Monday, January 08, 2018

Lex Lasry immigration tweet ‘risks impartiality of court’

The tweet was typical Leftism and as such creates great doubt over the judge's reasoning capacity:  He ridiculed a comment by misrepresenting it.  He wrote as if the minister had said NOBODY was brave enough to go out to dinner, which is not what the minister said at all.  Such "straw man" arguments are a leftist specialty

Victorian Supreme Court judge Lex Lasry risked “profoundly compromising” the impartiality of the court when he entered the political arena by riffing on a comment by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, the state’s opposition says.

Justice Lasry weighed into the debate about youth gang violence when he tweeted on Wednesday evening: “Breaking: there are citizens out to dinner in Mansfield tonight and they’re not worried.”

The comment was a direct rebuke of Mr Dutton’s remarks on Sydney radio the same day when he said people in Melbourne were afraid to go out for dinner at local restaurants.

Victoria’s opposition legal affairs spokesman, John Pesutto, said Justice Lasry’s remarks were “problematic”.

“It is deeply problematic for any sitting judge to enter the political fray by commenting on contentious issues on social media,” he told The Weekend Australian.

“Mr Lasry has to decide whether he wants to be known as His Honour or Lex. To tread into highly political matters risks profoundly compromising the standing and impartiality of the court.

“Respectfully, I think His Honour should consider closing his Twitter account or, at least, make sure he stays away from highly political matters.”

Labor’s Attorney-General, Martin Pakula, declined to comment on whether Justice Lasry should be excused from such cases in the future.

The intervention by Justice Lasry came during a heated debate about the youth crime rate, and prevalence of African youths as perpetrators of crime.

On Friday police vowed to catch up to a dozen young men of African descent behind a violent crime spree in Melbourne’s west, including an attack on a 59-year-old woman, who was hit and forced to watch as the group ransacked the property she was house-sitting.

One Hoppers Crossing family told The Weekend Australian they were now so afraid of letting their daughters walk to catch the school bus or visit the local shopping centre after being terrorised by local youths, they were now moving interstate.

“It sounds stupid, but when you’ve got a 15-year-old daughter and you know a gang is heckling her from the park and threatening her as she walks home, what are you meant to do?” Dannielle Beaton said. “We’re just sick of feeling ­unsafe.”


Piers Akerman: Australia’s energy security is the greatest threat to our survival

THE greatest threat to our ­security is not Islamic State, it’s not African gangs, it’s not even the drug-addled Islamist idiots targeting pedestrians.

No, the clear and present danger to the nation comes from the failure to ensure our own energy security.

Australia is the ninth-­largest energy producer in the world with massive renewable and non-renewable energy ­resources yet it can’t guarantee energy supply to its industries and domestic users.

This is a failure of policy at both state and federal levels caused by supine subservience to the faddish global warmers.

Forget renewables and batteries, like South Australia, which relies on huge diesel back-up or the pie-in-the-sky pumped hydro that requires more power than it produces to keep its reserves ready.

We just aren’t tapping our reliable coal or uranium ­reserves as we should be.

That’s why we must rely on imported fuel to exist as a nation and why we are hostage to others.

Not only are we heavily dependent on imported refined petroleum products and crude oil to meet day-to-day demands, we rely on foreign ships to deliver this economy-sustaining energy and we aren’t meeting our international obligation to hold a 90-day supply in reserve.

We are the only nation that doesn’t meet this International Energy Agency reserve threshold and we hold less than half the required fuel volumes.

We invest around $30 billion a year in defence but that’s meaningless if we can’t provide necessary energy security.

A recent study estimated that the less than 45-day ­reserve of fuel would mean that food supply transport would run for about nine days, pharmaceutical supplies would be hit in three and the military might have fuel for 17.

One of the legends of the Australian maritime industry, Captain Harry Mansson, pointed out even the name Australian National Line — ANL — has been sold to French interests and is headquartered in Marseilles.

Captain Mansson has suggested that Australia move ­towards becoming independent of foreign transporters by purchasing four second-hand Very Large Crude Carriers of about 300,000 DWT each, about five years old and with European-standard accommodation for our Australian crews, with the promised union acceptances before anything is finalised.

He said such ships average about 15 years of unrestricted trade, so the five-year age would give us 10 years with the four ships alone. Allowing one month for a round trip they would make 48 trips annually between them, carrying some 14 million tonnes of fuel, which is about 41 per cent of the total.

Unfortunately, his attempts to communicate with the government have been frustrated whereas Opposition leader Bill Shorten has opened a dialogue.

This is interesting but don’t expect too much from Shorten who is reliant for survival on the votes of the militant Maritime Union of Australia, whose totally unrealistic demands on wages and conditions for its members were instrumental in killing Australian commercial shipping.

Captain Mansson said that as we are an island nation it is critical that Australia has its own flagged fleet in times of crisis, on which we can rely to handle our crucial imports.

Notwithstanding the history of the bloody-minded maritime unions, Shorten is determined to make political capital with his calls for a new Australian shipping industry.

“It was for these economic, national security and environmental reasons that the former federal Labor government was so determined to rebuild Australia’s shipping industry following years of neglect,” he told Mansson.

“For Australian shipping companies the package included a zero tax rate, more generous accelerated depreciation arrangements, rollover relief for selected capital assets, new tax incentives to employ Australian seafarers and an exemption from the Royalty Withholding Tax for ‘bareboat’ leased vessels.

“To further strengthen the local industry, an International Shipping Register was created, allowing operators of Australian-flagged vessels to employ mixed Australian and foreign crews on internationally agreed rates and conditions.

“These measures were based on the extensive reform programs that had already been implemented by other maritime nations including the United Kingdom, Japan, China and Denmark.

“Importantly, Labor’s changes did not preclude the use of foreign vessels. They simply required firms needing to move freight between Australian ports to first seek out an Australian operator. When none were available, foreign vessels could be used so long as they paid Australian-level wages on domestic sectors.

“However, for Labor’s suite of reforms to work, they needed time. Unfortunately, even before they took effect the ­Coalition sought to undermine them. Their attacks were calculated to create uncertainty and doubt in the minds of those considering investing in the Australian industry as to the durability of the regulatory changes and the new tax ­incentives.

All of us want to ­reduce the cost of doing business in Australia — but not at any cost. Particularly if that cost is the destruction of a strategically significant industry and the loss of a highly skilled workforce — and that’s precisely what the Coalition’s 2015 legislation would have done. The legislation put ideology ahead of the national interest.”

National interest was never foremost in the minds of those running the union movement however, as the sabotage of war matériel and undermining of the war effort during WWII demonstrated.

Unless we act to provide ­security for fuel we will be ­unable to access the resources the health industry relies on; food production and distribution would halt, few businesses could operate.

Personal and public transport wouldn’t function, defence force operations would be severely restricted. Our society would be paralysed.

We cannot afford to be held hostage by the union movement as we have been in the past or by foreign interests.

The Coalition must demonstrate leadership now and present a realistic strategy for energy independence.


Push for the International Baccalaureate to be in NSW public schools

The IB is not exactly the answer to a maiden's prayer but its curriculum is less dumbed down than many others

The NSW Department of Education is investigating how other states offer the International Baccalaureate in public schools in a signal that NSW could introduce the diploma as an alternative to the HSC.

NSW is the only state in Australia that does not allow the IB in any public schools but the diploma has been growing in popularity in private schools across Sydney, with 14 schools last year offering the program in year 12 and several others introducing it into their primary years.

The IB, founded in 1968 in Geneva, is described as a program to achieve the "intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalising world" and is designed for students who have "excellent breadth and depth of knowledge".

The president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, Chris Presland, said the IB would be a "worthwhile option" in NSW public schools.

"There is no doubt that the HSC remains the most highly regarded credential in Australia and it is also very respected overseas," Mr Presland said. "But I think the IB would also be a worthwhile credential and something that could be made available to any school that wants it."

Mr Presland said providing choice to public school students would be welcomed by most principals and schools.

IB students in Australia received their results on Thursday, with 22 achieving a perfect score of 45. Several of those students were from NSW.

Students must study English, maths, science, a language, a humanities and a theory of knowledge subject, as well as doing a 4000-word essay of their choice. They also complete a community service, physical activity and creativity program similar to the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

The department's Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation is reviewing how other states run the IB program in their public schools.

In Queensland, three public selective schools offer an IB-only program for students in years 10 to 12, while in Victoria, two government high schools, Albert Park College and Werribee Secondary College, offer the diploma.

In South Australia, the only student to achieve a perfect IB score this year went to a public high school.

The IB co-ordinator for NSW and ACT, Antony Mayrhofer, said the introduction of the three public selective IB schools in Queensland had been very successful. "The IB is not for all students but at the moment it is financially selective for students in NSW," Mr Mayrhofer said. "If the IB was in the government sector, it would offer students choice."

Around the world, more than 50 per cent of the 170,000 students who do the IB attend a government school and between 2012 and 2017, the number of IB programs offered worldwide has grown by almost 40 per cent.

Mr Mayrhofer, who is also director of learning at St Paul's Grammar School, said introducing an alternative curriculum could be costly but Australia routinely performed well in the diploma, which is described as offering a more rounded way of studying and providing a strong preparation for university.


Gesture politics blocks the nation’s path to progress

We temper our expectations for the coming year because we have become inured by a shambolic lack of direction in our political leadership, public debate and media dissection. Expectations have been raised so often and so seldom met that it is difficult to discern reality from the social media zeitgeist, let alone identify the root causes of our malaise.

Is it a lack of quality personnel in our parliaments? Are we filling parliaments from a narrowing gene pool of professional politicians, turning our backs on broader experience from lives lived? Can we blame the increasing superficiality in our fractured and commercially challenged media? Or should we look to an education system driven more by fashion and progressive posturing than it is by tangible outcomes and building on our civilisational legacy? Some will blame the Balkanised feuding that infects the public debate through social media and its vicious trolls.

Have the political parties lost touch with the mainstream or has the mainstream become insular? Does compulsory voting grant a casting vote on every issue to the disengaged? Or have we turned our backs on the major parties because they have lost their way? Are the core challenges of economic management, fiscal restraint and maintaining social order too difficult for modern politicians to manage or too boring to keep them focused? Are governments trying to do too much because they can’t undertake what really matters, or are voters demanding too much from government because we have surrendered a sense of self-reliance?

In a nation as blessed as ours it is incongruous that our political/media class has an over-abundance of ambition when it comes to futile gestures that pretend to save the planet yet lacks sufficient will to control what is within its grasp by trimming spending to sustainable levels or redressing the social and economic disadvantage that still bedevils our indigenous people? Our priorities seem skewed.

We have safe injecting rooms for heroin addicts in which it is illegal to smoke a cigarette. We defend the rights of drug addicts on methadone to drive their cars while we intervene to prevent pensioners from obtaining Nurofen Plus from their chemist without a prescription from their doctor. And we whinge about the cost of Medicare.

We impose costly renewable energy subsidies on electricity users and then offer additional welfare to families who can’t afford their power bills. We take policy decisions aimed at ensuring coal generation and other “dirty” industries are no longer financially viable, then we lament the loss of manufacturing jobs. We look to subsidise new industries to reboot the towns and regions made redundant. And we buy diesel generators to make up the energy shortfall.

We build up a successful immigrant culture based on orderly migration, yet those who argue most strongly for multiculturalism push for an open-slather approach to border control that would undermine all that has been achieved. We build an economy partly based on our cheap energy advantage but decide to turn ourselves into a high-cost energy nation that exports its cheap energy and its carbon emissions overseas. Carbon emissions still rise globally, but we pat ourselves on the back.

Apart from absurdity, you will struggle to find a common thread that links these and other public policy paradoxes. Surely the biggest challenge for 2018 is to work out what is wrong with our national affairs in order to do better. The past decade has been one of waste and dysfunction. Perhaps we are getting close to identifying the key. It is not simply left versus right, pragmatism versus ideology or even jejune fashions versus the wisdom of experience — although, in part, it is all those things. I think the organising principle here is public gesture.

Gesture politics has become the cancer of our system. It is running rampant now because social media has become to the media/political class what steroids were to sport. The digitalised media has become the short-term artificial performance enhancer of politics that has broken records and thrilled the crowds but has destroyed individual participants and, unchecked, will eventually kill the entire contest. Fuelled by instant social media adulation or admonition, our politicians, commentators, academics and analysts focus increasingly on gestures rather than outcomes.

Public figures such as these devise, support, endorse, enact and prescribe policies based not so much on their likely effectiveness but on what they demonstrate about the intentions of their proponents. Hence you back a carbon tax not because it will save the planet but because supporting it identifies you as someone who wants to save the planet.

Gesture politics works hand-in-hand with identity politics. They are part of the same prism where politics is about our self-image rather than about outcomes. It doesn’t matter whether a carbon tax works or not, it has done its job by providing a vehicle for its supporters to demonstrate their virtue. A gesture made is a policy goal achieved.

Business is not immune. Banks ban investments in projects or sectors — often related to coal — not based on financial fundamentals but because of what the investment will do for the image of the bank — and to inoculate against a looming social media campaign if they back the bottom line.

This triumph of gesture over judgment is the only way to explain our national obsession with climate-change policy. Surely even our Greens MPs can’t be deluded enough to think Australia’s emissions reductions can have any discernible impact on the global environment. And no one could deny the increased costs forced on to domestic consumers and industry. Families face financial hardship and people lose jobs in coal-fired power stations, mines, manufacturing or myriad associated small businesses in order to make a national gesture.

Both major parties are committed to the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets, despite the US abandoning them and most countries — in particular China — being asked to do nothing. Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten never tell us what their climate policies will achieve for the climate or the planet — policy outcomes are superfluous; they just tell us they will meet their Paris climate objectives. The gesture is everything.

Workers can lose their jobs and pensioners can struggle to pay their power bills while politicians get to identify with ill-defined but fashionable campaigns to save the planet — while global emissions rise. Having severely distorted our energy market with mandatory renewable energy targets, the proposed solution from the Coalition is to impose a national energy guarantee, which is a market intervention that imposes an obligation to provide the reliability of supply that has been undercut by the previous intervention.

Of the three stated energy imperatives — reliability, affordability and emissions reductions — only two have practical necessity. We need affordable and reliable power but those requirements are compromised by the aim of reducing emissions. Our pragmatic needs are made hostage to a climate gesture that can have no beneficial impact on the planet (we are reducing our 1.3 per cent of global carbon emissions to about 1.1 per cent while the global total rises). Yet the domestic economic harm is demonstrable.

No goal is achieved except that of demonstrating global warming awareness to a domestic political audience and a global diplomatic coterie. Gesture politics.

Pressed for any economic advantage the proponents are left with an embarrassing line about “first-mover” advantages that doesn’t withstand scrutiny. If renewable and battery storage technology is advancing as rapidly as the proponents like to suggest, then the smartest thing for Australia to do would be to sweat our carbon-fuelled energy assets and stall our new generation investments until we can go straight to a proven and cheap renewable-storage model. But there is no gesture to be had in prudent inaction.

Still, the disease runs much deeper. The rationale for bidding wars on education funding has nothing to do with schooling outcomes — indeed, data disproving the correlation between school spending and outcomes abounds.

Our education spending has grown dramatically over recent decades while our comparative performance has declined. From Gonski to the Orwellian jingoism of the Building the Education Revolution, the imperative has not been better educated kids but more dramatic gestures of education as a priority.

We pay extra taxes so the politicians can parade on street corners like the Pharisees.

Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey foolishly broke a “no new taxes” promise by introducing a temporary debt levy. Was it designed to fix the budget? Of course not. It was a gesture to demonstrate their desire to spread the pain of fiscal repair. It was designed to mollify the left and spectacularly misfired. Now Labor promises to reimpose it permanently as an additional “tax on the rich”. The Coalition would have done better to have the courage of its low tax convictions, and its claim that the government has a spending rather than a revenue problem.

State governments and supermarkets ban plastic bags not because it will end litter but because it provides them with an opportunity to posture about their opposition to litter. Local councils used to get above their station by declaring themselves nuclear-free zones, now they dabble in the global tinderbox of the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio by flirting with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Clearly they do not do this because they believe they can help resolve the conflict but because they want to make a gesture about their own sensibilities. Most of us hate cruelty to animals but how on earth can you demonstrate such virtue and appeal to like-minded people on Twitter and Facebook? Perhaps by banning the live cattle trade or scrapping the entire greyhound racing industry. Gestures of rare genius.

Don’t like obesity and want to make a sanctimonious gesture? Trumpeting a sugar tax is for you. Oppose litter but are worried people don’t know you always put your rubbish in a bin? Join the campaign to outlaw helium-filled balloons for kids. Or devise a return-and-earn scheme for drink containers. No policy is worth backing unless it gives you a platform to signal your virtue.

One day we will get over this stuff and focus on core policy objectives along with competent implementation. Sadly, I don’t think this will be the year.


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

1 comment:

Paul said...

Lex Lasry. Wonder if he's a friend or colleague of Barbra Specter?