Thursday, August 29, 2013

Push to end expulsion of homosexual students from private schools

Seems a pity that there can be no refuge from them

Controversial laws that allow private schools to expel students because they are gay could be abolished if the two main parties are allowed a conscience vote on the issue, the MP seeking to overturn the laws says.

Under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, it is unlawful for public schools and educational institutions to discriminate against or expel students on the basis of homosexuality, transgender status and other traits, but private schools and colleges are explicitly exempt from these provisions.

Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich will introduce the private member's bill to the NSW Parliament on Wednesday to remove the exemptions, and said he hoped a conscience vote would be granted if the two main parties did not back the bill outright. "I have spoken to a number of government members and opposition members who are keen on it," he said.

Though few, if any, cases of students actually being expelled under the laws are known, students at religious schools say their complaints about homophobic bullying are sometimes ignored by staff and have been told they should convert to heterosexuality, according to a recent senate submission by Dr Tiffany Jones from the University of New England's School of Education

Mr Greenwich said schoolchildren should be free from harassment and discrimination.

"Students suffering from bullying by their peers because of their [lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or intersex] status are less likely to report the matter to teachers if they know they could be expelled," he wrote in a discussion paper on the issue.

"A school that can by law discriminate is less likely to have processes in place to deal with this type of bullying if it is reported."

Both the Coalition and Labor said they would examine the details of the bill before taking a position.

Labor's education spokeswoman, Carmel Tebbutt, said she had '"sympathy" for what Mr Greenwich was trying to achieve.

"I respect the religious beliefs of faith-based schools, however, it is important that all students are treated fairly and are not subject to discrimination," she said.

But several authorities representing private and religious schools have already voiced opposition to removing the exemptions.

Ian Baker, then-acting executive director of the NSW Catholic Education Commission, told Fairfax Media in July that the fact that so few, if any, cases of students being expelled were widely known was testament to the fact schools tended to treat such students with sensitivity.

"It speaks for itself,’’ he said at the time. "It’s exercised with great caution and consideration. The objective is not to punish, but to protect the rights of those families who send their child to a school based on a religious faith.’’

The executive director of the Association for Independent Schools NSW, Geoff Newcombe, also defended the right of schools to decide who they enrolled, provided they were operating within the law.

Greens MP John Kaye said his party strongly supported Mr Greenwich’s move and pointed out private schools received significant government funding: "The least they could do is obey the common standards that apply to the rest of society.’’


ICAC report puts NSW Labor in spotlight

LABOR'S corruption woes in NSW will enter the election campaign with the release of an ICAC report on Friday.

But Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten says it won't detract from Labor's campaign for re-election on September 7.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will on Friday hand down its second set of findings about the granting of controversial mining licences by disgraced former state Labor minister Ian Macdonald.

Two senior federal MPs, NSW senator Doug Cameron and former federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, were called to give evidence during the inquiry, which probed a coal exploration licence granted by Mr Macdonald to a company run by ex-union boss John Maitland and other businessmen.

A separate ICAC report handed down in July already recommended prosecutors look at laying criminal charges against Mr Macdonald and former Labor minister Eddie Obeid, who were found by the ICAC to have acted corruptly in relation to a coal tenement at Mount Penny.

Federal ministers Stephen Conroy and Tony Burke were mentioned at the hearings as having enjoyed the hospitality of Mr Obeid at his Perisher Valley ski lodge.

The corruption issue is expected to damage Labor in key western Sydney marginal seats.

Mr Shorten told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday the ALP had "zero tolerance" for corruption.

"In terms of ICAC what has happened with those couple of Labor MPs is shocking, it's ridiculous, it's a betrayal of trust," the minister said.

"I don't think it reflects the Labor cause and the Labor message in this election."

He said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had acted to clean up the NSW ALP and voters could now have confidence in it.

ICAC's Operation Acacia investigated the awarding of the Doyles Creek exploration licence as a closed tender to Mr Maitland - a former mining union boss and political ally of Mr Macdonald - and others for a "training mine" in December 2008.

Mr Maitland allegedly received a financial windfall when the licence was sold to NuCoal in 2010.


Get ready for Leftist hysteria if Abbott wins the election

THERE is a reason so many in Hollywood gravitate towards the political Left. Both groups trade in emotion rather than reason and prefer hyperbole over facts.

Hence, anyone who has seen the latest Hollywood blockbuster - Elysium - could be forgiven for thinking it was directed by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young with the screenplay by John Pilger and financed by GetUp! Adam Bandt or Scott Ludlam would surely have taken Matt Damon's place as the planet-saving protagonist for a fraction of Damon's exorbitant fee. And surely Bob Brown and Tim Flannery were extras weaving this torrid tale of man's inhumanity to planet Earth where the greedy evil rich refuse to allow desperate economic migrants to live on their utopian planet. No doubt, an Academy award awaits those responsible for two hours of empty-headed politics at its left-wing worst.

The illogical, over-emoting mindset is best left to the movies where we expect and even enjoy the suspension of reality. But when this mindset morphs into vandalism on Australian streets, it's time for a reality check.

On Saturday, Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg arrived at his Kooyong electoral office in Melbourne to find graffiti emblazoned across the glass front. In white paint, a vandal had written "Racist pollies will not be settled".

Of all people, Frydenberg understands the evils of racism. In his 2010 maiden speech, he recounted the experience of his maternal grandparents and their young daughters, including his mother, "who were interned in the Budapest ghetto by the Hungarian fascists. They survived and eventually made their way through displaced persons camps to Australia". The first Jewish Liberal MP in the House of Representatives represents the proud history of a country that has settled millions of migrants.

Alas, that graffiti is a harbinger of the illogical hysteria that will re-emerge if the Coalition wins office on September 7. If Tony Abbott becomes prime minister, he has promised to stop the boats. This will drive sections of the Left to pursue the politics of inflated sanctimony with extra zeal. The Opposition Leader should ignore them as politely as John Howard did.

As hard as they tried, members of the Left couldn't muster the same outrage when the Gillard and Rudd governments belatedly reintroduced offshore processing. Not even Rudd's PNG Solution raised their ire to earlier levels. The reason was simple. Rudd and Gillard's policies were driven by polls, not convictions. The Left, like the people-smugglers, counted on another policy shift like the eight Labor endorsed since 2007.

No wonder the Left hated Howard: he introduced the Pacific Solution, re-established an orderly immigration policy, stopped the boats and won four elections.

The Left was incensed by a conviction politician and ramped up its sanctimony, outrage and specious arguments.

Labor MPs and Greens senators emoted about cruel Coalition policies that lacked compassion.

Hannie Rayson penned The Two Brothers, a play whose wicked main character is based on ex-immigration minister Philip Ruddock. As Keith Windschuttle recalled, in packed theatres in Sydney and Melbourne a mention on stage of Philip Adams scored a predictable cheer while a reference to Alan Jones earned a predictable groan. David Marr wrote tomes about the evil Howard era and filled ABC airwaves with claims that Australians "feared" refugees. Never mind that having a concern about people-smugglers dictating immigration policy has nothing to do with fearing refugees. Naturally, time-rich academics joined in the hatefest, writing about "xenophobic racism and class during the Howard years" where "the Howard government used racism to sustain its popularity".

Shelves in trendy bookstores heaved under the weight of leftwing indignation about Howard and Australia, understanding neither the history, nor the facts of our immigration policy.

Those facts deserve to be repeated every time the Left vents its hysteria. Australians have supported increased immigration when the government of the day manages an orderly immigration program and when it serves the interests of Australia. Howard understood what my colleague Paul Kelly has called Australia's most powerful political compact.

The compact that began with the Chifley government in 1945 when increased immigration became a reality and a necessity and has been maintained by every prime minister until Rudd in 2008.

As Prime Minister, Rudd bowed to those on the sanctimonious Left and dismantled the Pacific Solution. Labor MP after Labor MP rose to announce that move as a proud day when injustice towards refugees was removed from the Australian polity.

What followed should haunt the ALP. Canny people-smugglers filled thousands of boats with more than 40,000 asylum-seekers and more than 1000 people died at sea delivering us the biggest policy failure this nation has seen.

The Left will never acknowledge that reality. Just as they will never tell us that Gough Whitlam said: "I'm not having hundreds of f ... king Vietnamese Balts coming into this country with their political and religious hatreds." Or that Bob Hawke in 1990 said: "Do not let any people think that all they've got to do is break the rules, jump the queue, lob here and Bob's your uncle. Bob is not your uncle on this issue. We're not going to allow people to jump that queue." Or that Paul Keating introduced mandatory detention in 1992.

The Left deliberately ignores the success behind this compact between the Australian people and the government of the day. As Kelly wrote in The March of Patriots, from the 1940s Australia accepted about seven million migrants, the highest per capita outside of Israel. By the time Howard left office, one in four Australians were born overseas, confirming Australia's success as a migrant nation.

True to form, in the wake of the graffiti attack, Frydenberg said he understood there are deep differences of opinion about immigration but those differences "should be settled at the ballot box not through acts of vandalism".

Predictably, some people prefer the latter. Even more predictable is the left-wing hysteria and hypocrisy that will greet Abbott if he becomes prime minister.


NSW minister wants hunters back ASAP

NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson plans to bring volunteer hunters back to state forests as quickly as possible.

She told parliamentary question time on Tuesday that volunteer hunting in all 400 state forests was still on hold, pending the outcome of a risk assessment.

But she wants to return to business as usual as soon as possible.

"It is our intention to restore volunteer hunting in state forests to control feral animals as quickly as possible, and in a manner that's as similar as possible to previous procedures," Ms Hodgkinson said.

She told parliament an eight-member game and pest management advisory board would be set up to represent hunters' interests, direct research and advise government.

The establishment of the board was among the recommendations of a scathing review of the NSW Game Council by public servant Steve Dunn.

In response to the review, the council was scrapped and its staff are being transferred to the Department of Primary Industries.

Meanwhile, the functions previously carried out by the Game Council are being transferred to the Director-General of the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services, which will be the new regulatory authority in line with the Dunn review recommendations, Ms Hodgkinson said on Tuesday.

A trial of hunting in 12 national parks is set to begin in October under the direction of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.


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