Friday, April 17, 2015


Paul Zanetti

A couple of friends invited me to attend the Reclaim Australia rally at Bundall on the Gold Coast on Saturday morning. I didn’t know anything about the group except what I’d pre-read on social media. They say they want to send a message about Australian values and speak out against the rise of Islamic extremism.

Now, I have to admit I don’t see any evidence of Islamic extremism on the Gold Coast, but there’s plenty of evidence of it around the world, including incidents in Sydney and Melbourne, and 100 or more Australians who’ve decided to head off to fight for Islamic extremists.

The weekend Reclaim rallies were held in 16 locations around the country with several in regional Queensland centres, and Brisbane.

The kids and missus were off to Pacific Fair for some last minute Saturday morning Easter egg hunting, and well, to be frank, shopping malls and I don’t particularly get on. I blame it on the car parks, the acres of walking, and 'buyers remorse' a month later when the credit card bills hit the mail box.

What struck me when I arrived at the Bundall rally location around 10:30am were the numbers, which I estimated to be around 800 to 1,000. I looked around for the neo-nazis, fascists and white supremacists but I was a little disappointed to see it was majority mums and dads and kids looking like they had mistakenly turned up for an Olivia Newton John concert in the park.

The kids were lining up for a go on the humungous jumping castle, while their parents were setting up their fold-out chairs and rolling out picnic blankets. I was pretty sure I must have got the location wrong. This all seemed rather normal and civilised.

    Aren’t protests supposed to have screaming loonies, throwing marbles under police horses, while waving extreme placards in front of cameras?

I did note half a dozen or so bikie looking types (jeans, leather vests, tattoos, beards, shaved heads), and around 20 or 30 police, but they all seemed to get on together, chatting and walking among the crowd. No arrests or abuses. All good so far.

I made my way up to the front stage area, which again challenged my pre-conceived notions. The whole stage was adorned with more national flags than a United Nations convention. The largest flag of all was the aboriginal flag, which covered at least a third of the stage. Neighbouring the stage was a yummy variety of cultural foods, from home made dims sims to German sausages.

The MC took to the stage, welcoming all comers from every race and religion, even Muslims if there were any. He explained the purpose of the rally was to embrace Australian values of fairness, tolerance, free speech and equality; that Australia was a nation of inclusiveness, not exclusiveness.

Everybody was welcome to come to Australia, but that’s a two way street. All cultures irrespective of beliefs or religion must in return embrace the values of Australia. He then introduced a beautiful young nine year old girl of aboriginal heritage who sang the Australian national anthem in her Dharawal tribal tongue.

Golly, there just weren’t any signs of racists and bigots so far. But reading the reports the following day, there must have been, because social media activists said this was a neo nazi rally. The only violence anywhere stemmed from anti-rally protestors in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart who seemed to be determined to turn a peaceful rally into a violent shut-down of free speech.

The rally speakers were all well informed, researched and experienced. I was particularly transfixed by the three returned Australian servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan regaling shocking stories of the treatment of women and children at the hands of strict Islamic cultures.

A young village boy in Afghanistan would receive an horrific beating if his father learned he had accepted a chocolate from a coalition solider, or worse, shot at by a Taliban sympathiser if he or she happened to be too friendly to one of our Aussie soldiers. A young teen girl could be horribly punished if she simply waved back at friendly coalition troops while guarding the village.

Other speakers included a radio broadcaster, an author, an iconic Aussie cartoonist and an ex-female police officer who served at the Lakemba police station in Sydney, which was peppered with gunshots while she was working inside.

The stories were riveting and informative. But it wasn’t all serious, there was a variety of live musical entertainment including the singer of Redgum who wowed the gathered throng with the legendary hit, “I Was Only Nineteen”.

Well, there must have been two rallies on the Gold Coast because the family friendly event I attended exhibited all the best Australian values I’ve become accustomed to as an immigrant’s son – tolerance, inclusiveness, free speech and fairness.

Not a racist or a bigot in sight.


Get Them Young, Make Them Green

Education ministers do not seem troubled that a  green propaganda machine, Cool Australia, has garnered the support of thousands of teachers and schools, happily peddling slick scare campaigns and nudging students towards its militant allies and dark-green partners. If governments won't object, maybe parents should

Australian schools are handing over the  all-pervasive ‘sustainability’ syllabus to a militant green organisation, Cool Australia, whose curriculum material and projects have enjoyed a red-carpet ride into the state and private education systems, with accolades from the Australian Education Union and the Independent Education Union.

Much of Cool Australia’s program for schools is benign: recycle trash, don’t waste electricity, plant trees, embrace reconciliation. But the rest of the agenda tirelessly advances the supposedly impending global-warming catastrophe, plus, inevitably, preaching the evils of fossil fuels.

The impression of what some might see as brainwashing is enhanced by the featured endorsements of hard-line carbon-phobic groups like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and civil disobedience advocate/ex-NASA scientist James Hansen [1]. Beyond that, there are links to Bill McKibben, of the climate-zealot lobby group[2], and the Skeptical Science website, which devotes itself to pummelling ‘deniers’ while declining to publish their demurrals on its comments threads. Such groups’ videos are  offered to students to watch in their own time, leaving more time in class for ‘discussion’ of the messages.

The success of the Cool Australia in planting its deep-green message in the minds of school children suggests a growing and structural obstacle to any rational discussion of climate matters in the future, as green-indoctrinated voters emerge from the education system and join the ranks of voters. Sadly, while green-dyed propaganda becomes a fixture in the classroom, there is not much chance that, say, the coal-mining members of the Minerals Council of Australia or a Big Four bank lending for fossil fuel  projects, will be invited to contribute a measure of balance by providing curriculum modules that deviate from the green orthodoxy.

Cool Australia claims that 42% of Australia’s 10,000-odd schools had a teacher registered with it. From early childhood to Year 10, some 500,000 students were engaged, and 120,000 “learning activities” downloaded for their use. Roughly 20,000 teachers are signed on (that’s 1-in-15 nationally) and the number is growing at the rate of 1400 a month. Teacher sign-ups more than doubled in 2013-14. Targets for 2015 are “more than 50%” of Australian schools, 30,000 registered teachers, and 600,000 children from age 3 upwards (about 20% of all students). Penetration rates are about equal in the government, private and Catholic sectors.

One Cool Australia partner and donor is the magazine Dumbo Feather. Here’s inspiration, kids, from a current Dumbo article by Paul Yacoumis, an RMIT tutor (Environment Economics), Melbourne University tutor (“Reshaping Environments”) and acolyte of the university’s nutty Sustainable Society Institute:

“This year I will be further experimenting with self-sufficiency and minimising my participation in the corporate economy. I’m delving into urban foraging, trying my hand at dumpster diving[3] [getting food from rubbish skips] and cultivating a small garden in my front yard—although the food gods have not been especially kind so far… Fortunately for friends and family, I drew the line at hemp clothing.”

“In my darker moments, I’ve even found myself hoping for some kind of global cataclysm—at least then the human race may have the chance to start anew.”

“We can choose to allow the “evil” of social or ecological collapse to fall upon our future kin, or we can start to shift the power away from this unsustainable economic system that’s caused it and build a better one in its place.”

As Cool Australia founder Jason Kimberley puts it[4]: “We understand … that all information at Cool Australia must be science-based, never politically or ideologically driven.” Regard Cool Australia and its partners as a team, however, and more than a whiff of ideology does seem to be wafting  around the classroom. Indeed, the Cool Australia material quite specifically encourages students to become political activists. In its main textbook, We Are the Weather Makers, we read:

“Tim Flannery says that community leaders ‘need to hear your voice’. Write a letter to a public figure or other influential member of the community [code for local member, TT] explaining your concerns about global warming and climate change.”[5]

Cool Australia’s long march into schools begins with three-year-olds in "early learning centres", what previous generations knew as day-care and kindergartens, where “our youngest learners" are "a long term investment in shaping our future”.[6] Make no mistake, activism is the end-goal. “Information and awareness are critical, but it’s more important to build young people’s skills and capacity to innovate and implement these solutions…" and this as well, "we educate and engage future generations in the critical thinking required for them to become the revolutionaries we need to tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century.”[7]

Despite its pleas for reduced consumerism, Cool Australia is, ironically, the brainchild of the Kimberley family, once the proprietors of the Just Jeans chain.  Craig Kimberley, who netted $64m from his group's sale  in 2001, is a director, and his son, Jason, is founder and CEO. Consumerism is bad, apparently, once you have sold your chain of stores devoted to consumerism.

Jason Kimberley endlessly recycles the story of his ‘eco-epiphany’, which happened during a 2005 visit to Antarctica. He returned an ardent eco-warrior. While he may not yet have noticed that Antarctic sea-ice  is at record levels for the satellite era, school principals love his shtick.

Kimberley claims to have spoken personally with 50,000 students, at the impressive rate of 10,000 a year. The people running Armadale Primary School in Melbourne were so impressed that, in August, 2013, they declared Jason “Principal for a Day”, with an address to the school assembly thrown in.

The Australian Education Union’s (former) National President, Angelo Gavrielatos, puts the case:

“I don’t know if the Cool Australia team fully understands what they are achieving… an incredible achievement in just six years. Only UNICEF has a greater schools penetration, and they had a 50-year head start… You are, quite seriously, the good guys in education.”

Cool Australia last year partnered with the AEU and Independent Teachers’ Union (ITU) on the “AEU/IEU Greens Conference”, featuring such activists as the global warming scholar Rod Quantock (B.Arch, Melbourne University [failed]), the comedian whose more recent laughter-generating moments are quite unintentional. The AEU called it “Greens Conference”; Cool Australia called it “Green Schools Conference”. Perhaps they’re both right.

Jason  Kimberley has scruples. According to one account, he “delights in reports from teachers of younger children who say their students see the Cool Australia learning activities more like games than serious learning. But he’s less inclined to talk global warming with his own kids: Florence, 8, Cooper, 6 and Olive, 3. ‘I don’t want to shove the environmental stuff down their throats.’ he says.”

Other wealthy backers of Cool Australia include:

Ex-Wotif tycoon and Greens Party mega-funder Graeme Wood, worth around $350m.

Aged-care tycoon Robert Purves,  WWF  president,  former board member of WWF International and Governor of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.  Purves’ foundation has distributed more than $10 million to environment, climate-change and activist causes.

A major donor (possibly THE major donor) to Cool Australia since 2012 has been Bendigo Bank, whose Bendigo Wealth executive John Billington is on the Cool Australia board and endorsed a three-year sponsoring deal in 2014.   In a cosy double-deal, Bendigo says, “Cool Australia will deliver the Bendigo Wealth brand to thousands of teachers, children and their families.”

And Cool Australia’s report re-pays the praise with interest: “[Bendigo Bank] have a conscience and a heartbeat. They are far bigger than a bank.”[8] To suggest the scale of things, bear in mind that Cool Australia’s and Bendigo Bank’s national Enviroweek in 2013 involved 1200 schools and 162,000 students who adopted 500,000 “challenges”.[9]

Here’s how Bendigo Bank gets a free kick against the Big Four:

Cool Australia strongly endorses the Australian Youth Climate Coalition's (AYCC) juvenile activists, who battle for Gaia by jumping around in  fish costumes at Lend Lease annual meetings, to name but one of their stunts, while denouncing coal financing.

AYCC boasts that it “can provide speakers and group facilitators to schools around the country. The AYCC draws on the significant experience of many of its member groups, as well as its own ‘Climate Messenger’ program to deliver excellent presentations concerning a broad range of issues surrounding climate change. To find out more visit or call (02) 9247 7934.”[10]

A current AYCC campaign is Dump Your Bank. “Could your bank use your money to fund the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and our climate?” it asks, going on to urge readers to “Take the Pledge. ‘I pledge to dump my bank  because they’ve refused to rule out funding coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef’." AYCC has made a slick little video, featuring photogenic moppets, that specifically targets the Commonwealth, a Bendigo Bank competitor, for allegedly financing the Great Barrier Reef's destruction.


Julie Bishop to lobby to return failed asylum seekers to Iran

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop will lobby Iran to take back hundreds of failed asylum seekers held in Australian immigration detention when she makes a rare visit to Tehran next week.

Iran has so far refused to accept any forced return from Australia of thousands of Iranians who arrived by boat during the Rudd and Gillard years and have been denied refugee protection.

Winning agreement with Iran to deport failed asylum seekers is seen as a potential breakthrough for the government to relieve the strife-prone Manus Island detention centre, where many Iranians are held.

But the Greens warn people forced to return to Iran could be in danger and have called for the government to explain any potential arrangement with Tehran.

More than 20 per cent of people held in mainland immigration detention centres are from Iran.

There are also almost 7000 Iranians who arrived by boat living on bridging visas in the Australian community, according to figures provided on Friday by the Immigration department. Most have yet to have their refugee claim assessed - but 228 have been refused and 37 determined "not to engage Australia's protection obligations".

A diplomatic source confirmed the question of returning failed asylum seekers has been an ongoing discussion between Ms Bishop and her Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif.

"One of the biggest challenges that we are facing with failed asylum seekers is those refusing to return home," the source said.

Ms Bishop will travel to Tehran amid a diplomatic frenzy over the latest progress in nuclear talks with major world powers.

US President Barack Obama has made a nuclear deal the centrepiece of US foreign policy, saying it offers Iran a chance of "rejoining with the international community", but the talks are viewed warily across the Middle East.

Iran is also a crucial player in neighbouring Iraq and the fight against Islamic State, where Australian troops are being deployed.

But Australia's pressing concern with Iran is the fate of thousands of Iranians who claimed asylum after paying people smugglers to travel by boat from Indonesia.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr had controversially branded Iranians as economic migrants who were not facing persecution but were seeking to escape the squeeze of international sanctions.

Many Iranians had flown directly to Indonesia to be granted a visa on arrival until 2013, before travelling by boat to Australia.

Mr Carr told Fairfax Media this week returning failed asylum seekers to Iran would be "desirable" and it could be that the opening to the West following the nuclear deal has made an agreement possible.

Australia's effort to stop boats carrying asylum seekers already extends to arrangements with Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

Official figures released this week reveal 177 people on Manus Island have had their refugee claim refused.

As of February, almost 1300  Iranians were being held in immigration centres and community detention in Australia.

Approximately 430 Iranian asylum seekers have agreed to return home since August 2012, with cash assistance from Australia and help from the International Organisation for Migration.

An Immigration department spokesman said involuntary removals from Australia can be conducted to Iran provided a person has valid Iranian travel documents.  But it is understood new documents have not been issued for those without.


When thieves fall out...

Leftist union says it's OK for firemen to watch porn at work.  Even the Leftist Victorian government disagrees

AN EXPLOSIVE confrontation between Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett and the United Firefighters’ Union helped trigger the union’s war with the Andrews Government.

Up until then, according to an explosive 17-page document sent to Labor MPs by UFU secretary­ Peter Marshall, the union had been in a cosy relationship with the government, expecting a litany of favours to be brought in.  The extent of the union’s support for Labor was well documented, including:

23 days of firefighters door­knocking in strategic seats;

40,000 one-on-one conversations with the public;

125,000 pamphlets handed out at train stations;

700 firefighters standing outside 109 polling booths in nine marginal electorates asking the public to put the Liberals last.

In an email to Labor MPs, Mr Marshall says “internal polling conservatively estimated a 4.5 per cent swing in seats where there was a firefighter presence — and up to seven per cent in some marginal seats”.

It says firefighters and ambulance officers had been “credited by commentators across the political spectrum with the success and unexpected extent of the swing to Labor”.

The UFU document goes on to describe a dispute over the Government’s failure to force the MFB to use an employee code of conduct outlined in the 2010 EBA, instead of processes currently used under the MFB Act.

It describes a meeting on March 31 in which Ms Garrett was “agitated and yelling” at a UFU staff member after she was asked to intervene in a disciplinary case involving alleged pornographic emails.

“The Minister indicated that she was extremely concerned that she was being asked to intervene in a specific case and that the case involved pornographic emails,” it says.  “The Minister was agitated and was yelling at (UFU staff member).”

The 17-page diatribe, described sarcastically by some within Labor as a “manifesto”, said the Government then “abandoned the UFU” by refusing to intervene in a disciplinary process for a person accused of sending pornographic and discriminatory material in emails.

It says the UFU did not “condone inappropriate behaviour” but that it insisted a deal it made with the government over the code of conduct should be honoured.

It says the UFU took offence­ to the suggestion that the union had put Ms Garrett “in a difficult position”.  “All the UFU was asking for (was) the agreement made with the Andrews Government (be) honoured,” the document says.


Dr Karl’s intergenerational income sorted by the taxpayer

So far the kerfuffle about Dr Karl’s publicity campaign for the Intergenerational Report has delivered two discernible public benefits.  It has demonstrated that governments — by and large — cannot be trusted to spend our money sensibly and effectively.  And it has helped to look after the intergenerational financial needs of Dr Karl.

The IGR is a document designed to crystallise the economic challenges facing the nation — to demonstrate how we are spending more than we are earning and how, with the ageing demographic of our population of 23 million, the ledger will get even worse unless we reform.

As such the report encapsulates the fundamental challenge facing the Abbott government — the need to convince the electorate about the need for difficult reform in order to secure our future.

After a year and a half of making a mess of most of their political advocacy tasks the government decided to outsource the communications task for the IGR, using more of our scarce tax dollars.

And in a classic case of how governments never spend other people’s money as wisely as individuals and the private sector spend theirs, the multi-million dollar campaign (we don’t know the exact cost) was fronted by a trenchant government critic.

It seemed ridiculous form the start to have a person who is clearly antipathetic to the Coalition and virtually all it stands for spruiking a crucial government message.

Think about it. Where would you go if you needed to find visceral anti-Coalition voices?  Your safest bet, perhaps even ahead of trades hall, would always be the ABC or a university.

So the government went with a bloke who earns his living spruiking his views at both Sydney University and the ABC’s Triple J youth network.

Now, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki has become a prominent critic of the very report the government has paid our tax dollars for him to promote.

He has told the ABC that it is “flawed” and that he “should have insisted there be climate change” in it.

What an own goal.  This is the equivalent of Meat and Livestock Australia dumping Sam Kekovich from its lamb commercials and replacing him with Gwyneth Paltrow.

If that doesn’t tell you something about the intergenerational challenge of governments constantly wasting our taxes in counterproductive ways, nothing will.

A kind of perpetually-teenaged version of Professor Julius Sumner-Miller, Dr Karl helps to popularise science.

But he always has an ear to the Green Left trends of his audience; he even ran on a climate change ticket for the NSW Senate in 2007.

You can see how an advertising agency would have recommended him — trustworthy on science and hip with the social media crowd, they would have said — but the government should have known better and gone with someone with credibility on economics and disconnected from political grandstanding.

Putting an ABC leftie on a stage in what looks suspiciously like a pyjama top is not a way to suddenly win over the Green Left and youth vote with your economically rational arguments — it is a way to waste taxpayers’ money chasing popularity with a crowd who will never vote for you, and miss your opportunity to make an important point.

Better to save taxpayers the cost of the campaign and just spruik the importance of the report yourselves — you know, like politicians used to do, by advocating and prosecuting arguments.

As for Dr Karl, for a bloke who prides himself on evidence-based science he has demonstrated an alarming lack of diligence.

He admits to not reading all of the report before agreeing to promote it.

It was only after filming his spots that he decided it didn’t have enough pages on climate change.

(Although how climate change is going to help repay government debt, he doesn’t say — at the moment renewable energy targets, solar subsidies, carbon tax compensation and billions of dollars of mothballed desalination plants have only hurt state and federal budgets.)

So why would a popular science communicator spruik something he hadn’t read and subsequently doesn’t fully support?

Fairfax Media published an answer last month: “He agreed to do it to support long-term policy making and because he gets paid ‘bugger all’ by his employers, the ABC and the University of Sydney, he said.”

We don’t know how much he was paid but trust it has enabled taxpayers to help secure his retirement plans.

That would be one intergenerational income sorted, just 22,999,999 to go.


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