Friday, February 23, 2018

Abbott’s anti-immigration push dead

I think Greg Sheridan is attacking a straw man below.  Abbott would obviously want to direct immigration cuts to individuals who are least likely to adapt well to Australian life but Sheridan pretends that Abbott wants to cut all immigration across the board. I think it is fairly obvious that more selectivity is needed as the way of cutting total numbers.  How else would you do it?

As Malcolm Turnbull meets Donald Trump, former prime minister Tony Abbott’s misguided attack on the immigration program, strongly rejected by conservatives Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison, suggest the populist right in Australia is learning all the wrong lessons from the US President.

It is becoming an increasingly negative force, which measures its puny tactical accomplishments only in what it can stop, never in what it can achieve.

It would be impossible for a journalist to have a higher opinion of Abbott than I do. I regard him as a major figure in Australian political history and have written at length of his government’s achievements, but his attack on the immigration program, which contradicts much of what he did in government, is 100 per cent wrong.

It is wrong in its particulars, and it represents a decline in the quality of Abbott’s political contribution. It looks like populist pandering.

The political leader in Australian history who most comprehensively cut immigration was Gough Whitlam. The other mainstream political force that has typically argued for big immigration cuts is the Greens, and for many of the same reasons as Abbott cites.

That the populist right now finds itself on a unity ticket with Whitlam and the Greens indicates the ultimate sterility and false promise of populist solutions. Abbott has called for a more or less immediate halving of the immigration level — something he never suggested or entertained as prime minister — and blamed immigration for wages stagnation, housing shortages, infrastructure bottlenecks, welfare dependency and other ills.

He cites the high level of welfare dependency of refugees five years after their arrival and conflates this into a general anti-immigration position. However, refugees are very different from skilled immigrants. So long as we choose refugees who will make a personal and political commitment to Australia, we are rich enough to bear the cost.

If Abbott thinks we should cut refugee numbers, fair enough. Argue then for that, not for a general cut in immigration.

As prime minister, Abbott increased our refugee intake. You cannot credibly be Captain Compassion in government when you’re looking for majority support and transform into Harry Hardheart out of government when you are looking for a populist corner of resentment.

Both Dutton and Morrison, who were key ministers under Abbott and once his closest allies, rightly rejected the almost cartoonishly simplistic economic arguments Abbott used to oppose immigration generally.

More supply in the labour market means a lower price for labour, he declared. This really is the territory of the Greens and the trade union movement of a century ago. In that case, we should never have any immigration and we’d all be rich.

In fact, immigration makes the economy bigger and makes, over time, everyone more affluent, provided it’s a well-run program.

Dutton, the cabinet’s leading conservative, yesterday pointed out that with two-thirds of our intake being skilled immigrants, the economic benefits to Australia are very substantial. As the Productivity Commission has pointed out, skilled migration increases productivity.

Abbott is also just plain wrong to say Australia’s program today — 183,000 migrants last year — is a historically high number.

Australia welcomed a net migration of 153,000 people in 1950 when our total population was eight million. Our population is now three times bigger, our immigrant intake merely 30,000 more. In other words, it is a much smaller immigration intake as a percentage of our population today than it was then. And we were much poorer then.

The great immigration of the 1950s and 60s occurred under conservative Australian governments led mostly by Robert Menzies. That was a time when conservatives were nation-builders, not forces of negation and protest.

Abbott is right to say infrastructure, especially roads and houses, has not kept pace in Sydney and Melbourne. This is a bipartisan political failure. State governments Liberal and Labor have been equally ineffective in providing needed infrastructure, as have federal governments of both persuasions.

The wretched populism involved in turning against immigration may yield some resentment-corner political dividends. It will also yield very bad policy for the national interest.


Australian Parents To Take Part In International Sex Ed Sit Out

Australian school children are being increasingly subjected to early sexualisation through programs such as Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships and sex ed shifting from focusing on biology to teaching sex positivity. This is not a uniquely Australian phenomena with sex ed being taught at younger ages and in a lot more graphic detail in nations such as the United States and Canada. These new programs are mandated by governments in public schools with parents getting no say in the matter, if they are told about them at all.

Not surprisingly parents are fighting back against this government overreach in an area which used to be the realm of the parent who could best decide how to teach their children these sensitive topics. Part of the difficultly in challenging such programs is that the masses are not informed about what is contained in them, so much activism involves just communicating to the public the disturbing material contained in them so enough can begin to put pressure on the politicians who sign off on such programs.

To protest against the compulsory nature of the programs parents in the United States are planning a National Sex Ed Sit Out on April 23 where they will pull their children out of school for the day as an act of defiance against the education authorities. The sit out is being promoted by the Activist Mommy (Elizabeth Johnston), an Ohio mother of 10 who is America’s most prominent campaigner against graphic sex ed programs. The concept of a sex ed sit out has spread internationally.

Given Australia’s problems with such programs parents in Australia are planning to take part, the event has been shared on prominent parental activist pages. There is also an effort being undertaken to organise a Parents United for Kids Rally in each state and territory to coincide with the Sex Ed Sit Out for parents to take their message to the people mandating these programs.

The state of Victoria has the worst of these programs with it still teaching the uncensored Roz Ward version of Safe Schools and where the Respectful Relationships program which is supposedly taught to counter domestic violence was born. The Australian Christian Lobby recently presented a a 16,675-signature petition to the Victorian Premier’s Office against the Safe Schools Program. Victoria is facing a state election year with these programs likely to be a prominent campaign issue.

If enough students are absent from school on one day for a reason the education bureaucrats don’t approve of then the sit out will have achieved its goal of making policymakers take note of these parents concerns.


Science or silence? My battle to question doomsayers about the Great Barrier Reef

By Professor Peter Ridd.  His university is desperate to shut him up as he tells basic scientific truth, which they  see as threatening the funding that they have bought with lies and alarmism. Ridd leads the Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Australia and has authored over 100 scientific papers

Around the world, people have heard about the impending extinction of the Great Barrier Reef: some 133,000 square miles of magnificent coral stretching for 1,400 miles off the northeast coast of Australia.

The reef is supposedly almost dead from the combined effects of a warming climate, nutrient pollution from Australian farms, and smothering sediment from offshore dredging.

Except that, as I have said publicly as a research scientist who has studied the reef for the past 30 years, all this most likely isn’t true.

And just for saying that – and calling into question the kind of published science that has led to the gloomy predictions – I have been served with a gag order by my university. I am now having to sue for my right to have an ordinary scientific opinion.

My emails have been searched. I was not allowed even to speak to my wife about the issue. I have been harangued by lawyers. And now I’m fighting back to assert my right to academic freedom and bring attention to the crisis of scientific truth.

The problems I am facing are part of a “replication crisis” that is sweeping through science and is now a serious topic in major science journals. In major scientific trials that attempt to reproduce the results of scientific observations and measurements, it seems that around 50 percent of recently published science is wrong, because the results can’t be replicated by others.

And if observations and measurements can’t be replicated, it isn’t really science – it is still, at best, hypothesis, or even just opinion. This is not a controversial topic anymore – science, or at least the system of checking the science we are using, is failing us.

The crisis started in biomedical areas, where pharmaceutical companies in the past decade found that up to 80 percent of university and institutional science results that they tested were wrong. It is now recognized that the problem is much more widespread than the biomedical sciences. And that is where I got into big trouble.

I have published numerous scientific papers showing that much of the “science” claiming damage to the reef is either plain wrong or greatly exaggerated. As just one example, coral growth rates that have supposedly collapsed along the reef have, if anything, increased slightly.

Reefs that are supposedly smothered by dredging sediment actually contain great coral. And mass bleaching events along the reef that supposedly serve as evidence of permanent human-caused devastation are almost certainly completely natural and even cyclical.

These allegedly major catastrophic effects that recent science says were almost unknown before the 1980s are mainly the result of a simple fact: large-scale marine science did not get started on the reef until the 1970s.

By a decade later, studies of the reef had exploded, along with the number of marine biologists doing them. What all these scientists lacked, however, was historical perspective. There are almost no records of earlier eras to compare with current conditions. Thus, for many scientists studying reef problems, the results are unprecedented, and almost always seen as catastrophic and even world-threatening.

The only problem is that it isn’t so. The Great Barrier Reef is in fact in excellent condition. It certainly goes through periods of destruction where huge areas of coral are killed from hurricanes, starfish plagues and coral bleaching. However, it largely regrows within a decade to its former glory. Some parts of the southern reef, for example, have seen a tripling of coral in six years after they were devastated by a particularly severe cyclone.

Reefs have similarities to Australian forests, which require periodic bushfires. It looks terrible after the bushfire, but the forests always regrow. The ecosystem has evolved with these cycles of death and regrowth.

The conflicting realities of the Great Barrier Reef point to a deeper problem. In science, consensus is not the same thing as truth. But consensus has come to play a controlling role in many areas of modern science. And if you go against the consensus you can suffer unpleasant consequences.

The main system of science quality control is called peer review. Nowadays, it usually takes the form of a couple of anonymous reviewing scientists having a quick check over the work of a colleague in the field.

Peer review is commonly understood as painstaking re-examination by highly qualified experts in academia that acts as a real check on mistaken work. It isn’t.  In the real world, peer review is often cursory and not always even knowledgeable. It might take reviewers only a morning to do.

Scientific results are rarely reanalyzed and experiments are not replicated. The types of checks that would be routine in private industry are just not done.

I have asked the question: Is this good enough quality control to make environmental decisions worth billions of dollars that are now adversely affecting every major industry in northeast Australia?

Our sugar industry has been told to make dramatic reductions in fertilizer application, potentially reducing productivity; our ports have dredging restrictions that threaten their productivity; scientists demand that coal mines be closed; and tourists are scared away because the reef is supposedly almost dead – not worth seeing anymore.

Last August I made this point on Sky News in Australia in promotion of a chapter I wrote in “Climate Change: The Facts 2017,” published by the Australian free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

“The basic problem is that we can no longer trust the scientific organizations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, even things like the 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 because we really need to be able to trust our scientific institutions and the fact is I do not think we can any more,” I said.

The response to these comments by my employer, James Cook University, was extraordinary. Rather than measured argument, I was hit with a charge of academic serious misconduct for not being “collegial.”

University authorities told me in August I was not allowed to mention the case or the charges to anybody – not even my wife.

Then things got worse. With assistance from the Institute of Public Affairs, I have been pushing back against the charges and the gag order – leading the university to search my official emails for examples of where I had mentioned the case to other scientists, old friends, past students and my wife.

I was then hit with 25 new allegations, mostly for just mentioning the case against me. The email search turned up nothing for which I feel ashamed. You can see for yourself.

We filed in court in November. At that point the university backed away from firing me. But university officials issued a “Final Censure” in my employment file and told me to be silent about the allegations, and not to repeat my comments about the unreliability of institutional research.

But they agreed that I could mention it to my wife, which was nice of them.

I would rather be fired than accept these conditions. We are still pursuing the matter in court.

This case may be about a single instance of alleged misconduct, but underlying it is an issue even bigger than our oceans. Ultimately, I am fighting for academic and scientific freedom, and the responsibility of universities to nurture the debate of difficult subjects without threat or intimidation.

We may indeed have a Great Barrier Reef crisis, but the science is so flawed that it is impossible to tell its actual dimensions. What we do know for certain is that we have an academic freedom crisis that threatens the true life of science and threatens to smother our failing university system.


Must not address women as 'darling'

South Australian Liberal MP Tim Whetstone has come under fire after calling another election candidate 'darling' during a public meeting.

At a forum at Renmark in the Riverland yesterday, Mr Whetstone told SA Best candidate Michelle Campbell to "get a brief, darling" after she described regional Port Pirie as being a marginal seat.

It prompted a member of the audience to call out Mr Whetstone's actions as "aggressive and sexist", and he went on to apologise.

But on ABC Riverland today, Ms Campbell said she had received no personal apology, despite his public backdown at the meeting.

"I can understand he is trying to make a point of difference and he is trying to be noticed," Ms Campbell said. "It's always a bit tricky sometimes for men when there are women stepping up and trying to be leaders in the community."

Ms Campbell said she approached the audience member who spoke up at the meeting to thank her.


Turns Out Australia’s Anti-Piracy Legislation Is Actually Working?

Remember when The Pirate Bay and a bunch of other torrenting  sites were blocked in Australia back in December 2016? Well, despite the naysaying at the time, it looks like the strategy is sort of working to prevent piracy.

A new report released today by Incopro, a company that specialises in research on intellectual property, reportedly shows that Australian traffic to the blocked sites has dropped by 53 percent in the last year.

It’s more than just a couple of blocked sites too. Since the government passed legislation making it easier for websites to be blocked, film and TV copyright holders have been going absolutely gangbusters with their court orders, succeeding in getting hundreds of sites blocked by internet service providers.

I mean, sure, many of those sites are just different web addresses you can access The Pirate Bay at (this whole blocking system is a little like whack-a-mole), but still.

Anyway, the findings about the piracy reduction are a little surprising, given the criticism the ban faced when it was first being considered. At the time, opponents pointed out that the blocking system is fairly easy to bypass, and that other countries that tried a ban had reportedly just inspired more people to visit sites like The Pirate Bay.

Who knows, maybe Australians are just lazy. Or maybe it has something to do with the streaming services that have become available down under since the piracy bans. Incopro’s full report doesn’t seem to be available to the public yet, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.


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...

"Ms Campbell said. "It's always a bit tricky sometimes for men when there are women stepping up and trying to be leaders in the community."

Joan Kirner, Carmen Lawrence, Julia Gillard, Hanson-Young, Plibersek....where would we be without these great pillars of blameless womanhood.