Friday, December 19, 2014
Eight black children have been stabbed to death in Far North Queensland
Melanesians are notoriously aggressive towards one-another
Police in Cairns have closed a section of a street while homicide detectives and emergency services attend to the scene.
Officers said they had attended the address after they received reports a 34-year-old woman had serious injuries.
Police say the 34-year-old woman currently in hospital with suspected stab wounds is not in custody and have indicated she is not a suspect in the death of eight children at a Cairns property.
The 34-year-old’s cousin told AAP at the scene the children were all siblings. The woman was their mother, she said.
She said another sibling, a 20-year-old man, arrived home to find his brothers and sisters dead inside the house. He is now being comforted by other family members. “I’m going to see him now, he needs comforting,” the woman told AAP.
She described the family and extended relatives as close-knit. “We’re a big family and most of us are from the (Torres) Strait,” she said.
Abbott Government needs a new course of action to win next election
DESPITE signing off on a series of significant policy triumphs, the Coalition hasn’t finished the year with a tick from the public in the opinion polls.
The reaction from some members of the government has followed a traditional path – blame the leadership. But it’s not Prime Minister Tony Abbott who has been the subject of the hushed water cooler conversations, it is his chief-of-staff Peta Credlin, the striking woman who cemented her place in the Liberal leadership office under Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull.
Targeting the chief-of-staff rather than the leader is also traditional. It would take a critical level of distress for MPs to brief against the Prime Minister.
Abbott faltered in his defence of Credlin on Friday when he moved into the gender mire exploited by former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard. “Do you really think that my chief of staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was P-E-T-E-R as opposed to P-E-T-A?” he told ABC television. “I think people need to take a long hard look at themselves with some of these criticisms.”
He said if people had a problem with his office they should bring the complaints to him. “This is the same office which ran a very effective opposition, it’s the same office which has got an enormous amount done this year sometimes under very difficult circumstances.”
All true. However, Credlin didn’t get her job because she’s a woman, far from it, and if and when she leaves it will have nothing to do with sexism.
Credlin’s gender is only an issue with feminists unhappy that her very presence in the prime ministerial (and previously Opposition leader’s) office undermined Gillard’s malicious claim that Abbott was a misogynist.
What the government is discovering is that being in government is markedly different from being in opposition and requires very different skill sets.
That being said, what is the actual criticism of Credlin? It is widely remarked that she is too controlling and that she went too far in vetting senior ministerial staff and over-stepped the mark when she demanded that some experienced veterans move to Canberra if they wished to remain in ranking roles in the Abbott government.
There is no doubt that the Coalition lost some very good people who did not wish to uproot their families to satisfy that demand, particularly those with spouses who could not meet that demand.
There is little point in comparing the operation of Abbott’s office to the manner in which either of his immediate predecessors’ affairs were handled. Both Gillard and Rudd let adolescents run the shop and it showed.
Then again, neither Gillard nor Rudd had as much parliamentary experience as Abbott when they took office nor did they have the benefit of working with a master like former Coalition prime minister John Howard.
Howard had three chiefs-of-staff during his nearly 12 years in office, none of them became media figures in their own right. They were Grahame Morris, Arthur Sinodinos and Tony Nutt.
Howard had a very rough first year. He set a very high standard for ministerial conduct which saw seven ministers resign in his government’s first 18 months in office.
Abbott’s poor polling can be put down to a number of different causes but the major weakness is its failure to sell its core message. It has failed to hammer home the message that Labor so badly mishandled the national wealth it plunged into ongoing debt that will affect future generations. Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen should be laughed out of court whenever he appears and criticises the government for its handling of the debt – it’s his debt, Labor’s debt that the government is trying to fix.
As Abbott has said he relies heavily on Credlin, he must ask himself whether her advice has been helpful or has it been ignored? Why has the government so spectacularly failed to meet public expectations? Has too much energy in the prime minister’s office gone into micro-managing and centralising of control, as the internal critics claim, at the expense of reminding the public of the simple and understandable narrative that the government used to win office?
There is either a lack of strategy or the government’s tactics need overhauling as the polls would indicate that they seem to have been ineffectual.
That communications from the Abbott government need overhauling – the lack of consultation with (even conservative) premiers about budgetary measures which dramatically affected their states – is self-evident.
It seems to have been caught flat-footed by the election of the PUPs and Independent senators.
Abbott has some breathing space over Christmas to consider why his government has not got its message through and decide a course of action.
Leaders are often forced to choose between what is best for their organisations and their loyalty to those who they believe have served them well but whose skills no longer match changing operational needs.
Abbott’s goal must be to win the next election and realise his nation-saving policies.
Need a budget 'narrative' - this is it
Forget insider words like 'message' and 'spin' and avert your eyes from the Senate railway wreckage. If the Abbott government wants to reset the budget debate here's what it should do.
The first step is to acknowledge past mistakes. In opposition, the Coalition underestimated the scope of the budgetary challenge they are now facing. In government, it has remained unable to articulate what budget problem they are trying to solve. Consequently, people don't believe the harsh budget is necessary and the government can't explain how their reforms will help.
The government has tried to scare the electorate with inflated projections of government debt and it wants us to be angry at Australia's monthly interest payments. This is the wrong approach; the real issue has always been the deficit. Fix the deficit and the debt will be manageable.
Having clarified the real problems and solutions, in the lead-up to next year's budget the next step is to convince the public of three things.
* Australia has a structural budget deficit stemming from Howard, Gillard and Rudd permanently increasing spending funded either by temporary revenue from the mining boom (Howard) or nothing (Rudd - Gillard).
* The Commonwealth now has to find tens of billions of dollars of additional funding in the medium term for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
* It also needs to find an additional 4% or 5% of GDP over the longer term to pay for the ageing of our population and rising health care costs.
While selling this message, the government must make crystal clear that these problems won't fix themselves - now or ever. Either spending has to be cut substantially or a huge amount of additional revenue has to be raised, and in both cases this burden will overwhelmingly fall on the middle class. Ordinary people will either get much less from government or pay much more (or both).
The final step is for government to convince itself that these hard choices are real. New spending through big (the medical research fund and massive gold-plated paid parental leave scheme) and small (marriage counselling vouchers) all must be dumped. Not renegotiated, not repackaged, not renewed - axed.
Furthermore, the government must never again produce a budget that implies increasing revenue from existing taxes will largely balance the budget. Governments have been waiting five years post the GFC for this to happen. It won't, as those tax forecasts have less substance than fairy floss; albeit being equally deftly spun.
Only once the government has done these things can it lay all the blame at the feet of intransigence in the Senate.
The obnoxious Human Rights Commission made to pull its horns in
Old bag Triggs at the head of it is a lying Leftist hack
THE federal government will carve $5 million from the Australian Human Rights Commission over the next three years in order to fund part of an extension for the child abuse royal commission, leading to job cuts and the shrinking of “key projects”.
In a letter to commission president Gillian Triggs obtained by The Australian, the Attorney-General, George Brandis, acknowledges the loss of funds will “temporarily affect the ordinary operations”.
The AHRC has singled out work with business on human rights and constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as crucial areas that will suffer.
In his letter, Mr Brandis argues that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which he extended for two years in September, is an important tool in the fight for the human rights of children.
“I believe it is critical that institutions responsible for the care of children be able to learn from the ongoing work of the inquiry and be better able to prevent child sexual abuse from happening in the future,” he writes. “The Australian Human Rights Commission is an appropriate source from which to draw a proportion of the offsets for this measure.
“The royal commission is a critical child rights measure for our nation and is consistent with Australia’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
The two-year extension will cost $125 million on top of $377m allocated. Mr Brandis said $1.6m would be stripped in 2015-16 and $1.7m for the two following years, to be announced in the government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.
The cuts are in addition to the $1.7m saving over four years announced in the budget, achieved by reducing the number of commissioners by one. The commission is also subject to a 2.25 per cent efficiency dividend over the forward estimates.
Commonwealth funding of the agency in 2015-16, when the new cuts begin, was projected to be $16.786m. The Coalition intends to fold the Privacy Commissioner into the AHRC — with an extra $5.5m in funding specifically for the independent privacy role — but this legislation has not been passed. The Australian understands staff at the agency — about 120 — would be slashed 10 per cent.
Professor Triggs said: “These cuts will have a profound impact on the ability of the commission to carry out its role as an independent human rights organisation.
“The commission is a small and lean organisation and does not have the ability to absorb a cut of this magnitude. There will be job losses and impacts on our core functions such as complaint handling and advocating on behalf of the disadvantaged.”
The commission handled about 21,000 inquiries and complaints in the past year and raises about $6m of its own revenue, although this must be spent on the projects that earn the income.
The Coalition has clashed frequently with the Human Rights Commission, announcing the instalment of Tim Wilson — on the record calling for its abolition — as Freedom Commissioner at the end of last year and accusing Professor Triggs of stalling on its inquiry into children in detention for political purposes.
Professor Triggs admitted she did not initiate the inquiry during Labor’s term because it was too close to an election and would be “highly politicised”. The commission’s report on that matter has been handed to government, but will not be tabled until next year.
Professor Triggs wants the cuts abandoned. “Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and in a healthy democracy this must include an independent human rights organisation that is free to speak out,” she said.
Community opposition stops Islamic boy's school in Far North Queensland
AN Islamic school proposed for Mareeba will not go ahead, but developers have not ruled out establishing the $70 million project elsewhere in the Far North.
Standard Bearers Academy has confirmed it will not be submitting a proposal for its boarding school to the Mareeba Shire Council.
The school, which was to be located on 40ha at Tinaroo Creek Rd, was to be Australia’s first Standard Bearers Academy.
The facility aimed to cater for about 1200, Year 5 to Year 12 boys, from across Australia, along with a small contingent of international students.
The school was to have an Islamic focus but it was promoted as a multi-denominational campus, open to all faiths and students with no religious beliefs.
In a statement released yesterday, Standard Bearers Academy said one of the original proponents of the school was no longer involved, which had temporarily halted the project.
“The board of directors have been considering a number of location options and while recognising the beauty of Mareeba, believe that there are more suitable places for a significant project of this size,’’ he said.
“Mareeba was initially selected because of its inspiring natural surroundings and for providing an ideal location for agricultural training, sporting and equestrian activities that the school intended to provide.
“The future location is yet to be decided.”
The spokesman said the project intended to provide a substantial economic, education and community benefit to the Mareeba shire.
“An initial investment of $70 million would have been injected into the local economy by providing employment and contracts to local tradespeople.
“SBA intended to provide employment opportunities to local residents in the field of hospitality, administration, landscaping and grounds keeping, and in the field of teaching and teacher support.
“It would have also been a substantial consumer of locally produced goods and services with the expected annual economic benefit to Mareeba Shire exceeding $20 million.”
The spokesman said the directors of the school remained committed to providing a state-of-the-art boarding school for students of all faiths.
“SBA wishes to thank all members of the Mareeba community who showed their support for the proposed project,’’ he said.
Mareeba Shire Mayor Tom Gilmore said it was difficult for the council to determine its position on the school, as there was no development application.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Martin Place Attack Not 'Lone Wolf'
Australians witnessed a terrifying hostage crisis Monday involving 17 people at the Lindt Chocolat Café in Sydney. Sadly, two hostages were killed and four were injured. The hostage taker, Man Haron Monis, was killed by Australian police officers when they raided the building. This incident should serve as a wake-up call to Australia and the rest of the world that Islamic extremism has no boundaries.
Monis was an Iranian-born Islamic extremist who, Fox News reports, “emigrated to Australia in 1996” after being granted asylum. He then became infamous “for his public campaign of writing letters to the families of fallen soldiers calling them ‘murderers’ and urging the recipients to lobby the government to withdraw from Afghanistan.” Talk about an ingrate. For that, he was charged with using the postal service for harassment, though in court he proclaimed himself a “peace activist.”
But worse, Fox adds, Monis was charged last year “in connection with the murder of his ex-wife,” and was “charged earlier this year with sexual assault” – more than 40 counts. He was free on bail at the time of the hostage taking.
Did we mention he used a firearm, which is banned in Australia?
The hostage-taking jihadist was also found to have written a letter on his own website where, Fox News also notes, he “accused Australia, Great Britain and the U.S. of ‘oppression and terrorism’ and posted images of dead children.” And for the disclaimer: He also “called for non-violent activism writing that ‘Islam is a religion of peace and a Muslim should be a peace activist.’” Is taking 17 people hostage at gunpoint being non-violent and peaceful?
His lawyer, Manny Conditsis, was quick to defend his client and distance his actions from terrorism or Islamic extremism. He stated, “This is a one-off random individual. It’s not a concerted terrorism event or act. It’s a damaged goods individual who’s done something outrageous.” Further, he laughably asserted, “His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness.” And we’re supposed to believe that?
Unfortunately, some do. CBS News' Bob Orr was quick to take the bait, saying, “This is almost the prototypical type attack that we believe lone wolves to be capable of.” Orr may believe this was just some loon acting of his accord, but even if he wasn’t specifically directed by a terrorist organization it only obscures the truth. YouTube videos showed three hostages relaying Monis' demands, as he wanted it known that this was an “attack on Australia by the Islamic State.”
Australia raised its terror level alert in September in response to threats from Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adani. In an audio message, he urged that lone-wolf attacks be carried out, including in Australia.
The Islamic State has yet to take credit for this attack, but, given the aforementioned rhetoric and the fact that the jihadist wanted an ISIL flag delivered to the cafe, it’s just a matter of time before they do.
Yet somehow, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott saw fit to declare, “The point I keep making is that the ISIL death cult has nothing to do with any religion, any real religion. … It is something to which sick individuals succumb, and sick individuals exist in all communities and in all societies.”
The Left will do everything possible to deceive people, claiming there is no connection between these attacks and Islam. They will continue to try to portray Islam as a Religion of Peace™. And they will continue to deny that these attacks are, as Mark Alexander notes, “directly tied to worldwide Jihad by way of the Qur'an, the foundational fabric linking all of Islamist violence.”
This jihadist in Australia was a radicalized cleric who, like many other such figures in America and elsewhere, preached hatred for the West. Until the world recognizes the threat of Islamic extremism for what it is, this and worse acts of violence will continue.
Purposefully refusing to identify an enemy for who they are and what they do will not make them go away. If anything, it will embolden them to carry out more heinous acts of violence.
Martin Place siege: Just another incident of "workplace violence"?
Please don’t jump to conclusions, this Islamic incident may have no connection to Islam. It may have nothing to do with mushrooming mosques where our destruction is planned and it may have nothing to do with ISIS’s atrocities and the jihadist flag may have nothing to do with jihadists.
A report that the police were flooded with calls from Islamic clerics asking if they could talk the terrorists into not harming anyone turned out to be false.
Another report that Islamic clerics had promised to “de-radicalise” Muslims who return from Syria if only we allow them back into Australia, turned out to be accurate.
Bill Shorten and Sarah Hanson-Young have asked for more inclusiveness and counselling for Islamic youths and have called for Muslim leaders to come to Canberra for tea and bickies. “We need their help”, both explained.
A report that Lindt Cafe has apologised for telling a number of halal certifiers to get fornicated also turned out to be accurate.
Christine Milne has called for compassion and understanding while Lee Rhiannon has asked if the terrorists need any halal food supplied, “It’s a stressful period for them too”, she explained.
Why the police acted as they did in Martin Place
NSW Police were right to try to negotiate with the gunman, according to a former senior police officer familiar with counter terrorism training.
"There is a very strong history that negotiations work and time does solve problems," said the former officer, who asked not to be named.
"The intention would have been to negotiate with him, to try to influence him. "The longer it goes, the more chance you have got, there is decades of evidence that is the best way.
"Unfortunately, in this case the risk rose dramatically and unexpectedly."
He said police involved in the Lindt cafe siege "train, train, train" and would have had a number of contingency plans in place "shortly after" it started.
The first would have been "to do something quickly in response to a major threat".
"I would say from what I have seen (that) plan had to be activated, they have obviously decided to go because of something occurring. "That something occurring was a shot being fired and the grave danger against the hostages."
He said if the gunman had in fact shot and killed a hostage, police had no choice but to go in.
Asked about a number of scenarios, including whether officers could have gone in though the roof to end the siege earlier, he said: "It depends on the access."
It was more likely they had a plan to enter covertly, perhaps though a fire exit or a back door.
Former NSW assistant commissioner Clive Small said going though the roof would "create a racket" and was not really an option.
"You are exposing yourself to gunfire and you're not in a position to fire back because you don't know where the hostages are."
Both Mr Small and the former officer were skeptical about theories the gunman could have been shot through the window.
Both said it appeared the gunman had shown himself early in the day, before snipers would have been in position and also before police were in possession of vital information, such as how many gunmen were in the café.
"It's a very dangerous thing to do, for a start you don't know what's going to happen to the projectile once it goes though the glass," said the former senior officer.
Asked who would have made the decision to go in, he said "the office of constable gives anyone (in the force) the power to make a decision if they feel a life is being threatened. "More likely than not, it would have been a supervisor."
The supervisor could have been a member of the heavily armed team or could have been a short distance away communicating by radio.
Information gleaned from the escaped hostages would have also informed the thinking of police, as would the criminal history of the gunman, Man Haron Monis.
There may have also been electronic evidence via a listening device that also informed the decision.
Mr Small said he thought it was significant the gunman "had no escape route." "It seems it was quite clear he had no plan on leaving there alive."
The former officer said the police involved were "very disciplined". "They are as good as anyone in Australia, or the world for that matter."
Another former NSW assistant police commissioner Ken McKay, who retired last year after 35 years in the service, said it was evident the strategy had been to "wait it out" and monitor events inside through observation and negotiation.
Mr McKay, who headed the first NSW Police Middle Eastern Organised crime Squad, said: "The main aim is to get everyone out safely – and a lot of the time, that includes the offender." But he added that when gunfire suddenly sounded inside the cafe, "that immediately changes the game." In that instance…when police are suddenly forced to go from negotiating and containing to attack…everything becomes different. With that, comes risk."
Federal government still trying to cut back on "renewable" energy target
ENVIRONMENT Minister Greg Hunt will meet rogue senator Jacqui Lambie in Hobart today as he begins courting the crossbench over the renewable energy target.
Mr Hunt is ramping up talks with the crossbench senators while Labor refuses to re-engage in negotiations. The opposition acknowledges the scheme needs bipartisan support, but has said it will not negotiate unless the government shifts on its “cut of 40 per cent to the RET”.
Senator Lambie, who will drive from Burnie to Hobart to meet Mr Hunt, said she was “encouraged” by a letter from the minister yesterday.
In the letter, obtained by The Australian, Mr Hunt says he appreciates “the pressures faced by businesses around the country, including in Tasmania” and looks “forward to constructive discussions with the opposition”.
A spokeswoman for Mr Hunt said he was travelling to Tasmania “for a range of meetings relating to his portfolio”. The government was “hopeful” Labor would return to the table and was “willing to hear the suggestions and proposals from the crossbench and will negotiate with the crossbench should Labor refuse to re-engage”.
Senator Lambie urged the government and opposition to restart RET talks, saying renewable energy providers “deserve some certainty”.
Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm, meanwhile, said he was “confident” at least six of the crossbench senators supported his controversial plan to bring existing hydro into the target. Senator Leyonhjelm, who met with Mr Hunt last week, said the minister was also “interested”. The Australian could only confirm Family First senator Bob Day and independent senator John Madigan as supportive.
Whining kid wins anti-discrimination case
Yet more evidence that such laws are too sweeping
In a David and Goliath-esque battle in Queensland's Civil and Administrative Tribunal, a jobseeker has taken on supermarket giant Woolworths alleging discrimination – and won.
In December 2013, then-unemployed Steven Willmott, of the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Beerwah, applied for an advertised job as a console operator at a Woolworths-operated service station in the town.
He commenced his application through the company's online application portal but did not complete it, unable to continue unless he submitted mandatory fields demanding his date-of-birth, his gender and proof of his right to work in Australia.
The required information was, QCAT senior member Richard Oliver ruled, both offensive and humiliating to Mr Wilmott, who described himself as "sickened beyond belief" at Woolworths disregard for Australian anti-discrimination laws.
"I infer from this statement that he was embarrassed and humiliated in being compelled to provide the offending information before his application could progress," Mr Oliver ruled.
"Because of this he did not proceed with the application and therefore was not considered for the position.
"He is a local resident of the community in which the position of console operator was advertised and he believes he would have had prospects of being successful."
The ruling, made in Brisbane last month after a hearing in September, ordered Woolworths pay $5000 in compensation to Mr Willmott by December 19.
In its defence, Woolworths said it asked for the details partly to comply with Commonwealth legislation, in regards to the right to work in Australia requirement.
It also argued differing rates of pay for employees under and over the age of 21, the potential to work in its BWS liquor outlets and differentiating between its 190,000 employees Australia-wide justified the date of birth requirement.
The company argued the mandatory gender information was a simple way for it to comply with the Federal Government's Workplace Gender Equality Instrument.
However, Mr Oliver noted that since Mr Wilmott had taken discrimination action, all three requirements had been removed from the Wooloworths online application process, prior to the September hearing.
He rejected their defence of all three elements.
"Despite the sophisticated argument mounted by Woolworths counsel, I have found in the pertaining circumstances, the information sought by Woolworths was not reasonably necessary," he said.
However, in determining the amount to award Mr Wilmott, Mr Oliver said he had not produced any evidence of other positions for which he had applied to which any claim for loss of income could be determined.
"At best, and putting the claim for loss of income at its highest, his claim for compensation is limited to the loss of a chance that he may have been successful in his application, if Woolworths had not engaged in the conduct he complained of," he ruled.
He said the $5000 figure he determined took into account embarrassment, humiliation and some notional amount for loss of a chance.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Sydney siege ends: Family of ex-wife furious gunman on bail
The family of Noleen Hayson Pal, the slain ex-wife of the Sydney siege gunman, have expressed their anger that he was not behind bars.
Man Haron Monis, 50, who was shot dead by police in the early hours of Tuesday morning, was on bail after being charged with being an accessory before and after the fact to the 2013 murder of Pal.
Pal's "god brother" Talat Khalik, who lives in California, posted a series of furious comments about Monis on Facebook. "Thats systems tere f***d up but im still happy he.died [sic]," Mr Khalik, who refers to Pal as his sister, posted on his Facebook page. "Fu**n lucky tey got u before we did now.rest in hell f****n asshole [sic]."
He also posted a picture of himself with his arm around Noleen, writing: "Noleen miss u [sic]".
His mother, Momina Khalik, who also lives in California, said Monis should have been in custody. "y the first place they let him free on the sydney streets they should have let him rot in the jail his a f****n sick animal [sic]," she posted.
Pal, 30, was stabbed multiple times and set alight in a western Sydney unit block in April 2013.
Monis and his then partner, Amirah Droudis, were both charged over the murder but they were given bail on December 12 last year. "It is a weak case," Magistrate William Pierce said at the time of the bail application.
Pal's godfather Ayuut Khalik said the first time he met Monis he didn't like him. "They should have put him away and thrown away the key," he told NBC News.
"Who do you blame? The Australian government? The judicial system?" he said.
Mr Khalik said that Monis and Pal had two sons.
Monis, a self-styled sheik, made Pal wear a hijab and stopped her from contacting non-Muslims, he said. "We found out he was hitting her and stuff, and he was telling his kids white people are bad."
Mr Khalik said when Pal came to stay with his family in California for a month last year he told her to be safe.
Sydney siege: A failure of gun control
As ever, the crooks can get guns. It's the decent people who are prevented from protecting themselves
The siege in Sydney's CBD and its terrible end received saturation coverage on American cable news, with at least one commentator lamenting Australia's tough gun laws.
Speaking on Fox News after police stormed the Lindt cafe, Charles Hurt, a writer with the conservative newspaper The Washington Times and a Fox News contributor, said: "These people are hell bent to kill innocent people … In a free society there is nothing you can do about it. You can't prevent all these things from happening, which is why most Americans, when they see this stuff play out … they think about guns and it is why they think about personal gun ownership and being able to protect yourself, protect your family and protect your neighbours.
"I think it is sort of interesting that, in Australia, they have banned guns, just about all guns, for personal ownership, yet somehow this insane killer managed to get himself a shotgun," Hurt said.
The host of the program added that after "a couple massacres in Australia there was massive gun control in that country, where people turned in their weapons because they did not want to have them any more and this was sort of hailed by gun control advocates as the poster child for the way things should be. "A number of folks said this should be in the United States."
Another guest noted that this was something that could happen anywhere, with or without gun control.
An Australian who occasionally appears on Fox programs, Nick Adams, wrote a piece for the Fox website saying: "Monday's events have also prompted Australians to revisit their gun laws.
"The United Kingdom has had two beheadings of members of the public in the last two years, with neither police nor civilians able to prevent it. It also has prohibitive gun laws," he wrote. "Australians are looking to America, and not the UK for guidance."
The gun debate was also raised on CNN, when host Chris Cuomo said to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy: "You get a plus/minus from situations like this on a signature cause of yours, namely gun control in the United States.
"We believe the man in Sydney has a shotgun, an old-fashioned shotgun. If he did, that would be an illegal weapon there."
"When you look at what the risk is in the United States, generally men like this are involving themselves with weapons but it also creates pressure on people who want weapons so that they can defend themselves against citizens who decide to lose it and become sympathisers of terrorism.
No terrorists here
Greenies harassing banks over carbon
ANZ Bank's lending to big carbon emitters is set to come into focus at this week's annual meeting of shareholders, after other banks have boosted their disclosure of climate-change risks.
Investors will on Thursday vote on a proposal to change the constitution to force ANZ to publish the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the company is financing via loans and investments.
It comes as banks globally face growing pressure to consider the financial risks they may face from lending to companies with large carbon footprints.
Proxy advisers are recommending shareholders vote against the resolution, which was also put to CBA investors and rejected by a large margin.
Nonetheless, ANZ's rivals have also taken steps to disclose more information about their carbon exposure.
NAB, which also has its annual general meeting on Thursday, was facing the same resolution, from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, but it was withdrawn after the bank agreed to publish more detail on its exposure to climate-change risks in 2015.
CBA also agreed to provide more detail on how much of its loan book is exposed to fossil fuels. At its annual general meeting last month, 3.2 per cent of shareholders voted in favour of the resolution.
In a note to investors, CGI Glass Lewis says ANZ could face some risk through its financed emissions but it may not be practical or even possible to collect all the information required by the resolution. It is advising shareholders to vote against the proposal.
"Given the trend in increased regulation and a heightened sense of awareness among some regulators concerning ensuring the mitigation of the effects of climate change, it is likely that part of the company's loan book could be affected," the note said.
"However, we are not convinced that adoption of this proposal is in the company or its shareholders' best interests at this time."
The lobby group behind the proposal argues that of the big four banks, ANZ is the most exposed to climate-change risks because of its role as a big lender to the resources sector.
The debate is occurring amid a growing focus on banks' exposure to borrowers who would be affected by climate change policies.
The Bank of England this month reportedly commenced an inquiry into the risk of a "carbon bubble" – a financial shock caused by efforts to mitigate climate change.
Westpac did not face the resolution because ACCR research has found it was the least carbon-exposed to climate risks of the big four. All the same, a significant share of the questions put to chairman Lindsay Maxsted at the bank's AGM on Friday focused on how the bank was responding to climate change in its lending decisions.
Aside from carbon, ANZ investors will also have a non-binding vote on chief executive Mike Smith's remuneration, which rose 3.7 per cent to $10.7 million.
NAB cut the pay of its its former boss Cameron Clyne by more than $1 million to $6 million after disappointing financial results for the bank.
Must not mention the absence of Aborigines
The developer who partnered with the Aboriginal Housing Company to redevelop The Block in Redfern has been forced to explain why an advertisement for a development completed in 2012 stated that Aborigines had "moved out" of the suburb.
The owner and director of DeiCorp Construction, Fouad Deiri, says that the statement on the website of Sydney-based Great Fortune Investments had "not been worded correctly". Great Fortune Investments was engaged by DeiCorp in 2010 to market Redfern's 19-storey Deicota Apartments to local and international Asian investors.
But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda says that the developer is "guilty-by-association" and that the incident should lead to a rethink as to whether they're the right partners for The Block.
"I've been out and about in Redfern and they're pretty pissed off," says Mr Gooda. "They reckon there's got to be some sorting out of this."
The advertisement, which was removed from Great Fortune Investment's website earlier this week after being flagged by The Australian, said that: "'The aboriginals [sic] have already moved out, now Redfern as [sic] the last virgin suburb close to city, it will have great potential for the capital growth in the near future."
Mr Deiri points to their Chinese origins and says that it was grammatical failure. "The Block was being relocated at the time and it was a point about the relocation," he says.
That doesn't wash with Mr Gooda who says that he's both outraged and saddened by the comments in the advertisement. "What were they trying to say by referencing Aboriginal people?" he says. "What are we? Noxious weeds or something?" [No. Problem people who are often drunk and pestering in public]
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Bonfire of the bureaucracies
ALMOST 200 government agencies will be scrapped in a new search for budget savings, as the Abbott government lights a “bonfire of the quangos” to eliminate waste and help deal with deepening deficits that will be revealed on Monday.
Working groups will be shut down and expensive agencies dismantled in a bid to streamline the public service, saving more than $500 million over four years and taking staff numbers back to the levels of seven years ago.
Health and education will be next in the hunt for redundant agencies when the government sends experts into both major federal departments to find potential savings.
The Weekend Australian can reveal the 175 agencies to be cut include the Australian Government Solicitor as well as obscure committees such as a “governance board” on computer systems and a “partnership group” on student services. While the AGS had been seen as a potential asset sale, the government will instead close it down and transfer some of its staff to the Attorney-General’s Department in order to scale back overall spending.
Some agencies will be forced to share their “back-office” functions while the government will consider outsourcing a huge communications network that links 400 sites and more than 80 agencies.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will announce the cuts alongside new rules to try to stop the creation of new agencies that clog the bureaucracy and slow down decisions.
“This will ensure that taxpayer funds are spent wisely and efficiently and not wasted inside departments,” Senator Cormann told The Weekend Australian.
Admitting the growing pressure on the nation’s finances, Joe Hockey conceded yesterday the government could not produce a budget surplus by 2018 as hoped, the result of a shortfall in tax revenue as iron ore prices tumble.
“The challenge has been that we have seen our export prices come off dramatically,” the Treasurer said.
“Now, we rely more on iron ore export income than Australia ever has before. It is about a fifth of our exports. So when you see a dramatic price fall in commodities, it now hits our bottom line harder than previously. We have got to deal with that.”
Bill Shorten hit back at Mr Hockey’s admission yesterday that the government “could have done more marketing” to explain the budget. “Families are suffering from cuts of $6000 to their budget, millions of sick Australians are being forced to pay a GP tax, students face $100,000 degrees and every motorist is paying more in petrol tax — and Joe Hockey is worried about marketing?” the Opposition Leader said.
“This explains the government’s plans for a big expensive advertising campaign on their new GP tax and their $100,000 degrees. No amount of slick marketing will convince Australians that this budget is fair or delivering on the promises Tony Abbott made at the last election.”
Economists expect the mid-year budget update on Monday to reveal a deficit this year of about $40 billion, up from $29.8bn forecast in the May budget.
Senator Cormann launched the first stages of a “smaller government program” in the May budget, closing down 76 agencies and starting the sale of Defence Housing Australia, the Royal Australian Mint and Australian Hearing.
The sale of Medibank Private recouped $5.7bn, about $1bn more than expected, and the health insurance company is now listed on the sharemarket.
Senator Cormann will announce the next phase of the program on Monday with the closure of 175 agencies, taking the total number of entities abolished to 251. The savings from the overall effort will reach $539.5m over four years.
“Our focus is on ensuring that the administration of government is as efficient and as effective as possible,” Senator Cormann said.
“This means a more streamlined, accountable and responsive public service, without unnecessary overlaps and duplication.”
The AGS has 590 lawyers and other staff and charges departments for its services, producing revenue of $112.7m and income of $3.9m last year.
The decision will come as a shock to the legal community but could be a taste of things to come, with Monday’s announcement also including a new approach to using private services to replace public agencies.
A “contestability program” will assess whether some government functions should be open to competition so that private providers are encouraged to offer services.
“Alternative delivery approaches will continue to be explored,” says one of the documents to accompany the announcement.
The departments of health and education are named as two of the priorities for further work on “streamlining” the bureaucracy, amid a growing furore over job cuts and strike action in pay disputes.
Mr Abbott and his colleagues have come under fire for refusing to offer more than a 1.5 per cent pay rise to Defence Force personnel, setting this as a benchmark for the entire public sector. Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood called the government’s negotiating position on wage claims a “train wreck” on Wednesday as union members took industrial action to seek higher pay.
“It’s a little rich for politicians to preach restraint to Medicare mums on $55,000 a year, when pollies’ pay rises have run 41 per cent above inflation over the last decade,” Ms Flood told the ABC.
“The key issue here is in fact not pay; it is the attack on the conditions and rights of these workers.”
The government’s broader strategy is to scale back the public service so that total staff numbers return to the levels seen in 2007, when Kevin Rudd took power and launched dozens of inquiries and reviews that set up new agencies.
Monday’s announcement will note that salaries for public servants have grown 42 per cent over the past decade compared with inflation of 28 per cent.
There is no official estimate of the number of jobs to be cut by scrapping or merging agencies, but a “bonfire of the quangos” in Britain in recent years was estimated to save £2.5bn over five years.
Senator Cormann sees the Australian exercise as a similar way to eradicate “quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations”.
He said the reviews of the health and education departments would “identify any legacy programs that are no longer a high priority, identify barriers to performance and look for opportunities to reassign limited resources to better deliver on higher policy priorities”.
Supercilious Leftist Mike Carlton comes a cropper
Mike Carlton, whose own book missed out, attacks Hal Colebatch’s book on war-time union bastardry for winning a Prime Minister’s literary award:
"In October 1945, [Colebatch] says, [returning prisoners of war] were held penned-up on a British aircraft carrier, HMS Speaker, which had brought them home. The wharfies would not allow them ashore to meet their loved ones for 36 hours… Colebatch gives his only source for this nonsense as a letter from one W.S. Monks, dated 1995, 50 years after the event and 20 years ago. He does not reveal who this Monks might be, but there was no soldier or POW of that name in WWII"
Roger Franklin in Quadrant on-line:
"According to Carlton, who fancies himself a naval historian, no Australian by the name of W.S. Monks ever served beneath the AIF’s Rising Sun or fell into the hands of the Japanese… What about an hourlong interview with the man who doesn’t exist?"
Just another morning of the ABC’s pet warming activists
Of course the ABC is not biased.
True, ABC Melbourne 774 got its update on the Lima global warming talks this morning from Erwin Jackson of the alarmist Climate Institute, sponsored by green carpetbaggers, and treated him like a dispassionate authority.
Sure ABC Radio National today interviewed Tim Flannery, head of the alarmist Climate Council, as if he, too, were a dispassionate expert, not even asking that he declare his own vested interests or explain any of his countless dud predictions. Heck, the interviewer didn’t even laugh at the irony of Flannery denouncing “scaremongers”, and ended by noting what a “privilege” it was to talk to the old scaremonger himself.
No, the ABC isn’t biased at all. I mean, isn’t everyone a Greens voting, Abbott-hating, Billy Bragg-playing global warming alarmist?
When will the ABC be forced to live up to its statutory duty to offer balance and a range of voices?
Abbott’s barnacle removal essential to Liberal reboot
TONY Abbott’s barnacle removal operation is in full swing — his compromises are essential and belated but progress will be slow given the government’s internal dysfunction and its brand problem with the voters.
The keys to the Prime Minister’s re-positioning lie in reshaping his policies, forcing the public to confront the economic and fiscal challenge, breaking down Senate crossbench resistance and laying the basis for a stable message running to the next election.
Abbott, however, has waited too long to recast his tactics. Those lost months come at a high price. They mean that rather than re-position with authority, his policy compromises are now cast as part of a survival operation.
They risk being devalued via a dangerous set of internal tensions — fear within the Coalition it might become a one-term government, senior ministers positioning with an eye to their own interests, a damaging public conversation about Abbott’s personal office and a media perception of a trouble-prone government that becomes self-reinforcing.
For Abbott, the frustrations are immense since the government’s problems are overwhelmingly self-inflicted. The Prime Minister remains in good spirits, resilient assertive and confident.
Yet the frustrations break through; witness his defence of his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, yesterday saying to the ABC that she wouldn’t face this criticism if her name were P-e-t-e-r and not P-e-t-a. That astonishing claim of sexism won’t impress his senior ministers.
The main task is manifest but still not accomplished — it is to recast the economic narrative.
Reality, however, is on Abbott’s side in this project. The fact the government, despite setbacks, is sticking by a budget consolidation over time involving community sacrifice highlights the inescapable fiscal story.
Economic management will be the dominant issue at the next election. The task for Abbott and his ministers will be to send a stable and consistent message based on growth, economic restructuring, infrastructure and a fiscal consolidation.
Joe Hockey concedes the return to surplus timetable in four years now needs to be pushed back. This is bowing to the inevitable. The deficit is higher but with unemployment rising, the priority is to keep the economy strong. Like Abbott, the Treasurer said 2015 would see “more of a conversation” with the public.
“We made a mistake,” Hockey said yesterday. There had been too much focus on “outcomes rather than process” in 2014. The budget update next week will be ugly. It looms, however, as a critical test for Hockey since it is an opportunity to focus on the reality of the fiscal task confronting the nation.
The speculation about Hockey’s future as Treasurer should now be over but, incredibly for Abbott, it is replaced by speculation about Credlin’s role, an issue brought to a head by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
It is false to think the barnacle operation makes the Senate less important. Just the reverse. The political message is Abbott’s renewed commitment to negotiate with the Senate crossbenchers to secure in 2015 his two pivotal compromise packages — a revised GP co-payment and modified university reform deal.
Legislating these two policies is crucial. They would bring a rough form of political closure to the debilitating May budget, the most unpopular for a generation. Abbott and Hockey need these policy measures, the political victory they offer and the ability to move to the second budget with more confidence.
This demands a more astute approach to the Senate crossbenchers plus a sustained sales job to the public on both the Medicare and university changes. Substituting an optional $5 GP co-payment with pensioners, concessional card holders, children under 16 and veterans exempted instead of the original $7 co-payment makes the package far more attractive. Labor won’t budget on the fundamentals. Bill Shorten’s reply was typical: it is still a GP tax, still a broken promise, and this is about Abbott protecting himself, not caring for the weak and vulnerable.
The Palmer United Party sounds hostile. Failure to legislate these packages in 2015 will threaten to keep the government in the electoral death zone. Whether the Senate will begin to display some responsibility for the fiscal burden facing all Australians defies prediction.
The scale of political irresponsibility will force a reckoning at some point. With more than $25 billion in savings yet to be passed, Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said the issue was whether Australia had a sustainable fiscal position over the medium term. He said for the past five years people had voted for “good things” from government but without voting for the revenue to pay for it.
In his final speech, outgoing Treasury chief Martin Parkinson said the nation “has a structural problem at the heart of the budget” and that without action we face “a decade of deficits, rising debt” and limited policy ability to manage future shocks.
The leading economic officials can only issue warnings to the community. The alarming feature of the parliament is that it considers matters issue by issue and never considers the nation’s overall fiscal situation.
This week’s barnacle removal has been a mixed bag. Ideally, Abbott should have gone much further in retreating on his paid parental leave scheme and linking it to a revised childcare policy. The Opposition Leader’s response was predictable: having bagged the PPL policy all year he accused Abbott of a “signature broken promise” when he changed it.
Abbott’s aim is to rekindle his electoral base with a 2015 families package that will better target parental leave, creating room for investment to deliver more affordable childcare. It seems sure to confront problems in the Senate.
Abbott presented the new $5 co-payment as a “better policy” now replacing a previously “good policy”. Frankly, this sort of language won’t cut the mustard. It doesn’t penetrate to the core issue. Abbott’s starting position must be that Medicare is financially unsustainable. Labor denies this — it is the reason Labor opposes any co-payment in principle.
The risk for the government, however, is that it has not properly road-tested the revised measure and could be left again facing an obstructionist Senate. Mark Textor, the Liberal Party’s pollster and once a pivotal adviser, was not involved in testing the acceptability of the GP revamp.
At the same time this week the government, in fits and starts, has moved towards a welcome adjustment of its climate change position. In a symbolic and necessary backflip, Abbott announced a qualified pledge of $200 million over four years to the Green Climate Fund that he once dismissed as Bob Brown’s bank.
Julie Bishop’s high-profile role at the Lima conference is the sort of political tonic the government needed. Bishop has no truck with climate sceptics. As a pragmatist, she believes Australia must embrace substantial and proportionate targets beyond 2020. Her role as lead negotiator on this issue injects her into the domestic politics of climate change over the next two years. Abbott’s opposition to carbon pricing and his determination to make this an electoral plus still requires a credible target and emissions reduction policy. The fact power prices are easing means political momentum for ambitious emission reduction plans may only intensify.
As the government gets ready for the summer break it has two new chiefs in the key public service positions — Michael Thawley in Prime Minister and Cabinet and John Fraser at Treasury, starting next month. Much pre-Christmas housekeeping is being conducted.
A prime minister’s work is never done. Abbott needs to spend more time with his backbenchers. He needs a better cabinet process than has applied for much of 2014. And his senior ministers need to be less indulgent and more focused on the collective interests of the government.
Pivotal to the government’s future will be sorting out relations between senior ministers and the Credlin-led PM’s office. That means eliminating bad news stories that arise from poor process, excessive centralisation of power and ministers feeling they cannot get through to the PM.
There is no doubt the Victorian election result has added to the de-stabilisation within the government. The focus from early next year, however, will be the NSW election where Liberal Premier Mike Baird should score a resounding victory.
It is easy to overlook how different are the state politics of Victoria and NSW. When John Brumby’s ALP government lost in Victoria it was a close contest devoid of any general revulsion against Labor. The opposite was the case in NSW, where there was a long pent-up hostility towards NSW Labor that triggered the big change of government four years ago. That sentiment still exists; it is weaker but it has not been purged.
Health Services Union crooks ordered to pay back $8 million
THE mistress of former Health Services Union boss Michael Williamson has been ordered to repay almost $4 million allegedly rorted from the union.
In total former associates of the disgraced HSU boss were ordered to repay more than $8 million.
On Thursday the NSW Supreme Court ordered former union procurement manager Cheryl McMillan to pay the HSU $3.7 million following an early 2005 scheme in which the company Access Focus invoiced the union for supplies at an inflated rate.
The union was also trying to recover an extra $611,000 in misappropriated funds from McMillan, which the court heard was deposited in a bank account between 2005 and 2011.
Justice Richard White said this would amount to a double recovery.
But he ultimately found in favour of the HSU and ordered McMillan to pay $3,775,806.13 to the union — an amount that also included interest and court costs. “She also was a recipient of bribes. The bribes she received were a component of the losses that the union suffered,” Justice White said.
Access Focus owner Alf Downing has also been ordered to repay the union $4,328,492.70, which like McMillan’s penalty includes interest and court costs.
Williamson was jailed in March for five years for defrauding millions of dollars from the HSU. A judgment of $5 million was made against him in October last year but he reportedly declared bankruptcy. Downing and McMillan have both filed petitions seeking to be declared bankrupt, the HSU said.
The HSU has been rocked by corruption scandals in recent times with former federal MP Craig Thomson found guilty of defrauding the union. He is appealing against a three-month jail sentence, with a decision expected on Monday in Melbourne.
HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes told AAP he was pleased with McMillian decision. “We have pursued these people for the past two years and this case shows the extent of the funds that were taken from HSU members,” said HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes. “We intend to continue with other forms of recovery action.”
The court was told the long-running scam involved Downing getting 50 per cent of the inflated invoice, while Williamson and McMillan would split the remaining 50 per cent. McMillan was not present in court on Thursday, nor did she mount a defence to the union’s claim.
Monday, December 15, 2014
"Trousers" Fraser, the most loathed ex-conservative Prime Minister, is at it again
He did a great deal to win approval from the Left while in office but very little for conservatives -- so he hasn't actually changed much. Conservatives have long loathed him for winning office as a conservative and then failing to live up to it. His loss of his trousers one mysterious night in Memphis Tennesse has always been amusing, however
On Wednesday night former Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser gave this speech at the opening of brand new premises for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).
Among other spiteful and dangerous claims, Fraser said: "Even with good government, there would still be important areas which ASRC would fill, but it would be a lesser role than that which ASRC is forced to play, as a result of the present government's policies. Australia's name has been damaged around the world. We are known as the most inhumane, the most uncaring, the most selfish of all the wealthy countries. It used not to be that way"
Malcolm Fraser is paid by us - according to this News Limited report he cost us $1.3M for a 2 and a half year period in perks alone. He also gets a very generous pension, the quarter of a million dollars every year in perks is additional.
I'd have thought that taking the money places a moral burden on Mr Fraser to act with some loyalty to Australia in his public role, even if he doesn't feel loyal himsel. But Fraser has no compunction in trashing the reputation of the nation that's paying him to represent it. If he can't find it in himself to act loyally, paid or unpaid, perhaps he might consider just telling the truth.
Fraser does much to curry favour with his young Greens groupies. Perhaps that was his motivation in making this outrageous statement about Australia: "Australia's name has been damaged around the world. We are known as the most inhumane, the most uncaring, the most selfish of all the wealthy countries".
There are a few ways to measure the wealth of nations. One popular method is GDP per capita, that is the national income divided by the number of people. It's also known as Purchasing Power Parity per capita - the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and CIA are among the organisations who put wealth ranking tables together using methods like these.
We average somewhere around #14 on the rankings. Ahead of us are such human rights luminaries as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman. But former PM tells the world that Australia is the most inhumane, the most uncaring and the most selfish of the "wealthy" people.
That might go down well with Sarah Hanson Young and other adoring bright young things but it's hardly borne out by the facts.
He spoke of the "hundreds" of asylum seeker children currently in detention. He cast doubts on Scott Morrison's personal integrity talking about "inducements" the Minister offered cross bench senators to pass legislation to reduce Labor's backlog of children in detention. Fraser said this of the now legislation passed by the Parliament, "the minister offered that 106 children will be allowed out of detention from Christmas Island, but can we believe him?"
Today News Limited reports on Attorney General George Brandis's speech at a human rights awards ceremony at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Arts last night, saying Brandis:
"...asked the audience to celebrate International Human Rights Day by noting that most of the 1992 children who were in detention when the Coalition came to office last year have now been released.
This factual statement was greeted with a smattering of reluctant applause from about a dozen of the 400 or so in the angrily self-righteous crowd.
Brandis went on to say all children detained on Christmas Island would be out before Christmas — to no applause. “All of the children in detention will have been released by the early months of next year and we will be back to where we were in November, 2007, when the number of children in detention was zero,” he said.
“And of course the other number zero, which I think ought to be celebrated by all of us, is the fact that 2014 was the first year since 2008 in which we can confidently say that no children, and no adults, died at sea on asylum seeker vessels.”
There was not a murmur from the mulish crowd, resentful a Coalition minister exposed the fact it was the disastrous policies of the Labor-Green-independent governments between 2007 and 2013 that were responsible for deaths at sea and the detention of children.
There was not a whimper from a mob usually so ready to bray its unquestioning support for people such as Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs (one of last night’s award winners), who earlier this year falsely accused the government of using armed guards to maintain security at Christmas Island and falsely claimed that up to 10 women had attempted suicide while in detention, among other fabrications.
About 1,600 people drowned as a consequence of Labor's "sugar on the table" method of inbound maritime immigration management. Fraser doesn't seem to mind, he didn't speak about that at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
Struggling farmers escape eviction as bank backs down
THE ANZ Bank has promised to stop evicting drought-stricken farmers from their land for the next 12 months, as public anger mounts at homeless farm families living destitute in many Queensland country towns.
The bank yesterday imposed an immediate moratorium on all forced farm foreclosures in drought-affected west and north Queensland and northern NSW until December next year.
ANZ Australia chief executive Phil Chronican said the bank wanted to be on the “front foot” in recognising and reacting to the growing problem. He acknowledged the bank hoped to dampen mounting political and community anger at so many farmers being forced from their homes and land by the banks at a time of severe drought.
“We’ve been aware there have been areas of extreme stress that have had this extended drought,” Mr Chronican said. “It’s a relatively small part of the country but with growing public concern over these (farm foreclosures), we wanted to be on the front foot to diffuse concerns.”
The move by ANZ comes after Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce used an interview with The Australian to issue an ultimatum to the major banks to stop throwing farmers off the land or risk government intervention.
A debt crisis rally at Winton in northwest Queensland last Friday was told of 46 farmers pushed from their land by the banks in the Longreach region in the past six months and 40 more farms for sale in the Gulf country.
North Queensland federal MP Bob Katter yesterday vowed to “name and shame” every bank trying to throw farmers off their land in the midst of a record three-year drought that has gripped 80 per cent of Queensland. Mr Katter called on the public to let him know of every distressed property or farmer under bank pressure, so he could publicise details unbound by confidentiality and suppression orders imposed by the banks on involved farmers.
The ANZ Bank has been at the forefront of public anger at farm evictions, after The Australian published the case of 80-year-old Charlie Phillott, pushed from his home of 54 years, Carisbrooke station, near Winton, in March by the ANZ. Mr Phillott said yesterday the ANZ moratorium was “wonderful news”.
But he said it was too early to tell if it might make a difference to his own situation, or if he and his wife Anne might be back living amid the Mitchell grass plains and rugged jump-up country by Christmas. “If I can get this property back, that would be the greatest turnaround by a bank in my lifetime,” Mr Phillott said. “I think very good things may come of this.”
Other banks are expected to follow the ANZ’s lead, with the Commonwealth Bank to announce its own “drought support package” today. NAB said foreclosure was a “very rare” action for it to take against agribusiness customers.
The ANZ announcement includes a moratorium on all new farm repossessions until December 2015, a 12-month commitment not to increase interest rates on distressed farms, and interest rate relief in cases of extreme distress, in an attempt to address the current farm debt challenges in Queensland. The bank has also pledged not to put any farm businesses into receivership or to increase existing mortgage interest rates on loans to drought-affected farmers.
It will halt the practice of hiking interest rates up to 12 per cent and beyond as a “penalty” rate when farm loans are reclassed by the bank as at-risk and a mediation process begins, which inevitably starts rapid slide towards foreclosure. In cases of extreme stress, interest rate “relief” or easing will be offered by the ANZ to existing loan customers in mediation talks with the banks, or who are struggling to repay their debts.
Mr Joyce welcomed the ANZ moratorium, saying he much preferred the banks to manage their own situations.
Australian jobs growth at 2 ½ year high but unemployment increases
EMPLOYMENT growth is at its strongest level in 2½ years, but that hasn’t stopped the national jobless rate from rising to a new 12-year peak.
Unemployment hit 6.3 per cent last month, in line with market forecasts and up from 6.2 per cent in October.
There was better news in Queensland, with the jobless rate falling from 7.1 per cent in October to 6.9 per cent last month. That was the largest decrease in seasonally adjusted unemployment across the nation, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Premier Campbell Newman welcomed the improved state figures. “We’re going to continue to work hard to rev up employment, to ensure that anybody who wants a job gets a job,” Mr Newman said.
Asked whether three years would be enough to reach the Government’s long-standing target of 4 per cent unemployment, Mr Newman said “we’re going to bust our gut to actually make this happen”.
The total number of people with jobs soared by 42,700 nationally, almost triple what economists were expecting. But most growth was in the part-time employment sector, with full-time job numbers up only 1800.
CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said the main reason the unemployment rate rose was because more people were looking for work. “Contrary to the headline lift in the unemployment rate, the job market is in decent shape,” he said.
“A healthier economy, improved job prospects, and more importantly a noted lift in job advertisements over the past six months has resulted in more people searching for work, with an ongoing lift in the participation rate.”
The participation rate – those who have a job, are looking for work or are ready to start work – rose to a four-month high of 64.7 per cent.
Randstad employment market analyst Steve Shepherd described the rise in unemployment as tiny. “What we can take from the numbers is there is increasing jobseeker confidence in the Australian jobs market,” he said.
Mr Shepherd attributed the big jump in part-time work to the availability of more temporary work as businesses began hiring for the busy Christmas period.
Four current articles below
Greens hunt academic ‘witches’
A dragon: South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright. She wants to know: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of a free-market organization?"
THE notorious US anti-communism campaigner Joe McCarthy would be proud — the Australian Senate has adopted his tactics in pursuit of independent think tanks. [NOTE: The "Are you now ..." question was actually asked in the HUAC hearings, not by Joe McCarthy. McCarthy was a Senator so had nothing to do with HUAC. HUAC was a Democrat outfit]
Instead of “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?”, a Senate estimates committee is asking whether particular academics and specialists are “connected” with the Institute of Public Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies.
The federal Education Department has emailed a dozen or more subject specialists who contributed to the national curriculum review.
The correspondence begins: “The department has received a number of questions from Senate estimates. The specific question is: ‘If any of the reviewers who were appointed are connected with the Institute of Public Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies?’ ”
It says it “would be appreciated if you could respond to this question” by Monday. Some of the recipients and both organisations have lashed out at what they see as an insulting intrusion.
“This is outright McCarthyism,” IPA deputy director James Paterson said. “It is pretty much ‘Are you now or have you even been a member of the IPA?’ ”
University of Wollongong historian Greg Melleuish said he was happy to answer the question because he had “nothing to hide”.
The issue was the “motives of the people asking the questions” rather than the department following up. The person who asked the question was South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright, who raised it at an October hearing.
“I am interested to know if any of the reviewers who were appointed are connected with the Institute of Public Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies?” she asked.
The Weekend Australian contacted the senator’s office yesterday seeking comment on why the organisations were singled out and whether she was investigating connections to any other organisations.
Senator Wright’s adviser said the senator was too busy to respond, having “back-to-back meetings” and “two human rights events” to attend.
Associate Professor Melleuish said he was selected for the review because of his extensive curriculum work for Liberal and Labor governments.
“It is an attempt to taint people by association,” he said. “There is a strange idea around, especially online, that the IPA somehow has a pernicious effect on the government.”
Other academics confirmed they had received the request and decided not to respond.
They found the questions insulting, seemingly suggesting that publishing with these highly regarded organisations devalued their expertise.
CIS executive director Greg Lindsay said: “We are an organisation of the highest standards that publishes Nobel laureates, leading academics from Australia and around the world, as well as high-level politicians from all major parties. I’ve never heard of Senator Wright — who is she?”
Both the IPA and CIS support free markets, individual liberty and limited government.
Mr Paterson said Senator Wright’s question was a “classic example” of playing the man rather than the ball. “It is deeply revealing about the Greens’ attitude to political disagreement,” he said. “Are the Greens senators hunting down the political affiliation of all those who contributed towards developing the national curriculum, or just those they disagree with?”
The lead author of the original history curriculum was Melbourne University historian Stuart Macintyre. His connections were not pursued by the Greens. Professor Macintyre was once a member of the Communist Party.
Wind Power Really Is Setting the World on FIRE:
As the Australian countryside turns to the golden hues of summer, the attentions of its farming and rural communities also turn: hundreds of eager eyes become fixed on the horizon for tell-tale signs of the smoke that heralds the bushfires that cast fear amongst those that live and work in the bush.
Rules are set to avoid bushfires on high fire danger days – when a Total Fire Ban is called:
You cannot light, maintain or use a fire in the open, or to carry out any activity in the open that causes, or is likely to cause, a fire. No general purpose hot works such as using tractors, slashers and/or welding, grinding or gas cutting can be done in the open either, and this includes incinerators and barbecues which burn solid fuel, eg. wood or charcoal.
Farmers engaged in crop harvesting operations think twice about operating harvesters when the northerly winds pick up and send temperatures into the 40s – the safety conscious leave their headers parked in the shed or the corner of the paddock and spend the day in front of the A/C enjoying the cricket on TV – ready to respond in a heartbeat to the call if a fire does break out. Better to miss a day’s reaping than set the country ablaze.
But such is the seriousness with which country people take the ever-present threat of a bushfire, that can turn a swathe of country black; destroy homes, sheds, equipment, livestock, fences, generations of hard work; and, most savage of all – lives.
The approach taken to the threat of the savagery of an Australian bushfire is about the common sense management of RISK – and, wherever possible, taking steps to minimise or prevent that risk altogether.
But one massive – and utterly unjustified – RISK is the one created by the roll-out of hundreds of giant fans across WA, SA, NSW, Tasmania and Victoria – all in areas highly prone to bushfires.
Turbines represent the perfect bushfire incendiary: around the world, hundreds have blown up in balls of flame – in the process – each one raining molten metal and hundreds of litres of flaming hydraulic oil and burning plastic earthwards.
Wind turbine fires are ten times more common than the wind industry and its parasites claim (see our post here and check out this website: http://turbinesonfire.org).
The Australian Labor Party’s energy policy nothing but wind
GEORGE Orwell once said that political language was designed to “give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”.
Step forward exhibit A and the Labor Party’s explanation for refusing to fix the mess that is Australian renewable energy policy. Mark Butler says that Labor will not “stand by and watch” billions of dollars in investment in renewables head overseas.
Back on planet reality there is no investment in renewable energy now because we already have too much of it.
This year the legislated Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target required Australia to produce 16,100 gigawatt hours of renewable energy.
What this effectively means is that businesses have to surrender an equivalent amount of renewable energy certificates or pay a penalty. But Australia has an enormous oversupply of renewable energy certificates. This has nothing to do with the change of government a year ago and everything to do with the overly generous solar subsidies provided by various state and federal governments until recently. These subsidies have correctly been removed but the overhang remains.
Where there is a surplus of a product its price falls and this is what has happened to the price of renewable energy. Renewable energy certificates have been stuck at about $30 a megawatt hour, too low to bridge the gap between cheap fossil fuels and renewables.
Labor’s refusal to even consider reform is condemning the renewable energy industry to greater uncertainty and simply defers a reckoning. The reckoning will come when it becomes apparent that we cannot, by 2020, increase our renewable energy production to 41,000GWh as set by law. To meet that target we need an additional 26,000GWh of renewables.
The most efficient renewable energy wind turbines are capable of producing about 3MW while running. Because there are 8670 hours in a year, each wind turbine has the potential to produce about 26GWh a year.
But turbines don’t run at full capacity because the wind doesn’t always blow. Across Australia the average real output of wind turbines is about one-third of their rated capacity.
That means each wind turbine could produce about 8GW of energy every year. To produce another 26,000GWh we would need an extra 3000-plus wind turbines — more than doubling the population of wind turbines in Australia today. Each of these wind turbines would take up about 1sq km of land — considering the space needed between turbines. That means we would need an area larger than the size of the ACT to produce all this additional wind energy.
Now we technically could blanket the ACT with wind turbines — and some may suggest that would be a more productive use of that land — but that is not going to happen in five years. There is too short a time to build so many wind turbines so fast.
What will actually happen is that we won’t reach the target, but the dirty secret is that those that have already invested in renewables don’t really mind.
In about three years the target will grow to be above the renewable energy we are producing. Under the law that will mean the price of renewable energy certificates will increase to a shortfall charge of about $93 a megawatt hour in post-tax dollars increasing the burden of the RET threefold.
The producers of renewable energy will once again have their pockets lined thanks to the largesse of the families and businesses that consume energy. Irrigators will pay more to water their crops and we will become even less competitive in steel production. Jobs will be lost.
The RET costs the average family about $50 a year now; in a few years that will probably rise to $150 a year, or half a carbon tax but without the compensation. Every time you open the fridge, the little white light will come on to remind that you are paying for rich investors to make money in renewable energy stocks.
Australia’s renewable energy policies could simply be titled “Robin Hood visits Bizarro World” — they steal from the poor and give to the rich.
For all the Labor Party’s fine words in the cause of social justice and redistribution, when the lights go on those words are shown to be about as robust as a bunch of dead leaves blown along by the wind.
Less talk, more action on reef: Greens
The federal government has been accused of bullying other countries instead of taking action to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will use climate change talks in Peru to argue the reef is not under threat. She also plans to lobby members of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee not to list the reef as a site in danger and will argue the organisation is at risk of being duped by activists.
Greens senator Larissa Waters says the government is failing to take action and choosing instead to "lobby and bully" other countries.
"Even though the World Heritage Committee recommended a moratorium on damaging developments, the pace of approvals has continued unabated," she said, adding that a long-term plan for the reef failed to address the impacts of climate change.
Senator Waters highlighted approvals given to build mines in the Galilee Basin and the expansion of the controversial Abbot Point coal port near Bowen.
WWF-Australia chief executive Dermot O'Gorman says the reef should not be used as a political football. "The government's own experts have clearly stated that current management arrangements are not enough to even halt the decline of the reef, let alone reverse the reef's decline," he said.
Queensland opposition environment spokeswoman Jackie Trad says Ms Bishop should put her energy into pressuring Premier Campbell Newman to do more to protect the reef.
Ms Bishop is expected to tell UNESCO an in-danger listing could set a dangerous precedent that could result in World Heritage assets being blacklisted in the countries of committee members.
She will argue Australia has addressed environmental threats to the reef, including those raised by UNESCO such as the dumping of dredge spoil and cutting agricultural runoff.
The World Heritage Committee will meet in June to decide whether to formally declare the reef as an asset in danger.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE
By Dr David Pascoe BVSc PhD
I am a country boy myself. I grew up in a small Australian town based on farming. So I understand the anger below. And I agree that country people are unusually fine people. But I think I need to add something to the story below.
For a start it is not true that the drought in Western Qld. and NSW has gone unmentioned in the media. It has been mentioned quite a lot on both radio and TV -- particularly on rural programs. Though it has admittedly never been front page news.
Secondly, I gather that ANZ bank has recently softened its policies towards drought-hit farmers -- though how helpful that will be remains to be seen. It is certainly true that treating farming like any other business is stupidly rigid. Longer term thinking is needed.
Finally, I am not sure that it is in anybody's best interests to keep these people on the land. Australia gets drier the further West you go from the East coast and by the time you get to places like Winton, farming is a very risky gamble. It may rain or it may not.
And it is certain that people taking on debt in a drought are highly likely to be cutting their own throats. If the drought endures, as it often does, they will have no income for some years and no means of servicing their loans. So they will then lose the lot.
The proper way to use such dry country for farming is to destock and close the gate once you run out of money. You then go and get a job somewhere until the rains come again. If you can get a job nearby you may even be able to do some weekend farming and preserve a small herd or flock as a nucleus for future restocking. For many however, that way is too hard. They borrow instead. And the result of that is REALLY hard
There is of course traditional advice to that effect: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be". It is outdated advice in many situations but farmers ignore it at their peril. -- JR
Charlie Phillott, now 87, is a farmer from the ruggedly beautiful Carisbrooke Station at Winton. He has owned his station since 1960, nurtured it and loved it like a part of his own flesh. He is a grand old gentleman, one of the much loved and honoured fathers of his community.
Not so long ago, the ANZ bank came and drove him off his beloved station because the drought had devalued his land and they told him he was considered an unviable risk. Yet Charlie Phillott has never once missed a single mortgage payment.
Today this dignified Grand Old Man of the West is living like some hunted down refugee in Winton, shocked and humiliated and penniless. And most of all, Charlie Phillott is ashamed, because as a member of the Great Generation - those fine and decent and ethical men and women who built this country – he believes that what happened to him was somehow his own fault. And the ANZ Bank certainly wanted to make sure they made him feel like that.
Last Friday my wife Heather and I flew up with Alan Jones to attend the Farmers Last Stand drought and debt meeting in Winton. And after what I saw being done to our own people, I have never been more ashamed to be Australian in my life.
What is happening out there is little more than corporate terrorism: our own Australian people are being bullied, threatened and abused by both banks and mining companies until they are forced off their own land.
So we must ask: is this simply to move the people off their land and free up it up for mining by foreign mining companies or make suddenly newly empty farms available for purchase by Chinese buyers? As outrageous as it might seem, all the evidence flooding in seems to suggest that this is exactly what is going on.
What is the role of Government in all of this? Why have both the State and Federal Government stood back and allowed such a dreadful travesty to happen to our own people? Where was Campbell Newman on this issue? Where was Prime Minister Abbott? The answer is nowhere to be seen.
For the last few months, the Prime Minister has warned us against the threats of terrorism to our nation. We have been alerted to ISIS and its clear and present danger to the Australian people.
Abbott has despatched Australian military forces into the Middle East in an effort to destroy this threat to our own safety and security. This mobilization of our military forces has come at a massive and unbudgeted expense to the average Australian taxpayer which the Prime Minister estimates to be around half a billion dollars each year.
We are told that terrorism is dangerous not only because of the threat to human life but also because it displaces populations and creates the massive human cost of refugees.
Yet not one single newspaper or politician in this land has exposed the fact that the worst form of terrorism that is happening right now is going on inside the very heartland of our own nation as banks and foreign mining companies are deliberately and cruelly forcing our own Australian farmers off the land.
What we saw in the main hall of the Winton Shire Council on Friday simply defied all description: a room filled with hundreds of broken and battered refuges from our own country. It was a scene more tragic and traumatic than a dozen desperate funerals all laced onto the one stage.
Right now, all over the inland of both Queensland and NSW, there is nothing but social and financial carnage on a scale that has never before been witnessed in this nation.
It was 41 degrees when we touched down at the Winton airport, and when you fly in low over this landscape it is simply Apocalyptic: there has not been a drop of rain in Winton for two years and there is not a sheep, a cow, a kangaroo, an emu or a bird in sight. Even the trees in the very belly of the creeks are dying.
There is little doubt that this is a natural disaster of incredible magnitude – and yet nobody – neither state nor the federal government - is willing to declare it as such.
The suicide rate has now reached such epic proportions right across the inland: not just the farmer who takes the walk “ up the paddock” and does away with himself but also their children and their wives. Once again, it has barely been covered by the media, a dreadful masquerade that has assisted by the reticence and shame of honourable farming families caught in these tragic situations.
My wife is one of the toughest women I know. Her family went into North West of Queensland as pioneers one hundred years ago: this is her blood country and these are her people . Yet when she stood up to speak to this crowd on Friday she suddenly broke down: she told me later that when she looked into the eyes of her own people, what she saw was enough to break her heart
And yet not one of us knew it was this bad, this much of a national tragedy. The truth is that these days, the Australian media basically doesn’t give a damn. They have been muzzled and shut down by governments and foreign mining companies to the extent that they are no longer willing to write the real story. So the responsibility is now left to people like us, to social media – and you, the Australian people.
And so the banks have been free to play their games and completely terrorise these people at their leisure. The drought has devalued the land and the banks have seen their opportunity to strike. It was exactly the excuse that they needed to clean up and make a fortune, because once the rains come – as they always do – this land will be worth four to ten times the price.
In fact, when farmers have asked for the payout figures, the banks have been either deeply reluctant or not capable of providing the mortgage trail because they have on-sold the mortgage - just like sub-prime agriculture.
This problem isn’t simply happening in Winton, but rather right across the entire inland across Queensland and NSW. The banks have been bringing in the police to evict Australian famers and their families from their farms, many of them multigenerational. One farmer matter of factly told us it took “oh, about 7 police” to evict him from his first farm and “maybe about twelve” to evict him from his second farm which had been in his family for many generations. You think they are kidding you. Then you see the expression in their eyes.
And there was something far worse in the room on Friday: the fear of speaking out against the banks: when we asked people to tell us who had done this to them, they would immediately start to shake and cry and look away: They have been silenced to protect the good corporate image of their tormentors called the banks. What in God’s name have the bastard banks been allowed to do to our people?
This is a travesty against the rights and the human dignity of every Australian
So it’s only fair that we start to name a few of major banks involved: The ANZ is a major culprit (and they made $7 billion profit last year). Then there is Rabo, which is now owned by Westpac (who paid CEO Gail Kelly a yearly salary of some $12 million) According to all reports, the NAB and Bank West are right in there at the trough as well – and all the rest of them are equally guilty. For any that we have missed, rest assured they will be publicly exposed as well
But here’s the thing: when these people are forced off their farms, they have nowhere to go. There are no refugee services waiting, such is the case for those who attempt to enter the sovereign borders of this nation. The farmers simply drive to the nearest town – that’s if the banks haven’t stripped their cars off them as well - and they try and find somewhere to sleep. Some are sleeping on the backs of trucks in swags. There is basically no home or accommodation made available to take them. They camp out, shocked and broken and penniless – and they are living on weet bix and noodles. If there is someone that can lend a family enough money to buy food, they will: otherwise they are left completely alone.
And consider this: not one of them has asked for help. Not one. They just do the best they can, ashamed and broken and brainwashed by the banks to believe that everything that has happened is completely their own fault
There is not one single word of this from a politicians lips, with the exception of the incredibly courageous father and son team of Bob and Robbie Katter, who organised the Farmers Last Stand meeting. The Katter family have been in the North since the 1890’s, and nobody who sat in that hall last Friday could question their love and commitment to their own people.
There is barely a mention of any of this as well in the newspapers, with the exception of as brief splash of publicity that followed our visit.
The Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce attended the meeting in a bitter blue-funk kind of mood that saw him mostly hunched over and staring at the floor. He had given $100 million of financial assistance in a lousy deal where the Government will borrow at 2.75% and loan it back at 3.21%.
The last thing these people need is another loan: they need a Redevelopment Bank to refinance their own loans: issuing a loan to pay off a loan is nothing more than financial suicide.
The reality is that Joyce cannot get support from what he calls “the shits in Cabinet” to create a desperately needed Redevelopment Bank so that these farmers can get cheap loans to tide them through to the end of the drought.
Our sources suggest that those “shits in Cabinet” include Malcolm Turnbull – Minister for Communications and the uber-cool trendy city-centric Liberal in the black leather jacket:, Andrew Robb – Minster for Trade and Investment and the man behind the free trade deal, the man who suddenly acquired three trendy Sydney restaurants almost overnight, the man who seems to suddenly desperate to sell off our farms to China – and one Greg Hunt, Environment Minister and the man who is instantly approving almost every single mining project that is put in front of him.
At the conclusion of the meeting, we stood and met some of the people in the crowd. My wife talked to women who would hug her for dear life, and when they walked away people would suddenly murmur “oh, she was forced off last week” or “they are being forced off tomorrow” . Not one of them mentioned it to us. They had too much pride.
The Australian people need to be both informed and desperately outraged about what is being done to our own people. This is about every right that was once held dear to us: human rights, property rights, civil rights. And most all, our right to freedom of speech. All of that has been taken away from these people – and the rest of us need to understand that we are probably next.
In the last four weeks the Newman Government has removed all farmers rights to protest to a mine and given mining companies the rights to take all the water they want from the Great Artesian Basin – and at no cost to them at all.
And all of this has happened under the watch of both Premier Newman and Prime Minister Abbott.
Until Friday, we used to think of Winton as the home of Waltzing Matilda: it was written at a local station and first performed in the North Gregory Hotel. I think it was Don McLean who wrote, “something touched me deep inside…the day the music died”… in his song American Pie, and for us, last Friday was the day music died.
We will never be able to sing Waltzing Matilda again until we see some justice for these people, and all the farmers of the inland.
This is no longer the Australia we once knew: no longer our country, no longer our people, no longer the decent caring leaders we once remembered.
Right now, the banks, the mining mates, the corrupt politicians and all the ‘mongrels in suits’ have won – and the Australian people don’t have a clue what has been done to them.
Like the American Depression and the iconic photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, there is a terrible, gaping wound that has been carved across the heartland of this nation.
We need to fully grasp that, and to understand that our people – dignified, decent and honourable old men like Charlie Phillott - have been deliberately terrorized, brutalised – and sold out.
In one sense, Charlie Phillott has become the symbol overnight of every decent Australian: the simple right to live out our lives on the land we love - and the land we are still free to call our own. At least until some dangerously persuaded corrupted trendy liberal theorist decided to strip all that away.
The truth is, no Australian was ever consulted about whether or not they wanted to see their land mined into oblivion or see our precious water poisoned and given away for free, whether they wanted to be driven off their land by the greed of banking executives who saw the chance to make a profit by wiping out the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us.
No Australian was ever consulted about whether or not we wanted to see our beloved homeland sold on the cheap to greedy faceless foreigners just because some slimy two-faced minister managed to convince a weakened prime minster to meekly carry out his bidding.
Nobody has asked us. We the People. Not once.
So if we are ever going to do something, then we’d better realise that its now only two minutes to midnight – so we’d better move fast.
Tide turns on sea-level alarmists
AUSTRALIA is lucky to possess the high-quality, 128-year-long tide gauge record from Fort Denison (Sydney Harbour), which since 1886 indicates a long-term rate of sea-level rise of 0.65mm a year, or 6.5cm a century.
Lucky, because 60-year-long oceanographic atmospheric oscillations mean a true long-term measurement of sea-level rise can be made only when such a record is available.
Similarly low rates of local sea-level rise have been measured at other tide gauges along the east coast. National Tidal Centre records reveal variations between about 5cm and 16cm/century in rates of relative rise. The differences between individual tide gauges mostly represent slightly differing rates of subsidence of the land at each site, and differing time periods.
For example, measurements at Sydney between 2005 and 2014 show the tide gauge site is sinking at a rate of 0.49mm/yr, leaving just 0.16mm/yr of the overall relative rise as representing global sea-level change. Indeed, the rate of rise at Fort Denison, and globally, has been decreasing for the past 50 years.
Despite this high-quality and unalarming data, it is surprising that some east coast councils have implemented coastal planning regulations based on the computer projections of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For instance, a recent consultancy report for the Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla shire councils, informed by IPCC computer model projections, advised those councils to plan using a rate of rise of 3.3mm/yr, four times the rate at Fort Denison.
The numbers were in part based on experimental estimates of sea-level change provided by satellite altimetry measurements. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which launches the satellite platforms, says these estimates contain errors larger than the sea-level signal claimed and proposes spending more than $US100 million on launching a new GRASP satellite to rectify the matter.
Mindful of these facts, on October 28, Shoalhaven Shire Council rejected advice to use the IPCC’s most extreme emissions Scenario 8.5, applying the still highly precautionary Scenario 6.0, and using their nearest long tide gauge record (Fort Denison) to set future planning policy. The council specifically ruled out the future use of satellite or model-generated sea-level estimates until their accuracy is guaranteed.
In mid-2010, the Eurobodalla council, south of Shoalhaven, introduced a unique interim sea level rise policy that shackled more than a quarter of all properties in the shire to restrictive development controls. Predictably, there was an immediate shire-wide decline in property values.
Figures from RP Data property information specialists show that between 2011 and 2014, Eurobodalla property values suffered a 5.3 per cent loss in value compared with increases of 4.9 per cent and 7.3 per cent for neighbouring coastal shires that didn’t have equivalent restrictive sea-level policies. In the worst cases, individual properties have lost up to 52 per cent of their market value.
In three years, individual Eurobodalla properties lost about $40,000 in value. With 22,000 properties in the shire, this represents a capital loss of $880m at a rate of $293m a year. This steady loss of rateable value means householders will face higher rate increases.
If similar policies were implemented along the entire east coast there would be annual property capital losses of billions of dollars.
So it is not surprising that NSW and Queensland governments are reconsidering their coastal management policies.
Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney recently notified Moreton Bay Regional Council of his intention to direct it to amend its draft planning scheme “to remove any assumption about a theoretical projected sea level rise due to climate change from all and any provisions of the scheme”. Seeney said his intention was to use a statewide coastal mapping scheme “that will remove the ‘one size fits all’ approach that incorporates a mandatory 0.8m addition to historical data”.
At last, a responsible government has recognised that global average sea-level change is no more relevant to coastal management than average global temperatures are to the design of residential heating and cooling systems — local weather and local sea-level change is what matters.
Satellite measurements and computer model projections are not accurate enough for shire planning. As the NSW Chief Scientist has said, coastal policy needs to be informed by the best available factual measurements.
And as Seeney said: “All mandatory elements of the (planning) scheme must reflect only proven historical data when dealing with coastal hazards such as storm tide inundation and erosion control areas.” Similar policies need to be espoused by all state governments and councils.
Sea-level alarmism has passed high tide and is at last declining. With luck, empirical sanity will soon prevail over modelling.
Kinship placements for Aborigines risk creating a Lost Generation
For six years, the CIS's child protection research has comprehensively explored the major issues facing the child protection system across Australia, and has called for the greater use of adoption to address the systemic problems that impede the proper care and protection of vulnerable children.
However, this research has, up until now, slid over the most sensitive issue - the tragic fact that Indigenous children are many times over-represented in cases of child abuse and neglect.
To talk of adoption in relation to Indigenous children is to invite the politically explosive claim that this would create 'another Stolen Generation'.
This, in part, is the reason why the NSW Government decided to exclude indigenous children from its 2013 adoption-based child protection reforms. Instead, decisions about Indigenous children who need to be removed from their parents for child welfare reasons will continue to be made in accordance with the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle (ACPP).
The ACPP means that all efforts will continue to be made to place children in 'kinship care', preferable with relatives, or members of the local community, or other indigenous people.
The theory behind the ACPP is sound. Child removal practices associated with the Stolen Generations damaged many Indigenous people by denying them contact with their families, communities, and with traditional culture. It therefore makes sense to try to maintain children's cultural identity by placing them close to home if they can't live safely with their families.
The problem, in practice, however, is the social problems in many Indigenous communities, which makes it difficult to reconcile considerations of culture and identity with child welfare.
Indigenous children placed in kinship care can be taken out of the frying pan of family dysfunction only to be placed back into the fire of broader community dysfunction. Hence, recent official inquiries in state and territory child protection systems have noted the "lesser standard care" that can be received by some indigenous children, who are placed into situations that non-Indigenous children would not be placed in order to comply with the ACPP.
What is and isn't done to protect Indigenous children has national implications. Denying Indigenous children the safe and nurturing family environments all children need to thrive threatens to keep open the gaps in social outcomes and opportunities between the most disadvantaged Indigenous Australians and other Australians - gaps that all intelligent Australians acknowledge are our deepest national shame.
This is the thinking behind the CIS's new report. We must address the 'kinship conundrum', and rethink well-intentioned policies such as the ACPP, if we are to 'Close the Gap' and achieve true Reconciliation.
My report therefore challenges much of the thinking behind the ACPP, which I argue is outdated compared with much contemporary Indigenous policy, and compared to modern understandings and definitions of Indigenous identity. What the report does not do is ignore the legacy of the Stolen Generation or deny the importance of maintaining Indigenous children's cultural identity.
What I do argue is that we need, in children's best interests, to find better ways to reconcile cultural identity with child welfare - such as through cultural support and education programs run by Indigenous organisations for Indigenous children who are adopted (or placed in permanent care).
Mum bloggers show dark side of feminist parenting
Former Australian Labor Party leader Mark Latham is having a go at feminists again
When the Greens senator Larissa Waters publicly endorsed the No Gender December campaign last week, most people thought it was just another left-feminist brain-snap. As if buying Barbies for young girls at Christmas condemns them to a lifetime of low self-esteem and repression.
My seven-year-old daughter has a room full of Barbies, yet she’s an incredibly independent, strong-willed and capable young lady.
Over the years, I’ve met prime ministers, presidents and billionaires, but none of them have overwhelmed me with their force of personality the way Siena Latham does. I’ve always thought the manufacturer puts something in the Barbies to empower her and weaken me – like kryptonite on Superdad.
Senator Waters and her Green mates are off with the pixies – a fantasy world in which all parts of life are inherently political.
You get up in the morning and go to the toilet: for the Greens, that’s an act of politics. By standing at the urinal, men exercise the power of patriarchy, while women are forced to sit – a vulnerable and submissive position.
You buy your son a Star Wars lightsaber and the dark side will convert him to a lifetime of misogyny. You buy your daughter a pink dress and automatically she’ll be barefoot and pregnant in a public housing estate, denied access to the Anne Summers texts that could set her free.
It’s easy to dismiss No Gender December for what it is: a political sect that extrapolates the simple, everyday parts of life into wacky sociological conspiracies. But it’s more than that.
In the inner suburbs of our major cities, a fascinating experiment is under way. Thousands of children have been locked in a gender-neutral bubble, growing up in households manipulated by their mothers to fit the left-feminist mould. How do we know this? Through the phenomenon of mummy bloggers.
SHIRTLESS, TONE-DEAF, OVERWEIGHT, PIZZA-EATING DUMMIES
Daily Life, for instance, describes itself as “a proudly female-biased website”. One of its feature writers is Sarah Macdonald, well known for her work on ABC radio.
Like most mummy bloggers, she’s youngish, hip and self-absorbed. Her parenting techniques provide a snapshot of left-feminism in action.
According to Macdonald, “all parents” try to “raise children in a new way, unencumbered by a long, rich history of gender stereotypes”. But then they slip back into old habits, such as when “a mother coos ‘you’re so pretty’ to her baby daughter” or “a father comes home and starts ‘fun time’ ”. For any parent inclined to talk about their daughter’s appearance, the answer is clear: call her ugly.
The next MacParenting tip is for mothers to avoid being “the default parent” – the one “who has met the teacher and knows where the favourite T-shirt is buried”.
Macdonald, it seems, is unmoved by research showing parents actively involved in their children’s education help to improve their children’s academic results. If she sees a teacher walking towards her at school pick-up time, apparently she runs the other way. Her bare-chested children (having been unable to find their T-shirts that morning) are then forced to chase her down the street.
This prejudice against education is confirmed in other MacParenting recommendations. In trying to avoid the “dad is fun, mum is mean” stereotype, Macdonald admits to having “avoided homework [assistance] for years”, while her “kids have stopped learning their instruments”.
She’s also against participation on school P and Cs, given “it’s another area of unpaid work for women”.
MacParenting hates the idea of dads being seen as “the fun one”. So in divorced families, mothers are advised to “give their kids pizza every night”.
What’s the net outcome of this social experiment? In the name of gender equality, left-feminism is breeding a generation of shirtless, tone-deaf, overweight, pizza-eating dummies – the opposite of what progressive politics is supposed to achieve.
At the Macdonald laboratory, the results are clear: “My daughter is far more willing to whack [people] than my son and she is not a hugger”.
Here in outer-western Sydney, I couldn’t live without my daughter’s hugs. Thank goodness we’re the antithesis of nutty Green feminism.
Australia’s Secret War: How Unions Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II
BOOK REVIEW of "Australia’s Secret War"
Hal Colebatch’s new book, Australia’s Secret War, tells the shocking, true, but until now largely suppressed and hidden story of the war waged from 1939 to 1945 by a number of key Australian trade unions against their own society and against the men and women of their own country’s fighting forces at the time of its gravest peril. His conclusions are based on a broad range of sources, from letters and first-person interviews between the author and ex-servicemen to official and unofficial documents from the archives of World War II.
Between 1939 and 1945 virtually every major Australian warship, including at different times its entire force of cruisers, was targeted by strikes, go-slows and sabotage. Australian soldiers operating in New Guinea and the Pacific Islands went without food, radio equipment and munitions, and Australian warships sailed to and from combat zones without ammunition, because of strikes at home. Planned rescue missions for Australian prisoners-of-war in Borneo were abandoned because wharf strikes left rescuers without heavy weapons. Officers had to restrain Australian and American troops from killing striking trade unionists.