Monday, March 05, 2018

Leftists are basically all the same

Tasmania has just had an election in which the conservatives won. So how did the Tasmanian Left handle the defeat?  There is no doubt that the issues for tiny Tasmania, tucked away at the bottom of the world, are much less portentous than the issues for the great world power that is the USA.  So surely we could expect that the response of the Tasmanian Left would be much less embittered and rage-filled than the response of the American Left when Donald beat Hillary?

It was not to be.  The big issue in the Tasmanian campaign was the hardly earth-shattering question of whether gambling machines should be permitted.  Despite that, the defeated Tasmanian Left erupted in anger and bad grace, accusing the conservatives of not having won fair and square. 

So this similarity of results between Tasmania and the USA despite very different circumstances confirms that we have to go down to the psychological level to understand the Left.  We have to face the fact that Leftists are born full of anger and hostility to the people around them.  Reality doesn't interest them.  They just hate it all.

Excerpt from a news report follows:

[Federal] Trade Minister Steven Ciobo has attacked the “extraordinarily ungracious” concession speech by Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White, calling Labor’s claims the Hodgman campaign was bankrolled by gaming companies as “sour grapes” and “absurd”.

Tasmania’s Hodgman Liberal government has been re-elected with a majority, after voters turned away from the Greens and shunned the Jacqui Lambie Network.

Ms White congratulated Premier Will Hodgman this morning after neglecting to do so in her concession speech last night.

“I’m incredibly proud of the Tasmanian Labor campaign, our candidates and the values and issues we fought for. We didn’t get there this time but we can hold our heads high.”

The Tasmanian Left too put up a woman for the top job, the blonde bombshell Rebecca White.  Once again the Feminist theory that women will vote for another woman falls flat

[Federal Leftist leader] Bill Shorten also added his congratulations, but not without throwing in a pointed barb.

“Rebecca White and her team ran a positive, issues-focused campaign that reflected the best Labor values, against the Liberals who were backed by well-resourced special interests,” the federal Labor lader said in a statement.

“Bec has shown herself to be an energetic campaigner, and a strong and effective leader with a bright future ahead of her.”

Earlier Mr Ciobo said he was disappointed by the Labor response to losing the Tasmanian election last night, calling the party hypocritical given the amount of campaign money it receives from unions.

“I also find it frankly quite extraordinary that the Australian Labor Party, who are effectively a bought subsidiary of the union movement, would for a second start accusing anybody else of throwing too much money at a problem or advertising in excess of the amount that they can advertise,” Mr Ciobo told Sky News.

“I mean seriously? That is probably the most absurd thing I have heard in quite a while from the Australian Labor Party.”

Mr Hodgman claimed victory at 10.30pm on Saturday, thanking voters for sticking with his government, providing it a second term in majority.

While his opponents claimed the government had been purchased by advertising paid for by poker machine interests, Mr Hodgman said voters had rewarded the Liberals for “kickstarting” the economy.

Opposition leader Rebecca White conceded defeat but failed to congratulate Mr Hodgman, instead praising voters for putting his government “on notice”.

“The Tasmanian people have put this Liberal government on notice: today marks a new era in Tasmanian politics,” Ms White said.

“People want transparent, good government that is going to benefit them and not somebody’s rich mate.”

She said the Hodgman government was “nearly defeated” and blamed the cashed-up campaign against Labor by poker machine interests for the party’s failure to secure a better result.

“The Tasmanian people should be represented by the best representatives; not the richest,” she said, accusing the Liberal Party of “buying” seats in the parliament.


Christians push to reclaim mardi gras origins

Sydney will have two mardi gras after the organisers of the Sydney Easter Parade, who expect 10,000 people to march and dance through the city on Easter Monday, said they were out to reclaim the Christian origins of the celebration.

Tomorrow, with Cher headlining, about 15,000 people are expected to take part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary and is expected to draw more than 300,000 spectators.

Sydney Easter Parade and Family Day director Ben Irawan said from this year, the parade would brand itself as a “mardi gras for Christians”.

“We don’t want to oppose or contend with the gay mardi gras, but I want Christians to be able to celebrate and take some ownership of what was originally a Christian feast day before lent,” he said.

Mardi gras, or “Fat Tuesday” traces is origins to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. From there, it followed France to its colonies, and became most famous in New Orleans, first as an elegant society ball and then as the colourful, voodoo-infused parade of today.

Mr Irawan said the Easter mardi gras was open to Christians of all denominations, as well as non-Christians who wanted a fun and colourful family day out.

“We have giant inflatables, things like Noah’s ark and letters spelling ‘HOPE’ 4m high,” he said. We have marching bands, dancers, colourful costumes. So it really is a mardi gras already, but we want to make the connection more strongly.”

Mr Irawan, a marketing and events expert, is also the pastor of Life Centre International church in Sydney and Wollongong, as well as senior strategy adviser in NSW for Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives.

But anyone hoping to see Senator Bernardi as a bearded Noah or heavenly angel would be disappointed. “Cory won’t be marching. This is a family fun day, so we keep the politics out of it,” Mr Irawan said. “It’s a community event.”

The parade’s Facebook page proclaims: “We celebrate the true meaning of Easter — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We feel that (the 2018 event) is the sounding of the trumpet to gather God’s people during a time when darkness is covering the earth.”

This year’s parade starts at 11am in Hyde Park and takes in Market, George and Park streets, followed by an afternoon of music, performance and food stalls in the park.

Christians and the gay Mardi Gras haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Until recently, NSW Legislative Council member and minister Fred Nile would lead a prayer for rain on the eve of the parade. In January 2008, Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Robert Forsyth condemned Corpus Christi for opening the Mardi Gras with Judas seducing a gay Jesus.

A Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras spokesman said: “There are many members of the LGBTQI community that hold a wide range of religious beliefs with Christianity being among them.

“Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras welcome many faith based organisations, their LGBTQI members and allies to walk in the Parade and for the 40th anniversary celebrations we will have groups such as Mormon Temple of Equality, Wayside Chapel, Uniting Network, Dayenu and Acceptance Sydney for Gay and Lesbian Catholics joining us on Parade night.

“Mardi Gras’ are historically a celebration and the very heart of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is diversity and inclusion so we wish the Sydney Easter Parade and Family Day organisers well in their own Mardi Gras endeavours.”


New coal mine:  Labor Party leader shown up as an opportunist too smart by half

The Adani project has become a turning point in the contest over political, cultural and financial power in Australia. It is an iconic test of strength between the growing progressive/green lobby and the Turnbull government-backed pro-development forces with long-run consequences.

“This is the biggest environmental campaign ever run in this country and one of the biggest campaigns in the world,” former Australian Conservation Foundation director Geoffrey Cousins told The Australian. “It has got international attention from The New York Times to The Financial Times.

“It is a landmark event. The campaign is about climate change, global warming and protecting the Great Barrier Reef. Adani would be the biggest coalmine in this country. In my view the project is dead in the water, but you don’t stop until it sinks. Nobody is going to fund this mine. Financial institutions watch their reputation and if you damage your reputation then your shareholder value drops.”

The Labor Party, though beset by internal divisions, is essentially working to undermine Adani with its mantra that the project “doesn’t stand up financially” — a blatant appeal to no confidence that prejudges a commercial result about an approved project.

Political opponents are playing with fire. This issue has consequences for the viability of regulatory approvals, foreign investment, the coal industry and regional Queensland’s economic outlook.

The proof of the near triumph of anti-Adani sentiment is the convoluted, expedient yet unmistakeable shift of Bill Shorten. Once pro-Adani, the Opposition Leader has been galvanised by the Batman by-election and public mood to tilt his position against the project while still paying lip service to pro-coal opinion in regional Queensland.

Shorten’s character as an opportunist has rarely been so embarrassingly exposed. On display is his compulsion to offer conflicting messages to different constituencies for electoral gain, the antithesis of any politics of principle.

In the process, Shorten got caught out from his trip and dialogue with a calculating Cousins, whose ruthless skill as an environmental advocate is legend. The two principals have different versions but, according to Cousins, Shorten not only sought advice but signalled his willingness to change Labor policy — instead of letting Adani die from lack of funds, Shorten lurched towards a policy that he would revoke its licence as prime minister.

This would have been filled with traps — Shorten would have been cast as killing agent for a project that he feels cannot survive anyway. Whether Shorten reassessed or was persuaded by colleagues, by week’s end the flirtation with Cousins was in a polite retreat of sorts.

Cousins explained what happened from his dialogue with Shorten: “I believe he wanted to have a firmer policy on Adani but in some way he was held back by his colleagues. He had given me a precise timeline about the announcement of his stance. He told me he wouldn’t do it in his National Press Club address at the start of the year but that I shouldn’t be concerned about that. He said he would do it in Queensland and would make the announcement in Queensland the following week.

“He subsequently rang me to explain that he would need more time. I think he was having difficulty with his colleagues. I said OK. I mean, that’s his job. But I felt it was best to keep the pressure on. My experience is that keeping the pressure on is the only course that ever delivers anything.”

In late January, Cousins had hosted Shorten on a $17,000 tour of the reef and a flight over the Adani mine site. “Shorten could see precisely where he was snorkelling and what had happened to the reef,” Cousins said. “We flew over the mine site and there’s nothing there, just a couple of buildings, it’s a lot of nonsense.”

Given the delay, Cousins ­decided to turn up the heat. He dropped his bombshell on the ABC’s 7.30 with Leigh Sales on Tuesday night. Cousins said Shorten assured him “when we are in government, if the evidence is as compelling as it appears now, we will revoke the licence in accordance with the law”.

This is what Cousins wanted to hear: a different and tougher Labor stand that he hoped might settle the issue. Cousins said there was no mistake — the statement was delivered precisely this way at least a half-dozen times. Shorten believes this version is highly exaggerated: he wanted assistance and advice from Cousins; he has no time for the mine; he believes it will fall over; he wanted to explore options but he will not create sovereign risks or break contracts.

According to Cousins, Shorten said he would take the issue to the shadow cabinet. Cousins also gave Shorten legal opinions ­obtained by the ACF to the effect that under the law, revocation can occur if an issue is revealed that was not identified when ­approval was ­initially given that would otherwise have resulted in that ­approval being denied. Given this law, Cousins said, “in this situation the risk sits with the company — it is not a sovereign risk”.

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg repudiates any claim the grounds exist for revocation. Frydenberg told Sky News this week his advice was that no such new information was available.

“Here’s the critical point,” Frydenberg said. “That ­information is not at hand. So there is now not a case for the revocation under section 145. Shorten knows that but because of the Batman by-election he’s trying to be all things to all people.”

Frydenberg’s advice exposes the high risk Shorten would run if he pledged revocation or to explore revocation in office. This would constitute a short-term fix but a major folly. A number of senior Labor figures warn of the serious political risks in this position. It would be a gift to the Turnbull government with the potential to swing sentiment against the anti-Adani camp.

Despite Cousins’s argument, it would raise certain issues of sovereign risk. The government would mount this argument. It would ­assert Shorten was prepared to pose a sovereign investment risk in the cause of winning green votes in the inner city.

The politically smart position for Labor is obvious — let the project expire because of lack of funding but avoid any pledge from opposition or act in office that sees Labor assume accountability for revocation. This would open a Pandora’s box — if Labor moved to kill the Carmichael mine then what other coal proposals or ventures would be safe and what would be the investment consequences?

As a governing party presiding over a substantial coal industry by world standards, Labor must build product discrimination from the Greens based on a coherent policy framework.

The Shorten-Cousins rapport has not been widely known within the Labor Party and is now an issue raising questions about Shorten’s judgment. The Carmichael mine has been through a protracted series of environmental law provisions and is approved subject to 36 strict conditions.

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, there are precisely defined circumstances that govern suspension or revocation of federal environmental approval. Opposition environment spokesman Tony Burke told the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas this week that under the law, as minister, “you must never prejudge a decision”. If so, you risk legal action from the aggrieved company. No prizes for guessing where Burke is coming from.

As Frydenberg said: “The Carmichael mine has gone through the process. It has been challenged in the courts multiple times and has been upheld. It is a mine that is in the Galilee Basin, it’s 300km inland in a dry and dusty part of Queensland, and it has ­received strong support from local mayors, from the unions and local communities.”

In short, revocation of the Carmichael mine on environmental grounds is a daunting task loaded with traps. Comparisons with the Franklin dam under the Hawke government are nonsense. That predated the EPBC Act and the politics since are transformed — because of the EPBC Act, no political party can make a firm commitment to use environmental law to stop a project.

This was the message opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese sent repeatedly this week to anyone with ears.

“The Adani coalmine has been approved,” Albanese said. “It has been approved under state and federal approvals. The question is what can Labor do? What Labor can do is … make sure that there is no subsidy of the rail line or other infrastructure for what is a private project. If that doesn’t occur, and the company has said it themselves, the project will fall over and be unable to get finance. At the moment, it just doesn’t have ­finance. They have tried to get it everywhere and it just doesn’t stack up.”

Shorten said of the project yesterday: “I make no secret that I don’t like it very much. I don’t think the project is going to ­materialise. The Adani mining company seem to have missed plenty of deadlines. It doesn’t seem to stack up financially, commercially or indeed environmentally.” But Shorten ruled out any breaking of contracts and that also meant any action as prime minister to revoke the licence.

Understand what is happening — federal Labor wants to destroy this project but keep its hands clean from any financial or political backlash.

It knows “Adani” is a dirty word from the focus groups. Indeed, Frydenberg knows as well and is careful now only to use the term “Carmichael”.

Labor’s hostility must become a material factor in the final ­assessments made by the company. With polls pointing to a change of government, Labor’s campaign makes successful ­financing a more remote possibility. Shorten’s tougher position only intensifies the stakes ­involved in the Batman by-election. How will Shorten look if Labor loses despite his intensification of the campaign against the Adani mine, his trip to the region, his dialogue with Cousins and the belief by the former ACF director that Shorten was ready to play the revocation card?

The green lobby is desperate to defeat the mine on environmental and climate change grounds. While these grounds have sway with public opinion, they are the weakest instruments to secure Carmichael’s defeat — the real pressure points are lack of finance and political “no confidence” from the alternative government despite Adani’s success in meeting the formal approvals.

The mine is a long way from the Great Barrier Reef. Yet arguments about its alleged proximity to the reef are irrelevant in climate change terms since to the extent emissions are corroding the reef that is a universal, not a local, phenomenon.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan attacked Labor’s hypocrisy, saying many of the delays have sprung directly from politics. “This mine is the cornerstone to unlocking the Galilee Basin,” Canavan told The Australian. “There is a window of opportunity at present in the world coal markets with the price high and ­renewed confidence. But the risk for Australia is that we will miss this window and this opportunity essentially because of political ­factors.”

Canavan said the decision by the Queensland Labor government last year to veto any potential loan from the $5 billion Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility for the rail line to the port had a “huge impact” on the overall venture. The company wanted the funds and wanted governments “to have skin in the game”.

“This wasn’t just a backflip,” he said. “The Queensland government gave Adani repeated assurances they would support federal government loans to the rail line.” This was now a lost ­option courtesy of a political ­decision.

Queensland Labor’s decision has been reinforced by Shorten’s tougher stance and the recent warning by opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler that Carmichael was not in the national ­interest and that proposed new mines in the Galilee Basin were also not financially viable.

Canavan concedes that Adani’s “financial options are limited”. He warns that “future investors will look at the way Adani has been treated and have to ­reconsider investment in Australia”. He fears that the opportunity presented by higher coal prices will be missed and is frustrated at the extent of opposition to Carmichael from other coal companies operating in Australia.

The objective of the Greens is to use Carmichael as the instrument to terminate any new coalmines in Australia. Victory will strengthen their hands for the next battle and solidify the hostility of local financial institutions to finance coal projects.

Meanwhile, there seems no end to Shorten’s dissembling — he ­declared yesterday that “we are a resource nation, we are a mining nation”, while he passes judgment as a politician on the finances of Adani in an ­effort to ensure its funding cannot materialise.

Cousins, who has lobbied the Indians and the Chinese against the project, said: “They have no money. They were briefing journalists they could get money from China but the Chinese banks have come out rejecting this. The financial community in Australia accepts climate change science ­totally. Adani’s business case just doesn’t stack up.”

If Cousins’s predictions are ­realised, the killing of Adani after it passed all state and federal ­approvals will bring progressive and green momentum to a zenith. On display will be its moral power, its ability to smash through government and court approvals, its capture of the financial sector and its delivery of a decisive blow to the once-strong pro-development, pro-coal ethos.

Can you imagine the scale of political conflict that will erupt in this country if Adani defies such hostility and somehow manages to proceed with finance?

It is also an insight into our ­morality as a nation — the moral case that Carmichael will help many thousands of poor people in India gets almost no traction; ­indeed, it is mocked by progressive politicians who insist there is an alternative over-arching ­morality — stopping the coal ­industry in the cause of saving the planet from global warming.


Sydney's extraordinary international student boom

Asians spooked by school shootings in America?

Overseas student numbers have surged at Sydney's universities during the past few years. While the number of foreign students has been trending upwards for years, the current growth is unprecedented in such a short time.

Foreign student numbers in Sydney jumped 50 per cent more in the past two years than they did in the entire decade prior.

The student fees being collected by the city’s biggest tertiary institutions capture the scale of this boom.

At Sydney University, overseas student fees rose 92 per cent in three years - from $391 million in 2014 to $752 million last year. At the University of NSW, consolidated revenue from overseas student fees jumped 26 per cent between 2015 and 2016 alone to a handy $560 million.

Sydney University and UNSW in particular have reaped the rewards in the recent race for the international student dollar.

More than one in three students at Sydney University is now from overseas, the majority of them from China.

But with such rapid growth - and big dollars - comes risk. Critics say universities are now over-dependent on the money international students can bring in, especially as government funding for teaching and research is squeezed. Others say the dependence on overseas - and especially Chinese - cash is “corroding the soul of our universities”.

Higher education is being transformed the world over as rising living standards in Asia, and especially China, drives unprecedented demand for tertiary qualifications.

“We are witnessing one of the largest investments in higher education and research in history,” says Laurie Pearcey, Pro-Vice Chancellor, International, at the University of NSW.

Academics and university administrators have emerged as improbable heroes in Australia’s export story.

Sydney’s universities are sought after as higher education becomes a mass global commodity and members of Asia’s new middle class aspire to degrees from institutions that rank well on international league tables.

Financial Times columnist John Gapper has labelled big urban universities “the new global brands” and a “core industry of city-states in a globalised world”.

The inner districts of Sydney - home to the city’s biggest universities - have benefited disproportionately from the surge in international student numbers.

Total employment in tertiary education in the inner-Sydney region jumped by 37 per cent between the 2011 census and 2016 census, analysis by regional economist Terry Rawnsley shows. It was a similar story in inner-Melbourne where tertiary education employment was up 28 per cent in the period.

Then there are flow-on effects from the money spent by students - and their visiting friends and relatives - on things such as accommodation, dining, retail and entertainment.

In 2016 the fee income from overseas students in NSW universities surpassed the fee income from domestic students for the first time. It now makes up a quarter of all university revenue in NSW and seems likely to rise further, as government funding comes under continued pressure.

“Successive governments have been actively encouraging universities to seek out alternative sources of revenue,” says Melbourne University education economist Michael Coelli.

Nationally, about one in three international students are Chinese, but the figure is double that at Sydney University and UNSW.

Last year nearly one in four of all students enrolled at Sydney University - the state’s biggest tertiary institution - were Chinese. That share was more than one in five at the University of NSW and one in six at the University of Technology, Sydney.

A NSW Auditor-General’s report in June found some of the state’s universities have become “vulnerable” to fluctuations in overseas students’ intake and drew attention to the sector’s “concentration” risk.

“The increasing number of overseas students can have significant financial benefits to a university,” the report said. “However, there are associated risks, including pressure on capacity constraints and the need to maintain teaching quality. There is also a concentration risk from reliance on overseas students from the same geographical location in the event of an economic downturn from that region.”

Even the Vice-Chancellor of Sydney University, Michael Spence, is worried about the dependency on the overseas student dollar. Back in 2014, amid debate about a controversial Abbott government proposal to deregulate university fees, Professor Spence told ABC television “we are over-dependent on international student fees”.

Andrew Norton, who heads the higher education program at the Grattan Institute, says that despite these concerns universities have decided the opportunities are simply too big to ignore. “The universities are taking the calculated risk that, even if it doesn’t last, the benefits are so great while it does last, that you should not forgo them,” he says.

Although Norton questions whether high academic standards can be maintained amid such rapid growth in student numbers. “I am concerned about the rate of increase and whether you can deliver the expected quality when you are expanding at that rate.”


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

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