Monday, August 31, 2015

Does Australia have poor quality teachers?

In its amusing Leftist way, "New Matilda" has broached this question.  Conservative State and Federal politicians have said that the quality of teaching in Australian schools needs to be raised and this has aroused "New Matilda" ire.  So I read the characteristically long-winded article concerned right through looking for contrary evidence.  There was none. It was just a very wordy fulmination.  It was just an outpouring of rage, as one expects from Leftists. I reproduce some of it below.

Most amusing of all, they DO look at the evidence on one thing:  The policy of the last Labour government of giving every child a laptop computer.  So this wonderful Leftist idea worked wonders? No. They quite fairly point out that it did no good at all!

So are there any scholarly comments or constuctive suggestions in the article?  I can't see any.  It is just an offended shriek.

I was also amused that the two female writers confessed that they are not themselves teachers.  Leftists love "ad hominem" arguments so let me use one against them.  I taught for many years at both the secondary school and university levels and, along the way, got to see a bit about my fellow teachers.  And the unavoidable conclusion is that teacher quality is very patchy. 

And teacher training has got nothing to do with it.  Like university degrees for nurses, it may even be a negative influence.  The expansion of teacher training from one year to four has certainly not been shown to raise teaching quality.

As the "Teach for America" program has clearly shown, teachers are largely born, not made.  And born teachers are rare.  So I concur with the judgements of some of my fellow conservatives that teaching quality in our schools is often poor.

Unlike them and unlike "New Matilda", however, I have a solution that works and has been working for many years.  Teachers themselves usually decry it but the evidence has long been in.

What is needed are large class sizes so that the limited teaching talent that is available can be spread widely.  I can dig up plenty of research evidence to that effect if anybody wants it.

Teachers are the scapegoats for any shortcomings in our education system. Maurie Mulheron, the President of the NSW Teacher’s Federation, who is an actual teacher, who has taught actual students, in actual classrooms, argues that, “Many of our schools are akin to emergency wards in hospitals. No-one talks about the quality of doctors and nurses – they talk about the quality of health and the resources the hospitals need”.

Furthermore, reforms have characteristically happened to schools and teachers, rather than in collaboration with them. Funds are issued and cut upon the whim of the politician, and the syllabus, particularly Australian history, is a political plaything.

But if you ask Christopher Pyne, he will insist that a researcher once told him that “teachers are the biggest influence on student’s achievement”, and thus you do not need any more ‘resources’ aka ‘money’.

Piccoli and Pyne must be the products of exceptional maths teachers, because what they are doing is economically clever, albeit socially inexcusable. Pyne, in an article written at the beginning of the last year, argued:

“The quality of our teaching and quality of our teachers is seen as one of the important, if not most important, determinants affecting education performance…. A quality education system must be underpinned by quality teachers. The profession knows it, parents want it, our students deserve it and the nation needs it.”
Inspiring stuff. Except for the part where he says that teachers have been very bad for a while now, and despite his best efforts, he cannot sculpt a quality education system out of crappy teachers.

Apparently teachers are letting down parents, students, and, well, not to exaggerate, but the entire nation. You know how everything in the United States is Obama’s fault? Teachers are Australia’s Obama.

Can’t get a job? Thanks TEACHERS

Kicked your toe? Thanks TEACHERS

Nation goes to war? Thanks TEACHERS

If we weren’t so angry, we would almost respect Pyne’s political manoeuvre to shift all blame for everything that goes wrong onto one of the most underpaid and undervalued occupations.

It is borderline genius.

To clarify, Pyne would have us believe that it is the individuals who educate our nation’s children, who teach them to read and write, and add and subtract, and speak languages and draw, and play the bloody recorder (now THAT, they owe an apology for), and understand their bodies and sexual development, and discipline and focus, who are to blame for students’ less than exceptional results.

It is the individuals who accept the wage which may mean they can never own a home in Sydney, or claim helicopter rides on tax, or go out to fancy lunches and get drunk on Fridays, who must work harder, and study Masters and PhDs which do not necessarily correspond to more money, who need to ‘be better at your job plz’ quote Mr Pyne.

Pyne might have had a little more credibility if he had read the research correctly.

The Conversation ran an article a few years ago, which clarified that whilst teachers are the biggest in-school influence, various other school and non-school factors far outweigh the influence of teachers. Funding matters, as does socio-economic status, and available resources.

We’re no ‘Education Minister’, but we do not accept that the alleged “dumbing down” of students is a result of teacher quality.

You know what this week is, Pyne and Piccoli? It’s Book Week.

Primary School teachers all over Australia are dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. We would take your argument more seriously if you were dressed as Voldemort and Humpty Dumpty respectively. Oh, and Joe Hockey can be Robin Hood, except he steals from the poor and gives to the rich.

There is a great deal that NAPLAN cannot test. Among them is enthusiasm for learning and teacher quality.

So it’s time for Pyne and Piccoli, who have fabricated the teacher’s fall, and criticised them for not doing it all, to get all the state governments and all those Liberal men, to try and build up the teaching profession again. [How?  More money, I guess.  That's the invariant call from teacher unions.  It has never been shown to work, however]


US-style independent schools could boost grades in Australia: new report

The excerpt below is what appeared in The Brisbane Times, the Brisbane tentacle of the Fairfax hate organization. It was a lead-in to a story in the "Age". I read the Fairfax press most days and I have yet to see one positive story about the Abbott government since it was elected. They are fanatical.

So how come the story below is favourable to conservative ideas? It was a mistake, apparently. It has now been wiped from all Fairfax platforms. Only the paragraph below remains. CIS will no doubt publish Trish Jha's report in due course so we will eventually see what it says anyway

US-style privately-owned public schools should be rolled out in Australia to boost academic standards, a new report by libertarian think-tank, the Centre for Independent Studies argues. Privately-run public schools, or charter schools as they are known in the US, are funded by the government and run by private entities, which have full autonomy over the schools' finances, staffing and curriculum.  The schools, which do not charge fees, could boost innovation in the sector by giving schools more freedom, and giving disadvantaged students more choice, writes the report's lead author, Trisha Ja."..

Student Fascists at a Melbourne university

Student protesters have forcibly restrained as they sought to block Education Minister Christopher Pyne from visiting a Melbourne university.

Mr Pyne arrived at the Footscray campus of Victoria University this morning to speak at its centenary celebration, from which media were barred.

About a dozen protesters scuffled with security guards and tried to block Mr Pyne's access to the building, but they were pushed aside.

Mr Pyne left about 30 minutes later in his car via a rear garage door and did not speak to reporters.

The students were reportedly protesting over Mr Pyne's proposal to deregulate university fees.


70 per cent cut in aid to Africa

The 14 African diplomatic heads of mission in Canberra have asked the Australian Government and Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee to reassess Australia's aid commitment after a 70 per cent cut in aid to Africa.

African diplomats have told SBS they don't want handouts but partnerships and funding for tertiary scholarships.

At the Australian National University the number of African students on scholarships has shrunk from 20 to 2.

Gilbert Mbipan from Cameroon is the Deputy Director in his country's Ministry of Trade. He on a study scholarship at the ANU and considers himself one of the lucky ones.

"I am here to study public policy," he said. "The scholarships are very important for the students who come to study and for their country."

"[But] The cuts have impacted on those who were supposed to come. You see so many people who really wanted to come [to Australia to study]. They did apply but they couldn't come."

Uganda's High Commissioner to Canberra Enoch Nkuruho, along with all African heads of diplomatic missions in Australia, has appealed for the cuts to be reconsidered.

"The representation was about the cutting of the budget. We appreciate the problem Australia is facing, but we still feel that Africa lost out very heavily," High Commissioner Nkuruho said.

"Cutting aid for education, reducing the scholarships is a mistake. I came to Australia on one of those scholarships and the benefit Australia has got is that they have a High Commissioner, I am working for Uganda and at the same time I am working for Australia."

Aid funds in the 2015 budget were cut overall, but funding to Africa was hit the hardest.

Ramped up during the Rudd-Gillard years in the campaign for a UN Security Council, aid to Africa peaked at $231 million and was then cut by the Abbott Government to $32 million as it focused aid spending on the Asia Pacific region.

The federal government said it stands by its decision on aid spending in Africa.


The narrowing of debate in Australia

It might not be irrelevant that Labor Senator Sam Dastyari is an Iranian.  They are a wonderfully tolerant lot in Iran, are they not?  The commentary below is from Britain

"That extraordinary shift in intolerance is something all liberals, like me, should be worried about. Gay marriage is not a liberal issue; it has a deeply illiberal streak."

So said spiked’s editor Brendan O’Neill when he appeared on Australia’s leading political discussion show Q&A last week. He didn’t need to provide an example of this illiberal streak. His fellow panellists proceeded to do that for him. How else to describe the response of *Labor Senator Sam Dastyari* to the claim of anti-gay-marriage campaigner Katy Faust that, in America, her home country, ‘[opponents of gay marriage] felt like they could not speak up’: ‘The politician in me tells me that I should be saying that while I disagree with your views, I wholeheartedly respect them but I find that very hard… This American evangelical claptrap is the last thing we need in the debate.’ He didn’t argue with her. He didn’t tolerate her beliefs. He dismissed them. And he called for their expulsion from public debate.

The clash over gay marriage, and O’Neill’s contention that its advocacy is fuelled by something profoundly intolerant, certainly caused a stir, with the Australian, ABC News and the Daily Mail, among others, all reporting on it.

But Dastyari’s attack on Faust, his bald suggestion that some people, some views, do not deserve to be heard, merely reflected the wider political- and media-class response to the oh-so-shocking deviations from the ‘gay marriage is great’ script. The Sydney Morning Herald, for instance, called Faust and O’Neill ‘the tin-foil hat brigade’, as if questioning gay marriage is akin to the belief that The Communists are using radio waves to control our brains. And O’Neill himself was waved away, with barely a nod to what he actually said, as ‘a defender of the heterosexual sponge industry’. The SMH piece went on: ‘O’Neill, a British writer whose ability to get on your nerves is so pronounced that mosquitoes must find him annoying…  like being taken hostage by an opinionated dentist… schtick… prancing shock value… ability to talk under water… he had a lesson for the ladies… a pat on the head only implied…’ As columnist Andrew Bolt said: ‘That’s not a review. It’s not an argument.  It’s just a great blast of abuse to drown out an opposing view.’

Elsewhere, the Guardian said O’Neill was ‘playing the contrarian’. Because no one could seriously be criticising gay marriage, could they? Such a comment said nothing about O’Neill, who, as spiked readers will know, is passionately serious in his politics. But the doubt-free complacency of the so-called progressive set simply cannot imagine anyone wanting to dissent from their views. Such is the blindness of the smug.

Twitter, the official echo chamber for progressive intolerance, was likewise predictably outraged. ‘Brendan O’Neill – just another extremist that would be better keeping his mouth shut’, read one tweet. ‘The sooner we [send] Brendan O’Neill and Katy Faust packing out of our country the better’, read another. Tweeters’ language ranged from the pulpit to the gutter, but the sentiment was the same: people who criticise gay marriage should be shut up, excommunicated, booted out. Their views ought to be unsayable, their beliefs heretical, their arguments silenced.

Some commentators did notice what O’Neill called this ‘illiberal streak’ to the gay-marriage debate. At the Sunshine Coast Daily, one opined, ‘the intolerance shown by those supporting marriage equality towards those with a contrary view is often uglier than the prejudice they protest’. At the Australian Financial Review another remarked, ‘when did we become such a nation of oversensitive, reactive whingers?’. Defending O’Neill and other commentators who have got into trouble in Oz recently, she said: ‘How beige our culture would be without the scandal-chasers and the shock-jocks and the cads.’ But these commentators were islands of reasonableness in a sea of frothing, sweary, often pompous, intolerance.

What this reaction to a contrary opinion on gay marriage captures is deeply troubling: a militant conformism. The parameters of public debate, the areas in which ideas and opinions can do battle, are shrinking before our eyes. A few years ago, arguing that the institution of marriage is a heterosexual institution would have been considered an unremarkable, and perfectly legitimate, view. But now this view is being pushed beyond the boundaries of what is acceptable, of what is appropriate. To defend traditional marriage today is to ask for the tweet-happy to brand ‘bigot’ across your face, turn you into a mocking meme, or just shame you back under the supposed rock from whence you crawled. Criticism of gay marriage is called hateful, discriminatory, backward. In the garb of progress, a virulent illiberalism is taking over public life, delineating what views are permissible and what views are not, what views aid the progressive cause, and what views are to be silenced.

Australia is not a trailblazer here. Throughout the Western world, the drive to institutionalise gay marriage has been shot through with authoritarianism. In France two years ago, thousands of protesters against gay marriage were dispersed by tear-gas-deploying riot police. In America, opposition to gay marriage often prompts a public ‘outing’, vilification, and sometimes job loss, as Mozilla’s co-founder Brendan Eich found to his cost in April last year – ‘purge the bigots’, urged one commentator. And in the UK, as Tim Farron, the new Lib Dem leader, and Christian, discovered, supporting gay marriage is a passport into polite political society, one which is withheld until you affirm your loyalty to the rainbow flag.

Nor is gay marriage the only issue around which strict orthodoxies are calcifying. Climate change, multiculturalism and feminism are all issues on which there is only one correct view. To be sceptical of the impact of climate change, or to challenge the censoriousness of feminism, is to incur the wrath of the right-thinking. Not that critics of the new orthodoxies are challenged on their views. Rather, they are branded – as deniers, as misogynists, indeed, as bigots. By their labels, they shall be known – and shamed.

As spiked’s editor himself put it in the Australian: ‘The response to Q&A shows that gay marriage is not a liberal issue. Rather, what we have here is the further colonisation of public life by an elite strata of society – the chattering class – and the vigorous expulsion of all those who do not genuflect to their orthodoxies.’ The right-thinking and progressive might not realise it yet, but they are at the vanguard of a new Dark Ages.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Victoria's CFMEU/Labor Police Minister on why authorities should back off from Visa checks for illegals

The farcical cancellation of random visa checks in Melbourne is the Australian Border Force’s fault, Victoria’s Police Minister says.

Wade Noonan said he was told Operation Fortitude was to be a standard police operation until the ABF’s “unfortunate and inappropriate characterisation”.

Border Force announced on Friday morning it would be “speaking to any individuals we cross paths with” in the Melbourne CBD. After online outrage about the random spot checks, the ABF clarified with “we will not stop people at random in the streets”. But it was too late to save Operation Fortitude, which was cancelled as 200 protesters swarmed Flinders Street Station and forced the press conference announcing it to be called off.

Victoria Police cancelled the operation just five hours after it was announced.  “We understand there has been a high level of community interest and concern which has been taken into consideration when making this decision,” a police statement said.

Mr Noonan said the government was told the operation would target anti-social behaviour and commuters to ensure people got home safely.

“We fully support the decision by Victoria Police to cancel the operation after the unfortunate and inappropriate characterisation by the Australian Border Force today,” Mr Noonan said.

Border Force workers told the Community and Public Sector Union they were worried about their safety and the public reaction. “They were deeply concerned at the suggestion they would be stopping all people on the street, which is not how their work has been done in the past,” union secretary Nadine Flood said.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton refused to comment, referring all media enquiries to Victoria Police.

Protest organiser Ezekiel Ox said the result was a “huge win” for Melbourne, and said locals would look out for any future attempt to check visas on the streets.

“Every single person here will be doing everything they can to impose themselves on those checks, they’ll be trying to interrupt those checks,” Mr Ox told AAP on Friday.

“They’ll be making it very difficult for the Border Force to do their job.” Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the government’s over-zealous announcement of the operation was at best clumsy and at worst shambolic.

“This has been incredibly badly handled and Peter Dutton needs to immediately come clean on how this announcement was so botched,” he said in a statement.

Greens MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt said the operation could threaten Melbourne’s reputation as a welcoming city. “How will the Border Force distinguish between locals, visitors and visa holders?” he told AAP.

Traffic and trams were held up for 30 minutes in Melbourne, before protesters stormed the gates of Flinders Street Station.


Gold Coast police brutality: Another alleged incident captured on CCTV

THERE has been an explosion of allegations of police brutality on the Gold Coast, with shocking footage emerging of a recent attack.

The Courier-Mail has obtained disturbing CCTV footage from inside the Surfers Paradise police station which shows a handcuffed Michael Cox, 29, being physically restrained and his head slammed into the tile floor.

The footage shows Mr Cox and watchhouse officer Peter Nummy talking on a bench inside the station. Both men appear relaxed. At no point does Mr Cox lunge at the officer, but moments later the footage shows Officer Nummy twist Mr Cox’s handcuffed wrist backward and slam his head into floor.

The Courier-Mail showed the footage to a former detective who questioned the officer’s use of force.

Police yesterday confirmed they were aware of the matter and that Officer Nummy had not been disciplined.

Mr Cox has lodged a claim against the Queensland Police Service for more than $100,000 for pain and suffering caused by Officer Nummy on May 4 last year.

Mr Cox was taken to the Surfers Paradise police station after he was victim to a random assault outside East Nightclub in Broadbeach.

Michael Cox is wrestled to the floor, slamming his head on a tile.
Court documents reveal Mr Cox told an officer: “I’m going mate, I just want to know that the other guy is going to get charged”, when he was asked to move on.

The male police officer then yelled: “You’re a (expletive) stupid (expletive) and I’m not your (expletive) mate” before arresting him for contravening a “move on” direction.

Mr Cox said the evening was a nightmare.  “I had to take six weeks off work because my wrist was broken,” Mr Cox said.  “If I walked down the road and broke someone’s wrist I’d be charged with assault, so why can the police get away with it?”

The revelations come as an internal review into the culture of Gold Coast police began this week, and the Crime and Corruption Commission decided no officer would be charged over another police bashing in the basement of the Surfers Paradise station.

However an accused police whistleblower faces prosecution for allegedly leaking video of the incident to The Courier-Mail.

Shine Lawyers general manager Kimberly Allen said the CCTV footage shows a handcuffed Mr Cox “did not resist his arrest or threaten or demonstrate aggression to the officers”.

The Courier-Mail can reveal solicitors across the Gold Coast have been inundated with inquiries from people who have suffered serious injuries allegedly at the hands of police.

One law firm is currently handling more than 50 excessive force claims.

Potts Lawyers director Bill Potts said his firm receives inquiries on a weekly basis from members of the public who have been “touched up” by police.


Leftist antisemitism

Anyone can be a journalist these days, as Melbourne University is proving with a new and free online course that aims to teach would-be reporters how to go about the job of keeping the public informed.

Of course, modern journalism, as defined by our tertiary institutions, requires the correct perspectives and passions, which is why one of the course’s videos  is something of an education in itself.

A mock press conference, it presents a sleazoid property developer detailing his plan to drain a marsh and build 89 new homes.

The general and obvious wisdom to be drawn:

    shifty businessmen despoil Mother Nature to line their pockets

    councils are the handmaidens of conscienceless profiteers

    shifty businessmen don’t like to answer questions

    development is bad

But they are not the only lessons Melbourne University’s Dr Margaret Simons and  Dr Denis Muller would appear to be imparting. Do notice the name of the developer in the picture atop this item, a screen grab taken from the instructional video.

To which ethno-religious group do you reckon the fictional “Mr Robert Finkelstein” might belong? Why that particular surname?

A note seeking explanation for the choice of name has been sent to Drs Simons and Muller.


Secret 'dark net' operation grabs child pornographers

Scores of children have been saved from abuse after an elaborate sting by Queensland Police led to the identification and arrest of key members of a global online sex abuse network.

The 10-month operation led to the arrests of members in Australia and around the world.

Queensland's anti-paedophile taskforce Argos targeted an internet bulletin board which had 45,000 members.

Users were ranked according to the volume and originality of the child exploitation material they uploaded to the site.

The board was hosted on the part of the internet known as the "dark net", which uses encryption software to hide identities and mask people's browsing history.

The site, the name of which remains suppressed by the South Australian District Court, was administered by an anonymous Australian. He was later unmasked as Adelaide childcare worker Shannon McCoole.

This month, the Families SA employee was sentenced to 35 years in jail for sexually abusing at least seven children in his care and for transmitting child pornography on the internet.

McCoole's victims were in state care, and were as young as 18 months old. The oldest was three. The sentencing judge at McCoole's trial described him as "evil and depraved".

He shared images and videos of his abuse of children on the site he administered.

McCoole was arrested last year after a manhunt that involved law enforcement agencies around the world.

Unusual 'hiyas' greeting key to arrests

The key breakthroughs in the case were made by Taskforce Argos which pieced together clues about McCoole's identity by cross-matching an unusual online greeting used by the childcare worker.

"He used [the greeting 'Hiyas'] on messages on the board, as a greeting to other members on the board," Taskforce Argos Victim Identification co-ordinator Paul Griffiths said.

Mr Griffiths searched for the greeting online, narrowing down a huge list of its users until he found a Facebook page and a photograph of a Volkswagen four-wheel drive utility.

"[The Facebook page] did point us in the direction of Adelaide," Mr Griffiths said.  "I actually found him asking questions online about how to raise the suspension of his four-wheel drive."

Using the visible registration plate on the 4WD, police came up with a name — Shannon McCoole. Background checks immediately rang alarm bells.

"It was evident he was working for Families SA as a family care worker," Mr Griffiths said.

"[It was] almost panic stations at that point because he's in a real position of control and access to children that we just can't allow to continue at all."

McCoole was immediately put under surveillance.  Four days after he was identified, police knocked on his door and arrested him.

Inside they found evidence — including metadata on a camera and a freckle on McCoole's finger matching one in images of abuse — that proved he was the head administrator of the global abuse site and an active sexual abuser of children in his care.

With McCoole in custody, Queensland's Taskforce Argos then activated phase two of the operation. "Phase two was to take over the network, assume control of the network, try to identify as many of the key administrators as we could and remove them," Detective Inspector Jon Rouse said.

"Ultimately, you had a child sex offender network that was being administered by police."

But Detective Inspector Rouse said there was no way his team was going to allow the sexual abuse of children to go on.  "We closed membership [of the site]. Nobody gets in. We didn't let any new membership come in. Effectively we caged the rats."

Two officers from Taskforce Argos secretly assumed the online identity of Shannon McCoole, working around the clock for 10 months to dismantle the paedophile ring and identify abusers.

"This wasn't an 8:00am-4:00pm, Monday-to-Friday operation. Even when the guys knocked off work we were all communicating outside work," Detective Inspector Rouse said.

"[Assuming the identity of a child sex offender] can mess with your head. It's not something you want to do for really long protracted periods of time. It's inordinately challenging."

Detective Inspector Rouse said the sting resulted in the identification of paedophiles around the world.  "US, Europe, United Kingdom. [It was] global," he said.

"It's testimony to the work done by the team at Argos to make sure we were working in real time with those [international] agencies to execute search warrants.

"This required us engaging with those targets in real time while law enforcement went through doors. [There were] time zone challenges, but good work by authorities across the world."

The operation has also resulted in the arrests of suspected paedophiles in Australia.  "I won't give specific numbers, but there were several in South Australia, several in Victoria and in Queensland as well," Detective Inspector Rouse said.

But the head of Taskforce Argos said the true success of the sting should not be measured in arrests alone.  "I think in terms of the identification of child victims, that's what it was all about. There were a lot of kids that are in a better place now because of what happened across the globe."


Friday, August 28, 2015

Australia's national cheese

Nobody that I know seems to have realized it but Australia has a national cheese.  We all know and love our national toast and sandwich spread -- Vegemite -- but we are, if anything, even more focused on one type of cheese.

The French would of course think of us as insane and the Brits too might be a bit scornful -- except for the fact that they too have a well-acknowledged national cheese of their own: Cheddar.

But our national cheese is far more pervasive than Cheddar. When I go into the dairy aisle of my local Woolworths supermarket there are yards of shelf space devoted to it, with other types of cheese almost totally absent.  On the very top shelf there are very small quantities of a few "foreign" cheeses: Jarlsberg, Romano, Havarti, Mascarpone etc.

So what is this remarkable cheese?  It is -- most unimaginatively -- called "Tasty". And it certainly is tasty.  Various dairies make it under their own brand but it is always identified as "Tasty".  And I for one cannot tell the product of one dairy from another.  It really is the same cheese that they are all making.  You can get it in various sized packs and you can even get it grated but Tasty it is.

When I first started work as a NSW public servant in central Sydney in 1968, I worked in a building that had a cafeteria in the basement.  We all went there to order our sandwiches, pies, Chester cakes et.

I was saddened when I visited Chester in England in 1977 and asked for a Chester cake.  I was told: "No.  We only do those on Wednesday".  They did them every day in Sydney.

Chester cakes

And if you ordered any type of a cheese sandwich from the basement cafeteria, the sandwich lady would say: "Mild or Tasty"? and point to the two trays of sliced cheese in front of her.  Even at that stage, I was surprised at the limited offering but it now seems to have become even more extreme.  Packs of "Mild" have to be searched for.  Sometimes there is only one there.

The only other offering from more than one dairy that you see is  "Colby".  That is a smoother and milder product than Tasty. After many years of eating Tasty, I am now a Colby man.  You also see "Coon" cheese but it tastes the same as a "Tasty" to me.  Perhaps I should do a blind tasting sometime.

There was at one stage a claim that "Coon" was a naughty word -- politically incorrect.  But it seems to have survived that onslaught.

And then there is the sliced cheese section.  Again Tasty dominates but a surprising thing is that the "Home Brand" stuff is unlike any of the block cheese.  It is a very mild, Cheddar-type cheese.  So if you like Cheddar cheese you have to buy it pre-sliced!

ALP leader Bill Shorten silent in the face of Leftist racism

POUR a little acid on Labor’s lies about free trade, the ­environment and same-sex marriage and the Abbott ­government’s policies shine as beacons of hope in a landscape dominated by malevolent propaganda.

With scandalous entrenched dishonesty within the trade union attack dog the CFMEU being exposed by the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, Labor and its union puppeteers have responded with all the virulence and venality of a cornered rat.

That Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his acolytes have failed to check the falsehoods being promulgated by the union movement ­reflects their lack of character.

The union movement’s racist and extraordinarily xenophobic advert about the China free trade agreement plays to the historic fears of the “yellow peril” on which the formation of the ALP was based.

Opposition Senate leader Penny Wong, who has supported this campaign, must revisit her party’s history and note how relatively recently former Labor leader Arthur Calwell felt quite comfortable joking that “two Wongs don’t make a white”.

He went on to write in his 1972 memoir “and any man who tries to stigmatise the Australian community as racist because they want to preserve this country for the white race is doing our nation great harm ... I reject, in conscience, the idea that Australia should or ever can ­become a multi-racial society and survive”.

Labor played the race card before the NSW state election and it is playing it again now.

Wong, who believes same-sex marriage is the most pressing issue facing the nation, although the people must not be permitted to decide the matter, needs reminding it was the Liberal Party, not Labor, which encouraged the building of trade and cultural bridges to our Asian neighbours through the successful Colombo Plan.

This plan gave many students from around the region the opportunity to study in Australia and take home the values of our liberal democratic society — and it is the conservative government, again, not Labor, which has revisited the Colombo Plan to restore foreign ties destroyed by successive Labor governments.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was correct to point out last week that the China free trade agreement being mendaciously attacked by the historically corrupt CFMEU was supported by former NSW premier and former foreign minister Bob Carr, who said: “There will be more jobs and higher wages in Australia if the China free trade agreement goes ahead.”

“We know that the Labor Party takes the CFMEU’s money, but they should never take the CFMEU’s dictation,” Abbott told parliament.
“If they do take the CFMEU’s dictation, the ghosts of the White Australia policy will come back to haunt the Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition should make sure that the slime of an earlier age does not come back to contaminate this parliament.”

Contrary to the racist lies broadcast in the union adverts — supported by the taxpayer-funded ­national broadcaster the ABC — the Chinese free trade agreement does NOT open the doors to Chinese workers on 457 visas.

The union adverts and arguments state that (and this is from the ACTU’s website): “The FTA allows Chinese companies to bring in their own workforce for projects over $150 million and removes the requirement that jobs be offered to local workers first.”

This is an absolute falsehood designed to be a distraction from the royal commission.

Unsurprisingly, it has been swallowed by many in the Labor-aligned Canberra press gallery and the ABC’s perpetually biased Fact Check Unit.

To assist the ABC’s editor-in-chief Mark Scott with his overdue correction and apology (as if), I direct him to the protections for Australian workers spelled out in the agreement’s outlined investment ­facilitation arrangements.

They clearly state that employers must show the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that there is demonstrated labour market need, that Australians have been given the first opportunity through evidence of domestic recruitment activity (i.e. labour market testing) and there are no suitably qualified Australians available.

In addition, they must demonstrate that they are a direct employer, are lawfully operating for at least 12 months, are financially viable, have no adverse information, have had no redundancies in the past six months, and meet training requirements.

The Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash has ­debunked Labor’s claims in the Senate, while pointing out that multiple ­unions have employed sub-class 457 visa holders in an act of incredible hypocrisy and ­duplicity.

Cash noted that the trade unions have been employing overseas workers as workplace relations advisers and copy-writers on 457 visas — to help orchestrate the misleading and damaging campaign against foreign labour provisions in the China Australia free trade agreement.

“Not since (Briton) John McTernan was ­employed as a communications director on a 457 visa in Julia Gillard’s office, from where we witnessed a political campaign against 457 visas, have we seen such blatant hypocrisy from the union movement,” Cash said.

Labor’s totally dishonest campaign threatens thousands of much-needed jobs which would add billions to our economy and result in higher living standards for Australians.

This is economic vandalism from an irresponsible party. The unions are expected to spew such rubbish but Shorten and Wong should know better.


Corrupt NSW prosecutors

SC Babb

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) is an absolute mess riddled with corruption. There is a drug taking culture amongst the prosecutors with has resulted in a recent arrest, the Director of Public Prosecutions Lloyd Babb SC is busily trying to cover-up their responsibility for the Sydney Siege gunman being free on bail.

Public prosecutors should be squeaky clean but only a couple of months ago senior management in the DPP office called the police to investigate the drug taking culture in the office. One has been arrested and maybe others will be:

“THE top echelon of the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions asked police to investigate its ranks fearing a drug culture was emerging among its star team of lawyers.”

“The ODPP Director’s Chambers sparked a targeted police investigation into ­alleged drug supply that has so far seen one solicitor charged with cocaine possession.”

“The solicitor, Lisa Munro, was a member of the ODPP’s elite team of lawyers, known as Group 6, which deals with high-profile cases including referrals from the Independent Commission Against Corruption.”

and “The sources said the Director’s Chambers was concerned about drug use throughout the organisation.”

It is amazing that there could be a drug culture in the Office of the DPP given these are the people who are meant to jail the drug dealers. It would also leave the prosecutors, who are drug users, open to blackmail from the criminals. I suspect a few might be up for taking bribes as well given they obviously have no respect for the law.

Ms Lisa Munro as mentioned above pleaded guilty last week to cocaine possession and will be sentenced in September.

The drug taking culture has been happening under the nose of Lloyd Babb and he has to take a large part of the responsibility for it happening.


Building industry in crisis, says Boral boss

Australia’s construction market is in a crisis that has been brewing for decades, according to Boral chief executive Mike Kane, with millions lost each year.

Mr Kane said the political controversy engulfing the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption was “a real distraction” from serious issues.

Announcing a net profit rise for Boral (BLD) of 48 per cent to $257m for the financial year, Mr Kane said a union black ban was costing the company $7m each year.

Revenues at Australia’s largest building materials manufacturer fell 15 per cent to $4.41 billion, which reflected the divestment of its gypsum division into a joint venture with Chicago-based USG.

Mr Kane said Boral’s US division was profitable for the first time since 2007, with earnings of $6m after posting a $39m loss last year.

Strength in the New South Wales housing market had pushed margins higher in Boral’s construction materials and cement division, and Mr Kane said the impact of Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union action in Victoria was contained.

“We have the largest construction union in this country under the control of criminal elements who are on a campaign to create inefficiencies in our system, that are violating the law on a regular basis, that have issued a campaign against Boral,” he said.

“(It’s) designed not just to send a message to Boral but to the entire construction industry that they’re in control and the law doesn’t apply in the construction market.

“Without getting into controversy, which I think is a real distraction, I think the work of the Royal Commission is absolutely necessary for the efficient operation of construction markets in this country,” Mr Kane said.

A court in Melbourne yesterday heard underworld figure Mick Gatto had demanded $100,000 from Boral to settle a long-running dispute with the CFMEU, with the price to increase by $100,000 for every week the building materials giant did not take up the offer.

Mr Gatto has denied the allegation.

Boral is suing the CFMEU for $28 million over a two-year blockade which has pushed the company into the middle of a dispute between the union and developer Grocon.

“If the ban ended tomorrow, it would take us almost three years to recover because most of the work for the next three years has already been awarded in the Melbourne CBD,” he said.

“Our ability to get back in to the market after this illegal activity stops is a prospect of our future damages and those are being made clear to the court.

“As we sit here today the CFMEU is taking the position that no black ban has occurred nor is it continuing, they refuse to acknowledge the fact that an injunction was bought against them and they were found guilty.”

Boral shares were pushed lower when the market opened this morning, down 6 per cent to $5.90, after the company said the outlook was mixed, with continued strength needed in the Sydney market to offset depressed markets in Queensland, with subdued infrastructure work and tapering demand for construction materials for LNG projects.

Boral, which sells everything from cement to plasterboard, has been reaping the benefits from an overhaul of its business that reduced the size of its workforce and resulted in the closure of some unprofitable operations.

“We’ve improved Boral’s cost base, strengthened the balance sheet and we are managing our portfolio of businesses more efficiently,” the company told the Australian Securities Exchange.

Boral said earnings from its construction materials and cement unit, the company’s largest division, rose 9 per cent due to strength in Australian housing and higher margins for asphalt, cement and concrete products.

The Australian-listed company also reported a turnaround in its US business.

“After a protracted period of depressed market activity in the USA following the global financial crisis, Boral USA returned to profitability in fiscal-year 2015, with a positive $6 million of earnings before interest and tax,” the company said.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Homosexual propaganda  should be kept out of schools

Burwood Girls High School sent a flyer to parents last week saying all students would attend a special screening of the documentary Gayby Baby this week

BURWOOD Girls High principal Mia Kumar has failed the parents of her pupils by embracing political propagandists who have seized her school’s agenda. And Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has failed the people of NSW with his lily-livered approach to a serial offender.

Last Saturday, Miss Kumar, who, with her deputy, Karyn O’Brien, would not speak to The Daily Telegraph, not only cancelled two school periods to facilitate the screening of an overtly political documentary on homosexual parenting to all students this Friday but urged all pupils to wear purple in support of LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer).

The planned school screening of the PG-documentary Gayby Baby and the purple dress code are in clear breach of NSW Education Department guidelines as they advance the interests of a particular political group, don’t serve a curriculum objective and fail to take into account the ages of all of the students.

Instead of suspending or reprimanding Ms Kumar yesterday, Mr Piccoli told The Daily Telegraph he had “spoken to the secretary of my department and reminded her that the government expects schools to remain apolitical places and that schools must comply with all departmental policies.”

If this is the best he can do in the face of a deliberate flouting of the rules by a principal who has institutionalised a political campaign in her school’s agenda, he should be sacked.

Documentary director Maya Newell, an old girl of Burwood Girls High is a “gayby” in as much as she says she has lesbian “mums”.

Ms Kumar should tell her that she actually has only one biological mum and any other mother is adoptive.

After numerous complaints, the school belatedly told parents that their daughters may opt-out of the screening but “purple tops, pants, jackets, scarfs, shoes, jewellery and/or hair colour” was still rig of the day and the school will give a prize to the “most purple” student.

The Right Rev Mark Powell, who until July was the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in NSW and the ACT, was contacted by a number of parents concerned that their daughters would be ostracised within the school community and subjected to bullying and discrimination from fellow students and some teachers if they refused to go along with the directives from Ms Kumar and Ms O’Brien

A review highlighted on the Gayby Baby website describes it as an “intrinsically political” documentary and says children of “queer” parents are being used to counter opponents of so-called marriage equality.

In the trailer, one prepubescent boy is shown applying lipstick as he says: “I don’t really know when you’re manly.” He is later shown bare-chested and pumping his fist in the mardi gras parade.

Twelve-year-old Ebony is quoted saying: “ ‘It’s not normal. You’re not normal.’ They’re the kind of things that go through my head.”

Well, Ebony, normality is the state of being usual, typical, or expected according to the Oxford Dictionary and according to the 2011 Census, there were only around 33,700 same-sex couples in Australia, with 17,600 male same-sex couples and 16,100 female same-sex couples. Same-sex couples represented about 1 per cent of all couples in Australia — which would indicate they do not meet the definition “normal”.

Children in same-sex couple families are one in a thousand of all children in couple families (0.1 per cent). Statistically, you are not in a “normal” family, no matter how many LGBTIQ-friendly docos you may be forced to watch by politically-driven school principals.

The drive to create the fantasy that homosexual families are the norm has come from the politically left-leaning Teachers Federation which is also pushing the Safe Schools Coalition, another political front group, which claims that anyone not involved in promoting safety for the “same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse young people, staff, families and communities” are bigots.

Mr Piccoli has permitted Ms Kumar to install this agenda into her curriculum. A government intent on ensuring an apolitical school system would get rid of them both.


An incompetent bureaucracy covers up with lies

AN unofficial survey by an East Timor and Iraq War veteran flatly contradicts an official $174,500 taxpayer-funded survey by the Department of Veterans Affairs that sings its praises and claims a 90 per cent satisfaction rate.

Angus Sim was on leave due to his war caused illness and fighting for his veterans payments when the DVA insisted on contacting his employer to verify that he was not being paid and was eligible for incapacity payments.

He had signed a statutory declaration swearing that he was not working so that he would be eligible for the payments months after he had ceased working and did not want DVA to inform his boss, but Canberra-based bureaucrats insisted on contacting the employer.

The employer no longer returns his calls and he fears the exposure has cost him future work.

Mr Sim suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was so outraged by his experience that he formulated his own survey of DVA clients to find out what veterans really thought about the department that allocates about $13 billion of taxpayer dollars each year.

The results from 730 respondents bear no resemblance to the official DVA 2014 client service survey of 3000 people that showed satisfaction rates of above 90 per cent and included comments such as: “Excellent service and good communications.

“They really look after people. Overwhelming — they listen so well. It’s like a family.”

Mr Sim’s survey included 41 questions and found that between 58 per cent and 73 per cent of clients under the three Veterans Acts had spent more than six months fighting for their claims.

Between 28 per cent and 54 per cent said they were “extremely unsatisfied” with DVA’s service and just three to 10 per cent said they were “extremely satisfied”.

In one of the most disturbing findings it found that between 63 per cent and 84 per cent of clients had been given conflicting information by DVA staff.

One of the worst areas was incapacity payments where between 77 per cent and 80 per cent said DVA had caused them hardship by delaying the payments.

Between 81 per cent and 94 per cent of those surveyed supported a fresh inquiry into the DVA’s treatment of veterans.

By contrast the official survey reported that 89 per cent of clients were satisfied or very satisfied with the service DVA provided and 90 per cent agreed that DVA was committed to providing a high quality service.

When News Corp questioned the credibility of publishing only positive comments from the survey DVA insisted that the, “comments published were demonstrative of resoundingly positive feedback received in the client survey.”

The Department refused to provide a detailed breakdown for “commercial” reasons of the age of respondents or a list of the questions asked by the survey company ORIMA Research.

In stark contrast with the taxpayer-funded official survey comments from Mr Sim’s respondents were far more damning.

Here is a sample; “They treat you like you are trying to get something for nothing and that you should be grateful for their ‘assistance’. 

“Woeful at best, criminally negligent if they’re honest.

“It was demeaning and enhanced my PTSD symptoms causing my family and I huge distress.”


Turnbull tells ABC to extract digit, fix ‘out of control’ Q&A programme

To appropriate an adage, many a finger is pointed in jest.  Yesterday, Malcolm Turnbull may have hammed it up with Mark Scott but there was no doubt about the sincerity of the Communications Minister’s disquiet with the nat­ional broadcaster’s boss over yet another Q&A controversy.

Photo-ops aside, the minister and the ABC’s managing director may well have found the time for an exchange of views about a crude tweet shown on Monday night’s show, from a user dubbed @Abbottlovesanal.

The word from the government is “disappointment” — a sentiment that should be echoing around Mr Scott’s head too.

Yesterday’s lunch in Sydney featured a stellar corporate, media and political cast, who had gathered to promote workplace gender equality under the banner Male Champions of Change, but clearly the ABC’s workplace is not changing fast enough for the government, or the broadcaster’s boss.

The pair had first spoken about 7am when Mr Turnbull suggested Mr Scott apologise to Tony ­Abbott for a crude tweet that was broadcast on national television during Q&A. Mr Scott then texted the Prime Minister, and sent an accompanying letter, apologising for the tweet. The apology, coming so soon after the lifting of the Zaky Mallah-inspired ministerial ban on the show, was insufficient.

The Prime Minister said the ABC needed to rein in an “out of control” Q&A. “I just hope that the ABC management get on and do what they said they were going to do with that program,” he said.

“I think it is a bit out of control and I think it’s important for the ABC not just to talk about tighter management structures, tighter management control on that particular program, but actually do it.”

It is not the first time the program has had problems with live tweets. Last year, it broadcast a tweet that referred to transgender military officer Cate McGregor as “he/she”. It has also broadcast users with crude names.

Yet the show has only one ­social media manager, Ainslee Hunter, responsible for on-air tweets, video inserts and promotional materials. Senior producer Amanda Collinge has spoken in the past about her role as final ­approval moderator, supervising the twitter-feed that is broadcast.

The ABC said neither were moderating the tweets on Monday evening. Tens of thousands of #QandA tweets are sent each episode, yet there are only between two to five people who comb through the twitter feed to moderate them. The team has been told to get the tweets on air less than a minute after they are posted by the user.

The ABC has used software called TweeVee TV, which combs tweets for profanities but not the user’s handle or name.

The episode on Monday night is unlikely to be included in a review of Q&A being conducted by journalist Ray Martin and former SBS managing director Shaun Brown, but the review will examine Q&A’s live tweet function and the risks associated with it.

The Australian asked the ABC how the tweet got past social media managers, how much scrutiny there was of tweets shown on Q&A, whether there would be any improved supervision of the program, and whether the ABC was considering removing live tweets from Q&A.

“Thanks but we aren’t commenting further,” media adviser Nick Leys said.


Kevvy's back

But you can bet he won't be asking any hard questions

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has secured a return to our TV screens in place of CNN host Christiane Amanpour.

​The 57 year old Rudd, who has been head of the Asia Society's Policy Institute in New York since last October, will fill in for the eponymous host on Amanpour while the regular anchor is on leave.

He'll do just one episode, Saturday August 29 and, according to CNN, will look forward to the COP 21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in November.

On the show Rudd will interview prominent Costa Rican climate change negotiator Christiana Figueres and will also talk with indigenous TV anchor Stan Grant "about the struggles Australia is still having coming to terms with its past", according to a CNN statement.

Rudd tweeted that he also would be interviewing a guest about the "Chinese economy". Rudd's Amanpour screens on CNN at 1pm on Saturday and will be repeated at 8pm and midnight on August 29.

He has previously been a commentator on the program which is hosted by one of television's most respected journalists.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Famous trial lawyer gets a man off the hook

Argued that being present when an offence is being committed is not itself an offence.  The judge agreed

Terracini is aging but he has still got it

Terracini and his hat

"Mr Brown you are free to go".  With those words from Justice David Davies, Brian Mcgarvie Brown, stood up in the NSW Supreme Court dock and tried to walk down to the cells.

Instead, after hugging his former co-accused Michael and Wade Basanovic​, he was ushered to the courtroom door and walked outside a free man.

On Tuesday Justice Davies directed a jury of seven women and five men to find Mr Brown not guilty of the murder of senior Hells Angels member Zeljko "Steve" Mitrovic, who was shot at his transport business in Wetherill Park on the afternoon of January 15, 2013.

The jury was also directed to find him not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to one of Mr Mitrovic's employees.

The judge told the jury: "Yesterday, when you were out in the jury room for a rather long period, counsel addressed me in relation to the accused, Brian Brown.

"As a result of those addresses and my deliberations on them, I have determined there is in fact no evidence upon which you could properly convict Brian Brown."

In a statement to Fairfax Media, Mr Brown said that he was extremely happy and grateful to be found not guilty.

"I have always maintained that I had nothing to do with it and I've spent two-and-a-half years protesting my innocence.

"It's been a difficult period for me but hopefully I can get my life back together and put it all behind me."

Mr Brown was accused of being in a "joint criminal enterprise" with Michael Basanovic, 49, and his son Wade, 24, in the shooting of Mr Mitrovic.

At the beginning of the trial, Mr Brown's barrister, Winston Terracini, SC, said his client was not accused of shooting or harming anyone.

"Mere presence while a criminal offence is taking place is not enough to make you a part of a joint criminal enterprise," Mr Terracini told the jury.

The court was told Mr Brown and Michael Basanovic were part of the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang until 2011. There was no evidence Wade Basanovic was involved with the gang.

The Basanovics remain on trial, and both have pleaded not guilty to murder and causing grievous bodily harm.


Censor Mark Latham?

See a magazine on the supermarket shelves that you consider offensive? Have it banned! Stumble upon a columnist whose words infuriate you? Start a petition to have them sacked!

It’s airbrushing on a whole new scale: the removal of anything to which we may personally object.

Neither of the two most recent casualties of this overenthusiastic approach to real-life Photoshopping are particularly sympathetic fixtures: Zoo Weekly and Mark Latham.

The former, a lad’s magazine of questionable editorial merit, has been pulled from the shelves at Coles after an activist group garnered 40,000 signatures on a petition calling on the major supermarkets to remove it from public view.

Meanwhile would-be PM turned professional troll Latham, a man with the dubious honour of possessing a view of women so toxic he makes the demeaning Zoo Weekly look positively enlightened, has parted ways with the Australian Financial Review.

While attention had more recently turned to the venomous nature of messages posted on a Twitter account linked to him, his regular columns have long been the source of outrage, with his repeated attacks against a number of female journalists inciting petitions demanding his dismissal.

Would the world be better off without the misogynistic ramblings of Latham or the exploitative bikini-babe pages of Zoo Weekly? In this columnist’s opinion, the answer is a firm yes.

But it’s not up to me to determine their fate — and nor should it be. As an individual consumer, I have the right to exercise my choice, and to that end I made a decision several months ago to stop reading Latham’s bile.

What greater injury could a person inflict on such a shameless attention-seeker than to ignore them? While the loss of his column is being celebrated by many, ultimately all that has been achieved is his elevation to martyrdom.

While headlines yesterday were predicting the “end to Mark Latham’s media career”, I fear his long-term prospects will be far more ominous. Instead of obscurity, the all-too-easily manipulated mob has delivered him infamy.

Earlier this year I implored those who hyperventilated on social media or started circulating a petition with each new column to simply ignore him. Without the hysteria that surrounded each pathetic new instalment, Latham would have remained nothing more than a little-read columnist in a little-read newspaper.

“Left to his own devices, he is nothing more than a washed-up, embittered has-been,” I observed.

The man himself, of course, was incensed and promptly sought refuge with Alan Jones, where the two of them commiserated on air over my terribly unkind words. In turn this was followed up with an indignant column about yours truly. So far, so predictable.

Predictable too was the outrage that continued to follow Latham in the subsequent months, with those who clamoured for him to be silenced only serving to ensure his vitriol was given far more airtime than it ever deserved.

The martyrdom of Latham is a victory of arrogance over common sense. In seeking to airbrush him from the landscape, those wielding the Photoshopping tools have all but guaranteed his survival.


Adoption advocacy

A mere 89 children were adopted from 'out-of-home care' last year. At the same time, more than 30,000 children had been in care continuously for longer than two years.

This is a proxy figure for the number of children potentially available for adoption, were adoption not officially taboo within the child protection world. Many children in long-term care have been subjected to prolonged maltreatment at home and highly damaging instability while in care (multiple entries, exits, and reentries) as endless efforts are made to preserve and reunite dysfunctional families.

The taboo reflects the complex history of adoption, including the legacy of the Stolen Generations and discredited forced adoption practices. But the tragic lessons of these episodes have been learned. Modern adoptions are 'open', meaning adopted children can have contact with birth parents and knowledge of their family and cultural heritages so they do not grow up strangers unto themselves.

A promising sign is that the debate is changing due to the growing realisation that many children would be better off having a safe and permanent adopted family for life.

Diana Bryant, the Chief Justice of the Family Court, and Megan Mitchell, the National Children's Commissioner have both expressed support of greater use of adoption for some children in care.

But there is still a long way to go. Political leadership is needed to drive cultural change in child protection authorities, but politicians are wary of supporting adoption for fear of being accused of repeating past mistakes and 'stealing' children all over again.

On controversial issues such as adoption, politicians prefer to lead in the direction the public is already prepared to head. This is why it is crucial for organisations like the CIS, and adoption advocacy groups such as Adopt Change, to lead the debate and build community support for adoption.

Adoption from care will not become a standard part of Australian child protection, as it should be, until the idea that modern, open adoption is a socially acceptable practice is embedded in the hearts and minds of the Australian public.


Excelsia College - A new force in Christian higher education

A new force in Christian higher education has relocated to Macquarie Park as the College continues its expansion and moves towards its goal of becoming Australia’s first global Christian university.

The 5,000m2 purpose-built campus is located at 69-71 Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park – with large numbers of potential students expected to show for the Open Day on Saturday 29 August 2015.

The new campus is a five minute walk from Macquarie Park railway station, with numerous bus routes available to the area, is easily accessed by car and within walking distance of one of Sydney’s foremost shopping precincts – Macquarie Centre.  It is ideal for students across Sydney. Excelsia College (previously Wesley Institute) is in joint collaboration with Indiana Wesleyan University to create a new force in Christian higher education in Australia.

“The physical campus is a clear demonstration of our momentum.  We continue to offer postgraduate degrees in teacher education, counselling and music as well as Bachelor degrees in drama and music.  

“Over the coming years we plan to expand the course offerings to new fields of study including business, arts, communications and behavioural science, all taught within a Christian framework and environment,” said Vice Chancellor for Asia-Pacific, Professor Bridget Aitchison.

"Australia is an excellent site for a global Christian university for many reasons including high standards in higher education. Another reason was the growth in demand for Christian schooling and the lack of a Protestant Christian university to allow continued study within a broad Christian framework and environment.

“The level of enquiries and interest has been heart-warming,” said Professor Aitchison.

BACKGROUND:  Excelsia College (previously known as Wesley Institute) has a joint collaboration with Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), which began in 2014 for the express purpose of achieving the goal to become Australia’s first global Christian university.

Wesley Institute has a 32 year history delivering on-campus and online degree programs.

IWU has 93 years of experience in Christ-centred higher education – currently it has 15,000 students in undergraduate and graduate degree courses, as well as innovative online courses.  

SOURCE (Press release)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Roseann Catt wins at last

A notorious case.  The evidence against her was always specious to me.  She was the victim of a crooked cop

A woman has been awarded a $2.3 million payout after she was wrongly imprisoned for a decade for the attempted murder of her husband.

Roseanne Beckett, formerly Roseanne Catt, has successfully sued the state of NSW after serving the majority of a 12-year sentence.

Justice Ian Harrison awarded the $2.3 million payout, plus legal costs, for malicious prosecution in the Supreme Court on Monday morning, 26 years to the day after her arrest, according to Nine News.

‘Victory, at long last victory,’ Ms Beckett told Nine, who was in tears on Monday morning following the judgement.

She was released in 2001 after new evidence came to light, and her conviction for soliciting the murder of her ex-husband, Barry Catt, was eventually quashed in 2005 by the Court of Criminal Appeal following a judicial inquiry into allegations she was framed.

The convictions against Ms Beckett, now dropped, claimed that she had spiked drinks in her husband's office fridge with the drugs Lithium and Rivotril, according to journalist Wendy Bacon, who closely reported on the injustice throughout the decades.

Ms Beckett and the defence has maintained since her arrest on August 24, 1989, that she had been framed and the victim of a conspiracy between her husband, his friend Adrian Newell, a key witness in her conviction, and Newcastle Detective Peter Thomas.

Ahead of the case in 1989, Mr Catt had been facing charges of assaulting Ms Beckett and had a restraining order to keep clear of the family home in Taree, regional NSW. He was also acquitted for charges of sexually assaulting their children.

Ms Bacon reported allegations that Ms Beckett's arrest had been part of a successful campaign to get Mr Catt acquitted for the charges.

The Taree woman won the right to appeal for compensation on May 8 in 2013 in the High Court in Canberra, Australia's highest court.


Vindictive Qld. police

This is a disgrace

A GOLD Coast cop who allegedly blew the whistle on the brutal bashing of a young chef in the Surfers Paradise police station basement has been hit with a serious criminal charge.

While the four officers who bashed 22-year-old Noa Begic while he was handcuffed largely escaped punishment, Sergeant Rick Flori, who is accused of leaking CCTV footage of the incident to The Courier-Mail, faces up to seven years behind bars.

Sgt Flori was formally charged with misconduct in public office after being summoned to police headquarters in Brisbane yesterday.

Mr Begic was assaulted in January 2012 after being arrested for public nuisance and obstructing police.

CCTV footage, obtained by The Courier-Mail, showed him being repeatedly punched and ground into the concrete floor with his hands cuffed behind his back.

The video also showed a senior-sergeant washing away the blood with a bucket of water.  He quit the service before any adverse findings were made by internal investigators, while the senior-constable who threw the punches was given a suspended dismissal and is back on the beat.

The other two officers involved were not disciplined.
Video of police bashing

The charges against Mr Begic were dropped and he won a confidential settlement from the Queensland Police Service.

Sgt Flori’s home was raided by Ethical Standards Command officers.

Queensland Police Union lawyer Calvin Gnech said the 25-year veteran officer had been charged with one count of misconduct in public office, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail.

Emerging from police headquarters, Sgt Flori said he had been inundated with support and was “very grateful” but could not comment further.

He is believed to have been stood down with pay and is due to face Southport Magistrates Court on July 15.

Supporter Renee Eaves, who accompanied Sgt Flori yesterday, said he had been to “hell and back” and could “absolutely” lose his job.  “It’s been an awful burden on him and his family,” she said. “People are really quite outraged.’’

Ms Eaves said Mr Begic was “still not in a good way”.

After his charges were dropped in June 2012, Mr Begic said it would be “a disgrace” if the officer who leaked the video was punished.


Reaction to Mark Latham’s colourful talk at the Melbourne Writers Festival shows us to be a nation of hypocrites

Rowan Dean writes reasonably below but Latham's main offence seems to have been his use of much foul language. And whether such language deserves free speech protection has always been a subject of debate.  "If you don't like it, walk out on it" has always been the libertarian dictum and some people did just that

IF YOU can’t be foul-mouthed at a writer’s festival, then where on earth can you be?

The uproar over Mark Latham’s diatribe at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival lays bare an uncomfortable truth about modern Australia – we have become a nation of whining, craven wimps frightened of our own shadows and terrified of our own thoughts. Worse, we have become a nation of hypocrites.

We pretend that we value free speech, but we instantly take offence at anybody who disagrees with our pre-ordained, pre-packaged, homogenised “progressive” attitudes.

Sadly, I was not in the audience to witness Mr Latham’s colourful use of our mother tongue. But had I been, I imagine it would have been the highlight of the weekend.

I’m pretty certain it would have been far more entertaining, enlightening, thought-provoking, or even enraging, than sitting through hour upon of hour of turgid drivel from authors droning on about gay marriage, climate change, and the evils of Tony Abbott.

Think I’m joking? Check out the festival website. How’s this for unintentional hilarity: “Is This How You Feel? is an exhibition of 22 handwritten letters from some of Australia’s leading climate researchers, describing how climate change makes them feel.

“Written with passion instead of in dry scientific language, the letters are powerful, heartfelt and raw.” Wow! Can’t wait for the book to come out!

Or perhaps you’d prefer to join the queue for this no doubt standing-room-only session: “How do women in media deal with the pressure to look ‘good’ and behave ‘properly’?” Er, with a mirror perhaps?

No, the purpose of good writing is to use words to inspire our deepest emotions, to provoke brave new thinking, and to always challenge the status quo.

The history of literature is all about creative people who dared to break religious and sexual taboos, to rage against the mundane, and to undermine through satire the rich and the powerful.

Writing is possibly mankind’s greatest skill, and one that has permitted our species to thrive through our ability to record our own innermost thoughts and share the lessons of our histories with those who came after us.

Which is why, alongside freedom of speech, sits freedom of expression – the right to write.

Writing captures our noblest dreams, but also our darkest nightmares.

From Shakespeare to Amis, writers have turned their talent to lewd profanities, blasphemy and causing maximum offence.

A writer’s festival, rather than an anodyne collection of minor celebrities twittering on about how they “feel”, should be an explosive and volatile combustion of the use of language to convey ideas that provoke fear, pleasure, joy, terror and sadness.

If I don’t leave a writer’s festival feeling inspired, angry, tortured, frustrated, elated and jealous, then the festival has failed me.

What we publish is of course different to what we write, being confined by defamation, but we should never forget the Duke of Wellington’s admonishment to “publish and be damned!” which, intriguingly in the light of the current Ashley Madison scandal, was in response to someone threatening to expose the Duke’s affair with his mistress.

Although I haven’t seen the transcript of his speech, I have no doubt that Mr Latham managed to offend and outrage all sorts of different people in equal measure. Good. Whether you like him or not, whether you agree with his politics or not, whether you accept his point of view or not on a whole range of issues, there is no denying Mr Latham’s skill with the pen.  He is a genuinely talented writer.

And if the one thing you learn from this festival is that a skilled writer can also be a foul-mouthed hater of things you hold precious and dear, then you have learned something valuable.

Certainly more than how to put on your lippy before reading the news.


The Greens Demolition Of Tasmania

If the Greens had their way, Tasmania would not have any industry or any economy. The Greens would prefer Tasmanians to revert back to the stone age and hunt for their food

The state election in March last year saved Tasmania from becoming an Aussie version of the Amish. They came within a whisker of existing without any meaningful business and were just about forced to re-invent the horse and cart. A 12.2 per cent swing to the Liberals meant they had the first pro-business state government in years.

With the Greens sharing power, it’s Earth Hour all year round if you want to run a business. Tasmania suffered years of neglect under a Labor/Green state goverment, and the result was loss of jobs, loss of industry, loss of standards and loss of wealth.

The Greens would like to see them scavenging for seeds and berries to eat, and trading possum pelts for a living, as long as the possums had died of natural causes first. The Federal Government should have come down hard and ruled that if the state doesn’t produce anything or earn any money, there will be no welfare available. As it stands, Tasmania has the highest number of illiterates in the country and the highest per capita of people living off a government hand out.

Tasmania is rich in minerals, it has great natural resources including fisheries and farming and tourism. It is nearly the size of England with a population of 500,000. There are 23 local councils who all fight with each other and are dominated by the Greens. It’s almost impossible to run a business. The Greens simply bring in overseas “experts” or apply to some international body to stifle any development.

The trashing of the Triabunna pulp mill and its associated port on Tassie’s east coast offers an insight into the looney Green’s tactics. The mill was purchased from Gunns in 2011 by the Wilderness Society. A Tasmanian parliamentary inquiry found the mill to be a viable business and said the purchasers had a contractual obligation to keep it running. Wilderness Society boss Alec Marr and his cronies went in and wrecked the joint.

A group of businessmen wanted to develop a tourism venture by running a cable car from the top of Mt Wellington down to Hobart and then join up with an overhead tramway that would travel around the Hobart waterfront. The tramway was to be purchased secondhand from Sydney. It would have created building jobs and permanent employment. NO! said the Greens.

It’s not only in Tasmania. The Greens are out to stop all 21st century development. Christine Milne’s solution for second airport in NSW, take a train. In Victoria, scrap the East/West Link and take a train. The same people who have prospered due to human progress now want to prohibit that from the next generation. The loopy Greens are the ‘Taliban’ of the Australian economy.

The Green voter doesn’t have the intellectual capability to understand the gravity of their policies, but is more worried about gaining favour among their urban social peers because it’s cool to vote Green. The Universities are the problem, not the solution. Almost all Leftist policies emanate from radical university lecturers. Christopher Pyne should be spending his time trying to eradicate this cancer from the teaching/lecturing mob.

The demographics are that a lot of them will have a university degree, where the ability to think and reason should be highly developed. However, there are very few of them who understand the basics of maths and economics.

Tasmanians have learnt a very painful lesson and it is doubtful they will ever hold the Greens party in the esteem they once did. Unfortunately, the inner city elite on the mainland have yet to learn that painful lesson, but eventually they will be forced to acknowledge that the socialist nirvana promised by the Greens is nothing more than a mad dreamscape.

Tasmania would like to develop a new and unique export industry – shipping off the loopy Greens to their spiritual home in North Korea.


Julie Bishop cracked heads over AusAID fraud

The list of rorts sounds like a spoof on corruption in tin-pot third-world countries, and it’s what led newly ­appointed Foreign­ Minister Julie Bishop to shake up AusAID in late 2013.

The head of Papua New Gui­nea’s Law and Justice Secretariat Program gives himself and his staff a 23 per cent pay rise without authorisation, duchesses departing workmates with over-the-top payouts, and hands out contracts to companies he owns, for a fraud of Australian taxpayer dollar aid worth about $600,000.

Nearly 200 tonnes of Australian food aid reaches famine-ravaged Somalia and is handed over to the World Food Program in Mogadishu, only to be completely looted, with the program confirming the loss two years later.

Two Australian aid payments totalling $1.6 million to set up remot­e area health clinics in the Solomons are made to a company called Joke Shipping Services, which has no ships, and whose only services are to its corrupt owners, who pocket the money.

The Australian can reveal full details of many of the individual acts of fraud and corruption by which AusAID funds went astray in recent years.

Most were never reported, in part because departmental off­ic­ers advised Ms Bishop and her predecessor, Labor’s Bob Carr, to keep them hushed up.

The handwriting on the ministerial submissions obtained by The Australian through a Freedom of Information application shows that while Mr Carr, who was then a senator, simply noted the corruption, Ms Bishop was shocked and ­demanded briefings and ­action.

The corruption in the aid program­ was one of the reasons Ms Bishop decided to terminate ­AusAID as an autonomous ­agency and bring the aid operation within her department, to ­enforce a higher standard of ­accountability.

The Foreign Minister told The Australian last November that at a briefing in October 2013, soon after the Coalition had been elect­ed to office, officials told her of “a number of fraud cases under ­investigation in the Australian aid program”. She would not disclose details of the fraud cases, she said at the time, “as investigations are ongoing’’.

The FOI application has revealed­ details of seven cases of fraud in the aid program, which took place under Labor, and how Ms Bishop brought bureaucrats to heel as a result.

In a ministerial submission, dated October 25, 2013, acting Aus­AID director-general Ewen McDonald provided Ms Bishop with AusAID’s 2012-13 Fraud Control Report, listing a number of cases of corruption.

Officials wrote that “Aus­AID’s potential losses in 2012-13 from detected fraud were $706,290”, but reassured the new minister that “levels of fraud against the aid program are low”.

In the space for ministerial comment, Ms Bishop circled the “please discuss” option on the submission, and wrote: “Need to discuss­ fraud within context of proposed benchmarks. Need to discuss overview on this — $700k lost to fraud is $700k!”

Mr Carr’s reaction was quite different when he was presented with the corresponding minister­ial submission the previous year, which involved similar amounts of taxpayers’ money lost to corruption.

He simply initialled the submission, half circling the “noted” option, and did not circle the box “please discuss”.

Another ministerial submiss­ion to Mr Carr, about the suspension of a scholarship program in Afghanistan after bribery and falsification were discovered, similarly met only with a ministerial scratch on the “noted” boxes, and his initials.

By contrast, other ministerial submissions show Ms Bishop took a keen interest in individual cases of defrauded Australian aid money. On one submission on the Afghan scholarship program corruption, dated October 2013, Ms Bishop wrote “as discussed with Ewen McDonald”.

That submission detailed how two local staff members employed by aid contractor GRM Inter­national had sought bribes from prospective scholarship students.

“In one case, a relative of one of the key suspects was awarded a scholarship on the basis of falsified documents and subsequently ­absconded on arrival in Australia,” first assistant director-general Scott Dawson wrote in the submission.

Mr Dawson had written to Mr Carr in 2012 to say that AusAID “does not recommend public comment at this stage, while the detailed ­independent fraud investig­ation is being put in place”.

In February last year, when the fraud investigation report was complete, Mr Dawson recommended it “not be publicly released”, to “avoid jeopardising possible future action against former­ GRM staff”, a suggestion Ms Bishop approved.

Ms Bishop also took an interest in the PNG Law and Justice ­Secretariat rort, writing on a minis­terial submission: “Late detection?” The fraud started in January 2011, but it was not until September 12, 2013, that AusAID director-general Peter Baxter wrote to PNG National Planning Minister Charles Abel about it.

“This is now AusAID’s largest active fraud case,” Mr Baxter wrote in his letter to Mr Abel. “We do not intend to initiate any public comment on this case. But it is an important issue on which our governments should demonstrate timely action.”

Ms Bishop also took departmental officials to task over the Joke Shipping scandal. In a ministerial submission about the Solomons fraud in November 2011, she wrote: “Not clear from brief how/by whom suspected fraud was ­detected. Please advise.”

When The Australian revealed the Solomon Islands aid heist last November, departmental spokesman Jonathan Muir denied any attempt to hush it up. But Mr Muir admitted the department did not put out a press release on the theft, and while he said it was mentioned in the department’s annual report, the only reference was one line saying “the Solomon Islands government responded swiftly to a large-scale fraud in the health sector”, with no mention that the funds were provided by AusAID.

In a confidential email about the Solomons corruption dated November 6, 2013, unearthed in the FOI documents, one departmental officer told a senior official: “This information needs to be protected due to the ongoing fraud invest­igation in Solomon Islands.”

The FOI application unearthed three other cases of Australian aid money being rorted.

In East Timor in 2012, the ­finance manager and director of a local non-governmental organ­isa­tion, Fundasaun Fatu Sinai Oecusse­, allegedly “withdrew pro­gram funds for personal use” in the amount of $44,480.

Again in PNG and in the Law and Justice program, the Correctional Services finance director in 2012 overruled a recommendation from the IT manager for the purchase of computer equipment.

He then got a quotation from a different company “that was not reputable in the computer sales ­industry”, according to the ministerial submission.

The switch “points to the ­receipt of a kickback payment”, the submission says, and the fraud was put at $91,592.

And yet again in PNG, in the HIV/AIDS Prevention Campaign, a subcontractor to NGO Family Health International “did not ­deliver an SMS campaign as per their contract”, with the fraud valued at $56,483.

Those were the cases Mr Dawson, who made the ruling on The Australian’s FOI request, agreed to release, with the documents heavily redacted.

It is not known how many other cases, if any, he suppressed.

Mr Dawson wrote in his decis­ion that some material “is exempt from disclosure as its release could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the international relations of the commonwealth”.

The department, and Ms ­Bishop, were circumspect on the outcomes of the cases, but one ministerial submission says the PNG government paid back the nearly $600,000 in money rorted by the Law and Justice Secretariat.

The funds in the East Timor rort and the PNG HIV/AIDS cases were also recovered.

Ms Bishop would only say: “In five out of the seven cases, all amounts the subject of fraud against the commonwealth have been fully recovered.

“In the remaining two cases, action is ongoing to recover the funds subject to fraud, and to prosecute offenders.”


Monday, August 24, 2015

Stop union racism, Senator tells Labor Party leader

Leftist racism is never far below the surface

CABINET minister Mathias Cormann has demanded Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pull unions into line and stop a "racist, dog-whistling" campaign against Australia's trade deal with China.

SEVERAL unions are stridently opposed to parts of the agreement they believe will allow Chinese companies to bring in cheap labour at the expense of Australian workers - something the government denies.

Senator Cormann said the "racist dog whistle against China" was contrary to Australia's national interest. "Bill Shorten clearly doesn't have the strength of character to do what needs to be done," he told Network Ten on Sunday.  "By saying nothing, he's effectively supporting this racist and dishonest union campaign against what is a very important free trade agreement for our country."

Labor wants a better explanation of the provisions under which companies can bring in workers, arguing the text of the deal does not explicitly lay out the safeguards the government says are included.  The government insists all the usual working visa "checks and balances" stay in place for work Chinese companies do in Australia under the agreement.

It stepped up the attack on Labor in parliament over the past week, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott accusing the opposition of wanting to bring back the White Australia policy.

Senator Cormann asked on Sunday why the unions were campaigning only against the China agreement, when the Abbott government had also completed trade deals with Korea and Japan.

"I suspect that the union movement is essentially just trying to take a generally protectionist approach, trying to hold back our economy in some sort of misguided view that this is better for their members," he said. "But it ain't better."


No honour in Hastie smear
Leftists would not even know what honour means.  Hate is their abiding motivation

Miranda Devine

THE upcoming Canning by-election in WA is being framed as a referendum on Tony Abbott’s leadership, so it was always going to get dirty.  But the political smear launched yesterday against Liberal candidate Andrew Hastie sets a new low,

Captain Hastie, 32, is a former SAS soldier who served three tours in Afghanistan and was recently deployed in missions against Islamic State.

In other words he is a hero, who has laid his life on the line to protect our way of life. We are lucky he has decided to continue his service by standing for parliament.

But, according to damning headlines in the Fairfax press, there is a “Question of Conduct” hanging over Hastie because he was “officer in command of a troop being investigated for chopping the hands off dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.”

Turns out Hastie was elsewhere on the battlefield at the time the alleged incident took place in 2013. But, anyway, hands are removed from enemy corpses in the middle of a battle so that fingerprint checks can identify them later.

This is the grisly reality of war.

As Neil James, executive director of the Australia Defence Association, said: “At least [Hastie] has done something important with his life before he runs for Parliament.”

Abbott-haters understandably are gnashing their teeth that the Liberals have such an admirable candidate in Hastie.  But using his war service against him is contemptible.


The real union fraud story involving Bill Shorten and Kathy Jackson. Where’s the missing $15million?

The HSU fraud saga is one of those triple backstab type situations where the corruption continues today under the watchful eye of current National President Lloyd Williams and National Secretary Chris Brown.

Put simply, Michael Williamson, Kathy Jackson, Craig Thomson and others had been involved in major fraud for years ripping off HSU members millions of dollars. Kathy Jackson decided to have a power grab and tried to oust the other crooks and thieves. Jackson had success in destroying Williamson, Thomson and a few others and for a while was hailed as a whistleblowing hero taking on union corruption.

Bill Shorten saw this and did not like it so he manoeuvred to have his own union crooks and thieves take over from Jackson. Shorten had a first go in the 2009 HSU elections and tried to oust Jackson by running a ticket headed up by Diana Asmar and supported with funding by the AWU and other unions. It failed.

In April 2012 Bill Shorten and Senator Stephen Conroy had a second go and tried to have the HSU charge Kathy Jackson for breaching Union rules. This also failed and I wrote an article at the time titled “Statutory Declarations show Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy trying to put the political hit on Kathy Jackson” (Click here to read the article)

So in May/June 2012 Bill Shorten used his position as Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations to put the HSU into administration and appoint an administrator which cut off Kathy Jackson’s cash flow and made it near impossible for her or her allies to compete in the subsequent 2012 HSU elections.

Shorten had a corrupt ex judge called Michael Moore appointed as the administrator. (Click here to read more) This is interesting as Bill Shorten is currently trying to have former High Court of Australia judge Dyson Heydon removed as head of the Trade Union Royal Commission on the basis of perceived bias. But Shorten was happy to appoint a corrupt Labor Party puppet and former Federal Court judge such as Michael Moore as administrator so he could get his crime gang on the inside of the HSU. (Declaration: Michael Moore is mentioned on the front page of my book. Click here to see)

Since then Bill Shorten’s crime gang of David Asmar, Diana Asmar, Andrew Landeryou and his wife Kimberley Kitching have been stealing everything that isn’t nailed down at the HSU Victoria Number 1 Branch. (They trade as the Health Workers Union) Kitching left last year after the Royal Commission recommended she and Diana Asmar and five others at the branch face criminal charges. (Click here to read more)

The fraud and theft that currently goes on at the HSU by Shorten’s crime gang has gone unreported besides this website and people on social media. But the Trade Union Royal Commission is investigating and Diana Asmar and Co should be back in the witness stand in a few weeks.

Union whistleblower Kathy Jackson has been called almost every name under the sun over the last few days since the $1.4million judgment against her for stealing from the Health Services Union (HSU). While most of the names such as fraudster, thief and hypocrite are fair and reasonable, credit also has to be given for Jackson’s whistleblowing as it saved millions for HSU members. If she had not blown the whistle massive fraud would be continuing by Michael Williamson and others at the HSU. Although it hasn’t stopped Bill Shorten’s crime gang.

So while Jackson should not be given the standard credit most whistleblowers receive she should get some credit.

There has been a huge effort, while the Royal Commission has been in progress, by the Labor Party and the Unions to put the focus and responsibility on Kathy Jackson for most of the Union corruption. While that might have worked at times to distract some media it won’t work at all from now given this week’s judgment against her.

It is interesting that Labor and the Unions try and use Kathy Jackson in an attempt to embarrass Prime Minister Tony Abbott because he once praised Kathy Jackson for blowing the whistle. Yet it was Bill Shorten who was long-term friends with Kathy Jackson while she ripped off the Union. Their friendship dated back to their university days and apparently continued up until 2007 when they had a falling out.


Phonics call for Australian schools

Around this time last year, a review of the Australian curriculum commissioned by the federal government called for a revision of the primary school curriculum to place greater emphasis on literacy and numeracy, particularly in the early years. It found that the curriculum did not adequately cover the essential components of effective reading instruction, especially phonics. The results of national and international testing show the consequences of less-than-exemplary instruction-unacceptably high numbers of children failing to achieve even minimal literacy and numeracy standards.

At the time, the review's recommendations were characterised as proposing a 'back to basics' curriculum, but this view is not commensurable with a closer reading of the report. Far from proposing a hollowed-out, skills-based curriculum, a large part of the review report is devoted to the importance of content - the facts, concepts and ideas that embody what it means to be well-educated.

This week, it has been reported that the draft version of the revised curriculum contains more detail about the scope and sequence of the building blocks of written language - phonemic awareness and phonics. This is a welcome development. While schools often claim to teach phonics, the existing Australian curriculum gave the impression that this was a minor aspect of early literacy teaching.

Again, this has been described as a back-to-basics approach. Or even worse, as 'drill and kill'. Yet phonics instruction is far from basic - it is highly specific and scientific, and for many children, essential. Even the most ardent phonics advocate would not suggest that phonics is all children need to be good readers. They also need a good vocabulary and good general knowledge. First you need to be able to work out what the word is, then you need to understand what it means.

At this stage it is not clear exactly how other areas of the primary curriculum might have changed.  New ACARA chair Professor Steven Schwartz has said that the revised curriculum will allow schools more 'creativity' in their teaching of subjects like history and geography. Ideally, that means that history, geography and social sciences are embedded in comprehensive literacy programs, and vice versa. Either way, it would be wrong to assume that phonics comes at the expense of knowledge


Biffo is as angry as ever

Conservatives will always thank him for making Labor unelectable under his leadership

Former Labor leader Mark Latham has again landed himself in hot water after a controversial tirade at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Commenting on an assortment of topics, Mr Latham added to the public debate surrounding his highly publicised departure last week as a columnist for the Australian Financial Review.

Mr Latham was meant to be discussing the objectivity of ex-politicans reporting on politics, but baffled the audience when he opened the session by saying: 'This is how I talk ... and if you don't like it, you can f*** off.'

'What's wrong with a bit of unfiltered conversation? And the word f*** and c***, they've been on the front page of the Australian so they've been legitimised, so let's get right into it — f***, c***, poo, bum', he continued.

The question and answer session with Mr Latham on Saturday turned ugly when event host and ABC presenter Jonathon Green asked him to confirm whether he was behind a Twitter account used to attack prominent Australians.

It was Mr Latham's first public appearance since the Twitter controversy began last week. There was wide speculation the account was behind him leaving the AFR, though the paper's editor denied it.

A number of people left during the display while others in the audience clashed with Mr Latham about his criticism of prominent women, including Rosie Batty, and the booing of Sydney Swans footballer Adam Goodes.

Mr Latham's appearance was laced with provocative comments.

During his rapid-fire rant, he said Labor's best bet for electoral success was to stop fighting for 'symbolic' things like marriage equality, domestic violence and indigenous recognition.

He also lashed out at the host, attacking Mr Green for reposting a critical tweet about him, calling him an 'ABC w***ker', 'deviant' and 'bigot'.

Mr Green later tweeted about the tirade, saying, 'well that escalated quickly'. Using its official Twitter account, festival organisers expressed regret for Mr Latham's outburst.