Friday, November 22, 2019

Children who start school later gain advantage, new study shows (?)

The paper underlying this report does not yet appear to be online but the Centre seems very Leftist so the research is unlikely to be very rigorous.

Even the report below does however reveal a lack of rigour.  It is apparently based on the nonsensical "all men are equal" dogma.  No attempt is made to take account of student IQ. High IQ students have often been shown to thrive when enrolled early and the usual squawk about their social fitness has been shown to be a snark.  Smart kids are in general better socially as well as academically

So the study tells us nothing certain.  There were presumably a number of low IQ students in the sample who would benefit from a late start.  So the finding of an overall benefit from a late start could be entirely a product of the low IQ element in the sample.  How students of around average IQ fare is simply not addressed

Children who are held back and start school later than their peers gain an advantage that is still felt up to six decades later, a new study shows.

They are more self-confident, resilient, competitive and trusting, which tends to be associated with economic success.

The analysis of 1007 adults aged between 24 and 60 illustrates the “potential adverse effect of school entry rules,” lead author Lionel Page from the University of Technology, Sydney said.

“Our findings indicate that school entry rules influence the formation of behavioural traits, creating long-lasting disparities between individuals born on different sides of the cut-off date,” he said.

School starting ages vary between Australian states. In Victoria, children starting school must turn five by April 30 in the year they start school, whereas in Queensland and Western Australia the cut-off is June 30. In South Australia,, they must be five by May 1 and in Tasmania they must be five by January 1.

Dr Page said the study’s findings suggested the relative age at school had an impact on people’s success in adulthood.

“We find that participants who were relatively old in school exhibit higher self-confidence about their performance at an effort task compared to those who were relatively young,” he said.

“Moreover, they declare being more tolerant to risk in a range of real-life situations and trusting of other people in social interactions.

“Taken together, this set of results offers important insights on the long-term effects of relative age at school on behavioural traits.”

The new study was published by the Life Course Centre, a joint research project between the federal government and the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia.

It involved adults from Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.

The findings come as a UNSW study found a quarter of students are held back so they start school when turning six, not when they turn five.


‘Offensive and wrong’: Proud Baby Boomers hit back

I commented on this issue yesterday

How sad it is to see yet another economist joining the “bash-the-Baby-Boomer” bandwagon.

Yesterday, published a piece declaring Baby Boomers to be the “luxury generation”, who have “a sweet ride on a gravy train consisting of franking credits and loopholes in superannuation and pension rules”.

There has to be smarter and kinder way to find policies that will take our country forward into continuing economic prosperity without playing the old class warfare or generational warfare cards that so easily divide us.

Many Baby Boomers have long argued for a more balanced tax system but so far none of the political class have had the wit or the courage to make the changes necessary so that everyone from students to nursing home residents would receive a fairer go.

And speaking of fairness, franking credits are frequently raised, as they were in yesterday’s piece, as an example of an unfair policy that largely benefits retirees. But it’s not as simple as that - most simply, franking credits exist to stop tax being paid twice. If a company has already paid tax on its profits, why should its shareholders have to pay again?

Negative gearing is another policy touted to favour older people - but that ignores the fact that negative gearing and investors have driven the surge in Australia’s property market, boosting our economy in the process.

As economists and academics seek to influence the debate about the growing cost of our ageing population they would do well to steer clear of the sort of inflammatory rhetoric that caused such controversy when “smashed avocados on toast” stole the headlines.

For those of us who have worked full-time for more than 40 years and dutifully paid our taxes while raising families, educating children, creating wealth and – by the way – generating decades of sustained economic growth and national good fortune, the idea that we should be tagged the “luxury generation” is offensive and wrong.

If retirees decide to spend some of their hard-earned superannuation savings or a windfall from downsizing on an overseas trip, they should not be vilified by people who feel there is no golden future for them and who would happily sentence their parents’ generation to a life of poverty.

Many older Australians may not have enjoyed overseas trips as they raised their families, paid their mortgages, taxes and super contributions. It would be interesting to see how many overseas holidays have been taken by 25- to 45-year-olds compared with their Baby Boomer parents at the same age.

Here are some of the things that Baby Boomers didn’t have early on, that have made life much better for all Australians since then:

* Free tertiary education, until 1973: The first wave of Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1955 – had to either pay for it themselves with no student loans or else win scholarships that were only available to the few. And there were only a handful of universities, so there were far fewer places.

* Medicare, until Bob Hawke introduced it in 1984.

* Compulsory superannuation – until the Hawke-Keating government introduced it in 1991.

* Easy access to subsidised childcare at regulated childcare centres.

* Flexible working conditions.

* Paid (and unpaid) maternity/parental leave.

* First homebuyer government grants (or, for the most part, the “bank of mum and dad”).

* Anti-discrimination legislation until racial discrimination was outlawed in 1975 and other laws followed on.

* The power to say “no” to military conscription between 1964 and December 1972.

The nation does have an ageing population crisis and successive governments have been warned about it for decades, but what have they done? Answer, very little.

Bob Hawke and Paul Keating gazed into the demographic crystal ball and saw compulsory superannuation as a key component of the solution.

Now we are faced with academics and economists arguing against increasing super to 12 per cent while applying heavier taxes to the national nest egg. If they succeed then the very problem they are concerned about will worsen exponentially.

One way to ease the burden is to keep older Australians in the workforce, but that would involve a total rethink of the ageist policies adopted by both the private and public sectors that openly discriminate against older worker despite the law.

Some enlightened sectors of the economy have come up with ways to keep older workers and their wisdom and experience on the payroll, but sadly most haven’t. Age discrimination is rife.

One of the most bizarre attacks against Boomers involves the family home. It is rare to hear anyone complaining about inheriting a property, whether valuable or quite modest, that was paid for by the sweat and tears of their parents.


Uncaring Australian army top brass

Maybe just another bureaucracy but if he had been female you would never have been able to shut them up about it.  They are very politically "correct" these days and real heroism such as we saw from Ben are old hat or even contemptible in that mindset

The country's most decorated soldier, Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith, has lashed out at the nation's defence chiefs for failing to publicly back him as his reputation and military record suffered sustained attacks over allegations he committed war crimes during his service in Afghanistan.

Mr Roberts-Smith said be had recently been contacted by .the Australian Defence Force to conduct a "welfare check", seven years after he left the army and nearly two years after he first appeared in a series of media reports accusing him of war crimes.

The call came just days after he publicly criticised the leadership of the ADF for failing to look after soldiers after they left the military.

Mr Roberts-Smith confirmed he had been contacted by the ADF, telling The Weekend Australian: "While I appreciate the sentiment of a welfare check, it does highlight the issue at hand — it is a reactive step that occurred after my public comments."

Mr Roberts-Smith said the ADF culture "has always been this reactive self-protection from the senior leadership" and criticised the lack of support offered to transitioning Diggers, who were statistically at a higher risk of suicide after they left the military.

Mr Roberts-Smith is locked in a personal battle to clear his reputation after being accused of war crimes in a series of stories by Nine Media. He is also being investigated by the Australian Federal Police over a possible war crime committed in the Afghan village of Daman in 2012.

Mr Roberts-Smith vehemently denies any wrongdoing and is suing Fairfax Media, now owned by Nine, over the stories. He said he was loathe to compare his own troubles with those of struggling former soldiers, who he said were at greater risk. But he noted that at no point had his former bosses offered any public comment of support; despite the allegations against him being unproven.

"Given the public scrutiny I've faced and the false accusations made against me, I would have assumed the Defence Force, which created my profile and placed me on a pedestal in the public arena, would have made some public comment about my good character and service given that at no stage have I ever been approached by law enforcement," Mr Roberts-Smith said.

Mr Roberts-Smith clarified he was. not calling for Defence chiefs to be sacked after being quoted on Friday morning saying he "absolutely" believed new leadership was needed at the top of the ADF.

National president of the RSL Greg Melick said there was no need for ADF leadership to step down because of their treatment of veterans. Mr Melick said if this was the view of Mr Roberts-Smith, then "I don't agree with him".

From the "Weekend Australian" of 16/11/19

Leaked emails show ABC journalists conspiring on Global Warming

Leaked emails have shown ABC journalists and producers conspiring together behind closed doors to push an ideological line on Global warming.

The first leaked email was sent on Sunday to journalists at the taxpayer funded public broadcaster by Melbourne executive producer Barbara Heggen. Heggen wrote that she was inquiring after “interest in an ABC-staff climate crisis advisory group”. The purpose of this new group was to “gather together the brains trust of the ABC staffers to develop ways to report on and inform Australians about the climate crisis using a solutions journalism approach”  and “to report back to ABC management our ideas and strategies for responding to the climate crisis both internally and externally”.

For those unaware, Ms Heggen is the woman responsible for such sterling journalism as this article discussing the possibility of fleeing to Tasmania to escape climate change and this radio segment talking about whether or not Australians should stop having children to save the planet.

The “Solutions journalism approach” she advocates is a theory of journalism developed in the late 90s which suggested that journalists shouldn’t simply report the facts but should suggest “solutions” to social problems. How this fits in with the obligations of the ABC charter is of course an interesting question.

Barbara’s friends and colleagues were excited at the prospect of what would effectively be an internal lobby group inside the ABC pushing for even more extreme alarmism and bias than currently. The ABC’s national rural reporter, Dominique Schwartz replied: “I’m keen. I have just been looking into how other media organisations are dealing with coverage of climate change.”

Investigative reporter Stephen Long agreed: “Also keen to discuss this. You should be aware also that [Editorial Policies] is having a look at this issue.” To get an insight into Stephen’s view on the matter one only needs to peruse the over two dozen articles he’s written slamming the proposed Adani coal mine, plus his other articles spruiking the benefits of renewables and downplaying the threat of blackouts caused by them.

ABC PM Presenter Linda Mottram also agreed: “We must report established science, the evidence, and not myth.” Presumably when Ms Mottram is speaking of reporting “evidence” instead of “myth” she’s referring to stories such as the one from earlier this month where the ABC breathlessly announced that 11,000 scientists were “declaring a climate emergency. The ABC of course neglected to mention during this “evidence” based reporting that many of the signatures were obviously false and that one of the signatories was a Professor “Mickey Mouse”.

I guess if they want to improve their “evidence” based reporting they can always give Tim Flannery another bag full of money to film yet another series. Maybe this time he can expand on his belief in a Gaia-like earth spirit.

The ABC receives over a billion dollars a year of taxpayer funds. If its journalists weren’t publicly funded then these leaked emails showing them conspiring to slant coverage behind closed doors would be annoying; but as an organisation funded by involuntary contributions of taxpayers it’s enraging.

The ABC will never reform unless it is under the threat of complete defunding. The time to start threatening that defunding is now.


‘Inside’ the ABC’s climate group

Alas, the latest ABC staff-initiated brainchild is no more. As revealed on Monday through emails obtained by The Australian, senior journalists at Aunty had discussed establishing an “ABC-Staff climate crisis advisory group” to “report back to ABC management our ideas and strategies for responding to the climate crisis both internally and externally”.

ABC producer and presenter Barbara Heggen had made the proposal, suggesting a “solutions journalism approach”. ABC Melbourne journalist Karen Percy described it as “a fabulous idea,” national rural and regional correspondent Dominique Schwartz said she was “keen”. Senior journalist Linda Mottram said it was a “great idea”, also speaking of the “need (for) constant reminders that we must report established science, the evidence, and not myth”. Incidentally, Mottram’s ABC bio notes “Most recently she has taken a strong interest in editorial training at the ABC”.

The Institute of Public Affairs director of policy Gideon Rozner summed it up best. “Because if there’s a gap in ABC coverage, it’s climate change,” he quipped. As noted by The Australian’s media editor, Leo Shanahan, ABC policies require that “editorial decisions are not improperly influenced by political, sectional, commercial or personal interests”.

Yesterday ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose put the kybosh on these journalists come crisis activists, stating “it was one of those ideas that is not going to happen.”


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

Thursday, November 21, 2019

An addled attack on the elderly

The comments below were front-paged on some News Corp sites on 20/11/19.  They are all the more disgraceful for coming from an economist, Jason Murphy, -- who should know better. They are just an attempt to stir up hatred of the elderly. One gathers Jason is a rather young economist.

His little trick is to refer to people in their 60s and 70s as "Baby Boomers".  But let's call a spade a spade and refer to them as elderly.

He says that the elderly are on a gravy train.  Lots of men die in their '60s. Is that a gravy train?  Their widows certainly don't think so. Those who do not die very often develop health problems.  Is bad health a gravy train?

He talks of franking credits as gravy but that is just a Leftist smear put about by socialist failure Bill Shorten.  Franking credits are a refund of overpaid tax, nothing more, nothing less. And the system was devised in 1987 by Paul Keating, no friend of the rich

And is superannuation gravy?  It reduces payments to pensioners.  Is that gravy?

And elderly people on holiday are apparently particularly reprehensible. But many of them are people who took very little in holidays so that they could save up to have one big holiday after retirement, when they would be relaxed enough and have time enough to enjoy it fully.  Is postponing your holidays gravy?

It is true that for many elderly the family home is rather empty after the children have moved out but the owners concerned spent many years paying off a mortgage to have that home.  Should they be denied what they sacrificed for? Should they be denied a bit of ease and comfort after many years of scrimping.  Is scrimping and saving gravy?

And the family home is often retained as a place of refuge if any of the children get into financial or other trouble. The home really is retained "for the children". It is an important fall-back option in times of trouble.  Is it gravy to provide that?  Or should it be only the taxpayer that provides for people in strife?

The writer also says we should have a resources tax.  Julia Gillard could tell you about that idea.

Australia’s Treasurer has been out and about this week justifying the need for a surplus by talking about the “economic time bomb” that is our ageing population.

Yesterday, Josh Frydenberg told young people they will have to pay for the retirement of the old as we have fewer and fewer working age Australians to support each old one.

It was an impassioned speech, but it ignored one key thing — Baby Boomers, aged 55-75, have a sweet ride on a gravy train consisting of franking credits and loopholes in superannuation and pension rules.

Australian households aged over 65 have 2.5 times as many assets and 16 per cent as many liabilities as those aged 25-34, according to official data.

Their average net worth is about $1.4 million.

But there’s no urgency whatsoever from the Treasurer to tax them more fairly. He’s let a hundred terrific opportunities go by to tighten the screws on Australia’s luxury generation, from franking credits, to the pension age, to superannuation.

The older generation is all over Facebook these days and they’re filling it up with holiday photos from yet another terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean or the Adriatic coast.

As we glumly scroll past them, we have a right to feel aggrieved to hear the fiscal obligation of Australia is ours.

Younger Australians should utterly reject the false burden being placed on their shoulders by a Treasurer too gutless to tax the boomers fairly.

“If we don’t remain fiscally disciplined today, the next generation will have to pick up the bill tomorrow,” he told the Business Council yesterday.

This is the line Mr Frydenberg is pushing as he seeks to justify his surplus. It seems so simple. Almost a truism.

But it disguises a set of entirely optional choices that helps one generation live in near empty multimillion-dollar homes and collect the pension, while many in the younger generations are locked out of the housing market and paying off enormous higher education debts.

Both parts of the seemingly benign statement involve pain falling on younger generations. Fiscal discipline falls principally on the young, while the boomer cohort romp merrily through a world of superannuation tax discounts and pensions that rise faster than inflation.

The Treasurer is talking about putting older Australians to work. But don’t assume this means bringing the current crop of older Australians out of retirement. He’s not talking about the current retired generation. He’s talking about making people work longer in future, i.e. just another way to make the burden of today’s generosity fall on a younger cohort.

Four times the Government has made choices that could have evened up the burden and saved the Budget.

For example, Australians of pension age face a “means test” that determines if they are eligible to collect the pension. It determines if they have “the means” to look after themselves — after all, it doesn’t make sense to give the pension to a retiree with $2 million in cash and shares. But the Government chose to leave the principal place of residence out of the means test. A retired couple living in a $2 million home can still collect their combined $1282 a fortnight. (You even hear rumours of people upsizing their home in order to reduce their cash holdings and qualify for the pension.)

The Government has begun a major review process of retirement incomes. But Finance Minister Matthias Corman neutered it before it even got going, promising in October it “will not lead to any change”.

The Government scrapped existing plans to lift the pension age from 67 to 70.

Franking credits, mean if you own shares in a company and you pay no tax, you get a check refunding you for any company tax that company paid. That benefits retirees disproportionately. Labor wanted to change the rules on this at the last election and lost in part because of it.

The electoral mathematics behind these choices are apparent. Younger voters tend not to vote for the Coalition while older voters are more prone to. Polls at some points have shown a dramatic generational divide from 60-40 to Labor among the young (18-24), to 60-40 to Coalition at the other end of the age spectrum (65+).

Of course, while generational war wages, certain corporations are enjoying the fireworks. Boomers might get a nod and a wink from the Treasurer but resources companies get all that and more.

It didn’t have to be a battle between young and old. There are other entities you can tax. Norway socked away $US1 trillion in assets in its sovereign wealth fund by levying taxes on the exploitation of its enormous oil resources.

Australia, you will remember, proposed a resources super profit tax that would have taken the cream off the top of the profits of the massive mining and extraction companies when the price of coal and iron ore were high. Instead those extra profits from digging up Australias dirt resources went to the owners of those companies, many of which are based offshore.

So while the generations go to war, don’t forget that it didn’t have to be this way.


Taxpayers fleeced, betrayed as unis ponder why Christ born a man

Australian universities are abandoning their role as custodians of Western civilisation in favour of a seemingly endless obsession with identity politics.

I wrote recently about the University of Sydney’s Resurgent Racism project, a flagship program that provides taxpayer funds to academics so they can berate Australians for supposedly being racist.

But it is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to taxpayer-funded identity politics research.

A new report by the Institute of Public Affairs has confirmed the extent to which our universities are fixated on class, race and gender — and just how much Australians are paying for it.

The Humanities in Crisis: An Audit of Taxpayer-funded ARC Grants found the Australian Research Council’s national competitive grants program has distributed $1.34bn in funding to humanities research since 2002.

These projects cover historical studies, linguistics, cultural studies, human geography, and communication and media studies.

According to the ARC, its purpose is “to grow knowledge and innovation for the benefit of the Australian community”. It also claims “the outcomes of ARC-funded research deliver cultural, economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians”.

So, has the research of the past 17 years done that and helped ensure our success as a prosperous, peaceful and stable nation?

Not quite. What the audit reveals is academics spending millions on projects that are narrow, incomprehensible and reflect the obsession with identity politics, cultural studies, critical theory and radical feminism.

At Macquarie University academics received $391,000 for a historical studies project called Sexing Scholasticism: Gender in Medieval Thought, which explored “medieval theological debates about why it was necessary that Christ was born as a man”.

Academics at the University of Sydney were awarded $735,000 for a cultural studies research project called Reconceiving the Queer Public Sphere: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Same-Sex Couple Domesticity. By “critically analysing queer home life” the project would “transform current understandings of the relation between homosexuality, private life and the public sphere”.

The ARC awarded the University of Melbourne $100,000 for a cultural studies project examining Female Stardom and Gay Subcultural Reception. And James Cook University was given a bumper $2.7m for a cultural studies proposal, How Gender Shapes the World: A Linguistic Perspective, the authors claimed would “enhance our nation’s capacity to interpret and manage gender roles in multicultural contexts”.

The preoccupation with identity politics is especially notable in historical studies.

There have been 616 such research proposals to have received funding since 2002 — with the total cost amounting to $192m.

The most common theme is “identity politics”, with 112 of the proposals focusing on the leitmotivs of class, race and gender.

The second most common theme is “indigenous history and studies”, with 99 projects, while the third most common, “war and conflict” attracted 88 proposals. In contrast, there are only three research projects that talk about the rule of law and a solitary proposal examining free speech.

This shows our universities are not interested in the history or values of institutions that are essential to understanding Australia’s present and shaping its future.

As curators of Western civilisation, academics have a duty to look after some of society’s most valuable material. But two decades of ARC funding shows they are neglecting their duties.

Having bought into the postmodernist notion that Western civilisation is a white patriarchy, they have released themselves from the obligation to study the Western canon. Aristotle’s thoughts on the meaning of tragedy are apparently irrelevant, as are Shakespeare’s observations of human nature and John Stuart Mill’s views on democracy. There is a great deal that universities could pick up from Machiavelli when it comes to the problem of free speech on campus.

Today’s academics mostly believe there is nothing we can learn from the 2500 years of accumulated wisdom and knowledge passed down to us by those who have lived before us. This arrogance was articulated by academics at the University of Sydney when they rejected the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation’s proposed curriculum, which at the time was derided as “structurally, institutionally, morally and epistemically violent to other knowledges” and summarily dismissed as “white supremacy writ large”.

By rejecting the Western canon, academics not only are depriving university students of their dues but they also are depriving us all of the intellectual and moral nourishment that only the humanities can provide. Academics are no longer interested in properly feeding the society that ultimately feeds them.


Big blow to animal activists

CONTROVERSIAL animal activists Aussie Farms — which Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled "grubs" for publishing an interactive map showing farms and abattoirs — have had their charity status revoked.

It comes after the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission was urged by the Federal Government to launch an investigation into the group last year. The Aussie Farms website sparked Outrage and calls for trespass laws to be strengthened when it provided the exact location of farming properties and encouraged vegans and activists to upload photos of what they believed was cruelty to animals.

In days of action earlier this year, activists stormed properties, sparking concerns there could be retaliation by land-holders at the end of their tether.

Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters Zed Seselja told The Courier-Mail that he welcomed the decision. "The Government recognises the special place that charities occupy in Australia, and it is important that charities recognise their privileged position and do not take advantage of it," Senator Seselja said.

Without charity status Aussie Farms loses its tax concessions endorsement, including income tax exemption, GST concessions and FBT concessions.

From the Courier Mail of 19/11/19

Religious freedom bill: Christian Porter expands bill to protect hospitals, aged care providers

Christian Porter will grant religious hospitals and aged-care providers the same protections as faith-based schools and organisations to employ staff according to their beliefs in his final religious discrimination bill.

Speaking at the National Press Club on Wednesday, the Attorney-General confirmed he will apply the same level of protections for religious health and aged-care companies, which were not included in the draft bill released on August 29.

Mr Porter, who has held two-hour consultation meetings with more than 90 stakeholder groups since releasing the draft legislation, said religious hospitals and aged care providers should have the “ability to take into account religion in staffing decisions”.

He said religious hospitals and aged care operators had stressed the importance of retaining a “religious ethos and culture” within their organisations and had “reasonably sought an exception to the general prohibition on religious discrimination in employment that allows them to make staffing decisions in accordance with their faith”.

“The religious hospitals and aged care providers themselves recognise that competing objectives of providing access to health services and maintaining a faith-based identity must be reconciled, and seek to maintain the balanced position they themselves have arrived at reflected in the bill,” Mr Porter said.

“In the Bill that will be introduced, I can flag that one significant change from its first draft will be that religious hospitals and aged-care providers will be given protections equivalent to those given to other religious bodies, in relation to employment of staff.”

Mr Porter said consultation with religious hospitals and aged care providers had made clear that they do not “make decisions about the admission of patients based on any given patient’s religion or absence of religion, and do not seek to do so”.

“Likewise for aged care providers (with very few exceptions) they do not appear to consider religion or lack of religion before making a decision to accommodate a person,” he said.

No deadline for final vote as Senate inquiry looms

Mr Porter, who will table his final bill in parliament before December 5, confirmed he had no deadline for a final vote in parliament to push through the religious discrimination bill.

The Australian understands the legislation is likely to be referred to a Senate inquiry, and drag well into next year.

Responding to criticism from the nation’s most powerful religious groups, Mr Porter said he was seeking a “stable result and better outcome than the circumstance we have at the moment”.

“It would be a bad outcome if everyone felt that they got everything that they wanted out of this process. It is ultimately the most grinding process of balance and compromise.”

Mr Porter said he didn’t expect all religious groups and stakeholders to be “deliriously happy” once the process was finalised.

“If you imagine a continuum of happiness that goes from very unhappy to deliriously happy somewhere on that continuum is endorsement. Where while the bill doesn’t do everything that everyone might like, people nevertheless think that it’s at a reasonable point that’s worth supporting.”

Discretion ‘not viewed as discriminatory’

Mr Porter said a “particular challenge in the religious context is freedom of association”.

“Where we seek to protect people from being excluded because of their religion, we equally recognise that for religion to exist at all; religious bodies must be able to maintain a chosen level of exclusivity to their premises or composition or services.”

“For instance a religious school may admit students of many faiths or it may prefer students only of its own faith; but that discretion is not viewed by other faiths as discriminatory because they understand and accept its existential importance to all faiths.”

Mr Porter, tasked by Scott Morrison to deliver the Coalition election pledge to deliver the religious discrimination bill, said the draft legislation had adopted a “broad approach” informed by the exception in section 82 of the Victorian legislation.

“The effect is to preserve the status quo whereby a defined religious body can, in dealing with the exclusivity of its premises or composition or services, apply its own determination of the best application of its own doctrines and beliefs; and does not discriminate by acting in good faith on that basis.”

“So, for example, in Victoria it would not be discriminatory for an Islamic school to decline to employ catholic teachers (or vice versa). Or for the same school to decline to employ an irreligious person.

“For the avoidance of any doubt it cannot be stressed enough that this type of exception for religious bodies applies only in respect of decisions on matters of religious doctrine that pertain to people of different religious beliefs.”

Mr Porter confirmed his bill did not “affect the current exemptions that exist for religious bodies within other Discrimination Acts, at either State or Commonwealth level”, which has attracted criticism from religious and other groups in their submissions to the Attorney-General’s Department.

‘People will disagree’

He said religious groups had stressed to him during the consultation process that the “definition of religious body is important because of the reasonable autonomy it provides any organisation that falls inside its ambit”.

“One thing is clear, people will disagree on which rights are more important than others and where to draw the lines between them. Consultations, while constructive, inevitably end at a point where it is factually obvious that freedoms collide.”

“The unavoidable fact is that the colliding nature of rights means there is simply no way to exhaustively define their boundaries with each other in a way that sees them perfectly contour with neighbouring rights.”

Mr Porter said freedoms to associate would need to be balanced “against the right for individuals to access places and institutions free from the arbitrary exclusion of others”.

“In a structural sense the four existing Commonwealth Discrimination Acts dealing with race, sex, disability and age actually give expression to the most traditional conception of rights.” “That laws should protect us from others infringing on our natural rights as far as is reasonable.”

He said a balance needed to be struck “between anti-discrimination clauses of any type and other rights including rights to free expression and free association”.


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

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Is God punishing Australia with drought and bushfires?

As an atheist, I cannot agree with that.  But in Australia you are allowed to say that, despite much condemnation. See Israel Folau's words below.  His beliefs are part of a resilient Christian tradition that sees God's hands in earthly events.  Many Christians do, for instance, see God's protective hand in their own lives.  And that is a great source of comfort and reassurance to them.

And seeing Bible passages as prophetic of world events is also common.  Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists have been doing so for well over hundred years -- and there is always some fervent Christian somewhere doing it. Seeing the book of Daniel as prophetic is particularly common.  So what Folau is saying is simply one part of the Christian tradition, a part that is evidence of a fervent Christian committment.

Even Jesus did it. His words in Matthew 24 are usually seen by Christians as prophetic of the Roman invasion of Jerusalem

Sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau’s claim the bushfires that have devastated Australia and left six dead are God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage has sparked a furious reaction.

Dumped by Rugby Australia after warning homosexuals and other sinners they will go to hell unless they repent, Folau has doubled down on the stance in a video sermon posted to the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney.

During the 10-minute recording, the 30-year-old says the timing of the bushfire crisis is no coincidence but only a taste of God’s judgment should nothing change.

“I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts,” he says.

He then reads from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”

“The events that have happened here in Australia, in the last couple of years – God’s word says for a man and a woman to be together … they’ve come and changed this law,” he says.

“Abortion, it’s OK now to murder, kill infants, unborn children.”

Folau says he believes the scripture is talking to Australia. “Look how rapid these bushfires these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not?

“God is speaking to you guys. Australia you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in and quickly denounced the comments from Folau. “I thought these were appallingly insensitive comments,” Morrison said.

“They were appalling comments and he is a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burnt down.

Folau says he is sharing the message “out of love” but he stirred up a hornet’s nest as his comments were picked up by news outlets across the world.

Anglican minister Peter Kurti said Folau was wrong. “If God really was going to punish us for changing the law on abortion (and) changing the law on marriage, it’s the Parliament House in Macquarie St and the Parliament House in Canberra that should have been the target of God’s wrath — not the mid-north coast and south Queendland,” he told Sky News. “If God was angry, God’s aim was off.

“These are outrageous views and they are up there with the religious fanaticism of the Greens. But … we live in a free country and if this is what Israel Folau believes — and he’s not a politician, he’s not voting resources … he’s a preacher talking to his congregation — surely in Australia we want to defend his right to do so even though we can think the views he expresses are completely wrong and offensive.”


Blackouts risk to force states’ hand on coal

Blackouts particularly likely in "Green" Victoria

Energy Minister Angus Taylor will demand tougher energy ­reliability standards in a move that could trigger legal obligations on major retailers in some states, including Victoria, to source more power from coal, gas and hydro.

The intervention comes with the market regulator already warning of blackouts this summer in Victoria, which is under pressure to meet the current standard and will likely be forced to again seek emergency reserves during periods of high demand, with 1.3 million households forecast to be at risk of power outages.

Mr Taylor told The Australian that he would be asking for agreement on the tougher standards at a Council of Australian Governments meeting of his state and territory counterparts on Friday.

Victoria, which has placed a strong focus on renewables, has said it would agree to revised standards but wants to include a strategic reserve. The federal government claims this would risk pushing up prices.

Mr Taylor said the current reliability standard was too weak.

According to the Australian Energy Market Operator, under a revised standard Victoria would have a capacity shortfall of more than 435MW — the equivalent of a new gas-fired power plant — triggering a mechanism called the retail reliability obligation (RRO), which requires retail electricity companies to hold contracts or ­invest in generation to maintain reliability. South Australia is also likely to suffer supply issues this summer although it has moved to increase gas generation following statewide blackouts in 2017.

“As an energy minister with a strong focus on reliability and the price impacts of a shortage of ­reliable generation, I can tell you my tolerance is tested,” Mr Taylor will say in a speech to an energy summit in Sydney on Tuesday.

“Over the last year, my view has hardened. My view is that we haven’t got the reliability standard right. The system inherently ­accepts too much risk and relies on too many contingencies.

“In addition, given shortages in supply in many states at crucial times, well-targeted supply should reduce prices. I think we need to strengthen the standards, and quite likely trigger the RRO in a number of jurisdictions. In a world of limited resources, it is clear that Victoria is a state that needs the most reliable investment.

“SA has obviously had challenges but is now on track to recovery, and we’re seeing that in their falling prices. It is also clear that NSW, if not managed properly, could have gone down the wrong path.”

Mr Taylor repeated his claims that the problem was “starkest in Victoria” and said its shortfalls could have national flow-on effects.

He accused Victoria of seeking to blame others for its problems and said the Andrews Labor government had failed to replace ageing infrastructure and address price and reliability issues.

The AEMO had already warned that Victoria was not expected to meet reliability standard this summer. “Most announced new-generation projects are variable renewable energy generators, which often do not generate at full capacity during peak demand or may be positioned in a congested part of the network,” it said. “While providing significant extra energy during many hours of the year, these projects are forecast to only make a limited contribution to meeting demand during peak hours.”


The campus fight over Beijing’s influence

Clashes between pro- and anti-Hong Kong demonstrators have renewed scrutiny over China’s role in western universities

Drew Pavlou is an unlikely threat to the Chinese Communist party. The 20-year-old arts student at Australia’s University of Queensland has never even been to the country. But his decision to organise a campus demonstration in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters has sparked a diplomatic incident between Canberra and Beijing and put him on a collision course with the Chinese authorities.

The July 24 protest turned violent, with clashes between pro- and anti-Beijing students. The organisers were subsequently accused by China’s consul-general in Brisbane, Xu Jie, of being “separatists” and “anti-China activists”.

Mr Pavlou has lodged a police complaint against Mr Xu alleging that the consul-general’s statement exposed the young student to death threats. It claims that the statement is evidence of efforts by Beijing and its network of foreign representatives to silence critics and limit freedom of speech on campuses.

The arts student is also urging the university to close its Confucius Institute, a Chinese language and cultural centre on campus funded by Beijing, and reverse its decision to appoint Mr Xu as an adjunct professor.

A separate legal action lodged by Mr Pavlou against Mr Xu will be heard on November 22 at Brisbane Magistrates Court. The student has asked the court to issue a form of restraining order against Mr Xu that would require him to stop any activity that threatens to cause harm to Mr Pavlou. But the senior Chinese official has not yet said whether he will attend court or defend the action.

The spillover of tensions generated by the Hong Kong protests at colleges in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and elsewhere has intensified a global debate about Beijing’s influence at western universities where annual enrolment of Chinese students doubled to 869,000 in the decade to 2017, according to the Centre for Independent Studies, a Sydney-based think-tank. It is a concern that extends beyond Beijing’s monitoring of its own citizens on overseas campuses: bleeding into areas such as research and development and cyber security.

“Australian academic independence is being bought by the Chinese government,” says Mr Pavlou. “Beijing exercises so much financial leverage over our universities that it can stifle all criticism of the Chinese government on campus.”

The university strongly rejects Mr Pavlou’s criticisms, saying it is committed to free speech and insists its ties with Mr Xu and the Confucius Institute are entirely appropriate. But the violent scenes have alarmed Australia’s conservative government, which rebuked Mr Xu for his comments and has created a foreign interference task force staffed by security service personnel and academics to monitor the university sector.

It is expected to issue guidelines by the end of November on how to strengthen cyber security on campuses, reduce the risk of sensitive military and dual-use intellectual property being obtained by the Chinese government or military, and safeguard academic freedom at colleges.

Canberra’s focus on rooting out foreign influence, first in politics and now universities, has angered Beijing and alarmed some Australian academics, who warn it risks labelling all Chinese students as spies, promoting xenophobia and causing irreparable damage to bilateral relations, with two-way trade worth A$213bn last year. But critics counter that universities are turning a blind eye to Beijing’s alleged interference on campus because the sector has become dependent on Chinese money.

“This is a wake-up call for all of us, whether it be government, the university sector or business,” says Dan Tehan, Australia’s education minister. “We need to understand the best way we can deal with the threat [of foreign interference].”


Revealed: The jobs where graduates are earning six-figure salaries - and the university degrees you SHOULD be studying

Some graduates in Australia are earning six-figure salaries while most workers receive less than average pay rises, new figures show.

Recruitment company Hays's salary guide for 2019-20 has listed pay levels in 24 industries ranging from banking to health care and resources.

While Australia's median salary is stagnating at $55,400, those who have recently completed a university science or engineering bachelor's degree are earning double that.

This is especially so in the mining and oil and gas sectors.

The petroleum engineering and geosciences sector is particularly generous. In the Northern Territory, graduate engineers who specialise in petroleum reservoirs are earning $75,000 to $125,000 before tax.

The Top End of Australia is also paying handsomely to those working in the mining industry.

Graduate geologists specialising in metalliferous mining - the extract of minerals used to make metal - are being paid $85,000 to $100,000 in the NT. In Western Australia, they are earning $85,000 to $105,000.

The petroleum engineering sector is also well-remunerated with graduate geoscientists in the NT earning $70,000 to $110,000.

China's strong demand for iron ore, used to make steel, is also fuelling generous salaries in the mining industry.

Graduate mining engineers are earning $90,000 to $120,000 in WA and $70,000 to $100,000 in the NT.

WA's mineral processing segment of the mining industry is also well-paid, with graduate metallurgists getting $75,000 to $100,000.

By comparison, law graduates working for a small legal practice are receiving $51,000 to $55,000.

Graduate psychologists are getting $45,000 to $55,000 in New South Wales.

Equivalent graduate physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists are receiving slightly more, $50,000 to $57,000 in the same state.

Graduate architects in Sydney, with at least two years' experience, are getting $60,000 to $80,000, which is still less than Australia's average, full-time salary of $82,000.

Australian workers are continuing to see weak pay increases, with average wage levels failing to rise above three per cent since 2013. 


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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Much news from Bettina Arndt (as of 16/11/2019)

Feminist flack misfires

I have been getting no end of flak from feminists over my little post last week, which I wrote after watching hours of media stories showing firefighters battling the blaze engulfing so much of our country.

This is what I said: “Our media is full of images of brave men fighting the ferocious fires. As always, it's usually men who do the really dangerous, difficult work protecting everyone else. Give thanks for the good in men.”

As you can imagine, female commentators everywhere hated my comment. Predictably, The Guardian responded with photos of female firefighters, but somehow failed to mention how many of the 20,000 firefighters involved in the current fires are actually women. I have some firefighters who have written to me who are trying to track down the numbers. Looks like less than 20% of volunteers, and about 5% of professional firefighters. Overwhelmingly male, as expected. 

Hilariously, Moira Rayner, the former Victorian equal opportunity commissioner, retweeted my comment with the caption “That’s a woman firefighter,” referring to the photo I used to accompany my tweet. It was “liked” over 600 times.

“I know my topic,” Rayner told BuzzFeed. “Bettina didn’t and her tweet was presumptuous, disrespectful to the specialist and the countless numbers of local community volunteers, and a little bit foolish.”

Well, then a reporter at BuzzFeed, Cameron Wilson, tracked down the firefighter in my photo, who turned out to be male - Dennis Wamsley, a volunteer with the Gloucester Rural Hearth Brigade.

What a hoot! Moira Rayner has been taking regular, very nasty potshots at me. This former “equal opportunity commissioner” has revealed her true colours, demonstrating why her former organization and others like it, have no interest in justice or fair treatment for men.

Family Court abuses

Exciting interview exposing the truth about our Family Court.

I have a rare interview for you today, with a brave, extraordinarily honest family lawyer from Sydney. I was delighted to discover Ezequiel Trumper, a very experienced lawyer who was willing to tell the truth about what’s going wrong with our Family Court.

In our interview Ezequiel doesn’t hold back. He exposes the way our court system is now weaponized to allow women to use false allegations to destroy men’s relationship with their children. He’s forced to explain to his male clients that they are absolutely up against it. They face a court which won’t enforce its own orders, where parental alienation is rewarded and perjury is rife.

This is a really important interview, particularly in the current climate where so much of mainstream media is pushing the feminist narrative decrying the need for a new inquiry and claiming women never lie.

Here’s the link to the new video -

Please help me do everything possible to get people to see it.

Our mad feminists attract international attention

Robert Franklin from the US-based National Parents Organization has been writing an excellent series of blog posts about the way the Australian feminists are “howling like banshees” over the focus of this new inquiry:

“I’ve read article after article all aimed at the same thing – casting doubt on the latest Australian Governmental review of family law and courts in the Land Down Under. Those who oppose children having full, meaningful relationships with their fathers post-divorce don’t like the new review for the simple reason that they fear the truth may at last come out.”

Franklin points out that the previous review, by the Australian Law Reform Commission, was much more to the feminists liking. He’s written very detailed blogs about what was wrong with that review - and why the women’s groups were so keen on it. Franklin’s forthcoming blog will expose misinformation and distortions included in a dreadful article by Griffith University law lecturer, Zoe Rathus, published recently in The Conversation. Rathus’ title says it all: “Parental alienation: the debunked theory that women lie about violence is still used in court.”

Former WA Law Reform Commissioner, Augusto Zimmerman, has published an excellent Spectator Australia article: "How abuse of violence orders corrupts our family law system". Zimmermann points out there is an undeniable correlation between apprehended orders, false claims of domestic violence, and parental alienation. He mentions an analysis of NSW court files, which reveals that these domestic violence cases, on average, are dealt with in less than three minutes – a shocking statistic proving that absolutely no attempt is made to investigate whether such allegations have any validity. For the woman alleging violence the system is fool proof, with no risk at all that her lies will be exposed.

Comeuppance for Sarah Jane Parkinson’s corrupt boyfriend

Remember the corrupt policeman boyfriend of Sarah Jane Parkinson, who helped stitch up Dan Jones? (Here’s the video I made about Parkinson, who was imprisoned in January for false rape and violence allegations.)

NSW Snr Constable White, now the imprisoned Parkinson’s husband, will appear in the ACT Magistrates Court on Dec 18 on perjury and weapons offences. Let’s hope the sleazebag gets his comeuppance.

Meanwhile, the Jones family is awaiting news regarding Parkinson’s application for early release. The decision of the Sentence Administration Board has been adjourned for a second time as Parkinson tries to manipulate the system yet again.

The family is also no closer in their quest for compensation for the over $350k they spent defending Dan from the false allegations. They have another legal team working on that but face further legal fees. Generous folk might like to contribute to the gofundme fund-raiser.

Via email from Bettina Arndt:

Chemicals in plastic could be harming our health

Groan!  This old scare has so often been debunked in the past that it is a pain to see it still popping up. Briefly, the toxicity is in the dose and the dose people are getting of these two compounds is regularly shown as too low to be harmful

Plastic is everywhere. We use it to carry our food, eat with, we drink out of it, buy our cosmetics in it and even cook with it.

While Australians have embraced plastic and its many uses, there is growing concern about what it’s actually doing to our bodies. has launched its series What a Waste to coincide with Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week, highlighting the impact single-use plastics have on the environment and encouraging readers to reduce their personal waste.

In September, there was a warning about the use of plastic kitchen utensils.

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, which advises the German Government on issues related to product, chemical and food safety, released an advisory that recommended people limit the exposure of their polyamide utensils when dealing with hot food.

It said components called oligomers from plastic cooking spoons, spatulas and whisks could migrate from into food and be eaten.

While these utensils have not been proven to have negative health impacts on humans, the organisation said at high doses the compounds could cause adverse effects in the liver and thyroid.

It recommended consumers keep their utensil’s contact with food as brief as possible, especially at high temperatures above 70C.

There is also growing evidence on the impact of compounds found in plastics on fertility.

Dr Mark Green is a lecturer in reproductive biology and is studying the impacts of certain chemicals on people’s fertility.

He told that chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make some types of plastics, is one of the most studied endocrine disrupting substances.

BPA can be found in takeaway containers, plastic bottles, the lining of takeaway coffee cups as well as polycarbonate (hard) plastics such as baby bottles.

It’s also used in the lining of cans to stop the food coming into contact with the metal, and is even found on the shiny coating of cash register receipts.

BPA is so common, about 95 per cent of people have detectable levels in their urine.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has decided it does not pose a significant human health risk for any age group, despite finding BPA at very low concentrations in some foodstuffs.

Other countries have taken a different stance. France has banned it and the European Union has removed its use in baby bottles.

The Federal Government did announce a voluntary phase-out of baby bottles containing BPA in 2010.

Dr Green said scientists had so far found a “strong correlation” between BPA and obesity, and recent research also suggests it increases people’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

There’s also evidence in fertility clinics that it may affects the number of eggs a woman produces, and there’s an increasing link to miscarriage.

Compounds such as BPA are considered endocrine disrupters and can “mimic” oestrogen, which impacts people’s hormones.

“We have gained a lot of knowledge and data on the effects of BPA from animal studies” Dr Green said.

“But we are never going to run a human study in which we expose people to BPA, as we know how harmful it is, which is why it’s hard to show causality, hence we can only show association.”

Phthalates are another class of chemicals for which there is a growing body of evidence to support detrimental effects on our health. These are used in soft plastic fishing lures, shower curtains, vinyl upholstery, adhesives, floor tiles, food containers and sex toys made of so-called jelly rubber.

It’s also an endocrine disrupter that may impact male fertility, including semen quality and the quantity of damaged DNA in sperm.

Dr Green said a chemical’s impact on the body might vary depending on how long people were exposed to it and how long it’s been in their system.

“It’s very hard to measure many of the chemicals that have effects on our endocrine systems,” he said. “Generally these can be at low levels in the environment but these levels are often high enough to have an effect on our bodies.”

Other factors such as exercise and poor diet could also influence people’s health.

“This area is quite hard to work in because we often study the effects of just one compound at a time, but we live in a soup of multiple environmental pollutants,” he said.

This is one reason why studies in different areas sometimes produce different results, as different compounds could be working with or against each other.

“If there is a mixture of compounds, it could be about how they work together to have a particular effect on the body and people’s health.”

Dr Green said these chemicals were so pervasive in our surroundings it was hard to avoid them, however he recommended people minimise their contact with plastic, especially if they were trying to conceive.

There are many simple ways people can easily reduce people’s exposure.

For example, people should avoid drinking or eating food out of soft plastic containers. This includes takeaway containers and especially plastic bottles, which he describes as “lethal if left to heat up in a car”.

“You are basically drinking water and a sizeable dose of BPA,” he said.

“Use glass or aluminium drink bottles; they are more sustainable.

“With a takeaway coffee cup, the lining is BPA, not to mention the plastic in the lid.”

However, looking for plastic products that are “BPA free” may not be safer as some manufacturers have begun replacing BPA with other similar chemicals that could be just as bad for us.

Avoiding plastic when possible is safer, while also being better for the environment.

“There are a lot of common messages around recycling or sustainability, but there is also the added benefit that it’s better for your health,” Dr Green said.

“It’s better for the environment and better for us, so why not do it?”


Anti-Catholic bigotry from the Australian Human Rights Commission

Catholic schools have attacked the Australian Human Rights Commission for mischaracterising exemptions to anti-discrimination laws and suggesting religious communities were seeking to operate outside modern-day standards.

As debate ramps up around the federal government’s religious freedom bill, the National Catholic Education Commission has taken issue with “assertions” made by the commission in a ­recent policy document and its framing of exemptions as an “impediment” to human rights.

In a sharply worded letter to AHRC president Rosalind Croucher, Catholic commission executive director Jacinta ­Collins said the organisation ­rejected the AHRC’s characterisation of exemptions as “freezing in time community standards”.

“The statement is … with ­respect, a misstatement and suggests a lack of appreciation about the purposes of exemptions in anti-discrimination laws,” she writes. “We are concerned this language has the effect of ‘othering’ those with religious beliefs. It suggests that religious believers and communities which may rely on these exemptions sit apart from society and operate outside community standards.”

Othering refers to singling out a minority on the basis that their culture and beliefs are fundamentally different and therefore a risk to the majority.

The Catholic Church and education sector, which includes almost 1800 schools across the country, have been lobbying to retain their religious rights, currently afforded via religious ­exemptions to anti-discrimination law. For schools, exemptions enable them to operate in ­accordance with their faith, including preferencing enrolment of baptised students and hiring staff who support their teachings.

As the Attorney-General seeks to introduce religious discrimination laws by the end of the year, the AHRC has run a concurrent inquiry into the status of human rights, examining religious freedom protections and the operation of exemptions to anti-discrimination law.

A discussion paper outlining the AHRC’s priorities for reform, released last month, argues that “permanent exemptions have the effect of ‘freezing in time’ community standards in relation to sex, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity”.

“Accordingly, what was appropriately exempted from the operation of discrimination law 35 years ago … may not be appropriate today,” it said.

“The commission considers that all permanent exemptions need to be considered in light of the overall purpose of discrimination law to promote equality and fair treatment.”

Ms Collins’s letter points out that, in the absence of other legislation protecting religious freedom, the exemptions were effectively “balancing clauses … crucial to ensuring the freedom of all to act in accordance with religious beliefs and mission”.


Inherit the Wind

Tony Thomas

It’s good to know that wind turbine blades are a bird’s best friend, or something like that. I’m citing “fun facts” on the website of Synergy, Western Australia’s state-owned electricity generator. Synergy operations include half a dozen WA wind farms, mostly coastal. Synergy claims, correctly, that its fun facts “may blow your mind.” Fun Fact No. 9 is illustrated with a pic of Sesame Street’s Big Bird, pop-eyed with delight about wind turbines’  blade-and-splatter prospects. The caption reads (author’s emphasis)

Wind technology is now much more bird-friendly. Earlier versions of wind farms, such as the ones first launched in the US, had thousands of small fast-spinning turbines. Not so good for birds. Now, wind farms have taller and slower-moving blades which are much nicer for our feathered friends.

I don’t know about those “slower moving blades”. Tip speed of a 75m blade for a giant 6MW turbine can be 290km per hour. Despite my blown mind, I also managed to look up Greens Tasmanian stalwart Bob Brown and his objection last July to a company’s plan to put 120 wind towers, each 270m at tip height, on Robbins Island. He doesn’t agree with Synergy that turbines are “nice for our feathered friends”. He wrote instead, “For which of these species will the wind farm be the thousandth cut?”[1]

This is by-the-way, just stuff I came across while looking into what happens to wind farms when they get to their use-by date. National Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer tells Quadrant Online, “Some farmers have not got the best legal advice before entering agreements. The industry is new and the decommissioning clauses will be tested in the coming years as older wind farms reach the end of their economic life. These clauses are incredibly important if you are a landowner.” [2]

 Germany now has 29,000 wind towers. The nightmare of scrappage and decontamination has already started, with 250MW decommissioned last year. Close to 10,000 towers must be decommissioned by 2023. One tactic has been to ship the toxic parts and rubble to corrupt African states to deal with. As for the US, it will have more than 720,000 tons of blade material alone to dispose of by 2040, blades being a particularly enduring space-age construct.

Overall, the wind industry is blowing cold. Australian wind operators’ so-called Clean Energy Council bemoaned last September a “collapse” in renewables investment in the first half of 2019. Late last year investors had signed on for 4500MW of new renewables, but this surge “has since collapsed to less than 800MW in each of the first two quarters of 2019”. The Council blamed “lack of federal energy policy certainty” (translated: ‘We want more subsidies!’), saying that “regulatory challenges” made investor confidence fragile. The Council made the useful point that if the states keep shutting down coal power while renewables stop growing, Australia is heading for insecurity and higher power prices. Conversely, one could add, more coal power and less “unreliables” would raise security and lower the bills to households. As federal resources minister Matt Canavan says, the country urgently needs an upgrade to Vales Point, NSW’s coal-powered generator, and a new one at Collinsville, Qld. Thousands of manufacturing jobs are at stake.

The Australian wind fiasco is the kid brother of the massive downturn in Europe, where 12 countries last year failed to install a single turbine, Germany’s onshore wind installations halved and Britain’s onshore expansion “collapsed”.

To set the scene on decommissioning, Australia has about 95 wind farms, most with turbines of 1.5-3MW. They account for 7 per cent of electricity demand. Only one Australian wind farm has been decommissioned – Salmon Beach Wind Farm, near Esperance. Started in 1987 and scrapped in 2002, it was owned by bird-friendly Synergy. Its six turbines rated at 60KW each were toys by modern standards, where a single turbine generates 4-5MW (when the wind blows at optimum speed, which isn’t often). That’s the output of a dozen entire Salmon Beach wind farms. Dismantling the small Esperance towers was straightforward, and one nacelle and blades was even left in a park as a souvenir.

There’s some public-record material about decommissioning US wind farms, and it’s not re-assuring. In Minnesota, the 10-year-old Nobles Wind farm has 134 turbines of about 1.5MW and is operated by Xcel Energy. Xcel estimates a cost for scrapping each turbine at up to $US530,000 ($A770,000) or $US71 million total ($A103m). Each turbine has a tip height of 120 metres. Just to scrap one 40m blade involves crunching  composite material weighing more than 6 tonnes. The turbines themselves contain a smorgasbord of toxic plastics, oils, lubricants, metals and fibreglass.

As American Experiment points out, even $US71 million doesn’t finance a thorough clean-up. The contracts oblige Xcel to restore the land to a depth of only 4 feet, i.e. about one metre, whereas the foundations go down 5 metres. Moreover, underneath the 56 square miles (14,500ha) of this Minnesota wind farm is 140km of cabling and pipes. The documents don’t say if the cables would stay or go. But Palmer’s Creek, another wind farm in Minnesota with 18 turbines, will be allowed to leave cables in situ below four feet.

As to local terms, the Australian Clean Energy Council says,

"Decommissioning means that the wind turbines, site office and any other ancillary infrastructure is removed from the site, and roads and foundation pads are covered and revegetated, allowing land to be returned to its former use.” Elsewhere the council says, “Typical landowner contracts require that the turbine is removed from its concrete foundation, and that the turbine site is covered in topsoil so that farming activities can continue." (Would government greenies allow a decommissioned mine a similar latitude?).

The Council also suggests that a lease include a simple decommissioning plan at start-up, to be reviewed in final years in order to flesh out the details and updates. I’d read that as “Trust us, we’re wind power providers”. It continues,

"In the unlikely event that the wind farm company doesn’t commence substantial decommissioning and remediation works within 12 months of turbines no longer generating permanently, control of the decommissioning fund or other financial security should be given to the landowners or to an administrator as agreed between the parties to complete the decommissioning."

No Australian wind farm has defaulted to date, but keep your fingers crossed. SA law firm Johnston Withers advised farmers this year,

"What if the Operator goes into liquidation? This is perhaps one of the major potential risks of entering into any wind farm agreement. If the company that you enter into the agreement with (or its successor if they sell the rights) goes into liquidation, then there may be insufficient funds to de-commission the plant, and therefore the items could be left in place, potentially in a state of disrepair. If the equipment had value it would probably mean that it would be removed. There is a real risk however that useless equipment could be left on the property at the end of the Lease."

Others add that landowners have no title over abandoned wind farm material and can’t even sell it to defray their own clean-up costs.

As mentioned above, WA’s power and wind farm operator, Synergy, is state-owned. It has just reported a $657 million net loss for 2018-19 (you read that right), the biggest loss in history for a WA state body. Why? Because the WA Labor government won’t let Synergy put up its prices to households by a necessary 7 per cent. Instead the politicians mandate only a 1.75 per cent rise to save their political hides. “We’ve made it clear by our decisions that we’re not going to allow electricity prices to spiral out of control,” said resources minister Bill Johnston, practising Labor pea-and-thimble economics.

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind:
and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.
-Proverbs 11:29

Meanwhile a flood of intermittent wind and solar inputs continues to sabotage Synergy’s coal and gas-fired generators. It’s a dazzling example of “clean energy chaos” or maybe, “WA Clean Energy Inc.” Non-state wind farm operators don’t have state treasuries to tap if stuff hits the fan

More HERE 

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

Monday, November 18, 2019

Jacquie Lambie and Pauline Hanson slam the sale of iconic Australian baby formula brand to the Chinese

I usually agree with Pauline.  I have always voted for her when I could.  But she is not thinking deeply about this one.

This is quite unlike Mr Trump's attempts to protect American firms.  In this case the jobs will stay in Australia and the raw product will come from Australian farms.  So what does it matter who runs the bottling plant? 

And this also opens up the chance of a bigger market for Australian milk.  The Chinese owner will be in a position to promote and sell it in China in a way that no Australian firm ever could.  It could be a big win for Australian dairy farmers

Senator Jacqui Lambie has slammed the sale of Australian baby formula company Bellamy's to the Chinese, calling the move an 'embarrassment to the country.'

On Friday, the Foreign Investment Review Board approved China Mengniu Dairy Company's $1.5billion bid to buy 100 per cent of the Tasmanian brand's shares.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg backed the approval but insisted that certain conditions were imposed.

The company will have to remain headquartered in Australia for a decade and run by a majority Australian board.

Shortly after the acquisition was approved, Ms Lambie took aim at the Morrison Government, saying the buying-up of Australian companies was 'concerning.'

'I think I'm like millions of Australians out there who are very concerned about the Communist Chinese takeover,' she told the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday.

'Every time they open a cheque book we roll over like a dog.' 

Prior to the sale, Ms Lambie, along with senators of the Centre Alliance, had called for an inquiry into Chinese influence and buy-outs around the country from the foreign affairs committee. 

Ms Lambie was joined by One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson as well as Barnaby Joyce who also voiced their frustrations over the acquisition.

Mr Joyce said he was 'disappointed' to see Australia lose yet another company to the Chinese and urged the government to make sure the conditions are properly met.

In a more scathing attack, Ms Hanson called on Mr Frydenberg to overturn the decision. 'Stop, just stop! Enough with the rampant sell off of Australia,' she said.

'These are money making entities, which are vital for our economy, they employ local people, and they contribute to our food production. Why compromise all that?

'Here we are allowing the Chinese to waltz in and snatch away one of the leading baby formula manufacturing businesses, with little consideration for what it means for our country's future; this takes another chunk out of Australia's ability to produce enough food for our own people.'

Ms Hanson, who accused the government of being 'frivolous' with Australian assets, said there needs to be 'more respect for what's ours.'

Bellamy's sale is expected to be finalised by the end of the year if shareholders approve the deal.

Mr Frydenberg has also required the Chinese buyer to invest at least $12million in infant milk formula processing facilities in Victoria. 

'The conditional approval demonstrates our foreign investment rules can facilitate such an acquisition while giving assurance to the community that decisions are being made in a way which ensures that Australia's national interest is protected,' Mr Frydenberg said in a statement on Friday.

Before the takeover bid, shares in Bellamy's plunged 62 per cent in 18 months.

There were allegations the Chinese state brought this about by not approving Bellamy's request to sell organic formula in Chinese stores, which is still pending.

Mengniu is 16 per cent owned by food processing company Cofco, which is co-owned by the Chinese state.

The board of the Tasmania-based company denied the takeover had anything to do with fast-tracking Chinese regulation to allow expansion in the country. 

Mengniu offered $12.65 per share and Bellamy's said it would pay a dividend of 60 cents per share, meaning shareholders get $13.25 per share.

That is a 59 per cent premium on the $8.32 price before the deal take-over bid was announced in September.

Mengniu is a huge dairy company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of $24.6billion. 

Bellamy's CEO Andrew Cohen described Mengniu as an 'ideal partner'. 'It offers a strong platform for distribution and success in China, and a foundation for growth in the organic dairy and food industry in Australia,' Mr Cohen said.

Mengniu chief executive officer Jeffrey Minfang Lu said taking over Bellamy's would give it critical access to the Australian market.

'Bellamy's is a leading Australian brand with a proud Tasmanian heritage and track record of supplying high quality organic products to Australian mums and dads,' he said.

'This leading organic brand position and Bellamy's local operation and supply-chain are critical to Mengniu.'


Ludicrous new rule could see thousands of firefighters BANNED from battling deadly bushfires

Yet another case of toxic bureaucracy in firefighting

A 'ludicrous' new rule requiring volunteer firefighters to receive a work-with-children check could see thousands of them banned from battling blazes.

Queensland volunteers will be required to lodge a Blue Card application before December 1. or they will not be able to continue helping battle fires.

This new rule could see 15,000 volunteers banned from fighting fires from January 1 if they failed to apply for work-with-children checks.

Deadly fires have been burning throughout Queensland and New South Wales for more than a week resulting in four deaths.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner, John Bolger, recently broke the news to volunteers.

'Any QFES volunteer who is required to have a Blue Card, but refuses to apply for one, or is unable to hold a current Blue Card, will not be able to continue their role,' Mr Bolger said.

'As a member of the Rural Fire Service, you are likely to come into contact with children while performing your role, so are required to have a Blue Card. It is the law.'

Volunteers from NSW or Victoria do not need similar credentials. 

Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland boss, Justin Choveaux, is concerned the new law will result in fewer people available to fight deadly fires.

'They defend the state for free and do dangerous things. Getting rid of 75 per cent of the membership of the truck brigades is not a good plan,' Mr Choveaux told The Courier Mail.

He also said many rural firefighters felt offended by the new law because they were being treated like potential paedophiles.

Veteran volunteer firefighter and grandfather, Ian Swadling, said he would refuse to comply with the new rule. 

'I think it would be very foolish to start dismissing trained firefighters in the worst fire season the state's seen in 60 or 70 years,' Mr Swadling said.

The volunteer from Villeneuve near Toowoomba said his only contact with children in the 30 years of firefighting was showing off the truck at the local show. 

In correspondence obtained by The Sunday Mail, acting Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Mike Wassing said volunteers needed Blue Cards in case they came across students who had been evacuated or were on their way home.

He said these checks will be required because firefighters are classified as a health service. 

Mr Wassing also criticised volunteers who questioned the working-with-children check.

'Let me be clear that disrespectful conversations regarding the Blue Card process, including questioning the integrity of those people who are currently reluctant to apply, is not acceptable,' he said.


Why Catholic teachers’ copycat cash grab is wrong

If the Premier wants to throw a $1250 stimulus payment at public servants, including teachers, the correct response is not for private enterprise to do the same. Reckless spending for the promise of votes should not encourage enterprise to abandon fiscal prudence. I get that Catholic school teachers would like more money, but stooping to stop-work action for a copycat cash grab is wrong.

More than 7000 teachers at almost 200 schools across Queensland have been refusing to perform certain tasks this week. Come Tuesday, they'll be walking out of classrooms at 9am in a dummy spit that kids - and their fee-paying parents - don't deserve.

All this for a one-off payment that is not a genuine pay rise. And, in the big scheme of things, it's not going to go very far. I appreciate that private school teachers have an understanding with their employers that they will not make less than their state counterparts, but let's be clear about something. Church schools are run like private companies. Bonuses have to be earned, not bestowed because some bright spark in another sector entirely decided it was a cracker idea to burn through taxpayer dollars.

In September, the Palaszczuk Government announced that an eye-watering quarter of a billion dollars would be doled out, in individual $1250 lots, to more than 200,000 public servants. The unprecedented move was explained as a bid to drive economic growth and coincided with a commitment to maintain future public service wage increases of up to 2.5 per cent, despite Brisbane's most recent inflation rate being a more modest 1.7 per cent.

You don't have to be an academic giant to see that the figures don't add up. Taxpayers have a right to be unhappy about what is yet another sign that our Government is out of touch with almost everyone except the unions.

As for the many Catholic school teachers taking industrial action, they too seem to have lost sight of the bigger picture. The Independent Education Union of Australia has convinced them that they deserve the random public service sweetener. No matter that it could cost employers up to $25 million collectively to deliver it.

 Queensland and Northern Territory branch secretary Terry Burke claims the payment is "fundamental" to maintain wage parity with state school teachers. Anything less spells the end of "professional respect". What about respect for employers?

Contrary to what some people think - particularly those who mistakenly consider Catholic schools as elite - these schools are generally not wealthy. They don't have buckets of cash lying around. My son was educated in the Catholic system and the fees I paid saved the Government money by not having him schooled by the state.

If Catholic schools are forced to splash $1250 on their teachers, it won't be the Government coughing up but parents, by way of fee hikes.

What the Independent Education Union of Australia also won't tell you is that this ill-founded industrial action is creating division within the schools themselves. Sensible teachers - who either don't belong to the union or who are members but disagree with the union's stance - are picking up the slack of their colleagues and they're not happy about it. Small schools with a stretched staff are struggling the most. It's all very unnecessary.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 16/11/2019

Heart surgeon allowed to operate after patients die

Protected by his mates?

One of the nation’s most prestigious heart surgery units has been rocked by allegations that hospital administrators endangered patient safety by allowing a doctor who had failed to meet ­surgical standards to continue to ­operate on patients unsupervised.

The cardiothoracic surgery ­department of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney has been the subject of multiple probes during the past three years, with allegations of eight preventable patient deaths during or following heart surgery.

The surgeon at the centre of the investigations was allowed to ­return to surgery despite initial ­investigations — overturned by a later review — finding that his practice did not meet expected standards.

That prompted the resignation of two concerned surgeons who have escalated their complaints to the NSW Medical Council and the Health Minister.

The surgeons have claimed to the NSW government that their former colleague, cardiothoracic surgeon Michael Byrom, is “not fit to operate” and reported concerns about the Sydney Local Health District’s alleged “knowledge and concealment of the risks to ­patients and the failure of proper processes”.

The health district says it has exhaustively reviewed the matters, and is relying on the results of a Health Care Complaints ­Commission investigation that found there were no grounds to ­restrict Dr Byrom’s practice.

“The Health Care Complaints Commission, as the relevant external investigative authority, has examined these issues and found the clinician is fit for practice and that there are no grounds for disciplinary action or suspension,” a spokesman said. “The district accepts those findings.”

The concerned surgeons have documented the deaths of eight of Dr Byrom’s patients and multiple allegedly adverse surgical outcomes over a three-year period, during which Dr Byrom repeatedly surrendered his admitting rights but was subsequently ­allowed to continue to operate.

A surgeon familiar with the events said: “I have never encountered circumstances previously where a surgeon is internally suspended or voluntarily stood down in a unit on multiple occasions and yet continues to operate.”

The Weekend Australian is not suggesting Dr Byrom’s level of care is substandard, nor that he contributed to the deaths, only that there are reasonable grounds for investigating his level of care, and the hospital’s handling of the situation. Dr Byrom declined to respond to detailed questions from The Weekend Australian. “As Sydney Local Health District has provided a response to the ­allegations, I will not be providing further comment,” he said.

In June, three surgeons lodged a mandatory report with the NSW Medical Council, detailing “serious concerns we have over Dr Byrom’s performance providing an ongoing threat to patient ­safety”. The surgeons fear a ­backlash from within the medical fraternity if their identities are made public and The Weekend Australian has agreed not to name them.

The surgeons alleged in the ­report that Sydney Local Health District chief executive Teresa Anderson had failed to protect ­patient safety.

Dr Byrom was allowed to ­return to surgical practice shortly after an investigation report found, for the second time, that he “did not meet the standard reasonably expected of a cardiothoracic surgeon of an equivalent level of training or experience”.

“We have serious concerns over the actions of the CEO, having suppressed and misrepresented critical senior medical advice and recommendations, exacerbating that threat (to patient safety) whilst enabling it to continue,” the mandatory report said.

The NSW Medical Council’s performance division is monitoring Dr Byrom’s practice. In correspondence seen by The Weekend Australian, the council said it had “decided to work with Dr Byrom to protect the health and safety of the public”.

Investigations into Dr Byrom’s practice have delivered contrasting findings over the past three years. Two reviews in 2016 and 2018 by independent senior interstate surgeons Julian Smith and Michael Gardner both concluded that Dr Byrom “did not meet the standard reasonably expected of a cardiothoracic surgeon of an equivalent level of training or ­experience”.

The investigating surgeons heard an explosive allegation from one surgeon within the cardiothoracic unit that Dr Anderson had “expressly told the surgeons in the unit not to put in Incident Information Management System reports if they had clinical concerns”. IIMS reports are the formal system of incident notification within hospitals. Dr Anderson declined to respond to the allegation.

The patient deaths

The first Smith-Gardner investigation followed the deaths of four patients within two months.

The review found multiple ­issues with Dr Byrom’s performance, including that he failed to seek help when complications occurred, that he experienced technical issues and difficulties in decision-making during operations, and that he had a lack of ­insight into his shortcomings.

Following the first review, Dr Byrom undertook a program of remediation, during which he ­operated under supervision and received extra training. He ­returned to unsupervised clinical practice in October 2017 but a ­series of adverse events occurred, including an incident that shocked senior clinicians at RPA.

On November 22, 2017, a ­patient who had undergone routine thoracic surgery at Concord Hospital in Sydney’s inner west sustained heavy bleeding during surgery. The patient was given large volumes of blood product post-operatively but continued to bleed in the ICU for a further 24 hours.

The following day, Dr Byrom handed the critically ill patient’s care over to another doctor and caught a plane overseas. The patient had to be transferred by helicopter to RPA, where another surgeon operated and stemmed the bleeding. By the time he stablised, the patient had lost 14 litres of blood.

The incident was one of several adverse outcomes that prompted a second investigation of Dr Byrom’s practice. The second review by Professor Smith and Dr Gardner again found, in August 2018, that Dr Byrom did not meet the standard reasonably expected of a cardiothoracic surgeon of an equivalent level of training or ­experience. The reviewing surgeons said further remediation of the surgeon’s performance was not recommended.

In the wake of the findings, RPA head of cardiothoracic surgery Paul Bannon announced Dr Byrom’s suspension from surgery.

Weeks later, Dr Byrom was back operating. Two weeks after that, another patient died.

“It’s seems inconceivable how a department head could reportedly announce that a surgeon is indefinitely suspended over investigated patient deaths and for the same surgeon to be back operating in the department a mere two weeks later,” one surgeon said.

Sounding the alarm

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard was notified last year of concerns that Dr Byrom should not be operating on patients.

The mandatory report the three surgeons lodged with the Medical Council in June detailed “serious concerns we have over Dr Byrom’s performance providing an ongoing threat to patient ­safety”. They said in their correspondence with regulators that a patient, Dimitrios Kyriazopoulos, 72, had died in concerning circumstances within weeks of Dr Byrom being reinstated.

When he returned to surgery, Dr Byrom did not have admitting rights, and was operating on ­patients who were admitted under the care of another surgeon.

In October 2018, Kyriazopoulos, who had lung cancer, underwent chest surgery performed by Dr Byrom and subsequently ­developed a post-operative infection. It is alleged that, over the course of two weeks, the infection was allowed to fester, until Kyriazopoulos developed sepsis. On November 5, he was listed for an operation to drain his infection, but the surgery was cancelled at the last minute.

That evening, Kyriazopoulos sustained an airway haemorrhage and hypoxic brain injury. He was taken off life support on November 11 and died. The death is now the subject of a coronial ­inquiry.

An investigation into the father of three’s death, known as a rootcause analysis, was conducted by the RPA, and found no correctable, system-based cause of the death.

One clinician involved in the care of the patient told The Weekend Australian they held serious concerns over the death.

“I was disappointed because I thought that this death was totally preventable,” the doctor claimed.

NSW opposition health spokesman Ryan Park said there may be grounds for further investigation. “Some of the allegations raised indicate that there could be management and governance ­issues that need to be significantly improved,” Mr Park said.

The Sydney Local Health District said it was disturbed that ­issues were continuing to be raised about Dr Byrom’s practice.

“While the district always strives for amicable outcomes, it considers the continued agitation regarding the practice of the clinician, in circumstances where these matters have been thoroughly reviewed by the bodies responsible for the regulation of the medical profession under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, to be highly disturbing,” the district said in a statement.

More HERE 

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