Monday, October 05, 2015

Queensland’s population growth rate a far cry from glory years

The original headline above is unduly sensationalist. According to the ABS, the Qld growth rate is only a touch lower than the national growth rate.  But it is still of interest that Qld has ceased to be fast growing.  All the usual cliches about Qld have been trotted out to explain it but  I think the main reason is obvious.  Qld house prices were once MUCH lower than Sydney or Melbourne.  But they are now only a touch lower: Not enough to give an economic justification for moving into the sunshine

QUEENSLAND was once Australia’s population growth capital, attracting droves of out-of-towners to its enviable beaches, cheap housing and bountiful job opportunities.

But it seems the sun has set on those golden years.

Population growth is taking a nosedive in Queensland, with fewer people moving in as others move out. So much so, the state government has been forced to consider how to bring interstate and overseas migrants back, according to The Australian.

According to new Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Queensland’s population grew at only 1.3 per cent in the year ending March 31, lower than the national growth rate of 1.4 per cent.

Victoria has now claimed Queensland’s former title as Australia’s growth rate hotspot, at 1.7 per cent.

While some people are still moving interstate to Queensland, the volume is nowhere near what it used to be. Numbers of interstate migrants have plummeted from about 50,000 a year in the mid-2000s to just 6200 in the year to March.

There was also a 35 per cent decrease on the previous year in the number of overseas migrants choosing Queensland as their new home.

It’s a mounting trend, as Queensland’s population growth rate has been sluggish for the past few years.


Toasting liberties instead of taking them

ALL politics is local and for Australia, that means putting our nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea front and centre. Except we don’t. This year we will give the 40-year-old ­nation $554.5 million in aid which is supposedly linked to three objectives — the first of which is effective governance and the rule of law.

Yet the Department of Foreign Affairs, which manages $477.3 million of that aid budget, has turned a blind eye to a blatant breach of governance affecting the administration of justice and the rule of law.

Four weeks ago, on September 8, two Australian-based lawyers representing the PNG National Fraud & Anti-Corruption Directorate (NFACD) were secretly banned from ­entering the country. PNG Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura directed all international airlines and border posts not to permit barrister Greg Egan and junior counsel Terence Lambert from travelling to PNG without telling either man.

He warned the airlines that in no circumstances would Egan and Lambert be permitted to enter PNG and penalties would be applied to carriers which failed to comply.

While PNG has refused to give any reason for the ban, it would be apparent to the ordinary person that Egan and Lambert have been targeted by the PNG government because they were briefed by local law firm Jema Lawyer to act for the director of the NFACD ­Mathew Damaru and his deputy Timothy Gitua in a number of serious cases relating to an arrest warrant sworn against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Egan, who has been practising law in PNG since 1988, also acts for Task Force Sweep chairman Sam Koim whose challenge of O’Neill’s decision to disband the Anti-Corruption Agency in June, 2014 was adjourned on Tuesday after being listed for trial. O’Neill lost his court bid to prevent Egan representing the NFACD directors.

With no reasons for the ban, lawyers acting for the two Australians have sought a judicial review next week.

They say the ban was ordered to prevent Egan and Lambert in cases against O’Neill, that it doesn’t comply with the Migration Act and therefore has no legal force, that it goes ­beyond the power of the chief migration officer and is a ­denial of natural justice. Finally, the lawyers say the decision meets the test for the “Wednesbury principle of ­unreasonableness” which holds that a decision is so ­unreasonable or outrageous it defies logic or accepted moral standards such that no reasonable or sensible person who considered the matter could have accepted it.

The ban follows an SBS Lateline expose which made serious allegations about corruption in PNG and a money laundering trail.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said they took the allegations seriously and promised investigations — yet no action appears to have been taken.

PNG Law Society president Peter Kuman expressed grave concerns at the reports of the travel ban, saying the society “views their ban as a ­violation of the rule of law in the country”.

Australian Bar Association president Patrick O’Sullivan, QC, said this “was deeply disturbing’’. “Every citizen of PNG is entitled to legal representation and in particular, is entitled to choose who represents his or her interests.

“Foreign counsel play an important part in the administration of justice in PNG and lawyers must be allowed to practise without intimidation or hindrance. This includes the right of entry into the country.

‘‘Interfering with the impartial administration of justice will only serve to jeopardise the rule of law in PNG.’’

DFAT has been monitoring the situation but so far appears to have taken a hopey-wishy position. It has not made any official representation to the PNG government, despite the millions we give PNG.

Compare this lack of action, let alone remonstration, with the outpourings of support in the past for convicted drug smugglers imprisoned abroad.

Foreign Minister Julie ­Bishop is a lawyer. Give her a brief and away she will go but when torn between standing up for the rule of law in our region and maintaining diplomatic relations with a government which has question marks hanging over it, she has opted to ignore extremely serious concerns rather than convey the very real anxiety that exists about actions of the PNG government and PM O’Neill.

Rather than swan around the international cocktail circuit playing footsie with UN fat cats, ­Bishop needs to be brought back to earth and reminded that her responsibilities are to Australians in the here and now, not in the fantasy world of New York’s Turtle Bay.


Extremist Muslim group to hold workshops at Deakin University

An extremist Muslim group are holding workshops at Melbourne’s Deakin University this weekend based on the teachings of Islamic scholars who have recommended the death penalty for homosexuals and apostates, promoted terrorism and preached hatred of Jews and Christians and violence against women.

The Islamic Research and Educational Academy, which earlier this year held a conference at which children as young as five were encouraged to dress up as radical clerics and read controversial sermons and passages from the Koran, has sent text messages to supporters advertising the da’wah workshops as being based on the teachings of “legendary” scholars Zakir Naik and Ahmed Deedat.

Dubbed “The Art of Da’wah” and hosted by the ultraconservative Salafist organisation’s president Waseem Razvi, the workshops, to be held at Deakin’s Burwood campus, promise to use the teachings of Dr Naik and Sheik Deedat to help attendees “learn the art and gain the confidence to talk about Islam to anyone, anywhere and at any time”.

In Islamic theology, the purpose of da’wah is to invite Muslims and non-Muslims to understand the worship of Allah.

Indian “televangelist” Dr Naik has been banned from countries including Britain, Canada and parts of India for his rhetorical support for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

He has recommended capital punishment for homosexuals and apostates and has been quoted saying “every Muslim should be a terrorist” and asserting men’s “rights” to beat their wives, as long as they do it lightly, so as not to leave a mark.

Sheik Deedat, who died in 2005, was a South African Muslim missionary of Indian descent whose books have been banned from sale in France since 1994 for being “violently anti-Western, anti-Semitic and inciting to racial hate.”

His da’wah centre was heavily financed by the bin Laden family and Deedat praised Osama bin Laden after meeting him.

Deakin corporate communications director Sarah Dolan yesterday said there were no clear grounds to cancel the event at the last minute.

“Nevertheless, we will closely watch how the group represent and conduct themselves,” she said.

“As a university we are committed to the fair and open ­exchange of ideas, but we draw the line not just at anyone promoting or justifying violent extremism but also at any malicious expression of exclusivism intended to encourage people to view others in a way that is disrespectful or hateful.”

Chair in Global Islamic Politics at Deakin Greg Barton said he agreed with the university’s decision, but provisos were certainly necessary.

“When it comes to Zakir Naik, there are reasons to be concerned,” Professor Barton said. “The questions around this event will be who is speaking and what line they take.

“In Australia at the moment we face a very serious struggle with ­violent extremist being recruited from our suburbs, and even from our tertiary institutions, and we have to be wise about how we ­engage. If we simply close the doors on everything, that can support the extremists’ rhetoric.


Social conservatism and limited government

Dr Jeremy Sammut

There is a school of thought that says the Abbott government failed to achieve economic reform because of Tony Abbott's social conservatism.

I discuss this subject in an article in this week's Spectator Australia, and suggest Abbott's political demise may in fact make it harder to achieve economic reform as the Left seems to have acquired a right of veto over any Prime Minister who dissents from their version of social and economic progressivism.

I would like to add an extra point. Those who describe their beliefs as economically dry and socially wet tend to think that social conservatism is antithetical to economic liberalism and a limited government agenda. I beg to differ with this trendy idea.

In the UK, the 500,000 most troubled families cost British taxpayers more than £30 billion -- £75,000 ($147,000) per family per year in benefits and other services spanning areas including child protection, health, welfare, and justice.

There is no reason to think the situation is different in Australia. The 2015 Review of Australia's Welfare System drew attention not only to the cost of welfare dependence to the Budget, but also to how it was linked to intergenerational family dysfunction and associated social problems.

'Troubled families' is a euphemism for the dysfunctional underclass of welfare-dependent households -- in which problems such as drug abuse and single-motherhood are rife.
What this suggests is that the social revolution of the 1960s, and the associated liberalisation of social attitudes towards the family breakdown and drugs, have become a driver of bigger government.

The so-called moral issues social conservatives prioritise -- traditional marriage and the war on drugs -- are actually policy issues highly relevant to addressing the social chaos that costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year.

Rather than complain about the old-fashioned social values of conservative throwbacks, trendies might instead ponder the ways that being economically dry and socially wet can be self-defeating, given the links between social permissiveness and growth in the size of government.


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