Wednesday, November 16, 2016
No free speech for conservatives on Australian public TV
Australia's ABC does often have a token conservative on its TV shows, hoping mainly to humiliate them. But usually, the conservative does get to say something. This time the conservative had barely opened his mouth before a Leftist interrupted him to contradict him. And the show host sided with the Leftist
A petition calling for The Project to apologise to Steve Price after he was 'bullied' by Carrie Bickmore live on-air has received 17,000 signatures.
The Change.org petition says the 61-year-old radio presenter was a victim of "leftist bullying" after a heated with columnist Jamila Rizvi last week which ended with Bickmore telling Price to watch his tone.
Price, a 2GB presenter and regular guest on The Project, was commenting on Donald Trump's election victory on Wednesday night when Rizvi, a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter, cut him off.
"The people in real America, in small town America, weren't buying the bulldust that was coming out of the elites," Price said.
When Rizvi interjected, calling the idea of a real America "b-------", Price got personal.
"This is the reason why Donald Trump won, because people like you lecture and hector people."
Bickmore jumped to Rizvi's defence and warned Price to not "keep that tone" as the guests bickered between themselves. But it appears a large number of people think Rizvi was in the wrong.
The petition started three days ago calls for The Project to apologise to Price, describing the incident as "leftist bullying".
"Nobody, no matter what side of politics they fall on, should have to experience the abuse and degradation of what Steve had to go through on that program," petition founder Thomas Nicholls wrote. "What happened on The Project is unacceptable and should be condemned. Whether you are on the left, right, or somewhere in between, nobody should experience what Steve experienced."
Australian students mired in mediocrity
A sense of “mediocrity’’ in Australian education and a “she’ll be right’’ attitude has led to our students losing the hunger for academic success shown by their Asian competitors, a leading education expert says.
The comments by Kevin Donnelly, a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University, come after a renewed debate on government-run selective schools.
Academic Christina Ho, a senior lecturer in social and political sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, earlier this month told The Weekend Australian that selective schools had become “ethnically unbalanced’’ and politicians had their “heads in the sand’’ over the intensive commercial coaching often favoured by Asian-Australian families seeking to get their children into selective schools.
Dr Donnelly argues that education in Australia has for many years moved down “a particular path that was anti-meritocracy, anti-competition, anti-elitism’’.
“We have this idea that all students should do well, we should celebrate all students in terms of their potential and what they can achieve but because we set the bar so low, and because there was this, what I would call, prevailing sense of mediocrity, we really haven’t engendered in our students, Anglo-Australian students, the same willingness to compete, to achieve and to celebrate being academically able,’’ Dr Donnelly said.
“And you need only look at the percentage of Asian and Indian kids getting into selective schools, compared to Anglo-Australian, to see there’s a real imbalance there.’’
Dr Donnelly, who is also executive director of the Education Standards Institute, said the stereotype of “tiger mums’’ pushing their children to achieve academically had an element of truth because Asian cultures respected education, and believed in hard work and classroom discipline.
“The Australian mentality is more egalitarian; she’ll be right ... So we’re a bit more easygoing when it comes to academic study or academic success,’’ he said.
Chinese-Australian mother of two Anna Yuan, who used to work in family support services in Sydney, is a vocal advocate of giving children a balanced education including sports.
Ms Yuan said during her time working with Chinese-Australian families, it was “horrendous’’ seeing kids develop mental health problems and lacking social skills from being pushed hard academically with extra coaching to get into selective schools.
Ms Yuan still volunteers her expertise to help parents understand the pressure on their children.
“It is part of the culture. In China, many people think that academic is the only pathway for success … many parents want their children to have a good life,’’ she said.
Gary Banks, the principal clinical psychologist and managing director at the Sydney Counselling Centre, is the chairman of two headspace facilities and also provides supervision for several school psychologists. He said he was seeing “an ongoing and potentially increasing quantum of stress among higher school certificate students”.
“There are now national campaigns, such as headspace and ReachOut, to address the problems among young people, but in many cases it is actually the parents placing too great an emphasis on high ATARS (the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank),” Dr Banks said.
Immigration system is groaning under influx of new migrants
One of the underlying factors that influenced the outcome of last week’s US election result was the fundamental clash between globalists and nativists.
A driving outlook of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is based on concern for everyone, including present and future immigrants, as well as faith in international institutions such as the UN. By contrast, the standpoint of the successful Republican candidate, Donald Trump, is that the prime role of government is to protect its legal citizens and to respect and support feelings of patriotism and loyalty to country.
A part of this clash between globalists and nativists takes the form of differing attitudes towards immigration, legal and illegal. Add the stultifying impact of restrictions on free speech associated with the widespread insistence that only politically correct comments can be made — anyone who questions the value of immigration or asks why illegal immigrants are not deported is immediately labelled racist, xenophobic or Islamophobic — and the scene is set for the impact of this clash to play out in the ballot box.
The reality is that there are legitimate questions to ask about US immigration.
* Why are there are 11 million illegal — the PC term is undocumented — immigrants in the US?
* Why are so few of these illegal immigrants deported as the law provides?
* Why is it that a rising share of illegal immigrants has lived in the US for more than a decade?
* Why does Silicon Valley rely so heavily on the H-1B program (the equivalent of our 457 visa program) for its workforce?
* What is the impact of immigration on local workers?
When it came to the policy prescriptions being offered up by the two candidates, they were diametrically opposed. Clinton proposed a series of measures, including more executive actions, to allow illegal immigrants and their children to stay on in the US as well as obtain benefits available only to citizens and permanent residents.
Trump proposed to cancel all the existing executive actions that have deferred the deportation of illegal immigrants as well as new measures — most notably the construction of a wall on the Mexico-US border — to deter the entry of new ones. (Most illegal immigrants in the US are Mexican.) Until fail-safe vetting mechanisms are available, he also suggested a moratorium on new immigrants from countries with high proportions of Muslim residents.
It is tempting to describe Australia’s immigration policy as striking an appropriate balance between the nativist and globalist perspectives. By and large, illegal immigrant numbers are kept to a minimum and the permanent immigration program (presently with an annual intake of 190,000) is skewed towards those with skills.
The formal humanitarian program caters for asylum-seekers, with the numbers kept at relatively modest levels. The annual intake is 13,750, rising to 18,750 in 2018-19. The intake of 12,000 refugees from Syria also has been announced.
But in addition to these permanent immigrants, the number of temporary entrants to Australia has soared. In 2004-05, for instance, there were 49,000 457 visa entrants. In 2014-15, the number was 96,000, having peaked the previous year at 126,000.
The number of working holiday-makers also has skyrocketed, more than doubling in the decade ending 2014-15. There were 226,000 working holiday entrants in 2014-15. The number of international students rose by more than 70 per cent between 2004-05 and 2014-15, reaching 300,000 in the latter year.
All these temporary migrant categories are uncapped; as long as the applicant meets the conditions of the visa, then entry is granted. We are at the point that the number of new temporary immigrants is swamping the number of permanent entrants. But bear in mind that a high proportion of temporary immigrants apply to become permanent residents in due course.
So what are the problems with our immigration program? They can be gauged only by moving away from the high-level descriptors and digging deeper by analysing the component parts.
Take the employer-sponsored category of the skill permanent intake. There are 650 occupations listed on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List — many more than on the Skilled Occupation List used for the independent skill category — and the applicants need only minimal English proficiency. While it is true that the primary applicants under the skill category do well in the labour market, this is not so true of the secondary applicants who have the right to permanent residence as well.
International students who have graduated are allowed to stay in Australia with full work rights for considerable periods. Increasingly, these graduates are using the family stream to secure permanent residence, rather than the skill category.
When we look at the occupations of those who enter under the 457 visa category, we note that cook and cafe/restaurant manager are in the top three occupations. In fact, accommodation and food services is the industry with the largest percentage of 457 visa holders. Does anyone really think that cook and cafe/restaurant manager are occupations that can’t be filled by locals?
And when it comes to the labour market experience and welfare dependency of those holding humanitarian visas, the outcomes are clear: extremely low rates of employment, even after years in Australia, and high rates of welfare dependence. The story that emerges at this more nuanced level is that employer sponsorship of immigrants, permanent and temporary, is scammed in many cases, oftentimes with linked ethnicity between the employer and the immigrant.
It is also clear that being an international student is often seen as a pathway to permanent residence and recent changes to the regulations have facilitate this — a move much appreciated by the university sector.
That there is some exploitation of international students working in part-time jobs is hardly surprising and again often occurs where there is an ethnic link between the employer and the worker. 7-Eleven stores are a case in point.
Humanitarian visa holders impose a high fiscal burden on taxpayers and in Melbourne, at least, the criminal activities of the so-called Apex gang are giving asylum-seekers more generally a bad name in the eyes of the public.
The underpricing of the contributory parent visa also is causing concern as it becomes clear that the elderly parents of migrants impose high costs on taxpayers.
So before our politicians get too smug about our immigration program and contrast it with the divisiveness induced by immigration in the US, we need to face up to some hard cold facts.
Arguably, our program is no longer working in the national interest. Rather, it is working to favour particular groups and to buy votes in certain electorates.
My guess is that more people are beginning to appreciate this fact, particularly as they bear the costs of congestion, loss of amenity and safety, and declining housing affordability. Canberra insiders need to acknowledge this and start to remedy the deficiencies.
Plight unmasks the injustice of 18C
Kyran Findlater made an alarming discovery when he checked his LinkedIn page one day in November last year.
The married Brisbane man, 26, a robotics engineer and graduate of the Queensland University of Technology, had been working in Canada since December, 2014. He had not heard of Cindy Prior.
He knew nothing of a racial vilification case Prior had brought against him and six other QUT students under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act over their Facebook posts in late May 2013.
Until now, Findlater, a quietlyspoken young professional with no interest in, or history of, political activism, did not want to speak publicly about any of these facts. He feared the smear of racism, and damage to his reputation, budding career in Canada and family.
He is sharing his story with The Weekend Australian because he is distressed at the idea he could be seen as a racist by those who do not know the facts. He believes Australians need to understand how innocent people are being harmed by misuse of what he regards as a bad law, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, administered by an incompetent handler, the Human Rights Commission.
“The fact that myself and the other students were even dragged into the litigation against QUT is a disgrace to the legal system in Australia,’’ Findlater said from his home in a small town in Canada’s British Columbia.
The LinkedIn message he got last November 13 came from Prior’s Brisbane solicitor, Susan Moriarty, who conveyed news that stunned him: Findlater was, the solicitor explained, being sued in the Federal Circuit Court for Prior’s “psychiatric injury and economic loss linked to racial vilification posts you uploaded to QUT Stalkerspace (Facebook page)” in May 2013.
But there was a way out. Moriarty, winner of the 2015 Australian Employment Discrimination Lawyer Award from Corp INTO Magazine, added: “Our client is prepared to discontinue her complaint of racial vilification against you and agree to confidentiality in consideration of your payment to her of the sum of $5000. If we do not receive your response to this offer on or before 25 November, 2015, we shall assume that you do not wish to settle, and continue proceedings against you.”
Findlater recalls that he was confused and deeply concerned. He went back and read what he had written on Facebook in late May 2013 after another student, Alex Wood, had posted about being ejected from QUT’s indigenous-only computer lab because of the colour of his skin.
Wood and his friends — who had visited QUT’s unsigned computer lab, called the Oodgeroo Unit, to access its unused computers for study — are white. They did not know that made the lab off-limits to them. Prior, who worked there in an administrative role, is indigenous. She asked their race and told them to leave because of their non-Aboriginality.
Findlater says he cannot stand racism. He believes that race-based barriers sow division, and that universities should promote cohesion, not segregation, among students, many of whom he believes will impart those values as role models and leaders in their professional lives.
Findlater’s Facebook post that offended Prior, after her ejection of Wood, an engineering student, on May 28, 2013, stated: “My Student and Amenity fees are going to furbish rooms in the university where inequality reigns supreme? I believe if we have to pay to support these sorts of places, there should at least be more created for general purpose use, but again, how do these sorts of facilities support interaction and community within QUT? All this does is encourage separation and inequality.”
The post made Findlater a defendant, along with six other students, in Prior’s Federal Circuit Court proceedings in November last year with a claim for $250,000 in damages.
What Findlater did not know when he checked his LinkedIn and saw Moriarty’s “urgent” message was that the racial hatred claims levelled against him were not new — in fact, they had been in Prior’s formal written complaint, naming him, to the Human Rights Commission since May 2014.
For reasons including natural justice, the commission is required to tell people when they are accused of racial hatred. This is to help them clarify the circumstances or deny they said something racially abhorrent or explain the context. The commission’s president, Gillian Triggs, has claimed this week in interviews that the taxpayer-funded body and its staff had been working with the QUT students “in good faith” to try to resolve the complaint for some 14 months after it was lodged by Prior. But the commission’s own records show that claim by Triggs is false.
Most of the seven students found out for the first time in late July 2014 of the existence of the complaint. They were given just three business days’ notice to attend a conciliation conference in Brisbane. But nobody — not the human rights body, nor QUT, nor Prior — had ever successfully alerted Findlater.
QUT confirmed yesterday, after doing checks following The Weekend Australian's questions, that a letter it sent by registered post on July 28, 2015, to alert him did not reach Findlater and the email it sent on the same day had not been opened, possibly because it went to an old email address.
Findlater said the first he knew was when he saw the LinkedIn message, three months after the failure of the commission’s August 3 conciliation conference in which he was a named party. Documents show the commission had decided by late August that there was “no reasonable prospect of the matter being settled by conciliation”, resulting in it being escalated to court.
How, Findlater asks, can the commission be serious about “conciliation” when it does not once tell him there is a complaint? How, he questions, did it decide conciliation would not be possible when he did not know about it?
Back in November last year, when he saw the LinkedIn message, Findlater did not know that a growing number of people — solicitors for Prior, commission staff and Triggs, QUT staff and their vice-chancellor Peter Coaldrake — had known since late May the previous year that he was one of the seven at the heart of an 18C racial hatred complaint of which he was unaware.
Findlater had even joined the staff of QUT in its robotics lab. He was an employee at the same time the university knew of the 18C complaint against him; he was easy to find and contact. Yet he was not told. He is appalled at the commission’s conduct and deeply disappointed with the university.
In his reply to Moriarty last November, he wrote: “Firstly, I do not wish to settle on this matter. I have reviewed my involvement in the social media posts in which I have allegedly racially vilified your client (or anyone else for that matter) and I feel that the defamatory allegations against me cannot be substantiated.”
Having decided to stand on principle and reject the invitation to pay money, Findlater prepared for the next stage — the court proceedings, and a December 7 date for the case to be mentioned in an open hearing.
“I was in Canada and I had one month to scramble and find a lawyer,’’ Findlater says.
“If I had known there was a conciliation meeting months earlier with the Human Rights Commission, I could have gone and tried to explain to Ms Prior that I was sorry her feelings were hurt and that I’m not a bastard. I could have attended some form of conciliation and tried to have it resolved and concluded so that there would have been no court proceedings. But I was never given that option. I was never contacted about it by QUT or by the commission. It is very disturbing to be named before a court as a human rights violator. This is not who I am.”
He spent money on legal advice from a Queensland solicitor, who wrote to Moriarty with a proposal that both sides walk away with no payment.
Moriarty replied to Findlater’s solicitor on December 14: “Our client did nothing wrong on 28 or 29 May 2013 but the posts, in which your client was a voluntary and enthusiastic participant, have contributed to the ending of her career with the Queensland University of Technology. The timing of your client’s posts ties him to the debate which emerged on QUT Stalkerspace following (another student’s) post on 28 May 2013 challenging the ethics and legality of study rooms for indigenous persons at the University.
“By our reading of your client’s contributions, your client’s posts were popular. As is the case, for every comment that went up in response/reply to his post he would have received an email each time and he also would have received an email of every ‘like’ that went up also. We note there were ten (10) ‘likes’ in relation to one of your client’s posts. He will be expected to discover those responses as part of his List of Documents.
“It is also the case that the decided law merely requires our client to prove her identification with and membership of a race of people subjected to an act or course of conduct the law regards as vilification and discrimination on the basis of ‘race’. Our client will compromise her claim and agree to a Deed of Release incorporating the normal terms of indemnity, confidentiality and non-derogation in consideration of a payment to her of $5,000.00. The Offer is open for fourteen days from today’s date.”
Findlater and his family worried about this over the Christmas break. They believed it was grossly unfair. There was more legal correspondence between his solicitor and Moriarty, resulting in him incurring legal fees of about $10,000. He knew he was not a racist. But he could not afford to run a financially-crippling legal defence.
In early January, during a visit to his family in Brisbane, Findlater decided to call it quits. He and his wife were worrying a lot. The stress was not worth it.
He wrote to Ms Moriarty with an offer to settle, to limit the costs and end the concerns he and his wife held about the case. He explained in his offer letter that he had significant debts from his engineering degree at QUT, and other bills in Canada from his relocation there.
He asked if, instead of $5000, he could pay $3500, which he would need to borrow. He wrote that he was making the offer “in the hope that I can avoid the expense of time and money during the proceedings and in the hope that your client will gain something in the process”.
His offer was rejected in a letter from Ms Moriarty who replied that her client, Prior, “advises that her review of your Facebook and LinkedIn profile establishes that you have been a well-paid employee since graduating as an engineer from QUT.
Her research demonstrates that your wife too has a degree. While you may have some financial difficulties, as you allege, there is nothing to indicate that those difficulties are anything but temporary”.
Moriarty set a deadline of late February for full payment of the $5000; Findlater paid.
“My reasoning for taking the settlement offer was to avoid a protracted legal process where I could not be present to defend my name,’’ he says.
“I feel that I did the right thing at the time because it was the safest route, and many people agreed with me at the time that I should settle but there is the whole injustice of it. If I was living in Australia I would not have paid, I would have fought it with the other students.
“Sure, my quote was the face of reason, but now when I Google my name, my positive achievements in life have been sullied, perhaps permanently, by the media coverage and headlines now associated with my name.”
On issues of race and segregation, Findlater says: “I really think that all Australians should be given equal opportunities. Why should it matter what their race is? By segregating people with facilities like the computer lab, we are telling them they are disadvantaged, we are reinforcing it. It’s divisive and unfair to them.”
From Canada, he has been closely following The Australian’s reporting of the case since February. He cheered the dismissal of the proceedings against three of the students — Wood, Calum Thwaites and Jackson Powell — by judge Michael Jarrett earlier this month.
He was surprised that Triggs claimed publicly that the commission “investigated” the case and engaged with students.
He has been buoyed by the public support and the growing calls to change 18C and investigate the commission’s handling of the cases.
He has always been reluctant to speak out but he changed his mind to ensure that the facts in his case were on the public record and well-understood, so that strangers knew, as his family and friends knew, that he did nothing wrong, and should not have been put through the worrying and costly process.
“I am glad about the possibility of review and amendment of 18C to avoid people being dragged through the mud like this again is comforting to me,” he says.
“I feel like I was unfairly targeted. I am frustrated that the lady was able to take me to court over what was, in my opinion, something very harmless. But that’s the problem with 18C — it allows this to happen over opinions and free speech. None of the things I posted were racist or vilifying of anyone. I feel let down by the legal system and frustrated that nobody told me until it was too late. I got sucked into this legal vortex and I felt helpless to do anything. It cost me a lot of money that I will probably not see again. It’s not good that I was part of it. If I Google myself, it pops up.
“I blame the Human Rights Commission and QUT for not telling me. It compromised the chance for the complaint to go away. There was no conciliation.
“I am surprised by the audacity of Professor Triggs in saying that the commission did all these things for the students. It is a terrible performance for someone in a highly paid position. If the commission had done its job in the first place I would not be in this situation.”
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