Friday, August 30, 2013

Pollies decorating at your expense

Just last week, WasteWatch brought you news of the $34 000 taxpayer-funded art binge for public service offices.

Now the pollies are getting in on the action. It seems interior decorating has become the new way to pass time in the halls of Parliament House.

As we wait with bated breath for the most recent report on our parliamentarians’ expenditure, the July-December 2012 report makes interesting reading.

Top of the list of notable spending was Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, who was the seventh most profligate parliamentarian in terms of ‘office fit-out costs’, spending over $300,000 beautifying her office.

However, she was outdone by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, who managed to rack up a staggering $317,000 on his interior decorating. One wonders what the notoriously abstemious Bob Brown – who spent just $3,400 in his last six months in office – would think.

Independent Andrew Wilkie also spent more than $150,000 on his office fit-out.

These three were the only parliamentarians who hold no other official positions, like being a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary, to spend over $100 000 on office fit-outs in the six-month period covered by the report.

Bear in mind, though, that the current base salary for Members of Parliament is just shy of $200,000. These are people who are used to the beautiful things in life. They just want the rest of us to pay for them.


NOTE about the surfing Senator, Peter Whish-Wilson (below). Hyphenated names can arise in a number of ways but ususally a Miss Whish (say) decides that she is really too grand to marry a mere Wilson (say) so marries on condition that all her children are known as Whishes as well as Wilsons.  So in addition to  his extravagance with taxpayer's money, Peter's hyphen would seem to betray a certain inherited arrogance.  But Greenies think that they are the real people and the rest of us are cattle so he is clearly in the right party.

A multicultural doctor

Born in Lebanon and probably Muslim

A woman had been suffering facial spasms when Dr Haissam Naim subjected her to an unnecessary and invasive internal examination, a court has heard.

Dr Naim, who was reprimanded over the examination and had his registration as a medical practitioner cancelled for a year after a hearing in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, had his appeal against the decision dismissed on Thursday.

"Regarding the matter overall, the allegations reflect a sexual overtone to the applicant's [Dr Haim's] conduct," Court of Appeal judges Hartley Hansen and Pamela Tate said.

"In these circumstances it was both open and appropriate to the tribunal to find that 'in the absence of a clinical purpose for the examination, the only available inference is that it was conducted for the sexual gratification of the practitioner'."

The woman, Ms L, had first met Dr Haim on August 28, 2010, when he was on weekend duty at a hospital emergency department on the outskirts of Melbourne. Dr Haim had been a registrar at the time before later becoming a fully qualified doctor.

Ms L had been experiencing facial spasms and was discharged at 5.30pm.

On September 1, 2010, Ms L went to her dentist concerned that her wisdom tooth might have been causing her facial spasms. The dentist referred her for an X-ray that was taken on September 7. Ms L saw Dr Haim the next day when she wanted him to examine the X-ray of her teeth to see if her wisdom tooth was the cause of her facial spasms.

It was during this consultation that Ms L claimed she was nearly in tears when Dr Haim conducted an "excruciatingly painful" internal and invasive examination after asking her if she had had stomach pains and irregular periods.

After telling Dr Naim she thought his questions unusual, Ms L said that although there had been issues with her body after she gave birth, her doctor had told her that everything was now fine.

Dr Naim told Ms L that he thought she may have a cyst on her ovary. When she said she had had a test one month earlier, and no cyst was found, the doctor replied that he needed to conduct the test himself.

Ms L claimed Dr Naim pushed hard on her stomach while her shirt was pushed up.

He repeated his belief that there was a cyst and she repeated that there was not one. Dr Naim then made the woman pull down her pants for an internal examination.

He did not leave the woman as she undressed, did not close the curtain around the bed and started to pull her jeans to get them off.

Ms L saw her own GP two days later and told her what had happened. A complaint was made to the Australian Health Professionals Registration Authority.

Dr Haim, who had been medically qualified in Lebanon in 1998, denied conducting the examination but VCAT found he had engaged in professional misconduct.

Justices Hansen and Tate said the lawyer acting for the Medical Board told VCAT that "the allegation isn't that he assaulted her, the allegation is that he performed an internal examination without clinical justification".

The judges dismissed Dr Haim's appeal and ordered he be deregistered for 12 months from September 5 this year.


Conservatives commit to "charter" schools for Australia

Schools that are funded by the government but independent of the bureaucracy are known as "charters" in the USA and "academies" in the U.K. They tend to get better results than normal government schools

Encouraging around 1500 public schools around the country to operate more like independent schools will be a focus of a Coalition government, the Opposition Leader has announced at a Christian school that requires families to sign a statement decrying homosexuality as an abomination.

Formally launching the Coalition's education policy on Thursday, Tony Abbott reiterated his pledge that there would be no real difference between the two parties on school funding. The Coalition has ditched its fervent opposition to the reforms known as Gonski and agreed to deliver the same federal funding over the next four years.

No guarantee has been made for the final two years of the existing six-year agreements signed by states including NSW and Victoria, when the bulk of the money -  about $3 billion of the total $5 billion promised for NSW schools - is set to flow.

But the Coalition did commit $70 million for an 'Independent Public Schools Fund' to help around 1500 public schools around the country become independent public schools by 2017, similar to a model already rolled out in Western Australia.

The schools in that state that have made the switch remain publicly funded and cannot charge mandatory fees, but operate with a very high degree of autonomy from the state government and have school boards.

Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said the Coalition had decided to match Labor on Gonski because it didn't want the debate to be preoccupied with funding, and wanted to move it to a "higher plane".

"We want more characteristics from the non-government sector in the government sector," said Mr Pyne.

The Coalition has also pledged a review on the national curriculum, a "new emphasis" on teacher quality and to develop "best practice guidelines to improve admission standards into teaching courses."

"We want more great schools and we want all schools to be better," said Mr Abbott.

"Mr Rudd's scare that the Coalition is going to cut money out of education is simply false."

Mr Abbott made the announcement while visiting Penrith Christian School, in Sydney's west, which makes parents sign a statement decrying homosexuality as an abomination when they enrol their children.

The school, of around 620 pupils, is a part of the Ministry of Imagine Nations Church. The school's website includes a "Statement of Faith" outlining its religious principals, including that homosexuality is an "abomination unto God", a commitment to creationism and the power of divine healing.

According to the school's website, all families who enrol in the school "MUST sign the school's Statement of Faith as a part of the enrolment process".

Mr Abbott defended the decision to launch their policy at the school, pointing out Labor politicians had associated themselves with the school in the past.

Asking whether the school's stance on homosexuality was the kind of initiative he envisaged public schools taking on with increased autonomy, he said he did not agree with the school's view on homosexuality.

"No . . . The Independent Schools in Western Australia and the more autonomous public schools here in NSW are obviously bound by departmental and government policy on these sorts of issues," he said.

The Christian school received two-thirds of its funding in 2011 from state and federal governments, according to the My School website.


Carbon farm in trouble

The Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association wants Henbury Station in central Australia to resume operations as a cattle property and abandon plans for what was intended to be the world's largest and the nation's pioneering carbon credits farm.

The station, 230 kilometres south of Alice Springs is being put up for sale, a month after its owner, RM Williams Agricultural Holdings, was placed in administration.

The station was bought by the company for $13 million, with a $9 million contribution from the Federal Government, in 2011.

The 5,000 square kilometre property was destocked two years ago as part of the plan to create a conservation project to earn carbon credits as part of a Commonwealth plan to combat greenhouse gases and global warming..

The aim at the time was also to take a lead in establishing a business model for properties in remote areas to be used to earn carbon credits.

NT Cattlemen's Association executive director Luke Bowen says potential buyers should consider using the property to run cattle again.

"It is a high quality property that has been recognised as such for a number of years," he said.

"It is good to see that it is potentially available for somebody to come in and get it going again, and run it as a viable productive pastoral property in the central Australian region, with all the added economic benefits that that will bring with it."

Mr Bowen says the science that saw Henbury Station turned into a carbon farm was flawed.

"The methodology and the principles were based around a carbon methodology that had not been verified, that had not been tested or established and was a theoretical model," he said.

"We were concerned that this would create an artificial bubble in land values and see land go out of production."

The Federal Environment Department, handed over the $9 million to help purchase Henbury Station says it remains committed to a conservation outcome at the property.

A spokeswoman says the department wants to talk about plans to secure long-term conservation management of the land.

The original purchase of the property for use as a carbon farm drew criticism from both the cattle industry and Indigenous traditional owners.

Last year, the Central Land Council said it had been supporting local Aboriginal interests trying to buy the station since 1974.

Today, the Territory Government said the former owners of Henbury Station had never received approval to run the pastoral property as a carbon farming venture.

Primary Industry Minister Willem Westra van Holthe told the Legislative Assembly the project was illegal, because carbon farming is a non-pastoral use.

"It was unlawful because there was never a pastoral land permit issued," he said.

"In fact, there was never even an application lodged for a pastoral land permit and, even if there was, it's unsure whether it would have satisfied the requirements of the Native Title Act."


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Push to end expulsion of homosexual students from private schools

Seems a pity that there can be no refuge from them

Controversial laws that allow private schools to expel students because they are gay could be abolished if the two main parties are allowed a conscience vote on the issue, the MP seeking to overturn the laws says.

Under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, it is unlawful for public schools and educational institutions to discriminate against or expel students on the basis of homosexuality, transgender status and other traits, but private schools and colleges are explicitly exempt from these provisions.

Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich will introduce the private member's bill to the NSW Parliament on Wednesday to remove the exemptions, and said he hoped a conscience vote would be granted if the two main parties did not back the bill outright. "I have spoken to a number of government members and opposition members who are keen on it," he said.

Though few, if any, cases of students actually being expelled under the laws are known, students at religious schools say their complaints about homophobic bullying are sometimes ignored by staff and have been told they should convert to heterosexuality, according to a recent senate submission by Dr Tiffany Jones from the University of New England's School of Education

Mr Greenwich said schoolchildren should be free from harassment and discrimination.

"Students suffering from bullying by their peers because of their [lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or intersex] status are less likely to report the matter to teachers if they know they could be expelled," he wrote in a discussion paper on the issue.

"A school that can by law discriminate is less likely to have processes in place to deal with this type of bullying if it is reported."

Both the Coalition and Labor said they would examine the details of the bill before taking a position.

Labor's education spokeswoman, Carmel Tebbutt, said she had '"sympathy" for what Mr Greenwich was trying to achieve.

"I respect the religious beliefs of faith-based schools, however, it is important that all students are treated fairly and are not subject to discrimination," she said.

But several authorities representing private and religious schools have already voiced opposition to removing the exemptions.

Ian Baker, then-acting executive director of the NSW Catholic Education Commission, told Fairfax Media in July that the fact that so few, if any, cases of students being expelled were widely known was testament to the fact schools tended to treat such students with sensitivity.

"It speaks for itself,’’ he said at the time. "It’s exercised with great caution and consideration. The objective is not to punish, but to protect the rights of those families who send their child to a school based on a religious faith.’’

The executive director of the Association for Independent Schools NSW, Geoff Newcombe, also defended the right of schools to decide who they enrolled, provided they were operating within the law.

Greens MP John Kaye said his party strongly supported Mr Greenwich’s move and pointed out private schools received significant government funding: "The least they could do is obey the common standards that apply to the rest of society.’’


ICAC report puts NSW Labor in spotlight

LABOR'S corruption woes in NSW will enter the election campaign with the release of an ICAC report on Friday.

But Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten says it won't detract from Labor's campaign for re-election on September 7.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will on Friday hand down its second set of findings about the granting of controversial mining licences by disgraced former state Labor minister Ian Macdonald.

Two senior federal MPs, NSW senator Doug Cameron and former federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, were called to give evidence during the inquiry, which probed a coal exploration licence granted by Mr Macdonald to a company run by ex-union boss John Maitland and other businessmen.

A separate ICAC report handed down in July already recommended prosecutors look at laying criminal charges against Mr Macdonald and former Labor minister Eddie Obeid, who were found by the ICAC to have acted corruptly in relation to a coal tenement at Mount Penny.

Federal ministers Stephen Conroy and Tony Burke were mentioned at the hearings as having enjoyed the hospitality of Mr Obeid at his Perisher Valley ski lodge.

The corruption issue is expected to damage Labor in key western Sydney marginal seats.

Mr Shorten told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday the ALP had "zero tolerance" for corruption.

"In terms of ICAC what has happened with those couple of Labor MPs is shocking, it's ridiculous, it's a betrayal of trust," the minister said.

"I don't think it reflects the Labor cause and the Labor message in this election."

He said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had acted to clean up the NSW ALP and voters could now have confidence in it.

ICAC's Operation Acacia investigated the awarding of the Doyles Creek exploration licence as a closed tender to Mr Maitland - a former mining union boss and political ally of Mr Macdonald - and others for a "training mine" in December 2008.

Mr Maitland allegedly received a financial windfall when the licence was sold to NuCoal in 2010.


Get ready for Leftist hysteria if Abbott wins the election

THERE is a reason so many in Hollywood gravitate towards the political Left. Both groups trade in emotion rather than reason and prefer hyperbole over facts.

Hence, anyone who has seen the latest Hollywood blockbuster - Elysium - could be forgiven for thinking it was directed by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young with the screenplay by John Pilger and financed by GetUp! Adam Bandt or Scott Ludlam would surely have taken Matt Damon's place as the planet-saving protagonist for a fraction of Damon's exorbitant fee. And surely Bob Brown and Tim Flannery were extras weaving this torrid tale of man's inhumanity to planet Earth where the greedy evil rich refuse to allow desperate economic migrants to live on their utopian planet. No doubt, an Academy award awaits those responsible for two hours of empty-headed politics at its left-wing worst.

The illogical, over-emoting mindset is best left to the movies where we expect and even enjoy the suspension of reality. But when this mindset morphs into vandalism on Australian streets, it's time for a reality check.

On Saturday, Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg arrived at his Kooyong electoral office in Melbourne to find graffiti emblazoned across the glass front. In white paint, a vandal had written "Racist pollies will not be settled".

Of all people, Frydenberg understands the evils of racism. In his 2010 maiden speech, he recounted the experience of his maternal grandparents and their young daughters, including his mother, "who were interned in the Budapest ghetto by the Hungarian fascists. They survived and eventually made their way through displaced persons camps to Australia". The first Jewish Liberal MP in the House of Representatives represents the proud history of a country that has settled millions of migrants.

Alas, that graffiti is a harbinger of the illogical hysteria that will re-emerge if the Coalition wins office on September 7. If Tony Abbott becomes prime minister, he has promised to stop the boats. This will drive sections of the Left to pursue the politics of inflated sanctimony with extra zeal. The Opposition Leader should ignore them as politely as John Howard did.

As hard as they tried, members of the Left couldn't muster the same outrage when the Gillard and Rudd governments belatedly reintroduced offshore processing. Not even Rudd's PNG Solution raised their ire to earlier levels. The reason was simple. Rudd and Gillard's policies were driven by polls, not convictions. The Left, like the people-smugglers, counted on another policy shift like the eight Labor endorsed since 2007.

No wonder the Left hated Howard: he introduced the Pacific Solution, re-established an orderly immigration policy, stopped the boats and won four elections.

The Left was incensed by a conviction politician and ramped up its sanctimony, outrage and specious arguments.

Labor MPs and Greens senators emoted about cruel Coalition policies that lacked compassion.

Hannie Rayson penned The Two Brothers, a play whose wicked main character is based on ex-immigration minister Philip Ruddock. As Keith Windschuttle recalled, in packed theatres in Sydney and Melbourne a mention on stage of Philip Adams scored a predictable cheer while a reference to Alan Jones earned a predictable groan. David Marr wrote tomes about the evil Howard era and filled ABC airwaves with claims that Australians "feared" refugees. Never mind that having a concern about people-smugglers dictating immigration policy has nothing to do with fearing refugees. Naturally, time-rich academics joined in the hatefest, writing about "xenophobic racism and class during the Howard years" where "the Howard government used racism to sustain its popularity".

Shelves in trendy bookstores heaved under the weight of leftwing indignation about Howard and Australia, understanding neither the history, nor the facts of our immigration policy.

Those facts deserve to be repeated every time the Left vents its hysteria. Australians have supported increased immigration when the government of the day manages an orderly immigration program and when it serves the interests of Australia. Howard understood what my colleague Paul Kelly has called Australia's most powerful political compact.

The compact that began with the Chifley government in 1945 when increased immigration became a reality and a necessity and has been maintained by every prime minister until Rudd in 2008.

As Prime Minister, Rudd bowed to those on the sanctimonious Left and dismantled the Pacific Solution. Labor MP after Labor MP rose to announce that move as a proud day when injustice towards refugees was removed from the Australian polity.

What followed should haunt the ALP. Canny people-smugglers filled thousands of boats with more than 40,000 asylum-seekers and more than 1000 people died at sea delivering us the biggest policy failure this nation has seen.

The Left will never acknowledge that reality. Just as they will never tell us that Gough Whitlam said: "I'm not having hundreds of f ... king Vietnamese Balts coming into this country with their political and religious hatreds." Or that Bob Hawke in 1990 said: "Do not let any people think that all they've got to do is break the rules, jump the queue, lob here and Bob's your uncle. Bob is not your uncle on this issue. We're not going to allow people to jump that queue." Or that Paul Keating introduced mandatory detention in 1992.

The Left deliberately ignores the success behind this compact between the Australian people and the government of the day. As Kelly wrote in The March of Patriots, from the 1940s Australia accepted about seven million migrants, the highest per capita outside of Israel. By the time Howard left office, one in four Australians were born overseas, confirming Australia's success as a migrant nation.

True to form, in the wake of the graffiti attack, Frydenberg said he understood there are deep differences of opinion about immigration but those differences "should be settled at the ballot box not through acts of vandalism".

Predictably, some people prefer the latter. Even more predictable is the left-wing hysteria and hypocrisy that will greet Abbott if he becomes prime minister.


NSW minister wants hunters back ASAP

NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson plans to bring volunteer hunters back to state forests as quickly as possible.

She told parliamentary question time on Tuesday that volunteer hunting in all 400 state forests was still on hold, pending the outcome of a risk assessment.

But she wants to return to business as usual as soon as possible.

"It is our intention to restore volunteer hunting in state forests to control feral animals as quickly as possible, and in a manner that's as similar as possible to previous procedures," Ms Hodgkinson said.

She told parliament an eight-member game and pest management advisory board would be set up to represent hunters' interests, direct research and advise government.

The establishment of the board was among the recommendations of a scathing review of the NSW Game Council by public servant Steve Dunn.

In response to the review, the council was scrapped and its staff are being transferred to the Department of Primary Industries.

Meanwhile, the functions previously carried out by the Game Council are being transferred to the Director-General of the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services, which will be the new regulatory authority in line with the Dunn review recommendations, Ms Hodgkinson said on Tuesday.

A trial of hunting in 12 national parks is set to begin in October under the direction of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Character is destiny, Kevin

SOMETIMES, the most trivial event can have the most volcanic impact in an election campaign.  So it was with the encounter between the Prime Minister and the make-up artist last week.

Kevin Rudd was late to the Broncos Leagues Club in Brisbane on Wednesday night. Late, and anxious, despite the cheesy grin he flashed to demonstrators as his car swung into the driveway.

It was 6.15pm, just 15 minutes until showtime for the People's Forum, where both leaders were to face unscripted questions from an audience of swinging voters.  David Speers was already on stage and the audience were in their seats. Tony Abbott had been in the building for almost an hour.

The Opposition Leader had a room on the lower ground floor, while the PM and his entourage were assigned quarters one level above the ground floor auditorium where the leaders would face off in a contest Rudd had been reluctantly conscripted into.

Lily Fontana was the freelance make-up artist hired by Sky to ensure both men were camera-ready.  Highly regarded, and reportedly apolitical, the mother of a young son told staffers she was excited to be back, three years after working on the debate between Abbott and Julia Gillard.  Abbott remembered her and they chatted companionably as she powdered his nose. She was finished on schedule at 5.45pm.

But there was no sign of Rudd. As she waited for the PM to arrive, Abbott's staffers offered her coffee.

It is not known what state Rudd was in when he burst through the door at 6.15pm, but he appeared jumpy and soon began sculling bottles of Mt Franklin water.

Whatever happened next in that first-floor make-up room is now a matter of debate. But one thing is clear. The PM made such a bad impression on Lily Fontana that, three hours later, at 9.25pm, she opened up Facebook and vented.

"Just finished doing Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott's makeup ... One of them was absolutely lovely, engaged in genuine conversation with me, acknowledged that I had a job to do and was very appreciative. The other did the exact opposite! Oh boy, I have never had anyone treat me so badly.

"Political opinions aside ... from one human being to another … Mr Abbott you win hands down."

It was a bombshell comment, devastating because it was so believable. It crystallised underlying character assessments of both men that have slowly been forming in the electorate.

Despite his genial, cheery persona, here was a glimpse of the other Rudd we have heard about, a nasty, volatile man.

Before Fontana was harassed into deleting her Facebook post on Thursday, fellow Brisbane make-up artist Abigael Johnston added a comment: "I second this Lily. I have had a very similar experience! Must run in the family as Mr Howard and Mr Costello were gentlemen with a capital G. Mr Abbott is following in their footsteps.

"The other, I could not even Facebook how he treated the crew. Just abhorrent!"

We have enough circumstantial evidence to say that Rudd treats people he regards as lower status as insignificant and unworthy of courtesy. This is why Fontana's observations were significant. Kevin Rudd has form.

* The RAAF flight attendant reduced to tears when she brought him sandwiches instead of the vegetarian meal he requested.

* The persistent story of the tantrum over a hairdryer in Afghanistan, which he denies.

* The high-five with a limelight-hogging preschooler that ended with a squeeze that made the child say "Ouch".

* The chip snatched from a reluctant stranger's plate.

And there are untold stories which also go to character.

A former soldier, Arthur, on duty at Kabul International Airport one wintry day in 2007, remembers Rudd's first visit to Afghanistan as PM.

It still hurts to recall the bags of eagerly anticipated Christmas mail due on the plane.

Before Rudd landed, a senior officer warned the troops there would be no mail. Rudd had "insisted his entire entourage fly with him on the same aircraft so they offloaded all the mail", says Arthur.

One of the Diggers broke the silence: ``Johnny would have brought the mail." As in Howard.

When Rudd arrived, he shook hands with Arthur, who was wearing an eye patch because an allergic reaction to a vaccine meant he couldn't close his left eye when firing his weapon.  "What's up with you?" asked Rudd.

Arthur explained.  "So you aren't celebrating International Pirate Day then?" quipped Rudd.

Arthur didn't see the humour in the joke.

Three years later, Arthur was on his way out on leave when his plane was diverted to Tarin Kowt to pick up a VIP whose plane had broken down.  It was Tony Abbott.

Once airborne, the Opposition Leader walked to the back of the plane and told the troops: "I just want to apologise for stealing your aircraft and holding you up. I know you all have somewhere you would rather be."

Arthur remembers Abbott took time to speak to each person in the cargo hold. Reputations are built up bit by bit, through chance encounters, small connections, word of mouth. But once they jell, it is impossible for even the cleverest spin doctor to supplant them.  Character is destiny.


Rush to free government schools in wealthy suburbs

It's the pupils that make the school.  Middle class parents have smarter and better behaved kids

Public schools in northern Sydney are bucking a trend. They are so full the state government has made a commitment to open two new schools and extend five. In the meantime, public school playgrounds are disappearing under the weight of portable classrooms.

Public schools are no longer accepting students who live outside the area.

No one is entirely sure of the reasons. There has probably been a rise in the number of school-age children in north Sydney, but it may also be due to what NAPLAN and other evidence says: it is not a school's ownership that makes the difference, it is the socioeconomic status of the pupils.

Savvy middle-class parents know local public schools are getting just as good results as nearby private schools, and they are wisely hanging on to their money.

Word is that some of these private schools are finding it harder to maintain their enrolments and are recruiting from out of the area.

The most desirable children from less prosperous areas are being bussed in, joining those who have long trekked across town (at public cost) to whatever elite private or selective school they can access.

You will have noticed the effects of this wholesale movement of children across town by train, bus or family car if you commute in any capital city.

Parents who have a choice increasingly want their children to attend schools that are higher up the social ladder. The trouble is, moving students around to different schools is, in the end, a zero-sum game. It may be fine for children whose parents can afford to pay fees, but what does it do to those left behind?

The daily commute of students who have some kind of transactional value - a family that can afford fees, or a child with a special academic, sporting or musical ability - is rapidly residualising the lower socioeconomic schools.

This is what happens when you make schools into a market - you create winners and losers. The tragedy is that the "losing" schools are struggling with children whom society has decided are losers.

Just as MySchool demonstrates the public school boom on the north shore, so too it shows how location and socioeconomic status are affecting the achievements of schools and students everywhere.

The website tells us more about schools' socioeconomic statuses; we also have other measures of students' achievements at the end of year 12 - for example, the HSC in NSW and the VCE in Victoria.

Combine this information and the picture becomes scary.

If we group the 400 or so Victorian schools with year 12 students into four socioeconomic groups, the spread of VCE scores tells us what we might already know: students in the schools in the top socioeconomic status group still achieve consistently high results, and the distribution of high VCE scores falls off as we move down the socioeconomic scale.

However, the gap is widening. In only eight years, the share of high scores in the lower socioeconomic status schools has dropped - by more than 20 per cent in the lowest socioeconomic status schools.

With few exceptions, this trend defies the usual explanations. Is it just Victoria? Unlikely; limited NSW data shows similar trends.

Is it just public schools? No. Is it due to enrolment shift?

We are almost certainly witnessing an inevitable result of the hollowing out of low socioeconomic status schools - and the exact opposite to what is happening in north shore public schools.

Almost 60 per cent of disadvantaged students attend equally disadvantaged schools. We appear to be creating ghettos of privilege and underprivilege. Strugglers sit next to strugglers in some schools and the fortunate next to the fortunate in others.

When you group disadvantaged children in the same schools, it compounds their disadvantage. No surprise, then, that it is becoming harder and harder to improve the achievements of our lowest achieving students.


Must not use slang to refer to breasts

Department store Target appears to be getting bang for its buck by using British reality TV guru Gok Wan in a series of TV commercials, but his use of "bang" has some viewers up in arms.

The Advertising Standards Bureau has been forced to make a determination on Wan's use of the word "bangers" to describe breasts in ads about women not being properly fitted for bras.

"Your bangers will never feel more loved," Wan promises women if they wear a correctly sized bra.

"I find it distasteful that he uses the term 'bangers' to describe women's breasts," one wrote to the bureau. "If a straight man were to use similar language during prime-time TV, there would be a huge outcry by women claiming sexist behaviour. There should be no different standards of acceptable language simply because a man appears to be gay."

"A female body is a beautiful thing, not to be cheapened by a poofter calling breasts "BANGERS"!!!," a third wrote. "I WAS BREAST FED, NOT BANGER FED! It's an insult to sooooo many Aussie men and woman to see poofs on tv but you let it happen

Target countered that the women in the commercials had "a range of normal body shapes" which were not idealised.

It also defended the choice of Wan, saying in its submission that he was a British style icon who was playfully irreverent, colourful and fun.

It said that "bangers" was an "irreverent term of affection" chosen "in wry acceptance" that some women are unhappy with their breasts.

It was not chosen to be derogatory or suggest that breasts were meat, Target said, accepting that the lack of Australian understanding of the word's colloquial British use meant "boobs" may be substituted in later commercials.

The bureau dismissed the complaints, ruling that the ad was positive and light-hearted and its intent was to alert women to the importance of buying a correctly sized bra.


Independent candidate to be rogered by Labor Party preferences

He did support the Gillard governent but not very reliably so they are now shafting him

ANDREW Wilkie says Labor voters could unwittingly elect the Liberal candidate in his seat of Denison because the party is not giving him its preferences.

The polls have Mr Wilkie well in front in the Hobart-based seat, but the Liberals are ahead of him on ALP preferencing.

A ReachTEL poll published in The Mercury has Mr Wilkie with 43.7 per cent of the primary vote, seven points higher than the last poll in June.

He is well ahead of Liberal Tanya Denison (23.1 per cent), Labor's Jane Austin (18) and the Greens' Anna Reynolds (10.5).

But with the ALP preferencing the Liberals ahead of him, Ms Denison has a chance of winning the seat if, as the poll suggests, Labor comes in third.

"I do worry that many Labor voters don't understand that this is the situation," Mr Wilkie told reporters in Hobart.

"A lot of people who will just follow the how-to-vote card without thinking too much about it need to understand that they may well end up helping to elect the Liberal candidate."

Where Labor finishes is likely to be determined by the carve-up of Greens preferences.

Mr Wilkie won the seat from third in 2010 with 21 per cent of the vote after Labor had held it for 23 years.

He is running an open how-to-vote ticket after ruling out any preference deals.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More multiculturalism in Melbourne:  African Muslims jailed over violent Vic taxi robbery

The brave Mr Farah

The brave Mr Hersi

The brave Mr Muse

TWO men have been jailed for the violent robbery of a Melbourne taxi driver which a judge described as degrading and chilling.

Husni Mohamed Muse, 23, of Carlton, and Abdi Mohamed Farah, 30, of Preston, robbed cab driver Ravinder Singh at knifepoint in Carlton in December 2011.

When Mr Singh attempted to run, Muse chased after him, wrapped a belt around his neck and dragged him back to the taxi.  The men then told Mr Singh they would kill him if he tried to run.

The two were found guilty in the Victorian County Court last month of armed robbery, false imprisonment and making a threat to kill.

They both pleaded guilty to a charge of obtaining property by deception relating to the later use of Mr Singh's credit card.

Victorian County Court Judge Gerard Mullaly on Monday sentenced both men to three years and nine months in jail, with a non-parole period of two years.

Judge Mullaly said it was not clear how much was stolen, but said Mr Singh was traumatised by the ordeal. "The whole experience was frightening, the use of the belt was degrading, the threat was chilling," he said.  "Taxi drivers are entitled to get through their shifts ... without being subject to violence."


Fuller report here.  The above was only one of two taxi robberies committed by the charmers above

Deceptions galore from Rudd

The government is not running on its record. The Prime Minister is not focused on his achievements. He is running a campaign built on fabrications and future glory. He has been caught lying, without compunction, on multiple occasions. This is not even the most insidious mischief.

The government has manipulated the official statistics. It has compromised the reputation of the Treasury. An example of the endless spin cycle is the manipulation of the unemployment rate, a basic measure of the economy and thus, indirectly, a measure of the government's performance. The official rate is 5.7 per cent. It has been trending up for a year, from 5.2 per cent, a 10 per cent rise in 12 months. The real unemployment rate is higher, about 6.2 per cent according to a study by Andrew Baker of the Centre for Independent Studies.

Baker found that more than 100,000 job-seekers had been moved out of the unemployment ranks by shifting them into training schemes. "An astonishing 360,000 unemployed people are classified as non-job-seekers," Baker wrote in his centre's monograph. "The number [in training schemes has] skyrocketed from 62,500 in 2009 to 150,000 in 2012 … People on welfare who are not required to look for work will stay on welfare longer." He estimates that if the unemployed who are classified as "non-job-seekers" was included in the unemployment baseline number, the rate would be 6.2 per cent.

Even the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finds something is amiss with Australia's unemployment data, noting recently: "The non job-seeker population is so large that it needs more analysis and attention."

Not good, considering that when Rudd came to power in 2007 the official, uncooked, unemployment rate was 4.5 per cent. Despite a resources boom and $300 billion in government deficit spending, the unemployment rate has risen about 37 per cent under Labor.

Manipulating the unemployment rate is a subtle lie. There are unsubtle lies, also funded by taxpayers. The government has spent $30 million in the run-up to the election on a saturation ad campaign stating that boat people who destroy their documents will never be settled permanently in Australia. It is a fantasy. Since Rudd announced that boat people will be sent to Papua New Guinea and never see Australia, his ploy has collapsed. Three thousand boat people have arrived since then and most are being warehoused in Australia. Based on Labor's policies, they will spend years in the Australian legal system at an average cost to taxpayers of roughly $200,000 a person. Madness.

Then there are the outright lies by Rudd, which he keeps repeating even after they have been discredited: the Coalition does not have a secret plan to increase the GST. Tony Abbott did not strip $1 billion out of the hospital system. The opposition does not have a $70 billion deficit in its costings. The Liberals did not do a secret deal with News Corporation over the national broadband network. Those arriving by people smugglers' boats will not be sent to Papua New Guinea and never reach Australia. Millionaires will not be the primary beneficiaries of Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme. The price of Vegemite is not going up 50¢ a jar.

And the woman in the Labor TV ads saying she does not trust Abbott is not a concerned citizen. She is a professional actress working off a script, another cog in the giant spin cycle. Unfortunately for Rudd and Labor, the millions of dollars spent on that TV campaign has been more than offset by a real civilian making a real protest about Rudd's conduct and character. A classic ordinary Australian, Brisbane make-up artist Lily Fontana, used her Facebook account to make a spontaneous personal observation which emphatically confirmed the hundreds of media reports about Rudd's private personality.

If you missed her words it is worth reading them because they are so telling and they have gone viral: "Just finished doing Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott for the leadership forum at Broncos Leagues Club. One of them was absolutely lovely, engaged in genuine conversation with me, acknowledge that I had a job to do and was very appreciative. The other did the exact opposite! Oh boy, I have ever [sic] had anyone treat me so badly whilst trying to do my job. Political opinions aside … from one human being to another … Mr Abbott, you win hands down."

Embarrassed by the attention her comments received, Fontana removed them from Facebook, but not before another make-up artist, Abigael Johnston, added this: "I second that Lily. I have had a very similar experience." These are real political civilians, not paid actors.

Call it blowback, call it karma, but in Australia's longest-running election campaign, Julia Gillard and then Rudd both sought to make Tony Abbott's character the central issue and both saw their own reputations wilt instead. Rudd, with his distinct combination of owlish face, preachy persona, punctilious speech and negative tactics, is in danger of becoming what politicians most dread, a joke.


Rudd’s class war leave is hogwash

KEVIN Rudd is struggling to connect to Labor’s traditional blue-collar base with a blatant appeal to hate-filled class warfare not seen in Australia since the pre-Whitlam days and laid to rest under Bob Hawke.

"I have never believed in class warfare," Rudd said at the National Press Club in July during the first major speech of this turgid election campaign.  "I think some of the politics of class warfare, however exaggerated or not exaggerated, have not served us well in the past," he intoned.

Just last Wednesday, he adopted his folksy guise and proclaimed: "Mate, I’ve never been one that’s engaged in class warfare and whether it is the ol’ Twiggster or whether it’s Gina, I don’t care. I am about Australia. I’m about whoever wants to push the country forward and invest and be confident in the country’s future, and get out there and grow the economy."

It was his goal, he said, to bring about a more productive relationship between Labor and business and end the days of so-called class warfare.

Like many of his campaign statements, it was hogwash. He’s been vigorously demonising Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer (both job creators) as frequently as opportunity permits ever since and has now widened his attack to include working women who earn less than $150,000 a year.

How many women earn more than $100,000 in Australia? According to the statistics 1.7 per cent of all taxpayers are women aged 18 to 45 who earn over $100,000 a year, quite a number of whom would be employed in the public service.

Rudd is trying to undermine Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme by ignoring the fact women at the lower end of the pay spectrum will receive a more generous allowance under Abbott’s plan than they do under Labor, and disguise the fact that under Labor’s scheme some women in the public service - bloated beyond belief under Labor - could be more generously rewarded than under Abbott’s scheme.

Every woman in the federal public service earning less than $150,000 is eligible to receive the national entitlement of 18 weeks leave on the minimum wage - a payment of about $11,200. All federal public servants earning up to $150,000 get the 18 weeks on minimum wage payment and extra entitlements depending in which department they work. Hence the double dipping.

In the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, for example, the total available maternity leave runs to 18 weeks. In Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace, it runs to 17. Members of Parliament Staff, those employed in Finance, Treasury, the Bureau of Statistics and the Public Service Commission have 16 weeks, and so on. Under Kevin, it’s a fat cats’ heaven.

Chaotic Kevin is delivering an incoherent message about Abbott. On the one hand, the trim, well-exercised Rhodes Scholar with three daughters and a loving wife hates females and on the other, he is trying to make welfare queens out of professional women who want to start families.

As Rudd said about Abbott’s parental leave scheme in last week’s Broncos Leagues Club debate: "It’s a huge, huge, humungous policy which gives $75,000 to millionaires."

Not surprisingly, the supine Left-leaning media largely prefer to accept Rudd’s peculiar view than actually look at the policy detail - despite Abbott repeatedly pointing to the unjust anomalies in Labor’s plan.

As for MPs, two Labor women gave birth during the last parliament - Tanya Plibersek and Michelle Rowland.

Plibersek gave birth to her third child in October 2010 and took three weeks leave. Rowland gave birth to her first child in February 2012 and took maternity leave following the birth. She didn’t return to parliament until August 2012.

Both would have received their salary on leave (because there is no formal process for MPs to take leave, they are paid their salary regardless).

Neither would have received any benefits under the parental leave scheme because an MP’s salary is too high to be eligible for any benefits under the government’s scheme.

Why doesn’t Rudd think all Australian women deserve the same sort of benefits enjoyed by those employed by the Commonwealth? As Abbott said in response to a loaded question during last week’s debate: "If my staff … and Mr Rudd’s staff get their wage when they go on parental leave, why shouldn’t the factory worker and shop assistant also get their wage when they go on parental leave?
"If we get our wage when we go on holidays, when we go on long service, why shouldn’t we get our wage when we go on parental leave?"

As he said, he’s been upfront about his position. He wrote about it in his book on policy four years ago. It was the Coalition policy going into the last election and it’s "absolutely" Coalition policy going into this election. Further, it is fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office.

Rudd and Labor are campaigning on promises and lies, not their record. But we know from their record that Labor promises are worthless.  This latest Labor lie on Abbott’s parental leave scheme has been nailed.


Big spending Beattie and Rudd perfect partners

WHETHER you call it hide, chutzpah or the Dunning-Kruger effect, Peter Beattie's decision to run for the seat of Forde reveals a man who refuses to take responsibility for the disaster he wreaked on Queensland.

Having spent his early years as premier distracted by the Shepherdson inquiry into ALP electoral fraud and trying to broaden the "Smart State" from "rocks and crops" to "electronic games and biotechnology", Beattie settled into his true passion: spending tens of billions of dollars on poorly thought-through infrastructure adventures.

To do this, Beattie centralised power and sidelined naysayers. He achieved this objective on September 13, 2006, when he claimed he had "reshaped the government so that it is ideally positioned". What that meant was reducing the number of decision-makers to just two, himself and Anna Bligh, who became deputy premier, treasurer and minister for infrastructure.

Beattie's kitchenette cabinet was the forerunner to Kevin Rudd's Gang of Four, aka the Strategic Priorities and Budget Committee of Cabinet. According to Gang Member No 4 Lindsay Tanner, the SPBC usurped the role of cabinet and, by early 2010, "too much was being dealt with by SPBC, in an increasingly erratic fashion, and there were too many major items on our agenda".

If only Beattie and Rudd had read James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds. The author argues that non-expert "crowds" often produce better decisions than a few experts. That is because they draw on a diversity of independently formed opinions that are aggregated into a coherent decision: precisely the advantages of a properly functioning cabinet process.

Without that process, and with all other constraints removed, Queensland's Gang of Two managed to max out the AAA credit card in just four budgets. Beattie-Bligh grew the state capital program by 26 per cent per year in real terms for five years from $6 billion in 2004-05 to $17bn in 2008-09, or by $57 billion in total.

Did Queenslanders get value for money? Sadly, no. For starters, Beattie built during an unprecedented mining construction boom in Queensland where the costs for materials and labour were running at 25 to 50 per cent above long-run trends. And they had a complete disregard for cost-benefit analysis. Take the $9bn SEQ Water Grid, for example.

The most muddle-headed piece of that grid, the now fully decommissioned $2.5bn Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme, had just two customers - the Swanbank and Tarong power stations. Beattie forced these power stations to buy western corridor recycled water for $3200 per megalitre when the going rate for regular dam water was $380 per ML. To call this scheme hare-brained would be to insult any self-respecting hare.

With a slew of such decisions, Queensland lost its AAA credit rating in February 2009, just 18 months after Beattie's retirement.

Having been left to clean up the mess, Campbell Newman is being cast by Labor as the bad guy who created "a make-believe crisis, a Trojan horse for the programs of cuts, sackings and sell-offs". Newman is not the first premier elected who will spend most of his watch on cleaning duties and get no thanks from dopey opposition leaders.

On coming to power in October 1992, Victorian premier Jeff Kennett inherited an economy in deep recession, and a total state debt of $68bn. Kennett's interest bill was about $7bn a year in today's dollars, similar to that which Newman faces in Queensland. The ratings agencies downgraded Victoria three times between 1990 and 1992.

Forced into a corner by the bad decisions of his Labor predecessors, Kennett seized the opportunity to reduce expenditure and modernise Victoria's economy.

It has been the same story for Newman. Stuck with Beattie's borrowing legacy and bloated bureaucracy, Newman had no choice but to stop the unsustainable growth in the public service wage bill, which had increased by more than $1bn in Beattie's last three budgets, and cut annual capital spending to realistic levels.

The difficulty of Newman's task reflects the extent of the wreckage he inherited. In total, Beattie's follies cost Queensland more than $50bn.

Thanks to Pete, the electors of Forde are $922 million worse off - almost $12,000 per voter. This includes additional electricity charges of $1300 per voter, including for the network overbuild, the five per cent super profits that Beattie guaranteed to energy retailers and the mandated Queensland Gas Scheme. Add to that $1700 per voter for the water grid, the green schemes, the Smart State waste and the health payroll debacle. Then there are the interest payments and the standard cost of taxation. Those costs combined amount to $8500 per elector.

Yet Beattie remains delusional, arguing in these pages on the weekend that he invented the coal seam gas industry in Queensland by mandating the 13 per cent gas scheme. In reality, all that scheme did was to increase electricity costs to households by $523m.

But Beattie can't face up to any of that. Endless ambition, and an addiction to the public teat, preclude even the basic honesty to accept responsibility. Little wonder he has teamed up with Rudd. It's the marriage made in heaven of the nation's two ultimate Hollowmen - who would take the country to hell.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Multiculturalism thriving in Melbourne:  Woman badly beaten up on bus by African thugs

Melbourne has seen a lot of violence from Africans

A 26-YEAR-OLD woman is in hospital after being beaten unconscious by a group of people on a full Melbourne bus early on Sunday morning.

The 26-year-old St Kilda woman complained to the driver after the rowdy group boarded the bus in the city, because they were being boisterous and knocking into other passengers.

After she complained, one of the women in the group threw a drink over the St Kilda woman then punched her in the face, police say.

Other group members then dragged the woman to the ground where they punched and kicked her body and head until she was unconscious.

Several other people had also complained to the driver about the group, which was standing in the aisle because the bus was full.

The group fled after the bus driver opened the door on Swanston Street.

The victim was treated at the scene and taken to hospital for treatment where she is in a stable condition.

Police say the group of six or seven males and two females boarded the NightRider in the city about 2.30am (AEST) on Sunday morning and are perceived to be of African appearance.

They will review CCTV as part of their investigation.


The cost of waiting for education can be $4500 for parents wanting their children to attend private schools

What does that tell you about "free" government schools?

PARENTS spend up to $4500 to secure a private school place in Queensland, with many putting their children's names on multiple waiting lists.  Some schools send out bills of more than $1500 years in advance.

An investigation of enrolment application, confirmation and advance school fees shows parents pay the most, between $4000 and $4500, to secure and keep a spot at Brisbane Grammar School, the state's most consistent top academic performer in NAPLAN and OPs.

The $4000-$4500 includes a $400 application fee, which does not guarantee a place, and a $1600 confirmation fee, which confirms enrolment and is payable up to three years before a student starts. The fees are non-refundable.

Parents are asked to pay an advance fee of $2500 for Years 8 to 12, or $2000 for Years 6 and 7, depending on when they start.

The fee, which is charged once and is non-refundable, apart from exceptional circumstances, comes off a student's first year of school fees.

Brisbane Girls Grammar School (BGGS), another consistent top academic performer, also charges a $2000 advance fee, which comes off the first year of fees, but is refunded if the school finds a replacement.

Families of girls starting Year 7 in 2016 at BGGS have received an invoice already for their $1600 confirmation fee, while the advance fee for students starting next year had to be paid by June 10 this year.

Most Independent schools analysed charge non-refundable application or confirmation fees.  But some did not charge any. 

In the Catholic sector, application and confirmation fees range from $0 to more than $2000, with St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace, charging an enrolment bond of $2200 for Year 8.

Most state schools do not charge fees before a student starts.

An Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) survey What Parents Want in 2011 found just over one-third of parents had their child's their name on a waiting list for more than one school, with about 13 per cent choosing three or more.

ISQ executive director David Robertson said enrolment fees were fair given schools' administration costs and to ensure parents were serious about enrolment and "actually making a commitment".

"In proper planning terms, a school plans their forward enrolments by several years ... So I think, in that respect, it is justifiable," he said.

Mr Robertson said the fees were also small in comparison to what parents would pay overall during their child's time at the school.


Former water polo champ adds daughters' names to private school waiting list at eight weeks of age

HARPER Miller is only 10 weeks old but she is already on a high school waiting list.

For some parents, deciding where to send their child to school is a vexed process but not for Carly Miller.  The former Australian women's water polo squad member and Brisbane Girls Grammar School (BGGS) student has fond memories of inter-school sports carnivals and of camaraderie and competition among every girl, every day to be their best, whether it be in the classroom or on the sporting field.

"I do think that everybody strives to be the best that they can be," she said of students at her former school.

"I think that there is a healthy competition at Grammar, so you are encouraged to give it your best shot and, obviously because your parents are paying a lot of money for you to be there, you want to do the best you can.

"I revelled in the sporting side of things at Grammar and made some really good friends that I am still in contact with today and I also think it is just a great school. It offers something to everybody, I believe."

The mother-of-three put her two daughters' names down on the BGGS waiting list within eight weeks of their birth "just to ensure that we didn't miss out".

"I would hate them to miss out on the opportunity if that is where we can afford to send them one day," she said.

"I had such a great time there. It's just a great environment to be in."

She said a good education was extremely important, providing a great foundation in life, which opened up doors and she wanted that for her children.


Grass versus Kangaroos

Kangaroos lost.  It's not only people that Greenies don't like

Animal welfare activists are using the federal election to punish the ACT Greens for last month's kangaroo cull.

The Animal Justice Party - which secured the ideal "A" spot on the ACT Senate ballot paper - has placed the Greens last on its preference list.

ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, who is the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, oversaw the shooting deaths of about 1450 kangaroos last month to protect rare grasslands from overgrazing.

The Greens' lead Senate candidate, Simon Sheikh, said on Sunday the Animal Justice Party's "silly decision" was disappointing.  "Many of the party's supporters have found out about this and told me they are deeply disappointed."

Yet the fledgling party's national campaign director, Willow Sloane, said the Greens had betrayed voters and must be sent a strong message.

"Mr Rattenbury signed off on the murder of up to 1600 kangaroos, despite extremely credible scientific evidence showing that a no-kill alternative was [preferable] and also far cheaper for taxpayers," she said.

Her party was right to be "totally uncompromising", she said.  "Until now, people concerned by the treatment of animals usually voted for the Greens," she said.  "They were probably just as shocked as us by what we saw last month: their blatant disregard, their lack of compassion and their lack of ethics."

Mr Sheikh said Canberrans should "reject the preferences that parties tell them" and decide for themselves whom to preference.

He was proud of his record on animal rights in his former role as national director of GetUp! - which campaigned to ban live exports.  "I worked alongside the leaders of the animal rights movement in Australia and I'm convinced voters will realise the Greens are the party best placed to champion these issues," Mr Sheikh said.

After last month's cull, Mr Rattenbury said he wanted to explore alternatives in future, such as tranquilising and moving kangaroos to other parts of the ACT.

Yet Animal Justice Party ACT candidate Marcus Fillinger, an air force marksman who also runs an animal shelter, dismissed the minister's change of heart as a late attempt to win preferences.

"[The Greens] wanted to talk preferences while kangaroos were getting their heads blown off," Mr Fillinger said. "It's a dirty, dirty game.  "When Mr Rattenbury is rubber-stamping a permit to kill, I take it personally."

In Senate elections, most voters - about three in four in the ACT - take the simpler option of voting "above the line". The party that wins an above-the-line vote gets to decide how these voters' preferences flow.

When choosing which of the larger parties to favour, the Animal Justice Party settled on Labor, the Liberals and then the Greens. The Bullet Train for Australia Party opted for the Greens, Labor then the Liberals.

However, the Stable Population Party split its vote three ways, giving the three larger parties an equal share of preferences.


Fishermen slam radical catch limit plan in NSW

A review of recreational fishing rules in NSW, which includes recommendations to halve the allowable daily catch for many popular south coast species, has been widely condemned by angling groups as lazy, poorly timed and lacking in science and logic.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has received more than 3500 submissions on the discussion paper which recommends a 50 per cent reduction in fishing bag limits for species such as snapper, flathead, tailor, trevally, luderick and bream.  The review also recommends a combined total daily catch limit of 20 or 30 saltwater finfish.

President of the Canberra Fisherman's Club, Glen Malam, said the recommendations had no conservation basis and the review was poorly timed ahead of a major survey of recreational anglers due next year.

"Our main view is that there is absolutely no science behind it – there is really no logic behind it."  "For some of these species there really isn't any logical reason [to reduce bag limits].

Mr Malam said the recommendations might achieve the [department's] aim of reducing the complexity of fishing rules for different species, but that was no basis for the intelligent management of a fishery.

He said if the department was serious about conservation and managing fish stocks for the future it should examine bag limits on larger fish.

"You can wipe out a couple of hundred small fish that are undersize and it doesn't have much impact.  "Take out two or three really big fish and that could mean several thousand fish won't be there next year."

President of the Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA) NSW branch, Stan Konstantaras, described the review process as "lazy" and lacking any solid science.  “The first question you have to ask is 'are recreation fishing stocks in danger?' That question hasn't been answered ever," he said.

Mr Konstantaras said the review ignored community concerns about commercial fishing activities such as the netting of estuaries.

"Instead it has just proposed a broad-brush 50 per cent reduction in recreational fishing bag limits."  "They have taken the easy option. It's no different to the debate we had around marine parks. And the sanctuary zones – there was no science there either."

Mr Konstantaras said he wouldn't be against changes if there was evidence to suggest they were necessary.

“If our bream are in danger or under threat from recreational fishing activity then tell us why and tell us what we need to do," he said.  “We are sustainable anglers and if we need to change our activities and curtail what we take then so be it.  “But as far as we know our fish stocks are healthy and there is not any recreational fishing species under threat."

The review recommends even tougher bag limits for some deep-water species.  A reduction of 60 per cent (five to two) in the daily catch limit is proposed for blue-eye trevalla, banded rockcod, hapuka and gemfish.

Mr Malam said anglers spent hundreds of dollars travelling well out to sea to chase these species.

"To spend an hour travelling out to sea to catch two fish in 10 minutes then turn around and come back – it's just silly really."

The office of NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson declined a request to speak to the minister about criticisms of the review. Instead, Fairfax Media was referred to the department's manager of recreational fisheries, Bryan van der Walt.

"We've developed the discussion paper in light of a lot of issues," Mr van der Walt said. "The recreational sector in NSW is a large sector – there are one million fishers in NSW – so we do these reviews periodically – the last one was in 2007. Between reviews we get a lot of representations from the community about various things.

"One of those things is the potential reduction in bag limits which provide for greater conservation of our fish stocks but also a fairer sharing of the catch between fishers."

He said the department used all of the scientific information available to it. "We try and undertake assessments of around 100 different species every year. Our scientists undertake these assessments with the information that is available to us and we assess the status of those stocks. For most of the stocks we do have information, but for some species, there certainly are some information gaps."


Sunday, August 25, 2013


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG comments on the campaign launch of the Green Party.


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is amused at the Leftist reaction to Abbott's boat-buying proposal.

More traitors to conservative voters

It was Oakeshott and Windsor last time. This time it is Palmer and Katter. Greens to get crucial Senate preferences from independent conservative candidates

Last week more than 40 parties lodged their Senate ''group voting tickets'' with the Australian Electoral Commission. Like native bird populations during a drought, these parties disappear in between elections only to magically appear at an election to funnel votes to the party lucky enough to benefit from back-room preference deals.

Now, if you would please tell me where your Senate above-the-line preferences go, I will be far more comfortable. But, be honest - you haven't a clue.

Senate ballot papers are more than a metre long in some states. A record number of voters are set to put their vote ''above the line'', and then they won't have preferences; other parties will determine them for them.

This is where the fun starts. Let's start with Clive Palmer. Clive has billions of dollars worth of coal assets and a nickel refinery near Townsville. It is perfectly logical then that he has preferenced the Greens; a party that wants to phase out coalmining and shut down Clive's nickel refinery.

Indeed, Clive's preferences are a wild ride. In Queensland, if you vote for Clive Palmer, your votes go to Family First, then to the Socialists, then to the Greens, Fishing and Lifestyle, Katter, the LNP, One Nation, Democrats and finally to the Australian Christians, presumably to ask forgiveness.

Who knew Clive had such a fondness for unreconstructed socialists? They are his second preference. He wants to be PM; perhaps he will be the Hugo Chavez of the South Seas. It is not just Queensland though. Clive is preferencing the Greens ahead of the major parties, and ahead of many minor parties, in all states. What a paradox? Clive's entry may protect the balance of power of the Greens, perhaps one billionaire the Greens will learn to love.

The Katter party, which ostensibly is opposed to everything Green, is preferencing the Greens ahead of the Liberals in the ACT, and ahead of Nick Xenophon in South Australia. Bob Katter may be instrumental in helping the Greens keep the balance of power by helping a Green senator to be elected in the ACT.

Bob has also done a deal with the Labor Party in Queensland. Bob represents a conservative electorate where more than 60 per cent of voters preferred the LNP to Labor at the last election. Bob has been preparing the ground. He needs Labor's preferences, and he needs the money of the trade unions. He has been voting accordingly.

This year Bob voted more with Labor in Parliament than with the Coalition. He supported right of union entry laws and the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, and opposed attempts to impose the same fines and penalties on union officials that are imposed on company directors who do the wrong thing. He failed to turn up to a vote of no confidence in the government.

Bob is now a member of the Green-Labor-Independent government, and Clive has lodged his application. The rainbow coalition continues through the back-room deals of preferences, against the interests of the people they represent.

Haven't we had enough of this? The past three years show what a disaster it can be when minor parties and independents run things. Minority government is an experiment that has failed, but it will continue in a different form if people go shopping in the Senate. And, the Senate ballot paper does look like a shopping list. People like to go shopping. They like fishing, so they vote for the fishing party. Their garden is green, and they like their garden, so they vote Green.

The problem is that once you number ''1'' above the line, what happens next remains a mystery to most. That vote for Clive Palmer may elect a Green and a vote for Bob Katter may elect Labor.

This is not democracy, it is the selection of a parliament by deals, not by votes.

Don Chipp once said the Senate was there to ''keep the bastards honest''. I think it is a little simpler this time; we just need to know which bastard their bastard is passing your vote to.


NSW Premier accused of racial slur for alluding to affirmative action

As in America, Leftists lean over backwards to give preference to blacks.  They haven't made a black lamebrain their Prime Minister yet, though.  A female lamebrain had to do

Barry O'Farrell has been called on to apologise for a perceived racial slur against the Labor frontbencher Linda Burney after he declared she hadn't achieved her career success on merit.

Ms Burney, the first Aborigine elected to the NSW parliament and a former national ALP president, served as minister for community services in the former Labor government and is deputy leader of the opposition.

During a heated exchange in question time on Tuesday over whether the current community services minister, Pru Goward, had misled parliament over caseworker numbers, Ms Burney said Ms Goward had "lost the confidence of every caseworker in this state".

The Premier responded that Ms Goward "has achieved every position in her life on merit", before turning to Ms Burney and declaring: "You can't say that."

The comment was met with laughter from the government backbench.

Opposition leader John Robertson said Mr O'Farrell to apologise for the comments "which have no place in Australia".

"Ms Burney is unequalled in merit and achievement," he said in a statement. "In addition to being the first indigenous person elected to the state's Parliament and first indigenous minister, Ms Burney is the chairperson of the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council, has spoken at the United Nations on three separate occasions and is a former President of the Australian Labor Party."

"It would be inappropriate for any member of the community to make those sorts of comments, let alone the Premier of NSW".

Mr O'Farrell has a history of taunting Ms Burney in parliament. He once joked that she could play "hooker" in a rugby league team and accused her of "casting her spells".

At a media conference shortly after question time, Ms Burney said she had "come to expect those sorts of insults from Premier O'Farrell".

"It's not the first time he's made those sort of imputations about me and my capacity," she said.

"I have won every position I've ever had based on my capacity and my merit. The Premier continues to make a fool of himself when he says those sorts of things."

Asked if she believed the comment was racially motivated, Ms Burney said she "can't prove that. All I can say he's made imputations about my reputation, my capacity ... and he needs to be able to back those up."

Ms Burney, the member for Canterbury, is a former school teacher who holds an honorary doctorate in education from Charles Sturt University.

She has served on the boards of SBS, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board and the NSW Board of Studies.

Mr O'Farrell's office has been approached for comment but has denied our request.


Privacy legilsation could have a `chilling effect' on freedom of speech

UNLESS the federal government abandons or radically changes its plans for a new way of suing for privacy, publishers and broadcasters face years of legal uncertainty that will have a "chilling effect" on free speech, media lawyers have warned.

"Privacy can be as wide as you want it to be," said Justin Quill of Kelly Hazell Quill.

"Even if this is never used, its mere existence will have a chilling effect and will lead to news editors taking out facts from stories for fear of being sued," he said.

His concerns are in line with those of media lawyer Nic Pullen of HWL Ebsworth, who was worried about uncertainty because the planned civil action "will hand everything over to the judges".

In 2008, the Australian Law Reform Commission recommended that the government should enact a privacy tort, but should not state clearly which areas of life would fall within its scope.

"Clear lines demarcating areas in which privacy can be enjoyed should not be drawn in advance," the commission's report said.

It recommended that the new cause of action should arise whenever there is a "reasonable expectation" of privacy and a serious invasion of privacy takes place that is considered highly offensive.

The commission favoured "leaving it open to the courts to determine when a reasonable expectation of privacy exists".

This "should not be limited to activities taking place in the home or in private places".

But the ALRC said it was in favour of what it described as "the narrower view" of the circumstances in which "a public act can be private". An example was when Britain's Mirror newspaper was found to have breached the privacy of model Naomi Campbell, who had drug problems, by publishing a picture of her on a street outside Narcotics Anonymous. The paper had to pay more than pound stg. 1 million in legal costs.

Mr Pullen said he was worried about the government's proposal because he believed it would be almost impossible to define "privacy" in a way that eliminated legal uncertainty. He said the government's priority should be to determine whether there were enough infringements to justify a new legal action. It should focus on trying to confine the definition of privacy to those areas considered appropriate, and only then should it turn to the question of defences.

Mr Pullen's concern comes soon after Privacy Minister Brendan O'Connor said the new civil action would contain a "public interest" defence for the media.

Mr Pullen and Mr Quill both dismissed the significance of the defence. Mr Pullen said the track record of the judiciary on free speech suggested that the defence was unlikely to be effective.


A top heavy public service

The Commonwealth public service is roughly the same size today as it was two decades ago. So why does the Coalition want to cut the public service by 12,000?

Is this just a drive to balance the books on the back of the public sector, as the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) would have you believe, or is the public sector bloated and in need of pruning?

Tony Abbott plans to cut 12,000 public servants by attrition rather than by sackings. But this is a simplistic approach to reducing the burden of the public sector.

The Commonwealth public service shed roughly a third of its workforce between 1993 and 1999.

Some of the job losses were the result of privatisation, while many were the result of a concerted effort by the Howard government to reduce the burden of the public sector.

It has since recovered to where it was in 1993, but with one important difference - the cost.

The public service costs a lot more today because its makeup has changed. There are far fewer entry-level employees and far more managerial level staff. In 1998, there were 7,323 entry-level public servants (APS1) accounting for 6.7% of the ongoing public service. In 2012, there were just 895 APS1 comprising 0.6% of the ongoing public service - a decline of 87%.

Further up the hierarchy, the number of executive level employees (EL1 and EL2) employees has ballooned since 1998. EL1 employees have increased by 250% and EL2 employees by 190%.

As former Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner observed in 2007, there are 'fewer people actually delivering services on the ground, and a lot more chiefs, a lot more fat cats, a lot more people at the top end earning very high salaries.'

If the Coalition wants to make a lasting impact on the cost of the public service, it needs to look at the composition of the service, and address the growing number of agencies and programs that necessitate greater government spending and more public servants.

Otherwise when the nation returns to surpluses and cost pressures fade, the public service will grow once again, and negate any savings made today.



Friday, August 23, 2013


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG comments on shutting Rudd up

Insane ruling by Labor party apparatchiks

This is the sort of destructive ruling that many feared from Kevvy's "Fair Work" regulator.  Low pay is the incentive for tradesmen to take on apprentices.  This will drastically reduce the availability of apprenticeships

Employers may look to bring in more overseas workers after a landmark Fair Work Commission ruling that will see apprentices receive massive pay rises of as much as $100 a week.

The change was needed because many apprentices are much older than they were in previous generations, the commission ruled.

The decision will revolutionise a regime that employs more than 500,000 apprentices and trainees across Australia.

Employers lashed the ruling saying it would destroy the apprenticeship system and hurt tens of thousands of businesses.

And one employer group said the decision would lead to more overseas workers being brought in, because of the expense of local apprentices.

As part of the decision, pay rates for a typical first year apprentice who had finished high school will rise from about $304 to nearly $400 – an increase of almost a third.

Electrical apprentices with Year 12 qualifications will get an extra $109 a week, while a first-year hairdresser will get an extra $145 a week.

In its decision the commission said apprentice wage rates had not kept with changes to the workforce and society.

Current wage structures were set when most apprentices were 14, 15 or 16 years old when they began, the ruling said.

"Many are now 17 or older and have completed Year 12 schooling, and are already undertaking part-time or casual work with higher wages than they receive under an apprenticeship," the decision said. "Increased [pay] rates may assist to improve the attractiveness of apprenticeships compared to other training or employment options for young people."

The decision will be phased in over 18 months to existing apprentices, but will apply in full to new apprentices starting in January 2014.

Lower rates will remain for apprentices who have not finished high school.

The ruling said that the improved pay rates could assist in many more apprentices completing their qualification – only about half do so at present.

About half of the nation's new apprentices are now 21 or older.

Employers reacted on Thursday with outrage to the decision.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson said the ruling was a body blow.

"Australians wanting to tackle youth unemployment should view this decision with grave concern ... Dramatically increased employment costs will cruel the capability of employers to take on apprentices in an affordable way," he said. "Increasing the costs of employing an apprentice not only impacts employers, but destroys the opportunities for many young people want to develop a career in the trades.”

Master Electricians Australia workplace relations manager Jason O'Dwyer also said the ruling was a "significant blow" to productivity and the economy.

“This will force Australia to rely heavily on importing qualified tradesmen from overseas to fill the gap left behind by apprentices. Other countries such as Ireland commence apprentices at 30 per cent of the tradesman rate," he said.

The ACTU however welcomed the decision and said it would boost workforce skills.

“This is a great outcome for current and future apprentices and for the broader economy,” ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said.   "Current wages see apprentices barely able to meet living costs; they are considerably less than other job options and barely more than the Newstart allowance.”


Amusing.  Empiricism without evidence?

The article below by Australian socialist Andrew Hunter appeared in a major newspaper under the heading:  "Empiricism must be defended".  Fair enough.  I am an unrelenting empiricist and have 200+ published academic journal articles to prove it.  But Hunter shows no evidence of being an empiricist at all. 

Empiricism means "going by the facts" or "respecting the data" or "going by what our senses tell us".  Yet in his diatribe in defence of "climate change" below, Hunter mentions not one climate fact or data point.  He prefers airy waffle and vague generalities.  He gives an appearance of erudition while displaying zero erudition concerning the theory he defends.  The best he can do is an appeal to authority at one point.  Strange empiricism indeed!  I must confess that Mr Hunter's amusing lack of self-awareness has rather made my day.

One rather doubts his sanity -- except that saying one thing and doing another is typical Leftism.  Barack Obama take a bow

Alan Jones stood in front of the nation's seat of government in June to generate public concern about wind turbines, and to publicly demand the renewable energy target be scrapped. The lack of empirical evidence in support of his position did not deter him. Jones and other prominent conservative public figures in Australia appear determined to erase the legacy of the Enlightenment.

The continuing legacy of the Enlightenment period constitutes one of the most creative strands in the fabric of Western civilisation. While some prominent ideas of the Enlightenment were misappropriated to justify odious events, such as the Terror in France and later colonisation, it also bestowed to future generations an important intellectual legacy.

A heterogeneous discourse, the European Enlightenment was stimulated by contact with the great non-European civilisations of China, India and Russia. It grew out of the Renaissance, itself essentially a rediscovery, re-evaluation and extension of scientific and cultural traditions of classical antiquity.

At the core of these traditions, in all of their immense complexity, was the principle of seeking truth - truth about the nature of the cosmos, truth about the fundamental nature of the human race, truth about the organisation of society. Truth discovered through a commitment to empirical research, based on careful observation and the logical analysis of verifiable facts.

Jones acted in the knowledge that a concerted campaign in the mainstream media will often overwhelm positions based on science, evidence and reason. This has been made abundantly clear in the climate change debate. Public debate in Australia (and elsewhere) is now increasingly dominated by often unsubstantiated positions devoid of empirical basis.

Other traditions have always existed. The history of Western society has been marked by periodic swings of the pendulum. There were periods when the spirit of inquiry has been in the ascendant, as well as long centuries when this spirit has been eclipsed and replaced by faith in religious authority, dogma or unsubstantiated personal beliefs. It appears we are witnessing another such swing of the pendulum.

As did Jones, Coalition Senator Cory Bernardi recently asserted on Q&A that climate change is not influenced by human activity. Although every national scientific body in the world, including the Australian Academy of Science, appears to be of the same accord, Bernardi insists there is no consensus within the scientific community.

Bernardi's arguments draw heavily on his personal beliefs. Later on the Q&A program, he referred to his commitment to protecting "Western values" that he asserted were based on the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Bernardi extolled the virtues of reciprocity. He inferred that reciprocity concept was unique to the Christian ethic, which in turn constituted the very foundation of Western civilisation and the Western values system.

He might have convinced some viewers but his assertions would not have stood up to even modest interrogation. The concept of reciprocity is central to most religions and ethical systems that have survived through time - if only for the reason that it is critical to a harmonious, functioning society.

The role of secularism was another core value of the Enlightenment. In a functioning democratic society, tolerance of different religious beliefs sits comfortably alongside a commitment to science and evidence-based public policy. Bernardi is able to practise his faith in Australia - and Ed Husic his - because we live in a secular, rational society. An equally rational approach should inform our environmental policy.

If public figures in a secular society have a values system based on faith, they should not hide from it. There is much beauty, wisdom and peace to be found in the scriptures. Personal values that inform public policy, however, should be considered alongside a profound reflection about the human condition, a dispassionate study of history and rational thinking.

To claim an ethical and intellectual tradition supposedly common to Western nations has come from a single source is intellectually unsound. So far as a common philosophical or ethical tradition exists, Western thinking is the product of a continually evolving sum of a vast range of influences.

Christian teachings have made an enormous contribution to the civilisation of the West but it also owes as much to classical Greece and Rome - in turn deeply influenced by Egypt, Persian as the other ancient societies of the Middle East, the pre-Christian Celts and Germans - and to the brilliant civilisation of mediaeval Islam. Conservative champions of Western values would benefit greatly from some knowledge of history.

Bernardi has apparently written a book, The Conservative Revolution, that explains how the "pillars of Western civilisation" are "under threat". Its integrity may unwittingly prove its underlying thesis.

Science, rationality and empiricism, once pillars of political discourse in Western democracies, have been weakened of late. Unfortunately, the instincts of most modern politicians often militate against a necessary resistance to this unfortunate tendency.

On issues of enduring importance, strong political movements must occasionally sacrifice political ground over the short term to win the long game. Those who have sided with populist, unsubstantiated personal positions on climate change in recent years will be judged poorly in the future.

A public naturally resistant to change will be disinclined to support action on climate change until all doubt is removed. Conservatives have successfully cultivated doubt that action is necessary, and have benefited politically.

Labor has a legacy to protect in the immediate period - a task that will be made easier if it grasps every opportunity to express indignation at the intellectually weak positions of Jones, Bernardi and many of their conservative allies.

We must fight to ensure empiricism remains central to policymaking and political discourse. To do so would benefit the national interest. It would also protect a critical tenet of the Enlightenment: the role science and reason plays in our understanding of the world.


Black racist murders Australian sportsman

[Video at link below]

THE teenagers charged over the murder of Melbourne man Chris Lane will be isolated from one another and other inmates in an Oklahoma jail as long as they are there.

District Attorney Jason Hicks said yesterday that it could be months or longer before the three - James Edwards, 15, Chancey Luna, 16, and Michael Jones, 17 - would face trial. It was too early to say whether they would be tried separately or together.  Their next hearings are in October.

It comes as Edwards, who has been charged with first-degree murder, posted racist tweets saying he hated white people in the months before the shooting.

Edwards posted statements on his Twitter feed including a comment on April 29 where he tweeted "90% of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM".

Edwards also weighed when George Zimmerman was acquitted over the death of Trayvon Martin.

"Ayeee I knocced out 5 woods since Zimmerman court!:) lol sh*t ima keep sleepin sh*t! #ayeeee."

"Woods" is derogatory slang for white people. The feed also contains tweets glorifying violence, guns and gangs.


Adelaide mosque preacher Sheikh Sharif Hussein directs fury at Buddhists, Hindus, Howard and Obama

AN Adelaide Islamic preacher calls for all Buddhists and Hindus to be killed and describes Australian soldiers as "Crusader pigs" in an online video.

Sheikh Sharif Hussein, in a video clip published by the US-based Middle East Media Research Institute, also attacks Jews, former prime minister John Howard, US President Barack Obama, and Australian troops.

“Tens of thousands of women were raped in Iraq, by the American and British crusader troops, aided by the Australian troops,” he says.

“The Australian participation in the Crusaders’ war on Iraq is 6 per cent. This is out of approximately 365,000 Crusader pigs sent to Iraq, during the term of (Mr Howard), Allah’s wrath be upon him.

“Listen, oh Obama, oh enemy of Allah, you who kiss the shoes and feet of the Jews. Listen! The day will come when you are trampled upon by the pure feet of the Muslims.

“Oh Allah, count the Buddhists and the Hindus one by one. Oh Allah, count them and kill them to the very last one.”

The Advertiser has confirmed the translation of Sheikh Hussein’s speech with independent translators.

Sheikh Hussein is known in Adelaide’s Islamic community, used to be connected to the Marion mosque in Park Holme, and has preached at the Islamic Da’wah Centre of SA in Torrensville.

Their website contains clips of other speeches and the disclaimer that “the views expressed in our videos and lectures are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect IDCSA’s management or media policy”.

He could not be contacted for this article.

His comments were quickly condemned as “ravings” and “hate speech”.

Multicultural Affairs Minister Jennifer Rankine said they were “the ravings of someone completely out of touch with the views of South Australians”.

“His disgusting words are not representative of our diverse and multicultural community,” she said.

Liberal South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi slammed the comments as “very disturbing” and called on the Muslim community to denounce them.

“This video and transcript suggest that we can no longer afford to ignore these radical elements within our community and say they don’t exist here because clearly they do,” he said.

“This hate speech has no place in our society and it needs to be publicly condemned by all Australians including members of the Muslim community.”

City councillor and Muslim Houssam Abiad said Muslims owed their allegiance to Australia and Islam was “a religion of peace and tolerance” that taught believers to respect a country’s laws.

“Many have migrated to Australia escaping war and political persecution, unfortunately some people also packed in their bags many ideologies representative of their experiences and brought them with them,” he said.

“As an Australian Muslim … I have survived a war  and I recognise that Australia has given me opportunities that will never be equal to any other in the world, and we should owe our allegiance to this country and what it has given us.”

In response to Sheikh Hussein’s comments, the management committee of the Islamic Society of South Australia  said it wanted to remind everyone that it was difficult to comment on "edited materials without dates or any other specifics relating to the actual material".

"The Islamic Society of South Australia and the Muslim community of South Australia represent a peaceful multicultural sector contributing to the wonderful and varied fabric of the wider Australian community," it said in a media release.

"It must be noted that Islam’s overwhelming message is that of peace.

"The Islamic Society of South Australia would therefore NOT support any comments made either locally, nationally or internationally, which are not in accordance with this message."


Another story about the real Rudd

Consistent with much else that has been said about him before by his staff and others

A MAKE-up artist who says she smoothed the complexions of Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott ahead of last night's people's forum has hinted that the Prime Minister was rude to her.

Lily Fontana, a Brisbane make up artist, took to Facebook after her encounter with the leaders, praising Mr Abbott but saying one of the men had treated her terribly.

"Just finished doing Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott's makeup for the People's Forum at the Broncos Leagues Club," she wrote.

"One of them was absolutely lovely, engaged in genuine conversation with me, acknowledge that I had a job to do and was very appreciative. The other did the exact opposite! Oh boy, I have ever had anyone treat me so badly."

Ms Fontana has since removed the post writing: "Didn't think my personal page/opinion of my day would get so much attention. What a lesson to learn. I've removed the post and regret making the comments I did."

Her Facebook page is currently showing a "sorry, this page isn't available" message, though it's not clear if the issue is a technical glitch or if the page has been removed from the site.

An ALP spokesperson said no one from the Labor Party has been in touch with Ms Fontana.

Mr Rudd has denied he was rude to the make-up artist who prepared him for last night's debate, claiming to was a "misunderstanding".