Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Andrew Bolt loses racial vilification court case

HERALD Sun columnist Andrew Bolt has lost an action brought in the Federal Court in which the columnist' was accused of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act.

Bolt was found to have contravened Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Nine applicants brought a class-action against Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times claiming Bolt wrote they sought professional advantage from the colour of their skin.

The judges ordered both parties to confer on relief arising from the action.

At issue was Bolt's assertion that the nine applicants had chosen to identify themselves as “Aboriginal” and consequently win grants, prizes and career advancement, despite their apparently fair skin and mixed heritage.

The nine applicants were led by activist Pat Eatock and included artist Bindi Cole, NSW Australian of the Year Larissa Behrendt, author Anita Heiss and former ATSIC chief Geoff Clark.

Four articles published by the Herald Sun columnist in the newspaper and his blog were “a head-on assault on a group of highly successful and high-achieving” Aborigines, Ron Merkel QC told the court during proceedings in late March and early April.

The nine people sought an apology from the Herald & Weekly Times and an order against republishing, but no compensation.

In an occasionally explosive case, Bolt’s writings about Aboriginal identity were painted as being akin to a “eugenics approach” and similar to writings that led to the Holocaust.

Bolt subsequently protested the slurs in court as “an unforgivable travesty.”

In concluding the eight day proceedings, counsel for the plaintiffs conceded Bolt's writings did not incite “racial vilification or racial hatred”, rather they “constituted highly personal, highly derogatory and highly offensive attacks” on the nine individuals. [So it was really defamation that he was guilty of?]


Greenie antisemitism still bubbling away

A JEWISH doctor who campaigned against the Greens in the recent NSW state election over their boycott of Israeli-owned companies operating in Australia believes senior figures in the party are behind his prosecution for a minor electoral breach.

John Nemesh, 55, yesterday pleaded not guilty in Sydney's Newtown Local Court to distributing unauthorised election material during the March election campaign. The Hungarian-born son of Holocaust survivors, Dr Nemesh believes his career as a medical specialist, working in hospital intensive care units, is on the line as a result of the charge, which carries a possible fine of $550 or six months' jail.

"The Greens always go on about the poor individual who's having a hard time with the system," Dr Nemesh said yesterday. "In my case, they are the system and I am the poor individual."

Dr Nemesh's posters condemned the Greens for their support of the "boycotts, divestment and sanctions" campaign.

The posters, which targeted Greens candidate and local Mayor Fiona Byrne in the inner-western Sydney seat of Marrickville, were legal and duly authorised, except they did not include the name of the printer - an omission Dr Nemesh claims was an honest mistake, given he had no motive to conceal the information. The case has been brought by the NSW police, who would have required a complaint to take action.

Despite repeated requests by The Australian, Ms Byrne and other senior NSW Greens yesterday declined to deny they had lodged the complaint against Dr Nemesh. But a spokesman for the NSW Electoral Commission said it had nothing to do with the case.

Ms Byrne shepherded a wide-ranging boycott of Israel through Marrickville Council earlier this year, although the policy was later reversed.

Dr Nemesh, a member of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, was so incensed at Ms Byrne's support of the BDS that when she stood for parliament he produced posters accusing the Greens of racism and homophobia, and posted them around Marrickville. One of the posters, which cost about $2000 in total, suggested hypocrisy by the Greens in supporting gay causes while denouncing Israel, where gay rights are enshrined in law.

"I heard Fiona Byrne's statements in Marrickville, and it was all about taking action against Jewish enterprises, Jewish shops and Jewish cultural exchanges," Dr Nemesh said. "I felt so strongly that I couldn't sleep, so I very quickly designed some posters and hired some vehicles. I felt nothing was being done in terms of organised resistance."

He has now gone on the front foot by lodging a complaint with police against Ms Byrne for allegedly stealing his posters. It is a claim Ms Byrne will have difficulty denying, given a YouTube video on the internet features her and a fellow Greens activist boasting of stealing one of the posters, and offering it up for auction.

Ms Byrne did not fare well out of her hardline campaign against Israel, polls showing her support of BDS was a turn-off with voters and helped Labor's Carmel Tebbutt just hold Marrickville

The BDS campaign has grown more shrill since March, with protesters focusing on the Israeli-owned Max Brenner coffee shops.

"It's a vindication of how I felt," said Dr Nemesh of the latest controversy. "It's exactly what I was thinking was going to happen, and it happened."

Ms Byrne did not respond to emails and phone messages from The Australian.

Dr Nemesh described himself as a political moderate and insisted he acted as an individual.

He received support last night from Luke Foley, Labor leader in the NSW upper house. "The Greens are the first to condemn tough law and order legislation, yet they want to throw the book at a man for exercising his freedom of speech," Mr Foley said.


More Greenie racism

"Coconut" is a very offensive racial slur to blacks. The cause is a dispute between the Greens and the miners, with the Aborigines on the side of the miners

THE first indigenous woman elected to any Australian parliament will today announce her resignation after being vilified as a "toxic coconut" over her support for Woodside's contentious $30 billion gas hub proposal near the West Australian resort town of Broome.

Labor MP Carol Martin, 54, yesterday told the party's West Australian leader, Eric Ripper, she would not contest the next election in March 2013.

She was elected to the seat of Kimberley in 2001 after the resignation of Ernie Bridge, the Labor-turned-independent country music star who was the first indigenous Australian to become a cabinet minister.

Ms Martin has repeatedly urged opponents of the Woodside development to respect the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr people's right to do a deal with the company for the gas hub. In June, they voted 60-40 in favour.

Ms Martin's position put her at odds with members of her own extended family, and in a town of vociferous anti-gas sentiment it was widely speculated she could lose her seat over her stand.

The dispute over the gas hub has created ugly tensions in a community that prides itself on being laid-back. Ms Martin was named last week in an anonymous 10-page newsletter as "brown on the outside and full of the milk of white man's money" on the inside for not opposing the proposed gas hub.

Her name appeared on a list of nine Kimberley Aborigines, including former Australian of the year Patrick Dodson, under the heading "toxic coconuts".

Ms Martin said it was the worst slur against her in public life, and she would sue the authors if they could be identified.

The Nationals hope to win the seat of Kimberley from Labor at the next election after gaining popularity in the region through the big-spending Royalties for Regions program, under which the government promises to spend 25 per cent of mining and onshore petroleum royalties in the bush. In the Kimberley, that has included $220 million for the expansion of the irrigation area outside Kununurra.

Ms Martin told The Australian yesterday it had been a privilege to serve the people of the Kimberley, but she said she was tired of the travel between Broome and Perth, a distance of almost 2300km, and no longer wanted to be separated from her husband, Brian, for long periods. "I actually like my husband," she said.

Ms Martin said the attacks on her had been wearing. "I feel that after three terms it is time to move on, and things like that shit from last week I just don't want to put up with any more," she said.

Ms Martin is a Noongar, the Aboriginal people of the state's southwest. She lived in foster care from the age of 12 and repeatedly ran away. At 15, she went to live with her mother and siblings in Broome.

In the Kimberley, Ms Martin became a social worker and served in local government.

Her views have sometimes clashed with popular feelings. In 2009, she expressed doubts about alcohol restrictions in the towns of Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek, where fetal alcohol spectrum disorder was rampant. "I'm a social worker in my real life," she said. "I know prohibition doesn't work, has never worked historically, and if you're going to deal with addictions, you deal with addictions."

Ms Martin said she would continue to strongly represent the interests of the Kimberley until the next election.

In her maiden speech, Ms Martin said she hoped she could be an example to others. "I cannot help but feel a slight touch of disbelief it has taken so long for a person like me to get here," she told the parliament.


Australia's education export industry gets a boost

WHILE the political focus has been on boats, the Gillard government has taken a pivotal decision to reform visa policy, salvage Australia's $16 billion third largest export industry and give universities a guaranteed revenue stream as the euro-driven crisis tightens public funding.

Former competition policy guru and University of NSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer said: "The reforms are more positive than anyone we spoke to expected [and] they come when competitors are kicking own goals - riots in the UK and US funding cuts."

Questioned on Sky News' Australian Agenda program last Sunday Bowen was upfront. The entire purpose, he agreed, was to buttress the overseas student market now critical to the financial future of universities. Indeed, a number of research universities derive nearly 20 per cent of total revenue from this source (for example Monash University is 19 per cent and the University of Ballarat is 35 per cent). For universities, the main reforms gains involve quick and streamlined visa approvals, allowing foreign graduates with a bachelor's degree to work in Australia for another two years and elimination of tough financial tests as conditions of overseas student entry.

Branding the changes an "important reform" Bowen said Labor had got the balance right between ease of student entry yet keeping higher education quality. The fiscal and political strategies are vital yet unspoken. At their heart is funding diversity, now the decisive template for our universities and the key to success for each institution. With the Gillard government straining to reach its 2012-13 surplus pledge the higher education sector should have no expectations of significant future funding increases from the budget.

In his report Knight said a "perfect storm" had engulfed the sector: the high Australian dollar (up 40 per cent compared to the US dollar) made courses more comparatively expensive; reputational damage was done by attacks on foreign students, notably Indian students in Melbourne; with the real problem residing in vocational education and training the government had closed down about 20 per cent of providers; its further revocation of the highway from overseas student status to permanent migrant had shot one of Australia's prime attractions and there was much tougher competition from other developed nation universities. Knight found the perfect storm "real" and "serious."

Several principles underpinned Knight's report. He stressed the imperative to re-establish the Australian brand name, to uphold Australia's reputation for quality in education, to recognise that growth of the sector while important must not become "an end in itself" and that a balance must be struck between the student intake and proper migration controls. In the past the "shonkiest operators" had sold migration outcomes "while masquerading as education providers".

Evans still has concerns about quality in the VET [Vocational education and training, I think -- JR] sector with the new regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Agency, given the task of safeguarding standards. When Evans visited China last year he was taken aback to discover that closures in the VET sector had damaged China's confidence even in Australia's sandstone institutions.

VET numbers had more than quadrupled from 45,000 in 2004 to 206,000 in 2011, a ludicrous increase. While tying student outcomes to migration approval seemed smart when first implemented by the Howard government it was rorted too much. As Knight says, some students tried to manipulate the migration rules, others just tried to break them.

Looking at present enrolments overall there was a 9 per cent fall in the early months of 2011 compared with the previous year and a decline in each main source nation, China, India, South Korea and Malaysia. The numbers will stay below their previous peak for some years.

Given this challenge Labor will introduce a "light touch" visa, meaning that universities will get the students they want but, in turn, must take responsibility for the visa outcomes of their students. The onus will rest with each institution to ensure their visa approvals are not rorted. If a university cannot deliver then it loses its status in the fast-track game. The point is that Labor is showing its faith in universities as the "quality end" of the sector.

The second step is the two-year post-study work rights entitlement that Knight argued was essential given the competition Australia faces for students from other nations with their own work entitlements. Unsurprisingly, the ACTU is wary about this significant labour market offering.

These reforms seek to re-establish the foundations for one of Australia's most recent and vital non-resources export industries. They see the overseas student market as being of intrinsic value for the national interest and fundamental in the financial model for universities.


Numbskull "Chief Scientist" has never heard of Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants, has never heard of when Greenland was green, has never heard of the days of the dinosaurs ans has never heard of vegetation growing in the Antarctic

All of the events above show that the earth has been warmer in the past than it is today. On the last point see here. Yet below is a statement recently made on the record at an official enquiry by Australia's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb:

"With respect to this cooling stuff, I have seen the claim, but the evidence that I have seen is that the last decade has been the warmest decade that we have ever had on this planet"

Such profound ignorance as his cannot be mere ignorance, it has to be outright crookedness.


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