Friday, March 04, 2011

"We're gonna build it but we're not gonna use it"

That seems to be the intended and quite addled message behind the announcement below -- As Australia's Labor Party government tries to deny the total constipation of their "refugee" policy. Labor won't do what it needs to do in order to stop the "boat people" arriving but it won't give many of them residence permits either. So it just keeps locking more and more of them up! And that means ever more prisons keep being needed

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says that just because the government is establishing a new 1500-bed immigration detention centre in Darwin it doesn't mean it will necessarily be filled to capacity.

Mr Bowen says the first 500 places at the $9.2 million Wickham Point facility should be ready by mid-year. But, he says, the government can't say how many new asylum seekers it expects to have to house over the next few years. "It's very hard to predict exact numbers ... we don't make forecasts," he told ABC Radio.

"(But) it's well known that the number of boat arrivals has been high of recent times. It's well know that our detention network has been under pressure. "What we do do is prepare for foreseeable contingencies."

The immigration minister said the new centre would ensure against overcrowding but the 1500-bed facility "might not all be necessary or it might all be necessary".

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says there's only one way to stop overcrowding and "that's to stop the boats and the boats will just keep coming unless the government changes policy".

He said opening a new Darwin detention centre was "yet another broken promise" by Labor. "They said there'd be no more onshore detention centres when plainly there are," he told the Nine Network.

Asylum seekers arriving by boat will still be processed offshore at Christmas Island before being transferred to the mainland.


Ethnic-based anger explodes at NSW High School

Lebanese Muslims tend to be very arrogant and aggressive -- as is shown by their readiness to defy and attack police in the story below. Ordinary Aussies on the other hand are some of the most easy-going people in the world. But they can be pushed too far and a lot of Lebanese Muslims are prone to such pushing -- which is where the Cronulla riots also came from

IT had been simmering for months, say students, and this is the moment school racism reached boiling point. A brawl that erupted between a student's relatives and police was the culmination of an R-rated slanging match on Facebook between "Leb" and "Aussie" students.

While education officials denied yesterday there was any ongoing violence at Hoxton Park High School in Hinchinbrook, south west Sydney, parents and students said tensions between students had escalated in the past few years.

A 14-year-old student said that she was "jumped" on Wednesday afternoon by "10 Australian girls" who punched, kicked, scratched and spat at her. "They were saying, 'f ... Arabs', 'you bitch', 'you slut' - everything. They said all Muslim mums with scarves can hang themselves with it," the student said. "I was very upset and very angry. [Other Muslim children] at school were very angry, too." The girl said she didn't know why she was singled out by her attackers.

Posts on social networking site Facebook claimed the attack on this girl was in response to a fight between her friends and the group who "jumped" her two weeks ago.

The girl said she called her relatives for help and by 3pm a large crowd of her family and friends had gathered at the front of the school. They allegedly clashed with police who used capsicum spray to subdue the crowd and arrested six men and women, aged between 26 and 50, who were later charged with offences including affray, intimidation, assaulting police, resisting arrest and offensive language.

Witness Zahra Elasmar, whose two children attend the school, said Wednesday's fight was a spillover from the racist slurs made on students' Facebook pages. Facebook images obtained by The Daily Telegraph show derogatory comments made about other students including "lebs are rats!" .

Mrs Elasmar said she wrote to the Department of Education and Training about racism at the school and, with other parents, met with DET representatives, school staff and police liaison last month.

She said she collected 50 signatures on a petition sent to officials, but that it had fallen on deaf ears. "The principal doesn't know how to deal with this," she said. "What we witnessed today is not right in a multicultural country. We don't want another Cronulla [riot] at Hoxton Park."

A Department of Education and Training spokesman said the School Education Director will meet with Mrs Elasmar "soon" and that students who engage in racist or other anti-social behaviour are "disciplined".

Another parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said his son was attacked last year by "Leb students". "He can protect himself, but I was worried," he said. It was this brawl which caused the subsequent near-riot at the Green Valley Police Station.

While a police media release claimed only 40 supporters of the six people arrested over the school fight congregated outside the station, a police incident report obtained by The Daily Telegraph shows worried officers called in backup from units from across the South-Western Sydney command.

The report said police estimated "between 80 to 100" people - predominately young men - surrounded the police station. When a breakaway group tried to storm the station, police found themselves "faced with a real danger and the possibility of a volatile and violent confrontation resulting in the urgent call for assistance". Police with the assistance of surrounding local area commands, the dog squad and highway patrol officers took two hours to bring the large and angry group under control.


Militant unions fined for illegal action at Melbourne building sites

MILITANT unions and five of their officials have been fined $110,000 for disrupting concrete pours and engaging in other illegal action at Melbourne building sites.

The Federal Court yesterday imposed the penalties on unions opposed to a swipe card system introduced by builder Bovis Lend Lease at the Royal Children's Hospital and three Docklands sites in 2008.

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner Leigh Johns said the industrial action was unwarranted and caused delays to the completion of the new children's hospital. "The unlawful industrial action included work stoppages, a rally, and a human blockade created to prevent concrete pours from occurring at the ANZ project in the Docklands precinct," he said.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and three of its officials were fined a total of $66,250. The Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union and two of its officials were fined a total of $43,750. The penalties were agreed by the ABCC and the unions.


Tax betrayal haunts Independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott

TONY Windsor and Rob Oakeshott are trying to play the victim now but the country independents are simply reaping the whirlwind of the betrayal of their deeply conservative electorates after the August election.

They sold out their constituents in return for flattery and back slapping in Canberra, and now they're feigning shock when they get blowback. Give us a break.

Even though he tried to hide, everyone saw Windsor and his grinning, bearded mate Oakeshott standing there last week, with Julia Gillard, Bob Brown, Christine Milne and Greg Combet, at the press conference announcing the carbon tax that the Prime Minister expressly promised during the election campaign she would never impose.

And he'll be hiding up the back of that sovereign sextet the next time they announce another of Brown's pet policies - euthanasia, same-sex marriage and any number of wasteful crackpot green schemes that are anathema to conservatives.

Now Windsor is complaining about "shock jocks" and Coalition MPs and nefarious "others" who he claims are "involved in an orchestrated campaign" to inciting US-style violence against him. It's just another smokescreen to hide from the consequences of his actions.

He claimed on Radio National yesterday to have received death threats over the carbon tax, which were being "investigated", though when pressed by interviewer Fran Kelly, he became vague.

Tamworth police have no record of any complaints and the Australian Federal Police last night confirmed they were investigating a complaint lodged by Windsor yesterday, that is, after his 7.30am interview claiming there was an investigation.

As proof of his suffering, Windsor released a phone message he had received: "You're a f ... . . g dog Windsor," said the male caller. "You're a f ... . . g liar, a dog, a rat, a big f ... . . g MP dog doing damn nothing. You wait. You're not going to get voted in again. I hope you die."

Unseemly language aside, if that's the worst threat Windsor can drum up then all he's proved is that he's a tricky wuss.

Take out the swear words and the unpleasant hope that he dies and what you have left is a statement that reflects the feelings of much of Windsor's electorate of New England, which gave Labor just 8 per cent of its vote at the last election and the Greens a paltry 4 per cent.

A big MP who has delivered his constituents and the rest of this hapless nation into the hands of a Labor-Green Coalition Government and a carbon tax that will diminish their quality of life.

The big threat in that phone call was he won't get voted in again. Amen to that, say the two-thirds of Australians who don't support a carbon tax, judging by Coalition polling in NSW last weekend.

In the circumstances, Windsor's constituents have been restrained. He's lucky they are country folk, who tend to keep their own counsel and are not whiny inner-city Greens voters who scream bloody murder if they feel wronged, which is every minute of every day.

DESCRIPTIONS of Windsor as "dingo" and "traitor" are not unknown on Inverell radio station 2NZ either. It ran a phone-in on the carbon tax, and in 30 minutes fielded 111 calls against and only three calls for. Tamworth's Northern Daily Leader ran a poll that found 75 per cent of people were against a carbon price.

John "Wacka" Williams, a Nationals senator and farm machine supplier from Inverell, says New England locals are "very very angry" with Windsor, and worried about increased costs of electricity and fuel and job losses under a carbon tax, which will do nothing for the environment.

"I think people are getting very annoyed with Tony Windsor," he told ABC radio yesterday. "There is a survey Tony is undertaking now in New England on same-sex marriage, on euthanasia, on a tax summit. Will he do that as far as a carbon tax goes?

Will he ask the people of his electorate because he claims to be the people's representative but he clearly did not listen to his electorate when it came to a decision about who he would put into government after theAugust 21 election. Will he do the same again and disregard the wishes of his electorate?"

Excellent questions.

Rather than blaming Tony Abbott, and "shock jocks" who he imagines are involved in "a degree of orchestration" of the anger in his electorate, Windsor should face the reality that his constituents all by themselves have been burning with resentment ever since he sided with Labor after the election, and that his carbon tax betrayal is the last straw.

It's the same for Oakeshott, who has been playing a bizarre no-speakies with Abbott, because he is upset that Joe Hockey went to his electorate and told people that a vote for the independents is a vote for Labor.

Well, duh. Oakeshott is living proof of that. What does he have to complain about other than Hockey speaking the plain, unvarnished truth, a concept with which the independents seem unfamiliar.

Oakeshott's conservative Lyne electorate in northern NSW voted just 13 per cent for Labor and 4 per cent for the Greens at the last election, so they are none too happy about his embrace of the Brown-Gillard pact, as shown by the latest polling. His personal approval rating has plunged from 63 per cent net positive support to negative 12 per cent, a 75-point turnaround. Ouch.

In the heart of his electorate, in Port Macquarie, the locals are "white hot" with anger against Oakeshott. Brett Pye, owner of Pye Providores in Port Macquarie, calls Oakeshott an "idiot" for "siding with such a cowboy outfit as this Labor Government". After last year's election he put up big signs on his front fence branding Oakeshott "Judas" and "You bloody sellout". He gets frequent compliments on the signs, he says, and not one complaint.

"The number of people that have said 'Good on you' is unbelievable," he says. "I deal with people who work for a living - they understand how hard it is to earn a dollar."

When even the ABC political program Insiders is labelling Oakeshott a "Big Sook", albeit with a question mark, you know his bid for the sympathy vote is falling flat. It's not the fault of Joe Hockey or Tony Abbott that his constituents have turned against him.

The other independent holding the country to ransom is Andrew Wilkie, the former Green who claims to stand for integrity in politics. Yet, instead of chiding Gillard for breaking her election-eve promise - "There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead" - he was busy in Parliament this week lambasting the "racist" Coalition because Cory Bernardi had said something unflattering about Islam.

As for Greens leader Bob Brown, now he's giving Wayne Swan public lectures on how to deal with the Opposition, and boasting about how the Government adopted his carbon tax platform. His cocky performance on Monday in the Senate shows hubris is coming early to the Greens. Mr 13 Per Cent is ruling the roost, a cuckoo in the Labor nest who has given Gillard a policy and philosophy framework she never had, and the nation a nightmare it never asked for.

This is the whirlwind that the independents have reaped.


Gasp! Private schools spend more on their students than government schools do!

Did anyone expect otherwise? What do they think the parents pay for? A most unsurprising revelation. After the Latham debacle, the Labor party would be mad to use this as an excuse to attack private school funding -- but they are pretty mad. Witness their carbon tax and fibre broadband policies

The Coalition has warned the updated My School website will undermine government funding to independent schools while failing to help parents make better educational choices for their children.

Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said the government had not made a convincing case for publishing independent schools' financial data. "The Coalition doesn't believe that information being made available will add anything to the educational outcomes of either government or non-government students," he told The Australian Online. "There can only be one reason to publish non-government financial data and that is to undermine government funding of non-government schools."

Schools Minister Peter Garrett launched My School 2.0 this morning at Telopea Park bilingual school in the Canberra suburb of Barton. He said the site was "game-changing" and would give parents "unparalleled data" on school finances.

Mr Garrett warned against parents removing their children from schools simply because of the updated data, instead saying they should read the website carefully and consult their school principals. "Have discussions as you feel are necessary with the school in question," he said. "Think carefully about what you read and what you get from the site and then make your own decisions."

Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos warned that the My School 2.0 website showed an alarming resources gap between government and private schools. "The gap is being fuelled by a central government funding system which is blind to the real needs of students," he said.

The union boss told The Australian Online the new financial information pointed to a need for a greater investment in the nation's government schools. But he said the information on the website remained limited, as it failed to include millions of dollars held in trust by private schools. "Literally millions of dollars in surpluses and millions held in trust foundations, assets and investment portfolios by private schools will not be shown on the My School website."

He said even on the financial information available, private schools were spending more than double what government schools were spending per student on capital expenditure and 25 per cent more in recurrent funding.

Queensland Education Minister Cameron Dick urged parents to use the revamped My School website with caution, saying he was concerned about the potential for unfair comparisons, given the complexity of the information. “The data could be used unfairly in relation to some schools; some schools have different needs, some communities have different needs ... that's appropriate that they would be funded to a different level,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

“Funding is affected by location, school programs, age and size of facilities, staffing, overall enrolment and the number of indigenous, international, non-English speaking students and students with disabilities.”

The Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens' Associations said it too was concerned with the publication of school finances. “Every school is unique and therefore not comparable,” state president Margaret Leary said in a statement. “The figures presented on the My School website are not a true and fair indicator.”


Note: I have two other blogs covering Australian news. They are more specialized so are not updated daily but there are updates on both most weeks. See QANTAS/Jetstar for news on Qantas failings and Australian police news for news on police misbehaviour

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