Thursday, October 18, 2018

Global warming will make beer much more expensive, scientists forecast

This is nonsense on stilts. The authors ignore both agricultural economics and plant biology.

Economics: There is no way there will be a barley shortage.  Grain crops tend to glut, not shortage. A small price rise would produce a flood of it.

Plant biology: A warmer climate would produce MORE rain overall, not less, which is good for ALL plants. And higher CO2 levels would also make ALL plants more vigorous and able to thrive even in low rainfall areas.  The area growing barley could EXPAND under global warming. 

And it is a temperate climate crop originating in the Middle East so if some areas did become too hot for it, a small move poleward should restore it to congenial conditions. And there would be much more arable land in the North under warming -- in Northern Canada and Southern Siberia, for instance.

Don't expect much science from scientists these days

IF YOU weren’t already worried about the effects of global warming, this should definitely do it.

Scientists have looked at the impact climate change will have on barley — a vital crop for beer making — and come up with a grim prediction: a global beer shortage.

While Australia hit “peak beer” in 1974-75, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, we still rank about 23rd in the world when it comes to beer consumption per capita.

So this is a very concerning forecast indeed.

The study was carried out by a small team of researchers in the US, the UK and China and published this week in the journal Nature Plants.

Scientists behind the study suggest that by the end of the century, increased drought and heat could hurt barley crops enough to cause a genuine shortage for beer makers, driving up the cost of a schooner.

“Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world by volume consumed, and yields of its main ingredient, barley, decline sharply in periods of extreme drought and heat,” researchers wrote.

“Although the frequency and severity of drought and heat extremes increase substantially in range of future climate scenarios by five Earth System Models, the vulnerability of beer supply to such extremes has never been assessed.”

So they set out to look at such a scenario under a range of different climate models.

Worldwide barley is used for all sorts of purposes, mostly feeding livestock. Less than 20 per cent of the world’s barley is made into beer. But in the United States, Brazil and China, at least two-thirds of the barley goes into six-packs, drafts, kegs, cans and bottles.

In Australia, barley has been losing ground to rival crops due, in part, to climate conditions and slowing overseas demand.

Barley is also one of the most heat-sensitive crops, making it particularly vulnerable to global warming and the extreme events brought on by climate change.

“We find that these extreme events may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide,” researchers said.

In their estimation, losses of barley yield could easily be as much as 17 per cent. That means beer prices on average would double, even adjusting for inflation. In countries like Ireland, where cost of a brew is already high, prices could triple.

Study co-author Steve Davis of the University of California, Irvine, said the beer research was partly done to drive home the not-that-palatable message that climate change is messing with all sorts of aspects of our daily lives.

They knew, people like me would write about it and people like you would read about it.

The findings come a week after a dire United Nations report described consequences of dangerous levels of climate change including worsening food and water shortages, heatwaves, sea level rise, and disease.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s early response to the report was to promise that Australia would be not be spending money on climate change conferences and “all that nonsense”.


Scott Morrison prepared to accept New Zealand refugee offer 'if lifetime ban law passed'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is inclined to take up New Zealand's long-standing offer to accept 150 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island on the condition the Parliament passes a stalled bill that would ban any of those people ever coming to Australia.

It marks a turning point in Australia's opposition to New Zealand's offer, with the government having previously said the proposal could only be considered once the United States resettlement deal had been completed.

And it comes as both major parties face increasing internal pressure to get people off Manus Island and Nauru, with MPs telling their leaders the situation is now critical and the public's sentiment is changing.

The so-called "lifetime visa ban" would prevent anyone who was sent to Nauru or Manus Island after 19 July 2013 from ever receiving a visa to come to Australia, including a business or tourist visa.

The government argues the rules are necessary to stop refugees settling in Australia after going to New Zealand, thus providing a pathway for asylum seekers to end up here after coming by boat.

In response to growing concerns of his own Liberal colleagues - including MPs Craig Laundy, Russell Broadbent and Julia Banks - Mr Morrison repeatedly noted the bill to close the "back door" from New Zealand into Australia had languished on the notice paper since 2016.

Labor, the Greens and a slew of crossbenchers had vowed to oppose the bill in the Senate, meaning it was sure to fail and was never put to a vote.

Fairfax Media understands the government will put the bill to a vote this week if there is sufficient support for it to pass, and is likely to accept New Zealand's long-standing offer once it is law.

However, the opposition vowed it was not for turning, even in light of Mr Morrison's offer. A Labor spokeswoman confirmed the party still opposed the legislation, and said the government should deal directly with New Zealand if it wanted to place conditions on any resettlement offer.

Opposition immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said it was "ridiculous" genuine refugees who are resettled in third countries would be banned from entering Australia as tourists in 30 years.

Dr O'Connor from Médecins Sans Frontières says refugee children have presented with depression and anxiety, with children as young as nine attempting suicide. Many children are also suffering traumatic withdrawal syndrome, unable to eat

"The Liberals' lifetime ban legislation has nothing to do with third country resettlement options because the US deal is already under way," he told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

"If Malcolm Turnbull was able to negotiate conditions for the US deal to proceed, why is Scott Morrison incapable of negotiating similar conditions for the NZ deal?"

Labor on Tuesday said it would introduce legislation aimed at ensuring sick refugee children at the regional processing centre in Nauru were brought to Australia for medical purposes if necessary.

Mr Morrison's new offer will place enormous pressure on the Senate to acquiesce to the lifetime visa ban. If Labor and the Greens vote against it, it could still pass with the support of the crossbench.

The Centre Alliance party, which controls two crossbench votes, said it remained opposed to the bill as it currently stood, but was willing to negotiate.

"A blanket ban on entry to Australia is really cruelty for cruelty’s sake. We certainly will not be supporting a bill along these lines," Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff told Fairfax Media. "If they want to sit down and talk to us they can sit down and talk to us."

Independent senators Derryn Hinch and Tim Storer, whose votes are also critical, said they had not been approached by the government for talks about the bill. Senator Storer was not in Parliament when it was discussed in 2016, but a spokesman indicated he was unlikely to support it.

A One Nation spokesman indicated the party was inclined to support the bill, noting both major parties had promised people on Manus Island and Nauru would never come to Australia.

As of last week, 418 people had resettled in the US from both Manus Island and Nauru, under the deal struck by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and former US president Barack Obama.


Sydney Uni still opposed to Western civilization 

A Ramsay Centre-funded course at Sydney University would be badged 'Western tradition' rather than 'Western civilisation' in a bid to assuage concerns held by some academics about the proposed partnership.

The country's oldest university has offered staff worried about the Ramsay course a number of concessions in an updated memorandum of understanding it will put to the centre, including stripping Ramsay representatives of voting rights on academic and scholarship committees.

A Bachelor of Western Tradition would also have to comply with a university-wide plan to emphasise skills such as "cultural competence", or "the ability to engage ethically, respectfully and successfully in inter-cultural settings". The Herald understands the MOU was distributed to university staff and received by the Ramsay Centre on Tuesday night.

The Ramsay Centre board, which includes former Coalition prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, would need to accept the MOU before a deal progresses. If it agrees, Sydney University will draw up a curriculum that would have to be approved by its academic board.

The Ramsay Centre is offering millions to fund courses on the great books of the West at several universities. Universities, including Sydney, already cover similar content, but this proposal has inflamed the culture wars because opponents see it as cultural imperialism. Its supporters believe the resistance shows political correctness is taking over campuses.

The Ramsay Centre said it would need to time to consider the updated MOU before commenting.

Sydney University vice-chancellor Michael Spence sparked furious debate when he began talks with Ramsay earlier this year after the Australian National University pulled out. Queensland University has also expressed interest.

The ANU said Ramsay's demands would have curtailed its academic freedom. The centre denies these claims. Using "Western civilisation" to describe the course was a sticking point in ANU negotiations, with Ramsay rejecting the Canberra-based university's proposal to call it Western studies.

In an attempt to set clear boundaries around academic autonomy early in the negotiations, senior Sydney University staff drew up an MOU. The first draft gave Ramsay standard donor voting rights for an academic appointment and scholarship committees, but specified that teaching and content be controlled by the university.

But when the university surveyed staff's views on the MOU, reactions were mixed. A third of the 500 respondents were ideologically opposed to involvement with Ramsay, believing it would be a course in European supremicism, according to an email sent to staff on Tuesday night.

A third supported the course, and the remaining third supported the principles of the MOU but worried about how it would work in practice. "Following consultation, the draft MOU has been significantly revised," the email said.

Under the changes, Ramsay will be required to agree to the term tradition rather than civilisation; waive its voting rights on the committees; and comply with the graduate qualities program that begins in 2021.

The university has also amended the clause about a Ramsay review after four years, saying any review would need to be done by academics jointly chosen by the university and Ramsay. The university would also have control over the marketing of the course.

Staff opposed to the centre are planning a public meeting on October 29.


'It's a white supremacist song!' Aboriginal boxer calls for Australia's national anthem to be scrapped

He's always been a loose cannon.  Not a profound thinker.  At the time the song was adopted as the national anthem it was carefullly revised to eliminate anything politically controversial

He blasted the Australian national anthem as 'racist' last year and vowed to boycott the song before his fight with Danny Green.

And Anthony Mundine renewed calls for the national anthem to be scrapped during an interview with Hit 105's Stav, Abby and Matt on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old described Advance Australia Fair as 'a white supremacist song' and voiced his support for the creation of a new anthem which would 'bring people together'.

Anthony claimed the song 'was compiled in the late 1700s' and was a 'theme song for the White Australia Policy from 1901 until 1970 something'.

The song was actually composed in 1878, and did not become the country's official national anthem until 1984.

When the radio hosts asked whether Anthony wanted to update the song to make it more inclusive, he responded: 'Nah, change it man. We need a whole new song'.

The sportsman said he wasn't 'trying to bring people apart' and wanted to be more inclusive.  'I'm not against anybody, I have white mates, black… I don't care what you are. I'll treat you how your character is and your heart is.'

He stated: 'In order for us to move forward as a country, as a nation, as a people, we need to get this straight'.

It's not the first time the boxer has condemned the national anthem. Last year, he said the song is unjust to Indigenous Australians.

'I am a man that stands against wrong and I think that is a big wrong in our country. And I can't stand for something that I don't believe in,' he said at a press conference in January, 2017, prior to his match against Danny Green.

The reality star is no stranger to controversy.

During his time on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! earlier this year he stated: 'If you're going to be gay, do it behind closed doors'.

Anthony who converted to Islam in the 1990s, cited his faith and his Aboriginal heritage as reasons for making the comments.

'If we were to live in a society, just like in Aboriginal culture, (where) homosexuality is forbidden and you do it and the consequences are capital punishment or death, you think, 'are you going to do it?' Or think twice about doing it?' he said on the show.    

But in a July interview with The Daily Telegraph he said he was changing his tune and trying to be more considerate.

'I honestly don't care if anyone's gay. I'm not judge and jury. That's for the creator. Whether I believe it's right or wrong, I have to accept it. It's law,' he said.

'I've got gay friends. I've got gay family members. I have a cousin, she's gay. I was hurt that she was hurt. I want to uplift and inspire people, not hurt anyone.

'I was trying to say what happened in our culture back in the day. It comes out that I want gays to be killed. Of course I don't wish that on anyone. In Islam taking one human life is like taking the whole of humanity.'


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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Former Liberal leader John Hewson (The man who lost an "unlosable" election) urges voters to dump Coalition over climate inaction

Hewson is an embittered man and has drifted Left since he lost. One also wonders whether he is still Chairman of "Port Augusta Graphite Energy" which wants millions in government grants to build a solar thermal plant in SA?  Follow the money? Hewson in fact earns his living by promoting global warming schemes and policies  

Former Liberal leader John Hewson has urged voters to turn on the Liberals in the up-coming Wentworth by-election over climate change, saying it may serve as a wake up call.

Dr John Hewson, who led the Liberal party from 1990 to 1994, said most Australians were disgusted the government had failed to show leadership on climate change.

"It's irresponsible, it's grossly irresponsible - we have politicians playing short-term political games for short-term political gains when they should be delivering a decisive climate action plan," he told SBS News. "It's a national disgrace."

The former Liberal MP for Wentworth stressed he was not endorsing or advocating for any particular candidate but said a political party without a policy on tackling climate change had lost the mandate to form a government. "You lose the right to govern if you do not listen to the electorate on these issues," he said. "This is why the electorate is pissed off."

Independent Kerryn Phelps looks poised to take out Malcolm Turnbull's former seat, based on the latest polling - resulting in a minority federal parliament.


Scott Morrison is considering moving Australia’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he could move Australia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv - mimicking US President Donald Trump's decision that led to riots and bloodshed.

Mr Morrison is expected to make an announcement on Tuesday as part of a foreign policy statement on Israel, in Canberra.

The prime minister has also credited the Liberal Party's Wentworth by-election candidate Dave Sharma, a former Australian ambassador to Israel, with raising the issue. 'He's arguing it can be done consistent with Australia's long-running position ... he's actually changing the way in which the issue is conceived,' Mr Morrison told Fairfax Media.

Wentworth, the former Sydney blue-ribbon electorate of Malcolm Turnbull, has a large Jewish community and voters will go to the polls this weekend.

If Australia does proceed, it will be following the US which earlier this year moved its embassy, effectively recognising the holy city of Jerusalem as the 'true' capital of Israel.

Mr Trump opened the new US embassy in the city in May. On the same day Israeli forces shot dead 58 Palestinians protesting the move.

Jerusalem is also a holy city for the largely Muslim population of the Palestinian territories, and they feared that recognition of the city as a Jewish capital would imperil shared access to the many religious sites.

It would also be a departure from the position taken by former prime minister Mr Turnbull and former foreign minister Julie Bishop.

Labor, meanwhile, has attacked Mr Morrison's 'desperation' for signalling the move. Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the prime minister was playing 'dangerous and deceitful' word games. 'Foreign policy, and Australia's national interest are far too important to be played with in this fashion,' Senator Wong said. 'The people of Wentworth, and all Australians, deserve a leader who puts the national interest ahead of his self-interest, and governs in the best long term interest of the nation.'

Labor is concerned the approach could undermine the prospect of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

So far only the US and its ally Guatemala have moved their embassies to Jerusalem.


A mother

Most mothers would do the same.  Mothers are wonderful people

A young mother who battered by hail to protect her baby girl from an intense storm is being considered for a bravery award.

Fiona Simpson, 23, saved the life of her daughter by turning her back on giant hailstones to shield her four-month-old baby from the storm on Thursday.

After wild weather blew out their car's windshield and back window, the quick-thinking Queensland mum jumped into the backseat of her car and protected her baby girl.

She was left covered in welts, cuts and bruises after the tennis ball-sized hail pelted her body, the ABC reported.

'It was so scary but there was no time to be afraid … It just all happened so fast.

'I jumped over the back seat, over her car seat, holding my body over hers,' she said.

Since the storm on Thursday, Mrs Simpson has been praised nationally for her sheer bravery.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk commended the young mother and described her story as 'extraordinary' in a press conference on Sunday. 'We will be recommending her for a bravery award,' Ms Palaszczuk said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also commended Mrs Simpson on her selflessness. 'I certainly think she is one of the bravest people I have read of lately,' Mr Morrison said.


'Balancing' act: Australia's new race commissioner is not inclined to commentary or advocacy

Chin Leong Tan, Australia's new race discrimination commissioner, sees his role very differently to predecessor Tim Soutphommasane. For one thing, he is not inclined to commentary or advocacy. Instead, he approaches issues with a clinical dispassion befitting his background as a commercial and property lawyer. One of his favourite words is "balance".

Take the most controversial debate in race politics last year: the bid to repeal or dilute section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person on the basis of race.

"It’s not for me to comment on legislation that’s been there for 40-odd years," says Mr Tan, who takes up his new position on Monday.

"Law is a living creature. If there’s the community sense that it’s time to perhaps look at some changes … my role is really to then arbitrate, and not to push for a view."

When pushed, he praises section 18C as "a reflection of Australian values and views that we have". But it is not clear if he believes those values should endure regardless of the prevailing sentiments in Canberra.

"I defend the existing section 18C for what it is ... it’s there as a law and I comply with the law," Mr Tan says.

It's a similar story when it comes to African gang violence in Victoria. The debate has elicited claims of race-baiting and dog-whistling ahead of a state election - particularly directed at Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who claimed Melburnians were afraid to go out to restaurants at night.

"He has a view and he expressed it. People had opposing views. That’s largely the debate that’s going on out there," Mr Tan says.

"It’s not my role to canvass an opinion about what politicians say from time to time, unless it becomes a public issue of a dimension that requires my involvement within the confines the Act."

The clash with Dr Soutphommasane's approach, particularly during his final months, could hardly be more stark. In his final speech, the former commissioner warned "race politics is back", and singled out Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Dutton, Tony Abbott, Andrew Bolt and others for criticism.

Dr Soutphommasane is a former Labor staffer and was appointed to the role by Labor in the dying days of the second Rudd government. Mr Tan unsuccessfully sought Liberal Party preselection in an on-again, off-again relationship with the party - he said he resigned his membership about a month ago after resuming it last year.

Attorney-General Christian Porter praised Mr Tan as "a well-known and recognised leader in the multicultural community" who would "represent all Australians".

In a clear departure from his predecessor, Mr Tan said there were limits to the power of "calling out" racism - even for the race discrimination commissioner.

"Calling out racism is very important, but I want to be very careful that we put things in context - because I do share a view that that can be overplayed sometimes," he said.

"It's important to remember the race discrimination [commissioner] role is not meant to divide, it’s meant to enhance communities and strengthen them."

Mr Tan was born in Malaysia to Chinese parents, and migrated to Melbourne in the 1980s. After leaving commercial law in 2011, he headed the Victorian Multicultural Commission, and since 2015 he has been director of multicultural engagement at Swinburne University of Technology.

His new $350,000-a-year job sits within the Australian Human Rights Commission, which has been the focus of political argy-bargy since the Coalition's spectacular falling out with former president Gillian Triggs over asylum seekers. Some conservatives argued for the race discrimination role to be scrapped or renamed, but the government opted to do neither.


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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Man acquitted of murdering his wife claims police ignored evidence

The W.A. cops are a rough lot so this is all highly believable. Bashing Aborigines is their chief skill.  The Rayney affair is a huge scandal.  All the police involved should be dismissed

A man who was wrongly accused of killing his wife is calling for 'the injustice to end' and for investigators to find her killer.

Barrister Lloyd Rayney was awarded more than $2.6 million in damages against the Western Australian government last year in one of the state's largest defamation payouts.

The payout came after he was publicly named by police as the prime and only suspect in the death of his wife Corryn Rayney in August 2007.

Evidence has since come to light places two violent sexual predators within just blocks of the Rayney's home at the time of the murder.

Corryn Rayney, 44, went to a boot-scooting class on August 7, 2007 and never returned home. Her body was found days later in a sandy grave in Perth's King's Park.

In an interview with 60Minutes, Mr Rayney said there were holes in the investigation.  'It's now been 11 years, it's 11 long years, and someone has literally gotten away with murder,' he said. 'Nothing gets better until her killer is prosecuted.'

Convicted rapist Ivan Eades lived in the same suburb as the Rayneys and a cigarette butt covered in his DNA was found by police outside their house on the day Corryn disappeared.

Eades' cousin, violent paedophile Allon Mitchell Lacco,  lived in an apartment near the Bentley Community Centre, where Ms Rayney was last seen alive.

On the day that Ms Rayney disappeared, phone records show that Lacco had allegedly used the phonebooth near the home.

When Lacco was pulled over by police the day after Ms Rayney's body was found, police found sand in the boot of his car, as well as a knife.

A year later investigators tracked Lacco in Sydney, where they found a diary page for August 2007, the month Ms Rayney was killed, with map of Kings Park and the floor plan of the supreme court - where Ms Rayney was a registrar.

Lacco was interviewed by police but detectives did not take the investigation any further.

A resident of an apartment block near Kings Park also reportedly heard a loud scream from the park on the night Ms Rayney disappeared. Police reportedly discounted the claim.

Police based their case on Mr Rayney on the idea that his wife had been killed in their family home and driven in her body in her car to the park.

But their daughter was home at the time he supposedly killed her and their other daughter was expected home at any time. 

Mr Rayney said the case made no sense but the public had formed the opinion that he was guilty based on a police press conference where he was named the main suspect.

Mr Rayney says his life was changed forever from that day, saying his reputation will never survive the trial by media that he faced.

'(The police) did it for maximum humiliation, to cause me maximum embarrassment,' Rayney told 60 Minutes.

After the announcement Mr Rayney had his house egged, had sanitary waste tipped over him at a bar and was publicly vilified.

Three years after the press conference Mr Rayney was charged with murder, and two years after that he was acquitted.

Mr Rayney was awarded more than $2.6million in defamation damages. The damages include nearly $1.8 million in loss of income and $846,000 in damage to his reputation and distress.

He won an appeal and had charges of phonetapping thrown out of court.

His lawyer Martin Bennett said police did not follow the leads they had and had caused irreparable damage to Mr Rayney's reputation.

'This damage will continue for the rest of his career. It hasn't been expunged. All that occurs is people…adjust their view to ''he must be very clever to get away with it''.'

Mr Rayney broke down in tears as he spoke about the moment he had to tell his daughters that their mum had been killed.

'We just put our arms around each other, I tried to comfort them but how do you comfort two girls who have lost their mum?'

Police have not confirmed whether they are investigating Allon Lacco or Ivan Eades in relation to the murder.

Locco is currently behind bars, waiting to be sentenced for unrelated charges, including assault.  Eades' whereabouts in unknown.


Despite political difficulties, the coalition government has delivered a strong Australian economy

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics today tabled the report of its Review of the Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report 2017 (Second Report). The report provides a summary of issues raised at the public hearing with the Reserve Bank in Canberra on 17 August 2018.

The Chair of the committee, Mr Tim Wilson MP, said ‘the Governor’s testimony highlighted the strength of Australia’s economy. The RBA expects GDP growth to average around 3¼ per cent by the end of 2018 through to the end of 2019.’

‘Australia’s strong GDP growth is being supported by a pick-up in non-mining investment, strong commodity prices, growth in investment in energy projects and public sector infrastructure, low interest rates and the tax cuts already in place for small and medium businesses.’ Mr Wilson said.

Mr Wilson commented ‘Australia’s labour market has continued to strengthen with the labour force participation rate close to its historical high. Strong, continued growth in employment is expected to further reduce spare capacity in labour markets and generate a gradual increase in wages and inflation.’

‘While growth in average wages has been relatively low, we have turned the corner on wages growth. The wage price index increased by 0.6 per cent in the June quarter, which is the fastest quarterly increase since March 2014.’ Mr Wilson added.
For information about the inquiry visit the committee’s webpage at:

Media release from Committee Chair Mr Tim Wilson MP

Business tax cuts fast-track designed to damage Bill Shorten

The trap for Bill Shorten has been set. In fast-tracking company tax cuts for businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million, Scott Morrison has hit the former union boss where it hurts.

Shorten tied himself in knots this year cooking up Labor’s company tax policy on the run. Morrison has finally turned the tables on Labor after months of pain trying to push through Malcolm Turnbull’s company tax cuts for larger companies — including the big banks.

The test for Shorten is clear. Will he support accelerated company tax cuts for more than three million small businesses or continue Labor’s anti-business crusade? Aided and abetted by the trade union movement, Shorten has crafted policies that hurt small business. Cracking down on discretionary trusts, lobbying to restore penalty rates and opposing further tax cuts for companies has created a narrative that a Shorten government will be no friend of Australian businesses.

While that may consolidate his union base, it distances him from hardworking mum and dad small business owners trying to put food on the table, pay the bills and keep their employees in jobs.

Shorten can’t bank on winning the election off the back of negative sentiment from voters seeking to punish the Coalition.

Labor’s big taxing agenda — worth almost $160 billion over a decade and headlined by clamps on negative gearing and dividend imputation — has targeted the so-called “wealthy” and self-funded retirees.

As the policy war between Shorten and Morrison heats up ahead of Christmas, Shorten will use his war chest to claw back votes from the very same taxpayers he targeted in Labor’s cash grabs.

With the major parties positioning themselves before entering the election zone, Labor’s policy to subsidise preschool for kids aged three and four represented a shift away from Shorten’s class war rhetoric, and signalled a move to win over young families and middle Australia. Both sides face internal pressures, with Morrison confronting the reality of slipping into minority government, with the Coalition bracing itself for a potentially devastating loss in the Wentworth by-election.

But as Shorten, ahead in the polls but behind Morrison in personal approval ratings, moves to present himself as a viable alternative prime minister, he will need to ignore distractions and concentrate on executing clear messaging in key policy areas. Beholden by the unions and left-faction powerbrokers on the hot-button issues of coal, trade and company tax cuts, Shorten is under pressure to avoid the curse of complacency.

Australians aren’t mugs. It’s time for Shorten to stop dividing voters into groups, and begin mapping out his vision for the nation.


Renewable investment boom tipped to slow

One of the world's biggest lenders to green electricity projects says rapid growth in Australia's renewable energy investment is likely to slow, as banks become more cautious about the financial impact of electricity grid congestion.

After a record $10 billion poured into renewable projects last year, Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) Bank, a global banking giant and a major lender to renewable energy in Australia, said it was becoming harder for green energy projects to get finance.

Geoff Daley, the bank's head of Australian structured finance, said one reason for this was because the sheer number of renewable projects built in some areas meant the grid lacked the necessary capacity.

This happens because wind farms or solar farms are often located in parts of the power grid that have not previously had large amounts of generation, such as far north Queensland.

One result of congestion, if the grid is not augmented, is that energy generated may not be able to reach the customers.

"There's greater uncertainty at the moment around that issue and that will mean the lenders are more cautious," Mr Daley said.

Earlier this year, a number of renewable projects also suffered big cuts in their revenue because of changes to ratios used by the regulator in an attempt to apportion how electricity is lost as it flows through the distribution network.

Mr Daley said some generators were likely to make less revenue than projected, which was causing banks to be more cautious in their lending decisions.

"What that means for projects now is that it's much, much harder to get finance unless there's a strong contract," he said.

MUFG Bank was the world's largest arranger of renewable energy finance in 2017, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Industry figures show 2017 was a record-breaking year for renewable energy investment in Australia, with more than $10 billion in projects reaching financial close. But Mr Daley said there would be a "slowdown in the speed of investment".

The director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, Tim Buckley, said some slowdown in renewable investment was inevitable, but it was likely to be a "pause." There had been "massive solar boom,"  he said, but little planning around where the projects would be located.

"There's no over-arching plan. If you don't have an over-arching plan, renewables will swamp parts of the grid," Mr Buckley said.

"The willingness of the investment community to invest in renewables in Australia is going to wind back, because we need to take a pause. We've had five years of energy policy chaos which means the grid isn't yet prepared to accommodate ever more renewables."

The government's energy policy was thrown into disarray with the change of prime minister in August. The government has dumped the National Energy Guarantee which aimed to address the problems of high  power prices, carbon emissions and grid reliability.

National Australia Bank's global head of energy, Andrew Smith, acknowledged the bank was monitoring issues raised by grid congestion closely, but he said this was not unique to Australia. "It's certainly an area of focus for banks," he said.

Mr Smith said the issue had not dented the availability of finance for renewable projects. "Certainly now there's significant demand for banks to participate in these projects," he said.

Speaking at the AFR National Energy Summit, AGL interim chief executive Brett Redman said renewable energy investors are concerned about the country’s changing policy landscape and the falling investment costs of renewable generation.

“If I talk about offshore investors, they get very worried over the stability of long-term targets,” Mr Redman told Fairfax Media

Mr Redman said the "biggest issue" for investing in renewables was that costs of developing projects were coming down rapidly.

“So the wind farms we built 10 years ago now look really expensive compared to what it would cost you to build wind now; the solar we built three to four years ago looks really expensive now.


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

Monday, October 15, 2018

Is this what the world has come to? Australian Government group pushes to ban the term 'pregnant women' and replace it with 'pregnant people'

A progressive organisation that is calling for Australians to be more inclusive by adopting non-gender specific terms has been slammed on social media.

The Equality Institute, a Melbourne-based 'feminist' organisation, is renowned for improving gender equality but their tweet about pregnancy on Tuesday caused a huge backlash.

In the tweet, the global research and creative agency suggested people should use the term pregnant 'pregnant people' instead of 'pregnant women'.

'People of all genders can fall pregnant, because people of all genders can have the reproductive organs to do so,' the tweet stated. 'Consider all people - including trans & non-binary folk - & ensure that your language is inclusive of everyone.'

The Equality Institute has previously been commissioned by the Victorian Government to do research and analysis on domestic violence, and has partnered up with various government agencies and non-profit companies.

Despite their attempts to be more inclusive, the tweet garnered plenty of negativity on social media with many people sharing their comments online.

'Wrong. Only women, one of only two genders, can become pregnant. My reference is science. Science doesn’t care about your feelings,' one person wrote.

'That's not how it works. It sounds like it may be time your mom & dad had the "Talk" with you,' another person said.

A third person added: 'After being a labor and delivery nurse for 25 years.....I’m pretty sure my wife would disagree with your opinion.'

Another organisation seeking to incite social change that has ruffled a few feathers with one of its tweets is the Wellcome Collection, a British museum and library.

The museum recently sent out a tweet promoting an event on October 6 using the word 'womxn' which led to a Twitter backlash from hundreds of women.

In the tweet, the organisation promoted a series of activities, discussions and workshops for 'womxn' to challenge existing archives of women in history.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison commented on the two proposed changes, when he spoke to 3AW's Neil Mitchell.

When the radio host asked the PM how he felt about political correctness in relation the term 'pregnant women' and 'womxn', he replied by saying: 'Well that's ridiculous'.

'I mean honestly, seriously... people should just honestly get over themselves.

'I mean we want gender equality, we don't want people discriminated on the basis of their sexuality. And we want all of that, but we don't have to carry on,' the PM said.


'They're back again': Dozens of African youths are targeted by police just days after 100 teenagers wreaked havoc on the same street - as Tony Abbott blames  'pussy footing' around gang crime

Terrified residents have been forced to lock themselves in their own homes as police rounded up a swarm of youths wreaking havoc on their street.

For the second time in as many weeks, police were called to Banjo Paterson Park in Melbourne's south-eastern suburb of Lynbrook on Saturday night to usher dozens of rampaging youths, predominantly African-Australians, onto trains.

As locals hid, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was vocal in his criticism of Victoria Police's leniency, saying youths will continue to treat authorities with contempt unless arrests are made.

Police were called to the park on Saturday evening at around 7:30pm after reports of chanting and public intoxication.

One female resident told the Herald Sun she was expecting a fight to break out at any minute.

The youths were reportedly approached by police with their batons drawn and ushered to Lynbrook Railway Station, about a ten-minute walk away.

One man was seen being put in the back of a police van.

Frightened locals watched through their windows as the scene was returned to tranquility about four hours later.

One resident saying they had 'never had this issue here before'.

But fewer than two weeks ago, on October 3, police were called to the exact same park after a report of African youth gang violence.

On that night, at least 25 riot squad officers were seen near the railway station and the reserve where the youths were loitering.

They were called on reports of violence and assault, but later said no arrests were made and no victims had come forward.

'Looks the same group of people that were here a couple of weeks ago are back again,' one local wrote on Facebook Saturday night, leading to concerns for re-offenders.

Mr Abbott has led the criticism of Victoria Police, accusing them of 'pussy footing' around youth and gang crime in Melbourne.

'The problem is that there seems to be a few hundred youngsters in outer metropolitan Melbourne who treat the police with contempt,' Mr Abbott said.

Legislation was introduced earlier in the year, which restricts youths with no prior convictions from associating with known gang members.


Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has said he does not necessarily agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report’s call to phase out coal power by 2050

He also said the government will need a whole of economy emissions reduction strategy in order to meet the set target of reducing emissions to 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

The IPCC report was written by over 90 scientists and said global emissions of greenhouse gas pollution must reach zero by about 2050 in order to stop global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The scientists recommended that the use of coal for electricity generation would have to drop to between 0 and 2 per cent of current usage.

Dr Finkel said instead the focus should purely be on emissions, as if carbon capture and storage is possible coal power will not produce emissions.

“I actually don’t agree on two basics. I’m not sure the report specifically says that. It says that we need to look at things like coal fired power with carbon capture and storage associated with it,” Dr Finkel told Sky News. “But the main reason for my statement is I feel we’ve got to focus on outcomes. The outcome is atmospheric emissions.”

“We should us whatever underlying technology are suitable for that.” “People paint themselves into an anti-coal corner or a pro-coal corner but the only question of relevance is to look at the atmospheric emissions.”

 Dr Finkel said Australia should be looking to natural gas as a transition fuel. “In the Finkel review we devote a whole chapter and a lot of discussion to the importance of natural gas as a transition fuel. If we use natural gas for the next 20-30 years a lot of it will make it so much easier to use more wind and solar.”

“But we deny ourselves natural gas it makes it more difficult to use wind and solar, so the pursuit of perfection gets in the way of the very good.”

Pressed on his argument that Australia could become the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied hydrogen gas — which was combustible and therefore equivalent to natural gas — Dr Finkel said it was because we have “fabulous resources” here.

The Coalition has struggled with energy policy and has effectively abandoned the emissions reduction component of the national energy guarantee, which was the government’s policy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the country will be able to meet its Paris climate agreement targets of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 “in a canter”.

Dr Finkel said the government would need a whole new emissions reduction policy in order for that to happen.

“If you go back to the Finkel review where 49 out of the 50 recommendations were accepted, if all of that is done then I think there is a good chance,” he said.

“So one of the recommendations which was accepted by the government was that by the end of 2020 the government should develop a whole of economy emissions reduction strategy. So if you count that as part of the policy development then I think we can.”

Dr Finkel said small modular reactors might reinvigorate the debate about nuclear power in the future.

He also restated his interest in hydrogen as an alternative energy source - which can be produced with hardly any emissions.


Freedom Charters may be needed to Protect Free Speech on University Campuses

The most concerning aspect of the current debate about free speech in Australian universities has been the complacent attitudes of Australian higher education leaders.

During Bettina Arndt’s recent speech at Sydney University on ‘rape culture’, riot police had to be called onto the campus to allow the event to proceed, after security guards were overwhelmed by demonstrators blocking audience members from attending the venue.

However, according to Sydney Vice-Chancellor, Michael Spence, the demonstration allegedly showed that “free speech is alive and well” in universities; the student demonstrators were supposedly exercising their legitimate right to protest and engage in counter-free speech.

In reality, the violent scenes of verbal and physical abuse witnessed were an example of the ‘no platforming’ phenomena prevalent in North America, which has seen numerous so-called controversial speakers banned and prevented from speaking on university and college campuses because their views are deemed ‘offensive’ or ‘hurtful’ to some students.

But according to Vicki Thomson, the Chief executive of the Group of Eight peak lobby ground representing Australia’s leading universities, there is no need for universities to take action on free speech on campus because she “couldn’t remember a particularly violent protest [on university campuses] in the past 10 years.”

Thomson was responding to the suggestion by Federal Education Minister, Dan Tehan, that Australian universities adopt the charter — the Statement on Principles of Free Expression — introduced by the University of Chicago in 2014 and subsequently adopted by 45 other American universities.

But if university administrators like Spence and Thomson are unwilling to even acknowledge free speech problems, it is difficult to trust them to self-regulate free speech solutions.

These attitudes suggest that stronger government regulation may be needed to actively spur universities to properly protect freedom of thought and expression on Australian campuses.

My new report, "University Freedom Charters: How best to protect free speech on Australian campuses", therefore proposes a new regulatory framework — based on the polices announced in the Canadian province of Ontario — which would hold universities accountable for implementing and complying with free speech policies, or have them risk financial penalties.

Tying funding to actively protecting free speech on campus would focus the minds of university administrators on free speech problems — especially the minds, once funding was directly at stake, of administrators who claim there is no problem and mistake legitimate protest with disruptive conduct interfering with the free speech of others.

As I told The Australian  this week, universities should consider the report a “shot across the bows.”

If university administrators don’t like the idea of government regulation, the power to forestall this is in their hands. They should take Minister Tehan’s advice, and put in place robust free speech policies to ensure universities remain true universities committed to free and open inquiry.


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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Australia has never been more divided on social and political issues. Are we becoming the US?

Hmmm...  I am not sure that all that much has changed.  Any change would be only a matter of degree.

During the Australian federal election of 1966 (in the Vietnam war era) I myself led the disruption of the Queensland campaign launch speech in Brisbane by Labor leader Arthur Calwell.  I did so however because I had attended the Brisbane meeting of Prime Minister Harold Holt a week or so earlier and observed it being extensively disrupted by Leftist students whom I mostly knew.  So aggressive attempts to shut up the other side of politics are not new. I was there.

And the way conservatives tend to be silenced in the public sphere is not new either.  I once wrote a book reflecting on that called "Conservatism as heresy" -- and that was in 1974.  The predominance of Leftist talk in the media and elsewhere does not however always translate into electoral victory.  Harold Holt won his election in a landslide.  And the "deplorables" of America elected Donald Trump resoundingly and gave his party control of Congress as well.

I think a lot depends on the issues of the day. Some issues will produce more heat than others. The Holt/Calwell confrontation came at a time when a conservative Australian government was sending conscripts to the Vietnam  war, a very savage war that had no obvious relevance to Australia.  Most university students were of conscription age so ran the real risk of being shot at for no reason that made much sense to them. So what looked like (but wasn't) the whole body of the nation's university students turned out in big demonstrations against the war.  The issue of the day concerned them personally.

But I do think Leftist aggression in Australia has ratcheted up in the last few years. Even minor figures like sex counseller Bettina Arndt draw out the storm troopers doing their best to shut her up. So something similar to the American scene does seem to be happening in Australia, though we have seen nothing like the hysteria of the Kavanaugh confirmation.

So what burning issue can be at work in both the USA and Australia?  To ask the question is to see the answer:  Immigration.  It was the immigration issue that ushered Tony Abbott into office in Australia and it was the immigration issue that ushered Trump into office in America. 

In Australia, public support for stopping the flow of illegal immigration hovered around 66% so both major parties supported a halt -- and Australia has now done what seems to elude Britain and the USA:  It has stopped the practice of people arriving without prior government permission.

But even though the flow of illegals has stopped there remains a big issue with large legal inflows of Third world migrants, mostly as refugees.

The political divisions in Australia are not however on simple party lines.  In America, Trump is determined to build his wall and the Left will do anything to oppose that.  But in Australia the elites of both parties think they display their virtue by accepting large numbers of mostly fake refugees. 

But African and Muslim refugees have been doing their level best to wear out their welcome by repeated attacks on existing inhabitants of Australia -- so there is now a clear groundswell of support for a big cut to the refugee program.  Prime Minister Morrison just has to promise that to be asssured of re-election.  He is however a strong Christian so may not see his way clear to do that.

And Australia's far-Left party, misleadingly known as the Green party, has taken up the cudgels to promote even bigger refugee intakes.  So although the refugee issue in Australia is not as clearly politically polarized as it is in America, it is definitely bubbling along strongly just beneath the surface.  And it does promote passionate debate.

And it would be clear to the far Left that change of some kind must come soon so they are warming up for the fray, accusing immigration critics of racism in their usual way. They are just as pro-immigration as the American Left and are facing a Trumpian slap in the face in the not too distant future.  And they are spoiling for a fight

It's notable that the elite commentators below all speak in airy generalities with no reference to actual current political issues.  They don't even mention immigration.  And they certainly don't identify who is behind the upheavals of rage.  That just about all the disturbances and protests are coming from the Left they are clearly afraid to mention.

And something else they don't broach is how widespread the political divisions are.  To listen to them you would think Australians were split down the middle on important political issues.  They are not.  There is widespread agreement on immigration control, for instance.  All the upheavals going on are in fact the work of a small Leftist minority.  Most Australians retain their usual laid-back attitudes.  So it would be a mistake to take much notice of a small noisy minority grabbing every opportunity to promote themselves.  Australians are indeed divided but it is not a 50/50 divide -- more like a 90/10 divide, with almost all the shrillness coming from the 10%

So I have given a political explanation of what is going on in Australian politics whereas the commentators below retreat into vague psychological and sociological theories. And seeing that I have a doctorate in psychology and taught sociology at a major Australian university (Uni NSW) for many years, I am in an excellent position to point out that all that they say is mere speculation.  They were not game to get down to tintacks

FACEBOOK melts down after a telecommunications company changes its profile picture in support of same-sex marriage.

A speaking tour by a far-right figure from America sparks violent clashes between opposing groups, who far outnumber those who’ve bought tickets.

After a television appearance, a politician receives a specific and violent threat about her daughter, allegedly made by a policeman.

And a radio shock jock’s fiery interview with the boss of a public building leads to boycotts, protests and a week or fierce debate online and in the media.

Has Australia ever been more divided than it is now?

“I don’t think it has — it’s absolutely staggering,” Andrew Charlton said. Dr Charlton, an economist, author and former senior adviser to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, said the tone of discourse lately was troubling. A constant simmering anger and increasing polarisation in the community isn’t just unpleasant — it could have a damaging, long-term impact on democracy, Dr Charlton believes.

“The warning lights on the dashboard of our democracy are blinking red. It’s very hard to constructively govern in an electorate that is so divided,” he said.

In the United States, there is a chasm between Americans socially and politically, which has created a powder keg across the country.

There is a concern that Australia is going down a similar path.  “It’s not yet on the same scale of the United States but it’s heading in the same direction,” Dr Charlton said.

“It remains to be seen whether we’re on the same curve or whether we’re on a different trajectory. I fear we’re on the same curve as the US but a bit behind.”


Since 1996, the Australian Electoral Study has analysed voting trends and ideological positions among voters.

Over two decades, it shows political polarisation has increased significantly and the moderate middle — people who consider themselves either left or right of centre — has evaporated.

And the data indicates that the widening polarisation between the two major parties, Labor and the Liberals, kicked off between the 2001 and 2004 federal elections.

“There’s been a very significant rise of the minor party vote in Australia, which some might call a protest vote but I think is more a sign of disillusionment with the major parties,” Dr Charlton said.

“That minor party vote is higher than it has been in many, many decades. The combined major party vote at the last election in the House of Representatives was at its lowest point in decades.”

A range of measures show that faith in politics among many Australians has slumped to dangerous lows. In addition, people are switching off from messages out of Canberra in growing frustration.

Jill Sheppard from Australian National University’s School of Politics and International Relations said Aussies had never cared intensely about politics. “But the change we’ve seen is that they care less than ever,” Dr Sheppard said.

“Fewer Australians think about and talk about politics, which is a bad sign. There’s a real stalemate in terms of voters being angry, parties not caring and no one really knowing what to do. It’s not sustainable indefinitely.”

As people lose faith in major parties, they look for an alternative that looks and feels different to fill the void, Dr Charlton said.

Many of those alternative figures take a more emotive approach to selling their policy messages, which can fuel division — especially on contentious issues from climate change to migration.

Advertising and marketing expert Arvind Hickman wrote that fringe politics was often wrongly dismissed by the mainstream, but it was “savvy” at marketing their brand and views. Whether via the internet or breakfast television appearances, figures such as Pauline Hanson had been able to widely distribute their messages.

“It’s almost an ‘Aussie lite’ version of the sort of media attention that Donald Trump attracted,” Mr Hickman wrote in a feature for AdNews.

The potential to inflame divisions in the wider community grows as people turn away from the centre and towards the fringes — left or right.

Dr Charlton said political polarisation such as this typically occurred when economies suffered and inequality was growing.  “Australia has had 26 years of uninterrupted growth and is one of the wealthiest countries in the world,” he said. “By global standards, inequality is relatively low. Things aren’t perfect but the reason for our division is not economics — it’s much deeper than that.”

What is the cause of our worsening division?


Fear has long been an effective tool in political campaigning.   Whether during times of war, domestic terrorism or financial market uncertainty, parties have made use of unease countless times throughout history.

And it works. Whether here or in the US and United Kingdom, there has rarely been a change of government when a country has troops on foreign soil.

The difference now is that fear is being more effectively used by fringe parties, commentator Warwick McFayden wrote in an analysis piece for Fairfax Media earlier this year.

“Throw fear into a person’s mind and it takes root and spreads until it sublimates reason,” Mr McFayden said. “It clouds judgment. It can direct a person’s behaviour towards an outcome that promises the removal of that fear.”

Carol Johnson, a professor of politics at the University of Adelaide, said fear and anger had made it increasingly hard to have a rational and reasoned debate about issues.

“Politicians do have genuine, heartfelt, ideological differences over what is best for society,” Ms Johnson said.

“However, politicians can also encourage fear and discriminatory attitudes for party-political purposes without sufficient concern for the impact on broader Australian society or vulnerable minorities.

“At its best, adversarial party politics fosters crucial debates and expands the democratic choice for voters. At its worst, it mobilises prejudice and undermines the possibility of parties working together for the common good.”

Dr Sheppard believes those with megaphones are the main culprits for many recent outbreaks of fury.

“When we noticed a downward turn in the civility of discourse in Australia, it tends to be because certain voices are amplified, like when we talk for a week about Alan Jones and the Opera House,” she said.


The rapid rise of social media platforms has given people the ability to curate an information experience by choosing who to follow or friend.

“We’re not quite sure what platforms like Facebook and Twitter are having on discourse and political engagement generally, but I think it promotes a perception that things are getting worse,” Dr Sheppard said.

“Inside that social media bubble, there’s a sense that society is becoming crueller and less civil and we start looking for signs of that.”

Despite the volume and intensity of fury that social media is often associated with, Dr Sheppard isn’t convinced it reflects the “real world”.

“When you step outside, I think you’d tend to find that most people are going on with things as they always have,” she said.

“Too many of us get stuck in our capital city experiences, surrounded by like-minded people, in (digital) communities that we choose, and we get what’s called confirmation bias.

“Everyone feels the same way as us and they’re angry like us … when you get out into most parts of the country, you’ll find people have other and much bigger worries.”

The concern is that those in the “bubble” are isolated from opposing views and new or different ideas, she said.

That can have a real impact on the civility of discourse.

Observers of Australia’s so-called “culture wars” have noted a tendency for people, regardless of which side they take, to be increasingly uncompromising.

It’s a view that Dr Charlton shares — and he thinks the disperse media landscape is to blame. “We all used to sit down and watch the same six o’clock news at night, wake up in the morning and read the same newspapers or get our information from the same radio bulletins. It was a great centric little force,” he said.

“It didn’t mean everyone agreed with each other but we all kind of had the same set of facts from which to form an opinion or viewpoint. “Now, people can now live in their own little Facebook and Twitter bubbles.”

Broader social changes, including the “postcode divide” and cost of living pressures, coupled with a more narrow community involvement by many, has also contributed to dwindling harmony, he said.


The mood in Australia when it comes to politics and politicians has become increasingly negative over the past decade.

“For a lot of Australians, and I can’t really disagree with them, the choices on offer are pretty unpalatable and it makes the idea of participating in democracy pretty disappointing,” Dr Sheppard said.

“Politicians have lost our trust and voters are starting to wonder that if their best choice at an election is what’s currently on offer, there might not be much point.

“People have stopped caring and that’s turning into anger directed towards the system.”

A revolving door of PMs — the last one to serve a full term was John Howard in 2007 — has had a profound impact.

“The leadership churn is unprecedented,” Dr Charlton said.  “The average tenure of an Australian prime minister, up until the final day of John Howard, was eight years. Since then, it’s been 22 months.”

Following the 2013 election, Professor Barry Jones from the University of Melbourne — who also served as a minister in the Hawke Government, said politics needed to be redefined.

“Political life in Canberra has become toxic,” he wrote. “With a breakdown in personal relationships, recourse to personal attacks, wild exaggeration and the endless repeating of slogans, the practice of debating with ideas and sentences with verbs having been abandoned.”

As a result, the importance of politics had been diminished among the public and attempts to engage the electorate was confined to the narrow window of an election campaign, he said.

However, Dr Charlton believes putting all of the blame on politicians for the decline in the “quality of debate and discourse” isn’t entirely fair. “I think we should look in the mirror,” he said.

“Politicians respond to the electorate. A lot of the partisanship we’re seeing in Canberra is a reflection of a growing partisanship in the electorate.”

Even the most virtuous politicians want to win — the goal of politics is to remain in office and, in the case of the government, in power. “I don’t think you can blame the increasing partisanship and division on politicians — they’re responding to an electoral opportunity.”


We are witnessing a “worrying” polarisation of the electorate that shows no imminent signs of slowing down, Dr Charlton says.

Many of those disillusioned with the major parties hold out hope for a saviour — the kinds of figures from times past that had a lasting legacy, he said.

“A lot of Australians think the problem is the current crop of politicians and all we need is another Hawke or whoever to come in, fix all our problems and make politics OK again,” he said.

“I just don’t think that’s the dynamic. I think there’s a problem in the electorate and, until we find ways as a community to reduce the sense of anger and polarisation, I don’t see anything changing in Canberra.

“That is a deeply depressing thought.”


The end of the dole bludger: Centrelink scroungers will have their welfare FROZEN if they refuse to take fruit picking jobs

Welfare recipients who turn down work available on Australian farms without a valid reason could have their Centrelink funds frozen for up to a month. The development comes as struggling rural farmers begin preparations for another crucial harvest season.

The federal government are making no apologies for their new employment focus, pledging to increase penalties if dole bludgers dodge potential work opportunities remotely.

'Our government has heard from farmers across the country about how tough it is right now to find workers, particularly at the height of harvest season for some crops,'' Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

'We want to highlight exactly where the jobs are and make sure job-seekers know where to look.

'Tackling the labour shortage also ­ensures job-seekers on taxpayer support have no excuse to ­refuse (work) opportunities.'

If the required amount of workers cannot be recruited to work on the farms, visitors on a holiday visa are likely to fill the roles. 'We cannot allow the fruit to rot,' Mr Morrison told the Daily Telegraph.

'We will back our farmers and make arrangements through our Pacific Island worker and migration program to get the job done.'

The harvest season is rapidly approaching for farmers, starting in Leeton next month.

Young's stone fruit season commences in January, with pears, grapes and prunes available to be picked and bagged across regional NSW from February.


Islamic extremism in our primary schools: Two students under ten years old revealed to have threatened to BEHEAD teachers

Diversity and inclusion at work

Two students younger than 10 have threatened to behead teaches in two frightening instances believed to be inspired by Islamist militant movements.

The two incidents were reported earlier this year and were believed to involve non-Muslim students attending public schools in New South Wales.

They follow reports 10 boys at an inner west Sydney primary school had been deemed 'at risk' of becoming radicalised, according to Daily Telegraph.  

Students as young as nine had reportedly started to show signs of extreme radicalisation, and some as young as five were also being monitored.

Up to 19 schools in Sydney's western and southwestern suburbs have reportedly been identified as potential targets for radical recruiters seeking vulnerable victims.

Sources inside the education field revealed the behaviour of children who had visited war zones in the Middle East were among those being closely watched.

Last year a female teacher claimed she was tormented by students aged between 10 and 13 who wore ISIS shirts to class and circled around her while reciting the Koran.

'I had students coming into class flying flags from overseas, be it the Syrian flag and possibly the ISIS flag. It looked to me like the ISIS flag,' she told the Mark Latham Outsiders program.

A former teacher said she chose to leave her job at a public school after primary school students said they would kill her family.    

'Some students would act out beheadings with their fingers across their necks,' she told the Daily Telegraph.

Earlier this year a jury was told a 12-year-old boy attended a Sydney protest holding a sign saying 'Behead all those who insult the prophet'.

He was one of two boys who pleaded not guilty to doing an act or acts between October 6 and October 12 in 2016 in Sydney in preparation for a terrorist act.


There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

Bob Brown is Australia's best known Greenie.  Bob doesn't know the meaning of compromise or moderation when it comes to his causes.  One suspects that he has a genuinely paranoid belief in global warming

Today’s IPCC report is mealy mouthed and dangerous because it fails to tackle the world’s political delinquents like Australia, Bob Brown said today.

“Governments like Australia’s Morrison government will feel relieved that this stodgy panel of scientific conservatives has flagged that there may be more time than previously thought to take the drastic action required to turn around global heating. It is a mistake to give politicians subservient to the fossil fuel industry the message that things aren’t as bad as was thought, especially as the real impacts of global heating - coral death, cyclonic storms, bushfires, droughts, glacial melting, super-heated cities - is so obviously getting worse.”

As NATURE reports today: In the meantime, the newer and larger carbon budget could send the wrong message to policymakers, says Oliver Geden, a social scientist and visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany. He fears that the IPCC report undersells the difficulty of achieving the 1.5 °C goal. “It’s always five minutes to midnight, and that is highly problematic,” he says. “Policymakers get used to it, and they think there’s always a way out.”

“The global heating emergency is upon us and the IPCC is sending the wrong signal to assuage political fire. In the lifetimes of our children the blame for the massive cost of this failure, in terms of dollars and security, will be sheeted home not just to the fossil fuel industry but to powerful groups like the IPCC who hedged their bets,” Brown said.

Media release from Jenny Weber [] of the Bob Brown organization

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

An atheist manifesto

I put up here a great deal in support of Christians and Christian causes but since I am myself an extreme atheist in the manner of analytical philosophers like Rudolf Carnap, it seems only reasonable that I present an atheist POV occasionally.  None of the difficulties for theism presented below will disdturb committed Christians but they deserve to be presented.

It always amuses me that both Christians and atheists consider one another to be totally unreasonable.  They both have a point. Atheists consider it unreasonanble to believe in an undetectable object and Christians believe it unreasonable to believe the vast complexity around us happened by chance.  Partly for that reason I never argue for or against belief in God, Thor, Zeus or whoever he is

I do however believe in the Devil.  I think Islam is ample proof of his influence

The fact reported below that Australian young people are much more religious than their elders is certainly an interesting finding.  I suspect it reflects the uncertainties of the modern world -- where the Left have done a pretty good job of throwing all values into question.  The existence of God is much better argued for than most traditional beliefs are so young people cling on to the only firm anchor they can find.  And they find in Christianity a rich system of thinking and values that guides them well through life and its challenges.

I myself am profoundly grateful for my fundamentalist youth.  It was much more helpful to me than believing in the absurd Leftist gospel that "There is no such thing as Right and Wrong".  How can they expect anyone to draw philosophical nourishment from such an etiolated body of thought?

I am still mostly guided in my life by Christian principles.  They work for me.  I even "take a little wine for my stomach's sake" from time to time (1 Timothy 5:23)

The promise of an afterlife – to meet departed family and friends – appeals to many, but especially younger Australians. Are private religious schools playing a part? And why do they dismiss the evidence of physics, asks Brian Morris.

Against all odds, it seems the concept of going to heaven holds far greater significance for the young than for those who are closer – numerically – to death! We need to confront ‘the D word’ itself, but let’s first get a handle on why the idea of paradise has gripped contemporary youth – more so than pensioners.

A national Essential poll shows 40% of all Australians believe in heaven. But the crucial figure is that a staggering 51% of those aged 18-34 hold such a belief! This compares to just 29% of the public who are over 55 years old. The young are almost twice as fixated with an afterlife than those closer to pension age! Why is that?

Is it insecurity or religiosity? One suggestion points to the fact that 40% of secondary students now attend private religious schools – a rate far higher than all other Western nations. There has been an exponential growth in government funding for private Catholic and Anglican schools since the 1960s – from a base of almost zero.

Others suggest that a similar rise in Special Religious Instruction (SRI) and chaplains in public schools has led to the Christianisation of education across the nation. These government-funded programs are run by evangelical Christian organisations in each state – with Catholic and Anglican private schools proselytising their own religions. And do millennials then stay at home too long, with a childhood faith, instead of getting out into the real world?

Since colonisation, Christianity instilled belief in an afterlife. It’s reflected on a daily basis in mainstream media, in film and on television – and in our obsession with sport. No game passes without players pointing skyward when scoring a goal, or honouring a deceased team or family member with hands reaching towards heaven.

But the biggest problem is that we don’t talk about death!

Society needs to get over this end-of-life taboo – to discuss and challenge the sugar-coated religious myth that claims we will all meet up with our loved ones (and pets) when we die and go to heaven. Before confronting the concrete scientific evidence (below) – and how we can better handle the emotional aspects of death – just dwell on this thought for one moment.

Isn’t paradise already just a little crowded? Think about who those you would meet – not only the entire cohort of your departed relatives, your friends and ancestors – but all the people you have detested; and those who gave you so much grief during your lifetime.

Then there’s the rest – every human who died! Research shows that, by 2050, an estimated 113 billion people will have lived and died on planet Earth; so heaven is already a seething mass of ‘souls’. For eternity!

The average punter has great difficulty conceptualising ‘eternity’. Most can’t even grasp the fact of our universe being 13.8 billion years old – or Earth a mere 4.5 billion. The concept is starkly illustrated in a fascinating book, A History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters. While fictional, it focuses the mind on a serious problem with infinity.

Chapter 10 sees our hero arrive in heaven, choosing to spend all his time eating luxurious food, having endless sex, and playing golf. After several thousand years he’s sick of food and sex, and on each heavenly golf course he hits holes-in-one on every par 3. He pleads to be released from this endless “perfect existence” and asks if others finally yearn to be free; to actually “die”. With a short pause for effect, the answer was plain. “Everyone!”

Books on near-death experiences, and visits to heaven, are legion. A recent best seller was Proof of Heaven by Dr Eben Alexander – a neurosurgeon, no less. Alexander sold more than 2 million copies before his claims were debunked. Among those who contested his story was Professor Sean Carroll, a particle physicist and high-profile science communicator. Carroll said there could only be two possibilities for Alexander’s spiritual encounter:

(1) Either some ill-defined metaphysical substance, not subject to the known laws of physics, interacted with the atoms of his brain in ways that have eluded every controlled experiment ever performed in the history of science; or

(2) People hallucinate when they are nearly dead.

Professor Carroll’s detailed explanation of Physics and Immortality spells out precisely why an immaterial ‘soul’ does not exist.

Carroll worked with the team that discovered the Higgs Boson at Geneva’s Large Hadron Collider. He could not be more explicit;

“If there are other waves, particles or forces sufficient to externally influence the brain, then we would know about them … Within Quantum Field Theory, there can’t be a new collection of ‘spirit particles’ and ‘spirit forces’ that interact with our regular atoms, because we would have detected them in existing experiments… You would have to demonstrate evidence of a completely new realm of reality, obeying very different rules than everything we know about physics.”

The 3 links above are needed to fully understand why there is no ‘soul’. But science does not devalue the need for compassion and empathy in the face of raw emotions that come with our personal experiences of death. It is necessary to face up to reality – but there are alternatives to religion in coping with end of life crises.

Discussing death openly and honestly – and publicly through the media – is a first step in helping to ease the extreme distress that many suffer with their own fear of death.

The ‘Golden Age of Athens’ pre-dates Christianity by four centuries – it led to a crucial period of new philosophical thought about life and death, about government and democracy, and how ordinary people could live a more fulfilled and contented life.

The philosophical principles of stoicism remain popular today. It’s based on three central themes. ‘Perception’, how we choose to view events; ‘Action’, how we deal with events we can control (and those we can’t); and then there’s ‘Will’ – training ourselves to deal honestly and ethically with events in our own lives. Following the full regime of stoicism may seem daunting; but after filtering the basic principles it becomes somewhat easier to apply.

The stoic approach to dealing with death – of family, friends, or oneself – is particularly relevant. Initially, it may appear morbid to periodically remind ourselves of one’s mortality. But if we consider this approach to death deeply enough, we soon come to realise the benefits of a greatly improved mental state.

The stark alternative for most people is to ignore the inevitable, and to be completely consumed by grief when family or friends die unexpectedly. Religion holds its privileged status based on fear – fear of not believing in God, fear of the unknown, and especially the fear of death. It’s a cruel deception that society needs to overcome.

By sugar-coating mortality with the myth of everlasting heaven, religion simply deprives us all of the ways and means to better cope with the end of life. While stoicism may not be the complete solution for all, it is clear that the basic principles of ‘philosophical ethics’ – honesty, reason, compassion, and love – would be a far better alternative than teaching schoolchildren obedience to God and religious ritual.

Future generations would avoid the trap of today’s millennials who continue to shun science and instead cling to religious concepts of an afterlife.

A ‘soul’ that miraculously ascends to heaven, only to re-unite with 113 billion other souls – for the whole of eternity! Just like our golfing hero, that sounds more like purgatory!


Labor mulls backing Morrison's business tax cuts

Labor is considering supporting the Morrison government's plan to fast track tax cuts for small and medium-sized businesses, boosting hopes legislation could pass parliament next week.

Under the plan, companies with annual turnovers of less than $50 million will have their tax rate cut to 26 per cent in 2020/21, then 25 per cent the following year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is confident of winning support for the plan, which would bring forward the cuts by five years at a cost of $3.2 billion.

"I'm going to legislate it next week, because small and family businesses deserve to have the support of this plan," he told the Seven Network on Thursday.

Labor leader Bill Shorten isn't ruling out supporting the proposal. "We will keep an open mind on this question as we examine the numbers, but the other criteria we have is that our first priority is to properly fund our schools, to properly fund our hospitals," he told reporters in Brisbane.

Businesses turning over up to $50 million had their tax cut from 30 to 27.5 per cent last year.

The government had initially planned to implement further rounds of tax cuts in 2024/25 and 2025/26, but now wants to fast-track the plan.

Mr Morrison believes key crossbench senators who rejected the coalition's plans to slash tax for big businesses in August will back the step. "Why would the Senate want to stand in the way of tax cuts for small, and medium-sized businesses? They voted for them before and they voted for them for the right reasons," he told the Nine Network.

The prime minister said the change won't affect the government's plan to return the budget to balance by 2019/20, followed by a more hefty the surplus the following year.

Mr Morrison is using the tax cut plan to highlight a policy difference with Labor ahead of the next election.  "It's a pretty clear contrast," he told ABC Radio.  "Labor's five point plan is tax, tax, tax, tax and tax."

The government claims the tax relief will benefit more than three million small and medium-sized businesses.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen is worried about the total cost to the budget. "They are so desperate to throw cash at issues, whether it be small business tax cuts or other issues for their political purposes that they have thrown out their own budget rules," he said.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson said the move would be a major boost for small businesses.


Builders Welcome Fast Tracking of Small business Tax Relief

More than 370,000 building businesses will benefit from the Government’s decision to fast track tax relief for SMEs.

“This is great news for builders, including the many who are sole traders, and the economy,” Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

 “We have more small businesses in building and construction than any other sector of the economy and this is a heartland issue for Master Builders. We have been very direct in calling for greater tax relief for these businesses and the Government’s move is absolutely the right thing,” she said.

“Bringing forward small business tax relief for SME builders will motivate them to invest more in their businesses including plant and equipment and training, engage more tradies and train more apprentices,” Denita Wawn said.

“SME tax relief is a no-brainer which will be strongly supported by small builders and tradies around the country. We call on everyone in the Parliament to back the legislation when it’s introduced,” Denita Wawn said.

Media release

Morrison returns serve on energy 'anarchy'

Claims Australia's energy policy has descended into anarchy are rubbish, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.

Scott Morrison has dismissed a stinging critique of Australia's energy policy, saying claims of "anarchy" by the architect of the government's dumped plan are rubbish.

Energy Security Board chair Kerry Schott on Wednesday mourned the death of the National Energy Guarantee, which was abandoned when Malcolm Turnbull was knifed as prime minister.

But the current prime minister gave the short shrift to her policy grief, bluntly rejecting the idea the government had lost its way on energy.

"I don't agree with that at all. I think that's rubbish," Mr Morrison told 3AW on Thursday.

Dr Schott told a conference she was still going through the stages of grief over the government's one-time signature energy plan, but was yet to leave anger.

"I characterise the general state of affairs right now as anarchy," she said.

Mr Morrison insists the government is still pursuing a reliability guarantee with state and territory governments, a feature of the NEG.

"What is necessary is that we need to get more reliability into the national energy market which covers the east coast of Australia," he said.

He dismissed suggestions there was uncertainty about the government's emission reduction commitments.

"Everybody knows what they are and we're meeting them."


South Australian Education Department Told Primary School Not To Celebrate Christmas

This would have been under the previous Labor government.  The new conservative government has other ideas

An Australian primary school was told by its education department not to celebrate Christmas for the benefit of non-Christian students.

Dr Darryl Cross revealed details of a conversation he had with a teacher at the concerned school:

    “What they said was for me somewhat astounding,” Dr Cross said on Tuesday. “They weren’t looking forward to this term because they weren’t allowed to sing Christmas carols or get into the spirit of Christmas... because there were certain children in the class who weren’t of the Christian faith… therefore they weren’t allowed to celebrate Christmas at all through the school because it was regarded as a pagan festival…”

    “From what I can work out it was a departmental directive. I understood from the conversation that it didn’t come just from the school, that it was in fact a departmental directive…

    “We seem to be giving away the very nature of our culture, the very root of our society by not celebrating our traditional roots in this way. I think that’s a blight on our society…

    “I think we’re losing our culture, we’re losing our valuable traditions, and I think that’s a serious blight on our whole community and where it’s headed.”

Leon Byner said he knew the name of the school but would not reveal it out of consideration for the report’s source.

A statement regarding the claims from SA Education Minister John Gardner read:

    “I’ve always argued that it should be a decision for local school communities how they celebrate Christmas, but to remove all ambiguity our proposed Education Bill, which is currently in the parliament, explicitly states that Christmas can be celebrated, Christmas carols sung etc.

    “I believe Labor will support that aspect of the bill which means it will become part of the new Education Act.”


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