Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New funding for the Great Barrier Reef

This is in response to Greenie claims that the GBR is "dying".  The reef has been there for millennia but Greenies talked up some recent changes as if they were catastrophic and final.  As is now clear even to a Greenie, the reef "fixes" itself.  It has rebounded from the small but highly exaggerated degree of damage that it suffered.

Dead coral revives when the stressor -- in this case a temporary sea level fall -- goes away.  To Greenies, of course, coral deaths are caused by Global Warming. 

The new money seems to be reasonably allocated even if the need for it was built on false pretences

THE number of crown-of-thorns starfish control vessels will be more than doubled under a new $60 million Great Barrier Reef funding suite.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will unveil the package in Townsville today as he continues the North Queensland tour that began in Cairns yesterday.

The Federal Government will spend $10.4 million for what Mr Turnbull labelled an “all-out assault on coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish” to increase the number of culling ships from three to eight.

Another $36.6 million will go towards measures to reduce run-off pollution entering the reef, giving farmers incentives to cut down soil erosion, improve nutrient management, and restoring coastal and riparian vegetation in reef catchments.

“This $60 million funding boost over 18 months will set in motion a major research and development program for coral reef restoration,” Mr Turnbull said.

“For the first time The Commonwealth will bring together key agencies to explore ways the reef can best adapt to the changing environment to protect it for decades to come.

“By supporting the development of innovative new reef technologies we are also helping to cement Australia’s international reputation as a strong innovation-driven economy.”

The Australian Institute of Marine Science and CSIRO will share in $6 million to scope and design the program to develop heat-tolerant coralswith a focus on leveraging private investment.

Mr Turnbull said $4.9 million would be spent to boost the number of field officers protecting the reef and the 64,000 jobs that rely on it.

“It is a vibrant, resilient ecosystem and one of the best-managed coral reef ecosystems in the world,” he said.

“While it is facing increasing threats we intend to remain leaders in reef management.

“The specific science focus of the R & D funding is part of the government’s broader focus on science, innovation and jobs and the central role they will play now and into the future.

“Innovation and science are key to future employment opportunities for Australians.”


Fewer students make the grade for teaching courses as new standards take effect

This tightening of standards for teachers was long overdue but may not be sustainable if teacher shortages develop

For the first time, Victorian school leavers wanting to study undergraduate teaching this year had to achieve a minimum ATAR of 65.

The change coincided with a 22 per cent decline in offers made to aspiring teachers in the first round of university offers, an analysis by The Age found.

A total of 1933 offers for education or teaching courses were made to school leavers, 220 fewer than last year. The remaining 697 places went to other applicants, down from 1211 in 2017.

It came as the average ATAR of students pursuing education courses increased to 69.53, up from 62.7 last year.

In previous years, some education courses have only required an ATAR of 30.

This turnaround was welcomed by Victorian Education Minister James Merlino. "We always said we wanted to raise the bar for those wanting to become a teacher to ensure we keep lifting standards in our classrooms," he said.

The minimum ATAR will be hiked up to 70 in 2019 as part of a state government push to improve teacher quality and stem an oversupply of graduates entering the profession.

All aspiring teachers also have to pass a new non-academic test that screens them for resilience, ethics and empathy.

But Joanna Barbousas, the president of the Victorian Council of Deans of Education, warned that the changes could lead to a teacher shortage.

"There are concerns around the short term finances of university education programs and what it will mean for the profession in terms of a decrease in teacher supply," she said.

Associate professor Barbousas, who is also the head of La Trobe University's education department, said entry requirements were important but the real focus should be on the quality of courses.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace dismissed concerns of a teacher shortage, and said the changes would improve the standing of the teaching profession.

"Teaching is an incredibly complex job and we need to make sure that we have people that can deal with those complexities and deliver the highest quality education," she said.

The number of offers for some teaching courses has more than halved over the past four years.

A total of 285 first round places were offered at Australian Catholic University's primary teacher education course in 2014, but this year there were just 131 offers.

The large drop coincided with an increase in the university's clearly-in ATAR score from 58.5 to 65.

Offers also plunged for Deakin University's primary teaching course, Victoria University's Prep-Year 12 teaching stream, and RMIT's Primary Education course.


Reduce migration, climate policies: Abbott

Former prime minister Tony Abbott wants the government to look at policies which give more jobs to locals, such as scaling back migration.

Tony Abbott thinks the coalition can win the next election if the government looks at policies like scaling back migration.

The former prime minister will also spend 2018 encouraging colleagues to take the pressure off power and house prices and making sure locals have jobs.

"These are the sorts of things when it comes to an election the government would get credit for," he told 2GB radio on Monday.

Asked about Mr Abbott's comments, Treasurer Scott Morrison talked up last year's strong jobs growth.

But he did argue there are skill shortages in some areas.

"Your immigration program has to work in with the labour needs in the market to ensure that the economy can function well," he told Sky News.

"You've got to keep a close eye on it, you can't let it get out of hand."

Mr Morrison - who was Mr Abbott's immigration minister - reflected on the level of net overseas migration under Labor peaking at over 300,000 a year, insisting it was significantly below that now.

"We run a strong program which is focused on skills, which means we invite people to come into the country to make a contribution and not take one," he said.


Government caves in to quack  medicine promoters

A lot of people believe in it -- and they vote

Evidence-based science is being “thrown out the window” during the formation of health policy, a regulatory expert with the Australian National University, Prof John Braithwaite, has said amid concerns from consumer health groups about the therapeutic goods amendment bill.

The bill proposes several changes to the Therapeutic Goods Act to simplify the process for managing complaints about complementary and alternative medicine advertisements and products. It will also introduce stronger compliance powers to deal with misleading advertising, including higher penalties.

But Braithwaite and consumer health groups are concerned by amendments to the legislation that will abolish pre-clearing of complementary and alternative medicine advertisements. The bill will also authorise an industry-submitted list of permissible uses for complementary medicines, including 140 uses that must be supported by scientific evidence and 879 that can be supported by a tradition of use, such as use in Chinese medicine and homeopathy, which has no scientific evidence for its efficacy.

On 24 January the Australian National University in Canberra will host a public forum to debate the bill, with speakers including Braithwaite and representatives from Choice, the Consumers’ Health Forum and Friends of Science in Medicine. The ad hoc meeting was arranged by health groups after the Senate’s community affairs legislation committee said it would not hold public hearings during its inquiry into the legislation.

“I am concerned that one of the fundamental principles of how we think about health in Australia – that is the principle of taking science seriously – is being eroded in the regulatory architecture,” Braithwaite told Guardian Austrlaia.

“Traditional, complementary and alternative medicine industries are bypassing the need to take science seriously and we are seeing same thing in climate change police. The science of protecting health is being thrown out the window and that is a threat to the integrity of consumer protection law.”

Guardian Australia has contacted members of the Senate community affairs legislation committee for comment.

Complementary Medicines Australia made its own submission to the inquiry, saying it was concerned by “vocal opponents of complementary medicine” claiming government regulators would be insufficient to protect consumers.

“Negative media attention would spread damaging misinformation about the industry and the government’s capacity to regulate,” the submission says. “These efforts are a misplaced ideological bid to throttle the use of complementary medicines in contrast to the worldwide boom in demand.”

Ken Harvey, from Monash University’s school of public health and preventative medicine, praised the bill’s provisions to fast-track new medicines to consumers.

“But there are other aspects of the bill that are potentially dangerous to consumers and need much more consideration,” he said.

“Advertising pre-approval is the only defence against seriously misleading advertisements appearing on prime-time television or in national newspapers. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has also ignored submissions that pointed out that including numerous traditional uses for products encourages industry to evade the requirement to have scientific proof of efficacy for their products and endorses pseudoscience.”

He and Braithwaite have called for pre-approval of advertisements about alternative medicines to continue until the other measures – increased post-marketing reviews and more stringent penalties for regulatory violations – have shown to be effective.

“The complaint system takes a long time to remove bad advertisements,” Harvey said. “Meanwhile, the damage has been done. Prevention is better than cure.”

Harvey said that in 2016 the Australian complementary medicine industry achieved revenues of $4.7bn, a compound annual growth rate almost 10 times faster than the growth rate of the overall economy. Australians spent more than $550 per capita on complementary medicines in 2016.

“This use is out of all proportion to the limited scientific evidence justifying the use of these products,” he said.

In its submission, the consumer advocacy group Choice said further measurers were needed for consumers to be able to make an informed choice about complementary medicines.

Its submission said: “Products displaying traditional use indications must also be required to display a prominent disclaimer on the label to the effect of; ‘This product’s traditional claims are based on alternative health practices that are not accepted by most modern medical experts. There is no good scientific evidence that this product works’.”


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, January 22, 2018

The "invasion" that was not in 1788

This was no invasion scene. This was a First Fleet sailor standing on the finest coastline in the world, dropping his pants to show Australia’s first inhabitants he was a man and not a woman or a god. Another brief moment of practical humility and goodwill conceived 230 years ago by the deep-­thinking captain standing pas­sively adjacent to the curious display of wrinkled British man junk.

Captain Arthur Phillip had safely led 1420 souls aboard a fleet of 11 ships 17,000 nautical miles across deadly seas in the most ­extraordinary and treacherous flotilla voyage in history.

By January 20, 1788, the ships of Phillip’s mighty First Fleet had been reunited in Botany Bay. The intrepid captain’s concerns had switched immediately from survival at sea to life in Oz. He was thinking about food. He was thinking about shelter. He was thinking about friendship, a ­notion of a shared humanity so perfectly realised in that moment two meeting races — those sea-spent Poms and the Eora people of coastal Sydney — bonded over the male copulatory organ and all the earthly trouble carried within it.

“At those initial meetings, the first Eora priority appears to have been to establish the strangers’ sex — men dealt with men,” says Grace Karskens, a University of NSW ethnography historian and world authority on early colonial Australia. “The (British) had no beards and they did not appear to have male sex organs. Once he grasped the question, Phillip ­instructed a sailor to drop his pants at one meeting — in ­response a great shout went up from the Eora warriors.”

Phillip had come to Australia with a vision for a great nation, a place of peace and prosperity open to all the vast continent’s inhabitants, old and new, he hoped might build a life within its shimmering borders. He was ridiculed by peers for this vision but he held to it. “There shall be no slavery in a free land,” he fiercely declared, ­almost 40 years before slavery was abolished in Britain.

He believed something wondrous could emerge from the prison colony he was burdened with building by order of King George III — the most ambitious social experiment ever to be conducted and, against all odds, succeed. Arthur Phillip believed he could turn a monumental historical negative — 780 criminals exiled from home constructing “a commonwealth of thieves” — into something close to the grand and evolving positive that is Australia in the year 2018.

This was no invasion scene. This was Phillip in September 1790, in Manly Cove, near-fatally speared in the shoulder while ­attempting to communicate with a group of indigenous Australians feasting on a dead whale. When others called for retribution, Phillip called for understanding.

Two hundred years later, one of this young nation’s most ­esteemed legal figures, Geoffrey Robertson QC, described that man as “the first and finest white Australian” who set a “standard of decency and justice for which we should express gratitude”.

An avid Phillip scholar, Robertson has lobbied for decades to have the oft-overlooked captain’s remains — believed to be resting in the grounds of a church in Bath — repatriated to Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, overlooking, says Robertson, “what Phillip was first to describe as the world’s finest harbour”. “As a nation, we probably owe more to him than to any other single person. Quite literally, our founding father.”


Inconvenient fact: Native title can only exist if Australia was settled, not invaded

International law recognises all territories acquired through invasion and annexation by force, prior to World War II, as lawful conquests.

This 'Right of Conquest' doctrine was first conceived by the International Law Commission of the United Nations and later adopted as UN General Assembly Resolution 3314.

Provided that all citizens of a lawfully conquered territory are granted equal rights by the local law, international law doesn't consider the descendants of the conqueror and the conquered as two separate peoples.

This in turn invalidates any claims to separate land rights under the same jurisdiction.

As one of the 193 member states of the United Nations, Australia is not exempt from this doctrine.

Yet we do recognise separate land rights because the historic Mabo Decision in 1992 rested on the correct presumption that Australia was settled, not invaded.

In their ruling, Justices Brennan, Deane, Gaudron, Toohey, Mason and McHugh acknowledged that native title could have been intentionally extinguished by the use of government powers, but wasn't.

They proceeded to reject the 'terra nullius' doctrine without overturning the traditional view that the Australian landmass had in fact been settled.

Had Australia actually been invaded, the descendants of its native population would be classified as a conquered people and their land rights would be abolished under UN Resolution 3314.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale might like to explain to the Australian people why he is attempting to undermine native title by implying that Australia was invaded and conquered.

On 26 January 1788, there was no sovereign state on the landmass we today call Australia. The land was sparsely populated with disparate nomadic tribes without a written language and a central government.

Captain Arthur Phillip's arrival with his group of disease-stricken poorly-fed convicts in their new prison colony, on territory claimed for the British Crown seventeen years earlier by explorer James Cook, does not constitute an "invasion".

Far from the brutal instincts of actual invaders like Napoleon or Hitler, early British settlers built a colony that was surprisingly harmonious and committed to justice.

As the first Governor of New South Wales, Phillip developed a fondness for the native Eora people in his new colony at Port Botany.

He befriended native man Woollarawarre Bennelong who became the first native Australian to be escorted to England to meet King George III.

The federal seat of Bennelong held by former Prime Minister John Howard for 33 years is named after him.

Phillip once forgave a native for stealing his shovel because he understood that in native culture people shared what they had and there was no concept of exclusive personal belongings. Hardly the attitude of an invader.

In 1816, Governor Lachlan Macquarie appointed native leaders to act as conduits between settlers and natives. He welcomed the natives who aspired to be part of the new colony. Hardly the attitude of an invader.

Violent clashes were the exception, not the norm.

At Myall Creek in 1838, some 30 natives were killed by 10 settlers and an African in Bingara, New South Wales. The perpetrators were trialled, 7 of the 11 involved were found guilty of murder, and hanged.

The rule of law prevailed. Hardly what happens in invaded countries.

Whether Australia's colonisation by the British Empire should be classified as an invasion or settlement is not a question of mere semantics. It's a question that holds serious legal and political consequences for our country.

For most Australians, this debate is as settled as Australia itself on 26 January 1788.

American President Abraham Lincoln once said "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Let's unite to recognise that 26 January is a celebration of a democratic story that would be incomplete without the Mabo Decision.

Let's never again disparage native title by referring to our settlement as an invasion. Happy Australia Day 2018.


Big government is costing its citizens far too dearly

Let’s start with a one-question quiz that will put you broadly into one of two camps.

You may recall in March last year a compelling speech made in the Senate about how hard it is to live on welfare. Then senator Jacqui Lambie gave a frank and tearful description of life on the disability pension.

The senator is no slouch and has worked in various jobs since a young age. Lambie could not bear being on welfare but circumstances had required it, and it was very hard to make ends meet. The fridge broke and food was kept in the Esky under the house so the ice lasted longer. The children went hungry and missed out on other things they needed. The car was driven, unregistered, on several occasions because the registration bill hadn’t been paid. Lambie felt so distressed that at times she just sat in the corner and cried.

Pick your gut reaction to the speech from these two options:

A. This must have been awful. No one should have to live like this. The government should take more tax out of the economy — surely there are people out there who can afford to give more. Then they should use this money to give people on welfare and low incomes more money so they can live more easily.

B. This must have been awful. No one should have to live like this. Car registration is a tax, probably unnecessary — because governments are so wasteful — and people shouldn’t have to pay it. Essential services are too expensive because of taxes and government meddling. There is too much tax in the cost of food and other goods, and red tape makes everything very expensive. The government should decrease its burden on us and take less tax out of the economy so the cost of living is much lower. Then people on welfare and low incomes will have more money left in their pockets and can live more easily.

Labels are unhelpful and personal political beliefs are complex. A person’s politics cannot be defined using a crass linear measure, with “left” at one end and “right” at the other. Nevertheless, for the sake of fitting in, if you chose A, you are known as a leftie. If you chose B, you are one of those dreaded right-wingers; and by the way, welcome to the club.

The point is, we all want to arrive at broadly the same destination: eradication of poverty and higher standards of living for all. The problem is we all have different ideas about how to get there.

For those in club B, the situation is pretty clear. Australians bear the burden of a government that is too large, too expensive and too invasive. Sure, we need essential and shared services, roads, schools, hospitals and so on. We don’t, though, need three layers of government to run the place and, in any case, our population is far too small to wear the damage of its meddling, support its unchecked growth and meet its insatiable cost.

In daily life, people are mercilessly peppered by governments hooking into their pay packets, in ways that are not always obvious. There are taxes on things a government thinks you should do, like earn an income and invest and provide for yourself. There are taxes on things a government thinks you shouldn’t do, like smoke.

There are rules, so many rules, that must be followed or the fines will arrive. There are so many things that must be registered, from cars to boats, to cats and dogs, and if these regos aren’t paid, there will be more fines to pay. There are so many activities that require a licence fee, so many regulations and so many inspectors you have to pay to check compliance. Incomes are high but the cost of living is stratospheric, and people are drowning in bills.

Key economic data for the past six years was released this week by various sources.

In terms of our costs, household spending on childcare has doubled over the six years. Primary and secondary education costs are up 50 per cent. The price of electricity has doubled and spending on health insurance has risen by 50.7 per cent. Overall, households are spending 23 per cent more on essential services, with prices influenced by government. The cost of goods and services — set by the market — has risen by only 15 per cent.

In terms of our incomes, Fair Work Commission data shows private sector rises have been below 3 per cent for six of the past eight quarters. In the September quarter, pay rises in private sector enterprise agreements fell to an average annual rate of 2.4 per cent — a 25-year low.

Since 2010, average incomes have grown by 24 per cent but the cost of income tax has risen by 47 per cent. The average middle-income earner receives $46,000 a year. Over the next four years, Canberra projects this person will earn an extra $6100, but will lose $2500 of that (41 per cent) to tax.

How’s that big government working out for you, Australia? Not too well by the looks of it.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has said his summer homework was to craft a budget with tax cuts for average earners in mind. Based on Morrison’s history, these cuts will probably be small and barely offset the recent tax rises — the Medicare levy increase — he put in place. Increasing the burden of government on the people is something this government has proved very keen to do.


Confidence returns for Australian coal miners

Note:  Thermal coal is the coal used in those evil coal-powered electricity generators.  Metallurgical coal is used in blast furnaces to make steel

Did the doubters declare the death of thermal coal too soon?

Certainly the major listed Australian thermal coal miners have all seen positive movement in their share price from late 2017 through into 2018, bucking the wider perception of a market in decline.

That was in turn driven by a resurgent thermal coal price after its massive bust three years ago.

From August 2015 to August 2016, prices languished below $US60 ($75) a tonne. By October of last year that had spiked to more than $US100 a tonne in October 2016 and remained in a healthy range rarely falling below $US80 a tonne.

There are combination of international and domestic market factors as well as  smarter play by Australian miners that have created market conditions where thermal coal has regained ground, shaking off the zombie company taglines that have dogged the industry over the last year.

The domestic market is also different. Australia has significantly fewer thermal coal miners today than it did five years after a spate of sell-offs, divestments, and exits from the market, and now those who survived are reaping the benefits of a strengthening market.

Whitehaven Coal has been one of the standout performers. In February of 2016 Whitehaven's share price hit 37 cents. Earlier this month it hit $4.77 only slowing down on the back of lowered production guidance figures last week.

New Hope Group has seen strong movement northwards, hitting a share price high point not seen since early 2015.

New Hope chief executive Shane Stephen told Fairfax Media pinpoints the sector's turning point as May 2016, when China announced it would institute new controls on domestic production sending buyers elsewhere.

"We're seeing strong demand for higher quality Australian thermal coal in Asia, and that is what's driving the price. Additionally, we're also not seeing a material increase in supply coming out of Australia

"Prices are around US$107 from Newcastle, to put that in perspective, any price with an eight or nine in front of it is considered good," Stephen says.

"With demand at these prices, New Hope is strongly profitable. I think most coal producers in Australia will produce strong financial numbers in their first half results."

Stephen says the company is continuing to focus on expansion and gaining approvals for its Acland Stage 3 project and the possibility of bringing new coal mines in the Surat Basin online as soon as 2023.

Yancoal is also starting to chart a recovery a massive slump in its share price after it announced its intention to acquire Rio Tinto’s Hunter Valley Operations and Mount Thorley Warkworth thermal coal mines.

Rio's rival, BHP, used its quarterly production announcement this week to spruik an expectation defying result for its energy coal division.

Production was up 8 per cent quarter on quarter, and up 4 per cent for the December 2017 half year from the previous corresponding period, with 14,029 kilotonnes produced during the December

Glencore has maintained its focus on thermal coal, telling Fairfax Media it is aiming to continue growth in the area, although it is still seeking to divest its Rolleston coal asset.

Coal mining regions are welcoming this revival of the industry and the flow-on social and economic effects it will have.

"This is most definitely a positive for the Singleton region," Singleton Mayor Sue Moore says. "The industry has been ticking upwards for the last six months, and we're seeing a turnaround, although it is slow. We expect to see this flow through to the local business sector over the next 12 months, beyond just the mining industry.

Newcastle, home of the largest coal port in the world, is looking beyond coal to future energy. ''The City of Newcastle recognises the role that coal plays in our local, state and national economy," Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says.

"The Newcastle and the Hunter Region has a proud history of coal mining, with the mining industry supporting thousands of local jobs for well over 100 years. We understand that coal will continue to be exported from the Port of Newcastle into the future; but Newcastle also has a proudly progressive history where our people demonstrate time and time again their ability to adapt with changing economic opportunity," she says.

Fat Prophets analyst David Lennox says the changing face of the world’s energy needs will eventually have a major impact on thermal coal, but the growth of renewables will not negate coal in the near to medium term.

“Even though we’re seeing significant interest for renewables, we’ll still see thermal coal power stations for a long time,” Mr Lennox told Fairfax Media.

This has been reinforced by the Turnbull Government’s National Energy Guarantee, an energy policy announced late last year which sees coal-fired power generation still playing a major role in Australia’s energy landscape.

Mr Lennox says Australia’s higher quality thermal coal is being sought as its lower impurities means lower emissions when burnt in power plants.

“While we don’t consume significant quantities of coal in Australia, there is high demand from China and India.”

Whitehaven's chief executive Paul Flynn said Australia's higher quality coal and location so close to Asian customers has given it an edge. "Australia as a whole has done a good job rebasing its costs quickly as supply and demand has tightened," Mr Flynn said.

"What we've observed is very strong demand out of Asia fuelled by their demand for high-quality coal to fuel their supercritical power stations."

Another major Australian coal miner agreed, stating that significant growth is forecast from South East Asia.

“Thermal coal’s story hasn’t changed, we’ve always had an optimistic view of it in the medium to long-term. China’s domestic consumption even reached an all-time record last year,” the miner’s spokesman says.

A recent Credit Suisse analysis agrees noting that while much of the developed world is turning away from coal, there is still strong demand from South East Asian nations.

"These nations expect to add 32 to 56 gigawatts of coal-fired generation from 2015 to 2025. The high end of the range may represent increased coal demand of 150 million tonnes per annum," it says.

This is the focus for Whitehaven's Flynn. He says the coal outlook has been strong and exceeded many market expectations in the lead up to north Asia's winter period.

"A number of factors are helping to maintain these higher prices - China's draw on the seaborne thermal coal market is steady, demand for high-quality coals from South East Asia and the traditional Asian markets of Japan, Korea and Taiwan remains strong, reflecting buoyant economic conditions across Asia while a number of factors including Australian industrial relations issues and poor weather in Indonesia have limited supply response," Mr Flynn says.

"The outlook for thermal coal in the short to medium term is favourable."

MineLife's Gavin Wendt believes the combination of growth in China’s manufacturing sector and “an almost surprising level of discipline and fiscal management” is aiding a thermal coal revival.

“Thermal coal is trending at its highest level since 2016,” Mr Wendt told Fairfax Media. “This is mainly driven by manufacturing activity in China having a direct impact on coal demand here.”


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, January 21, 2018

Monarchists’ opposition to a referendum reveals their contempt for democracy (?)

The abusive article below by a JOHN SLATER published in a British periodical with libertarian and Irish sympathies does its cause little good.  Abuse and misrepresentation are rarely persuasive.  I am in fact quite amazed at the animus in the article.  Australian monarchists are mild  people driven by none of the passions that seem so common in other political fields, yet we are accused of a "raw disdain for popular democracy" etc.

And he writes as if Australia were still ruled by British officials.  We are not.  The Royal powers in Australia are exercised by the governor general, who is always a distinguished Australian.  One really wonders what the author below is talking about.  I suppose it's because he essentially has no case to make that he resorts to so much abuse.  Abuse is very commonly the resort of those who have no real argument

And he has no real argument because the issue he raises has already been settled.  Far from the monarchy and its supporters being undemocratic, we have already had fairly recently (in 1999) a referendum on whether Australia should remain a monarchy.  The result was a resounding affirmation of our present system.  In defiance of all the talking heads, 55% voted for the Monarchy. Even many people of non-British origin voted for it. In my home State of Queensland nearly two thirds voted for the Monarchy.

The most recent poll I have seen on the matter was in 2014 by ReachTel.  It showed just 39.4 per cent of Australians saying they support a republic.

It is people who insist that we should keep voting until we get the "right" result who are undemocratic and elitist

I have no intention of putting up an argument in favour of the monarchy as I put up rather a good one by someone else on 17th. (4th article). I had my say on the matter some time ago

And in passing I deplore the description of Prime Minister Turnbull as having a "rare fleck of courage".  His unassuming and compromising ways may create that impression but he has had amazing success in getting most of his legislative agenda through a very difficult Senate.  It could well be argued that only someone with Mr Turnbull's placatory style could have done that.  He is a good and successful face for Australia.

Almost 19 years since the last major push for an Australian republic, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull started 2018 with a rare fleck of courage by proposing a plebiscite to gauge public support for cutting ties with the monarchy.

For decades, polls have shown that Australians would prefer to have one of their own as head of state over a Brit born into the lap of pomp and privilege. Yet despite this, the PM’s announcement was pilloried by conservatives as a vanity project for an elite that is out of touch with the ‘bread and butter’ issues affecting the lives of ordinary people.

The head of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, for instance, branded the suggestion ‘ridiculous’ in light of the more pressing problems of ‘energy prices, terrorism and ethnic gangs’.

But for all the talk of Turnbull being out of touch, these monarchists are driven by their own brand of elitism, just like their forebears for centuries before them. By fighting even the prospect of giving the public a vote on the future of Australian democracy, monarchists reveal their cynical belief that it’s beyond the wit of the everyman to decide for himself what shape his system of government takes, and who leads it.

This isn’t a debate about Australia’s logo and stationery, as one monarchist commentator glibly put it: a republic is about more than symbolism. As Australia found out in the 1970s, when first-term prime minister Gough Whitlam was sacked and replaced by a flick of governor-general Sir John Kerr’s pen, the powers of the queen’s unelected representative are not merely ceremonial.

Even if part of the case for a republic turns on symbolism, on questions that go to the core of a nation’s identity, symbolism does matter. On that score, the idea of a God-given right to rule, conferred by bloodline, not the ballot box, is completely at odds with Australia’s fiercely egalitarian attitude. Since the Gold Rush of the 1850s, Australia has cast aside the strictures of the English class system and embraced an ethos in which, as one historian famously put it, ‘Jack is as good as his master – and probably a good deal better’. Let’s face it: in today’s Australia, paying homage to a foreign royal family feels like a hangover from a bygone era.

While it is scarcely mentioned, Australia’s democracy is among the oldest in the world. Yet astoundingly, despite being directly elected by the people, its elected officials are still made to swear allegiance to the Queen. A republic would do away with this medieval heirloom and give long overdue recognition to the idea that the sole allegiance of elected officials should be to the people who elected them.

Monarchists frequently justify the relevance of the royals to the modern world by claiming they are role models that serve as an enduring icon of national unity. But once we peel back the pomp and pageantry, the royal family are little different to today’s celebrity class. Between Prince Charles’ eco-pieties on climate change and Prince Harry luxuriating with Barack Obama on the BBC, the royal family is now little different to low-rent reality TV.

Former PM Tony Abbott recently sought to beat down calls for a public vote by saying republicans will never win by running Australia down. He should heed his own words. By thumbing their nose at giving Australians the chance to choose who governs them, the monarchists lay bare their raw disdain for popular democracy.


Australia's jobs boom: employment numbers set historic mark

Kudos to Mr Turnbull

Employment has risen every month in a calendar year for the first time in four decades - and possibly the first time in history - after another 35,000 people ignored the summer slowdown and found jobs in December.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed 2017 was the first full year in which employment rose every month since the bureau began releasing monthly data in 1978.

NSW is doing the heavy lifting adding 140,000 jobs in 2017, outstripping the weight of its population, while Victoria is lagging behind, adding only 87,000 jobs.

The discrepancy is showing in the unemployment rates of the two states with NSW now on the precipice of the natural rate of unemployment at 4.8 per cent while Victoria hit 6.1 per cent in December.

"Full-time employment has now increased by around 322,000 persons since December 2016, and makes up the majority of the 393,000 net increase in employment over the period," said Australian Bureau of Statistics chief economist, Bruce Hockman.

December was the 15th straight month of job creation, the longest streak since 1993, and fears of a growing number of people looking for more hours and not finding it appear to be misplaced.

The underutilisation rate has fallen to 13.7 per cent, down from 14.7 per cent at the beginning of the year. Over the past year, hours worked per working age adult have also climbed from 85.3 per month to 86.6 per month.

The unprecedented growth was not enough to stop the unemployment rate rising slightly to 5.5 per cent, up from 5.4 per cent in November after an extra 20,000 people found themselves unemployed based on seasonally adjusted figures.

The labour force participation rate, which measures employment by the working aged population aged 15-64, rose to at 65.7 per cent, the highest it has been since January 2011, while women have continued their participation run to hit a record of 60.4 per cent.

The Australian dollar initially slipped around 0.3 cents on the release of the figures before regaining much of the lost ground. At 3.20pm AEDT, it was fetching around 79.55 US cents. Overnight, it had broken through 80 US cents to hit a four-month high.

Commonwealth Bank economist Gareth Aird described the figures as "phenomenal". "The big lift in employment over December once again bettered consensus [15,000+] and once again the underlying detail was robust," he said.

The market faces a tough ask maintaining the extraordinary rate of job creation, with the near 400,000 lift in 2017 unlikely to be recreated this year, as the size of Australia's economy naturally constrains growth.

"These figures should not provide, unfortunately, sufficient confidence that we're going to see better days for 1.8 million Australians, who are either underemployed or unemployed," said Labor's employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor.

Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash said the Turnbull government was investing in getting more Australians into work.

"The best form of welfare is a job," she said.

For policymakers the key test will be whether the run of full time jobs finally eventuates into wages growth which have been stuck at or below inflation at 1.8 per cent, making every day items more expensive for consumers.

The stubbornly low rate of growth for wages threatens to undermine half-a-century of belief in the Phillips Curve, which suggests higher employment must eventually lead to higher wages, and is continuing to frustrate both the Turnbull government and the Reserve Bank.


Miserable Greens would deny us all that we hold dear and cherish

By GRAHAM RICHARDSON, former Labor party numbers man.  He eventually discovered that there is no such thing as a happy Greenie.  Their demands are insatiable

There was a time when the Greens were all that their name suggests they should be. They were passionate about our environment and they fought really hard to protect Australia’s forests.

I was proud to be their ally in the noble endeavour of protecting rainforests and old-growth forests. I placed more than 20 per cent of Tasmania into World Heritage and, despite resolute opposition from the Bjelke-Petersen government in Queensland, I managed to list the rainforests of the Daintree region and the far north on the World Heritage register as well. Sadly, it did not take too long for me to realise that I could never do enough for them. No matter how much I achieved, they were always disappointed.

The Helsham inquiry was set up to finally settle which Tasmanian forests were to be protected. Many learned conservationists were disappointed at its outcome and I set about undoing the ­inquiry’s final report. It took a three-day cabinet meeting that grew pretty heated at times before a very close vote overturned that report. I was ecstatic and raced to share the news of this huge win for Tasmanian forests’ preservation. I rang Bob Brown, who could only express his disappointment at the cabinet not going far enough. The Greens could never be satisfied. For them it was all or nothing.

Brown, despite everything, was a tremendous voice for the environment and by far the best leader the Greens have had. The Greens began their life in Australia as a mainly Tasmanian group. They were able to export their fervour to the mainland on the back of an environmental purist in Brown.

He was never seen as a politician on the make or consumed by personal ambition. He projected decency and Australians responded. The Greens were able to achieve a national vote of 10 per cent very, very quickly. The problem is that they have never been able to increase that number.

They are stuck at 10 per cent ­because they no longer have the Greens purity of a Bob Brown. Since they stopped worrying about the trees and adopted the mantle of the true party of the left in Australia, they limited their ­horizons and seem determined to remain a minor party.

Sure, they will win inner-city seats in the parliament and if the Liberals think that the short-term gain of Labor losing a by-election in the seat of Batman in Victoria is more important than keeping out a Greens member who believes in everything the Liberals don’t, then the Greens will secure that victory in the next few months. The Greens will no doubt trumpet this as a major win and predict they will march on to greater glories. They won’t, of course. As long as they lean as far to the left as they do at present, they will ­remain on the fringes of power. They can rattle their sabres in the Senate and have a minor role in shaping legislation but real power will continue to elude them.

As long as they are determined to push issues that not only alienate the bulk of Australians but ­infuriate them as well, then their campaigns will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. One of the first ­indications that the Greens have fundamental difficulties in accepting the way the great majority of Australians live was when now-vanquished Queensland Green Larissa Waters took on the cause of changing the toys our children play with. She wanted to ban Barbie dolls because they were gender-specific. Little girls have played with dolls since the Son of God played on the wing for Jerusalem. I have managed to live my 68 years seeing absolutely nothing wrong with little girls playing with dolls. And even if I am ­accused of being a truly dreadful person, I readily concede that I would not have been comfortable with my son playing with dolls. Fortunately, he never did.

On the last day at my son’s school last month, there was a Christmas carols evening with a religious theme held at St ­Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral in Sydney. Silent Night still sounds like a wonderful song to me and the children and their parents had a terrific time. The harmonies, the musicianship and the most brilliant music teachers brought songs we had all been familiar with since we were children to life yet again. This was a great Christmas celebration following a great Christmas tradition. The Greens don’t want us to have these celebrations.

Tasmanian senator Nick McKim and a few of his mates drew up a non-denominational card to be sent out at Christmas. Why do these miserable bastards want to attack how we play and what we celebrate? The tradition of sending Christmas cards has been breaking down for some years. As a kid I remember my family ­received and sent a hundred cards. Now it is only a few. The Greens, though, should not read into the decline in cards anything about celebrating Christmas ­itself. That tradition is alive and kicking. The Greens can only stand outside the mainstream if they continue to deride it.

Today’s leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, surprised ­no one this week when, in line with the black-armband view of history they peddle, he called for Australia Day to be moved away from the commemoration of the landing of the First Fleet at Botany Bay. Again, he stands against what a huge majority of Australians want and believe in.

I was at the harbour in 1988 when the 200th anniversary was being commemorated. There were so many boats, from the workers’ tinnies to the billionaires’ luxury yachts, out that day that there was very little space on the water. Australians voted with their feet and came out in their millions to be a part of it. The Greens will never dampen the way we feel about Australia Day.

Di Natale said his party would take it up with their representatives in local government. As far as most of us are concerned, this will merely mean that a few nut­tier councils will lose their right to conduct citizenship ceremonies on this day. By the way, the number of people who seek to have their Australian citizenship conferred on Australia Day itself speaks volumes for the popularity of the day.

Australia Day can be a time when we celebrate the wonderful country in which we live and renew our vows to do better with indigenous health and education.

We cannot roll over and allow the Greens to tell us how to live and what to think.


Indigenous Affairs Minister says Indigenous people haven't raised Australia Day date issue with him

It's only a concern for politicized Aborigines who have been radicalized by white Leftists

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion claims not a single Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has approached him about changing the date of Australia Day.

Earlier this week, one of the Prime Minister's Indigenous affairs advisers, Chris Sarra, told 7.30 holding Australia Day on January 26 was dividing Australians and excluding Indigenous people.

Senator Scullion said it was "good to have heard that advice" from Dr Sarra, but that "outside of Chris", no-one had raised it with him.

"He'd be the only Indigenous Australian who has said [this] to me," he told AM.

"This is not something that comes up at all.

"I can tell you there would be no-one, as a fact."

Senator Scullion is a senator for the Northern Territory and has held the Indigenous Affairs portfolio since 2013.

He acknowledged Indigenous "culture was smashed" after the First Fleet's arrival at Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.

But Senator Scullion said many Aboriginal people celebrated Australia Day, and shifting the date was "a very low priority certainly on my agenda".

"If you want to divide the nation, this is how we go down that line," he said.


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

Friday, January 19, 2018

Top cop says Sudanese youths are overrepresented in aggravated burglary

HOME invasions have become the “crime of choice” for young Sudanese offenders in Melbourne, says one of Victoria’s top cops.

Census data shows people born in Sudan make up about 0.1 per cent of Victoria’s population — yet Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) data shows that 8.6 per cent of aggravated burglaries in the state are committed by Sudanese youths.

Andrew Crisp, Victoria Police’s Deputy Commissioner, told 7.30 last night that the statistics reflect what the officers have seen on the ground.

“We’ve seen Sudanese youth become involved in aggravated burglaries,” he told the show. “A lot of the time it’s to steal keys, so they can steal cars to commit further crimes.

“It has become the crime of choice for this particular group.”

An aggravated burglary is basically a home invasion — meaning somebody is at home when the offence is committed.

“We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years now and it’s about network offending,” he told 7.30. “So, it’s not that you’ve got a core group of six, generally young, men committing crime over a number of nights.

“What we have seen is that you might see half a dozen involved in an aggravated burglary, steal a car and commit some further offences that night.

“The next night, you might have two of those offenders, but there could be three or four new ones that have come from other parts of Melbourne — networking through social media.”

He said many members of Apex had been arrested, but an area of concern was young people going into prison only to be influenced by the gang’s members who were already serving time.

However, Deputy Commissioner Crisp echoed previous statements made by Victoria Police members about Menace to Society — dismissing them as a ragtag group of thugs.

“Menace to Society is a tag, which has been used by a number of different groups over the years,” he told the ABC.

“We suggest that this is not an organised gang in terms of any organisation and structure.”

Despite a string of high-profile incidents involving African youths, the overall crime rate in Victoria fell for the first time in six years last year — according to CSA.

The agency released its latest data report in December — which stated that overall criminal incidents recorded in Victoria was down 4.8 per cent and there were significant downward trends in many crime types.

The CSA told a federal parliamentary inquiry on migrant settlement outcomes that about 1.5 per cent of criminal offenders in Victoria were Sudanese.

The agency’s data for the year to June 2017 shows Sudanese-born offenders were allegedly involved in 98 aggravated burglaries in the state, compared to 540 Australian-born offenders.

For the same period, 45 serious assaults were allegedly committed by Sudanese-born offenders, compared to 1462 Australian-born offenders.

The data shows, unsurprisingly, that the majority of crimes in Victoria are committed by Australians. It also shows Sudanese immigrants are over-represented in the crime statistics.

However, Anthony Kelly, the executive officer of Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre, said the figures should be treated with caution.

He told The Guardian the Sudanese community in Australia had a much younger average age and were subject to issues such as poverty and a lack of engagement in work and school — which increased the likelihood of being involved in crime.

The issue of “gang crime” caused an awkward moment for the Prime Minister yesterday in a cringe-worthy joint press conference with Victoria’s acting Labor Premier James Merlino — which was supposed to promote funding for Geelong.

“We don’t want to have an awkward discussion here, I think James understands that the responsibility for keeping Victorians safe on the street is the Victorian government’s,” Mr Turnbull said.

“(Opposition Leader) Matt Guy has reforms that he wants to advance that’ll be fought out in the state election.”

That prompted Mr Merlino to fire back with “facts” about the state Opposition stalling stricter firearms laws in Parliament.

“Your counterpart, ... Matthew Guy and the Liberal Party, are stalling that legislation and seeking to water it down,” Mr Merlino said.

“So the best thing you can do, Malcolm, for Victoria is get on the phone, talk to the mobster’s mate, Matthew Guy, and your Liberal Party to support that legislation.”

Last year it was revealed Mr Guy had a lobster dinner with alleged mafia boss Tony Madafferi.


‘Tens of thousands’ to join Australia Day activist WAR

Indigenous activists calling for the abolition of Australia Day expect tens of thousands of protesters to swamp Melbourne’s CBD next week, saying a groundswell of support is building for more drastic action than changing the date of the national holiday.

Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) — which refuses to engage with police or Melbourne City Council to co-ordinate the ‘‘Invasion Day’’ rally — anticipate a protest larger than last year, which drowned out the city’s official Australia Day parade, encouraged by vocal support from some Melbourne councils.

Organiser Tarneen Onus-Williams said the “change the date” campaign to switch Australia Day from January 26 had overshadowed ongoing issues relating to Aborigines and risked becoming a token gesture akin to Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations.

“People think just change the date and it’s going to be fine,” said Ms Onus-Williams, who identifies as a Yigar Gunditjmara and Bindal woman.

“People say they’re celebrating a great country. Celebrating a great country — Australia — has come at a loss for so many people, especially Aboriginal people. “Most people who think this is a great country are white people.”

Ms Onus-Williams said last year’s decision by Yarra, Darebin and Moreland councils in Melbourne’s inner-northern suburbs to drop Australia Day cele­brations was a significant sign of solidarity.

Yarra and Darebin councils were consequently stripped of their ability to hold citizenship ceremonies, while Moreland council received a warning from the federal government.

Councils in Fremantle and Hobart have also expressed support for changing the date of Australia Day. Other rallies condemning Australia Day — smaller than the Melbourne event — will be held in other capital cities on Friday week.

Fellow WAR organiser Arika Waulu said the group made a conscious decision not to consult police or Melbourne City Council about the upcoming rally, which last year drew between 10,000 and 50,000 people, according to varying estimates, blocking traffic as protesters staged a sit-in.

“As sovereign people we don’t seek authority to walk on our own land,” she said. “We want it (Australia Day) to be abolished until there’s something to celebrate. It’s never going to be OK to celebrate it on any other day.”

A City of Melbourne spokesman said peaceful protests of a political or religious nature were allowed under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, though roads could be closed only by council, police or VicRoads.

Greens leader Richard Di Nat­ale will join the rally as it leaves Parliament House, as will Greens MP Lidia Thorpe, who has called for Australian and Aboriginal flags on government buildings to fly at half-mast that day.

Ms Waulu said the group had received threats from some far-right groups.

Nationalist groups True Blue Crew and the United Patriots Front are organising a beach party at the St Kilda foreshore on Australia Day, prompting Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss to yesterday warn that alcohol consumption and rowdy behaviour would not be tolerated.

Ms Voss said the council did not issue permits for events on Australia Day because it wanted the beach and other public areas to be accessible to everyone.

The beach was trashed by 5000 drunken revellers on Christmas Day last year.


More Australian graduates head into part-time jobs as economic chill persists

Economic chill my foot.  Employment grew markedly last year.  The economy delivered a near record 380,000 new jobs last year — most of them full-time.  The problem is useless degrees and the continual dumbing down of what is taught

Impact of global financial crisis and increased supply of university-educated candidates leaves 38% of graduates in part-time work

University leavers in Australia are increasingly settling for part-time employment after graduation as a flood of job seekers holding bachelor degrees dilute their own buying power.

On Friday the latest graduate outcomes survey revealed that the last decade has seen a rise of 17 percentage points increase in the number of university leavers in part-time employment, while the number of recent graduates in full-time work remains stubbornly below below the levels of the global financial crisis.

It’s what the survey authors say is part of a “pronounced trend towards part-time employment among graduates”. Between 2008 and 2017 the proportion of employed graduates working part-time increased by 17 percentage points to 38% of all graduates.

While the shift to part-time employment is part of a broader trend in the labour market, it’s particularly pronounced amongst university leavers.

For example in 2017 male graduates were far more likely to be employed part-time than the overall male workforce. Part-time employment was 32% for male graduates compared with 18.7% for employed men overall.

Phil Lewis, the director of the Centre for Labour Market Research at the University of Canberra, said the trend to part-time employment was down to supply and demand.

Between 2009 and 2016 domestic undergraduate enrolments grew by 33%, which Lewis said was have an impact on employer choice.

“There’s a certain number of people and a certain number of jobs,” he said. “When the economy is booming the queue becomes very short so employers take whoever they can get [but] the huge increase in graduates since the introduction of the demand-driven system just means the queue gets bigger.

“These people will get a job eventually but at the moment new graduates are right at the back because employers can pick whoever they want.”

The survey also found that since 2008 the full-time employment rate among bachelor degree holders has fallen from 85% to 71.8%.

Bruce Guthrie, a research manager from Graduate Careers Australia, said: “In a way it’s the unfortunate timing of an increase in graduate output coinciding with a reduced demand for new graduates.

“I used to hold out hopes that the situation would return to pre-GFC levels of strong employment outcomes for new graduates but it looks like the GFC has dislocated many industries and patterns of doing business world-wide and it might be that we’ll never get back to those levels of demand.”

The survey comes as the federal education minister Simon Birmingham engages in a war with universities over funding.

In its mid-year budget update the government announced it will cut $2.2bn from universities predominantly through a two-year freeze in commonwealth grants funding for teaching and learning – effectively the end of the demand-driven system.

The minister has signalled that he will seek to force universities to improve graduate outcomes by attaching performance-based measures including graduate outcomes to funding.

He said the survey demonstrated the benefits of “ensuring universities are more accountable and transparent about the job prospects of their graduates”.

“For example the results show that 82% of graduates with degrees in teaching secured full-time employment within four months of finishing, with the figure dipping to 60% for graduates in the creative arts and communications fields,” he said.

But Catriona Jackson, Universities Australia acting chief executive, pointed out the figures only accounted for graduate outcomes four months after graduating.

“The data shows that graduates, like everyone entering the labour market, need time to establish in their careers. But this immediate outlook can shift quickly – within three years of finishing their studies, nine in 10 graduates are employed full-time,” she said.


Now political correctness is making its way into drivers' licences

The Queensland Government has scrapped a requirement for gender to be shown on all driver's licences, after complaints from the LGBTI community.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) confirmed that height was also removed as a requirement, after concerns the collection of personal information was potentially discriminatory.

However, the Department said the move towards gender-less licences was due to the need to make driver's and marine licences compliant with new anti-discrimination laws, according to the Courier Mail.

Another reason for change was due to improvements in technology, a spokesman for Roads Minister Mark Bailey said.

'TMR has received complaints and suggestions from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community about displaying gender/sex (M or F) on TMR cards,' a department document said.

Other information, such as eye and hair colour, is also being removed from records attached to licences.

'TMR has received feedback that the collection of personal information (eye and hair colour, complexion, height) may be perceived as discriminatory by some members of the community.'

Police will still have access to information on gender through databases, and drivers will still be asked to nominate their gender when applying for a licence.

The TMR stopped recording people's gender and height for all new and renewed licences in October 2016.


Is it really so difficult to deport criminal non-citizens? Experts say it's actually easy

Amid the soul-searching about Sudanese gangs and organised crime, many commentators and observers have been left scratching their heads about why it seems to so hard to deport criminal non-citizens.

A narrative has formed in which the courts and crafty lawyers regularly stymie the efforts of the federal government and police to rid the streets of thugs.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has lashed out at the Victorian government, saying it has not done enough to stem "African gang violence".

Three such cases have recently come to light. One involves a 25-year-old South Sudanese armed robber who came to Australia on a refugee visa - he had his deportation order put on hold by a Federal Court judge because his siblings might be negatively affected.

An apparent Apex gang leader, Isaac Gatkuoth, served 16 months in jail for a violent carjacking while high on ice and is now fighting his deportation order. In another example, a South Sudanese criminal was granted a reprieve because he wasn't given adequate notice of his visa cancellation.

Such instances compel particular angst on talkback radio and in other forums that lend themselves to consternation about law and order. At times, cabinet ministers have joined in the criticism of weak judges and pesky appeals tribunals.

The reality is somewhat different. Judges are not overturning decisions to deport criminals - in fact, they do not even have that power. They are simply examining whether the minister has followed proper legal process in making his decision.

Here's an example. Someone who is not an Australian citizen commits his third crime and the minister - or a departmental delegate - decides to cancel his visa and deport him. If the minister makes the decision personally, there is no right of review at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. If it was a delegate, the man can try his luck at the AAT.

In either case, the man can go to the Federal Court for judicial review. This is not an appeal. The judge cannot reinstate his visa, but she can find that the law wasn't properly followed - such as a failure to even consider the impact of deportation upon the man's family.

"What the court does is it looks at the legality of the decision that has been made," explains Mary Crock, professor of law at Sydney University. "It's [then] open to the government or the tribunal to go back and effectively make the same decision but in a legally correct way, taking into account all relevant considerations."

In other words, it doesn't change anything. The minister will almost always make the same decision again, but in a more legally robust way.

"All the minister has to do is make the decision correctly and the person gets deported," says Nicholas Poynder, a Sydney-based barrister specialising in immigration. "If the decision is legally erroneous then the court is entitled to set that aside and return it to the decision-maker to do properly."

Mr Poynder argues the government actually has "extraordinary power" in immigration cases. For one thing, the minister (at this time Peter Dutton) has the power to set aside a decision of the AAT and substitute a new one - basically, he can overrule the reviewing authority. This happened to one of Mr Poynder's clients two days before Christmas. "I find that unfair," he says.

Neither does Mr Poynder believe the AAT is a soft touch, hellbent on reversing the government's decisions. He says it is like any tribunal - some members will be more sympathetic than others, and will approach a particular set of facts from different perspectives. In all these cases, the minister is represented at the tribunal hearing anyway.

Critically, it is also the case that most of these people are behind bars while their legal appeals are underway - they are not out on the streets. If someone's visa is cancelled while they are in jail, they go straight into immigration detention at the conclusion of their prison term. If they are not required to attend a Federal Court hearing in Sydney or Melbourne, they may be held at Christmas Island or in Western Australia.

"They're not a threat to the Australian community at that time," says Carina Ford, who runs a large migration law agency based in Footscray. "These people have completed their sentences, [but] they're still in detention."

Ms Ford, who regularly works on cases involving Sudanese and African migrants, says a black-and-white view of these matters is too simplistic. She believes decision-makers should take into account the impact of deportation on families, as well as the risks of returning a person to the country from which they fled, and whether they were given enough support in the first place.

"When you're dealing with it at the coalface, you can see the personal impact on families," she says. "This concept where you can simply send them back and get rid of them is just not accurate."


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, January 18, 2018

"Green" South Australia relies on a fleet of diesel generators to keep the lights on

Britain does too.  Diesels put out a lot of particulate pollution -- as in clouds of blue smoke -- but that's OK apparently. Anybody who expects rationality from Greenies will be sadly disappointed

SCORCHING temperatures of 41C for Adelaide on both Thursday and Friday have triggered a warning of low power reserves, as the State Government puts its diesel generators on standby.

The Bureau for Meteorology says Adelaide faces a maximum 37C today and last night upped its predictions to 41C on both Thursday and Friday.

The Australian Energy Market Operator is now warning of an elevated blackout risk for SA on Thursday evening. But AEMO and the Government stress it doesn’t mean blackouts will occur.

AEMO has a three-stage system to warn states of emerging blackout risks. The “lack of reserve 1” notice issued on Tuesday is the lowest alert level, meaning blackouts could occur if there were unexpected problems with infrastructure or demand was higher than expected.

Operators of the state’s largest power station, the gas-fired plant on Torrens Island, have previously warned it is nearing the end of its practical life and losing reliability.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said he was ready to respond to the heat with measures in Labor’s energy plan, including flicking on emergency diesel generators.

“We will, of course, monitor the situation and be ready to use our new ministerial powers of direction over the market or our state-owned power plant if required,” he said.

“That is considered very unlikely at this stage. We launched our energy plan to boost local power supply and improve grid security, and importantly, the independent market operator has said that our plan has put SA in a good position this summer.”

The period of blackout risk is from 5.30pm to 6pm Thursday — the crossover point where workplaces and factories are still consuming large amounts of power as some workers return home to switch on airconditioners and appliances. It also often coincides with a drop off in production from wind farms and solar panels.

AEMO figures indicate SA will use all the energy generated within its borders as demand peaks on Thursday afternoon, while imports from Victoria ensure extra supply is available.

SA’s only other low reserve warning of the summer was in early December and is heading into its highest electricity demand period of the year, with temperatures rising and many workplaces and factories firing back up after the new year break. With a state election in March, the Government faces a political test of its energy plan. The statewide blackout in September 2016 was followed by a forced outage in February last year, in which 90,000 homes and businesses were temporarily shut down.


Black groper traumatizes pretty jogger

A man who was caught on camera allegedly groping a stranger has been charged with two counts of sexual assault - but one was for allegedly groping another female jogger a year ago.

The 40-year-old Gold Coast man was arrested by police on Tuesday, accused of repeatedly grabbing 24-year-old Jesse Ratu's backside as she unlocked the door to her Southport apartment on Sunday morning.

In the previous incident the man allegedly groped another woman in nearby Hollywell on January 17, 2017.

His arrest came almost exactly one year after he allegedly groped another female jogger in nearby Hollywell on January 17, 2017.

The man is due to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on February 6.

Charges were laid after CCTV footage emerged on Monday showing Ms Ratu being approached by a man from behind before allegedly being grabbed on her backside five-times.

The man was then seen smiling into cameras after performing the alleged 'disgusting' assault.

'He said: "Sorry, I just had to do it, you have the best a***",' the mother-of-two told Nine News. 

The terrified woman allegedly told the man 'don't f***ing touch me' before running inside and telling her partner Brendan Wilson what happened.

The sales assistant said despite Mr Wilson running outside to confront the man, the offender had already fled the area.

Ms Ratu remembered feeling too scared to turn back out of fear she would be picked up and 'stolen', and said she now felt too traumatised to walk outside alone.

'We've only been here for six months,' Ms Ratu said. 'We're now thinking about moving. I've always lived in Southport but never lived down this end.' 

An image of the man, who is described to be of African descent, about 1.8m with facial hair and short black hair, was sent out by police in the area.


'Let's stop rewriting history': Pauline Hanson weighs into the debate around changing the date of Australia Day and urges a stand against 'vocal minorities'

Pauline Hanson has weighed into the debate about moving Australia Day, likening the idea of changing the public holiday to renaming a stadium.

The One Nation leader said the idea of shifting the national day from January 26 to another day to appease left-wing activists was 'rewriting history' and urged a stand be taken against 'vocal minorities'.

She likened the symbolic gesture, proposed by the Greens, to the renaming of Brisbane's old Lang Park Stadium and Queensland's Bruce Highway.

'The Bruce Highway will always be the Bruce Highway to me, not this new Pacific Coast Way they've changed the signage to,' she told her 219,000 Facebook followers on Tuesday.

'Lang Park will always be Lang Park, not Suncorp Stadium. 'And Australia Day will always be Australia Day.'

Senator Hanson's intervention in the Australia Day debate comes a day after Greens leader Richard Di Natale likened the arrival of British First Fleet in Sydney Harbour, in January 1788, to 'genocide'.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott on Monday tweeted there were '364 other days' for the Greens to be 'politically correct' while his successor Malcolm Turnbull has described the call to shift the national day as 'divisive'.

The debate about moving Australia Day has also coincided with former Labor leader Mark Latham making a campaign video with indigenous Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Price to 'Save the Date'.


Simple reason negative gearing will never be scrapped

DESPITE ongoing debate, politicians will never scrap negative gearing for one simple reason, Australian economist Saul Eslake has said.

The tax concession has been a key driver in rising housing prices, providing incentives for investors and tax relief for those who rent out their properties.

It’s also been partly responsible for locking thousands of Australians out of the property market, effectively crushing the great Australian dream, and has contributed to the widely acknowledged housing crisis for the same reasons.

Extraordinary property prices have put pressure on politicians to take action on housing affordability, with stripping the negative gearing tax concession considered one of the simplest and most effective options to drive down prices and open up the market to millennials.

But while it might seem like a no-brainer for those of us desperate to join the homeowners’ club, Mr Eslake explains, it would be one of the dumbest political decisions possible.

And It all comes down to votes.

“On average, about 100,000 people successfully become home buyers in every given year. They would obviously like the government to do things to make housing cheaper, more affordable for them,” he told ABC’s 7.30.

“There are over two million people who own at least one investment property, and the last thing they want to [see] a government to do is make housing cheaper and more affordable for people who don’t currently own housing.

“Even the least intelligent of our politicians can do that maths: 100,000 people who want cheaper housing versus two million people who want housing to get more expensive.”

Economist Saul Eslake. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones Source: News Corp Australia

Despite this clear-cut argument, debate continues to rage among our major political parties over what to do with negative gearing.

Federal Labor is currently pushing to scrap the controversial tax concession, which Paul Keating did as treasurer in the 1980s, only to have it reinstated by then prime minister Bob Hawke a short time later.

It has seized on research presented at a Reserve Bank of Australia workshop which found eliminating negative gearing would benefit renters and owner-occupiers and raise the number of Australians owning their own homes, but the government has dismissed the paper as “preliminary and incomplete”.

The change would have a minimum impact on the economy while curbing the appetite of investors and the top 20 per cent of earners for owning multiple properties, the paper, based on economic modelling by Melbourne University researchers, predicted. The study said 75 per cent of Australian households would be better off if the policy was ditched.

An RBA report says three-quarters of households would be better off without negative gearing. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Last week NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was criticised for ignoring advice from her Treasury officials that the Federal Government should conduct a comprehensive study of negative gearing and capital gains tax arrangements “and consider alternative policies that would improve outcomes for Australians”.

Confidential federal Treasury advice published earlier this month contradicted the Turnbull Government’s claims that changing negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount would act like a “sledgehammer” on the Australian economy.

Federal Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, who labelled the Melbourne University paper “preliminary and incomplete”, said Labor can’t argue negative gearing and capital gains tax reforms would both make houses more affordable and have no impact on prices.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the research shows Australian households would be better off.

“We have seen case after case of experts calling for negative gearing to be reformed,” Mr Bowen told reporters in western Sydney on Saturday.

“What negative gearing reform would do is take the heat out of the housing market and put a more level playing field in place for first home buyers, change the mix for purchases of housing and give people a chance.”


The inconvenient truth is that catastrophists are wrong

It should come as a great relief to know the freezing temperatures recently experienced in the northern hemisphere do not signal an end to global warming.

Imagine if mankind’s increasingly costly attempts to arrest CO2 emissions were unnecessary. That the misallocation of productive resources, prolonging the misery of the world’s most vulnerable people, was nothing more than a cynical ideological exercise?

Hopefully, those global warming doubters in Florida watching frozen iguanas falling stiff from the trees now know that while they were freezing, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, little old Penrith in Sydney, Australia, was the warmest spot on the planet, recording its highest temperature ever, having “broken the all-time maximum temperature record for … the Sydney metropolitan area”.

Well, perhaps in all that excitement the bureau can be forgiven for overlooking the fact Penrith Lakes started recording temperatures only in 1995 and for missing a much higher temperature recorded in nearby Richmond in 1939. But they were right. It was hot.

In a hurried piece in Fairfax publications, the Climate Council of Australia’s Will Steffen throws hot water on any misconceptions that may have been drawn from abnormal snowfalls in Britain, Switzerland and Japan, the record-breaking cold snap in Canada and the US, and the expansion of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

He says: “Terms like ‘global warming’ and the mental images they trigger can be misleading when people attempt to understand what is happening to the climate. A far better term is ‘climate disruption’, which captures the real nature of the vast array of changes, many of them abrupt and unexpected, that are occurring.”

So fire and ice, it’s to be expected.

Of course you won’t be surprised to learn Steffen claims “the climate disruption we are increasingly experiencing is not natural. It is caused by the heat-trapping gases we humans are pouring into the atmosphere primarily by the burning of coal, oil and gas.”

On the day Steffen’s opinion piece appeared, this newspaper republished Matt Ridley’s article in The Times claiming “the Earth is very slowly slipping back into a proper ice age”. This confirms research by Henrik Svensmark, Australia’s David Evans and others, who correlated low solar activity (fewer sunspots) and increased cloud cover (as modulated by cosmic rays), with a cooling climate.

Indeed, last year scientists submitted 120 papers linking historical and modern climate change to variations in solar activity.

Steffen wasn’t among them. He says: “Whole ecosystems are succumbing to (human-induced) climate disruption. In 2016 unusually dry and hot conditions triggered massive fires in Tasmania’s World Heritage forests, while ocean circulation patterns have moved ­unprecedented underwater heatwaves around the world, driving the tragic coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.’’

Yet the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt, dismisses many of the claims that he says “misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Peter Ridd from James Cook University goes further, saying: “We can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated, and this is a great shame.”

Steffen’s work could fit this description. He spends much time pushing eco-catastrophism. “Climate disruption” he says “brings growing risks of large-scale migration and conflict as people, particularly the most vulnerable, are forced to deal with increasingly difficult conditions where they live. Some security analysts warn that climate disruption will dwarf terrorism and other conventional threats if present trends continue or worsen.

“Had enough of climate disruption? Then let’s leave our 20th-century thinking behind and get on with the job of rapidly building innovative, clever, carbon-neutral 21st-century societies.”

But Ridley questions the influence of carbon dioxide. He reminds us that: “In 1895 the Swede, Svante Arrhenius, one of the scientists who first championed the greenhouse theory, suggested that the ice retreated because carbon dioxide levels rose, and advanced because they fell. If this was true, then industrial emissions could head off the next ice age. There is indeed a correlation in the ice cores between temperature and carbon dioxide, but inconveniently it is the wrong way round: carbon dioxide follows rather than leads temperature downward when the ice returns.”

But where would manmade global warming “science” be if it relied on just facts? For decades, climate science has been plagued by scandals, deceit and the confessions of whistleblowers.

Penrith’s hyped recording is not new. Scientist and long-time BOM critic Jennifer Marohasy has been calling for an audit and urging Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg “to inform the World Meteorological Organisation that the temperatures recorded by our bureau are not consistent with calibration, nor any international standard”, and, to “direct the bureau to desist from announcing new record hot days”.

Still, institutionalised data bias is a handy default for radical-left eco-catastrophists who have a tendency to extract worst-case scenarios from every weather event.

But despite their best efforts, in the public’s eyes their story is wearing thin. There have been too many false predictions and unwarranted alarmism. People are wising up to the reality that climate science has become an unfalsifiable ideology and resent having their moral conscience questioned should they disagree.

If Ridley is right and the earth is slowly slipping back into a proper ice age, it will be literally cold comfort, not to mention lethal, to keep passing it off as climate disruption.

To survive such an event, our successors will need a plentiful supply of cheap, reliable energy, impossible given today’s intelligentsia’s religious objection to low-cost fossil and nuclear fuels.

It’s not carbon dioxide that threatens us with extinction but blind ideology dressed up as science.


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, January 17, 2018

Australia Day trolls target indigenous activist over support for existing commemoration

Leftist hate never stops. It's Leftists, not Aborigines who want the Australia Day date changed

Former Northern Territory politician Bess Price has hit out at anti-Australia Day activists for fuelling cyber hate towards her daughter after she pushed to keep the national holiday on January 26.

The Australian revealed this morning that Indigenous Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Price has been targeted on social media since she helped former federal Labor leader Mark Latham launch a “Save Australia Day” ad campaign against those arguing it should be moved to a less contentious date.

In a Facebook post, Bess Price said the online vitriol directed at her daughter for “having a different opinion to those who want to remain in their victimhood mentality” was “disgusting”.

“I’m appalled,” she wrote. “All the ‘Welcome to Country’, all the ‘smoking ceremonies’ and all the made up bullshit rituals about ‘pay our respects to elders past and present’ is just one big lie! Shame shame shame!”

She criticised indigenous Australians for bringing their fellow countrymen down, taking aim at former deputy NT chief minister Marion Scrymgour.

Ms Scrymgour has suggested Jacinta Price is preparing to enter federal parliament to replace Nigel Scullion as an NT senator, and stressed that opposing voices “shouldn’t be quiet”.

“The voices in the communities that she continually bad mouths should have a voice too. She is a dud and our mob can see through that,” Ms Scrymgour said in a Facebook post.


Jacinta Price has been subjected to a torrent of vile social media abuse from anti-Australia Day activists over her push to keep the national day on January 26, including wishing her a “painful death” and insulting her disabled nephew.

The Alice Springs councillor said she had been “disgusted to my core” by the online messages she had received, and blamed “middle-class” Australians with indigenous backgrounds for fuelling the cyber hate.

Jacinta Price said the majority of Aborigines living in remote areas did not care about the date of Australia Day nor hold grudges against “white Australians”.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine described the abuse levelled at Ms Price as “disgraceful” and said the public debate over Australia Day was not a first-order issue for Aboriginal communities.

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale yesterday stepped up the minor party’s opposition to celebrating the national day on January 26, describing it as his top issue this year and saying he had told more than 100 Greens councillors across the country they would have his full support to launch campaigns aimed at moving celebrations to another date.

Senator Di Natale said he hoped to build on the momentum of the Greens-led Yarra and Darebin councils in Melbourne and the Fremantle council in Western Australia, all of which shifted Australia Day celebrations last year.

Mr Mundine, who personally believes the date should be changed, described the Greens’ ­renewed push to change the date of Australia Day as a joke. “I’m with Aboriginal communities every month and changing the date isn’t number one, two, three, four, fifth on their agenda,” Mr Mundine said.

“It is education, jobs, it is to get business activity happening, and to get better healthcare.

“If the Greens were fair dinkum they would concentrate on these issues rather than something that is not going to make a difference to anyone.”

Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday said he was disappointed by growing calls to change the date of Australia Day, as the government vowed to ban citizenship ceremonies in council areas that would not hold them on January 26, the date the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour.

“A free country debates its history, it does not deny it,” the Prime Minister said. “I’m disappointed by those who want to change Australia Day, seeking to take a day which unites Australia and Australians and turn it into one which will divide us. Australia Day is a day to come together and celebrate what unites us, what inspires us, what gives all of us reason to be proud that we are Australian.”

Ms Price said she had received at least 80 abusive comments after posting about Australia Day on Facebook, including a message which said: “how bout you f..king die a painful death u sell out cocanut (sic)”.

She told The Australian: “A lot of them are likely to be middle class, they are definitely not from the Territory; they are from other parts of the country and it really exposes the amount of hatred and disdain that I think is hindering progress for Aboriginal people.

“It displays the divide between those that claim to be Aboriginal and Aboriginal people in remote communities. “Bush mob just wouldn’t ­behave or talk in such a way.”

Mr Mundine, former chairman of the Prime Minister’s indigenous advisory council under Tony Abbott and Mr Turnbull, said he had also received abuse from “academic, educated people sitting in Sydney and Melbourne” because of his views on indigenous issues.

“It is totally disgraceful,” Mr Mundine said. “This is coming from people who claim to be against racism, who claim to be against all this bigotry and yet they come out with the most bigoted racial taunts you will see.”

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said it was extraordinary that the Greens had made the date of Australia Day a priority, describing the party as being out of step with mainstream Australia. “Last year elements in the NSW Greens were advocating the burning of the Australian flag,” Mr Tudge said.

“On Australia Day we rightly celebrate the three core features of Australia: our indigenous heritage, our British foundation and our multicultural character.”

Mr Abbott tweeted yesterday: “There are 364 other days a year for the Greens to be politically correct. Why can’t they just ­accept that Jan 26 is the best available day to celebrate all that’s good about life in Australia.”

Bill Shorten, who previously said he would not support changing the date of Australia Day, yesterday would not comment on the Greens renewed push.

In the West Australian surf and wine region of Margaret River south of Perth, Greens mayor Pamela Townshend ­refused to follow Senator Di Natale’s request and impose an alternate date for Australia Day.

Ms Townshend said she had listened to the views of local indigenous men and women — the Wadandi people — as part of preparations for the council’s reconciliation action plan and so far she did not sense that changing the date of Australia Day was their priority. “They haven’t said ‘You have to change the date’; I haven’t felt a big groundswell about this,” she said. “I don’t have a big political agenda over it.”

Ms Townshend will attend three free Australia Day barbecues on January 26 in the Augusta-Margaret River shire.

Ms Price said she had also been targeted by Facebook page Shut Down Australia, following ­reports she might enter federal parliament if Nationals senator Nigel Scullion left.

“This would mean that the modern-day blacktracker would use her comprador white ­supremacy agenda on Blackfellas Australia wide,” it said. “This would place thousands of our people’s lives at risk. Genocide Alert!” [Note the use of Marxist jargon: "comprador"]


End of a free ride for electric cars?

In 2018, Australia's roads are plagued with problems: the long-term decline in the road death toll has slowed, congestion is tipped to increase and long commutes are linked to poor mental health.

And now a multi-billion-dollar road funding black hole looms.

It's caused by the growing popularity of fuel-efficient cars, prompting a multi-generational reset to national roads policy which will change how you pay to drive.

For the people who rely most on their vehicles, that means trouble.

Australians are big users of roads, and they pay for the privilege … even if most don't know exactly how.

Car is by far the most common way to get to work. About two out of three travel to work this way. And that number is increasing — it's up by more than half a million since 2011.

Behind the wheel, pulling out from your garage onto the street, it might seem like access to roads is free.

But the average vehicle is actually charged more than $1,300 by state and federal governments each year, according to information from the Productivity Commission.

That's on top of fees paid directly for toll roads or parking.

The largest component is fuel excise — the tax paid on every litre of petrol, of about 40 cents — which goes to the Federal Government.

All up, governments spend approximately the same amount of money on road infrastructure as they receive from drivers.

At more than $12 billion of new engineering work done for the public sector per year, it's greater than the spending on energy, telecommunications and water combined.

But even with today's road outlays, the cost of congestion — which covers environmental, health and social impacts, plus what you could be spending your time on otherwise — is tipped to increase more than 5 per cent annually over the next 15 years in a recent report by Deloitte.

Fuel excise means — for most drivers at least — the more they drive, the more they pay.

However, low-emission vehicles are letting some drivers get away charge-free.

The CSIRO has predicted revenue coming from fuel excise will drop by almost half by 2050.

Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher argues the current road funding system has "some features that don't seem very fair".

If you are able to buy a $125,000 Tesla, the amount you pay through fuel excise to use the roads is zero.

"If you're buying a 10-year-old Commodore, the amount you're paying is effectively four-and-a-half cents per kilometre."

The Federal Government is looking at ways to more closely link how people use the roads with what they pay.

Mr Fletcher will soon announce the terms of reference of the formal review into this concept, known as "road pricing" or "road user charging", and similar trials for trucks are earmarked for 2018.

The ultimate solution might link how much drivers pay to their car's GPS tracker. Instead of a rough fuel-based taxation method, the result would be accurate to the metre: the further you drive, the more tax you pay.

In a trial in the US state of Oregon, all drivers were charged one-and-a-half US cents per mile — no matter how fuel efficient their car was.

An overhaul of road funding such as this would require support from the states.


Lunch box checks have kids too scared to eat

NUTRITIONISTS are calling for an easing of lunch box policing when school returns next week, claiming the inspections have some children too scared to eat.

With a number of schools around Queensland implementing so-called healthy eating policies to deal with allergies and fight childhood obesity, teachers have been turned into the “food police”, randomly inspecting lunch boxes for items such as lollies, cakes, sweets, chips, nuts and eggs and sending letters to parents who break the rules.

But nutritionists warn the practice has gone too far, with mums and dads stressed out about what to feed their child and children developing fears around food.

“People have been writing in to me on social media saying that their child is afraid to open their lunch box at school because they know the teacher is coming along to inspect the lunch box so they would rather just not eat,” Sunshine Coast nutritionist Tara Leong said.

“The parents are also afraid of what they’re sending to school because they might get a letter home.

“It’s definitely not the way to manage what parents are sending to school in lunch boxes and the health situation in Australia.”

Mrs Leong said labelling food “good” and “bad” could also be destructive to a child’s relationship with food in the long term.

“If the teacher comes along and says, ‘That’s a bad food’, then what this whole ‘bad food, good food’ situation sets up is that the child is then a ‘bad child’ for eating that ‘bad food’ or the mother is a ‘bad mother’ for sending that piece of food, so then there’s this moral link to the food and it shouldn’t be that way,” she said.

Brisbane nutritionist and dietitian Kate Di Prima said schools had gone “berserk” with their food policing, especially when it came to bans of allergy-causing foods.

“To simply fill the lunch box without making everything from scratch has become almost impossible,” she said.

“It’s getting silly because there’s six different allergic (groups), you’ve got nuts, eggs, shellfish, wheat, soy, dairy. Are we going to remove all of that because then we’re left with nothing? Everyone will have a gluten-free, paleo lunch box, which is not balanced for children,” she said.

What does a healthy school lunchbox look like?

The over-policing of lunch boxes and a general confusion among parents over what is healthy has also caused some parents to ditch entire food groups, such as dairy and carbohydrates, from their children’s diets, with potentially dangerous consequences, the experts warn.

“I’m frightened by the amount of children who aren’t being fed carbohydrates,” Mrs Leong said.

“It’s really scary because they need it to be able to think.

“Unless there’s a medical diagnosis that your child needs to maybe eliminate something then there’s no reason to cut it out and doing so can put children at risk of malnutrition.”

Both experts agreed that parents needed to take a simple back-to-basics approach with children’s lunches, opting for fruit and yoghurt for morning tea, and a main meal of healthy carbs, protein and good fats, like an avocado, chicken and salad sandwich.


Becoming a republic is no guarantee of greatness

Slime bucket Keating is so hate-filled that he is driven into irrationality and utterly specious argument

Australia is not a great country says former Labor prime minister Paul Keating. And neither is New Zealand or Canada. Why? Because, according to Keating: “No great state has ever had the monarch of another country as its head of state.”

Millions beg to differ. When Labor last governed the nation, more than 50,000 people risked their lives to arrive, uninvited, on our shores. It’s a fair bet that given half a chance, the rest of the estimated 63.5 million refugees, ­asylum-seekers and internally displaced people would also vote with their feet in favour of Australia compared with the republics from which they are all fleeing.

Because although Keating might not have noticed, of the major source countries of refugees there’s not a monarchy among them, their own or borrowed.

In first place, the Syrian Arab Republic (5½ million refugees), then the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (more than 2½ million), the Republic of South Sudan (almost 1½ million) and the Federal Republic of Somalia (more than one million); in the less than one million category, the Republic of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Eritrea (a ­single-party presidential republic), the Republic of Burundi, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Iraq, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Rwanda, the Ukraine (another republic), the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Mali and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

As for economic migrants, Australia and Canada are two of the top destinations, so much so that 28 per cent of our population is foreign-born as is 22 per cent of the population of Canada.

And the top source countries? All republics — the Republic of India (15.6 million), the United Mexican States (12.3 million), the Russian Federation (10.6 million), the People’s Republic of China (9.5 million) and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (7.2 million).

What makes these republics so great compared with constitutional monarchies, which include Labor’s social democratic pin-ups — Sweden, Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands?

Aha, you might say, the country that has accepted more migrants and refugees than any other is the greatest republic of them all, the United States of America. But that would not gladden Keating, who warns that a popularly elected president would be “a disaster”.

“We could end up with a Don­ald Trump personality as the singular presidential person in Australia,” he wails.

“The mere fact that that person is the only person popularly elected will draw all of the political power. The position of the prime minister and the cabinet will be mightily diminished.” Indeed.

But a former Labor prime minister should be able to see that a head of state appointed by parliament is also fraught with danger. Under such a model, Gough Whitlam could have appointed John Kerr president rather than governor-general, and perhaps been dismissed even more readily, since the president of a new Australian republic might be less likely to feel bound by law and would not be constrained by the weight of convention or precedent since there would be none.

Republics are less stable than monarchies precisely because they are not bound by tradition. France, one of the more successful, has had five republics since the revolution as well as the First and Second French Empires, the Bourbon Restoration and the ­ignoble Vichy regime.

Germany’s Weimar Republic succumbed all too quickly to fascism. As have most of the republics of Latin America and Africa, except for those that have been set up or taken over by communists or other despots who haven’t bothered with an ideology to justify their tyranny.

Keating’s objection to the British monarchy may be rooted, like that of many Australians of Irish descent, in a visceral antipathy towards the English, whom he has railed against for various sins including that during the darkest days of World War II, they “decided not to defend the Malaysian Peninsula, not to worry about Singapore, and not to give us our troops back to keep ourselves free from Japanese domination”.

Keating pays scant regard to the threats Britain was facing — London had been blitzed, the French had surrendered, even the Channel Isles were under the jackboot. Nor does he mention Ireland, “the land of his ancestors”, which cared so little as to whether Australia was invaded, or who won the war, that they didn’t even bother to fight. Indeed, when Hitler committed suicide, the Irish prime minister offered his condolences to the German embassy.

If Australia becomes a republic, there is every reason to hope that it will continue to prosper, thanks to strongly entrenched British institutions. If the nation has not opted for change to date, it is probably thanks to that great Australian principle: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Republicans, on both sides of the political divide, seem determined to ignore that advice rather than focus on the tasks that we elected them to tackle — cutting waste, ending the debt and deficit, keeping the lights on without sending us broke.

In that respect, Keating was right when he said that without a sensible economic policy, Australia will end up being a third rate economy, “a ­banana republic”. Amen to that.


Rising cost of Government services putting the squeeze on households

Government-led costs are squeezing household budgets much more than the private sector, with prices of essential ser­vices such as health and education far outstripping near-­record low inflation.

Outlays on childcare have doubled in the past six years, while primary and secondary education costs for the typical household are up 50 per cent, detailed household budget figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

Overall, households are spending 23 per cent more on ­essential services, with prices influenced by government, than they were five years ago, while spending on goods and services with prices set by the market is up by 15 per cent.

Analysis of the ABS household expenditure survey shows that where essential goods and ser­vices are provided purely by the market, their cost has been held down by the same forces that are keeping inflation below 2 per cent.

Intense competition among supermarkets has kept household spending on food to an increase of 15 per cent over six years, while households are spending almost exactly the same now on clothing as they were in 2009-10.

The household expenditure survey, which is conducted by the ABS every six years, shows spending on income tax rose 45.7 per cent between 2009-10 and 2015-16.

Consultant economist Saul ­Eslake says households are being helped by globalisation, which has brought price reductions for many goods, but are being hit by the escalating cost of services such as health insurance, which act like a tax, at a time when income growth is weak.

Household spending on health insurance has risen 50.7 per cent over the past six years.

Mr Eslake said the rising cost of essential services was hurting households, which are no longer getting any real income growth.

“It is absolutely clear that real income growth has been much flatter since 2012,” he said. Rather than handing out tax cuts, governments have since then been seeking to wind back benefits.

The cost of living has become a hot political issue over the past year, inflamed by the 20 per cent rise in electricity prices and the continuing escalation in the cost of childcare at a time of weak ­income growth. Scott Morrison has vowed this year’s budget will be about reducing living costs while Bill Shorten has attacked the government for its failure to control the cost of ­essential services and says Labor’s policies would rein in rising health, education and housing costs.

Analysis by The Australian of the ABS survey shows there are some areas of discretionary spending that have risen strongly, highlighting choices households are making about how they spend their income. Spending on holidays, for example,­ has risen 46.9 per cent, with overseas travel rising 70 per cent. Eating out at restaurants has risen 38.4 per cent. The ABS has introduced a new category for takeaway coffee, on which households spend an average $4.20 a week.

Households are spending 24.2 per cent less on gambling but 35 per cent more on sports fees and health and fitness charges.

National Australia Bank chief markets economist Ivan Colhoun said if the economy were performing poorly, people would not be lifting spending on holidays or restaurants, but he added budgets were still under pressure.

“If you’ve got the essentials that are government-related growing quickly and discretionary items that people are, for lifestyle reasons, spending more on, by definition what is left would be getting less of the pie.”

Overall households are only spending 6.4 per cent more on recreation than they were six years ago. Where households can, they cut back when prices rise ­excessively.

Mr Eslake noted that households have cut back their use of electricity. Although electricity prices doubled over the six years between the ABS surveys, total spending on electricity rose by 21.4 per cent.

One government-influenced cost that has not risen is mortgage rates, which follow the benchmark set by the Reserve Bank. Spending on mortgage interest has dropped by 1 per cent over the six years, but repayment of principal has soared 43.5 per cent.

“The benefit of lower interest rates has been more than offset by the effect of bigger mortgages. The fact that you need more income to service those mortgages forces people to outsource things like childcare that used to be done in the home,” Mr Eslake said.

Childcare has been the fastest growing item in the household budget, partly reflecting the significant increase in salary and staffing numbers dictated under legislation passed under the former Labor government.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday defended ­reforms to childcare arrangements that take effect from July 1, which will increase the subsidies to childcare centres and abolish the cap on the childcare rebate.

Labor has claimed, on the basis of documents obtained under freedom of information, that the reforms would leave hundreds of thousands of households worse off.

Education costs, which reflect both government and private sector influences, have risen rapidly. Households are spending 50.5 per cent more on primary and secondary education than they were six years ago, while they are spending 30.5 per cent more on tertiary education.

Health costs are taking 25.6 per cent more of the household budget than six years ago. One area where government influence has brought cost control is pharmaceuticals. Households are now spending 5.4 per cent less on medicines and therapeutic appliances than they were in 2009-10.


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