Tuesday, March 23, 2021

‘Life-threatening’: Fears as downpour continues in S.E. Queensland, causing floods, landslides

These stories of destructive weather always bemuse me. When I look out my front door I never see anything like the weather report. And so it is at the moment. As I write this at lunchtime on Tuesday (23rd), we have had some prolonged showers earlier on but it is not raining at the moment. It has certainly rained fairly continuously in the last few days but very little of that has been heavy falls

There have always been flood-prone areas in Brisbane but I can remember worse flooding only a few years back. I certainly encountered no holdups on the road this morning or yesterday

Parts of southeast Queensland have recorded almost half a year’s worth of rain in two days as the relentless deluge continues, with fears that even more rain could cause flash flooding and potentially deadline landslips.

From Birdsville in the west to the southeast coast, hundreds of roads were cut, including the Cunningham Highway, and properties isolated, while homes in the Gold Coast hinterland were evacuated as torrential rain sent landslides and waterfalls tumbling down hillsides.

Rainfall records that have stood for more than a century in some places have been smashed.

In the 24 hours to 9am, North Tamborine recorded 242mm, with more than 550mm recorded in the past two days. Nearby Mount Tamborine, Upper Springbrook and Hotham Creek all recorded over 200mm in the past 24 hours, with two-day tallies of well over 400mm.

North Stradbroke Island also recorded more than 200mm yesterday.

Further west, Stanthorpe recorded its wettest March day in more than a century, while Applethorpe set a new March daily rainfall record with 86mm.

Flooding is predicted for Beaudesert on Tuesday afternoon, but it is expected to fall well short of the levels seen in the wake of Cyclone Debbie four years ago.

Springbrook has borne the brunt of Queensland’s heavy weather over the past week with 397mm of recorded rainfall. North Tamborine closely followed with 382mm recorded rainfall, Worongary Creek 369mm, Bonogin 364mm, Mount Tamborine 349mm, Clearview 361mm, Possum Creek 342mm, Oxenford Weir 331mm, Tallebudgera Creek Road 318mm and Molendinar being hit with 314mm.

James Thompson from the Bureau of Meteorology said Brisbane could have anywhere between 35-60mm of rainfall today.


The Mother of All Battles

Bettina Arndt

As the Christian Porter saga continues to dominate the news, there’s a lesson playing out for all the woke men who hope that by drinking the feminist Kool-Aid they will protect themselves from being targeted during the ongoing anti-male crusade.

Our Attorney General is a classic. Porter has been sucking up to the feminist mob for decades. Just look at his incredible performance back in 2015 on the ABC’s Q&A, just after he’d announced 100 million dollars funding for the domestic violence industry. There he was spewing out all the buzzwords they wanted to hear, claiming the entire problem was due to vicious, misogynist men and telling a young male audience member to listen to women, believe women.

Many of the prominent feminists he fawned over are now delighting in throwing him under the bus – like former UTS communications lecturer Jenna Price happily declaring his career is over whilst Julia Baird gleefully tweets that the Porter case has triggered a “cultural reckoning”.

Even more ironic is the fact that Christian Porter ignored appeals from prominent people complaining about the defamation case of Fr John Fleming, a Catholic priest who unsuccessfully sued an Adelaide newspaper which destroyed his reputation by publishing details of unsubstantiated allegations involving historic child sexual abuse.

Read this account by law professor Augusto Zimmermann of the legal flaws in the subsequent unsuccessful appeal which overturned the presumption of innocence and set a dangerous precedent in lowering the standard of proof required in defamation cases where criminal allegations are involved. The judge chose to believe the uncorroborated narrative offered by the accuser in the face of evidence that powerfully contradicted her version of events.

Zimmermann believes that the Fleming case could have bearing on Porter’s defamation case.

Women’s right to feel safe.

One of the most infuriating themes emerging in the ongoing feminist campaign is the facile dream of a utopia in which all women feel completely safe walking at night. We’ve seen endless women complaining they don’t dare walk alone in the streets in the dark, something they see as the fault of all men. Here’s the SBS even taking up the ludicrous suggestion from a British MP proposing a 6pm curfew for all men.

The reality is that men have far more reason to feel unsafe on the streets at night than women do. The latest AIHW figures show male rates of assault injury hospitalisations are almost twice that of females - 64% (14,085 cases) compared to 36% for females (7,972 cases).

Many Australian men as well as women are wary of walking the streets in dubious neighbourhoods, particularly very young or frail older men. But let’s not forget this is, comparatively, a very safe country and overall violence rates are on the decrease. The AIHW statistics show assaults have gone down significantly, with a 3% annual drop since 2007-8. The ABS’s Personal Safety Survey shows a drop in experiences of physical violence, falling from 7.5% in 2005 to 4.5% in 2016.

Naturally, men’s experience doesn’t rate a mention in the current narrative. We simply don’t care about men being bashed or beaten or stabbed. The only time we get upset about men being attacked seems to be when young men are king hit, taken out in a one-punch assault by a stranger. When a few cases of this started happening some years ago we were happy to close down the night life of Sydney.

But that was an aberration. In the current manufactured outrage about protecting women, men’s safety is irrelevant.

At least most people seem to have twigged to the fact that the whole campaign is a cynical exercise to take out ScoMo and his government. How revealing that the organizer of women’s march was blatantly tweeting back in January, seeking ideas to damage the Coalition.

As the weeks have rolled on, we have seen more evidence that the rage about women’s safety is blatant political opportunism, egged on by the usual biased media playing down complaints about sexist bullying in Labor party offices in order to focus exclusively on the allegations against Coalition men. Naturally, they choose to ignore Nicolle Flint’s expose of the hypocrisy of Penny Wong and her Labor colleagues who turned a blind eye to the appalling sexist treatment Flint received curtesy of the Get Up thugs.

While many women have been seduced into signing up to this cultural event, I’m also receiving a flood of mail from female correspondents who see through the whole charade. Like an 80-year-old retired GP who wrote saying she “is fed up with all the stuff in the media about Grace Tame, and the discussions about rape, etc. The message feminists are giving is very dangerous for our society.”

Or the younger female who said she is “sickened to see the push by modern feminists, activists, and SJWs to ostracise, sedate, and punish men so unfairly to the extent of removing their right to fair legal processes.”

Our failed criminal justice system

Many have written suggesting I put together data to dismantle the lies being promoted about the supposed failure of our criminal justice system to deal properly with rape accusations. I’m keen to do that and would welcome your help in taking apart the statistics but a complete analysis will take time.

As a starting point, let’s have a quick look at the latest voodoo statistics being used to fuel the current debate. I’m reminded of Andrew Lang’s telling comment that some people use statistics as a drunk man uses a drunk post – for support, not illumination.

Helen Trinca in The Weekend Australian claims the conviction rate in rape court cases “sits at a shockingly low 2 per cent.” This is total nonsense. Latest figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics BOSCAR show 66% of sexual assault cases result in a guilty verdict.

Just how the feminists have conjured up the oft-quoted 2% figure remains a mystery – but it appears they inflate the numbers of rape victims by not using assaults reported to the police but rather self-defined victim figures from the ABS PPS which includes a wonderfully broad definition.

In fact, that survey is pretty illuminating, telling us a great deal about why so many of these cases don’t end up in court.

Here’s some of the facts about those rape statistics they won’t tell you.

We’re not just talking about what most people think of as ‘rape” but any sexual act involving force or coercion, including attempts to force someone into sexual activity.(PSS)

Many of these cases involve young women - over a quarter (27%) of female victims were aged between 15 and 19 years. (ABS Recorded Crimes)

Most victims (87%) knew their offender – so chances are many are date rape cases revolving around the murky complexities of consent. (ABS)

Half the women believed that alcohol or another substance contributed to the sexual assault. (AIHW)

Only 13 % reported the assault to police. The major reasons for not doing so included a third who felt they could deal with it themselves, and another third who did not regard it as a serious offence. (AIHW)

Almost half the women didn’t see what happened to them as a crime. Twenty two percent saw it as something that just happens. (AIHW)

Back in 2009 BOSCAR investigated why fewer cases were going through to trial and found one of the major reasons was there had been an increase in cases where the victim knew the offender and didn’t want to give evidence against the accused person.

While it is certainly true that many women who are raped don’t trust the criminal system to provide them with justice, this is the other side of the picture that is never discussed. The fact is that many young women who have experiences now being defined as sexual assault don’t see what happened to them as particularly serious and feel they can deal with it themselves. And thankfully, many don’t see a confusing drunken hook-up as reason to punish the man for what happened.

Many of these young women know these cases are not going to stand up in court, yet the arrogant feminists are telling them that they know better. That they should be pushing the justice system to give them a hearing, even if a jury then throws the case out. Of course, if a jury decides the evidence isn’t there to find the man guilty, this fuels feminist outrage about injustice towards women. Pretty neat, eh?

Naturally, the feminists are arguing women’s recalcitrant attitudes towards their own experiences simply point to the need for educating women that all sexual assault experiences are serious criminal offences, and the men deserve to be punished.

That’s actually what they will achieve unless we start to speak out, encouraging young women to make more sensible decisions about how they conduct their sexual lives. It’s so dangerous allowing sexual consent courses to be taught in schools and universities where intoxicated women are regarded as not able to give consent – so her drunk partner is always the rapist. And she has the right to change her mind afterwards.

We all must join the conversation, parents must write to schools, talk to other parents. We need to challenge the anti-male rhetoric dominating current discussions, by adding comments to online articles, or joining debates on social media. Think about the generations of young men growing up in these troubled times. We owe it to them to fight back.

Bettina Arndt newsletter: newsletter@bettinaarndt.com.au


The urban farmers taking over someone else's backyard as a reprieve from the pandemic

This sounds an excellent idea. My backyard is available

On a quiet street in suburban Melbourne, there's no sign of the transformation taking place.

Behind an old cottage in Fawkner, Catie Payne and George Clipp carefully tend to rows of flourishing crops.

The pair have long wanted to try their hand at farming. But despite years of experience working on market gardens and farms across Australia and abroad, they were unable to afford land of their own.

That is, until an innovative project in Melbourne's north gave them the chance to try their hand at urban farming — using someone else's backyard.

"It's wildest dream material for us," says 32-year-old Payne.

"We'd long chatted about how great it would be for folks with unused land to connect with those who'd love to tend a little patch of land."

The Backyard Farmers project is the brainchild of Growing Farmers, a community regenerative urban farming group, created in early 2020 to strengthen local food security and sustainability.

By connecting aspiring farmers like Payne and Clipp with people happy to share their backyards, the group hopes to foster a win-win relationship that could be replicated across the country.

"I'd been moaning about needing to do the mowing and I saw the ad and thought, 'that's what I need'," laughs Sapphire McMullan-Fisher, who decided to volunteer her property after coming across a flyer for the project at a local market garden.

A mycologist at Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens, McMullan-Fisher is also a lifelong gardener, passionate about healthy soil and the biodiversity it supports.

But after buying her house several years ago with a friend, McMullin-Fisher's plans to renovate were shelved, leaving her to battle weeds and grass in her large backyard.

"I've always worked with people to do things, so I was totally ready for someone else to come and take responsibility for this space," she says.

"Productive food for the community, paid or unpaid or however it evolves — why wouldn't you support that?"

A burgeoning local food system

With McMullan-Fisher's help, Payne and Clipp have been hard at work since Melbourne's restrictions began easing late last year.

What was once a tangle of weeds and grass is now 60 square metres of crops, ranging from tomatoes and pumpkins to bush foods like midyim berries and native river mint.

They haven't decided whether they'll sell or donate their harvests through a local food hub, but they have plenty of plans for the patch, which they'll have access to for at least six months.

In return, their host gets to see her backyard turned into a productive oasis and share in the organic produce it creates.

"The opportunity to be part of a burgeoning local food system — where backyards become mini-farms and people step up to share, collaborate and compromise — is exciting," says Payne.

With the project well underway, the group hopes to build on a pandemic-driven surge of interest in food growing.

More than 60 per cent of those who participated in the 2020 Pandemic Gardening Survey, conducted by Sustain: The Australian Food Network, said they had increased their edible food growing over the past 12 months.

Many cited the sense of reassurance and wellbeing it gave them.

"We're interested in not only growing food but also in growing resilient and connected communities around that," Growing Farmers president Alice Crowe says.

"When people work together on something they believe in, it creates a kind of glue between them. "People supporting other people and having their daily lives entwined in even a small way — that is community to me." 'It reminds us how connected we are'

Like many suburbs across Australia, Fawkner's multicultural traditions and generous blocks make it ideal for edible gardening, says Crowe.

"This area has a rich food-growing history with a lot of Italian and Greek migrants, as well as people from Arabic-speaking countries, who have always been really invested in the ethos of home food-growing and providing for yourself," she says.

"It also seems to attract people who are interested in nature, and interested in how we live and how we eat. People here are very connected."

Long-term, Growing Farmers hopes to unlock some of the area's public land for a large-scale market garden. That would allow residents to grow food for the local community, Crowe says, while giving novice farmers the opportunity to learn those skills.

"Anyone who grew a tomato during lockdown — even a little bit of their own food — knows that feeling of how satisfying is it to be working with the processes of nature," she says.

"It reminds us how connected we are with the earth and there's a feeling of deep satisfaction that comes from that."

Checking a bed of ripening blackberries in a community garden across town, gardener Meg knows that feeling well.

Eight years ago, the Caulfield South Community Garden was an abandoned tennis court, sitting forgotten behind a church.

Today, it is a beloved sanctuary of communal veggie beds, pots of herbs and trees laden with fruit.

Old church pews dot the garden, which is open every day to members who share in its harvest, and anyone else who wants to visit.

During Melbourne's first lockdown, Meg (who didn't want her surname used) and fellow volunteers began delivering bags of produce to members who were self-isolating.

Inspired by wartime Victory Gardens, they then began raising masses of vegetable seedlings to give away.

"Growing your own food, whether in a full-on homestead situation, or simply getting a few herbs going on your kitchen windowsill, is an incredibly empowering act which can help re-connect us with the natural world," Meg says.

"The list of benefits really goes on and on, but one of the big ways I think it supported many people during lockdown was by encouraging mindfulness and ritual, and bringing a little bit of joy and wonder into our worlds."

'A space where people feel they can go at any time'
The Isolation Gardening Project saw more than 2,000 free pots and punnets of seedlings, as well as seeds, shared with the community.

As word of the project spread, the garden's social media following tripled in size. Queues formed each week when plants and seeds were ready.

"People were incredibly grateful," says Meg. "One woman said she cried when she picked up her first punnet of seedlings — she was just so overwhelmed by the support of the community."

During Melbourne's tough Stage 4 lockdown, some volunteers also used their daily hour of permitted exercise to work in the garden — as a way of looking after both the plants, and their own mental health.

"The garden has been a godsend for me," says Anne, a member who's dropped in to do some weeding and harvest rhubarb. "At home I kept watching the news and waiting for the daily numbers of cases," she adds. "But I didn't think of that at all when I was working here in the garden."


Company swings to loss amid delays to New Acland mine

Delays to expansion caused by ‘vocal activists’ are costing jobs in Queensland and hurting the broader business, says coal miner.

Listed miner New Hope Group says continued uncertainty around the approval of stage three of its New Acland Coal Mine in Queensland could see the number of employees at the site fall from more than 100 to around a dozen while damaging the broader company, which has swung to a half-year loss.

The company on Tuesday said revenue for the period declined 34.4 per cent to $405m while a net loss of $55m was recorded, compared to a $69.7m profit in the prior comparable period.

An interim dividend of four cents a share, fully franked, was declared.

At the end of the last financial year the $1.10bn miner recorded a $156m annual loss, suspended its dividend and cut 200 jobs associated with its New Acland Coal Mine due to approval delays.

Last month, the High Court ordered fresh hearings into the planned expansion of the mine, after a group of Darling Downs landholders won an appeal against the miner’s moves.

On Tuesday New Hope CEO Reinhold Schmidt said this continuing regulatory uncertainty surrounding the New Acland coal mine was impacting the broader business and costing more jobs.

“Redundancies continue as a result of nearing final stage 2 coal at New Acland,” Mr Schmidt said.

“With the High Court of Australia ordering New Acland back to the Land Court of Queensland in the first quarter of FY22, and the prospect of the project being placed in care and maintenance, a further impairment of the asset has been accounted for in the half year results.

“Despite the ongoing delays, brought about by a handful of vocal activists, the company remains committed to push for the approval of stage 3.”

The Australian understands that between 20 and 30 Acland workers will be made redundant in the coming months, bringing the mine’s headcount under 100, compared to a recent high of 300 in November 2019.

If approval for stage 3 is not granted by November, the mine is expected to go into care and maintenance mode, necessitating only a fraction of the current workforce to stay on site.

Additionally, the company has within the last half year made approximately one dozen employees redundant at its Queensland Bulk Handling ports business and shed 80 corporate head office positions.

Company accounts show a $40.25m before tax impairment charge relating to Queensland coal mining assets, a $1.6m impairment charge relating to Queensland coal exploration and $10.1m in group redundancy costs.

A spokesman for the company said New Hope had received “less than $10m” from the government’s Jobkeeper scheme.

Despite the regulatory hurdles faced by the New Acland mine, Mr Schmidt said a foundation has been set for a strong second half, with coal prices lifting and production at its Bengalla mine improving.

“The Newcastle 6000 index has recovered from the lows in 2020 of US$50 to the current level in excess of US$90,” Mr Schmidt said.

“Bengalla continues to perform strongly for the business and, although production was down slightly in the first half due to the major dragline shut, it was above expectations.

“The investment in the dragline has delivered continued improvement in productivity to ensure a strong performance into the future.

“The focus moving forward is to increase annual production to the approved permitted capacity of the operation whilst maintaining safety and cost efficiencies.”

New Hope also separately addressed media speculation concerning potential legal action by the liquidators of two subsidiaries in voluntary administration - Northern Energy Corporation and Colton Coal - against the company “in connection with alleged voidable transaction, insolvent trading, asset transfers and breaches of directors’ duties, in respect of claims the Liquidators estimate to be valued at $174.1 million plus interest and costs.”

“Although the Company has not been served with any proceedings, it intends to defend vigorously any proceedings that are commenced,” New Hope said in a statement.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE TIED)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


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