Sunday, July 31, 2016

Greenie moans about the Barrier Reef are putting tourists off  -- NOT

As with the boy who cried wolf, most people probably discount the incessant Greenie moans

FAR North tourism operators are flat strap as cashed-up visitors take advantage of easy access to Tropical Queensland.

Data released by Cairns Airport this week shows about 43,000 passengers travelled through the international terminal last month, marking a 13.3 per cent rise from June last year.

Domestic passengers last month topped 335,600, about 14,400 more than the previous June.

According to the data, European passports used when clearing immigration at Cairns Airport have exceeded 68,600 over the past 12 months, a growth of 75 per cent.

A record number of international competitors also contested the 2016 Cairns Ironman in June.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland director of business and tourism events, Rosie Douglas, said the June growth continued to reflect the trends being experienced by the region’s industry.

“The addition of direct flights from Hong Kong and the Philippines has given greater access to the Asian and European markets, which also have been using the direct flights from Singapore,” she said.

“This increase in aviation capacity from Asia was instrumental in Cairns winning the right to host the prestigious Ironman Asia-Pacific, the feature event of the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival during June.

“June also marks the start of the school holidays for the United Kingdom, Northern Europe and Australia, bringing stronger numbers from those markets.”

Cairns Airport last month celebrated a milestone five million passengers for the year, with the total number now having reached about 5,011,000.

The influx of international and domestic visitors is being felt throughout the Far North.

Skyrail general manager Craig Pocock said the tourism heavyweight was experiencing “pre-global financial crisis” numbers.

“We’ve certainly seen strong growth across all markets,” he said. “This season we’ve also been strong both before and after the school break, and now we’re benefiting from the Japanese holiday period.

“This is a bright and optimistic period we’re experiencing, and bookings indicate that it will continue for some time.”

Mr Pocock said Skyrail was having to “ramp up” its operations to cater for the ongoing growth.

“We’ve had to increase resources, staffing and modify the way we operate to cater for the volume of visitors,” he said.


Stop the over-reaction. This was not ‘torture’

John Heffernan writes:

After more than 33 years working in both adult and juvenile corrections I feel I am qualified to present an informed opinion on this situation.

The ABC “Four Corners” program a few nights ago showed just a few seconds of edited footage which has now resulted in politicians from all over the country jumping on the bandwagon and declaring years of torture and cover-up in the management of juveniles offenders in the NT.

As evidence of this “torture” the ABC presented an image of a detainee in a chair with a hood over his head and proclaimed this is the way prisoners of war are treated, not kids.

I’m sorry, but through my experienced eyes I see a juvenile offender, who has obviously been acting out, being provided time out, restrained in an approved chair, with an approved “spit hood” covering his head.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I would never condone the use of excessive force and a couple of incidents shown on video would suggest that staff may have crossed the line and gone too far on those occasions.

But that said, force must be used in certain instances within adult and juvenile correctional centres, that is a fact of life. These juveniles are not locked up for stealing lollies from the local corner store. By the time they are actually incarcerated they have been given every possible chance by the courts.

I find it somewhat ironic that society demands of our governments and the judiciary that both adults and juveniles that commit extremely serious crimes receive the maximum penalty available. Our politicians respond to these requests and talk tough in the process and vow to protect the community by ensuring the offenders are put behind bars for as long as possible.

Yet, when those same offenders, when incarcerated, choose to behave in the same manner that resulted in their imprisonment by kicking, punching and spitting on gaol staff, politicians want to become all self-righteous when prison staff are forced to address that behaviour within the limited means available.

The policies and procedure relating to the use of force with gaols and detention centres are very specific in nature. They are also very restrictive in the amount of force that can be used, particularly when it come to juveniles.

There are approved levels of force and permission must be gained from the relevant authority as the level of force to be used increases. Departmental heads have approved those policies and politicians are aware of them, however, it appears now right now everyone in authority is ducking for cover leaving officers on the ground to assume the responsibility.

Correctional centres and juvenile detention centres, by their very nature, are dangerous places to work. Everyday staff are abused and quite often assaulted by those that are housed within. The work the officers perform is difficult and demanding.

When it comes to the management of young offenders, I have found some of the most compassionate people work in these centres. Officers trying their best to manage these offenders are often dealing with the consequences of young offenders who have absolutely no respect for the law. By the time the offender reaches a point where a magistrate decides incarceration is the only answer the damage is well and truly done.

In my opinion what is happening now is completely unfair to those staff tasked with managing young offenders.

There is another side to this story. A side that I do not believe for a moment to be as sinister and as secretive as what certain people would have us believe. It should not require a royal commission to determine the full facts of this matter. A full investigation at a fraction of the cost, I believe, would achieve the same result. Talk about using a sledgehammer to crush a walnut.


Muslim migration to Australia: the big slowdown

When it comes to immigration, the government and opposition are in agreement. Our migration program is proudly non-discriminatory and that is how it should remain.

Yet the Australian government is pursuing a migration strategy that makes it extremely difficult for large numbers of Muslims from the Middle East to settle here, even if that is not the policy’s aim.

While governments of all stripes insist Australia’s migration program is non-discriminatory, an analysis of available data by The Australian suggests that the migration of Muslims from Lebanon, in particular, has slowed to a trickle, with no sign of a rush coming anytime soon.

Immigration officials tell The Australian that the low number of Muslim immigrants from the Middle East arriving in recent years has nothing to do with their religion, since applicants are not asked to state their faith when they apply to settle.

Instead, they say, it’s an unintended consequence of a migration policy that is almost entirely focused on attracting skilled and family reunion migrants from countries such as India (now Australia’s No 1 source of permanent migrants, with 34,874 arrivals last year) and China (27,874).

The strategy, which both major parties insist is not deliberate, means that while Islam was once the fastest growing religion in Australia, there are now more Buddhists (2.5 per cent of the population) than there are Muslims (2.2 per cent), and the Hindus are rapidly catching up.

“There are officials and politicians who openly favour Christians including Orthodox Christians (and Jewish migrants over Muslims),” one of Australia’s most eminent scholars on immigration, James Jupp of the Australian National University, tells The Australian. But, he says, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection “will never admit bias as many decisions are made locally” — that is, by officials in the country of origin.

Islamic Sciences & Research Academy Australia’s director Mehmet Ozalp says the local community could not help but notice that “the Muslim population from the Middle East was at one point growing fast, but that was about 10 years ago, and now it is slowing, whereas the Buddhist and Hindu population was pretty low but has increased dramatically.

“It is concerning because there are calls for stopping Muslim immigration,” Ozalp adds. “It’s not too far to assume that people in parliament may agree with these calls, and we need to worry: are these numbers indicative of an underlying problem?”

Muslim immigration came to the fore during the recent federal election when Senate candidate Pauline Hanson called for a complete ban. A debate kicked off just last week, when Nine Network presenter Sonia Kruger said she, too, wanted a ban on Muslim immigrants coming to Australia.

And this week Liberal senator Eric Abetz sent out a tweet saying: “We need an open and frank discussion on the future of immigration.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton insists, however, that Australia’s migration program is proudly non-discriminatory. “We don’t focus on religion. We focus on skills,” he tells The Australian.

The question of how many Muslim immigrants come to Australia each year is difficult to answer. The Department of Immi­gra­tion says it does not ask newly approved migrants to state their religion and therefore does not keep statistics.

In an effort to find an answer, The Australian studied immigration statistics from 1974 to last year and compared them with census data held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, specifically on the religious affiliation of overseas-born Australians. The two sets of data are not a complete match, making a precise extrapolation impossible, but some trends immediately become clear.

While Lebanon once provided Australia with 2000 to 4000 migrants a year, that number had dropped by 2010-11 to 1143 people (last year’s figure was 1242). The department says it does not know how many of these people were Muslim, but according to ABS data most of the Lebanese migrants who arrived in recent years (57.2 per cent) are not Muslim. If that trend is holding — and there is no reason to suppose that it is not — then Australia is taking as few as 550 Lebanese Muslims a year.

The situation for Iran is similar: while figures show Australia continues to welcome immigrants from Iran (4093 people in 2013-14), the ABS data suggests that as many as 62 per cent of those who arrive are not Muslim but Christian or of the Baha’i Faith.

Halim Rane, associate professor in the school of humanities at Griffith University, who worked for the Department of Immigration for six years, says the trend towards non-Muslim immigration is not new.

“Even in the 1990s, before Islamic extremism was even on the radar, the majority of people coming to Australia from Muslim-majority nations were not Muslim,” he says. “Take Egypt: it is majority Muslim, but Australia takes mostly Coptic Christians because they tend to have more of the skills Australia needs.

“But I don’t believe there is a policy or an anti-Muslim bias because they don’t even ask the question. They wouldn’t know if you’re Muslim or not. What happens is, the government of the day will focus on attracting certain skills — say, technology — and those immigrants will come from China or India, where there are not a lot of Muslims.”

The focus on skills means Australia takes more people from Ireland (5541 in 2013-14) than from Iraq (4304), and more from Nepal (4470), whose population is about 80 per cent Hindu, than from Bangladesh (2569), where most of the population is Muslim.

There is one clear exception to the general rule: Australia welcomed 8281 immigrants from Pakistan in 2014-15, most of whom are assumed to be Muslim, since ABS data shows that 87.7 per cent of Pakistani-born Australians identify as Muslim.

On the other hand, ABS data shows that Hindus are experiencing the fastest growth, with numbers increasing by 189 per cent to 275,500 across a 10-year period, mostly because of immigration.

By contrast, while the number of Muslims in the community is still increasing, it is doing so at the much lower rate (69 per cent across the same 10-year period) and most of that growth would seem to be coming not from immigration but from a high birthrate.

Muslim community leader Jamal Rifi tells The Australian that migration from Lebanon has definitely slowed in recent years, but “it is for a couple of reasons, including that not as many people are trying to come”.

“For some families, it’s expensive to apply, but also because the Lebanese community in Australia is very integrated now,” Rifi says. “There aren’t as many people going back (to Lebanon) to find a partner. It’s better to find a partner here, who will be more educated and liberal and compatible. The marriages between here and there, we have seen failures.”

Rifi says the local community supports the rigorous, skills-based program. “We don’t want anyone who might end up being radicalised. It’s not an anti-Muslim policy, it’s a conscious decision to take people who will contribute, and that is why we don’t have the same problems here.”


Tricky to talk about the sexually confused

Today host Karl Stefanovic has apologised unreservedly for using the slur "tranny" while on-air on Thursday, calling himself "an ignorant tool".

Stefanovic was slammed by the LGBTQI community for using the term - considered a derogatory way to describe transgender women - while joking with colleagues.

The Today Show host apologises for using a transphobic slur and 'crossing a line'.

"I was an ignorant tool. And when I say 'ignorant', I really mean it. Yesterday I got it very wrong," he said on Friday morning.

The slur occurred on Thursday when Stefanovic and co-host Sylvia Jeffreys were interviewing Today reporter Christine Ahern, who was robbed by two transgender women while covering the Rio Olympics in Brazil.

"By using the word 'tranny', I offended an awful lot of beautiful, sensitive people," he said. "I honestly didn't know the negative and deeply hurtful impact that word has, not only on members of the LGBTQI community, but on their family and on their friends.

The 41-year-old presenter - who in the past has used his public platform to call out sexism and xenophobia - said he was wrong in assuming the transgender community would laugh along with him.

Not-for-profit organisation GLAAD states that 'tranny' is a defamatory word used to "dehumanise transgender people and should not be used in mainstream media".

'Transvestite' is also considered an outdated term, often used in the past to describe cross-dressers, and should not be associated with transgender women.

"Like so many other words we used in the past, it's time to throw that one in the bin," Stefanovic continued.

"I have no understanding of what it's like to feel like you are born in the wrong body, to feel uncomfortable in your own skin or the extreme courage it takes to accept yourself and live the life you've always wanted to live."

Critics rounded on Stefanovic on Twitter on Thursday, telling the presenter they'd be happy to buy him a beer and educate him.

Encouraging viewers at home to join him in educating themselves, Stefanovic called for tolerance.

"Given the events of the last year, now more than ever we need to educate ourselves, laugh together and embrace each others differences and live with tolerance, compassion and most of all, love and respect for everyone."


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

Friday, July 29, 2016

Cardinal Pell subject of Victoria Police investigation into multiple allegations of sexual abuse

Britain has just undergone a big witch hunt based on a heap of allegations from the distant past like this -- with many of the accusations being found so defective that they never even went  to court. The historic accusations were mostly the work of mentally disturbed people or people looking for a payoff.  I have little doubt that the accusations against His Eminence are similar

Police are investigating multiple child abuse allegations levelled directly against Australia's most senior Catholic cleric Cardinal George Pell, the ABC's 7.30 program has revealed.

Victoria Police's Taskforce SANO, which investigates complaints coming out of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has been examining the allegations by complainants from Ballarat, Torquay and Melbourne for more than a year.

They include allegations about incidents which allegedly happened during Cardinal Pell's time as Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.

7.30 understands that the Pell case has been referred by Victoria Police to the Office of Public Prosecutions for advice.

7.30 has obtained eight police statements from complainants, witnesses and family members who are helping the taskforce with their investigation.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton confirmed last month that the taskforce was investigating multiple allegations against the Cardinal and, if necessary, detectives would fly to Rome to interview George Pell, although the Chief Commissioner said "it had not been put as necessary to me at this point in time".

Mr Ashton declined to comment to 7.30, although his spokesman has confirmed to the program it is "very much a live investigation".

In a statement to the ABC, Cardinal Pell's office said he "emphatically and unequivocally rejects any allegations of sexual abuse against him".

The complaints include those by two men now in their forties, from George Pell's home town of Ballarat, who say he touched them inappropriately in the summer of 1978-79 when he was playing a throwing game with them at the town's Eureka pool.

In another complaint, Torquay businessman Les Tyack gave a statement to the royal commission last year relating to an incident at the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club in the summer of 1986-87.

He said he walked into the club change rooms to discover a naked George Pell behaving in a manner that caused him concern in front of three boys he estimated to be aged between 8 and 10 years old.

A further complaint about George Pell that 7.30 is aware of relates to the period in the 1990s when George Pell was setting up the Melbourne Response — the Australian Catholic Church's first attempt to seriously address child abuse.

It involves two teenage choirboys who asked their parents to leave the choir soon after the alleged abuse had occurred.

One of the boys died in tragic circumstances two years ago and the other is working with Taskforce SANO detectives.

7.30 has met that young man and the family of his former friend who died.

George Pell says claims are 'totally untrue and utterly wrong'

George Pell declined to be interviewed by 7.30 and did not address specific allegations, but said he had never abused anyone.

In a statement, his office said: "The Cardinal does not wish to cause any distress to any victim of abuse. However, claims that he has sexually abused anyone, in any place, at any time in his life are totally untrue and completely wrong."

The Cardinal is entitled to the presumption of innocence and police and prosecutors will decide whether any of the allegations warrant charges.

George Pell has previously faced public allegations of sexual abuse.

In 2002, when George Pell was Archbishop of Sydney, a man came forward to the Church to say that George Pell abused him in 1961 when he was 12 years old and George Pell was a trainee priest.

In a statement to an internal church inquiry headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Alec Southwell, the complainant alleged that on several occasions at a campsite on Phillip Island, the man known to him as "Big George" put his hands down his pants and "got a good handful of his penis and testicles".

He said George Pell molested him on several occasions in a tent and once, under his bathers, when they were in the water, jumping in the waves.

The then-Archbishop Pell stood aside in 2002 while Alec Southwell conducted the inquiry for the Catholic Church.

At the time, George Pell said the allegations were "lies" and said he denied them "utterly and totally".

Some time after the complaint was made a file was compiled on the complainant, who had been a wharfie, a convicted criminal and an alcoholic.

The details of the man's criminal history then appeared in a newspaper article.

Justice Southwell said in his findings that the "complainant's credibility was subjected to a forceful attack", however he found the complainant's evidence truthful.

He also found that George Pell's evidence was truthful.

George Pell returned to his role as Archbishop, saying "there's no mud to stick, I've been exonerated".

Complaints fall outside royal commission's terms of reference

In his statement, Cardinal Pell accused the ABC of a "scandalous smear campaign".

"If there was any credibility in any of these claims, they would have been pursued by the Royal Commission by now."

However, the royal commission advises that these sorts of allegations are outside its terms of reference, because it only investigates institutional responses to child abuse, and it refers any new complaints of clergy abuse to police.

It is expected to make findings on the Cardinal's evidence about his role in the Church's response to allegations of abuse by clergy in coming months.

Some of the behaviour alleged in the Taskforce SANO statements seen by 7.30 may not justify criminal charges, but does seem unusual and inappropriate for a senior priest.

The alleged behaviour raises serious questions about whether George Pell was ever an appropriate person to drive the Church's response to child sexual abuse.

Forensic psychologist and former priest, Terry Laidler, says it also raises questions over whether he should stand aside from his position at the centre of Church power in the Vatican.

"I think, like everyone, he's entitled to presumptions of innocence on criminal matters, to an assumption of goodwill on other matters," Mr Laidler said.

"But I think once something gets to the level of allegations that, on any reasonable standard, are worth giving some credit to, no, I think he's got to stand aside."


Fears asbestos sheets used at construction sites across country

This is just a stupid scare. It's only people working with raw asbestos fibres who have come to grief.  Asbestos in wallboard is harmless.  I sleep under a ceiling made of it every night. Almost any Australian home built in the '50s and '60s had some "fibro" in it (particularly as the internal walls) so we should have mass deaths from it if it is harmful.  We have had none

A South Australian company that imported more than 8000 sheets of cement board containing ­asbestos from China is under ­investigation amid fears that its products are being used at ­construction sites across the ­nation and could expose workers to contamination.

It can be revealed that Australian Portable Camps, owned by Adelaide businessman Frank Martino, imported 8070 cement sheets into the country during 2010 and 2011, believing they were free of deadly asbestos.

The asbestos was not discovered in the sheets until late last year, sparking an investigation by the Australian Border Force and Safework SA that is yet to conclude. Industry sources believe the regulators are probing alle­gations that about 2000 of the tainted sheets were used to manufacture accommodation huts and other facilities at APC’s workshops outside Adelaide.

Companies that have awarded contracts to APC — including ­energy giant Chevron at its $US54 billion Gorgon gas plant in Western Australia — are being forced to conduct emergency testing for asbestos in response to the threat.

APC describes itself as the biggest supplier of portable accommodation facilities to major projects around Australia.

The company refused to say yesterday how many asbestos-tainted cement boards were used in its huts and declined to answer questions about whether it conducted tests on its imported products to ensure they were free of asbestos.

The company did say that “very little” of the 2010-11 shipment from China was used ­because it proved to be of inferior quality as a building product.

A spokeswoman for APC said once asbestos was confirmed late last year, the company quarantined the material in an earth bund at its Monarto headquarters. “We have been working co-operatively with SafeWork SA and the EPA to ensure the safe disposal of this material,” she said.

“In order to confirm the integrity of all other board products on our site, we have subsequently undertaken extensive comprehensive testing on these products, all of which have tested negative for the presence of asbestos.”

Asbestos imports were banned in Australia in 2003 but unions and business groups are alarmed at the rate at which the lethal substance is slipping into the country undetected.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is under pressure to ramp up efforts to stop asbestos at the border.

Discovery this month of asbestos at the Perth Children’s Hospital and the 1 William Street office tower in Brisbane — both in products sourced from China — has highlighted the problem.

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon yesterday called for jail terms for importers of asbestos products, amid revelations this week that only a handful of companies have been fined for the ­offence.

The construction union said it was highly concerned at the possibility APC’s contaminated products could be in use at dozens of sites across Australia. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s head of occupational health and safety, Brad Parker, said regulators had an ­obligation to reveal what they knew about the issue.

“In the interests of the Australian public they need to say what sort of investigation they are conducting and how much of this stuff is missing — where has it gone?” he said. “We want to know if our members were exposed.”

Chevron said yesterday it had been notified by APC recently that some of the cement sheeting at its Gorgon project on Barrow Island could contain asbestos.

“As a precautionary and immediate measure, we conducted independent testing, with all results confirming a negative reading,” a Chevron spokeswoman said. “The health and safety of our workforce is always of paramount concern.”

The CFMEU’s state secretary in Western Australia, Mick ­Buchan, said the union had raised its concerns about the health of workers on Barrow Island and he would not be satisfied with Chevron’s response until it provided the test results.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said it could not comment on companies or individuals that may be under investigation, but the ABF’s s investigations division had six active investigations into asbestos-related matters.

The department defended itself against allegations it had ­allowed asbestos to enter the country too easily.

“There were 11 detections of ­asbestos-contamin­ated goods at the border over the last financial year from more than 1100 targeted high-risk shipments,” a spokesman said.

“Ensuring asbestos is not used domestically or imported into Australia is a collective responsibility for importers, industry and government agencies.”


Fine Arts student wonders why he can't get a job

Anybody who studies such a self-indulgent and impractical subject does not recommend himself to most employers.  He'd get more offers if he said he was a taxi-driver

A 20-year-old university says he has applied for more than 500 jobs but has hardly received a single response.

Adam Bilkey, from Brisbane, said he is desperate for a job and has applied for positions as a cashier, a waiter, a cafe barista, a kitchen hand and in sales, according to The Courier Mail.

'I've applied for jobs as a dish washer but they want people under 19.'

'I know it's competitive. A lot of my friends have the same sorts of stories, but I kind of want feedback. I'd like more than a letter or nothing at all,' he said.

Mr Bilkey, a Fine Arts students, previously worked as a food and beverage assistant and has completed a barista course.

He completed an internship with a Brisbane radio station doing script writing and is now writing animal profiles as a volunteer with the RSPCA.

He is hoping to be hired as a copywriter or begin another internship, but is trying to earn money to pay for his studies in the meantime.

Mr Bilkey said he wants to get started on his career.

His mum, Anita Bilkey, told the Courier Mail that she is baffled by the lack of response to her son's efforts.

'There's a joke going around – junior wanted with 10 years' experience, gold medallist and super hero,' she said.


TV show is slammed online for a lack of diversity in the 'all white cast'

Why should it be diverse?  It's job is to get viewers and  whites are most likely to identified with in a majority-white country

The new series of The Bachelor Australia has been slammed online for a lack of diversity among its contestants.  As the show kicked off, viewers took to the social media site to complain about the 'all white cast.'

Fans of The Bachelor were also left disappointed that there was a lack of 'good looking plus size women.'

Out of the final 22 Bachelorettes chosen to vow for The Bachelor's heart, there were plenty of blondes and brunettes, with super slender physiques, all preened to perfection.

Apart from Marja Jacobsen of Asian descent, the ladies vastly represented the Caucasian community.

As the highly awaited reality dating series premiered, viewers did not hold back.

One tweeted: 'One Asian. No obvious first Australians. Basically a whitewash! Not great.' Another commented: 'What you really want is the white rose. It represents an almost complete lack of cultural diversity this season.'  While another wrote: 'But seriously, Australia is a multicultural society where were the coloured girls? Did they not it the brief?'

A busty bevy of beauties were revealed last night, all vying for the affections of Perth-based rope technician, Richie Strahan.

There were plenty of glamorous ladies including Playboy model Kirralee 'Kiki' Morris, who has a portfolio that extends to racy men's magazines such as Ralph and Zoo.

Lara Bingle lookalike Keira Maguire flaunted her stunning physique in a black lace gown with daring thigh slit.

While health and promotions officer and model Megan Marx ticked all the boxes when it came to the ideal of the perfect blonde bombshell.   

Single mother Alexandra Nation dressed to impress in a glimmering emerald strapless frock that highlighted her lithe arms and delicate decolletage.

And Olena Khamula and Nikki Gogan both sported revealing numbers with plunging necklines.


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, July 28, 2016

ABC ‘sorry’ for airing Q&A Israel-ISIS tweet

The ABC has been forced to apologise and admit an error after ­allowing an “inflammatory’’ tweet likening Israel to Islamic terrorists to appear on live TV during its Q&A program.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield raised concerns with the broadcaster on Monday after the tweet aired.

An ABC spokeswoman blamed “moderator error” for ­allowing the tweet by Twitter user supercatsimon to air prominently. “Any young radicals who join ISIS or Israel should not be allowed into Australia,” it read.

The tweet was labelled “totally inappropriate” and “wildly inaccurate’’ by Jewish community leaders, who called for a review of the show’s moderation process.

“An audience tweet was broadcast on Q&A which implied false equivalence between ‘radicals joining ISIS’ and Israel,” an ABC spokeswoman said. “It was a moderator error. Q&A apologises for any offence and removed the tweet from future broadcasts.”

It is not the first time the broadcaster has had to apologise for the actions of Q&A. Last year, former ABC managing director Mark Scott apologised to Tony Abbott via text message after a tweet from an account called “AbbottLovesAnal” was aired.

Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council’s executive director Colin Rubenstein last night said several tweets on Monday night displayed “raw bias” and the moderators should be reviewed.

“It seems to be a certain pattern, an element of bias,” he said. “It’s totally inappropriate and unfair ... Of the thousands of questions they must get, how does that one get chosen? It’s wildly inaccurate and inflammatory.

“The core issue is the selection criteria they use,” he said. “Something’s going on, and someone needs to have a look at it.”

Last week Senator Fifield demanded the ABC explain how Muslim man Khaled Elomar, who had denigrated two female politicians online, was allowed to ask Pauline Hanson a question.


Turnbull at risk of being a do-nothing government

With an extremely slim majority in the lower house and a large crossbench in the Senate, there is a very real prospect that the Turnbull Coalition Team — to borrow from Malcolm Turnbull’s presidential campaign logo — will be a do-nothing government.

In one sense, I have no problem with do-nothing governments.

At least they don’t bother to propose slews of legislation that impose additional costs on weary taxpayers and create even more burdensome regulation for put-upon businesses.

It always struck me as extraordinary that the Gillard minority government would brag about the hundreds of pieces of legislation that it managed to cajole crossbenchers in the lower house to pass and that were then waved through by Greens, in partnership with Labor, in the Senate.

Anthony Albanese — shall we call him Albo? — was always banging on about the hundreds of bills that were passed during the period of the Gillard minority government as if the total number of new acts is the principal KPI (key performance indicator, in business-speak) of an elected government. One newspaper even attempted to calculate the “productiveness” of the Gillard government by adding up the number of pieces of legislation that received royal assent during her term in office and to compare this number with the achievements of other prime ministers.

Let’s face it, several of those acts of the Gillard government are causing us all sorts of headaches now because they were badly conceived, hastily drafted and locked the taxpayer into uncontrolled, higher expenditure.

Take the legislation setting up the National Disability Insurance Scheme. There are several flaws in this act, particularly in relation to the governance of the scheme.

Another example is the legislation that set up the so-called Gonski funding of schools. The legislation was rushed — by that stage Julia Gillard had former prime minister Kevin Rudd breathing down her neck — and as a result there are some substantial defects in that act.

Gillard ended up negotiating separate deals with most of the states that have quite distinctive elements — so much for a national and consistent needs-based funding arrangement.

A do-nothing government can have its advantages. But the problem for the Turnbull government — I really can’t come at the Turnbull Coalition Team, I’m afraid — is that there are numerous policy debacles that need to be fixed, and many of them can be sorted only by changing the legislation.

Of course, pointing this out doesn’t go to what the government hopes to achieve, apart from further alienating the party base by pushing through the superannuation changes and wasting a large amount of taxpayer money on overpriced submarines in the name of saving a few votes in South Australia but calling it exciting industry development. Maybe I missed something in the six-week election campaign.

Although dealing with the messes created by one’s predecessors is not an obvious recipe for re-election, someone still has to do it. Consider the problems in higher education and vocational education. In the hands of the owners and managers of untrustworthy institutions — and I am not exempting universities here — hellbent on getting their hands on government funds via easy-to-access student loans, the fiscal cost to the taxpayer has exploded.

Without any change to the various versions of the Higher Education Loan Program, it is estimated that in 10 years the annual cash cost to the budget of HELP will be more than $11 billion; presently it is under $2bn. Of a total loan book that will be more than $300bn within the decade, it is estimated that more than one-fifth essentially will be bad debts and will need to be written off.

Having sorted out these problems, the government needs to act quickly to establish a coherent energy policy providing secure and affordable electricity to industry and households. In one sense, we are lucky to have the South Australian experience before our eyes — it tells us what to avoid.

We need to find means of crimping overdevelopment of highly subsidised renewable energy, something that is difficult to do given the operation of the defective mandatory renewable energy target.

Then there is industrial relations, a topic the Prime Minister studiously avoided during the election campaign, notwithstanding the fact the failure to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission was the trigger for the double dissolution.

On the basis of the numbers in the two houses, it would seem highly unlikely that the government would seek a joint sitting to secure passage of the ABCC bill (and the registered organisations bill dealing with trade union governance). My advice would be to negotiate directly with Senate crossbenchers. It just may be that with a tweak or two, these bills can pass the Senate in the normal way.

As for “doing something” about the agreement covering the Country Fire Authority in Victoria and the bid by the United Firefighters Union to control the volunteer firefighters, good luck with that.

By the time parliament sits again and the Prime Minister and Michaelia Cash, the Employment Minister (note that she is not really the employment minister, she is the anti-employment minister; the better title would be workplace relations minister) have dreamt up some unworkable solution, the agreement will have been certified. At this point, there is little the federal government can do to have the agreement terminated.

The only hope was to deal with this matter much earlier, before the caretaker period, on the grounds that the agreement covered volunteers, which was not allowed under the act; that the agreement violated anti-discrimination laws; or that there had been inadequate consultation.

But the time to act was then, not now. The problems with the agreement have been known for a long time, dating back to last year. But passivity is the hallmark of this government’s approach to industrial relations.

Just check out the government’s failure to make a submission to the penalty rates case, even though it has been common past practice for governments to make detailed submissions to important cases before the Fair Work Commission.

So a do-nothing government in a legislative sense can have its upside, but a government that doesn’t seek to remedy glaring policy defects is a real problem for the country.


Denial of speech is one step towards totalitarianism


What exactly did they slip in the water at the ABC that prompted Sam Dastyari to release his inner Muslim? One moment he was reprimanding a fellow Q&A panellist about the politics of hate and the next was baring his soul.

“Somewhere in Tehran there’s a document that sits that says beside my name the word ‘Muslim’,” the senator revealed.

Pauline Hanson seemed genuinely surprised. “Are you a Muslim? Really?”

“Yeah,” replied the senator, “and I have never hidden away.”

It was hardly the shahada, the declaration that: “There is no god but God and Mohammed is his messenger.” As an atheist, Dastyari would struggle to embrace the first pillar of Islam, never mind all five.

“And are you a practising Muslim?” Hanson continued.

“No, no, no,” Dastyari replied. “I think you’re trying to make a joke of what is a serious …

“No, I’m surprised,” replied Hanson. “I didn’t know that about you.”

Dastyari’s revelation was not so much a declaration of faith as a statement of political identity, an expression of solidarity with the members an oppressed minority, many of whom happened to be in the Q&A audience that evening. Dastyari, unlike Hanson, feels their pain.

Hanson’s second coming has caught the political establishment by surprise. The first lesson from the election, for those prepared to absorb it, is that the world looks quite different when viewed from Caboolture than from Carlton. The second lesson is that the political and media classes are strangers in their own country.

News that One Nation secured 226,000 first-preference votes in Queensland came as a rude awakening to The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Stokes.

“Find that embarrassing? Shocking? A bit weird even?” he wrote. “Not as weird as this: the Greens attracted just 168,000 Senate votes in Queensland.”

Stokes’s surprise at the shape of the universe beyond his immediate orbit is not uncommon. You don’t have to delve far into Facebook to discover Britons who know no one who voted for Brexit or Americans who say they’ve never met a Donald Trump supporter. Yet even by the standards of the histrionic Left, the reaction to Hanson’s election to the Senate has been extraordinary.

Outside the ABC’s inelegant but fashionably located inner-city headquarters before her appearance on Q&A, a bunch of random Hanson-phobic Islamophiles vented their disgust at the excessive use of free speech by people with whom they disagree.

Less than 12 hours earlier, Nine Network presenter Sonia Kruger’s refreshingly honest response to the threat of radical Islam provoked an effusion of invective on social media.

It was as if Twitter were hosting the national vulgarity championships. Who could compose the most impolite message using 35 four-letter words or fewer?

While some saw it as an outbreak of the culture war, the ferocity of the response to Kruger and Hanson suggests something far less trivial. The intelligentsia’s divorce from Middle Australia is now absolute and it is fighting for the sole custody of truth.

The determination to deny their opponents a platform, the merciless attacks on character, the insistence that their enemies not only apologise but do so grovellingly like some shaven-headed dissident at a show trial suggest the Left, once again, is flirting with totalitarianism.

For the twittering vigilantes, who police what can and cannot be said on mainstream media, Kruger’s call for a ban on Islamic migrants — live and uncensored on breakfast television — represented a serious breach of security.

Worse still, it became clear that Kruger was not alone; the suggestion seemed tempting to an unacceptably large number of her viewers as they absorbed the horrors of the Bastille Day attack in Nice.

If radical Islam presents a threat unimagined by the genteel architects of Australian multiculturalism — and it clearly does — we must select our migrants carefully. Yet most Australians understand the difference between selection and discrimination

To borrow the words of Martin Luther King, migration in Australia is decided not by the colour of the applicant’s skin but the content of their character, and it is on character that eligibility must be judged.

One does not have to think Kruger is right to recognise that those who want to silence her are desperately and dangerously wrong. And that a dark cloud of ­illiberalism hangs heavy over civic society that must be resisted at all costs.

The road to totalitarianism begins with a love of humanity and a contempt for humans. The pathology of 20th-century totalitarianism is well known, starting with the suspension of freedom of speech and the rule of law — temporarily, it is claimed — to fight an existential threat to an idealised vision of the nation.

There is one important detail about the early fascists that the Left intelligentsia have been inclined to overlook: the early fascists were metropolitan sophisticates rather like today’s intelligentsia — artists, writers, academics and dreamers convinced of their own superior wisdom.

The resemblance between totalitarianism and modern-day political correctness is hardly surprising. As Tony Judt wrote in his expansive volume on the history of Europe from 1945, a monopoly of authority requires a monopoly of knowledge, the assurance that the official “truth” on any given topic would not be challenged or, if it were, that the challenge should be suppressed with exemplary force.

Kruger’s dissident voice was countered last week with such vehemence because she challenged the conventional wisdom on immigration and breached the narrow parameters of what is and what is not permissible for discussion on morning television.

It is no coincidence that the intelligentsia, which champions political correctness today, once championed the Soviet Union where the state sought to control not just what people said but what they thought.

It aspired to set the limits not only on Dimitri Shostakovich performances but also his compositions. Stalin, if he could, would have cracked down on Shostakovich not just for the music he conducted but the music going on in his head.


Selling farm policy

Michael Potter 

A Productivity Commission draft report has found that Australian farm businesses are subject to a "vast and complex array of regulations". The report won't be pleasant reading for any of the major political parties: it criticises bans on genetically modified crops and foreign shipping, which are generally supported by the ALP. But there are also criticisms of policies supported by the Coalition; such as effects test in competition law, tighter restrictions on foreign investment, and several monopoly marketing regulations.

The Coalition will need contortions to deal with the report's finding that the tightening of foreign investment rules for farms is not warranted. While foreign investment is usually reviewed for businesses worth over $252m, the Coalition has mandated that review is required for farm land and businesses worth more than $15m.

The PC skewers the main arguments for this stricter rule, confirming yet again that foreign ownership of farm land won't endanger Australia's food security or sovereign control and won't cut employment opportunities for locals. The PC also argues existing land use rules apply equally to foreign owners as local owners, so the argument that foreign owners will 'misuse' land is a furphy, and many farm businesses were started as a result of foreign investment.

So the benefits of tighter regulation are minimal; and the PC unsurprisingly confirms that costs of tighter foreign investment rules may be substantial, although precise costs are difficult to estimate.

But these criticisms of the Coalition's foreign investment policy should provide no joy to the ALP, as they (along with the Greens and others on the Left) have been extraordinarily critical of foreign investors in the debate over company tax. If the ALP argues investment in farm land is to be promoted, why not promote investment in all industries through a company tax reduction?

We can only hope politicians actually study the arguments in the PC report and don't take the easy way of arguing the report is brilliant where it helps their position and woeful when it opposes their preferred view of the world.


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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Should we feel sorry for a violent habitual criminal?

Clearly, the justice system has done nothing to protect us from him so I think that the rational thing to do is to hang him and thus rid society of the menace and cost that he imposes on the rest of us.  But that is not the way, these days.

The next best option would be to detain him in prison indefinitely.  He should certainly not be let out. He will reoffend if he is.  The third strategy would be to condition him into better behaviour.  It is a lot of work but could have at least some success. 

A rough outline of the therapy:

What you do is to deprive him of food for 48 hours to make him keen to co-operate.  Then do it again every time he behaves badly.  He will soon get the message.  Give him only 1,000 calories in any 24 hours.  That will keep him alive but will also keep him keen to co-operate. He will learn rapidly. If he does not he could be deprived of food for a week, thus making him too weak to be a problem and much more likely to co-operate. Thereafter require positive deeds from him for his food.  And so on.

HE WAS a football-loving teenager who ended up committing a 24-hour crime spree while high on ice, and now shocking photographs of him restrained and wearing a “spit hood” in juvenile detention have gone around the world.

For Dylan Voller, the Alice Springs teenager whose mistreatment in a Northern Territory juvenile facility will now become part of a royal commission into indigenous youth custody, the trauma is not over.

A Northern Territory youth worker who knows and has cared for Voller in the past said the teen, who is now 19, “has been in and out of trouble, needs to get serious counselling and it needs to be funded by the government”.

“It’s no easy journey for Dylan,” the youth worker said. “If a boy commits a crime, I’m not saying they don’t have to face the music, but where’s the duty of care? They need a place where they can be safe.”

Dylan’s sister Kira said that her brother “deserves his life back” and had “lost everything". Ms Voller said her brother had “lost hope”.

“The last time I went to visit him there was no smile, there was no emotion, there was nothing, I couldn’t give him anything to be positive about and that really broke me,” Ms Voller said.

“I want him to know he’s still a person and people still love him and he still has hope for a life.

Four Corners reported that on two occasions after he was found in his cell crying, guards grabbed Dylan Voller around the neck, stripped him naked and held him down. Picture: ABCSource:ABC

“He’s been in and out of jail from the age of 11, 10,” Kira told ABC radio. “That’s half of his whole life.”

Just four years ago, Dylan Voller was photographed calmly sitting on the grass with his friend Leighton at a Saturday rugby grand final match in Alice Springs.

But the young teenager had a troubled past.

The youth worker told that the then 14-year-old had “underlying trauma” and had been in trouble with the NT Police as a juvenile.

A youth justice advocacy project worker had reported that Voller had suffered “anger issues” and had a “propensity to spit”.

Then on February 7, 2014, Voller got drunk and “high on ice” and with two other young men went on a 24-hour crime spree, attacking two men and a police officer.

It was during his incarceration following being found guilty for this series of incidents that Voller was placed in restraints and the spit hood in the now infamous Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.

ABC-TV’s Four Corners showed images of Voller hooded and strapped into a mechanical restraint chair for almost two hours in March 2015, when he was serving a total of two years and three months’ minimum sentence.

The report on Voller and other boys’ disturbing detention has seen the first scalp claimed.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles this afternoon announced he had removed John Elferink as Corrections Minister, installing himself in the role.

Voller’s spree began in Alice Spring’s iconic Todd Street, where he and the two other young men tried to rob a man walking to work.

A court later heard that Voller, then a slightly built teen, ran bare-chested at the man, yelling “you fat white racist dog. You yelled at us”.

The three teens took the man’s wallet, knocked him to the pavement and kicked him in the ribs.

Still high on drugs the following day, the boys ambushed Luke McIntyre near a store where the 17-year-old was trying to buy cigarettes.

Voller struck him with a mop handle, punched him in the face and stole his wallet. McIntyre was bashed unconscious, then his three assailants fled in a Holden Commodore.

Voller was behind the wheel and tried to run down a “terrified” Constable Gerard Reardon who had ordered the trio to stop.

On August 13, 2014, Northern Territory Supreme Court Justice Peter Barr sentenced Voller to a maximum of three years and eight months for attempted robbery, aggravated robbery and recklessly endangering serious harm.

Voller, who was already in custody, had a 20 month non-parole period to serve. Justice Barr noted that the 16-year-old had a very troubled past, dating back to when he was an 11-year-old and had committed more than 50 offences, including crimes of violence, over five years.

Placed in custody in the Don Dale centre, Voller was regarded as a “notorious” juvenile prisoner.

The ABC reported that he was subjected to a “catalogue ... of abuse” in detention centres in Darwin and Alice Springs over the last five years.

Four Corners reported that on two occasions after he was found in his cell crying, guards grabbed Dylan Voller around the neck, stripped him naked and held him down.

CCTV footage obtained by the ABC show prison officers tear gassing male juvenile prisoners following a “riot” at Don Dale centre in August 2014.

Voller’s sister Kira said she held the guards responsible for her brothers’ behaviour, and she wanted to see the law permitting the use of mechanical restraints overturned.

“What I’d really like to see is ... for them to take accountability for the fact that they damaged him a lot more than helped,” she said.

“These people are already full-grown adults and made the decision to harm that child while they were working,” she said. “The government gave them that responsibility, to care for these kids, and instead they abused that role.”

A Northern Territory youth worker told that an alternative safe centre for juvenile offenders had been all but abandoned during successive NT governments due to pressure from child protection workers.

“I’ve seen kids who have been stabbed or contracted sexually transmitted diseases in custody,” he said. “They need protection, not abuse.”


Pauline Hanson says Malcolm Turnbull 'very gracious' during face-to-face meeting

Pauline Hanson has posted a video on Facebook recording her first face-to-face meeting with Malcolm Turnbull since the election, telling supporters the prime minister was “very gracious” and opened with congratulations on her election victory, “which I appreciated”.

The meeting, which was not telegraphed by the prime minister’s office – unlike some previous meetings with key crossbenchers since the election – took place in Sydney on Monday at Turnbull’s behest, according to the One Nation leader.

In her Facebook video, Hanson says she “did most of the talking”.

In late May, Turnbull declared Hanson was not a welcome presence on the Australian political scene. “Remember she was chucked out of the Liberal party,” the prime minister said.

Hanson says in her video she could have confronted Turnbull directly about the rebuff, but chose not to. “You’re probably wondering, did I say to him, ‘you’re the man who said I wasn’t welcome there’. The answer is no,” she said.

The One Nation leader said the prime minister had appeared “very interested in my opinion” and had offered her the services of his ministers in the new parliament.

Hanson said she had raised issues relating to north Queensland during their conversation, such as the motor sport precinct, dredging in the port of Cairns, her party’s youth apprenticeship policy and her desire to make changes to the family court.

“I feel he’s prepared to listen to me,” she said.

Hanson told supporters on Facebook she believed One Nation would have four Senators in the 45th parliament once the election results were finally declared.

In the thread under the video an argument broke out among One Nation supporters about whether Hanson should be dealing constructively with the prime minister or not.

Hanson, or a Hanson operative, intervened in the thread to say: “Without a clear communication line between my office and the prime minister ... we achieve nothing. It’s very important that we work together to achieve what’s best for this country.
“I also mentioned to the prime minister that I will only back legislation that is good for the people. Help me make sure that any legislation put before the Senate is right for the people. If it’s not, we won’t support it.”

The Coalition has also been attempting to walk a line between validating Hanson’s electoral mandate and rejecting her extreme views on race, immigration and Islam.

On the weekend, the government’s Senate leader, George Brandis, noted half a million Australians voted for One Nation. “She’s now a member of the Senate. The way to deal with these people is to explain why they are wrong,” Brandis told the ABC.

“To pretend that Pauline Hanson is not part of the national conversation ... is ludicrous.”


Malcolm Turnbull to bring in new laws allowing indefinite jail for high-risk terrorists

Malcolm Turnbull will introduce new national laws that would allow jailed terrorists who still pose a risk when their prison terms expire to be held indefinitely as his first order of business when Parliament resumes at the end of August.

Mr Turnbull spoke with state and territory leaders on Sunday to inform them of his plans which he said needed to be dealt with urgently in the context of recent attacks in Orlando and Nice.

Australian anti-terror authorities are constantly updating their understanding of terrorism says Attorney-General George Brandis. Vision ABC News 24.

The new laws, which were first agreed to in April, would effectively treat high-risk terrorists the same as paedophiles and extreme violent offenders who, in certain cases, can already be held as a purely preventative measure after serving jail time.

Any extended detention period would be supervised by the courts, but legal groups have previously expressed "serious concern" about the new laws.

The laws are meant to address key concerns of police and security agencies about convicted terrorists from the post-September 11 era who are due to be released in coming years.

"This is a significant public safety and security issue and our governments must do all we can to protect the community from individuals posing a high risk of re-offending and/or those in need of continued rehabilitation," Mr Turnbull wrote in a letter sent to state and territory leaders.

"The guiding principles of a post-sentence preventative detention scheme would be that it cover high-risk terrorist offenders and contain appropriate procedural protections and safeguards."

Mr Turnbull has asked the Attorney-General, George Brandis, to meet with his state and territory counterparts this week in order to swiftly finalise the legislation in time for the return of Parliament.

The move follows Mr Turnbull's directive to Australia's counter-terrorism tzar last week to explore whether potential "lone wolf" terrorists can be better identified by closer agency co-operation and information-sharing on extremism, criminality and mental illness.

The national counter-terrorism coordinator, Greg Moriarty, will examine the trend whereby people who were apparently disturbed to begin with have seized on Islamist extremism shortly prior to carrying out atrocities.

Mr Moriarty said social cohesion with Muslim communities remained central to tackling terrorism. Australia needed an approach that would keep the country "both secure and united, not just for tomorrow or next year, but for decades and possibly generations".

State and territory leaders agreed to the new detention laws in April but the intervening election campaign and caretaker period resulted in a three-month pause in acting on them.

At the time, concerns were raised by members of the legal community.

University of NSW law professor George Williams said that post-sentence detention could be justified in cases of risk to the public, but needed to be strictly targeted and used only as a last resort.

"This is an extraordinary measure to take and can only be justified in the most exceptional cases," Professor Williams said in April.

"The person should be held only as long as they were shown to pose a risk, and the thresholds for risk should be set at a high level. We have to make sure there isn't just a vague risk to the community but a present, real danger."

The Law Council of Australia also said the plan was a "serious concern".

Fiona McLeod, president elect of the Law Council of Australia, said in April that the involvement of a judge was "a protection" but emphasised that if the judge was working on the basis of information given by government agencies "there needs to be a mechanism for the review of that as soon as possible".

Separately, the NSW government is going ahead with plans to extend to up to 14 days the length of time a terrorism suspect can be held before they are charged. Other states and territories have agreed to look at those laws with a view to adopting them, save for the ACT, which is "reserving its position".

The change to the NSW Terrorist (Police Powers) Act allows for the arrest, detention and questioning of a person if there are "reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person has committed, or is involved in planning, a terrorist act".

A suspect could be held for four days, extended to 14 days with the approval of a judge.


Turnbull Government embarks on radical welfare overhaul

The Turnbull government will embark on a radical welfare experiment during the current parliament that aims to use the power of big data to cut the number of people on welfare through targeted interventions in their lives.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter says that while the initiative should bring long-term savings, his immediate task is to get a raft of legislative changes – including budget measures – through the Parliament. He plans to begin talking to Labor and the Senate crossbench about the proposals this week.

To help the ease the passage of some of these measures, the government will be promoting many of its more recent budget cuts to the Senate cross bench– unlike the hangover of the 2014 so-called Zombie cuts – as savings that will be specifically earmarked to go into a national savings account to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Cutting access to compensation for the carbon tax to new welfare recipients – a $1.4 billion measure from the May budget – is the biggest potential deposit into that account, Mr Porter says.

However, Mr Porter says that implementing the so-called "investment approach" to welfare will be the "single most important thing" that he does during the new parliamentary term.

"This will radically change the way any sensible government approaches welfare policy", Mr Porter told The Australian Financial Review.

The investment approach to welfare is heavily based on work done by the Key government in New Zealand and was also a recommendation of the review of Australia's welfare system – the McClure Review – which was handed down in 2015.

It essentially argues the case for front-loaded investment in people, particularly the young, identified as at risk of falling in to, or staying in the welfare system and providing highly targeted interventions to stop that happening.

The 2015 budget provided $34 million to develop the new system and fund longitudinal surveys to provide the data to support the approach.

These longitudinal surveys have been looking back into the history of social welfare recipients over decades in search of patterns and data that predict what will happen to them over the course of their lives.

An actuarial study by PwC is due with Mr Porter in the next couple of months but he says the preliminary data is promising.

"Most governments have looked at spending growth as a budgetary problem," he says.

"It has been looked at globally." That is, it has been looked at in terms of the overall design of a program rather than how it may play out in the varied lives of its recipients.

However new information systems change that, he says.

"We can do the equivalent of keyhole surgery – drill down to groups of 500, 1500, or 15,000 people, identify the risks that get them into the welfare system and tailor policies to divert them away or if they have become dependent, get them out of the system."

For example, he says, new systems can track over a long period what happens to people receiving student assistance. The government will be able to see how many people stay on the benefit and for how long, and how many transition in to work or other benefits.

For example, he says, the system could allow the government to look at what happens to 16-22 year olds in Newcastle versus those living in Geelong and, based on that data, apply very specific outcomes for the two groups.

"It moves the social welfare debate away from being seen as an economic cost to being a moral issue," he says.

The investment approach has been used in New Zealand for five years, with the government claiming major improvements in welfare outcomes – getting people out of the welfare system – and in budgetary cost projections in the longer term.

Actuarial reports in NZ show particularly good outcomes for single parents and young people, largely from active case management  of part-time work obligations for single parents with school-aged children.

But the approach is not without its critics both here and in New Zealand and many of these cite potentially "perverse" effects from the approach, including the NZ Productivity Commission.

The Australian Council of Social Service has expressed its concern that this approach is biased towards investment in young people and could lead to less assistance for older unemployed people .

The new levels of data – about different cohorts across the country – will be able to openly accessed, meaning non-government organisations, think tanks and other groups will be able to look in detail at what is happening across the country.

Non-government agencies will then able to bid for some of the funds in the $96 million "Try, Test and Learn" Fund announced in the May budget to develop and run programs designed to help keep people at risk of long-term dependency from being trapped in the system.

Mr Porter says the government is also keen to implement the central recommendations of the McClure report which were to radically overhaul and simplify the multitude of welfare payments and supplements.

However, these will require the legislative support of the Senate and are likely to have to await the resolution of existing budget stand offs on the welfare budget.


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, July 26, 2016

Far Leftist "Crikey" is enjoying the Sonia Kruger controversy

See below. They perversely see it as a condemnation of Australia generally.  Taking only SOME refugees is "racist", you see. In case it's not clear, Australia's prioritizing of persecuted Christians for the refugee intake is what has got the writer all burned up and gripped with the fires of prophecy.  The writer is Shakira Hussein, if that tells you anything.  An obvious Presbyterian?

Much of the response to Andrew Bolt and Sonia Kruger’s call to halt Muslim immigration has rested on the assumption that such calls are just hate speech for the sake of hate speech rather than a realistic policy proposal. But Australia’s immigration policy has been discriminating against Muslims since the 2014 announcement of the special refugee intake in response to the crisis in Syria and Iraq during the last throes of the Abbott prime ministership.

And the grounds for the discriminatory framework for the special refugee intake were remarkably similar to those stated by Kruger for a blanket ban on Muslim migration: to accommodate the Australian public’s fear of Muslim men.

At the time, the announcement of the special refugee intake felt like a victory for people power, coming as it did in response to the candlelit vigils for drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi. And after all, no one could argue that the “persecuted minorities” who are the favoured candidates under this policy are not in need of asylum.

It also helped that Tony Abbott — with his fear-mongering talk of death cults and demands for Muslims to “do more” to prove that Islam is a religion of peace — was replaced soon afterwards by the more “reasonable” Malcolm Turnbull, who was one of the Coalition MPs to have called for Christian refugees to be prioritised but who also set about repairing the government’s damaged relationship with Australia’s Muslim communities.

The process of damage repair, of course, culminated in the iftar at Kirribilli House to which Andrew Bolt took such entertainingly deranged exception as the election results came through. Turnbull’s “reasonable” approach to The Muslim Issue has put pressure on Muslims to be “reasonable” in return, so that Waleed Aly chose to “tease” Turnbull about the NBN rather than publicly raising more fraught issues like the internment of asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru and the introduction of ever-more stringent anti-terrorism legislation. A guest at a dinner party must keep their personal opinions within certain boundaries, after all.

TV host Sonia Kruger Kruger’s fear-driven, fear-mongering against Muslims has jeopardised her relationship with sponsors like Porsche and Swisse, who have no desire to lose their Muslim customers. She also triggered a debate about how best to respond to the rise in racist hate speech, with a plethora of tweets and op-eds dissenting from Waleed Aly’s call for her, and others like her, to be forgiven.

Kruger’s hate speech has expanded the boundaries of what can be said in what used to be called polite company (Andrew Bolt having long been unfit for such company). In resisting the dangers that this raises, we must not lose sight of the way in which the shift that she calls for is already underway. Kruger may well have to return her Porsche, but we cannot afford to regard this as anything more than a temporary respite.

The prioritising of persecuted minorities in the special refugee intake provides us a foretaste of how a Muslims Need Not Apply migration policy might come about — not overnight in the form of a blanket ban, but incrementally, step by step in order to allay the reasonable fears of reasonable Australians and under the watch of a reasonable Prime Minister like Malcolm Turnbull or whoever his (probably) reasonable successor might turn out to be. And at the end of this fearful week, it is difficult not to speculate on what other measures that now belong to fringe platforms like The Australian’s letters to the editor might come to seem reasonable.

Campaigns against the internment camps on Manus and Nauru have often rested on the assumptions that these represent an abhorrence for which history will judge those responsible in the not-too-distant future. We should perhaps begin to contemplate that they may, in fact, provide us with a glimpse of the future and that just as off-shore detention was introduced on reasonable humanitarian grounds in order to prevent drownings at sea and prevent the profiteering of people smugglers, a “reasonable” government might decide that internment of its own citizens is a necessary and reasonable security measure.

It is reasonable to be unforgiving when such spectres are so easily and reasonably conjured.

Tolerance of extremism will provoke backlash

by Chris Kenny

The corrosive impact of Islamist extremism is evident to most of us but our political and community leaders are only making things worse by ignoring this insidious challenge.

Violence and intolerance preached and perpetrated by extremists creates fear, mistrust and division. That is its intention. We can’t pretend it away.

Speeches at Sydney’s Lakemba Mosque to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan yesterday showed how we are fumbling the problem. The president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, Samier Dandan, spoke aggressively about Australian Muslims being victims of “Islamophobia” and unspecified government policies.

“The continued rise of Islamophobic discourse in the public, in addition to a number of divisive and toxic policy decisions have only exacerbated negative sentiment towards the Australian Muslim community,” he said. “We have been left in a vulnerable position.”

Dandan lashed at media for being more interested in “attendees to an iftar” rather than “hate preachers” in the political debate. He was clearly downplaying the homophobic views of Sheik Shady Al-Suleiman (who attended Malcolm Turnbull’s Kirribilli House fast-breaking dinner) compared to the rantings of the likes of Pauline Hanson.

We shouldn’t need to pick and choose our intolerance — Hanson and Al-Suleiman can both be called out.

Worryingly, Dandan’s speech reeked of Muslim victimhood and neglected to criticise the Islamist extremism at the heart of any tensions. You can’t plausibly blame Hanson for domestic terror plots or more than 100 Australians joining the Islamic State slaughter while as many (according to ASIO) support them from home.

This is not to make excuses for an anti-Muslim backlash. To prevent such responses gaining momentum, people need to know Muslim community leaders and government authorities can discuss real problems frankly.

Dandan talked about the “spread of hatred” from mainstream society and that — presumably in relation to security agencies — “their surveillance will not add to our safety.”

This is irresponsible. Our police and security forces protect Australian lives, Muslim and non-Muslim.

NSW Premier Mike Baird didn’t raise challenges of extremism in his speech either. He spoke of a visit to “Palestine” and declared young people there wanted peace — thereby appealing to a crucial Islamist grievance and ignoring unpalatable facts.

This approach from politicians in this space is typical — tough issues are skirted around. Baird said: “Where we see intolerance we must respond with tolerance.” He could not be more wrong — our political leaders should be clear that the one thing we do not tolerate is intolerance.

This is why fractious voices such as Hanson’s are on the rise; mainstream political leaders are unwilling to even discuss the real issues surrounding Islamist ­extremism.


A man accused of raping a Korean woman in broad daylight is granted bail at the Caboolture Magistrate's Court

A FATHER released on bail by a magistrate on Saturday despite being charged with a shocking random daytime rape is just the latest in a long string of accused sex offenders to be set loose.

Police will allege the 23-year-old man stalked a Korean woman, 20, from a Morayfield shopping centre on Friday ­before attacking her in broad daylight about 11.30am.

Witnesses heard her screams and rushed to her aid, pulling her alleged attacker away ­before chasing and detaining him until police arrived. Prosecutors yesterday opposed bail but a Caboolture magistrate ordered the man’s release after being told he was needed at home to look after his kids while his wife worked.

Sexual assault worker Amanda Dearden said she had “grave concerns” about the accused attacker’s release.

“It’s incredibly concerning that that risk to the community hasn’t been acknowledged by the court,” she told The Sunday Mail.

Ms Dearden, who until Friday worked with the Zig Zag Young Women’s Resource Centre, said strict bail conditions were not monitored enough to be effective.

“Without tracking devices it’s hard to keep track of where they’re actually following their bail conditions in the community,” she said.

Before the Caboolture Magistrates Court, defence lawyer Jason Todman argued the man’s family would be under considerable financial pressure if he was kept in custody. The man was temporarily unemployed and would need to stay at home with the kids while his wife worked.

Magistrate Louisa Pink noted he had no prior criminal convictions and scientific evidence was yet to be revealed.

“The strengths of the evidence in this case relates certainly to an assault. But at this time, the evidence of the allegation of rape — the scientific evidence is still pending,” she said. “Despite that, I don’t think it could be described as a weak Crown case.”

The man was ordered not to leave his home, except to report to Caboolture police station or attend court. He must also call police when he leaves and returns to his address.

Ms Pink banned him from contacting witnesses or the victim, who yesterday undertook a sexual assault investigation kit at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

The man is scheduled to reappear on September 19.


People must be prevented from discussing homosexual marriage, apparently

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged the Federal Government to abandon plans for a public poll on same-sex marriage.

Mr Andrews has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging him not to hold a plebiscite on legalising marriage for same-sex couples.

In the letter, Mr Andrews argued the plebiscite would legitimise hateful debate about LGBTIQ issues. He said there was no public poll before the Marriage Act was changed to specify that marriage was a union between a man and a woman. "In 2004 the law was changed to be fundamentally unequal, to be discriminatory, to be unfair, without a national plebiscite," Mr Andrews said.

He said the $160 million plebiscite would be wasteful. "But the cost is not best measured in numbers," Mr Andrews said. "The cost is best measured in the pain, the anguish, the sense of inequality, the sense of not being treated fairly.  "This will be a harmful, spiteful debate — it will give legitimacy to hurtful views, views that are essentially bigoted."

The Premier said he did not want to speculate about what would happen if the plebiscite occurred, and returned a vote against legalising same-sex marriage. But he would not say whether Victoria would go its own way in introducing marriage equality laws.

"I haven't ruled that out," Mr Andrews said. "We have a proud history in this state of changing the law and trying to be the progressive capital of our nation and that's not going to change."

Last month, Mr Turnbull said he was confident Australians had the maturity to have a respectful discussion about the issue.


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

Monday, July 25, 2016

Conflict of interests over wind and solar power

Changing to "renewables" without conventional backup is a recipe for disaster -- and it's happening in South Australia right now.  The Green/Left S.A. government just ignored the risks and forced its coal-fired stations to close down. And South Australians are now paying the price of that.  The response of the S.A. energy minister?  Blaming other states for not sending enough of their backup power to S.A.  Blaming everyone but yourself childish but common

With electricity prices spiralling as South Australia struggles to digest a world-breaking build of wind farms without firm power backup, federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is facing a challenge that defines the conflict and mixed signals of his new super portfolio.

The challenge was delivered on a windswept blustery paddock about 200km west of Melbourne where Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced state approval for the $65 million, 96-turbine Dundonnell wind farm.

What the Premier did not tell reporters was that the 300 megawatt project, claimed to be the state’s biggest, had yet to receive federal government approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

If Frydenberg does not give EPBC approval for Dundonnell he can expect a fiery backlash and accusations of turning his back on renewables and new economy jobs.

If he does give EPBC approval Frydenberg will be accused of grand-scale environmental vandalism against the Victorian brolga, which is listed as threatened and nests at the proposed wind farm site.

The New Zealand wind farm developer, Trustpower, claims to have accommodated the brolga in its layout plans. But the planning process for Dundonnell has been long and tortured with accusations of hidden records and dodgy environmental investigations.

The complaints have not come from peak environment groups but local bird enthusiasts because — rather than endangered fauna — organised environmental activists such as Friends of the Earth have preferred to concentrate on the need for renewable energy and a long-running campaign to make permanent the existing moratorium on coal-seam gas exploration in the state.

In the great circle of energy and environmental politics it is all connected.

For Frydenberg, the gas ban is as significant as the brolgas and the windmills.

And it has all been supercharged by the parlous state of South Australia’s electricity network and what it may portend for the rest of the nation, under pressure to roll out of renewable power.

Frydenberg is clearly aware of the scale of the challenge. He argued for amalgamation of energy and environment portfolio responsibilities and he knows Australia must respond to a fundamentally changing energy world.

In an address to the Brookings Institution in the US earlier this year, Frydenberg said “technology will be the swing factor to achieving the world’s climate goals”.

“Home batteries, carbon capture and storage, high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fired plants, large-scale solar, are all likely to feature going forward,” he said.

But, politically, Frydenberg’s task is to avoid becoming known as the minister for sky-high electricity prices.

Events in South Australia — where wholesale power prices have spiked, household electricity costs are the highest in the nation and industry is threatening to quit— provide a good opportunity for a reality check.

Wholesale prices are usually below $100 per megawatt hour but in South Australia they have repeatedly spiked past $10,000 and sometimes touching the $14,000 limit.

There are many reasons advanced for the unstable electricity situation in South Australia.

These include high demand for electricity and gas during a cold snap, restricted competition, limited interconnector capacity to the national grid and the high costs of transporting gas. The gas squeeze has been exacerbated by fierce objections to coal-seam gas exploration in NSW and Victoria as the giant liquefied natural gas export projects in Queensland suck vast quantities of what used to be domestic supplies.

Clean Energy Council network specialist Tom Butler says the reasons for South Australia’s high power prices compared with the rest of the country remain the same as they were before a single wind turbine or solar panel was installed.

A briefing paper released by the Australian Conservation Foundation says renewable energy wrongly is being blamed.

“In fact the problem is not a failure of renewable energy; it is a failure of the national electricity market,” the ACF says. This may be true. But it is disingenuous to suggest renewable energy is not having a leading impact.

The Australian Energy Market Operator conducted a survey of why wholesale prices spiked during the same period last year.

An analysis of the findings by Frontier Economics says the common denominator was a low level of wind generation at the time.

“As has been long predicted, increasing penetration of wind, and its inherent intermittency, appears to be primarily responsible for the (price spike) events,” the Frontier Economics report says.

“While the events have coincided with relatively high demand conditions in South Australia and some minor restrictions on imports of electricity from Victoria, low wind production levels are the key common feature of every event.

“The market response at such times has been to offer higher-priced capacity to the market, leading to high prices, just as the National Electricity Market was designed to do under conditions of scarcity.”

The Frontier report says the level of wind and solar penetration in South Australia presents a fascinating natural experiment in the impact of intermittent generation on wholesale prices.

“Unfortunately, this test is anything but academic and the people of South Australia are increasingly likely to bear increased electricity costs as wind makes up a greater proportion of South Australian generation,” Frontier says.

“While policymakers may be tempted to act to force thermal and/or wind to behave uneconomically, the likely outcome means South Australian consumers will bear more costs.”

Fast forward 12 months and the same weather conditions have produced the same outcomes in the wholesale market, with higher prices to consumers starting to flow through as well.

In the meantime, Alinta Energy has been forced to close its two coal-fired power stations in South Australia early because their business model has been wrecked by the introduction of low-cost, subsidised wind generation into the wholesale market.

Renewable energy champions have always argued the so-called merit order effect, in which abundant cheap renewable energy suppresses the wholesale market, is a positive for consumers. But the evidence is that there are limits.

South Australia is being watched closely by traditional energy companies and renewable energy specialists worldwide as a test case for what happens when high levels of intermittent energy, such as wind and solar, are introduced into a system that is not fully covered by other sources of readily available power.

Elsewhere, such as Denmark, where there is a high percentage of wind power in a national market there is also access to sufficient baseload power from hydro, nuclear or coal from neighbouring countries available to cover the fluctuations.

In South Australia the backup from the Victorian interconnection is 23 per cent.

Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics suggests that by 2019 the interconnector will be importing all the Victorian electricity it can handle into South Australia for almost 23 hours a day. It does not leave much margin for error if things go wrong.

“The last few weeks in South Australia have been a perfect storm but it shows that we have to be very careful how we design markets and policies to decarbonise,’’ Australian Energy Council policy specialist Kieran Donoghue says.

This is the real challenge for Frydenberg in his new portfolio.

The ACF wants a national plan to manage the transition to clean energy. It says this plan should “deal with intermittent generation and energy security, appropriate interconnections, careful placement of renewable facilities to maximise flexibility, an orderly closure of coal-fired power plants and detailed strategies to help affected communities with the transition”.

“The benefits of renewable energy are numerous, but without national leadership and a national plan to transition our energy sector we are certain to see a rocky transition with more price fluctuations,” the ACF says.

Powerful South Australian senator Nick Xenophon has said he will support a Senate inquiry to examine the mix of renewable energy in Australia.

Australian energy ministers are due to meet soon to consider exact­ly these issues. But no one has yet put forward a credible plan of how this should be done or what the cost would be.

At best, there will be a Band-Aid solution to the immediate problems in South Australia.

Industry specialists say the Council of Australian Governments certainly will look at options for additional intercon­nectors to deepen ties between states in the national electricity market.

The cheapest option will be to expand the connection to Victoria, but that is unlikely to give South Australia the sort of diversity of supply it is seeking.

It is further complicated by Victoria’s own plans to lift renewables — through projects such as Dundonnell — and the desire of environment groups nationally that Victoria’s big baseload brown coal generators, which underpin the system, be forcibly retired as soon as possible.

Another option would be to connect to NSW or Tasmania.

The cost of a new interconnector is high, with estimates of up to $3.75 billion for a connection between NSW and South Australia. Experience shows costs can blow out by almost double.

Meanwhile, rapid advances in technology, particularly in battery storage and grid management, make it uncertain whether expensive interconnectors are the right solution for the long term.

South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis wants the ability to ship his state’s wind power to other states, something coal-fired generators in NSW and Queensland would resist.

The challenge is to stop what is happening in South Australia from occurring elsewhere as the amount of intermittent power is expanded nationally to meet the state-based and federal renewable energy targets.

Already, existing generators are arguing for greater payment for the ancillary services they provide to keep the electricity network stable.

Payments for standby reserve power and voltage regulation that cannot be provided by wind and solar would lessen the dependence of baseload plants on the spot electricity market.

But is this not a Band-Aid solution rather than long-term vision?

Central planning can be a slippery slope.

“It is important to be clearer that this transition is not costless,” Donoghue says.

“Instead of thinking that the wind and sun are free, it would be better to give a more realistic understanding of what the costs will be.”

The more governments mandate things such as the amount of renewable energy in the market, the likelier they are to find themselves having to also support remaining dispatchable generators.

“If they (governments) want to direct the transition they are going to be on the hook for all the infrastructure as well,” Donoghue says.

And under the pathways put forward by the ALP and Greens they are also going to be on the hook for the heavy social transition costs as well.

It remains uncertain what pathway Frydenberg intends to take.

In his Brookings Institution address in February, Frydenberg said it was clear the global energy supply dynamic was moving to lower emission energy sources.

He said country comparisons showed that lowering emissions from the energy sector could not be one-dimensional because countries were starting from different positions and faced different challenges.

“One such challenge will be the need to question traditional energy supply” and “such a discussion is currently taking place in South Australia”, he said.

He was talking about the South Australian royal commission into nuclear energy, which he said had “revived the discussion about the role nuclear power could play in a low carbon economy”.

“Given South Australia has 78 per cent of Australia’s uranium reserves and the stable geology to store high-level waste, this debate is shifting community attitudes and has some way to run,” he said.

The Environment and Energy Minister has a substantial challenge ahead.


Terrified residents of Melbourne neighbourhood who have lived there for decades reveal young African members of Apex gang have left them too frightened to leave their homes

The Africans concerned were rescued from refugee camps in Africa by Australia.  Their behaviour is a despicable way to say "thank you".  But it does bear out Richard Lynn's comment of pervasive psychopathy among Africans

Residents in the street where a 12-year-old girl who was threatened with death during a violent carjacking linked to the Apex gang say they are terrified to leave their homes.

There has been a violent carjacking every day for the past six days in Melbourne's suburbs.

The 12-year-old girl is now afraid of sleeping in her own bed and her family, who wish to remain anonymous, told Daily Mail Australia the attack terrified them.

She was ripped from her car and threatened with death as her family pulled up to the George Street home in St Albans, in Melbourne's north-west.

The shocking incident has left neighbours so frightened that one couple, who have lived in the street for 40 years, will not leave the house at night.  'I am a man and I am too scared to go for walks in my own street,' the man said.

'It is scary to even sleep - I am keeping a metal bar beside my bed in case they come inside.'

Another neighbour said the area has become 'so scary' in the last year with groups of young teenage boys hanging out in the nearby park drinking. 'They drink and do drugs and are so loud,' she said.  'It makes you not want to live here anymore.'

A young African man who grew up alongside some of the boys in the gang is trying to become a good role model for his community and direct the men away from crime.

Nelly Yoa, 26, does not want the boys to become career criminals and also fears that their actions are having a huge negative effect on the whole African community.

'Now I get pulled over by police when they see me because they think I am driving a stolen car,' Mr Yoa told Daily Mail Australia.

The 26-year-old plays soccer professionally and hopes to start for Melbourne City this year so he can be a better role model.

He recently went to a youth conference held by Victoria's police commissioner only to be pulled over metres down the road.

'When I left the conference I only drive about 500 metres before the police pulled me over,' Mr Yoa said. 'They had to check if the car was stolen and if it just hadn't been reported yet.

'I can understand why they have to do this and I know that there is a lot of fear and they are just doing their job but some people might not and might get angry.'

Mr Yoa is currently working with children in juvenile detention who are connected with the gang and hopes they change what they are doing before they become career criminals.

'Part of the problem is these kids know they can't get in much trouble and will get a slap on the wrist because they are under 18,' he said.  'But it is when they keep going when they turn 18 and get a criminal record and go to jail.  'They come out of being locked up even angrier than they were before and re-offend.'

While the Apex members are a minority numbers-wise in Melbourne - and all come from minority backgrounds - their presence is creating a lot of fear.

Frightened residents across the city - especially in satellite suburbs like St Albans are buying weapons to defend themselves - and patrolling the streets at night in the hope it will keep their families safe.

One man told Daily Mail Australia he had armed his wife and children with bats and hammers, and 'taught his eldest son to defend the family if he wasn't home'.

'The two younger kids know to hide in the cupboard and my 13-year-old has his own little bat,' the man said.  'I taught him not to hit people in the head with it but he knows where it is if he does need to use it.'


HSC: Changes to English, maths scaling, greater focus on Indigenous Australia

There is a vast amount of important things to learn about world history -- so why waste time studying Aboriginal history?  They are of no importance to anyone but themselves

The Board of Studies is overhauling the curriculum for Higher School Certificate (HSC) students in NSW, placing a greater focus on Australia and Aboriginal leaders in history, and significantly changing maths and English courses.

President of the Board of Studies Tom Alegounarias said in English courses, the recent tradition of comparing classic texts to modern adaptations will be dropped to allow for a return to a single-text focus.

"We never abandoned the canon but what we did have was frames through which students could study a text, so 'journeys' or 'belongings' were overarching concepts that would be used to create a reference point for kids to help them engage with a text," he said.

"That's seen to be a bit limiting now."

Mr Alegounarias said from now on, he wanted students to have the freedom to focus on "what makes a quality text".

"That may vary from book to book; if it's the subtlety and wit of Jane Austen, then that should be the focus," he said.

In history, there would be a greater emphasis on Australia including Indigenous leaders such as Eddie Mabo and Charles Perkins.

"Those are options for case studies at the beginning of Year 11 where we're introducing to students how to study history," Mr Alegounarias said.

"They're not the central focus of the changes; the central focus is that World War II becomes a core mandatory unit for all."

Maths scaling system to change

The board's president said the scaling system would change for maths students.

"We're creating what we call a common scale, that is we're ensuring that each level of course is on a hierarchy of difficulty and by the time you get to extension two these are really brilliant students," Mr Alegounarias said.

"We're giving them the opportunity to stretch themselves further - it's becoming slightly more complex."

State Opposition spokesman Jihad Dib said he did not think the changes were as significant as they sounded.

"This is what contemporary society would expect - the evolution of the HSC to meet the modern needs of society," he said.

But he questioned the thinking behind dropping the comparative approach in Year 12 English, one that for many years has seen thousands of students study Jane Austen's Emma alongside the 1995 film Clueless.

"In English, I don't think it's such a problem to be able to study the difference between time and place and to compare and contrast," he said.

The former high school principal is also wary of changes to scaling for maths students.

"We have to be careful so we don't set kids up to fail and ask them to choose subjects that they think will get them a better HSC mark regardless of whether they're capable in that subject or not," Mr Dib said.

Earlier this week, the State Government announced that from 2020, students would not be able to get their HSC without first meeting minimum standards of literacy and numeracy.


Dole payments: MP George Christensen wants dole payments cut after six months

DOLE recipients would have their payments cut after six months under a proposal to help offset the cost of keeping more generous superannuation tax concessions for the well off.

LNP MP George Christensen will submit the plan to the Nationals partyroom and raise it directly with Social Services Minister Christian Porter.

Mr Christensen, a strong opponent to the Turnbull Government’s $6 billion superannuation reforms, said the Government could reverse some of the changes by taking an axe to the welfare system. The cost of Newstart — the dole — has reached almost $9 billion a year.

Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Mail, Mr Christensen said people on Newstart and those under the age of 45 years should be given six months to find a job — and if they failed they would be on their own.

Regional areas in Queensland have stubbornly high youth unemployment rates despite local farmers and business requiring backpackers or overseas workers to fill vacancies.

“We squibbed it last time,’’ Mr Christensen said, referring to the first Abbott government budget that tried to force the unemployed to wait six months before getting payments.

“Maybe if they know their dole will run out in six months they’ll go and get a job.”

Asked what the unintended consequences could be, Mr Christensen said he didn’t know, but “you can’t just throw your hands up in the air and say I don’t know what to do”.

He said he was annoyed by the dramatically-high cost of unemployment benefits at a time when farmers had complained a backpacker tax would devastate their businesses. The Government announced in its 2015/16 Budget that it would set a flat tax rate of 32.5 per cent on backpacker earnings.

“We need to take welfare and unemployment benefits,’’ Mr Christensen said.

“We’ve got farmers up our ribs about the backpacker tax. Every single farmer says ‘it will kill us’ because we won’t have any labour.”

He said business owners have told him some unemployed people tried to get sacked after a short period so they could go back on welfare.


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