Friday, November 16, 2018

Greenies protect their own

Greenies can do no wrong, apparently

Let’s re-imagine, just for a minute, last week’s furore around the alleged sexual assault of ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper by former NSW Labor leader Luke Foley.

Let’s imagine that instead of resigning from the leadership within 24 hours, that Foley and the Labor Party instead branded Ms Raper a drug-using slut. Deeply offensive, I know, but stick with me.

Let’s imagine that after levelling those allegations, Foley refused to stand down and the Labor Party refused to even debate internally whether or not he should.

Now let’s try and imagine the public and media response to Ms Raper having her character assassinated for having the audacity to speak out against a politician in a position of power who sexually assaulted her.

The fact is, you don’t actually have to try particularly hard to imagine it. You only need to know the story of Ella Buckland, a former Greens NSW staffer who earlier this year levelled startlingly similar allegations against Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

Like Ms Raper, Ms Buckland alleges that after a work function, she was sexually assaulted by a drunken politician.

Like Ms Raper, Ms Buckland alleges that following the alleged assault, she received a phone call from her alleged attacker.

Like Ms Raper, Ms Buckland waited a considerable period of time to air those allegations.

Like Ms Raper, Ms Buckland was the subject of defamation threats when the issue became public.

Those are the commonalities. The differences, however, are stark.

In Ms Raper’s case, Luke Foley allegedly slipped his hand down her dress and between her underpants, resting his hand on her bare buttocks. In Ms Buckland’s case, Mr Buckingham allegedly approached her from behind, grabbed her “roughly on the vagina” and kissed her neck.

In Ms Raper’s case, she was dragged into the public fray by a Coalition politician seeking to exploit a political advantage. In Ms Buckland’s case, her motivation in coming forward was publicly and falsely ascribed to her being involved in a factional move against Mr Buckingham. Ms Buckland has not been a member of the Greens for several years and has no day-to-day involvement in politics.

In Ms Raper’s case, she received a phone call from her alleged abuser, who apologised and promised to resign. In Ms Buckland’s case, she received a phone call from her alleged abuser who threatened that she should be ‘careful in her job’.

In Ms Raper’s case, she subsequently received threats of defamation when the issue became public, only to have those threats widely shouted down. In Ms Buckland’s case, she received threats of defamation before the issue even became public, and Mr Buckingham has gone on to threaten to sue – and actively sue – multiple people.

In Ms Raper’s case, there was a startlingly swift resolution to the issue. Luke Foley announced his resignation almost immediately. Ms Buckland made her complaint internally through the Greens in April. It took months to progress, but not before a subsequent internal investigation finally turned the blow torch on Ms Buckland herself, investigating the baseless allegations that she was a ‘promiscuous drug user’.

The other glaring differences, of course, included the reactions of media and politicians.

In terms of the media response, the alleged assault on Ashleigh Raper was a major news story that dominated news coverage last week. The fall out is still being felt a week later. Ella Buckland’s alleged assault attracted far less interest. With the exception of the ABC, who broke the Buckland story in August and followed it up on Radio National just a day before the Foley allegations broke, no other mainstream media outlet has seen fit to report a syllable of the allegations levelled by Ms Buckland.

The most unkind interpretation of that silence is that when women are allegedly sexually assaulted, media interest is optional. But when journalists are allegedly sexually assaulted, it’s stacks on.

Fortunately, in the brave new world of social media, mainstream news outlets no longer control all the channels of public communication. That’s where the reactions of politicians come into focus.

Over the past week, anger at the difference in the treatment of Ms Buckland and Ms Raper has been blowing up on social media, with a growing number of people doing the job of the mainstream media by calling out the obvious hypocrisy between the two approaches.

Square in the gun of that growing public outrage has been the actions of Greens politicians, most of whom stayed silent for months over the Buckland allegations, but wasted no time in coming out to condemn Luke Foley.

Greens MLA Cate Faehrmann weighed into the Foley issue last week. The condemnation of her obvious hypocrisy was swift.

That public condemnation of Faehrmann comes in the absence of all the facts, which are actually much worse than they appear. Not only has Faerhmann said nothing publicly about the alleged assault on Ella Buckland, she recently voted in a Greens NSW State Delegates Council meeting against any debate on whether or not Mr Buckingham should stand down from his position while an internal investigation was ongoing.

Read that again: Faerhmann didn’t just vote against any action being taken against Buckingham, she voted to suppress any debate about any action being taken against Buckingham.

Greens MP for the seat of Newtown, Jenny Leong has also seen fit to weigh publicly into the fray around Foley, while having nothing to say about Jeremy Buckingham.

Labor, obviously, handled their crisis much better. Even Bill Shorten, the federal leader of the Labor Party and a man known for his inability to avoid spin at every available opportunity, weighed into the debate, saying, “Modern society has no tolerance for the behaviour described.”

So how did the Greens federal leader, Richard Di Natale respond to the Buckland allegations?

Helpfully, he was asked about them by Fran Kelly, on ABC Radio National less than 24 hours before the Foley allegations broke. The response is telling.

FRAN KELLY: Are you satisfied this matter has been dealt with appropriately?

DI NATALE: Well as you’ve said Fran, that was the subject of an independent external investigation and obviously it’s a matter for the NSW Greens to respond to that.

KELLY: Have you intervened in any way?

DI NATALE: We have very clearly protocols about how these are dealt with. We’ve respond based on the advice of a number of women’s groups, a number of experts in this field. We’ve got clear protocols. We had an independent investigation take place and we’ve made it very clear the party needs to take these cases, treat them really seriously, create an environment where women come forward and are supported in taking action, and we’ve done those things, and now this is a matter for the NSW Greens.

KELLY: Does Jeremy Buckingham have your confidence?

DI NATALE: Well, as I said Fran this is now a matter for the NSW Greens…

KELLY: Well you’re the leader of the Greens, does he have your confidence?

DI NATALE: Well I’m the leader of the federal party. And our federal party has made it very clear there is no role for members of parliament to be making judgements about cases that have been thoroughly investigated, and that’s as it should be.”

The deafening silence and spin aside, that last statement – about a ‘thorough investigation’ – is the claim on which Di Natale should perhaps stand most condemned.

It is that very ‘thorough investigation’ which led directly to the allegations against Ella Buckland that she was a ‘promiscuous intravenous drug user’.

If that’s what a ‘thorough Greens-led investigation’ looks like, you have to wonder what hope there is for the party.

Having said that, there are good people within Greens NSW, and the party more broadly, who have worked hard internally to take the right path on this issue. I acknowledge that sometimes, the right path is a difficult one to map out.

The Greens have, to some extent, been frozen by a strong belief in affording procedural fairness to Jeremy Buckingham, while also supporting Ella Buckland. But that begs one simple question: Why have Greens MLA’s been prepared to afford Jeremy Buckingham that ‘procedural fairness’, but not Luke Foley?

Why did Greens politicians who had nothing to say about the alleged assault of one of their own, by one of the own, not feel the same weight of ethical constraints when it came to a member of the Labor Party?

The answer is obvious: politics.

While that plays out, in all its unedifying glory, the Greens continue to tie themselves in knots, determined to ‘respect the process’, despite the outcome.

As we speak, fresh moves are afoot within the party to remove Jeremy Buckingham from the Greens’ ballot in the March 2019 state election. We’ll have that story in a day or so, and there are more revelations to come. New Matilda’s investigation into the Greens handling of sexual assault allegations is ongoing, albeit moving at the snail’s pace for which we’re famous (you can help speed it up by clicking on the link directly below and contributing to our fundraiser).

Whatever the outcome though, the Greens, as a party, has clearly lost its way. On this issue at least, it is hopelessly compromised.

The last word belongs to Ashleigh Raper, whose dignified and moving statement should be required reading for all men in power, and for all political parties.

“It is clear to me that a woman who is the subject of such behaviour is often the person who suffers once a complaint is made,” Ms Raper wrote.

“I cherished my position as a state political reporter and feared that would be lost. I also feared the negative impact the publicity could have on me personally and on my young family. This impact is now being felt profoundly.”

I’m sure Ella Buckland, who did lose her dream job, can empathise.


Australian immigration and asylum system needs cutback

Tony Abbott has repeated his call for Scott Morrison to cut the rate of immigration as the government redoubles efforts to engineer an overhaul of the program, including giving the states more input into where migrants settle.

The former prime minister used his regular spot on 2GB on Monday to declare that the current intake needed to come down until infrastructure, housing and “integration” caught up.

Even though the intake is down on previous years, Abbott said there was “absolutely no doubt” that “record” numbers of “newcomers” were putting “downward pressure on wages, upward pressure on housing prices and adding to the crush on our roads and public transport”.

“We do need to get the numbers down,” he said.

Work on an overhaul of the program began under Malcolm Turnbull, partly in response to positioning within Liberal party ranks. Abbott has been campaigning for months on immigration, and Peter Dutton also signalled support for a cut in the rate in the build-up to the government’s leadership crisis.

Turnbull, and Morrison as treasurer, resisted calls for a cut in the rate and put in place a process examining options to relieve pressure in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as boosting spending on infrastructure.

Migration is running under the 190,000 cap: 162,417 people permanently migrated to Australia in 2017-18 – well under the cap and down from 183,608 the year before.

Abbott in February advocated a target of 110,000 migrants a year, prompting Morrison to say at the time: “If you cut the level of permanent immigration to Australia by 80,000, that would cost the budget, that would hit the bottom line, the deficit, by $4bn to $5bn over the next four years.”

On Monday Morrison said the government was looking to pursue a better process with state governments to ensure migration levels aligned with the “carrying capacity” in large cities including Sydney and Melbourne. He said the current process was not working as it should.

The prime minister said state governments, with planning departments responsible for building schools, roads and hospitals, were best placed to indicate to the commonwealth “their carrying capacity”.

“Our process to date has not been enough ground-up,” he told Sky News. “Having a top-down approach to migration I don’t think has served us well.”

He said the process under development would see the commonwealth continue to set the cap, and the system would remain demand-driven, but the states would have greater input in determining how migrants were distributed by providing advice about whether local services matched growing population levels.

Morrison said the “polarisation” in the migration debate was unhelpful to getting a practical outcome. The prime minister said he was attempting to set a middle course to manage what is always a hot-button political issue.

More migrants were needed in Perth, Darwin and Adelaide, he said, and the commonwealth had scope with temporary migrants to determine the terms of their settlement.

Dutton, the home affairs minister, told reporters on Monday that migrants could not be compelled “to stay within a particular postcode” but he said “there are incentives you can provide” and that’s what the government was examining.

Abbott told 2GB he was sanguine about creating a new process with the states if it was related to reducing the current intake. “If this talk with the states is part of getting the numbers down, all well and good, let’s expedite it.”


Support for a republic slumps to 25-year low

The recent trip to Australia by Prince Harry and new wife Meghan has changed Australians’ stance on a key issue.

Royals vs Republic: Have Harry and Meghan turned Aussies into monarchists?

Young Australians appear to have revived support for the monarchy with support for a republic slumping to a 25-year low after a visit from Prince Harry and his pregnant wife Meghan.

A Newspoll survey found only 40 per cent of respondents favoured Australia becoming a republic, the lowest level of support in 25 years and 10 points down from a similar poll conducted before the royal tour in October.

Australian Monarchist League national chair Philip Benwell told there’s been growing support for the Royals from younger generations of Australians.

“The majority of our members are under 40, many of them are in their 20s and we are now getting a number of 16 to 17 year olds through, who are very staunch,” he said.

Mr Benwell believes the renewed support is due to three factors. It’s partly a reaction against the pro-republic, anti-Establishment attitudes of the Baby Boomer generation, and because the younger generation have a rapport with the younger royals, who are more relaxed and not so strict on protocol.

“The young Royals are naturals and of course, are closer to their age groups whereas the Queen and Prince of Wales are elderly,” he said.

Mr Benwell said young people also love the way of life in Australia, which they equate to the system of governance and don’t want it to change.

Just in the last week, Mr Benwell said about 1000 people had either liked the organisation’s Facebook page or signed up to be members.

“We’ve got financial members in the several thousands and a support base of 40,000 and it’s growing continuously,” he said.

Australian Republic Movement national director Michael Cooney acknowledged the organisation had to work harder to gain support.

“We know a republic is not inevitable,” Mr Cooney told “Australians want to know what the benefits are and our campaign has to work hard to have conversations with more of our citizens.

“The queen’s grandchildren are popular and I’m sure their visit has had a short term effect. “They will be welcome guests in an Australian republic.”

Mr Cooney said the organisation would continue to work towards achieving a republic but appears to have dropped its target of achieving this by 2022.

It’s now working towards a referendum in 2022 on two questions: Should Australia have an Australian head of state? And how should our head of state be chosen?

The Labor Party, which is favoured to take power in the next national elections due by May, announced on Monday that it would organise another plebiscite on becoming a republic if elected.

Monday’s poll indicated that bid would likely fail as it did in 1999.

However, there are limits to the Royal love-in and the outrage over former prime minister Tony Abbott’s decision to grant a knighthood to Prince Philip on Australia Day illustrates this. Mr Benwell said he didn’t support the knighthood and there was a reaction to Mr Abbott making a captain’s call without much consultation but it was also bad timing.

“It would have been accepted if it had been given when the Queen became the longest serving monarch later in the year,” Mr Benwell said.

“Australia Day has become a national day and people (whether they were) monarchists or republicans, didn’t feel like it was good idea.

A total of 48 per cent of the 1800 people questioned in the Newspoll said they opposed ending the colonial tradition of having the British monarch act as Australia’s head of state.

It was the first time since a 1999 referendum on the issue which maintained Australia’s status that supporters of the monarchy outnumbered republicans.

The turnaround in public sentiment came after Prince Harry and Meghan spent two weeks touring Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands in a tour that drew adoring throngs.

It was the first international tour for Harry and the American-born former actress since the couple were married in May, and began with the announcement that Meghan was pregnant.

She charmed crowds with a down-to-earth style which saw her halt the royal entourage several times to give shy toddlers a cuddle and bring homemade banana bread to an afternoon tea in the outback town of Dubbo.


Huge green grocer cicada unearths itself near Mt Gambier

A huge, green insect with a screeching call that would “put the Red Hot Chili Peppers to shame” has unearthed itself in SA’s South-East.

The green grocer cicada is one of the loudest insects in the world and after spending years underground as caterpillars, they have now emerged for six weeks of noisy mating.

One of the ear-piercing insects was spotted at Mt Gambier yesterday, measuring a whopping six centimetres, two more than their average length.

While it is too early to say, there could be “many thousands” of these cicadas emerging with it, according to UniSA Professor Chris Daniels.

“They all emerge at once, they mate like crazy and then they die,” he said.

“So you get some appearances of really large numbers of cicadas every two to 17 years, depending on the species.”

This particular species of cicada, the green grocer or yellow monday depending on the colour, can spend up to seven years underground feeding on plant roots before emerging.

And when they do emerge — usually near forests around Christmas time — the sound is deafening.

“They’re so loud, they can actually deafen themselves,” Professor Daniels said. “They would put the Red Hot Chili Peppers to shame.”

The noise, which is used to find a mate as quickly as possible while fending off predators, can reach up to 110 decibels.

Around sunset is the best time to hear the male’s harsh, high-pitched call for females in their six-week final hurrah.


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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Collateral damage of the debased #MeToo crusade

Janet Albrectsen  is generally right below but her claim that no conservative should copy the unscrupulous tactics of the Left is rather idealistic. A prophet long ago warned "Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7).  The Left deserve a taste of how their bad behaviour affects people

In the latest outpouring of #MeToo miasma, former ABC managing director Michelle Guth­rie claims former chairman Justin Milne touched her inappropriately on her back. It was “unprofessional” and “icky”, she told ABC’s Four Corners on Monday evening. Guthrie has gone public amid a war of words over who said and did what to whom just before she was sacked and he resigned.

Let’s just say that Guthrie is a woman in her early 50s who stood on equal footing with the former chairman. She chose not to make a formal complaint at the time. Who knows what happened? And, quite frankly, who cares?

More of us are concerned about Ashleigh Raper. The ABC journalist became an innocent ­casualty when powerful men ­decided to exploit the #MeToo zeitgeist for their brutal political games. Before we get to that, if it is true, the alleged behaviour of ­former NSW Labor opposition leader Luke Foley towards Raper at Christmas drinks in 2016 was shameful. More than that, if a man puts his hand on a woman’s back, slides his hand inside her dress and rests his hand on her backside without consent, that is assault. At a press conference last week, Foley denied the allegations and said he planned to launch defamation proceedings. Given there was a witness, this sordid tale has a way to go yet.

Women are right to be just as outraged about Foley’s alleged ­behaviour as the contemptible and uncontested actions of NSW Liberal minister David Elliott and federal Liberal MP Eric Abetz who exploited the #MeToo zeitgeist for their partisan political pur­poses. A month ago, under the coward’s cloak of parliamentary privilege, Elliott alluded to Foley’s actions against an unnamed ABC journalist. Elliott’s actions made it impossible for Raper to remain ­silent.

A week later Abetz also mentioned an alleged “assault”, “sexual assault” and “indecent assault” while grilling ABC management at a Senate estimates committee. His base motives forced the ABC’s acting managing director into the ridiculous position of saying the matter would be investigated, even though Raper had not made a complaint.

Who gave these two men the right to set the hares running about an ABC journalist who was allegedly harassed or assaulted by Foley?

Elliott and Abetz knew that Raper had chosen to stay silent. She did what many, many women do in the same circumstances. She decided to get on with her life, in her case as a political journalist. She did not join the public #MeToo campaign that started a year later. Up until last week, Raper made no public comment or formal complaint.

These were not men in shining armour acting on behalf of Raper when they pursued Foley and the ABC respectively. The two Liberal politicians were acting for their own craven purposes; they knowingly disregarded her choice to ­remain silent. It is especially rank behaviour from two men who dress daily in the moral garb of ­social conservatives within the Liberal Party.

On Friday morning Elliott ­requested privacy. What a joke. Elliott and Abetz ignored Raper’s right to privacy, forcing her into the public domain against her will to damage Foley and embarrass the ABC.

Elliott’s late apology on Saturday only compounds the stench. This is politics 101: a politician apologises only when it becomes untenable not to do so. And even then the apology is predictably lame, a means of deflecting bad behaviour rather than serious reflection about what he did wrong.

We can all agree then that Raper became collateral damage when two senior Liberal men ­exploited the #MeToo crusade for their own political purposes.

But here comes the part that will cause some women conniptions, as is often the case with #MeToo: many women have man­ipulated the social media campaign for their own purposes, corrupting its focus and undermining its credibility. That doesn’t excuse the mistreatment of Raper by the men involved in this sleazy saga. It adds insult to injury that both sexes have used #MeToo for their own ulterior motives.

When millions of women, each with their own agenda, jumped aboard the #MeToo movement early on, it became a train wreck waiting to happen for men and women alike. This early exploitation was an open invitation to others to use the same confected emotion and rage for their personal and political purposes too.

Perhaps if the early champions of #MeToo had demanded a more disciplined focus on serious harassment and sexual assault, their campaign would not have gone off the rails in the way it has. Those who are so outraged over Raper’s treatment should have had the foresight to see this coming. Some unintended consequences are predictable even early on.

Instead, #MeToo became a shoddy conduit for political causes and trivial episodes. And a clique of female supporters would not countenance debate that veered from their fast-forming orthodoxy. They discouraged discussion about how we define sexual harassment and treated those of us who suggested some nuance, context, due process and less prudery as traitors to the sisterhood. The same women so quick to condemn men for exploiting claims of sexual harassment will not concede that women have done the same. Outing a man ­because he didn’t turn out to be Prince Charming and the sex was bad was lumped in the #MeToo basket with everything from a wink and a wolf-whistle, leaving their cause badly damaged.

Three key words suffice as evidence of the wicked manipulation of the #MeToo movement: women, Democrats and Kavanaugh. Even the American Civil Liberties Union exploited the emotion-laden #MeToo zeitgeist to try to stop Brett Kavanaugh becoming a Supreme Court justice. A group that includes civil liberties in its name is prima facie dedic­ated to due process. Not when it came to Donald Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court. Here, the ACLU used unproven and highly contested claims by women to ­oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The debasement of the #MeToo movement made it ­inevitable that it would be exploited by men and women and people of all political persuasions. Last week, during a fiery White House press conference, a Trump aide took the microphone from CNN’s Jim Acosta. Later that day Acosta’s press credentials were suspended and Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern”, calling it “absolutely unacceptable”. The video shows Acosta’s hand brushing the intern’s shoulder as she takes the microphone from him. But in an age of confected #MeToo outrage, everyone gets a shot at emoting over even the most trivial #MeToo matter.

Now that a Republican president and two Liberal politicians in Australia have exploited this hashtag crusade for their own tawdry ends, maybe more backers of #MeToo will concede that its early corruption encouraged precisely this outcome: a political free-for-all where women have become collateral damage too.


Australia's annual wage growth the highest in three years

Despite leadership troubles, a conservative administration has still delivered the goods.  Even if a conservatve administration does no more than block the destructive Left from power, it can still do a lot of good

Hourly pay rates across Australia rose 0.6% in September quarter, meeting expectations, and have now increased 2.3% over the past 12 months for the highest annual growth rate in three years.

Public-sector hourly rates of pay lifted 0.6% in the quarter and 2.5% over the year, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Private-sector workers received a 0.5% increase in the quarter and 2.1% over the year.

The September quarter result was in line with economist expectations but seemingly below what traders expected, with the Australian dollar dipping in reaction to the data, from US72.35c to US72.21c.

“There was a higher rate of wage growth recorded across the majority of industries in comparison to this time last year, reflecting the influence of improved labour market conditions,” the ABS chief economist, Bruce Hockman, said.

In original terms, annual growth to the September quarter 2018 ranged from 1.8% for the mining and retail trade industries to 2.8% for the healthcare and social assistance industry.

The Reserve Bank has been scanning the economy for signs of stronger wages growth before it considers raising interest rates.


Australian universities miffed about inquiry into freedom of speech

The government has asked a former chief justice of the high court, Robert French, to review the health of freedom of speech on Australia’s university campuses.

The review will take four months, and French has been asked to assess the framework protecting freedom of expression and inquiry, including the multiple codes of conduct and enterprise agreements that govern campuses.

He has also been asked to consider policy options that could “better promote” freedom of expression, including the development of a sector-led code of conduct to govern university behaviour.

The request comes after a series of controversies on university campuses where students and academic staff have been accused of stifling public debates.

But Universities Australia has questioned why the review is necessary, saying campuses should be free of political interference. [Including interference from Left-Fascist goons

It has also criticised some media commentators for being “very wide of the mark” and “selectively quoting from university policies and codes” to make their arguments about free speech.

Dan Tehan, the education minister, said universities were important institutions where ideas were debated and challenged and freedom of speech had to be protected “even where what is being said may be unpopular or challenging”.

“The best university education is one where students are taught to think for themselves, and protecting freedom of speech is how to guarantee that,” he said.

“If necessary, the French review could lead to the development of an Australian version of the Chicago statement, which is a voluntary framework that clearly sets out a university’s commitment to promoting freedom of speech.”

French said he would respect the “legitimate institutional autonomy” of Australia’s universities while undertaking the review.

“An important object of the review will be the production of a resource including a model code which can be used as a point of reference in any consideration by universities of their existing rules and guidelines relating to the protection of freedom of speech on campus,” he said.

But Universities Australia said the country’s universities had more than 100 policies, codes and agreements that support free intellectual inquiry, ensuring a culture of lively debate and a vigorous contest of ideas.

Prof Margaret Gardner, the chair of Universities Australia, said some assertions in media reporting had mischaracterised academic freedom and downplayed the robust state of debate on campuses.

“Some commentators on free speech at Australian universities have been very wide of the mark – jumping to the wrong conclusions or selectively quoting from university policies and codes,” she said.

“These same conclusions would not meet the threshold test of academic inquiry — informed by evidence and facts.

“They are made by advocates who appear to want government to override university autonomy with heavy-handed external regulation and red tape.

“Despite these incorrect assertions, a wide range of opinions are freely expressed on campus – in the context of Australian law and university codes of conduct.”

Gardner also said Universities Australia had not provided input for the review’s terms of reference.

A press release from Tehan’s office on Wednesday said: “Universities Australia have been consulted on the review.”


Almost 300 asylum seekers prevented from sailing to Australia in past year

International authorities, with the assistance of Australia, have “disrupted” at least 10 alleged attempts to transport almost 300 asylum seekers to Australia by boat in the past 14 months, documents obtained under freedom of information reveal.

The documents, from the federal home affairs department, record the number of “foreign law enforcement agency” (FLEA) disruptions since 2013.

FLEA disruptions were set up as one of three components of the Abbott government’s border policy – alongside boat turnbacks and offshore detention and processing.

Since the establishment of the new policy there have been 78 disruption operations involving 2,525 “potential illegal immigrants” – the terms used in the documents referencing suspected passengers.

In the year to August there were 10 disruptions involving 297 people, the majority occurring in Indonesia but also in Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

FLEA disruptions are operated by a multi-agency taskforce led by Australian federal police and reporting to the head of Australia’s border enforcement operation, air vice marshal Stephen Osborne, and seek to prevent vessels carrying asylum seekers from leaving international ports including Indonesia.

The taskforce has stationed more than a dozen extra liaison officers in various countries, on top of almost 100 already there, targeting known transport hubs, Guardian Australia understands.

The operations involved weeks or months of intelligence gathering on individual plans for people-smuggling ventures, before local authorities intercepted groups – usually just prior to the point of departure.

The freedom of information documents note 614 arrests since September 2013, as well as 14 arrest warrants.

Most arrests – 489 – occurred in Sri Lanka, followed by 48 in Malaysia and 66 in Indonesia. Thirteen of the 14 arrest warrants were issued in Indonesia.

However the document notes the statistics are “indicative only” as they were provided by AFP posts from advice given by foreign law enforcement.

“Post experience is that results are typically under-reported because arrests in regional locations are occasionally not reported.”

Asher Hirsch, senior policy advisor with the Refugee Council of Australia, said the fact Australia was still working with Indonesian authorities to stop asylum seekers getting on boats “highlights the desperation of people there”.

“Refugees in Indonesia have no basic rights and are living in indefinite limbo and uncertainty. Instead of interceptions and disruptions of potential boat journeys, the Australian government should work with the Indonesian government to ensure refugees have the right to work, education and healthcare, and can remain in Indonesia safely until they find another solution,” Hirsch said.

“A better way to spend this money would be to invest in helping refugees in Indonesia through local initiatives and increasing our resettlement program to share responsibility for refugee protection.”

Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention and has no status determination system of its own, and so asylum claims are assessed by the UNHCR.

As of December last year Indonesia was hosting around 13,800 refugees from 49 countries. About half originated from Afghanistan. At least 800 more have arrived in 2018.

The International Organisation for Migration has provided basic healthcare and shelter for around two-thirds of the refugee and asylum seeker population in Indonesia since 2000, under a regional cooperation arrangement between the organisation, Indonesia and Australia.

However in March the Australian government announced it was cutting funding to the IOM, saying it did not want Indonesia to be a “pull factor” for asylum seekers.

In 2017 only 763 people were resettled in a third country from Indonesia, more than half in Australia, according to the Refugee Council of Australia. The US settled 228, but has since cut its resettlement program from more than 96,000 to 30,000.

The IOM also administered the Australia-funded Assisted Voluntary Returns program, offering asylum seekers $2,000 plus airfares to return to their country of origin.

The Australian government refuses to resettle any refugee who arrives in Australia by boat.

Under the other two arms of Operation Sovereign Borders, Australian customs and authorities intercept and return vessels to their point of origin, “when it is safe to do so”, and have in the past commissioned replica Asian fishing vessels to put passengers on when their own vessel is unsafe. Australia was previously using orange lifeboats to do this.

Offshore processing has seen thousands of men, women and children held in detention centres on Christmas Island, Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, and Nauru, in many cases for longer than five years.


Climate, economy on govt agenda: Cormann

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has dismissed a colleague's concern that the Liberal Party needs to do more about climate change to gain support from younger Australians.

WA Liberal senator Dean Smith says the party's diminishing appeal to young voters is the "elephant in the party room" and is being ignored at the government's peril, The Australian reports.

"We are dealing with climate change," Senator Cormann told the ABC on Tuesday. "But in a way that doesn't undermine the opportunity for young people in particular to get a job, to build a career in Australia into the future.

"My view and our view is that we have to continue to take strong and effective action in relation to climate change but in a way that is economically responsible."

Senator Smith's concerns were reportedly fuelled after a Newspoll analysis showed 27 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds would hand their primary vote to the coalition, compared with 46 per cent who would support Labor.

Population and climate change policies were critical to the coalition's future success, he added.

Greens senator Larissa Waters says the federal government wouldn't know a climate policy "if it hit them in the face". "Young people can spot bullshit artists a mile off, so it's no wonder that young people don't buy the nonsense this prime minister is coming out with on climate," she told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. "The tragedy is, it's actually better for the economy to transition to clean energy."

A new report on climate change shows it has fuelled the drought, with changing rainfall patterns increasing the risk of water shortages for agricultural and urban uses.

The Climate Council [A private Leftist outfit] report released on Tuesday found the flow of water in the Murray-Darling Basin has declined by 41 per cent during the past 20 years, with fears it will continue to decrease. The catchment produces more than a third of Australia's food.

With no federal climate policy and rising emissions every quarter since March 2015, Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world on climate action, the Climate Council's Lesley Hughes told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.


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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Security expert says we’re ‘feeding the beasts’ of terror with shoot-to-kill policy

As happens every time, somebody says the terrorist was mentally ill.  And that is true in one way.  He was certainly deviant from the norm.  The important point however is that when a Muslim feels out of sorts in some way for some reason he tends to see that as a call to Jihad.  Jihad provides an answer to your truobles that will send you straight to Paradise. Attacking unbelievers rewards people with problems.  So Islam is still the problem in these attacks

The claim that his actions were a cry for help is complete BS.  You don't load your car up with gas cylinders and try to explode them in a busy street as a cry for help.  He wanted to kill unbelievers and go to Paradise.  That is all

Karl Stefanovic has launched a scathing attack on the “timid” critics who wanted police to refrain from shooting a knife-wielding terrorist.

As a debate rages over Australia’s response to Friday’s sickening terror attack in Melbourne, Karl Stefanovic has backed police and launched a scathing attack on their “timid” critics.

The Today co-host praised said he felt sorry for the young police officers who were forced to shoot the knife-wielding terrorist dead.

He said they were “consumed” by a “politically correct” message from the public — which dictates that they should try to keep the terrorist alive.

“People (were) yelling, ‘Shoot him, shoot him’ they tried their best not to,” he said this morning. “I reckon, on second thought, someone comes at police with a knife you shoot them dead straight away?

“You know what the courage of the cops, this is a reminder again of what our police do. The first there, first to deal with it, fighting back. I’m amazed. Who would be a police officer? Who would be a police officer and they do it and they do it without complaint.”

“They do it sometimes with the public hating them. But they’re the first you call when you need them and they were the first to respond. I salute them this morning.”

The rant came after a counter-terrorism expert said Australia is leaving itself wide open to future attacks by training police to shoot terrorists dead.

Dr Allan Orr, a counter-terrorism and insurgency specialist who is researching and writing on the Sydney cafe siege — said Australia is “feeding the beasts” of terror and failing to prevent future attacks by giving cops shoot-to-kill advice instead of shoot-to-injure training.

He recommended creating a British-style rapid response anti-terror unit — with high powered weapons and access to helicopters — and powers to track people on terrorist watch lists to prevent more extremist attacks.

“These specialist police would be completely armed, unseen and just minutes away from the scene of an attack,” he told Fairfax.  “In the UK these frontline officers don’t deal with anything else but counter-terrorism, so they’ve got their play book down to response times of two minutes.”

The call comes in response to a deadly attack in Melbourne’s Bourke Street on Friday by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali — a Muslim refugee from Somalia. Ali crashed his car full of gas cylinders before stabbing three people, killing prominent Italian restaurateur Sisto Malaspina.

As Melbourne mourns over the tragic consequences of the deadly attack, a fierce debate is raging over how tough our immigration laws should be.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is advocating a tough-line approach which would allow the government to more easily deport residents before they become ­citizens. “I’ve been very open about the cancellation of visas, the numbers have ramped up, because there are some people who should not go on to become Australian citizens,’’ he said yesterday.

“The law applies differently, ­obviously, to someone who has ­Australian citizenship, by conferral or births, as opposed to someone here on a temporary status because they are the holder of a particular visa category.”

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has backed the call, according to the Herald Sun. “Deportation and the cancellation of visas are matters for the Commonwealth government, but we certainly support this action being taken against extremists and those who wish to do us harm,” he said.

Ali was known to federal police and had his passport cancelled in 2015 amid fears the Somali-born man would travel to Syria.

“It is important for us to get as much information from the imams, from spouses, family members, community members, council workers, people that might be interacting with those that might have changed their behaviours, that they think have been radicalised,” Mr Dutton told reporters in Brisbane.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he backs religious freedoms but has also called on Islamic leaders to call out the attack.

Those remarks that have in turn been labelled divisive by Muslim groups who say their community is not to blame for the actions of an individual and fear it could stoke Islamophobia.

“It is extremely disappointing in such difficult times and during a national tragedy, when all Australians of all faiths and backgrounds should be called upon to unite and stand together against any form of extremism and violence, to see our nation’s leader politicising this incident and using it for political gain,” the Australian National Imams Council said in a statement on Sunday.

Mr Dutton says the government’s community engagement programs have worked in building solid relationships with members of the public who have provided critical intelligence that has helped stop other attacks, but that there were still gaps in information gathering.

The family of a popular Melbourne restaurateur who was killed in the Bourke Street terror attack has been offered a state funeral as the city continues to mourn the tragedy.

Hundreds of flowers and cards line the footpath outside of Pellegrini’s restaurant as staff let mourners know the tributes would be passed on to the family of Mr Malaspina.

The 74-year-old man was walking down Bourke St, just a few hundred metres from the business he had run for more than 40 years, when he was caught up in the horrific attack.

Mr Andrews spoke to the family of Mr Malaspina and offered a state funeral.

Tasmanian businessman Rod Patterson and a 24-year-old security guard were also injured in the attack.

The attacker’s family has said the man had mental health problems in a note to reporters.

“Hassan suffered from mental illness for years and refused help. He’s been deteriorating these past few months,” a note given to Nine News showed. “Please stop turning this into a political game. This isn’t a guy who had any connections with terrorism but was simply crying for help,” it read.


How Australian shark attack prevention technology can stop deaths

Greenies want us to leave the sharks alone so try to obstruct shark control measures

In the past 50 days, Australia’s east coast has witnessed five serious shark attacks, one fatal.

In September, Tasmanian mum Justine Barwick and 12-year-old Victorian Hannah Papps were both attacked in separate incidents in the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland.

A month later, a shark latched onto the arm of a mine worker off a New South Wales nudist beach, north of Newcastle, that resulted in him being admitted to hospital.

Last Monday, Daniel Christidis, a 33-year-old Victorian urologist, was also bitten by a shark in Cid Harbour in the Whitsundays on the first day of a yachting holiday. He didn’t survive the attack.

Three days later, another shark dragged a surfer from his board on NSW’s far north coast and left him with a 20cm bite wound on his calf.

The spate of incidents has sparked an urgent meeting between multiple levels of Queensland government, tourism representatives and marine experts to try and work out how to best prevent swimmers in the future being mauled.

The discussions have spanned everything from culls to better education of tourists and the possible use of a world-first technology designed to replace shark nets and drum lines.

There’s no real answer, yet.

“I don’t think scientists really have the answer at the moment, unfortunately. That’s what has people perplexed,” Perth-based shark biologist Amanda Elizabeth told

So far this year 22 shark attacks have been recorded around Australia, according to data provided to by Taronga Zoo. Ten of those occurred in Western Australia, seven in NSW, four in Queensland and another in Victoria.

How are attacks being prevented?

In Australia, there is a shift away from traditional prevention methods like shark nets and drum line bait traps to new technologies designed to ward the creatures off.

Ocean Guardian is an Australian company that develops the Shark Shield technology – the world’s only electrical deterrent system that emits electromagnetic pulses into water to scare off sharks.

“Sharks have these small little electrical receptors in their snout, they also have sight, smell and hearing, but they use these electrical receptors, the same we use touch,” Mr Lyon said.

“We create a very powerful electrical field, which causes the receptors to spasm, they get oversensitive and it turns the shark away.

According to Mr Lyon, the technology is the way forward, but has only been supported on a government level by Western Australia.

In WA, residents who buy Shark Shield packs for diving or surfing are offered government-backed rebates.

“Australia is known as the shark attack capital of the world and it affects our tourism by one percent - it costs the Australian economy nearly half-a-billion dollars a year.

“Technology is an answer, and it’s been proven to be an answer, so let’s embrace it and move on.


Craig Kelly MP mocks climate change 'exaggeration' in presentation to Liberal party members

Coral bleaching has been happening for centuries, threats of rising sea levels to countries such as the Maldives and Tuvalu are greatly exaggerated and temperature gains have been grossly exaggerated by scientists.

These are the assessments of the member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, who is part of a Tony Abbott-led speaking campaign to pull the Liberal party back from the centre.

The Guardian has obtained a tape of a presentation by Kelly at the right-aligned Mosman branch of the Liberal party in September that outlines in detail his climate scepticism.

Abbott himself was meant to be the star billing but was unable to attend, leaving Kelly and New South Wales senator Jim Molan to occupy centre stage, after running a gauntlet of about 100 demonstrators who turned up to protest against the Liberal party’s lack of policy on climate change.

Kelly’s PowerPoint presentation veered between mocking “the lefties” and arguing that there was no need to tackle climate change because its impact had been grossly overblown.

“Here we are in Paris, France,” he said of his first slide. “A whole lot of lefties here celebrating the Paris agreement, the achievement of the day.”

Kelly then said the debate about global warming was about trying to get “better weather, and that people wanted to dial down the CO2 knob.

“It’s CO2 we are talking about: it’s what turns water into soda water, its what makes chardonnay into champagne,” he said derisively, before claiming that the consensus view among the world’s scientists that the planet was warming was wrong.

Kelly said that “30 years ago, the temperature was the same globally about where it was today” – even though the Bureau of Meteorology and other international agencies estimate the planet has already warmed more than 1 degree in the past century.

“The reality is we live in a time where our generation has never ever been as safe from the climate because of fossil fuels, concrete and steel,” Kelly said. “The climate was always dangerous. We didn’t make it dangerous.”

He also claimed “coral bleaching was a centuries-old problem, science tells us” and that warnings about the polar icecaps were not borne out. While he acknowledged there had been some shrinking in the Arctic, he said this year the north-west passage had been closed owing to ice.

Kelly, who was a furniture salesman before he entered parliament, also cited a study that said Tuvalu was growing not sinking. The peer-reviewed study shows the island’s land mass has grown owing to sedimention and reef growth, but Kelly ignored part of the same study that said climate change remained the single biggest threat to the low-lying Pacific islands and their future.

As for Australia’s Paris target, Kelly said it was “the most onerous of any nation in the world because of our high rates of population growth”, and the Labor party planned to wreck the economy with its proposal to set a target of 45% reduction by 2030.

The chief scientist, Alan Finkel, had said Australia on its own could not change the world’s climate, Kelly said.

Now that “the US was out” of the Paris agreement, and “China and India weren’t doing anything”, Australia had “an escape clause” and it should use it.


Attorney-General argues limits to public servant free speech justified

The Coalition government has fired the opening shots in a High Court clash over limits to free speech for public servants, telling judges that good government depends on bureaucrats keeping their political views private.

Attorney-General Christian Porter launched a defence of a government decision to sack an Immigration Department worker for anonymous tweets about Australia's asylum seeker policy, and sought to justify the burden it imposed on free expression.

In a case that could weaken or entrench the bureaucracy's limits on political commentary from public servants, lawyers for the Attorney-General told the court on Wednesday the restrictions protected and enhanced responsible and representative government.

The freedom of speech implied in Australia's constitution accommodated the need for an apolitical public service and rules enshrining the importance of the bureaucracy, Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue, arguing for the government, said.

These combined to suggest that "burdens on political communication by public servants may be more readily justified than similar burdens on other groups," he said.

"The imposition of such burdens on public servants promotes the functioning of the system of government for which the constitution provides."

Public servants work under rules requiring them to uphold the bureaucracy's integrity, impartiality and good reputation, and governments have limited their free political expression in Australia since before federation.

An appeals tribunal decision in April threw into question the federal public service's ability to enforce limits to free speech, finding the Immigration Department's 2013 dismissal of former bureaucrat Michaela Banerji was unlawful because it intruded on her right to free political expression.

Mr Donaghue denied the Australian Public Service prohibited its staff from holding or expressing opinions, but said rules designed to promote a professional bureaucracy, willing to serve governments of different political views, put justified limits on their free speech.

Public servants had to work in a detached manner, unaffected by their political beliefs, but they could still hold views. The limits to their expression extended as far as required by a code designed to keep their workplaces impartial and professional.

"The burden upon political communication arising from the code is not correctly identified as a prohibition on APS members expressing political opinions. The code is more nuanced," Mr Donaghue said.

He also rejected an Administrative Appeals Tribunal finding that guidelines stopping public servants from publicly criticising the government should not be applied to anonymous comments.

"While a communication that is critical of the APS may have more weight if known to have been made by a member of the APS, such statements may damage the 'good reputation' of the APS even if it is not known who made the relevant communications," he said.

Exempting anonymous comments from rules limiting bureaucrats' free political speech would raise problems for the government by creating an "area of immunity" for misconduct.

Mr Porter intervened in the case after Ms Banerji won an appeal against the federal workplace insurer's refusal to compensate her for the psychological condition that developed after she was sacked over tweets from a pseudonymous Twitter account with the handle @LaLegale.

He removed the government's Federal Court appeal against the finding and sent it to the High Court, flagging the case's potential to undermine the government's policy stopping public servants from expressing their political views on social media.

Ms Banerji was working in the Immigration Department when co-workers learnt she was behind tweets railing against the government's treatment of asylum seekers.

She lost a high-profile attempt to stop her dismissal in the Federal Circuit Court in 2013, a decision seen as likely to curtail other bureaucrats' use of social media when judge Warwick Neville found Australians had no "unfettered implied right (or freedom) of political expression".

Her tweets did not disclose confidential departmental information, but an internal Immigration Department investigation in 2012 found she had breached the code of conduct for government employees.

Lawyers for Ms Banerji are expected to respond to the Attorney-General's arguments in early December.


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

Monday, November 12, 2018

My Macquarie Uni talk shows why universities can't win

Bettina Arndt

Well, I have just completed the final talk in my Fake Rape Campus tour for this year– at Macquarie University in Sydney. Macquarie is a pretty snoozy place, a far less political campus than Sydney university and it is currently exam time so the event was much quieter than previous ones. It went pretty well, with about 60 people showing up and no protesters.

For the previous few weeks feminists had been very actively pull down posters promoting the event but the Liberal Club students hosting my talk did a great job getting more posters out there. That’s the main point of the whole exercise – not simply persuading people to show up for the event but getting the message out to ordinary students the universities are misleading them about the safety of their campuses – and demonising young men in the process.   

The student newspaper put the usual feminist spin on what I am doing, claiming the Human Rights Commission figures understate the problem because rape victims won’t come forward. That’s an argument that surely doesn’t hold up when it comes to a totally confidential, anonymous survey. But at Macquarie the activists had the bright idea of holding an event supporting rape survivors at the same time as my talk – and a far more peaceful time was had by all.

I’m posting just a small segment of the Q&A, where I was questioned by a rape victim. It’s only a few minutes long but I think you will find it illuminating. 

We are not allowing comments to be posted about this video because I don’t want my questionner to receive personal attacks. However I thought this was a very interesting exchange, illustrating very clearly that the whole campus rape narrative is being driven by people, some with very sad histories, who have no interest in evidence or facts but are determined to promote their ideological position that our campuses are crawling with rapists. They are now actively seeking to drum up new data which supports their position, conveniently dismissing the Human Rights’ Commission survey which failed to produce evidence of a rape crisis. It shows so clearly that despite the strenuous efforts of our universities to appease these people, there is no way they are ever going to be satisfied.  

It is quite frightening that the whole higher education sector appears to believe they can enhance their public reputation by kowtowing to this dangerous minority group – selling out young men in the process. It makes me all the more determined to push ahead with my campus tour next year. I now have student groups across the country keen on hosting more talks – which will roll out from the start of first semester next year. We are looking at ways of circulating proper information about the campus rape issue, organising meetings with university administrators, talking to staff and alumni groups as well as students.

Senator Amanda Stoker

Then there’s action following Senator Amanda Stoker’s excellent efforts to raise questions about the violent Sydney University protest in Senate Estimates.  We’ve organised for TEQSA, the body responsible for monitoring universities’ compliance with regulations, to be given all the evidence for Sydney University’s failure to protect student safety and control unruly students. It will be nice to see this arrogant institution facing some tough questions and we have other plans if the current approach fails to achieve any results. 

Gunning for me

Some of you may remember a video interview I posted last year with Nico Bester, a teacher who served time in prison for having a sexual relationship with one of his older students. He rightly paid the price for doing something very wrong. I interviewed him because I object to the fact that having served prison time for his offence he has now become the poster boy for the #MeToo activists who are conducting a ferocious campaign to try to stop him finishing his PhD at Tasmania University.

This week the activists have launched  the latest stage in their campaign, arguing in numerous newspaper articles that his victim should be allowed to “fight back,” by openly telling her story. At present Tasmanian laws prohibit the media from naming her. The irony is we recently removed Bester’s video after discovering the material we presented included a tiny image of her face, taken from her Facebook page, which apparently was most distressing for the victim.

It seems rather odd that she is now demanding Tasmania changes its laws so her identity can be publicly revealed. Sixty Minutes is currently promoting a teaser for this week’s programme which includes a highly selective segment from my video interview with Bester. Rest assured they’ll be doing their best to discredit me in every way possible. My campus tour is making me a very big target!

Via email

Latest Melbourne terrorist attack: Scott Morrison slammed for Islam remarks by an Australian Leftist politician of Egyptian origin

Says we should not worry about Jihadi attacks because there are other bigger sources of violence -- a classical fallacy

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been slammed for his remarks singling out radical Islam in the wake of the Bourke Street terror attack.

Labor MP and counter-terrorism expert Anne Aly said the PM’s response to the events in Melbourne was ignorant and “politically desperate”, after he called Islamic extremism the greatest threat to Australia’s national security.

“There is no country that is immune to the threat of terrorism,” Dr Aly told Sky News. [So?]

“I don’t care how politically desperate you are, now is not the right time to divide the community.”

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Morrison said he could not speak of Friday’s attack in Melbourne, which left an innocent man dead, two others stabbed and a car bomb driven into the CBD, without naming the threat of “radical, violent, extremist Islam” behind it.

Somalian-born terrorist Khalif Shire Ali, 30, had links to Islamic State and had been radicalised, according to police.

“Here in Australia, we would be kidding ourselves if we did not call out the fact that the greatest threat of religious extremism in this country is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam,” Mr Morrision said.

But Dr Aly, a Professorial Fellow and former Associate Professor at Curtin University, said Mr Morrison needed to do “a little bit of terrorism 101 … and know what he’s talking about before he starts dividing communities and pointing fingers at radical Islam.”

“Yes, violent jihadism has been the predominant aspect of the religious wave of terrorism (of) the last 40 years or so (but) is it the biggest threat here in Australia in terms of violence and victims of violence? The biggest victims of violence in Australia aren’t victims of violent terrorism, they are victims of domestic violence. [So?]

“When we look at all forms of violence, violence perpetrated by violent jihadists — or radical Islam as the Prime Minister wants to put it — pales in comparison to the number of women who are being killed every week in domestic and partner violence.”

Dr Aly said Mr Morrison had also missed an important distinction between cognitive extremism and behavioural extremism.

“Now every researcher, every academic, every practitioner and every person in law enforcement knows that being extreme doesn’t always necessarily lead to violence,” she said.

“In fact we have many case of people have become violent but have not shown a process of extremism or radicalisation. We also have examples of people who are extreme, who we may consider holding extreme beliefs, extreme world views who have never become violent.”

Mr Morrison yesterday told Australians to “keep being yourselves, keep being Australians,” while urging Islamic religious leaders to protect their communities to ensure “dangerous teachings and ideologies” didn’t spread in Australia.

“They must be proactive, they must be alert and they must call this out in their communities,” he said, adding the government and wider community needed to work respectfully with them.

But Dr Aly said singling out Muslim leaders to do more was a cheap political shot.

Australian Federal Police yesterday revealed Shire Ali was known to authorities for his extremist views, and had had his passport cancelled in 2015 following an attempt to travel to Syria. But he was not considered a national security threat went unmonitored after that time.

AFP national manager of counter-terrorism Ian McCartney admitted the Bourke Street attack had come as a wake-up call to authorities.

“The event yesterday for us is a reality check, even with the fall of the Caliphate … the threat continues to be real,” he said.

Beloved restranteur Sisto Malaspina, co-owner of Melbourne’s iconic Pellegrino’s espresso bar, stabbed to death just a few hundred metres from the premises after trying to assist Shire Ali when he stepped out of a burning car on Bourke Street on Friday afternoon.

Two others were also stabbed before Shire Ali was filmed lunging wildly at police with a knife. He was shot by a junior officer and later died in hospital.


Australian curriculum reform must be based on evidence, not fads

The NSW school curriculum review is no trivial matter, and will have serious consequences for the state’s students. The importance of the curriculum – what students are expected to know and be able to do at each stage of school – by far outweighs jousting over funding, although it gets far less public attention.

Curriculum development is a balancing act and involves compromises and trade-offs. Children spend a limited number of hours in class each year, and there are many competing demands for this time: from foundational skills in literacy and numeracy, to general knowledge of the world and its history, health and physical activity, using technology, and now so-called general capabilities such as collaboration and creativity.

This balancing act is growing more fraught. There is strong advocacy to add to an already crowded curriculum in significant ways. Decisions have to be made about what to keep and what to jettison. These decisions must made with advice from subject matter experts, without recourse to superficial and dangerous propositions such as that from “21st-Century skills pioneer” Charles Fadel, who recently suggested trigonometry should be out and mindfulness should be in.

Care must be taken that curriculum does not implicitly or explicitly prescribe teaching methods. In theory, curriculum is agnostic about teaching. It specifies the content students should learn and the skills they should master, but does not state how these things should be taught.

The Australian curriculum says children should learn to calculate percentages by the end of Year 4, but has nothing to say about whether this should be learned sitting at a desk or playing in a sandpit. Schools make judgments about which teaching strategies are most likely to be effective.

However, in reality a curriculum can and often does encourage certain teaching practices. An example is the recommendation in the second ‘Gonski’ report to “strengthen the development of the general capabilities, and raise their status within curriculum delivery, by using learning progressions to support clear and structured approaches to their teaching, assessment, reporting and integration with learning areas”.

Creating a set of learning progressions is not a straightforward exercise. It heightens the influence of curriculum on teaching methods, and drives a particular approach to assessment. The Gonski report proposes “developing the general capabilities into learning progressions that will provide a detailed picture of students’ increasing proficiency.”

There are two risks in this. One is that it will authorise and promulgate the misguided notion that general capabilities are independent of knowledge of facts and concepts – including the fallacy that “learning how to learn” is the ultimate goal of school education.

The other is that the proposed policies and practices overshoot the existing evidence base, and therefore risk wasting valuable time and resources – not least the time of teachers who generally
already have a heavy administrative workload, and that of students whose education is at stake.

The general capabilities listed in the Australian curriculum – digital capability, critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, intercultural understanding, and ethical understanding – are inarguably valuable for the world of work and for life more broadly. The crucial questions are whether they are really generic skills that can be conceptually sequenced on developmental progressions, and if they can be taught and assessed separate from content knowledge. The evidence at the moment suggests the answer to both questions is no.


Australia's little socialist republic in Canberra goes rogue on religion

This week the ACT has proved yet again that Canberrans are living in a world of their own.

Our little socialist republic has gone ahead and passed a bill aimed at eliminating the legal exemptions to the anti-discrimination laws pertaining to freedom of religion aimed at schools and other religious institutions.

The exemptions have been branded by the Barr government as “loopholes” although they were deliberately included in the original anti-discrimination legislation to give religious institutions freedom to run the institutions on religious principles. What is more, the ACT has gone its own way, despite the commonwealth government having yet to respond to the Ruddock review, pre-­empting any changes the commonwealth may make.

It has always been the stated aim of the Greens and the left of Labor to get rid of the exemptions to anti-discrimination law. The last thing Mark Dreyfus did as­ ­attorney-general was to eliminate the never-used exemptions in religious aged care. That was a warning for Labor’s future conduct.

The timely leaking of parts of the Ruddock review and the “who knew?” outrage that accompanied the leak were deliberately engineered and have given the green-Left the impetus it was seeking to eliminate the exemptions.

In Canberra, where 40 per cent of children are in independent schools, it will have the effect of restricting the freedom of parents in the choice of school, accomplished under the mantle of eliminating “discrimination” and encouraging “diversity”. It limits parents’ right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, all of which are part of the international covenants to which Australia is a signatory.

This was blatantly admitted in an accompanying speech by Shane Rattenbury, who sponsored the bill: “The amendments will engage and limit the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief. They engage and potentially limit the right of parents to ensure the religious and moral education of a child in conformity with their convictions. However, in the context of the scheme of the Discrimination Act as a whole, these limitations are reasonable and proportionate in accordance with s28 of the Human Rights Act.”

This is Rattenbury’s interpretation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

No one should forget what happened to Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous, who was hauled up to a human rights board for disseminating Catholic doctrine on marriage. The archbishop was a victim of the human rights apparatus that has redefined and limited our rights. Advocates of human rights, and especially advocates on human rights commissions, are very keen to talk about “balance”.

However, the real problem is that the human rights apparatus, encompassing all the various commissions and boards, has been allowed to override fundamental human rights in favour of the rights of special interest groups. The Porteous case was the most blatant example of this.

All rights are important — religion, speech and right of minorities not to suffer discrimination — but the legal structure is skewed in favour of rights that appeal to identified groups (24 in fact), not the broader community. We have given priority to a handful of rights while ignoring the impact on rights that are just as important. Hence, the fundamental right of parents to educate their children in accordance with their moral and religious views is potentially compromised by the palaver about “balance” in the ACT legislation.

Freedom of religion is one of our foundation constitutional principles. Despite talk of the “private” practice of religion and those whingers of the freedom-from-­religion camp, the manifest practice of religion cannot be separated from freedom to “private” practice of religion. One must accept religion is not something separate from daily life. Belief must be manifest in thought, in conscience, which guides morality, and in speech.

Silencing religion in the public square is not just about silencing bishops; it is about silencing lay men and women. Governments have already begun to interfere in individual conscience in ways acceptable only in the worst totalitarian regimes. Victoria has overridden the right to freedom of conscience by requiring doctors to refer patients for abortion.

Religious bodies should not be subject to legislation that affects their foundation principles but, then, religious bodies should not have to rely on exemptions. The anti-religion activists have been allowed to set the terms of the debate by accepting the outrageous assertion that manifestations of religious freedom are, at law, mere incidents of discrimination that are permissible only because of exemptions in the law. Once they fell into that error, a bad outcome for religious freedom was assured.

The starting point for the debate must be that religious freedom is a fundamental human right — the position in international law. If this right is given only lukewarm recognition, the inroads on religious freedom will get only worse. Using the interpretative clauses in anti-discrimination laws to refer to the importance of religion is much weaker than a stand-alone act that asserts that everyone has the right to privateand public manifestations of religious belief.

This would change the debate as manifestations of religion would no longer be an exemption from laws against discrimination but a manifestation of a right accepted by federal law. Schools would no longer be allowed to “discriminate” but would be allowed to exercise a right to religious freedom.

The leaking of the Ruddock review was part of a campaign to scare the government in advance of the report’s full release. There seems little appetite to declare freedom of religion as a full right. However, those who fear such a law as the harbinger of a bill of rights should think again. There is a greater fear we will have a half-hearted ­response to the issue and lose a vital part of our freedom.


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

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Australians are the richest people in the world

This is only superficially true.  It mainly reflects the high price of real estate in the capital cities.  Almost any home-owner in Sydney, for instance, is a millionaire. 

Travellers will tell you that just about everything in the USA is cheaper while it is dearer in Britain.  So dollar wealth is not comparable across countries anyway.  Purchasing power figures are available but there is no mention of them being used below

The United States is home to more millionaires than any other country in the world. But whether the country is truly the wealthiest in the world depends on how you measure. Judging by where the greatest number of people are well off, Australia is taking the top spot.

A report released by Credit Suisse in October says the US is “in the lead” when it comes to global wealth. Yet a closer look at the numbers in that report reveals a different story.

While it’s true that wealth in the US is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, it’s not the richest when you compare the average amount of wealth per adult.

That prize goes to Switzerland, as you can see in the map below. Australia is in second place, ahead of the US.

Wait a minute, you may be thinking: it looks like Switzerland is richer than Australia. And the US is doing pretty well too. So what’s with the headline?

The ranking above divides a country’s overall wealth by the total population. That means it doesn’t reflect the fact that in the US, for example, the top 0.1 per cent of US households hold as much wealth as the bottom 90 per cent.

“The United States has the most members of the top 1 per cent global wealth group, and currently accounts for 41 per cent of the world’s millionaires,” Credit Suisse's report notes. “Our research indicates that the United States added 878,000 new millionaires [since 2017] – representing around 40 per cent of the global increase.”

But a different, perhaps fairer, way to rank the richest countries in the world is to take a look at the countries where the greatest number of people are rich.

Credit Suisse ran those numbers, too, in order to compare how much wealth the median, middle-of-the-pack person has in every country.

In that ranking, Australians are the richest. And the US doesn’t even make the top 10.

By this measure, Australia comes out on top, with median wealth of $US191,453 ($263,822) per adult. The US has a median wealth of $US61,667 ($84,977) per adult, which puts the country at number 18, well behind others, including the UK ($US97,169), Canada ($U106,342), and New Zealand ($US98,613).


More black Muslim mayhem in Melbourne

What will it take to show the do-gooders that black Muslims are too much of a risk to have in Australia?  How many innocent people have to die?

A Melbourne cafe legend was stabbed to death during a terrorist's knife rampage through Bourke Street that injured two others before police gunned the Somali immigrant down.

Sisto Malaspina, 74, was murdered by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, 30, as he ran to help what he thought was a car crash victim just blocks from his iconic Pellegrini's coffee shop about 4.20pm on Friday.

However, Khalif had deliberately crashed his Holden Rodeo that was loaded with gas canisters and set the car alight after mounting the pavement near the Swanson Street intersection.

By trying to do a good deed, Mr Malaspina became the murderous knifeman's first victim. Soon two others would also be stabbed before Khalif attacked police.

Video shot from the scene showed the frenzied attack that carried on for more than a minute as Khalif chased the officers around as they tried to convince him to surrender, before finally shooting him.

Police said Khalif was inspired by ISIS to commit jihad, but they were unsure if he had direct contrast with the terrorist group. ISIS claimed his as one of their own, but often falsely associate themselves with lone wolf attacks.

Khalif's passport was cancelled in 2015 after he was flagged as one of 300 potential security risks when he it was discovered he planned to travel to Syria.

An AFP spokesman said in a press conference late on Saturday morning that though Khalif was on their radar, police decided not to intervene. 'While he held radical ideals, he didn't hold a threat,' he said.

His family were known to counter-terror agencies and believed to have ties with North African extremist groups.

His brother Ali Khalif Shire Ali was arrested in November 2017 over an alleged planned New Year's Eve attack on Federation Square.

Heartbroken friends and longtime customers left floral tributes to the slain food icon outside the Pellegrini's, just down Bourke Street near the Exhibition Street intersection.

Staff were in shock and a sign on the door said the cafe would be closed until November 12, with police standing guard outside.

Mr Malaspina's body was on Friday seen lying in the street covered by a white sheet with a bare foot sticking out after bystanders unsuccessfully tried to save his life.


Australia's new labour scheme for Pacific Islanders gets underway

As the Morrison government tries to prove it is stepping up its role in the Pacific, 80 Pacific Islanders have spent their first months working in regional parts of Australia under a new labour program.

Talimanatu Uilese is among the new arrivals and is working as a deckhand on a commercial fishing boat in coastal New South Wales.

He arrived in Australia in August from the small Pacific island nation of Tuvalu and has already been surprised by the different fishing methods used in his home country compared to those in Australia.

“They use live bait and calamari for catching tuna, but in Tuvalu we make our own bait,” Mr Uilese told SBS News.

Under the new Pacific Labour Scheme, he is able to stay in Australia for up to three years.

“We see this as very much a win-win,” Assistant Minister for the Pacific, Anne Ruston, told SBS News. “Obviously we are getting a great source of fantastic labour… but equally, we can be training these workers when they come to Australia so that when they return home to their countries they have got the kinds of skills that are going to assist in capacity building in their own country.”

Mr Uilese is earning 10 times more than his usual wage back home and told SBS News he plans to build a house when he eventually returns.  He has left his wife and four children in Tuvalu. His youngest is just ten months old.

“The main reason why I am here is for my children's future,” he said. “It is very hard for me but on the other side, it is better for me to earn money than stay back home without doing anything.”

A total of 2,000 Pacific Islanders are expected to arrive in Australia by mid next year but numbers will be capped annually after that, depending on demand.

The aim is to strengthen relations with some of Australia’s closest neighbours and boost workforce numbers in the primary industries that need it.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a foreign policy reset on the Pacific in Townsville on Thursday, saying: “Australia is committed to building on labour mobility opportunities for Pacific countries to Australia and ensuring that Pacific countries take priority.”

The access to extra staff is vital for local industries including Steve Basile’s third-generation fishing business in the NSW town of Ulladulla. Half of his staff members are foreign workers and without them, he told SBS News his business would fold. “We would not have a business. The boats would be tied up to the wharf or sold and we would be doing something else,” he said.

Tuna Australia CEO David Ellis said fishing and tourism were traditional Pacific industries. “What this scheme does is allow them to get the skills in using the commercial equipment and be able to take that back,” Mr Ellis said.

The Pacific Labour Scheme was first announced at the Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa last year by then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The labour scheme will run alongside an existing program that brings in farm workers from the region with around 8,500 arriving in the last financial year.


Finally, Western civilisation finds champions at the University of Sydney

Only time will tell whether this week marks the turning point when cool reason defeated hotter heads at the University of Sydney. Those trying to secure more diverse views on campus and greater choice for students to study the great books of Western civilisation are not pulling their punches any more. Too much is at stake.

Sydney University was once a place for robust debates and diverse views. It is, or at least was, the embodiment of thousands of years of human progress and learning from ancient Greece to the Roman Empire; from the spread of Christianity and the artistic, political and economic discoveries of Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. This is the rich, messy and splendidly complicated heritage of intellectual freedoms that underpin our liberal democracy.

As part of a $3 billion bequest by businessman Paul Ramsay, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is offering to fund a three-year degree where students study 30 of the great texts, from Homer and Chaucer to Marx and Virginia Woolf. The proposal includes about 40 scholarships of $30,000 to young students. The curriculum has not been finalised, nor has a memorandum of understanding been signed.

This has not deterred a small group of loud and irrational malcontents at Sydney University who are determined to stop negotiations dead in their tracks.

For months now, they have turned a debate into a one-sided diktat that the university must say no to Ramsay. They have spread wild claims, piled high with misrepresentation and misinformation. Unloading their double-barrelled loathing of the Ramsay Centre and Western civilisation, they have pitched themselves to other staff and students as moral guardians holding back barbarians from the university’s gates.

This week more reasoned ­voices pushed back against the real vandals, the hotheads inside the gates who run scared from div­erse opinions and competition by concocting conspiracy theories to scupper a Ramsay-funded degree. James Curran, professor of modern history, is one of those voices of reason.

“I’m speaking up now because of my concern that those more strident voices of opposition have unfortunately abandoned cool real­ism and calm detachment in responding to the Ramsay proposal,” Curran told The Australian on Thursday. “My bottom line is: a course such as this will complement much that is already being taught in the humanities at the university, not least the Faculty Scholars program.”

Curran says there is no evidence the intellectual autonomy of the university will be compromised. He also rejects claims the degree harbours a “three cheers for the West” ambition.

He challenges claims by professor of politics John Keane, who, says Curran, has been quoting “the British race patriot rhetoric of wartime prime minister John Curtin, implying that to support Ramsay is somehow to be advocating the recrudescence of the White Australia policy, or that it involves some kind of nostalgic harking back to or longing for the British Empire”.

“What?” says Curran with incredulity. “I am not sure where this kind of interpretation comes from. Thankfully Australia long ago dispensed with its British race character and instead wholeheartedly and enthusiastically embraced a new language and policy of tolerance and diversity.”

Curran says this country has an “ancient, rich and precious indigenous heritage” and that modern Australia, for good and ill, derives from a Western tradition that we have adapted to our environment and experience. He points to our interaction with the civilisations of the Asia-Pacific and elsewhere around the world.

Curran is speaking out after a meeting late last month where academics stridently opposed to Ramsay lined up on stage all shaking their heads in one direction. “Say ‘no’ to Ramsay,” they said, one after the other.

Professor of English literature John Frow said Western civilisation had “become code for a ­racially imagined culture under attack from racially imagined others”.

Academic Shima Shahbazi said: “The Ramsay Centre is structurally, institutionally, morally and epistemically violent to other knowledges, modernities, democracies and more importantly the indigenous history of the land.”

University of Western Sydney associate professor Alana Lentin claimed the Ramsay offer would compound the “wilful, knowing white ignorance that is leading us down the road to fascism while Liberals mindlessly bleat about the marketplace of ideas”.

In his open letter of October 3, Keane described Western civilisation as brimming with resentment. “It feels unshakeably arrogant, male and white,” he wrote. He said it was being “championed by fools (Boris Johnson) and arsonists (Nigel Farage)” and “these loudmouthed champions of Western civilisation are killing off its last remaining credibility”.

This is the stuff of political rallies. But remember these same ­academics are educating our children, the next generation of leaders and citizens.

On Wednesday at 10.04am, provost and deputy vice-chancellor Stephen Garton fired off an email to Keane, copied to members of the arts faculty and other staff. His exasperation is palpable. So is his determination to check a minority of politically charged and ideologically blinkered academics who want to scuttle an epochal funding offer to Sydney University. Garton’s 2000-plus-word response, along with Curran’s public intervention the next day, are pivotal developments. Finally, facts are gaining ground over emotion and fabrication.

In his response to an email Keane sent a week earlier, Garton’s confronts the “leaps of logic” and the “myths that frame some of the misrepresentations” running rife at the university. He addresses Keane’s “conspiracy theory thinking”, which is “lacking any evidence whatsoever”.

Garton objects to Keane’s “pejorative language of lucre” — a word that alludes to filthy money. You will find the word in the Bible, Titus 1:11, admonishing those who teach “things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake”.

“Is it lucre when we raise funds to support indigenous scholarships or research on childhood obesity?” Garton asks Keane.

“The logic of the argument … escapes me. Does this mean we shouldn’t accept funding for renal cancer because it is not also for bowel cancer, that we shouldn’t accept a chair in Celtic studies because it is not more broadly ­European studies, that we shouldn’t accept funding for a position in Near Eastern archeology because it is not also classical archaeology, that we wouldn’t accept it for medieval history ­because it ignores medieval ­philosophy?”

He assures Keane and other academics that the draft MOU will safeguard academic autonomy but laments that nothing will satisfy them except outright rejection of the proposal. Deploying his background in medical history, Garton likens some of their anxiety to “a type of Victorian ­miasma theory”.

“The frame of reference here is an implication that if we breathe any Ramsay air at all we will immediately become infected and diseased,” he writes. “I have far more confidence in the intellectual robustness and resilience of our colleagues than that.”

As to the claim by loathers of Western civilisation that core texts such as Plato, St Augustine, Locke, Chaucer and Shakespeare are “old-fashioned”, Garton admonishes their “dismaying dismissal of much that is good in what we do”. He defends “many of our finest colleagues” who teach such texts using depth, not breadth.

“To explore one set of intellectual traditions or one canon of texts does not devalue other traditions or textual canons,” writes Garton. He dismisses as equally irrational claims the new course will compete with other courses. “How a program with a very small commencing cohort (30 to 60) can threaten disciplines like history and English is equally puzzling,” Garton writes. “Are these disciplines really that vulnerable? If students are leaving these disciplines then they have more to worry about than Ramsay.”

Garton points out that existing teaching of the Western tradition is done in a piecemeal fashion. “None of it is stitched together as an overall program as the university does with, say, Asian studies or American studies.”

This point is critical to learning the real story of human progress. During a visit to Australia earlier this year, the historian and author of The English and Their History, Robert Tombs, said: “The West ravaged continents, burned heretics, invented the gas chamber and the atom bomb, and almost destroyed itself in two world wars. But when woven together the separate parts of Western civilisation explain how we learned to end slavery, defeat totalitarianism and grew ashamed of war, genocide and persecution.”

It is, says the historian who has taught at Cambridge for more than 50 years, “an action-packed adventure story, not a philosophical treatise”. And that is how it should be taught at school and university.


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