Monday, November 28, 2016

Pauline Hanson slips into wetsuit for reef trip -- and finds that all is well with the reef

Most of the media have been amusing about this.  They say that she has embarrassed herself by not going to the "right" part of the reef.  But that claim is itself a message that only part of the reef is affected by bleaching.  We can perhaps be thankful to them for getting that message out to a wider audience. 

There are many possible causes of bleaching but the  loons of the Green/Left are sure it is caused by global warming.  And that might pass muster when we note that the bleaching has occurred in the most Northerly (and hence warmer) one-third of the reef.  Problem:  Coral LIKES warmth, which is why the Northern part of the reef normally has the greatest biological diversity.  Normally, the further North you go (i.e. the warmer you get), the greater the diversity.  So the cause of the bleaching is unknown. 

As a fallback position, the Greenies say that the bleaching is caused by agricultural runoff.  Problem: The Northern part of the reef runs along an area of the Cape York Peninsula where there is virtually NO agriculture.  The soils there are too poor for it to be economically feasible.  So no runoff.  "Facts be damned" seems to be the Greenie motto

Pauline Hanson has slipped into a wetsuit and made a splash on the Great Barrier Reef to show the world the natural wonder is worth visiting amid claims it is dying.

The senator, who once cooked fish for a living, went swimming off Great Keppel Island today and expressed concerns about reports on the reef's health.

Ms Hanson says agenda-driven groups are telling "untruths" about the state of the reef that are harming the tourism industry and businesses.  "When we have these agendas that are actually destroying our tourism industry and businesses ... we need to ask the questions and we want answers," she said. "The Greens have no concern about people and jobs that we need here in Queensland, and the escalating costs that we are feeling from the effects of this."

One Nation senators Malcolm Roberts, who has long argued the case that global warming doesn't stack up, and Brian Burston were also on the reef trip.

Mr Roberts said people had stopped coming to the reef because they were being told it was dead and that Australia should not be reporting on its health to the UN agency UNESCO.

Conservationists are concerned climate change is putting severe stress on the reef, which experienced a massive coral bleaching event this year, and some have declared it's dying at an unprecedented rate.

They say Ms Hanson and her senators visited the wrong part of the reef as the southern sections had been least affected by the worst bleaching event in the icon's history.

The World Wildlife Fund said One Nation should have visited Lizard Island where bleaching, caused by high water temperatures, has killed much of the coral.


Federal Government rules out negative gearing changes despite calls from NSW

The Federal Government has ruled out any changes to negative gearing despite calls from the New South Wales Liberal Government to ease housing affordability.

New South Wales Planning Minister Rob Stokes has broken ranks with his federal colleagues, accusing them of falling prey to "a Canberra culture that promotes opposition over consensus".

His comments have been welcomed by the Federal Labor Party but dismissed by senior Government ministers, who warned any changes could have negative impacts.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said land supply was the key influence on housing affordability, rather than negative gearing tax exemptions.

"What we are working to do — and we are working with the state governments now to do — is to zone for more density, more affordable housing," he told 3AW Radio.

"The critical thing to do is to build more dwellings."

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the Government needed to consider how negative gearing would impact the entire nation and not Sydney alone.

"What might help in Pittwater may not help in Tasmania. In fact, it could actually have a negative impact because there is no one, single housing market," he said.

The Treasurer said he understood Mr Stokes was focused on Sydney, but he would focus on a comprehensive approach to housing affordability.

"There is no one issue that addresses this and anyone who pretends that really hasn't got across the full set of issues, and I think it is important we walk together," Mr Morrison said.

"Let's not forget that the overwhelming majority — some eight out of 10 people who buy investment properties — are not millionaires or wealthy property investors."

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann rejected Mr Stokes' call and said state governments were responsible for housing supply, not the Federal Government.

"The Commonwealth is always very keen to work with them but the suggestion that somehow increasing the taxes and making rental affordability less affordable is the right way to go … we completely reject," he told Sky News.

Labor backs 'recognition of reality' Labor's Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen welcomed the New South Wales Government's "recognition of reality" and called on the Treasurer to follow its lead.

He called on the Federal Government to "swallow its pride" and accept that negative gearing reforms were necessary to give young Australians hope, to repair the budget and to address housing affordability.

"First home buyers rates are at record lows, investor rates are at record highs," he said. "Right around Australia, young people are looking at the great Australian dream and seeing it slip through their fingers."

Mr Bowen said voters understood the time for negative gearing reforms was "well and truly here". "Today should be the last day that [the Federal Government] continues to refuse to listen to sensible contributions on negative gearing reform, including from their own party."

Focus on equality

In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development, Mr Stokes called on the Federal Government to focus on equality of opportunity for all homebuyers.

He said the NSW Government was willing to have a discussion about tax reform earlier this year and said he was disappointed by the Federal Government's policy position.

"Disappointingly our leadership on this issue fell victim to the Canberra culture that promotes opposition over consensus," he said.

"It's a major concern to me as Planning Minister of the most populous state, but also as a dad to three young children, of increasing reports that without parental support the dream of home ownership is becoming harder and harder to obtain.

"Surely the focus of the tax system should be directed towards the type of housing we need. Why should you get a tax deduction on the ownership of a multi-million-dollar holiday home that does nothing to improve supply where it's needed?"


University of Sydney beats Oxford, Cambridge in new global rankings

The University of Sydney produces graduates that are more employable than those from Cambridge, Oxford and Columbia, according to a new global rankings measure.

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings assessed 300 universities worldwide against five criteria: employer reputation, alumni outcomes, partnerships with employers, employer/student connections and graduate employment rates.

It surveyed 37,000 employers and mapped the careers of 21,000 individuals worldwide to determine the rankings.

On this basis the University of Sydney placed fourth worldwide, after Stanford and MIT in the US, and Tsinghua University in China.

The University of Melbourne ranked joint eleventh, while ANU and Monash University made the top 50 globally. UNSW does not appear in the list because it chose to opt out.

The success of Australia's universities in the global employability rankings is based in large part on their industry partnership programs, Ben Sowter, head of research at QS said.

"The 2017 instalment of this ranking illustrates that universities with a heavy STEM focus are generally among the most successful in nurturing student employability," he said.

"This ranking indicates that efforts made by Australian universities to establish themselves as industry-friendly knowledge hubs are paying dividends for their students."

QS or Quacquarelli Symonds ran the employability rankings for the first time as a pilot last year. Universities are permitted to opt-out, unlike in other rankings systems.

Tracey McNicol from ANU's Planning and Performance Management division said "for a university to perform well in this ranking they need to not only engage widely with employers but ensure that graduates leave their institutions with the skills and attributes that are relevant to the needs of employers."

The news will be a boost for the University of Sydney which sits behind the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University in the general rankings such as the Times Higher Ed and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Similarly, in the QS global rankings this year, Sydney ranked the 46th best university in the world, behind Melbourne (42nd) and ANU (22nd).

The University of Sydney's Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said it was committed to providing students with opportunities they need to thrive in the workforce.

"Equipping students with the knowledge, skills, values and purpose to serve society at every level and to lead the way in improving people's lives has been our mission since the University was founded in 1850," he said.


Privately-funded (better measured, more accountable) social services

Jeremy Sammut

National Adoption Awareness Week has redrawn attention to the appallingly few adoptions in Australia -- despite the appallingly high number of children in foster care that will never go home safely.

The opponents of adoption continue to claim the real problem with the child protection system is that not enough is done to help parents to stop kids entering care.

They falsely claim that adoption advocates (such as me) believe that early intervention services are a "waste of time" (see this review of my book).

This is nonsense, of course.  The problem is that child protection services bend over backwards to support parents to the point that children suffer prolonged abuse and neglect; hence there are many thousands of damaged children in care with maltreatment-related 'high needs' -- development, emotional, and other problems.

The critics also ignore the lack of evidence to support the 'family preservation' policies they endorse.

Take the 2015 Victorian Auditor General's report that found there was no way of knowing whether increased government spending on family support services  was "effectively meeting the needs of vulnerable groups ... because there are significant limitations in the service performance data and a lack of outcomes monitoring at the system level."

This is a sector-wide problem identified by my (sadly departing) colleague Trisha Jha in her excellent recent report detailing the lack of robust evaluations of early childhood interventions.

But change is slowly occurring in the social services sector, driven by privately-financed funding initiatives. The Benevolent Society's privately-financed Social Benefit Bond is used to fund the Resilient Families programs, which has had some early success in reducing the number of children entering care.

The success appears to be underpinned by a robust, independent evaluation mechanism. This includes the virtually unprecedented use of a matched intervention-group and control-group to generate a gold-standard measure of effectiveness.

Rewarding programs based on their demonstrated outcomes makes providers accountable; it encourages innovation and discovery of what actually works -- a virtuous circle.

We still need thousands more adoptions each year because there simply are some families that can never be fixed whose children will need rescuing.

But better measured, more accountable social services would also help ensure the child protection system protects children properly.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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