Monday, May 15, 2017

Is Mark Latham angry because of his own humble background?  Do his anti-elite barbs reveal his pain of being an outsider?

Rick Morton says below that coming from a poor background has marked him and he thinks Mark Latham's similar background accounts for his angry rants.  It's a conventional explanation but may be wrong. 

I too come from a poor background but am a positive, contented person.  I also sailed to the top of the socio-economic tree quite quickly and effortlessly and regard my life as a blessed one: No anger or resentment there at all, no consciousness of obstacles.

Latham too sailed to the top of his tree quite quickly and effortlessly so I think my experience might be quite a good simile for his life.  I sailed to the top of the education tree by becoming a university lecturer while Latham climbed to the top of the political tree by becoming the Federal parliamentary leader of the ALP. Neither of us have any grounds for resentment about our progression through life.

So I rather see Latham's utterances as the work of a commendably honest but temperamentally aggressive man.  There is no need to invoke his childhood to explain his actions.  It seems clear that Rick Morton dislikes what Latham says and it is an old tactic to attack disagreements by demeaning one's opponents.  It's called "ad hominem" argument and I cannot see that Morton's article is anything more than that. It is a purely speculative attempt to "psychologize" Latham in order to discredit his arguments.

A man with a parliamentary pension of $80,000 a year called me elite this week, just over a decade since I took a half-eaten chicken from outside a stranger’s hotel room because I had no money for food. Now it is possible I achieved this mythical elite status in the intervening years; I am writing this column. But my assailant is a Well Known Commentator whose only stumbling block in his many well-paid media gigs is that he holds on to them like a man in a greasy pig competition.

I do understand where he is coming from, however, having grown up in similar circumstances. Mum raised me and my two siblings on her own while working for meagre pay. Our father paid $21 a month child support for most of that time. Were it not for the local Catholic Church and its community, we would have had more than one desolate Christmas.

This man, whose father died when he was a teenager, became mayor at 30 and leader of the ALP before losing an election. His wife is a lawyer. He breeds racehorses for fun. None of these are bad things, unless you’ve glazed your persona in the resentment of never fitting into the class you’ve now belonged to for decades.

What commentators — well-read, well-connected — never disclose is that elitism is built on cultural capital. Not just the big stuff, either. By the time I’d finished high school I had read only three classics. I never finished Pride and Prejudice, as mandated, but nailed the essay based on the four-hour BBC drama. I knew of some artworks, but only by indirect means. Whistler’s Mother was famous, I knew, because Mr Bean ruined it in a movie. I saw a few foreign-language films on SBS, but only because we had dial-up internet and I stayed up late to see naked people. Such were the times.

We laugh, but there is an acute shame in all of this. I won a scholarship to a private univer­sity, about which I cared little, but it came with a newspaper cadetship so I went. During one of the valedictory speeches I listened to a student give a speech in which he lamented the rise of scholarships “diluting the elite status of the university” for the full-fee paying among them.

I cried when, in my late teens, I sat next to some of these students at a teppanyaki restaurant during an official function and went hungry because I did not know how to use the chopsticks and was too embarrassed to ask. Days before, I’d never even heard of such a restaurant.

It’s enough to make a man angry, I get it.

My provocateur must have known this feeling. It has riled him for decades. I suspect not, however, out of concern for the millions of other Australians to whom this continues to happen but on account of his own wounds, which have festered.

Both Mark Latham and I made it out of this milieu, whether he wants to admit it or not, though I remain tethered to it in weekly battles to support Mum through the drug addiction of a very close family member that has raged for years. I have feared for her safety more often than I care to think about. None of us has the resources or social leverage to even start an intervention, let alone make rehab work.

There is a certain access that comes to being in the media, though nothing of the sort the anti-elites would have you believe. It is true that when Mum feared our relative had been involved in a serious car accident I called police media to get some basic details and put her mind at ease. It wasn’t him. I did not feel elite.

This is the “real Australia” the commentators claim to represent, though of course they do not. They peer in, as if through a window at a zoo, and sketch clownish caricatures of our lives. I use my experience only because I know it, though there are many whose experiences outside mainstream politics and power deserve to be captured in minutiae instead of airbrushed by pointless slogans.

But I get it, the residual hurt and anger. I know the fissures outsiderism can leave on the soul, particularly when you’ve wanted to belong somewhere but end up between the start and the finish. Even now, I find myself wondering if this might have been more powerfully argued, more eloquently put, if I’d known more people who’d read the right books when I was younger.


Sydney teacher says Muslim pupils as young as 10 wore ISIS shirts to school, waved terrorist flags and circled around her reciting the Koran

A primary school teacher in Sydney's west has spoken of how radicalised Muslim boys wore ISIS shirts to class and circled around her menacingly reciting the Koran.

The woman, known by the pseudonym of Mrs A, told former federal Labor leader Mark Latham about the horror of being intimidated by students aged between 10 and 13.

'I had students coming into class flying flags from overseas, be it the Syrian flag and possibly the ISIS flag. It looked to me like the ISIS flag,' she told the Mark Latham Outsiders program.

'There was one occasion where a couple of boys had come to school wearing T-shirts that appeared to have the ISIS flag wording.'

Former federal Labor leader Mark Latham interviewed the teacher about school radicalisation

On another occasion, a group of students circled her against a wall and began reciting the Koran, she claimed.

'That was quite scary and it wasn’t only scary for me but it was also quite intimidating for the other students,' she said.

'The other students were quite frightened, non-Islamic and Islamic students.’

The incidents, involving students in Years 5 and 6, occurred in 2014 as ISIS gained territory in Iraq and Syria.

The teacher, who has taught in the same area for the past decade, also endured students making threats to her with throat slitting gestures.

'Sometimes they would even make comments, "I can do this to you",' she said, demonstrating the intimidating finger movement.

She added that some students would 'constantly make threats to behead' her in class.

A spokesman for the Department of Education confirmed to Daily Mail Australia on Thursday the incidents she described had taken place.

The teacher said the students' behaviour worsened after they had watched the ABC's children's current affairs program Behind The News.

'We would watch some programs at school, one of them being the ABC Behind The News program, which tended to have a bit of a sympathetic voice towards ISIS,' she said.

'If there was a segment about ISIS, or something to do with Islam, their behaviour seemed to have heightened. So I actually stopped watching it altogether.'

However, an ABC spokesman denounced the claim about Behind The News. 'Any such claim would be nonsensical and offensive,' he told Daily Mail Australia.


Wood heating contributes to worsening air quality in Melbourne

People are forced to heat their homes in a way they know causes air pollution but are forced to by the high cost of Federal & State climate policies

On Friday morning, air quality tracker AirVisualEarth showed that Melbourne's PM2.5 levels (smoke particles) were higher than those in Shanghai, China.

The EPA issued the warning, saying there would be poor air quality in  with a band of haze over parts of Geelong, Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley.

People at risk include those over 65, children 14 years and younger, pregnant women and those with existing heart or lung conditions. People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan, the EPA said. It warned those at risk to reduce prolonged or heavy physical activity and, where possible, limit the time spent outdoors.

EPA group manager of applied sciences Dr Anthony Boxshall said the plummet in air quality was a result of combination of factors including current weather conditions and an increase in people sparking up wood fire heaters due to the chilly weather.

Stable weather conditions, namely a lack of wind, has resulted in a build-up of PM2.5 in the atmosphere, Dr Boxshall said.

"Our environmental conditions are a combination of everything the environment throws at us and what we throw at the environment," he said.

"Any city produces pollution from cars, factories, homes, trucks and open fires... but we are not seeing any unusual increase in pollution it's the weather system, including the stillness of climate conditions, which are causing the changes in air quality."

In Victoria in November nine people died and thousands were hospitalised due to the world's worst recorded thunderstorm asthma event.

However, Dr Boxshall said this weekend's conditions were completely different to thunderstorm asthma.

"Thunderstorm asthma was pollen which of course isn't a pollutant it's a naturally occurring event this is way less dramatic than that," he said. "That event was an unprecedented and unusual event."

"But we still urge asthmatics to be vigilant and and follow their asthma management plan."

Dr Boxshall added health authorities and hospitals had so far not recorded an increase in people presenting with respiratory problems.  

However, smoke from household wood heaters, motor vehicles and other urban sources have worsened conditions.

PM2.5 particles are tiny fragments, which are up to 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

The EPA has advised anyone with a heart or lung condition to take their medication as prescribed by their doctor.


Controversial bid to have gender-neutral bathrooms added to all Australian Federal Government buildings

Government branches will be introducing gender-neutral bathrooms following a push for equality from the Public Service Commission.

The liberal notion to include gender-neutral bathrooms is making a push in the nation's capital in Canberra, but some conservative MP's want to flush the idea, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Conservative MP's have labelled the move as potentially 'uncomfortable' for workers but it hasn't stopped The Department of Environment and Energy implementing the move in Canberra.

The bathrooms have been slammed by some MP's claiming the extra money needed to install the 'inclusive' bathrooms could go to better use.

'This is just the latest example of the public service going into political correctness overdrive at taxpayers' expense,' Conservative Liberal senator Eric Abetz told the publication.

'Most Australians would expect the Treasury of all departments to focus on bringing down the debt, not finding creative ways of increasing expenditure within its own department.

In a further move to show the commitment to the controversial move the Treasury building will have the inclusive bathrooms installed.

The introduction of gender-neutral bathrooms won't be forced onto government departments, however they will be encouraged.

'Toilets that are specifically reserved as gender-neutral are not part of the scope of work for the Treasury building refit that is currently underway,' a spokesperson for the Australian Public Service Commission told the publication.


Senior cop says QPS 'failing Queensland'

A SENIOR officer has called for a sweeping inquiry into the Queensland Police Service, saying gross management failures have left criminals laughing and police too scared to do their jobs.

Senior Sergeant Phil Notaro has apologised to Queenslanders, saying the police service is failing them but managers, not officers on the beat, are to blame.

He says morale in the service is lower now than during the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and it’s time the government opened a broad-ranging inquiry to stop the rot coming from the top down.

“I think we need an inquiry into mismanagement by the QPS hierarchy. The leaders of the organisation have to be held accountable, because we are failing the people of Queensland,” Snr Sgt Notaro writes in the Queensland Police Union journal.

He said a restructure of the service had been a dismal failure and had not achieved any of its objectives.

“What were once police districts with a District officer have now become merely patrol groups that are totally leaderless. The bosses have lost contact with the frontline,” he wrote.

He says the restructure’s only success was to save the government money, after more than 100 experienced officers took redundancy packages. Snr Sgt Notaro also savaged Queensland’s pursuit policy, saying it’s given criminals “a green light to do what they please when they please without fear of retribution”.

Asked about the stinging criticism, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the restructure referred to by Snr Sgt Notaro happened under the former state government.

“I think if he does have those concerns, he should refer them to the CCC (Crime and Corruption Commission Queensland),” the premier told the Nine Network.

“I’ve been right across this state speaking to police officers and honestly, they have had a lot of opportunities to speak to me about that if that was their concern.”

Snr Sgt Notaro’s comments echo those of the Queensland Police Union, which has railed against the no-pursuits policy, claiming it has made Queensland roads more dangerous.

“The current no-pursuits policy in Queensland has been a complete disaster. Police are no longer allowed to pursue offenders which means criminals have the green light to run from police,” acting union president Shayne Maxwell said in January.

Snr Sgt Notaro also attacked the police service’s discipline system, saying it can take up to four years to resolve cases against officers.

Police don’t have enough vehicles, and a crackdown on access to information, led by Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, was seeing police charged with offences such as computer hacking, he said.  “We are now told we should not be curious. Every check we do may be scrutinised,” he said.

Snr Sgt Notaro said police were frustrated and too scared to do their job. “All I can say to the people of Queensland is ‘sorry’. We at the coal face are doing all we can. We at the union are doing all we can. But someone needs to be held accountable,” he wrote.

“I don’t see there is any choice (but to hold another inquiry). The QPS has been mismanaged and it’s falling down around 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

14 May, 2017

Move to decriminalise abortion in New South Wales voted down

Various legal decisions, such as the one in the Heatherbrae case have meant that abortion is effectively legal in NSW -- so this move was largely symbolic

A proposal to decriminalise abortion has been voted down in the New South Wales parliament.

Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi’s abortion law reform bill was defeated 25 to 14 in the state parliament’s upper house on Thursday. Public members in the gallery shouted “shame” as the result of the conscience vote was announced in the state’s legislative council.

The defeat means that abortion will remain an offence in the NSW Crimes Act, and unlawfully procuring abortion will continue to be punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment under the act.

Unlawfully supplying a drug or instrument for an abortion will also continue to be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

Abortions in NSW are currently made legal by an interpretation of the Crimes Act by the NSW district court in 1971. That interpretation, known as the Levine ruling, allows doctors to approve an abortion if a woman’s physical or mental health is in danger, and taking into account social, economic or other medical factors.

Proponents of reform said the current situation created considerable uncertainty for doctors and women, stigmatised abortion, and was archaic.

But the Catholic church mobilised in opposition to Faruqi’s bill, led by Sydney archbishop, Anthony Fisher. “Archbishop Fisher has asked all Catholics in Sydney and others of goodwill to defend life by giving a voice to unborn and signing a petition to the NSW members of parliament,” a statement on the archdiocese’s website said last month.

The Greens’ bill had the support of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Marie Stopes, Family Planning NSW and many other groups.

The ACT has decriminalised abortion completely and Tasmania and Victoria have also successfully pursued abortion law reform.

But similar attempts in Queensland ran into difficulty and were delayed earlier this year, following opposition from the state’s Liberal National party.


Customer given 'racist' receipt in Australian restaurant

Waiters sometimes put notes on an order to help identify the customer when it comes time to bring the food out.  Such notes should be erased before the docket is printed but slipups do  occur

An African Australian man received a personal apology from chef Neil Perry this morning after finding a derogatory term on his receipt from a Melbourne burger restaurant.

Nicholas Muchinguri posted a photo of the Burger Project receipt, which labelled the order “#16: N----s”, to social media, slamming it as “totally disgusting in this day and age”.

The parent company Rockpool Dining Group issued an apology on its Facebook page last night, confirming the employee had been terminated and claiming the company had apologised.

“Rockpool Dining Group is a caring and inclusive company. We have a clear policy of respect and care for our customers, staff and community… This is why the behaviour of one employee is so disappointing,” the statement said.

“As soon as we became aware of the matter this afternoon, when we were contacted on behalf the customer, we acted: we reached out and apologised and the employee’s position was terminated.

“The employee’s behaviour was in breach of our code of conduct and such behaviour won’t be tolerated. We apologise profusely for the upset and hurt this has caused,” the company said.


Anti-Islam candidate claims discrimination

The founder of a controversial anti-Islam party wants the operators and venue manager of a Queensland pub to undergo "anti-discrimination training" after barring her from the site, tribunal documents reveal.

Love Australia Or Leave Party founder Kim Vuga, a grandmother who rose to prominence after starring on SBS program Go Back To Where You Came From, made headlines when she and her members were blocked from meeting at the Beach House Hotel in Hervey Bay in April 2016.

The stoush has now made its way to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, with Ms Vuga claiming she was discriminated against because of her political beliefs and seeking orders including a public apology in writing, as well as "anti-discrimination training" for the pub's operators and venue manager.


Free speech the loser in Australia's defamation bonanza

Australia's punishing defamation laws have made Sydney the libel capital of the world, and people posting on Facebook and in blogs are the latest target for expensive legal action and threats.

But the number of matters reaching court are a small proportion of total writs served, with most cases settled in advance to avoid the cost of a trial.

Sydney's role as "defamation capital" is "a matter of public record," said NSW Judge Judith Gibson, who compiles the details of all defamation cases in Australia for legal publication LexisNexis.

The Australian defamation law was passed in 2005, and to the end of last year, there were 72 trials in NSW compared to 21 in Queensland and 19 in Victoria, she wrote in Defamation Case Law Analysis and Statistics.

London was traditionally considered the libel capital of the world, with its strict defamation laws, but the number of actions there has fallen quickly in recent years. Legislation introduced in 2013 has made it more difficult to sue and has limited damages.

"A more plausible candidate for the international title might be Sydney," wrote British libel expert Hugh Tomlinson.

"Although the population of NSW is just over seven million it appears to have similar numbers of libel cases to the whole of England and Wales with nearly eight times the population."

Judge Gibson wrote that a growing problem was that "claims based on publications on the internet, emails and on social media, are now far more common than claims against traditional media defendants".

That means ordinary people increasingly find themselves defending defamation actions in court, often representing themselves in a complex and expensive area of law. In NSW, there is no limit on how much money the court can order in costs to the winner of a defamation complaint.

Defending a court action for defamation cost between about $100,000 and $1.1 million, which far exceeds the legislated maximum damages of $381,000, the figures show.

Damages can also be substantial. A WA court last year awarded the largest ever Australian payout in a defamation case brought by three people against a blogger (described as a troll), Terence McLernon, of $700,000.

Australia's Uniform Defamation Act was last amended in 2005, and does not differentiate between publishing by a media company or an individual, and makes no mention of internet, print or social media publication.

In fact, under the law it is unclear who the publisher is of a post on social media.

The law says there is a time limit of 12 months for someone to take legal action for defamation, but the High Court has ruled that each new download from the internet can be considered a fresh publication. This it means there is effectively no time limit on suing over something published online.

Defamation lawyer Matt Collins, QC, said Australia's laws were now "a Frankenstein's monster" of rules and exclusions, and prevented good journalism from investigative reporters.

"There are important, high-profile stories that don't get told because of the chilling effect of defamation law, and the high cost of actions".

Dr Collins said the law needed urgent change

Fairfax Media lawyer Richard Coleman said only about 10 to 15 per cent of defamation claims made against the media organisation, publisher of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, ever made it to court.

Many are settled for undisclosed sums because taking cases to court is so expensive.

Richard Ackland of the Gazette of Law and Journalism, described it as "a racket".

"You start sending nasty letters and pleadings to newspaper lawyers and they respond 'how much is this going to cost'?"

However, the issue of defamation law is not on the political agenda, and even Australian politicians who have cited free speech when arguing for amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act have used the defamation law to sue or threaten people who criticise them.


Education’s biggest trend: Why home taught kids are doing better

IT’S arguably the biggest trend in education and even teachers are shocked.

Home educated kids are outperforming their mainstream counterparts in just about every area, according to NAPLAN results and other studies. And more and more Aussie parents are taking their kids out of school.

No one is more surprised than Dr Rebecca English, from the Queensland University of Technology.

“I’m a teacher of two decades standing and I assumed that teachers knew better than parents how to teach.”

The shock for Dr English was to learn that lots of parents are doing better than teachers at educating children. This was “because of their ability to be able to individuate, and to draw on an incredible knowledge of what all parents know about their children’s likes”.

Home educator and casual high-school teacher Myfanwy Dibben says one of the reasons parents are taking their kids out of school is that teachers are not respected by parents or their students, which is leading to chaotic classrooms where teachers are often making children copy from the board because nothing else is possible.

Myf has been educating her 10-year-old daughter, Pi, for five years because of “the disengagement and disruptive environment of schools”.

Statistics are hard to come by, largely because most home educators are technically doing it illegally rather than face the invasive task of registering. Although only 14,510 students were registered as home educated in 2015, estimates of the actual number range from 25,000 to 55,000.

“This means three or four per cent of the population have been home schooled, Stuart Chapman, CEO of Christian based Homeschool WA, says.

“That’s almost mainstream. It is the fastest growing educational demographic in the country.”

But not everyone agrees. “It is still a tiny number of kids who are home schooled,” CEO of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Lisa Rogers said.

“I don’t have a problem with home schooling but it is a tough job. It’s highly unlikely that kids have parents who are able to teach the specialist content across all the curriculum domains,” she said.

“It’s a trade-off. It’s difficult for parents to deliver a quality education in terms of curriculum outcomes, but school isn’t just about curriculum content.”

And of course, not all parents can afford, nor have the desire to stay home and teach their kids.


There are three types of home educators: religious, libertarian and accidental teachers, whose children might have been bullied, have special needs or don’t fit for another reason.

Anita Webster* began teaching her two boys, Josh*, 12, and Lewis*, 10, at home this year. Josh, who is autistic, was bullied by his teacher. Josh’s desk was his special place but his teacher dumped everything from papers to a fish tank on it and eventually removed it so Josh was forced to sit on the floor by himself.

Anita says, “There was no safe space for Josh at his school, symbolically and in reality.”

“They’re focused on outcomes so the real needs of the students get lost.”

The experience has led Anita, who is an occupational therapist (OT), to “rethink OT”.

“I have realised that most of what we do as professional OTs is try to get children to go to school. That’s ridiculous. We should be asking what the best schooling option is for each child.”

Triana Parry was motivated to home educate a decade ago when her son’s local Steiner school in the Southern Highlands of NSW closed down but she had always liked the idea of home education.

Her son Kiahl, 17, has since entered the workforce and her two daughters, Elinor, 14, and Freya, 10, both elite ballerinas, “have totally thrived in a home school environment”.

The sisters have both trained with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia, a rare honour for a non-Russian.

Elinor is the youngest in her Bolshoi Academy class, by years, and plans to complete advanced diplomas in dance. Freya accompanied her sister and mother to Russia and, after impulsively auditioning, was accepted and spent a fortnight training with the Bolshoi dancers.

Triana, a music teacher, is able to integrate her daughters’ love of dancing into their curriculum. ”Being able to follow your children’s passions is really important,” she said.

This flexibility is the most important aspect of home education for Elinor and Freya. “If Freya isn’t able to move she can’t sit and focus,” Triana said. This is an issue many teachers would either not notice or be unable to address.

“Teachers are passionate about what they do but their students are not their children,” Triana explained. “Parents have a much deeper understanding of their needs.“


A lack of socialisation is often the main criticism of home educators, but these parents disagree.

“The impression of socialisation being a problem for home educators came about because of Christian minority groups keeping to themselves. In reality it has never been a problem,” says Myf.

“The issue is fitting it all in,” Triana says. Her children made lasting friendships through after-school activities, home-education gatherings and holiday workshops. “I just make sure I always get phone numbers.”

Myf’s home education network meets for three hours a week to, for instance, present science projects or refine circus skills.


Stuart Chapman, a former pastor, and his wife home educated their five children for 18 years. Three went to university to pursue professions. Two became tradies.

The Chapmans began home educating as there was no Christian school in the country WA town where they lived. “Most people’s reasoning for home schooling is multifaceted,” Stuart said.

“We didn’t want to have children to give them away for the best part of the day,” he said.

Stuart has observed numerous changes since he began home educating. “There is a stereotype. It used to be the Christian fundamentalist. Now it’s much more likely to be the child who is bullied or withdrawn,” he said.

Stuart maintains bullying is the single biggest reason for home educating. “But the big market nowadays is what I call crisis enrolment. This includes student refusals and special needs, particularly autism.”

“Schools do achieve their Number one aim, which is to enable parents to have two jobs and not look after their children,” he said.

Myf agrees.

“ It’s never been easier to home educate your child,” she said.

“Quite frankly the education ministers should be coming to home educators to find out what to do. We’re the innovators.”


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

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