Tuesday, February 10, 2009

LOL: Do-gooders found to be "racist"!

And indeed they are. There are few policies more blatantly racist than "affirmative action", for instance. But that is usually supposed to be OK. The reason I voted for Pauline Hanson three times was that I agreed with her that there should be one law for all Australians, regardless of colour. She even named her political party "One Nation" to stress that message. But the political elite across the spectrum supported the racist laws. You will find no mention of it below but: "From the outset, the Labor Party has extended full bipartisan support to the NT intervention, reflecting its agreement with the underlying economic and social agenda". The Rudd-led Labor party in fact made a pre-election promise to not roll back the intervention

There is little in the eyes of the international community more serious than a nation being found to have racist laws and policies. This was the claim made last week against Australia by 20 Aborigines. Their complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination about the Northern Territory intervention has a strong prospect of success. If this proves correct, enormous pressure will be put on the Rudd Government to reform the intervention.

The complaint pulls no punches. It describes the intervention as a "flagrant breach" of Australia's obligations under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. While its authors acknowledge the legitimate aim of improving the well-being of Aborigines in the Northern Territory, they argue that Australian law breaches the convention on two grounds. First, the law uses "punitive and racist measures" that "have led to serious, massive and persistent discrimination". Second, Australia has breached the convention by suspending the protections found in the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Howard government's intervention laws were passed in August 2007 to exclude the Racial Discrimination Act. The reason was clear. Parts of the intervention are racially discriminatory. For example, it quarantines 50 per cent of welfare income to be used for food and other essentials only for people living in Aboriginal communities. There is no exception even for people who can demonstrate they are responsible spenders of their income.

This and other problems are well known. After a year, the Northern Territory Emergency Response Review Board conducted an independent inquiry. Its October 2008 report found the situation in the Northern Territory was a "national emergency" and that the intervention should continue. However, it needed to be "recalibrated to the principle of racial equality".

Against this background, it will be no surprise if the UN committee finds that Australia must take immediate action to end racial discrimination in the Northern Territory and restore the Racial Discrimination Act. The committee need only follow the lead of the Australian Human Rights Commission, which has found the intervention contains a number of provisions that are discriminatory and removes protections against that discrimination

More here

Bushfire catastrophe had its prime source in Greenie resistance to preventive burnoffs

(My suspicions of yesterday stand confirmed -- JR)

By David Packham

Victoria has suffered the most tragic bushfire disaster to have occurred on this continent throughout its period of human habitation. The deaths, loss of homes and businesses and the blow to our feeling of security will take decades to fade into history. The trauma will live with the victims, who, to a greater or lesser extent, are all of us. How could this happen when we have been told in a withering, continuous barrage of public relations that with technology and well-polished uniforms, we can cope with the unleashing of huge forces of nature.

I have been a bushfire scientist for more than 50 years, dealing with all aspects of bushfires, from prescribed burning to flame chemistry, and serving as supervisor of fire weather services for Australia. We need to understand what has happened so that we can accept or prevent future fire disasters. That this disaster was about to happen became clear when the weather bureau issued an accurate fire weather forecast last Wednesday, which prompted me, as a private citizen, to raise the alarm through a memo distributed to concerned residents.

The science is simple. A fire disaster of this nature requires a combination of hot, dry, windy weather in drought conditions. It also requires a source of ignition. In the past, this purpose has been served by lightning. In this disaster, lightning has not played a big part, and for this Victorians should be grateful. But other sources of ignition are ever-present. When the temperature and wind increase to extreme levels, small events -- perhaps the scrape of metal across a rock, a transformer overheating or sparks from a diesel engine -- are capable of starting a fire that can in minutes become unstoppable if the fuel is present.

The third and only controllable factor in this deadly triangle is fuel: the dead leaves, pieces of bark and grass that become the gas that feeds the 50m high flames that roar through the bush with the sound of jet engines. Fuels build up year after year at an approximate rate of one tonne a hectare a year, up to a maximum of about 30 tonnes a hectare. If the fuels exceed about eight tonnes a hectare, disastrous fires can and will occur. Every objective analysis of the dynamics of fuel and fire concludes that unless the fuels are maintained at near the levels that our indigenous stewards of the land achieved, then we will have unhealthy and unsafe forests that from time to time will generate disasters such as the one that erupted on saturday.

It has been a difficult lesson for me to accept that despite the severe damage to our forests and even a fatal fire in our nation's capital, the political decision has been to do nothing that will change the extreme threat to which our forests and rural lands are exposed. The decision to ignore the threat has been encouraged by some shocking pseudo-science from a few academics who use arguments that may have a place in political discourse but should have no place in managing our environment and protecting it and us from the bushfire threat. The conclusion of these academics is that high intensity fires are good for the environment and that the resulting mudslides after rains are merely localised and serve to redistribute nutrients. The purpose of this failed policy is to secure uninformed city votes.

Only a few expert retired fire managers, experienced bushies and some courageous politicians are prepared to buck the decision to lock up our bush and leave it to burn. The politicians who willingly accept this rubbish use it to justify the perpetuation of the greatest threat to our forests, water supplies, homes and lives in order to secure a minority green vote. They continue to throw millions (and no doubt soon billions) at ineffective suppression toys, while the few foresters and bush people who know how to manage our public lands are starved of the resources they need to reduce fuel loads.

It is hard for me to see this perversion of public policy and to accept that the folk of the bush have lost their battle to live a safe life in a cared-for rural and forest environment, all because of the environmental fantasies of outraged extremists and latte conservationists.

In a letter to my local paper, the Weekly Times, on January 25, I predicted we were facing a very critical situation in which 1000 to 2000 homes could be lost in the Yarra catchment, the Otways and/or the Strezleckies; that 100 souls could be lost in a most horrible and violent way; and that there was even a threat to Melbourne's water supply, which could be rendered unusable by the ash and debris. Horrifically, much of this has come to pass, and it is not yet the end of the bushfire season.

In the face of this inferno, the perpetrators of this obscenity should have the decency to stand up and say they were wrong. Southeast Australia is the worst place in the world for bushfires, and we must not waste any time in getting down to the task of making our bush healthy and safe. But don't hold your breath. Do you hear that lovely sound the warbling pigs make as they fly by?


Kevin Rudd's $950 payments to be blown on pokies, plasmas, economists warn

ECONOMISTS have raised concerns the Federal Government's cash handouts to millions of people will be blown on pokies and plasma televisions. The Government wants to give payments of up to $950 to individuals as part of its $42 billion economic rescue package. But economists have told a Senate inquiry that $42 billion is too much money, and the handouts would be wasted.

Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbin called for the payments to be scrapped. "A cash payment ... only has the potential to temporarily stimulate demand and has no long-run benefits to the economy," Professor McKibbin told the inquiry last night. He said it would be better to bring forward tax cuts or temporarily cut the GST. Professor McKibbin, who said his remarks reflected his own views and not those of the Reserve Bank, said the $42 billion package was "too large".

Sinclair Davidson, professor of economics at RMIT, slammed the handouts. "Do we believe that Australians have not been borrowing and spending enough on alcohol, pokies and tobacco, and that there aren't enough plasma televisions around?" he asked the inquiry. "This particular package has got a very low bang for buck, and there are certainly (a) substantial amount of bucks involved in the project." Prof Davidson said tax cuts or a "GST holiday" would be a better way to stimulate the economy.

The opposition will vote against the plan, so the Government needs the support of the Greens and two cross-bench senators to get it through the Senate. Ominously for the Government, cross-bench senators aired a litany of concerns about the cash hand-outs at the inquiry, which is due to wrap up today. Family First senator Steve Fielding raised the case of a doctor earning $300,000 a year who did not think his family should reap thousands of dollars from the package. "There's a lot of people that are contacting me saying they don't actually need the money, they'll take it but they don't need it," Senator Fielding told the inquiry. "There's something wrong here, there's something horribly wrong".

The Greens took aim at the fact that people earning more than $80,000 would get a payment, saying it seemed like every player would win a prize. Richard Evans, executive director of the Australian Retailers' Association (ARA), said much of the last round of cash hand-outs was used to pay off debt. "Indeed, there is something uncomfortable to us about taxpayer funds being used to reduce credit card debt," he told the inquiry. The ARA is recommending a voucher system, redeemable at retail outlets.

Accountants told the inquiry that bringing forward tax cuts would be a better way to boost consumption. The Senate inquiry is due to hand down its findings tomorrow night, and the Senate to vote on the stimulus package on Thursday night.


Australian graduates face ban on work in Britain

On past form (i.e. the actions of the Whitlam Labor government), this may lead to retaliatory bans on Brits coming to Australia. And there are a lot more Brits coming to Australia than Australians going the other way. Phil Woolas had better discover some "historic ties" rather soon

AUSSIE university graduates may be barred from working in Britain with the recession forcing the British Government to toughen its immigration laws. Australian workers in Britain are already hamstrung by law changes late last year that made it tougher to extend or reapply for working visas. But British immigration minister Phil Woolas now plans to toughen the points-based immigration system for people from outside the EU, to protect 400,000 British university graduates entering the work force, particularly in the legal and financial sector.

The move comes just days after a backlash over recruitment advertisements targeting Australians for work on the London 2012 Olympics project and a series of wildcat strikes last week that saw thousands walk off the job demanding "British jobs for British workers".

According to British figures, between 10,000 and 18,000 qualified foreigners are expected to go to Britain to work this year without any job lined up. "The points-based system that has been introduced allows us to toughen the criteria and clearly in the economic situation that is something it is beholden on us to do," Mr Woolas said. "We want to maintain the highest possible levels of British graduate employment." Ironically, the British Government praised Australia when it adopted its points-based system last year.

After four quarters of negative growth, Britain was officially declared in recession last month fuelling fears of unemployment hitting three million people. Jobs fears have brought in a protectionist attitude across Europe with workers taking to the streets demanding jobs be given only to nationals. London Olympic chiefs were forced to dismiss fears construction jobs for the $20 billion 2012 Olympics project were being offered to Australians before Britons after a Sydney-based firm began offering positions.

Ironically, the Olympic Delivery Authority's chief executive is Australian-born David Higgins and a number of Australian companies are involved in the project. Britain's business minister Lord Mandelson said xenophobia and the recession was fuelling jobs fears.


Careless Qld. government school "loses" little boy

A Caboolture mum is furious with her five-year-old son's school after a stranger found him beside a busy road a kilometre away. Stacie Warwick's son Dylan Doelz left his Year 1 classroom at Morayfield State School shortly after school started . without anyone noticing.

Ms Warwick said she was an "absolute wreck'' when the school phoned her at 9.45am last Wednesday to tell her that another mum had found the youngster wandering the streets.

Dylan, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is believed to have left the school soon after his mother dropped him off. She had stayed with him until 8.40am and spoken with his teacher.

She received a call from the school at 9.45am saying Dylan had been found at Morayfield Rd, near Domnick St, and had been returned to the school. He crossed at least three side streets before he was stopped by the other mum, who he didn't know. "He could have been hit by a car. It could have been a psycho who picked him up. There are so many possibilities of what could have happened,'' Ms Warwick said.

Ms Warwick said the woman who found Dylan told her she had to cajole him into her car. "The school definitely did not know he was gone until (the mother) called,'' Ms Warwick said. "It is just appalling. I should know he's safe there.''

After the incident, the school moved Dylan to another class at Ms Warwick's request and he has been moved to a desk near the class teacher. The school has also requested Ms Warwick hand him to the teacher every morning, which she maintains she does already, and offered to place him in "supported play'' at breaks. Here he would be fully supervised but separated from the general school population.

``I've asked that he not be in supported play because he'll feel like he's being punished,'' Ms Warwick said. ``He got quite a scare himself because a stranger pulled over and asked him to get in a car.''

An Education Queensland spokesman said principal Vicky Gahan had met with Ms Warwick over the incident, along with a senior department official. ``While concerned at the incident, the mother has indicated that she is supportive of the actions of the principal in implementing safe practices in the school,'' the spokesman said.

Education Queensland did not respond to the Herald's request to detail the school's procedures on this issue. Ms Warwick said the response from Education Queensland and the school did little to prevent the same thing happening to other pupils.


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