Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Perth brickie sparks row over Irish ban

The advertiser was saving both himself and others time and trouble as experience had obviously moved him not to hire Irish people. The ban on such advertising won't remove discrimination. It will just make it less visible. Even if he cannot advertise what he wants he can still hire on that basis as long as he keeps that basis to himself. This is a ban on speech, not a ban on discrimination

AN online job ad stating "no Irish" should apply has forced the Australian embassy in Ireland to defend the country's commitment to diversity and racial tolerance.

The ad posted on website Gumtree stated: “Bricklayer needed ASAP. $250 a day, no part-time workers and NO IRISH”, reports the Irish Independent.

The ad sparked immediate reader outrage after the Independent reported the ad was “in language reminiscent of the discrimination against the Irish in British cities in the 1950s”.

It has since been removed, but not before the man responsible - known only as “Simon” - defended his position stating he was sick of Irish people applying for jobs they were not qualified to do.

“I have no trouble with Irish people,” he told the Independent. “But I’ve had to fire a number of people. I’ve had lots of Irish people say they have experience bricklaying but come over and have no clue how to lay bricks. “I’m very busy and don’t have time to be watching over them.”

A spokesman for the Australian embassy told the Independent online: “The Government has an unwavering commitment to a multicultural Australia and greatly welcomes the contribution made by people of all backgrounds, regardless of origin, gender, or colour, to Australia's culture, society, and prosperity.”

He said Australia had no tolerance for racism and discrimination reflected in a broad range of anti-discrimination legislation.

Orla Tunney of the Irish Embassy in Canberra said they are very concerned at any instance of discrimination against Irish people in Australia. "We understand that the advertisement in question was illegal and has now been removed from the website where it appeared," said Ms Tunney.

"Thankfully, incidents of this type are very rare and in general we are aware of a very high level of respect in Australia for Irish workers. We very often receive positive feedback about the level of education and training of Irish workers and their ability to adapt well to Australian workplaces."

Race Discrimination Commissioner Helen Szoke confirmed with that this was a clear cut case of discrimination. “What’s important is that people understand that it is unlawful to advertise in this way and that there are grounds for people to bring a complaint of discrimination to the Australian Human Rights Commission,” Dr Szoke said.

“But it’s also unhealthy. With a job like bricklaying it’s pretty easy to ascertain what the requirements of the job are without being abusive on the basis of race.”

Dr Szoke said employment was the single largest area of racial complaints in Australia. “Section 16 of the Race Discrimination Act states that an advertisement could be understood as being unlawful if it treats people unfavourably on the basis of race,” she said. “This is a pretty clear cut case. It’s a clear exclusion of Irish people both in the advertising and in the employment practice – so there would seem there are grounds for lodging a complaint.”

The economic downturn in Ireland has led to a surge of Irish emigrating to Australia in search of work.


New Distance Education curriculum makes kids cry, mothers claim

REMOTE families are looking to move closer to town or leave Distance Education as a new curriculum plays "absolute havoc" with their lives.

Parents say children have been left in tears and are losing their self-confidence because of Distance Education curriculum material that contains factual errors, technical language even parents cannot understand and incomprehensible jumps in its content.

Education Queensland is being accused of playing "absolute havoc" with remote families' lives over its Distance Education version of Curriculum into the Classroom (C2C) - computer-based documents written to support the roll-out of the Australian Curriculum.

Cairns School of Distance Education Queensland Teachers' Union representative Mark Hollands said he was embarrassed by factual errors in the documents, the material assumed children had learnt concepts they hadn't, and it was too technical for parents.

Brisbane School of Distance Education agreed dozens of mistakes were made in their original package but said these were few overall and more explanations would be sent to parents soon.

Executive principal Neil McDonald said the package had a "95 per cent-plus rate of functionality on our first run".

Isolated Children's Parents' Association Queensland president Andrew Pegler said he acknowledged the hard work of curriculum writers to fix C2C problems but more resources were needed.

Far north Queensland mother-of-four Fiona Mitchell said children were in tears over the material, which they couldn't understand.

QTU president Kevin Bates said there were often problems in the beginning of any new curriculum roll-out.


Queensland flood inquiry warned of fake evidence

When bureaucratic laziness killed people, what else would one expect?

THE flood inquiry referred public officials to the Crime and Misconduct Commission last year after it was warned evidence would be covered up and fabricated, the Senate has been told.

Former chief engineer in charge of flood mitigation works in Queensland, Greg McMahon, told a Senate inquiry last month the commission had been warned of "the possibility that such actions by the water agency may occur, by reciting past and current actions by the ancestor organisations of the current water agencies".

The inquiry was alerted about "a deliberate lack of competence, used to serve another purpose such as confusing the inquiry about what happened" during the floods, the Senate heard.

But the CMC dismissed the warnings without seeking details from Mr McMahon, his submission alleges.

"The inquiry may be covering up that it and the CMC were given warnings and examples and current instances from an engineering specialist, and these bodies had ignored these warnings and disclosures," Mr McMahon wrote.

A spokesman for the inquiry said: "A submission provided by Mr McMahon made a number of allegations about Queensland Government public officials. The allegations were not about officers of the Commission of Inquiry. The commission did not inquire into the matter. The commission complied with its legislative obligations to refer the matter to the CMC."

The Senate was also told large parts of a published submission Mr McMahon made to the flood inquiry warning of a "systemic" culture of fear among civil servants, a lack of engineering expertise among managers and a section headed "perception of bias" were later removed.

The flood inquiry said it had published material included in Mr McMahon's submissions "in error ... when it in fact contained material that should have been redacted in line with the commission's usual practice".

"When this was identified in late August 2011, the material was redacted from the submissions and the submitter was advised," the spokesman said.

The Senate document also claims one of the inquiry's own experts asked for a copy of another unpublished submission by Mr McMahon, but was refused it.

Mr McMahon's submission warns of the prevalence of "purple engineering" - named after the colour of overalls worn by the Titanic's crew.


Companies must employ drunks?

That's Australian law, apparently

RAILCORP discriminated against a job applicant who had two convictions for drink-driving offences when it denied him a position as a market analyst, the Australian Human Rights Commission has found.

The man, known as Mr CG, had convictions for a middle-range drink-driving offence in 2001 and a low-range offence in 2008. When he applied for a position as a market analyst with RailCorp in 2009 he was told he was not offered the position because of his criminal record, despite having met all the selection criteria and being the selection panel's preferred candidate.

The Australian Human Rights Commission Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of a person's criminal record.

In a report tabled in Federal Parliament yesterday, Catherine Branson, the president of the commission, recommended RailCorp pay Mr CG $7500 in compensation for hurt, humiliation and distress. But RailCorp has refused to pay.

RailCorp accepts Mr CG was not offered employment because of his criminal record. But it disputes this constituted discrimination. It said his criminal record made him unable to perform the inherent requirements of the job.

RailCorp describes the inherent requirements as compliance with its drug and alcohol policy, upholding its safety-first values and performing the duties faithfully, diligently, carefully, honestly and with the exercise of skill and good judgment.

However, Ms Branson found Mr CG was not excluded from the job due to the inherent requirements of the job. He had worked for RailCorp for eight years in various roles, including an 18-month stint as a market analyst. There had been no suggestion he had behaved in a way inconsistent with the inherent requirement of the market analyst's position.

She found his offences had no connection with his employment and had not occurred in work hours. Driving was not part of his employment and he was not required to provide rail transport services in which safety was a critical concern.

"While the absence of a criminal record might be an inherent requirement of some positions with a limited class of employers, I am not satisfied that this position of market analyst is such a position," she wrote in the report.

While RailCorp did not accept the commission's findings on compensation, it has said it will review its recruitment procedures with a view to ensuring people were not inappropriately excluded from employment. The decision is reviewable under the Administrative Decisions Act.


Carbon emissions hit a new record

But at the same time temperature stops rising and has now been static for 15 years. So what's the worry? No answer to that below!

GREENHOUSE gases have risen to their highest level since modern humans evolved, and Australian temperatures are now about a degree warmer than they were a century ago, a major review by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology has found.

The national climate report, to be released today, said Australia's current climate "cannot be explained by natural variability alone" and that emissions resulting from human activity were playing an increasingly direct role in shaping temperatures.

Australian researchers were able to identify the "fingerprint" of the carbon dioxide particles in the atmosphere, by testing the isotopes in CO2 particles, and confirm that the increase came from fossil fuels burnt in power stations and cars.

"We saw a dip in carbon dioxide emissions during the global financial crisis, but that period is now over," said the chief executive of the CSIRO, Megan Clark. "Levels are now rising steadily again, in line with the trend."

The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached 390 parts per million in 2011, the highest level in 800,000 years.

The average day and night-time temperatures in Australia are now about a degree higher than they were a century ago, the State of the Climate 2012 report said.

"Multiple lines of evidence [such as?] show that global warming continues and that human activities are mainly responsible," it said.

The report gathered observations from thousands of experiments, mapping increases in air and water temperature and plotting rising sea levels.

Data gathered from gauges around the coast showed sea levels continuing to rise off Sydney and much of the NSW coast at a rate of about 5 millimetres per year, while some areas of the tropics, including Darwin, are seeing rises of up to 1 centimetre per year. Most of the rise is attributed to thermal expansion, or warmer water temperatures meaning that H20 molecules take up more space.

"The observed global-average mean sea-level rise since 1990 is near the high end of projections from the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report," the researchers found.

On average, global sea levels are about 21 centimetres higher today than they were in 1880, when reliable records began to be kept. The report also noted increases in heavy rainfall events across most of eastern Australia, but also more bushfires. The trend for Sydney is towards more monsoonal rains. "The Mediterranean weather we have become used to seems to be fading," Dr Clark said.

A CSIRO atmospheric scientist, Paul Fraser, said the world was now on track to pass the 400 parts per million level for CO2 emissions in under five years.

Researchers at an air monitoring station at Cape Grim in Tasmania have been testing the composition of carbon dioxide molecules. The measurements include a form of "carbon dating", where the amount of carbon-14 particles indicates the age of a particle.

"The only process you can come up with that fits the profile of the CO2 we measure is the combustion of fossil fuels," Dr Fraser said.

Observations at Cape Grim have been tracking the changing composition of the air for decades. Since 2000, fossil fuel emissions in CO2 samples have been increasing by about 3 per cent a year, but a decline of about 1.2 per cent a year took place as energy demand slackened during the financial crisis.

Growth in human-induced CO2 emissions has now rebounded back to about 5.9 per cent a year, the report said.


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