Looking at Australian politics from a libertarian/conservative perspective...
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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 October, 2015
Australia is the meat-eating capital of the world: Cop that, WHO!
According to the WHO we must be dying like flies. Australians in fact have one of the world's highest life expectancies. So if diet has any effect on life-expectancy, the WHO is exactly wrong. They say that red meat will rot your bum and don't go anywhere near bacon. I quote:
After thoroughly reviewing the accumulated scientific literature, a Working Group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.
This association was observed mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.
Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer"
Iconoclastic though it may be, I don't think that there is ANYTHING in a normal diet that affects life-expectancy for good or ill. And I have spent YEARS reading flaky academic studies claiming otherwise. They are all inconclusive and reflect food snobbery most of all
As residents of the world's meat-eating capital, Australians would be wise to pay more attention than most to the World Health Organisation's findings linking processed meat consumption to cancer.
Australians have finally surpassed the US to claim the title of world's most voracious meat eaters – a distinction we last held more than 30 years ago, in 1982.
Australians devoured 90.21 kilograms of meat per person in 2014, 170 grams more per person than the Americans, according to the latest figures from the Organisation of Economic Development and Co-operation and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Our return to the top ranking is mostly due to a decade-long decline in American meat consumption. By contrast, Australia's meat consumption has been creeping upwards over the past two decades, mostly driven by an increased appetite for chicken and pork.
While red meat has traditionally taken pride of place at the centre of the Aussie dinner table, we're now eating half as much lamb as in the 1980s and two-thirds the amount of beef, but nearly 2.5 times as much chicken and twice as much pork. (Our shifting preferences can be traced to a number of economic, cultural and environmental factors.)
Different patterns of meat consumption around the world tell a story of rich and poor. Meat consumption tends to rise as income rises, until it reaches a saturation point – where average incomes keep rising but people decide they just can't eat any more meat.
Cultural preferences produce some notable exceptions to the "mo money mo meat" pattern, such as India, where religious preferences mean up to 30-40 per cent of the population are vegetarians; and Malaysia and China, where meat consumption is far higher than would be expected from each country's income.
Worldwide, chicken is now the world's favourite meat by a slim margin, having surpassed pork in 2007 – a trend mostly driven by meat preferences among the wealthy OECD nations. Chicken has been the preferred meat among OECD countries since 2000. Worldwide consumption of chicken was 13.2kg per person in 2014; pork was 12.6kg.
China and Vietnam – two of the world's fastest-rising meat-eating nations – ate the most pork of any nation in 2014, with the Chinese surpassing the Europeans to claim the No. 1 ranking only recently, in 2013.
Pork is by far the most widely-consumed meat among the EU28 countries, with Europeans eating about 31kg of pork per person in 2014, compared with 22kg of chicken.
Pork is also the preferred meat among the major emerging BRICS economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, where 16kg of pork is eaten for every 10kg of chicken.
Not to be out-eaten in the pork stakes (or steaks), Australia ranked eighth out of 43 countries for pork consumption in 2014, at 20kg of pork per person.
Let’s stop blurring the truth about family violence
The lady below gets it but still skates over the specifics. For instance, An Aboriginal woman is 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than a white woman. So Aborigines make up a big part of the figures reported. On any rational calculus it is Aboriginal communities that should be prime targets of the domestic violence warriors but they are in fact rarely mentioned. Racism?
And family violence in Aboriginal communities is NOT a hopeless case. Extra policing is not in principle hard to arrange and would make a big difference to the often lawless situation in such communities. Just arresting drunks would make a huge difference -- as much violence is drunken
FAMILY violence is all the rage. More than ever before it is on the minds and tongues of politicians of all stripes; as it should have been long ago.
It’s been labelled a national shame. It’s been called an epidemic. Men kill their partners or ex-partners at the rate of about one a week.
The Advertiser revealed yesterday that a government unit is dealing with 36 women and children each week who are at immediate risk of injury or death. In South Australia alone.
What the current appeals and awareness campaigns and earnest speeches from people in suits are doing is trying to breach that code of silence. They’re trying to shine a light on relationships that are abysmally wrong, to shame the perpetrators and give the survivors the courage to escape.
But the light isn’t quite getting in to all the corners. While all women — and children, and men — are at risk of violence, some are more at risk than others.
This is the truth still submerged in shadows. If you’re poor, or can’t speak English, or you’re an Aboriginal in remote Australia, or even if you’re gay, you’re more at risk.
Disadvantage in life can lead to vulnerability to violence. The topic treads treacherous waters.
It is true, and rightly emphasised, that anyone can be a victim. The sturdy bluestone walls of a stately Burnside home won’t protect you because the danger is already inside.
But there’s a well-intentioned deception going on when people don’t talk about risk factors. The Australian Institute of Criminology, Parliament, and the Australian Institute of Family Studies are among those who have documented those risk factors.
The biggest risk factor is being female, but the others include: being culturally or linguistically diverse [Muslim], being Aboriginal, being poor, being uneducated, being gay, lesbian or transgender, being disabled.
This blurring of the truth by not talking about those groups is well intentioned because it would cause harm to start pointing fingers at specific communities, and it would risk ignoring the still-appalling levels of violence within the somewhat-lower risk groups.
But ignoring the risk factors won’t help get us to that elusive solution. If we’re really going to get into the dark corners, we have to be fierce and fearless.
There are people in Australia who come from countries where there are no laws against domestic violence — mostly African nations. There are many who come to Australia from countries where women have fewer rights. That list includes much of the Arab world and Asia.
But we don’t import most of the at-risk groups; they’re already here.
They’re often not at the swanky fundraising balls, or the Press Club, listening to politicians talk about family violence. They’re not watching Question Time, or listening to leaders say that “real men” wouldn’t hit women.
They’re living the reality that we’re now hearing so much about, but their voices are almost always missing from this vital conversation. Because we don’t want to single them out.
This is the first time we’ve had so much political will to change the nation, and we can’t afford to squib it through squeamishness.
Malcolm Turnbull repels anti-mines push with coal hard facts
Prime Minister Turnbull has repudiated calls for a moratorium on new coal mines, in a fundamental break with environmental activists. The Prime Minister drew industry acclaim but sparked fury from green groups
The International Energy Agency also countered predictions of an end to the coal trade, declaring yesterday that other energy sources had little chance of beating the cost of coal-fired power stations in the rising economies of Asia. With global demand for coal rising 2.1 per cent a year for the next five years, the Turnbull government sees the nation’s $40 billion in annual coal exports as vital to the economy, despite a price slump that has hit the federal budget.
The coal trade has seen a doubling of capacity at Port Waratah in Newcastle, NSW, in the time that coal services worker Shaun Sears has made his living from the exports. “The port’s capacity has gone from 70 million tonnes to 145 million in the 12 years I’ve been here,” the 52-year-old said yesterday.
The Prime Minister yesterday issued a swift response to an open letter from 61 prominent Australians, including Nobel laureate Peter Doherty, rugby union player David Pocock, former Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser and ABC radio host Adam Spencer, in which they called for a global climate change agreement to stop new coal mines.
Mr Turnbull embraced the prospect of cheaper renewable energy from solar and wind power but debunked the idea of a rapid shift away from fossil fuels and warned against driving the world’s poor into “energy poverty” by clamping down on coal.
“If Australia were to stop all of its coal exports it would … not reduce global emissions one iota,” Mr Turnbull said when asked about the call. “In fact, arguably it would increase them because our coal, by and large, is cleaner than the coal in many other countries. So with great respect to the motivations and the big hearts and the idealism of the people that advocate that, that is actually not a sensible policy, either from an economic point of view, a jobs point of view or, frankly, from a global warming or global emissions point of view.”
Government ministers and backbenchers saw the remarks as a signal of Mr Turnbull’s approach to climate change policy after the bitter Coalition divisions of the past, with a pragmatic new message that rejects the extreme positions taken by some green groups or those who reject the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb stepped up the government’s message, declaring that Australia had a “moral obligation” to sell its coal to developing nations. Mr Robb, who is in India for the latest round of talks on a free-trade deal, said it would be wrong to deny electricity to millions of people. “No matter which way you look at it, over the next 50 to 70 years there is no alternative to coal as part of the mix,” he said.
Bill Shorten also rejected a moratorium yesterday.
The IEA, the world’s top energy authority, has issued robust forecasts for the use of coal. Its executive director, Fatih Birol, told a conference in Singapore yesterday that coal would not “disappear quickly” because it had a significant cost advantage over gas.
Dr Birol cautioned, however, that unless policies changed there would be “serious environmental impacts” from the widespread use of coal-fired power across Southeast Asia.
The IEA estimates that coal demand will rise 2.1 per cent a year to 2019, down from the 3.3 per cent rate in recent years but still growing. Chinese coal consumption will not peak during the five-year outlook.
The signatories to the moratorium turned on the Prime Minister yesterday, saying he should act on a warning from Kiribati President Anote Tong to halt new mines. “In essence, Malcolm Turnbull misses the whole point,” said La Trobe University emeritus professor Robert Manne. “The call is for an international moratorium on new coal mines and that reflects our understanding that the planet is not to be destroyed. Eighty per cent of known reserves of fossil fuels have to be left in the ground. The issue is as simple as that.”
The Australia Institute’s executive director, Ben Oquist, said Mr Tong had not called for an export ban but had made a “considered call” for a global moratorium on new mines.
Company director and former Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said critics of coal needed to accept that wind and solar were not capable of providing reliable base-load power. Mr Turnbull had made “sensible, balanced comments” that Australians should welcome, he said.
Australian Mines and Metals Association chief Steve Knott said Mr Turnbull had highlighted that if Australia did not export coal then other countries would.
With our way of life under threat, focus on what unites us
Gerard Henderson regrets that most intellectuals and many Muslims and blacks in Australia feel no loyalty to Australia
In reviewing John Howard’s The Menzies Era in The Times Literary Supplement last May, Clive James made a tough-minded assessment about refugees, immigration and all that.
James wrote: “Until recently, in Australia, every ethnic group that came in was assimilated if it wanted to: the Muslim extremists are the first consignment of immigrants to hate Western civilisation almost as much as the resident intellectuals do.” Tough minded, for sure. But fair. Except that the intelligentsia in Australia is not into murder and/or destruction.
On the other hand, some Islamists openly proclaim their intention to overthrow Australian democracy and establish a caliphate whereby everyone will live in accordance with the dictates of an Islamist theocracy.
Certainly this is the view of only a very small minority of the Muslim community. Yet it is both real and threatening. This was made clear in the important report by Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop and Dylan Welch on the ABC’s 7.30 last Monday.
The program interviewed a 19-year-old supporter of the so-called Islamic State, or Daesh, who knew Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old who murdered Curtis Cheng outside the Parramatta police station.
The 19-year-old, who came to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan 10 years ago, did not attempt to disguise his hatred for Australia and non-Islamist Australians. While demanding anonymity on the ABC, the young man understands he is known to NSW Police, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security and Intelligence Service.
He described himself as “a normal dude”. But there was nothing normal about his religio-political ideology. Asked why he found it hard to say that Cheng’s murder was a tragedy for the victim and his family, the reply was brutal: “Why should I please the kafir — the disbelievers?”
So, to this Islamist, the battle is unambiguous.
There are Islamists like him and there are the kafirs. And he is waging war against disbelievers: “There is no other law except Allah’s law; people that smoke drugs, there’s no cigarettes, there’s no alcohol, there’s no brothels, there’s no clubbing — all shut down.” That’s life under the caliphate.
Earlier he had declared that “everyone wants to die for Allah” and those who died for Allah get to live “the best life in the hereafter”. It was no surprise, then, that he declined to answer whether he was prepared to get killed for Allah. This, after all, is the Islamists’ distorted interpretation of 15-year-old murderer Jabar’s death — who was shot by NSW police acting in self-defence.
The uncomfortable truth is that there are a number of Jabars in contemporary Australia who are prepared to kill kafirs, to die for what they believe is Allah’s cause. This deauthorises the position of academic Waleed Aly, who described such terrorist acts as the Boston Marathon bombing as a “perpetual irritant”, and journalist David Marr, who said last year that “the amount of fear being thrown into the community at the moment is disgraceful”.
The Islamists involved in acts of terrorism in Australia — or conspiracy to commit terrorism in Australia — during the past decade include Australian-born, immigrants and refugees alike. This problem is likely to be with us for a long time despite the best efforts of police and intelligence services along with the mainstream Muslim community.
In view of this reality, it makes sense for the rest of the Australian community to focus on what unites us rather than what divides. Yet this is not the fashion in Australia where, as James and others have noted, many of the best educated happen to be the most alienated.
This is evident, for example, in the indigenous community. Talented [Aboriginal] actress Miranda Tapsell was interviewed by Karl Stefanovic on the Nine Network’s The Verdict on October 15. Despite her evident success, Tapsell said no when asked if she identified herself as Australian. Asked the reason for this, she replied: “When I go to Australia Day, I don’t feel like an Australian that day because people are telling me I can’t be part of that.” It is not clear who made such an assertion.
Asked whether she would sing the national anthem, Tapsell responded: “I’d mumble it in the corner of my mouth, maybe.”
Deborah Cheetham, associate dean of music at the University of Melbourne, has gone even further. In an article in The Conversation this week, the famous indigenous soprano revealed that she had declined an invitation to sing Advance Australia Fair at the Australian Football League grand final in Melbourne this month.
Shortly after her piece in The Conversation was published, Cheetham received a soft interview on ABC Radio 702’s program Mornings, hosted by Linda Mottram.
Mottram described the article as “wonderful” as the author spelled out her opposition to the words of the national anthem.
In short, Cheetham will not sing the words “For we are young and free” primarily because she believes it is condescending to indigenous Australians to describe the nation as “young”. Her point is that Aborigines, in what became known as Australia, go back more than 50,000 years.
True, of course. But it is also true that the Commonwealth of Australia was created in January 1901, which makes the country relatively young.
Moreover, many indigenous Australians have European, Asian or Islander ancestors in addition to their indigenous ancestors.
Tapsell, for example, told The Verdict that her father had an English and Irish background.
Mick Dodson in 2009 raised the familiar question as to whether Australia Day should be called “Invasion Day”. That was a reasonable point, provided that all Aborigines who have some non-indigenous ancestors acknowledge that they are part “invaded” and part “invaders”.
The threat to democratic society is real and immediate. It makes sense to embrace the reality of a young and free nation and to reject alienation, whether it is sparked by discontented intellectuals or murder-endorsing extremists.
How technology can help with Australia's (and the world's) educational problems
But no substituite for a demanding curriculum -- JR
A recent UN Education Agency commissioned report [PDF/2.3MB] estimated that at least 250 million of the world's primary school age children are unable to read, write or do basic mathematics at all. The same number of children are also struggling to improve to a functional level, and this is not a problem linked solely to developing countries.
In Australia, as in many other developed countries, we are facing the very real possibility that, in the near future, the generation approaching retirement will be more literate and numerate than the youngest adults.
Solving Australia's challenges or the problem of global illiteracy and innumeracy is a huge task but it's essential if we are to improve the health, wellbeing and life chances of the world's children.
I would argue that there has never been a better time to be in education. The technology we have available to us now means that the difficulties of the past shouldn't constrain our future or, more importantly, our children's future.
I believe that this is achievable and that the answer lies in making learning both accessible and efficient. The opportunities that technology opens up in this regard are just astounding and, in terms of learning, it can be of tremendous assistance.
Mastering skills such as number recognition, automatic recall of times tables or being able to smoothly blend groups of letters to form words takes time. It is therefore vital that children are motivated and engaged sufficiently to persevere.
Technology is a tool to help learning not a replacement. A number of people are of the opinion that technology shouldn't be used in education. I fundamentally disagree. Technology can be used to improve learning. It is ubiquitous to children's lives these days and to take it away seems false. You would not go into a hospital and say "I don't want modern treatment, please give me what worked in the 1940s or '50s"!
Technology isn't just an aide to the child it can give so much to the teacher, parent, education system. Technology can help reveal to us how children learn which, in turn, enables us to teach in better ways. We are able to identify the areas of the curriculum that children struggle to grasp.
For example if you go back five years and ask most maths teachers what basic skills children find difficult and they would have flagged division as one of the hardest.
In fact the data from millions of records, in scores of countries, suggests otherwise. Subtraction is the element that children find the most challenging. Once they have mastered that area then others fall more easily into place.
Technology cannot and does not replace the great teacher but it can bring in others into the equation who can be also hugely supportive and motivational to the child.
In my experience technology that opens the door to the child's support group to take an active role in education will have the biggest impact on learning and help us radically improve life outcomes for millions of children.
29 October, 2015
Turnbull appoints pro-nuke man as chief "scientist"
I entirely approve of the fact that Alan Finkel is an energetic advocate of nuclear power. But that's a political matter, not a science matter. One might as well mention that he is rich, brilliant, Jewish and a supporter of Israel. I think well of all those things too but they are not scientific qualifications. As a retired scientist myself, I had hoped that a politically uninvolved scientist would get the job. But Turnbull knows his politics. And Finkel is politically clever too. He pushes nuclear power by joining the Greenie chorus against coal. So he more or less has everyone onside. A clever man indeed
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he's putting innovation at the heart of government policy with the appointment of an entrepreneur as Australia's new chief scientist.
Prominent engineer and neuroscientist Alan Finkel, who is also an advocate of nuclear energy, has been billed as the man who can help Australia bridge the gap between scientific research and industry.
It's one of Australia's weaknesses and it needs to be addressed if Australia is to remain a prosperous 'high-wage, generous social welfare net economy in the years to come', Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
'Science as part of innovation is at the very heart of this government's policy,' Mr Turnbull said. '(Dr Finkel) absolutely fits the spirit of the times in which we live. 'A scientist and an entrepreneur, an innovator, a communicator.'
Labor and the Greens also welcomed his appointment. 'Although we differ with him about nuclear power, we hope Dr Finkel's appointment represents a new scientific consensus that coal's days are numbered,' Greens MP Adam Bandt said.
Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said Australia was sixth in the OECD when it comes to quality of research but last when it comes to commercialisation of that research.
He said Dr Finkel fits into the government's new priority of linking business and science.
'We have demonstrably appointed him as a signal to the sector that we want science and business to be very much focused together in this country to create jobs, to create growth and to make breakthroughs that assist in the human development,' he said.
Mr Pyne said the government would announce a comprehensive innovation and science agenda by the end of the year.
Dr Finkel is Chancellor of Monash University and president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
He said Australia was at a 'critical moment', under a leadership team that appreciates the importance of science and technology and understands how it can deliver prosperity and productivity.
Dr Finkel takes the reins from Professor Ian Chubb as the government's top science adviser in January.
Prof Chubb said Dr Finkel came to the role with a 'rare blend of passion, patience and persistence the position demands'.
The TRUTH about the fight against the Bendigo mosque
If anyone is foolish enough to believe what is being printed in our media about the outcome of the Bendigo mosque VCAT hearing last week or if anyone has any delusions that our win at VCAT was anything but a major and significant victory, let me begin by saying that had there been any opportunity for VCAT to force this mosque permit through, they most certainly would have.
The postponement of the hearing to the 23rd of February 2016 did not happen simply because VCAT President, Greg Garde was feeling benevolent toward us. It was because he had absolutely NO CHOICE.
Robert Balzola dismantled their case and they were unable to rebut his argument.
Of great significance was the complete annihilation of the Human Rights Charter argument by the lawyers acting for the Bendigo Council and those acting for the Australian Islamic Mission incorporated.
They played the discrimination card citing violations of the Human Rights Charter if the Australian Islamic Mission incorporated was denied their massive mosque in a quiet Bendigo residential area.
What they didn’t realize was that Robert Balzola is an expert on the Human Rights Charter, in particular, the Geneva Convention Human Rights Charter to which Australia is a signatory.
He pointed out that neither the City of Greater Bendigo nor the Australian Islamic Mission incorporated are covered under any Human Rights Charter because they are both corporations and not a ‘natural person’.
He told VCAT that the only person in this entire VCAT matter that was covered by the Human Rights Charter was Ms Julie Hoskin.
Robert Balzola then went on to list a raft of Human Rights violations that the City of Greater Bendigo and the Australian Islamic Mission incorporated had committed against us.
This puts a whole new slant on the conduct of the Bendigo Council toward the residents of Bendigo and potential grounds for appeal to the Human Rights Commission to bring them to account for their abuse.
Furthermore, numerous other violations and breaches of the law were raised as well as the monumentally flawed and unacceptable documents contained in the planning file for the mosque.
The performance and conduct of the council and the councilors was raised as well as the pecuniary interests of a number of current councilors in direct connection to the mosque development.
It was raised that these same councilors did not refrain from voting as they are meant to do when the mosque permit was presented for approval at the public council meeting on the 18th June 2014.
Again, do not believe anything that is presented in the media.
Your allegiance is to Australia. What don’t you get?
IT is not the fault of the Muslim children who walked out of a school assembly when the Australian national anthem was played.
It is entirely the fault of the misguided principal who offered the primary students the opportunity to walk out and who encouraged them to reject this quintessential expression of Australian identity, in the name of “diversity”.
This is not a “storm in a teacup” as one Muslim leader put it. Nor is it a test of this country’s “understanding of difference or tolerance”.
Singing Advance Australia Fair and raising the Australian flag are purely secular expressions of allegiance to this country. They do not conflict with religious expression.
To spurn this deeply symbolic public display of patriotism is a statement of disrespect and disloyalty, which implies a rejection of Australian values.
You would expect an Australian public school principal to understand this.
But, the principal of Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School, Cheryl Irving, claimed that her offer to the Years 2-6 students last week to boycott the national anthem was made out of “respect” for a Shiite Muslim religious observance.
Between October 13 and November 12, some Muslims observe the month of Muharram, to mourn the death of a grandson of Muhammad. The aim is to avoid “joyful events”.
Fair enough. But the national anthem doesn’t have to be a joyful event, unless it’s sung after the Wallabies beat the All Blacks at Twickenham.
And if 30 or 40 Muslim students did not want to sing, they could have stood to attention respectfully as the anthem was being played.
In any case, senior Shiites such as Musa Naqvi, president of the oldest Shi’a Muslim group in Victoria, the Panjtan Society, have said there was no religious necessity to avoid the anthem.
Where does it stop, this endless demand for special treatment by groups who hold themselves exempt from Australian culture and tradition.
This is the poison of Leftist multiculturalism taken to an extreme where it threatens to divide the country.
The excuse from the Victorian Department of Education is the school supports “diversity” because many students were born overseas and more than half don’t speak English at home.
Well, that’s the story of Australia. We have become one of the world’s most harmonious immigrant nations because we have absorbed people of different races, cultures and creeds who have come here to become Aussies. We have benefited from the “hybrid vigour” that immigration brings and the Australian identity has adapted and been enriched.
We are a secular nation. But the values that made Australia a free, prosperous, fair democracy, that migrants strive to join, come from the Judaeo-Christian foundations which underpin Western civilisation. This is the origin of our democracy, rule of law, equality of every human being, and freedom of speech, conscience and religion.
The alternative value system you will find in Saudi Arabia, where women are stoned to death for adultery.
It is precisely because Cranbourne is so linguistically and culturally diverse that the national anthem and the flag are so important. If public schools don’t assert Australian values, it is certain that someone else’s values will prevail.
But you just have to look at the new national school curriculum, instituted ironically enough, under a supposedly conservative Abbott government, to see how the Left’s long march through the institutions continues unabated.
In the Years 7-10 curriculum, Christianity makes just two appearances, (compared to “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander” appearing 14 times).
Even then it’s not in any meaningful way. In year 8 the curriculum for Civics and Citizenship, for instance, will teach just: “The values and beliefs of religions practised in contemporary Australia, including the Christian traditions of Australian society”.
In the History syllabus in years 7-10 you get one mention: “the transformation of the Roman world and the spread of Christianity and Islam”, along with a reference to the Crusades and the “dominance of the Catholic Church” in Medieval Europe, which is sure to be flattering to Christianity — not.
There seems to be a worrying cultural and spiritual vacuum in our public schools, in which cultural relativism rules.
As Kim Beazley, our ambassador to the United States, points out, Australia has a much worse problem of young jihadis running off to join terrorist armies than America does.
He suggests that Australia’s brand of multiculturalism fosters the development of multiple identities which counter a strong national identity. And he has described the values in our education system as “good but amorphous”.
Conversely, in America, “you are an American first … you don’t have other ideas,” he said in a recent interview.
In almost every US state, children stand with a hand over their heart every morning and cite the pledge of allegiance as the flag is raised, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Rather than bending over backwards to make exemptions for those who want to opt out of unifying national rituals, we should do the opposite and emulate this daily pledge of allegiance to Australia in every school.
Otherwise, into a vacuum, something sinister will likely rush.
Online Lefties slam Abbott's speech about dubious "refugees"
FORMER prime minister Tony Abbott has been accused of “embarrassing Australia” at prestigious gathering in London, where he urged European nations to turn back refugees fleeing the war torn Middle East.
Delivering the Margaret Thatcher lecture in London on Tuesday night, Mr Abbott warned of the “catastrophic error” Europe was making in its readiness to take in refugees from war-torn countries, offering his government’s tough boat-stopping strategy as an experience that “should be studied”.
Though the conservative crowd cheered the deposed leader, Abbott’s online audience hasn’t been so kind.
Greens Senator and asylum seeker advocate Sarah Hansen-Young was one of the first to distance herself from our former PM advocating anti-immigration message abroad. “Tony Abbott still making a fool of himself and embarrassing Australia,” she wrote on Twitter. “His obsession with pushing people in need away is beyond belief.”
And she wasn't the only one critical of Abbott’s harsh words.
Abbott’s repetition of his government’s achievements like stopping the boats and repealing the carbon tax — phrases Australians have grown tired of hearing him rattle off — were also targeted on social media.
Mr Abbott’s uncharacteristic departure from his Christian values — namely, his criticism of other Western countries’ “love thy neighbour” approach to welcoming asylum seekers — has also angered Catholic priests.
A former Bishop told Fairfax he was astounded and appalled by Abbott’s use of Bible passages to preach such a “hard-hearted” approach to refugees. “I’m ashamed that a former Australian PM would be putting out a message like this,” retired Bishop Pat Power said.
“People will make their own judgments but that’s completely at odds with what’s at the heart of Christianity. I’m certainly offended.”
In the interest of balance, news.com.au searched for, but struggled to find, praise of Mr Abbott’s speech in social media comments.
There was one positive comment from Melbourne-based Briton Antonia Mocham: “Only good thing about the Abbott speech is that no-one in Europe seems to have noticed it happened.”
Freedom of speech and rigorous debate no longer accepted in practice at Australian universities
OUR universities do not sit in some sort of moral or ethical vacuum and so changes at these institutions have ripple effects into broader society. One only needs to look at the sexual revolution or the anti-Vietnam War movement to see the influence that universities have over the wider world.
This is why change away from an acceptance of freedom of speech at our universities is so concerning.
My experience as a student magazine editor for the past year has shown me that freedom of speech no longer has de facto acceptance on campus. Universities are no longer a place of inquiry or rigorous debate. Academic censorship is rife.
Take Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish environmentalist who sought to establish a research centre at the University of Western Australia and Flinders University. At both institutions he has faced resistance form students who staged protests and leveraged their student bodies to prevent such a centre from being established.
Their rationale? They do not agree with his findings and they’re not prepared to engage in debate.
Lomborg’s situation is strikingly similar to that of Galileo when he posited that Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice-versa. The church was not willing to hear out the argument and simply cast Galileo out.
If anything exemplifies the dangers of academic censorship it is the case of Galileo. How do we expect our society to advance when new ideas cannot be discussed because of an unwillingness by some precious, self-centred students?
These same students also want to limit free expression by mandating the use of “trigger warnings”, as well as censoring books they find uncomfortable or challenging. A “trigger warning” is a device that has emerged in the past two decades that seeks to warn a reader where a post traumatic reaction may be induced based on the content.
This has gone from warning of a discussion about rape to now including things such as ‘‘how many calories are in a food item’’ and “drunk driving’’. The discussion of these things doesn’t actually harm anyone, it’s just that students now demand to live in a cotton-wrapped world.
Great works such as The Great Gatsby, Metamorphoses and Mrs Dalloway have been banned from university reading lists simply because some self-absorbed students find the content emotionally challenging and upsetting.
Seemingly anything that infringes on a student’s apparent “right” to feel comfortable is cast out and banned from campus (including Mexican themed parties).
Further, the attitudes of the ever-increasing number of “social justice warriors” towards those who they disagree with is creating an environment that is not conducive to the exercise of speech, of free thought, and of debate.
You risk being labelled “fascist scum” if you happen to be of conservative ilk or simply opposed to communism or radical feminism. If you seek to express a view that doesn’t conform to that espoused by the revolutionary socialist groups on campus, then you are “racist”.
Don’t support gay marriage? You’re “homophobic”. Not a fan of unisex toilets? “Transphobic”. Radical, self-obsessed students have initiated this massive smear campaign against any opponents and in doing so they have significantly shifted the threshold, at least on campus, of these terms.
Naturally, people don’t like to be labelled as “racist” or “homophobic” and so the liberal use of these terms by these radicals is only shutting down speech and debate.
I simply ask: How would Galileo get on in today’s university?
My bet is that he would be driven out by an angry horde, upset that a “cis gendered”, heterosexual white male had dared to challenge the view of an oppressed, incredulous minority without even so much as including a trigger warning.
Who cares about deregulation? The real issue at our universities is the erosion of freedom of speech.
28 October, 2015
A dark hour for Zeg?
As regular readers here know, I a great fan of conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG. I like his drawing and I like his thinking. Below is an email he has sent to people he knows. Despite his illness he has still managed to draw a cartoon to go with it. I certainly would be grieved to lose him, his talent and his grateful heart -- JR
Please forgive me if I may have already told you the following news. You see the anti seizure drugs that I have been on for the last 5 months, plus almost daily absence seizures, have created for me a short term memory that lasts me about 7 days. It is likely that in a few days I will probably not remember sending this email to you. I guess too that my memory of this email will determine the true success of the Procedure that I am about to undertake.
I have serious medical emergency at present. I have an Aneurysm and AVM (Arteriovenous malformation) deep within my brain and it is so deep that it is almost inoperable. I can expect a very risky 8 hour operation to take place this Thursday at The Royal North Shore Hospital, thus I won't be able to communicate with you after that time, let alone draw anything for probably a month. That's only assuming firstly that I survive the procedure and or if I'm still have the physical/mental ability to do so.
My surgeon has not beat around the bush on this issue with me and neither shall I with you. The list of permanent damage as a result of the surgery is quite long. Everything from paralysis to blindness, from cognitive recognition disorder to personality disorder and several other dysfunctions. The alternative to doing nothing is pretty obvious thus I have not reluctantly agreed to the operation.
Obviously it's a frightening time personally and for my family BUT confidence is still very high due to the incredible skill of my neurosurgeon. I am correctly informed that Dr Assaad is the best in the country when dealing with this type of surgery. Plus my strong will to survive and finish the work I must yet do here, so please don't write me off as I am certainly not planning on going anywhere yet!
When I am back online so to speak, this 48 year old father of three of the most wonderful children a man could ever hope for, Danica, Marko & Georgia, intends to continue a purposeful life of being a good Father and partner to my Bridget, as well my goal of being an editorial cartoonist full-time. To continued the fight for freedom, justice, fairness and to preserve and make better our way of life for future generations.
My beautiful, loving fiance, Bridget Cornwell has full access to my email & Facebook account and your names in particular and she will be keeping you all up to date with any news, good or bad.
Now I know it sounds gloomy and maybe a little self indulgent too, but really the risk here is not to be underestimated and that is why I have decided to let you all know about it whilst I still can. It's a blessing that I am now able to thank you all, friends and followers of my work alike, for your love, support, kindness, generosity, guidance and inspiration throughout the years. I wish I had the time to individually address this email to you each but please know that I have selected YOU from all of my friends with this personal note and I am sure that you know and remember the special connection that we have. I consider everyone of you a Super Star in your own way and I am blessed & the better for having shared a connection with you in whatever way that has been. I value the great times and the sad times we have had, the great chats and interactions between you all.
I'll sign off for now and I truly hope to speak with you all again soon. If I cannot do that then please know this, I believe in the after life and I will always be around in some way. Please continue your fight for freedom and democracy. Always stand up and be heard and never be afraid of political correctness when it comes to stating your mind. Always challenge the Cultural Marxists and any Ethos or Ideology that would threaten your way of life and our wonderful Australia and its traditions. Preserve our unique culture and our language. Keep our borders strong.
Remember always that we inherited this great gift of freedom and democracy from the generations before us -- thus it is our responsibility, NAY, our duty to ensure that the next and future generations inherit not only what we have now but an even better and more secure freedom. I don't need to remind you that we live in troubled times and that our enemies are within and without so please be vigilant and take care..
It would be remiss of me to not single out just a few of you but one particular man that I should be at the top of my list of people to thank for their support, encouragement, respect and love and that man has already crossed over. I bet you know who I am talking about.....The Late and always Great,STAN ZEMANEK.
Stanley Zemanek is responsible for the spark that lit the way forward for me and I just cannot see how I would be a Cartoonist today if not for him. If not for Stan, I would not have met most of you, such great friends and supporters as, Prof. John Ray, Keith Windschuttle, Roger Fletcher, Ron Manners, Gina Rinehart, John & Peter Brennan & Glenn Daniel, to name a few.
Stan also nurtured my passion for good Talk Back Radio, which in turn led me to such great friendships with the likes of Jason Morrison, Marcella Zemanek, Prue Macsween, Mark Kennedy, Mike Williams and Jim Ball.
I would also like to thank the support of those of the 4th Estate (Print Division) who actually bothered to not only attempt to help me but who actually replied to my emails in the first place. Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine, Piers Akerman, Rebecca Weisser and Andrew Bolt.
Believe it or not, there are some mighty fine Politicians out there also, who do give a stuff about freedom of speech and in no particular order, I would like to commend Cory Bernardi, Mathias Cormann, George Christensen and Dominic Perrottet. These gentlemen of Parliament, have all done a great deal of service to me by expanding my profile in the media & social media marketplace, in what is basically a Leftist Stronghold.
I can't close without mentioning the trustworthy, longterm and the constant supportive friendship of Steve "NOZ" Panozzo (my cartoonist brother in arms), as well as my constant great companions throughout my Security Career, Mark Paton and Tony Tsitsos. During my short time within the NSW Police Force, two men will always remain my best of friends, Paul Smith & Ken Burrows.
Please don't feel left out if I haven't mentioned your name. I just don't have enough time right now and in fact writing is a very tiresome task for me at present. I have been working on this letter for about 2 hours. Just know that if you received this email that you are one of the few that I have singled out in my mind as the most special of all of my good friends, due to your support, kindness & generosity to me and my family.
Please LOVE EACH OTHER because in the end that's all that we really have.
WHO "research" showing bacon and red meat cause cancer ‘a farce’, says Australia’s Agriculture Minister (Rightly)
Barnaby makes some reasonable comments but much more could be said. This is an old scare and in my years as a health blogger I followed each research finding on the question as it came out. Every single study was flaky, mostly being the usual stupid epidemiological nonsense that flew in the face of the basic statistical dictum, "Correlation is not causation". Even obvious confounds such as social class were not allowed for, and would mostly account for the findings.
And the report below simply takes all that at face value. Utter rubbish.
To make it worse the study is a meta-analysis. And you can't critique those in detail unless you go back over every single thing they did. And sometimes you need to. I know of several meta-analyses which were blatantly crooked -- excluding from consideration findings that did not suit the authors' preconceptions, for instance.
And the WHO IS crooked. It can be bought. And some environmental organizations have a lot of money. I will say no more on that.
Meta-analyses can have merit. The Cochrane studies are a case in point. But the Cochrane analyses systematically exclude all dubious findings -- often ending up with a very small number of studies being considered as having value. The study below analysed over 800 studies, making it clear that Cochrane rigor was not applied to the input of the study. The study can be summarized by an old computer dictum: "Garbage in; Garbage out"
BACON lovers all over the world are reeling from the news that too much processed meat can increase the risk of cancer. But none will be more surprised by the appetite-killing research than the world’s oldest woman, who credits her longevity on a daily helping of bacon.
116-year-old American Susannah Mushatt Jones, the official Guiness World Record holder, even had bacon on her 116th birthday cake, along with chicken drumsticks — her other favourite food.
The healthy centenarian is a living contradiction to an evaluation of more than 800 studies from several continents linking meat and cancer, that saw the WHO classify processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” — in the same category as cigarettes — and red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Australia’s Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce, who is clearly Team Susannah when it comes to meat consumption, has labelled the link “a farce”.
The outspoken Nationals MP told ABC radio the report was being blown out of proportion. “I don’t think we should get too exited that if you have a sausage you’re going to die of bowel cancer. You’re not,” he said. “What obviously is part of this is that you should have a balanced diet.”
Mr Joyce knocked back claims that some Australians were consuming a dangerous quantity of processed or red meat. “A lot of people don’t have bacon every day. If you got everything the WHO says is carcinogenic and took it out of your diet, well you're heading back to a cave,” he said.
“If you were going to avoid everything that has any correlation with cancer then don’t walk outside, don’t walk the streets in Sydney. There’s going to be very little in life that you actually do in the end.”
The agricultural minister also argued encouragement of a vegetarian only diet would “completely change” the agriculture industry.
Meat industry groups have also protested the classification, arguing that cancer is not caused by specific foods but by several factors, Associated Press reports.
The WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer findings stated just 50 grams a day — the equivalent of around one sausage or two slices of ham — can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.
Health experts have also weighed in, warning meat eaters not to go overboard heeding warnings.
“This decision doesn’t mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat,” said Tim Key, an epidemiologist at Cancer Research UK. “But if you eat lots of it, you may want to think about cutting down.
“You could try having fish for your dinner rather than sausages, or choosing to have a bean salad for lunch over a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich).” Nutritionist Elizabeth Lund from Norfolk in England said obesity and lack of exercise were a far bigger cancer risks.
“Overall, I feel that eating meat once a day combined with plenty of fruit, vegetable and cereal fibre plus exercise and weight control, will allow for a low risk of CRC,” she said, referring to colorectal cancer.
“It should also be noted that some studies have shown that if meat is consumed with vegetables or a high-fibre diet, the risk of CRC is reduced.”
Defeats loom for Qld. ALP
WE are getting down to the wire now. The minority Palaszczuk Government is teetering on the brink.
It faces an embarrassing defeat on the floor of the Parliament over two key election pledges — the end of sandmining on North Stradbroke Island and the proposed 1am lockout for pubs and clubs.
Disgraced Member for Cook Billy Gordon is planning to join the Katters and the LNP in a plot to defeat Labor on both issues.
Cairns-based Gordon believes the proposed lockout does not suit pubs and clubs in far north Queensland. Tourism chiefs in coastal towns and cities agree.
I have some sympathy for Labor’s lockout plans which aimed to combat alcohol-fuelled violence. Teenagers need to be protected from their own excesses.
A defeat on lockouts would be an especially galling for maxillofacial surgeon Anthony Lynham who successfully stood for Parliament for the Labor Party on a platform of curbing drunken violence.
A defeat of lockout laws would undoubtedly leave him feeling betrayed, and perhaps wondering whether Parliamentary duty is worth it.
Defeats in the House will also signal a crumbling of Palaszczuk’s authority.
Palaszczuk is now walking the tightrope.
Under attack for having no plan to fix severe traffic jams and criticised for the chronic bed shortages at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, the ALP is struggling to keep its head above water.
There are no guarantees this Labor Government will survive.
Labor’s job is tougher now Turnbull is PM, Jason Clare admits
Labor frontbencher Jason Clare has conceded the switch from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull made the opposition’s job “harder”, as he insisted the Prime Minister was better than his predecessor because he “speaks in full sentences” and “doesn’t eat raw onions”.
Amid calls for a new bipartisan approach to policies and after the China free trade deal finally passed parliament this week, Mr Clare said the public wanted to strip out some of the so-called “Abbottisation” of Australian politics.
“The switch from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull makes our job harder, no doubt about it, we are the underdog,” Mr Clare said on Sky News’s Australian Agenda program.
“No federal party has lost a federal election from government and returned to government in one term in 85 years.
“But I suspect that because Malcolm Turnbull is different to Tony Abbott, better than Tony Abbott in many respects — he speaks in full sentences, doesn’t eat raw onions — he is going to make us a better opposition and in turn will make us a better government.”
Mr Clare, who is the opposition’s communications spokesman, said he wasn’t concerned by Bill Shorten’s low popularity levels despite the latest Newspoll showing the Opposition Leader is on 19 per cent as preferred prime minister compared to Mr Turnbull’s 57 per cent.
“You often see the best of people in government; it’s when they’re in positions of power that you see what people are really worth. “Tony Abbott’s a good example of that. He was a very effective opposition leader, he was a less than impressive prime minister.”
Mr Clare said both Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten should be “rewarded” for working together on the China FTA and suggested the opposition and government collaborate on changes to superannuation tax concessions next.
“If the parties retreat into their corners then both will be punished for it,” Mr Clare said.
“What we’re seeing here is a prime minister in Malcolm Turnbull who is popular by virtue of the fact that he has replaced somebody that was incredibly unpopular. He’s been rewarded for removing a very unpopular prime minister. And a bit like a sort of a reality TV star, a Kim Kardashian or a Paris Hilton, he’s popular for doing nothing, nothing yet.”
Newspoll: True measure of Labor’s fall as Coalition surges on PM’s gains
Malcolm Turnbull’s massive lead as the preferred PM grew further, while Bill Shorten fell to his worst result of 17 per cent
Bill Shorten’s standing with voters has tumbled to his lowest level as Malcolm Turnbull’s support hits new highs and the Coalition enjoys its strongest lead in two-party terms in almost two years.
The latest Newspoll, taken exclusively for The Australian, reveals the Coalition leads Labor by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in two-party terms, having regained its lead after the parties were deadlocked at 50-50 a fortnight ago.
Mr Turnbull’s massive lead as the preferred prime minister grew further, with his support leaping to 63 per cent while Mr Shorten fell to his worst result of 17 per cent.
The Coalition’s primary vote rose two points to 45 per cent over the past fortnight to be at its highest since November 2013 and almost back at the 45.6 per cent achieved in its 2013 election victory. It is up six points since Mr Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister last month.
Labor’s primary vote is 10 points lower than the government at 35 per cent. After falling four points, it has been steady at this level for the three Newspolls since Mr Turnbull won the leadership, despite an Ipsos/Fairfax poll last week saying it had fallen to a historic low of 30 per cent.
Newspoll shows weaker support for the Greens, which fell one point to 11 per cent, while other minor parties and independents also fell one point to 9 per cent.
Despite Labor’s personal attacks on the Prime Minister investing his fortune in the Cayman Islands, the Coalition and Mr Turnbull have emerged with a surge in support after the first fortnight of parliament with the new ministry in place.
The poll of 1606 voters shows Mr Turnbull’s support as better prime minister jumped six points to a six-year high of 63 per cent and is 26 points higher than Mr Abbott’s final result.
Mr Shorten’s 17 per cent is down two points in the past fortnight and he has suffered a 24-point plunge since the change of Liberal leader.
It is the lowest result for any opposition leader since Mr Turnbull posted support of 14 per cent in November 2009 in the days before he was replaced by Mr Abbott.
Newspoll also reveals a 67-point gap has opened between the net satisfaction ratings for the leaders, with Mr Turnbull enjoying a rare positive score of 35 points while Mr Shorten’s ranking has slumped to minus 32 points.
Satisfaction with Mr Turnbull’s performance as Prime Minister rose eight points to 58 per cent while dissatisfaction with his performance fell two points to 23 per cent.
Both figures are the best for any prime minister since 2009.
Mr Turnbull’s net satisfaction rating (the difference between those who are satisfied and those who are dissatisfied with his performance) improved from 25 to 35 points and is the best figure for a leader since October 2009. Satisfaction with Mr Shorten’s performance as Opposition Leader fell two points to his record low of 26 per cent as his dissatisfaction level climbed five points to 58 per cent. His net satisfaction rating deteriorated from minus 25 to minus 32 points.
During the past fortnight, Labor and the Coalition struck a deal to pass the China-Australia free-trade agreement before the end of the year after months of arguing about labour market protections.
The government’s major policy announcement since the last poll was the release of its response to the financial system inquiry by David Murray, where it vowed to give people more choice about their superannuation arrangements and cut credit card surcharges.
Labor’s political strategy to combat Mr Turnbull’s political honeymoon was a concerted attack that his money was invested in the Cayman Islands to paint the Turnbull-led Liberals as weaker than Labor on corporate tax avoidance.
Labor frontbencher and former silk Mark Dreyfus asked questions to Mr Turnbull using the phrases “notorious tax haven” and “profit shifting and tax evasion” and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said the Prime Minister’s investments were beyond the hopes of “ordinary people” and he was “extraordinarily out of touch”.
The opposition dropped the attacks after facing criticism, but ALP strategists insisted it had worked as a long-term strategy.
Mr Turnbull told parliament he had worked hard and had a lot of luck but he fully paid tax in Australia and had used offshore arrangements to avoid conflicts of interest. “If the honourable member wants to go around wearing a sandwich board saying ‘Malcolm Turnbull’s got a lot of money’, feel free — I think people know that,” he said.
27 October, 2015
Public hospital chaos in Queensland
The building of this hospital was essentially a Qld. Labor party stunt to divert attention from failings elsewhere in the system. There was nothing wrong with the existing hospitals that a few upgrades could not fix. It was known from the beginning that Cilento would would be problematical as it had fewer beds than the hospitals it replaced
Problems at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital have sparked an urgent meeting between doctors and the Queensland government as the health minister hints at a funding boost.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Chris Zappala said the government needed to listen to doctors calling for more beds and administration fixes at the under-fire hospital.
"We need to accept that they're going to need more space, a little bit more money and definitely more time, to get things working properly," he said. "If we listen to the clinicians and don't try to cover up the problems, the potential solutions will become obvious."
Dr Zappala called for more beds, especially in the intensive care unit, better booking and administrative processes and a fix to the food and parking situation at the $1.5 billion facility.
"I think everyone accepts there's a problem," he said. "It's accepting as to what the nature of the problems are and where effort needs to be best expended to solve things."
Heading into a Cabinet meeting on Monday morning, News Corp reported Health Minister Cameron Dick said he had been concerned about the hospital for some time.
"At my direction, the Department of Health has been working with the hospital on securing a proper funding base for the hospital for the future," he said. "And I hope to say a little bit more about that in the near future."
A review into the hospital released in August found its opening should have been delayed six weeks to ensure it was ready.
Further problems emerged following the review with reported complaints of infant deaths and delayed surgeries.
Senior paediatrician Kate Sinclair spoke in September of admin staff being forced to work in the kitchen or being sent home because there was no space.
Muslim children walk out when national anthem is sung
And the Leftist State government supports that
A VICTORIAN primary school has been criticised for allowing Muslim children to walk out of assembly while the national anthem was sung.
Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School says a religious month of mourning is the reason Islamic children are able to opt out of singing or listening to the anthem.
Lorraine McCurdy, who has two grandchildren at the school, told 3AW she was furious when school officials invited students to leave during Advance Australia Fair. “Two children got up and said `welcome to our assembly’ with that a teacher came forward and said all those who feel it’s against their culture may leave the room,” Ms McCurdy said. “With that about 30 or 40 children got up and left the room. “We sang the national anthem and they all came back in.
“I saw red, I’m Australian and I felt ‘you don’t walk out on my national anthem, that’s showing respect to my country.”
Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie also hit out at the school, which promotes the ethos of ‘Many Cultures, One Community.’
“I find that absolutely devastating, we should all be singing the Australian national anthem and we should be doing that with pride,” Senator Lambie said. “That’s part of us.
“I find these schools that are allowing this to happen disgusting. “I don’t think religion needs to be brought into the national anthem. “We should all be proud to be Australians and proud to sing the national anthem”
Principal Cheryl Irving said during the month of Muharram Shi’a Muslims do not take part in joyous events, such as listening to music or singing, as it was a period of mourning.
“Muharram is a Shi’a cultural observation marking the death of Imam Hussein,” Ms Irving said. “This year it falls between Tuesday October 13 and Thursday November 12.
“Prior to last week’s Years 2-6 assembly, in respect of this religious observance, students were given the opportunity to leave the hall before music was played. “The students then rejoined the assembly at the conclusion of the music.”
Kuranda Seyit, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said he understood the school’s sentiments but called on more flexibility.
“I’m a Sunni Muslim myself but I understand Shi’a sensitivities and for them this is a very holy time,” Mr Seyit said. “It’s a time when they are encouraged to reflect on the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and abstain from all forms of celebrations.
“However for young children I think things like these should be assessed on their merits and a balance found.
“People need to remember that these Muslim children are not against the Australian national anthem but are not allowed to be deemed to be celebrating. “Maybe there could be a bit more flexibility.”
In a statement, the Department of Education said it supported the school. “The Department supports our schools to be inclusive for all students, this includes understanding or respecting religious cultural observances.
“From 2016, the new Victorian curriculum will include new subjects such as respectful relationships, world views and ethical understanding, helping to build more inclusive schools and communities.”
Climate change is more important than union corruption?
The ALP thinks so -- in a desperate attempt to help their crooked friends
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has accused Malcolm Turnbull of playing “wedge” politics over industrial relations reform and declared climate change, not union corruption, should be top of a new bipartisan agenda.
It comes after Bill Shorten yesterday hit back at the Prime Minister’s ultimatum that Labor pass laws to curb union corruption and power or face an election campaign waged on industrial relations, lashing out at Mr Turnbull for reheating “Tony Abbott’s union-bashing’’ exercise.
Mr Turnbull wants Labor to negotiate on industrial relations laws stalled in the Senate - the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, to monitor and promote standards of conduct in the building industry, and the Registered Organisations Bill to impose transparency on union officials.
But Mr Albanese also rejected Mr Turnbull’s pledge to put IR at the forefront of the next election unless Labor “comes to its senses”.
“That’s just a wedge in terms of the union movement,” Mr Albanese said on ABC radio.
“When we’ll take Malcolm Turnbull more seriously and what he should do, because he does believe in action on climate change, he is serious about that issue and he should be prepared to sit down with the Labor Party and talk about real action on climate change.
“Not the sort of action that (former employment minister) Eric Abetz and the sceptics approve of but doing something real in the interest of … I mean that’s the ultimate intergenerational issue.”
Mr Albanese, who is the opposition’s infrastructure and transport spokesman, said the government wanted the media to be talking about union corruption and the CFMEU rather than the “more important” issue of climate change.
“If Malcolm Turnbull is at all serious about long-term working in a bipartisan way, then that (climate change) has to be at the top of the agenda,” he said.
“The other issues that have worked quite well - and to give Tony Abbott credit he certainly tried to work with the opposition about – is reconciliation and advancing the recognition of the First Australians.”
The Opposition Leader, his deputy Tanya Plibersek and immigration spokesman Richard Marles will head to the Pacific islands for four days this week in a bid to put climate change back on the political agenda.
Opposition communications spokesman Jason Clare yesterday nominated changes to superannuation tax concessions as the next policy area the government and Labor work on together.
Labor party's booze restrictions could hit Qld tourism
Particularly in an international destination like Cairns
Embattled MP Billy Gordon says the Labor government's proposed lockout laws could have "relevance" for the south-east but are wrong for far north Queensland.
Mr Gordon and Katter's Australian Party MPs Rob Katter and Shane Knuth will reportedly block Labor's plans to reduce alcohol-related violence with 1am lockouts, 3am closing times and no shots after midnight.
The Member for Cook told the ABC he was open to compromise but after speaking to police, community services and nightclub owners he didn't think the legislation was right for the state's far north, particularly Cairns.
"Now I don't see why we need to start restricting or putting in place legislation that may have, I think, dire economic consequences," he said.
"But in saying that, it's a legislation that I think may have some relevance down here in the south-east corner of the state but right now I just can't see how this particular piece of legislation benefits far north Queensland."
Mr Gordon has been under intense pressure over a sexting scandal, which erupted just weeks after a police investigation into domestic violence allegations ended with no charges.
He'd previously quit the Labor party after failing to disclose his criminal history to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
The opposition has criticised the government for courting Mr Gordon's vote to get its proposed legislation across the line.
"It is a troubling thought that the Member for Cook has been put in a position by the Labor party, to have the ultimate say on laws that are passed in Queensland," Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek told News Corp.
Mr Gordon said there was an opportunity to compromise with the government over the laws, which he said didn't have a lot of evidence to support them working in the far north.
"I'm very open minded if the government want to come back and say look, perhaps we need to go back to the drawing board here to get this right, or get the balance right," he said.
"And I think there can be a coexistence between a government taking a really strong stand on anti-social, violent behaviour, when it comes to nightlife but it also has to be balanced with some practical approach that makes sure we don't cut up our nose to spite our face."
Minister for Communities Shannon Fentiman told reporters her government would continue to work with the crossbench over the issue.
26 October, 2015
The war on sugar -- another example of how governments are incompetent, careless and can't be trusted
For decades, officialdom condemned fat and salt in our diets. As contrary evidence piled up however, they have had to walk that back and the usual advice in 2015 is that LOW consumption of fat and salt is most likely to be harmful.
But control freaks have to have something to prove their wisdom by, apparently, so in the last year or two sugar has been made the big demon. It's utter nonsense, of course. These days sugar is in almost everything -- including fruit straight off the tree -- and we have all been consuming piles of it for decades. So are people dying like flies? Far from it. Lifespans have continued their upward rise.
And what about the effect on our waistlines? There is no way increased weight can be clearly tied to sugar consumption. To claim cause and effect is pure speculation. There have been all sorts of lifestyle changes in recent years and the sheer cheapness of food these days is actually the most likely culprit for "obesity". Within living memory it was a real worry for parents to put enough food on the table for their families, but big advances in agricultural practice, distribution (big supermarkets) and international trade have steadily brought real food prices down to the point where no-one in the developed world need go hungry. These days Oliver Twist can always have "More" if he wants it. And many people now DO want it.
After the about-face on fat and salt, I think that alone should make us cynical but there is also no good research backing up this latest fad. There is research but it is all flaky. I spent many years as a health blogger so I know what the evidence against sugar is: It is all either in vivo (rodent studies) or epidemiological. But rodent studies generalize poorly to humans and you CANNOT infer cause from epidemiological studies. If you want to know what rubbish is spouted in the name of epidemiology, grab John Brignell's little book: The Epidemiologists: Have They Got Scares for You!
IT’S becoming a public enemy up there with the likes of fat, salt and smoking.
Now a much-anticipated report has put sugar barons on notice, recommending a 10-20 per cent “sugar tax” on soft drinks and moves to limit the marketing and promotion of sugary foods to children.
Public Health England’s document has been more than a year in the making and has slammed the food-friendly environment that has left the UK bulging at the seams.
“The whole food environment and culture has changed slowly over the last 30 to 40 years. There are now more places to buy and eat food which is, in real terms, cheaper, more convenient, served in bigger portion sizes and subject to more marketing and promotions than ever before,” it said, adding that the continually expanding swath of restaurants, cafes and fast-food means simple labelling laws aren’t enough.
The public health body is calling for a 10-20 per cent tax on sugary drinks which are the main single source of sugar for school-aged children. It also wants to see a crackdown on marketing and promotions that target children directly, better labelling an overhaul of public facilities and messages like the “five a day” campaign to ensure they are cutting through.
“It is likely that price increases on specific high sugar products like sugar sweetened drinks, such as through fiscal measures like a tax or levy, if set high enough, would reduce purchasing at least in the short term,” the report said.
Sugar is becoming in the latest battleground in the fight against global obesity following on from fat and salt. It’s estimated to make up 12-15 per cent of UK diets, much of which is disguised in sauces, mayonnaise, cereals or alcohol. The public health body wants it cut back to less than five per cent in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines, to prevent a host of health problems from obesity to diabetes and dental decay which cost billions a year in healthcare.
But despite the high-profile support, the recommendations are unlikely to come into effect. A spokesman for UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would not support the idea. The British Soft Drinks Association director general Gavin Partington said they “recognise industry has a role to play in tackling obesity” but don’t believe it has had a significant impact.
In Australia, a recent survey found more than 80 per cent of people are in favour of a tax on sugary drinks which could earn the government $250 million a year to fight obesity. At present, almost two in three Australian adults are obese or overweight, with 10 per cent more obese people than 20 years ago, according to government statistics.
Nutritionist Susie Burrell said she would “absolutely” love to see a “junk tax” introduced in Australia that goes beyond sugar to cover fast food, confectionary and soft drinks.
“Isolating sugar is failing to look at the complexity of nutrition and the way people eat. Portion size and fried foods are just as big an issue as sugar is,” she told news.com.au. “Any scheme that would generate revenue to be used in the treatment of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease would be welcomed.”
“As sugar based drinks are closely related to weight gain and a number of disease risk factors it makes sense to tax these foods as a way to help pay for the enormous health costs associated with overweight and obesity in Australia.”
The department of health and Coca-Cola have failed to respond to requests for comment.
Is the Australian Liberty Alliance the next "One Nation"?
THE launch of an anti-Islam party in Australia has raised concerns about whether multiculturalism actually works.
Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders launched the Australian Liberty Alliance in Perth this week, promising to stop the Islamisation of Australia, as extremist groups like Islamic State stoke fears of terrorism and distrust within the community.
It’s not a unique development with Mr Wilders noting that “like-minded parties” were enjoying great success in Austria, Sweden, France and Switzerland.
Even in Germany, where many were recently pictured welcoming an influx of refugees from places like Syria and Iraq, there were fears of a far right resurgence in response.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has seen her approval rating drop to its lowest level since 2011 and there have been attacks on places housing refugees. A recent anti-immigration rally in the country attracted up to 20,000 people.
Earlier this year a headline in Germany’s weekly newspaper Der Spiegel asked the question: “Is the ugly German back?”
Australians could be asking the same question of themselves as anti-Islamic sentiment sees the re-emergence of divisive figures like Pauline Hanson. A recent Facebook post from the One Nation leader opposing “mosques, Sharia law, halal certification and Muslim refugees” was shared more than 25,000 times in just two days.
But despite the apparent growing public backlash, experts believe organisations like ALA will continue to appeal to just a small number of people, and that multiculturalism still enjoys wide support, especially in Australia.
“There will always be a segment of the community that is not happy with change,” Professor Andrew Markus told news.com.au
“We shouldn’t be surprised that there is a group in Australia opposed to cultural diversity and immigration but what makes Australia different is that the size of that minority is very small.”
Prof Markus of Monash University has been tracking changes in Australian attitudes towards immigrants and asylum seekers since 2007 as part of the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion Project. He said the last two surveys showed strong support for multiculturalism.
When asked whether multiculturalism was good for Australia, 84 per cent of Australians surveyed in 2013 agreed that it was, and 85 per cent agreed in 2014.
“It’s quite an amazing number and was consistent across Australia, it was hard to find anywhere in Australia, including those in rural areas, where support dropped much below 75 per cent,” Prof Markus said.
But the situation in Europe or even America was very different.
Prof Markus said a British study found 75 per cent its population wanted immigration reduced in 2014 but a comparable study in Australia found only 35 per cent believed immigration was too high.
Prof Markus said Australians saw multiculturalism as being good for the economy and for the integration of immigrants. “I think people understand and accept it’s who we are,” he said, adding that 45 per cent of the population had at least one parent born overseas.
He said he would be surprised ALA got much traction within the community, and this could also be a sign of the times.
“This country has undergone very significant change over the course of a generation,” Prof Markus said. “Young people today have grown up in a world very different to their parents,” and their attitude towards immigration or cultural diversity is likely to be “it’s life, this is it, get on with it”.
While this was not true for everybody, Prof Markus said the issues that were significant for their parents were not as prominent for their children.
Even though groups such as One Nation had managed to gain support in the 1990s, Prof Markus said that was 20 years ago and there had been a lot of water under the bridge since then.
“At its peak it got 22 per cent of the vote in the Queensland state election and since that time (leader) Pauline Hanson has struggled to get even one tenth of that,” he said.
UNSW Associate Professor Geoffrey Brahm Levey, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in Political Science, agrees that parties like the ALA only appeal to a small number of people, but he acknowledged that the group did reflect genuine concerns.
“There is a genuine problem within the Islamic and Muslim community with radicalisation ... and that naturally provokes anxiety among populations,” Prof Levey said.
“People are right to be concerned when they see members of the public act violently or unacceptably but the problem is a relatively small one.”
He said the overwhelming majority of the 300,000 plus Muslims in Australia had integrated into the community.
Some jokes are not allowed these days
I have myself joked about "poofter drinks" (mixed drinks) in my wicked past, so I know it was a joke
A MELBOURNE bar owner has “unreservedly apologised” after pub goers took offence at an apparently homophobic sign.
A menu board at Handsome Steve’s House of Refreshment, in Fitzroy, listed items such as “Lemonade of honour”, “Whine”, “Geelong premiership years” as well as “No poofter drinks”, reported the Herald Sun.
The bar’s Facebook page has been bombarded by angry comments after a group of customers complained about the sign hanging in the bar on Saturday night.
“Homophobia is alive and well in this business. Time for management to grow up,” wrote Nic Gwynne. “It's not edgy or cool to bring back being a homophobic bro. It's f**king boring. Try harder next time,” Taylor Di Pasquale added.
Owner Steve Miller said the sign had been up for seven years, was not meant to cause offence and people, including gay customers, found it hilarious. “If I’ve given offence to anybody, I unconditionally apologise. I unreservedly apologise,” Mr Miller told the Herald Sun.
Convener of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Justin Koonin, told news.com.au if it was a joke, it was in very poor taste. “What seems funny to one person can be most hurtful to another. It is important to think about the impact language can have on those who are most vulnerable.”
Koonin said taking down the sign was the right thing to do.
Health fund covers 88-year-old man for baby but not hip replacement
ELDERLY men are being sold health insurance that covers them for having a baby but not a hip replacement as private hospitals warn health fund exclusions have reached crisis point.
Taxpayers spend $6 billion a year subsidising private health insurance but the number of people who find their fund doesn’t cover their surgery has tripled in the last few years.
Just days after the consumer watchdog, the ACCC, set up an inquiry to put health funds through the wringer, a News Corp investigation has found many people are finding their health funds desert them when they need help.
Among the issues uncovered:
* More than half of all health fund members now have policies that include one or more restrictions on treatments like joint replacement, cardiac surgery or other treatments.
* Insurers are changing the types of procedures covered by policies after they are taken out without properly informing members.
* Health funds are signing people up to products that are inappropriate for their needs.
* Health fund brokers like iselect and Compare the Market are driving up the cost of health insurance by charging commissions as high as $800.
* The private health insurance ombudsman received a total of 3427 complaints in 2013-14, a 16 per cent increase on complaints the previous year.
St Vincents Health Care which runs nine hospitals in NSW, QLD and Victoria says the problems have to be fixed to stop public hospitals being overloaded.
The hospital groups’ chief executive Toby Hall says his hospitals find a handful of people every day have to be turned away because their health fund does not cover the procedure they need.
Time to fix the problem ... St Vincents Health Care chief executive Toby Hall says his hospitals have to turn people away every day
Time to fix the problem ... St Vincents Health Care chief executive Toby Hall says his hospitals have to turn people away every daySource:Supplied
“The scale of this issue is triple what it was in the past,” Hall says.
“It has become a regular thing, a few people a day are coming in either not understanding their cover or having being sold cover that is inappropriate.”
And he’s laying some of the blame on health fund brokers like iSelect and Compare the Market which are paid commissions to sign people up to products that turn out to be inappropriate.
Fifty-one-year-old Daren Robinson was told by insurance broker iSelect he could save $10 a month if he switched from AHM basic cover to HCF basic cover.
Last week he discovered while his old health fund would have covered the shoulder surgery he has booked for Monday, it is not covered by his new fund and he faces a bill for $9,500.
“I thought basic was basic, I thought I was getting the same deal,” he says.
Matt Cumming from iSelect said it always conducted a thorough analysis of a customers needs when selling insurance and would investigate the case.
Mr Hall says a regulator needs to oversee health fund brokers, they need to be fined if they sign people up to inappropriate products and be evicted from the marketplace if it continues.
And he says health funds can’t continue to justify seven per cent annual premium rises if they continue to cut the procedures they pay for without informing their members.
Private Healthcare Australia chief Dr Michael Armitage says the problems caused by exclusions in health fund policies are a “direct result” of the previous Labor Government’s means test on private health insurance.
“It has led inevitably, as it was always going to, an increasing number of people under financial pressure taking out policies with exclusions or front end deductibles,” he said.
Some of the problems health fund members presenting to St Vincent’s have encountered include:
* An 88-year-old man had to be turned away from the hospital recently because his new health fund product covered him for having a baby but not a hip replacement or ophthalmology.
* A 43-year-old woman had to pay $3,300 for her sinus surgery after she found her health fund covered tonsils and adenoids but not sinus surgery.
* A 37-year-old found her private health insurance covered her for the procedure to identify her condition (a sigmoidoscope) but not the procedure to fix the problem (a fissurectomy). She paid out of her own pocket.
* A 32-year-old female requiring gynaecological procedure had to pay for her surgery because her fund classified it as obstetrics even though Medicare does not.
* Many women with breast cancer have found they are covered for a mastectomy, but not post-mastectomy cosmetic surgery.
Medibank chief George Saviddes has blamed health fund comparator websites for pushing up the price of health cover claiming they charged commissions worth as much as $800 per policy.
News Corp understands the commissions charged are around 30 per cent of the policy’s price.
Commissions paid to these websites are funded from the insurers’ advertising budgets, which reportedly rose $90m between 2007 and 2012, consumer group Choice reports.
Consumer group Choice reviewed comparison sites and says the businesses denied commissions are linked with their product recommendations, but warns “the potential for conflicts of interest is still pretty clear”.
Compare the market spokeswoman wouldn’t reveal the commissions her organisation charges but claims they are “only a low percentage” of the product price.
“The reason health funds participate is it’s a particularly cost effective was of acquiring new members, television advertising is really expensive,” she says.
Matt Cumming from iSelect agreed health cover affordability was becoming an issue but in the last year most of the 130,000 people his group helped were looking at health fund policy features.
25 October, 2015
Australian Greens panicking over nanoparticles in food
This is typical of the way Greenies seize on low probability events and magnify them. There are some theoretical grounds for seeing nanoparticles as physically hazardous if breathed in but you don't breathe food in, you eat it. And the nano particles concerned are chemically the same as their equivalent larger particles so it is difficult to see different chemical effects from them
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand for many years claimed it was "not aware" and there was "little evidence" of manufactured nanoparticles in food because no company had applied for approval.
But in a Senate estimates hearing this week, FSANZ's chief executive Steve McCutcheon said it had known for years nanoparticles of approved food additives titanium dioxide and silica were in foods.
He said FSANZ commissioned a toxicology report a year ago, and is expecting to soon receive the results.
He said the regulator was talking about "new or novel" nanoparticles when it previously claimed it was not aware of its use in Australia's food stream.
"If [companies] start applying nanotechnology – including on approved food additives – and they start producing different effects, then they have an obligation under law to bring that forward to FSANZ for assessment," he said. "[Nano-titanium dioxide and nano-silica] are not novel compounds because they're [nanoparticles of] approved additives."
At the hearing, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert asked whether he was certain the two nanoparticles were not further manipulated to carry "new or novel" properties.
"We won't know until we've seen the (toxicology) report," he responded. "We can't guarantee anything, I mean, we're a food standards agency, we don't go testing, we haven't got those powers and so we rely on evidence gathered both here and around the world."
Fairfax Media exclusively reported last month that research commissioned by Friends of the Earth found potentially harmful nanoparticles in 14 popular products, including Mars' M&Ms, Woolworths white sauce and Praise salad dressing.
A human hair is about 100,000 nanometres wide. Nanoparticles are typically less than 100 nanometres. Nano-titanium dioxide boosts the whiteness in food and nano-silica is an anti-caking agent. Neither must be labelled on packaging as "nano".
Ms Siewert told Fairfax Media that FSANZ did not know whether the nanoparticles were being further modified to obtain "new or novel" properties, making them potentially unsafe to eat.
"The manufacturers are putting that in the product to have an effect. Otherwise, why bother? So FSANZ is finally saying, 'Oh, we should have a look at that... we should review those'," she said.
Under questioning, Mr McCutcheon said about 15 per cent of food-grade titanium dioxide and silica was made up of nanoparticles.
But 100 per cent of the silica in Nice 'N' Tasty Chicken Salt, Old El Paso Taco Mix, Moccona Cappuccino, Nestlé Coffee Mate Creamer, Maggi Roast Meat Gravy, and Woolworths Homebrand White Sauce were made up of nanoparticles, the Friends of the Earth research found.
"If we use their view that above 15 per cent nanoparticles is intentional, then only two out of 14 samples weren't intentionally using nanoparticles," said the group's emerging tech campaigner, Jeremy Tager.
"They also seem to be inferring that because titanium dioxide and silica have been approved as food additives, the nano forms are also safe. This directly contradicts the findings of regulators in Europe and FSANZ's sister agency the APVMA who have made it clear the safety of nanomaterials can't be inferred from bulk particles of the same chemicals."
Mr Tager said if FSANZ had commissioned a toxicology report, the products should not be on the market until they are proven safe.
Leading risk expert Andrew Maynard, from Arizona State University, said there were a small number of studies indicating nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and fumed silica could be more active in the body than otherwise thought.
"This does not mean that there is a significant risk to consumers. It may be the safety assessment moves from extremely safe to very safe, but we won't know until a lot more research has been done. This research is important, as people are being exposed to these materials," he said.
FSANZ has previously told federal parliament it was not aware of nanomaterials being used in food. It said it had not conducted testing or surveyed food makers and importers to determine whether nanoparticles were in food.
Teen arrested along with terror suspect freed on bail 'because he faces bigger risk of being radicalised INSIDE jail
A teenager who admitted importing hundreds of weapons from China has been released on bail after a Victorian judge heard he was at risk of radicalisation in prison.
Mehmet Azami, 19, had previously been linked to an alleged Anzac Day terror plot targeting police, but prosecutors told the County Court of Victoria he had no knowledge of the alleged plan.
Federal police in April opposed an initial bail application by Azami on the grounds he posed an unacceptable risk to the community.
But on Thursday they said the greater risk was he would become radicalised in custody.
'The concern is he's at greater risk of radicalisation and declining mental health in custody,' Detective Acting Sergeant Adam Folley told a pre-sentence hearing.
Prosecutor Andrew Doyle said Azami had imported 332 weapons, but only came to the attention of a counter-terrorism task force because he was recorded having a phone conversation with Harun Causevic, 18.
Causevic, Azami and Sevdet Besim, 18, of Hallam, were arrested on April 18 in pre-dawn counter terrorism raids.
Besim is the only one who faces a terror charge after charges against Causevic were dropped. Azami was never charged with terror offences.
'There's no evidence to indicate that the offender had any knowledge of the alleged intended actions of Mr Besim,' Mr Doyle said.
Lawyer Charlie Atlas, for Azami, told Judge Roy Punshon the teenager had no prior convictions and had 'fallen into' crime.
Mr Atlas said Azami had already served almost six months and called for a corrections or supervision order when the teenager is sentenced. 'He's effectively done his time on remand,' Mr Atlas said. 'He now deserves his chance at rehabilitation.'
Judge Punshon granted bail to Azami, who will return to court on December 15.
It comes amid recent reports ISIS-inspired extremists are preaching hate in some of Australia's toughest prisons.
According to The Daily Telegraph, at least 30 gang members residing in Goulburn jail in NSW, have engaged in warfare against 'infidel' that oppose their religious ideologies.
Home to Supermax, Goulburn jail houses some of Australia's most infamous and dangerous criminals.
Last month, a 'Lebanese' yard was reportedly made exclusively Muslim, with prison guards relocating all males who didn't identify as Islamic.
'Word on the street was most in that yard (had been radicalised) and they were going to take a hostage - one of the six Christians in the yard - and behead them,' a prison guard told The Daily Telegraph.
Labor racism won't play
At a forum earlier this year, a prominent Leftist economic commentator outlined his greatest fear that as the economy soured, politicians would shift the blame by reverting to the slogans and stereotypes of the White Australia era.
My response was that the notion of racism lurking latent in the nation's soul, ripe for electoral exploitation, did not match contemporary social and political reality. Diversity was not just a social phenomenon born of decades of non-discriminatory immigration policy.
More importantly, it was a family reality for millions of ordinary Australians who -- due to the high levels of intermarriage between different ethnic groups -- recoil from anti-immigrant sentiments promoting prejudice against family members.
I have been thinking about the commentator's statement after viewing the television ad produced by the Victorian Liberal Party criticizing the union opposition to the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).
The ad depicts a typical Australian -- and typically ethnically diverse -- suburban family. As Fairfax reported earlier this month, it shows an "Australian man on the couch with his arm around his Chinese girlfriend" while watching "union attack ads on TV with the man's parents."
When the girlfriend says that she didn't think Australians were racist, she is reassured by the mother that this is correct, and the father blames the Labor politicians who haven't stopped "some unions" from running a dog-whistle anti-Chinese campaign. It ends with the slogan: "Free trade is good for Australian jobs".
I take great heart from this ad that the days of White Australia are long behind us.
A century ago, politicians from all sides of politics strongly endorsed anti-Chinese and Protectionist sentiments - because there were lots of votes to be won by backing a White Australia. But times, attitudes, and Australian society have changed. Today, recalcitrant unions are called out as racist for endorsing throwback ideas that are no longer in tune with mainstream values.
Fears that politicians will resort to playing the race card are indeed exaggerated -- as is illustrated this week by the Federal Labor Party's capitulation on the ChAFTA deal. The racism of earlier times will simply not play politically in contemporary Australia for the simple reason that this is genuinely offensive to millions of Australian voters.
Same-sex push not about raising adoptions
The push by Victoria's Andrews government to force Catholic adoptions agencies to comply with its proposed same-sex adoption reforms is hardly about boosting the number of adoptions.
Adoption is meant to form new families for children who can't live with their birth parents. But adoption is very rare in Australia despite there being many children who could be adopted.
Last year were just 89 adoptions nationally from care - 84 of which were in NSW - despite more than 43,000 children living in care across the country. That's because adoption is taboo.
Instead of boosting adoptions, the Andrews government seems determined to use reform of the Adoption Act 1988 as a stalking horse for the anti-religion agenda of secular progressives.
That's why the Bill before Parliament also amends the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to eliminate protections for religious freedom and freedom of conscience in relation to adoption.
Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, says the reforms would force Catholic adoption agencies to choose between Catholic teaching or breaking the law.
But Minister for Equality Matthew Foley is unmoved. "Equality is not negotiable," he said. Apparently, both the Anglican and Uniting Churches in Victoria agree, and are supporting the proposed reforms -- thereby leaving their sisters and brothers in the Catholic Church high and dry.
Victorian Catholics had been hoping to win the same exemptions granted by the Keneally Government In 2010 when NSW legalised same-sex adoptions.
Linda Burney, former NSW Minister for Community Services, stated that faith-based organisations are "an integral part of our pluralist society and provide stability, security and guidance to many."
Ms Burney also affirmed same-sex couples continue to adopt children through NSW Community Services and Barnados.
The Victorian government is not so generous to faith-based organisations. Rather than risk violating the law, the most likely outcome of is that Catholic adoption agencies will close their doors for good.
Yet given the negligible numbers of adoptions in Victoria, it is hard to believe that the government's real concern is with securing the rights of same-sex couples to adopt through CatholicCare.
If it was, it would devote its energies to pursuing reform of its anti-adoption policies rather than corrupting the long-standing balance between the rule of law and freedom of religion.
23 October, 2015
Coalition same-sex marriage plan changed?
Dumped cabinet minister Eric Abetz has unleashed a blistering attack on a proposal to have the current Parliament vote in favour of same-sex marriage ahead of a 2017 plebiscite, describing it as a "thought bubble" and "ambush to boot".
And Senator Abetz, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, warned the idea would do nothing to heal the wounds caused by the September leadership spill.
The Coalition's most prominent advocate of gay marriage, Queensland backbencher Warren Entsch, wants the current Parliament to introduce and pass legislation which would legalise gay marriage but only be triggered by public approval in a plebiscite. Mr Entsch has discussed his idea, which includes mandating a plebiscite within 100 days of the next federal election, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is considering the proposal.
"I have said to him that I think we need to be looking at progressing this issue," Mr Entsch told the ABC.
"Generally a plebiscite was not generally binding. In this case, it would be binding and that would become law."
Under the leadership of former prime minister Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party decided in a marathon party room meeting to retain the traditional definition of marriage until the next election and hold a plebiscite after that, possibly in 2017.
Senator Abetz was dumped from his cabinet position and role as leader of the government in the Senate following Mr Turnbull's ascension to the prime ministership.
In an interview with the ABC on Thursday, Senator Abetz said pre-empting the result of the plebiscite was an attempt to override the party room's decision to maintain the Coalition's support for traditional marriage until the next election.
"It seems a bit of a thought bubble and an ambush to boot," he said.
"To try to force MPs to vote for legislation contrary to that is against that which the party room so overwhelmingly decided.
"Secondly I believe we'd get into uncharted waters and very complicated situations if we try to bind the next Parliament by a vote of this Parliament."
Senator Abetz said Mr Entsch had put Mr Turnbull, who supports gay marriage, in a "very difficult situation" by proposing the idea.
"It is not the actions, if I might say, that will help unity...which will help to heal some of the wounds of that which has happened over recent weeks," he said.
Queensland Liberal National senator Matt Canavan also expressed concerns about the idea of a current Parliament dictating a future one. "I think it has some merit however I have concerns about how one Parliament could bind a future Parliament," he told Fairfax Media.
"I will respect the view of the Australian people whatever that view may be in the plebiscite but I don't pretend I can impose that view on a future elected member of Parliament."
And Liberal backbencher Bob Baldwin, who was also dumped from the frontbench, lambasted the idea.
The boom that’s sweeping Australia: why beef is the next iron ore
IT’S been a long time since Charles Wooley saw so many farmers with huge smiles from ear to ear. The veteran reporter has grown rather more accustomed to telling stories about hard times on the land — the droughts, the tears, the uncertainty.
But on 60 Minutes on Nine on Sunday night, Wooley uncovered the new boom sweeping Australia that’s leaving cattle farmers very rich and very, very happy. Beef is being hailed as the new iron ore, as Indonesia and the rapidly expanding Chinese market drive up demand for our cattle.
And that demand — coupled with favourable grazing conditions — is turning Top End livestock stations into multi-million dollar businesses. It’s even been tipped to be as big as the minerals boom.
Wooley told news.com.au he couldn’t remember the last time he saw so much optimism in rural Australia. “Farming in Australia, especially in the outback, is where the heartbreak is. It destroys families, it destroys lives, it destroys fortunes. Only the banks survive. But suddenly there’s some good news,” he said.
“I haven’t seen such optimism across the Top End for a long time. The Top End has done it very tough and suddenly Asia can’t get enough beef. Everybody is delighted. And that’s nice to report back.”
Australian farmers are selling Brahman cattle for about a thousand dollars each, and about 400,000 have to be produced for Asia between now and Christmas.
Not surprisingly, smart money is jumping into the livestock industry, including advertising baron Harold Mitchell, whose West Australian cattle station, Yougawalla, is a whopping 1.4 million hectares — bigger than some European countries.
Wolley went out to visit the remote station, which Mitchell bought in 2008. “In 2008 he had 2000 cattle, and you can see how much the market has grown because he’s now running 45,000 and in the next few years he plans to get to 80,000,” Wooley said.
“The carrying capacity is enormous in the Kimberley because we’re not into the wet (season) yet, we’re coming out of the dry, and there’s more feed than the cattle can eat.
“The thing that had made life difficult there was water, but the technology to pull water up from 18 metres down is much better now. It doesn’t cost Harold anything, he’s got solar pumps and they just constantly pumping away using the sun. There are watering points everywhere.”
Mining moguls are following suit. Gina Rinehart recently outbid global and domestic interest in Western Australia’s iconic Fossil Downs cattle station, which was believed to be bought for $30 million, while Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest expanded his pastoral interests in August with the purchase of two stations near Carnarvon.
“The big dough is getting in on it and they say it will be bigger than the mineral boom,” Wooley said. “Actually, because of that, our national herd next year will be at the lowest numbers it’s ever been.
“So there’s your problem — do you retain the herd in order to breed more, or do you go for the money while it’s available? Because you never know what will happen, with the cruelty allegations and the closing down of the live trade. There’s always a wildcard in there so I think people are saying let’s sell while we can.
“The shortfall then works its way up the market, and that’s why you’re paying so much for beef in Sydney. But that beef is not the same kind of meat.”
Australians generally consider Brahman beef too tough to eat — as Wooley points out, any attempt to barbecue it turns it as tough as leather in moments. But Asian consumers love it for slow cooking.
Wooley said the big question was whether there was room for smaller family farms to cash in on the demand, or if the boom would only benefit big, corporate farming.
He met one couple who have managed to elbow their way in — Damian and Kirsty Forshaw, whose station occupies a strip from the edge of the Sandy Desert to the Indian Ocean.
“The Forshaws are very happy folk,” he said. “They’re a lovely family and theirs is only a little family farm — it’s only a half million acres (200,000 hectares), which is small by Kimberley standards, but it’s still bloody huge. They’ve got 5000 cattle but that’s worth millions.
“They got into (cattle farming), lying awake at night worrying about the bank, and all the years of stress and strain, and suddenly things appear good for them and that’s nice.”
But will the good times last? Wooley said the live cattle export issue could complicate matters, and a lot was riding on Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.
And we have seen things go belly-up with the resources boom. “I’ve reported rural affairs over the years and it’s like mining, it’s either boom or bust — going gangbusters or getting burnt,” Wooley said.
“Drought doesn’t help but we don’t seem to be having a dough in the Kimberley, but I wouldn’t want to be trying to produce a hell of a lot of beef in the southeast at the moment, especially in this El Niño year.
“These animal cruelty issues are always a problem … In the interests of the industry Australia should monitor and encourage where they can practices which are more acceptable to the Australian public.
“But when the country is going well it is reflected in the overall economy, as it will be here. It will take a lot of heat off the economy from the slowdown of the minerals and suddenly you can stop digging into the ground and graze on top of it, and it’s certainly good news.”
Australia: the not-so little economy that can
Reserve Bank deputy governor Philip Lowe says we shouldn't succumb to "chronic pessimism" about this country, and he is right. Australia has been getting a lot of things right for a long time, and has a good chance of continuing to do so.
Lowe began a speech in Sydney on Tuesday by noting that while real income per capita is much the same as it was in 2008 when the resources boom was raging, it is still 60 per cent higher than it was in the early 'nineties.
That's a result of more adults being in work, more jobs being offered, and two special trends: above-average productivity growth in the nineties, and the resources boom in the noughties, and the huge increase in Australia's terms of trade and income that it served up.
That was then, however. The terms of trade doubled during the resources boom as commodity export prices soared, but half of that gain has now been given back. Lowe says you can't dismiss the possibility that the commodity price boom will return, but that you would be a mug to rely on it.
Demographics are also bearing down on the labour market participation rate, and undermining income that way.
That puts the weight squarely on getting productivity up, like the glory days of the 'nineties when Australia cashed in on its first big wave of economic reform.
Can we do it? Well, Lowe says we have several things going for us.
We have what he calls a strong institutional framework – government, regulations and law that work, in other words. We also have a high quality population: we might not have world-leading education, income, savings, innovation and risk-taking credentials and have been sliding a bit on the league tables, but we aren't dead-beats,either.
Our minerals wealth is a less important economic factor than it was when the resources boom was happening, but is still a huge asset that on its own brings in enough income to cover half our import bill.
The value of our agricultural base is also becoming increasingly apparent as Asia's middle class expands, and our proximity to Asia is a comparative advantage for our services sector,which has not only covered a net loss of about 100,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector since the early nineties, but led the creation of about 4 million new jobs.
Working the advantage
It is one thing to know what Australia's advantages are, and another thing entirely to work out how to leverage them, however. That's because the future is very difficult to predict. A Reserve Bank publication in 2000 that gathered the thoughts of geniuses of the day about the future didn't mention China once, for example.
Lowe's conclusion is that if you can't know what's around the corner, you need to be able to react quickly when you find out – and he says there are four golden keys, none of which his organisation holds: competition, innovation, the labor market, and education.
So it's complicated – but in my opinion, we are well placed. We are actively talking now about how to get the economy growing at its potential again for starters, just as we did at crucial times in the past. And while Lowe agrees with the Productivity Commission that Australia's industrial relations system should be simplified and updated, he also appears to agree with the commission that it does not need to be junked.
It displayed its flexibility during the global crisis, when jobs were saved by a shift towards part-time employment. It showed it again during the resources boom, when a wage explosion in the resources sector was largely quarantined from the rest of the economy. It is doing it now, as employment is supported by a moderation in wage growth during a period of economic weakness.
Lowe's comment that competition rules need to encourage new entrants, innovation and rapid competitive responses is also broadly in line with reality. The small size of Australia's economy has resulted in companies building what by international standards are large market shares, but the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is an active, pro-consumer regulator under chairman Rod Sims, and will be even stronger if the Turnbull government backs changes recommended by the Harper Review including the prohibition of conduct that has the effect of substantially lessening competition.
Innovation is a harder nut to crack. Not so much at the research stage where Australia is finding niches, but at the development stage, where domestic market size and depth are missing.
Overall however we are in with a chance. You only need to spend time overseas to know that in many respects, Australia is already a modern economy, with fewer rules, regulations and roadblocks than many of its peers.
Peanut allergy breakthrough: New Flinders Medical Centre technique letting at risk kids munch on nuts with ease
CHILDREN who were so allergic to peanuts they needed emergency adrenaline injections are now happily munching nuts daily as a result of a world-first medical trial in Adelaide.
The Flinders Medical Centre project by paediatric allergist Dr Billy Tao uses a two-step technique, initially boiling peanuts for two hours to make them less allergenic.
Children are fed these peanuts to partially desensitise them, then when they show no signs of allergic reaction, the children are fed roasted peanuts to further increase their tolerance.
Of 14 participants aged under 16 who all had serious allergic reactions, 10 have completed the first stage and are now eating roasted peanuts daily, while four continue to eat boiled peanuts daily. The ethically approved trial has not been attempted anywhere else.
“One patient who had to be administered three adrenaline injections after consuming peanuts is now eating roasted peanuts every day without problems,” Dr Tao said.
His idea was based on German researcher Professor Kirsten Beyer’s observation that peanut allergies are less prevalent in China than the western world, and Chinese children tend to eat boiled peanuts rather than roasted.
Dr Tao was on the verge of retirement but instead decided to pursue this project, remembering that babies in his native China are fed peanuts boiled for so long they become soft, before progressing to roasted nuts when older.
Dr Tao’s partnership with Dr Tim Chataway, Head of the Flinders Proteomics Facility and Professor Kevin Forsyth from the FMC Paediatrics Department proved peanuts boiled for at least two hours are much less allergenic.
He cautioned against families trying the method at home and stressed children with a nut allergy should see an allergist.
The team is planning a project where peanuts are boiled for 12 hours to treat the most severe cases of allergic reaction.
“Desensitisation is temporary — if the patient stops eating peanuts the protective effect will gradually wear off,” Dr Tao said.
“However, if the patient continues to eat peanuts regularly, they may reach the status of oral tolerance and be considered as cured. This is the holy grail of allergy treatment.”
About three per cent of Australian children have a peanut allergy.
Kirstin White, of Cumberland Park, has constantly worried about son Rory, 12, having contact with peanuts after he was diagnosed as a baby and he has carried an EpiPen adrenaline needle as a precaution.
“It is quite terrifying — you worry there will be some minor contact causing a reaction, and now he is almost a teenager there is a bit of stigma about it, worrying about going on excursions and to parties,” Mrs White said.
“He now eats a handful of roasted peanuts a night and has a letter from Dr Tao that he no longer needs the EpiPen — we are thrilled.”
22 October, 2015
Labor finally approves China-Australia free trade agreement
It's a freer trade agreement rather than a free trade agreement, but any move towards freer trade is to be welcomed
The China-Australia free trade agreement will come into force before the end of the year after a compromise deal was finally struck between the federal government and opposition.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has hailed the compromise over the "historic trade deal", declaring it "absolutely critical for Australian jobs in the future".
He said Australia's opportunities in the Chinese market are "limited only by our imagination and enterprise".
"We have 23 million extraordinary Australians and their imagination and their enterprise will ensure that we have access to and benefit from this market in a way that even the architects of this agreement, principally the Trade Minister Andrew Robb, would not imagine," he said.
He also paid a back-handed compliment to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, noting that he had been "a cork bobbing along in the slipstream of the CFMEU" but that ... "today the Leader of the Opposition has struck out from the slipstream and charted a course that is plainly in the national interest".
Mr Shorten conceded he may have angered sections of his power base in the union movement by reaching the agreement, but said a deal had been struck because "we're satisfied there is a better deal for Australian jobs than before today".
"Labor's always believed that trade should benefit all Australians, not just some people," he said.
"That's why Labor has stood up and expressed our concerns that there was insufficient legal safeguards and protections for Australian jobs."
"Labor now has achieved what we believe to be satisfactory legal protections which weren't previously proposed, which means that Labor can now support the speedy passage of the China-Australia free trade agreement."
Unions including the Electrical Trades union and the Manufacturing Workers union criticised the deal for not doing enough to strengthen labour market testing requirements, vowing to continue their campaign against aspects of the deal.
Last week Labor unveiled three specific amendments to the trade deal it would seek in order to agree to the deal and wave through enabling legislation. The bill will be brought forward for debate immediately in the lower house and is expected to pass into law by the end of the year.
Those changes would have seen a revision to rules that meant there would not have been mandatory labour market testing applied to investor facilitation agreements (IFAs) for projects over $150 million, lifting the base pay threshold for 457 visa workers from $53,000 to about $57,000 and stricter licensing conditions for tradesmen and women looking to come to Australia.
Minister Robb and his Labor shadow, Penny Wong, negotiated the compromise and a special meeting of shadow cabinet approved the deal on Tuesday night, with caucus giving the deal the rubber stamp on Wednesday morning.
Labor believes all three of its concerns have now been addressed and the changes will be put in place by making changes to migration regulations but not, as originally proposed, through changes to the act.
The changes still have the force of law.
Under the deal, labour market testing will apply to people who enter Australia on work agreements, including workers brought in on 457 visas under the China-Australia deal as part of an IFA.
Secondly, 457 visa market salary requirements will be strengthened to reflect wage rates paid under enterprise agreements, a move that means 457 visa workers will be more expensive to hire as pay rates on enterprise agreements are typically higher than the minimum award rate.
And thirdly, there will be new visa conditions for people on 457 visas in licensed trade occupations such as electricians and plumbers.
Satisfied with compromise
Mr Robb said the federal government had been happy to provide assurances to Labor that labour market testing requirements could not simply be changed by government fiat in the future.
During informal conversations with Chinese officials, Mr Robb said, "they were satisfied that it in no way halted what we'd agreed and it didn't discriminate against them".
"We should now be on track to be able to have an exchange of letters with the Chinese before the end of the year."
If passed by the Senate in 2015, two tariff cuts are in prospect before the end of the year and then immediately after on January 1.
Senator Wong described the deal as a "comprehensive package of safeguards for Australian jobs".
"What we've got is policy being turned into legal obligation. So I think that is a substantial strengthening of the safeguards."
The new conditions will require that 457 workers in those occupations cannot work until they get a trades licence, and they will have to get that licence within 90 days of arriving in Australia and report to the Immigration Department if their licence application is refused.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott accused the ALP of running a racist campaign, in concert with the union movement, against the trade deal, but the Turnbull government has taken a more conciliatory approach.
ETU national secretary Allen Hicks condemned both sides of politics for reaching the deal and said "We have no faith that the Department of Immigration as it is currently resourced has the capability to enforce the licensing requirements for 457 workers".
"We will be seeking a public commitment from Bill Shorten and his shadow cabinet that the inadequacies of this deal will be addressed as a matter of urgency under any Labor government."
And AMWU national secretary Paul Bastian struck a more conciliatory note, stating the strengthened safeguards were "a step in the right direction to protect foreign workers from exploitation and ensure local workers are not shut out of local projects".
"The government and Labor should not think that this political settlement is enough. Our campaign will continue until Australian workers can be confident that [the China free trade deal] and trade agreements generally deliver for their interests."
Geert Wilders launches Australia's 'first freedom party' (and it's anti-Islam)
Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders has launched an anti-Islam party in Perth, claiming it is Australia's "first freedom party".
The Dutch politician said on Wednesday that the Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA) provided hope in its commitment to "stop the Islamisation of Australia".
"At the end of the day it's all worth it as we have the truth on our side," Mr Wilders said, amid a loud protest.
He said his supporters in Holland were concerned citizens and "not extremists, they are not bigots".
'A totalitarian ideology'
The new party has been inspired by the Mr Wilders-led Party for Freedom which is currently polling strongly and holds seats in the Dutch parliament.
The Australian party's "manifesto" has detailed policies on several issues, such as support for privatising the SBS and "non-core" sections of the ABC; however it is its anti-Islam policies that dominate its political ideology.
Its manifesto reads: "Islam is not merely a religion, it is a totalitarian ideology with global aspirations. Islam uses the religious element as a means to project itself onto non-Islamic societies, which is manifest in the historical and ongoing expansion of Islam."
Mr Wilders noted that "like minded parties" were having great success in Austria, Sweden, France and Switzerland. Heated debate over immigration policies in Europe appears to have resulted in increased support for some of the far-right parties.
The ALA is preparing to run several candidates in the next federal election.
Mr Wilders, who travels with heavy security protection, was the main speaker at the launch of the ALA conference held at a secret location in Perth on Tuesday night. Supporters met in Perth city before getting on a bus, organised by the ALA, to be taken to the event.
"Everywhere in Europe, the people, not the political elite, not the governments, but the people are saying enough is enough, let us reclaim our country," Mr Wilders said on Tuesday night.
"Stop the mass immigration from Islamic countries. No more, we say no more to the governments and the Islamisation process."
The prominent Dutch politician said he was pleased to be at the "birth" of the country's "first freedom party".
Which planet are our MPs living on?
THE words Islam or Islamic were uttered six times in federal parliament before it rose for the week on Thursday — but not once in reference to terrorism.
The only “I” word being embraced by the Turnbull government is “inclusive”, which makes one wonder — just which planet our parliamentarians living on?
It’s over a year since the Government raised the national terrorism public alert level to high, last September 12, and it has not been shifted since.
The system rates four levels of risk. They are: low — terrorist attack is not expected; medium — terrorist attack could occur; high — terrorist attack is likely; extreme — attack is imminent or has occurred.
Yet two innocent people were killed in an Islamist terrorist attack in the heart of Sydney last December when shotgun-wielding Man Haron Monis made hostages of patrons of the Lindt Café, and Curtis Cheng was ruthlessly murdered by a 15-year-old boy in front of the Parramatta police station as he was leaving work on October 2.
As it happens, that same morning, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull publicly signalled his much-heralded break with his predecessor Tony Abbott’s hard-line approach to Islamism.
After discussions with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who both urged him to take the fresh approach, he wheeled out his new, more inclusive tone for future dealings with the Islamic community.
Needless to say, it was warmly embraced by the country’s Muslim spokesmen, and according to GP Jamal Rifi, the “larger Muslim community” would “respond with open arms”.
Dr Rifi told The Australian newspaper that the Muslim community was “elated” at Mr Turnbull becoming prime minister, as the relationship with the government under Mr Abbott had become “extremely tense and hurtful”.
Though clearly not as hurtful as the lethal relationship between Mr Cheng and his teenage murderer was to be just hours later.
Since then, police officers have been told not to wear their uniforms to and from work, just like servicemen and women, out of fear they may be targeted when they are not carrying their service-issue weapons.
But not a flicker of the terrorist threat meter, just more baloney about Islam as a religion of peace from a gaggle of self-important so-called Muslim community leaders and clerics and apologists who want to blame anything but absolutely barbaric Koranic verses as reasons for the constant global incitement of Muslims to murder the non-believers.
The federal Government had been moving for months to introduce laws that will lower the age at which control orders can be applied from 16 to 14 years of age — even as we learn that a 12-year-old was among the 17 extremists named in court papers as a close-knit Western Sydney group, lured into the Islamist death cult and willing to commit murder or die for the Islamic State.
Extremist hate preachers and fake sheiks speak at mosques and Islamic schools and Canberra assembles a congregation of multi-faith ministers to sing kumbaya and have a group hug.
Mr Turnbull has confirmed that over the past five months the federal Government has trained more than 300 “specialists” who will be embedded within the nation’s frontline departments and agencies to intervene and divert individuals from radicalisation.
He didn’t mention the particular group which the agencies were concerned about but you can be fairly certain it is not the Amish.
He said that individuals and extremists “seek to denigrate other groups in the community, often within their own religion, other religions and other ethnic groups, and they seek to turn us against each other”.
Which religion, Mr Turnbull — Buddhism, Christianity or Judaism?
Guess again, because he didn’t say.
There were plenty of omissions from Thursday’s debate in Canberra, not least being Labor MPs Maria Vamvakinou and Melissa Parke, who managed to totally ignore the current wave of terrorist stabbings and shootings targeting innocent Israelis and the torrent of hate speech pouring out of the West Bank as they talked up the cause of Palestinian statehood.
But the extraordinarily high number, per capita, of young Australians who have chosen to join fellow jihadists in Syria and Iraq would indicate that relying on local Muslim leaders to cooperate with the security agencies has not been entirely successful.
The motherhood view was outlined by Muslim MP Ed Husic on Friday, when he said the aim of terrorists was to divide communities with fear. “We need the broader community to feel secure,” he said.
The broader community won’t feel secure until those who follow Islam show they wish to assimilate and adopt Australia’s liberal democratic values just like earlier new Australians from northern European, southern Europe and south-east Asia.
Having embraced the nonsensical policy of multiculturalism, the federal Government is stuck with the problem of dealing with a growing group of individuals who show little sign of observing their oath of loyalty to Australia.
Congregating in essentially non-English speaking ghettos clustered around a profusion of mosques in which English is not heard, taking satellite news from Arabic-language broadcasts, will not help this migrant group become part of the broader community and it will not make Australians feel more secure.
Millions have now been spent, and tens of millions more are earmarked to go to Islamic projects, but it is difficult to see how a single cent of the money will help remove the cultural barriers that are core to Koranic teaching.
Democracy tested by same sex-marriage plebiscite, Archbishop Anthony Fisher warns
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney has warned of a future in which bishops are jailed, political dissent is all but silenced, scripture lessons are banned, and religious tax exemptions are eroded, should same-sex marriage be legalised.
In an address to the Centre for Independent Studies on Wednesday night, Anthony Fisher suggested "religious freedom" in Australia's democracy is at a turning point, and hinges on the upcoming plebiscite on gay nuptials.
In the next decade, Australia could potentially become a bleak place for people of faith, Archbishop Fisher said.
"Many clergy and teachers in faith-based schools have been cowed with threats of prosecution for 'hate speech' if they teach that divine law limits marriage to people of opposite sex," he said in a prepared speech.
"There are also actions pending against evangelical Christian and Maronite? Catholic business owners for failing to provide photography, stretch limousine and hospitality services for 'gay weddings'."
Archbishop Fisher started his speech by transporting the audience to a hypothetical 2025. But said this imagined future that he feared need not come to pass. Australians could instead opt for a future where terms such as "man and wife" and "mother and father" remained the norm.
"A robust but courteous debate continues, but most agree the decade-long exercise of patience and respect in pursuit of a moral consensus in this area has demonstrated democratic maturity and strengthened, not diminished, common life," he said.
In the 2015 Acton Lecture, titled "Should Bakers Be Required to Bake Gay Wedding Cakes?", Archibishop Fisher said proponents of same-sex marriage had failed to listen to detractors.
"Closed-mindedness is, of course, no monopoly of people engaging on same-sex marriage. "But I think the refusal to listen is presently mostly on one side," he said.
"Advocates of gay marriage seem to think no reasonable person could think other than as they do; that not only are they right on this issue, but that their opponents are irrational and operating out of blind traditionalism or, more likely, hatred."
He warned that "ordinary believers and their businesses are given no leeway, and even religious institutions such as schools, hospitals and welfare agencies are expected to toe the PC line" on gay marriage.
Earlier this year, the owners of a bakery in the US state of Oregon were ordered to pay almost $200,000 in damages after they refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
"The baker couple faced vilification, boycotts of their business, violent protests and even death threats, and were forced to close their shop and work from home," Archbishop Fisher said.
He said this was a test of democracy itself.
"Even if it would not have been unethical for bakers to assist a same-sex wedding in so remote a way, democracy degenerates into despotism when it licenses such vilification of people's conscientious beliefs."
The old hater is still at it
Abuse is Keating's forte, as it generally is on the Left. But he has a point. Prince William would be much more popular as the next monarch. The Queen's mother, however, lived to 101 so it may be a long time before the issue has to be addressed
Former prime minister Paul Keating has urged Malcolm Turnbull to save Australia from Prince Charles becoming head of state, calling the prospect "deeply sick".
In a conversation with ABC journalist Kerry O'Brien at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday night, Mr Keating reiterated his call for Australia to become a republic.
"No great country has a monarch ... of another country as their head of state," he said. "And no great country has a flag of another country in the corner of their flag."
The former Labor prime minister said he expected Mr Turnbull to win the next election and said the issue should be addressed in his government's next term. "It requires a prime minister to take it on," he said. "You can have all the republican movements you like, but if a prime minister doesn't want to take this on, it won't happen."
He said the idea of ending up with Prince Charles as Australia's head of state after the reign of Queen Elizabeth II ended was "deeply sick". "What are we going to end up with?" he asked. "Charles and Camilla, for God's sake."
He said Mr Turnbull faced other problems within his party after wrestling the leadership from Tony Abbott. "The real question is, can he take the now very right-wing Liberal Party anywhere back near the centre?" he asked. "That'll be the real test ... or whether he's stuck with the Loony Tunes show on the right."
21 October, 2015
Even an exemplary Muslim can be a wife-basher
Though some of the prior praise of him may well have been a form of "affirmative action". The Left are all on about wife-bashing at the moment but they also heart Muslims -- so I expect great silence from them over this. If, on the other hand, he had been an Anglo ....
Rugby league legend Hazem El Masri has been charged over an alleged domestic violence assault on his new wife.
A NSW police spokeswoman said the former Bulldogs winger, 39, was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault on Monday evening.
The charges relate to an incident with his 25-year-old wife around 7:30pm at his south-western Sydney home, police said.
An AVO has been lodged for the protection of his wife Douah El-Cherif for the next 28 days. He must not approach or contact her by any means, the order said.
Mr El Masri, who won the premiership in 2004 with the Bulldogs, was granted conditional bail and will appear at Bankstown Local Court on Thursday.
He split from his previous wife of 14 years, Arwa, in 2014 and has since remarried. He and Arwa had three children together.
El Masri, who was sometimes known as 'El Magic', retired from rugby league in 2009 with a reputation for being one of the game's most prolific goalkickers.
He grew up in Tripoli during the Lebanese civil war and moved to Australia at age 11 and was widely regarded as a positive role model for youth in Sydney's west.
Since his retirement, he has worked in the community service sector and spent time as an ambassador for the White Ribbon Foundation, a movement to stop violence against women.
A 2006 Fairfax profile described him as 'league's pin-up boy for good behaviour' and the 'best role model the game has'.'
In an interview with Australian Story, Nine commentator Ray Warren described him as 'one of the real gentlemen of the code'. 'In 41 years of sports commentating, I've seen a lot of footballers come and go. 'But I have no doubt Hazem El Masri will leave a lasting impression on rugby league, as he will on Australia. He's the man we call 'El Magic'.'
A Bulldogs club award for Player of the Year is named in El Masri's honour.
Turnbull government backs Murray Review, setting up major overhaul of Australia's financial system
Shops, cabs, and other merchants will be banned from imposing unfair surcharges on credit cards, and inactive bank accounts and life insurance policies will only be defined as unclaimed after seven years, rather than three, in a huge overhaul of Australia's financial system.
The Turnbull government has responded to the Murray Review of Australia's financial system, agreeing with the vast majority of the review's recommendations.
The review represents the biggest overhaul of the financial system since 1997, when the Wallis Report on the financial system led to the creation of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), which helped Australia through the financial crisis.
The review touches on everything from credit card fees, superannuation, cyber security, and crowd funding regulation.
It has also set up the next three years of political fighting in Canberra at least, with the 'point' of the super system promised to be enshrined in legislation so consumers and industry have policy certainty.
The Turnbull government will ask the Productivity Commission to develop an alternative model for a 'formal competitive process' for allocating default super funds to members.
It will also ban merchants from charging surcharges on credit cards that are greater than the cost of accepting payment by card.
The Turnbull government says it accepts that Australia's banking system is uniquely run by a minority of powerful banks that source much of their funding offshore, and which provide 90 per cent of the domestic credit to local firms, and that this creates "some concentration of risk in the system."
It says that is why Australia's banks need to be "stronger than those of comparable countries," and why their mortgage risk weights need to increase - a key reason why Westpac Bank lifted rates last week.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the review's recommendations would make Australia's banking system stronger while giving retirees "choice and security" in their retirement years.
He also said it would protect consumers from being charged unfair card surcharges.
"These are some of the important outcomes from the Government's response to the Murray inquiry," he said.
The government will ask Australia's financial regulators - APRA, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and the Reserve Bank's Payments Systems Board - to meet regulatory performance benchmarks.
It will also review ASIC's powers, and ask industry to help develop a new ASIC product intervention power that could be used to modify products or remove harmful products from the marketplace.
Such system-wide reviews of the financial system do not come around often.
A similar report in 1981, the so-called Campbell Report, led to the historical floating of the dollar and the deregulation of Australia's financial system.
That was followed by the Wallis Report in 1997, which helped to streamline financial services regulation and led to the creation APRA and the current form of ASIC.
The current review focuses on Australia's super system, following years of scandals in the financial advice industry that have seen hundreds of Australians lose their life savings.
The Turnbull government says it will make the financial advice industry 'professional' for the first time, requiring advisers to hold a degree, pass an exam, undertake continuous professional development, and subscribe to a code of ethics.
"These higher standards will, for the first time, place financial advising on a similar footing to other professions and in doing so increase consumer trust and confidence in the sector," Mr Turnbull said.
The government's response to the review comes 11 months after it was handed down by its chair David Murray, a former chief executive of Commonwealth Bank.
The government says it has agreed to senate amendments to extend unfair contract term protections to small businesses, covering standard form contracts where at least one of the parties employs less than 20 people and where the upfront price of the contract does not exceed $300,000, or $1 million for contracts longer than 12 months.
"Australians can now be confident that our financial system remains the best in the world," Mr Turnbull said.
Senators accuse SBS of campaigning against Australian law by supporting same-sex marriage
SBS has been accused of abusing its position as a public broadcaster by joining a corporate campaign in favour of same-sex marriage.
During Senate estimates hearings on Tuesday, Liberal National Party senator Matt Canavan said SBS had taken sides on an issue of "political contention" by joining companies such as Google, Qantas, Optus and the big banks by supporting same-sex marriage.
We are an organisation that does everything we can to support equality
Fellow Coalition senator Chris Back questioned whether the broadcaster would be able to provide balanced coverage during a plebiscite on same-sex marriage given its corporate stance.
The SBS logo featured among other major brands published in full-page newspaper advertisements supporting marriage equality published earlier this year.
"Why is it appropriate for a public broadcaster to involve themselves in a political campaign on issues such as this?" Senator Canavan asked SBS managing director Michael Ebeid.
"I do feel this is a little bit of of an abuse of your position, Mr Ebeid, to have come to a corporate position based on no legal advice and little understanding of the different views in the debate other than 'it's all just about equality'."
Mr Ebeid responded by saying he did not believe same-sex marriage is a political issue. He said the broadcaster's corporate stance would not influence how it covers the issue in its news and current affairs programs.
"SBS, in its whole foundation and purpose of being, is about promoting cultural diversity and social cohesion," [That sounds rather self-contradictory] he said. "We are an organisation that does everything we can to support equality.
"As an employer, we have joined other employers to say we support equality in all its forms and don't discriminate against our employees.
"I don't think this is an issue that's a political issue. It's a societal issue, not a political issue at all."
Senator Canavan said he "completely" disagreed that support for same-sex marriage was not a political issue. "You're actually an employee of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Commonwealth of Australia has a Marriage Act saying marriage is between a man and a woman," he said.
Senator Canavan said private organisations were free to campaign on political issues but that government agencies such as SBS should not.
Senator Canavan quoted an episode of Media Watch from earlier this year which claimed the Australian media's coverage of the same-sex marriage debate was biased against supporters of traditional marriage.
Mr Ebeid said SBS has a "long history" of airing both sides of the same-sex marriage debate. "As a public broadcaster we cover all issues in a completely balanced and objective way," he said.
Politicians, including those who support same-sex marriage, criticised SBS earlier this year for pulling an anti-same sex marriage advertisement from its telecast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
Local ticks likely responsible for Lyme disease in Australia, breakthrough Perth research finds
A national study led by a Perth-based researcher could be one step closer to ending the Lyme disease debate in Australia for good.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium - borrelia burgdoferi - passed on by ticks.
Prevalent in the United States and parts of Europe, it causes symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain and various neurological symptoms.
The Government and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have not recognised the existence of Lyme disease in Australia.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium passed on by ticks
The Government and the AMA have not recognised the existence of the disease in Australia
There are 70 species of tick in Australia
New research finds a home-grown bacterium is likely responsible for Lyme-like symptoms in Australia
But now Murdoch University Professor Peter Irwin believes a home-grown bacterium is responsible for Lyme-like symptoms in Australians. "We have about 70 species of tick in Australia," he said
"The vast majority - well really all except three or four - have evolved here with our unique wildlife and don't occur anywhere else in the world. "So you can't draw parallels with work that's been done overseas, because nowhere overseas has the Australian ticks."
Using breakthrough technology, the team from Murdoch is examining thousands of native Australian ticks. "We applied new molecular techniques to these ticks called next generation sequencing," Professor Irwin said. "This is a technique that allows us to look inside the tick and find the DNA, the genetic code, of organisms that live inside the tick."
In some cases, Lyme disease is identifiable by a rash called a bulls-eye rash for the way it appears.
Several medical practitioners across Australia claim to have diagnosed the illness in patients who have never travelled to areas where it is endemic.
But positive laboratory results have been disputed. WA President of the AMA Michael Gannon said there had been no evidence to prove its existence here. "The borrelium bacteria that causes Lyme disease has never been isolated from an Australian vector, like a tick," he said. "And it's never been isolated in an Australian patient that hasn't travelled to somewhere in North America or Europe."
But for those suffering - who have had no official diagnosis for years - the controversy surrounding the issue leaves them with no answers and no treatment.
Professor Irwin said his research was ongoing. "We can find organisms in ticks, we can find DNA," he said. "But attributing disease causation to those bacteria is really another step all together. "Unless they're already known to cause disease how do you know they cause disease?"
He said it would require more research before any answers, or treatment, was readily available. "It might be linking the types of bacteria you find in ticks with the types of bacteria in people," he said. "Then you can start to close the circle."
Why don't Australians think they took the country away from the Aboriginals?
More Pilger fraud. Pilger couldn't lie straight in bed
I think the question is actually asking "Why don't the particular Australians questioned by known polemicist and controversial contrarian John Pilger and then carefully selected in the editing of his extremely slanted and simplistic documentary 'Utopia' think they took the country away from the Aboriginals?"
I'm left wing and extremely sympathetic to the plight of modern Aborigines as well as better informed than most about the tragic history of the destruction of indigenous culture and the atrocities against indigenous people since white settlement. But Pilger's documentary was so clumsy, badly presented, biased and actively stupid that it had me shouting at the TV. If all you knew about black/white relations in Australia was based on that documentary you would certainly come away thinking:
(i) White Australians don't think their ancestors stole the land from the original inhabitants
(ii) White politicians do pretty much nothing to try to remedy the problems of indigenous communities
(iii) The average Australian knows nothing of indigenous culture or history or the history of disenfranchisement and marginalisation
(iv) Most indigenous people live in the third world squalor like that in the community of Utopia featured in the documentary.
This is all warped and simplistic nonsense. But that's how Pilger likes his documentaries - nothing is too complex or nuanced for him to avoid reducing it to some sweeping banalities, with plenty of shots of him looking outraged, disgusted, sanctimonious and morally superior.
The idea that all or even most Australians share the ignorant and blinkered views of the people Pilger edited into his opening sequence is just laughable. Anyone with even the vaguest grasp of the role of indigenous affairs in the Australian political landscape knows there are a wide range of views on this subject as any other. This means that there are far more people who fully acknowledge the displacement of indigenous people as a historical fact and as a lamentable and shameful one at that. The Australian Government is currently working on making recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the original inhabitants and custodians of the county part of our Constitution. If the attitudes of the morons and bigots who Pilger carefully selected for his documentary were the norm, such a move would be doomed or at least highly controversial. It isn't. Polling on the issue shows consistently that it is extremely well supported, with one recent poll showing that 82% of Australians are supportive or strongly supportive of Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal custodianship and only 13% in any way against it.
The same goes for recognition of and sorrow for the past wrongs against indigenous people. When Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made his apology on behalf of the Australian Government to the "stolen generation" removed from their families in the early to mid twentieth century in February 2008, polls showed that 78% of voters approved strongly of the apology and only 16% didn't agree with it. In May 2000 myself, most of my friends and about 300,0oo other people took part in the Reconciliation Walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge in solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters - one of the largest demonstrations in Sydney's history and just one of many held around the country on the same day.
And these are just a few examples of the awareness of Aboriginal history and issues and the massive support they have across a wide section of the community. The people that Pilger showed are a minority on these and related issues, but you would not get the faintest hint of that from his ludicrous documentary.
The same goes for the idea that Aboriginal history, culture and issues are not taught in schools. Compared to the United States, these issues get vastly more time and detail in Australia, so the claim that they are ignored is absolutely ridiculous. Robert Russell's answer to What kind of history does Aussie teach their children in school? Do they talk about the sad history of aboriginal? shows just how wrong that idea is.
Pilger is not an unbiased documentary maker, he is a propagandist. He happens to be a propagandist with views very similar to my own, but the biased, simplistic and slanted way he presents his case is actually counter-productive. To someone from overseas with no grasp of his simplistic approach, the stupidity of Utopia would not be apparent. To anyone with any knowledge of the complexities and variety of views on this subject, his clumsy caricature is nothing short of pathetic.
Which is a pity, because the plight of many remote indigenous communities does need to be better addressed. And government policies on Aboriginal matters do need further reform and refinement. And there are many racist and ignorant people who do hold the views Pilger highlights. But these things won't be advanced or remedied by crap like Utopia.
Before any Americans get too haughty about Australian treatment of their indigenous culture, try this - how many of your indigenous music stars could the average American name? Because any Aussie could rattle off names of popular singers and musicians like Christine Anu, Jessica Mauboy, Archie Roach, Yothu Yindi or Gurrumul Yunupingu without blinking. And these are people who have had mainstream charted hits and won the highest awards in the Australian music industry. How many Native American actors and TV personalities can you name? Because, again, any Aussie could talk about Ernie Dingo, Deborah Mailman, David Gulpilil, Aaron Pederson or Jack Charles without any prompting. Or indigenous sports stars? Any Aussie you meet could tell you about Cathy Freeman, Adam Goodes, Nova Peris-Kneebone, Nicky Winmar or Evonne Goolagong. The 2000 Reconciliation March in Sydney was the equivalent of 571,000 people marching across the Brooklyn Bridge in support of Native American issues. Has that ever happened? Is it likely to happen any time soon?
Relations between our peoples are far from what they could or should be, but I don't think we need lectures from Americans on the subject and we certainly don't need them on the basis of a piece of biased junk like Utopia.
20 October, 2015
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is enjoying Bill Shorten's death in the polls
Reclaim Australia group wins hearts
Plenty of abuse too -- in the usual Leftist way
An interview with the mums and dads that founded the Reclaim Australia movement has caused a fiery divide on social media.
Reclaim Australia's founders, who call themselves 'patriotic Australians' and claim to be stopping the 'spread of Islam' in Australia, appeared on Channel Seven's Sunday Night program in their first ever television interview.
But attempts to expose and challenge their controversial views may have backfired with support for the group growing on social media to 40,000 followers.
Co-founders Wanda Marsh and John Oliver, as well as Sydney mum Catherine Brennan, explained how the movement was started by concerned parents who believed the Martin Place siege was an act of Islamic terrorism.
But the Facebook group quickly attracted aggressive anti-Islam campaigners and an Australia-wide protest turned violent when groups like the United Patriots Front (UPF) showed support.
The show on Sunday night was billed as an in-depth look at how the group began and its founders who claim to be ordinary Australians.
'I can't let my kids grow up in a country where kids are getting murdered in the streets. It's just not Australian,' Mr Oliver told Sunday Night.
Ms Brennan said: 'I'm just an everyday mum living in the suburbs doing the best job that I can for my family.'
#ReclaimAustralia started trending on social media immediately after the story aired as thousands showed support for the group's views, while others criticised Channel Seven for giving them publicity.
A viewer poll asking whether Reclaim Australia represents Australian values was sitting at 78 - 22 in support of the group before changing to 37 - 63.
'#ReclaimAustralia I will say this once how many more people will have to die before we kick Islam out of this nation,' one user wrote on Twitter in support of the group. Others were quick to condemn it.
'I'm so ashamed/embarrassed that#ReclaimAustralia is trending. I apologise profusely to my Muslim friends for the racist bs that is flying,' one wrote.
'If #ReclaimAustralia represents Aussie values, then Aussie values suck. We truly are a nation of self-righteous, xenophobic hypocrites.
Media bias against Christians
Liberal senator Eric Abetz has unleashed an attack on the Canberra press gallery, arguing it is hostile to conservative, Christian politicians while giving favourable treatment to left-leaning or Muslim MPs.
Senator Abetz said the media had treated him and his conservative colleagues, in particular former prime minister Tony Abbott, “unfairly”. He said the media felt comfortable vilifying politicians like Mr Abbott because of their Christian faith, but would never dare speak the same way about people of other religions.
“Journalists will need to explain why they do this, but it is very clear that if somebody swears their oath on the Koran, this is a wonderful expression of diversity and to be encouraged, whereas if you swear your oath on the Bible then you’re an old fart and not to be taken seriously. Well, excuse me, what’s the difference?” he said. “There is a special negative-sentiment override for those that profess the Christian faith.”
Senator Abetz referenced a description of Mr Abbott as the “mad monk” that often appeared in the media. “Just imagine making fun of somebody else’s religion of a different nature, as in if you are a Muslim, Buddhist or a Hindu,” he said. “There is the double standard that you can basically vilify anyone from the Christian side of the tracks but don’t you dare touch anyone else.”
Senator Abetz, an employment minister under Mr Abbott who was dropped from cabinet by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said Australian political reporters did not give fair treatment to conservative policies, such as stopping the boats, scrapping the carbon tax and opposing gay marriage, often mocking the conservative point of view.
He indicated that compared with other prime ministers, the media had treated Mr Abbott and John Howard far more harshly.
“The public can make up their own mind as to the coverage and treatment by the media of John Howard and Tony Abbott as prime ministers in comparison to others,” he said.
Members of the Canberra gallery gave more positive coverage to politicians and policies they agreed with, Senator Abetz said, arguing that journalists hardly ever referred to the far Left or the extreme Left when discussing the Greens or the Labor Party, but frequently referred to him, Cory Bernardi and other conservative politicians as being from the far, extreme or religious Right. “I’ve been referred to as from the religious Right a number of times in the media and when I’ve thrown out the challenge, when are you going to report on the godless Left? The answer is never,” he said.
The ABC was one of the worst offenders, he said, providing coverage that was markedly different for the politicians it supported. “I’m terribly loyal to my new leader but you might comment on the flirtatious approach of Leigh Sales when she interviewed Turnbull. Just ask yourself the question, did Leigh Sales ever apologise for interrupting Tony Abbott?” he said. “If you’re a conservative, you’re fair game to be interrupted.”
Senator Abetz said that when ABC host Tony Jones interviewed Joe Hockey on Lateline, he interrupted him 33 times. However, when he had Wayne Swan on the previous evening, there was barely an interruption.
“Then they say Joe Hockey is unable to sell the message. Well, with 33 interruptions in one interview, one might understand why it is difficult to sell the message,” he said. Senator Abetz found the “groupthink” of political journalists had worsened since he entered federal parliament in 1994. And it was to the detriment of democracy, he said.
“If you promote conservative policies, you are immediately demonised and conservative policies are demonised,” he said.
“If you have a Christian, conservative point of view to offer, the media will have this negative-sentiment override which will simply be critical of any views that you may seek to express and that has, regrettably, been the case now for many years in the media gallery.”
The result, Senator Abetz said, was that some politicians were too intimidated to admit they agreed with conservative policies. “Parliamentarians are intimidated from stating their point of view because they know, no matter how sensibly they present it, it will somehow be misrepresented or a negative picture, negative commentary will be presented,” he said.
“I think the groupthink of the media gallery has got worse as the years have gone by and the concept of a diverse range of opinions or interpretations is now lacking.”
When asked if journalists were reflecting the view of their audience, particularly when it came to issues such as gay marriage, Senator Abetz said he did not subscribe to the view that conservative Christian values were unpopular with the public. He said they were unpopular with the media, which was unrepresentative of the Australian people.
“If you go to the footy, you’re a man or woman of the people, but if you go to church, what a strange individual you are. Yet around Australia, as I understand it, a lot more people go to church on a Sunday than go to football on a Saturday.”
Senator Abetz said the press gallery tended to report on issues in the same way. “The genuine diversity of reporting just does not seem to be there as one would have hoped it might,” he said.
Malcolm Turnbull in fresh push to curb union power
The federal government will restart talks to legislate tougher sanctions against aggressive industrial tactics as it responds to a surprise deal to merge the nation’s most militant unions and to reshape a political fight over the economic damage from workplace disruption.
Malcolm Turnbull is redoubling the effort to impose the new curbs on workplace power after last week’s decision to launch the mammoth union merger, as his government appears within reach of a Senate deal to pass stronger laws.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government would press ahead with reforms to prevent “thuggery, intimidation and stand-over tactics” on building sites.
Industry groups called last night for a swift response to Friday’s agreement to combine the Maritime Union of Australia with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union to create a united force with more than 100,000 members.
The government believes the merger will heighten the need for the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and separate controls on registered organisations, helping to sway the Senate to pass laws that were narrowly rejected two months ago.
In a sign of Mr Turnbull’s scope to strike deals in the upper house, key crossbenchers have praised his approach to negotiations, in contrast to that of his predecessor, Tony Abbott, raising the government’s hopes of legislating its agenda.
Parliament resumes today with Mr Turnbull also gaining ground in the electorate, with a Fairfax-Ipsos poll released last night showing that his leadership has given the government a convincing lead over Labor of 53 to 47 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis when applying the preference flows seen at the last election.
Mr Turnbull leads Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister by 67 per cent to 21 per cent, according to last night’s poll, an even bigger gap than the result of 57 per cent to 19 per cent in a Newspoll published in The Australian a week ago.
The union merger has startled industry executives and fuelled government concerns about the power of the enlarged union to disrupt workplaces in sectors ranging from forestry to construction and the waterfront.
Senator Cash said the merger proposal emphasised the need for the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission to prevent projects being “needlessly delayed” and ensure law and order in the sector.
“Unlawful practices in the building and construction industry come at a very high economic cost to Australia and Australians,” she said. “They result in higher infrastructure costs, delayed projects and a culture of fear and intimidation.
“The social and economic importance to Australians of the building and construction industry functioning properly cannot be underestimated.”
While Mr Turnbull has dismissed the idea of “waging war with the unions” on workplace reform, his government has recommitted to Mr Abbott’s policies on the ABCC and registered organisations.
The ABCC bill seeks to restore the commission put in place by the Howard government to stop illegal conduct by unions on building sites. The Senate rejected the bill in August by 34 to 33 votes after the Coalition was unable to get the support of crossbench senators Jacqui Lambie, Ricky Muir and Glenn Lazarus.
The bill to amend the Registered Organisations Act would introduce criminal penalties for officials who abuse their positions, including union leaders as well as industry group executives. The Senate also rejected this bill by 34 to 33 votes.
Both bills are now potential triggers for a double-dissolution election, having been rejected by the upper house twice in the same form, but the government’s strategy is to reopen talks to try to impose the changes if possible.
“The benefits brought by the ABCC while it was in operation cannot be undervalued,” Senator Cash said, adding that the commission led to major economic benefits. “The building and construction industry is far too important to the national economy for us to see this happening.’’
Labor and the union movement disputes that assessment, citing independent experts to argue that the ABCC never achieved the boost to productivity or the cut to costs that the government claimed. When in opposition, Mr Abbott said the restoration of the ABCC could add $6 billion a year to economic growth.
The union merger heightens the clash over the two bills at a time when Labor insists the reforms are driven by a political agenda to discourage union activity and reduce membership.
Miners and gas exporters have been some of the strongest critics of the CFMEU and the MUA, arguing that union tactics have increased the cost of building major facilities and slowed the shipping of supplies to projects in Western Australia, where the MUA is especially strong.
Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm said yesterday that there was a “lot more love in the air” in parliament since Mr Turnbull had replaced Mr Abbott, with eight ministers talking to him in the past week on their reform proposals.
Famous Australian sportsman says traditional Australian frankness is being destroyed by political correctness
He's famously been dubbed the 'King Of Spin' ever since his international cricket Test debut in 1992. And with his success on the pitch and a string of high-profile girlfriends, retired cricketer Shane Warne has learned controversy is a word he's often linked to.
More than two decades since he made his mark, the 46-year-old says Australia is not what it used to be, with the population too reticent to push the boundaries when it comes to national conversation.
'I believe Australia was, not now, but was, the best country in the world,' the father-of-three told Sunday Herald Sun.
Explaining he believes that the country's views towards parenting and education have changed drastically, he also spoke of the dangers of social media, which allows people to speak their mind, but also share negative messages with a devastating affect.
Shane is most concerned, though, about the right to carefree commentary 'the Australian way', without giving too much thought to political correction all the time.
'I just feel that over the last bit of time everyone is being careful of what they say, everyone is really careful of saying the wrong thing or rubbing someone up the wrong way,' he told the publication. 'Australians say it the way it is and that’s the Australian way. 'I think if we lose that we’re losing our DNA of what we are.'
No doubt Shane has had his fair share of controversies over the last two decades, the sportsman choosing to retire from all forms of cricket officially in 2013, after having lost his vice-captaincy many years earlier and also being given a one-year ban in 2003 following a drug test.
Nowadays, when he isn't spending time with his kids, Shane is still out on the pitch commentating on the performance of cricket's next generation.
He also has his own charitably body called The Shane Warne Foundation, which commits to enriching 'the lives of seriously ill and under privileged children and teenagers in Australia'.
Should school prayer be abolished?
Industry minister Christopher Pyne has come under pressure because of remarks he made about school prayer. Pyne’s critics want to see religion banished from Australian schools — and from society in general.
But religion doesn’t lead directly to radicalisation any more than a glass of red wine with dinner leads to rampant alcoholism.
So praying is not the problem. People should be free to speak to their gods and to listen to what they think their gods as saying to them. That’s not the problem.
The real issue is how people respond to what they think those gods want from them.
Far from driving prayer out of schools and away to the shadowy margins, religion needs to become a mainstream subject in the classroom.
But religion needs to be handled in our schools with great care. Many fine Australian Muslims deplore what a few extremists are doing to us in the name of Islam.
They and their families want to enjoy all the benefits of our free and open society, to enjoy our lifestyle, and to splash around in the surf on weekends like everyone else.
And they know this way of life is under threat when the deadly antics of fanatics fuel suspicion and fear. Teenage assassins are a scourge here and now.
So religion in schools can’t just be about prayer. Children also need to learn from responsible teachers about the historical, social and cultural elements of religion.
Our children need to learn about religion; what it is, why different religions appear to teach different things, and why some Aussie teenagers are prepared to kill in the name of their god.
Teaching about religion, teaching about prayer, and teaching about citizenship go hand in hand. Leaders of our churches, synagogues and mosques need to work with our teachers to open the minds of our kids, and to dispel the evil idea that a god commands murder.
Substituting ethics classes for religion is not going to hack this problem. Like it or not, religion is a hot topic in our society.
Pretending it’s not relevant, or dismissing it as meaningless bunk is to miss the point completely. No one is asking you to be a believer too; you are just being asked to open your eyes.
19 October, 2015
Fiji targets Australia for more tourists after ending diplomatic cold war
Sanctions against Fiji were always absurd. Fiji has had several coups but none of them shed blood. Fijians are fine people. Sanctioning a whole range of Muslim states would be more rational
Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama seemed to put a decade of diplomatic tensions with Australia behind him on Friday when he looked out from a conference in Sydney and anticipated a simple walk on the beach.
"I can't help thinking how times have changed. The so-called pariah is now a welcome guest and is able to parade along the Manly Esplanade with the surfers and the seagulls," the one time military strongman said to laughter at the Australia Fiji Business Council gathering.
The conference represented a coming out parade for Fiji after the boycotts and travel bans by Australia and New Zealand following the 2006 coup with key ministers and senior officials turning up in force to rebuild relations with Australian businesspeople.
And Bainimarama then used a speech to the Fijian community in Sydney at the weekend to go on to even apologise for hardship caused by the serial political upheaval in the country – although he seemed to put the blame on the government turmoil in 1987 and 2000 rather than his own later effort.
Switching from an ineffective boycott to a policy of engagement has been one of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's signature moves in the South Pacific. And the new international development minister Steve Ciobo was keen to reinforce the message to Bainimarama from the new Turnbull government telling him: "Your presence here today is a marker of Australia and Fiji's progress in rebuilding this important Pacific relationship. We want to let bygones be bygones, and ensure that our official relationship reflects the warmth of the relationships between our people."
Australian businesspeople and Fiji officials say that business relations between the countries survived the political tensions quite well and Australian tourists kept coming.
But with Australia still Fiji's biggest foreign investor, aid donor and source of tourists, the basic economic rationale for a reconciliation was clear at the conference with the Fiji officials talking up a more stable economic climate for tourist operators and manufacturers..
In an interview with The Australian Financial Review Trade and Tourism Minister Faiyaz Koya said Fiji was focused on the potential for pulling in even more tourists from Australia and had no intention to trying to reduce its dependence on Australia by turning more to emerging tourists from places, such as China and India.
"We will not be taking our emphasis away from our big traditional tourist market. We simply will not cannibalise what we have."
In fact Fiji officials outlined plans to double their share of tourism spending by Australians from the existing 3 to 4 per cent prompting some debate at the conference about the affect of the weaker Australian dollar on the outlook for travel to Fiji.
"Certainly the weakening of the Australian dollar means more Australian travellers are more focused on where to travel," Virgin Australia chief commercial officer Judith Crompton said.
She warned the Fiji government and travel industry representatives that Indonesia and Thailand were getting more competitive and Fiji had to be cautious about any new tourism industry taxes.
But Koya said he was confident that Fiji would be able to maintain its image as a short haul overseas destination, which was much closer than the big Asian holiday destinations.
NEW INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING
With soft lending from aid agencies back on track after last year's election, Fiji is touting about $500 million in new infrastructure spending on hotels and airports as paving the way for tourism to be a $2 billion a year industry by 2020, compared with $1.4 billion now.
But some traditional Australian food suppliers to the tourism sector may be about to face a squeeze with Koya flagging a push to replace food imports with a bigger emphasis on domestic production of fresh vegetables.
With just over a third of GDP coming from tourism, Tourism Fiji chairman Truman Bradley says: "It's an industry we need to make sure we manage better."
Bradley says he is also putting more effort into developing the online marketing and booking capabilities of Fiji's local tourist operators so they can capture more of the visitor revenue. "We need better digital competence in Fiji so more of the bookings can be done locally," he says.
But foreign airlines have received another rebuff from Fiji over complaints that they can't get enough capacity into the country to deliver the visitor increases the government says it wants.
Business council president Greg Pawson, Westpac's Pacific chief, says industry growth is being constrained by the current air services agreements and Fiji should be opening up more capacity.
But Koya says Fiji is not going to do anything to hurt Fiji Airways and that the foreign airlines know that if they can show they need more flights in the peak season they will always get a favourable response from the government.
Bainimarama said he welcomed the way many ordinary Australians had maintained a warm relationship with him during the diplomatic freeze, which saw a growing list of top government officials excluded from Australia.
And he welcomed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's appointment of Ciobo as Minister for the Pacific as "a clear sign of a renewed commitment by the Turnbull government to give the island nations a higher priority."
But while the business council meeting was full of renewed bonhomie, there was more than a flash of the old Fiji strongman with Bainimarama reiterating that he still wanted to wind back the Australia and New Zealand participation in the regional peak group the Pacific Islands Forum.
Hate speech overhaul in NSW to try to stop spread of racial vilification
The government will overhaul hate speech laws in NSW following the terror attack at Parramatta police headquarters and calls from the opposition for stronger laws to clamp down on "radical preachers".
Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said the government will strengthen and streamline racial vilification laws, defying right-wing commentators who have previously said proposed reforms were "straight out of the Leninist playbook".
Ms Upton said recent events had "reinforced the necessarily of being vigilant to and guarding against the spread of racial vilification".
"Make no mistake, words are dangerous weapons for race hate preachers and violent extremists," she said.
The announcement comes as hardline political group Hizb-ut Tahrir steps up its fight against the Australian government, launching a slick advertising campaign for a conference next month titled Innocent Until Proven Muslim?
Thousands of glossy posters have been splashed around Sydney's suburbs in recent days, showing Muslims being locked up for selling halal meat, praying at school and "being a Muslim citizen".
A promo trailer depicts a man who can't visit his dying mother in Lebanon because his passport has been cancelled and a woman in a hijab bashed by two hooded white men in a carpark.
"The Australian government's relentless barrage of interference and harassment towards the Muslim community has led to an entire community being criminalised through ant-Muslim 'terror' laws, phoney charges, monitoring of children [and] imposing values," the promo says.
One Muslim leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said hate speech has gone "mainstream" in Sydney, with several prominent Muslim leaders saying they'll attend the conference. "These groups won't openly advocate violence but they'll push young guys right to the edge then wash their hands of it," he said.
Earlier this year, the DPP decided not to charge Hizb-ut Tahrir's Sydney leader, Ismail al-Wahwah, over two speeches calling for a "jihad against the Jews".
It was one of more than 30 cases that have been referred to the DPP under the Anti-Discrimination Act yet there has never been a prosecution, leading to criticisms that the act is a toothless tiger.
A review, comprising politicians from all major parties, found in December 2013 that the act was full of unnecessary obstacles to criminal prosecution and the penalties were too low.
One of the review's authors, Greens MP David Shoebridge, previously said the government had ignored the recommendations because they were "frightened by right-wing commentators".
Radio presenter Alan Jones had decried the recommendations as "beyond ludicrous", while conservative commentator Andrew Bolt said it was "straight out of the Leninist playbook".
Opposition Leader Luke Foley has called for a new offence that would lower the threshold for charges of advocating violence and enable prosecutors to seek court orders to gag people pending the outcome of a trial.
"As it stands, the law makes it virtually impossible ... to secure a conviction against someone advocating violence through hate speech," he said
On Sunday, Ms Upton indicated for the first time that the review recommendations would be implemented. She said the government would consult widely and introduce an exposure bill in January, before introducing legislation in the 2016 Budget Session.
"Change is needed to disarm [hate preachers] and to safeguard our inclusive, pluralist and harmonious community," she said.
Leftist fabrication about Nauru woman
REFUGEE advocates “fabricated’’ claims that a 23-year old Somali woman allegedly raped on Nauru still wanted an abortion in Australia, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has said.
The cost of her charter flight to Australia for the abortion, which the Prime Minister insists she “changed her mind’’ over could be over $100,000.
The Sunday Telegraph understands she was the only asylum seeker passenger on the international charter flight to and from Nauru for the purpose of travelling to Australia for an abortion, but was accompanied by security and medical escorts.
Two asylum seekers have alleged they were raped on Nauru. The woman flown to Australia for the termination has never made a formal complaint to police according to Naurun officials.
The 23-year old is believed to be around 14 weeks pregnant.
In an earlier privacy breach, a second alleged rape victim, 26, had her name and intimate details of her case was published by an Australian based PR company working for Nauru.
The 26 year-old Somali woman’s alleged rape was reported and investigated. However, Nauru police have closed the case arguing there is insufficient evidence. Her lawyers have argued the perpetrator is a member of the Nauruan police reserves, suggesting it may have contributed to a lack of enthusiasm for investigating the matter.
Refugee Action Collective yesterday claimed the 23-year old woman had told advocates that she had not “changed her mind’’ about the termination as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asserted but had simply sought counselling.
However, in an strongly worded attack, Mr Dutton said last night some advocates should “ashamed of their lies’’ over her pregnancy termination.
“A woman was flown by charter flight from Nauru to Sydney for a pregnancy termination,’’ Mr Dutton said. “The woman has decided not to proceed with the termination. Comments from some advocates to the contrary are a fabrication, while others appear to be using this woman’s circumstance for their own political agenda.
“They should be ashamed of their lies. The woman was chartered back to Nauru. The woman was bought to Australia for medical attention not for a migration outcome.’’
Lawyers for the Somali woman raped on Nauru who had asked for an abortion in Australia have flatly rejected Prime Minister Turnbull’s claim the woman decided against an abortion after she was flown to Australia for the procedure.
“The information I have is that woman in question changed her mind about seeking a termination and was deemed fit to fly,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in New Zealand on Saturday.
Mr Dutton warned that Australia would now allow medical treatment to be used by lawyers as a ruse to deliver legal outcomes.
Last week he accused some refugees of running “a racket’’ to use medical treatment as an excuse to come to Australia and then seek legal injunctions to prevent their returns.
Violent extremism part of contemporary Australia, says Victoria's Leftist Premier
He is clearly untoubled by Muslim attacks
Two weeks after a radicalised teen fatally shot a police worker in NSW, Victoria has not ruled out supporting Commonwealth plans to lower the age at which a control order can be obtained against a terrorism suspect, but says it requires more information from the Turnbull government.
However, back at Spring Street, a war of words erupted late last week, with Mr Andrews accused of "waving a white flag" by candidly suggesting that violent extremism is here to stay.
"We've got a range of work going on at the moment and I wouldn't pre-empt any announcements that we might make," the Premier said when asked if he supported lowering the threshold, "but all of us, as Victorians and indeed Australians, have to accept that violent extremism is part of a contemporary Australia."
The comments come as a ministerial taskforce led by Deputy Premier James Merlino works behind the scenes on a range of initiatives to counter radicalisation among disengaged youth, and to strengthen ties with faith communities.
But the state Coalition seized on the Premier's views, accusing Mr Andrews adopting a defeatist attitude rather than showing leadership on the issue.
"Daniel Andrews by his comments... appears to be waving a white flag and saying to Australians that they should accept violent extremism as a part of Australian life. Victorians should not have to accept that violent extremism is here to stay," said the opposition's shadow attorney general John Pesutto. "Victorians expect and deserve a government that aspires to a safe and tolerant community."
The ongoing debate over violent extremism intensified this month following the shooting of NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng, who was killed by 15-year-old Farhad Jabar? outside the NSW police headquarters in Parramatta.
In the wake of the tragedy, the Baird government wrote to Malcolm Turnbull pushing to lower the age in which control orders can apply, from 16 to 14 – a move that was adopted by the federal government last week.
New laws to be introduced in the next fortnight mean that terrorism suspects as young as 14 would soon be subject to special orders restricting their movements. Authorities will also be given the ability to monitor subjects more closely to ensure they are complying with the orders, and a new offence against "incitement of genocide" has been proposed.
Asked if the Victorian government supported reducing the threshold age for control orders, state Attorney General Martin Pakula replied: "The federal Attorney-General has not raised these proposals with me and I look forward to receiving further information from the Commonwealth government about their bill. There have been preliminary discussions at officer level but no agreement has been reached."
NSW has also pushed for law enforcement agencies to be allowed to hold terror suspects without charge for 28 days – double the current 14-day period. On that front, Mr Pakula said: "The NSW government hasn't provided the other states and territories with detail of their proposal. Clearly this requires further discussion between all states and territories."
Australia wins World's Best Steak in first ever global challenge
The steaks were high, but the word is in: Australia has the best steak in the world. Australia picked up four gold medals and the title for the World's Best Steak in the first ever World Steak Challenge, held in London's Hyde Park.
The competition judged 70 steaks from 10 different countries including England, United States, Canada and Japan.
The top prize was awarded to Frank Albers for a Jack's Creek Wagyu Angus cross that was 450 days grain fed. There were 11 gold medal-winning steaks, with Australia claiming four medals; more than any other country.
The judges found that Australia's grain fed Angus and Wagyu steaks had the best quality of beef of all the contenders.
The chair of judges, George McCartney, told event organisers in a video that all entries were of a high quality. "It was a difficult task to find one that was a level above the rest," Mr McCartney said. "It's very important to show worldwide of the good eating quality of steak."
Another judge, Professor Jeff Wood, said all the judges had different perspectives in the decision-making process. "But my perspective is I want flavour, and I want tenderness, and I want them in the right ratio. Those are the things I'm looking for," he said.
In the end, Australian beef was proved to be a cut above the rest, delivering on both flavour and tenderness
18 October, 2015
A defence of Muslim hostility from "New Matilda"
Using a typical Leftist strategy, Michael Brull looks at only part of the story in his article below. He addresses in general terms what blind Freddie knows is in fact an issue about Muslims. The plain fact is that Muslims constantly demand that we change what we do to accommodate them and express so much hostility to Australian society that some of them go out and randomly shoot innocent Australians who have done nothing to them. There are some peaceful Muslims but there are a lot of creeps too.
So it is reasonable to suggest that if they dislike us and our arrangements so much, why don't they go elsewhere? And representatives of both major Australian political parties have done just that recently. Even Neil El-Kadomi, the chairman of Parramatta Mosque, who condemned extremists in his Friday sermon last week was worried enough to say: “If you don’t like Australia, leave". He was a rare Muslim in saying that, however. He was obviously worried about backlash.
And in making such comments, all three were saying that Australia's tolerance has its limits, as all tolerance must. It was saying that our patience with a troublesome subgroup was running out. And there is no doubt that in saying that the speakers were saying what a great majority of Australians think.
But Leftists like Muslims. They are united in hate. Leftists share with most Muslims a great dissatisfaction with current Western society generally -- and Australian society in particular. Both groups want to destroy the existing arrangements in this country -- what Leftists used to call "the system". I imagine that some far-Leftists still use that term.
So that is where Brull comes in. He mounts an attack on "go back" talk under the pretext that such talk is intolerant and bigoted. And he makes his case by saying that such talk is IN GENERAL intolerant and bigoted -- which indeed it can be.
But circumstances alter cases and Muslims are a particular case. A major reason why we have courts and judges is that general principles don't cover equally well all the cases they might be applied to. And that is where the Muslim situation is going. So far we have put up with their antics but there are limits to tolerance. Brull seems to think there should be none.
But I doubt that he really thinks that. I think he implies that as a way of defending Muslims only. Does he think racism should be tolerated, for instance? I am pretty sure he doesn't. But if we reject racial supremacism, why should we tolerate Muslim supremacism? Why should we not tell them to take their supremacist attitudes elsewhere?
Religious supremacism is not exactly the same as racial supremacism but both are obnoxious to non-members of the groups concerned. They are both offensive. And we don't tolerate offensiveness these days do we?
Malcolm Turnbull may be a sophisticated lawyer, but it didn’t take long for him to join in the national dog-whistle. That is, “It is not compulsory to live in Australia. if you find Australian values are, you know, unpalatable, then there’s a big wide world out there and people have got freedom of movement”. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, unable to oppose official racism from the Coalition, rushed to agree: “If you really hate Australia, well then you should go.”
Though it is in a sense predictable, it should be regarded as strange that in the name of Australian values, the major parties are embracing intolerance. Though we are supposedly a secular country, mainstream political discourse is approaching consensus on political dogmas that shouldn’t be challenged. Those who adopt “Australian” values – whatever those might be – can stay in Australia. Everyone else should leave.
There are lots of reasons someone might want to live in a country. I don’t see that one reason is more valid than another. One person might live in Australia because he loves the country. Another might do so because she loves her family. Another person might just live her because that’s where she was born, and out of inertia isn’t interested in looking into living in other countries. Any citizen of Australia can live here for whatever reason they want.
Attorney-General George Brandis once scandalised many Australians with the comment that we have the right to be bigots. Brandis expressed horror that a man could be taken to “federal court merely because he expressed an opinion about a social or political matter”. Yet it seems to be perfectly acceptable to repeatedly, openly state that people with unpopular political views should leave Australia. It seems only those who adhere to official orthodoxies are welcome.
Saying that those who don’t share Australian values should leave contains within it a certain dog-whistle. Suggesting that dissidents should leave implies that there is something less Australian about them than the rest of us. It doesn’t quite go so far as to say that they are foreign. Just that they would be happier somewhere which is foreign. And as it so happens, this rhetoric is targeted at Muslims who don’t like Australian values.
Though this may offend Australian patriots, if intolerance of political unorthodoxy is to be an Australian value, I think Australia should change. Indeed, I think we would benefit from importing values from another country. That is, from revisiting principles of freedom of thought established over 70 years ago in the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
1000 crimes on building sites
The Turnbull government will today use evidence of rising “lawlessness” and union militancy on building sites revealed in the industry watchdog’s latest annual report to launch a fresh attack over the CFMEU’s influence on Bill Shorten and the Australian Labor Party.
The Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate investigated almost 1000 breaches of federal workplace laws in the year to June — overwhelmingly by Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union officials — and its report cites “alarming rates” of lawlessness and an “increasing battle” against the militant union.
Penalties levelled against unionists by the courts for right-of-entry breaches jumped tenfold in 2014-15, and those imposed for coercion jumped 64 per cent. There was a 50 per cent rise in legal action, mostly directed at the CFMEU, the report states, noting that Queensland was a “hotspot” for new complaints.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said yesterday that the Fair Work Building and Construction report, to be tabled in federal parliament today, “further confirms the disturbing reality that has been obvious in the building industry for far too long”.
“The independent regulator, the courts and the police have all expressed their serious concerns about the CFMEU’s culture of contempt for the law,” Senator Cash told The Australian.
“This is the same union that Bill Shorten relies on for his leadership and who the Labor Party relies on for their policy direction.”
Unlawful behaviour resulted in higher infrastructure costs, delayed projects, lost jobs, lost opportunities and stalled growth, she added. “We must end the ingrained culture of fear and intimidation.”
In his forward statement to the report, inspectorate head Nigel Hadgkiss says: “I regret to report that the 2014-15 financial year has been marked by alarming rates of lawlessness in the building and construction industry.
“I believe the contents of this annual report demonstrate two important points: firstly that the rule of law is severely lacking in the industry; and secondly, that the agency is doing all it can within its jurisdiction and means to curb that lawlessness.”
Mr Hadgkiss says the agency is “winning many battles in court against unlawful behaviour but we are not winning the war to stamp out this unlawfulness or the notion by some participants that it is acceptable to break the law in this industry — it is not.”
The FWBC report reveals the agency has been instrumental in supplying material to the trade union royal commission, referring more than 125 incidents dating back to 2006 to the inquiry.
The commission requested further details for about half of those matters.
Of the 948 breaches of commonwealth workplace laws investigated by the FWBC in 2014-15 — up from 890 the previous year — 40 per cent were contraventions of right-of-entry laws, with freedom of association, unlawful industrial action and coercion the “other significant” areas.
Penalties imposed as a result of FWBC litigation in 2014-15 totalled $1.4 million — the fourth year that penalties yielded by the agency and its predecessors topped $1m.
Overall, new investigations fell from 327 in 2013-14 to 197, as the FWBC referred more complaints about wages and conditions to the Fair Work Ombudsman to focus on “core” activities such as unlawful industrial action, coercion and right-of-entry breaches.
Yet the number of new investigations in Queensland rose as the state remained dominated by “hot spots” of unlawful industrial action, leading the agency to redeploy staff to Brisbane.
The number of legal cases commenced rose to a record.
The FWBC intervened 26 separate times in the past year in Fair Work Commission decisions on issuing right-of-entry permits for union officials.
It received more than 3000 requests for assistance, with more than 2000 coming through the agency’s 1800 hotline.
The agency also relied heavily on hard-won compulsory examination powers, which Mr Hadgkiss said had become a “critical tool in breaking down the walls of silence in the industry”. The report notes that the government extended the agency’s compulsory powers for two years before they were due to expire in May. The government is likely to use the findings in the report to bolster its case in its battle to restore the more powerful Australian Building and Construction Commission, which held tougher penalties, after its legislation was blocked in the Senate.
Mr Hadgkiss quotes Federal Court judge John Logan’s June decision against the CFMEU that notes that an industrial organisation persistently “engaging in unlawful conduct cannot expect to remain registered”.
Europe prepares to kick off free trade talks with Australia
As part of a new trade and investment strategy announced on Wednesday, the European Commission said it would seek authorisation from its 28 members to open separate negotiations with "close partners" Australia and New Zealand.
Any deal with the EU would have big implications for Australian farmers which have long been pushing for lower tariffs and greater access to a European market of some 500 million customers.
However, the EU announcement said any deal would need to take into account "agricultural sensitivities" with European farmers likely to oppose any substantial relaxation of protectionist measures for sheep, beef and dairy imports.
Agriculture in the EU is heavily subsidised, with payments under the Common Agriculture Policy accounting for 40 per cent of the organisation's budget.
According to the European Commission, Australia ranked as the EU's 21 largest trade while the EU represented Australia's third largest trading partner after China and Japan in 2014. Total trade in goods amounted to €38.7 billion in 2014.
Australia's exports to the EU have traditionally been dominated by mineral commodities and energy as well as agricultural products while EU's exports to Australia are predominantly manufactured goods such as cars.
The European Commission said the new trade and investment policy was a direct response to the "current intense debate on trade in the EU - including on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership".
Australia this month signed the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, which will create a free-trade area covering 40 per cent of the global economy aimed at addressing "21st century trade issues" such as intellectual property protections, digital trade rights and protections for investors. The TPP followed another high-profile free trade deal struck with China in June.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb said a deal with the EU was a "missing piece" after the conclusion of the other agreements.
A number of steps must be completed for formal negotiations to begin. First, the EU will conduct an impact assessment of the FTA. Second, it will commission a study to examine areas of negotiation. The European Council's 28 members must also give their permission to open negotiations but EU officials are confident previous consultation mean this stage is a formality.
One of the goals of the EU trade policy is to "expanding measures to support sustainable development, fair and ethical trade and human rights".
The potential focus on human rights clauses has been a source of tension in the past. Former EU ambassador Brendon Nelson has previously argued Australia should never sign a free trade agreement with the EU if talks included demands for tough clauses on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
A trade deal with Europe was discussed at last November's G20 meeting in Brisbane
Australia’s jobless rate steady at 6.2%
Australia’s unemployment rate remained stable at 6.2% in September, data showed on Thursday, with some analysts suggesting it may have peaked as the economy moves away from a dependence on mining.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed that in rounded terms, some 5,100 jobs were lost from the economy, with full-time positions falling by about 13,900 and part-time roles increasing by around 8,900.
The seasonally adjusted reading was better than analysts’ expectations of an increase to 6.3%, although the market was disappointed with the decline in the number of jobs.
In unrounded percentage terms, the data were more positive, with unemployment dipping slightly from 6.22% in August to 6.16% in September.
The Australian dollar slipped by a third of a US cent to 73.06 US cents.
“It’s moving in the right direction,” JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy told AFP, adding that the latest unemployment figures reinforced positive readings from forward-looking labour force surveys. “We’ve probably seen the worst of it in terms of the rise in the jobless rate.”
The participation rate - which measures the proportion of adults in work or looking for work - eased from 65% to 64.9%. [currently 62.6 percent in the US]
The unemployment rate has fluctuated between 6%-6.4%, a decade high, over the past year as Australia emerges from an unprecedented mining investment boom that has helped the economy avoid a recession for 24 years.
The central bank has slashed interest rates to a record low of 2% to boost economic activity outside the resources sector, but such industries have so far been slow to fill the gap left by the fall in mining investment.
Despite this, the unemployment rate has yet to hit the 6.5% peak that the Reserve Bank of Australia forecast amid the transition to non-resources driven growth.
“Two per cent year-on-year employment growth is not bad,” Deutsche Bank’s Phil O’Donaghoe told AFP, adding that he expected the cash rate to remain unchanged for some months amid “reasonably robust” jobs growth.
The figures came as new consumer and business confidence indicators recorded modest rises after multi-millionaire former banker and businessman Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister when he ousted Tony Abbott in a party coup last month.
16 October, 2015
Australia's largest coal mine free to proceed after Feds give approval. Greenies horrified
The nation's largest coal mine is free to proceed after Environment Minister Greg Hunt MP approved it with "the strictest conditions in Australian history", in a decision declared "a disaster" by environment groups.
Mr Hunt on Thursday said the Carmichael coal mine proposed by Indian mining giant Adani has been given the green light "in accordance with national environment law" after the Federal Court in August set aside the previous approval.
The project, which will produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal for export a year, has faced staunch opposition because its Abbot Point terminals are located close to the Great Barrier Reef.
Opponents have already flagged an intention to launch a legal challenge to the latest approval.
The government decision clears a regulatory hurdle, yet there are still questions over how the $16 billion project will be financed. National Australia Bank has said it will not fund the mine and other banks are being pressured to follow suit.
The court previously said Mr Hunt had not properly considered advice about two threatened species – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.
Mr Hunt on Thursday said his approval for the project, in the Galilee Basin in remote central Queensland, considered additional information provided by Adani and environmental groups.
The approval, which includes a rail line, would be "subject to 36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history".
These include implementing all advice from an independent expert scientific committee and protecting and improving 31,000 hectares of southern black throated finch habitat.
The approval will require $1 million funding for research programs to improve conservation of threatened species over 10 years, and strict groundwater monitoring and action triggers would protect Doongmabulla Springs, Mr Hunt said.
Mr Hunt has the power to suspend or revoke the approval and penalties will apply if conditions are breached.
The Department of Environment will monitor the mine and Adani must provide a groundwater management and monitoring plan.
The Mackay Conservation Group launched its Federal Court challenge in January, alleging greenhouse gas emissions from the mine, vulnerable species and Adani's environmental track record had not been taken into account.
Mr Hunt said the court set aside the mine's earlier approval at the request of the government.
Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Ellen Roberts said the approval "risks threatened species, precious ground water, the global climate and taxpayers' money".
"[Mr] Hunt is sacrificing threatened species ... and precious ground water resources for the sake of a mine that simply does not stack up economically," Ms Roberts said, adding the black throated finch would probably be pushed to extinction.
She said the conditions set by Mr Hunt did not adequately deal with the serious implications of the mine, which "can't be offset".
Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Shani Tager said the mine would be "a complete disaster for the climate and the Great Barrier Reef".
"This project means more dredging in the Great Barrier Reef, more ships through its waters and more carbon emissions," she said.
Adani welcomed the decision, saying the initial legal hurdle was a "technicality" prompted by a mistake by the Department of the Environment.
In a statement, the company said it was always "confident in the soundness of the broader approvals, that the species involved had been protected by conditions, and that the technical error would be promptly rectified".
"Today's announcement ... makes clear that these concerns have been addressed, reflected in rigorous and painstaking conditions," it said.
The company intended to deliver mine, rail and port projects in Queensland creating 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested into community services, Adani said. The jobs figure has been disputed.
Lobby group GetUp! on Thursday said its members had already helped fund legal action against the mine, and the organisation was "exploring the legal opportunities available to us" in light of the latest decision.
"This coal mine is the dumbest, most dangerous and uneconomic development in Australia," senior campaigner Sam Regester said.
"We are calling on GetUp! members and the community to stand up and fight this mine again. We've beaten it before and we can beat it again."
Muslim identity of Bendigo gang rapists covered up
No, this is not about the Bendigo Bank’s rapacious associates who have a financial interest in the land surrounding the proposed mega mosque. Nor is it about how the Bendigo Bank cancelled the accounts of all those who objected to the rape of their city. Nor is it about the corrupted Bendigo councillors who did not declare an interest.
And it’s not even about the Bendigo Bank’s violation of community sentiments in promoting the crass Islamification of one of Australia’s historic and iconic cities.
No, but do you recall that ghastly gang rape of a young Bendigo mother… a case that had completely disappeared under a media blackout?
Well, a whistleblower has disclosed the filthy tactics employed by Bendigo’s newly empowered Muslims: “I was working for the DPP’s department of human services at the time and was directly involved in this case. I am reluctant to openly disclose this type of information as former colleagues have faced legal action for far less.”
The anonymous whistleblower went on to say, “Actually, they were all African Muslims and there were more than six involved in the savage rape but only six were formally charged. No adults were convicted.
“It was common knowledge at the time that the adult offenders conspired, under legal advice, to blame the younger offenders for the crime as juveniles would receive the more lenient sentences and a media blackout would be imposed on the entire case”, he said.
"As a result, details of the case have never surfaced and the adults involved, Mohammed Elnour, 19, Akoak Manon, 19, and Mohammed Zaoli, 22, walked away scot free after having raped the poor woman 14 times while her two children were present in her home.
“All three juvenile rapists spent some time in remand, yet only two were sentenced and both served no more than 12 months.
“Not one of the gang ever admitted guilt nor did they show any remorse for their actions. It was common knowledge that the offenders received financial assistance for their legal defence from the Muslim community, but only after it was confirmed the victim was a young non-Muslim Australian woman.
“DHS and Vicpol members involved in the case were absolutely disgusted by all aspects of the crime itself and the way it was handled but we all were constantly reminded that we would face legal action if found to have disclosed information to the media.
“One thing I would love to share with all Australians is the time when two of the offenders were visited by their family (a loving moderate Muslim family) for the first time since they had been in remand.
“After the offenders had informed the family that it was, ‘All okay because the victim was just an Aussie girl’, the entire family stood and hugged the offenders in relief, the mother was crying tears of joy as she knew the family would have been shunned by the Muslim community if the victim had been a Muslim girl.
“I hope you see fit to share this information with the Australian people and continue the great work.”
Bendigo’s past will hold a proud place in the hearts of Australians. Its future will hold nothing but contempt.
The world's most cautious banking system in Australia
Remained not only alive but profitable during the 2008 world banking collapse. Dividends to shareholders and loans for housing continued as usual
It is always cheaper to buy an umbrella when the sun is shining.
So it is in Australia, where regulators aren’t waiting for a remarkable property-lending boom to go bust before they force the country’s megabanks to take precautions. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority imposed higher capital requirements and more stringent risk weightings on property assets in July. In response, Australian banks have announced 17 billion Australian dollars ($12 billion) in fresh equity raising.
The latest is No. 2 Westpac Banking, which Wednesday launched a A$3.5 billion equity raising that will bring its capital ratios closer to the new standards. The offer price, A$25.50 a share, is a 13% discount to the pre-deal price, accounting for a dividend paid to existing shareholders.
But as bank equity raisings go, the pricing is propitious, with the offer price at around 2.2 times Westpac’s current tangible book value, more than double what many European banks can hope to get.
Westpac controls a quarter of the residential mortgage market in Australia and is combining the equity raising with an interest-rate increase of 0.20 percentage point for property borrowers with floating-rate loans. Westpac should hope that Australia’s other three major banks follow suit, so that it doesn’t lose market share.
If all four banks succeed in raising rates—which they argue is a natural consequence of the increased capital they are required to hold against home mortgages—that will in turn put pressure on the Reserve Bank of Australia to counteract the de facto tightening by going in the opposite direction and cutting benchmark rates. That would provide a net interest-margin boost to the sector.
Investors signaled their unhappiness about the prospect of a raising, sending Westpac’s shares down nearly 12% since regulators announced the new hurdles. But the share discount is in line with what rival Commonwealth Bank of Australia offered in its A$5 billion offering in August.
Westpac’s additional shares dilute existing shareholders by about 4%, making it only marginally more difficult to achieve the 15%-plus return on equity investors are accustomed to. Goldman Sachs calculates this year’s return on equity post-offering will be a relatively robust 14.9%.
The bigger challenge for Australia’s banks, Westpac included, will be to maintain such returns when property prices finally crack. Instead of slowing along with Australia’s China-driven, commodities-dependent economy, property has been resilient, extending a generational bull run. Prices in July were up nearly 10% from a year before.
A property collapse, predicted for years, has yet to arrive. Some hope it never will. But if it does, Australia’s banks will have been happy to raise capital at today’s prices rather than under duress.
Turnbull squashes envious Leftist attack on his wealth
MALCOLM Turnbull today acknowledged he and wife Lucy had been lucky and were wealthier than most Australians who worked harder than them. But the Prime Minister, the richest member of Parliament, made no apologies for his wealth: “We’ve worked hard, we’ve paid our taxes, we’ve given back.”
Mr Turnbull was responding to Labor attacks on his investments in funds based in the Cayman Islands, a tactic that has highlighted how well-off the Prime Minister has become.
He returned the attack, accusing Labor of taking Parliament down the “the avenue of the politics of envy”.
It was a strong response, which left the Labor benches quieter than they were when Opposition Leader Bill Shorten put the question to Mr Turnbull.
“I don’t believe my wealth, or frankly most people’s wealth, is entirely a function of hard work,” Mr Turnbull said. “Of course hard work is important but, you know, there are taxi drivers that work harder than I ever have and they don’t have much money. “There are cleaners that worker than I ever have or you ever have and they don’t have much money.
“This country is built upon hard work, people having a go and enterprise. “Some of us will be more successful than others, some of us are fortunate in the turn of business, some of us are fortunate in the intellect we inherit from our parents.”
For a second day, the Prime Minister took questions on his and wife Lucy’s investments — all declared in public and none considered illegal — and repeated his argument he had sent his money off shore to avoid a conflict of interest from Australian investments.
He said the investment vehicles had been selected by a New York-based Australian financial adviser Josephine Lyndon, who has managed that portfolio. He said: “Is tax being paid in Australia by Australians? In my case and in Lucy’s case, in the case of our family interests, the answer is absolutely yes, in full.”
And he turned on Labor’s leader Mr Shorten who, he said, “could be talking today about the economy, could be asking about growth, could be proposing some new ideas on innovation or enterprise”.
Instead, he said, Labor wanted “Just another wander down the avenue of the politics of envy, just another smear”.
15 October, 2015
Nightmare behind the diversity dream revealed
Quite aside from their hostility to Western ways, Muslim refugees in Australia and elsewhere are non-contributors to the economy, with up to 9 out of 10 on welfare. So much for the theorists' dream that they will pay the taxes needed to support increasing numbers of the dependent elderly
Europe was once the exemplar of the good society when seen through the dreamy eyes of Australian sophisticates.
Now, like the images of disease and deformity on cigarette packets, Europe serves as a graphic warning. We must quit our addiction to social engineering before it's too late.
The European financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated the limits to government spending. This year's chaos at the borders shows the limits of mass migration. Europe has been eroded of social as well as financial capital.
Anxiety surfaces in many different ways. In Sweden, a woman emailed her prime minister to tell him she had moved out from the suburb in which she was born because it was impossible to walk her dogs "due to the non-Europeans driving on the sidewalks".
"If you didn't move out of the way, they would jump out of the car and hit you," she complained.
In Pocking in Lower Bavaria, the local school recently advised children to wear "restrained everyday clothes" after 200 male asylum-seekers were billeted in the German village. "Transparent tops or blouses, short shorts or miniskirts could lead to misunderstandings," it said.
A local politician told Die Welt advice of this kind was "absolutely necessary".
"If underage Muslim boys go to the swimming pool, they are completely overwhelmed to see girls in bikinis," he told the newspaper. "In the boy's culture, the bare skin of women is totally frowned upon. They run after the girls harassing them, without intending to, but of course it triggers fears."
In developed Western societies the social fabric is being stretched to the limit by the audacious post-war diversity project. The ease of modern travel and the UN's outdated refugee charter have supercharged this social experiment.
The utopian dreamers who see virtue in diversity seem oblivious to the damage they have done. If only we were nicer to our guests, they insist, then everything would be fine.
The severity of the social fracturing is seldom reflected in the mainstream media. Well-intended journalists and editors are uncomfortable about giving oxygen to the ugly side of multiculturalism. Strict social sanctions have been imposed on anybody breaking the code of niceness.
Now, thanks in part to the internet, the thought police are losing control. On social media, ordinary citizens share information - some of it correct, some little more than rumour - in a space where they no longer feel ashamed to speak their minds.
It is there, and almost nowhere else, that you will read about the 16-year-old girl who was raped last month in Mering in Bavaria by a suspect with brown skin speaking in broken German. Such a crime was unheard of until now in the quiet market town. Understandably, the finger of suspicion points to a nearby camp for mostly male asylum-seekers.
The internet also reveals that the proportion of crimes committed by asylum-seekers in Germany has doubled in three years from 3.3 per cent to 7.7 per cent. There has been a sharp rise in personal injury, from 3863 to 9655. Shoplifting cases have risen from 4974 to 13,894. Reports of this nature, buried in the back pages of the German-language press, are amplified by social media. Some may call it fearmongering; others may say it gives people the confidence to say what they actually think.
Scarily, Germany's Angela Merkel has responded by preparing to send the thought police into Facebook. "Are you working on this?" she was overheard asking Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg last month. "Yeah," replied Zuckerberg.
The idea that private thoughts could be expunged on the orders of a German chancellor is too horrible to contemplate. Yet Merkel nurses the delusion that a quick word with Zuckerberg will silence discontent.
Merkel has become a deeply polarising figure, splitting Europeans into opposite camps. There are those who think she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize and those who think she has completely lost the plot.
Where on earth did she think 800,000 migrants (a figure that could blow out to 1.5 million, according to some estimates) might live? There's a chronic housing shortage in German cities in the west where the jobs are, but a glut of accommodation in the country and the east.
A 2010 study by the Institute for the German Economy found the unemployment rate for those without a German passport is 14 per cent. Among those from Islamic countries it was even higher: 55 per cent for Lebanese migrants, 46 per cent for Iraqis and 28 per cent for Afghans.
Elsewhere in Europe, the picture is much the same; asylum-seekers are far likelier to live off welfare than locals or migrants who arrive by other means.
The same picture - mercifully on a smaller scale - is emerging in Australia.
A study of 8500 entrants under the humanitarian resettlement program conducted by the Gillard government in 2011 found that more than six out of 10 refugees had failed to get a job after five years. Eighty-three per cent received Centrelink payments. As in Europe, those from Islamic countries fared worse. Fewer than one in 10 Iraqi and Afghan refugees had found work; 94 in every 100 were receiving welfare.
At a time when the federal government is devoting considerable resources to helping people escape the welfare trap, a new cohort of hand-out dependency is an alarming development.
Hard data on how asylum-seekers fare is difficult to come by, not least one suspects because of the squeamishness of those who compile the statistics.
Economically inactive migrants are a new phenomena in Australia, one that the present asylum system appears to foster.
Until now this has never been a country that merely offered shelter; it offered the chance to build a better life. Without work, the chances of that are vanishingly small.
Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees
More parasites for the taxpayer to support
Australia has begun the task of selecting for resettlement 12,000 refugees from the crisis in Syria, with the first group expected to arrive before late December.
Sydney’s Lakemba district is one of Australia’s most multicultural areas. It has become a haven for a family from the Syrian city Homs, which fled to Lebanon before arriving as refugees in Australia at the start of the year.
Youssef al-Kasseh lives with his wife, Hala, and their three children, along with his mother in a small rented house.
Speaking through a translator, he said the horrors of what they left behind are always in their thoughts.
“Life in Homs is very, very bad and no matter how hard I try to explain, it is very hard," said Youssef. "There is killing all the time, people getting taken away, while they have been taken away, they have been killed.”
Detention, torture, death
Youssef said he was detained and tortured by government officials.
“I was taken away and suffered a lot, hit a lot, and suffered not only physically, but also the mental trauma. I have a lot of family and friends that have died,” he said.
His wife Hala is happy to be in Australia, but she also worries about those left behind.
“I have a lot of friends and family in Syria, and I am very, very afraid of how they are living. They have no food, no electricity. Life is very, very hard and I am constantly worried,” she said.
Rallies urging Australia to take in more of those fleeing the conflict in Syria have been held across the country.
New South Wales
More than half of the 12,000 refugees will be resettled in New South Wales, the nation’s most populous state. Displaced women, children and families living in camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey will be given priority.
Coordinating plans for their arrival is Professor Peter Shergold, an academic and businessman.
“It's possible that, compared to many refugee groups accepted in the past, these newcomers may have spent less time in refugee camps," said Shergold.
"They may be more likely, I think, to be educated, have trade and professional skills, have had experience in small business, be more likely to have at least rudimentary English," he said. "And of course, therefore, the challenge. And the vital challenge is how can we harness that education, those skills, so that they can contribute back to Australian society.”
They hope that more of their countrymen and women will follow them to safety in Australia, which will give preference to refugees from persecuted minorities.
Samar Almajzoub, a Syrian community activist, believes Australia should do more and open its doors to members of the Sunni majority.
“We need more refugees here. I think this is [a] small number," said Almajzoub. "The people [who] are suffering there — very, very big number. The minority people, they [are] not suffering as much as the Sunni people and the larger group of people there.”
Australian resettlement officials are now in Jordan to begin assessing Syrian refugees who have been living in camps.
Shorten connected to ‘fake invoices’, royal commission hears
LABOR leader Bill Shorten has been connected to the paying of false invoices to funnel $100,000 a year in payments to the Australian Workers’ Union, a royal commission has heard.
A fake bill for $30,000 worth of advertising is said to be among the bogus invoices paid out by a construction firm.
Julian Rzesniowiecki, the former head of industrial relations on the Thiess-John Holland joint venture that built Melbourne’s EastLink freeway, has told the trade unions royal commission he approved invoices sent in by the AWU in 2005 and 2006 for services that were not delivered or disguised their true purpose.
That purpose, the court heard, was to pay $100,000 a year to the AWU for the three years of the EastLink project, under the terms of an arrangement that would help Thiess-John Holland deliver the freeway project on favourable industrial terms.
Mr Rzesniowiecki said the agreement was established in-principle by his predecessor and Bill Shorten, the then-AWU state secretary, in 2004.
It was then finalised by Mr Rzesniowiecki and Mr Shorten’s successor, Cesar Melhem.
“Mr Melhem and I had a discussion at some point where we settled on the deal,” Mr Rzesniowiecki told the commission.
Mr Rzesniowiecki said the understanding was for Thiess-John Holland to cover the cost of an AWU organiser working on the EastLink project.
However, he said, he and Mr Melhem agreed that the funding of the organiser should “remain a private matter between ourselves and the AWU”.
Australian government writes to Morrissey and Brigitte Bardot to defend plan to kill cats
Outsiders who think they know best but in fact know very little
The Australian government has written to Morrissey and Brigitte Bardot to defend its decision to kill 2 million cats.
The planned cull is aimed at protecting Australian wildlife decimated by feral cats. But last month the singer called the cull “idiocy” and said the cats were “smaller versions of Cecil the Lion”.
Morrissey said the Australian government was a “committee of sheep-farmers who have zero concerns about animal welfare or animal respect”.
The former Smiths frontman is not the only famous figure to be miserable about the death of 2 million cats. Bardot, a long-standing animal welfare advocate, has written an open letter to Greg Hunt, the federal environment minister, decrying the cull.
“This animal genocide is inhumane and ridiculous,” the French actor wrote. “In addition to being cruel, killing these cats is absolutely useless since the rest of them will keep breeding.
“Your country is sullied by the blood of millions of innocent animals so please, don’t add cats to this morbid record.”
The Australian government has now formally responded to Morrissey and Bardot through its threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews.
In letters seen by Guardian Australia, Andrews tells both: “I would like to commend you for your commitment to, and advocacy for, animals and their welfare.”
Andrews adds, however, that feral cats are an invasive species responsible for the extinction of at least 27 Australian mammals, such as the lesser bilby, desert bandicoot and large-eared hopping-mouse.
“We don’t want to lose any more species like these,” he wrote. “It is with this sentiment in mind that the Australian government has taken a stance on feral cats; for the protection of our native species that belong here.”
The government considers feral cats to be the greatest threat to Australia’s small mammals, birds and lizards, with 124 endangered species at risk from predation. There is a rough estimate of 20 million feral cats in Australia. Each kills at least five animals a day. The government plans to reduce this number by 2 million by 2020 through trapping, shooting and a new poison bait.
Andrews told Guardian Australia: “I never thought I’d write to Brigitte Bardot. It’s an unusual situation. I’m glad people like them care about animal welfare and I care deeply about animal welfare too.
“The threat to our wildlife are clear and feral cats are top of the list. We don’t hate cats but we don’t have a choice. We will do this as humanely as possible and we will reduce the net suffering of animals in Australia.”
Andrews said the RSPCA was involved in the process of the cull to ensure it was done humanely. He rejected Bardot’s argument that the feral cats could be desexed.
“Trapping, neutering and releasing 20 million cats would not be justifiable in terms of cost,” he said. “Also, we’d be releasing a predator that will kill five animals a day for the rest of its life. It’s not justifiable. We can’t accept feral cats as part of the Australian ecology because if we do then we accept the extinction of bilbies, bandicoots and numbats.
“I sleep very well at night knowing what we are doing. Australians support this. Brigitte Bardot and Morrissey have a lack of understanding of Australia and what we are losing. They aren’t Australians, they aren’t experiencing the extinction crisis we have here.”
Fair Work Bill Fails On Union Right Of Entry Abuse
Master Builders Australia, in welcoming the Senate’s passing of some parts of the Government’s Fair Work Amendment Bill, is concerned and disappointed that that reforms to stop building unions abusing right of entry provisions were not similarly supported.
“The Royal Commission has exposed compelling evidence of how building unions abuse right of entry privileges as party of their bullying of builders to sign EBAs that increase the cost of construction that ultimately is paid for by the community,” Wilhelm Harnisch CEO of Master Builders Australia said.
“Master Builders is calling for reforms to curb building union abuse of right of entry to be re-examined by the Parliament following the Government’s receipt of Commissioner Heydon’s Final Report,” he said.
“In the meantime despite Master Builders’ disappointment, the community will benefit from the legislation preventing unions indefinitely delaying construction of community facilities in pursuit of their industrial agendas,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.
“Master Builders acknowledges the pragmatic and reasoned approach taken by the cross bench Senators in supporting the Bill and looks forward to the Senators re-examining their support for the rejected right of entry provisions following the receipt of the Heydon Royal Commission’s Final Report and also their support for the restoration of the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC),” Wilhelm Harnisch said.
14 October, 2015
Divide on migration amid fears Muslims won't integrate
The Australian Institute of Progress does seem to be politically centrist but their poll was an online one -- and such polls notoriously give unrepresentative results. They have some uses but are useless for parameter estimation. The correlations may be interesting but the percentages should be ignored.
The report below also fails to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration, which is pretty brain-dead. Attitudes to the two tend to differ widely. Lumping them together obscures the truth. More professional surveys have found about two-thirds opposed to illegal immigration -- JR
The nation is deeply divided about Muslim migration, with research revealing widespread concern that immigrants from Islamic countries will not integrate into mainstream society and hold beliefs that are incompatible with Australian culture.
Underscoring the challenge Malcolm Turnbull faces as he seeks to promote "mutual respect" among different cultural and religious groups, a survey on migration attitudes has indicated that almost one in two voters believes an increase in Muslim migrants has been "bad" or "very bad" for the nation. This compares with 8 per cent who think it has been "good" or "very good", and 42 per cent who are neutral.
The survey findings from a Brisbane-based think tank, the Australian Institute of Progress, emerged as the Prime Minister today joins other political leaders to meet Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders to launch a "national day of unity" promoting community and interfaith harmony. At pains to limit an anti-Muslim backlash in the wake of the Parramatta shooting of a police worker and seeking to reset relations with the Islamic community, Mr Turnbull said yesterday the actions of extremists were undermining "the most successful multicultural society in the world".
While the AIP research paper finds Australians are overwhelmingly supportive of current or even higher levels of immigration, the survey identifies "deep-rooted" concern in some sections of the population about the cultural impact of Islamic migration.
Sixty-nine per cent of respondents included in the Australian Attitudes to Immigrationreport were in favour of continued -migration at current or higher levels, compared with 27 per cent who wanted to see fewer migrants.
The findings mirror those of a Scanlon Foundation Social -Cohesion survey from last year, which recorded a low level of concern about immigration, with 35 per cent believing the immigration intake to Australia was "too high" while 58 per cent agreed it was "about right" or "too low". The Scanlon survey also gauged community attitudes to various -religious groups, finding less than 5 per cent were negative towards Christian and Buddhist faiths, but 25 per cent had expressed negative attitudes towards Muslims.
[The Scanlon Foundation appears to be some sort of Leftist do-gooder organization devoted to encouraging migration. Their figures about migration should therefore be taken with a large grain of salt. I tried to find on their site details of the study referred to above but I could see no sign of it depite clicking a lot of possible links. Was it so poor that it was taken down? -- JR]
The hostility to Islamic -migrants identified in the AIP research is most strongly felt among Liberal voters (75 per cent) and those who support minor parties other than the Greens (69 per cent). Among Labor and Greens voters, most respondents took a neutral position, but about 20 per cent said Islamic migration had been negative, and 15 per cent believed it to be positive.
AIP executive director Graham Young, a former campaign chairman for the Queensland Liberal Party, said he had been surprised at the depth of feeling uncovered in the survey. "There is a genuine level of concern," Mr Young said. "People are in favour of immigration, so this is not, per se, xenophobia towards someone who does not have a European or Anglo-Saxon background. This is a specific group that we are specifically worried about."
The qualitative survey, derived from questionnaires of almost 1400 people last November, cited concerns about a potential "clash of cultures" based on Islamic -migrants holding beliefs that were not in line with widespread Australian values. Examples given from across the political spectrum included the perceived treatment of women and homosexuals, the wearing of the burka or niqab, and sharia law being incompatible with Australia's legal system.
"There is a very strong feeling that immigrants from Islamic countries are part of a culture war pitting their way of life and beliefs against ours," the report says.
Mr Young said the findings of the survey, undertaken before the Lindt cafe shooting in Sydney's Martin Place, were not a knee-jerk reaction to recent events.
He said Muslim groups should view the research findings as an indication that more needed to be done to demonstrate that Islam could successfully coexist with other religions groups and secular society. "They need to understand this is not just something that pops up when there is an incidence of -violence; it is something that is strongly held in a large segment of the community," he said.
The report also finds that Labor and Green voters view migration policy measures through the prism of refugee policy, compared with right-wing voters who view it in terms of its economic benefit.
Voters least enthusiastic about immigration were those who supported minor parties other than the Greens, including the Palmer United Party, the Christian Democrats and Family First. Among these "other" minor parties, 43 per cent of respondents wanted -migration reduced a little or a lot, compared with 31 per cent who wanted it increased.
The AIP survey reported that 84 per cent of Labor voters favoured current or higher levels, with only 13 per cent favouring lower levels. Liberal voters were divided, with 40 per cent wanting an increase, 34 per cent believing it should remain unchanged, and 23 per cent believing it should -increase.
Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story
Six months have passed since plans for Australia Consensus were first announced. It has been intriguing and disturbing to see Australian media descriptions of me and my think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, that are ungrounded in reality.
Intriguing because, while Cop-enhagen Consensus has spent a decade working on development priorities, any Australian newspaper reader would be forgiven for believing our efforts are all in the trenches of global warming politics.
Disturbing because some in the Australian press seem to have difficulty distinguishing between journalism and campaigning, especially when they misinterpret data and make up quotes.
Copenhagen Consensus has existed for a decade. With more than 300 of the world's top economists and seven Nobel laureates, we have conducted nine major research projects highlighting the costs and benefits of different investments on topics from HIV-AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa to Latin American development priorities. Only one project - Copenhagen Consensus on Climate in 2009 - dealt exclusively with climate change. Top climate economists and three Nobel laureates asked where a dollar spent could do the most good for climate, for example with reforestation, carbon taxes or technology transfers.
Of 339 research papers published since 2004, just 51 tackle the economics of climate change. (Symptomatic of the state of debate in Australia, I feel compelled to add that all accept the reality of man-made global warming).
For the past 18 months, Copenhagen Consensus has focused on the UN Global Goal agenda, showing its 169 development targets to vary hugely in societal benefits. A Nobel laureate panel found the UN should focus on 19 phenomenal targets including efforts to eradicate tuberculosis, improve girls' schooling, increase family planning and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
As president, my role includes connecting with policymakers, international organisations and the public to ensure this research shapes real-world decisions.
During the past year, my articles and interviews about Copenhagen Consensus research have been published more than 1000 times in 89 countries, from The Age,Washington Post, Times of India to The East African and Venezuela's El Universal. Only a small portion focused on climate change; the vast majority talked about everything from malaria and domestic violence to air pollution and broadband access.
Yet in Australia my name is never published without "climate" by its side. Despite Australia Consensus plans focusing on development and prosperity, Australian reporters regularly have mislabelled it a "climate change think tank".
Recently, two media outlets went further than getting basic details wrong. In August, the Guardian Australia announced that "Lomborg's `consensus centre' was to spend up to $800,000 of its $4 million in government funding on promotion and marketing".
Yet the reporter hadn't stopped to properly fact-check and call us. She had a draft budget in which the University of Western Australia casually labelled some spending "Dissemination, promotion and mar-keting". This was a poor description because the entry covered academic publishing, book printing, multimedia production, websites for academic research, media monitoring, newsletters and mailing lists for research findings. Not the impression left by the Guardian Australia.
Of greater concern, the reporter wasn't actually reading the budget that showed how we would spend government funding but a different budget, mostly consisting of $8m extra from private funding sources. So she mischaracterised the proposed use of the funds and overstated the public component by more than 100 per cent.
We emailed the Guardian Australia to discuss these errors. The journalist did not respond. Her "scoop" has been extensively quoted elsewhere, including in The Conversation.
Despite its tagline "Academic rigour, journalistic flair", The Conversation has offered the most breathtaking example of Australian journalism. In a piece by Mon-ash University media studies lecturer David Holmes, the outlet published an incorrect quote.
Despite our record, Holmes believes that Copenhagen Consensus is climate-focused and we use development as a stalking horse to "attack" climate policies.
He rests this assertion on the claim that in 2013, writing for The Australian, I forgot the name of my own think tank and described it as the "Copenhangen (sic) Consensus Centre for Climate". In Holmes's mind, the veil slipped: my quote revealed that our work is really climate-focused.
Except it didn't. "Copenhagen Consensus Centre for Climate" never appeared in my text. I did refer to the project I mentioned earlier, "Copenhagen Consensus on Climate".
The word "Centre" was added to the quote in The Conversation. Given the article's argument wouldn't make sense without the fabrication, it is difficult to allow for a generous interpretation where this was just an error.
We have tried getting other factual errors acknowledged and fixed in the past. The Conversation told us these were a matter of "differing interpretations". I beg to differ. Campaigning reporters have every right to advance their own perspective, even if I question whether this should be called journalism.
What is dispiriting is when they do not engage with our research or record. Or the facts. Copenhagen Consensus has helped ensure billions of dollars is spent on highly effective measures such as malnutrition.
In any topic, I don't shy away from making unpopular arguments based on what cost-benefit analysis shows. Indeed, in the last months of this year, as global leaders prepare to strike a new climate treaty in Paris, Copenhagen Consensus will focus again on climate as we make the case for an effective treaty with more spent on research into green energy.
No doubt this will lead to further attacks and mischaracterisation of our work. I cannot help but think that this reflects more on the critics than it does on Copenhagen Consensus.
Militant unions have Michaelia Cash on their case
There's a story about Employment Minister Michaelia Cash that dates back to her time as a lawyer at Freehills.
Working on a high-profile industrial relations case against the construction union last decade, Cash stepped into a lift with two union officials. In front of the cameras, the story goes, the union guys had been all smiles. But alone in the lift they "went her" with a shockingly abusive tirade, which -abruptly ended when the lift doors opened and it was time to smile for the cameras again.
"She never forgot that -moment," one of Cash's Canberra confidants says.
The incident might have been in the back of her mind years later when in June she rose to her feet in the upper house as a senator for Western Australia and attacked the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union for defending officials who had committed, she claimed, "outrageous acts of violence against women".
And it must still have been in the back of her mind a mere three months after that in September this year when Malcolm Turnbull promoted her to cabinet and gave her the Coalition's union-busting industrial relations portfolio.
In an interview with The Australian after her appointment, Cash made a frank assessment of the construction union: "They're militants. They don't play by the rules and they should be held -accountable. It's as simple as that."
In the same interview, she praised Margaret Thatcher as a woman who found her way in a man's world and conveyed a difficult message to the people.
It all bolsters Cash's credentials to take on the unions ahead of the findings of the royal commission into trade union governance and corruption, which will report in December. And beyond that, at next year's general election, which is shaping up to be the first to consider workers' wages and conditions since the Coalition's disastrous 2007 defeat over John Howard's Work Choices industrial relations policy.
At the prospect of another such battle, the unions say "bring it on".
Even so, Cash's aside about Thatcher - an enthusiastic response to a question about a 2011 speech to her old high school - stunned the labour movement, playing out in social media land where the unions are king.
"There's a hairstyle that hates unions" went one comment on a blog, referring to Cash's impeccable coiffure, which bears some resemblance to Thatcher's.
Of course, conservative supporters were delighted with the comments. "We have high hopes for her," says the Centre for Independent Studies' James Paterson.
In appointing Cash to the IR role, Turnbull elevated a powerful parliamentary performer.
As the junior immigration minister, she won a federal case against the Maritime Union of Australia over the government's issuance of special purpose visas for offshore oil and gas workers. She took on the union's campaign over 457 visas, accusing them of running the "fraudulent" and "hypocritical" line that she was perpetuating the use of cheap foreign labour.
Says independent senator Bob Day, who has watched Cash from his seat on the crossbenches: "She's one of the most impressive parliamentary performers I've ever seen. She's a big slugger. She hits every ball over the fence for six. That's why they don't ask her many questions; she demolishes them. It's a pity there aren't more like her. She's across her brief. She knows her stuff backwards."
Effervescent and charismatic, Cash was praised for being an energetic and effective junior minister to Scott Morrison and then Peter Dutton in immigration and assisting Tony Abbott on women.
Cash has an excellent relationship with Julie Bishop, the most senior female parliamentarian and a fellow West Australian.
While the two didn't know each other in Perth, since Cash entered parliament in 2008 they're known to have become "mates".
Although Cash's comments some years ago that she was "not a feminist" attracted some fire, she is passionate about increasing workforce participation for women.
Turnbull, in the days after the reshuffle, said he didn't want to wage war with the unions. But it helps him to have a nuclear weapon in his arsenal. Because despite the conditional olive branch the ACTU extended after he seized the leadership from -Abbott, and the amicable feeling at last week's Canberra summit, the unions still might want to wage war with him.
Says one senior union source, "I was telling a meeting of delegates yesterday . Turnbull is a merchant banker. He believes in de-regulation. He is tipping his hand towards penalty rates. There's an argument to be had, and we're going to have it."
To this end, the union movement has amassed a war chest estimated at about $30 million.
The plan for a grassroots door-knocking and cold-calling campaign based on last year's success in the Victorian election using a volunteer army comprising workers from firefighters to teachers to target marginal seats won't prove expensive.
Much of the big spend will go on TV advertising. The labour movement is particularly pleased with the response to the anti-China free-trade agreement ads by Melbourne guru Bill Shannon.
Luke Hilakari, the Victorian Trades Hall secretary who helped to mastermind last year's Victorian campaign, told The Weekend Australian: "If Minister Cash takes cutting penalty rates to the next election we'll fight the Liberal Party all the way to the ballot box."
In recent weeks, penalty rates have become a lightning rod for the IR debate in the community.
Cash says it is an "unfair flashpoint".
Since taking over the portfolio she has backed the view of employer groups that weekend loadings belong in "history" while Turnbull has hinted at the inevitability of penalty rate reform.
But as Turnbull and Cash are at pains to point out, there is no deviation from Coalition policy, which promises not to meddle in the Fair Work Commission's process for setting penalties. The commission is not expected to make a decision before next year.
In an attempt to move the debate along John Hart, of the hospitality industry lobby group Restaurant & Catering Australia has asked Cash to make a submission to the Fair Work Commission pushing the industry's case for penalty rate cuts.
The government has ruled this out until now. But Hart is confident Cash will at least take his plea to reconsider back to cabinet. "We've found her very open," he says.
Next month's Productivity Commission report on its workplace relations inquiry could prove a game changer. Cash promises a "careful and methodical" review of the report, which rules out a snap judgment on whether to adopt the review's recommendations but strongly suggests it will form the case for changes. The Coalition then will seek a mandate from the people to make them.
However, a more immediate test of Cash's powers of persuasion looms ahead of the next election.
Cash is now charged with shepherding the government's workplace relations bills through the Senate, where they have stalled.
Day says the legislation, which includes changes to how workplace agreements are struck under the Fair Work Act, has come up against with "100 years of class warfare rhetoric" from opposition senators. "Even the most benign change or amendment, even changing a comma in the Fair Work Act, the response is always the same, hours and hours of rhetoric: `You don't care about the poor, you only care about the rich. Why are you hitting the most disadvantaged?' Hours and hours," Day says.
"You have to understand most of the opposition are union to their bootstraps. This is what they grew up on. This is what they were weaned on. They eat, sleep and breathe unionised workforce."
Other bills to resurrect the Coalition's powerful Australian Building and Construction Commission watchdog - designed to bring the CFMEU to heel - and changes to the Registered Organisations laws that would bring rules for unions into line with companies were also defeated in the face of insurmountable resistance from Labor and the unions.
"The unions were meeting with the crossbenchers and fuelling an idea in the crossbenchers' heads that (our legislation) . would be a return to Work Choices," says a source close to Cash's predecessor, Eric Abetz.
"The ACTU was up at Parliament House on a regular basis with (crossbenchers) Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus. Good luck to (Cash) trying to change that."
Ultimately, Abetz was unable to make a powerful case for the legislation out of fear of the union backlash. Abetz was "doing exact-ly what he was told to do and keep the temperature down".
Did the Coalition's legislation suffer as a result?
"Of course." What's more, the government's agenda is still to keep "the temperature down on the issue".
It doesn't seem to bode well for the new minister, but Day says Cash does not share Abetz's "dour" demeanour.
"I'm not sure what the previous approach necessarily was," Cash told The Australian in her post-spill interview. "My approach -always was to sit down and talk to people and listen to their concerns if they have any. You have to bring the people with you."
Among the biggest campaigners for industrial relations reform is the building industry lobby Master Builders Australia.
MBA chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch says that to beat the unions in the IR debate in the Senate and more widely across the nation, Turnbull and Cash must demonstrate how every workplace relations reform will benefit communities and households.
It's not an easy task. Arguably, this is what the Productivity Commission was asked by the government do to and its draft report failed to satisfy many. Yet all sides seem to agree on the need for change to usher the economy through the post-mining slump.
Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O'Connor says the pace of change today "makes the Industrial Revolution look like an evolution" and we need a plan to stay competitive. But he won't countenance any cuts to wages.
Industry says it is relying on Turnbull to devise a deft policy that will resonate with the electorate. "Cash needs a story to sell. IR is not an end in itself, it's a means to a broader end," says Harnisch.
Her success will depend on whether she has the support of her department, while working closely with the rest of cabinet. "It's a great portfolio that can make or break her," Harnisch says. "This is only the beginning."
A global bubble looms large, but Labor wants to push us down the wrong path
We are now deep in bubble territory.
Australia's sense of its own prosperity floats in large part on a property bubble while the global economy floats on an unprecedented liquidity created by governments.
"Low rates, almost by definition, build bubbles – stock market bubbles, real estate bubbles, even bubbles in the art market," warns Carl Icahn, one of the world's most prominent financial magnates.
Last week, Icahn took the unusual step of releasing a 14-minute documentary video on YouTube entitled Danger Ahead, to warn of a coming financial storm: "I don't think it's if it will happen, it's when it will happen."
He regrets his reticence in 2007, when he believed a financial storm was building and acted on his fears, but did not think he was public enough about his concerns.
"If more respected investors had warned about the market in '07, we might have avoided the crisis in '08. I've been worried for the past five, six months about the market, and the economy, and the dangerous spot we're in."
He is not making that mistake twice.
If Icahn is even half right, it is worth noting that the alternative government of Australia, led by Bill Shorten, intends to fight the next election on the issues of penalty rates, higher taxes, class warfare and subverting the Free Trade Agreement with China, all relying on union financing and manpower in campaign for marginal seats.
This is not an election strategy, it's a suicide note.
If Labor wins on this mandate, Australia loses. It is Rudd II. But if the electorate decides it does not want a union-dominated government to manage Australia through global financial stress, then Labor loses. It's a high-risk strategy.
The world economy is already a dangerous place for Australia. The crash in the global commodities markets is as precipitous as the general stock market crash of 2008.
Canada, another wealthy, resourced-based economy, is in recession. In three years the Canadian dollar has gone from parity with the US dollar to 75¢, the lowest in 11 years.
Australia's dollar has seen an even more precipitous decline. In April 2013, it was worth $1.05 US dollars. It has since declined to 69¢, a 34 per cent decline in 29 months.
This year, US$11 trillion ($15.75 trillion) has been wiped off the value of global stock markets, or more than 10 times the size of Australia's gross domestic product. At the centre of that decline has been the commodities crash.
Icahn thinks worse is to come. He blames corporate greed and a dysfunctional political culture in Washington.
He argues that the enormous liquidity, at near-zero interest rates, pumped out by the Federal Reserve and other central banks, is building pressure into the global system. "If low interest rates were a simple panacea, we would never have recessions."
"The irony of lower interest rates is that while you think it's going to help to create jobs and make workers more productive, it's not happening…
"The Federal Reserve balance sheet has mushroomed from less than US$1 trillion to over US$4.5 trillion. This is a huge, almost unbelievable move, and all that money, it crowds out the little guy, the middle-class investor. There's nowhere to go with their money but into the stock market or, even more concerning, high-yield bonds that are very risky ... It's financial engineering at its height."
Icahn offers a series of protective measures to release the pressure.
"One obvious problem the government should have fixed a long time ago is the carried interest tax loophole … Not having to pay full taxes on money that you are earning is an absurdity."
He also believes the world's largest economy, which the world needs as an economic locomotive, has locked up US$2.2 trillion in corporate cash sitting on the sidelines because US companies will not pay 35 per cent tax on income that has already been taxed abroad.
"No other country demands that from their companies. It's absurd. Because these companies are willing to pay a tax."
He then turns to what he ominously calls "the earnings mirage". He believes the share prices of hundreds of companies have been pumped up by financial engineering and accounting tricks, which he lists. "I know this stuff. I've taken over companies … These earnings are fallacious."
The scale of share buy-backs and corporate acquisitions have returned to the peaks they reached in 2007, just before the crash. "This year, mergers and acquisitions business has doubled in four or five years to US$2.3 trillion," says Icahn, describing most of it as short-term financial engineering. "It weakens the balance sheet."
Icahn is scathing about the amount of corporate debt being created to finance deals, another echo of the excesses which led to the 2008 crash.
"High yield really stands for junk bonds. People are buying these not really understanding what they are buying. If you look at the numbers, they are amazingly risky. There are US$2.2 trillion ($3.15 trillion) in junk bonds, up a trillion dollars in five years."
Icahn believes Donald Trump could crash through to presidential victory in 2016 and is so disenchanted with Washington he thinks Trump may represent the shake-up that Congress needs.
For Australia, the end of the China-led commodities boom does not spell an end to China-led export growth. Agriculture represents a huge opportunity, as do services and education, while China's need for commodities will never be modest.
Yet Labor has decided to oppose the China-Australia Free Trade Pact, risking serious blow-back from Beijing, largely because the corruption-riddled Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union wants to protect its existing cartel arrangements.
Labor's compliance with CFMEU dictates is a recipe for economic decline. It could also prove a recipe for disaster for Labor in 2016.
13 October, 2015
India a big upcoming market for Australian coal
Seen as driving next wave of coal Mergers and Acquisitions in Australia. Could take up the slack left by reduced demand from China
India's quest to lock in sources of supply of metallurgical coal is set to drive a new wave of coal M&A in Australia just as recent acquisitions have highlighted a keen appetite for strategic investments in the sector, according to Bede Boyle at consultancy Coal Ventures Ltd.
Mr Boyle pointed to an Indian government coal delegation to Sydney earlier this month, when Coal India director Pradeep Kumar Tiwari? estimated that the company would require some $US4.5 billion ($6.1 billion) to invest in the acquisition of overseas coal assets.
Mr Boyle told clients in a report that Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, the minister of steel and mines who led the delegation, had said that: "India has scarce high-quality metallurgical coal reserves and will have a continuing dependence on Australian high-quality metallurgical coals to supply Indian steel industry."
India's emergence as a major steel-producer is driving growth for metallurgical coal imports, while it is also expected to increase demand for higher quality, low-ash thermal coal because of a government directive that requires all new coal-fired power plants to use super-critical technology starting in 2017. India's own coal resources are typically low-energy and high-ash, used for the sub-critical technology that dominates the Indian market at present.
The forecast for increased Indian investment in Australia's coal sector comes as M&A activity picks up with a number of recent investments. These include Glencore's link-up with privately owned Bloomfield Group to buy Vale's Integra mine in the Hunter Valley, and Stanmore Coal's acquisition of metallurgical coal areas in Queensland's Bowen Basin from Peabody Energy, with the intention of extending the Isaac Plains mine.
New Hope Corporation Limited has agreed to acquire Rio Tinto's 40 per cent interest in the Bengalla thermal coal joint venture in NSW.
Meanwhile, Mr Boyle pointed to reports by IHS that Australian "clean coal" technology company Exergen is acquiring the Wilkie Creek mine in Queensland from Peabody for $10 million, conditional on a capital raising and on finalising port and rail haulage contracts.
India has already invested heavily in Queensland's thermal coal industry, with GVK taking 75 per cent of Hancock Prospecting's equity in the Alpha mine and Adani buying the Carmichael deposit.
Mr Boyle expects Indian companies to buy equity in Australian metallurgical coal players as part of a strategy to gain access to needed resources, echoing investments made by Japanese and Korean players in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s.
"I think you're going to see some interesting strategic investments, and they will be about security of supply," he said.
NSW police charge Palestinian with murder after he 'shot his own NEPHEW dead
The family of a man who was shot dead at the entrance of his home in Sydney's west will have some peace of mind now that their son's alleged killer is behind bars.
Saif Jouda, described as an upstanding citizen, had only just moved from Palestine to Sydney, and was planning to marry his fiancé when he was shot three times in the head after answering a late-night knock at the front door of his home in Horsley Park late on April 23.
Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon said information from a number of witnesses had helped lead to the arrest of 47-year-old, Abdel Dwikat at Yennora on Friday.
The Granville man was questioned by police and later charged with Mr Jouda's murder.
Superintendent Lennon told AAP that Mr Jouda's family, who are overseas and had been notified of the arrest, were still coming to terms with the death.
'They took it in their stride and are still recovering from the death of their relative,' Supt Lennon said on Friday. 'They were most grateful to police for the investigations conducted. 'We will be in contact with them with any further developments.'
Mr Jouda's body was returned to his family for a burial following investigations conducted by the coroner, police said.
Friday's arrest comes just weeks after authorities released CCTV footage of a truck they believed would help investigations into Mr Jouda's death.
After the shooting police say sniffer dogs traced a scent from the crime scene to a footprint along the road, where they believe a truck was parked and used as a getaway vehicle.
Police have not revealed what they say the alleged killer's motive was, but Supt Lennon claims there was one and the subject would be addressed in court.
He said he was satisfied with the work of detectives who undertook investigations with 'great tenacity and professionalism'.
Detective Inspector Stuart Cadden spoke of the murder's brutality following the initial release of the CCTV footage, reported Fairfax.
'We know that the shooting was a rather calculated and brutal shooting,' he said. 'We believe it was done by a person who obviously had a very significant level of hatred towards the man.'
The 47-year-old was refused bail and is set to appear in Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday.
Muslim leaders want Malcolm Turnbull to ban Geert Wilders from Australia
Wouldn't it be better to ban Muslims?
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is coming under pressure from Australia’s Muslim leaders to cancel the visa of a far-right Dutch politician known for his anti-Islamic sentiments.
Geert Wilders is visiting the country to join new political party Australian Liberty Alliance - also known for its opposition to Islam - for its planned launch in Perth this month.
In a high-level meeting with seven Islamic community leaders on Friday, Mr Turnbull was warned that Mr Wilders’ arrival in Australia would create anti-Islamic tensions at a time when the government is reaching out to the Muslim community,The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
‘Other countries have refused him [Mr Wilders] entry and we have recently rejected Chris Brown for behaving in a certain way, Lebanese Muslim Association president Samier Dandan told Fairfax Media, with reference to the American singer being banned from Australia because of his history of domestic violence.
‘Someone we know who will stir the pot, increase anti-Islamic sentiment and feed into those who seek to divide us’ should be banned from Australia too, Mr Dandan said.
He said the government should not welcome to the country people whose values were not aligned with Australia's.
‘There is a line in the sand in terms of freedom of speech,’ Mr Dandan said. ‘If someone makes an anti-Semitic comment, it’s not welcomed. If anyone makes an anti-Islamic comment, it should not be welcomed.'
A spokesman from the prime minister’s office confirmed that the community leaders had raised the matter of Mr Wilders’ visit during the meeting on Friday.
But he said Mr Turnbull had not made the decision to grant the visa.
The Dutch MP's visa was granted about a week after controversial American anti-abortionist Troy Newman had his visa revoked and was detained on arrival at Melbourne airport.
News of Mr Wilders' visit comes just days after the prime minister pleaded for solidarity with Australia's Islamic community.
His request followed the fatal shooting of a police employee in Parramatta, western Sydney, by 15-year-old 'radicalised' youth Farhad Jabar in what police said was a terror attack.
Religious leaders have praised Mr Turnbull's approach to the issue as he called for support of Islamic people.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed to reporters in Canberra on Friday he was consulted about the application and was happy to take the advice of the relevant official.
Approval of his visa has reportedly been met with relief by the Australian Liberty Alliance after concerns it would not be issued, the ABC reported.
Mr Wilders, the founder and leader of far-right Party for Freedom in the Netherlands also expressed his pleasure with being granted a visa via Twitter.
The approval of his visa follows the detention of Mr Newman at Melbourne Airport, after travelling to Australia despite his visa being cancelled.
Mr Newman, who has questioned why doctors who perform abortions were not sentenced to death, had been scheduled to speak at a number of events in Australia.
Australian Liberty Alliance director Debbie Robinson was pleased Mr Wilders' visa had been issued, the ABC reported.
People were looking forward to hearing him speak and were not expecting the kinds of protests seen during his previous trip to the country, she said.
The party launch is to be held at a secret location under tight security on October 20.
A visa application by Mr Wilders in 2012 stalled causing the cancellation of his travel plans, but he eventually travelled to Australia in 2013. Protests were held when he appeared to speak during that trip.
At the time, his visa application was held up because he was on a Movement Alert List - a database maintained by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection of more than 700,000 people of concern for 'character or other reasons'.
His most recent visa has been the cause for concern for a racial equality group, the ABC reported.
West Australians for Racial Equality head Suresh Rajan said while he was not opposed to Mr Wilders receiving a visa, he was worried about the possibility he could make the issues of 'radicalisation and home-grown terror' worse.
Australian Liberty Alliance would introduce policies such as banning full-face covering in public and request a decade-long suspension of residence applications by people from Islamic countries, the ABC reported.
The ALA values and core policies statement published on its website places the aim to 'stop the Islamisation of Australia' third on its list of key policy areas.
It describes Islam as a 'totalitarian ideology with global aspirations'.
Racism: Outrage after wheelchair-bound man, 72, is refused emergency dental work 'because he is not indigenous'
A wheelchair-bound elderly man was refused emergency dental treatment because he was not indigenous.
Ken Murphy's family contacted Mungindi Hospital in northern New South Wales fearing a painful toothache he was suffering may have spiked his blood pressure, which could cause him to have a second stroke.
But his wife Robynne claims the hospital refused to treat 72-year-old Mr Murphy because they were only treating indigenous members of the community, reports Carleen Frost from Daily Telegraph.
'If they would have just looked at Ken, I would have paid $200 for them just to see him — it's not that we wanted anything for free,' Robynne said.
After being denied treatment they went in search of a dentist elsewhere and eventually found one who accepted to treat him in Goondiwindi, more than two hours away.
'He was just in terrible pain. If there was a dentist there who refused an indigenous person I wonder what would have happened.'
Mungindi Multi-Purpose Health Service offers '24-hours a day, seven days a week emergency care and dental', According to Queensland Health.
12 October, 2015
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says the media are deserting liberty
Prayer sessions at schools 'to be investigated'
Politicians, police and Muslim leaders have planned a meeting to discuss the civil unrest and the growing divide between religious and right-wing extremist Australians.
NSW Premier Mike Baird will meet with NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and around 10 Muslim leaders on Sunday in response to growing concern over youth radicalisation and Islamic extremism.
The meeting had been arranged following the terrorist shooting last Friday, Daily Telegraph report, when 15-year-old Farhad Jabar shot dead Curtis Cheng outside Parramatta police headquarters in western Sydney.
They have reportedly invited 10 Muslim leaders to a meeting to respond to the growing concern over youth radicalisation and Islamic extremism
Government sources had reportedly told the paper that the meeting would just be 'a catch up'.
Neil El-Kadomi, chairman of Parramatta Mosque, where Jabar had visited shortly before the shooting, is said to be one of the Muslim leaders invited to the meeting.
It's believed Jabar had come from Parramatta Mosque before committing the attack.
Following allegations a student had tried to influence others to adopt his extremist views at Epping Boys High in Sydney's north west, Mr Baird also announced an audit of prayer sessions at public schools,Sydney Morning Herald report.
Friday prayers had reportedly been suspended in Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta, the school where Jabar attended, in September.
The suspension of the prayers may have influenced Jabar to attend the Parramatta Mosque, where he reportedly was handed a gun by one of four other men who were arrested in counter-terrorism raids on Wednesday.
Malcolm Turnbull had previously announced he would convene a summit with Federal, State and Territory agencies in Canberra next Thursday to discuss extremism.
'While Australia is a world leader in countering violent extremism, we must continue thinking about innovative and creative solutions to this proble,' Mr Turnbull wrote in a statement on Friday.
'We must continue exploring the causes of radicalisation to help us devise new approaches and strengthen existing ones.'
'If you don't like Australia, leave', Muslim leader tells worshippers
This message is very rare from Muslim leaders. It would appear that the various anti-Muslim rallies have got him freaked
The chairman of a Sydney mosque has told worshippers that "if you don't like Australia, leave" during his first sermon since a teenage extremist who attended the mosque shot dead a man outside NSW Police headquarters.
The comments were reported in Sydney newspapers earlier this morning and Parramatta Mosque chairman Neil El-Kadomi has told those attending Friday prayers that he stands by those comments.
Last Friday's shooting of police accountant Curtis Cheng outside NSW Police headquarters in Parramatta has prompted several agencies to investigate how the 15-year-old killer became radicalised by Islamic extremists.
A week on from the tragedy, Mr El-Kadomi addressed worshippers who gathered for Friday prayers.
Outside, he questioned why police shot dead the 15-year-old gunman, saying it was unfortunate the boy died because now there is no way of knowing his secrets, particularly who gave him the gun.
He also said extremists unwilling to live by Australian standards of peace and tolerance should leave the country. "You should not abuse the privilege of being Australian, which is very important," he said. Mr El-Kadomi added that those who do abuse the privilege should "get out". "We do not need scumbags in the community," he said. "We have to lift our heads up as Australians.
"We live in this community, in this society. "We have to accept the good and bad and the ups and downs in this society."
Mr El-Kadomi also urged Muslims in Australia to appreciate how lucky they were to be able to practice their religion openly.
"We live in Australia - people are coming to Australia on boats, they die on the way," he said. "You didn't have to do that, you are here ... Australia gives us a lot of benefits – you're here and can practice your religion freely."
He told today's congregation a tiny proportion of the community are giving Muslims a bad name, and that parents need to take more interest in their children's lives to prevent radicalisation.
He said that anyone seen acting suspiciously at the mosque would be reported to police.
Jeremy Jones from the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council placed flowers at a police memorial before visiting the mosque to lend his support to Mr El-Kadomi's message of tolerance.
The Parramatta Mosque was searched after Farhad Jabar's attack on police headquarters at Parramatta on Friday. Police also said some of the people later arrested in relation to the attack were known to attend the mosque.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten endorsed the comments of the Parramatta Mosque chairman. "Australians, it doesn't matter what religion - if you really hate Australia, well then you should go," he said.
"But I don't think though that that advice is confined to people of one particular religious faith."
Islamic terrorism a culture of hatred
THE twin curses of multiculturalism and populist pseudo-psychoanalysis have totally confused any rational discussion of the very real presence of Islamic terrorism in Australia
Too much time has been spent debating whether the Martin Place siege was the act of a madman or a “lone wolf” or an Islamist.
Now self-proclaimed experts are asking if the cheery bureaucrat and family man Curtis Cheng was murdered a week ago by a rebellious teenager, or a new convert to radical Islam, or an individual making a monstrous political statement about a hate-filled centuries old division within Islam, or an idiot who believed he was oppressed, or just a disturbed kid who had fallen in with a bad bunch hanging out at the local mosque?
Let’s forget defining the niceties of this murderous individual’s personality. This act was committed by a criminal, first and foremost.
If any one of the ensuing inquiries and talkfests finds otherwise or offers the now too-familiar excuse that the young man was an isolated, angry and marginalised manipulable malcontent, it will have been a total waste of time and money.
He clearly identified himself as a member of something called the Muslim community — though Muslims are themselves divided into such a confusing number of identities that it can hardly be claimed there is such a community, and it is impossible to find a single readily accessible Muslim religious leader who speaks with any real authority on any Islamic issue.
As a follower of Islam’s tortuous and often contradictory Koran, the murderer was bound to find himself at odds with the majority of Australians because it would be difficult to find an Aussie male outside the Muslim community who would believe that all women must be at all times subservient to men.
It would be just as difficult to find an Aussie who would embrace the exhortations to murder apostates, or believe that all Jews and Christians must be murdered as a prerequisite to gaining Paradise.
These are just a few of the hurdles placed in the path of Muslims who want to be fully accepted as Australians — hurdles that cannot be scrambled over or around because there cannot possibly be a duality of beliefs which encompasses both the democratic ideal of equality that frames the Western outline of governance and the supremacy of an extremely vengeful and blindly demanding worship.
Under the politically correct constructs of multiculturalism, Western populations have been lectured and hectored and bullied by so-called progressives toward the entirely false notion that all cultures have equal value. Clearly, they don’t.
Although the Western feminist clique has largely been silent about the brutality meted out to their sisters in most Muslim countries, it is frequent.
Even here, there have been honour killings, forced marriages of girls to older men they have never met and, of course, there have been incidences of female genital mutilation conducted for cultural reasons.
Cultures that stone women to death, and lop off hands and heads, cannot be placed in the same context as those that have, after centuries of debate, decided cruel and unusual punishments should be abolished.
Nor do homosexuals get off lightly, although the Western homosexual marriage lobby has little or no time to publicise the plight of those who have been thrown off rooftops because of their sexuality. Their vitriol, as with the bilious feminists, is focused on the Vatican.
It may well be that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Australian reject the appalling injunctions contained in those Koranic verses which most appeal to those who are seduced by Daesh/Islamic State or al-Qaeda and the vision of a medieval caliphate replete with slave women.
If this is so, then surely there must be one mullah, one imam, from an Australian mosque who is prepared to take a public stand.
If not, then all the claims made on behalf of Muslims by politicians pushing multiculturalism look very ordinary and the call by NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley for more mosques for "mainstream" Muslims seems totally bizarre.
Before holding hands and humming Kumbaya, our politicians and security forces should consider the first response Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid had to last June’s terrorist massacre of tourists to his country. He declared that 80 mosques in which extremists had preached were to be closed down.
He didn’t quibble about assigning the responsibility for what was an absolute outrage to those Muslim preachers who were calling on their followers to join in jihad.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has belatedly come to the same conclusion and warned operators of Muslim schools that they will be shut down if found to be teaching extremist hatred.
“We’ve got children being taught that they shouldn’t mix with people of other religions; being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people,” he said. “These children should be having their minds opened, their horizons broadened, not having their heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate.”
Contemptible progressives in Australia have permitted purveyors of hate to operate here, gaming freedom of speech laws in order to silence critics of multiculturalism and those who point out the obvious inconsistencies within Islam.
They are the true oppressors of those who want to raise their families in an enlightened nation free from suffocating religious domination.
Turnbull ignoring the reality of Islam
During his hour long waffling Press conference today Turnbull read straight from the incompetent Security Agencies’ written instructions: “For Christ’s sake don’t say anything to upset them or they might kill someone else and, to be honest, we don’t have a bloody clue who... so don’t make our job harder.”
Turnbull’s message du jour, was an ad nauseam “mutual respect”. Well, respect is earned not gifted and certainly not to people who have no respect for us or our country. Perhaps Abbott was right to imply that Islamic leaders are liars.
Perhaps Abbott went to the trouble of reading the Koran, perhaps he knew of the law of taqiyyah where Muslims are required to lie to non-Muslims if it will further the cause of Islam.
“Muslims must lie to gain the trust of non-believers in order to draw out their vulnerabilities and defeat them”, is the advice to good Muslims.
Don’t take my word for it, ask the little grand mufti grub, he’s the expert, he knows that undertakings made to non-Muslims have no validity. He knows all that legal stuff about beating wives and razoring little girls’ genitals.
Ask him if it’s ok to have sex with betrothed babies using the thighing technique.
Oh don’t bother, I forgot, he’s required to lie if it means Islam might get some adverse publicity.
Turnbull’s “mutual respect” might start with a grand mufti who has lived here for 20 years and still makes no attempt to speak English. Nothing respectful or mutual about that is there!
Or it might start with the previous grand mufti, Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly who said our women were uncovered meat to be taken advantage of. Not much respect there either.
If Parliamentarians would just read the Koran they would understand what all this Islamic crap is about... they would understand why Muslims need mega mosques that harbour and encourage budding terrorists.
Even galahs like Mark Latham now agree we have a Muslim problem. But his solution is to ensure that they all have jobs, you know, keep their creative little minds occupied.
Well, at the risk of getting my arm broken, you Mark Latham, are a fornicating fool! Why do you think Muslim immigrants gravitate with their multiple wives to countries with the most generous welfare schemes? Simply because they can’t work! They don't work. They have no intention to work!... only infidels work.
You would have to be bonkers to employ a Muslim! Who needs an employee who prays five times a day and has Fridays off to listen to the mosque’s imported hate preachers before taking to the streets to set cop cars on fire.
“Oh it’s only a small minority”, they say. Well, it’s a lot more than a small minority, it’s an international movement that plunders our welfare budget and has discovered how to tax everything we buy... and it has a clear agenda that includes our eradication.
Islam needs to be named, shamed and dealt with. We must never appease Islam like our leaders suggest. Further development of mosques must be stopped and those promoting terrorism razed to the ground, as is happening in other more enlightened countries that have already suffered the scourge of Islam.
Our taxes must not be used for “education” in subsidised Islamic schools that bleed our own schools’ much needed grants.
A spluttering Mr Turnbull, under pressure, finally spat out, “It is not compulsory to live in Australia. If you find Australian values, you know, unpalatable, then there’s a big wide world out there and people have got freedom of movement”.
Did he say, “freedom of movement”? In Australian I think that means, “Either fit in or f*ck off!” We’re over it!
11 October, 2015
Controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders granted visa for Perth anti-Islam political party launch
EXTREMIST Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders has been granted a visa to come to Australia.
The right wing politician will come to Perth to help launch a party that’s core aim is to “stop the Islamisation of Australia”.
National president of the Australian Liberty Alliance Party, Debbie Robinson, confirmed on Thursday night that Mr Wilders’ visa had been issued and his visit would go ahead as planned.
It is the second time the leader of The Netherlands’ Partij voor de Vrijheid — Party for Freedom — has visited Australia.
On his last visit in 2013, Premier Colin Barnett said Mr Wilders was “not welcome” in WA and his talk in Melbourne erupted in violent protests.
During this trip, Mr Wilders will give the keynote address at the party launch of Australian Liberty Alliance on Tuesday, October 20 in Perth.
As revealed by The Sunday Times last year, City Beach orthopedic surgeon Anthony Robinson and his wife Debbie are among five directors of Australian Liberty Alliance.
Ms Robinson is also president of the Q Society of Australia, which describes itself as “Australia’s leading Islamic critical movement”.
Ms Robinson welcomed news of Mr Wilders’ visa being granted.
ABC aside, Turnbull turns support away
THE rise of Malcolm Turnbull saw an immediate drop in Liberal Party membership despite claims to the contrary.
The co-host of the ABC’s Q&A program may have received a gushing welcome from 7.30 Report presenter Leigh Sales and Radio Nat-ional’s Fran Kelly last week but hard-core, long-term Liberal supporters have not been impressed.
Neither presenter did former Prime Minister Tony Abbott any favours but both cooed and purred like a pair of blushing schoolgirls when they obliged Turnbull with obsequious interviews.
“Can I just say to you, this is a very important role that you have to play as one of our leading journalists and broadcast-ers setting an example for everyone else,” Turnbull soothed as he played along with one of the Coalition’s most consistent critics.
Pandering to the enemy may be a cunning strategy, but heartland Liberals have long realised the inherent anti-conservative bias at the core of the taxpayer-funded national broadcaster and realise that if the ABC is in Turnbull’s corner, they want a leader who stands for their values, not for the ABC’s extreme Green/Left, pro-people smuggler client, pro-anthropogenic global warming, pro-homosexual marriage propaganda.
Turnbull started losing Liberal conservatives when he failed to explain why it was necessary to knife a sitting prime minister with a truly enviable record of political and policy achievements and he continued to lose them when he backtracked on his promise not to change fundamental policies.
His embrace of the UN via Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s enthusiasm for toadying to the jumped-up dictators who have the numbers, and the histor-ically corrupt and bloated bureaucracy, rankles, as does his signalling of policy changes.
Those who have long provided the backbone of the Liberal Party are expressing their frustration that their dedicated support apparently counts for nothing as the Member for Wentworth courts Leftist media elites.
The angry Liberals and former Liberals are seeking new homes where they hope the leadership will better represent their views.
Some are going to the Nationals inspired by their demand for a written 10-point agreement with Turnbull before agreeing to remain in the Coalition and with the tacit understanding that there will be a change in Nationals leadership.
Turnbull underestimates the level of distrust toward him within the Nationals at his peril and did himself no favours by including only Nationals leader Warren Truss in his economic talkfest on Thursday.
The other group attracting disaffected conservatives is the nascent Australian Liberty Alliance Party which will officially be launched on October 20 by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, if the government overcomes its reluctance to admit advocates of free speech.
While comparisons will inevitably be made with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation because of its strong anti-Islamist stance, the ALA has what appears to be a fairly professional structure and has put forward a wide-ranging 20-point suite of policies unlike Hanson’s narrowly focused and operationally dysfunct-ional group.
It will undoubtedly attract a high sneer quotient from the commentariat at the Fairfax media and the taxpayer-funded ABC when its presence becomes too large to ignore but the low-key organisation has already created waves on social media and through word of mouth.
The party, so far, is being cautious.
After Turnbull’s coup it received more than 800,000 hits on its websites but as an official warned, this may mean that some individuals repeatedly clicked on the address and is most probably unrepresentative of the actual number of people who viewed the site.
However, it has been overwhelmed by the interest shown so far and while it has a paid-up membership of around 740, its staff lacks the resources to respond to all the inquiries received.
In a form letter sent to followers, organisers said they knew that “most supporters are neither racists, nationalists nor religious fundamentalists, but genuinely concerned about the future of our country”.
They firmly reject joining forces with parties centred on any controversial individuals, or parties with religious themes or nationalistic and racist agendas.
The most contentious policy is its pledge to stop the Islamisation of Australia and make the claim that Islam is not merely a religion but a “totalitarian ideology with global aspirations”.
“Islam uses the religious element as a means to project itself onto non-Islamic societies, which is manifest in the historical and ongoing expansion of Islam,” it says in its manifesto.
“Islam does not accept the separation of religion from state, but seeks dominance over all aspects of human life and society.
“ Whereas we see religion as part of life, Islam sees life as part of the religion. No other religious ideology in our time has both the doctrinal aspiration as well as the economic and demographic muscle to impose itself globally.”
“It is our core policy that all attempts to impose Islam’s theocracy and Sharia law on our liberal society must be stopped by democratic means, before the demographic, economic and socio-political realities make a peaceful solution impossible.”
Pollster Mark Textor last month dismissed the numbers leaving the Liberal Party stating that: “The qualitative evidence is they don’t matter. The sum of a more centrist approach outweighs any alleged marginal loss of so-called base voters.”
It may be that only the angriest voices are being heard and that Turnbull has attracted new support to the Liberals but, if so, his soft-Left support group has yet to put its money where its mouth is.
Vic. Premier must finally fess up
Premier Daniel Andrews: We say “no comment” not good enough
A TIDE of uneasiness is running through Victorian Labor Party ranks over mounting evidence about the party’s misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money.
Premier Daniel Andrews’ assurances following revelations that Labor partly paid election campaign organisers with money from MPs’ electorate budgets are looking flimsy and evasive.
More than 20 Labor MPs may have participated in the rort. Some had concerns that what they were doing was illegal, but went along with it anyway. Others are believed to have acted unwittingly.
The Premier, in responding to revelations that first appeared in the Herald Sun last month, said there were rules, but they were followed and he took full responsibility for “everything that occurs under my leadership of the Labor Party and my leadership of the Government”.
There were not too many political leaders prepared to say that, boasted Mr Andrews, “but that’s the way I operate”.
What a difference a mountain of evidence makes.
The Premier’s denials of any wrongdoing have been picked apart as evidence has mounted over what was a secret strategy to win votes in the run-up to the November 29 election.
The Herald Sun was told by three concerned Labor MPs at the beginning of September that party political campaigners were hired using money from their taxpayer-funded office budgets.
Two campaign whistleblowers then told the Herald Sun they were told to “shut up’’ about where the money to hire about 30 staff came from.
The so-called field organisers, highly visible during the election campaign in their red shirts, supervised thousands of volunteers who rang phones and knocked on doors to gain votes.
Mr Andrews was present at a meeting where the campaign organisers were briefed. After the election, the Premier attributed the work of the volunteer army as playing a significant part in Labor’s election victory.
Rulings by President of the Legislative Council, Bruce Atkinson, and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Telmo Languiller, as well as evidence from the whistleblowers has led to a parliamentary inquiry being called.
The matter has also been referred to the Victoria Police fraud squad, which is likely to interview Labor MPs, particularly those in the Upper House, about the misuse of their electorate budgets.
Now a parliamentary document, which warned as long ago as August that Labor’s use of electorate funding was “categorically” against Parliament rules, has surfaced.
The report, authorised by Secretary of Parliamentary Services Peter Lochert at the request of concerned MPs, was unequivocal. In the opinion of Parliament’s internal auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the use of electorate office staff for party political work “would not survive either an internal audit, or scrutiny from the Auditor-General”. Nor would it pass what was called “the pub test”.
These findings could not be further removed from Mr Andrews’ claim that all was above board and there was nothing to answer.
“Cashing in” staffing resources from electorate offices to finance party political objectives was a breach of the relevant Act that could result in “duty holders being held responsible for criminal activity”, the report found.
No matter how the Premier might twist and turn, this all comes down to a matter of trust.
Stonewalling will not prevent the truth from coming out as the fraud squad investigation proceeds. The worst outcome for the Andrews Government is that criminal charges may follow.
Labor caucus members are also becoming anxious as the Government finds itself embroiled in a full-blown crisis Mr Andrews simply refuses to acknowledge.
An audit committee headed by Mr Atkinson and Mr Languiller, and including parliamentary bureaucrats, is also inquiring into how taxpayers’ money has been spent.
The public is entitled to transparency. Not only must the findings of this panel be released, this newspaper calls on the Premier to throw open the books on a rotten rort.
It is extraordinary that Labor MPs were so concerned they called for a report from a senior bureaucrat on the use of taxpayer money in the election campaign.
Such is that concern they have broken ranks to reveal further evidence of a scandal engulfing the Government in the first 10 months of its election.
The response from Premier Andrews’ office when asked by the Herald Sun whether he still stood by his assurances on Monday night was “No comment”.
That is not acceptable. Police are already knocking on doors as they dig further into this blatant misuse of taxpayers’ money.
The Herald Sun believes the Labor Party can start by paying back the hundreds of thousands of dollars it has misappropriated.
It must then ensure all records are made available and that all individuals involved in the rorts-for-votes scheme, including MPs and political staff, give their full assistance to Victoria Police.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton: tough border protection keeps boats away
AUSTRALIA’S tough border protection regime has stopped more than 650 “potentially illegal immigrants” arriving by boat in less than two years.
Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton revealed the figure yesterday as he warned that people smugglers were using Australia’s change of leadership from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull as an opportunity to drum up business.
Mr Dutton said the Turnbull Government remained committed to the existing policy and would “stare down” the threat posed by people smugglers.
“I want to reiterate today — in the strongest possible terms — that the resolve of the Prime Minister and myself, the whole Government, is to make sure that we don’t allow deaths at sea to recommence,” Mr Dutton said.
Operation Sovereign Borders commander Major-General Andrew Bottrell said it was now more than 430 days since the last successful people smuggling venture to Australia and nearly two years since the last known death at sea.
He said the most recent attempt was in August but the passengers and crew on that vessel were “safely returned” to their country of departure.
Mr Dutton, who visited the Christmas Island detention centre this week, said there had been a “transformation” in the make-up of the detainee population.
He said of the 285 people being held on Christmas Island, 125 were there as a result of visa cancellations, 57 were overstayers and just 96 were now “illegal maritime arrivals”. The largest nationality group was Iranians — 21 per cent of those detained.
Forty New Zealanders [Maori?] with criminal convictions are being detained on the island and face deportation. Several are appealing against their visa cancellations.
He added the Government was also in discussions with a number of countries about resettling those seeking asylum on Manus Island, but would not speculate on a possible deal with the Philippines.
“I think we’re best to discuss those issues in private with those partners,” he said.
Qld. magistrate Bernadette Callaghan’s ruling to return forfeited car set aside by District Court Judge
Old bag is a menace to the safety of the public
“SOFT touch” Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan’s order to return a serial unlicensed driver’s forfeited car has been overturned after a judge raised questions over her jurisdiction on the matter.
It was revealed last month police were appealing against Ms Callaghan’s order to return Desmond James Gough’s $40,000 Isuzu 4WD after he claimed he did not understand the police paperwork.
Gough had been caught behind the wheel while disqualified or unlicensed nine times in less than a decade.
His car was automatically forfeited to the state, as it was his fourth similar offence within five years.
District Court Judge Leanne Clare, SC, yesterday ordered Ms Callaghan’s ruling be set aside. She also dismissed Gough’s original appeal against his car’s forfeiture, affirming the decision made by police.
Gough was on a suspended prison sentence when he was caught driving while disqualified last year for a previous unlicensed driving offence that occurred just four months earlier.
Ms Callaghan had found the impounding notice was defective and misleading because it did not cite all of his driving offences in the past five years, and did not properly explain that his vehicle would be forfeited.
Last week Ms Callaghan granted bail to an accused violent armed robber after hearing he was finding jail too tough.
9 October, 2015
The Australian school so violent it’s patrolled by police
Very unusual in Australia. But what's the missing word below? I guessed it right first time. Answer at the foot of the report
Escalating violence has lead the government to install a permanent police presence at this school – but not everyone agrees with the decision.
Students and teachers are so terrified about attending Walgett Community College, in northwest NSW, that it has become the state’s first school to have police patrolling the grounds.
According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, the education department and Police Citizens Youth Club have signed an agreement to station two officers inside the school following escalating violence.
Among the incidents are a leaked video showing a 13-year-old girl being savagely beaten by fellow students in May, a teacher at the school taking out an apprehended violence order against a student, and four teachers resigning in the last few weeks of Term 2.
“It’s not uncommon for the police and schools to work together,” education minister Adrian Piccoli said.
“Recently officers have been working with students and staff from Walgett Community College at a PCYC centre in the school. They have access to the school hall before and after school, and during school holidays, and run positive engagement PCYC-related programs during those times.
“The feedback so far has been encouraging. There are no police stations on NSW public schools.”
However, Opposition education spokeswoman Linda Burney describes the move as another example of the government mismanaging problems at the troubled school.
“I do not believe having police present in the school is a good use of police resources, particularly in a community that has the second highest domestic violence rate in NSW,” Burney said.
“I think it sends a dreadful message, not only to children at Walgett, but also the Walgett community — that the only way to manage the school is if police are there.”
However, Acting Superintendent Tony Mureau insists the strategy is working.
“Over the past month there’ve been no incidents,” he told ABC News.
“What we’ll see is police in the classroom sometimes dealing with kids not necessarily in a negative way, but bringing them into the hall, playing sport. Just engagement strategies.”
The police will also be running anger management courses for students.
The missing word is "Aboriginal". The school has a 97% Aboriginal enrollment, as officially defined. At the risk of prosecution for hate speech, however, I think I should note that most of those are of mixed ancestry. The really black ones rarely go to school at all. The average Aboriginal IQ is very low and low IQ people tend to be more violent for various reasons
Pauline Hanson’s Facebook post on Muslims gains support
Hanson is an independent conservative who is not afraid to broach ethnic matters
SHE once rose to power on a tide of anti-Asian sentiment and it seems Pauline Hanson is now tapping into concern about Muslims to help her get re-elected.
A Facebook post urging people to vote for Hanson at the next federal election, has been shared more than 25,000 times in just two days. The post says: “A vote for me at the next Federal Election will be your insurance, the major parties will have absolute opposition to any more Mosques, Sharia Law, Halal Certification & Muslim Refugees. NO MORE! Share if you agree”.
An image accompanying the post says “No More: Mosques, Sharia law, Halal certification, Muslim refugees”. It has been liked more than 18,000 times.
Hanson, who is planning to run as a Queensland senate candidate for One Nation, has called for tighter Muslim immigration laws in the wake of the “politically motivated” Sydney shooting last week.
“Both sides of parliament are not doing enough to address this whole issue,” she told Sunrise.
“What Islam stands for is not compatible with our country ... let the Muslim countries take them.”
She said Australians need to know what was being taught in Islamic schools and mosques.
“Get out of your glasshouses and go and see what’s happening.”
Many of the comments on the post are supportive, one said: “You have my vote Pauline. I don’t pay taxes to be shot in my own country”.
Another said: “For the first time in my life I will be voting for someone who actually says what most free thinking Australians want”.
But there are plenty of others which challenge her view. One from Omer Dautovic has been liked almost 2000 times and responds to another comment, it states: “I’m Muslim, my kind has been here for over 50 years (Bosnian Muslims) we don’t want Sharia law as this great country provides us with a just and moral system”. It goes on to list other issues such as domestic violence, the free trade agreement and violent criminals, saying “I think there’s a few more problems than just ‘Muslims’.”
Another says: “Pauline is racist and disgusting. I have beautiful Muslim friends who have human rights to be here ... She’s certainly not a traditional owner of this country either”.
Hanson once represented the Brisbane seat of Oxley as an independent after being disendorsed by the Liberal party. In her maiden speech she famously said she believed Australia was in danger of being “swamped by Asians”.
“They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate,” she said.
Hanson opposes multiculturalism, special government assistance for Aborigines, illegal boat people and foreign investment in agricultural land and established housing.
Hanson failed to be re-elected despite a number of campaigns, including standing in NSW and Queensland elections and bids for a Senate seat in 2001, 2007 and 2013.
Senator Nick Xenophon plots an end to preference whispering
Nick Xenophon has unveiled a plan for Senate voting reform that he says will eliminate candidates being accidentally elected with low levels of support while giving voters more chance than ever before to choose independents or minor parties.
The South Australian independent MP has written to the Turnbull government outlining the biggest overhaul to Senate voting in a generation that he believes would boost public confidence and could be implemented before the next election, which is due within 12 months.
Senator Xenophon, who was the only independent elected without the need for preferences at the last federal poll, has come under attack from Glenn Druery, the preference adviser who has told the minor parties “to put Xenophon last”.
The Australian has also learned the minor parties have held talks about swapping preferences with each other at the next election to maximise hopes of repeating the record haul of seven seats won by the crossbench.
“If we all preference each other ahead of the majors, then one of us is going to get up and win a seat — we just don’t know who,” one crossbench senator told The Australian.
At the last election, Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party won a Victorian Senate seat, despite receiving just 0.51 per cent of the vote. It was the preferences of 20 other parties that secured the 14.6 per cent needed to be elected.
Senator Xenophon’s overhaul would abolish group voting tickets, which are vital to the minor party strategy of preference deals yet leave voters largely unaware of the arrangements.
The proposal would see voters no longer just mark “1” for a party or group “above the line” on the Senate ballot paper; instead, they would be required to number a minimum of three squares above the line.
“It would encourage voters to consider alternatives other than the major parties,” Senator Xenophon wrote in his letter to Special Minister of State Mal Brough.
Senator Xenophon said his plan to require people to number at least three boxes would increase the chances of an independent, minor or micro party candidate receiving popular support but he told The Australian those parties would need to earn votes and not receive them through behind-the-scenes deals.
He said some people felt misled they gave their vote to one party but the preference swapping system meant they ended up electing a party with a different philosophy.
“I suggest the approach I’ve outlined would lead to an outcome that more fairly represents the genuine democratic will of voters,” he wrote to Mr Brough. “It would prevent the anomalous outcomes that can occur when a voter’s first preference (above the line) can end up electing a senator with diametrically opposed views on a range of key issues.”
Under Senator Xenophon’s plan, people voting “below the line” would be required to choose only a minimum of 12 candidates, instead of the existing requirement to number sequentially every box. In NSW and Victoria, there were about 100 candidates listed below the line.
About 95 per cent of people vote “above the line”, handing power to the one party they choose to decide preferences. At the last election, two-thirds of people voted above the line for either Labor or a Coalition party. Last year, the joint standing committee on electoral matters released a bipartisan report calling for urgent changes to Senate voting to better reflect the intention of the public in the wake of the 2013 result.
The committee, headed by Tony Smith, now the Speaker, called for the scrapping of group voting tickets and the introduction of optional preferential voting, to end “shadowy” preference deals and clean up the tablecloth-sized ballot papers by preventing “pop-up parties” being created to harvest votes for other parties.
Senator Xenophon, who won 24.88 per cent in the SA Senate race at the last election and polled more than the entire Labor Party, said his plan achieved those aims without putting minor parties out of business.
Senator Muir recently called reform plans a “power grab to protect the major parties”. He said 24 per cent of people did not vote for Labor, the Coalition or the Greens.
“If the people of Australia felt like the major parties were representing them democratically and parallel with their will, people like me would not have been able to get elected in the first place,” he said.
Between 1984 and 2010, Labor, the Coalition and Greens received between 84 and 91 per cent of Senate votes. At the last election, the tally fell to 76 per cent.
Family First senator Bob Day, elected on preferences after receiving a primary vote of 3.76 per cent, said the major parties, including the Greens, were over-represented in the Senate because they had 85 per cent of the seats. He said the committee’s reform plan would “entrench the Greens as the balance of power party in the Senate”.
Mr Brough recently said he wanted to pursue Senate reform, a comment he later played down after it drew anger from the crossbench.
While the Greens have offered conditional support for changes, Labor is split on the topic and wants to see a firm proposal.
Malcolm Turnbull said while there were concerns about the Senate voting system, he had no specific plans to change it and has reassured crossbenchers of that.
No, Australia doesn't have a revenue problem
Many commentators think taxes need to increase to ensure the tax-to-GDP ratio is 'restored' to historical levels. But their arguments are wrong.
The tax-to-GDP ratio is currently well above the 10-year average, and about equal to the 20-year, 30-year and 40-year averages (see details here). The mistake that the commentators made is (unsurprisingly) cherry picking data.
For example, the former Secretary to the Treasury, Dr Ken Henry, said taxes are currently too low compared to 2002. However, this is an abnormal year, due to the introduction of the GST. We could equally say taxes are currently too high compared to 2011, after the GFC, or 1993, after the recession we had to have.
Instead, it is much better to average the tax take over many years, including high tax and low tax periods.
And on that basis, tax increases can't be justified. In fact, the tax-to-GDP ratio is forecast to be well above historical averages by 2018-19, and using this measure alone we should be seeing large tax cuts by then -- around $24 billion per year in today's money.
But this is the wrong debate. It is bad policy to try to target the tax-to-GDP ratio, particularly because we would have to increase taxes in a recession. This is a terrible idea - it would make the recession worse. And given we are currently in a mild slowdown, this argues for tax increases now. Increasing taxes now would be almost as bad as increasing taxes in a recession. And unfortunately substantial tax increases are scheduled to occur as noted earlier.
But even with these unwise tax increases, the Budget deficit doesn't disappear by 2018-19. So how can we deal with that problem? Through spending restraint as long advocated by the CIS, particularly through the Target 30 campaign. This is a better approach than tax increases based on fallacious historical comparisons.
8 October, 2015
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is critical about politicians not mentioning "Islam" when they should
Teenage terrorist was given gun he used to shoot dead accountant at the mosque where he skipped school to pray
A Middle Eastern crime group reportedly supplied the gun used by Parramatta shooter Farhad Jabar who used it to killed police accountant Curtis Cheng.
Farhad, 15, is thought to have got hold of the gun inside Parramatta Mosque, which he went to before he murdered Mr Cheng on Friday afternoon, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The teenager was given the .38 Smith and Wesson by an extremist inside the mosque who got the gun from a crime identity. The gang member had no idea what was going to unfold.
Investigators had unearthed the origin of the gun but asked the newspaper not to publish this information before Wednesday's early morning terror raids.
Farhad shot dead Mr Cheng outside the Parramatta police headquarters on Friday as he left work.
It was reported the 'radicalised' youth had visited the mosque to change into a black robe just before the terror attack.
He was shot dead by a police officer after he killed Mr Cheng.
But Neil El-Kadomi, the head of Parramatta Mosque, denied he knew 'the boy' and claimed the teen was an infrequent visitor at the mosque.
Student, 24, says he was bashed by police during a routine traffic stop - and claims they confiscated his phone and 'edited' his footage of the incident
A Cairns man facing charges of assaulting police is considering suing the Queensland Police Service after claiming he was bashed by an officer during a routine traffic stop.
Kenneth Wong says police took his phone and edited footage of him being assaulted by a male constable.
But the QPS will not look into the allegations until Wong, 24, has been through court for a string of charges himself, including failing to stop, contravening a direction and assaulting police.
'As the matter is currently before the court it is not appropriate to comment further,' a police statement read.
Wong says he was repeatedly punched in the face by the constable after he was pulled over on August 29 for failing to completely stop at an intersection while on the way to visit his sick mother in Cairns.
An emergency department report obtained by AAP shows Wong suffered two black eyes, a cut under his left eye, bruises to both wrists and a bruise to his right shoulder.
The law graduate and education student says the officer called for back-up when he questioned why he had to hand over his licence.
After realising Wong was recording him, the officer then allegedly took Mr Wong's glasses off, punched him multiple times and tried to pull him from the vehicle while he was still strapped in.
Once at the police station, he was pressured into giving police his phone's passcode, Wong says. He says police then disabled the iCloud function so he could not download the video remotely.
Wong's phone was returned last week and he is convinced the video has been 'trimmed' to remove possibly incriminating evidence. He plans to have a computer expert look at it.
Wong can be heard on the video file telling the officer: 'No, you can't do that. You don't have the power under PPRA (Police Powers and Responsibilities Act).
'I give you licence, you better leave me alone.
'Do not touch it, it's my property.'
The officer repeatedly replies: 'Don't start, mate.'
Wong says his facial injuries have prevented him from continuing his placement at a Cairns high school, while the incident itself has left him frightened and distrustful of police.
Wong approached the Crime and Corruption Commission to investigate the officer, but the complaint was forwarded to the QPS's Ethical Standard Command.
Wong has sought advice and said he is considering legal action.
It comes amid a QPS review into a recent spate of police brutality incidents on the Gold Coast.
The Queensland Council of Civil Liberties, which has been assisting Wong, says police behaviour is a growing concern.
'We're receiving at least one complaint or allegation about police violence or brutality a week,' acting president Julie Jansen told AAP.
Why are so many teachers fleeing Australian classrooms?
IN A profession where graduates head out into the world optimistic about nurturing children and bringing about change, it seems reality hits hard and fast.
Statistics show that early career teachers are leaving in droves, with close to 40% exiting from the profession within the first year of their teaching career, a number that has tripled in the last 6 years.
And it’s affecting our kids. Dr Phillip Riley, Director of the Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey at Monash University, says it is extremely disruptive to learning if teachers are constantly changing, something that’s become a huge issue in many schools. “Students need continuity and a predictable environment to optimise their learning. It is often connected with increased behavioural issues in student populations.” [i.e. the collapse of discipline]
However, it’s not just the kids that are affected — the economy also takes a blow, with replacement costs having been estimated at 0.2% of annual GDP. “That is a lot of money that could be put to much better use,” Dr Riley says. “It can also affect morale in schools more generally.”
Dr Riley says there are several reasons for the industry exodus, including the lack of job security in teaching contracts, being restricted in the way they can contribute to students’ learning and wellbeing, poor mentoring, and difficulty in their new workplace. He feels that one teacher summed it up by saying “I felt well prepared for the classroom, but nobody prepared me for the staffroom.”
Someone who can undoubtedly relate to this is Leila*, who, at 21, was bullied by the deputy principal in her first teaching job. Leila says her superior withheld information from her, badmouthed her to parents and isolated her from her team.
However, things became more serious when he cornered her alone late one afternoon with a false accusation, swearing at her and calling her names like ‘fat bitch’, ‘stupid bitch’, and ‘stupid little girl’, chasing Leila to her car as she fled in a panic. An investigation followed and found in Leila’s favour, however instead of the deputy being reprimanded or demoted, he went on to become a principal at a large primary school in a major city.
Leila was granted a transfer to a new school to start afresh, but says she was shocked to then find herself working for the principal from hell. “Before I arrived she found out my backstory and spoke to the deputy principal. She told me she had made it her mission to vindicate her ‘respected colleague’ and have me sacked once and for all.”
Leila says the principal micromanaged her excessively, enforced impossible workloads and went through her belongings regularly. Leila became distressed and suicidal, and when she found out she and her husband needed IVF treatment to conceive, her principal refused her time off for an appointment, telling her to choose between having children or teaching.
When her request for leave the following year was denied, she resigned. “After two bad experiences in a row I was convinced it was me, I was a bad teacher and a bad person. I didn’t deserve to live, let alone teach,” she says. However, Leila found out there were dozens of complaints already made against her former principal and is still shocked at the terrible duty of care at this behaviour being allowed to continue.
Nina* graduated as a mature-aged student and was offered a contract with a special education high school, which she loved, and the next year became the performing arts teacher, a role she took on with complete passion, but says throughout that year some things disturbed her.
“This special school is part of a larger school where every one preached integration,” Nina explains. “There was none, and the kids were ostracised from the rest of the school. I saw things among the staff that I didn’t like, the way they treated and handled the students and then the politics that carried on.”
When obvious and vocal nepotism saw another teacher employed and quickly offered a full time contract, Nina was left with minimal hours as a result. After complaining about this and a number of issues to the principal, she was offered a position in the main school’s art department, but it wasn’t ideal.
“I had no experience in teaching high school art and I was left largely on my own,” Nina explains. “There was no support for me and I even had another art teacher say that if I expected her to mentor me then the school had to give her more release time because she wasn’t prepared to do it in her non-interaction time. I felt like a second grade citizen and I felt so dumb. I tried not to show these high school kids my lack of confidence.”
Nina says this experience combined with the lack of consistent work and job security as well exhaustion from constantly ‘swimming upstream’ with no support has left her with no option but to change professions.
Jennifer* was offered a full time contract as a primary teacher in a large school within a week of completing her degree, but was shocked at the workload, often requiring her to work for hours on administrative tasks every night on top of her normal classroom teaching and planning.
“My contract was renewed at the end of the first year and I fell pregnant however on the first day back at school I learnt I’d had a miscarriage. This teamed with the lack of support from the executives and a huge workload led me to have my contract dissolved after term two. I tried casual teaching but I ended up walking away completely and took six months off before going into a receptionist position at a real estate.”
Dr Riley says for changes to happen in the teaching profession, we need to firstly admit it is an issue that needs addressing, then find better ways to support new teachers and provide professional learning for them — not just ad hoc mentoring.
“We need to provide longer beginning contracts so they can spend time ‘falling in love with teaching’ rather than worrying about reapplying for their jobs regularly.”
Fox News morning host says Australia has 'no freedom'
A host on Fox News has stated Australia has "no freedom" due to hate speech laws during a discussion on gun laws.
Fox and Friends host Tucker Carlson was discussing the recent mass shooting at an Oregon community college and Donald Trump's assertion the campus' ban on guns was to blame.
Mr Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, slammed the fact guns weren't allowed at Umpqua Community College.
"Wouldn't they have been better off if somebody in the room, anybody, had a gun to at least help them out," Trump said.
Carlson defended Mr Trump's comments, saying he had a "rational point".
"If there's a drunk driving accident you don't ban cars, you prevent drunk people from driving them," Carlson said.
Co-hosts Clayton Morris brought up Australia as a place that had strict gun controls, wrongly stating that people were banned from having firearms.
"They have no gun violence, they don't have guns, citizens aren't allowed to have guns," Morris said.
"They also have no freedom!" Carlson replied. "You can go to prison for expressing popular views and people do."
Carlson was referring to Australia's laws on hate speech, which aim to compensate those who are the victim of discrimination or vilification on account of their race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
No one has been jailed under the laws, which differ from state to state.
Opportunity cost in Australia's future submarine decision
I'm only too ready to leave it up to strategic experts such as Rear Admiral Peter Briggs to sort out how many submarines we need. I'll stick to the economics. We shouldn't let the number be determined by a perceived need to provide work-continuity for ASC in South Australia. And we should acknowledge that this is a decision about 'guns or butter': spending more on submarines by building them at home means less of something else.
The Senate inquiry on the future of naval shipbuilding in Australia is a 'must read' for anyone interested in the decision-making process. It's an example of Australia's own version of Eisenhower's 'military-industrial complex' in operation. Even though this was the Senate Economics Reference Committee, the list of contributors is almost exclusively construction-industry representatives, regional lobbyist, trade-unionists and former services personnel. The taxpayers were under-represented.
Reading the testimony, you might get the impression that the Collins saga had been a brilliant success and that building a new fleet of submarines in Australia would be no dearer than building overseas, an assertion consistently refuted by actual domestic ship-building experience (See ASPI's 'Four ships for the price of six').
Members of the Committee would have been courageous (in the 'Yes Minister' sense) to have been critical or sceptical, as all political parties covet those South Australian votes. Even so, the report was not, as Admiral Briggs stated, unanimous. There was in fact a substantial dissenting report issued by the Government members of the Committee, which (inter alia) specifically addressed the issues I raised in my initial post on this issue.
In response to the recommendation that Admiral Briggs quotes, the dissenting report says:
"Response to recommendation 3. The draft report calls for an Australian build at all costs. This could give rise to national security outcomes being compromised by a prioritisation of industry policy over defence policy and it could force the taxpayer to underwrite an economically uncompetitive project. While we want to see the Future Submarine contract awarded to Australian shipbuilders, it must also be the result of a competitive tender process and it must be awarded on merit. This will ensure that Navy receives a fit for purpose product of the highest standard while Australian tax payers receive the best possible value for money.
. . .Recommendation 3 effectively relegates national security policy to second place behind industry policy."
I couldn't have said it any better.
The substantive difference between Peter Briggs and me relates to the impact of spending on submarines on the economy. It is standard practice for consultants-for-hire to make their lobbying case on the basis that spending on the target industry will boost the economy, not just by the amount of the actual expenditure, but by a multiple of this because of successive rounds of spending. This is akin to the familiar textbook multiplier process. You can go one step further (as the 'eloquent' testimony of Professor Goran Roos does) and double-count the contribution of sub-contractors. If you want to get a good reception where 'jobs and growth' are the paramount political concern, this is the way to go.
It is only in rare circumstances, however, that this makes any economic sense. The multiplier logic relies on squeezing more than a pint out of a pint pot. The implicit assumption here is that there is unused capacity in the economy – capital, managerial talent and unemployed workers – all ready and waiting to respond to this extra demand to build submarines, adding to GDP is the process. Not only are these resources assumed to be unemployed now, the assumption is that they would have remained so over the life of the project.
Of course Australia has unemployment – currently 6.2% of the workforce. But this is close to the lowest level of unemployment Australia has had for the past quarter-century. It would be nice to get back to the lower level we had at the height of the resources investment boom, but this kind of fine tuning is not feasible.
The proper way to analyse how the submarines might affect GDP is to think in terms of opportunity cost: if these resources – capital, managerial talent and labour – were not building submarines, they would be doing something else which society also values. The productivity challenge is not to attempt to conjure productive capacity out of thin air, but to shift the economy's given resource endowment into uses which have a higher social value.
Government industry policy (subsidies, 'picking winners' and so on) may play a part in that process. Economists are not all free-market ideologues. Some of us accept that governments can sometimes use their considerable expenditure to steer resources into areas which will catalyse higher-value output and have longer-term benefits even when the expenditure ends. But economists also look back on the history of infant industries which never grew up, and on politically driven white elephants. Who wants another Darwin-Alice Springs railway?
Where does domestic submarine construction fit in such a framework?
Will this foster a viable industry which suits our comparative advantage? Will it form the nucleus of a cluster of highly productive firms with a self-sustaining future when the submarine work is finished? Will it link into international supply chains, thus compensating for our lack of manufacturing scale? Will it be disciplined by international competition, or link us more firmly into the rising demands of East Asia?
The Collins-class experience suggests that constructing bespoke submarines is a dead end, a mendicant industry whose survival depends on government subsidies.
Does it make any difference that domestic construction avoids importing? In a globalised world with flexible exchange rates, this 'exports good, imports bad' argument, common though it is, has to be dismissed. The flexible exchange rate looks after the need to keep imports and exports in equilibrium with the available funding from capital flows.
The dissenting report of the Senate inquiry was a brave attempt to put some limits on the size of the hand-out, through giving the rival bidders some flexibility on the domestic content of construction. The competitive evaluation process seems the last opportunity to impose some economics on this politics-driven project.
7 October, 2015
Farhad Jabar: Police believe gunman was no ‘lone wolf’ but part of an extremist pack
POLICE Commissioner Andrew Scipione has vowed that “everything that needs to be done will be done,” to find how a 15-year-old schoolboy came to execute a much loved police accountant as he left work.
“There is no way you can describe the hurt inside that building and right across the NSW Police force at the moment,” he said outside Charles St headquarters this afternoon.
Mr Scipione was joined by Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant where they laid wreaths for slain Curtis Cheng.
They then went inside to meet the special constables that shot dead Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar in a brief gunbattle.
Mr Baird said they were there to acknowledge “the bravery of some very special men”. “We strongly believe they saved many lives,” he said.
Mr Baird said they were also there to show their support for the “police family”. “We are here to try to help them know that everyone across this state is with them and they are not hurting alone.”
Mr Baird, Mr Scipione and Mr Grant also met Mr Cheng’s senior colleagues.
The floral tribute continues to grow outside the headquarters with people of different faiths praying and reflecting. Some make the sign of the cross, others pray and bow. Earlier in the day a Buddhist monk stood and reflected.
Earlier this morning police arrested a student on his way to Arthur Phillip High School, the same school attended by the 15-year-old who shot a man dead at Parramatta’s police headquarters last week.
The arrested student had his belongings emptied on the footpath before being handcuffed and taken away in a police van.
Police said they spoke with the boy on his way to school this morning in relation to alleged posts on social media. He was arrested after allegedly threatening and intimidating officers and taken to Parramatta police station.
In a Facebook post on Friday, a little more than an hour after Farhad Jabar shot dead police worker Curtis Cheng outside the force’s Parramatta headquarters, he wrote: “Serves you right I hope them lil piggies get shot”
He later posted a video of Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione’s press conference from the night of the shooting. “Bahahja f*ck you motherf***er Yallah merryland police station is next hope they all burn in hell,” he wrote alongside it.
The boy describes himself as “A.W. A” or “Arab with attitude” and allegedly has a long history of uploading content taunting and mocking NSW Police.
He shared a photo of himself in front of two officers from the state’s mounted unit and wrote: “F*ck the police not a single f*ck was given that day FTP FTS”.
In a chilling post the day after Friday’s callous terror attack, one his friends wrote: “I knew it was going to happen, just didnt (sic) know when”.
According to the 17-year-old’s Facebook account, he travelled to Iran earlier this year.
In May he checked in to the resort-filled Kish Island and wrote: “Omg this place is heaven”
The Arthur Phillip High School student is also a member of the group Social Muslims Unite.
His arrest comes after The Daily Telegraph revealed police are working on the theory that teen terrorist Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar was acting on the orders of other radicals and was not a “lone wolf’’ killer.
NSW counterterrorism officers are investigating who may have supplied the gun he used to carry out the murder of a civilian staffer at Parramatta police headquarters on Friday afternoon.
Counter terrorism police today revealed Jabar had been communicating online with a British Jihadist with known links to IS, the Australian reported.
“The possibility the teenager was used by extremists is a strong line of inquiry,’’ a senior officer involved in the operation told The Daily Telegraph.
“That includes searching his computers, electronic devices and who he was in contact with on the days leading up to the shooting and on the day itself.’’
The development comes amid reports in The Australian today that investigators have linked Jabar to a known British radical associated with terror group Islamic State, and that the pair had been communicating via the internet.
They have also established the schoolboy was at his home last Friday morning before he went to Parramatta mosque in the afternoon, where he listened to sermons by two imams.
“What was said in those sermons and who he may have met at the mosque are all now being investigated,” the senior officer said.
“There are hours of video and recordings to go through.’’
Jabar’s school friends and religious associates will all be interviewed in the next few days.
Competition under attack
Luddites at work. Ned Ludd and friends lost their battle and these guys will too
As tensions between Uber and the taxi industry continue to grow, a Brisbane cab company executive has taken to a public Facebook group to boast about hitting an Uber driver, and encourage others to "get more militant" with their rivals.
In a post to Taxi Driver Page, the manager of a Brisbane cab company responded to a post by a colleague who claimed he had been assaulted by an Uber driver while attempting to take his picture. The man wrote:
"F-cking slap him like I did to the prick in Warner St the other night, I am f-cking over them. You wait I will f-cking get them. They won't and can't defend themselves they are illegal. If it was 30 years ago in my time, they wouldn't last five minutes. We need to get more militant about this issue. The (sic) are the f-cking scabs stealing what we have all worked for."
In the early hours of Monday morning this week, a number of Brisbane Uber drivers were allegedly attacked by a group of men, with three separate incidents, in Fortitude Valley and Kangaroo Point.
One of the Uber drivers was treated or cuts and bruises, and in an interview with Fairfax, said he "strongly" suspected that off-duty cab drivers were behind the assault, based on anti-Uber comments they made.
When contacted by Fairfax media about the post on Taxi Driver Page, the man in question, who claimed to have slapped an Uber driver, hastily backtracked, insisting that he was actually just kidding around.
"I've never slapped an Uber driver in my life, we were mucking around," he said. "It's not true, I don't break the law. I spoke to an Uber driver but I don't want to elaborate, they are illegal."
Cabcharge, the largest taxi operator in Australia, recently admitted that its share price has halved since Uber entered the Australian market, with CEO Andrew Skelton saying "we need to leapfrog Uber and get out in front."
Trade deal a win for Australia: Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull says a new Pacific trade deal is a very big win for Australia, insisting the country stood up for itself during intense negotiations.
The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was finalised overnight after five years of talks, which included late-night phone calls between the prime minister and US President Barack Obama.
'These deals are win-win,' Mr Turnbull told Neil Mitchell on Melbourne 3AW radio on Tuesday.
There will be no change to the five-year data protection for biologic medicines, a major sticking point that had delayed negotiations in Atlanta.
'We certainly stood up for our position,' Mr Turnbull said, insisting the deal will not make drugs more expensive in Australia.
The partnership was of 'enormous benefit' to Australia and a 'gigantic foundation stone' for the country's future prosperity.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb says the agreement contains 'pages and pages of benefits' and will make Australia more competitive, create jobs and boost living standards.
As well as boosting trade with the US, it will open up new markets to Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile and Canada and usher in a new era of economic growth and opportunity across the fast-growing Asia-Pacific.
Service providers, miners and manufacturers will see tariffs slashed and new markets opened up.
Farmers will get a major boost with tariffs reduced or cut for beef, dairy, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture and seafood in a number of markets.
Beef producers will see tariffs cut by another nine per cent and for the first time in decades rice growers can send more product to Japan.
Canegrowers will see market access for sugar to the US double.
However Mr Robb concedes the extra 65,000 tonne base quota increase for sugar was not as much as he expected.
'We were disappointed, I couldn't get as much as I wanted,' he told ABC TV on Tuesday, but adding there was potential for further growth.
Lobby group Canegrowers described the outcome as bittersweet, thankful for a compromise uplift of $16 million.
'That's not to be sneezed at, but I would be less than truthful in saying we are overall disappointed in the outcome,' chairman Paul Schembri said.
Innovative drug makers were disappointed, saying Australia's five-year data exclusivity provision lagged behind global competitors and would stifle innovation.
Medicines Australia said Australia would miss out on jobs and tax streams from missed medical breakthroughs.
Labor says it will examine the details closely, especially investor-state dispute resolution provisions which could open up Australia to litigation on decisions such as plain cigarette packaging.
'We look forward to seeing how robust those protections are,' opposition trade spokeswoman Penny Wong told ABC radio.
The Australian Greens are sceptical about the deal's benefits, pointing to US research showing there would be a zero-net benefit to the Australian economy.
'That's why the minister has been under significant pressure not to trade away our rights,' trade spokesman Peter Whish-Wilson said.
Each country will now take the agreement back home, with the deal to be scrutinised by a joint houses committee of the Australian parliament.
Progressives on the case of ‘retirement rorters’
Readers of The Age were greeted with an improbable splash on Friday. Malcolm Turnbull, they were told, was declaring war on the wealthy.
The new Prime Minister had “reached in-principle agreement with unions, employers and welfare organisations to reduce a raft of tax breaks, including negative gearing and superannuation concessions, that primarily bene?t the rich”.
It was an example of what comedian Steven Colbert calls “truthiness”, a story lacking factual support that the writer thinks ought to be true.
In April, a story under the same byline claimed “the prospect of a breakthrough on the contentious tax treatment of superannuation earnings has moved a step closer”. His evidence? Labor’s Chris Bowen had “offered support for a crackdown on the super incomes of the super rich”.
Oddly, Tony Abbott didn’t come to the party on that one. The writer lives in hope that Malcolm Turnbull will.
The notion that Liberal Party parliamentarians entirely lost their senses last month and elected a Fabian socialist as their leader is gaining ground in some sections of the press gallery.
The premise behind The Age’s story was absurd. If Turnbull really wants to soak the rich, why would he have to ask the unions for permission?
The National Reform Summit delegates who briefed the Prime Minister last week agreed that the retirement income system was not what we were promised.
Workers have been forced to save a chunk of their wages for more than 20 years, yet seven out of 10 will rely on welfare, in part or in full, to see them through retirement. We could squeeze the rich until the pips squeak but it would do nothing to help the poor. Raising taxes for high earners will not help a single retiree cross the threshold from handouts to self-sufficiency. Superannuation taxation is, at best, of peripheral concern.
Yet superannuation, like disability insurance and education funding, has become a subject about which it is impossible to have a temperate conversation. Ironically, the debate has become hostage to the public policy absolutism that the National Reform Summit was designed to avoid.
The fear that the unscrupulous rich are rorting their super has developed into full-blown moral panic. The imagined inequities of the system are discussed ad nauseam at polite dinner parties, overtaking public subsidies for private education as the wrong that must be righted.
An imagined evil lurks within the superannuation system and the sophisticates are profoundly disturbed. They are overwhelmed by the impulse to put things right.
As sociologist Howard S. Becker wrote in 1964, the moral crusader “feels that nothing can be right in the world until rules are made to correct it”.
“He operates with an absolute ethic; what he sees is truly and totally evil with no qualification. Any means is justified to do away with it.”
Crusaders distort the language of debate. They talk of the tax rate on long-held savings as a “concession” when in fact it is nothing of the kind. No other OECD country taxes such savings as ordinary income; were they to do so, the effective tax rate would be extraordinarily high, as Henry Ergas has explained in detail in these pages.
The size of the supposed problem is overstated; the assumed benefits from the proposed solution are over-estimated; the level of support for change is exaggerated.
“Two-thirds of older Australians want the government to curb overly generous superannuation tax concessions for the wealthy,” The Age’s Mark Kenny claimed in April.
What was his evidence for this startling claim? A survey by Your Life Choices magazine “using the online polling tool SurveyMonkey”. Hardly authoritative.
The Labor Party, devoid of any serious economic policy intent, joins crusades such as this to justify its contention that it is the party of compassion. It aims for hearts rather than minds by siding with the self-professed angels in morally charged debates, such as carbon pricing, refugees and amendments to the marriage act.
Jonah Goldberg writes in The Tyranny of Cliches: “Progressive’’ has become a euphemism for “all good things.” To oppose a progressive argument shows that “you just don’t get it” or, worse, that “you are part of the problem”.
Experienced leaders learn to negotiate popular progressive causes, aware of the skewed priorities, subprime policy and unintended consequences that usually follow. Moral crusaders invariably advocate increased regulation, rather than less. They seldom call for governments to be less intrusive or for less money to be taken in taxes.
For a Labor Party that still refuses to acknowledge the debt burden it created, attacks on wealthy superannuation savers provide a tempting diversion from discussing fiscal repair.
On May 11, opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen told the ABC Insiders that the government “had thrown up the white flag on the deficit”.
Labor, on the other hand, had laid out its package for taxing earnings on super. “They are fully costed,” said Bowen, “which will make a substantial contribution to the budget over the next decade.”
ABC TV’s Chris Uhlmann was rude enough to correct him: “A small contribution.” “Well, a contribution which is important,” insisted Bowen. “More than $20 billion over the next decade.”
Sadly, $2bn a year across a decade won’t come close to paying the interest on the national debt, even if one accepts those figures, which even Bowen doesn’t.
Three weeks earlier, Bowen had announced 10-year savings of $14.3 billion in a package he said was “responsible, fair and final”.
Bowen argues that 38 per cent of the imagined “concessions” are claimed by the wealthiest 10 per cent of the population. Yet that is not entirely unreasonable, since that same cohort pays 45 per cent of income tax collected.
Labor should take stock before its trashes its economic credentials completely. Closing imagined loopholes is just a sly excuse for tax hikes. And as Labor leader Bill Shorten made a point of telling the August summit, “increasing tax is not tax reform”.
Hawkei: Army to spend $1.3 billion on Australian-made replacement for ageing Land Rover fleet
The Federal Government has announced it will spend $1.3 billion on new light armoured personnel carriers for the Army.
The Hawkei vehicles will be manufactured by Thales Australia, which also makes the Bushmaster armoured personnel carrier, in Bendigo. They will replace part of the Army's ageing Land Rover fleet.
The Australian Army will order 1,100 Hawkeis, which are classed as "light protected mobility vehicles".
Equipped with a V-shaped hull which Thales says will help deflect IED blasts, the vehicles can be armed with weapons including heavy machine guns and grenade launchers, and is light enough to be carried by a Chinook helicopter.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne made the announcement at a test facility at Monegeetta, north of Melbourne on Monday morning.
Mr Turnbull said the investment will generate 170 jobs in technology manufacturing and provide soldiers with the best equipment available.
"This $1.3 billion investment will mean greater capability for Defence, around 170 more jobs in the innovative frontier of technology manufacturing in Victoria, and will consolidate Australia's position as a world leader in military transport technology," he said.
"The men and women of our armed services are entitled to the best equipment we can provide them to do their job and do it well, to faithfully defend our nation and our national interests.
"It's been designed with the future in mind so that as new technology becomes available it can be engineered into the vehicle to give our soldiers the best available tools in the most dangerous situations."
Ms Payne said the Australian-made vehicle would be a world leader and said there was "enormous potential" for it to be sold internationally.
"The fact that it is a lighter vehicle than the traditional Bushmaster, the fact that it has a degree of mobility in very high-risk areas, and has a significant degree of blast and ballistic protection for our serving members means that it should be very attractive on the international market," she said.
"We will work closely with Australian defence industries to make the most of those opportunities wherever and whenever we can.
"As well as Victoria there's obviously support and sustainment activities that occur elsewhere in Australia as well, so it does have a positive and very beneficial effect for Australian industry elsewhere."
The Government estimates the project will keep 170 jobs in the region and sustain another 60 in wider Victoria.
Thales was identified in December 2011 as the Federal Government's preferred bidder, and prototypes of the Hawkei have undergone a testing process since.
6 October, 2015
Trust "The Guardian"
"The Guardian" is the oracle of the British Left. They have recently branched out with an Australian edition of their propaganda sheet. So you can almost write their stories for them: The Liberal party is bad; Muslims are good etc. Their slant does however make them look ridiculous at times. Below is what they reported about the Parramatta shooting by Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad on Friday. Must protect those Muslims!
We are going to wrap up our live coverage of this incident here. But before we do, this is what we now know about the fatal shooting:
* A man, dressed in dark clothes, allegedly shot an unsworn NSW Police officer at close range as that officer was leaving work at the Charles Street police complex, Parramatta, at 4.30pm. The officer was killed with a single shot.
* That man remained outside the police complex and apparently fired a few more shots at a NSW Police special constable before a number of other special came outside the station. Police shot back and the man was killed.
*There is nothing at this stage to suggest any links to terrorism - the gunman appeared to have been acting alone and deliberately targeted the unsworn officer, although police aren’t yet sure why.
* The investigation will be treated as a standard coronial investigation and led by the homicide squad, but counter-terrorism officers will assist because police are “keeping an open mind”.
*The gunman has not yet been identified. The unsworn officer has not been named because his family is yet to be notified.
There is no ongoing threat to public safety.
Echo chamber magnifies sense of Muslim grievance
According to senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the Turnbull government, the young Muslims who are being drawn into the extremism that led Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad to murder a NSW Police Force employee last Friday feel “disengaged” and “disenfranchised”.
No doubt. But it is also worth recalling the realities. And none is more important than the fact that Australia provides its young Muslims with opportunities that are outstanding.
The contrast to Europe could not be sharper. In Germany and The Netherlands, second-generation Muslims are twice as likely to leave school before completion than their native-born counterparts; in Australia, secondary school retention rates are no lower for second-generation Muslims than they are for the youth population as a whole.
Equally, in Germany and The Netherlands, young Muslims are only one-third as likely to complete post-secondary education as their native-born counterparts, with the result that barely 7 per cent of the children of Turks in Germany and 29 per cent of the children of Moroccans in The Netherlands gain a post-secondary credential; in Australia, the difference in entry rates is small, so that 43 per cent of second-generation Muslims have a post-secondary credential, compared to 52 per cent of the entire population aged 18 to 35.
The achievement is even more remarkable when outcomes for second-generation Australian Muslims are compared with those of their parents.
For example, a study of Sydney’s Lebanese Muslim community found that 45 per cent of the parents had left school before the equivalent of Year 10; in contrast, virtually all their children had completed upper secondary school, with the majority continuing to TAFE or university. Moreover, that difference in educational attainment has translated into sustained upward mobility: although 35 per cent of the fathers were manual labourers, only 10 per cent of the male children are; and while barely 3 per cent of the parents were in the professions, some 20 per cent of their children have professional jobs.
To emphasise those outcomes is not to ignore the problems. However, at least some of them reflect choice rather than necessity: the combination of very low rates of female labour force participation and relatively high birthrates — which then leads to strains on family budgets and welfare dependency — being a case in point. As for the other problems polls highlight, such as the perception of being in a job that falls short of one’s qualifications, they are by no means unique to young Muslims, with other young Australians suffering the effects of “credential inflation” every bit as acutely.
What is different about young Muslims is where those problems lead: to a sense of being hard done by, which others are responsible for and must redress.
For example, only 13 per cent of Australian-born Lebanese Christians strongly believe governments need to do more to advance the position of migrants; but 54 per cent of Australian-born Lebanese Muslims do. And though the majority of Australian-born Muslims say they have never experienced labour market discrimination themselves, they believe it to be relatively widespread and more so now than a decade ago.
It is that chasm between opportunity and grievance which needs to be explained; but its causes are not hard to find.
To begin with, young Australian Muslims, especially those of Middle Eastern extraction, are twice as likely as their Australian peers to have an identity in which religion plays a key part — and that religion, as practised in many Australian mosques, all too often preaches that Muslims are victims of grave injustice.
At the same time, they are highly likely to live in areas where a 30 per cent or higher proportion of the population shares their identity, such as Lakemba, Auburn and Greenacre in Sydney and Dandenong South, Dallas and Meadow Heights in Melbourne. And to make matters worse, their primary social networks in those areas are frequently narrow, with one survey finding that 40 per cent of young Muslims of Lebanese origin have never had any Anglo-Celtic friends.
The result is an echo chamber that does not merely confirm misperceptions but magnifies them, allowing dissatisfaction to metastasise, in extreme cases, into jihadism.
That process needs to be blocked; the risk, however, is that the government’s response will only aggravate the pathology.
For example, the Gillard government’s multicultural policy, with its emphasis on combating discrimination, could not but vindicate the belief that discrimination is a serious issue.
Equally, the greater the prominence given to the self-appointed representatives of the Muslim community, the greater the danger of entrenching Islam’s role as the community’s point of reference.
There are, in that respect, lessons to be learned from Malek Boutih, a French politician of Algerian extraction who prepared the official report on last January’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
Boutih finds no evidence that radicalisation was related to disadvantage: rather, many French jihadists come from well-off backgrounds.
And he has long argued that the policy of promoting community-based Islamic organisations has proved counterproductive, legitimising the perception that French society is structured on religious lines and strengthening young Muslims’ sense of segregation and victimhood.
The consequence of “communitarianism”, Boutih contends, has been to make radicalisation more, rather than less, likely.
None of that is to suggest there are easy answers. Nor is it to deny that most Muslims are appalled at the senseless violence being wreaked in Islam’s name.
But this is an area in which woolly thinking and “feelgood” policies literally kill.
With the grim reality of the latest outrage sinking in, tough-minded deterrence must be the primary response.
As it reaffirms its commitment to that deterrence, the government’s message to Australia’s young Muslims should be clear: count your blessings, for they are truly bountiful. And instead of shredding them, now is the time to be in the frontline of their defence.
Asylum seekers at Nauru detention centre to come and go as they please
ASYLUM seekers at the Nauru detention centre will now be able to come and go as they please. The Nauru government has confirmed the facility has become an open centre, in line with the recommendation of a recent Senate inquiry report into allegations of sexual and child abuse.
Nauru’s Justice Minister David Adeang said 600 asylum seekers’ outstanding refugee claims would be processed within the next week.
Mr Adeang flagged that more Australian police assistance would be forthcoming.
The Nauru government has increased the number of community officers from 135 to 320, including 30 refugees, to help with the transition.
Extra lifeguards will be appointed to patrol beaches to ensure the water safety of refugee families, some of whom may not have strong swimming skills.
A Pakistani refugee drowned last year while swimming at the beach, along with a Nauru citizen who attempted the rescue.
The Nauru government is also in talks with Australia about ongoing health care and overseas medical referrals for refugees.
Why are we so afraid of an anti-abortion activist?
SO AUSTRALIA has become one of those countries that ban people whose views are not acceptable to the feminist establishment, and then locks them up.
This is the stunningly illiberal position of the new Turnbull government which banned American anti-abortion campaigner Troy Newman from coming to Australia last week.
He arrived on Thursday, anyway, to begin a speaking tour to Right to Life groups around the country, and was promptly detained by Border Security officers at Melbourne airport before being transferred to Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre pending deportation.
Newman has no criminal record, is not a threat to national security or to good public order.
He just has an opinion the “#ShoutYourAbortion” crowd don’t like. He believes abortion is murder.
Newman is on the board of the Center for Medical Progress, which has released 10 videos detailing horrendous practices at abortion provider Planned Parenthood, including the sale of foetal organs and body parts.
That makes him public enemy number one to abortion activists who will do whatever it takes to suppress the ugliness of the lucrative global abortion industry.
Whether you agree with Newman or not, his views are not illegal or even very remarkable. There are plenty of Australians who agree abortion is murder and many more who, while believing abortion should be safe and legal, are uncomfortable with the large number of abortions performed each year.
Surely the women who celebrate their abortions on twitter with the hashtag “Shout your abortion” are more out of step with community sentiment.
Whatever your view, banning uncomfortable opinions puts us on a dangerous path. Yet how few Australians are willing to uphold basic liberal principles when it comes to defending views they find distasteful.
The Turnbull government has caved into twitter lynch mobs in order to demonstrate its new feminist agenda. Incredibly, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton even took at face value a deceptive letter from Labor MP Terri Butler.
As the Australian Christian Lobby points out, Butler is a member of the pro-abortion group Emily’s List, who “receives campaign money from Emily’s List because of her pro-abortion views.
“That is fair enough in a free society, but it is a relevant motivating factor in her campaign to stop Mr Newman from speaking in Australia.”
Emily’s List is menace enough in the Labor Party, but now the Coalition has bowed to its autocratic ideology.
Did Dutton bother checking Butler’s claims before cancelling Newman’s visa at the last minute?
Her letter was a farrago of half truths and exaggerations. She claimed Newman advocated the execution of abortion doctors, implying he incited vigilante violence. Her evidence was a 2000 book in which he wrote the US government’s “responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes.” Note the word “convicted”. The death penalty is law in some US states.
Butler further claimed, “There is a real risk that Mr Newman’s conduct may cause discord within the community and disrupt the ability of women to access lawful reproductive medicine.”
In the High Court on Friday Justice Nettle reportedly found it had not been proven that Newman had advocated the death penalty for abortion doctors nor that protests he had been involved with in the US had been violent.
But because Newman had defied Australian law by flying here without a visa, he lost his challenge and had to leave the country.
Now he’s gone, all that has been achieved is that Australia is notorious as a country that does not tolerate unfashionable views.
What’s next? Do we ban anyone who dissents from PM Turnbull’s opinion on climate change, or same sex marriage or radical Islam?
So much for the broad church.
5 October, 2015
Queensland’s population growth rate a far cry from glory years
The original headline above is unduly sensationalist. According to the ABS, the Qld growth rate is only a touch lower than the national growth rate. But it is still of interest that Qld has ceased to be fast growing. All the usual cliches about Qld have been trotted out to explain it but I think the main reason is obvious. Qld house prices were once MUCH lower than Sydney or Melbourne. But they are now only a touch lower: Not enough to give an economic justification for moving into the sunshine
QUEENSLAND was once Australia’s population growth capital, attracting droves of out-of-towners to its enviable beaches, cheap housing and bountiful job opportunities.
But it seems the sun has set on those golden years.
Population growth is taking a nosedive in Queensland, with fewer people moving in as others move out. So much so, the state government has been forced to consider how to bring interstate and overseas migrants back, according to The Australian.
According to new Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Queensland’s population grew at only 1.3 per cent in the year ending March 31, lower than the national growth rate of 1.4 per cent.
Victoria has now claimed Queensland’s former title as Australia’s growth rate hotspot, at 1.7 per cent.
While some people are still moving interstate to Queensland, the volume is nowhere near what it used to be. Numbers of interstate migrants have plummeted from about 50,000 a year in the mid-2000s to just 6200 in the year to March.
There was also a 35 per cent decrease on the previous year in the number of overseas migrants choosing Queensland as their new home.
It’s a mounting trend, as Queensland’s population growth rate has been sluggish for the past few years.
Toasting liberties instead of taking them
ALL politics is local and for Australia, that means putting our nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea front and centre. Except we don’t. This year we will give the 40-year-old nation $554.5 million in aid which is supposedly linked to three objectives — the first of which is effective governance and the rule of law.
Yet the Department of Foreign Affairs, which manages $477.3 million of that aid budget, has turned a blind eye to a blatant breach of governance affecting the administration of justice and the rule of law.
Four weeks ago, on September 8, two Australian-based lawyers representing the PNG National Fraud & Anti-Corruption Directorate (NFACD) were secretly banned from entering the country. PNG Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura directed all international airlines and border posts not to permit barrister Greg Egan and junior counsel Terence Lambert from travelling to PNG without telling either man.
He warned the airlines that in no circumstances would Egan and Lambert be permitted to enter PNG and penalties would be applied to carriers which failed to comply.
While PNG has refused to give any reason for the ban, it would be apparent to the ordinary person that Egan and Lambert have been targeted by the PNG government because they were briefed by local law firm Jema Lawyer to act for the director of the NFACD Mathew Damaru and his deputy Timothy Gitua in a number of serious cases relating to an arrest warrant sworn against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Egan, who has been practising law in PNG since 1988, also acts for Task Force Sweep chairman Sam Koim whose challenge of O’Neill’s decision to disband the Anti-Corruption Agency in June, 2014 was adjourned on Tuesday after being listed for trial. O’Neill lost his court bid to prevent Egan representing the NFACD directors.
With no reasons for the ban, lawyers acting for the two Australians have sought a judicial review next week.
They say the ban was ordered to prevent Egan and Lambert in cases against O’Neill, that it doesn’t comply with the Migration Act and therefore has no legal force, that it goes beyond the power of the chief migration officer and is a denial of natural justice. Finally, the lawyers say the decision meets the test for the “Wednesbury principle of unreasonableness” which holds that a decision is so unreasonable or outrageous it defies logic or accepted moral standards such that no reasonable or sensible person who considered the matter could have accepted it.
The ban follows an SBS Lateline expose which made serious allegations about corruption in PNG and a money laundering trail.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said they took the allegations seriously and promised investigations — yet no action appears to have been taken.
PNG Law Society president Peter Kuman expressed grave concerns at the reports of the travel ban, saying the society “views their ban as a violation of the rule of law in the country”.
Australian Bar Association president Patrick O’Sullivan, QC, said this “was deeply disturbing’’. “Every citizen of PNG is entitled to legal representation and in particular, is entitled to choose who represents his or her interests.
“Foreign counsel play an important part in the administration of justice in PNG and lawyers must be allowed to practise without intimidation or hindrance. This includes the right of entry into the country.
‘‘Interfering with the impartial administration of justice will only serve to jeopardise the rule of law in PNG.’’
DFAT has been monitoring the situation but so far appears to have taken a hopey-wishy position. It has not made any official representation to the PNG government, despite the millions we give PNG.
Compare this lack of action, let alone remonstration, with the outpourings of support in the past for convicted drug smugglers imprisoned abroad.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is a lawyer. Give her a brief and away she will go but when torn between standing up for the rule of law in our region and maintaining diplomatic relations with a government which has question marks hanging over it, she has opted to ignore extremely serious concerns rather than convey the very real anxiety that exists about actions of the PNG government and PM O’Neill.
Rather than swan around the international cocktail circuit playing footsie with UN fat cats, Bishop needs to be brought back to earth and reminded that her responsibilities are to Australians in the here and now, not in the fantasy world of New York’s Turtle Bay.
Extremist Muslim group to hold workshops at Deakin University
An extremist Muslim group are holding workshops at Melbourne’s Deakin University this weekend based on the teachings of Islamic scholars who have recommended the death penalty for homosexuals and apostates, promoted terrorism and preached hatred of Jews and Christians and violence against women.
The Islamic Research and Educational Academy, which earlier this year held a conference at which children as young as five were encouraged to dress up as radical clerics and read controversial sermons and passages from the Koran, has sent text messages to supporters advertising the da’wah workshops as being based on the teachings of “legendary” scholars Zakir Naik and Ahmed Deedat.
Dubbed “The Art of Da’wah” and hosted by the ultraconservative Salafist organisation’s president Waseem Razvi, the workshops, to be held at Deakin’s Burwood campus, promise to use the teachings of Dr Naik and Sheik Deedat to help attendees “learn the art and gain the confidence to talk about Islam to anyone, anywhere and at any time”.
In Islamic theology, the purpose of da’wah is to invite Muslims and non-Muslims to understand the worship of Allah.
Indian “televangelist” Dr Naik has been banned from countries including Britain, Canada and parts of India for his rhetorical support for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
He has recommended capital punishment for homosexuals and apostates and has been quoted saying “every Muslim should be a terrorist” and asserting men’s “rights” to beat their wives, as long as they do it lightly, so as not to leave a mark.
Sheik Deedat, who died in 2005, was a South African Muslim missionary of Indian descent whose books have been banned from sale in France since 1994 for being “violently anti-Western, anti-Semitic and inciting to racial hate.”
His da’wah centre was heavily financed by the bin Laden family and Deedat praised Osama bin Laden after meeting him.
Deakin corporate communications director Sarah Dolan yesterday said there were no clear grounds to cancel the event at the last minute.
“Nevertheless, we will closely watch how the group represent and conduct themselves,” she said.
“As a university we are committed to the fair and open exchange of ideas, but we draw the line not just at anyone promoting or justifying violent extremism but also at any malicious expression of exclusivism intended to encourage people to view others in a way that is disrespectful or hateful.”
Chair in Global Islamic Politics at Deakin Greg Barton said he agreed with the university’s decision, but provisos were certainly necessary.
“When it comes to Zakir Naik, there are reasons to be concerned,” Professor Barton said. “The questions around this event will be who is speaking and what line they take.
“In Australia at the moment we face a very serious struggle with violent extremist being recruited from our suburbs, and even from our tertiary institutions, and we have to be wise about how we engage. If we simply close the doors on everything, that can support the extremists’ rhetoric.
Social conservatism and limited government
Dr Jeremy Sammut
There is a school of thought that says the Abbott government failed to achieve economic reform because of Tony Abbott's social conservatism.
I discuss this subject in an article in this week's Spectator Australia, and suggest Abbott's political demise may in fact make it harder to achieve economic reform as the Left seems to have acquired a right of veto over any Prime Minister who dissents from their version of social and economic progressivism.
I would like to add an extra point. Those who describe their beliefs as economically dry and socially wet tend to think that social conservatism is antithetical to economic liberalism and a limited government agenda. I beg to differ with this trendy idea.
In the UK, the 500,000 most troubled families cost British taxpayers more than £30 billion -- £75,000 ($147,000) per family per year in benefits and other services spanning areas including child protection, health, welfare, and justice.
There is no reason to think the situation is different in Australia. The 2015 Review of Australia's Welfare System drew attention not only to the cost of welfare dependence to the Budget, but also to how it was linked to intergenerational family dysfunction and associated social problems.
'Troubled families' is a euphemism for the dysfunctional underclass of welfare-dependent households -- in which problems such as drug abuse and single-motherhood are rife.
What this suggests is that the social revolution of the 1960s, and the associated liberalisation of social attitudes towards the family breakdown and drugs, have become a driver of bigger government.
The so-called moral issues social conservatives prioritise -- traditional marriage and the war on drugs -- are actually policy issues highly relevant to addressing the social chaos that costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
Rather than complain about the old-fashioned social values of conservative throwbacks, trendies might instead ponder the ways that being economically dry and socially wet can be self-defeating, given the links between social permissiveness and growth in the size of government.
4 October, 2015
Union bosses ‘stole $2.4m from members’
Kathy Jackson and fellow former senior Health Service Union figures are “personally responsible” for misappropriating more than $2.4 million of members’ funds, say the senior barristers assisting the trade union royal commission.
They accuse its former star whistleblower of corruption and say a Federal Court ruling that Ms Jackson stole more than $1.4m from the HSU should be used as the basis of Commissioner Dyson Heydon’s final report.
The submission to the commission does not recommend criminal charges be laid while a Victorian police taskforce investigation into the scandal is under way.
“This sorry history of misappropriation and deceit was facilitated by a culture then pervasive at the HSU, in which senior management operated with a sense of complete entitlement in respect of the use of members’ money and at the same time without being subject to proper control or supervision,” it states.
It remains open to Commissioner Heydon to find that Ms Jackson, national secretary of the union until February, should be referred to the authorities to face further criminal and civil sanctions.
Former general secretary of the NSW branch Michael Williamson defrauded the HSU by providing fake invoices totalling $938,000, and Ms Jackson’s predecessor Craig Thomson, who was convicted of theft for misusing a union credit card, misappropriated $5600, the submission concludes.
Together, the officials “at the apex of the union” formed a “triumvirate of persons who were prepared to further their own personal interests and political ambitions at the expense of the members’’, the submission states, adding that a “failure of governance and transparency was at the heart of the scandal”.
“The picture … is deeply disturbing. It is of a union in disarray. It is of a union in which the predominant culture among senior management was of entitlement, not service.”
Counsel assisting the commission has come under fire for going “softly” on Ms Jackson, who took allegations of Mr Williamson’s wrongdoing to police.
“Katherine Jackson was instrumental in revealing Michael Williamson’s conduct to the public and to the prosecution,” the submission states. “However, her own activities as a union official have now also come to light.
“In substance … Jackson misused her position as a union official to further her own interests and political ambitions in a variety of ways and over a period of years, resulting in misappropriation from the HSU of in excess of $1.4m.”
Muslim terrorism mentioned as such in Australia
Police have released a photo of the 'admired' and 'gentle' father of two who was gunned down by a 15-year-old 'radicalised' youth Friday evening.
Curtis Cheng, 58, was leaving work at the police headquarters in Parramatta, Sydney, when he was shot in the back of the head by the Iranian-born youth.
The gunman responsible has been identified as Farad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, the ABC reported.
He had visited a mosque in the hours before the killing, which has been confirmed by the Prime Minister as an act of terrorism.
Police had searched the teen's North Parramatta family home and taken computer equipment, the ABC reported.
He was a student at Arthur Phillip High, a school less than half a kilometre from where the shootings took place, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
A source told the ABC the teen's weapon was a revolver and it did not seem he knew his victim.
Witnesses of the attack on Friday afternoon said after the killing, the teen paraded in front of the police station with his weapon chanting 'Allah, Allah', it was reported.
After exchanging gunfire with police officers, the teen was killed.
Mr Cheng, a father of two and accountant for the police, was remembered as a 'wonderful' man, loved by family, friends and colleagues.
In a press conference with New South Wales premiere Mike Baird, Police commissioner Andrew Scipione said the police force was in mourning.
NSW premier Mike Baird said it was an 'unthinkable act' that ended his life. 'I want the family of Curtis and the members of his Police community to know that you don't face this loss alone. We mourn with you and we are here for you.'
The police commissioner confirmed the teen's actions were 'politically motivated and therefore linked to terrorism'.
En route to the killing the youth, originally from Iran, had visited Parramatta Mosque, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The killer, who had an Iraqi and Kurdish background, carried no identification and it was believed his brother contacted police with his identity, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The gunman, at present believed to have been acting alone, shot Mr Cheng at close range outside the Parramatta police headquarters in a targeted attack on Friday, which has been described as a 'brutal' and 'callous murder'.
The assailant, dressed all in black, fired a number of shots at special constables guarding the NSW Police station in Sydney, before he was gunned down and killed by one of the officers.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said Mr Cheng was 'simply leaving work' when he was shot in the back of the head by the gunman who was wearing 'dark trousers and a flowing top'.
'A number of special constables came out of the building and as they've emerged they've come under fire.
'In the exchange that followed the gunman was shot and killed. An employee of the NSW police force has been callously murdered here today. This is a very sobering time for us.'
Police believe the gunman was not working with anyone else, but have not ruled out the possibility there may be others involved.
American woman says a favorite Australian sandwich spread is racist because it is black!
One would normally think this is a spoof but it could be for real in the context of all the things that are said to be racist these days. Vegemite and similar products are popular in Australia, Britain and some other English-speaking countries but Americans usually find it unpleasant. Like most Australians, I always have some in my fridge -- JR
A bizarre online rant that claims "Vegemite is racist because its black" has gone viral.
Cassidy Boon, 20, aired her controversial anti-yeast spread views on YouTube as she launched a #banvegemite campaign. She said: "Eating Vegemite is racist towards Aboriginals - because it is black. "If you eat Vegemite, you’re literally what’s wrong with the world."
"Ever since the 1950s - or whatever - Vegemite has been a way to symbolically make white Australians feel superior to Aboriginals by literally eating their f*****g skin in a jar.
The American adds that she spent seven years living in Australia during which she felt "ashamed of all of you".
The video is here. She basically doesn't know anything about Australia, and is probably pretty dim generally. Her use of profanity does not suggest much intellectual depth.
PC has become pandemic at universities
Universities used to challenge conventional ideas. But today they have become bastions of political correctness where the fragile sensitivities of students are cuddled and protected from emotional and psychological maladies.
Now US social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and academic freedom advocate Greg Lukianoff have warned that restricting free circulation of thought actually endangers students' mental health.
Vindictive protectiveness prepares students poorly for professional life and can even engender patterns of thought similar to those that cause depression and anxiety, Haidt and Lukianoff say. The therapy of 'political correctness' may only make things worse.
When political correctness, or PC, emerged in universities in the late 1980s, it was motivated by a desire to eradicate discrimination. But PC has morphed into a different beast. Twenty-first century PC is concerned with emotional well-being.
On campus, PC presumes an extraordinary fragility of the student psyche and aims to protect the eggshell sensitivities of students from psychological harm. That's why there are calls to control what can be taught, what can be encountered, and what can be experienced on campus.
And that's why many students also require their professors to issue 'trigger warnings' before covering any topics which may invoke negative feelings - such as when studying the crime of rape.
So here's a trigger warning about upcoming medical themes: the arteries of learning on our universities have become sclerotic and clogged with the plaques of PC which stifle debate. Excessive PC irradiation zapped in Australian universities is killing free speech in the name of protecting the vulnerable.
When today's students enter the workplace they will need qualities of strength, resilience, confidence and compassion to address the challenges our country faces. Instead, Australian students are being failed by universities trying to protect them from things they will inevitably encounter later.
Attempting to force the world to conform to your desires is never going to be the way to achieve happiness or success. It's time to remove the strictures of political correctness, to free up the minds of Australian students, and to help equip them with the skills to master their desires, fears, and habits of thought.
New Zealand doesn't want its criminals back
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has warned that Australia risks straining the trans-Tasman "special relationship" by deporting Kiwi-born criminals under tough new immigration rules.
Hundreds of New Zealanders are being held in migration centres awaiting deportation under new rules that say foreign nationals should be sent home if they have served a jail term of 12 months or more.
With some 650,000 New Zealanders living in Australia, there are concerns the numbers could rise steeply and that many people are being unfairly targeted.
The issue has been brought into focus by the suicide of Junior Togatuki, a 23-year old who had served time for armed robbery and assault, in an Australian prison this month.
Togatuki, who had mental health issues, moved to Australia when he was four and was awaiting deportation after completing a seven-year jail term when he killed himself.
Key said he was concerned about New Zealanders being sent to detention centres, including remote Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and had raised the issue with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
"I was pretty blunt and I said there's a special relationship between New Zealand and Australia and you challenge that relationship to a degree when you see New Zealanders being treated in this way," he told Radio New Zealand.
The reason so many New Zealanders live in Australia is that both countries offer each other automatic residency rights, with many Kiwis making the trip to take advantage of Australia's strong economy.
However, they remain New Zealand citizens even though Key said some of those being deported had no ties to the land of their birth.
"They've often spent their entire life in Australia and went over there when they were very, very young," he said.
"It's like the Australians are saying 'we're going to pick and choose, we'll keep the ones we like but send back the ones we don't like'.
"Well... you have to take the rough with the smooth."
The New Zealand Herald said in an editorial that it was Australia's right to pursue a draconian deportation policy but it made no sense applying it to people who had served sentences for relatively minor offences.
"Placing someone in that situation simply because they have been convicted of, say, shoplifting, smacks of overkill," it said.
2 October, 2015
Conservatives create Australia's first Indigenous government minister
How's that for racism? The Left have never done as much. But Wyatt is only indigenous according to the peculiar Hitlerite convention (enforced by Australia's Left) that "one drop" of indigenous blood makes you Aboriginal. You can see from the pic how black he is not -- JR
Ken Wyatt gave his inaugural speech to parliament in 2010 wrapped in a kangaroo skin coat that was given to him by elders of the Noongar people, the traditional occupants of south-west Western Australia.
The coat, Wyatt explained, was presented to him as a symbol of his heritage, and a reminder to take his culture and experiences with him in his new endeavour.
Wyatt made history in 2010 as the first Indigenous person elected to the House of Representatives. On Wednesday, he broke new ground again, becoming the first person with Indigenous heritage to be sworn in as a minister.
He will take on the assistant health portfolio, a role his 15-year career in public health has prepared him well for.
Heeding the advice of the Noongar elders, Wyatt has kept his culture close during this parliamentary career, fighting for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people, and for non-discrimination of all Australians.
But when it comes to public process on eradicating racism, Wyatt is pragmatic.
The Racial Discrimination act “hasn’t changed people’s attitudes towards who they discriminate against”, he said.
Despite public outcry over the watering down of the act, and the level of support AFL player Adam Goodes received after being booed by fans, there simply is not the appetite for adding racial non-discrimination clauses to the constitution, he argued.
“Australia’s not ready for that,” Wyatt told Guardian Australia.
Proposals to reform the constitution to recognise Australia’s first peoples kick-started the debate on whether the nation’s founding document should include broader non-discrimination clauses.
Those clauses are “highly unlikely to be supported”, said Wyatt, who headed a parliamentary committee into constitutional recognition. “That’s one that a tough decision has to be made.”
He said that adding anti-discrimination clauses to the constitution would act as a de facto bill of rights, and that the public had still not come to grips with that concept.
“If there was a common accord, say at the end of a decade, where we could put together a set of words that would be enshrined in a constitution, that would safeguard every person based on a non-discriminatory factor, then I don’t have an issue with that. But at the moment, we’ve not had the mature debate that’s needed,” the new assistant minister said.
Australia signs up to some dubious goals
You wouldn’t want to read the UN’s 69 "Sustainable Development Goals" Julie Bishop has just signed Australia up to and if you had, you would be white with rage.
I don’t want to scare you too much but one of the many “targets” Australia has just agreed to is to “... fully operationalise the Green Climate Fund through its capitalisation as soon as possible”.
Or how about this one? “To mobilise additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources to assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability through coordinated policies aimed at fostering debt financing, debt relief and debt restructuring, as appropriate, and address the external debt of highly indebted poor countries to reduce debt distress.” That’s gobbledegook for debt forgiveness if it’s big enough.
Gender equality gets a guernsey of course and there’s plenty about global warming, rising sea levels, our doomed Barrier Reef and drowning polar bears and there is a detailed between-the-lines explanation of how a universal carbon tax will finance all 69 objectives... but it has to be a universal Carbon tax. All countries must agree! Hmmm.
Turnbull faces 'war' over Senate reform
But it will happen. It is in the interests of both the Liberals and the ALP to get rid of the ratbag minority in the Senate -- JR
THE Turnbull government could face "war" in the Senate if it goes ahead with voting reform, crossbenchers warn.
IF the government can't get support from Labor or the Greens, it will need six out of eight crossbench votes to pass legislation through the Senate.
There are about $75 billion worth of proposed budget savings measures yet to pass parliament.
Special Minister of State Mal Brough, who took on responsibility for electoral reform in Monday's reshuffle, says one of his priorities will be to look at changing the way in which senators are elected.
In 2014, a bipartisan committee recommended voters be allowed to mark preferences above the line on Senate ballot papers or not to have to number all the boxes below the line.
This would stop micro-parties gaming the system through sophisticated preference-swap deals, which led to some crossbench senators being elected with less than one per cent of the primary vote.
"If this proceeds to legislation as implemented, it'll be war," Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm told ABC television on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his new team wanted to be "friends" with the crossbench, but voting reform was the best way to pick a fight.
Senator Leyonhjelm said he had understood the government was no longer interested in, and had no time to implement, voting reform prior to the next election.
Retaliatory action could include voting against government bills and being uncooperative on procedural matters.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon will offer Mr Brough his cooperation in changing the system.
Group voting tickets should be abolished and replaced with a minimum three or six preferences allocated above the line or a minimum of 12 preferences cast below the line on the Senate ballot paper. "That gets rid of the backroom deals," he said.
Palmer United Party founder Clive Palmer, who has one senator, said rigging the system would "destroy real democracy".
Give the AMA a bypass and privatise public hospitals
The Australian Medical Association’s pre-emptive political strike on the Medicare services review shows that some members of the medical profession believe only the doctor’s union should make health policy in this country.
Given the evident sense of entitlement, and the self-serving belief that no savings can be made from the health system, it beggars belief some are suggesting taxes should be raised principally to feed the beast that is Medicare.
Many budget experts are calling for a range of tax increases to close the fiscal gap between government revenue and expenditure. But before allowing the nation to be dragged over the cliff of higher tax and spend policies, we should stop, think and understand how acting on this advice would be the antithesis of true economic reform.
The major tax proposals on the table are a 50 per cent GST hike or a proportionate rise in income tax to pay for the rising cost of state health systems.
The problem in health is reckless spending, not a revenue shortfall. This is clearly demonstrated by the ever-increasing amount of taxpayer money absorbed by public hospitals. In 2003-04, combined federal, state and territory funding for public hospitals totalled $22 billion. By 2012-13, this had increased to almost $40bn, with real expenditure having grown at a rate much higher than inflation and economic growth.
Demand for hospital services is increasing in an ageing society, but there is little evidence that productivity improvements have enabled the community to receive more hospital care in return for additional funding. The 2013 Queensland Commission of Audit found that while expenditure on public hospitals in the state had increased by 43 per cent across the previous five years, activity had increased by less than half — just 17 per cent.
This is hardly surprising: public hospitals remain one of the few government utilities that have been untouched by the market-based reform agenda initiated under the Hawke-Keating government in the 1980s.
Like all cosseted public sector industries, public hospitals are inherently inefficient because they are insulated against private sector forces of competition and financial accountability that drives innovation and reduces costs in other sectors of the economy. Analysis by the Productivity Commission has suggested there is a 20 per cent cost difference between the least efficient and more efficient public hospitals, which represents a waste of many billions of dollars across the sector.
Yet this doesn’t mean better performing hospitals are truly efficient.
The sweetheart industrial deals struck between state governments and public sector health unions account for the high costs and inefficiency across the entire system. The centralised industrial agreements negotiated by state health departments fix rigid, statewide employment terms and conditions for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, and include expensive and outdated work practices that prevent the delivery of services more cost-effectively.
Health consumes one-quarter of total state government expenditure, and public hospitals account for about two-thirds of state health spending. The cost of clinical services represents about 70 per cent of total hospital budgets.
Higher taxes to underwrite inefficient public services is not economic reform. Tax rises to fund state health systems are also a stopgap because, if present growth in the cost of public hospital care continues, health will consume the entire budgets of the states and territories in coming decades.
What state governments should be doing is addressing the structural problems in their health systems by outsourcing the provision of public hospital care to more efficient private providers. For example, the West Australian government has outsourced the operation of the new Midlands public hospital to a private operator, which will save $1.3bn across the life of the $5bn contract compared with the estimated cost of the state running the hospital.
Public hospital reform needs to become a national policy priority just as reform of the energy sector, the telecommunications industry, and ports were in earlier times. Privatisation maybe a dirty word in health, but the alternative is bankrupt state governments.
The best thing the Turnbull government can do is to use the review of federalism and mooted changes to federal financial relations to drive health reform.
Ending all specific purpose payments for health, and instead giving the states one pot of money to fund all responsibilities, would encourage state governments to make more rational decisions about how best to use scarce public resources amid competing priorities — including the operation of public hospitals.
A federalism reform package of this kind would prepare the way for return of income tax powers to the states. State governments that fail to reform their health systems should be made accountable to the voters who are forced to hand over a higher proportion of their incomes to prop up inefficient public hospitals.
1 October, 2015
State denies duty of care to injured police
This appalling story is from over a year ago but I can find no advance on it since then. Is the state using the costs of legal proceedings as a roadblock to proper consideration of these claims? Will the new ALP government go along with this sliminess? -- JR
The state government and Victoria Police are using an arcane legal technicality to block seriously injured police officers from suing the force for compensation, claiming they owe no duty of care to members hurt in the line of duty.
The use of the contentious tactic comes as Victoria Police are fighting at least three lawsuits from former officers who allege they received permanent physical and psychological injuries on the job.
In a bid to avoid a payout, the government is claiming that police officers are not technically employees of the state but "public officers" conducting "independent duties", absolving the government of civil liability for their injuries.
The defence has been filed in a lawsuit brought by former mounted police officer Justin Boyer, who alleges he sustained severe psychological trauma at the hands of fellow officers after he reported allegations of corruption to authorities.
The government’s argument is based on an interpretation of the wording of a police oath written more than 56 years ago which sees Victorian officers sworn into service of "our Sovereign Lady the Queen".
"[The government] denies that [Mr Boyer] was employed by [the government], and says further that at all material times [Mr Boyer] was executing independent duties cast upon him by reason of his oath taken under the Police Regulation Act 1958," the defence filed in the Supreme Court says. "[The government] denies that it owed a duty of care to [Mr Boyer]."
Police Minister Kim Wells and Chief Commissioner Ken Lay have refused to comment on whether they personally authorised the defence used by the external law firm hired to represent the government because the matter is currently before the court.
A source said the government has used the defence in the past in a bid to block civil claims despite police officers being apparently recognised as employees in some industrial relations legislation and by WorkSafe.
But Giuseppe Carabetta, senior lecturer at the University of Sydney Business School, said the government’s defence could be difficult to refute because police have long been recognised in law as “office-holders” rather than employees.
“Essentially the Crown is denying that the plaintiff is an employee in the strict common law sense. As the law currently stands, the Crown will, in my view, succeed,” he said.
The decision to fight the claim also comes despite the government acknowledging Mr Boyer had received a "serious injury certificate" early last year.
Mr Boyer claims to suffer from a knee injury and severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after being subjected to a campaign of "harassment, discrimination, vilification, intimidation and bullying" by fellow officers for reporting allegations of misconduct and corruption. He is seeking more than $250,000 in damages.
The government has denied the allegations but also claimed that Mr Boyer could be "guilty of contributory negligence" for failing to report to superiors that he was allegedly being victimised.
The Police Association has declined to comment on the government’s defence because the case involves a former officer making claims that include other members of the force.
Man bashing feminists answered over domestic violence
Miranda Devine replies to the hate-filled sisters
It is a marvellous irony that the domestic violence activists who have spent the week abusing and misrepresenting me claim to be champions of “respect” for women.
My sin was to point out the incontrovertible truth about domestic violence, that it is overwhelmingly concentrated in dysfunctional remote indigenous communities and public housing estates.
The response from femi-fascists was to try to get me sacked, silenced and banned from twitter.
They called for my “sterilisation”, branded me a “murder apologist”, a “troll”, a “sicko”, an ”idiot”, “a bimbo”, “a vile creature dangerous to kids”, “nasty and vicious”, “stupid”, “a disgrace”, “rabid old hatemonger”, “a typical Australian”.
“Your victim blaming has done almost as much harm to victims of Domestic Violence as the abusers,” read one email.
Yes, the faux-rage meter was at full tilt.
But I value these intemperate expressions, because they provide evidence of a concerted attempt to cover up the truth.
Domestic violence is the last frontier of feminism. You might think women had already achieved equality in the traditional markers of status in our society, most obviously in higher education, where 60 per cent of university graduates last year were female.
But for feminism to remain relevant, it needs to extend victim status even to the most affluent, pampered women of the chattering classes.
Thus the feminist dogma about domestic violence is that all women are equally at risk and all men potential perpetrators.
In the words of Natasha Stott Despoja, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, and the Chair of domestic violence lobbying organisation Our Watch: “Violence against women does not discriminate, regardless of ethnicity, social status and geography.”
Only, actually, it does.
This is what I pointed out in the column that has enraged the sisterhood, that domestic violence is concentrated in communities where the underclass lives, where welfare dependency has emasculated men, where drug and alcohol abuse is rife, and intergenerational social disadvantage is entrenched.
I cited the latest data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, showing the rate of domestic violence in Bourke, with its large indigenous population 60 times higher than in affluent north shore Sydney suburbs. The housing estate welfare traps concentrated in Campbelltown and Penrith are similar hotspots.
The evidence is everywhere if you care to look, that poverty, intergenerational dysfunction, mental illness and substance abuse are preconditions for a domestic violence hotspot, with chronic underreporting in indigenous communities hiding the level of distress.
Take the NSW Coroner’s Court’s annual reports of the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team which invariably involve welfare dependent couples in and out of jail, with “cumulative social issues in both cases”.
The cases are marked by “serious social disadvantage including in many cases poverty, substance abuse issues, violent coping mechanisms, intergenerational violence”.
Or take the 2011 BOSCAR report Personal stress, financial stress and violence against women which shows “risk of violence increases progressively with the level of financial stress (and) personal stress”.
For pointing out these inconvenient truths, I was accused of “blaming victims”.
Fake quotes attributed to me, such as: “Rich men don’t hit women.”
The classic modus operandi of feminist outrage sites such as MamaMia is to make up a line, pretend I said it and then attack me for (not) saying it.
This is the intolerance of the femi-fascist. They ignore BOSCAR statistics but trumpet every half-baked internet survey which makes a ludicrous claims such as that a quarter of young Australian men don’t think there’s anything wrong with beating women.
When the Our Watch group, which receives $8 million of federal funding each year to “change attitudes”, wrote a rebuttal to my column this week, it airily claimed that “the latest international evidence shows that factors such as low socio-economic status or harmful use of alcohol do not have a constant or predictable impact on levels of violence against women”.
Yet, when challenged to provide this evidence, Our Watch cited a UN report on domestic violence in other Asia-Pacific countries such as Indonesia, PNG and Bangladesh. When further challenged to provide research from comparable countries to Australia, Our Watch cited a European study which contains Australian criticism of “the lack of attention to social class and to working class community norms and pressures” in domestic violence cases; it also cited a study which found that lower socioeconomic status was more frequent among men enrolled in “batterers’ programs”.
Campaigns such as Destroy the Joint’s Counting Women project insist on making domestic violence a gender issue. It claims 66 women are victims this year, with the implication these are all “intimate partner” homicides, perpetrated by males.
In fact, only about half of the homicides cited could be classified as having a male partner or ex-partner identified as the killer.
Some of the 66 victims were killed by women, by sisters, daughters, a female neighbour or, in one case, a female ex-lover of the victim’s husband, as well as by brothers, fathers, and sons.
Domestic violence is a serious enough without exaggerating.
The activists cherrypick facts to support their dogma, rather than using statistics to better target scarce resources to help the most vulnerable victims, and to address the root causes of domestic violence.
To break the intergenerational cycle of violence, I wrote that we need to “end the welfare incentive for unsuitable women to keep having children to a string of feckless men”. This was twisted to claim that I had called victims of domestic violence “unsuitable women”.
The dishonesty is clear. The aim is to avoid the obvious, that boys brought up in an environment of chaos, dysfunction and violence, who are neglected and abused, are more likely to become abusive, violent men with poor impulse control.
But these are not facts the man-bashing femi-fascists who control the domestic violence industry want to hear.
Malcolm Turnbull Calls Summit on Reforms
Worth a try, I guess
New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called a snap summit with unions and business leaders in an attempt to break an impasse over reforms that is adding to worries of a recession in Australia’s faltering economy.
Mr. Turnbull, a millionaire former businessman who ousted Tony Abbott in a party coup two weeks ago, said he had called the Thursday summit to canvass ideas from businesses, unions and the broader community. His conservative government is trying to build a consensus on policies sought by business but viewed with unease by voters.
“Our Government is focused on the opportunities arising from technological disruption and in creating an environment for strong, innovative industries to grow,” Mr. Turnbull said in comments emailed to The Wall Street Journal. “I want to…work towards a practical set of reforms that will help to create jobs, drive innovation and stimulate growth.”
Mr. Turnbull persuaded colleagues to oust Mr. Abbott as leader of the ruling conservative Liberal Party, and therefore as prime minister, because of his inability to turn around polls pointing to defeat for the conservative Liberal-National coalition government in elections next year. He hammered Mr. Abbott’s inability to persuade voters to accept changes in labor laws and taxation, as well as cuts to social spending to help the deteriorating budget return to surplus.
The Thursday summit, Mr. Turnbull said, would cap a rare opportunity to achieve consensus on the most pressing economic and social reform issues facing Australia, including a 1.6 trillion Australian dollar (US$1.12 trillion) economy still adjusting to the end of a mining boom three years ago that for a decade helped the country avoid financial downturn.
But a collapse in iron ore and coal prices as a well as a slowdown in China, the country’s biggest trade partner, has exposed vulnerabilities in the economy that some economists fear could usher in the first recession in a quarter century next year.
Falling foreign currency earnings are driving up debt and government borrowing. The economy expanded by an anemic 0.2% last quarter, well below the decade average of 2.8% a year. Unemployment is also relatively high at 6.2%, while real domestic income has fallen by 0.2% over the past year.
Business groups want Mr. Turnbull to pursue reforms that could help spur employment, including reducing the country’s tax rate of 30% for larger companies and more flexible employment laws. The government is also being urged to consider expanding the 10% consumption tax to help a budget ravaged by falling revenue, and to close loopholes in taxation of the country’s A$1.6 trillion pension system.
“Australia is a prosperous country with high wages, a high standard of living and a generous social welfare safety net. To secure and enhance our prosperity we must be more productive, competitive and innovative,” Mr. Turnbull said Tuesday.
Mr. Abbott, in his first interview since the dramatic ouster that gave Australia its fifth leader in as many years, said Tuesday that the country also needed to address political instability and “revolving door prime ministership”—something that has also dented business and consumer confidence, as well as helped deter business investment amid uncertainty over the future of the government.
“We’ve had five prime ministers in five years; that’s bad, that puts us in the league of Italy and Greece. In fact, we’re worse than Italy and just better than Greece,” Mr. Abbott told Sydney radio station 2GB, arguing Mr. Turnbull had adopted most of the same policies he had.
Stephen Walters, an economist at J.P. Morgan, said that while some economists now estimated the risk of recession in Australia at as high as 30%, the country was still likely to avoid it as most recessions were triggered by domestic policy errors rather than international troubles.
The consensus among most economists, he said, was for 2.7% growth in 2016, better than the expected 2.3% full-year outcome for this year. The government will deliver a midyear budget update in December.
“It’s difficult to make the arithmetic of recession stack up when we currently are exporting record volumes of commodities,” Mr. Walters said in a research note. “Maybe we are the lucky country, after all.”
Story below from the far-Left New Matilda, which is a bit surprising. The Left normally hate nukes. Rob Parker, president of the Australian Nuclear Association is however invoking global warming and anti-capitalism so I guess that's how you sell nukes to the Left. Reason is pointless. You've just got to push their buttons -- JR
My concern about climate change was ignited in 2005 when climate change awareness was growing and people were angry. We had a general revulsion against consumerism and rampant consumption. Corporate greed and ineffectual politicians were the enemies of the people and the environment and renewable energy solutions were thought to restore some level of control over our lives and return us to living in harmony with nature.
A wave of behavioural doctrines and solutions spread through the climate change movement. I researched alternative energy solutions and found that rarely was any analysis done to justify their adoption. At times perverse outcomes have resulted.
A notable example is that of biofuels, where markets have determined that more money can be made by displacing food production or by destroying tropical habitats, especially of the Orangutan.
But regardless of the evident failure of “renewables” to make any real dent in our greenhouse gas emissions, the ‘back to nature’ movement would brook no opposition. For some, science and technology were seen as a part of this attack on our environment, and so, conceptually straightforward technologies harvesting nature’s free energy became the vogue.
Typically we saw the large scale adoption of de-centralised power systems, such as roof top solar. The intermittency of these systems - which entrench the use of emissions intensive gas turbines - was and remains an inconvenient truth.
We will only get one chance to refashion our economy around low carbon technologies, and people need to be held accountable for their opposition especially when it has no analytical basis.
Typically terms such as "sustainability" are frequently used without any reference to careful life cycle analysis that really should be carried out to justify their validity.
As James Hansen has recently observed:
“People who entreat the government to solve global warming but only offer support for renewable energies will be rewarded with the certainty that the US and most of the world will be fracked-over, coal mining will continue, the Arctic, Amazon and other pristine public lands will be violated, and the deepest oceans will be ploughed for fossil fuels.
Politicians are not going to let the lights go out or stop economic growth. Don’t blame Obama or other politicians. If we give them no viable option, we will be fracked and mined to death, and have no one to blame but ourselves.”
I detect similarities in science denial between the anti-nuclear power brigade and the climate change sceptics.
Again as James Hansen points out “There is no reciprocity from the supporters of renewable energy” with their preferred option being fossil fuel backup of renewable energy. “In other words replace carbon free nuclear power with a dual system, renewables plus gas. With this approach CO2 emissions will increase and it is certain that fracking will continue and expand into larger regions.”
The case I am making is for a clean, low carbon industrial future being in harmony with and nurturing nature. And I recommend reading the "Ecomodernism" thoughts of the Breakthrough Institute at for it is nature in the wondrous cosmic events such as the implosion of giant stars that gave our planet those elements essential to life, such as iron, chromium, molybdenum or cadmium.
These were created when stars in their final death throes fashioned and expelled these elements, along with uranium and thorium, into the cosmos. By a massive fluke, these then aggregate into structures such as the Earth to enable life to flourish.
Mankind’s creativity can harness these elements from the magic furnace of the cosmos and use them to protect rather than assault our environment.
My desire is to stop the industrialisation of our landscapes and to never entertain the massive and "unsustainable" network of towers and transmission lines that typify wind farms and solar plants.
In an increasingly stressed landscape I wish to see nuclear-powered desalinated seawater pumped inland so that we can remove many of the dams currently choking our increasingly climate stressed rivers.
As an engineer, I became concerned that harvesting wind and solar power could not provide the amount of energy required to refashion our industrial economy around low carbon technologies. Nor could they do it in the time frame or within the carbon budgets that are required.
We know the targets. We’ve been told often enough that a stabilisation target of 450ppm carbon dioxide equivalent gives about a 50 per cent chance of limiting global mean temperature increases to 2 degrees. This means Australia would need to reduce its annual emissions by 90 per cent by 2050, which means that our electricity must be generated with emissions less than 90 grams per kilowatt hour.
Importantly, we need to drive carbon out of our electricity generation. It’s no good claiming that we need to de-industrialise or have large cut backs on consumption. The scale of the industrial transition required to achieve a low carbon economy will dwarf our current production.
Meaningful reductions will, for example, result in the use of hydrogen or molten electrolysis to replace coal in the smelting of steel with the result that carbon dioxide emissions are eliminated.
Likewise aluminium, known as “canned electricity” has to be smelted using massive amounts of reliable, clean, low carbon electricity. Our heavy road transport needs to move to electrified rail and our light car fleet converted to electricity.
It’s obvious that we have not even started the process of real carbon reductions and all this needs to be done with speed and with massive energy density.
We will only get one go at transforming our energy base and any system that is unproven or has massive redundancy and does not stand up to analytical rigor must be excluded. No nation has yet made any significant greenhouse gas reductions using wind or solar power, and certainly not with expensive storage systems.
France and Sweden are two standout examples whose nuclear powered electricity generation meets the levels required by 2050. This has resulted in electricity being generated with carbon emissions of 71 and 22 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour versus our 992.
France achieved their transition in 22 years with almost double Australia’s generating capacity. The contrasts of two neighbours in Germany and France could not be more stark - refer to Figure 3 and Figure 4 with France producing electricity with about one tenth of Germany's emissions.
Germany has gone down a failed intermittent renewables route, and the risks to Australia if we follow this route as shown in Figure 5 are obvious.
We have on this planet enough uranium to power the globe for tens of thousands of years. Nuclear power stations utilise materials some 20 times more efficiently than wind or solar power and in nations that embrace the technology. 1200 megawatt reactors are now built in around 4 years.
Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.
Most academics are lockstep Leftists so readers do sometimes doubt that I have the qualifications mentioned above. Photocopies of my academic and military certificates are however all viewable here
For overseas readers: The "ALP" is the Australian Labor Party -- Australia's major Leftist party. The "Liberal" party is Australia's major conservative political party.
In most Australian States there are two conservative political parties, the city-based Liberal party and the rural-based National party. But in Queensland those two parties are amalgamated as the LNP.
Again for overseas readers: Like the USA, Germany and India, Australia has State governments as well as the Federal government. So it may be useful to know the usual abbreviations for the Australian States: QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), WA (Western Australia), VIC (Victoria), TAS (Tasmania), SA (South Australia).
For American readers: A "pensioner" is a retired person living on Social Security
"Digger" is an honorific term for an Australian soldier
Another lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here
Two of my ancestors were convicts so my family has been in Australia for a long time. As well as that, all four of my grandparents were born in the State where I was born and still live: Queensland. And I am even a member of the world's second-most condemned minority: WASPs (the most condemned is of course the Jews -- which may be why I tend to like Jews). So I think I am as Australian as you can get. I certainly feel that way. I like all things that are iconically Australian: meat pies, Vegemite, Henry Lawson etc. I particularly pride myself on my familiarity with the great Australian slanguage. I draw the line at Iced Vo-Vos and betting on the neddies, however. So if I cannot comment insightfully on Australian affairs, who could?
My son Joe
On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.
I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.
I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!
I am an army man. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.
The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"
UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.
Although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak.
The Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland) is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".
A delightful story about a great Australian conservative
Bureaucracy: "One of the constant laments of doctors and nurses working with NSW Health is the incredible and increasing bureaucracy," she said. "It is completely obstructive to providing a service."
Revered Labour Party leader Gough Whitlam was a very erudite man so he cannot have been unaware of the similarities of his famous phrase “the Party, the platform, the people” with an earlier slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer". It's basically the same slogan in reverse order.
Australia's original inhabitants were a race of pygmies, some of whom survived into modern times in the mountainous regions of the Atherton tableland in far North Queensland. See also here. Below is a picture of one of them taken in 2007, when she was 105 years old and 3'7" tall
Julia Gillard, a failed feminist flop. She was given the job of Prime Minister of Australia but her feminist preaching was so unpopular that she was booted out of the job by her own Leftist party. Her signature "achievements" were the carbon tax and the mining tax, both of which were repealed by the next government.
The "White Australia Policy: "The Immigration Restriction Act was not about white supremacy, racism, or the belief that whites were higher up the evolutionary tree than the coloured races. Rather, it was designed to STOP the racist exploitation of non-whites (all of whom would have been illiterate peasants practicing religions and cultures anathema to progressive democracy) being conscripted into a life of semi-slavery in a coolie-worked plantation economy for the benefit of the absolute monarchs, hereditary aristocracy and the super-wealthy companies and share-holders of the northern hemisphere.
A great little kid
In November 2007, a four-year-old boy was found playing in a croc-infested Territory creek after sneaking off pig hunting alone with four dogs and a puppy. The toddler was found five-and-a-half hours after he set off from his parents' house playing in a creek with the puppy. Amazingly, Daniel Woditj also swam two creeks known to be inhabited by crocs during his adventurous romp. Mr Knight said that after walking for several kilometres, Daniel came to a creek and swam across it. Four of his dogs "bailed up" at the creek but the youngster continued on undaunted with his puppy to a second creek. Mr Knight said Daniel swam the second croc-infested creek and walked on for several more kilometres. "Captain is a hard bushman and Daniel is following in his footsteps. They breed them tough out bush."
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To be continued ....
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OF INTEREST (2)
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AGL -- A bumbling monster
Bank of Queensland blues
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