Friday, July 23, 2021

How white Aussies who pretend to be Aboriginal are taking over universities and stealing high-paid jobs meant for real Indigenous Australians

Andrew Bolt blew the whistle on this some years back and was prosecuted for it

Aboriginal academic Victoria Grieve-Williams remembers the first time a white female acquaintance asked if she would support her claim to be Indigenous.

The woman was working in what was then the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and it would help her career if she was actually Aboriginal.

Dr Grieve-Williams, a Warraimaay woman from the mid-north coast of NSW and now adjunct professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, refused the woman's request.

'She actually called me and asked if I would support her in her claim to be an Aboriginal person,' Dr Grieve-Williams told Daily Mail Australia.

'I said to her that I couldn't do that because I didn't know anything about it. I'd always known her as a non-Aboriginal person.'

Ten years earlier the woman's mother, who worked at a university with Dr Grieve-Williams, had made a point of saying her daughter was not Aboriginal when they were discussing a particular course.

'Other people filled in the story with what was going on with her and why she wanted to be Aboriginal,' Dr Grieve-Williams said.

'A big reason was that she was working within ATSIC and they'd reclassified a job to be a position held by an Indigenous person. She told me that on the phone.'

The woman then sought to claim membership of an Aboriginal family group but they rejected her. A second mob did the same and she has since sought to identify with a third group that has not accepted her as one of their own.

The woman is now a professor at an Australian university where at least on paper she is considered Aboriginal.

Dr Grieve-Williams says the woman is one of growing number of Australians who claim to be Indigenous when they have no such ancestry.

These people are sometimes called 'box-tickers' - because they literally tick a box to say they are Aboriginal - but are known in Canada as Pretendians and in the United States as race-shifters.

Dr Grieve-Williams describes what they do as 'Indigenous identify fraud'.

'Aboriginal people are actually very badly affected by this,' she said. 'Universities and governments are employing so-called Aboriginal people without due diligence. 'High-level positions, huge salaries, great opportunities through Indigenous Business Australia, all of that's being gobbled up.

'There's no penalties, or checks and balances. These numbers are increasing.'

There is no way of knowing how many box-tickers there are in Australia but the practice seems particularly prevalent in academia and sectors of the public service where Aboriginality is sought and sometimes rewarded.

'It's a huge problem but the figures are difficult to assess,' Dr Grieve-Williams said.

Dr Grieve-Williams said Australian universities employed bogus Aboriginal academics as professors and right up to pro and deputy vice-chancellors.

How the government accepts Aboriginality

The federal government has applied a three-part test of Indigeneity since the 1980s. A person is considered Indigenous if he or she:

a) Is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent

b) Identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and

c) Is accepted as such by the Indigenous community in which he or she resides or has resided.

When accessing services intended to address the social, health and educational issues that Indigenous people often face, proof of Indigeneity is required to ensure the intention of the assistance is honoured.

Most individuals seeking government assistance are required to provide a certified statement from an appropriately qualified individual or organisation (such as a local land council) to prove their identity and eligibility to receive services.

'The interesting thing I'm finding with my research is that Aboriginal people always recognise them, they always know they're not Aboriginal,' Dr Grieve-Williams said. 'Aboriginal people have been saying, "Hold on, that person isn't one of us" and nobody takes any notice.

'It's not only Aboriginal people who recognise it. It's non-Aboriginal people too.'

Box-tickers, who are concentrated in major east coast cities, are appropriating a culture that is not theirs and taking jobs and resources meant for Aboriginal Australians.

'It's very surreal, particularly to a person my age because when I grew up the worst thing you could be was Aboriginal,' Dr Grieve-Williams said.

'Aboriginal people were so scorned and vilified. There were these nasty "Abo" jokes. I couldn't begin to tell you the depths of racism that I experienced.

'We were always made to feel in deficit. And now the tables have turned right around but it's not the real Aboriginal people who are getting the benefit from all of this.'

There are particular benefits for box-tickers within academia who falsely claim to be Aboriginal.

'The benefits are to do with status, you have a certain status when you're a recognised Aboriginal person,' Dr Grieve-Williams said. 'But the main benefit is material.

'People get promoted very quickly. The interesting thing is box-tickers, or those committing identity fraud, seem to get the big jobs.

'They're promoted over other Aboriginal people. We joke and we say they're better at being Aboriginal people than we are.'

Until recently, the focus in Australia on box-tickers has been on outing individuals - in what some see as a witch hunt - but race-shifting is now recognised to be an international phenomenon.

Dr Grieve-Williams, a historian, spoke on the topic in May at a conference held by the Canadian Anthropology Society at the University of Guelph, Ontario.

She and fellow conference contributors were concerned the willingness to adopt a fake Aboriginal persona was causing real harm to genuine Indigenous people.

'I just thought this needs to be viable new area for research the way that it is in the United States and Canada,' Dr Grieve-Williams said. 'We need to be able to research this without a lot of opprobrium.

'The voices in Australia in defence of Indigenous identity fraud are very shrill, they're very damaging. You can be absolutely cancelled out because a lot of people have something to protect.

'One of the things that's been established in the United States and Canada is that the Pretendians support each other and it's the same thing in Australia.

'They will give each other jobs, they will give each other references, and they will often be quite aggressive and ostracising of real Aboriginal people.'

Dr Grieve-Williams said non-Aboriginal people taking public service jobs meant for Aboriginal applicants were known as 'nine-to-five blacks' and caused resentment.

'If you've got a person who comes in who calls themselves Aboriginal but who actually doesn't know anything about being Aboriginal then they rely on other people to inform them,' she said.

'They call them nine-to-five blacks because they're only black when they're in the office and then they go home to their white lives.'

Another term, 'black cladding', refers to a non-Indigenous business masquerading as an Indigenous business by deceptive marketing which invents or exaggerates Aboriginal involvement in the enterprise.

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt - who is Indigenous - said there were government guidelines to reduce such fraud.

'Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander identity is something that is personal and can be extremely complex,' the spokeswoman said.

'Where concerns around a person's Indigeneity are raised, it is important that these concerns are considered on a case-by-case basis in an appropriate and sensitive manner.'

A spokesman for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment said: 'Verifying student and staff identities are matters for individual universities.'

Dr Grieve-Williams was frustrated the box-ticking problem was not taken more seriously by governments.

She said any debate was stifled by those with vested interests and that the fakes protested personal offence when their Aboriginality was challenged.

'The people who are committing this identify fraud, they cry lateral violence. They say, "Are you questioning my Aboriginality? I'm getting traumatised by this".'

It is indisputable the number of Australians who say they are Aboriginal has been increasing for decades at a rate far faster than the broader population, or that can be explained by births.

The last Census, conducted in 2016, estimated there were 798,400 Indigenous Australians - Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or both - making up 3.3 per cent of the citizenry.

That number was an increase of 19 per cent - or 128,500 people - on the estimate of 669,900 from the previous 2011 Census.

During the same period the whole Australian population grew by just 8.4 per cent to 24,210,800.

Since the introduction of a Standard Indigenous Question in 1996 - 'Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?' - the Census count of Indigenous Australians had increased by 83.9 per cent.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics cites several factors in this increase, including higher fertility rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

But it also recognises some respondents change whether or not they identify as Indigenous between Censuses, the next of which will be taken on August 10.

Part of the increase can be attributed to Australians discovering a previously unknown forebear, or a late acceptance of a once-shunned Aboriginal ancestry.

But at least some of these box-tickers are likely to be moved by a belief that to be white in modern Australia is to accept being part of a dark colonial history deeply associated with guilt.

Anecdotes suggest there is a mindset that identifying as Aboriginal seems more exotic, or might somehow afford claimants some spiritual connection with the land that doesn't exist.

Censuses record Australians in age brackets and there are not enough 'new' Indigenous individuals in the 0-4 years range each five years to account for the rise.

Between 2011 and 2016 almost every five-year Indigenous age cohort under 70 increased in size. And where the increases occur shows box-tickers don't live in the bush.

'The growth in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 2011 and 2016 is not consistent across the country, with growth primarily occurring in major cities and on the eastern coast of Australia,' the Australian Bureau of Statistics states.

Dr Grieve-Williams has a store of tales about white people suddenly - or conveniently - deciding they were black.

'A friend of mine was running an ATSIC office in Tasmania in the 1990s and the Aboriginal population in Tasmania had just suddenly boomed by 13,000 people. She said people were just able to do it.'

'I'll never forget at one student meeting at a university in Brisbane this young man said that he was Aboriginal because he supported Aboriginal people's aims.

'He actually thought that was all he had to do to be Aboriginal. Then somebody said is your family Aboriginal and he said no.'


'Sick and tired of sport being ruined by politics': Pauline Hanson unleashes on the Matildas for posing with the Aboriginal flag at the Olympics

Pauline Hanson has unleashed on Olypmic athletes the Matildas after they posed with the Aboriginal flag at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Australian women's soccer side posed with the flag ahead of their Olympic Games opener against New Zealand in Tokyo on Wednesday night.

Ms Hanson claimed the moment was 'a slap in the face to all Australians' and accused the team of 'hijacking' the sporting competition.

The One Nation leader claimed the gesture was a 'token' effort to be politically correct.

'Australians are sick and tired of their favourite sports being ruined by politics,' Ms Hanson wrote in her press release on Friday.

'Indigenous flags don't represent all Australians. There's only one flag which truly represents all of us.'

After they posed with the flag, The Matildas then stood arm-in-arm on the halfway line as their Kiwi opponents dropped to one knee in a show of support against racism prior to the kick off.

But Ms Hanson said the gesture was designed to 'inflame division' rather than promote solidarity.

'Taxpayers don't shell out millions of dollars to send Olympic teams to represent two nations. We're one nation, Australia, indigenous and non-indigenous alike,' she said.

'Australians supporting their Olympic team deserve an explanation from the Australian Olympic Committee, and I'm sure they want to know what the Prime Minister has to say about it too.'

The Aboriginal flag was declared by law as the of the official flags of the nation in 1995.

The design of the flag includes three colours - black representing First Nations people, yellow representing the sun, and red the earth.

Viewers watching back home appreciated the inclusive gesture, but some also questioned why the team chose not to pose with the Australian flag.

'Hey Matildas.. you represent Australia. The Aboriginal flag is not the Australian flag,' one fan wrote.

Another added: 'I absolutely love watching the Matildas play but why the hell did they display the Aboriginal flag and not the Australian flag? It is such a strange, divisive situation for a country to have two flags in my opinion.

Others accused the Matildas of making a political statement.

'When will sport just be about getting on and playing sport, yes I agree statements need to be made about political issues but there is a place for that to happen surely,' one viewer commented.

Another questioned why the Matildas also didn't take a knee prior to kick-off.

'Lots of questions about the Matildas at the Olympics. Strong choice in not holding the Australian flag only the Aboriginal flag, but then not taking a knee like their NZ counterparts. Anyone know why or did I miss it?,' one woman tweeted.

But many viewers were pleased to see the Aboriginal flag on display.

'Well done Matildas for standing arm in arm in a show of unity and togetherness for all Australian cultures , if only those who kneel new the true value of equality,' one fan wrote.

Matildas captain Sam Kerr defended the gesture after the match and said decided on consultation with fellow indigenous members in the squad.

'We are really proud of it,' the star striker said following the 2-1 win against the New Zealanders.

'It's something we spoke about a lot as a team. 'We let the Indigenous girls drive it.'

'We didn't want to do something that goes along with the grain, we wanted to do something that was relevant for our country.'

Australia takes on world number five ranked Sweden in their next clash on Saturday who caused a massive upset on Wednesday night by defeating gold medal favourites USA 3-0.


Gas a critical interim energy source in move to renewables

When much of Queensland was blacked out by a power station explosion, it wasn’t renewables that came to the rescue, writes Des Houghton.

You could be forgiven for thinking there would have been a soaring demand for lovely green renewable power after the catastrophic explosion and fire that disrupted the Callide power station causing widespread blackouts in May.

Alas, it was not wind or solar power that came to the rescue, it was gas.

“The figures don’t lie. In Queensland’s hour of need it was gas that came to the rescue,” Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association CEO Andrew McConville said.

In fact the use of gas to generate power doubled to more than 20 per cent. Solar was hovering around 5 per cent and wind power much less.

“Gas has once again shown its versatility and reliability, literally keeping the lights on,” he said.

“Gas can do things that renewables simply can’t, including providing feedstock to manufacturing plants and helping create everyday products such as clothes, computers, phones, fertilisers and vital medical equipment such as heart valves.’’

The association’s Queensland chief Matt Paull said gas was worth $11.1 billion to the Queensland economy each year, and directly and indirectly employed more than 47,000 Queenslanders.

That is something for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to ponder as she continues to demonise hydrocarbons and criticise federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese for visiting a mine.

Paull said the sector has also invested more than $70 billion in Queensland’s economy to develop the natural gas and LNG industries.

Government estimates Australia’s LNG has the potential to lower emissions in LNG importing countries by around 170 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year by providing an alternative to higher emissions fuels – the equivalent of almost one-third of Australia’s total annual emissions.

Renewables will have their day, but not yet.


Australia's education crisis laid bare with shocking data showing one in five adults are unable to read or do math - as experts warn it will only get WORSE

Australia needs a national plan on reading, writing and numeracy for adults because learning at school is no longer enough, educators have told a federal inquiry.

The inquiry heard shame and embarrassment were also barriers to learning and people need to be reassured they are not alone.

One in five Australians, or around three million adults, have low literacy and/or numeracy scores, federal parliament's employment, education and training committee heard on Monday.

The educators and community workers called for a national plan to stop Australia from falling behind the rest of the developed world.

Language and literacy education expert Joseph Lo Bianco called for co-ordination, standard-setting and innovation from the Commonwealth.

'Adult literacy is no longer a welfare activity by good-hearted people,' Professor Bianco said.

'That's not enough.'

He said Australia was facing a historic moment as other nations adjusted to technology.

'We have to keep in mind artificial intelligence which, combined with cyber systems, is going to require much higher levels of comprehension and functioning than we've ever had.'

People who are adequate on reading and writing often nosedive in performance when numbers and charts are added, the committee heard.

Rapid change means learning on the job is becoming too risky.

Adult educators said farmers were coming forward to seek help in understanding the use of toxic chemicals and making critical decisions.

Australian Council for Educational Research spokeswoman Louise Wignall said aged care was another area needing strong digital literacy, for clinical notes and online learning for qualifications.

People need to know what words mean when applied in the real world.

'In real estate, it's location, location, location. In literacy, it's context, context, context,' Ms Wignall said.

Numerous reviews over the years have highlighted the need to target and support the improvement of adult and youth language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy across Australia.

Lowitja Institute chair Pat Anderson slammed mainstream models for First Nations peoples.

'These models in the past have just not worked,' she said.

Ms Anderson said it was public policy when her mother was young to not teach her to read and write.

'This is the perennial issue for the nation, that we still haven't really dealt with,' she said.

First Nations educators said bilingual learning would help young ones.

Australian Education Union boss Susan Hopgood said one quarter of Australian children arrive at school without the skills they need to learn, and never catch up.

'The intergenerational impacts of low literacy demonstrate exactly why the Commonwealth should prioritise resourcing for all levels of education,' she said.

The committee was keen on Victoria's state-funded 'learn local' model that offers a safe, non-stigmatised environment for adults.

'Learn local is really reducing a lot of barriers,' Victorian Council of Social Service policy officer Deb Fewster said.




Monday, July 05, 2021

Calls for the return of the one-year teaching qualification

The head of Catholic Schools NSW says a one-year graduate diploma of education should be reintroduced to make it easier for people who hold other degrees - particularly in maths and science - to become teachers.

A teacher shortage is already biting in NSW, particularly in regional and disadvantaged areas, and will get worse as a large group of older teachers retire and fewer young people elect to begin teaching degrees.

As the Herald reported last week, the number of students beginning education degrees in NSW dropped by almost a third between 2014 and 2019, and a national study found about half of students that do begin don’t finish.

A NSW Education Standards Authority study last year also found about 10 per cent of teachers leave the profession within six years of graduating.

Aspiring teachers can either study a four-year undergraduate degree, a five-year combined degree, or a master’s degree, which takes roughly two years. They must also pass literacy and numeracy tests.

They used to be able to do a one-year graduate diploma, but that was cut under a new, national approach to the accreditation of education degrees, phased in from 2013, which required all postgraduate programs be two years’ long.

“The trend in postgraduate completions since 2014 has seen a greater decline in ITE [Initial Teacher Education] completions relative to all fields (which have increased),” said a recent Commonwealth discussion paper, issued as part of a federal review of teaching degrees.

Catholic Schools chief executive, Dallas McInerney, said the teaching profession should be a standards-based one, and NESA and the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership were already responsible for establishing and monitoring those standards.

But with standards in place, there should be flexibility in how potential teachers reached them. “If the standard is fixed, then the time meeting it or the way you meet those standards can be variable,” he said. “The variable could be the two-year master’s, a one-year dip ed, or recognition for past learning.

“I don’t think we should get rid of the two-year master’s. There’s a place for it, and those who want a more fulsome experience should have it. But we need to contemplate that the one-year dip ed is the right thing for some people … particularly in secondary settings.”

Many within the profession argue that a one-year course would be too short for primary school teachers, as they have to teach across the curriculum and understand child development. But it could suit secondary teachers who already have a degree in the subject they intend to teach.

However, Professor Mary Ryan, the president of the NSW Council of Education Deans, said governments should “be very careful” about reducing the time for a degree as much work has been done on quality preparation, “particularly in light of the increasing diversity of student cohorts and contexts”.

“We need teachers to understand how to gather, interpret and use multiple forms of evidence to improve teaching and student outcomes, including wellbeing outcomes,” she said.

“We can certainly look at flexible approaches that get teacher education students into paid positions a bit sooner while they continue their degree.”

But Professor Ryan said there were other reasons the profession was struggling to attract recruits, such as pay and lack of career progression, as it only takes six to eight years to earn the maximum salary.

Geoff Newcombe, the head of the Association of Independent Schools NSW, also opposed the re-introduction of the one-year qualification, saying teaching was more complex than ever and required a wide range of skills.

“We certainly need more teachers, but we need them with a new skill set,” he said. “Our teaching institutions have to graduate teachers as close to classroom ready, and our schools have to support them. Our focus has to be on quality.”

He said systems should look at alternatives such as a “sophisticated apprenticeship model”, and having more professional, non-teaching roles within schools, in areas such as wellbeing and mental health.


Weaponizing our criminal justice system against men

Bettina Arndt

I have a revelation for you – a tribute to the awe-inspiring success of the feminist juggernaut using our justice system to destroy men. Last week there was an important presentation by prominent Sydney barrister Margaret Cunneen. She was speaking at The Presumption of Guilt Conference run by the Rule of Law Education Centre.

As many Australians know, Cunneen is a woman with impeccable credentials to comment on the criminal justice system. She has spent well over 30 years at the coalface, decades as a crown prosecutor convicting some of our most prominent rapists and other villains and then, as a commissioner in charge of a large child abuse investigation. Now she’s back at the bar, successfully defending an endless queue of accused men, including many alleged rapists.

Her online presentation focussed on the impact of the new sexual consent laws that Attorney General Mark Speakman aims to ram through NSW parliament. Speakman appointed the NSW Law Reform Commission to examine proposed changes to these laws but then ignored their warnings about the injustice that could result and proudly announced he is giving the feminists what they want

Feminist academics have been lobbying for years for a yes means yes affirmative consent model where enthusiastic consent must be given at every stage throughout the sexual encounter. Under the new laws an accused must now prove to have taken active steps to ascertain consent throughout the sexual proceedings. And as Cunneen pointed out, this renders most of the sex most of us have as potentially illegal.

A perfect system

But the main game here is to provide more cannon fodder – a new supply of accused men to face a justice system already weaponised against them.

That was the real bombshell in the Cunneen presentation – her expose of the extent to which the feminists have already succeeded in stacking the system by removing the filtering system which once ensured that only rape cases with sufficient evidence went through to trial. Now almost all cases are pushed through into court, where many get thrown out by juries.

That means conviction rates go down, inspiring more rage from the feminists, more politicians frothing at the mouth demanding more be done to ensure the safety of women and ever more legal measures to ensure rapists get their comeuppance.

It’s just perfect, a carefully calibrated system to ensure the feminist project just keeps gaining more momentum - very like the ever-expanding definition of domestic violence, soon to include “coercive control”, which ensures an unending supply of victims and an expanding cash cow as governments pour in funds to address the problem.

Have a look at the small video I’ve made highlighting some of Cunneen’s key points. I do hope you will really help this gain public attention. This is the first time a major player has blown the whistle on the dire state of one of our key institutions.

What Cunneen says really matters.

The zeal to convict

What’s very telling is Cunneen talks about how much things have changed since she worked as a crown prosecutor. “Even before things used to hit the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, police had a filtering process. They are no longer permitted to do that.” No longer permitted to determine on the basis of evidence whether the case had legs. No longer permitted to do proper investigations to see where the truth lies.

Police are now required to refer in their “facts sheets” to complainants as “victims” and treat them accordingly, says Cunneen, adding police have very little discretion or often, none at all, about proceeding to charge.

As Cunneen explains, “with ownership of the case the police then want the case to succeed.” After the complainant has been declared a ‘victim,’ the system then takes hold. “There's not much more investigation that goes on, there's just a zeal to get to the end and to convict the charged person.”

How frightening is that? I’ve seen how this works in cases that I regularly encounter through Mothers of Sons and supporting accused students on campus. The police are hiding evidence that might weaken the case against the accused, they coach complainants to try to trick the accused into confessing in taped phone calls, they refuse to interview witnesses or examine social media evidence that could help the accused. The zeal works just one way.

Margaret Cunneen spells out the fact that we are now seeing lower rates of conviction because so many weak cases are no longer being filtered out by the police and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The result is more cases failing, complainants feeling let down by the system.

But wonderful data providing fodder for the feminists to feed to our captured media to make the case for more to be done about our failed justice system.

The international cabal

Perhaps this seems a little far-fetched, suggesting that there is a deliberate effort to drive down conviction rates to promote more measures to convict men of rape?

Well, have a look at what’s happening overseas as feminist lawyers play the same blame game. Look at the news from the UK last week where the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland came under pressure to resign if he can’t reverse the plunging rape conviction rates. Within days he was on the BBC apologising to victims and promising to "do a lot better".

Similarly, over the ditch activists in New Zealand are in the news complaining the rate of successful rape convictions in 2020 was the lowest for more than 10 years.

Diana Davison is co-founder of The Lighthouse Project, a Canadian non-profit that helps the falsely accused. She reported this week that Canada now has “an automatic charge policy on sexual assault complaints. The police have no discretion and must lay charges if the complainant describes a sexual assault. Investigation is discouraged. Of course, this results in fewer convictions.”

In Canada too there are media headlines despairing that despite more rape victims coming forward these are resulting in fewer convictions. There’s a big push on for affirmative consent laws as well as specialized courts for sexual assault accusations. How’s that for a great idea to do away with pesky juries that mighty let rapists off the hook? The feminist inventiveness holds no bounds.

A criminal law is not a social work convention.

It’s highly significant when the first law officer for the state of NSW announces that his new sexual consent laws “send the message that survivor's calls for reform have been heard.”

Cunneen did a great job explaining that a criminal trial “is not a social work forum or a psychology convention. It's not there to provide the complainant with some kind of solace or affirmation or tremendous triumph. It's not about the complainant.” Cunneen explained that as a defence council, she tells juries that “it is a very nice and a lovely kind thing to believe your child or your neighbour or your friend if he or she says that they've been sexually assaulted. … But a jury has to act judicially.”

That means understanding that the criminal case is not about the victim: “It's the accused whose liberty is at stake in a criminal trial. It is he – generally it’s a ‘he’ - who's been arrested and thrown into custody until bail can be sought, who has had his home raided and searched by police, who's had to pledge his life savings or have his parents mortgage their house to get out for legal fees and whose life is on hold for two or three years.”

The stakes are high, warns Cunneen. “We are really blurring lines here and men, all men and mothers and sisters and friends of men ought to be very concerned because what wasn't rape last year may be rape next year if the purpose of these reforms is simply to increase the numbers of people who are convicted of rape.”

And that is the point. This has nothing to do with promoting justice. It is all to do with punishing men.


The environmental case that was too confusing even for judge

A major criminal case stalled when a judge said the summary of the essential facts presented by the prosecution was gobbledygook.

District Court judge Leanne Clare SC told a pre-trial hearing she had difficulty understanding the case brought by the Crown against four Linc Energy directors charged with Environmental Protection Act breaches.

She struck out the particulars presented Ralph Devlin QC, instructed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and asked for a new set to be presented to the court later this month.

Clare said: “I had expected that the Crown would distil its case in a way that was comprehensible by a jury.

“I just can’t leave a case to the jury in terms that you’ve expressed so far. It’s just so broad and so long and I had struggled to understand what is actually being said.

“I have to go through a process of translation for myself, but it’s just gobbledygook.’’

Clare said there needed to be more clarity and told Devlin “the Crown has to tie its colours to the mast, and it has to say what this case is about that can be grasped’’.

The charges relate to allegations of pollution caused at an experimental underground coal gasification plant at Hopeland on the Darling Downs.

In 2007 the venture was hailed by then premier Peter Beattie as a project of state significance using Smart State “clean-coal technology”.

Linc directors Peter Bond, 58, of Razorback, NSW, Donald Schofield, 70, from Texas, USA, Stephen Dumble, 60, of Dalkeith, Western Australia, and Daryl Owen Rattai, 61, of Maribyrnong, Victoria, now stand accused of failing in their duties as directors on various dates between 2007 and 2013.

It was alleged their wilful and unlawful activities contributed to serious environmental harm around the plant near Chinchilla on the western Darling Downs.

Devlin said the case was complex.

He said the prosecution would rely upon its expert evidence in relation to the deleterious impact on environmental values.

Clare said the alleged adverse impacts were not expressed in ordinary language.

She told the court: “It has to be in English and it has to be … something that is capable of being proved.

“You need to set out your core facts in a way that can be understood. And unless you can do that, I can’t send this case to trial.’’

She added: “I cannot direct a jury on these particulars in a way that I am confident they would understand.

“The Crown case needs to be clear; needs to be crystallised.”

The underground coal gasification process involved igniting coal underground and drawing off the gas through a series of wells.

Linc told investors it also wanted to produce gas-to-liquid fuels, including diesel and aviation fuel.

The court heard the trial due to start in December was complicated and would take four months, possible six. There were at least 30 witnesses. It is shaping up to be one of the longest and most expensive in Queensland history.

Divorce, bankruptcy and citizenship issues – these are all matters that might land you in court. But not all courts are created equal.

Crown Law had earlier identified 3000 documents it considered relevant to the case, said Justin Greggery QC, for Bond, a former chief executive at Linc Energy.

However, the defence had not received a crucial document pertaining to G1, or gasifier one, where the initial underground trials began.




Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Classism in Australia is 'real'. Meet the crusaders calling it out

This is just a Left-wing whine from the ABC. It makes its case entirely by argument from example. You can prove just about anything that way

Let me turn the tables by using a different example, my own. My father was a lumberjack, just about the humblest occupation known. And he was a punchy redhead, well within the sterotype. So my schooling was terminated after junior school and I received no support from my parents from that time on.

So was I thereby condemned to a humble life of no distinction? Hardly. I earned a doctorate, achieved academic distinction and became a millionaire

It's possible that I was from time to time a target of class prejudice but I was never aware of it. I was always aware of being treated as an individual, often with respect

So who is typical? Myself or the whiners rounded up by the ABC? There is no way of telling. The entire article is a castle built on sand with no hint of real scholarship. I would happily tell them about sample surveys and pychometrics if they cared to listen

When Amanda Rose stepped up on stage to speak at a business conference six years ago, she didn't get the introduction she was expecting.

The MC described her to the crowd as being "from Parramatta — but that's OK because ... she's gorgeous. She's smart and she is dating a politician".

She felt humiliated. And it wasn't the first time.

"I've dealt with the stigma my whole life and, as a businesswoman, it's still there," she tells ABC RN's This Working Life.

At the same event, she was instructed by organisers not to "admit" to her Western Sydney roots.

Her experience defies a belief held by many Australians.

About 57 per cent of Australians who participated in the Australia Talks National Survey 2021 believe the perseverance and diligence of hard work pays off regardless of the circumstances they've been born into.

However, the proportion of people who believe hard work makes all the difference has fallen since 2019, when it was 69 per cent.

Despite the shift, it seems the old adage about all Australians being given a "fair go" is still deeply entrenched in the Australian psyche.

So does going to the right school really matter, do employers really care what suburb you're from and, if there are different social classes, is it possible to move between them? We asked those that have experienced classism.

Hard work doesn't always pay off
"Here's a Blacktown boy turned good."

"Haven't you done well for yourself?"

Rose, founder of business and women's network Western Sydney Women, says phrases like these are just some of the ways people flag another's social class.

They reflect an attitude she has found to be rife in her work environments.

Rose says she was "blocked so much" in the business world because of her connection to Western Sydney that she decided: "Screw this, I'll start my own network".

She's cautious about overcoming the challenges. "[The] one thing I believe we can't change is classism. We can change everything else," she says.

Class plays a huge role at work

Diversity Council of Australia chief executive Lisa Annese agrees class barriers are "real" and argues they are missing from the national conversation about inclusion.

Too bogan, too privileged?

A stand alone run down house against a bush backdrop
Have you ever been judged for where you live? Postcode stigma is rife in Australia — and the people who live in affluent areas aren't immune.

"We know that if you went to a certain school, if you went to the right universities, you have the right networks, then you're much more likely to be successful in Australian business," she says.

She says social class is defined by a number of factors including a family's wealth, a person's education, personal and professional networks, job and income.

While Australians often "deny that class even exists", it has the greatest impact on opportunities and inclusion in workplaces, Annese says.

Fighting and working harder

Author and journalist Rick Morton knows what it's like to feel different from others because of class.

Morton grew up in poverty in country Queensland, and says it became apparent early in his career he'd "have to fight harder" and "work harder than everyone else just to be in the same position".

"We all want everyone to have a fair go to be treated equally but it's not the case in practice," says Morton, who has written about his experience in the memoir, One Hundred Years of Dirt.

When he moved to the Gold Coast at 18 on a university scholarship tied to a newspaper cadetship, he says he was "unequipped" for the change.

"I had no idea, not just no money but no idea about how money functioned," Morton says.

"I had no cultural capital. I didn't know how to have conversations with people who were from ... the 'right' schools. I didn't grow up with the 'right' books in my house."

He remembers struggling to pay for rent, food and bus fares while being unable to manage the workload of university and work.

Years later, while working for a major newspaper, he began writing about people living in poverty and realised most of his work colleagues looked at those issues from positions of privilege.

"What I was trying to do was knit together some kind of understanding for people who have never lived any of the things I tried to convince them of and so it was really difficult."

In editorial meetings while discussing the federal government's plans to charge patients a $7 GP co-payment, editors dismissed how much the charge would mean to some people.

"I remember thinking $7 is literally the difference between whether [my mum] can eat or not in any given week," Morton says.

Both Morton and Rose believe speaking up is a powerful tool for change.

Morton says in the past he's been "terrified" to voice concerns or ideas but he now realises the people around him wouldn't have minded a debate.

Rose suggests a different approach to shifting stigma around class.

"Do not expect people to accept you," she says.

"The most powerful thing you can do is not care about what people think but start to speak up about who you are, where you're from and be proud of it."


Senate deal signals path to deal on new nuclear waste site

Decades of wrangling over laws to store Australia’s nuclear waste have come to an end, clearing the way for a remote site to replace city facilities that are running out of capacity as nuclear medicine becomes more common.

The federal government backed down on a key feature of the bill to gain Labor’s support in the upper house on Monday, removing a provision that named Kimba in South Australia as the new storage location.

The outcome is crucial to the long federal dispute over a new storage facility to take waste that is currently sent to Lucas Heights in the southern suburbs of Sydney, the location of Australia’s only nuclear reactor.

The amended bill leaves it to the federal minister to choose the location in a compromise agreed to by Resources Minister Keith Pitt and Labor counterpart Madeleine King.

But the changes also set up a judicial review of the location if there is a dispute over the minister’s choice, setting up an avenue for opponents of the Kimba site to challenge the decision in the courts.

Mr Pitt has warned capacity will run out at Lucas Heights by 2030 as more Australians rely on nuclear medicine to treat cancer and other illnesses, creating a crisis if Parliament cannot agree on a new location.

The Labor caucus agreed last week to leave the negotiations on the bill to Ms King and the party’s federal leadership team, with social services spokeswoman Linda Burney among those who backed the move.

The Senate agreement ends four decades of disagreement on nuclear storage but does not lock-in Kimba as the new site, even though 62 per cent of the local community voted in favour of the proposal in a community ballot run by the Australian Electoral Commission last year.

Kimba mayor Dean Johnson has met Labor leader Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to convey the community’s support for the facility, which would be built at Napandee, a farm on the Eyre Peninsula.

The bill passed the Senate late on Monday by 43 to 13 votes with majority support from the Coalition and Labor.


Great Barrier Reef operators slam UN recommendation to list reef as 'in danger'

Reef tourism operators say they are bewildered by a draft recommendation to list the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger", saying the world's largest living organism is "healthy" and "beautiful".

The World Heritage Committee, which sits under UNESCO, has proposed moving the reef to the list because of the impact of climate change, and will consider the decision at a meeting in China, which is the chair, next month.

"Has anyone from UNESCO prior to COVID actually flown out here, gone to areas in the Great Barrier Reef and had a snorkel?

"Did they wake up, have a coffee and think: Here's a great idea, let's label the Great Barrier Reef as 'in danger'?

"Yes the reef has had its challenges with crown-of-thorns starfish and cyclones but the reef is healthy and rebuilds itself."

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, a non-profit group that represents reef tourism operators, said it was also surprised about the recommendation to list the reef as "in danger".

"Yes, the reef has got its challenges and the tourism industry does not deny that and that's why we work so hard to operate at high environmental standards and play a role in monitoring the health of the reef and feeding that information back," Mr Phillips said.

"The reef is a big, beautiful diverse place and it is certainly not a lost cause.

"These sorts of listings are demoralising and it also has an impact on tourism, people don't want to go out and see something that they think is dead."

Mr Garden said any recommendation to list the reef as in danger would have a negative impact on tourism.

"It's not just Cairns or the Great Barrier Reef that it will have an impact on, it's Australian tourism as well," Mr Garden said.

"People will say, hang on, the reef is dying or dead so we won't worry about going to Australia."


Monday, June 21, 2021

How the Torres Strait's culture, geography and colonial experience is shaping crime and justice

At last some gradual official recognition is being given to the realities of the Torres Strait people. Officialdom is at last beginning to recognize what people in the Far North have always known: That Aborigines and islanders are two very different races with very different characteristics. The do-gooders insist that they are all "indigeous" and therefore all the same but that is the ignorance of people who cannot see past brown skin.

The Torres Strait people are Melanesians -- from nearby New Guinea. They are not from Australia at all and tend to have a low opinion of Aborigines. They are seagoing and maintin gardens to feed themselves, something virtually unknown among Aborigines.

In Far North Queensland where I grew up, there were always both Aborigines and Islanders around. We knew both well.

Aborigines mostly lived in welfare housing on the dole while the islanders were often buying their own homes, for instance. And the difference in temperament was stark. Islanders were big cheerful healthy men always ready for a song who would look you in the eye and shake your hand -- very desirable citizens. I will forbear comment on how we saw Aborigines.

In the Torres Strait, it can sometimes take hours, even days, for police to arrive after a crime's been reported. And often, by the time officers step foot on the island, the situation has been resolved.

Research shows islands in the Torres Strait, which stretch for 150-kilometres from the northern-most tip of Queensland to the coast of Papua New Guinea, have lower property crime rates than many non-Indigenous communities.

A recent Australian Institute of Criminology report debunks the generalisation that all Indigenous communities are riddled with crime.

John Scott, one of the report's authors, says the Torres Strait region's crime figures are similar to those of "a relatively well-off white agricultural community on the mainland".

"And it's beset by the same sorts of crime problems as we'd expect to find in that type of setting," Professor Scott tells ABC RN's Law Report.

According to the report, between 2001 and 2018, crimes against a person such as assault were lower in the Torres Strait region than in Queensland Aboriginal communities, but higher than for the whole of the state, while property offences were slightly lower than the Queensland average.

Professor Scott says while the region is economically disadvantaged, like many country communities, it has high levels of "social capital" that may be keeping crime down. This includes cultural mediation, community involvement and support as well as long-practiced traditions.

"We argue that in explaining these rates of crime, you've really got to understand the high levels of social capital that exists in the Torres Strait," Professor Scott says.

"Social capital is something that's not really identified with Indigenous communities in this country, which ... is a real error." 'We're not all the same'

Queensland Magistrate James Morton, who is a Torres Strait Islander, says it's important that Indigenous communities across Australia are not grouped together.

"The notion that every Indigenous person is the same, I find that is a long-dated colonial view of things," Magistrate Morton says.

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Factors like location, community and culture all have an influence on crime rates, he explains.

Magistrate Morton, who co-authored the Australian Institute of Criminology report, says family and long-standing traditions continue to be a large part of island life providing structure and a community harmony.

But belonging to a smaller communities can be a "double-edged sword", he says.

Shame, embarrassment and family dynamics appear to keep overall crime rates low, while people are less likely to report domestic violence.

What justice looks like in the Torres Strait

C'Zarke Maza, the Torres Strait regional manager of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal service, says communities often deal with their "own issues" before matters are retro-fitted into the mainstream legal system.

Each island has its own community justice group made up of elders who apply protocols and customs when dealing with a crime.

They never deal with allegations of domestic violence.

The justice groups were set up in Queensland as a response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

They provide cultural information reports at sentencing and during bail hearings, as well as contribute to unique forms of local justice like cultural mediation.

Mr Maza, a descendant of the Meriam people of Murray Island and Yidinji people near Cairns, says each group operates differently.

He says while cultural mediation exists in other areas of Australia, the practice has been adapted for the Torres Strait way of life.

"It's where the elders get together with the offender, with the victim, and pretty much they mediate using traditional island practices that have existed from time immemorial," Mr Maza, who is based on Thursday Island, says.

Charges for low-level offending, like wilful damage or low-grade assault, are struck out of court and dismissed after successful mediation.

Mr Maza says the process has seen a reduction in repeat offenders.

"It is certainly quite confrontational for them being face-to-face with a victim," he says.

"Normally they [the complainant] are put on the sidelines and the police end up taking over but this way they have a say and their voice is heard through the process.

"This empowers the justice group elders because really it's recognising the position and the power that they play in the communities."

Professor Scott, the head of Queensland University of Technology's School of Justice, believes the region's colonial experience, geography and history of community policing continues to shape it.

He says colonisation was "less impactful" in the Strait compared to other parts of Australia where people were displaced by the pastoral industry.

"A lot of people still speak English as a second language. The culture is still relatively intact," he says.

Other contributing factors, he says, are the remoteness of some islands and literally having nowhere to run if you commit a crime.


Should the Crime and Corruption Commission be abolished?

Fire MacSporran

Has Queensland’s crime watchdog become a mangy mongrel that needs a bullet behind the ear?

More politely, should the Crime and Corruption Commission be shut down, or have its powers curtailed for its own protection and ours?

Before I tell you what I think, we must consider the CCC’s botched Logan council prosecution that destroyed careers and hurt families.

It is perhaps the biggest failure of the CCC since it came into being as the Criminal Justice Commission in 1989 as the post-Fitzgerald gatekeeper.

The Logan investigation was described as a “travesty of justice” by Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson, the president of the Local Government Association of Queensland.

“Lives, reputations and careers have been ruined and a duly-elected council wrongly dismissed,” he said.

Member for Ryan Julian Simmons told federal parliament the Palaszczuk government must also shoulder some of the blame.

In calling for CCC chairman Alan MacSporran to stand aside, Simmons said the Queensland Government was warned the charges against the seven councillors would not hold up.

He said: “At the time the fraud charges were laid by the CCC the independent legal advice from multiple senior counsel ALL advised the criminal charges had no chance of success.

“This was all presented to the Queensland Government at the time but despite all that the democratically elected council was dismissed.’’

Now Robert Setter, the Queensland Public Service Commissioner, has highlighted what may be the CCC’s greatest failure in the fight against corruption inside government.

In a worrying submission to a parliamentary committee he said the CCC he often referred corruption complaints back to government departments that were entirely ill-equipped to deal with them.

“Concerns have been raised about the referral of corrupt conduct matters by the CCC back to agencies with no, or very limited, capability to handle them, or where the allegations involve the chief executive or member of a board,’’ Setter said.

Clerk of the parliament Neil Laurie echoed similar sentiments. He warned public confidence in the CCC was undermined when it referred complaints against police back to police to investigate.

I also suspect CCC routinely fails to fully investigate complaints directed at the Queensland Cabinet and the union-controlled public service.

There is perceived political bias (to me, anyway) in favour of the ALP. This was evident when Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was found to be in contempt of parliament over her threats to strip Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) MPs of staff.

The CCC said there was “prima facie” evidence Palaszczuk breached the Criminal Code. But it let her off, referring the case back to the parliamentary committee where Labor has a majority and the Premier would never be sanctioned.

Palaszczuk’s former deputy Jackie Trad and her Transport Minister Mark “Mangocube” Bailey likewise escape sanctions after becoming embroiled in allegations of wrongdoing.

All power is held on trust. The Logan debacle has shaken our trust in the CCC.

With phone tapping powers and a star chamber where any citizen is compelled to give evidence, the CCC may give the appearance of a secretive super force that can act with impunity.

The union, described in parliament and the courts as a criminal organisation, said the CCC was rotten to the core.

The CCC had become “a blunt instrument used by employers to intimidate workers and public officials”, said union secretary Michael Ravbar. His union would know all about intimidation.

The rise of bikie gangs, union thuggery and government corruption is precisely why the CCC should be retained with its coercive powers.

The watchdog remains an imperfect model. That does not mean it should be stripped of its power to uncover wrongdoing.

Without crime watchdogs like the CCC, the Gordon Nuttalls and Eddie Obeids will come slithering back.

Our crime watchdog does not require a bullet behind the ear.

It needs our help.


Cheap whisky with a Hobnob on the side: What does the Australia-UK free trade deal mean for you?

Treating yourself to a McVitie’s Hobnob dipped into a cup of tea could soon be even sweeter as the price of British biscuits is set to fall.

Or if you’re after something stronger, the cost of a glass of Scotch whisky is also on the rocks.

These are just some of the benefits of a deal struck in London this week, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his British counterpart Boris Johnson swapped English Penguins for Australian Tim Tams, Marmite for Vegemite and Blue Label Johnnie Walker for Penfolds wine.

The UK government expects the agreement will save British households up to £34 million ($62 million) collectively each year, or about $2.23 each, due to lower costs for Australian goods including confectionery, swimwear and wine.

So how much will Australians save at the till?

The full details of the in-principle deal are yet to be provided, but based on what information has been publicly released, there are several cuts to tariffs on UK goods exported to Australia. Lower costs for manufacturers and exporters typically results in lower prices for consumers.

Ceramics, whisky, biscuits, pharmaceuticals, cars, machinery and tractors are among the products expected to be cheaper in Australia due to the removal of tariffs. There have also been suggestions British cheese and some clothing brands, such as Burberry, could cost Australians less due to the deal. The UK government estimates $7.9 billion worth of exports into Australia will have tariffs removed.

But determining exactly how much cheaper these items might become is tricky. For instance, there is currently a 5 per cent tariff on distilled spirits including whisky and gin.

If the full 5 per cent was realised as a discount, this would be a $5 reduction on a $100 bottle.

A submission from the Edinburgh-based Scotch Whisky Association to an Australian Productivity Commission review into tariffs in 2000 argued the 5 per cent charge on imports to Australia applied to distilled spirits added a “mere 0.84 per cent” to the retail price of a litre bottle of Scotch Whisky.

But don’t hold your breath for a cut in cost for your favourite tipple to appear any time soon.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Australia national ambassador, Matt Bailey, said the organisation was “excited” about the deal that appeared to be a step in the right direction, though they need to see the details.

“While we don’t expect to see immediate changes in pricing across the board, we do see at least some better flexibility in the importation of great Scotch and other international whisky as a result,” Mr Bailey said.

The 5 per cent tariff also applies to biscuits. A reduction of this size could cut the cost of a 300-gram packet of oat-filled Hobnobs by 15 cents to $2.85. At the moment the same size packet of local Anzac biscuits costs $3.

The UK Department for International Trade says cheese exports currently face tariffs worth up to 20 per cent, while British clothes sold in Australia are slugged with a 5 per cent duty.

Big-ticket items could have more meaningful price reductions. A Parliamentary Committee report on trade with the UK previously found vehicle imports from the UK to Australia were worth $1.5 billion in 2015-16. This included more than 40 makes and models, including Jaguar-LandRover, Mini, Honda, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin and Nissan.

The latest MINI Cooper S Countryman with all the mod cons will set a new car owner back about $68,000. If the tariff directly translates into a 5 per cent price cut, this could be a $3400 saving.

For Australian businesses, the agreement will not affect the nation’s single largest export to Britain.

Of the $15.9 billion of merchandise exports to Britain from Australia in 2019-20, more than $12 billion was in gold.

Most gold exports are not made physically, as valuable slivers of the precious metal are easily lost in transit. Ownership is transferred among investors who hold most of their gold in vaults beneath the Bank of England in central London.

British purchases of gold soared to record levels in the wake of Brexit over fears the event would weaken the UK economy. It has remained at elevated levels, in part due to uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


A woman who refused more than $800,000 to drop her sexual assault complaint was financially destroyed and faced jail in the legal blowback

Former Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) official Narelle Dawson-Wells was charged with perjury and spent three years in court before prosecutors realised their key witness had lied on oath and hired a controversial former cop to dig dirt on her.

The ABC can reveal details of the flawed prosecution, which some lawyers say is a cautionary tale for women pressing sexual assault charges.

One legal expert said the case highlighted one of the problems with rape and sexual assault trials in Queensland — that it is often the complainant who is actually put on trial.

Ms Dawson-Wells' allegations against 'Mr Smith' — not his real name for legal reasons — put him on trial for sexual assault several years ago.

He responded with a legal fightback that turned the tables on his accuser, who was charged with perjury for denying a "previous sexual relationship" with him.

But police failed to disclose evidence that Mr Smith had lied to them and WorkCover, which ultimately sank the case that came down to his word against hers.

Ms Dawson-Wells, who lost her career and life savings in the legal fight, has campaigned for official scrutiny of her case since charges were dropped four years ago.

The wife of former state attorney-general Dean Wells was a clinical psychologist who worked at the CMC as a deputy director until 2009 before the alleged assault.

"I couldn't get my head around what people who I had so respected had done to me," Ms Dawson-Wells said. "[I was] ruined. I had a high-paying job, I owned a beautiful home. Sold my home — I had to sell up everything and it's been financially horrific.

"And it was so humiliating. My little girl with two small babies re-mortgaged her home to pay legal fees.

"I had nothing left so I had to represent myself in court. And I came to the point where I thought I couldn't cope anymore. It was too hard."

$830k offer to withdraw complaint

Before he was charged, documents seen by the ABC show Mr Smith offered Ms Dawson-Wells $830,000 to withdraw her criminal complaint.

She said she refused "because it wasn't right".

Mr Smith had already hired private investigator Mick Featherstone to find information to discredit the account of his accuser.

Some of this fed into a six-day cross-examination that left her standing as a witness in his trial in tatters.

"[Mr Smith] hired a top barrister. I was mocked. My career was minimised. It's a process where they will rip you apart and humiliate you on the stand," she said.

Mr Featherstone took statements from witnesses, including two former CMC staff who had been stood down after Ms Dawson-Wells blew the whistle on a controversial child sex abuse survey.

Mr Smith's lawyer then lobbied police to charge his accuser. Ms Dawson-Wells was charged in 2014. "I thought I'd be sexually assaulted in jail and there would be no escape," she said.

It took prosecutors three years to realise they had problems.

The arresting officer had finally handed over Mr Smith's statement to his lawyer before his trial, which revealed two "provable" lies.

One was to police about his use of a sex toy.

Prosecutor Michael Cowen wrote in a 2017 memo to Director of Public Prosecutions Michael Byrne: "If he has lied about that, what else has he lied about?"

Mr Smith also admitted lying in a declaration to WorkCover about not being alone with Ms Dawson-Wells on the night of an alleged assault.

"I believed I needed to deny everything to protect myself [and] saw Narelle's WorkCover claim as a trumped up way of trying to get money out of me," he said in a statement to his lawyer.

Mr Byrne said this meant "on any view, the totality of the evidence evidences a willingness on [Mr Smith's] part to tailor evidence as it suits him".

Mr Featherstone was also charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice in another case, which "could further taint witnesses who first gave an account to him, before giving a statement to police", Mr Cowen said.

The charge was dropped this year but Mr Featherstone still faces charges over an unrelated investment scam.

The prosecutor concluded: "[Mr Smith] is so undermined as a witness there is no prospect of conviction."

He said Mr Smith told him it was "very hard to accept the fact that [one] small error of judgment on my behalf could make it so easy for her to avoid conviction".

Ms Dawson-Wells obtained the memos through a 2019 Australian Defence Force (ADF) inquiry into the conduct of prosecutor Mr Cowan, by then the ADF's chief judge advocate.

"I just thought to myself, if he had just taken the time to read the evidence that he had before him [or] had access to, I would never, ever have had to go through what I went through," she said.

The ADF report remains confidential.

'Very unusual for it to go as far as it did'
An internal police investigation of a female detective's handling of the perjury matter found she had potentially broken the law by failing to disclose a required document that revealed his lies.

But senior police decided a prosecution was not in the public interest as there was no evidence the detective had acted corruptly. "Her punishment was a chat with a senior colleague," Ms Dawson-Wells said.

A police spokesman said "the outcome of that investigation [was] overviewed by the Crime and Corruption Commission".

Bond University law professor Jonathan Crowe said he thought it was unusual for prosecutors to go after a man's accuser based on his evidence and "very unusual for it to go as far as it did".

"It's not clear that it's a case that would have a great prospect of success … and it does make you wonder about the circumstances that led to that occurring."

Professor Crowe said the saga highlighted other legal loopholes he hoped would be addressed by a state government taskforce on women's experience of the criminal justice system, including "cross-examination practices that we see from defence barristers [that] I think, cross the line beyond what's necessary to get at the truth".

"For anybody, regardless of your circumstances or background, being aggressively cross-examined over multiple days about small details of your evidence [in an alleged sexual assault] is a very onerous and upsetting process."

Professor Crowe said community awareness of other tactics, such as the use of private investigators, was "one of the contributing factors to the low rates of reporting of sexual assault, as well as low conviction rates".

Mr Smith did not respond to interview requests or questions.

His lawyer declined to comment.




Thursday, June 17, 2021


There is no end to the perverse relationships that one reads about. There are innumerable relationships between men and women that depart radically from the "happily ever after"

I thought I might mention two such relationships that struck me as particularly perverse.

The first concerns the lovely lady below who was recently abandoned by her husband. She is Emily Jane O'Keeffe, a radio star on the Gold Coast.

image from

It completely bemuses me that any man could split from such a woman -- good-looking, bright, intelligent and completely in love with her man. She did everything to get him back but he was adamant.

There were even two gorgeous children involved. You can read all about it here

The second case has not made it into the media but occurred among people I know. It is just about the opposite of the case above. A wife had been very dissatisfied with her husband even though he was in most ways a perfectly nice man and very supportive to her.

She became more and more destructive in her behaviour as a means of expressing her dissatifaction. Then one day while he was out she burnt their house down!

So did he take the hint? Not at all. He was all concern for her and promptly arranged alternative accomodation for them. His rationale? He still loved her!

It's all beyond me.

And now for something completely different:

Police have charged a 53-year-old Kangaroo Point woman with murder after she allegedly stabbed her ex-husband to death in a Brisbane street last night.

Police will allege the woman stabbed him multiple times when he returned to his home in Ward St, Newmarket, about 7pm.

It is understood the stabbing occurred in front of the 51-year-old victim’s child, who is reported as being 10 years old.

Police will allege the woman stabbed the man in the back and neck, before he stumbled down Ward St and collapsed.

Neighbours rushed to his aide but he died at the scene. The couple split in 2013

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

There’s a lot at stake as the maths wars erupt

A new maths curriculum, released by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority in April has revived the “maths wars”. They are being waged alongside the “history wars” and the “reading wars”, also reinvigorated by the authority’s April curriculum releases.

One side argues that the way we used to teach, emphasising memory and mastery, was more effective, while the other contends that new ways of teaching will leave students better equipped to deal with the modern world. These arguments go back at least a century – actually much longer – and have become intertwined with ideology. In the middle of the last century, many of the old ways of teaching were swept aside because they were suspected of being authoritarian, perhaps even causing authoritarian tendencies. As US academic Miles Simpson argued in his 1972 paper, “education will reduce authoritarianism only when the educational system emphasises cognitive rather than rote learning or is manned by non-authoritarian teachers”. Children forced to chant their times tables and Latin declensions were out; investigative learning was in. The anti-authoritarians characterised memorisation as rote-learning, devoid of understanding.

Each of the curriculum wars has its own particular slant. In maths the debate is over whether to instil knowledge through repetition or encourage a problem-solving approach. Greg Ashman, head of Mathematics and head of research at Ballarat Clarendon College in Victoria, arcs up at the term “rote learning”. Ashman is one of a group of maths professors and teachers who penned an open letter to curriculum authority chief executive David de Carvalho expressing profound concerns with the emphasis in the current draft curriculum on open-ended enquiry, “without the systematic building of coherent knowledge”. The letter laments that learning “the basics” is delayed and devalued. “The content of the mathematics curriculum, even for the lower years, is the result of millennia of human endeavour across cultures around the world,” the letter writers argue, “It is neither fair nor realistic to expect students to retrace this journey with a few pointers and inquiries in a few hours per week.”

The letter points out that Singapore, a country praised by the Australian authority for its emphasis on problem solving, has an early focus on basics. In my personal experience, Australia is unusual in not expecting children to memorise the foundations. Many years ago I was moved from Year 2 in an Australian school to Year 2 in a German school, where the children all had their times tables up to 12 off by heart already. I taught my son counting by leaps and made a game of times tables as soon as he could count, but a society which relies on parents to teach the basics can’t rely on equitable outcomes.

The maths wars are still in their infancy, while the reading wars are almost concluded. “Parents notice reading failure and start to engage professionals,” says Ashman, “In contrast, we don’t place such a premium on maths. It’s socially acceptable to say ‘I was never very good at maths’ in a way that few would casually remark ‘I was never very good at reading’.”

But evidence didn’t prevail in the reading wars overnight. The dispute here revolves around whether small children should learn to break words down into chunks in order to be able to sound out unfamiliar words – the phonic approach – or whether they should learn sight-recognition of whole words. According to Dr Jennifer Buckingham, now researcher and director of strategy at Multilit, the evidence has long been in. She has been working on the problem since 2000 – intensively since 2013. After all those years, phonics checks are finally becoming part of the curriculum and there is a widespread acceptance that the evidence overwhelmingly points to the use of phonics. Meanwhile, untold numbers of children will have fallen through the cracks. I know of two girls who struggled to learn to read until they were finally put into the Multilit program in years 3 and 4 respectively. Imagine the education they have missed out on in the interim. They may never make up for that lost time.

The “history wars” have been framed as a debate over recognising the Indigenous experience of colonisation, but historian Greg Melleuish is more concerned that focusing on a right and a wrong version of history will leave students unequipped to encounter the world. “What you learn if you study history is that people are flawed – they set out to do one thing and end up with another result. History should tell you something about the complexity of human nature.” Melluish is concerned that the way history is now taught is encouraging authoritarianism. “Studies indicate that the more educated a person is, the more dogmatic they are. You need to teach history properly to counter dogmatism.”

It was an unfortunate coincidence that, just as the curriculum authority was poised to release the latest draft curricula, my son’s school sent out a newsletter quoting Vladimir Ilyich Lenin: “Learning is never done without errors and defeat.”

Lenin’s errors and defeats cost many innocent lives. The Russian revolutionary’s “errors” included mass famine. He presided over the Red Terror, purging political opponents and social undesirables. Between several hundred thousand and several million deaths are attributed to him.

Without the basics, the danger is that our ignorance can lead us back to authoritarianism.


Australian resources minister attacks ‘green activists’ for trying to ‘cripple’ fossil fuel companies

Keith Pitt urges oil and gas producers to fight back against groups such as Greenpeace by quantifying the sector’s contribution to the economy

Australia’s resources minister, Keith Pitt, is urging oil and gas producers to turn the “spotlight” on environmental groups campaigning against an expansion of the fossil fuel industry on climate change grounds.

Pitt will use a speech to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Perth on Wednesday to rail against “activism” that “ignores the fact that resources development in Australia is carried out safely and responsibly and that Australia’s economy was built off the back of the resources sector”.

According to speech notes circulated by his office in advance, the resources minister will declare it is “clear that the courts and bureaucratic processes are being used by green activists to delay major projects and potentially cripple companies”.

He will single out Greenpeace for special mention. Citing figures from the charities commission, Pitt will say Greenpeace “raised more than $18.5m in donations and bequests and $1.1m in government grants in 2019-20 in Australia alone”.

“Nearly 25% of expenses related to fundraising and 39% were in staff costs – so rather than protecting the environment they are mostly focussed on protecting themselves,” Pitt will say.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive David Ritter hit back. “The very reason that millions of Australians support the work of Greenpeace is to take the action on climate change that minister Pitt’s government has not only resoundingly failed to do, but actively blocked for the past seven years.

“Greenpeace is a movement of people. If these climate-wrecking oil and gas giants at this conference want to rise to minister Pitt’s challenge and attack the people of Australia for caring about nature and the future of our kids, we are ready. Because for as long as big climate polluters threaten the future, we will stand in their way.”

The resources minister will argue demand for LNG is growing in the face of global pushback from environmental and shareholder groups and Australia intends to remain at the “forefront of the LNG sector” for decades.

He will tell the conference the government plans to develop the North Bowen and Galilee basins in central Queensland for gas extraction. “We know that the Bowen Basin is a major coal-producing area but it also has immense potential for gas”.

Pitt will urge oil and gas producers to fight back against “green activists” by putting “facts” before the Australian public, including quantifying the sector’s economic contribution to the country “and indeed facts about the activist’s campaigns – the spotlight should be on those organisations for a change”.

The resources minister will also flag concern about banks and insurers stepping back from financing fossil fuel projects. Pitt triggered a parliamentary inquiry, chaired by fellow Queensland National George Christensen, after a public commitment from ANZ to step back from business customers with material thermal coal exposures – market signalling that sparked consternation within the Nationals.

After the ANZ’s statement last October, the agriculture minister, David Littleproud, called for a boycott of the bank, and the deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, declared the bank’s plan “virtue signalling”. Christensen has previously denied the link between climate change and the severity of natural disasters.

In the wake of the ANZ fracas, Pitt originally instructed the joint standing committee on trade and investment growth to grill financial regulators, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, as well as the banks, about their plans to pull back on lending or insuring mining projects because of climate change.

But the inquiry stalled after the joint standing committee – in a rare rebuke – deferred making a decision about whether to proceed with Pitt’s original ministerial referral. The stalling reflected a view among some Liberals that the inquiry should not be a witch-hunt against banks managing carbon risk.

Pitt subsequently broadened the terms of reference, asking the committee to investigate finance for all export industries. He said the adjustment was a strengthening of the original terms of reference.

The banks and their lobbying arm, the Australian Banking Association, have used new submissions to Pitt’s parliamentary inquiry to implicitly rebut claims from senior Nationals that their actions amount to moral posturing or virtue signalling.

The major banks and the ABA have pointed out that current carbon risk practices – namely, disclosing information relating to climate exposures and calculating the potential risk of climate change on their balance sheets – are requirements driven by international governance setting bodies, of which Australian regulators and Australian companies are members.

Pitt will tell the APPEA conference on Wednesday the inquiry led by Christensen will “inquire into and report on the approach and motivations of our financial institutions regarding their investment in Australia’s export industries”.

APPEA has used its submission to the inquiry to argue that environmental groups have “over recent years focused their activism on shareholders and finance sources, like superannuation funds, banks, and other lending facilities” – and have been able to exploit an “information asymmetry”.

The submission says since 2017, shareholder activist groups collectively have submitted 92 resolutions “pertaining to climate change, governance (to facilitate greater shareholder climate change activism) or political lobbying (as it pertains to climate change)” – with nearly 40 resolutions relating to APPEA member activities.

APPEA contends this activity “conveniently ignore[s] the body of evidence that demonstrates the role that natural gas is playing in delivering lower carbon energy security to growing population centres, particularly in our own region” and commitments by the gas industry to the United Nations sustainable development agenda.

APPEA is the peak national body representing upstream oil and gas explorers and producers active in Australia. Member companies account for more than 90% of Australia’s petroleum production.


Australian grain exports doing well -- without China

SEEDING is close to completion across Australia with above average rainfall in Western Australia setting up the season.

Assuming this season is above average, and we have a large exportable grain surplus, it is worth having a look at where Australian grain exports have gone this season.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics export data from October 2020 to the end of March 2021 have Australian canola exports at 2,059,399 metric tonnes with an additional one million tonnes expected to be exported to the end of the marketing year (September 2021).

Of the estimated 3mt destined for export, Europe is expected to take the lions share of 2.4mt.

Most canola exports have made their way into Europe (as seen on the map) due to low production in the European Union (EU) last year.

Australia has been able to capitalise on this supply gap in the EU while also diversifying its export destinations having picked up business into the likes of Ukraine, Romania, and the United Arab Emirates.

The European Union Monitoring Agricultural Resources (MARS) recently revised EU canola (rapeseed) yield estimates higher despite recent cold spells.

Even with increased production this season, European harvest is unlikely to impact remaining Australia canola exports as very little canola is left unsold.

At a global level, oilseed supply is very low while demand is increasing as feed demand rises and biofuel production ramps back up.

These supply and demand fundamentals have elevated Australian forward canola prices to record highs during May.

In the past couple of weeks old and new crop prices have come off their highs due to volatility in offshore oilseed futures, however the supportive drivers are still there underpinning the market.

These decile 10 prices and favourable seasonal conditions have seen a record canola crop planted this year with Western Australia alone estimated to have planted 1.5 million hectares.

If Western Australia can average 1.5 t/ha for canola, then it will reach record production.

While there is still plenty of time left in the season, here's hoping the 2021-22 season is one for the record books.

Australian wheat and barley export tonnage is expected to be above average in the 2020-21 season with strong international feed demand driving exports.

Australian wheat exports are currently anticipated to reach 21.5mt for the 2020-21 marketing year according to Australian Crop Forecasters' recent supply and demand report.

Barley exports are already exceeding estimates with 7mt set to be exported by the end of September.

Approximately half of this is destined for Saudi Arabia, whose insatiable demand has provided an important export destination for Australia, somewhat replacing the tonnage that used to go to China, albeit feed barley not malt.

South East Asia has also been an important market with Australian barley exports up 92 per cent year-on-year into this region.

This increased demand for barley is primarily due to the high cost of other feed grains (corn), which has made barley an attractive substitute.

The same goes for Australian wheat with increased demand from the South East Asian region seeing over half of Australia's wheat exports end up there.

The 2021-22 season is looking favourable for Australian grains with good weather, strong pricing and robust international demand providing optimism.