Friday, February 03, 2023

Queensland protesters face court charged with disrupting state parliament

More than a dozen people charged over a protest staged in Queensland parliament last year, including the wife of the man who headed the state government's integrity probe, have faced court.

It is alleged a group of climate activists caused parliamentary proceedings to be paused for several minutes in November, after they stood up in the public gallery and began chanting.

Some of the men and women, aged between their 20s and 80s, were holding banners with messages opposing new resource projects in the state.

Fourteen people were charged with disrupting the legislature, including Lee Coaldrake, the wife of Peter Coaldrake, who led an independent review into culture and accountability in the public sector.

The other members of the group include Aisling Geraghty, Lisa McDermott, David and Judith Rasborsek, John and Rae Sheridan, Sasha Steindl, Dianne Tucker, Robin Keller, Miree Le Roy, Ian Hawksworth, Wendy Hawsworth and Tracey Hickey.

Mrs Sheridan and Ms Steindl were also charged with failing to comply with the direction of the speaker.

They each appeared briefly for the first time in the Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning, where their matters were adjourned to next month.

The group are all on bail and as part of their conditions were ordered by the court to stay away from the grounds of Parliament House.

Mrs Coaldrake said there was a "general overreach" across all levels of government in Australia, in relation to attempting to "silence protesters". "It's not about the court or us being punished, we are here because we are not acting appropriately or urgently enough on climate change," she said.

"What we have in common is a belief in the science and also we're terrified about what the future holds for our children and grandchildren."

Her co-accused, Ms Le Roy, said she believed there had been a "crackdown" on climate protesters and could not understand why they were being "targeted" at the same time the nation was experiencing increasing natural disaster events.

"I'm not sure why the people who are supposed to protect us are walking away and actually trying to punish people who are trying to sound the alarm," she said.

Another co-accused, Mrs Hawksworth, said "we are not criminals by any stretch of the imagination".

"We just have a moral duty," she said. "[The protests are] always non disruptive and non-violent – always peaceful."


Resisting the Left’s ideological war on Australia

Lyle Shelton

We can’t go on like this. Alice Springs is burning and the radical Left is waging war on our legitimacy. Nothing will placate their demands.A treaty won’t, a ‘Voice’ won’t.

Wokeism’s insistence that we continue to ignore fatherlessness and family breakdown means the kids will stay on the streets.

A Voice to a Parliament that can’t even define a woman, let alone a family – the basic building block of society and the hope for every child of the human race – can offer no answers.

Changing the date of Australia Day won’t placate the rage of the Lidia Thorpes or the stop the passive-aggressive patronising of the Linda Burneys.

If the problem is ‘the invasion’, a new national day can’t be the solution.

But when the annual Australia Day tumult and the shouting dies down, we are still left with arguably the most desirable nation on the planet.

New citizens from Asia and Africa scratch their heads.

Waves of non-white immigrants, who love the new life our culture and political institutions, give testament to the fact that we are some of the least racist people on Earth.

Yet the left want to burn it all down.

For the first time in our history, the national government is actively undermining Australia Day.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said staff employed by the Department of Finance were free to give our national day a miss, making the Prime Minister’s assurance there were ‘no plans’ to change the date sound disingenuous at best.

Woke corporations such as Tennis Australia, Cricket Australia and the media promote ‘Pride’ and gender-affirmation to children, but eschew pride in our nation.

For example, Tennis Australia refused to acknowledge Australia Day but held a ‘Pride Day’ at the Australian Open.

Toxic identity politics is killing national cohesion.

Displaying an Australian flag on Australia Day feels like an act of rebellion. Flying the rainbow flag is safer.

Our flag has become a symbol of resistance against our Woke elite overlords.

Despite all the fuss, the reality is the Australian nation exists. It is not going away.

The starter’s gun in the race to claim what was then called New Holland was fired by governments in London and Paris in 1787.

The British fleet beat the two French frigates of La PĂ©rouse by just four days. That was a photo finish.

That is why Governor Arthur Phillip hoisted the Union Jack in Sydney Cove as quickly as he could.

The date happened to be January 26, a day which started the trajectory, warts and all, of modern Australia.

What has been achieved here is extraordinary and is something every Australian from every racial background should take pride in.

Undermining pride in Australia is not the way to fix Alice Springs.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine writes eloquently in the Australian Financial Review about his up-bringing by a mother and father who were determined not to be victims.

‘The problems in Alice Springs aren’t hard to understand. The world over, social breakdown, family violence and abuse, drug and alcohol abuse go hand in hand with kids not going to school, adults not in work and chronic intergenerational welfare dependency.

‘We were taught that you’re never a victim, and you’re just as good as any other person. But you have to get educated, work for a living and seize any opportunities you can to better yourself, your family, and your community. You have to take responsibility for your own future and not be pushed around by governments and bureaucrats. You also can’t look to them to rescue you.’

The social breakdown Mundine speaks of is of course family breakdown.

Fatherlessness is the curse that political correctness won’t let us name, although former deputy Prime Minister John Anderson raised ‘family structure’ on Sky News Australia this week when commenting on Alice Springs.

As Mundine writes, his father and mother certainly were not treated justly by the Aboriginal Protection Board of the day.

But despite our nation’s faults, it still gave him and his family the opportunity for a better future.

Despite the hand-wringing of the radical left, those opportunities still exist and will only be enhanced if we have the courage to strengthen our families and take pride in our nation.

Destroying family and destroying our national identity is sadly their project.

One of the best ways to resist and rebuild is to continue to celebrate Australia Day on January 26.


Unions and green groups clash on carbon offsets

The Australian Workers Union and Mining and Energy Union have attacked conservation and clean-energy groups trying to block fossil fuel companies from accessing carbon offsets under Labor’s tougher safeguard mechanism, warning that heavy industries could “collapse”.

The unions said the mechanism, which will force the nation’s 215 biggest-emitting facilities to slash pollution by nearly 5 per cent each year to 2030, must include Australian Carbon Credit Unit offsets and safeguard credits for fossil fuel industries to help their transition and avoid carbon leakage.

BP and Orica, which have facilities captured by the safeguard mechanism, along with the Business Council of Australia and Minerals Council of Australia have strongly backed access to carbon credits and trading to ­accelerate emissions reduction.

In a joint AWU-MEU submission to a Senate inquiry into Labor’s safeguard mechanism (crediting) amendment bill, the unions endorsed Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen’s draft plan but warned “it is impossible to apply a single approach to reducing emissions across many industries”. The unions, representing 90,000 blue-collar workers, said “the design of the safeguard mechanism will have a significant impact” on industrial facilities that underpin regional economies.

“Australia’s heavy industries continue to provide good pay and conditions to thousands of people across the country, and our members are keen to play a role in supporting Australia through the energy transition,” the submission said. “A successful transition of Australia’s industrial sector also has the opportunity to place Australia as a clean-energy superpower, creating new job ­opportunities for coal workers and across the broader economy.

“By contrast, a poor transition that fails to consider Australia’s international competitiveness could see our industries collapse.”

Amid calls from the private sector for a bipartisan agreement on the mechanism, the Coalition has flagged it will oppose the emissions crackdown while Greens leader Adam Bandt is ­demanding new coal and gas projects be scrapped in return for his support in the Senate.

The AWU and MEU said the mechanism, due to start in July, was the most significant energy policy imposed on heavy industry since the now-repealed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

They said higher-grade Australian thermal and metallurgical coal exports would remain essential globally for years. “Some commentary has suggested that fossil fuel projects should be excluded from the use of carbon offsets or otherwise treated differently from safeguard facilities.

“This misguided proposal fails to recognise that Australian coal and natural gas have a role to play in the world’s transition to lower emissions, and it also disregards carbon leakage risks.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation said coal and gas ­facilities should not have access to carbon credits and be excluded from a $600m fund supporting their low-emissions transition.

ACF climate and energy manager Gavan McFadzean told The Australian “fossil fuel industries have had a free ride on polluting with a toothless safeguard mechanism for the last seven years”.

“The fossil fuel sector has had plenty of time to prepare for this, but has chosen not to prepare and is now crying the sky is going to fall in,” Mr McFadzean said.

Orica, whose ammonium nitrate manufacturing sites in Newcastle and Gladstone fall under the safeguard mechanism, said it supported the “thrust” of the new regime but was “concerned with the erosion of the existing deemed surrender provision and investment uncertainty”.

“Deemed surrender enables an entity to surrender ACCUs to government to achieve an emissions reduction and to also receive payment under an ERF carbon abatement contract,” Orica said.

The chemical giant said deemed surrender had helped it “meet our voluntary corporate emissions reduction commitments and monetise our ACCUs”.

BP, whose facilities under the safeguard mechanism include the Kwinana refinery, said it supports a “market-based policy … to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

“It is BP’s view that the crediting of emissions performance below the safeguard baseline and the ability to trade those credits is essential to the reformed mechanism … ” BP said. “It encourages entities to reduce their emissions beyond what is required … if it is cost-effective to do so. This supports efficiency across safeguard entities, with the market determining the lowest cost abatement pathway for the sector.”

The Australian Aluminium Council, whose members operate several bauxite mines, six alumina refineries and four aluminium smelters captured by the safeguard mechanism, said short-term carbon credits and offsets were crucial because low-emissions technologies were still being developed.


Look back in anger at government Covid folly

Remember this joke: a teenager kills his parents and appeals to the courts for mercy as an orphan? The Australian Medical Association backed lockdown restrictions back in the day but is now complaining about the growing backlog in elective surgery. Here’s a question. Had the vast sums thrown at Covid been redirected to the leading killer diseases, using the standard quality-adjusted life year metric, how many million deaths would have been averted around the world over the next decade? The lockdown harms are showing up in excess death counts, job losses, supply chain chaos, rising cost of living, and have locked in generational poverty and inequality in and across nations. Historical illiteracy is now a job requirement for ‘experts’. Germany has burnt 17.25 million masks past their expiry date, while stockpiling more for future emergencies. Recalling Margaret Thatcher’s comment on the trouble with socialism, politicians don’t learn from mistakes made with other people’s money. The media too lived down to their description as stenographers with amnesia. The state dictated every aspect of peoples’ lives, down to the most ridiculous, absurd and intimate details. With no known cure for blind faith in governments, people embraced compliance with draconian directives from politicians proffering iron fists as a magic bullet.

Lockdowns were a euphemism for a wholesale shutting down of social and economic activities and putting entire populations under house arrest. Neither based in science and best-practice medicine, nor commensurate with the age-stratified threat from the virus, they lasted on and off for two years with constantly shifting goalposts. As early as February-March 2020, data told us that elderly people with comorbidities were the most vulnerable. In a modern-day version of sacrificing virgins to appease the viral gods, the young have lost many more years of their life to buy a few more lonely, miserable months for the infirm old. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that lack of household exposure to kids increased Covid hospitalisation of grown-ups by 27 per cent and ICU admission by 49 per cent. They should have said: ‘Don’t be a Granny killer. Leave that to us.’

The UK Influenza Preparedness Strategy 2011 encapsulated the prevailing consensus on masks: ‘there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use in [the community and household] setting’. The lack of observed differences can be seen in a series of comparative charts in Ian Miller’s Unmasked: The Global Failure of Covid Mask Mandates (2022). Governments ‘nudged’ the public to exert peer pressure as a tool of social coercion, backed by sometimes brutal police action against pockets of resistance and protest. Mask mandates reflected and perpetuated the reign of fear and demonstrated broad compliance with the effort of governments to exercise population-wide social control. A highly visible symbol of collectivist compliance, masks became Mao suits for the face. The degree of coercion deployed to increase vaccine uptake would not have been possible without the ground having first been prepared with lockdowns and masks.

Japan has extraordinarily high levels of public compliance with government directives and mask wearing is all pervasive. Using Our World in Data figures, Japan hit 80 per cent full vaccination on 9 December 2021 when its Covid daily death rate was 0.01 per million. This had risen to 3.43 per million on 9 January 2023. Total deaths had increased from 18,370 to 63,777 over that period. Thus 2.5 times as many people died with Covid in the 13.5 months after full vaccination than in the 21.3 months before 80 per cent full vaccination. Yet they still refuse to entertain the notion that vaccines might be the problem, not the solution. The continued hold of the ‘safe and effective’ vaccine mantra, and face mask efficacy for controlling the coronavirus is cause for despair in official cussedness and public gullibility. The transient effectiveness of vaccines has necessitated boosters every few months. Often vaccine rollouts coincided with upsurges in infections and deaths, suggesting negative efficacy. Newer studies show successive doses are less effective and repeated doses may be driving infections by damaging immune function. When vaccines began to be administered at the end of 2020, 1.9 million people had died with Covid globally. Another 4.8 million have died since then. Added to the growing toll of vaccine injuries, this has discredited officials and experts who claimed the vaccines would prevent infection, transmission, severe illness and death. Yet all that matters to zealots is how many arms are jabbed and how often.

With help from the media, social media (thank you, Elon Musk, for the Twitter Files) and police, people were frightened, shamed and brutalised into submission to arbitrary and authoritarian diktats. Governments deployed state propaganda to instil fear of the disease and shame all effort to question edicts. Turning the debate from a scientific discourse into a moral imperative facilitated the demonisation and denigration of critical voices on the lethality of the virus, the effectiveness and ethics of lockdowns, masks and vaccine mandates, and the harms inflicted by these interventions. Calls have grown for an immediate suspension of vaccinations until the unusually strong correlation with excess deaths, heart problems and female reproduction are properly investigated. Instead, suspicions become only stronger that regulators have become vaccine-enablers first, more committed to defend vaccines from criticism than protect people from harmful vaccines. The media switched from exposing official lies to amplifying them. One dispiriting lesson of the last three years is people will ‘live happily ever after’ as long as the media ignores how governments trample our freedoms while claiming to keep us safe.

On every major point of contention in managing the pandemic, the Great Barrington Declaration was right. Fearmongers-in-chief like Neil Ferguson, Anthony Fauci (whose omniscience deserted him during deposition) and their local ‘useful idiots’ were wrong. The common sense distilled into the few words of the Declaration was an uncommon virtue. The three scientist-authors – from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford! – were taken down savagely and belittled as ‘fringe epidemiologists’. This malfeasance was compounded by the cowardice of political leaders hiding behind ‘Follow the Science’ that mistook a slogan for policy and let loose upon democratic societies previously unimaginable acts and scenes of censorship, coercion and brutality which have gradually eroded trust in authorities and institutions. Recovery and healing will be difficult without accountability, punishment and robust institutional guardrails against repeating episodes of the abuses.




Thursday, February 02, 2023

Alice Springs mayor Matt Paterson demands Ita Buttrose retract ‘white supremacy’ stories

The mayor of Alice Springs has demanded ABC chair Ita Buttrose retract multiple stories on the public broadcaster that claimed the town’s community forum on Monday was beset by sentiments of “white supremacy”.

Matt Paterson said the reports that aired nationally on the ABC following Monday’s meeting at the Alice Springs Convention Centre were a complete misrepresentation of what took place and “it could not be further from the truth”.

“Ita Buttrose should retract the stories and issue a public statement of apology to the community of Alice Springs,” he told The Australian. “I was in the meeting and I’m not a white supremacist”.

He said he would give the ABC 24 hours to do so or he would be filing a formal complaint with the organisation.

The ABC aired several reports, including a live cross to its Indigenous affairs correspondent outside the Alice Springs Convention Centre, during which she stated: “People were leaving early and streaming out of that Convention Centre in Alice Springs, we spoke to some who were quite emotional.

“One resident who was non-indigenous said the meeting was, quote, ‘a disgusting display of white supremacy’.”

Mr Paterson said the community was “already full of anxiety” and this story was only “adding fuel to the fire”.

“This story is not correct and now has national media attention and it’s why the Alice Springs community loses faith with the rest of the country, because of these stories that portray as all as racists and it’s absolutely not the case,” he said.

The suggestion that the forum was a “white supremacist fest” were also refuted by Country Liberal Party MP Josh Burgoyne who was born and raised in Alice Springs.

He told Sky News Australia host Andrew Bolt on Tuesday night the public broadcaster’s reports were “extraordinarily disappointing”.

“I was at the meeting yesterday afternoon, what I witnessed was actually a coming together of the community,” Mr Burgoyne said on Sky News on Tuesday night. “It showed that people in Alice Springs had had enough.”

Sydney’s 2GB breakfast radio host also Ben Fordham also took aim at the ABC’s coverage on Wednesday morning.

Fordham referenced some of the comments that he said the ABC had “cherrypicked” from people outside the meeting, and accused the broadcaster of only covering one side of the story.

“And there were no examples given of the so-called ‘white supremacy’.”

Issues discussed at the meeting included the rising crime rates in the town and whether class action should be taken against the Northern Territory government for its failure to address the problem.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine said on Sky News Australia the ABC’s reporting was “disgraceful”.

“They … just spoke to a small handful of people and they made out there’s sort of like some Ku Klux Klan meeting going inside which could be no further from the truth,” he said.

“These are decent Australian citizens black and white who were there to resolve a whole lot of issues happening in that community.”

However the ABC defended its reporting of the community event.

“The ABC’s long-running reporting on the issues facing Alice Springs has included a range of perspectives and will continue to canvass people’s views and experiences as coverage continues,” a spokeswoman said.

“Many strong and conflicting views and opinions are expressed within the community, including some confronting views and the news coverage reflects that and doesn’t shy away from it.”

Despite being heavily critical of some of the ABC’s reporting, both Mr Paterson and Mr Burgoyne commended the public broadcaster’s local reporters who are stationed permanently in the area.


No acknowledgment of Aboriginal country for Gold Coast council. Mayor says national anthem is 'enough'

The City of Gold Coast is the largest council in Queensland that does not conduct an acknowledgement of country at its ordinary meetings, which instead begin with a prayer and the national anthem.

Other larger councils, including Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Townsville conduct acknowledgements of country.

According to the council's minutes, about 60 per cent of Queensland's local councils deliver an acknowledgement of country at the beginning of their ordinary meetings.

Mayor Tom Tate said he would take the matter on board but there would be no changes until the current term ends in March 2024. "Everything is going great here. [During] citizenship [ceremonies] we do acknowledgement," he said.

"Council business is council business. "We do our national anthem and I think it's good enough."

Speaking again on Thursday, Cr Tate said holding an acknowledgement before council meetings was "not efficient".

"You've got all the staff there, everyone is per hourly rate, I don't waste a minute on other things," he said. "We do our prayer, we do our national anthem and we get on with our business."

Cr Tate said he had not been approached by traditional owners but that he understood the council was planning to appoint an Indigenous liaison officer.


Treasurer Chalmers’s essay is terrible economics, but a very good guide to the radical nature of the Albanese government

It’s not often I quote Paul Keating but his declaration, “when you change the government you change the country”, encapsulates the left’s mindset for government. To the left, government exists to pursue an aggressive agenda, using the organs of state to remake individuals, institutions, and society. Whereas to the right, government’s purpose is only to do what citizens can’t do for themselves, hence government should normally be smaller, not bigger.

So when Jim Chalmers talks about “reinventing capitalism”, to base markets on “values”, he’s talking about the Labor Party’s values, not yours.

Hence there’ll be even more government interference, dressed up as greater fairness, on your freedom to buy, sell, own and invest. This latest missive, from a Treasurer who hasn’t even had 12 months behind his fiscal desk, reveals a government already looking far more radical than the “safe change” platform it was elected on.

Chalmers’s essay in The Monthly is terrible economics but a very good guide to the real nature of the Albanese government that not only wants to change the way we’re governed but to make government bigger and more domineering than ever, despite the absence of any demonstrable mandate.

Before May’s election, Anthony Albanese was at pains to reassure us he’d cut electricity bills, raise real wages, and do more on climate, but only in ways that created jobs and boosted the economy. There’d be no deals with the Greens, and his role model would be Bob Hawke, the last Labor prime minister who actually delivered a budget surplus.

Exploiting Scott Morrison’s unpopularity, Albanese skilfully created the impression all he really intended to change was the identity of the prime minister. But that’s not how it’s turning out.

Pre-election, then-shadow treasurer Chalmers denied multi-employer agreements were “part of our policy” to lull business groups into a false sense of security. Post-election, the law was changed to permit industry-wide bargaining and industry-wide strikes after dragooning business into a “jobs summit” that was a pre-planned stitch-up with the unions; Hawke-Kelty in style but nothing like it in substance.

And there was more. The government pre-empted legislation to abolish the building industry watchdog by first stripping its funding. It then announced emissions-intensive industries would have to buy carbon credits at up to $75 a tonne to keep operating. Most recently, to limit the power price rises driven by attempts to prematurely retire fossil fuels, the government took the unprecedented step of imposing price controls on gas and thermal coal.

Now, the Treasurer has tried to lend a spurious intellectual rationale to this abandonment of economic responsibility via supposedly reinventing capitalism to deal with what he calls the “poly-crisis” of war, pandemic, climate change and inflation. Markets are not perfect but they’re the most efficient way to allocate scarce resources. And what Chalmers finds mysterious and attributes to the failings of markets is much more often the failure of governments: such as today’s inflation due to governments’ unfunded spending to deal with the pandemic, and supply chain bottlenecks due to government-ordered pandemic lockdowns.

Labor has form when it comes to masking economic ineptitude under a thin veneer of moralising. In a 2009 Monthly essay, Kevin Rudd claimed the global financial crisis proved the failings of capitalism. Like Chalmers, he wanted markets with a higher purpose; only in practice, his legacy was massively overpriced school halls, a multibillion-dollar failed pink batts scheme, and billions more spent on hospitals and schools without any commensurate improvement in outcomes.

In early 2012, Chalmers’s then boss, Wayne Swan, also penned a Monthly essay, but his supposedly superior insights into capitalism didn’t save him from the worst economic prediction of all: namely, his 2012 budget boast about “the four years of surpluses I announce tonight”, of which none ever arrived.

Chalmers asks: “How do we build this more inclusive and resilient economy?” His answer: “By strengthening our institutions and our capacity with a focus on the intersection of prosperity and wellbeing, on evidence, on place and community, collaboration and co-operation. By reimagining and redesigning markets – seeking value and impact, strengthening safeguards and guardrails in areas of unchecked risk. And with co-ordination and co-investment: recognising that government, business, philanthropic and investor interests and objectives are increasingly aligned and intertwined.”

This pretentious blather is worth quoting at some length because it typifies his essay, which is almost entirely devoid of any meaningful, specific content.

He seems to regard the government’s energy policy as a good example of how values-based capitalism might work. And it’s true that as long as there are consumer subsidies and government incentives for renewables, rent-seeking investors will rush to install more wind turbines and solar panels.

Unfortunately, apart from the inflated profits of the businesses restricting supply, the result of too much intermittent and not enough reliable power is much higher prices to consumers and the likely loss of all our heavy industry to jurisdictions that don’t care about how power is generated; just that it’s cheap and 24/7. The problems in our energy markets are much less from any market failure than from successive governments trying to run them to reduce emissions rather than for optimal power generation.

The Treasurer also seems to regard the nation’s compulsory superannuation balances as the perfect place for governments-that-know-best to partner with impact investors to advance a “social purpose economy”. In practice, though, this means the union-dominated super funds not investing our money to maximise returns to us but to meet the political imperatives of government.

What Chalmers fails to appreciate (and his doctorate is in political science, not economics; his thesis was “Brawler Statesman: Paul Keating and prime ministerial leadership in Australia”) is that what he refers to as “capitalism” is just ordinary human freedom in the economic sphere.

No country has taxed and regulated its way to prosperity, although plenty of governments have tried; always to their citizens’ cost. Likewise, while there are some things that only government can do, such as defending the nation and exercising physical force over citizens, there are no goods or services the public sector can provide more efficiently than the private sector, if the private sector is prepared to invest.

Chalmers is going beyond the obvious point that markets can only operate within a framework of law that government sets. His sermonising against the way markets have operated in Australia, including under the Hawke government, can only mean more regulation, higher taxes, sweetheart deals with rent-seeking big business and big unions, and government forcing money to move from more to less efficient parts of the economy.

“Reinvented capitalism” means stopping us from doing what we want, in favour of forcing us to do what government wants. If Chalmers’s essay is the government’s road map, forget the PM’s spin about emulating Bob Hawke. It’s on a Whitlam-esque path to becoming the most left-wing government in our history.


Immigration minister orders changes to assessments for New Zealanders facing deportation

Most of the offenders are Maori and NZ jails are full of them already

The immigration minister has ordered his department to soften its stance on deporting New Zealanders convicted of serious crimes, saying how long they have lived in Australia should now be made a top consideration.

Australia has deported hundreds of New Zealanders using laws made almost a decade ago that allowed long-term residents to be deported on character grounds, as well as those who had been sentenced to a prison term of at least 12 months.

The most common reasons for visa cancellations of any nationality were drug offences, child sex offences and domestic violence offences.

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the government had told the department to take a "common sense" approach.

"Under these changes the Department of Home Affairs must now consider the length of time someone has lived in the Australian community as one of the primary considerations when determining whether to cancel someone’s visa," the spokesperson said.

"Where individuals pose a risk to the community, the Australian government will continue to cancel their visas and remove them."

Successive New Zealand governments have complained that the people deported to New Zealand had no meaningful links to the country or had spent most of their life in Australia.

New Zealand's recently departed prime minister Jacinda Ardern in 2019 labelled the policy "corrosive" to the country's relationship with Australia during a joint press conference with then-prime minister Scott Morrison.

Ms Ardern raised the issue again with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese following his election win, where he said Australia would not change its core position on deportations, but that his government would take New Zealand's concerns into consideration "as friends".

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the decision was a welcome "first step".

"The acknowledgement on the Australian side that actually some of the people that we are talking about have had a long history in Australia – some of them have been there since they were very young children – and sending them to New Zealand when they have no connections here other than a very historic one isn’t really a fair or just outcome," Mr Hipkins said.

"I think the acknowledgement of that by the Australians is very, very welcome.

Mr Hipkins said further work with Australia around visa cancellations would continue, as well as "the general treatment of New Zealanders living in Australia".

"That's something that was discussed with Jacinda Ardern in the first meeting that was held," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in Perth.

"Some common sense needs to be applied here between Australia and New Zealand.

"But we retain, of course, our right to take action on the basis that it's appropriate action."




Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Youth and age

Two generations of Leftism

image from

Monique Ryan on the Left and Sally Rugg on the right. Ryan hired Rugg to work for her but Rugg says she was worked too hard. Ryan is a "Teal" and Rugg is a very dedicated Leftist.

It's interesting to note how the young face differs from the older face -- smoother.

Yes: Several people have remarked that Ryan has had the Rugg pulled from under her


NT Police and attorney-general to argue Zachary Rolfe should be forced to front Kumanjayi Walker inquest, with protective certificate

Rolfe was found not guilty by a jury but that is not enough where Aborigines are concerned. He should never heve have been charged for his dealings with an aggressive black thug

Lawyers for the Northern Territory attorney-general and police force will urge the NT Court of Appeal to force Constable Zachary Rolfe to front the inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker, with a certificate protecting him against self-incrimination.

A jury last year found him not guilty of murder, manslaughter and engaging in a violent act causing death, after a five-week Supreme Court trial.

Northern Territory Coroner Elisabeth Armitage is presiding over a lengthy coronial inquest into the shooting, which heard three months of evidence in Alice Springs last year, and is scheduled to resume next month.

Constable Rolfe was called briefly to the stand in November last year, but refused to answer a series of questions about fourteen topics, including his text messages and the events of the night of the shooting.

The officer claimed penalty privilege, arguing police could not be forced to answer questions which could result in an internal "penalty", or disciplinary action, being taken against them at work.

Judge Armitage had earlier ruled police could be compelled to take the stand and be given an immunity certificate, that protects inquest witnesses from incriminating themselves with their evidence.

But Constable Rolfe and his lawyers appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court, where Justice Judith Kelly ultimately ruled his argument was "untenable".

Justice Kelly found penalty privilege did not exist in the context of a coronial inquest, not only ruling that Constable Rolfe could be forced to answer questions, but he was not entitled to a protective certificate at all.

The officer has since launched an appeal, claiming Justice Kelly "erred" in her judgement, and that the coroner "cannot direct or compel the appellant" to answer questions where answers "would tend to expose the appellant to a penalty".


Urgent call from CEDA to tackle different jobs for different genders

Why on earth does this matter? As long as there are no formal barriers, both men and women should be free to take any job for which they are qualified. Are men and women not allowed to be different?

Implementing more family-friendly policies should be among the initiatives taken to address worsening gender segregation in key industries including construction, technology, health and education, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia has found.

In a submission to the federal government’s Employment White Paper, CEDA says occupational gender segregation – where a job is done by either mostly male or female workers – remains at a high level in Australia, despite the growing proportion of women in the workforce.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 12 per cent of construction workers in 2018 were women compared to 14 per cent in 1998. The proportion of female workers in health care and social assistance was 79 per cent in 2018, up from 77 per cent in 1998.

CEDA chief executive Melinda Cilento said there remained a low proportion of women in traditionally male-dominated industries such as construction, mining, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and manufacturing.

“Conversely, there is a low share of men in female-dominated industries, such as health care and education, and some of these occupations have become even more segregated over time,” she said. Even in female-dominated industries, men still disproportionately held more leadership positions.

“While many social, historical and economic factors have driven this segregation, many of the remaining barriers to change are cultural – whether at the government, workplace or individual level,” Ms Cilento said. “We must tackle these entrenched cultural barriers wherever they exist.”

According to CEDA, a significant cultural barrier is access to flexible work. Rigid workplace structures and cultures that insist on fixed hours, locations and modes of attendance further entrench occupational segregation.

Since the Covid pandemic, flexible work arrangements have overtaken compensation as the highest priority for jobseekers.

CEDA says Australia has had one of the least generous and most unequal paid parental leave schemes in the OECD, with 99.5 per cent of parental leave taken by mothers.

The federal government expanded the scheme from 18 to 26 weeks in the October 2022 budget, starting in July. Changes include greater flexibility around the timing of leave taken by both parents.

Men are still 1.8 times more likely than women to be working in a STEM field five years after completing their qualification. The proportion of women studying and working in STEM has barely changed since 2015.

According to CEDA, the skilled migration system also adds to the problem, as female migrants are more likely to be secondary applicants to their partner’s visa, and to work in lower-paid occupations.

“We must break down entrenched barriers in the jobs market,” Ms Cilento said.


Carbon taxes are useless without a technological breakthrough

Raising the cost of using a particular fuel will shift consumption to another fuel, but only if all other things are equal. Unfortunately for climate change hysterics, when it comes to CO2 emissions, all other things aren’t equal.

This is a relevant issue now Australia effectively has a CO2 tax.

Under Australia’s ‘Safeguard Mechanism’, an invention of the previous Coalition government now being ‘refined’ by Labor, Australia’s 215 largest CO2 emitting facilities will face a virtual carbon tax.

They’ve been told they need to reduce their emissions on average by 4.9 per cent a year, and if they can’t manage this, they may buy carbon credits, but only if the credits cost less than an inflation-adjusted $75 a tonne.

This is effectively a tax that cuts in at the average mandated level of emissions per type of facility, and which is determined by the number of facilities that can’t meet those benchmarks and the amount of emissions they emit.

The more emissions, the higher the price, until $75 a tonne. And if the demand exceeds the supply? Well, perhaps some of those polluters will wish their industry organisations hadn’t lobbied for a price cap. They may already even be thinking that, looking at the mess a cap is making of the gas market. Those that can stay in business at those tax levels, that is.

To make this hang together in some way that keeps the Greens happy, the government needed to prove the carbon offsets market was effective. Carbon markets are susceptible to fraud, with double-dipping, poor governance, and imprecise science.

The answer to these problems, raised in an ANU critique about the Australian carbon credit market, was to appoint former Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb to do a review. Chubb gave the scheme the all-clear, subject to 16 recommendations.

Inquiries are only as good as their terms of reference and their personnel. At no stage was Chubb asked what the total carbon credit capacity of Australia is, which would determine the depth of the market and the price that should be charged. If he had, he may have discovered that Australia absorbs more than twice as much CO2 as it emits.

So, on a national basis, the cost of carbon credits ought to be zero – we are already NetZero, with surplus credits to sell to the world.

But this wouldn’t suit the narrative which is to see emissions management as a result purely of fuel-type, rather than also a function of volume. The size of the continent, which contributes to Australia’s high per capita emissions, is also the solution to them, as long as we don’t grow the population too much.

There is also another side to the use of carbon credits which points to the absurdity of carbon taxes. The fact that they need to be available at all, means the government tacitly acknowledges there are no substitutes for fossil fuels for particular uses.

Which is the whole weakness in the idea of carbon taxes. While superficially ‘efficient’ they cannot meet their aim of fuel substitution because the suitable fuels do not exist, or if they do, are banned from consideration by this government.

There are a number of results from this. One is that rather than substituting one fuel type for another they end up substituting one highly-taxed location for a lower-taxed one.

Much of Australia’s emissions under the various regimes in place under previous and current governments have merely been exported to China, South-East Asia more generally, and more recently South Asia, rather than reduced. Ditto for most of the rest of the hyperventilating carbonphobic world, like the EU and the balance of the Anglosphere.

Because only the 215 largest installations will have to adapt, this also represents a boost for smaller businesses. The 216th largest installation will be laughing all the way to the bank, at least in comparison to the 215th (which raises another issue, what happens if one of the 215 goes out of business?).

That’s why since 1990, when the IPCC at the Second World Conference called for a treaty on climate change, global emissions have risen over 53 per cent despite the expenditure of trillions trying to stop them rising.

There are no substitutes and carbon taxes are therefore, in effect, a subsidy to manufacturing in China and the developing world, not a mitigation strategy at all.

Carbon taxes do cause some substitution, such as from coal to gas. This has happened in a perverse way in Australia. As renewables continue to penetrate the power generation mix, there is an increased need for on-demand rapid deployment sources of power, like Open Cycle Gas Generators. In a state like South Australia they make up around 30 per cent of electricity supply.

Unfortunately for Australia the carbonphobics hate natural gas too and have made it difficult to prospect for new fields and bring them online, making gas more expensive than coal, unlike the US where it is generally cheaper. This results in a further ‘tax’ on consumers as gas, being the marginal producer, sets the price for the whole of the electricity network.

Yet even this substitution is to be banned as the governments of Australia declare that gas cannot be part of any ‘capacity mechanism’ (even though gas makes up a substantial part of AEMO’s Infrastructure Plan in 2050, the year we plan to be Net Zero).

Which is where the lack of substitutes will really cut in. Metal refineries need to operate 24/7 – you can’t ever let the metal cool in the pots. And some of them consume vast quantities of electricity. For example, Rio’s three smelters in Queensland consume about 17 per cent of state power generation, the Tomago smelter in NSW around 12 per cent.

The technologies don’t currently exist at all, or where they might exist, in the quantities required, to make these large installations viable using renewables (despite what management says). The tax squeeze is going to send them to the wall, but the world will still need their output, so it will come from somewhere else.

Bear in mind that the businesses we are talking about include power generators, steel and cement manufacturers, fertiliser and plastics manufacturers, oil refineries, and rail operators. The bulk of emissions from some of these has little to do with fuel supply, but is a by-product of their manufacturing process. For example, the coking coal used in steel manufacture cannot be replaced at the moment.

It turns out that carbon taxes are very efficient taxes, but only when it comes to putting industries out of business.

The tax wouldn’t be so dire if all existing technologies were on the table, but alongside gas, nuclear power has been ruled out by this government. Nuclear is the only viable 24/7 non-emitting source of electricity. If it were available the smelters might be safe even if the plastics, fertiliser, steel, and cement manufacturers still faced existential problems.

Bjorn Lomborg has long argued that we need to invest in researching and developing alternative technologies, rather than taxing existing technologies. To date, Australia has more or less avoided this trap, but under enthusiastic Labor, no longer. Their virtual carbon tax guarantees Australia will have an impoverishing collision with the physical limits of reality. And all for no return in global emissions.




Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Violent reality of Alice Springs revealed in shocking new videos

When dreamy Leftist laws make prosecution impossible, this is what you get

Warning: Graphic. Confronting video posted by an Alice Springs resident shows a town under siege by out of control youths.
Shocking footage of everyday street violence in Alice Springs has emerged revealing a town under siege by out-of-control youths and a police force that is all but powerless to stop them.

The confronting videos, posted by an Alice Springs resident who wished only to be known by the name Rachel, were revealed after a harrowing interview with Ben Fordham on 2GB Tuesday morning.

A former nurse and single mother, Rachel said she had to film “because no one was capturing what was happening,” adding that the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had only provided an “easy answer” with last week’s announcement of temporary grog bans.

“It was back to back, all night long,” she said of the videos which she took from the upper story of a hotel in Alice Springs and posted Saturday night.

Rachel also said that many nights the violence is worse, adding that Alice Springs residents were regularly suffering home invasions at the hands of youths armed with machetes and businesses were unable to trade because customers were being bashed.

“There were hundreds of kids outside,” said Rachel, who said she feared for her life when the hotel was under siege.

“The hatred for anyone other than in their pack was so disturbing … all you hear is you’re a white this, you white bitch, that’s all you hear day in and day out.”

In the series of videos, Aboriginal youths can be seen brawling with makeshift weapons, taunting pub-goers, attacking hotel security and fighting with anyone who crossed their path.

In one video, the youths can be seen attacking a man who confronted them after they allegedly tried to steal items from his ute while he was in it.

In others, police appear to drive by but do not intervene in the situation.

Speaking to 2GB, Rachel was also highly critical of government responses to the deteriorating situation in Alice Springs.

“They just banned alcohol for a few days and moved on to the next thing … it was an easy answer for (the PM),” she said.

“These kids are being raped at home and the domestic violence is horrific.”

While Rachel said she was sympathetic to the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, it did not excuse their behaviour. “When someone is waving a machete in your face I don’t care about your past trauma,” she said.

“You cannot unsee the things we have seen.”


Need for projects to plug looming gas supply shortage to test Australia’s climate goals

Urgent investment is needed in new gas fields to avoid looming shortages in NSW and Victoria, setting up a clash with the Albanese government’s new climate targets.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) latest report on the east coast gas market, released on Friday, said current sources of domestic supply were running out and shortages would hit by at least 2027 and potentially sooner unless new gas fields were opened up.

The Bass Strait gas field has traditionally supplied up to half the demand on the east coast, but its reserves are rapidly depleting and uncertainty over production will continue to put pressure on gas prices, despite the federal government’s intervention to cap wholesale prices this year.

The federal government could redirect exports into the local market under the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism, known as the gas trigger, but that would mean disrupting crucial energy supplies to major trade and defence partners in Japan, China, Singapore and Korea.

The commission urged federal and state governments to cut the red tape gas companies face in getting big projects up and running.

“Forecast production is insufficient to meet forecast demand in the east coast from 2027,” the ACCC report said.

“Although the need for investment in new sources of supply and associated infrastructure is clear, only a limited number of relatively small domestic supply projects that could come online between 2023 and 2027 have been approved for development.”

However, approvals for more gas fields could stumble at hurdles raised when Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen introduces binding pollution caps for the nation’s 215 biggest industrial polluters from July 1 under the safeguard mechanism.

The mandatory pollution caps will be a major driver to hitting Labor’s legally binding target to cut emissions by 2030.

When asked if there would be room under the 2030 climate target for new gas fields, acting federal Resources Minister Catherine King said the safeguard mechanism would guide companies through the voluntary emissions reduction commitments they had already made.

“Reforms to the safeguard mechanism provide well-overdue certainty, and is in line with the over 70 per cent of safeguard facilities that already have corporate commitments to net zero by 2050,” she said.

Opposition resources spokeswoman Susan McDonald said the federal government’s reform agenda was being rushed and had reduced industry confidence in new projects.

“Labor is implementing policies that sound good but don’t work. Legislation has been rushed and
rammed through with virtually no consultation.”

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb warned that gas would be needed for some time to back up supply in the grid. “There will continue to be calls upon gas power generation for the purposes of firmed supply at times when renewables are not able to generate and stored power is not available and in addition, there are some commercial industrial users for whom their manufacturing and production processes are dependent upon gas.”

New gas projects are typically large enough to trigger the government’s incoming pollution caps, which have a threshold of 100,000 tonnes of annual carbon emissions.

Any new project would likely be forced to fit within the existing emissions budget that applies to the nation’s gas industry and comply with new regulations including meeting world’s “best practice” emissions efficiency standards.

Santos says it wants its Narrabri gas field in northern NSW to start production in 2025, supplying up to half the state’s demand. But the company is facing yet another legal challenge, with traditional owners last week appealing to the Federal Court.

Cooper Energy said this week it had to review plans for an offshore gas project in Victoria’s Otway Basin, which was set to supply utilities giant AGL with up to 10 petajoules of gas a year from 2025.

Cass-Gottlieb said it was possible that shortfalls of around 12 per cent of annual demand could hit the east coast this year unless the Queensland exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) honoured their promise, under the heads of agreement struck last year with the federal government, to ensure the east coast market was fully supplied.

The ACCC last week threatened the exporters with $50 million fines if they failed to deliver. One company, Shell, has offered 8 petajoules to the market but so far no deals have been announced.

LNG exporters processing facilities are among the biggest emitters captured by the safeguard mechanism and they will be needed to develop new supply, with the ACCC reporting that they control more than 90 per cent of the east coast’s peak gas reserves.

LNG producers halted new offers for wholesale gas supply in December, when the federal government imposed $12 a gigajoule price cap on wholesale contracts, in a bid to halt runaway prices amid an international energy crisis.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) claims the price caps create uncertainty for producers and deter investment in new gas projects and on Friday said

“The ACCC has underscored the importance of gas for Australia’s energy transition and the need to reduce the barriers faced by gas producers in bringing new gas supply to market,” APPEA chief executive Samantha McCulloch said.


Court win for Christian foster care applicants is a victory for common sense and a fair go

In 2017, West Australian couple Byron and Keira Hordyk were rejected as ‘unsafe’ by fostering agency, Wanslea Family Services, to provide foster care to vulnerable infants and toddlers in the child protection system. Their application was rejected because of their traditional Christian views on marriage and sex.

Five years later, the Hordyks have won their legal case against Wanslea and been awarded damages. The WA State Administrative Tribunal found that Wanslea had treated the Hordyks unfairly on the basis of their religious beliefs.

This decision is good for all Australians. The Hordyk decision is a victory for common sense and provides an antidote to the polarised public discourse in Australian culture.

While the Hordyks are deservedly vindicated by this decision, the real losers in this case are vulnerable children who were robbed of the opportunity to be placed in a loving, caring, and stable home.

This landmark case demonstrates how societal hostility to religion – and especially Christianity – is increasing and is a threat to common sense pluralism. Christians who established, grew, and then gave to Western cultures their key social institutions such as hospitals, universities, aged care facilities, and foster care agencies are now facing increasing exclusion from those very institutions.

In its decision, the Tribunal firmly rebuffed Wanslea’s assertions that their rejection of the Hordyks had nothing to do with their religious beliefs.

The evidence showed that Wanslea takes a flexible approach to approving carers who are smokers and can’t foster babies, carers with disabilities, or unique home circumstances that made them unsuitable for certain types of children. However, when Wanslea was faced with conservative Christians, it changed the rules.

The Hordyks hold to the views of their Church on sex and morality.

Wanslea considered the Hordyks’ views unacceptable and rejected their fostering application – not because they were unsuitable to provide a temporary home for vulnerable toddlers, but because they held unacceptable religious views now out of step with the prevailing Australian cultural norms. This is increasingly common with many Australian institutions.

The Tribunal found that key Wanslea evidence on this point was ‘avoidant, defensive and crafted to cast events in the most favourable light for Wansela’. There was religious discrimination which they attempted to cover up as ‘business as usual’.

The Hordyks are not alone in falling afoul of such ideological purity tests. In 2022, Andrew Thorburn at the Essendon AFL club was forced to resign because he held the wrong views. In 2021, the Australian Christian Lobby had venue bookings cancelled by the WA government because their Christian beliefs were inconsistent with ‘diversity, equality, and inclusion’. In 2020, the WA government refused to give Pastor Margaret Court’s Perth charity the funding needed for a freezer truck to distribute food to the needy because of her publicly stated views on marriage.

This increasing animosity to religion can be attributed to a variety of potential factors: the increasing secularisation of Australian society generally, the simplistic and sensational reporting of religious issues in the media, the ascendancy and triumph of LGBTQ+ advocacy in Australian culture, the hard fusion in popular discourse of Christianity with the evils of colonialism or the fragmentation and polarisation of cultural dialogue in a social media age.

Whatever the causes, these cultural trends should be of concern to all Australians. While Christians are the target today, there is no reason why this cultural trajectory will not progress to declare other social and political convictions as anathema and beyond the pale, both religious and irreligious.

The recent Essendon public apology to Andrew Thorburn and the Hordyk decision are a welcome dose of balance and common sense in an otherwise febrile cultural environment.

The tenacity of the Hordyks in seeking vindication through a gruelling 5-year process demonstrates that there is value in pushing matters to Courts past the loud cultural voices that have captured many of Australia’s institutions and which have declared Christianity anathema and unsafe.

These voices seek to impose a narrow secular vision of Australia rather than a pluralistic multicultural vision of Australia.

For Australia to flourish, it requires the participation of a variety of people with diverse and conflicting religious beliefs, political convictions, and personal opinions. The friction lines between competing views will often be difficult to adjudicate, but the Courts have shown that, regardless of the prevailing ideological fashions of the day, religious and even heteronormative Christian Australians must be given a fair go.


The truth about Australia’s education system: bullying, indoctrination, and intimidation

Recently, I interviewed an 18-year-old New South Wales University student named Tallesha. My goal was to get a first-hand glimpse of what is really going on in the education system.

It was incredibly insightful to speak with Tallesha. While high school is still vivid in her mind, she is now undertaking the transition into the university lifestyle. She recently completed a bridging course consisting of sociology, business, media, and writing; and will now study political science. She has the ambition of becoming a political journalist.

Drawing on her experiences, Tallesha summed up her thoughts by saying, ‘I believe a lot of the political issues we’re facing at the moment stem from the information and behaviours being taught in schools and universities.’

She went on to say, ‘What is currently being assumed about the education system is definitely not an overreaction, a large extent of genuine indoctrination is happening and it’s definitely getting worse.’

Expanding on those comments, Tallesha drew on her own specific experiences. ‘It’s very hard to openly disagree with the lecturers because your marks could suffer,’ she explained. ‘In my bridging course I did sociology and that was obviously very far left. So, in assignments, that would be based on Marxist theory. You had to accept their way as truth. If you debated that, you wouldn’t get the marks, because you would be seen as incorrect.’

She backed up her comments by providing an example.

‘A question on one of my tests was, “Is gender fixed?” And the correct answer was “false”, because it is supposed to be fluid. If you disagreed with that, you would lose that mark.’

Identifying as a Christian conservative, Tallesha obviously had an issue with this answer, but she can see no way of bypassing having to go along with the Marxist ideology that oppose her own beliefs. She appears to be in the tiny minority, however, as according to Tallesha, 95 per cent of her fellow students lean openly left.

This prompted me to ask Tallesha if she feels comfortable expressing her views in her classes. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘You pretty much can’t.’

From the moment her lecturers enter, there is clear ideology expressed. She told me that without fail, every lecturer introduces themselves with their pronouns. Is it little surprise that the students also follow suit, as Tallesha told me, ‘I had my graduation recently, and any speaker that got up, all announced their pronouns.’

With such a dominant lean towards leftist ideology, I asked Tallesha if any of her fellow students ever acknowledge that things should be more balanced. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘A lot of them don’t think they lean that far left. They think, “This is mainstream. Every young person should share our views. If you don’t then there’s something wrong with you.”’

Tallesha was then able to provide more context of how the peer pressure is applied.

‘In sociology, the way the other side was depicted is uneducated and misinformed. So, they make it seem like if you are part of the other side, it would be embarrassing,’ Tallesha recounted. ‘It was almost like bullying. My lecturer would always make jokes about conservative views, constantly.’

With the peer pressure in place, then comes the indoctrination.

Of the subjects she studied in her bridging course, Tallesha found business to be the most centrist, but her writing course contained clear left bias. ‘It was a uni prep course, so it teaches you all the skills you need to succeed in uni,’ she explained. ‘But each skill was taught in a context, and all the context they were taught in were some sort of left subject. Climate change was used. The freedom movement, the anti-vaccine moment was used.’

I find it hard to understand how anyone can paint ‘freedom’ in a negative light, but Tallesha was quick to inform me that ‘white supremacy’ is linked to the freedom movement. ‘They make lots of links that just don’t make sense,’ she said.

This prompted me to ask if any figures of the right are ridiculed. ‘Trump was definitely brought up a few times,’ she replied. ‘Even the Liberal Party, even though they’re not very conservative, the Liberal Party is attacked as well.’

I then asked if there is any politician that her lecturers adore. Her response was interesting. ‘No, I don’t think there are any specific ones.’

It seems if you attack your enemies constantly, then there is no need to defend your side.

My final question to Tallesha was, ‘What needs to happen to reform the education system?’

‘Honestly, I don’t really know. It’s pretty much that far gone. Because everyone in it and within it, is all left. Maybe ten years ago it could be saved, but now it’s all left. It’s too far infiltrated. You can’t get conservatives in there. If you aren’t left and you’re a lecturer, you’re not going to get a job. And if you are a conservative student, you’re very likely to be kicked out if you say the wrong thing.’

‘It’s almost bullying.’ Tallesha added, speaking of the peer pressure that is placed upon students. ‘All of them are so eager to fit in. The conservative side is being portrayed as embarrassing to be a part of and you’ll be made fun of if you’re part of that side. So, everyone is swaying away from that. It sways anyone that is not sure on their political views to the left pretty quickly, because they want to fit in.’

Interviewing Tallesha did not fill me with much hope. After all, this is our youth. This is our future. If Tallesha is correct and 95 per cent of students are left-leaning, then the other side of politics is faced with a big problem.




Monday, January 30, 2023

Could hiring more neurodivergent people help fix Australia's skills shortage?

This article is a stepchange. We neurodivergent people are usually reminded of our problems. To be reminded of our strengths is most unusual. But it is true that we often have eerie abiities. My ability is one of the strangest: An ability to write publishable academic journal articles very rapidly.

That promptly got me a university teaching job but did not do me much other good at the time. But stuff I wrote as far back as 1970 and 1971 is still being referred to by other academics so that could be regarded as worthwhile. At any road, the point made below, that we often have useful talents, is well made. Our divergences can be worth putting up with.

I probably should add the point that we are not all total social misfits. I have had some ups and downs but I have overall had a great time with the ladies over the years -- including 4 marriages. Now in my 80th year, I still have 4 ladies in my life. And I am still in touch with my first girlfriend of 60 years ago. It is divergent but in a good way

Jacinta Reynolds was told she was autistic as a young teenager.

"When I was first diagnosed, it was made very clear to me by the person who diagnosed me that I was a burden on society and that it would be better if my family just hid me away," she told ABC News.

But Ms Reynolds went on to complete high school and graduate with an astrophysics degree.

"Then the real problem was, OK, now I have a piece of paper, a very expensive piece of paper, what am I going to do with this?"

Ms Reynolds now works with Idoba, a mining technology services firm in Perth, not as an astrophysicist, but as a marketing officer.

"I do love telling stories, I love getting into the details and creating a sense of wonder and excitement."

She said her autism gives her unique storytelling skills.

"Being able to pick patterns in the way people are writing and telling stories at the time, what's in fashion, what's not in fashion anymore, what's coming into fashion, because it fluctuates and changes, what people want to talk about and how people want to talk about it, what words are just super popular at the moment and what words people don't really think about and so that all fits nicely into it with a scientific background."

A quarter of her colleagues at the company are neurodivergent.

"We run a very inclusive environment," explained Idoba's chief technology officer Matt Schneider.

"One of the things that we've realised on our journey is that if we're focused around traditional thinking, you get traditional results.

"We're very much focused around what and how do you do that differently, how do you think differently?

"In order to do that, we actually have been very active in the market to create a neurodivergent workforce and about 25 per cent [of us] are neurodivergent, be that autistic, ADHD, dyslexia."

Mr Schneider is also neurodivergent and recalled a time when the workplace was making him uncomfortable.

"We used to have a building that had brickwork and that used to drive me nuts in the meeting and I just couldn't cope," he recalled.

"I said to the neurotypical people in the room, 'I can't be in this meeting' and they said, 'but it's really nice', and I said, 'it is for you, not for me'."

Mr Schneider said being aware of how workspaces can impact neurodivergent people and making small changes can ensure businesses are more welcoming.

"It's that awareness and understanding, and certainly being able to advocate for what makes safe environments is really important," he explained.

"We've put a huge amount of energy and effort into engineering this business to be inclusive for everybody. That's really important, if you don't set up the work environment to support a workforce that's divergent, you won't be able to make it happen."

People with autism under represented in the workforce
The most recent data on neurodivergent people in the workforce was collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2018.

It showed the unemployment rate for people with autism at the time was 34.1 per cent, more than three times the overall rate for people with a disability which was 10.3 per cent.

Participation in the labour force in 2018, that is people with a job or actively looking for work, among people with autism was 38 per cent, compared to 53.4 per cent for all people with a disability and 84.1 per cent for those without a disability.

While those numbers have likely changed in the years since the data was collected, at a time when Australia has a historically low unemployment rate and nationwide skills shortage, advocates say businesses could benefit from hiring neurodivergent workers.

"Many neurodivergent people have amazing skill sets in the maths and sciences field," explained Alex Jenkins, director of the WA Data Science Innovation Hub in Perth.

"They're capable of really deep concentration and really focusing on original ideas, and it's an incredible opportunity for these people to come and solve real-world business problems."

Mr Jenkins works with businesses to help them understand the changes to recruitment processes, office spaces or workflows to make workplaces more accessible.

He said expanding a workforce makes good business sense.

"To be able to employ neurodivergent people is a chance to be more competitive and to get ahead of the game."

His peer, Professor Tele Tan, director at the Autism Academy for Software Quality Assurance, agrees.

"Most often, neurodiverse individuals have brilliant minds for memory, pattern recognition and mathematics, which is perfectly suited for data engineering, modelling and data analysis," he said.

"It is an untapped potential and untapped talent pool," Mr Jenkins added.

"You just need to understand that perhaps there might be different interview processes, different selection processes, and some minor accommodations that need to be made in the workplace to get the best out of these amazingly talented people."

An 'untapped resource'

Federal government agency Services Australia hopes to hire 70 neurodivergent staff next year.

In 2020, it launched a program aimed at recruiting autistic people and, so far, 38 people have started work with the agency through its Aurora Program.

"The program is unique in that it looks at engaging neurodiverse job seekers into specialist roles within the agency," said Services Australia's director of inclusion and diversity, Clayton Trevilyan.

"We look at moving candidates into a variety of roles, not just the traditional ICT [Information, Communications and Technology] roles, but other roles such as program management, data analyst positions and project managers."

Candidates are not assessed on how well they do in front of an interview panel, but in on-the-job and skills assessments over four weeks.

Hael Smith, who lives with autism and ADHD, recently started her job with the agency in fraud detection. "I get to be a detective from a desk, which is, honestly, as cool as it sounds."

Ms Smith explained her autism and ADHD make her great for the job. "Things like spotting patterns, that's been one of the really useful skills [I have]," she said.

"It's not something as far as I know, that people can do very easily, but it's looking at some information or some data and going there's something not quite right about that."

She added that her high level of integrity is also an asset.

"A lot of people that I know who are on the spectrum tend to, we don't really do lying, or fabricating up stories and stuff; it's almost like, we don't see the point. Having that integrity is really helpful," she said.

"I've got a really fast brain. Usually, my brain gets me in trouble, because it's faster than I can actually get words out.

"But that actually really comes in handy in investigations, because I can go 'Oh, yeah, that connects to that, alright, cool,' and I've got an instant decision to follow this particular piece of information or find this piece of information."

After years of short stints in hospitality and retail jobs that did not fulfil her, Ms Smith recently told her new bosses she is never quitting, and they will have to "drag her out by her feet" if they ever want her to leave.

"We are literally an untapped resource, but because of the way the recruitment process is set up we will very much struggle with getting employment because it is so much about that social, about how you present yourself, when it should be, as it should be everywhere, about the work you can do and what value you can actually bring to the job," she said.

"Employing people with autism isn't an arduous thing to do, in fact, it's the right thing to do," added Mr Trevilyan, who has a son with autism.

"We want to represent the community that we serve, and it's important to provide people with those long-term meaningful job prospects and for them to be able to have the dignity of employment just like everybody else."


Leftist racism again: Producers of a play about black women and Kylie Jenner banned white critics from reviewing it

An ugly row has erupted in theatre circles after producers of a 'woke' new play tried to ban white critics from reviewing it.

The Australian producers of the internationally acclaimed Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner demanded that all reviewers be 'people of colour', but The Age newspaper's arts editor refused to comply before lashing out in a fiery column.

Elizabeth Flux accused Amylia Harris and Leila Enright of 'tokenism' arguing that being forced to select a person of colour for the task was 'offensive' and 'undermines' the health of the critical landscape.

The play Written by British playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones, is about two young black women reacting to the claim that the Keeping up with the Kardashians reality star is the world's 'youngest self-made billionaire'.

Ms Flux's column was also accompanied by a controversial satirical cartoon depicting the stage show's two lead actors, Iolanthe and Chika Ikogwe.

Theatre community group Stage a Change called the caricature of the two black actors 'abhorrent' and 'absolutely disgusting' in a Facebook post on Sunday. 'Frankly speaking, this article is dipped in, spackled with, and power washed down with so much fragility,' it said. 'Fragility that has missed the point and self-aggrandized so epically.'

On social media another person described the image as a 'racist caricature' and called on Ms Flux to resign for allowing it. 'She chose not to caricature the white producers. Instead, she caricatured the black actors who are just doing their job and had nothing to do with this. Resign.'

Ms Flux's article explained to its readers why the publication carried no review of Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner.

'It's not because we didn't want to cover it – it's because the producers refused to 'accommodate' any reviewers who weren't people of colour (PoC).'

Ms Flux wrote that she agreed with a goal to increase diversity among critics, but that the show's request was 'a misguided move'. '[It] promotes tokenism, undermines the health of the critical landscape, and does a disservice to critics, creatives and audiences alike.'

But her column went further to explain its decision. 'To actively seek someone out to review this production based on them being a PoC would have been offensive,' Ms Flux wrote.

She also added that it was 'ridiculous and potentially dangerous' that critics would have to disclose their race to do a job.

Ms Flux, who described herself as 'a Hong-Kong-born Eurasian who was raised in Australia', also pointed out neither of the two producers behind the decision was a person of colour.


Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and John Anderson unite to co-ordinate 'No' vote in Voice to Parliament referendum

A group of high-profile Indigenous Australians has banded together with a former deputy prime minister to co-ordinate the No campaign in this year's Voice referendum, running on the slogan "Recognise a Better Way".

It comes as Opposition Leader Peter Dutton accepts an invitation to attend this week's Referendum Working Group meeting for a briefing on the proposal to enshrine an Indigenous Voice in the constitution.

Mr Dutton — who will attend via video-link from Sydney where he will be attending Cardinal George Pell's funeral — has been demanding more detail from the Albanese government on the Voice before the Liberal Party settles on a formal position.

While Mr Dutton is torn between members of his party who want to back the Voice and those who are vehemently opposed, the grassroots campaigns are starting to take shape.

The Yes group, led by "Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition", will formally launch its campaign with a "week of action" in late February.

Calling itself the "No Case Committee", the first formal No group has emerged with members including firebrand Northern Territory senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, former ALP president turned Liberal candidate Warren Mundine, former federal Labor MP Gary Johns and former deputy prime minister John Anderson.

The six-member committee will broadly support constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians while opposing the Voice, arguing it is divisive and will do nothing to improve the lives of First Nations people.

In a sign the group could be eyeing migrant communities, Mr Mundine said he believed constitutional recognition should be broadened to include "the migrants and refugees" who had "contributed to this country".

This is despite the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA) firmly backing a "First Nations Voice" in the constitution.

When that position was put to him, Mr Mundine said: "I think all Australians should be recognised for their contribution to this country."

Mr Anderson, who chaired a Recognition review panel in 2014, said the No Case Committee would be "mounting the case for No, from an Aboriginal perspective" and he did not expect any "formal linkage" with right-wing groups such as Advance Australia which were also campaigning against the Voice.

"We are supporting four significant Aboriginal figures who do not believe this is right," he said, referring to Senator Price, Mr Mundine, Bob Liddle and Ian Conway.

Mr Anderson said he had "reluctantly" formed the same view and was becoming increasingly concerned by attempts to "shame people who dare to ask questions". "I genuinely believe these ill-defined proposals are not a good idea," he said. "I believe they'll tend towards division and resentment."

The federal government has confirmed no public funding will be provided to either side of the campaign ahead of the referendum, which is set to be held in the second half of this year.


War of words erupts between Opus Dei schools and the ABC

Old-fashioned Biblical ideas -- like no sex before marriage -- are taught there. How disgraceful! No wonder the Leftist ABC is up in arms!

NSW’s powerful education authority is investigating Sydney schools linked to Opus Dei amid a war of words between the ultra-conservative Catholic group and the public broadcaster.

The ABC’s Four Corners is planning to air a program on Monday night titled Purity: An Education in Opus Dei, alleging “disturbing practices” by the controversial organisation in several schools and exploring its influence in the NSW Liberal Party.

Premier Dominic Perrottet attended Redfield College, one of the schools featured in the ABC expose, while Finance Minister Damien Tudehope also has links to the schools. Labor’s upper house MLC Greg Donnelly is described as an “Old Dad of Redfield”.

Redfield, Tangara School for Girls, Wollemi College and Montgrove College are operated by the Parents for Education Foundation (Pared). The schools are independent and not part of the Catholic diocese.

In a letter sent to parents this week co-signed by the principals of the four schools, the Pared Foundation claimed Monday’s episode “seems to be an attack on the Catholic faith” and an “attempt at damaging the political career” of Perrottet ahead of the March 25 state election.

That claim has been rejected by the ABC, which said the episode by reporter Louise Milligan “investigates serious allegations that are clearly in the public’s interest to be informed about, including opposing consent education, encouraging students to make decisions contrary to medical advice, harm to students as a result of their education, homophobia and recruitment of students under the guise of pastoral care”.

“There is nothing in the program that is an attack on the Catholic faith,” a spokesperson said.

“It is purely about Opus Dei and its affiliated educational institutions. The timing of the story is not connected to the NSW election and in fact it is being broadcast as far out from the election as it could be.”

The premier’s office declined to comment.

In the episode, Milligan - who has a long history covering the Catholic Church including issues surrounding Cardinal George Pell - reveals “in some cases the schools are not following state curriculum and are accused of persistent attempts to recruit teenagers to Opus Dei and have taught misinformation about sexual health, including discouraging girls from getting the human papillomavirus cervical cancer vaccine”.

A spokesperson for the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) told the Herald the agency was investigating the schools after allegations made by the ABC.

Pared confirmed NESA had contacted the group “to clarify how we address” concerns about the health and personal development curriculum.

The letter sent to parents from the principals lists multiple questions they claim were put to the schools by the ABC. It said the foundation would never discourage students from following medical advice but acknowledged it had changed how it addressed some issues, including the HPV vaccine.

“Prior to 2020, when the HPV vaccine was relatively new, and in response to many queries from concerned parents, Tangara issued some letters to parents with some reference material on the HPV vaccination program. Letters such as these were not sent after that period,” the letter said.

Redfield’s headmaster Matthew Aldous told the Herald: “Whenever specific concerns are brought to our attention they are dealt with immediately and professionally. It’s ludicrous to suggest that anything short of that would be done in this day and age.”

Opus Dei, a highly conservative and private Catholic prelature, was founded in the 1920s and given approval within the Catholic Church in 1950. Tangara and Redfield were founded by Pared in 1982 and each have school chaplains that are Opus Dei priests.

Dallas McInerney, the chief executive officer of Catholic Schools NSW, said the four schools investigated by the ABC are “good local schools”.

“Any targeted media attention by the ABC risks collateral damage for the children who are current students and who are returning to school. They shouldn’t be caught up in a wider agenda by the ABC,” McInerney, a senior Liberal in the party’s right-wing faction, said.

“They are not insular schools. These are good schools, doing good work on behalf of their students and families.”




Sunday, January 29, 2023

Who killed Australia Day?

Terry Barnes, below, claims that "Australians" killed Australia day. That is mindlessly inclusive. It was only a small Leftist minority that did it. Australia day became the latest victim of the never-ending Leftist search for things to hate. We should not bow down to them.

Most Australians this year did not. There were maybe some thousands who "protested" but millions just had family BBQs and the like.

I celebrated by replacing the Gadsden flag I usually have up outside my house with the Australian flag. And I took my girlfriend out for lunch, after which we had a very nice snooze together

And respect for the day can probably be found in surprising places. During the day, one of my tenants spoke to me and said: "Long live the Empire". He was referring to the British Empire and noting that Australia Day marks the successful completion of a great Imperial project. His own heritage is Greek but he is a great student of history

But it is sad that some Australians seem to have drunk the Leftist Koo-Aid about the matter. There were once many cars on the street on the day with Austalian flags flying from them. I saw few of those this year. Let us not be bullied out of a very well-justified and enjoyable celebration by the eternal malcontents of the Left

Australia Day was once a big deal Down Under, but in recent years the annual celebration has been somewhat muted. Take the Australian Open, currently running in Melbourne. The organisers have dedicated days throughout the tournament for a range of causes: there has been a Pride day and a day celebrating indigenous art and culture. But although the semi-finals are being played today, on Australia Day itself, there will be no recognition of the country’s national day. ‘We are mindful there are differing views, and at the Australian Open we are inclusive and respectful of all,’ Tennis Australia said in a statement.

Tennis fans aren’t the only ones missing out: Victoria’s state government has quietly axed Melbourne’s Australia Day parade. ‘We recognise Australia Day represents a day of mourning and reflection for some Victorians and is a challenging time for First Peoples,’ a government spokesperson said.

The recently-elected federal Labor party government is also doing its bit to water down the festivities: civil servants and parliamentary staff are being allowed to work through Australia Day, and take a day off in lieu when it suits them.

Protest-by-working is sweeping corporate Australia. Vicki Brady, the chief executive of Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra, announced ostentatiously that she would work through the holiday’

‘I’ll be choosing to work and will take a different day of leave with my family, because that feels right for me. For many First Nations peoples, Australia Day… marks a turning point that saw lives lost, culture devalued and connections between people and places destroyed,’ she wrote on LinkedIn, stating the protest case in a nutshell.

Only three decades ago, Australia Day was a day of national unity and pride

Brady’s look-at-me declaration reflects a fault line that’s tearing through Australian society. The row over Australia Day is more than a culture war between left and right. The controversy exposes a nation which doubts itself; its angst about its past reveals a collective lack of confidence about our country’s future. We Australians are no longer the laconic, easy-going, ‘she’ll be right’ people of national mythology. Rather, we’re the world’s teenagers, questioning our identity and parentage and rebelling against the western values and heritage – including British culture, institutions and the rule of law – that for so long made Australia the envy of the world. Anti-colonial, anti-British culture warriors and grievance merchants are now setting the national agenda. But we, as an uncertain nation, are allowing them to.

Australia’s treatment of its original inhabitants after the First Fleet landed at Sydney Cove in 1788 was far from perfect. But this shouldn’t detract from celebrating the outstanding success of the country’s national story, or accepting 26 January 1788 as the day that marks the intersection of our continent’s ancient past with its future.

Aborigines, who make up just 3 per cent of Australia’s population, very much share in the country’s progress and prosperity; their culture and heritage enriches Australia. Australia Day, however, is doomed. Many Aussie millennials accept the anti-colonial, anti-western narrative as received wisdom. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the downgrading of the holiday has unfolded quickly.

Thirty-five years ago today, Australia celebrated the arrival of Britain’s First Fleet – with its motley cargo of 1,400 seamen, soldiers and convicts – with a year-long ‘celebration of a nation’, as it was officially billed. On the 200th anniversary itself, huge crowds lined the shores of Sydney Harbour under a brilliant blue sky while thousands of pleasure boats were on the water to greet a second First Fleet. This was a commercially-sponsored flotilla of sailing vessels that sailed from Portsmouth to Sydney, recreating the original journey.

Foremost among the crowd was the then Prince and Princes of Wales and Australia’s then prime minister, Labor’s Bob Hawke. Most Australians recognised that the 1988 anniversary was not universally embraced by descendants of the Aborigines who saw the tall ships come in 1788. But it did not overshadow the day, nor the year’s programme of bicentenary events that highlighted the diversity of Australians old and new and celebrated how we, as a country, were proud of who we are and the nation we had become.

Australia Day 1988 was a fabulous day, never to be forgotten – and destined never to be repeated.

Only three decades ago, Australia Day was a day of national unity and pride. It reflected a view that European settlement, blended with indigenous heritage, was overwhelmingly a good thing. Now, however, a significant and growing number of influential Australians are demanding it be moved to another date, because for some it is painful and shameful – and for many it is contentious.

A national day that divides rather than unites is pointless: it may be a vocal minority that brings it down, but unlike that wonderful Australia Day in 1988, a national day that is an official orphan in its own country is no national day at all. Better, like Britain, to not have one.


Activism as a performance, a hideous theatre of the absurd

"Protestor" Thorpe

Activists’ sound and fury signify that the world is being overrun by posturing idiots.


The idea that the world is a stage upon which we mortals act out our lives is an ancient one, popularised by Shakespeare. In the digital age, we seem to have flipped this, so that instead of attempting to solve even the world’s most complex problems, we turn them into endless pantomimes and sideshows, just for entertainment and self-­aggrandisement.

Those who claim there is an ­existential threat to life on this planet bely their own alarm by ­expressing it through confected theatre sports. Stunts and memes have replaced rational debate; slacktivism has usurped real commitment and practical efforts.

Imagine, for instance, that an inspired satirist might attempt to mock the global elite and their climate fearmongering. Could you conceive of a better spoof than sending an Al Gore impersonator to the climate-controlled luxury of the World Economic Forum’s annual talkfest in the Swiss alpine village of Davos, where billionaires and politicians turn up in private jets to lecture the world on what sacrifices others must make.

You could just see this impersonator of the multi-millionaire former US vice-president (a man with a vast carbon footprint whose alarmist predictions have stubbornly failed to materialise) portraying him getting ever angrier and more hysterical. He might have Gore equating our carbon emissions to “600,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs exploding every single day on earth” and ranting about “boiling the oceans, creating these atmospheric rivers, and the rain bombs, and sucking the moisture out of the land, and creating the droughts, and melting the ice and raising the sea level and causing these waves of climate refugees predicted to reach one billion in this century”.

Apart from having your audience falling in the aisles, this act would expose the hypocrisy and hysteria of the self-appointed ­climate elites. But I guess you know where this is going – yes, that is exactly what the real Gore did, and said, last week.

These people are beyond ­parody.

Greta Thunberg, the teenage activist who passed out of her teens earlier this month, turned up at Davos just days after being ­arrested at a coalmine protest in Germany, where she posed, smiled, and joked with the arresting officers while the media got their pictures. Theatre.

At Davos, Thunberg rattled off all the well-worn socialist cliches that might have been uttered by her parents in the 1960s or 70s: “self-greed”, “corporate greed”, “short-term profits”, and “profits before people”. Thunberg said the people at Davos were the same ones “fuelling the destruction of the planet”.

Sitting there, as she was, in the Swiss ski village, Thunberg noted that “the people who we really should be listening to are not here”. You can say that again.


Closer to home, the whole country has had the longstanding and recently escalated social and criminal traumas endemic in Alice Springs’ Indigenous communities brought to their attention. In the Alice, and in dozens of other regional towns and ­remote communities, this blight of violent crimes, substance addiction, abused women and children and wasted lives is nothing new.

It is our greatest national shame, all too often ignored, stemming from complex issues of culture, dependency, discrimination and a lack of agency. But instead of visiting these communities, or ­offering solutions to this horror, the Greens spokesperson on First Nations people, Senator Lidia Thorpe, addressed a protest in Melbourne on Australia Day. “This is a war,” Thorpe screamed, “a war that was declared on our people over 200 years ago. That war has never ever ended in this country against my people, they are still killing us.”

Some in the crowd seemed to be cheering these words as Thorpe added “they are stealing our ­babies” and “killing our men” and “raping our women”.

No facts, no conciliation, and no co-operation. Just a grotesque theatre of the absurd.

None of this can achieve anything. It is not designed for outcomes – it is purely performative.

We are such a wonderfully ­diverse and inclusive country that every year there is an increasing focus on Indigenous place names and recognition of country, and more celebration of Diwali, Eid, and the Lunar New Year. The only occasions we try to stifle seem to be Christmas (which highlights the Christian ethos that encourages tolerance) and the celebration of Australia Day (recognising a nation that fosters diversity).

One Nation Chief of Staff James Ashby says Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe does not stand for “every Aboriginal in this country”. “You can’t take… the stupidity of one woman and make out that she stands for every Aboriginal in this country,” he told Sky News host Cory Bernadi. “I believe More
That tennis tournament in Melbourne wants more Australian tax dollars, and thrives on Australian patronage as it celebrates gay pride and Indigenous culture, and it calls itself the ­Australian Open. But it rejects the very mention of Australia Day. Farcical.

Now we are seeing complaints, apparently, about the staging of the musical Miss Saigon, because actors might play roles that differ from their heritage (yes acting, remember, is pretence) and because the musical objectifies women by telling the story of sexual and romantic relationships between US soldiers and Vietnamese women. Madama Butterfly will be next, and My Fair Lady and West Side Story.

Don’t even think about Love Story and Last Tango in Paris – all lust and romance soon will be ­cancelled except for Brokeback Mountain. We are eradicating real theatre and film at the same time we are turning the serious ­issues into theatre sports.

Think about how we have no idea what our favourite sports teams or organisations think about communism, freedom of expression, the global scourges of malaria and tuberculosis, women’s rights in Muslim theocracies, or the critical role of cheap, reliable energy in lifting people out of poverty. But we all know they support climate posturing and changing the date of Australia Day.

Like Seinfeld’s Kramer being attacked for joining the AIDS march without wearing a ribbon, it does not seem to matter what you do, the new public square is only interested in what you display, whether you run with the crowd.

This is the essence of virtue-signalling.

Logic counts for zero. The same organisations that endorse Earth Hour, where they switch off electrical lights in a global-warming gesture, support Vivid, a blaze of electric lights for fun.

The same sporting organisations that trumpet climate concerns and net-zero goals use gas-fired flame effects and fireworks at their games. They seem to emulate Gore, right down to the ­blatant hypocrisy.

This week there was a dramatic pivot in the national conversation towards the social problems in the Red Centre that some of us have been discussing with Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and others for years. Just seven or eight months ago, Price was warning that the scrapping of alcohol bans and the cashless welfare card would exacerbate existing problems.

Nothing happened. But this week the Prime Minister and his team flew in, stage left, and were gone, stage right, within hours. Some changes were made.

But the reforms were the bare minimum in addressing a current escalation in generational problems. The long-term solutions do not make great theatre, they ­require hard, sustained and co-­operative work.

You have to wonder whether we, as a nation, are capable of handling such challenges. Do we have the attention span to go ­beyond a couple of acts?


Energy chaos: the shape of things to come

Australian governments have made energy policies focused on achieving higher shares of renewable energy that they claim is the cheapest source of power. The Commonwealth government is planning for renewables to reach 82 per cent of supply by 2030, while the Liberal Party’s plan is for 85 per cent by 2050 and 61 per cent by 2030. State governments have additional plans. In pursuit of these goals, governments around Australia are being sucked into a vortex requiring ever-increasing controls, while seeing mounting cost increases.

Subsidies that amount to $6.9 billion per year have propelled wind and solar, which had virtually no market presence 20 years ago, to their current market share of 27 per cent. The CSIRO and other bodies claim that these are the cheapest forms of electricity, but the absurdity of this is demonstrable – the market shares of wind and solar would be negligible without these subsidies. And the subsidies themselves amount to over one-third of what electricity generation would cost if renewable requirements did not push up prices.

A recent study from the UK identifies a similar magnitude of costs to support renewables (which now provide 36 per cent of the nation’s electricity). The hidden subsidies to renewables amounted to 13 billion pounds ($24 billion) in 2021, a little over three times Australia’s $6.9 billion cost for a population two and a half times greater. Among major countries only Germany, which has gone even further down the renewables path, has higher energy prices

As in Australia, the UK’s growth in subsidised renewables has brought an accelerating increase in prices. That process in both countries predated the Ukraine War. This contradicts Mr Albanese’s response, ‘News Flash!!! There has been a war in Europe that has had a global impact!’ to a question from Chris Kenny on why electricity prices had failed to meet the ALP’s projected price fall $275 of per household, but instead had risen by that magnitude.

In fact, European gas and coal prices, though still much higher than a year ago, have fallen (in the case of gas to a quarter of their June-October 2022 levels). That is in spite of a very strong increase in stored reserves. Reasons for this included customer demand response and supply response of non-Russian sources (and Russian sea-borne sources), to high prices, a mild winter and shift from gas to electricity (including coal-generated electricity).

Australia’s ballooning energy costs are entirely self-inflicted. They are caused by years of bowing to green ideology by:

increasing taxes on coal and gas;

discrimination against coal and gas by requiring increasing quantities be incorporated in consumers’ supplies, this month amplified by obligating an additional 30 per cent cut in emissions from the 215 firms that account for some 28 per cent of electricity demand;

governmental legislative and policy impediments on new mines for coal and gas (as well as the embargo in nuclear) and by government appointed judges’ rulings on new mine proposals;

government electricity purchasing that excludes supplies generated by coal or gas.

Australia, like many other countries, is dreaming up new restraints on the use of hydrocarbons. Among these are bans proposed (and already legislated in South Australia) on gas ovens. The rationale for these bans is that, though gas has lower CO2 emissions than coal, an electricity supply comprising solar/wind generation is claimed to have no emissions.

Governments, panicked by the failure of their interventionist energy policies to bring about the low costs they and their advisers confidently projected, have now introduced price caps on coal and gas. With no sense of irony, the objective is to maintain hydrocarbon generators that are being driven out of business by governments’ discriminatory energy policies.

The measures exemplify a Hayekian ‘road-to-serfdom’ process, whereby interventions require consequential additional measures. Having seen policies preventing hydrocarbon developments bring shortages and ballooning prices, the Commonwealth implemented price caps. Predictably, the price caps cause supply shortages from an industry that has been prevented from developing new supplies by government embargoes that have been in place for over a decade. So, governments move on to further control involving specifying levels of production that they think are attainable.

Unsurprisingly, governments working with ‘high-level’ policy advisers are even botching price cap and associated domestic reserve process.

Companies are unable to interpret the Commonwealth regulations delegated to the ACCC.

New South Wales, working with the Albanese government, is seeking to reserve 22 million tonnes of coal for local consumption. This ex post facto imposition of reserve tonnage requirements will have damaging effects on the reputation of Australia for political certainty and by causing investors to place a premium on future costs, will lower future income levels.

Moreover, much of the planned coal to be reserved for domestic use is of a more valuable quality than that used in domestic power stations. Redirecting it to domestic uses would be wasteful in itself. This would be compounded since burning this higher quality coal in domestic power stations would likely cause damage unless other costs were incurred.

In addition, planning 22 million tonnes of coal to be redirected from exports is evidence of incompetence since even with the Liddell power station open (it is supposed to close in April) only 15 million tonnes were used last year. And if Liddell’s output is replaced by that of the remaining four power stations (Bayswater, Vales Point, Eraring, and Mount Piper) their greater efficiency would mean even less coal required.

Imprisoned by the green policies they have set in train, instead of abandoning the embargoes and taxes favouring their preferred renewable sources, governments are doubling down on the restrictions. Yet, each new layer of interventions proves to be inadequate and the mirage of low-cost reliable wind/solar electricity constantly recedes to the horizon.


Unions put in driver’s seat: transport operators to pay

Anthony Albanese is preparing to revive Labor’s controversial road safety remuneration tribunal powers and set up a fight with 35,000 owner-driver truckies under a new industrial relations crackdown enabling the Fair Work Commission to “set minimum standards” for road transport workers.

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has launched consultation with key stakeholders on the government’s plan to introduce a safety net of entitlements and protections for those in “employee-like forms of work” and independent contractors.

A leaked government document reveals Labor’s second phase of IR reforms will resurrect RSRT-like powers demanded by the Transport Workers Union and NSW Labor senator Tony ­Sheldon, a former TWU national secretary and right-faction powerbroker. Despite a fierce backlash from owner-driver truckies who led protest convoys to Canberra, the Gillard government established the RSRT in 2012 to set pay and conditions for drivers.

The tribunal, which Labor and the TWU claimed would improve driver conditions, lower injuries and combat drug use, was abolished by the Coalition in 2016 over concerns it was discriminating against non-unionised businesses and forcing out mum-and-dad operators.

The Australian can reveal the Albanese government is accelerating its Jobs and Skills Summit pledge to “consider allowing the Fair Work Commission to set fair minimum standards to ensure the road transport industry is safe, sustainable and viable”.

According to a department brief, the government’s objective is that “all workers, regardless of their working arrangement, have access to a safety net of fair minimum entitlements and protections, while all businesses have the opportunity to compete fairly”.

Flagged measures include allowing the Fair Work Commission to set “minimum standards for workers in the road transport industry”, reviewing the definition of ‘employee’ under the Fair Work Act and providing “protections for independent contractors, including the capacity to challenge unfair contract terms”.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke – who is leading a separate push to deliver Labor’s Same Job, Same Pay labour hire reforms – said there would be “extensive consultation on these measures before we introduce legislation later in the year”.

“We made commitments at both the election and at the Jobs and Skills Summit for workers who currently have no minimum standards,” Mr Burke told The Australian.

Speaking to union delegates in August, Mr Burke credited TWU national secretary Michael Kaine with helping develop the “idea of giving a flexible power to the Commission”.

On closing gaps in the IR system to create a fairer framework for gig economy and road transport workers, Mr Burke told the TWU conference if “you’re like an employee in the work that you do, the Fair Work Commission will be able to determine the appropriate minimum pay and conditions for work”.

A Small Business Ombudsman inquiry into the effects of the RSRT, ordered by the Turnbull government in 2016, found that payment orders made long-distance and supermarket distribution owner-drivers uncompetitive, contributed to some drivers taking their own lives and created a legal minefield for family-run businesses.

Opposition workplace relations spokeswoman Michaelia Cash, who led the abolishment of the RSRT in 2016, on Thursday accused the government of “putting the interests of its union paymasters above the interests of small and family businesses”.

“It is clear that the Albanese government is planning to effectively reintroduce the flawed Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, putting the livelihoods of 35,000 small-business owner-truck drivers at risk,” she told The Australian. “This is all part of Labor’s attack on flexible employment arrangements which suit both businesses and employees. It is an attack on how thousands of businesses operate and will lead to job losses and business closures.

“It will be bad for the economy, just like the radical industrial relations laws Labor rushed through the parliament.”