Friday, April 13, 2018

Australia's Discrimination Commissioner assumes discrimination rather than proving it

Frank Chung comments on a race-obsessed public servant.  If discrimination can be proved that is one thing but assuming it from statistics is very different. 

Why is it different?  Because different groups have different priorities.  Indians, for instance gravitate to small businesses where income can be hidden.  There's a tradition of that in India.  So, in case you haven't noticed, we have a LOT of Indian taxi-drivers -- a mostly cash business. I was a taxi-driver myself once so I know a bit about it.  And there are Indian restaurants all over as well.

So does the over-representation of Indians in taxi-driving prove discrimination against white and East Asian taxi-drivers?  It's all a nonsense. East Asians for instance have a strong bent towards the professions.  So you won't often find bright East Asians in big business.  They are more likely to be the big businessman's doctor or medical specialist.  Is that discrimination we have to worry about?

From his name, I am assuming that Frank Chung is partly of East Asian ancestry and he clearly doesn't feel discriminated against

AUSTRALIA’S Race Discrimination Commissioner is being paid $340,000 a year by taxpayers to peddle racist pseudoscience.

In fact, Dr Tim Soutphommasane’s title could be more accurately described as “Commissioner for Racist Discrimination”, given his obsession with skin colour and apparent distaste for anyone from an “Anglo-Celtic or European background”.

Or in other words, white people.

In a risible piece of research released by the Human Rights Commission and the University of Sydney Business School on Tuesday, the good doctor lamented the fact that only eight executives in ASX 200 companies have a “non-European background”.

Similarly, of the 30 members of the Federal Ministry, there is “no one who has a non-European background” and only “one who has an indigenous background”.

Amusingly, that means Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt — who is indigenous with part English, Irish and Indian heritage — is at once part of the problem and part of the solution, according to Dr Soutphommasane.

He goes on to rattle off similar numbers for the state and federal public service and university administrations. “All up there are 11 of the 372 CEOs and equivalents who have a non-European or indigenous background,” he said.

“A mere cricket team’s worth of diversity. These are dismal statistics for a society that prides itself on its multiculturalism. They challenge our egalitarian self-image. And they challenge our future prosperity as a nation. If we aren’t making the most of our multicultural talents, we may be squandering opportunities.”

Like a modern-day Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle, Dr Soutphommasane — magnifying glass and colour wheel in hand — has taken a meticulous taxonomic study on his voyage through corporate Australia.

“Of those who occupy 2490 of the most senior posts in Australia, 75.9 per cent have an Anglo-Celtic background, 19 per cent have a European background, 4.7 per cent have a non-European background and 0.4 per cent have an indigenous background,” he said.

“Described another way, about 95 per cent of senior leaders in Australia have an Anglo-Celtic or European background. Although those who have non-European and indigenous backgrounds make up an estimated 24 per cent of the Australian population, such backgrounds account for only 5 per cent of senior leaders.

“In a society where nearly one-quarter is estimated to have a non-European or indigenous background, the findings of our latest study challenge us to do better with our multiculturalism.”

Naturally, these findings have led Dr Soutphommasane to call for “cultural targets and quotas across the business, academic and political worlds”, according to Fairfax.

There are three pretty obvious problems with this.

Firstly, Dr Soutphommasane seems to be talking out both sides of his mouth. He says he wants “cultural targets”, but then admits his real problem is with “European and Anglo-Celtic” peoples. How similar are the cultures of Norway and Greece, or Ukraine and Portugal?

Secondly, Dr Soutphommasane does not seem to understand the meaning of “egalitarian”, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities”.

Equality of opportunity is not the same thing as equality of outcome. As US economist Milton Friedman said, a society that “puts equality of outcome ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom”.

“The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests,” he said.

Which leads to the third point. Proponents of race and gender quotas like Dr Soutphommasane believe equality of opportunity is impossible due to the pseudoscience of “unconscious bias” — a kind of modern-day phrenology which claims everyone is incredibly racist and sexist even if they don’t think they are.

Unconscious bias, also called implicit bias, first emerged in 1998 with the rollout of something called the implicit association test and immediately spread like wildfire through western institutions, spawning a multimillion-dollar industry of consultants who, Clockwork Orange style, reprogram the racism out of workers.

It seems to be one of Dr Soutphommasane’s most deeply held beliefs. In 2014, he blamed unconscious bias for the “bamboo ceiling”, recounting a traumatic incident in which a friend asked whether he worked “in the finance or IT section”.

“My new friend’s faux-pas was not that he had made certain assumptions about me,” he wrote. “His mistake was that he had revealed some assumptions that might have been better kept to himself.”

Unfortunately, the scientific basis of the IAT — and so the entire concept of unconscious bias and the associated obsession with mandatory quotas — has effectively collapsed.

Even the creators of the IAT, Harvard social psychologists Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji, have distanced themselves from its current usage, admitting that it does not predict “biased behaviour”.

In 2015, they wrote that the problems with the test make it “problematic to use to classify persons as likely to engage in discrimination”. As The Wall Street Journal put it last year, “the politics of the IAT had leapfrogged the science behind it”.

And yet people like Dr Soutphommasane soldier on undeterred, even in the face of mounting evidence. It was Dr Soutphommasane, for example, who hailed the Victorian government’s “blind recruiting” trial in 2016, in which applicants’ resumes are de-identified of name, gender, age and location.

But hilariously, a study last year by the behavioural economics team in the Prime Minister’s department, known as the “nudge unit”, actually found blind recruiting has the opposite intended effect.

According to the study, led by Harvard professor Michael Hiscox, Australian Public Service recruiters “generally discriminated in favour of female and minority candidates”.

“We anticipated this would have a positive impact on diversity — making it more likely that female candidates and those from ethnic minorities are selected for the shortlist,” he told the ABC. “We should hit pause and be very cautious about introducing this as a way of improving diversity, as it can have the opposite effect.”

There may be many reasons for the lack of one-to-one population representation at the very highest levels of business and politics — but for the Race Discrimination Commissioner, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

For someone who is paid $340,000 a year to come up with this dross, it’s not surprising the concept of meritocracy is a foreign one. Or is that being racist?


Big public sector bloat under Queensland Labor government

The previous conservative government under Campbell Newman axed 14,000 bureaucrats.  The Labor government has more than reversed that

The Queensland government is defending the state's ballooning public service after hiring more than 17,000 bureaucrats since coming into office in 2015.

Queensland's opposition leader has attacked the size of the state's public sector under Labor, but refused to say how she would address the problem if she was in office.

Figures released by Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk's government on Thursday show the public workforce has swelled to its biggest size ever.

There are now 218,957 bureaucrats and frontline services employees, almost the population of Townsville, up from 201,409 in March 2015.

The Liberal National Party opposition has previously criticised the state government for adding more people to its payroll, and it went on the attack again on Thursday.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington said the Campbell Newman government had proven health and other services could run better with less staff.

She went so far as to say those services significantly improved after it sacked 14,000 people, a decision which contributed to the party's 2015 electoral loss.

"When the LNP was in government we saw those service delivery areas increase and improve, we saw wait times disappear or reduce," she said.

But Ms Frecklington refused to detail how an LNP government would address what she described as inefficiencies.

"There would be no forced redundancies under an LNP government," she said.

"We would expect our ministers to drive extra services, we would expect, exactly like we did, better services."

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said she wasn't surprised by the party's stance on the Newman-era cuts. "We know at the 2012 election they promised public servants they had nothing to fear from a Campbell Newman government and then they went and sacked 14,000 of them," she said.

"We hear (the LNP) talk about reducing the wait list for public housing, well it was shortened by the LNP government because they just removed people from the list."

Ms Trad called on the opposition to be honest about its economic plan for Queensland. She also defended the government's recruitment, saying frontline services had increased in line with population growth.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland spokesman Dan Petrie said the current rate of public service growth was unsustainable.

"It's a medium-term problem so therefore if it's not addressed now it is something they would have to address within the term of parliament," he said.

The December quarter figures released by the Public Sector Commission shows a 0.22 per cent decline in the number of workers compared to the three months prior.

Law and order had the most growth, with additional staffers brought on as part of the rollout of Domestic and Family Violence Courts, the reintroduction of the Drug Court and the transfer of 17-year-olds into the youth justice system.


Restrictions on privatised ports adding to Sydney's gridlock: Deloitte report

A Deloitte report has found port restrictions are hampering efficient trade in NSW, and greater competition from a new container terminal in Newcastle would boost the state economy.

Hundreds of thousands of trucks could be shifted from Sydney’s roads by a new container terminal at Newcastle, but secret restrictions introduced during the privatisation of NSW ports are preventing its development.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is now investigating the restrictions, which were introduced when Port Botany and the Port of Newcastle were being privatised.

This raises the possibility of the federal government’s competition watchdog taking action over the arrangements imposed during the privatisation process.

Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics has found a new container terminal at the Port of Newcastle would immediately slash the number of shipping containers transported through Sydney’s transport networks by half a million, rising to 1.1 million by mid-century.

The operator of Newcastle’s port wants to build a container terminal but claims that a new facility is not viable because of constraints imposed at the time of privatisation.

Roy Green, the chair of the Port of Newcastle, said the efficiency of our port system "is being compromised by the restrictive arrangements that the government set up at the time of privatisation".

Deloitte's analysis, which was commissioned by the Port of Newcastle, draws attention to the impact of tolls on the movement of containers to and from Port Botany. It will cost $60-$80 in tolls to move a container west of Port Botany in future, the report estimates.

Mr Green said the business model for the WestConnex motorway was “thoroughly tied up” with restrictions favouring Port Botany.

In 2016 The Newcastle Herald revealed a secret NSW government agreement to compensate the operator of Port Botany and Port Kembla for loss of trade to a competing container terminal in Newcastle. Under the "strictly confidential" arrangement, Newcastle would have to make "cross payments" of about $100 per container unit (about $1 million per vessel) it handled above a threshold of 30,000 a year.

When asked about the restictions, a NSW Treasury spokesman said no "cross payments" are triggered until a threshold container throughput is reached and the number of containers moving through the port of Newcastle was now less than one third of the threshold.

Port Botany now handles about 2.4 million containers a year and that is forecast to rise to 5 million by 2040.  Deloitte estimates more than 90 per cent of container movements within the metropolitan area are by road.

In 2013, Port Botany and Port Kembla were leased for 99 years for $5.07 billion. A similar lease was awarded for the Port of Newcastle in 2014 for $1.75 billion.

A spokesman for NSW Treasury told the Herald that "the port transaction arrangements do not prohibit the development of a container terminal and allows for the organic growth of container traffic through Newcastle".

But Mr Green described that response as "disingenous" because the restrictions meant a viable container terminal in Newcastle was not possible.

The ACCC has written to a number of organisations “to seek information relating to the viability” of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle. The letter says the commission has “concerns about arrangements that may limit or prevent the development of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle”.

Those contacted by the ACCC now include NSW Ports, the private operator of Port Botany and Port Kembla. NSW Ports chief executive Marika Calfas told Fairfax Media: “We were contacted earlier this week by the ACCC and will be sharing our expertise and knowledge about container port and supply chain logistics and efficiencies with them.”

The Deloitte report said port restrictions were hampering efficient trade in NSW and greater competition from a new container terminal in Newcastle would also improve port productivity by 2.5 per cent boosting the state economy.

“NSW relies on ports for almost all of our international trade, and so a lack of competition both reduces port efficiency and increases landside transport costs,” it said.

The Deloitte study found a quarter of the state’s imports and 38 per cent of exports now moving through Port Botany are destined for or originate from parts of the state that are closer to the Port of Newcastle.

“And yet these are all being funnelled into crowded Sydney roads and co-mingled with passenger rail for shipping through Port Botany,” said Mr Green.

Mr Green, a former dean of the University of Technology, Sydney business school, said the $60-$80 in tolls trucks will pay to move containers from Port Botany in future was a “non-tariff barrier on exports” from NSW.

The NSW Treasury spokeman said about 85 per cent of containers travel within a 40-kilometre radius of Port Botany and that "considerable future growth in demand for products delivered by containers is predicted to occur in the south-west region of Sydney", which is closer to both Botany and Port Kembla than Newcastle.

Tresurer Dominic Perrottet said the revenue generated from the long-term lease of NSW ports has "helped the government fund its $80.1 billion infrastructure strategy across the state".

Opposition Leader Luke Foley has welcomed the ACCC inquiry.


New use for Australia's abundant brown coal

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has unveiled a $50 million pilot project to convert Victoria's brown coal into hydrogen for export to Japan.

Australian Associated PressAPRIL 12, 201812:14PM
Victoria's brown coal will be converted into hydrogen and exported to Japan, under a major project unveiled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The Commonwealth will pledge $50 million towards the hydrogen energy supply chain pilot in Victoria's La Trobe Valley, Mr Turnbull said during a visit to the region on Thursday.

The multi-billion dollar project will produce liquefied hydrogen from brown coal in the Latrobe Valley for export to Japan.

Construction is expected to start from 2019, with the Victorian government also pledging $50 million.

"It is amazing to think that brown coal here in Victoria will be keeping the lights on in Japan," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

"Our strategic support for this fuel of the future, hydrogen, opens up new possibilities for innovation and energy.

"It will see brown coal from here in the Latrobe Valley converted to hydrogen, liquefied, and then exported to Japan."

The project will create 400 local jobs for Latrobe Valley workers.

Mr Turnbull said it is in line with government efforts to invest in energy sources of the future and meet emission reduction commitments.

"We are focused on creating the investment environment to drive projects like this one to create new industries and more jobs," he said.

"It is the technological brilliance, the investment confidence, the optimism of Australians and Japanese working together that will ensure there is a very ancient resource brown coal produces one of the critically important fuels of the future."


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:

PB said...

Newman axed a lot of bureaucrats and admin drones from the Hospital here. Labor put them all back, plus extra. Nursing positions that were lost weren't restored though.