Wednesday, August 21, 2019


I go into hospital later today for an operation that will require me  to spend around two days in hospital to have my recovery monitored. So I will be hors de combat until some time on the weekend.  I expect to be back to normal after that.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

How recycling is a massive con job and an environmental disaster in the making - and why everyday Australians are wasting their time sorting rubbish

Australians think they are doing the right thing when they throw their empty milk bottles, beer cans, and junk mail into their yellow bin.

They roll the bin out to the kerb every week and assume they have helped the environment by having their waste recycled with 90 per cent saying it's very important.

But millions of tonnes is instead shipped to Southeast Asian countries where much of it is burned, buried, or just dumped in landfill.

Millions more is piling up in huge storage facilities of Australian councils and their contractors - or sent to the tip - because they can't sell it.

Only 12 per cent of the 103kg of plastic waste generated per person in Australia each year is recycled, mostly overseas, according to research cited by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

He pointed out last week that there was an 'implied promise' that when people put their recycling out it would actually be turned into something else. 'People think [plastic] is going to be recycled but only about 12 per cent of it is,' he said.

Australia used to ship enormous amounts of waste to China, sell it for up to $150 a tonne, and then wash its hands of it. Much of it was recycled to fuel the country's boom, but the industry was largely unregulated and dozens of dodgy operators burned or dumped it. Then in January 2018 the Chinese Government decided enough was enough and banned the importing of 99 per cent of recycling.

Australia's worst waste was usually palmed off to China, much of it too contaminated or low quality to be worth anything.

Now only a 0.5 per cent contamination rate is tolerated and the vast majority of Australian sorting facilities just can't meet that.

India, Malaysia, and the Philippines followed suit over the past year so Australia turned to Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.

They each receive tens of thousands of tonnes of supposed recycling - Bangladesh alone took 51,400 in May, up 270 per cent from last year's average. Indonesia is about the same.

However, these countries don't have anything like the capacity China did, and aren't any more scrupulous about what they do with it.

Around Indonesia, the streets and rice fields of villages are now used to harvest piles of rubbish as they are laid out to dry in the sun by locals.

The waste is then sorted and sold to tofu factories where it is burned in their furnaces as a cheap alternative to wood.

Australian companies are slowly waking up to the reality that this state of affairs is not sustainable.

An Environment and Energy Department report painted a dire picture of Australia's predicament should more Asian countries close their doors.

'Australia would need to find substitute domestic or export markets for approximately 1.29 million tonnes (or $530 million) of waste a year, based on 2017-18 export amounts,' the report said.

So easy was it to palm off Australia's waste on the developing world that the domestic industry is now in full-blown crisis.

The situation was made even more dire when one of the biggest companies, SKM, collapsed last month and is now in liquidation.

Then on Monday, Phoenix Environmental Group was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency from accepting more waste as its stockpiles were already dangerously high.

Councils, particularly in Victoria where those two companies are based, are at a total loss as to what to do with tens of thousands of tonnes of recycling.

The City of Melbourne is dumping about 45 tonnes of recyclables into landfill every day, along with about 30 other councils.

Other councils are stockpiling recycling in storage units in desperate hope of finding a buyer - as the stock degrades in value and is attacked by scavenging vermin.

This can have disastrous consequences, such as when stockpiled recycling bales at an SKM facility caught fire.

Australian companies are also accused of rorting the system themselves - trucking building site waste to recycling facilities where it is picked up and dumped in landfill.

Numerous companies allegedly do this to tick the boxes required to avoid waste levies - as high as $138 a tonne in NSW and $66 in Victoria.

Such practices, and the overstocking crisis, is only going to get worse as China's new policy has obliterated the price of many recyclables.

Almost overnight, mixed paper scrap crashed from $124 a tonne to next to nothing, and low-grade plastic is also effectively worthless.

The costs of recycling the scrap plastic in particular are now so high that it is basically not worth it and in many places no longer considered recyclable.

The airport in Memphis, Tennessee, has abandoned recycling altogether and only keeps its recycling bins to keep the 'culture' of recycling going - everything in them goes straight to landfill.

Manufacturers are also giving up on buying recycled materials because it is now much cheaper to make its from virgin components.

The recycling industry, which claims to employ more than 50,000 Australians and generate up to $15 billion in value, has tried to downplay the crisis. It pointed to the government's National Waste Report 2018 claim that 37 million tonnes of Australia's 67 million tonnes of waste was recycled in 2018. The report found just 4 million tonnes was exported, half of it metal.

Ten to 15 per cent of kerbside recycling cannot be recycled because it is contaminated with nappies, soft plastics, garden hoses, bricks and batteries.

'We encourage householders to continue to separate and sort their recycling correctly to reduce contamination and realise the environmental and economic benefits of recycling,' National Waste and Recycling Industry Council chief executive Rose Read said.

The Federal Government has belatedly decided to try propping up the Australian recycling industry with $20 million worth of grants to domestic operators.

'We are committed to protecting our nation's environment while also building our capacity to turn recycling into products that people want and need,' Mr Morrison said on Tuesday.

'By engaging industry and researchers we can make sure we're seeing these changes introduced in a way that cuts costs for businesses and ultimately even creates jobs.'

Mr Morrison said the funding was an effort to get the local industry into a position where shipping recycling overseas could be banned.

'This stuff won't change until we set a date where you can't put this stuff on a boat any longer,' he said.

The industry wants a labelling scheme, similar to the country of origin stamps, that shows how much of a product and its packaging came from recycled materials.

Analysts and recycling industry figures also said there needed to be incentives or quotas for businesses to use recycled material, and councils and government needed to lead the way.

'Recycling only works when people, corporates and government buy products made with recycled content,' Plastic Forests boss David Hodge said.

'As we know, the options to send our waste or a misallocated resource overseas will come to an end.'

The Australian Council of Recycling recycling advocacy group Boomerang Alliance proposed five priority actions for the federal government.

They included a Plastic Pollution Reduction Strategy and a $150 million investment in a national industry development fund.

'With Asian markets for recyclable materials from Australia closing down and local governments confronted with potentially sending their kerbside recycling to landfill, it's time to recognise that the system Australians value is greatly under threat,' the ACOR said.

'The National Waste Policy, recently agreed upon with all states, tries to set out an agenda for the future, but its aims cannot be achieved without investment and policy support.'

Boomerang Alliance director Jeff Angel added: 'Without concerted and effective action, Australia is set to go back 50 years to the days when waste was dumped or burned and the only things recycled were the bottles collected for a refund.


ScoMo takes inspiration from Donald Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp”

Scott Morrison today launched his own version of Donald Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp”, with a sharp offensive against public servants and lobbyists.

It was the prime minister’s bid to deflate the Canberra “bubble”, which he claims contains priorities alien to the concerns of most voters.

Just as the US president portrayed government insiders as part of a powerful, unaccountable elitist “swamp” that had to be emptied, Mr Morrison today accused public servants of ignoring middle Australia from the comforts of a bubble.

“The best teams are the ones where everyone knows what their job is and they do it well,” Mr Morrison said. And of course, he had a three-word slogan: “Respect and expect.”

Whether or not his attacks improve public service performance, they have four potential political benefits for Mr Morrison.

The speech today to the Institute of Public Administration was an obvious attempt to again appeal to what he calls the ‘Quiet Australians’, who he argues don’t get the attention or acclaim they deserve. It also was a deft ploy of blame-shifting, which exonerates his government. Blame those cocooned bureaucratic tribes instead.

And it cost nothing, a vital factor as the Morrison government puts all its actions through the wringer of delivering a $7 billion Budget surplus.

It’s important for the government to appear to be doing something as long as it adds to the Budget.

Plus, it might look prescient. The government expects the review of the public service by businessman David Thodey to be with the PM soon.

It too might contain an unfriendly assessment of the public service.

A bit of public service bashing isn’t an original idea, even for Donald Trump. But the federal government has been able to force its agenda through the bureaucracy or changing bureaucrats.

When John Howard took the Coalition into government in 1996, he introduced himself to the public service by sacking six department secretaries.

In 1999, the Federal Court upheld the government’s powers of hire and fire, following the dismissal of Defence Secretary Pail Barratt. The court found a prime minister did not require cause to sack a department chief.

Scott Morrison didn’t question the priorities of public servants alone. He took aim at lobbyists by saying those ordinary Australians didn’t stay in Canberra’s Hyatt hotel, or dine at the highly regarded Ottoman restaurant or relax in the Chairman’s Lounge at Canberra airport.

“There are many highly organised and well-resourced interests in our democracy,” he said in a section of his speech that read like a warning of an encroaching menace rather than just the usual circus which forms when parliament sits.

“They come to Canberra often. They are on the airwaves and the news channels. They meet regularly with politicians, advisers and departments to advance policy ideas and causes on behalf of those they represent.

“Some will be corporate interests. Some will be advocating for more welfare spending or bigger social programs. Many will be looking for a bigger slice of government resources.”

He wanted to identify a cohort of public service and private enterprise players who ignored the comfort of middle Australia while looking after their own.

It could be middle Australia doesn’t get into those plush venues Mr Morrison listed because they are packed out with MPs on travel allowances.

But Mr Morrison didn’t want to touch on that issue. In fact, he seemed to free politicians such as himself as innocents in the bubble.

“There is strong evidence that the ‘trust deficit’ that has afflicted many Western democracies over recent years stems in part from a perception that politics is very responsive to those at the top and those at the bottom, but not so much to those in the middle,” Mr Morrison said.



Australia's most radical abortion law will allow late terminations and to abort unwanted girls - and most bizarrely makes no mention of women, writes MARK LATHAM

This week the controversial New South Wales abortion bill goes to an upper house vote. With the Berejiklian Government ripping itself in two over attempts to rush the legislation through parliament, people are starting to see some of the more bizarre aspects of the bill.

In line with today's PC madness, it makes no mention of women. It constantly refers to 'a person' having an abortion, but never a woman. This echoes Greens MP Jenny Leong's wacky declaration in parliament two weeks ago that: 'There are people who have uteruses who are not women'.

Think of that the next time you are watching the footy or walking past a building construction site.

The Greens are always saying we need to 'respect the science' when it comes to  climate change but when it comes to biological science, they have invented the fantasy of men having babies.

In the common law, abortions in NSW have been permissible since an important court ruling in 1971. [The Heatherbrae case]

Those pushing the proposal now before parliament – a cross-party cabal of Greens, Independent, Labor and Left-wing National and Liberal MPs – want to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act.

This would have been a straightforward task if they had been open about it, engaged in public consultation and started with a moderate, commonsense bill.

Instead, they have tried to ram through Australia's most radically extreme abortion laws without adequate safeguards for late-term abortions, gender selection abortions (parents who only want boys) and medical mistake abortions (where the baby is born alive). The religious freedom of doctors and nurses not to participate in the process has also been wiped.

I'll be moving an amendment this week to ensure that no medico is made to do anything they regard as morally wrong.

Whenever governments coerce people to act against their religious and moral code, we move one step towards a police state.

The people of NSW, conservatives in particular, have every right to feel betrayed by Gladys Berejiklian.

She has allowed a bill to be rushed through parliament that has the Greens and Labor Left cheering on its extremism.

She knew the bill was coming, telling the media, she 'kicked it down the road because I didn't want to deal with it before the (March) election.'

She kept the voters and some of her own MPs in the dark. No wonder they are now calling her sneaky and counting the numbers to get rid of her.


‘Crazy lunatic bill’: Mundine lashes NSW Liberals on abortion

Former Liberal candidate Warren Mundine has blasted the recent push for abortion decriminalisation in NSW as a “crazy lunatic” bill, accusing the Berejiklian government of doing a “grubby little deal with the Greens” that betrayed the Liberal party room and its membership.

Speaking on 2GB radio this morning, the former Labor Party president turned Liberal member said the Berejiklian government had “got arrogant” and “ahead of themselves”, and urged them to hold a debate with the public and within the Liberal party room.

“This is what I can’t understand about the leadership of the Liberal party in regards to NSW,” he told host Ray Hadley.

“Here they are, never mentioned in the election, never mentioned it to anyone, did some grubby deal with the Greens.

“And how embarrassing it is for the Premier and the Deputy Premier to be sitting with the Greens on one side of the parliament while two thirds of the Liberal party are sitting on the other side.

“They should have had the public debate, had the debate within their party room … rather than doing a grubby little deal with the Greens,” he said.

Mr Mundine described abortion decriminalisation as a “very contentions and emotional issue”, and said he was concerned at discussion about aborting foetuses past the 22 week mark.

“This crazy lunatic argument … This is not about having abortions or not having abortions.

“When you start getting into 20 and 22 weeks. I had a cousin who was born premature. You cannot tell me that that is not a living baby, a human being.

“I just find it amazing that they’re going against their party room, they’re going against their membership in regards to this issue. “They seem to try and think they get away with this all the time.

“Well I’m going to call it out. They’ve got to stop doing these grubby deals. “They’ve actually got to start talking to their own party room and talking to the membership.” he said.

Legislation to decriminalise abortion passed the NSW lower house last week by 59 votes to 31 after an amendment to the original bill passed.

It allows terminations up to 22 weeks, as well as later abortions if two doctors considering all the circumstances agree the termination should occur.

The bill must still pass the NSW upper house later this month, and will be assessed by a social issues committee this week.

NSW is the only state where abortion remains a criminal offence.

Queensland decriminalised abortion in December, where the procedure is available up to 22 week. After that, two doctors must be consulted.

In Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, abortion is available through a doctor up to 24 weeks, 23 weeks and 16 weeks respectively, and can be performed later with the consent of two doctors.

In Western Australia, a woman can seek an abortion up to 20 weeks, however there are restrictions for those under 16 and beyond the 20 week mark.

Northern Territory law allows abortion up to 14 weeks with one doctor’s approval. A second doctor is required to sign off if an abortion is sought between 14-23 weeks into the pregnancy.

The practice is also legal in the ACT.


Shore School headmaster: 'The boys are privileged, and it's not their fault'

Timothy Wright, the head of Shore School, also defended his students against those who judged them because of their privilege. "I don't think it's right, as some people do, to say that because you come from Cremorne, you must be somehow a morally bad person," he said.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Herald ahead of his departure from the North Sydney school, Dr Wright spoke of the benefits of single-sex education for boys.

Dr Wright will step down at the end of 2019 after 17 years at the helm of Shore, and 34 years in education.

Shore, an Anglican school, is now in such demand that parents wanting to send their sons there must either be old boys, or lodge their son's waiting list application on the day of his birth. One family has sent their sons there since the 1890s.

Despite fears among some of his high socio-economic parent body that anything but a university degree amounted to failure, Dr Wright said the notion that everyone should get a degree was a "complete fallacy".

He has often encouraged his students to think about an apprenticeship as an option, as they head into an increasingly uncertain job market. "We would not get as many boys going into trades as I would like to see," he said. "I'm pretty confident [artificial intelligence] won't replace plumbers."

Shore costs up to $33,000 a year, and 83 per cent of the school's students are from the top quartile of advantage. But Dr Wright said parental wealth did not inoculate his students against difficulty, and was irritated by the assumption by some that their wealth was a character flaw.

"That sort of attitude that sometimes crops up really annoys me on behalf of these boys," he said.

"I know them. I love them. I do not understand how people can possibly take that attitude towards them. The boys are privileged, and it's not their fault. It's what you do with your opportunities in life that I think you are responsible for. [Wealth] will give you certain advantages, yes, but it does not protect you. Some of my boys have some pretty wicked problems."

Having taught in both single-sex and co-ed schools, Dr Wright said a boys' only environment gives the students a freedom they might not feel if girls were around. "One of the things you'll notice is boys in boys' schools sing," he said.

"They don't, by and large, in co-ed schools. You'll find senior boys out there still playing handball." Girls often master language more quickly than boys, so "there are some real advantages for boys in an English curriculum that meets their needs."

Despite being a chemistry teacher, Dr Wright is passionate about reading. "The more we can get kids reading, the less work you have to do in educating them," he said. "A lot of well-read people are fundamentally self-taught."

He worries about the quality of some modern young adult and children's books. "To some extent I believe in the canon - I realise that's almost an heretical position," he said. "The notion that you are just reading words on a page, and a Campbell's Soup ad is just as worthy a form of text as Joseph Conrad, I'm struggling with that. I do agree that some [young adult fiction] is just churned out.

"I think the same thing with a number of children's books. There seems to be a flood of books [about] bottoms, farts and all the rest of it. I'm not sure that once you have read one or two of those, there's a whole lot more to explore."

Unlike many other private school principals, Dr Wright has resisted the temptation to expand Shore's numbers. He cannot speak for his successor, but believes there is a "sweet spot" at around 220 students per year.

"It's not like Coca Cola - you can't scale the experience of a school," he said. "It's like many complex human organisations, just to double its size doesn't mean you get twice as much of the quality."

About 26 per cent of its students are sons of old boys, but in the next decade the school may also open to the sons of old girls, as girls have been able to attend the K-2 campus in Northbridge for more than 15 years.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Monday, August 19, 2019

Reports of the Great Barrier Reef’s doom are exaggerated

Master reef guide Natalie Lobartolo has a first-hand window into what the world thinks about the Great Barrier Reef. She says the most common comment from tourists after they experience the reef and waters around Lady ­Musgrave Island where she works is: “I thought the reef was dead but it’s amazing.”

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley had a similar experience last week when she snorkelled over two reefs off Cairns.

On her first official visit to the Great Barrier Reef, Ley said she found it difficult to reconcile what she saw in the water with what had been said around the world.  “The reef is not dead,” was her appraisal. “It is not dying. I would not even say it is on life support.

“Tourism operators want a very clear message that the reef is definitely not dead, that it is amazing and one of the true wonders of the world and it is worth visiting.

“Having seen it for myself I can certainly endorse that. That is a ­really clear message that I want people to hear.”

The results of first-hand observations from two snorkels may not meet the test of scientific rigour. But along the Queensland coast there is a pushback that challenges the now familiar message of the reef’s doom.

A lecture tour by controversial marine scientist Peter Ridd has ­attracted hundreds of people and is only half way through a program that stretches throughout the ­sugar cane centres from Bundaberg to Cairns.

The tour has been promoted by the sugar cane and other agriculture ­industries that face the prospect of strict new regulations under a reef water quality bill before state parliament. Liberal National Party MPs at state and federal level have embraced Ridd’s call for greater quality assurance of the science. But conservation groups are alarmed Ridd is getting a platform to express his views.

Ridd was sacked by James Cook University after being disciplined for not being collegiate. That sacking was ruled unlawful by the Federal Court but its finding is being appealed by JCU.

Like it or not, science groups have been forced to engage with Ridd’s message that the findings of key reef research should be checked.

Ridd’s message on his lecture tour is that coral cover has not changed and that there is still excellent coral cover on all 3000 reefs across the Great Barrier Reef system. He also says there is almost no land sediment on the reef from run-off from agricultural processes.

Ridd’s findings have struck a chord with canegrowers, who are being asked to change their practices to satisfy UNESCO requirements that Australia is respecting its obligations to retain World Heritage status for the reef.

A suite of measures by the ­Abbott government, including a ban on dredge spoils from new port developments being dumped in reef waters, was enough to ­remove the threat of an “in-danger” listing for the reef.

Since then there have been two bleaching events and damaging cyclones that have had a big impact on coral cover, which is now recovering.

The Great Barrier Reef is again due to be considered by the World Heritage Committee next year and the proposed Queensland water quality regulations are seen as part of a broader campaign to keep the reef off the in-danger watch list.

Environment groups are ­pushing for more regulation and most likely would welcome intervention by UNESCO. But the bruising campaign last time damaged the global reputation of the reef among potential tourists and left the tourism industry crying foul.

Ridd says this is a prime reason to get the science right. He says reef science is affecting every major industry in north Queensland: mining, agriculture and ­tourism.

The legislation before state parliament will hurt agriculture badly, he says. It sets nutrient and sediment pollution load limits for each of the six reef catchments and ­limits fertiliser use for crops and grain production, covering agricultural activities in all Great Barrier Reef catchments.

The message Ridd wants people to take home from his talks is that there has been a massive exaggeration of threats to the Great Barrier Reef. He accuses the reef institutions of producing untrustworthy results because of inadequate quality assurance systems and says that must be corrected before any new legislation is introduced.

And he says there is an urgent need for an independent body to run through the Auditor-General’s office and examine the science used for public policy.

Bundaberg Canegrowers manager Dale Holliss says Ridd has ­allowed many to articulate concerns they may have already had. “Peter Ridd basically when he talks says … it is the only science we have, so we do need a process where we actually check it,” Holliss says. However, environment groups say Ridd’s tour has been “simply spreading misinformation”.

The Australian Coral Reef ­Society says several of Ridd’s claims are not true, while others could be characterised as straw-man arguments that ignore much greater challenges faced by the Great Barrier Reef.

“As the reef is facing fundamental challenges from rapidly warming oceans, it is important that governments take action to support a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while taking all available steps to reduce the amount of sediments, nutrients and pesticides that reach the reef lagoon,” the society argues.

Ley says she is “not downplaying the seriousness of climate change” but acknowledges that some people are understandably confused. “Tourism operators are saying they want somewhere to go to say that is the truth,” she says. “My answer is they can go to the Australian Institute of Marine Science.”

So what does AIMS say about water quality and the issues raised by Ridd? In a statement to ­Inquirer, AIMS chief executive Paul Hardisty says there is a natural improvement in water quality from inshore to offshore reefs ­because inshore reefs are exposed to increased sediment from wind and rough seas.

Mid-shelf and offshore reefs typically have better water quality as these regions are flushed more frequently with waters from the Coral Sea. As such, material ­delivered into the inshore region via rivers remains close to the coast for extended periods.

When it comes to water quality on the Great Barrier Reef, researchers agree it is uncommon for sediment plumes to regularly reach outer-shelf reefs. During flood events, most sediments are deposited relatively close to river mouths.

Hardisty says enhanced sediment loads from farmed catchments increase the amount (and duration) of sediment that is resuspended locally around river mouths, on inshore reefs close to rivers and along the inner shelf.

He says analysis of 11 years of satellite imagery for the whole Great Barrier Reef shows water clarity is significantly reduced for up to six months after every big flood from the central and southern rivers, but not so much from the far northern rivers.

Several studies have shown fine particles of nutrient-enriched and organic-rich sediments can settle on inshore and mid-shelf reefs during calm periods and have the potential to kill young corals within 48 hours and adult corals in three to seven days, depending on the species.

Hardisty agrees there are many conditions that increase nutrient concentrations, including oceanographic processes and upwelling, liberation of nutrients contained in sediments, and inputs from ­riverine systems that may be ­enhanced above natural levels by residual nutrients from agricultural or industrial activities.

The AIMS says long-term monitoring of cycles of ecosystem decline and recovery tells us that the Great Barrier Reef is under stress. Its latest condition report, published last month, found average hard coral cover had continued to decline in the central and southern Great Barrier Reef while stabilising in the northern region this year.

This decline is because of ­numerous and successive disturbances including outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish, tropical cyclones and coral bleaching. The central region’s highest recorded average coral cover was 22 per cent in 2016 compared with 12 per cent this year, and the southern ­region had 43 per cent coral cover in 1988 compared with 24 per cent this year. Hard coral cover in the northern region increased slightly from 11 per cent in 2017 to 14 per cent this year but was down from 30 per cent in 1988.

Hardisty says disturbances such as bleaching, cyclones and crown-of-thorns outbreaks are ­occurring more often, are longer-lasting and more severe.

This means coral reefs have less time to recover. Right now, however, there is still plenty to see.


How red tape and high taxes have stunted home construction and sent prices soaring across the country

High taxes and regulatory red tape as well as economic factors have stunted new home construction and caused prices to surge across the country, according to an industry body.

A report commissioned by the Housing Industry Association lists levies, stamp duty, GST, council rates and land tax as factors that drive up home prices, The Australian reports.

The HIA says the cost is as high as 50 per cent of a house and land package in Sydney, 37 per cent in Melbourne, and between 29 and 33 per cent in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

The report stated that 14 per cent of total GST revenue raised came from the housing sector because most of the tax burden is being transferred directly to households.

'It is unacceptable that the red tape and tax incurred in the construction of a ''house and land'' package as a percentage of the purchase price is 50 per cent in Sydney and 37 per cent in Melbourne, as outlined in this report,' Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said.

'It is also unacceptable that the supply of new housing is so badly constrained by state and territory planning and regulatory bottlenecks.'

HIA executive director NSW David Bare said housing was 'one of the most heavily taxed sectors of the economy, alongside the ''vice taxes'' applied to cigarettes and alcohol'.

Mr Bare said having to pay $417,000 on taxes and regulatory costs when building a home was too much of a burden. 

Among some of the regulatory charges Australians have to pay are soil testing, native vegetation protection, contamination reports, heritage assessments, bushfire assessments, traffic management fees, site inspection fees, building levies, connection fees and flood assessments.

In an attempt to unlock the housing supply, the commonwealth is implementing its reducing Pressure on Housing Affordability package.

This package will make $1billion available through the National Finance and Investment Corporation.

The government will also be launching their First Home Loan Deposit scheme on January 1 2020, which aims to help 10,000 first home buyers by topping up their 5 per cent deposit with a government guarantee of 15 per cent per loan.


Albo is a footballer

This will help his image as a regular guy a lot.  A big difference from the robotic Bill Shorten

The leader of the Federal Opposition has shown off his ball skills in a charity football game.

Anthony Albanese donned his black, yellow and red Western Walers jersey, along with some seriously short shorts at the AFL Reclink Community Cup match at Henson Park in Marrickville, Sydney.

The 56-year-old Labor leader battled alongside his team against the Sydney Sailors which saw them win 41-35.

This is the third year in a row the Western Walers won the annual event. 

On his Twitter page, Mr Albanese shared several pictures leading up to the game where he is seen arm-in-arm with his fellow teammates.

After the big win he tweeted 'winners' along with an image of the team celebrating their victory.   

Money raised from the event is donated towards Reclink Australia which provide sporting and art opportunities for disadvantaged Australians.


Another day, another 600 pages of audit stuff and nonsense

Reading government reports is part of my job description. Believe me, it is an increasingly exasperating activity. What is it about government reports these days? They are always far too long, replete with silly pictures and charts, and the messaging is almost always deep-green.

Even the more sensible ones go off the rails. The recently released report of the Victorian Auditor-General on recycling had a six-minute spoken option brimming with highly simplified charts and key messages. Let me put it out there: I expect the reports of ­auditors-general to be sombre, measured and thorough — not ­entertaining.

Consider the 642-page contribution of Infrastructure Australia, released this week — The Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019. It is a pitiful document, full of meaningless homilies and worthy sounding gobbledygook.

The best that can be said about it is that the contracted graphic artists must have done very well, given the page upon page of ­cartoon-like representations of various thought bubbles dreamt up by the authors. Not only are these little pictures completely misleading, they are an insult to the serious reader.

Now most of us understand very well what is meant by the term audit: it is an independent ­inspection and assessment of an organisation’s accounts. To be sure, the term can be used more broadly, but IA’s report really pushes to the limit the meaning of the term.

We learn early on that the audit is based on “strategic foresight methods”. I’m wondering whether this is just a fancy term for ­extremely well-paid bureaucrats sticking their fingers out windows to test the direction of the wind.

This is another report that is full of trendy ideas of the left. It’s all about climate change, equity and access, Australia going to hell in a hand basket — all the predictable themes. It’s a worry that the federal government department that was responsible for this useless piece of sludge was headed by the person who has recently been named secretary to the Treasury.

Don’t get me wrong: I did get a few good laughs reading the ­report. Evidently, higher education, food exports and tourism are “emerging industries”.

And here’s something to really get your creative juices going: Australians drive the equivalent of 1000 times from the Earth to the sun every year. And what about this clanger? Evidently we could build eight Sydney Opera Houses with the annual subsidies to public transport. Whether we need eight more opera houses is an unanswered question.

But wait, there’s more: by 2028, women will control close to three-quarters of discretionary spending worldwide. Why would this sort of pretend-fact even be included in this report? Although I guess that’s strategic foresight methods for you.

Let’s not forget the horizon-scanning methodology used in the report. This involves guessing “the shifts that are likely to transform how we live, and consequently what we need from infrastructure”. Unsurprisingly, there is a half-page photograph of electric vehicles being charged.

Evidently, Australia’s average annual equivalent CO2 emissions per capita is 21 tonnes, which is nearly double the OECD average. But that is juxtaposed on the same page by the fact just more than 90 per cent of Australians own a smartphone.

Unsurprisingly, there are some outright mistakes in the report. The claim is made that “job security is becoming a key issue, particularly as new sharing and ‘gig’ economies create more transient and casualised workforces”. This is just wrong. Job tenure has actually increased, the degree of casualisation remains steady and the gig economy is tiny — 2 per cent to 3 per cent of the workforce.

Leaving aside all this flim-flam, there is a fatal weakness in the ­report and that is its failure to question the central assumption that Australia’s population will grow by nearly a quarter to reach 31.4 million in 2034. This outcome will be largely as a result of immigration, with IA anticipating that almost all the new migrants will pile into Melbourne and Sydney.

I’m not sure you need a university degree to predict that much more infrastructure will be ­required to accommodate this population growth. What would have been worthwhile is an assessment of a much slower rate of population growth and the benefits this would bring in terms of ­allowing the infrastructure to catch up at a more leisurely pace.

The reality is that we pay far too much for infrastructure. The vice-like grip of the tier one contractors — now mostly overseas companies — plus the almost exclusive worker coverage of the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union mean that a cost-premium of at least 25 per cent applies to all major projects. Can you recall when you last heard someone talk about a major infrastructure ­project being delivered under budget and on time? There is no reason to think these cost penalties that apply to infrastructure will end any time soon.

We know what huge costs ­increased commuting times are exacting on those who live in the major cities.

According to longitudinal survey Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia, the average commuting time in Australia has risen by ­nearly one-quarter in the 15 years to 2017.

In 2002, workers averaged 3.7 hours commuting each week; by 2017, it was 4.5 hours. Unsurprisingly, Sydneysiders had the longest average daily commutes, followed by Melburnians. Moreover, workers with the longest commuting times are the least ­satisfied with their jobs and the likeliest to quit.

But instead of querying the rate of population growth, IA simply tells us the cost of lost productivity because of congestion could double to $39 billion if the government does not act. This is pathetic stuff.

Of course, IA, along with other left boosters, hates what it terms “urban sprawl”. Evidently, “densification” is the way to go. We all need to live in inner-city dogboxes in cracking apartment buildings to enjoy all the amenities of inner-city living.

Mind you, IA is a tad concerned about the lack of green spaces. “Our fast-growing cities risk not having adequate, high-quality, ­accessible green and recreation ­infrastructure as they grow and densify, particularly in inner-urban areas.” What this means in practice is all of us living in dogboxes located in concrete jungles.

Interestingly, the IA tome has much in common with another rubbish report released this year by the CSIRO — the Australian National Outlook 2019. In that ­report, it was the clear recommendation we all crowd into “higher-density, multicentre and well-connected capital cities to reduce urban sprawl and congestion”.

And here’s another predictable bit: “(We need to) invest in transportation infrastructure including mass-transit, autonomous vehicles and active transit, such as walking and cycling.” The things you learn: walking and cycling are active transit.

It never seems to occur to these highly paid bureaucrats or the puffed-up types on the boards of IA or the CSIRO that people ­prefer to live in houses with back yards and to drive their own cars.

The most laughable part of the CSIRO report is the call for greater trust in institutions. This seems highly unlikely as long as they continue to produce such condescending drivel that insults very many quiet Australians.

The only good thing that will come out of the IA report is that it be will ignored as pretty much all IA’s output has been to date. And as for the CSIRO effort, it’s already gathering dust.


Girls not welcome at Randwick Boys' High

The NSW Department of Education has rejected a proposal to turn Randwick Boys' High into a co-ed school despite a survey showing strong support within the eastern suburbs community.

The idea was floated by the Coalition government in the lead-up to the March election to counteract a promise by Labor to build a new, co-educational public high school in the marginal electorate of Coogee.

The NSW Department of Education ran a survey in January and February to discover community attitudes and held meetings with those who would be most affected, such as parents, students and representatives from surrounding schools.

Of more than 2220 community respondents, 57 per cent strongly supported the idea, 10 per cent were in favour, and 28 per cent were opposed. The rest were neutral.

Parents and carers of girls made up more than half of the respondents, and two-thirds of them supported the idea.

But in making the final decision, the department said it weighed the survey results against the feedback from those who would be most affected, such as staff at surrounding schools and existing students of Randwick Boys' and Girls'.

Of the 192 female students who responded, 70 per cent said they would not be interested in attending a co-ed Randwick Boys', and more than half of the 300 parents at Randwick Girls' who responded said they would not send their daughters there.

There was also strong opposition from staff at other schools in the eastern suburbs network, including Randwick Girls', JJ Cahill, Matraville and South Sydney high schools, who were concerned about the impact on enrolments.

"The department has accepted [an] independent assessment that the consultation process was inconclusive in determining a meaningful community position," said Murat Dizdar, the department's deputy secretary of educational services.

"The independent analysis shows quite clearly that when you dive deeper, the views of the families and students who would be most directly impacted by a change of the provision there at Randwick did not provide clear support for the change."

Mr Dizdar said the eastern suburbs schools operated as a network, rather than a series of stand-alone schools, and there was existing capacity at schools in the south of the district, such as JJ Cahill and Matraville.

Without Randwick Boys’, eastern suburbs parents would not have the option of a public boys’ high school.

Two new or upgraded schools – Inner Sydney High and Alexandria Park Community School – were about to open, and the two Randwick single-sex schools were part of the "tapestry of provision in the area", he said.

The department would now proceed with plans to upgrade the two Randwick schools. It would also develop a strategy to improve infrastructure and curriculum offerings across the whole eastern suburbs network.

Community groups have been campaigning for a new co-ed high school in the eastern suburbs, saying there is not enough capacity to cope with the numbers of students who attend the area's primary schools.

They say the new school is needed in the northern part of the region, and that schools in the southern parts – such as Maroubra and Matraville, some of which have many vacant classrooms – are too far away for students to travel to.

"We will look at strengthening our provision across all of those schools," Mr Dizdar said. "We are well placed to cater for the demand."

Randwick Boys' P&C president Birgit Schickinger said parents would be "extremely disappointed by this outcome, especially given that the majority of people surveyed were in favour of turning Randwick Boys' into a co-ed high school".

"Randwick Boys' will continue to be a strong, caring, nurturing school for the boys in this area, and we will work with the department to make sure it gets better facilities and resources."


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Scott Morrison firm on climate change, in shades of Donald Trump

Scott Morrison has mirrored Donald Trump’s tough stand with G20 leaders in his negotiations with the Pacific Island Forum over climate change and coal — and emerged stronger as a result.

Australia refused to accept a communique that might satisfy the emotional needs of some regional leaders but would jeopardise Australia’s economic and regional security interests.

The red lines set by Australia were met and the final communique did not overstep progress made by the UN conference regarding the IPCC’s report on 1.5C warming.

The communique pulled back from mentioning coal or what actions member countries should take. Instead, leaders reaffirmed climate change as the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific and their commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Leaders acknowledged the challenge for the forum would be maintaining regional solidarity in the face of more intense political engagement, which may serve to divide the forum collective.

Along with other nations, Australia is being called upon to lift its ambition on climate change action before an already agreed timetable set for next year.

Mr Morrison’s challenge is not to allow Australia’s position to be misrepresented by vested interests. Australia has a story to tell on climate change action that is at stark odds with how it is often portrayed. Last year, Australia was among the world’s top investors in renewable energy in absolute terms and the biggest on a per capita basis.

Billions of dollars have been set aside for land-based programs, which are a big new focus for the IPCC.

A telling point before the backdown of demands at the Pacific Island Forum was that leaders asked for Australia to provide details on what it actually was doing.

The understanding of some leaders had to that point been informed by media reports.

The lack of support shown by New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern for Australia will no doubt be remembered, but is of little real consequence.

In terms of regional politics, the bigger concern is the disconnect between demands being made of Australia on fossil fuels and those of its strategic competitor, China. Australia is reducing coal use and providing cleaner alternatives for regional neighbours. But there is no meaningful demand that China cut its fossil fuel use or begin to reduce emissions until 2030.

Between January and June, China’s energy regulator has given the go-ahead to build 141 million tonnes of new annual coal production.

Chinese coal output rose 2.6 per cent in the first half of this year to 1.76 billion tonnes, and the China State Grid Corporation last month forecast that total coal-fired capacity was to grow by 25 per cent.

Given the rising stakes in the “Blue Pacific”, Mr Morrison would have been foolish to accept any invitation to accelerate Australia’s self-harm.


School Choice means more than a public-private pick

The Australian Scholarships Group (ASG)’s flagship annual publication — the Parents Report Card — dishes up some choice findings about school choice in Australia. It provides a sober account of what matters to parents and dispels the claims of school choice opponents.

For detractors, choice in schooling is scorned as synonymous with educational ‘segregation; into gated school communities. They argue choice is a luxury enjoyed by the rich, while the rest are ‘stuck’ with their local school.

But choice is about more than those who can afford to fork out for private school. Parents in NSW enjoy more options than in other states — for instance, with more selective schools and specialist performing arts and sports schools, all under the public school tent. But when it comes to choice, more is more.

And choice in public schools is now threatened by the crackdown on the number of out-of-area enrolments permitted in NSW. This makes it harder for parents to send children to schools on their way to work, or to where their siblings go, or where their needs are best served.

To be sure, for some parents, choice is a non-starter. And, by all means, parents are free to choose not to choose. But, most parents — and increasingly, their children — value choice and don’t take it lightly.

Many already opt for private school. Over 40% of students in high school and 31%  in primary attend a non-government school. Enrolment growth in independent schools, in particular, has been outpacing that of public schools.

A lot goes into the process, but the top considerations according to the ASG are a prospective schools’ reputation, sector, and performance. ABS data shows that for those at private school, reputation is by far the primary reason for choosing a school. For those at public schools, being close to home is the decisive factor.

ASG emphasises that ‘choosing a school with confidence’ is about finding the ‘right’ school, not necessarily the so-called ‘best’ school. This reflects that school reputations are formed by more than scouting the MySchool website ­­— though the tool certainly doesn’t hurt.

For many, choosing a school is also not a decision hatched overnight. 42% considered their high school before commencing primary school — including 61% of those in independent schools, though only 33% in public schools. Another study found one in four consider schools from the time of a child’s birth.

It’s true that choice is not enjoyed equally and fully by everyone. The main barriers reported are cost, waiting lists, and zoning — with barriers more commonly reported by parents of children in public schools.

Cost of some schools is prohibitive for many parents; more than two-thirds report feeling the pinch financially. More efforts to make private school affordable can relieve some of this pressure and make it a viable option.

Waiting lists are tough to nudge, but it pays to remember that they are an indication of demand. One way waiting lists could be reduced is for there to be a greater supply of desirable schools.

The zoning of school catchments compels students of public schools to go local – even if they would prefer to go out-of-area. Zoning also means the composition of schools is less diverse than they would be otherwise – since local areas tend to share demographics. Zoning hurts those living in disadvantaged areas the most — forcing them to pick between public and private, rather than weighing up diverse school offers.

OECD research has argued that to deliver on its promise, choice must be ‘real, relevant, and meaningful’. In Australia, choice needs to be more than just a public-private pick.


Let us now praise masculine men

(Alludes to Wisdom of Sirach 44:1)

On Tuesday afternoon a handful of men ran into the face of danger. Going about their business only seconds before, they confronted a man brandishing a bloody knife, pinning him down in the middle of a bustling Sydney street. The men who stopped further bloodshed have been called heroes, and they will be recognised for their courage. In passing, can we praise masculinity too? Or is that too controversial in an age when masculinity is raised only to condemn what is wrong with men and to preach how to change them.

Today, any celebration of masculinity is limited to praising men who do more housework and get involved with their kids, men who are able to cry, empathise with women and express their feelings. All very important stuff. But none of that would have restrained a crazed man who was threatening more violent carnage in Sydney’s CBD. Can we praise men who do both please?

Lawyer John Bamford picked up a wicker chair from the cafe he was in, raced outside and chased the attacker, 21-year-old Mert Ney, who was bloodied, jumping on a car bonnet while wielding his knife and screaming at passers-by. Ney was jammed to the ground by men using a milk crate and two chairs. Bamford returned the chair to the cafe and ordered a pie.

Traffic controller Steven Georgiadis tried to tackle Ney to the ground. “As soon as I saw the knife I moved to the side so I could crash tackle him sideways so he wouldn’t stab me,” said Georgiadis, who managed to stand on the bloody knife.

From their office window, brothers Luke and Paul O’Shaughnessy saw the mayhem unfolding in the street below and raced down to help. They followed a trail of blood to the man who is alleged to have murdered one woman and stabbed another. “(We) were like ‘Right, where is he? Where is he?’ … I’m shouting, because I’m a bit more risk-averse than Luke, (who is) straight in there.”

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller described these men as heroes of the highest order. It is also true that the heroes were all men exhibiting traits now routinely derided as part of traditional masculinity — brute force and ­aggression, taking charge, adrenalin pumping, taking risks.

Do we fear praising masculinity in case it leads to a scolding for encouraging toxic masculinity?

It’s not an unreasonable fear because the conflation of masculinity with toxic masculinity, to use the phrase favoured by the roving gender police, has become routine. This common sleight of hand to use gender to confect some crudely defined phenomenon stokes pointless gender wars and risks harming both men and women.

No one in their right mind endorses or condones or whitewashes genuinely toxic behaviour, let alone violence. A beautiful woman, Michaela Dunn, died on Tuesday allegedly at the hands of a man. Another innocent woman, Lin Bo, was stabbed, allegedly by the same man. But condemning violence should not be conflated with a male pathology.

The conflation of traditional masculinity with the poorly defined “toxic masculinity” won’t stop bad behaviour because when words lose their meaning, they lose their punch. Take the Gillette ad, “The Best Men Can Be”, where Procter & Gamble tried to hijack this latest fad to turn a profit. Proving that consumers are not fools, it didn’t work. This month, P&G reported a net loss of $US5.24 billion ($7.73bn) for the quarter ending June 30. The company said men today like more facial hair. The company could have added that men today don’t like being told that masculinity needs to be redefined by a preachy razor ad showing a series of men behaving badly. While whoops of delight came from Jane Caro and Clementine Ford, more thoughtful viewers saw an advert with as much nuance as a lightning bolt from God.

Perhaps Gillette’s next foray into “The Best Men Can Be” will include some vision of those brave men saving Sydneysiders from further violence earlier this week. It does no one any favours when gender is used as a cheap weapon, a stunt for ulterior motives.

This week, for example, former foreign minister Julie Bishop fronted a camera, again, to talk about her time in politics, again, this time on Andrew Denton’s Interview program on the Seven Network.

Repeating a story she has told many times, Bishop said that if a woman was the only female voice in the room, men showed a “gender deafness”. “It’s as if they just don’t seem to hear you,” she said.

How often has this happened to her? If it was once, maybe it was an innocent oversight? If it’s more than once, then that deserves a bit of prodding too. For every Julie Bishop who complains, in sweeping terms, about “gender deafness”, there is someone like me who has sat in many board meetings over many years as the only female voice and never experienced gender deafness, only respect and courtesy. But, because I don’t talk about my thoroughly normal experiences in all-male meetings, and Bishop complains endlessly about hers, we are encouraged to treat “gender deafness” as a widespread, deeply entrenched phenomenon that treats women as second-class ­citizens.

Predictably, the movement against toxic masculinity has become an open invitation for some women to grandstand about all kinds of silly, unproven claims, warping our understanding of the true state of affairs between men and women. And as Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.” Even if it is not a lie, repeating the tale of a single experience over and over again does not turn it into a wicked gender-based phenomenon either.

There is only one thing worse than Julia Gillard making claims about misogyny when her leadership tanked: that is hearing Bishop say this week that she was disgusted by the treatment of Australia’s first female prime minister, when Bishop said nothing about it when it was apparently happening. It’s like Bishop’s recent conviction that the Liberal Party has a problem with women, expressed only after she lost the leadership contest last year.

It’s time for the former foreign minister to draw stumps on her stage show because her smiling stage face can’t disguise the sour grapes. When men treat women poorly, it should be called out. And vice versa, if equality means anything. But credibility comes from acting on these matters when you have the power to change things, not afterwards as a stunt to get attention. After all, the bystander is sometimes as bad as the bully.

Bishop’s diminishing credibility aside, there is a far more serious side to the gender zealotry unfolding today. As The Australian reported this week, there are real concerns that NSW crown prosecutors are running sexual assault trials with insufficient regard for the strength of the evidence. One of Sydney’s most prominent criminal lawyers, Greg Walsh, who has acted for alleged victims and defendants, told this newspaper that the “hysteria”, the “zealous” and “activist” prosecutions had “gone too far”. “They (sexual assault cases) are becoming a cause celebre, they are just out of control,” Walsh said.

Lawyer Chris Murphy, another well-known Sydney criminal lawyer, said prosecutors were undoubtedly feeling the potential threat of public condemnation if they didn’t proceed to trial, and go hard in court. It was leading to especially aggressive tactics, Murphy said, with critical evidence being withheld from the defence in some trials.

Murphy cited the recent rape trial of Wolf Creek star John Jarratt, who was acquitted within hours of the jury retiring to consider the verdict. Murphy, who acted for Jarratt, said he had never seen “a more undeserving, weak” crown case go to trial.

Last week, a District Court judge implored the NSW parliament to consider changing laws that are aimed at protecting rape victims but are causing a serious injustice for defendants. The judge is presiding over a case where a man accused of rape is not allowed to bring evidence of 12 incidents in which his female accuser has made false complaints about sexual abuse. On two separate occasions, the woman made false reports to the police, and after being investigated she admitted fabricating the sexual assault allegations. The judge was precluded by law from allowing evidence of the woman’s history of making false claims of sexual assault because of laws that were introduced to stop “offensive and demeaning” cross-examination of an accuser’s sexual history. He described this as an “affront to justice”.

Gender zealotry is having a real impact on our culture and our legal system. It stops us publicly praising the kind of masculinity that unfolded on King Street in Sydney this week. And a fixation with gender is not a win for women either because when women make silly claims, they lose credibility.

The legal consequences are even more troubling given the pressure on prosecutors to proceed with flawed sexual assault trials. If it makes it harder to reform unjust laws, then surely it is time for more women to reconsider their role in stoking gender zealotry. After all, women who make false claims do real damage to genuine victims, and they should face the music for their lies.


Council's new 'meat-free Mondays' to cop BBQ protest

You do get a lot of ratbags on local councils

A meat-eating councillor plans to protest an inner-Melbourne local government meeting next week by hosting a barbecue after the council voted to ban meat on Mondays.

The Greens-led City of Moreland on Wednesday agreed to change its catering contracts to only serve vegetarian food at all council events held on Mondays.

Locals attending council-run events will be affected, as well as councillors at their weekly Monday briefings which are held over a buffet dinner.

The move comes amid a push by a crossbench MP for the Victorian Parliament to go vegan every Monday to stymie greenhouse emissions. Moreland councillor Oscar Yildiz, who quit the Labor Party last year, voted against the motion, labelling it "ridiculous". On Friday morning, he floated the idea of setting up a barbecue across the road from the Coburg council in protest during next Monday's briefing.

"I think we're becoming a sort of dictatorship council," he told The Age. "I didn't get elected by the people of Moreland to ban meat or ban Australia Day or ban parking down Sydney Road."

Animal agriculture is a major polluter and reducing meat consumption is considered a way for individuals to reduce their impact on climate change.

City of Moreland declared a climate emergency last September, and supporting councillors say having meat-free Mondays is a simple way to take action.

"We've declared a climate emergency, but what are we actually doing about it?" said mayor Natalie Abboud at the Wednesday night meeting. "I think it's acceptable that we put our mouths where our money is."

Greens councillor Dale Martin, who moved the amendment, said it was one of the few things Moreland Council could do to reduce its emissions. "Council has a very, very limited sphere of influence in the agriculture space, especially being an inner city council," he said. "We can't be going around expecting our residents to be reducing their emissions without first trying to reduce our own."

He said his colleagues should recognise this would generally impact just one meal a week for the Monday night briefing. Caterers would also need to serve only vegetarian options at other functions or events held on a Monday.

Cr Martin had the support of Cr Abboud and councillors Mark Riley, Jess Dorney and Sue Bolton. The amendment was opposed by Cr Yildiz and councillors John Kavanagh, Ali Irfanli and Lambros Tapinos.

"In September last year council unanimously declared a climate emergency, while some on council are happy with climate platitudes," Cr Martin told The Age on Friday.

"I hope this amendment inspires all councillors to attend future briefings as the data on our website currently shows attendance from some councillors has historically been very poor on a Monday night."

Cr Yildiz said ratepayers often didn't realise councillors were not full-time staff on cushy salaries. "I leave work at 5.30pm to go to council, get there by say 6pm and this is not exactly an a la carte silver service meal we get.

"It's only one meal, but it's only once a week anyway. It's the only meal that we have.

"And you want to deny my freedom of having meat on that day, like really?"

Cr Yildiz said he first got the idea of a barbecue from a ratepayer on Facebook. If it goes ahead, weather permitting, he said he would have vegetarian options and would hope to feed local rough sleepers.

It comes as crossbench MP Andy Meddick, from the Animal Justice Party, campaigns for the Victorian Parliament to go vegan every Monday. Mr Meddick, who is vegan, cited a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report as evidence that food production needed to change for the good of the planet.

The proposal is set to be debated in the upper house and could eventually go to a vote. However, it could proceed without the support of a majority of MPs.

Mr Meddick’s team will lobby the Victorian Parliament’s house committee to make the change, but they believe the proposal would carry greater gravitas if it were passed in the upper house.

His motion says raising animals for human consumption “is a leading cause of the climate emergency” and meat-free Mondays would be a step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


PNG’s debt overture to Beijing rings alarm bells

On a cold Canberra morning 18 days ago, Scott Morrison stood alongside Prime Minister James Marape at Parliament House, declaring Australia had “no truer friend” than Papua New Guinea.

Marape, on an official visit with full red carpet treatment, said he came to Australia as “friend and family”, and that for PNG there was no relationship “more important than our relationship with Canberra”.

But back on home soil this week, Marape indicated PNG’s relationship with China could soon rival its ties with Australia, in crude financial terms at least.

After a meeting with Chinese ambassador Xue Bing in Port Mores­by on Wednesday, Marape made a series of announcements that would have set heads spinning in the Australian government’s new Office of the Pacific.

Most alarming for Australia was a request — publicised in an official statement from Marape’s office — by PNG for Chinese help to refinance its entire $11.8 billion government debt.

In a statement, Marape said he had asked the ambassador formally to convey the request to Beijing, and for PNG’s central bank to work directly with the People’s Bank of China “in ensuring that consultations are under way”.

Also concerning was the foreshadowing of new deals with China to build ports and airfields, to be discussed on Marape’s imminent state visit to Beijing.

Wider play

The idea that PNG could consolidate its government borrowings under a single Chinese loan would seem to be a bizarre move for a leader who pledged to “take back” PNG’s economy from foreigners, leading some to see a wider play.

As one long-time PNG observer says: “It looks like a massive China-sanctioned shit-stir for Australia.”

Marape back-pedalled on his statement yesterday, saying his government also would look to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and “some other ­possible non-traditional partners”, to secure low-cost and concessional loans to restructure his ­country’s debt. He says there will be “no more unnecessary loans except to refinance our expensive loans and for key enabling economic infrastructure”.

But strategic experts say the prospect of PNG becoming ensnared in a Chinese debt trap is not one that can be taken lightly.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings says there is now a familiar pattern of China luring developing nations to accept loans they cannot afford, forcing them to make political commitments to Beijing or hand over key assets.

He cites Sri Lanka’s experience, where it was forced to surrender the southern port of Hambantota to Beijing on a 99-year lease after defaulting on a Belt and Road Initiative loan, as well as surging Chinese debt in Africa.

“Given our geography, this is something we have to pay very close attention to,” Jennings says. “Frankly, PNG is of immense strategic importance to us. We saw that in World War II. It is the first buffer of any big strategic threat that might develop for Australia.

“And for that country to find itself under the thumb of Chinese financiers I think would be extremely dangerous.

Morrison, who will meet regional leaders in Tuvalu next week at the Pacific Island Forum, avoids directly addressing the question of Chinese influence in the Pacific.

But he has a simple message for Pacific leaders that succinctly sums up the problem, without antag­onising Beijing.

Australia, he says, wants to ­ensure “each and every one of those nations are as independent and as sovereign and as much in charge of their future as they ­possibly can be”.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Friday, August 16, 2019

Bitter woman told her online lover she would falsely tell police he had raped her unless he coughed up $30,000

A vile fraudster threatened to tell an online lover that she'd falsely report him for raping her if he didn't come up with $30,000.

But Beatrice Hinton claims it is she who has been hard done by.

The 61-year old, who migrated to Australia from Kuwait after marrying an Aussie she had never met, claimed she had been ripped off by males all her life.

First it was a bogus photographer in the 1990s who ripped-off her life savings.

Then when her husband died, she squandered their savings on various men she met online - none of whom she ever actually met or even spoke with.

She had tried a couple of dating sites before - Spice of Life and Widow Singles Near Me - but it was on Oasis Active where she found her mark.  Two days after meeting him in person, Hinton hit the man up for $20,000, which she claimed she would pay back.

The man refused and days later she asked him again, this time asking him to marry her because she refused to have sex before marriage.  She had sex with him anyway at his beach house, but the court heard this is when his real troubles began.

Days later she called the man a rapist and demanded $6000.

She told her victim she had medical tests done after their sex sessions and planned to use the results to make false rape reports against him if he didn't pay up. 'Either give me the money or I go to the cops,' she texted.

When that didn't work, Hinton got her soon-to-go-missing Italian online friend to threaten the man. This time Hinton demanded $30,000 or the rape would be reported.

The man called police, who arrested Hinton in July last year.

She admitted she had tried to get the money out of her victim.

County Court Judge Felicity Hampel warned she may jail Beatrice Hinton for blackmailing her victim

While Hinton hopes to escape jail on a community corrections order, Judge Hampel said she would consider jailing her.

'It's conduct that perpetuates the myth on women rape claims,' she said. 'It's the sort of conduct where one bad act like this undermines so much work ... It's a particularly insidious thing to do in (the victim's) situation.'

Hinton, who has pleaded guilty to blackmail, will return to court for a further pre-sentence hearing next month.


Yes, Ministers – collaboration is the answer

Public confidence in Australian school education may be low, but no one could complain about a shortage of official reviews and reports.

High-powered panels and prominent figures continue to produce lengthy publications recommending various strategies to achieve one mighty goal: improve the academic performance of students.

The long list includes the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools (Gonski 2.0), the Independent Review into Rural, Regional and Remote Education and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy 2015.

From the start of this year, all states and territories have signed up to a National School Reform Agreement that has the overarching objective of ensuring that Australian schooling provides a high quality and equitable education for all students. That Agreement will expire on 31 December 2023.

Success will depend on what the Agreement refers to as ‘the long-standing practice of collaboration between all governments to deliver school education reform’.

But wait, there’s more! One of the most important — albeit most abstract — documents guiding Australian school education since 2008 is also being reviewed.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, signed by all education ministers serving at the time, has steered the development of the Australian Curriculum and other reforms. It followed the Hobart Declaration (1989) and the Adelaide Declaration (1999).

All these national frameworks have stressed the importance of collaboration. As the Hobart Declaration put it, working together “to enhance Australian schooling” would be the key to success.

But collaboration isn’t easy in a federal system where each jurisdiction has separate responsibility for schools, teachers, curriculum, assessment, student credentials … and so on. There are still far more differences than areas of common practice. Notwithstanding the flexibility states and territories need to do their best work for their own schools and students, this is not leading to the best results.

As ministers consider the review documents landing on their desks, collaboration should be at the very top of the subsequent list of action items. They should insist on an honest assessment of the cost and benefits of education between 1989 and 2019 — particularly as seen through the lens of national agreement and the goals of the three documents.

If nothing else, better collaboration would set a great example to young Australians. After all, isn’t this one of the exciting new 21st century skills they are supposed to be learning?

Ministers would be wise to tread cautiously with regard to all proposals for solutions. Australian education has been all too vulnerable in the past to a range of fads and trends, much of which explains the challenges we face now.

It would be good to think that 30 years of talking about teamwork won’t be wasted.


New United Nations appointment for Gillian Triggs

I loathed the supercilious Leftist bias of this woman when she infested the Australian bureaucracy and the sarcastic writer below thinks similarly.  She and the U.N. are a good fit for one-another, though

She is our lady with the lamp and may her light shineth ever so bright in exposing human rights abuses. Now that illumination will be amplified a hundredfold across the world. Naturally I speak of emeritus professor Gillian Triggs, former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and soon to be the United Nations Assistant High Commissioner for Protection as announced this week.

Describing her new role as a “huge job with massive implications,” Triggs spoke of the “71 million displaced people and refugees around the world”. She added, however, this job is “largely diplomatic in function”, which presumably explains why she will be based in Geneva, Switzerland, well away from the arse end of the world and the displaced people in question. For those of you who have not been to Geneva, let’s just say she will be unlikely to rub shoulders there with the rubes of Koo Wee Rup.

Now I know Australians think we lead the world in appointing human rights luminaries to lucrative taxpayer-funded positions, but we are talking Top Gun school for tribunes here, the best of the best. Unlike her time at the HRC, she will not have to suffer the indignity of answering to elected representatives on Senate committees. Nor is it likely impertinent journalists will continue to accuse her of incompetence, untruthfulness, and bias.
Gillian Triggs was immortalised by for the Archibald Prize in

As ever, her pronouncements are full of confidence. “Most refugees overwhelmingly want to go home; one task will be finding and helping their safe transit passage back to their homes and villages,” said Triggs this week. “They want to return home, but safely, and that’s the key thing.” That was news to me. But if she really believes this is the case and that Afghan, Sudanese and Sri Lankan asylum seekers are busting to get back to their country of origin, why was she so opposed to the reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas during her time at the HRC?

Triggs must have missed media reports of hundreds of asylum seekers demonstrating on Monday outside the Home Affairs offices in Sydney, all of whom were demanding permanent visas and the end of TPVs. Among their number was Iraqi refugee Ali Nayyef. “We are part of this country,” he insisted. Far be it from me to question a soon-to-be UN Grand Poobah, but it doesn’t sound like Ali or any of his fellow protesters “overwhelmingly” want to go back to their old countries.

As is typical with human rights advocates, Triggs still obstinately denies the success of Australia’s border protection policies. In 2017, she stated there was “not a scintilla [of] evidence” behind the claim that indefinite detention stopped unlawful vessels or saved lives at sea. The former speaks for itself; as for the latter, there is no better example than the absence of numerous floating bodies off Christmas Island.

“It is obviously very worrying that some countries are pointing to Australia as having an [immigration] approach that they think is worth emulating,” she told The Guardian this week. Indeed, just think of the many terrible things this country has done in that regard: disrupting criminal people-smuggling syndicates, refusing to kowtow to Indonesia, turning back boats that enter Australian waters unlawfully and admitting asylum-seekers here on our terms. It is called insisting on sovereign rights while offering one of the more generous resettlement programs in the world. Truly dreadful I know.

But it seems that in the two years since leaving the commission Triggs has experienced an epiphany. She is now a champion of free speech. Yes, the same woman who only in 2017 publicly lamented that people could say what they like around the kitchen table wrote in The Conversation this week of the “national urgency” to safeguard “common law freedoms”. What could explain this remarkable turnaround? Answer: when the free speech threatened is that of a public servant who uses social media to publicly condemn the government’s policy of detaining asylum seekers offshore.

Triggs took issue with the High Court’s judgment last week in the case of Michaela Banerji, a former departmental public affairs officer who in 2013 was dismissed from the then Department of Immigration and Citizenship after a finding she had breached the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct. Among those she criticised via an anonymous Twitter handle were her then-boss and manager of the department’s communications branch, Sandi Logan; then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr; and then-immigration shadow minster and now Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. She claimed in her tweets that “offshore processing is unlawful” and also used the hashtag “nodetention”.

The full bench of the High Court unanimously found Banerji’s dismissal “did not impose an unjustified burden on the implied freedom of political communication”. It is difficult to disagree with this ruling, especially given the enormous conflict of interest if public servants were allowed not only to publicly undermine their managers, but also to disparage government policy, effectively fracturing the executive.

But according to Triggs, the judgment was “highly technical”, based on a “narrow interpretation” of the law, and one that “failed to recognise Australia’s international treaty obligations”. And here comes the best bit: this precedent is “likely to have a chilling, if not freezing, effect on the liberty of public servants to speak up fearlessly when governments abuse their powers or trample on fundamental freedoms”.

Maybe we should just forget the High Court has already found that offshore processing of asylum seekers is lawful and leave it to activist public servants to be the moral arbiters of the government’s immigration policies. Public servants like Banerji, for example, who as the Canberra Times revealed in April is a Port Arthur and Christchurch massacre truther. For good measure, she also tweets obsessively about Zionists infiltrating parliament and taking over the world. Just the sort of person you would want to be the voice of the public service in the Triggs-envisioned role of it holding the government to account, wouldn’t you say?

In her defence of free speech in this latest opinion piece, Triggs cites cases such as Rugby Australia’s dismissal of Israel Folau, the Australian Federal Police’s search warrant on the ABC, and the prosecution of ‘Witness K’ and lawyer Bernard Collaery for allegedly conspiring to reveal secret information. Fair enough. However, Triggs is silent on section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person on the basis of race, colour, or national or ethnic origin.

This is not surprising, given the HRC’s lamentable role in the appalling Queensland University of Technology case, in which seven students were the subject of an 18C complaint arising from some of them objecting over being denied entry to an ‘indigenous only’ computer lab. The students were denied natural justice because of the HRC’s year long delay in notifying them (one was not even notified). Consequently, several students were forced to negotiate an expensive settlement; the others had to defend a $250,000 civil suit in the Federal Court and were only able to do so successfully thanks to barristers Tony Morris QC and Michael Henry who represented them pro bono.

Consider the hypothetical case of a dissenting public servant in the HRC merrily tweeting about the agency’s — and its president’s — numerous failings during Trigg’s tenure. What do you think would have been the likely outcome: Triggs serenely permitting this in the name of holding a statutory appointee to account, or the suspension and likely termination of employment if the public servant did not desist?

As for Triggs’s concerns about the “chilling effect”, she might remember the late artist Bill Leak did much to illustrate that phenomenon in his brilliant cartoons for The Australian. I do not recall her citing artistic freedom or the need to reveal uncomfortable truths when he was hit with an 18C complaint — later withdrawn — after drawing a cartoon depicting a deadbeat indigenous father who did not know the name of his delinquent teenage son.

However, I do recall Triggs freely admitting in her autobiography that after her tenure had ended she dined with the complainant, Melissa Dinnison, and her family, remarking this woman “had stood up against the racist implications of the Leak cartoon”. Bear in mind Triggs had a statutory responsibility for conciliating Dinnison’s complaint impartially, and that Leak was never found to be in breach of 18C. What was Triggs saying about officials abusing their powers and trampling over fundamental freedoms?

Although it grates that Triggs will once again be occupying a lucrative position at our expense, I say we should count our blessings. We should be forever grateful the former law professor will be sitting in a plush UN office and not on the bench of the High Court.



Three current articles below

Australian radio jock blasts 'clown' New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern for lecturing Australia's PM on climate change

During the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu - an independent island nation in the South Pacific - Ardern warned that the Morrison Government 'will have to answer to the Pacific' on global warming.

Morrison is under pressure from the 18 members of the forum to sign a statement which calls for the world to quickly stop using coal to fight global warming.

But the 2GB radio host urged Mr Morrison to fire back at New Zealand's leader, branding her a 'complete clown' after she pledged her nation would have a carbon neutral economy by 2015.

'She is a joke this woman, an absolute and utter light-weight. These people are an absolute joke and Jacinda Ardern is the biggest joke.'

This morning, Jones said of Ardern: 'Here she is preaching on global warming and saying that we've got to do something about climate change.

'If you want to talk about the figures… the fact is New Zealand's carbon dioxide has grown by 10.8 per cent per capita since 1990. Ours has grown by 1.8 per cent.'  

Many of Jones's listeners on Facebook were on board with his comments called Ms Ardern a 'lightweight'.

One fan said: 'Couldn’t agree more with Alan Jones. Tell it like it is. NZ must DUMP Ardern ASAP before the country loses all credibility.'

Jones doubled down on his position on climate change on Facebook, going on to accuse Ms Ardern of excluding agriculture and methane from her calculations, because they 'contribute half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions.'

'When it comes to fossil fuel power generation, coal, oil, gas, biomass - which is dirtier than Australian black coal - New Zealand gets 67.2 per cent; we get 84.8,' Jones said.

'But when it comes to wind and solar which she's in love with, we get 12.1 per cent, New Zealand 0.93 per cent.'

Jones claimed neither Australia or New Zealand slashing emissions would stop climate change. 

'The point is, no matter what either of us does, there will be no impact,' he said.

Ardern said New Zealand was committed to helping ensure the global temperature increase was kept to 1.5 degrees.

In Tuvalu on Wednesday, Morrison vouched that Australia would be a 'champion' for the environment in the Pacific.

However, reports have claimed the country's negotiators are working to water down an official communique about climate change. 


NZ Foreign Minister walks back Jacinda Ardern’s carbon challenge

Ardern depends on the support of Peters to stay in office so she will have to listen to his realistic comments and tone down her virtue signalling

NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters has walked back his prime minister’s challenge to Scott Morrison to explain Australia’s position on climate change, saying Pacific nations need to look at the “big picture”, including China’s massive coal-fired economy.

The NZ deputy PM told ABC radio this morning that calls for Australia to “step-up” on climate change were a “bit of a paradox” as many Pacific countries were seeking cheap loans from China “on the back of coal-fired everything”.

Mr Peters’ comments came after PM Jacinda Ardern said every nation needed to “do its bit” to fight climate change, and “Australia has to answer to the Pacific” for its own emissions policies.

“There’s a big picture we have to contemplate where we have to ensure that when we act in this big picture, we act with consistency and integrity,” Mr Peters said.

The Foreign Minister acknowledged that the island nations were desperately concerned about their long-term longevity, but said China’s emissions also needed to be factored into the discussion.

“You need to look at everybody, not just Australia, but also who is getting that coal and what things they are doing with it.”

He encouraged Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Tuvalu to “look at all the details”, and downplayed concerns Mr Morrison was out of step with his counterparts.

In conciliatory comments after Ms Ardern said Australia would be held accountable by the Pacific for its emissions policies, Mr Peters said he was “slightly worried” there was an outward perception Mr Morrison was “somehow acting incorrectly” when that wasn’t the “real picture at all.”

PIF leaders this morning went into a retreat to negotiate the final wording of the Fanufuti Declaration, which small island states want to include a strong statement about transitioning away from coal, limiting temperatures to 1.5 degrees, and replenishing the UN’s Green Climate Fund.

Mr Morrison, who is pushing back against all three demands while simultaneously defending his “Pacific step-up”, told counterparts the nation’s “coal dependency has been falling”, and “record renewables investments” was underway across Australia.

It’s understood he will contrast China’s environmental performance, including its massive reliance on coal-fired power, to that of Australia.

China has 981,000MW of installed coal generation capacity, compared to Australia’s 25,150MW.

Mr Morrison has committed an extra $500 million this week to Pacific climate change resilience projects, on top of $300 million announced by the Turnbull government.

Ms Ardern today announced she would set aside $150m of New Zealand’s $300m global climate change development assistance to the Pacific, but did not provide additional funding.

When asked whether Australia was at risk of alienating Pacific nations because of its climate change stance, Mr Peters said the island countries should remember Australia has been a “great neighbour” to the Pacific. “They should remember who has been their long term and short term friends,” he said.


Easy for NZ PM to point the finger at Australian climate policy

Demanding Australia abandon its coal production and exports for the good of the climate in the ­Pacific is akin to asking New Zealan­d to give up its love affair with sheep.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is naive if she believe­s such moves would be economically feasible or in the best interests of regional stability.

New Zealand under Ardern may be a poster child at this week’s Pacific Islands Forum for setting a 2050 ambition for her country’s carbon neutrality.

But it has only been possible because less than 20 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity comes from fossil fuels and its biggest source of emissions, agriculture, has been given a free pass.

Most New Zealand power comes from hydro, geothermal and, increasingly, wind.

In terms of historic performance, New Zealand just scraped through the first Kyoto round of emissions cuts and failed to sign up to a legally binding target for the second. New Zealand parted company with Europe and Aust­ralia and instead joined Japan, Canada and Russia in a non-binding commitment for 2020.

In 2015, after barely securing a surplus in credits for Kyoto’s first ­period, New Zealand said it would apply the 123.7 million unit excess to its non-binding 2020 emissions reduction target — something it now criticises Australia for wanting to do with the Paris Agreement. Greenhouse gas emissions figures are notoriously difficult to compare because of different treatments of land-use contributions. But without taking these into account it is clear that ­Australia’s challenge is 10 times bigger than that of New Zealand.

Figures compiled by the European Commission show Australia’s emissions without land use rose to 402 million tonnes in 2017, up from 275 million in 1990. New Zealand’s comparative emissions were 36.8 million tonnes in 2017, up from 24 million tonnes in 1990.

For perspective, China’s emissions were 10.9 billion tonnes.

The UN Green Climate Fund is another case in point. Australia gave the body $200 million between 2015 and last year but has pulled out after a meltdown in governance and confidence.

Climate groups are asking Australia to up its contribution to $400m a year. But Scott Morrison has made clear he would prefer to ­direct spending through the ­Pacific region.

New Zealand’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund was a tiny $3m by comparison, but Aust­ralia’s $500m contribution to regional projects, through a partia­l rebadging of foreign aid, did not win it any points.

The hard fact for Australia is that Pacific neighbours represent a potent force in the geopolitics of global climate change negotiations and enjoy a close alliance with non-government groups.

WWF said Australia’s $500m in Pacific funding must be accompanied by a plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This means ­reducing domestic emissions by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and phasing out thermal coal export­s by the same year.

Including a ban on coal ­exports, the nation’s biggest export­ earner, would make the challenge all the more difficult for Australia. As a result, Australia’s strategic ambitions in the Pacific region more broadly have been caught up in other concerns.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here