Friday, May 05, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is flabbergasted by certain recent news

The horrors of being a customer of Optus Australia

I have just updated my Optus blog.  It's amazing how constant the complaints about them are.  I think anybody reading the blog would steer a wide berth of Optus.  I was once a customer of them myself.  No more!

Let’s reflect on Muslim nations’ Christian genocide

Our nation’s newest refugees recently celebrated their first Easter in Australia. It is a momentous ­occasion for those who survived Islamic State’s genocide of Christians and have been given a new life in our country.

Yet many Western nations ­refuse to recognise asylum for Christians fleeing genocide and persecution.

Typically, politicians cite the principle of non-discriminatory immigration to justify policies that result in discrimination against Christian victims of genocide. It is morally reprehensible.

Last year, the US Congress declared that the Islamic State persecution of Christians and other minorities constituted genocide. The term was coined by Raphael Lemkin who recognised the slaughter of Armenians in 1915 as the first genocide of the 20th century. He wrote: “It [genocide] happened to the Armenians and after the Armenians, Hitler took action.”

It is estimated that the Ottomans massacred between 800,000 and 1.5 million Armenians in the genocide, most of whom were Christians. To commemorate its centenary, Pope Francis said: “The first genocide of the 20th century struck your own ­Armenian people, the first Christian nation.”

Turkey’s Islamist government continues to deny the genocide took place.

Western nations bear a special responsibility to shelter Christians fleeing genocide because they ­suffer systemic oppression in many Islamic states.

According to not-for-profit group Open Doors, last year was the worst on record for the persecution of Christians since it began reporting 25 years ago. Each month, an estimated 322 Christians are killed for their faith and 772 suffer serious violence. In ­addition, 214 Christian churches and properties are destroyed.

Of the 10 countries ranked worst for Christian persecution, nine are Muslim majority nations. The other is communist state North Korea.

Islamist persecution of Christians is intensifying in African and Southeast Asian countries. Last year, Boko Haram changed its general strategy from attacking anyone classified as an infidel to targeting Christians. Its new leader, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, aligned the group with Islamic State and vowed to “blow up every Church” and “kill every Christian”.

The Islamist tactics used to ­annihilate Christians extend ­beyond bombs and guns. Muslim organisations in Nigeria that run camps for people displaced by ­Islamic State are reserving aid for Muslims only. Christian Bishop William Naga reported to Open Doors UK that: “They will give food to the refugees, but if you are a Christian they will not give you food. They will openly tell you that the relief is not for Christians.”

Christians are also under threat in Southeast Asia where militant Islamism is on the rise. The trial of Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki Ahok for blasphemy (that is, “insulting” the Koran) is a case in point. On Friday, about 15,000 Muslims marched to demand Ahok be jailed. Associated Press recorded a protester who said: “There’s no room for kaffir to lead in this nation.”

The Hungarian government recognises the persistence of global Christian persecution and the West’s responsibility to become assertive in redressing it. The conservative government led by Viktor Orban reports that four out of five people killed for their faith are Christians. It has responded by establishing the world’s first state department dedicated to addressing Christian persecution.

In Australia, Labor and Greens politicians responded negatively to news that the Liberal Coalition has provided asylum to several thousand Christians fleeing Islamic State genocide in its dedicated program for Syrian refugees. Greens senator Nick McKim created a distinction between selecting on “genuine need” and religion in relation to the Syrian intake, and described the latter as “disgusting”. He might need a briefing on the reality of jihadist genocide.

Labor legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus reportedly “expressed concern about the prospect of persecuted Syrian refugees being selected for resettlement in Australia on the basis of religion”. He stated that more Muslims have been killed in the Middle Eastern conflict than members of any other religion.

Some leftists seem wilfully ignorant about Islamic State’s deliberate genocide of Christians and the systemic persecution of Christian people in Muslim majority nations. Thanks to ignorance, rank immorality, Christophobia or some combination thereof, the Western left has denied fair asylum to Christian victims of jihadist genocide for more than a decade.

Majed El Shafie, the Founder of One Free World International, highlighted the problem with “political correctness” in Canada’s humanitarian programs. He stated that among those accepted as refugees from Iraq and Syria: “Most if not all are Muslim Sunnis.”

Fox News reported that the Obama administration’s Syrian refugee program produced a questionable result. Of the 10,801 refugees accepted from Syria in 2016, almost all — 10,722 — were Muslims. Only 56 were Christians.

NGOs have reported that Christians suffering persecution across the globe face “double discrimination”. They are persecuted for their faith and subsequently experience discrimination in United Nations refugee camps and facilities. The Barnabas Fund charity rescues Christians from Syria and reports they are at risk of violence in “Muslim-majority shelters”.

Catholic Archbishop Jacques Hindo stated that Christians were denied aid in Syria. He told the Vatican’s news service: “We have a hundred Assyrian families who have taken refuge, but they have received no assistance either from the Red Crescent or Syrian government aid workers, perhaps because they are Christians. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is nowhere to be seen.”

In a column for Fox News, Nina Shea, the director of the Hudson Institute Centre for Religious Freedom, relayed that Christians in Lebanon are too afraid to enter UNHCR refugee camps in the ­region. There are many emerging reports of Muslim attacks on Christian asylum seekers in transit to Europe and in refugee camps across the continent.

The refugees who escaped the Islamist genocide of Christians to find safe haven in Australia should be welcomed. The coming Easter ritual focuses on the persecution and crucifixion of the world’s first Christian, Jesus Christ. But it culminates in a celebration of new life on Easter Sunday.

All peoples have experienced the relief of finding the light at the end of the tunnel after a long struggle. But in our time, none have struggled more than those who suffered genocide under ­Islamic State. Make them feel ­welcome this Easter.


Badgerys Creek airport is finally cleared for takeoff

The construction of a second major airport in the Sydney area is imperative not just for the nation’s premier city but for the economic development of the entire country. The existing Kingsford-Smith Airport at Mascot accounts for one in every five aircraft movements in Australia and almost half of the nation’s international arrivals. Demand for aviation services continues to increase. Passenger movements through Kingsford-Smith are projected to rise from 35 million annually now to 77 million by 2035, which would almost double plane movements to 460,000 a year. Under existing legislative and infrastructure constraints all flight slots from 6am until midday and 4pm until 7pm will be filled within three years, and within 10 years there will be no slots available at all, meaning additional capacity can be generated only by allocating larger aircraft.

The consequences of this congestion are substantial, ranging from insatiable demands on road and rail transport servicing the airport to higher airfares, increased delays and lost economic opportunities. This is why the joint study into the airport conducted in 2012 by the Gillard federal Labor government and O’Farrell NSW Coalition government found that even with reforms at Kingsford-Smith and greater use of airports at Newcastle, Canberra, Richmond and Bankstown another major airport was needed. The site at Badgerys Creek stood out as the “best location” after being put aside for that purpose and protected from encroaching development since the late 1980s.

The airport has been a political saga in which infrastructure vision and electoral timidity have had their moments and governments of both stripes at both levels have had their share of both. But in a planning and transport development that will help shape the greater Sydney metropolitan area and the national economy for decades, the right decision eventually has been made. The crucial resource — the land — wisely has been preserved. Badgerys Creek is sufficiently distant from major urban areas to reduce noise and traffic problems yet close enough to the city and major transport links to be viable in commercial and practical terms. It can enhance the job prospects and economic development of the western Sydney region while servicing the needs of national tourism, interstate commuting and airfreight demand in a curfew-free environment. The joint study found the cost of not proceeding with this development would be to reduce the nation’s gross domestic product by about $35 billion in today’s dollars across 50 years while reducing prospective job opportunities by about 78,000 nationally.

For these reasons it is high time and the right decision by Malcolm Turnbull and his government to get cracking on this project. Having announced their decision last year, they gave Sydney Airports Group their contractual right of first refusal, which was declined on the basis that it did not provide adequate return for shareholders. Canberra will now proceed with construction itself, most likely funding it through an off-budget corporation operated on a commercial basis with details to be announced in Scott Morrison’s budget speech. Given the amount of money involved (at least $6bn), a gradual start-up, the expected delay before a profitable return is likely and the airport’s importance for national development, the case for government carriage is strong. Where possible The Australian would like to see infrastructure delivered by private capital, but most of Australia’s airports have been built by governments before being privatised so this model is not new. Public financing will guarantee the development is not delayed any longer and it will ensure the bonus of creating clear competition between Kingsford-Smith and the new airport during its start-up phase and eventually when it is sold or leased to another operator. In other crowded markets such as Britain, competition authorities have forced the breakup of airport monopolies with resultant benefits in traveller costs, transport efficiency and infrastructure investment. So, while Kingsford-Smith will dominate the Sydney and national aviation market for decades to come, we can be assured that from at least 2026 there will be growing competitive pressure in the market, especially for airfreight and budget tourism.

We await next week’s budget for more details; and no government should be given a blank cheque on any infrastructure project, let alone one of this scope. But we welcome the decision to proceed — at last — and recognise that government financing will deliver benefits. Eventually we expect to see a return for taxpayers and advantages for travellers and residents, as well as economic benefits for western Sydney and the nation as a whole. Initially identified three decades ago, Badgerys Creeks is finally cleared for takeoff.


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants overhaul of COAG, says bigger states are 'held hostage'

Creeping centralization of decisions

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for a radical rethink of federal-state relations and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) process during a National Press Club address in Sydney today.

Ms Berejiklian wants fewer items on the COAG agenda and is pushing for states that pursue reforms to be given more freedom on how they deliver their responsibilities.

The Premier said the Commonwealth was the greatest idea of modern Australia, "but is a concept which in practice needs a massive overhaul".

She argued NSW had different challenges to other states and it was increasingly hard to reach consensus positions through COAG that suited everyone in the federation.

"The truth is modern federal-state relations are clunky and now thrive on mediocrity," Ms Berejiklian said.

The Premier said she had been frustrated in ministerial council meetings when the ACT — with a population of 400,000 — had been given an equal voice to a state of 7.7 million.

She argued that the cooperative federalism started by former prime minister Bob Hawke and former NSW premier Nick Greiner 25 years ago had run its course and there were many matters which no longer required a national consensus.

"Too often COAG is a brake on reform, and in some cases a blockage," she said.

Ms Berejiklian said COAG's agenda should be limited to issues that were truly national in their focus and would have a real chance of delivering important reforms quickly.

She wants some of the 45 separate national partnerships and project agreements with the Federal Government torn up or put aside as they are "too complex and in the end there is little ability to enforce the terms of the deals we have agreed".

Instead, she argued for a new approach which rewarded governments which pursued reform.

"For the states that take the lead on reform — asset recycling, deregulation, service innovation — the Federal Government could step back, and allow greater flexibility in how we deliver our responsibilities.

"Today I am saying that we need to have an honest conversation about what works in our federation and what doesn't — and that we need a more flexible approach to deal with increasingly diverse circumstances.

"Let's try it with one state by looking to more bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and a state — and if it can work, then others can choose to embrace it."

Ms Berejiklian said she would put a more detailed proposal to the Commonwealth in the coming months.


Principal of Queensland's 'most overfunded' school hits back at Gonski 2.0

The principal of Queensland's most "overfunded" private school has questioned the speed with which its federal funding will be cut under the Turnbull government's mooted 'Gonski 2.0' changes.

Hillbrook Anglican School in Enoggera charges $11,000 in fees each year, a figure principal Geoff Newton said was "moderate" compared to other, higher-profile private schools.

Hillbrook was identified alongside Cannon Hill Anglican College as the only two Queensland schools deemed likely to face immediate funding cuts in next week's budget. 

Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced on Tuesday that 24 independent schools will have their funding cut next year as part of the new model. Some 350 schools will also receive less federal funding by the end of the decade than they would have under the current formula.

The government has declined to name the schools in question, however Fairfax Media's evaluation of the government's School Resource Standard criteria identified 26 most at risk, which included Hillbrook and Cannon Hill.

"We are taking the difficult decision of cleaning up a system riddled with inconsistencies and ancient sweet heart deals," Senator Birmingham said.

While acknowledging that a needs-based approach to funding was appropriate, Mr Newton said private schools should be given time to adjust their funding.

"If an $11,000 school is called elite and over-funded, this is different from some of the other schools mentioned in that list," Mr Newton said.

"I feel it is a little harsh to expect a funding cut, a freeze would be a much more reasonable compromise for some schools.

"We do 10-year projections on what we are going to do in terms of capital works, fee increases, staffing.

"I would argue for a freeze, which is a zero per cent increase on our current funding and inflation will eat that away."

Under the changes, schools receiving more than 80 per cent of their SRS from the federal government are expected to have their funding brought down over time, while schools exceeding 100 per cent of their SRS will have their funding cut from next year.

Fairfax Media's analysis found HAS was funded at 139 per cent and CHAC at 113 per cent of their SRS.

The Turnbull government has argued it is fundamentally fair to reduce funding for some wealthy schools as the vast majority of schools - around 9000 in total - will be better off than they are now. Most private schools will see their funding rise under the new model.

Grattan Institute School Education Program Director Pete Goss said the announcement was a "brave call... but the right call" and was in keeping with the broad principles of the Gonski Review as set out under the Gillard government.

The cuts come as $2 billion is expected to be injected into next Tuesday's budget for schools over the next four years on top of the $1.2 billion announced in last year's budget.

"Julia Gillard made a politically based decision to say no school would lose a dollar and the way it played out subsequently meant that some of these exemptions continued," Mr Goss said.

"Amazingly under legislation, some over-funded schools would still be over-funded this time next century unless something changed.

"They have been on a good wicket for a long time and every dollar that gets spent in an over-funded school is a dollar that can't be spent in a school that needs it more."

He said the new funding model would provide consistent funding on a needs basis, regardless of which state you were in.

Mr Goss said under the new system Queensland schools would do "reasonably well".

"Queensland I suspect will generally do reasonably well because government schools are not funded close to their target and they should be," he said.

"On average Catholic and independent schools in Queensland are funded just below 95 per cent of their target and on average would need a bit of a lift to get there."

Meanwhile Queensland Labor Education Minister Kate Jones on Wednesday accused her federal counterpart of trying to "trick" and mislead voters about its reforms.

Ms Jones said government schools across the state would be $300 million worse off over 10 years under the Gonski 2.0 changes, in contrast to the $1.43b surplus spruiked by Senator Birmingham.

"What we've seen by Simon Birmingham is an attempt to trick parents and to trick schools," she said in Brisbane.

"He is comparing his deep cuts to his less deep cuts.

"I am comparing it to the real dollars flowing into our schools right now in Queensland that expires at the end of June."

Senator Birmingham said Ms Jones' number-crunching was "curious" because Queensland would receive at least $100 million extra year-on-year over the first four years.

Cannon Hill Anglican College principal Robyn Bell was contacted for comment.


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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