Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Alan Jones spears the "stolen generations" myth

It is such a pernicious myth that social workers are often now afraid to remove endangered Aboriginal children from dysfunctional families.  It's a myth that kills black kids.

Note the word "generation".  That implies thousands.  But at most one or two dubious removals have been identified.  See historian Keith Windschuttle's magisterial tome "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume Three, The Stolen Generations 1881-2008". For more concise treatments of the topic see here and here and here (scroll down)

Controversial radio shock jock Alan Jones has told listeners to his radio program that Australia needed to have another Stolen Generation to save Indigenous children from their ‘drug and alcohol addicted' Aboriginal mothers and fathers.

Jones made the controversial remarks when responding to a listener who had called into his 2GB radio show on Monday morning.

The woman caller was complaining about the traditional Aboriginal dance and minute’s silence for the Stolen Generation that took place before the NRL Indigenous All Stars game on Saturday. The Indigenous side were playing the World All Stars at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

‘What was all that that went on before that match on Saturday night? What a load of twaddle,' the caller said. ‘And they even had to stand for a minute silence for the Stolen Generations. When are they going to believe that half the Stolen Generation were taken for their own protection.’

It was a remark that Jones wholeheartedly agreed with and he soon left no one in any doubt as to his thoughts on the matter. ‘That’s correct. To look after them,’ Jones said on the program.

‘We need stolen generations because there are a whole heap of kids going before the courts now, or their families - mums going before the courts, and dads - who are on top of the world with drugs or alcohol.

‘Suddenly, they go back into an environment where children are brought up in those circumstances – those children for their own benefit should be taken away.’

Jones and the caller then agreed that what had happened before the NRL Indigenous All Stars game was uncalled for and that it made no sense.

‘We’ve gone mad haven’t we? We have gone mad I just thought it was unbelievable [when referring to the minute’s silence before the game],’ Jones said.

The Stolen Generations refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who were forcibly removed by the government as children from their families between the early 1900s up until the 1970s.

The Indigenous All Stars team is a side made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

First formed in 1973, the team currently plays in annual preseason NRL All Star matches to celebrate Indigenous culture and the influence Indigenous player have had in the sport.


Malcolm Turnbull’s loving Valentine’s Day message to his wife is slammed by proponents of gay marriage

Weird people seem to think that a bit of paper makes or breaks a good relationship.  No wonder people call them "queer"

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's sweet Facebook message to his wife quickly turned sour as same-sex marriage supporters flooded his post with frustrated comments.

'When I first asked Lucy to marry me she said, "Let's wait until we grow up." Well we didn't wait long and now it is almost impossible to imagine, let alone remember, what it was like not to be together, so much so that I have a much clearer sense of "Lucy and me" than I do of "me",' the Facebook post read.

Mr Turnbull's post, accompanied by a photo of them in the early years of their relationship, garnered over 30,000 likes and 1100 comments.

While many of the comments congratulated Mr and Mrs Turnbull on Valentine's Day, proponents of marriage equality criticised the Prime Minister for his inability to keep up with society's changing views on gay marriage.

'Well because of you and your party I will never know what it will be like to marry my parter [sic] of nearly 10 years. So happy for you both,' Tomas Allan Leaumont commented.

Another Facebook user, Douglas McFarland, told Mr Turnbull to scrap his planned same-sex marriage plebiscite.

"When I first asked my partner to marry me, he said let's wait till our government lets us...and now, four years later, we have to wait until 51 per cent of the country lets us (and then the government an still reject it)...you and Lucy are beautiful together, an inspiring couple...just wish your leadership was more inspiring on Marriage.

We all know you get it, we all know you want it, we all know you are spinning political bs when you support the plebiscite. Perhaps Valentine's day is the perfect day to scrap the plebiscite! Happy Valentine's day to you both, it must be a lovely reminder of your marriage. As opposed to the constant reminder that same sex couples love is less!"

Further criticisms were made regarding the plebiscite and its potential to waste resources.

'Lucky you can get married. How about a free vote on marriage equality instead of wasting millions on a pointless plebiscite some of your ministers have vowed to ignore anyway?' Brad Wolfe wrote.

However, other commentators soon came to Mr Turnbull's defence.

'What a sad state of affairs when our PM can't express his love for his wife without being vilified. Happy Valentine's Day to Malcolm and Lucy,' Lin Jessop stated.

'Respect that Malcolm is human and not just our Prime Minister. An Aussie bloke pledging his love for his wife. Simply that!!!' Tony Puntureri commented.

Mr Turnbull married Lucy on 22 March 1980 at Cumnor, Oxfordshire, near Oxford by a Church of England priest while Turnbull was attending the University of Oxford.

Together they have two children, Alex and Daisy, who attended local Sydney schools and have now completed University.

Lucy and Malcolm have been partners not only in marriage but also in their many businesses. Lucy, a prominent businesswoman and politician herself, was the first female Lord Mayor of Sydney, a position she held until early 2004.


Australia ideal for "cockroach" start-ups

(New businesses that do not rely on borrowing to get going)

Our start-up community here in Australia has long bemoaned the scarcity of capital available to fuel local start-ups. It is easy to see why; US-based ventures seem to be raising hundreds of millions in funding every week.

But is it all bad? Lack of capital has not stopped many Aussie entrepreneurs, and there have been some major success stories in the last few years. Prominent Silicon Valley investor and mentor Paul Graham describes self-funded, profitable start-ups as cockroaches. They are small but indestructible.

Australia’s harsh capital environment has been the perfect breeding ground for world class “cockroach” start-ups. These businesses have been funded through a small investment by the founders, sometimes through credit card debts, and grown steadily with increasing revenue and a global business model. The founders have discovered that their businesses are too small, at least initially, to be of interest to US-based VC and angel investors. Rather than take investment at less competitive terms from local investors, they have chosen to self-fund the business’s initial growth. It takes longer to build a tech business this way, without the growth spurt fuelled by capital injection.

But our remote location has helped many of these success stories fly under the radar and capture the market before competitors wake up to the opportunity. Self-funding has become the Australian way of building a tech start-up. While Silicon Valley is all about building unicorns — companies with a billion dollar valuation — Australia is more about building cockroaches.

For example, take one of Melbourne’s biggest success stories, RetailMeNot. Guy King and Bevan Clark started the coupons marketplace in 2006 and grew the business to $30 million in annual revenue. Guy and Bevan never raised money from external investors. The site was run by a small team of five and recorded around 14 million visitors per month when it was acquired in 2010, likely for more than $200 million in cash and stock.

Several successful Australian start-ups bootstrapped for years, before raising money once they were well established. Sydney-based Atlassian was self-funded for eight years until it raised $60m from Accel Partners in 2010. Melbourne based 99designs spun out of content publisher Sitepoint in 2008. It wasn’t until 2011 that they raised $35m, also from Accel Partners. CultureAmp, a promising Melbourne-based start-up that specialises in staff surveys and analytics, was self-funded for four years before raising $6.3m, mostly from US-based venture capitalists.

Large capital raises don’t always work out well. When venture capitalists invest millions in a business, the expectations of that business grow. VCs typically make their money from a handful of knockout successes and often push start-ups to pursue a riskier, high-growth strategy with the hope of scoring one of these home runs. 99designs, for example, seemed to suffer some growing pains after rapid hiring once they completed their $35m round. More disastrously, start-ups can grow their team considerably, fail to gain traction and become profitable, and are forced into a fire sale.

Our start-up, Rome2rio, has raised $1.6 million from angel investors in Melbourne and abroad. Five years since launching the travel site the business is now profitable, with a team of 16 based in Melbourne. Rather than raise further capital, we have chosen to grow the business organically with revenue.

But why is capital so scarce in Australia? Part of the problem is that local investors have yet to reap the benefits of many successful exits. Too few local investors are intimately familiar with success because most of Australia’s big success stories did not access local capital.

The road to a successful exit is also harder, and longer, in Australia. In the US, large tech companies frequently acquire successful start-ups for north of $100m. Such an event is almost unheard of within Australia. Fewer multinational tech companies base themselves here, and geography makes long distance acquisitions harder. Australian start-ups often find themselves establishing a US presence to access a larger market and potential acquirers.

Another ingredient lacking in Australia’s start-up ecosystem is acquihires. An acquihire is when a large company acquires a start-up primarily to hire its talent, rather than any interest in its technology or product. The scenario typically plays out like this: the start-up raises a few million from angel investors and builds an engineering team. After a year or two, they fail to gain enough traction to raise further funds, and their funding runway is running out. A large technology company, hungry for developer talent in a competitive hiring marketplace, acquires the desperate company for a few million. They shut down the unsuccessful product and apply the new resources to more important projects. Investors get their money back. The founders receive a nice consolation prize and avoid painful lay-offs. Publicly the acquisition is celebrated as a success with “terms undisclosed”.

Many acquisitions in the US are acqui-hires. They are frowned upon by some, who believe they stifle innovation. I believe they play an important role in making angel investment less risky. Invest in a great team and they’ll either become a major success or at the very least be acquihired. At least, you’ll get your money back and learn from the failure.

While launching a tech start-up is currently in vogue; few young Australians are keen to take the risky plunge. More Australians will take the launch risk if experienced early stage capital is more plentiful. Few young professionals can afford the luxury of spending a year or two without a proper income to pursue a dream of start-up success that may never be realised. Especially since many are financially focused on daunting local house prices. My co-founder, Bernie, and I were in a fortunate position when we started work on Rome2rio. We had both accumulated savings from our US careers at Microsoft. With a reasonably frugal lifestyle, we spent three years building the company without drawing a proper salary. We would not have gotten Rome2rio off the ground otherwise.

But there is hope. A new breed of start-up is becoming common across the Australian landscape. Local capital is starting to flow into younger ventures, and the cockroach model is become less common. Promising start-ups such as GreenSync, Canva, CultureAmp, LIFX, YourGrocer, and Shoes of Prey have all raised money from local investors. Many of these companies will eventually exit, and provide our local investment community with some much-needed experience and big wins.



Australian Labor Party adopts motion encouraging Israel trips

In what can be seen as a counter-move to an anti-Israel motion, a state convention of Australia's Labor party on Sunday approved a motion encouraging party members to spend time in both Israel and Palestinian areas when visiting the region, Haaretz reported.

The resolution, adopted by the New South Wales Labor convention, came a week and a half after it was reported that the party was mulling a proposal by pro-Palestinian lawmakers to ban its members from participating in sponsored trips to Israel.

The anti-Israel motion was proposed by Labor Friends of Palestine and would have precluded state MPs from New South Wales, party officials and Young Labor members from joining paid trips to Israel if passed.

New South Wales, where Sydney is located, is Australia's most populous state. On a national level, the party has been in opposition since its loss in elections in 2013, noted Haaretz. 

Reacting to the pro-Israel resolution, New South Wales Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak told the Australian Jewish News the resolution that passed was a "sensible outcome" that “rejects the anti-Israel bias and discrimination” that had been pushed by a few party members.

“When organizing our study missions to the region, we always encourage members to visit both the Palestinian territories and Israel in order to get a thorough understanding of the reality on the ground,” he said.

The Labor Party in Australia has a history of anti-Israel bias, and it agreed this past summer on a resolution that should the party come to power, it would consider recognizing Palestinian statehood.

The motion stipulated such course of action on a lack of progress in the currently stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

In addition, Bob Carr, a former foreign minister in Australia who was a founder of the Labor Friends of Israel in 1977 and has recently become a patron of the Labor Friends of Palestine, has in the past blamed the "pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne" for wielding “extraordinary influence” on the Australian government.


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