Thursday, October 08, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is critical about politicians not mentioning "Islam" when they should

Teenage terrorist was given gun he used to shoot dead accountant at the mosque where he skipped school to pray

A Middle Eastern crime group reportedly supplied the gun used by Parramatta shooter Farhad Jabar who used it to killed police accountant Curtis Cheng.

Farhad, 15, is thought to have got hold of the gun inside Parramatta Mosque, which he went to before he murdered Mr Cheng on Friday afternoon, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The teenager was given the .38 Smith and Wesson by an extremist inside the mosque who got the gun from a crime identity. The gang member had no idea what was going to unfold.

Investigators had unearthed the origin of the gun but asked the newspaper not to publish this information before Wednesday's early morning terror raids.

Farhad shot dead Mr Cheng outside the Parramatta police headquarters on Friday as he left work.

It was reported the 'radicalised' youth had visited the mosque to change into a black robe just before the terror attack.

He was shot dead by a police officer after he killed Mr Cheng.

But Neil El-Kadomi, the head of Parramatta Mosque, denied he knew 'the boy' and claimed the teen was an infrequent visitor at the mosque.


Student, 24, says he was bashed by police during a routine traffic stop - and claims they confiscated his phone and 'edited' his footage of the incident

A Cairns man facing charges of assaulting police is considering suing the Queensland Police Service after claiming he was bashed by an officer during a routine traffic stop.

Kenneth Wong says police took his phone and edited footage of him being assaulted by a male constable.

But the QPS will not look into the allegations until Wong, 24, has been through court for a string of charges himself, including failing to stop, contravening a direction and assaulting police.

'As the matter is currently before the court it is not appropriate to comment further,' a police statement read.

Wong says he was repeatedly punched in the face by the constable after he was pulled over on August 29 for failing to completely stop at an intersection while on the way to visit his sick mother in Cairns.

An emergency department report obtained by AAP shows Wong suffered two black eyes, a cut under his left eye, bruises to both wrists and a bruise to his right shoulder.

The law graduate and education student says the officer called for back-up when he questioned why he had to hand over his licence.

After realising Wong was recording him, the officer then allegedly took Mr Wong's glasses off, punched him multiple times and tried to pull him from the vehicle while he was still strapped in.

Once at the police station, he was pressured into giving police his phone's passcode, Wong says. He says police then disabled the iCloud function so he could not download the video remotely.

Wong's phone was returned last week and he is convinced the video has been 'trimmed' to remove possibly incriminating evidence. He plans to have a computer expert look at it.

Wong can be heard on the video file telling the officer: 'No, you can't do that. You don't have the power under PPRA (Police Powers and Responsibilities Act).

'I give you licence, you better leave me alone.

'Do not touch it, it's my property.'

The officer repeatedly replies: 'Don't start, mate.'

Wong says his facial injuries have prevented him from continuing his placement at a Cairns high school, while the incident itself has left him frightened and distrustful of police.

Wong approached the Crime and Corruption Commission to investigate the officer, but the complaint was forwarded to the QPS's Ethical Standard Command.

Wong has sought advice and said he is considering legal action.

It comes amid a QPS review into a recent spate of police brutality incidents on the Gold Coast.

The Queensland Council of Civil Liberties, which has been assisting Wong, says police behaviour is a growing concern.

'We're receiving at least one complaint or allegation about police violence or brutality a week,' acting president Julie Jansen told AAP.


Why are so many teachers fleeing Australian classrooms?

IN A profession where graduates head out into the world optimistic about nurturing children and bringing about change, it seems reality hits hard and fast.

Statistics show that early career teachers are leaving in droves, with close to 40% exiting from the profession within the first year of their teaching career, a number that has tripled in the last 6 years.

And it’s affecting our kids. Dr Phillip Riley, Director of the Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey at Monash University, says it is extremely disruptive to learning if teachers are constantly changing, something that’s become a huge issue in many schools. “Students need continuity and a predictable environment to optimise their learning. It is often connected with increased behavioural issues in student populations.” [i.e. the collapse of discipline]

However, it’s not just the kids that are affected — the economy also takes a blow, with replacement costs having been estimated at 0.2% of annual GDP. “That is a lot of money that could be put to much better use,” Dr Riley says. “It can also affect morale in schools more generally.”

Dr Riley says there are several reasons for the industry exodus, including the lack of job security in teaching contracts, being restricted in the way they can contribute to students’ learning and wellbeing, poor mentoring, and difficulty in their new workplace. He feels that one teacher summed it up by saying “I felt well prepared for the classroom, but nobody prepared me for the staffroom.”

Someone who can undoubtedly relate to this is Leila*, who, at 21, was bullied by the deputy principal in her first teaching job. Leila says her superior withheld information from her, badmouthed her to parents and isolated her from her team.

However, things became more serious when he cornered her alone late one afternoon with a false accusation, swearing at her and calling her names like ‘fat bitch’, ‘stupid bitch’, and ‘stupid little girl’, chasing Leila to her car as she fled in a panic. An investigation followed and found in Leila’s favour, however instead of the deputy being reprimanded or demoted, he went on to become a principal at a large primary school in a major city.

Leila was granted a transfer to a new school to start afresh, but says she was shocked to then find herself working for the principal from hell. “Before I arrived she found out my backstory and spoke to the deputy principal. She told me she had made it her mission to vindicate her ‘respected colleague’ and have me sacked once and for all.”

Leila says the principal micromanaged her excessively, enforced impossible workloads and went through her belongings regularly. Leila became distressed and suicidal, and when she found out she and her husband needed IVF treatment to conceive, her principal refused her time off for an appointment, telling her to choose between having children or teaching.

When her request for leave the following year was denied, she resigned. “After two bad experiences in a row I was convinced it was me, I was a bad teacher and a bad person. I didn’t deserve to live, let alone teach,” she says. However, Leila found out there were dozens of complaints already made against her former principal and is still shocked at the terrible duty of care at this behaviour being allowed to continue.

Nina* graduated as a mature-aged student and was offered a contract with a special education high school, which she loved, and the next year became the performing arts teacher, a role she took on with complete passion, but says throughout that year some things disturbed her.

“This special school is part of a larger school where every one preached integration,” Nina explains. “There was none, and the kids were ostracised from the rest of the school. I saw things among the staff that I didn’t like, the way they treated and handled the students and then the politics that carried on.”

When obvious and vocal nepotism saw another teacher employed and quickly offered a full time contract, Nina was left with minimal hours as a result. After complaining about this and a number of issues to the principal, she was offered a position in the main school’s art department, but it wasn’t ideal.

“I had no experience in teaching high school art and I was left largely on my own,” Nina explains. “There was no support for me and I even had another art teacher say that if I expected her to mentor me then the school had to give her more release time because she wasn’t prepared to do it in her non-interaction time. I felt like a second grade citizen and I felt so dumb. I tried not to show these high school kids my lack of confidence.”

Nina says this experience combined with the lack of consistent work and job security as well exhaustion from constantly ‘swimming upstream’ with no support has left her with no option but to change professions.

Jennifer* was offered a full time contract as a primary teacher in a large school within a week of completing her degree, but was shocked at the workload, often requiring her to work for hours on administrative tasks every night on top of her normal classroom teaching and planning.

“My contract was renewed at the end of the first year and I fell pregnant however on the first day back at school I learnt I’d had a miscarriage. This teamed with the lack of support from the executives and a huge workload led me to have my contract dissolved after term two. I tried casual teaching but I ended up walking away completely and took six months off before going into a receptionist position at a real estate.”

Dr Riley says for changes to happen in the teaching profession, we need to firstly admit it is an issue that needs addressing, then find better ways to support new teachers and provide professional learning for them — not just ad hoc mentoring.

“We need to provide longer beginning contracts so they can spend time ‘falling in love with teaching’ rather than worrying about reapplying for their jobs regularly.”


Fox News morning host says Australia has 'no freedom'

A host on Fox News has stated Australia has "no freedom" due to hate speech laws during a discussion on gun laws.

Fox and Friends host Tucker Carlson was discussing the recent mass shooting at an Oregon community college and Donald Trump's assertion the campus' ban on guns was to blame.

Mr Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, slammed the fact guns weren't allowed at Umpqua Community College.

"Wouldn't they have been better off if somebody in the room, anybody, had a gun to at least help them out," Trump said.

Carlson defended Mr Trump's comments, saying he had a "rational point".

"If there's a drunk driving accident you don't ban cars, you prevent drunk people from driving them," Carlson said.

Co-hosts Clayton Morris brought up Australia as a place that had strict gun controls, wrongly stating that people were banned from having firearms.

"They have no gun violence, they don't have guns, citizens aren't allowed to have guns," Morris said.

"They also have no freedom!" Carlson replied.  "You can go to prison for expressing popular views and people do."

Carlson was referring to Australia's laws on hate speech, which aim to compensate those who are the victim of discrimination or vilification on account of their race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

No one has been jailed under the laws, which differ from state to state.


Opportunity cost in Australia's future submarine decision

I'm only too ready to leave it up to strategic experts such as Rear Admiral Peter Briggs to sort out how many submarines we need. I'll stick to the economics. We shouldn't let the number be determined by a perceived need to provide work-continuity for ASC in South Australia. And we should acknowledge that this is a decision about 'guns or butter': spending more on submarines by building them at home means less of something else.

The Senate inquiry on the future of naval shipbuilding in Australia is a 'must read' for anyone interested in the decision-making process. It's an example of Australia's own version of Eisenhower's 'military-industrial complex' in operation. Even though this was the Senate Economics Reference Committee, the list of contributors is almost exclusively construction-industry representatives, regional lobbyist, trade-unionists and former services personnel. The taxpayers were under-represented.

Reading the testimony, you might get the impression that the Collins saga had been a brilliant success and that building a new fleet of submarines in Australia would be no dearer than building overseas, an assertion consistently refuted by actual domestic ship-building experience (See ASPI's 'Four ships for the price of six').

Members of the Committee would have been courageous (in the 'Yes Minister' sense) to have been critical or sceptical, as all political parties covet those South Australian votes. Even so, the report was not, as Admiral Briggs stated, unanimous. There was in fact a substantial dissenting report issued by the Government members of the Committee, which (inter alia) specifically addressed the issues I raised in my initial post on this issue.

In response to the recommendation that Admiral Briggs quotes, the dissenting report says:

"Response to recommendation 3. The draft report calls for an Australian build at all costs. This could give rise to national security outcomes being compromised by a prioritisation of industry policy over defence policy and it could force the taxpayer to underwrite an economically uncompetitive project. While we want to see the Future Submarine contract awarded to Australian shipbuilders, it must also be the result of a competitive tender process and it must be awarded on merit. This will ensure that Navy receives a fit for purpose product of the highest standard while Australian tax payers receive the best possible value for money.

. . .Recommendation 3 effectively relegates national security policy to second place behind industry policy."

I couldn't have said it any better.

The substantive difference between Peter Briggs and me relates to the impact of spending on submarines on the economy. It is standard practice for consultants-for-hire to make their lobbying case on the basis that spending on the target industry will boost the economy, not just by the amount of the actual expenditure, but by a multiple of this because of successive rounds of spending. This is akin to the familiar textbook multiplier process. You can go one step further (as the 'eloquent' testimony of Professor Goran Roos does) and double-count the contribution of sub-contractors. If you want to get a good reception where 'jobs and growth' are the paramount political concern, this is the way to go.

It is only in rare circumstances, however, that this makes any economic sense. The multiplier logic relies on squeezing more than a pint out of a pint pot. The implicit assumption here is that there is unused capacity in the economy – capital, managerial talent and unemployed workers – all ready and waiting to respond to this extra demand to build submarines, adding to GDP is the process. Not only are these resources assumed to be unemployed now, the assumption is that they would have remained so over the life of the project.

Of course Australia has unemployment – currently 6.2% of the workforce. But this is close to the lowest level of unemployment Australia has had for the past quarter-century. It would be nice to get back to the lower level we had at the height of the resources investment boom, but this kind of fine tuning is not feasible.

The proper way to analyse how the submarines might affect GDP is to think in terms of opportunity cost: if these resources – capital, managerial talent and labour – were not building submarines, they would be doing something else which society also values. The productivity challenge is not to attempt to conjure productive capacity out of thin air, but to shift the economy's given resource endowment into uses which have a higher social value.

Government industry policy (subsidies, 'picking winners' and so on) may play a part in that process. Economists are not all free-market ideologues. Some of us accept that governments can sometimes use their considerable expenditure to steer resources into areas which will catalyse higher-value output and have longer-term benefits even when the expenditure ends. But economists also look back on the history of infant industries which never grew up, and on politically driven white elephants. Who wants another Darwin-Alice Springs railway?

Where does domestic submarine construction fit in such a framework?

Will this foster a viable industry which suits our comparative advantage? Will it form the nucleus of a cluster of highly productive firms with a self-sustaining future when the submarine work is finished? Will it link into international supply chains, thus compensating for our lack of manufacturing scale? Will it be disciplined by international competition, or link us more firmly into the rising demands of East Asia?

The Collins-class experience suggests that constructing bespoke submarines is a dead end, a mendicant industry whose survival depends on government subsidies.

Does it make any difference that domestic construction avoids importing? In a globalised world with flexible exchange rates, this 'exports good, imports bad' argument, common though it is, has to be dismissed. The flexible exchange rate looks after the need to keep imports and exports in equilibrium with the available funding from capital flows.

The dissenting report of the Senate inquiry was a brave attempt to put some limits on the size of the hand-out, through giving the rival bidders some flexibility on the domestic content of construction. The competitive evaluation process seems the last opportunity to impose some economics on this politics-driven project.


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