Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pauline Hanson: Matthew Canavan warns against insulting her

The new resources minister, Matthew Canavan, has warned that the political class should not “insult” Pauline Hanson and her voters despite vehemently disagreeing with them.

In an interview on Sky on Monday, Canavan said that some individual Muslims want to damage Australia but Muslims should not be treated as one group.

It comes after Hanson defended her views on Islam, including a ban on migration, on ABC’s Q&A program on Monday, claiming Islam is incompatible with Australia’s culture.

Canavan, who was promoted to cabinet on Monday, also boasted that the Nationals have achieved their highest representation in cabinet since the 1950s and called for greater understanding of the mining industry.

In a post-reshuffle media blitz, ministers have claimed the Coalition government is united, with Steve Ciobo saying liberals and conservatives were “pulling in the same direction” on budget repair and Dan Tehan saying Malcolm Turnbull had “got the balance right” in the reshuffle.

Canavan said the Nationals and others should not insult people who voted for Hanson or other minor parties.

“Indeed, you don’t even insult Pauline [Hanson] ... because by doing that you’re insulting [their voters],” he said.

“Hanson has been elected in her own right, and I will pay her respect as an elected member of this parliament.

“I’ll obviously violently disagree with her at some times on certain issues but she deserves respect ... the way we deal with these issues is to listen to people.”

Canavan said the two-month election campaign had revealed “home truths” that “people aren’t that confident in the political class right now”.

His comments echo John Howard’s warning that scorn for Hanson would increase her “battler appeal”.

Canavan said he “disagreed with Pauline [Hanson] that we should treat people as groups”, preferring to treat them as individuals.

“There are individuals in our community that, yes, subscribe to the Muslim faith and want to do us damage and we need to have strong security, border protection and other policies ... to secure our safety, but don’t put people into groups, that is not the basis of our society.”

Canavan said that after the reshuffle, the Nationals now had five members in cabinet, the largest number since the Arthur Fadden government in the 1950s.

He said he was frustrated that people who “live a long, long way away from mines” derided the mining industry, including coalmining, and “expounded myths” about it.

“Thousands of families up there on central Queensland rely on it for their jobs, to pay their mortgage, to put their kids through school, and not enough people in our national commentary reflect that.”

Reappointed veterans affairs minister, Dan Tehan, who became minister for defence personnel and assistant minister for cyber security but lost responsibility for defence materiel, told Radio National that Australia needed to continue to engage with the Islamic community.

Asked about the fact Zed Seselja was the only Liberal conservative promoted in the reshuffle, Tehan said Turnbull had “got the balance right” in picking a team to govern in Australia’s interests.

“What we’ve got to do as a government is get on and implement the agenda we took to the election,” he said.

Tehan said it should try to implement its superannuation policy as is, because that’s what the Coalition took to the election.

Ciobo, who was reappointed as trade, tourism and investment minister, told Sky the government had a “clear mandate”.

He said he would “take a majority, however it is served”, after Labor pulled ahead in the last undecided seat of Herbert by just eight votes. Counting has been completed in the seat, leaving the government with a one-seat majority unless a recount changes the result.

Ciobo said the government was “committed, focused and united on the task that lays ahead of us”. He said he was not concerned that only one Liberal conservative was promoted in the reshuffle.

“There will always be certain people who don’t like some of the decisions that are made ... but unfortunately we need to make decisions in the context of what the nation can afford.”

Ciobo said the government was “pulling in the same direction”.

Asked about conservative MPs loyal to Tony Abbott such as Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews, he replied: “These are long-serving members of the parliament, who have made a significant contribution and will continue to put forward their two cents’ worth ... [but] as a government, we’re committed to the policies we were elected to implement.”


Calls for intervention over Sydney girls’ school gender neutral language policy

A LEADING Sydney girls’ school’s decision to eliminate gender-specific terms from its teachers’ vocabularies has prompted calls for sackings and government intervention at the exclusive institution.

Teachers at the prestigious northwest Sydney school, Cheltenham Girls High School, have been asked to stop referring to students as “girls”, “ladies” and “women”, and use only gender-neutral language, The Daily Telegraph today reported.

The request was put to teachers at a staff meeting earlier this year discussing the implementation of the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, the newspaper reports.

It was suggested to teachers that by using such language they could be seen to be breaking the law and could be at risk of being sued by LGBTI students.

Discussing the article on Sydney radio station 2GB, talkback shock jock Chris Smith described the arrangement as “deplorable”.

“They’ve been scared into doing this by whoever’s pushing that twisted bible the Safe Schools program, and they’re scared of somehow being sued,” he said.

Smith took calls from listeners calling for the minister responsible to step in and the teachers, principals and administrative staff to be sacked and the school taken over by administrators.

He said if the school was serious about its new language policy, it should take its signage with white paint, eliminating the world “girls” from its title.  “You just wonder what world we’re talking about, we’re talking about our suburbs,” he said.

Speaking on Seven’s Sunrise program, former news presenter Ron Wilson described the situation as “ridiculous”.  “Let’s step in and put a new board in place just like Parramatta,” he said.

There has been similar commentary on Nine’s Today this morning, with Sunday Mail editor Peter Gleeson telling the program the initiative was “overreach at its worst”.

“I am all for diversity and making sure that our younger generation understand exactly what is going on within the community, but to implement something like this, it’s just ridiculous.”

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has asked his department to investigate.

In an interview with Macquarie Radio, the Minister confirmed there was a meeting at the school reminding teachers of discriminatory language and denied it was connected to Safe Schools. “I don’t think there’s anything improper about that,” he said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education told gender-specific terms would still be used by teachers at the school.  “Gender-specific terms will continue to be used by Cheltenham Girls’ High School when referring to students.

“As the Education Minister has asked the Department for a report on public claims raised in relation to this matter, it is not appropriate to comment further on them at this time.”


South Australia has become a test-case for what happens when "renewables" become a large part of the electricity supply infrastructure

Judith Sloan finds much folly in it, including insanely high prices:

It is unusual for any story related to South Australia to appear on the front page of this newspaper. But when wholesale electricity prices in that state reached more than 30 times the prices recorded in the eastern states last week, the broader interest in the issue is obvious.

To give you a feel for the figures, last Thursday at 1.45pm, the wholesale power price in South Australia was recorded at $1001 per megawatt hour, compared with prices of between $30/MWh and $32/MWh for the eastern states. At one point, the maximum price in the state hit $1400/MWh.

Unsurprisingly, several companies operating in South Australia, including BHP Billiton and beleaguered steelmaker Arrium, warned state Treasurer and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis that they might temporarily close their plants because of the high and erratic electricity prices.

But more worrying still are the medium-term prospects for the state: the chairman of the Energy Users Association warns that “large end-user customers are feeling the pain. As large customers roll off their energy contracts and need to renew those contracts, they are faced with significantly higher prices in South Australia”.

Electricity contracts for delivery next year and in 2018 are priced at between $90/MWh and $100/MWh in South Australia, compared with between $50/MWh and $63/MWh in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

How could this happen? How could it go so wrong for South Australia? The short answer is, contrary to Roy and HG’s famous prognostication that too much is never enough, too much is too much when it comes to intermittent and unreliable renewable energy. South Australia is paying a heavy price for its misguided energy policy, potentially leading to the further deindustrialisation of the state while also reducing its citizens’ living standards. But the real tragedy is that this outcome was entirely foreseeable.

Let us not forget that South Australia continues to boast about its status as the wind power capital of the country and having the highest proportion of its electricity generated by renewable sources. Since 2003, the contribution of wind to South Australian electricity generation has grown to more than one-quarter of the total.

Late last year, the state government issued the Climate Change Strategy for South Australia, ­ignoring completely the problems that were already apparent in the system. The wholesale electricity price in the state has been consistently above the national average since early 2015.

The statement reads that “to realise the benefits, we need to be bold. That is why we have said that by 2050 our state will have net zero emissions. We want to send a clear signal to businesses around the world: if you want to innovate, if you want to perfect low carbon technologies necessary to halt global warming — come to South Australia.”

But last week the confidence of that statement had been forgotten. Koutsantonis hysterically blamed what he saw as failures in the ­national electricity market and inadequate electricity interconnection for his state’s high and volatile wholesale electricity prices.

He even pledged to “to smash the national electricity market into a thousand pieces and start again”. How he thought this suggestion would be helpful is anyone’s guess.

The main problem with electricity generated by renewable energy — in South Australia’s case, overwhelmingly by wind — is what is technically called the non-synchronous nature of this power source, because of its inability to match generation with demand.

When the power is needed, the wind isn’t necessarily blowing. Or if the wind is blowing too hard, the turbines must be switched off and again the demand has to be met from other sources — in South Australia’s case, mainly from electricity generated in Victoria from brown coal.

What is clear is that overdevelopment of variable generation using renewable resources is a recipe for higher prices and lower than expected reductions in emissions because of the increasing costs of ensuring system stability and reliability.

Feasible storage options are down the track and, in any case, likely to be expensive.

The system can cope with some renewable energy and, in the short term, wholesale prices may even fall. But across time expansion of renewable energy undermines the profitability of traditional base-load generators while increasing the need for more back-up supply (up to 90 per cent of the maximum generating ­capacity of the renewable energy sources).

The decision by the South Australian government to sit on its hands when the coal-fired Northern Power station in Port Augusta closed in May was an act of wilful madness. The alternative would have been for the government to pay the owner, Alinta Energy, to keep the loss-making plant operating, certainly before an expansion of the interconnector capacity.

But Koutsantonis thought he knew better. “The truth is the reason it is closing is it couldn’t make money in this market,” he said. “The reason it can’t make money in this market is even though it does pour in relatively cheap power into the grid, renewable energy is cheaper.”

That would be cheaper only after taking into account the huge subsidies that are thrown at renewable energy courtesy of the renewable energy target and ­ignoring the need for back-up ­capacity.

Last week, the situation became so dire that Koutsantonis pleaded with the privately owned, mothballed gas-fired electricity generator located on the Port River in Adelaide to fire up to make up the electricity shortfall in the state.

In fact, gas should be the next cab off the rank when it comes to electricity generation. It is much less emissions-intensive than coal, particularly brown coal, but there is much less gas-generated electricity in South Australia because of the distortions in the market caused by the subsidies to renewable energy.

There are some important lessons in this disaster for the country as a whole; after all, there is no inter­connector to another country as there is an interconnector between South Australia and the eastern states. And note that Victoria has a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

Notwithstanding his exasperation, Koutsantonis did make one valid point last week: “This is coming to Victoria, this is coming to NSW … every jurisdiction is facing what we’re facing now.”

Bill Shorten should take note and immediately ditch his fanciful target of 50 per cent renewable energy lest the South Australian experience befall the rest of the country.


UK takes new technical education track

The British government’s recent plan for English technical education is a rejection of markets and competency-based training. It also reverses the convergence of vocational and academic education that has been a major trend for decades in Australia, Britain and the US.

What the British government describes as the most significant transformation of post-school education in 70 years is likely to be influential here because of the extensive policy borrowing between Australia and Britain.

Both countries have followed each other in establishing and then abolishing university grants commissions, establishing polytechnics (colleges of advanced education), collapsing polytechnics into universities, introducing income-contingent loans, establishing associate degrees or foundation degrees, and establishing research excellence assessments.

Britain’s Post-16 Skills Plan proposes to collapse 21,000 qualifications into 15 technical education routes. In Britain, vocational qualifications are awarded by 158 organisations, many of which are private for-profits that multiply qualifications to increase their market share. In a passage that could have been written about Australia, the plan rejects the market in qualifications: “Instead of competition between different awarding organisations leading to better quality and innovation in the design of qualifications, it can lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ in which awarding organisations compete to offer qualifications that are easier to pass and therefore of lower value.”

The plan establishes two educational tracks for students after age 16 by building a technical education track to complement the already well established academic track. The technical track, in turn, will have two options: college-based technical education that will include industry placements, and employment-based technical education such as apprenticeships, which include at least 20 per cent college-based education.

College-based technical education will extend to diploma level, and employment-based technical education will extend to bachelor level, incorporating the 1000 degree apprenticeships that have been established since 2013.

The government’s plan closely follows a report by an independent panel that was chaired by former science and innovation minister David Sainsbury and included Alison Wolf, a professor at King’s College London, who has influenced both sides of politics.

The panel rejected basing qualifications on national occupational standards, Britain’s version of our training packages. Again in a passage that applies directly to Australia, the panel states that national occupational standards “have been derived through a functional analysis of job roles and this has often led to an atomistic view of education and a rather tick-box approach to assessment. As such we do not consider them to be fit-for-purpose for use in the design of the technical education routes.”

The panel also rejects public funding being allocated to for-profit providers. Recent Australian statistics show that last year private providers offered 46 per cent of government-funded vocational education in Australia and 69 per cent in Queensland.

The British panel estimated that at least 30 per cent of technical education funding was allocated to private providers.

The panel argued: “Given what appears to be the highly unusual nature of this arrangement compared to other countries and the high costs associated with offering world-class technical education, we see a strong case for public funding for education and training to be restricted to institutions where surpluses are reinvested into the country’s education infrastructure.” The panel also stated that “publicly subsidised technical education … should be delivered under not-for-profit arrangements”.

This would be a significant reversal for Australia, where private provision has exploded from 29 per cent of government-funded vocational education in 2011.

Britain will implement its Post-16 Skills Plan while the country introduces an apprenticeship levy from April next year. This levy is similar to Australia’s training guarantee, introduced a year after HECS in 1990 but discontinued in 1994. It will require employers with a payroll of more than £3 million ($5.2m) to spend 0.5 per cent of their payroll on apprenticeships.

These changes will be undertaken by a restructured bureaucracy. New British Prime Minister Theresa May has moved responsibility for further and higher education from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to an enlarged Department for Education.


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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