Tuesday, October 31, 2017

More Survey Deception-- About Aboriginal Recognition

Do the results below seem fishy to you?  Do they seem too good to be true?  They are in fact an example of how predictable online polls are.  People who answer online polls are a select bunch and predictably give "do-gooder" answers.  They are NOT representative of the population in general. Results like this are one of the reasons why political parties do their own polling  -- because your polling methodology can greatly skew the answers 

A national survey has found widespread support for Indigenous constitutional recognition, including the Voice to Parliament proposal, contrary to views expressed by the Turnbull Government last week that such proposals would command limited public support.

The results were part of the most recent Australian Constitutional Values Survey, conducted in August by an Australian Research Council-funded team led by Griffith University, UNSW Sydney, University of Sydney and the Australian National University.

The survey was conducted online by OmniPoll among a representative sample of 1,526 adults, from all states and territories, age ranges, gender and political affiliations.

“The results were clear and surprisingly strong,” said Dr Paul Kildea, Senior Lecturer in Law at UNSW.

“Not only did general support for Indigenous constitutional recognition remain strong – specific support for the idea of a representative Indigenous advisory body (“Voice to Parliament”) was much stronger than expected, for such a relatively new proposal.”

“Based on this evidence, the idea that an Indigenous advisory body is incapable of winning acceptance at a referendum is simply unfounded.”

The survey asked respondents whether they supported a change to the Constitution to officially recognise the history and culture of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, and a number of specific options drawn from previous Expert Panel recommendations and the Uluru Statement from the Heart – including “a representative Indigenous body to advise Parliament on laws and policies affecting Indigenous people”.

Among the survey’s key findings:

·      A total of 71% of respondents generally supported recognition, 34% of those strongly;

·      61% supported the representative Voice to Parliament, 24% strongly; and

·      58% supported formal agreements between governments and Indigenous peoples, 19% strongly.

Professor John Parkinson of Griffith University, who is studying the Recognise campaign, said the results were stronger than many would have assumed.

“Importantly, there were more supporters in every state than there were opponents, an important factor when it comes to constitutional change in Australia. New South Wales and Victoria were the most supportive states. Only in Tasmania did support for a Voice to Parliament not have majority support.”

“Recognition also continues to enjoy support across the political spectrum, with a majority of Coalition voters (55%) also supporting the Voice to Parliament proposal.

“These results give clear reason to doubt assertions that the Uluru Statement is in any way unrealistic or unachievable,” Professor Parkinson said.

Via email

The big stories from the weekend

After months of speculation about when their election would be Queenslanders will be going to the polls on Saturday 25th Novembers. Despite denying that she was about to call the election and that she would only be visiting her nanna this Sunday Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also made a stop to Government House in Brisbane to call the election.

Both Palaszczuk and Liberal National Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls made their initial pitch to voters which can be best described as vague, energy, small business and infrastructure seems to be where both leaders believe their strength is. Both leaders also demonstrated they are eager to avoid the One Nation factor at this election who have been polling at 15-20% of the primary vote and predicted to win 5 to 10 seats potentially giving them the balance of power post election. It’s going to be a close election as when it is a three way race nobody should be confident to predict a result.

Lost amongst all the other news of the past week in Australian politics was the Turnbull Government rejected the recommendation of the Indigenous Referendum Council for an Indigenous advisory body to parliament to be enshrined in the constitution.

The government correctly pointed out that such a referendum would be doomed to fail and would violate the principle of all citizens having equal civil rights. It would appear that indigenous leaders thought that with constitutional recognition of Indigenous people having bipartisan and strong public support they could demand even more. But with the constitutional proposal now in its tenth year of consultation they may end up getting nothing.

Over the weekend the biggest weasel in the federal parliament Defence Industry Minister and Leader of House Christopher Pyne was exposed as being up is old tricks again. It was revealed that if his South Australian seat Sturt is abolished or has an unfavourable redistribution he will challenge Liberal MP in the neighboring seat of Boothby Nicolle Flint.

Flint was only elected at the 2016 federal election and is considered future star of the conservative wing of the party. We also learned that back in 2009 when Malcolm Turnbull was about to lose the Liberal leadership that Pyne rang then Director of GetUp Simon Sheikh to get the activist group’s support for Turnbull who was championing Labor’s emissions trading scheme. This is certainly embarrassing given the AWU raids of the past week were part of investigation into a donation they gave to GetUp in 2006


Elon Musk brought to tears by how much Australians pay for power

Billionaire energy mogul Elon Musk was almost brought to tears by Australia's deepening electricity crisis that has prices soaring out of control.

The Tesla boss was confronted with figures showing record numbers of people were disconnected because they couldn't pay their bills.

'Wow, really?' he said in disbelief when told by 60 Minutes that power was becoming a 'luxury item' for many families.

'I didn't realise it was that expensive. Australia has so many natural resources that even if you go the fossil fuel route, electricity should be very cheap.'

His shock turned to sadness when he was told many people were worried they wouldn't be able to turn on their lights or cook food.

'I did not expect that,' he said, his voice wavering, before pausing several seconds and promising: 'We'll work harder.'

Mr Musk in July promised to build the world's biggest lithium ion battery in South Australia after the state's disastrous blackout.

But he didn't realise he was walking into a political firestorm that saw his ambitious project mercilessly mocked by the Federal Government.

'By all means, have the world's biggest battery, have the world's biggest banana, have the world's biggest prawn like we have on the roadside around the country, but that is not solving the problem,' Treasurer Scott Morrison said at the time.

'Thirty thousand SA households could not get through watching one episode of Australia's Ninja Warrior with this big battery, so let's not pretend it is a solution.'

Mr Musk was confused as to what the Big Banana actually was, but admitted criticism from Australia's government go to him.

'I didn't realise there was this big battle going on, I just didn't know,' he said on Sunday night's program.

'We get that all the time. It can be a little disheartening, yeah.'

The government is sticking to its guns, with Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg saying it wasn't enough to stop another blackout.

'Elon Musk's battery was a fraction of the size of the Snowy Hydro Scheme,' he said.

'It was sold to the people of South Australia by Jay Weatherill as an answer to their woes, whereas in reality, it's just a fraction of what that state needs.'

Mr Frydenberg talked up the government's National Energy Guarantee, even though he himself said it would only cut bills by up to $115 a year.

Mr Musk said Australia was 'perfect' for solar power and not only could it get all its energy from solar, wind, and other renewables - it could even export it.

'Australia could export power to Asia, there's so much land there you could actually power a significant chunk of Asia,' he said.

He believed his 100 megawatt (129MWh) battery could be the first step to Australia becoming a renewable energy powerhouse. 'You have to do these things to get the world's attention, otherwise they just don't believe you, they don't think it's possible,' he said.

'People in Australia should be proud of the fact that Australia has the world's biggest battery. 'This is pretty great.'It is an inspiration and it will serve to say to the whole world that this is possible.'

Mr Musk said the world needed to quickly switch to renewable power or it would be sent back to the 'dark ages'. 'We will have the choice of the collapse of civilisation and into the dark ages we go or we find something renewable,' he said.

Batteries on a much smaller scale were already available and helping Australian families slash their power bills.

Michael and Melissa Powney installed a Tesla lithium battery and connected it to their solar panels, which can charge it up in a few hours of sunshine.

Instead of huge power bills, the family even made $32 in power sent back to the grid in the past month - and had the only house on the street with power during the blackout.

'We were seeing electricity bills of over $1,000 before we put the solar in, so I can only imagine what they would be like now if we didn't,' Mr Powney said.


You can't say that -- unless you are a Leftist

The latest TV ad to be rolled out by the anti-same-sex marriage lobby has been deemed unacceptable for general viewing, with the commercial television body declaring passages attributed to the controversial Safe Schools sexuality education program can be aired late in the evening only.

Free TV has advised the Coalition For Marriage that its latest commercial warrants an ‘‘MA’’ classification due to “depictions of implied sexual activity and verbal sexual references” and can air only after 8.30pm, or 9.30pm during a sports program or a film classified as ‘‘G’’ or ‘‘PG’’.

The 30-second commercial, which is due to air tonight and features footage of Safe Schools founder Roz Ward speaking at a same-sex marriage rally, includes passages from the Safe School-endorsed OMG I’m Trans and OMG I’m Queer resources, which are available from the Victorian Department of Education and also appear on the websites of some South Australian schools.

The passages include “penis-in-vagina sex is not the only sex and certainly not the ultimate sex,” and “it’s a total lie that all guys have dicks, that all girls have vaginas”, which appear on the screen as text.

The Coalition for Marriage tried to point out to Free TV’s commercial advice arm that the passages had been lifted directly from learning materials approved by various state governments and taught to students from Years 7 upwards. However, it was told the organisation was independent of governments and under the definitions of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice the material was not appropriate for viewing by minors.

Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton said he was disappointed by Free TV’s stance given the topical nature of the advertisement. “It beyond belief that taxpayer- funded LGBTIQ sex and gender education materials openly made available to students of all ages are given an MA rating for television,” Mr Shelton said. “The issue of these materials, of parents’ rights, and the direct relationship with changing the Marriage Act are there for all to see, and parents should beware.

While the Coalition for Marriage has been heavily criticised for arguing that legalising same-sex marriage would lead to an extensive rollout of Safe Schools-style “radical” sexuality and gender diversity education programs in schools, Mr Shelton said evidence was mounting to support the supposition. “Just this week we have seen footage of the British Prime Minister saying that after redefining marriage they would be pressing ahead with LGBTIQ and gender education in all British schools,” he said, referring to comments Theresa May made last week. “The idea that all of these issues are unrelated is actually laughable.”

Free TV, the industry body representing Australia’s commercial free-to-air television licensees, was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when an ad celebrating Father’s Day was deemed “political” ahead of the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

That was criticised as “political correctness gone mad” by politicians, but Free TV blamed the ad’s creator, not-for-profit group Dads4Kids, for the ad not running, saying they were asked to add an identification tag declaring political content and refused to do so.


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, October 30, 2017

Aboriginal IQ and visual ability

In their devotion to their strange ideal of all men being equal, Leftists get frantic about the concept of IQ -- which is all about inequality.  So they find all sorts of ways of claiming that IQ doesn't exist, doesn't matter or that intelligence is not measured by IQ.

Psychometricians have of course heard it all before and can easily refute the little Leftist brainstorms about the matter.  A common leftist claim is that there are "multiple" intelligences so that IQ tests measure only a small part of what constitutes intelligence.  The big problem for that is to specify what these other omitted "intelligences" are.  What form of mental ability is overlooked by IQ tests? 

The suggestions there are usually quite pathetic.  The best known example of such a claim is the work of Howard Gardner -- and his theory of "multiple intelligences" -- eight of them, would you believe? There is a very clear and simple demolition of the whole Gardner theory here -- which points out that the Gardner theory not only ignores the data but that its criteria for calling something "an intelligence" are so loose that sense of humour, sense of smell, musical ability, athletic ability etc could all be called "intelligences". By adopting similar rules I could say that all cats, dogs and horses are birds -- but that would still not make them so.

I do think however that there is a marginal case for saying that Australian Aborigines have mental abilities that are not well captured by any form of IQ test. Australian Aborigines have attracted considerable attention from psychometricians because their original lifestyle is so different from ours.  And their average IQ scores are some of the lowest ever observed. 

University of Queensland psychologists, Donald McElwain and George Kearney, however, rose to the challenge of those low scores and constructed the "Queensland test", which used only those questions that seemed to work best among Aborigines.  By their responses, Aborigines effectively constructed their own IQ test.  A set of questions relating to mental ability were sifted out that intercorrelated with one-another and correlated with various indices of ability to handle an Aboriginal environment.  So how did whites score on a test that was biased towards an Aboriginal population and environment?  They scored much higher than Aborigines themselves.

That has to be seen as pretty strong evidence that average Aboriginal intelligence really is unusually low.  But I am not so sure.  Aborigines have very great abilities in areas where we do not.  Their ability to see and remember small details of the landscape is completely beyond us. 

For many years they were used as "black trackers", people who were used to find escaped criminals.  The trackers could "see" where the criminal had been and would follow a trail that he had left behind him -- a trail that no white man could see.  So many a criminal who had every reason to feel that he had got clean away would often find that he had a most unexpected and unwelcome knock on his door.

And it is no mystery why Aborigines could do that.  They had evolved into a harsh landscape and had only the most rudimentary weapons to use in capturing juicy animals for food. As a small isolated population, they did not have access to the inventions  that arose on the vast Eurasian continent.  So it was only their own wits that could help them survive.  By noticing tiny details of the landscape they could "see" where a juicy animal might be lurking.  And a great aid in such "seeing" was a detailed memory of what the landscape had previously been like.  Noticing what had changed would be a major clue to what had happened and what was happening.

So it seems to me that Aboriginal visual ability and memory does a job very similar to what high IQ enables.  It is strongly pro-survival in the environment where it arose.  I don't think there is any point in trying to integrate it into IQ measures but it should remind us that there are many abilities that increase survival chances and not all of those abilities are mental. 

Africans, for instance are in general very good at sprinting and that no doubt once had survival value in enabling them both to catch prey and escape predators.

Sprinting is not a mental ability but it is a survival tool.  Aborigines also have their own unique survival tools -- tools which in my view deserve great respect -- JR


Internet 'super villain' Milo Yiannopoulos challenges Australian feminist writer Clementine Ford to debate him

Clemmie would be right to refuse a debate. She is one mixed up woman and is prone to anxiety disorders

Milo Yiannopoulos has taken a swipe at outspoken feminist Clementine Ford, labelling her 'vindictive, spiteful' and 'particularly unintelligent'. 

The so-called 'internet super villain' said he feels sorry for the 'poor lamb' and once again challenged Ms Ford to a one-on-one debate.

'Clementine is a sort of useful idiot. She's one of those people who doesn't really understand what she's parroting,' Yiannopoulos said on Monday.

Yiannopoulos, who revealed earlier this month he wanted to debate the polarising figure, said he didn't think the challenge would be accepted. 'Of course not. She's terrified of me and she knows she'll lose the debate - but let's see,' he said.

'Maybe I'll doorstop her - maybe I'll show up and try to get an interview on camera.'

Ms Ford has lashed out at Yiannopoulos on social media in the past, calling him 'Milo Whinopoulos' and saying he 'can go f*** himself'.  She slammed him for pronouncing her name as 'Clementeen' and said: 'It's tyne, like Milo has a tyne-y brain'.

Yiannopoulos pronounced her name the same way speaking to Daily Mail Australia this week.

Ms Ford has also described Yiannopoulos as a 'liar' and as a threat to women, girls and transgender people and suggested Trump voters would not buy his book because they cannot read.

Yiannopoulos' highly controversial views have seen him banned from Twitter and depart from his role with conservative website Breitbart News. 

From opposing gay marriage - despite being openly homosexual and married to his partner – to his criticism of the transgender rights agenda and the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, his ideas are often divisive.

He has previously likened feminism to cancer and Islam to AIDS, while sparked outrage when he said sexual relationships between underage boys and men could be consensual.

Ahead of his upcoming Australian tour, his opponents started a petition demanding Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton deny Yiannopoulos a visa. As of Monday, it had attracted just over 1,000 signatures.

A counter-petition, set up by political commentator Mark Latham, has been signed well over 11,000 times.

'Aren't they sweet? The best they could do was marshal 900 people to sign that petition,' Yiannopoulos said. 'I just find it adorable and charming when people get so upset about a gay man having the wrong opinions and telling the wrong jokes.'

Yiannopolous will bring his Troll Academy Tour to Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast from December 1.

'The response had been absolutely amazing. We've just announced a second show in Sydney - the first one sold out in a couple of weeks,' he said.


Three police officers who kicked a woman to the ground and punched a man 20 times face investigation

Three West Australian police officers have been put under investigation after a disturbing video of an arrest was played in court.

The officers, known as Hitchen, Richardson and Thompson, originally claimed a woman grabbed one of their guns during the confrontation.

However, shocking footage captured by a witness shows otherwise, with the officers seen kicking the woman to the ground and unleashing more than 20 punches on another man.

Jacqueline Briffa faced three charges of assaulting a police officer and attempting to possess a firearm, with all thrown out in court after the video was played, The West Australian reports.

The incident occurred in Hamilton Hill, south west of Perth, and was filmed by witness Elise Svanberg, who described the scene as 'awful'.

The magistrate called the allegations Ms Briffa had tried to remove one of the guns as 'frankly nonsense' before throwing the charges out.

Meanwhile, the man who was punched multiple times walked away with a $100 fine after being charged with obstructing police.

The officers pictured in the video have been placed under review, but have been allowed to remain on full duties.


NSW Legal bill for forced property purchases soars to more than $650 million

The state government's potential legal bill arising from compulsory acquisitions has soared to more than $650 million, as landowners challenge the forced purchase of their properties.

Internal emails show officers at Roads and Maritime Services were aware of rezoning submissions which had the potential to significantly increase the amount it would pay for properties.

RMS has been scooping up properties to make way for major infrastructure projects such as WestConnex and NorthConnex using its compulsory acquisition powers.

But the practice has upset some landowners who say RMS is acting opportunistically and offering compensation that's only a fraction of what a property is potentially worth.

That frustration is spilling over into the courts. Since 2012 the value of court cases – expressed as a potential liability in the agency's financial statements – has increased from $52 million to almost $658.9 million last year.

An RMS spokeswoman said the rise was in part due to an increasing number of infrastructure projects in recent years.

She said 84 per cent of acquisitions in the past financial year were mutually agreed without compulsory acquisition and that the agency was defending 31 court cases.

"Roads and Maritime Services understands property acquisition is a sensitive issue and works closely with affected property owners," she said.

Tony Debenham, from Gillespie Cranes in Rozelle, said he was offered more than $50 million for his commercial site from a property company just months before RMS approached him with a compulsory acquisition value of $13 million.

RMS is building the third stage of the WestConnex project in Rozelle, which will provide a link between the M4 and M5 motorways.

"The offer they have given us is just absurd, it is at least 100 per cent below what we could sell it for as an industrial property," he said.

On the same road as Gillespie Cranes, property company The Desane Group has also fought against RMS's valuation of its 5200-square metre site.

The company believes the site is worth upwards of $100 million, despite being offered $18.4 million by RMS. The company is challenging the valuation in the Supreme Court


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, October 29, 2017

How Australia escaped the global financial crises of the last 25 years

A lot is not mentioned below. No. 1 is that Australia is particularly conservative by First World standards. When even Holy Ireland has homosexual marriage, we do not. Though that seems about to change. And Reagan/Thatcher type policies came to Australia via Bob Hawke, a Leftist Prime Minister. And Australia is the only Western country to have stopped illegal immigration. And conservatism is a regular precursor of prosperity.

THERE’S more to Australia than good weather and a famous laid-back lifestyle — we’ve now powered through 25 years without tasting economic recession.

The quarter of a century milestone means Australia now has the longest period of recession-free growth of any developed country ever.

Famously dubbed “The Lucky Country” — economists believe our true blue good fortune has played a part in this stunning achievement, but there’s more to it than that.

“Luck has certainly played a role,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist at financial services company AMP.

“We are blessed with a lot of things that other countries don’t have like ample resources, space and relatively sensible politics in the grand scheme of things.

“But, really, we’ve been riding on the major economic reforms of the past and that makes us look like The Lucky Country.”


So what kept the Aussie economy insulated while the rest of world was reeling from global economic gloom?

“The moves to make the economy more efficient and deregulated through the ’80s and the ’90s resulted in a more flexible economy — in particular the impact of the floating of the Australian dollar,” Mr Oliver said.

“This means that whenever there’s been a downturn globally, the Australian dollar tends to go down which has shielded Australia somewhat.

“The Aussie dollar has fallen through the global recessions, which made our exports more competitive. But, more generally, the Australian economy is more flexible than it used to be.”

When the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hit in 2008, this good financial management came in handy as the Labor government boosted public spending by a whopping 13 per cent in an attempt to stimulate growth.

China also held up pretty well through the GFC, according to Mr Oliver which some economists say shielded us and our exports during the darkest days of the latest major global downturn.


“Another element is the cycles across our economy have become disconnected,” Mr Oliver said. “For years we had a mining boom which boosted Western Australia and other parts of Australia which were exposed to the mining sector — but at the time, the rest of the economy was relatively subdued.

“And (at) times during the last decade, you could argue that NSW has been in recession but it’s all been smoothed out nationwide because of the mining boom.

“More recently, the mining boom has fallen into a hole which has enabled the pressure to come off NSW and Victoria because interest rates have come down, the Australian dollar has come down — that’s enabled the south eastern states to rebound.”

However, economist Jason Murphy said it hadn’t all been “tea, scones and sunny afternoons for 25 years.”

The national picture was good but misleading, he said, with several states falling into serious trouble over the last couple of decades.

“WA is the most recent example, with an economic bloodbath following the end of the mining boom,” Mr Murphy said. “It was hard yakka for people trying to provide for their families, as unemployment shot up and businesses went broke.

“But that human misery doesn’t show up in the national economic statistics because the statistics average out over all the other states.”


Tim Harcourt, an economics fellow at the University of New South Wales said Australia had made its own luck through good economic policies, the currency float, tariff changes and the embrace of Asia.

Apart from natural resources and Australia’s close ties with booming Asian economies, Mr Oliver also said we’ve even been lucky with our the way our national statistics fall.

“We’ve a bit more weakness around the time of the GFC and we could have ended up with two quarters of negative growth and it would have looked like a recession — but fortunately that didn’t happen,” he said. “We only had one quarter of decline in GDP.”


Before we give ourselves a collective pat on the back, Mr Oliver reminds us that it’s not all rosy in terms of our actual living standards.

“The last few years have been a bit so-so,” he said. “We’ve had very high levels of underemployment, wages growth has stagnated and houses are completely unaffordable — so you don’t need a recession to have big issues.”

Mr Murphy said underemployment had shot up as unemployment had shrunk — which was a big part of why wages growth had been so weak in Australia recently.

“Underemployed represent a big source of untapped potential and the economy will need to add a lot of full-time jobs before it has soaked up all the people willing to work in them,” he said.

The Aussie economy was just “muddling along” according to Mr Oliver as housing slows and consumer spending remained weak.

And there was always the risk, after more than 25 years of growth, Australia could become complacent.

“We are probably going to go for at least another few years before we have that recession some people say is inevitable,” said Mr Oliver.


Barnaby to do a Trump

Barnaby Joyce has a big job he wants to get on with. He's writing a book to set out his agenda: "A lot of it will be politically incorrect - I want to shock, I want to startle people into action," he tells me. To do what, exactly? "To give greater economic and personal advancement to the people in the weatherboard and iron in the regional towns."

It's about their economic wellbeing and their social standing. "I'm writing a comparative analysis" that looks at "the social opprobrium attached to poor white people in Australia's towns and regions." Joyce doesn't use the word, but it's about recovering respect. Respect for the people who live outside the big cities and feel overlooked.

It's the same constituency that put Donald Trump in the White House, took Britain out of the European Union and put the Alternative for Germany Party in the Bundestag. He wants to know why it's considered socially acceptable to dismiss them, to be rude about them: "People feel they can denigrate them with impunity. You can't denigrate Asian Australians or Muslim Australians or gay or lesbian or transgender Australians but if they come from a country town you can call them a hayseed or a redneck and it's OK."

"It's a form of antagonism, being on the outer and they resolve that in familiar ways including voting for One Nation. How do we have a cogent way of dealing with this - you can't just close your eyes and hope they go away."

Is he proposing to take this constituency away from One Nation and bring them back into the mainstream? "Yes," replies the leader of the National Party."I will draw on my own experience growing up. People don't understand what it's like for kids to go to school where some of the kids are too young to be there - three or four years old. They shouldn't have kids in the classroom who are still defecating in their pants."

Why are they there? Because there's no parents at home - if they don't work, they're poor, and there aren't the child care places to look after them."

There is a long-standing question about the Nationals. How effective are they? How can they win support for their priorities when they clash with those of their dominant Coalition member? Can Joyce give an example where the Nationals have prevailed over the Liberals on a major policy? "We never supported a clean energy target," he says. "We were certainly instrumental in moving the agenda to keep coal-fired power."

The Turnbull government's decision to dismiss the recommendation of Chief Scientist Alan Finkel to set up a clean energy target was widely regarded as a surrender to the angry agitation by Tony Abbott and a small number of other Liberal conservatives such as Craig Kelly.But Joyce is proudly taking credit - or perhaps responsibility - for the Nationals.

It wasn't a love of coal, however: "I didn't give a toss for where power comes from, but one of the greatest afflictions for people in the weatherboard and iron is they can't afford power, and they suffer the social humiliation of being poor."

According to the Coalition's internal polling, Joyce has a primary vote of 57 per cent, an enormous advantage, against 16 per cent for Windsor. Polling conducted last month for a less sympathetic organisation, the centre-left Australia Institute, isn't quite so emphatic but still gives Joyce a commanding lead - a primary vote of 45 per cent against 27 per cent for Windsor. Labor registered a mere 8 per cent.

Joyce's priorities are very different to Windsor's, even beyond power and climate change. Infrastructure, such as building the inland rail freight line from Melbourne to Brisbane, is at the top of the former deputy prime minister's list. The government is allocating $840 million to begin the project. "If you get the rail corridor right between the major cities, you get growth in the smaller cities in between," he says.

Decentralisation is another priority. Labor describes Joyce's decision to move the Australian Pesticides and Veterinarian Medicines Authority from Canberra to Armidale in his electorate as a disaster - wasting tens of millions of dollars, losing the expertise of staff who are leaving rather than relocating with only 11 out of 216 showing interest, endangering human and animal health. Joyce says it's a great success: "They're starting to improve the time taken to consider pending applications and 450 people have applied for jobs in Armidale. The cost of the relocation is the same as building a new fence around Parliament House. We're spending money in Canberra but we're investing in the regions too."

And he says that he is keen to keep driving overseas new trade deals "on things like nectarines that people thought didn't matter, but when the deputy prime minister of Australia asks, 'Can you help us out with this?', then it does matter."

Note that all these agenda items are in territory where a member of an incumbent government - especially an incumbent deputy prime minister - has an inherent advantage. It's the government that controls infrastructure spending, decentralisation and trade negotiations. Joyce will campaign on his choice of turf, territory where an insurgent can't compete. An insurgent has to campaign on anger and protest, and that's One Nation's specialisation.

Pauline Hanson's party didn't run a candidate in New England last time and it's not clear whether it will this time.The Australia Institute poll last month found 10 per cent support for a notional One Nation candidate. With Windsor out of contention, however, the field is more open. And anything is possible in politics.

Joyce will not be able relax. It's an unpredictable business and the Murdoch newspapers have carried unsourced rumours of unspecified marital difficulties. "The campaign will be dirty," he predicts, "because it's such a great prize to knock off a deputy prime minister". Especially such a shrewd one.

His approach is bifurcated. He is deputy prime minister and takes advantage of incumbency to promise more government-directed benefits for his electorate - infrastructure, decentralisation of government agencies, trade deals. Yet he also talks like an angry outsider appealing to the alienation of "poor white people". He is the very embodiment of the establishment, promising largesse, yet he musters anti-elite anger as well, appealing to both the satisfied and the seething, the fattened and the forgotten. All at once, all things to all people. This is designed to shut One Nation out. They can seethe but can't satisfy - they are a party of protest.

He won't make a lot of progress on the book for the next five weeks. It's not much use knowing where he stands if he has nowhere to sit. He's concentrating everything he has on winning. "Hell yes, the job's not done."


Concerns as identity politics creep into the classroom

English students face being drilled in the politics of class, race, gender and sexuality, as an influential teacher advocacy group seeks to push social justice issues into the classroom.

The Victorian Association for the Teaching of English, a professional body backed by the state government, will host its annual conference next month, unveiling a program to highlight “the iconoclasts, the dissidents and the marginalised” and celebrate individ­uals “who will not, or cannot, swim in the mainstream”.

Headlining the two-day event will be former Australian Human Rights Commission president ­Gillian Triggs and GetUp! campaigner Shen Narayanasamy, who will deliver keynote speeches. Left-leaning political commentator Van Badham will also appear as a guest speaker.

The focus of the event, which VATE president Emily Frawley confirmed had been designed with social justice in mind, has alarmed some education experts, who have questioned the role of “political activists” at the event and the push to embed divisive “identity politics” into the curriculum.

Sessions include “Stand Up For The Outsiders’’, which will explore teaching strategies for ­“empowering students to speak to issues of class, gender and race”, and ‘‘We Want Gender Equality’’, on “how the plight of woman over time has not changed”. There will also be a discussion of Jeanette Winterson’s 1987 novel The ­Passion, which is billed as “post modernism, queer theory and a romping tale to boot”, while ­‘‘Reflections On Growing Up ­Different In Australia’’ will look at “migration, racism and identity” in various texts.

Another session will advise teachers how to deliver the Victorian government’s Respectful Relationships program — a family violence initiative criticised for pushing gender theory onto children — through English texts in the middle years.

Details of the conference have emerged in the wake of research by the Institute of Public Affairs that pointed to a rise of identity politics in university history courses.

The IPA’s Western civilisation program director Bella d’Abrera questioned what “political activists” were doing at a conference “about English teaching to schoolchildren”.

“This conferences shows that identity politics has not also permeated the teaching of history in Australian universities, but it is also deeply embedded in English teaching in Victorian secondary schools,” Dr d’Abrera said. “There is no place for identity politics in our classrooms.”

Australian Catholic University senior research fellow Kevin ­Donnelly said it was disappointing to see teachers emphasise ideology over good grammar, spelling, punctuation and literary appreciation.

“Instead of English teaching being about giving a balanced view of literature, it’s now more about offering a critique of society, particularly Western society, misogyny, inequality and capitalism,” Dr Donnelly said.

“A lot of kids leave school without a strong foundation of what is good or bad literature.”

Dr Donnelly, a former English teacher and one-time member of VATE, said the association ­appeared to have been captured by the left.

Ms Frawley defended the conference, which had always “traversed the educational, cultural, political landscape”. This year’s event would feature “diverse line-up of presenters”, she said.

“The brief of all presenters is to speak to the themes of the conference, drawing on their expertise and considering their audience,” Ms Frawley said. “We want English teachers to be engaged and challenged, to consider how they can best stand up for their students, and what the role of English content and pedagogy is here.”

Ms Frawley confirmed that the organisation received funds from the department for a range of programs, but the conference itself was not government-funded.


High Court ruling sparks changing climate in Queensland's Senate ranks

The Australian Parliament's most high-profile climate change sceptic appears set to be replaced in the Senate by a man who once made his living warning of the dangers of climate change.

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts was one of five MPs declared ineligible to stand for Parliament under section 44 of the constitution in a High Court decision on Friday, as he had never formally renounced his British citizenship.

The court also ruled against fellow former Queensland senator Larissa Waters, who resigned in July upon discovering her Canadian dual citizenship, but ruled in favour of LNP senator Matt Canavan, who sits in the Nationals' party room in Canberra.

Former Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett appears certain to replace Ms Waters in the Senate, while Sunshine Coast man Fraser Anning is set to replace Mr Roberts based on a countback of votes cast in the 2016 federal election.

Mr Anning, who once ran the  Sunshine Coast solar installation business Pacific Solar and Heating, once warned of the dangers of climate change in a Sunshine Coast Seniors newspaper advertorial.

The paid editorial said greenhouse gases, carbon emissions and conserving energy were "all subjects about which we are concerned today” and promoted government rebates for solar hot water systems.

“The rebates are substantial and the community's awareness about the need for cleaner energy options is growing," Mr Anning said in the article.

Mr Roberts has been an outspoken critic of climate science, claiming it was "manipulated" by NASA, the CSIRO and others as part of a global conspiracy.

Fairfax Media attempted to contact Mr Anning, who no longer works for Pacific Solar and Heating, on Friday.

While those attempts were unsuccessful, Mr Anning did issue a media statement and there was little love lost for Mr Roberts in its content. "This (High Court) outcome vindicates Pauline Hanson's decision to refer the issue of Malcolm Roberts' citizenship to the High Court," he said.

"It is, however, infuriating that the Australian taxpayer has had to stump up millions of dollars to pay for a court decision, just because five polticians couldn't get their act together to do what was required by the constitution.

"I can certainly assure all Queenslanders that before I nominated I took all steps to ensure that I was eligible to be a senator and, obviously, as a candidate for an Australian nationalist party, not being a foreigner is a pretty important part of that."

Mr Anning also took aim at One Nation leader Pauline Hanson's recent praise of Mr Roberts.  "I fully understand that in recent weeks Pauline needed to express public support for Roberts as long as he occupied a Senate spot, however that naturally changes with the High Court decision," he said.

"I have given Pauline unqualified loyalty and supported her for more than 20 years, so naturally I expect this to be reciprocated if and when I am declared elected."

Mr Anning's candidate bio on the One Nation website said he had worked in the hotel industry in Gladstone for the past five years and he has reportedly worked in marketing and plane building.

Meanwhile, experienced former senator Mr Bartlett, who was in Parliament from 1997 until 2008, said he expected to be formally serving as a Greens senator within two weeks.

Mr Bartlett, who pledged to be based in north Queensland if he won a second Senate seat for the Queensland Greens, said he would be instead be based in the south-east corner.

“It is not really tenable (to be based in north Queensland) in these circumstances,” Mr Bartlett said.

“That was a pledge if I got elected last time as a second senator for the Greens.

“We would have had one (office) in Brisbane and one up north, but obviously we will now only have one for the time being and there is an office there that I can move into.

“I can move in at very little cost, whereas if I had to set up in Cairns or Townsville with 20 months left to serve in the term, it would cost taxpayers a lot of extra money, frankly.

“It’s nothing against north Queensland, we would love to get up there, but it is not justifiable at this time.”


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, October 27, 2017

Racist "whiteness" concept flourishing among elite Australians

The Left are obsessed with race and racial differences

Is there a collective noun for those who make a living out of publicly decrying the evils of whiteness? Consider for example, a cacophony of virtue-signallers, a soliloquy of self-flagellants, a dirge of self-loathers, a nursery of penitents, and a turgidity of neo-Pharisees.

For such zealots the crusade against racism — or more accurately to be seen as crusading against racism — is a secular calling. Its central philosophy is the disparaging and loathing of whiteness. Are you thinking irony or downright hypocrisy? To describe it so would be correct, but those terms do not illustrate the degree of cognitive dissonance in the crusader’s mind. To describe it as Orwellian doublethink, however, does.

What featured in last week’s episode of ABC Radio National’s The Minefield served as a stark example, its subject title “Wrong to be ‘White’: Is Racism a Moral Problem?”. Apparently rejecting the notion that racism is an aberrant element of whiteness, host Scott Stephens mused that it was innate. “A great many more philosophers and a great many political theorists … would see the persistence of racism not as a moral topic but in some ways as foundational, as fundamental as in some ways infecting and rendering us complicit in pretty much everything we do,” he said. “What do you think”, he asked co-host and Deakin University lecturer Dr Joanna Cruikshank.

You might think the correct answer, after suppressing an outburst of derisive laughter, would be to say this secular construct of original sin was both simplistic and sweeping. But Cruikshank did not demur. “As a historian I think I’m constantly struck by the way the structures of many modern nations have been racial right from the start,” she said. “I think I would even say white supremacist from the start.”

It is a term that Cruikshank resorts to frequently, particularly in respect to self-loathing. “I am a white supremacist,” she wrote in June this year. “I sing a national anthem that proclaims Australians to be ‘young and free,’ directly excluding the ancient nations of this land and their people — people who, for most of the century this anthem has been sung, have been anything but free. I work in institutions and walk on streets named after men who authored the White Australia policy.”

The list of self-indictments is a long one. “I watch television and movies where white people portray almost all of the heroes, while people of colour play the feisty friend, the wisecracking sidekick, the super-strong villain or the treacherous terrorist. If I watched sport more often, I would see players of different races, but almost all white managers and coaches.”

The purpose of telling us this, she writes, is not “to indulge in self-flagellation.” Whether she is trying to convince us or herself of that one cannot say. “No doubt people of colour around me could point to many more examples of the way my words and actions reflect and perpetuate white supremacy,” she adds. “I am working to change this.” These changes, however, do not appear to go so far as the reluctant white supremacist giving up her taxpayer-subsidised job to make way for a person of colour, but that’s by the bye.

The two co-hosts could not be more alike in spirit. “Like you, I’ve been rather troubled by the political response as well to the National Constitutional Convention at Uluru,” said Stephens, who then added the indigenous resolutions such as a treaty and a so-called truth and reconciliation commission to be “clear and unequivocal” and “morally rich”.

As with Cruikshank, Stephens appears to regard the ABC studios as the nation’s confessional. He deplored the “grubby public debates about things like the Australia Day date,” describing them as a reaction to “historical truth-telling.” The protests were a “reassertion of a muscular white nationalism,” he went on to say. “This for me is really the symptom of something that remains very deep and very wrong with who we are.”

You could be tempted to argue in response to such strong sentiments that the attempt by socialist and Greens-dominated councils to change the date of Australia Day is an aggressive form of cultural cleansing. Alternatively, you might suggest that this whole notion of whiteness and inherent racism is sanctimonious piffle, as well as an exercise in attention-seeking.

Ah, but Stephens had anticipated this. “It‘s now common for people to come out and to deny that they themselves are racist while engaging in either forms of speech or patterns of behaviour that would be I think rightly morally described as racist.” To assume that a denial of racism from one accused of such behaviour is evidence of guilt is truly a Kafkaesque mindset.

These views are disconcertingly similar to those of the Australian Human Rights Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane. “Not to put too fine a point on it,” he observed only two months ago, “but we must be prepared to say that if people don’t wish to be called racists or bigots, they shouldn’t blame others; they should begin by not doing things that involve racism or bigotry.” But what about the right to a fair hearing? For a cultural Marxist, that is merely a bourgeois anachronism.

Given Stephens and Cruikshank’s controversial and near identical views on whiteness, surely we could expect their only guest would provide a challenging and robust counterargument? After all, ABC editorial policies require The Minefield to “Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.” So how did that work out with this guest?

“I’d like to start off actually by acknowledging that here in Sydney, in the ABC studios, I am actually sitting on lands stolen from the Gadigal people,” began Alana Lentin, associate professor in Cultural & Social Analysis at the University of Western Sydney. Does that give you some indication of how much balance you can expect?

Lentin is also the president of the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association. Its charter is to “critically investigate and challenge racial privilege and the construction and maintenance of race and whiteness, both past and present.” In respect to the assertion that denial of racism is equivalent to an admission of guilt, Lentin takes an even more extreme view. “The assertion of ‘not racism’ that accompanies many structurally white discussions of and pronouncements on matters of race is itself a key form of racist violence,” she wrote for ABC only last week.

Not surprisingly, it was a very cosy little chat among the three, with acclaims along the lines of “Absolutely” and “Wow”. “We know that white people in this country are not jailed for unpaid fines,” said Lentin, commenting on the death in custody in 2014 of West Australian indigenous woman Miss Dhu. This is a blatantly absurd fiction, yet neither Stephens nor Cruikshank corrected Lentin.

Judging by her Twitter account, one sees that Lentin has a tendency to weaken labels through overuse. According to her Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is a “fascist”.

Fascist Turnbull presides over same racist policies as Trump regime is trying to install https://t.co/2guTeBlIqS

— alana lentin (@alanalentin) January 30, 2017

So too is his cabinet colleague Scott Morrison, but he is a “total fascist”.

How very fascist: Tony says 'families, jobs, economy, secure nation' and 'I love this country' http://t.co/13NRC20lm1

— alana lentin (@alanalentin) February 9, 2015

On what basis? It turns out that Abbott had espoused the importance of “families, jobs, economy, secure nation”, and had said “I love this country.”

Her accusatory outbursts do not end there. Lentin frequently refers to immigration detention centres as “concentration camps”.

Her most revealing tweet was one sent on the eve of Australia Day this year. “Does anyone seriously think that #changethedate will resolve the pesky fact that Australia was stolen? No to nationalist days!” Never kid yourself in thinking that the progressives’ campaign to change the date of Australia Day will end there.

As for episodes like that of The Minefield, what does it say of the ABC’s adherence to its statutory charter? Only this month managing director Michelle Guthrie claimed the government’s legislative proposals to amend the charter — including a requirement that coverage be “fair” and “balanced” — amounted to a “political vendetta”.

Finally, one should reflect on the words of Stephens, who linked the concepts of race and whiteness to “products of capitalism itself”.

Capitalism, he asserted, “produces subjects who are willing to profit off the back of the misery and the immiseration of others,” he said. He’s absolutely right. It is called the Grievance Gravy Train, and it is publicly funded through taxes paid by capitalists. And it is not only its drivelling passengers who enjoy such a lucrative run at the expense of others, but also those who stoke its fires and drive it.


'Australia feels like a FOREIGN country': Most Australians believe the country is FULL and almost half support a ban on Muslim immigration

Three quarters of Australians believe the country doesn't need any more people and almost half support a ban on Muslim immigration.

A survey of more than 2000 people, by the Australian Population Research Institute, also found 54 per cent want a reduction in the annual migrant intake.

The independent organisation claims the results are driven by a rapid change in Australia's ethnic and religious make-up and concerns over quality of life.

'Australian voters' concern about immigration levels and ethnic diversity does not derive from economic adversity,' academics Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell wrote in a report based on the survey.

'Rather, it stems from the increasingly obvious impact of population growth on their quality of life and the rapid change in Australia's ethnic and religious make-up.'

Australia's population increased by 389,000 people to 24.5 million in the year to March, largely due to the arrival of new immigrants.

Most people who migrate to Australia are skilled workers (68 per cent) and about a third make the move to be with family.

But 74 four per cent of those surveyed believe Australia is 'already full', with most pointing to roads congestion, hospitals capacity, affordable housing and fewer jobs as evidence.

Some 54 per cent want Australia to cut its annual immigrant intake of about 190,000 people and 48 per cent backed a partial ban on Muslim immigration.

However, another 27 per cent were undecided about a partial ban, while a quarter opposed it.

The strongest support for the partial ban came from One Nation voters (89 per cent), with more than 50 per cent of Liberal voters agreeing and just over a third of Labor supporters.

'The willingness to take a tough, discriminating stance on Muslim immigration is not limited to a small minority, but extends to almost half of all voters,' the report said.

More than half of those surveyed feared Australia risked losing its culture and identity, with a similar number saying it had changed beyond recognition and sometimes 'felt like a foreign country'.

Australia's political and economic 'elites' had ignored rising concerns about immigration, the report said while noting rising support for anti-immigration parties across Europe.

'Such is the extent of these concerns that they could readily be mobilised in an electoral context by One Nation or any other party with a similar agenda, should such a party be able to mount a national campaign,' the report said.

'If this occurs, the Liberal Party is likely to be the main loser.'

The survey was largely based on the views of Australian-born respondents, who were 'much more likely to take a tough line on immigration numbers and ethnic diversity than are overseas-born persons (unless they are UK-born)', the report noted.


Sirius demolition one step closer as state government declines to grant heritage status

The controversial Sirius building on the edge of the Rocks is a step closer to demolition after the NSW government again declined to grant the brutalist former social-housing block heritage status and protection from redevelopment.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announced on Wednesday that she had declined to grant the heritage status, moving a proposal to demolish and redevelop it into a $120-million apartment redevelopment to completion.

"My role is to decide whether the building has aesthetic value and, if so, whether that value is such as to satisfy [heritage value] at a state level," Ms Upton wrote in a decision published on Wednesday. "While the Sirius building is distinctive, in my view, it is not a landmark worthy of state heritage protection."

The announcement comes after a previous decision by Ms Upton's predecessor not to list the building was overturned in the Land and Environment Court in July, after the state government was found to have "side-stepped" its obligation to consider the building's heritage value and misapplied the law.

Shaun Carter, the chairman of the Save Our Sirius action group and former president of the NSW Institute of Architects, said it was unsurprising the state government had decided to resubmit its application.

But he said the coalition of activists that had been fighting the government's plans since 2014 would immediately seek advice from the Environmental Defenders Office about a legal appeal.

"If there's one millimetre of space to take this back to court, we will," he said. "We will stay that course, even if that means we are arm-in-arm in front of bulldozers."

The minister's office declined to comment on whether the decision could be open to further appeal.

The MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, said the state government's decision to ignore expert advice was "appalling" and motivated by a desire to push up the building's sale price.

The state government has said that the sale of the 79-unit site would enable the construction of another up to 240 social-housing units elsewhere.

Built more than 30 years ago to allow working class residents to remain in The Rocks during a period of major construction, the Sirius building followed the Green Bans movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The building's remaining two residents are being relocated.

"It's the only building that's come out of a social movement that wasn't local, wasn't just state-based but international," Mr Carter said.

But he argued that its status as a symbol of the left of politics had made its demolition a priority for the Liberal state government.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet described the building as "about as sexy as [a] car park"


Last rites for absurd restrictions on potato growing in Western Australia

The decades-long spud war in Western Australia could soon draw to a close after the Potato Growers Association advised its members to accept a $650,000 reimbursement deal from the state government.

The government sent a letter to 74 potato growers in August offering to return to them more than $650,000 - comprised of $484,316 in Potato Marketing Corporation funds recovered from a legal trust and $200,000 in costs paid by Galati Nominees.

The defunct industry regulator had launched civil action on behalf of growers against Perth's "Spud King" Tony Galati in 2015, accusing him of growing more potatoes than allowed under WWII-era legislation.

But the action was dropped by WA's new Labor government after the industry was deregulated last December, with Premier Mark McGowan telling parliament in May "the old system was flawed and stupid".

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the growers had a "moral claim" to the money, despite deregulation legislation specifying it belonged to the state.

"We acknowledge our potato growers have been doing it tough since the discovery of the tomato-potato psyllid," she said.

"Finalising this issue will allow the industry to focus on rebuilding and finding new markets for our produce."

Potato Growers Association of WA chief executive Simon Moltoni said members had been advised to take the deal.

"We need to move on and look forward through the windscreen and not back through the rear vision mirror," he told AAP on Thursday.

He says potato growers are counting on a new export market opening up in Egypt to reinvigorate growth in the industry.


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, October 26, 2017

AFP raids Australian Workers' Union headquarters as part of Shorten and GetUp investigation

Bill Shorten's union days coming back to haunt him?

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have rushed to conduct raids on the Australian Workers' Union offices, amid concerns documents could be destroyed.

The raids are part of an investigation into payments made when Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was secretary.

The investigation relates to whether donations made to activist group GetUp and to federal Labor campaigns were authorised under union rules.

In a statement, the ROC confirmed it launched the sudden raids because it was concerned evidence could be "concealed or destroyed".

"Since the investigation commenced, the ROC received information which raised reasonable grounds for suspecting that documents relevant to this investigation may be on the premises of the AWU…and that those documents may be being interfered with (by being concealed or destroyed)."

The ABC understands the payments under investigation include $100,000 paid by the AWU National Office to GetUp in 2006.

Another is a $25,000 payment by the AWU National Office to Bill Shorten's election campaign in the Melbourne seat of Maribyrnong in 2007, and two other payments to campaigns in the seats of Petrie (Queensland) and Stirling (WA).

The AWU's National Secretary Daniel Walton described the raids as an "extraordinary abuse of police resources" by the ROC and the Federal Government.

"Malcolm Turnbull, when he's under pressure, calls the police," Shadow Employment Minister Brendan O'Connor told reporters in Parliament House.

"Today we learnt in Senate estimates there are resource issues with the Australian Federal Police.

"At the same time that that was uncovered, we have a situation where the Government is treating the police as its plaything — using the police to investigate a civil matter, an allegation that was made 10 years ago."

A spokesman for the Federal Government argued the AFP is "completely independent of government".

"It is absurd and false to suggest the AFP is in any way politicised," he said.

"Labor is attacking the independence, integrity and professionalism of the AFP and its officers. This is an offensive slur and a disgraceful distraction.

"This matter was referred to the Registered Organisations Commission weeks ago and it is important it is allowed to investigate without hysterical smears from Labor."

Separately, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has asked GetUp to abide by disclosure laws that would require it to outline what funding it receives and how it is spent.

Groups subjected to such obligations are known as "associated entities", which are defined as a group controlled by one or more political parties, or operating to a significant extent for the benefit of political parties.

In a letter obtained by the ABC, the AEC said there were grounds to suggest GetUp's activities last year could be seen as having benefited Labor and the Greens.

GetUp has denied the claims and insisted it is an independent movement.


We are still paying for Rudd's follies

Electricity customers face an extra burden of between $3.8 billion and $7.5bn in “windfall” subsidies for renewable power generators in the next decade ­because of the stroke of a pen in the last months of Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership.

Against advice from consultants, energy companies and the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Rudd government in 2010 extended the phasing out of the renewable subsidies for existing operators from 2020 to 2030.

The 10-year extension beyond the contracted 2020 phase-out under the Howard government is estimated to cost households and businesses up to an extra $7.5bn.

Based on a pre-2010 renewable generation estimate of about 9500 gigawatts an hour — and cost of certificates of about $80 — the highest estimated cost of the subsidy is $7.5bn. Under estimates based on the generation of 8300GW/h and a certificate price of $47, the total cost would be $3.8bn. The subsidy is coming into focus as the Turnbull government unveils its plans to stop subsidies for new renewable energy projects from 2020 because wind and solar power are becoming “cheaper than coal” and can survive without subsidies. Subsidies for existing projects will continue to be paid to 2030, in line with the Rudd government’s commitment.

The Turnbull government has estimated that not adopting a clean energy target suggested by the Finkel report will cut $11bn in potential renewable subsidies through renewable energy certificates.

Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg are promoting the Coalition’s new energy plan as not adopting taxes or new subsidies.

“We call upon our political ­opponents to accept the National Energy Guarantee as recommended by the Energy Security Board,” Mr Frydenberg said. “It is a credible, workable, pro-market policy that delivers lower power prices and a more reliable system.”

After the election of the Rudd government in 2007, a series of changes was made to climate-change policy, including increasing the Howard government’s renewable energy target five times to 45,000 GW/h a year, splitting the then mandatory renewable energy target (MRET) into two, and trying to implement an emissions trading scheme by mid-2010.

In 2003, a Howard government review of the MRET, which recommended expanding renewable energy and emissions reduction targets, said the subsidies should not be extended beyond 2020.

Most of the political and parliamentary debate concentrated on ramifications of rapidly expanding rooftop solar systems and splitting the MRET into large and small sections.

Former Labor ministers cannot recall cabinet discussion or parliamentary debate over the extension of the subsidies for existing renewable generation to 2030, which was seen as a minor part of the massive changes to renewable energy policy.

But between 2008 and 2010, a Senate review, government advisers, the ACF, energy companies Origin and AGL as well as aluminium producer Rusal told the Labor government not to extend subsidies for existing renewable energy producers beyond 2020.

The Rudd government was told of the perception of “windfall profits” for existing renewable energy generators, was urged to keep the Howard government 2020 cut-off for subsidies and was reassured there was no sovereign risk because existing contracts and solar and wind farms had been built with the clear agreement that subsidies would end in2020.

Even Greenpeace and the ACF argued against windfall profits.

“Facilities built between 1997 and 2007 should only be eligible for incentives due under the existing MRET,” the ACF said in a submission to the Climate Change Authority.

The Australian Meat Processor Corporation said stations built before the introduction of MRET should not be allowed to access the scheme beyond 2020 because it “does not create a level playing field for these to be included”.

The Rudd government’s own discussion paper — Design Options for the Expanded national Renewable Energy Target Scheme — said the treatment of existing ­renewable energy generators could have large ramifications for climate change policy.

“Treatment of pre-existing power stations under the expanded national RET has implications for the supply of RECs in the market after 2020 and for the cost of the scheme,” the paper found.

“Treatment of pre-existing generators could also have implications for the credibility and effectiveness of the scheme in driving additional generation, if it is perceived that windfall gains after 2020 could accrue for business-as-usual generation by investments made in the expectation that a RECs revenue stream would be available only until 2020,” the paper said.

Despite the warnings the Labor government gave existing renewable energy generators access to the “windfall profits” beyond 2020 and locked in huge subsidies for a decade longer than contracted.


Productivity Commission report highlights tensions between university research and teaching

An old issue that grinds on

THE obsession with research at universities is helping to create an oversupply of graduates in certain areas and potentially bad outcomes for students and taxpayers.

That’s according to a Productivity Commission report, Shifting the Dial, released Tuesday which set out a broad agenda for reform spanning health, schools, universities, transport and energy.

It noted that universities were being encouraged to churn out students in “high-margin courses”, which are cheap to teach but have high fees, so they can funnel more money into research.

This risks creating an oversupply of graduates, wastes both students and taxpayers money, and could ultimately affect Australia’s productivity and economic growth.

“Many university staff are more interested in, and rewarded for, conducting research,” the report said.

This is due partly due to its importance of research in international rankings as well as the culture in universities that gives prestige to research and sees teaching-focused positions as a “low-pay, low-progression and low-value career pathway”.

“Teaching therefore plays second fiddle to research, with consequences for student satisfaction, teaching quality and graduate outcomes,” the report noted.

The commission found that student fees that should be used for teaching, were instead being directed towards research and this was undermining student outcomes and teaching quality.

About 80 per cent of teaching-only staff at universities in 2015 were working as casual employees, and many teachers were part-time workers who were themselves students.

“It seems likely that a system where a significant share of the teaching is provided by junior staff with limited long-term teaching interest will not generate the best educational outcomes for students,” the report said.

It noted that the use of money for teaching to cross-subsidise research was also creating an oversupply of certain graduates and there was evidence this was already happening.

One study found nearly 45 per cent of recent law graduates who were employed were actually working in clerical, sales and service occupations.

On the flip side, universities may also be discouraged from providing more student places for “low-margin” or loss-making areas that can create an undersupply of graduates in essential professions including dentistry, veterinary science, health sciences and engineering.

While the commission has not made any recommendations because it acknowledged the complexity of the system and did not want to create unintended adverse outcomes, it did suggest options that should be considered.

It said one solution could be to change government funding so that it more closely reflected expected teaching costs, and the public and private benefits.

“For example, disciplines with a high degree of personal benefits and limited positive spillovers (such as a degree in finance) could require students to pay most (or even all) of the cost of tuition,” the report said.

However, it said this would need to be offset by other changes to how research was funded.

It has also supported the Federal Government’s plans to introduce a form of performance-contingent funding from 2019, which would make 7.5 per cent of funding contingent on the university’s teaching performance.

The exact design of this plan is still being developed but the commission said this was a “step in the right direction, although there are a range of challenges with making this approach fair and effective”.

The commission was also sceptical about the benefits of the Turnbull Government’s plan to lower the income threshold that students need to start paying off their HELP debts.

Instead it believes outstanding HELP debts could be collected from deceased estates from those aged over 60 years and potentially only from estates worth over a certain amount.

This would also allow HELP debts to be recovered from the increasing number of students aged 65 years or over, who are accessing these loans but are less likely to pay them off.

Other suggestions from the commission include relaxing restrictions on the use of the term “university” so that institutions don’t have to do both teaching and research to qualify.

The commission believes this could be dropped to encourage some institutions to focus on teaching.

It said universities should also assess students carefully to ensure they start the right course and are more likely to finish it.

The commission found there was a link between how high a student’s Australia Tertiary Admission Rank was and whether they were likely to drop out of uni before finishing their degree.

Students with an ATAR above 95 had an annual attrition rate of less than 5 per cent in 2014 but this jumped to about 20 per cent for those whose score was between 50 and 59.

Similarly nearly 40 per cent of those with an ATAR between 50 and 59 had left uni without a degree after nine years, while just 4 per cent of students with an ATAR above 95 had done so.

However, the commission noted the ATAR score was just one reason why students quit and others include the student’s motivation levels, financial security and personal or health-related factors.

Group of Eight, which represents Australia’s leading research intensive universities that account for two-thirds of all research funding to universities, is supportive of the commission’s findings.

“The Productivity Commission rightly questions how we do our job, how we use our funding and our focus,” Go8 chief executive Vicki Thomson told news.com.au. “We would expect no less.

“It has therefore been particularly pleasing to concentrate on the substance of the report and find that the Commission is in agreement with the Go8’s consistent advocacy push for an end to the current dysfunctional and distorted funding model for research, and to our call for an independent review of how the sector is financially structured, and on our outcomes.”



Doctors warn of dangerous rise in use of 'nangs'

A girl in her 20s struggles to walk. She has nerve damage to her spinal cord and may never recover

What is a 'nang'? A "nang" is the street name given to a small canister of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas. It is available over the counter, and has various uses including in medicine and hospitality. 

However, selling it for non-medical human consumption is illegal in NSW. It can cause brain damage, memory loss, a weakened immune system and incontinence

The cause? Bingeing on "nangs" — small canisters of nitrous oxide gas designed for whipping cream, but being misused as a recreational drug.

The female student was inhaling 360 nangs a week. Her future is bleak.

Partygoers buy nangs (also known as nozzies, bulbs and whippets) to inhale the nitrous oxide inside the canister. It is a 20-second high.

In a medical setting, nitrous oxide is useful. Dentists use it as an anaesthetic and it is administered to women in labour.

But doctors warn recreational use carries serious risks. "Very recently I had a 20-year-old patient whose brain appeared to have the same level of damage as an alcoholic who had been drinking for 40 years," toxicologist Dr Andrew Dawson told 7.30.

Dr Dawson, who is Director of the Poisons Information Centre at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, said the number of cases had risen alarmingly. "We have had a doubling of the number of calls from hospitals about significantly affected people from nitrous oxide exposure," he said. "Those effects are severe nerve injury, or sometimes brain injury.

"There has been a real spike over the last two years."

Although deaths are rare, Dr Dawson said they were "certainly" reported within Australia.

"Those deaths can relate to anything from the exploding of the small cylinders, to people becoming hypoxic — that is, short of oxygen, from overuse," Dr Dawson said.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, has been around for hundreds of years.

It has been used to get high for just about as long, beginning with the British upper class "laughing gas parties" in the 1700s.

Now it is back with a vengeance.

According to the Global Drug Survey, nitrous oxide is the seventh-most popular drug in the world.

In Australia, canisters are sold in packs of 10 for $10 in corner stores, or in bulk online, with multiple sellers advertising 24/7 weekend delivery.

The situation has prompted doctors, including Dr Dawson, to call for the supply of nitrous oxide to be limited, and a public health education campaign to warn about the risks.

"Kids are intelligent," Dr Dawson said. "It is an issue about actually getting that message across in an appropriate manner.


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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is reflecting on the legacy of Kevin Rudd.  He is not impressed.

So much for free speech! Right-wing anti-feminist Milo Yiannopoulous BANNED by the Western Australian government ahead of nationwide tour

Controversial far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos has been banned from appearing at government owned venues in Western Australia.

Ahead of Yiannopoulos's Australian tour, WA premier Mark McGowan said he was not welcome in the state. 'I don't think he's welcome in WA… so we will make sure that all government venues are not available to him,' Mr McGowan told 9 News on Monday.

The 'anti-feminist' and 'outrage troll' will begin his Australian tour in November.

The so-called 'internet supervillain' shot to fame after he was banned from Twitter when he was blamed for a campaign of abuse directed at Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.

He has likened feminism to cancer, Islam to AIDS and he was sacked as Tech Editor at Breitbart News after audio surfaced of him appearing to condone sexual relationships between teenage boys and older men.

'Anyone who defends pedophiles and associates with Nazis, I don't think is a rational person, we shouldn't have them delivering lectures and performances to West Australians,' Mr McGowan said.

A petition demanding Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton deny Yiannopoulos a visa has attracted just over 1,000 signatures as of Monday.

A counter-petition, set up by political commentator Mark Latham, has been signed well over 11,000 times.

Daily Mail Australia understands that his visa will not be cancelled and his tour will go ahead.

'Aren't they sweet? The best they could do was marshal 900 people to sign that petition,' Yiannopoulos said.

'There was about 10,000 who signed the counter-petition to let me in. 'I just find it sweet, adorable and charming when people get so upset about a gay man having the wrong opinions and telling the wrong jokes.'

Yiannopolous will bring his Troll Academy Tour to Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast from December 1.

'The response had been absolutely amazing. We've just announced a second show in Sydney - the first one sold out in a couple of weeks,' he said.

'And then my book comes out in Australia in November. So it's going to be a whole Christmas of Milo Down Under.'


High costs revealed in new NBN data

MALCOLM Turnbull has opened up on the NBN’s biggest downfalls, blaming Labor for billions of dollars wasted during the troubled rollout.

In a candid press conference, the Prime Minister said Australia should have learned from New Zealand’s example when setting up the NBN and that it was a “mistake” to go about it the way they did.

“Setting up a new government company to do it was a big mistake,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“If you want to look at a country that did this exercise better, it’s New Zealand, and what they did there was ensure the incumbent telco, the Telstra equivalent, split network operations from retail operations and that network company became, in effect, the NBN.

“The virtue of that was you had a business that knew what it was doing, that was up and running and had 100 years of experience getting on with the job and the Kiwis have done this at much less cost.”

“So the way Labor set it up was hugely expensive ... I’ve said this many times, it’s a fact of life that we can’t recover,” he said.

“So having been left in a bad place by Labor, what we are doing is ensuring we deliver it as quickly and cost effectively as possible but I have to say to you, again — one complaint is one complaint too many.”

His comments came as the man responsible for the national rollout blamed a “land grab” by internet retailers for the one-in-four Australians unhappy with the speed of their fast broadband connection.

NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow says because retailers are aggressively competing for market share, they’re unable to charge consumers what he believes they should to pay to provide increased bandwidth.

As a result, some households and businesses are unable to access the high speeds they expect or led to believe to expect by retailers.

The number one NBN consumer issue with was broadband speeds between 7pm and 11pm — which Mr Morrow dubs the “Netflix hours”.

Consumers were led to believe they could access broadband speeds of between 12-25 megabits a second for the same price they were paying for a pre-NBN service (5 megabits a second).

About 85 per cent of premises were signing up to speeds of 25 megabits or less, and market studies showed of those, three out four were “quite satisfied” with what they were paying and the service they’re getting, Mr Morrow said. “The reality is ... about one-in-four people are unhappy with the way their service is being produced.”

Mr Morrow said what consumers were paying retailers and the money retailers were paying NBN Co was not enough to even to recover the $49 billion cost of rolling out the network.

“If the (retail service providers) RSPs cannot get the consumers to pay more, then we have a problem.” But it was too early to say whether that meant additional taxpayer support. Mr Turnbull admitted the NBN’s return of three per cent was not enough for it to be deemed a government asset or make it a commercial return for the stock market.

On another front, Mr Morrow believes his company may struggle to compete with mobile networks.

Low-cost city connections were subsidising the more difficult-to-wire homes, but margins would be squeezed if city customers turn to ultra-fast mobile networks for their internet connections.

“We are kind of fighting the competitive fight with one hand tied behind our back,” Mr Morrow said.


Labor’s energy policy to deliver $200 bill shock

Labor’s policy of a 50 per cent ­renewable energy target by 2030 would require the closure of 75 per cent of existing coal-fired power in Australia and add almost $200 a year to the average household ­energy bill, according to analysis of modelling commissioned by the Climate Change Authority.

In the first indication of the cost of Labor’s stated energy policy, ­including a 45 per cent emissions reduction target, the modelling ­reveals that to achieve such a goal, 17,000 megawatts of coal-fired power would have to be taken out of the National Electricity Market.

This would correspond to 75 per cent of the existing coal-fired generation, or 10 coal-fired power stations of equivalent size to ­Hazelwood, reducing the current 16 coal-fired power stations in the market to only one or two.

The data analysis drawn from modelling provided to the Climate Change Authority for its 2016 Policy Options for Australia’s Electricity Supply Sector — Special Review Research Report, contained in a government briefing note provided to The Australian, also reveals that it would increase energy bills by $1921 over 10 years from 2020 to 2030.

The modelling was based on an emissions intensity scheme that sought to achieve a 52 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 — the closest model to Labor’s stated policy of a 50 per cent RET. Labor has previously signalled that an emissions intensity scheme was its preferred option to achieve that.

The annual rise in annual electricity bills to realise its policy, ­according to data contained in spreadsheets attached to the report, would start at about $100 a year in 2020 and peak at $285 a year in 2027. A further data sheet contained in the modelling appendices, under chapter three of the report relating to an EIS, shows that this would also entail taking an extra 17,000 megawatts of black and brown coal-fired generation out of the market by 2030. This would be on top of the 1600MW taken out with the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria.

Bill Shorten has refused to release modelling of the opposition’s energy policy, claiming more details on the 45 per cent emissions reduction target would be ­released before the next election.

The CCA modelling will strengthen the Turnbull government’s case for its national ­energy guarantee — and its promise of a $115 annual saving for households — which the opposition has continued to ridicule as being a saving of only 50c a day.


Labor would rather service misery than solve it

Malcolm Turnbull and his mates are cuddling up to One Nation and attacking poor people, thundered senator Doug Cameron.

“They are shovelling $65 billion out to the big end of town and screwing ordinary working families in this country,” he told the Senate last week, indignation rising like steam

Not for the first time, it was hard to reconcile the senator’s hyperbolic rhetoric with the prudent and pragmatic legislation under debate.

Christian Porter’s welfare reform bill will make welfare simpler to claim, cheaper to administer and harder to rort. It simplifies a welfare system so complicated no one fully understands it, not the bureaucrats charged with administering it, the minister or, one presumes, the good senator ­himself.

It also insists that recipients ­adhere to obligations, such as staying off the funny fags, for example, or other psychoactive substances that would render them useless or dangerous employees.

Labor, blinded by sentimentality, reckons it is unreasonable to make junkies accountable for the illegal substances they consume, inhale or inject. We must listen to the experts, they tell us; drugs are not something one chooses to take or from which one can choose to abstain. They are, says Labor’s Sharon Claydon, “complex public health problems, and they require a public health policy response”.

Drug addiction is “a medical issue that needs to be tackled properly in a medical way”, agreed her colleague Amanda Rishworth.

Framing drug-taking as a disease over which the user — sorry, victim — has no control is an intellectual delusion common among progressives. Drug takers can’t be blamed; their condition is biologically, neurologically, genetically and environmentally determined. Like the punks in West Side Story seeking Officer Krupke’s forbearance, they are sociologically sick and psychologically disturbed.

Gee, Officer Krupke, we’re very upset;
We never had the love that every child oughta get.
We ain’t no delinquents,
We’re misunderstood.
Deep down inside us there is good!

Dole junkies have been added to the growing list of victims by progressive MPs who are forever on the lookout for new outlets for their compassion.

Drug use cannot be stopped “by punishing those who are caught up in this illness”, Anne Aly informed the house. It was a job, she said, for “the treatment sector”.

It is a measure of the growth in the availability of state-funded assistance for the drug-addled that we can talk of “the treatment sector” with a straight face. This quasi-medical, quasi-sociological, quasi-psychological industry barely existed a quarter of a century ago. Today it turns over hundreds of millions a year of our money.

The treatment sector, as one would expect, is opposed to drug tests and anything else that encourages drug users to kick their habit. Its business model requires customers to remain hopeless and helpless. Let’s not confuse these poor people by suggesting they could do something to help themselves. Fighting drug addiction is a job for the experts.

The treatment sector’s track record is woeful, of course. The proportion of Australians who admit to using psychoactive substances — about 15 per cent — is the same as it was a decade ago. The social impact of drug use has grown with the spread of methamphetamines.

Please don’t suggest that drug treatment strategy is failing, however. It is simply underfunded. More money is needed to relieve pressure on an already overstretched system, to make mollycoddling more widely available, introduce frontline victim ser­vices, and so it goes. We’ve heard it all before.

The success of some of the more diligent charities in relieving the distress of some addicts by providing food, accommodation and counselling should not lead us to imagine the problem is being solved.

The pathologisation of misfortune is widespread in the caring industry.

It leads to a philosophy, practice and business strategy focused on servicing misery rather than ending it. It delivers short-term comfort at the expense of long-term resilience, dignity and empowerment.

The susceptibility of successive governments to fall for the welfare industry’s spin has increased the country’s welfare budget by billions of dollars.

Too much of it has been channelled into servicing misery rather than ending it through rehabilitation and empowerment. A welfare habit, like a drug habit, is much harder to crack once we succumb to the argument that biology, genetics or society is to blame for personal misfortune.

The poor have been casually re-categorised as the vulnerable. Vulnerability, unlike poverty, is never self-created; it is never the result of making poor choices and cannot be corrected by making good ones; vulnerability is simply visited upon you.

Compassion for the vulnerable has played havoc with public finances. In 2007 when John Howard left office the state and federal welfare bill was equivalent to 29.3 per cent of tax collected; under the Rudd and Gillard governments it increased to 35 per cent, even before the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The Coalition’s ability to reduce the growth in welfare spending with little if any help from welfare professionals is nothing short of remarkable. Jobseeker support payments increased by 10.3 per cent in real terms between 2007-8 and 2013-14. The growth has been slowed to 1.3 per cent. Income support for carers increased by 10.9 per cent under Labor; the growth has been slowed by the Coalition to 3.9 per cent.

Most impressive of all is the reduction in the number of people on the Disability Support Pension, a welfare payment given to people assumed to be incapable of work. The number of DSP recipients has fallen by almost 10 per cent from 830,000 in June 2014 to 758,900 in June this year.

DSP payments increased by 6.9 per cent a year in real terms under Labor; under the Coalition they have been falling by an average of 2.3 per cent a year.

The soft-headed notion of compassion has become so embedded in civic conversation that the Turnbull government is nervous about trumpeting these achievements, fearing it may be accused of stealing from the poor.

The truth is the unconditional commitment to welfare under Labor robbed recipients of a resource much more important than money.

By outsourcing responsibility for their future to the treatment sector, it robs them of dignity and the power to control their lives for better or worse.


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