Sunday, March 04, 2012

New Free Speech Campaign Launched

You would all know by now that Mr. Ray Finkelstein QC, a left-wing former Federal Court Judge with no media experience, issued a 400 page report for the Gillard Government which calls for a Big Brother Super-Regulator to 'regulate' political speech and - among other things - impose new laws to stop Australians from speaking up.

Its “recommendations” should sicken every single Australian: They actually call for a Big Brother Super-Regulator to censor not just the newspapers and TV, but websites, personal blogs, and even what you say on Twitter!

This is a proposal that would seem right at home in North Korea or Zibmabwe. I never thought – as dark as things seemed- we could stoop this low here in Australia.

The size and scope of the proposed Super-Regulator is breathtaking. They will have the power to impose a “code of ethics”, force you to print views you don’t agree with as part of a ‘right of reply’, take you to court, and even make you take pieces down! Even personal blogs that get only 40 hits a day will be covered! To make matters worse, the SuperRegulator "would not have to give reasons for its decisions" and the decisions "would not be subject to appeal." Even climate change websites in other countries like Watt’s Up With That will be coved by this!
This is not a matter of partisan politics. If you are left wing or right wing, you should take action against this horror.

We need to speak out now – while we are still allowed.

This is why we just created so we can work together to help stop this nightmare from becoming a reality.

It includes an online petition, which I STRONGLY urge you all to sign and to pass onto all your family and friends, as well as an “Action Centre” detailing what other activities you can take, a resource toolkit, and links to a Facebook page and Twitter account.

Australia is already behind countries like, Niger, Mali, Slovakia, Namibia and Poland in the Index of Media Freedom. If this is passed, we will be joining North Korea, Cuba, and Zimbabwe.

Here’s what you can do right now to stop this nightmare from becoming a reality:

1)Visit and sign our online petition calling on the government to reject these recommendations outright. Then pass this on to your family, friends, bloggers you read, and any other contacts you may have!

2)Visit our online resource centre to find out what MP’s to contact, and a draft email of what to say.

3)Call your local talkback radio station, or write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing your disgust at this proposal!

4)Follow this new campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and share with all your contacts!

5)Make a donation of $25, $50, or $100 to help us spread the word. As much as I would like to, I can't afford to run this campaign myself, and every cent donated will go to making sure this does not become a reality!

Freedom of speech is at the very heart of democracy, and if we do not stand up to defend it now, we might not have the chance again: all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

I know I can count on you to do the right thing and take action now. Our future as a free society depends on it.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Exposing Finkelstein’s Dirty Trick

Mr. Finkelstein, in his 400 page attack on freedom of speech in Australia and call for Big Brother regulation of the media, website, blogs, and even Twitter, spent a number of pages discussing media bias in Australia regards to Climate Change.

It is clear from the report, particularly paragraphs 4.31-4.42 that a major driving force behind this proposal is to muzzle climate sceptics; it is pretty explicit about this.

However, what is interesting is the dirty little trick Mr. Finkelstein used.

Mr. Finkelstein pointed out that only 21% of Australians agree that the media reports all sides of the story (at paragraph 4.27). In the next paragraph (4.28) he comments that a different study found 72% thought that the media was fair to the Coalition, and only 55% to Labor. The next paragraph (4.29) cites another study that 62% of Australians believe that newspapers are biased against Labor, and even 42% of non-Labor supporters agree with this.

The implication from context is clear: the media biased to the Coalition which is why we need to take action.

Except for one thing. The polls showing a pro-Labor bias were from… wait for it… 1966 and and 1976. That’s right, they are decades old. Yet they are in the same section as debate on climate change, and used later on as justification for this regulatory regime.

This would be funny, if it wasn’t so scary…


Gillard opens the flood gates for illegals

AUSTRALIA will quadruple the number of asylum seekers released from detention to live in the community, prompting accusations the Gillard Government has quietly dismantled mandatory detention.

The dramatic increase allowing 400 asylum seekers a month to be released on bridging visas to live and work or claim welfare payments before their claims are finalised prompted Coalition warnings yesterday of a "let them in and let them out" policy.

But it will be welcomed by the Greens, who have long called for the dismantling of the inhumane detention of asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers had previously remained in detention until their claims for refugee status were finalised, some after years, and were then released into the community or deported.

The forecast of 400 asylum seekers a month to be released into the community is the same number the department expects to arrive by boat every month over the next year.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen flagged the new policy in November, predicting 100 asylum seekers a month would be released.

"The rate at which we are currently processing people would see us releasing about 400 people a month on bridging visas," deputy secretary John Moorhouse said.

Immigration secretary Andrew Metcalfe added in evidence to a parliamentary hearing that on current boat arrival, "we believe we will probably get up to that figure".

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison ridiculed Minister Bowen's earlier pledge that the policy of mandatory detention was "rock solid". "Labor's policy for illegal boat arrivals has now been exposed as simply being let them in and let them out," Mr Morrison said.

"The revelation the number of bridging visas will rise to four times the level indicated by the Minister when he announced the scheme just three months ago shows just how far the Labor Government has embraced the Greens policy of onshore release.

"The big winners are people smugglers. The Government's own figures reveal the average price paid on these boats is $10,000 a person."

But the Government expects to rein in a budget blowout sparked by rising arrivals under the policy. That is because it is cheaper to allow asylum seekers to live and work in the community or claim welfare payments than it is to house them in remote detention centres.


Means test selective school parents

Smart people will always tend to get rich and will pass on their smarts to their children so this is how it always will be. But rich people already pay more tax. Why penalize them again?

THE families of children attending selective public high schools are among the most affluent, prompting questions about the equity of the system and whether parents should face a means-tested levy.

Entry to a selective school is based on academic performance, but data from the federal government's My School website shows that children whose parents are from higher social and educational backgrounds are over-represented, while those from disadvantaged backgrounds are significantly under-represented.

Educators call it apartheid within the public school system, and a leading private school principal, Timothy Hawkes, has suggested wealthy families with children in selective public schools should make an extra financial contribution to the education system through a means-tested levy.

My School publishes every school's distribution of students across the different quarters of socio-educational advantage from top to bottom. For example, At James Ruse Agricultural High School, the state's top performer academically, almost 60 per cent of its students come from the top quarter while only 4 per cent come from the bottom.

Hornsby Girls High School has the highest proportion of students from affluent backgrounds in the selective system with 68 per cent. Just 1 per cent of students come from the lowest quarter.

Normanhurst Boys High School has a similar profile with just 2 per cent of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and 66 per cent in the most advantaged.

Selective schools in less affluent areas of the state are not immune from the pattern. Penrith High School takes 5 per cent of its students from the bottom quarter while 56 per cent come from the top.

A strong supporter of public education, former principal of Asquith Boys High School Chris Bonnor, now fellow of the think tank Centre for Policy Development, said equal access to the selective system based on academic merit was a fallacy.

"There is a bit of an urban myth which has been peddled that selective schools take students from a wide range of social backgrounds but in reality they don't," he said.

"There is a disproportionate number of children from high socio-educational families in selective schools and that doesn't change when you look at selective schools in middle- to lower-class suburbs."

The social status of children attending selective schools is similar to those attending some of the state's most exclusive private schools.

Mr Bonnor called for a review of the selective school system.

The headmaster at The King's School in Parramatta, Dr Hawkes, said the wealthy parents of children attending selective schools should make a fairer financial contribution through a payment that would work in a similar way to the Medicare levy.

"There is an imperative for parents who send their children to selective schools to make a contribution if, and only if, they have the financial means to do so," he said.

"There is no question that there will be a number of families who are doing it tough and have children in selective state schools.

"These examples will invariably be trotted out and presented as a reason why this idea is inappropriate but these sorts of parents are often in the minority."

NSW has the highest number of selective schools in Australia with 17 fully selective schools, 25 partially selective schools, four selective agricultural schools and an online selective program.

A specialist in school systems at the University of Melbourne, Professor Richard Teese, believes the high number of selective schools in NSW has led to a two-tier public system.

"It's a form of social segregation based on academic selection," he said. "Selective high schools are a way of multiplying social advantage."

"There is an intensification of disadvantage at the other end."

The deputy chairman of the Public Schools Principals Forum, Brian Chudleigh, said David Gonski's federal school funding review, which recommended a student-based, rather than school-based, funding model would help close the gap between the haves and have-nots.

"In theory, enrolment at a selective school is based on academic merit," he said.

"Unfortunately, that nexus between socio-economic status and enrolment in selective schools is plain for all to see. The Gonski approach to funding would go a long way to helping that situation.

"It's clearly an equity issue. Children from less fortunate backgrounds, while they may be just as intelligent as children from more affluent homes, struggle to compete right from the word go."


Pressures to diet weighing on children

And all based on a political fad with very dubious science behind it. Dieting usually ends up making you FATTER

CHILDREN as young as four, panicked by aggressive anti-obesity messages, are starving themselves.

In 2010-11, 42 primary school children were admitted to hospital for eating disorders and the number of under-12s seeking help at Eating Disorders Association Queensland almost doubled from the previous year.

There was a 100 per cent increase in the number of cases relating to primary school boys. More than 500 parents in total made contact.

The shocking new figures come as food warrior and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver yesterday called for Government's to regulate what goes in to school lunchboxes.

In Australia this week, Mr Oliver said: "I think school lunch boxes are the wild west.

"Diet-related disease is costing more money to any government in the world - it is a miserable bastard of an epidemic.

"So your government needs to catergorically control what is and isn't appropriate in a school lunch, and it needs to educate parents what to put in those lunch boxes."

However, experts closer to home are now warning of a new health crisis with children confused about the anti-obesity message.

"We are just starting to see in the figures the fallout from the 'thin at all costs' anti-obesity message being forced on our kids," said Desi Achilleos, the co-ordinator of Eating Disorders Association Resource Centre.

"The message is not working for children who are overweight and is creating a class of self-loathing healthy-weight children.

"In 2010-11, we dealt with 47 per cent more primary school children than the previous year. The youngest was a preschooler.

"Last week I had a call from a guidance officer in a state school asking my advice about a Grade 2 child, a six-year-old girl who refuses to eat. She says that she hates her body and no one will marry her if she's ugly."

A staff member at the group was told of a healthy-weight primary school child being picked on by friends for having a muffin in her lunchbox.

The association is putting much of the blame at the feet of the state's schools. Damning feed-back from clients paints a picture of schools using food diaries, classroom weigh-ins and public humiliation.

"There are horror stories, but as a whole primary schools are well-meaning and adhering to curriculum guidelines, but nutrition needs to be taught in a broader context of collective health. We would recommend more collaboration with parents and caregivers - they are making the food choices for kids," Ms Achilleos said.

Brisbane GP Leanne Barron, who treats kids with eating disorders, said: "I have seen a five-year-old who has lost 3kg in one school year because she is so frightened of taking 'unhealthy' food and of not being able to eat the quantity of 'approved' foods in her lunch box.

"Fanaticism by the broader community has led to classroom weighing, lunchbox nazi-checks by teachers and schools vying to have the 'healthiest tuckshop' while in their playgrounds underweight children and teenagers shiver through the heat of Queensland summers, unable to maintain a healthy body temperature."

According to Ms Achilleos: "Queensland schools are doing their best to address nutrition through the Australian Curriculum Guidelines of a 'no-harm' approach."

However, the association is adamant the use of a food diary in some state schools breaks the "no harm" policy and slams any shaming of children for their food choices.

Asking kids to be accountable for their food choices when they are not the ones choosing their food is concerning," Ms Achilleos said. "Also, things like the calling out of sizes of sports uniforms at sports time can be very damaging."

Amanda Dearden, co-ordinator of Isis: The Eating Issues Centre Inc, told The Sunday Mail that Isis, in collaboration with the Queensland Eating Disorders Advisory Group, has met Education Queensland representatives a number of times to express concern about the growing number of young children with eating disorders.

Education Queensland told The Sunday Mail some state schools had hired a nutritionist and acknowledged the presence of food diaries but insisted they were optional.


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