Thursday, August 04, 2016

Deadbeat parents failed the Don Dale Detention Centre boys

A week on, there is still a huge hole in the miserable story about young boys in the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. Four Corners challenged our emotions, asked searching questions and created a furore about who is to blame for the mistreatment of young boys who deserve better. A job well done by the public broadcaster. But not that well done.

The ABC’s documentary Australia’s Shame only scratched the scab from a national wound with far graver, more enduring and complex causes. The shame runs deeper than a detention centre or even a culture within the Territory’s wider detention system and so the Prime Minister’s rushed royal commission promises to be a Band-Aid, at best.

More than a week later, the politics and the hyperbole continue. Many in the media, the law, the medical profession, those at human rights commissions, in politics and indigenous affairs are rushing to name and shame. Witness the confected calls for the Northern Territory government to be sacked. When the PM announced the royal commission, the first question from the media was a pot shot about racism. Witness, too, the politically charged indignation from Labor and various NGOs that more indigenous leaders were not consulted.

And, predictably, there was concentrated pomposity from Australian Human Rights Commission boss Gillian Triggs, who declared breaches of human rights even after her own warning seconds earlier that it would be “foolish” to prejudge these matters as they will be decided by the royal commission. Equally predictable, there has been daily media outrage at the ABC, from Michael Brissenden on AM to Emma ­Alberici on Lateline, hunting for “gotcha” moments against politicians. And the rent-a-crowd protesters chanting about racism don’t even try to get close to the real issues.

Decades of misguided policy have entrenched welfare dependency and promoted symbolism over substance. Apologies and talk of treaties and indigenous recognition suck up more oxygen than the grassroots things like the toxic cycle of welfare dependency; getting indigenous kids to stay in school, not just for one-third of a year but for the entire school year; getting young people into real jobs, not make-believe ones. And then there’s the ­violence and the drug and alcohol abuse.

Speaking to The Australian, Marcia Langton distils simple truths others shy away from. She points to absolute failure of indigenous leadership to speak about personal responsibility.

“Instead of talking about personal agency, these people talk about self-determination. It drowns out any message about personal agency,” she says.

Self-determination means nothing if it is uncoupled from personal responsibility. “The parasitic NGO sector lives off a large population of victims who really need to be told: stop sitting around waiting for handouts,” she says.

Instead, behind closed doors, newly minted “diversity” leaders direct bitter words at scholarship programs that have been fantastically successful in educating indigenous children. Is it the private school education or boarding school or both that offends the chip-on-the-shoulder denigrators? Whatever it is, get over it. These brilliant, engaged and friendly students, some the first in their family to finish high school, many the first to go to university, are setting an example for the younger kids in their families and communities.

If indigenous progress is your aim, shouldn’t this path be celebrated rather than denigrated? Will the royal commission explore these cultural and systemic failures by elites that explain why too many indigenous kids are in detention instead of school?

Yes, we have seen a long line of well-meaning, hardworking child advocates, nurses, psychologists, indigenous leaders and, yes, politicians talk about the boys in Don Dale, explain what has gone wrong in detention, how the system needs to change and how they are working on that. But where were, where are the parents of these broken boys? Where are the fathers and mothers? This is the gaping hole in this horribly sad story. That we haven’t heard from the mothers and ­fathers of the boys in Don Dale tells its own story. It’s a story of generational dysfunction that a royal commission into Don Dale won’t fix.

When 97 per cent of children in detention in the Territory are Aboriginal, we should ask about more than just getting rid of that restraint chair and those spit hoods or punishing the guards who struck the young boys, hosed them down with water and subjected them to teargas.

Surely we have to ask about the families of these boys to understand why so many young boys end up in a youth detention centre. We have to ask how they became violent, why so many take drugs, don’t go to school and end up unemployed, why they witness so much violence and dysfunction and end up being victims of the same tragic cycle of despair.

How is it that Dylan Voller, the boy at the centre of the Four Corners episode, had been found guilty of 50 criminal offences before he was sentenced to three years and eight months jail in ­August 2014 at the age of 16? How is it that he was high on ice and drunk? Why did he try to run over a policeman and bash a young man in a hospital carpark during a 24-hour crime spree?

As Langton tells me, “It’s a very complicated issue but taking personal responsibility for raising your kids is a basic norm that has been lost sight of amid the faux outrage.

“What is the first thing you would be saying if you were a real leader? Making a call out to the parents to lift their game,” says Langton, one of our most courageous voices in this complex area.

In the absence of those calls, it’s hardly surprising the wrong kind of behaviour has become normal in many indigenous communities. The most basic norms, caring for your children, taking responsibility for them, have been destroyed. Instead, the wrong kind of behaviour has become normative.

Who is protesting about the breakdown of parenting norms and parental responsibility? And at what point do parents say: “I am going to take responsibility for my kids”, rather than try to lay the blame on others?

It’s true that parenting is one of the hardest things we can do. There’s no rule book and most of us blunder through guided by our own common sense, plenty of advice from others and the love, the unconditional love we feel for our children. The love for a child is different to other kinds of love. It’s a responsible love, exhausting, rewarding, nurturing, a privilege.

The reality is that not every parent is up to the job. We have become so hopeless, so scared of making judgments about other parents, we would rather turn our eyes away from children whose life chances are dashed by dysfunction than ask parents to do the best they can by their child. We seem more at ease making judgments about the owners of mistreated greyhounds than parents who mistreat their kids.Four Corners didn’t explore these questions. Neither will the royal commission. So who will start asking the right questions, the hard questions?


Noel Pearson: Royal commission won't fix problems facing Indigenous Australia

Noel gets it right again -- as he usually does

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson has made an impassioned plea for Australians to channel their outrage into more than just another royal commission into Indigenous incarceration.

The royal commission comes after a Four Corners report aired shocking images of young detainees being mistreated in Darwin's Don Dale detention centre.

A royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody was held 25 years ago and Mr Pearson says like that one, this one will not address the forces driving Aboriginal people into incarceration in the first place.

"We can't allow our outrage to be selective. We should be outraged about those things that are driving the large numbers of those tragic juveniles, who were once little babies, who were once little toddlers and who have ended up with a bag over their head being abused in an institution," he said.

"I'm interested in the question of how do we stop these children from entering that system? How do we make sure that the children are protected at the earliest of stages from ever leading that kind of life?

"I can tell you those kids with a bag over their heads in the institutions that are coming in and out of Townsville and Aurukun or Don Dale and Yirrkala, those kids are going to end up in prison as sure as night turns to day."

'Blackfellas have to take charge'

When asked about the cases of abuse aired on Four Corners last week, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion initially said they had not previously "piqued" his interest".

Mr Pearson described the comment as unfortunate.

"It spoke to the tenor of the times. I think we've grown so immune to the Indigenous problem here, this outrageous overrepresentation. You could have an inquiry into any of those three subjects; child protection, juvenile detention, imprisonment, the story leads from one to the other," he said.

"Australians have become so inured to this problem that it is literally something that unless you see very graphic images in television, we are largely unmoved."
Mr Pearson said instead of a royal commission, more should be done to empower Indigenous communities.

"Blackfellas have got to take charge and take responsibility for their own children. That part of the message really struggles to get traction," he said.

"We're united in relation to the outrage about the end consequences, but we're divided over the question over whether Indigenous responsibility is a crucial part of the solution. And I say it is."

Pearson says Native Title is 'architecture for treaty'

Mr Pearson also said Australia should not let the Indigenous constitutional recognition debate be derailed.

He said while recognition was purely symbolic, it should be seen as an "enabler" for further reform.

"I call it putting a little plaque into the constitution. A plaque's not going to do anything. Rather I propose a modest enabling clause, one of which I've been championing over the last few years, which is an advisory body, a voice to the Commonwealth Government and the Federal Parliament," he said.

He said that on the issue of a treaty, Australia had provisions for such agreements under the Native Title Act.

"We have agreement, a quasi treaty-making process going on under Native Title. The city of Perth, that whole south-east corner of Western Australia, is now the subject of what in another language might be called a treaty," he said.

"Essentially we have an architecture under the Native Title act that allows these types of agreements to take place, and they're happening all over the countryside."


Time for Malcolm Turnbull to take action on criminality in union movement

SO Malcolm Turnbull won. Just.  It means the Prime Minister has a mandate to tackle the most insidious, most under-reported problem in Australia.

I am referring to the seemingly inexhaustible criminality in the union movement that has been a stain on the national character for half a century. Australia the land of the Fair Go? Hardly.

Turnbull’s victory will be a hollow one unless the Coalition can rally the numbers in the Senate to tighten the building code and give legislative teeth to the workplace watchdog, the Australian Building and Construc­tion Commission.

The numbers are fascinating. And two “outsiders” from Queensland may well save the day and help rein in union law-breakers.

Come on down, Pauline Hanson and Gabrielle Buckley.

Gabrielle who? Gabe is a 40-year-old Bracken Ridge father-of-three, a web designer and frontman in a cowboy rock band. He plays guitar and harmonica and rattles out melodies by Johnny Cash, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Dylan.

I’m beginning to like him already. Gabe was also David Leyonhjelm’s Liberal Democrat Senate candidate in Queensland. Gabe is a veteran of four campaigns.

Last night, there was speculation he just may grab a seat. In what may have been a line from a Kenny Rogers ballad, Buckley told me he rated his chances as “somewhere between the flip of a coin and roll of a dice”.

If Buckley doesn’t win, the seat is likely to go to One ­Nation’s Malcolm Roberts, a mining engineer with an MBA.

Leyonhjelm has voted with the Coalition on industrial relations reforms in the past and is expected to do so again, perhaps with some tweaking of the proposed laws.

Hanson’s One Nation team likewise is expected to back Turnbull. Others, including “Human Headline” Derryn Hinch and the Xenophons, see the obvious merits in an ­industrial watchdog.

So there is some optimism on the conservative side that Turnbull may win the ABCC vote in the Senate, obviating the need for a joint sitting.

If there is a joint sitting, Bob “Silver Bodgie” Katter may also back the reforms ­although I regard him as ­untrustworthy since elect­oral commission disclosures showed he got large sums from the CFMEU ($150,000) and the ETU ($50,000).

But Turnbull will need the support of Pauline and Gabe and maybe others to defeat the combined might of Labor and the Greens, who have for years turned a blind eye to union thuggery and criminality in the building industry, especially in Queensland. Why? Is it because the CFMEU has pumped $7 million into Labor coffers since 2007?

So why do we need a watchdog? The building and construction industry employs a million Australians. It generated $300 billion in total income last year. Unfortunately the ­industry is plagued by widespread disregard for the law. No less than 68 per cent of all work days lost during the December 2015 quarter were in the construction sector.

The royal commission by former High Court judge Dyson Heydon showed existing laws covering unions that were introduced by Labor are hopelessly inadequate in preventing corruption and bullying. Said Heydon: “The industry is marred by unlawful and inappropriate conduct. Fear, intimidation and coer­cion are commonplace.

“Contractors, subcontractors and workers face this culture continuously.”  And: “At the centre of this culture and much of the unlawful and inappropriate conduct is the CFMEU.”

The planned Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Bill would impose the same ­requirements of honesty and fair dealing that already exist for companies.

Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash says new laws are also needed to stop union bosses rorting members’ money.

It amazes me how the Labor Party fails to see it has a moral and ethical responsibility to act in the best interests of its union members.

Meanwhile, the building ­industry is under siege in Queensland and you are paying for it.

The spotlight was back on Queensland again after the CFMEU targeted the Commonwealth Games site at Carrara on the Gold Coast.

The Federal Court heard the crippling campaign left tradesmen with as little as two hours’ work a day. Some snoozed, others had barbecues.

The Turnbull Government’s plan to amend the building code and restore the ABCC was discussed at the stop-work meetings.

Fair Work Building and Construction told the Federal Court the meetings were “unlawful, illegitimate and unconscionable”. The stoppages were aimed at intimidating the venue developer, Hansen Yuncken, into signing a new enterprise bargaining agreement, the court heard.

The Queensland branch of the CFMEU has strong links with the ALP.

Union chiefs are facing charges over allegations of ­improper document destruction, the building of an official’s home, and questionable strike action.

In his final report, Heydon said the conduct of the CFMEU in Australia featured “unlawful behaviour” and “systemic corruption and unlawful conduct, including corrupt payments, physical and verbal violence, threats, intimidation, abuse of right-of-entry permits, secondary boycotts, breaches of fiduciary duty and contempt of court”.

And he said the wrongdoing identified was not new. He said similar criminality was found at three separate royal commissions conducted over the past 40 years: the Winneke Royal Commission in 1982, the Gyles Royal Commission in 1992 and the Cole Royal Commission in 2003.


Australia headed for recession next year, says false prophet

He's right that housing prices will fall and construction will falter as the huge boom in apartment building has its inevitable effect but iron ore prices are rising again so another shift into mining should take up at least some of the slack.  And lower housing costs should free up significant consumer spending, part of which could go on debt redemption

Australia's credit binge will lead to a bust as soon as next year, with house prices to fall between 40 and 70 per cent and unemployment to rise sharply, Professor Steve Keen says.

The professor famously lost a bet when he predicted a catastrophic crash in Australian house prices following the GFC and had to walk from Canberra to Mount Kosciusko as a result.

But he says, this time, he is right and does not have his hiking boots at the ready.

"We have borrowed ourselves so much to the hilt that we are now dependent on that continuing to rise over time and it simply won't," he told the ABC's The Business.

Many believe the Reserve Bank has been a steady guiding hand to the Australian economy in the years since the GFC, but Professor Keen believes it has guided the economy "straight toward the shoals" by encouraging households to borrow with low rates which has led to asset bubbles.

"They don't know what they're doing," he said.

"Our debt level according to the Bank of International Settlements, private debt level, has gone from 150 per cent of GDP to 210 per cent of GDP."

He argued that means a large part of the growth that Australia has enjoyed since the GFC, while many other countries plunged into recession, has been fuelled by a 60 per cent rise in household debt.

"Ireland did the same thing when they called themselves the Celtic Tiger and they don't call themselves that anymore," he said.

"Spain was doing the same thing during its housing bubble and we've replicated the same mistakes.

"It is even worse for us, we are the last idiot on the block."
He believes the Reserve Bank will be forced to take rates down to zero from their current level of 1.75 per cent as the economy continues to slow, but that will not stop the collapse of the credit binge that has kept the country afloat until now.

"[Lower rates] will suck more people in, it will suck more people in for a while and the [Reserve Bank] can delay this for a while by cutting the rates," he said.


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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