Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Australian Human Rights Commission (HRC) attacks businessman because he criticized a new tax

Australian Human Rights Commission (HRC) attacks businessman because he criticized a new tax

The whole convoluted story is here and here but it is rather hard to follow so I will summarize:

The head of department store chain Myer, Bernie Brookes, said a new levy to support the national disability scheme would be bad for business and bad for the workers.

Even the HRC couldn't see how they could brand that criticism as "discrimination" but they are deeply in love with "disability" so they had to stick their oar in.  So in response, disability commissioner Graeme Innes -- an employee of the HRC -- started a campaign against Myer and Mr Brookes, accusing Myer of not hiring enough disabled people.  They had no reply to what he said about the tax but they wanted to get at him so they picked on another issue in an attempt to embarrass him.

Brookes and Myer have asked for the HRC to disown the Innes  campaign but the HRC is not backing down.  It is pure abuse of bureaucratic power in furtherance of a political cause.

Myer have now  asked the political boss of the HRC to intervene but that won't happen.  They are just trying to put the HRC on the spot and neuter the Innes campaign as pure politics and they have done that. There is only so much that a business under attack from a predatory bureaucracy can do  -- particularly when that bureaucracy is the one entrusted with enforcing high standards of speech and behaviour!

The old bag who runs the HRC,  Gillian Triggs, (Pic below) should be ashamed of herself.  She may object to me calling her an old bag but if she is happy with the standards displayed by her organization, I am happy with my standards.

Fitness makes you happier, more productive (?)

The results below were probably a "Hawthorne effect" or placebo effect.  It was most likely the enthusiasm of the specialist teachers that enlivened the students, not better exercises.  Note the third-last paragraph below

Sports teachers have a previously unsung role in the academic development of children, researchers have found - a position at odds with the gradual disappearance of specialist physical education teachers across the country.

A multimillion-dollar study into the effect of physical education for primary school children has found aerobic fitness levels have a direct correlation with literacy and numeracy test results.

There's a clear relationship, the fittest schools are the ones which got the best results.

Eight years ago, Dick Telford, the first sports scientist at the Australian Institute of Sport and now an elite running coach and adjunct associate professor at the Australian National University medical school, embarked on the Lifestyle of our Kids (LOOK) study.

His team secured $3 million in funding from the Commonwealth Education Trust to begin the most comprehensive study of its kind in the world.

They looked at two things: the effect of physical activity and the value of having specialist physical education in primary school.

They tested more than 850 year 2 students at Canberra primary schools. The children underwent numerous tests, including full body scans, blood tests, lifestyle questionnaires and hand-eye co-ordination measures. The tests were repeated each year through to year 6.

In 13 schools, Dr Telford's team installed specialist physical education teachers, provided free of charge by the not-for-profit Bluearth Foundation, to take two 50-minute classes a week.

The other 16 schools were the control group, where physical education was provided by classroom teachers.

Along the way, Dr Telford made the decision to also look at NAPLAN scores as part of the research.

"I started to prick up my ears to a few comments from the teachers saying they thought the kids were starting to concentrate better in class … that triggered my idea of measuring the NAPLAN. When I measured and found there was statistical significance, real results between the two groups, I must admit that was a bit of a surprise.

"There's a clear relationship, the fittest schools are the ones which got the best results."

Controlling for socio-economic factors, they were able to predict the average NAPLAN results in a primary school just by knowing the average fitness level of the children.

The study has produced reams of data, and will revisit the now-adolescent children this year to test again, something researchers aim to do every decade to measure long-term effects of the early health indicators and physical education.

But Dr Telford feels there is already evidence to justify reintroducing specialist PE teachers, even before seeing the long-term results of instilling an early enjoyment of physical activity.

"The Bluearth teachers, because of their training, they were able to really engage all the kids in the class."

Funding is an issue, as PE teachers are seen as the most expendable, but Dr Telford says there are ways to improve the situation.

"The way to do it is to have a specialist PE teacher, accessible to the generalist primary school teachers, to continually motivate them and professionally develop them… that's a real workable option."


'Chameleon' Rudd disgraceful, Howard tells Libs

Former prime minister John Howard has re-emerged to kick-start Tony Abbott's election campaign, taking aim at Kevin Rudd over border protection and accusing him of "disgracefully" jeopardising Australia's relationship with Indonesia.

In the latest sign that asylum seeker policy will be a key election battleground, Mr Howard appeared at a presidential-style rally in Melbourne on Saturday to slam Mr Rudd as "the great chameleon of Australian politics" and warn voters he had little credibility when it came to dealing with boat arrivals. He lashed out at Labor's resurrected leader for dismantling the Pacific Solution, and then for flip-flopping on border protection by urging the ALP not to "lurch to the right" in 2010, only to say last week that it shouldn't "lurch to the left".

"That tells you a great deal about Kevin Rudd," Mr Howard said of the man who ousted him from government in 2007. "It tells you that when it comes to policy, he is the great policy chameleon of Australian politics. He doesn't have a firm position - he has a position that he thinks is the most responsive and effective to the question of the moment. And there is no doubt in my mind that the greatest single policy failure of this government has been failure on border protection."

The comments come a day after Mr Rudd stepped up his attack on the Coalition's "stop the boats" policy, warning the idea - to turn back boats of asylum seekers "when it is safe to do so" - could spark a diplomatic conflict with Indonesia, which has previously signalled it might not co-operate.

In a move that dramatically raised the stakes before the election - and sparked claims of overreaching - Mr Rudd even referenced the Konfrontasi, a 1960s conflict with Malaysia that at one point pitted Australian forces against Indonesia.

A clearly incensed Mr Howard accused Mr Rudd of being "irresponsible" and damaging the relationship he spent years building.

"What the current prime minister has done to that relationship over the last two days is absolutely disgraceful," he said. "The dead giveaway was the use of the word Konfrontasi. If he was only talking about diplomatic difficulty, he would have never used that word."

Mr Howard was given a rousing reception as he introduced Mr Abbott, officially marking the Opposition Leader's campaign launch in Victoria. While Victoria has traditionally been the Coalition's weakest link, it is widely tipped to pick up at least three marginal ALP seats at the poll: Deakin, Corangamite and La Trobe.

Speaking in front of 2000 supporters Mr Abbott said the election would be "the clearest choice in a generation", as he compared Labor's turmoil over the past three years with the stability of his own team.

Border protection, scrapping the carbon tax, restoring the nation's finances, reducing business red tape and building Melbourne's east-west link were key election priorities, he said.

And in a sign of confidence he said: "I absolutely hope that in four or five years' time, people will say, yes, that Tony Abbott did all sorts of things, but by god, he was an infrastructure prime minister."

Earlier, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey and deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop both ridiculed Labor's decision to return to Mr Rudd.

Mr Hockey said he had seen many versions of Mr Rudd over the years including a "Kokoda Kevin" - a reference to the pair's walk along the Kokoda Track in 2006. "I apologise to the Australian people - I should have drowned him when I had the chance," Mr Hockey joked.


Conservatives to deport most foreign criminals

The federal Coalition has said that if it was elected, foreigners would have their visas cancelled automatically if convicted of crimes punishable by more than a year's prison in Australia - regardless of the length of their actual sentence - with a view to deporting them. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said convicted refugees' cases would be considered on their circumstances but that they could be sent back to their countries or imprisoned indefinitely. No foreigner would have a right to appeal the decision to cancel their visas.

Most crimes carry a maximum sentence of more than one year's imprisonment.

Yet the Coalition's policy statement said: ''This rule will not apply to a limited number of crimes as defined by [the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification], including some minor public order offences or other miscellaneous offences.''

The body's miscellaneous offences include commercial, industry and financial regulation offences. Crimes against the Corporations Act that are punishable by more than a year range from administrative errors to more serious offences such as insider trading and publishing false accounts.

Criminal defence lawyer Paul Galbally said that directors and secretaries of companies, including small businesses, could be found guilty of such crimes.

Mr Galbally said that lower-level offences could also carry maximum punishments of more than a year. ''It's the public at large who are the shareholders and the public must have confidence in public companies and directors and the only way to ensure that is to ensure directors are abiding by their responsibilities,'' he said.

The policy distinguished between refugees and other foreigners in allowing white-collar criminals to stay in Australia.

A spokesman for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission declined to comment.

A spokesman for Mr Morrison has repeatedly refused to answer requests for more information on the exceptions to its rule.


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