Friday, February 12, 2016

Feminist aggression

One of my Australian correspondents who works as a counsellor shares the following experience

Over many years of working amongst severe feminists I have occasionally had false accusations or insinuations made of me, and seen other men accused too, some having their careers ruined.

Most accusations occur after a disagreement or having to correct or reprimand a feminist, to which her common response is to falsely claim she was physically intimidated or threated. Men prefer to be corrected privately, and so do sensible women, and I always do that, but I have learnt to always correct feminists and hung-up women in front of sensible women. Of course then the feminist complains she is being humiliated in front of others, but that's better than me being accused of threatening violence.

The most comical incident was once when reaching out to a clock-on-card and a nurse beside me leapt in front of me and ran her neck straight into my extended arm, pushing her throat into the crook of my elbow and instantly grabbing my arm and wrapping it around her neck as if she was being choked. She even made choking noises. I freed my arm and stepped back.

She pretended to stagger a bit, clutched her throat and gave me a filthy look as if I had just tried to kill her. Then just as suddenly she straightened up and strutted off down the corridor doing her best assertive feminist walk and went off to work her shift. I never heard anything further about the incident, and although I recorded it for my own record, I did not report it. It was as if an irresistible impulse had momentarily overcome her.

Needless to say I was very careful around her after that. As an amusing follow up, a year or two later I was coming out of an Art Gallery having just seen a historical military display.   She was standing outside looking very uptight and sour indeed. I said hello and asked her if she was here to see the display. With a sneer she said her husband was viewing the display, then with an air of snotty superiority added that she was "not into violence".   

Via email

Activists push taxpayer-funded homosexual manual in schools

Eleven-year-old children are being taught about sexual orientation and transgender issues at school in a taxpayer-funded program written by gay activists.

The Safe Schools Coalition teaching manual says that asking parents if their baby is a boy or a girl reinforces a "heteronormative world view".

Religious groups yesterday criticised the "age-inappropriate" manual, which suggests that sexuality be raised in every subject area. "Whatever the subject, try to work out ways to integrate gender diversity and sexual diversity across your curriculum," the manual says.

The All of Us teaching manual, designed for Years 7 and 8, says that children often realise they are lesbian, gay or bisexual between the ages of 11 and 14, while the -average age for "coming out" is 16.

A lesson plan on "bisexual -experiences" requires students to imagine they live in a world "where having teeth is considered really unpleasant". Students take turns telling a classmate about their weekend, without showing their teeth.

"How did it feel to have to hide part of yourself?" the students are asked. "Do you think that some lesbian, gay or bisexual young people feel that they need to hide part of themselves? How might this make them feel?"

Children are shown short films about the personal stories of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

In a lesson on same-sex attraction, students as young as 11 are told to imagine they are 16-year-olds who are "going out with someone they are really into". The class is divided into students pretending to be going out with someone of the same sex, and classmates pretending to like someone of the opposite sex.

The children have to answer 10 questions, including whether they could "easily talk to your parents about your sexuality", and to name four famous Australians of the same sexuality.

The teacher then instructs the children to stand, and slowly counts backwards from 10. Each child can sit down when the number called out by the teacher corresponds with the number of times they answered "yes" in the quiz - meaning that a student who answers "no" could be left standing in front of the class.

The Safe Schools manual -appears to reach beyond promoting tolerance, to advocating activism by students. It tells students to defy teachers who refuse to let them put up LGBTI posters.

"If you can, it's a good idea to get permission to put your posters up, so you avoid getting in -trouble," the manual says. "If your school or teachers say no, ask for reasons and see if they make sense. If they don't seem reasonable, you may have to be creative about where you place them."

Safe Schools also advises -students to "use your assignments to start conversations".

"For example, some students have chosen to do their English oral presentations on equal marriage rights or their music or art assignments on how artists express their sexuality, gender or intersex status through their work," it says.

The Safe Schools Coalition suggests that schools paint a rainbow crossing, provide unisex toilets and hand out stickers to supportive teachers.

The federal government has provided $8 million in funding for the program, which has won support from the Australian Secondary Principals Association, beyondblue, headspace and the Australian Education Union. The Victorian government will require all state schools to join the Safe Schools network by 2018, but the program is voluntary in other states and territories.

So far 490 primary and high schools nationally have signed up, although the list of 24 schools in Queensland is secret.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Safe Schools program was an "opt-in" for schools and run at arm's length from government.

"Homophobia should be no more tolerated than racism, especially in the school environment," Senator Birmingham said. "The resource is intended to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school."

A La Trobe University study of more than 3000 same-sex-attracted young people in 2010 found that 75 per cent had experienced some form of homophobic bullying or abuse - with 80 per cent of those occurring at school.

Australian Christian Lobby spokeswoman Wendy Francis said the Safe Schools material pressured kids into accepting LGBTI concepts and "confuses them about their own identity".

She said forcing students to imagine themselves in a same-sex relationship was a "form of cultural bullying".

Ms Francis said the material was not age-appropriate, as 11-year-old children were too young to be taught about sexual orientation and transgender issues. "A lot of children are still pretty innocent about this stuff - these are adult concepts," she said.

Ms Francis agreed that bullying against LGBTI students "absolutely has to be stopped".

"Every child should be safe at school," she said.

Safe Schools Coalition national director Sally Richardson said students at safe and supportive schools did better academically and were less likely to suffer poor mental health. "Our resources are designed to provide teachers with tools to help them have conversations with students around inclusion and diversity in the community," Ms Richardson said. "We provide schools with practical ways to foster a positive school culture where students, staff and families of all sexualities and gender identities feel safe, included and valued."

Ms Richardson said all the Safe Schools materials - including the All of Us teaching guide - were used at the discretion of individual schools.

The principal of Scotch College in Adelaide, John Newton, said his students had "embraced" the Safe Schools message of support and tolerance. But he did not approve of the lesson plan that required children to imagine themselves in a same-sex relationship.  "That wouldn't be a method we'd use," Dr Newton said.

"It feels like a ham-fisted attempt to change a culture.

"Our children are well ahead of the issue and happy to talk about it - they seem to have a very mature approach."

Safe Schools is also used in Shenton College, an independent public school in Perth. "We strive to be a welcoming, progressive and inclusive public school," said principal Christopher Hill.

"We can't turn away from the fact that schools need to deal with these sorts of issues."

The Safe Schools guide cites statistics that 10 per cent of people are same-sex attracted, 1.7 per cent are intersex - born with both male and female features - and 4 per cent are transgender.


NOTE:  The statistics above are, as usual, greatly exaggerated. Research conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University in 2003, has shown that of the 20,000 people surveyed, about 1.2% of adults identify as homosexual (gay or lesbian).  Among men, 1.6% identify as homosexual, and among women, 0.8% identify as lesbian, while 1.4% of women and 0.9% of men identify as bisexual

Mothers Speaking Out

As our culture continues to spiral down the septic tank, eventually that produces a backlash. After a while decent people have had enough, and start to stand against the sleaze, degradation and corruption of our culture. And when our children are especially being targeted and abused by the sexual libertines and social revolutionaries, then the reaction really starts to kick in.

There have always been concerned parents who have resisted the moral decay and radical agendas of the coercive utopians, but as things get worse, more voices begin to be heard. In the past day or two I have found three cases of incensed Australian mothers speaking out, declaring `enough is enough'.

All three mums have had a gutful of the sexualisation of their kids, and want no more of it. All three have fearlessly and resolutely spoken out against this evil, and have gotten media attention for doing so. So let me focus on each of these three brave women, and hold them up as examples for you to emulate.

The first is a Melbourne mother who is sick of pro-homosexual and gender-bending propaganda being rammed down the throats of her children. One article on this opens as follows:

    "A website promoted by the Safe Schools Coalition is teaching students how to bind their breasts and "tuck in" male genitalia. The Minus 18 website, which is partially funded by the state government, gives step-by-step instructions on how to deal with "chest dysphoria" and includes seven different binding methods.
    Mother of four Cella White withdrew her children from Frankston High over concerns about the Safe Schools Coalition program about transgender awareness. Ms White also expressed concerns about the website. "You are either born a boy or girl, I believe in mother nature, I want my kids to value their body, the breast binding is a real issue, we should be teaching kids to love themselves," she said..

    The government-funded program by the Safe Schools Coalition is designed to promote inclusiveness for `same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse' students, but critics say it is indoctrinating children in sexual identity politics under the pretence of a bullying program.

    "It was announced in science class that boys could wear school dresses next year," Ms White said. "They're telling my children to call transgender children by their requested pronoun. What is the benefit to my son? He's got a learning disability, he's struggling with his times tables, he doesn't need to deal with this."

    The mother of four was particularly concerned about any changes in bathroom policy that could see her daughter sharing a bathroom with a gender diverse student. "It could be a year 12 student of the opposite-born sex in the bathroom with my year 7 daughter who is blind," Ms White said. "This isn't about safe schools, it's transgenderism and gay activism bought into the classroom. I know other parents who are not happy.".

    Ms White, who has complained to the education department and Safe Schools Coalition, said she is not religious but is coming forward to make other parents aware of "what their children are being taught. It's being presented as an anti-bullying program but the education department said it's a sexual diversity program," she said. "Apart from this I love the school, I'm in mourning, I went there, my siblings went there, I told everyone how good they were."

Another mother of four, this time from Perth, has also been battling this pernicious material for some time now. She was recently interviewed by the Australian but her comments did not make it into the newspaper article, so I asked Emily McKenna what she told the reporter. This is the gist of what she had said:

    "With progressive minded parents in our school advocating for the "Safe School Coalition" and my four-year-old starting kindy with two children from two separate same-sex lesbian households, I knew that it would be a matter of time before my children would be bullied for our family's traditional marriage views.

    The Safe Schools Coalition is being presented here in Western Australia by the AIDS Council. That information alone is alarming let alone the details taught in the "All of Us" booklet convincing children to force their bodies to stop growing as intended by nature.

    Sharyn O'Neil, Director General at WA Education Department initially assured many prominent leaders here that the SSC would not go ahead in WA, however these minority groups don't like no for an answer and in October 2015 the classroom diversity plan was rolled out into 7 senior schools and one primary school. This was a matter of three months after I had met with her about politicising our children in the classroom with relation to the climate change agenda. She assured me personally that it wouldn't happen again.

    After looking into our options as Christian parents, we have decided that our children's future education would be best taught and overseen by us at home. We want our children to get back to learning their ABC's and 123's, and not be indoctrinated in all the latest politically correct sexuality!"

Finally, a Queensland mother has gotten up in arms of the sexualisation of children as well. As a news item reports:

    "Nikita Friedman was so angered by what she believed was inappropriate clothing being sold for young girls by Big W she took to social media to voice her outrage. "Why on earth does my 1-year-old need to have shorts so short that her nappy is hanging out? Little girls are not sex objects. Gender bias is disgusting," the Queensland mum wrote on the retail giant's Facebook page. "I couldn't find a single pair of shorts in the girl's section today with an inseam of more than a couple of centimetres. Where is the variety and choice for parents looking to teach their children about sun safety and self respect? Not at Big W this month, that's for sure!"

    She also posted a photo comparing size one shorts for girls and boys, demonstrating the clear difference in length.

    The post, which now appears to have been removed, received over 60,000 likes and 4,700 comments. Friedman edited her initial post to add that she believed it was important to let retailers know when customers are dissatisfied.

    "The simple fact is that numbers talk and maybe seeing 1600 parents agree with my post after only 5 hours might make Big W stand up and listen for once to what parents want,' she wrote just five hours after she published the popular post," she wrote. The post attracted a lot of debate about whether the length of the shorts for boys and girls is an issue. Many parents jumped to support Friedman in the comments, with some congratulating her for taking a stand."

I am so glad that mothers are speaking out like this. They certainly should be. It is time to take a stand against all this sleaze, and the targeting of our children. We need many more concerned citizens to be raising their voices like this. If enough people speak out, things may begin to change.

Oh, and just one last question: when are we going to hear some fathers speaking out? Where are all the men? We need them to be a voice for our children as well.


CSIRO boss Larry Marshall sorry for saying politics of climate more like religion than science

Looks like he let his real opinion slip out

  CSIRO chief Larry Marshall has apologised for describing the emotion of the climate debate as almost "more religion than science".

 Dr Marshall had told the ABC  the backlash from his decision to restructure the organisation made him feel like an "early climate scientist in the '70s fighting against the oil lobby"  and that there was so much emotion in the debate it almost "sounded more like religion than science".

He also said he would not be backing down on his controversial shakeup of the organisation's climate divisions, telling the ABC he was yet to be persuaded.At Senate estimates this afternoon he backed away from those comments.

"I'd like to apologise for any offence I may have caused to anyone with respect to my reference to religion," Dr Marshall said. "I was merely referring to the passionate zeal around this issue, not any other reference, and I deeply apologise." 

The redirection of climate science priorities at the CSIRO has drawn international condemnation, with thousands of climate scientists signing an open letter protesting against the changes.

 The Oceans and Atmosphere division is expected to be one of the hardest hit, with 60 positions to go through a mix of redeployment and redundancies.All up, 350 jobs will "change" - a plan that has drawn the ire of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change co-chair and even the World Meteorological Organisation which has made an unprecedented statement condemning the decision.

During the Senate estimates hearing Dr Marshall was quizzed about the backlash and was asked if he thought the international scientists were wrong."We're not saying that modelling and measurement are not important.

We're saying that modelling and measuring isn't more important than mitigation and we've chosen to shift our emphasis to mitigation," he said.


Sexist Labor party female gets a good reply

The spectre of the gender wars has been invoked in Senate estimates this morning after a line of questioning by new Labor senator Katy Gallagher resulted in a spat between her and government minister Mitch Fifield in which she accused him of "mansplaining".

Senator Gallagher was asking about the status of social security legislation the day after Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister and whether there was any change to the introduction of bills, with Senator Fifield explaining that these were matters for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The argument went on, with Senator Gallagher rephrasing the question a number of times.

"Thanks for the mansplaining," she said toward the end of the first session of Community Affairs estimates.

"Imagine if I said you were womansplaining," Senator Fifield said, before adding she was being "sexist".

Senator Gallagher said his answers had been "patronising and condescending".

"I thought we were having a good-hearted exchange, I just find it extraordinary that you or any senator at this table would seek to invoke gender in impugning how a senator is responding," Senator Fifield said.  "Let the record show that Senator Gallagher thinks it is appropriate to refer to a senator as mansplaining.

"I am appalled, quite frankly. I am not endeavouring here to give a cabinet handbook description of the legislative process. Take a good look at yourself.

"If I said to a female senator you are womansplaining, stop being a hypocrite, conduct yourself appropriately for this place.  Hypocrisy, thy name is Labor."

Senator Gallagher responded: "I think you need to settle down, really."

"Welcome to federal parliament," Senator Fifield said.

Senator Gallagher, incensed, said: "Oh, where the big people play? I'm not the one having a breakdown."

The session was called to order and the senators moved on to more sedate questions


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Islamic State: Charges dropped against Australian man Jamie Reece Williams, who planned to join Kurdish militia

The case against Melbourne man Jamie Reece Williams, charged in 2015 with attempting to travel to northern Iraq to fight with Kurdish forces against Islamic State (IS) militants, has been dropped.

The decision to discontinue the prosecution was made by Federal Attorney-General George Brandis.

The move could have ramifications for Australians who have fought against IS, returned to Australia, but are still under investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Mr Williams, of Epping, in Melbourne's northern suburbs, was charged in July last year after being detained at Melbourne Airport in 2014 as he attempted to board a flight to the Middle East.

When asked what he was travelling for, Mr Williams told authorities he was going to fight with a Kurdish militia called the YPG, and planned to travel first to the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah.

Late last year Mr Williams' lawyers applied to have the case against their client discontinued by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP), arguing that the prosecution was not in the public interest because the Kurds are an ally of the coalition fighting against IS.

They also said the YPG was in fact the effective government of parts of northern Syria.

Under the foreign fighters legislation, which Mr Williams was charged under, anyone who fought with or planned to fight with the armed forces of a government was exempt from prosecution.

Mr Williams' lawyer Jessie Smith argued that the YPG and its political wing exerted "effective control" over parts of Syria, and therefore constituted a government under the act.

It is not clear on what grounds the CDPP has decided to discontinue the prosecution.


Have and have-not neighbours baffled by NBN

Coulson Street in the inner-­Sydney suburb of Erskineville marks a vast technological divide.

On one side, Loretta Tolnay Bolton and her sons, seven-year-old Miguel and five-year-old Valentino, experience frustration when they log on to surf the web. "Most of the time, all three of us are on our respective devices and it’s all really slow," she says.

And when they attempted to connect to the National Broadband Network, its website informed them the "NBN network rollout has not started in your area".

Not strictly true. Two hundred metres down and across the road, Jeff Lock has just been told he can connect to what has long been touted as Australia’s information super highway. "I use the internet a lot, so to have the best speed will be great," he said. "It’ll make life easier, especially watching movies or downloading ­material, documentaries and things."

The difference between super-fast broadband and ADSL can be infuriating. Miguel and Valentino are both regular YouTube viewers, as well as regular users of iPad gaming apps.

"When you have a look, it says it’s not in your area," Ms Tolnay Bolton says. "To hear there are people right across the road that have it, well, how is that ‘not in your area’? It’s just frustrating. To me, internet service with two young kids is almost as essential as water and electricity."

Mr Lock, 66, was equally surprised. "It’s the luck of the draw, I suppose. I was surprised when I found out I had been connected before others."

Mr Lock has an 800-title DVD collection, but concedes his viewing habits will now change. "Obviously having a fast speed is the future. I know hard-copy movies are not," he says. "While I don’t use it in any professional way, fast speeds are important for social media, communication and for just getting information and archival stuff."

It’s a situation that could be played out in suburbs across the nation as the complex project is rolled out.

A spokesman for the NBN says that areas are divided into modules "and these are built out at different times". That is, buildings across the same road can be constructed as separate modules, as is the case in Coulson Street. "We have whole teams dedicated to working out the best sequence that will prove fastest, decrease the cost to taxpayers, maximise revenues and prioritise underserved areas where possible," the spokesman says.

"The calculation is, by necessity, incredibly complex. It takes into account existing infrastructure in a particular area, location of construction resources, distance from exchanges, cost to build, potential revenue, the list goes on." Further highlighting how the NBN Pandora’s box has been opened in Coulson Street, the NBN is going into two apartment complexes that already have high-speed broadband built by private operator OPENetworks.

OPENetworks chief executive Michael Sparksman says NBN is duplicating his network. "They don’t have to compete with us with real dollars, they are competing with taxpayer dollars," he says.

However, NBN says existing network owners are able to apply for "adequately served" status if they are worried about unnecessary duplications, but the Coulson Street blocks do not have that status.

"NBN’s decision to rollout to those apartment blocks is ultimately good for consumers in there being more wholesale competition," the spokesman says.


Australia set to legalize cultivation of medical cannabis

Australia is expected to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medical or scientific purposes with a bill introduced to parliament on Wednesday -- the first step towards doctors eventually prescribing it to patients with chronic pain.

The bill will see Australia create a national licensing and permit scheme to supply medical cannabis to patients with painful and chronic conditions on clinical trials.

Several Australian states have committed to starting trials for the cultivation of cannabis for medical and research purposes but current laws forbid the growing of the plant.

As a result Australian manufacturers, researchers and patients on clinical trials have been forced to access international supplies of legal medicinal marijuana. But costs, limited supply and export barriers make this challenging.

"Allowing controlled cultivation locally will provide the critical missing piece for a sustainable legal supply of safe medicinal cannabis products for Australian patients in the future," said Australia's Health Minister Sussan Ley.

Although the legislation would aid supply to researchers and patients on clinical trials, access to cannabis will not be allowed for other patients and the general public.

Australia is set to decide by the end of March as to whether to lower the criteria on how it allows the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Should Australia decide to treat cannabis similar to opium, patients dealing with chronic pain could be prescribed the drug.

MMJ PhytoTech Ltd became Australia's first listed medicinal marijuana company following an initial public offering last year that was three times oversubscribed.

"The market for medicinal cannabis in Australia is substantial. The number of patients that could be targeted could be people with epilepsy, Multiple sclerosis, while there is the other spectrum of people with chronic pain," said Gaelan Bloomfield, manager at MMJ PhytoTech Ltd.


New And Used Cars Will Get A Lot Cheaper In Australia From 2018, Thanks To Parallel Imports

A big government shake-up for local car importation laws could have massive implications for the way Aussies buy their vehicles. From 2018 onwards, you’ll be able to parallel import brand new cars and avoid tariffs on imported used cars, potentially saving yourself thousands of dollars over local dealers.

Business Insider reports that changes to the Motor Vehicles Act in Australia will open up the domestic markets of dozens of countries around the world to private Australian buyers. From 2018, private buyers will be able to purchase and import cars from countries with comparable standards to Australia — the full list hasn’t yet been decided, but preliminarily both Japan and the United Kingdom have been approved.

The cars must be no more than 12 months old, and must have no more than 500km on the odometer. The price difference won’t be enough to justify importing cheaper cars, but just below Australia’s circa-$64,000 Luxury Car Tax threshold (and beyond) there will be some bargains — with countries like the UK and Japan both selling identical cars at a significant discount to Aussie dealers. The same “Australia tax” that we’re used to with technology applies even moreso with cars.

Used cars will also become far easier to import with the amendment of the Customs Tariff Act 1995, to remove a $12,000 special duty that applies to used imports. That tariff wasn’t applied consistently anyway, but its abolition is a point of comfort for wary would-be importers. Cars that are imported will have a specific plate affixed and their details added to a new register, as well as the traditional blue-slip inspection and registration process.

There are some huge advantages to import at Australia’s luxury and niche car manufacturers’ current pricing. A Porsche 911 Carrera S will cost you $274,000 and change to buy in Australia, while an import including freight and government fees is a full $44,000 cheaper. Some, like Tesla’s Model S, have only a few thousand dollars’ disparity between local and imported prices. These prices may change to make importing less attractive, or we may see more imported new and used cars on Australian roads in the near future.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Western Australia’s north hits 47C to become one of the hottest places on Earth

Western Australia has always had records for high temperatures so this is not at all new.  Needless to say, however, Warmists are hopping on the bandwagon with claims that global warming is partly behind it.  And equally needless to say, they are talking through their anus.  There has been no global warming for over 18 years and things that don't exist don't cause anything.

Furthermore, the phenomenon is not only not global but it is also not Australia-wide.  Where I live in Queensland we have had an unusually mild summer.  Throughout December and January we had only a few very hot days and that is still so in February. 

I am quoting my own long experience of Brisbane summers in saying that.  I have no interest in seeing what the lying BOM say.  But I do have strong confirmation of what I say.  I have in my back yard eight Crepe Myrtle trees that in their time have always blossomed in January -- but it is now well into February and they are still not out.  Their inbuilt thermometers too say it is not yet a real summer

WESTERN Australia may well be the hottest place on earth right now, and we don’t mean when it comes to being on-trend.

An isolated air strip in the state’s north west suffered through temperatures surpassing 45C yesterday which could be more than anywhere else on the planet.

By 8am this morning temperatures had already nudged 30C at Garden Island, south of Perth, and highs of 42C are expected in the city this afternoon. Further north, Gascoyne Junction, in the state’s north could reach a whopping 47C.

There is little relief in sight with the Western Australian capital set to swelter through four consecutive 40C days for the first time in 83 years. If Perth passes 40C each day to Wednesday it will equal a record set in 1933.

While temperatures may dip slightly heading towards the weekend, meteorologists say it’s likely to be a temporary reprieve with the sticky weather hanging around into next week

Meanwhile, the hot weather has brought out the Western Australian sense of humour with a slew of social media posts about the heatwave including one showing someone frying an egg with the aid of the scorching temperatures.

Shark Bay Airport, situated south of Carnarvon in the Gascoyne region in the state’s north, hit 47C yesterday. According to some reports that was enough to make it the hottest place on earth.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster, Paul Vivars, said it wasn’t surprising Western Australia was pushing the mercury higher than anywhere else.

“We’re in summer in the southern hemisphere and while I’m not sure what the temperature is in central Argentina, it’s very possible WA is hotter,” he said.

Nevertheless, Perth was easily the hottest city on earth on Monday, with a high of almost 43C in the city’s eastern suburbs, and no other region on the planet had such widespread scorching temperatures as WA.

Mr Vivers said a slow moving high pressure system parked near the coast was in no rush to move on.  “It’s been a steady pattern and conditions around Perth haven’t really changed much.,” he said.

“It’s going to stay pretty warm until Friday. Saturday or Sunday night might see five or six degree drop on the coast but after Sunday another trough could bring more hot weather in the mid to high 30s.”

The extreme heat has sparked fire and public health warnings for much of the state, with a total fire ban for most of the south of the state.

All fires in the open air, hot work such as metal work, grinding, welding, soldering or gas cutting without a permit and any other activity that may lead to a fire are prohibited.

Firefighters are already battling one large bushfire in the shire of Harvey, which has burnt out 400ha, with authorities battling extreme fire conditions as they fight to bring it under control.

Western Power is expecting near record power demand, with overnight temperatures set to drop no lower than 25C for the next two nights.

If you thought the scorching weather was just a fluke, think again, with a climate scientist today saying we should expect more of the same. Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, from the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW, said there had been an increase in heatwaves in the past five years particularly in southern parts of Australia.

“Rare heatwaves that we might only have seen every 20 years we could now see every two years which may not have happened if climate change hadn’t occurred,” Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick said.


Australia's biggest Islamic School loses $20 MILLION in government funding after failing to show how they spent the money

Apparently, some of the money was going abroad and I think we can guess where

Australia's biggest Islamic School has been stripped of millions of dollars in government funding following allegations that its money was not being used just for education.

Malek Fahd Islamic School in Greenacre, south-west of Sydney, which has more than 2,400 students, could be forced to close its gates after the Federal Government said it would withdraw $20 million funding.

On Monday, the Department of Education issued a notice to the Islamic institution - revoking its Commonwealth funding - with the move placing hundreds of teaching jobs on the line.

The revocation comes after a review into six schools authorities affiliated with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) after concerns were raised about their financial management and governance.

'I am committed to ensuring that all school authorities meet the requirements to ensure that our taxpayer dollars and any private investment by parents is being spent to benefit Australian students,' Mr Birmingham said in a statement to Daily Mail Australia.

'Unfortunately, the authority that operates Malek Fahd Islamic School was not able to demonstrate to my department that they had addressed the significant concerns about their financial management and governance arrangements raised during the formal compliance review of their operation.

'Last year, the department issued a formal compliance notice when it found that the school authority was not complying with fundamental governance, financial and accountability requirements of the Australian Education Act 2013.

'After carefully considering the response to the issues raised in the compliance notice, my department had to make the difficult decision to revoke the funding approval.

'My department will work with New South Wales school authorities to help ensure students and families that are impacted by this decision receive the appropriate support.'

A NSW Department of Education spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that they are continuing to work with the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training. 'Due to ongoing litigation, it is inappropriate for the Department to provide further comment,' the spokesperson said.

NSW and ACT secretary of the Independent Education Union John Quessy told ABC News the school could face closure following the revocation.  'We'll need to seek a meeting with the school to find out will they still be operating,' Mr Quessy said.

'It's quite a dramatic move, recurrent funding is usually used to pay teacher and staff wages.  'Malek Fahd is quite a big school, we're talking about hundreds of jobs.'


ABC refugee coverage under attack by immigration department head

Australia’s most senior immigration official has savaged the ABC’s coverage of Australia’s refugee policies, saying “it’s getting to the point that there is advocacy parading as journalism”.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection secretary Michael Pezzullo also criticised “moral lecturing” by activists and politicians, warning that “fanfare and gestures” undermined efforts to quietly exercise discretion in the most desperate cases.

His comments came as two Coalition MPs publicly cricitised NSW Premier Mike Baird for lending qualified support to allow several hundred asylum-seekers bound for Nauru to stay in Australia.

Mr Pezzullo vented his frustration at a Senate hearing yesterday, prompting the ABC to last night retract its claim that a five-year-old boy was raped on Nauru — an assertion repeated as fact by journalists and activists following a landmark High Court decision last week affirming the legality of offshore processing.

The ABC’s 7.30 anchor Leigh Sales apologised on television last night for the reporting error.

“Last week, Dr Karen Zwi spoke to the ABC about two cases: one was an older child the doctor said had been raped, the other was a five-year-old she said had been sexually assaulted,’’ Sales said. “7.30 incorrectly reported that the five-year-old was the rape victim. We apologise for the error and Dr Zwi stands by her original allegations.”

Mr Pezzullo’s officials said the older child was about 10 years old and had suffered a “skin-to-skin” sexual assault by a male detainee who was two years older. He was transferred to NSW where he was receiving “world-class” care at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, the committee heard.

Mr Pezzullo said there was “no evidence, whatsoever, anywhere” that a five-year-old had been raped on Nauru. “It’s getting to a point where there is advocacy parading as journalism that is actually deleterious to a sensible discussion about these matters,” Mr Pezzullo said.

“We’ve gone beyond journalism when you’ve got certain segments of the media undertaking essentially pamphleteering of almost a political nature and then in that context the facts just get bent.

“The allegation that my department is somehow complicit in a ­regime where children are raped and they are returned to a brutal ­regime of detention, I reject that utterly.”

Mr Pezzullo, a former senior adviser to Labor figures Kim Beazley and Gareth Evans, warned the intense public pressure to resettle more asylum-seekers limited “the margin for discretionary action” by his officers.

“The more this is talked about publicly, the tougher we have to be in terms of articulating just the resolute stance of the logic of Operation Sovereign Borders and it takes away any capacity to, subject to case by case determination, come in to practical arrangements in particular cases where that’s ­applicable,” he said.

“The moment you have a chink of light, the moment you give someone a clue as to how to game the system, you will put people’s lives in danger.

“Avoidance of fanfare and gesture is crucial. Yielding to emotional gestures in this area of public administration reduces the margin for discretionary action.”

Refugee activists insisted the government’s entire refugee policy be overhauled.

“Detention unequivocally harms children. Either the government is knowingly willing to abuse children to deal with a policy issue or it is not,” said Shen Narayan­asamy, of activist group GetUp!

“They have sidestepped this issue for too long. Is child abuse a price they are willing to pay to ­hypothetically stop the boats?”

ABC News director Gaven Morris last night said the rape claim, aired by the 7.30 program last Tuesday, confused the comments of paediatrician Karen Zwi about two different patients.

“Our story incorrectly used quotes about the older child in referring to the younger child,’’ he said. “In addition, on at least one occasion the incident was referred to as a rape instead of an alleged rape. ABC News apologises for the errors and confusion.”

An ABC spokesman said the error was only discovered after it was raised at the estimates hearing. There would be no further ­internal inquiries at this time.

Dr Zwi insisted she “provided information which was factually accurate”.  “I do not wish to be drawn into the age of the child concerned for confidentiality reasons but all children have a right to expect safe and nurturing environments,’’ she said. “That is not currently happening for many children in immigration detention. A child is a child.”  [Not always.  Many refugees understate their age]


Men have it tough in the social minefield, writes Jess Leo

MEN have it tough. In this day and age, I sure am glad I’m a woman. I can walk on stilettos while many men spend their days walking on eggshells.  When it comes to the social arena men are being watched, their every move scrutinised, judged and dissected.

Sure, in the professional domain they still dominate and in the management ranks of many industries, outnumber their female peers, but when it comes to the way men interact outside of the boardroom, it’s a minefield.

I’m not being dramatic; I’m being realistic. This year began with a theme of men under the microscope.

From Jamie Briggs’ inappropriate advance towards a junior staffer in a Hong Kong bar (which was a step too far) to cricketer Chris Gayle’s awkward come-on levelled at Fox Sports journalist Mel McLaughlin, men were being called out on bad behaviour. Then it was debated whether a Tour Down Under podium finisher should kiss the cheeks of the dolled up promotional girls presenting his spoils, or a TV presenter should have a hands-on joke with his female co-host and the issue really started snowballing.

Just last week, one of the nicest guys on telly, Bruce McAvaney, was at a private function interviewing Olympic beach volleyball hopefuls when one of the statuesque athletes made a lighthearted quip about having approved her team’s standard bikini uniform.

Poor Bruce countered with an equally harmless joke about being able to see said uniform and, a split second later caught himself, muttering ‘no, I didn’t say that’ with a nervous laugh, no doubt in fear that someone would take to social media — or any other platform — and pillory him.

See that’s the thing, in this modern era, anyone can jump on and be a keyboard warrior — calling out behaviour they deem “inappropriate” and often, passing unsolicited — and unwarranted — judgment.

This isn’t limited to high-profile males either. In your workplace, social circle or even family there are men second guessing that seemingly innocuous string of words that just fell out their mouth.

It’s bad enough men aren’t sure whether they should be holding the door, picking up the dinner tab or offering their seat — lest women snap at the inference that they need the help. Just look at Channel 7’s latest reality TV debut, First Dates, where hapless males try to unravel the female psyche — and awkwardness ensues.

At this time — less than a week from that Hallmark perpetuated day of love, Valentine’s Day, it bears considering there must be some men out there positively at a loss as to what they’re meant to do when it comes to matters of the heart.

It’s been 23 years since relationships tome Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus became an international bestseller and it must feel like the two sexes are in completely different universes, let alone planets.

Even men in same sex relationships are subjected to more overt social stigma than their female counterparts.

Sure, there are important female-dominated issues that need to be remedied — the pay gap, domestic violence, representation in the workplace to name a few — but at least these are all on the agenda and being spoken about.

And while they are, we women are given much more slack.

Not long before Christmas I was in a suburban shopping centre where I was approached to buy a calendar featuring musclebound firemen in various states of undress.

I did so in the name of charity and then proceeded to marvel at the fact that should the tables be turned, that poor supermarket vendor would likely have got chased out of the shopping precinct. And all over our screens presently, comedienne Julia Morris is pawing all over a scantily clad Dr Chris Brown, as the hamming it up hosts of I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! — and she’s not being slapped with a $10,000 fine.

So when a man next calls me sweetheart or his gaze wanders south of my neck, I’ll opt to take a deep breath and remember it’s a two-way street.


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Anti-Vaccination Cranks Versus Academic Freedom

Lawyer Michael Brull below sets out very ably why the University of Wollongong should not have awarded a Ph.D. to an anti-vaxxer nut.  But he also argues that stripping a PhD in response to bad science is not the solution. 

Brull is one of those unhappy souls, an anti-Israel Jew.  He doesn't like Australia or Christians much either, but he loves Muslims. Rather a waste of a good brain it seems to me.  I have written before about his tergiversations.  So his  judgement is severely flawed.  And judgement is what is involved here.  As he shows below, the science is not in dispute.

And his judgement is that a dangerous bit of bad science should be tolerated in the name of free speech.  As the proprietor of two free-speech blogs, I might be expected to agree, but just about everyone agrees that infinite tolerance is not possible.  Toleration must have its limits. 

We do not tolerate people who go around raping and murdering, for instance.  And there is a similar issue here.  The anti-vaxxers do kill. By persuading others of their cause they destroy herd immunity -- and it is only herd immunity that protects newborns from such dangerous diseases as whooping cough.  Newborns cannot be vaccinated until their immune system is strong enough.  And, for me, protecting children is a huge priority.  It is a normal human instinct, in fact -- though one that can be submerged by both Islam and Leftism.  So giving any credence to an anti-vaxxer is a fatal mistake. I would therefore support the many who argue that the University of Wollongong must rescue its scholarly reputation by withdrawing a foolishly granted Ph.D.

One might in passing note that Brull's defence of an anti-vaxxer is consistent with his Leftism.  Anti-vaxxers destroy and that is the basic Leftist aim too.  They hate "the system"

A little while ago, Judy Wilyman’s doctoral thesis was accepted by the University of Wollongong. Now with PhD, she will title herself a doctor, in recognition of her academic achievement. For some at least, this will increase the respectability of her advocacy, now that she has fancy new credentials for the arguments she set out in her dissertation.

This has alarmed many. This is because Wilyman is sceptical of the value of vaccinations.

Take for example, Helen Petousis-Harris. Her web page identifies her background as “predominantly biological sciences, and she did her PhD in Vaccinology, specifically around vaccine reactions. She has worked at the Immunisation Advisory Centre at the University of Auckland since 1998 where she has developed a passion for all things vaccine. Currently Helen has an appointment as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care and her teaching is largely around vaccination.”

She analysed the abstract of Wilyman’s dissertation. Her conclusion: “It is [a]litany of deceitful reveries. How it could possibly pass as a piece of Doctoral level work is inexplicable and it has made no contribution to knowledge. Shame on you University of Wollongong.”

Other scientific reviews were no more flattering. And a wave of academics at the University of Wollongong reacted too. As reported at the Australian Medical Association, “Sixty-five senior medical and health researchers including Professor of Public Health Dr Heather Yeatman, Dean of Medicine Professor Ian Wilson, and Professor Alison Jones, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, have jointly signed a public statement backing the evidence supporting vaccination and its importance in preventing disease.”

Meanwhile, “Professor Peter McIntyre, director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance and an advisor to the WHO, told The Australian that he had offered to advise Wilyman but withdrew his offer as she was “not willing to entertain” evidence which contradicted her beliefs.”

As far as I can tell, there are zero relevant experts who think Wilyman’s PhD has even the vaguest connection to what the relevant science actually shows. The dissertation is an embarrassment to the University of Wollongong, and the academic standards it supposedly upholds.

The dissertation, however, raises two interesting questions. The first is how it came to pass that this dissertation was able to gain acceptance. The second question is what is the appropriate response is to the dissertation.

As to how it was accepted, SBS explains that according to the requirements of UOW PhDs, “The requirements include that there be at least two external examiners who are from different countries and they do not have a relationship with the students’ supervisors and not affiliated with the university in question.” So it seems the blame can be shared around. If this protocol was followed, there were two external examiners who were adequately impressed by Wilyman’s purported scholarship. It is not on the public record who those two people are.

However, Wilyman’s supervisor is. His name is Brian Martin, and he is a professor of social sciences. He has a PhD in theoretical physics. He posted an essay in which he came to Wilyman’s defence against her many critics. Martin presents Wilyman’s dissertation as addressing question of policy, not purely questions of science:

“[Stop the Australian Anti-Vaccination Network] and some others apparently believe the only people qualified to comment about vaccination policy are “experts” who have degrees and refereed publications in scientific journals, for example in immunology or epidemiology. A moment’s reflection should reveal the flaw in this claim: being an expert in immunology or epidemiology — usually a narrow aspect of such a field — gives no special insight into vaccination policy, which involves many different areas of knowledge, and includes matters of ethics and politics. If anyone can lay claim to having special knowledge about policy, it is those who have researched policy itself, including critics of the Australian government’s policy such as Judy.”

So what issues of policy does the dissertation address? This is Martin’s summary:

“It makes four main critical points in relation to Australian government vaccination policy. First, deaths from infectious diseases had dramatically declined in Australia before the mass introduction of most vaccines, suggesting that vaccination is not the only factor in controlling these diseases. Second, Australian vaccination policies were adopted from a one-size-fits-all set of international recommendations, without consideration of the special ecological conditions in Australia, for example the levels of sanitation and nutrition, and the incidence and severity of diseases. Third, nearly all research on vaccination is carried out or sponsored by pharmaceutical companies with a vested interest in selling vaccines; the conflicts of interest involved in vaccine research can lead to bias in the research design and conclusions drawn. Fourth, there are important areas of research relevant to vaccination policy that have not been pursued, but should have been; a plausible reason for this “undone science” is that the findings might turn out to be unwelcome to vaccination promoters.”

In fact, these questions are issues of both politics and science. The first is an empirical question, subject to scientific research. So is the second, though if its premises were established, then a policy question would arise. The third is indeed a policy question requiring no special expertise to investigate. The fourth is mixed.

Perhaps some areas of research aren’t being pursued – Wilyman would not be the first to observe that scientific research is biased towards wealthy or powerful interests. That this “undone science” would be unwelcome to vaccination promoters is again an empirical question.

Given that the focus of the dissertation, according to its lone defender, seems to mostly be scientific questions, one might think that the appropriate field to conduct this study in is one of the hard sciences where her findings could be subjected to rigorous and informed peer review.

Instead, Wilyman’s dissertation was conducted through UOW’s social sciences.

This seems like the most effective way to avoid serious scientific scrutiny of her claims. Her external examiners may have rapidly found themselves out of their depth in dealing with questions of vaccination science.

So how does Wilyman present herself? Her website is called “Vaccination Decisions”. She presents herself as a dispassionate scientist, who has studied the issue since 1993. Her critics, however, are not scientific, and are “consumer lobby groups”:

“During the last decade I have attempted to debate my academic research but the media will not report the other side of the vaccination debate with credibility. Whilst attempting to debate my research in public forums since 2010 I have been attacked by consumer lobby groups, in particular the Australian Skeptics and the ‘Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN)’. These consumer groups are not scientific organisations and many subscribers of this group have used false and misleading statements to disparage my reputation and reduce my credibility in public debates.”

Thus, it sounds like her motives are pure, unlike her critics, who it seems are simply mercenary thugs. Wilyman doesn’t even explain that she is anti-vaccination, whilst her critics are in favour of them.

What are her qualifications?

“I have a Bachelor of Science degree and I have practised as a science teacher for 20 years. In 2004 I began researching this public health issue at the University of Wollongong (UOW). I completed a Master of Science degree (Population Health) in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences in 2007. This included a research project analysing the Australian Government’s Policy on Whooping Cough. In 2007 I continued my research with a PhD.

In 2008 – 2010 I transferred to the Environmental Science Department at Murdoch University to research and lecture in environmental health issues. I transferred back to Wollongong University in 2011 to complete my PhD investigating the Australian government’s reasons for its current National Immunisation Program (NIP). My PhD includes an examination of the science in the government’s vaccination policy and a critique of the influences in the decision to use an increasing number of vaccines in children.”

So, she sounds pretty scientific. And her PhD purportedly examines the science. Whilst Wilyman complains her critics aren’t scientific, she forgets to mention at that point that neither was the field in which her PhD was examined (it is later listed as “School of Humanities and Social Sciences”). We will return to the question of her Masters Degree.

Soon she gets to her position:

“In the 1990’s I became aware of the significant increase in chronic illness that was occurring in children. By 2004, 41 per cent of children (0 -14 years of age) had a chronic illness 1. The diseases that have been increasing since the late 80’s include allergies, anaphylaxis, ADHD, autism, coeliac disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases (e.g. arthritis and diabetes). The medical journals and animal studies link the ingredients of vaccines as a cause of these diseases. Although the increase in these diseases correlates to the increasing use of vaccines, the government has not funded research that would prove or disprove this plausible link. The Australian government claims it is a coincidence that these diseases have increased with the increasing use of vaccines but does not provide scientific-evidence to support this statement.”

That’s a pretty impressive list of diseases that vaccinations supposedly cause. Traditionally, when a scientist makes a breakthrough, and has a contribution to make in the sciences, they present their findings to a journal, so that it can be peer reviewed. Wilyman does not appear to have chosen to do this for some reason.

Anyway, Wilyman has dismissed her critics as “funded by industry interests” (I wonder how she’ll respond to this article). Critics at Mamamia don’t have relevant qualifications either (is her PhD a relevant qualification?).

Then I got to the part of her website that was most interesting.

“The Australian government appoints Ministers of Health who do not have qualifications in health and it has a duty of care to ensure that all science on the cause of autism is included in vaccination policy-decisions. Ministers should not be making pledges for public health policy on lobby group websites. There are many scientific articles that indicate vaccines are a valid cause of autism, for example, these articles 1 , 2, 3, 4 and 5, yet the government has not addressed these articles in the discussion of vaccination policy on the Immunise Australia Program (IAP) website.”

I have included her links in the quote above. What are these “scientific articles” proving “vaccines are a valid cause of autism”? Note: none are scientific articles; that is, essays by scientists published in scientific journals. They are all websites – like this one, which is just a commentary on a hearing in the US.

One is an essay, in PDF format. It is titled “An Essay on the Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism and the link to Vaccines”, and is by Mark Allan Sircus. I googled him, and naturally, he has a website.

When I saw that he treats cancer with marijuana, I naturally was interested in this pleasant sounding treatment. Sircus “practices and preaches Natural Oncology, an integrative medicine that… utilizes natural substances like magnesium, iodine, sodium bicarbonate and medical marijuana together with far-infrared heat treatments and oxygen therapies.”

So then I googled Natural Oncology. The first result was The Natural Oncology Institute, Vincent Gammill. Gammill is Wilyman’s favourite scientist. So who is Gammill? A 69-year-old man who told police he had “no formal education beyond high school, but then ‘remembered’ he had obtained a doctor of science degree sometime in the 1990s.”

Gammill then founded the Natural Oncology Institute. He was arrested by police after a 50-year-old woman complained that he treated her breast cancer with expired meds and a bag of dirt, for the princely sum of $2000.

Police proceeded to charge him with “practicing medicine without a license, dependent adult abuse and furnishing dangerous drugs without a license.”

His “patient” reported him after trying a concoction he showed her how to make, which caused a “burning sensation in her stomach”, according to police.

Anyway, though Sircus apparently practices the same type of Natural Oncology as its quack founder, I haven’t found any evidence that he’s been arrested for treating cancer with dirt. I suppose it isn’t entirely surprising that his paper wasn’t published in a peer reviewed journal.

Wilyman, for her part, lists her various publications at The Conversation. These include Medical Veritas: The Journal of Truth in Health Science.

When a journal has the word “truth” in it, you just know a conspiratorial mindset is lurking. Sure enough, it appears to be home to more anti-vaccine quacks.

Let us return to Wilyman’s Master of Science Degree from the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences in 2007.

As Wilyman noted, this included her analysis of vaccination policy. In 2014 two medical experts lodged a complaint about her thesis, though it appears nothing has come of this. You can get a sense of its high-minded presentation of quackery from this paragraph:

“The ecological evidence is showing a significant increase in chronic illness in children. This includes the increasing incidence of diabetes mellitus, leukaemia, food allergies, asthma, epilepsy, behavioural and intellectual disabilities and autism (AIHW, 2004). Refer Appendix 6. Whilst this increase in disease has occurred in children at the same time as vaccination use has increased it is not evidence for a causal link. However, the biological plausibility of vaccines as a cause of these diseases is demonstrated in animal studies, the clinical evidence from adverse reactions to vaccines and the volume of reports from parents claiming their child’s development changed after vaccination (Kirby D, 2005).”

So what next?

Regardless of what one thinks of Wilyman’s dissertation, any ex post facto policy designed to strip her of her PhD or Masters degree will be wrong as a matter of principle, and as a matter of policy.

Certainly, there are some who think that Wollongong can’t just stand by and let Wilyman have her PhD. The Australian editorialised that “this is a battle between life and death, and Wollongong has put itself on the wrong side”.

It is hard not to point out that one might equally suggest that the issue of climate change is a “battle between life and death” – yet the Australian has shown considerably less interest in campaigning on proper recognition of this issue.

Yet it was not just the Oz. A petition was launched against Wilyman’s PhD, acquiring 2,100 signatures. The petition announced that “Action is urgently required to address gross academic misconduct”. It called on the government to take “immediate disciplinary action” against the University of Wollongong, complaining that “federal funding of such dangerous myth-making is unconscionable.”

This kind of attitude pervades some of the critics of Wilyman’s work. For example, blogger Chrys Stevenson wrote, “Free speech is all very well. But, when propaganda and misinformation from uneducated rabble-rousers endangers the lives of children and vulnerable people, I think we can rightly argue free speech must have limits.”

Or to turn to the petition, which warns that the University’s acceptance of Wilyman’s work “demonstrates an anti-scientific culture at the University of Wollongong that is inimical to scholarship”.

For those who have studied in the humanities, there are indeed academics who partake in an “anti-scientific culture”. For example, there are postmodernists, social constructionists and so on who believe that science is all a social construct, an oppressive domain of white men which isn’t to be taken too seriously.

However distasteful one finds these views, the opinion that the humanities should reflect a particular viewpoint in an argument is an opinion that the humanities should not include intellectual diversity.

The point of intellectual inquiry is that it should be free. If there are sins in the academic work of Wilyman, they may be found in dishonest footnotes, or improper external examiners. The fact that her opinions are unorthodox or distasteful to many is not, in itself, grounds for her degree to be taken from her.

Those who think that the government should step in to settle this dispute between Wilyman and her critics are the ones who subscribe to a fundamentally “anti-scientific culture” which is “inimical to scholarship”.

The sciences are not built around policing of consensus and expulsion of dissenters. They are built around uncertainty, and progress is made by dissenters successfully persuading their peers that a new paradigm can better explain the way the world works.

If Wilyman’s work is left to the scientific community, I have little doubt they will filter her out, just as they do other anti-vax and unscientific cranks.

As it stands, it is clear to any lay person with the ability to Google that the overwhelming preponderance of scientific experts disagree with Wilyman, and in fact regard her scientific expertise as nil.

Attempts to discipline the university, or strip her of her PhD will only legitimise her opinions.

Rather than being a marginal quack with strange views, she will become a persecuted martyr, bravely defending her beliefs in the face of intimidation. The argument will shift from the evidence and the experts to whether someone in the humanities should be able to argue for a view that other people don’t like.

“What are they afraid of,” the anti-vaxxers will cry. “We just want an open debate”.

It is natural to want to combat the pernicious nonsense of people like Wilyman with the quickest, most powerful tool available. Yet this kind of attack on academic freedom would have very dangerous implications.

And ultimately, it is the wrong tool to counter the claims of anti-vaxxers. Ultimately, what is needed is persuasion, not coercion.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Warmists hoist with their own petard

Judith Curry comments on the cutbacks to climate science at the CSIRO

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, CSIRO was the word leader on atmospheric boundary layer research.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s, CSIRO was a leader in atmospheric physics research, producing such scientists as Graeme Stephens and Peter Webster (who both  left Australia for the U.S. in the 1980’s).  Since the 1990’s, CSIRO has done important climate monitoring, and has also done climate modeling research, participating fully in the various CMIP and IPCC exercises.  One has to wonder whether the health of climate science in Australia would be better if they hadn’t bothered with global climate modeling and playing the IPCC games, but rather focused on local climate issues and the climate dynamics of the Southern Hemisphere.

Now that the UN’s community of nations has accepted a specific result from consensus IPCC climate science to drive international energy and carbon policy, what is the point of continued heavy government funding of climate research, particularly global climate modeling?  I have argued previously [e.g. link] that we have reached the point of diminishing returns from the current path of climate modeling.  That said, we still don’t understand how the climate system works on decadal to centennial time scales, and have very little predictive capability on these time scales, particularly on regional scales.

To make progress, we need to resolve many scientific issues, here is the list from my APS Workshop presentation:

Solar impacts on climate (including indirect effects)
Multi-decadal natural internal variability
Mechanisms of vertical heat transfer in the ocean
Fast thermodynamic feedbacks (water vapor, clouds, lapse rate)
See also my previous post The heart of the climate dynamics debate.  It is critical that we maintain and enhance our observing systems, particularly satellites.  And we need much better data archaeology to clarify what was going on in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and also some more serious paleoclimatic reconstructions (that avoid Mannian tree ring ‘science’.)

Looking forward to a new U.S. President next year, whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in power, I don’t expect a continuation of the status quo on climate science funding.  The Democrats are moving away from science towards policy – who needs to spend all that funding on basic climate science research?  Global climate modeling might be ‘saved’ if they think these climate models can support local impact assessments (in spite of widespread acknowledgement that they cannot).  If the Republicans are elected, Ted Cruz has stated he will stop all funding support for the IPCC and UNFCCC initiatives.  That said, he seems to like data and basic scientific research.

In any event, I don’t think the current status quo regarding scientific research will continue.  We will undoubtedly see many climate scientists redirecting their research, or leaving research positions for the private sector.  Ironically, circa 1990, the DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program [link] was seeded by retreading nuclear scientists and engineers from the DOE labs to radiation and climate science.

JC message to climate scientists advocating for more funding at the same time they are claiming ‘settled science’ [e.g. Marcia McNutt]:  you have been hoisted on your own petard.  You are slaying climate science in the interests of promoting a false and meaningless consensus.


Airline fears photography

The bitch should have been helping at the counter instead of harassing the photographer

A man claims that Virgin Australia staff called the police after he took a photo of a line of people waiting for assistance at Melbourne Airport.

Richard Lipp, a photographer, said that he was on board a plane heading to Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, when his flight was turned back to Melbourne due to bad weather.

'We just had a really nice joy flight... to nowhere,' he said in a video blog.

When the plane arrived back at Melbourne Airport, the photographer said that around 200 passengers had to queue for assistance to get accommodation and new flights.

'Just landed back in Melbourne... thank you Virgin, and they've decided that [for] 200 people, they could only open one counter to help us all.'

 'When I took a photo to document this fact for Virgin head office, I was confronted, bullied and then had the Federal Police called because I wouldn't delete a photo of the general area with people's backs turned to me,' Mr Lipp said.

The photographer said that he was confronted by a Virgin ground crew member soon after taking the photo..

'Did you ask permission from all these people?' the worker asked him in the footage.

'I took a photo of this general area, I was not targeting anyone,' Mr Lipp said.

'Well that doesn't count... I can take this further...keep doing that we'll see what happens,' she responded.  She then says 'we've got the federal police coming down here.'

The photographer then says: 'That's fine, I haven't done anything wrong.'  'You didn't ask for permission,' she said.

He then sarcastically asks the crowd, 'Does anyone mind if I photograph the back of their heads?'

A man jokingly responds with, 'You got my left or my right?'

The photographer then inserted more footage of ground crew asking him to delete the photo into his video.

The footage ends with Mr Lipp and his friend, Claudia, re-booking a flight for 6 o'clock the next morning.


Learning to read requires direct instruction and parental involvement

Jennifer Buckingham

Reading seems so straightforward. Skilled reading is unconscious and automatic ­-- most people are not aware of the complex cognitive processes taking place. Few adults remember how they learned to read, so when it comes to working out how to help their children they will often look to the experts. Unfortunately, advice to parents is often confusing and contradictory.

It is not simply a case of 'read to children and they will learn to read'. This is the trap of whole language teaching methods. For children to make the connection between the strange black shapes on the page and the words they hear and say, they have to be explicitly taught.

But even before this happens, children need to develop a large store of words that they can understand and use -- a large 'receptive' or oral vocabulary. Recent studies found that around 20% of Australian children starting school have poor language skills. They do not speak clearly, and they know and use a limited number of words.

The best way to develop these skills in children is through adult-child spoken interaction and through shared reading. Both of these are important. Spoken interaction provides children with models and guidance of how to pronounce words properly and gives them immediate information about the world around them. Clear speech also develops phonological awareness -- the ability to identify the distinct sounds in spoken words -- which is strongly related to the ability to decode words using phonics.

Shared reading -- defined as reading with rather than reading to children -- is essential; firstly because it introduces the concepts of the written alphabet and printed text, and secondly because books expose children to a wider range of words and language structures generally used in speech. Vocabulary can be conceived broadly as general knowledge. To know what the word 'planet' means, is to know what a planet is. Vocabulary and general knowledge are fundamental to reading comprehension, which is the end-game for learning to read.

Parents should not be expected to teach their children to read. But it will help to break the cycle of low literacy if children arrive at school well prepared to learn to read. If, ideally, they then have evidence-based reading instruction in the first few years of school, Australia will be well on the way to fixing its persistent literacy problems.


AGL pulls out of coal seam gas across Australia, now uneconomic

AGL is pulling out of coal seam gas in Australia, ceasing its exploration and winding down or selling its operational gas fields.

Plummeting oil and gas prices were cited by AGL as one of the main reasons for the decision in its announcement to the ASX on Thursday morning, as well as lower than expected production volumes from one of its fields in NSW.

AGL said a review had concluded that “production of natural gas assets will no longer be a core business for the company”.

The decision by American chief executive Andrew Vesey follows his pledge last year to shut all its coal-fired power stations by 2050.

“Exiting our gas assets in NSW has been a difficult decision,” Vesey said. “AGL has invested significantly in these projects and communities over the past seven years.

“We are talking about potential investment of a billion dollars, so we had to make sure there were returns for shareholders. That has increasingly become uncertain in recent weeks,” Vesey told analysts.

Crude oil prices have slid about 70% in the past 18 months, and last month slipped to a 13-year low below $US27 a barrel, with gas prices following in its wake.

Farmers and residents who have been fighting coal seam gas have told Guardian Australia they are “ecstatic” with the decision. Lock the Gate Alliance – a collection of farmers, conservationists and residents who are concerned about unsafe gas mining – say it’s a well-earned victory for the thousands of people who have protested against CSG around the country.

In Gloucester near the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, AGL had planned a 300-well development the company said could supply 15% of NSW’s gas needs, which would no longer go ahead.

“We are thrilled. It’s a fantastic decision,” said Steve Phillips, Lock the Gate coordinator in the Hunter. He says the protests would have had an impact on the decision. “I think the fact they had no social license to go ahead would have been a factor for them.”

Activists’ eyes moved quickly to Santos, which remained the only company trying to develop coal seam gas in NSW.  “This leaves Santos as the last one standing, trying to get CSG off the ground” Phillips said.

Shares in AGL rose 1% to $18.77 following the announcement.


Monday, February 08, 2016

Reclaim Australia Rally drowns out counter protesters

Reclaim Australia protesters held their largest rally yet on Saturday in Canberra kicking of a wave of Anti-Islam demonstrations in cities across the world.

Canberra organiser Daniel Evans labelled it "preservation of Australia Day" and at the podium congratulated 250 "fellow patriots" for making the journey to the capital.

Saturday's protest was the first in a series of global rallies against the Islamisation of the West co-ordinated by German anti-immigration movement the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA)

As the crowd marched up Federation Mall and flooded onto a Parliament House Lawn, split in two by barricades, a dubbed version of John Lennon's track Imagine came over the PA featuring the lyrics "Imagine there's no Islam".

Crowds cheered as Mr Evans shouted "we outnumber them and our voice is louder".  And on the day he was right.

Under the watchful eye of close to 50 AFP special response, canine and general duties officers there were less than 40 counter protesters facing the swollen crowd of Australian flag-clad Anti-Islamists.

The number of "Don't stop the boats, stop the racists" t-shirts paled in comparison to dozens of placards reading "Islam denies freedom" and "Anti-racist is a code word or Anti-White."

In his speech South Australian lawyer John Bolton warned of the risks of "Islamic barbarity" and fervently encouraged protesters to openly "insult and vilify Islam five times a day if you want to". 

He called for a ban on "Islamic face-masks" and stated mosques were a threat to Australian national security.

"I want more terrorism powers to our squads to do random searches of mosques," he said. "I want an Islamic Schools watchdog. There must be random searches of Islamic Schools to make sure they're not teaching Sharia."

Born and bred ACT resident and father of three Mr Evans said the position of Reclaim Australia was broadly misunderstood by the greater community.

"We are a multi-ethnic country but we have one culture, Australian culture," he said.

"I'm not against Muslims. I'm against the ideology of Islam. We have extremists here preaching hate. These are the ones we need to get rid of."

Arabella McKenzie, dressed as a Suffragette complete with parasol, said she felt compelled to "roll out of her grave" and protest with Reclaim to stand up for women's rights.

"Women's right to vote was nothing compared with what women are facing today in Sharia run countries," she said.

"A lot of people say "what culture in Australia are we defending?" but there is a culture here where woman can be free, have rights and are considered equal human beings. That's a good culture to preserve."

An ACT Police spokesman said there were no arrests or issues with the protest.

This is a stark change from last year's rally where police arrested four at the scene, using capsicum spray to defuse ugly clashes that broke out.


PM says border security is paramount despite calls to let asylum seekers stay

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists the government will maintain its tough stance on border control despite mounting pressure to stop 267 asylum seekers, including Australian-born children, being shipped back to Nauru.

Last night NSW Premier Mike Baird supported Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews’s call to take in asylum seeker children rather than return them to Nauru after a High Court ruling last week paved the way for them to be sent back. This includes a five-year-old boy who was allegedly raped on the island.

But when asked whether the government would consider looking at individual cases, Mr Turnbull remained resolute on ABC’s Insiders this morning, warning any softening of Australia’s border security policies would open the floodgates for illegal people smugglers.

He pointed to the waves of illegal arrivals that followed former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s decision to close offshore processing on Nauru in 2008.

“I will choose my words carefully because everything I say — everything I say — is being looked at in the finest, most detailed way possible by the people smugglers who will look at any opportunity to get back in the business (when) we got them out of business,” Mr Turnbull said.

“People who seek to come to Australia with people smugglers will not succeed. They will not settle in Australia.

“We are providing every incentive to the people on Nauru to go back to their country of origin. We are providing them with considerable incentives and assistance to do that. We are providing them with incentives to settle in other countries.

“But if we don’t take a firm line, we know what the consequences will be. This is not theoretical.”

When pressed by Insiders host Barrie Cassidy about the Australian-born children faced with deportation, Mr Turnbull acknowledged they were “very delicate issues” but the security of the border was paramount.

“We are dealing with these issues, these very delicate, these anguished issues, with compassion and we’re dealing with them on a case-by-case basis,” Mr Turnbull.

“But what I’m not going to do is give one skerrick of encouragement to those criminals, those people smugglers, who are preying on vulnerable people and seeking to take their money, put them on the high seas in boats … where they will drown.

“There are no policy options available in terms of border protection that are not tough, which cannot be described as harsh, but the one thing we know without any question is that the approach that we took in the Howard era worked, when it was unpicked it was a colossal failure in humanitarian terms, and what we are doing now is working through the caseload we inherited from Labor — there were 2000 children in detention when Rudd lost office, now there’s less than 100 — we’re working through that.

“But the critical thing is to maintain the security of the border.”

Rallies have been held in capital cities around the country calling on the government to allow the asylum seekers to stay after they were brought to Australia for medical treatment.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has called on the state government this morning to join an offer by Victoria to settle Australian-born refugee children and their families.

Victoria’s Labor Premier Daniel Andrews wrote to Mr Turnbull on Saturday asking him not to send refugee children to a “life of physical and emotional trauma” in offshore detention.

Mr Andrews’ promise that Victoria would provide housing, health, education and welfare services has drawn support from advocacy groups.  “I want these children and their families to call Victoria home,” he wrote.

“Given we stand ready to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment for these children and their families, there is no justification for their removal.”

Mr Foley said that as Australia’s most populous state, NSW should make a similar offer. He said it was important to remember 37 infants among the group were born in Australia.  “They are being ejected from the country of their birth — the only country they have ever known,” he said.

“Together we should all strive to do better as a nation and we can take an important step forward today.”

Mr Baird praised Mr Andrews as a “good man” and recognised the humanitarian impulse behind his letter. “The same impulse has driven us to work cooperatively with the Commonwealth to resettle an additional intake of refugees in NSW following the recent turmoil in Syria, which is where our focus remains,” he said.

“If the PM has any additional requests for NSW we are prepared to help.”

The Refugee Action Collective has criticised federal Labor for not taking a similar stance.

“Bill Shorten should take note and abandon support for offshore processing and associated cruelty to refugees,” spokesman Chris Breen said.


Some British expat workers going home as Australia's mining boom runs down

As the country's economy adjusts to a new reality following the collapse in commodities, many British expats are considering a move back home

When geologist Chris Nellist was offered a job in Sydney after completing his masters at Leicester, he seized it with both hands. His timing could have been better, however: shortly after arriving in Australia, the financial crash of 2008 hit, and he was made redundant. So Nellist found himself working for a miner in Western Australia, the vast, dusty red expanse that holds much of the country’s mineral wealth. Now events have come full circle, and Nellist is out of work again – only this time, there’s nowhere left for him to go.

“The mining industry is probably in its worst downturn in a century,” Nellist says. “It’s undergoing contraction on a huge scale and it’s not even close to ending.”

Mining has been the driving force of Australia’s economic growth for longer than anyone cares to remember – helping GDP growth average 3.6pc a year for most of this century – but the global collapse in commodity prices has led to a painful readjustment.

Australians have heard the warnings before – but this time, it seems, the boom is truly over. The country is repointing its economy for a new reality, and renegotiating its trading partnership with China and the wider Asia-Pacific. Australia’s mining titans – the likes of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, whose shares have led the FTSE 100 lower in the recent market turmoil – have a huge fight on their hands. Meanwhile the migrants who answered their call for workers are considering their options. Will the mining downturn see Britons packing their bags for home?

“There is no doubt that current operating conditions in the mining sector are tough and companies are taking steps to ensure their long-term survival,” says Dr Gavin Lind, of the Minerals Council of Australia. Slowing demand in China – the world’s largest consumer of raw materials, and the buyer of 54pc of Australia’s resources exports in 2015 – has led to dizzying price falls in coal, iron ore, zinc, nickel, copper and bauxite, all minerals mined Down Under.

Instead of cutting production and shoring up the price of their product, miners are taking a counter-intuitive tack, and boosting their output. Closing down mines is an expensive business and companies would rather cling on to their market share than cede ground to their rivals. Yet “the increase in volumes is unlikely to be sufficient to offset the effect of lower commodity prices”, Mark Cully, chief economist at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, warned in December. He calculates that Australia’s earnings from mining and energy exports will fall by 4pc to A$166bn (£81bn) this year as lower prices bite.

Giant miners such as Rio and BHP believe their low-cost models will enable them to survive while higher-cost competitors go to the wall. However, in common with their peers in the FTSE 100, they have been punished by investors, with their shares tumbling 44pc and 52pc respectively in the last year. While Rio’s balance sheet is regarded as the stronger of the two, both are under pressure to cut their dividends. Analysts expect Rio to unveil a 37pc slump in operating profits when it reports its full-year results this week. BHP, which announces its half-year results on February 23, is facing a 56pc tumble in profits for the year.

Meanwhile the wider Australian mining industry is stripping out costs and “cutting staff to the bone”, as Nellist puts it. One simple way for miners to save money is to stop exploration work. As a geologist, Nellist was charged with finding new mineral deposits to build up his employer’s resources. He lost his job when his company cancelled this work – a move that is storing up trouble for the future, he argues. “There are many mines in operation that have less than a 10-year mine life. Yet very few are exploring for their next resource.” Spending on exploration fell 32pc in the year to September, hitting its lowest level in more than five years.

While output is growing, the mining industry is shedding employees. At its peak in 2012, the Australian mining sector employed 275,000 people. Since then, it has lost close to 75,000 jobs. Mining may only account for around 2pc of the country’s workforce, but it punches above its weight – not just in terms of its contribution to economic growth, but in what goes into employees’ pockets. Including bonuses, overseas workers in the mines can expect to earn an average of AU$218,600 (£108,000) a year.

In 2011, around 11,000 people of British origin worked in the mines – this included those with leave to remain in the country, and holders of Australia citizenship. A minority were on sponsored visas, imported by the industry to fill particular roles.

“At the peak of Australia’s mining boom we were actively recruiting candidates from all over the world for employers in search of specific skills,” says Chris Kent, regional director of recruitment firm Hays Resources & Mining. “This is no longer the case.” From July to September 2012, there were 1,858 British workers on sponsored visas in the mining sector; in the most recent quarter for which data are available, that had tumbled to 1,002. Sponsored visas across the industry fell by 42pc last September – the steepest drop of any sector.

Miners don’t need to import as many staff from abroad because there are enough qualified locals available, Kent explains. “As a result, employers are able to demand previous local mining experience,” he says. Moreover, most contracts in the mining sector are short-term and for specific projects. “While mining does continue to deliver jobs and economic benefits, it does so at a declining rate than seen at the height of its boom,” says Kent.

Far more Britons on sponsored visas now work in financial services, healthcare, IT and retail, reflecting the fact that the Australian economy is now service driven. Such a shift comes at a cost, however, as service jobs have lower productivity growth than mining jobs. “Australia is losing ground to comparable countries such as the United States and further reforms are needed to boost its productivity levels,” warned Culley last year.

In the face of a tougher jobs market and rising house prices, some expats are naturally considering whether to move back home. The number returning from Australia to the UK hit 18,000 in 2013, the highest level since 2001. Not all are returning because of the end of the mining boom. “It was always really hard to find work in the mines anyway and only a few did – those that happened to be in that type of geologist occupation,” as one expat points out. Still others cite homesickness and even bad Australian TV for wanting to come home. Yet the signs are that life in the sun is no longer the one-way ticket it once was.

“We’ve seen a 40pc increase year-on-year in inquiries for people wanting to leave Australia and return home. UK and Ireland dominates this return traffic,” says Ben Tyrrell, head of relocation firm MoveHub, which carries out 200,000 house moves globally each year. “Going to Australia, we did about 8,000 moves; traffic the return way is tracking at broadly similar numbers.” For Eimear McGlinchey Beattie, founder of the Irish Families in Perth association, the warning signs came when people started putting their cars and household items up for sale. “The dynamics have certainly changed in the last 12-15 months,” she says. Many Irish people are seeking job opportunities in Canada, New Zealand and London. “Australia and especially Western Australia gave them the promise of great job opportunities and high salaries. The slump in the mining industry has basically put an end to much of this.”

The extent of the mining slump, and its duration, remains hotly debated. “The temptation in some quarters [is] to downplay mining’s contribution to Australia’s current and future growth prospects,” says John Kunkel of the Minerals Council of Australia, pointing out that the industry contributed almost half of Australia’s 0.9pc GDP growth in the quarter to September. Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh was equally bullish at the company’s last results presentation in October. “Low commodity prices make it easy for pundits to tell sorrowful stories about our sector,” he said.

Australia’s GDP is still forecast to grow by 2.5pc this year, extending 24 years of growth – but this is a full percentage point below the 20-year average. The economy is in a “state of transition”, according to Cully, and “must now look to other sources of growth” to replace the shortfall in mining investment.

Australia is pulling other levers to ensure its growth: a free-trade pact with China came into force in December, under which 85pc of its exports will enter the country duty- free; it has similar deals with Japan and South Korea and it signed the Trans Pacific Partnership last week – all designed to boost its services sector.

Such moves are scant consolation for those laid off in the mining sector. Chris Nellist, who last month defaulted on his mortgage, is now desperately hunting for jobs in the UK. “Even if I don’t find something, we are likely to have to move back eventually as the bank system here is fairly harsh and we are likely to lose the house in the next 80 days,” he says. “In hindsight, moving to Australia was a huge mistake for us and has been a financial disaster.”


Non-religious ethics classes growing in NSW schools

NSW school children are facing unprecedented hurdles to get into ethics classes in schools, the state's provider of ethics classes has warned.

For the first time this year parents of kindergarten students do not have to be informed of the availability of ethics classes by the school principals until after they have been through at least four different steps.

"It is a deliberately difficult process for a parent to access ethics classes and give students an alternative to developing their critical thinking and moral reasoning," said Mr Hogan.

Despite the hurdles, Mr Hogan said the classes had continued to grow in popularity throughout the state.

The classes received some high-profile backing last year when the Dalai Lama spoke out in support of their inclusions in NSW schools as a way of keeping people who did not engage with religion on a moral path.

"We will start in 400 schools this year," Mr Hogan said. "In the end, parents always win when it comes to their children's best interest."

Marrickville mother Theona Bustos said that despite being Catholic she still wanted her five-year-old son Xavier to enroll in an ethics class at Wilkins Primary School.  "If I want my children to have a religious education, I don't want it to happen at school, we can go to Sunday mass for that," she said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said that as not all NSW public schools offer ethics classes, it is up to schools to provide parents with the options at their school. Some schools openly advise parents of the availability of ethics classes.

Last year, NSW Premier Mike Baird denied the removal of ethics classes from enrolment forms was part of a deal with Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile to secure the passage of legislation through the NSW upper house.

The changes to the enrolment form were rushed through the Department of Education after the Premier was lobbied by faith groups, documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws showed.

The government's recommendations were in line with those of an upper house inquiry into ethics classes chaired by Mr Nile in 2012.

A spokesman for the Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools said: "Special ethics education is not an enemy or a threat to special religious education and the volunteer teachers in both groups are offering valid and valuable choices for parents for education in faith and ethics."


Liquid gold rush beckons for Australian honey producers as research identifies best antimicrobial nectar

Australian honey producers are set to tap into a potential billion-dollar global market for medicinal honey, with new research confirming powerful antimicrobial properties in the flowering nectar of trees found across Australia.

The joint study by three Australian universities is testing up to 86 different species of Leptospermum, 10 times more than are found across the Tasman, where the trees are the basis of New Zealand's burgeoning manuka honey industry.

That country's biggest honey producer, Comvita, is negotiating with Australia's top producer, Capilano, to help it keep up with runaway demand for its products.

Comvita chief technical officer Ralf Schlothauer said huge demand in Asia for manuka honey as a culinary product was making it hard for the company to satisfy its $100-million annual market for medical grade honey, bandages and dressings.

"Right now the culinary price on very pure manuka honey is becoming so high it makes it very difficult to make a commercial decision to dedicate that honey to the medical use," Dr Schlothauer said.

Capilano general manager Ben McKee said even without the Comvita deal, growing demand for manuka honey, traditionally known as jelly bush in Australia, was helping raise the farm gate price for all honey producers.

For a small number of bee keepers already producing manuka honey, the profits are spectacular.

"Bee keepers don't have to produce a lot of this honey to get a really good financial return," Mr McKee said.

"If they have access to this it can really turn their business from just running along to a really large business.

"Some of the bee keepers, we've paid over $1 million just in one payment because of the amount of manuka honey, so it's a real game changer for some bee keepers."
Manuka could help in fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs

The field research on Australian Leptospermum trees is being conducted by Simon Williams as part of a chemistry doctorate with the Sunshine Coast University.

He said the trees were found in every state but their level of potential antimicrobial activity varied.  "We're sampling the source, the flower, to determine activity in the trees but it's still going to come down to mother nature to determine whether or not there'll be any nectar produced," Mr Williams said.

"In some states like South Australia and Victoria, it's a little bit dry so they don't always have a good flowering year every year."

University of Technology, Sydney, is leading the Australian research project and according to principal investigator Professor Liz Harry the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs has put a fresh focus on manuka honey

"While drugs can be very useful at times, honey is a really good topical agent that bacteria don't become resistant to," Professor Harry said.

"Over many millions of years of bees making honey it's the only food that can't be spoiled, so nature has provided this solution for us that we stopped using because of antibiotics.

"Now that antibiotics are losing their power we need to look at other solutions and I think honey is a fantastic one."

The Australian study, jointly funded by government and industry, is also investigating a range of other medicinal properties in jelly bush honey.

"Honey also has other properties, like healing properties and anti-inflammatory properties, so what we're interested in is whether some of these honeys may do better at the anti-inflammatory and other honeys may be better at antibacterial, or perhaps there's a few honeys that are best at all three of those activities," Professor Harry said.