Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tesla’s giant lithium-ion battery in South Australia outperforms Gladstone Power Station

The quick response that a battery offers is useful in some ways but nobody seems to be mentioning that the battey concerned can deliver full capacity for only a matter of minutes.  It is no substitute for a real power source

GLADSTONE Power Station is making news across the world - but probably not in the way it would have preferred.

The 1,680MW coal-fired plant was outpaced by tech billionaire Elon Musk’s giant lithium-ion battery when Victoria’s Loy Yang A3 unit failed early on December 14, The Gladstone Observer reports.

While Gladstone’s number 1 unit was contracted to provide backup power – and did so four seconds later – the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia beat it to the punch by injecting 7.3MW into the national electricity grid just 140 milliseconds after Loy Yang began to trip, according to data from the Australian Energy Market Operator compiled by energy analyst Dylan McConnell.

The speed at which the Tesla-made battery kicked in shocked national energy operators, according to the South Australian Government.

But Gladstone Power Station acting general manager Nigel Warrington said it had to be remembered that Gladstone was capable of generating 16 times as much power as Hornsdale.

“The total output of the Hornsdale battery storage is 70-100MW, whereas Gladstone generates up to 1,680MW, or 16 times more than the battery storage,” Mr Warrington said.

“Hornsdale could not, for example, support the Boyne aluminium smelter with that level of output.”

While the Hornsdale Power Reserve isn’t designed to provide large-scale, base load power - but rather to kick in quickly to stabilise the energy grid - the point is an important one.

It means the success of Mr Musk’s $50 million project - built as a result of a bet he made with the South Australian Government on Twitter - is unlikely to spell the end of Gladstone’s role as a contingency provider of backup power any time soon.

Even Romain Desrousseaux, the deputy chief executive of French renewables company Neoen which operates the Hornsdale battery site, believes it is too early to talk about a 100 per cent renewable energy mix - a sign plants like Gladstone will still have a significant role to play for some time to come.

“You need to be able to bring peaking capacity and firming capacity,” Mr Desrousseaux told the Financial Review.

Mr Warrington said Gladstone was recognised as one of the most responsive coal-fired power stations in Australia in terms of its ramp rate - or its ability to scale up and down quickly.

“We don’t see the move to renewables as an ‘us and them’ argument, it is about working hand in hand and last week was a good example of that,” he said.

NRG would not confirm whether Gladstone Power Station’s number 1 unit - the same unit contracted to provide back-up on the night of the Loy Yang failure - had itself tripped on Tuesday.

“There are no current issues at Gladstone and in fact all six units are operating at high load,” Mr Warrington said yesterday.


'African' thugs linked to Menace to Society gang terrorise family meeting spot 'smashing and destroying' homes and a community centre in Melbourne

A gang of thugs of African appearance have trashed a brand new housing estate's community centre and now use it to take drugs and peddle ice.

Once a tranquil space fro western Melbourne families to congregate, Ecoville Community Park in Tarneit is now a no-go zone. Furniture, windows, and even walls were smashed, rubbish strewn everywhere, and graffiti covered every surface while residents live in fear.

Police make frequent arrests at the park but appear to have little effect in making them leave the area and stop destroying the centre.

The rampaging youths appear to be from numerous gangs, including Menace to Society with its 'MTS' initials tagged on walls around the centre.

Wyndam Police described a disturbing scene last month when they arrived at Ecoville after reports of antisocial behaviour. 'Whilst there conducting a recon of the area, the officers were approached by a large group of youths demanding to know what the police were doing in 'their park', among other pleasantries,' they said.

Police had to radio for backup and two youths were given infringements for behaving in a riotous and offensive manner and a 17-year-old boy charged with resisting arrest.

Residents near the community centre say they are fearful as African teens go on nightly rampages through the area, damaging nearby homes.

'We don't feel safe at all. I want to take my children to the park but it's too dangerous. Gangs show up here all hours of the day and night,' new resident and father-of-two Manish Kinger told the Herald Sun.

Fellow resident Linah Simukai said: 'You don't know what they're capable of doing and that's the scariest part about it.'

Wyndham Local Area Commander Inspector Mary Allison said police continued to patrol the park, make arrests, and issue infringements.

'Property damage, drug activity and anti-social behaviour at the park have been our main concern. The community deserves to feel safe in their local park,' she said.

'Members will continue to patrol the area and anyone found conducting criminal activity will be held to account for their actions.'

MTS is linked to the infamous Apex gang and last week trashed an Airbnb property in Werribee with an out-of-control party.


Victoria Police chief says force ‘not afraid’ to call out African youth violence

A welcome change

VICTORIA Police is not afraid to call out high crime rates among African youth after a spate of violent incidents, according to its acting chief commissioner Shane Patton.

An attempted ambush on officers, a shopping centre cop bashing, an out-of-control house party riot which forced heavily-armed police to retreat and a mass brawl at St Kilda beach have been reportedly linked to youth groups this month.

The police have played down the claims — saying it is too early to confirm whether the incidents or offenders are linked.

However, Mr Patton distanced himself from a local superintendent who downplayed the issue after a violent attack on a sergeant who was trying to arrest an African boy accused of shop­lifting.

“The leaders in the African community readily and openly say they do have issues with a small cohort of African youth who are committing high-end crimes,” Mr Patton told The Australian.

“We acknowledge that, we don’t shy away from that at all. We will target anyone who’s involved in any criminal activity and if that’s African youths, so be it.”

It comes as fresh reports claim that the Ecoville Community Park in Tarneit, in Melbourne’s west, has been turned into a no-go zone by a youth group calling themselves Menace To Society — the same Apex-linked group which was thought to be behind the carnage at a Werribee Airbnb property last week.

The Herald Sun spoke to residents who say the offenders hijacked Tarneit’s community centre and park, going on nightly vandalism sprees, trashing homes, and terrorising families.

However, Mr Patton has previously said Menace to Society are nothing but an “alcohol-affected mob”.

“These people probably are a menace to society in the way that they have conducted themselves,” he told 3AW last week. “But, we have no intelligence to say such a gang exists.

“It’s young people trying to claim some esteem and we shouldn’t be acknowledging that. They’ve performed criminal acts and we’re hunting them down.”

Police Minister Lisa Neville also told The Australian that African-born young men were over-represented in crime statistics and were causing “great harm and fear in the community”. “We are not trying to cover this up,” Ms Neville said. “It has been of significant concern to us and to Victoria Police.

“We’ve had additional investment in the gang squad (and) in intelligence measures in order to try and disrupt their behaviour.”

Officers have, so far, only arrested one teenager in retaliation to the chaotic scenes in Werribee last week.

Heavily-armed riot police were forced to retreat as rooms were trashed, neighbours terrorised and officers pelted with rocks after they rushed to the out of control house party.

Detectives have charged a 15-year-old Kurunjang boy with aggravated burglary, criminal damage and armed robbery.

“Police continue to investigate the criminal damage to the home and anticipate making further arrests while the investigation takes place,” a spokeswoman for Victoria Police said.

“Police will make an application to remand the 15-year-old to appear in court at a later date.”

Police told last week that officers in Melbourne were sent a memo earlier this month saying they are at risk of being lured into ambushes by violent teenagers.

The memo states officers in a patrol car in Tarneit tailing a ­vehicle driven by a boy as young as 13 saw up to 40 teens of African appearance running towards a laneway, the Herald Sun reported.

“Wyndham Crime Investigation Unit sent a circular to all members within their police service area earlier this week following an incident in Tarneit on December 11,” a spokesman for police told

“During the incident police believed the behaviour of the youths at the location may have been a deliberate lure, in order to compromise member safety.” However, he added that the incident was isolated and nobody was injured.

Mr Patton said the problem wasn’t solely a policing issue.  “We continue to work with the African community to try and address the root causes, which isn’t just a policing issue,” he told the Herald Sun.

“It’s about disengagement, it’s about employment, it’s about a whole range of things.”


Average Australian forks out $83 a week to pay the nation's growing welfare bills and government debt

Australians who are gainfully employed spend nearly three hours each week working to pay off the country's welfare commitments, new data from the Treasury has revealed.

More than half of the average worker's taxes will be spent on social security and healthcare. The Daily Telegraph calculated $83 a week of taxable income goes straight to welfare payments.

Of this $83, only $6.30 is given to those on unemployment benefits. The majority - $35 – is spent on aged pensions, $20 goes towards family benefits and $17 is paid out to people receiving disability payments.

A further $20 each week is given to the Defence Force, and $42 goes towards Australia's enviable public healthcare system.

While many of these payments seem reasonable, it may outrage some to learn $9 a week of their taxable income goes towards paying off only the interest on government debt.

Australia's debt has skyrocketed to $531 billion, and is Treasury predictions see the number expected to further rise $684 billion in the next 10 years.

The high debt is a result of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott abolishing the debt ceiling in 2013 – when it was at $300 billion.

Eric Abetz, a Liberal Senator in Tasmania, has called for a new debt ceiling, to cover future generations from a debt they can never pay off.

'More savings need to be made so we don't leave our children with an incapacity to pay for education or hospitals,' he told the Telegraph.

'They are the people who will have to pay off the debt that the current generation of leadership has incurred. They will be paying for the rest of their lives.'


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, December 29, 2017

Attack on free speech means university is no longer a place to learn life lessons

I did an English degree in the 90s and as far as rites of passage go, it was awesome. It was for the most part, uncomplicated. It was wholly free from a dialogue of victimhood, political correctness and timidity of thought.

Now, as my 17-year-old nephew prepares to go to university in a month or so, I confess to being a little nervous about the environment he and hundreds of thousands of Australian young adults are going into.

For some time at least anecdotally there have been concerns about the erosion of critical thinking at Australia’s universities. The odd opinion piece, like this one, the occasional news report, all hinting at, warning of an odious slide into mental protectionism.

What do I mean by that? Well, campuses have seemingly become overrun by the notion of providing a “safe space” either in word or in deed, where nobody disagrees, nobody is allowed to get offended and truly diverse ideas inevitably die like dogs in the gutter.

Now, let me be clear from the get-go. This is not about curriculum, although that’s one for another day. It is about social engineering and deliberate restriction of free speech.

Research conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs and published at the end of last year in the Weekend Australian paints a clear and frightening picture of just how real this issue is. The IPA conducted an audit and analysis of university policies, procedures and guidelines. It found 81 per cent of Australia’s 42 universities are actively hostile to free speech. Actively hostile. That means the people running these joints are actively trying to restrict intellectual freedom.

At universities. Let that sink in for just a minute.

The IPA also found that 17 per cent go so far as to threaten free speech. It found hundreds of policies, including in one case, a 1600-word “flag policy” (the mind boggles), yet the majority of unis fail to comply with their legislated obligation to have a policy that “upholds free intellectual inquiry”. Only eight universities complied.

It went on to describe an environment in which there have been violent protests against certain speakers, and students instructed not to express their viewpoint. Violent protests.

Apart from violence being, you know, a criminal activity, does that not just scream a lack of intellectual depth? If the best response students have to a differing view is to torch the joint or belt someone with a piece of 4x2, you’re not really talking about our nation’s brightest. What is even more sobering is that the audit found almost all of the regulations and restrictions extend beyond the law itself. Students are more censored, restricted and gagged by their universities than in real life.

It seems the culture behind all of this has been allowed to quietly thrive and spread like lantana on your gran’s back fence because nobody thought they’d ever need to prune it.

I know it’s the habit of every generation to look back and think they did things better. I’m not so foolish nor blinkered to suggest it was perfect, because it wasn’t.

But what it was, was an environment in which we learnt not just in lectures (and let’s be clear, sometimes not even in lectures) but in the day-to-day social navigation around differing views, ideas, cultures and beliefs and the basic life skills that navigation teaches a person.

The reason we should be taking notice of this lies in the black and white numbers of the IPA’s audit. Sure, it backs up a view I’ve held and many of my peers and mates have held for some time, but it’s not about being right, it’s not even about that. It’s about the kind of place a university should be.

It’s about the systematic removal of circumstances in which young people can, through normal, everyday life, develop independent and critical thinking by dealing with people who hold opposing views — even ones most of us might find a tad gauche.

I’m going to go a step further. Learning to deal with offence — rather than the offence itself, is a gift. It’s a life lesson. It teaches you to think for yourself, toss out the garbage, keep what works, listen with an open mind, and respectfully walk away without setting fire to something or calling a lawyer.

And if university isn’t one of the places young people get to learn this, then change is way overdue.


Politically correct Victoria Police insist they DON'T have an African gang problem despite the blight of Apex, an officer being kicked in the face and 100 'South Sudanese' youths trashing an AirBnB

Victoria Police insist they don't have an African gang problem in Melbourne after an officer was kicked in the face at a shopping mall and 100 youths of Sudanese appearance trashed an AirBnB house.

The comments from Superintendent Therese Fitzgerald came after a boy kicked a police officer in the head as he crouched down attempting to arrest a 16-year-old youth for alleged shoplifting on Boxing Day.

The scuffle at Highpoint Shopping Centre, at Maribyrnong in Melbourne's west, was caught on CCTV on Tuesday afternoon.

However, Superintendent Fitzgerald said this latest incident involving African youths was not a sign there was an ethnically-related gang problem, amid a spate of crime linked to Apex gangs.

'We have problems with youth crime across the state and it's not a particular group of youths we are looking into. It's all youths. It's youth crime,' she told reporters.

Superintendent said 'youth crime in general' was to blame - a week after police were pelted with rocks after being called to an AirBnB house at Werribee, in Melbourne's west.

Officers were forced to retreat from the house, trashed inside by a party, when more than 100 youths of primarily South Sudanese appearance turned on them.

Photos taken from inside the house show walls kicked and punched in, mattresses thrown on top of furniture and pepper spray splattered across bedroom curtains.

Neighbours say they were left terrified when youths from the house started roaming the streets, throwing rocks and smashing cars.

Less than a week later, a police officer was kicked in the face as he crouched down trying to arrest a 16-year-old boy for alleged shoplifting at Highpoint Shopping Centre.

The scuffle, which was captured on CCTV, unfolded in front of shocked Boxing Day shoppers before the assailant ran from the centre into the car park.

The senior constable sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken to hospital as the youth who assaulted him remained at large. 'It could have been a lot worse and I'm pleased to report he's returned to work today,' Superintendent Therese Fitzgerald told reporters on Wednesday. 'He's got bruising to his eye but is in very good spirits.'

A 16-year-old Flemington boy was arrested over the alleged theft but he was released pending further inquiries.

Police are wanting to speak to a teen who is described as African in appearance and was wearing a white top and black bandana.

In June, at nearby Footscray, a man was struck in the head with a tomahawk as a gang of 15 African youths burst into a barber shop and began rioting.

In April, a gang of five Sudanese teenagers allegedly bashed their autistic classmate, in a horrific attack on a bus at Tarneit, in Melbourne's west.

The 17-year-old student was travelling alone to the city centre, when five boys approached him and told him to hand over his mobile phone and new Nike shoes.


'Ongoing erosion of legal rights': Government slammed for ignoring key report for two years

The Turnbull government has been slammed for ignoring a major legal report for more than two years, while continuing to enact laws that erode fundamental rights.

The Law Council of Australia and the libertarian Institute of Public Affairs have urged the new Attorney-General, Christian Porter, to curb what the think tank called "the ongoing erosion of legal rights" in Australia.

In its annual audit of the nation's laws, released to Fairfax Media on Tuesday, the IPA identified another 19 breaches contained in statutes passed this year – taking its count to 324.

And the organisation fingered Treasurer Scott Morrison, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and recently-departed attorney-general George Brandis as the ministers behind many of the problematic provisions.

Six new items breached the presumption of innocence, largely impacting employers who are sued under the Fair Work Act, while seven provisions compromised people's right to silence, the IPA found.

One such law, introduced by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, forces a person to answer questions about boats if a biosecurity officer believes they possess relevant information.

IPA research fellow Morgan Begg said the breakdown of basic legal rights "seems to be entrenched in the law-making process" in Australia.


Coalition close to point of no return

The writer is well informed but making prophecies is a mug's game.  Note what happened to prophecies that Trump would never become president

Only a dramatic turn of events is likely to rescue the government and address what appear to be embedded structural problems for the Coalition.

These problems are as deep as they are widespread and are reflected across every state and in key Coalition demographics.

There is little evidence that the government has attempted to address this fundamental problem in any significant way. What it has tried obviously hasn’t worked.

Any hope that 2018 will be a banner year for Malcolm Turnbull, rather than a repeat of the horror year of 2017, rests with his ability and willingness to make meaningful change.

The quarterly analysis of Newspoll, the final instalment of the year, bears this out. The Coalition ends the year in worse shape than it began, trailing Labor on a two-party-preferred split of 54/46.

This will be deeply vexing for Turnbull, who would rightly believe he finished the year well having dealt with same-sex marriage, survived the citizenship crisis by winning two by-elections while claiming the scalp of a Labor senator in controversial circumstances.

None of this has made the slightest bit of difference.

The loss of primary votes in Queensland and NSW is critical. Between them, the two states hold 87 of the 150 seats in the country.

While things are still dire in Western Australia, on the pure numbers, NSW and Queensland would produce a bigger loss on a much smaller swing. And if the apparent internal analysis by the LNP is right, suggesting that the preference flow from One Nation at the Queensland election was at best 50/50 in some seats, then the problems are even more profound.

The latest numbers reveal two disturbing trends for Turnbull. For the first time, Labor is ahead of the Coalition when it comes to voting males. Support among the over 50s is also down 10 points since the July 2016 election.

Nothing could provide more evidence that the Coalition base has jumped overboard and that the theory Turnbull should be chasing a younger demographic is a deeply flawed one.

This is being played out no more intensely than in the regions. Labor’s gains here are significant and would be confounding for the Nationals.

Having started with a 14 per cent deficit at the last election, Labor has lifted six points to be one point ahead of the Coalition.

While Shorten is deeply unpopular more generally, he is only three points behind Turnbull as preferred prime minister in the regions defined as non-capital cities.

The fact that blokes in the country are pissed off shouldn’t be a great surprise. This is where the loss of economic activity in the post mining boom era is felt most keenly. But the size and dimension of the disaffection would be a considerable worry for the government.

The people are cranky and the government, occupied for the past three months with same-sex marriage and determining the genealogy of every MP, is being blamed for it.


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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Showdown over casual workforce as unions, bosses clash

As usual, unions want to restrict jobs to their members only.  There will be a leap in unemployment if they get their way

Unions will launch a national campaign to restrict rising casual employment across the workforce, pressing for significant changes to the federal workplace laws that will be fiercely resisted by the business community.

The bid has set up a showdown between unions and industry groups opposed to changing the flexible working arrangements of 2.5 million Australians.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said unions would push federal Labor to commit to two key changes to the Fair Work Act: a new “proper” definition of casual work, and the option for casual workers to convert to permanent positions after six months of regular work with one employer.

Under the union claim, employers would not be able to reasonably refuse a request by a casual to convert to permanency, a proposal rejected by the Fair Work Commission in July.

“The issue of casualisation, the casualisation of jobs, is going to be a key focus of the whole trade union movement next year in 2018,” Ms McManus told The Australian.

“One of the key things we want to change for working ­people is turning around or reversing the casualisation of jobs.

“That goes to properly defining what a casual is, which is a real weakness in the Fair Work Act where there is no proper definition and there used to be.

“That’s allowed employers just to call people casuals even though they have been in ongoing employment for a long time.

“What we would want is the commonly understood and old definition of what casual employment is: if you have a reasonable expectation of ongoing work, you have been working regular shifts, you shouldn’t be defined as a casual, you should have all the rights of permanent employees.

“Secondly, changing the act to allow people who have been in these positions for a long time to be able to convert (to permanent positions).”

Employers attacked the union push, with the Australian Industry Group claiming the proposed changes “would be harmful for employees, businesses and the broader community”.

Stephen Smith, the group’s head of national workplace relations policy, said the ACTU bid to restrict casual employment was part of a broader union push to convince the public that the Fair Work Act was unfair on workers.

“The proposition is ridiculous,’’ Mr Smith said. “The Fair Work Act was im­plemented by the former Labor government. “It increased union power in more than 100 areas and markedly increased employee entitlements.

“Changes are needed to the act to increase flexibility, not to remove essential existing flexibility.

“Casual employment suits a very large number of people, who prefer this form of employment because it gives them the flexibility that they want or need.”

Retail trade, accommodation and food services account for about 38 per cent of casual workers across Australia.

Federal Labor has committed to examining the definition of casual work and to set an objective test for determining when a worker is casual.

Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor said Labor would have further talks with unions and ­employers, and take into account the commission’s decision on ­casual employment.

The commission put a casual- conversion clause in modern awards that allows casual employees engaged in regular patterns of work to request permanent positions after 12 months, but it said that employers should have the right to refuse the conversion requests.

Ms McManus said properly defining a casual would ensure “we don’t have situations where ­people end up being in casual work for 20 years”.

She said her preference was to have the definition become part of the national employment standards. “We prefer a universal ­application because some people fall out of the award system. “We would want this extended to everyone, so probably the best sol­ution is having it in the NES,” she said.

Ms McManus said she was confident Labor recognised that insecurity of work was “a high-order issue for working people and they are open to looking at ­solutions for that”. “I believe the issue of insecure work and wages not keeping up with the cost of living are universally felt,’’ she said. “If you are in casual work, or other forms of insecure work, the so-called gig economy, every single worker worries about it.

“Either you’re in it, or your kids are in it or you worry about being in it.”

She said workplace laws were not strong enough to combat the growth of insecure work. “There have been too many loopholes, too many ways for employers to get around ensuring people have rights and security at work,’’ she said.

“We believe it should be a high-order issue for all political parties but most obviously for the Labor Party to address.”

Mr Smith said the current standard definition of a casual employee was “an employee engaged and paid as a casual employee”.

“If an employee is engaged as a casual and paid a casual loading then they are a casual — regardless of the pattern of hours they work,’’ he said.

“If casual employment is to be defined in the Fair Work Act, it is vital that the standard definition be used. “Any change to this definition would disrupt a very large number of casual employment arrangements that suit the needs of the employees and businesses that they work for.”

Mr Smith said casual-conversion clauses were common in awards, with the employer having the right to refuse on reasonable business grounds.

“Few casuals are union members and this is perhaps the reason why unions are so focused on restricting this form of employment,’’ he said.


Teaching spoon-fed students how to really read

Writing below is Tegan Bennett Daylight, a Leftist lady with a love of literature, Australian literature particularly.  Her essay is very long-winded in the usual Leftist way so I have just picked out below some paragraphs that may summarize what she is driving at.  To be rather cliche about it, she seems to think that reading creative fiction broadens your horizons.  I think it does too but would choose quite different books to the ones she does.  Some of the books that have interested me are  listed here and here.  She refers to the novel "Monkey Grip" below.  It is about druggies, dropouts, single mothers and "arty" types. Not my scene

I’ve recently finished marking 40-odd exams, mostly written by people between the ages of 18 and 21. In them our students had to answer questions about aspects of literature, such as free indirect speech or genre. They also had to write an essay of 1,000 words, on the work of Helen Garner, Christos Tsiolkas, Judith Wright, Jack Davis or Tim Winton.

My students are, for the most part, education students who live in regional Australia. If they get their degree, they are bound for early childhood centres, preschools, primary schools, high schools. These are our new teachers.

If you have little to do with tertiary education you might not have noticed this: that there is a whole new cohort of young people attending university, people who might not have done so 30 or 40 years ago. Our economy has been transforming itself from blue to white collar for decades; an education that relies on the written word is newly necessary.

The first time I taught "Monkey Grip" in English One I was struck by two things. First, by how many of my students were offended by it. They found it too sexually explicit, too full of “profanity”, and they deplored Norah’s method of parenting: the shared household, the children exposed to drug taking and other radical behaviours.

The second thing that struck me was how difficult my students found the 10-page extract. They didn’t know who Helen Garner was, the 1970s were too far away to mean anything to them, and they couldn’t locate themselves in the story. They didn’t know who was speaking, and who she was speaking to. How old was she, where was she, what was happening?

Well, there is only one way to go on, as I tell students – and that is to go on. This is the first and greatest difficulty they face. There’s no reason for them to continue reading. There is so much else to read that is shorter, and not just aimed at them, but, in the case of their Facebook feed, tuned to their experience. Marketed to them. Why would they bother reading something that was neither for them nor about them?

But then there are moments like this one, early on in my English teaching, when my class were reading and struggling with Les Murray’s The Cows on Killing Day. I’d always loved this poem. In it the poet imagines the death by knife of an old cow, from the point of view of the herd. Murray uses a first person compound pronoun, all me, to speak in the cows’ collective voice:

All me come running. It’s like the Hot Part of the sky

that’s hard to look at, this that now happens behind wood

in the raw yard. A shining leaf, like off the bitter gum tree

is with the human. It works in the neck of me

and the terrible floods out, swamped and frothy.

I had a student who had already responded very positively to Helen Garner’s Against Embarrassment, a simple essay that makes a plea for unselfconscious pleasure in performance. Like many students would after her, she had read Garner’s essay in the light of her university enrolment; it made her determined to enjoy herself, to unselfconsciously engage in learning, to stop being critical of herself. She’d worked several years as a dairymaid after leaving school early, thinking she was “too stupid” for university. As we read The Cows on Killing Day aloud, her voice came ringing from the desks at the back of the class: “But this is exactly what it’s like!”

The Cows on Killing Day elicits a variety of reactions from my students, many of whom have been brought up on farms. I’ve had young people furious with me. They say, “I hate this poem. This shouldn’t be written about,” or, “No one likes it. But it’s a part of life.” I’ve also had city or mountains-bred students – there are a couple of them each year – who’ve never killed an animal in their life, and self-righteously feel that the poem is a paean to vegetarianism.

But this student, the ex-dairymaid, read the poem as it is meant to be read. Murray doesn’t ask for sympathy for the cow: his job is simply to use his art to show what it’s like. After this class, my student went from a pass for her first assignment to a distinction for her second. At the end of the semester she told me she’d decided to switch her teaching specialisation to English.

This is what my students have learned: how to read more than 200 words of a text at a time. How to write something about the way they feel. And, finally, how to notice that a text is doing something. Not to simply slump, bored, in front of a block of writing and hope that it goes away. How to notice that it is up to something. Perhaps, in the future, to read a little differently. To feel those ideas about literature, so angrily learned, change the way they see.


Bigotry is one thing, but let’s not attack free speech

The debate about religious freedom in the wake of the enactment of legislation for same-sex marriage is in many ways misconceived. The real issue is freedom of speech and this arises whether or not the statements made have a religious basis, even though the problem is likely to be largely one for religious bodies.

It seems unlikely there will be any long-term problem with the fabled baker who does not want to supply the wedding cake for a same-sex function. As it happens, this would amount to discrimination — that is, differential treatment — and so be unlawful conduct under the Sex Discrimination Act.

But the real problem for religious bodies is whether they can teach in schools and churches their belief that same-sex marriage is wrong. This is because all states and territories have anti-discrimination legislation that makes it unlawful to offend or insult various community groups, including effectively same-sex couples.

The broadest of these statutes is the Tasmanian legislation, which makes it unlawful to offend, humiliate, intimidate, insult or ridicule a person on the basis of various attributes, including sexual orientation, marital status and relationship status, in circumstances where a reasonable person would have anticipated that the subject of the statements would be offended or otherwise affected.

This leaves it open to a same-sex couple to complain if, for example, a statement is made that children are better off in a family constituted by the traditional marriage of a different-sex couple. It would, of course, be equally open to a different-sex couple living together but not married to complain about the same statement.

It may be that such statements are based on a religious belief as to the role of traditional marriage but it is obvious that this is not the only basis on which they might be made. Some non-religious individuals might simply have a view that traditional marriage provides the best environment for children for social and economic reasons.

Many people would disagree with these opinions but the question is whether it should be unlawful to express them. Like most of its state and territory counterparts, the Tasmanian legislation considers an otherwise unlawful publication defensible if it is produced “in good faith” for a purpose in the public interest. It might be thought that this would protect statements made in the course of religious teaching in church services and schools, as well as non-religious publications produced during debates on social issues.

There are, however, two problems with this defence. The first is that the notion of good faith is a subjective one and it is impossible to be certain what view the court or tribunal hearing a complaint would take of this question. The second is that the defence has little utility for an individual who may succeed in making that case only after proceedings have gone on for years in tribunals and courts. In addition to the heavy legal costs of such an exercise, there is the enormous stress that litigation causes any normal person who is subjected to it across a long period.

The difficulty with all laws of this kind is that they inevitably stifle public debate on contentious issues in the community. Advocates of these laws suggest they are necessary to deal with “hate speech”. No one argues that incitements to violence against any section of the community should not be unlawful and such conduct has always been unlawful under the criminal law. But such “hate speech” is hardly the same as expressing opinions in the course of a robust political debate that some people may find offensive.

The same advocates argue that freedom of speech is not an absolute value. Quite right. It has always been subject to various qualifications including, for example, the law of defamation, the law of contempt and publications that endanger national security. But these are different from laws that are designed to protect a person’s feelings from being offended.

It must be said that neither of Australia’s main political parties has a serious commitment to freedom of speech. Many politicians on both sides do not seem to understand how easily public debate can be stifled by laws affecting freedom of speech and how easy it is for these laws to be expanded once they are on the statute books.

Much the same can be said of the community in general but its awareness of this issue may be raised during the next few years if complaints against religious bodies are actively pursued because of their teachings on the role of marriage in society.


Pardon me, Canberra, your hypocrisy is showing

Corrupt politicians

On November 30 the government announced the establishment of a royal commission into the financial services sector.

In a joint statement, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison said the inquiry would consider “the conduct of banks, insurers, financial services providers and superannuation funds (not including self-managed superannuation funds). This will be a sensible, efficient and focused inquiry into misconduct and practices falling below community standards and expectations.”

Did the Prime Minister and Treasurer shuffle about as they made this announcement? Did they seem shifty in their ill-fitting self-righteous clothing as they took to the moral high ground? Did they give a second’s thought to an independent investigation into parliamentary practices that fell well “below community standards and expectations”? Answer: not on your life.

The sins of the financial ser­vices industry are one thing but, unlike their political masters, business leaders are governed by many layers of regulation and civil processes that offer recourse through prosecution, individual claims and class actions for suspected or proven misconduct.

Yet should anything threaten the Canberra collective, it simply closes ranks. After all, with so many privileges and the prospect of superannuation benefits beyond most Australians’ dreams of avarice, this cartel is impregnable.

Take the citizenship crisis that began last July. It continues to shine an unwelcome light on politicians’ links to other countries. Australia’s Constitution expressly bans parliamentarians from being entitled to the rights or privileges of, or to be a subject or citizen of, a foreign power. Yet 10 per cent of the parliament has resigned or remains under suspicion for just that.

Meanwhile, Turnbull and Bill Shorten are locked in a standoff over which MPs whose citizenship is in doubt should be referred to the High Court. How dare they sit in judgment when they have tried to cover up the ineligibility of some colleagues, pushed a “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement and scoffed at each other’s “carelessness” in a calculated attempt to deceive the public.

It explains why Turnbull supporter and Liberal frontbencher Arthur Sinodinos has yet to be referred to the High Court. Born in NSW to Greek parents, he may not be registered as a Greek citizen but neither has he renounced that citizenship and therefore may be lawfully bound by the policies and rights conferred by the Greek government.

Shorten factional ally David Feeney claims he renounced his British entitlements in 2007, but neither he nor the British Home Office can find the papers. The same Feeney forgot to declare a $2.3 million house in his register of pecuniary interests. Yet Labor sheltered him.

This is the Canberra culture. Do as I say, not as I do.

Take our jetsetting Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. She claimed $1.2m in expenses last year, including a trip to Sydney for a film premiere and a day at the polo. She charged taxpayers $7000 for four trips to Adelaide that coincided with her older sister’s birthdays. The Herald Sun also found eight occasions when official business took her to the same city her beloved Eagles were playing away games. Nothing to see there.

Nor when Labor frontbencher Tony Burke was forced to declare two undisclosed separate stays worth thousands of dollars at Eddie Obeid’s luxury Perisher ski lodge in 2004 to 2006. Or when Burke took his family on a taxpayer-funded business class trip to Uluru during the 2012 school holidays, or used a family reunion entitlement to take four family members from Ballina back to Sydney during the 2010 school holidays. To be fair, he did repay $94 claimed as travel expenses to attend a Robbie Williams concert.

In a seven-year period, Burke claimed more than $4.6m, or almost $60,000 a month in expenses. He is now manager of opposition business. Go figure.

But even this “anything goes” culture has limits. When Labor senator Sam Dastyari allowed a Chinese government-linked company to pay off a $1600 travel debt, give him two bottles of Grange worth $1400 (disclosed as “two bottles of wine”) and meet a $40,000 legal bill, the obvious conflict finally became too much for him to remain on the frontbench and then in the Senate. That’s how low the bar is. No wonder Donald Trump’s “drain the swamp” resonates so strongly with the electorate.

If companies gave false profit guidance the way governments promise a return to budget surplus, boards and management would face serious Australian Securities & Investments Commissions charges. If a business claimed it could deliver a new broadband network for $26 billion when the ultimate cost was about three times that, then those responsible would be sued for negligence. But not in politics. Politicians take big bets using other people’s money. They take credit for successes while taxpayers underwrite their mistakes. This is a bad deal for taxpayers.

The financial services royal commission is a rank political exercise that serves to remind us of the double standards and questionable competence of those who have commissioned it.

It will make recommendations that politicians, who thrive on populism and headlines and, whose priority is tenure, will implement.

It’s the risk we run when our parliament consists of careerists whose real-world experience is limited to being a political staff member or a trade union official. It’s an unpredictable mix of ambition and dangerous ideology. It highlights a crisis in governance and a crying need to widen the gene pool of our elected representatives. What was once a noble pursuit of public service has being corrupted by mercenaries. If liberties have to be taken, the ends justify the means.

Political parties may compete for the spoils of office, but ideologically their differences are blurred, and when push comes to shove they have demonstrated where their loyalties really lie. And it’s not with the Australian people.


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, December 27, 2017

Australia closes in on joint defence force deal with Japan

Tokyo: Japan and Australia are close to agreeing a visiting forces agreement (VFA), which would foster smooth military operations between the two countries, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull plans to visit Japan and hold talks with his counterpart Shinzo Abe to confirm the agreement ny mid-January, according to sources close to both governments.

With an eye to starting talks on a similar pact with Britain by the end of 2018, Tokyo intends to deepen international security cooperation through multiple avenues by strengthening coordination with "quasi-allies" – in addition to the United States – should circumstances on the Korean Peninsula and in the East and South China seas grow more severe.

A VFA comprehensively stipulates the legal status of foreign forces engaged in temporary activities, such as joint exercises and disaster-relief missions, in a nation's territory.

The broad agreement with Canberra would be Tokyo's first-ever VFA accord, though it has concluded a status of forces agreement with the United States premised on the long-term presence of its ally's forces in Japan.

In the talks between Japan and Australia, which began in 2014, the two governments agreed to implement such measures as simplifying procedures when Japan's Self-Defence Force (SDF) or the Australian military temporarily stay in either country for joint exercises and other missions, by exempting customs on carried items and granting permission to bring arms and ammunition.

In cases where relevant parties including defense forces personnel commit crimes in either country, the law of the country in which the crime was committed, in principle, will take priority. Tokyo and Canberra will continue talks on such cases, as additional time is necessary to clarify details on exceptions and the specific scope of the rules, among other issues.

The two governments aim to officially reach an agreement on the VFA and begin implementation by the end of 2019.

Behind Tokyo's effort to develop VFAs lies its recent focus on conducting joint drills between the SDF and foreign forces.

In 2015, the Ground Self-Defence Force participated in US-Australia joint exercises for the first time. The Air Self-Defence Force also plans to hold its first joint drill with the Royal Australian Air Force in Japan next year.

In the meantime, Japan and Britain agreed to aim to conduct joint drills on a regular basis at so-called two-plus-two talks between their foreign and defense ministers on December 14. They are pursuing a conclusion to the VFA with an aim to expand the drills.

A VFA is expected to have the effect of "demonstrating a bilateral relationship of trust both within and outside" the two countries, according to a senior official at the Defense Ministry.

Tokyo intends to expand its security cooperation network based on Abe's "free and open Indo-Pacific strategy" in a bid to strengthen deterrence against North Korea and to warn against China's maritime advances.


Australia abstains from UN vote calling for the US to drop its recognition of Jerusalem

Australia’s decision to abstain from a controversial United Nations vote on a US move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was “disappointing”, the Palestinian Authority’s representative in Canberra said.

But the Israeli embassy has welcomed the move, saying the Jewish state “appreciated” the gesture.

SBS News contacted both embassies in the wake of the vote, in which an overwhelming 120 countries opted to urge the United States to reverse Donald Trump’s decision.

Only nine countries voted against the resolution, including Israel and the US. Most of the other seven countries were small island nations, including Nauru.

A further 35 counties abstained, including Australia and Canada.

The United Kingdom was of the majority of countries that voted Yes, despite threats from the United States that it would take the result “personally”.

The Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, said the result was disappointing, especially given that Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop had said on Thursday the UN motion did not “conflict” with Australia’s position of supporting a two-state solution.

“It was disappointing, a little bit. Because… Ms Bishop said just three or four days ago the position of Mr Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will increase tension,” Mr Abdulhadi told SBS News.

Mr Abdulhadi said the decision to abstain was “very obviously” driven by a desire to appease Australia’s ally, the United States.

In a statement, Ms Bishop told SBS News the decision to abstain was consistent with Australia’s position. “Australia’s voting position… concerning Jerusalem reflected our assessment that it did not materially advance the peace process,” the statement read. “We do not wish to see any party isolated from the process through this resolution, so we abstained on this occasion.”

But Israel’s ambassador to Australia, Mark Sofer, said the decision to abstain was welcome. “There are enormous amounts of constraints and pulls and pushes, and we appreciate the Australian vote,” Mr Sofer said. “Australia didn’t find itself drawn into yet another Israel-bashing resolution.”

Mr Sofer said it was inconsistent that the UN General Assembly had dealt with 21 resolutions on Israel, but only a handful about states like North Korea, Iran and Syria, where human rights have been abused on a massive scale.

“Does it mean anything? No it doesn’t, to us. It’s non-binding. Jerusalem has been the capital since time immemorial,” Mr Sofer said.

“The truth is the United Nations, the General Assembly I’m talking about here, has really become an impediment to peace in the Middle East rather than something that’s going to assist and move us along in the direction that we need to be.”

While the US has committed to moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, Australia will keep its embassy in Tel Aviv, the foreign minister said.


NSW teachers behind homosexual "education"

We were told during the same sex marriage postal survey that the issue had nothing to do with what our children were being taught in schools and that concerns about the expansion of the Safe Schools Program and promotion of gender theory were red herrings.

However no less than 24 hours after the passing of same sex marriage into law op-ed pieces appeared online claiming that the next cause the movement should champion is LGBT inclusive education in schools.

What many people weren’t aware of during the postal survey was that many teachers and education unions support the yes campaign. The most prominent supporter was the Australian Education Union which represents school teachers at both primary and secondary level and is the largest union in the education sector.

State governments can remove Safe Schools type programs and ban the teaching of gender theory, but they cannot stop activist teachers from inserting their political agenda into the everyday classroom. This something that parents should be aware of as teachers’ political agendas are not exactly hidden.

The latest display of their agenda is that the New South Wales Teachers Federation wants to have a float in the 2018 Sydney Mardi Gras which has been the case in previous years. The organisers of the Mardi Gras appropriately declined with the official reason being that next year being the 40th anniversary of the parade they are already over their float capacity and can’t approve all applications.

Despite the inappropriateness of the teachers marching in what is a blatant political event not to mention contains explicit sexualised content the New South Wales Teachers Federation is not taking no for an answer. They have launched a petition on to pressure the Mardi Gras to accept their application. So far it has gained 1800 signatures.

Parents should be deeply concerned about any teachers marching in such a parade and what it means for the education of their children. If teachers believe that the Mardi Gras is an event they should participate in a public capacity, then what does it mean for how they approach their job in the classroom?

Developments such as this certainly point to the fact that more radical aspects of the LGBT agenda are being pushed after the legislation of same sex marriage especially to our youth by the people we entrust with their education. Teachers should be sticking to the three Rs and if they want to be politically active do it in their own time and not in a capacity as an educator.


Stand up to thugs, Kevin Rudd tells Bill Shorten

Kevin Rudd has declared the Labor Party must reject the dictates of “factional thugs” and union powerbrokers if it is to regain government, and he accused Bill Shorten of a “lack of leadership” over maverick former CFMEU leader Joe McDonald.

The former Labor leader and prime minister responded angrily yesterday to the awarding of a Labor “outstanding service award” to the West Australian Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union delegate who has convictions for assault, threats, trespass, contempt of court and industrial breaches.

Mr Rudd told The Weekend Australian Mr McDonald, whom he forced from the ALP in 2007 for threatening behaviour on a Perth building site, was damaging and destroying Labor values and dictating to the parliamentary party.

Mr Rudd also accused the Opposition Leader of “cowering” to “faceless men and factional thugs” who had narrow individual and factional interests and were undermining the authority of the ALP.

For the past two weeks, Mr Shorten has been deeply involved in political factional deals in NSW and Victoria involving union demands to nominate ALP candidates, conference delegates and union posts. “For the Labor Party to return to office in Australia, it needs to have a political authority above and beyond the dictates of factional thugs and faceless men,” Mr Rudd said yesterday.

“That’s because the Labor Party stands for basic values of freedom and a fair go for all Australians — values which have nothing to with the narrow interests of individual factional and certain industrial powerbrokers.

“In fact, these are the sort of men who damage and destroy our basic values as a movement through their behaviour,” he said.

This week, Mr McDonald, who was awarded an ALP outstanding service award despite being the most prosecuted union leader in Australia, taunted the former Labor prime minister and his then deputy and leadership contender against Mr Shorten, Anthony ­Albanese.

He said he would like to see the look on the faces of Mr Rudd and Mr Albanese when they heard of the award honouring his lifetime contribution to the ALP.

“I might send them a photo of me with my certificate and they can use it on their Christmas cards,” he said.

“Rudd got me expelled for swearing, but he wasn’t too bad with the four-letter adjectives himself. I am still a member of the ALP and I am a CFMEU delegate to the Labor Party, so I’m still here and he (Mr Rudd) is long gone,” Mr McDonald said.

Yesterday, Mr Rudd said one of the reasons Labor won in 2007 “was because as leader I refused to cower to these faceless men and factional thugs”.

“I’m proud of the fact I demanded the expulsion of Dean Mighell in Victoria and Joe McDonald in WA. They resigned as a result. These two are bad for the public standing of the Labor Party, the labour movement and the vast bulk of the trade union membership and leadership,” he said.

Mr Rudd said “that my successors presided over the readmission of McDonald, and others, reflects a lack of leadership”.

“For McDonald to be given an ‘outstanding service award’ is particularly interesting. Outstanding definitely. Outstandingly destructive for the party,” he said.

“These sort of awards should be for ordinary branch members who put their life and soul into the ­values of the movement,” Mr Rudd said.

West Australian Deputy Premier Roger Cook presented the award to Mr McDonald on Monday after he was welcomed back into the ALP’s WA branch in 2013 while serving as assistant state secretary of the CFMEU.

WA Premier Mark McGowan, who has said he will not be influenced by Labor-linked militant unions in government, did not ­attend Monday’s meeting.

During his contentious career, Mr McDonald has been fined over incidents that have cost the CFMEU’s rank-and-file members more than $1 million in penalties.

According to the Australian Building and Construction Commission, Mr McDonald holds the record for the highest total of penalties awarded against an ­individual.


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, December 24, 2017

‘Criminal sanctions are available for false statements’: ATO tools up for empty house crackdown

An attack on property rights. Pure Communism.  Why can I not leave my own property vacant if I want to?  Private housing is not collectively owned.  It is not public property. This whole thing is just green-eyed jealousy

WOULD you dob in your neighbour for leaving their home unoccupied? That’s the hope of federal and state governments as they prepare for a major crackdown on houses and apartments sitting empty around the country.

In November, federal Parliament passed legislation giving the Australian Taxation Office power to fine foreign investors up to $5500 a year if they leave their properties empty, plus up to $52,500 for failing to lodge their forms.

Meanwhile, the Victorian state government’s vacant residential land tax kicks in from January 1, with owners in 16 council areas facing potential fines equal to 1 per cent of the property’s value.

In 2016, 11.2 per cent of private dwellings were unoccupied on Census night, compared with 10.7 per cent five years earlier, totalling 1,089,165 dwellings. In Melbourne and Sydney, the number of empty properties increased by 19 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

But according to UNSW professor Hal Pawson, those figures “substantially overstate” the true number because they include temporarily empty dwellings.

“Lack of reliable data on empty homes is a major problem in Australia,” Prof Pawson wrote in The Conversation. In 2014, an analysis of water usage data by Prosper Australia estimated that about 82,000 homes in Melbourne were vacant — about half the Census figure.

“Applying a similar ‘conversion factor’ to Sydney’s Census numbers would indicate around 68,000 speculative vacancies,” Prof Pawson wrote.

“Considering that thousands of people sleep rough — almost 7000 on Census night in 2011, more than 400 per night in Sydney in 2017 — and that hundreds of thousands face overcrowded homes or unaffordable rents, these seem like cruel and immoral revelations.

“Public awareness of unused homes has been growing in Australia and globally. In London, Vancouver and elsewhere — just as in Sydney and Melbourne — the night-time spectacle of dark spaces in newly built ‘luxury towers’ has triggered outrage.

“This has struck a chord with the public not only because of its connotations of obscene wealth inequality and waste, but also because of the contended link to foreign ownership.”

A spokeswoman for the ATO said foreign investors with Foreign Investment Review Board approval would be required to lodge an annual “vacancy fee return”, currently being designed, which will consist of an online declaration and payment system.

“If the fees and charges accumulate and remain unpaid, a hold can be placed over the property so that unpaid amounts are recouped when the property is sold,” she said.

“The Treasurer can also have a property sold to recoup unpaid fees if required. The ATO expects that the severity of the penalties for non-lodgement will encourage foreign investors to lodge the vacancy fee return.”

Shukri Barbara, principal adviser at the Property Tax Specialists, said it was unclear exactly how the policy would be enforced but that “the artificial intelligence capability of the ATO in data matching is absolutely sensational”.

“They’re able to match every field of tax return information with outside data, particularly as it relates to local government,” he said, adding international data sharing agreements between OECD countries would also play a role.

“In my experience, in our practice, it’s had an impact. The market has slowed down as far as prices are concerned.”

Mr Barbara added that, anecdotally, Chinese buyers — who would until recently have bought properties without even seeing them — had dried up. “That’s all gone now,” he said.

The spokeswoman said the ATO would establish the identity of foreign investors “through the FIRB application approval process, land titles information, community referrals, information from various state and federal agencies, and our existing data matching processes, which have a high detection rate”.

“A comprehensive communications strategy is in place to raise awareness and to assist foreign investors and their intermediaries understand the requirements of the vacancy fee including a suite of online products and web content,” she said.

“The ATO is also reminding foreign investors of their reporting requirements and the penalties for non-lodgement of the vacancy fee return through the FIRB application approval process, email notifications and a targeted communication campaign.

“Through our existing data matching capabilities together with increased community awareness the ATO is confident that the risk of non-identification of foreign investors subject to the vacancy fee is low.”

She added that if there were doubts about the validity of the vacancy fee return, the ATO would check the claim through “tax return data, immigration data and information from electricity and other utility providers”.

“If the foreign investor claims that they have rented the dwelling or made it available for rent then the ATO can check against the data detailed above as well as lease and real estate agent agreements, internet searches and records of rental tenancies authorities,” she said.

“If the foreign investor claims the dwelling is rented, but this is through short-term leases of less than 30 days, even if this totals over six months ... the foreign owner will still need to pay the vacancy fee as the law requires leases to be of a residential nature of at least 30 days duration.

“Criminal sanctions are available for false and misleading statements.”

The Victorian State Revenue Office simply said it “undertakes monitoring and compliance activities to ensure that vacant residences are being declared”. “Our compliance program includes comparing our data with that of other state and federal agencies, and conducting investigations,” the SRO said.

The issue of vacant houses with missing foreign owners has cropped up twice in recent months. In November, a top-floor unit in inner-city Darlinghurst was put up for sale after a protracted legal battle, and earlier this month a notorious squatter’s house in Redfern also went under the hammer.

Faiyaaz Shafiq, a strata law expert from JS Mueller & Co Lawyers, said at the time the problem would only get worse. “A lot of people are buying properties from overseas and leaving them,” he said. “So many owners are out there with units locked up, empty, and no one can find them.”


Call it for what it is: an Islamist terror attack

We have all been knocked off kilter by this terror attack in Melbourne, another cowardly, vicious and sickening attack using a car to mow down innocent civilians.

The police arrested an Afghan migrant who according to their own reports cited the treatment of Muslims as his grievance and his motivation.

Yet Victoria Police waited five hours before sharing any of the ­detailed information and even then denied any link to terrorism.

This denial is so worrying so ­ignorant and so dangerous, yet even the Prime Minister adopted this same ridiculous line.

They tell us a Muslim migrant from Afghanistan has mown down people and raved about the treatment of Muslims yet they say there is no link to terrorism.

How can the public feel safe if the authorities and politicians won’t even confront the very real enemy of Islamist extremism terrorism.

This is the evil whose name they dare not speak — they are in jihad denialism.

And this is not about demonising our Muslim Australians they understand this threat better than most. They don’t want their lives ruined or threatened by these extremists any more than you or I do.

Many political leaders, some security agencies and much of the media are too timid to even discuss the ideology that wishes us ill. They prefer to talk about methods or weapons. Hosting a global summit on the threat in 2015, Barack Obama talked about “countering violent extremism”. Don’t mention the religion. Avert your eyes from the inspiration.

When a Muslim extremist invoked Islamic State and took ­people hostage in a Sydney cafe, journalists and activists tried to redefine it as a mental health episode.

When a teenager walked from a Parramatta mosque and shot a stranger dead while yelling “Allahu akbar”, the police said, hours later, there was nothing to suggest terrorism.

Even ASIO head Duncan Lewis called on politicians to refrain from linking Islamism and terrorism.

It is difficult for most of us to comprehend this determination to deny or play down how Islamist extremism foments these attacks. Do people believe if we ignore the jihadists they will go away?


Turnbull defends Snowy Hydro's high price

Another burden imposed on us by the Warmist hoax

Malcolm Turnbull has defended the ballooning cost of upgrading the Snowy Hydro scheme, arguing the "vitally important" project is financially viable.

The plan to increase capacity of the iconic scheme by 50 per cent will make up to 2000 megawatts available to the national electricity market.

A feasibility study has found the project, while financially and technically viable, is likely to cost between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion, far outweighing the initial estimate of $2 billion.

"Of course it is an expensive project, but any big infrastructure project has a price tag," the prime minister told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

Mr Turnbull said the total cost would only soar to $12 billion if the Commonwealth bought out Victoria and NSW's ownership of the scheme.

"We certainly would welcome that, but that's really two different transactions," Mr Turnbull said.

The study uncovered more complex geology than expected, pushing the cost estimate higher.

Mr Turnbull said the project would ensure reliable and affordable energy while helping Australia to meet emissions reduction obligations.  "The project is vitally important," he said.

"As we move to energy mix in which we have more and more intermittent sources of energy, you've got to have something to back it up when the sun isn't shining."

Labor have pounced on the higher price estimate, with energy spokesman Mark Butler saying the prime minister had painted an unrealistic picture of the project earlier in the year.

"This project only stacks up if it is put alongside an ambitious renewable energy program, like Labor's 50 per cent renewable energy target," Mr Butler told ABC radio.

While the opposition is supportive of the overall concept, it wants to see the modelling behind the feasibility study.

The project will link two major dams in the Snowy Mountains with 27kms of tunnels. If it goes ahead, it won't produce power until 2024.


Parents accuse high school of 'indoctrinating' their children after teachers gave them assignments on changing the Australian flag and criticising President Trump

A Brisbane high school has been accused of 'indoctrinating' students by asking them to complete assignments on changing the Australian flag and criticising US President Donald Trump.

Parents of students at Kenmore State High School in Brisbane, Queensland, have complained of overtly political homework assignments which they say have no place in the classroom.

One particular assignment asked students to argue 'persuasively' in favour of Australia having a new flag, Sky News reports.

'I was really incensed because all these reasons for changing the flag were very political,' said Marion Tomes, grandmother to a male student at Kenmore State High School.

The criteria of the assignment read as followed: 'Write a persuasive speech that explains and justifies the design of your new flag and how it represents contemporary Australia.'

Another 'politicised' assignment Ms Tomes objected to was her grandson's English homework which asked him to write about saving Antarctica from melting.

The woman's granddaughter also previously attended the high-school, but she has since left after Ms Tomes took issue with the curriculum. 

She claims the teacher threatened bad marks to anyone who had positive things to say about the US President. 'The teacher did say that anyone who says a good word about Donald Trump won't get a good mark,' Ms Tomes added.

Author and former teacher Mark Lopez echoes Ms Tomes' concerns and said is it not uncommon for Australian students be taught with a fierce political bias.

'Absolutely typical of what goes on in the Australian education system... one side only. Politically correct left-wing view,' Mr Lopez told Sky News.

However the Queensland Department of Education and Training said in a statement that the examples of study are 'aligned to the intent of the Australian curriculum'.


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, December 22, 2017

Small hiatus

I have just got out of some rather extensive day surgery so am feeling a bit worn down.  I expect to be back in a day or two


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Australia records its highest ever immigration rate – with the population tipped to reach 25 million in months

This is insane. What will we do with them all?  Housing prices will be pushed up.  Traffic congestion will increase. Law and order will decline and hospitals will be stretched even more. Time to move out of Sydney and Melbourne if you want a convenient life

Australia's population is set to reach the 25 million milestone within a matter of months.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates the nation adds a new person every one minute and 26 seconds, making Australia the world's fastest growing developed nation.

With Australia's population standing at 24,772,437 people as of Tuesday night, the 25 million milestone is set to be reached in 2018.

Australia's net immigration soared by a record 27 per cent in the year to June 30, 2017, compared with the previous year, as 245,400 new foreigners arrived.

Sydney and Melbourne are choking with new residents, with the ABS's director of demography Beidar Cho pointing out overseas migration grew by 31 per cent in New South Wales and 23 per cent in Victoria.

Both states recorded their highest ever net immigration pace surpassing a growth level last experienced in 2008, the ABS said.

In the year to the end of June, NSW added 98,600 new migrants while Victoria absorbed 86,900 new overseas residents.

Growth was slower in the other states, with Queensland's net migration rate up by 31,100 while Western Australia took in 13,100 new migrants.

Australia has the fastest population growth pace of any developed nation in the Organisation for for Economic Co-operation and Development with an annual growth pace of 1.6 per cent.

That is more than double the annual population growth pace of the United States (0.7 per cent) and the U.K. (0.6 per cent), and above the expansion rate of The Philippines and Singapore (1.5 per cent).

Only Papua New Guinea, a poor nation to Australia's north, posted a faster population growth pace, expanding by 2.1 per cent.

Australians are also retiring later, with the ABS's chief economist Bruce Hockman revealing on Tuesday the planned retirement age for those aged over 45 had stretched out to 65, up from 63 in 2007.

'This is consistent with the continuing trend of people staying in the workforce for longer,' he said. 'A decade ago, around 9 per cent of people aged 65 and over were employed. This has increased to around 13 per cent in 2016-17.'

In 1998, the ABS forecast Australia's population wouldn't reach between 23.5 and 26.4 million until 2051.


Bill Shorten working on secret deal with thug union in a bid to secure leadership

BILL Shorten is working on a secret deal with the grubby CFMEU and the hard-core left to secure his leadership in return for giving the union spots in his federal Labor team.

The Daily Telegraph has obtained a leaked working agreement of a deal currently being negotiated between Mr Shorten, the CFMEU’s Victorian Assistant Secretary Shaun Reardon, who is facing blackmail charges, and the Industrial Left (IL), which includes the Maritime Union of Australia, Rail Tram and Bus Union, the Financial Sector Union and the Health and Community Services Union.

A day before the crucial Bennelong by-election last weekend, Mr Shorten met with factional players Adem Somyurek, who was forced to resign from Victorian cabinet over bullying claims two years ago and the Plumbers Union’s Earl Setches as well as factional ally Andrew Landeryou in his office to discuss the agreement, which has not yet been signed.

A key part of the deal Mr Shorten is broking with the militant unions to give them more power in federal Parliament — including a safe seat.

“This agreement replaces the previous ‘Stability Deal’ which allocated held seats to individual factions over many years, fettering the democratic rights of the membership and affiliated trade unions,” it states.

“It is, however, recognised that the IL (which includes a significant number of unions and rank and file members) is not adequately represented in state and federal parliamentary or party structures due to the operation of the Stability Agreements. The IL will also be supported for a safe seat in the round of 2022 federal seat preselections … ”.

The agreement states its “focus” is to re-elect Bill Shorten, and his Centre Unity (CU) faction, at a federal level.

“The focus of this approach and this Alliance is to ensure a re-elected Andrews Labor Government in Victoria and a Shorten Labor government nationally,” it states.

“Where seats become vacant or new seats created, CU and the IL will support each others’ candidates.”

It comes with the NSW right furious at Mr Shorten’s decision to dump Sam Dastyari from the Senate. The move threatens to rock the stability of his leadership.

A senior NSW ALP source said Mr Shorten’s move against the right by walking away from Mr Dastyari left him vulnerable. “There was no one more loyal to Bill than Sam and now that he’s gone, who is there to hold back the floodgates?” the source said.


Queensland property chiefs warn rise in land tax will hurt more than the rich

NEW Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad has defended the Government’s planned “Robin Hood” property tax ahead of her first Budget update tomorrow.

Ms Trad dismissed claims from the Property Council that the planned 2.5 per cent land tax on properties worth more than $10 million would hurt jobs growth and property values.

“This is a very modest increase... we think it’s fair that those that can pay a little bit more, do pay a little bit more,” Ms Trad said.

Overnight, The Sunday Mail quoted property chiefs as warning Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s last-gasp election tax grab would destroy jobs and wipe more than $41 billion from land values in Queensland.

A 2.5 per cent extra slug on owners of land worth more than $10 million was part of a suite of tax measures in Labor’s final campaign announcement, two days before last month’s state election win.

The Premier compared herself to Robin Hood, targeting only the richest.

But the Property Council says ordinary Queenslanders will pay the price, with a risk to employment and businesses forced to pass on the cost to consumers.

The land tax measure will be included in the Mid Year Fiscal and Economic Review to be presented tomorrow by Ms Trad, who was handed the role of treasurer in last week’s Cabinet reshuffle.

It is expected to raise an additional $227 million for the state’s coffers.

“The inconvenient truth for the Government is the vast majority of properties that will have to wear this tax are commercial, retail, industrial and tourism properties,’’ Property Council Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said.

“We heard all through the election campaign that business cost pressures are particularly acute because of price increases like electricity ... making it tougher for businesses to employ people. Now Queensland businesses will need to add land tax to their list of concerns before they think about hiring staff.”

Economist Nick Behrens said the amount raised through land tax had risen faster than any other tax in Queensland in the past decade – up 108 per cent, compared to the 66 per cent Australian average.

The new measures mean only South Australia and Western Australia will have a higher rate. That will make it harder to lure businesses to set up in the Sunshine State.

“We’re in a race to attract and retain investment. Now we’re putting lead in our saddlebags that will impede our ability to compete,” Mr Behrens said.

Ms Trad said the extra land tax would apply only to the wealthiest 850 payers of land tax.

“It does not include farms, and it does not impact on the family home. The land tax ensures that those who are benefiting most from our growing economy and rising land values make a fair contribution to frontline services in Queensland.”


Another disgraceful Sydney cop

An off-duty Sydney police sergeant who was found guilty of using her rank and authority to avoid being randomly breath tested by a junior colleague has been jailed in a Sydney court.

Sarah Louise Johnston, 50, drove away from the RBT site without having been tested after a short conversation with the rookie officer at North Sydney on January 8, 2016.

She wept in the dock on Friday as Judge Christopher Hoy sentenced her to 16 months in jail with a non-parole period of 12 months.

'I consider the offender's conduct was disgraceful,' he said at the Downing Centre District Court.

The trial heard Johnston drank at least one schooner of beer while celebrating the new year with colleagues from North Sydney Police Station at two nearby pubs.

She was driving home to the Central Coast when she was pulled over at a random breath testing site on the Pacific Highway at Crows Nest.

Two junior officers conducting the RBTs - Constable Cameron Brooks and Constable Tugcan Sackesen - immediately recognised her.

Const Sackesen gave evidence at the trial that Johnston first pulled her car up alongside Const Brooks but rolled forward towards him before Const Brooks could breath test her.

'Hi sergeant, you've just been stopped for a random breath test,' Const Sackesen told her. He said she replied: 'You're not going to breath test me are you?' 'Yes sergeant I am,' he said.

She allegedly said: 'No because that would be a conflict of interest.' 'Imagine if I blew over, which I won't, because I'm not.' He said she told him it would put him in an 'awkward situation'.

On Friday Judge Hoy said the experienced and well regarded supervisor set a 'disgraceful example' that night. He said she 'brought shame upon herself... and to all honest members of the police force'.

'This is misconduct the community would expect honest and upstanding members of the police force... to abhor, resist and report,' he said.

Judge Hoy commended the two junior officers for courageously reporting her misconduct. Johnston will be eligible for release in December 2018.


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, December 20, 2017

Panic that foreign boats are set to fish in Australian waters

They always have done -- on case by case arrangements.  Some good fishing grounds are remote from Australian fishing ports so are "under-fished".  In those cases selected foreign boats that comply with Australian crewing and other standards are allowed catches by the Australian government.

The panic is to distract from the Turnbull government's move towards unlocking big fisheries that were locked up for no good reason by the last Greenie-influenced Labor government.  There are at the moment very few areas of Queensland waters where fishing is allowed, leaving a valuable food source unused

Australia has vast areas suitable for sustainable fishing but Greenie inspired fishing bans mean that Australia imports a lot of its table fish-- particularly from New Zealand

The federal government is stripping marine protections from remote waters off the Australian coast because it plans to change the law to allow foreign fishing boats with low-paid crews to fish there, a leading fisheries expert claims.

The suggestion, backed by conservationists, has been rejected by the government as "unsubstantiated scaremongering".

However the Australian Fisheries Management Authority says some waters are being under-fished and they are in talks with several operators about allowing foreign boats to operate in Australia's fishing zone under existing laws.

The Turnbull government has proposed changes to the 3.3 million square kilometres of Australia's protected offshore regions, allowing commercial fishing in a host of sensitive marine areas.

Dr Quentin Hanich, head of fisheries governance research at the University of Wollongong's Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, said many of the proposed changes were in distant waters far from port and "it had never been profitable for the fishers to go there".

"But if you allow cheap distant-water vessels to come in ... those vessels won't come into port. That combined with subsidised fuel, a $1000 annual wage and a whole bunch of problems with the way they treat their crews means they have incredibly low costs and can fish those remote areas," he said.

"Not only does that undermine the protection of those conservation values, it will return incredibly little benefit to Australia."

Dr Hanich, who advises international organisations and governments on fisheries governance and marine conservation, said such a scenario would require law changes allowing cheap foreign boats.

He believed the government's proposed weakening of protected marine areas was based on "hypothetical future changes in Australian regulations on foreign vessels [that] may enable industry to reduce business costs and fish in these previously economically marginal zones".

Dr Hanich questioned the economic need to relax marine protections, saying official estimates showed that under current laws, it would result in a mere $4 million gain to the Australian fishing industry.

There are no foreign boats operating in the Australian fishing zone. Foreign boats can be deemed Australian, and allowed to fish in Australian waters, when there are no domestic boats of that type available – such as large distant-water boats that can deep-freeze fish and stay at sea for long periods. Such boats must operate under Australian standards.

AFMA confirmed it has been in "discussions with a number of operators this year about deeming boats to be Australian across several fisheries".

At a Senate estimates hearing in October, AFMA chief executive James Findlay said there was "significant underfishing ... going on in a number of quota-managed fisheries."

"We're only taking about half of the quota that we've scientifically demonstrated is sustainable. Understandably, quota holders are looking to explore opportunities to harvest that quota ... they're looking at opportunities on the global market to bring in cheap capacity," he said.

Mr Findlay said the moves were not linked to the wind-back of marine protections.

However Pew Charitable Trusts oceans director Michelle Grady insisted the "ambition of the tuna industry to see very deep water remote areas fished" was driving the marine park changes.

This could lead to increased bycatch of threatened species, depleted fish stocks and the loss of large conservation areas, she said.

Water Resources Minister Anne Ruston said such claims had "no substance".

"Of course it is not the intention, nor has it ever been the intention, of the government to allow foreign fishing vessels to fish in Australian waters as a result of changes to marine park zoning," she said.

Tuna Australia chief executive David Ellis described as "absurd" the claim that the Australian fishing industry required foreign vessels to access fishing areas, and said Australia was "recognised worldwide as a leader in sustainable fishery management".

Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin said cheap foreign labour "results in a race to the bottom rather than decent wages for all", and unions would fight any such move in the fishing industry.


Conservative Liberal Party members the big winners in Turnbull’s reshuffle

Rising conservative stars Christian Porter and Dan Tehan have emerged as the big winners in Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle, as the Prime Minister moves to renew his frontbench.

Mr Turnbull is expected to announce today the make-up of his new ministry, which will leave the majority of his senior leadership team unchanged.

The Australian has confirmed that Mr Tehan, a regional Victorian MP who is currently Veterans Affairs Minister, will be elevated into cabinet following demands from country Liberal MPs for representation at the cabinet table.

Mr Porter, the Social Services Minister from Western Australia who has been lauded for his work on welfare reforms, has been confirmed as the replacement for Attorney-General George Brandis who will retire and replace Alexander Downer as the High Commissioner in London. Mr Porter’s promotion opens the possibility that Mr Tehan will take over the critical role of social services minister.

The Australian also understands that cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos, who stepped down due to ill health, will not return to cabinet, leaving another vacancy.

Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will, as revealed by The Australian, take over the critical transport and infrastructure portfolios from Victorian Nationals MP Darren Chester in an attempt to boost the government’s stocks in regional Australia.

There was speculation last night that Mr Chester would be dumped from cabinet by Mr Joyce to make way for another Nationals MP, with the junior Coalition partner set to retain its quota of five cabinet positions. This would leave Mr Joyce, who has ultimate say over which Nationals MPs go into cabinet, to try to resolve demands by the Queensland Nationals for greater representation.

NSW senator Marise Payne will keep the defence portfolio, ­despite speculation she would seek appointment as the Australian ambassador to NATO and suggestions that she had not performed well in defence.

Treasury, health, education, and foreign affairs will all remain unchanged. Speculation that sacked former ministers Stuart Robert and Sussan Ley would be returned, were last night dismissed by senior government sources.

It has also been speculated that NSW conservative MP Angus Taylor will take the second cabinet vacancy left by Mr Sinodinos, ­although this had not been confirmed last night.

In a reshuffle that will avert major ructions at the same time as promoting new talent, the Prime Minister is believed to be promoting Queensland LNP MP John McVeigh, who served as agriculture minister in the state government of Campbell Newman from 2012-15, into the ministry.

The shake-up of ministers under new Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is believed to include a security minister and an immigration minister. Justice Minister Michael Keenan, another name being speculated on for a promotion into cabinet, would otherwise be a candidate to take on the security role.

Bridget McKenzie, the new deputy leader of the Nationals whose predecessor Fiona Nash was forced from parliament over dual citizenship, goes straight into cabinet and is tipped to take Mr Joyce’s portfolios of agriculture and water, despite never having held a ministerial portfolio.

A senior government source said there would be no “purge of cabinet” but the changes would not be insignificant, with new portfolios expected to be named. A senior Liberal MP said Mr Turnbull needed the reshuffle to “reset”.

Queensland LNP sources were warning last night that Mr Turnbull faced triggering a fresh round of hostilities with the LNP if he failed to elevate Queenslanders in his reshuffle, amid bitter feelings the state had been overlooked in previous frontbench shake-ups.

The departure of Senator Brandis is set to reduce Queensland representation in cabinet to just three MPs: Mr Dutton, Trade Minister Steven Ciobo and ­Resources Minister Matt Canavan. There are 26 Queenslanders, including Senator Brandis, represented on the government benches across both houses, with 21 in the lower house and five in the Senate.

LNP sources said the Prime Minister needed to work on ­refining his political message in Queensland, given the poor state election result, the defection of conservative voters to alternative parties such as One Nation and the possibility of a by-election in the marginal seat of Longman held by Labor MP Susan Lamb.

Ms Lamb, who holds Longman by a margin of 0.8 per cent, could be referred to the High Court in the new year over concerns she may have been a British citizen when she was elected, in breach of section 44 of the Constitution.


Welfare payments stripped from migrants

Newly-arrived migrants will have to wait longer before receiving a range of welfare payments under a hardline new approach expected to save $1.3 billion.

It will be three years before migrants can receive family tax benefits, paid parental leave or carer allowances.

The push to "encourage self-sufficiency" among new migrants was one of the headline savings measures announced by Treasurer Scott Morrison in a mid-year budget outlook on Monday.

Vulnerable people as well as New Zealanders who enter the country under a special visa stream will be granted exemptions.

The Turnbull government also expects to save about $1 billion over the forward estimates by cracking down harder on family daycare payments.

Money has been set aside for a controversial plan to drug test welfare recipients, despite the trials being put on ice.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the divisive drug testing regime remained coalition policy.

"We remain committed to it and we continue to work with all non-government senators in order to a secure majority (support) for what is a very, very important welfare reform measure," he told reporters in Canberra.


IPA calls for 27,000 public service job cuts

THE federal government has been urged to slash the size of the public service by more than 27,000 jobs to bring numbers back to 2001 levels.

But the public sector union argues any further cuts would have “disastrous consequences” for ordinary Australians and further degrade access to services including Centrelink and Medicare.

In a parliamentary research paper distributed to federal MPs on Monday, free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) argued a “substantial reduction” in the size of the public sector was required to tackle the national debt, which is forecast to hit $1 trillion by 2037.

Based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Australian Public Sector Commission (APSC), the paper puts the number of Commonwealth public servants as of June 2017 at 239,800, down 1.4 per cent on the previous year when there were 243,200 employees, and down from a peak of around 250,000 during the Rudd and Gillard governments.

“Official data shows that public sector employee numbers are declining, but the public sector wage bill continues to increase,” IPA legal fellow Aaron Lane said in a statement. “Although progress has been made, further consolidation is needed.”

The Liberal-aligned group has previously called for the public service to be reduced to “at least” the 2001 low of 212,784. On current figures, that would require a reduction of 27,016 positions, or approximately 11.3 per cent.

“Worryingly, at a time of perennial budget deficits, the cost of the public sector continues to increase,” Mr Lane said. “This means that a reduction in the number of public sector employees has not led to overall budget savings.

“Annual wage and salary costs amounted to $21.1 billion for 2016-17. This is up approximately $95 million on the previous year, and an increase of $5.75 billion since 2007-08.”

Mr Lane said the increased costs had been fuelled by pay increases locked in by “generous” public sector bargaining agreements, and by a growth in the proportion of executive and senior executive positions.

“For instance, in 2002, 19.4 per cent of APS employees were engaged at executive level classifications — in 2017 the proportion is 26.2 per cent,” he said.

“ABS figures show that average weekly earnings in the public sector are consistently higher than that of the private sector. The latest figures report that average weekly earnings in the public sector were $1410.60 compared to private sector earnings of $1123.50 — a difference of $287.10.

“The gap between public sector and private sector pay has widened over the last decade, indicating that wage increases in the public sector are outpacing those in the private sector.

“Of course, pay increases in the private sector are funded by businesses earning revenue through creating value — pay increases in the public sector are funded through higher taxes or larger deficits.”

Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood hit back at the research. “Seriously, what planet does the IPA live on? They really need to get out more if they think cutting more Commonwealth jobs is a good idea,” she said.

“The Turnbull government’s shortsighted job cuts might have curried favour with extreme elements like the IPA and [Liberal Senator] Eric Abetz, but they’ve had disastrous consequences for ordinary Australians as public service standards have fallen.

“IPA-style cuts are the reason why you simply can’t get through to Centrelink on the phone, as 55 million calls went unanswered last year alone. They’ve also led to an ever-growing list of policy disasters for this government, from Census fail to the tax office’s online woes.”

Ms Flood said the IPA wanted public sector jobs cut “so that money can instead be handed over to consultants like KPMG, Deloitte, EY and PwC”.

“Outsourcing is the Turnbull Government’s dirty secret, downgrading public services so they can line the pockets of corporations that often pay little or no tax,” she said.

“Billions of dollars is being wasted on outsourcing, which is why a Parliamentary inquiry was launched just last week. There’s been a deafening silence from the IPA on this shameful waste of taxpayer money, which makes their real motivations crystal clear.”

Shadow Employment Minister Brendan O’Connor said, “You can tell a lot about a government by how it treats its workers and Turnbull and his Liberals have presided over deep cuts to public sector jobs.

“Is it any wonder we have regularly seen critical tax office system crashes, millions of unanswered Centrelink calls, long waits for Medicare and gaps in our crime fighting capability? More cuts to our public service would further erode the expertise and experience of our public servants.”


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