Monday, February 29, 2016
Stupid school bullying policy
Self-defence not allowed!
JAMIESON Reid is a quiet, nine-year-old who keeps to himself and loves to bury his head in books.
On Tuesday he was involved in a shocking and unexpected incident while he was waiting in the school pick-up queue at Musgrave Hills State School in Queensland.
"This week I saw my small-for-his-age, book-loving nine-year-old son attacked by a much larger child," Jamieson’s mother Jessie told Kidspot. "The attacker quickly progressed from jostling to grabbing my son around the throat and holding his bag, stopping him from leaving to get in the car."
"As my husband and I watched in horror from our Tarago in the school pickup line, I saw my son yell ‘Let me go!’ – striking the attacker in an attempt to get away."
"And then I watched in absolute terror as my tiny son was punched in the head three times before a staff member removed the much larger boy."
The next day Jessie got a call from the school to say that her son, along with the other child involved in the altercation, had been suspended for two days.
The distraught mother says her son was the victim and doesn’t deserve to be treated this way. She says it’s proof that the blanket bullying policy in schools is making matters worse for the victims.
"When this ‘zero tolerance’ approach is applied as a blanket policy it is no longer a useful deterrent or a tool against bullying," she says. "It has crossed the line in victim blaming. It’s gone too far and our children are suffering because of school policy," she says.
But a Department of Education and Training spokesperson says the matter was dealt with according to the policy which clearly sets out expectations of student behaviour, and the consequences for students when these expectations are not met.
"The Musgrave Hill State School principal thoroughly investigated this matter. Consequently, the students involved were suspended in line with the school’s Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students," the spokesperson said in a statement to Kidspot.
Oscar Yildiz, from Bully Zero Foundation Australia, also supports the policy stating that zero tolerance is the only way to go. "If someone is hitting a child, they should move away immediately and get themselves out of danger," he tells Kidspot.
Jessie disagrees says ‘moving away’ wasn’t an option for her son. The older boy, she says, was holding him down. Blanket approaches like this, she says, "allows victims to be beaten if cornered."
The government’s very own Bullying No Way! website agrees with Jessie that a zero-tolerance approach to bullying is not necessarily effective.
One of many points stipulated under the heading "What we know doesn’t work" is – any form of zero tolerance and ‘get tough’ suspensions and exclusions.
Although Jamieson was told that he was not allowed to go to school for two days, his parents still decided to send him yesterday.
"The principal told us three times to pick him up but we said we wouldn’t pick him up because he wants to be at school," Jessie says.
"I shared my frustration and outright anger with my friends and discovered that this is a very common situation," Jessie says.
"One friend [whose child got in an altercation at school] said her son was told he shouldn’t have defended himself because his home life was more stable than his attackers," she says.
Jessie says that another friend pulled her children out of school and now teaches them at home because they were being reprimanded and punished when attacked by others.
She claims victim-blaming is rife at schools as she has gathered anecdotes from all over the country echoing similar experiences.
Jessie says the policy is teaching kids the wrong message. "Teaching children that defending themselves when they have no other option is wrong and that doing so results in a severe punishment has far reaching implications," she says.
"We don’t teach sexual assault victims that defending themselves is wrong – in fact it is encouraged, why should victims of non-sexual assault be any different?
Jessie is calling on all parents to take a stand on behalf of their children about the blanket policy.
"Zero Tolerance needs re-examining. It doesn’t work in practice in our schools and our kids are suffering as a result. Is this happening at your school? Speak up," she implores.
"Tell the principal this is not OK. Tell the Education Department. Tell the Education Minister. Our kids are worth it."
Kids interests overboard in child protection debate
The AMA has been widely applauded for supporting calls to allow baby Asha to stay in Australia. However, what this latest episode in the highly-politicised debate about refugee children in detention shows is how some kinds of child abuse and its consequences are considered more important than other kinds of child abuse. The plight of refugee children receives the bulk of political attention from those in Australia who consider themselves humane and socially progressive, while comparatively little attention is given to the welfare of children who suffer abuse here.
What this dichotomy reflects is how comfortable or uncomfortable people are in talking about different problems and solutions for offshore child abuse, compared to domestic child abuse – possibly due to how this make people feel about themselves, and based on how politically fashionable discussing some kinds of child abuse is compared to different, politically unfashionable varieties of child maltreatment.
Hence the refugee lobby has often been accused of using children in detention as political pawns to promote quasi-open borders immigration policies. I have no doubt that refugee advocates hold sincere and well-founded concerns for the welfare of children detained in what they call ‘mental illness factories’ on Nauru and Manus Island.
But there is also a large group of children in Australia, numbering in the tens of thousands, who suffer from mental illnesses including depression, hyperactivity, ADHD, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual deviance, conduct disorder, aggression, delinquency, and poor peer relationships and social functioning.
These children are among the more than 43,000 children who live in state-funded foster care in Australia. Virtually all children who live in care have some level of so-called ‘high needs’, and suffer from a complex mix of these behavioural, emotional, health, social, educational and other psychological problems.
The cause of these children’s mental illness and other problems is that they have been severely damaged by Australia’s flawed child protection policies. Because state and territory child welfare authorities over-emphasise ‘family preservation’ at almost all costs, these children have been exposed to prolonged and highly-damaging abuse and neglect by dysfunctional parents. When they have finally been removed as a last resort, many of these children have been further damaged by highly unstable foster care and repeat breakdowns of family reunifications.
Many of these children could have — and should have — been protected from the profound harm they have suffered in and out of care, had they been removed earlier and permanently from their families, and been adopted by a safe and stable family. Yet adoption is almost non-existent in Australia because it is considered a taboo and socially unacceptable practice. Hence there were only 89 children adopted from care nationally last year.
While there are loud and persistent cries to free kids from detention, there is no campaign by human rights activists to free kids from this destructive cycle of maltreatment and instability. The explanation for this is cultural. Human nature means that most people tend to prefer to take so-called brave stands on popular issues rather than unpopular ones. Hence, many people prefer to support only those causes the prevailing culture rewards them for endorsing, based on how these choices affect their social standing and self-perception.
If you support closing detention ‘camps’, you will be lauded a social justice warrior. If you support adoption, however, you will find yourself marginalised as a conservative throwback to the era of forced adoption and the stolen generation. Hence adoption is not well supported among members of the political class especially, due to status anxiety — the fear that by endorsing adoption they will forfeit any claim to being considered socially progressive. Hence in the public debate, or lack thereof, about child protection policy, what is best for adults takes priority over what is best for the victims of child abuse.
The Australian of the Year, General David Morrison won great acclaim from those who consider themselves socially aware by promising to take up the fight against the racial and gender discrimination that he claims are the greatest barriers to equality in Australia. Imagine, though, how different the reaction might have been had Morrison’s equality agenda highlighted the need for more adoptions to tackle the national child abuse problems that are a major cause of the gross and life-long social inequalities that keep child abuse victims on the bottom rungs of society.
Australian child welfare laws state that the best interests of children are paramount. Yet family preservation-focused practices make a lie of these laws, and adoption remains a largely taboo political subject because this so-called ‘conservative’ cause does not suit the interests of status-conscious adults. For so long as the needs of adults come first, and the needs of kids come last, thousands of Australian children will continue to be churned through the mental illness factories that are child protection systems in this country.
Stolen Generations taboo harms Indigenous children
Alan Jones may have broken a taboo and outraged some with his comments about the Stolen Generations. But all the broadcaster was saying was repeating what many critics of indigenous child protection policies — Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike — have also claimed: that efforts to deal with the legacy of the Stolen Generations can get in the way of rescuing children in the most disadvantaged communities in the nation.
An insight into the harm done to children by this reluctance to remove is offered by the 2012 death of four year-old Aboriginal girl Kia Shillingsworth at Brewarrina Hospital from acute rheumatic pancarditis complicated by viral pneumonia. Or, as the coroner put it in the inquest report handed down in September last year, Kia died "like too many others in remote Aboriginal communities … of a disease of poverty at an early age."
If how Kia died wasn’t shocking enough, even more appalling were the circumstances in which she lived her short life. Not surprisingly, Kia was a ‘known’ child. The NSW Department of Family and Community Services received reports expressing concern for Kia’s welfare, which detailed the usual litany of indigenous child welfare issues — physical and medical neglect, overcrowding in the family home, and inadequate supervision.
The long history of reports, combined with the medical evidence cataloguing her many throat infections and skin infections (boils, ulcers, abscesses and cellulitis) that almost certainly caused her fatal rheumatic heart disease, defied the family’s description of Kia as a "very happy, healthy and active girl". Kia died because of the gross neglect she suffered and from which she was not saved.
Despite receiving four reports of neglect in 2012 alone about Kia and her family, FACS did not conduct an investigation to check on her and her siblings’ welfare. The coroner partly attributed this "wholly inadequate response" to staffing issues and inexperienced social workers operating in a remote, disadvantaged location.
But more revealing was evidence that FACS social workers actually tolerated the unacceptably poor living conditions of many children in remote communities — an attitude described as having grown "desensitised to the risk" due to the "extensiveness of the medical neglect or intergenerational abuse within those communities". But these rationalisations are mutually exclusive; and the real question is why social workers would ignore overwhelming evidence of child neglect.
The answer is that many indigenous children suffer gross neglect — in plain sight of the authorities who are meant to protect them — because of what social workers have been taught about how they should deal with the legacy of the Stolen Generations. The ‘culturally aware’ approach they have been encouraged to adopt towards indigenous child protection encourages them to minimise the threats to children’s welfare to avoid having to remove those children.
These attitudes can be traced back to the influence of the 1996 Bringing Them Home ‘Stolen Generations’ report of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The report claimed that racism had motivated the removal of Aboriginal children throughout the twentieth century because white, western, and culturally arrogant social workers had failed to properly understand Aboriginal culture. Because Aboriginal family practices, such as lax parental supervision, differed from the mainstream definition of the normal nuclear family, these practices had been labeled as neglectful and served as grounds for child removal.
The follow-up claim that cultural bias lay behind the continuing high levels of indigenous child removal downplayed the dysfunctionality in remote communities. Nevertheless, the Bringing Them Home analysis has had a lasting impact on the way social workers are urged to think about child protection matters involving indigenous children.
The 2007 Wood Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW warned that social workers "raised in Anglo-Celtic society may find it difficult to understand … the complexity of Aboriginal family and kinship relationship that are important for a child, and for making decisions about where the child should live, if he or she cannot live with parents."
Such teachings have created powerful reasons why social workers might seek to explain away the problem of child neglect, and would prefer to view the evidence of this as somehow an expression of the uniqueness of Aboriginal culture deserving of respect. Not only does this allow for hard decisions about ‘stealing’ children to be dodged; it also prevents being perceived as culturally insensitive at best, or branded racist at worst. The outcome, though, is that indigenous children are left in circumstances from which they should be removed.
Alan Jones irritates many by saying things that many people don’t want to hear. But he has expressed an uncomfortable truth about the role the legacy of the Stolen Generations plays in the perpetuation of indigenous child abuse. Rethinking how we deal with that legacy needs to be the twenty-first century version of the "whispering in our hearts", if we are to properly address indigenous disadvantage and suffering.
Shocking video emerges of police officer 'punching a man in the face' after three officers tackled him to the ground - as onlookers scream in horror
Shocking footage has emerged appearing to show a violent arrest by police where a man is held down and repeatedly punched in the head.
The video was recorded on Valentine's Day in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast in Queensland, and shows a man with his hands in his pockets being pushed to the ground, pinned down, and then elbowed and hit by police officers.
Women can be heard screaming in horror as the graphic incident unfolds and leaves the man spitting blood onto the footpath.
The man being punched tells people to record the incident and the person filming reassures him they have captured the incident on camera.
The man at the centre of the video will appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on Friday, and intends to plead not guilty to charges of assault, obstructing police and public nuisance, according to 7 News.
A Queensland Police Spokesman told Daily Mail Australia police were conducting inquiries into the incident, but could not comment further.
No formal complaint has been laid over the incident, which some have labelled as evidence of police brutality in the Gold Coast
The man, a 21-year-old, had been at a 21st birthday party when a group he was with were stopped by police, The Courier Mail reported.
His relative was arrested, prompting him to ask what would happen or where he would be taken, according to reports.
When he gave police his name - Paul Folasa, according to the Gold Coast Bulletin - at their request, the officers responded angrily, friends claimed.
A relative and a friend of the 21-year-old Folasa, from Woolridge, QLD, will also appear in court in Southport on Friday.
Their lawyer reportedly intends to seek an adjournment so discussions with police can take place
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, February 28, 2016
Only the 5th Warmest. How disappointing!
Australia's Warmists are spinning like a top in the article excerpted below. The official figures show that 2015 was only the 5th warmest year for Australia: There were 4 previous years that were hotter -- not moving in the right direction at all! And temperatures have been reducing, coming off a record peak in 2013 -- all of which is not NEARLY as much fun as NOAA's global figures.
So what to do? How to keep the scare up? They have gratefully seized on the latest bit of modelling, with its dire predictions: "climate scientists are predicting". Never mind that the climate models have never made an accurate prediction yet!
IT’S been a sticky old week across southern Australia with the mercury topping 41C in the west of Sydney and severe heatwaves in parts of New South Wales and northern Western Australia.
But far from being an unusual occurrence, climate scientists are predicting heatwaves globally are on the rise with extreme heat events, which previously only occurred "once in a generation", could happen every year.
And that means more than just some extra days at the beach, with predictions of more bushfires, stretched emergency services and severe impacts to farmers and food production.
In a paper published in the journal Climatic Change, researchers found heatwaves only experienced once in every 20 years could, in years to come, happen every year in some places. By 2075, 60 per cent of the Earth’s land mass could see these extreme heat events annually or even more frequently.
By 2050, heatwaves could be three degrees warmer across half the world and across 10 per cent of the Earth’s surface a scorching five degrees hotter.
According to the BoM’s annual climate statement, 2015 was Australia’s fifth warmest year on record with temperatures 0.83C above average and exceptionally warm spells including heatwaves across north and central Australia in March and south and south eastern Australia in the latter part of the year.
Heatwave conditions in Australia are defined by three days of unusually hot minimum and maximum temperatures for any given area.
However, the pattern of heatwaves wasn’t uniform, said Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick. Sydney had seen its heatwave season kicking in three weeks earlier, as had Melbourne — although the latter hadn’t seen an overall increase in the number of days experiencing extreme heat.
While 2015 was one of Australia’s hottest years on record, overall temperatures have been reducing, coming off a record peak in 2013. Aren’t things going in the right direction already?
People too scared to speak about issues: John Howard
John Howard has sounded an alarm about the culture war in Australia — warning that people are being "cowed" against stating their views on issues and that a dangerous anti-religious push has emerged — and branded as "pernicious" the Victorian government’s hostility to religious connections in schools.
Mr Howard said there was a "get Pell" mentality in "some sections of the media", referring to Cardinal George Pell, who is about to answer questions before the child sex abuse royal commission and has been the subject of allegations of sex abuse by material coming from Victoria Police.
In relation to gay marriage, Mr Howard said: "There is nothing homophobic about supporting traditional marriage. Everybody did in the parliament in 2004.
"May I remind you that in 2004, when I inserted the definition in the Marriage Act, the Labor Party supported it. You ought to be able to have sensible discussion on these sorts of things. And you should be able to express a view on these things. But there is a sense in which people are so frightened of being accused of being discriminatory or intolerant that they don’t speak the commonsense view."
Mr Howard said the standards of civil society in Australia were being undermined by a growing intolerance towards people who did not subscribe to a range of progressive views.
"I think the problem is that too few people are prepared to call it for what it is," he said. "I think people are cowed because they think, ‘I can’t say that because I might lose votes or I might offend somebody’."
He said there was a new form of "minority fundamentalism" emerging, typified by the use of the anti-discrimination law in Tasmania to silence the Catholic Church from stating its position on marriage.
Having read the document issued by the Catholic bishops, Mr Howard said: "How anyone can read that as offensive to people who favour same-sex marriage or gay or lesbian people is beyond me."
He said the situation in Victoria under new guidelines for religious instruction was that "from now on you can sing Jingle Bells in schools but not Once in Royal David’s City or Silent Night".
"This is pernicious," he said. "I’m surprised there hasn’t been a greater outcry about it. Nobody is forced to believe in God. Nobody’s forced to follow Christianity. The observance of Christmas and all that goes with it is part of our culture. I must say I have never come across a person of the Jewish faith or of the Muslim faith who has complained that they have had Christianity forced upon them."
Warning that such cultural intolerance would provoke a backlash, Mr Howard said one of the reasons Donald Trump was succeeding in the Republican primaries was that people felt he was speaking directly to them and shunning any political correctness.
While saying he "would tremble at the idea of Trump being President of the US", Mr Howard said the Republican frontrunner was benefiting because other politicians refused to acknowledge public resentments. While he found some of Mr Trump’s comments "appalling", his success was "a measure of how people feel".
These comments recall his performance as prime minister when Mr Howard campaigned against political correctness, resisted the idea of a superior morality on the part of elites and had to manage the rise of Pauline Hanson, who exploited economic grievances.
Mr Howard expressed disappointment that the Abbott government had abandoned its proposed free speech changes to section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act after winning an election mandate on the issue. He said it was probably only with the Andrew Bolt case that people realised the application of this provision "was as spiteful as it turned out to be".
Branding the climate of repression as "pernicious", Mr Howard said there was "almost a fear" among people to articulate the views he was expressing because of concern they would "offend our multicultural ethos" or be "branded as intolerant".
He said the Catholic Church as an institution had to be held to account for its cover-ups on child sexual abuse, given the number of priests who had been involved. But Mr Howard said: "It seems as if Cardinal Pell is being singled out to take the rap for the misdeeds of a whole lot of people and the evidence is that he was more active in trying to do something about it."
He highlighted the fact one of Cardinal Pell’s critics, Father Frank Brennan, had recently warned of the need to ensure that Cardinal Pell, as a witness before the royal commission, was treated with integrity. Father Brennan said after the recent leaks of material originating from Victoria Police that the standing of the royal commission was an issue if one arm of a government involved in its commissioning was "engaged in unauthorised activity aimed at undermining the public standing of key witnesses".
On same-sex marriage, Mr Howard said he would not have chosen a plebiscite. He felt the issue should be decided in parliament by a free vote. But, given the Abbott government had decided on the plebiscite path, the Turnbull government "had to honour that commitment".
He said any authorisation of same-sex marriage had to contain religious freedom protections.
Reviewing the alienation of the public from the US political process, Mr Howard identified two fundamental differences between Australia and the US: Australia did not suffer the debilitating consequences of a constitutional bill of rights and the middle class had been supported by sustained real wage gains over recent decades, unlike the US. While warning that there were "sufficient similarities" between the two countries to make alienation from politics in this country a real risk, Mr Howard said Australia enjoyed distinct advantages.
"If I were an American, I would feel that it didn’t matter who you voted for because essentially the people you vote for can’t do anything, with gay marriage and Obamacare being decided by the courts," he said.
"I have never embraced the idea that judges have infinitely more wisdom in making decisions about the social and economic future of the country than the rest of the population. One of the reasons some of these social issues are so hotly contested in the United States is that people don’t think they have been allowed to have their say.
"I would be very concerned if we went down the American path and we gave to judges a power to determine these things."
Advertisements must not include attractive women
AUSTRALIAN TV personality and former Test cricketer Mike Whitney has made for some awkward advertising in a new commercial for the Gold Coast Sixes cricket.
The ad features Whitney between two bikini clad women on the sand of a Gold Coast beach, advertising a long weekend cricket tournament set for the June long weekend later this year.
The online ad was shot on a Gold Coast Beach, with many calling the clip "cheap and tacky" or ‘degrading.’
The ad, which has sparked ‘sexism’ backlash, talks about the tournament which will cost $449 per person and include $900 worth of parties, drinks, meals and cricket gear. There will be free beer for the skipper and a chance to win $100,000.
"This is not just a cricket tournament — it’s a three day, four night carnival held up here on the Gold Coast," Mr Whitney says to the camera while standing between two bikini clad women.
"I’ll be here, the girls will be here and were looking forward to welcoming you," he says as the models wave to the camera.
The Gold Coast Sixes claims to be the ‘best 3-day, 4-night, 6-a-side cricket carnival on the planet.’
"I’m really proud to be the ambassador for the Gold Coast Sixes," Whitney went on to say in the ad.
"You’re going to be sick of winter, you’re going to need a cricket fix and you’re going to need an excuse to get the boys together for that end of season cricket trip like none other."
The two women then take over the advertisement, revealing what people will get if they attend the cricket tournament.
‘Hi boys, we girls are so looking forward to meeting and greeting you here on the Gold Coast,’ the brunette woman in the pink bikini says to the camera.
"Our gorgeous staff will be at the airport to pick you up at the carnival every day and at the cocktail party and dinner," she smiles.
The brunette and her friend then walk off down the beach together to close the minute long advertisement.
The Gold Coast Sixes tournament is set to be held on the Queens Birthday June long weekend later this year.
Teams from around Australia and overseas will take part in three days of six-a-side cricket and four nights partying in Surfers Paradise.
Former Test cricketer and Who Dares Wins host Mike Whitney is the ambassador of the tournament.
Medical marijuana is now legal in Australia
The Australian parliament passed new national laws today paving the way for the use of medicinal cannabis by people with painful and chronic illness.
Amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act permit both legally-grown cannabis for the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products in Australia. The changes, proposed earlier this month by the Turnbull government, had bi-partisan support.
Recreational cannabis cultivation and use remains illegal with state-based criminal laws still in place.
Health minister Sussan Ley said it was an historic day for the nation and the people who "fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals".
"This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy," she said
Under the new federal scheme, patients with a valid prescription can possess and use medicinal cannabis products manufactured from cannabis legally cultivated in Australia, provided the supply has been authorised under the Therapeutic Goods Act and relevant state and territory legislation. The changes put medical cannabis in the same category as restricted medicinal drugs such as morphine.
The Victorian government announcement last year that it will legalise the drug for medical use in 2017. NSW is also currently conducting trials into a cannabis-based drug, Epidolex, with a focus on children with epilepsy, and leading the state-based focus on medical marijuana.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is due to hand down its interim decision on scheduling cannabis for medicinal purposes next month. The minister said an independent Advisory Committee will be set up to oversee the next stage of the rollout of a national regulator for medicinal cannabis.
"A national regulator will allow the government to closely track the development of cannabis products for medicinal use from cultivation to supply and curtail any attempts by criminals to get involved," Ms Ley said.
The national scheme is good news for a range of companies currently vying for a slice of the lucrative market. Medicinal cannabis business MGC Pharmaceuticals, listed on the ASX via a reverse takeover of Perth-based resources business yesterday, saw its share price jump on opening, and rise another 27% today to $0.33.
The business is working with the University of Sydney’s business school to develop a federal government white paper on creating a medical cannabis industry. MGC Pharmaceuticals is currently building a cultivation and extraction plant in Slovenia.
Meanwhile, ASX-listed Medlab Clinical is currently conducting research in Sydney for the NSW Government.
Former CFMEU official Fihi Kivalu to plead guilty to blackmail charges in Canberra
A former construction union official arrested in dramatic circumstances during the trade union royal commission hearings in Canberra will plead guilty to blackmail charges.
Former ACT Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) official Fihi Kivalu, 39, was arrested in July last year after evidence from formwork contractor Elias Taleb.
Mr Taleb told the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption that Kivalu accepted $135,000 from him in instalments, for access to the Canberra construction market.
Kivalu admitted to the corruption inquiry that he accepted only $60,000 from Mr Taleb using it to play the pokies.
But he denied allegations that he hired a debt collector to chase Mr Taleb.
Initially Kivalu pleaded not guilty to blackmail charges and was committed for trial last year.
But today his lawyer told the ACT Supreme Court he was planning to change the plea.
Kivalu will be arraigned next month, with sentencing planned for May.
Friday, February 26, 2016
Queensland property manager slammed over email critical of homosexuality
Under attack for voicing views that were normal up until a few decades ago. Sodomy was illegal in Queensland up until 1990
A QUEENSLAND real estate agent has come under fire after an email about the ‘Safe Schools’ program drew widespread condemnation.
Sunstate Property Group Principal Denis Mulheron penned the email voicing his concerns about the program, which is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect for gay, intersex and gender-diverse students.
“Do you not inderstand this is how poofters and dykes kept bringing vunarable young children into there unnatural way of life (sic),” Mulheron started his email.
“They should seek a cure for their mental illness poofterism should still be illegal a man sticks his **** in another mans ass (sic),” he added.
Since being uploaded on Twitter, the email has drawn widespread condemnation on social media with dozens taking to the Sunstate Property Group’s Facebook page.
“Just so y’all know Denis is the president of the property group, it’ll be more effective to demand that he steps down than to demand he get fired,” one user wrote.
“Would never buy a property through somebody as hateful and homophobic as Mr Denis Mulheron who posted this bile on Twitter.
“What a repulsive individual. I have retweeted his poison so that other more thinking people can similarly boycott. “Bad look Sunstate. Really bad,” another added.
When contacted by News Corp Australia, Mulheron said he stands by his words. “I don’t believe this should be taught in schools, we are just going mad.”
When questioned if he had seen the backlash on his company’s Facebook page he said: “I don’t know how to get online. “So what, I’m out of there in 10 days.”
Mulheron told News Corp Australia that he has sold Sunstate Property Group and will retire at the end of next week.
"Safe Schools" 'terrible, focused on homosexual issues', Labor senator Joe Bullock says
Divisions have emerged within the Labor Party over the Safe Schools program, with one senator calling for the program to be suspended amid a Government review.
The taxpayer-funded program, aimed at helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex (LGBTI) school students, is under review after a number of Coalition MPs expressed concerns.
Labor has been vocal in its support for the program, but Western Australian senator Joe Bullock has since called for the program to be "immediately stopped".
Senator Bullock told News Corp it was a terrible program. "This program is so narrowly focused on homosexual issues that it doesn't provide the sort of balance one would hope," he said.
Labor's leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, has criticised her colleague over his comments. "I don't agree with Joe and the Labor Party doesn't agree with Joe," Senator Wong told the ABC.
"This is a party, this is a Labor program that we funded in government. "It is a program that is designed to address terrifying statistics of self-harm, of abuse, of discrimination."
Senator Wong's comments follow a heated exchange between Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the primary agitator for a review, Liberal senator Cory Bernardi.
Senator Bernardi has called on the Government to withdraw funding for the program, which he said was indoctrinating students.
He has faced criticism from Labor over his remarks and on Wednesday interjected while Mr Shorten was addressing media on the issue. Senator Bernardi stated: "At least I'm honest, Bill."
Mr Shorten responded by saying: "At least I'm not a homophobe."
The Labor leader stood by his comments today, saying he did "in five seconds what Malcolm Turnbull hasn't done in five months".
When asked if he regretted his language, he responded that he regretted the time spent debating the issue. "You have a senator walking past, acting like he is at the football, yelling out free advice at a press conference, and he has a sook about someone standing up to him," Mr Shorten said.
A very grim report card for Muslim schools management
Something rotten is happening at our Muslim schools. Over the past six years, hand-wringing bureaucrats, politicians and a media scared of the label “Islamophobic” have allowed the parasite of institutional corruption to slowly take over its host.
It’s a state of affairs that in two months could prompt chaos: a major high school forced to shut, with the education of its 2400 students thrown into turmoil.
Muslim schools are big business and they are booming. Islamic colleges are the fastest growing schools, with enrolments increasing at a clip nine times faster than their mainstream counterparts. Between 2009 and 2014, Muslim students surged from 15,503 at 32 schools to 28,267 attending 39 schools — an increase of 82 per cent. In contrast, enrolments at all schools grew by just 6 per cent over the same period, to 3.7 million.
There are six schools controlled by Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. They received $42 million from taxpayers in 2013, plus $21.5m for new buildings and other capital works between 2009 and 2013. In 2014 and 2015 this will be at least $45m.
The largest is Malek Fahd Islamic School based in Greenacre in Sydney’s southwest, with 2400 students across three campuses.
The school was due to receive $20m in commonwealth funding this year. But it won’t. Federal education minister Simon Birmingham has ordered funding cut off in April following an audit report from Deloitte, which found serious issues of financial management and governance of all AFIC schools.
Two weeks ago the minister said the excuses from Malek Fahd simply weren’t good enough. Last week the board was forced to resign and the school is in limbo.
Despite the school reassuring parents this week that it has enough funds to remain open, senior education department figures tell The Australian that, without commonwealth funding, Malek Fahd cannot last much longer than a week. As to what happens to its pupils, at this stage nobody can say.
Professional educator Rafaat El-Hajje was principal at Malek Fahd. The nuclear physics PhD lasted six months before he quit in disgust.
“These people have no idea about what governance was or any idea about professional education,” El-Hajje says. “There were about three people who ran the show, and now they’re all fighting among themselves again. But it’s the kids who miss out, it’s the parents and the teachers.”
When he resigned in February 2013 El-Hajje wrote to NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli begging that he freeze its funding until the board was replaced. El-Hajje is highly critical of both state and federal governments: they took too long to act, they didn’t ensure the board was replaced after numerous warnings.
“The government just never pulled the cord on them. They were supposed to pay $9m back and they didn’t. I brought it to their attention, a Queensland principal brought it to their attention. They just didn’t act.”
In its defence the NSW education department says it is monitoring the situation.
El-Hajje blames political and bureaucratic intransigence for failing to act on the corruption that The Australian has documented for six years. “The minister said it wasn’t his problem, the NSW education department said it was board of studies problem, the commonwealth department said it was someone else’s problem. It just got shuffled around. Maybe if they had acted sooner the school wouldn’t be in this position.”
El-Hajje is sceptical of the intentions of some at the school, who might see a closure as a get out of jail free card. “There will be people who think that if the school closes there will be no more investigations into where the money went so maybe they don’t mind.”
The six AFIC schools have 5481 students, a 53 per cent rise in five years. Usually, these schools receive the highest possible funding from governments as they are populated by students from poorer and non-English speaking backgrounds.
Back in 2011 The Australian reported that the AFIC had siphoned off $5.2m worth of funds from the Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney.
The day after the report a media release was put out by then AFIC president Ikebal Patel decrying its inaccuracies. It also implied it was driven by an anti-Muslim agenda and demanded an apology and retraction (neither was ever given).
All six AFIC schools have been subjects of media reports and government funding freezes in the past few years. At one point the NSW government even demanded it repay $9m of state funds; a directive the school promptly ignored and challenged in court. Now, it is even contemplating a legal challenge to the withdrawal of the $20m.
Parents like Fazel Qayum and children like his two daughters, both enrolled at Malek Fahd, are paying the price for the behaviour of the school board and the inaction of education authorities. Qayum, a Stanhope Garden local, drives his daughters, Sabah and Sana Qayum, in Years 11 and 4, to MFIS two hours each way because of its “academic reputation”.
“It’s not the children’s fault. The people who misused funds, they’re the ones who should be held responsible. The school belongs to the kids, not the principal,” he says.
“I want the school to run. We live in a society of law and order ... the board should be taken to court. (But) the children should not pay”
His daughter, Sabah Qayum, is in Year 11. “All the students are devastated. I’m in my second last year, the HSC is just (around) the corner)”
To add to the stress of her Higher School Certificate exams is the likelihood she’ll have to find a new school. “Everyone’s worried about not being accepted (into schools)”.
The Australian has obtained the Deloitte report to the government which paints a disturbing picture of what was taking place at Malek Fahd.
Under Australian law, schools must not operate for profit to be considered viable for commonwealth funding.
The Deloitte report confirmed previous reports in The Australian that millions of dollars was siphoned out of the school into AFIC via unexplained “project management” and “accounting and salary services” — seemingly for services that never existed.
There was also evidence of millions in inflated rent for the school land paid to AFIC.
The government’s findings following the Deloitte report were a clear indictment of AFIC and the school board, who were often one and the same.
“Money has not been applied for the purposes of the school or for the function of the authority (Malek Fahd Islamic School Limited), and money has also been distributed (whether directly or indirectly) to an owner of the authority, or any other person,” department of education official Michael Crowther wrote.
“I also consider that the quality of the policies and practices in place for MFISL are inconsistent with the basic requirement for MFISL to be not-for-profit.”
The audit found that over $500,000 was paid by the school to a company Casifarm Pty Ltd, run by school board member and one-time AFIC spokesman Amjad Mehboob. Services it provided could not be clearly identified.
Last year Mehbood and former “business manager” Agim Garana were sacked from the school amid the commonwealth probe in an attempt by AFIC president and school board chairman Hafez Kassem to demonstrate he was cleaning up the school.
In an almost humorous twist, Mehboob appeared on ABC television the same day the funding cut was announced demanding Hafez Kassem step down, seemingly oblivious that his own behaviour included in the Deloitte report that led in part to the commonwealth decision.
Look around the country and the story at other AFIC run schools is no better. Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne are beset by governance problems.
The federal minister has recommended the tens of millions in annual commonwealth funding to all other schools be cut if they can’t show cause to be kept open.
At the Islamic College of Brisbane, the audit report found that millions of dollars in loans between AFIC and the school were unaccounted for. The Brisbane school is subject to a Queensland state department and police investigation.
Deloitte found numerous governance failings at the Canberra school, evidence of millions of dollars in unaccounted for loans to AFIC and found the school was barely financially viable.
The Melbourne school is accused of hardline religious teaching and allegedly threatened to send home children who missed morning prayer and Koran recital. Following the audit the commonwealth found the school was not operating as a non-for-profit.
The Islamic College of South Australia is beset with problems, including allegations of inappropriate payments to AFIC. The government found the school failed the “fit and proper person” test as well as the not-for-profit requirements.
Someone who knows all about the nature of the brutal infighting at AFIC is its former president, lawyer Haset Sali. Sali was a founding AFIC president 40 years ago and served as a legal adviser to the Muslim body before the current cabal kicked him out in 2006.
Sali describes the culture at AFIC as “toxic” and AFIC-managed Muslim schools as “tragic”. “These people have exploited the situation to their own advantage while taking advantage of the mainly poorer people who tried to get their children what used to be a good education.”
He says the boards should be sacked, professional administrators appointed and reforms made to mirror more professional independent networks like the Catholic school system.
The qualifications for running a Muslim school are woefully low. Pretty much anyone with a property and desire to set shop can make millions. “Muslim schools do not have that centralisation or professionalism. AFIC schools could contribute but they need to be run properly,” Sali says.
Sali has greater concerns: the way the toxin of corruption can leave a void of ethical Muslim leaders, which can lead young people towards Islamic extremism. “These people have just been taking, giving nothing back and couldn’t care less that we’ve ended up with an Islamic subculture,” Sali says.
“Unfortunately a lot young people don’t know where else to look for guidance, which leads to the rise of unqualified imams and the attraction of groups like IS.”
But come April, the pressing concern will be the education of 2400 students. While the AFIC schools are in the spotlight, at least four other non-AFIC Muslim schools have had their funding frozen in recent years by the NSW department over financial mismanagement, only to have the tap turned on soon after.
El-Hajje takes a dim view of the bulk of the Muslim schools that Malek Fahd students could be forced to go to. “I don’t trust any of these other Muslim schools. They’re intent on empire building and making money.”
Multiculturalism has proven divisive, not coalescent, so let’s ditch it
Like bad 1970s fashion, multiculturalism needs to be binned
Sometimes the obvious questions don’t get asked. Maybe it’s the stubborn power of orthodoxy that puts a spanner in the spokes of our otherwise critical and curious senses. Whatever the reason, it’s time to ask this: why do we still have a minister, let alone an assistant minister for multicultural affairs?
Hasn’t this cultural fad overstayed it usefulness? Just as questions are asked about whether taxpayers should keep funding multicultural broadcaster SBS, given its raison d’etre has waned, isn’t it time we asked why we still need government ministers ministering the multicultural word to the people?
There is a sense of urgency around this question after last week’s inauspicious start by Craig Laundy, the new Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs.
Laundy sounded like the very model of the modern multiculturalist — modern in the sense of 1970s modern.
Last week the Liberal MP from western Sydney adopted the condescending voice of those 70s multiculturalists, speaking down to us, telling us that he knows better than us. And just like 70s multiculturalism, he caused division rather than cohesion.
Laundy’s sentiments might please the large voting bloc of Muslims in his electorate but the rest of us were riled by his haughtiness when he said that when people “dive into this debate” (about Islam) and “say controversial things, I would argue the vast majority are speaking from a position that is not well-informed”.
That’s multi-culti speak for saying shut up, you’re too stupid to understand Islam or question Islam’s ability to find an accommodation with fundamental Western values such as the separation of church and state, free speech, gender equality and so on.
Alas, people aren’t stupid. We see that countries ruled by the Islamic faith have cultures diametrically opposed to Enlightenment values. We can see enclaves of Muslim migrants in Western countries have kept practices at odds with those values. We are entitled to ask questions about the level of gender inequality among Muslims. We are entitled to ask why some young Muslim men chose Islamic State over Australia; why genital mutilation and child marriages happen in countries such as Britain and Australia.
If Laundy finds our questions “controversial” then, sadly, he has caught that debilitating multicultural virus. Like a virus that takes hold of host cells in the human body, multiculturalism’s self-loathing virus started invading Western societies more than 40 years ago. Like a form of cultural cancer, it has weakened our ability to defend our most fundamental values and, worse, it has meant the only culture open to critique and question is our own.
To be fair, Laundy is not alone among Liberal MPs who inadvertently expose why multiculturalism must be discarded.
Last week on the ABC’s Q&A when Liberal MP Steve Ciobo was asked whether he believed in free speech, he said: “I’m attracted to the principle.” Really? That’s it? I might be attracted to a dress in a shop but I’m not committed to it. Surely a Liberal MP, a minister, can do better at defending a core Western freedom. You’re not going to convince anyone about the virtues of free speech by saying you kind of like it, with the same commitment as you might say you like cornflakes in the morning
The multicultural virus has impaired even self-professed cultural warriors. As prime minister, Tony Abbott decided that defending free speech by reforming section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was too hard once a few migrant groups kicked up a fuss.
Sure, the Senate was unhelpful, but rather than make a humiliating retreat, a warrior of Western culture should fight on to defend the marketplace of ideas, rather than kowtow to the marketplace of outrage that has been fuelled by multiculturalism.
And why wouldn’t Laundy champion all the usual multi-culti guff given the tone set by the more senior Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, another so-called Liberal Party cultural warrior, didn’t raise an eyebrow, let alone utter a word, when Abbott dropped his promise on free speech. We expect this cultural cowardice from Labor and the broader Left, but when voters can’t look to the Liberal Party to defend our basic values the cultural landscape is indeed bleak.
Remember that multiculturalism was never a policy with broad support. Research by sociologist Katharine Betts reveals multiculturalism wasn’t even a story of ethnic agitators: it was largely trumpeted by a group of Anglo-Australian activists so small that “most of them could and did meet in one room”. Twenty years after Malcolm Fraser included multiculturalism in the Coalition platform, a poll by the Council of Multicultural Affairs found the rank-and-file supporter of multiculturalism was not the migrant but the well-educated Anglo-Australian living far way from migrant enclaves.
In the 70s, multiculturalism was sold to the people as the tolerant, moral alternative to earlier evil policies of assimilation and integration. But assimilation and integration were not intolerant ideas. On the contrary, these policies invited migrants to Australia with the promise they, too, could become Australians and enjoy the values that made Australia the country of first choice for millions.
When migrants arrived in postwar Australia, there was a sense of obligation to the new country. The transformation of thousands of poor, displaced migrants into comfortable middle-class Australians in a matter of a few generations is one of the great success stories of integration. The traditional three-way contract was simple: majority tolerance, minority loyalty and government vigilance in both directions.
Becoming a citizen meant accepting responsibilities in return for clearly understood rights and privileges. A migrant renounced “all other allegiances” to swear loyalty to Australia.
More than 40 years later, asking for minority loyalty is regarded as a sign of intolerance. Against a backdrop of entrenched multiculturalism and a human rights frenzy pushing the right to be “separate but equal”, it’s now a case of the host nation owing the migrant.
The great multicultural con is that its proponents deliberately refused to define the term. They opted for feel-good ambiguity. So it meandered along meaning different things to different people. To some, it meant no more than promoting a culturally diverse society loyal to core institutions and core values. Meanwhile, a more virulent form took root, emphasising ethnic rights to be separate but equal, promoting cultural and moral relativism and identity politics where immigrants were no longer Australians, or even “new” Australians.
Multiculturalism endorsed what Theodore Roosevelt called a hyphenated loyalty to country. SBS uses the phrase Muslim-Australians, not the other way around. That hyphenated loyalty has undermined an obligation on migrants to embrace a common set of values.
Worse, multiculturalism demanded that we tolerate the intolerant. To be sure, tolerance is a worthy goal. But it’s meaningful only when tempered with moral judgments about what is right and what is wrong. That is a debate we must all be able to be part of.
Did Victoria's police set up an innocent man?
They would be capable of it and being suspected of killing a cop is not a good place to be
VICTORIA’S corruption watchdog is investigating police conduct leading up to the conviction of Jason Roberts for the 1998 shooting murders of police officers Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rod Miller.
The Herald Sun can reveal that investigators from the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission have conducted a secret probe into the conduct of at least four police officers who were involved in the murder probe.
A major part of the investigation is believed to centre on the changing of a police statement that is said to have cemented the prosecution case that two gunmen were in a Hyundai the two officers stopped in Cochranes Rd, Moorabbin, on August 16, 1998.
This contradicts the evidence of an eyewitness who drove by as the shootings occurred, who told Lorimer investigators she saw only one man beside the Hyundai.
The Lorimer investigation ran for over two years and identified Bandali Debs and his daughter’s boyfriend, Roberts, as the culprits.
Lawyers for Roberts, who has always maintained his innocence, are preparing to submit a petition to Attorney-General Martin Pakula to reopen the case.
Evidence has also emerged casting doubt on Roberts’ involvement. It includes witness statements and the interpretation of material from listening devices, telephone intercepts and new information from Roberts himself, who denied being at the scene.
Roberts was the subject of a homicide re-examination of his case almost three years ago, findings of which were not made public.
Roberts was interviewed and police travelled to NSW to interview Debs over several days. Other witnesses, including Lorimer police, were also interviewed.
Lawyers for Roberts, who along with Debs is serving a life sentence for the murders, have been working for several years on what they argue are shortcomings in the evidence against him.
Prosecutor Jeremy Rapke, QC, put it to the Supreme Court trial jury that Roberts was hidden in the car and shot Sgt Silk, who was checking the passenger side registration.
The Herald Sun understands the forensic evidence of the sequence of shots is consistent with there being only a single gunman.
It is likely to be put to the Attorney-General that Debs alone shot both policemen, shooting Sen-Constable Miller before walking around the Hyundai and killing Sgt Silk, and that he then exchanged shots with Sen-Constable Miller before using a second gun to shoot Silk again.
Debs, of whose guilt there is no doubt, has refused to shed any light on what happened that night.
Police have been told that he had promised to confess and exonerate Roberts if both of them were convicted.
Roberts has spent 17 years in jail and is in a maximum-security prison.
An IBAC spokesman said: “For legal and operational reasons we cannot comment.”
Victoria Police said that it was unaware of the IBAC investigation.
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, February 25, 2016
Australia's Barrier Reef at greater risk than thought, study says
Warmist dishonesty never stops. As I have often pointed out before, warmer oceans will OUTGAS CO2 so the result of global warming will be LESS acidic oceans. The only way you can make sense of the reasoning below is to assume that CO2 levels will continue to rise WITHOUT causing any global warming. So that is certainly an interesting admission. There is a popular version of the article below here
The exposure of the Great Barrier Reef to ocean acidification
Mathieu Mongin et al.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is founded on reef-building corals. Corals build their exoskeleton with aragonite, but ocean acidification is lowering the aragonite saturation state of seawater (Ωa). The downscaling of ocean acidification projections from global to GBR scales requires the set of regional drivers controlling Ωa to be resolved. Here we use a regional coupled circulation–biogeochemical model and observations to estimate the Ωa experienced by the 3,581 reefs of the GBR, and to apportion the contributions of the hydrological cycle, regional hydrodynamics and metabolism on Ωa variability. We find more detail, and a greater range (1.43), than previously compiled coarse maps of Ωa of the region (0.4), or in observations (1.0). Most of the variability in Ωa is due to processes upstream of the reef in question. As a result, future decline in Ωa is likely to be steeper on the GBR than currently projected by the IPCC assessment report.
Nature Communications, 7, Article number: 10732. doi:10.1038/ncomms10732
Australia approves Chinese purchase of country’s biggest dairy
Rationality trumps paranoia. The Chinese can't pick up the farm and take it back to China so what is the problem of them running it? They'll use Australian managers anyway
Australia has approved the sale of the country’s largest dairy to a Chinese investor in a bid to end a controversy that risked souring Sino-Australian relations and dividing communities on the remote island of Tasmania.
The sale of Tasmanian Land Company, which has a 30,000 strong dairy herd across 25 farms, to a company controlled by Lu Xianfeng in the latest in a series of purchases by Chinese investors of agricultural land and assets — part of a wider move to secure food supplies in the Asia-Pacific region. This has prompted controversy in Australia and New Zealand, where regulators are toughening scrutiny of proposed deals while attempting to remain open to foreign investment that boosts agricultural output and rural jobs.
Scott Morrison, Australia’s Treasurer, said on Tuesday he had approved the TLC sale to Moon Lake Investments subject to tax transparency conditions — a reform to foreign investment rules introduced by Canberra this week amid simmering public concern about the rapid pace of Chinese inflows.
“A breach of these conditions could result in prosecution, fines and potentially divestment of the asset,” said Mr Morrison, adding that the review had considered the deal’s implications for national security, competition, the economy and the community.
Opponents labelled the approval of the A$280m (US$200m) deal a “sellout” for ignoring local bidders.
“This is Australasia’s biggest dairy with huge potential [if kept] in local hands to expand and provide premium dairy products to Australia and the world,” said Nick Xenophon, an independent senator. “This lost opportunity shows how the current ‘national interest’ test is as clear as mud and virtually meaningless.”
Last year Wellington rejected an NZ$88m ($US59m) bid by a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin for the 13,800-hectare Lochinver sheep and cattle station. A month later Mr Morrison blocked Chinese buyers, including Shanghai Pengxin, from acquiring S Kidman & Co, a company controlling land about three-quarters the size of England, on national security grounds and welcomed news a local bidder could emerge.
Australia began a review of its foreign investment rules last year when it was revealed the Northern Territory government had leased Darwin port to a Chinese company without a full examination by the Foreign Investment Review Board. This week Mr Morrison introduced new rules linking foreign investors’ tax compliance with their licence to operate.
TLC is owned by New Zealand’s New Plymouth District Council. Tasmanian company TasFoods launched a legal action against the transaction when it was narrowly outbid for the asset, which was later settled. Jan Cameron, founder of clothing company Kathmandu, then entered the fray with a lobbying campaign aimed at blocking the deal and returning the dairy to Australian ownership.
On Tuesday Ms Cameron said politicians from the main Australian parties were short-sighted as they did not see the importance of food security.
“The Chinese get it — that is why they are buying up as much farm land as they can,” she said. “There are different ways to structure these deals and Australia shouldn’t be selling the land.”
Lu Xianfeng controls Moon Lake Investments and is also founder and largest shareholder of Shenzhen-listed Ningbo Xianfeng New Material, which has a market capitalisation of $1.5bn. He recently wrote an article for a local newspaper in Tasmania explaining that Moon Lake Investment’s business strategy would mean “growth for all”.
Will Hodgman, Tasmania’s premier, also backed the deal, telling the Financial Times that if local objections blocked the deal it risked alienating future Chinese investors.
Mr Morrison cited pledges by Moon Lake to invest A$100m in the dairy, create an extra 95 jobs and maintain the same level of milk supply in Australia in his decision.
“Ongoing foreign investment remains a key part of growing Australia’s output and employment and, through this, our standard of living,” he added.
Turnbull calls snap review of Safe Schools LGBTI program
Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi says the partyroom shares concerns of parents who want schools to teach their children ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’.
Malcolm Turnbull has ordered a snap review of the $8 million taxpayer-funded program aimed at teaching schoolkids about sexual orientation and transgender issues to avert a split in Coalition ranks erupting in parliament.
The independent review, which will report in March, was condemned by Labor, the Greens and the Australian Education Union as a “capitulation” to the Coalition’s conservative wing.
Several government MPs were yesterday mounting a campaign to kill off the Safe Schools program being run in 495 schools, but The Australian understands a Senate motion demanding the Prime Minister withdraw the remaining $2m in funding was pulled after agreement was reached between Education Minister Simon Birmingham and the Nationals Barry O’Sullivan.
Senator Birmingham, who has defended the program, said: “It is essential that all material is age appropriate and that parents have confidence in any resources used in a school to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe.”
He has written to education ministers asking them to confirm parents are being consulted prior to schools introducing the scheme.
Last night, no decision had been made on who would conduct the Turnbull review.
The controversial teaching manual, All of Us, includes a role-playing exercise in which children as young as 11 are encouraged to imagine how it would feel to live in a same-sex relationship.
In one lesson, on transgender experiences, children are asked to imagine losing their genitalia.
The AEU’s federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said the program was working well.
“A majority of young LGBTI people report bullying and 80 per cent of those say that it happens at school,” she said. “All young people should be able to feel safe and supported at school.”
The Greens spokesman on LGBTI and marriage equality, Robert Simms, said opposition to the program was based on the “absurd idea that simply by talking about differences in sexuality or gender identity you’re going to recruit people”.
Coalition sources told The Australian severalMPs expressed concern in the partyroom about the scheme, including senators O’Sullivan and Cory Bernardi as well as Andrew Nikolic, George Christensen, David Fawcett and Jo Lindgren.
The key Coalition champion for same-sex marriage, Warren Entsch, told The Australian there were problems with the program that should be addressed.
He backs extra support for gay and transgender schoolkids, however, “some of the terminology and the references there should be avoided. I can understand why people have raised concerns”.
Mr Nikolic said he believed parents needed to approve of the material before it was taught to their children.
“Young kids are being told their gender is not defined by their genitalia and only they will know if they are a boy or a girl,’’ he said.
Senator Bernardi said the Coalition partyroom shared concerns of parents who wanted schools to teach their children “reading, writing and arithmetic” rather than “indoctrinating them with a radical political and social agenda”.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said while former prime minister Tony Abbott had sacked Senator Bernardi for “offensive comments” Mr Turnbull was now indulging him with a review.
Senator Bernardi presented a petition to the Senate with 9499 signatures calling on the government to remove funding for the program.
Students at Sydney performing arts school 'win right to wear the uniform of either sex'
Performing arts? I can't say I am surprised at weirdness there
Students at a leading Sydney high school have won a claim to change their dress policy, allowing them to wear the uniform of either sex. The move has received widespread support, but has been criticised by Christian groups.
Pupils at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in Sydney, Australia, successfully lobbied the school to scrap gender restrictions on uniform after students began challenging the school's administration last week.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Wendy Francis, a spokeswoman for The Australian Christian Lobby, said: "To encourage a guy to wear a dress would just be setting him up for bullying." She also described the move as "retrograde" and "laughable", adding: "I don't get it. It is a retrograde idea in my mind, there is no need to say we are going to allow boys to wear a kilt or girls to wear trousers, I find it almost laughable."
However, Jo Dwyer, a year 11 student at the school, said that changes were needed to make the uniform inclusive: "Before the changes were implemented, students had to go through the school with parental permission and notes from psychologists before they were allowed to wear the cross-gender uniform, and that wasn't really a possibility for some students whose parents aren't supportive of their gender identity."
The Foundation for Young Australians, which runs the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA), a group aiming to create "safe and inclusive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender-diverse students, staff and families", called the students "absolute heroes". SSCA is encouraging other schools to follow suit and adopt similar uniform policies.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
That dreaded land clearing again
Below is another Greenie lament about land clearing. Most of the world lives on land that has been cleared of its native vegetation but that precedent cuts no ice with Greenies. I said a lot more about that issue last month so will not pursue it again.
The rant below is totally one-eyed, as we have come to expect. Their basic objection to clearing is species loss and water pollution. And their only response to those problems, if they are problems, is "Stop everything". The authors are senior academics but you would never guess it. It is all just hand-waving, with nothing scholarly about it.
A scholarly article would do a survey of the major species, research how many there are, give some argument for why they are important and study how many are needed to maintain a viable population.
Why do that? Because there are conflicting claims on land use. One side cannot have it all to themselves, though Greenies would clearly like to. In the Anglosphere, conflicting claims are customarily resolved by compromise. Arrangements are worked out that allow both sides to get what is most important to them.
And what is most important to Greenies is clear enough: Species preservation. So we need to know just how much land is needed for species preservation and how much can be released for food production. So if we took the scholarly steps above, a compromise suitable to both sides should be possible. But a mature response like that is beyond Greenies. Their only policy is "winner take all", with themselves as the winner.
That rightly causes others to dig their heels in and the Greenies may in the end get very little of what they want -- probably less than they could have got via compromise.
And they are far too myopic to see what has been happening in the last couple of years. When a conservative Queensland government lifted a whole lot of Leftist restrictions on land use, landowners went for broke. They have busily been clearing as much land as they can before restrictions hit them again. Much land may have been cleared that need not have been cleared if more moderate land use restrictions had been probable.
Just some excerpts below as it is all so brainless and predictable
Land clearing has returned to Queensland in a big way. After we expressed concern that policy changes since 2012 would lead to a resurgence in clearing of native vegetation, this outcome was confirmed by government figures released late last year.
It is now clear that land clearing is accelerating in Queensland. The new data confirm that 296,000 hectares of bushland was cleared in 2013-14 – three times as much as in 2008-09 – mainly for conversion to pastures. These losses do not include the well-publicised clearing permitted by the government of nearly 900 square kilometres at two properties, Olive Vale and Strathmore, which commenced in 2015.
The increases in land clearing are across the board. They include losses of over 100,000 hectares of old-growth habitats, as well as the destruction of “high-value regrowth” – the advanced regeneration of endangered ecosystems.
These ecosystems have already been reduced to less than 10% of their original extent, and their recovery relies on allowing this regrowth to mature.
Alarmingly, our analysis of where the recent clearing has occurred reveals that even “of concern” and “endangered” remnant ecosystems are being lost at much higher rates now than before.
While this level of vegetation loss and damage continues apace, Australia’s environmental programs will fall well short of achieving their aims.
Land clearing affects all Australians, not just Queenslanders. Australia spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year trying to redress past environmental damage from land clearing. Tens of thousands of volunteers dedicate their time, money and land to the effort.
But despite undeniable local benefits of such programs, their contribution to national environmental goals is undone, sometimes many times over, by the damage being done in Queensland.
Species cannot recover if their habitat is being destroyed faster than it is being restored. But under Caring for our Country and Biodiversity Fund grants, the extent of tree planting to restore habitat across Australia reported since 2013 is just over 42,000 hectares - an order of magnitude less than what was cleared in Queensland alone in just two years.
And it will be many decades before these new plantings will provide anything like the environmental benefits of mature native vegetation.
Land clearing between 2012 and 2014 in Queensland is estimated to have wiped out more than 40,000 hectares of koala habitat, as well as habitat for over 200 other threatened species. Clearing, along with drought (which is also made worse by clearing), is the major cause of an 50% decline in koalas of south-west and central Queensland since 1996.
The loss of remnant habitat, especially from forests along waterways, means more habitat fragmentation. This is a further threat to many species of wildlife, and it hampers our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
The current Palaszczuk government in Queensland has repeated its election promise to re-strengthen native vegetation protections. The amendment bill is due to be introduced to parliament within weeks.
But the minority government relies on the votes of cross-benchers to pass its legislation–so for now, the future of some of Australia’s most precious environmental assets remains uncertain.
Age, gender, race? Climate scepticism is predominantly party political
Because conservatives don't like the power grabs that such scares tend to legitimate
It appears the adage that climate change sceptics are typically conservative white men is only partly true, with a new study finding the political party you support to be a much stronger marker of where you line-up on global warming than gender, age and race.
But if you do accept the scientific evidence humans are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, the same research also suggests that does not mean you lead a greener private life.
In an effort to tease out what shapes individual views and actions on climate change, Australian researchers analysed almost 200 studies and polls covering 56 countries.
They found that political affiliation was a much larger determinant of a person's willingness to accept humanity's role in climate change than other social fault lines. Conservative voters were more likely to be sceptical, while progressive voters typically believed the science.
A person's broader political ideology, such as whether they saw themselves as conservative or liberal, also had a notable effect, albeit weaker than party support.
Other variables such as age, gender, education, income and race had a much lower, and often negligible, impact. The same was also true for individual experiences of extreme weather events.
"Although a 'conservative white male' profile has emerged of climate change sceptics in the United States, our analysis of polls across multiple nations suggests that the 'conservative' part of that equation would seem to be more diagnostic than the 'white male' part," finds the paper, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Tuesday.
Matthew Hornsey, a psychology professor at the University of Queensland and one of the authors of the study, said climate science was far too complex for the vast majority of people to be totally across, meaning for most it was a matter of trust.
Some have an implicit trust in scientists and their methods, he said, but others turned to "gut feelings that are largely about their values, their politics, their world view".
"Age, sex and race aren't the issue: it's your deeper philosophies about the free market, about big versus small government, about individualistic versus socialistic ways of responding to societal problems, about whether or not you have a moral suspicion of industry," Professor Hornsey said.
The finding from the studies included in the analysis, almost half of which came from the United States, echoed recent dedicated Australian polls. Last year an analysis of five CSIRO climate surveys - a program now axed - found barely a quarter of Coalition voters accepted humanity was mostly responsible for climate change, as opposed to 59 per cent of Labor voters and 76 per cent of Greens supporters.
But accepting climate change did not necessarily make you greener, at least in your home life, the study also found.
While those who accept human's role in climate changes were more likely to take more public action, such as signing petitions or joining demonstrations, that was not necessarily replicated in private action, such as cutting energy use at home and using public transport over the car.
Professor Hornsey said this was partly about barriers to action, such as not having access to public transport. But there were a group of people who believed in climate change and wanted something done about it, but saw it as a global responsibility rather than an issue of individual sacrifice.
"In Australia it was striking how concern about climate change coexisted with resentment about paying the [now defunct] carbon tax," Professor Hornsey said.
Let's talk about 'the youth'
This week Fairfax breathlessly reported an 'exclusive' from The Australia Institute that purported to show the current tax treatment of investment properties and superannuation delivers almost no benefits to the under-30s.
It's not difficult to see why. When the biggest benefits of both tax policies apply to those paying the highest marginal tax rate (those earning above $180,000 p.a.) it makes sense that most people in the first few years of their career are not earning anywhere near that much.
What this simplistic analysis fails to account for is the bleedin' obvious: young people don't stay young forever. They start to earn more and build their wealth, often through investing in property -- just as previous generations have done.
If we truly want to have a conversation about intergenerational equity, let's talk about how Labor's policy, which would enable existing property investors to keep their portfolios through grandfathering but bar new investors from buying established properties, would create two classes of investors -- where young people are on the losing side.
Consider that the government, instead of letting spending cuts do the heavy lifting on budget repair, is allowing bracket creep on income taxes to do the work instead. Younger people of working age are paying higher taxes because of political unwillingness to tackle the real culprit: spending. The largest chunk of federal spending is the Age Pension, and today's pensioners are not expected to unlock the wealth in their home to support their lifestyle in retirement.
By the time the young people of today reach retirement age (no doubt pushed to 70 or 75 by then), the Age Pension will be a curious quirk of history: as irrelevant as 1 and 2 cent pieces. Superannuation and the family home will be the principal form of supporting oneself in retirement.
Since we're talking about superannuation, let's talk about how any 'reform' of the tax arrangements surrounding superannuation (almost certainly just a tax grab) would in all likelihood preserve the current generous system of concessions for those who are closer to retirement. It'll be today's young people who are slugged with higher tax on that same pot of money which is then meant to support them fully in retirement.
Higher taxes and more spending means younger taxpayers and future generations are footing the bill for others' profligacy. This absurd yet ubiquitous narrative that big government is good for 'the young' is nothing but a con.
Salvation Army tells asylum seeker he will 'never live in Australia'
His advice was accurate but he could have expressed more sympathy. But doing that might have encouraged the foolish Tamil to stay on
The Salvation Army has effectively urged a Tamil asylum seeker on Manus Island to go home because: "You will never live in Australia".
A Salvation Army risk and compliance officer, who is only identified as "Andrew", wrote to a Tamil man on the charity's letterhead in January 2014 saying: "You can expect to remain in this facility for a very long time whilst this process is undertaken.
"You may be given an opportunity to be re-settled in PNG but I am not sure when or if this may occur. The only other option available to you is to seek repatriation with the assistance to IOM (International Organization for Migration) to your country of origin.
"If you choose not to go home you will spend a very, very long time here. You have been told lies by people smugglers."
The Salvation Army has declared publicly its opposition to offshore detention and received more than $70 million under a contract to provide humanitarian services on Manus Island and Nauru between 2012 and 2014. A spokesman acknowledged the letter was written by one of its staff "in consultation" with the Immigration Department.
He said the group's contract with the department required it to communicate official information to detainees, including the time frames associated with the processing of their asylum seeker claims.
The message could have been communicated more sensitively, the spokesman said, but it accurately reflected the government's July 2013 policy decision not to re-settle boat arrivals in Australia.
"The Salvation Army agrees that the content of the letter, read in isolation, is incredibly harsh, however, there was no malicious or cruel intent held when this letter was written," the spokesman said.
An Immigration department spokeswoman said the contract with the Salvation Army contained no requirement for the Department to "vet, oversee or help draft" correspondence to transferees.
The Tamil man was part of a group known as "OPK" which attempted to enter Australia by boat in mid-2013.
"Perhaps in some part, the content of the letter reflected a choice between two incredibly difficult situations, firstly, where transferees would be left in limbo - not knowing what would happen to them or still hoping that they would be resettled in Australia - or alternatively, communicating the incredibly difficult message that post 19 July 2013, transferees would not be resettled in Australia and according to the government policy there would be absolutely no exceptions," the Salvation Army spokesman said.
"In communicating the latter, it was hoped that this could at least give the transferees some certainty about their future and some choice (although a very bleak choice) as to whether they would remain at the centres or return to their country of origin if they preferred to do so."
Asylum seekers have also alleged that they were beaten by private security guards during an operation to end a January 2015 Manus Island hunger strike, and have told Fairfax Media in a series of letters that they were jailed in the nearby Lorengau police cells for up to 21 days.
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, February 23, 2016
Australian conservative politician wants to combat adverse opinions about Muslims in Australia
Mr Laundy seems to be a rather low wattage intellect. He has drunk the Leftist Kool-Aid -- that less than 1% of Muslims in Western countries engage in terrorism and therefore Muslims are no problem. Let me give a small analogy to that. What say you were buying a new car and the salesman told you that this car could blow up and kill you but there is only a very small chance of that happening? Would you buy that car when other, safer cars in the same price-range were available? I doubt it.
And importing Muslims into Australia is similar to buying that car. There are many other needy people we could bring into this country -- persecuted Middle-East Christians, for instance. So why not leave the Muslims to rot in the hellholes they and their ilk have created and bring in more compatible people, people who have NO record of blowing up religious unbelievers?
But surely it is unjust to judge a whole group of people by a few oddballs? It is, in general. But this is not about justice. It is about prevention. All those who come to us have found refuge somewhere else first. Australia has no borders with the Middle East. So let them stay there. We have no obligation to take in people who just want a better standard of living. So there is no injustice in leaving them be. And by leaving them be we prevent the attacks that a small minority of them will mount on us.
But attacks on us by a small minority are only a part of the problem. The basic problem can be found by opening up a Koran and reading almost any page there -- something the entire Left refuses to do. The Koran is a very hostile, hate-filled book. It is full of instructions to kill or subjugate non-Muslims. Start at Sura 9, for instance. Islam preaches religious supremacism. As Binyamin Netanyahu said rather wearily recently: We have just got rid of racial supremacism (Hitler) and now we have religious supremacism to deal with.
Just as most Christians don't do what the Bible tells them, most Muslims don't do what the Koran tells them. To do so would be difficult and risky. But the underlying attitude taught in the Koran is still there. And that matters. At its most basic, Christianity is a religion of kindness, whereas Islam is a religion of hate. There are equivalents in the Koran to the Golden Rule but those teachings apply to fellow Muslims only. See here. The terrorist acts against us are the tip of an iceberg of hate.
As a result, Muslims are very arrogant towards non-Muslims. They think they have the truth and we do not. And that gives them feelings of superiority towards us and makes them at least uncaring about our wellbeing if not hostile to it. Their religion tells them NOT to adapt or assimilate to our ways. They want us to assimilate to their ways and are not backward in demanding that.
Why should we put up with such incompatible people? Why should we invite into our country people who despise us? It's insane. We should certainly not let any more into our country and should make it a demand on those who are already here that they change their religion or get out. Changing your religion is a common thing in our country. Let Muslims adapt to that. Many innocent Australians have died at the hands of Muslims -- mostly in Bali but also in Australia itself. Let there be no more of that
New assistant minister for multiculturalism Craig Laundy says most inflammatory opinions about Islam and Muslims came from people who were "not well informed".
Malcolm Turnbull's new assistant minister for multiculturalism, Craig Laundy, has vowed to combat "wrong" public perceptions about Australia's Muslims.
Ethnic and religious leaders have reported increased tension in recent months amid the rise of Islamic State and calls from political leaders such as Tony Abbott for a "reformation" of Islam.
Mr Laundy, a former publican from Sydney's culturally diverse inner-west, said the vast majority of inflammatory opinions about Islam and Muslims came from people who were "not well informed" and their views were "wrong".
Although he acknowledged greater "tension" in the community following recent terrorist attacks, Mr Laundy said Australians should "come together in times of challenge, not fall apart".
"People that dive into this debate and say controversial things, I would argue, the vast majority are speaking from a position that is not well informed," Mr Laundy told ABC Radio.
"My job . is to enter the debate, knowing the background and the community, engaging and explaining to Australia the challenges that these communities actually face.
Mr Laundy said Australian Muslims were "not scared" about debating how their religious practices integrated with the Australian way of life, but the discussion should be "respectful" and "informed".
He said the story of Australian multiculturalism was new arrivals "rolling up their sleeves and having a go".
"That has never changed be it the Snowy Mountains workers (from Europe) after World War Two or be it the Hazara Afghanis that are working in local abattoirs around the country as we speak - very good boners, for example - they are here to give their families more opportunities than they had," he said.
"The humanitarian intake visa category is one of the most entrepreneurial classes of visa category we have. I see new arrivals start working for someone else and within six or 12 months they've started their own business."
Treasurer will gain power to force foreign companies to sell Australian assets if they avoid paying tax
This is bad policy. It will lead to a reduction in foreign investment and an increase in corruption. A better solution would be a turnovrer tax on gross revenue for multinational companies. A 2% turnover tax would be simple to administer, would lead to no accounting shenanigans and would probably raise about the same as normal domestic tax arrangements
Multinationals dodging tax on earnings in Australia could be forced to sell their assets under a tough new crackdown by the Federal Government.
Treasurer Scott Morrison said new foreign investment applications would now face requirements to pay tax on what they earned in Australia.
In a move that is likely to unsettle multinationals considering an Australian investment, Mr Morrison now has powers to force a company to sell assets if the appropriate tax is not paid.
"The Government is committed to ensuring companies operating in Australia pay tax on their Australian earnings. Where companies fail to do so I will have powers to take action, including ordering divestment of Australian assets," Mr Morrison said in a statement.
"Foreign investment applications will have to comply with Australian taxation law, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) directions to provide information in relation to the investment and advise the ATO if investors enter into any transactions with non-residents to which transfer pricing or anti-avoidance measures of Australian tax law may potentially apply."
Mr Morrison said any breach of the new conditions imposed by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) could result in prosecution, fines and, ultimately, the divestment of an asset.
"Australians expect all entities operating in Australia to maintain the highest standards of corporate behaviour, irrespective of whether those entities are Australian or foreign owned," Mr Morrison said.
The requirements come after pressure from the ATO and the former treasurer Joe Hockey to ensure multinationals are not able to shift profits to low-tax havens, such as Singapore, to avoid paying more tax in Australia.
The politically charged issue has also prompted hard questioning of multinational chief executives from companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft and News Corporation, who have been grilled by a Senate inquiry.
The legal loopholes in tax law to allow the use of "profit shifting" have seen hundreds of millions, and possibly billions, of dollars of tax avoided in recent years.
An easy transition from the Greens to the Labor party for a "black" lawyer
An opportunistic transition from the far Left to the more cautious Left. She is still pretty extreme, however. Interesting that the "Aborigines" who are full of grievance about "racism" all seem to have a lot of white ancestry and all seem actually to have done pretty well for themselves. The explanation for that couldn't possibly be a genetic one, of course
Labor's candidate in the federal seat of Swan, human rights activist Tammy Solonec, stood for the Greens at the 2013 West Australian election, has never voted for the ALP and believes the use of the word "Aborigine" has racist -overtones.
The indigenous lawyer, who campaigned this week with Bill Shorten in Perth, also wants -Australia to be taken to the International Criminal Court for -"cultural genocide" for continuing to remove- Aboriginal children from their families.
During campaigning as a Green for the last state election, Ms Solonec said she had always voted for the party - apart from once voting for the Democrats - because she believed in its "philosophies and policies".
She also criticised Labor's support- for the Northern Territory intervention. "We just wish other parties would have the courage that Rachel (Siewert) and the Greens have," she told a Greens newsletter at the time.
But Ms Solonec told The Australian yesterday she had drifted away from the Greens after 2013 and now felt more at home in the Labor Party, among the Opposition Leader and other MPs including- deputy Tanya Plibersek.
Her preselection for Labor has surprised some in the party's Right faction, who say it highlights the rise of Left activists and a worrying trend of targeting the Greens to find new candidates. But others in the party say Ms Solonec is highly impressive and would make an excellent federal MP.
Another Labor recruit for this year's election, Islamic radicalism expert Anne Aly, was a federal candidate for the Greens in 2007, although she withdrew before election day.
All three of Labor's lower house MPs in Western Australia - Gary Gray, Alannah MacTiernan and Melissa Parke - have announced that they will not recontest the election, throwing the preselection process into chaos.
In Perth yesterday, Mr Shorten refused to answer questions on whether he believed Labor's national executive should intervene in the state to stop an attempt by the left-wing Maritime Union of Australia to install its own candidate in the seat of Fremantle.
Ms Solonec, who is on leave from her job with Amnesty International to campaign for Swan, said her strong beliefs on social justice were aligned with Labor.
"When people are young and idealistic I think they go where their heart is, but I'm now really enjoying being part of Labor," she said. "And I think we are all ---entitled to experiment with different things and to change our mind."
Ms Solonec said it would have been "very difficult" to win a seat as a Green because the party had never won a lower-house seat in Western Australia. "The Labor Party approached me and it just seemed too good an opportunity to not try."
Ms Solonec said she believed there was a case for Australia to be taken to the ICC under the UN's genocide convention for its continued removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Children at risk should only be removed "temporarily" and too many children were being removed on a permanent basis, creating a "second stolen generation".
In an article last year entitled "Why saying Aborigine isn't OK", Ms Solonec wrote the word was perceived as insensitive because it had "racist connotations" from Australia's colonial past and "lumps people with diverse backgrounds into a single group".
Australia avoiding the predicted disasters of the commodity rout
As evidence mounts that Australia's economy is slowing, one surprising consensus is emerging: It isn't nearly as bad as it should be.
Other big resource exporters such as Brazil and Canada have been slammed far worse over the past year and a half by the falling commodities trade that was sparked by China's deceleration. Australia, in contrast, seems already to have passed its nadir and is set to recover over the next two years, the government and many economists say.
"The economy is continuing to grow at a modest pace, in the face of considerable adjustment challenges," Glenn Stevens, governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, told parliament Friday.
Australia's resilience owes largely to two broad trends--strong infrastructure investment in recent years and an economic shift to services from mining. The trend has been helped by a weak Australian dollar and slow wage growth. All of this has made Australian goods and services more competitive globally, allowing the country, in some cases, to grab more market share.
During the boom period of the past decade, Australian companies invested billions of dollars to increase production capacity and modernize the country's mining, rail, and port facilities. That has helped to lower production costs, making Australia commodities such as iron ore and coal more competitive abroad. The trend is likely to be bolstered by an expected boom in sales of liquefied natural gas as the billions of dollars invested in new facilities start production over the next few years.
So, even as the world's top commodities buyer, China, is acquiring lower volumes from many other countries, its demand from nearby Australia is holding steady. That is also helping to lower unemployment, which has fallen to 5.8%. spurring consumer spending.
"The investments that were undertaken during the boom by the private sector are still productive investments," even at today's lower commodities prices, said Warwick McKibbin, a professor of economics at Australian National University.
Further aiding Australia's economy is the resource-rich country's shift from traditional mining to services, such as health care, education and tourism, which was propped up by a record 1 million Chinese tourists in 2015. These labor-intensive industries are absorbing jobs lost in mining and driving lucrative new avenues of export growth, economists say.
"Australia has more than one string to its bow," said Saul Eslake, former chief economist at ANZ and Merrill Lynch in Australia.
The country's central bank forecast this month a return to strong annual GDP growth of about 3% this year and next, from an expected 2.5% last year. A government jobs report to be released on Thursday will be the next closely watched sign of the economy's health.
To be sure, risks remain for Australia.
Government debt is growing, sparking speculation that the country could lose its coveted triple-A rating by ratings firms. Australian exports plunged 5% in December from the prior month by value due to falling prices, an unusually high trade deficit for the country. In fact, export income has been falling for two years, with increased volumes of iron ore and coal failing to compensate for prices that have fallen steeply from their 2011 peak. And the outlook for commodities prices are still cloudy.
Global risks surrounding Australia's big trading partners, including the U.S. and Japan, are also on the minds of Australian policy makers. None top the questions surrounding China, which is also navigating a difficult transition, and whether it will devaluate the yuan again. Australian policy makers' options in addressing any renewed downturn are limited after the central bank dropped interest rates to record lows.
"The Chinese economy has become more of a concern for many observers," the RBA's Mr. Stevens told parliament. "The more recent anxiety is probably best described as greater uncertainty over the intentions of Chinese policy makers."
Still, after predicting a 50-50 chance of recession less than a year ago, Mr. McKibbin recently lowered that probability to about 20% due to strong exports, aided by a currency that has fallen by nearly 40% in the past five years, and a reasonably healthy job market.
Canada and Brazil haven't weathered the commodities rout nearly as well. Brazil is mired in its worst recession in decades and beset by high inflation, while Canada is considering major infrastructure investments to stimulate a sputtering economy.
In contrast, Australia's economy looks set to be helped by some favorable trade trends. By June, the government projects that iron ore shipments will have roughly doubled over the past five years to a record 818 million metric tons, while liquefied natural gas exports will rise 80% to 36.2 million tons.
"While the rest of the world is experiencing anemic trade, Australia stands out because exports, both mining volume and services are now key contributors to growth," Paul Bloxham, chief economist at HSBC, Australia.
Australia Post refuses to release WA complaints data
Another unaccountable bureaucracy
Australia Post has refused to release its customer complaints data for Western Australia as frustrated Perth residents continue to criticise the service and its delivery drivers.
The government-owned entity's Facebook page is flooded with hundreds of complaints a day ranging from stolen parcels, damaged goods and drivers not knocking when a person is home waiting for an item.
Many, including Perth woman Kelly Bell, also complained of waiting on the phone for hours to lodge an issue.
Ms Bell said she had a $300 graduation dress stolen from her Bentley front doorstep in February after a delivery driver left it unattended and in clear view a busy footpath three metres away.
According to Australia Post's policy, the driver is required to leave the parcel in a safe location, or leave a note for the person to collect the item from a local post office.
Despite the driver doing neither, Ms Bell was told she would not be reimbursed for her express-posted package.
"Australia Post failed in its duty of care to deliver my parcel safely, yes it was a dress, but what other parcels, containing 'more important' items are being left in 'safe places', only to be stolen," she said.
"Since the incident, I was too nervous to have anything sent to that address, so instead forwarded my mail to a friend's place.
"If Australia Post expects customers to keep using their service, they need to realise that mail often contains important and sentimental items that need to be delivered appropriately."
Residents in Ellenbrook also complained of Australia Post delivery drivers not knocking on their front door before leaving pick-up notes for residents to collect their item from a local post office.
"They're either understaffed and don't have time or are just lazy," one resident said. "I don't know which but every time you go to the post office there is a huge line out the door of people picking stuff up."
Another angry customer, Joe from Beeliar, told WAtoday he had his son's passport left in his letterbox, despite it being labelled as registered mail, which requires a signature to be delivered.
The parcel had been opened by someone when he found it on February 5. "I followed up with the Bibra Lake branch and a gentleman there told me there was no tracking on that parcel and nothing they could do to track which postie," Joe said. "I find it hard to believe, especially that it came from a WA state office."
Despite the complaints, an Australia Post spokesman said it had received "positive feedback" about its policy that required drivers to knock three times and call out before leaving a card or placing the item in a safe location.
"If there is no safe location, a notification card will be left under the front door to advise the recipient that delivery was attempted and their parcel is available to be collected from a nearby Australia Post outlet," he said.
"When there are no delivery instructions and a signature is not required and nobody is home, the delivery driver will look for a safe location to leave the parcel.
"The theft of parcels after delivery is concerning and we continue to provide delivery options that allow our customers to receive their parcels when and where it suits them, through parcel lockers, safe drop, deliveries direct to an Australia Post location, re-directions and twilight deliveries."
This week, police charged a Perth woman who brazenly stole a Valentine's Day gift from the doorstep of a Port Kennedy home.
Two months ago, two northern suburbs women dubbed the 'Christmas Grinches' were allegedly caught stealing presents from doorsteps in Wanneroo.
Australia Post, a government-owned entity, refused to provide statistics on the number of complaints it received, with a spokesman saying the company "complies with all relevant reporting requirements".
"There has been no reduction in Australia Post's performance levels," a spokesman said. "Our year-to-date service performance for Western Australia is above our community service obligation of 94%."
Australia Post's 2015 annual report stated the industry's ombudsman had spent an estimated $550,000 investigating complaints relating to its service in 2014-15.
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