Monday, November 02, 2015
Australia mulls sending illegals to Kyrgyzstan
The Green/Left call this idea hilarious, absurd, desperate etc. But why? Is it because the country is poor? The Left do not usually mock the poor. Is it because the Kyrgyz are Muslims? So what is absurd about sending Muslims to a Muslim country? Is it because Kyrgyzstan is a long way away? Hardly. It is very close to where many of the illegals come from. If they ever get sent there they could walk home. So what is it behind the mockery? It seems clear that the mockery is motivated by unacknowledged racism. It is the Kyrgyz themselves who are seen as absurd
Australia's government refused to comment on a report Saturday that said it was considering resettling refugees it currently houses on two Pacific islands in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan.
Canberra has made no secret of the fact it is in talks with a number of countries about taking refugees now living in the tiny state of Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus island but did not confirm the Kyrgyzstan option.
"We are having conversations with other countries to support our offshore processing arrangements and when we're in a position to make relevant announcements, the minister for immigration will do so," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News.
The Weekend Australian story, which named no sources, said that majority-Muslim Kyrgyzstan was seen as a potential option for resettling refugees, in particular Hazara people from Afghanistan.
It said other former Soviet bloc countries were also understood to be on the list of options, along with some African and South American states, but named no other country specifically and gave no indication of whether talks were underway.
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton made no comment on the story but referred to recent statements in which Dutton confirmed discussions with the Philippines and "other countries".
"We have had bilateral discussions with other countries, including the Philippines at an officials level, at a ministerial level over a number of months," Dutton told journalists in Canberra on October 9.
"If we can strike other arrangements with other countries, we will do that, but I won't publicly speculate on it."
Under Australia's hardline policy to stop asylum-seeker boats reaching its shores, those arriving by sea are denied resettlement in Australia even if found to be genuine refugees.
Instead they are turned back to their country of departure or sent to Nauru or PNG where more than 1,500 are now being held.
Australia has already struck an agreement with Cambodia to accept refugees in exchange for millions of dollars in aid but only a handful of people have taken up the offer and the deal has been strongly criticised by rights groups.
The Philippines said Tuesday it was "seriously considering" an Australian government proposal but stressed it would not accept any refugees permanently given its responsibilities to its own people, about one quarter of whom live in deep poverty.
Australia's Greens, staunch opponents of the conservative government's immigration policies, ridiculed the idea of sending people to Kyrgyzstan.
"What next? Are we going to send people to Mars?" leader Richard Di Natale said.
"This is ridiculous that we would look for any option other than the most logical, humane and economically responsible option which is to ensure we process people here in Australia and, if they are found to be genuine refugees, that they are settled here."
A Christian school exercises its freedom of religion
Christian school told homosexual his daughter, seven, could not talk about her parents because they did not want her to 'promote' homosexuality, which is well within the teachings of scripture (See Romans Chaps. 1 & 2, for instance, where Paul condemns Roman sexual practices, including sodomy)
A private school has publicly announced that children of same-sex parents are not welcome to attend, after it was discovered that a Year One pupil at the school has gay fathers.
A school parent is accusing Western Australia's Foundation Christian College of discriminating against his family due to his homosexuality, according to the Mandurah Mail.
Brendan, who would prefer not to disclose his surname, claims the school forbade his seven-year-old daughter from discussing her two fathers or the topic of homosexuality with her classmates.
The Mandurah school principal Andrew Newhouse responded to the controversy by openly confirming that children of same-sex parents will not be allowed to enroll at the Christian school.
Mr Newhouse – a former Family First candidate in the 2013 Federal election – has allegedly accused Brendan of 'fooling' the school during the initial interview and says Brendan's daughter would never have been accepted if they'd known she had two fathers.
The conflict was instigated by a conversation the little girl had with her classmates in which she mentioned she has two fathers, the Mandurah Mail reports.
'(My daughter) got talking about Tony Abbott and gay marriage and mentioned that her dad is with (my partner) and she was shut down by her teacher and then the teacher had to explain to the class what 'gay' is,' Brendan told the publication.
The girl's parents were called into a meeting with the school, who informed the parents that the student could not mention having two dads or broach the topic of homosexuality, as the school doesn't promote 'gay'.
Brendan is living with his male partner while sharing custody of his daughter with his ex-wife, according to the Mandurah Mail.
After another confrontation with the principal, Brendan chose to remove his daughter from the school. The ordeal has left the little girl confused and upset, according to her father.
'She doesn't like it that they don't like her dad,' said Mr Newhouse. 'Why does my daughter have to go through this and lose her best friends due to the person I am? 'I carry a lot of guilt and I hate that my daughter has to deal with her dad not being accepted.'
Mr Newhouse released a statement in the wake of the controversy to stand by his actions.
'The Board has a clearly enunciated Christian world view which all parents are made aware of before enrollment is confirmed,' said Mr Newhouse.
'Recently, a father withdrew his Year 1 (sic) daughter from the college as he came to understand the College was unable to support his worldview.
'A same-sex world view is not congruent with our Christian world view.'
'While we respect the rights of others to hold different world views, the College has an obligation to the parents to maintain the Christian worldview in all aspects of the college.'
Let the ALP see UK’s Jeremy Corbyn fiasco as a cautionary tale
Stephen Loosley, a former ALP senator and national president of the party, argues below that the ALP must keep close to the political center if it is to win power
Denis Healey, the British Labour titan who died earlier this month, had a lacerating turn of phrase.
At the Bournemouth Labour Party conference in 1985, I stood by watching in the media green room while he did interviews following his conference speech. In his address to the delegates, he had argued for unilateral rather than multilateral nuclear disarmament. A young television journalist seized on this policy shift.
“Mr Healey, you have changed your position?” was the opening question. Fixing him with a cold stare under those trademark bushy eyebrows, Healey replied: “Yes, I have. In my experience, the only people who never change their views are television journalists and university academics.”
At that point, the interview was virtually over.
But there is one memorable line sometimes attributed to Healey that was actually the work of a parliamentary colleague.
It was Labour MP Gerald Kaufman who famously described his party’s 1983 election manifesto, which was effectively a chronicle of Labour Party conference resolutions, as “the longest suicide note in history”.
The note included nationalisation of the largest 250 British companies and unilateral withdrawal from NATO. The indulgence and nonsense of this particular document, which reflected hard-Left fantasies of the era, helped deliver Margaret Thatcher an overwhelming electoral victory and a second term.
However, the 1983 manifesto pales by any comparison with the impact of the election of Jeremy Corbyn as British Labour leader in a farcical “rank-and-file” ballot of party members, thousands of whom joined very recently, paid a token fee and voted online. No care and no responsibility.
The wide-open door to the ballot box prompted Tory Chancellor George Osborne to quip that he had to be sure to cast his final three votes before the poll closed.
Now, the concept of unelectability is a chimera. Both Paul Keating and John Howard were once so dismissed. But Corbyn is as close to unelectable as it is possible to be, and matters are likely to get worse, much worse.
It is not simply Corbyn’s history of political conversations with extremists abroad but, rather, his apparent positions on where modern Britain should stand, from NATO to the national anthem and the renationalisation of the railways.
Corbyn’s election has moved Labour dramatically to the Left, vacating the centre ground to the Conservative Party, which has moved to occupy it in the absence of the Liberal Democrats.
Make no mistake, as Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech in Manchester to the Tory conference made clear, the Conservatives are campaigning with a view to winning the 2025 election: 2020 seems assured and it is difficult to argue that Labour can recover to be competitive next time.
The American “three strikes rule” seems to be in play: a political party sometimes seems to need to be beaten three times before it comes to its senses. British Labour is not so much lurching from crisis to crisis as permanently occupying space in the political equivalent of a National Health Service intensive care unit.
For Australian Labor, struggling in the polls, certain lessons may reasonably be drawn from the British experience.
First, the parliamentary Labor Party should always be the core element in deciding the party leader.
MPs are in the best possible position to determine who should lead, both in parliament and in the country.
Why is it possible to be certain of this? Simply because MPs see prospective leaders in all their dimensions and under all kinds of pressures. And, after all, the MPs have the most to lose from an electoral disaster.
Just recall that when Ed Miliband defeated brother David last time for the Labour leadership, David Miliband won the parliamentary and constituency party votes, losing narrowly only in the union section of the electoral college. Given all that subsequently happened under Ed Miliband’s watch — Cameron re-elected, the loss of Scotland and the elevation of Corbyn — who could possibly argue the MPs got it wrong?
Second, moving Labor to the Left reduces the party to a pressure group competing with the Greens and other splinters. The modern Western electorate — be it in the US, Britain, Australia or elsewhere — is dominated by the centre ground. This is where elections are determined, not inside the inner-city cycleways in London, Melbourne or Sydney, which exercise far too much influence in the national affairs of parties of the Left.
Third, politics is a serious business and not a dinner party game, played over pinot noir and cheese in Annandale or Carlton. Hard decisions are required of leaders; priorities must be established; the public interest must prevail over siren songs of populism. Corbyn talks numbingly about merely debating the issues in the absence of clear decisions.
Finally, significant parts of British Labour not only have disowned Tony Blair but now revile his governments, despite their modernising achievements and their electoral endorsements. For Australian Labor, the answer is in evidence. Embrace the Hawke and Keating years in deeds as well as words; deny the Coalition the model; endorse aspiration while never losing sight of the millions of working people whom the ALP should always seek to represent.
None of the above is beyond Bill Shorten and his colleagues in the federal ALP. The alternative is sobering. British Labour may not survive as a viable parliamentary opposition, despite the efforts of mainstream activists to group together as Blue Labour in the centre ground.
The Momentum faction, which exhibits more than a few of the tendencies of the Trotskyite/fascist Militant group from the 1980s, is gearing up for a complete takeover and a purge of moderate MPs. The future is grim for those who remember Hugh Gaitskell’s clarion call to “fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love”. The party that was once loved may actually be past saving.
Baby drought as Australia's fertility rate falls to 10-year low
Still a much better figure than most European countries
The average number of babies Australian women are having has fallen to the lowest level in 10 years – the level it was when the federal government introduced a baby bonus to boost population growth.
The national fertility rate has dropped to 1.8 children per woman, down from 1.88 children last year.
"This rate has been declining since 2008, though not reaching the low recorded in 2001," said AJ Lanyon, the regional director at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Altogether, 299,700 births were registered in Australia in 2014, down from 308,100 in 2013.
The country's fertility rate started increasing in 2002 and sat at two children per woman from 2007 to 2010, coinciding with the peak of the mining boom.
However, it has all been downhill since 2010, despite the introduction of government-funded paid parental leave in early 2011.
Demographer Peter McDonald said it was "impossible" to know if the baby bonus, child care rebate and tax rebates introduced after the 2004 election caused the spike. He believes it was due to women in their 30s deciding not to delay having children any longer. The recent decline was because those women had finished having their children.
The extra government support "may have helped people in making their decision to go ahead with the first birth", Professor McDonald said. A rate of 1.8 was normal for Australia and not a cause for concern, he added.
Meanwhile, a 9.3 per cent decline in births in NSW has been attributed to a clerical lag, with the state's birth rate expected to return to normal. This means the national rate could actually be around 1.85, according to Professor McDonald.
Overall, women aged between 30 and 34 were the most fertile, recording 120 babies per 1000. They were followed by women aged 25 to 29, with 95 babies per 1000.
Teenagers and women over 40 now have roughly the same fertility rate - 12.9 babies and 14.4 babies per 1000 women respectively. This is a historical low for teen pregnancies, which fell from a peak of 55 babies per 1000 girls in 1971.
For the first time the ABS mapped birth rates and found families in city centres have a much lower birth rates than outer suburbs, where the rate exceeds two children.
Artists Piers Greville and his wife Bridget Mac still live close to Melbourne's CBD and are an example of families choosing to have one child.
Lucien Greville-Mac was born in early 2012 when the national fertility rate was at 1.9, just slightly higher than it is now. The couple were living in Berlin but returned home when Lucien was born. Mr Greville says they are content with one child and he has "a feeling that there is enough people in the world without [us] contributing to a population explosion".
"We thought one child might allow us some of the lifestyle we had before having a child," Mr Greville explains.
It also gives them a chance to concentrate on raising one person, rather than being stretched by two. Friends with multiple children tell him that two children were harder than one.
Asked whether Lucien might miss having siblings, Mr Greville says they try hard to socialise with other families as often as possible.
Apple Pay to launch in Australia through American Express in 2015
Apple has bypassed banks unwilling to give up their dwindling card fees to accept Apple Pay by doing a deal via American Express in Australia and a host of other countries.
Amex's global head of mobile products and payments, Tony Prentice, said its customers in Australia and Canada will be able to use Apple Pay on iPhones, Apple Watch and iPad this year and in Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong in 2016.
"We believe it is critical to be on the forefront of seamless and innovative payment solutions for our card members and we are pleased to be able to deliver on that with Apple Pay," he said in a statement.
Some banks in Australia now offer contactless payments on Android mobiles, but Apple has struggled to get agreement with banks to launch via Visa and MasterCard networks outside the US and Britain.
Even in the US, the number of people actually using Apple Pay is estimated to be very low. This is in part because contactless payments are much lower than in many other countries.
Unlike Google and other mobile wallet providers, the tech giant wants a cut of the fees the card schemes pay to the banks, but these interchange fees - which amount to about $2 billion annually for all Australian banks - are much lower in Australia and Europe than the US.
In August, Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev told Fairfax Media Apple would find it hard to convince banks to give up revenue in return for being able to offer Apple Pay.
He said CBA already offered the same functionality as Apple Pay through its app – for users of Android phones – for two years, so it was difficult for Apple to argue it is providing much value. In the US, Apple Pay was innovative because tap-and-go was not a feature of that market.
A spokesman for CBA said on Wednesday: "Apple Pay is an interesting proposition and on its arrival in Australia we'll evaluate the best payments solution for our customers," he said.
"Commonwealth Bank currently offers NFC payments via Android phones and via PayTag for compatible iPhone phones. As we have always done, we will announce any future enhancements to our applications when they are ready for customers."
A Westpac spokesman said it provides contactless cards and payments on Samsung Android phones via NFC. "It is not appropriate to comment on any discussions we may have had with Apple."
Other major banks privately said talks were ongoing with Apple. But one said the Amex deal represented a very small part of the credit card transactions in Australia and believed it would put minimal extra pressure on banks to to do a deal.
Apple would not confirm whether it is in talks with any banks or discuss the terms of the deal with Amex. "You will need to speak to the banks about their plans," a spokeswoman said.
Apart from its so called "companion cards", American Express issues its cards directly rather than relying on banks. The fees it charges are also on average about twice the rate for Visa and MasterCard, at about 1.7 per cent per transaction.
Amex wouldn't comment on whether Apple will take some of its fees. American Express already works on Apple Pay in the US and Britain, along with Visa and MasterCard.
More than 95 per cent of Amex cards have chip and PIN authentication rather than magnetic stripes now after all card schemes and banks in Australia began discontinuing these cards from August 2014.
Bank consultant, Grant Halverson of Mclean Roche, said banks own most of the payment terminals in Australia and could easily frustrate any upgrades to these needed to accept Apple Pay. He said banks would feel no extra pressure to do a deal with Apple.
"They will be sitting back patting themselves on the back saying 'look they have caved in and gone with Amex'."
But he said Amex, which has 19 per cent of all credit card transactions in Australia - the second largest single share after CBA - may be able to pick up a lot of new customers from the deal if it now makes offers via Apple.
"Around 34.9 per cent of mobile phone's in Australia are Apple phones. In the first six months of 2015, 1.29 million iPhone6 were sold in Australia. So adding in sales for the second half of 2014, there are around 2 million iPhone 6 in the country with Apple Pay installed," he said.
"The big opportunity for Amex is to go after 2 million Apple phone users. If you are one of those people who are excited by technology then they are probably going to send offers to Apple customers and make it very quick and easy."
In a statement, Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, said: "With a global issuer like American Express, we are thrilled to seamlessly bring our easy, secure and private way to pay to more customers internationally."