Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Most interesting: Sea levels fall in Northern Australia

I pointed at the time of the big coral bleaching scare of a few years ago to some Indonesian research which suggested that coral bleaching on the Great Barrier reef was probably caused by low sea levels -- but all Australian sources asserted that global warming caused the bleaching. Sea levels were never mentioned

But we now have below official confirmation that sea levels DID fall around that time and that there was an "unusually EXTREME drop in sea level"

So the great bleaching scare was a crock enabled by a big cover-up

In the summer of 2015-16, one of the most catastrophic mangrove diebacks ever recorded globally occurred in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Some 40 million mangroves died across more than 2,000 kilometres of coastline, releasing nearly 1 million tonnes of carbon — equivalent to 1,000 jumbo jets flying return from Sydney to Paris.

After six years of searching for answers, scientists have formally identified what is causing the mass destruction. They hope the discovery will help predict and possibly prevent future events.

Mangrove ecologist and senior research scientist at James Cook University (JCU) Norman Duke was behind the discovery.

Dr Duke found that unusually low sea levels caused by severe El Niño events meant mangrove trees "essentially died of thirst".

"The key factor responsible for this catastrophe appears to have been the sudden 40-centimetre drop in sea level that lasted for about six months, coinciding with no rainfall, killing vast areas of mangroves," he said.

Author assisting with data analysis and JCU researcher Adam Canning said the study's evidence for sea-level drop being the cause was found in the discovery of an earlier mass dieback in 1982, observed in satellite imagery.

"The 1982 dieback also coincided with an unusually extreme drop in sea level during another very severe El Niño event. We know from satellite data that the mangroves took at least 15 years to recover from that dieback," Dr Canning said.


Enshrined voice for blacks betrays ideals of liberalism

Let’s get straight to the point. A constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to parliament is a terrible idea, wrong in principle and harmful in practice.

It contradicts the essence of liberalism. It’s tragic the Liberal Party doesn’t have the strength of intellect or character to oppose it in principle. Liberalism’s great historic idea, which it got from Christianity, is that all people are equal in fundamental status. Liberalism’s defining project over 200 years has been removing race and gender from civic status, from rights and obligations.

This is a magnificent vision. Humanity is utterly distinctive, meaning it has ineradicable human dignity, and utterly universal, meaning every human being is equally endowed with rights and obligations. The state has no business distinguishing one citizen from another by ethnicity, heritage or gender. Yet the voice does exactly that.

Aboriginal Australians were at times brutally mistreated in our history and many have suffered continuing disadvantage. Like most Australians I honour Aboriginal culture. None of that provides any justification for breaching the principle of a colourblind state.

I oppose a constitutionally enshrined voice not because I’m a conservative but because I’m a liberal. It is not that a voice will give Indigenous Australians too many privileges. Rather it contains the message that Aboriginal Australians are fundamentally different from other Australians.

However grandiloquent the rhetoric, or benevolent the platitudes, this is a toxic and dangerous message. It represents a terrible wrong turn in Aboriginal activism towards identity politics, which is destructive anywhere it’s prominent. Identity politics is the enemy of human dignity because, in it, virtue and vice come not from your choices and actions but from your identity, defined by race, gender or other characteristics.

The purpose of identity politics is not to solve a problem but to create permanent rage and dissatisfaction, never more than temporarily assuaged by endless rituals of apology and ideological conformity.

New Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Price expressed this far more eloquently than I can in her magnificent maiden speech – a kind of Australian Gettysburg Address that should be read by all Australians. She said:

“It would be far more dignifying if we were recognised and respected as individuals in our own right who are not defined by our racial heritage but by the content of our character … It’s time to stop feeding into a narrative that promotes racial divide, a narrative that claims to try to stamp out racism but applies racism in doing so and encourages a racist over reaction.”

Warren Mundine, a former federal government adviser on Indigenous issues and a star Liberal candidate for a winnable seat in the 2019 election, argues a similar case. He tells me:

“I’m a liberal democrat. I love and believe in liberal democracy. The basis of liberal democracy is that everyone is equal before the law. We fought for decades to be treated as equals. Now there is no law that is discriminatory against Aborigines. Some people talk of two sovereignties – how can there be two sovereignties in one country?”

Price made the further point in a television interview that having the voice forever in the Constitution implies that Aborigines will be marginalised forever, for the whole basis of the voice is that parliamentary democracy doesn’t work for Aboriginal Australians. The voice, like all identity politics, is a partial repudiation of parliamentary democracy.

Anthony Albanese could hardly have started better as Prime Minister. His shrewdness and judgment are evident in his advancing the least damaging model possible of a voice, one that is entirely inferior to parliament and can be designed and changed by parliament. Albanese has a shrewd sense of achievable change. It is a very useful set of limitations he has put around his proposal. The best attribute of the voice in Albanese’s model is that it will have no power.

Nonetheless it is still an extremely bad idea in principle. It is also the case that no one can predict what doctrines an activist High Court might dream up in relation to a race-based political institution whose existence is guaranteed in the Constitution.

It will of course be an interesting question whether Albanese can hold the line on his preferred referendum wording. Further, the very limitations that Albanese proposes demonstrate the illogicality and self-contradiction that accompany this damaging proposal at every stage.

The voice proponents claim it is needed so Indigenous Australians can have a say on laws that affect them, as though all Australians do not have that right, and as though mainstream society today is deaf to Aboriginal voices. But at the same time it is proposed that parliament can design, amend and determine the membership, scope, functions and operations of the voice.

Parliament can do all that today if it wants to. So if there really is a practical problem of consultation to be solved, there is no reason to change the Constitution, and thereby change the very nature of citizenship for all Australians. Similarly, while it is certainly true that much policy towards Indigenous Australians has not been successful, it is just not accurate to say Aborigines have not been consulted regarding policies that affect them.

In any policy regarding remote and distinctive communities today, consultation with those communities ought to be a paramount concern for state and federal governments. Consultation in itself doesn’t necessarily solve all problems.

I was working in the Canberra press gallery when a former Aboriginal affairs minister Gerry Hand created the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. The Hawke government held out the same hopes for practical benefit from ATSIC as voice proponents hold out today. ATSIC was a failure. That doesn’t mean something better can’t be tried today. But there is no reason at all for this to go in the Constitution.

Previous Liberal prime ministers ruled out a constitutionally enshrined voice but the Liberal Party never argued the case in a sustained way and continued to lavishly fund pro-voice activities.

Here’s a tip for the Liberal Party: if you don’t enter an argument you can’t win it. When Peter Dutton appointed Julian Leeser, in every way a good person but a committed proponent of the voice, as Indigenous Australians spokesman. I presumed the Liberal Party was preparing a characteristic surrender.

Price’s maiden speech alone probably makes full surrender – that is, formal support for the voice – less likely. Instead the Liberals may adopt a fatuous neutrality, which is just a more ambiguous form of surrender. Thus liberalism declines, one defeat at a time.


Pauline Hanson has attacked Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe’s description of the Queen as a “coloniser”, suggesting if she doesn’t like parliament she should stop taking her $211,250 salary.

The One Nation leader has told news.com.au that Ms Thorpe was engaging in “hypocrisy” after she was forced to repeat the oath of allegience, having inserted criticism of the royal family the first time.

“Lidia Thorpe obviously does not take her elected position seriously,” said Ms Hanson.

“She’s filling a position she does not respect, to represent people she obviously despises, in an institution she does not recognise as being legitimate.

“What we saw this morning was a stunning exercise in hypocrisy, made worse by her happily taking $211,000 a year from taxpayers for work she clearly does not intend to do.”

Ms Thorpe, an outspoken Victorian Greens Senator, has previously stated that the Australian parliament has no permission to be here and that her role as an Indigenous woman was to “infiltrate” the Senate.

Asked to recite the oath of allegiance this morning, she marched towards the despatch box with her fist in the air and then stated: “I sovereign, Lidia Thorpe, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will be faithful and I bear true allegiance to the colonising Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

MPs then interjected, warning that “you’re not a senator” if she failed to correctly recite the oath.

“Senator Thorpe, Senator Thorpe, you are required to recite the oath as printed on the card,’’ Senate President Sue Lines said.

Senator Thorpe then took the oath again, mispronouncing heirs as the Queen’s “hairs” and successors.

She later took to Twitter to declare: “Sovereignty never ceded.”

It’s not the first time the Greens Senator has raised concerns about colonisation.

Speaking to ABC radio in June, she argued the Australian flag represents “dispossession, massacre and genocide” and accused the media of pitting her against Liberal Senator Jacinta Price.

“The colonial project came here and murdered our people. I’m sorry we’re not happy about that,” she said.

“If people are going to get a little bit upset along the way, well that’s just part of the truth telling. The truth hurts.”


Radical fix for Australian teacher shortages: Employ anyone with a degree

I did this over 30 years ago. I wanted to do High School teaching but had at the time "only" an M.A. -- no Diploma of Education. The New South Wales Department of Education gave me the heave-ho but a small regional Catholic school (at Merrylands) gave me a job teaching economics and geography.

Although the school served a very working-class area, my students got outstanding results in their final High School examinations (the Higher School Certificate, which serves as the university entrance examination)

Lawyers, engineers and IT experts would be parachuted into classrooms to address crippling staff shortages under radical reforms that include pay rises of up to 40 per cent for the very best teachers.

The federal government’s Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership has laid out a blueprint for fixing the teacher shortage by recruiting university-educated workers to earn while they learn on the job to teach school students.

The plan includes a six to 12-month “paid internship’’ for career-changers to earn cash while upgrading their credentials with a two-year masters degree in education.

The reform recommendations from AITSL – the nation’s official agency for education quality – will be the focus of an emergency workforce summit with federal Education Minister Jason Clare and his state and territory counterparts next week.

AITSL also wants to improve the quality of university training for teachers.

Mr Clare said ministers would “pick the brains’’ of individual teachers and principals invited to the meeting. “We’ve got a teacher shortage right across the country at the moment,’’ he told federal parliament on Monday.

“There are more kids going to school now than ever before … but there are fewer people going on to university to study teaching.’’

Mr Clare said the number of teachers in training had dropped 16 per cent over the past decade.

“More and more teachers are leaving the profession early, either because they feel burnt out, worn out, or for other reasons’’ he said.

Mr Clare said the federal government was offering bursaries worth up to $40,000 for the “best and brightest’’ school leavers to enrol in a teaching degree.

He said the government’s High Achievers Teachers program would encourage more mid-career professionals to switch to the classroom.

AITSL chief executive Mark Grant said the nation’s top teachers – recognised as “highly accomplished’’ or “lead” teachers – are now being paid up to 10 per cent more than other teachers.

But he said lead teachers overseas were paid up to 40 per cent more than their colleagues, to prevent them quitting the profession for higher-paying jobs in other fields.

Translated to Australia, a 40 per cent pay rise would involve a $50,000 bonus to boost teacher salaries above $175,000. “The biggest influence on student learning is the quality of teaching,’’ Mr Grant told The Australian.

AITSL will propose the higher pay for lead teachers at the ministerial roundtable, which will also include teacher unions as well as Catholic and private school organisations.

The AITSL proposal – including a plan to fast-track other professionals into classroom teaching – is based on its submission to the Productivity Commission’s review of the National School Reform Agreement.

“There is evidence that increasing the level of pay for high-level positions would make the profession more attractive than more expensive generalised pay rises,’’ the submission states.

“Australia is facing a critical shortage of teachers due to a number of factors including growing school enrolments, a drop in the number of individuals enrolled in teaching degrees, an ageing workforce and a percentage of teachers leaving the profession to embark on different careers each year.

“Clear action is needed to ensure that a career in teaching is an attractive one.’’

AITSL notes that only 1025 teachers – or 0.3 per cent of the workforce – have been certified as lead teachers.

Education Minister Jason Clare says he doesn’t want Australia to be a country where life opportunities “depend on…
It recommends that states and territories create more “master teacher’’ roles, modelled on Singapore’s high-performing education system.

“These teachers would retain a significant classroom teaching load, but also be responsible for coaching other teachers to improve practice, supervising pre-service and beginning teachers, and leading initiatives to improve pedagogy within and across schools,’’ it states.

“Their pay should recognise their expertise and reward them for taking leadership roles in the system.’’

AITSL recommends that professionals such as engineers, scientists, lawyers, accountants and IT workers be allowed to work in schools for six to 12 months in paid internships, as part of their two-year master’s degree in education.

“The implementation of paid internships or residencies encourages high-quality candidates to complete an ITE (teaching) qualification, reducing the financial disincentives of undertaking study, including a lack of income,’’ it states.

“At the same time, internships increase the time spent in the classroom prior to full-time employment.

“Structured time spent in the classroom supports the pre-service teachers’ skill development in curriculum delivery and critical skills including classroom management and student engagement.’’

AITSL also wants to set up a national board to review university degrees for student teachers, to ensure “quality and consistency’’ of teacher training.

The AITSL blueprint for reform coincides with action from the NSW government to cut red tape for teachers in the nation’s biggest schooling system.

An extra 200 administrative staff will be sent into schools in term four to relieve teachers of some of the paperwork that principals warn is causing burnout.

NSW will also release high-quality, sequenced curriculum resources to help teachers plan for lessons.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the biggest tax on teachers’ time was sourcing or producing high-quality teaching resources.

“We want to ease that workload by providing online access to universally available learning curriculum materials they can draw from to free up lesson planning time each week,’’ Mr Perrottet said.

The Australian Primary Principals Association criticised the new national curriculum last week, declaring it was “impossible to teach’’.

The Australian Education Union has also blasted the curriculum, describing teachers’ workload as “excessive, unsustainable and unrealistic’’.

It says the two-year review of the curriculum, which had 20 per cent of its content cut in April, had failed to “declutter’’ the teaching document.

“Feedback from Queensland, which is the only jurisdiction to implement the Australian curriculum in full, suggests that the changes have not succeeded in this aim,’’ the AEU states in its submission to the Productivity Commission.

“The AEU has had numerous reports from teachers in Queensland that they are concerned about the workload implications of implementing the identified curriculum changes, and that there has been very little reduction of the cluttered curriculum, which is unlikely to improve student outcomes’’.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

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

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

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

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

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


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