Monday, October 25, 2021

Barnaby Joyce tells colleagues he doesn’t support net-zero 2050 climate plan as deal with PM revealed

Barnaby Joyce has told colleagues he doesn’t support net zero by 2050 despite reaching a new agreement with Prime Minister Scott Morrison overnight to deliver the plan – if the Nationals get an extra seat in cabinet.

Multiple MPs have told that the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told the Nationals party room that while he didn’t support net zero, he was happy to accept the will of the majority of his colleagues.

Overnight, Mr Joyce and Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud went to dinner at the Lodge to discuss the deal, which is believed to include an extra seat in cabinet for the Nationals that’s likely to go to Keith Pitt, another net zero sceptic.

Mr Littleproud refused to say if Mr Joyce personally supported net zero by 2050 when quizzed on ABC television. “I’m not going to get into individuals,’’ Mr Littleproud said.

Host Michael Rowland shot back, “You’re his deputy. You should know.”

“I do, but I won’t tell you because what happens in our party room stays in the sanctity of that party room,’’ he said.

That prompted former prime minister Kevin Rudd to accuse the Nationals of accepting “30 pieces of silver” – the price Judas Iscariot accepted to betray Jesus.

“They are a bunch of political opportunists ready to be bought at any price. The real debate is 2030 targets. Otherwise 2050 carbon neutral is bullsh*t.”

But a split has already emerged in the ranks, with Nationals Senator Matt Canavan and NT Senator Sam McMahon raising concerns about the net-zero plan.

Asked if Mr Joyce supported net zero, Senator McMahon told that she didn’t think he did. “I think he said enough on the public record that I don’t think he’s a massive fan of it,’’ she said.

“I don’t believe it’s going to have any effect on overall global temperatures. But, but, you know if it’s what the majority of the public want, then we have an obligation to deliver that for them.

“My view is that I don’t support it from the point of view that whatever we do in Australia is going to have absolutely no impact on global emissions, and global temperature changes.

“I’ve been on the public record numerous times saying that I, I support the adaptation of nuclear energy.”

Speaking after the meeting, Senator Canavan confirmed that he still believed it was a “bad deal”. On social media, he has been posting images suggesting Australians will only be able to eat “14 grams of meat” under net zero. “To reach the Liberals’ net zero plan, the UN says we can only eat 14g of meat a day. Don’t eat it all at once!,’’ he said.

Senator Canavan said he wouldn’t be supporting the plan. “Net zero will be a bad deal for Australia because it will send jobs and industry to China just as we face greater risks of conflict.

“I don’t agree with the decision. I let the room know yesterday that I will – as I say, I’ll continue to fight for the blue-collar workers of this country.

Mr Morrison said he welcomed what he described as the Nationals’ in-principle support for the commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

“We recognise this has been a challenging issue for the Nationals. I thank the DPM for his leadership and his colleagues for their considered support. I greatly respect the process they have undertaken in reaching this decision,’’ he said.

“Only the Coalition can be trusted to deliver a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 that will protect and promote rural and regional Australia.

“Ensuring regional Australia continues to grow and prosper is a core objective of any Coalition Government, and this will be central to our plan.

“Australia will continue to reduce emissions while keeping our economy growing, maintaining affordable, reliable energy and ensuring our regions remain strong.”


Covid modelling proves why climate science should also be questioned

Peta Credlin

Why is it that Melbourne’s liberation last Friday came on a day with almost 2200 Covid cases; yet its initial incarceration eleven weeks earlier had been prompted by just eight cases?

Ok, vaccination rates had risen from 20 to 70 per cent in the interim.

It’s still worth posing the question: how could eight cases be a catastrophe, yet 2200 cases be a cause for celebration; other than in a topsy-turvy world where “following the science” just means following the leader? Never has adhering to expert advice meant so many contradictory anomalies, and so much hardship for so many people.

Even on “Freedom Day” (thank you government for giving back what was never yours to take away) people from NSW could enter Victoria and go anywhere while Melbournians were still banned from regional areas; and people were once again allowed inside each other’s homes but not inside a “non-essential” retail shop?

It’s been clear for many months now, that while Covid posed a grave risk to people who were very old or very sick, once the vulnerable had been vaccinated, we could start to treat Covid like most other diseases because vaccinations cut the risk of hospitalisation and death by about 90 per cent.

But this settled science on Covid hasn’t stopped different approaches in different states as well as clearly absurd applications of the “science”: such as the Queensland rule that briefly required mask wearing while driving a car alone; the Victorian rules that allowed coffee drinking in parks but not beer or wine, with kids’ playgrounds deemed dangerous and shut down but not the heroin injecting room; and those absurd curfew rules, with no scientific basis at all!

In other words, not only did the same science produce very different policy responses, but supposedly “following the science” included numerous measures that were, frankly, grandstanding by premiers who’ve used and abused “health science” to score political points. But if the settled science of Covid can be exploited like this, what about the science of climate change?

Let’s accept that the climate is changing, and that mankind’s carbon dioxide emissions are the cause. Why does it automatically follow that the fossil fuel industry must be closed down in the next couple of decades, regardless of the cost; and more importantly, regardless of the fact that most of the world’s biggest emitters won’t follow suit, so that countries like ours end up massively disadvantaged with the planet hardly better off?

If it’s finally become acceptable to count the costs of endless lockdowns to prevent Covid; why can’t we also question the costs of measures to prevent climate change and ask ourselves: can it be done differently and better?

If there’s one thing the pandemic should have taught us, it’s that modelling is only as good as the modellers’ assumptions.

Initially, the expert modellers said that 150,000 plus Australians would die of Covid. To date, only Victoria has breached the 1000 deaths threshold. Even during the current outbreak, predictions of thousands of hospital admissions with intensive care units overwhelmed have been massively overblown. Either modelling exists to make astrology look good or the modellers have a catastrophe bias.

As our government prepares to commit us to net zero emissions by 2050 on the basis of modelling that the planet otherwise faces environmental disaster; yet that net zero can be achieved without any significant economic pain, it’s worth asking why the climate modelling can be trusted when the epidemiological modelling clearly couldn’t; and why the climate “experts” are both unanimous and infallible while the health experts clearly weren’t.

Before the last election, the Prime Minister used Liberal Party modelling showing that a 45 per cent cut to emissions by 2030 would cumulatively cost 336,000 jobs, cut wages by $9000 and slash nearly half a trillion dollars from GDP in order to label Labor’s policy as “reckless”.

Now, he says that an even bigger cut will actually make us richer, but hasn’t released the modelling nor adequately dealt with the fact, as confirmed by the International Energy Agency, that much of the so-called technology to get to net zero is either unproven or hasn’t even been invented yet.

Right now, fossil fuels provide 83 per cent of the world’s total primary energy. That’s just four percentage points down over the past 30 years, despite all the billions in subsidies for renewables. Yet if the PM is to be believed, Australia can keep increasing our coal and gas exports at the same time as the world reduces its fossil fuel dependence to just 20 per cent; and it will all be done by “technology not taxes” even though the British Treasury has estimated that achieving net zero will require a carbon price of $295 a tonne by 2050 (compared to Julia Gillard’s carbon tax of just $23 a tonne). And that’s even with Britain using zero-emissions nuclear power which we still ban here (even though it’s our exported uranium that drives it).

On current technology, net zero means no cement, no steel, no aluminium, no air travel, no petrol or diesel vehicles and no eating beef or dairy. Yet this is supposed to be a painless transition that will make us richer, not poorer.

Perhaps the experts could next model the likelihood that pigs might fly.


Submission calls for Crime and Corruption Commission boss Alan MacSporran’s sacking

Predator MacSporran must go

State Parliament could consider sacking Crime and Corruption Commission boss Alan MacSporran for presiding over a deteriorating “pack culture” and breaches of impartiality within the powerful corruption watchdog, a committee inquiry has heard.

Bombshell closing submissions at an inquiry into the CCC’s conduct alleged Mr MacSporran failed to ensure the organisation acted impartially and fairly when investigating and subsequently charging seven Logan councillors and the mayor with fraud in 2019.

The charges were later dropped.

In a submission to the inquiry Jonathan Horton, Counsel Assisting, alleged the CCC had “overstepped the mark” by laying charges against councillors in an attempt to assist the reinstatement of Logan City Council CEO Sharon Kelsey, and allowed a deterioration of the culture within the organisation.

“You’ve seen a problem of culture in the CCC exposed and problems of culture are necessary problems of management,” Dr Horton told the parliamentary committee.

“That failing is serious and reflects poorly on his standing as the chair of the CCC.

“The resistance to scrutiny and to accept error is a problem of leadership and you may not, as a committee, have the confidence that the chair can ensure the organisation’s continued impartiality.”

Dr Horton said the committee could consider recommending to the Queensland parliament Mr MacSporran’s tenure be terminated.

The bombshell recommendation came after Dr Horton claimed the treatment of Logan City Council administrator Tamara O’Shae by the CCC was “disgraceful”, and cited an internal email that raised “serious allegations” against her including that she had acted dishonestly.

“A pack or runaway culture is evident in the police officers with respect to their allegations against Ms O’Shae – they were entirely unfounded,” Dr Horton said.

“Fortunately, more senior managers stepped in and prevented them from becoming anything more than internal communications.”

Dr Horton also pointed to a phone conversation between Mr MacSporran and Ms O’Shae about the reappointment of Ms Kelsey as CEO as part of wider evidence “of the CCC’s desire to assist in the reinstatement of Ms Kelsey”.

Mr MacSporran, who has previously denied he was on a “crusade” to reinstate her as CEO, declined to speak to media after Thursday’s committee hearing.

Peter Dunning, for the CCC, said there was “a lot of consideration” given to charging the Logan councillors and denied the watchdog chief had acted improperly.


Cartoonist Michael Leunig axed from prime spot at The Age over ‘offensive’ vaccine toon

Newspaper cartoonist Michael Leunig has been axed from his prized position in The Age over an image comparing resistance to mandatory vaccination to the fight for democracy in Tiananmen Square.

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In an image posted to his Instagram account, Leunig — whose career has spanned five decades — drew a lone protester standing in front of a loaded syringe, mimicking the iconic “tank man” image of protest in China. An inset of the 1989 photo also appears in Leunig’s drawing.

The image was posted at the end of September and never made it to print in The Age, and speculation about Leunig’s job at the newspaper began after a cryptic 39-word statement on its letters page last Monday. The statement said the Melbourne newspaper was “trialling new cartoonists” on the page.

Now, Leunig has confirmed to The Australian columnist Nick Tabakoff he has been taken off the newspaper’s prized Monday editorial page position — not long after his Tiananmen Square cartoon emerged and stoked outrage from Daniel Andrews fans.




Sunday, October 24, 2021

More on Pru Goward

Her essay on the "underclass" has been widely condemned so I thought I might reproduce exactly what she said:

"As a shopkeeper’s daughter, I understood poor people; they obeyed the law, worked hard, sent their kids to the same primary schools I attended and were equally ambitious for their children. But the underclass, small as it then was, behaved differently"

So she was clearly NOT talking about the poor in general, only the dysfunctional segment of the poor. But all commentators that I have seen write as if the had condemned poor people in general, which she carefully said she did NOT do. But the Left chracteristically see only what they want to see so we should not be surprised by the response to Goward

She has not formally replied to her critics but The Guardian records a brief comment from her:

"Goward told Guardian Australia she was “deeply disappointed” that her column had been “so badly misunderstood”. But, she said, opinion pieces are “meant to provoke and I hope it’s helped the readers of the AFR think differently about those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder”.

“I have applied a Marxist analysis which some might say is old fashioned but which explains to me why people judge others as unworthy,” she said.

Goward said Shoebridge was ignoring “all the wonderful things we did for vulnerable children” when she was a minister."

She is perfectly right. Marxists do define everything in terms of class and that is perfectly respectable among sociologists. There is a large literature on the "proletariat" or "underclass" so she is being perfectly routine in referring to that much-studied population segment. Her description was perfectly mainstream sociology. Coming from a Marxist it would pass without notice


Family of Aboriginal woman shot dead by WA police officer speak out after acquittal

Mentally ill people can be very troublesome, very dangerous to themselves and others

The family of a Geraldton woman shot dead by a Western Australian police officer has said there is “no equality” and “no justice” for Aboriginal people after the constable was acquitted of her murder on Friday.

“In terms of Aboriginal people, we don’t get no fairness, there’s no equality and this is evidence with what’s happened here,” Bernadette Clarke, the sister of the victim, known as JC for cultural reasons, said on the steps outside Perth’s district court.

The 29-year-old Yamatji woman JC was fatally shot by a WA police first-class constable in a suburban Geraldton street in 2019. The constable, the first police officer to be charged with murder in WA for nearly a century, and who is still a serving officer, cannot be named for legal reasons.

JC was shot and killed after police responded to a welfare call from JC’s sister, who had told them she was concerned JC was walking down a street holding a knife and pair of scissors.

JC had experienced significant mental health and drug problems and recently been released from prison.

The defence lawyer, Linda Black SC, told the court JC had ignored repeated requests to drop the knife from the officers at the scene.

The jury was shown CCTV footage, taken from a home about 65 metres away, of JC being shot while surrounded by police vehicles.

The director of public prosecutions, Amanda Forrester SC, argued the footage showed JC did not move towards the officers.

Black said her client had acted correctly by drawing his gun, rather than a Taser, when confronting a person armed with a knife.

She said the officer had never fired his gun while on duty and had less than a second to decide whether to pull the trigger given his proximity to JC.

“He was not some trigger-happy constable ... he was a brave and careful officer who took pride in his job,” Black said.

“[JC] was never, ever going to drop the weapons. She needed to be taken down; she was never going to surrender.”

After a three-week trial in the Perth district court, a jury deliberated for just over three hours on Friday before returning not guilty verdicts to both murder and manslaughter charges.

The acquitted officer – cleared of all criminal wrongdoing – remains a serving member of the WA police force, but was stood down after the shooting. A decision has not yet been made on his future.


Supermodel Elle Macpherson raises eyebrows after deleting 'Aborigine' ancestry remarks in Vogue makeup tutorial

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She obviously thinks she has some very remote Aboriginal ancestry but that is a very touchy topic

Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson has raised eyebrows for making a surprising remark about her ancestry.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the 57-year-old stated in a new beauty video tutorial for Vogue: 'My eyes are almost black, that’s the Aborigine in me.' 'Being seven generations Australian they don’t reflect light the same way blue eyes do,' she reportedly said in the clip.

According to the publication, the video was edited to remove those remarks when Macpherson was asked to clarify whether she was claiming to be Indigenous, or regretted using the term 'Aborigine'.

Born in Australia, Elle is the daughter of entrepreneur and sound engineer Peter Gow, and nurse Frances Gow. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old. Elle later adopted her stepfather's last name, Macpherson.


Voluntary Asisted Dying law in Queensland

Applegarth is Labor’s golden-haired boy right now after successfully steering the assisted suicide laws into the Parliament via his role as the Chair of the Queensland Law Reform Commission.

However, I will not forgive nor forget how the architects of the VAD Bill avoided using the word “suicide” because of the stigma associated with it. And Applegarth and others who framed the laws ludicrously pretend that suicide is not suicide at all.

“The Bill provides that a person who dies as a result of self-administration or administration of a voluntary assisted dying substance does not die by suicide and is taken to have died from the disease, illness or medical condition from which they suffered,” says an explanatory note given to MPs.

To my mind that is intellectual dishonesty.




Friday, October 22, 2021

Huge backlash to essay by Pru Goward suggesting some poor people lack discipline and are 'appalling' housekeepers

She has been condemned for something she didn't say. She said SOME poor were like that, not all. And that is simple realism

A former Liberal MP and the mother of model Tziporah Malkah [Kate Fischer] has been blasted in Parliament for suggesting poor people lack discipline and housekeeping skills.

Pru Goward, who until 2019 was the NSW minister for community services and social housing under former premier Gladys Berejiklian, has been widely condemned for an opinion piece in The Australian Financial Review about social divides.

The 69-year-old former ABC journalist and federal sex discrimination commissioner said she 'understood poor people' growing up as the daughter of a shopkeeper.

But Ms Goward recalled there was an underclass among the poor who 'behaved differently' and in her mother's words were 'not very nice', especially to social workers. 'Of course, they are always seen as a deficit,' she said.

What Pru Goward said:

'Social workers, traditionally good young men and women who thought it would be nice to be kind for a living, despair of their appalling housework, neglect of their children and, notably, their sharp and unrepentant manner when told to lift their game by the patronising do-gooder'

'Their children languish in the growing number of behavioural support classes in general high schools where they learn little and teachers itch to send them to the local TAFE to do some form of home-schooling and get them off their books'

Premier Dominic Perrottet condemned his former cabinet colleague. 'I completely disagree with it. I thought the entire premise of it was terrible,' he said on Thursday.

One Nation's New South Wales leader Mark Latham said Ms Goward's column was a 'slurring of all the children' from families that live in outer south-west Sydney.

'It's disgraceful that Pru Goward would write this generalisation, writing off a whole generation, not knowing these success stories,' he told the Legislative Council on Thursday. 'So out of touch, so arrogant, so condescending, so elitist.'

Mr Latham, who lives in south-west Sydney near where he grew up, likened Ms Goward to a Jane Austen novel from the early 19th century. 'You've written an article that is sort of out of Pride and Prejudice, sitting there like someone in a Victorian-era parlour room sneering at the poor,' he said.

In August 2019, Western Sydney University appointed Ms Goward as Professor of Social Interventions and Policy, which Mr Latham said should be reviewed. 'She shouldn't be at that university and she should actually be removed from that position,' he said in Parliament.

Ms Goward's column saw Mr Latham heap some rare praise on his old Labor Party, which he led from December 2003 to January 2005 when he was the federal member for Werriwa.

He gave a special mention to former state Labor housing minister Craig Knowles, who held the overlapping electorate of Macquarie Fields for more than a decade and oversaw the successful redevelopment of public housing at Minto.

'It's a great tribute to that former Labor government and the member Craig Knowles - the Minto project showed the way forward,' he said.

'Because of the renewal of the public housing estate and uplifting of the school, Minto Public, which parents had avoided, now had out-of-area enrolments.'

Mr Latham, who used to campaign against Labor's left faction at party state conferences, found common ground with left-wing state Labor upper house MP Rose Jackson, who had campaigned to have him expelled from the ALP.

'"They are damaged, lacking in trust and discipline, and highly self-interested." No, former NSW Govt Minister Pru Goward isn’t talking about politicians, it turns out this is what Liberals really think about poor people,' Ms Jackson said.

Ms Goward's daughter Tziporah Malkah was previously a model known as Kate Fischer and was the product of her first marriage to Adelaide-based economics lecturer Alastair Fischer. The mother and daughter have had a strained relationship.

Her second husband David Barnett was a press secretary to former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser.


So Australia wants to welcome migrants again? Good luck with that

Suddenly everybody’s talking about immigration. As Australia opens up and emerges from almost two years of global isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warns our record low population growth – due to closed borders – will act as a handbrake on the economy in coming decades. The Australian Chamber of Commerce is calling for a big injection of skilled migrants. And Premier Dominic Perrottet wants a “big NSW”. Bring back the migrants, reignite the economy!

Well, good luck with that, Australia.

Already there is evidence that people overseas looking to migrate are considering countries such as Canada and the United States over Australia. The US, Canada and Britain were already in stiff competition with Australia to attract the best and brightest, but this competition is only set to increase.

I fear the damage done during COVID through the lack of goodwill shown to temporary migrants, a critical source of skills in the Australian workforce, will undermine any renewed efforts to welcome much-needed people from overseas. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told non-citizens living in Australia to “go home” and the government denied financial assistance to temporary migrants, forcing many to rely on donations.

Australia has lost its sheen.

COVID-19 has been a natural experiment of sorts, proving the importance of immigration and the valuable contributions of migrants for the nation. A lack of labour in the horticultural sector has resulted in produce being left to rot rather than being picked and sold in national and international markets. Amid the crushing economic pressures of the global pandemic and industries being frozen by public health measures to keep the nation safe, our local skills and workforce have been insufficient to meet demands.

Additionally, the COVID-19 population experiment has demonstrated that migrants are not inflating housing costs, do not steal local jobs and nor do they suppress local wages. Net overseas migration is expected to be minus-77,400 this year and yet house prices, say Westpac economists, will surge 22 per cent. Meanwhile, we’ve had lower-than-expected unemployment and low wage growth, all while the borders have been shut. With this arsenal of evidence, you’d be forgiven for thinking immigration could recommence without public opposition and return to pre-pandemic levels without delay.

Recent commentary about a bigger Australia has prompted discussion about a migration-led population boom to kickstart the national economy. The federal Treasurer and minister responsible for immigration have both signalled the importance of immigration and the need to get the borders open. The Labor opposition is seemingly taking a more cautious approach to immigration and has been busy talking about reincarnating local industries with roots in the 1950s, such as car-making, to secure local jobs. But both major parties know the socio-economic importance of immigration.

I would like to see immigration feature in a post-pandemic recovery. I’m all for immigration that compliments the local demographic needs. And Australia needs more working-age people to get the country going again.

Huge migrant shortfall prompts warning surge in temporary workers could dent wages

But Australia will struggle to meet the demand for immigration and necessary skills in the short-term. Australia’s diplomatic tensions with China and COVID pressures in India will constrain the flow of migrants from the two largest source countries. Canada is the No.1 preferred destination for international students, followed by the US and Britain. Australia takes out fourth place.

If the projections of the federal government’s 2021 Intergenerational Report are anything to go by, Australia’s population growth and migration intake are going to be slower and lower, and neither will fully recover to pre-COVID levels. This is the short and medium outlook.

Australia needs to reset after the devastating economic and demographic impacts of COVID. Call it our post-pandemic rebuild, and it will be a watershed. Immigration will necessarily feature. But I don’t anticipate immigration increases will occur in the near future, not for want of trying on Australia’s part but because it has lost its sparkle.


Black American Police officer who fatally shot Justine Damond sentenced to less than 5 years in jail

Minneapolis: A Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot unarmed Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk Damond has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison – the maximum allowed for manslaughter -- after his murder conviction was overturned.

Mohamed Noor was initially convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Damond, a 40-year-old dual US-Australian citizen and yoga teacher who was engaged to be married.

Damond had called police to report a possible rape happening behind her home in the US in the 2017 incident that led to her death.

The Minnesota Supreme Court tossed out Noor’s murder conviction and 12½-year sentence last month, saying the third-degree murder statute didn’t fit the case because it can only apply when a defendant shows a “generalised indifference to human life,” not when the conduct is directed at a particular person, as it was with Damond.

On Friday (AEDT) Judge Kathryn Quaintance, who also presided at Noor’s trial, granted prosecutors’ request to impose the maximum sentence called for by state sentencing guidelines on Noor’s manslaughter conviction, 57 months. In doing so, she brushed aside the defence’s request for 41 months, which is the low end of the range. With good behaviour, Noor could be freed on supervised release by the middle of next year.

“Mr Noor, I am not surprised that you have been a model prisoner,” Quaintance said. “However, I do not know any authority that would make that grounds for reducing your sentence.” She cited Noor “shooting across the nose of your partner” and endangering others the night of the shooting to hand down the stiffest sentence she could.

Noor, who was fired after he was charged, has already served more than 29 months. In Minnesota, inmates who behave well typically serve two-thirds of their prison sentences and the remainder on supervised release.

Noor testified at his 2019 trial that he and his partner were driving slowly in an alley when a loud bang on their police SUV made him fear for their lives. He said he saw a woman appear at the partner’s driver’s side window and raise her right arm before he fired a shot from the passenger seat to stop what he thought was a threat.

He was sentenced to 12½ years on the murder count and had been serving most of his time at an out-of-state facility.

Noor’s appeal of his murder conviction was watched closely for implications in the case of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer convicted of the same charge in George Floyd’s death. After the state Supreme Court overturned Noor’s third-degree murder conviction, experts said they expected the same eventual result for Chauvin but that it would likely have little impact because Chauvin was also convicted of a more serious second-degree murder charge in Floyd’s death. Chauvin was sentenced to 22½ years.

Noor’s attorneys, Tom Plunkett and Peter Wold, sought 41 months at the resentencing, citing Noor’s good behaviour behind bars and harsh conditions he faced during many months in solitary, away from the general prison population.

Plunkett said on Thursday that much attention had been given to the victim as a kind and giving person – “all true,” he said. But Plunkett said there is “similar goodness” in Noor. He said Noor had always sought to help people around him, and recapped Noor’s good behaviour while in prison.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Amy Sweasy, meanwhile, asked Quaintance to give Noor the longest possible sentence. She said the case “is worse than typical” because of who Noor is. “The most serious sentence this court can impose is required,” she said.

Damond’s parents, John Ruszczyk and Maryan Heffernan, also asked the judge to impose the longest sentence. In a statement read by prosecutors, they called Damond’s death “utterly gratuitous” and said that the Minnesota Supreme Court’s overturning of a “poorly written law” didn’t change the jury’s belief that Noor committed murder.

“Our sorrow is forever, our lives will always endure an emptiness,” they said.

The victim’s fiance, Don Damond, gave his statement via Zoom. He started by praising prosecutors for their “sound application of the law” and criticising the state Supreme Court for its reversal, which he said “does not diminish the truth that was uncovered during the trial”.

“The truth is Justine should be alive. No amount of justification, embellishment, cover-up, dishonesty or politics will ever change that truth,” he said.

But Don Damond also spoke directly to Noor, saying he forgave him and had no doubt Justine also would have forgiven him “for your inability in managing your emotions that night”.

Noor, wearing a suit and tie and donning a face mask, appeared impassive as the victim’s loved ones’ statements were read. He later addressed the court briefly, saying, “I’m deeply grateful for Mr Damond’s forgiveness. I will take his advice and be a unifier. Thank you.”

Damond’s death angered citizens in the US and Australia, and led to the resignation of Minneapolis’ police chief. It also led the department to change its policy on body cameras; Noor and his partner didn’t have theirs activated when they were investigating Damond’s 911 call.

Noor, who is Somali American, was believed to be the first Minnesota officer convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting. Activists who had long called for officers to be held accountable for the deadly use of force applauded the murder conviction but lamented that it came in a case in which the officer is Black and his victim was white. Some questioned whether the case was treated the same as police shootings involving black victims.

Days after Noor’s conviction, Minneapolis agreed to pay $US20 million ($26.7 million) to Damond’s family, believed at the time to be the largest settlement stemming from police violence in Minnesota. It was surpassed earlier this year when Minneapolis agreed to a $US27 million settlement in Floyd’s death just as Chauvin was going on trial.


China, Islam threats to democracy force changes to Australian history classes

School kids will be taught that Australia is the “greatest country on earth‘’, in a new cutback curriculum with a focus on phonics and times tables.

Year 2 students will no longer be asked to identify “racist statues’’, federal Education Minister Alan Tudge will declare on Friday when he reveals that the draft national curriculum has been more than halved from 3281 to 1443 pages.

Warning against the rise of Communist China and fundamentalist Islam, Mr Tudge said Australian children should be taught more about the importance of democracy, freedom and patriotism.

“We should expect our young people leaving school to have an understanding of our liberal democracy and how it is that we are one of the wealthiest, most free, most tolerant and most egalitarian countries in all of human history, which millions have immigrated to,” he will tell the Centre for Independent Studies.

“If they don’t learn this, they won’t defend it as previous generations did. “We must do more to impress upon young Australians how extraordinarily lucky we are.’’

Mr Tudge said a “negative view of our country, our history and our future” was harming children’s mental health.

“Ultimately, students should leave school with a love of country and a sense of optimism and hope that we live in the greatest country on earth and that the future is bright,’’ he said.

“If they are constantly fed a negative view of our country, our history and our people, then we will exacerbate existing problems. “Let us be positive about our country.’’

Mr Tudge will reveal that the draft curriculum has been changed so that seven-year-old students will no longer be expected to “assess the morality of historical statues”. “How that ever got into the draft (in April), I do not know,’’ he says in his speech.

The revised curriculum will teach students that “our democracy is based on our Christian and Western origins, with a reference to the importance of the values of patriotism and freedom’’.

“The influence of authoritarianism and communism is growing in the world, particularly with the rise of an assertive China,” Mr Tudge said.

“Fundamentalist Islam remains a dominant force in any countries, as we are seeing in Afghanistan.

“There has not been a more important time to teach children the origins, values and singular greatness of liberal democracy since the 1940s.”

Mr Tudge said the curriculum was still too “long and deeply bureaucratic’’ compared to New Zealand’s school curriculum which has just 120 pages, and the UK’s 306-page document.

The original draft, released in April, would have forced teachers to wait until Year 4 to teach the times tables, but the new document reinstates the maths rote learning to Year 3.

It will also put more focus on teaching children to read and write using phonics – learning the sounds of letter combinations.

Mr Tudge said the revisions meant the curriculum had “gone from an F to perhaps a C, but Australian students deserve an A+.’’ “With education standards in decline in Australia over the last twenty years … it must aim higher,’’ he said.




Thursday, October 21, 2021

Is "renewable" electricity now economical?

If you ignore the capital costs it probably is. But the capital costs are mostly subsidized from taxes so that is free money, right? Wind turbines in particular are hugely expensive. They could never pay off their costs or even deliver a market return on capital invested

Thanks to a storm of innovation and competition, business and industry has made renewable power more ubiquitous and affordable than even its greatest proponents dared to hope.

“It’s just staggering,” former chief scientist and now special Adviser to the government on low emissions technology Dr Alan Finkel said.

“If you went back to 2010 and looked at all the predictions of battery price for 2050 and now pick up a catalogue, you will see we’ve achieved those 2050 predictions already,” Dr Finkel said.

“We’re seeing the same with solar. Nobody back in 2000 or 2010 predicted solar and wind would be as cheap as they are today. Ninety per cent reduction in the cost of solar electricity per unit in a 10 year period or 11 year period from 2010 to now.”

In other words even just a decade ago it wasn’t even predicted — let alone known — that renewables would be so competitive and cheap.

And so when it comes to power bills, for example, there is no longer a question of any hip pocket pain for environmental gain. Instead it is a clear win-win.

Likewise when it comes to jobs and industry there is now an economic argument for net zero every bit as powerful as the environmental one.

That is why even green groups like the Australian Conservation Foundation are now pressing the industrial case for things like renewable-powered hydrogen, aluminium and steel.

“A target for Australia to reach net zero by 2050 is meaningless without a credible plan with policies and targets to drive down emissions this decade,” CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said.

“The solutions I’ve outlined are part of that credible plan because they address the reason the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have so often used to not take greater action: the economic cost.

“These solutions will create wealth and wellbeing, replacing the jobs and industries lost as the world moves away from fossil fuels. Harnessing these solutions is good for our climate, our economy, our jobs and our communities.”

And of course there is also the obvious fact that there is a growing global consensus in the lead up to the Glasgow summit that means that whatever the politics or ideology, Australia needs to act simply to preserve its international trading partners.

Plus there is clear political momentum within the Coalition government and geopolitical pressure from our closest allies in the US and UK.

All of this and more has led to a moment where after years of torturous inaction which Labor, the Liberals and the Greens all brought upon themselves there is now an unprecedented alignment of environmental benefit, economic prosperity and political will.

A moment that might finally bring an end to Australia’s climate wars.


Why Australia is foolish to embrace net zero emissions

Senator Matt Canavan

Australia is lagging the rest of the world. Just as we are set to sign up to a net zero emissions target, everyone is in a desperate rush to get more coal, oil and gas.

In the UK, they have reopened coal power stations because there has been a wind drought, and Vladimir Putin is not sending them as much gas as he used to.

The US has asked Middle Eastern countries to increase oil production because the woke Wall Street bankers are no longer financing fracking in Texas.

In China, Premier Li said this month that “coal supply is crucial to people’s lives” and that he would review China’s emissions targets in light of their recent energy crisis. He stressed that energy security was China’s priority.

India has demanded that all coal power stations use at least 10 per cent imported coal so they can boost their fuel security.

This is all happening because of Europe’s ill-fated attempt to reach net zero. The failure of Europe to develop their own fossil fuel resources has led to a cascading effect through world energy markets. The price of coal and gas are at record highs, which is good for Australia given we are the world’s largest exporter of both of these things.

But we are set to look this gift horse in the mouth by signing up to a net zero emissions target. A “net” zero emissions target means that any new coal mine or gas field in Australia would need to “net” off its emissions by purchasing carbon credits. These credits cost money and will, in effect, tax the creation of working class Australian jobs.

Over 1 million Australians work in the mining industry alone but these requirements will also impact agriculture, manufacturing and construction jobs too. A net zero target will be the first time that an Australian Government has adopted a policy to make us poorer.

How much will these carbon credits cost? UK Government modelling shows that the carbon price will have to be A$295 per tonne to reach net zero. Julia Gillard’s $20 carbon tax increased electricity prices by 10 per cent. Electricity bills are already skyrocketing in the UK under their net zero plans, and they have a lot higher to go.

But there will be some winners. The banks are happy with this outcome because they will trade the carbon credits. Banks are some of the biggest supporters of net zero emissions. My rule of thumb is that if something is good for the banks, it is probably bad for me.

Turning our back on our domestic supplies of coal and gas will also mean that we will become reliant on China for our energy needs, as that is where our wind turbines and solar panels are made. All of this just as we learn that China has invented a hypersonic, nuclear capable missile that can land anywhere on earth and avoid existing missile defence systems.

China now has space nukes but they can’t match us on plans to reach net zero.

At the last election, Scott Morrison rightly warned of the dangers of cutting our emissions by too much. He called Labor’s proposed 45 per cent reduction in emissions a “wrecking ball through the Australian economy.”

The working men and women of Australia agreed, and rewarded the Liberal and National parties with an unexpected victory. If we turn our backs on their jobs, the Quiet Australians will become loud and angry.

These Australians don’t care what world leaders think of them. They just want their government to create jobs, keep living costs down and make Australia stronger.


Pressure to disband OIA as more petty investigations come to light

The Office of the Independent Assessor has been accused of threatening the free speech of local councillors following the revelation it was probing Barcaldine Mayor Sean Dillon after he questioned the Covid vaccine rollout in a public council meeting.

But while Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk conceded the probe was “ridiculous” and a “storm in a teacup”, her Government has washed its hands of the situation, with Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister Steven Miles resisting calls to launch a review into the watchdog.

Instead, Mr Miles said concerns should be raised with the Queensland Ombudsman.

Community leaders rallied around Cr Dillon following revelations in The Courier-Mail that he had been accused of potential misconduct by the OIA after he questioned the Central West Hospital and Health Service’s planned vaccine rollout.

LNP senator James McGrath called for the OIA to be reined in with tighter legislation or “ideally” be abolished.

“The OIA, the Gestapo of local government in Queensland, is alleging that (Cr Sean Dillon) made comments that could be considered detrimental to public confidence in our health service provider,” he said.

“The last time I checked, one of the primary roles of local government councils is to raise concerns on behalf of their local community.”

The OIA received 1074 complaints from across the state during 2020-21, which was a 4 per cent increase on the previous year, however it noted this was not unexpected because it was the first full year all 77 councils had come under its remit. It completed 187 misconduct investigations during 2020-21.

Former premier Campbell Newman labelled Cr Dillon’s matter as an “extremely sinister development” in Queensland’s democratic system. “I think this office should be shut down and we should go back to local government legislation that was tried and tested and worked well for generations of this state,” he said.

Ms Palaszczuk said it was “a bit of a storm in a teacup”. “I don’t think what he (Cr Dillon) said was unusual, I think it’s a bit ridiculous, but that’s a matter for the independent assessor,” she said.

“But those comments I think were made earlier this year and they’ve had great vaccination rates out there, and the mayor Sean, I know him, he’s done a great job.”

Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister Steven Miles said the Palaszczuk government supported the right of councillors to speak freely, but he resisted calls for a review.

“The Office of the Independent Assessor is an independent statutory body,” he said. “If anyone has concerns about the actions of the OIA, they should raise those concerns with the Queensland Ombudsman.”

It is alleged Cr Dillon made comments about the CWHHS on February 17 “that could be considered detrimental to public confidence in a health service provider and lead agency in the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination program in the region”. It came after he raised concerns at a public council meeting, including that his community couldn’t be vaccinated in the days allocated and that he had “no confidence in them”.

An OIA spokesperson said it did not comment on specific case, but that the following applied to matters involving a councillor’s implied right of political expression: “Local government councillors have the same right to implied freedom of political expression as all members of the community, however this right is not absolute for anyone and may be limited by legislation such as anti-discrimination and anti-racism laws or by a code of conduct.

“When taking office councillors declare they will uphold the code of conduct and the local government principles set out in the Local Government Act, and the OIA is legally required to assess all complaints against these legislated standards.”

LGAQ chief Greg Hallam said the body staunchly supported Cr Dillon’s “right to speak publicly” while calling on the OIA to withdraw its action.

Cr Dillon said he had been “almost overwhelmed” by the amount of support he has received from politicians and members of the community. “Everyone has expressed their solidarity but also been checking in to make sure that I am doing OK,” he said.


We must fix a few problems before we can increase immigration

Abul Rizvi

In the past week we have seen NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry advocate for much higher levels of immigration.

State bureaucrats have pushed Perrottet to lobby for an increase in Australia’s net migration to an unprecedented 400,000 a year for five years. The ACCI is calling for the government to issue 200,000 skilled migrant visas annually. And Frydenberg says Australia needs to rethink its migration targets after losing almost 100,000 people last financial year.

Only once in our history has net migration been a little more than 300,000 and that was just before the global financial crisis. I am not suggesting immigration had anything to do with that crisis, but net migration fluctuates with economic conditions, particularly the labour market. While the labour market is weak right now, there are predictions it will bounce back next year.

When John Howard was prime minister, I was responsible for firstly managing Australia’s immigration intake down, and then increasing it again from about 2001. Oddly enough, I found increasing numbers was more difficult than cutting them.

One of the challenges was that while the smaller states and regional Australia wanted more immigration, the NSW government insisted Sydney was full and any increase in the intake had to be directed away from Sydney. Presumably, Perrottet does not have the same concerns.

Leaving aside “trivial” questions of whether our infrastructure and services such as health, education, housing and transport can be ramped up quickly enough to accommodate the proposed unprecedented increase in immigration, the immediate question is how the increase would be designed and delivered.

The crucial means by which we increased immigration from 2001 was through an increase in overseas students, with clear pathways to permanent residence. These pathways became far more opaque from about 2008-09, but overseas students still represented more than 44 per cent of net migration in 2018-19.

The decision to make the pathways to permanent residency less clear has left hundreds of thousands of overseas students and graduates who have moved on to temporary visas to develop their skills in immigration limbo.

Despite huge numbers of students completing accounting degrees and accounting firms saying they can’t find qualified accountants, these students are struggling to secure jobs using their qualifications, which makes it harder for them to stay in Australia.

This is the status quo in many occupations. The business sector and education providers must address this problem before we again boost student numbers. Education providers need to encourage students to enrol in courses that meet long-term demand in Australia. And they must ensure they are teaching content and skills employers need. Employers too must be prepared to give students the chance to develop their skills without exploiting them.

Even if these problems are addressed, returning to pre-pandemic international student levels will not be simple given our tensions with China – our largest student source country – and the fact the student visa policy was tightened in 2019 for students from India, Nepal and other major source countries.

Some increase in immigration could be achieved by fixing the problems Peter Dutton created as immigration minister, when he made employer-sponsored visas more expensive, more complex and more restricted, leading to a significant decline in their use. But this will not be nearly enough to deliver the numbers NSW and ACCI want.

To reach these figures, the federal government will need to make it easier for older people and people with more limited English and/or lower skill levels to migrate to Australia. This risks large numbers of new migrants finding it even harder to secure a job using their qualifications, and with no access to social support for four years, many would have to accept very low paying and highly exploitative jobs to avoid becoming destitute.

As a country, we need to ask ourselves if that is a consequence we are willing to accept.




Wednesday, October 20, 2021

NAB targeted by Indigenous group over stake in Canadian pipeline

National Australia Bank has been targeted by Indigenous activists over its stake in a controversial Canadian gas pipeline, ahead of the release of the major bank’s revamped policy on oil and gas investing and increased scrutiny on traditional owner land rights in Australia.

The coalition of more than 100 activist groups, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Market Forces and BankTrack, have signed a letter to NAB and other global investors of Coastal GasLink – a 670-kilometre gas pipeline project with approval from the Canadian government.

Coastal GasLink has provincial approval to build a 670-kilometre pipeline, but the chiefs say they won’t allow anyone on the First Nation’s traditional territory without their consent.
Coastal GasLink has provincial approval to build a 670-kilometre pipeline, but the chiefs say they won’t allow anyone on the First Nation’s traditional territory without their consent.CREDIT:MIKE SUDOMA

The letter has been organised by leaders of Canada’s Wet’suwet’en nation, an Indigenous group who have fiercely opposed the pipeline for years. The group made global headlines last year for instigating a number of blockades against construction, which triggered protests around Canada.

Now, the activist group is calling on NAB and other investors to divest all holdings in the project, claiming it violates the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People that states, “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories”.

“We are responsible for decisions regarding our land, and the decision of TC Energy [parent company] to construct the Coastal GasLink pipeline without our consent is an infringement of our title and rights,” the letter states.

“While we are currently in negotiations with federal and provincial government ministers to have our land rights and title [recognised] and upheld, this does not mean there is agreement with respect to Coastal GasLink ... We remain unequivocally opposed to oil and gas pipelines on our territories and are determined to continue to protect our lands, air, and water.”

The letter claims the project will destroy cultural heritage and argues traditional owners have not provided consent for land use, despite a number of other Indigenous groups agreeing to the project.

“It is becoming inarguably clear that projects lacking free, prior and, informed consent from Indigenous communities should not and cannot be built,” the letter states. “We call on you to divest and withdraw investment in the Coastal GasLink pipeline immediately ... In no way is Coastal GasLink a responsible, profitable, secure, or morally sound investment.”

The federal inquiry investigating Rio Tinto’s destruction of 46,000-year-old caves this week called for national laws to protect Indigenous heritage and new powers for traditional owners to refuse projects threatening significant sites on their lands. The Juukan gorge explosion threw the mining giant into turmoil and refocused the debate for reform to give traditional owners greater rights.

The activist group also claims the Canadian project is likely to become a stranded asset, as the global clean energy transition moves away from oil and gas and comes as NAB is re-evaluating its position on the sector.

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald reported in June that NAB chief executive Ross McEwan had pledged to consider the International Energy Agency report released this year, that claimed no new fossil fuel projects could be funded if net zero emissions by 2050 is to be achieved, in an email to the Australian Conservation Foundation.

NAB’s senior leadership was due to review the bank’s oil and gas policy in September, with an updated statement to be released by the end of the year. NAB has already pledged to fully exit thermal coal investments by 2030, following investor pressure and rising risks attached to the sector.

A NAB spokeswoman said the bank was unable to comment on holdings in Coastal GasLink or whether any new climate policies would cause it to divest.

One senior source within NAB, who could not be named because they were not authorised to speak publicly, said the new policy was not likely to include blanket bans against the sector but rather an increasingly detailed focus on heavy emitters’ plans to decarbonise. “I think the theme will be, we’re not denying finance, we need to align with our heavy emitters, hold them to account, have tough conversations,” the source said. “Most importantly we will be actively working with our emitting clients to make sure they are on the right pathway.”


Greenhouse gas dispute

On Sunday, the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reductions Angus Taylor presented the Nationals with the government’s plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the compounds such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide which contribute to global warming and help trigger climate change.

Under the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, Australia promised to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.

There were two main components to the government’s plan on Sunday – bringing emissions to net zero by 2050, and increasing our 2030 target.

While there were hopes the Sunday meeting would complete negotiations, after four hours this proved not to be the case, with the Nationals presenting a host of objections.

On Tuesday the Prime Minister told parliament Australia would not be updating its 2030 emissions goal.

He has also said the 2050 net zero goal will become a decision for national cabinet, rather than the Coalition party room.

The Nationals expressed a range of objections, chiefly about the impact of net zero policies on the regions and wanting increased support for existing high-emitting fossil fuel industries such as coal and gas.

A number of Nationals also want the government to explore the possibility of Australia developing nuclear power.

There is also an historical element to the Nationals’ discontent. When John Howard signed the Kyoto Protocol (the forerunner to the Paris Agreement) in 1997, it prompted state and territory governments to ban land clearing.

This measure is regarded as the primary factor that’s enabled Australia to reduce its emissions by around 20 per cent already, as the uncleared land effectively retains carbon in vegetation, which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

But many farmers say clearing bans have prevented them from making a decent profit from their land, so there is a sentiment that people in the regions should not be further burdened by further emissions cuts.

There are huge divisions. Some MPs, such as former leader Michael McCormack and Darren Chester, now cautiously support net zero as a global economic and environmental necessity (Mr McCormack was previously opposed).

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud sees himself as something of a centrist on the issue, telling reporters this week that “zealots from both sides need to bugger off”.

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan is perhaps the most hard line opponent, and has threatened to cross the floor if any net zero legislation is to come before parliament.

He has also raised concerns about the lack of detail in the government’s modelling and called for it to be made public. “We’re getting very little details about this and I’m in a position of being asked to marry a girl I haven’t met. That’s not how the Nationals party room works,” he said this week.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has himself been a fierce critic of net zero in the past but has cast himself as a broker. On Tuesday he said he would be seeking further input from Nationals MPs over coming days, and he would communicate them to the Prime Minister.

The latest quarterly figures from the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory show Australia has reduced its emissions by just over 20 per cent on 2005 levels.

Mr Taylor has said on current projections, Australia could actually end up cutting emissions by around 32-35 per cent by 2030.


Cairns Hospital wait time extends beyond 30 hours for man in emergency department

A GORDONVALE man left waiting over 30 hours for a wound clean and stitches in the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department says he feels “sorry” for staff.

Sunpreet Johal, 24, was driven to the ED by friends, arriving about 1am Sunday following a motorcycle incident which left him with a painful, but non-serious cut to his leg.

Upon arriving he was told he’d have to wait three to four hours because the department was already dealing with a high number of cases.

“I expected three or four hours because it wasn’t serious but a doctor didn’t see me until 6.15am (Monday),” Mr Johal said.

That doctor advised he received an X-ray and then he waited another three hours before seeing an orthopaedic surgeon who advised him his wound would need to be cleaned in an operating theatre before it was patched up.

“He said there was another one or two cases in front and that mine would happen that afternoon. “But then they were dealing with another surgery that took hours. At 4.30pm they said there was an 80-90 per cent chance I would be in (on Monday).”

Mr Johal said he accepted his injury was not serious but was “not thinking I’d be here 24 hours later let alone almost 36.”

He said staff had been as attentive as possible and he was more “annoyed at the situation they were in.”

“The surgeon actually took time to see me a couple of times and explained he was really sorry. He basically said they had been really busy and just didn’t have the manpower.

“He said a few times, if I was anywhere else like Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, I would’ve been out in three or four hours with this injury.”

Mr Johal’s procedure was completed about 11am Monday and he was discharged later that afternoon.

Together Union Queensland’s senior vice president Dr Sandy Donald said Mr Johal’s case highlighted the importance of the organisation’s recently launched “Health Needs Urgent Care” campaign.

Dr Donald said that meant funding to increase hospital beds as well as community services. “The capacity of the hospital has not grown to meet the increase in demand,” he said.

“When the ED is having long delays most of the problems are around bed numbers. It can mean there are patients there who really should be in a ward, but the ward doesn’t have enough beds.

“We commonly see patients taking up a hospital bed because a nursing home doesn’t have the appropriate staffing mix.

“But increasing community support services will keep some patients out of hospital and allow others to get home sooner (and free up beds).”

CHHHS acting executive director Cairns services Marie Kelly said there were 242 presentations to the ED on October 17, compared to the average this year for a Sunday being 235. “He was seen within seven minutes, compared to the average waiting time in the ED of 16 minutes.

“Mr Johal’s surgery was delayed because of a high number of urgent trauma surgeries that required urgent action on Sunday. Despite our hopes that Mr Johal would be operated on quickly, we can never predict types of trauma that may arrive at emergency departments at the same time.”


Mike Cannon-Brookes launches world’s largest solar farm in NT

A power cable from Darwin to Singapore sounds very vulnerable to attacks and accidents

Take 125 square kilometres of solar panels, a battery that’s 150 times bigger than the biggest in the country, three billion people and a giant extension cord. Then call it “Sun Cable”.

It sounds like a sci-fi scheme cooked up by a Bond villain. In fact it is Mike Cannon-Brookes’ plan to power Asia with energy from the Australian sun and it is fast becoming real.

The Atlassian co-founder and tech guru is an investor in the world’s biggest solar farm in the middle of the Northern Territory and what is literally a giant power cable from the Simpson Desert to Singapore.

Once complete the project will give the 5.5 million-strong island metropolis up to 15 per cent of its total power needs but for Cannon-Brookes that is only the first step.

He says the AAPowerLink project will just be the first of many. He predicts that soon there will be power lines from Australia to all over Asia, selling them our cheap and abundant solar energy.

“Think about it as a giant extension cable that runs from our sunny deserts up to Asia,” Cannon-Brookes said. “There are two or three billion consumers that want cheap energy and want a lot of that energy and we have it and can provide it. “I’m hopeful it’s the first of many, many, many cables that we string across to neighbouring countries.”

If the scale of the ambition seems staggering, that’s because it is. But everything about the Sun Cable project is on a staggering scale.

The initial stage of the project alone involves 5,000 kilometres of power lines stretching from the middle of the NT to Darwin and then 4,200km underwater past the full length of Indonesia to Singapore.

This alone will be the world’s longest High Voltage Direct Current cable system.

There it will provide up to 15 per cent of the island city-state’s electricity needs – all clean, all green and all from a single power plant in Australia.

As well as being the world’s largest solar plant, it will also feature the world’s largest battery, capable of storing 36 to 42 gigawatt hours. By contrast Australia’s so-called “Big Battery” in South Australia is just 129 megawatt hours, currently being expanded by 64.5 MWh.

In other words, when Cannon-Brookes says his is 150 times bigger he is actually underestimating it.

The whole project is expected to cost upwards of $30 billion, with construction to start in 2024. Sun Cable says it will be providing power to Darwin just two years later in 2026 and to Singapore the year after that, with the whole project to be completed by 2028.

If true that would be an astonishingly fast build.

Approximately 2,000 direct jobs are expected to be created in the development, construction and operation alone and over $8 billion of investment is expected to be ploughed directly into Australia.

Once complete the project is expected to generate up to $2 billion in energy exports for Australia per year.

As well as being a cheap energy source for the giant Asian market, it will also flood the Australian market with cheap energy, starting with far cheaper rates in the NT.

“Australia should have the cheapest power on the planet,” Cannon-Brookes said. “We have so many resources opportunities in our sun and wind. We are the lucky country in terms of where we sit geographically in the world and our natural resources when it comes to renewables. “We can turn that into by far the cheapest energy anywhere in the world – which we should have, by rights.”

And when it comes to exports, Cannon-Brookes said Australia had all the ingredients needed to be an energy superpower.

“We have, as I mentioned, these two to three billion consumers to the north of us who are rapidly coming up the economic curve and what happens when a country gets wealthier is its average salary goes up and its energy consumption also goes up, and energy consumption goes up faster than salary,” he said.

“And so that is the market for it. Think about us creating this energy and then we have that market right up close to us.

“That is just a beautiful position to be in, and we should take advantage of that. I would say it’s the biggest economic opportunity than Australia has ever seen. It’s such an amazingly large opportunity.”




Tuesday, October 19, 2021

JobKeeper payments made to school linked to ‘extremist cult’

The Left have hated the Brethren ever since they advertised in favour of John Howard in 2004. EVERY other religion at that time advocated for the Labor party. Howard won that election in a landslide.

The Brethren are very Bible-based. Their talk about being separate from "the world" is straight from the words of Jesus Christ. e.g. John 15: 18,19. Jesus would be called a cultist by some if he were alive today. The Sanhedrin certainly saw him that way

A private school linked to the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, a group once described as an “extremist cult” by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, has received an estimated $9 million in JobKeeper payments.

In addition, the OneSchool Global network, which provides education for the children of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church members from the ages of eight to 18 years, also received $34 million in federal and state government grants last year, or about $16,000 per student.

The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church was established in the early 19th century in southern England and is now led by multi-millionaire Sydney businessman Bruce D. Hales, who is known by his congregation as the Elect Vessel, or the Man of God. It follows a strict doctrine, known as “separation”, under which church members are discouraged, on pain of excommunication, from eating, drinking, forming friendships or communicating with outsiders, except to do business with them.

They aim to live a life apart from worldly pleasures and associations, refer to themselves as the “saints” and to outsiders as “worldlies”.

However, under another doctrine called “spoiling the Egyptians”, the church is also assiduous about seeking as much public funding as is legally available. In 2004, Mr Hales told his global flock: “You charge the highest possible price to the worldly people. That’s the way to get ahead, I mean, materially, you’ve got to spoil the Egyptians. It doesn’t belong to them anyhow, so we’ve just got to relieve them of it!”

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have retrieved the accounts of the OneSchool Global network that operates 31 schools across six states, and has 2413 students. Children under the age of eight attend government schools.

In the year to December 31, 2020, OneSchool Global declared a total of $13.3 million in “other revenue, JobKeeper and cash-flow boosts”. It’s estimated that almost $9 million of that is stimulus payments, such as JobKeeper.

A OneSchool Global spokesman said 70 per cent of the schools’ operation costs were staff wages. “The COVID-19 pandemic impacted on the schools’ revenue base,” the spokesman said. “The schools were eligible for, and complied with, all the obligations set out by the government in relation to the JobKeeper program.”

The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, which was once known as the Exclusive Brethren, has been the subject of intense scrutiny and controversy over the past two decades because of its alleged treatment of former members, and also accusations that some of its members have been involved in campaigns against political parties, even though its members are not allowed to vote.

They grew close to former prime minister John Howard, and visited him in his office before the 2007 election, while Mr Rudd criticised the group as an “extremist cult” that “breaks up families”. Some church members who have left the group have also referred to it as a cult.

Members of the church have donated to the Liberal Party, and some members became involved in anti-Green and anti-gay advertising. When Helen Clark was New Zealand’s prime minister, she said members of the group ran a smear campaign against her.

On its website, the church states it has never made political donations nor instructed any of its 15,000 Australian members to be politically active. The church has about 50,000 members worldwide.

However, NSW Liberal Party records seized by the Independent Commission Against Corruption show that in December 2010, dozens of PBCC members donated individual payments of less than the disclosure threshold, which together made up $67,000. The Liberal Party operatives who accepted the donations labelled the sheet recording the payments as having come from “friends”.

OneSchool was one of 700 private schools that were eligible for the federal government’s $89 billion JobKeeper program, which has been controversial. On Monday, the federal Treasury disclosed that $27 billion of JobKeeper payments were to recipients that didn’t experience the requisite 30 per cent decline in turnover.

But in that calculation, the Treasury excluded not-for-profits, new businesses or those too small to submit a quarterly activity statement to the tax office, and subsidiaries of larger businesses. This means the actual payment to businesses that didn’t meet the requirements to be eligible for JobKeeper could have been as much as $40 billion.

According to Australian Tax Office data, 700 private schools received $750 million in JobKeeper payments. Among the many non-government schools that received stimulus payments, including JobKeeper, were Melbourne’s Wesley College which received $18.2 million, and Sydney’s Moriah College, which qualified for $6.8 million.

When students graduate from OneSchool Global, they can enrol at university but only through distance education because they are not permitted to attend campuses in person. Many complete certificate-level courses in office studies and accountancy at school, then typically go to work in businesses run by members of the church.

Businesses run by its members operate in sectors as varied as building, manufacturing and aged care, and according to the church’s website, generate a combined turnover of $22 billion. The church is also linked to a charity, the Rapid Relief Team, which has provided assistance in regional areas in recent years to drought-affected farmers and families affected by bushfires.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown has accused the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church of having a contrived and cruel religious dogma.

The church came to greater public attention during Mr Howard’s prime ministership, after its members spent $370,000 on anti-Greens campaigns at the 2004 election. They also met with then Greens leader Bob Brown after he unsuccessfully called for an inquiry into the group.

In his book Optimism, Mr Brown dedicated a chapter to the PBCC, a group which he wrote had a contrived and cruel religious dogma. He quoted Mr Hales as telling his members: “You come in touch with worldly people, you’ll have some sense of defilement … and you’re in control, you’re superior, I mean morally.”

Mr Brown also wrote of how Mr Hales advised church members to scorn, disdain and hate the principles of the outside world.

In that chapter Mr Brown also told of how he had met several former members who reported harrowing stories of excommunication from the church, including from their spouses, children, siblings, parents and grandparents.

The church has said it follows up on members who decide to leave the congregation.


Education ministers must act on our woke national curriculum

In a matter of weeks, Australia’s nine education ministers will decide the fate of the revised national curriculum released earlier this year for public consultation. The document was roundly condemned for prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and spirituality to the detriment of learning about Western culture and Judeo-Christianity.

The history framework, in particular, was criticised for presenting a black armband view of Australia’s origins and development as a nation, with European settlement described as an invasion leading to genocide and society and its institutions as inherently racist.

There is no question about the importance of studying Indigenous history and culture. Of all the lessons to be learned from Australia’s oldest settlers, top of the list must surely be a profound respect for passing on the knowledge and wisdom of the elders. The Indigenous tradition of oral history epitomises the sense of belonging and purpose that humans gain from understanding the past, particularly as they deal with the present and make decisions about the future.

Such is the significance of these links across the ages that Australia’s national curriculum includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures as one of three cross-curricular priorities that all teachers must emphasise in the classroom.

All teachers are instructed to provide “opportunities for all students to deepen their knowledge of Australia by engaging with the world’s oldest continuous living cultures” and learning about “the significant contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ histories and cultures on a local, national and global scale”. These opportunities are reinforced in every learning area (English, Mathematics, Science, History and so on) across the curriculum.

Where the revised curriculum is flawed and open to attack is its failure to provide a similar sustained focus on the nation’s Western heritage. There is no equivalent cross-curricular priority requiring primary and secondary teachers to ‘engage’ with the evolution of Western culture since ancient times, ensuring that all students develop a shared, objective understanding of the origins of Australia’s liberal democratic values and practices.

On the contrary, the lack of curricular alignment and intellectual cohesion of the key elements of the curriculum that reflect Western civilisation – English, History, Civics and Citizenship, the Arts and others – is striking. In addition, while students are asked to study Indigenous spirituality in detail, the curriculum ignores the enduring significance of Judeo-Christian traditions, especially where these have uniquely and powerfully informed our modern concepts of equality, tolerance, justice and the rule of law, and individual freedom.

One of the key documents guiding the current review states the Australian Curriculum “must ensure young people have a good understanding of the nature of Australian society within which they will be living and working as adults. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and perspectives are an important part of the development of our nation, as are the traditions and values of what is often referred to as ‘Western society’.”

Not only does the phrase “what is often referred to as Western society’” signal a qualified and uncertain view of what constitutes the West’s culture and way of life, it also reduces thousands of years of extraordinary philosophical, creative, scientific, religious, economic and other developments to a minor event in history. It is difficult to see how the proposed curriculum can fulfil the goal of producing ‘active and informed’ citizens.

The move to de-colonise the curriculum and cancel what Woke activists describe as ‘Eurocentrism’ and ‘whiteness’ partly explains why the curriculum is so jaundiced and politically correct. Also influential is the ever increasing emphasis on 21st Century learning given the increasing rate of technological, medical, scientific and societal change.

The panel responsible for investigating Australia’s senior school (Years 11 and 12) curriculum and pathways has produced a report titled Looking to the Future. The Chair, Dr Peter Shergold, says “the panel’s view is that we have to design our education system to prepare young people for their future rather than for our past”.

To justify the argument that studying the past is of declining value, those responsible for the report quote American educationalist John Dewey’s assertion that “The world is moving at a tremendous rate; going no one knows where. We must prepare our children, not for the world of the past, not for our world, but for their world – the world of the future”.

The OECD’s Education 2030 Program, to which Australia’s national curriculum body ACARA contributes, puts a similar case about cancelling the past and prioritising the future. The world is “rapidly changing” and we now live in a world characterised by “a new explosion of scientific knowledge” and “complex societal problems”.

The globalist groupthink pushed by the Paris-based bureaucrats purports to prepare students “for jobs that have not yet been created, for technologies that have not yet been invented, to solve problems that have not yet been anticipated”.

Associated with this futurist perspective is the argument that knowledge acquisition is secondary to developing 21st century skills and competencies such as critical thinking, working in teams and embracing diversity and difference. Students are encouraged to see themselves as global citizens dedicated to “transforming society and shaping the future”.

This worldview is strongly represented in the draft Australian Curriculum. It holds that all students should take on responsibility for solving problems in an unprecedentedly uncertain and volatile global environment.

The net effect is that nation-building is no longer emphasised, a concept diminished by a curriculum that fails to give students a clear idea of what it means to be an Australian citizen and what is most valued about our institutions and way of life.


No climate duty for Ley, court told

Extremist judge Mordecai Bromberg strikes again. He was the judge who convicted Andrew Bolt for saying that white "Aborigines" were in it for the money and perks. Not much respect for free speech from Mordy. This time his biased judgment was overturned

Environment Minister Sussan Ley is appealing a Federal Court declaration that she has a duty of care to protect children from future personal injury caused by climate change.

At the outset of the three-day appeal hearing, Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue QC argued the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is not predominantly about the interests of humans or the environment generally.

The EPBC Act is really only concerned with environmental issues that enliven commonwealth powers, he argued, and should not be co-opted to serve the "collateral purpose" of establishing a duty of care.

Eight children took action against Ms Ley in 2020, challenging an expansion to the Vickery coal mine project in NSW.

Justice Mordecai Bromberg ruled that Ms Ley owed a duty to all Australian children when exercising her legislative decision-making powers regarding the mine.

One of the children who brought the case, 17-year-old Anjali Sharma, said on Monday the federal government continues to deflect responsibility for worsening climate change risks.

"We will proudly defend the historic ruling that all Australian children are owed a 'duty of care' by our government, and fight to protect my generation from the increasing risks of climate change," she said in a statement.

The Vickery project was approved previously by NSW's Independent Planning Commission and would result in 100 million additional tonnes of carbon emissions.

But Mr Donaghue said the issue of greenhouse gas emissions was not relevant to the EPBC Act, noting the mine did not require approval under the act when it first opened.

He also said the duty of care established by Justice Bromberg's ruling did not give sufficient weight to constitutional issues and was based on an incorrect conclusion.

Argument in the appeal before Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Jonathan Beach and Justice Michael Wheelahan is expected to continue for two more days.


Extinction Rebellion protest against Environmental Minister Susan Ley with fake ‘corpses’

Extinction Rebellion protesters dressed in black and carried fake ‘corpses’ through Brisbane’s CBD on Tuesday morning in a ‘duty of care’ protest against Environmental Minister Susan Ley.

Four protesters were arrested for public nuisance after glueing their hands to the ground. Police used syringes filled with acetate to un-glue all four of the protesters from Queen Street Mall. They were then taken from the scene in police vans.

The demonstrators claim the corpses represent 10,000 premature lives to draw attention to Environment Minister Susan Ley’s appeal of a Federal Court’s declaration that she has a duty of care to protect children from future personal injury caused by climate change.

Ms Pestorius said that doctors and health physicians were amongst those who gathered on Tuesday morning. “They are concerned over the amount of Co2 going into the atmosphere and the impact on people’s health.”

She said that the emissions from the three extra mines recently approved by the Federal Government will cause anywhere been 130,000-170,000 premature deaths.