Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Male Muslim students at Sydney public school given permission to refuse to shake hands with women - because it is against their religion

Muslim students at a Sydney public school can refuse to shake hands with women even at an awards ceremony.

The Hurstville Boys Campus of Georges River College introduced the policy to allow Muslim boys to instead put their hand on the heart as a greeting.

The Year 7 to 10 school's two principals told guests at its 2016 presentation day, including notable community members, that students may decline the gesture.

The practice comes from the Muslim teaching of hadith that states: 'It is better to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is not permissible to you.'

The NSW Education told The Australian it approved of the 'agreed protocol' that was developed through consultation between staff, parents and students.

'The department require­s its schools to recognise and respect the cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds of all students, with the intent to promote an open and tolerant attitude towards a diverse Australian community­,' it said.

The department said principals were best placed to know the needs of their communities when following that requirement.

Such a literal interpretation of hadith, which describes the practices of the prophet Mohammed is controversial even among Australian Muslim leaders.

Australia's Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed shakes hands with women as did his predecessor, Fehmi Naji El-Imam, and Islamic schools do not even have the policy.

Former Islamic Council of Victoria secretary Kuranda Seyit said many young students were taught to take it 'too seriously' and it should apply in a school context. 'For some young adults, when they meet people of the opposite sex, to shake someone's hand suggests a friendship,' he said.

Mr Seyit said it was an issue because Australians do not understand the custom and could be embarrassed if they were 'left hanging'.

'Students should be able to shake hands with the teacher or the principal, or receive a greeting from a visitor to the school,' he said.


Shorten fails to specify cost of Labor's renewables policy when asked four times

Bill Shorten has declined to be specific about the cost of Labor’s goal to have 50% of Australia’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030.

In an early morning radio interview on Wednesday, Shorten was asked four times about the cost to consumers of executing such a transition, but the Labor leader deflected, pointing to the costs of not acting.

With the Coalition intent on making energy policy a point of sharp partisan difference, Malcolm Turnbull pounced on the interview, telling reporters in Canberra the Labor leader had admitted “he had no idea what his reckless renewable energy target would cost, or what its consequences would be.”

“He confirmed precisely the criticism that we’ve made about Mr Shorten, that he is literally clueless on this subject, mindless, just like South Australia has been.”

Labor’s 50% by 2030 policy is not a RET, it is an “aspiration”. Labor’s election policy says the 50% national goal would work in concert with state-based RET schemes, which the prime minister has blasted consistently since a storm plunged South Australia into a statewide blackout last year.

During an interview with the ABC Shorten was pressed repeatedly about the practical consequences of the shift – the costs to consumers of executing such a significant transition in Australia’s energy mix.

Shorten attempted to explain the broad rationale for increasing renewables in Australia’s energy mix, and he said Labor believed there was “a range of levers which assist, from having an emissions intensive scheme and the energy intensity scheme in the energy industry, having a market trading scheme and an emissions trading scheme [and] looking at the rate of land clearing.”

“Our answer is very, very straightforward. We think the cost of not acting is far greater.”

“We don’t think we could sustain the cost as the Liberals are saying, of building new coal-fired power generation on the scale which Mr Turnbull is saying and we don’t think that, from insurance to drought to extreme weather events, that we can simply go business as usual.”

Australian National University research associate Hugh Saddler in July 2015 estimated Labor’s policy would increase wholesale market prices by four cents per kWh above present levels in every state market except South Australia.

By signing on to the Paris climate agreement, the Turnbull government has committed Australia to reducing emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030. Meeting those targets will impose costs on consumers.

The government has been advised by numerous experts that its Direct Action climate policy will not allow Australia to meet the Paris targets, and adopting an emissions intensity scheme, a form of carbon trading, would allow Australia to reduce emissions from energy at the least cost to households and businesses.

The government has thus far rejected that advice.


Traditional Aboriginal culture at odds with "closing the gap"

Nine years, tens of billions of dollars and tons of national goodwill have not made much impression on the appalling gaps in social outcomes between the most disadvantaged indigenous Australians and other citizens.

This is the depressing finding of the 2017 Closing the Gap report — which has prompted Malcolm Turnbull to announce yet another reinvention of the federal government’s approach to indigenous policy.

The annual ritual of acknowledging the failure to close the gap should prompt us to consider the well-meaning but contradictory character of our approach to indigenous affairs.

Indigenous policy continues to pull in different and hard-to-reconcile directions. Recognising the tensions and contradictions might encourage us to adopt a more realistic attitude towards closing the gap.

The Rudd government’s Closing the Gap strategy introduced in 2008 extended the Howard government’s idea of practical reconciliation. The idea was that if indigenous people, regardless of where they lived, were given access to the same standard of social services as other Australians, they would hopefully achieve the same health, education, employment and other social outcomes.

This mainstreaming of indigenous services replaced the policy of Aboriginal self-determination established in the 1970s, which involved indigenous-controlled organisations delivering services to indigenous people. By the mid-2000s, Aboriginal self-determination was widely acknowledged to have failed to improve outcomes, especially in remote communities with the highest levels of disadvantage.

It now seems that the Turnbull government has gone back to the future: it has pledged to empower indigenous communities and collaborate with indigenous organisations to deliver local solutions — a renewed focus on self-determination, in combination with a commitment to ensuring indigenous programs are properly evaluated.

The Howard, Rudd and Turnbull approaches have all been underpinned by the same principle: government support should be extended to allow indigenous people to continue to live on their traditional lands in order to preserve traditional indigenous culture and identity.

This was also the idea behind Kevin Rudd’s recent comments about the emergence of a “second stolen generation” if indigenous children continue to be “separated from their culture” at record rates due to abuse and neglect.

The worst social outcomes and disadvantage are among the 20 per cent of indigenous Australians who live in rural and remote homelands with the worst social dysfunction.

By contrast, the 80 per cent of indigenous Australians who live mainly in urban areas achieve social outcomes that are the same as their non-indigenous peers. Moreover, their indigenous identity is unquestioned, despite having little contact with traditional lands and traditional culture.

Yet many Australians continue to support the idea of indigenous people living close to culture on traditional lands. They believe this is the path to true reconciliation by making up for the historic sins of colonial dispossession. Yet these attitudes make the problems worse.

This is the great insight of anthropologist Peter Sutton, who spent many years working in indigenous communities in Cape York. He has shown how the problems in the homelands cannot simply be blamed on colonial oppression, lack of self-determination, or suppression of indigenous culture.

As Sutton argues, the remote communities with the worst problems are those that have been least, and most recently, touched by colonisation, and where people have continued to live closest to a traditional manner and on their traditional lands. In these communities, the persistence of traditional culture practices — such as hunter and gatherer-style hygiene and sanitation habits and permissively neglectful attitudes to parenting children — contribute significantly to poor health, child welfare, and other social outcomes.

Welfare, alcohol, drugs and pornography imported into indigenous communities through contact with non-indigenous culture continue to cause havoc.

But as Alice Springs indigenous leader Jacinta Price has powerfully emphasised, epidemic levels of domestic violence in indigenous communities are caused by the deep cultural roots of some indigenous men’s traditional, violent and misogynistic attitudes towards woman.

The implications for indigenous policy are confronting — namely that if we want indigenous people to continue to live remotely in order live close to culture, maybe we need to accept that the consequence will be gaps in social outcomes.

Adopting this realistic approach will not solve the intractable problem of indigenous disadvantage. But it may help bring clarity to discussion of indigenous policy, and what can and can’t be done to close the gap.


The new welfare state leviathan

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was described in a CIS report five years ago as "the new leviathan"; "in budgetary terms, another Medicare"; and "a monster of a government program."

This has been confirmed in spades, and it is hardly surprising that paying for the $22 billion monster has become a contentious issue.

The scheme's most ardent advocates insist it is fully funded because various revenue and expense offsets were announced when it was launched. This is just so much sophistry.

The offsets were never enough, and in any case were not put into a jam jar labelled 'NDIS'. That is not how the budget works. As long as there is a deficit, nothing the government does can be said to be fully funded by current revenue, and all spending programs and all revenue sources are subject to scrutiny for ways out of the deficit hole.

The real issue is the NDIS has attracted such political support that even at birth it is a sacred cow of public policy. It has become politically incorrect to be critical of it or anything connected to it. The former CEO of Myer learned that when he dared state the truth -- that increasing the Medicare levy to help pay for the NDIS would be bad for retail sales.

Ideally, the scheme would have been deferred until it could be afforded, but that opportunity has gone. Still, the NDIS cannot defy budget arithmetic: it has to be paid for, and doing so as it ramps up over the next three years makes balancing the budget so much harder. To state -- as various ministers have this week -- that this means spending less elsewhere and/or raising more revenue is to state the incontrovertible.

It is to be hoped the government is not softening us up for another hike in the Medicare levy. This is just an increase in income tax by another name, and would make a mockery of this government's rhetoric in favour of lower income tax. If the NDIS is sacred, then the way to make room for it in the budget is to squeeze other programs.


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

No comments: