Wednesday, November 26, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says that the ABC is cutting rural programs to slight the National Party


Three current articles below

ABC to cut more than 400 jobs

More than 400 people are set to lose their jobs at the ABC as the public broadcaster seeks to offset federal government funding cuts.

Managing director Mark Scott says close to 10 per cent of the ABC's ongoing workforce "face potential redundancy as we adjust our activities over coming months".

"We regard the changes as vital to securing the long-term health of the organisation but I acknowledge that is no comfort to those who will lose their positions."

The Abbott government has slashed $254 million from the ABC's budget over the next five years.  SBS has also been asked to find $53 million in savings over the same period.

Thousands of protesters held rallies against the cuts in Sydney and Melbourne at the weekend.


Turnbull slams Mark Scott over ABC cuts

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has launched a scathing attack on ABC managing director Mark Scott, accusing him of using funding cuts to drive his own agenda.

The coalition party room meeting, held earlier today in Canberra, devoted the majority of its time to criticising Mr Scott’s handling of the $254 million cut delivered to the public broadcaster last week.

Mr Turnbull, who previously had been a staunch defender of Mr Scott’s performance, said the programming cuts announced Monday had nothing to do with efficiencies and there were plenty of alternative options that would not have affected content.

Mr Scott was “using this opportunity as a cover to do things he has wanted to do for a long time,” Mr Turnbull told the party room meeting.

He also said the ABC had an “obsolete business model” and had been “a worker’s collective for quite some time”.

Other coalition MPs described the decision to cut programmes such as Radio National Bush Telegraph and close a number of regional bureaux, as a purely political move.

One MP said the ABC needed a stronger regional and rural voice on its board, a suggestion to which Mr Turnbull agreed.


ABC has flab to cut

When Louise Evans joined Radio National, the staff were like free range chickens, wandering around at will, pecking at this and that, content that laying one egg constituted a hard day's work.

By Louise Evans,  a former manager at ABC's Radio National

"Good luck trying to change anything around here, there are too many lifers."  This was the advice given to me when I started as manager at ABC's Radio National last year.  It seemed like a dream job. I love the ABC and relished the opportunity to help steer RN.

But having previously worked as a journalist, foreign correspondent, editor and managing editor at lean, efficient and editorially robust media companies including Australian Associated Press, Fairfax and News Corp for over 20 years, I was shocked by the culture, waste, duplication and lax workplace practices exercised in some pockets of Radio National. I was even more shocked by the failure of the executive to want to do anything about it.

One problem, as one insider pointed out, was the so-called lifers, a pocket of predominantly middle-aged, Anglo-Saxon staff who had never worked anywhere other than the ABC, who were impervious to change, unaccountable, untouchable and who harboured a deep sense of entitlement.

They didn't have a 9-5 mentality. They had a 10-3 mentality. They planned their work day around their afternoon yoga class. They wore thongs and shorts to work, occasionally had a snooze on the couch after lunch and popped out to Paddy's Market to buy fresh produce for dinner before going home.

They were like free-range chickens, wandering around at will, pecking at this and that, content that laying one egg constituted a hard day's work.

They knew they couldn't be sacked or officially sanctioned because there was no appetite among the executive to make waves, take on the union or make a case for any more redundancies. So the lifers just thumbed their nose at any attempt at performance management. Managers came and went, but they were there for life.

The RN budget was another shock. It was predominantly tied up in wages for 150 people. There was precious little budget to do anything new or innovative and you couldn't turn any program off, no matter how high its costs and how poor its audience share and reach.

The executive would pander to the whims of celebrity presenters because they gave the ABC "edge and credibility", yet would take for granted journalistic giants like Fran Kelly and Geraldine Doogue who present world-class programs.

While online rules the media world, trying to get some RN producers to repurpose on-air content for online was like pulling teeth. Plus the systems they were using were archaic, due to a failure to invest in efficient, integrated content-management systems that worked across divisions and on multi platforms, especially on mobile devices.

There was also blatant waste. Taxi dockets were left in unlocked drawers for the taking and elephantine leave balances had been allowed to accumulate. When programs shut down for Christmas, staff would get approval from their executive producers to hang around for a week or two "to tidy things up". One editor asked for his leave to be cut back by a week because he'd need to pop into work during the holidays to "check emails".That constituted work.

Yet attempts to tighten basic oversight of taxi use and leave, controls that are the norm in the corporate world, were frowned upon by the ABC executive and actively discouraged as "not the main game".

Programming and content generation was another shock. While other media organisations live and die by their ratings, circulation and readership figures, some ABC programmers considered ratings irrelevant. Some producers strongly resisted editorial oversight and locked in segments that lacked editorial rigour and relevance. So the weekly Media Report went to air discussing foreign press freedoms while hundreds of Australian journalists were being made redundant just down the road.

The ABC can be leaner and remain editorially strong and independent as ABC's NewsRadio proves. With less than 20 per cent of RN's total budget, NewsRadio employs brilliant broadcasters including Sandy Aloisi and Marius Benson and produces 5000 hours of robust original content each year that reaches a bigger national weekly audience than RN.

That's why these ABC budget cuts announced by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull are not just necessary but vital to the ongoing health of the corporation.

Pockets of the ABC have been allowed to get too fat, flabby, wasteful and unaccountable.

The doors have to be prised open so that the winds of change that have swept through media companies around the world can reinvigorate our ABC.

The same efficiencies and workplace practices that are the norm in corporate Australia need to be front and centre at the ABC so that it remains a strong, independent voice that is both editorially robust and reflects who we are - a culturally, geographically and socio-economically diverse nation that doesn't believe anyone is entitled to a job for life at the taxpayer's expense.


More BOM shenanigans

(BOM:  "The Australian Climate Observations Reference Network – Surface Air Temperature (ACORN-SAT) dataset has been developed for monitoring climate variability and change in Australia. The dataset employs the latest analysis techniques and takes advantage of newly digitised observational data to provide a daily temperature record over the last 100 years")

The BoM ACORN SAT project has reconstructed Cobar temperature data commencing with an obviously invalid adjustment

This is the second episode in the Cobar ACORN-SAT series examining BoM adjustments to the CDO temperature data – here I start to look at adjustments to minimum temperatures. The 1st episode looked at maximum temperatures.

A list of ACORN adjustments to Cobar data is here and you can see the first min adjustment listed is 1st Jan 1972 meaning the adjustment factor applies to all data earlier than that. You will see it is labelled as “Statistical” meaning there is no evidence for it in station diaries or admin records but it derives from computer driven comparisons sifting data differences from multiple stations as far away as Parkes and Hillston – see map. In this case of the 4th adjustment the following stations data was used.

Making the chart of Cobar annual minimum temperatures compared to ACORN-SAT my eye was caught by the adjustment starting in 2006 and affecting all earlier years which I have marked with a blue 6.

That is unlisted in the ACORN-SAT documentation and is substantial at about -0.4 degrees C. The slight mismatch between Cobar Met Office and ACORN from 2007-2013 is due to rounding differences because I have made my ACORN annuals by averaging a year of daily data which I leave as produced by Excel with multiple decimal places.

The next adjustment to look for is at 1971 where I have the blue 4, which is the 4th adjustment in the ACORN list and is listed at -0.49 degrees C. The increased departure of ACORN cooler than Met Office to about -0.9 is obvious on the chart.

Examining this adjustment in greater detail I have made a chart comparing Cobar MO and ACORN version with nearest neighbours Bourke, Wilcannia and Nyngan. The average difference between the 1971 & 1972 readings for these 3 stations is +0.2 at Cobar MO, +0.4 at Bourke PO, +0.4 at Nyngan, and -0.4 at Wilcannia, an average for the 3 Cobar neighbours of +0.13, not very different from the +0.2 that we know happened at Cobar Met Office.

But instead of leaving the higher quality Cobar Met Office readings well alone – what does the BoM decide to do with their adjustment #4? They take off 0.49° making the 1971-1972 difference now 0.7 – greater by 0.3 than any of the neighbours. Presumably the BoM justify this by their computer driven comparisons with sites as distant as Parkes.

If the reasons for an adjustment can not be seen in nearest neighbours then it must be an exercise in fantasy to search for a reason in a cherry picked array of more distant stations which are all of poorer quality than Cobar Met Office.

It is interesting to check the differences in annual minimums between Cobar Met Office and Cobar Airport which are only about 7 or 8 km apart. You might expect them to be very similar and in lockstep – not so from the chart.

Note the BoM never refer to Cobar Airport data in ACORN-SAT – but we are free to check it out.

First there is no evidence here of a step or jump around 2006 – 2007.

While there are such wildly varying and apparently random differences between these two very adjacent sites – what on earth can the BoM learn by comparing Cobar with Parkes – or indeed any other station in their adjustments list.

These are the sort of unsafe foundations that pro-IPCC climate science is based on.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Coalition to act on watchdog’s behaviour over asylum inquiry

THE Abbott government has “great concerns” about the behaviour of Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs and will “take the matter forward”, ­according to Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg.

And Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the HRC’s ­inquiry into children in detention “risks being a complete waste of taxpayers’ money” in the wake of controversy over how it was ­established.

Appearing before the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee last week, Professor Triggs revealed she had decided to hold the inquiry early last year, but delayed it because of what she claimed was the possibility of an early election.

After initially denying she ­discussed it with the then Labor government, she admitted under questioning that she had raised it separately with two Labor immigration ministers.

Speaking on Sky News’s Viewpoint, Mr Frydenberg said “what deeply concerns” the government about the president’s evidence was the “revelation that there were political considerations taken into account” before Professor Triggs decided to delay the inquiry.

“Those revelations — one, that there were political considerations about delaying the inquiry and, two, that there is now revelations that she had spoken to two senior Labor ministers — are also of great concern to the government.”

Referring to “contradictions in the evidence”, Mr Frydenberg also said: “It is going to be up to (Attorney-General) George Brandis to take this matter forward, but there are many questions that need to be answered.”

Speaking on 2GB radio, Mr Morrison said the HRC “did nothing” while boats were arriving under Labor and that as a result the inquiry was a “wasted opportunity”. But he would not be drawn on Professor Triggs’s future.

“She is appointed by the ­Attorney-General and there are some pretty strict conditions which apply to someone departing their role in such a position and it involves serious misconduct issues and things like that. That is really a matter for the Attorney-General.”

Professor Triggs is less than halfway through a five-year term.

The two former Labor immigration ministers Professor Triggs said she briefed have declined to reveal what was said. Chris Bowen said the HRC typically updated him on its activities, but he did not confirm or deny the inquiry into children in detention was raised.

Tony Burke said he sought a meeting with Professor Triggs “principally for the purpose of ­discussing my plans to prioritise the removal of unaccompanied ­minors from detention” and to provide and receive updates on ­activities.


Looming poll will shed light on what voters think of leaders with thuggish mates

The possibility that Labor might win next weekend's Victorian election is more worrisome than usual. There are two aspects which could set an unhealthy precedent for Victoria and maybe later for NSW Labor – which has a former union boss as its leader who will be contesting next year's NSW election.

The first is the CFMEU's control over Victorian Labor and its record of intimidation, thuggery and links to unsavoury individuals. With Labor using its numbers in the Senate to protect the unions and the CFMEU running Victoria, no one should be in any doubt that union militancy could be difficult to handle. We have had this problem before in the 1970s and 1980s when militant union behaviour was a major concern of key trading partners like the Japanese and Koreans.

The second is the declared policy of Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews to tear up large infrastructure contracts. A government decision to refuse to honour legally enforceable contracts is clearly a case of sovereign risk.

Regardless of the fact that polls suggest Labor is just ahead I still find it hard to believe that the Victorian Coalition will lose. The idea that Labor is going to win seems contrary to common sense. Then again, I never thought that Jeff Kennett was going to lose either back in 1999.

Premier Denis Napthine is a good man: the polls show he is well liked by the electorate; he has been a solid and dedicated Premier. There have been no real scandals despite the determination of many in the media to find some; he has sensibly managed the State's finances and wisely promoted Michael O'Brien as Treasurer; his infrastructure proposals will be good for Victoria and his key Ministers are streets ahead of Labor's union hacks.

In contrast, it's hard to see what Labor offers and its record when last in office was poor. Victorian taxpayers will be paying for Labor's mothballed desalination plant for decades, Labor's main policy seems to be 50 railway crossings to improve traffic and Andrews is the most left wing leader Labor has ever put up in Victoria. Andrews was anointed by the hard line CFMEU and he now turns a blind eye to the ongoing thuggery and intimidation which is the well-known trade mark of his CFMEU sponsors. The CFMEU is an embarrassment to Andrews but he can't do anything about it. And CFMEU supporters are becoming more brazen than ever; so much so that only a few days ago, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported that "Underworld figure Mick Gatto has told Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews not to break links with controversial CFMEU John Setka". When a political figure is getting advice from people like Gatto it's obvious Labor has a big problem with its choice of mates.

Andrews has said that a CFMEU member will be the new Planning, Major Projects and Infrastructure Minister. Mr Andrews sees no conflict of interest in his Minister's close association with the CFMEU despite the fact that the CFMEU is inextricably involved in his portfolio. Or maybe he has been told to turn a blind eye. Or maybe he is too weak to stand up to the CFMEU. Either way his position is scandalous.

In addition, Labor has publicly confirmed that it will break existing contracts for the East West road project despite the fact that the proposal has strong public support (around 60 per cent in recent polls). The combination of CFMEU cabinet influence and a diminution of Victoria's reputation on sovereign risk will be a blow to Victoria.

The third risk of a Labor government is that it would be a big spender as were the recent Labor governments of Steve Bracks and John Brumby. The facts speak for themselves, as reported by the Menzies Research Centre using ABS and other publicly available data.

Under Bracks and Brumby, the number of public sector employees grew by 52.4 per cent compared to the population increase of 16.7 per cent. By comparison, Labor governments in NSW from Carr to Keneally increased the public sector by 25.69 per cent.

Over the same Labor period, the average annual increases in wages were 7.7 per cent for Victoria and 6.2 per cent for NSW under Labor. By comparison, wage growth with Coalition governments was 3.3 per cent under Greiner, Kennett wages expenditure actually fell by 1.7 per cent and the John Howard increase was a mere 0.6 per cent.

And if you thought that the extra public sector workers were there to boost front line services, you would be wrong. From 2001 to 2007, when Labor was running nearly all the state governments, the ABS classification of "government administration" increased by 8.5 per cent compared to education (2.5 per cent) and 2.3 per cent for health and community services.

Victorian Labor has become too close to the CFMEU and tearing up contracts cannot be acceptable for either Liberal or Labor voters in NSW or Victoria. If Victorian Labor loses, on these two issues particularly, they will deserve what they get.


Australian Wind Industry in a Tailspin as Senate Sets Up Inquiry Into the Great Wind Power Fraud & Cross-Benchers Lay Out Plans for the LRET

(LRET = Large-scale Renewable Energy Target)

STT recently covered a motion proposed by cross-bench Senators Leyonhjelm, Madigan, Day, Xenophon; with the support of the Coalition, through their Deputy Government Whip in the Senate, STT Champion, WA Senator, Chris Back to establish a wide-ranging inquiry into the wind industry in Australia. It gives us much pleasure to report that the Senate voted to establish the inquiry, as moved by David Leyonhjelm on Monday.

Sure, it was a close-run thing, but many a grand final has been won by a single kick.

Predictably, the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers have gone into a tailspin – wailing about the dreaded malady of “uncertainty” – of the kind that everyone else gets to face on a daily basis in every aspect of life and business – but from which the wind industry must be protected at all times.

But the Senate inquiry is just the beginning of the wind industry’s many woes.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is amused by the Leftist rage over cutbacks to the ABC

Australian astronomer, Michael Brown,  says science is not about debate, people are too stupid to judge

Michael Brown, recipient of taxpayer funds for astronomy, tells us that science is not about debate because people are not smart enough to judge the winner. He doesn’t list any evidence to support his faith in climate models (he’s just part of the herd following the consensus pack). Nor does he have any serious scientific criticism of the NIPCC climate report. But he uses plenty of names, baseless allusion, and innuendo. In the article ”Adversaries, zombies and NIPCC climate pseudoscience” in The Conversation he resorts to a group smear (with the help of the taxpayer funded site) in the hope that people won’t listen to those who disagree with him. Apparently he can’t win a fair and open debate, so he’s doing what he can to stop one.

If science now has “Gods” who are above question, it’s not science, it’s a religion. A scientist who says “I’m right because I’m a scientist” is neither right nor much of a scientist. Brown is acting like a self-appointed High-Priest of the Climate Doctrine.

The NIPCC report is more balanced, more comprehensive, and more accurate than the politically-guided tome from the IPCC . It contains hundreds of peer reviewed references put together by independent scientists. In his reply to it, Michael Brown tells us all we need to know about the intellectual state of Australian science, and the value of The Conversation.

This is the face of the Church of Global Warming.

How low can Brown go?  How about “zombies”, “aliens”,  and “pseudoscience”? As an unskeptical scientist (and we all know what that means), it appears Brown hopes to win through name-calling and “seeding doubt” about the motivations of people he disagrees with. Skeptical scientists are “skeptics” (always in quotes to imply they’re fakes) who are “bankrolled” (he’s blind to the evidence about the financial truth too).

For evidence Brown cites a consensus study that mixes up 0.3% with 97%. He likes the IPCC political-consensus approach. This is post-modern science (or post-science, science) forget radiosondes, just poll government appointees.

All the other evidence Brown lists is superficial and irrelevant. He claims: “there is remarkably good agreement between models of climate change and the temperature data.” Then offers as evidence the utterly banal and correct predictions of the “last 50 years” while ignoring the devastating failure in the predictions of the last 20 years that matter.

Modern science is broken — Astronomy in Australia is a small community and  illogical, unscientific people have already been promoted to influential positions. I could ask where the decent astronomers are, and why aren’t they protesting, but because Brown’s activism is so strong, so unscientific, and unequivocal, I expect those who disagree with him would choose to stay silent.  They wouldn’t know whether their next grant will be reviewed by him, but they know that if it is, and they are a vocal skeptic, it won’t help them. After a rant like this, why would anyone expect equal treatment?

This Heisenberg-like state of uncertainty (will or will he not be a reviewer for my application/proposal/paper? and will or will he not be biased if he thinks I am a zombie/denier/anti-science?) is enough to bring people in line. Welcome to the stifling blanket of self censorship.

Ode to the stupid: According to Brown, those who question the mantra of the IPCC are not just speaking their mind, they are using a pseudoscience “ploy” to fool the people (who are too dumb to realize).  These evil mercenary skeptics want you to think we need to debate complex, costly plans that are dependent on our knowledge of the weather. (Imagine that!) Luckily for us, Brown is here to correct the dumb engineers, doctors, and lawyers who are unconvinced a solar panel in Melbourne will help stop a flood in Bangladesh.

The call for adversarial debate is a variant of the debate ploy, a common pseudoscience tactic. At first glance having two teams present competing positions seems entirely reasonable, but this approach only works if the intended audience can effectively assess the arguments presented.

Who is the pseudoscientist using a ploy to fool the public? The geologist who tells us that this warming is not unusual, or the man who has no evidence, and a profoundly unscientific and patronizing belief that only the anointed can speak their mind?

How’s this for reasoning: According to Brown, adversarial debate failed once with Einstein’s theory of relativity (the audience were not able to get the right answer in 1920 on one of the most difficult and ground breaking scientific advances in centuries). Cue the High-Priest, therefore and verily says he, adversarial debate is always a waste of time and science can only advance if the populace lets politicians annoint Gods in each subject (and everyone bows to them).

No dissent will be tolerated, or we will call you a “zombie”!

Brown manages a few paragraphs of sciencey looking talk, but the papers he supposedly debunks are irrelevant to all the main NIPCC claims. The papers he cites as supporting him don’t have any evidence that the IPCC assumptions were correct.

Zombie Science: The Zombie in the room here is the dead science being revived endlessly by Brown and the IPCC, despite the evidence that climate models are based on flawed assumptions, which we know from 28 million weather balloons, 3000 ARGO buoys, 800,000 years  of ice cores, and 30 years of satellites.

Unlike Climate Gods, real scientists list real evidence. When theory clashes with data, the real scientists discard the theory.

Unlike government funded propaganda sites, we unfunded bloggers would never publish such a religious rant and call it “science”. We have standards.

We taxpayers want our money back. Let The Conversation compete in the free market.

Monash University may want to teach its scientists what science is and how to reason. Do Monash approve of this anti-science behaviour? Is this what they teach the students? Can someone ask the Dean?

If Monash don’t have good answers, the questions ought go to the Minister for Education. Why are tax dollars supporting university “science” which is so unscientific?

Send your questions to The Dean of Science at Monash, and or to The Minister for Education, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, which not only funds Monash, but through Monash and other universities, The Conversation.

The ARC needs to start funding real scientists and stop funding religious activists.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Time to Govern Right, Mr Abbott

By James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland.

A few suggestions that will better your chance of re-election: Drop that Labor-lite approach to attacking the deficit, stop funding your enemies and, on a related note, strip Malcolm Turnbull of responsibility for the ABC and let Scott Morrison muck out the national broadcaster's billion-dollar stable

abbott w bookAt some point the Coalition needs to realise that Labor will agree to nothing that it doesn't already want to put in place.  "Compromise" for them will amount to allowing through what they would otherwise want, and nothing more.  So, to deal with our ballooning deficit, Labor will always agree to more taxes.  In fact it's a bonus for them, as the Coalition will take the blame.

My take on this is summed up in the old saw:  `When you're helping to dig your own grave, the best thing to do is stop digging.'   That means that no matter what the short-term consequences, Mr. Abbott and the Coalition need to stop with the tax increases.  No matter what.  I'm sick of them, and I'm pretty sure most readers of this site are sick of them.  And those tax hikes won't do anything more than fiddle at the margins of our blowing-out debt and expanding deficit.

The Coalition ought to keep making the case for spending cuts.  Again, and again, and again.  If they can't get those cuts through the Senate, well, the deficit will go up.  And it will keep going up until the next election.  Meantime, you bring all the resources of government to bear on educating the public.

Likewise, while you're doing that you also stop pretending that you're a Labor-lite government finding Mickey Mouse ways to increase taxes.  And you ditch any new massive spending commitments.  That is my very kind and nice way of saying `Get rid of the idiotic and incredibly expensive Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Scheme. For Labor, the PPL is the gift that keeps on giving. Labor has absolutely no ideas on how to cut spending.  So their only halfway-plausible reply is, `We will get rid of the PPL when we win the election.'

And I believe they will.  So does everyone.  This policy is one that will cost huge political capital to get through and then will go as soon as Labor's next win.  Worse, my guess is that most Coalition voters - and all of those worried about our fiscal position as a country - want it ditched.  Now.

The other thing that this Coalition government might usefully do is to start taking on its critics.  By that I mean the groups whom they fund to attack them constantly.  The ABC most obviously springs to mind.   Mr. Turnbull has to go as the minister in charge of this billion-dollar-a-year vessel, a hopelessly port-canted ship whose crew looks uncannily like the Green Party at prayer - if you count Gaia-worshipping, carbon-tax genuflecting, hard-left dissembling as praying.

Here's what I think would gain Mr. Abbott a lot of credit from Coalition voters who are, thus far into his term, somewhat disappointed at the way his right-of-centre instincts have been muted since coming to power: the Prime Minister should transfer the ABC to the ministerial portfolio of Scott Morrison.  Take it away from a favoured Q&A guest and give it to someone who recognises problems and doesn't shy from solving them.

Were he to do that, I am betting ABC Managing Director Mark Scott would find the gumption to hire at least one right-of-centre person (host or producer) for at least one of the broadcaster's big-ticket current affairs shows.

Why?  In my view it's about psychology and in that sense a parallel with stopping the boats.  If you believe someone is committed to stopping you, and will do what it takes to change your behaviour, you submit.  That's why the boats have stopped and why I don't think any future Labor government will be able to mimic that success.

The same goes for the ABC. No one in that organisation has any real belief that Malcolm Turnbull will try to make them live up their statutory obligation to be impartial.  But bring in Mr. Morrison and the perception would change overnight.

On the other hand, Mr. Abbott can continue to travel the same road as Britain's David Cameron, alienating   his core supporters with every latest step in the wrong direction.  It's not working out at all well for Mr. Cameron.  So, Tony, please stop digging.


Australia's 'most corrupt politician' is finally charged

One of the most corrupt politicians in Australian history - former state minister Eddie Obeid, known as "he who must be obeyed" - will finally be prosecuted after an inquiry found he lobbied colleagues over leases for restaurants without revealing that his family owned them.

Mr Obeid and fellow minister Ian Macdonald, who has also been charged, practiced corruption in the state of New South Wales that was "on a scale probably unexceeded since the days of the Rum Corps [a colonial-era corps that had a monopoly on the liquor trade]", a corruption inquiry heard in 2012.

Mr Macdonald, known as "Sir Lunchalot", has been charged over the granting of a lucrative mining licence but may face further charges after receiving the services of a prostitute as apparent payment for assisting a property developer. The prostitute, named Tiffanie, told the inquiry the encounter was so repulsive she wanted to vomit.

Mr Obeid has previously dared prosecutors to charge him and appeared defiant outside his sandstone mansion in Sydney. Branded "The Godfather" by the media, he has insisted he is the victim of a political witch-hunt. "I'm innocent in every instance," he said.

"I have no concern whatsoever that in a court of law we'll be able to fight the evidence, and I'm very confident."

Mr Obeid, 71, a long-serving Labor MP in the New South Wales state government, was born in Lebanon and worked in Sydney as a taxi driver before taking control of a local Arabic newspaper. He served as an MP from 1991 to 2011, while he and his family built up a sizable portfolio of businesses and properties. During his time in parliament, he became a factional kingpin and exercised influence over numerous MPs and ministers, who relied on him for their positions.

"[He] treated the state as his personal fiefdom," historian Ross Fitzgerald wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald in August.

Mr Obeid's influence is said to extend to his small hometown of Matrite in north Lebanon, where he reportedly owns a $US1 million palace.

A corruption inquiry in June found that Mr Obeid "misused his position as an MP" and sought to lobby other MPs and public servants for favourable decisions affecting his family's restaurant leases in Circular Quay, a popular harbour-side tourist district. He could still face charges over other corrupt dealings investigated by the inquiry.

Mr Obeid said the corruption inquiries were "nothing but sham inquiries".



Springborg announces Queensland Health reform that guarantees timely surgery

LAWRENCE Springborg will today unveil an Australia-first reform to Queensland’s health system, guaranteeing every patient receives their surgery within the recommended time.

Patients will be sent to an alternative public hospital or to the private system if their local health service cannot treat them on time, under the Queensland health minister’s new plan.

The Patient Guarantee, which mirrors health systems in Scandinavia, where Mr Springborg recently visited, comes after the number of “long wait” patients – those waiting for surgery beyond recommended times – plummeted in Queensland from 6500 to 533 in the latest official figures.

The opening of new hospitals with greater capacity, an influx of federal funds, and major system redesigns instigated by the Newman Government combined to reduce the long wait list.

Mr Springborg told The Sunday Mail the long wait list was likely to be eliminated by the end of the year, opening the way for patients to be guaranteed their surgery on time.

“By the end of this year, we will have virtually zero, so we will have recalibrated the system,’’ he said. “The obligation then is for [health and hospital boards] to ensure they give every single patient their surgery on time.

“If they don’t, the obligation is for them to arrange that surgery so the patient has it on time at another public or private hospital.”

It will mean category one cases, in which specialists deem a patient’s condition to be at risk of worsening or becoming an emergency, will receive surgery within 30 days.

Category two cases, where the patient experiences pain or disability but it is unlikely to become an emergency, will receive surgery within 90 days, as recommended under nationally recognised treatment times.

Non-urgent category three patients, where the pain is minimal, will be operated on within a year.

Mr Springborg said there would be cases in which patients did not receive surgery within the recommended times, when specialists deemed that there were mitigating medical reasons for an operation not proceeding.

“The only exceptions will be those people who are not ready for care – and there are a small number of those – or you have a specialty where there is not enough capacity in the system to do it on time,’’ he said.

The Patient Guarantee is expected to be “cost neutral”, with the 16 health and hospital service areas to pay for patients sent elsewhere – including to the private sector – from existing budgets.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Why left feminists don't like kids

"Biffo" (Former ALP leader Mark Latham) has a go below. There have been shrieks of protest from feminists over this article  but I think he is pretty right.  I am impressed by and agree with his child-orientation --  and his past as a Leftist leader should earn his words serious consideration among Leftists.  He is a perpetually angry man but I think that, at the end of the day, he does have a heart.  I think he is a man I would like to meet.  I am sure his wife never has a dull moment with Mark around

I love a social experiment, so last Saturday, I broke the habit of a lifetime and read the agony-aunt pages of The Sydney Morning Herald. I should have done so years ago, as an exercise in political awareness.

It nearly knocked me off my chair, as I confronted the core arguments of left-feminism. The inner-Sydney writer Lisa Pryor said the only way in which she can cope with "raising two small children while studying medicine full-time" is through "caffeine and anti-depressants".

Apparently, this is her standard answer whenever anyone asks: "How do you do it all?"

I felt depressed myself, at the thought of a Fairfax columnist describing one of life's great responsibilities, the raising of infant children, as requiring "neurochemical assistance".

Why do people like this have children in the first place? How will the children feel when they grow up and learn that they pushed their mother onto anti-depressants?

The sadness of these circumstances is aggravated by a broader political point. A major part of left feminist campaigning has involved the demonisation of children.

You know the refrain: men have rigged the rules of society by dominating the workforce, while women are left with the agony of domestic duties, the nightmare of raising kids.

Women in western Sydney with no neuroses

It's widely assumed that home-based life is pathetically menial. So much so, in Pryor's case, that only a cocktail of little red pills and caffeine-overload can ease the burden.

Yet, in truth, this is a political hoax. Women I speak to in western Sydney, who have no neuroses or ideological agenda to push, regard child-rearing as a joy. Financially, if they can avoid work, that's their preference.

Home life gives them the freedom to pursue their recreational interests and bond with the most important people in their lives, their children.

Other than for money, why would anyone want to commute and toil long hours for businesspeople?

With only 2 per cent of Australian men serving as the primary carers of their children, the left-feminist orthodoxy has been allowed to dominate the political debate. Men have been sucked into thinking that work life is inherently superior to a life raising children. From a male perspective, alternative views have not been aired.

So let me explain another experiment. What happens when an opposition leader quits politics, decides that he hates the prospect of working for other people and becomes the primary carer of his three children?

In my case, the results, for nearly a decade now, have been splendid. Sure, there's the odd hiccup and flash of frustration in full-on parenting, but the rewards are immense.

Left feminism is akin to a psychoneurotic disorder

My lifestyle has never been more satisfying. Whether it's my daughter's smile, my eldest son's Aussie irreverence or the belly laughter of my youngest son - these are my anti-depressants, every hour, every day. What is Pryor going on about?

I'm sure I'm just as busy as her: looking after a huge native garden at home, cooking gourmet meals for my family, pursuing a few business interests, writing books and The Australian Financial Review columns and, most crucially, preserving time for my children's homework, conversation and love. When I explain this reality to my male friends, they are incredibly envious. Each of them wants to swap places.

But the inner-city feminists know little of this. They spend a lot of time complaining, ostensibly on behalf of other women, yet their real priority is themselves. More often than not, they don't like children and don't want to be with them. They use political feminism as a release valve, trying to free themselves from nature's way.

Thus left feminism is akin to a psychoneurotic disorder: externalising personal feelings of distress and deficiency into the demonisation of children.

This is why people in the suburbs, especially women, distrust the likes of Pryor. Their political agenda is seen as unrepresentative and self-serving. At a personal level, it's also cowardly: popping pills as an easy way out, instead of facing up to the responsibilities of adulthood.


Vic Labor to review homosexual adoption

SAME sex adoption could be on the cards if Labor wins next Saturday's Victorian state election.

OPPOSITION leader Daniel Andrews says legislation that unfairly discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Victorians will be identified and changed under a proposal to put equality at the heart of the government's agenda.

Adoption laws will be reviewed with a view to allowing same sex adoption, while laws that facilitate employers to discriminate based on sexuality will also be amended, Mr Andrews said.

"When one person faces discrimination, it lessens us all," he said. "This is a problem we must face together.

"I'll never tolerate homophobia in my party room and I'll never water down our laws to allow discrimination."

Mr Andrews said a dedicated cabinet role would be introduced as well as a government ministerial advisory committee.

"Equality will be back on the agenda under Labor, so Victoria can be prouder, fairer and safer," Mr Andrews said.


Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens asks if it's too hard to hire and fire workers

BUSINESS groups have backed suggestions by Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens that it is too hard to sack workers.

But the Coalition Government, still smarting over the backlash to John Howard's Work Choices laws, refused to be drawn into the issue.

In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia this week, Mr Stevens admitted his comments might get him into trouble.  "I think these questions are increasingly being asked and it's about whether our overall business environment is conducive enough to risk taking and innovation," he said.

"Whether we are doing enough to develop the relevant competencies and capabilities for the modern world.

"The question might include ones like, how easy is it to start a business if the business fails, as many do, particularly small ones? Is it easier enough to try again?

"How easy it is to hire employees, and I know I'll get in trouble for saying this, but how easy it is also to let the employees go if those don't work?  " Because if it's too hard to let them go then it's too hard to hire them to begin with," Mr Stevens said.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland spokesman Nick Behrens said the Reserve Bank Governor had hit the nail on the head.

"Queensland employers are actively steering clear of employing individuals because of the difficulty in terminating employment," he said.  "In short the Fair Work Act is now holding back employment because businesses are just not prepared to take the risk of hiring someone who turns out to be wrong person for that organisation.

"Some businesses are also citing that if they are uncertain about a person and it's a lineball decision then they will use the end of probation period to separate ways.

"That is because it is so difficult to get rid of an employee after their end of probation duration they err on the side of caution and do not proceed with the employee. It's just not worth the risk.

"If you have the likes of Glenn Stevens now weighing in to the debate on workplace relations, a person who never comments publicly on these types of issues, we know that we have serious problem on our hands."

The Government refused to comment yesterday.  But Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor leapt on the comments, trying to tie the message to the Coalition's deeply unpopular WorkChoices campaign, launched about eight years ago.

"Before the election, Tony Abbott promised he wouldn't touch workers' conditions.  "Instead, we have seen this Government returning to the dark days of WorkChoices with its plans to attack penalty rates, wages and workplace safety.  "The Abbott Government would like to see a rise in precarious employment, Labor does not."

The Productivity Commission is reviewing workplace laws - including penalty rates and unfair dismissal - but pledged any changes would be introduced in its second term.


Human Rights Commission chief Gillian Triggs drowning in her own evidence

Lying old bag covered up for the Labor Party on boat arrivals before the Federal election

THE future of Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs is under a cloud after a disastrous appearance before a Senate committee, during which she contradicted her evidence about the political considerations of delaying an inquiry into children in detention. Under questioning, Professor Triggs revealed she had decided an inquiry was necessary early last year but did not act until after the federal election because she feared it would be "highly -politicised" and "very destructive".

And after denying she raised the matter with Labor before the election, she later admitted discussing it with two former immigration ministers, Chris Bowen and Tony Burke. It is understood the Abbott government and the minister who oversees the -commission, Attorney-General George Brandis, have lost faith in Professor Triggs.

Her position appears untenable. She is less than halfway through a five-year term and under the commission's act can only be dismissed for "mis-behaviour" or serious breaches of standards.

She has promised to release a "detailed chronology of events". The "facts and evidence will speak for themselves," she said in a statement.

In February, the commission came under fire from the government for announcing an -inquiry into children in detention four months after the election of the Coalition - and after people-smuggling boats had started to abate.

More than 800 boats, 50,000 asylum-seekers and 8000 children had arrived in the six years under Labor. The commission had previously investigated the issue in 2001 - under the Howard government.

When questioned about the new inquiry's timing, during the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, Professor Triggs's explanation was exposed as changeable and contradictory.

Professor Triggs claimed that after her -appointment in mid-2012 she -focused on the issue of children in detention and, as the arrivals continued, had decided to hold a fresh inquiry by February last year.

But she didn't - and she has now justified that delay with electoral considerations. "The fact that an election was imminent had been announced by the prime minister in I think about March," she said, "so we knew it was going to be very soon, and of course we didn't know exactly when."

Yet in an unusual step, on January 30 last year, then prime minister Julia Gillard had announced the election date for September 14 - so at the time there was no speculation.

Professor Triggs told the hearing it would have been "very destructive" to hold the inquiry in the middle of the election year. "Well, it would have been very destructive to the then government," interjected Liberal senator Ian Macdonald

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has challenged Professor Triggs's justification.

"For a position which is supposed to be free of political influence," he said, "it was puzzling to see Professor Triggs justify not holding an inquiry in mid-2013 as `we were moving into an election -period', yet described this issue as having caused `serious concerns' in December 2012, well before any election was called."

Further committee exchanges about her consultation with both the Labor government and the incoming Coalition government were also revealing.

Liberal senator Barry O'Sullivan pressed her on whether she briefed Labor about her intentions for an inquiry. "I certainly did not discuss that as far as I recall with the minister," she said.  But as questioning continued her answers changed to "I don't recall" and then that her "discussions with the minister are private".

Then, under sustained interrogation, she revealed she had in fact spoken to two Labor immigration ministers.  "I have discussed the possibility of an inquiry with minister Chris Bowen and with minister (Tony) Burke," she revealed.

Professor Triggs initially said the discussion with Mr Burke had occurred during the election caretaker period but later retracted. After the election Professor Triggs did not raise the matter in discussions with the Coalition or mention it in a letter outlining her agenda. The government was informed of the inquiry four months later via a letter from Professor Triggs.

"Australians will form their own judgment about just how fair Professor Triggs has been," Mr Morrison said.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Greenie edition of this blog.  5 Green-relevant articles below

Good news: Leftist newspaper says the Australian government's climate change credentials have been battered

And see below that it includes some surprising claims, such as:  "The size of the Reef has halved in the past 30 years".  I have been following the barrier reef scares for around 60 years (long before global warming was invented) but that was a newie on me.

But I have traced the claim, and one amusing thing that we read there is:  "The exhaustive AIMS investigation reveals coral loss is uneven along the 2300km-long reef, with the far north still relatively healthy." So the WARMEST parts of the reef are doing best! How pesky can you get?

And what the research showed is NOT that the reef has shrunk by 50% but that the CORAL has shrunk by 50%.  The reef is of course an ancient and relatively permanent structure of dead coral skeletons.

 We also read:  "Storm damage accounted for 48 per cent of the coral loss in the past 27 years, crown-of-thorns starfish were responsible for 42 per cent, and bleaching caused 10 per cent of the coral to die".  No mention of global warming! Though no doubt they would claim that the storms were caused by global warming.  Since severe weather events worldwide  have been FEWER in recent years that however would be a rubbish claim, having no regard to the actual statistics.

Warmists have also been known to link starfish plagues with warming but again we read: "The study says the causes of the plagues were still not fully known".

And I won't mention that the period covered by the research was 27 years, not 30.

And I won't mention that the source paper for the research is no longer where it was.  Has it been taken down due to inaccuracy?

I could go on but the lesson is clear: As soon as we get into the details of the research findings, the sweeping claims made of the research by Warmists are extensively falsified.  So the appeals to authority below are junk.  It is the facts that matter, not authorities, and the facts are very pesky indeed for Warmists.

My habit of going back to the detailed research findings behind Green/Left claims once again shows what crooks and crazies they are

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's apparent, if modest, conversion to the idea that climate change was an "important subject"  following talks with French president Francois Hollande on Wednesday was greeted with no small measure of cynicism.

This was, after all, a politician who had built a political career on climate scepticism, with his famous remark in 2010 that it was "absolute crap" to assert the science was settled.

It took only two days, but the doubters can claim vindication after revelations that the government sent a briefing note to Barack Obama to dissuade him that the Great Barrier Reef was under threat by climate change.

In an interview with Fairfax Media's Latika Bourke in New York, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said the Reef was "not under threat from climate change because its biggest threat is the nutrient runoffs agricultural land, the second biggest threat is natural disasters, but this has been for 200 years".

This is disingenuous, and factually wrong.

To be sure, the government believes the world is warming, and that human factors play a part.

But when it comes to acknowledging the urgency of the problem, how climate change will impact on the world, and what must be done to avert a catastrophic four-degree rise in global temperature, the Abbott government offers obfuscation and excuses.

So it was with the response to Obama's speech in Brisbane last week, when the US leader called on Australia's youth to rise up and demand more action to combat climate change, remarking that "incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened".

The US leader's speech might have been undiplomatic and rude to his hosts - but his analysis of the impact of climate change on the Reef was spot on.

Just ask the federal government agencies charged with monitoring and protecting the Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in its 2014: "Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef. It is already affecting the reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come."

Averting further degradation of the Reef can "only be successful if climatic conditions are stabilised" reported the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), another government body.

The size of the Reef has halved in the past 30 years. Outbreaks of crown of thorn starfish which consume soft corals -  along with cyclones -  have contributed to about 90 per cent of that decline, says AIMS.

Coral bleaching is responsible for the remaining 10 per cent.

Coral bleaching is the direct result of rising sea temperatures caused by global warming. The acceleration of crown of thorn starfish infestations - which spawn in warmer months - is also driven, at least in part, by hotter weather.

And, warns the government's marine scientists, cyclone activity will only increase as the planet heats up.   

Bishop's personal political stocks have soared in recent months due to some forceful international diplomacy on the MH17 disaster and the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Her intervention on the Reef is unlikely to faze Obama, or harm relations. But some of the gloss has come of Bishop's credentials as a moderate alternative to Abbott.

And, the government's climate change credentials, once again, have been battered. 


US President Barack Obama should look at his own environmental record before lecturing Australia

Those who live in glass houses ....

BARACK Obama won an Olympic gold medal for schmoozing in Brisbane last weekend.

Along the way, the US president exposed the opponents of coal seam gas in Queensland as utter hypocrites.

With China, the US is of course the worst polluter on the planet.

Yet the shale boom sweeping across America is unlocking oceans of underground gas, a cleaner energy gradually replacing coal in US power stations.

Obama knows gas is good. Gas drives his emissions reduction pact with China.

However, the Greenies who swooned over Obama for his environmental crusade are the same snarling, left-of-centre bigots backing sinister groups like Lock the Gate in attempting to sabotage the fledgling gas industry here.

In a week dominated by news about the $7 billion Adani coal deal the importance of gas to our state cannot be overstated.

Gas royalties will deliver rivers of gold to the Queensland treasury as it fights to restore the AAA credit rating trashed by the previous government.

A significant milestone looms. And it may change everything. In three weeks the first ever shipment of liquid natural gas sourced entirely from coal seam gas will be shipped to Asia by QGC. It's not just a Queensland first, it's a world first.

And, surprise, surprise, the gas drawn from beneath our cattle pastures may end up in China.  It will be traded on the open market in Asia so the destination remains unclear.

Following Obama's visit the irony that the Queensland gas is destined for China has not been lost on certain Queensland Cabinet ministers.

While the President discourteously attacked his host's environmental credentials, our gas will eventually assist cutting emissions globally.

Australia's gas exports are set to increase from about 20 billion cubic metres in 2012 to 114 billion cubic metres by 2040 as global demand is forecast to grow more than any other fuel source. So says the International Energy Agency.

And while many newspaper columnists were gushing about Obama's speech and his green advice to Tony Abbott, they neglected to report America's own disgusting record on carbon dioxide.

Why reporters ignored this part of the story is a bit of a mystery to me.  Suffice to say that the media craves celebrity and is often blinded by it. And Obama was certainly a celebrity whose light shone brightly that day.

At the risk of offending the Obama-love media, it has to be said our environmental record is cleaner than his.

So how dare Obama lecture us?

The US didn't sign the 1997 Kyoto agreement. Nevertheless it pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 7 per cent. Instead they soared.

Now we learn that over two decades from 1990 to 2010, US emissions grew by 53 times the actual growth of emissions in Australia.

I'm glad Environment Minister Greg Hunt pointed this out. He also revealed China's sorry record.  In the same two decades China's emissions soared from 3.4 billion tonnes to 9.8 billion tonnes. This is the fastest growth in emissions in human history, Hunt said.

"The increase in Chinese emissions was 640 times, or 64,000 per cent, greater than any change in Australia. Over the same period, Chinese coal consumption increased at the greatest rate in human history."

Of course Australia's footprint is insignificant compared to the superpowers and we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it. In 1990, according to Hunt's office, Australia produced 580 million tonnes of carbon, the US 5.38 billion tonnes and China 3.356 billion tonnes.

By 2010, Australia's emissions had barely increased, to 590 million tonnes. The US, on the other hand, registered a substantial increase to 5.923 billion tonnes and China to a staggering 9.769 billion tonnes.

By 2020, if Australia meets its target, it will produce 555 million tonnes while the US will produce 5.144 billion tonnes and China a truly astonishing 12.4 billion tonnes.

Nevertheless Obama's deal with China, greeted with rapturous approval by the media, deserves closer scrutiny.

China will continue to build a coal-fired power station every 10 days until 2030.

I'm told another 28 nuclear power stations are also in the pipeline. Good. Now we are getting somewhere. The US emissions, too, are staggering and will continue to rise for years.

The other inconvenient truth is that Obama doesn't have congressional backing so is unable to add legal force to the targets proposed with China.

Former Labor state treasurer Keith DeLacy was not blinded by Obama's halo. In an opinion piece in The Australian he said Obama was a "lame duck" president.

DeLacy said Chinese President Xi Jinping admits CO2 emissions will increase until 2030, pact or no pact.  And renewables such as wind and power would produce just 3 per cent of output, said Xi.

Said DeLacy: "China is currently increasing emissions every year by the equivalent of Australia's total emissions, and Xi's statement means this will continue to be the case."

He added: "Lame duck US President Obama signalled the US would not take any leadership role on climate change action.  "While he suggested the US would reduce total emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2025, everyone knew he could not deliver any legislative backing for measures to do this.

"However, he was confident the shale gas revolution and a spluttering US economy may be sufficient to reach this goal.

"When questioned on the depth of commitment the US had to this target, officials referred to past commitments."




MOST Queenslanders believe Tony Abbott was right to ignore international pressure and focus the G20 summit on the economy rather than on Climate change. 

Just one-quarter of those surveyed in a new opinion poll said they thought the top priority for G20 nations should be reducing carbon emissions -- compared to half who said the focus should on be economic growth and jobs creation.

Both Labor and LNP suppporters rated economic growth higher than action on carbon.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has meanwhile sent a briefing to the White House to allay ' US President Barack Obama's concerns about Australia not working to protect the future of the Great.Barrier Reef.

From p. 31 of the Brisbane "Courier Mail" 22 Nov., 2014

Obama ignored embassy's warnings on climate change speech

BARACK  Obama defied the -advice of his embassy in Canberra to deliver a stinging attack on the Abbott government's climate policies in Brisbane last weekend.

The US embassy, under the leadership of ambassador John Berry, advised the President, through his senior staff, not to couch his climate change comments in a way that would be seen as disobliging to the Abbott government, sources have revealed.

When The Weekend Australian put this information to the US embassy, a spokesman said: "As is the case with all presidential speeches, President Obama's remarks at the University of Queensland in Brisbane were prepared by the White House."

It is normal practice when the US President makes an overseas visit that the ambassador in the country he is visiting is consulted about the contents of major speeches. It is unusual, though not unprecedented, for an embassy's advice to be ignored.

The Obama speech in Brisbane was added to the President's program at the last minute. During his extensive talks with Tony Abbott in Beijing at APEC, Mr Obama did not make any mention of a desire to make a speech, or of any of the contentious climate change content of the speech.

Only in Naypyidaw, in Myanmar, immediately prior to the leaders travelling to Brisbane for the G20 summit, did the US party demand that the President make a speech and that it be to an audience of young people. At the speech, the President did not -acknowledge the presence of Governor-General Peter Cosgrove.

Despite repeated Australian requests, White House officials refused to provide a text of the speech to their Australian hosts in advance, and did not provide a summary of what would be contained in the speech.

Mr Obama's repeated references to the climate change debate in Australia, his accusation that Australia was an inefficient user of energy and his repeated references to the Great Barrier Reef, which has figured heavily in the climate change debate, have led observers to conclude that the speech was a deliberate swipe at the Abbott government.

Historians of the US-Australia relationship are unable to nominate a case of a visiting president making such a hostile speech for the host government.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has accused Mr Obama of speaking in ignorance about the joint plans by the federal and Queensland governments to act to preserve the Great Barrier Reef. She sent a briefing on the reef to the White House after Mr Obama's speech was delivered.

Some days before the speech, at the World Parks Conference, Ms Bishop met US Secretary of the -Interior Sally Jewell and gave her the same briefing.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek yesterday accused Ms Bishop of "berating" the President and said Ms Bishop had created an "absurd" situation.

Sources in Washington said the Brisbane speech was a sign of deep divisions within the Obama administration over how to deal with Australia, and over Asian policy generally.

Senior US sources said Mr Obama had inadvertently overshadowed all the elements of his speech, which dealt with regional security and America's position in Asia. When the White House first proposed the speech, its subject was to be US leadership in Asia.

Mr Obama's speech was in marked contrast to the accomplished speeches, with their careful regional agendas, of China's President, Xi Jinping, and India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to the Australian parliament. Senior Washington sources told The Weekend Australian of a malaise in Obama administration policy towards Asia and the lack of influence of Asia experts lower down in the US government.

Since the Abbott government was elected last September, there has been a group within the Obama administration that wants to take a tougher public line against Canberra on differences over climate change, in particular the decision to abolish the carbon tax.

Washington sources say the figure who ultimately adjudicated on this internal debate was Mr Obama, who recognised that Mr Abbott had been elected with a clear mandate to abolish the tax.

This has resulted, in part, in differing accounts of the first meeting between Mr Abbott as Prime Minister and Mr Obama in Washington in June.  After the meeting, Australian officials briefed to the effect that climate change was raised with Mr Abbott only briefly by Mr Obama and in a non-contentious way.  This version was confirmed by senior US officials who offered the same account of the meeting.

US officials added that the Obama administration was acutely aware that the US had no national carbon tax itself and that the administration had been unable to get congress to agree to an emissions trading scheme, which the Americans call a cap-and-trade scheme.

They said the US was keen merely to confirm that the Abbott government was carrying out the commitments it had made on climate change, in particular to reach the target of 5 per cent reductions on 2000 levels of emissions by 2020.

At the same time, another account of the meeting was circulating through Washington to the effect that Mr Obama had been much more insistent on the issue with Mr Abbott. In this account, Mr Obama had repeatedly referred to the Sydney Opera House sinking as a result of global warming.

At the time Washington sources said this was an erroneous account of the meeting, which reflected the great hostility over the carbon tax issue that some of Mr Obama's domestic advisers felt.

Several former senior US officials characterise the White House as introverted and not inclined to pay too much attention to officials, either in the State Department or the Pentagon, who deal with Asia full time. Others suggest senior figures in the White House, when they think of Asia, tend to focus only on China.

Mr Obama has previously had a warm personal relationship with Mr Abbott. The President has been a frequent telephone caller to Mr Abbott, almost always with a request for Australian support for a US policy or initiative, from troops for the Middle East, US trade initiatives in Asia, or important regional diplomatic matters, especially those involving security. On every occasion the US President has asked for help, the Australian Prime Minister has provided it.


NSW conservative government cracks down on protesters, fast-tracks mining

The "close" relationship between the state government and the mining industry has come under renewed scrutiny after Premier Mike Baird announced faster mining approvals and harsher fines for protesters who illegally enter mining sites.

The announcement, at a dinner for mining heavyweights on Thursday night, came just hours after it was revealed that corrupt former Labor minister Ian Macdonald will face criminal charges over a mining deal.

Critics have accused the government of cutting "special deals" with the mining industry, and failing to follow advice by the corruption watchdog to safeguard the planning system.

Lock the Gate Alliance said protesters already face heavy penalties, citing farmer Ted Borowski, who was fined about $3000 for protesting against Santos' coal seam gas operation earlier this year.  By comparison, the company was fined $1500 for contaminating an aquifer with uranium.

The government says protesters do not have the right to act unlawfully, and industry and the community should not wait years for mining applications to be decided.

Mr Baird told a NSW Minerals Council event that his government will halve assessment times for so-called "state significant" proposals, such as mines and manufacturing plants. He said assessment times for mining projects had jumped from 500 to more than 1000 days in the past six years.

On Friday, Planning Minister Pru Goward said the government intends to slash 170 days from the average time it takes to assess major applications by introducing new timeframes and ensuring timely advice from government agencies.

New timeframes would also be applied to the Planning Assessment Commission, the independent body that decides some of the state's most controversial proposals.

The government has been under pressure to streamline the mining approvals process after its maligned planning reforms stalled in the upper house.

Fairfax Media has reported that 13 mining industry leaders met Mr Baird two weeks ago for a "crisis meeting" after Anglo American's application to extend the Drayton South coal mine project was rejected.

The industry has also called for stronger penalties for trespassers, following heated protests over projects such as Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek mine and Santos' coal seam gas venture in north-west NSW.

Mr Baird said it was "galling" that the mining industry was responsible for the safety of trespassers. The government will seek changes to workplace health and safety laws, and increase penalties for protesters who break into mining operations, damage equipment or disrupt work.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesman Phil Laird, whose organisation campaigns against coal and gas mining, said the announcement highlights the "close relationship and special treatment given to industry over the interests of communities".

He said the government had ignored advice by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to expand community appeal rights on planning decisions. A spokesman for Ms Goward said independent scrutiny of decisions already exists.

The NSW Minerals Council said the planning changes would "help attract investment and create jobs in our state".

Labor's environment spokesman Luke Foley welcomed the move towards faster approvals, but said it should not come at the expense of proper environmental, social and economic assessment.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham claimed the Liberal and National parties were "essentially just the political arm of the mining industry".


Friday, November 21, 2014

Australia's Iron Lady criticises Barack Obama over Great Barrier Reef comments

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has taken a highly unusual swipe at US President Barack Obama over his comments about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

Ms Bishop, in New York for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, said there was "an issue" with Mr Obama's remarks during a speech at the University of Queensland speech last weekend as part of the G20 summit.

Mr Obama told the audience the "incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened" because of global warming and said he wanted to be able to return to Australia with his daughters when he had more time.

"And I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit and I want that there 50 years from now," he said.

That speech has already drawn a guarded rebuke from the Queensland government; its Environment Minister Andrew Powell said he wanted to assure the President and all Queenslanders that "we are working ... to ensure the reef is protected for future generations".

Ms Bishop said on Thursday that Australia was employing world's best practice to ensure the reef was preserved for future generations.  "I think that President Obama might have overlooked that aspect of our commitment to conserving the Great Barrier Reef," she told the ABC's 7.30 on Thursday.

"There was an issue regarding his statement about the Great Barrier Reef, and I can understand the Queensland government's concern because we have committed significant resources to preserve and conserve the reef.  "We have demonstrated world's best practice ... to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is preserved for generations to come."

Ms Bishop denied suggestions that Australia and the US had taken widely different approaches to climate changing, saying Mr Obama had not introduced a carbon tax, which the Australian government had repealed earlier this year.

Treasurer Joe Hockey also appeared to criticise Mr Obama's reef speech by suggesting the President "hasn't had great success" so far on his own plans to cut carbon emissions.

Australia is awaiting a determination by the United Nations World Heritage Committee on granting the reef status of being "in danger". It has been deferred until next year.

The reef's sustainability plan, drafted by the federal and Queensland governments, has been attacked by the Australian Academy of Science — the country's leading scientific academy — which said the plan failed to acknowledge how the reef had already suffered extensively from the effects of climate change.

UNESCO is also concerned about the effects on the reef of the rapid industrialisation of Queensland's coastline.

Critics say the sustainability plan should also have ruled out further dumping of dredge waste.


Lib senator admits TPV plan is draconian

Most Australians will cheer that.  Draco (Δράκων) was actually rather a good guy.  It was he who first gave Athenians written laws and established courts to adjudicate them.  And he took a very dim view of law-breakers

A LIBERAL senator has admitted government plans to fast-track the processing of about 30,000 asylum-seeker claims contain draconian measures.

BUT Ian Macdonald defended the move, arguing it was what the Australian people wanted.
"There are some draconian things, hopefully it will be reasonably temporary," he told a Senate inquiry in Canberra on Friday.

Senator Macdonald was responding to Law Council representatives who told the inquiry government legislation before parliament was at odds with accepted standards of international and domestic law.

The government wants to speed-up the processing of about 30,000 outstanding asylum-seeker claims left over from the previous Labor government since August 2012.

It plans to re-introduce temporary protection visas, a Howard government measure abolished by the Rudd government in 2008.

Asylum seekers on TPVs will be denied permanent residency and will have their protection claims assessed every three years.

However, asylum seekers who agree to move to regional areas will be provided with safe-haven visas that may lead to permanent protection.

The move has the backing of the Palmer United Party but is being opposed by Labor and the Greens.

The Law Council also opposes the bill in its current form, describing it as the single biggest change to Australia's asylum seeker policy ever made.

The proposed changes departed from the accepted standards of protection for asylum seekers in international and domestic law, it told the Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee.

They were also at odds with rule-of-law principles and procedural fairness guarantees.

The council said if TPVs were reintroduced they should only constitute a form of bridging visa while people await the determination of their claim.

Human Rights Commission president Gillian Trigg said the legislation contained provisions that were of great concern within circles of the United Nations.

Under the government plan, most references to the UN Refugee Convention will be removed from the Migration Act.

In its place will be a self-contained statutory framework which sets out Australia's interpretation of its protection obligations under the convention. The move is aimed at limiting appeals to the High Court.

Professor Triggs said it was virtually unprecedented for a mature democracy to take such a retrograde step.  It was one that would bring Australia into international disrepute, she told the inquiry.

The Australian Red Cross, which is providing support to about 11,000 asylum seekers living in the community while they wait for their claims to be processed, is concerned TPV holders will not be able to re-enter the country if they leave temporarily.

They would also be denied opportunities to reunite with family not in Australia, a point challenged by Senator Macdonald who said splitting up family was a choice made by asylum seekers who arrived by boat.

The Red Cross said previous experience showed that TPV holders lived with the constant threat and fear of repatriation.

This included fear of incarceration, torture or death upon return, it told the inquiry.

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds said it could take up to seven years to process the outstanding claims under the existing system.

That claim was rejected by Angela Chan, national president of the Migration Institute of Australia, who said the immigration department handled backlogs all the time.

"If they had the will they could process these people very quickly without a change in legislation," she told the inquiry.


Qld. Labor party 'blew billions on poor hospital plan'

Just another example of Leftist waste left for conservatives to sort out and clean up

More than $2.2 billion was wasted in the building of three Queensland hospitals due to poor planning, the Auditor-General says.

An Auditor-General's report says the Gold Coast University Hospital, South Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital and the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital have cost more than twice as much and will be delivered far later than needed.

The Beattie Labor government pledged to build the three facilities for $2.87 billion in 2006, but the report, released on Tuesday, says the hospitals have cost more than $5 billion thus far.

"When commitment was made to build three hospitals, no robust investment planning and analysis had been undertaken to determine their likely outturn cost, with the result that the August 2006 estimates significantly understated the cost of the projects," the report said.

The Auditor-General said the projects were announced before Queensland Health (QH) had the chance to investigate the needs of health services on the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, or for children, in regards to Lady Cilento Hospital.

"As a result, QH focused on the announced infrastructure solutions without adequate consideration of alternative options, their risks, costs and benefits," the report said.

Premier Campbell Newman said when combined with $1.2 billion blown on the new health payroll bungle, the former Labor government had completely wasted $3.4 billion.

"That could've cleared backlogs. That could've built new hospitals. That's what my government has been working to clean up over the last two-and-a-half years," he told reporters.

The Auditor-General recommended all future hospital projects be planned after their service area needs were identified; the costs, risks and benefits were analysed; and whole-of-life financial effects of projects were assessed.


Industry super funds outperform banks yet again

Commission-free industry super funds have again outperformed bank-owned super funds and other retail super funds, on average, over all time periods, according to monthly data from SuperRatings, based on balanced fund median rolling returns to 31 October 2014.

Industry Super Australia (ISA) Chief Executive David Whiteley welcomed the results.

“The community response to last night’s Senate vote demonstrates a commitment to the retention of strong consumer protections and super which is free from sales incentives and conflicted advice to ensure the best returns for investors,” said Mr. Whiteley.

“Over the long and short-term, independent research reinforces that industry super fund members benefit from the undivided loyalty the funds have to their members.”

The data underlines again the importance of the default superannuation safety net that safeguards the super savings of eight in ten Australians who don’t select their own funds. Bank-owned super funds are lobbying to scrap the safety net to avoid competing on investment performance.

“The outperformance, on average, of industry super funds further solidifies the case for the default super safety net not only being retained, but being strengthened and expanded,” said Mr. Whiteley.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weather report

Some people reading here may just possibly be aware that Brisbane had a major storm yesterday afternoon which produced quite a lot of flooding in some parts of the city.  Where I am at Buranda is fairly elevated, however, so we had no flood grief at all.  My son and I simply drove to our usual local Japanese restaurant (Sunny Doll) for our supper and got marvellous food as usual. There are some brilliant Chinese, Thai and Indian cooks but Japanese cooks are the best. They know about umami.

Vladimir Putin says he was surprised by ‘warmth’ of everyday Australians during G20 visit  -- and praises Mr Abbott

This will be a teeth-grinder for the Leftmedia (Fairfax, ABC, SBS).  They must have just about exhausted their vocabulary of abuse in being negative about everything Abbott did and said at the summit

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has praised the Australian government for the atmosphere at the G20 summit in Brisbane.

“(Our) Australian partners created an extraordinarily welcoming atmosphere for work. I was surprised by the warmth with which normal Australian citizens received our delegation,” Mr Putin told a forum of supporters in Moscow, according to an official transcript.

Mr Putin also added praise for Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Mr Putin’s comments defied media reports that the Russian president was so frustrated at being sidelined and subjected to tough talk by Western leaders that he left the summit early.

Australia, the United States and Japan used the G20 to jointly criticise Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its actions to destabilise eastern Ukraine. The criticism was made in a statement following a trilateral meeting involving Mr Abbott, Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the summit.  They also called for those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 over the Ukraine to be brought to justice.

Mr Putin had told reporters he was leaving before the release of the G20’s communiqué because of the long flight to Russia and he wanted to get some sleep.

As he left on Sunday, he praised the “constructive atmosphere” at the summit and thanked Mr Abbott for hosting the event. He described the Prime Minister as “a very businesslike person”.

Far from shirt fronting Mr Putin, Mr Abbott said he was happy to welcome the Russian President to Brisbane.

“When all is said and done, President Putin was a guest in our country.  “President Putin is a member of the G20 and I was happy to treat him with respect and courtesy while he was here in Australia.”


Scott Morrison cuts off access to Australia for people who already have refuge

They are in no danger in Indonesia

Australia has taken its stand against boat arrivals to a new level, saying it will no longer resettle asylum seekers found to be refugees by the United Nation's refugee agency in Indonesia who registered after July 1.

But Fairfax Media understands the decision could be wider than this, and may be applied to all asylum seekers found to be genuine refugees recommended by UNHCR in transit countries such as Syria, Iran, Malaysia and Iraq.

Although a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison denied this, Mr Morrison has made plain that virtually all of Australia's humanitarian program for people overseas this financial year will be selected by Australia from countries of first asylum.

"In 2014–15, Australia's Humanitarian Programme will provide 13,750 places. These will include 11,000 places for people overseas, nearly all of whom will be in countries of first asylum," Mr Morrison said in a statement.

A well-placed source has told Fairfax Media that exceptions to the new policy direction would be women at risk and emergency rescue cases.

The waiting period in Indonesia will also increase for people who have been granted refugee status and who registered at the UNHCR before July, according to a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon by Mr Morrison.

In the statement, titled "Another Blow for People Smugglers", Mr Morrison said the decision was designed to stop the flow of asylum seekers travelling by boat to Australia, despite only one boat successfully arriving in Australia this year. The humanitarian intake of 13,750 will also not be increased.

"These changes should reduce the movement of asylum seekers to Indonesia and encourage them to seek resettlement in or from countries of first asylum,"

"While nine of 10 months of 2014 have passed without a successful people smuggling venture to Australia, we know smugglers continue to encourage asylum seekers to travel illegally to Indonesia for the purpose of seeking resettlement in Australia," Mr Morrison said.

But human rights advocates were appalled at the decision, questioning the real motives behind it. Refugee Council of Australia chief executive Paul Power said the decision was "absolutely outrageous."

"This will put Indonesia under even more pressure," he said.  "This a clear message that Australia does not care about its regional neighbours."

It is understood Labor will be seeking answers and clarification on the impacts of the decision.

Greens spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the decision was "narrow-minded" and "hard-hearted".  "This is the exact opposite of what the government should be doing," she said.  "We should be working with our neighbours, accelerating refugee processing and increasing Australia's intake from the region so that people are given a safe way to reach protection. That's the only way we can save lives at sea while caring for refugees."

Elaine Pearson from Human Rights Watch said: "If Australia really cared about saving lives at sea, then it would take more people from Indonesia, not less, because it would want to prevent people taking perilous boat journeys."  [The emptyhead has apparently not noticed that the boats have stopped coming]


ABC cuts: Malcolm Turnbull announces budget reduction of $250 million

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has detailed a $254 million funding cut to the ABC in a move that could result in job losses and the closure of foreign bureaux.

Mr Turnbull on Wednesday announced a slightly lower than expected budget cut for the ABC as well as a $25.2 million cut to the SBS.

He said the efficiencies represented a "modest saving in comparison to the government's continued investment in national broadcasting of more than $6.6 billion over the same five year period".

The cut represents 4.6 per cent of the ABC's budget and means it will receive $5.2 billion over four years rather than $5.5 billion.

The ABC has previously reported that a cut of this magnitude could lead to the loss of 500 jobs, the closure of foreign bureaux and the end of the state-based versions of 7.30.

In his speech in Adelaide, Mr Turnbull threw down the gauntlet to ABC management, arguing there was no need to cut programming because of the government's announcement.

"Let me be quite clear," he said. "The savings announced today are not of a scale that requires any particular change to programming.  "All of the savings can be found within operational efficiencies."

The Communications Minister said that it would be "cowardly" for management to blame the government for program changes, which he described as the "normal business of a media company".

"If the ABC or SBS want to make decisions to change or cease programming that is their choice."

Mr Turnbull announced that early next year, the government would introduce legislation to allow SBS to take a more "flexible" approach to advertising.

Under the new measure, the broadcaster would need to maintain its current average of five minutes of ads per hour each day, but could run up to 10 minutes in any given hour.

It is estimated this will provide SBS with an extra $28.5 million over five years.

Mr Turnbull also released an efficiency review that found the ABC and SBS could save millions of dollars a year by streamlining IT and marketing operations, changes in procurement and halting practices such as twice delivery of post to the desks of staff.

The opposition has attacked the funding reduction as another broken election promise and pointed to statements made by the Coalition in the lead up to the 2013 election in which cuts to the ABC's funding were ruled out.

Mr Turnbull dismissed claims that the government had broken an election promise with the cuts to the ABC and SBS.

He said both he and Treasurer Joe Hockey had made it "quite clear" there were no Coalition plans to cut on-air or online activities.

"But if there were to be savings made across the board, the ABC and SBS could not expect to be exempt."

Turnbull: Change ABC structure

Mr Turnbull said he would be raising several matters with the ABC board about the way the organisation is run - although he noted that the board could ignore his advice if it chose to.

The Communications Minister said the ABC should have a chief financial officer, explaining he did not understand why the role was currently being undertaken by the chief operating officer.

He will also recommend that the position of editor-in-chief no longer be combined with that of the managing director, who is Mark Scott.

"It creates the impression that the managing director is directly in charge of ABC news and current affairs, which he is not, and given the wide range of his responsibilities, could not be."

In a further shakeup to both public broadcasters, Mr Turnbull said there should be more "granular detail" about how they spend their money in relation to their charter obligations.

He also called on the two boards to take more responsibility for accuracy and objectivity in reporting at the ABC and SBS.

"I have on occasions heard directors say 'they do not want to get involved'. Well, if they do not want to get involved, they should resign."

Earlier on Wednesday, Education Minister Christopher Pyne made a pitch for the ABC not to cut local production in his home state of South Australia.

"I think [managing director] Mark Scott and the board need to get out of [Sydney headquarters] Ultimo and go around Australia and find the place where the ABC is most popular is in regional Australia, where it's the lifeline of country towns and regional areas," Mr Pyne said.

Cuts to SBS 'sizeable'

SBS managing director Michael Ebeid said the cut to his organisation was anticipated but "sizeable" and would "naturally be felt" by the broadcaster.

"National efforts to unify Australia's diverse communities go directly to the reason SBS was established, and it is at a time when our social cohesion is being tested, that having a multicultural broadcaster is more important than ever," he said in a statement.  

Mr Ebeid said if the government's plans to make the SBS's advertising arrangements more flexible came into place the broadcaster would "only implement additional advertising in programs and timeslots where the advertising return could genuinely aid our ability to invest in more Australian content".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the funding cut was another broken election promise from the Coalition.

"It is absolutely clear now that Tony Abbott stared down the barrel of a camera the night before the election and lied to the Australian people," Mr Shorten said.

The president of the Community and Public Sector Union, Michael Tull, said the announcement was "a sad day for all Australians who value the ABC and SBS".

"It is, frankly, gutless of Malcolm Turnbull to shun responsibility for these cuts and pass the buck to ABC management. There is no way that cuts of this size can be confined to 'back office' savings. Make no mistake, programming, services and jobs will have to be cut to accommodate these cuts."


How Narendra Modi turned Parliament House into a rock star's stage

You got the sense there was something about Modi when world leaders had their official handshakes with Tony Abbott at the G20 summit.

While the other leaders offered brief handshakes and stiff smiles, India's Prime Minister strode out of the wings to greet his Australian counterpart with an exuberant hug.

You got the same sense about Narendra Modi when he was later mobbed by chanting fans at the unveiling of a statue in Brisbane and then tweeted about how touched he was. And again when thousands of Indian Australians spent a day dancing, drumming and partying in anticipation of his speech in Sydney.

But when Modi began to address the parliament in Canberra on Tuesday, we knew for sure there was something about the Indian Prime Minister.

It wasn't just that he acknowledged Indigenous Australians when Mr Abbott did not.  Or that he wondered how MPs were surviving a third address to parliament by a world leader in as many days.  "Maybe this is Prime Minister Abbott's way of shirtfronting you," he suggested with the hint of a wink.

It wasn't even the fact that – although he had an autocue – he appeared not to be speaking from prepared notes. He was eyes up all the way through.

It was because as soon as Modi got stuck into the substance of his address, he had the normally rowdy House of Representatives hypnotised.

"I come to you with the greetings of 1.25 billion people … and today I have come to unite in spirit, as we once were in geography," he declared.

In cadences befitting of someone who is a published poet as well as a politician, Modi spoke of how democracy offers "the best opportunity for the human spirit to flourish" and loaded praise on Australia, whose cities are "alive with [the] richness of this world's diversity".

But his stylish words also carried a serious message: India is open for business.  There are 800 million Indians under the age of 35, "eager for change, willing to work for it because, now they believe that it is possible".

Young Indians want energy that "does not cause our glaciers to melt," cities that are "smart, sustainable and liveable" and villages that "offer opportunity". And they want Australia's help to get there.

"India will be the answer to your search for new economic opportunities … your source for world class skills at home or for a manufacturing location abroad," he said with all the polish and confidence of a new car salesman.

As he concluded with a simple "thanks a lot," the chamber rose in a standing ovation.  They were not just being polite. If Madam Speaker had let them, they would have whistled, whooped and charged the stage.  That's what you do when you see a rock star perform.



Education Act Amendments Benefit All Independent Schools

All Independent schools will see some benefits flow through from today’s passage of the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2014, according to Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) Executive Director, Mr Bill Daniels.

“Education Minister Christopher Pyne should be congratulated for moving quickly to make important improvements to the current funding and operational arrangements for Independent schools,” he said.

The amendments will ensure the timely payment of an extra $6.8 million for many non-government schools with a large number of Indigenous boarding students from remote areas. “These schools service some of Australia’s most needy students and will welcome the extra injection of funds this year to assist in improving the educational outcomes for Indigenous students,” Mr Daniels said.

“Many Special schools and Special Assistance schools faced a potential reduction in funding from the beginning of 2015 and now provision has been made in the legislation to allow them to transition towards the Student Resourcing Standard, consistent with other schools funded under the Australian Education Act,” he said.

“The implementation of the new school funding model in 2014 has put considerable administrative pressure on Independent schools and the additional burden to have School Improvement Plans in place by 1 January next year had to potential to add to this pressure,” Mr Daniels said. “The amendments have now relieved some of this pressure and moved the commencement date for Improvement Plans to 1 January 2016,” he said.

The amendments also ensure that the correct application of indexation is included in the total amount of capital funding for Block Grant Authorities for 2014, ensuring additional funding is available to support needy Independent schools to provide facilities that will enhance their educational outcomes.

Mr Daniels said that ISCA looks forward to working closely with the Australian Government in the coming months to explore other improvements that can be made to the way in which funding arrangements impact on Independent schools.


Comment from an old China hand

The Chicken Littles of Australia have been clucking about the Climate agreement between China and the U.S.

What they don't know is that while China may be a world leader in the use of solar heating, has extensive hydroelectric power and plenty of wind turbines, it is still installing one new multi megawatt coal powered plant every ten days.

While the pace may drop over time, China's dependence on coal power will only drop from from 79% at present to 75% by 2030. At that time China promises to be able to reduce its dependence on coal but even then nuclear will still be only 5% and hydropower much lower than at present.

On the other hand the U.S. Is a postindustrial economy with a bonanza in natural gas due to new technology. As a result it has seen a 20% drop in CO2 emissions in the last decade by switching from coal to gas powered electricity stations. In the future this can be accelerated which will make the U.S. The world leader in emissions reduction.

Of course CO2 is not the pollutant, but the particles from coal powered plants and petrol powered vehicles are. CO2 is good for plants up to 4000ppm as any greenhouse attendant will tell you.

The lack of correlation between climate and CO2 is demonstrated clearly by the current steady increase in ppm while the global temperature (HADCRUT/RSS) has stabilized for almost 20 years.