Sunday, January 22, 2017
Have Australians become snowflakes too?
A Victorian reader comments as follows on the recent car rampage in Melbourne described below:
"All those cars stopped at intersection, male drivers watching him wheelying around swerving at and trying to hit pedestrians on the footpath, and no one rammed him to stop him, and even the police in their vehicles stayed back.
This is a city unguarded. I remember when there were always four police officers on duty at this intersection – two directing traffic in synch with the traffic lights and two standing on the Young and Jackson’s corner. There were also two officers at most other city intersections, and pairs of officers walking the city. I remember when there were police weather booths in Swanston St. I remember when you could look around and see a police officer almost anywhere in the city, and they interacted with the public.
Now no police walk the city. Police park marked police vehicles around the city, mostly in Swanston Street near McDonalds and leave them there around the clock, coming in groups to move them occasionally, fancying that their cars left there makes it look like there are police officers around, but everyone knows there are no police around, just locked police cars"
A HEAVILY pregnant mother caught up in the Melbourne CBD car ramming attack that left four people dead and many more injured has told how it was “obvious (the driver) was going to kill”.
Meesha Rhodes Ali, 31, and her brother Ian Rhodes, 33, were travelling together in a car when they stopped at the front of Flinders and Swanson St intersection traffic lights. Within seconds they were stuck in an unwanted front seat to the horrifying events that unfolded outside Melbourne’s Flinders Street station yesterday.
Four people, including a 10 year old child — were killed and 15 injured when accused Dimitrious “Jimmy” Gargasoulas deliberately ploughed the allegedly stolen car he was driving into crowds in the CBD.
Ms Rhodes Ali said the maroon car suddenly screeched towards her, nearly wiping out pedestrians on “every corner of the road”, before the driver moved into the centre of the intersection and started doing “burnouts”.
“Every time he moved he was endangering bystanders and swiped them on every path he drove on,” Ms Rhodes Ali said.
“He turned right into me. So I screeched my brakes and he missed my car right in front of me.
“Then I quickly reversed as he did doughnuts. The burnout was so sudden. I kept inching back.”
Many pedestrians were struck by a car that was deliberately driven into Melbourne crowds. Picture: Tony Gough
Many pedestrians were struck by a car that was deliberately driven into Melbourne crowds. Picture: Tony GoughSource:News Corp Australia
Ms Rhodes Ali said Gargasoulas suddenly “stopped right in front of us”.
“A few pedestrians at that point had already tried to stop him,” she said. “One man had a bat. (Gargasoulas) was provoking the guy with a cricket bat. He was like ‘come on come on’, gesturing him to come. “I thought to get my camera out but worried he would see me and smash my car.”
Ms Rhodes Ali recorded the ordeal on her camera and later uploaded the footage to social media. The driver can be seen hanging out the window of the car, yelling and gesturing wildly as the car continues moving. “We heard him say ‘f*** the world, you’re all sheep, die die die’,” she said.
She said the driver appeared to be “on a mission to just cause damage”.
Ms Rhodes Ali said she was devastated when she later learned the driver had ploughed into more crowds and killed four people including a man and woman in their 30s and a 10-year-old child. The Australian Jewish News is reporting that the 10-year-old victim was a student from Beth Rivkah College in St Kilda East.
Gargasoulas, who was shot in the arm by officers after a 12-hour rampage, is being treated in hospital.
He will be charged with multiple homicides after four people were confirmed dead and 15 injured, with several of them still in a critical condition. Among the victims fighting for their lives is a three-month-old baby girl who was taken to the Royal Childrens Hospital by police officers. She is in a critical condition. There is also a toddler in serious condition at the hospital and a nine-year-old is in a stable condition.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the incident was not terror-related but was linked to a stabbing that took place in Windsor early Friday morning involving parties known to one another.
Alcoa's Portland smelter: Is the facility viable and what does the government bail-out mean?
Is Daniel Andrews Victoria's Donald Trump? Trump influence does suggest itself
It has been a nervous wait for workers at Alcoa's aluminium smelter in Portland ahead of an announcement the federal and Victorian governments would help secure the facility's future with $240 million over the next four years.
But how did the plant get into trouble and will this bailout help? Why was the smelter at risk?
That smelter's future has been under a cloud since a decades-old deal with the Victorian Government to subsidise Alcoa's power bills ended in October last year.
The deal was enacted in the late 1980s by then-Labor premier John Cain and was designed to provide electricity to both the Portland and now-defunct Point Henry smelters at a price linked to the world price of aluminium.
Victoria's Treasurer Tim Pallas said the subsidy had "run its course" and was costing the state more than $100 million a year on some occasions.
The plant suffered another blow last year after a power outage caused one of its two pot lines to solidify forcing the smelter to operate at about a third of its capacity.
The outage came at a time the facility was also negotiating for a new power supply deal.
AGL Loy Yang had been recruited to supply power to the smelter from November, after the subsidy ended, but Alcoa terminated its contract with the company in August to renegotiate a better price.
Amid the mounting uncertainty, Alcoa asked two-thirds of its Portland workforce to take annual leave to help reduce costs.
In December, federal and Victorian industry ministers travelled to Alcoa's global headquarters in New York in a bid to try to keep the Portland smelter open and save jobs.
Is the smelter viable?
The future of the 30-year-old aluminium smelter has been secured over the next four years with the rescue package.
AGL has also announced it has finalised a new four-year deal to supply electricity to the smelter.
The smelter has relied on brown coal-fired power to run, which is more carbon intensive [but cheaper] than normal coal. It also chews through about one tenth of Victoria's electricity.
But energy expert from the University of Melbourne, Dylan McConnell, said the government assistance was right in the short-term. "We have this relatively young aluminium smelter, we've got this highly skilled workforce and all the infrastructure that sits around that," he told the ABC's AM program. "It would be a shame if we lose that in the short term, that would not be a good thing for the Victorian economy."
He said any deal the Government struck should see the smelter transition away from coal-fired power.
"I would like to see it remain, but perhaps with some sort of provisions that help facilitate this transition to a renewable energy supply."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the smelter must secure an affordable energy supply.
"Which ever way you slice or dice it, you have to be able to keep the lights on. You have to be able to keep your pots operating here," he said. "You have to be able to afford it. Because if energy is not affordable, then you lose job after job."
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the smelter was one of the most efficient and safest in the world and said workers were "worth every cent" of the rescue package.
The bailout also comes amid a global decline of the aluminium industry. In the United States, eight smelters have either closed or curtailed since 2015, with only two smelters fully operational today — the lowest level of production since World War II.
Environment Victoria's Nicholas Aberle said the industry was relying on renewables in other parts of the world.
"We do know that south-west Victoria is one of the windiest parts of the country, western Victoria could become the wind energy capital of Australia with the right levers in place," he said.
How much will it cost?
The ABC understands the rescue package will cost the Victorian Government about $210 million over four years. The Federal Government has also announced it would give the smelter a $30-million grant over the same time period.
Mr Pallas said the package was about half the cost of the subsidy previously supplied. He told ABC Radio Melbourne the use of public funds was justified because it would return up to eight times the outlay.
"It's about 1,600 jobs, both direct and indirect in a town of about 10,700 and the economic value to the state is about $386 million a year," he said.
The smelter is the region's largest employer and provides more than 2,000 indirect jobs.
Ben Davis, from the Australian Workers Union, said Portland was so reliant on Alcoa "that it almost defies description".
Workers said today after much uncertainty they were relieved the plant would remain open.
Jamie Ferguson, who works at the smelter, said he was overjoyed with the rescue package with five children and a wife to support.
Robert Vaugn has worked at the smelter for 23 years and said he was confident the new deal would secure the facility's long-term future. "I don't think they would have started this place again if they weren't confident that they could run it at a profit," he said. "So I think it's got a long future. We make good grade metal here, which is better than a lot of other smelters."
Victorian government encouraging workers not to use ‘wife’, ‘husband’
This is from last year but I think it remains notable
THE Victorian Government has come under fire for encouraging workers to not use the words “wife” or “husband” to avoid offending LGBTI colleagues.
The recommendation was released in the Inclusive Language Guide earlier this year which says workers should avoid “heteronormative’’ terms and instead use works like ‘’partner” to refer to loved ones.
Minister for Equality Martin Foley has defended the document saying there was no ban, the guide suggests “you should try and avoid the use of husband and wife.’’
The recommendations have been labelled as over the top by Opposition spokesman Tim Smith.
“People should be respectful to everyone regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, sexuality and appearance, but once again Daniel Andrews is dividing people with his over the top ideological nonsense,” Mr Smith said.
“Victorians are being swamped by a violent crime wave and skyrocketing electricity bills but Daniel Andrews is focused on people using heteronormative terms such as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’.
“This isn’t just creating unnecessary division it’s also a frightening waste of taxpayers’ money when respect and common sense is what’s needed.”
Mr Foley said language guidelines were standard practice.
“This is not a new document — and follows a long standing practice of government departments having guides on language,’’ he said.
“The facts are that LGBTI people have higher levels of anxiety, depression and suicide — they achieve lower educational outcomes — and words matter.
“It makes the point that we shouldn’t assume that a person is married. Not everyone is heterosexual — and at the end of the day we should also remember that marriage rates in Australia are also declining.”
The document recommended using gender neutral terms that exist including ‘zie’ and ‘hir’.
“If unsure, you can ask someone directly what their preferred pronoun is in a respectful manner,’’ it says.
“Where possible, check privately to reduce discomfort. If you do make a mistake, apologise promptly and move on, it will likely make the person feel more uncomfortable if you dwell on the mistake. Try to avoid making the same mistake again.”
The document also tells workers to not ask questions about genitalia or breasts or ask a transgender person if they have had surgery.
A message accompanying the guidelines by Mr Foley said the: “Victorian Government is committed to equality for all Victorians’’.
“It is the responsibility of the Victorian Government to keep people safe.’’
“This includes Victoria’s LGBTI communities. The e is one of the ways in which we are addressing and eradicating homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”
Greens pressured over Australia Day protests
Outspoken Coalition MP George Christensen has called for Greens leader Richard Di Natale to expel party members who are planning a seven day campaign of flag burning and barbecue disruption in protest against Australia Day.
Senator Di Natale has refused to condemn radical NSW Greens faction Left Renewal, which has called upon supported to steal and burn the “Aus rag” (Australian flag), disrupt barbecues, erect protest banners and spray paint walls and roads in a week-long show of “resistance” against Australia Day.
The group includes party members, candidates and political staffers. Senator Di Natale yesterday declined to comment. The Australian has contacted his office again today.
Mr Christensen said members of the Greens who wanted to disrupt Australia Day should be expelled from the party.
“The far left faction of the NSW Greens are actively promoting disruption of our national day of celebration and I call on Greens leader Richard di Natalie to show some spine and expel party members who are encouraging theft and acts of desecration of our national flag,” he said.
Mr Christensen put up a bill last year to criminalise burning of the Australian flag. “That bill will need to be reintroduced as we now have a new parliament,” he said.
“The need for such a bill is being demonstrated yet again as the vast majority of Australians get ready to enjoy a day of celebrating this great country of ours, and we have this pack of ratbags wanting to grandstand and denigrate what we stand for.”
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, whose staffer Tom Raue is a Left Renewal supporter, told the Daily Telegraph the broader party did not support Australia Day anarchy.
However, he said that January 26 was an “extremely controversial day to celebrate Australian nationhood” because “for our first peoples” it “commemorates the invasion of their land and two and a quarter centuries of violence, oppression and dispossession”.
Resigning NSW Premier, Mike Baird, condemned Left Renewal’s actions.
“Australia Day is a day for all Australians,’’ he said. “Anybody setting out to disrupt those celebrations, or promote disrespect for our flag, will be unsuccessful.”
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, whose inner Sydney seat of Grayndler is being targeted by the Greens, said the radical group was “out of touch”.
Fellow Labor MP Nick Champion said Australia Day should be about the Australian values of liberty, justice, mateship and democracy and condemned both the Left Renewal group and far right groups who had lobbied to have a billboard depicting two Muslim girls celebrating Australia Day taken down.
“Both of these groups are really sort of missing out on that basic tenet of Australian life of mateship, giving people a fair go and treating people as you would want to be treated yourself,” Mr Champion said.
He suggested both groups should “take a chill pill”. “Don’t try and take your extreme politics into a day that should be about national unity,” he said.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here