Sunday, April 30, 2017

A government-sponsored bank won't help social housing

Just over 400,000 Australian households live in social housing, comprised mainly of public and community housing. Tenants pay on average $9,444 per year below market rents: the main reason for the lengthy queue to get into social housing - at least 10 years wait for most of Sydney.

My latest research report, Reforming Social Housing: financing and tenant autonomy, states many other issues face the sector including poor maintenance, mediocre tenant satisfaction, and many dwellings inappropriate for tenant needs. The sector is arguably financially unsustainable; gives tenants almost no choice over accommodation; and is beset with substantial inequities and poor incentives.

These problems won't be fixed by the latest proposal for a government-backed bond aggregator - effectively a government bank for social housing. An aggregator without government sponsorship could be worthwhile, but government backing brings with it many problems; particularly discouraging necessary reform of the sector.

Any government backing for the aggregator is only worthwhile if the benefit is fully passed on to housing providers. So why not give the benefit directly to social housing instead of using a costly and non-transparent intermediary? And if government-backed lending is good for social housing, why not do it for schools, hospitals, roads, and infrastructure more broadly?

Governments should instead pursue other reforms. Funding to state governments for public housing should be replaced by funding direct to tenants, while the remaining funding should strongly encourage other state reforms.

These reforms include allowing new social housing tenants to choose accommodation; differentiating rent by dwelling quality; ensuring policies treat public and community housing similarly; and transferring public housing to the community sector.

States should also have incentives to remove restrictive planning laws that cause housing unaffordability and increased social housing costs.

Such reforms offer more value than a government-sponsored bond aggregator, by giving tenants much more autonomy over their lives, making the sector more efficient and responsive to tenant needs, and doing much more for social housing affordability.


Penalties make hospitals accountable

Sooner or later the medical profession is going to have to realise that health funders are serious about no longer simply paying for medical `inputs' but are serious about paying for `outputs' - quality outcomes for patients.

Aided and abetted by an increasingly health literate population, with smart watches and mobile internet, both consumers and funders want to know more about the care being provided. And why shouldn't they?

The government's proposal to penalise hospitals for preventable mistakes which cause death or serious harm - i.e. `sentinel events' such as operating on the wrong person, a newborn being sent home with the wrong family, patient suicide and fatal medication errors - will launch on July 1 of this year.

Public hospitals will not receive funding for any episodes of care that contain a sentinel event, potentially saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

The real objective, of course, is to improve safety and quality across Australia's public hospitals - which still fail to meet benchmarks and demonstrate significant clinical variance.

State health departments maintain that half the sentinel events to attract a penalty are "not preventable" and the list should be narrowed. Nevertheless, it is anticipated the policy will be extended to include other hospital-acquired complications; a step the AMA is hoping to delay until 2020.

Other critics argue the new regime will encourage hospitals to hide mistakes: so much for open-disclosure and patient-centred care, not to mention the integrity of health professionals.

More alarmingly, some commentators have suggested that sentinel events (even if they are acknowledged) don't reflect hospital quality. The argument that financial penalties are unlikely to significantly improve "the bottom line" on health spending misses the point about greater demands for the transparency of health outcomes.

A good way to improve outcomes - and one that has been successful in other sectors of the economy - is consumer feedback. Penalising hospitals for medical errors is just a different, and very valuable, kind of feedback. And one that holds hospitals accountable for the care they provide.


Why Tasmanian Taxpayers Should Not Fund MONA

The Australian Christian Lobby has condemned the latest horrific and debauched `art' spectacle proposed by Hermann Nitsch at Tasmania's MONA attraction and has called on Premier Will Hodgman to withdraw taxpayer support of it.

"Like so much of MONA's `art', this production is an affront to civil and decent society. It is a debased occultist ritual clothed in the guise of art," ACL Tasmanian director Mark Brown said.

The 150.Action `blood ritual' is scheduled to take place at Macquaire Point, Hobart in June.

"MONA has yet again pushed the boundaries too far and our political leaders must show courage, as Federal MP Andrew WIlkie and Hobart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey have done, by standing up to such depravity," Mr Brown said.

"I applaud Lord Mayor Hickey and Mr Wilkie for their clear and uncompromising opposition to the event," Mr Brown said.

"As the Lord Mayor pointed out, many religious people would especially find this imagery highly offensive.

"Drinking blood, mock crucifixions, naked bodies oozing blood out of their genitalia and frenzied "disciples" cavorting in blood, semen and guts while church bells chime in the background - who in their right mind would think this is acceptable in a modern civil society?

"If MONA want to put on shows like this, they should do so without State Government partnership and taxpayers' money."

Mr Brown said it was disappointing to hear Mr Hodgman say that the State Government was partnering with Mona because "it brings extraordinary economic returns for our state".

"Most Tasmanians would agree that just because something may support the economy it doesn't mean it should happen," Mr Brown said.

"As Tourism Minister and Premier, is this really how Mr Hodgman would want our beautiful state to be known and remembered by tourists?"

More than 12,000 people have signed a petition opposing the show.

"Taxpayer funding of this type of event reflects poorly on our community's core values and our image of what it means to be human," Mr Brown said.


Vic to get justice overhaul, more cops

Violent criminals will be subject to the same post-sentence monitoring and as sex offenders and some will even remain locked up, in Victoria's $308 million justice overhaul.

Those deemed by a court as unsuitable for release into the community at the end of a prison sentence will be sent to a 10-bed facility to be built within the existing prison system.

Others will be subject to electronic monitoring, curfews, no-go zones and strict reporting requirements, it was announced on Thursday.

The Sex Offender Response Unit, made up of police, intelligence analysts and corrections staff, will manage the expanded scheme and a new authority will be created to oversee unit.

It will all be a part of $308 million package to implement the recommendations of the Harper Review.

The review was prompted by the murder of 17-year-old Masa Vukotic at the hands of Sean Price, who was in the community on a supervision order in 2015.

Law and order was the major theme of the government's pre-budget announcements on Thursday.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Police Minister Lisa Neville also announced where some of the first 300 new frontline officers will be walking their new beats.

More than 100 new officers will go to west to Wyndham, Maribyrnong, Melton and Brimbank; 89 are headed north to Hume, Moonee Valley and Moreland; 50 are going to the southeast; 45 to Whittlesea and 10 to Geelong.

The new recruits are a part of a $2 billion announcement made last year, with the funds set aside in next week's 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

Friday, April 28, 2017

"I was born in Australia and I don’t want to assimilate"  -- but integration and assimilation are not the same thing.

Koraly Dimitriadis does make an important point below but it may not be the one she has in mind. For a start, she is clearly reflecting the views of her Greek parents. Greek immigrants of yesteryear typically saw Australians as a low lot with no morals or standards. They fitted in very well to Australian society with the fish-shops, greengrocers and milk bars that they set up (among other things) but were very strong on maintaining their cultural separateness. "Separateness" in Afrikaans is "apartheid". So they were clearly racists in a loose application of that term and Ms Dimitriadis clearly has a similar view of "old" (Anglo-Celtic) Australians.

Amusingly, as time has gone by, the lack of "standards" that older Greeks deplored in Australia has turned up in Greece also. So young Greeks who return to Greece to absorb their heritage tend to find that modern Greece is much more like Australia than it is like the Greece of their parents' description. I believe that even "hooking up" has arrived in Athens, which would be anathema to older Greeks.

But the underlying fact that Ms Dimitriadis seems not to realize is that integration and assimilation are not the same thing. Australia has absorbed vast numbers of immigrants from Europe and Asia with only minor frictions. The migrants concerned often did not assimilate in that they retained much of their own culture and customs but they integrated into Australian society by working for their living and not making waves. They rarely did break and enters and they don't go around shooting and bombing people in the name of Allah. So no-one was bothered by them and very little was required of them if they wanted to become citizens.

So the recently proposed citizenship test is not remotely aimed at Greeks, East Asians or Hindu Indians. Almost nobody is concerned about them gaining citizenship. There is nothing to be concerned about. What the tests are aimed at is the two groups of recent arrivals that I mentioned: Africans and Muslims. It is they whom the government wants to crack down on. But in an era of political correctness, they do not feel able to be frank about their aims. If they made the citizenship test applicable to Africans and Muslims only, there would be a huge uproar about "racism" from the Left. So a test designed to restrict Africans and Muslims has to be made applicable to all immigrants.

And, reasonably, some people, such as Ms Dimitriadis, feel the test is not and should not be applicable to her or her relatives. Ms Dimitriadis is undoubtedly a good citizen of Australia and deserves no special scrutiny of herself or her culture. So what she has highlighted is the difficulty that political correctness imposes. It causes her and her relatives to be treated like some very obnoxious groups are treated. It removes an important opportunity to make reasonable distinctions.

Just a small aside in conclusion: At the end of her article, she says:

"I’ll be proud to call myself Australian, to follow Australian values, when I see some values I’d like to follow, until then, I’ll stick to being myself"

She might more frankly have said, "I’ll stick to being a Greek Australian". And there is no reason why she should not do that. Greek Australians have made great contributions to Australia. The only difficulty is that political correctness would have made that statement racist

ASSISTANT Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke said something on the ABC’s Q&A this week that did not sit well with me.

When asked about recent swift changes to obtaining Australian citizenship, he responded:  “… if you want to become Australian you have to assimilate and integrate into Australian society.”

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I was born in Australia and I am not interested in assimilating.

Assimilate and integrate into what? Australian society? Isn’t Australia a multicultural society made up of different people, cultures and faiths? Maybe what the government actually means is Anglo Saxon Christian Australian society.

“Australian values” and fluency in the English language will be some of the revamps to the new citizenship testing. Anglo Saxon English migrants will do just fine then. Migrants where English isn’t their first language will be at a disadvantage.

Just off the back of the Senate rejecting the proposed changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and racist Australians crying out “freedom of speech”, in conjunction with the recent skilled migration visa changes, it seems our government this year has adopted Pauline Hanson-style discrimination politics.

While the list of questions for the test has yet to be finalised, whether or not it is appropriate to hit your wife is an example being thrown around. Apart from the ludicrous idea that someone applying for citizenship would tick “yes”, wouldn’t appropriate police checks be done when applying for permanent residency and citizenship?

“Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.

Since when is knowing fluent English proof you’re a true blue Aussie? Isn’t the language of Australia the hundreds of indigenous languages? Lucky Section 18C is still intact and the words “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” were not replaced with “harass” because I am terribly offended right now.

Many members of my extended and immediate family who migrated to Australia in the 70s don’t know fluent English and they are prouder Aussies than I am and I was born here. From the day their ship docked, they have worked hard creating flourishing businesses, they have purchased their own home, educated their children to university level, and contributed not only to the economy but to the face of Australia’s multicultural society. It seems when it comes to appreciating different cultures, Anglo’s are good at appreciating the cuisine, not so much the customs and language.

See, this is why I don’t sing the Australian national anthem. Why would I want to pledge my allegiance to a racist country? The only Australia I am interested in is multicultural Australia. Not racist Australia, not Anglo Australia, but multicultural Australia. But all this government has shown me is they are interested in fuelling segregation. Just from the changes to the skilled migration visas and citizenship changes, racist Australians are getting validated by our government.

I can just hear it already: “Stop stealing our jobs, learn English or go back to where you came from, and give us our freedom of speech to offend you out in public rather than discretely behind closed doors.”

If the government really wants to keep jobs for Australians, maybe they could start by banning big companies from outsourcing their call centres to third world countries.

The government needs to realise that the words “assimilate” and “integrate” can be highly offensive to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Because assimilate means integrate into the dominant power and that dominant power is Anglo.

The entire parliament of Australia needs a lesson in multiculturalism, in unifying communities rather than tearing them apart. I’ll be proud to call myself Australian, to follow Australian values, when I see some values I’d like to follow, until then, I’ll stick to being myself.


Queensland police 'soliciting' victims to withdraw complaints in bid to cut crime rate, report finds

Police are "soliciting" victims to withdraw complaints in an effort to keep a lid on rising crime rates, Queensland's auditor-general has found.

The auditor's report says pressure from the police hierarchy to cut crime rates has left the Queensland Police Service (QPS) "open to claims of manipulation".

The ABC revealed in January that two police crime managers on the Gold Coast had raised concerns legitimate crime reports were being labelled "unfounded" to keep offences off the books.

Their allegations were passed onto the Queensland auditor-general after their superiors failed to act on their complaints.

In a report about criminal justice data tabled in Parliament, the Audit Office said police crime statistics were "questionable at best and unreliable at worst, and should be treated with caution".

The report focused on the Gold Coast police district, finding officers there used various methods to try to get victims to withdraw their complaints.

The methods included "soliciting victims to withdraw complaints" and sending victims letters requiring them to respond within seven days.

If they failed to respond, police would "presume" they wanted the complaint withdrawn.

The complaints related to offences including assault, burglary, stealing and wilful damage.

"Our analysis of statewide crime statistics indicates that the inappropriate practices and attitudes identified on the Gold Coast regarding changes to crime data are unlikely to be isolated to that district," the report stated.

Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan told the ABC inappropriate police conduct would be investigated. "I would say to anyone who feels like they've been inappropriately contacted by police to let us know. There is a complaints process," he said. "We expect the highest standards, the very highest standards from our Queensland police.

"If there are shortcomings in those behaviours in respect of any aspect of their role, then those shortcomings will be investigated and we will hold those officers to the highest standards."

The latest QPS crime figures reveal the rates of assault, fraud, robbery and unlawful entry on the Gold Coast in 2016 rose from the year before.

Police detective turned criminologist Terry Goldsworthy believes the concerns raised by the auditor-general should be referred to the state's Crime and Corruption Commission.

"It's not just the fact it's sloppy bookkeeping. What's seen here suggests there's been deliberate manipulation. In other words, a process has been undertaken to mislead," he said.


WA man wrongly convicted after DNA error

A DNA profiling mistake that led to an innocent man being convicted has been referred to WA's Corruption and Crime Commission a year following the discovery of the error.

The man was charged in 2004 over a home invasion and despite protesting his innocence, agreed to plead guilty because his lawyer told him he risked jail time if he lost a trial on the back of strong DNA evidence.

The Department of Health's forensic testing service, PathWest, had incorrectly matched him to DNA belonging to another man with the same name.

Health Minister Roger Cook and Attorney-General John Quigley say it is understood the error was not identified until April 2016, when PathWest notified police.

But the Director of Public Prosecutions was told only last week.

Mr Cook has requested the public sector commissioner conduct an immediate inquiry into PathWest's operations and Mr Quigley has referred the matter to the Corruption and Crime Commission.

"This is a very serious matter," Mr Cook said on Thursday.

"The North Metropolitan Health Service is also undertaking its own audit to determine whether any other errors of this nature could have occurred."

Mr Quigley said the man who the DNA belonged to had an extensive criminal record and went on to commit other crimes.

He wants the home invasion case reopened and said the wrongly convicted man wanted to clear his name.

Mr Cook said he spoke with the man on Wednesday and offered him an apology on behalf of the state.


Lisa Oldfield has joined a chorus of voices lambasting Yassmin Abdel-Magied for her highly political Anzac Day post

The Real Housewives of Sydney star added her two cents to the debate that has swept the nation since Abdel-Magied posted a comment to Facebook on Tuesday.

The Muslim author and activist caused a national stir when she suggested Australians should spare a thought for those on Manus Island and in Syria instead of Anzacs.

In the post, the 26-year-old author and activist wrote: "Lest We Forget (Manus.Nauru. Syria. Palestine)".

She apologised for comments in a follow up post after the original one was deleted. "It was brought to my attention that my last post was disrespectful, and for that, I apologise unreservedly," she wrote.

During a panel discussion on Sky News overnight, Ms Oldfield appeared to sympathise with Abdel-Magied before ultimately unleashing on her. "At the end of the day I don't like what she said, I was offended by what she said," Ms Oldfield, the wife of former One Nation co-founder David Oldfield, said.

"But I still support her right to freedom of speech and my right to say Lest We Forget Yassmin that you are brown, you are Muslim and you are a girl and that's the only reason you have a job at the ABC."

Ms Oldfield is not the first to vent their anger at the situation, with Broadcaster Alan Jones describing Abdel-Magied as "un-Australian".

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has also joined in the tirade, demanding Abdel-Magied be sacked. "After a very special day yesterday I am disgusted to actually hear about Yassmin Abdel-Magied's comments on social media," Ms Hanson said in a Facebook video.

"I just think she has no understanding, she has no idea, yet the federal government's paying her to travel the world to promote her book and she's been on the Australian 100-year commemoration to represent the youth, she wouldn't have a clue.”

In the days since Abdel-Magied's post, a number of petitions have popped up online calling for the presenter to be fired. One petition has more than 20,000 supporters.

Meanwhile, outspoken feminist author Clementine Ford has thrown her support behind the young presenter by starting an online petition defending the presenter against "d---heads".

"Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a deadset legend. She puts herself on the line and cops a lot of crap from racist bigots and Strayan dickheads," she said. "Yassmin does not deserve this hatred. Yes, this is a meaningless petition - but so is the one circulating demanding the ABC fire her."

The ABC has backed Abdel-Magied saying it would not take any action against the "part-time presenter". "Her views and opinions in that capacity are her own and do not represent those of the ABC," the broadcaster said in a statement.

Abdel-Magied is not shy of controversy; in February this year she engaged in a screaming row with Senator Jacqui Lambie on Q&A.

During the verbal stoush Abdel-Magied said Islam was a feminist religion and also appeared to condone Sharia Law.

Abdel-Magied also has alleged links to anti-gay and anti-women group Hizb ut-Tahrir, who she made contact with in the wake of her on-air fight with Ms Lambie. The Australian claims Abdel-Magied made contact with the group for advice on how she could have presented her argument on the panel show.

Last month, Abdel-Magied arbitrated a show on SBS called ‘The Truth About Racism’ which featured an African, Asian, Aboriginal, Muslim and a white Australian male with far right views – Nick Folkes.

But the show was quickly denounced by Mr Folkes who told The Australian he was “stitched up” and the show was really about proving the white guy to be a racist.
Like the ABC, the SBS stood by Abdel-Magied, saying Mr Folkes was given ample time to air his opinions.


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, April 27, 2017

Property Council urges more urban land, low-deposit loans in housing affordability plan

Nobody can repeal the law of supply and demand so what the rising prices clearly reveal is that supply is not keeping up with demand. And that is so.  With Australia taking in a couple of hundred thousand immigrants in every year, something like a couple of hundred thousand new houses need to be built.  Because of the slowness of local councils to release more building land, that is not happening.  Councils are the choke point.  But how anybody can squeeze their balls remains to be seen

The lobby group representing property developers has unveiled a "10-point plan" to boost housing affordability in Australia's major cities, urging an increase in the availability of urban land, a system of low-deposit home loans and incentives for older home owners to downsize.

The Property Council, which has been a high-profile opponent of Labor's proposals to curb negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions, has released its plan two weeks out from the government's budget, which will outline a suite of housing affordability measures.

Released on Wednesday, their plan reiterates the council's opposition to negative gearing reform, and calls for an increase in housing "supply, diversity and choice" through a strategy that increases the amount of land for new homes supported by infrastructure in capital cities.

It wants charges and "red tape" to be reduced to make it cheaper for property developers to build, incentives for states to reform competition policy, risk-assessed low-deposit loans for owner-occupiers, the creation of "built to rent" housing, and the phasing out of stamp duty.

The low-deposit loan scheme would be based on Western Australia's Keystart program, which has been accessed by 85,000 people and results in fewer defaults than the market average, according to the Property Council.

The council also suggests boosting the supply of fit-for-purpose retirement living, and protecting some surplus cash from the pension-assets test.

Winding back stamp duty, the group said, would make the tax system more efficient and increase economic growth.

Average dwelling prices were 6.9 times average wages in 2016, up from 4.3 times average wages 15 years ago. In 2001, it took 85.9 per cent of the average household income to pay for a home deposit. This rose to 138.9 per cent in 2016.

"For 20 years we have had a logjam of costly regulation, poor planning decisions and excessive taxation across all levels of government. This has driven up construction costs, impeded supply, and resulted in the dramatic increase in house prices in our major cities," Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said.

"Our plan seeks to support housing construction, broaden housing choice, reduce unnecessary construction costs, incentivises the states to undertake planning reform, induce institutional investment in new rental stock, and help first home buyers bridge the deposit gap."

The report outlines lagging supply, strong population growth, monetary policy, strong employment levels, low inflation, low interest rates and increased competition in the mortgage market as drivers of house prices.

Mr Morrison said negative gearing underpins the rental market and warned the government to "tread carefully otherwise it runs the risk of undermining the flow of jobs and investment throughout the economy".


Vic Police have 'lost the plot': Glare

Former police commissioner Kel Glare says he's prepared to be labelled "mongrel of the month" by saying Victoria Police has "lost the plot" when it comes to crime prevention.

Mr Glare says the "crime tsunami" hitting Victoria wouldn't have happened under his watch.

"When it comes down to it, we need a radical change from what we are seeing now," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"Victoria Police has withdrawn most or if not all of their crime preventative measures."

The Community Advocacy Alliance, which Mr Glare heads, released its Plan 100 for law and order in the Victoria on Wednesday with the backing of opposition leader Matthew Guy.

It focuses on crime prevention through programs for youth and making the victim the centre of the justice system.

Mr Glare was the state's chief commissioner from 1987 to 1992.


ABC presenter savaged for 'disrespecting Anzacs'

ABC presenter Yassmin Abdel-Magied has been savaged on social media after suggesting Australians should spare a thought for those on Manus Island and in Syria instead of the Anzacs.

The host of the ABC 24's Australia Wide program fell afoul of Facebook users today when she posted "Lest We Forget (Manus.Nauru. Syria. Palestine)".

She was forced to delete the post after receiving a barrage of comments from irate social users. "It was brought to my attention that my last post was disrespectful, and for that, I apologise unreservedly," she wrote in a follow up post.

While the 26-year-old author may have hoped her apology would be taken for what it was, Abdel-Magied found herself the target of venomous, racist abuse.  "You disgusting piece of low life. Disrespecting our country's veterans. You aren't Australian. Go to hell," one incensed Facebook user wrote.  "Too late now you best leave you are hated in this country, your ISIS brothers will take really good care of you," another wrote.

While another wrote: "You are utter filth. I hope you get sacked for your disgraceful ignorance and insolence. Pig!"

Ms Abdel-Magied is not shy of controversy; in February this year she was engaged in a screaming row with Senator Jacqui Lambie on Q&A. The verbal stoush was triggered by a debate on US President Donald Trump's proposed Muslim ban.


Family First takeover: Cory Bernardi looks for more mergers after 'great day for conservatives'

Breakaway senator Cory Bernardi says he will pursue mergers with other conservative parties and seek more defections from the Liberal Party after Family First folded its operations into his nascent Australian Conservatives party.

Family First, a socially and economically conservative party launched in 2001, will no longer exist from Wednesday and its two South Australian MPs will switch to serve under the Australian Conservatives banner.

With Senator Bernardi set to gain thousands of members, finances and two state MPs, how will the new conservative marriage between him and Family First impact the federal political landscape?

The merger will give Senator Bernardi access to Family First's party infrastructure - including mailing lists - but will not boost his party's representation in the Senate.

While welcoming the merger, Family First senator-elect Lucy Gichuhi said she planned to serve as an independent rather than join forces with Senator Bernardi.

Senator-elect Lucy Gichuhi with former Family First senator Bob Day during last year's election campaign.
Senator-elect Lucy Gichuhi with former Family First senator Bob Day during last year's election campaign. Photo: Facebook

"While I respect the decision of Family First to join with Australian Conservatives, given the circumstances and the time frames, I have not been able to determine if joining this new entity is the best way for me to serve the people of South Australia," Ms Gichuhi said in a statement.

"It is on that basis that I have decided to serve as an independent senator for the time being."

Ms Gichuhi will be sworn into the Senate next month after the High Court decided Family First senator Bob Day's election was invalid because he had an indirect pecuniary interest with the Commonwealth.

Mr Day, who has bankrolled Family First in recent years, gave a curt "no comment" when asked by Fairfax Media on Wednesday whether he supported the merger.

Speaking at a press conference in Adelaide, Senator Bernardi said: "I hope it's not the last amalgamation. "I welcome minor parties, I welcome former colleagues [and] existing colleagues, who want to be part of a team that really, genuinely wants to make politics different."

Senator Bernardi said the two parties were a "natural fit" and the merger would strengthen the conservative movement across Australia. He wished Ms Gichuhi well with her career.

South Australian Family First leader Dennis Hood said it was a "great day for Family First and we believe it is a great day for those on the conservative side of politics in Australia". "Finally, those on the conservative side of politics will have a united conservative voice in which to support and park their vote," he said. "We are excited about the prospect that holds."

Mr Hood said all of Family First's state branches and its federal executives agreed to join forces with the Australian Conservatives. "This is a unanimous decision," he said. "There has been no dissension within the Family First party at all."


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, April 26, 2017

Immigrants advance Australian economy, but what happens if we 'close the door?'

The discussion below has some reasonable points but it comes from the Left-leaning ABC so commits the usual Leftist error of treating all immigrants as the same.  There has long been a broad consensus that Australia should prioritize immigrants with useful skills and that implies that all immigrants are NOT the same.  So the Left are being deliberately obtuse about this.  The truth is that immigrants from both ends of the Eurasian continent  -- Europe and East Asia -- have indeed assimilated well and made a great contribution to the development of Australia.  But that is NOT so of immigrants from the Middle East and other Muslim lands.  So to apply the lessons from past immigration to the inflow we are getting those days is totally invalid and deceptive.  Muslim and African immigrants are largely parasitic and are not even grateful for their reception.

And the claim that hostility to Muslims is our fault and not theirs rests not only on a refusal to look at Muslim behaviour but also rests on an accusation that Australians have always been hostile to immigrants.  That is nonsense. 

The example that always comes to my mind concerns the government of NSW a few years back.  Under the Iemma administration an Italian Premier was assisted in government by a Greek finance minister and several other Italians. NSW was run by what some would once have called "wogs" with hardly any consciousness of that.  All the politicians concerned were born in Australia of immigrant parents and were freely elected by the people of NSW to run Australia's most populous State.  Where did the racism go in that?

There will always be racists in every community but to point to a few isolated examples of it does not establish a generalization.  My example of what millions of NSW people did with their vote does, however, tell you much more about the attitudes of Australians in general

For a nation built mostly on newly-arrived immigrants, it's an issue guaranteed to inflame heated and at times vicious debate.

Outright distrust and opposition to anything "foreign" was part of our social fabric until 70 years ago, and at one stage was enshrined in our political system via The White Australia policy.

Then, the post war immigration boom saw waves of European refugees flee their war-torn homelands in search of a better life.

Those new arrivals changed Australia forever, overwhelmingly for the better, as did the influx of Asian immigrants fleeing conflict in the 1970s.

But despite the proclamations from our leaders that we are a tolerant mob who embrace cultural diversity, the deep-seated distrust among established Australians never really evaporated, as evidenced by the animosity towards new arrivals from the Middle East.

So inflamed are passions, it is nigh on impossible to have a sensible debate over levels of immigration whether it be in regards to the continent's environmental sensitivities or on the impact on the economy.

Those who raise legitimate concerns often are accused of racism.

That's understandable given environmental protection and the economy have become convenient smokescreens for those who harbour deep prejudices.

From around 90,000 at the turn of the century, our annual intake of immigrants has risen to more than 200,000 a year.

That's put a rocket under our population growth rate, which has surged to 1.8 per cent over the past 15 years, way above the OECD average of 0.7 per cent.

From a humanitarian perspective, it's allowed us to strut the world stage from the vantage of the high moral ground.

However, from an economic viewpoint, it's delivered our leaders a convenient buffer with which to hide a multitude of fiscal sins and allowed them to shirk making tough decisions.

How immigration boosts GDP

There's a fairly simple relationship between immigration and economic growth. The more people you have, the bigger your economy. More people buy more goods and services.

There's nothing inherently wrong with boosting your growth through immigration.

But the crime committed by Australian governments of all persuasions in the past 20 years is that, while they've been happy to accept the kudos for economic growth, they've been totally unwilling to spend the necessary cash to ensure the economy can cope with such a dramatic influx of new arrivals.

In essence, they've cooked the books.

As a result, many of our major cities are choking. Our infrastructure is obsolete. Utilities are struggling. That, in turn, has adversely affected our productivity and led to further distortions in how our wealth is distributed.

The laughable illusion of our economic miracle — the nation that fuels and feeds the world — is highlighted by looking just one small step beyond the raw GDP data.

If you simply divide our economic growth performance by the number of Australians, our growth doesn't look anywhere near as flash.

On an annualised basis, our per capita GDP growth has never been much above 2 per cent since the last recession 25 years ago, and that was for just a few years around the new millennium.

Most of the time it's been around 1.5 per cent and more recently 1 per cent. That's tepid at best.

That's the reason why, in recent years, it often has felt like a recession. In fact, during 2009, the economy was in reverse when measured in per capita growth terms.

Once you spread the extra wealth around all those extra people, we've been barely marking time. So much for the boom.

More people, less pay, same old infrastructure

Most new arrivals head to where they can find work. That's meant most immigrants have headed towards the biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.

Since around 2003, Melbourne's population has swelled by almost 1 million, with Sydney not far behind.

All those extra people have to live somewhere and that puts pressure on housing.

Despite the common misconception peddled by shock jocks that new immigrants flock here for social security benefits, most in fact are desperate for work. That puts pressure on wages.

It is little surprise then that in the past decade, housing prices, particularly in the major centres have soared while wages growth now is the slowest since the last recession.

It's never a simple, linear argument. Immigrants are amazingly adept at starting their own businesses, thereby creating employment.

And record low interest rates combined with tax incentives that have transformed housing into a preferred investment vehicle have been the primary drivers in inflating the east coast housing bubble.

But there's no denying the failure of successive governments to develop infrastructure that would have facilitated new housing, thereby helping alleviate the dangerous east coast property bubble, and maintained productivity.

Immigration crackdown — Where now for growth?

In the past week, there has been a clear shift in Federal Government thinking. The scaling back of 457 visas — which undoubtedly have been rorted — and the tougher approach to citizenship appear to herald a new approach to immigration.

Once again though, the motivation appears to be more on pandering to electoral and party room prejudice than being sourced in sound economics or environmental grounds.

Political posturing aside, it would appear Canberra unwittingly has exposed itself to a far greater problem.

Without the immigration sugar hit, what will drive the Australian economy into the future?

Most of our economic growth forecasts have been based on population growth of around 400,000 a year; almost a new city.

With the mines now running at peak capacity, resource prices in decline and the east coast housing boom on its final doomed run, a pull back on immigration — the secret weapon in our economic miracle — will leave our leaders with nowhere to hide.

To further complicate matters, if productivity is to be lifted, a major infrastructure spend is required; the money that should have been spent all along to cope with the immigration intake.

Perhaps they will be forced to confront serious fiscal issues if they truly want to bring the budget deficit back under control instead of simply relying on endless numbers of new arrivals to inflate the economy and the tax base.

Maybe they will get serious about a resources rent tax, rather than idly standing by and watching the nation's riches hauled off for little return.

Tax cuts for foreign corporations may take a back seat to enforcing the law on company tax. And they might even question whether we can afford the enormous tax breaks on superannuation and property investment for the wealthy.

Maybe. But it will probably take a recession to do it.


A French lesson for Australia

The comparisons made by Robert Gottliebsen below are a little strained but I see some truth in them

Now for a different twist on the French Presidential election.

In a strange way, many of the problems facing France are incredibly similar to those facing Australia. On the economic front (aside from refugees and terror) in the looming Presidential run off, France is being given two very different solutions to its version of the problems. Down the track we will face similar choices, so let’s compare our two nations.

Both of us find that our employment creating industries suffer from a high currency. France has 10 per cent unemployment. We are at 6 per cent, mainly thanks to our building industry and housing boom. If this sector falters, we will find ourselves in an unemployment situation that’s not much different from France.

The French currency is high because it uses the euro rather than the franc, and the euro is boosted by the inclusion of Germany.

Our currency is high because of our iron ore and LNG exports, which are commodities produced by industries that are not big labour employers and, in the case of LNG, it is damaging the economics of our energy-reliant labour-employing industries.

Both of us have labour laws that restrict employment and are not consistent with the currency. The French situation is far worse than Australia but, as so often happens in France, the French have found ways to mitigate the problem.

They try to restrict the size of their businesses to less than 50 people (and sometimes even lower) to avoid the worst of the labour laws and that creates entrepreneurialism.

Here in Australia we mitigated the shift allowance and penalty rate part of our labour problem by large corporate deals with the unions which covered a huge portion of the workforce, and another big slab was covered by the use of the cash economy.

Although our official penalty rates were high, in reality relatively few paid them. Fair Work Australia tried to bring the official penalty rates closer to what people were actually being paid but were ambushed by Opposition leader Bill Shorten and the Prime Minister did not know how to bring the debate back to reality.

As a result, a large number of large and small enterprises, particularly large retailers and small cafes, may end up increasing their weekend/public holiday shift allowances to the official rate which will make the problem a great deal worse. We are heading in the French direction.

Both our countries have a serious Muslim terror problem although the French one much is worse than ours.

Both countries have horrific debt, although ours comes via the banking system rather than the government.

Both countries are becoming sick of the existing political parties that have not been able to grasp the state and national problems.

The French have a presidential system which has enabled them to easily dump both traditional parties in the latest election in favour of people outside the traditional political arena — exactly what the Americans have done when confronted with their version of the same problem.

If the next French president is Emmanuel Macron, then he is promising to reduce unemployment from ten to seven per cent by changing the labour laws. He will slash the public service to reduce the deficit. I wish him luck. The unions in France are ferocious.

The other candidate Marine Le Pen is planning to take the French out of the euro, which means the labour problem will be solved via the currency. If Macron wins and he fails to change the labour laws and/or his measures do not reduce unemployment, then there will be no alternative for France but to leave the euro and adopt a version of the Marine Le Pen solution.

The French are being given a real choice as to which solution they pick.

In Australia, an effective leader has not yet emerged from the left or right in the conventional parties. If a leader willing to tackle the issues does not emerge from one of the conventional parties, then voters may well go elsewhere as France has done.


Fairy tale revisionism

Disrespect for children's traditional fairy stories will always grate on those of us who grew up with them and enjoyed them but there is a defence of that disrespect below that does have something in it.  It is an attempt to attack sentiment with logic, however, so will not do much to shift attitudes. That there are important life lessons embedded in the stories will however always be their strongest defence.  For children they a way of learning important lessons about reality in an enjoyable way

This year, the Respectful Relationships curriculum was rolled out in Victorian schools. As part of it, children are taught to think critically about traditional fairy tales by looking at the gender roles they contain.

But not everyone likes the idea. When we asked our readers to give their thoughts, many felt that fairy tales should be left alone:

    "They are cliched romantic tales for children, meant to be taken as fantasy."

    "If we start mucking around and changing stories to make them politically correct we will destroy the joy of reading."

    "PC gone mad. How bout the Government concentrate on real things, not damn fairy tales."

    "Give us a break. They are beautiful fairy tales. Let kids be kids and have their childhood memories."

What exactly does the Respectful Relationships curriculum teach?

The curriculum was devised to address gender-based violence.   According to the teaching materials, gender norms "influence beliefs about how girls and boys should act, speak, dress and express themselves", and are often "reinforced through popular television shows and story books".

    "Analyses of popular books have found that central characters are more likely to be male, female characters are more often in nurturing roles, and occupations are gender stereotyped," the teaching materials state.

To get primary school children thinking about this, the program gets them to look at traditional fairy tales and identify their "gendered messages".

Students are asked to take on the role of a "fairy tale detective" and consider, for instance, what would happen if the characters swapped roles — "if the girl had the sword and the boy waited for her to rescue him".

They are then asked to look at more modern fairy tales to see how they compare.

If you're curious, the teaching resources are all available online.

Here are just a few sexist tropes as identified by Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a social studies expert at the University of Melbourne:

    women being saved by men

    women's value being attached to how beautiful they are

    old women being witches

"Fairytales have long been in the crosshairs of feminists who have considered the presentations to reiterate antiquated stereotypes," Dr Rosewarne said.

Is this teaching program an example of political correctness?

Dr Rosewarne doesn't think so. "I see this as being about a culture that has become savvy about identifying where stifling gender roles come from and how they get reinforced by our culture," she said.     "It's about thinking critically about material we too often dismiss as 'just entertainment' or 'just children's stories'."

Dr Matthew Beard, from the Ethics Centre, says there's a difference between sanitising texts and critically looking at them. "If children are being told, 'This story is bad, stop enjoying it,' then that's a problem, there's a genuine reason why parents would be concerned," he said.

But he says simply thinking critically about a story doesn't stop you from enjoying it.  "We can revel in the excitement of a prince that's fighting a dragon but also think, 'Hmm, I wonder why it had to be a man?'," he said. "I don't think criticism or reflection is the enemy of entertainment."

Are we breaking with tradition?

Dr Rosewarne says no, because what we think of as "traditional" fairy tales are actually recent inventions anyway.  "The fairy tales so common in storybooks and cartoons are actually already heavily sanitised versions of the stories original circulated by the Grimm brothers," she said.

Dr Beard also notes that the nastier aspects of fairy tales have already been washed out.   "The little mermaid in the Hans Christian Andersen version kills herself at the end because she doesn't actually find true love," he said.

A couple years ago, we took a closer look at the surprisingly dark and gruesome stories behind Disney's fairy tales.

Aren't fairy tales supposed to be all about teaching values in the first place?  Dr Beard says they are, and that looking at gender stereotypes adds another dimension to this. "Fairy stories have always been about teaching moral lessons, that's the entire purpose of these morality tales," he said.

"They're meant to teach about courage, they're meant to teach about humility, or patience."

Dr Rosewarne says fairy tales and folk stories should adapt over time to reflect changes in our culture.  "Holding tight to some notion of 'tradition' isn't about authenticity but rather about rigid adherence to conservative values that have, historically, limited women," she said.

She points to Frozen and Tangled as examples of modern fairy tales that challenged gender stereotypes and were still popular with children.


Q&A: Citizenship, visa changes dominate program forcing Alex Hawke to defend policies

Changes to Australia's 457 visas and citizenship tests dominated Q&A on Monday night, with Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke spending most of the program defending the Government's policies.

Last week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the Government would abolish the 457 visa, replacing it with two new visas, and introduce sweeping changes to the nation's citizenship laws, including a tougher citizenship test.

On Q&A immigration lawyer Sarah Thapa challenged Mr Hawke to justify what she said was a "sudden" decision to scrap hundreds of occupations allowed under current visas.

"Many of these occupations are relied upon by my clients in the [information and communication technology], medical research and renewable energy sector," she said.

But Mr Hawke said the overhaul had faced "extensive public reviews" and was about "Australians getting access to the Australian labour market first".

"When you look at the kinds of occupations that are there, when you look at the requirements that are there, too many Australians are being overlooked for jobs and too many Australians in those fields that have been mentioned right there haven't been offered those jobs, whether they are new graduates out of our universities or if they are people older in life that get redundant and are replaced," he said.

He said would have been unwise to announce the changes ahead of time because it could have led to a rush on positions from foreign job seekers.

Questions over racism, Islamophobia

Audience member David Butt opened his question with a line from the film, The Big Short:

"I have a feeling in a few years people are going to be doing what they always do when the economy tanks — they will be blaming immigrants and poor people." He asked if last week's announcements were the Government's first step in pointing the finger of blame at immigrants.

But Mr Hawke rejected the suggestion. "It is not about any ethnicity or any immigrant," he said.  "These are temporary visas. These have never been about permanent visas. This is a temporary skill shortage program.

"There are pathways to permanent residency that have been attached to it [to recognise that] when people come and work for substantial periods of time they should be able to have a pathway to permanent residency, but the changes that I am making are non-discriminatory across the board."

Labor spokesman for business Tony Burke, who was also on the panel, said he was yet to see the detail of the changes but he questioned their motivation and highlighted what he said was a focus on immigrants.

He also questioned how citizenship test changes could improve Australia's national security.

"How on Earth can it be we are making a decision about whether or not somebody should be in Australia as a citizen when the only people we are talking about have already decided to be permanent resident?" he said.

"Of course it is not about national security."

"It [the overhaul] might still be sensible and there might still be aspects that are sensible, but the rhetoric claiming somehow people who are permanent residents and they've had their security checks and we have decided that are fine to live here but if we make them citizens and they are suddenly dangerous, it is absurd."

Migrants 'work hard to grow'

Debate continued with fellow panellists Senator Derryn Hinch and author and prominent feminist Germaine Greer before Zimbabwean activist and social entrepreneur Chido Govera was asked for her outsider's view.

She admitted she found it surprising Australia was having what appeared to be an insular debate in an increasingly global world.

Ms Govera said she also feared the changes were motivated by xenophobia.

"It feels like it is all geared to isolate a certain group of people from coming to Australia and that if they come, there was a mention they come to work in rural Australia and they should not be in the city.

"So they come from other countries and then we keep them in a small spot where they cannot grow. They stay in the rural areas and they cannot come into the city.

"That is a bit difficult to digest for me, knowing that this is maybe part of my people who are being spoken about in this way, when they work very hard to be in a space where they can also grow, but there is no chance for that. "Rules that are made like this are a little bit difficult because, again, it will lead us to the whole cycle of blaming, so it is blaming the immigrants, blaming the poor people.


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, April 25, 2017

Police misbehaviour in Australia

Most times that I see them, I put up here reports of police misbehaviour.  As well as posting them here, I have a separate site that records reports about police only.  I have recently brought it up to date and the overwhelming feeling I got from it was shock about how frequent such behaviors are.  For anybody with concerns about the police, it could be a useful resource

Holocaust denial materials prompt concerns after distribution at Australian universities

Posters questioning the historical accuracy of the Holocaust have sparked concerns among students at the Australian National University (ANU) and at least two other universities where they were distributed.

On Friday students found flyers and posters at the ANU campus that give support to the views of controversial British writer David Irving, who has questioned the overwhelming body of evidence supporting the existence of the Holocaust.

The materials point to a website that includes questions about whether gas chambers existed at concentration camps.

ANU Students Association president James Connolly said the posters made reference to the new movie Denial, which dramatized a court case involving Mr Irving.

"There were a series of flyers and posters that had been found around the gym ... that challenged the historical authenticity of the Holocaust," Mr Connolly said.

"The impetus for the posters had come from a new film called Denial — the subject of the film was about Holocaust denial.

"It was challenging whether that film had resolved the matter of whether the Holocaust had actually happened."

Mr Connolly said it was not clear who distributed the flyers, but they were similar to ones that appeared on campus last year.

University 'appalled' by flyers

Mr Connolly said the materials were taken down immediately. "I was aware that it had happened in Victorian Universities," he said. "Holocaust denial is hate speech — it's usually peddling an agenda of anti-Semitism and it really has no place in an environment which values tolerance and inclusion."

A statement from the university also condemned the materials. "The University is appalled by the distribution of derogatory material on campus," it said. "The Vice-Chancellor has made it clear that the distribution of derogatory and inappropriate material is completely unacceptable. "ANU Security removed the fliers, and is reviewing CCTV footage to identify the perpetrators."

Melbourne University confirmed similar flyers were also distributed on its campus two weeks ago. A small number of flyers were also found in a carpark at Monash University. Police were notified of both incidents in Victoria.


Bob Katter 'doesn't want Muslims coming to Australia'

Queensland MP Bob Katter has been accused of racism after he was filmed admitting he opposed Muslim immigration to Australia.

The video, filmed in a New South Wales pub, shows a man quizzing the leader of Bob Katter’s Australia Party on his stance towards Muslims. “You don’t like much, do you really?” the man asks.

“We’re nice to you white blokes, I think we are,” Mr Katter replies.

The man then demands to know whether the Federal Member for Kennedy is “in bed with One Nation”.

“I don’t want any Muslims coming here,” Mr Katter says, before backtracking. “I shouldn’t say that.”

“You don’t want any of them coming here at all – do you, Bob Katter?” the man taunts.

Mr Katter then walks away.

Mr Katter today responded to the video taking aim at the media storm. "There is something wrong in the media when you can address this issue formally and intelligently in the Parliament with reason and you get absolutely nothing; and some loud mouth Bludgerigar  puts a video out and we get nation-wide publicity.  I’ll be writing Pauncho a letter of thanks," he said.

"We will say again, and again, bring in the tormented, not the tormentors.

"As I’ve said on the public record many times, it is imperative the people from the Middle East and North Africa are barred from entering Australia. The time is long overdue to stop people from terrorist regions coming to Australia," Mr Katter said.

"Why we say the Middle East and North Africa, the case cannot be made against Albania, Indonesia or Malaysia – they are not terrorist countries, even though they are Muslim countries.

"The exception of course are the persecuted minorities... We must, and please god will always, welcome them."

The politician is the grandson of a Lebanese migrant widely known for his socially conservative views.

In August last year, Mr Katter told Sky News the “time has come” to stop immigration from the Middle East and North Africa, citing terrorism fears and alleged migrant reliance on welfare.

In 2011, Mr Katter also dismissed same-sex marriage as something that deserved "to be laughed at and ridiculed".


Australia Institute examines Pauline Hanson's One Nation's performance in WA

Although it was widely written off as an embarrassing failure, One Nation's campaign in the Western Australia election was a considerable victory in which the party positioned itself to seize long-term balance of power in the federal senate, according to a new analysis.

In the March state election, One Nation secured three upper house seats, but failed to secure any in the lower house, as had been widely expected. The final days of the campaign were derailed by the resignation of some of its candidates and a disastrous interview in which Ms Hanson question the safety of vaccinations.

Many commentators suggested that it was the high tide mark for One Nation's electoral surge over recent years.

But a research paper to be published by the progressive think tank The Australia Institute finds that One Nation's result has been broadly misunderstood and the party underestimated.

In the election, One Nation candidates received 65,192 of a total of 1,321,640 valid first preference votes cast in Legislative Assembly districts, or 4.86 per cent. This was the figure focused on by most analysts after the election.

But in the paper, entitled One Nation in Western Australia: Epic fail or huge win?, Philip Dorling writes that many commentators failed to note that One Nation had run candidates in just 35 of the state's 59 lower house seats. In the seats it contested, the party won 8.47 per cent of first preference votes and in 10 electorates it won more than 10 per cent. This is the figure analysts should have emphasised, says Dorling.

The perception that the party lost ground in the election is a result of its failure to manage expectations, he told Fairfax Media.

Dorling notes that, when this 8.47 per cent figure is compared with One Nation's result in the 2016 federal election, the party has effectively doubled its vote in just seven months.

"Doubling of support and the election of three new parliamentary representatives (compared with zero representation previously) can hardly be described as a 'disaster' or an 'epic fail'."

If One Nation maintains support at this level, Dorling argues, it will be in a position to take a Senate seat in WA in the next federal election, when its current WA senator will face the polls again.

"Irrespective of One Nation's performance in other states, this would ensure a One Nation presence of at least two senators in the Senate after 2019. (Senator Hanson was elected in 2016 to a full six-year term until June 30, 2022.) In the event that One Nation's support increases in other states, notably in Queensland and NSW but also elsewhere, the party could anticipate Senate representation of five and possibly six or seven senators between 2019 and 2025."

The WA victory has other national ramifications for One Nation, Dorling notes. "One Nation now has a stronger political machine in Western Australia. The party is registered with an office that has supported a statewide political campaign. Having polled above 4 per cent in all of the upper and lower house seats it contested, the party and its candidates are eligible to claim up to approximately $320,000 in public funding to reimburse campaign expenses," he writes.

"One Nation now has four parliamentary offices in Western Australia (one senator's office and three legislative councillors' offices) with staff, administrative resources and travel entitlements. As a consequence, One Nation in Western Australia will be much better placed to campaign in the next federal election."

Dorling expects the party to perform well during its next electoral test, which will be in its home state of Queensland.

He believes that, far from being a disaster, the WA poll may prove to be a "harbinger to the party's long-term presence on the national political stage with consequent impacts on public policy across the board".


Budget to have another go at dole bludgers

The Turnbull government is going back to basics with its May 9 budget and having another crack at dole bludgers.

After weeks of speculation over what the budget might bring to ease housing affordability pressures, Malcolm Turnbull has attempted to tone down expectations despite a red-hot property market in Sydney and Melbourne.

A new poll has found voters agreeing with the prime minister about housing affordability, saying while it's an important issue it isn't necessarily a top priority.

The government will crack down on people who claim welfare but won't participate in work-for-the-dole schemes, closing a loophole that allows payments to continue despite people refusing interviews or placements.

Employment Minster Michaelia Cash says there is a cohort of people in Australia that actively says no to suitable work

"I think all taxpayers would rightly expect that those who can work should work and our welfare system should be there as a genuine safety net, not as something that people can choose to fund their lifestyle," she told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.

Labor frontbencher Katy Gallagher is a "bit suspicious" when a coalition government attempts to demonise and attack those who rely on welfare.

"We support rigour around people being responsible for the money they receive and actually having to play by the rules. There is no problem with that," she told reporters in Canberra.

But Labor wants to make sure the government isn't being "harsh and unfair" by attacking those who are most vulnerable.

However, Senator Gallagher welcomed a backflip by the government that will enable Australia's most vulnerable people access to legal services under new funding arrangements.

The government will provide $39 million for community legal centres and $16.7 million for indigenous legal services in the budget.

"We're actually announcing this in advance of the budget because we want to send a very clear signal about where the government's priorities lie," Attorney-General George Brandis told reporters in Brisbane.

The coalition has come under sustained fire from Labor, minor parties and community groups for not guaranteeing ongoing funding to the legal services, with previous commitments set to end on July 1.

Senator Gallagher said it was a humiliating about face by Senator Brandis.

"Just eight weeks out from these cuts taking effect, for those who have campaigned against the cuts, the victory is theirs today," she said.

A new survey found a majority (57 per cent) of voters regard Medicare and hospitals as their top priority.

The polling, by JWS Research for the Australian Financial Review, found stimulating economic growth and employment came second on 48 per cent, followed by welfare and social issues on 46 per cent and then housing affordability and funding for education and schools, both on 41 per cent.


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, April 24, 2017

March for Science participants hoping to send strong message to political leaders

I heartily endorse this march.  We do need more science in public life.  More attention to the scientific fact that there is no correspondence between global temperature levels and global CO2 levels would be a start

Thousands of people have rallied across Australia as part of a global movement calling on political leaders to focus more on science.

Crowds gathered in cities and towns including Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Perth, Brisbane and Townsville as part of the inaugural March for Science, which is taking place in 500 locations worldwide.

The movement was started by scientists sceptical of the agenda of US President Donald Trump, but Stuart Khan, one of the organisers of the Sydney march, said it quickly went global.

He said marchers were calling on politicians to take note that the public wanted policy based on fact.

"The gaps that we see between what science tells us and what we actually see being translated into policy is very large, particularly when you look at things like climate change and the Great Barrier Reef," Professor Khan said.

"We're calling on politicians to make laws that are based on evidence that are appropriate for our future … Australians want to understand how science and how evidence is being incorporated into policy.

"Disease, famine, communicable disease, pollution of the ocean, climate change, all of these challenges are addressable by science."

Professor Khan emphasised that the march was not for scientists, but for anyone. "I'm participating as a community member, I'm participating as a dad," he said. "It is very important that the March for Science is a community-led march, it's a statement that is coming from the community.

"It's not led by the academics, it's not led by eminent scientists because it's not about them, it's about the community saying 'This is what is important to us'."

Among the thousands attending the Sydney rally was former Liberal leader John Hewson, who told AM ahead of the march he was concerned about "the lack of evidence being used as the basis of public policy".

"I think science is probably more useful and more relevant to society today than it's probably ever been. But there's been a widening gap between science and the public," he said.

"We need to stop and recognise the significance of science and the importance of funding it properly and using the evidence that it produces as the basis of good public policy."

Scientist and Macquarie University Associate Professor Josh Madin attended the Sydney rally with his young family and said politicians needed to pay attention to scientific evidence.

"We do a lot of work on the Great Barrier Reef and we've seen first hand the devastation up there and I just think there are some decisions being made that don't have the best interests of our children's future in mind," he said.

Among those throwing their support behind the March for Science is Luke Briscoe, chief executive of Indigi Lab, which works to get more recognition for Indigenous science.

Ms Briscoe said Indigenous science, a form of science in its own right, needed to be better understood in Western culture.

"The honeybee dance from where I'm from in Kuku Yalanji country in far north Queensland, that dance talks about how the bees are sustaining our ecologies," he said.

"It's passing on those customs and traditions that our sciences are embedded in and … it's hard to really put value and monetise the importance of that in a Western world."

Mr Briscoe said having Indigneous participation in the decision-making process would be the only way to ensure better recognition of Indigenous science.

"I think it's important that we ensure that Indigenous voices are heard in the science sector and are at the table in decision-making processes for how we roll out science programs," he said.

"In terms of the workforce, making sure that that it's not just a one-way science understanding — it's looking at two ways of learning and two ways of teaching science and practicing science."


US will honour refugee deal with Australia, Vice-President Mike Pence confirms

US Vice-President Mike Pence has reaffirmed that the Trump administration will honour the controversial refugee deal struck with Barack Obama, despite not liking it.

Made in the last days of the Obama administration, the United States agreed to resettle refugees from Manus Island and Nauru, as Australia seeks to close its off-shore detention facilities.

The US Vice-President has arrived in Sydney for talks with Malcolm Turnbull, with growing military tensions on the Korean peninsula expected to dominate his three-day visit to Australia.

In a phone call to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shortly after his election, President Donald Trump referred to it as the "worst deal ever" in a conversation later described as "tense".

Speaking to media following his bilateral meeting with Mr Turnbull in Sydney on Saturday, Mr Pence said the deal would go ahead, despite doubts over what Mr Trump had publicly labelled a "dumb" agreement.

"President Trump has made it clear we will honour the agreement, but it doesn't mean we admire the agreement," he said.

"Frankly looking back at the last administration, the President has never been shy about expressing frustration with other international agreements, most notably the so-called nuclear agreement with Iran.

"Rest assured, as I confirmed today with the Prime Minister, the United States of America will honour the agreement and actually we have initiated the process of fulfilling that agreement, subject to the vetting processes that now apply to all refugees in the United States."

Mr Pence also appeared to confirm Mr Turnbull's role in ensuring the deal would still go ahead under a Trump administration, which was pinpointed as the cause of the now-notorious phone call.

"As this topic came up early in this administration, Prime Minister Turnbull made the case for the agreement with the President and the decision to go forward, I think, can rightly be seen as a reflection of the enormous importance of the historical alliance between the United States and Australia," Mr Pence said.

"And whatever reservations the President may have about the details of agreements reached with the prior administration, we will honour this agreement out of respect for that enormously important alliance."

Neither Mr Pence nor Mr Turnbull would say how many refugees would be resettled, under the agreement.

US Homeland Security officials have travelled to Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea to begin interviews with those who have applied under the deal.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was recently criticised for claiming fears over a five-year-old local boy, who was allegedly led into the Manus Island detention centre, sparked a recent violent outburst at the facility, an account which has been disputed by PNG officials.

The Manus Island facility has been marked for closure in the second half of this year, after the PNG Supreme Court found it to be unconstitutional.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull doubles down on 'Australia first' message

Echoes of Mr Trump

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken to social media to promote his citizenship push and migrant worker crackdown, as the government works on selling its "Australia first" agenda.

It was all rolled out after the Easter long weekend.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has posted this video on Facebook saying his government is standing up for Australian jobs and values.

On Tuesday, Mr Turnbull announced the government would axe the 457 foreign worker visa program, and replace it with two new temporary visas, which would impose tougher qualification tests, while cutting down on the number of occupations open to international workers last week.

He followed that announcement up on Thursday with changes to the citizenship rules, which will see would-be Australians subjected to tougher language and "values-based" tests, and much longer waiting times before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

Now comes the sell, with Mr Turnbull releasing a short video on his Facebook page espousing the benefits of Australian values – and the policy changes – intersected with images of him meeting people on the street, being mobbed by school children, wearing an Akubra and talking to first and new Australians.

Mr Turnbull released the video shortly after his media conference with US Vice-President Mike Pence, who was elected, along with Donald Trump, on an "America First" platform.

"Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world," he said.

"We do not define our national identity by race or religion, but by a commitment to shared Australian values. "Those Australian values define us. Australian values unite us.

"Freedom. Parliamentary democracy. The rule of law. Mutual respect. The equality of men and women and a fair go. The opportunity to get ahead, but lend a hand to those who fall behind.

"Our reforms will put these values at the heart of our citizenship requirements. Membership of our Australian family is a privilege and it should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to integrate and contribute to an even better Australia."

Using the same language he used during the week, Mr Turnbull said the migration law changes would ensure "temporary worker visas do not become passports to jobs that should or could be done by Australians".

"Yes, businesses require access to the skills they need to grow, but Australian workers should always have priority for Australian jobs," he said, against a backdrop of native trees.

"My government is standing up for Australian jobs and Australian values."

When announcing his changes to the citizenship rules earlier in the week, Mr Turnbull appeared to struggle to name the Australian values he said were at the core of the reforms, saying there would be public consultation.

Facing pressure in the polls and within his own government, Mr Turnbull has sought to re-set his government's message in recent months, as it attempts to appeal to voters it lost at the last election to parties such as One Nation.


Symbolic domestic violence 'a blessing'

Peter Kurti

'Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia' provoked controversy recently by giving the go-ahead for Muslim men to strike their wives -- but only in a symbolic way, they insisted. It must be done in a "managed" way with a short stick, a scrap of fabric, or a coiled scarf.

In the course of a panel discussion, two women agreed that discipline was "a beautiful blessing" and sometimes necessary to "promote tranquillity" in the family home. A husband is entitled to discipline a wife, the women said, if she has been disobedient or acted in an immoral way.

Prominent Australian Muslims, including Waleed Aly, condemned the video, as did Muslim MP, Ed Husic, who stated that any form of striking -- "either between husband or wife or anywhere" -- was "not acceptable." The Prophet, they all said, condemned violence.

Australian Muslims are in a tight spot when it comes to the rights of women. Sheik Shady Alsuleiman, a leading Muslim, has asserted the right of a husband to demand sex from his wife. But Yassmin Abdel-Magid, says domestic violence is unacceptable. Which, of course, it is.

Muslim leaders prevaricate whenever Islam rubs up against Western rights, values and laws. Some claim the Qu'ran says one thing, while others deny it and declare that it says another. Multiculturalist policies have inhibited us from judging other cultures. But not all cultures are equal.

This is the social price we are paying for striving to stamp out racism and discrimination. Promoting 'diversity' has long trumped affirming the primacy of our national culture. Now we are remembering that every Australian, regardless of race or creed, has full protection under the law.

Diffidence in the face of the illegal and the unacceptable leads not to liberty, but to tyranny. 


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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Citizenship changes revealed: Fluent English, four years of residency, Australian values

That fluency in English requirement is a bit of a fantasy.  The low-IQ wogs we have been getting lately will simply be unable to do it.  To learn a new language in adulthood is hard for anybody and few can do it.  People from Northern Europe can do it because they learned English throughout their schooldays.  How much English do Afghan goat-herders learn in their childhoods?

Prospective Australian citizens will need to have fluent English, four years of residency, Australian values, and a demonstrated capacity to integrate as part of an overhaul of the citizenship test announced by the Turnbull government this morning.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says there is “no more important title in our democracy than ‘Australian citizen’, and the institution of citizenship must reflect Australian values.

“We’re not defined by race or religion or culture, as many other nations are,” he said. “We’re defined by commitment to common values, political values, the rule of law, democracy, freedom, mutual respect, equality for men and women ... and our citizenship process should reflect that.”

The current system sets a good “character test” which rules out anyone with a conviction of a serious offence. For the first time domestic violence, gang related activity and organised crime associations will be included in more forensic police checks.

A government source claimed that the new test would look more deeply into people’s history for even minor offences which were not consistent with Australian values such as social welfare fraud and abuse.

New questions that would target religious extremism will be designed to demonstrate appreciation of Australian values, with potential questions to include whether the principle of religious freedom allowed for children to marry, genital mutilation, striking a spouse and prohibiting girls from school.

A position paper to be released today and obtained by The Australian cites national security and the global threat of terrorism as factors in the decision to update the Citizenship laws to re-affirm a commitment to democracy and bolstered Australian values.

“Recent terrorist attacks around the world have justifiably caused concern in the Australian community,” it says. “In the face of these threats, there is no better time to reaffirm our steadfast commitment to democracy, opportunity and our shared values.

“The Australian community expects that aspiring citizens demonstrate their allegiance to Australia, their commitment to live in accordance with Australian values and their willingness to integrate into and become contributing members of the Australian community.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the government made no apologies for wanting new Australian citizens to integrate. “We want people to be able to send their kids to school, to take advantage of a great education system,” he said. “We want people to be able to work if they’re of working age and to make sure that if they have a capacity to work, they’re contributing and not leading a life on welfare.

Mr Dutton outlined the four key aspects of the overhaul:

* The current residency requirement to be eligible for citizenship will increase from 12 months to four years;

* Applicants will be required to pass an English language test equivalent to IELTS level 6 equivalent, or a “competent” English language proficiency level;

* The government will make changes to the pledge of Australian citizenship and add questions to the current test aimed at cracking down on inappropriate attitudes on issues such as violence against women, child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, etc;

* Applicants must provide evidence of integration including employment, tax payments and schooling for children;

Mr Dutton said the government would consult around the changes to questions and pledge and the values requirements between now and June 1.

The new requirements will also limit the number of times an applicant can fail the citizenship test to three (at present there is no limit), and introduce an automatic fail for applicants who cheat during the test.

Mr Dutton said the current multiple-choice test was essentially a civics test, that asked questions of people.

“What we’re saying is that we want people to demonstrate the fact that they have, if they’re of working age, that they have worked over that period of four years, that they have sent their children to school,” he said.

“We would ask questions for example, as we’re seeing in Melbourne at the moment, if kids are roaming the street at night as part of gangs in the apex gangs or elsewhere in cities like Melbourne, whether or not that is adopting an Australian value. Clearly it’s not.

The Immigration Minister said he believed there was a deficiency in the way the current test was applied, and said the new test would work alongside current laws to crack down inappropriate conduct.

“For example, a perpetrator of domestic violence,” he said. “My view is that that person shouldn’t become an Australian citizen. We can ask that question but we can also undertake our own checks in relation to police checks or whatever the case might be. So that’s how you can adopt, apply the test.”  Mr Dutton said there were currently criminal background checks for applicants, but the current checks were “clearly insufficient”.

Mr Turnbull conceded that practices such as genital mutilation and forced marriage are already illegal, but said questions on such matters in the new test were necessary to reinforce Australian values.

“Are you proud of our Australian values? Are you a proud Australian? You should stand up for it. You should stand up for those values and that’s what we’re doing,” he told a journalist.

“You see if we believe that respect for women and respect for women and children and saying no to violence against women and children, if we believe that that is an Australian value and it is and every one of you does believe that, then why should that not be made a key part, a fundamental part, a very prominent part, of our process to be an Australian citizen?

“Why should the test simply be a checklist of civic questions, all very important, about the parliament and how many senators there are from each state. These are all important things to know, no doubt, but fundamentally, the values which bind us together are those ones of respect, the rule of law, commitment to freedom, democracy, these are the key elements in our Australian identity and our citizenship should reflect this.”

Mr Turnbull said members of the Labor Party were criticising the proposition that prospective citizens should have competent English.

“Really? Are they serious?” he said. “I mean does anybody doubt that if you want to succeed, if you want to even have a chance of succeeding in Australia, you need to be able to speak English?

“It is the single best thing any person coming to this country can do is learn English and that’s why Peter’s department put such a big effort into it.”

Mr Dutton said people would lie on the new citizenship test in relation to issues such as domestic violence. “I mean they lie now in relation to citizenship tests and in relationship to laws that exist now,” he said. “That is not an argument for us to do nothing in this space.

“Domestic violence is a significant issue in this country, and we shouldn’t tolerate one instance of it, and the fact that somebody might fudge an answer on a test or an application is no argument against us asking people if you want to become an Australian citizen, abide by our laws and our norms.

“If somebody lies in an application, if they are fraudulent in their application for Australian citizenship, there is an existing power under the act in certain circumstances to revoke that citizenship.”

Mr Turnbull said the government would be briefing the Opposition and crossbench about the new laws “today or as soon as possible”, subject to their availaibility.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the new citizenship would ask a series of questions to highlight inappropriate attitudes.

“I don’t think anyone could seriously defend an attitude that says women are not equal to men, or that violence against women is acceptable, so we’re looking to test attitudes to ensure that people who take out Australian citizenship, and it is a privilege to become an Australian citizen, so it has responsibilities and obligations with it, that they are prepared to embrace the values, the laws, the attitudes that we have as a society that’s made us so successful,” Ms Bishop said.


'Don't be scared of being called Islamophobic'

Christian minister calls for a BAN on extremist Muslims coming to Australia - and only those who reject sharia law should be accepted

A Baptist reverend born in Egypt says Australia needs to deport radical Islamists and stop taking in so many fundamentalist Muslims.

While outspoken church leaders are saying conciliatory things about migrants, Sydney minister George Capsis said the large-scale migration of hardline Islamists from the Middle East was a threat to Australian democracy.

He made a clear distinction between Islamist extremists, from places like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, and secular Muslims from Turkey who reject sharia law and fundamentalism.

'We can't have open slather like we used to. We've got to be more discerning,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.

'We mustn't be afraid to be called Islamophobic. We've got to be more careful in our immigration policy.

'If we do not protect the freedoms we have in this country, they'll be eroded.'

Mr Capsis, a minister at Croydon in Sydney's inner west, said Islamist migrant preachers were radicalising the children of migrants and needed to be deported, echoing a call from Adelaide imam Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi.

'We probably should deport some people who preach hate. You hate to do that but you've got to make a stand,' he said.

His call comes only weeks after Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar, who was born in Pakistan, told a forum at Bankstown library, in south-west Sydney, that ex-Muslims deserved capital punishment.

This same Islamist group, which wants a Muslim caliphate based on sharia law, also produced a video last week justifying domestic violence.

Earlier this month, a Christian man claims a group of Muslim teenagers of Middle Eastern appearance ripped off his silver Greek Orthodox necklace during an alleged attack on a Sydney train to Bankstown.

'They ripped the cross off me, threw it to the ground, they said 'f**k Jesus, and then said they said 'Allah' after that,' the man, who chose to remain unnamed, told Daily Mail Australia.

'I thought I was going to die. The next victim might not be so lucky, they might be killed or seriously injured.'

Sydney's west is home to the hardline Sunni Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association, whose preachers have described as sinful attending non-Muslim events, having non-Muslim friends and even using a public urinal.

This fundamentalist group runs the Bukhari House Islamic Bookstore at Auburn, which has been linked to Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old boy who killed accountant Curtis Cheng outside police headquarters at Parramatta in 2015.

Mr Capsis, the 70-year-old son of Greek Orthodox parents who moved to Australia at age four from Egypt, said Islamic fundamentalism had never been a success.

'Unlike Christianity, which has brought prosperity and civilization wherever it is established such as the U.S., the United Kingdom Australia, Islamic fundamentalism takes communities back to the dark ages,' he said.

He added that Islamist fundamentalist migrants, unlike secular Muslims from places like Turkey, had no interest in integrating into Australian society.

'The evidence is pretty clear: the red flag is waving in our faces,' Mr Capsis said. 'None of us want to be vilifying any race of people because every race has its good and its bad but unfortunately as a religion, it's very culturally based. 'Islam is now more culturally political than religious.'

A tipping point with radical Islamism had been reached in Australia, he said, with many people determined not to follow examples set in Europe. 'The tide has turned. We're going to see more Christian leaders come out and make a stand,' he said.

'We've got to protect ourselves. Australian society is not going to tolerate this anymore.'

Mr Capsis has previously spoken out about Muslim attacks on Christians in Sydney.


Peter Dutton signals room to move on work visas for universities

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has signalled he is willing to compromise on the Turnbull government's tough foreign labour regime, assuring universities they won't be hamstrung by new work experience requirements.

Vice-chancellors, academics and the powerful Group of Eight universities were alarmed the Turnbull government's abolition of the 457 visa may prevent them hiring overseas researchers straight out of a PhD program.

Antique dealer, jockey and judge are just some of the occupations now unavailable to foreign workers after the Turnbull government announced the abolition of the 457 visa program.

In a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Go8 chairman Peter Hoj warned the changes could be "extremely damaging" to Australia's reputation for welcoming international academics.

Particular concern surrounded the introduction of a two-year work experience prerequisite for temporary work visas, which universities feared would stop them hiring researchers who had spent their adulthood studying.

A spokeswoman for Mr Dutton told Fairfax Media it was not the government's intention to stop universities bringing talent into the country, and the new rules would be flexible.

"Universities will continue to be able to attract the best and brightest minds from Australia and the world," she said.

"The government recognises that work experience may take different forms for different occupations, such as research and teaching experience accumulated by PhDs.

"The government will work with the university sector to define what constitutes work for this cohort."

Belinda Robinson, chief executive of peak body Universities Australia, welcomed the development and said high-level talks with the government indicated it was prepared to compromise.

The election of Donald Trump as US President, and the fallout from Brexit, have prompted scores of overseas academics to express interest in moving to Australian universities.

Ms Robinson said it was "absolutely crucial" Australia stood ready to exploit "the window of opportunity that we have" to attract new talent.

"We want to encourage them, not deter them," she said.

Sydney University quantum physicist Michael Biercuk, who came to Australia on a 457 visa and has been a vocal critic of the changes, said the newfound flexibility was "a great first step in alleviating our concerns".


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