Monday, October 31, 2016

Sometimes you can't win

When a school took account of an Aboriginal girl's culture, that was "racist".  When they did NOT treat her differently that was also racist

The mother of an Aboriginal girl has taken racial discrimination action against her 10-year-old daughter's private school.

The mother, who is also a teacher, lodged a complaint against a teacher and staff member from Ipswich Girls Grammar School with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

She said her daughter was embarrassed when she was told by her teacher to sit outside during a history class because of a YouTube video that showed a dead Aboriginal man,The Courier Mail reported.

The teacher said she was trying to be accommodating of the girl's culture of not naming the dead and gave her the choice to watch the video.

'We, her parents, had never given the school any indication that (our daughter) is unable to participate in any academic or school activities for cultural reasons,' the mother said in a statement.  

The teacher also refuted any claims she bullied the student by submitting a card she gave her that read: 'thank you for a great year in your class.'

Ipswich Girls Grammar School denies any claims of racial and cultural discrimination at the school and by the teacher.

However, the parents claim their daughter has been subject to racial discrimination and a culturally insensitive curriculum for the past six years.

In another incident, the mother said her daughter was teased when she did not dress 'like a colonial' for a history class excursion.

The girl's father said the colonial era represented 'massacres, displacement and genocide' of the Aboriginal people.

'Asking an Aboriginal student to dress like a colonial was offensive, racist and discriminatory,' the mother said.


Jockey Michelle Payne's claims of sexism in the racing have been refuted by a UK female jockey

What a whining creature Michelle Payne is.  She would have to be a feminist.  She was given the greatest privilege in Australian racing -- a winning Melbourne cup ride -- but she still condemned the racing industry as sexist and patriarchal.  Where gratitude might have been expected from her she simply delivered abuse.  No wonder she has not been offered much in the way of rides since.  Who would want to work with such an unpleasant person? Feminists really are unhinged

It is almost a year since Michelle Payne became the first woman to ride a Melbourne Cup winner and famously spoke out about the discrimination faced by women in racing.

But on the eve of this year's race, the UK's first female race-caller, Hayley Moore, said she had not noticed a problem.

Moore, who is also a jockey, in 2011 won a competition for women who wanted to call races, culminating in her calling an event at her favourite track, Ascot.

She has gone on to forge a career as an analyst and commentator and continues to work at her family's stables, where she grew up with her brother Ryan Moore, who is considered one of the world's best jockeys.

An amateur jockey herself, Moore said she was pleased to see Payne win the Melbourne Cup last year, but disappointed with her comments afterwards.

After winning the race on Prince of Penzance, Payne said racing was a chauvinistic sport and the anti-women elements could "get stuffed, because they think women aren't strong enough but we can beat the world."

But Moore said she had not seen any sexism in racing – if jockeys were good enough, they got a ride.

"I completely disagree [with Payne]," she said. "I think that if you're good enough and proven enough, you will get the opportunities," she said.

"Maybe she's come up against situations personally, for herself, but as a whole voice for women, I thought 'unnecessary'.

"I thought, 'can't you reflect on the positive, instead of looking at the negative, the sexism that, in my opinion, doesn't exist because if you're good enough, you'll be used'."

Moore said she did not expect female jockeys to reach equal representation in the top tier of riders.

"I think the cream of the crop will always probably be men, because they always probably will have that little bit more strength," she said.

Moore said women were very successful against men in Olympic equestrian eventing, maybe because there was a strong focus on building up a relationship with one horse, a stark comparison to the world of flat racing where jockeys rode different horses all the time.

Moore is in Melbourne for the Spring Carnival and is working for a racing website focusing on the form of the international horses.

Her brother Ryan will ride Bondi Beach on the big day and Moore got her own taste of the Melbourne Cup in 2009, when she was strapper and track rider for third-place getter Mourilyan.

She has not done much race-calling since her competition win, but hopes to do it again in the future.

Learning the craft, she was grateful for the encouragement of Australia's only female race caller, Victoria Shaw.

Moore said she was keen to do well in the competition to prove it was not impossible for a woman to call a race, although she said did they did face some difficulties men did not.

"Maybe we just don't sound as good as males, particularly when you're reaching the final couple of hundred metres of a race," she said.

"You do find yourself genuinely getting excited, so your voice does go slightly high pitched and then it's not as enjoyable to listen to."


Laws to ban boat people from Australia

The federal government wants to pass laws to make sure no asylum seekers who tried to come to Australia by boat, even those found to be refugees, can ever enter the country.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the government will enshrine in law what had been a long-standing policy, going back to Kevin Rudd's second prime ministership in 2013.

"This is a tough message we are sending to the people smuggling syndicates and those who pay people smugglers to try and enter Australia," she told ABC TV today.

"They will not be settled in Australia and they won't be visiting Australia."

The laws are expected to apply to any asylum seeker sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea's Manus Island for offshore immigration processing.

The planned ban would apply whether or not they were found to be genuine refugees and will even extend to tourist visas.

Labor frontbencher Brendan O'Conner, who was reluctant to back the plan without seeing the legislation, says "it is a very vexed area". "With any legislation you want to look at it, see whether in fact it is fair and reasonable and is consistent with our own commitments internationally," he told Sky News.

Mr Turnbull later told reporters the laws would apply to anyone sent to a regional processing country since July 19, 2013 - the date Mr Rudd declared "asylum seekers that come to Australia by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia".

Mr Turnbull expects Labor and its leader Bill Shorten will support the laws, saying they are "entirely consistent with his party's stated public position".

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said it was too soon to determine if Labor would support the bill. "What I'd say is it's a distraction from Peter Dutton's hopeless mismanagement of his portfolio," she told reporters on the Gold Coast.

"It is extraordinary that, three years on, the government has not found third countries to resettle those people who are in limbo on Manus Island and Nauru." She said Mr Dutton needed to find a permanent resettlement option for these people left in limbo.


Data prompts debate on welfare and jobs

Cabinet ministers believe new figures showing thousands of parents on family benefits are financially better off not working demonstrates the need to rein in welfare spending.

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has refused to directly say whether people should not be paid more on welfare than if they work.

"I agree with the principle that the welfare system should always encourage people to get into employment," he told Neil Mitchell on 3AW radio on Friday. "We're dealing with people's lives here."

Mr Turnbull says the government needs to ensure it's providing the right level of support in a fair and compassionate way, but there must also be incentives for people to find work. "The best form of social welfare is a job."

Data obtained by The Australian newspaper shows the top 10 per cent of those on parenting benefits - about 43,200 people - received at least $45,032 in 2014/15.

"We do have a generous safety net, but also, people need to be part of our society, part of our community, working and making a difference," cabinet minister Christopher Pyne told the Nine Network.

One of the government's first measures to change the system is a $96 million Try, Test, Learn fund for trials of intervention programs to help welfare-dependent young families.

Mr Pyne said it was designed to help families, especially single parent households, to get back into the workforce with training.

"Ninety six million (dollars), I can tell you, to try and do that, is a drop in the ocean compared to the billions of dollars that we are trying to save by having welfare reform, which the Labor party is blocking in the Senate with the Greens," he said.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter, who is leading the welfare changes, told The Australian depriving people the incentive to work was in no one's interest.

"It is morally incumbent upon us in that in developing policy ... and in making the welfare system fairer we look at mutual obligation and the requirement to prepare for, search for and accept work," he said.

Ahead of a meeting with his New Zealand counterpart in Sydney, Treasurer Scott Morrison said the existing system is saying to people: "you will take home less if you actually go out and get a job".

"It is a crying shame that some Australians would have to take a pay cut to get a job in this country because of the way our welfare system works," he told reporters.

Mr Morrison said the Try, Test, Learn fund was based on a similar model in NZ and was about finding the right answers to stop people being welfare-dependent.

But Labor leader Bill Shorten is worried people can't find work.

"If you want to do something about welfare, have a plan for jobs," he told reporters in Wollongong.

"I'm concerned that we've got a government in Canberra which isn't fair dinkum about ensuring that people on welfare get the opportunity to get good, blue-collar jobs."

Mr Shorten said the coalition was trying to distract from its own problems by demonising people who recieve a pension and putting them in the "sin-bin".


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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

New photos show worst coral bleaching to date: A third of the Great Barrier Reef is affected

You can of course prove anything with photos. The previous reports from this lot were found to be vastly exaggerated so this report should also be taken with a large grain of salt.  Reading between the lines, I gather that most of the reef has already recovered from the earlier bleaching but the recovery has been uneven so far.

More corals are dying and others are succumbing to disease and predators after the worst-ever bleaching on Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef.

A swathe of corals bleached in the northern third of the 1,429-mile (2,300-kilometre) long biodiverse site off the Queensland state coast died after an unprecedented bleaching earlier this year as sea temperatures rose.

And researchers who returned to the region to survey the area this month said 'many more have died more slowly'.

On the surface, coral bleaching looks like white, bleached-out coral reefs - quite a departure from the usual colourful structures.

Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.

Andrew Hoey, from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said: 'In March, we measured a lot of heavily bleached branching corals that were still alive, but we didn't see many survivors this week.

'On top of that, snails that eat live coral are congregating on the survivors, and the weakened corals are more prone to disease. 'A lot of the survivors are in poor shape.'

Greg Torda, whose team recently returned from re-surveying reefs near Lizard Island, said the amount of live coral covering the island fell from about 40 per cent in March to under five per cent.

It is the third time in 18 years that the World Heritage-listed site, which teems with marine life, has experienced mass bleaching after previous events in 1998 and 2002.

The researchers said even though they were still assessing the final death toll from bleaching in the north, 'it is already clear that this event was much more severe than the two previous bleachings'. They expect to complete all their surveys by mid-November.

Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour

The reef's northern 700-kilometre section bore the brunt of the breaching during March and April, with the southern areas 'only lightly bleached and remain in good condition'

The reef's northern 700-kilometre section bore the brunt of the breaching during March and April, with the southern areas 'only lightly bleached and remain in good condition'

The reef's northern 435-mile (700-kilometre) section bore the brunt of the breaching during March and April, with the southern areas 'only lightly bleached and remain in good condition', the scientists added.

'As we expected from the geographic pattern of bleaching, the reefs further south are in much better shape,' said Andrew Baird, who led the re-surveys of reefs in the central section.

'There is still close to 40 per cent coral cover at most reefs in the central Great Barrier Reef, and the corals that were moderately bleached last summer have nearly all regained their normal colour.'

The reef is already under pressure from farming run-off, development, the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish as well as the impacts of climate change, with a government report last week painting a bleak picture of the natural wonder.


Cassie Jaye’s Red Pill too truthful for feminists to tolerate

“The Red Pill: The movie about men that feminists didn’t want you to see.” This was the provocative headline that ran in Britain’s The Telegraph last November, a teaser for a documentary made by a feminist filmmaker who planned to take on men’s rights activists but was won over and crossed to the dark side to take up their cause.

Despite a ferocious campaign to stop the movie being made, it’s finally been released and the Australian screening was due next week in Melbourne. However the gender warriors have struck again, using a petition to persuade Palace Cinemas to cancel the booking. Palace took the decision after being told the movie would offend many in its core audience but by yesterday 8000 had signed petitions protesting the ban. Organisers are now scrambling to find another venue.

Clearly this documentary has the feminists very worried — with good reason. Cassie Jaye is an articulate, 29-year-old blonde whose previous movies on gay marriage and abstinence education won multiple awards. But then she decided to interview leaders of the Men’s Rights Movement for a documentary she was planning about rape culture on American campuses. As a committed feminist, Jaye expected to be unimpressed by these renowned hate-filled misogynists, but to her surprise she was exposed to a whole range of issues she came to see as unfairly stacked against men and boys.

As news of this very public conversion started to leak out, Jaye came under attack. She was smeared, told she was committing “career suicide” and saw her funding dry up to the point where it looked as if the movie would never be made. Prominent feminists she had planned to interview refused to participate; none of the “human rights” funding she hoped to attract proved available for a documentary on men’s rights.

Then a Kickstarter fund raised $211,260, ensuring the movie’s cinematic release. Over the past month there have been screenings in the US, and hopefully Australian audiences will eventually get to see what the fuss is all about.

The title The Red Pill refers to a scene in The Matrix when Keanu Reeves’s character takes the red pill to expose “the truth” that challenges his closely held beliefs. Jaye’s The Red Pill reveals a world where the cultural dialogue is dominated by feminists still complaining that men have all the power, yet the “truth” in most Western countries is that many laws, attitudes and social conventions make life tough for men. Her fly-on-the-wall technique includes interviews with Men’s Rights Movement leaders such as Paul Elam and feminists who oppose the movement, graphics and animations revealing facts about family law and child custody, male suicide rates and the not-so-privileged side of traditional manhood, such as the 90 per cent of workplace fatalities that are male.

There’s a powerful interview with Erin Pizzey, who is no longer allowed near the British women’s refuge she started back in the 1970s, the first in the world. Pizzey ran afoul of the sisterhood by campaigning to expose the truth about women’s role in domestic violence.

Jaye shows feminist protesters shutting down a talk at a Toronto campus by men’s activist Warren Farrell, screeching at a young man who tried to attend and berating him as “f..king scum”, and on another occasion setting off a fire alarm in a building where a men’s rights lecture was to be held.

There’s discussion of men’s lack of reproductive rights, which includes a clip from a chat show where the audience cheers when a woman whose husband is resisting a second child says she’s considering going off birth control without telling him.

Reaction to the movie has been mixed, with the flamboyant anti-feminist Milo Yiannopoulos describing it as “a powerful film on a complicated, important, yet woefully unaddressed issue”. He applauds Jaye for “having the intestinal fortitude to not only tackle this subject, but to do so fairly”. Predictably, the movie has been panned by the left-wing The Village Voice, which calls Jaye an “MRM-bankrolled propagandist”, and the Los Angeles Times, whose reviewer claims she failed to understand “patriarchal systems”.

Stephen Marche in The Guardian admits that “men do sometimes suffer mistreatment from the courts or from the women in their lives”, but suggests the film fails to demonstrate any systemic cause. “Instead, the author of men’s troubles here is always that vague bugaboo feminism, which we’re told is designed to silence its opponents,” sniffs Marche.

That’s pretty ironic, given this “vague bugaboo” persists in trying to silence Jaye’s attempts to tell this story. As she points out in her movie, the issues she examines came as a revelation not only to her but to many others exposed to the material she put together. That bugaboo carries a lot of clout.


Waleed’s Inconvenient Truth

Waleed Aly has taken to the NY Times to tear shreds into Australia’s offshore detention, using the world stage to claim we are responsible for lowering global standards on refugee policy.

He paints a picture of the everyday Australian, as people who just don’t care, that are sedated by Australian political rhetoric.

It seems that these bleeding hearts seem to conveniently forget that over 1200 lives were lost under the Rudd & Gillard Labor governments.  Waleed’s attempt to label Australians as unintelligent people who simply swallow whatever sedative the Australian Government feeds us is downright offensive.  Many Australians are concerned about the loss of life of refugees in detention, many are especially concerned about the children in detention.  But the majority of Australians are able to recognise the truth, in Waleed’s eyes the “inconvenient truth”.

In a statement from Senator George Brandis to the Australian Human Rights Commission, George wrote “The Rudd Government’s dismantling of the Howard Government’s successful border protection policies directly resulted in more than 51,000 illegal maritime arrivals, including more than 8,400 children, while it has been estimated that at least 1,200 people (including hundreds of children) perished at sea.”

Waleed seems to completely reject the lives that have been saved “So Australia’s detention regime becomes virtuous, brutality repackaged as compassion.” Waleed wrote.

Waleed continues in the article raising concerns of the deaths in custody and claiming we have inadequate medical care “Those languishing in detention centres, even the people who die there thanks to violence or woefully inadequate medical care for simple afflictions, they’re just a warning to others who might be tempted onto a boat.” Waleed wrote.

We can acknowledge that since 2010 there have been 33 recorded deaths of asylum seekers in immigration detention facilities, this pales in comparison to the 1200 that died over a few years under the Rudd & Gillard government.  But of course that doesn’t fit the narrative or agenda being pushed by Waleed.  If he really cared about the welfare of refugees then he would back the very strong deterrent we have in place that has potentially stopped thousands of deaths.

Surprisingly enough Waleed didn’t really touch on the number of children in detention, maybe he knew that if he did, then some damaging statistics would come out.  Currently there are fewer than 5 children in detention, whilst astonishingly Labor actually had nearly 2,000 children in detention at its peak in July 2013.  So why under the Labor government were there so many children in custody? The answer is simple, with no deterrent in place large numbers of boat people made the journey to Australia.  All of these asylum seekers can’t simply walk on shore and suddenly be an Australian citizen, no they need to be placed into an onshore detention centre, where they are assessed before either being sent back home or granted refugee status. This is to ensure that there is a fair and orderly queue in Australia’s refugee program and also to ensure the security of Australia is protected. There is no doubt that the humane option for all involved is to continue with offshore processing.  Lives are saved on the sea and we don’t have to see large number of children stuck in detention.

Waleed, next time you decide to attack a nation that has given you so much, at least have the stats to back up your claims.


Melbourne high school teacher says she would refuse to teach ‘lewd’ safe schools and respectful relationships program

A MELBOURNE high school teacher says she would refuse to teach “lewd” material in the Victorian government’s mandatory respectful relationships program to be introduced in all state schools next year.

Moira Deeming, a teacher and mother-of-three, said she was shocked by the content and would rather be fired from her job than teach such “sleazy, unnecessary drivel” to her students.

Ms Deeming, 33, said educating children as young as 12 about porn and getting them to have classroom discussions about masturbation and sex was not appropriate and would not help to stop gender-based violence and discrimination as the program intended.

Under the program, children as young as prep are also being introduced to same-sex relationships through children’s books, including Tango Makes Three, a tale about two male penguins who adopt a baby penguin.

The book has been banned in Singapore and after parent outrage was scrapped from some school libraries in the UK and the US. It also featured in the most complained about books in America over five consecutive years for “promoting a homosexual agenda”.

“I feel that this program is bullying male students and stigmatising and stereotyping them — the absolute opposite to what it is supposed to do,” she told the Sunday Herald Sun. “It really does build up stereotypes. It doesn’t tear them down.

“If I was asked to teach it, I couldn’t let it out of my mouth. I’d have to be fired.”

Debate has raged about the content, particularly how students are taught about “male privilege” and that masculinity is associated with higher rates of violence against women, since the government made public the classroom resources of its Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships program earlier this month.

The $21.8 million program, a recommendation from the royal commission into family violence, also offers explicit videos to students entering secondary school giving sexual advice in an upbeat way, including that “you don’t have to have an ‘inney’ and an ‘outey’. You can have two inneys or two outeys” to have sex.

Also in the teaching tools for prep students, teachers are recommended to get further information and activities from the learning resource All of Us from the controversial Safe Schools program, which is aimed at much older students in secondary school to teach and increase students’ understanding and awareness of gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex topics.

In this, one classroom activity suggests dividing the students in half and asking one side to imagine they are 16 and in a same-sex relationship; and the other half in a heterosexual relationship, before asking a series of questions, including would they feel comfortable telling their parents about their relationship.

Ms Deeming, who is a member of the Liberal party, has joined concerned parents and politicians to call on the Andrews Government to review the age appropriateness of the program’s content.

In the upper house this week, Democratic Labor Party MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins said the program focused on a “misguided feminist and gender ideology”, alienating and shaming boys by portraying masculinity as bad and women as always being victims.

Metropolitan Region Upper House MP Inga Peulich told parliament it was a “light version” of Safe Schools that targeted younger children.

Safe Schools is only mandatory in high school, while respectful relationships will be rolled out to all year levels from prep to Year 12.

“Victorian parents are concerned about the age appropriateness of the content being presented,” Ms Peulich said.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling called the program “radical” and said the biggest concern is that parents had not been consulted or given consent.

“Parents want their kids to fundamentally learn how to read, write and count. Parents wouldn’t have expected content on transgender as part of a family violence program,” he said.

But Education Minister James Merlino stood by the program in its entirety and called on those opposing it to “stop playing politics” so violence against women could be stopped.


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

Friday, October 28, 2016


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks the Leftist machine might soon have a clashing of gears

Australia's climate heating and drying out: report

The contemptible rubbish below comes from people who pretend that a global temperature rise of a few hundredths of one degree tells us something important.  It does not. Such rises are well within the error of measurement and are not statistically significant for a start.  And they would be trivial even if they were significant.

And when there was a rise of around a degree last year, it was due to El Nino.  El Nino was such a well known natural effect that they had to mention it below but, without mentioning a scrap of evidence, they dismissed it as a minor effect. 

Well let me mention some evidence.  The authors below imply that the temperature rise was part of a continuing warming process due to increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere.  So there must be some sign in the record that CO2 levels have increased recently.  But look at the CO2 levels from Australia's Cape Grim climate observatory over the heart of the El Nino period.

Within an accuracy of parts per billion, there was NO increase in CO2 levels at all!  The warming over the El Nino period was ENTIRELY natural, with NO contribution from a CO2 rise. CO2 levels did NOT rise so they CANNOT be responsible for the higher temperatures.

The article below is an egregious example of cherry-picking and outright lying

The biannual State of the Climate report from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO shows the effects of climate change are being felt in Australia.

Australia is becoming an even more sunburnt country with worse droughts and more extreme flooding rains.

The latest State of the Climate report, released on Thursday, shows the trends of climate change in Australia are continuing.

"Climate change is happening now; it's having a tangible impact on Australia," the Bureau of Meteorology's climate monitoring manager Karl Braganza told reporters.

The biannual snapshot, prepared by the bureau and CSIRO, shows the country is experiencing very hot days more frequently and rainfall is reducing across the southern part of the continent.

Between 1910 and 1941 there were 28 days when the national average temperature was in the top extremes recorded. In 2013 alone there were 28 such days.

Dr Braganza predicted the record-breaking extreme heat will be considered normal in 30 years' time.

The report also shows below average rainfall across southern Australian in 16 of the past 20 autumn-winter seasons.

"This decline in rainfall for southern Australia, 10 to 20 per cent might not sound like a lot but it's reducing at a time of year where typically we recharge the soil moisture and vegetation and water storages as well," Dr Braganza said.

A 10-15 per cent reduction in rainfall over winter can lead to a 60 per cent reduction in stream flow into water storages.

"That's what we're seeing in southwest WA where their water storages from essentially rainfall (dropped) in 2015 and they're using desal and groundwater to make up the difference," he said.

This combination of drying out and warmer weather increases fire danger, with the fire season already routinely extending into spring and autumn.

The report also shows 15 of the 16 hottest years on record were the past 15 years.

"The earth is warming," CSIRO climate science centre interim director Steve Rintoul said.

While there was some natural variability in temperature caused by effects such as El Nino and La Nina, it was not sufficient to drown out the overall trend towards increasing temperatures, he said.


Australians are in the midst of a potato shortage

This is a bit of a Furphy.  For a start, most vegetable have big price swings thoughout the year.  I buy tomatoes several times a week and I can never predict how much they are going to cost me.  Over quite a short time period, they can vary between a lot less than a dollar per tomato to over a dollar.  Why should potatoes be different?

Potatoes are grown in all Australian States.  They even grow in the tropics.   It is true that Victoria and Tasmania are major growing areas and that both have had a lot of rain recently so there will be some drop in the quantity sent to market overall. But there will still be plenty of spuds in the supermarkets, albeit at temporarily higher price

The potato industry is baked at the moment due to floods cleaning out crops across the country and wet ground has made it near impossible to plant more potatoes, meaning we will have to pay a small fortune for the starchy vegetable until at least February.

It’s not good news coming into barbecue season, with potato salads and potato bakes likely to be off the menu and hipsters may also need to give up their weekend potato rosti.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said in 2004 Australians were chomping through 63kg of mash, chips and other potato pleasures every year.

Brushed potatoes, the tasty ones covered in dirt, are what’s in low supply and Fairfax Media reports Aussie Farmers Direct has told customers it will only deliver red skin potatoes at the moment.

Potatoes are currently sold for about $3.50 a kilo at major supermarkets but that price is expected to hike as supply becomes limited.

Victorian potato grower Des Jennings said he would need a crystal ball to predict when potatoes would be replenished but thought it would be early next year.

Usually at this time of year, Mr Jennings has planted two thirds of his potato crop, but he said he isn’t even close to planting half because of how heavy rain has affected the soil.

Mr Jennings picked his potato crop four months ago and sold it for about $400 a tonne.

But now potatoes are going for up to $2000 a tonne, showing just how desperate people are becoming to get their hands on the vegetable.

“The growers who have potatoes are laughing,” Mr Jennings said.

“They are getting prices they haven’t seen before.

“But obviously a lot of farmers don’t have potatoes, which is why we have a shortage.”

Mr Jennings said demand had been constant for many years, and weather was the main blame for the shortage.

Mr Jennings grows his potatoes in Thorpdale, in Victoria’s Gippsland region, and he said most of the supermarkets already had their shelves cleared of brushed potatoes.

Lauren Rosewarne, from Melbourne University’s School of Social and Political Sciences, said a potato shortage was something to potentially worry about considering people before had died as a result.

She said however, stepping away from the hash browns and moving to other starchy vegetables could be a healthy decision.

“We’re not hearing of shortages in things like quinoa, and that’s the new superfood we are supposed to be eating at the moment,” she said.

“Sweet potato, that’s considered to be a nutritional powerhouse with a lot of similar properties to potatoes. But it has lower GI and not going to spike blood sugar and counts as a vegetable — potato actually doesn’t.”


How would Donald Trump fare under Australia's hate speech laws

There are just under two weeks to go before the US presidential election, a fact that would normally favour a candidate trailing in the polls. But in Trump’s case I suspect time is not his friend. Like a flaming zeppelin drifting toward the earth, Trump’s trajectory is set. The longer he remains aloft, the more spectacular the crash will be.

But on the morning of November 9, as Trump surveys the ruins of his presidential ambition, there is one humiliation he will be spared: he will not be hauled before Gillian Triggs to account for the blizzard of racial discrimination complaints that would surely be his had he run his campaign in Australia.

Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act might well have been written for Donald Trump. Section 18C, which makes it an offence to offend, insult or humiliate somebody on the basis of their race, more or less defines Trump’s entire candidacy.

On Monday, the New York Times published a compilation of Trump’s insults. The list ran to 6000 and took out two full pages.

Among Trump’s more spectacular barbs was this one, levelled against Mexican migrants: “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.’’

Even by the wide standards of American discourse, this is edgy stuff. To probe the relationship between immigration and crime is one thing. To label an entire community sex offenders is quite another.

And yet Americans took it in their stride.

I asked Professor James Allan of the Queensland University law faculty what the reaction would be if similar comments were made in Australia.

“It is almost certain that the Human Rights Commission as it’s presently constituted would, given a complaint, act,’’ Professor Allan said.

Surely a Trump-like figure would get off by citing 18D, the public-interest clause that exempts offensive comments provided they’re made reasonably and in good faith?

Doubtful, says Allan.

“If the Bolt case is anything to go by, it’d be a no-brainer. He’d lose for sure.’’

The Bolt case, of course, refers to the 2011 complaint against Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, whose comments about fair-skinned Aborigines saw him pinged under Section 18C. Factual errors and the “tone” of Bolt’s piece saw him stripped of any protection he might otherwise have enjoyed under 18D.

There is an implied right to political expression in the Australian Constitution, but that’s pretty vague too. To begin with, it’s not even written down.

In short, if Trump were an Australian politician it’s likely vast tracts of his speech would be declared unlawful. And that, I contend, would be a tragedy.

Trump is a charlatan and a buffoon and I sincerely hope he loses.

But by tapping into a well of discontent he has told America something vital about itself. He has shown America’s political classes just how far they have drifted from the concerns of their constituents. He has laid bare the anger of those who feel dispossessed by corporate greed. He has shown us there are two Americas: the affluent, cosmopolitan America of its coastal cities and a second America, one of shuttered factories and faltering local economies.

It is possible Trump could have done this another way - without, perhaps, vilifying 34 million Mexican Americans. But he didn’t. He did it this way.

The free flow of ideas, even the demented idea that Mexicans are rapists, is essential to democratic operation.

It is through debate that we locate truth and orientate ourselves as moral beings.

Outliers like Trump, Pauline Hanson and, if you like, Andrew Bolt, are essential to this process. By marking out the margins of an idea, they allow the rest of us to find its centre.

Trump’s wild exaggerations, his distortions and his lazy sloganeering have prompted a ferocious counter-attack that has told us more about the condition of our times than all the chin-stroking worthies on Q&A put together.

Having created Trump, Americans are now tearing him down.

But outliers are the targets of Australia’s 18C, which was passed in 1995 at a time when the cult of identity politics was in full flight. Back then its presence suggested a national nervousness, a quivering anxiety about where a freewheeling, full-throated debate might lead us.

Twenty years on and it seems little has changed.

My friend and colleague Bill Leak is to be summoned before the Human Rights Commission and made to answer for a cartoon depicting a drunken Aboriginal father who can’t remember the name of his delinquent son.

Leak, I hope, will get off - but not before he’s hauled through the wringer and made to answer charges that he’s a cold-blooded racist.

And for what? The idea at the heart of Leak’s cartoon - that parental neglect is a major problem within Aboriginal communities - is settled ground. Yet instead of debating its causes and possible solutions - a process that might actually yield some good - we are distracted by a foolish argument about whether Leak should have raised it at all.

Then there is the bizarre example of the same-sex marriage plebiscite, where Australians have spent two months furiously debating whether or not it’s safe to have a debate.

Foreigners love to laugh at America. We love to laugh at its excesses, its gaudiness. We cringe at its tub-thumping patriotism and recoil at the gun-toting fatties in their Make America Great t-shirts.

But Americans would never tolerate this. They have a thousand times the cultural confidence of we Australians, or anyone else for that matter.

Long after Donald Trump has stormed off the political stage, Americans will be arguing long and hard about what this bizarre episode in their history has meant.

Thank god they don’t have 18C to stop them.


What's really behind Australia's declining international education results

Not mentioned below is that Australia has taken in a lot of Africans and Muslims recently.  Both groups have markedly lower IQs than the host population, so their children will too -- leading to poorer educational performance overall

Australian students' slide in the international benchmarks for reading and numeracy may not be the fault of the students, the teachers, or even the school system, says Finnish education expert Pasi Sahlberg.

He argues there is a key factor being overlooked, a shift so profound and complete we've almost forgotten life without it: the rise of the smartphone.

Finnish education guru Pasi Sahlberg explains how Finland built its highly regarded education system.

And Professor Sahlberg predicts a tobacco and big sugar-style marketing war between edutech-company-backed research and independent research in the next five years, over whether more technology in the classroom is beneficial or harmful to kids.

"We are not paying attention to the very rapidly increased use of screen technology," he said. "The first three PISAs were in 2000, 2003 and 2006, this thing didn't exist. There were no iPads or smartphones.

"So if you look at kids in Australia, they used a fraction of the time they use today with different types of smartphones and iPads and computer screens compared to the first three."

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests are run every three years by the OECD, comparing a sample of 15-year-olds in different countries on reading, maths and science.

As Australia's results have slipped against other countries, policy-makers and school systems have scrambled to figure out what's going wrong.

But Professor Sahlberg, who has recently returned with his family to Helsinki after three years working at Harvard in the US, said the decline in PISA performance is happening in all western countries.

"Reading performance has been drastically declining in Finland because of this. Our pedagogy and teaching has not changed, the curriculum has not changed. So how else can you explain this dramatic change?"

A second key factor, he said, is that the East Asian countries, which are rising strongly in the PISA rankings, drill their student populations and teach to the test.

"I go to Singapore, I do a lot of work in South Korea, it's all over the place. They have practice halls for the PISA. They practice using the PISA test items so the kids are familiar with that type of thing."

East Asian countries enrol the majority of students in "cram schools" or private tuition, where gadgets are banned while they study, he said. 

"It doesn't really tell you how good the overall system is. It tells you how good the system is at taking these particular tests. It's a different thing."

Professor Sahlberg has been a teacher, educator and policy adviser in Finland, and wrote the book Finnish Lessons 2.0: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland.

He told an audience of education leaders in Sydney on Thursday that it is just a theory, but research on the intrusion of digital technology is ramping up. Studies such as Growing Up Digital in Canada were reporting disturbing preliminary results, he said, with some making the argument that digital immersion changes the way children think and process information in a way that may make deeper learning difficult.

"We're going to see with in the future, a next five years, a war between these kind of research studies, trying to show that doing more screen time [in the classroom] at the time when it's already controlling the lives of young people doesn't make any sense; and then the tech companies will say if you build your teaching and learning around the technology you will decrease the dropout rate and increase the graduation rates - we' re going to see a lot of that in the future."

A frequent visitor to Australia, he is not here to sell the popular line that Finland is the perfect education system, and in fact argues that NSW could teach Finland a thing or two.

"I don't think that Finland has the magic answer to education or anything – no country whatsoever has that. In a way that's a myth."

What Finland does get right, he says, is its child-focused approach, with an emphasis on play, a later school starting age (7), and letting each child develop at their own pace.

"This conversation of having an extended childhood where children can play and be themselves, learn to be with other people – was recognised an important thing [in Finland].

"One thing that distinguishes Australia and Finland is we have much less concern about academic performance in the early years than you have here."

But he said Finland's student population was changing significantly due to increased migration, from almost zero immigrants 20 years ago to around 7 per cent and rising today.

"I think Finland can learn a great deal from Australia, NSW in particular. About what the system should do to be good for everybody, good for Aboriginal and minority children. This is something we are learning in my country right now."

Professor Sahlberg is in Sydney following a tour of regional and remote schools with Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, giving a speech on Thursday about the results of a study of the NSW school system that he supervised at Harvard. He said Australia has a far better system than the US.

An article by a US academic William Doyle who lived for six months in Finland published by Fairfax Media – Why Finland has the best schools – remains among the best read articles on the SMH website. Professor Sahlberg chuckled when I told him this.

"That was my friend," he said. "He's writing from the position of an American."


China is now Australia's biggest wine exports market

The massive growth in China’s middle class has been a godsend for the Australian wine industry, with exports jumping 51% in the last year to $474 million, making it the top export market by value for the first time.

The rise of China is no more apparent than in the fact that just a decade ago, sales there were worth just $27 million.

Wine Australia’s Export Report, released today, reveal double digital growth for local exporters in the 12 months to 30 September 2016, up 10% to a total value of $2.17 billion.

Overseas fans are not only drinking more, they’re drinking better, with bottled exports up 14% to $1.8 billion and the average value increasing by 9% to $5.47 per litre, a 13-year high.

Only the UK disappointed, posting a small drop in sales, down 1% to $361 million.

Europe overall disappointed, down 3% to $570 million. Northeast Asia is now Australia’s number one export region, growing 35% – $177 million – to $678 million.

North America was up 3% to $639 million, while Southeast Asia grew 11% to $152 million.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said more than half of the total value of growth in the last 12 months was in wines priced at $10 or more per litre.

Growth in the premium price segments (detailed below) added more than $120 million in value.

"Of the 1743 active exporters across the period, 70% contributed to the value growth, an outstanding result. The value of exports grew in 81 of the 122 destinations for Australian wine," Clark said.

Exports priced $10 and more per litre FOB (free on board, the value of the wine leaving Australia, excluding transport costs) were up in all top five markets ­– mainland China by 63%, the US by 21%, the United Kingdom by 20%, Canada by 9%, and Hong Kong by 7 per cent.

Clark said the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement also contributed to the stellar result in that market.

More than a third of Australian wine exports priced $10 and more per litre FOB were destined for China, valued at $190 million and up by 63%.

Negociants International executive director Adam O’Neill said demand premium wines in China showed no signs of abating, with online platforms such as Alibaba’s TMall helping Australian exporters find new customers.

Exports to Malaysia jumped 24% to $55 million, Taiwan was up 23% to $19 million and South Korea 42% to $14 million.

Japan posted a small decline of 0.3 per cent to $45 million, due to a decline in bulk wine exports.

Australia’s top five export markets by value:

· Mainland China – $474 million up 51%

· US – $448 million up 4%

· UK – $361 million down 3%

· Canada ­– $190 million up 1%

· Hong Kong ­– $126 million up 7%.


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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Parents' outrage over educational program that teaches children 'men are the greatest threat to women'

Rampant feminism.  The hate never stops

The organisers of an educational program which teaches school children 'men are the greatest threat to women' have received a barrage of hate mail.

Privately run Frame Initiatives travels between about 30 Western Australian schools to teach children about respectful relationships.

Last week, a Perth student set off outrage when he took a picture of a slide with the words 'globally and historically, men are the greatest threat to women' and posted it online, The Australian reported. The slide was part of the Men of Respect workshop for boys in Years 7 to 9.

Director Dan McGrechan said the words were taken out context and was referencing US comedian Louie C.K.  The controversial statement was intended to 'stimulate discussion', he told The Australian.

Critics have accused Frame of teaching superficial and biased content.

The barrage of hate mail appears to have led organisers to delete the Frame Twitter account.

The programs for girls include Please Like Me and Back Off: Sexual Harassment. Other programs for boys, aside from the Men of Respect workshop in question, include Problems with Porn, Sexual Harassment, and Date Rape and Consent.


Police forcibly remove Sydney College of the Arts student barricade after 65 days

Student activists who barricaded themselves inside a University of Sydney building to protest proposed cuts to the Sydney College of the Arts have been forcibly removed after 65 days.

The students had occupied the top floor of the administrative building since August 22 in opposition to planned campus, course and staff cuts, before they were evicted by police and security guards on Tuesday morning.

Sydney College of the Arts students, staff and friends protest in July about University of Sydney plans to relocate and downsize the SCA.

Protesters claim they were treated unfairly and with unnecessary force when they were ousted, and vowed not to stop fighting the changes.

"This will only strengthen the resolve of the 'Let SCA Stay' campaign to continue to fight for the arts and for the interests of the public," protester Stephen Dobson said.

The University of Sydney said it was reluctant to remove the activists and supported their right to protest, but warned students who took part in any further campus barricades could be expelled.

"It has chosen not to do so at this stage, but students and their representative groups have been warned that any further attempt to occupy could see the university exercise this right," a University of Sydney spokesperson said.


Judge backs wife: Islamic ‘divorce on the porch’ not on

The Family Court of Australia has refused a Muslim husband’s effort to divorce his wife under Islamic law under conditions that would have left her with 10 per cent of their million-dollar property pool.

The wife, who cannot be named but is known in court documents as Ms Basra, appealed to the Family Court for help after her husband attempted to get out of the marriage, which produced three children, for $100,000, ­despite having more than $1 million in assets.

The husband, known as Mr Ahmed, wanted the court to recognise an Islamic divorce he says took place on his porch in 2009, with a sheik and several other men as witnesses. But Ms Basra denied she had taken part in such a ceremony and produced an official document from Beirut that recorded her husband as married to two women — herself and a second wife — rather than having been divorced and remarried.

The court heard the couple was married in an Islamic ceremony in Australia, and again in Lebanon in July 1997, when Ms Basra was 18. He was 10 years older. The Lebanese marriage was recognised under Australian law.

Mr Ahmed told the court, with judge Garry Watts presiding, that he divorced his wife in 2009 in front of a sheik and “a number of other men” from the community.

He said the sheik asked his wife whether she wished to go through with the divorce, and whether she understood her entitlements under Islamic law, which were vastly less than she would have­ ­received under Australian law, as a full-time mother of three.

He said he then divorced his wife by uttering the words “I ­divorce you” in front of witnesses, and both parties signed the statement of Islamic divorce.

Ms Basra admitted she had been taking a single-parent payment from Centrelink for several years, saying she had done so only after her husband told her to “call Centrelink, and tell them we are separated but living under one roof so you receive the single parent benefit payment”.

Justice Watts said it was unclear from her evidence whether she had done so because she believed they were actually separated or was defrauding the taxpayer.

Counsel for the husband argued Ms Basra was “attempting to portray herself as this downtrodden, under-the-thumb Islamic woman”. The wife “quite candidly conceded this was exactly how she saw herself”, and she was “cynically trying to present her husband as (a) barbaric, misogynist, Arab man”. The wife presented evidence of three apprehended violence orders she had taken against him during the marriage.

The husband argued against a settlement larger than $100,000, saying his assets had been boosted more than $150,000 by compensation for an accident. He said he had given his wife more than 2kg of gold, valued at $115,000; she said it was more like four gold bangles, a necklace and ring.

Judge Watts ruled the divorce on the porch “is not a divorce that would be recognised under Australian law” and ordered a 70-30 settlement in the wife’s favour — partly because he believed the husband had access to resources beyond those he had declared.


Why a Qld ambulance officer described Dreamworld victims as having suffered ‘injuries incompatible with life’

AMID the unfolding tragedy of four deaths on a ride at Dreamworld on Tuesday, an ambulance officer’s seemingly heartless description of the victims’ injuries had social media in uproar.

It caused a social media maelstrom, with many attacking the Gold Coast's acting supervising officer — and the media for reporting it — for a seemingly cold description so soon after four deaths.

But the clearly shaken, senior officer, facing a live national television cross fresh from leaving the grisly scene, was using a clinical term commonly used by medical professionals, police and other emergency services.

Unknown to many was that the term gave a sad insight into the extent of the injuries the victims suffered.

When injuries are deemed by paramedics to be so severe that they are “incompatible with life”, CPR is deemed a futile exercise.

The Queensland Ambulance Service official clinical practice guidelines for resuscitation outline a number of instances in which CPR should not be attempted.

They include where the patient has sustained injuries that are “totally incompatible with life”.

Many social media users rushed to defend Mr Fuller’s use of the term on live television.

A 32-year-old woman and her 35-year-old brother were killed in Tuesday afternoon’s tragedy, which happened on the Thunder River Rapids Ride. The man’s 38-year-old male partner also died. All three were from Canberra. The woman’s 12-year-old daughter was thrown clear of the ride and watched in horror as her mother and uncles perished. Another unrelated woman, 42, from Sydney was also killed. Her 10-year-old son was also thrown free from the raft and watched his mother die.


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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Amazing public hospital failure

A bureaucratic disgrace. More careless treatment would be hard to imagine

A former Socceroo died in hospital because his urinary catheter was wrongly connected to an oxygen supply, leading to a burst bladder and collapsed lungs, a coroner has heard.

An inquest is being held into the death of Steve Herczeg at Adelaide's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on September 19.

"The coroner will hear that Mr Herczeg's oxygen supply was incorrectly connected, resulting in his bladder inflating with oxygen, then bursting and his lungs collapsing from the pressure of the oxygen," counsel assisting Naomi Kereru told the South Australian Coroner's Court on Monday.

The court heard Mr Herczeg, 72, who was the first South Australian to play for Australia in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match, was admitted to hospital because he had had a fall and was having hallucinations.

He was also suffering from a urinary tract infection, for which a catheter had already been inserted, but was considered clinically stable when admitted to the respiratory ward and placed on oxygen therapy, Ms Kereru said.

Soon after his admission, a nurse heard screams of pain coming from Mr Herczeg's room and a code blue was called. An emergency team attempted to resuscitate him but was unsuccessful.

The doctor who performed the autopsy found Mr Herczeg's bladder had ruptured and his lungs had collapsed, causing his death by "respiratory failure".

"I understand his oxygen supply somehow became connected to his catheter," forensic pathologist Stephen Wills told the court.

"The bladder ruptured, allowing the gas into the rest of his body."

Dr Wills said it was highly unusual for the tubes to be mixed up the way they were.

"I've never come across it before," he said.

He said it would have been "quite painful" when Mr Herczeg's bladder burst and while the former soccer star was already suffering from respiratory disease, the injuries would likely have killed any healthy person.


Ballarat police again accused of misconduct, heavy-handedness with assault victim

Ballarat police officers have been accused of dragging the victim of a violent assault along the ground, before charging her with assaulting her alleged attacker.

On May 17, Ballarat police were called to an assault in the city's north where they arrested a 43-year-old woman. The woman, who only wants to be known as Sofia, had been the victim of a brutal assault with a tyre iron.

"I just thought I was gonna die," she said. "I was really dizzy and I was on the grass and I just said to myself, I need to stand up and defend myself."

Sofia, who is from South America, said she became panicked and erratic when she saw her alleged attacker, a neighbour, speaking with police.

Her lawyer, Neil Longmore, questioned how officers then reacted.  "The police seemed to think that was reason to then handcuff her and throw her on the ground and start dragging her around and drag her to the ambulance," he said.

Sofia said: "I just want to be helped. Protected." "I was treated like an animal," she said.

Sofia was taken to hospital where she received 14 stitches on the back of her head, and the side of her face. She went home but hours later was woken up by police who arrested her.

"I said 'why am I being arrested if I'm the victim?'. He says, 'it happened, the same thing with your neighbour, don't worry'," Sofia said.

Mr Longmore said bias against his client was a common thread throughout the interview. "She clearly thinks that she's giving them information because they're investigating what's happening to her, not that she's going to be charged," he said.

"She should've been not just read her rights, she should've understood her rights and I think you can see there's a pretty clear line between when somebody's just being read them and doesn't understand them.

"If you do understand your rights in that situation, you certainly shouldn't be giving the police information because they're just about to use that against you to charge you."

Sofia said she thought she was helping with the investigation.

"Just at the end of the interview I understood that they [were] intending since the beginning [to] charge me, whatever I was going to say," she said.

"[The interviewing officer] was repeatedly saying ... 'so you attacked him? Did you attack him?' "And I was trying to say that I was fighting for my life."

Sofia was charged with recklessly causing injury and assault with a weapon, which referred to the mop she used to defend herself, and was served with an intervention order.

The charges were ultimately withdrawn when she appeared at the Ballarat Magistrates Court.

Sofia said she had no faith in Victoria Police's complaints process and instead made a complaint to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), alleging officers failed to investigate her case properly.

Her lawyer, Mr Longmore said: "What she really would like is an apology and a proper investigation of what occurred and some better training for police, or younger ones who seem to fall into this conduct."

"There's something not quite right about the police training that allows them to just roll through those rights ... go ahead with their interview ... and use it against a person and the person hasn't understood what's going on."

Sofia said she wanted justice. "I don't think they are prepared, prepared to treat people to protect people. I almost died and they did nothing to help me," she said. Victoria Police said the investigation was ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment.


Green activist ban on Turnbull agenda

Malcolm Turnbull has flagged a fresh attempt at passing laws to prevent environmentalists using the courts to block major projects, before his week-long visit to Queensland.

Labor and the Greens blocked a previous attempt by the Abbott government to prevent people with political agendas from using the courts to disrupt and delay projects such as coal mines.

The prime minister told reporters in Sydney, on the eve of a Brisbane cabinet meeting, he appreciated the value of a "robust democracy".

"People are entitled to bring their cases before the court, but there is no doubt there has been very systematic, very well funded campaigns against major projects," Mr Turnbull said.

"It's right to express concern about that."

He said the government would test whether the new Senate - which has nine Greens and 11 minor party members on the crossbench - has the "appetite" to reconsider the Abbott government bill.

Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said such laws were important, especially given the increasing role of foreign interests in lobbying against resources projects.

But he said the federal government should go further and reassess taxpayer subsidies for "green activist" groups.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he was concerned environmental activism and poor management by the Queensland Labor government were holding back major projects.

"I certainly don't take this place for granted, Malcolm doesn't take it for granted and we want to make sure we drag other people along with us on this path of making Queensland a stronger place," he told reporters in Brisbane.

The Greens want a ban on fracking and all coal seam gas and shale development.


This should be end of the road for Gillian Triggs

The idea of human rights is so powerful that those who would ­violate it in the privacy of their torture chambers are compelled to swear fealty to it in public discourse.

Yet established protections have come under growing stress with a gap between commitments and practice. In theory, human rights commissions are instruments to arrest the slide. But when the guardians begin to damage the institutions they lead and the cause they are meant to champion and defend, they should relinquish or be relieved of office. We seem to be at that stage with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

In “correcting” her October 18 testimony to a Senate estimates committee denying statements ­attributed to her, AHRC president Gillian Triggs said that on “further reflection”, she now accepted the accuracy of her April interview in The Saturday Paper. But was it further reflection or the revelation that the interview tape contradicted her denials that prompted her to correct the record?

She also said: “I had no intention of questioning The Saturday Paper’s journalistic integrity.” Pardon? Accusing the paper of inaccurate reporting, taking words out of context and even fabricating quotes was not intentionally impugning the professional integrity of Ramona Koval and the editors in order to cover her own loose words? Triggs has done much good and some of the past attacks on her have been scurrilous. But the effort to mislead parliament and the attempt to damage the professional reputation of a writer to save face make her position untenable.

The priority for a race discrimination commissioner should be reconciliation. Tim Soutphommasane has succeeded in ­inflaming divisions further instead of promoting social cohesion. In criticising elected politicians as an appointed official, he betrays arrogance. In inviting complaints about Bill Leak’s cartoon — satire at its biting best — which he then must adjudicate, he compromised the commission’s institutional integrity. In repeated statements, he fails to grasp that anti-discrimination efforts must sit within the framework of human rights.

Behind the individual failings of the two stands a law that should never have been passed, abuse and excesses under which are pretty much guaranteed, and which therefore would have been rescinded by any government which values core freedoms that underpin liberal democracy. The reason the law survives is a flawed philosophical structure propping it up, namely the progressive subordination of human rights to anti-discrimination machinery.

The promotion and protection of human rights is a bedrock requirement for a liberal society. But different groups of rights demonstrate an ambivalent relationship with governments. Individual human rights can be abused most pervasively and systematically by governments. Yet their protection requires the appropriate legal framework and enforcement machinery of the state. For social and economic rights, the state is the primary provider and guarantor. The same is true of the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, religion and so on.

However, anti-discrimination rights, designed to protect against harmful action, have increasingly morphed into the right not to be offended. The citadels of liberal freedoms have been stormed by ­illiberal zealots to mock the very values of tolerance and diversity that sustained their gains. Out-of- control anti-discrimination tribunals have become the tool to enforce political correctness by state power. They attack not so much the particulars of any concrete case as the general principle of dissenters’ right to express a contrary opinion. The debate is no longer about any given issue or case but about the freedom to debate.

Social stigma and public shaming have become the favoured tools of identity activists, with the help of useful idiots in politics, to place increasing areas of policy off limits to public debate. In the name of pursuing tolerance for ­minorities, zealots are increasingly intolerant of those with differing views. This explains the perversion that institutions meant to defend human rights instead lead the assault on human rights. The result is minority fundamentalism with all the trappings of religious fundamentalism: certainty about truth and falsehood, intolerance of dissent and fanatical imposition of ideological purity.

This includes restrictions on US university campuses, which should be the bastions of debate that raises critical, contrarian, challenging and uncomfortable questions. Instead, concepts such as trigger alert, micro-aggression, safe spaces and the right not to be offended or hurt by a lengthening list of proscribed words have trampled on free speech rights. Meanwhile, an increasingly intolerant India has been transformed into the republic of hurt sentiments as litigious “offendees” haul writers and artists, those who have escaped vigilante lynch mobs, to courts that can take decades to decide cases.

The road-to-tyranny threat posed by this trend of narrowing speech rights is shown by two cases the AHRC has badly mishandled, confirming that political judgment may be more important than legal qualifications to be president.

Because Leak’s cartoon of parental neglect of indigenous children in remote outback com­munities was essentially true (satire doesn’t work without the kernel of truth), it hurt, and some people take offence at truth that hurts. Those who recognise Leak is speaking truth to the power of political correctness and act to rectify the pathology will advance the cause of reciprocal racial respect. By contrast, a Queensland University of Technology staffer has done more harm than good to the cause of reconciliation by her too precious claims of racial hurt that requires $250,000 to be assuaged.

The Australian has the resources to mount a robust challenge to the AHRC apparatchiks. Most people don’t. Therein lies the rub. The process is weighted heavily against the defendant. Once a complaint is lodged, the AHRC can use state power and resources to pursue action against them.

Allegations of racist insults can ruin reputations and destroy lives, even if the ultimate judgment finds for the defendant. The complainant suffers no penalty but can gain substantial financial advantage: heads I win, tails you lose.

Many simply settle out of court to get on with their lives rather than risk being caught in a legal nightmare with an uncertain outcome. No citizen should have to spend time and money to defend a basic human right in the modern-day version of a star chamber. Some QUT students chose to pay $5000 effectively as extortion money to escape the trap. This is an incentive structure inviting abuse of law and process.

Free speech is meaningless if in practice it does not include the freedom to offend. I find it easy to tolerate all who agree with me. Any law that attempts to silence free debate deserves contempt and should be challenged and rejected by the people if the politicians are too pusillanimous to rescind it.


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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Multiculturalism in Australia, success or failure?

David Forde, below, seems to think there has been some sort of success of multiculturalism in Australia.  Maybe there has been, though he offers no proof of it.  But the big success with immigrants to Australia has in fact been with assimilation.  People from all over the world have come to Australia and fitted in well with the mores of the host society.  And by and large, their children are indistiguishable from other Australians.  Not much multiculturalism there!

The ARE multiculturalists here but do we call African crime and Muslim hostility a success?  I can't see it.  It's true that not all Africans commit crimes and not all Muslims wage jihad against us but the crimes and the jihad clearly come from the alien culture of the offenders.  Not many Presbyterians wage Jihad and not many Han Chinese do breaking and entering.  The culture clearly makes a difference.  The assimilated Han are no problem but who would say that of the Africans?

David Forde's big problem is that he has swallolwed the Leftist hokum that all men are equal. To him the Han and the Africans are all the same.  If only Africans WERE as civilized as the Han!  But he is quite incapable of discussing such differences. He relies totally on overgeneralizations.  He inhabits a world of mental fog.

As we read below, Forde thinks that if all are treated and made to feel equal within the rule of law, that will create "a sense of belonging and strengthening social cohesion".  So how come it hasn't?  There's certainly no "sense of belonging and social cohesion" among members of the South Sudanese Apex gang members who are terrorising parts of Melbourne these days.  But they have all been treated equally before the law.

If we look at the detail that Forde cannot see, we have to conclude that assimilation is the answer to social cohesion, not multiculturalism

RECENTLY there has been a resurgence in negativity regarding multiculturalism.

As I see it, we have two choices. We can speak up in support of inclusion where all are treated and made to feel equal within the rule of law, thereby creating a sense of belonging and strengthening social cohesion.

Or, we don’t speak up and treat multiculturalism as a concept to be avoided or scapegoated. Thereby letting the negative control the narrative while creating a sense of exclusion, where people are more readily labelled and some are considered more Australian than others. As a result, we encourage division as people retreat into various ethnic groupings and put up the barriers as they seek a sense of belonging and acceptance from within.

It also creates an environment where the more vulnerable are left open to exploitation.

Yes, there are people who don’t want to, or don’t feel comfortable associating with people outside their own given identity – this is normal and applies to people of all backgrounds.

The important thing is that it’s not about everyone agreeing or being the same, that’s simply impossible, it’s about acceptance and a fair go where everyone is treated equally. Surely everyone is entitled to that.

There are too many Australians, including many born here, who feel excluded from society and continually have to justify their “Australianness”.

Every one of us is different, but as individuals we share more in common than we realise. One of those commonalities is that everyone, except our First Peoples, is of migrant stock; it’s just that some are more recent than others.

Currently more than 28 per cent of Australia’s population was born overseas. Australia is a multicultural success story.

So scapegoating the very substance that has delivered today’s Australia is not the answer. In fact it is completely counter-productive, not least for economic reasons around trade and tourism.

I have been very fortunate to call Australia home for the past 24 years and live in one of the most culturally diverse suburbs in Queensland. I have neighbours who originate from all parts of the globe. Despite this diversity – or because of it – we have a tremendous sense of community, not least when the community, be they from the local service clubs, mosques, churches, temples or just everyday community members, rally together to assist those in need.

Creating fear of the “other” or the unknown is very easy. But rather than rejecting or scapegoating Australia’s multicultural success story, we should embrace it; there are simply too many benefits.

Go out and meet your fellow Australians, engage and replace (politically motivated) fear of the unknown with curiosity.

This leads to one simple question. What sort of Australia do we want, a weak and divided Australia or a strong and inclusive Australia?

I know what I want and what is in Australia’s long-term interests.


Slow and steady on climate: Joyce

The Turnbull government will ensure the next phase of its climate policy meets Australia's obligations under the Paris deal but isn't "messianic", Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says.

The government will review its full suite of climate policies in 2017, as the emissions reduction fund exhausts its $2.55 billion budget and the coalition looks to other methods to cut carbon pollution.

Environmental groups have concerns the review will provide a smokescreen to drop climate action and respond to sceptics within the government and on the Senate crossbench who see it as a waste of taxpayers' money.

Mr Joyce told reporters in Brisbane on Monday the government would ensure it met its Paris target - to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 - which builds on its 2020 target of reducing emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels.

"We believe in our obligations as signed off by an international treaty in Paris and we'll make sure we meet them," Mr Joyce said.

"We are on target to meet them at the moment and we are doing it at a vastly more affordable way than the Labor party ever was."

But he said the government would not achieve the target "by changing the whole world, like the ACT, to 100 per cent renewables - what a load of crock".

"We are not going be a messianic figure out there by ourselves," he said.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said he would like the review to be conducted in a bipartisan way.

"(But) we're not going to get bipartisanship while Malcolm Turnbull has lost his spine on climate change," Mr Shorten told reporters in Perth.

"He did have it once, no questioning that, but now he's so keen to keep his job he'll swap climate change policy for climate scepticism ... he won't take any real action in terms of the fundamental issues including standing up for renewable energy."

Mr Turnbull's deal with the Rudd Labor government on a carbon pollution reduction scheme ended with his own party dumping him in favour of Tony Abbott.


Self-righteous prick David Morrison

Miranda Devine

It’s not too late to say sorry, David Morrison. Many are still waiting to hear a few simple words

The visit to Townsville of former army chief David Morrison last week ended in humiliation when a savvy local reporter rocked him with a question about the Jedi Council sex scandal that launched his career as a gender maven at the expense of innocent officers.

“What a ridiculous assertion,” Morrison thundered at Townsville Bulletin reporter Kieran Rooney. “I’m surprised actually and disappointed you would take this opportunity, when I am here in a civilian capacity engaging with the business community in Townsville around diversity, to try and dredge up a matter that is years old.”

The outburst prompted the Bulletin to slap Morrison on its front page under the mocking headline: “Return of the Jedi”.

Townsville is a garrison town where Morrison is widely detested because of the egregious injustice done to one of their own, the former commanding officer of the Joint Logistics Unit North Queensland, Lt Col Karel Dubsky, sacked by Morrison for not reading emails containing sexist material cc’d to him.

That’s right: NOT reading. Not even opening.

Morrison’s logic was that Dubsky, as commanding officer, should have been across the entire contents of his inbox.

The reality was that, having made the thundering “standard you walk past” YouTube speech in 2013 which catapulted him onto the global stage as a feminist hero, Morrison had to justify his claim of systemic sexism in the Australian Defence Force.

The most senior scapegoat was the blameless Dubsky.

On June 13, 2013, two months after his YouTube speech, Morrison called a press conference to announce that a group of 17 Army officers were allegedly, “in production and distribution of highly inappropriate material demeaning women across both the Defence computer systems and the public internet.”
Former commanding officer of the Joint Logistics Unit North Queensland, Lt Col Karel Dubsky, was sacked by Morrison for not reading emails containing sexist material. (Pic: Supplied)

The group came to be known as the “Jedi Council”. Dubsky was not one of them.

Asked the highest rank of the men involved, Morrison replied: “There is one lieutenant-colonel who is part of this group”.

He didn’t name Dubsky but everyone in the Army knew who he was.

“There were not many Lieutenant Colonels in Townsville subjected to an Australian Defence Force Investigative Service office raid on June 5, 2013,” Dubsky recalled later.

“Then my name and image were released in the media. Despite knowing I had done nothing wrong, (Morrison) made no effort to protect my name… He embarrassed (me) on national TV.”

Army investigators trawled through every email Dubsky had sent or received and all they found were two private emails to two male friends, containing no images but with the words “DD boobs” and “shag”, which Dubsky admits was “inappropriate language” but hardly a hanging offence.

“Morrison tried hard to pin the Jedi Council on me but when he couldn’t, he sacked me from command because ‘I failed to remain aware of issues that affect me, my unit and Army’.

“... everyone thought I was part of Jedi Council. I was just dead man walking.”

Dubsky didn’t just lose his command, and an upcoming prestigious posting to the United States. He lost his reputation and his identity.

In October, 2013, he was officially cleared, in a letter from then Defence Force Chief David Hurley, saying “I accept... that you were not a part of the activities of a group styled ‘the Jedi Council’’.

Hurley also made the decision, against Morrison’s recommendation, not to terminate his service.

But by then Dubsky was a broken man. The father of two succumbed to PTSD, triggered by events in Afghanistan, was discharged from the Army medically unfit and has been in and out of psych wards ever since.

His pain culminated in a suicide attempt on Australia Day this year, while at home watching his TV in disbelief as the leader he felt had betrayed him was honoured as Australian of the Year.

So when Army people complain that Morrison has done nothing for veterans, there is a special sting in their accusations.

Vietnam veteran Tony Dell, founder of Stand Tall 4 PTS, a charity for post-traumatic stress sufferers, says: “It was an absolute travesty he was made AOTY. I travel around the country and talk to a lot of veterans and a lot of people in Defence and no one says a kind word about him.”

Veterans still fume about Morrison’s comment to the ABC last year that: “I don’t think that there’s a military solution to anything.” And they can’t forgive his attack on the Anzac legend as too male and “Anglo-Saxon”.

Dell says when he asked Morrison last year to appear at a PTSD forum to be held in Brisbane six months later: “Without a moment’s hesitation he said ‘I’ll be too busy’.”

Of course, by September Morrison had retired from the army, become chairman of the Diversity Council and embarked on a lucrative career as gender warrior.

As he nears the end of his AOTY post, in which his much ridiculed attempt to ban the word “guys” was the highlight, there is mounting pressure for an apology to Dubsky.

All Dubsky wants is official recognition of what the private letter from Hurley states, that he was not part of the Jedi Council.

“It galls me that Morrison does not understand that if you publicly accuse someone of something and then find out they’re innocent that you should then correct the record publicly.”

Just a few words would mean so much.


David Morrison’s Australian of the Year award brings many complaints

Political correctness has got him a long way -- but few fans among the people

It was meant to be a widely ­applauded and unifying gong: the awarding of Australian of the Year to former chief of army Lieutenant General David Morrison.

He became a contender after achieving social-media celebrity status for a 2013 speech, about unacceptable sexism by servicemen, written for him by transgender senior military officer Catherine McGregor. She was rewarded with Queenslander of the Year shortly before Defence chiefs confidentially paid $25,000 in compensation in January to an army major who was criticised and mocked by Ms McGregor on ­social media.

But for bureaucrats in the ­Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the choice of Morrison kept them busy with written explanations to placate disgruntled voters, a troubled senator — Queensland’s James McGrath, Assistant Minister to the PM, who questioned Ms McGregor’s award — and Liberal supporters expressing annoyance and bewilderment.

Documents released to The Australian by Malcolm Turnbull’s department after a Freedom of ­Information request show that a senior public servant replied to everyone in terms which carefully distanced the Prime Minister from any part in the selections by the National Australia Day ­Council.

A common theme of the letters and emails sent to the Prime Minister was that the selection was wrong, divisive and brought discredit to the awards. None of the missives were positive about the choice of Mr Morrison, whose first major speech in his new role promoted his view that Australia should be a republic. He has subsequently lobbied Australians to cease using the word “guys” to ­address men and women in the workplace, arguing the term is sexist and insensitive to females.

One of the documents released under FOI shows council chairman Ben Roberts-Smith — Australia’s most highly decorated soldier as the recipient of the Victoria Cross and Medal for Gallantry — wrote to Mr Turnbull in February and acknowledged the public backlash.

“You will be aware David’s ­selection has generated some healthy debate which isn’t unusual for someone who wants to challenge conventional thinking,” Mr Roberts-Smith wrote to Mr Turnbull.

However, Mr Roberts-Smith, also general manager of Queensland’s Seven TV network, did not believe the controversy was unique.

“This has happened many times in the history of the awards and I believe it simply reflects the significance of the program and that everyone seems to have an opinion on who should take the honour,’’ he added. He undertook to “factor into our annual review of the program” the public debate.

But senior sources said the 2016 awards had eclipsed earlier years for public and media protests. Senator McGrath, whose ministerial portfolio gives him ­direct responsibility for the ­National Australia Day Council, wanted to know how Ms McGregor became Queenslander of the Year — and an automatic finalist as Australian of the Year — when she had not lived in the state for about 30 years.

Ken Wyatt, the Liberal Party’s federal member for the West Australian seat of Hasluck, passed on to Mr Turnbull’s staff negative feedback from unhappy constituents, including one who wrote “to express my disgust at the appointment of the latest Australian of the Year”.

The National Australia Day Council was asked by Senator ­McGrath a series of questions ­including who prepared the shortlist in the Queensland Premier’s Department, who chaired and sat on the selection panel, and what guidelines had to be met for someone to win the state award?

The council’s then chief executive Jeremy Lasek told Senator ­McGrath: “After Catherine had progressed through the process, the NADC contacted Catherine to check that she was comfortable being considered for the award in Queensland, even though she had not lived there for some time. Catherine said she always identified as a proud Queenslander.”

Queenslander of the Year Catherine McGregor. Picture: Gary Ramage
Queenslander of the Year Catherine McGregor. Picture: Gary Ramage
Ms McGregor, who earlier this year criticised the choice of her former boss, Mr Morrison, as a “weak and conventional” choice for Australian of the Year, has felt pointedly ignored by the Queensland government for the past 12 months. She has been given no official ­duties by the office of Premier ­Annastacia Palaszczuk or any of her ministers, a senior source revealed yesterday. Her visits to Queensland for public events have been privately funded and organised by her and others.

Mr Lasek advised the Prime Minister’s department on February 1 that Senator McGrath “just called me direct in mobile. He says there is some concern in his home state about the Qld AOTY not having lived in the state for many years and how Cate McGregor came to be AOTY there”.

Most of the correspondence to explain the decisions was managed by Peter Arnaudo, assistant secretary at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, who repeatedly and prominently stressed that while Mr Turnbull presented the award, “he is not ­involved in the selection process”.

Mr Arnaudo and his staff workshopped internal explanations to send to citizens who criticised Mr Morrison for allegedly grandstanding and publicly shaming and ousting a small number of military men: the so-called “Jedi Council” who had exchanged emails about sex with women. Affected officers said the disciplinary and public action taken was overkill which destroyed careers and led to the attempted suicide of a respected ­officer who had done nothing wrong.

Typical of the tone in letters sent to Mr Turnbull was this: “I am aware that there is a small well-paid bureaucracy that beavers away to produce the recommendation to government. But in the end it is the government that makes the choice and must take the flack for an exceedingly poor choice.”

Another described the awards as a laughing stock and rebuked Mr Morrison for having sworn ­allegiance to the Commonwealth but now saying “he didn’t believe in that and wants a republic”.

One wrote: “The choice of David Morrison was a bad call by all involved. Mr Morrison took less than 24 hours to create an ­irreparable split in the Australian public with unnecessary utterings about both a republic and the Muslim issue.”

Another urged: “Dear Malcolm, please show some courage and heart and ask this man to stand down.”

One wrote: “Dear Mr Turnbull, I ask that the decision to award Mr David Morrison the title of Australian of the Year is reviewed. There is too much of a cloud over him which denigrates the role …’’

Mr Turnbull was told: “His duty would be to bring Australians together. Instead, he is causing division with his dictatorial spruiking about a republic.”


Tasmanian Governor Kate Warner utters good-sounding but stupid overgeneralizations

Senator Hanson said Governor Kate Warner should consider stepping aside after she challenged her views on Muslim immigration at rally in Hobart on Saturday.

Professor Warner addressed the Walk Together rally in Hobart and questioned Senator Hanson's position that Australia was being swamped by Muslims and that there should be a ban on Muslim immigration.

Professor Warner used the speech to ask Australians to challenge those ideals. "She [Pauline Hanson] declared that Australia was being swamped by Muslims and ... reiterated a call for a ban on Muslim immigration," she said.

"I think we must call out racism and stand up to intolerance and, as Governor of Tasmania, I'm very proud to stand up and say welcome to Australia to all asylum seekers and immigrants, no matter what colour or creed. "I think it's so important for Australians who oppose her views to stand up and be counted."

In a statement, Senator Hanson described Professor Warner's comments as naive. "Governor Warner's comments misrepresent my position and the seriousness of the situation facing Australia with regard to Islamic immigration," the statement said. "Like much of Australia's political class, the Governor is naive about Islam."

Senator Hanson called on Governor Warner to consider stepping aside. She accused the Governor of "moralistic posturing" and breaking a tradition of staying out of political debate. "She has broken with tradition by using her symbolic position to enter into political debate," Senator Hanson said.

Government House in Hobart said the Governor would not be commenting further. But in a statement, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman said he had taken the matter up with the Governor.

"The Premier has spoken to Her Excellency the Governor about the matter," the statement said. "It wouldn't be appropriate to publicly disclose the details of that conversation. Her Excellency the Governor retains the Premier's full support."

Senior Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz said he respected the Governor but questioned her actions. "With respect, it is not the role of the Governor to involve herself in controversial issues of the day because at the end of the day the role of the Governor amongst many others is to be the arbiter in the event of a political dispute that the Parliament cannot resolve," 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