Friday, June 10, 2016

Greens behind Sydney beach disaster

THESE are the pictures that have come back to haunt opponents to northern beaches sea defences. Hundreds of protesters can be seen lining up in 2002 to prevent the building of a mooted sea wall in Collaroy.

The same stretch in fact, where $20m of property could be bulldozed.

Emergency crews and volunteers are hastily trying to protect waterfront homes from collapsing with rocks and sandbags.

Last night more than 500 people worked to keep the sea at bay after foundations were undermined by a wild weekend of storms.

The sea wall was never built after the protests.  Residents have been evacuated and homes taken off the real estate market but it could all have been avoided.

Now the council is having to dip into emergency funding to build a wall, and the homeowners will also be asked to fork out.

The Line in the Sand rally was organised by Surfrider Foundation Northern beaches boss Brendan Donohoe who stood in front of crowds of anti-development and surf-loving activists telling them sea walls would “actively destroy” the beaches instead of protecting them.

The protest was backed by the growing greens movement at the time and successfully pressured the then Warringah Council to knock back the protective walls. “Sea walls do nothing to ensure the ongoing conservation of the beach in front of them,” Mr Donohoe told crowds.

Surfers also complained the sea wall would ruin their perfect waves.

The newly amalgamated Northern Beaches Council today refused to admit they had made a mistake by pandering to a few heated protesters but confirmed a wall would be built at any cost.

Further up Collaroy Beach developer Phil Franks “went broke” fighting Warringah Council to keep a seawall outside his old home that he believes saved it this week.

He built it in 1997 following a storm but it was unapproved, so council sought a court order for its demolition. He fought and won, with the Land and Environment Court dismissing the council’s application to have it demolished.


Safe Schools debate cold shoulders parents

A sexual-health academic whose research helped inform Safe Schools has dismissed parental concerns over its content, blaming a “hate campaign” by The Aus­tralian for controversy around the program.

As La Trobe University grapples with restoring the reputation of the program, emeritus professor Anne Mitchell has defended Safe Schools Coalition Victoria co-founder Roz Ward, who returned to work on Monday following a brief suspension, claiming her Marxist links were “an absolute gift” to detractors.

At a Safe Schools event at Melbourne’s RMIT university a fortnight ago, the retired academic was billed to speak on her research, but spent significant time attacking those who criticised the program for its promotion of gender ideology and sexualised content.

“These are the strategies that are effective all the time,” Professor Mitchell said, discussing a slide titled “The anatomy of an Oz Hate Campaign” attributed to a 2014 report by journalism academ­ics Andrew Dodd and ­Matthew Ricketson, both former journalists at The Australian.

“It gets to the anti-communist rhetoric; Roz Ward was a gift to that, an absolute gift. They played that mercilessly,” she said. According to a leaked recording from the event, Professor Mitchell criticised the “depravity narrative” of the purported hate campaign, pointing to articles that revealed resources about penis tucking and breast binding — practices adopted by some transgender people — were being made available to students.

“You know what’s going to happen to the world if that goes on, especially in primary schools,” she said, prompting laughter from the audience. “Distortion is just so common in those articles; children as young as five may be taught that gender is not fixed or may be taught about homosexual sex.

“Deliberate distortion that frightens people.”

Professor Mitchell declined to comment yesterday, but a La Trobe spokesman said she had been awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2014 for her sexual-health research and policy development in support of marginalised communities. Some of that ­research has come under scrutiny recently.

Safe Schools materials cite the fifth National Survey of Secondary Students and Sexual Health, co-authored by Professor Mitchell, for its repeated claim that 10 per cent of people are same-sex-attracted. However, this is not backed up by findings of the study, which relied heavily on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex ­networks to recruit trial subjects.

It is not the first time an assoc­iate of Safe Schools has dismissed concerns about the program.

As The Australian reported in March, Ms Ward has advised principals to say “tough luck” to parents who disapproved of the program, while her colleague Joel Radcliffe said “parents don’t have the power to shut this down”.

Professor Mitchell’s strident defence took place on May 26, ­several months after the federal government ordered an overhaul of the taxpayer-funded program after a review deemed some parts inappropriate for young students.

It also came the night before La Trobe announced an investi­gation into Ms Ward after she denounced the Australian flag as racist in a Facebook post.

Despite dropping the investi­gation last week amid legal pressure, La Trobe vice-chancellor John Dewar said Ms Ward’s conduct had imperilled the program and the research institution.


Islamic school cops $150,000 fine for illegal employment practices

One of Australia's top Islamic schools has been hit with heavy penalties of more than $150,000 after hiring teachers on illegal contracts and later tampering with evidence to cover up the wrongdoing.

The Australian International Academy of Education – formerly King Khalid College – was found to have violated workplace law by employing more than a dozen teachers on fixed-term contracts in 2012.

Salah Salman, the school's director-general and a member of the Order of Australia, was also condemned and personally penalised $2,200 for obstructing union officials seeking to inspect the teachers' contracts.

Imposed in the Federal Court on Wednesday, the fines are believed to be among the largest penalties ever ordered against a school in Australia.  Justice Christopher Jessup described the school's actions as "calculated deception".

Based in Melbourne, the academy was Australia's first Islamic education provider when it opened in Sydney Road, Coburg, in 1983. It now has campuses in Coburg, Coburg North and Caroline Springs, and in Sydney and Dubai.

The Federal Court upheld the Independent Education Union's claim that 13 teachers at the academy's Coburg campus were illegally hired on fixed-term contracts, which can only be used to plug gaps when teachers take extended absences from classroom duties.

The union said the school was entitled to hire just three teachers on fixed-term contracts under the teachers' award in 2012.

And when union officials went to inspect the school's files, Mr Salman instructed his personal assistant to change teachers' employment agreements, altering their status from replacement staff to full-time employees, the court heard.

Maurice Blackburn senior associate Daniel Victory said the case was a "warning signal" for any schools misusing fixed-term employment contracts.  "The misuse of fixed-term contracts is not just bad for teachers and students; this case shows that it can also lead to significant penalties for schools," he said.

"This case also highlights the importance of unions, as without the tireless work of the union, these contraventions may never have come to light."

Independent Education Union general secretary Deb James said the court's ruling was significant, and the union would be turning its attention to "other schools and colleges that have made a habit of putting people on fixed-term contracts".

"Fixed-term contracts make it hard for teachers to plan and can negatively affect their teaching," she said.

"Teachers want to concentrate on their students, not whether they will have a job the next year."


Anti-Muslim sentiment strong and widespread in Australian army, study shows

Anti-Muslim sentiment is “strong” and “probably quite widespread” among Australian defence force members and was higher among those who had undergone cultural sensitivity training, according to research commissioned by the army.

Soldiers from four special operations units based at Holsworthy army base were asked whether they believed “the Muslim religion promotes violence and terrorism”.

Of the 182 people who took part, an estimated 80% agreed with the sentiment, according to lead researcher Charles Miller from the Australian National University.

The survey was conducted as a “list experiment” to grant anonymity to the participants and reduce concerns that agreeing with the statement might invite repercussions.

“This study has found strong evidence that many members of the ADF’s elite units simply do not buy the official line presented by Western leaders from George W Bush on that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’,” Miller concluded.

“Anti-Muslim sentiment is strong at least among some of the elements of the ADF at the forefront of deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Miller estimated that the proportion of soldiers who had undergone cultural sensitivity training and agreed that Islam promoted violence was about 91%.

“The corresponding figure for those who have not had cultural sensitivity training is a mere 17%,” he wrote in a paper published in the autumn edition of the Australian Army Journal (pdf).

But he cautioned against declaring the one-day cultural sensitivity training a failure, noting that only soldiers who were deployed to the battlefield underwent the course. “It could simply be that this [positive] effect is being comprehensively drowned out either by the effects of overseas deployment or by whichever factors caused individuals to join units which would be deployed overseas in the first place,” Miller said.

Special operations units at Holsworthy had “borne a heavy share of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan”, he noted.

He suggested “a higher ‘dose’ of the training” could improve perceptions of Islam among soldiers, but said further research was needed to make any conclusions about the effectiveness of the sensitivity course.

The ADF is engaged in currently engaged in official efforts to increase minority and female numbers among enlisted people.

The chief of army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, wrote an introduction to the paper noting it would “challenge your opinion of the way in which our army conducts and manages cultural sensitivity training. And challenge is a good thing.”

“We do not all have to agree. Both the evaluation board of the Australian Army Journal, which reviews these articles, and my staff, have a number of opposing views on this article’s content and its reflection on the lived experience of army values,” he wrote.

“That said, discussion on sensitive matters, supported by sound research and rigorous analysis, helps position army to understand difficult problems and deal with them appropriately.”


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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