Monday, August 10, 2009

One battle the feminists have lost

Good looks more important than a good CV

PHOTOGENIC marketing assistant Susie Warwick has never been rejected for a job. The 20-year-old has been working for six years and believes workplaces employ staff based as much on their appearance and demeanour as their experience and CV. "All companies want to hire someone who is going to present themselves well and someone who dresses neatly," she said. "It's all about personality, too. It just depends what kind of business you're in. Some businesses are a lot more superficial than others."

A University of Sydney study of nearly 200 fashion and jewellery retailers has revealed "lookism" is rife in the rag trade, where physical appearance is more important than previous experience. But experts warn the retail industry isn't the only culprit, with hospitality, tourism and telecommunication markets equally as guilty. Nearly all clothing retailers surveyed said they hired new employees based on "personality" while 84 per cent said they relied on those who had the "right appearance". In comparison, only 44 per cent took into account a prospective employee's qualifications and less than 80 per cent someone's "previous experience".

Survey co-author and senior lecturer in work and organisational studies at the University of Sydney Diane van den Broek said the findings suggest employers pay little attention to CVs. "Beauty is big business – both for those achieving it and those exploiting it," she said. "As such, we are all implicated in this phenomenon." Dr van den Broek said it was extremely difficult to gauge how often retailers asked for photographs with job applications. However, it was becoming increasingly prevalent in the bar and hospitality industry, she said.

Talent2 director John Banks said physical appearance was still a large part of the hiring process. In some cases, it was the determining factor 90 per cent of the time. "People like people who look good and first impressions count," he said. "(In jobs) where there is a lot of exposure to the public, appearance is still an important factor."


West Australian sex education site shunned

CATHOLIC schools will shun a new sex-education website created by the WA Government. Concerned parents of Catholic students contacted The Sunday Times complaining that the website would encourage indecent behaviour.

The Health Department website says sexual activity can be ``awesome'', but also warns about the risks involved. It includes information on a variety of sexual acts and contraceptive devices, including the morning after pill. One section of the website reads: ``Exploring your own body through masturbation can be a good way to find out about your sexual feelings and your body.''

The director of Catholic Education in WA, Ron Dullard, said his schools would not even mention the website to students for fear of encouraging its use. He said the website did not promote the values taught in Catholic schools. ``We wouldn't even raise the website because all that does is create curiosity,'' Mr Dullard said. ``The Health Department puts out various materials on sex education and we use the material we think is appropriate and don't use the other material.''

The website, called ``Get the Facts'', claims 35 per cent of high school students are having sex.

Mr Dullard said the premature sexualisation of teenagers was a concern for society.

One parent told The Sunday Times she was concerned that the website encouraged flirting. A section of the website reads: ``Just because you flirt with someone, it doesn't mean you owe them anything.''

Health Minister Kim Hames said the website had appropriate information for people aged 14-17. ``The internet is a major source of information for young people but the quality of information it provides can be poor,'' Dr Hames said. ``As a result of the consultations by the Department of Health, young West Australians identified the need for a trustworthy and authoritative information source on sexual health and relationships.''

The website averages 75 visitors a day and has received 7936 unique visits from 127 countries since it was created.

Mr Dullard said worried parents should let the Health Department know about their concerns. ``Parents in a democracy should be speaking up,'' he said. "Governments have an obligation to be listening to the majority. "I would be encouraging people to speak up against things that go against their value and beliefs.''


Contempt for Australian society is rife among Australian Muslims -- and it shows

Most leading Muslims and their followers are a blight on what is otherwise a peaceful and tolerant society

By Paul Sheehan

It takes more than an hour for 75,000 people to pass by, even when they are in a hurry. Yesterday, as the record field in this year's City2Surf ran, scampered or shuffled along New South Head Road, they made an uplifting and democratic sight on a beautiful winter morning and in a beautiful setting. Diversity, frivolity, community. This is who we are - one country, one law, one common language, one community, where the great majority of people are not political, not ideological, and not concerned with dictating their beliefs to others.

This is the social glue that makes Australia work.

A surfeit of ideological passion brings problems and pain, and the reason Australia is not riven with social schisms is that the demographic ballast is provided by the apolitical tolerance of the great majority. The subcultures that do have a surfeit of desire to dictate to others are small in number. The most problematic of these subcultures are devout adherents of sharia. As believers in the primacy of sharia and the divine truth of the Koran, they are deeply compromised by living in a society built on civil law and secular customs. Our legal system is an imposition on them.

The events in Sydney and Melbourne in the past week, with the arrest of five Muslim fundamentalists whose contempt for Australia is manifest, is a reminder that the argument propagated in our universities, human rights bureaucracies and sections of the media that Muslims are a put-upon minority in Australia, sells this country short. There are problems. The problems are self-evident. But they are not, in the main, the product of prejudice.

All five of those arrested on terrorism charges were treated with great generosity by Australia as they set up new lives here. But their behaviour in court has been an exemplar of the problem of reconciling sharia with civil law. One of the accused, Wissam Fattal, refused to stand as the magistrate read out the charges and followed this with a torrent of abuse as he was led out of the court. Another of those charged, Nayef El Sayed, informed the court he would stand for no man, only for his God. In other words, they accept only sharia, the rest is a charade.

Even the family and supporters of the accused went out of their way to express contempt for the legal system and, by extension, the society it represents. Reporters were called ''faggots'' and ''dickheads'' amid a general attitude of animus recorded by the journalists covering the proceedings.

I have observed the same thing first-hand numerous times during criminal trials involving Muslim defendants, families and supporters. In every case, the idea that Muslims are in trouble because they have been ''marginalised'' by society is reality turned on its head. They are the ones who have marginalised a society they are happy to exploit but not respect.

The most-quoted apologist for the argument that Muslims in Australia are oppressed by prejudice is Keysar Trad, a self-appointed spokesman and ubiquitous quote machine who has been a media darling for years. Trad describes himself as the head of the Islamic Friendship Society - but friendship is not what he is about and his society is invisible. His main claim to fame has been as the long-time spokesman, and chief rationaliser, for the prominent and Muslim cleric, Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilaly, whose corrosive pronouncements are infamous. Al-Hilaly and Trad are mainstream figures in Australian Muslim society. They are not fringe dwellers.

I have always believed Trad to be a vexatious litigant, a lobbyist, a person who, even if he has good intentions, has been someone who divides, not unifies, while professing the opposite. For 10 years I have marvelled at the free run Trad has had in the media and academia. It finally came to a crashing end recently when he collided with one of the finest judges of Australia, Peter McClellan of the NSW Supreme Court.

Trad is a veteran complainant across the entire spectrum of the human rights machinery - the courts, the Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Discrimination Board, the Australian Press Council, the broadcasting tribunals. One of his numerous forays as a complainant was a defamation action against radio station 2GB, and the presenter Jason Morrison, after Morrison described him as ''gutless'' and ''trouble'' on air in 2005.

Justice McClellan threw out Trad's action. Not only did the judge describe Morrison's description of Trad as true, he summarised Trad as a man who ''incites acts of violence, incites racist attitudes, is dangerous and, perhaps most significantly, is a disgraceful individual''.

This is a thunderous and overdue dose of reality from a judge with an exemplary record of recognising the deformities within the legal system and doing something to reform them. His judicial excoriation of Trad is not even the most damning element of Trad v Harbour Radio.

The cost of this litigation has been about $400,000 as Trad spent almost four years using the legal system to wage ideological trench warfare. Now he faces the prospect of having to foot the entire bill.

It is the time, cost and hypocrisy of this complaint that is critical.

Justice McClellan's judgment should be required reading for every media executive and every lawyer and functionary at the Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Discrimination Board, and the various media tribunals. His judgment exposes the fatal weakness in the ever-burgeoning human rights industry. It is the complaint, not the outcome, that is most important to the complainant. The sheer bloody-minded willingness to engage in legal hand-to-hand combat, the threat of formal complaints, and the effort and distraction of responding to complaints, is the entire point. The process itself is the outcome. The object is to chill debate and critical scrutiny.


Once again a "regulated" industry gets cleaned up only after newspaper publicity

It's only publicity that will move bureaucrats off their fat behinds

A teenager from overseas received his license to drive taxis in Queensland after failing his driving test six times. The teenager passed on the seventh attempt according to a Queensland Transport document which reveals the department's shoddy handling of the taxi industry.

Queensland Transport's research shows how the department, when under the control of ministers including Deputy Premier Paul Lucas, subjected taxi passengers to the lowest driving standards in the country. The document, released on the Transport Department's website, forms the basis of a reform strategy devised by Transport Minister Rachel Nolan. The strategy will be explained to the industry at statewide hearings starting in Brisbane today.

Ms Nolan's nine-point strategy followed The Courier-Mail's Fare Go series which exposed widespread dissatisfaction in the taxi industry. Queensland Transport's document shows the state was one of only two which did not require overseas drivers to have previously held an Australian licence. The state also did not require English language testing to be conducted independently of taxi training companies.

The failure rate of that testing was described by Queensland Transport as "low" in this state compared with South Australia (85-90 per cent), Western Australia (35-40), Victoria (25) and NSW (15).

The report admits that taxi companies voluntarily raised training standards above those required by government since they were introduced in 2000. The report shows that 31 teenagers from overseas hold taxi driver licences after convincing Queensland Transport that they held open licences in their native country. That included the teenager who flunked his driving test six times.

Ms Nolan's strategy will include a new minimum driving age of 20 and a requirement that all taxi driver applicants hold an Australian open licence for at least one year. Independent English language testing will also be enforced after Queensland Transport admitted its own failings. "The current English language standard requirements for taxi drivers are relatively low . . . This may be due to the standards being too low or because assessors are not properly trained and accredited as English assessors," the report stated.

The reforms will include a taxi advisory committee. The Courier-Mail can reveal that it will be made up of a member of the Cab Drivers Association of Queensland, an independent regional driver along with members of the Transport Workers Union, "ethnic community council" and disability sector.


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