Friday, October 30, 2015

Australia is the meat-eating capital of the world:  Cop that, WHO!

According to the WHO we must be dying like flies.  Australians in fact have one of the world's highest life expectancies.  So if diet has any effect on life-expectancy, the WHO is exactly wrong. They say that red meat will rot your bum and don't go anywhere near bacon.  I quote:

"Red meat
After thoroughly reviewing the accumulated scientific literature, a Working Group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.

This association was observed mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Processed meat
Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer"

Iconoclastic though it may be, I don't think that there is ANYTHING in a normal diet that affects life-expectancy for good or ill.  And I have spent YEARS reading flaky academic studies claiming otherwise.  They are all inconclusive and reflect food snobbery most of all

As residents of the world's meat-eating capital, Australians would be wise to pay more attention than most to the World Health Organisation's findings linking processed meat consumption to cancer.

Australians have finally surpassed the US to claim the title of world's most voracious meat eaters – a distinction we last held more than 30 years ago, in 1982.

Australians devoured 90.21 kilograms of meat per person in 2014, 170 grams more per person than the Americans, according to the latest figures from the Organisation of Economic Development and Co-operation and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Our return to the top ranking is mostly due to a decade-long decline in American meat consumption.  By contrast, Australia's meat consumption has been creeping upwards over the past two decades, mostly driven by an increased appetite for chicken and pork.

While red meat has traditionally taken pride of place at the centre of the Aussie dinner table, we're now eating half as much lamb as in the 1980s and two-thirds the amount of beef, but nearly 2.5 times as much chicken and twice as much pork. (Our shifting preferences can be traced to a number of economic, cultural and environmental factors.)

Different patterns of meat consumption around the world tell a story of rich and poor. Meat consumption tends to rise as income rises, until it reaches a saturation point – where average incomes keep rising but people decide they just can't eat any more meat.

Cultural preferences produce some notable exceptions to the "mo money mo meat" pattern, such as India, where religious preferences mean up to 30-40 per cent of the population are vegetarians; and Malaysia and China, where meat consumption is far higher than would be expected from each country's income.

Worldwide, chicken is now the world's favourite meat by a slim margin, having surpassed pork in 2007 – a trend mostly driven by meat preferences among the wealthy OECD nations. Chicken has been the preferred meat among OECD countries since 2000. Worldwide consumption of chicken was 13.2kg per person in 2014; pork was 12.6kg.

China and Vietnam – two of the world's fastest-rising meat-eating nations – ate the most pork of any nation in 2014, with the Chinese surpassing the Europeans to claim the No. 1 ranking only recently, in 2013.

Pork is by far the most widely-consumed meat among the EU28 countries, with Europeans eating about 31kg of pork per person in 2014, compared with 22kg of chicken.

Pork is also the preferred meat among the major emerging BRICS economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, where 16kg of pork is eaten for every 10kg of chicken.

Not to be out-eaten in the pork stakes (or steaks), Australia ranked eighth out of 43 countries for pork consumption in 2014, at 20kg of pork per person.


Let’s stop blurring the truth about family violence

The lady below gets it but still skates over the specifics.  For instance, An Aboriginal woman is 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than a white woman. So Aborigines make up a big part of the figures reported.  On any rational calculus it is Aboriginal communities that should be prime targets of the domestic violence warriors but they are in fact rarely mentioned.  Racism?

And family violence in Aboriginal communities is NOT a hopeless case.  Extra policing is not in principle hard to arrange and would make a big difference to the often lawless situation in such communities.  Just arresting drunks would make a huge difference -- as much violence is drunken

FAMILY violence is all the rage. More than ever before it is on the minds and tongues of politicians of all stripes; as it should have been long ago.

It’s been labelled a national shame. It’s been called an epidemic. Men kill their partners or ex-partners at the rate of about one a week.

The Advertiser revealed yesterday that a government unit is dealing with 36 women and children each week who are at immediate risk of injury or death. In South Australia alone.

What the current appeals and awareness campaigns and earnest speeches from people in suits are doing is trying to breach that code of silence. They’re trying to shine a light on relationships that are abysmally wrong, to shame the perpetrators and give the survivors the courage to escape.

But the light isn’t quite getting in to all the corners. While all women — and children, and men — are at risk of violence, some are more at risk than others.

This is the truth still submerged in shadows. If you’re poor, or can’t speak English, or you’re an Aboriginal in remote Australia, or even if you’re gay, you’re more at risk.

Disadvantage in life can lead to vulnerability to violence. The topic treads treacherous waters.

It is true, and rightly emphasised, that anyone can be a victim. The sturdy bluestone walls of a stately Burnside home won’t protect you because the danger is already inside.

But there’s a well-intentioned deception going on when people don’t talk about risk factors. The Australian Institute of Criminology, Parliament, and the Australian Institute of Family Studies are among those who have documented those risk factors.

The biggest risk factor is being female, but the others include: being culturally or linguistically diverse [Muslim], being Aboriginal, being poor, being uneducated, being gay, lesbian or transgender, being disabled.

This blurring of the truth by not talking about those groups is well intentioned because it would cause harm to start pointing fingers at specific communities, and it would risk ignoring the still-appalling levels of violence within the somewhat-lower risk groups.

But ignoring the risk factors won’t help get us to that elusive solution. If we’re really going to get into the dark corners, we have to be fierce and fearless.

There are people in Australia who come from countries where there are no laws against domestic violence — mostly African nations. There are many who come to Australia from countries where women have fewer rights. That list includes much of the Arab world and Asia.

But we don’t import most of the at-risk groups; they’re already here.

They’re often not at the swanky fundraising balls, or the Press Club, listening to politicians talk about family violence. They’re not watching Question Time, or listening to leaders say that “real men” wouldn’t hit women.

They’re living the reality that we’re now hearing so much about, but their voices are almost always missing from this vital conversation. Because we don’t want to single them out.

This is the first time we’ve had so much political will to change the nation, and we can’t afford to squib it through squeamishness.


Malcolm Turnbull repels anti-mines push with coal hard facts

Prime Minister Turnbull has repudiated calls for a moratorium on new coal mines, in a fundamental break with environmental activists. The Prime Minister drew ­industry acclaim but sparked fury from green groups

The International Energy Agency also countered predictions of an end to the coal trade, declaring yesterday that other ­energy sources had little chance of beating the cost of coal-fired power stations in the rising economies of Asia. With global ­demand for coal rising 2.1 per cent a year for the next five years, the Turnbull government sees the ­nation’s $40 billion in annual coal exports as vital to the economy, despite a price slump that has hit the federal budget.

The coal trade has seen a ­doubling of capacity at Port ­Waratah in Newcastle, NSW, in the time that coal services worker Shaun Sears has made his living from the exports. “The port’s ­capacity has gone from 70 million tonnes to 145 million in the 12 years I’ve been here,” the 52-year-old said yesterday.

The Prime Minister yesterday issued a swift response to an open letter from 61 prominent Australians, including Nobel laureate Peter Doherty, rugby union ­player David Pocock, former ­Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser and ABC radio host Adam Spencer, in which they called for a global climate change agreement to stop new coal mines.

Mr Turnbull embraced the prospect of cheaper renewable ­energy from solar and wind power but debunked the idea of a rapid shift away from fossil fuels and warned against driving the world’s poor into “energy poverty” by clamping down on coal.

“If Australia were to stop all of its coal exports it would … not reduce global emissions one iota,” Mr Turnbull said when asked about the call. “In fact, arguably it would increase them because our coal, by and large, is cleaner than the coal in many other countries. So with great respect to the motivations and the big hearts and the idealism of the people that advocate that, that is actually not a sensible policy, either from an economic point of view, a jobs point of view or, frankly, from a global warming or global emissions point of view.”

Government ministers and backbenchers saw the remarks as a signal of Mr Turnbull’s approach to climate change policy after the bitter Coalition divisions of the past, with a pragmatic new message that rejects the extreme positions taken by some green groups or those who reject the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb stepped up the government’s message, declaring that Australia had a “moral obligation” to sell its coal to developing nations. Mr Robb, who is in India for the latest round of talks on a free-trade deal, said it would be wrong to deny electricity to millions of people. “No matter which way you look at it, over the next 50 to 70 years there is no alternative to coal as part of the mix,” he said.

Bill Shorten also rejected a moratorium yesterday.

The IEA, the world’s top energy authority, has issued robust forecasts for the use of coal. Its executive director, Fatih Birol, told a conference in Singapore yesterday that coal would not “disappear quickly” because it had a significant cost advantage over gas.

Dr Birol cautioned, however, that unless policies changed there would be “serious environmental impacts” from the widespread use of coal-fired power across Southeast Asia.

The IEA estimates that coal demand will rise 2.1 per cent a year to 2019, down from the 3.3 per cent rate in recent years but still growing. Chinese coal consumption will not peak during the five-year outlook.

The signatories to the moratorium turned on the Prime Minister yesterday, saying he should act on a warning from Kiribati President Anote Tong to halt new mines. “In essence, Malcolm Turnbull misses the whole point,” said La Trobe University emeritus professor Robert Manne. “The call is for an international moratorium on new coal mines and that reflects our understanding that the planet is not to be destroyed. Eighty per cent of known reserves of fossil fuels have to be left in the ground. The issue is as simple as that.”

The Australia Institute’s executive director, Ben Oquist, said Mr Tong had not called for an export ban but had made a “considered call” for a global moratorium on new mines.

Company director and former Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said critics of coal needed to accept that wind and solar were not capable of providing reliable base-load power. Mr Turnbull had made “sensible, balanced comments” that Australians should welcome, he said.

Australian Mines and Metals Association chief Steve Knott said Mr Turnbull had highlighted that if Australia did not export coal then other countries would.


With our way of life under threat, focus on what unites us

Gerard Henderson regrets that most intellectuals and many Muslims and blacks in Australia feel no loyalty to Australia

In reviewing John Howard’s The Menzies Era in The Times Literary Supplement last May, Clive James made a tough-minded assessment about refugees, immigration and all that.

James wrote: “Until recently, in Australia, every ethnic group that came in was assimilated if it wanted to: the Muslim extremists are the first consignment of immigrants to hate Western ­civilisation almost as much as the resident intellectuals do.” Tough minded, for sure. But fair. Except that the intelligentsia in Australia is not into murder and/or destruction.

On the other hand, some Islamists openly proclaim their intention to overthrow Australian democracy and establish a caliphate whereby everyone will live in accordance with the dictates of an Islamist theocracy.

Certainly this is the view of only a very small minority of the Muslim community. Yet it is both real and threatening. This was made clear in the important report by Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop and Dylan Welch on the ABC’s 7.30 last Monday.

The program interviewed a 19-year-old supporter of the so-called Islamic State, or Daesh, who knew Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old who murdered Curtis Cheng outside the Parramatta police station.

The 19-year-old, who came to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan 10 years ago, did not attempt to disguise his hatred for Australia and non-Islamist Australians. While demanding anonymity on the ABC, the young man understands he is known to NSW Police, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security and Intelligence Service.

He described himself as “a normal dude”. But there was nothing normal about his religio-political ideology. Asked why he found it hard to say that Cheng’s murder was a tragedy for the victim and his family, the reply was brutal: “Why should I please the kafir — the ­disbelievers?”

So, to this Islamist, the battle is unambiguous.

There are Islamists like him and there are the kafirs. And he is waging war against disbelievers: “There is no other law except Allah’s law; people that smoke drugs, there’s no cigarettes, there’s no alcohol, there’s no brothels, there’s no clubbing — all shut down.” That’s life under the caliphate.

Earlier he had declared that “everyone wants to die for Allah” and those who died for Allah get to live “the best life in the hereafter”. It was no surprise, then, that he declined to answer whether he was prepared to get killed for Allah. This, after all, is the Islamists’ distorted interpretation of 15-year-old murderer Jabar’s death — who was shot by NSW police acting in self-defence.

The uncomfortable truth is that there are a number of Jabars in contemporary Australia who are prepared to kill kafirs, to die for what they believe is Allah’s cause. This deauthorises the position of academic Waleed Aly, who ­described such terrorist acts as the Boston Marathon bombing as a “perpetual irritant”, and journalist David Marr, who said last year that “the amount of fear being thrown into the community at the moment is disgraceful”.

The Islamists involved in acts of terrorism in Australia — or conspiracy to commit terrorism in Australia — during the past decade include Australian-born, immigrants and refugees alike. This problem is likely to be with us for a long time despite the best efforts of police and intelligence services along with the mainstream ­Muslim community.

In view of this reality, it makes sense for the rest of the Australian community to focus on what unites us rather than what divides. Yet this is not the fashion in Australia where, as James and others have noted, many of the best educa­ted happen to be the most alienated.

This is evident, for example, in the indigenous community. Talented [Aboriginal] actress Miranda Tapsell was interviewed by Karl Stefanovic on the Nine Network’s The ­Verdict on October 15. Despite her evident success, Tapsell said no when asked if she identified herself as Australian. Asked the reason for this, she replied: “When I go to Australia Day, I don’t feel like an Australian that day because people are telling me I can’t be part of that.” It is not clear who made such an assertion.

Asked whether she would sing the national anthem, Tapsell ­responded: “I’d mumble it in the corner of my mouth, maybe.”

Deborah Cheetham, associate dean of music at the University of Melbourne, has gone even further. In an article in The Conversation this week, the famous indigenous soprano revealed that she had declined an invitation to sing Advance Australia Fair at the Australian Football League grand final in Melbourne this month.

Shortly after her piece in The Conversation was published, Cheetham received a soft interview on ABC Radio 702’s program Mornings, hosted by Linda Mottram.

Mottram described the article as “wonderful” as the author spelled out her opposition to the words of the national anthem.

In short, Cheetham will not sing the words “For we are young and free” primarily because she believes it is condescending to indigenous Australians to describe the nation as “young”. Her point is that Aborigines, in what became known as Australia, go back more than 50,000 years.

True, of course. But it is also true that the Commonwealth of Australia was created in January 1901, which makes the country relatively young.

Moreover, many indigenous Australians have ­European, Asian or Islander ­ancestors in addition to their indigenous ancestors.

Tapsell, for example, told The Verdict that her father had an ­English and Irish background.

Mick Dodson in 2009 raised the familiar question as to whether Australia Day should be called “Invasion Day”. That was a reasonable point, provided that all Aborigines who have some ­non-indigenous ancestors acknow­ledge that they are part “invaded” and part “invaders”.

The threat to democratic ­society is real and immediate. It makes sense to embrace the reality of a young and free nation and to reject alienation, whether it is sparked by discontented intellectuals or murder-endorsing ­extremists.


How technology can help with  Australia's (and the world's) educational problems

But no substituite for a demanding curriculum -- JR

A recent UN Education Agency commissioned report [PDF/2.3MB] estimated that at least 250 million of the world's primary school age children are unable to read, write or do basic mathematics at all. The same number of children are also struggling to improve to a functional level, and this is not a problem linked solely to developing countries.

In Australia, as in many other developed countries, we are facing the very real possibility that, in the near future, the generation approaching retirement will be more literate and numerate than the youngest adults.

Solving Australia's challenges or the problem of global illiteracy and innumeracy is a huge task but it's essential if we are to improve the health, wellbeing and life chances of the world's children.

I would argue that there has never been a better time to be in education. The technology we have available to us now means that the difficulties of the past shouldn't constrain our future or, more importantly, our children's future.

I believe that this is achievable and that the answer lies in making learning both accessible and efficient. The opportunities that technology opens up in this regard are just astounding and, in terms of learning, it can be of tremendous assistance.

Mastering skills such as number recognition, automatic recall of times tables or being able to smoothly blend groups of letters to form words takes time. It is therefore vital that children are motivated and engaged sufficiently to persevere.

Technology is a tool to help learning not a replacement. A number of people are of the opinion that technology shouldn't be used in education. I fundamentally disagree. Technology can be used to improve learning. It is ubiquitous to children's lives these days and to take it away seems false. You would not go into a hospital and say "I don't want modern treatment, please give me what worked in the 1940s or '50s"!

Technology isn't just an aide to the child it can give so much to the teacher, parent, education system. Technology can help reveal to us how children learn which, in turn, enables us to teach in better ways. We are able to identify the areas of the curriculum that children struggle to grasp.

For example if you go back five years and ask most maths teachers what basic skills children find difficult and they would have flagged division as one of the hardest.

In fact the data from millions of records, in scores of countries, suggests otherwise. Subtraction is the element that children find the most challenging. Once they have mastered that area then others fall more easily into place.

Technology cannot and does not replace the great teacher but it can bring in others into the equation who can be also hugely supportive and motivational to the child.

In my experience technology that opens the door to the child's support group to take an active role in education will have the biggest impact on learning and help us radically improve life outcomes for millions of children.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Turnbull appoints pro-nuke man as chief "scientist"

I entirely approve of the fact that Alan Finkel is an energetic advocate of nuclear power.  But that's a political matter, not a science matter.  One might as well mention that he is rich,  brilliant, Jewish and a supporter of Israel.  I think well of all  those things too but they are not scientific qualifications.  As a retired scientist myself, I had hoped that a politically uninvolved scientist would get the job.  But Turnbull knows his politics.  And Finkel is politically clever too.  He pushes nuclear power by joining the Greenie chorus against coal.  So he more or less has everyone onside.  A clever man indeed

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he's putting innovation at the heart of government policy with the appointment of an entrepreneur as Australia's new chief scientist.

Prominent engineer and neuroscientist Alan Finkel, who is also an advocate of nuclear energy, has been billed as the man who can help Australia bridge the gap between scientific research and industry.

It's one of Australia's weaknesses and it needs to be addressed if Australia is to remain a prosperous 'high-wage, generous social welfare net economy in the years to come', Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

'Science as part of innovation is at the very heart of this government's policy,' Mr Turnbull said.  '(Dr Finkel) absolutely fits the spirit of the times in which we live. 'A scientist and an entrepreneur, an innovator, a communicator.'

Labor and the Greens also welcomed his appointment. 'Although we differ with him about nuclear power, we hope Dr Finkel's appointment represents a new scientific consensus that coal's days are numbered,' Greens MP Adam Bandt said.

Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said Australia was sixth in the OECD when it comes to quality of research but last when it comes to commercialisation of that research.

He said Dr Finkel fits into the government's new priority of linking business and science.

'We have demonstrably appointed him as a signal to the sector that we want science and business to be very much focused together in this country to create jobs, to create growth and to make breakthroughs that assist in the human development,' he said.

Mr Pyne said the government would announce a comprehensive innovation and science agenda by the end of the year.

Dr Finkel is Chancellor of Monash University and president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

He said Australia was at a 'critical moment', under a leadership team that appreciates the importance of science and technology and understands how it can deliver prosperity and productivity.

Dr Finkel takes the reins from Professor Ian Chubb as the government's top science adviser in January.

Prof Chubb said Dr Finkel came to the role with a 'rare blend of passion, patience and persistence the position demands'.


The TRUTH about the fight against the Bendigo mosque

If anyone is foolish enough to believe what is being printed in our media about the outcome of the Bendigo mosque VCAT hearing last week or if anyone has any delusions that our win at VCAT was anything but a major and significant victory, let me begin by saying that had there been any opportunity for VCAT to force this mosque permit through, they most certainly would have.

The postponement of the hearing to the 23rd of February 2016 did not happen simply because VCAT President, Greg Garde was feeling benevolent toward us. It was because he had absolutely NO CHOICE.

Robert Balzola dismantled their case and they were unable to rebut his argument.

Of great significance was the complete annihilation of the Human Rights Charter argument by the lawyers acting for the Bendigo Council and those acting for the Australian Islamic Mission incorporated.

They played the discrimination card citing violations of the Human Rights Charter if the Australian Islamic Mission incorporated was denied their massive mosque in a quiet Bendigo residential area.

What they didn’t realize was that Robert Balzola is an expert on the Human Rights Charter, in particular, the Geneva Convention Human Rights Charter to which Australia is a signatory.

He pointed out that neither the City of Greater Bendigo nor the Australian Islamic Mission incorporated are covered under any Human Rights Charter because they are both corporations and not a ‘natural person’.

He told VCAT that the only person in this entire VCAT matter that was covered by the Human Rights Charter was Ms Julie Hoskin.

Robert Balzola then went on to list a raft of Human Rights violations that the City of Greater Bendigo and the Australian Islamic Mission incorporated had committed against us.

This puts a whole new slant on the conduct of the Bendigo Council toward the residents of Bendigo and potential grounds for appeal to the Human Rights Commission to bring them to account for their abuse.

Furthermore, numerous other violations and breaches of the law were raised as well as the monumentally flawed and unacceptable documents contained in the planning file for the mosque.

The performance and conduct of the council and the councilors was raised as well as the pecuniary interests of a number of current councilors in direct connection to the mosque development.

It was raised that these same councilors did not refrain from voting as they are meant to do when the mosque permit was presented for approval at the public council meeting on the 18th June 2014.

Again, do not believe anything that is presented in the media.


Your allegiance is to Australia. What don’t you get?

Miranda Devine

IT is not the fault of the Muslim children who walked out of a school assembly when the Australian national anthem was played.

It is entirely the fault of the misguided principal who offered the primary students the opportunity to walk out and who encouraged them to reject this quintessential expression of Australian identity, in the name of “diversity”.

This is not a “storm in a teacup” as one Muslim leader put it. Nor is it a test of this country’s “understanding of difference or tolerance”.

Singing Advance Australia Fair and raising the Australian flag are purely secular expressions of allegiance to this country. They do not conflict with religious expression.

To spurn this deeply symbolic public display of patriotism is a statement of disrespect and disloyalty, which implies a rejection of Australian values.

You would expect an Australian public school principal to understand this.

But, the principal of Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School, Cheryl Irving, claimed that her offer to the Years 2-6 students last week to boycott the national anthem was made out of “respect” for a Shiite Muslim religious observance.

Between October 13 and November 12, some Muslims observe the month of Muharram, to mourn the death of a grandson of Muhammad. The aim is to avoid “joyful events”.

Fair enough. But the national anthem doesn’t have to be a joyful event, unless it’s sung after the Wallabies beat the All Blacks at Twickenham.

And if 30 or 40 Muslim students did not want to sing, they could have stood to attention respectfully as the anthem was being played.

In any case, senior Shiites such as Musa Naqvi, president of the oldest Shi’a Muslim group in Victoria, the Panjtan Society, have said there was no religious necessity to avoid the anthem.

Where does it stop, this endless demand for special treatment by groups who hold themselves exempt from Australian culture and tradition.

This is the poison of Leftist multiculturalism taken to an extreme where it threatens to divide the country.

The excuse from the Victorian Department of Education is the school supports “diversity” because many students were born overseas and more than half don’t speak English at home.

Well, that’s the story of Australia. We have become one of the world’s most harmonious immigrant nations because we have absorbed people of different races, cultures and creeds who have come here to become Aussies. We have benefited from the “hybrid vigour” that immigration brings and the Australian identity has adapted and been enriched.

We are a secular nation. But the values that made Australia a free, prosperous, fair democracy, that migrants strive to join, come from the Judaeo-Christian foundations which underpin Western civilisation. This is the origin of our democracy, rule of law, equality of every human being, and freedom of speech, conscience and religion.

The alternative value system you will find in Saudi Arabia, where women are stoned to death for adultery.

It is precisely because Cranbourne is so linguistically and culturally diverse that the national anthem and the flag are so important.  If public schools don’t assert Australian values, it is certain that someone else’s values will prevail.

But you just have to look at the new national school curriculum, instituted ironically enough, under a supposedly conservative Abbott government, to see how the Left’s long march through the institutions continues unabated.

In the Years 7-10 curriculum, Christianity makes just two appearances, (compared to “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander” appearing 14 times).

Even then it’s not in any meaningful way. In year 8 the curriculum for Civics and Citizenship, for instance, will teach just: “The values and beliefs of religions practised in contemporary Australia, including the Christian traditions of Australian society”.

In the History syllabus in years 7-10 you get one mention: “the transformation of the Roman world and the spread of Christianity and Islam”, along with a reference to the Crusades and the “dominance of the Catholic Church” in Medieval Europe, which is sure to be flattering to Christianity — not.

There seems to be a worrying cultural and spiritual vacuum in our public schools, in which cultural relativism rules.

As Kim Beazley, our ambassador to the United States, points out, Australia has a much worse problem of young jihadis running off to join terrorist armies than America does.

He suggests that Australia’s brand of multiculturalism fosters the development of multiple identities which counter a strong national identity. And he has described the values in our education system as “good but amorphous”.

Conversely, in America, “you are an American first … you don’t have other ideas,” he said in a recent interview.

In almost every US state, children stand with a hand over their heart every morning and cite the pledge of allegiance as the flag is raised, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Rather than bending over backwards to make exemptions for those who want to opt out of unifying national rituals, we should do the opposite and emulate this daily pledge of allegiance to Australia in every school.

Otherwise, into a vacuum, something sinister will likely rush.


Online Lefties slam Abbott's speech about dubious "refugees"

FORMER prime minister Tony Abbott has been accused of “embarrassing Australia” at prestigious gathering in London, where he urged European nations to turn back refugees fleeing the war torn Middle East.

Delivering the Margaret Thatcher lecture in London on Tuesday night, Mr Abbott warned of the “catastrophic error” Europe was making in its readiness to take in refugees from war-torn countries, offering his government’s tough boat-stopping strategy as an experience that “should be studied”.

Though the conservative crowd cheered the deposed leader, Abbott’s online audience hasn’t been so kind.

Greens Senator and asylum seeker advocate Sarah Hansen-Young was one of the first to distance herself from our former PM advocating anti-immigration message abroad.  “Tony Abbott still making a fool of himself and embarrassing Australia,” she wrote on Twitter. “His obsession with pushing people in need away is beyond belief.”

And she wasn't the only one critical of Abbott’s harsh words.

Abbott’s repetition of his government’s achievements like stopping the boats and repealing the carbon tax — phrases Australians have grown tired of hearing him rattle off — were also targeted on social media.

Mr Abbott’s uncharacteristic departure from his Christian values — namely, his criticism of other Western countries’ “love thy neighbour” approach to welcoming asylum seekers — has also angered Catholic priests.

A former Bishop told Fairfax he was astounded and appalled by Abbott’s use of Bible passages to preach such a “hard-hearted” approach to refugees.  “I’m ashamed that a former Australian PM would be putting out a message like this,” retired Bishop Pat Power said.

“People will make their own judgments but that’s completely at odds with what’s at the heart of Christianity. I’m certainly offended.”

In the interest of balance, searched for, but struggled to find, praise of Mr Abbott’s speech in social media comments.

There was one positive comment from Melbourne-based Briton Antonia Mocham: “Only good thing about the Abbott speech is that no-one in Europe seems to have noticed it happened.”


Freedom of speech and rigorous debate no longer accepted in practice at Australian universities

OUR universities do not sit in some sort of moral or ethical vacuum and so changes at these institutions have ripple effects into broader society. One only needs to look at the sexual revolution or the anti-Vietnam War movement to see the influence that universities have over the wider world.

This is why change away from an acceptance of freedom of speech at our universities is so concerning.

My experience as a student magazine editor for the past year has shown me that freedom of speech no longer has de facto acceptance on campus. Universities are no longer a place of inquiry or rigorous debate. Academic censorship is rife.

Take Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish environmentalist who sought to establish a research centre at the University of Western Australia and Flinders University. At both institutions he has faced resistance form students who staged protests and leveraged their student bodies to prevent such a centre from being established.

Their rationale? They do not agree with his findings and they’re not prepared to engage in debate.

Lomborg’s situation is strikingly similar to that of Galileo when he posited that Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice-versa. The church was not willing to hear out the argument and simply cast Galileo out.

If anything exemplifies the dangers of academic censorship it is the case of Galileo. How do we expect our society to advance when new ideas cannot be discussed because of an unwillingness by some precious, self-centred students?

These same students also want to limit free expression by mandating the use of “trigger warnings”, as well as censoring books they find uncomfortable or challenging. A “trigger warning” is a device that has emerged in the past two decades that seeks to warn a reader where a post traumatic reaction may be induced based on the content.

This has gone from warning of a discussion about rape to now including things such as ‘‘how many calories are in a food item’’ and “drunk driving’’. The discussion of these things doesn’t actually harm anyone, it’s just that students now demand to live in a cotton-wrapped world.

Great works such as The Great Gatsby, Metamorphoses and Mrs Dalloway have been banned from university reading lists simply because some self-absorbed students find the content emotionally challenging and upsetting.

Seemingly anything that infringes on a student’s apparent “right” to feel comfortable is cast out and banned from campus (including Mexican themed parties).

Further, the attitudes of the ever-increasing number of “social justice warriors” towards those who they disagree with is creating an environment that is not conducive to the exercise of speech, of free thought, and of debate.

You risk being labelled “fascist scum” if you happen to be of conservative ilk or simply opposed to communism or radical feminism. If you seek to express a view that doesn’t conform to that espoused by the revolutionary socialist groups on campus, then you are “racist”.

Don’t support gay marriage? You’re “homophobic”. Not a fan of unisex toilets? “Transphobic”. Radical, self-obsessed students have initiated this massive smear campaign against any opponents and in doing so they have significantly shifted the threshold, at least on campus, of these terms.

Naturally, people don’t like to be labelled as “racist” or “homophobic” and so the liberal use of these terms by these radicals is only shutting down speech and debate.

I simply ask: How would Galileo get on in today’s university?

My bet is that he would be driven out by an angry horde, upset that a “cis gendered”, heterosexual white male had dared to challenge the view of an oppressed, incredulous minority without even so much as including a trigger warning.

Who cares about deregulation? The real issue at our universities is the erosion of freedom of speech.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A dark hour for Zeg‏

As regular readers here know, I a great fan of conservative Australian cartoonist  ZEG.  I like his drawing and I like his thinking.  Below is an email he has sent to people he knows.  Despite his illness he has still managed to draw a cartoon to go with it.  I certainly would be grieved to lose him, his talent and his grateful heart -- JR

Please forgive me if I may have already told you the following news. You see the anti seizure drugs that I have been on for the last 5 months, plus almost daily absence seizures, have created for me a short term memory that lasts me about 7 days. It is likely that in a few days I will probably not remember sending this email to you. I guess too that my memory of this email will determine the true success of the Procedure that I am about to undertake.

I have serious medical emergency at present. I have an Aneurysm and AVM (Arteriovenous malformation) deep within my brain and it is so deep that it is almost inoperable.  I can expect a very risky 8 hour operation to take place this Thursday at The Royal North Shore Hospital, thus I won't be able to communicate with you after that time,  let alone draw anything for probably a month. That's only assuming firstly that I survive the procedure and or if I'm still have the physical/mental ability to do so.

 My surgeon has not beat around the bush on this issue with me and neither shall I with you. The list of permanent damage as a result of the surgery is quite long. Everything from paralysis to blindness, from cognitive recognition disorder to personality disorder and several other dysfunctions. The alternative to doing nothing is pretty obvious thus I have not reluctantly agreed to the operation.

 Obviously it's a frightening time personally and for my family BUT confidence is still very high due to the incredible skill of my neurosurgeon. I am correctly informed that Dr Assaad is the best in the country when dealing with this type of surgery. Plus my strong will to survive and finish the work I must yet do here, so please don't write me off as I am certainly not planning on going anywhere yet!

 When I am back online so to speak, this 48 year old father of three of the most wonderful children a man could ever hope for, Danica, Marko & Georgia,  intends to continue a purposeful life of being a good Father and partner to my Bridget, as well my goal of being an editorial cartoonist full-time. To continued the fight for freedom, justice, fairness and to preserve and make better our way of life for future generations.

My beautiful, loving fiance, Bridget Cornwell has full access to my email & Facebook account and your names in particular and she will be keeping you all up to date with any news, good or bad.

Now I know it sounds gloomy and maybe a little self indulgent too,  but really the risk here is not to be underestimated and that is why I have decided to let you all know about it whilst I still can. It's a blessing that I am now able to thank you all, friends and followers of my work alike, for your love, support, kindness, generosity, guidance and inspiration throughout the years. I wish I had the time to individually address this email to you each but please know that I have selected YOU from all of my friends with this personal note and I am sure that you know and remember the special connection that we have.  I consider everyone of you a Super Star in your own way and I am blessed & the better for having shared a connection with you in whatever way that has been. I value the great times and the sad times we have had, the great chats and interactions between you all.

I'll sign off for now and I truly hope to speak with you all again soon. If I cannot do that then please know this, I believe in the after life and I will always be around in some way. Please continue your fight for freedom and democracy. Always stand up and be heard and never be afraid of political correctness when it comes to stating your mind. Always challenge the Cultural Marxists and any Ethos or Ideology that would threaten your way of life and our wonderful Australia and its traditions. Preserve our unique culture and our language. Keep our borders strong.

Remember always that we inherited this great gift of freedom and democracy from the generations before us -- thus it is our responsibility, NAY,  our duty to ensure that the next and future generations inherit not only what we have now but an even better and more secure freedom. I don't need to remind you that we live in troubled times and that our enemies are within and without so please be vigilant and take care..

It would be remiss of me to not single out just a few of you but one particular man that I should be at the top of my list of people to thank for their support, encouragement, respect and love and that man has already crossed over. I bet you know who I am talking about.....The Late and always Great,STAN ZEMANEK.

Stanley Zemanek is responsible for the spark that lit the way forward for me and I just cannot see how I would be a Cartoonist today if not for him. If not for Stan, I would not have met most of you, such great friends and supporters as, Prof. John Ray, Keith Windschuttle, Roger Fletcher, Ron Manners, Gina Rinehart, John & Peter Brennan & Glenn Daniel, to name a few.

Stan also nurtured my passion for good Talk Back Radio, which in turn led me to such great friendships with the likes of Jason Morrison, Marcella Zemanek, Prue Macsween, Mark Kennedy, Mike Williams and Jim Ball.

I would also like to thank the support of those of the 4th Estate (Print Division) who actually bothered to not only attempt to help me but who actually replied to my emails in the first place. Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine, Piers Akerman, Rebecca Weisser and Andrew Bolt.

Believe it or not, there are some mighty fine Politicians out there also, who do give a stuff about freedom of speech and in no particular order, I would like to commend Cory Bernardi, Mathias Cormann, George Christensen and Dominic Perrottet. These gentlemen of Parliament, have all done a great deal of service to me by expanding my profile in the media & social media marketplace, in  what is basically a Leftist Stronghold.

 I can't close without mentioning the trustworthy, longterm and the constant supportive friendship of Steve "NOZ" Panozzo (my cartoonist brother in arms), as well as my constant great companions throughout my Security Career, Mark Paton and Tony Tsitsos. During my short time within the NSW Police Force, two men will always remain my best of friends, Paul Smith & Ken Burrows.

Please don't feel left out if I haven't mentioned your name. I just don't have enough time right now and in fact writing is a very tiresome task for me at present. I have been working on this letter for about 2 hours. Just know that if you received this email that you are one of the few that I have singled out in my mind as the most special of all of my good friends, due to your support, kindness & generosity to me and my family.

Please LOVE EACH OTHER because in the end that's all that we really have.

WHO "research" showing bacon and red meat cause cancer ‘a farce’, says Australia’s Agriculture Minister (Rightly)

Barnaby makes some reasonable comments but much more could be said.  This is an old scare and in my years as a health blogger I followed each research finding on the question as it came out. Every single study was flaky, mostly being the usual stupid epidemiological nonsense that flew in the face of the basic statistical dictum, "Correlation is not causation".  Even obvious confounds such as social class were not allowed for, and would mostly account for the findings.

And the report  below simply takes all that at face value.  Utter rubbish. 

To make it worse the study is a meta-analysis. And you can't critique those in detail unless you go back over every single thing they did.  And sometimes you need to.  I know of several meta-analyses which were blatantly crooked -- excluding from consideration findings that did not suit the authors' preconceptions, for instance.

And the WHO IS crooked.  It can be bought.  And some environmental organizations have a lot of money.  I will say no more on that.

Meta-analyses can have merit.  The Cochrane studies are a case in point.  But the Cochrane analyses systematically exclude all dubious findings -- often ending up with a very small number of studies being considered as having value.  The study below analysed over 800 studies, making it clear that Cochrane rigor was not applied to the input of the study.  The study can be summarized by an old computer dictum: "Garbage in; Garbage out"

BACON lovers all over the world are reeling from the news that too much processed meat can increase the risk of cancer.  But none will be more surprised by the appetite-killing research than the world’s oldest woman, who credits her longevity on a daily helping of bacon.

116-year-old American Susannah Mushatt Jones, the official Guiness World Record holder, even had bacon on her 116th birthday cake, along with chicken drumsticks — her other favourite food.

The healthy centenarian is a living contradiction to an evaluation of more than 800 studies from several continents linking meat and cancer, that saw the WHO classify processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” — in the same category as cigarettes — and red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Australia’s Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce, who is clearly Team Susannah when it comes to meat consumption, has labelled the link “a farce”.

The outspoken Nationals MP told ABC radio the report was being blown out of proportion.  “I don’t think we should get too exited that if you have a sausage you’re going to die of bowel cancer. You’re not,” he said.  “What obviously is part of this is that you should have a balanced diet.”

Mr Joyce knocked back claims that some Australians were consuming a dangerous quantity of processed or red meat.  “A lot of people don’t have bacon every day. If you got everything the WHO says is carcinogenic and took it out of your diet, well you're heading back to a cave,” he said.

“If you were going to avoid everything that has any correlation with cancer then don’t walk outside, don’t walk the streets in Sydney. There’s going to be very little in life that you actually do in the end.”

The agricultural minister also argued encouragement of a vegetarian only diet would “completely change” the agriculture industry.

Meat industry groups have also protested the classification, arguing that cancer is not caused by specific foods but by several factors, Associated Press reports.

The WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer findings stated just 50 grams a day — the equivalent of around one sausage or two slices of ham — can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.

Health experts have also weighed in, warning meat eaters not to go overboard heeding warnings.

“This decision doesn’t mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat,” said Tim Key, an epidemiologist at Cancer Research UK.  “But if you eat lots of it, you may want to think about cutting down.

“You could try having fish for your dinner rather than sausages, or choosing to have a bean salad for lunch over a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich).” Nutritionist Elizabeth Lund from Norfolk in England said obesity and lack of exercise were a far bigger cancer risks.

“Overall, I feel that eating meat once a day combined with plenty of fruit, vegetable and cereal fibre plus exercise and weight control, will allow for a low risk of CRC,” she said, referring to colorectal cancer.

“It should also be noted that some studies have shown that if meat is consumed with vegetables or a high-fibre diet, the risk of CRC is reduced.”


Defeats loom for Qld. ALP

WE are getting down to the wire now. The minority Palaszczuk Government is teetering on the brink.

It faces an embarrassing defeat on the floor of the Parliament over two key election pledges — the end of sandmining on North Stradbroke Island and the proposed 1am lockout for pubs and clubs.

Disgraced Member for Cook Billy Gordon is planning to join the Katters and the LNP in a plot to defeat Labor on both issues.

Cairns-based Gordon believes the proposed lockout does not suit pubs and clubs in far north Queensland. Tourism chiefs in coastal towns and cities agree.

I have some sympathy for Labor’s lockout plans which aimed to combat alcohol-fuelled violence. Teenagers need to be protected from their own excesses.

A defeat on lockouts would be an especially galling for maxillofacial surgeon Anthony Lynham who successfully stood for Parliament for the Labor Party on a platform of curbing drunken violence.

A defeat of lockout laws would undoubtedly leave him feeling betrayed, and perhaps wondering whether Parliamentary duty is worth it.

Defeats in the House will also signal a crumbling of Palaszczuk’s authority.

Palaszczuk is now walking the tightrope.

Under attack for having no plan to fix severe traffic jams and criticised for the chronic bed shortages at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, the ALP is struggling to keep its head above water.

There are no guarantees this Labor Government will survive.


Labor’s job is tougher now Turnbull is PM, Jason Clare admits

Labor frontbencher Jason Clare has conceded the switch from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull made the opposition’s job “harder”, as he insisted the Prime Minister was better than his predecessor because he “speaks in full sentences” and “doesn’t eat raw onions”.

Amid calls for a new bipartisan approach to policies and after the China free trade deal finally passed parliament this week, Mr Clare said the public wanted to strip out some of the so-called “Abbottisation” of Australian politics.

“The switch from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull makes our job harder, no doubt about it, we are the underdog,” Mr Clare said on Sky News’s Australian Agenda program.

“No federal party has lost a federal election from government and returned to government in one term in 85 years.

“But I suspect that because Malcolm Turnbull is different to Tony Abbott, better than Tony Abbott in many respects — he speaks in full sentences, doesn’t eat raw onions — he is going to make us a better opposition and in turn will make us a better government.”

Mr Clare, who is the opposition’s communications spokesman, said he wasn’t concerned by Bill Shorten’s low popularity levels despite the latest Newspoll showing the Opposition Leader is on 19 per cent as preferred prime minister compared to Mr Turnbull’s 57 per cent.

“You often see the best of people in government; it’s when they’re in positions of power that you see what people are really worth. “Tony Abbott’s a good example of that. He was a very effective opposition leader, he was a less than impressive prime minister.”

Mr Clare said both Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten should be “rewarded” for working together on the China FTA and suggested the opposition and government collaborate on changes to superannuation tax concessions next.

“If the parties retreat into their corners then both will be punished for it,” Mr Clare said.

“What we’re seeing here is a prime minister in Malcolm Turnbull who is popular by virtue of the fact that he has replaced somebody that was incredibly unpopular. He’s been rewarded for removing a very unpopular prime minister. And a bit like a sort of a reality TV star, a Kim Kardashian or a Paris Hilton, he’s popular for doing nothing, nothing yet.”


Newspoll: True measure of Labor’s fall as Coalition surges on PM’s gains

Malcolm Turnbull’s massive lead as the preferred PM grew further, while Bill Shorten fell to his worst result of 17 per cent

Bill Shorten’s standing with voters has tumbled to his lowest level as Malcolm Turnbull’s support hits new highs and the Coalition enjoys its strongest lead in two-party terms in almost two years.

The latest Newspoll, taken exclusively for The Australian, reveals the Coalition leads Labor by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in two-party terms, having regained its lead after the parties were deadlocked at 50-50 a fortnight ago.

Mr Turnbull’s massive lead as the preferred prime minister grew further, with his support leaping to 63 per cent while Mr Shorten fell to his worst result of 17 per cent.

The Coalition’s primary vote rose two points to 45 per cent over the past fortnight to be at its highest since November 2013 and almost back at the 45.6 per cent achieved in its 2013 election victory. It is up six points since Mr Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister last month.

Labor’s primary vote is 10 points lower than the government at 35 per cent. After falling four points, it has been steady at this level for the three Newspolls since Mr Turnbull won the leadership, despite an Ipsos/Fairfax poll last week saying it had fallen to a historic low of 30 per cent.

Newspoll shows weaker support for the Greens, which fell one point to 11 per cent, while other minor parties and independents also fell one point to 9 per cent.

Despite Labor’s personal ­attacks on the Prime Minister ­investing his fortune in the Cayman Islands, the Coalition and Mr Turnbull have emerged with a surge in support after the first fortnight of parliament with the new ministry in place.

The poll of 1606 voters shows Mr Turnbull’s support as better prime minister jumped six points to a six-year high of 63 per cent and is 26 points higher than Mr Abbott’s final result.

Mr Shorten’s 17 per cent is down two points in the past fortnight and he has suffered a 24-point plunge since the change of Liberal leader.

It is the lowest result for any opposition leader since Mr Turnbull posted support of 14 per cent in November 2009 in the days before he was replaced by Mr Abbott.

Newspoll also reveals a 67-point gap has opened between the net satisfaction ratings for the leaders, with Mr Turnbull enjoying a rare positive score of 35 points while Mr Shorten’s ranking has slumped to minus 32 points.

Satisfaction with Mr Turnbull’s performance as Prime Minister rose eight points to 58 per cent while dissatisfaction with his ­performance fell two points to 23 per cent.

Both figures are the best for any prime minister since 2009.

Mr Turnbull’s net satisfaction rating (the difference between those who are satisfied and those who are dissatisfied with his performance) improved from 25 to 35 points and is the best figure for a leader since October 2009. Satisfaction with Mr Shorten’s performance as Opposition Leader fell two points to his record low of 26 per cent as his dissatisfaction level climbed five points to 58 per cent. His net satisfaction rating deteriorated from minus 25 to minus 32 points.

During the past fortnight, Labor and the Coalition struck a deal to pass the China-Australia free-trade agreement before the end of the year after months of arguing about labour market protections.

The government’s major policy announcement since the last poll was the release of its response to the financial system inquiry by David Murray, where it vowed to give people more choice about their superannuation arrangements and cut credit card surcharges.

Labor’s political strategy to combat Mr Turnbull’s political honeymoon was a concerted attack that his money was invested in the Cayman Islands to paint the Turnbull-led Liberals as weaker than Labor on corporate tax avoidance.

Labor frontbencher and former silk Mark Dreyfus asked questions to Mr Turnbull using the phrases “notorious tax haven” and “profit shifting and tax evasion” and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said the Prime Minister’s investments were beyond the hopes of “ordinary people” and he was “extraordinarily out of touch”.

The opposition dropped the attacks after facing criticism, but ALP strategists insisted it had worked as a long-term strategy.

Mr Turnbull told parliament he had worked hard and had a lot of luck but he fully paid tax in Australia and had used offshore arrangements to avoid conflicts of interest. “If the honourable member wants to go around wearing a sandwich board saying ‘Malcolm Turnbull’s got a lot of money’, feel free — I think people know that,” he said.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Public hospital chaos in Queensland

The building of this hospital was essentially a Qld. Labor party stunt to divert attention from failings elsewhere in the system. There was nothing wrong with the existing hospitals that a few upgrades could not fix.  It was known from the beginning that Cilento would would be problematical as it had fewer beds than the hospitals it replaced

Problems at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital have sparked an urgent meeting between doctors and the Queensland government as the health minister hints at a funding boost.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Chris Zappala said the government needed to listen to doctors calling for more beds and administration fixes at the under-fire hospital.

"We need to accept that they're going to need more space, a little bit more money and definitely more time, to get things working properly," he said.  "If we listen to the clinicians and don't try to cover up the problems, the potential solutions will become obvious."

Dr Zappala called for more beds, especially in the intensive care unit, better booking and administrative processes and a fix to the food and parking situation at the $1.5 billion facility.

"I think everyone accepts there's a problem," he said. "It's accepting as to what the nature of the problems are and where effort needs to be best expended to solve things."

Heading into a Cabinet meeting on Monday morning, News Corp reported Health Minister Cameron Dick said he had been concerned about the hospital for some time.

"At my direction, the Department of Health has been working with the hospital on securing a proper funding base for the hospital for the future," he said.  "And I hope to say a little bit more about that in the near future."

A review into the hospital released in August found its opening should have been delayed six weeks to ensure it was ready.

Further problems emerged following the review with reported complaints of infant deaths and delayed surgeries.

Senior paediatrician Kate Sinclair spoke in September of admin staff being forced to work in the kitchen or being sent home because there was no space.


Muslim children walk out when national anthem is sung

And the Leftist State government supports that

A VICTORIAN primary school has been criticised for allowing Muslim children to walk out of assembly while the national anthem was sung.

Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School says a religious month of mourning is the reason Islamic children are able to opt out of singing or listening to the anthem.

Lorraine McCurdy, who has two grandchildren at the school, told 3AW she was furious when school officials invited students to leave during Advance Australia Fair. “Two children got up and said `welcome to our assembly’ with that a teacher came forward and said all those who feel it’s against their culture may leave the room,” Ms McCurdy said. “With that about 30 or 40 children got up and left the room.  “We sang the national anthem and they all came back in.

“I saw red, I’m Australian and I felt ‘you don’t walk out on my national anthem, that’s showing respect to my country.”

Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie also hit out at the school, which promotes the ethos of ‘Many Cultures, One Community.’

“I find that absolutely devastating, we should all be singing the Australian national anthem and we should be doing that with pride,” Senator Lambie said. “That’s part of us.

“I find these schools that are allowing this to happen disgusting.  “I don’t think religion needs to be brought into the national anthem. “We should all be proud to be Australians and proud to sing the national anthem”

Principal Cheryl Irving said during the month of Muharram Shi’a Muslims do not take part in joyous events, such as listening to music or singing, as it was a period of mourning.

“Muharram is a Shi’a cultural observation marking the death of Imam Hussein,” Ms Irving said. “This year it falls between Tuesday October 13 and Thursday November 12.

“Prior to last week’s Years 2-6 assembly, in respect of this religious observance, students were given the opportunity to leave the hall before music was played. “The students then rejoined the assembly at the conclusion of the music.”

Kuranda Seyit, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said he understood the school’s sentiments but called on more flexibility.

“I’m a Sunni Muslim myself but I understand Shi’a sensitivities and for them this is a very holy time,” Mr Seyit said. “It’s a time when they are encouraged to reflect on the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and abstain from all forms of celebrations.

“However for young children I think things like these should be assessed on their merits and a balance found.

“People need to remember that these Muslim children are not against the Australian national anthem but are not allowed to be deemed to be celebrating. “Maybe there could be a bit more flexibility.”

In a statement, the Department of Education said it supported the school. “The Department supports our schools to be inclusive for all students, this includes understanding or respecting religious cultural observances.

“From 2016, the new Victorian curriculum will include new subjects such as respectful relationships, world views and ethical understanding, helping to build more inclusive schools and communities.”


Climate change is more important than union corruption?

The ALP thinks so -- in a desperate attempt to help their crooked friends

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has accused Malcolm Turnbull of playing “wedge” politics over industrial relations reform and declared climate change, not union corruption, should be top of a new bipartisan agenda.

It comes after Bill Shorten yesterday hit back at the Prime Minister’s ultimatum that Labor pass laws to curb union ­corruption and power or face an election campaign waged on industrial relations, lashing out at Mr Turnbull for reheating “Tony Abbott’s union-bashing’’ exercise.

Mr Turnbull wants Labor to negotiate on industrial relations laws stalled in the Senate - the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, to monitor and promote standards of conduct in the building industry, and the Registered Organisations Bill to impose transparency on union officials.

But Mr Albanese also rejected Mr Turnbull’s pledge to put IR at the forefront of the next election unless Labor “comes to its senses”.

“That’s just a wedge in terms of the union movement,” Mr Albanese said on ABC radio.

“When we’ll take Malcolm Turnbull more seriously and what he should do, because he does believe in action on climate change, he is serious about that issue and he should be prepared to sit down with the Labor Party and talk about real action on climate change.

“Not the sort of action that (former employment minister) Eric Abetz and the sceptics approve of but doing something real in the interest of … I mean that’s the ultimate intergenerational issue.”

Mr Albanese, who is the opposition’s infrastructure and transport spokesman, said the government wanted the media to be talking about union corruption and the CFMEU rather than the “more important” issue of climate change.

“If Malcolm Turnbull is at all serious about long-term working in a bipartisan way, then that (climate change) has to be at the top of the agenda,” he said.

“The other issues that have worked quite well - and to give Tony Abbott credit he certainly tried to work with the opposition about – is reconciliation and advancing the recognition of the First Australians.”

The Opposition Leader, his deputy Tanya Plibersek and immigration spokesman Richard Marles will head to the Pacific islands for four days this week in a bid to put climate change back on the political agenda.

Opposition communications spokesman Jason Clare yesterday nominated changes to superannuation tax concessions as the next policy area the government and Labor work on together.


Labor party's booze restrictions could hit Qld tourism

Particularly in an international destination like Cairns

Embattled MP Billy Gordon says the Labor government's proposed lockout laws could have "relevance" for the south-east but are wrong for far north Queensland.

Mr Gordon and Katter's Australian Party MPs Rob Katter and Shane Knuth will reportedly block Labor's plans to reduce alcohol-related violence with 1am lockouts, 3am closing times and no shots after midnight.

The Member for Cook told the ABC he was open to compromise but after speaking to police, community services and nightclub owners he didn't think the legislation was right for the state's far north, particularly Cairns.

"Now I don't see why we need to start restricting or putting in place legislation that may have, I think,  dire economic consequences," he said.

"But in saying that, it's a legislation that I think may have some relevance down here in the south-east corner of the state but right now I just can't see how this particular piece of legislation benefits far north Queensland."

Mr Gordon has been under intense pressure over a sexting scandal, which erupted just weeks after a police investigation into domestic violence allegations ended with no charges.

He'd previously quit the Labor party after failing to disclose his criminal history to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The opposition has criticised the government for courting Mr Gordon's vote to get its proposed legislation across the line.

"It is a troubling thought that the Member for Cook has been put in a position by the Labor party, to have the ultimate say on laws that are passed in Queensland," Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek told News Corp.

Mr Gordon said there was an opportunity to compromise with the government over the laws, which he said didn't have a lot of evidence to support them working in the far north.

"I'm very open minded if the government want to come back and say look, perhaps we need to go back to the drawing board here to get this right, or get the balance right," he said.

"And I think there can be a coexistence between a government taking a really strong stand on anti-social, violent behaviour, when it comes to nightlife but it also has to be balanced with some practical approach that makes sure we don't cut up our nose to spite our face."

Minister for Communities Shannon Fentiman told reporters her government would continue to work with the crossbench over the issue.


Monday, October 26, 2015

The war on sugar -- another example of how governments are incompetent, careless and can't be trusted

For decades, officialdom condemned fat and salt in our diets.  As contrary evidence piled up however, they have had to walk that back and the usual advice in 2015 is that LOW consumption of fat and salt is most likely to be harmful. 

But control freaks have to have something to prove their wisdom by, apparently, so in the last year or two sugar has been made the big demon.  It's utter nonsense, of course.  These days sugar is in almost everything -- including fruit straight off the tree -- and we have all been consuming piles of it for decades. So are people dying like flies?  Far from it.  Lifespans have continued their upward rise.  

And what about the effect on our waistlines?  There is no way increased weight can be clearly tied to sugar consumption.  To claim cause and effect is pure speculation.  There have been all sorts of lifestyle changes in recent years and the sheer cheapness of food these days is actually the most likely culprit for "obesity".  Within living memory it was a real worry for parents to put enough food on the table for their families, but big advances in agricultural practice, distribution (big supermarkets) and international trade have steadily brought real food prices down to the point where no-one in the developed world need go hungry. These days Oliver Twist can always have "More" if he wants it. And many people now DO want it.

After the about-face on fat and salt, I think that alone should make us cynical but there is also no good research backing up this latest fad.  There is research but it is all flaky. I spent many years as a health blogger so I know what the evidence against sugar is:  It is all either in vivo (rodent studies) or epidemiological.  But rodent studies generalize poorly to humans and you CANNOT infer cause from epidemiological studies. If you want to know what rubbish is spouted in the name of epidemiology, grab John Brignell's little book: The Epidemiologists: Have They Got Scares for You!
IT’S becoming a public enemy up there with the likes of fat, salt and smoking.

Now a much-anticipated report has put sugar barons on notice, recommending a 10-20 per cent “sugar tax” on soft drinks and moves to limit the marketing and promotion of sugary foods to children.

Public Health England’s document has been more than a year in the making and has slammed the food-friendly environment that has left the UK bulging at the seams.

“The whole food environment and culture has changed slowly over the last 30 to 40 years. There are now more places to buy and eat food which is, in real terms, cheaper, more convenient, served in bigger portion sizes and subject to more marketing and promotions than ever before,” it said, adding that the continually expanding swath of restaurants, cafes and fast-food means simple labelling laws aren’t enough.

The public health body is calling for a 10-20 per cent tax on sugary drinks which are the main single source of sugar for school-aged children. It also wants to see a crackdown on marketing and promotions that target children directly, better labelling an overhaul of public facilities and messages like the “five a day” campaign to ensure they are cutting through.

“It is likely that price increases on specific high sugar products like sugar sweetened drinks, such as through fiscal measures like a tax or levy, if set high enough, would reduce purchasing at least in the short term,” the report said.

Sugar is becoming in the latest battleground in the fight against global obesity following on from fat and salt. It’s estimated to make up 12-15 per cent of UK diets, much of which is disguised in sauces, mayonnaise, cereals or alcohol. The public health body wants it cut back to less than five per cent in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines, to prevent a host of health problems from obesity to diabetes and dental decay which cost billions a year in healthcare.

But despite the high-profile support, the recommendations are unlikely to come into effect. A spokesman for UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would not support the idea. The British Soft Drinks Association director general Gavin Partington said they “recognise industry has a role to play in tackling obesity” but don’t believe it has had a significant impact.

In Australia, a recent survey found more than 80 per cent of people are in favour of a tax on sugary drinks which could earn the government $250 million a year to fight obesity. At present, almost two in three Australian adults are obese or overweight, with 10 per cent more obese people than 20 years ago, according to government statistics.

Nutritionist Susie Burrell said she would “absolutely” love to see a “junk tax” introduced in Australia that goes beyond sugar to cover fast food, confectionary and soft drinks.

“Isolating sugar is failing to look at the complexity of nutrition and the way people eat. Portion size and fried foods are just as big an issue as sugar is,” she told “Any scheme that would generate revenue to be used in the treatment of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease would be welcomed.”

“As sugar based drinks are closely related to weight gain and a number of disease risk factors it makes sense to tax these foods as a way to help pay for the enormous health costs associated with overweight and obesity in Australia.”

The department of health and Coca-Cola have failed to respond to requests for comment.


Is the Australian Liberty Alliance the next "One Nation"?

THE launch of an anti-Islam party in Australia has raised concerns about whether multiculturalism actually works.

Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders launched the Australian Liberty Alliance in Perth this week, promising to stop the Islamisation of Australia, as extremist groups like Islamic State stoke fears of terrorism and distrust within the community.

It’s not a unique development with Mr Wilders noting that “like-minded parties” were enjoying great success in Austria, Sweden, France and Switzerland.

Even in Germany, where many were recently pictured welcoming an influx of refugees from places like Syria and Iraq, there were fears of a far right resurgence in response.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has seen her approval rating drop to its lowest level since 2011 and there have been attacks on places housing refugees. A recent anti-immigration rally in the country attracted up to 20,000 people.

Earlier this year a headline in Germany’s weekly newspaper Der  Spiegel asked the question: “Is the ugly German back?”

Australians could be asking the same question of themselves as anti-Islamic sentiment sees the re-emergence of divisive figures like Pauline Hanson. A recent Facebook post from the One Nation leader opposing “mosques, Sharia law, halal certification and Muslim refugees” was shared more than 25,000 times in just two days.

But despite the apparent growing public backlash, experts believe organisations like ALA will continue to appeal to just a small number of people, and that multiculturalism still enjoys wide support, especially in Australia.

“There will always be a segment of the community that is not happy with change,” Professor Andrew Markus told

“We shouldn’t be surprised that there is a group in Australia opposed to cultural diversity and immigration but what makes Australia different is that the size of that minority is very small.”

Prof Markus of Monash University has been tracking changes in Australian attitudes towards immigrants and asylum seekers since 2007 as part of the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion Project. He said the last two surveys showed strong support for multiculturalism.

When asked whether multiculturalism was good for Australia, 84 per cent of Australians surveyed in 2013 agreed that it was, and 85 per cent agreed in 2014.

“It’s quite an amazing number and was consistent across Australia, it was hard to find anywhere in Australia, including those in rural areas, where support dropped much below 75 per cent,” Prof Markus said.

But the situation in Europe or even America was very different.

Prof Markus said a British study found 75 per cent its population wanted immigration reduced in 2014 but a comparable study in Australia found only 35 per cent believed immigration was too high.

Prof Markus said Australians saw multiculturalism as being good for the economy and for the integration of immigrants.  “I think people understand and accept it’s who we are,” he said, adding that 45 per cent of the population had at least one parent born overseas.

He said he would be surprised ALA got much traction within the community, and this could also be a sign of the times.

“This country has undergone very significant change over the course of a generation,” Prof Markus said.  “Young people today have grown up in a world very different to their parents,” and their attitude towards immigration or cultural diversity is likely to be “it’s life, this is it, get on with it”.

While this was not true for everybody, Prof Markus said the issues that were significant for their parents were not as prominent for their children.

Even though groups such as One Nation had managed to gain support in the 1990s, Prof Markus said that was 20 years ago and there had been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

“At its peak it got 22 per cent of the vote in the Queensland state election and since that time (leader) Pauline Hanson has struggled to get even one tenth of that,” he said.

UNSW Associate Professor Geoffrey Brahm Levey, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in Political Science, agrees that parties like the ALA only appeal to a small number of people, but he acknowledged that the group did reflect genuine concerns.

“There is a genuine problem within the Islamic and Muslim community with radicalisation ... and that naturally provokes anxiety among populations,” Prof Levey said.

“People are right to be concerned when they see members of the public act violently or unacceptably but the problem is a relatively small one.”

He said the overwhelming majority of the 300,000 plus Muslims in Australia had integrated into the community.


Some jokes are not allowed these days

I have myself joked about "poofter drinks" (mixed drinks) in my wicked past, so I know it was a joke

A MELBOURNE bar owner has “unreservedly apologised” after pub goers took offence at an apparently homophobic sign.

A menu board at Handsome Steve’s House of Refreshment, in Fitzroy, listed items such as “Lemonade of honour”, “Whine”, “Geelong premiership years” as well as “No poofter drinks”, reported the Herald Sun.

The bar’s Facebook page has been bombarded by angry comments after a group of customers complained about the sign hanging in the bar on Saturday night.

“Homophobia is alive and well in this business. Time for management to grow up,” wrote Nic Gwynne. “It's not edgy or cool to bring back being a homophobic bro. It's f**king boring. Try harder next time,” Taylor Di Pasquale added.

Owner Steve Miller said the sign had been up for seven years, was not meant to cause offence and people, including gay customers, found it hilarious.  “If I’ve given offence to anybody, I unconditionally apologise. I unreservedly apologise,” Mr Miller told the Herald Sun.

Convener of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Justin Koonin, told if it was a joke, it was in very poor taste.  “What seems funny to one person can be most hurtful to another. It is important to think about the impact language can have on those who are most vulnerable.”

Koonin said taking down the sign was the right thing to do.


Health fund covers 88-year-old man for baby but not hip replacement

ELDERLY men are being sold health insurance that covers them for having a baby but not a hip replacement as private hospitals warn health fund exclusions have reached crisis point.

Taxpayers spend $6 billion a year subsidising private health insurance but the number of people who find their fund doesn’t cover their surgery has tripled in the last few years.

Just days after the consumer watchdog, the ACCC, set up an inquiry to put health funds through the wringer, a News Corp investigation has found many people are finding their health funds desert them when they need help.

Among the issues uncovered:

* More than half of all health fund members now have policies that include one or more restrictions on treatments like joint replacement, cardiac surgery or other treatments.

* Insurers are changing the types of procedures covered by policies after they are taken out without properly informing members.

* Health funds are signing people up to products that are inappropriate for their needs.

* Health fund brokers like iselect and Compare the Market are driving up the cost of health insurance by charging commissions as high as $800.

* The private health insurance ombudsman received a total of 3427 complaints in 2013-14, a 16 per cent increase on complaints the previous year.

St Vincents Health Care which runs nine hospitals in NSW, QLD and Victoria says the problems have to be fixed to stop public hospitals being overloaded.

The hospital groups’ chief executive Toby Hall says his hospitals find a handful of people every day have to be turned away because their health fund does not cover the procedure they need.
Time to fix the problem ... St Vincents Health Care chief executive Toby Hall says his hospitals have to turn people away every day

Time to fix the problem ... St Vincents Health Care chief executive Toby Hall says his hospitals have to turn people away every daySource:Supplied

“The scale of this issue is triple what it was in the past,” Hall says.

“It has become a regular thing, a few people a day are coming in either not understanding their cover or having being sold cover that is inappropriate.”

And he’s laying some of the blame on health fund brokers like iSelect and Compare the Market which are paid commissions to sign people up to products that turn out to be inappropriate.

Fifty-one-year-old Daren Robinson was told by insurance broker iSelect he could save $10 a month if he switched from AHM basic cover to HCF basic cover.

Last week he discovered while his old health fund would have covered the shoulder surgery he has booked for Monday, it is not covered by his new fund and he faces a bill for $9,500.

“I thought basic was basic, I thought I was getting the same deal,” he says.

Matt Cumming from iSelect said it always conducted a thorough analysis of a customers needs when selling insurance and would investigate the case.

Mr Hall says a regulator needs to oversee health fund brokers, they need to be fined if they sign people up to inappropriate products and be evicted from the marketplace if it continues.

And he says health funds can’t continue to justify seven per cent annual premium rises if they continue to cut the procedures they pay for without informing their members.

Private Healthcare Australia chief Dr Michael Armitage says the problems caused by exclusions in health fund policies are a “direct result” of the previous Labor Government’s means test on private health insurance.

“It has led inevitably, as it was always going to, an increasing number of people under financial pressure taking out policies with exclusions or front end deductibles,” he said.

Some of the problems health fund members presenting to St Vincent’s have encountered include:

* An 88-year-old man had to be turned away from the hospital recently because his new health fund product covered him for having a baby but not a hip replacement or ophthalmology.

* A 43-year-old woman had to pay $3,300 for her sinus surgery after she found her health fund covered tonsils and adenoids but not sinus surgery.

* A 37-year-old found her private health insurance covered her for the procedure to identify her condition (a sigmoidoscope) but not the procedure to fix the problem (a fissurectomy). She paid out of her own pocket.

* A 32-year-old female requiring gynaecological procedure had to pay for her surgery because her fund classified it as obstetrics even though Medicare does not.

* Many women with breast cancer have found they are covered for a mastectomy, but not post-mastectomy cosmetic surgery.

Medibank chief George Saviddes has blamed health fund comparator websites for pushing up the price of health cover claiming they charged commissions worth as much as $800 per policy.

News Corp understands the commissions charged are around 30 per cent of the policy’s price.

Commissions paid to these websites are funded from the insurers’ advertising budgets, which reportedly rose $90m between 2007 and 2012, consumer group Choice reports.

Consumer group Choice reviewed comparison sites and says the businesses denied commissions are linked with their product recommendations, but warns “the potential for conflicts of interest is still pretty clear”.

Compare the market spokeswoman wouldn’t reveal the commissions her organisation charges but claims they are “only a low percentage” of the product price.

“The reason health funds participate is it’s a particularly cost effective was of acquiring new members, television advertising is really expensive,” she says.

Matt Cumming from iSelect agreed health cover affordability was becoming an issue but in the last year most of the 130,000 people his group helped were looking at health fund policy features.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Australian Greens panicking over nanoparticles in food

This is typical of the way Greenies seize on low probability events and magnify them.  There are some theoretical grounds for seeing nanoparticles as physically hazardous if breathed in but you don't breathe food in, you eat it. And the nano particles concerned are chemically the same as their equivalent larger particles so it is difficult to see different chemical effects from them

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand for many years claimed it was "not aware" and there was "little evidence" of manufactured nanoparticles in food because no company had applied for approval.

But in a Senate estimates hearing this week, FSANZ's chief executive Steve McCutcheon said it had known for years nanoparticles of approved food additives titanium dioxide and silica were in foods.

He said FSANZ commissioned a toxicology report a year ago, and is expecting to soon receive the results.

He said the regulator was talking about "new or novel" nanoparticles when it previously claimed it was not aware of its use in Australia's food stream.

"If [companies] start applying nanotechnology – including on approved food additives – and they start producing different effects, then they have an obligation under law to bring that forward to FSANZ for assessment," he said. "[Nano-titanium dioxide and nano-silica] are not novel compounds because they're [nanoparticles of] approved additives."

At the hearing, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert asked whether he was certain the two nanoparticles were not further manipulated to carry "new or novel" properties.

"We won't know until we've seen the (toxicology) report," he responded. "We can't guarantee anything, I mean, we're a food standards agency, we don't go testing, we haven't got those powers and so we rely on evidence gathered both here and around the world."

Fairfax Media exclusively reported last month that research commissioned by Friends of the Earth found potentially harmful nanoparticles in 14 popular products, including Mars' M&Ms, Woolworths white sauce and Praise salad dressing.

A human hair is about 100,000 nanometres wide. Nanoparticles are typically less than 100 nanometres. Nano-titanium dioxide boosts the whiteness in food and nano-silica is an anti-caking agent. Neither must be labelled on packaging as "nano".

Ms Siewert told Fairfax Media that FSANZ did not know whether the nanoparticles were being further modified to obtain "new or novel" properties, making them potentially unsafe to eat.

"The manufacturers are putting that in the product to have an effect. Otherwise, why bother? So FSANZ is finally saying, 'Oh, we should have a look at that... we should review those'," she said.

Under questioning, Mr McCutcheon said about 15 per cent of food-grade titanium dioxide and silica was made up of nanoparticles.

But 100 per cent of the silica in Nice 'N' Tasty Chicken Salt, Old El Paso Taco Mix, Moccona Cappuccino, Nestlé Coffee Mate Creamer, Maggi Roast Meat Gravy, and Woolworths Homebrand White Sauce were made up of nanoparticles, the Friends of the Earth research found.

"If we use their view that above 15 per cent nanoparticles is intentional, then only two out of 14 samples weren't intentionally using nanoparticles," said the group's emerging tech campaigner, Jeremy Tager.

"They also seem to be inferring that because titanium dioxide and silica have been approved as food additives, the nano forms are also safe. This directly contradicts the findings of regulators in Europe and FSANZ's sister agency the APVMA who have made it clear  the safety of nanomaterials can't be inferred from bulk particles of the same chemicals."

Mr Tager said if FSANZ had commissioned a toxicology report, the products should not be on the market until they are proven safe.

Leading risk expert Andrew Maynard, from Arizona State University, said there were a small number of studies indicating nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and fumed silica could be more active in the body than otherwise thought.

"This does not mean that there is a significant risk to consumers. It may be the safety assessment moves from extremely safe to very safe, but we won't know until a lot more research has been done. This research is important, as people are being exposed to these materials," he said.

FSANZ has previously told federal parliament it was not aware of nanomaterials being used in food. It said it had not conducted testing or surveyed food makers and importers to determine whether nanoparticles were in food.


Teen arrested along with terror suspect freed on bail 'because he faces bigger risk of being radicalised INSIDE jail

A teenager who admitted importing hundreds of weapons from China has been released on bail after a Victorian judge heard he was at risk of radicalisation in prison.

Mehmet Azami, 19, had previously been linked to an alleged Anzac Day terror plot targeting police, but prosecutors told the County Court of Victoria he had no knowledge of the alleged plan.

Federal police in April opposed an initial bail application by Azami on the grounds he posed an unacceptable risk to the community.

But on Thursday they said the greater risk was he would become radicalised in custody.

'The concern is he's at greater risk of radicalisation and declining mental health in custody,' Detective Acting Sergeant Adam Folley told a pre-sentence hearing.

Prosecutor Andrew Doyle said Azami had imported 332 weapons, but only came to the attention of a counter-terrorism task force because he was recorded having a phone conversation with Harun Causevic, 18.

Causevic, Azami and Sevdet Besim, 18, of Hallam, were arrested on April 18 in pre-dawn counter terrorism raids.

Besim is the only one who faces a terror charge after charges against Causevic were dropped.  Azami was never charged with terror offences.

'There's no evidence to indicate that the offender had any knowledge of the alleged intended actions of Mr Besim,' Mr Doyle said.

Lawyer Charlie Atlas, for Azami, told Judge Roy Punshon the teenager had no prior convictions and had 'fallen into' crime.

Mr Atlas said Azami had already served almost six months and called for a corrections or supervision order when the teenager is sentenced.  'He's effectively done his time on remand,' Mr Atlas said.  'He now deserves his chance at rehabilitation.'

Judge Punshon granted bail to Azami, who will return to court on December 15.

It comes amid recent reports ISIS-inspired extremists are preaching hate in some of Australia's toughest prisons.

According to The Daily Telegraph, at least 30 gang members residing in Goulburn jail in NSW, have engaged in warfare against 'infidel' that oppose their religious ideologies.

Home to Supermax, Goulburn jail houses some of Australia's most infamous and dangerous criminals.

Last month, a 'Lebanese' yard was reportedly made exclusively Muslim, with prison guards relocating all males who didn't identify as Islamic.

'Word on the street was most in that yard (had been radicalised) and they were going to take a hostage - one of the six Christians in the yard - and behead them,' a prison guard told The Daily Telegraph.


Labor racism won't play

Jeremy Sammut

At a forum earlier this year, a prominent Leftist economic commentator outlined his greatest fear that as the economy soured, politicians would shift the blame by reverting to the slogans and stereotypes of the White Australia era.

My response was that the notion of racism lurking latent in the nation's soul, ripe for electoral exploitation, did not match contemporary social and political reality. Diversity was not just a social phenomenon born of decades of non-discriminatory immigration policy.

More importantly, it was a family reality for millions of ordinary Australians who -- due to the high levels of intermarriage between different ethnic groups -- recoil from anti-immigrant sentiments promoting prejudice against family members.

I have been thinking about the commentator's statement after viewing the television ad produced by the Victorian Liberal Party criticizing the union opposition to the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

The ad depicts a typical Australian -- and typically ethnically diverse -- suburban family. As Fairfax reported earlier this month, it shows an "Australian man on the couch with his arm around his Chinese girlfriend" while watching "union attack ads on TV with the man's parents."

When the girlfriend says that she didn't think Australians were racist, she is reassured by the mother that this is correct, and the father blames the Labor politicians who haven't stopped "some unions" from running a dog-whistle anti-Chinese campaign. It ends with the slogan: "Free trade is good for Australian jobs".

I take great heart from this ad that the days of White Australia are long behind us.

A century ago, politicians from all sides of politics strongly endorsed anti-Chinese and Protectionist sentiments - because there were lots of votes to be won by backing a White Australia. But times, attitudes, and Australian society have changed. Today, recalcitrant unions are called out as racist for endorsing throwback ideas that are no longer in tune with mainstream values.

Fears that politicians will resort to playing the race card are indeed exaggerated -- as is illustrated this week by the Federal Labor Party's capitulation on the ChAFTA deal. The racism of earlier times will simply not play politically in contemporary Australia for the simple reason that this is genuinely offensive to millions of Australian voters.


Same-sex push not about raising adoptions

Peter Kurti

The push by Victoria's Andrews government to force Catholic adoptions agencies to comply with its proposed same-sex adoption reforms is hardly about boosting the number of adoptions.

Adoption is meant to form new families for children who can't live with their birth parents. But adoption is very rare in Australia despite there being many children who could be adopted.

Last year were just 89 adoptions nationally from care - 84 of which were in NSW - despite more than 43,000 children living in care across the country. That's because adoption is taboo.

Instead of boosting adoptions, the Andrews government seems determined to use reform of the Adoption Act 1988 as a stalking horse for the anti-religion agenda of secular progressives.

That's why the Bill before Parliament also amends the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to eliminate protections for religious freedom and freedom of conscience in relation to adoption.

Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, says the reforms would force Catholic adoption agencies to choose between Catholic teaching or breaking the law.

But Minister for Equality Matthew Foley is unmoved. "Equality is not negotiable," he said. Apparently, both the Anglican and Uniting Churches in Victoria agree, and are supporting the proposed reforms -- thereby leaving their sisters and brothers in the Catholic Church high and dry.

Victorian Catholics had been hoping to win the same exemptions granted by the Keneally Government In 2010 when NSW legalised same-sex adoptions.

Linda Burney, former NSW Minister for Community Services, stated that faith-based organisations are "an integral part of our pluralist society and provide stability, security and guidance to many."

Ms Burney also affirmed same-sex couples continue to adopt children through NSW Community Services and Barnados.  

The Victorian government is not so generous to faith-based organisations. Rather than risk violating the law, the most likely outcome of is that Catholic adoption agencies will close their doors for good.

Yet given the negligible numbers of adoptions in Victoria, it is hard to believe that the government's real concern is with securing the rights of same-sex couples to adopt through CatholicCare.

If it was, it would devote its energies to pursuing reform of its anti-adoption policies rather than corrupting the long-standing balance between the rule of law and freedom of religion.