Tuesday, June 30, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG sees the campaign for homosexual marriage as an offshoot of Marxism

Making Greenies pay their own way is "Blue blooded"?

New Matilda says so -- so who am I to argue?  I can see no logic in it however.  I think "Blue blooded" just seemed like a good term of abuse for them.  As good Leftists they of course think that government should fund everything.  The idea that Greens are just another political lobby who should pay their own way is incomprehensible to them.  A few excerpts from the usual long-winded ramble below

In December 2013, the Abbott government gutted the Australian Network of Environmental Defenders, cutting off all funding, including $10 million over four years despite the agreement being just six months in.

Much of it was effective immediately, and the eight EDOs around the country were told that beyond June 2014 the recurrent base-funding the organisations had received from federal governments for 18 years would be pulled.

The flow of federal funds to the EDOs was critical to their ability to perform their public interest role, but the Attorney General refuses to meet with them to discuss the cuts.

There had been no warning, no consultation, and despite recommendations from the Productivity Commission and a Senate Inquiry, there has been no back-down.

The government has made it clear it does not value the work that the 20 full-time legal staff and 17 non-legal support staff around the country do, or the function they serve our democracy.

Driving them out of the democratic contest over the environment will diminish citizens’ access to justice, the quality of environmental protections, and the scrutiny and awareness of the corporations whose operations have the potential to permanently damage our environment.

The Productivity Commission has noted that the work EDOs do - on law reform, on public education, in outreach and importantly, running cases for people who otherwise couldn’t afford them - is not being done by anyone else.

Environmental Defenders Offices are a recognised bulwark against corporate power over the biosphere. Implicit in that, Smith said, is the fact they “can’t apologise for being relevant and playing the role we do”.

“We are not a lobbying group, we’re not a campaign group. But the work we do - public interest environmental law - is, by nature, about being relevant,” he said.

“That means working in the areas which are often high-profile and highly contested.

“At the moment that is definitely in the area of coal mining and coal seam gas, but it wasn’t so long ago we were working almost reservedly in the area of, say, native vegetation reform.”

Earlier this year EDO Queensland brought a case which revealed that coal mining company Adani had provided decision makers with extremely high estimates of the taxes, royalties and jobs its mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin would create.

The company plans to build the biggest mine in Australia’s history, along with the world’s largest coal terminal, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. In August, a separate EDO case will examine its environmental record, which is scarred with breaches and negligence in its home state of India, and whether the Environment Minister should have taken the development's vast carbon emissions into account.

Despite the potential for huge environmental damage and dodgy calculations the state government, under Campbell Newman’s tenure, had been offering to help pay for critical and expensive rail infrastructure to ensure Adani’s mine (and nine others) went ahead.

Recent weeks have shown that the Abbott government - which George Brandis reiterated last week believes “coal is very good for humanity indeed” - is more than willing to extend the same favour through its $5 billion Northern Australia Investment Facility.

The case the EDO brought - through logic and proper application of environmentally law - directly challenged the legitimacy of the Galilee developments.

And yes, it potentially damaged proponents’ chances of approval and financial close.

The small community group the Queensland EDO represented could not have funded a five-week case involving nearly two dozen expert witnesses, but the new information it dragged into the public domain has added substantial weight to widespread community concern.

Facilitating communities’ use of the law is central to the EDOs function, which is largely why the Senate Inquiry Into the Abbott Government’s Attacks on the Environment this week found that “the long-term cost to communities and to the environment will far outweigh the short-term financial gains achieved by the defunding of the EDOs.”

To the EDO, access to justice for communities and the environment is a public good: “The dominant purpose is not to protect or vindicate a private right or interest, but to protect the environment.”


China FTA skills test waiver alarms racist union

Anti-Chinese paranoia from unionists again -- from the rogue and far left ETU  this time.  Unionists were behind the original white Australia policy. It looks like nothing has changed

Chinese tradesmen will be allowed to work here without undergoing the usual skills tests,-under a secretive "side" deal struck as part of the Australia-China free-trade agreement, unions have claimed.

The Electrical Trades Union said it would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to demand a reversal of the federal government's decision to forgo skills assessments for Chinese workers in 10 trades.

According to a letter outlining the deal, there will be no requirement for Chinese electricians, cabinetmakers, carpenters and mechanics to undergo mandatory skills assessment in order to qualify for a 457 visa.

Skills assessments are normally required to make sure a prospective migrant has qualifications and skills that match the Australian standard.

ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said waiving the requirement was dangerous.  "To allow electricians from a country with an appalling record on industrial safety – where more than 70,000 people a year die in workplace accidents – to practice without first assessing their skills or competency is negligent in the extreme," he said in a statement on Sunday.

"If we stop assessing the skills of overseas workers and just starting handing licences around, it's not a matter of if, but when, somebody is killed."

The China-Australia free-trade agreement was reached a fortnight ago. Mr Hicks said the skills assessment waiver was only revealed on Friday, when the government released a series of documents about the agreement.

A letter from Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb to Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng was dated June 17 and said other occupations currently requiring skills assessments will be reviewed within two years, with the aim of further reducing, or even eliminating, such requirements for all occupations within five years.


Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said the claims were the latest instalment of the xenophobic scare campaign being mounted by the union movement against the China FTA.

"The FTA does not, I repeat does not, change the skills and experience requirement that needs to be met by a skilled worker applying for a visa to work in Australia. Applicants will still be required to demonstrate to the Immigration Department that they possess the requisite skills and experience to work in this country.

"This includes evidence of qualifications, memberships of relevant bodies or associations, references, CVs, documents showing English language skills and so on," Mr Robb said.  "This brings China inline with countless other countries including the US, countries in the EU, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and so on."


Teachers will undergo national literacy and numeracy exams to test skills

TEACHERS will face a new national exam on literacy and numeracy from August, designed to stop universities from churning out graduates who struggle to spell and count.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne will today announce a pilot program to test the first 5000 teaching ­students.

But the first guinea pigs for the new test will be assured that they can still graduate — even if they fail.

The sample exam paper reveals a taste of what teachers can expect, including the style of questions that teachers will be asked on numeracy and ­literacy.

It includes problems designed to test teachers’ understanding of syntax, grammar and punctuation, with graduates asked to spot sentences without errors.

Teachers will also be offered a calculator to assist with some of the questions that ask graduates to determine the percentage of funding remaining in an education budget, and challenges graduates’ ability to calculate a student’s marks.

From next year, passing the test will be a requirement to graduate.

“I want to ensure we get this right,’’ Mr Pyne said. “For too long there have been public concerns about the variability in the quality of teaching graduates and in the effectiveness of existing ­programs in preparing new teachers.

“Testing key aspects of the personal literacy and numeracy skills of aspiring teachers will assist higher education providers, teacher employers and the general public to have absolute confidence in the skills of graduating teachers.’’

In one study, graduates at an unnamed Australian university struggled to spell a list of 20 words including ‘acquaintance’, ‘definite’, ‘exaggerate’, and ‘parallel’.

More than 200 students were tested with not a single teacher managing to spell every word right in a list of 20 words. One teacher struggled to spell more than one word correctly on the list.

Mr Pyne has also written to university vice-chancellors to stress that the new national exam must become core content for graduates from next year.

The test plan follows complaints universities are accepting students to teaching degrees with marks lower than 50 per cent for their Year 12 exams.

But Mr Pyne has insisted that ATAR scores are a “blunt instrument’’ that he doesn’t want to get too caught up on.

According to Department of Education statistics, universities offered 894 places to applicants with ATARs of 50 in 2014. The results were an improvement on the previous year.

The new trial will be available for any teaching student regardless of whether they are in first year or a graduating student.

The tests will be conducted by Australian Council for Educational Research.

Students in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin and the regional locations of Albury and Ballarat will be tested.

Mr Pyne said the trial of the first 5000 teachers is designed to ensure that the test is “fit for purpose”.

It will become a course requirement for all initial teacher education students graduating from Australian universities from the end of next year.

New measures will also be introduced to ensure that teachers are provided with greater training on how to teach literacy and numeracy including a focus on phonics.

The decision to introduce a national exam for new teachers was a recommendation of the Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers report.


Lever Action - the new DEMON GUN!

Many of you may have read or viewed disturbing media reports over the past week on how Victorian Police are “concerned” about a new “rapid fire” lever action shotgun about to be released for sale in Australia. As expected these reports have been followed by calls in the media and by various “experts” and officials for a rethink (read new gun grab) on Australian gun laws.

At Shooters Union we have been aware of a disturbing trend appearing over the past year. First a rumour here and a dropped word there from someone in a meeting. We were hesitant to bring it to our members because, to be honest, every single official that was approached denied there were any plans afoot to change legislation regarding certain types of firearms.

OOPS, now it appears these same people are coming out from their dark little corners because they think a modern lever action shotgun can be used to make the public fearful enough to push even more non-effective restrictions on you, the legitimate law-abiding firearm user.

In a nutshell, this is what we have been hearing over the past year or so:

Various state police officials in several states, have been working together with a shadowy group that operates under the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Office (Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group) on various firearm related issues and one that has been repeatedly raised has been the concept of heavily restricting “Manually Operated Rapid Fire Weapons” MORFW (surely only a government department could even imagine such a title).

MORFW’s include the following:

 *   All lever action firearms (rifle/shotgun)

 *  ALL pump rifles (pump action shotguns already heavily restricted)

 *  Straight pull bolt action rifles with detachable magazines
The basic proposal is that MORFW’s should be reclassified as Category C firearms, as is currently done for self loading rimfire rifles and shotguns and pump action shotguns. This means that 95% of shooters could not own or use them!

BUT, here is the good news. To accomplish this the Federal government would have to get ALL Australian state governments to agree to change their legislation.
This will be hard to do as most state governments have ZERO interest in changing these laws and going through all the massive political fight that will come with such proposals (I am hoping you are in the fight right alongside us).

So that is exactly why you are now seeing very carefully dropped articles in media across the country about the new “demon shotgun” that can fire so rapidly and is “deadly” (I guess other 12 gauge shotguns are not deadly??). The people pushing for these outrageous changes need a focus, something to try and gain some support and the lever action shotgun has been picked as the new poster child for “bad gun”.

Leaving aside the inherent idiocy of the whole “good” gun “bad” gun concept we live with in Australia, this new move against what amounts to probably 30-40% of all legally owned firearms is mind numbing.

As firearm owners we need to be united in opposing this concept totally, utterly and completely.

Some facts:

 *  Lever Action Shotguns have been around since the 1880s, and newmodels have been selling well in Australia for a number of years without problems.

 *  Lever action rifles are the second most popular action type in Australia and have been selling here since the 1870s.

 *  All firearms are safe in the right hands.

You can  write or talk to your local MPs and let them know your feelings on the issue. The only way these laws will get through is if you and your shooting friends say nothing and do nothing.


Australia Post cuts 1900 jobs after losing more than $1.5 BILLION in five years

Australia Post will cut 1900 jobs as the use of letters continues to sharply decline.

The company announced of Friday that its letters business had recorded losses of more than $1.5 billion over the past five years.

Australia Post managing director Ahmed Fahour said the letters business had recorded losses of nearly $500 million for this financial year.

'We have reached the tipping point that we have been warning about where, without reform, the business becomes unsustainable,' Mr Fahour said in a statement.

'We welcomed the Federal Government's decision to support reform so we can manage the mail service losses, meet the changing needs of our customers and continue to invest in growing parts of our business such as parcels and trusted services.'

The company is planning to offer 1900 voluntary redundancies over the next three years, the ABC reported.

Australia Post said it had established a fund to assist with employee retraining and redeployment – with $190 million set aside for voluntary redundancies.

'The significant and ongoing decline in physical mail volumes means there is less work in our mail service,' Mr Fahour said.

'We forecast in the next three years there will be a gradual reduction in jobs across the mail network because of this dramatic shift in consumer behaviour.

'I have made a commitment that there will be no forced redundancy of staff impacted directly by changes in our mail service and who are actively seeking jobs in other parts of the business.

'The provision will provide a safety net for employees who we know will choose not to transition with us and who may be legally entitled to a voluntary redundancy.'

Australia Post said ordinary mail volume decline accelerated to more than 10 per cent this financial year, the largest annual decline ever recorded.

The company added there would be no change to its five-day-per-week delivery service.


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