Tuesday, October 21, 2014
African brutes traumatize SA police
Isn't it wonderful how many "refugees" we let into Australia?
A POLICE officer who was stabbed so forcefully that the knife tip had to be surgically removed after an unprovoked attack by three men will likely quit the force, a court had heard.
Yohana Nyawenda, 21, Patrick Nyandwi, 22, both of Davoren Park and Paul Kabura, 26, of Parafield Gardens, have all pleaded guilty to multiple aggravated counts of causing harm with intent over the incident in September 2013.
The District Court today heard that Nyandwi was assaulting his partner, who had a newborn strapped to her back, when neighbours approached and tried to calm him down.
Prosecutor Kelly Smith said that instead of backing off, the men then assaulted a male neighbour by punching him several times in the face and twisting his testicles, causing him to be hospitalised, and then Nyandwi punched another female neighbour in the stomach.
She said that, when police officers Barry Purnell and Stephen Page arrived, Nyawenda got a knife from the house while the other men attacked.
“The knife used by the accused Yohana Nyawenda was thrust with enough force to cause the tip of the blade to break off while the blade was still inside officer Purnell’s cheek,” she said.
She said the blade would later need to be surgically removed from Constable Purnell’s face.
Ms Smith said both officers were also punched and bitten during the assault while Kabura tried to grab Constable Page’s gun from his holster.
In his victim impact statement read to the court today, Constable Purnell said he was still suffering from complications with his jaw over the attack and was advised by a doctor last week it was only going to get worse.
“The incident was over a year ago but my recollection is as clear as it was that night,” he said.
Constable Purnell said the ongoing trauma had forced him to consider abandoning his duties with SA Police and return to Ireland after immigrating to Australia in search of a better life.
The incident took place six months after Kieran David Cregan had doused another officer, Senior Constable Matthew Hill, and tried to set him alight at Camden.
Constable Purcell’s fiancee, Leone Magu, told the court she had became anxious whenever he went to work.
“I am nervous about staying in Australia as I fear everyday he leaves for work he will encounter the characters that he fought with on that night,” she said.
Constable Page, who was badly bitten during the assault while Kabura tried to take his gun, said he had undergone blood tests and had to wait more than three months to be told he had not contracted HIV or hepatitis.
His wife, Anita Page, told the court she now also fears her husband will be killed at work.
“I’m angry because those men thought it was OK to attack my husband for no reason,” she said.
“I ask myself everyday, what if he (Kabura) had been successful, what would he have done with that firearm?”
Lawyers for the men told the court their clients all suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from horrific childhoods in the African nation of Burundi.
The court heard that all three had seen family members murdered during brutal civil wars.
A psychologist report on Nyawenda tendered to the court said his past had left him vulnerable to “exaggerated and aggressive responses when he feels his family is being threatened”.
Judge Michael Boylan remanded the men in custody to be sentenced next week.
Big dam building programme
The Greenies will be livid
PLANS for the biggest dam-building and irrigation program in decades will be unveiled today in a major policy blueprint for the future of the nation’s agricultural sector that identifies 27 water projects for potential commonwealth investment.
The agricultural competitiveness green paper will outline a nation-building agenda that contemplates dam expansions, infrastructure development and greater access to ports.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce will declare the government is moving to reinvigorate the dam-building agenda, arguing that it must recapture the vision and purpose of the post-war Snowy Mountains Scheme.
“Water is wealth and stored water is a bank,’’ Mr Joyce will say. “Sometimes the biggest impediment to our nation returning to the vision and purpose that built the Snowy Mountains Scheme is ourselves ably assisted by the caveats of sacred invertebrates, amphibians and molluscs.
“Chaffey Dam (in NSW) was almost stopped by the booroolong frog, Nathan Dam (in Queensland) was stopped by the boggomoss snail, yet Lake Argyle (in Western Australia) created two RAMSAR wetlands that would prevent us getting rid of that dam, not that we want to.’’
The last major greenfields dam completed in Australia was the Wyarolong Dam in southeast Queensland, finished in 2011.
The pace of dam development has slowed significantly across the nation since the 1980s amid increasing opposition from environmentalists to new projects.
The green paper identifies six irrigation projects in Tasmania and Victoria that could be considered for federal government investment within a year.
Five of these are Tasmanian irrigation projects — Southern Highlands, Scottsdale, Circular Head, Swan Valley and North Esk — and the sixth is the southern pipeline project in the Macalister irrigation district in Victoria’s Gippsland.
Four projects — the Emu Swamp dam on the Severn River near Stanthorpe in Queensland, an expansion of the Nathan Dam on the Dawson River in Queensland, the Wellington Dam Revival Project in Western Australia and the Lindenow Valley Water Security Project on the Mitchell River in Victoria — are identified as potential candidates for federal funding, pending further investigation.
Another 17 projects are flagged as likely to be suitable for further consideration for assistance to accelerate feasibility studies, cost-benefit analysis or design.
These include the water infrastructure components of stage three of the Ord irrigation scheme in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Four projects in NSW have been identified, including an enlargement of the Lostock Dam in NSW’s Hunter Valley, Apsley Dam at Walcha, the Mole River Dam in northern NSW and Needles Gap on the central tablelands.
A string of major water projects have been identified in north Queensland: the Burdekin Falls Dam expansion; the Fitzroy Agricultural Corridor; the Mitchell River system; Nullinga Dam near Cairns; and Urannah Dam near Collinsville.
Further study is slated for a north Queensland irrigated agriculture strategy around the Flinders and Gilbert river catchments. In South Australia, upgrades to dams in the Clare Valley and the use of waste water in the northern Adelaide plains are under consideration.
While emphasising not every project will get federal funding or go ahead, Mr Joyce says the government’s dams program has already started. “In the last month we have started the construction of the Chaffey Dam upgrade (in NSW) and allocated $15.9 million for the continuation of the piping and capping of the Great Artesian bores,” he says.
Mr Joyce will say the nation must drive down transport costs to make the rural sector more effective and leverage the mining sector’s common interest in requiring water and the movement of bulk commodities. He will highlight the government’s $300m to start the inland rail line between Melbourne and Brisbane and say he hopes it is later extended to Gladstone.
“We must work with the mining industry to see the transport capital and water capital built that is in both our interests as bulk commodity producers and users,’’ he will tell the National Farmers Federation congress in Canberra today.
The green paper will argue that improving access to reliable water supplies and better managing existing water resources is essential for the continued growth of the agricultural sector.
Water resources in northern Australia are less developed than in the south, meaning opportunities exist for strategic developments to support the development of water-dependent industries. About 65 per cent of Australia’s run-off occurs in far north Australia and coastal Queensland, and only 6.8 per cent in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Declaring farming and “primary and overwhelming ownership” of farms by Australians to be a national good, Mr Joyce will argue that if the nation wants to increase its agricultural output, it must motivate and send the right signals to make people want to do that.
This will involve cheaper and more effective ways of getting products to market.
The paper will argue that while a market solution is preferable, monopolies and oligopolies must be closely monitored and a fair return to the landholder is essential to the future of the industry.
The paper will back the controversial “effects test’’ supported by the chairman of the government’s competition review, Ian Harper.
Mr Harper, in his interim review, backed an effects test that would prohibit business and trading conduct that would have the effect of substantially lessening competition.
The 27 water projects listed in the green paper were identified after Mr Joyce chaired a ministerial working group to identity how investment in water infrastructure, such as dams and groundwater storage, could be accelerated and to identify priorities for investment. Tony Abbott put dam building on the national agenda prior to the last election, at the height of the Queensland floods in 2011.
The green paper will argue that government involvement in water infrastructure development should be directed to activities that are in the national interest, deliver net economic and social benefits, and broader public benefits. But given the states and territories have primary responsibility for water resources, strong state government support for a project is also a prerequisite.
Private views create no public harm
THE Barry Spurr affair is terrifying in the shoddy treatment of Spurr; in what it says about our universities; and in the lack of outrage that either has evoked.
What is certain is that there was a gross invasion of Spurr’s privacy. To that must be added the likelihood that his emails were obtained illegally and used when it was known, or should have been known, that that is how they had been obtained.
Moreover, that use was by a publication, New Matilda, that had only recently committed the same offence; and whose journalists hypocritically denounced the wrongdoing at the News of the World and, since then, have attacked the government’s metadata proposals, with all their checks and balances, as an assault on privacy.
Of course, one expects nothing better from Wendy Bacon, who demands a moral right to invade the private emails of others without providing public access to her own. But it is disappointing that Bill Shorten, who repeatedly invoked the presumption of innocence to shield Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper, failed to show the same concern for Spurr.
And it is a scandal that the University of Sydney has suspended Spurr despite there being no claim, much less evidence, that his teaching, supervision and research have been anything but exemplary.
To make matters worse, the university has set aside Spurr’s explanation that the emails were parodies without according Spurr the prior opportunity to have that explanation tested. Whatever one may think of his emails, that explanation is scarcely implausible: parodies, satires and burlesques, often in poor taste, have peppered the correspondence of literary figures since time immemorial.
Indeed, some of the English language’s earliest comedies were private communications making fun of religious services in terms then considered blasphemous. And one does not need to dig deep in our language’s treasure chest to savour such politically incorrect gems as Paul Dehm’s parody of Robert Herrick (‘‘Whereas in jeans my Julia crams/her vasty hips and … diaphragms’’); Cyril Connolly dispatching James Bond in drag to seduce General Apraxin (‘‘one of those’’, warns M, listing the general’s hobbies as nerve gas, germ warfare and sodomy); or Alan Bennett’s brilliant spoof of James Buchan (in which Hannay decries the possibility of ‘‘a divorced woman on the throne of the house of Windsor’’ as a ‘‘feather in the cap of that bunch of rootless intellectuals, Jews and pederasts who call themselves the Labour Party’’).
It scarcely takes much imagination to think a professor of poetics might similarly revel in using off-colour, if not frankly offensive, language in intimate communication. But assume Spurr’s claim is a sham; that far from being banter between old friends, the emails reflected his innermost views. So long as those views do not intrude on the way he exercises his academic responsibilities, they are no more relevant to his role than the fact that TS Elliot (on whom Spurr is a world authority) was an anti-Semite.
To believe otherwise is to discard the distinction between vice and crime that is at the heart of a free society. Aquinas, although no liberal, put it well when he argued that rather than forcing men to be virtuous, laws exist to enforce the rules of justice; they should therefore not condemn mere vice but conduct ‘‘without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained’’.
Locke then made that distinction central to the philosophy of liberty, when he noted that ‘‘many things are sins which no man ever said were to be punished’’, for while objectionable, they were neither ‘‘prejudicial to other men’s rights, nor break the public peace’’. And Adam Smith, in terms familiar to JS Mill, emphasised that it was therefore crucial to ‘‘carefully distinguish what is only blamable from what force may be employed to punish or prevent’’.
In other words, Spurr is entitled to his private vices, even if reprehensible, so long as they do not inflict public harms. Instead, the real question is how Australia’s oldest university could believe otherwise.
At the most immediate level, the answer lies in what Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a great scholar and long-time Democratic senator for New York, diagnosed as the ‘‘authoritarian Left’’ spreading throughout academe. Ignorant, intolerant and incapable of contesting ideas, its only weapon is the ad hominem attack.
Sydney’s conduct, coming after the ANU’s witch-hunt against fossil fuels, is a disturbing sign of how far the spread Moynihan feared has gone. The university’s support of Jake Lynch’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, whose anti-Zionism verges on anti-Semitism, only leavens with hypocrisy its disregard for justice.
But there are also deeper forces at work. Historically, intellectual elites had every interest in freedom of expression: no matter how strongly they favoured regulating other markets, they gained from freedom in their own. Now, reduced to mere wards of the state, they clamour for restrictions on competition that enforce conformity, protect mediocrity and entrench their claim on the public purse. And they find in the similarly placed ABC, as well as in publications such as New Matilda, plenty of fellow travellers to speak on their behalf.
Set against that milieu, Spurr stood no chance. By collaborating in the Abbott government’s review of the national curriculum he signed his own death warrant. From that moment on, it was only a matter of time before he paid the price.
None of that is to give Spurr the seal of approval. He may, for all I know, hold beliefs I find abhorrent. But universities need scholars, not saints; and if integrity, in Rawls’s words, means ‘‘defending the principles of morality even when to one’s disadvantage’’, his treatment is not merely a shame: it is a disgrace.
Reversing it should be an obligation, as well as a priority.
Union corruption: Do no work, still get paid
WHISTLEBLOWER Kathy Jackson made a secret deal with the now jailed fraudster Michael Williamson to pay $240,000 over two years to one of her union allies — with a requirement that the recipient of the money do no work.
Under the confidential arrangement, Jackson ally and friend Jamie Martorana agreed to resign from his position as assistant divisional secretary of the Health Services Union in October 2010.
For the next two years, however, he remained on the union’s payroll, with pay-as-you-go tax deducted from his gross weekly “wages” of $2307.69 as though he was still a regular full-time employee turning up for work.
Details of the arrangement have emerged in Federal Court proceedings as union opponents of Mr Martorana try to block his attempt to take over the HSU’s Victorian No 1 branch by challenging his eligibility to contest looming elections.
The 2010 deal for Mr Martorana is the latest and possibly most extraordinary of confidential financial arrangements uncovered during an investigation by lawyers for the HSU’s current leadership into a merger that year between Ms Jackson’s and Williamson’s union branches when they formed a joint entity called HSU East.
Along with other side-deals reached by Ms Jackson and Williamson around this time, it shows how tightknit the pair was in forging lucrative one-on-one arrangements for allies and friends before Ms Jackson turned on Williamson, now serving five years in jail after pleading guilty to large-scale fraud.
It appears Ms Jackson and Williamson made these arrangements — using union funds — without authority from other officials. They remained confidential until later exposed.
Ms Jackson has been praised as “heroic” by Tony Abbott and others for exposing Williamson, but the outspoken whistleblower is now battling allegations that she, too, misused large sums of HSU funds.
Earlier this month, HSU lawyers lodged a claim against Ms Jackson in the Federal Court for more than $660,000 that the union wants repaid after she allegedly used this amount from union credit cards, cash cheques and general accounts for personal expenses — but never repaid the money.
The $660,000 demand is on top of an existing court claim to recover $1 million that the union alleges Ms Jackson was not authorised to spend.
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Mr Martorana, who co-signed a deed of agreement with Ms Jackson and Williamson in October 2010 after “differences” arose about whether his position should continue — just five months after he started in his new role as assistant divisional secretary.
In return for receiving $240,000, Mr Martorana was required to not represent any member of the union for two years. Nor was he permitted to work for any entity competing with the HSU. His name appeared on weekly pay documents with union employees for a further two years — although he did not show up.
Mr Martorana was an assistant secretary of the HSU branch No 1 in Victoria in May 2010, then headed by Jackson-supporter Marco Bolano, when this branch merged with Ms Jackson’s and Williamson’s branches to become HSU East.
It appears Mr Martorana was a victim of the merger leaving too many officials competing for a smaller pool of senior positions — five months after serving as “assistant divisional secretary” of the now disbanded HSU East.
The Jackson-Williamson leadership duo did not offer Mr Martorana a redundancy — with a transparent termination, a different tax treatment and considerably less than two years’ pay, considering his short length of service — or simply secure his resignation. Instead, the leadership pair created the highly unusual $240,000 payment deal in which Mr Martorana received a salary for not showing up.
He was not available for comment yesterday but he has told others of his belief that the payment was fair in the circumstances of his departure from the HSU.
The Australian revealed in August that Ms Jackson signed another such deal with Williamson on March 3, 2010, to put Melbourne barrister and longtime friend David Langmead on a $150,000-a-year retainer as a legal adviser for eight years in the newly formed HSU East branch.
Under Mr Langmead’s retainer, which was paid monthly, he charged $2700 a day, and $385 an hour for legal advice. He was to bill the union for extra services if the annual sum exceeded $150,000. Mr Langmead, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, previously had a long association with Ms Jackson from 1996 to 2010 as a barrister retained for her branch.
His services included legal advice on a $250,000 payment to Ms Jackson’s HSU No 3 branch by the Peter MacCallum cancer hospital in Melbourne after a confidential settlement over workers’ backpay in late 2003.
Mr Langmead’s wife, Beth Jensen, another close Jackson friend, was used by Ms Jackson and Williamson as a consultant around the time of the union merger for a report that recommended big pay rises for them and other officials based on linking their salaries to the senior executive service of the NSW Public Service.
Another Jackson ally and friend, Rob Elliott, scored a $150,000-a-year consultancy deal with the HSU, signed by Ms Jackson and Williamson just a week before the Langmead deal. This arrangement was shorter than the Langmead agreement but similar.
The Australian reported late last month that Ms Jackson also collaborated with Williamson to “retrospectively authorise” the suspected misuse of union credit cards by now convicted former HSU official and federal Labor MP Craig Thomson in March 2008 — despite Ms Jackson later taking credit for ordering an exit audit of Thomson’s dealings.
Mr Martorana is a former hospital orderly whose late mother worked for Labor senator Stephen Conroy and whose stepfather, Peter Clelland, was a federal Labor MP.
The current HSU No 1 branch leadership team, headed by Bill Shorten ally Diana Asmar, is now challenging Mr Martorana’s eligibility to run in coming elections.
Palmer in real trouble
Two Chinese companies suing federal MP Clive Palmer have a genuine dispute against him, a judge says.
Subsidiaries of Chinese government-owned company CITIC Pacific are suing Mr Palmer and his company Cosmo Developments over claims $12.167 million was misappropriated by the MP's company Mineralogy.
CITIC Pacific subsidiaries Sino Iron and Korean Steel claim money deposited in an administrative fund and intended for the day-to-day running costs of a West Australian port was redirected to Cosmo Developments ($10 million) and Brisbane advertising firm Media Circus Network ($2.167 million).
Lawyers for Mr Palmer applied to strike out or permanently stay the Chinese companies' claim for compensation, claiming their wasn't reasonable grounds for the legal action.
But Justice David Jackson on Monday dismissed the application, meaning the matter will proceed to a three-day trial beginning on November 26.
Justice Jackson said one of the arguments used in the application was that the case was brought on a "feigned issue" and was really about "showing up" the defendants.
However, in his written judgment published on Monday, Justice Jackson rejected the argument.
"In my view, there is nothing fictitious about the causes of action pleaded in the claim and the statement of claim filed by the plaintiffs in the present case," he wrote.
The trial will determine whether payments made to Cosmo Developments and Media Circus Network formed a breach of trust and whether CITIC Pacific's subsidiaries are owed compensation.
A CITIC spokesman said on Monday: "We welcome the court's decision and now look forward to having this matter progress to trial."
Monday, October 20, 2014
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is bewailing the absent sense of humour on the Left
Offensive emails investigated by University of Sydney
The emails contained a wide variety of very offensive comments so the claim that they were jocular rings hollow. They probably give an insight into what our Leftist academics really think
A University of Sydney academic involved in the national curriculum review, Barry Spurr, has reportedly described Prime Minister Tony Abbott an "abo-lover" in an exchange of emails.
"Abo Lover Abbott and [Australian of the Year] Adam Goodes are Siamese Twins and will have to be surgically separated," Professor Spurr wrote in an email published on the New Matilda website.
The university said an investigation into the report was under way.
In a series of different email exchanges, he used the terms "Mussies, Chinky-Poos, bogans and fatsoes", labelled South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu a "witch doctor" and the late South African president Nelson Mandela a "Darkie", according to the website.
Professor Spurr was employed by the independent review into the national curriculum, commissioned by the federal government, as a specialist consultant to review the English curriculum.
In correspondence seen by Fairfax Media, Professor Spurr said the emails were part of a longstanding joke with another person.
"These statements are not reflections of my views or his," he said. "The comments that you refer to are largely to one recipient with whom I have had a whimsical linguistic game for many years of trying to outdo one another in extreme statements." They were part of a game "that mocked extreme language", he said.
Professor Spurr said the emails did not reflect his personal views or his professional judgment of Aboriginal literature, which is part of his role as a consultant to the national curriculum review.
"My lawyer informs me that accessing my email is 'a criminal offence' and the university's security service is currently looking into the matter," Professor Spurr told the website.
During one conversation, he called Mr Abbott "gutless and hypocritical", and condemned Mr Abbott's chief-of-staff Peta Credlin for arranging for an "Abo" singer to perform at a ceremony at Uluru for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne condemned the comments.
"The minister utterly rejects and finds repugnant the denigration of any minority on the basis of their sex, race, sexual orientation or beliefs," a spokesman said.
"The appointment was not made by the government. The minister and his office had no input into the selection of any subject expert. Professor Spurr's alleged private emails are a matter for him."
In a statement, the University of Sydney said it was investigating the "offensive emails" to see if "any breaches of the code of conduct" had occurred.
"The university takes the allegations very seriously ... Racist, sexist or offensive language is not tolerated at the University of Sydney."
Qld.: Leftist lies outed
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has been referred to the parliamentary Ethics Committee over her claims of "massive budget cuts" in education and that teachers were losing their jobs.
Ms Palaszczuk made the claims in her budget reply speech. Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek was quick to write to Speaker Fiona Simpson accusing Ms Palszczuk of "intentionally misleading the House".
Ms Simpson said Mr Langbroek disputed both claims and provided "evidence that the budget for education has actually increased in the last two budgets and that no teacher has lost their job because of budget decisions made by the government".
"I sought further information, and in correspondence received on 8 July 2014 the Leader of the Opposition provided further information regarding her statements," Ms Simpson said.
"In relation to the first issue of alleged budget cuts, the Leader of the Opposition accepts that the budget for education has increased in total in the last two budgets but contends that the make-up of funding sources which constitute the total budget support her statement.
"As I have stated in previous rulings, the nature of political debate is that members engage in argument by discussing opposing viewpoints or different opinions – often times using different statistics or methods of calculation. Of course, this does not preclude the question of whether in using different methods of calculation a member was deliberately misleading the House.
Ms Simpson said Ms Palaszczuk had cited various answers to questions on notice to support her claim teachers were losing their jobs because of the budgets.
"The claim that teachers have lost their jobs through the budgets referred to is a very specific and serious claim however the information provided to me by the Leader of the Opposition does not necessarily support the statements made," Ms Simpson said.
"If the assumption cannot reasonably be made from the material it leaves open the issue of intent.
"I remind all Members that, if a matter of privilege is raised regarding their statements, it would help if the Member chose to provide in the House a clarification or apology at the earliest opportunity. It has been refreshing to see this occur in this session of Parliament, and I expect the hardworking members of the Ethics committee probably find it equally refreshing."
But as Ms Palaszczuk had not provided either clarification or an apology, the matter was referred to the committee.
"Referral to the ethics committee should not be interpreted as a determination of guilt, but on this matter, in the absence of sufficient explanation and with a prima facie matter to be investigated; this stands referred to the Ethics Committee," Ms Simpson said.
Journalism schools need practical focus
THERE can’t be many professional or vocational fields of study where teachers spend a disproportionate time bucketing the occupation for which they are supposedly preparing students.
Yet media-bashing is the norm in Australian media and journalism courses.
The sustained and highly critical emphasis on the news media’s failings in performance, ethics, ownership structure and prospects seems the key message of much education in mass communication.
Students have complained to me of never hearing a positive thing said about journalism from their teachers, who are often embittered from their own limited experience in newsrooms.
The Murdoch press is chief villain in the scenario constructed within the broader media academic community, supposedly responsible for forming public opinion and deciding who will govern the country.
The manifest achievements of journalism — constant monitoring of political, social and economic events and exposures of corruption and incompetence — seem little mentioned, or not to the extent that students receive professional formation and walk proud from journalism schools as they do from other professional schools.
The values shared by an earlier generation of journalism educators and brought with them from the industry — old chestnuts such as freedom of the press and the right to know — often seem to have been ditched in favour of an activist, opinionated form of journalism, more often than not dovetailing with a left-liberal view of the world.
Many journalism and media educators share a cluster of left-leaning values — boatpeople are all honest refugees deserving welcome and shelter, doubts may never be expressed about human-made global warming or the weakness of government action, the Abbott government can do nothing right — and are happy to express these on public forums and in classrooms.
In earlier generations of journalism education the teaching staff seemed more representative of the wider community in their values and far less inclined to express their political views, a convention they shared with working journalists.
Social media has changed all that, amplifying educators’ personal views to a wide audience, putting them on the public record and leaving students in no doubt as to their teachers’ ideologies. Journalists, too, are far more ready to tell the world their views.
Among those who’ve enrolled in our small independent journalism college, Jschool, in Brisbane, are disenchanted university students and graduates looking for an education in the basics, free from bias or incomprehensible theory.
From such refugees and from many dozens of students around the country I have heard constant grumbles about the arcane theoretical focus of their courses, the negativity towards the media and the political biases of some lecturers.
One thing I’ve never heard is a complaint about conservative bias in a journalism or media studies course.
Part of the problem is the confusion surrounding the academic location of journalism departments — generally a small section of a communications or media studies school. This contrasts with the US tradition of stand-alone journalism schools or departments where journalism is the dominant partner. In Australia, teachers with significant journalism experience tend to be at the bottom of the hierarchy, senior positions taken by researchers and theoreticians who often lack empathy for or understanding of journalism.
The workplace structure for academics rewards research, no matter how mindless, and research designed to expose weaknesses in media performance is encouraged. While in other vocational disciplines much of the research effort goes into improving professional practice, there is little of this in current journalism research.
Journalism at universities has suffered from a lack of confidence in the importance and vital role of journalism. Embedded among non-journalism academics whose traditional disdain for popular news media is a job requirement, journalism teachers have too readily rolled over and put their energies into surviving within academic hierarchies rather than being defenders of the press.
Universities were reluctant to enter journalism education and were certainly not prodded into doing so by the media industry. Ultimately, it was the marketability of media courses that brought most of the country’s institutions on board, despite the narrow career prospects for graduates.
But things have been better. In the “glory days” of journalism education at the University of Queensland in the 1990s there were more than a dozen full-time academic staff, all of them former journalists, including three editors, plus an army of part-time tutors drawn from the industry. They produced books, journals, a regular newspaper and electronic news service, and were part of the wider journalism community.
Their relations with the industry were often testy, especially when lecturers criticised media performance. But there was a two-way flow — editors and other senior journalists were members of advisory boards and gave talks to students and staff, while lecturers were invited to write columns on media performance, including election coverage, by the very media being criticised, such as The Courier-Mail and The Australian.
That successful and nationally respected department (disclaimer: I was its head!) was merged against student and industry protests into a vacuous communication school and the journalism degree faces extinction.
Earlier forms of journalism education were admittedly too “craft”-oriented. Students at tertiary level need, in parallel with skills development, understanding of the wider media environment, roles and structures, in addition to knowledge of law and politics.
Unfortunately, the small size of journalism staffs at universities around Australia make them prey to absorption into burgeoning media departments that propagate no end of theories rooted in the Marxist-oriented field of cultural studies.
Depending on the energy of their teachers, some students do get a good deal and have produced excellent stories, but far too many complain they do very little journalism in their programs.
I’ve been astonished to speak to students from eminent institutions who are lucky to write more than one or two news stories in a semester or who have never been to a court, council or parliament as part of their course requirements, training that was once considered basic.
At Jschool we’ve returned to these basics, delivered online, stressing constant news gathering and story writing by students all over Australia.
The industry shares the blame in not pushing for a central involvement in the development and monitoring of university journalism courses, which is the norm for all established professional disciplines.
There is plenty to be criticised in the practice of daily journalism, and educators have a role in this, but not at the expense of stressing the positives.
Educators often accuse journalists of being unable to take criticism, of being too defensive and unwilling to examine the basis of complaints. Perhaps educators themselves are as guilty of reacting defensively to criticism.
Missing in much contemporary teaching of journalism is extolling of the achievements and contribution of journalism.
In the past few months Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail has been running a fascinating series, “Journalism Matters”, highlighting the courage and achievements of news gatherers. These are inspiring stories, from former Time and CNN correspondent Michael Ware’s touching tribute to TV cameraman Harry Burton, ruthlessly murdered in Afghanistan, to the revelation by the ABC’s Sally Sara of the personal impact of war reporting; Greg Chamberlin’s recounting of Phil Dickie’s relentless gumshoe work in exposing organised crime and corruption in Queensland, resulting in the jailing of ministers and the police commissioner; a brother’s heartfelt appreciation of the bravery of jailed correspondent Peter Greste; and Trent Dalton’s piece on the role of newspapers in letting sexual abuse victims get a measure of justice and closure.
Let there be no mistake. Democracy cannot function without journalism. It is a pity more journalism students and their teachers don’t know this
Controversial Masjid Al Noor mosque plans $4.5 million Granville school
GRANVILLE’S Masjid Al Noor mosque — which has links to the murdered Jabhat al-Nusra jihadists Yusuf Ali and Amira Karroum — has revealed plans to build an Islamic school.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the mosque’s management committee last month made a $4.5 million offer to buy an adjacent 6050sq m property on Ferndell St.
The original 7063sq m mosque site was bought by Bukhari House Association Incorporated in 2010 for $3.5 million.
The Granville mosque is one of the fastest growing in southwest Sydney, attracting the most number of converts, according to a joint report by the University of Western Sydney and Charles Sturt University.
Masjid Al Noor’s spiritual leader Sheikh Omar El-Banna — who spoke at the now defunct Al-Risalah centre — knew Ali before he left for Syria, where he and his wife were killed in a bloody turf war with Islamic State terrorists. A memorial service for the couple was held at the Granville mosque.
Through the Masjid Al Noor Facebook page, worshippers were told about the proposed purchase and plans for a school, and asked for help to raise $500,000 for a deposit: “Our intention is to establish a Muslim school there. The total price of the property is $4.5 mil.” A Masjid Al Noor Facebook follower expressed concern about the school proposal, citing traffic congestion on Ferndell St and surrounding roads.
When approached for comment yesterday, a mosque spokesman would not comment about the property deal or proposed school.
The owner of the property in question would also not comment.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
‘Degrees in activism’ put brake on growth
AUSTRALIA’S largest resources companies have warned green activists campaigning for an end to fossil fuels are destroying jobs and fast becoming one of the greatest challenges to growth.
Andrew Smith, the chairman of the Australian arm of Anglo-Dutch company Shell, yesterday led the debate against what he labelled university students with “degrees in activism”, arguing that they were spreading misinformation and manipulating communities to slow the pace of development.
“Challenging decisions will face more effective campaigns of public outrage, some of it based on confected outrage whipped up by university graduates armed with degrees in activism,” Mr Smith said. “But we cannot allow these dynamics to halt Australian progress.”
Activism courses are being taught in legal, politics and humanities departments at several universities and are often focused on political theory and understanding the role of activism in democracy.
Aidan Ricketts, a law lecturer at Southern Cross University in Lismore, runs a course named Public Interest Advocacy. Its blurb says it provides “skills for successfully advocating for public interest concerns”.
Mr Ricketts described it as an “advanced form of citizenship education”. The lecturer, himself an activist against the use of coal-seam gas, said it was “nonsense” to suggest that universities were preparing students to confect outrage and manipulate information.
“That is a cheap swipe at other people’s opinion’s that Shell don’t agree with,” Mr Ricketts said.
Rio Tinto’s energy chief executive, Harry Kenyon-Slaney, knows the impact activists can have on projects, after his company’s expansion of its Warkworth coalmine in NSW was halted by opposition groups, putting 1300 jobs at risk.
“This is a mine that has been part of the Hunter Valley community for 30 years and provides work for 1300 people, but we’ve spent five years so far trying to secure its future in the face of opposition from activist groups such as The Australia Institute,” Mr Kenyon-Slaney said.
“People at the extreme end of the debate who would like to see all coal exports cease are willing not only to destroy jobs here in Australia, but also the social and economic development that cheap and abundant energy brings around the world.”
Whitehaven Coal has been a constant target of green activists determined to frustrate the development of its Maules Creek coalmine in NSW. Its chairman, Mark Vaile, former head of the Nationals party, said activists had zero accountability for their actions.
“The information the green activists put out is never tested,” Mr Vaile said.
The Australian National University has come under attack after its recent decision to divest its holdings in seven companies — including Santos, Newcrest Mining and Iluka Resources — because it said the companies had a poor record on environmental responsibility. “What is the next thing that the so-called ethical investors and university funds withdraw from?” Mr Vaile said. “Are they now, if they stick to their principles, going to withdraw from all investment in the agricultural industries in Australia, as they are also significant emitters of greenhouse gases?”
Mr Vaile, who recently returned from South Korea, said Australia was now viewed with concern as an investment destination because of the uncertainty in terms of the timing of projects.
“Prospective investors are looking at the fact that approved projects are being challenged in court by some organisation who are unaccountable,” he said.
“We have the government promoting Australia as an investment destination, negotiating FTAs, yet at a state level you have regulations that can be used and abused by green activists.”
Ahri Tallon, a former student of Mr Ricketts, said that in addition to legal skills the course had taught him how to organise meetings and demonstrations and engage with the media.
“Real Australian progress is an active and participatory democracy where decisions are transparent, accountable and debated,” he said.
The value of economic education
I'm a firm believer in the value of economic education. An understanding of incentives, opportunity costs, supply and demand are as essential for making sense of the world as maps, history and periodic tables.
So I was alarmed when I read this week that economics education is not up to scratch. Griffith University's Professor Tony Makin and lecturer Alex Robson, reviewed the economics curriculum concluding the course needs to be re-written from scratch.
The author of the curriculum, Associate Professor Alex Millmow, of Federation University, responded that, "We didn't want to scare away primary school teachers. It's not an economics course".
The current course was introduced by former Minister for School Education Peter Garrett for years 5 to 8 or kids of around 10 to 14 years to: "equip the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and businesspeople to continue to grow the Australian economy as well as take advantage of the global business opportunities the Asian Century will bring."
Which means the author had to create a curriculum that could be taught by non-economists to children under 14 but nonetheless meet expectations that it be a serious preparation for becoming young entrepreneurs leading the country in a mighty trade incursion into Asia. No wonder the bloke who wrote it feels unfairly assessed. The job he was given amounted to spinning straw into gold.
CIS research fellow Dr Jennifer Buckingham has noted what is sometimes called the 'Peter effect' -coined for the plea of Saint Peter to the beggar that he could not give him money that he did not have. A teacher cannot teach what the teacher doesn't know.
The former government's enthusiasm to add yet another 'essential' component to the national curriculum has meant yet another case of the curriculum being reduced to the level at which teachers can teach it, rather than being elevated to the level at which students can profit from it.
Many children will benefit from an economic education. But if kids are going to become entrepreneurs and conquer the Asian Century, it needs to be the sort of economics Professor Makin would like to see taught. Rather than simplifying advanced subjects for small kids, we'd be better off teaching small kids to read and count properly so that in high school they are equipped to study any advanced course effectively.
Splitting their primary years between a growing number of poorly taught add-ons is putting at risk the literacy and numeracy education on which the rest of their lifelong learning depends.
ANU decision to sell fossil fuel company holdings not enough: students
An Australian National University (ANU) decision to sell off about $16 million worth of its investments in seven fossil fuel companies does not go far enough, a students' group says.
ANU said it would divesting itself of shares in Newcrest Mining, Iluka Resources, Oil Search and Santos, among other companies.
Vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young said it was important that the university did not invest in companies that are doing some form of social harm.
"Essentially the criteria which we look at looks at their environmental emissions and any social issues associated with them," he said.
"For instance it many look at their position on Indigenous affairs and also the governance."
It is wrong for ANU to continue to profit from these industries that are responsible for the wreckage of the planet.
But Louis Klee from the group ANU Fossil Free said while it was a big achievement for the university, the decision did not go far enough.
He said the ANU still had major holdings in BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum.
"It is wrong for ANU to continue to profit from these industries that are responsible for the wreckage of the planet," he said.
However, Professor Young, who us an environmental researcher, said there was nothing wrong with investing these companies.
"These are major Australian companies, they're resources companies," he said.
"Resources are a major part of the Australian economy that underpins our whole society.
"This is not a case of simply saying the university will not invest in resources companies. We do.
"In fact, it would be very difficult to structure a meaningful portfolio in Australia that didn't."
Professor Young said there should be an orderly transition from fossil fuels to alternative energies.
"The reality is that this is a process that is going to take decades to occur," he said.
The University introduced a socially responsible investment policy earlier this year.
Let them divest, but not with taxpayers cake
The response to the Australian National University's decision to divest itself of holdings in certain [fossil fuel] companies has been way out of proportion to the importance of the decision - and both sides of the debate are long on rhetoric and short on facts.
The argument has focused on whether the industries represented by the companies being divested are important for Australia's economy, especially the contributions from Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs and the Treasurer.
This argument is overdone. The ANU holds about $16 million in shares in the seven companies (disclosure: the managing director of one of the seven, Iluka Resources, is on the board of the CIS). That $16 million is about 1% of the university's total investment holdings, and the revenue from the entire portfolio was barely 5% of the university's total revenue.
The ANU's holdings represent less than 0.05% of the combined market capitalisation of those companies which approaches $40 billion.
These investments are not financially significant for the university or the companies, so the impact on the economy as a whole will almost certainly be negligible. Which makes the overreaction from politicians, up to and including the Prime Minister, puzzling. At a time when the government is trying to encourage greater financial independence among universities, it seems very odd to try and micromanage their investment decisions.
Unless the ANU's new strategy mentions an exciting new investment in magic beans, if it's not imposing greater costs on the taxpayers then it really shouldn't be the business of government.
The government's interest here is limited to protecting taxpayers by ensuring the ANU exercises due diligence and care with taxpayers' funds. In the absence of evidence that this investment policy will materially impact ANU's revenue the government should be cautious about interfering.
Divestment can be an expression of free speech. In fact it is one of the more valuable aspects of speech because people are a lot more honest with their money than they are with their slogans (as the failure of 'buy Australian' industry policy continually demonstrates).
The problem is when supposed social responsibility transfers costs to taxpayers. Too many non-government organisations and other rent-seekers want to have their public funded cake and eat their private progressive values too.
By all means, use your free speech to criticise industries you don't like and divest any shares you hold, but don't think this entitles you to extra taxpayer money if it leaves you out of pocket.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Proud Australian patriotism not a cause for shame
Because of their basic dislike of the society in which they live, Leftists are anti-patriotic. So to condemn patriotism as racist comes easily to them. The fact of the matter, however, is that patriotism and racism are essentially unrelated. See here, here and here. Some other research that is not online is listed here
PATRIOTISM has been declared racist. Just when we must insist Australia is worth defending, we’re told only scum would say so.
Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt was outraged this week that two Woolworths outlets sold singlets printed with the Australian flag and “If you don’t love it leave”.
Bandt reposted a tweet blasting these “racist singlets”, fanning the fury of the Twitter Left.
Woolworths took instant fright, declaring the patriotic slogan “totally unacceptable” and promising to never again sell such a wicked thing.
But exactly how is the singlet racist? Which “race” does it attack? Which “race” does Bandt think hates Australia so much that they are the obvious target?
No, the haters of the singlet are not trying to protect some Australia-hating “race” they cannot even identify and would insult if they tried.
They are instead offended by patriotism. They are instead vilifying proud Australians who cannot understand why people who openly shout they loathe this land don’t try their luck somewhere else in a world full of options.
Yet it was only nine years ago that this sentiment was still acceptable enough for even Australia’s longest-serving treasurer, Peter Costello, to voice it. Costello was puzzled why some extremist Muslims, especially immigrants, were demanding sharia law — extremists such as Hizb ut-Tahrir leader Ismael al-Wahwah, who wants Australia under a caliphate in which “those who are guilty of apostasy ... from Islam are to be executed”, according to his party’s website.
Said Costello: “Our laws are made by the Australian Parliament. If those are not your values, if you want a country which has sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you.”
Or as the Woolies singlet sums up, if you don’t love us, leave. But now the invitation Costello offered is “totally unacceptable”.
What’s helped to change the climate is the media coverage of the 2005 Cronulla riot. That was mischaracterised as a racist uprising by flag-waving white Australians, rather than an ugly reaction to a minority of ethnic Lebanese youths throwing their weight around.
Now the flag, flown from a house or car, is seen as the summonsing to a racist riot.
Adding to the angst is that mass immigration and the Age of Terror have left us with more ethnic tensions than ever since Federation. The Left particularly seems to fear that peace is now so fragile that just showing the flag is like showing a red rag to a paddock of foreign bulls.
And yes, some Australians do indeed now feel threatened by what immigration and multiculturalism have wrought. The backlash one day could be ugly.
But the trashing of patriotism goes far beyond this often exaggerated fear of bogans carrying flags. Take the campaign even by schools to promote a retribalising of Australia, symbolised by the flying of the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian one.
Add also extreme multiculturalism, which most rewards the ethnic groups that most keep their distance.
Then add the constant preaching of a largely invented history of genocide, “stolen generations”, racism and environmental devastation until Australia seems faintly disgusting.
So it’s not surprising that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s appeal for a “Team Australia” was widely mocked by the Left, even though I’m sure most voters backed it.
In fact, the very idea of such a nation state is starting to strike “progressives” and the “alienated” as so last century.
LAST weekend, the ABC’s Encounter program explored what life would be like under a caliphate instead.
“If you’re not a Muslim, it might seem all rather in-house and speculative,” presenter David Rutledge conceded.
“But if you consider that the nation state — like many other products of secular modernity — is beginning to look like a concept whose time could be drawing to a close, then suddenly the caliphate seems less like a medieval fantasy and more like, well, the future.”
It may be crude and even provocative, but “if you don’t love it leave” begins to sound like Socrates against this exhausted toying with totalitarianism. It is also more likely to be just what we need.
Powerful forces today threaten to tear Australians apart, with calls for jihad, sharia law, treaties with the “First Australians”, new racist divisions in the constitution and more mass immigration of the kind that now looks like colonisation.
No society can survive such threats without prizing its past and its symbols and without insisting what members have in common is far greater than what divides them.
Sure, we must stay open to criticism, to make a great country greater. But don’t love it? Then, please, feel free to leave.
Muslim exploitation of Australia's welfare system
There are no fewer than 16 influential Islamic organisations in Australia, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, and there are countless thriving sub Islamic groups in business for some very odd reasons and with some very questionable motives. All receive Government funding.
All Islamic schools also receive Government funding which somehow finds its way into the coffers of the “Australian Federation of Islamic Councils”.
The AFIC is the purse holder and governing body for all things Islamic in Australia.
Since 2010 at least seven major Islamic schools have had their funds temporarily frozen because of “serious irregularities” in financial accounting. Many more are under ASIC investigation where millions in taxpayer funds have simply gone missing without record.
Sydney's largest Muslim school, Malek Fahd, was found to have funnelled back into the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils almost $9 million in school funding. This “accounting” fraud appears to be a common practice in Islamic schools across the country involving hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Government has in most cases decided not to lay charges but merely requests that Islamic leaders promise the defrauded amounts will be repaid in future and in return the funds are immediately unfrozen.
If the Government does decide to continue freezing the funds Muslim leaders challenge the decision in court where orders are made to unfreeze the funds until the matter is determined. This allows the Muslim fraudsters time to cover their tracks.
Eighty seven percent of Muslims are unemployed (in the UK the figure is 85% although it's difficult to assess if that figure includes the unemployable... aged and young Muslims) most are in receipt of disability pensions.
Others are rorting the “carer” system where one Muslim parent agrees to foster-care the other “incapacitated” parent’s children using a government handout of $200 per week per child.
The original Muslim parent then claims she is unable to cope and her children are then foster-cared out to another Muslim parent and on and on it goes in a billion dollar roundabout.
Of course the children all remain with their own parents and in their own homes without any checks because the Government wants no talk of Islamophobia. It is desperate for Islamic “inclusiveness” and fears the screams of victimisation from Islamic lobby groups which will be well aired by the ABC and Fairfax.
If you add to that the halal tax extortion racket that costs Australian shoppers many more millions it becomes clear just how much Islam itself is costing the average Aussie.
More of a worry is where all this hard-earned Aussie money actually goes to. It goes overseas somewhere and you’re entitled to shudder to think where.
Now you’d reckon these guests of ours would be appreciative of this limitless well of milk and honey we provide for them without question.
Well, not really, because many want to cut our heads off, change our legal system and create a Sharia State and the so called Islamic “moderates” don’t whimper a word of protest.
But it doesn’t end there... the forty Aussie lives lost trying to get Muslims a better life in their homelands are vilified as hell-bound infidels who deserved to die.
Dick Smith in dire straits: Aussie household brand faces closure
I have bought quite a lot of his stuff but his brands can be 4 times dearer than a generic and that does make you ask if you are spending wisely -- JR
After 15 years on supermarket shelves, Dick Smith Foods has passed its use by date. “It’s a disaster, it's really sad, because we have the best food,” Smith said. “People stop me in the street all the time and say ‘Dick, we love your foods, we support you’ but most don't.”
At its peak, Dick Smith Foods had a turnover of $80 million per year. Today the range has halved and profits are shot.
Often cheeky but always upfront, Dick now concedes he can't compete because he pays Aussie wages and supports Aussie farmers.
“He can't continue to not make profits, so he has to close,” radio host Alan Jones said.
“If the consumers chooses not to buy that and it's a little bit extra because it's Australian then there is no future and it's very sad.”
The reality is Australians aren't supporting Dick Smith Foods. Dick says only one in 25 shoppers buy one of his products and that is no longer enough to keep the brand alive. “Virtually no one supports us because it's 30 cents dearer,” he said.
Independent senator Nick Xenaphon has thrown his support behind the Australian icon. “I'd like to see consumers rally behind Dick Smith, I'm going to go and buy a few dick smith products tonight,” he said.
“It's really sad but you get to the point where you can't even employ our staff and employ the people in the factories that means it will be closed down,” Smith said.
Dick Smith has previously donated more than $6 million in profits to charity.
Let their warped words be heard
THIS was going to be an open letter to the young radicals who run Hizb ut-Tahrir. To men such as Wassim Doureihi, who fronted ABC’s Lateline last week, whose extremist group is committed to imposing an Islamic caliphate in Australia. Go your hardest, Wassim. Keep talking. Write up your twisted beliefs. Organise your Friday night tirades.
I, and many others, want to know what’s in your head and your heart. We need to see and hear the immorality of a man who will not condemn the barbarity of Islamic State terrorists who behead aid workers and journalists, enslave women and take photos of children holding up severed heads.
But let’s be honest, you are playing evil games. You’re clever enough to know when to hold back publicly, evading every question from Lateline host Emma Alberici. Wassim, why did you say to her, off camera, if you really want answers to those questions, you have my number? Was it a clumsy pick-up line? If so, dream on. Women such as Alberici are not in your league.
In your warped world, women wouldn’t host a television show, dress as she does, challenge and unsettle you as she did with truths that revealed the barbarity and stupidity of your ideas. Your world can only work when women are treated as chattels.
Or was your remark a sly reminder that what you say in private is different to your on-camera remarks? You may be clever, but not clever enough to defeat those of us committed to freedom. Here’s why.
Our ideas are better than yours. We believe in a society based on respect, dignity, equality, the rule of law, freedom of association (so even men like you can meet and plan a caliphate), freedom of religion (so even men like you can use religion as a reason for revolution), free speech (so men like you can try to spread your hate-filled ideology).
However, the moment you incite violence, you commit a crime against the very fabric of our society. Short of that, we will meet and defeat your words and ideas with ours.
On reflection, there’s little point trying to win over, or even explain, our values to these extremists. Their minds are closed, lost to dark dreams of an Islamic caliphate where men rule and sharia law triumphs over human rights.
So this letter is for the rest of us. A reminder of the inherent virtues of our society, where free speech and other human rights allow even abhorrent ideas to be aired. A reminder, too, that we need to defend these values with vigilance. We could shut down extremists. But that’s too easy. That’s what an Islamic caliphate would do. In any case, shutting down words won’t work. It will only drive people underground, allow them to make martyrs of themselves, attracting more attention from the misguided and the aggrieved.
Alternatively, we can let men such as Doureihi speak freely. But free speech means more than offering up a platform to extremists who love attention and controversy. That’s too easy too. Free speech is worth doing only if we do it right. It works as a mechanism of progress only when it operates as the marketplace of ideas. This requires grit and courage. Just as Alberici challenged Doureihi’s incoherent, evasive, reprehensible words, so must we.
Yet, for too long, too many people have taken the intellectually lazy route.
They have given the extremists a platform as if they are a harmless form of freak-show entertainment. That’s not the real deal with free speech. It improves our world only when it becomes the instrument for debate, where good ideas win out by proving the error and evil of bad ideas.
Some say we in the West are too tolerant of the intolerant. So let’s not be so tolerant. For starters, let’s get rid of that deliberately slippery word, multiculturalism, which hints at a moral relativism where all cultures are equal. Our Australian culture, with its intrinsic value of free speech, does not mean tolerating an ideology that would take us back to the dark ages. It means exposing the ideology for what it is: retrograde, repellent and espoused by men threatened by educated, confident women.
But for those whose commitment to free speech kicks in at politically convenient points, here’s the other deal with free speech. It’s not a part-time value. Either condemn free speech equally or support it equally. If the intellectual milksops on the Left must spend thousands of hyperbolic words condemning a conservative such as Andrew Bolt as too offensive to be protected by free speech, it’s only fair and right that you condemn men such as Doureihi. His words are far worse than insulting and offensive. Give us a clue, how long will we be waiting? And here’s an incentive: remember that come the caliphate revolution, the first people up against the wall will be the woolly headed progressives, the homosexuals, the feisty women, the minorities.
And to the faint hearts in the Liberal Party, running the country, wasn’t free speech meant to be part of your political DNA? Didn’t you promise to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act on the basis that it allows a judge to strike down an opinion because he doesn’t like its tone? What happened? The Prime Minister dropped the free speech ball because he said social cohesion was more important. But rolling over to a group of hysterical and hypercritical critics of free speech is not social inclusion, it’s appeasement that allows minority groups to dictate the limits of free speech.
It’s up to all of us, in the media, the pub, schools and universities, politics, the Muslim community, to keep challenging men such as Doureihi. What will a caliphate look like? Given that voters won’t choose it, does that mean a violent revolution? If we keep asking questions of the extremists in our midst, we will defeat them. Along the way we will bolster our commitment to free speech.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Coal is 'good for humanity', says Tony Abbott at mine opening
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia's coal industry has a "big future, as well as a big past" and predicted it will be the world's principal energy source for decades to come.
Mr Abbott also heaped praise on Japan in comments that come just days after China slapped harsh new tariffs on coal imports and will be noted in Beijing as negotiations on a China-Australia Free Trade Agreement move towards conclusion.
Industry has estimated the new tariffs could cost Australia's economy hundreds of millions of dollars annually, though it will be some time before exact estimates can be made.
"Let's have no demonisation of coal," Mr Abbott said on Monday. "Coal is good for humanity, coal is good for prosperity, coal is an essential part of our economic future, here in Australia, and right around the world."
The Prime Minister's comments, which angered the environmental movement, came at the opening of the $US3.4 billion ($3.9 billion) Caval Ridge Mine in Central Queensland, a joint venture between BHP and Mitsubishi. The mine will produce 5.5 million tonnes annually of metallurgical coal and employ about 500 people.
"This is a sign of hope and confidence in the future of the coal industry, it's a great industry, we've had a great partnership with Japan in the coal industry," Mr Abbott said. "Coal is essential for the prosperity of the world." "Energy is what sustains our prosperity, and coal is the world's principal energy source and it will be for many decades to come."
The Coalition had affirmed its faith in the coal industry by abolishing the carbon tax and mining, Mr Abbott said, but if there was a change of government at the next election both of those taxes could come back.
"If you want to sustain the coal industry, if you want to sustain the jobs, if you want to sustain the towns that depend on the coal industry you have got to support the Coalition, because we support coal, we think that coal has a big future as well as a big past."
Mr Abbott's comments about coal having a bright future are in conflict with the United Nations' top climate official Christiana Figueres, who has warned most of the world's coal must be left in the ground to avoid catastrophic global warming.
Less than two weeks ago, a lead adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel lashed the Abbott government's championing of the coal industry as an economic "suicide strategy".
Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said the Prime Minister was "taking a higher and higher stakes gamble by putting all the chips on coal".
Earlier on Monday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said that Australia risked being seen as the climate sceptic capital of the world ahead of the G20 meeting in November.
"We've got the G20 coming up. Most nations in the world at the G20 are dealing with climate change. Yet we're the climate sceptics capital of the world," he said.
"The rest of the world is moving towards taking real action on climate change, yet we've got a government who's slammed the nation into reverse gear and retreating away from action."
Over the weekend, Mr Shorten told Fairfax Media that Labor would take a carbon price - thought not a tax - as policy to the next election.
And he has previously left open the possibility of some form of resources tax, though he has promised to first consult with business over such an impost.
The Woolworths singlet that‘s been flagged as racist: 89% of Telegraph readers say it isn’t
NEARLY ninety per cent of Daily Telegraph readers have condemned a social media campaign to drive patriotic shirts out of Woolworths.
In a poll conducted on The Daily Telegraph’s website, the overwhelming majority of 8000 readers (as of 8.45am today) voted that the singlet tops were not racist.
The backlash against Woolworths over the “accidental” stocking of the shirt promoting Australia has been described as “hypocritical” by a government MP.
The supplier of the singlet — which sports the Australian flag and the words “If you don’t love it, leave” — also expressed concern over social media criticism of the shopping giant.
Only two Woolworths stores, in Cairns and Sydney, sold the singlets and all stock was removed on Monday.
Baulkham Hills MP David Elliott, parliamentary secretary to Premier Mike Baird, said he failed to see how the singlet could be labelled racist — a claim made by left-leaning critics — given that it appears to promote Australia.
An original Tweet by George Craig posting a photo of the singlet with the caption “@woolworths cairns, selling racist singlets for everyday low prices! #racist” was shared by Greens MP Adam Bandt on his Facebook page.
“While I acknowledge that the statement is controversial, I doubt it deserves the level of condemnation that we have seen” Mr Elliott said. “I’d say the majority of Australians read it and say: ‘Yeah, if you don’t like it here you are free to leave’.’’
Neil Booth, the Sydney businessman who supplied the shirts to Woolworths, said: “My father fought for this country. We believe in freedom of speech and I don’t believe Love it or Leave is discriminatory.”
Mr Booth said he had been “making this shirt for eight years now” and had “never had a single complaint about it”. “We accidentally sold a few shirts to Woolworths, which in hindsight was a mistake because it’s a big corporate company and obviously they are more likely to be attacked over any minor problems with stock,” he said.
“We immediately withdrew those shirts from them. We wholesale on the net to people who sell them.’’
2GB host Ray Hadley described the singlet as a “positive image”, with his colleague Ben Fordham giving away 50 shirts on his afternoon show.
“This is the best country in the world — if you don’t embrace it you don’t deserve to be here,” Hadley said.
Mr Craig — the man who sparked the drama while on a footy trip to Cairns — said he was “pretty shocked to see the way this has taken off”.
Uni degrees in indoctrination
FIRST-year media students at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities are being taught the federal government’s media policy process is “corrupt”.
The 18-year-old students are also being told repeatedly that one of the world’s biggest employers of journalists, News Corp, uses “naked political pressure” to the detriment of democracy.
The Australian obtained the first-year course material for media and communications at University of Technology Sydney and The University of Sydney to examine what students are being taught about the media industry.
Over a period of five weeks, The Australian attended some lectures on an undercover basis and obtained the audio recordings of other lectures from students.
The University of Sydney course in particular is leading students to form a critical view of News Corp.
Lecturer Dr Penny O’Donnell teaches students that News Corp newspapers’ 2013 election coverage was driven by a corporate fear of the NBN — a claim that has no factual basis and is incorrect.
She also tells students, studying to become journalists, that the federal government’s media policy process is “corrupted” because it sacrifices public interest objectives in favour of corporate interests.
“We elect governments to act on our behalf so what happens to those public interest objectives?” she asks her class. “They are typically sacrificed to a process that’s very corrupted because it listens more to large corporations than it does to ordinary people. The latest battleground where you see this playing out is over control of the internet.”
A similar claim was repeated by Dr James Goodman in a lecture at The University of Technology Sydney. “You can see individual media corporations having influence over the legislative process, saying what about tweaking this, what about changing this rule and the government quietly changes it partly to keep the media, to keep that organisation on side and it corrupts the political process,’’ he said.
But the indoctrination appeared to be strongest at The University of Sydney where the entire first major lecture focused on News Corp’s power and its impact on journalism, irrespective of the fact it is one of the largest employers of journalists in Australia.
“It’s all about Rupert Murdoch today,” Dr O’Donnell said.
“What is good for the commercial fortune of the media proprietor is not necessarily good for the democratic role. You need to go no further than the case study of Rupert Murdoch to get evidence that supports that statement,’’ she said.
O’Donnell encouraged students to read well known News Corp critic Rod Tiffin and said she “highly recommends” Nick Davies’ anti-Murdoch book Hack Attack, How the Truth Caught up with Rupert Murdoch.
“Thirdly, I’m sure you’ve gathered this from the readings today, I want to suggest that Australia’s media policy fails miserably when it comes to supporting a healthy, competitive and quality newspaper sector. We have instead a very insular, oligopolistic and powerful press industry that spends too much time seeking to skew media policy to serve its own interests and not enough time doing the work that makes newspapers so important,’’ she told her class. “The Murdoch way is political pressure. Naked political pressure. Nothing subtle. Get them Out. Australia Needs Tony. This is the way Rupert exercises power.”
O’Donnell asked the class why Murdoch would want Abbott as Prime Minister instead of former PM Kevin Rudd.
With no reference to the fact Rudd was leading a dysfunctional government, she agreed with students that some of the reasons Murdoch supported Abbott were because: “All the elites stick together”; “We know Murdoch hates unions” but, she claims, it was primarily because of the NBN.
“Your challenge in the next two seconds is to work out why is the man who is tilting to take over Time Warner and become the most powerful media mogul on the planet, why is he worried about the NBN,” she asks, before answering the question by alleging he is protecting his interests and the NBN represents competition.
Directly following this discussion, Ms O’Donnell then questions whether Murdoch is “publicly accountable”.
She tells students of Davies’ argument that Murdoch’s statement “This is the most humble day of my life” was not genuine accountability but simply a “PR sound-bite”. “A good sound-bite, but just a sound-bite,’’ she said.
“We are left with a mogul and a company whose power is undiminished. In fact, it’s growing.”
In a 50-minute lecture, O’Donnell referenced positive aspects of News Corp only briefly, saying it employed some of the best journalists in the country, citing Hedley Thomas’ reporting on Clive Palmer. But even this she qualified, saying the company also employed some “not so good ones as well”.
On slides before the students, the concepts discussed include political pressure, fear-mongering, scandals and regulating media influence.
A lecture slide asks students to discuss how power is exercised through newspaper owners and “what measures, if any, should be taken to control press power.”
Rather than be inspired by some examples of excellent newspaper journalism, students were asked whether they can “find evidence that the internet has replaced print journalism with superior, commercially viable digital journalism.”
After being shown a transcript of the lecture on News Corp, the company’s group editorial director Campbell Reid accused the University of Sydney of indoctrinating students, not educating them.
“Obviously I can’t comment on the full breadth of the content of these courses but on the basis of what has been relayed here I have to wonder if we are dealing with indoctrination rather than education,’’ he said.
“One of my deepest concerns is that when young people who want to be journalists ask me for advice on what education options are best I usually find myself saying ‘not journalism courses.’
“I can’t imagine a senior lawyer advising an aspiring counsel to not get a law degree but I am not alone in my suspicion that journalism as it is taught and journalism as it is practised are two different things.”
Contacted for comment, O’Donnell said “We take our responsibility to educate students about the Australian media very seriously. We do it in public. Everything is recorded and available for review. The lectures are interactive and students are invited to challenge and criticise ideas and views that they do not agree with. That is what higher education is all about. We have no axe to grind against any media company but discuss them all without fear or favour. That is the university tradition. That is our job as media educators. Students are welcome to take any stance they wish on media policy and media politics. We encourage them to first investigate and debate contentious issues, including media power.”
In the introductory lecture at the University of Sydney, Dr Bunty Avieson told students she hoped they were all subscribers to Crikey “if not, be so by next week.” She also recommended websites New Matilda, The Conversation, No Fibs and Media Watch, along with two newspapers a day.
In another lecture, students were advised not to present both sides of the argument on climate change because, similar to the old tobacco debate of the past, there only was one side. The argument was that balanced reporting allowed sceptics to be given airtime. The Australian newspaper was labelled a “repeat offender” of this crime.
Dr Avieson described as “tedious” a Q&A episode where host Tony Jones asked Tanya Plibersek her view on global warming.
“I just about screamed at the television,’’ she said, arguing global warming was an issue for scientists not politicians.
Students were asked to write an essay on news reporting of climate change in the Australian press and how it’s widely criticised as “more partisan than professional.”
“… Critically evaluate whether citizen journalism does a better job of animating public debate and pressure for change on this significant political issue, and provide one case study to ground your discussion and support your argument,’’ it states.
UTS also focuses on media ownership, with students being shown a slide on “content and power” with images of Gina Rinehart, Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer.
When contacted for comment, a spokeswoman said: “The University of Sydney, while not endorsing the comments, defends the academic freedom of its staff. This means it neither censors nor approves the content of lectures and course material delivered by academic staff of the University. “
UTS’s Dr Goodman said he was “referring to the potentially corrupting influence on freedom of political communication, and thus on democracy, of a media system in which there are very few owners and/or dominant outlets. I don’t think this is especially controversial as a free and diverse press is widely recognised as a key precondition of democratic life.”
Frank Salter on State versus Nation in Australia
By John Derbyshire
What follows is a review of the new book by Australian political scientist Frank Salter. The book is titled "The War on Human Nature in Australia’s Political Culture". As the title makes plain, the book is concerned with some particularly Australian themes; but many of the points it makes are of universal interest.
If you’re familiar with biological approaches to the human sciences you’ll know Frank Salter as author of the 2003 book "On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethny, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration", a dense and scholarly treatment of social and political topics from the perspective of altruism within groups of genetically similar people.
Salter’s new book contains six stand-alone essays exploring the territory where the rigorous human sciences meet politics and culture. Five of the essays appeared in the Australian conservative magazine Quadrant from 2010 to 2012; the sixth has not previously been published.
The third and fourth essays explicitly address the National Question, which Salter defines at the beginning of the third:
"No front of the culture wars is more important than the national question—what constitutes a nation, the benefits and costs of nationhood, the connections between national identity and interests, ethnic and racial differences, and the proper relations between nation, state, immigration, domestic ethnic groups, and other countries."
The precise topic of that third chapter is Australian media coverage of National Question issues. Salter collected 215 articles and programs from Australian broadsheet newspapers, radio, and TV, during a period from September 2011 to August 2012. The items covered "Aborigines, refugees, white racism, the benefits of multiculturalism and diversity, criticism of white Australia, national identity …, foreign investment, international relations, and overseas ethnic conflict.”
With a handful of exceptions, the reports showed no awareness of biological discoveries in the modern human sciences. For instance:
"The general absence of biosocial perspectives was evident in the media’s lack of interest in signs of ethnic hierarchy. Pecking orders interest zoologists. They are ubiquitous in vertebrate species. Ethnic hierarchy is relevant to the national question because a fundamental legitimation for government is that it protects the people from conquest … Yet the Australian elite media show little interest in ethnic hierarchy, beyond alleging white racism."
Salter follows with several pages of examples of anti-white sentiments from those media reports, some of them quite shocking. There are contrasting mentions of the media treatment dished out to dissidents who have criticized mass immigration and multiculturalism—historian Geoffrey Blainey, for example
Our author then gives a brief history of the shifts in intellectual fashions that led to "the top-down demographic revolution now under way across the English-speaking world.”
"This changing of the intellectual guard occurred in the United States by the 1940s and was already apparent in the 1920s and 1930s with the rise of anti-Anglo ideology dressed up as anti-racism. That was the tipping point … The alienation of the state from the nation left the latter without effective leadership and thus ill-equipped institutionally or financially to contest control of centralized government, education, and the media."
For this analysis Salter uses some of the ideas put forward by sociologist Eric Kaufmann, in his book "The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America" —though without, Salter pointedly notes, "the positive spin Kaufmann puts on cosmopolitanism.”
Salter explains how this changing of the guard played out in Australia, and the present-day consequences
"Australia’s leftist elites are, in effect, electing a new people to replace reactionary Anglo Australia."
The following essay, Salter’s fourth chapter, carries the issue into Australia’s universities. Should not academics from the human sciences step up to enlighten the public and correct the anti-white bias in the media?
Perhaps they should, but resistance to biological theories of human social behavior is even stronger Down Under than in the U.S.A. The resistance is not empirical, nor even properly intellectual, but ideological:
"No political science or sociology department [in a survey Salter conducted] reported a scholar basing his or her research on behavioral biology. The skew towards Marxist and other environmental theories means that scholars of nationality do not know what to do with the wealth of findings drawn from evolutionary psychology, ethology, and sociobiology; except ignore them."
It’s a dismal state of affairs altogether, made dismaler by the lack of constitutional protections for freedom of speech in Australia.
Readers may remember the cases of law professor Andrew Fraser and columnist Andrew Bolt. Fraser was suspended in 2005 for writing, in a letter to his local newspaper, that blacks commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Bolt scoffed at blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned Australians who claim entitlement to race preferences, prizes, and scholarships on the basis of some tiny strand of aboriginal ancestry. Nine of these opportunists sued Bolt in court for their hurt feelings … and won!
In the fifth of his six essays Salter tosses and gores Australia’s little—but influential and dismayingly respectable—clique of open-borders libertarians. He rounds off the essay with some blunt facts.
"The only population difference between the immigration levels adopted by succeeding governments over recent decades and open borders is the date at which the country becomes overcrowded. In addition ethnic stratification is growing. Most Aboriginal Australians remain an economic underclass and some immigrant communities show high levels of long-term unemployment. Anglo Australians, still about 70 percent of the population, are presently being displaced disproportionately in the professions and in senior managerial positions by Asian immigrants and their children."
The solution, he believes, is to break the stranglehold of ideology on university departments of humanities and social sciences. Lots of luck with that.
Those three essays—Salter’s third, fourth, and fifth—are the real meat of the book, but the other three are worth reading.
The first, "Introduction to the Culture War on Human Nature,” surveys the different levels of success at which biosocial approaches have penetrated popular media, business culture, and the academic social sciences.
The second, "Sexless Gender Studies,” is a take-down of that area of the social sciences where the biological dimension is most undeniable…you would think.
The sixth and final essay in this collection is an appreciation of Salter’s mentor and colleague Hiram Caton, "Australian Pioneer of Biosocial Science.” Caton’s name was not previously known to me. He was American by birth, a native of North Carolina, and in his thirties contributed to the U.S. conservative press. I smiled to read that: "In 1965 his National Review circle welcomed the immigration reform legislation of that year.” (This may be an exaggeration of NR’s attitude at the time—see More Immigration, by Ernest van den Haag, NR, September 21, 1965.) Caton’s name does not, however, appear in either George H. Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 or the ISI’s American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia.
Frank Salter offers a fresh view of the National Question. His point of view and his arguments may not be shocking to readers here, but he emphasizes their grounding in sociobiology and genetic interests.
The War on Human Nature in Australia’s Political Culture is a fine contribution to the literature of dissent against multiculturalism, mass Third World immigration, and white ethnomasochism. I wish it every success.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
'Absolutely ridiculous': Joe Hockey denies Australia is dirtiest greenhouse gas emitter in OECD
Australia is very large (3 million sq. miles) so it has a large animal population (both wild and domestic) which emits various gases. The human population is however small (22 million) so blaming all the animal emissions on people and their activities is absurd
Treasurer Joe Hockey has been bombarded with questions on climate change, the economy and Australia's relationship with China during an interview on the BBC World News airing at 2:30pm and 7.30pm on Tuesday.
Hockey has denied that Australia is the highest greenhouse gas emitting country in the OECD per capita, telling a British journalist the statement is "absolutely ridiculous".
He has also refused to explicitly back the democracy movement in Hong Kong, and says Australia's free trade negotiations with China will not be damaged by China's shock move last week to introduce new tariffs on imports of Australian coal.
On his first trip to London since becoming treasurer, Mr Hockey has also told an audience at the Institute of Economic Affairs that Australia's Reserve Bank has only a "limited capacity" to stimulate economic growth and Australia can no longer afford a "she'll be right" approach if it wants to avoid recession or high unemployment.
On the BBC's Hardtalk program recorded overnight, Mr Hockey faced tough questions about Prime Minister Tony Abbott's views on coal, Clive Palmer's recent explosive appearance on the ABC's Q&A during which he called the Chinese government "mongrels who shoot their own people," and Labor leader Bill Shorten's criticism that Australia is now seen as the climate change sceptic capital of the world.
He told BBC host Stephen Sackur that Europeans had a "fundamental misunderstanding" of Australia's economic ties with Asia, particularly China, and the view that Australia had a "massive reliance and dependence" on China for exports was a "complete misread".
He also laughed at the suggestion that Australia was "one of the dirtiest most greenhouse gas-emitting countries in OECD group of developed countries". "The comment you just made is absolutely ridiculous," Mr Hockey told Sackur.
"We've got a small population and very large land mass and we are an exporter of energy, so that measurement is a falsehood in a sense because it does not properly reflect exactly what our economy is," Mr Hockey said.
"Australia is a significant exporter of energy and, in fact, when it comes to coal we produce some of the cleanest coal, if that term can be used, the cleanest coal in the world."
His comments contradict the Garnaut Climate Change Review, which says Australia was the highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the OECD, even without exports of energy.
"Australia's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are the highest of any OECD country and are among the highest in the world," the review says. "Australia's per capita emissions are nearly twice the OECD average and more than four times the world average."
When asked on the BBC program, which will air in full on BBC World News on Tuesday evening, about China's surprise decision last week to introduce 3 per cent and 6 per cent tariffs on coal imports, Mr Hockey said Australia had no political problem with China at the moment. But he would not say if negotiations with China on a free trade agreement would end if there was no agreement by the end of this year.
Science, industry links positive step forward: Academy
The Australian Academy of Science welcomed the announcement of a new suite of measures to cement the role of science in Australian industry in the government’s competitiveness agenda.
The announcement included the establishment of new industry led “growth centres” to connect researchers and business, funding for new science and maths education programs and the establishment of the Commonwealth Science Council – replacing the Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council.
The Academy’s Secretary of Science Policy Professor Les Field said the announcement was a positive step forward.
“Anything which aligns science more closely with industry has got to be a big plus, especially when this is an area where Australia traditionally struggles,” he said.
“One of the things that impacts most on the translation of research into industry is that period that called the valley of death, where you've got a great idea but it's not yet at the stage of being able to attract investment. Hopefully these centres could be one way to bridge this gap.”
He said that while investment in industry links and applied research is essential, it should continue to be balanced with pure research programs.
“With the benefit of hindsight, some of the most significant advances and commercial returns have resulted from fundamental research,” he said.
Professor Field said the Academy looks forward to working with the new Commonwealth Science Council. “It is encouraging to hear there will be a new body for dialogue between the government, industry and the scientific community,” he said.
“It is particularly good to see the Prime Minister is chairing this important new council himself, joined by scientific and business leaders, many of whom are Academy Fellows.”
Professor Field also welcomed the increased focus on improving science and maths skills. “Boosting STEM skills will have a significant impact on the competiveness of Australian industry.”
Radio jock slams Woolworths for pulling offensive singlets
2GB radio shock jock Ray Hadley has lashed out at Woolworths for removing from its shelves a singlet that has been described as "racist" and "offensive". The singlet was emblazoned with an Australian flag and read "If you don't love it, leave".
Hadley said that Woolworths had "caved in" to social media pressure by removing the singlet.
Woolworths announced on Monday that it had withdrawn the "totally unacceptable" singlets. It claimed the singlets were stocked inadvertently in two stores, one in Sydney and one in Cairns. Social media users were quick to condemn the singlets when they first appeared.
Hadley leapt to the defence of the singlets on his Morning Show on Tuesday. "It's very simple; we are inclusive," he said.
"If you're here, if you reside here, if you're an Australian resident, or if you're an Australian citizen, then you love the joint. It's not racist. Its simply a fact of life, this is the best country in the world. If you don't embrace it you don't deserve to be here."
He went on to say that all Australians should be part of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's "Team Australia". "My mates say if you don't love it, leave."
It was the second time on Tuesday morning that Hadley had taken umbrage at Woolworths' decision. On Channel Nine's Today show he took aim at the Greens for promoting the campaign to remove the singlets.
Greens deputy leader, Adam Bandt [an old Trotskyite] , told the Today show the decision was a "victory for social media". "We are a society that operates on a civil law, not an episode of Survivor where you get to say who's next to be kicked off the island."
Hadley was also surprised by the original Twitter post by George Craig and the group of footballers he was travelling with. They were unanimously offended by the singlet.
"I'd love to identify all these footballers who went on a fishing trip to Cairns and stood in the aisle and said: "Oh dear, let's not go fishing or drinking today. Let's stand in Woolies and look at all these T-shirts. Thats just disgraceful, let's put this on social media and start a furore.' "
Woolworths has been at pains to distance itself from the singlet since the controversy began. "The sentiment expressed on the singlet does not reflect the views of Woolworths," a spokesman for the company said. "As soon as we were made aware, we immediately withdrew the product from our shelves."
Why getting rid of school excursions is a scholastic and social travesty
Do you remember the marvellous feeling of waking up on a school excursion day? Maybe it was one of the few days of the year that, as a child, you didn’t complain about going to school. Without having to be asked by your parents, your teeth and hair were brushed, shirt tucked in and lunch packed.
If you were organised, you had handed in your permission slip to your teacher weeks before. Even if you were more of a last-minute child, you wouldn’t leave the house without that parental signature and little envelope of grubby cash clutched in your hand.
School excursions ranged from the classic zoo, beach and aquarium trips to the more adventurous: skiing at Jindabyne, hiking through the Blue Mountains or camping in the outback.
There was the typical farm tour in the early primary school years, the gold fields trip in middle primary, and the Year 6 excursion to Parliament House and participation in a mock Parliament debate.
In high school, you may have been lucky enough to venture overseas to hike the Kokoda Trail, volunteer in a Cambodian orphanage or, like I did, spend three terms fundraising to go on a tour to South Korea with the school jazz band.
But while these school trips have, for decades, formed some of the happiest memories for school students, many of today’s teachers are cutting back on excursions due to liability and litigation risks.
Why? Because some teachers dread the threat of being sued by parents, should a child be injured or experience misadventure while on the trip.
The recent major review of Australia’s National Curriculum found that teachers, particularly graduate teachers, had a fear of teaching outside the classroom on field trips. The report linked this to “a lack of organisational skills, and concerns about liability and litigation.”
The fact that litigation around school based student injury has reached a tipping point where teachers are afraid to leave the classrooms, or simply schedule less excursions because of the sheer pile of red-tape required to take children outside, is a sad outcome.
I’m inclined to agree with the warnings present in the report, that education standards could be at risk if kids are bound to their desks. And it’s not only standards I’m worried about.
As a teacher-turned-journalist, I’m aware that excursions, often completed at the culmination of a topic like Insects (Year 1 and 2), British Colonisation (Years 3-6) or Ancient Rome (Year 9 and 10) bring school work done in class “to life” in a way that no amount of teaching time can.
Lists of food rations, corporal punishment and penal colonies are dry and uninspiring until the students dress up in a pinafore, convict or soldier’s uniform and act out scenes from history.
Do I think inexperienced teachers are to blame for their fear of legal action if misadventure strikes on a school excursion? Certainly not.
As I’ve experienced first hand, new teachers have a huge weight of responsibility to ensure duty of care for their students, both in the classroom and outside of school property. However, I believe the onus is on school administration to make certain that experienced teachers are paired with graduate teachers for excursions.
Seasoned teachers are crucial in showing young teachers that despite the mountain of risk-assessments and permission slips that need to be completed before you hop on the bus, excursions are one of the best memories of school a student can have and shouldn’t be dropped.
Let’s not see the decline of the magical bush camp under the stars, the trip to the snow or excursion to the local art or history museum. Let’s give the next generation of children the best memories of school they can possibly have.