Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Birds are dropping dead off Australia's coast, and it's all our fault (?)

There is no doubt of the problem but its real cause is getting the Nelson's telescope treatment.  The marine plastic debris does NOT come from developed countries such as Australia.  Such countries have efficient waste collection systems (garbage trucks) which take the waste to a place where it can be dissposed of responsibly. So the debris is not from Western countries.  It comes from AFRICA and ASIA -- where people dispose of their rubbish by tossing it into their local river -- whence it flows to sea.

But reforming Africans and Asians is "too hard" so the do-gooders pretend that the problem is where it is not.  To admit its real source would be politically incorrect.

If they could bear for any length of time to admit reality, they MIGHT be able to do something useful for the problem -- putting garbage collection barriers across the mouths of the major African and Asian rivers.  But that would be too practical, of course.  Much more attractive to go around finger-pointing and criticizing your own society.

Deep in their burrows, hungry shearwater chicks on Lord Howe Island await a meal. Their parents have been scouring the sea in search of fish and squid. Instead, they return to feed their babies clothes pegs, bottle tops and Lego pieces.

The flesh-footed sheerwater population at Lord Howe Island is dwindling due to a tidal wave of marine plastic being mistaken for food.

After 90 days the fledglings emerge from their burrows, stomachs bulging with plastic. They prepare for their first flight. Many are so malnourished they die outside the nest. Others make it to the beach, but their undeveloped wings flap in vain and waves engulf them.

Ian Hutton, a naturalist and museum curator on Lord Howe Island, pulls the bodies off the beach. Researchers slice open their stomachs to confirm the cause of death. Once, they found 274 plastic fragments.

“It’s so upsetting to think this bird has been reared by its parents, it’s been fed and it should have a chance to go to sea but it’s died,” he said.

‘When you cut the stomach open and pull out the plastic, some people actually cry when they see it.”

The flesh-footed shearwaters embody what the United Nations has called a “planetary crisis” posed by an unremitting tide of marine plastic.

In the few decades since mass production began in the 1950s, plastic waste is overwhelming rivers and oceans – tossed into waterways, carried by stormwater and winds, and lost overboard from boats.

In Australia 1.5 million tonnes of plastic were used in the year to June 2013 - about 65 kilograms for each person. Only 20 per cent was recycled [The rest went to a proper tip]

Brisbane City Council this week committed to banning plastic straws, single-use plastic bottles and helium balloons from all council events. Environmentalists say other federal, state and local governments can do much more.

University of Tasmania marine eco-toxicologist Jennifer Lavers said the birds “are not picky eaters” and easily tricked by ocean plastic. She said the birds’ numbers are declining due to a range of pressures.

NSW Greens MP Justin Field, who travelled to Lord Howe Island this month, said single-use plastic items such as straws or utensils were often unnecessary and could be limited through stronger regulation.

“It is going to require much more than a recycling mentality. It might even include banning single-use plastics,” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago that food courts had ceramic plates and stainless steel knives and forks. We need to return to that type of thinking.”

A Senate report in 2016 presented 23 recommendations, including developing alternatives to plastic packaging and urgently putting marine plastic pollution on the Council of Australian Government agenda.

The federal government has not responded to the report. It is developing a threat abatement plan to reduce the impact of debris on marine life – a draft version of which Mr Angel described as “unbelievably weak”.

A NSW Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said the government’s Return and Earn scheme will help meet the state goal of reducing litter volumes by 40 percent by 2020, and 320 million drink containers had so far been returned.

Most major supermarkets will voluntarily phase out lightweight plastic shopping bags this year and NSW was taking part in a national microbead phase-out. The mass release of gas filled balloons is against the law in NSW.

The federal Department of the Environment and Energy said a recent meeting of environment ministers agreed all Australian packaging should be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 or earlier, that Australia’s recycling capabilities be increased and waste reduction be encouraged through consumer awareness, education and industry leadership. A national waste policy will be updated this year and government agencies will prioritise projects that convert waste to energy.


Elsternwick Primary School in Victoria fenced off an old  tractor in the playground as a health and safety risk to children

A school has caused outrage by banning children from a playground tractor. Elsternwick Primary School in Victoria fenced off the tractor because it was deemed 'too dangerous' and posed a health and safety risk to children.

One father Glenn Riseley protested by posting a picture of his son playing on the tractor to Facebook. He wrote: 'Just asked my son why there's a fence around this old playground tractor? 'Apparently some bureaucrats with cardigans and clipboards and diplomas in clipboard management did a 'safety audit' and deemed it too risky... so it has to be removed.

He added: 'It seems the biggest risks to children these days are lack of physical activity, excessive screen time, poor nutrition and an alarming epidemic of type 2 diabetes, online bullying and mental health issues. None of which are connected to cemented in old red tractors.'

Commenters on his post agreed. One wrote: 'World gone made' while another said: 'Growing up on a farm and riding in dad's rusty Bedford truck was the highlight of my childhood.'

Mr Riseley told Daily Mail Australia: 'The lad on the tractor is Oscar. He’s four years old. He starts at Elsternwick primary school next year. His older brother is already there. Sadly the tractor won’t be when he starts.

'It's not the school's fault - Some overpaid public servants with too much time on their hands I suspect.'


Australia needs to fix its hospitality reputation before infrastructure boom

WORKING weekends and public holidays for slashed penalty rates and increasingly disinterested customers has turned Australia’s hospitality industry into a place where not many people want a job anymore.

Across Australia’s cities and especially in the nation’s regional towns, the hospitality industry is on the brink of a crisis.

Most young people dip their toe into the waters of hospitality for jobs while studying.  But even as a stepping stone, fewer and fewer young people are embracing hospitality.

The industry now has a 28 per cent vacancy rate, according to findings from Edith Cowan University lecturer Dr Edmund Goh, as older people retire and the younger generation refuse to fill the vacancies.

Previous studies on past generations, cited by Dr Goh, found high turnover patterns were “a major human resource problem in this dynamic industry”.

A 2017 survey from hospitality software provider Impos also found more than half the businesses it spoke to had difficulty hiring and retaining staff.

While young people continue to reject hospitality as a viable industry, the nation keeps growing, attracting tourists and building the infrastructure to complement that.

In Brisbane alone, projects along the city’s river, including at Queen’s Wharf and Howard Smith Wharves and the proposed concert venue Brisbane Live, will guarantee thousands of new jobs — most of which will fall into the tourism and hospitality sector.

The tourism infrastructure is great news for the Queensland capital — but bad news when its locals won’t want to be the ones servicing the new tourist hubs.

The Brisbane revitalisation is expected to create a whopping 9000 more jobs over the next two years.

In a bid to find answers to Australia’s growing gap between the tourism boom and a lack of people to pick up the jobs that go with it, Brisbane hosted the World Tourism Forum.

The forum’s chief executive Martin Barth told the Brisbane Timesthe answer lies in making hospitality “sexy” again. “The image of working within the tourism industry has changed,” he said.

“A poor salary and long hours may be right, but there are also business and international opportunities, so let’s tell that story and show the world how interesting the industry is.

“It’s not just long hours and weekends, let’s see what is important to the young generation and see what we need to do to make it sexy and attractive for them.”

Listening to the complaints of marginalised and underpaid workers might hold the key.

Maddy McCormack, who has worked in the hospitality industry for six years including at restaurants in NSW and Victoria, said getting “screwed over” in the industry was a given.

“I don’t get paid penalty rates and the only time I received some extra pay was because when I was told I was working Anzac Day, I asked my boss, ‘What will my public holiday rates be?’” she told “She said she’d check with her bookkeeper and I was paid a few extra dollars per hour. I don’t know if anyone else got the same.

“On Mother’s Day we all worked 12 hours straight because we had tables coming in all day — no break or time to stop and eat something.

“Sometimes on a weekend, they’ll pay you your pay for the week even when you’re still working. How can they clock me out when I’m still working?”

The Melbourne uni student, who currently works at a Middle Eastern restaurant in the city, said workers’ tips were also a big issue. “Sometimes I’ll be paid a little bit extra, if tips are like $37 for everyone they will pay you $40 or something.

“When I used to work at a pizza restaurant it was similar, we’d share our tips and they’d all go into a tip jar and once every blue moon you’d see an envelope with some cash in it. Often they’d use it to buy things we needed or breakages in the restaurant and stuff,” she said.

And in February last year, hospitality’s depressing reputation wasn’t helped when the Fair Work Commission decided to slash Sunday penalty rates.

Full-time and part-time hospitality workers had Sunday rates slashed from 175 per cent to 150 per cent. Sunday rates for casuals remained at 175 per cent.

Full-time and part-time fast-food workers had their Sunday rates cut from 150 per cent to 125 per cent.


Q&A: ‘The royal wedding has killed off the idea of Australia becoming a republic’

THE ROYAL wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was one of the most watched televised events in the world’s history.

But what was it about this real-life fairytale that captivated some two billion people around the globe and 2.5 million Australians?

It was a topic that the ABC’s Q&A panel discussed on Monday night’s program, prompting fierce debate about whether or not the couple’s undeniable popularity signalled a collective desire for Australia to shun the notion of becoming a republic once and for all.

Panellist from The Australian, foreign affairs editor Greg Sheridan, described the royal wedding as “genius PR by the British royal family” because it had greatly improved its public image.

“I’m sure Harry loves Meghan and Meghan loves Harry, but this was a strategic marriage,” Mr Sheridan said. “It makes the monarchy multicultural, hip, and suddenly people of colour can identify with the royal family.”

Victoria Liberal party senator Jane Hume said she was initially concerned about the wedding “turning into a bit of a circus” because of the “Markle debacle” that plagued the family in the lead up to Saturday’s ceremony. But her fears were soon allayed.

“I was really proud and had a little tear in my eye, along with most Australians, on Saturday night,” Ms Hume said.

“I was watching it and the football at the same time. I love the fact Harry and Meghan do tend to bring a more contemporary edge to the monarchy and make it more relevant for young people.

“They feel more accessible and more approachable. I think they take their humanitarian work very seriously. It’s a terrific addition to the monarchy.” It was a sentiment echoed by thousands of Australians who declared their admiration for the royals on social media while watching the royal wedding.

But according to Ms Hume, intense interest in the royal wedding did not equate to the concept of Australia becoming a republic having been “killed off”. “I think it’s an entirely separate issue and an awful lot of republicans were watching. Had a tear in their eye,” she said. “I think you could have enjoyed the royal wedding without being a monarchist.”

Opposition minister for ageing and mental health, Julie Collins said Australia was a “free and independent country” and should have its own head of state. “I’ve always believed that,” she said.

“The royal wedding hasn’t changed my mind and I don’t think it will change many other Australians minds. “[The royals aren’t] relevant to Australia anymore. Yes, it was a lovely wedding. Yes, they’re clearly in love.”

Author and academic Randa Abdel-Fattah was less sentimental. She told the panel that the monarchy represented “an institution of imperialism and racism”.

“It has been enriched by that: by corruption, imperialism, racism, slavery and for me it’s not just suddenly we have a bi-racial bride and that diversity politics erases the history of that institution,” she said.

“For me, we need to be critical and we shouldn’t lose our critical eye when we look at these things and not be seduced by the pomp and ceremony and recognise what this institution stands for.”

Ms Abdel-Fattah said that royal wedding enthusiasts had their priorities askew. “The fact that homeless people were taken away from the streets [and] the Grenfell fire people have not been compensated: These are the real issues,” she said.

“Not what Meghan was wearing and whether or not she’s now reformed an institution that is sick at its core.”

Last week, University of Sydney researcher Luke Mansillo — who has analysed trends in Australia’s sometimes wavering support for the royal family during the past few decades — said the royal wedding was expected to provide the monarchy with a popularity boost.

Based on research he had published in 2016, Mr Mansillo found support for the monarchy in Australia began to wane in the 1960s and crashed to a low about the time of the republic referendum in 1999.

However, since then, there’s been a slow but steady improvement aided in part by events including Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011 and the births of their three children.

“Events such as royal weddings contribute to improvements as people get to witness the grandeur, the splendour, the pomp and ceremony and this self legitimises the institution,” Mr Mansillo said.

“After Kate and William’s wedding I found that there was a pretty big bump in the number of people who saw that royalty was important, a seven to eight per cent increase in how many people who thought that what these people do for Australia is important.” Mr Mansillo’s research, published in the Australian Journal of Political Science, found support in Australia for the monarchy hit its lowest point about the turn of the century.

During the 1990s, the royals were rocked by scandals leading up to the 1996 divorces of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

It was also the decade that debate about Australia becoming a republic ramped up before the 1999 referendum.

At the same time, there was a sharp dip in support among Australians for retaining the monarchy and those who believed the Queen was important, Mr Mansillo’s research found.

However, that fall in support bottomed out about 2001 and 2002 and has risen steadily ever since.

Mr Mansillo attributed that to many young Australians, particularly Generation Y, having no memory of the royal scandals of the 1990s.

“And because we don’t have royal scandals (the Australian Republican Movement’s national chair) Peter FitzSimons can’t get up and complain about it with a really, really big megaphone,” he said.

“So there’s fewer bad media images and stories about the royals coming out from London and more good stories which make it very difficult to campaign against.” The most recent Newspoll on support for an Australian republic, published in April, found support for the monarchy was at 41 per cent — its highest level in 18 years.

Fifty per cent said they wanted a republic, with nine per cent uncommitted.

Addressing the Q&A panel on Monday night, philosopher Peter Singer said the push for Australia to become a republic had lost its momentum long before Harry and Meghan had even met.

“Republicanism goes off the agenda when the former head of the Australian Republican Movement becomes the Liberal prime minister and doesn’t show any interest in pursuing [it],” he said in a reference to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s past role as Chair of the organisation.


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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