Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fine unis for caving on free speech: Senator Paterson

An online comment on the story below is as under:

"I’d be happy to see Western Studies that examined the pros and cons of our culture. But it’s up to the unis, especially if the funding is privately sourced and comes with strings attached"

It's a very unbalanced comment: Why should it be up to the unis?  The unis are heavily Leftist so can not be assumed to make a balanced judgment.  Censorship is the way of the Left -- as we have seen.

And what is wrong with privately funded courses?  The premier American universities are all privately funded.

And what in life does not come with strings attached?  They are usually called "conditions" and there are conditions on all sorts of funding both in academe and elsewhere.  There were in fact very few "conditions" on the Ramsay offer and none of them were ideological

The comment is just bigotry.  It certainly does not pass as serious debate. Very lightweight stuff

Liberal senator James Paterson has called for universities to face fines for failing to uphold free speech, claiming that financial penalties would go some way to preventing the “administrative cowardice” behind the Australian National University’s decision to scrap plans for a course in Western civilisation.

As debate continues around the university’s contentious withdrawal from negotiations with the Ramsay Centre, Senator Paterson said ANU was not alone in ­caving to pressure from “ideological interest groups” and it was up to the federal government to ensure that universities’ financial interests were aligned with “upholding values of intellectual freedom, free speech and viewpoint diversity”.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham, who oversees the university sector, which will receive $17 billion in government funding this year, did not rule out the proposal.

“With funding for higher education at record levels, taxpayers and the broader community rightly expect that our universities uphold the values and standards of free speech and academic freedom,” Senator Birmingham said.

“I welcome debate and ideas on how our universities can be further held to account for upholding the expectations placed upon them by taxpayers and students.”

In an opinion article in The Australian today, Senator Paterson also takes issue with ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt’s claim that his decision to withdraw from negotiations with the Ramsay ­Centre resulted from concerns over academic autonomy, pointing out that the university does not have a stand-alone policy dedicated to upholding free intellectual inquiry.

This was despite amendments to the Higher Education Support Act in 2011 requiring universities to have a policy around upholding free intellectual inquiry.

Senator Paterson refers to an audit of university campuses conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs last year that found only eight of Australia’s 42 universities have such a policy.

“ For all its talk of academic freedom, the ANU is not among them,’’ he says. “Clearly, the existence of this ­requirement isn’t enough to counteract the pressure that university administrators face from the angry minority hell-bent on ­enforcing their ideological hegemony.

“Only imposing real, financial consequences will bring an end to the kind of administrative cowardice that was epitomised in the ANU’s decision to cancel their proposed course on Western civilisation.”

Senator Paterson is the latest politician to criticise ANU, which has previously accepted donations from the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Iran, to fund its Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies.

Institute of Public Affairs ­research fellow Matthew Lesh, who conducted the latest free-speech-on-campus audit, said the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency had failed to enforce the legal requirement that universities have a policy that upholds free ­intellectual inquiry.

“It is time that TEQSA put Australia’s universities on notice that their social licence and billions in public funding depends on upholding free intellectual inquiry,” Mr Lesh said.


Gender-specific words like mankind and tradesman are BANNED at Australian universities

Western Australia has now caught the virus already well-known in the Eastern States

Using gender-specific language could see some university students failing assessments under an increased push to stamp-out stereotyping on the basis of sex.

Universities around Perth have developed 'inclusive language' policies for students and staff to follow where words such as mankind are ditched in favour of terms like humankind.

Curtin University students face being penalised if they use words deemed to contain bias or discriminatory language, Perth Now reported. 

'While it is possible that a student may fail an assessment or be subject to actions under the student charter or misconduct provisions, our preference would be to work with students to educate them on the use of inclusive language,' Jill Downie, the university's Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, said.

Curtin University's Inclusive Language Procedures policy says students and staff must take reasonable steps to 'avoid stereotyping on the basis of sex; age; race; colour; national or ethnic origin; marital or relationship status'.

At the University of Western Australia, the Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee has developed non-discriminatory language guidelines for students and staff to use.

It provides a list of descriptions that should instead be used, such as tradesperson instead of tradesman, humankind as an alternative for mankind, quality of work or work skill for workmanship and artisan or craftsperson rather then craftsman.

Murdoch University has its own 'Non-discriminatory language guidelines' which students are advised to refer to when piecing together their assignments.

Examples of gender inclusive language include flight attendant instead of air hostess and chairperson instead of chairman.


Frydenberg caves in — renewables have beaten common sense

This may sound strange but the renewable energy industry — I prefer to call it the unreliable energy industry — is overjoyed by the public discussion about the need for new coal-fired electricity plants to be built here.

The rent-seekers — the owners of wind farms and solar installations — know there will be no investment in coal-fired electricity, certainly not in terms of new plants. Even investment in maintaining or extending the lives of existing coal-fired plants is rationed.

New coal-fired plants are unbankable, given the policy settings. They cost a lot, their economic lives are too long and the risks are too high.

The only scenario in which a new high-efficiency, low-emissions plant can be built — and plenty are overseas — is government ownership. Even then, the delay before commissioning would be three to five years. There are no circumstances under which the Coalition under Malcolm Turnbull will agree to the government building, owning and operating a HELE plant.

As for Labor, it doesn’t even know what a HELE plant is; its intention is to head in the nonsensical direction of 50 per cent renewables (globally, wind and solar account for 8 per cent of electricity generation) and a higher emissions reduction target.

So why are the renewables players so excited about the ongoing discussion of investment in new coal-fired plants that will never happen? It diverts attention from the main game, which is the definition of reliability that will apply in the new policy framework, the national energy ­guarantee.

They also are seeking to have other features of the final design favour renewable energy, including the restrictions on the use of carbon offsets, both local and international, to meet the emissions reduction target. There is even a possibility that there will be no allowance for offsets in the final version.

While Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg feels pleased with himself that he has secured reasonably broad support for the national energy guarantee — there are a few exceptions — everyone knows that it will come down to the detail. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the latest iteration of the guarantee was released last Friday at 5pm.

Let me outline three key weaknesses in it. They are: the lack of a defensible definition of reliability; the way the emissions reduction target is put into effect; and the use of offsets. (I apologise for the technical nature of some of this discussion — it’s unavoidable.)

The most appropriate way of defining reliability — supply meeting demand when and where it is required — is to map out scenarios in which renewable energy sources plus other sources will not be able to meet the needs of the market and to identify the back-up arrangements that can be relied on. It can’t be an averaging process; extremes must be considered.

Note, for example, that extended wind droughts can occur; witness Germany and Britain recently. It also can be cloudy for extended periods. These back-up options include battery, pumped hydro, gas peaking or even diesel generators.

They may be uncommon events, but because Australia’s electricity grid is self-contained (we can’t import electricity from other countries, as is the case in Europe) we must plan for them.

One of the papers released last Friday simply states that “a reliable system is one with enough energy (generation and demand side participation) and network capacity to supply consumers — this implies that there should be enough energy to meet demand, with a buffer known as reserves”. A key carve-out is “demand side participation”.

The game that the renewable energy sector is playing is to define the scenario for which back-up is required on terms that suit it. Instead of meeting demand when and where it is required, its preferred alternative is to assume that demand is managed down (all big industrial users are expected to reduce their use of power as well as some households) before there is any need to provide back-up.

In this way, the renewable energy industry will be able to point to a motley collection of diesel generators and a few batteries (which provide power for a few hours at most), which will allow the retailers to meet the reliability requirement under the terms of the national energy guarantee. It’s a neat trick because it avoids the expensive exercise of providing or contracting for true back-up

This sort of demand management is Third World stuff and the clear danger is that these big users will just power down forever, particularly as they are also being told they have to provide back-up themselves. They have made it very clear that they cannot rely on renewable energy. So when contracts expire, they will simply shut up shop and relocate overseas.

When it comes to how the national energy guarantee will work, demand forecasts will be made out to 2030. The renewable energy industry will seek to have these forecasts low-balled because this will accelerate the exit of older baseload coal-fired plants as well as reduce the need for back-up.

These demand forecasts will then translate into an abatement number by 2030 (the reduction in tonnes of CO2) and from this an emissions intensity target will be calculated. It will be of the order of 0.4 per megawatt hour, which knocks out all coal, and gas will be used only as a peaker. The national energy guarantee is effectively an emissions intensity scheme.

An abatement trajectory will have to be set for the decade, but the minister already has ruled out back-ending the emissions reduction task even though it would be very sensible to wait to see what the rest of the world does. Note that last year global emissions rose by 1.6 per cent. There may be some scope for small overs and unders from year to year, but this doesn’t really address the problem.

Having made our commitment to the Paris climate agreement and fallen into the trap of not subtracting the emissions of energy-intensive exporters as other nations have — the target would be 21 per cent to 23 per cent, rather than 26 per cent to 28 per cent, if we had done this — the best way forward is to allow retailers to acquit their emissions reduction requirements by buying carbon offsets.

These can be local — Australian carbon credit units (think local carbon farming) — and international. Either way, it is a far cheaper way of making our contribution to emissions reduction than through the labyrinthine national energy guarantee. (We will have to stop calling it the National Electricity Market; it simply won’t meet any definition of a market given the heavy-handed regulation, excessive direction and high penalties.)

The bottom line is the renewable energy industry has won. And this includes the big three vertically integrated players since they are heavily invested in renewables but will be able to milk their baseload assets in the ­interim.

Prices may be plateauing at the moment, but they will continue their upward path soon. Liddell will close in 2022, but it is in such a shocking state of disrepair its output will be unreliable in the meantime. The grid is regularly close to breaking point now. Large-scale, energy-intensive plants will close across time, leaving an economy dominated by the service sector and government. We will have thrown away one of our greatest sources of comparative advantage: cheap, reliable electricity.


Identity politics hijacks tragic tale of woman’s death

The all-pervading fashions and virtue-signalling of identity politics can dangerously warp our public discussions.

They can distract from the particular and propagate blame and guilt where it does more harm than good. We dare not speak about the Islamist extremist motivation of some murderous crimes because of fears this will slur all Muslims. Yet when a man rapes and murders a woman we shame all men. This is not only a useless intervention; it is deleterious and divisive.

When a brutal, random and sickening murder happens, there are only two identities that matter: first, the unfulfilled life of the victim who has been visited upon by unspeakable horror and robbed of everything — every relationship, success, failure, joy and memory they were going to experience. And we seek the identity of the perpetrator, who must be apprehended for the sake of our safety and justice.

The rape and murder of 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon in Melbourne last week shocked the nation. So it should. Spare me the day that such an atrocity would not spark community outrage and shared responses. But some have overlaid identity politics on an emotional response in an unhealthy way. Prominent people have argued women should walk the streets unconcerned about their safety; that Western civilisation accepts violence against women; and that male culture is somehow to blame. Greens MP Adam Bandt told parliament we must “change men’s behaviour” and Malcolm Turnbull agreed, saying we need to “ensure that we change the hearts of men to respect women”.

These are trying times. Friends and family are mourning; a city is reeling. But we must always be capable of dealing with the reality around us. And even though there is no suggestion the victim was doing anything at all that would have increased her risk, we must maintain the ability to remind our women and men to avoid risks. Monsters live among us; disturbingly they always will.

Not all men shoulder these obscenities, just as not all women carry the shame of a murderous mother. We already teach our boys respect for women as they watch it lived around them. The way we show and share our love is not to spit blame and guilt widely. Like families, communities look out for others and remind each other to take care.


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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is overjoyed at the thought of the ABC being abolished

Budget bonanza: Free hampers gifted to new parents to ease cost of living

Baby boxes originated in Finland and were widely used by the Finnish government to help impoverished mothers amid the difficult economic circumstances immediately after WWII. Finland is now of course a prosperous country but Finnish mothers still look forwad to getting their box.

The practice has been much imitated in other places in the UK and the USA but usually seems to be discontinued after a time on cost grounds.  It is argued that the mothers could be better assisted in other ways.  But while it lasts it should be popular and the package described below does seem well thought-out

EVERY baby born in NSW will receive a free “lifesaving” hamper containing a sleeping bag, wrap, nappies, change mat and children’s book to help ease the burden on new parents.

Valued at around $150, the “baby bundle” is part of a $157 million parenting package to be unveiled on Tuesday when Treasurer Dominic Perrottet hands down the last state budget ­before the election in March.

With polling showing cost of living dominating voter concerns, relief for families is set to be a key theme of the budget, which will also focus on funding key infrastructure projects.

The hampers, which also include washable breastpads, a thermometer, sanitiser, toothbrush and nappy rash cream, are meant to encourage parents to read key health messages contained within the package, covering topics such as dental care, breastfeeding, child-proofing a home and a child’s key developmental stages.

The sleeveless sleeping bag is ­designed to help reduce the risk of bedclothes covering a baby’s face, a contributor to sudden infant death syndrome, while the children’s book is aimed at encouraging parents to start reading to their babies from the very beginning of their lives.

The items will be in addition to the child health and development “blue book” that has been handed out to new parents since 1988.

Around 90,000 babies are born in NSW each year.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the baby bundle was designed to encourage parents to consume important health messages.

“It will not only help reduce some of the initial costs faced by new ­parents, but it will also support positive health and development outcomes for babies and their families,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Other measures in the parenting package will include funds to expand the Newborn Bloodspot Screening program, with NSW becoming the first state to test for the life-threatening disease Congenital Adrenal ­Hyperplasia.

The government will also allocate $9.3 million for 100 new midwives, $4.3 million to pay for more nurse home visits, $5 million towards childhood cancer research and $2 million to improve play spaces for children in, mostly regional, paediatric wards.

Pregnant women and mothers with severe mental illness will also benefit from $1.1 million funding towards increased specialist peri-natal and infant mental health services.

The package will include $2.2 million for the Tresillian parent advice organisation to establish five Family Care Centre Hubs across regional NSW and the government will fund an update of its booklet Thinking Of Having A Baby. There will also be a $1.5 million boost to improve transport for pregnant women who need higher levels of care.

Mr Perrottet said cost of living is a key theme of the budget, which had shifted its focus to invest in people.

“Smaller investments can sometimes make a real difference in ­people’s lives, such as this baby-care bundle,” he said. “We want to make sure parents get the help they need in a heartbeat, which is why we are ramping up mental health services, midwife numbers and home visits.

“As we know, those first few days, while joyous, can also be tough.”


Treasury finds $10bn hole in Shorten’s retirees plan

Bill Shorten is facing a $10 billion black hole in his key savings plans to axe franking credit refunds for retirees, with a Treasury study confirming Labor had failed to calculate the expected changes in investment strategies among ­people hit by the tax changes.

The Treasury modelling, based on a two-month external review of the policy, revealed investors and retirees were likely to change their behaviour, resulting in $1bn less revenue being collected over the budget forward estimates than the opposition had banked on.

This immediate shortfall rises to a $9.9bn black hole over the 10-year period with Treasury calculating the policy would raise $45.8bn rather than the $55.7bn Labor claimed.

The modelling suggested ­people with larger refunds and self-managed super funds were likely to shift their investments into other income streams, ­including foreign equities.

The discovery of the funding shortfall in one of Labor’s key tax measures comes as the opposition this week will be forced to decide whether to back the government’s full $140bn 10-year income tax plan or face accusations of denying low-income earners a tax break from July 1.

As parliament resumes today for the final sitting fortnight ­before the July 28 by-elections, the government is expected to force a vote on both its income tax cut and company tax cut plans as well as passing key national security legislation.

The government will refuse to buckle to Labor’s demands that it separate the tax component for high-income earners, leaving the crossbench to break the impasse when a Senate committee on the tax plan reports back today, with debate due to begin immediately.

The opposition’s own tax and spending measures will be ­exploited by the government following the release of the Treasury costings of Labor’s franking credit policy. The modelling that would form the basis of Treasury’s ­advice to Labor if it won government was conducted externally by Treasury with independent ­advisers. It found that Labor’s budget projections had not taken into account significant behavioural changes.

It puts Treasury at odds with the Parliamentary Budget Office, which also provided costings for Labor’s policy, which the opposition has refused to release.

The behavioural modelling found self-managed super funds would rebalance portfolios away from franked dividend-paying shares to “other forms of income to compensate for the fall in after-tax returns on shares in the ­absence of refundability”. These were expected to include fixed-­income assets, property trusts, managed funds or offshore equities.

“The main mechanism by which individuals are expected to respond is through rebalancing their portfolios away from franked dividend paying shares,” the report said.

The report said it assumed the behavioural response increased with SMSF wealth to reflect ­factors such as the quality of ­financial advice. “This response increases over time to reflect ­investors’ shift away from investments previously attracting refunds in favour of alternative investment strategies,” it said.

Labor had originally claimed that its policy to abolish franking credit refunds would amount to $59bn in savings over 10 years, which the government claimed was a tax grab on retirees.

Mr Shorten was forced to ­rewrite the policy within weeks of its release by exempting pensions and welfare recipients after it was discovered many would be caught in the tax net. This reduced the number to $55.7bn over the decade and from $11.4bn to $10.7bn over the forward estimates.

The Treasury modelling has shaved a further $1.1 billion off the costings over the forward estimates, reducing Labor’s real take to $9.6bn and potentially undermining its spending commitments. It also revised the longer-term numbers down to $45.8bn, leaving Labor’s policy with a $9.9bn black hole.

Scott Morrison accused the ­opposition of building its entire spending program on a “house of cards” and compared it with the previous Labor’s government’s mining tax, which failed to recoup a fraction of the revenue it was ­designed to.

“This just highlights the vagaries and uncertainty of Labor’s revenues,” the Treasurer said.

“Treasury’s costing of Labor’s retiree tax proposal confirms concerns raised at the time Labor ­announced their proposal that they had overestimated the revenue they expected to collect. Labor’s retiree tax is far and away Labor’s biggest revenue measure over the forward estimates.”

Mr Morrison said Treasury’s advice confirmed that Labor’s revenue estimates for the retiree tax over the medium term were “particularly unreliable”.

“Yet Labor will seek to bank these unrealistic estimates and will bake into the budget long-term spending commitments,” he said.

“The government requested the costing and is releasing it in the interest of the public debate because yet again Labor chose not to release the detailed costing of their proposal by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.”

Labor Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen has admitted that the opposition always expected a “tough debate” over the policy.

Labor has stood by the numbers despite having to revise them down less than two weeks after the policy was first released in March.


PC brigade in a hate speech class of their own

The politically correct class in Australia has always been particularly zealous in its defence of provisions such as section 18C of the federal Racial Discrimination Act and similar provisions in the anti-discrimination laws of the states and territories.

These statutes make it unlawful to publish material that, in many cases, does no more than offend the sensibilities of various groups in the community. What these laws do is place a higher value on hurt feelings than on the rigorous public debate of political, social and economic questions.

It is under one of those laws that the Nine Network and Sonia Kruger face legal proceedings, starting ­tomorrow, alleging racial vilification. In a morning TV show, Kruger attempted to discuss the question of whether there was any correlation between Muslim immigration and terrorist incidents in various countries.

When it comes to its own participation in public debate, however, the politically correct class often has few limits on offensive and insulting statements.

When two members of the Senate proposed the amendment of section 18C in 2016, they were described by the chief political correspondent of The Sydney Morning Herald as “hate-speech apologists”. In addition one was said to be “a boorish, supercilious know-all with the empathy of a Besser block” and the other “an absurdist fringe-dweller”. Both were “self-promoting misanthropes”.

About the same time, in a ­Herald cartoon of Malcolm Turnbull speaking at the UN about refugees, he was shown as wearing three badges inscribed with: “Hate makes the world go around”, “Hate will find a way”, and “All you need is hate”.

One of the most flamboyant examples of this sort of rhetoric occurred last March when Julian Burnside posted on Twitter an image of the federal Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, in a Nazi uniform. This was a particularly striking example because Burnside is not from the fringes of Australian society. He is the product of Melbourne’s most prestigious private school, a Queen’s Counsel at the Victorian Bar and a member of the Order of Australia.

It would have been unthinkable in the fairly recent past that such an establishment figure would be involved in these kinds of guttersnipe exchanges, but the tenor of public debate in Australia has certainly changed in a relatively short space of time.

More recently there were the comments of a history professor at Sydney University who asked whether The Australian’s Greg Sheridan and Chris Kenny “think that Western countries are succumbing to a poisonous cocktail of multiculturalism, Muslim immigration, political correctness and cultural Marxism”, and added: “It seems that, much like Anders Breivik and Steve Bannon, they do.”

Putting aside this categorisation of former Trump staffer Bannon, Breivik was the person who murdered 77 people on one day in Norway in July 2011. This material was published in, of all places, the ABC’s religion and ethics website, but the reference to Breivik was later removed by the ABC. The professor said: “I think some people have overreached themselves with their incendiary rhetoric.” Quite so.

Sydney University staff have no monopoly on inflammatory statements. An edition of the student newspaper in May carried a photo on the cover of a female ­suicide bomber who had killed many Israelis, describing her as a “martyr” in the struggle against “Israeli colonisation”.

When the Australian Union of Jewish Students complained, the student representative council passed a motion condemning them and congratulating those who had worked on the newspaper “for their brave and highly defensible cover depicting a pro-Palestine freedom fighter”.

The domination of universities in Australia by the politically correct class is, of course, not a recent phenomenon. But their influence is just as pervasive in most public institutions and many private ones, including the boards of many public companies, often seemingly more concerned with taking a political stance than making a profit for their shareholders.

What is interesting, however, is the contrast between this group’s view of themselves as the moral guardians of society and their ferocious intolerance for anyone who expresses a view contrary to their own. It is as if those contrary views represent a threat to their role as moral guardians, whereas they occupy most of the commanding heights of Australian ­society and are, unfortunately, not at all threatened.

One thing they have done, however, is to lower the tone of public debate with virulent attacks on their opponents that reflect the deep intensity of their sanctimonious opinions.


Cash is no longer king in Australia

More consumers are dumping cash and cheques when it comes to paying up, and are using cards and their smartphones instead.
Updated Updated 1 hour ago

Australian consumers are accelerating their shift towards digital payments and away from cash and cheques, with new figures showing paying by card has surged while people make fewer trips to the ATM for cash.

Consumers made more than 8.3 billion card payments in 2017 - equal to a rate of almost 23 million transactions a day, according to a report from electronic payments industry group AusPayNet.

The bulk of those card payments - 5.6 billion - were made on debit cards, AusPayNet said, with credits tending to be used on more expensive purchases but still showing an increase in volume and value.

At the same time the number of cheques used fell almost 20 per cent to 89.7 million for the year, and the number of ATM withdrawals made fell 5.9 per cent to 610.1 million.

AusPayNet CEO Leila Fourie said the high uptake of technology and internet use in Australia, where almost 90 per cent of the population own a smartphone, was behind the increase in new ways of conducting transactions.

"This is driving uptake in digital payments and laying down a powerful base for the next wave of payments innovation," she said.

AusPayNet said more 60 per cent of consumers with a smartphone used their device to make payments.

Among the technological shifts aiding the uptake of digital payments is the New Payments Platform launched in February - a digital and near-real-time payments system allowing instant peer-to-peer payments.

AusPayNet also found Australia has a relatively high number of EFTPOS terminals and low number of ATMs compared to other countries.

Australia has 39,337 EFTPOS terminals per million inhabitants and 1,355 ATMs, while Canada has 38,892 EFTPOS terminals and 1,888 ATMS, the report said.

Australia ranked above Canada, Italy, Singapore and the UK on EFTPOS point concentration, while it lagged Korea, Canada, Belgium and Russia on the ATM count.


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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Professor ‘bragged about burying bad science’ on 3M chemicals

I am a bit reluctant to enter this old controversy again but I was amused that the Left-leaning Fairfax press is critical of "burying bad science".  I guess it is because you can be reasonably sure that any science the Left likes -- from Lysenko to global warming -- is in fact bad science. So they don't like it being buried.  As the replicability crisis has revealed, bad science is rife and in great need of exposure.

But I suppose that is just a quibble.  At issue is the basic toxicological dictum that the toxicity is in the dose.  There is no doubt that PFOS chemicals can be bad for you but at what dosage? Even water can kill you if you drink enough of it.

But there is a lot of "science" papers and publicity seeking authors that ignore that.  They excitedly announce some finding of bad effects in rats and then go on to utter large warnings about the threat to human health -- without considering the dose involved or even using very large doses.  Those are the bad papers that Prof. Giesy would have tried to stop.

That the chemical concerned gets into people and animals one way or another has been known for decades.  But the concentrations found are extremely minute -- measured in a few parts per billion. So how toxic is it?  It certainly seems to be seriously toxic to a range of animals but evidence of toxicity to people is slight.  And don't forget that this has been under investigation for a long time.

Additionally, it has been estimated that there is by now some PFOS in every American, so bad effects should be pretty evident by now.  But they are not.

Note that the controversy is about PFOS in general use -- as part of domestic items.  People who are for one reason or another exposed to exceptionally high levels of it could well have problems. And there do appear to have been some instances of that.

But the scare has been sufficient for the American manufacturers to stop production of the stuff and the levels in people have gone into steady decline.  So if it is a problem, it has been dealt with. 

The ethics of Prof. Giesy taking money from a chemical company is another matter.  It is the sort of thing that is widely challenged by the Left as showing bad faith or corruption but it is very widely done and evidence of the practice being corrupt is rarely offered.  The participants argue that the academics provide useful advice so should be paid for it

A reputation for integrity is essential to a scientist and scientists are very careful about doing anything that could risk that reputation.  So they make sure that what they do follows ethical guidelines.  So you will note at the very end of the article below that Prof. Giesy has been cleared of unethical behaviour by his university.  Compared to that clearance the insinuations below should be treated as dubious assertions designed to sell papers

As a leading international authority on toxic chemicals, Professor John P. Giesy is in the top percentile of active authors in the world.

His resume is littered with accolades, from being named in the Who’s Who of the World to receiving the Einstein Professor Award from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Professor Giesy was credited with being the first scientist to discover toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals in the environment, and with helping to persuade chemical giant 3M Company to abandon their manufacture.

But Fairfax Media can now reveal that Professor Giesy was accused of covertly doing 3M’s bidding in a widespread international campaign to suppress academic research on the dangers of PFAS.

A trove of internal company documents has been made public for the first time following a $US850 million ($1.15 billion) legal settlement between the company and Minnesota Attorney-General Lori Swanson. They suggest that Professor Giesy was one weapon in an arsenal of tactics used by the company to - in a phrase coined by 3M - “command the science” on the chemicals.

The documents have allowed the state to chronicle how 3M, over decades, allegedly misled the scientific community about the presence of its chemicals in the public’s blood, undermined studies linking the chemicals with cancer and scrambled to selectively fund research to be used as a “defensive barrier to litigation”.

Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, John Linc Stine, says there is a sense of violation in the community after 3M disposed of chemicals that have now seeped into the groundwater.

Experts have branded the strategies nearly identical to those used historically by the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.

At least 90 communities across Australia are being investigated for elevated levels of the contaminants, including 10 in Sydney.

The Australian government is aggressively defending a growing number of class actions from towns where the chemicals were used for decades in fire retardants on military bases, the runoff tainting the soil and water of surrounding homes.

The Department of Health maintains there is “no consistent evidence” that the chemicals can cause “important” health effects such as cancer. In arguing this, its experts have made reference to the work of 3M scientists, who insist the chemicals are not harmful at the levels found in the blood of humans.

On Saturday, Fairfax Media exposed cancer cluster fears centring on a high school in Oakdale, Minnesota, in America’s upper mid-west, a few blocks from 3M’s global headquarters and where the water was contaminated with PFAS.

3M has vigorously denied the allegations. It did not accept liability in February, when it reached a settlement on the courthouse steps over alleged damage to Minnesota’s natural resources and drinking water.

A spokesperson said: “The vast body of scientific evidence, which consists of decades of research conducted by independent third parties and 3M, does not show that these chemistries negatively impact human health at current exposure levels”.

But several leading public health agencies in the United States have sounded warnings to the contrary.

In 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency found the “weight of evidence” supported the conclusion that the chemicals were a human health hazard, warning that exposure over certain levels could result in immune and developmental effects and cancer.

The US National Toxicology Program found they were “presumed to be an immune hazard” based on high levels of evidence from animal studies and a moderate level from humans.

Immune suppression - usually as a result of conditions such as organ transplant or HIV - is known to increase the risk of several types of cancer by making the immune system less able to detect and destroy cancer cells or fight cancer-causing infections.

DuPont, which used PFAS chemicals in the manufacture of Teflon, reached a $US670 million settlement with residents living near its manufacturing plant in Ohio, West Virginia, last year, after an expert health panel conducted a large-scale epidemiological investigation. It concluded that residents’ drinking water, tainted with one of the chemicals called PFOA, had a “probable link” to six health conditions, including kidney and testicular cancer.

One of 3M’s own material data safety sheets for a PFAS chemical included a warning that it could cause cancer in 1997 - that was subsequently removed - according to the Minnesota case.

The chemical of greatest concern in Australia is perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, arguably the most toxic of the chemicals studied. This was widely used in Scotchgard and fire-fighting foams.

Last month, there was a storm of controversy amid claims that the US EPA and the White House blocked the publication of a health study on PFAS carried out by the country’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

In emails leaked to Politico, a Trump administration aide warned that the report would be a “public relations nightmare” because it would show that the chemicals endangered human health at far lower levels than what the EPA had previously deemed safe.

Health warnings were echoed by Harvard Professor Philippe Grandjean and Professor Jamie DeWitt of North Carolina State University in their expert testimonies for the State of Minnesota.

Professor Grandjean argued that PFAS chemicals pose a “substantial present and potential hazard” to human health, including to immune, thyroid, liver, endocrine, cardiovascular and reproductive functions, and by “causing or increasing the risk of cancer”.

“Both PFOA and PFOS show convincing associations with these outcomes,” he said, adding that risks to human health had been identified at very low exposure levels.

Watching 'bad papers'

To the outside world, Professor Giesy was a renowned and independent university academic.

“But privately, he characterised himself as part of the 3M team,” alleged the State of Minnesota.

“Despite spending most of his career as a professor at public universities, Professor Giesy has a net worth of approximately $20 million. This massive wealth results at least in part from his long-term involvement with 3M for the purpose of suppressing independent scientific research on PFAS.”

Professor Giesy’s consulting company appears to have received payments from 3M between at least 1998 and 2009. One document indicated his going rate was about $US275 an hour.

In an email to a 3M laboratory manager, Professor Giesy described his role as trying to keep “bad papers out of the literature”, because in “litigation situations they can be a large obstacle to refute”.

Professor Giesy was an editor of several academic journals and, in any given year, about half of the papers submitted on PFAS came to him for review.

“Some journals … for conflict-of-interest issues will not allow an industry to review a paper about one of their products. That is where I came in,” he wrote in another email.

“In time sheets, I always listed these reviews as literature searches so that there was no paper trail to 3M.”

Professor Giesy is alleged to have passed confidential manuscripts on to 3M, as well as an email from an EPA scientist detailing its latest PFAS investigations in Athens, Georgia. He allegedly bragged about rejecting the publication of at least one paper containing negative information about PFAS.

In another email chain, a 3M manager was concerned that a study Professor Giesy had drafted was “suggestive” of possible PFAS health hazards and should be cushioned with an accompanying document on the health effects.

“This paper … could set off a chain reaction of speculation that could reopen the issue with the media and move it back to a health story; something up to now we have avoided,” he wrote.

Professor Giesy is based at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, but he also holds positions with the University of Michigan and several Chinese universities.

An internal 3M document referred to him needing to “buy favours” when developing joint projects with Chinese colleagues “over whom he can exert some influence”.

A spokesperson for the University of Saskatchewan said it had conducted two reviews of Dr Giesy’s conduct.

“We found nothing out of the ordinary or evidence of conflict of interest,” she said.


If you say untrue things about government, is the government free to publish true things about you?

One would think it only fair but apparently government should be muzzled, according to some.  Lies are not protected free speech

Australia’s national privacy office has ruled that individuals should “reasonably expect” the government will release sensitive personal data publicly to refute its critics, sparking concerns of a “chilling effect” on free speech.

Late on Monday evening, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner released the findings of an inquiry it launched in March last year following the Department of Human Services’ release of a blogger’s personal Centrelink history to a media organisation.

The Department did so to refute details contained in an opinion piece by the blogger for Fairfax Media in which she claimed that she had been “terrorised” by Centrelink as part of the controversial robodebt scheme.

After the opinion piece was published in February 2017, a briefing was provided to another journalist that detailed the blogger’s welfare history. This lead to a follow-up article claiming Centrelink may have been “unfairly castigated”.

The blogger in question complained to the OAIC, and former information and privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim opened an investigation into the matter in March.

Fourteen months later, the office has decided that the government was allowed to release the personal data under the Australian Privacy Principles, as individuals should “reasonably expect” the government to release private information under those circumstances.

The decision has sparked huge backlash against the OAIC and the country’s privacy laws more broadly.

The Australian Privacy Principles, which apply to all Australian government departments and agencies, include a range of exceptions where the personal information of an individual can be disclosed for another purpose.

These include when the individual would “reasonably expect the secondary use or disclosure” and this is related to the primary purpose of collection of the information.

It is under this exception that the department was allowed to release the blogger’s personal information to the media, the OAIC ruled.

“Having carefully considered the specific public statements made by the Centrelink customer, and the specific information disclosed in response, the acting Australian Information Commissioner and acting Privacy Commissioner reached the conclusion that, in this instance, the disclosure was permitted by APP 6.2(a)(ii),” the OAIC said in its decision.

The decision was made more than a year after the investigation was launched, and after the retirement of former privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim.

Angelene Falk has been serving as acting privacy commissioner since Mr Pilgrim’s retirement in March, with the agency close to announcing his replacement.

The OAIC’s decision pointed to a case note from 2010 as providing precedent, in which the Commissioner’s Plain English Guidelines to Information Privacy Principles gives examples of when an individual may be considered to be “reasonably likely” to think their information may be disseminated.

“A person who complains publicly about an agency in relation to their circumstances (for example, to the media) is considered to be reasonably likely to be aware that the agency may respond publicly – and in a way that reveals personal information relevant to the issues they have raised,” the guidelines say.

A number of Australian civil and digital rights advocates have been left outraged by the decision, with Electronic Frontiers Australia board member Peter Tonoli saying it “flies in the face of trust in government”.

Electronic Frontiers Australia policy team member Drew Mayo said she is concerned the recent ruling could have a chilling effect on criticisms of the government, with individuals concerned that their sensitive data will then be released publicly.

“EFA is extremely concerned about the implications of the recent ruling. The chilling effect posed by this decision is a direct risk to democracy and an attack on the strongest free speech protection Australians have, the implied right of political communication,” Mr Mayo told

“We call on the government to enshrine in law the right of Australians to comment robustly on government policy without the risk of private data being released in retribution.”

The department has claimed that the release of the sensitive data was “proportionate” given the claims made in the blogger’s opinion piece.

“The recipient had made a number of claims that were unfounded and it is the opinion of officers that this was likely to concern other individuals,” Department secretary Kathryn Campbell said.

“That’s why we felt that it was appropriate to release the information, so that people knew it was important to file their tax returns and tell us about changes in their circumstances. In this case, our data said that had not occurred and that is why we had been chasing the debt,” she said.


Thales Sonar Upgrades to Extend Australia's Collins Class Submarine Capability

Australia’s Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has announced major upgrades of the Thales sonars on Australia’s fleet of six Collins Class submarines.

The sonar upgrades are essential to extend the life of the Collins class submarines and maintain their regional superiority.

The A$230million contract with Thales for the sonar upgrades will employ 50 people at Thales Australia’s Rydalmere facility, in Western Sydney, where world-leading sonar technology is manufactured and integrated.

Australia’s strategic priority on enhancing its submarine capability will be supported by Thales through major upgrades of the sonar systems on all six Collins class submarines. The A$230million contract with Thales is part of a A$542million project  approved by the Australian Government for the upgrade of the Collins class sensor capabilities, the key to extending the life and the regional superiority of the Collins fleet.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said the Collins sonar upgrades continued a 30 year history of support for the Collins program since the original transfer of sonar technology from France in the 1980’s that formed the basis of the underwater systems business in Australia.

“It is critical that Australia maintain the highest levels of submarine capability from the Collins fleet until the Future Submarine enters service. The sonar systems are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the submarines, and Thales will bring together the best underwater sensing technology from around the world to ensure the Collins remains a potent force” Mr Jenkins said.

Manufacturing and integration work will be carried out at Thales’s underwater systems centre of excellence in Rydalmere, Western Sydney, supporting more than 140 jobs, including 50 people directly employed on the project.

In an internationally collaborative program, the Collins’ legacy cylindrical array will be replaced with a Modular Cylindrical Array (MCA) based on Sonar 2076 submarine technology developed by Thales teams in the UK. The existing flank array will be replaced by the latest generation flank array from Thales teams in France.

Thales will work with local industry including Raytheon Australia as the Combat System Integrator to deliver the upgrades for the six submarines integrating products from other Australian providers including Sonartech Atlas, and L3 Oceania.

Thales is a key strategic partner of the Australian Defence Force and the Royal Australian Navy, and is Australia’s market leader in underwater systems, having supplied advanced sonar and minesweeping systems to naval and civil customers in Australia and overseas for more than three decades.

“France and Australia have collaborated closely on sonar systems for the Collins submarines since the start of the program more than 30 years ago. Thales teams based in France, UK and Australia have worked together as one team to master the sonar technology in Australia and to share know-how with one ambition: assure long term regional superiority for the Royal Australian Navy.” Alexis Morel, Vice-President, Underwater Systems at Thales.

Via email

Indigenous child welfare double standards will perpetuate gap                                                 

Bill Shorten has been rightly criticised for his comments suggesting ‘culture’ take priority over the welfare of Indigenous children — and for suggesting that only ‘whitefellas’ say otherwise.

But it’s really Indigenous politics that Shorten is talking about taking precedence over children’s best interests.

The Indigenous industry is pushing hard to stop child removals. If removals continue at present rates, the future of the rural and remote ‘homelands’ will be jeopardised and so will  the taxpayer funding received by the plethora of Indigenous organisations that provide services to these communities.

The industry says that the way to stop child removals and fix the underlying social problems and dysfunction is to ‘empower’ Indigenous-controlled organisations and communities to implement the solutions they claim to know work on the ground.

This approach was not successful during the era of ATISC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission) which was abolished after presiding over corruption, failure, and an ever-widening gap in social outcomes between the most disadvantaged Indigenous people and all other Australians.

We are now being told that it will be different this time because Indigenous-controlled services will be properly evaluated for their effectiveness and held accountable for the outcomes they do — or do not — achieve.

This is not before time because Indigenous child protection poses the most complex and intractable social problem in the nation.

To ensure children can remain safely at home and close (allegedly) to culture, the array of social problems (from welfare dependence to drug and alcohol abuse to family violence) that plague and are entrenched in Indigenous families and communities — and which are intergenerational in nature and decades in the making — have to resolved within a short, child-centred timeframe to ensure that children are properly cared for and parented.

What this means is that child protection – that is, welfare-based decisions about whether children need to be removed from their own safety and well-being — is the ultimate accountability, and the ultimate measure, of whether services are actually effective at promoting the welfare of the most vulnerable members of Indigenous community.

Creating the kind of double-standard and different treatment of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children proposed by the Opposition Leader, at the behest of the indigenous industry, would therefore clearly be a retrograde step in indigenous affairs.

This is not the way to ‘close the gap’. It is nothing short of a recipe for perpetuating and exacerbating ‘gaps’ by leaving Indigenous children in harm’s way.


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

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Communist Party member prostituted her daughters

Communists reject "bourgeois morality"

A prominent writer has revealed that playwright and feminist Dorothy Hewett asked him at a 1970s conference: “Aren’t you going to f..k my daughters?’’

This extraordinary conversation reportedly occurred when Hewett’s elder daughter, Kate ­Lilley, was 15, and her younger daughter, Rozanna Lilley, was 13.

Then aged in his 30s, the writer told Hewett: “I’m not interested in f..king children.’’ To which Hewett replied: “You’re the only one around here who isn’t.’’

The writer describes this unsettling exchange in a letter he sent to Kate Lilley this week, following allegations unveiled by The Weekend Australian that Hewett “encouraged” and “facilitated” her daughters’ early sexualisation in the predatory 1970s arts scene.

Kate, a poet and an associate professor of English at Sydney University, said last week that during the 70s, her family’s home in Sydney’s east was “unbearable’’ and “as an acquaintance says — like a brothel without payment … There were constantly men staying in the house and hardly any man came to the house who didn’t try to have sex with one or more of us.”

Yesterday she said the exchange between her mother and the writer would have taken place at the 1976 National Playwrights Conference in Canberra, where her mother’s play, The Golden ­Oldies, was being workshopped.

The writer said in his letter: “I wasn’t shocked (by Hewett’s question). I just thought that Dorothy was simply encouraging you (Kate) to rebel against the mores of the time.

“Merv (Lilley, Kate’s father) was at the conference, so he must have been complicit. Two old lefties, I thought, still trying to liberate society, starting with their daughters.’’

Kate confirmed she did not sleep with this writer, but had ­underage sex with a director at the playwriting conference, who was also in his 30s.

She said she found the letter “brutal”, as the writer “thought nothing of it (her mother’s question). That is exactly the kind of salacious conversation that went on,’’ she said.

Although the letter writer was “saddened” to read about the negative effects of the abuse Kate and Rozanna suffered, Kate said that ultimately “I didn’t take the letter as a gesture of support … it was just another person saying don’t damage your mother’s reputation’’.

The writer, now in his 70s, went on to say that “as a result of (The Weekend Australian’s) ­article, Dorothy’s reputation as a writer may be harmed” and “this would be our loss’’.

The letter has come to light as divisions within Hewett’s ­family widen over the abuse allegations. Kate and Rozanna’s half-brother, Joe Flood, and his ex-wife, Adele Flood, said they were distressed and angry about the claims, and remember Hewett as being “kind” and “supportive” ­towards all her children.

In contrast, Kate has alleged that a visiting poet who raped her at her family’s home when she was 15, went on to have relationships with her mother and sister.

She and Rozanna also alleged that well-known artists Bob Ellis, Martin Sharp and David Hamilton assaulted, exploited or had underage sex with them.


Muslim ghettoes forming in Australia as white residents flee

Demographic shifts driven by Australia’s immigration program threaten to lock Sydney’s western suburbs and parts of Melbourne into a bleak future, as low-income ethnic clusters struggle to cope with congestion and social dislocation, experts warn.

Large numbers of new arrivals who have difficulty finding work have poured into Sydney’s west, according to census-based research commissioned by The Weekend Australian.

“Uncompromisingly direct” evidence from the research confirms an exodus of affluent locals from western Sydney is occurring at an equally significant rate.

Over five years to 2016, according to the research conducted by The Weekend Australian’s columnist and demographer Bernard Salt, up to two-thirds of the 266,000 new arrivals in Sydney’s western suburbs were not Australian-born and had a “non-Anglo heritage”.

Of those who departed over the same period, 63 per cent of the 183,000 total were Australian-born and a further 5 per cent were born in Britain or New Zealand.

Melbourne is experiencing a similar pattern, though not as intense, reflecting cheaper housing as more land is opened up in outlying suburbs.

Debate over migrant enclaves was reignited last month when NSW Labor leader Luke Foley spoke out about “white flight” from a middle-ring of Sydney suburbs “where many Anglo families have moved out”.

While pressured to apologise for using the term “white flight” — first coined in the US to describe white residents leaving in ­response to inflows of African-Americans — Mr Foley said he was empathising with migrants in the west who were denied jobs and other opportunities that were taken for granted elsewhere.

He named Fairfield, Guildford, Granville, Yennora, Sefton and Regents Park — some of which fall in his electorate of Auburn — as suburbs with a high concentration of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge raised concerns about the social integration of “parallel” Asian and Middle Eastern migrant communities this week when he flagged government plans for a mandatory basic English requirement for all new permanent ­residents.

Mr Tudge said research showed a lack of English language skills among migrants had contributed to social fragmentation. He cited suburbs where one in three could not speak English well, or at all.

Bob Birrell, head of the Australian Population Research Institute, said evidence proved Mr Foley was right about population movements in the western suburbs, even if his choice of phrase was politically unfortunate. “It’s a real phenomenon,” Dr Birrell said.

He said cheaper housing was forcing migrants west, and prompting an outflow of residents who no longer recognised their suburb and could afford to move. The only immediate solution to “take the heat” out of ­population stress, he said, was to cut back on overseas migration.

Mayor of Fairfield Frank Carbone said migration to his area was so rapid that services were falling behind.

Mr Carbone said Fairfield took 7000 Syrian refugees in a short time, over and above the general intake of 1000, following former prime minister Tony Abbott’s decision to accept Syrian Christians dislocated by civil war.

As a consequence, he said, Fairfield had the highest household occupancy rate and highest unemployment jump in the nation. Migrants who could not find work were forced to stay with family or others they knew, compounding the population concentration.

“The government may have stopped the boats — but they put them on buses to Fairfield,” Mr Carbone said.

“All I’m saying is that the federal government has a responsibility — I’m not critical of refugees coming here but we have to make sure our existing resources are not strained beyond what we can cope with. Fairfield has done the heavy lifting for the nation.”

While Mr Carbone said he disagreed with Mr Foley’s use of language, the NSW Opposition Leader had raised valid issues. “What’s pushing people out is the strain on resources,” he said.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s state budget, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the state government did not control immigration, because it was a federal matter. He said the state’s challenge was to deliver the right infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing population. “There is no doubt some pressure is being felt by this growth,” he said.

Mr Foley argues that more planning is needed in the west for transport, education and employment opportunities.

Writing in The Weekend Australian today, Salt says Australian cities do not have the racial mix of US cities, but do have large concentrations of Anglo and non-Anglo popula­tions that cluster. Across urban Sydney, 39 per cent of the population was born outside Australia — compared with 29 per cent in greater New York, Paris (22 per cent), Berlin (13 per cent) Tokyo (2 per cent) and Shanghai (1 per cent).

“No other nation, and few other developed-world cities … ­accommodate the scale of immigration that is right now being ­injected into Australia’s biggest city,” Salt writes.

The influx of migrants to Sydney’s west — in Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown and Parramatta — has placed enormous strain on services that have not kept pace with population growth. But these areas face other problems. While the in-shifting cohort is more likely than locals to have a tertiary qualification, a lack of jobs awaits them, fuelling overall economic decline with low incomes and poverty encouraging some ethnic groups to shut themselves off further from the wider community. At the same time, better-off ­locals — mainly Australian-born but also financially successful migrants — have moved out to areas including the Hills Shire (16,100), Campbelltown (11,000), Camden (9800) and the central coast (9000).

Dr Birrell said that, just as ­arriving migrants found their living circumstances difficult, “Anglo” locals experienced strains because sudden high concentrations of newcomers with non-English-speaking backgrounds and different cultures led to noticeable changes in the composition of schools, clubs, civic associations and shopping areas. Residents often no longer recognised their suburb, and felt uncomfortable.

Schools figured as a “big” issue motivating departures, Dr Birrell said. A 60 to 70 per cent influx of migrants could greatly alter cultural concentration in the classroom. “Anglo” parents sought schools outside the area with more familiar settings. Dr Birrell said recently arrived migrants with non-English-speaking backgrounds settled in the western suburbs primarily because housing was cheaper — but jobs were scarce.

Apart from migration cutbacks, Dr Birrell said the remedy was to address accommodation shortages that had pushed up house prices and rental costs by opening more residential space, and making housing less attractive to investors. Mr Carbone said Fairfield needed more accommodation and services to cope with congestion. The other challenge was unemployment, he said. ­Migrants would get jobs if they had better language skills.

Ernest Healy, a Monash University researcher on migrant settlement and social cohesion, has attributed many of the problems faced by immigrants to housing shortages. According to research conducted with Dr Birrell, Dr Healy found income levels were critical to flows in and out. Low-income people with non-­English-speaking backgrounds were “locked into these areas”.


'Absolutely I've been discriminated against': Man claims Officeworks refused to let him print posters criticising Islam because it's 'the holy month of Ramadan'

An activist who was refused service at Officeworks for attempting to print out anti-Islamic posters has hit out at the chain store, claiming his right to freedom of speech has been violated.

Avi Yemini and Ralf Schumann of the Australian Liberty Alliance are both regular customers at the Officeworks branch in South Melbourne: printing and laminating any materials there that are too large to print in their own office. Like, for example, an armful of flyers for an upcoming rally they've organised in support of free speech and defense of Sonia Kruger.

'We went there this afternoon like we have for 3 or 4 years,' Mr Schumann told Daily Mail Australia. 'The chap on the counter puts the USB stick in like he always does, gets the first screen up like he always does - and calls his young manager over.

'[The manager] then gives me a lecture on their shop policy and tells me that they will not print anything that is offensive to Muslims and especially not in the holy month of Ramadan.'

One of the posters declares that: 'Criticising perverse ideologies is not racial discrimination. Islam does not equal race'.

The second features the face of Sonia Kruger - who is due to face the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal over blasphemy and vilification charges - alongside the text: 'Mass blasphemy! Half of Australia agrees with Sonia #LetsTalkAboutIslam.'

Mr Schumann went on to explain how the store manager told him 'we [Officeworks] can't print these racist things.'

'So I wrote a brief email to the manager to tell him that his store policy does not override federal or state anti-discrimination laws,' said Mr Schumann.

'These laws happen both ways: you can't discriminate on religious grounds OR political grounds.'

Mr Schumann insists that, in this case, he's the one who is the victim of discrimination. 'Absolutely I've been discriminated against,' he declared.

'You go into a shop and they tell you 'I don't serve you because of your political opinion.' Well, we're happy to cry foul over political discrimination.'

Officeworks refused to comment when approached by Daily Mail Australia.

The company has, however, since posted a comment on a Facebook video that Mr Yemini uploaded on Friday. In the video, Mr Yemini trumpets to his 168,000 followers how the chain store has disrespected his right to freedom of speech.

'At Officeworks, we respect our customers' right to free speech,' the company's comment reads. 'However our policy prohibits customers from printing any materials which may be threatening, abusive or incite hatred on any person.

'In relation to your recent visit to our South Melbourne store, our team member has misinterpreted the policy. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.'

Mr Schumann asserts that: 'Nothing on those two placards was in any way inciting violence or being nasty to any person or group of persons.'

Mr Yemini further claims that the office supplies chain's refusal to print the posters is in violation of consumer law.

'If they have a complaint under racial discrimination they can refuse it, but this wasn't racial discrimination,' he said.

'We criticised Islam, and that in [the store clerk's] eyes during the holy month of Ramadan is unacceptable. Unfortunately Officeworks took his side, protecting Islam before Australian values.'


Liberal Party members vote to privatise ABC and move Australia's Israel embassy to Jerusalem

Liberal Party members have endorsed a bid to move Australia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and to privatise the ABC, highlighting a gulf between the rank-and-file and the MPs who represent them.

More than 100 MPs and members are in Sydney for the Liberal Party of Australia's annual federal council which is expected to be the last before the next federal election.

The council has this morning endorsed a motion moved by the Victorian division calling on the Turnbull Government to follow the US and move Australia's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the conference she could understand the sentiment but declared Australia would not be moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

"Jerusalem is a final status issue and we have maintained that position for decades," Ms Bishop said.

However, Ms Bishop's intervention failed to convince the majority of the members and the motion passed 43 votes to 37.

None of the motions at the federal council is binding, meaning they are unlikely to have any impact on the Government's policies, but they provide an insight into the internal machinations of the party.

The council backed a West Australian motion to "abstain from military intervention in Syria" and voted overwhelmingly in favour of a Young Liberal bid calling for the, "full privatisation of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, except for services into regional areas".

Like the Foreign Minister before him, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield made it clear that would not be happening.

One Liberal source highlighted the fact party members were sending a clear signal they wanted a change in direction and said it was a sign of the, "ascendancy of the conservatives".

The party's right wing used its numbers yesterday to dump one of the four Liberal vice-presidents, Trish Worth, who is aligned with the moderates, and replace her with NSW conservative Tina McQueen.

A new religious-right, conservative force has recently taken over the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party and — along with elements of the ACT and West Australian division — is using the federal conference to flex its muscle.

While this internal power play between the moderates and conservative simmers beneath the surface, Liberal heavyweights have used their addresses to call for unity.

Liberal president Nick Greiner told the party to put its "lazy and self-indulgent" internal fights aside and start fighting for the "soul of the nation".

With an election due in less than 12 months time, former prime minister John Howard told members he thinks Malcolm Turnbull can win. "I am greatly encouraged about the future of the Liberal Party," Mr Howard said. "I think Malcolm Turnbull can win. I think things are going better now than they have been for the last six months."

Mr Howard — who is lauded and greatly respected by Liberal members — also backed the embattled Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, who is facing a preselection challenge. Mr Kelly is an outspoken conservative backbencher but could be dumped in favour of Kent Johns, who is aligned with party moderates.

If that happens, there are concerns tensions between the two factions could flare up and spill over into other preselection contests.


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

Friday, June 15, 2018

Citizenship Minister warns of ghettos unless Australia forces migrants to learn English

This is closing the gate after the horse has bolted. Learning a new language in adulthood is very difficult -- and just about impossible for poorly educated people. The migrants concerned should not have been admitted in the first place.  Proficiency in English should be a uniform requirement for any grant of residency

Australia's Citizenship Minister has warned European-style ghettos will form unless migrants are forced to learn English.

Parts of Paris, Berlin and Brussels have become no-go zones for police as poorer suburbs in major European cities become a haven for Muslim terrorists and violent extremism.

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said Australia needed to act to stop ethnic ghettos forming by making migrants sit English language tests.

'What we don’t want is what you see in some European countries where you start to get parallel communities emerge,' he told Sky News today.

The minister from Melbourne, which has been a hive of Sudanese gang activity, said English language tests were an essential part of ensuring migrants integrated into the Australian community.

'In Australia, the secret to our success is we've largely had integrated communities where people have blended together regardless of where they've come from,' he said. 'We want to make sure that continues and central to that is a common language.'

The number of people living in Australia who speak little or no English is rising rapidly, and forecast to reach one million within just three years.

Alan Tudge is expected to announce the new conversation test plans in a speech to the Sydney Institute on Thursday. Mr Tudge will say the government is concerned with the growing number of people who cannot communicate in English, The Australian reported.

'As we ­approach a million without English capability, we will begin to get more social fragmentation,' Mr Tudge's speech reads.  'There are suburbs where up to one in three cannot speak the national language well or at all.

'Further, because of the concentration in particular areas, there is less demand on the individuals to have to interact with other ­Australians.'

Mr Tudge will cite large cities like Sydney and Melbourne, which together are home to 67 suburbs where more than 50 per cent of people were born overseas.

Of those, 28 suburbs have populations with over 60 per cent of people overseas-born, many of whom do not speak English.

In one such suburb, Greater Dandenong in Melbourne's south-east, 61.7 per cent of the 152,000 residents were born overseas, and 17 per cent do not speak English well.

The number of permanent residents who speak little or no English rose from 300,000 in 1981 to 820,000 in 2016. Census data shows that number will hit one million by 2021, 2026 if children are not included.

A conversational English test would replace the International English Language Testing System used to assess skilled migrants.

Mr Tudge will argue a language test is standard in many countries with high immigration, and is not a new idea.

The new mandatory requirement could affect up to 130,000 new arrivals to Australia every year.

This is not the first time Mr Tudge has flagged the importance of English for migrants. In March he suggested migrants must demonstrate they've made an effort to integrate before becoming citizens, steps which could include joining a Rotary Club or a soccer team.

The government has been in talks with crossbench MPs to garner support for changes to citizenship laws that were shot down in the Senate last year.


Woman begs Christian picketers to leave her alone as they urge her not to enter an abortion clinic

It should be noted that when picketers do succeed in dissuading an abortion, the mothers are usually grateful afterwards that their child was saved

Footage has been posted to Facebook of a woman harassing patients as they enter an abortion clinic. Two videos were posted to advocacy group Young Queenslanders for the Right To Choose last Saturday.

In the first video the protester is seen approaching the doors of Options Clinic in Spring Hill waving a foetus sized doll and exclaiming 'Medical facts say they have a heartbeat from 18 days, please don't terminate your baby.'

The second video shows the religious picketer preaching to a patient. 'God hates the hands that shed his blood,' she tells the woman before she is interrupted.

'Just shut up that is so traumatic. That is so f*cking traumatic.'

The woman tries assuring the patient that she wants to help her, before the patient interjects and tells her she doesn't want her help.

'That baby's got a heartbeat love, please turn away, we can help you,' she says, raising her voice.

The patient goes inside and the woman returns to her place on the sidewalk.

Before the video ends, she turns to the pro-choice volunteers and addresses them. 'That baby's got a heartbeat and what that is is murder, and you guys are standing, you will stand before God as murderers by supporting this horrific act.' 

This incident comes just days after New South Wales passed a legislation to enact safe-access zones around abortion clinics.  This legislation, introduced by Labor MP Penny Sharpe, was passed a week ago and protects patients from harassment and intimidation by protesters with 150 metre zones around the clinics.

The pro-choice young advocacy group Young Queenslanders for the Right To Choose posted the video to Facebook in hopes to spread how traumatic the experience can be

Following New South Wales, Queensland is set to become the next state to legislate safe access zones. Queenland's Law Reform Commission is set to hand down a report into legislation within the next month.

Kate Marchesi, the volunteer who posted the video told Buzzfeed News that she wanted to show how traumatic the protesters could be.

'The protesters outside the clinics regularly say that they are sidewalk counsellors who offer support, help and another option to women accessing abortion clinics, and in my experience attending these clinics as an escort this couldn't be further from the truth.'


Australian soldiers fly a Nazi swastika flag over their military vehicle in Afghanistan

Military men in all of the services tend to adorn their vehicles and equipment with aggressive iconography and this would have been simply that: minatory but not political

Australian soldiers have been photographed flying a Nazi flag over a military vehicle in Afghanistan.

The disturbing images show a swastika symbol - synonymous with racial hatred, fascism and genocide - hoisted above Australian Defence personnel in 2007.

An army source told the ABC a solider took the flag to the warzone as a 'twisted joke' - not as an expression of Nazism.

They claimed the flag was flown for a 'prolonged period', though the Department of Defence refuted that claim.

'Defence and the ADF reject as abhorrent everything this flag represents. Neither the flag nor its use are in line with Defence values,' a spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.

'The flag was briefly raised above an Australian Army vehicle in Afghanistan in 2007. The commander took immediate action to have the offensive flag taken down.

'It is totally inappropriate for any ADF vehicle or company to have a flag of this nature... The flag was destroyed once the unit returned from that operation.'

The spokesman said the soldiers involved were cautioned and received further counselling.

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, described the photos as 'deeply troubling and distressing'.

'The flying of the Nazi flag, the most evil symbol in the history of mankind by our soldiers is a slap in the face to the diggers who fought valiantly and died to defeat Hitler,' Dr Abramovich told Daily Mail Australia.

'The swastika represents pure hatred and the crimes of a regime responsible for the most destructive conflict the world has ever known, including the murder of six million Jews and millions of others.

'At a time of escalating anti-Semitism and intolerance, this vile display of bigotry is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good to speak out against such abhorrence, and that racism is still rampant in parts of our society.'

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull slammed the flag as 'completely and utterly unacceptable'. 'It was absolutely wrong and their commanders took action at the time,' Mr Turnbull said in Hobart on Thursday.


The option to pick your parents: Children could be allowed to choose whether to live with their mother or father under new custody reforms

It would be a disgrace if the kids are not heard on this

Children would have the power to tell judges who they want to live with under drastic new reforms being proposed in one Australian state.      

Queensland Family and Child Commissioner (QFCC) Cheryl Vardon has called for children to be given more say on which parents they live with, the Courier Mail reported.    

She believes judges should consult children in custody disputes to ensure their voices and opinions are heard. 'We need a better way of listening to the voices and opinions of children,' she told the publication. 'With safeguards, we certainly believe children should be heard in court proceedings.

'It's all very well to aim for shared care but that's simply not appropriate if that means the child is going to be damaged further.'

The news comes amid a Federal Government review into the Family Law system. The  inquiry highlights 'protecting the needs of the children of separating families' in its terms of reference.

In its submission to the review, the QFCC said the primary consideration for determining what is in the child's best interests should be the 'need to protect the child from harm'. 

'The legislation should be drafted in such a way to make this explicitly clear,' the commission's submission states.

'While there is a benefit to the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents, this should not be placed above a child's protection.'  

Parents were divided on the reforms on social media on Thursday. One parent said he was concerned the child would pick the 'parent who spoils them'.

Another person said: 'Children don't have the experience to make good judgement and decisions'. 

A more supportive parent described the concept fair. 'The kid's wishes should be considered,' she said.

The Queensland Family and Child Commission, in a statement provided to Daily Mail Australia, said it is important for children to be meaningfully engaged. 

'The QFCC believes it is important for children to be given the opportunity to meaningfully engage throughout proceedings, in ways that are trauma-informed, culturally safe and age appropriate,' the commission stated.

'The opportunity to be heard would of course need to be considered along with other expert inputs to inform a decision.

'The QFCC does not suggest that engaging with a child would lead to, or suggest ‘picking a parent’ as an outcome, rather providing a more inclusive engagement process where children can express their views and have their voices heard.'


The NBN debacle again

A couple have been quoted over a million dollars to have NBN installed at their house just kilometres from Melbourne's CBD.

Alistair Stewart revealed he was quoted between $800,000 and $1.2 million to have the NBN connected to his house south-east of the Victorian capital.

The Australian Government owned company is currently rolling out the fibre connections to replace current broadband which will provide faster internet services.

While NBN is compulsory, Mr Stewart said the company quoted him the extensive figure because his Jam Jerrup house is seven kilometres away from the nearest connection point

While NBN is compulsory, Mr Stewart said the company quoted him the extensive figure because his Jam Jerrup house is seven kilometres away from the nearest connection point, ABC News reported.

'The best way to put this is that NBN want you to shut up and live with what you've got. "Anything but fibre" is the motto. That's how I feel,' he told ABC Radio Melbourne. 'Outrageous, absolutely outrageous.'

Mr Stewart, who is an IT consultant and often works at home, said NBN was rolled out in his area 18 months ago but he was given the 'terrible' and 'inconsistent' fixed wireless connection - not the better optic fibre connection.

An NBN spokesperson told the publication it was unrealistic to run a fibre seven kilometres for one property and the furthest they had run a wire was two kilometres.

The company said it costs about $30,000 to run a wire just a few hundred metres.

Despite claiming to offer better services, NBN was recently slammed for blaming online gamers for congestion and slow connections.


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

Thursday, June 14, 2018


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG rightly predicts that the media won't like the Trump/Kim detente

Is Australia’s current drought caused by climate change? It’s complicated

Rubbish!  They are just obfuscating below. It's not complicated at all.  Rainfall in Australia regularly oscillates between the North and South of the continent. If there is drought in Victoria, there will be extra rain in Queensland, and vice versa. 

And the present pattern is a confirmation of that.  While there is reduced rainfall down South we in Brisbane are getting a lot of rain.  Autumn and winter here are normally dry but this month  there seems to be rain a couple of times a week.  And in March it rained nearly every day, with some big falls among that.  Statewide it was much the same.   Hence the headline in March: "Queensland's wet weather breaks dozens of records as rain still falls" and "Far North Queensland residents urged to be vigilant in floodwaters across the region" 

Cairns in March

And the trees and plants are showing the effects of all the rain.  This year, my cumquat tree has really leapt for the sky. It's put on at least a foot of growth recently.  It seems to know more than the meteorologists do.

We do have some of those splendid fine clear days at the moment that Brisbane winters are known for but we have just as many cloudy days.

How come a humble social scientist like me knows all that while there is no hint of that knowledge from the climate mavens below? They know bupkis but as long as they can drag in some mention of climate change they are in clover

Much of southern Australia is experiencing severe drought after a very dry and warm autumn across the southern half of the continent. Australia is no stranger to drought, but this recent dry spell, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to drought-stricken parts of the country, has prompted discussion of the role of climate change in this event.

Turnbull said that farmers need to “build resilience” as rainfall “appears to be getting more variable”. This prompted former Nationals leader John Anderson to warn against “politicising” the drought by invoking climate change. This in turn was followed by speculation from numerous commentators about the links between climate change and drought.

So are droughts getting worse, and can they be attributed to climate change? Drought is a complex beast and can be measured in a variety of ways. Some aspects of drought are linked with climate change; others are not.

In Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology uses rainfall deficiencies to identify regions that are under drought conditions.

Droughts are also exacerbated by low humidity, higher wind speeds, warmer temperatures, and greater amounts of sunshine. All of these factors increase water loss from soils and plants. This means that other metrics are often used to describe drought which go beyond rainfall deficiencies alone. These include the Palmer Drought Severity Index and the Standardised Precipitation Evaporation Index, for example.

This means that there are hundreds of metrics which together can provide a more detailed representation of a drought. But this also means that droughts are less well understood and described than simpler phenomena such as temperature and rainfall.

So is climate change affecting Australian droughts?

As we have so many ways of looking at droughts, this is a more complex question than it might first sound. Climate change may affect these drought metrics and types of drought differently, so it is hard to make general statements about the links between human-induced climate change and drought.

We know that over southern Australia, and in particular the southwest, there has been a rapid decline in winter rainfall, and that this has been linked to climate change. In the southeast there has also been a decline but the trend is harder to distinguish from the year-to-year variability.

For recent short-term droughts in southern Australia, analyses have found an increased likelihood of rainfall deficits related to human-caused climate change. Also, it has been suggested that the character of droughts is changing as a result of the human-induced warming trend.

There is some evidence to suggest that widespread and prolonged droughts, like the Millennium Drought, are worse than other droughts in recent centuries, and may have been exacerbated by climate change. But the role of climate change in extended drought periods is difficult to discern from background climate variability. This is particularly true in Australia, which has a much more variable climate than many other parts of the world.


Jewish students take aim at ‘distressing’ university paper

A female suicide bomber who killed dozens of Israeli soldiers has graced the front cover of a University of Sydney student newspaper, and Jewish students who complained about the cover have been “condemned” for ­censorship.

Hamida al-Taher killed more than 50 people, mainly Israeli military personnel, when she blew herself up in Southern Lebanon in 1985. The special edition of the University of Sydney’s student newspaper Honi Soit, produced by the student women’s collective a fortnight ago, put her on the cover and called her a “martyr” in an issue dedicated to the struggle against “Israeli colonisation”.

The student queer collective’s edition of Honi Soit on April 16 was criticised for having a picture of a petrol bomb on the cover and supporting a boycott of Israel.

The Australasian Union of Jewish Students has called for an apology over the covers. “They are particularly disturbing to Jewish students as they display a blatant disdain for Israeli victims of violence,” AUJS national political ­director Noa Bloch said. “By disseminating publications that sacrifice respectful dialogue … it inevitably causes distress among Jewish and other students who support Israel.”

The University of Sydney’s ­Student Representative Council passed a motion, 11 to 10, against AUJS on Wednesday night for complaining about the publication.

“This SRC condemns AUJS for suggesting the university should intervene to censor a student-run publication,” the motion reads.  “This SRC congratulates those who put together the women’s ­edition of Honi for their brave and highly defensible cover depicting a pro-Palestine freedom fighter (opposing) the ­illegal Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Palestine.”

Taher was a member of Syria’s Arab Socialist Ba’ath party, which is accused of killing thousands.

SRC women’s officers Madeline Ward and Jessica Syed said they did not intend to upset anyone with their cover but stood by their anti-Israeli position. “We are saddened some were upset by the picture — this was not our intention. The policy of the University of Sydney SRC and our collective is pro-Palestine. ”

The latest Israeli-related stoush at the university comes months after multiple staff members pledged to boycott Israeli universities over the situation in Gaza.

AUJS’s Sydney University president, Ben Ezzes, 21, said he had felt unsafe on campus as anti-Israeli rhetoric had increased. “I identify openly as Jewish through what I wear,” he said. “I feel a lot more eyes on me whenever I’m there. I try not to meet people on campus anymore.”

Fellow student Dana Segall said Israel had become a key target for student political groups. “I feel utterly unsafe and unwelcome … It has become increasingly popular for student groups to adopt a blanket anti-Israel, anti-Zionist position,” she said.

Executive Council for Australian Jewry chief executive Peter Wertheim said the student publication “glorifying terrorism … with positive portrayals of violent symbols, including a terrorist in military fatigues pointing a rifle … is despicable”.

The University of Sydney said it did not condone the cover but would not intervene.


Labor wants to scrap Queen's Birthday public holiday in favour of honouring Aboriginals and 60,000 years of indigenous history

60,000 years of no history, more like it. A few oral tales from old men is all there is. And why should I honour Aborigines? What have they done for me or for the community at large? Soak up welfare payments is all I can think of. Britain, on the other hand, founded Australia. So it is properly grateful to honour the Queen, who represents Britain

Labor has stated its intention to scrap the Queen's Birthday public holiday in favour of a day dedicated to Aboriginal history.

New South Wales Labor leader Luke Foley told the Sydney Morning Herald he plans to make the second Monday in June a public holiday to honour indigenous people, as 'another step in the process of reconciliation'.

He said the day would be dedicated to '60,000 years of indigenous history' if his party is elected.

Mr Foley said the Aboriginal flag would also fly on the Sydney Harbour Bridge every day if his party was elected as a sign of respect.

'We must acknowledge the special place the First Peoples occupy in the story of our state and nation,' he said.

'The second Tuesday of June isn't Her Majesty's real birthday - the day would be better used as one to acknowledge the First Peoples.'

Mr Foley said he would consult with the community about the proposed change and would most likely not introduce it until Queen Elizabeth's reign had ended

He is also committed to negotiating a treaty between Aboriginal people and NSW.

The Victorian lower house recently voted for negotiating Australia's first Aboriginal treaty, similar to existing ones in New Zealand and Canada.

Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs David Harris said changing the meaning of the public holiday would have a significant impact.

'Creating an Indigenous public holiday in NSW is a small step we can take to acknowledge the past but more importantly create a meaningful way forward,' he said.


Footy Stadium sign divides Australia

AUSTRALIA was completely split by a sign at a Melbourne footy Stadium in groundbreaking new territory for Aussie sport.

ETIHAD Stadium has introduced gender-fluid toilets for all spectators during the annual Pride Game between St Kilda and Sydney.

Social commentators and footy fans have been divided by the move to designate three toilet blocks throughout the Docklands venue for all-gender use.

Signs posted throughout the stadium and then flashed on the giant screens inside the stadium advertised one toilet block on each level of seating have been converted into bathrooms that allowed spectators to use whichever gender bathroom they identified with.

The stadium signs read: “Gender diversity is welcome here. “Please use the restroom that best fits your gender identity or expression.”

The move follows the AFL’s staging of its annual Pride Game at Etihad Stadium, celebrated by St Kilda and the Swans before and during the round 12 game.

Both clubs have been widely applauded for their public support for inclusion of LGBTI communities in football and everywhere else in Australia.

However, many other commentators believe Etihad Stadium’s decision to scrap traditional mens’ and womens’ gendered toilets was a dangerous development.

Other commentators applauded the symbolism of the toilet re-allocation.

The drama did not entirely overshadow the commitment of both clubs to promote inclusivity on the night.

The Swans wore rainbow coloured socks in support of the cause, while the Saints wore rainbow coloured numbers on the back of their jumpers.

Both clubs also posted messages in support of the LGBTI community on the banners they ran through at the start of the game.

Host broadcaster Channel 7 also pledged its support of the AFL’s Pride Round.

LGBTI activist Paul Kidd tweeted on Saturday night in support of the AFL’s public support of LGBTI inclusion initiatives.


Teaching quality is the biggest challenge facing Australian country areas

It will surprise few people that students from rural areas tend to perform worse on average than those in cities. In fact — as shown by the results of NAPLAN and two different international standardised tests — the more remote the area, the lower the average student test score.

Decades of research show the most significant in-school factor that affects student achievement is the quality of teacher instruction. But in country areas, it is a particular challenge for schools to attract and retain experienced and expert teachers.

This was the most pressing issue discussed by the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education, authored by Emeritus Profession John Halsey and commissioned by the Turnbull government. The review received hundreds of submissions, and the vast majority rated the area of teachers and teaching as the most important.

But this is not just an Australian problem. According to an OECD report, the city-country gap in achievement exists in most countries; and internationally it is much harder on average for rural schools to attract experienced and more qualified teachers. Realistically, this is a problem we can only mitigate, rather than solve entirely.

So how can the size of the problem be reduced? The Halsey review proposes few specific actions, but unfortunately doesn’t give any analysis of the costs and benefits of each approach. It suggests: university teacher education degrees include a subject specifically covering rural education, more teacher professional experience placements in rural schools, and using targeted salary and conditions packages to attract experienced teachers to rural schools for fixed term appointments.

In theory, these ideas are sensible, but are potentially expensive — and it is unclear if they are cost-effective uses of taxpayer money to increase teaching quality in rural schools.

Unfortunately, it seems the trend for Australian government-commissioned education reviews these days is to be overly general and not address the pros and cons of their ideas. The Gonski 2.0 review into schools was the epitome of the genre — full of clich├ęs and jargon at the expense of practicality and evidence.

To be fair, the Halsey review doesn’t quite reach the Gonski 2.0 level of platitude litanies. But the fact that the Turnbull government’s response to Halsey’s review was simply to accept all 11 (very broad) recommendations and then note that the more specific 53 suggested actions were just “examples of what could be done to implement these recommendations” and “are very specific and may cut across existing initiatives” shows the practical policy utility of the Halsey review is limited. Prepare the mothballs.

The Halsey review also focuses arguably too much on curriculum and technology.

One recommendation is about “ensuring the relevance of the Australian Curriculum” for students in rural areas. It seems absurd that, when faced with a gap in achievement in the curriculum, a response is to blame the curriculum. Why is the gap a problem if what is being measured is supposedly irrelevant for country kids? And no evidence is presented to suggest that the reason students in rural schools are underperforming is because the content being taught isn’t relevant enough for them.

Another focus of the review is technology for rural schools. Of course, access to fast and reliable internet is often a challenge in country areas, and technology has the potential to open up many mobile learning opportunities for students.

But there is too much faith in the possible productivity gains from technology in schools. There is no clear relationship between use of education technology and student achievement. In fact, some studies suggest there is a negative relationship. Australian schools already use technology much more than most other OECD countries — including the top-performers like Singapore — according to the international education datasets. So more technology is no silver bullet for rural education.

Nevertheless, Halsey’s review is an important contribution, expresses aspirations we all support, and is at least “a starting point for many conversations” — to quote the federal government’s response.

But state and territory governments are going to have to do much more detailed analysis if they are to come up with a blueprint to improve teaching in rural areas; and minimise the educational disadvantage faced by country students.


Australian coal prices hit 6-year high as Asia demand spikes

What happened to all those "renewables"

Australian thermal coal prices have risen to their highest level since 2012 as hot weather across North Asia spurs buying ahead of the peak summer demand season.

Spot prices for thermal coal cargoes for export from Australia’s Newcastle terminal last closed at $115.25 per tonne, the highest level since February 2012.

Thermal coal, the world’s most used fuel for electricity generation, has surged by 130 percent since its record lows below $50 per tonne in 2016 following a years-long decline.

Prices have been driven up by economic growth, especially in Asia, along with constraints on supply due to earlier mine closures and high hurdles to developing new mines amid concerns about pollution and global warming.

In recent weeks, a heat-wave in North Asia and restocking ahead of the hottest summer months in July and August have led to soaring demand for both residential and industrial cooling, traders said.


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