muir — from the university’s socialist Solidarity Student Club — said his group had not been charged for security guards for their events, including talks by left-wing activists as well as other campus events on the “madness of capitalism”. “We have not been asked to pay for security,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Young Socialist Alliance Club said they were only charged if their events were held on weekends or out of hours.


Turnbull defends jobs record

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has slammed Karl Stefanovic after the Today show host accused him of 'waffling' in response to a question about his government.

In a heated interview on Thursday, Mr Turnbull was asked whether he was losing control of his leadership amid the citizenship crisis engulfing federal parliament.

Mr Turnbull responded by rattling off a list of his government's achievements, before boasting about company tax cuts and the influx of jobs across the nation.

'PM, with the greatest respect, you are waffling,' Stefanovic interjected, accusing Mr Turnbull of being 'patronising'.

'Karl, you have got a job. If you are looking for a job and you need a job and you have got one because of the strong economic leadership we provided, you may think it is waffling,' Mr Turnbull shot back, pointing his finger at Karl.

'But if you have been unemployed and you are getting a chance to get ahead, you would say you are being very patronising saying young people getting jobs is waffle.'

Stefanovic applauded Mr Turnbull's enthusiasm, saying:'This is the real you! This is what we want!'

'And Karl, is it the real you to patronise people who are out of work and are getting a chance to get ahead?' Mr Turnbull asked.

'Look at all the big issues we have dealt with recently. The same-sex marriage issue, the postal survey. Total support. It has gone out there,' he continued.

'The national energy guarantee has overwhelming support in our party. It is out there ... that is the practical political economic leadership that Australians want and that's what I'm delivering.

'Now, we have this issue with citizenship. We will resolve it. That's my commitment.

'But the issue for Australia is, can I get a job? Can my kids get a job? Will my business get ahead? Can I start a business if I can afford to pay the power bills? Will the lights stay on when I do pay the power bills?

'Those are the big questions and that's what I'm providing the answers to.' 

Last week, Liberal backbencher Kevin Andrews stoked a flurry of leadership speculation after describing the prime minister as being the leader 'at the moment'.


Shorten stonewalling citizenship enquiry

Bill Shorten is defying a citizenship truce offer and refusing to ­release documents of at least three MPs under a cloud despite assurances Labor has nothing to fear about the widening crisis.

The ALP’s resistance comes as former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce called for a peace deal, suggesting the Opposition Leader and Malcolm Turnbull agree to hold several by-elections in February if more parliamentarians are found to be dual citizens.

The Prime Minister and Mr Shorten failed to finalise new ­citizenship-disclosure rules yesterday as the government intensified pressure on Labor’s Justine Keay and Susan Lamb, both of whom hold marginal seats.

The government has known about the MPs’ circumstances for months but is only now signalling it is prepared to challenge opposition members as more of its own parliamentarians, including Liberal backbencher John Alexander, face questions over their eligibility.

Mr Turnbull presented the ­Coalition’s plan to end the dual-citizenship impasse during a meeting with Mr Shorten in Melbourne, but The Australian understands the Opposition Leader failed to offer an alternative plan or amendments.

Despite having had the draft of the Prime Minister’s suggested resolution on disclosure statements since Monday afternoon, it is understood that Mr Shorten went empty-handed to the meeting and offered no written draft document of his own.

It is understood that Mr Shorten also failed to articulate what Labor’s position was or what if any changes it would seek to make to the resolution.

Mr Shorten is believed to have wanted a clause to allow a “reasonable steps” test, which has been taken to be an implicit ­admission that the Labor leader believes several of his own MPs will be tripped up by the High Court’s ruling on the issue.

Ms Keay, the member for Braddon in Tasmania, has conceded she was still a British citizen when she nominated to run for parliament because her renunciation had not taken effect, while Ms Lamb, who won Longman, north of Brisbane, has not ­clarified when she ceased being British. A third Labor MP, Josh Wilson, who was born in England, is also facing questions because it is unclear when his renunciation took effect. Ms Lamb and Mr Wilson, the member for Fremantle, say they took reasonable steps and began their renunciation processes in May last year, about the same time as Ms Keay, whose renunciation was not registered until July 11 — more than a month after nominations closed and more than a week after the July 2 election.

As Mr Turnbull warned parliament may have to be recalled to deal with any further High Court referrals, Mr Joyce said it was time the two leaders behaved like “Menzies and Curtin” and agreed to send all their suspect MPs to the polls on one day.

The Nationals leader, who is the most senior MP to lose his job in the dual-citizenship fiasco, said he did not “believe for one second” Mr Shorten did not have his own problems. “The thing I’m a bit ­annoyed about is, when the ­National Party outed themselves, they should have all outed themselves,” Mr Joyce told The Australian yesterday while campaigning in Tamworth for the December 2 by-election.

“Maybe (if that happened) the High Court would have seen it differently. If they saw like 20 people in the High Court rather than just myself as the only lower house member (with dual citizenship) then they might have said ‘this is kind of ridiculous’.”

Liberal Jason Falinski has joined the list of MPs facing questions about dual citizenship. The Daily Telegraph reports today Mr Falinski, who took over Bronwyn Bishop’s safe Sydney seat of Mackellar last year, could be a Polish citizen by descent — a claim ­denied by Mr Falinski. Immigration documents from June and July 1958 reportedly show his ­father and grandfather had Polish citizenship when they arrived in Australia.

The government was offered a lifeline when lower house crossbencher Cathy McGowan yesterday confirmed she would continue to support the ­government on ­issues of ­confidence and supply, even if more Coalition MPs were caught in the mess.

Her crossbench colleague Rebekha Sharkie demanded a meeting with Mr Turnbull for assurances the Coalition could deliver “stable and effective” government. “Because of that instability (from the citizenship saga) I feel we’re not addressing key issues the community wants us to work on,” Ms Sharkie said.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said he would approach any no-confidence or supply motions on their merits, but declared a House of Representatives election “would start to make more sense” if several lower house MPs were disqualified. Labor would need the support of all crossbenchers to come close to a successful vote of no confidence but this appears ­unlikely if the government maintains the support of Ms McGowan and Ms Sharkie.

The Australian understands Mr Turnbull is open to shortening a 21-day deadline for all 226 parliamentarians to disclose any current or former foreign citizenship and the steps they took to renounce it, as the major parties engage in a standoff over the process. Mr Shorten questioned why MPs would not also have to confirm the birthplace of their grandparents under Mr Turnbull’s proposal and said five days was enough to make the relevant disclosures.

Mr Shorten released his own British renunciation papers at the height of the dual-citizenship ­fiasco but told parliament other MPs should not have to provide documentary proof.

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

9 November, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has a comment on the debacle over dual citizenship among Australia's politicians

Homosexual community won’t forgive those who voted "no" to homosexual marriage

The homosexual writing below makes large and unwarranted assumptions about other people's motives so it is no surprise that he is filled with hate. He says, for instance, that  the plebiscite on homosexual marriage was a deliberate delaying tactic.  It was not.  It was a buck-passing exercise.  The Liberal party was disunited over the matter so they did the democratic thing and handed the decision to the people. 

He also says that "no" voters were motivated by a feeling that homosexuals are inferior. That may have been true in a few cases but he is totally ignoring that the case for the "No" vote was almost entirely put by Christian organizations.  Nobody could be in any doubt that homosexuality is condemned in the Bible and there are still many people who respect Bible teachings as at least wise.  I do myself, despite being an atheist.  The "No" vote was almost certainly a vote in favour of Christian teachings in most cases.

So he ignores both the virtue of democracy and the teachings of Christianity.  No wonder he is bitter and twisted and full of vindictiveness.  Ignoring reality is never wise.

What about the "hurt" that homosexuals have experienced when they heard their practices condemned?  They can only have felt that if they were previously unaware that people disapproved of them.  Being hauled into an awareness of reality must be regarded as a generally good thing. Political correctness normally inhibits people from speaking negatively of homosexuality so this was an occasion where the truth could come out.  Surely that must be on balance a good thing

FEW things have united the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ voters in the divisive, drawn-out campaign for same-sex marriage.

Mathias Cormann’s suggestion back in August that the postal ballot would be a “unifying moment” for the country now seems utterly laughable.

But if one thing unifies, it’s surely the relief that this postal ballot plebiscite finally ends today. People in both camps have felt injured or insulted over these six long weeks. Many of the public feel fatigued. They just want it to be over.

Make no mistake: this is what anti-equality MPs wanted. The optional, non-binding, expensive, unnecessary postal vote was a delaying tactic to prohibit or at least postpone marriage equality — and certainly to exhaust existing public appetite for it.

Turnbull’s continued insistence that this has been a “respectful debate” isn’t just a lie — it’s offensively ignorant. Trains were defaced with ‘Vote no to fags.’ Two lesbians in Redfern woke up in October to discover that dog excrement had been thrown on their doorstep. Graffiti instructed people to ‘Bash a gay today’. Respectful? This is incitement to homophobic violence.

A ‘No’ voter was sacked from her job for being public about how she’d vote. At Sydney University, food was thrown and threats made to “stomp on the face” of ‘No’ voters, which resulted in the police being called.

This is what happens when you put people’s human rights, basic dignity and simple equality up for debate. People get passionate. It gets ugly. And it was always going to.

Of course, passion makes the headlines. Many, myself included, tried to have the polite, respectful debate Turnbull wanted. I volunteered for the ‘Yes’ campaign, making calls to voters and asking if they’ll, pretty please, consider treating me equally. It was a demeaning exercise — but one I did on behalf of the anxious, upcoming generation of LGBTQI people who deserve to share in the happily-ever-after optimism that every young person does.

A typical response to asking a caller if they’d consider voting ‘Yes’ was offered by one particularly aggravated woman: “I don’t actually think that’s any of your fucking business, do you?”

What I wanted to say was: “Neither is the validity of my relationship with my boyfriend actually any of your fucking business, but you’ve still been invited to have your say on its legitimacy, haven’t you?”

What I actually said was: “No worries madam, sorry for interrupting your evening!” It’s a conversation, through gritted teeth, I had dozens, possibly hundreds of times.

But where did that politeness get me? Even if we win the postal ballot, we lose. A Sky News ReachTEL poll found 64 per cent voted ‘Yes’. But if that’s the case, I still find it devastating to know that over a third of the country have been encouraged to post a letter saying they don’t want to treat me equally.

That 36 per cent have been influenced by a ‘No’ campaign to solidify their gut feeling that I’m inferior to them. They could be my future employers. They could be people whose livelihoods I help fund by buying goods or services from them. And that makes me very uncomfortable.

Something unforgivable has occurred here. MPs were widely warned a plebiscite would unleash a Pandora’s box of harm. Gay people warned it’d give licence to homophobia and further ostracism. We pleaded with MPs to think of the suicide risk to vulnerable young LGBTQI people. Rainbow families travelled to Canberra to warn of the harm this’d do to their young kids. Bill Shorten listened, and reversed his initial support for the plebiscite.

Not only did Coalition MPs ignore and dismiss these warnings, they fought them at the High Court — and won. Look what happened. As Tanya Plibersek said on last night’s Q & A, gay people were distraught to discover members of their own family would be voting ‘No’.

I’ve seen gay people asking anyone on Facebook voting ‘No’ to de-friend them: from cousins and acquaintances to those they thought were their friends. Employers have been encouraged to turn against their staff for voting a different way. I’ve even seen divisions within the gay community itself emerge as a debate rages about how much tolerance or acceptance we should offer those who don’t want us to have equality.

With all this grimly predictable polarisation, I can think of one unifying moment for the LGBTQI community. It’s a reclaiming of power too often denied us, and one of the greatest powers of all: the withholding of forgiveness.

If gay people are angry that they’ve been pitted against each other and against their friends, family and colleagues, they have the power to punish at the ballot box — not just at the next election, but for a lifetime.

I’m hoping it galvanises LGBTQI people not just to vote for any other party than the LNP, but to join one, and campaign for one.

Why should we trust or forgive MPs who’ve ignored us, dismissed our legitimate concerns, made us beg for equality?

The real unifying moment is that the gay community now knows who has our backs. If you’re gay, and now consider voting LNP in your lifetime, shame on you.


Pauline Hanson criticizes high taxes on alcohol and declares her trip to India 'opened up her eyes to stopping further immigration'

Pauline Hanson likened Australia's alcohol taxes to rape after she landed back in Brisbane from India.

During a stopover in Singapore, the One Nation leader used a rather controversial comparison to slam the difference between duty-free prices and what Australians pay after tax for beer and spirits.

'I'm just in transit at Singapore looking forward to being home,' she told her 214,000 followers on Sunday. 'Anyone want some duty free?

'It's times like this you realise how much money the government are reaping (or raping, depending on which way you look at it) from Aussie consumers on alcohol.'

While travellers are able to bring in up to 2.25 litres of alcohol into Australia duty free, pure alcohol is taxed at more than $34 a litre if full-strength beer is sold in a 48-litre keg.

Beer sold in small containers, such as bottles, attracts excise of close to $49 a litre.

However, Senator Hanson didn't mention Australia's excise during a media conference at Brisbane airport on Sunday with her supporters.

Instead, she used her parliamentary study trip to India, which is home to 1.3 billion people, to hammer her message about the need for Australia to cut back its annual immigration intake.

'It was a fantastic trip going to India but just to open up my eyes and why we have to stop further immigration in this country until we get our construction and everything right,' she said.

She was greeted by One Nation's only MP in the Queensland parliament Steve Dickson, a defector and former minister from the Liberal National Party.

Her arrival came a day after a Galaxy poll showed her party's support had risen from 15 per cent to 18 per cent during the past three months.

Backing for the major parties had fallen since the January 2015 election, with the LNP dipping to 32 per cent and Labor down to 35 per cent.


Google Not Feeling So Lucky Over Australian Defamation Case

A recent decision in the Supreme Court of South Australia is a warning shot across the bow of publishers of online content. Hannah Marshall and Daisy Von Schoenberg from Marque Lawyers explain.

The latest defamation case about Google’s search engine results has just come out. It’s a warning to search engines and online publishers generally, and a nod to defamation litigants everywhere to pursue them.

It all started when Dr Janice Duffy, a medical researcher, consulted some online psychics about her love life. After the psychics’ predictions didn’t eventuate (shock!) Dr Duffy posted negative reviews about the psychics on a website called the Ripoff Report (who’d have thought psychics might be a rip-off?).

The psychics responded with posts labelling Duffy a “psychic stalker”.

Because of this, a Google search of her name started returning results with extracts of the articles calling her a psychic stalker, and its autocomplete function offered the words psychic stalker after her name.

Dr Duffy asked Google to remove all that. Google refused. Litigation ensued.

This latest judgment was Google’s appeal of the original judgment, in which it lost and Dr Duffy won $115,000 in damages.

You might think that a payment of $115,000 would be immaterial to a multinational tech company like Google, but the broader implications for its business and other online intermediaries were huuugggeee.

The legal question was whether Google was a publisher of the search engine results in a way that makes it liable for defamation. Here’s the short version of the appeal court’s answer.

Google said it was not a publisher of the defamatory results because its algorithms automatically produce results at the request of users, performing over 100 billion searches every month.

The court accepted this, and found that Google was not liable for the results prior to it being made aware that they were defamatory. However, the court also said that once Dr Duffy notified Google of the defamatory material, its failure to remove the results amounted to further publications of the defamatory material.

This largely reaffirms the position of secondary publishers like search engines, or hosts of user generated content like chat rooms, Facebook page operators, or any news or other sites with user comments.

Once you know, or should reasonably know, that material is defamatory, then you can be liable for publishing it.

What happens now? Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a High Court appeal by Google. Our bet is that the mega search engine is not going to roll over on this decision lightly.

In the meantime, if we were Google we’d be reviewing our complaints handling procedures very carefully.


Universities offering new and specialist courses to combat crowded job market

SPECIALISATION may be the key to unlocking a career in an increasingly crowded job market.

Year 12 exams began this week and in between studying many students will be thinking about their next life-shaping level of tertiary education.

Prospective students have until January 4 to apply for main round university offers and experts advise they spend some of that time considering niche or emerging fields where demand outstrips supply.

Recognising some of these shortfalls, Perth universities have responded with a range of lesser-known courses that did not exist five years ago.

Edith Cowan University student Sharon Cooke is halfway through completing a Masters in Infant Mental Health, a course ECU has only offered since 2016.

“It is a funny name, but what they are trying to capture is really the relationship between the caregiver and the infant,” Mrs Cooke said. “In the first few years of life it’s vital the child feels safe, loved and understood, which acts like a vaccination protecting them from future adversities.”

Tired of working in an IT helpdesk role with limited prospects for career advancement, Enzo Zito enrolled in a Bachelor of Science specialising in cyber forensics and information security at Murdoch University.

With practically every aspect of modern-day life intrinsically linked to the internet, Mr Zito said there was growing demand for cyber security professionals both in Australia and around the world.

“It would be an exciting and rewarding opportunity to be able to work with companies to safely expose vulnerabilities and subsequently secure their networks,” he said.

Like many West Australians, Edward Swinhoe landed a job in the booming resources sector straight after high school.

When his work as a field ecologist dried up after the mining downturn, he turned to university and is now close to completing a Masters in Biosecurity at Murdoch.

“As an environmental consultant with experience in chemical capture and vertebrate pest management I’m finding myself inundated with work from property developers, primary producers and wildlife groups,” Mr Swinhoe said.

“I’m happy to say I think I picked a winner with this course.”

Aeromedical evacuation, data science, food security and electrical engineering degrees with a focus on renewables such as wind, solar and hydro are among the other courses established in the past couple of years.

ECU senior deputy Vice-Chancellor Arshad Omari said it was challenging for universities to predict future job markets and that it took a minimum of 18 months to develop a new course.

“In deciding to launch a new course, we look at social trends, changes in the workplace and we also engage with industry,” Professor Omari said.

Adzuna chief executive Raife Watson advised prospective students to look at fields with in-demand niches where they could stand out.

“Health is a good example because it is such a wide and growing area with dozens of sub-specialities,’’ he said.

“Demand for anything age-care related, in particular, is exploding.”

Hays Australia and New Zealand managing director Nick Deligiannis said “soft skills,” such as relationship building and critical and creative thinking, were also highly sought after


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

8 November, 2017

Are opponents of Melbourne Cup fun-hating whingers or worried animal activists with a point?

Protesters ran on to the straight, hung a banner from a crane and were arrested for parking a car on the train track

A STAR horse is “not well” after a sickening fall on Melbourne Cup day, which has again raised concerns about whether racing is cruel.

Hong Kong jockey Joao Moreira looks to have escaped serious injury after crashing heavily in race 4 but Regal Monarch, who he was riding, has been rushed to a vet clinic.

While the nation stops to watch the Cup today at tracks, pubs and offices, there will be a much smaller group turning their backs.

It’s a group has been expressing its animal welfare concerns for years now but a look at social media chatter indicates an anecdotal increase in the volume of criticism this time around.

Twitter tracking service Keyhole found of Twitter mentions of the Melbourne Cup today, 13.6 per cent were negative in nature, 58 per cent neutral and 28.4 per cent positive.

Anti-racing activists claim the much-loved tradition of horse racing is cruel, unethical and dangerous.

Is this just another case of oversensitive types trying to ruin the fun for everyone ... or do they have a point?

It all depends who you ask, and even then, the answer is far from a simple one.

Critics of horse racing say the animals are overworked, poorly cared for and bred only to make their owners millions of dollars, while advocates of the industry say the opposite is true.

In 2014, the normal festivities of the Melbourne Cup were overshadowed when favourite Admire Rakti collapsed and died just after the race. Then Araldo was euthanised after becoming spooked by a flag-waving spectator and fracturing a leg.

Those two deaths briefly raised questions about the welfare of the animals in the billion-dollar racing industry.

With another 15,000 thoroughbred foals bred each year, and 31,000 race horses are in training across Australia at any given time, the scale of the industry is huge.

Are the regulations adequate? Do all the rules outweigh the inherent cruelty of breeding an animal for entertainment?  Do the horses even enjoy themselves?

Owners spend an average of $35,000 annually on training alone for a racehorse. Then there’s stabling and other care fees.

For this huge cost, surely they’re among the best cared-for creatures in the country?

They are, the racing industry says — but for the benefit of making money, opponents insist. And what’s good for gambling isn’t always good for the animal.

Tom Heenan teaches sport studies at Monash University and wrote in a piece for New Daily that a racehorse’s diet is dangerous.

“They’re fed high-grain diets and placed under undue stress, causing stomach ulcers,” Heenan said. “Overseas studies have shown around 80 per cent of horses suffer from such ulcers. Many also suffer from internal bleeding caused by overexertion.”

Animals Australia claims horses are individually stabled while in training. That, coupled with their high-performance training and diet, means they lack social and environmental stimulation.

“Horses can develop stereotypical behaviours, such as crib-biting ... and self-mutilation may occur,” the group claimed. “These behaviours are a strong indicator of welfare problems for horses.”

Racing Australia boss Peter McGauran strongly denies the industry isn’t taking care of horses. “The claim that racing authorities are inactive on welfare issues is not supported by the facts,” McGauran said.

“We are acutely aware of our responsibilities to meet community animal welfare expectations and purposely enforce the rules of racing to this end.”

Racing is among the most regulated and accountable industries and sports in the country, he said.

Peter Moody was the trainer of famed mare Black Caviar and told the website New Daily that anyone who knows their horse can tell if it’s enjoying what it does.

“I’ve had some of the crankiest buggers in the world bite, strike and kick you, but (they) love getting out there on the track and racing,” Moody said.

“It comes down to the horsemanship of the people working with the individual animal who can sense whether they want and can love racing.”

The concern held by racing opponents is a horse’s skeletal frame isn’t matured when they begin training. It’s a claim rejected by the industry, which says horses only begin work when it’s safe to do so.


Year 2s shown pictures of genitals, Year 3s studying the clitoris and Year 4s taught about being gay: Parents outraged at 'X-rated' sex education lessons

Parents are outraged after learning students in grade 2 are shown pictures of genitals, grade 3 the clitoris, and grade 4 being taught about gay couples in school.

Sex education in Victoria's primary schools came under fire from Opposition education spokesman Tim Smith this week, who said he was approached by parents and family groups about the appropriateness of the classes.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia on Monday, Mr Smith said some of the concepts and images shown to children, as young as seven, 'belong in an X-rated movie'.

'Sex education is vital but there are certain aspects of the program that are age inappropriate, totally over-the-top graphic and just unnecessary,' he said.

'Some of this stuff belongs in an X-rated movie, and for seven and eight-year-olds to be exposed to this material is totally inappropriate. Just let kids be kids.

'You have to let parents decide when to have those conversations with children, when they're ready and in the manner they feel appropriate.' 

Mr Smith said the 'hyper-sexual' material was the difference between sex education and 'sexuality education'.

One father said his daughter who was in grade 2 at a Victorian primary school grew uncomfortable around her male classmates after she was shown drawings of genitalia in class.

'She didn't want to go swimming because the boys had their tops off. We never had a problem before and then all of a sudden she did,' he told the Herald Sun.

The sex education program divided different associations.

The conservative Australian Family Association called for a review of the program, with President Terri Kelleher branding the images used 'very explicit, very graphic', and 'not appropriate'.

Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy disagreed. She said the program was 'normal and healthy' and students were otherwise exposed to much more explicit materials outside of the classroom.

'There is no shame in any of this teaching material. To ­suggest otherwise is wicked and potentially detrimental to students' health and well-being,' she told the Herald Sun.

Education Minister James Merlino also defended the program, which was introduced in 2011 under the Liberal government.

Mr Merlino questioned Mr Smith for his opposition, saying it appeared he was more interested in overhauling the sex education program than he was in the school system itself. 


Malcolm Turnbull attacks Greens over refugees

Malcolm Turnbull has savaged refugee activists, including Greens senator Nick McKim, for encouraging asylum seekers to stay in a detention centre on Manus Island despite a court order demanding its closure.

The Prime Minister also defended his decision to reject an offer from the Ardern government to settle the refugees, saying people smugglers view New Zealand as “effectively part of Australia” while saying the Kiwis would be flooded with illegal boat arrivals if it wasn’t for the Coalition’s tough border protection policies.

Mr Turnbull said the 600 men who were refusing to leave the regional processing centre on Manus Island had access to “high quality” alternative facilities and they should move.

“The reality is, and this is the very sad reality of the case, is that there are some activists in Australia, including the Greens senator Nick McKim, who are basically encouraging these people not to move,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

“It was a decision by the PNG Supreme Court that the detention centre should close and many people were calling for it to close.

“I think that the responsible course of action is to encourage them to comply with the lawful requests and requirements of the PNG authorities.”

Mr Turnbull said allowing the refugees to go to New Zealand would be marketed by people smugglers and the Left as a “backdoor entry” to Australia.

“Everything that the Greens and people on the left of the Labor Party say about this is used as marketing by the people smugglers,” Mr Turnbull said.

“They are the worst criminals and they are saying to these people: ‘don’t budge, get lots of pictures on the Australian news’.

“They will say it is getting a big run in the Australian media and before too long the Australian government will weaken and allow you to come to Australia and that will then be the marketing opportunity for the people smugglers.”

He took a thinly veiled swipe at New Zealand, reminding the smaller nation it only accepted 1000 refugees last year compared to Australia’s 20,000.

“As we know from our own intelligence, New Zealand is seeing as effectively part of Australia by the people smugglers,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We have intercepted and turned back boats which were heading to New Zealand, the only reason NZ does not have thousands people arriving in an unauthorised way on their shores is because of our border protection policies. “New Zealand is a prime beneficiary from our strong border protection policies.”

Senator McKim denied he had encouraged men to stay at the Manus Island detention centre.

But he acknowledges he “supported” their decision to stay at the centre which the PNG courts ruled should close.

“Despite years of torture at his government’s hands, these men still have free agency,” Senator McKim said. “They have made their own decisions, and I and many others have simply supported them in the choices they have made.

“I will keep doing so, because it is their lives which are at risk. It would not be right for me, Mr Turnbull or anyone else to make their decisions for them.”


PNG Court Rejects Bid To Restore Water And Power To Detention Centre

The refugees have been given refuge in New Guinea and are no longer under detention.  But that is not what they want.  They want a higher standard of living and think they can coerce the Australian government into providing it

Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has rejected a bid by 600 starving refugees and asylum seekers living in Australia's mothballed detention centre on Manus Island to have water and electricity restored to the facility.

The men -- refugees and asylum seekers -- have been barricaded inside the centre for a week and say they are safer inside the shut-down centre than in new, but unsecured, accomodation closer to the Manus capital of Lorengau.

Lawyers for the refugees are expected to appeal the decision as early as Wednesday.

Public and international condemnation has mounted since the centre was closed last week, months after it was declared unconstitutional by PNG's Supreme Court.

Lacking medication, sickness and medical emergencies have spread inside the centre.

"We are heading for many deaths in the coming days and weeks unless urgent action is taken by Australia, Medical advocacy group Doctors 4 Refugees wrote in a letter to Australian MPs on Monday night.

"Action to alleviate these men's situation needs to be taken today to prevent deaths. As a start, they need food and water today."

Some of the men have made appeals to world leaders, with more than 280 refugees reportedly signing a letter pleading to U.S. President Donald Trump, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacind Ardern and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for their help.

PNG Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas has urged the men to leave, and has said it isn't just a case of reconnecting the water or electricity.

"The Government takes its obligations towards the treatment and care of all persons transferred to PNG very seriously," he told the Port Moresby based Post Courier.

"It is not incumbent on PNG to deliver services and this remains the responsibility of the service providers but at the new locations where the residents have to move to."

Amnesty international has warned that over the past 10 days refugees reported three medical emergencies.

"In one case, a refugee who has epilepsy, had a fit and was unconscious for several hours," Amnesty said.

"Refugees called to guards to provide medical assistance but there was no response. In another incident, a refugee self-harmed and, while physically stable, he remained in a fragile mental state, supported only by his friends."

The men inside have dug wells for water and sleep under the stars to keep at bay the muggy and oppressive Manus heat.

The water they draw from the well -- using a small plastic bucket and thin rope -- is dirty.

One man who accepted the offer to relocate to a new facility returned to Lombrum on Thursday, having walked three hours back on foot, saying he "could not stay in that place".


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

7 November, 2017

Tackling the gender STEM skills gap in Australia

WHY should it be tackled?  What is wrong with having different proportions of men and women in different occupqations?  Men are more likely to be good at maths so there will always be more of them in maths-heavy jobs

According to a recent report by Australia’s Chief Scientist, women comprise just 16 per cent of the total STEM workforce. Much has been written about the lack of women in science, technology, engineering and maths related roles, but why is this important? Well, it’s estimated that 75 per cent of jobs in the future will require STEM skills. If young girls aren’t taught those skills, then they’re automatically being sidelined for jobs in the future.

In the IT sector, where I’ve worked for the past 20 years, Australia has created 40,000 ICT jobs in Australia in the last two years and more broadly Australia’s Digital Pulse report says tech-intensive jobs outside the ICT industry are expected to grow at a rate of 2 per cent a year up to 2022, more than a third faster that the rate of general jobs growth. That’s another 236,700 jobs on top of an additional 81,000 ICT roles forecast for the next six years.

Of course, some great initiatives have sprung in recent years aimed at boosting female engagement in STEM education, and breaking through gender stereotypes, such as Code Like A Girl and Women in STEMM Australia, but what should companies be doing now to not only keep the few women in STEM related roles we have but encourage more to learn STEM related skills and potentially switch to STEM related roles today?

Companies need to invest in training

In 2017, It’s unrealistic to expect people to have all the skills required for one role. Instead of talking about a ‘skills crisis’, companies need to invest in training. It’s no use blaming the government for recent changes to 457 visas or looking to hire from overseas. Take a good look at the women you have in your organisation and think about how to you use them in STEM related roles. How are you cultivating your female workforce to undertake STEM roles within your organisation? What training do they need to do those roles? Would they be interested in taking on a different role to the one they have?

Then find a good partner who can deliver that training, in small, bite-sized chunks, whether via book or mobile phone and make it easily accessible anytime, anywhere.

Communicate the diversity of roles available and career opportunities

In the tech industry, we’re pretty bad at communicating the range of roles available. Just because you work in the IT sector, anyone will tell you, it doesn’t mean you have to code. There are so many important roles running IT companies, the variety really is huge and it’s not just tech companies that need tech talent. Today, in 2017, every company really is a tech company in some way, large banks, universities, private health companies — nearly every organisation uses technology to run their business and is therefore looking for people with digital skills.

Offer flexible working

Really offer flexible working and don’t just pay lip service to it. Without flexibility, it makes it extremely difficult to manage a successful career and family. Men need to be enabled and encouraged to work flexibly and take up more responsibility at home, so women can progress in the workplace.

One organisation that is helping promote this is Diverse City Careers. They conducted their own research earlier this year with 500 women working with large and small Australian businesses, government and not-for-profit organisations. The top two priorities of the women surveyed were: gender neutral parental leave policy and flexible work arrangements. Both feed into each other and deeply affect the career progression of each gender. Currently in Australia, less than 50 per cent of the non-public sector offers flexible working options.

Hire and promote more women

It sounds simple, but it just needs to happen. There is much discussion around quotas, but “you can’t be what you can’t see” and women need role models. Senior leaders need to be accountable to put more women into STEM based roles.

Women tend to not apply for roles when there are a couple of elements they haven’t got experience in, but a man will often apply for a role if there are only a couple of areas he’s confident he can deliver. Organisations need to develop programs to help promote and support women. At Skillsoft for example we’re very proud of our Women in Action™ leadership program, the industry’s first learning program specifically designed to help women across the workforce build specific competencies and immediately apply newly acquired skills.

In summary, Australia is making progress when it comes to teaching and inspiring young girls to learn STEM skills, but as an industry, we’ve got to do more. It’s down to us, as employers in STEM, to not only stop women leaving science, technology, engineering and maths related roles, but to hire more. Much much more. And to invest in training these women, to give them the skills they need to do the jobs of the future, to fuel Australia’s economy.


Some NSW Lawyers don't like the police keeping an eye on known crooks

Because a lot of them are young blacks

Australian human rights lawyers are scathing of a NSW policing program found to be disproportionately targeting young people as young as 10 along with Aboriginal youth.

A report prepared by the Youth Justice Coalition uncovered half of the total targets of a NSW Police's Suspect Target Management Program were under 25 while 44 per cent were indigenous.

The report claims the program allows police to place people, including minors and those never found guilty of an offence, on a list alongside known offenders all of whom are then targeted for intensive policing in a bid to deter future criminal activity.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights says the program punishes people based on the assumption they may one day commit a crime.
"Once placed on this list a person is subjected to intensive policing practices such as being repeatedly stopped on the street and searched and having police officers regularly visit their home to request that they present," ALHR vice president Kerry Weste said in a statement on Monday.

"Intensively policing people who have never been convicted of any offence based on secretive algorithms is inconsistent with fundamental human rights and rule of law principles such as the presumption of innocence."

ALHR also criticised the program's lack of transparency and governing legislation to hold it accountable.

"Moreover, persons subjected to the program are prevented from accessing the reasons for their inclusion or information as to how they can ever be removed from it," Ms Weste said.
The group has called on the NSW government to find a more "responsible alternative".

However a spokeswoman for NSW Police says the program is targeted at recidivist criminal offenders to prevent them from committing crimes.

"A thorough risk management framework is used to ensure the NSW Police Force is targeting the right people at the right times to reduce violence and crime in the community," NSW Police said in a statement on Monday.

"While deliberately engaged by police, STMP nominees are treated with respect and tolerance, but they are reminded that the community will not tolerate criminal behaviour."


Greenie scientists want West Australia iron ore mine banned

Some big rocks need saving?

Fifty scientists and academics have signed a letter urging the West Australian government to block an iron ore mine expansion that would affect the Helena Aurora Range.

The range and its distinct red rocks that were formed billions of years ago is a refuge for threatened flora and fauna, including two declared rare native flowering plants found nowhere else on earth, according to the letter.

The fact the Environmental Protection Authority had rejected miner Mineral Resources' proposal in June should send a clear message that the range's "natural and cultural values ... should be preserved in perpetuity and for all to enjoy", the letter said.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson received a report last Friday by WA's Appeals Convenor, who considers appeals to EPA decisions.

But it would be a whole of government decision, a spokeswoman said.

The 50 scientists and academics called on Premier Mark McGowan and Mr Dawson to adopt EPA duty chair Robert Harvey's recommendation to protect it and the letter calls for the area to be made a "class A" national park.

The Helena and Aurora Range Science Declaration was released on Monday by Emeritus Professor John Bailey, a past member of the EPA and chair of the Conservation Commission of WA.

He said the Helena Aurora Range was the most significant intact banded ironstone formation range left in the Yilgarn region, 500km northeast of Perth.

"These ranges are remnants of a landscape dating back over 2.6 billion years, meaning that they are among the most ancient landforms on Earth," the letter says.

Former premier Carmen Lawrence says the area is an incredible landscape.  "I think as a community we're only just starting to really appreciate how unique and rare places like this are," she said.

Yilgarn Iron Ore Producers Association chief David Utting rejected claims the range was unique.

"It is not a unique area. There are also not endangered species of animals and plants there that stand to be wiped out," he told ABC radio.

The previous WA Liberal National government intervened in support of Mineral Resources and ordered a review after the EPA rejected the project in 2014.


New NSW housing tied up in red tape

The NSW housing minister insists the state is experiencing record high home approvals despite claims red tape is preventing developers from building hundreds of thousands of new homes on land in Sydney.

Research from the Property Council of Australia shows only 30,000 homes were completed in the year to June 30, 2016, even though there was enough land released to provide more than 160,500 new dwellings.

Property Council NSW executive director Jane Fitzgerald blamed the five-stage process between when land is released for development and when a home is finally delivered.

"The five-stage process is like a sieve with homes leaking from the process at multiple points severely restricting the supply of housing - Sydney needs these homes and there needs to be serious effort to plug the holes our analysis has found," Ms Fitzgerald said in a statement on Monday.

"It is shocking to see how many potential new homes are being lost."

NSW Housing Minister Anthony Roberts knocked back the claims, insisting the number of new homes being delivered in greater Sydney remains at a record high.

"For 45 consecutive months NSW has experienced record housing approvals which far exceeds the premier's priority target of 50,000 approvals per year," Mr Roberts told AAP on Monday.

NSW also leads the nation in housing approvals, with nearly 69,000 new homes approved in the past 12 months, Mr Roberts said.

He insists there will always be a lag between when land is released and when dwellings are completed.

"Not all approvals lead to completions and our zonings are focused on creating great new communities with open space, community facilities and proximity to key transport," he said.

There's no suggestion the property market will slow down, with the government forecasting 184,300 new homes will be completed across Sydney in the next five years which is enough to meet market demand, Mr Roberts said.


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

6 November, 2017

What I learned as a guest house proprietor

I learned about poverty.  The house had 22 single rooms and was located in a lower socio-economic area.  The inhabitants were all poor. But they weren't "down on their luck".  They made their luck.  They were generally pleasant people to talk to and were quite prone to conservative views on social issues.  None of them had any time for "poofters" (homosexuals), for instance.  They were however much prone to larceny. They stole from one another with considerable regularity. I got on quite well with them in general. I would not have been able to run the place otherwise.  My own working class background undoubtedly helped.  I could use their own language and idioms in talking to them.

But because I got on well with them, I got to know a fair bit about them.  None of them had a job so lived on welfare payments. And by the time the next payment came around there was nothing left of the previous payment.  Their pockets were empty.  They didn't save a cent.  There was just one exception, a very black TI man (a Melanesian) by the name of Apu.  As he handed me his rent one day he remarked that he had got into a fight last night and lost his money.  He then went on to say: "So I went to the bank and got some out".

So why was it only a black man who was able to save? Christianity is strong on TI so I guess Apu learnt some good habits from that. There was no religion among my white tenants.

So it was amusing to see what happened on "payday".  A steady stream of "goon" (sweet white wine,  mostly "Fruity Lexia") in cardboard boxes would arrive.  I don't begrudge them that but it is part of where their money went.  Goon gives you the biggest hit for your buck but even goon is not cheap.

And the other money habit I observed was that my tenants were hopeless shoppers.  They would buy rubbish food -- like bags of potato crisps -- and buy it off a nearby service station where prices were generally at least a third higher than at a  supermarket,  And there was a good supermaket only about 10 minutes walk away.  Had they made a point of price-conscious shopping they would have had substantial money left over by the end of the week.

So they made their own poverty.

There are of course some people whom the Victorians called "the deserving poor" -- people who are poor due to some sort of misadventure rather than due to fecklessness -- but I saw none of those.  I have to conclude that they are a small minority of the poor -- albeit a minority who do deserve compassion and help.

So what policy lessons do I draw from what I saw?  For a start, most of the ones I saw would be only marginally employable.  Their skills, habits and attitudes were not really consistent with a job. Training would probably lift some of them into employability but whether they would actually  take a job would be an issue.  Some of them were clearly quite happy to live fancy-free on welfare payments.

The only way I see forward is something the Australian Federal government is already trying in some localities -- giving welfare payments in the form of a debit card that can be used only to buy essentials but not such things as alcohol and tobacco products: similar to the American SNAP system ("food stamps").  But we know that such a system has its limits.  The card holder buys goods that SOMEONE ELSE wants and exchanges those goods for money.  But such a system should in some cases make the getting of a job more attractive

The Victorian attitude of DISAPPROVAL of poverty would probably also help but any return of that is most unlikely. Society has come to accept its parasites -- JR

Pro and anti marriage equality campaigners clash outside Sydney University

"Yes" voters vilify Christians to the bitter end

With only two days left to return the same-sex marriage postal survey, the campaign ended the way it began — with rainbow fascists silencing dissent and demonising Christians.

The latest display of “tolerance” comes from The Rose Hotel in Chippendale, which has banned a group of young Christians from holding their monthly meeting in the pub’s beer garden because patrons complained that gay marriage was being discussed.

A Theology on Tap meeting, titled Listening as a Form of Love, was cancelled after organiser Natalie Ambrose received an email on from The Rose Hotel licensee George Kanellos.

“I’m terribly sorry to inform you that we can no longer let you host your event with us in the beer garden,” the email said.

“We’ve experienced some backlash from customers, and within these complaints they have threatened not to return if these events continue… I was told by staff yesterday that worked the previous event that 4 different groups of people got up and left and, out of the two groups, we were told that they might not ever come back.

“It was about the debate of marriage equality that had frustrated these groups and our locals.”

Kanellos refused to comment when contacted, but confirmed he had cancelled the Theology on Tap booking on the first Monday of every month, which attracts 200 to 300 people.

The event which so antagonised Rose Hotel patrons was a talk last month by American nun Sister Mary Patrice Ahearn titled, ironically enough, Resilient Faith: How to Survive When Under Attack.

The talk, organised by the University of Notre Dame’s Catholic chaplaincy, was not about gay marriage, but how to cope with being attacked for your faith.

Sister Patrice quoted the Gospels: “If the world hates you know that it has hated me before it hated you.” She mentioned gay marriage as one issue, along with euthanasia, for which Christians would be persecuted.

“Most of us are feeling… tension, conflict, disruption in relationships, because of these issues,” she said.

She urged her audience to find “common ground between the two sides… I’m sure most of us in this room know or love someone who’s gay. Persons with same-sex attraction desire love, friendship and intimacy as much as you or I do.”

In other words, she could not have been more loving or charitable.

But for the “tyrants of tolerance”, anything a nun says has to be hate speech, and discrimination against Christians is the highest sign of virtue.

It’s part of what former High Court justice Dyson Heydon describes as “the new de-Christianisation campaign… the tyrants of tolerance pay lip service, but only lip service, to freedom of ­religion as a fundamental human right,” he said in a speech last month.

“Modern elites do not desire tolerance. They demand uncondi­tional surrender”. There’s no way an LGBTIQ group would be treated so shabbily as Theology on Tap, not least because sexual orientation and every other permutation of human diversity — except religious belief — is protected under anti-­discrimination laws.

Freedom not to serve people with whom you disagree only cuts one way. It is perfectly lawful for a pub to hang a “No Christians” sign in its window, which effectively is what The Rose Hotel has done.

Vilifying Christians has been a hallmark of the same-sex marriage campaign.

Rainbow bullies have physically attacked No volunteers, spat on them, stolen their placards, vandalised their churches, racially vilified them, blockaded their meetings. They abused Catholic students at Sydney University as “homophobes”, “bigots”, “neo-Nazis” and “gay-bashers”. “Go wank yourself off at home with your f ... ing Jesus picture”, they screamed, on video.

They graffitied “Crucify No voters” on church walls, and stormed a Coalition for Marriage launch, chanting “crucify Christians”, and brandished a banner reading: “Burn Churches not Queers”.

The frightening intolerance of the rainbow fascists has been on display for everyone to see during the plebiscite process.

But disappointingly few high-­profile people stood up to defend traditional marriage — not one member of Cabinet, few religious leaders, no business leaders or sports bodies, almost no one in the media — even those regarded as conservatives.

So cowed is the business community that it is refusing to be associated with the Catholic Church.

One bank, which previously had donated to an archdiocesean annual appeal, this year grudgingly agreed to donate a smaller amount but on the condition its name was kept secret.

Any wonder that “No” voters have kept their opinions to themselves, and that published polls are wildly out of kilter with the reality that No campaigners have found on the ground?

No voters “feel like dissidents in their own country”, as the ACL’s Lyle Shelton puts it.

For all the criticism, with voter turnout at 80 per cent the process has been a success, and most importantly has galvanised a new generation of social conservatives, as Tony Abbott said last week.

Shelton says they are part of a “dissident movement against the elites and the celebrities and the media”.

“Win or lose, they’re determined to keep fighting for freedom.”

If the Yes vote gets up, religious freedom will be the battleground.


Queensland conservatives to block Leftist moves to veto coal mine loan

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wants to veto the federal NAIF loan to the Adani project.

As the government is in caretaker mode, she would need Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls' support to veto the NAIF loan.

The Queensland election will be held on November 25.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls has accused the Premier of putting thousands of jobs at risk by attempting to veto a federal loan to the Adani Carmichael mine.

Late on Friday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called a snap media conference to accuse the LNP in Canberra of a "smear" campaign against her and her partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers infrastructure advisory director Shaun Drabsch.

PwC acted for Adani on its application to the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility for an almost $1 billion concessional loan for its rail link, and her partner was part of the PwC team.

Ms Palaszczuk accused federal LNP senators of circulating rumours of a "conflict of interest" and said she would exercise the Queensland government's veto of the NAIF loan to remove doubt of any perception of a conflict of interest.

But she said she still supported the Adani project and its jobs.

With the government in caretaker mode after the election was called on Sunday, Mr Nicholls would need to support her veto decision of the NAIF loan for it to take effect.

Mr Nicholls said he knew nothing about the rumours the Premier mentioned. "I heard about them through the media just like thousands of other Queenslanders," he said.

Mr Nicholls questioned why the Premier was changing her mind if all the necessary conflict of interest measures were above board. "Given the NAIF loans are an independent federal process and state governments have a constitutional role to pass through the loan, what's the problem?" he said. "The Premier should honour her word and pass through the Adani loan if the independent NAIF makes such a decision."

It was understood the move would not necessarily stop a NAIF loan to the Adani mine, as it could be granted via a different process, but it would remove the Queensland government's involvement.

But federal Resources Minister Senator Matt Canavan claimed it was incorrect to suggest the federal government could fund a NAIF project without the cooperation of the state government.

"Under the rules, a state must sign the NAIF project finance project with the project proponent and have a role in management of the loan," Senator Canavan said.

Section 13(1) of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility mandate direction compels the NAIF Board to commence discussions with the relevant state as soon as possible on receiving an application, and states have a significant role, particularly in the investment decision and executive stage.

The NAIF board will only approve projects where there are no objections by the state or territory.

A letter dated June 16, 2016 from PwC managing partner Paul Lindstrom confirmed Mr Drabsch would "not be involved in any engagements with the Queensland government, its agencies or personnel on behalf of PwC".

A July 17, 2015 letter from Queensland Integrity Commissioner Richard Bingham "agreed no conflict is likely to arise".

Friday's announcement was met with approval from conservation groups opposed to the Adani mine. The Australian Marine Conservation Society's Imogen Zethoven said Ms Palaszczuk's decision showed she had recognised the concern felt by people about the Adani coal project.

Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive officer Kelly O'Shanassy said it was vitally important Mr Nicholls committed to also veto the loan. "This is a great moment for Australians that support clean air, clean water and a safe climate," she said.

From the moment she went to visit the acting governor, Ms Palaszczuk has been haunted by anti-Adani protesters, who have almost entirely left Mr Nicholls alone, but her stance on Friday could turn the tide for the remainder of the election campaign.


Pub ordered to pay anti-Islamic political party founder $2,500 for discrimination - after they told her she wasn't welcome inside the hotel

A pub has been ordered to pay an anti-Islamic political party founder $2,500 compensation after they told her she wasn't welcome inside because of her views.

Beach House Hotel and its general manager Paul Robins were found to have discriminated against Love Australia or Leave founder Kim Vuga on the basis of her political beliefs.

Mr Robins initially showed discrimination against Ms Vuga when he told her he did not want anything to do with her political party, the day before she wanted to attend drinks there, the Courier Mail reported.

Beach House Hotel and its general manager Paul Robins were found to have discriminated against Love Australia or Leave

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal member Jeremy Gordon said in his decision the manager also discriminated against Ms Vuga and her supporters by saying they were not welcome at the hotel or the car-park.

'A substantial reason for these things happening was Ms Vuga's political belief,' he said.

The hotel and Mr Robins claimed their exclusion was due to health and safety concerns, which Mr Gordon did not accept.

A party representative had initially been informed two weeks before Ms Vuga planned to hold a meeting in Hervey Bay that the hotel was available for drinks only.

Mr Robins then became concerned on August 8 when he saw a party flyer advertising a 'meet for drinks' and was worried people would be turning up for a meeting the next day.

He then said, in a phone conversation with Ms Vuga, that they could not meet at the hotel or in the carpark and said: 'Sorry, I don't want anything to do with your association'.

In an email, the manager later told Ms Vuga: 'We do not want to get involved or have the name of our business associated with the party'.

Ms Vuga's request for $25,000 was turned down as Mr Gordon didn't believe she had severely suffered from the incident.

He also dismissed her application for the hotel to publish apologies or undergo anti-discrimination training.

Ms Vuga believed from the start that she had a discrimination case which she thought was important to stand up for.


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

5 November, 2017

Faith and reason inseparable

It amuses me how both Christians and atheists regard one-another as unreasonable.  Atheists regard Christians as unreasonable for believing in an invisible being and Christians regard atheists as unreasonable for denying that there was a  creator.  Knowing that juxtaposition helps make me very tolerant of Christians even though I am a thoroughgoing atheist -- JR

By Peter Kurti (Peter is an ordained minister in the Anglican Church of Australia)

Myths persist about the unreasonableness of religious belief — especially Christianity. Fashionable intellectuals pitch religion against science, saying rationality is the highest principle of the universe.

Overlooked is Christianity’s vital synthesis of the Greek philosophical tradition that gave rise precisely to the form of reason from which the intellectuals have attempted to divorce faith.

Far from being the enemy of reason, faith — as Greg Sheridan wrote last week — is the basis of reason. “Science tells us a great deal about how,” he said, “but nothing about why.”

For the discovery of truth to be more than a series of non-rational, subjective assumptions, we need to remember that religious faith needs to be a part of reasonable discourse.

Not only does Christian theology entail formal reasoning about God; the discipline of theology, as a form of reasoned enquiry, is foundational component of what we refer to as ‘the West’.

And emphasis on our minds’ ability to apprehend reality — including philosophical and religious truths — is woven into the very fabric of the West, says scholar of religion Samuel Gregg.

The concept of reason is broader than the limits of the empirically falsifiable, something emphasised by Pope Benedict XIV in his 2006 lecture delivered at Regensburg:

“The world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their more profound convictions,” Benedict said.

By the application of reason, human beings exercise the capacity both to comprehend and to shape their social reality, to exercise moral judgement, and to make reasonable choices.

In this way, human beings grow as reasonable people and so are able to build human communities which defend human dignity from the subversion of character and courage.


The angry Left

A picture is worth .... 

It's  Australian writer, Marxist and author, Helen Razer below.  You can read some of her angry words here. Not recommended.  She admits to having had "many psychiatrists".  I like her plaits, though

Turnbull extols relationship with Israel as nations strengthen security ties

The relationship between Australia and Israel has never been more profound than now, Malcolm Turnbull has said.

The prime minister hailed the nations’ deep ties and shared values after meeting his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem on Monday night.

But the leaders still don’t see eye-to-eye on Iran despite lengthy discussion, with Turnbull reiterating Australia’s view to stick with the nuclear agreement, which the Israelis want to end.

The pair embraced warmly during a ceremonial welcome alongside their spouses, before holding one-on-one and bilateral meetings.

Turnbull said collaboration between Australia and Israel had deepened over the century and was now at its height. But their shared values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law were being tested by “militant Islamist terrorism” – both in the Middle East and the Philippines.

“It is a threat to Israel, it is a threat to Australia, it is a threat to all who value and cherish freedom,” Turnbull said.

Officials signed a memorandum of understanding to allow for more cooperation between the two nations’ defence industries, including potential export opportunities.

The leaders also pledged greater cooperation on cyber security.

“We have a vital interest in working more closely and intensely together to keep our people safe from terrorism and from the use of the internet,” Turnbull said.

Iran was discussed at length, after the US president, Donald Trump, refused to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal – a move Israel supports.

“We absolutely understand Israel’s very real concerns and anxiety about Iran moving to a nuclear weapons capability,” Turnbull said. “But we are not dissuaded that moving away from the agreement would be beneficial in terms of preventing that type of proliferation.”

Netanyahu and Turnbull, who later dined together privately with their wives Sara and Lucy, both acknowledged the centenary of the Battle of Beersheba – which will be commemorated with a series of events on Tuesday.

Turnbull described it as a pivotal moment in history, led by Australian horseman who helped liberate Palestine from the Ottoman empire.

“It was a great victory – the last successful calvary charge in military history and certainly one that rings through the ages,” he said.

Netanyahu labelled it the “gateway to the rebirth of the Jewish people”. “[It] would not have been possible without the heroism and sacrifice of Australian troops who liberated this land from 400 years of Ottoman rule with tremendous courage,” he said.


New poll suggests One Nation could be kingmaker in Queensland election

ONE Nation leader Pauline Hanson could be on the brink of her biggest political breakthrough yet with polls suggesting she is on course to be the kingmaker in Queensland’s state elections and decide who becomes premier.

On October 29, current premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called a snap November 25 election sending voters to the ballot box two months early.

She’ll be fighting for the top spot with Liberal National Party (LNP) leader Tim Nicholls.

Last week, Ms Hanson accused Ms Palaszczuk of being “cowardly” for calling the election while she was away on a parliamentary trip to India, meaning the One Nation leader would miss the first week of campaigning.

But the overseas absence doesn’t appear to have hurt the party.

While Labor leads the LNP 52 per cent to 48 per cent on a two party preferred basis, the Galaxy Poll for the Courier Mail states One Nation could pick up a whopping 18 per cent of the state’s votes.

With all parties taken into account, Labor’s vote reduces to 35 per cent and the LNP’s to 32 per cent. That would mean Ms Hanson’s support will be vital in getting either party over the line.

One Nation is actually polling below their 1998 high of almost 23 per cent.

However pollsters have said a strategy of focusing on fewer, more competitive electorates could see them win seats.

While Mr Nicholls has said there will be no formal coalition with One Nation, he hasn’t ruled out a looser agreement that could see the LNP create a minority government with Ms Hanson’s backing.

The poll of almost 900 Queenslanders, published on Saturday, also shows the Greens vote has increased to nine per cent, possibly due to ructions over the controversial Adani coal mine proposals.

What’s certain is both major parties have much to worry about.

The LNP will be concerned the new poll showed its numbers were sinking with a four per cent drop in support while Labor held its ground.

In addition, far fewer Queenslanders prefer Mr Nicholls as premier than Ms Palaszczuk.

But it’s not plain sailing for Labor either. Ms Palaszczuk has been forced to deny a conflict of interest over a federal loan assessment to Adani after it emerged her partner worked on the mining giant’s application for the cash.

On Friday, Ms Palaszczuk pledged to veto the $1 billion federal loan for the controversial Carmichael coal mine, saying her government would play no future role in its assessment.

Ms Palaszczuk revealed her husband Shaun Drabsch, in his capacity as infrastructure advisory director for PwC, worked on Adani’s application for the loan under the Commonwealth’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF).

However, Ms Palaszczuk accused LNP senators in Canberra of a “smear campaign” and “circulating rumours” about Mr Drabsch.

“I am told they planned to use this during the election campaign to impugn my character and suggest something untoward,” the premier told reporters.

Ms Palaszczuk insisted there had been nothing untoward and she had not known about her partner’s involvement as part of PwC’s work to secure a loan from the NAIF.

To veto the loan, Ms Palaszczuk will need Mr Nicholls’ endorsement, as the government is currently in caretaker mode.

But he doesn’t seem keen to play ball. “If, as the premier claims, all necessary conflict of interest measures are correct and above board, why has she put thousands of jobs at risk with this extraordinary backflip?”

There was better news for Ms Palaszczuk in the preferred premier stakes with 43 per cent of Queenslanders choosing her over Mr Nicholls. But 28 per cent said they were uncommitted to either.


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

3 November, 2017

Wrong to mock foolish unionists who are destroying their own jobs?

They are so highly paid that their employer can bring in product much more cheaply from Europe. In trying to hang on to the high pay, they are asking people not to buy their employer's product.  The products are very popular so the attempted boycott will have little effect.  With a hostile attitude from the unionists, however, the employer could well close the factory altogether and import the product, thus giving the unionists NO pay

A PAIR of New South Wales Young Liberals have drawn the ire of Facebook users after posting a photo of themselves flouting the ice cream boycott created to support employees.

The duo were pictured enjoying Cornettos at Sydney’s Circular Quay, along with the caption: “Quick #cornettocaucus to support Streets Ice Cream. Nothing wrong with Australian jobs and investment. #reverseboycott #oneicecreamatatime.”

But Facebook users responded with fury, calling them “out of touch”, “uncool and distasteful” and “spoilt little rich kids who have no social conscience.”

Others posted hashtag #whiteprivilege and criticised the two young people for their apparent lack of compassion for struggling workers.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union on Sunday announced the boycott of Streets ice cream’s popular treats, including Paddle Pops and Golden Gaytimes, over a potential 46 per cent pay cut for factory workers.

Australia’s largest ice cream manufacturer is owned by multinational consumer goods giant Unilever, which has said it will end an enterprise agreement with the Streets factory in Minto, in southwestern Sydney.

It is launching a $250,000 “Streets Free Summer” blitz on social and traditional media, calling for everyone to boycott snacks such as Blue Ribbon, Magnum, Viennetta and Calippo to protect the rights of the 140 workers.

“Streets’ application to the Fair Work Commission to terminate its enterprise agreement is likely to get up,” AMWU media director George Simon told at the weekend. “That means workers go back to the award rate, which is 46 per cent less than what they are getting now.”

Unilever released a statement announcing its application with Fair Work Australia to terminate the existing enterprise agreement and saying it wanted “to create more flexible working conditions and enhance the competitiveness and viability of the factory”.

Unilever denies a new agreement will result in a 46 per cent drop in workers’ pay. It says the Minto factory is “not sustainable” at current costs, since it is almost 30 per cent cheaper to import a Magnum Classic ice cream made in Europe than to make the same ice cream in NSW.


Two-thirds of Australians DON’T support the ban on climbing Uluru after Aboriginal leaders called an end to tourists clambering up the world’s most famous rock

Ayers rock is crown land and, as such, is owned by all Australians.  No minority group has any legal right to claim control of it. It's pandering to superstitions to allow blacks to do so

Almost two-thirds of Australians don't support the decision to ban climbing Uluru.

Although visitors are still welcome, they will be barred from climbing Uluru from October 2019 following a decision by its traditional owners this week.

Indigenous leaders say Uluru is not a theme park and a ban on climbing the sacred rock is righting an historic wrong that's long overdue.

The Central Land Council said the board was to be congratulated for its move and said 'nobody will miss the climb'.

'This decision has been a very long time coming and our thoughts are with the elders who have longed for this day but are no longer with us to celebrate it,' land council director David Ross said.

However, a poll by the NT News found that 63 per cent of respondents don't agree with the ban.

The NT Government and tourism bosses are confident the decision won't affect visitors to the region.

Tourism Central Australia chief executive Stephen Schwer told the NT News that most complaints came from overseas visitors opposed to the fact the climb was offered.

'For a number of years, they've said 'how dare you keep the climb open', while domestically, it's a different message,' he said.

'(Australians) have an emotional connection to Uluru, and some people feel it's their right to climb. But there are so many other ways to experience the rock.'

Mr Schwer added that visitors will still be able to experience Uluru a number of other ways, including treks, scenic flights, Segway tours and buses.

The last day of climbing will be October 26, 2019.

The ban will be imposed under the terms of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Management Plan.

The plan includes a provision to stop visitors scaling the rock if the proportion who chose to make the trek fell below 20 per cent.

Figures from Parks Australia indicated only 16 per cent of visitors to the park made the climb between 2011 and 2015, down from about 74 per cent in the 1990s.

Federal Indigenous Affairs minister Nigel Scullion said he was comfortable with any decision by the traditional landowners and was not worried about losing tourism in the area.

Uluru has around 300,000 visitors each year with Australian tourists the most likely to climb the rock followed by the Japanese, according to the park's figures.


Last chapter for Gould's Book Arcade

I knew Bob Gould and sometimes shopped at his bookshop so I feel some regret at the loss of an institution.  There would be some reason to make a museum of it.  As the current owners have found, book are obsolete now. I have given most of mine away

Real estate prices have won. They've routed the socialists and killed words on the page in Newtown.

Gould's Book Arcade, for 50 years the last word for Sydney's discerning left-wing readers, has been priced out of gentrifying King Street, its future uncertain.

"Books have little place in the lives of people moving into Newtown these days," said Mairi Petersen, the first wife of bookshop founder, the late Bob Gould.

"Once Newtown was students and the working class. No more. Now they are paying millions to buy in and when you look at real estate agent photographs of houses for sale there is not a book to be seen."

Firebrand Bob Gould, who died six-and-a-half years ago, was a prime mover in Vietnam War protests, including one that went down in history for Premier Robert Askin's? direction to his driver to "run over the bastards". He also collared the man who tried to assassinate Labor leader Arthur Caldwell at Mosman Town Hall.

The following year, 1967, Mr Gould opened the Third World Bookshop in Goulburn Street. It remained a centre of dissent for years. He stayed in the CBD until it turned into a retail ground zero, in 1990 moving to the spacious single-storey building in Kings Street with its cosy community of working class, left-wingers, gays, students and academics.

Three decades of readers have browsed the estimated 1 million second-hand volumes on display. In recent times, Gould's caught up with the 20th century and went online with 40,000 titles but it was the shop, with its miles of aisles and teeming shelves of books, magazines and records threatening to collapse under their own weight, that remained the draw.

"All the shops have been a gathering place for people who want a better system and wanted to know how to change it," said Ms Petersen, who worked selling books around a teaching career and motherhood.

"But now you can look anything up on Google and other search engines. Books have gone out of fashion. There's still a place for them but people seem to have forgotten where that place is."

Their daughter, Natalie, grew up in the bookshops. But it had been a real struggle to survive for Natalie – who has been running the bookshop since her father's death (following a fall in the shop) – to stay afloat.

Will books come back?

"We bought a place around the corner in Newtown for Natalie in 1994 and the place next door sold the other day for 10 times as much," Ms Petersen said.

"It seems mortgages leave no room for reading."

Rain damaged much of the stock this year and now Gould's Book Arcade will close in three months unless cheaper premises can be found.


Healthcare industry needs a scalpel to be taken to wasteful funding

Pointlessly taking antibiotics has become part of Australian culture. What’s the point of seeing the doctor, and wasting half an hour in a waiting room, if he or she doesn’t “do something”?

Doctors in Australia dispense antibiotics at twice the rate of doctors in The Netherlands, 80 per cent more than those in Canada and 40 per cent more than those in the US. Health outcomes aren’t markedly different.

“Approximately 75 per cent of acute bronchitis is treated with ­antibiotics despite evidence that indicates the rate should be near zero,” the Productivity Commission noted in its latest report on how to boost the efficiency of Australia’s economy.

Deputy prime minister Bar­naby Joyce’s exit from parliament might revive Labor’s push for a royal commission into banking. An inquiry into the efficiency of the health system would provide greater benefit.

The commission was right to focus on health in its mammoth report. Governments, patients and health funds together spent more than $170 billion on healthcare in the 2016 financial year — more than $7000 a person — up 5.4 per cent from a year earlier, with little sign of slowing.

In 1973 Labor minister Bill Hayden said Medicare was the “most equitable and efficient means of providing health insurance coverage for all Australians”.

Over time the medical industry — hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, diagnostic imaging companies etc — has rationally taken advantage of a system that is based around paying for fees for services, rather than outcomes.

Excessive dispensing of anti­biotics is just one of an array of easy savings the commission identified. Studies in the US routinely suggest that between 6 per cent and 29 per cent of health spending is a waste, implying massive scope for greater productivity — and lower taxation (state and federal governments contribute $114bn to the total health expenditure). More conservatively, the commission ­reckons $2.2bn a year could be saved by 2025 by scrapping what it calls “low value” care.

Reducing overuse of the Medicare Benefits Schedule is high on its list. “Very few services covered by the MBS have undergone any formal evidence-based review,” the commission noted. In other words, government in effect asks doctors what should be listed on the MBS. Not surprisingly, the list of services on the MBS has exploded from about 300 in the 1970s to 5700. Its cost to taxpayers is on track to swell 18 per cent to $29bn over the next three years.

“The weight of evidence in Australia and internationally suggests that much of the variation documented in the Atlas (Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation) is likely to be unwarranted,” the Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Health Care politely puts it in its latest analysis of the ­remarkable degree of variation in use of the MBS procedures across Australia.

One is more than twice as likely to have a knee arthroscopy in Sydney’s Sutherland shire, in the top quintile of the income distribution, than across the Georges River in Fairfield, an area in the bottom quintile. Women are more than six times more likely to have hysterectomies — and three times more likely to have caesarean births — depending on where in Australia they live. This suggests a mix of ­ignorance among patients and even doctors, and supplier-­induced demand. Experts believe about two thirds of the 55,000-odd arthroscopies performed each year in Australia are justified, a ­potential saving of $200m a year, the commission said.

Prominent Australian surgeon Ian Harris, in his book Surgery, the Ultimate Placebo, says swathes of surgical procedures haven’t been scientifically proved. Yes, some people get better after surgery; that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have got better anyway.

Taxpayers are also funding homoeopathy, via the private health insurance rebate, a practice that has little scientific support. “It is questionable whether items that have no proven efficacy should ­receive any effective support by taxpayers,” the commission says, calling for the rebate to be dumped for “extras” coverage.

Digital technology should play a much bigger role in making ­interaction with the health system more efficient. About a 10th of consultations with GPs could be done over the phone or ­online — time worth about $300m a year to patients, the commission said.

Politicians love announcing the construction of hospitals but do we need so many in the 21st century? “About 30 per cent of total state hospital budgets is catering to people in the last couple of years of life,” says Christopher McGowan, chief executive of Silver Chain Group, a not-for-profit organisation delivering community health and aged care services. “And about 30 per cent of people in hospitals shouldn’t be there,” he adds, suggesting far better ways of treatment, including in the home, could improve the quality of care of the patient and save taxpayers huge sums.

From July the government stopped remunerating hospitals and doctors for so-called sentinel events — operating on the wrong person, leaving surgical instruments in patients, or giving newborn babies to the wrong family. This is a good, sensible, if symbolic, start to making significant savings.

The government’s inquiry into the efficacy of procedures listed on the MBS, established more than two years ago, is moving at glacial pace. And no wonder: chopping items would cut millions in revenue to particular medical companies and professionals.

One shouldn’t blame the industry for dispensing too many anti­biotics, or performing some operations needlessly. Patients’ ­ignorance of medicine can underpin demand for practices that are ineffective. I’m meant to be educated but had no idea until recently that chemotherapy isn’t effective for some cancers.

“Nearly 70 per cent of those with lung cancer and about 80 per cent of those with colorectal cancer did not understand that chemotherapy was not at all likely to cure their cancer,” the commission notes, referring to studies in the US.

Government needs to take a tougher stance in ruling out funding things that have little or no benefit. If people want to pay for surgery that makes them feel better psychologically, they should, of course, be welcome to do so.


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

2 November, 2017

Refugees who refuse refuge

They have been given refuge in New Guinea but are doing a big tantrum in the hope of being relocated to Australia instead.  It never was refuge they were after.  They were trying to steal a Western standard of living

Refugees on Manus Island were braced for potential calamity on Tuesday evening as they refused to leave the now-decommissioned detention centre and feared violent clashes with locals and the military.

Five years after the centre reopened under Labor and took in its first asylum seekers - and six months after its closure was announced following a Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruling - the ugly and potentially violent standoff marks another dark episode in the history of Australia's offshore processing regime.

All Australian and PNG staff abandoned the site on Tuesday morning, heading for the airport, while power and water were cut later in the afternoon.

About 600 men - mostly refugees, but also some failed asylum seekers - have refused to move to alternative accommodation in nearby Lorengau, citing fears for their safety and vowing to resist as long as possible.

As the situation deteriorated, an angry Immigration Minister Peter Dutton blasted the refugees and their advocates, declaring their claims "nothing more than subterfuge" and reiterating they would never come to Australia.

The men plan to sustain themselves on rainwater they have collected in jerrycans, but fear a confrontation with local Manusians - up to 50 of whom broke into the site on Tuesday and looted fans, chairs and other goods.

Refugees have patched up a broken gate with wire, but it remains insecure. There is a heavy police presence on the island, including the PNG military and the infamous "mobile squad", which has been described as a paramilitary force.

"The situation is a humanitarian emergency, there is no other way to describe it," said Greens senator Nick McKim, who was on Manus Island on Tuesday.

He witnessed about 100 locals in Lorengau rally against the relocation of refugees into their community, arguing instead they should be taken to Australia.

Senator McKim also said Mr Dutton's claim of providing sufficient alternative accommodation was untrue, because one of the facilities was still "two weeks away" from being ready.

"It is still a construction site," he said. "It consists of two demountables in a paddock full of mud. It is in no way fit for human habitation."

While some refugees and asylum seekers have moved into the alternative accommodation, the remaining 600 intend to hold out as long as they can.

PNG's armed forces are due to resume control of the site as soon as Wednesday, but have promised not to use force to remove the refugees.

However, police chief Gari Baki has warned nobody's safety can be guaranteed, while refugees recall with anguish this year's Good Friday riot in which drunk PNG soldiers fired bullets into the detention centre.

Early Tuesday evening, Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani described the atmosphere at the detention centre as "calm", but worried it was the "calm before [the] storm". "The refugees are waiting and they are really scared and really worried," he told Fairfax Media.

Another man, Rohingyan refugee Imran Mohammed, conceded the group "won't have any choice" but to comply if authorities used force against them. "We have nothing, we are unarmed," he said. "Everyone is saying we prefer to die here than dying in the town. We are really concerned about our future and about our lives out there."

In a lengthy statement on Tuesday, Mr Dutton said the alternative accommodation provided to refugees and asylum seekers was ready, safe and contained food, power and medical services.

He singled out Senator McKim for "breathtaking duplicity", accusing him of deliberately inciting trouble and grandstanding.

Mr Dutton said refugees had "clear pathways ahead of them" to resettle in PNG, the United States or Nauru. But he warned they had "sought to subvert Australia's laws" and "none will ever resettle here".

"They have long claimed the Manus RPC was a 'hellhole' - but the moment it was to be closed they demanded it be kept open," Mr Dutton said.

Labor's immigration spokesman, Shayne Neumann, said it was incumbent on the minister to "de-escalate" the situation on Manus Island. Transferring people from one facility to another was "not a long-term solution", he said.

Meanwhile, lawyers acting for the refugees lodged a last-minute challenge to the centre's closure, and were waiting to appear before a PNG judge on Tuesday evening.

Documents filed in court allege the men's rights would be breached by placing them into danger in Lorengau. "The current situation is now totally out of control and fears of a possible 'bloodbath' are mounting by the day," lawyer Ben Lomai argued.

However, with staff having already departed the island, a reversal of the closure appeared impossible.


Governments who are failing to learn  from the past:  "Pro-tenant" policies will choke off rental accomodation, driving up rents

Shocked residential property investors bracing for the spreading impact from the dramatic 20 to 25 per cent fall in Sydney inner-city used apartment prices are being threatened new blows.

NSW politicians are looking to follow Victoria and are considering draconian new laws to hit residential property investors even harder. But, as I explain below, an investor fightback is starting led by the largest apartment owner in Australia: Harry Triguboff.

Triguboff has threatened an effective capital strike on building rental properties. Politicians need to brace for shocks — helping one sector of the community to the detriment of another can backfire.

Both political parties operating at state level reckon they have found a new and huge pool of voters — those who are renting residences. And there is no doubt that renters in some situations have been treated badly.

But the politicians have decided that the small and large residential investors — often the local trades person — should be given a good hard kick to promote the cause of renter votes. Victoria’s Andrews government started the game with a series of measures to limit rent rises and make evictions harder. The NSW ALP saw what their counterparts in Victoria were doing and went much further; including giving tenants the option of five-year leases.

The NSW Coalition government could see that the ALP might be onto a vote winner, and so is looking at its options. There is great danger that in NSW, where renting is booming, competition will develop between the Coalition government and the ALP as to who will kick the investors the hardest, and therefore win the most renter votes.

Leave aside the need to protect renters, there could not be a more dangerous time to kick investors than when prices are falling in key areas.

Investors have accepted very low yields on rental properties because prices are rising. A falling market changes the dynamic.

Last night Australia’s largest owner of apartments for rent, Meriton’s Harry Triguboff, decided it was time to fight back on behalf of all residential property investors, including those in Victoria where he does not operate. He pulls no punches.

Triguboff: “Meriton is the only company which has thousands of apartments for rent. And we manage many more thousands for investors. If the government wants to bring in these new rules, do they apply for existing leases? I am planning to build many more thousands of rental apartments. Can I know how banks will be controlled not to make it hard for investors to get finance?

“Can someone tell me if the government will not discriminate against investors? If I don’t get the answers, I will not renew any lease. I will sell all the rental properties, which I will vacate and I will not build any new ones. I will only build properties for sale and serviced apartments.”

Given the size of Meriton and the fact that rental property represents about half the apartments he is currently building, NSW building volumes will slump and there will be less rental accommodation. Triguboff adds: “People usually follow me in the apartment field, so whatever I say will be magnified.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Opposition leader Luke Foley will say: “Harry you are bluffing, you will never do it.”

I might be wrong but I don’t think he is bluffing when it comes to ceasing to build apartments for rent and ending rental leases when they expire.

But if Meriton stops rental construction, we are looking at an unprecedented investor strike led by the largest player. Rents will rise rapidly as construction in Sydney slumps. Those higher rents and lower supply will, over time, boost apartment prices but investors will demand much higher yields than they are currently accepting, given the higher risks that have been introduced into the market.

Remember that the apartment market has already been hammered by banking lending restrictions and higher investor interest rates and the removal of depreciation for used apartments. Fascinatingly, it was government action — the removal of depreciation from used apartments on July 1 — that triggered the big fall.

I set out 12 causes of the slump last week. Triguboff says that if five-year leases are mandatory, then tenants could not have leases terminated if they behaved. “But what happens if the rents drop? Is the tenant going to continue pay the original rent?”

“The people providing rental accommodation are usually small investors. What happens if the small investor has to sell and the rents have gone up? He does not win because he can only charge the original rent.

“In the case of Meriton, when the company finishes huge blocks it leases them quickly, by offering rental deals that are below market rent. But under the new rules Meriton may not be able to raise the rent.

“Let’s say I lease the property for five years and I am allowed to raise the rent once a year. The tenant can’t pay the new rent. Must I wait for five years until I can raise the rent, even though what I ask is the correct new rent?

“It is also dangerous to ask renters to sign a five-year lease because what happens if they get sick or lose their jobs — they are bound to that lease. At present they do not have that problem.”

The great danger politicians face is that they have forgotten history. Decades ago in some states, including NSW, governments introduced rent controls so that no one built for rent. Instead, housing commissions provided accommodation and the government helped in various ways for people to buy homes. If the scramble for renter votes gets out of hand and it becomes uneconomic for investors, then state governments may need to divert money from other areas.


Australia's world record housing boom is 'officially' over, UBS says

The huge rash of apartment-building is having its effect

A global investment bank has called the end of Australia's world record housing boom, saying the golden years are "officially" over after home prices fell in Sydney for the second month in a row.

"There is now a persistent and sharp slowdown unfolding", ending 55 years of unprecedented growth that has seen home values soar by more than 6500 per cent, UBS economists wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

Home prices in the capital cities have continued to slow on a quarterly basis, weighed down by tighter lending requirements for property investors and banks' out-of-cycle raising of home loan rates.

In Sydney, home prices fell 0.6 per cent over the quarter and were down 0.5 per cent over the month, figures from property data group Corelogic showed on Thursday morning.

Home prices in Darwin and Perth were also down, 4.4 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively, over the quarter. Melbourne's market conditions remained more resilient, with home prices up 0.5 per cent for the month and reaching growth of almost 2 per cent over the quarter.

Nationally, home prices stayed flat over the month and edged up only 0.4 per cent over the three months to October 31.

UBS had previously been cautious on the market, forecasting Australia's annual home price growth would moderate from solid double digits to 7 per cent in 2017, before prices would even fall by 0.3 per cent in 2018.

But the recent weakness in auction clearance rates and anaemic price growth over the past five months suggested "the cooling may be happening a bit more quickly than even we expected", economists George Tharenou and Carlos Cacho wrote in their note, downgrading their growth forecast for 2017 to just 5 per cent.

The cooling house prices and a slowdown in demand for loans to property investors suggested a "tightening of financial conditions", which will likely weigh on consumer spending and prompt the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates on hold until the second half of next year, they added.

Despite the recent downturn in values, Sydney home prices are up 74 per cent since the latest growth cycle began in early 2012

However, the latest figures show it may now be more lucrative investing on the sharemarket than in property, CommSec's chief economist Craig James suggested in a separate note.

Total returns on shares rose by 15.5 per cent in the year to October while total returns on capital city homes rose by 10.7 per cent, he pointed out.

With a record amount of new property supply such as new apartments and townhouses coming onto the market, and stalling wages and rising energy prices sapping consumers' chances of saving up money for home deposits, property price growth is unlikely to bounce back in the near future, according to Commonwealth Bank's senior economist, John Peters.

"It is hard to see this situation reversing anytime soon with consumers now running down their savings to maintain current living standards and paying bills," he warned.


Australian CO2 emissions to 'far exceed' 2030 Paris pledge

Good news for Australians

National pledges to cut carbon emissions fall well short of what's needed to avoid dangerous climate change, with Australia likely to miss its 2030 commitment by a wide margin, a United Nations body said.

The UN Environment Program's Emissions Gap 2017 report found pledges to cut pollution made at the Paris climate summit two years ago are only about one-third of what's needed to be on a "least-cost pathway" to stopping the worst effects of climate change.

The target is to stop global average temperatures from rising 2 degrees or more above pre-industrial levels. Change on that scale is expected to cause major droughts, food shortages and damaging sea level rise.

The emissions gap to keep with a 1.5-degree goal is 16-19 gigatonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent, while the 2-degree target would need an extra 11.13.5 gigatonnes of CO?-e of cuts by 2030 to be attained, the report said.

Sea levels could rise 1.3 metres by 2100 if coal use continues
"There is an urgent need for accelerated short-term action and enhanced longer-term national ambition, if the goals of the Paris Agreement are to remain achievable," the report said.

The positive news is that global emissions have largely flatlined for the past three years, thanks in large part to a plateauing in China. Still, other potent greenhouse gases such as methane are rising, and carbon dioxide emissions could accelerate if global economic growth picks up.

Frank Jotzo, a professor at the Australian National University's Crawford School and a contributor to the report, said tumbling costs of renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies suggest nations could increase their emissions cuts "and it won't be terribly hard".


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

1 November, 2017

Send complainers to the end of the queue, says NBN director

A typically bureaucratic response.  NBN is clearly not a business

People who complain about not being able to get connected to the national broadband network should be sent to the back of the connection queue, according to NBN Co non-executive director Michael Malone.

Mr Malone  —  founder of internet service provider iiNet, which was acquired by TPG in 2015 — was referring to "NBN Service Class 0" customers. Thousands of them are stuck in broadband limbo because of an arbitrary decision set in law that prevents Telstra from connecting customers who should have already been connected to the NBN but haven't been.

"If I was running NBN and they [complaining Service Class 0 customers] went to the media, I would put them to the back of the queue. Personally, that's what I would do," Malone said in an exclusive interview, adding that Service Class 0 issues would all get resolved and that people should be patient.

"iiNet used to get 20,000 support calls a day and very few ended up on the front page," Mr Malone said.

"NBN is installing 45,000 customers per week and that will double in the next 12 months," he added, noting that the NBN was always going to suffer from "faults along the way".

"Think about how you would roll out the network if you needed to hit 10 million households," he said. "What are you going to do first? You do all the easy ones first and then the others."

According to Labor MP Stephen Jones, there are 318,089 premises in NBN service areas that don't have functional service.


Australians would rather have cheaper power bills than meet international climate change targets

More Australians would rather have cheaper power bills than meet international targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Almost one in two people surveyed by Newspoll agree with the idea of dumping global climate change agreements for less expensive electricity, with 45 per cent in favour compared to 40 per cent who oppose to the move.

The results, published in The Australian, come as U.S. President Donald Trump pulls out of the Paris accord on global warming which Australia continues to support.

One Nation voters, who support Pauline Hanson, were the most in favour of pulling out of international climate change agreements, with an overwhelming 70 per cent in favour of quitting the Paris accord.

A majority, or 54 per cent of Liberal and National party voters, also want Australia to relinquish global warming commitments.

However, voters on the left of politics want Australia to keep its commitment to climate change deals, with 50 per cent of Labor supporters opposed to pulling out, compared with 71 per cent of Greens voters.

Last year, Australia joined 174 other nations in formally signing up to the Paris accord, which commits our country to a 28 per cent reduction on 2005 emissions during the next 13 years.


Dream turns into degree-factory nightmare

The Rudd and Gillard governments’ habit of meddling in places it had no right to be was driven not so much by socialism as solutionism; the impulse to solve problems yet to be defined. It accelerated the expansion of what the Productivity Commission delicately refers to as the non-market sector in its landmark review of national economic ­efficiency released last week.

The non-market sector — health, welfare and education for the most part — accounts for more than 20 per cent of economic activity and is powered by government investment.

Are our degree factories delivering value for money? One suspects not, in the light of the commission’s recommendation that higher education providers should be included in consumer law, giving unhappy students the right to seek compensation if the service they received was “not fit for purpose” or was “supplied without due care and skill”.

The commission charts the extra­ordinary growth of universities in which more than a million Australians are enrolled today, twice as many as there were when the century began.

The federal government’s direct contribution increased from $19 billion in 2007 to $31bn last year, not counting the amount it lends to students, a substantial slice of which it will never recoup. Outstanding government loans to students have tripled across the same period from $16bn to $49bn.

Those who received the most benefit, if benefit it is, are the millennials, a generation that may well become known as the education boomers, the most well-credentialed generation in history. Four out of 10 women aged between 25 and 35 have a bachelor degree, or higher qualification, as do three out of 10 men in the same cohort.

Ten years ago the figures were 24 and 22 per cent respectively.

For those who regard human beings as inputs that increase production, this investment in education should be an unqualified good. Yet human beings, it turns out, are not machines, and the demand for the services of graduates has its limits. Full-time employment for graduates has fallen from 85 per cent in 2008 to 71 per cent last year.

More than a quarter of graduates work in jobs unrelated to their studies, to which their degree may add little value. In fields such as the humanities, languages, arts and social sciences, the figure could be as high as half. Graduate wages as a proportion of the average minimum wage have been falling since 2008.

Students’ return on investment is shrinking, and they know it.

A survey last year found high levels of dissatisfaction: almost half thought they had received inadequate services.

The higher education revolution engineered by Julia Gillard as education minister and then prime minister has been a force for destruction, as revolutions usually are. The ideal of excellence has been usurped by the dogma of inclusion. A place at a university is a right, and in some circles is seen as a requirement, a four-year transition from youth to adulthood without which no life is complete.

The average Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of univer­sity entrants, a proxy measure for academic preparedness, fell from 79.9 per cent in 2010 before the glorious Gillard revolution to 76.4 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, the proportion of students abandoning university courses rose, from 12.5 per cent in 2009 to 15.2 per cent in 2014. More than a quarter of students are failing to complete their degrees in nine years. In the commission’s view, this represents a waste of the student’s time and money, and squandered taxpayer funding.

Gillard’s changes to higher education are one more example of the costly but avoidable public policy mistakes about which the commission expresses concern.

In part, the blame falls on the public service for its failure to conduct standard due diligence and its excessive aversion to risk which makes it slow to acknowledge mistakes and quick to centralise decision-making.

The commission is understandably muted, however, in its references to the poor performance of elected governments. The rushed delivery of rash promises, bypassing of normal cabinet process, reliance on verbal rather than written advice, failure to stress-test proposals and reckless disregard for future costs were highlighted two years ago in an important report by Peter Shergold that, disconcertingly, appears to have been little read.

One suspects the author foresaw as much and so cunningly decided to include the guts of it in the title. Learning from Failure: Why Large Government Policy Initiatives Have Gone So Badly Wrong in the Past and How the Chances of Success in the Future Can be Improved, together with a well-thumbed copy of last week’s magnum opus from the Productivity Commission, should be placed in a prominent position on every would-be revolutionary’s bookcase


Senate president Stephen Parry has revealed he believes he holds dual citizenship and may need to resign

Senator Parry, who reportedly believes he is a British citizen, would become the first Liberal to be forced out of Parliament in the ongoing citizenship fiasco.

Fairfax Media has confirmed that Senator Parry, from Tasmania, sought confirmation on his citizenship status from British authorities on Monday, several days after the High Court dramatically ruled that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, and four senators, were invalidly elected because they were dual citizens.

If Senator Parry is forced to vacate the Senate, it will be another embarrassing blow to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government and it will see the Coalition's numbers in the Senate temporarily reduced by one.

He was born in Burnie, Tasmania, but his father migrated from Britain as a child.

Senator Parry was a funeral director and police officer before entering Parliament in 2004. He became Senate President in July 2014.

Former Tasmanian senator Richard Colbeck, a former junior minister in the Coalition government, would take over the Senate position occupied by Mr Parry if it is found that he was invalidly elected.

Mr Colbeck is still active in Liberal politics in Tasmania and is a close political ally of Mr Turnbull.

Mr Parry's office are expected to release a statement about the Senate President's citizenship status shortly.

On Sunday, Attorney-General George Brandis said he had "absolutely no reason to believe" there were more MPs caught up by section 44 of the constitution, which prohibits them from holding dual citizenship.


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here

For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.

In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.

Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).

For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security

"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier

Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Another bit of Australian: Any bad writing or messy anything was once often described as being "like a pakapoo ticket". In origin this phrase refers to a ticket written with Chinese characters - and thus inscrutably confusing to Western eyes. These tickets were part of a Chinese gambling game called "pakapoo".

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

My son Joe

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.

The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

English-born Australian novellist, Patrick White was a great favourite in literary circles. He even won a Nobel prize. But I and many others I have spoken to find his novels very turgid and boring. Despite my interest in history, I could only get through about a third of his historical novel Voss before I gave up. So why has he been so popular in literary circles? Easy. He was a miserable old Leftist coot, and, incidentally, a homosexual. And literary people are mostly Leftists with similar levels of anger and alienation from mainstream society. They enjoy his jaundiced outlook, his dissatisfaction, rage and anger.

A delightful story about a great Australian conservative

Would you believe that there once was a politician whose nickname was "Honest"?

"Honest" Frank Nicklin M.M. was a war hero, a banana farmer and later the conservative Premier of my home State of Queensland in the '60s. He was even popular with the bureaucracy and gave the State a remarkably tranquil 10 years during his time in office. Sad that there are so few like him.

A great Australian wit exemplified

An Australian Mona Lisa (Nikki Gogan)

Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."

Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.

Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall

Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.

The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.

A great little kid

In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."

A great Australian: His eminence George Pell. Pictured in devout company before his elevation to Rome


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