Tuesday, July 25, 2017

University funding rationalization provokes controversy

Universities have accused the Turnbull government of muddying the waters as it prepares for a fight over higher education funding.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Monday released figures showing what students will pay under planned changes would more closely match the benefits of getting a degree.

The federal government's overhaul of higher education includes increasing student fees by up to $3200 over a four-year degree, cutting university teaching funding by 2.5 per cent in 2018 and 2019, tying a portion of funding to performance measures, and lowering the threshold when student debts must start to be repaid.

Senator Birmingham said the report, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, "injects facts ... into a debate that has at times been dominated by platitudes and sound bites".

It showed about 45 per cent of the benefits from a higher education were private, such as securing a well-paid job.

The government says its planned fee increase will mean students contribute 46 per cent of the cost - up from 42 per cent now - with taxpayers covering the rest.

Senator Birmingham took aim at university groups that supported the coalition's previous proposal for full-fee deregulation but oppose the package now before parliament.

They had "tried to walk both sides of the street in this debate".

The minister characterised the increase in funding to universities since 2009 as "a river of gold".

The group of six Innovative Research Universities disagreed, telling a Senate inquiry on Monday the river of gold was down to more enrolments, not any boost to per-student funding.

"If anyone's being inconsistent here, it's the government that previously embraced the concept we did need more resources," executive director Conor King told a hearing of the inquiry in Melbourne.

"In this (package) it goes down; of course we're opposed."

The Group of Eight - representing the nation's research-intensive universities - said the government's package was not coherent and would leave students paying more for less.

The government had a track record of releasing reports such as the Deloitte research to the media without showing the sector first, chief executive Vicki Thomson said.

"We find we're responding to claims about rivers of gold or vice-chancellors' salaries or surpluses which are muddying the waters when we're wanting to talk about actually what sort of university sector do we actually want in this country," she told the committee.

The Senate inquiry will also hear from the academics union, education department officials, business representatives and higher education experts on Monday and Tuesday.

It's expected to report when parliament resumes in August, clearing the way for the bill to be debated.


Why the ABC is at odds with us

Jennifer Oriel

If the ABC were audited for diversity, the report might read something like as follows: “Evidence suggests that the ABC’s organisational culture ­reflects structural discrimination. The staff profile is unrepresentative and produces marginalisation of outsiders or ‘others’. This marginalisation persists due to ­apparent discrimination in recruit­ment and promotion practices. As a consequence, the ABC’s program content reflects bias that reinforces the privilege of insiders while stereotyping and demonising those excluded from the existing power structure. ­Cultural change is required to transform the ABC from an unrepresentative public institution to an organisation that puts the public good ahead of in-group power and privilege.”

From my early years in the ­university sector, I worked for various equal opportunity and anti-­discrimination units. As a part of that work, I conducted ­organisational audits of equity and diversity. After several years, I saw that the movement for equity was ­destroying diversity of the kind that matters in education: ­intellectual diversity. Universities ­replaced the West’s civilisational wellspring of freedom of thought and speech, mastered by learning the art of public reason, with the comparatively superficial culture of skin ­diversity.

In the 21st century culture of public education and media, ­diversity is often measured by skin colour or gender. Diversity of thought is devalued, especially in the arts and humanities.

Despite the spread of discrimination and affirmative action policies across the public sector, little attention is paid to intellectual and political diversity. Rather, the ­equity and diversity agenda has come to resemble what former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau considered the Maoist approach. In the book Two Innocents in Red China, he praised Mao Zedong’s approach to racial minority groups because it did “not try to assimilate them but … make them understand the ­blessings of Marxism”. Trudeau pioneered a nationwide policy of ­multi­culturalism. The multi­cultural ideal was a diversity of races united in ideological conformity to ­Marxism.

The diversity agenda sometimes reflects the founding ideal of multicultural policy: a culture where race or gender diversity is encouraged as long as members conform to PC ideology. Islamic activist Linda Sarsour is celebrated as a leader of the US women’s march despite appearing to wish for violence against women who disagree with her. On Twitter, Sarsour wrote of two dissidents: “I wish I could take their vaginas away — they don’t ­deserve to be women.” One of her would-be victims was ­author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who ­suffered ­female genital mutilation as a child. Apparently that wasn’t enough.

The ABC has not admitted to a lack of political diversity in its staff profile or systemic political bias in its programming. Yet the largest survey in 20 years of political attitudes among journalists found that 73.6 per cent of ABC journalists support Labor or the Greens. The Sunshine Coast University ­research also found that 41.2 per cent of ABC staff surveyed voted for the Greens. As Chris Kenny wrote in The Weekend Australian, the “federal vote ceiling” for the Greens is just over 10 per cent. On those figures, the ABC’s staff ­profile is highly unrepresentative of the Australian general public.

The ABC’s political bias seems most apparent in stories related to border security, immigration, iden­tity politics and Islam. Many believe that the ABC pushes the PC party line backing porous borders, minority politics and the ­censorship of dissenters under dis­crimination law while demonising border integrity, conservatism, ­Judeo-Christianity and Western civilisation. In 2014, the broadcaster admitted that its reports that the navy had burned refugees were wrong. A previous audit found bias in ABC reporting on Tamil asylum-seekers.

Last week’s 7.30 was criticised for bias against Christians after presenters inferred that evangelical or conservative Christianity could lead to domestic violence. ABC presenter Leigh Sales said: “We talk about women in Islam but statistically it is evangelical Christian men who attend church sporadically who are the most ­likely to assault their wives.” To my knowledge, there is no cross-country research comparing male violence against women in Islamic and Christian communities. The relevant study cited was by American researcher Steven Tracy.

A series of lies by omission ­resulted in the perception that conservative or evangelical Christianity can lead to domestic violence. For instance, the ABC omitted Tracy’s related finding that: “Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are … the least likely group to ­engage in domestic violence. The ABC also omitted interviews that conflicted with the presenters’ line of commentary.

Ean Higgins ­reported that Sydney’s Anglican Archdeacon for Women Kara Hartley was interviewed for over an hour by Julia Baird. Hartley spoke at length about the church’s positive work in combating domestic violence. Her comments were excluded from the program.

Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop Mark Coleridge responded to an ABC ­request for comments about a ­related essay by Baird and Hayley Gleeson. The ABC reported falsely that he had not responded.

It should go without saying that domestic violence is an abhorrent form of abuse to be condemned without reservation. Research on causation should be funded where preliminary research finds specific attributes correlated with higher rates of abuse. The public often funds such research and should be informed also when certain ­attributes are correlated with lower rates of abuse. The ABC ­neglected its public duty when it omitted the positive work of ­Christian churches in preventing domestic violence and the ­research finding that: “Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are … the least likely group to engage in domestic violence.”

In the coming 7.30 on violence against women in Islam, we might expect the ABC to consider the status of women under sharia. It might look at the prevalence of ­female genital mutilation and child marriage in Islamic countries and communities. It might consider why Islamic states enter the most reservations to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and justify it by appeal to sharia. Alas, we’re more likely to hear yet another version of: “We talk about women in Islam but … ” and find the blame shifted to the standard victims of politically ­correct thought.


NBN installation not up to speed

Kevvy's expensive brainwave is not performing

Martin Lack knows a few things about technology, having spent almost 50 years in the computer industry, first as an installer, then as a technical project manager and finally, before retiring, running the nation’s biggest computer conference company.

He also knows a “disastrous” internet product when he sees one. Living on a 1ha block in Brisbane’s affluent Kenmore Hills, Mr Lack has taken it upon ­himself to represent all 31 households on his street in their ­struggles with the rollout of the National Broadband Network.

The street, with multi-million-dollar homes housing senior ­executives and powerful business people, had pay-TV internet ­cabling — now known as HFC — installed in 2003.

They are being forced across to the NBN, and the six that have done so — connected via a variety of different telco providers — have had a “terrible” experience, Mr Lack says, with faulty connections and speeds below what they were achieving before.

“On Telstra HFC we were consistently getting 115 megabits-per-second download speeds ... during the day now we are consistently getting 94Mbs, but after 6pm things get very ­erratic,” Mr Lack said.

He has a 100MB NBN package provided through Telstra, and has documented speeds his home has been achieving before and after having the NBN installed.

Under the NBN connection his download speed at 9.22pm on June 1 was 22.38Mbs — less than a quarter of the rate he is paying for — while at 9.34pm on June 14 his connection fell to 22Mbs.

A key problem facing the NBN is telco providers of the network — of which there are more than 400 — buy both data from the NBN as well as relatively ­expensive “bandwidth”.

Many providers have failed to buy enough bandwidth — a ­financial decision to cut costs — to ensure speeds don’t plummet when usage rises, such as after 5pm on weekdays.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has announced it will place physical internet speed monitors in 4000 homes nationwide and publish the results to improve transparency in the marketplace.

For its part, the NBN has data detailing how fast each NBN-connected home’s internet should be, but is refusing to ­release it publicly, saying it is a wholesaler and the telcos have the relationship with customers.

Mr Lack said his dealings with Telstra in installing the NBN had been highly unsatisfactory.

A Telstra spokesman said the company had spoken to Mr Lack and had “apologised for issues he’s experienced”.



Three current articles below

Piers Akerman: Climate change is being served up to unsuspecting Australians

IN August 1973, the term Stockholm syndrome was coined after four hostages who had been held in a bank vault during a failed robbery later ­refused to testify against their captor Jan-Erik “Janne” ­Olsson, who, as it happens had been “on leave” from prison when he attempted the heist.

Nils Bejerot, a Swedish criminologist and psychiatrist coined the term.

Brainwashing was not unknown but the manner in which the hostages developed positive feelings toward their captors and negative feelings toward the police or authorities, was something new, Beje-rot guessed. The term took off.

A year after Olsson’s crime (for which he served a term and later committed further crimes), Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publisher William Randolph Hearst, was taken and held hostage by a drug-addled crew of misfits who called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Hearst was filmed denouncing her family as well as the police under her new urban guerilla name, “Tania”, and was later seen working with the SLA to rob banks in San Francisco. She publicly asserted her sympathetic feelings towards the SLA.

However, after arrest following a fiery shootout in 1975, her celebrity lawyer F. Lee Bailey said his client was suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

But, until now, the greatest example of Stockholm syndrome was the mass suicide by followers of American cult leader and Communist Jim Jones, who was the founder and leader of the People’s Temple, another loopy group with strong ties to the Democratic Party and the Californian counter-culture.

Jones took his flock to an old plantation in Guyana but when reports of human rights abuses started emerging, he had his followers drink poison, flavoured by the soft drink mix Kool-Aid.

Among the 918 dead were nearly three hundred children.

Stockholm syndrome plus Kool-Aid was a potent ­combination.

But not as potent as the ­global warming — now called climate change — mixture that is being served up to the Australian public by the Greens, Labor and now the Turnbull faux Liberal government.

Swept along by the global hysteria generated by the UN and a claque of compromised scientists who have been ­exposed as manipulating temperature modelling, Australians are in the process of committing mass suicide as they sip the Kool-Aid sweetener of renewable energy.

South Australia — remember Snowtown, the mysterious disappearance of the Beaumont children, the other creepy instances of unsolved crimes involving children — has long worn a reputation for weird but with its closure of its coal-powered fire stations and its embrace of a huge battery to meet its risky energy supply needs, is leading the way in this suicidal endeavour.

Believe me, the world is not following South Australia or Australia, in this insane folly.

Research from the Global Coal Tracker via the Comstat Data Portal uploaded on January 12, 20017, shows that there were 5973 coal-fired power station units globally. A unit is considered to be one or more boilers where coal is burned to create steam, plus one or more turbine generators which convert the steam’s heat ­energy into electricity of a minimum 30MW (megawatts).

NSW’s Liddell power station, for example, has four 500MW units.

Australia has in total 73 units, according to the Comstat Data, China has 2107.

Germany, where we have seen anti-coal demonstrators rioting in recent days, has 155 units. India, who the Adani mine will service with coal, has 877, and Indonesia has 125, while there 783 operating in the US.

The numbers that really highlight the futility of the South Australian lunacy and the madness of Australia signing up this psychosis are those which reflect where the world is heading — the number of coal-fired power units under construction.

China, for example, has 299 power stations in preparation or under construction. India has 132, Indonesia has 32, the Philippines has 22, Vietnam has 34.

In all, the data lists more than 30 nations actively ­engaged in building 621 new coal-fired power units.

That’s more than 10 times more power than the current 26,783MW produced by ­Australia’s 73 units. South Australia’s moonstruck Premier Jay Weatherill thinks that ­installing Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s battery will solve the problems created by his government’s destruction of its coal-fired power plants and its embrace of erratic wind and solar plants.

It won’t. At best, the big battery may have sufficient reserves to power around 30,000 homes while repairs are made to the network.

There are about 730,000 homes in South Australia, almost all of which lost their power last September. The big battery will be connected to a big wind farm but wind is notoriously variable and South Australia consistently records the highest power prices in the nation ­because of its foolhardy reliance on renewable energy.

In fact, it relies on the coal-fired power plants in the rest of the country for constant power. The federal government knows this, that’s why its building a $50 million generation plant to give the submarine building program a reliable ­energy source.

But for South Australians, and the rest of the nation, the Kool-Aid is kicking in.

Despite the flawed data on which the global warmists rest their case, Australia is still ­closing coal-fired power plants as our economic competitors build their coal-fired capacity.

The big battery may ­become a tourist attraction in South Australia but so, in time, will be the mass grave that ­buries Australia’s industry and the economic fortunes of ­future generations.


No Australian weather site has recorded a daily max of 50° this century


I had Lance staying overnight and this subject came up – me opining after watching too much ABC TV news for years – that some site must have hit the 50° in the last several years. When Lance pointed out on BoM pages that the last 50° plus was in 1998 – I felt somewhat conned.

We searched Google and sure enough we found this article “The proof Australia is getting hotter” – which includes this rather specific claim – Quote “While Western Australia had a cooler than average year in 2016, some parts of the giant state did hit 50 degrees, Australia’s observation of such heat a first in two decades.”

Well if 50 was hit it was not noticed in official BoM daily data. Screen saved. What an amazing lie – “fake news” indeed. Part of my conning was BoM news early in 2013 of the extension of temperature scales up into the 50’s. Oddly this neat animated map from Feb 2016 does not extend to cool temperatures around -10 that are quite common this winter. What other plus 50’s (122F) are there that the BoM should recognize?


Climate change scaremongering based on ‘minuscule’ sea level rises

THIS weekend on Sky News, Connie Fierravanti-Wells, the Liberal minister for International Development and the Pacific, having just returned from a junket handing out vast sums of our money to beautiful Pacific Islands to “combat climate change”, said: “It’s interesting to see that, according to real data, the changes to (sea) levels are actually very, very minuscule.”

That’s right. Very, very minuscule. Or, perhaps what she really meant to say was “non-existent”. The whole climate-change hype about rising sea levels, as being touted by the likes of Al Gore and his new horror flick – er sorry, “documentary” – about climate change, simply doesn’t tally with reality. This has been confirmed by climate scientists themselves, who are sitting around scratching their heads trying to work out why reality doesn’t match their alarmist modelling.

Here’s my bet: these measurements that show “very, very minuscule” rises in sea levels actually mean nothing out of the normal is happening in the oceans.

Climates do change, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We are handing hundreds of millions of dollars (that we don’t actually have, by the way) to our dear Pacific neighbours for no genuine reason at all.

Also last week, another Liberal MP, Sarah Henderson, mocked the idea that elderly Australians would die this winter because they couldn’t afford to pay their heating bills. This came after one of the only sensible Liberal MPs, Craig Kelly, pointed out on Sky News – to me, as it happens – that our renewables energy policy would kill people.

Mr Kelly, who is chairman of the backbench energy committee, caused a furore by stating what is backed up by real data: more people die in Australia during July and August (the coldest months) than at any other time of the year, and that the numbers have been increasing in direct correlation to rising electricity prices. Those price rises, which ultimately stem from both Liberal and Labor policies demonising coal and making it too expensive to be worthwhile, have seen a record number of household disconnections.

Even the ABC admits: “The first detailed analysis of electricity disconnections in four states paints a grim picture of areas under extreme financial stress, with hundreds of households unable to pay their bills.”

What makes the situation even more maddening is that the Government’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, admitted to Parliament that all of Australia’s efforts to combat climate change will, in the end, make virtually no difference to global temperatures. So why on earth do we bother?

Five weeks ago, writing on this page, I upset some people by linking climate change zealotry to deaths.

“It’s not climate change that kills. It’s the zealotry of those who believe they are on a Gaia-given mission to save the planet that is capable of causing economic mayhem, poverty, and even death,” I wrote, using the ghastly Grenfell Tower fire in London as “an extreme, but apt, metaphor for climate change alarmism”.

My point – that thanks to excessive climate change alarmism, energy-efficiency (or “green”) requirements tend to get prioritised over safety measures – has yet to be refuted.

My thinking was also driven by Queensland’s horrendous “pink batts” scandal in 2010. I hardly need remind readers that when Kevin Rudd embarked on a harebrained scheme to “save the planet” by installing pink batts into Australian rooftops, four young men tragically lost their lives.

Recently, The Australian reported that: “The owner of a Sydney-based solar-panel maintenance company said he had seen ‘hundreds’ of fires caused by solar panels in the past five years.”

Mercifully, nobody appears to have yet died from such fires, but that doesn’t make the danger of household solar panels, installed again to “save the planet”, any less real.

John Howard – viewed correctly by many as one of our greatest prime ministers – recently confirmed that he remains sceptical about climate change. Who can blame him?

Mr Kelly’s comments not only had Sarah Henderson mocking him by claiming he was “killing her with his humour”, they had Labor minister Mark Butler calling for his sacking “because of his scaremongering”.

Hang on a tick! Labor, the Greens, and even the bedwetters of the Turnbull Coalition, have been “scaremongering” us silly about climate change for the past decade and longer. The entire energy policy of both major parties is built on unproven, scary predictions of catastrophic rising sea levels, deadly droughts, killer storms, fatal floods, murderous cyclones, dying coral, and a whole host of terrifying disasters, all of which rely on the claim that, at some distant point in the future, “people will die”.

Now we learn that rather than being terrifying, those very same impacts from climate change are, in the minister’s own words, “very, very minuscule”. What a joke.


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

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