Friday, July 25, 2014

New Australian private university in Adelaide

As a peak body committed to expanding choice, equitable treatment of students and recognition of the contribution private providers make in the higher education sector, the Council of Private Higher Education (COPHE) congratulates Torrens University Australia, on its official opening today.

“Torrens is an excellent example of how opening the door to a wider range of provider types increases diversity and opportunity for Australian students,” COPHE CEO Adrian McComb said after attending the opening.  “An international corporation such as Laureate International Universities establishing a new university in Australia is a solid vote of confidence in our higher education sector.”

Laureate International Universities, operates the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS) in Sydney and Leura, and THINK Education - a group of eight colleges across the Eastern seaboard. What distinguish these and other niche institutions are impressive jobs-ready graduates, strong industry support and outstanding employment outcomes.

At BMIHMS campuses, which are focused on hospitality education, there is already evidence of the type of high quality global educational experience that Torrens is offering to its on-campus students in Adelaide and on-line cohort across Australia, the Asia-Pacific and further afield.  In 2011, Guy Bentley, Chief Executive Officer of the BMIHMS was presented with a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award at the Accommodation Association of Australia’s National Accommodation Industry Awards for Excellence.  This indicates the top quality that such providers can attain.

Torrens’ broad range of programs in the university environment can extend this experience to more students and build even more links with employers.

Most of the growth worldwide in higher education over the last decade was in private for-profit institutions. In the US, Laureate has been held up as a positive example of making educational opportunities available to all students.  Australian students can now benefit as Torrens draws input from a wide international network on how to best meet an individual's needs.

Although many of the partnerships established by our public universities in achieving their objectives are with for-profit entities, in areas such as pathways for overseas students, this is a significant step.  Just as Australians depend on the contribution of for-profit hospitals in our health system, over time, higher education could reach its potential in the same way.  Such private investment in higher education, especially as our government is encouraging the Australian higher education sector to aim to be one of the best in the world, is to be welcomed.

As we look to a more diverse range of higher education provider types which take us beyond the dominance of the research-intensive university model in Australia, it is appreciated that there are going to be challenging times for the existing institutions. Institutions, such as Torrens University Australia, help enhance equity, expand choice for students and deliver more diversity in types of institutions.  Students will ultimately be the beneficiaries.

Via email

Grappling with the truth behind the great Labor lie

Mark Latham

It’s the great Labor lie. A dazzling piece of sophistry designed to deflect from the true purpose of party reform.

It was reproduced in these pages on Monday when NSW Labor Secretary Jamie Clements argued against Senator John Faulkner’s proposals for democratising the selection of upper house candidates.

Clements insisted that ''more than 350,000 affiliated union members in NSW need to have some say in the selection of our candidates – we don’t want a white-collar-only upper house''.

He was supporting the present system of Labor preselection, the model that gave us Eddie Obeid, Tony Kelly and Ian Macdonald. It operates as a factional oligarchy, whereby right- and left-wing union secretaries control voting blocs at the State Party Conference, giving them the numbers to select upper house candidates (for the NSW Legislative Council and  Federal Senate).

In practice, the ''350,000 affiliated union members in NSW'' have no say in this process. A few of them go to State Conference as union delegates, but once there, they vote as a bloc under the instruction of union secretaries. Anyone displaying signs of independence is automatically black-balled from future conferences.

These highly-disciplined union numbers are the backbone of the party’s factional system. They put Mr Clements in his position and keep him there, as long as he doesn’t challenge the authority of the union secretaries. Clements has argued for the status quo not because it’s the best system for Labor, but because it’s the best system for union-sponsored powerbrokers like him.

The case for change is self-evident: during the term of the last state Labor government, the party’s union/factional hierarchy preselected and protected a group of corrupt Legislative Council members. It didn’t generate a blue- or white-collar upper house, it created striped-collar Labor representation – as in the collars worn by criminals.

How did this happen? By its nature, tight factional control gives powerbrokers the feeling they can get away with anything inside the party. Once in government, it’s only a small extra step to carry this ethos of invincibility into ministerial decision-making.

Having run the NSW Right, Obeid thought he could run the NSW government for private financial gain. In this project, he co-opted the assistance of the long-time secretary of the NSW Left, Macdonald – an example of cross-factional corruption.

Instead of arguing for the status quo, Clements and the union secretaries should be apologising for it. They should be repentant about the self-serving excesses of the factional model and acknowledge the need for democratisation.

The underlying weakness in their position is this: the only people in NSW who would think the existing system works well are Clements and the union secretaries. While they have the numbers to prevail in the short term, they lack the legitimacy and strength of argument to prop up their position indefinitely.

Yes, they have the power to hand-pick more Obeids and Macdonalds for the upper house, more union officials, more dopey apparatchiks, more yes-men and women, but that doesn’t make it right. Change will come eventually and when it does, history will pass harsh judgement on Clements and his fellow factional warlords.

Faulkner’s reform plan, to be put to State Conference this weekend, is to allow ALP branch members to select the party’s upper house tickets. Having given rank-and-file members a say in the selection of Labor’s federal and state leaders, why shouldn’t they be empowered to preselect upper house candidates? Why doesn’t Clements trust the True Believers who staff the polling booths, who keep their local branches alive, who fight so passionately for the cause of Labor?

Far from restricting rank-and-file union involvement, democratisation encourages it. It says to union members: don’t allow union secretaries doubling up as factional bosses to make all the big decisions. Join your local ALP branch and have a direct say in how the party is run: in picking federal and state leaders, in selecting Labor’s lower and upper house candidates.

This is what Faulkner is trying to achieve: Labor as a membership-based party, rather than a narrow factional-based clique.


Kissing cousins and a Beirut bonus: arranged marriage will be investigated over alleged fly-in welfare fraud

Muslims, if I mistake not

TWO first cousins in an arranged­ marriage are being investigated for immigration and Centrelink fraud and rorting the baby bonus by returning to Australia from Lebanon for the births of some of their seven children.

The woman, 33, told the Federal Circuit Court sitting in Parramatta her husband also had her return several times to Australia solely to update Centrelink­ details so she could continue to get social security.

The family was receiving Family Tax benefits that in the last financial year totalled $25,265.74, despite three of their children having lived in Lebanon since 2009, Judge Joe Harman said.

“On at least two occasions (the mother) returned to Australia for a brief period purely to allow the child then carried by (her) to be born in Australia and to then receive the baby bonus then operating,” the judge said.

The case was before the court because the Australian-born mother is applying for the return of her three eldest children, aged 12, 10 and nine, from Lebanon and custody of all seven children.

The others are aged seven, five, three and two. The eldest live with their father’s brother and paternal grandmother in a mountain village.

The now-estranged couple wed in Lebanon in 2001 two weeks after meeting in an ­arranged marriage. They ­returned to Australia and lived for a time with their relatives — the woman’s sister is married to the man’s brother.

There would appear to be, at least potentially, some anomaly as regards the eligibility requirements for citizenship at the time the application was made

The husband, 39, was ­granted citizenship in 2006 in circumstances which Judge Harman said troubled him since the couple had ­decided to live in Lebanon.

“It is concerning (the man’s) evidence is his citizenship was granted in 2006 at the very time when, consistent with his evidence, he had formed the desire and intention to live permanently in Lebanon and to return to Australia … solely for the purpose of earning a greater income than was available to him in Lebanon, and returning the funds to Lebanon,” the judge said.

“There would appear to be, at least potentially, some anomaly as regards the eligibility requirements for citizenship at the time the application was made ... (and) whether it was obtained on the basis of full, frank and candid disclosure or otherwise.”

He said he would refer the case to the Immigration and Human Services departments for investigation.

The woman, who alleged her husband was violent ­toward her, was met at the airport by the Australian Federal Police when the pair returned to Australia in March.

The judge refused the father permission to leave Australia and put him on the Airport Watch List until he has facilitated the return to Australia of the eldest children.


Must not criticize judges

Supreme Court of NSW Acting Justice Nicholas has made a finding that I am in contempt of court for the crime of journalism and also for making a complaint of criminal conduct about Justice Ian Harrison. I made the complaint via email to Chief Justice Bathurst, the then Attorney-General Greg Smith and Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus and others. According to Justice Nicholas’s judgement if you make a complaint about a crime you yourself could be committing a crime and in this matter I am guilty says Nicholas.

I have seen many dodgy judgements and plenty of judicial corruption but this one takes the cake for its absolute stupidity. I have written to Premier Mike Baird and the Attorney-General Hazzard and said:

“As all judges know given the 2004 High Court precedent of Coleman v Power no laws can stop people exercising their constitutionally protected rights to political communication. This is not just an attack on political communication but an attack of free speech as a whole.” 

The key part of the judgement is at section (1) (3) where it in effect says that I am in contempt of court because of: “an email to the Chief Justice of New South Wales and other persons.


Kerry Stokes sued me for defamation in April which is still afoot and went to court Ex parte (without my knowledge) and had Justice Harrison put a suppression order on it so I could not tell anyone that I was being sued. I wrote an email of complaint to the Chief Justice, A-G and police etc as it was very dodgy which I was right because the suppression order lasted only two days.

Justice Harrison said he put the suppression order on to protect my reputation. Stokes lawyers argued that a suppression order was needed because I had previously disobeyed an instruction by Stokes in 2011 not to publish a threatening letter from his lawyers. Either way a suppression order was not justified.

I also did a post on this site letting people know I was being sued and sent a tweet on Twitter on the same day but they are covered by Qualified Privilege (your right to political communication) as well. That is the crime of journalism so Stokes says. The email is clearly political communication as it is complaining about judicial corruption and was sent to the Chief Justice, Attorney-General, federal police and the Office of the legal Services Commissioner who investigate complaints against lawyers.

I took the action I did because it was clearly dodgy what was happening. Ex parte hearings (only one party is in court with the knowledge of the other party) are only meant to happen in extreme situations and suppression orders are pretty much the same. Stokes or his lawyers or the court has ever been able to justify what happened. So given I write about judicial corruption I thought it might be a set-up of some sort and I wanted people to know what was happening in case something went wrong and I never got another chance. In hindsight I did the right thing as I have no doubt that Justice Harrison would have corruptly extended the suppression order otherwise. Stokes’s barrister Sandy Dawson were arguing for the suppression order to be extended permanently.

Judgement of Acting Justice Nicholas

Justice Nicholas lied all over the place in the judgement and ignored the submissions I put forward in regards to Coleman v Power. For example he said at paragraph 15: “The defendant did not file and serve any evidence as directed, and adduced no admissible evidence at the hearing.” That’s a lie as I filed 2 affidavits but is doesn’t matter what evidence I filed as there was a clear precedent that supported my case and that was Colemen v Power. For a list of some of the dodgy things that Nicholas did during the hearing read my post from last week. (Click here to read)

Justice Nicholas knew what he was doing because he was one the barristers in the 2004 High Court precedent Lange v ABC which set what is known as the Lange test which in effect makes laws invalid if they are an unconstitutional restriction on political communication. It is one of the precedents that Coleman v Power relies on. A suppression order stopping me from sending an email complaining about the suppression order to the relevant authorities clearly is political communication and makes the suppression order invalid in that situation. The courts do not like this fact because they love their suppression orders to cover-up what they do.


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