Monday, December 31, 2018

Another top cop goes to  jail -- betrayed by his dick

Queensland put their top cop -- Terry Lewis -- in jail in 1989.  He was betrayed by money

Realistic Australians would always have the lowest possible expections of their police.  My contact with them has been small  but was completely disappointing.  They failed even the basics.  Can you believe them destroying crucial evidence?  They did.  I protested but to no avail

Former Northern Territory police commissioner John McRoberts has been sentenced to three years in jail, to be suspended after 12 months, for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Last month a jury took nine hours to find McRoberts guilty of the offence, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.

The jury found McRoberts tried to "frustrate" or "deflect" a travel agent fraud investigation known as Operation Subutai between May and November 2014.

McRoberts had been in a sexual relationship with the investigation's priority target, former travel agent and NT Crime Stoppers chairwoman Xana Kamitsis, who was sentenced to almost four years' imprisonment on fraud and corruption charges in 2015.

Acting Justice Dean Mildren took less than an hour to summarise the evidence and deliver his sentence at Darwin's Supreme Court on Tuesday morning.

"As commissioner, the public has the right to expect that you can be trusted absolutely," he said. "There is a huge fall from grace."

Between May and November 2014, McRoberts failed to disclose he was in a sexual relationship with Kamitsis.

At the time, McRoberts knew Kamitsis had become a test case for the investigation, which was looking into 27 travel agents suspected of defrauding the NT Health Department's pensioner travel concession scheme.

Acting Justice Mildren said McRoberts had effectively lied by omission. "You failed to disclose to your staff that Kamitsis was an intimate friend and indeed a sexual partner," he said. "The relationship between you was a secret one.

"From the moment that you became aware that Kamitsis was a suspect in Operation Subutai, you knew that full disclosure was required in some form and you also knew you should have no further involvement."

McRoberts' lawyer has filed an appeal of his conviction and an application for bail in relation to the matter is expected to be heard by a Supreme Court judge on Wednesday morning.

During the trial, the prosecution argued McRoberts involved himself in the investigation, knowing he was "hopelessly conflicted", because he wanted stop his relationship with Kamitsis being exposed through a search warrant.

It was alleged McRoberts' criminal course of conduct began in May 2014, when he raised the idea of an alternative civil approach to Operation Subutai, which was then further developed.

McRoberts was also accused of frustrating the execution of a search warrant against Kamitsis in June 2014, by saying to his senior officers: "This is not ready to go to an overt investigation".

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Mary Chalmers told the court McRoberts abused his position of power and his sentence should reflect this. "[The crime] is one that strikes at the very core of the integrity of the administration of justice," she said.  "He abused his position to achieve his ends."

Defence lawyer Anthony Elliot argued his client's conduct was less serious than other cases of attempting to pervert the course of justice. "We accept that he made a bad decision … that he will continue to pay for, for the rest of his life," he said.

"We accept that he should not have had anything to do with the Kamitsis inquiry. "But we submit that he was placed in the difficult position of it being intertwined with all the others."

Ms Chalmers told the judge McRoberts engaged in "sustained criminal conduct", which amounted to much more than a single "bad decision".

During the trial, more than 5,000 text messages between McRoberts and Kamitsis were submitted as evidence of their relationship.

In his sentencing, Acting Justice Mildren said McRoberts deliberately set out to lead police investigators away from his lover. "Your purpose from at least sometime in about May 2014 was to frustrate and deflect an imminent prosecution of Kamitsis, your motive was to protect Kamitsis as well as yourself from the scandal that access to her mobile phone would inevitably give rise to," he said.

He said the offence struck at the heart of the administration of justice. "It involved a gross misuse of power for primarily personal reasons," he said. "You were, as commissioner of police, expected to uphold the law, not actively to seek to breach it."

Acting Justice Mildren accepted that McRoberts was unlikely to reoffend, and said there was no need to consider special deterrence.

Regarding character references that spoke highly of McRoberts as a police officer and as a person, he said: "You did your best to make a worthwhile contribution to the community that you served", however, he found that McRoberts lacked remorse.

"You have not shown at any stage any recognition of your wrongdoing or any remorse from your actions," Acting Justice Mildren said.

He said the offending was too serious to allow McRoberts to serve his sentence in home detention, and acknowledged his time in prison would be difficult as he has no family in the NT.

"I accept that it will be harder for you … as you will need to be isolated from other prisoners to some degree," he said.


New land unlocked to provide homes for 55,000 people

Victoria does something right.  If we are to reduce the high cost of housing, this should be happening in every state

Victorians hoping to build their dream home can look to the Melbourne’s northwest fringe with the opening up of land near Sunbury.

Two new communities of Sunbury South and Lancefield Road will provide 19,000 homes and 6000 jobs for as many as 55,000 people.

Treasurer Tim Pallas said the new suburbs’ announcement fulfilled the state government’s commitment for a 15-year land supply by providing 100,000 lots.

“This increase in supply is also a boost to the construction industry, creating jobs in the growth corridors, as well as in established suburbs,” Mr Pallas said.

The government last year said 17 new suburbs in growth areas would be created to tackle the housing affordability problem.

Other suburbs will emerge near Pakenham East, Wollert, Kororoit and Donnybrook, the establishment of which will be managed by the Victorian Planning Authority.

The two new latest communities will be created on 2800 hectares of land around Sunbury over the next 20 years.

The developments will create a regional park, a conservation network on the Jacksons Creek corridor and a reserve at Redstone Hill.

Four town centres, health and emergency services, six primary schools, two secondary schools, and a prep-to-12 school are part of the plans, as well as land for two future train stations.

Developers will contribute to the creation of roads, parks and community facilities.

Mr Pallas said the land release would ensure new housing was coming on to the market to stay ahead of population growth and to make new homes “as affordable as possible”.

Earlier this month, Planning Minister Richard Wynne announced that Jacksons Hill in Sunbury would be returned for community use after the purchase of the 33-hectare site from Victoria University.


There's no such thing as a happy Greenie. The plastic bag ban is only the beginning

Six months ago it didn’t seem possible that Australians would ever give up the convenience of single-use plastic shopping bags.

But watching shoppers pack up their groceries at a nearby Woolworths Metro, it’s clear that the bag ban has worked.

During the busy lunchtime rush this month, there are definitely some people still buying the thicker 15c bags available at the checkout but most people either had their own bags or were choosing to carry their groceries without a bag.

One woman who was juggling a tub of yoghurt, carton of mini-cucumbers and a salad, told that she would definitely have taken one of the old grey bags before but didn’t want to pay for one to transport her lunch back to work.

Even though she said she often forgot to bring her own bags, at least a third of her fellow shoppers had remembered to bring one. Only a handful of the approximately 50 shoppers bought the 15c bags. Other shoppers also improvised and were seen tucking lemons into handbags and microwave meals into backpacks.

While the major retailers won’t reveal how many of the thicker 15c bags they were now selling, this month Coles and Woolworths revealed their bag ban had stopped 1.5 billion thinner plastic bags being dumped into the environment.

A Facebook poll also indicated most people were remembering to bring their own reusable bags.

Tim Silverwood, co-founder of Take 3, told that anecdotal evidence suggested there were less of the thinner bags making their way to Australia’s waterways.

“During our clean-up activities in NSW and Queensland there’s definitely less thin grey shopping bags, according to our volunteers,” Mr Silverwood said. “I think we are all starting to realise now that it doesn’t take that much change to make a big difference.”

He said the success of the bag ban was a great opportunity to take the war against plastic to the next level. This includes passing legislation in NSW to ban bags as well, reduce the use of the thicker bags and to follow the example of the European Union, which has plans to phase out or reduce 10 types of single-use plastic items.

The National Waste Report 2018 released in November showed that just 12 per cent of plastic in Australia was recycled. About 87 per cent was sent to landfill.

Each state and territory approaches waste and recycling differently. There are container deposit schemes in all states except Tasmania and Victoria but only ACT, South Australia and Victoria have a landfill ban.

NSW is the only state or territory not planning to introduce a plastic bag ban. In NSW, Woolworths and Coles have voluntarily phased out the bags but Jeff Angel of the Boomerang Alliance said a ban was still needed because a lot of smaller stores like chemists and food outlets continued to give out the lightweight bags.

Mr Angel wants the supermarket giants to reveal how many of the thicker 15c bags were being used as there was anecdotal evidence they were also ending up in the litter stream and landfill.

The thicker bags are 55 microns thick instead of 35 microns so there is more plastic in them.

Western Australia’s environment minister Stephen Dawson recently revealed his intent to target the use of thicker bags — the type that Myer uses for example — as the next step. “I think it would be a gradual phase-out, just as we’ve done with say microbeads,” Mr Dawson said.

There are also many other forms of plastic that could be tackled and Australia is already behind in this area.

The European Commission has moved to ban or reduce 10 types of single-use plastics by 2030.

If approved, littering by these items will be reduced by more than half, avoiding environmental damage which would otherwise cost €22 billion ($A34 billion). It will also avoid the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030.

These products are the top 10 most found single-use items on European beaches and make up 43 per cent of total marine litter.

The items that will be targeted include food containers, cups for beverages, cotton buds, cutlery/plates/stirrers/straws, sticks for balloons/balloons, packets and wrappers, beverage bottles, tobacco product filters and sanitary towels/wet wipes among European Union countries.

Items like cotton buds made with plastic would be replaced by sustainable alternatives while there will be an attempt to reduce the consumption of things like food containers.

The commission will also tackle fishing gear, which makes up an extra 27 per cent of marine litter.

European Union countries have recognised the damaging impact plastics can have and the costs of cleaning litter up as well as the losses for tourism, fisheries and shipping.

Due to its slow decomposition, plastic accumulates in seas, oceans and on beaches. Plastic residues have been found in sea turtles, seals, whales and birds, but also in fish and shellfish, meaning humans could also be consuming them. There are estimates that mussel-loving Europeans could be consuming up to 11,000 microplastics in a year.

Mr Silverwood said the 10 items being banned in Europe were also regularly found during clean-up activities in Australia, although the container deposit scheme was helping to reduce the number of beverage containers.

He said Australia should introduce measures similar to the European Union, to tackle other types of single-use plastics.


Agenda activism takes over university Australian history classes

Agenda-driven activism has subverte­d the teaching of Aust­ralian history at the nation’s universit­ies, with gender, race and class politics dominating two-thirds of subjects on offer.

Australian history is no longer taught as a study of past events, according to a report by the Institute of Public Affairs to be released today. It argues that students are more likely to be ­exposed to disconnected themes, or “microhistories”, presented through the lens of identity ­politics, than key concepts explain­ing Australia’s development as a modern nation.

An audit of the 147 Australian history subjects offered across 35 universities this year showed 102 were preoccupied with identity politics. Of those, 13 subjects were solely focused on gender and sexuality, race or class.

ANU’s Sexuality in Australian History examined “how an understanding of sexual diversity in the past can illuminate current debates in Australian ­society”.

Monash University’s History of Sexuality 1800-the Present had topics that included “the construction of masculinity and femininity, courtship and marriag­e … heterosexuality and homosexuality”.

In comparison, four subjects featured democracy as a major theme, three covered industrialisation, and capitalism was the focus of just one subject.

Prime ministers appear to be largely overlooked, but Queensland senator Pauline Hanson is mentioned in the descriptions for three subjects.

The report’s author, Bella d’Abrera, said the audit highlighted that students were not being taught basic concepts explaining the origins of Australian society, including its successes as a ­modern nation.

She said historians had instead “recast themselves as political ­activists” and students were being “politicised in the classroom” as a result of the courses that were available to them.

“Historians occupy a special position because they have a unique ability to shape our society and to shape the future … but they should not attempt to rewrite the past,” Dr d’Abrera said.

“By reframing Australia’s past using the lens of identity politics, they are warping history to fit their own agenda.”

The report highlights how ­indigenous history has been framed around common themes of resistance, colonisation and the frontier wars. Twenty-nine of the 57 indigenous history subjects ­offered ­focused on indigenous-settler relations “in terms of violence and conflict rather than co-existence and co-operation”.

Dr d’Abrera said many Australian history subjects were better suited to the disciplines of politics, sociology or anthropology.

She said there was a dearth of subjects that discussed Australia’s economic and political development since 1788 and only one subject looked into the cultural conditions in Britain that led to the development of our liberal democracy.

No subject mentioned “the fact the Australian nation had ­benefited enormously from the Western legacy”, Dr d’Abrera said.

She said this shed new light on the opposition that the ­Ramsay Centre has come up against in its bid to establish ­degrees in Western civilisation at several Australian universities.

After rejection by ANU and a push-back from academics at the University of Sydney, the ­Ramsay Centre recently signed up the University of Wollongong as a partner for a course and scholarship program planned to launch in 2020.

Bachelor of Arts student Oscar Green took the University of Queensland’s The Australian Experience during his first year of study expecting to be introduced to issues around Australian history and culture.

Instead, the 19-year-old, who is involved in the IPA’s Generation Liberty program for students, was disappointed by a “disproportionate focus” on race and gender and “revisionist approach” to studying the past.


 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 30, 2018

Australia, get ready to sweat your way through the weekend as extreme heatwave sets in

"Extreme heatwave"??? This is utter BS.  The BoM have been pushing out these warnings for most of December but all we are having is a normal summer.  The normal mid-afternoon summer temperature where I live in Brisbane is 34C and we are not even up to that.  It is 31C at the time of writing at 3pm on Saturday 29th.

Australia will experience a sweltering close to the year, with temperatures soaring above 40C throughout the nation over the coming days.

The post-Christmas heatwave shows no signs of easing, with warnings in place across parts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

If the heat’s getting you down, we have some bad news: the relief could be more than a week away.

“We’re in the middle of a heatwave at the moment in much of Australia,” Sky News’ Chief Meteorologist Tom Saunders told “Today is day five of the heatwave and there’s no sign of a cool change before New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day will be day nine of that heatwave.

“We won’t see a cool change until the middle of next week — it could be after that or another full week.”

Severe to extreme heat conditions are expected to extend through South Australia, as well as southeast NSW, eastern Victoria and parts of central Queensland.

Up to 70 per cent of NSW will experience high fire dangers, from the southern half of the state up to the Queensland border.

The Bureau of Meteorology has also issued strong wind warnings from the Batemans Coast up to the Macquarie region over the next two days.

Sydneysiders may as well camp out on the beach over the next few days, with tops of 30C today, 31C on Saturday and 34C on Sunday.

The city’s Greater Western region is in for an even more brutal time, with tops of 42C in Penrith tomorrow and 41C on Sunday.

Brisbane will see tops of 30C over the weekend, with very little chance of rain — which means it’s the ideal time to head to the water.


Vietnamese community warns African gangs will turn their annual Lunar Festival into a war zone after violence which erupted between teen thugs and shopkeepers sparked calls for payback

Sad that it takes the Viets to show some guts

A Vietnamese festival scheduled for Sunday week could turn into a bloodbath with fears fed-up Asian youths will go to war with African gangs at the popular event.

Concerned shopkeepers have told Daily Mail Australia the St Albans Lunar Festival, planned for January 6, could go feral if African thugs turned up looking for trouble.

The warning comes just days after a gang of African teens was filmed brawling with middle-aged Vietnamese men dining outside the Song Huong restaurant on Alfrieda Street in St Albans, in Melbourne's north-west.

It is the very same street where the Lunar New Year will be celebrated, with the thoroughfare transformed into a festival featuring stalls, food, entertainment, bands, rides, fireworks and dancing.

On Friday, scores of frightened and angry shopkeepers told Daily Mail Australia that they feared the law would be taken into their own hands if police did not step in to halt the violent teen thugs.

One female shopkeeper, who herself had been a victim of multiple, brutal attacks by African teens,  said she feared the Vietnamese youth would rise up against the thugs.

'I haven't seen the police until the past few days,' she said.

The young woman, who is in phone sales, told Daily Mail Australia she had been attacked twice inside her shop.

So brutal were the attacks that one left her with a huge gash in her scalp after a teenage thug smashed her over the head with a phone he was stealing. A customer was also attacked.

She and her neighbours all called triple zero, but police did not come. 'They told us they couldn't come. They were too busy,' one man said of the attack.

His wife had chased out a gang of youths from their shop not long before the attack.

Another woman, who worked in a shop staffed entirely of young women, said the Vietnamese community was fed up with being afraid. 'We haven't seen the police up until those [recent] incidents ...  nobody is doing anything. None of the guys around here. We've all grown up now,' she said.

'But [the teen gangs] are young and they don't appreciate the laws and rules.

'Next weekend, it's going to be bad on that day because everybody goes out to enjoy the day ... but if they go crazy on that day, plus with so many people, it's going to be bad.

'If it's on, it's going to be really bad. Kids everywhere. It's going to get out of control. And I think it's going to be on.'

Ben Tran, 22, was working at Song Huong Vietnamese Restaurant when a gang of youths turned on patrons. It was over something as simple as the pests being refused cigarettes by the regular customers who congregate outside to eat, drink and play board games.

'The gangs they always come around this area and they sometimes ask the people outside for cigarettes or a lighter or something and if they say no, well something happens,' he said.

It is not the first time the thugs have caused trouble outside the restaurant, with this week's incident being one of at least five over the past couple of months.

Like many others on Alfreida Street, Mr Tran said police are never in a rush to help out when called.

On Friday, police were noticeable in a large van camped out in a grassy section in the middle of the street.

An officer was seen enjoying his lunch from the passenger side of the vehicle before the van drove off.

Mr Tran said police took about 30 minutes to turn up after being called to the brawl.

Like the times before, the restaurant handed over the CCTV footage, but staff don't expect much to change.

'They've come before, they say [the youths] will have some problems, that they've solved the problem, but it's still happening,' he said.

'I don't think the police can stop them ... when they come, everything is done.'

The gang that struck this week was not the same as the previous incidents, Mr Tran said.

Shopkeepers on Alfreida Street say the youths, sometimes still dressed in their school uniforms, are often organised, and use teenage girls to scope out victims and act as lookouts.

Mr Tran said his customers were fed up with the senseless violence. 'The Vietnamese - they fight back,' he said.

'We worry that they'll come back. We stay inside. People are scared.'

Shopkeepers claim until this week, police were hardly ever to be seen on Alfreida Street.

'I don't usually see any police here. On the main road, I see maybe two, three guys over there, but out here we don't see them,' Mr Tran said.

It is a sentiment shared by many on Alfreida Street.

Unlike Mr Tran, they are too afraid to be photographed or have their names mentioned in print.

Ricky Ta, a sales associate at a nearby Optus outlet, said he had also had a run in with a gang of African teens.  Thankfully no one was hurt.

'We have insurance, so we just let them take what they want. The police don't do anything about it,' he said.

Phone services in St Albans are booming as victims of crime flow into the Alfreida Street shops to replace the ones stolen by the thugs.

But being a phone salesperson on Alfreida Street is as risky as being a 1970s bank teller.

Nearly everyone on the street has a story of dread to tell.

The phone shopkeepers say to talk to the cigarette salesman who says to talk to the fish shop bloke.

They have all had violent run-ins with the thugs. They all say the same thing: where are the police?


UPDATE:  It seems that the police have now turned up in the area -- ready to arrest anybody who defends himself against the Africans

Must not video African youths in Melbourne

A group of African men have confronted notorious far-right activists who were filming them at a popular Melbourne beach - moments before one of them was tackled and pepper sprayed by police.

The ugly scenes early on Friday evening were all captured on camera at St Kilda Beach by United Patriot Front-linked activist Neil Erikson, 32.

A terse conversation between two officers and Erikson then ensues as other policemen talk to the African men in the background.

'I need to understand why you are escalating the situation,' one officer asked - to which Erikson responded he was in a public area and had the right to film the group.

The activists could be seen holding their ground in the vision, despite the officers' request for them to move along.

Erikson's footage suddenly cut to officers restraining one of the African youths, and a voice in the background can be heard saying 'yes, yes, yes' as the cameraman closes in on police pinning the man to the ground.

A 25-year-old man was arrested after allegedly attempting to assault police officers, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.

'Police were forced to deploy OC spray on the male as he attempted to assault police and resist arrest,' she said.

The spokeswoman said officers approached a group of 15 males, some of which were being verbally abusive, in the South Beach Reserve area just after 5.30pm.  'One of the males refused to move on after multiple warnings and was arrested,' the spokeswoman said. 

Erikson has previously been convicted and fined for inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims after a 2015 stunt.

Along with United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell and Christopher Neil Shortis, Erikson chanted 'Allahu Akbar' in a video and spilled fake blood on the footpath and wall of a garden bed beside the Bendigo City Council offices. The group were protesting the building of the Bendigo mosque.

The confrontation at St Kilda Beach comes just days after a gang of African teens was filmed brawling with middle-aged Vietnamese men dining outside the Song Huong restaurant on Alfrieda Street in St Albans, in Melbourne's north-west.

On Thursday, a group of African youths allegedly smashed a glass bottle over a teenager's head before assaulting multiple swimmers and stealing their wallets at Chelsea Beach in the city's south-east.


Principal at remote Australian country high school is slammed after posing with students dressed up in blackface and as Adolf Hitler for 'history day'

Country Australia has mostly local concerns so is less sensitive to what offends urbanites

A public school has been forced to apologise after students were photographed wearing racist and inappropriate costumes during a muck-up day.

Rowena Public School in remote north-west NSW came under fire after students were seen dressed as Adolf Hitler and sporting blackface, New Matilda reported.

'The school unreservedly apologises for two photos that were published yesterday on our Facebook page. They have been removed,' the school said in a Facebook post.

Rowena Public had just 25 students and two teachers, one of whom is the principal.

Students were told to dress up as historical figures in a muck-up day earlier this month.

One student dressed up as Hitler and wore Nazi emblems.

She was pictured next to another student who painted their face black and wrapped medals around their neck to represent American athlete Jesse Owens.

A smiling school principal Paul Cecil posed with students in the photos.

They were then uploaded to the school's Facebook page. 

Neighbouring towns like Walgett, Collarenebri and Moree have large Aboriginal populations and took the photos as a direct insult.

Following the community uproar, Rowena Public School posted an apology then tore down the Facebook page. 'These photos were unacceptable,' the school said.

'Rowena Public School is a caring and supportive learning environment. We reject racism in all its forms.'


Can millennials do maths?

“I can no longer teach with these new brains,” says an exasperated Clio Cresswell, mathematics lecturer at the University of Sydney and author of Mathematics and Sex. The core of the problem, she says, is the diminishing capacity of undergraduates for “linked thinking”. And it’s not just a problem in the classroom.

“I’ve always enjoyed teaching,” she says. “But these days students are so busy posting on social media — ‘love the burger’, ‘great fries’ — that if something tragic happens to a loved one they struggle to understand why they’re feeling the way they do. They’ve trained themselves in first-step thinking. Their worlds are constructed of disconnected moments.”

It’s an axiom of cognition that when the brain learns new ways of doing things, the command centre in the cranium evolves in response. Anthropologists and ­biologists track these changes across large spans of time, but the digital revolution has come on so fast that the brain is being remade in decades, not eons.

Between 2007 and 2012 the number of internet users doubled to two billion. Four years later the world’s digital population had leapt to 3.5 billion, and this year it reached 4.2 billion — more than 55 per cent of the global population.

Cresswell has her own way of measuring the changes.

This year, after a break of five years during which she taught mainly gifted second-year mathematics students, she returned to a class for students who do not particularly like maths but need it for subjects such as psychology and geology. Immediately, she noticed a difference.

“They don’t turn up for lectures and they don’t ask questions,” she says. “They have no idea about the interactive process.”

She describes a sea of “glazed” eyes. “Mostly they’re looking at their screens, and occasionally they’ll take a photo of me and an equation.”

Wiki, she adds, is their go-to tool. “But while Wiki is pretty good for maths it doesn’t teach you how to think mathematically; the whole point is to connect ideas.”

Cresswell’s first-hand observations about what was once, rather quaintly, termed the chalkface are all the more penetrating because she is no badly dressed myopic maths nerd in the mould of The Big Bang Theory’s Amy Fowler. If anyone can cut through the fog of student lack of interest, it’s Cresswell, whose TED talk Mathematics and Sex has been viewed by more than eight million people.

So dispirited is Cresswell with the state of mathematics literacy, in an age when the algorithm rules just about everything, that she foresees a world divided into a numerate priesthood and an innumerate mass.

“I’m seeing a big problem in a society in which everything is maths-based,” she says. “Fewer and fewer people know how maths works, and they’re asking more and more stupid questions and getting more and more dis­enfranchised.”

Steven Schwartz, emeritus professor and former vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, shares Cresswell’s concerns about maths literacy. A board member of Teach For Australia, a nonprofit body set up to tackle educational disadvantage, he nevertheless resists generalising about the digital brain when all brains are different.

Schwartz, whose academic field is psychology, stresses the prior role of genetics, which affects children’s behaviour, particularly the amount of time they spend on devices and how their brains respond.

“Kids who are genetically inclined to obesity may spend more time in the bedrooms playing computer games than riding a bike to the beach,” he says.

“This not only makes them fat but also affects their neurobiological functioning. These kids would probably wind up obese even if they never have access to a computer or phone.

“If a child inherits risk factors for cognitive deficits, as measured by NAPLAN (National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy), he or she may spend more time playing computer games, which could make cognitive deficits even worse. Limiting device time for those kids may help, especially if they spend the liberated time reading.

“On the other hand, limiting device time for kids without the same genetic disposition to cognitive deficits will not have the same beneficial effect.

“The bottom line is that kids are all different and they need to be treated as individuals. When it comes to device time, one size does not fit all,” Schwartz says.

New research does suggest, however, that some conclusions about the brain’s response to digital stimuli can be made with confidence. A recent study out of Norway, published in the International Journal of Educational Research, found that students who read texts in print performed significantly better in comprehension tests than students who read the same texts digitally.

In the graduate employment market, however, there are signs the digital brain may not be all bad. Andrew Spicer, chief executive of Australia’s biggest financial comparison website, Canstar, is “in awe” of new graduates.

“Millennials are highly educated, energetic, with a desire to learn, and many are entrepreneurial in their approach to business,” he says.

Spicer doubts there is an enormous cognitive gulf separating the generations, although he says that his young graduates clearly have different ways of communicating.

This, in turn, puts the onus on managers to learn to communicate with them.

“Millennials’ success in the workplace can be guided by teaching them patience and resilience, and managing their expectations. We have learned that it’s valuable to communicate more, and explain the why as well as the what,” he says.

Trent Innes, managing director of global software company Xero’s Australian operations, is equally sanguine.

“What’s different today is the pace of information,” he says. “Devices have accelerated the frequency with which we communicate, and that can be overwhelming. The next generation needs more advice on how to use these tools. Our education system can help kids navigate what has become a river of information.”

As principal of architecture practice BVN, it’s Matthew Blair’s job to think deeply about the ways technology is transforming architecture and building construction, and the changes, he says, are just beginning to gain momentum.

He foresees a time in the not too distant digital future when virtual reality and automation will turn architectural designs into finished built forms.

He works alongside the generation that will steer and shape this process and the most observable change he has noticed is its ability to inhabit the real and virtual worlds simultaneously.

“Their consciousness is in both places at the same time,” he says. “The brain has enabled that to happen.”

He’s not the first to observe that digital natives feel they don’t need so much to know stuff as to know where to find it.

“They think it’s more important to think critically and have ideas,” he says.

Blair concedes that the downside of the digital brain, with its capacity to traverse the temporal and virtual worlds, is a more diminished capacity to maintain concentration and focus, both of which are preconditions for the “linked thinking” that Cresswell says is essential to mathematics, and may also prove an essential ingredient of the self as conventionally understood.

“But I’m an optimist,” Blair ­declares. “And it’s good to be ­optimistic.”


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

Monday, December 24, 2018

Tamil family's appeal to remain in Australia dismissed in federal court

The point about these people is that they are illegal immigrants who came to Australia as boat people.  The only way that could be converted to permanent residence is if they are refugees.  But they have no need of refuge.  Both Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu in India would now be safe for them. I personally think that Tamils are in general fine people but the propensity of some of them for extreme political violence (The Tamil Tigers) does make them a risk

A judge in Melbourne has dismissed an appeal from a family of Tamil asylum seekers to stay in Australia.

It concludes a nine-and-a-half-month campaign to stop their deportation to Sri Lanka led by the central Queensland town of Biloela, where the family had been living prior to their detention.

Tamil couple Priya and Nades and their Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa, were taken from their home by Australian Border Force officers in March during a dawn raid, because Priya’s bridging visa had expired.

In June, the family lost their federal court case against deportation, prompting their lawyers to lodge an appeal. Meanwhile, more than 141,000 people signed a petition urging the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, to intervene.

But in his judgment handed down at noon on Friday at the administrative appeals tribunal, Justice John Middleton said he had dismissed the appeal. But he ordered the department be restrained from deporting the family until 4pm on 1 February, “having regard to the time of year”.

Biloela resident and family friend Angela Fredericks said Kopika and Tharunicaa were “Australian born and bred” and should be flying home to Biloela for Christmas.

“Mr Dutton had the power to end this family’s ordeal on day one and he still has that power now,” Fredericks said.

“Please, Mr Dutton: listen to the 140,000 Australians that are standing with these two little Queenslanders and their loving mum and dad. Bring them home to Biloela.”

Before their detention the family had been living in Biloela for four years and are well-regarded by their community. Priya and Nades came to Australia at different times by boat after Sri Lanka’s civil war. Priya met Nades in Australia in 2013 and they later married.

Priya has told advocates she had been in contact with the department of immigration prior to her bridging visa expiring to inquire about having it renewed. She said she had been told she would be issued with a new visa.

Previous appeals against the family’s deportation through the refugee tribunal and lower courts had also failed.

An advocate for the family who was present at the court, Bruce Coath, said the family’s legal team would now have to determine if they had exhausted all of their legal avenues.

“We’re really disappointed at the failure of the appeal,” he said. “While it does give us a little bit of peace of mind over Christmas that no action will be taken for their removal, they’ll be devastated I think.

“What they’re hoping for is to be able to live back in Biloela and resume their life there in the community. That seems a long, long way off at the moment.”

He said the health of the girls, now aged one and three, had begun to deteriorate in detention, and that they were suffering from vitamin deficiencies.

Aran Mylvaganam, a spokesman for the Tamil Refugee Council, has been lobbying for the family to stay in Australia since they were detained. He said he did not understand why the family could not be placed in community detention rather than held in the Melbourne immigration transit accommodation centre in Broadmeadows.

“These two girls are going to spend their Christmas in detention,” he said.

“I speak to the family quite regularly and the father is quite worried in particular about his oldest daughter, who is showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and she is isolated, lonely and missing her friends.”

Mylvaganam said a high court challenge was not out of the question.


Could the NBN be SCRAPPED? Growing calls to ditch the embattled network because the technology is 'outdated' after string of delays - and it would cost BILLIONS to 'catch up'

I hope it is scrapped before it gets to me.  There have been many reports of it delivering worse service at a higher cost than our existing cable networks.  It was prophesied from the outset that it would be obsolete before it was complete but the Rudd Labor government went ahead anyway

Calls are growing to ditch the 'failed' National Broadband Network amid claims the technology is outdated and could require billions of dollars to update.

NBN Co. recently admitted that 1.2 million households are still waiting for an updated, faster network connection and many are stuck in limbo.

The NBN project is two years behind its completion date and is reportedly an eye-watering $900 million over budget.

Broadband experts on Friday called on the Federal Government to ditch the technology in favour of faster equipment, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Former NBN Co chief technology officer Gary McLaren told the paper: 'The message coming from NBN Co and the Government is that the job is being done and it's being finished but the reality is that there's still a lot of work to do and Australia is still a long way behind the rest of the world. 'Billions and billions of dollars would be needed to catch up.'

Mr McLaren also expressed concerns the project would not be internationally competitive when it was completed, which was the original goal.

The expert doubted that it would be able to provide Australians with a future-proof network. 


Coal is Australia’s most valuable export in 2018

Coal will replace iron ore as Australia’s most valuable export this financial year as supply concerns lead to a steep price rise for the core commodity.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s latest Resources and Energy Quarterly report said thermal and coking coal export values would reach $67 billion in total in 2018-19, slightly higher than iron ore's $61 billion in value.

Coal leapt over iron ore as supply concerns ratcheted up the price. It is the first time coal has overtaken iron ore in value since the mining boom five years ago.

Australia is also expected to overtake Qatar as the world’s largest LNG exporter in 2019, buoyed by increasing export values, which grew from $31 billion in 2017-18 to $50 billion this financial year.

The Department was more optimistic in its forecasts than its reports released earlier this year, broadly lifting earnings expectations across most commodities for 2018-19.

It increased total export earnings by about $12.1 billion compared to the previous quarter’s forecasts and tipped earnings to reach a record high of more than $264 billion in 2018-19.

“The weaker Australian dollar, high coal prices and rapid growth in LNG exports are driving the strong figures,” it said. The weak exchange rate added about $7.4 billion to export values, “while higher-than-expected coking coal and iron ore prices account for the rest of the gain", the report said.

Coal's rise comes despite growing public opinion against the mineral, particularly for thermal coal which is used in power generation. There has been less opposition to coking coal as it is used to make steel.

Indian miner Adani has faced a massive backlash from the public and the Queensland state government as it attempts to develop the Carmichael thermal coal mega-mine in Queensland, while many Australian banks are now refusing to provide loans to develop new thermal coal mines in Australia.

Despite achieving a record year, lower demand from China would see earnings fall in 2019-2020 to $241 billion, although this would still be the second highest year on record.

Chief economist Mark Cully warned the ongoing trade war ignited by US President Donald Trump against China posed a threat to export growth. “The world is nine years into the post-GFC recovery, and the peak of the current cycle has clearly passed,” Mr Cully said. “Trade tensions between the US and China are magnifying economic risks. “The key risk to the commodity outlook thus lies in the ‘double whammy’: the potential dual impact of growing trade tensions and a slowdown in economic activity.”

Mr Cully said the rate of decline depends if China could maintain a steady rate of growth.

Coal and iron ore’s growth is forecast to come to an end in 2019-20, although LNG will remain relatively flat.

Coking coal values will drop about $10 billion, falling from a record high of $41 billion this year down to $30 billion next year. Supply disruptions had pushed the price up to $US220 a tonne in the last quarter of the year, well above the 2018 average price of $US207 a tonne. This average price is forecast to fall sharply next year to $US145 a tonne.

Thermal coal will see a less dramatic fall, slipping about $5 billion from $26 billion down to $20 billion in value. Declining Chinese demand will see the price fall from around $US105 a tonne in 2018 down to $US74 a tonne in 2019.

Iron ore prices are expected to slide from $US57 a tonne this year down to $US53 next year before stabilising at about $US51 a tonne in 2020. This is due to declining Chinese demand coupled with an oversupplied market. This will drive down export earnings from $61 billion this year down to $57 billion next year.

LNG will stay flat, dropping from $50 billion down to $49 billion in value. The decline will be driven by falling prices, despite export levels rising from 62 million tonnes in 2017-18 to 78 million tonnes in 2019-20.


What's the deal with e-scooters in Australia and where are you allowed to ride them?

Take a walk around Brisbane city and you'll probably see a few people whizzing about on bright green, electric scooters.

They're part of a new scooter-sharing scheme — similar to bike-sharing — which has been brought to Australia by the Californian tech start-up, Lime.

But nailing down new laws for the "innovative devices" which are considered motor vehicles in some states is proving difficult.

In December, Queensland introduced new rules for "rideables" which clarify where you can ride e-scooters and how fast you can go.

But the National Transport Commission is still investigating how they can be safely used in Australia, and doesn't plan to release its discussion paper until March next year.

"The current regulatory framework does not provide for the use of new and innovative personal-use devices that are readily available for sale today," it says.

So let's take a look at the new rules that have been drawn up in Queensland, and what's happening in some other states.

Who can ride them?
In Queensland, you don't need a driver's licence to ride an e-scooter, but you do need to be at least 16 years old.

Children between the ages of 12 and 16 can also ride them, but only if they're accompanied by an adult.

How fast are you allowed to go?

According to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, you can ride up to 25 kilometres per hour on an e-scooter, but you must be able to stop quickly to avoid a collision.

Lime scooters, as an example, are designed to travel up to 23kph.

Do you have to wear a helmet?

Yep. Just like when riding a bike, you will need to wear an approved helmet.

In Brisbane you can find some scooters with a helmet hanging on their handlebars. But other times you may have to bring your own.

Rideables in Queensland must also be fitted with working lights and reflectors if you're using them at night.

Where can you ride them?

In Queensland, e-scooters can only be ridden on paths.

You cannot ride them on the road, even in on-road bike lanes, unless you're crossing at a set of lights or avoiding an obstruction on the footpath.

On separated paths — where there is a lane for bicycles and a lane for pedestrians —you'll need to stick to the bicycle side.

What about alcohol and mobile phones? These are big no-noes. The rules in Queensland state you cannot use a mobile phone while on an e-scooter, or drink and ride. If you get caught doing either, you'll be slapped with a minimum $130 fine.

Where do you park them?

This has been an issue in some cities overseas, with scooters ending up in rivers and oceans.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads says only that they must be parked in a "safe and responsible" way.

"Hire companies may have additional conditions of use in addition to these rules," it says.

What's the deal in other states?

In New South Wales, powered foot scooters are currently not permitted in public areas and can only be used on private land.

However, a spokesperson for Transport for NSW said a trial of e-scooters was "being explored".

In Victoria, Lime has conducted a few small trials, including one at Monash University.

But the state's road rules state that any motorised scooter that can go faster than 10kph is classed as a motor vehicle.

That means it needs to be registered, or used only on private property.


 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 23, 2018

Mr Carlo Hallacq

I had a post here which referred to a correspondence with Mr Carlo Hallacq of Mortgage Loan & General.  Mr Hallacq has now apologized to me so I have deleted the post.

Ruinous Australian energy policy is all pain with no gain

The Liberal Party has torn itself apart for a decade on climate and energy policy, and it is going to continue to do that next year as it battles crucial state and federal elections. The NSW moderates, who have taken over the state branch with an insidious brand of factionalism and patronage, are like the Blob from the 1950s sci-fi movie: spineless, pointless and smothering everything in their path. No one knows what the moderates stand for; most adroit at targeting those in Liberal ranks who espouse conservative values and policies, they echo Labor and leftist attacks on the Coalition and shrink from debate except against their own.

Their electoral legacy is there to behold: a minority federal government wallowing in the polls, a Victorian opposition trounced by a hard-left Labor government shrouded in scandal, and a NSW government facing the prospect of defeat despite presiding over an economy and infrastructure agenda that is the envy of the nation.

Federally, the 2016 electoral ­result tells the story. The Coalition has not been usurped by a rampant Labor Party. Rather, the right of centre has fractured, with One Nation and other minor parties and independents reaping the benefits. Labor has benefited from this mainly through preferences rather than a boosted primary vote — until the open warfare in Liberal ranks after the knifing of Malcolm Turnbull. Bill Shorten is the luckiest Australian since Steven Bradbury; he looks set to take a political victory that is the equivalent of winning the crucial last set of a Wimbledon final by receiving four double faults.

Don Harwin is the latest so-called moderate to display political and economic ineptitude, undercutting the re-election chances of his own team and the Morrison government, such as they are. As NSW Energy Minister, he proposes zero net emissions for his state by 2050 and accuses the Morrison government of ­refusing to build this target into national policy because of the federal Liberal Party’s “climate wars”.

Needless to say, he is portrayed as a hero by Labor, the Greens, the ABC, much of the Canberra press gallery and the vested corporate interests of the energy sector.

Harwin is unlikely ever to be asked, let alone answer, the obvious questions. Why would NSW reduce emissions to net zero? How could this benefit the planet when global emissions are rising? What would it cost? Who would pay? Has he commissioned a cost-benefit analysis? Why does NSW export cheap energy to the world in the form of coal but baulk at further use of this resource itself? Will his policy reduce or curtail global temperatures? What science and technology will be available to deal with these issues in 2050? How will people on fixed and low incomes deal with higher electricity prices? How will the reliability of supply be guaranteed? And, if voters really wanted to pursue such futile, risky and expensive climate gestures, why wouldn’t they just vote Labor or Greens?

It is difficult to grasp why Liberals would not focus on price and reliability to protect jobs, support families and underpin economic opportunity. This should be core business for those interested in mainstream politics.

If Harwin, Turnbull or anyone else could point to a looming crisis that could be averted by compromising our energy needs, then it might be worth considering. But they have to do better than the familiar mantra, seldom interrogated, that climate change is real and we must do something about it now. Those who claim to back a scientific approach often lack ­rational arguments. It seems silly to have to go through the basics but perhaps we should. Most of this debate is stuck in a superficial reverb about a dire crisis and a proposed response without justification of either.

As we know, the effect of global warming is a matter of considerable ongoing research, assessment and contention. Average temperatures have risen by about a ­degree during the past century but the climate stubbornly has refused to behave in accordance with the alarming models produced by most scientists. We have no control sample; we don’t know whether the planet would have warmed, cooled or hovered like a wine fridge were it not for the emissions we have produced, mainly in the second half of that 100 years.

While scientific consensus tells us increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to produce greater warming, there is legitimate debate about the extent, detrimental effects, benefits and the relative role of other variables in a changeable climate system.

Appropriate responses based on science and economics range from business as usual to ­abandoning mitigation in favour of adaptation. Technological ­developments are bound to play a major role in everything from cutting emissions to adapting to a warmer world.

Given bureaucrats and politicians have decided through the Kyoto and Paris processes that emissions reduction is the goal, there should be detailed debate about what policies can best deliver that outcome. When it comes to fixed power generation, this is a dilemma where there actually is a silver bullet — if we decided we ­urgently needed emissions-free, reliable electricity, we know how to get it. The fact nuclear energy is largely ignored in this debate tells us much about the agenda and real urgency, or lack thereof.

In this newspaper on Thursday, Bjorn Lomborg, a lonely voice of sanity in this debate, offered one of the pithiest and most important observations about global warming. “It is not the end of the world,” he said. It is funny because it is true and is at odds with the zeitgeist of catastrophism. From Al Gore to Tim Flannery, from last week’s Carols Against Coal to Shorten and Harwin, there is a never-ending procession of Chicken Littles to frighten our kids, poison our politics and burden our economies. Yet no scheme to make Australian households and businesses pay more for power will enhance the planet’s future. These policies exist primarily to trumpet the fashionable sensibilities of their spruikers.

Because we share one atmosphere, no nation sensibly would take a policy decision without considering what is happening in the rest of the world. This is where the overzealous activism of people such as Harwin, Shorten and the Greens is exposed as foolish and debilitating. We have turned our advantage of cheap and abundant energy into a competitive disadvantage. Power prices have increased an average of 70 per cent in real terms across the past decade, and low-income households now spend 10 per cent or more of their income on electricity.

Prices have been driven largely by the cross-subsidisation of renewables, leading to duplicated generation, additional transmission and mothballing of cheap power generation. Additional costs hit taxpayers directly from budget expenditure on grants and rebates for renewable schemes.

The Renew Economy website has estimated the additional investment at $60 billion. Some of this would have been required to replace or upgrade existing plants to increase capacity, but most was unnecessary except to promote renewables and reduce emissions.

Resultant financial pressure on families, businesses and industry has stifled spending and investment. Direct job losses have come from closure of coal-fired generators in South Australia, Victoria and NSW, and there have been indirect job losses in manufacturing, aluminium and steel plants where power costs have been a factor.

Reliability has been compromised too — South Australia left itself so reliant on interstate dispatchable generation that when its interconnector to Victoria was tripped, the entire state was blacked out for the first time in its history. The direct hit on its economy was calculated at $367 million and it triggered an extra $500m in state government spending on diesel generators and batteries to protect against future vulnerability.

Balanced against these costs are the benefits. So far, they amount to nil. The latest international data has global carbon emissions growing at 2.7 per cent annually, or by more than twice the total annual emissions from Australia. So, the amount of emissions we aim to cut annually by 2030 are being added by the rest of the world (mainly China and India) every four weeks.

For all our pain, there has been precisely no gain. Those countries that have reduced emissions are mainly those enjoying side benefits from economic decisions — switching to gas, using abundant hydro or nuclear. While dumping Paris, the US has lowered emissions from power generation by using fracked gas.

Other nations increase emissions as they lift people out of poverty. In Asia, the subcontinent and Africa, hundreds of millions of people only now are starting to enjoy the improvements in quality of life, longevity and prosperity that flow from abundant and ­affordable energy.

Australia alone has turned climate and energy policy into an economic millstone and political suicide bomb. Harwin, with the assent of Premier Gladys Berejik­lian, seeks escalation of economic hardship while driving wedges into the single largest and most damaging policy schism in the Coalition. Genius.

The NSW moderates think they will appeal to the enlightened denizens of their state and reap political benefits, wrongly interpreting the Wentworth by-election and Victorian election results as demands for a green-left consensus. The Coalition exists to be a beacon of economic good sense and pragmatism. It came into office in the 2013 landslide on the back of Tony Abbott’s campaign to axe the carbon tax and lower electricity prices. It forgot its mission after the Blob elimin­ated Abbott.


Australia is still a land of optimism and trust

It has been a year in which the Australian public's trust – the assumption that governments, companies and institutions will do the right thing – has been sorely tested. Politicians have failed to execute policy over vital national interests such as energy, and instead brawl among themselves for position. Banks have regularly fleeced unwitting customers, even the dead. Powerful men have routinely abused their positions to get sexual favours. Churches and charities turned a blind eye to the exploitation of young people in their care. Even a national cricket team that had no need to cheat didn't hesitate to do so if it meant winning. Very little turned out to be sacred in 2018.

All democracies are leaps of faith. They are intended to be systems and institutions that will deliver results and common goods by honest means. Citizens need to trust them, and so believe what they say. Trust and truth, as Andrew Clark notes in today's Perspective section, are twins that reinforce each other. And despite everything, in Australia those things have not fallen apart.

Our political dysfunction, unlike the US or Europe, has come not from angry voter uprisings but palace coups among parliamentarians themselves, in four ousted prime ministers in less than a decade. It is disillusioning. Politicians will now shift between leaders in a heartbeat if loss of office is at stake. Or as in the rolling of Malcolm Turnbull in August, for reasons nobody is even sure. Either way, it makes politics look a sham. And that is before the utterly self-indulgent sex scandals of Barnaby Joyce and Andrew Broad. But, whatever the failings of politicians, Australia's political system and in particular compulsory voting still tilts results to the mainstream and does not give too much power to the extremes of each party's base.

The Hayne royal commission has tarnished the reputations of four of Australia's biggest companies, the big banks. The commission was set up to look for sharp or sloppy practices against customers in organisations that over the years have become big, highly profitable, and complacent. Kenneth Hayne found it in spades. But on the substantive question on whether we trust banks to keep our money safe and secure – these days from a range of cyber nasties – the answer is yes. And we forget that credit is now a consumer product we take for granted. The housing market that most Australians rely on as the store of family wealth is no longer buoyant, and that's partly because an over-zealous post-Hayne crackdown on lending standards that some have demanded could become an uncomfortable credit squeeze if we are not careful.

Resetting of standards

Another watershed this year has been the #MeToo movement. That too has exposed casual, everyday sexist and even criminal behaviour that was once just accepted, or overlooked.

These purgatives like the Hayne commission or #MeToo are to be welcomed. They will force a raising and resetting of standards. Democracies in the Western liberal tradition are at their best self-examining – they absorb criticism, learn, and reform themselves. But the parallel lesson from history is that such revolutions can go too far. Then they destroy the good and become counter-productive. We must be alert to that too. The mark of mature democracies is that they learn lessons without overreacting.

Australia has not fallen for the cranky populism of the US and Europe, where voters make irrational and contradictory demands and that erratic leaders such as Mr Trump embody. The economy is still delivering a lot of jobs. The ACTU's attempts to manufacture a populist revolt out of low wage growth just looks contrived. Extremes of wealth would naturally sow distrust – but research shows that all Australians have gained from the continuous growth of the last 27 years. This is still a frontier society that can, unlike the damaged heartlands of America and Europe, generate growth and optimism – and from that faith and trust. But a lot falls on a sometimes flaky political class to channel this energy through better policy making. This is their task for the coming years.


'They've turned on the working class': Labor is accused of punishing tradies and nurses who want to buy homes by pushing housing reforms

Labor has been accused of punishing tradies and nurses who want to buy a house to have some extra retirement income.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has vowed a Labor government will scrap negative gearing for investors should it win next year's election.

Despite a severe housing market downturn in Sydney and Melbourne, Labor wants to get rid of tax breaks for landlords who buy an existing property, after a certain date in 2019.

Warren Mundine, who was Labor's national president in 2006 and 2007, said the whole policy smacked of class warfare that would hurt low and middle-income earners.

'They always talk about the rich, the filthy rich,' he told Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.

Mr Mundine, an indigenous man who grew up in northern New South Wales during the 1960s, said Labor had turned the  working class into the 'enemy'.

'The actual fact, 75 per cent of the people who are doing this negative gearing and buying houses are nurses, are police, are tradies, are factory workers, are labourers,' he said.

'These are people who are trying to get some income in and save some money so when they retire ... you're going to have some money in the kitty for yourself so you're not going to be living in poverty.'

Warren Mundine, who was Labor's national president in 2006 and 2007, said Labor's negative gearing policy smacked of class warfare and would hurt the poor (homes in Sydney pictured)

Labor is proposing to keep negative gearing for brand new investment properties in a bid to encourage the construction industry.

Its plan to scrap the tax breaks for existing rental properties would not be retrospective and would only affect those bought after a start date next year, should Labor win the May election.

Treasury figures show that in the 2012/13 financial year, almost 70 per cent of people with negatively geared property had a taxable income of less than $80,000 a year.

This data snapshot was taken before house prices in Sydney surged by double-digit amounts every year until 2017.

Houses in inner-city Sydney and Melbourne are beyond the reach of average-income earners on an $82,000-a-year salary.

These are the people who often resort to buying homes in the outer suburbs and renting them out at a loss to claim a tax break.

A spike in real estate values saw interest on mortgage repayments outpace rental income, leading to more investors claiming a loss on their tax return.

Since peaking in July 2017, Sydney's median house price has plummeted by 9.5 per cent.

Melbourne's equivalent values have declined by 7.6 per cent since reaching a zenith in November last year.

The downturns in Australia's biggest property markets occurred after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority cracked down on investor and interest-only home loans.


 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 21, 2018

Stop Wasting our Dam Water

by Viv Forbes,

The Saltbush Club today accused state and federal governments of wasting water often desperately needed everywhere west of Australia’s Great Dividing Range. The “Saltbush Water Watch” has been established to monitor government action and inaction and report on priorities.

The Executive Director of the new and growing Saltbush Club, Mr Viv Forbes, said “From Adelaide to Longreach we have allowed green subversives to prevent new dam construction and to dictate the waste of water caught in existing dams.”

“Without water conservation the Murray River would turn back into a string of disconnected waterholes every big drought. More reliable fresh water has benefitted humans and nature all along the river.

“Luckily (and predictably), Tim Flannery’s climate alarm forecasts of endless drought has proved wrong, or this area of Australia would now be depopulated.

“The green activists behind the water waste are not pro-environment – they are anti-human. Humans are part of the environment.

“The Saltbush Club is in the process of setting up several “Watch Groups” to investigate, monitor and report on this political war on human activity. It has appointed Mr Ron Pike, “A Bushie from the Back of Barellan” to lead the Saltbush Water Watch.

“Ron has a lifetime of experience of farming, irrigation and politics in the Murray Darling Basin. He was the first farmer to use water from the Snowy Scheme to irrigate his farm in 1961.

Ron says:

“The food we eat, the water we drink and the power we use for most of our endeavours, are available only because previous generations invested their know-how and money for the future. “It is time this generation did the same.”

Via email

Shorten haunted by ghost of socialist past

Bill Shorten will lead Labor into the next election with the party’s central mission statement being to implement the socialist objective, after the ALP national conference ignored a directive from almost four years ago to review its creed.

The party’s previous national confer­ence, in July 2015, resolved to set up a cross-factional committee to review the 1921 socialist object­ive and recommend to the next conference how it could be modernised. The resolution require­d the party “to commence a review of our socialist objective, with a view to replacing the existing language with the most appropriate and modern set of principles and objective”.

In October 2016, Labor’s ­national executive to set up an eight-member review committee with former Labor MP Tim Hammon­d, then the party’s vice-president, as chairman.

However, the review committee held no meetings with party members, MPs or unions, nor did it call for submissions on a new statement of belief, as it was directed to do by the national conference and executive. The motion agreed at the 2015 national conference also asked the review committee to “circulate draft proposals” for rewriting the party’s objective ahead of this ­week’s national conference.

Labor sources struggled to explain why the committee never began a review. Some suggested poor organisational leadership, a reluctance by the Left faction to engage in the process, and not wanting to start a difficult debate.

The socialist objective defines Labor as a “democratic socialist” party that supports “the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields”.

It was not part of Labor’s founding principles in 1891. After the party formally committed to social­ism in 1905, the objective was repeatedly modified and qualified. The last review occurred when Bill Hayden was party leader, in 1981. It was agreed to keep the objective but heavily qualify it with other principles. In 2014, the NSW Labor conference voted to abolish it.

Mr Shorten supported Labor reopening debate with a view to developing a modern mission statement. He has described the objective as being “as useful as a 100-year-old street directory”.

The move to abolish it had support from across the factions. The review committee comprised Mr Hammond and senator Kim Carr, former senator Ursula Stephens, former Queensland minister Linda Lavarch, former National Union of Workers national secret­ary Greg Sword, United Voice nation­al secretary Jo-anne Schofield, academic Anna Yeatman and party activist Adam Clarke.


Global urban mobility index shows Sydney and Melbourne more traffic snarled than many major cities

Given our insane immigration rate

We spend hours every week stuck in never-ending traffic. Now a graph has shown how bad it really is in Australia.

Melbourne and Sydney have worse traffic congestion than New York, less comprehensive public transport networks than Lisbon and more traffic pollution than Mexico City.

That’s according to a new report looking at mobility in 38 of the world’s largest metropolises.

Overall, Copenhagen came out on top while Sao Paulo languished at the bottom of the Urban Mobility Index released by navigation data firm Here Technology.

The index looked at a series of factors including traffic flow, public transport systems and emissions.

And for the two Australian cities in the index, it wasn’t great news. Overall, Melbourne ranked 20th worst out of 38 cities. Sydney fared even worse at 30, placing it only slightly better than Los Angeles for transport mobility.

“Australian cities suffer from traffic congestion (and) more needs to be done,” said Here Technology’s Ross Caldow.

The company used data from mobile handsets and connected vehicles, among other sources, to see how slow cities really were.

The most traffic jam free city was the Finnish capital of Helsinki. There, only 16 minutes is lost to delays for every 100 kilometres driven. In the peaks just 2 per cent of roads are congested. Zurich, Berlin, Copenhagen and Madrid rounded out the top five least congested urban areas.

Melbourne found itself in the bottom third of cities for congestion. For every 100km driven, 35 minutes was lost to congestion while 9 per cent of roads were regularly full.

But if you think sitting stationery on Punt Road is a pain, spare a thought for those motorists on Parramatta Road in Sydney. In the Harbour City, 11 per cent roads are clogged and 40 minutes are lost for every 100km driven.

New York City is hardly a paradise of free flowing roads but the traffic flows considerably faster than either of Australia’s two largest cities.

“As much as Melburnians complain about traffic flow, people in Sydney seem to be doing it slightly tougher,” said Mr Caldow who is Here’s infrastructure specialist.

But at least Sydneysiders fare better than motorists in India’s largest city Mumbai where almost a minute was lost in congestion for every kilometre driven.


Australia's jobless rate lifts unexpectedly -- as employment increases

Both labour force participation and the employment to population ratio increased , indicating that solid labour market conditions are encourage people to work or look for work.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), employment jumped by 37,000 in seasonally adjusted terms, easily beating expectations for an increase of 20,000. That followed a 28,650 increase in October, below the 32,800 level originally reported.

Total employment now stands at 12.694 million, the highest level on record.

All of the hiring spree last month came from part-time employment which increased by 43,400, more than offsetting a decline of 6,400 in full-time workers.

Over the past year, full-time employment still rose faster than part-time employment, lifting by 180,200 and 105,500 respectively. In percentage terms, employment growth over the year slowed to 2.3% from 2.5% in October, well below the 3.5% levels seen in early 2018.

While plenty of jobs were created last month, total hours worked fell, dropping by 3.3 million hours to 1.7595 billion hours.

Despite the sharp lift in employment, the unemployment rate rose to 5.1%, above the 5.0% level expected.

That was due to another lift in labour force participation which rose to 65.7% from 65.5% in October.

The increase in the number of people participating in the workforce is a good thing, albeit on this occasion it led to a small increase in the total number of unemployed workers which rose by 12,500 to 683,100.

While employment increased by 37,000, the number of people either in employment or actively seeking work rose by a larger 49,500, explaining the increase in unemployment.

Male unemployment accounted for a bulk of the increase, lifting by 11,500 from a month earlier. Female unemployment rose by a smaller 1,000.


 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 20, 2018

Australians For Tommy Robinson

Below I reproduce the current iteration of Avi Yemeni's home page.  Avi is a conservative Israeli of very Arab appearance who lives in Australia. His videos are on the right (Fittingly!) of his original page.  His latest efforts are in defence of British immigration critic Tommy Robinson, who is greatly feared and therefore heavily persecuted by the British elite.  Robinson has the daring to speak common sense about Muslims

Avi Yemini was one of a handful of real reporters who went to London to cover Tommy Robinson’s court appearance. As you know, the British media are so hostile to Tommy, they can’t even be trusted to accurately report the facts of the case.

So Tommy’s supporters crowdfunded Avi’s flight, and other reporters from Canada and the U.S. too.. Afterwards, Tommy said it made a huge difference having honest journalists there — it helped get the truth out, despite the mainstream media’s lies.

Well, Tommy had another demonstration — this time, it was about Brexit.

Tommy supports Brexit, and he worked with UKIP to organize this rally. But the British media are demonizing Tommy, and everyone involved with the demo. They know that Tommy is a growing political force, so they think that they have to defame him.

So when Tommy asked Avi to come all the way to London again, he agreed.

And we’re glad he did. Because it’s so important to have real reporters covering Tommy’s activities, because the BBC, Sky News and other British outlets lie and defame him.


African thugs come to Brisbane

Terrifying footage has captured the moment a driver fought off two masked thugs as they tried to steal his luxury Mercedes at a 7-Eleven service station.

The victim was stabbed in the neck during the attempted carjacking in Brisbane's south on Tuesday night.

CCTV footage showed the man filling up his tank when he was approached by two men, wearing dark clothes and hooded jackets, who demanded his keys.

The victim's terrified partner fled from the passenger seat and into the service station as the man struggled to fight off the attackers.

One of them pulled out a knife and used it to cut the man on the neck.

Bleeding, he followed his girlfriend and fled inside, but moments later returned to confront the thugs.

The pair were scared off and fled on foot.  

A few minutes later, the men surrounded a red Toyota Yaris, which was reversing out of a driveway in a nearby street.   

They forced the man out of the driver's seat before punching him in the head and stealing the vehicle.

The stolen vehicle is described as a red 2006 Toyota Yaris with Queensland registration 180-WVP.

The men are described as African and aged in their mid 20s.

Investigators are appealing for anyone with information or dash cam vision from the Yeronga area between 10pm and 11pm last night to contact police.


Big Green can afford to buy what it wants

Climate change is already shaping up to be a major election issue and a $495,000 donation to GetUp spells trouble for the beleaguered Adani coal mine.

Environmental group The Sunrise Project is providing the money to support its efforts to make climate change the number one issue at the next federal election.

Former Greenpeace activist John Hepburn, who is the founder and executive director of The Sunrise Project, said people had lost faith in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s capacity to effectively tackle climate change.

“The community is crying out for political leaders who will stand up to multinational corporations like Adani which wants to force through its climate-wrecking projects, putting at risk Queensland’s precious water resources and adding fuel to the fire, cooking an already distressed Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Hepburn said.

“Political leadership is what’s needed to put a stop to Adani’s controversial coal mine. The world just can’t afford to mine and burn the coal from the Galilee Basin which is one of the largest untapped coal reserves in the world. If we do we will see even more dangerous climate change and extreme weather events in Australia such as fires, storms and droughts.”

The Sunrise Project has been lobbying for the transition away from fossil fuels and previously campaigned to stop Adani’s Carmichael coal mine from going ahead. It generally keeps a low profile, working to co-ordinate efforts between different groups.

The organisation gets part of its funding from the US-based charitable trust, the Sandler Foundation, which has led to it being criticised for being part of a co-ordinated push against coal.

Its $495,000 donation will be used to lobby for action on climate change and will be a significant contribution to GetUp’s election war chest.

In the past year GetUp has received $10 million in donations but national director Paul Oosting said most of its funding came from everyday people who pay on average $17 or less. He said last financial year more than 104,905 individuals donated to GetUp.

“This support will help supercharge the great work GetUp members are already doing to make climate action a reality,” Mr Oosting said. “For politicians standing in the way of climate action, this summer promises to be unbearable.”

The collaboration is an ominous sign for climate change deniers as GetUp has shown itself to be an effective campaigner.

GetUp helped to make climate change an issue in the Wentworth by-election, contributing to the win by independent Dr Kerryn Phelps in the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s seat.

About 78 per cent of Wentworth voters surveyed in an exit poll commissioned by The Australia Institute said climate change had some influence on their vote.

In the four weeks leading up the poll GetUp members made more than 90,000 phone calls to voters in the electorate and more than 300 volunteers handed out how to vote cards.

The donation also puts Adani on notice that protests about its proposed Carmichael coal mine will continue, despite it announcing a scaled-back project.

GetUp believes the public don’t want Adani to go ahead.

Mr Oosting pointed to a recent ReachTel poll of 2345 Australians commissioned by the Stop Adani Alliance that found 40 per cent “strongly agreed” that digging new coal mines in Australia was no longer in the national interest as it was making climate change worse. Overall the poll conducted on December 4 found 56.3 per cent agreed and 27.7 per cent didn’t agree.

Mr Oosting said Australia was recently ranked the fifth worst performing country in the world when it came to climate action.

The 2018 Climate Change Performance Index ranked Australia 55 out of 60 countries for climate change action, putting it in the same group as the United States and Saudi Arabia.


Labor’s new affordable housing policy labelled a handout for developers

A $6.6 billion policy proposed by the federal Labor party has come under fire from affordable housing experts, who say the planned subsidy doesn’t address the root causes of unaffordable housing.

Labor leader Bill Shorten announced a $8500 per dwelling subsidy for investors who build homes and lease them for a 20 per cent discount to market rents on Sunday.

The policy would cost $102 million over 2021 to 2022, and $6.6 billion until 2029 and would create 250,000 new homes, Labor said.

The subsidy is set to target developers looking to construct build-to-rent blocks and community housing associations, industry players expect.

Build-to-rent is an asset class where an institution or organisation develops homes with the intention of holding and renting them out, rather than selling each dwelling.

“You don’t need to go around giving companies with multimillion-dollar balance sheets public money,” he said. “If you wanted more houses built and rented cheaper, this would be the worst way to do it.”

Build-to-rent developments were already on their way with or without the subsidy and its introduction would encourage construction in areas where market rents were already low, which would maximise the amount the owner of the dwellings would be able to pocket from the subsidy, Dr Murray said.

Although the subsidy would also benefit community housing providers, Dr Murray said there were still better ways to achieve a similar result.

“We have $50 billion to buy submarines, but we don’t have a cent to build a house. And when you build a house the tenant pays you afterwards,” he said. “If you’re worried about the budget you should be building more public housing because you get money when you rent it out.

“I think you’ll find when the market starts to turn down all of a sudden all these developers are going to realise they don’t want to be stuck holding all these lots that are falling in value. It’s better to build to rent than have their land declining in value.”

But the chair of Community Housing Industry Association Michael Lennon, who advised on the policy, said the plan would be of great benefit to low and middle-income Australians already struggling to find an affordable place to live.

“There are vast numbers of people in all Australia cities where people are paying between 30 and 50 per cent of their incomes on housing,” he said. “They’re trapped in a market with unaffordable housing costs. This policy is to address a key part of the country’s infrastructure that has declined in recent years.”

It was a big opportunity for institutional investors in Australia because it made build-to-rent projects more financially viable and community housing organisations would also be better able to afford to offer low-cost housing, Mr Lennon added.

Karl Fitzgerald, project director at think tank Prosper Australia, said moving to a land rent scheme, where the government owns the land and leases it in perpetuity to a buyer, would be a better way of improving affordability. A land rent scheme is already in place in the ACT.

Leasing government land to community housing associations to build homes instead would also be a better option, he said.

Mr Fitzgerald argued high land costs were the root cause of unaffordability, and the measure was a stop-gap in place of more holistic reform.

“It is admirable that they’re at least talking about housing affordability,” he said. “Governments would be far better off tackling the land price than handing out subsidies.”


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 19, 2018

The Chihuahua Effect

Bettina Arndt comments on her defence of men against feminist abuse

Promoting my new book #MenToo has provided a wonderful example of the chihuahua effect. In case you haven’t heard of this before, that’s a term coined by Eric Weinstein, the brilliant American mathematician, economist, writer and managing director of Thiel Capital, which he used describe a small group producing most of the noise. Like our feminists.

No question we’re talking here about a tiny group. Only 19 per cent of Australians call themselves “feminist”, according to the Macquarie University survey that was at the heart of the recent SBS documentary, Is Australia Sexist – I recently made a video about that appalling programme. 

Boy, is this small group busy yapping away, putting their own spin on what I am doing. Last week I was interviewed about #MenToo, on Channel 7’s Sunrise programme – see that interview on my video from last week. The two female hosts were surprisingly positive about my central message about mothers being concerned about their sons in this male-bashing society. It triggered a huge response from viewers, with nearly 5,000 likes on their Facebook page, compared to only 200 critical responses. Most of the 1.8 thousand comments posted were positive and included many from women supporting my argument that feminism is no longer promoting equality but rather is advantaging women at the expense of men.

There’s been no mention of this overwhelming public support in the stream of critical articles being published commenting on the interview. Instead journalists like Stephanie Bedo on attacked the Sunrise hosts for their “one-sided” interview in which my “controversial views were left unchallenged.” Many other commentators have followed suit invariably saying Sunrise had “copped criticism” for the interview. The fake news took over as other media sites promoted this minority view as if it was the main story.

My Sunrise experience is all about the chihuahua effect. A small, noisy band of feminists attack a mainstream television programme for an interview overwhelmingly endorsed by the bulk of the programme’s audience. But it is their yapping about the shameful, one-sided television interview which attracts all the subsequent media attention.

Roll on the day when the Great Dane, the sensible majority concerned about what’s happening to men in our society, puts a stop to the antics of this irritating creature and takes it on.

Via email from

Jo Nova - How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Electricity Grid in Three Easy Steps

How Labor will accept 4,000 MORE refugees into Australia and give $500 million to the United Nations to help asylum seekers if Bill Shorten is elected

An extra 4000 refugees will call Australia home every year and $500million will go to the United Nations to help asylum seekers if Labor wins the next federal election.

Bill Shorten is also promising an urgent review of Newstart, which the party believes is too low.

But the opposition leader will maintain the coalition's hardline boat turn backs policy and refuses to commit to lifting dole payments.

'You can have secure borders and you can live up to our humanitarian obligations. You just require leadership,' Mr Shorten told Labor's national conference in Adelaide on Monday.

The two announcements go some way to soothing tensions between Labor's factions over lifting the dole and welcoming refugees.

The Community Sponsored Refugee Program will over time be expanded from 1000 to 5000 places annually. The program allows state and local governments, community organisations, businesses, unions and faith-based organisations to sponsor humanitarian entrants into Australia.

A Shorten Labor government will also give $500million to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees over five years.

Mr Shorten said he would look to take up New Zealand's offer to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus Island immediately on similar terms with the United States agreement.

The Labor leader also promised to release the findings of the Newstart review within 18 months of taking power. 'We believe in the greatness of the Australian safety net,' Mr Shorten said.

Some Left faction members were pushing for a rise in the unemployment payment, which hasn't risen in real terms since 1994, prompting advocacy groups to call for a $75-a-week increase on the current rate of $275.

But Mr Shorten's factional allies appear to have secured a backroom victory on Newstart and refugees to ensure the opposition Leader has his way five months out from the federal election.

The party promised to abolish the controversial Community Development Program work-for-the-dole scheme meant to help indigenous people in remote Australia. It will be replaced because Labor says it punishes indigenous job seekers compared to their city-based counterparts.

Labor also committed to establishing a voice to parliament designed by indigenous people and enshrined in the constitution.


'Step in right direction': Trump lauds Australia's move on Jerusalem

The Trump administration has welcomed the Morrison government's decision to officially recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, describing the move as "a step in the right direction" and a "recognition of reality".

President Donald Trump announced last December that the US would recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision to follow the US and recognise Jerusalem has been applauded by the Netanyahu government, although Israeli officials have said they are disappointed the Australian embassy will remain in Tel Aviv for now.

But Palestinian and Malaysian authorities strongly criticised the move, saying it would undermine hopes of a two-state solution.

"Australia’s announcement on Jerusalem is a step in the right direction," a US State Department spokeswoman told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

"Almost exactly one year ago, President Trump was the first head of state to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announce his intent to move his nation’s embassy to Jerusalem.

"As the President stated, for the United States, recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a recognition of reality."

The spokeswoman said Australia's decision acknowledged the fact Jerusalem had been the seat of the modern Israeli government for 70 years and was the home of its parliament and Supreme Court.

"We encourage other governments to follow President Trump’s lead in acknowledging this reality, recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and moving their embassies to Jerusalem," the spokeswoman said.

In a speech to the Sydney Institute on Saturday, Morrison said that peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine had reached a "rancid stalemate" and a new approach was needed.

"Slavish adherence to the conventional wisdom over decades appears only to be further entrenching this stalemate, providing a leave pass for continued inaction," he said.


 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