Friday, October 09, 2015

The Australian school so violent it’s patrolled by police

Very unusual in Australia. But what's the missing word below?  I guessed it right first time.  Answer at the foot of the report

Escalating violence has lead the government to install a permanent police presence at this school – but not everyone agrees with the decision.

Students and teachers are so terrified about attending Walgett Community College, in northwest NSW, that it has become the state’s first school to have police patrolling the grounds.

According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, the education department and Police Citizens Youth Club have signed an agreement to station two officers inside the school following escalating violence.

Among the incidents are a leaked video showing a 13-year-old girl being savagely beaten by fellow students in May, a teacher at the school taking out an apprehended violence order against a student, and four teachers resigning in the last few weeks of Term 2.

“It’s not uncommon for the police and schools to work together,” education minister Adrian Piccoli said.

“Recently officers have been working with students and staff from Walgett Community College at a PCYC centre in the school. They have access to the school hall before and after school, and during school holidays, and run positive engagement PCYC-related programs during those times.

“The feedback so far has been encouraging. There are no police stations on NSW public schools.”

However, Opposition education spokeswoman Linda Burney describes the move as another example of the government mismanaging problems at the troubled school.

“I do not believe having police present in the school is a good use of police resources, particularly in a community that has the second highest domestic violence rate in NSW,” Burney said.

“I think it sends a dreadful message, not only to children at Walgett, but also the Walgett community — that the only way to manage the school is if police are there.”

However, Acting Superintendent Tony Mureau insists the strategy is working.

“Over the past month there’ve been no incidents,” he told ABC News.

“What we’ll see is police in the classroom sometimes dealing with kids not necessarily in a negative way, but bringing them into the hall, playing sport. Just engagement strategies.”

The police will also be running anger management courses for students.


The missing word is "Aboriginal".  The school has a 97%  Aboriginal enrollment, as officially defined.  At the risk of prosecution for hate speech, however, I think I should note that most of those are of mixed ancestry.  The really black ones rarely go to school at all. The average Aboriginal IQ is very low and low IQ people tend to be more violent for various reasons

Pauline Hanson’s Facebook post on Muslims gains support

Hanson is an independent conservative who is not afraid to broach ethnic matters

SHE once rose to power on a tide of anti-Asian sentiment and it seems Pauline Hanson is now tapping into concern about Muslims to help her get re-elected.

A Facebook post urging people to vote for Hanson at the next federal election, has been shared more than 25,000 times in just two days. The post says: “A vote for me at the next Federal Election will be your insurance, the major parties will have absolute opposition to any more Mosques, Sharia Law, Halal Certification & Muslim Refugees. NO MORE! Share if you agree”.

An image accompanying the post says “No More: Mosques, Sharia law, Halal certification, Muslim refugees”. It has been liked more than 18,000 times.

Hanson, who is planning to run as a Queensland senate candidate for One Nation, has called for tighter Muslim immigration laws in the wake of the “politically motivated” Sydney shooting last week.

“Both sides of parliament are not doing enough to address this whole issue,” she told Sunrise.

“What Islam stands for is not compatible with our country ... let the Muslim countries take them.”

She said Australians need to know what was being taught in Islamic schools and mosques.

“Get out of your glasshouses and go and see what’s happening.”

Many of the comments on the post are supportive, one said: “You have my vote Pauline. I don’t pay taxes to be shot in my own country”.

Another said: “For the first time in my life I will be voting for someone who actually says what most free thinking Australians want”.

But there are plenty of others which challenge her view. One from Omer Dautovic has been liked almost 2000 times and responds to another comment, it states: “I’m Muslim, my kind has been here for over 50 years (Bosnian Muslims) we don’t want Sharia law as this great country provides us with a just and moral system”. It goes on to list other issues such as domestic violence, the free trade agreement and violent criminals, saying “I think there’s a few more problems than just ‘Muslims’.”

Another says: “Pauline is racist and disgusting. I have beautiful Muslim friends who have human rights to be here ... She’s certainly not a traditional owner of this country either”.

Hanson once represented the Brisbane seat of Oxley as an independent after being disendorsed by the Liberal party. In her maiden speech she famously said she believed Australia was in danger of being “swamped by Asians”.

“They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate,” she said.

Hanson opposes multiculturalism, special government assistance for Aborigines, illegal boat people and foreign investment in agricultural land and established housing.

Hanson failed to be re-elected despite a number of campaigns, including standing in NSW and Queensland elections and bids for a Senate seat in 2001, 2007 and 2013.


Senator Nick Xenophon plots an end to preference whispering

Nick Xenophon has unveiled a plan for Senate voting reform that he says will eliminate candidates being accidentally elected with low levels of support while giving voters more chance than ever before to choose independents or minor parties.

The South Australian independent MP has written to the Turnbull government outlining the biggest overhaul to Senate voting in a generation that he believes would boost public con­fidence and could be imple­mented before the next election, which is due within 12 months.

Senator Xenophon, who was the only independent elected without the need for preferences at the last federal poll, has come under attack from Glenn Druery, the preference adviser who has told the minor parties “to put Xenophon last”.

The Australian has also learned the minor parties have held talks about swapping preferences with each other at the next election to maximise hopes of repeating the record haul of seven seats won by the crossbench.

“If we all preference each other ahead of the majors, then one of us is going to get up and win a seat — we just don’t know who,” one crossbench senator told The Australian.

At the last election, Ricky Muir of the Australian ­Motoring Enthusiasts Party won a Victorian Senate seat, despite receiving just 0.51 per cent of the vote.  It was the preferences of 20 other parties that secured the 14.6 per cent needed to be elected.

Senator Xenophon’s overhaul would abolish group voting tickets, which are vital to the minor party strategy of preference deals yet leave voters largely unaware of the arrangements.

The proposal would see voters no longer just mark “1” for a party or group “above the line” on the Senate ballot paper; instead, they would be required to number a minimum of three squares above the line.

“It would encourage voters to consider alternatives other than the major parties,” Senator Xenophon wrote in his letter to Special Minister of State Mal Brough.

Senator Xenophon said his plan to require people to number at least three boxes would increase the chances of an independent, minor or micro party candidate receiving popular support but he told The Australian those parties would need to earn votes and not receive them through behind-the-scenes deals.

He said some people felt misled they gave their vote to one party but the preference swapping ­system meant they ended up electing a party with a different philosophy.

“I suggest the ­approach I’ve outlined would lead to an outcome that more fairly represents the genuine democratic will of voters,” he wrote to Mr Brough. “It would prevent the anomalous outcomes that can occur when a voter’s first preference (above the line) can end up electing a senator with diametrically opposed views on a range of key issues.”

Under Senator Xenophon’s plan, people voting “below the line” would be required to choose only a minimum of 12 candidates, instead of the existing requirement to number sequentially every box. In NSW and Victoria, there were about 100 candidates listed below the line.

About 95 per cent of people vote “above the line”, handing power to the one party they choose to decide preferences. At the last election, two-thirds of people voted above the line for ­either Labor or a Coalition party. Last year, the joint standing committee on electoral matters released a bipartisan report calling for urgent changes to Senate voting to better reflect the intention of the public in the wake of the 2013 result.

The committee, headed by Tony Smith, now the Speaker, called for the scrapping of group voting tickets and the introduction of optional preferential voting, to end “shadowy” preference deals and clean up the tablecloth-sized ballot papers by preventing “pop-up parties” being created to harvest votes for other parties.

Senator Xenophon, who won 24.88 per cent in the SA Senate race at the last election and polled more than the entire Labor Party, said his plan achieved those aims without putting minor parties out of business.

Senator Muir recently called reform plans a “power grab to protect the major parties”.  He said 24 per cent of people did not vote for Labor, the ­Coalition or the Greens.

“If the people of Australia felt like the major parties were representing them democratically and parallel with their will, people like me would not have been able to get elected in the first place,” he said.

Between 1984 and 2010, Labor, the Coalition and Greens received between 84 and 91 per cent of Senate votes. At the last election, the tally fell to 76 per cent.

Family First senator Bob Day, elected on preferences after receiving a primary vote of 3.76 per cent, said the major parties, including the Greens, were over-represented in the Senate because they had 85 per cent of the seats. He said the committee’s reform plan would “entrench the Greens as the balance of power party in the Senate”.

Mr Brough recently said he wanted to pursue Senate reform, a comment he later played down after it drew anger from the crossbench.

While the Greens have offered conditional support for changes, Labor is split on the topic and wants to see a firm proposal.

Malcolm Turnbull said while there were concerns about the Senate voting system, he had no specific plans to change it and has reassured crossbenchers of that.


No, Australia doesn't have a revenue problem

Michael Potter

Many commentators think taxes need to increase to ensure the tax-to-GDP ratio is 'restored' to historical levels. But their arguments are wrong.

The tax-to-GDP ratio is currently well above the 10-year average, and about equal to the 20-year, 30-year and 40-year averages (see details here). The mistake that the commentators made is (unsurprisingly) cherry picking data.

For example, the former Secretary to the Treasury, Dr Ken Henry, said taxes are currently too low compared to 2002. However, this is an abnormal year, due to the introduction of the GST. We could equally say taxes are currently too high compared to 2011, after the GFC, or 1993, after the recession we had to have.

Instead, it is much better to average the tax take over many years, including high tax and low tax periods.

And on that basis, tax increases can't be justified. In fact, the tax-to-GDP ratio is forecast to be well above historical averages by 2018-19, and using this measure alone we should be seeing large tax cuts by then -- around $24 billion per year in today's money.

But this is the wrong debate. It is bad policy to try to target the tax-to-GDP ratio, particularly because we would have to increase taxes in a recession. This is a terrible idea - it would make the recession worse. And given we are currently in a mild slowdown, this argues for tax increases now. Increasing taxes now would be almost as bad as increasing taxes in a recession. And unfortunately substantial tax increases are scheduled to occur as noted earlier.

But even with these unwise tax increases, the Budget deficit doesn't disappear by 2018-19. So how can we deal with that problem? Through spending restraint as long advocated by the CIS, particularly through the Target 30 campaign. This is a better approach than tax increases based on fallacious historical comparisons.


Thursday, October 08, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is critical about politicians not mentioning "Islam" when they should

Teenage terrorist was given gun he used to shoot dead accountant at the mosque where he skipped school to pray

A Middle Eastern crime group reportedly supplied the gun used by Parramatta shooter Farhad Jabar who used it to killed police accountant Curtis Cheng.

Farhad, 15, is thought to have got hold of the gun inside Parramatta Mosque, which he went to before he murdered Mr Cheng on Friday afternoon, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The teenager was given the .38 Smith and Wesson by an extremist inside the mosque who got the gun from a crime identity. The gang member had no idea what was going to unfold.

Investigators had unearthed the origin of the gun but asked the newspaper not to publish this information before Wednesday's early morning terror raids.

Farhad shot dead Mr Cheng outside the Parramatta police headquarters on Friday as he left work.

It was reported the 'radicalised' youth had visited the mosque to change into a black robe just before the terror attack.

He was shot dead by a police officer after he killed Mr Cheng.

But Neil El-Kadomi, the head of Parramatta Mosque, denied he knew 'the boy' and claimed the teen was an infrequent visitor at the mosque.


Student, 24, says he was bashed by police during a routine traffic stop - and claims they confiscated his phone and 'edited' his footage of the incident

A Cairns man facing charges of assaulting police is considering suing the Queensland Police Service after claiming he was bashed by an officer during a routine traffic stop.

Kenneth Wong says police took his phone and edited footage of him being assaulted by a male constable.

But the QPS will not look into the allegations until Wong, 24, has been through court for a string of charges himself, including failing to stop, contravening a direction and assaulting police.

'As the matter is currently before the court it is not appropriate to comment further,' a police statement read.

Wong says he was repeatedly punched in the face by the constable after he was pulled over on August 29 for failing to completely stop at an intersection while on the way to visit his sick mother in Cairns.

An emergency department report obtained by AAP shows Wong suffered two black eyes, a cut under his left eye, bruises to both wrists and a bruise to his right shoulder.

The law graduate and education student says the officer called for back-up when he questioned why he had to hand over his licence.

After realising Wong was recording him, the officer then allegedly took Mr Wong's glasses off, punched him multiple times and tried to pull him from the vehicle while he was still strapped in.

Once at the police station, he was pressured into giving police his phone's passcode, Wong says. He says police then disabled the iCloud function so he could not download the video remotely.

Wong's phone was returned last week and he is convinced the video has been 'trimmed' to remove possibly incriminating evidence. He plans to have a computer expert look at it.

Wong can be heard on the video file telling the officer: 'No, you can't do that. You don't have the power under PPRA (Police Powers and Responsibilities Act).

'I give you licence, you better leave me alone.

'Do not touch it, it's my property.'

The officer repeatedly replies: 'Don't start, mate.'

Wong says his facial injuries have prevented him from continuing his placement at a Cairns high school, while the incident itself has left him frightened and distrustful of police.

Wong approached the Crime and Corruption Commission to investigate the officer, but the complaint was forwarded to the QPS's Ethical Standard Command.

Wong has sought advice and said he is considering legal action.

It comes amid a QPS review into a recent spate of police brutality incidents on the Gold Coast.

The Queensland Council of Civil Liberties, which has been assisting Wong, says police behaviour is a growing concern.

'We're receiving at least one complaint or allegation about police violence or brutality a week,' acting president Julie Jansen told AAP.


Why are so many teachers fleeing Australian classrooms?

IN A profession where graduates head out into the world optimistic about nurturing children and bringing about change, it seems reality hits hard and fast.

Statistics show that early career teachers are leaving in droves, with close to 40% exiting from the profession within the first year of their teaching career, a number that has tripled in the last 6 years.

And it’s affecting our kids. Dr Phillip Riley, Director of the Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey at Monash University, says it is extremely disruptive to learning if teachers are constantly changing, something that’s become a huge issue in many schools. “Students need continuity and a predictable environment to optimise their learning. It is often connected with increased behavioural issues in student populations.” [i.e. the collapse of discipline]

However, it’s not just the kids that are affected — the economy also takes a blow, with replacement costs having been estimated at 0.2% of annual GDP. “That is a lot of money that could be put to much better use,” Dr Riley says. “It can also affect morale in schools more generally.”

Dr Riley says there are several reasons for the industry exodus, including the lack of job security in teaching contracts, being restricted in the way they can contribute to students’ learning and wellbeing, poor mentoring, and difficulty in their new workplace. He feels that one teacher summed it up by saying “I felt well prepared for the classroom, but nobody prepared me for the staffroom.”

Someone who can undoubtedly relate to this is Leila*, who, at 21, was bullied by the deputy principal in her first teaching job. Leila says her superior withheld information from her, badmouthed her to parents and isolated her from her team.

However, things became more serious when he cornered her alone late one afternoon with a false accusation, swearing at her and calling her names like ‘fat bitch’, ‘stupid bitch’, and ‘stupid little girl’, chasing Leila to her car as she fled in a panic. An investigation followed and found in Leila’s favour, however instead of the deputy being reprimanded or demoted, he went on to become a principal at a large primary school in a major city.

Leila was granted a transfer to a new school to start afresh, but says she was shocked to then find herself working for the principal from hell. “Before I arrived she found out my backstory and spoke to the deputy principal. She told me she had made it her mission to vindicate her ‘respected colleague’ and have me sacked once and for all.”

Leila says the principal micromanaged her excessively, enforced impossible workloads and went through her belongings regularly. Leila became distressed and suicidal, and when she found out she and her husband needed IVF treatment to conceive, her principal refused her time off for an appointment, telling her to choose between having children or teaching.

When her request for leave the following year was denied, she resigned. “After two bad experiences in a row I was convinced it was me, I was a bad teacher and a bad person. I didn’t deserve to live, let alone teach,” she says. However, Leila found out there were dozens of complaints already made against her former principal and is still shocked at the terrible duty of care at this behaviour being allowed to continue.

Nina* graduated as a mature-aged student and was offered a contract with a special education high school, which she loved, and the next year became the performing arts teacher, a role she took on with complete passion, but says throughout that year some things disturbed her.

“This special school is part of a larger school where every one preached integration,” Nina explains. “There was none, and the kids were ostracised from the rest of the school. I saw things among the staff that I didn’t like, the way they treated and handled the students and then the politics that carried on.”

When obvious and vocal nepotism saw another teacher employed and quickly offered a full time contract, Nina was left with minimal hours as a result. After complaining about this and a number of issues to the principal, she was offered a position in the main school’s art department, but it wasn’t ideal.

“I had no experience in teaching high school art and I was left largely on my own,” Nina explains. “There was no support for me and I even had another art teacher say that if I expected her to mentor me then the school had to give her more release time because she wasn’t prepared to do it in her non-interaction time. I felt like a second grade citizen and I felt so dumb. I tried not to show these high school kids my lack of confidence.”

Nina says this experience combined with the lack of consistent work and job security as well exhaustion from constantly ‘swimming upstream’ with no support has left her with no option but to change professions.

Jennifer* was offered a full time contract as a primary teacher in a large school within a week of completing her degree, but was shocked at the workload, often requiring her to work for hours on administrative tasks every night on top of her normal classroom teaching and planning.

“My contract was renewed at the end of the first year and I fell pregnant however on the first day back at school I learnt I’d had a miscarriage. This teamed with the lack of support from the executives and a huge workload led me to have my contract dissolved after term two. I tried casual teaching but I ended up walking away completely and took six months off before going into a receptionist position at a real estate.”

Dr Riley says for changes to happen in the teaching profession, we need to firstly admit it is an issue that needs addressing, then find better ways to support new teachers and provide professional learning for them — not just ad hoc mentoring.

“We need to provide longer beginning contracts so they can spend time ‘falling in love with teaching’ rather than worrying about reapplying for their jobs regularly.”


Fox News morning host says Australia has 'no freedom'

A host on Fox News has stated Australia has "no freedom" due to hate speech laws during a discussion on gun laws.

Fox and Friends host Tucker Carlson was discussing the recent mass shooting at an Oregon community college and Donald Trump's assertion the campus' ban on guns was to blame.

Mr Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, slammed the fact guns weren't allowed at Umpqua Community College.

"Wouldn't they have been better off if somebody in the room, anybody, had a gun to at least help them out," Trump said.

Carlson defended Mr Trump's comments, saying he had a "rational point".

"If there's a drunk driving accident you don't ban cars, you prevent drunk people from driving them," Carlson said.

Co-hosts Clayton Morris brought up Australia as a place that had strict gun controls, wrongly stating that people were banned from having firearms.

"They have no gun violence, they don't have guns, citizens aren't allowed to have guns," Morris said.

"They also have no freedom!" Carlson replied.  "You can go to prison for expressing popular views and people do."

Carlson was referring to Australia's laws on hate speech, which aim to compensate those who are the victim of discrimination or vilification on account of their race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

No one has been jailed under the laws, which differ from state to state.


Opportunity cost in Australia's future submarine decision

I'm only too ready to leave it up to strategic experts such as Rear Admiral Peter Briggs to sort out how many submarines we need. I'll stick to the economics. We shouldn't let the number be determined by a perceived need to provide work-continuity for ASC in South Australia. And we should acknowledge that this is a decision about 'guns or butter': spending more on submarines by building them at home means less of something else.

The Senate inquiry on the future of naval shipbuilding in Australia is a 'must read' for anyone interested in the decision-making process. It's an example of Australia's own version of Eisenhower's 'military-industrial complex' in operation. Even though this was the Senate Economics Reference Committee, the list of contributors is almost exclusively construction-industry representatives, regional lobbyist, trade-unionists and former services personnel. The taxpayers were under-represented.

Reading the testimony, you might get the impression that the Collins saga had been a brilliant success and that building a new fleet of submarines in Australia would be no dearer than building overseas, an assertion consistently refuted by actual domestic ship-building experience (See ASPI's 'Four ships for the price of six').

Members of the Committee would have been courageous (in the 'Yes Minister' sense) to have been critical or sceptical, as all political parties covet those South Australian votes. Even so, the report was not, as Admiral Briggs stated, unanimous. There was in fact a substantial dissenting report issued by the Government members of the Committee, which (inter alia) specifically addressed the issues I raised in my initial post on this issue.

In response to the recommendation that Admiral Briggs quotes, the dissenting report says:

"Response to recommendation 3. The draft report calls for an Australian build at all costs. This could give rise to national security outcomes being compromised by a prioritisation of industry policy over defence policy and it could force the taxpayer to underwrite an economically uncompetitive project. While we want to see the Future Submarine contract awarded to Australian shipbuilders, it must also be the result of a competitive tender process and it must be awarded on merit. This will ensure that Navy receives a fit for purpose product of the highest standard while Australian tax payers receive the best possible value for money.

. . .Recommendation 3 effectively relegates national security policy to second place behind industry policy."

I couldn't have said it any better.

The substantive difference between Peter Briggs and me relates to the impact of spending on submarines on the economy. It is standard practice for consultants-for-hire to make their lobbying case on the basis that spending on the target industry will boost the economy, not just by the amount of the actual expenditure, but by a multiple of this because of successive rounds of spending. This is akin to the familiar textbook multiplier process. You can go one step further (as the 'eloquent' testimony of Professor Goran Roos does) and double-count the contribution of sub-contractors. If you want to get a good reception where 'jobs and growth' are the paramount political concern, this is the way to go.

It is only in rare circumstances, however, that this makes any economic sense. The multiplier logic relies on squeezing more than a pint out of a pint pot. The implicit assumption here is that there is unused capacity in the economy – capital, managerial talent and unemployed workers – all ready and waiting to respond to this extra demand to build submarines, adding to GDP is the process. Not only are these resources assumed to be unemployed now, the assumption is that they would have remained so over the life of the project.

Of course Australia has unemployment – currently 6.2% of the workforce. But this is close to the lowest level of unemployment Australia has had for the past quarter-century. It would be nice to get back to the lower level we had at the height of the resources investment boom, but this kind of fine tuning is not feasible.

The proper way to analyse how the submarines might affect GDP is to think in terms of opportunity cost: if these resources – capital, managerial talent and labour – were not building submarines, they would be doing something else which society also values. The productivity challenge is not to attempt to conjure productive capacity out of thin air, but to shift the economy's given resource endowment into uses which have a higher social value.

Government industry policy (subsidies, 'picking winners' and so on) may play a part in that process. Economists are not all free-market ideologues. Some of us accept that governments can sometimes use their considerable expenditure to steer resources into areas which will catalyse higher-value output and have longer-term benefits even when the expenditure ends. But economists also look back on the history of infant industries which never grew up, and on politically driven white elephants. Who wants another Darwin-Alice Springs railway?

Where does domestic submarine construction fit in such a framework?

Will this foster a viable industry which suits our comparative advantage? Will it form the nucleus of a cluster of highly productive firms with a self-sustaining future when the submarine work is finished? Will it link into international supply chains, thus compensating for our lack of manufacturing scale? Will it be disciplined by international competition, or link us more firmly into the rising demands of East Asia?

The Collins-class experience suggests that constructing bespoke submarines is a dead end, a mendicant industry whose survival depends on government subsidies.

Does it make any difference that domestic construction avoids importing? In a globalised world with flexible exchange rates, this 'exports good, imports bad' argument, common though it is, has to be dismissed. The flexible exchange rate looks after the need to keep imports and exports in equilibrium with the available funding from capital flows.

The dissenting report of the Senate inquiry was a brave attempt to put some limits on the size of the hand-out, through giving the rival bidders some flexibility on the domestic content of construction. The competitive evaluation process seems the last opportunity to impose some economics on this politics-driven project.


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Farhad Jabar: Police believe gunman was no ‘lone wolf’ but part of an extremist pack

POLICE Commissioner Andrew Scipione has vowed that “everything that needs to be done will be done,” to find how a 15-year-old schoolboy came to execute a much loved police accountant as he left work.

“There is no way you can describe the hurt inside that building and right across the NSW Police force at the moment,” he said outside Charles St headquarters this afternoon.

Mr Scipione was joined by Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant where they laid wreaths for slain Curtis Cheng.

They then went inside to meet the special constables that shot dead Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar in a brief gunbattle.

Mr Baird said they were there to acknowledge “the bravery of some very special men”.  “We strongly believe they saved many lives,” he said.

Mr Baird said they were also there to show their support for the “police family”.  “We are here to try to help them know that everyone across this state is with them and they are not hurting alone.”

Mr Baird, Mr Scipione and Mr Grant also met Mr Cheng’s senior colleagues.

The floral tribute continues to grow outside the headquarters with people of different faiths praying and reflecting. Some make the sign of the cross, others pray and bow.  Earlier in the day a Buddhist monk stood and reflected.

Earlier this morning police arrested a student on his way to Arthur Phillip High School, the same school attended by the 15-year-old who shot a man dead at Parramatta’s police headquarters last week.

The arrested student had his belongings emptied on the footpath before being handcuffed and taken away in a police van.

Police said they spoke with the boy on his way to school this morning in relation to alleged posts on social media. He was arrested after allegedly threatening and intimidating officers and taken to Parramatta police station.

In a Facebook post on Friday, a little more than an hour after Farhad Jabar shot dead police worker Curtis Cheng outside the force’s Parramatta headquarters, he wrote: “Serves you right I hope them lil piggies get shot”

He later posted a video of Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione’s press conference from the night of the shooting.  “Bahahja f*ck you motherf***er Yallah merryland police station is next hope they all burn in hell,” he wrote alongside it.

The boy describes himself as “A.W. A” or “Arab with attitude” and allegedly has a long history of uploading content taunting and mocking NSW Police.

He shared a photo of himself in front of two officers from the state’s mounted unit and wrote: “F*ck the police not a single f*ck was given that day FTP FTS”.

In a chilling post the day after Friday’s callous terror attack, one his friends wrote: “I knew it was going to happen, just didnt (sic) know when”.

According to the 17-year-old’s Facebook account, he travelled to Iran earlier this year.

In May he checked in to the resort-filled Kish Island and wrote: “Omg this place is heaven”

The Arthur Phillip High School student is also a member of the group Social Muslims Unite.

His arrest comes after The Daily Telegraph revealed police are working on the ­theory that teen terrorist Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar was acting on the orders of other radicals and was not a “lone wolf’’ killer.

NSW counterterrorism ­officers are investigating who may have supplied the gun he used to carry out the murder of a civilian staffer at Parramatta police headquarters on Friday afternoon.

Counter terrorism police today revealed Jabar had been communicating online with a British Jihadist with known links to IS, the Australian reported.

“The possibility the teenager was used by extremists is a strong line of inquiry,’’ a senior officer involved in the operation told The Daily Telegraph.

“That includes searching his computers, electronic devices and who he was in contact with on the days leading up to the shooting and on the day itself.’’

The development comes amid reports in The Australian today that investigators have linked Jabar to a known British radical associated with terror group Islamic State, and that the pair had been communicating via the internet.

They have also established the schoolboy was at his home last Friday morning before he went to Parramatta mosque in the afternoon, where he ­listened to sermons by two imams.

“What was said in those sermons and who he may have met at the mosque are all now being investigated,” the senior officer said.

“There are hours of video and ­recordings to go through.’’

Jabar’s school friends and ­religious associates will all be ­interviewed in the next few days.


Competition under attack

Luddites at work. Ned Ludd and friends lost their battle and these guys will too

As tensions between Uber and the taxi industry continue to grow, a Brisbane cab company executive has taken to a public Facebook group to boast about hitting an Uber driver, and encourage others to "get more militant" with their rivals. 

In a post to Taxi Driver Page, the manager of a Brisbane cab company responded to a post by a colleague who claimed he had been assaulted by an Uber driver while attempting to take his picture. The man wrote:

"F-cking slap him like I did to the prick in Warner St the other night, I am f-cking over them. You wait I will f-cking get them. They won't and can't defend themselves they are illegal. If it was 30 years ago in my time, they wouldn't last five minutes. We need to get more militant about this issue. The (sic) are the f-cking scabs stealing what we have all worked for."

In the early hours of Monday morning this week, a number of Brisbane Uber drivers were allegedly attacked by a group of men, with three separate incidents, in Fortitude Valley and Kangaroo Point.

One of the Uber drivers was treated or cuts and bruises, and in an interview with Fairfax, said he "strongly" suspected that off-duty cab drivers were behind the assault, based on anti-Uber comments they made.

When contacted by Fairfax media about the post on Taxi Driver Page, the man in question, who claimed to have slapped an Uber driver, hastily backtracked, insisting that he was actually just kidding around.

"I've never slapped an Uber driver in my life, we were mucking around," he said. "It's not true, I don't break the law. I spoke to an Uber driver but I don't want to elaborate, they are illegal."

Cabcharge, the largest taxi operator in Australia, recently admitted that its share price has halved since Uber entered the Australian market, with CEO Andrew Skelton saying "we need to leapfrog Uber and get out in front."


Trade deal a win for Australia: Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull says a new Pacific trade deal is a very big win for Australia, insisting the country stood up for itself during intense negotiations.

The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was finalised overnight after five years of talks, which included late-night phone calls between the prime minister and US President Barack Obama.

'These deals are win-win,' Mr Turnbull told Neil Mitchell on Melbourne 3AW radio on Tuesday.

There will be no change to the five-year data protection for biologic medicines, a major sticking point that had delayed negotiations in Atlanta.

'We certainly stood up for our position,' Mr Turnbull said, insisting the deal will not make drugs more expensive in Australia.

The partnership was of 'enormous benefit' to Australia and a 'gigantic foundation stone' for the country's future prosperity.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb says the agreement contains 'pages and pages of benefits' and will make Australia more competitive, create jobs and boost living standards.

As well as boosting trade with the US, it will open up new markets to Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile and Canada and usher in a new era of economic growth and opportunity across the fast-growing Asia-Pacific.

Service providers, miners and manufacturers will see tariffs slashed and new markets opened up.

Farmers will get a major boost with tariffs reduced or cut for beef, dairy, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture and seafood in a number of markets.

Beef producers will see tariffs cut by another nine per cent and for the first time in decades rice growers can send more product to Japan.

Canegrowers will see market access for sugar to the US double.

However Mr Robb concedes the extra 65,000 tonne base quota increase for sugar was not as much as he expected.

'We were disappointed, I couldn't get as much as I wanted,' he told ABC TV on Tuesday, but adding there was potential for further growth.

Lobby group Canegrowers described the outcome as bittersweet, thankful for a compromise uplift of $16 million.

'That's not to be sneezed at, but I would be less than truthful in saying we are overall disappointed in the outcome,' chairman Paul Schembri said.

Innovative drug makers were disappointed, saying Australia's five-year data exclusivity provision lagged behind global competitors and would stifle innovation.

Medicines Australia said Australia would miss out on jobs and tax streams from missed medical breakthroughs.

Labor says it will examine the details closely, especially investor-state dispute resolution provisions which could open up Australia to litigation on decisions such as plain cigarette packaging.

'We look forward to seeing how robust those protections are,' opposition trade spokeswoman Penny Wong told ABC radio.

The Australian Greens are sceptical about the deal's benefits, pointing to US research showing there would be a zero-net benefit to the Australian economy.

'That's why the minister has been under significant pressure not to trade away our rights,' trade spokesman Peter Whish-Wilson said.

Each country will now take the agreement back home, with the deal to be scrutinised by a joint houses committee of the Australian parliament.


Progressives on the case of ‘retirement rorters’

Readers of The Age were greeted with an improbable splash on Friday. Malcolm Turnbull, they were told, was declaring war on the wealthy.

The new Prime Minister had “reached in-principle agreement with unions, employers and welfare organisations to reduce a raft of tax breaks, including negative gearing and superannuation concessions, that primarily beneļ¬t the rich”.

It was an example of what comedian Steven Colbert calls “truthiness”, a story lacking factual support that the writer thinks ought to be true.

In April, a story under the same byline claimed “the prospect of a breakthrough on the contentious tax treatment of superannuation earnings has moved a step closer”. His evidence? Labor’s Chris Bowen had “offered support for a crackdown on the super incomes of the super rich”.

Oddly, Tony Abbott didn’t come to the party on that one. The writer lives in hope that Malcolm Turnbull will.

The notion that Liberal Party parliamentarians entirely lost their senses last month and elected a Fabian socialist as their leader is gaining ground in some sections of the press gallery.

The premise behind The Age’s story was absurd. If Turnbull really wants to soak the rich, why would he have to ask the unions for permission?

The National Reform Summit delegates who briefed the Prime Minister last week agreed that the retirement income system was not what we were promised.

Workers have been forced to save a chunk of their wages for more than 20 years, yet seven out of 10 will rely on welfare, in part or in full, to see them through retirement. We could squeeze the rich until the pips squeak but it would do nothing to help the poor. Raising taxes for high earners will not help a single retiree cross the threshold from handouts to self-sufficiency. Superannuation taxation is, at best, of peripheral concern.

Yet superannuation, like disability insurance and education funding, has become a subject about which it is impossible to have a temperate conversation. Ironically, the debate has become hostage to the public policy absolutism that the National Reform Summit was designed to avoid.

The fear that the unscrupulous rich are rorting their super has developed into full-blown moral panic. The imagined inequities of the system are discussed ad nau­seam at polite dinner parties, overtaking public subsidies for private education as the wrong that must be righted.

An imagined evil lurks within the superannuation system and the sophisticates are profoundly disturbed. They are overwhelmed by the impulse to put things right.

As sociologist Howard S. Becker wrote in 1964, the moral crusader “feels that nothing can be right in the world until rules are made to correct it”.

“He operates with an absolute ethic; what he sees is truly and ­totally evil with no qualification. Any means is justified to do away with it.”

Crusaders distort the language of debate. They talk of the tax rate on long-held savings as a “concession” when in fact it is nothing of the kind. No other OECD country taxes such savings as ordinary income; were they to do so, the effective tax rate would be extraordinarily high, as Henry Ergas has explained in detail in these pages.

The size of the supposed problem is overstated; the assumed benefits from the proposed solution are over-estimated; the level of support for change is exaggerated.

“Two-thirds of older Australians want the government to curb overly generous superannuation tax concessions for the wealthy,” The Age’s Mark Kenny claimed in April.

What was his evidence for this startling claim? A survey by Your Life Choices magazine “using the online polling tool SurveyMonkey”. Hardly authoritative.

The Labor Party, devoid of any serious economic policy intent, joins crusades such as this to justify its contention that it is the party of compassion. It aims for hearts rather than minds by siding with the self-professed angels in morally charged debates, such as carbon pricing, refugees and amendments to the marriage act.

Jonah Goldberg writes in The Tyranny of Cliches: “Progressive’’ has become a euphemism for “all good things.” To oppose a progressive argument shows that “you just don’t get it” or, worse, that “you are part of the problem”.

Experienced leaders learn to negotiate popular progressive causes, aware of the skewed priorities, subprime policy and unintended consequences that usually follow. Moral crusaders invariably advocate increased regulation, rather than less. They seldom call for governments to be less intrusive or for less money to be taken in taxes.

For a Labor Party that still refuses to acknowledge the debt burden it created, attacks on wealthy superannuation savers provide a tempting diversion from discussing fiscal repair.

On May 11, opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen told the ABC Insiders that the government “had thrown up the white flag on the deficit”.

Labor, on the other hand, had laid out its package for taxing earnings on super. “They are fully costed,” said Bowen, “which will make a substantial contribution to the budget over the next decade.”

ABC TV’s Chris Uhlmann was rude enough to correct him: “A small contribution.” “Well, a contribution which is important,” insisted Bowen. “More than $20 billion over the next decade.”

Sadly, $2bn a year across a decade won’t come close to paying the interest on the national debt, even if one accepts those figures, which even Bowen doesn’t.

Three weeks earlier, Bowen had announced 10-year savings of $14.3 billion in a package he said was “responsible, fair and final”.

Bowen argues that 38 per cent of the imagined “concessions” are claimed by the wealthiest 10 per cent of the population. Yet that is not entirely unreasonable, since that same cohort pays 45 per cent of income tax collected.

Labor should take stock before its trashes its economic credentials completely. Closing imagined loopholes is just a sly excuse for tax hikes. And as Labor leader Bill Shorten made a point of telling the August summit, “increasing tax is not tax reform”.


Hawkei: Army to spend $1.3 billion on Australian-made replacement for ageing Land Rover fleet

The Federal Government has announced it will spend $1.3 billion on new light armoured personnel carriers for the Army.

The Hawkei vehicles will be manufactured by Thales Australia, which also makes the Bushmaster armoured personnel carrier, in Bendigo. They will replace part of the Army's ageing Land Rover fleet.

The Australian Army will order 1,100 Hawkeis, which are classed as "light protected mobility vehicles".

Equipped with a V-shaped hull which Thales says will help deflect IED blasts, the vehicles can be armed with weapons including heavy machine guns and grenade launchers, and is light enough to be carried by a Chinook helicopter.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne made the announcement at a test facility at Monegeetta, north of Melbourne on Monday morning.

Mr Turnbull said the investment will generate 170 jobs in technology manufacturing and provide soldiers with the best equipment available.

"This $1.3 billion investment will mean greater capability for Defence, around 170 more jobs in the innovative frontier of technology manufacturing in Victoria, and will consolidate Australia's position as a world leader in military transport technology," he said.

"The men and women of our armed services are entitled to the best equipment we can provide them to do their job and do it well, to faithfully defend our nation and our national interests.

"It's been designed with the future in mind so that as new technology becomes available it can be engineered into the vehicle to give our soldiers the best available tools in the most dangerous situations."

Ms Payne said the Australian-made vehicle would be a world leader and said there was "enormous potential" for it to be sold internationally.

"The fact that it is a lighter vehicle than the traditional Bushmaster, the fact that it has a degree of mobility in very high-risk areas, and has a significant degree of blast and ballistic protection for our serving members means that it should be very attractive on the international market," she said.

"We will work closely with Australian defence industries to make the most of those opportunities wherever and whenever we can.

"As well as Victoria there's obviously support and sustainment activities that occur elsewhere in Australia as well, so it does have a positive and very beneficial effect for Australian industry elsewhere."

The Government estimates the project will keep 170 jobs in the region and sustain another 60 in wider Victoria.

Thales was identified in December 2011 as the Federal Government's preferred bidder, and prototypes of the Hawkei have undergone a testing process since.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Trust "The Guardian"

"The Guardian" is the oracle of the British Left.  They have recently branched out with an Australian edition of their propaganda sheet. So you can almost write their stories for them:  The Liberal party is bad; Muslims are good etc. Their slant does however make them look ridiculous at times.  Below is what they reported about the Parramatta shooting by Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad on Friday.  Must protect those Muslims!

We are going to wrap up our live coverage of this incident here. But before we do, this is what we now know about the fatal shooting:

* A man, dressed in dark clothes, allegedly shot an unsworn NSW Police officer at close range as that officer was leaving work at the Charles Street police complex, Parramatta, at 4.30pm. The officer was killed with a single shot.

* That man remained outside the police complex and apparently fired a few more shots at a NSW Police special constable before a number of other special came outside the station. Police shot back and the man was killed.

*There is nothing at this stage to suggest any links to terrorism - the gunman appeared to have been acting alone and deliberately targeted the unsworn officer, although police aren’t yet sure why.

* The investigation will be treated as a standard coronial investigation and led by the homicide squad, but counter-terrorism officers will assist because police are “keeping an open mind”.

*The gunman has not yet been identified. The unsworn officer has not been named because his family is yet to be notified.
There is no ongoing threat to public safety.


Echo chamber magnifies sense of Muslim grievance

Henry Ergas

According to senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the Turnbull government, the young Muslims who are being drawn into the extremism that led Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad to murder a NSW Police Force employee last Friday feel “disengaged” and “disenfranchised”.

No doubt. But it is also worth recalling the realities. And none is more important than the fact that Australia provides its young Muslims with opportunities that are outstanding.

The contrast to Europe could not be sharper. In Germany and The Netherlands, second-generation Muslims are twice as likely to leave school before completion than their native-born counterparts; in Australia, secondary school retention rates are no lower for second-generation Muslims than they are for the youth population as a whole.

Equally, in Germany and The Netherlands, young Muslims are only one-third as likely to complete post-secondary education as their native-born counterparts, with the result that barely 7 per cent of the children of Turks in Germany and 29 per cent of the children of Moroccans in The Netherlands gain a post-secondary credential; in Australia, the difference in entry rates is small, so that 43 per cent of second-generation Muslims have a post-secondary credential, compared to 52 per cent of the entire population aged 18 to 35.

The achievement is even more remarkable when outcomes for second-generation Australian Muslims are compared with those of their parents.

For example, a study of Sydney’s Lebanese Muslim community found that 45 per cent of the parents had left school before the equivalent of Year 10; in contrast, virtually all their children had completed upper secondary school, with the majority continuing to TAFE or university. Moreover, that difference in educational attainment has translated into sustained upward mobility: although 35 per cent of the fathers were manual labourers, only 10 per cent of the male children are; and while barely 3 per cent of the parents were in the professions, some 20 per cent of their children have professional jobs.

To emphasise those outcomes is not to ignore the problems. However, at least some of them reflect choice rather than necessity: the combination of very low rates of female labour force participation and relatively high birthrates — which then leads to strains on family budgets and welfare dependency — being a case in point. As for the other problems polls highlight, such as the perception of being in a job that falls short of one’s qualifications, they are by no means unique to young Muslims, with other young Australians suffering the effects of “credential inflation” every bit as acutely.

What is different about young Muslims is where those problems lead: to a sense of being hard done by, which others are responsible for and must redress.

For example, only 13 per cent of Australian-born Lebanese Christians strongly believe governments need to do more to advance the position of migrants; but 54 per cent of Australian-born Lebanese Muslims do. And though the majority of Australian-born Muslims say they have never experienced labour market discrimination themselves, they believe it to be relatively widespread and more so now than a decade ago.

It is that chasm between opportunity and grievance which needs to be explained; but its causes are not hard to find.

To begin with, young Australian Muslims, especially those of Middle Eastern extraction, are twice as likely as their Australian peers to have an identity in which religion plays a key part — and that religion, as practised in many Australian mosques, all too often preaches that Muslims are victims of grave injustice.

At the same time, they are highly likely to live in areas where a 30 per cent or higher proportion of the population shares their identity, such as Lakemba, Auburn and Greenacre in Sydney and Dandenong South, Dallas and Meadow Heights in Melbourne. And to make matters worse, their primary social networks in those areas are frequently narrow, with one survey finding that 40 per cent of young Muslims of Lebanese origin have never had any Anglo-Celtic friends.

The result is an echo chamber that does not merely confirm misperceptions but magnifies them, allowing dissatisfaction to meta­stasise, in extreme cases, into jihadism.

That process needs to be blocked; the risk, however, is that the government’s response will only aggravate the pathology.

For example, the Gillard government’s multicultural policy, with its emphasis on combating discrimination, could not but vindicate the belief that discrimination is a serious issue.

Equally, the greater the prominence given to the self-appointed representatives of the Muslim community, the greater the danger of entrenching Islam’s role as the community’s point of reference.

There are, in that respect, lessons to be learned from Malek Boutih, a French politician of Algerian extraction who prepared the official report on last January’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

Boutih finds no evidence that radicalisation was related to disadvantage: rather, many French jihadists come from well-off backgrounds.

And he has long argued that the policy of promoting community-based Islamic organisations has proved counterproductive, legitimising the perception that French society is structured on religious lines and strengthening young Muslims’ sense of segregation and victimhood.

The consequence of “communitarianism”, Boutih contends, has been to make radicalisation more, rather than less, likely.

None of that is to suggest there are easy answers. Nor is it to deny that most Muslims are appalled at the senseless violence being wreaked in Islam’s name.

But this is an area in which woolly thinking and “feelgood” policies literally kill.

With the grim reality of the latest outrage sinking in, tough-minded deterrence must be the primary response.

As it reaffirms its commitment to that deterrence, the government’s message to Australia’s young Muslims should be clear: count your blessings, for they are truly bountiful. And instead of shredding them, now is the time to be in the frontline of their defence.


Asylum seekers at Nauru detention centre to come and go as they please

ASYLUM seekers at the Nauru detention centre will now be able to come and go as they please.  The Nauru government has confirmed the facility has become an open centre, in line with the recommendation of a recent Senate inquiry report into allegations of sexual and child abuse.

Nauru’s Justice Minister David Adeang said 600 asylum seekers’ outstanding refugee claims would be processed within the next week.

Mr Adeang flagged that more Australian police assistance would be forthcoming.

The Nauru government has increased the number of community officers from 135 to 320, including 30 refugees, to help with the transition.

Extra lifeguards will be appointed to patrol beaches to ensure the water safety of refugee families, some of whom may not have strong swimming skills.

A Pakistani refugee drowned last year while swimming at the beach, along with a Nauru citizen who attempted the rescue.

The Nauru government is also in talks with Australia about ongoing health care and overseas medical referrals for refugees.


Why are we so afraid of an anti-abortion activist?

Miranda Devine

SO AUSTRALIA has become one of those countries that ban people whose views are not acceptable to the feminist establishment, and then locks them up.

This is the stunningly illiberal position of the new Turnbull government which banned American anti-abortion campaigner Troy Newman from coming to Australia last week.

He arrived on Thursday, anyway, to begin a speaking tour to Right to Life groups around the country, and was promptly detained by Border Security officers at Melbourne airport before being transferred to Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre pending deportation.

Newman has no criminal record, is not a threat to national security or to good public order.

He just has an opinion the “#ShoutYourAbortion” crowd don’t like. He believes abortion is murder.

Newman is on the board of the Center for Medical Progress, which has released 10 videos detailing horrendous practices at abortion provider Planned Parenthood, including the sale of foetal organs and body parts.

That makes him public enemy number one to abortion activists who will do whatever it takes to suppress the ugliness of the lucrative global abortion industry.

Whether you agree with Newman or not, his views are not illegal or even very remarkable. There are plenty of Australians who agree abortion is murder and many more who, while believing abortion should be safe and legal, are uncomfortable with the large number of abortions performed each year.

Surely the women who celebrate their abortions on twitter with the hashtag “Shout your abortion” are more out of step with community sentiment.

Whatever your view, banning uncomfortable opinions puts us on a dangerous path. Yet how few Australians are willing to uphold basic liberal principles when it comes to defending views they find distasteful.

The Turnbull government has caved into twitter lynch mobs in order to demonstrate its new feminist agenda. Incredibly, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton even took at face value a deceptive letter from Labor MP Terri Butler.

As the Australian Christian Lobby points out, Butler is a member of the pro-abortion group Emily’s List, who “receives campaign money from Emily’s List because of her pro-abortion views.

“That is fair enough in a free society, but it is a relevant motivating factor in her campaign to stop Mr Newman from speaking in Australia.”

Emily’s List is menace enough in the Labor Party, but now the Coalition has bowed to its autocratic ideology.

Did Dutton bother checking Butler’s claims before cancelling Newman’s visa at the last minute?

Her letter was a farrago of half truths and exaggerations. She claimed Newman advocated the execution of abortion doctors, implying he incited vigilante violence. Her evidence was a 2000 book in which he wrote the US government’s “responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes.” Note the word “convicted”. The death penalty is law in some US states.

Butler further claimed, “There is a real risk that Mr Newman’s conduct may cause discord within the community and disrupt the ability of women to access lawful reproductive medicine.”

In the High Court on Friday Justice Nettle reportedly found it had not been proven that Newman had advocated the death penalty for abortion doctors nor that protests he had been involved with in the US had been violent.

But because Newman had defied Australian law by flying here without a visa, he lost his challenge and had to leave the country.

Now he’s gone, all that has been achieved is that Australia is notorious as a country that does not tolerate unfashionable views.

What’s next? Do we ban anyone who dissents from PM Turnbull’s opinion on climate change, or same sex marriage or radical Islam?

So much for the broad church.


Monday, October 05, 2015

Queensland’s population growth rate a far cry from glory years

The original headline above is unduly sensationalist. According to the ABS, the Qld growth rate is only a touch lower than the national growth rate.  But it is still of interest that Qld has ceased to be fast growing.  All the usual cliches about Qld have been trotted out to explain it but  I think the main reason is obvious.  Qld house prices were once MUCH lower than Sydney or Melbourne.  But they are now only a touch lower: Not enough to give an economic justification for moving into the sunshine

QUEENSLAND was once Australia’s population growth capital, attracting droves of out-of-towners to its enviable beaches, cheap housing and bountiful job opportunities.

But it seems the sun has set on those golden years.

Population growth is taking a nosedive in Queensland, with fewer people moving in as others move out. So much so, the state government has been forced to consider how to bring interstate and overseas migrants back, according to The Australian.

According to new Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Queensland’s population grew at only 1.3 per cent in the year ending March 31, lower than the national growth rate of 1.4 per cent.

Victoria has now claimed Queensland’s former title as Australia’s growth rate hotspot, at 1.7 per cent.

While some people are still moving interstate to Queensland, the volume is nowhere near what it used to be. Numbers of interstate migrants have plummeted from about 50,000 a year in the mid-2000s to just 6200 in the year to March.

There was also a 35 per cent decrease on the previous year in the number of overseas migrants choosing Queensland as their new home.

It’s a mounting trend, as Queensland’s population growth rate has been sluggish for the past few years.


Toasting liberties instead of taking them

ALL politics is local and for Australia, that means putting our nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea front and centre. Except we don’t. This year we will give the 40-year-old ­nation $554.5 million in aid which is supposedly linked to three objectives — the first of which is effective governance and the rule of law.

Yet the Department of Foreign Affairs, which manages $477.3 million of that aid budget, has turned a blind eye to a blatant breach of governance affecting the administration of justice and the rule of law.

Four weeks ago, on September 8, two Australian-based lawyers representing the PNG National Fraud & Anti-Corruption Directorate (NFACD) were secretly banned from ­entering the country. PNG Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura directed all international airlines and border posts not to permit barrister Greg Egan and junior counsel Terence Lambert from travelling to PNG without telling either man.

He warned the airlines that in no circumstances would Egan and Lambert be permitted to enter PNG and penalties would be applied to carriers which failed to comply.

While PNG has refused to give any reason for the ban, it would be apparent to the ordinary person that Egan and Lambert have been targeted by the PNG government because they were briefed by local law firm Jema Lawyer to act for the director of the NFACD ­Mathew Damaru and his deputy Timothy Gitua in a number of serious cases relating to an arrest warrant sworn against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Egan, who has been practising law in PNG since 1988, also acts for Task Force Sweep chairman Sam Koim whose challenge of O’Neill’s decision to disband the Anti-Corruption Agency in June, 2014 was adjourned on Tuesday after being listed for trial. O’Neill lost his court bid to prevent Egan representing the NFACD directors.

With no reasons for the ban, lawyers acting for the two Australians have sought a judicial review next week.

They say the ban was ordered to prevent Egan and Lambert in cases against O’Neill, that it doesn’t comply with the Migration Act and therefore has no legal force, that it goes ­beyond the power of the chief migration officer and is a ­denial of natural justice. Finally, the lawyers say the decision meets the test for the “Wednesbury principle of ­unreasonableness” which holds that a decision is so ­unreasonable or outrageous it defies logic or accepted moral standards such that no reasonable or sensible person who considered the matter could have accepted it.

The ban follows an SBS Lateline expose which made serious allegations about corruption in PNG and a money laundering trail.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said they took the allegations seriously and promised investigations — yet no action appears to have been taken.

PNG Law Society president Peter Kuman expressed grave concerns at the reports of the travel ban, saying the society “views their ban as a ­violation of the rule of law in the country”.

Australian Bar Association president Patrick O’Sullivan, QC, said this “was deeply disturbing’’. “Every citizen of PNG is entitled to legal representation and in particular, is entitled to choose who represents his or her interests.

“Foreign counsel play an important part in the administration of justice in PNG and lawyers must be allowed to practise without intimidation or hindrance. This includes the right of entry into the country.

‘‘Interfering with the impartial administration of justice will only serve to jeopardise the rule of law in PNG.’’

DFAT has been monitoring the situation but so far appears to have taken a hopey-wishy position. It has not made any official representation to the PNG government, despite the millions we give PNG.

Compare this lack of action, let alone remonstration, with the outpourings of support in the past for convicted drug smugglers imprisoned abroad.

Foreign Minister Julie ­Bishop is a lawyer. Give her a brief and away she will go but when torn between standing up for the rule of law in our region and maintaining diplomatic relations with a government which has question marks hanging over it, she has opted to ignore extremely serious concerns rather than convey the very real anxiety that exists about actions of the PNG government and PM O’Neill.

Rather than swan around the international cocktail circuit playing footsie with UN fat cats, ­Bishop needs to be brought back to earth and reminded that her responsibilities are to Australians in the here and now, not in the fantasy world of New York’s Turtle Bay.


Extremist Muslim group to hold workshops at Deakin University

An extremist Muslim group are holding workshops at Melbourne’s Deakin University this weekend based on the teachings of Islamic scholars who have recommended the death penalty for homosexuals and apostates, promoted terrorism and preached hatred of Jews and Christians and violence against women.

The Islamic Research and Educational Academy, which earlier this year held a conference at which children as young as five were encouraged to dress up as radical clerics and read controversial sermons and passages from the Koran, has sent text messages to supporters advertising the da’wah workshops as being based on the teachings of “legendary” scholars Zakir Naik and Ahmed Deedat.

Dubbed “The Art of Da’wah” and hosted by the ultraconservative Salafist organisation’s president Waseem Razvi, the workshops, to be held at Deakin’s Burwood campus, promise to use the teachings of Dr Naik and Sheik Deedat to help attendees “learn the art and gain the confidence to talk about Islam to anyone, anywhere and at any time”.

In Islamic theology, the purpose of da’wah is to invite Muslims and non-Muslims to understand the worship of Allah.

Indian “televangelist” Dr Naik has been banned from countries including Britain, Canada and parts of India for his rhetorical support for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

He has recommended capital punishment for homosexuals and apostates and has been quoted saying “every Muslim should be a terrorist” and asserting men’s “rights” to beat their wives, as long as they do it lightly, so as not to leave a mark.

Sheik Deedat, who died in 2005, was a South African Muslim missionary of Indian descent whose books have been banned from sale in France since 1994 for being “violently anti-Western, anti-Semitic and inciting to racial hate.”

His da’wah centre was heavily financed by the bin Laden family and Deedat praised Osama bin Laden after meeting him.

Deakin corporate communications director Sarah Dolan yesterday said there were no clear grounds to cancel the event at the last minute.

“Nevertheless, we will closely watch how the group represent and conduct themselves,” she said.

“As a university we are committed to the fair and open ­exchange of ideas, but we draw the line not just at anyone promoting or justifying violent extremism but also at any malicious expression of exclusivism intended to encourage people to view others in a way that is disrespectful or hateful.”

Chair in Global Islamic Politics at Deakin Greg Barton said he agreed with the university’s decision, but provisos were certainly necessary.

“When it comes to Zakir Naik, there are reasons to be concerned,” Professor Barton said. “The questions around this event will be who is speaking and what line they take.

“In Australia at the moment we face a very serious struggle with ­violent extremist being recruited from our suburbs, and even from our tertiary institutions, and we have to be wise about how we ­engage. If we simply close the doors on everything, that can support the extremists’ rhetoric.


Social conservatism and limited government

Dr Jeremy Sammut

There is a school of thought that says the Abbott government failed to achieve economic reform because of Tony Abbott's social conservatism.

I discuss this subject in an article in this week's Spectator Australia, and suggest Abbott's political demise may in fact make it harder to achieve economic reform as the Left seems to have acquired a right of veto over any Prime Minister who dissents from their version of social and economic progressivism.

I would like to add an extra point. Those who describe their beliefs as economically dry and socially wet tend to think that social conservatism is antithetical to economic liberalism and a limited government agenda. I beg to differ with this trendy idea.

In the UK, the 500,000 most troubled families cost British taxpayers more than £30 billion -- £75,000 ($147,000) per family per year in benefits and other services spanning areas including child protection, health, welfare, and justice.

There is no reason to think the situation is different in Australia. The 2015 Review of Australia's Welfare System drew attention not only to the cost of welfare dependence to the Budget, but also to how it was linked to intergenerational family dysfunction and associated social problems.

'Troubled families' is a euphemism for the dysfunctional underclass of welfare-dependent households -- in which problems such as drug abuse and single-motherhood are rife.
What this suggests is that the social revolution of the 1960s, and the associated liberalisation of social attitudes towards the family breakdown and drugs, have become a driver of bigger government.

The so-called moral issues social conservatives prioritise -- traditional marriage and the war on drugs -- are actually policy issues highly relevant to addressing the social chaos that costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year.

Rather than complain about the old-fashioned social values of conservative throwbacks, trendies might instead ponder the ways that being economically dry and socially wet can be self-defeating, given the links between social permissiveness and growth in the size of government.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Union bosses ‘stole $2.4m from members’

Kathy Jackson and fellow former senior Health Service Union figures are “personally responsible” for misappropriating more than $2.4 million of members’ funds, say the senior barristers assisting the trade union royal commission.

They accuse its former star whistleblower of corruption and say a Federal Court ruling that Ms Jackson stole more than $1.4m from the HSU should be used as the basis of Com­missioner Dyson Heydon’s final report.

The submission to the commission does not recommend criminal charges be laid while a Victorian police taskforce investigation into the scandal is under way.

“This sorry history of mis­appropriation and deceit was facilitated by a culture then pervasive at the HSU, in which senior management operated with a sense of complete entitlement in respect of the use of members’ money and at the same time without being subject to proper control or super­vision,” it states.

It remains open to Commissioner Heydon to find that Ms Jackson, national secretary of the union until ­February, should be referred to the authorities to face further criminal and civil sanctions.

Former general secretary of the NSW branch Michael ­Williamson defrauded the HSU by providing fake invoices totalling $938,000, and Ms Jackson’s predecessor Craig Thomson, who was convicted of theft for misusing a union credit card, misappropriated $5600, the submission concludes.

Together, the officials “at the apex of the union” formed a “triumvirate of persons who were prepared to further their own personal interests and political ambitions at the expense of the members’’, the submission states, adding that a “failure of governance and transparency was at the heart of the scandal”.

“The picture … is deeply disturbing. It is of a union in disarray. It is of a union in which the predominant culture among senior management was of entitlement, not service.”

Counsel assisting the commission has come under fire for going “softly” on Ms Jackson, who took allegations of Mr Williamson’s wrongdoing to police.

“Katherine Jackson was instrumental in revealing Michael Williamson’s conduct to the public and to the prosecution,” the submission states. “However, her own activities as a union official have now also come to light.

“In substance … Jackson misused her position as a union official to further her own interests and political ambitions in a variety of ways and over a period of years, resulting in misapprop­riation from the HSU of in excess of $1.4m.”


Muslim terrorism mentioned as such in Australia

Police have released a photo of the 'admired' and 'gentle' father of two who was gunned down by a 15-year-old 'radicalised' youth Friday evening.

Curtis Cheng, 58, was leaving work at the police headquarters in Parramatta, Sydney, when he was shot in the back of the head by the Iranian-born youth.

The gunman responsible has been identified as Farad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, the ABC reported.

He had visited a mosque in the hours before the killing, which has been confirmed by the Prime Minister as an act of terrorism.

Police had searched the teen's North Parramatta family home and taken computer equipment, the ABC reported.

He was a student at Arthur Phillip High, a school less than half a kilometre from where the shootings took place, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

A source told the ABC the teen's weapon was a revolver and it did not seem he knew his victim.

Witnesses of the attack on Friday afternoon said after the killing, the teen paraded in front of the police station with his weapon chanting 'Allah, Allah', it was reported.

After exchanging gunfire with police officers, the teen was killed.

Mr Cheng, a father of two and accountant for the police, was remembered as a 'wonderful' man, loved by family, friends and colleagues.

In a press conference with New South Wales premiere Mike Baird, Police commissioner Andrew Scipione said the police force was in mourning.

NSW premier Mike Baird said it was an 'unthinkable act' that ended his life.  'I want the family of Curtis and the members of his Police community to know that you don't face this loss alone. We mourn with you and we are here for you.'

The police commissioner confirmed the teen's actions were 'politically motivated and therefore linked to terrorism'.

En route to the killing the youth, originally from Iran, had visited Parramatta Mosque, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The killer, who had an Iraqi and Kurdish background, carried no identification and it was believed his brother contacted police with his identity, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The gunman, at present believed to have been acting alone, shot Mr Cheng at close range outside the Parramatta police headquarters in a targeted attack on Friday, which has been described as a 'brutal' and 'callous murder'.

The assailant, dressed all in black, fired a number of shots at special constables guarding the NSW Police station in Sydney, before he was gunned down and killed by one of the officers.

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said Mr Cheng was 'simply leaving work' when he was shot in the back of the head by the gunman who was wearing 'dark trousers and a flowing top'.

'A number of special constables came out of the building and as they've emerged they've come under fire.

'In the exchange that followed the gunman was shot and killed. An employee of the NSW police force has been callously murdered here today. This is a very sobering time for us.'

Police believe the gunman was not working with anyone else, but have not ruled out the possibility there may be others involved.


American woman says a favorite Australian sandwich spread is racist because it is black!

One would normally think this is a spoof but it could be for real in the context of all the things that are said to be racist these days.  Vegemite and similar products are popular in Australia, Britain and some other English-speaking countries but Americans usually find it unpleasant.  Like most Australians, I always have some in my fridge -- JR

A bizarre online rant that claims "Vegemite is racist because its black" has gone viral.

Cassidy Boon, 20, aired her controversial anti-yeast spread views on YouTube as she launched a #banvegemite campaign. She said: "Eating Vegemite is racist towards Aboriginals - because it is black.  "If you eat Vegemite, you’re literally what’s wrong with the world."

"Ever since the 1950s - or whatever - Vegemite has been a way to symbolically make white Australians feel superior to Aboriginals by literally eating their f*****g skin in a jar.

The American adds that she spent seven years living in Australia during which she felt "ashamed of all of you".


The video is here.  She basically doesn't know anything about Australia, and is probably pretty dim generally.  Her use of profanity does not suggest much intellectual depth.

PC has become pandemic at universities

Peter Kurti

Universities used to challenge conventional ideas. But today they have become bastions of political correctness where the fragile sensitivities of students are cuddled and protected from emotional and psychological maladies.

Now US social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and academic freedom advocate Greg Lukianoff have warned that restricting free circulation of thought actually endangers students' mental health.

Vindictive protectiveness prepares students poorly for professional life and can even engender patterns of thought similar to those that cause depression and anxiety, Haidt and Lukianoff say. The therapy of 'political correctness' may only make things worse.

When political correctness, or PC, emerged in universities in the late 1980s, it was motivated by a desire to eradicate discrimination. But PC has morphed into a different beast. Twenty-first century PC is concerned with emotional well-being.

On campus, PC presumes an extraordinary fragility of the student psyche and aims to protect the eggshell sensitivities of students from psychological harm. That's why there are calls to control what can be taught, what can be encountered, and what can be experienced on campus.

And that's why many students also require their professors to issue 'trigger warnings' before covering any topics which may invoke negative feelings - such as when studying the crime of rape.

So here's a trigger warning about upcoming medical themes: the arteries of learning on our universities have become sclerotic and clogged with the plaques of PC which stifle debate. Excessive PC irradiation zapped in Australian universities is killing free speech in the name of protecting the vulnerable.

When today's students enter the workplace they will need qualities of strength, resilience, confidence and compassion to address the challenges our country faces. Instead, Australian students are being failed by universities trying to protect them from things they will inevitably encounter later.

Attempting to force the world to conform to your desires is never going to be the way to achieve happiness or success. It's time to remove the strictures of political correctness, to free up the minds of Australian students, and to help equip them with the skills to master their desires, fears, and habits of thought.  


New Zealand doesn't want its criminals back

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has warned that Australia risks straining the trans-Tasman "special relationship" by deporting Kiwi-born criminals under tough new immigration rules.

Hundreds of New Zealanders are being held in migration centres awaiting deportation under new rules that say foreign nationals should be sent home if they have served a jail term of 12 months or more.

With some 650,000 New Zealanders living in Australia, there are concerns the numbers could rise steeply and that many people are being unfairly targeted.

The issue has been brought into focus by the suicide of Junior Togatuki, a 23-year old who had served time for armed robbery and assault, in an Australian prison this month.

Togatuki, who had mental health issues, moved to Australia when he was four and was awaiting deportation after completing a seven-year jail term when he killed himself.

Key said he was concerned about New Zealanders being sent to detention centres, including remote Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and had raised the issue with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

"I was pretty blunt and I said there's a special relationship between New Zealand and Australia and you challenge that relationship to a degree when you see New Zealanders being treated in this way," he told Radio New Zealand.

The reason so many New Zealanders live in Australia is that both countries offer each other automatic residency rights, with many Kiwis making the trip to take advantage of Australia's strong economy.

However, they remain New Zealand citizens even though Key said some of those being deported had no ties to the land of their birth.

"They've often spent their entire life in Australia and went over there when they were very, very young," he said.

"It's like the Australians are saying 'we're going to pick and choose, we'll keep the ones we like but send back the ones we don't like'.

"Well... you have to take the rough with the smooth."

The New Zealand Herald said in an editorial that it was Australia's right to pursue a draconian deportation policy but it made no sense applying it to people who had served sentences for relatively minor offences.

"Placing someone in that situation simply because they have been convicted of, say, shoplifting, smacks of overkill," it said.


Friday, October 02, 2015

Conservatives create Australia's first Indigenous government minister

How's that for racism?  The Left have never done as much.  But Wyatt is only indigenous according to the peculiar Hitlerite convention (enforced by Australia's Left) that "one drop" of indigenous blood makes you Aboriginal.  You can see from the pic how black he is not -- JR

Ken Wyatt gave his inaugural speech to parliament in 2010 wrapped in a kangaroo skin coat that was given to him by elders of the Noongar people, the traditional occupants of south-west Western Australia.

The coat, Wyatt explained, was presented to him as a symbol of his heritage, and a reminder to take his culture and experiences with him in his new endeavour.

Wyatt made history in 2010 as the first Indigenous person elected to the House of Representatives. On Wednesday, he broke new ground again, becoming the first person with Indigenous heritage to be sworn in as a minister.

He will take on the assistant health portfolio, a role his 15-year career in public health has prepared him well for.

Heeding the advice of the Noongar elders, Wyatt has kept his culture close during this parliamentary career, fighting for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people, and for non-discrimination of all Australians.

But when it comes to public process on eradicating racism, Wyatt is pragmatic.

The Racial Discrimination act “hasn’t changed people’s attitudes towards who they discriminate against”, he said.

Despite public outcry over the watering down of the act, and the level of support AFL player Adam Goodes received after being booed by fans, there simply is not the appetite for adding racial non-discrimination clauses to the constitution, he argued.

“Australia’s not ready for that,” Wyatt told Guardian Australia.

Proposals to reform the constitution to recognise Australia’s first peoples kick-started the debate on whether the nation’s founding document should include broader non-discrimination clauses.

Those clauses are “highly unlikely to be supported”, said Wyatt, who headed a parliamentary committee into constitutional recognition. “That’s one that a tough decision has to be made.”

He said that adding anti-discrimination clauses to the constitution would act as a de facto bill of rights, and that the public had still not come to grips with that concept.

“If there was a common accord, say at the end of a decade, where we could put together a set of words that would be enshrined in a constitution, that would safeguard every person based on a non-discriminatory factor, then I don’t have an issue with that. But at the moment, we’ve not had the mature debate that’s needed,” the new assistant minister said.


Australia signs up to some dubious goals

You wouldn’t want to read the UN’s  69 "Sustainable Development Goals" Julie Bishop has just signed Australia up to and if you had, you would be white with rage.

I don’t want to scare you too much but one of the many “targets” Australia has just agreed to is  to “... fully operationalise the Green Climate Fund through its capitalisation as soon as possible”.

Or how about this one? “To mobilise additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources to assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability through coordinated policies aimed at fostering debt financing, debt relief and debt restructuring, as appropriate, and address the external debt of highly indebted poor countries to reduce debt distress.” That’s gobbledegook for debt forgiveness if it’s big enough.

Gender equality gets a guernsey of course and there’s plenty about global warming, rising sea levels, our doomed Barrier Reef and drowning polar bears and there is a detailed between-the-lines explanation of how a universal carbon tax will finance all 69 objectives... but it has to be a universal Carbon tax. All countries must agree! Hmmm.


Turnbull faces 'war' over Senate reform

But it will happen.  It is in the interests of both the Liberals and the ALP to get rid of the ratbag minority in the Senate -- JR

THE Turnbull government could face "war" in the Senate if it goes ahead with voting reform, crossbenchers warn.

IF the government can't get support from Labor or the Greens, it will need six out of eight crossbench votes to pass legislation through the Senate.

There are about $75 billion worth of proposed budget savings measures yet to pass parliament.

Special Minister of State Mal Brough, who took on responsibility for electoral reform in Monday's reshuffle, says one of his priorities will be to look at changing the way in which senators are elected.

In 2014, a bipartisan committee recommended voters be allowed to mark preferences above the line on Senate ballot papers or not to have to number all the boxes below the line.

This would stop micro-parties gaming the system through sophisticated preference-swap deals, which led to some crossbench senators being elected with less than one per cent of the primary vote.

"If this proceeds to legislation as implemented, it'll be war," Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm told ABC television on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his new team wanted to be "friends" with the crossbench, but voting reform was the best way to pick a fight.

Senator Leyonhjelm said he had understood the government was no longer interested in, and had no time to implement, voting reform prior to the next election.

Retaliatory action could include voting against government bills and being uncooperative on procedural matters.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon will offer Mr Brough his cooperation in changing the system.

Group voting tickets should be abolished and replaced with a minimum three or six preferences allocated above the line or a minimum of 12 preferences cast below the line on the Senate ballot paper. "That gets rid of the backroom deals," he said.

Palmer United Party founder Clive Palmer, who has one senator, said rigging the system would "destroy real democracy".


Give the AMA a bypass and privatise public hospitals

The Australian Medical Association’s pre-emptive political strike on the Medicare services review shows that some members of the medical profession believe only the doctor’s union should make health policy in this country.

Given the evident sense of entitlement, and the self-serving belief that no savings can be made from the health system, it beggars belief some are suggesting taxes should be raised principally to feed the beast that is Medicare.

Many budget experts are calling for a range of tax increases to close the fiscal gap between government revenue and expenditure. But before allowing the nation to be dragged over the cliff of higher tax and spend policies, we should stop, think and understand how acting on this advice would be the antithesis of true economic reform.

The major tax proposals on the table are a 50 per cent GST hike or a proportionate rise in income tax to pay for the rising cost of state health systems.

The problem in health is reckless spending, not a revenue shortfall. This is clearly demonstrated by the ever-increasing amount of taxpayer money absorbed by public hospitals. In 2003-04, combined federal, state and territory funding for public hospitals totalled $22 billion. By 2012-13, this had increased to almost $40bn, with real expenditure having grown at a rate much higher than inflation and economic growth.

Demand for hospital services is increasing in an ageing society, but there is little evidence that productivity improvements have enabled the community to receive more hospital care in return for additional funding. The 2013 Queensland Commission of Audit found that while expenditure on public hospitals in the state had increased by 43 per cent across the previous five years, activity had increased by less than half — just 17 per cent.

This is hardly surprising: public hospitals remain one of the few government utilities that have been untouched by the market-based reform agenda initiated under the Hawke-Keating government in the 1980s.

Like all cosseted public sector industries, public hospitals are inherently inefficient because they are insulated against private sector forces of competition and financial accountability that drives innovation and reduces costs in other sectors of the economy. Analysis by the Productivity Commission has suggested there is a 20 per cent cost difference between the least efficient and more efficient public hospitals, which represents a waste of many billions of dollars across the sector.

Yet this doesn’t mean better performing hospitals are truly ­efficient.

The sweetheart industrial deals struck between state governments and public sector health unions account for the high costs and inefficiency across the entire system. The centralised industrial agreements negotiated by state health departments fix rigid, statewide employment terms and conditions for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, and include expensive and outdated work practices that prevent the delivery of services more cost-effectively.

Health consumes one-quarter of total state government expenditure, and public hospitals account for about two-thirds of state health spending. The cost of clinical ser­vices represents about 70 per cent of total hospital budgets.

Higher taxes to underwrite inefficient public services is not economic reform. Tax rises to fund state health systems are also a stopgap because, if present growth in the cost of public hospital care continues, health will consume the entire budgets of the states and territories in coming decades.

What state governments should be doing is addressing the structural problems in their health systems by outsourcing the provision of public hospital care to more efficient private providers. For example, the West Australian government has outsourced the operation of the new Midlands public hospital to a private operator, which will save $1.3bn across the life of the $5bn contract compared with the estimated cost of the state running the hospital.

Public hospital reform needs to become a national policy priority just as reform of the energy sector, the telecommunications industry, and ports were in earlier times. Privatisation maybe a dirty word in health, but the alternative is bankrupt state governments.

The best thing the Turnbull government can do is to use the review of federalism and mooted changes to federal financial relations to drive health reform.

Ending all specific purpose payments for health, and instead giving the states one pot of money to fund all responsibilities, would encourage state governments to make more rational decisions about how best to use scarce public resources amid competing priorities — including the operation of public hospitals.

A federalism reform package of this kind would prepare the way for return of income tax powers to the states. State governments that fail to reform their health systems should be made accountable to the voters who are forced to hand over a higher proportion of their incomes to prop up inefficient public hospitals.