Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A feminist rape accusation, it would seem

Particularly in Britain, feminists fume at the low percentage of rape claims that result in a conviction.  They view this as a fault of lazy or biased police and prosecutors.  As a result, police and prosecutors are under pressure to produce "results" and to mount prosecutions even when the prospect of convictions is slight.  That results in a lot of innocent men being traumatized before they are acquitted.  The case below would seem to be an indication that such injustices have spread to Australia

The marriage of a man and his medico wife was already under strain when the husband discovered "sexts" on the wife's mobile phone.

The doctor was in the shower getting ready for her shift in May 2015 when her husband found a series of sexually explicit text messages between her and a man in London.

The pair got into a heated argument, then a physical scuffle and the husband threw the wife's mobile phone out the front door of their Sydney home, smashing the screen.

The next day, he emailed her a sexually explicit picture of her that she had sent to him some time earlier, with the comment: "I think he asked for this specifically".

The comment was in reference to a text message sent from the London man that said, "I really need a pic of that p---- please".

On the first day of his trial in the Sydney District Court earlier this month, the husband, 45, pleaded guilty to two domestic violence-related charges, being damaging property and using a carriage service to menace or offend.

But the now-former wife alleged he committed much more serious offences against her, including sexual intercourse without consent, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and aggravated filming of a person without consent.

Following a 10-day trial, a jury acquitted him on all counts.

At a sentence hearing on Friday, Judge Mark Williams dismissed the proceedings without recording a conviction against the two guilty pleas.

The judge said the prosecution case was "most unsatisfactory" and gave the man a certificate for costs, meaning he can recoup some of his legal fees from the state.

Judge Williams said the prosecution failed to take into account "cogent and consistent objective evidence" that backed up the man's claim that the sex that was the subject of the rape charge was in fact consensual.

The man's solicitor, Greg Walsh, told the court the man and his legal team took photographic evidence that corroborated his story and discredited hers to the police, but it was ignored.

"Was it ideological, was it wilful blindness? I don't know," Mr Walsh said. "All the evidence pointed to the fact that this was an innocent man who should not have been charged."

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, spent 34 days in jail on remand, an experience he found "extraordinarily difficult" given he has no criminal record.

He also lost about $47,000 worth of work because his conditions once released on bail prohibited international travel.

The prosecution submitted that in emailing the picture of her genitalia, the man used "a very private image … taken in the context of their marriage" as a "sword" and "it was just a mean-spirited thing to do".

The court was urged to send a message that so-called "revenge porn" will not be tolerated.

But Judge Williams said the "unusual" case was not the appropriate vehicle for sending a message of general deterrence. He noted the man had spent time in jail and had to defend himself at trial at considerable expense against serious charges that should not have been bought against him.


'It's not going to happen': Barnaby Joyce rejects push for Aboriginal body in constitution

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has rejected a push from Aboriginal community leaders for a constitutionally-enshrined Indigenous body to influence policy in Canberra, predicting "it's not going to happen".

As Mr Joyce called for "substantive" but practical progress on Aboriginal reconciliation, two of Australia's most senior Indigenous politicians rallied behind the importance of a national referendum on the issue, warning it must be done right or could set the cause back for generations.

Hundreds of Indigenous people from across the country are at Uluru to discuss whether they want to be recognised in the constitution

Last week's national convention of Indigenous community leaders at Uluru rejected symbolic recognition on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution, instead calling for a "First Nations Voice" and a plan for treaties between Aboriginal people and the government.

"If you overreach in politics and ask for something that will not be supported by the Australian people such as another chamber in politics or something that sort of sits above or beside the Senate, that idea just won't fly," Mr Joyce said on Monday.

Shireen Morris, senior policy adviser at the Cape York Institute, said Mr Joyce's comments showed he misunderstood the proposal. "There is no suggestion at all there should be a new third chamber of Parliament," Ms Morris told ABC.

"The proposal for a first people's voice is a proposal for an external advisory body, so an advisory body that is outside parliament, outside government."

The Nationals leader did express openness to some kind of treaty.

"You show me what's in the treaty and I'll tell you what the appetite will be," he replied when asked if the public would support a national treaty with Indigenous Australians.

Linda Burney, Labor's spokeswoman for human services, said the Uluru statement was silent on recognising Aboriginal people in the constitution.

"The issue of recognition has to be dealt with and I think it's important to have that recognition within the constitution, that truth-telling," she told ABC radio.

Ms Burney cautioned that a constitutional proposal must remain feasible because its failure could see progress "set back two or three generations".

Ken Wyatt, the Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister, said he was "extremely confident" a referendum could be held in 2018.

Mr Wyatt also warned the aspirations laid out at Uluru had the potential to be seized upon by people agitating against change.

He said "extremely important" bipartisanship from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has remained constant and noted no referendum had ever succeeded where there has been division between the major parties.

On Saturday, Mr Turnbull expressed caution about the outcome from Uluru and emphasised the importance of there being minimal opposition to any referendum proposal.

Mr Turnbull referenced the uphill battle that referendums face because voters are "constitutionally conservative". Only eight of the 44 held since 1901 have been successful.

The findings of the Uluru convention, which capped off a dozen regional dialogues around the country, will now be factored into the Referendum Council's report to the Parliament, due to be delivered in five weeks.


Leftist doctors dismiss Islam’s link to terrorism

An outspoken health lobby group has weighed into the divisive ­debate on terror, dismissing ­“inherent links” between Islam and terrorism and calling on an ­influential parliamentary committee to do the same.

The Public Health Association of Australia, comprising doctors, researchers and health academics, has asked the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to take a stand on the issue when it releases its much-anticipated report into the status of religious freedom later in the year.

“The PHAA urges the committee to include a recommendation in its report that disavows the ­notion there is any inherent link between Islam and terror,” the submission says.

“The committee should condemn any politician who refers divisively ... to any ­religious or ethnic group for the purpose of political gain.”

The tabling of the submission — one of almost 200 presented to the inquiry so far — coincided with last week’s terrorist attack in Manchester, which claimed the lives of 22 concert-goers, many of them children and teenagers.

The suicide bomb attack, by British-born Salman Abedi, 22, ­reportedly radicalised by Islamic State recruiters, has reignited public tensions around the issue, with mounting concerns about radical Islamism offset by some attempts to play down the threat.

It also comes as Australian ­Security Intelligence Organisation head Duncan Lewis last week denied there was evidence to suggest a link between refugees and terrorism in Australia when quizzed at a Senate hearing.

The PHAA submission was co-signed by its president and former politician Michael Moore, Curtin University professor of international health Jaya Duntas, and David Legge, a scholar emeritus in public health at La Trobe University.

With almost 2000 members, the association’s aim is to enhance population health results based on prevention, the social determinants of health and equity principles. As part of that, it develops “evidence-based” policies and ­advocates for these with governments at all levels.

Mr Moore told The Australian that religious intolerance was a ­serious matter, particularly in relation to Islam, and current divisive leadership on the issue was relevant to the inquiry.

“When you look at terrorism and the IRA, I don’t think many people blamed Christianity for terrorism when clearly there was an overlay. In fact there’s nothing ­inherent in Christianity that links to terrorism,” he said.

“Intolerable behaviour is intolerable behaviour and ... because individuals might frame that around Islam doesn't mean we should accept that.”

Macquarie University political theorist Stephen Chavura described the request as “ridiculous” and said it appeared the PHAA wished to condemn “non-politically correct statements” about ­religion.

“What on earth kind of authority does the Public Health Association of Australia have to declare on the connection between Islam and terror?” he said.

“Just because there might not be an ‘inherent link’, doesn’t mean that there is no connection at all. The fact is there is a connection ­between some modes of Islamic expression and terrorism.

“Whether it’s ‘true’ Islam is ­irrelevant for the state to decide. It’s an issue for theologians.”

Dr Chavura said that division on an issue as complex as terrorism was “simply part of what it is to live in an open society”.

Senator Jacqui Lambie, who has previously advocated deportation for Muslims who endorse sharia law, said that links did exist between terrorism and ­religions or movements with extreme views.


Time to confront local Islamists: this is war


Britain has been invaded. Whitehall has revealed that there are 23,000 suspected terrorists inside the UK. What it didn’t say is that the British army reserve has just 29,940 active personnel. The ­implications are clear, but no politician will admit them. When the number of enemies inside a nation nears the number of its active army reserve, the nation cannot hold. Britain and the Commonwealth states should be on a war footing. That means closing borders, strengthening treason laws and bolstering defence.

Islamists are engaged in total war against the West. The latest figures on jihadis in Britain prove their success in penetrating the heart of Western democracy without our knowledge. Intelligence agencies in Britain, the US and Australia appear to be concealing the immensity of the jihadist threat within. We must question why British intelligence did not ­reveal the staggering number of potential jihadis in the country ­before now. We can ill afford intelligence services that tell us half-truths and lies by omission that protect an enemy within committed to our destruction.

Islamists are engaged in total war against free world people. In the 21st century, total war is commonly conducted by non-state ­actors that aim to destroy legitimate states by any means necessary. The chief enemy of the modern West is a coalition of non-state actors whose militant front is Islamic jihad. Its combatants aim to overthrow liberal democracies by subverting the central organs of the state and replacing the gov­erning principles of free society with sharia. However, Western leaders are conducting the war against 21st century jihad with a 20th century mindset. They focus on foreign wars and militant acts while the enemy subverts our ­nations from within.

The best Western leaders ­protect our borders, the worst ­appease or collaborate with the enemy, but few openly state the alpha and omega of the jihadis’ total war: a global empire under Islam that requires the death of the West.

Following the Manchester bomb­ing, the British government finally told the truth about what decades of multiculturalism have produced in Britain: 23,000 terrorists. The Times reported that the initial figure of 3000 jihadists was a function of MI5 operational limits, not reality. The intelligence agency can keep eyes on about 3000 individuals at any one time, so it creates a priority classification list with categories such as active and residual risk. But the three major jihadist attacks on Britain in recent years were conducted by men who had been ­investigated and subsequently ­removed from the active terror watch list. These residual jihadis number about 20,000.

The revelation that there is a potential jihadist army inside ­Britain about 7000 personnel short of Britain’s army reserve raises the question of war. But Britons must surely question also why the state withheld such critical information during the Brexit debate when ­issues of national security, border and immigration policy determined the outcome. The concealment of such information begs the question of how many other intelligence services are concealing the true state of the jihadist threat within the West.

ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis’s recent denial of the ­relationship between the refugee ­intake and terrorism does not ­inspire confidence. In response to Pauline Hanson’s question about it, he responded that there is no evidence of such a link. Perhaps Senator Hanson should revive her “please explain” on these names: Man Haron Monis, Farhad ­Jabour and Mohammad Ali Baryalei, as well as the dozens of asylum-seekers who have ­received adverse security assessments from ASIO.

It is not the first time that Lewis has seemed more critical of those who defend the West than our ­jihadi foes. In 2015 he allegedly told some MPs who spoke out about the link between Islam and terrorism that their comments could threaten national security.

Minimising the link between porous borders, refugee programs and the development of jihad as a Western phenomenon is a common Islamist tactic. In the information age, intelligence services would be better to admit the threat of jihad while repeating the obvious truth that not all ­Muslims are jihadis.

I warned in 2015 that the West would win the battle against ­Islamic State but lose the war against Islamism unless Western leaders recognised jihad as a substantive ideology. Jihad is an ideology first and last. Its militant expression is Islamic terrorism whose primary purpose is not to instil terror but to destabilise and exhaust the protective capacity of legitimate governments. In that sense, jihad is akin to militant socialism. The end of revolutionary socialism is the communist state. The end of revolutionary jihad is the Islamic state.

The comprehensive ideology of jihad is set out in Management of Savagery, the Islamic State ­playbook reportedly written by former al-Qa’ida official Mohammad Hasan Khalil al-Hakim. In it, Hakim clarifies that gradual, subversive jihad is a total war strategy. He states that jihadis are: “Progressing until it is possible to expand and attack the ­enemies in order to repel them, plunder their money, and place them in a constant state of apprehension and (make them) desire reconciliation.”

The Coalition has done much to counter what I would call hard jihad, namely the advocacy, ­financing and enactment of ­Islamic terrorism. But few Western governments have tackled soft jihad: the teaching, preparation and promotion of jihadist ideology including gradual subversion of the state, liberal institutions and the fundamental values of Western society. To counter jihadists’ total war against the West, the government should consider the powers ­created to protect Australia’s freedom during the total wars of the 20th century.

The piecemeal ­approach employed by the West in response to jihad is born of a ­reluctance to face reality. The laws of peacetime can no longer ­accommodate the jihadist menace within Western states. When the number of potential enemy combatants inside Britain is only 7000 men short of its army reserve, we must face the reality that the enemy is inside the gate. It is time to state the four words the West hoped never to utter again: we are at war.


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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ahmadiyya Muslim congregation take to Perth streets to condemn Manchester attack

Not mentioned below is that the Ahmadis are a sect of Islam regarded as heretical by other Muslims. They have an extra prophet --  Mirza Ghulam Ahmad -- later than Mohammed.  They are often persecuted by other Muslims

MEMBERS of a Perth Muslim congregation took to the CBD on the weekend to condemn last week’s terror attacks in Manchester.

Imam Kamran Tahir and members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim congregation stood in the middle of the Murray Street mall on Saturday wearing T-shirts that read “I’m a Muslim. Ask me anything”.

Mr Tahir said the actions of suicide bomber Salman Abedi — who killed 22 and injured at least 119 during an Ariana Grande concert— was totally contradictory to the teachings of Islam.

“It was heartbreaking for us to see in the name of our faith that this atrocity was happening and that beloved human beings were unfortunately being killed in the name of Islam,” he said.

“It was essential to show that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people who mourned the unfortunate deaths of those who lost their lives in Manchester.”

Mr Tahir said the response from members of the public was overwhelmingly positive.

“A lot of the people walking past were giving us hugs, high-fiving us, shaking our hands and really appreciating what we are doing.

“Of course, you had the odd one or two who didn’t like what we had to say but the majority were really appreciative.”
Survivor of the London underground bombings gives her take on the Manchester Attack.

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim congregation will return to the CBD next weekend in order to offer people the chance to ask questions about Islam and Muslims.

When asked if he could teach the Perth public a single message, Mr Tahir said it would be that Islam teaches love for all and hatred for none.


Sir Lunchalot is in jail at last

Disgraced former NSW minister Ian Macdonald will have to stay behind bars until he is sentenced after his bail was revoked at his sentence hearing.

Macdonald and ex-union boss John Maitland were taken into custody on Friday after Justice Christine Adamson revoked their bail, which she had continued after they were convicted in March.

Justice Adamson said she will "endeavour" to sentence the men on Friday.

Macdonald, 68, was found guilty of misconduct in public office for signing over a valuable coal exploration licence to Doyles Creek Mining, a company chaired by Maitland, when he was NSW mineral resources minister in 2008.

Maitland, 71, who made $6 million selling shares in a company that acquired Doyles Creek Mining after the licence was granted, was found guilty of being an accessory to the misconduct.

On Friday, Maitland's daughter embraced him in the NSW Supreme Court dock, before she stormed out of the room saying: "It's so wrong, you're all disgusting".

The jury was told unexplored coal resources were "as rare as hen's teeth" in NSW and the state was facing budget constraints when the multimillion-dollar licence was given away without a competitive tender.

At their sentence hearing, Crown prosecutor Michael McHugh SC said the misconduct warranted full-time custody.

He cited comments made by another judge who, when jailing former minister Eddie Obeid, talked about ministerial public duties and public confidence.

Macdonald's barrister Matthew Johnston SC tendered references including two from broadcaster Alan Jones and former MP John Della Bosca but Justice Adamson refused to make them public, and referred to the broadcaster saying that Macdonald was found guilty by a court of "public opinion".

Mr McHugh also said the Director of Public Prosecutions intends to apply for a $6 million proceeds of crime order against Maitland.


Navy's troubled warships 'expected' to be back in service by October, senators told

Defence procurement in Australia is repeatedly a shambles.  The only consolation is that it seems just as bad in the UK and USA

The Chief of Navy says he expects Australia's two largest and most expensive warships will be back in service by October this year.

Australia's two Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs), HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide, have been docked in Sydney since March after problems were discovered with their propulsion systems.

Facing a Senate Estimates hearing, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett confirmed HMAS Adelaide will remain in dry dock at Garden Island where engineers are closely examining her propulsion pods.

"If there's anything that we discover from her that we then need to apply with [HMAS] Canberra [that] will be done in that docking in the third quarter of this year," he said.

    "The expectation [is] that both ships will be able to be back in service by the end of the fourth quarter of this year."

During extensive questioning from Labor senator Kim Carr, the Navy Chief acknowledged Australia's newest warships will have spent more time out of service this year than on operations.

"They will have been alongside for more time than they will have been at sea, Senator, that's correct," Vice Admiral Barrett said.

Earlier this month, the Navy confirmed HMAS Adelaide would miss highly-anticipated war games with the United States at the end of June, and said it was too early to say whether HMAS Canberra would be able to participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre — even in a reduced capacity.

Defence's head of maritime systems Rear Admiral Adam Grunsell said it was also too early to say how much it would cost to repair its two largest warships, and some of the eventual bill may be covered by warranty.

"It will aggregated at the end of the activity or towards the end of activity," he said. "I can't give you the exact cost at this stage."

Rear Admiral Grunsell has previously said a design flaw could not be ruled out as a reason for the propulsion problems — although senior Navy figures say the latest testing points to failures with seals used inside the high-tech azimuth pods on the LHDs.

HMAS Canberra was commissioned into service in 2014, while her sister ship HMAS Adelaide was commissioned 18 months ago, with both LHDs costing a total of about $3 billion.


Principals under pressure to enrol children with disabilities without support

This is a result of the manic Leftist committment to "all men are equal".  Kids with disabilities must be placed in mainstream schools instead of the old system of special schools.  The result is mayhem with the disabled not given the special attention they need and mainstream classes being disrupted by the special needs students

A lack of support and resources to teach children with disabilities or special needs has resulted in unsafe classrooms for teachers and students, a survey has revealed.

The survey of principals of more than 200 primary schools in south-western Sydney also found breaches of disability discrimination laws "occur on a regular basis".

Eighty-nine per cent of principals rated the funding for students with a disability or special needs was either poor or very poor, according a submission from South Western Sydney Primary Principals to a NSW parliamentary inquiry into students with a disability or special needs in NSW schools.

Their submission contained examples of how inadequate resources had left schools unable to cater for some children with disabilities and special needs, including one student whose high anxiety led to outbursts of physical aggression.

"He has bitten, kicked, strike out at teachers and students on at least 15 occasions in two weeks," the submission said. "He will abscond from the classroom. This student does not attract any funding."

Another student attracted funding for a teachers' aid for only three hours a day despite requiring "full toileting assistance".

"She requires a [teachers' aid] to support her with changing and if she requires showering of a full change she requires two [teachers' aids] at times," the submission said.

The submission said funding was often only provided for a child's "primary disability", and not for other special needs: "Schools may undertake a laborious process to apply for additional funds. The result is usually tardy and inadequate."

Inflexible staffing arrangements and excessive class sizes resulted in "inadequate" learning opportunities for children with disabilities and special needs.

"Principals are sometimes placed in a position whereby they feel compelled to enrol a child with a disability/special needs knowing that they are not able to provide the necessary supports and resources that a child requires to fully access the curriculum," the submission said.

"The pressure to do so from NSW Department [of] Education personnel is significant."

It also said parents were "compelled" by education bureaucrats to complete requests for resources that were "totally inadequate" for their children.

"Parents are sometimes forced to accept enrolment placements that they know are not sufficient for their child due to a lack of special placements available," the submission said. "They are usually given no better alternative."

A majority of principals reported school counselling services were inadequate, with one counsellor per 1500 students: "Some of the students with greatest needs (e.g. emotionally disturbed/mental diagnosis) have access to a school counsellor less than one day per week."

The safety concerns expressed by the principals of schools in south-western Sydney were echoed in the submission from the NSW Primary Principals' Association.

"Principals are struggling to keep staff and other vulnerable students safe," the submission said. "Staff are being injured at alarming rates. Many staff in [Schools for Specific Purposes] come to work expecting to be hurt."

Chris Presland, the president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, told the inquiry there had been an increase in physical threats, assaults, verbal threats and abuse towards staff and students.

Mr Presland also said there was a growing number of students with disabilities being integrated into mainstream schools: "Teachers put the education of their students first, but they are finding it more and more difficult to cope with the many students with disabilities or special needs in their classes."

The inquiry, chaired by the Liberal Party's Lou Amato, received more than 400 submissions from teachers, parents, government agencies and disability organisations. It will conduct its next public hearing in Tamworth on June 8.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education did not answer specific questions but issued a statement that said more than $1 billion was provided directly to schools or through specialist programs and services to assist students with a disability.

"In 2017, more than $237 million of needs-based funding has been allocated to schools in south-western Sydney for principals to use flexibly to support the learning needs of all students in their schools," he said.

He added: "The department also works with schools to ensure the environment for students and staff is conducive for effective, safe learning and takes action to address situations brought to its attention where this may not be the case."

David Roy, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle's School of Education, expressed concerns about placing children with disabilities in special schools.

"Often the argument is that the students are happier," he said. "If we replaced the words disability with 'black' or 'Muslim' or 'gay' then the discriminatory aspect of this is apparent. That is not withstanding the educational reasons that it is harming not only the students isolated but also the wider social cohesion of the whole school and community."

Mr Roy also said research indicated mainstream students were not adversely affected if students with disabilities were in their class: "In fact, those very same 'diverse' students often bring new ways of thinking to the whole class. We need to stop seeing disability as a deficit, but as also having assets attached."


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

Monday, May 29, 2017

An Ignorant Australian Greenie

I put up yesterday some arrogant, elitist comments from an Australian Greenie.  The Greenie, Dayne Pratzky, also uttered  some ignorant Leftist stereotypes about the USA. Because it is rich and powerful, all Leftists hate the USA.  Even American Leftists do. A conservative American  reader was rightly incensed at the unbalanced comments.  And has replied to them.  First the comments then the reply:

“I’m a custodian of society, we all are. If you don’t want to live in a gun-filled and drug-filled society like America, you’ve got to fight to keep Australia the way it is now.”

We are a country of 326 million of which 325 million are not criminals. There are a lot of drug users but by far the majority of the population are not drug addicts. We become alarmed when 100 people in a small state overdose on illegal and tainted drugs. I will not miss nor will I grieve for  these misfits but I will support trying to protect the citizens from these drugs. Pharmaceutical companies continue to find ways to make life more comfortable but leave it to some to find the drug world a place to retreat into to avoid all of life's responsibilities.

Our constitution makes it very clear that the forefathers had a built in fear of government, to the extent that they wrote in a single demand that citizens would never be disarmed so as to safeguard against powerful people strong arming the removal of all rights. Many people miss the fact that such freedoms come with responsibility as well as risks of abuse. People own guns for all kinds of reasons, some for pleasure, some for protection, some for crime.

We are a long way from armed uprising but the possibility remains in the minds of government people. Almost every state in the Union has more armed citizens than the entire standing army and you can bet that even the army would not stand on the side of a tyrant government. Every citizen has at least one bullet, it is called a vote.

Our second amendment does not endorse crime, rather crime uses what ever advantage it can gain. Drugs are another issue but it is people that use drugs that make the issue.  Our country is under siege both from in and from without. It will always be that way as long as there is big profit in drugs.

In is people like Pratzky that our constitution protects us from.

Oh look, the rainbow fascists are at it again

Miranda Devine

THE rainbow fascists are at it again. This time they’re trying to erase tennis great Margaret Court from the sport’s history because she dared to express a view on marriage contrary to Qantas’ gay activist CEO Alan Joyce.

“I am disappointed that Qantas has become an active promoter for same-sex marriage,” she wrote in a letter to The West Australian last week.

“I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible. Your statement leaves me no option but to use other airlines where possible for my extensive travelling.”

Court is free to boycott Qantas if she wishes, and she is hardly the only Australian affronted by Irishman Joyce’s hijacking of our national airline as his personal political plaything.

But for sticking her head above the parapet, she has been pilloried, with a growing chorus, driven by Czech-American Martina Navratilova, pushing to delete her name from the Melbourne stadium named in her honour.

As a reader points out, this is a modern version of “Damnatio memoriae”, a punishment in Ancient Rome considered worse than death. Latin for “condemnation of memory” it was a form of dishonour aimed at erasing the person from history.

Such an extreme reaction to an honestly held Christian belief in traditional marriage is what is driving fence-sitters away from the cause.


Turnbull warns Australian voters 'conservative' on constitutional change

He's spot on about that

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has cautiously responded to Indigenous leaders' calls for a constitutionally enshrined "voice" to parliament, warning that Australians are "conservative" about constitutional change.

Speaking at a lunch at Crown on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, Mr Turnbull thanked Indigenous leaders who agreed on a historic declaration at Uluru on Friday to reject a minimalist version of constitutional recognition of Indigenous people. But he gave a thinly veiled warning that their more ambitious recommendation would face challenges in a nation in which referendums have historically been defeated.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, speaking at the same gathering, also did not specifically endorse the Uluru statement, but urged Australians to consider the calls with an "open mind".

The Prime Minister warned that a successful constitutional referendum must have "resolute solidarity" or "minimal or at least tepid opposition".

Mr Turnbull did not directly address the contents of the statement of the Heart, which outlined a roadmap for a treaty and called for the constitution to enshrine the Indigenous voice in parliament, through the creation of an elected indigenous advisory body.

"As I know better than most, changing the Australian constitution is not easy - 44 referendums and only eight successes," he told the audience, which included campaigners for the 1967 referendum and plaintiffs in the historic Mabo case.

"Indeed, history would indicate that in order to succeed, not only must there be overwhelming support but minimal or at least tepid opposition.

"No political deal, no cross-party compromise, no leader's handshake can deliver constitutional change. To do that, a constitutionally conservative nation must be persuaded that the proposed amendments respect the fundamental values of the constitution and will deliver precise changes that are clearly understood to be of benefit to all Australians."

The Referendum Council is yet to advise Mr Turnbull and Opposition Leader Mr Shorten in a report delivered on June 30.

Mr Shorten, who last year indicated a willingness to consider a treaty but has been more muted on the question since then, said there was "sincere desire for bipartisanship" on reconciliation.

"We owe those members and those that participated the time and the space to finish their work and we owe them an open mind on the big questions: the form that recognition takes on treaties, on changes required in the constitution and on the best way to fulfil a legitimate and long-held position for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people," he said.

But he warned that arriving at a final proposal may be challenging.

"I do not doubt the size of the mountain that we will have to climb," he said. "But for any Australian in need of inspiration, I would say look to our history, look to that spirit of '67, or Eddie Mabo."

Greens leader Richard Di Natale criticised the Prime Minister for not endorsing the Uluru declaration. He supported calls for a treaty and an Indigenous voice in Parliament.

"I'm deeply concerned, the Prime Minister had an opportunity today to say, 'I stand with our First Nation people, I've heard them and we are going to work towards a treaty and towards as a strong Aboriginal voice', and instead he appears to have backed away from any significant change," he said.

The National Reconciliation Week Luncheon marked the first opportunity for both leaders to respond to the Uluru Statement, which moved away from the symbolic recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution in favour of enshrining a "First Nations Voice".

"In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard," read the statement.

The Uluru declaration also called for a "Makarrata Commission" that would supervise agreements between Indigenous groups and government and a period of "truth-telling" about the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle," read the statement. Makarrata is a Yolngu word for treaty or settlement.

The Referendum Council's co-chair Pat Anderson said in its statement on Friday that "delegates agreed that sovereignty has never been ceded or extinguished".

High rates of suicide, closures of communities and youth detention were all proof of the need for constitutional reform, the co-chair said.

 The 1967 referendum included Aboriginal Australians in the census. The luncheon also fell on the 25th anniversary of the High Court's decision to uphold native title rights in the Mabo case.


Ramshackle federation lives on

Robert Carling

The recent federal budget clearly marks a shift to higher spending and higher taxation; and a retreat from the Coalition government's previous (at least rhetorical) emphasis on expenditure discipline rather than tax increases. What has been less noticed is the budget's affirmation -- by action if not explicitly -- of Australia's ramshackle version of federalism.

The recent history of false starts towards reform of federalism includes the Abbott government's federation white paper, which aimed to make the states 'sovereign in their own sphere'. This raised hopes that the Commonwealth might withdraw from state functions and give the states revenue capacities and powers more in line with their spending responsibilities.

Regrettably, the white paper project was aborted when Malcolm Turnbull took the reins.
Turnbull was still apparently thinking in the spirit of the white paper when he proposed, a year ago, that the Commonwealth withdraw from school funding and give the states greater revenue capacity to pay for schools themselves. But that idea was also quickly withdrawn.

In contrast, we now have a budget that revels in using the familiar levers of grants and conditions to impose the federal government's policy will on state functions. That the states are willing accomplices does not alter the fact that the principles of competitive, accountable and efficient federalism are being trashed.

The budget takes Commonwealth involvement in school funding to new heights. Just one other example of the budget's bossy, Canberra-knows-best tone is the proposal to change the grant for public housing to require the states 'to deliver on housing supply targets and reform their planning systems'. This begs the question: why should the Commonwealth be involved in public housing at all?

The approach to federalism in this budget is not an historical aberration. It represents a further instalment in the decades-long trend towards more centralised government. Vertical imbalance is now more entrenched than ever, and our federal system further than ever from the principles of competition, accountability and efficiency.

The system will continue to lumber on, but it could be so much better.


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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A secretive EPA in Australia

NSW home owners could be living near contaminated land without knowing because the state's environmental watchdog has failed to disclose the information, a government review has found.

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority told the review it decided not to declare all contaminated residential sites because it could "affect the valuation of a property".

The report was led by Macquarie University Professor Mark Taylor who found the EPA failed to make the information public even when the "contamination is significant enough to warrant regulation".

While the EPA is committed to declaring contamination on and near commercial and industrial land, the review found it "generally does not declare off-site residential land to avoid unnecessarily blighting that land and causing undue concern".

The review continues to say the EPA first determines if the contamination poses health or environmental risks before it decides to disclose the information to residents.

The review found two examples where off-site residential properties near "significantly contaminated" sites were not declared to affected residents and no reason was provided why in the EPA's briefing notes.

The EPA says in the report it is investigating the matter.

The environmental watchdog has committed to a revised declaration process, which will assure a more "standardised approach", but decisions to declare or not declare the contamination will continue to be made on a "case-by-case basis", the report says.

However, the EPA will not declare all contaminated sites that are deemed "significant enough to warrant regulation".

In a statement released on Sunday, the EPA says if the contaminated site poses an impact on neighbouring properties, it's up to the council to reveal that information and in cases of significantly contaminated sites, the information is "added to the public record, published in the Government Gazette, notification is provided to the landowner, polluter, land occupier and local council or authority".

"Local authorities are then tasked to record this information on property planning certificates issued under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act," the EPA said in the statement.

The environmental watchdog noted NSW had some of the strictest reporting requirements in Australia, and "human health and the environment are the priority".

"Property value never overrides the EPA's protection of human health and the environment regarding significantly contaminated sites," the EPA said.


The arrogance of a Greenie

"We have to lead the government in what we want"

SO MANY people feel like they can’t make a difference nowadays but not Dayne Pratzky aka the Frackman.

Eight years ago he started a war with the coal seam gas industry that left him financially and emotionally drained but still angry enough to rip out the gas connection in his new house. “I will not have a part of it, I will not be held hostage to the gas industry in cooking and heating,” Pratzky told

Pratzky, who has embraced solar power at home, gained infamy when he appeared in the hit 2015 movie Frackman about his fight against gas companies who wanted to drill on his property in Queensland’s Darling Downs.

While he now lives in Forster in NSW’s Mid North Coast, Pratzky does not think he lost, despite the high price he’s paid for his activism. “I’ve lost eight years of my life, I’ve financially ruined myself and it will take time to get back on my feet but I’ll be back, I’m not finished.”

Pratzky believes he also helped others, and contributed to destroying the onshore gas industry in Australia. Since then the Victorian government has banned all onshore gas exploration and production, and there are delays over projects in NSW and the NT.

“You could say I lost but you could also say I won because the industry’s social licence has been destroyed,” Pratzky said.

“They are losing the PR battle and people don’t trust the oil and gas industry. “There’s no place for it in this country, and I’m proud of that.”

Ultimately Pratzky believes companies will never be a match for passionate people. “They do this for a job, they get paid, go home and do something else. But activists go home and eat and breathe it, that’s why you can’t beat activists because they are doing it because they want to. You can’t beat passion.”

Asked whether he had any regrets, Pratzky reckons he would have gone even harder. “I realise that being a passenger in policy, it’s no way forward,” he said. “We are having things that are not good for us forced down our throats.

“The government doesn’t lead, it follows. We have to lead the government in what we want.”

Far from feeling disempowered, Pratzky believes the rise of social media has enabled people to fight for what they believed in more than ever before. “Now I say if you’re not an activist, you’re just a whinger — there’s no excuse anymore,” Pratzky said.

“You used to have to fight to get yourself in the media, it would have to be a great story for them to get involved, but part of our rise to notoriety was because of social media.

“We had the ability to get the message out and it’s changed society. “You can be a keyboard warrior now, you can write a letter, join a group and educate yourself far easier than before.”

And contrary to what many people think, Pratzky said activists were not the rainbow-clothes wearing, bong smoking rabble they were often made out to be.

Pratzky, a carpenter and builder enjoys pig-shooting, is himself an unlikely activist and he said the social aspect of activism was actually the best part about it.

“The best thing is the people you meet ... they are absolutely phenomenal people, good Aussies, that’s why I stay involved, to help them save their properties,” he said.

“It’s not the ‘usual suspects’, it’s normal people trying to protect their way of life and business.”

Pratzky, who will be sharing his experiences during a talk at the Opera House on Saturday, wants to continue encouraging people to stand up for what they believe in.

“You’ve got to put yourself out there,” he said. “If there’s something wrong in our area, you should know about it,” he said.

“I’m a custodian of society, we all are. If you don’t want to live in a gun-filled and drug-filled society like America, you’ve got to fight to keep Australia the way it is now.”


Australian spy boss sparks row over refugees

ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis has declined to elaborate on his claim that there is “absolutely no evidence” of a link between Australia’s refugee intake and ­terrorism, despite multiple Islamic terrorist acts in the past three years involving individuals on ­humanitarian visas, or their children.

One Nation seized on Mr Lewis’s comments, with Queensland senator Malcolm Roberts tweeting: “If ASIO can’t see a link between refugees and terrorism we are in far greater danger than I thought.”

Labor MP Anne Aly, an Islamic radicalisation expert, supported Mr Lewis, while Philip Ruddock, a former Liberal immigration minister and attorney-general, said while one could not ignore the issue, “simply to blame all refugees is over-simplistic”.

On Thursday, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson grilled Mr Lewis, a former special forces commander, in a Senate estimates hearing about Islam, radicalisation, refugees and terrorism.

She first asked Mr Lewis if he could confirm that the four terrorist attacks and the 12 foiled on Australian soil were “committed by Muslims”.

Mr Lewis replied: “Certainly of the 12 thwarted attacks, one of those indeed involved a right-wing extremist, so, the answer is ‘no’, they have not always been carried out by Muslims.”

During the exchanges, the ASIO chief said: “We’re not interested in religion. We are interested in whether an individual is exhibiting or practising violence.”

Senator Hanson then asked: “Do you believe that the threat is being brought in possibly from Middle Eastern refugees that are coming out to Australia?”

Mr Lewis replied: “I have abso­lutely no evidence to suggest there is a connection between refugees and terrorism.”

Islamic State-inspired gunman Man Haron Monis, who took hostages and killed one of them during the Lindt cafe siege in 2014, came to Australia on a business visa before successfully applying for asylum.

Abdul Numan Haider, the Melbourne 18-year-old killed after attacking police with a knife three months earlier, was an Afghan-born Australian citizen whose family arrived as refugees.

Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old jihadist who killed NSW police civilian accountant Curtis Cheng in Sydney in 2015 was an Iranian-born Australian citizen of Kurdish-Iraqi background whose family came as refugees.

At least a dozen other first or second-generation Muslim ­mi­grants have been convicted of terror-related charges.

Senator Roberts last night told The Weekend Australian: “We see a lot of terrorism around the world from refugees who have come in particularly from Islamic countries. Most people so far have hidden the obvious correlation between Islam and terrorism and refused to discuss it.

“We’re stunned that ASIO doesn’t do that, and that the Australian Federal Police doesn’t.”

Mr Lewis declined to answer questions requesting he expand on his statements in Senate estimates. He has previously sparked controversy for what some conservative Coalition MPs saw as an effort to play down the threat of ­Islamic radicalisation.

In 2015, The Australian revealed Mr Lewis had telephoned MPs publicly critical of attitudes within the Australian Muslim community, asking them to use the “soothing language favoured by Malcolm Turnbull in their public discussion of Islam”.

Speaking from Liberia last night, Mr Ruddock said it would be unrealistic to say immigration and refugee questions “play no role in relation to trying to resolve difficult issues”, but he said “integrity in selection is always of the ­utmost importance. Some of the people you cite were never refugees and deceived us in relation in to their entitlements.

“Monis was never a refugee. He clearly had difficult psychological problems.”

Mr Ruddock noted many of those who had committed ­Islamic-inspired terrorism here had been born in Australia, and said the question was “why have we failed to pass on our values”, particularly respecting the law.

Dr Aly said: “I think Duncan Lewis knows more than Pauline Hanson, and if Duncan Lewis is saying that, we should be paying attention to him.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton declined to comment.


Mining revival

House-buyers seeking a bargain amid the wreckage of Australia's mining boom might want to get in quick.

Port Hedland, a shipping hub for the Pilbara iron ore region in Western Australia, saw house prices collapse nearly 70 per cent in the past four years as workers lost their jobs and left amid the end of a resources investment boom. But prices there have reached a bottom and are now even rising.

Brighter spots in housing is one of three chunks of evidence adding to a growing sense that resource-based state economies are improving. The RBA's liaison with businesses and its data analysis show emerging signs that the Queensland and WA slowdowns are coming to an end, it said earlier this month. The regions' jobs markets, meanwhile, showed a healthy pickup in April.

The recent commodities rally has laid a foundation for recovery. While the price of iron ore — the country's biggest export — has slipped after unexpectedly rebounding toward the end of last year, it remains well above the lows beneath $US40 seen in late 2015. Still, there is potential for the steel-making metal to fall further as No 1 trading partner China stockpiles its holdings.

Port Hedland last month approved BHP Billiton's request to boost the amount of iron ore it ships through the port by 5 million tonnes to 275 million tonnes a year, after the miner initially sought an increase to 290 million tonnes. Coal-mining Queensland, meanwhile, is starting to reap benefits from large-scale liquefied natural gas projects coming on stream.

A CoreLogic report earlier this month found that many mining towns across the country were seeing sales volumes of houses lift and the rate of price declines starting to slow. But it's still a far cry from the good times, when median prices in the fly-ridden, cyclone-prone outpost of Karratha, the Pilbara's biggest town, topped Sydney's by 49 per cent.

Nobody's expecting a return to the boom years, when mining workers with no degrees were commanding salaries akin to that of Wall Street bankers. The bonanza lasted for much of the decade though 2012. But recent green shoots bolster the RBA's case that the unwinding of the mining investment boom is almost done, as the central bank seeks to diversify the economy toward services industries.

Drivers of growth in mining states appear to be broader-based than just commodities. WA is getting a $2.3 billion overhaul of its roads and rails, with a new 60,000-seat stadium also under construction, while works are well underway on the Gold Coast in preparation for the city hosting next year's Commonwealth Games.

Queensland "has got a pretty good spread of industries, for example tourism and education, so once the worst of this mining pullback is done, then the prospects are pretty good", said Steven Milch, chief economist at Suncorp Corporate Services.

'Slowly picking up'

Deloitte Access Economics is also optimistic about Queensland. It forecasts the north-east state to grow 4.5 per cent in fiscal 2018, outstripping NSW's 3 per cent and Victoria's 3.4 per cent. Growth in WA, the state hardest hit by the mining downturn, is tipped to accelerate from 0.2 per cent in fiscal 2018 to 2.2 per cent the next year.

ANZ Bank gave a tempered assessment in a May survey: "While activity in Western Australia continues to expand well below trend pace, the weight of the downturn is lifting." The bank's Queensland index also improved, but it said that labour-market slack was still a drag on economic activity.

April data showed improvement in the resource states' job markets. Queensland added a net 62,100 roles in the six months through April, the most of any state during the period. WA's jobless rate dropped 0.6 per centage points to 5.9 per cent, the biggest decline in almost two years.

"It is busy over here," said Guy Fulcher, a recruitment consultant at Zenith Search agency in Perth. "It's been slowly picking up in the past 12 months. It's still nowhere near where it was in the boom time, but compared with how quiet it was, it's a lot better."

'Skull and crossbones'

With soaring property prices in Sydney and Melbourne far out of reach for many workers, some economists also expect to see northward migration to Queensland increase. That might go some way to easing an apartment supply glut in Brisbane, which the RBA has identified as a significant restraint on prices in the state's biggest city.

It's still a stretch to suggest that resurgent mining states can pick up Australia's growth baton should east-coast property markets stutter.

Back in Port Hedland's real estate market, Dunning said he's also seen a sharp drop in rental vacancies, usually a sign that employers are in hiring mode, while buyer demand is almost entirely from owner-occupiers. He says the real gains won't come until a different type of bargain hunter reappears.

"Nothing will happen dramatically until the investors start to come back," said Dunning. "For investors, Port Hedland has got a skull and crossbones on it."

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

New 50c coin commemorates Mabo and 1967 referendum

The events concerned were significant so it is not unreasonable to commemorate them but what about some centenaries that could have been commemorated?  In 1917 Lieutenant Frank Hubert McNamara became the first Australian airman to receive the Victoria Cross; in 1917  The two halves of the Trans-Australian Railway met; in 1917 The second plebiscite on the issue of military conscription was held and defeated. But who cares about old white guys and their history these days? 

But while we are on the subject, I might at least note what the 1967 referendum actually showed.  I am guessing that you won't see much discussion of that in the media.  For a start it showed a big majority (91%) of the population voting in favour of Aborigines.  So even in those days of inspissated darkness,  Australians were NOT generally racist in any sense.

But the second finding is more interesting.  Who were the blackguards who voted AGAINST Aboriginal recognition?  As Mitchell showed, they were the people who had most contact with Aborigines.  So dislike of Aborigines can be reality-based rather than based in any racist ideology.  Pesky!  Details here

The face of Eddie Mabo is etched into the newest 50 cent coin, as the Royal Australian Mint commemorates 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since the Mabo decision.

As well as the historic figure, the coin features Torres Strait Islander and Australian Aboriginal flags, and iconic pamphlets from the referendum.

Designed in collaboration with Eddie Mabo’s granddaughter, Boneta-Marie Mabo, the coin was unveiled in a ceremony at Old Parliament House.

Also attending the event was Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion, and people who were involved in the 1967 referendum campaign.

Ms Mabo said she was proud to represent her family. "I am so honoured that the Royal Australian Mint invited me to work with them as an artist to design the coin and that they have given me the opportunity to be a part of such a nationally recognised celebration which means so much to me and my family," she said.

Royal Australian Mint CEO Ross MacDiarmid told SBS World News the anniversaries were two of the most significant events in Australian history.

"Once we realised that these things were coming together and it was also the start of the national reconciliation week it seemed obvious to us that we could create a coin that was going to be a recognising the significance of both of those occasions," he said.

He hopes when people come across the coin they will "stop and reflect on what message might be associated with that coin."

Four million of the coins will be released into circulation at buildings in Canberra, such as the National Library, the National Portrait Gallery and Parliament House, and from there they will make their way around the country.


ABC axes Yassmin Abdel-Magied's Australia Wide program

The ABC is axing the program hosted by Yassmin Abdel-Magied a month after the television presenter and activist sparked outrage over her Anzac Day comments.

Australia Wide is set to be shelved in the coming weeks as part of the national broadcaster's sweeping restructure. As well as programming changes, as many as 200 jobs are being slashed in order to reinvest $50 million a year back into regional and online content.

Abdel-Magied has hosted Australia Wide since 2016. Last month, the presenter courted controversy after publishing an Anzac Day Facebook post that suggested Australians should also remember the suffering of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru.

The retribution was swift and brutal, with many accusing the part-time ABC presenter of politicising a day designed to remember those killed defending their country.

At the time, an ABC spokesman stood by Abdel-Magied – arguing her views do not belong to the national broadcaster. However, as part of the ABC's ongoing restructure, staff were recently told it is time for Australia Wide to go.

Sources inside the ABC told Fairfax Media that management were using the the axing of the community-focused program as a convenient opportunity to show Abdel-Magied the door, or at least minimise her on-screen time


Energy costs threaten manufacturing in Australia

Predictions of the demise of manufacturing in Australia as the economy slowly becomes more service oriented are increasingly widespread. The reason – we are told – has mostly been an uncompetitive labour cost structure. We just can’t make stuff as cheap and as quickly as they can in China, Vietnam or India.

But there are two problems with this. First, manufacturing is far from dead and remains our fifth largest employer: more than double the entire financial, insurance and property sector. The second is that it may no longer be labour costs but something else that could threaten the viability of our manufacturing sector.

That something is energy and the cost of it. Only 20 years ago or so, Australia enjoyed some of the cheapest energy costs in the developed world. Now they are among some of the highest and most worrying is that they are predicted to continue to escalate well beyond inflation. Some hawks are even suggesting prices may double within the decade.

Responding to this is going to mean much more than turning off a few domestic lights at night or switching to energy save mode in the office. A bit like the city kid who hasn’t seen a cow and doesn’t know this is where milk comes from, we city slickers can easily get detached from the bigger reality – and in terms of energy consumption in Australia, the reality is that domestic and commercial are not the major consumers.

Manufacturing – our fifth largest industry – consumes nearly a quarter of energy in the country: more than double the entire residential sector and more than the entire residential and commercial sectors combined. This graph from the Office of the Chief Economist spells it out:

Transport is the largest consumer of energy (chiefly fuel) while in manufacturing it is chiefly electricity. What produces electricity is mainly coal, although renewables are fast on the rise (subsidised as they are for the time being). The graph below courtesy Origin Energy data shows generation by energy source:

So here’s the problem. In public policy and media discussion, much of the debate over energy costs seems to revolve around domestic and perhaps also commercial considerations. The cost of cooling or heating the home, the cost of appliances, even the cost of leaving the TV on at the wall occupy our minds and our thinking and much of the policy debate in the daily media. The answers, we are told, rest in renewables and as a nation we seem happy to embrace them: roof top solar for example was adopted quickly (many of us due no doubt to a mix of environmental responsibility plus a desire to break free from the power companies). We seem content with policies which cast coal fired power as the enemy and renewables as our saviour, without much question on the wider economic impacts beyond "will I still be able to have the lights on and fridge running?"

Where is the national debate about how rapidly rising electricity costs may cripple our fifth largest employer in manufacturing? There are countless stories of significant innovation in manufacturing where even our high labour costs haven’t been the death blow we’ve been told. Away from the trendy inner city coffee shops, energy costs – more specifically the cost of electricity – are becoming a bigger and bigger concern for these businesses and enterprises involved in manufacturing.  It would be criminal in a public policy sense if our national energy policy was more finely tuned to the sensitivities of the inner urban greenie doing their bit for sustainability by growing some zucchini plants in a broccoli box on their balcony, while the industries that power one in four jobs are left out of the debate.

I am not full of hope. The recent Federal Budget announcement of an inland freight line from Melbourne to Brisbane (hoo-ray by the way!) met with a suggestion from The Green’s Sara Hanson-Young that the steel used should be Australian, and preferably from Whyalla. ""If you care about the steel industry, then make sure Government money is being spent on Australian steel and give those steelworkers in Whyalla actually something to smile about," she said.

Well yes. Except for one thing. Making steel is massively energy hungry. To do so, you not only need loads and loads of reliable energy, but the cost of energy is critical. Increase that cost and making steel becomes uneconomic. Massively so. Plus, Whyalla is in South Australia. Their experiments with renewables and reliability to date have hardly been stellar. What do the likes of Sara Hanson-Young have in mind? A solar powered steel smelter?

The energy source that once powered energy hungry industries like steel manufacturing is coal. And coal is very much on the nose, especially with The Greens but also the wider community too. The logical connection between the cost of replacing coal with renewables and the cost and viability impact that will have not just on steel but right across the manufacturing spectrum, seems to rate little thought.

If we are to make this energy transition, we need to have a sensible debate about the impacts on industry and how they can handle that transition without suffering needless economic hardship. Otherwise, yet more might look at closing their Australian operations and head for more cost friendly markets. Letting that happen without at least trying to prevent it would be economically reckless in every sense of the word.


What Australia can learn from Donald Trump’s first budget

Behind the rhetoric that dominates President Trump’s budget — lower taxes, higher defence spending and medicare cuts — is an incredibly valuable lesson for Australia. It is possible to slash government duplication and waste to bring national budgets under control.

One of the biggest money raising exercises proposed by President Trump comes from embracing what I call "the Andrew Robb strategy" of redefining what governments should do.

Robb proposed this when he was shadow finance minister but when Tony Abbott won the subsequent election Robb was given the trade portfolio and redefining government and cost reduction was shelved.

We went on administrative spending sprees and instead of ending duplication with the states we increased it. By expanding the ministry we created jobs for the faithful and blamed the Senate for cuts not passed.

As we all know, the Trump’s administration has a deep element of chaos and his budget is even more speculative than the Australian budget. Vast amounts of the US public service administrative jobs have not been filled so it’s easy to announce measures and another to implement them.

Nevertheless the strategy has clear application for Australia. Let me share with you a few extracts: "Deficit spending has become an ingrained part of the culture in the Nation’s capital.

It must end to avoid passing unsustainable levels of debt on to our children and grandchildren and causing serious economic damage.

"When debt levels keep increasing, more and more of the nation’s resources are required to service that debt and are diverted away from Government services that citizens depend on.

"To help correct this and reach our budget goal in 10 years, the Budget includes $US3.6 trillion in spending reductions," Trump says.

Back to my words. Almost half that $US 3.6 trillion or $1.4 billion comes from reorganising government and applying what Trump calls the "two-penny plan" to non-defence discretionary spending. Previously he used the term "draining the swamp". Those "two penny" programs are separate from social services and medicare payments.

The "2-penny plan" involves reducing non-defence budget authority by two per cent each year, to reach approximately $385 billion in 2027, or just over 1.2 per cent of GDP. Trump admits that "this reduction may seem steep, but the strict and disciplined discretionary policies (already proposed in the budget blueprint) will serve as a down payment on the out-year reforms the Administration will unveil, as it seeks to downsize the mission of the non-defence discretionary budget in the coming years".

In addition Trump proposes comprehensive overhaul to the US tax code to make it simpler, fairer, and more efficient "Our out-dated, overly complex, and burdensome tax system must be reformed to unleash America’s economy," he says.

Compared to Australia the US tax system is simple. The amount of money the US plans to spent on the non-defence discretional spending does not fall all that dramatically but there is little growth. Currently the Australian government and opposition do not take these sorts of issues seriously. We may struggle out of our problems in the way proposed by the Treasurer. But if he is wrong and the opposition comes to government and makes the situation worse then we will have a crisis. To solve the problem either a right or left wing government (you do not have to be right wing) can turn to the Andrew Robb plan or the "2-penny plan" of the US.


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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dud public servants paid to go away: audit report

The above picture of a brown-skinned person with an African hairstyle accompanied the lead to the article below on the front page of the SMH. It was apparently intended to illustrate a dud employee. Reverberations to come?

Dud public servants are being given taxpayer-funded golden handshakes or generous early retirements because departments do not want to deal properly with under-performers, a new government audit has found.

A long-anticipated Australian National Audit Office report on so-called "performance management" processes for public servants found between 14 and 30 per cent of employees in some of Canberra's biggest government departments believed their bosses dealt effectively with under-performing colleagues, with significant areas of improvement identified.

A long-standing frustration for many public servants, the audit considered performance management processes in a range of departments and agencies, including the Australian Tax Office, the departments of the Attorney-General, Veterans' Affairs, Social Services, Industry, Innovation and Science, Agriculture, IP Australia and Canberra's National Film and Sound Archive.

Social Services had the highest number of staff found to be "less than effective" between 2012-13 and 205-16, with 338 employees or 3.06 per cent for the period. Among that group 19.2 per cent had been rated less than effective more than once.

The Attorney-General's department had 176 staff identified for performance management in the period, 2.73 per cent of its total workforce. Veterans' Affairs had 149 staff in the category, of which 10 per cent had been rated less than effective more than once.

Agriculture and Water Resources had 173 staff found to be under-performing, or 0.92 per cent of its workforce, of which 18.5 per cent were repeat poor performers. The Tax Office had 408 staff in the category, or 0.67 per cent of its workforce, with 7.6 per cent rated ineffective more than once.

The report said performance gaps could be difficult to identify for some of the types of work commonly done within the public service, including in areas of policy development and research. It said some staff took sick leave during performance management processes.

"It is not uncommon for employees undergoing under-performance processes to access certified sick leave as either an avoidance technique or because undergoing the procedure itself can exacerbate underlying medical conditions (particularly mental health conditions) or create stress-related conditions," the report said.

"From the manager's and agency's perspective this results in a drawn-out, complex process with difficult judgements to be made about how to best to progress the case."

Dealing with dud public servants isn't a new challenge for government.

A 1920 royal commission report held by the National Archives found "manifestly incompetent" bureaucrats who had been hanging around for years were next to impossible to dislodge from their jobs, labelling them "decent duffers".

The report, tabled in Parliament this week, warned some public servants identified for performance management took advantage of official processes, "including making allegations of bullying and harassment against their manager".

"Under-performance is generally not effectively dealt with in performance management processes, including during the probation period in most agencies, and structured under-performance processes have been infrequently used."

Senior managers had often avoided addressing staff under-performance because of a lack of incentives, support and their own capability.

Despite being common across the public service, the report said probation periods were generally not used "to robustly test the suitability of newly appointed employees", other than at the ATO and the Film and Sound Archive.

The report said the causes of under-performance included personal problems, physical and mental health issues, misconduct including minor absenteeism or behavioural issues, ineffective training and recruitment processes that fail to identify candidates with the capabilities for the job.

"Most agencies could streamline their underperformance procedures to remove repetition and prescription while still ensuring procedural fairness, although provisions in three agencies' enterprise agreements restrict flexibility in this regard.

"In addition, some agency procedures contain requirements that are in excess of those required by legislation or regulation for senior executive service or non-ongoing employees. Not all agencies have transparent procedures for their senior executive service employees, and probation procedures could be improved in all eight agencies," the report said.

Former employment minister Eric Abetz said slack public servants were wasting taxpayer funds and departmental bosses needed to take action.

"Taxpayers expect the public service to be lean, efficient and focused on delivery – not to allow for professional slackers who have turned underperformance into a victimhood industry at huge expense to the taxpayer," the Liberal senator said.

"Instead of this 'job for life' mentality that exists in many APS agencies, the public service should be refocused to become outcomes based and see underperformers managed more effectively – including a preparedness to let staff go."


A shocking government hospital

Night nurses at a Lismore hospital where a NSW mother died of shocking neglect regularly drugged patients, falsified observation checks, played computer games or slept to pass the time on their shifts, a former nurse at the facility has explosively claimed.

The whistle-blower, who did not want to give her real name for fear of retribution, told the horrific treatment in Lismore Base Hospital's Adult Mental Health Unit that resulted in Miriam Merten's death on June 3, 2014 was far from an isolated incident during her time working there due to corner cutting and inappropriate practices among some nurses.

Northern NSW Local Health District has confirmed to that four inpatients died at the facility between 2005 and 2013.

Ms Merten, who was drugged and stripped naked, died eight days after being admitted as an inpatient to the AMHU in mid-2014, court documents revealed.

A coroner's report, dated September 2016, found she died from "traumatic and hypoxic brain injury caused by numerous falls and the self-beatings of her head ... not done with the intention to taking her own life".

Ms Merten died as a result of "about 24" falls she had while locked alone in a seclusion room, according to documents published in the occupational division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The seclusion room, which is three by four metres in dimension, held no furniture except for a mattress on the floor.

Her tragic passing is now the centre of disciplinary proceedings brought by the Health Care Complaints Commission against Christine Borthistle, a former senior nurse at AMHU who was rostered on the nights of the first and second of June. The public release of the court documents and CCTV of Ms Merten's final fatal fall from inside AMHU have also sparked two government-backed reviews.

"(Miriam) used to bang her head from migraines", the former sister said, who told she had spent years caring for Ms Merten at AMHU.

Court documents revealed Ms Merten was admitted to AMHU 58 times between 1990 until mid-2014.

"Miriam was never violent. She was just delirious,” the former night nurse said. “I loved her dearly. All she ever wanted was a cup of tea. I was horrified (by her death). I don't think she should have died. It could have been prevented if she had been given a little bit of compassion instead of being manhandled."

The whistleblower quit her almost decade-long post with AMHU in disgust well before Ms Merten's death – so is unable to comment on whether practices have changed in recent years.

She said she left after being "burnt out fighting the system" when her countless complaints about patient neglect and work protocol abuses fell on deaf ears.

She said she worked with nurse Borthistle and was told about the night Ms Merten died.

"Obviously (Borthistle) had a shocking night. She was a good nurse but she had no experience," the whistleblower said, explaining that Borthistle had 40-years experience but no professional training dealing with mental health patients.

The whistleblower confirmed Borthistle died just days before the findings of the tribunal's disciplinary proceedings.

On April 12, the tribunal banned Borthistle from, but not limited to, providing services as an assistant in nursing and mental health services.

The whistleblower said the fears Ms Merten's family expressed that her tragic death was not an isolated incident are “sadly true”. She remembers at least 30 to 40 patients who were drugged, stripped naked and locked for hours in the seclusion cell like Ms Merten.

"If we couldn't get them (patients) to sleep and they were screaming like hell you'd chuck them in the single room; in the cell," she said.

"I was told don't go in there to do hourly checks because, 'You might wake them up'. The priority was to mop up the shit and forget about your patient."

The nurse, who had 38 years of psychiatric nursing experience, described AMHU as being "a jail" and said patients would be left for days in the clothes they arrived in or stripped naked if no hospital clothes were available.

"(The hospital) provided PJs but there was always a shortage of PJs and the girls had to have doctor's gowns. They'd walk around in Hepatitis C clothes until the nurses did the washing for them," she said.

She said she was aware of some patients who were "locked up" for almost three years and witnessed four patients die in AMHU – two deaths and two suicides. She added that at least one of the deaths occurred while the patient was in the seclusion cell.

"I've seen patients in the cell for two weeks and they were bad. That was the only way we could contain them. We've found broken teeth. Not false teeth, but real teeth," she said.

As well as locking up patients, the whistle-blower said it was common practice for nurses, particular those rostered on the night shift, to lie about completing rounds to check on patients and rely on the "nurses upper hand" – topping up their medication.

She said some nurses would sit behind the Perspex-screened room of the nurses' station - which was the size of a double bed - and just "tick, tick, tick" the five hour rounds as completed on the paper in front of them. Asked how she knew this, she admitted: "I did it too."

She said night duty staff get "the best shifts" as there is no management around and so got away with anything. She said it was common place for night shift nurses to "tranquilise" patients to get them to sleep long enough to be awoken just as the morning nurses arrived.

She said, sadly such doping seemed necessary as some patients were extremely violent and staffing levels would mean you couldn't check on patients if there weren't two nurses awake at the same time. However, she said it wouldn't work on every patient.

"Miriam was a case where you couldn't. She had a tolerance, she'd walk through it," she said.

As well as failing to check on patients, some night nurses would ignore patients who stood before them banging on the Perspex glass. These nurses were known as "office sitters" among other staff.

"Night nurses just used to sit on their bum … and play computer games. It was like (they were) playing poker machines," she said.

One NSW mother, who spoke to on the condition of anonymity, said she had witnessed firsthand the cruelty and abuse of the AMHU nurses when her son was admitted as a patient 18 months ago.

She claims her son received nearly "non-existent care" during his month-long stint at AMHU and the abuse from nurse staff was so concerning she has made two formal complaints to the Lismore Base Hospital. She is yet to receive a response past the hospital's initial automated email.

"He was in there about three-and-a-half weeks a month. He had no support whatsoever," she said.

"His girlfriend came to visit and he was treated deplorably and made fun of by staff. He was abused whilst she was there."

She claims one time during a visit with her son she tried to initiate a conversation with one of the registered nurses over concerns she had that they were planning to release him too soon. She claims she was abruptly rebutted by the nurse who claimed AMHU "is not a motel".

"The behaviour is so bad that sometimes you're speechless," she said.

"They are more interested in being on social media or on eBay than they are in the patients anyway shape or form. They don't even care from a human perspective. They just treat the patients with contempt and laughter."

She also claimed one of her sons was left with a broken mobile phone after he threatened to show a photo he'd taken of a nurse on eBay during a shift to the hospital CEO. She says her son's phone was confiscated by staff and returned smashed.

"So many times I complained and I asked questions and they don't want you to ask questions. It just boggles my mind, it really does. It makes me sick to the stomach," she said.

"Even in a jail if you needed immediate first aid, you'd get that I'm sure."

Chief Executive of Northern NSW Health District Wayne Jones told that data showed four inpatient deaths had occurred in the Lismore Mental Health Unit between 2005 and 2013.

"Unfortunately, Mental Health units can experience incidences of patient death, either through medical emergencies or self-harm," Mr Jones said.

"Any unexpected patient death is investigated through internal review and referred to the NSW Coroner.

"The use of seclusion for patients in Mental Health facilities in NSW is always a last resort and only used where clinically necessary.

"The seclusion rate for patients at Lismore in 2016 was on average 8.1 episodes per 1,000 bed days."

Mr Jones said Mental Health Services at Lismore Base Hospital had more than halved the patient seclusion rate in the last five years.

"The treatment Ms Merten received was unacceptable. The Northern NSW Local Health District took immediate steps following this tragic incident," Mr Jones said.

"The LHD also reinforced that staff at the Lismore Adult Mental Health Unit must adhere to NSW Health protocols on the use of seclusion and treatment of patients.

"The Northern NSW LHD welcomes the mental health review announced today and we will be working with the independent expert panel during its investigation."


New maps show the risk of sea level rises to Australian cities

Another Greenie prophecy that will fail like all others before it

SAY sayonara to Sydney airport, farewell to Fremantle and bye to Byron Bay.

A series of maps has graphically illustrated how Australia could be affected by climate change and rising sea levels. And it looks like many of our major towns and cities could be getting a lot soggier.

Hobart Airport would be underwater, Melbourne’s Southbank submerged and the WACA in Perth would be inundated.

Famous sea side resorts like Byron Bay, Port Douglas, Noosa and the Gold Coast are in danger of seeing the sea get a whole lot closer for comfort.

A climate expert has said rising sea levels globally could displace “tens of millions of people”.

The new maps come from Costal Risk Australia run by Western Australia business management consultants NGIS. The data is fished from the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA to show which areas will be at risk from a “business as usual” scenario of a 2 metre sea-level rise by 2100.

Just by putting in your suburb name into the Coastal Risk Australia, you can see if you area is at risk of flooding.

Website co-creator Nathan Eaton said that with more than 80 per cent of Australians living near the coast, it was critical for people to appreciate what rising sea levels in the decades to come could mean for their communities.

However, in some areas its likely even a 2 metre sea rise will be surpassed. Climate scientists have pointed to parts of northern and Western Australia where rises could be higher.

The Torres Strait Islands have experienced regular king tides, an area which rarely got any of the monster tides in the past.

Professor John Church from the University of NSW’S Climate Change Research Centre said flooding to the measure forecast would cause catastrophic problems for many Australians.

“With business as usual emissions, the questions are when, rather than if, we will cross a 2 metre sea level rise,” he told Fairfax. “This scenario would result in major catastrophes and displace many tens of millions of people around the world.”

One of the worst affected areas would be Cairns with vast tracts of the city’s CBD and suburbs at risk from rising sea levels.

But Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said he wasn’t going to lose any sleep over the maps. He said claims Cairns could be under the ocean by the end of the century were “outlandish”.

“I’m someone who takes environmental issues very seriously,” he told the Cairns Post. “But if we’re going to run around every day because some group comes up with some wild or outlandish or extreme prognosis — and we don’t have any verification on it — then we’ll just spend the next so many years going crazy.”

He said the decisions made by the council were based on the “best scientific evidence we’ve got” and that the city worked with the Local Government Association of Queensland’s sea-level adaptation unit.

Earlier this month, climate scientists at the University of Melbourne warned an agreement reached in Paris to hold global average temperatures rise to under 2C above pre industrial levels would inevitably fail.

Last week, US researchers said sea levels driven by global warming were on track to dramatically boost the frequency of coastal flooding worldwide by mid-century, especially in tropical regions.

A 10 -20cm jump in the global ocean watermark by 2050 — a conservative forecast — would double flood risk in high-latitude regions, they reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

Major centres such as Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with the European Atlantic coast, would be highly exposed, they found.

But it would only take half as big a jump in ocean levels to double the number of serious flooding incidents in the tropics, including along highly populated river deltas in Asia and Africa.

Even at the low end of this sea rise spectrum, Mumbai, Kochi and Abidjan and many other cities would be significantly affected.

“We are 95 per cent confident that an added 5 — 10 centimetres will more than double the frequency of flooding in the tropics,” lead author Sean Vitousek, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told AFP.


Woof! Peer review in action

MOVE aside quokkas and black swans, Perth is now home to the world’s smartest dog, at least on paper.

Local “academic” Dr Olivia Doll — also known as Staffordshire terrier Ollie — sits on the editorial boards of seven international medical journals and has just been asked to review a research paper on the management of tumours.

Her impressive curriculum vitae lists her current role as senior lecturer at the Subiaco College of Veterinary Science and past associate of the Shenton Park Institute for Canine Refuge Studies — which is code for her earlier life in the dog refuge.

Ollie’s owner, veteran public health expert Mike Daube, decided to test how carefully some journals scrutinised their editorial reviewers, by inventing Dr Doll and making up her credentials.

The five-year-old pooch has managed to dupe a range of publications specialising in drug abuse, psychiatry and respiratory medicine into appointing her to their editorial boards.

Dr Doll has even been fast-tracked to the position of associate editor of the Global Journal of Addiction and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Several journals have published on their websites a supplied photo of Dr Doll, which is actually of a bespectacled Kylie Minogue.

Professor Daube said none of them smelt a rat, despite Dr Doll’s listed research interests in “the benefits of abdominal massage for medium-sized canines” and “the role of domestic canines in promoting optimal mental health in ageing males”.

Today Ollie is being featured in a more reputable publication, the Medical Journal of Australia’s Insight magazine, which is looking at the surge in journals which charge desperate would-be researchers up to $3000 to get their studies published.

“While this started as something lighthearted, I think it is important to expose shams of this kind which prey on the gullible, especially young or naive academics and those from developing countries,” Professor Daube said.

He said the authors would be gutted to know their papers were being reviewed by a dog, who often needed to be offered a treat before she dragged herself in front of the laptop. “It gives all researchers paws for thought,” Professor Daube said.

Dr Doll refused to comment unless she was taken for walkies.


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