Sunday, June 06, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is appalled by the lies and deceit that flow from Prime Minister Rudd. The truth is of course a very low priority for Leftists generally. "Only when it suits me" is their system.

What price a Premier who breaks the laws she is supposed to be in charge of enforcing?

No surprise from a Leftist. "There is no such thing as right and wrong" is the Leftist mantra, after all. But it is odious nonetheless. Chicago-esque, one might say. Obama would understand

PREMIER Kristina Keneally is under investigation by the NSW Ombudsman over alleged breaches of the State's whistleblower laws. The Sunday Telegraph can reveal the watchdog has begun an inquiry into claims Ms Keneally and her office compiled a "dirt file" on a whistleblower who exposed corruption by Penrith MP Karyn Paluzzano.

The news is yet another blow to the the Government after three ministerial resignations in two weeks.

Yesterday, Governor Marie Bashir signed off on the Labor Government's 169th ministerial change since the 2007 election, swearing in the ministers who will assume the duties of Ian Macdonald and Graham West. With 293 days to go to the March 26 election, the Premier looked tired as she accompanied Treasurer Eric Roozendaal, John Robertson, Kevin Greene, Paul McLeay and Barbara Perry - who will split the departed ministers' responsibilities - to Government House.

The inquiry by the Ombudsman's Office focuses on statements made by Ms Keneally's office following revelations a staffer in Ms Paluzzano's office had made a complaint about her to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). Tim Horan, Ms Paluzzano's former campaign manager, told the corruption watchdog that he believed his boss had been rorting her entitlements by falsifying the pay records of her staff. His complaint followed Ms Paluzzano raising issues about his work with the clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Russell Grove.

News of Mr Horan's complaint in early February sent Ms Keneally's office into damage-control mode, with journalists being told Mr Horan himself had been the subject of a workplace misconduct allegation. Ms Keneally issued a statement: "I understand that the person who made these claims to ICAC is the subject of an independent investigation by the NSW Parliament." The Premier suggested at the time the complaint by Mr Horan was "vexatious" in nature.

A month later, Ms Paluzzano resigned from Parliament after admitting to misusing public funds and lying to ICAC when formally interviewed about the allegations. A by-election for her seat will be held in a fortnight.

The Ombudsman's Office is examining whether Ms Keneally's office sought to undermine Mr Horan through the media. It is also examining whether her office was in possession of a dirt file on Mr Horan. Under the State's Protected Disclosures Act, it is illegal to persecute whistleblowers.

The office states the legislation is designed to encourage people who work within the NSW public sector to report maladministration, serious waste and wrong conduct. Where a whistleblower suffers as a result of making a complaint, the Office can recommend the perpetrator to be prosecuted.

A spokesman for Ms Keneally said: "On February 16, the ICAC found in a public finding that no one had breached the State's protected disclosure laws in relation to this matter."


More boats, and Rudd sacks the gatekeepers

By Andrew Bolt

Rudd’s border protection policies are leaking worse than ever:
A boat carrying 39 suspected asylum seekers was intercepted northwest of Ashmore Islands on Saturday morning.

It comes after a boat with 54 asylum seekers was stopped on Thursday night, just 25 hours after a vessel with 28 people was intercepted in the same area.

Oops - a fourth boat in 48 hours:
In the afternoon, a Customs boat responded to calls for help from another vessel that had engine problems north of Scott Reef. It is believed there were 46 passengers and three crew onboard the second ship.

What on earth made these people think Rudd was soft? Well, perhaps one clue is the sacking last week of many of the tougher members of the Refugee Review Tribunal, which now has on its selection panel the president of the Refugee Council of Australia.

Former RRT member Peter Katsambanis describes what has happened:
In his press release, the Minister makes no mention at all that 21 members were not reappointed. Now 2 or 3 of the 21 did not reapply as they were retiring but the rest were dumped. 46 members were up for reappointment - 25 were reappointed and 21 were not. This includes a number of very senior, very experienced members who have worked on the Tribunals for over 10 years.

Why gut the Tribunal in this way of you are not looking for a softer, more facilitative approach? The sacked members were highly competent individuals who did their jobs well without fear or favour. If it really was a merit-based selection process the only reason you would sack over 40% of the members due for appointment is because of lack of competence. If these people were incompetent then our federal courts would be full of appeals that would succeed. They are not.

No matter how the government dresses this up, it is simply another element of its softer approach on asylum seekers. The people smugglers will be celebrating all over south east Asia.

I’ve looked up just a few of the new appointments to the RRT, and think Katsambanis is not exaggerating at all:

Charlie Powles - Solicitor for RILC (Refugee and Immigration Law Centre) in Melbourne

Anthony Krone - Melbourne barrister who proclaims that he has appeared for hundreds of asylum seekers in Australia and who used to work for the Refugee Advice and Casework Service.

Clyde Cosentino - director of the Brisbane Catholic Archdiocese’s Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care

Vanessa Moss - Solicitor for SCALES Community Legal Centre (Southern Communities Advocacy Legal Education Service), one of the leading refugee advocacy groups in WA.

Rowena Irish - solicitor for the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre Inc in Sydney

I’m sure these new people will decide each case on the facts - as did those they replace. Yet it seems beyond doubt to me that the message has gone out to be quicker to let in asylum seekers. I’ve already interviewed several serving and former RRT members who say they are in no doubt of this, and work in a “culture of fear”. And that was before this latest news of the appointment of new RRT members who have been previously worked to break down the doors for their clients.

Something stinks.


Train rampage leaves man seriously injured

How odd that no identifying information about the "youths" has been released. Want to bet that they were Africans? Silence is eloquent where the Victoria police are concerned

A man has undergone surgery for serious head injuries after a group of youths attacked a trainload of passengers in Melbourne overnight.

Police say that between seven and ten youths boarded the Frankston-bound train at 11pm and began harassing passengers, including threats with a broken bottle.

Some of the youths jumped onto the tracks at McKinnon station and threw rocks and other material at the windows, smashing the glass. A piece of ballast was thrown at a passenger, leaving him with life-threatening head injuries.

The group scattered when police arrived, but a 17-year-old man was arrested at the scene. He was interviewed by police and remanded in custody in relation to another matter.

The 29-year-old Frankston South man underwent surgery at The Alfred this morning.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the assault, in particular the 40-50 passengers who alighted at McKinnon station and were waiting on the platform.


Black educational achievement can be greatly improved -- by strict drill, not by woolly-headed Leftist methods

By Miranda Devine

When the Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson was in year 5 at Hopevale primary school, in the mid-1970s, a fill-in teacher arrived to take his class. She was an older woman, but he can't remember her name. He can remember names of more charismatic teachers.

He just remembers a "long, torrid" year with this nameless teacher, who had once taught high-school English and who drilled the children in literacy so intensively it felt "like doing football practice day in and day out".

That was the year of his "literacy breakthrough", he remembers, and when he went away to boarding school in Brisbane at the Lutheran St Peter's, he outshone most of his contemporaries in English. He continued to do so at Sydney University where he took his history and law degrees.

It was in this teacher's classroom that the seeds were sown for the high-stakes education revolution he has launched on Cape York, to erase a generation's dysfunction and lost opportunity.

It was there that Pearson came to understand that the "essence of the good teacher is above all the quality of their instruction", as he wrote last year. This led him eventually to the door of a 78-year-old professor at the University of Oregon last year.

Pearson remembers his old teacher used a boxed set of cards for the literacy exercises, which the children called "SRA cards" because they were published by the mysterious sounding Science Research Associates. Thirty-five years later he discovered the SRA and its cards had been part of a teaching method known as Direct Instruction, designed by Professor Siegfried Engelmann.

The discovery came via Bernadine Denigan, the inspirational chief executive of Cape York Partnerships, who went to the US on a Churchill fellowship two years ago and discovered the startling successes Direct Instruction was having in similarly disadvantaged schools in places as diverse as Harlem and Nebraska.

As Pearson wrote in a brilliant article entitled Radical Hope in Quarterly Essay last year, Engelmann's contribution is "the most profound of any education theorist in the modern era and yet he labours in near complete-obscurity".

The American adman turned education professor designed the teacher-proof program that allows children, particularly those from disadvantaged background, to excel. The teacher reads exercises to children from a set script, with clear examples, consistent working and explicit phonics, delivered with high energy and at a fast pace. Children are placed in classes according to ability and only progress when they have mastered every lesson in the workbook. Like phonics, it is unfashionable in the "pupil-directed learning" milieu. Pearson had to fight to get the $7 million, three-year trial off the ground at Coen and Aurukun schools this year.

Undermined by elements of the Queensland education bureaucracy, he had to replace both principals this year and a number of teachers.

But he expects the program to work better than what he calls the Groundhog Day of "shameful failure" in which Aboriginal children are two to four years behind their non-indigenous counterparts.

At Aurukun school last week, where I saw the program in action, Lizzie Fuller, a 25-year-old from Orange, says Direct Instruction just "makes sense. It takes all the guesswork out of teaching. You thrive on the results and the kids thrive on the lessons."

She tells of the student who was moved into a higher ability group who came to her at the end of the day and said: "Miss, I am just so proud of myself."

This is real self-esteem, says Pearson, the kind that comes from achievement rather than the illusory sort that comes from people offering you false praise.

Last week, a year 4 girl, Imani Tamwoy, became the first child to catch up to her grade level in reading, a significant achievement in Aurukun.

Colleen Page, a 24-year-old teacher from the Sunshine Coast, in her third year at the school, says her students revel so much in synonyms they now will say, "Miss, I'm feeling indolent today" rather than "lazy".

Another teacher, Patricia Thompson, has also noticed "a big change in my kids - there's been a big improvement in behaviour because they've learned to read … We [teachers] love it."

At Coen School, where Pearson's cousin Cheryl Canon, from Hopevale, is the new principal, results are similarly pleasing after just 18 weeks.

Visiting the school last Friday, Pearson is delighted at what he sees in Majella Peter's class. A tall, elegant Coen local, she is not a trained teacher but a tutor who completed an 18-month traineeship at the school in 2006, and had a four-week crash course in Direct Instruction this year. With her script in front of her she briskly moves her small class through the morning's work. "Is this food?" she says in the instructor's bright, energetic voice. "What kind of food is it?"

"This food is a carrot."

Her pupils sit in rapt attention, calling out answers in unison.

Pearson says it was NAPLAN testing in 2008, showing abysmal scores for Aurukun, Coen and other Cape York schools, that prompted concerns by parents. For all the sophisticated explanations from teachers' unions about why NAPLAN rankings are a disaster for our children's education, there is a countervailing story out in the real Australia.

On Cape York, in the nation's most disadvantaged schools, the NAPLAN tests of 2008 actually empowered parents to demand a better education for their children. When they saw how far below the national average their schools had scored in the 2008 test, they demanded answers.

At Aurukun, test results were at least 70 per cent below the national benchmark in reading, writing, numeracy, spelling, grammar and punctuation. The precipitous step on a bar chart of comparative results says it all.

At Coen School, Pearson's Cape York Institute has been running a successful phonics-based remedial literacy program MULTILIT with Macquarie University. The results were more encouraging, with all year 7 students at or above the national minimum standard in writing, spelling and numeracy.

But having made the commitment to send their children to school - and with attendance rates climbing - Cape York parents felt the schools were letting them down on their side of the bargain.

It was welcome criticism for Pearson, who has spent years drumming up parental involvement in education and has introduced a suite of radical social reforms, including student trust accounts to pay for future education expenses. Education is the crucible around which his plans for Cape York revolve - for welfare reform and economic self-sufficiency to end the cycle of despair that comes from passive welfare dependency.

The next NAPLAN results in 2012 are expected to bear the fruits of his work.


ABC's stitch-up of Bjorn Lomborg

Interview? More like an ambush, as Robyn "100 metres" Williams on ABC's Science Show devotes a long segment of the programme to Howard Friel, who has been embraced by the warmists for having written a book criticising Bjorn Lomborg's book Cool It. Before we even start, you kind of know people are really desperate when they have to write an entire book just to for that purpose. But anyway, we'll let that pass.

Firstly, however, and I'm sorry to ask . but just who the hell is Howard Friel? I cannot find anything about him other than he is an "author". Take a look at his Wikipedia entry - blink and you'll miss it. He has no history of writing about climate, no knowledge of climate science that I can find, no qualifications whatsoever in fact to write such a book. Ah, hang on a minute - qualifications only matter if you're a sceptic, right? That must be it - Al Gore gets a free pass to say whatever he likes - but every utterance of a sceptic is scrutinised to the last letter, including his qualifications. So I think we'll do the same, just for balance: where are yours?

Williams gives him a completely free ride to plug his book and dump on Lomborg - fully two-thirds of the interview is devoted to Friel, with barely a third given over to Lomborg in the middle - nice touch that, because Friel can have another go at him at the end. Why should this surprise us? Williams is a paid up climate change believer, and will obviously skew interviews to fit his own biased agenda. To start with however, we have a full-blown Denier Alert:
Friel: I think he would be fairly classified as a climate denier. He takes almost every climate related issue from polar bears to melting glaciers to rising sea levels, and in my view very problematically downplays the significance of the impact of global warming on these areas. So people would classify him as a sceptic that is one notch above a denier, but I would not do that, I think he's close to being a climate denier based on his actual work.

Phew, well at least we've got the inevitable ad hominem out of the way. Friel then goes on to quote unfavourable reviews of Lomborg's earlier book The Sceptical Environmentalist by scientists such as, wait for it, Stephen Schneider [no giggling at the back, please], and Obama warming-fruitcake and Paul-Erlich-bet-participator-and-loser John Holdren (see here). Quelle surprise! Then we move on to the (also inevitable) topic of polar bears where Friel claims that polar bears are a "threatened species" in the Arctic and that there is no way that the polar bears could survive if the Arctic sea ice disappeared. This is despite the fact that polar bear populations are actually thriving (as the Canadian Inuit people, who actually live there and can observe first hand, have recently confirmed), and survived through the 1930s and 1940s when there was less sea ice than today (and during plenty of other even warmer periods in the past).

Friel then claims the Little Ice Age was a "North Atlantic phenomenon" and claims that the "cryosphere is melting". Clearly Friel hasn't looked at the Antarctic ice records for the past 30 years.

When Lomborg finally gets the opportunity to put a word in edgeways, he explains that:
[Friel] didn't try to contact me or anything before he wrote the book.

Of course he didn't - if he'd actually discussed any of this with Lomborg, and given him the opportunity to respond before it was published, it would have sunk the whole project. Lomborg is rightly irritated with the manner in which Friel attacks the book:
In many ways it seems like a hit job, it seems almost insistent on not understanding what I am saying.
[It] seemed more like he was just intent on finding fault anywhere, even where there is no fault to be found.

Well, mate, that's exactly why he's doing it. His mind is made up on climate change. I think we know who the real denier is in all this. Williams then taunts Lomborg with the line:
[Friel's] got some very good reviews of his book, hasn't he?

One of which was by Newsweek warm-monger Sharon Begley - again, quelle surprise. The really funny thing about all this is that Lomborg is the last target the warmists should focus on - he is really a believer in serious man-made warming, but merely thinks that there are better ways of spending taxpayers' money to deal with it than by attempting to limit CO2 emissions.

Then Friel is wheeled back on for the final assault, and whines that he doesn't know where Lomborg got a copy of his book so early, and says that's "a question which maybe I would like to have some answers about"! Gee, maybe he stole it! Call the police! But Williams leaves the best (worst) bit until last:
Robyn Williams: One thing you don't say in your book is that he's in any way linked to a pressure group, a lobby group or anything like that, and that's the sort of thing that one would want to know, because suddenly this young man comes from nowhere, from Denmark, an economist, talking about environmental science. What's behind the Lomborg phenomenon?

Howard Friel: That's a very good question. I chose not to address it, as you say. Let me say this about that though, I find it very interesting that Lomborg's main plank which he repeats over and over again which has been completely consistent over the course of almost a decade now, that he is opposed to cuts in CO2 emissions. If you look at who that benefits that would be the coal and oil industries. I have no evidence that he's being paid by the coal and oil industries, I don't know one way or the other, but I do know that based on my research that his argument that it would be better for the Earth to forgo cuts in CO2 are ridiculous and absurd and reckless, and one would have to wonder why he is making this claim, especially since over and over again he cannot support the particulars of his claim with his own scholarship, even with his own footnoted sources.

He doesn't know, he just hints at it with innuendo, helpfully prompted by Williams. But in the case of a sceptic, that's good enough. Big Oil. That's the only motivation for anyone ever to question the hysterical alarmism of the IPCC, the ABC and Williams. And the hypocrisy of billions of dollars of government funding globally for climate alarmism encouraged by deep green environmental groups completely escapes them! Says it all, really.
Your ABC - Banging the drum for climate alarmism, even when it's half-baked alarmism from somebody nobody has ever heard of, who knows nothing whatsoever about climate.

You can read it and listen to it here, and see Lomborg's rebuttal here (there's also a lengthy PDF as well).

UPDATE: Howard Friel responds personally to this post in the comments section (see here)


1 comment:

Paul said...

Said it before. The minute onshore processing starts the only thing holding them back is available boats.