Sunday, June 05, 2016

Academic suspended for criticising Australian flag

What do you think of the heading above?  Sounds outrageous, does it not?  It is on the header of the latest mailout from "New Matilda".  And, knowing the underlying story concerned, it did give me a laugh.  I was even more entertained when the opening sentence of  the story described the suspended one, Roz Ward, as a "respected Melbourne academic".  Respected by whom?  Other Far-Leftists, no doubt.

But the heading is deceptive in the usual Leftist way.  The woman did not just criticize the flag.  Harold Scruby has been doing that for decades without incident. Having the Union Jack quartered in the Australian flag has long steamed up some Leftists.  Ms Ward actually denigrated the flag and what it stood for, which is a more serious matter

The story below is fairly factual, quite devoid of the huffing and puffing one usually gets in Leftist writing.  So it leaves the reader in a position to make up their own minds about the matter.  I would note two additional points only:

1). Universities these days are very sensitive about speech, "hate" speech, particularly.  So LaTrobe would have risked great cries of hypocrisy if they had let Ms Ward's quite blatant hate speech go uncontested.  An accusation of "racism" is pretty toxic these days.  And directing such an accusation at the university's source of funding just could not be risked.  Funding is the thing that universities most passionately believe in these days.

2). The flag is a symbol of the nation so it was Australia as a whole that Ms Ward was denigrating. And Australians are a pretty patriotic lot in a quiet way so there is no doubt that the utterance concerned would have cause widespread offence -- particularly as it came from a source well deserving of opprobrium: A Communist.  Glass houses and all that.  Just the woman's obvious self-satisfaction was offensive enough, considering the horrors she stands for.  So the whole thing was just bad PR for the university.  And universities spend a lot on PR these days

No doubt Ms Ward will be reinstated after a suitable interval.  She will be found to have uttered "free speech".  Marxism is respectable in the universities these days. 

UPDATE: She has been reinstated.  I originally posted this article on my Matilda blog on 2nd.

Roz Ward – a respected Melbourne academic and one of the co-founders of the Safe Schools program – has been suspended from her job at La Trobe University this afternoon, over a private Facebook post which criticised the Australian flag as “racist”.

Ms Ward, who has been at the centre of a News Corporation engineered media storm this week, was notified in writing this afternoon of her immediate suspension (with pay) from the university.

Fiona Reed, the Executive Director of Human Resources at LaTrobe accuses Ms Ward of breaching her employment conditions by embarrassing the university, causing the Victorian Government – a major funder of LaTrobe – to divert resources to defending Safe Schools, and of putting her colleagues at risk by creating an ‘unsafe’ environment.

Last week, under a photograph of the gay and lesbian flag flying above Victorian parliament, Ms Ward joked with a friend on Facebook: “Now we just need to get rid of the racist Australian flag on top of state parliament and get a red one up there and my work is done.”

The ‘red’ is a reference to the Marxist flag – in addition to her work with Safe Schools, Ms Ward is a prominent figure in Melbourne’s Marxist political movement.

The post was leaked to The Australian newspaper, which began a campaign last week to remove Ms Ward from her position with Safe Schools Victoria Coalition, which is funded by the Victorian government and auspiced by LaTrobe.

By early this week, former Liberal Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett – the Chairman of charity beyondblue, which has been a major funder of LaTrobe – had joined the attacks, telling media that if Ms Ward remained in her role with Safe Schools, he would personally argue against any further funding to the university’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, which administers the Safe Schools program on behalf of LaTrobe.

This afternoon, Ms Ward was handed a letter by LaTrobe University, immediately suspending her from her job Specifically, La Trobe claims Ms Ward’s conduct:

“a. … Undermined public confidence in the Safe Schools program by undermining public confidence in you as a researcher and as a person associated with the Safe Schools program.”

“b. … Damages the reputation of the Safe Schools program and aligns the Safe Schools program with views which have nothing to do with the program and its message and content.”

“c. … Has required members of the Victorian Government to take up their time in defending the Safe Schools program, rather than be positive advocates for the Safe Schools program.”

“d. … Has required senior staff at the University to take up their time in defending the Safe Schools program, rather than be positive advocates for the Safe Schools program or undertake other duties they have.”

“e. … drawn (your colleagues) into the negative publicity around Safe Schools and this has impacted on their ability to continue with their research in a safe environment.”


Great Barrier Reef: scientists ‘exaggerated’ coral bleaching

Activist scientists and lobby groups have distorted surveys, maps and data to misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, ­according to the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt.

A full survey of the reef ­released yesterday by the author­ity and the Australian Institute of Marine ­Science said 75 per cent of the reef would escape unscathed.

Dr Reichelt said the vast bulk of bleaching damage was confined to the far northern section off Cape York, which had the best prospect of recovery due to the lack of ­onshore development and high water quality. [i.e. There are virtually NO farms along that part of the coast  -- which gives the lie to the constant  Greenie claim that farm runoff is what is damaging the reef]

Activist groups last week seized on reports that a UN ­assessment of the impacts of climate change on iconic Australian World Heritage sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian Wilderness was censored by Australia. It later emerged that the report the government was accused of censoring was complimentary of the Turnbull government’s actions to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The political debate and the ­release of the authority’s survey results highlights a growing conflict between the lead Barrier Reef agency and the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce headed by Terry Hughes.

Dr Reichelt said the authority had withdrawn from a joint ­announcement on coral bleaching with Professor Hughes this week “because we didn’t think it told the whole story”. The taskforce said mass bleaching had killed 35 per cent of corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Reichelt said maps accompanying the research had been misleading, exaggerating the ­impact. “I don’t know whether it was a deliberate sleight of hand or lack of geographic knowledge but it certainly suits the purpose of the people who sent it out,” he said.

“This is a frightening enough story with the facts, you don’t need to dress them up. We don’t want to be seen as saying there is no ­problem out there but we do want people to understand there is a lot of the reef that is unscathed.”

Dr Reichelt said there had been widespread misinterpretation of how much of the reef had died. “We’ve seen headlines stating that 93 per cent of the reef is prac­tic­ally dead,” he said. “We’ve also seen reports that 35 per cent, or even 50 per cent, of the entire reef is now gone.

“However, based on our ­combined results so far, the overall mortality rate is 22 per cent — and about 85 per cent of that die-off has occurred in the far north ­between the tip of Cape York and just north of Lizard Island, 250km north of Cairns. Seventy-five per cent of the reef will come out in a few months time as recovered.”

Former climate change commissioner Tim Flannery described diving on the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas recently as “one of the saddest days of my life”.

“This great organism, the size of Germany and arguably the most diverse place on earth, is dying ­before our eyes,’’ Dr Flannery wrote for Fairfax Media. “Having watched my father dying two years ago, I know what the signs of slipping away are. This is death, which ever-rising temperatures will allow no recovery from. Unless we act now.”

Dr Reichelt said Dr Flannery’s language had been “dramatic” and “theatrical” and his prognosis, ­although of concern, was “specul­ative”. Dr Reichelt also rejected ­reports, based on leaked draft docu­ments, that improving water quality would cost $16 billion.

He said the interim report had been rejected by a board of which he was member and “taken totally out of context” in media reports.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society said the leaked information demonstrated the legacy of years of poor farming practices and government inaction, and highlighted the scale of ambition needed for political leaders to protect the reef.

The society’s reef campaign ­director, Imogen Zethoven, said Australia’s plans to protect the reef’s water quality were “shockingly underfunded”.

Meanwhile, tourism operators have stepped up a campaign to fight back against the onslaught of negative publicity. “It seems some marine scientists have decided to use the bleaching event to highlight their personal political beliefs and lobby for increased funding in an election year,” said Association of Marine Park Tour Operators executive director Col McKenzie.


Some Corroboration from the Cairns Post: (Cairns is the port through which the reef is most often accessed)

The Cairns-based Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) has also released findings from 133 underwater survey dives carried out between Port Douglas and Cairns by a combined taskforce last week.

It showed key reef tourism sites escaped mass bleaching with only 13.7 per cent showing signs of coral mortality.

The findings seemingly contradict an estimate by the Townsville-based ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies earlier this week that mass bleaching killed 35 per cent of corals on the northern and central part of the Reef.

AMPTO [tour operators -- who see the reef daily] executive director Col McKenzie said this claim was “utter rubbish.”

“It seems that some marine scientists have decided to use the bleaching event for their personal political beliefs and lobby for increased funding in an election year,’’ he said.

The BOM got something right

I have often criticized the BOM so I am pleased that I can for once say something good about them.  On 24 May, they predicted: "winter rain could be on the way".  Winter is normally a dry season in Eastern Australia.  And June is definitely winter in Australia.

And on June 2 they predicted: "Wild weather to smash Australia’s east coast this weekend"

And on Saturday 4th June it happened.  The rain was coming down relentlessly and in "sheets" on Saturday morning in Brisbane.  The road outside my place was like a river.  I grew up in the tropics and it was like I was back there -- which pleased me greatly.  One usually remembers one's childhood fondly.

Media report and lots of pix here

Pauline Hanson defends her suggestion for a Royal Commission into ‘Islam’

Senate Candidate and leader of the One Nation Party Pauline Hanson defended her calls for a Royal Commission into Islam, telling The TODAY Show the requirement is “justified.”

Ms Hanson hit back at angry anti-racism protesters who stormed her Senate launch last night, claiming they “don’t really understand what we stand for.”

“I think we need as a nation to determine what impact this is going to have on our culture and our way of life,” she said this morning.  “We’ve seen the terrorism on the streets, we’ve seen the problems and the murders, don’t bury your head in the sand,” she said.

She defended her tough stance, encouraging Australians not to be dismayed by the protesters because “nothing [in our] policies is controversial.”

It’s been twenty years since Ms Hanson has made a foray into politics, and not the first time she has come under fire for extreme views, after her infamous comments about Australia in danger of being “swamped by Asians”.

She went on to question whether Islam “was truly a religion, or just a political ideology trying to undermine our culture?”

Co-host Peter Stefanovic questioned whether she believed a sweeping generalisation of Islam was correct, adding “only a small percentage hold extremist views.”

“I think it’s wonderful if they are peace-loving people, but we have never had any of those problems from any other religion in this country,” she responded.

“Don’t try and hound me, or suppress me,” she said. “It will up to the people at the ballot boxes… Let the people decide.

“This is a Christian country,” she retorted.

Ms Hanson went on to give an ardent speech that the call for a Royal Commission into Islam was not the only policy that stood for the One Nation Party. “We want to address taxation, the budget, debt, loss of farming land to foreign nationals…please do not just tag me as an issue with Islam,” she pleaded. “I, and my candidates, go a lot further than that.”

She appeared relieved when Stefanovic moved on to discussing superannuation, insisting her party believed it should be left alone.  “People are fed up, they make their plans, it should be the left the way it is… I don’t believe it should be changed,” she said.

She responded to the Prime Minister’s comments that she wasn’t welcome in the Upper House by putting it down to his “sheer arrogance.”  “It was very disgraceful for the leader of this nation to make those comments.”

Ms Hanson’s defence comes after around 20 protesters gathered at Brisbane’s Norman Park Bowls Club, chanting choruses for her to “get out.”


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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