Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A small population for a big island?

Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich is an immigrant to Australia from Germany. He says below that Australia is much better off than Europe when it comes to coping with high levels of immigration. What he overlooks is that Australians have to endure the ever-increasing traffic jams and rising housing prices that have accompanied rapid immigrant-driven population growth. The authorities are trying to cope -- with all sorts of new roadworks, for instance -- but being constantly held up by incessant roadworks is itself a big downer

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is working hard to distance herself from her predecessor as she redefines Australia’s population policy. Kevin Rudd had famously declared that he made no apologies for supporting ‘a big Australia.’ Gillard seems to prefer a ‘small Australia,’ although she is yet to spell out the details of her thinking.

I have been living in Australia for some time now, but this ongoing population debate still puzzles me. I vividly remember, when I was researching Australian housing policies a few years ago, a planner in the NSW state government telling me that ‘we are full.’ I had just flown in from Europe, the last four hours over vast areas of sparsely inhabited land, so this blunt statement came as a bit of a surprise.

Of course, great parts of the continent are not liveable. Yet travelling up and down the east coast, you will find more empty, habitable space than anywhere between Finland and Sicily. And the lack of water also seems to be a bit of a myth. After all, Sydney has much higher annual precipitation (1,213 mm) than London (583 mm), Berlin (570 mm), or Paris (652 mm). I had never seen real rain until I came to Australia.

Apart from the strange idea that Australia is full, another aspect of the population debate perplexes me. In Europe, the main concern is about population ageing and shrinking. People are getting older, and not even migration can make up for the continent’s low fertility levels. Governments are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the worsening demographic situation. An older population means fewer taxpayers and more welfare spending; it is a toxic combination for public finances and economic growth.

In Australia, we have the opportunity to cushion the ageing process with both relatively high fertility rates and strong migration, mainly consisting of well-qualified, young migrants. European politicians would kill for such circumstances. They would love to have our problem of dealing with a fast growing population because they know that dealing with the opposite is vastly more unpleasant.

My colleague Jessica Brown and I are just about to finish a research project that looks into the demographic options for Australia. Our preliminary conclusion is clear: the real challenge in population policy is not size but age.

It would be desirable if the Prime Minister turned her attention from the futile debate over ‘Big vs. Small Australia’ to the more pertinent question of coping with a greying Australia.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated July 9. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Courts send children to live with violent parents

These latest findings will be no surprise to anybody who has followed the incessant reports of social worker idiocy -- particularly reports from NSW and Britain

COURTS are delivering children to their abusers and ignoring or disbelieving claims of domestic violence.

Australian academics have found that children are sent to live with abusive parents because lawyers and judges are emphasising shared parenting, at the expense of the child's safety. The investigation also found:

* Professionals in the family law system often do not believe allegations of domestic violence or counsel the innocent parent not to mention it for fear of sounding vindictive and of risking contact with their children.

* After divorce or separation, four in 10 children are scared to spend time with the father and almost one in 10 does not feel safe with the mother.

The Federal Attorney-General's Department commissioned the report as part of a review of 2006 changes to the Family Law Act.

University of South Australia adjunct professor Dale Bagshaw, who co-led a team of academics from UniSA and interstate, said the system needed a complete overhaul to make child safety the highest priority.

"The biggest problem reported to us was kids going into unsafe situations because the emphasis on parental rights has been given the same emphasis as the safety of the child," Professor Bagshaw said.

"We are arguing that ... the safety of the child should be given the highest priority and any accusation of violence should be investigated before the child is sent to stay with the abusive parent."

Professor Bagshaw said throughout the separation process, children felt powerless because they were not given a say about parenting arrangements or their wishes were ignored.

The report's recommendations include that children's welfare needs be paramount, that victims' rights be given priority over children's contact with the perpetrator, and that all family law professionals should have more education on family violence.

Law Society of SA president Richard Mellows said while he could not comment directly on the report, he was aware there were public misconceptions about the legal changes.

He said courts still had to determine what was in the best interest of the child when making parenting orders, and that any proof of violence would be heard in court.

Researchers spoke to more than 1000 adults and more than 100 children.


Another Labor party policy hits people's pockets

Workplace laws laws blamed for rise in cost of shipping

JULIA Gillard faces demands to wind back the Fair Work Act for businesses reeling from an explosion in shipping costs. The cost of shipping cargo has escalated because of Labor's workplace policy.

Shippers are passing on the costs of regulations that require them to pay local wages to foreign seafarers carrying domestic freight between Australian ports, prompting warnings that this could lead to higher costs for widely used goods such as vegetables and packaging.

London-based Swire Shipping last week started charging a $600 surcharge for each container it loaded in Newcastle, Brisbane and Townsville on its southeast Asia northbound service, citing the need to cover increased costs from the Fair Work Act and award changes.

Shipping Australia chief executive Llew Russell said the costs of carrying domestic containers could rise by hundreds of dollars because of the changes.

The warning came as Infrastructure Australia chairman Rod Eddington told The Australian the waterfront needed to be overhauled by adopting a more national approach to the planning of the most important ports to help the country capitalise on the mining boom. "We do need national guidelines and we do need national strategy for ports," Sir Rod said.

Under regulations introduced by the Prime Minister when she was workplace relations minister, the Fair Work Act has been extended to certain foreign-flag ships that move cargo between the nation's ports when no local vessel is available. Specifically, it applies to ships issued continuous-voyage or single-voyage permits two or more times every 12 months.

Mr Russell said vessels regularly doing work on the coast should be paid Australian wages. But he argued that the new regulations applied when a ship was largely carrying exports and imports, and was carrying the domestic freight between Australian ports as an "incidental" part of a bigger international trip.

Further, a new award for seafarers would come into force in January, which business feared could also drive up costs. Under the Howard government's Work Choices regime, these were not covered by local industrial law. Moving cargo on foreign-flagged vessels is cheaper, mostly because of lower labour costs.

Cardboard giant Visy Industries shipped about 6500 containers around the coast in the past 12 months. International shipping lines have told Visy they could stop providing coastal shipping as early as this month.

It warns this could force the company to import foreign-produced goods for use in its manufacturing operations or to use expensive road transport. "These effects will obviously impact Australian jobs, not only within our own Australian manufacturing plants but also in the many supporting services Visy's business enables," an internal memo says.

"A move to legislate payroll conditions to a service that is primarily concerned with foreign trade will see knock-on employment reductions across several Australian industries involved in manufacturing and production."

Simplot, which processes vegetables at plants in Tasmania that it sells as Birds Eye and Edgell, estimates its costs would rise by up to $7.4 million a year if it could not ship product to Brisbane and Fremantle via coastal shipping.

National logistics manager Danny Mellon has always achieved "attractive" rates because Simplot "piggy-backed" on foreign-flag ships travelling on international loops but was worried about the impact on services and costs resulting from the Fair Work Act.

Toll Holdings managing director Paul Little said the company, a major freight forwarder within Australia, had been told by a major shipping line that it would have to pay 30 per cent more for moving cargo domestically by sea.

"The two big fears for us are that prices will go up, which will make our customers less competitive," Mr Little said. "The other is the shipping companies will say it is no longer economical to pick up coastal freight. We've already had two international shipping companies, one of which is China Shipping, that have said 'we will no longer pick up coastal containers in the future'."


Government Science: Cowed and Corrupted by Politics

The Carbon Sense Coalition today claimed that government science bodies in Australia had become cowed and corrupted by politicians.

The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, said that following the lead of the climate alarmists infecting the government owned ABC, CSIRO, BOM and most state and federal science departments were now singing the government song on climate. “It’s time to de-politicise the Australian government climate science industry.”

Forbes explained: “The once great CSIRO has abandoned objective climate research in favour of global warming activism. “This started with its selective promotion of extreme drought scenarios. With a portfolio of over twenty unproven climate models to choose from, CSIRO chose one forecasting severe droughts to support the alarmist Garnaut report. “Then CSIRO applied pressure on staff who disagreed with Penny Wong’s ETS. One who wrote a critical report was censured and resigned.

“The last straw was the recent appointment of CSIRO’s Chairman – he is a lawyer whose day job is a merchant banker with a huge vested interest in carbon trading. He is a global warming alarmist whose long term climate observations are taken on weekends from his yacht in Port Phillip Bay.

“Both CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology are now focussed, not on climate research or weather forecasting, but on holding secret meetings to discuss how to spread alarmist propaganda on man-made global warming and how to combat “skeptics and denialists”.

“Even the numerous state departments of Agriculture and Forestry are so cowed that not one scientist is prepared to say out loud that, over the life of a cow or a tree, there are ZERO net emissions or extractions of carbon dioxide.

“The corrupting influence of government money and government control has destroyed the spirit of open enquiry in Universities, CSIRO, BOM, the EPA, the government media machine and most of the state departments of Agriculture, Environment, Forestry, Energy, Planning and Resources. Politics is even affecting Science Education.

“All government science organisations should be removed from the ACT (Australian Carbon Territory) and the corroding influence of Carbonerra City. They should be directed by scientists and producers from the agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining and processing industries they supposedly serve.

“Finally, all government research projects should have a specific life and goal and be put out to tender.”


Why schoolyard bullies should be stopped in their tracks

SCHOOL bullies are three times more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour in their early 20s, while victims experience higher levels of depression and anxiety, according to a study revealed in The Sunday Telegraph.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has uncovered, for the first time, the damaging and ongoing effects bullying can have on children in their adult life.

Researchers tracked 1000 Australian children over three different stages of their lives - when they were 12 years old, 13 and again at 23 - and discovered tragic results.

Children who were bullied showed signs of depression when they grew older. "What we found with the victims is that once they were established in this role, abuse was likely to continue," Dr. Jodie Lodge said.

Dr Lodge found that one in four children were bullied at schools - and that 95 percent of students were bullied more than once. “They also experienced a number of social adjustment problems during adolescence and by their early 20s, were more likely to have higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress.”

Dr. Lodge, who presented the ground- breaking findings at a conference last week, said bullies tended to perform poorly academically and were more likely to drop-out of school.

They were also more likely to use drugs, be involved in physical fights and engage in other criminal activity in adult life. “Those who bullied in adolescence were three to four times more likely to be involved in anti-social behavior and physical violence by their early 20s," Dr. Lodge said. “It seems that once they're on this trajectory or pathway, it's something that stays with them into adulthood."

Verbal abuse and insults were the most common forms of bullying reported by both boys and girls. Physical violence was more prevalent among boys, while girls tended to bully by socially excluding others.

Dr Lodge said children who were both bullies and victims were particularly at risk as they suffered greater degrees of social and academic problems, were generally unpopular and had fewer friends.

Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said the results showed we needed to act urgently. “We know bullying has been linked with self-harm and attempts at suicide so it's a very, very serious issue and we need to address it," he said.


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