Thursday, March 23, 2017

Homofascists target IBM executive

Marriage equality advocate IBM Australia is being targeted by ­militant gay rights activists who have condemned the company over a senior executive’s links to a ­Christian organisation.

Activists have criticised the IT giant and Sydney-based managing partner Mark Allaby, suggesting that his role on the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an internship program for young Christians, is incompatible with IBM’s public support on the issue.

The social media campaign comes after the same activists shamed Adelaide brewer Coopers into pledging allegiance to Australian Marriage Equality after its ties with the Bible Society were ­exposed.

Michael Barnett, convener of Jewish LGBTI support group Aleph Melbourne, and Rod Swift, a Greens candidate in the 2014 state election, have targeted IBM with a barrage of messages via Twitter in recent days, accusing the company of hypocrisy for ­allowing an employee to be ­involved with “an anti-LGBTI ­organisation”.

“A bad look … that IBM managing partner Mark Allaby sits on the anti-LGBT Lachlan Macquarie Institute board,” Mr Barnett ­posted on Thursday.

The next day he followed with: “As an LGBT champion @IBM­Australia, why did you employ a board member of a high-profile anti-LGBT organisation.”

Mr Swift pitched in, calling on IBM to explain whether it would “request this guy to step down” from the institute.

“If you are having a bet each way @IBMDiversityANZ then you must justify to your staff and customers why your guy is on their board,” he wrote.

It is not the first time Mr Allaby, a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors who handles IBM’s financial services ­clients across Australia and New Zealand, has been targeted for his association with a religious organisation.

Last year, when employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, he was pressured into standing down from the board of the Australian Christian Lobby, which opposes changes to marriage law.

Both PwC and IBM are active supporters of Australian Marriage Equality, and their chief executives were among 20 corporate leaders to sign an unprecedented letter lobbying Malcolm Turnbull to legalise same-sex marriage, revealed in The Australian last week.

The letter has sparked heated debate about the role of business in lobbying on social issues, with conservative frontbencher Peter Dutton telling business leaders to “stick to their knitting”.

However, the increasingly ­aggressive tactics being employed by some marriage equality activists has highlighted the risks for corporations — and their employees — in taking a position on ­divisive political causes.

Leading anti-discrimination lawyer Mark Fowler said employees with religious beliefs in conflict with their employers’ stand on marriage equality were particularly exposed. “In NSW and SA there are currently no laws protecting individuals from expressing their religious beliefs,” Mr Fowler said. “Nor are there religious protections for ­individuals under commonwealth laws.”

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton said the ACL, which helped set up the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, denied that the organisation was “anti-LGBTI”.

“Quite frankly we are tired of this slur being used to intimidate people because of their beliefs,” Mr Shelton said. “Corporate Australia is obviously free to have and express views on political matters.

“Sadly, same-sex marriage activists are intolerant of different views and have co-opted some in the corporate sector to assist them in enforcing this to the point where people fear for their jobs.

“All Australians, including corporate Australia, should openly and forcefully condemn every instance of bullying and intimidation.”

Mr Barnett defended his role yesterday, arguing that when an organisation such as IBM employed an individual in a high-profile leadership role who did not espouse company values, a disparity emerged. “I have no desire to see IBM sack Mark Allaby. I want the conflict to go away,” Mr Barnett told The Australian.

“Mark Allaby can make whatever decisions he needs to resolve this conflict, and if IBM needs to assist with that process then they can do that. “My goal is to see IBM, and any other pro-LGBTIQ organisation, remain strong to their stated values.”

Mr Barnett said he had nothing against Mr Allaby personally but his links with the Australian Christian Lobby meant he was a “target for equality campaigners like me”.

IBM did not respond to questions about whether staff were free to engage with external organisations, including religious groups, outside of their employment with the company. “We will not be responding on this,” an IBM spokeswoman said.

Mr Allaby, who lives in Sydney, did not return calls.


The coal-hatred in South Australia:  It cost $4.5 million to keep power stable for one day

SOUTH Australian power consumers have been slugged for a massive $4.5 million price spike for services that stop energy infrastructure from blowing up.

The Australian Energy Regulator released a report on Tuesday night into why prices for services which stabilisethe grid exceeded $5000/MWh in SA on October 18 last year.

It found that for more than five hours, the cost of the services which regulate frequency soared to more than $11,000/MWh, bringing the total cost for the day to $4.5 million.

“In comparison, FCAS (Frequency Control Ancillary Services) costs across all mainland National Electricity Market regions combined are typically around $200,000 per day,” the report stated.

Over the week inclusive of October 18, 40 per cent of the cost — or $1.8 million — was paid for by customers and 60 per cent of the cost was recovered from generators, which The Advertiser understands tended to be wind farms because they cause frequency changes.

The report found that a planned outage on the Heywood interconnector, which connects SA to Victoria, created a risk that SA could cut off from the rest of the network. This creates a higher risk of blackouts.

Since September 2015, to help reduce the risk of blackouts, the Australian Energy Market Operator requires a set level of ancillary services to be sourced in SA to protect the system.

“This is effectively a security mechanism introduced by AEMO to protect South Australia in the event of separation (from the national market),” the report stated.

But the report found that two generators — Pelican Point and the Quarantine Power Station — that provide the service experienced technical difficulties on the day which led to fewer low-priced services being available and, therefore, led to the price spike.

After the statewide blackout in September last year, which was partly caused by a massive drop in the grid’s frequency after the interconnector tripped, AEMO introduced another new rule requiring two gas generators to be on at all times, because until now wind farms had not provided these services.

But the Essential Services Commission of SA has since changed licensing conditions for all new generators that would require them to be able to provide such services.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said these stability services were required to protect the network in the event SA was separated from the national grid.

“I am advised the price spike was caused by issues with two gas-fired power stations. The cost will be met by both electricity generators and consumers,” he said.

“Our energy plan includes building a new gas-fired power station and Australia’s largest battery, both of which will improve grid security.”

The Government’s proposed $360 million, 250MW power station was not intended to generate power very often but would be switched on most of the time to provide the stability services.

Mr Koutsantonis said ESCOSA’s reforms were also designed to ease the market.

Separate data released by the regulator yesterday shows that SA energy consumers had the highest average electricity debt in the country, were the most likely to be on a hardship program and most likely to have their electricity disconnected due to non payment.


Australian Human Rights Commission facing shake-up

A major shake-up of the Australian Human Rights Commission, including new powers to terminate “unmeritorious” complaints, is expected to win support of the parliament, amid concern the agency’s processes have “become the punishment”.

Following the government’s announced overhaul of the AHRC and plans to change controversial section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, the commission released a statement indicating it would work with the government to change the law governing how it deals with complaints.

“The commission will engage with the government and parliament on progressing legislative reforms that can further strengthen and improve the complaint handling process, while ensuring access to justice,” it said.

The Attorney-General, George Brandis, said the Coalition was responding to recommendations from the parliamentary joint committee on human rights to ensure the commission observed the principles of procedural fairness in ­investigating complaints.

One of the key new provisions will require the commission president, currently Gillian Triggs, to make a preliminary assessment of whether a complaint has substance or any “reasonable prospect of being resolved in favour of the complainant” before embarking on an inquiry.

“If the president is of the view that the complaint is without substance, and has no reasonable prospects of success, there will be an obligation to terminate the complaint at that point, at the threshold, rather than exposing people who are the subject of complaint ….to the torment of process,” Senator Brandis said.

There will also be a requirement for a complaint to be lodged within six months of the conduct and an obligation on the commission to try to resolve issues within 12 months.

In order to provide a financial disincentive to complainants, the changes will also include orders in relation to costs, so that someone who makes an unmeritorious complaint can be the subject of an adverse cost order.

“Sometimes the process can be the punishment,’’ Senator Brandis said. “That is not right or fair.’’

He said the proposed changes had been discussed with Professor Triggs and “in general have her support”.

While the government faces an uphill battle to win Senate support for changes to 18C, the reform of the commission’s complaint-handling processes is more likely to pass, with widespread recognition of its shortcomings.

Professor Triggs has also indicated problems with the legislation governing the commission, calling for changes that reduce the regulatory burden it faces in its mandatory reporting obligations.

The government will respond to these concerns, making a number of “technical amendments” to reduce the red tape faced by the commission and improve its governance arrangements.

Changes to the complaint process will not only apply to grievances under the Racial Discrim­ination Act, but to all human rights complaints made to the commission.

Senator Nick Xenophon, who controls a bloc of three Senate votes, said that while he opposed changes to 18C, he would consider supporting the commission shake-up and potentially the insertion of a “reasonable person” test into the act.

“We do support sensible changes to the process involved in the handling of such complaints so the process does not become the punishment,” the South Australian senator said.


10,000 Syrian refugees settle in Australia

Australia has welcomed 10,000 Syrian refugees and issued another 2000 visas to people fleeing the war-torn Middle East country.

Malcolm Turnbull will reportedly confirm the entire 12,000 visas pledged to Syrian refugees in 2015 have been issued during a migrations awards speech at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday night.

His speech is not expected to detail the religious make-up of Syrian refugees processed, but the government has prioritised persecuted Christians over Muslims, the Daily Telegraph reports.


Integration core in new multicultural policy

Australia’s national identity will be redefined along fundamental principles of integration, citizenship and unity in a pointed shift away from welfare entitlement, in the first multicultural statement by a federal government to also recognise the impact of ­terrorism on the nation’s social fabric.

In a landmark departure from the 2011 statement delivered by then-Labor prime minister Julia Gillard, the Turnbull government has ­included for the first time a list of individual freedoms, including freedom of speech, as core Australian values. The statement, ­released to The Australian ahead of its launch today, is a rejection of multiculturalism as a vehicle for grievance and identity politics.

The government has dropped past emphasis on equitable access to welfare and services for new ­migrants, and instead promotes values of opportunity, self-reliance­ and aspiration.

In an implicit reference to the controversial provisions of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, it has moved away from Labor’s past reference to the use of the “full force of the law” while denouncin­g ­racism and discrimin­ation, and promoting mutual respect­.

A keystone of the document is the inclusion of white Australia — British and Irish settlers — in a broadening of the definition of multicultural Australia to beyond ethnic minorities and indigenous people. Introducing “integration” as the core principle over ethnic segregation to guide government policy, the statement signals a delibera­te shift away from the ­emphasis placed on services articulated by Labor.

A premium has now been placed on citizenship, with a strengthened obligation to demonstrate allegiance to Australia and English as the national ­language as “critical” features of ethnic integration.

The chairman of the Australian Multicultural Council, Sev ­Ozdowski, said the document marked a profound change and ­returned the underlying principles to those established under the Hawke government, when the definition of multiculturalism was an inclusive policy. “I think it is an important move … it takes multiculturalism away from identity politics … it makes it a policy for all of us,” he told The Australian.

The Assistant Minister for Socia­l Services and Multicultural Affairs, Zed Seselja, said it was a document that stamped the ­Coalition government’s view of multicultural Australia, with the substantive difference ­between it and previous government statements being the introduction of a core principle of integration. “I think a focus on common ­values was critical, and a focus on unity and citizenship, rather than an emphasis­ to services and welfare, which is not the main game,” he said. “It is about all of us, whether we arrived last week or whether our ancestors have been here for hundreds or thousands of years.”

Terrorism and border protection have been recognised for the first time as a threat to social ­cohesion, with an unambiguous repudiation of behaviour that ­“undermines Australian values”.

“Underpinning a diverse and harmonious Australia is the security­ of our nation,” the statement says. “The Australian government places the highest priority on the safety and security of all Australians.

“Recent terrorist attacks around the world have justifiably caused concern in the Australian community. The government ­responds to these threats by continuing­ to invest in counter-terrorism, strong borders and strong national security.

“This helps to ensure that Australia remains an open, inclusive, free and safe ­society. In the face of these threats, however, we do not compromise on our shared values and national unity.”

The document infers recip­rocal rights and obligations, claiming that “regardless of cultural­ background, birthplace or religion, everyone in Australia or coming to Australia has a responsibi­lity to engage with and seek to understand each other, and reject any form of racism or violent ­extremism”.

“We take responsibility for fulfilling our civic duties,’’ it says. “Prac­tices and behaviours that undermine our values have no place in Australia.”

The inclusion of a set of “freedoms” fundamental to Australian values marks a further divergence from previous statements. “Our commitment to freedom is fundamental,” it says. “We support freedom of thought, speech, religion, enterprise and association.”

The statement is the first since the Gillard government’s 2011 document, which focused on strengthening access and equity policies to “ensure that government programs and services are responsive to the needs of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities while responding­ to expressions of intoleranc­e and discrimination with strength and, where necessary, with the force of the law”.

Mr Ozdowski said the document reflected a national policy for all Australians. “It brings back those dimensions established by Hawke and Keating with a focus on multiculturalism for all Australians … not a policy statement on welfare or for particular ethnic groups, or ­religions or refugees,” he said, adding that the use of the word integration did not reflect a US policy of assimilation but recog­nised people must accept Australian values while bringing new ideas and connections.

Senator Seselja said the government had included national ­security to address “the elephant in the room” and it reflected a need to promote social cohesion.

Malcolm Turnbull said that during a time of increased anxiety over terrorism, it was important to reaffirm what should be Australian values.

“We are defined not by race, religion or culture, but by shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and equality of ­opportunity,’’ he said.


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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is cynical about reform to the hate speech law going through

Infanticide law in Victoria: How is this not murder?

Comment from a reader involved in social work:

I have a particular dislike of the infanticide law. I personally know of several cases where mothers have deliberately killed their baby and never went to gaol for it. They simply got counselling.

Men are charged with murder and get 20 - 25 years for killing their babies, but women can drown them, stab them, dash their brains out on a door frame and get off free, and often without any publicity at all.

The only reason this one got publicity is because the woman was caught on tape, otherwise, like all such cases we would probably not know about it unless we worked in a counselling facility.

Feminists love the infanticide law, they want it extended to the killing of 5 years olds in states where it is only for killing up 1 and 2 year olds. Yet they protest when a father who killed his baby is released after 18 years gaol.

I have silenced a few groups of feminists -- when they are griping about the patriarchy and planning some silly protest -- by saying to them, You women want more rights but without accountability. When you are marching in the streets demanding the infanticide law be scrapped and women who kill their babies be charged with murder and sentenced just like men are, when you are demanding equal accountability with men, then I will be marching in the street with you. Until then, I find your talk about equal rights disgusting

IN THE days leading up to April 10 last year things had got out of hand for Sofina Nikat, a court has heard.

According to a summary of her police interview from that day, which was last week read out in court, the 23-year-old mother was struggling to cope with her 14-month-old baby girl Sanaya Sahib.

She told police the baby would “look at the roof and cry and growl”, and that she had been advised by a priest that she and her baby were possessed and had negative energy.

After initially claiming her daughter had been snatched from her pram by an African man who reeked of alcohol, Nikat later admitted to police she had put her hand across Sanaya’s mouth and nose, and hugged her tight until she couldn’t feel her daughter moving.

Nikat had killed her baby, she told police, then dropped her daughter’s body in Darebin Creek.

Yet when she answered a charge of murder in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, she pleaded not guilty. Psychiatrists agreed.

Her defence lawyer Christopher Dane QC presented the court with two psychiatric assessments by different psychiatrists who independently concluded what Nikat did was not murder, but another charge.

“The balance of mind of Sofina Nikat was disturbed,” consultant psychiatrist Yvonne Skinner wrote in her report. “She is guilty of infanticide, and not murder.”

Mr Dane told the court if Nikat had been charged with infanticide, she would have likely pleaded guilty.

In Victoria, the charge of infanticide carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, however it is believed no Victorian woman has been jailed for infanticide. A murder accused is up for 25 years behind bars.

The charge can only be applied to a woman — a mother — who “carried out conduct that causes the death of her child (under two) in circumstances that would constitute murder”, and, whose balance of mind is disturbed because she’s either not recovered from the effect of giving birth, or as a result of “a disorder consequent on her giving birth to that child”.

It’s a rare crime and one that carries different meanings and consequences in different jurisdictions. In New South Wales a mother can only be found guilty of infanticide if she has killed her child under 12 months, under similar circumstances as in the Victorian law, only the punishment will be the same as if it was manslaughter. The partial defence of infanticide is also available in Tasmania, but doesn’t feature in the remaining Australian states’ criminal codes.

When infanticide does come up in a high profile case, confusion and outrage often comes with it.

How is this not murder? Why is the sentence so light? Why should it be any different?


Lock up dodgy union officials: Turnbull

Turnbull grows a pair

Union officials who carve out pay deals laced with a "corrupting intent" would be thrown behind bars under new laws proposed by the Turnbull government.

The prime minister wants employers or union officials found making secret payments other than for clearly legitimate purposes jailed for up to two years.

"Trade unions have a solemn, legal, moral, fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their members," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

"We have seen through the Heyden royal commission and subsequently unions have let their members down and big unions have traded their rights away in return for payments."

Mr Turnbull and his workplace minister Michaelia Cash outlined the proposed penalties as the government seeks to gain the front foot in the penalty rate debate.

Ms Cash said there was no consistency across Australia's bribery laws, and the offence was often difficult to prove.

"Employees should be aware and should have full knowledge of any payments that are made between their employer and a union," she said.

"When you look at the level of penalty, it should send a very, very clear message to any employer or any union who wants to indulge in secretive payments.

"It is wrong and compromises the integrity and lawfulness of the workplace."


Hazelwood's closure raises threats of east coast blackouts and manufacturers quitting Australia

The head of the Food and Grocery Council says manufacturers will quit Australia if affordable, reliable energy cannot be guaranteed, as concern grows about the cost of power and the stability of the electricity grid with Victoria's Hazelwood power station due to close in a fortnight.

The ageing brown-coal-fired generator in the Latrobe Valley will begin the staged shutdown of its eight units from March 27. The final boiler will go cool on April 2.

With it will go 22 per cent of Victoria's power supply and just over 5 per cent of the energy on a grid that runs from Port Douglas in far north Queensland to Port Lincoln on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.

The wholesale price of power spiked across the National Electricity Market in November on news that Hazelwood would shut.

Retail prices will follow the rise.

Food and Grocery Council chair Terry O'Brien said his industry had been caught in a pincer movement, unable to pass on power price hikes because of discounting by the two major supermarkets chains.

As many local manufacturers were arms of international companies, pressure was mounting for some to quit the country.

"The decision to stay or go gets more and more marginal as the days go on," Mr O'Brien said.  "And there's not a heck of a lot of sentiment in these internationally managed companies. They go where it makes sense. And if it's not going to make sense here, they leave."

The closure of Hazelwood raises an even larger threat: blackouts.  "To stop production through a lack of energy is just a disaster," Mr O'Brien said.

The threat of east coast blackouts is now real because of the disorganised disconnection of coal-fired generation without any new investment in base-load power.

Hazelwood will be the ninth power plant to close in five years, removing a combined 5,400 megawatt of generation from the grid. The Australian Energy Market Operator is now predicting electricity reserve shortfalls in Victoria and South Australia from December.


Prime Minister Turnbull commits to 18C race-hate law reform

MALCOLM Turnbull has been shouted down in Question Time after saying changes to race-hate speech laws announced today would strengthen the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Prime Minister was asked why he chose to make the announcement on Harmony Day.

“We are standing up for the freedom of speech that underpins our society, the greatest multicultural society in the world,” Mr Turnbull said.

He accused the Labor Party of painting Australians as racists, only held in check by section 18C.  “We have more respect for the Australian people than the Labor Party does,” Mr Turnbull said. “We know that our precious freedoms, our freedom of speech, is the very foundation of the nation.”

Speaker Tony Smith was forced to warn MPs about the “ridiculously high” level of interjections.

Labor MP Anne Aly then asked the Prime Minister to clarify which forms of racial discrimination he wanted people to be able to say that they could not say now. Ms Aly said she had been “subjected to racism time and time again”.

Mr Turnbull responded: “I believe all Australians are absolutely opposed to racism in any form.”  “The suggestion that those people who support a change to the wording of Section 18C are somehow or other racist is a deeply offensive one.”

The bill will be introduced to the Senate.


The Prime Minister said the language in a contentious section of the Racial Discrimination Act has lost credibility and will be replaced.

Under the changes approved at a joint party room meeting in Canberra on Tuesday the words “offend, insult and humiliate” will be changed to “harass and intimidate”, making claims harder to prove.

The test to be applied in complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission will be the standard of a “reasonable member of the community”.

The commission will also have greater powers to filter complaints which are deemed to be frivolous or without merit and those who are the subject of the complaint will get an early warning when a complaint is lodged.

“We are defending Australians from racial vilification by replacing language which has been discredited and ... has lost the credibility that a good law needs,” Mr Turnbull told reporters.

“We need to restore confidence to the Racial Discrimination Act and to the Human Rights Commission’s administration of it.”

The changes struck a balance between protecting people from racial vilification while defending and enabling free speech, and had support across the political spectrum, he said.

“There will be many critics and opponents but this is an issue of values,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Free speech is a value at the very core of our party, it should be at the core of every party,” he said.

“What we presented today strikes the right balance, defending freedom of speech so that cartoonists will not be hauled up and accused of racism, so that university students won’t be dragged through the courts and have hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal costs imposed on them over spurious claims of racism.”


Opposition to free speech won’t end happily


Democracy should always be defended. The essential ingredient of a true democracy is freedom of speech: that freedom is under attack from the left and even, at times, the right.

When those opposed to marriage equality tried to hold a meeting at the Mercure Hotel near Sydney airport, supporters of marriage equality so pestered and threatened the hotel that they cancelled the event. Just as I have been critical of the left for preventing Israeli speakers from going to any university in Australia to put their case, this and every attack on free speech must be resisted. If you won’t let the other side speak, you must have limited confidence in your own argument.

This week saw two attempts to further muzzle free speech on marriage equality. The fiasco at Coopers says so much about intolerance. The performance of LGBTI activists over Coopers Brewery and the Bible Society video was as cruel as it was anti-democratic. Directors Tim and Melanie Cooper looked uneasy as they tried to distance the company from the video and stave off the rapidly growing boycott of their beer.

The video itself is merely an attempt at sane, sensible and orderly debate. The reaction of totalitarians with such outrage is really sad to see. The viciousness suggests that they will never allow the slightest hint of a view different to their own to see the light of day.

This blind insistence against the exercise of the right to free speech has been on graphic display in recent times. I attended the Bill Leak memorial on Friday to honour a great and talented Australian genius. One of the kindest men I ever met had been the subject of a bitter, savage assault on social media. The attack from the Human Rights Commission had accused him of racism and one commissioner called on people to lay complaints against him.

Just to make sure that the right got in on the anti-free speech bandwagon, Peter Dutton bucketed the CEOs who had the temerity to lend their support to an open letter calling for an early start for gay marriage.


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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

‘Stick to your knitting’: Dutton tells CEO’s to stay out of gay marriage

Why would an airline involve itself in homosexual marriage politics?  The boss of Qantas is himself homosexual, that's why

In an extraordinary spray, immigration minister Peter Dutton has singled out Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in a fresh assault on the involvement of some of Australia’s largest companies in the marriage equality debate.

Mr Dutton warned CEO’s to “stick to their knitting”, and said the Turnbull government “would not be bullied” into changing its stance on gay marriage.

“It is unacceptable that people have used companies, and shareholders money, to try to throw their weight around in these debates,” he told reporters in Cairns following his address to the Liberal National Party’s state council.

He used his address on Saturday to accuse chief executives of using shareholders’ money to drive a personal agenda.

In particular, he took aim at Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, a strong advocate for marriage equality.

“Alan Joyce, the individual, is perfectly entitled to campaign for and spend his hard earned money on any issue he sees fit, but don’t do it in the official capacity and with shareholders money,” he told the meeting.

“And certainly don’t use an iconic brand and the might of a multi-billion dollar business on issues best left to the judgment of issues and elected decision makers,” he said to applause.

Mr Dutton’s comments come after the chief executives of 30 of Australia’s largest companies, including Telstra, Holden, Wesfarmers and the Commonwealth Bank, urged the government to take action on marriage equality.

Dutton, one of the most prominent conservative voices in the Turnbull government, also claimed some companies had been coerced into supporting the marriage equality campaign.

“The reality is that some companies are morally coerced into supporting campaigns in fear of being extorted by an online social media push to boycott their product,” he said.

Qantas quickly returned fire, saying the company would continue to support gay marriage and “other things we believe in”, the ABC reported.

“Qantas speaks out on a number of social issues from indigenous recognition to gender diversity and marriage equality,” a spokesman said in a statement.

“We do so because we believe these issues are about the fundamental Australian value of fairness and we’re the national carrier.

“We respect the fact that not everyone agrees with marriage equality, but opinion polls show the majority of Australians do, as do many of our employees.”

Social media reaction to Duttons words ranged from the critical, to the supportive and the hilarious.

“There goes his Chairman's Lounge access,” tweeted Ian Soloman.


Homofascist censors don’t want us thinking for ourselves

JENNIFER ORIEL writes as follows:

In their campaign for gay marriage, some activists have developed a regrettably totalitarian strategy. It is to target dissenters, gay or straight, and silence them through persistent bullying. It is a strategy where the ends justify the means. The ends are not the formal equality of homosexuals and gay marriage. It is absolute conformity to radical queer ideology.

Like many columnists, artists and voracious consumers of the late Bill Leak’s art, I have wondered what he might have made of the past week’s events.

In a discussion of Leak’s cartoons on Monday’s Q&A on ABC, panellists praised polite speech in contrast to his politically incorrect art. The prim thought police did not deem impolite the audience member who smeared Leak as a “racist” only three days after his death. At times like these, you need Leak on the illustration and Baudelaire on the caption.

In the following days, a draft letter on same-sex marriage was leaked to the press. The corporate chiefs who signed it apparently wanted the Prime Minister to abandon his pre-election commitment to a people’s vote on same-sex marriage.

Some queer activists have celebrated the idea of politicians snatching the plebiscite vote away from the people. They seem to ­believe that denying people freedom of thought is the constitution of equality. As a justification, they imagine some hypo­thetical harm that might result from fellow citizens exercising ­independence in a free vote on the matter of marriage. We are used to hearing the PC nonsense that free and civil speech causes harm. Now sections of the activist class contend that democracy too is harmful. They are unlikely to find accord among dissidents in totalitarian states.

In the same week, Islamophobia propagandists tried to stop ­enlightenment advocate and freethinker Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaking at events across Australia. She too has been criticised as harmful by people whose sense of self, status and taxpayer-funded careers rely on cultivating and maintaining a victim identity.

Just as the PC naval-gazers looked like they had reached peak narcissism, along came an outrage to outrage them all; a video of civil conversation between beer-drinking blokes. If not for the gallows of political correctness, the story could rival Springtime for Hitler in hilarity.

Consider the context. The scene is set on a balmy, late summer day. Two high-profile politicians from the political right — men in the prime of their lives — want to talk marriage. They have arranged to meet on none other than Valentine’s Day at, wait for it, Queen’s Terrace. Their brief, polite conversation is filmed by a fellow who recently has come out of the closet in Newtown, a Sydney suburb brimming with students, activists, lesbians and gays. Unfortunately, he has come out as a Christian and conservative in Newtown, which is something akin to staging a drag cabaret in the Kremlin.

The chat between the conservative straight politician who supports traditional marriage and the libertarian gay politician who wants same-sex marriage legalised is amicable. It is so civilised and friendly that it enrages activists who view dissenters as an enemy class to be silenced, not ­befriended. They dislike civility and public reason because it ­exposes their intemperance.

Some outraged activists took to Twitter and any social media platform they could find to launch a queer fear blitz on beer.

The video to discuss the meaning of marriage featured Coopers beer that was produced as part of a joint Coopers and Bible Society campaign, “Keeping it Light”. The brewer has a long association with the society and the campaign ­includes a series of beer cartons with inspirational quotes from the Bible. Such quotes shouldn’t be controversial in any country, let alone a Christian-majority nation.

In the past, some wine companies have inscribed bottles with scripture. It appears that the Coopers case became controversial for two reasons. Firstly, the company has a relationship with a Christian organisation (very politically ­incorrect). Secondly, the video cele­brated public reason on the question of marriage, which is an issue the PC class wants to monopolise. It targets dissenters, regardless of whether they are gay, bisexual or straight. The aim is to shut down all debate to create ­absolute ideological conformity.

Several Coopers boycotters were associated with the Greens. Adam Bandt and Christine Milne backed the boycott, as did Jason Ball, who stood as Greens candidate in the last election. On Twitter, Ball wrote: “… conservative Christians buy up cases of alco­hol to smite gay people”. James Brechney, a Mardi Gras board member, led an online petition to boycott Coopers. It read: “Coopers recent alignment with the Bible Society, who are openly against Marriage Equality, is shameful!” Brechney described the conversation on marriage between parliamentary mates Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson thus: “A video where two Liberal Party MPs discuss the issue of same-sex marriage. It’s horrendous!”

On the Coopers Club forum, some members decried the company’s commercial relationship with a Christian group. However, when a member asked what they thought of Coopers’ halal certification, most declined to criticise the company’s relationship with an Islamic group. It is a double standard. Boycott and divestment campaigns against Christians or Jews are commonly justified while boycotts of Islamic organisations are deemed racist.

Coopers made the critical error of capitulating to PC bigotry. ­According to sources, the legal counsel for Coopers asked the Bible Society to take down the video. It is no longer available ­online. In a filmed apology, Tim and Melanie Cooper looked like a pair of thought reform victims in a re-education camp.

If you want liberty, democracy and Christianity to survive, never submit to the PC mob. In its ­response, Coopers might have stated simply that while the company didn’t finance the video, its ­leadership believes in free speech, freedom of association and a ­vibrant Australian democracy where mates can discuss any issue over a beer.

There was little to learn from the activist campaign against free speech between mates, but irony emerged in its wake. The biblical quote on Coopers’ controversial beer read: “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3:21).


Bob Brown defiant over Gillian Triggs fundraising speech

UPDATED: Bob Brown has issued a defiant message about Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs’ planned speaking engagement at a fundraiser for the former Greens leader.

Several Coalition MPs have criticised the booking of Professor Triggs at the Hobart dinner at the end of the month, saying she should withdraw or resign immediately from the Human Rights Commission.

Liberal backbencher Eric Abetz said the event appeared to contravene the Public Service Code of Conduct.

Mr Brown responded via Twitter today:  Professor Triggs has agreed to address the $50 per person fundraising event for the Bob Brown Foundation on the topic of “Fighting for our rights – a ‘fair go Australia’”.

Senator Abetz said: “For a senior public official like Professor Triggs to attend a blatant fundraising event for a left-wing political action group like the Bob Brown Foundation just displays once again a very poor level of judgement”.

“Professor Triggs is paid more than $400,000 each year by the taxpayer and is expected to be impartial. If Professor Triggs won’t withdraw then she should resign.

“There is no doubt that Dr Brown still has very deep links to the Australian Greens and that this event could in no way be impartial. As head of the HRC, she should be reconsidering her position.”

Senator Abetz said the fundraiser appearance was the latest in a long line of questionable decisions made by Professor Triggs.

“Between awarding compensation to a wife killer, looking into children in detention several years too late, dragging four university students before tribunals and courts for four years just to be found innocent over a Facebook post, misleading journalists and parliamentary committees and now this blatant political activism – you’ve got to wonder if we could do any worse,” he said. “The Australian people deserve better than this continued saga.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton also called for Professor Triggs to cancel her appearance or quit.

“Gillian Triggs has done enough damage to the office already,” Mr Dutton told The Daily Telegraph. “Surely for the sake of the people she purports to represent she should announce her candidacy for the Greens or step aside from the position.”

Professor Triggs is adamant the dinner is not a political event.

Although Dr Brown is no longer a politician, his foundation conducts activist campaigns with overtly political intentions.

“I have been assured by the organisers that the event is not a fundraiser,” she said. “The income from tickets will be used to cover the costs and any surplus will be donated to charity.”

“It is not a political event, but an annual Hobart oration. I am not being paid an appearance fee and my travel and accommodation costs are being covered by the organisers.”

Professor Triggs, who is supposed to be unbiased, will deliver a speech titled “Fighting for our rights — a fair go Australia’’ at a dinner for Dr Brown’s foundation in Hobart on March 30.


State Premier lies to cover up Greenie folly

His manic anti-coal hatred caused several major blackouts in South Australia

Business leaders have been left stunned after Jay Weatherill, during a debate a year out from the next state election, claimed that Alinta Energy had made no offer to keep the state’s last coal-fired power station open.

This is despite The Australian in August revealing correspondence between Alinta Energy and state Treasurer Tom Koutsan­tonis, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, in which the government rejected a transition plan to keep the Northern power station in Port Augusta open until 2018. The plant permanently shut in May, with immediate price ­surges of ­almost 75 per cent and a wind-reliant grid that has led to a spate of blackouts.

The government is continuing to deny access to 12 documents sought under FOI by the opposition, which are being reviewed by the ombudsman, and will not reveal how much financial assistance was sought by Alinta.

Yesterday, during a pre-election leaders’ debate hosted by Business SA and the Property Council, Mr Weatherill was asked by Opposition Leader Steven Marshall to “tell the 650 people here today” how much Alinta wanted to keep its baseload power station open to help with the transition to renewable power.

“It was put to you, it was put to cabinet, and it was rejected — tell us now whether it was much higher than the $550 million energy plan you’re now putting on the people of South Australia.”

As the audience applauded, the Premier shook his head. “They (Alinta) were never offering to do that, simple as that,” he said. Pressed by the debate moderator, the Premier insisted there was “absolutely” no offer on the table, but later said he would not reveal what Alinta had asked for.

FOI documents show Alinta took a firm transition plan seeking financial support to the government on May 6, 2015. A fortnight later, Mr Koutsantonis rejected the approach, advising chief executive Jeff Dimery that “the support requested would not be forthcoming”.

In a follow-up letter to Mr Dimery, the Treasurer said: “The government considered Alinta Energy’s revised proposal and is unable to accommodate the ­significantly increased funding request.”

Mr Dimery said in June 2015 that despite talks with the government to stay open, its policies to promote high levels of renewable energy generation had forced the power station’s closure.

Mr Weatherill this week recommitted SA to its 50 per cent renewable energy target, saying it had almost been achieved.

Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan last night said voters had the right to know what it would have cost to keep the Northern power station operating. He said it was understood the support requested by Alinta was less than 10 per cent of the $550m cost of the Weatherill government’s energy strategy.

“If there was no offer then why is a confidentiality gag in place and why is the government fighting 12 Freedom of Information applications?” he said.

The debate came a day after Mr Weatherill traded insults with federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg at an AGL announcement in Adelaide. Mr Frydenberg labelled the state’s new energy policy as the Premier’s “$550m admission of failure”.

Mr Weatherill on Tuesday said the state would “go it alone” and released a six-point energy plan.


CGT attacks are an example of the tall poppy syndrome
Herman Toh

This week has seen a renewed focus on targeting capital gains tax with the threat that the fifty per cent concession will be cut -- a proposal that rears its unattractive noggin on nearly an annual basis. Essentially, this means there will be an increase in taxes on capital.  Tall poppy syndrome seems to be going into overdrive. What next? A tax only for the rich!

There are several reasons why it would be a terrible idea to increase capital gains tax levels.

First, capital gains tax creates what is called the lock-in effect. Meaning, owners of assets are incentivised to hold onto assets to avoid paying capital gains tax. One example where this is most prevalent is the housing market where investors are taxed on an investment property. This creates a decrease in housing available for sale. With housing affordability as a hot-button issue, any action that causes a restriction on the supply side should be avoided.

Second, capital gains tax inflicts an additional burden on capital that has already been taxed. An example of that would be company shares. Any capital that is first earned by a company is taxed. The issue is that if the company retains the profit, it then increases the value of the company's shares. When the shares are sold, capital gains tax is applied.
The third reason is capital gains tax is not indexed to inflation. Taxing the inflation component increases the effective tax rate on savings above the official tax rate, as argued by the Henry Tax Review. This means capital gains can be overtaxed if there is no inflation adjustment. This works as another disincentive to invest .

Finally, there is a risk in any investment.  To reward the investors for contributing to the economy, a lower capital gain tax would provide incentives for people to invest. We need to stop demonising people for wanting to invest in housing or shares that help them make money. Neither are they cash cows to be milked whenever the government has a shortfall in the budget.


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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Is housing the homeless a good idea?

The report summarized below says that the monetary benefits outweigh the costs but I strongly suspect some courageous assumptions in their calculations.  Most people however do seem to want to get rough sleepers off the streets and out of the public parks so my suggestion would be the provision of domitories to which they can be taken rather than putting them into full accomodation. 

The people concerned generally have mental problems to at least some degree so we would not want them to reproduce.  And providing a full apartment to them might tend to encourage partnering and reproduction -- leading to a new dependent generation for the taxpayers to support.  By all means get them into safer quarters but limit what is provided for free

It's cheaper to provide last resort housing to homeless people than to leave them sleeping rough, a new cost-benefit analysis has found.

The analysis found governments and society benefit more than they spend by providing last resort housing to homeless individuals. This is mainly through reduced healthcare costs, reduced crime, and helping people get back into employment or education.

This comprehensive cost-benefit analysis was commissioned by a team of experts from the University of Melbourne, NGOs, and architecture firms. The analysis was conducted by consulting firm SGS Economics and Planning.

Key points:

The number of people sleeping rough in Melbourne's streets has increased by over 70% in the last two years. Homelessness is now at emergency levels. Key causes are the unaffordability of housing, people escaping domestic violence and a structural lack of social housing.

There has been a reduction in the supply of "last resort housing". Last resort housing refers to legal rooming and boarding houses, and emergency accommodation.

On average, more than 40 requests for last resort housing are turned down across Victoria every day.

Our analysis shows that the government providing one last resort bed will generate a net benefit of $216,000 over 20 years. That averages to a net benefit of $10,800 per year.

The majority of those benefits (75%) flow to society and the remainder to the individual.

For every $1 invested in last resort beds to address the homelessness crisis, $2.70 worth of benefits are generated for the community (over 20 years).

In other words, the benefits of providing last resort housing outweigh the costs. There is much to gain in economic and social terms, both for government and society, by assisting the homeless.

This is because if homeless individuals find stable accommodation they require less healthcare and fewer emergency admissions, and they are less likely to be involved in crime (both as victims and perpetrators). They are more likely to reconnect with employment and education. Homelessness also incurs property blighting and nuisance costs. Importantly, last resort housing can greatly improve the quality of life of individuals.

Our analysis shows that the form of last resort housing which makes the most sense economically is the construction of new, permanent stock - especially medium to large-sized facilities. Converting existing buildings, and subsidising private rentals, are both worth considering as well especially in the short term.

The commissioning team calls on governments to build more new, permanent last resort housing to help the homeless, because the benefits outweigh the costs. Existing last resort housing should be protected and maintained. These are issues for local, state and federal governments.

The commissioning team hopes the research presented in this report will be used to develop stronger business cases for - and ultimately generate substantial investment in - last resort housing.


We're failing to protect indigenous children for fear of another Stolen Generation

That's quite true.  But who is to blame for that?  It is unequivocally the fault of lying Leftist historians who pumped up normal social work among Aboriginal children into a "Stolen Generation".  Social workers went into self protective mode in response to that great slur by often refusing to rescue Aboriginal children for any reason whatsoever.  Who would want to become the object of a Leftist hate campaign?

Warren Mundine

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd lamented the high numbers of indigenous children being removed from their community and culture, saying: "We do not want another generation of young Aboriginal children unnecessarily separated from their culture. We do not want to see the emergence of a second Stolen Generation, not by design, but by default."

On ABC's The Drum, Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Price rebuked Rudd saying: "Indigenous children's lives must come before anything else." She also spoke of family members having "begged for children to be removed" and placed with non-indigenous families they know and trust only to have child protection workers say "No, No. It's their culture that's more important" or citing the Stolen Generation as justification for not removing them.

The fact is there are indigenous children living in the grip of dysfunction, abuse, family violence and addiction.

Report after report has found children exposed to some of the worst forms of violence, sexual assaults, psychological abuse and neglect imaginable.

Last year the NT's Coroner described family violence there as out of control with one child subjected to domestic violence and three witnessing it every day.

The Drum's official Facebook Page posted Price's interview with the caption: "Indigenous children's lives must come before anything else. even if it means taking them from their families. Jacinta Price shares her controversial view."

Since when is putting a child's life first "controversial"? It's the basis of Australia's child protection system and indigenous children have as much right to protection as any other. Of course children should know their culture and have the opportunity to be part of it. But that isn't more important than their right to live safely, free of abuse and violence and healthy, fed, clothed, housed, educated and loved.

If a child's extended family is rife with dysfunction, and many are, no family member may be able to care for them. And it's not always possible for indigenous children to be cared for in community. I've fostered children. It's a big responsibility. And if a child comes from a small, close knit community, where everyone has a kin relationship with everyone else, it may be impossible to protect a child if they remain there.

Unfortunately, sometimes it's a choice between a child's individual interests and the child living within their family, community and/or cultural group. This isn't a hard choice. The child's interests come first. Few people object to this principle when it comes to white children. When it comes to indigenous children it's sensitive or "controversial", as if their membership of a group is more important than their wellbeing. This mentality is racist.

Today's situation is nothing like the Stolen Generation. Indigenous children aren't being removed to assimilate them into white society in anticipation of indigenous extinction, but because of abuse and neglect at home. Last year, Victoria's Commission for Children and Young People released its report on services provided to Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in Victoria. Read the report and you'll find 88 per cent had experienced family violence and 87 per cent were exposed to parental alcohol/substance use.

Last November at the National Launch of the Family Matters campaign, Senator Pat Dodson described the high levels of indigenous children being removed from their families as "genocide". I disagree. Even the Victorian report says "Most Victorian Aboriginal children are cared for in loving families, where they are cherished, protected and nurtured, where their connection to community and culture is strong, their Koori identity is affirmed and they are thriving, empowered and safe."

Price's statement that child protection agencies justify leaving children in unsafe environments because culture is more important is shocking. This must stop. In the future there'll be another generation of indigenous people deserving an apology from government, not for removing them but for failing to protect them.


School standards drop as government pushes a politically correct program


PARENTS should be worried about the LGBTI Safe Schools gender and sexuality program being forced on government schools by Daniel Andrews' government.

Add the fact, as reported in The Australian recently, that vulnerable teenagers with intellectual disabilities enrolled in Victorian special schools are also being indoctrinated, and it's understandable why so many now call the program Un-Safe Schools.

Such was the furore last year about Safe Schools' indoctrinating of pupils with a Marxist-inspired curriculum, where gender is fluid and limitless and boys can be girls and girls can be boys, that the Commonwealth censored the program and cut its funding.

Not so in Victoria, where the uncensored version is being promoted. Education Minister James Merlino has said "Work is under way on expanding Safe Schools to all government schools by the end of 2018."

Supporters argue it is an anti-bullying program to make schools safer. Wrong.

Roz Ward, the Marxist academic responsible for its design, publicly admits its real purpose is to impose a radical, alternative view about gender and sexuality: "Safe Schools Coalition is about supporting gender and sexual diversity, not about stopping bullying." She says it's about "sexual diversity, about same-sex attraction, about being transgender, about being lesbian, gay, bisexual - say the words transgender, intersex".

While the government severed ties with Ward and La Trobe University's Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society late last year, the Safe Schools material is still guilty of advocating an extreme, cultural-Left view of gender and sexuality.

Notwithstanding that about 98 per cent of Australians identify as heterosexual and are comfortable being men and women, one of the resources, OMG I'M Queer, tells pupils that "sexuality can't really be defined". It is stated that "sexuality is fluid, and changes over time" and "Looking at sexuality as something that's fluid and always changing is pretty cool".

According to Safe Schools, "what you label yourself is up to you" as "common definitions of sexuality, gender and sex are often limited" and because gender and sexuality "exist on a spectrum rather than absolute binaries".

Ignored (as argued by the American College of Pediatricians, and with very rare exceptions) is that we are all born with either XY or XX chromosomes, and "Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species".

Even though most children are happy being boys or girls, the Safe Schools material argues "Gender isn't quite as simple as whether you're `male' or `female'. Everyone has their own gender identity in relation to masculinity or femininity". Victoria's version of Safe Schools also repeats the misleading statistics used by the LGBTI lobby when justifying the need for government funding and positive discrimination.

The All of Us booklet tells pupils 10 per cent of people are same-sex-attracted. Ignored is one of the largest Australian surveys, by Anthony Smith and Paul Badcock, Sexual identity and practices, that concludes only 1.6 per cent of men identify as gay and 0.8 per cent of women as lesbian.

On reading the Safe Schools material on the Victorian Department of Education and Training's website, parents are left in no doubt that Safe Schools is more about LGBTI advocacy than stopping bullying. Schools are told that language should be gender-neutral and, as a result, "Phrases like `ladies and gentlemen' or `boys and girls' should be avoided".

Schools are also told they should ensure, regardless of whether pupils are male and female, that they should be able to use "the toilets, changing rooms, showers and swimming facilities based on the student's gender identity and the facilities they feel most comfortable with".

Safe Schools is not the only alternative, cultural-Left program. The Respectful Relationships material is also one-sided and biased. Even though the Victorian royal commission concluded that 25 per cent of family violence involves men as victims, the Respectful Relationships program implies it's only women who are at risk. Boys and men are portrayed as misogynist and violent.

Once again gender is presented as a social construct that is impossible to define because whatever gender you are is "determined by what an individual feels and does and how individuals understand their identities including being a man, women, transgender, gender queer and many other gender positions".

But at the same time the government is forcing a politically correct gender and sexuality program on government schools, we are going backwards in international literacy and numeracy tests; we are now ranked 24th in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. So much for the basics.


The sun has set on Greens' dreams - and they may not be renewable

By GRAHAM RICHARDSON (They've taken most of his insides out but Richo's brain still seems to be working as well as ever.  He was always a realist)

Twenty years ago, the Greens were forming governments in Europe and were on the rise. In Australia, they even entertained dreams of winning power, state or federally. In all the words written and said about the election in Western Australia barely a sentence has been about the Greens. The Greens' dream has well and truly faded. Their vote has hovered about 10 per cent for all of those two decades and they have been utterly useless when it comes to convincing Australians to support them. They continue to run up their flag and they continue to see only that loyal 10 per cent prepared to salute.

During those two decades Australians have moved further to the right and the Greens, our only genuinely left-wing political party, are stuck on 10 per cent with almost no hope of ever seeing their support increase. It is disappointing that the Greens, like Labor, never seem to try to convince voters that man-made climate change is a big problem. They seem to assume that a big majority here believes in climate change. That may have been the case a decade ago but now the sceptics and the non-believers are able to argue the lack of evidence to support the onset of climate change without any real effort to defeat their arguments.

The blind pursuit of ridiculous renewable energy targets is a Greens push adopted by Labor and now works against them both.

I felt almost sorry for Jay Weatherill this week when he announced the building of this useless, mega-expensive battery farm. Flim-flam won't replace solid policy. The Greens led the South Australian Premier down the road to ruin and he acquiesced too quickly. The lights have gone out on South Australians several times now and the state Liberals, as pathetic as they appear to be, will no doubt turn the lights out on the Weatherill government at the next election.

Meanwhile, as if to reaffirm their vote of no confidence in the electorate, the Greens go further and further to the left. The bleatings of Sarah Hanson-Young served only to alienate ordinary Australians. The Greens' spend-up-big policies on every form of government endeavour frightens the horses. Then this week their leader, Richard Di Natale, scaled new heights of madness suggesting a four-day week. While the rest of us try to find ways to make this country more productive, the good old Greens want to take us backwards.

No party of the left can do well in Australia in today's electoral climate so the Greens are guaranteed to remain fringe players in the game of winning real power. Sure, they will win the odd inner-city seat and each time this occurs they will tell us that this is the dawn of a new era. The false dawns have come and gone before but the Greens are destined to be cellar dwellers for a very long time.

The goals of the Greens in some cases are absolutely right but time is never adequately allocated to achieve them. Renewable energy makes sense and I congratulate Malcolm Turnbull for seeking to increase by 50 per cent the output of the Snowy River Hydroelectric Scheme. This is real forward thinking, a commodity in short supply in our nation. It won't be enough on its own to solve our energy crisis but it is a giant stride in the right direction.

Let us all hope that it may embolden the Prime Minister to push for the building of other dams around Australia. We don't build dams any more on a continent infamous for its lack of water. Usually the Greens can find an endan-gered toad or rat that needs to be protected and judge its needs as much more important than the aspirations of a country looking for a drink or for some irrigation.


Malcolm Turnbull doubts there'll be much co-operation with the new secretary of the ACTU if she stands by her comments that the peak union is above "unjust laws"

Sally McManus, who was this week promoted inside the ACTU, has drawn criticism after suggesting it was OK to break unjust laws, with even Labor leader Bill Shorten disagreeing with her view.

"If she thinks that she and her unions are above the law then there's not much we can do with her I'm afraid," Mr Turnbull told 3AW's Neil Mitchell on Friday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a tour of a power station at the Snowy Hydro Scheme. c Lukas Coch/ AAP Image Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a tour of a power station at the Snowy Hydro Scheme. He equated her comments to a culture of thuggery as seen in the construction union.

Asked about something she wrote on social media last year claiming Mr Turnbull has no central beliefs which guide him, he said "that's just abuse, isn't it?"

He cited his commitment to freedom, to the liberty of the individual, to drive economic growth and nation building.

"I had the courage as prime minister to dissolve both houses of parliament so that we could get passed laws that would restore the rule of law to the construction sector," he said.

"A lot of people said we wouldn't succeed ... those laws have been passed."


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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The only way to save coral reefs: A war on global warming (?)

This utter BS first came out in Australian newspapers and I commented on it then.  I found the article below in the Boston Globe, however, so the nonsense has spread.  In the circumstances, I think I should repeat and amplify my earlier comments. 

Cape Grim tells us that CO2 levels have been plateaued on 401ppm since last July (midwinter)  So anything that has happened in the recent summer is NOT due to a rise in CO2. 

And NASA/GISS tell us that the December global temperature anomaly is back to .79 -- exactly where it was in 2014 before the recent El Nino event that covered the second half of 2015 and most of 2016.  So there has been no global warming in the recent Southern summer and there was no CO2 rise to cause anything anywhere anyway. 

The claim that this summer's bleaching was an effect of global warming is a complete crock for both reasons.  The data could not be clearer on that.  The seas around Northeast Australia may or may not be unusually warm at the moment but if they are it is some local effect of air and ocean currents etc. The warming in NOT a part of global warming

Reducing pollution and curbing overfishing won't prevent the severe bleaching that is killing coral at catastrophic rates, according to a study of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. In the end, researchers say, the only way to save the world's coral from heat-induced bleaching is with a war on global warming.

Scientists are quick to note that local protection of reefs can help damaged coral recover from the stress of rising ocean temperatures. But the new research shows that such efforts are ultimately futile when it comes to stopping bleaching in the first place.

"We don't have any tools to climate-proof corals," said Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia and lead author of the study being published on Thursday in the journal Nature. "That's a bit sobering. We can't stop bleaching locally. We actually have to do something about climate change."

Across the world, scores of brilliantly colored coral reefs once teeming with life have in recent years become desolate, white graveyards. Their deaths due to coral bleaching have grown more frequent as ocean temperatures rise, mainly due to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The hot water stresses corals, forcing them to expel the colorful algae living inside them, which leaves the corals vulnerable to disease and death. Given enough time, bleached coral can recover if the water cools, but if the temperature stays too high for too long, the coral will die.

Preserving coral reefs is crucial, given we depend on them for everything from food to medical research to protection from damaging coastal storms. Scientists and policymakers have thus been scrambling to find ways to prevent bleaching. Last year, for example, Hawaiian officials proposed several measures they hoped would fight bleaching on the state's reefs, such as limiting fishing, establishing new marine protected areas, and controlling polluted runoff from land. The question was whether such efforts could provide the corals any resistance to bleaching, or just help them recover.

The researchers conducted aerial and underwater surveys of the Great Barrier Reef, which has experienced three major bleaching events, the worst of which occurred last year. The scientists found that the severity of bleaching was tightly linked to how warm the water was. In the north, which experienced the hottest temperatures, hundreds of individual reefs suffered severe bleaching in 2016, regardless of whether the water quality was good or bad, or whether fishing had been banned. That means even the most pristine parts of the reef are just as prone to heat stress as those that are less protected.

Prior exposure to bleaching also did not appear to provide any protective benefit to the coral. The scientists found that the reefs that were highly bleached during the first two events, in 1998 and 2002, did not experience less severe bleaching last year.

Ultimately, the study concluded, saving reefs from the ravages of bleaching requires urgent action to reduce global warming.

"I think it's a wake-up call," Hughes said. "We've been hoping that local interventions with water quality and fishing would improve the resistance of the corals to bleaching. We found no evidence that that's actually true, at least during a very severe event."

The study shows that older ways of thinking about reef management, such as reducing river runoff, are now moot points when it comes to preventing bleaching, said Kim Cobb, a climate scientist and coral researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

"It all seems so quaint now, really," said Cobb, who wasn't part of the study. "A future that we thought was decades coming is basically here."

The research also illustrated the gravity of the situation facing the 1,400-mile Great Barrier Reef. The team found 91 percent of the reef has been bleached at least once during the three bleaching events. Even more alarming, Hughes said, is that a fourth bleaching event is already underway. Corals need years to recover from bleaching, so back-to-back events increase the possibility that the bleached coral will die.

The study shows that very intense coral bleaching events are no longer isolated and are happening more regularly, said coral reef scientist Julia Baum of Canada's University of Victoria. That assertion has been further bolstered by the Great Barrier Reef's latest bleaching event, which began a few weeks ago and which Baum says has stunned scientists.

"None of us were expecting the water to be heating up again right now," Baum said. "I think it's beyond what any of us could have imagined. It's our worst nightmare."


The foreign investor myth that's fooled us all

THE Australian property market is a complex beast.

Prospective homeowners are so desperate to get a foothold in the housing game they're putting off having children as they front up to dozens of open houses and auctions each weekend trying to find their forever homes. Yet in the very same suburbs, foreign investors - predominantly Chinese buyers - are snapping up properties they're happy to let languish unoccupied with no intention of ever living in them.

What's seen as the great Australian dream for one buyer is merely a place to park money for another.

The housing crisis looming over home-owning hopefuls is completely at odds with what's going on in the cashed up world of Chinese investors. At first glance it seems foreign investors are driving up prices by taking the homes first home buyers believe they deserve, but experts are not convinced the two are so easily linked.

Alarming figures published this week show one in every 10 homes in NSW is purchased by foreign investors - 11 per cent of property purchases - and some of those are being left vacant.

A closer look at the figures, according to the Australian Financial Review, shows the figures aren't as scary as they seem. Once you strip out home jointly purchased by Australian and foreign citizens or by dual citizens, the share of foreign buyers is just 8 per cent, and that includes permanent residents according to today's report.

While many call Australia - and their new properties - home, the motivation for the few overseas property moguls who keep their purchases vacant is generally either so the owners or their children can inhabit them at their whim when they want to visit, or simply to "offshore" some cash and wait to turn over a profit when they eventually sell. For this particular brand of investor, rental income is not an issue.

It seems unfair these houses should languish unoccupied and presumably be stripped from the market that young families are clambering to enter but, according to University of Sydney chair of urban and regional planning and policy Peter Phibbs, the two buying groups aren't always stepping on each other's toes.

"The Chinese investor is quite complicated and what they're after is not the same as what your average first homebuyer is looking for," he said.

"Often they want to live around Chinese people where there's Chinese food and culture. It's not like they're spread out all across the city. A lot of them are looking at apartment blocks in Chatswood where they're very dominant in that market.

"You can't imagine your first homebuyer that's trying to buy a crappy semi in the middle of the suburbs is going to have to fight a fight with an investor over that sort of property."

Prof Phibbs said it was important to bear these differences in mind when looking to pin the blame on high house prices on foreign buyers, particularly when many of them, anecdotally, were unconcerned with the livability of the properties they were investing in.

"Certainly if you've got a lot of money in China and you're a bit unsure about the direction of the regime, banking your cash in Australian real estate would be a good strategy," he said.

"That could be part of the reason why sometimes those increases in stamp duty in Victoria (imposed on foreign investors) haven't made too much difference. Some of that market is definitely not operating like a normal housing investor market, there are clearly buyers that are only interested in offshoring money."

He said often foreign buyers would barely consider the living conditions for their investment properties, seeing them as a banking mechanism rather than a home.

Last week the House Economics Committee review into Australia's four big banks heard that, in Melbourne, a glut of apartments had sprung up as foreign buyers failed to settle on property sales, and were having difficulty trying to offload properties "which may or may not be what the local buyers want".

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer told the committee local buyers rejected the lower quality apartments that Chinese buyers had put money into in favour of higher quality developments, the Australian Financial Review reported.

"Take an apartment building in the Docklands [Melbourne] that is a luxury building with a high-quality build and it's fine and we will back a good development with high quality local buyers. Some of those buildings will be fine," he said.

"You can go half a dozen blocks away and find another apartment building with a small footprint targeting overseas buyers who don't plan to live there and it's in trouble. You actually have to go building by building."

It's easy to rebuke foreign buyers for locking the rest of us out of the market, but if you look at it another way, without them the market would be a lot smaller.

Prof Phibbs said it was actually thanks to them that a lot of new developments were getting off the ground.

"You can't get finance for an apartment block without presales, and guess who's buying off the plan?" he said.

"By making that investment and boosting that supply, foreign buyers are in a way helping out domestic investors."

According to the Foreign Investment Review Board, the government's policy is to channel foreign investment into new dwellings "as this creates additional jobs in the construction industry and helps support economic growth".

When the new foreign investment rules were implemented, it was decided that foreign investment applications should be decided in light of the principle that "the proposed investment should increase Australia's housing stock" or contribute to creating at least one new additional dwelling.

In order to curb the number of foreign buyers flooding the real estate market, state governments have introduced a number of measures.

The NSW government last year introduced a four per cent foreign investors stamp duty surcharge, and Opposition Leader Luke Foley on Tuesday said if Labor was elected it would lift that to seven per cent and double the land tax.

Victoria has already boosted its stamp duty for foreign buyers to seven per cent, but it's made little impact.

NSW property industry leaders have slammed the suggestion of hiking surcharges for foreign buyers, saying it throttles supply.

According to Prof Phibbs, measures to reduce demand are "probably a good thing at the moment", and while it's important to remember property, like other markets, is now dealing in "a global market", slapping on extra fees to those who were least harmed by the housing crisis "couldn't hurt".


Literally no idea about literacy and numeracy

Blaise Joseph

In my entire teacher education degree, there was just one subject dedicated to learning how to teach literacy and numeracy. And ironically that subject included very little literacy and no numeracy.

It is unsurprising therefore -- but nonetheless concerning -- that it's necessary for the federal government to require students doing teacher education degrees to pass a literacy and numeracy test before they can be accredited to teach.

The test requires students to achieve the literacy and numeracy level equivalent to the top 30% of Australian adults (not the loftiest of goals). This week we learnt that over 5% of teacher education students didn't achieve the required level on the test in 2016 and another 3% had to re-sit the test, despite having already been admitted to a teacher education degree.

Students are charged $185 to sit the compulsory test -- and are then charged the same amount again if they have to re-sit it. They are entitled to wonder why they were admitted to an expensive teaching degree in the first place if their literacy and numeracy skills were not necessarily up to scratch.

This raises many questions. How has the quality of graduate intake in teaching degrees fallen so low that the ATAR cut-offs don't eliminate applicants who lack the literacy and numeracy levels required? What are universities actually covering in teaching degrees if an external test for literacy and numeracy is still needed? And are there teachers already in schools who don't have adequate literacy and numeracy skills themselves -- and so have no hope of passing on these basic skills to school students?

The absurdity of having to test the literacy and numeracy levels of teacher education students, who will soon be responsible for teaching literacy and numeracy, shows how from primary school through to university the Australian education system is failing to consistently get the basics right. No wonder Australia's school results have been declining in the international rankings.

It is a crucial problem that literacy and numeracy are not being taught as well as they could. They are the foundations of a proper education.


Headscarves ban: Bronnie urges Islamic headscarf ban in Australia

Bronwyn Bishop has urged Australians to "fight for our culture" while announcing her support of a ban on headscarves in Australia following a controversial ruling made in Europe overnight.  "It's an excellent ruling, an excellent ruling and I'd like to see a similar ruling here," Ms Bishop told Sydney's Macquarie Radio this afternoon.

The former politician and speaker in the House of Representatives was responding to a decision made in the European Court of Justice which may allow European companies to legally forbid employees from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols.

The court argued such a ban does not constitute "direct discrimination".

"The word discriminate gets banded around a hell of a lot doesn't it? But sometimes it's a good thing to be discriminating and it's a good thing to not tolerate the intolerable," said Ms Bishop told radio host Ben Fordham.

The ruling in Europe was a response to two cases presented by a Belgian and a French woman who were both fired for refusing to remove their headscarves in the workplace.

Ms Bishop, who resigned from Parliament in 2015 after a travel expenses scandal, says such a ban should be adopted in Australia. "I've said for a long time that young girls who are going to public schools in Australia should wear the school uniform and not a religious uniform," Ms Bishop said.

She also referenced the controversy surrounding Punchbowl High in Sydney's west, where alternative ways for pupils and female teachers to interact are being explored in response to religious beliefs that prevent males from shaking a woman's hand.

"Somehow people are saying a solution to that is they can put their hand on their heart," said Ms Bishop. "Well they can put their hand where they damn well like, but in this country, if a hand is put out by a woman, you take it. This is our culture and we have to fight for our culture."

"When I hear the Department of Education start to say it's okay for a boy to put his hand on his heart instead of taking a woman's hand is totally unacceptable. Because the belief behind that is that women are unclean. It just is totally unacceptable. In this country men and women are equal and if we don't, as women, stand up for that continually then we will lose that battle. I'm not prepared to lose it."


Bill Leak: silencing a larrikin spirit


I feel not only terrible sadness at Bill Leak's premature death but also anger and resentment.

Bill was not gunned down at his office, like the writers and artists of Charlie Hebdo, nor did a murderous Somali axeman break into his home, as happened to Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish Mohammed cartoonists, nor did he have his last public appearance shot up by a killer jihadist, as did Swedish artist Lars Vilks. But, as much as any of those, Bill was a target of what he called "the cartoonists hit list" and the wider war on free expression that has rampaged across the West this past decade.

Last October, he woke up to find that, after a cartoon arising from a then current controversy on Aboriginal policy, he was to be investigated by the Australian state's thought police. Indeed, the government's race discrimination commissar, Tim Soutphommasane, was so anxious to haul Bill up on a charge of "racial stereotyping" that he was advertising for plaintiffs: he urged anyone who was offended by it to lodge a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act.

As Bill's mate Tim Blair observed: "This is extraordinary. The Human Rights Commission is now preparing to sit in judgment in a case clearly already decided by one of the HRC's most senior officials. As Homer Simpson once asked: `Who made you Judge Judy and executioner?' "

In the way of apparatchiks everywhere, Commissar Soutphommasane insisted that his -verdict-first-trial-afterwards approach was all part of the vigorous public debate of a healthy democracy: "Cartoons will be subject to all matter of public debate. It's a healthy part of our democracy that we have that debate."

To which I responded: "Sorry. A legal action is not a `debate'. Mr Leak is being `subject to' not debate but state thought-policing - because ideological enforcers like Soutphommasane find debate too tiresome and its results too unpredictable. Which is why he gets a third of a million a year from Australian taxpayers to prevent debate."

Gillian Triggs, the chief commissar of the Australian "Human Rights" Commission, complained that Bill had refused to send her a written response "justifying" his cartoon. Good for him. As I wrote in The Australian at the time, you don't get into a debate with someone whose opening bid is "You can't say that": It's not a dispute with someone who holds a different position but with someone who denies your right to have a position at all - which is what Triggs and Soutphommasane are saying when they require you "to justify an 18D basis for the cartoon". (18D is the relevant section of Australia's crappy anti-free-speech law.) In healthy societies, the state does not require artists to "justify" art.

That was five months ago - the last five months, as it turned out, of Bill's life. So all that "healthy part of our democracy" didn't turn out that healthy for him. As I always say, the process is the punishment, and in this case it may well have proved fatally so.

I can't say for certain what toll the section 18 complaint took on him but I know something about the strain of being caught in the commissars' crosshairs from my own experience with section 13, Canada's equivalent.

I remember one day reading a legal analysis of my case that was all "Steyn this" and "Steyn that" and eventually concluded: "It will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court." And I realised that "it" referred to "Steyn", to me. I was no longer a "he", a flesh-and-blood human being called Mark, but an "it" - a legal matter that happened to share my name. I wonder if Bill ever felt like that under his cheery exterior: you become your case; the case gets bigger and bigger, and the real you becomes smaller and smaller. And, even as your life shrivels, far too many people who should know better swallow all that guff about how "it's a healthy part of our democracy".

Bill was not his case. He was a brilliant observer of the scene, an inventive joker, and a superb draughtsman, which these days too few editorial cartoonists are. One image, for example, pictured above, was on a familiar theme, at least to me - the Left's indulgence of Islamic supremacism. But it's made by the detail - the beard, the earrings, the pose, the trouser colour - and the contrast between the infantilised teacher and his pupils in their neat little English school uniforms.

Australia is not yet beheading infidels but it does drag apostates of the multiculti pieties into court - which is a difference merely of degree. As Blair wrote, Bill was "one of the sweetest, funniest and most generous people I've ever met" - but he was also braver and tougher than men of his prominence have found it prudent to be in this cowardly age.

Two years ago, after the Charlie Hebdo bloodbath, I got pretty sick pretty quickly of the bogus solidarity - not just the #JeSuisCharlie humbug hashtaggery but also the response of the victims' fellow cartoonists around the world, with their fey, limpid drawings of pencils shedding tears and pens mightier than swords, and other evasive twaddle, all of which would have made the dead of Charlie Hebdo puke. Everyone wanted the frisson of courage but without having to show any. Bill's attitude was truer to the spirit of the slain: one example was beautifully drawn - a beard protruding from the burka is a very nice touch - and, if you have to hold candlelit marches through the streets, #JeSuisMohammed would have made a much better slogan.

But you can also sense in it the difficulty a cartoonist faces in a world retreating into silence: you have to come up with something your newspaper will be willing to print. Can you draw Mohammed? Whoa, not in a Western newspaper, no. Can you suggest that someone in the cartoon might be Mohammed? Possibly - if you put him in a burka, with a beard dangling. What if your editor responds to the cardboard placard by saying, "Hang on, mate. Isn't `Je Suis Mohammed' French for `I am Mohammed'?" Well, maybe your line is "No, no, that's just someone showing solidarity with Mohammed" . like Helen Mirren wearing her "Je Suis Charlie" brooch to the Golden Globes.

It's an ingenious solution in an age when, with or without Commissar Triggs and section 18C, "justifying" your cartoon now goes with the job.

But that wasn't the cartoon Bill gave his readers in the days after the Charlie Hebdo slaughter. He drew the "Je Suis Mohammed" beardie-in-a-burka piece pictured above a few months later to accompany a speech he gave on the role of humour in today's world, and it nicely skewers the cartoonist's predicament in our times. In January 2015, in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, he offered a far more direct image: no burka, no ambivalence, just God and Mohammed shooting the breeze in the hereafter.

To their credit, his editors published it. When every other major Western newspaper was professing solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo dead yet refusing to show the reason they died - the Mohammed cartoons - The Australian actually published a new Mohammed cartoon.

Unlike the jihadists in Bill's picture, the real ones couldn't see the joke. So, after a gag about a "cartoonists hit list", the cartoonist wound up on an actual hit list, from Islamic State.

Distinctive-looking persons started showing up around his house. "What do you mean, `distinctive-looking'?" asked the coppers. So he got out his pencil and drew them. On my visit to Australia a year ago, Bill told me, in confidence (though he later went public with it), that as a result of death threats he and his family had been forced to leave their home, and live in a strange house in a new town under police protection.

This is the life of an Australian artist in the 21st century: you exist in a kind of precarious semi-liberty. Having friends over for dinner is a gamble - because if a careless friend mentions it to a friend of a friend, you'll have to move again, to another house in another town, further and further away from what used to be your life. There is a price for not taking refuge in bland, self-flattering hooey about weeping pens might-ier than swords.

Bill paid it without complaint. Last year I gave a speech in Sydney, followed by the usual book signing. It was a very long line that night, and you get a little punchy, head down, staggering from one autograph request to the next, one photograph to the next, and all you see is the guy at the front, not the fellows waiting patiently behind. So I didn't spot Bill until he was at the head of the queue, bantering amiably with those around him. "Who's next?" I asked, and the bloke whose book I'd just signed said breezily, "Australia's best cartoonist." Which is true.

I told Bill he needn't have stood in line - not because he's under Islamic State death threats (I didn't yet know that) and waiting in a slow-moving queue for an hour makes you a very inviting target even for the most incompetent jihadist, but because he could have pulled rank and demanded he get the VIP treatment. Come to that, we'd have been happy to let him have free copies of the five books he'd very generously purchased for friends and family. He scoffed at the suggestion and gave a characteristic Bill response: "That's not how we do things in Australia, Mark," he said, and grinned.

I would like to believe that. I real-ly would. But "how we do things in Australia" - and France, and Denmark and The Netherlands and Sweden and Canada - is what's at issue here. The Islamic State savages said, "That's not how we do things in the new caliphate" - and the Leak family was forced to move house.

And a few months later the goons of the state grievance industry decide to remind him just ex-actly "how we do things in Australia" these days: a man who is already living in hiding because murderous thugs don't like his cartoon has to be further tormented because hack bureaucrats and professional grievance-mongers don't like some other cartoon.

As I said that night in Sydney, these are merely different points on the same continuum: the Islamic State and the Australian state are both in the shut-up business, and proud of it. But for Bill this must have exacted an awful, cumulative toll. The "human rights" investigation was later quietly abandoned after the plaintiff decided to withdraw. The thought enforcers had made their point, they'd pinned the scarlet letter on him and persuaded fainter-hearted artists and writers that here's one more topic you might want to steer clear of. The silence of so many Australian journalists and cartoonists these past five months was more shameful than the accusations of his enemies.

I doubt this is how he thought his life would end up when he first came to public attention in the 1970s. He was a skilled and sensitive portraitist of Sir Don Bradman and other great Australians, and you can see in his paintings what he loved and cherished. He could have led just as successful a life far more quietly. But, when the Islamic Statists and the Australian statists alike decided to target him and his art, he didn't flinch. He understood the malign alliance between Islamic imperialism and a squishy, appeasing West. One of his cartoons shows a spotty T-shirted kid announcing he's off to join Islamic State in "the war on Western freedoms". "No need for that, son," says his dad. "They're giving them away."

And so we are.

Thirty-six hours before his sudden death, Bill held his last book launch, for a collection of cartoons called Trigger Warning. He was by all accounts on great form, calling political correctness "a poison that attacks the sense of humour" and that "infects an awful lot of precious little snowflakes". Other eminent Aussie free-speechers such as Anthony Morris QC were present. But I wonder, in the circumstances, given the state commissars' efforts to de-normalise him and criminalise his work, if his favourite moment during the event wasn't when proceedings were interrupted by the arrival of Australia's iconic cultural ambassador, Sir Les Patterson.

When they play the racism card against you, you always worry that, even if you win, the word's got out that you're no longer quite respectable or mainstream, and the wobblier A-listers among your mates will decide that discretion is the better part of full-throated support. Good for Barry Humphries for putting a stained and sodden arm around Bill on his last night out.

When I wrote my column on Bill's travails for The Australian, I quoted a report in The Economist on my own battles with the "human rights" commissions: "Much of Canada's press and many broadcasters are already noted for politically correct blandness. Some fear that the case can only make that worse. Mr Steyn and others hope it will prompt a narrower brief for the commissions, or even their abolition. As he put it in his blog, `I don't want to get off the hook. I want to take the hook and stick it up the collective butt of these thought police.'

And I added: "Canada's section 13 was eventually repealed. If I can get my hook past Australian Customs, I would be honoured to assist Mr Leak in performing the same service for Australia."

I meant that. Section 18C is a squalid and contemptible law incompatible with a free society. I hope one day that it will be gone - because "that's not how we do things in Australia". But, to return to where we came in, I am bitter and angry that for Bill Leak, a very great Australian, his long overdue victory will be a posthumous one.


A Leftist view of cartoonist Bill Leak.  To the The Leftist "Saturday paper" realism is racism

The Leftist "Saturday paper" is owned by an Israeli draft dodger and edited by a Peace Prize winner so its stories are fairly predictable.  Under the heading "The freedom of a coward", the paper refers to examples of Bill Leak's cartoons that give realistic impressions of life on Aboriginal settlements.  Such cartoons are "racist" said the paper.

To those who have never set foot outside the more affluent suburbs of our capital cities, the portrayals offered by Leak probably do seem grotesque.  For those of us who have had a lot to do with Aborigines, they are simply realistic.  We have seen in real life the sort of thing Leak portrayed.

So there is a issue here:  Is it permissible to say anything negative about minorities?  It's a strange retreat from reality when all minorities must be portrayed as without stain but that seems to be the Leftist position.  If not, why is Leak abused as a racist? 

Clearly the Left are not confronting the absurdity of their  assumptions.  But expecting any balance from them about anything is a big ask, of course

And if Bill was a racist is it not a little strange that he was married to a non-Caucasian person with the charming name of "Goong"?  In the Bogardus scale of social distance, marrying a minority person is the ultimate example of tolerance and lack of prejudice.  The Saturday Paper should be renamed the Saturday Propaganda.  There is no honour, depth or truth in them

Bill Leak was a racist. To pretend otherwise is a nonsense.

His death doesn’t change that. The culture warring obituaries don’t change that. The misguided plea of a former prime minister still squaring up against the national broadcaster doesn’t change that.

It was racism that drew a cartoon of two Aboriginal men drinking – they were always drinking – as they read about John Howard’s Northern Territory intervention. “Rape’s out, bashing’s out,” the speech bubble read. “This could set our culture back by 2000 years!..”

It was racism that drew a cartoon of two Aboriginal men drinking – they were always drinking – as a woman slumped battered behind them. Her exaggerated fat lips were made fatter by violence. Blood ran from her head and nose. A comedy of stars circled above her. The speech bubble: “Sheilas! You give ’em an enriching cultural experience and what thanks do you get??!!..”

They were the same men in both cartoons. For Leak, they were always the same men – grotesqueries of a culture his pictures deemed subhuman.

Bill Leak was not brave. There is nothing brave about the persecution of minorities. There is nothing brave about tracing clich├ęs. Leak became a martyr for free speech but in reality he was a martyr for the right to be wrong. His was the freedom of a coward.

Leak’s late-career targets were rarely the powerful. At some point he gave up on genuine insight. About the same time, he gave up on being funny.

There is history to these cartoons. It is the history of a kind of racism that would not be published in another developed democracy anywhere in the world. Leak’s late cartoons drew on the tropes of colonial propaganda to demean and dehumanise an entire race of people. And that was before you got to the homophobia or the Islamophobia or any of the paranoias that drove his pen.

Bill Leak drew for a country that no longer exists. The majority of the words written since his death have been a kind of specious voodoo – a hope that Leak’s Australia could somehow be reanimated, that racist intimidation would once again dominate, that freedom of speech may be co-opted as a tool to keep down the future and the diversity of people who will make it.

The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, wrote this week that Leak represented “a nation at war over its core values”. He called him “an iconic figure in this struggle … the most important local symbol in the cultural disruption afflicting Western societies.” Leak’s bigotry, in Kelly’s mind, was a corrective to the progressives “dismantling the cultural norms and traditions that have made Western societies such as Australia so successful”.

These are bizarre assertions. They depend on the repression of minorities to maintain an ailing status quo. But this is what Leak spent his time doing.

There is nothing to celebrate in Bill Leak’s death. But there was little to celebrate in the last years of his cartoons, either.


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