Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Melbourne residents endure 15-hour blackouts

Leftist Premier Daniels denies that there was a shortfall of supply and says it was all due to fuses blowing at local substations.  If so, why were the tripswitches not immedicately turned back on?  Answer:  Because they could not be lest they bring down the whole grid.  As Robert Gottliebson noted: 

"It’s true part of the outages were caused by fuses, but the outages were too widespread. It’s another smokescreen".

Those outages were what enabled the Vic government to say that there was sufficient supply for the demand.  Melbourne's highest ever electricty demand was in 2009.  Were there any blackouts then?  I can find no mention of it.  The big Hazelwood generator was operating then

No power, no airconditioning, record temperatures. That was the harsh reality faced by tens of thousands of Melburnians on Sunday night as the mercury soared and the power grid crumbled.

After tossing and turning throughout the night, many residents were throwing out a fridge-load of spoiled food come Monday morning.

But for others it was much more serious. The elderly and ill, especially those relying on life-saving machinery, were the most vulnerable.

Highett resident Julie Kempton, 74, was affected by the outage, but she was more concerned for her bedridden neighbour, who is in palliative care. "They had no power or cooling for her … it’s appalling,” Ms Kempton said. “I’m annoyed that some people who really need to be kept cool and needed power didn’t have it through no fault of their own.”

Huge electricity demand from air-conditioners put unprecedented strain on the network, energy providers said.

The demand resulted in fuses at suburban substations blowing out, cutting power to tens of thousands of homes.

For 64-year-old Nel Lloga, of Hampton, it was a particularly difficult night. Ms Lloga’s 70-year-old husband is a stroke victim and the couple were without power for 15 hours. Even after their power was restored, the air-conditioning wouldn’t work on Monday afternoon. “I have heart problems, I couldn’t breathe,” Ms Lloga said. “If you come in my place it’s like a sauna.”

The couple sought refuge at their daughter’s home on Monday morning to escape the heat. “It’s terrible, they must do something,” she said.

Many Highett residents were without power for 15 hours. Tom Henry was among them. The 52-year-old lost power at 5pm on Sunday just as the temperature hit 37 degrees.

He was told by energy provider United Energy that the lights and air-conditioning would be back within four to five hours. But that wasn’t to be. “We rang United Energy and I sat on hold for 40 minutes then gave up and thought they’re not going to do anything," he said. “Nobody slept particularly well. You get up in the morning and kind of wonder what time it is.”

Jack Zeng, 52, owner of Wishbones Charcoal Chicken and Pasta in Hampton East, was in the middle of peak-hour service when the lights went out at 7pm in his shop. As the industrial cooking fans in the kitchen went off, the kitchen filled with smoke. “Everything went off,” he said. “It was extremely hot, very smoky and very dark.”

Another local business owner, Justin Derrick, said it wasn’t the first time the heat had affected the power grid in the area.  “Highett has just gone crazy in the last four or five years,” he said.

Although his three businesses were not affected, he said his young children struggled most with the lack of entertainment.

“It’s an education for them. Even the 2½-year-old was running around saying, ‘What are we going to do?’ ” “I was teaching my six-year-old the reality of the real world.”

Jo Pratt, 44, of Highett, said her internet had not be restored, even though the power had. “We lost all internet based on the fact that we have NBN and we’ve lost home phones,” she said.  “It’s frustrating.”


Vegan protesters storm steak restaurant in Melbourne's CBD

Authoritarian bigots want everyone else to conform to their beliefs.  Stalinism is alive and well

Dozens of vegan protesters stormed a Melbourne steak restaurant on Saturday evening, shouting chants at diners using megaphones.

Thirty-five protesters from activist groups 'Direct Action Everywhere - DxE - Melbourne' and 'Melbourne Cow Save' marched into Rare Steakhouse on King Street in the CBD holding graphic posters of cows in slaughterhouses with slogans such as “Steak = violence, death and suffering”.

Footage filmed of the incident show an elderly woman dining at the restaurant slapping away a protestor’s poster, while other diners continued to eat their meals, unperturbed by the scene unfolding around them.

“This is what happened to your steak, this is what happened before their flesh ended up on your plate," one protester can be heard shouting into a megaphone.

Rare Steakhouse's media and marketing manager, Chrissy Symeonakis, said the protesters arrived at the restaurant at about 6.30pm.

"It was just a regular Saturday evening, and we were looking forward to it being a busy night, when a group of protesters marched into the venue and located themselves in the upstairs and downstairs dining areas," Ms Symeonakis said.

"They were holding placards and banners and proceeded to chant and yell about consuming meat. They were filming our diners as they were eating and yelling into their megaphones."

Ms Symeonakis said reactions of customers and staff at the restaurant ranged from "shock to total bemusement".

"Our senior staff members identified who they thought were the ringleaders of the group and approached them and asked them to please leave because they were obviously unwelcome and entered the restaurant with the purpose of disrupting the peace," she said.

"When they refused to leave, the police were called."

Joanne Lee, a member of Direct Action Everywhere - DxE - Melbourne, said the group’s aim was to “force animal rights into the public consciousness through non-violent direct action”.

“The reason for going there was because passively asking for the exploitation and the suffering and death of animals to stop isn’t liberating them quick enough,” she said.

Ms Lee said they chose the restaurant because there were two levels and “numbers are pretty good on a Saturday”.

She admitted some diners were “pretty pissed off" by the protest. “One table was abusive and yelling at us, the other tables were just quietly looking,” she said.

While a number of the Melbourne Cow Save Facebook page supporters lauded the protest as "courageous", the group’s tactics have been met with opposition from other vegans online.  “I'm vegan and honestly I cringe so hard at stuff like this,” said user ‘epicpillowcase’ on Reddit Melbourne.

Ms Lee acknowledged that other vegan groups might be critical of such a confrontational approach. “We believe that in order to create change in our society we need to challenge our current belief systems and we need to force people to pick a side,” she said. “If they were selling the bodies of dead puppies in that place and we disrupted it, we’d be getting hailed heroes.”

Ms Symeonakis said new protocols had been put in place should another similar incident occur. "I understand that they absolutely come from a place of passion, but I think they could have gone about getting their message out there in a better way," she said.

In an unexpected twist, Ms Symeonakis said there had been a silver lining. "Our social media followers and 'likes' on Facebook have gone through the roof since the video began circulating online," she said.

Police confirmed that they were called to the restaurant about 7pm. “Protesters left the premises peacefully when asked to do so by the managers of the venue,” a spokeswoman for Victoria Police said. “There were no arrests and no injuries.”


Top Australian University introduces mandatory sexual harassment course using stick figures to tell students they can't kiss or touch each other without an 'ENTHUSIASTIC yes'

Feminist rubbish.  One doubts that the authors have ever been kissed

Students have slammed a mandatory sexual harassment course telling them they cannot kiss or touch without an 'enthusiastic yes'.

All commencing students at the University of Sydney must take the module, originally developed at Oxford University by London-based company Epigeum.

The university's website says the course is to help students understand consensual sexual activity, which it defines as including kissing and touching.

'It is the university's way of saying, "we've done our part, we look good", but it's not actually going to fix anything,' honours student Claudia Reed told the Daily Telegraph.

Medical Science student Eleni Vellios said asking explicitly for an 'enthusiastic "yes"' before kissing someone was silly and impractical.

'It's a bit unrealistic, no one is going to ask for them to spell it out and ask for it,' she said.

Ms Reed agreed, saying they course will not help or change the minds of anyone who needs to be taught what consent is.

The compulsory survey was a 'tick-a-box exercise', she added and said the university should be more focused on fixing the problems within its residential colleges. 

The University of Sydney states: 'Whenever you participate in any sexual activity, everyone involved needs to give their full consent.

'This means that everyone is entirely comfortable with the situation and freely able to agree, give permission or say "yes" to participating in a sexual activity (this includes kissing and touching). 'Sexual activity without consent is sexual assault and is always a crime.'

'Consent is never ambiguous. If someone is not able to offer an enthusiastic "yes" to questions about sexual activity you do not have consent.'

'Consent Matters: Boundaries, Respect, And Positive Intervention' uses stick figures to illustrate the importance of consent and the impact that drugs and alcohol have on consent.

The course states that 'everyone must have explicit permission from the person they intend to make contact with' before going ahead.  

A university spokesperson confirmed that students would be forced to keep attempting the course until they got every section correct.

'The Consent Matters module is mandatory for all new students enrolling at the University of Sydney from 2018 onwards,' she said.


Labor would push up health insurance costs for the poor

Government hospitals are enough for them.  Don't want them to be getting too independent and above their station!

Health Minister Greg Hunt has seized on Bill Shorten’s failure to rule out slashing the private health insurance rebate, warning that Labor policy will make premiums unaffordable for people on middle and low incomes.

The Opposition Leader told the National Press Club today that Labor was working through “a number of options” to reform the private health insurance system, and did not rule out changes to the rebate.

“Twice, Mr Shorten refused to rule out slashing or abolishing the private health insurance rebate,” Mr Hunt said.

“This rebate provides $6.4 billion to families and pensioners, to lower-income earners. It’s means-tested. It’s for those who otherwise would not be able to afford private health insurance.

“On the very day that Mr Shorten declared that he supported reducing pressures on the cost of living he announced a policy to increase pressure on cost of living.

“He announced a policy which would drive up the cost of private health insurance, which would put it beyond the reach of so many pensioners, so many families.”

Mr Hunt said today’s comments from Mr Shorten came on top of Labor’s existing policy of freezing the private health insurance rebate, which Deloitte modelling had should would increase low-cost basic premiums by 16 per cent.

“Talking with Private Healthcare Australia, they made it absolutely clear that with the 300,000 Australian pensioners on private health insurance, when you put the two elements of slashing the private health insurance rebate and a 16 per cent increase in the cost of basic policies together, in some cases pensioners would face a 50 per cent slug in their private health insurance. That’s unacceptable, it’s unsustainable,’’ Mr Hunt said.

“It would put private health insurance beyond the reach of pensioners and it would have a devastating impact on the Australian health system, driving up public waiting lists as people were no longer able to afford private health insurance and no longer able to afford to be part of the private hospital system.”

Mr Shorten said he was putting “big end multinational” health insurance companies “on notice”. “Business as usual does not work if you are getting a $6bn subsidy from the taxpayer yet making record profits and the prices and exclusions are going up. That is a problem,” he said.

“They are not the sole player in the system; it’s complex, but I’m committed to consultation, working through the issues but for private health insurance, I want to save it. “You won’t save it by increasing the prices. They’ve gone up a thousand bucks since the Liberals went in.”

Asked whether he would threaten to withdraw the government subsidy, Mr Shorten said he would talk to the insurers.  “Business as usual is not cutting it,” he said.

Pressed again, Mr Shorten said: “Let’s not put the cart before the horse. “I think the fees have increased too much. I think premium rises are too high.

“There needs to be better monitoring of exclusions. This has to be done with the industry as well as talking about it. I’m sure we can get a better deal.”


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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Limits on Australian political donations

Crackdown on donations would destroy activist groups, GetUp says. The article below is from the Left so is unlikely to be the whole story but if it is right, it would seem that the government is on the right track.  Political agitators often support destructive policies and spoil the scene for people with real grievances and problems.

And the idea that an attack on them is an attack on "democracy" is another example of Leftist Newspeak (in Orwell's terms).  The whole point of these groups, particularly when they take to the streets, is to rule from the streets, not the ballot box.  The recent homosexual marriage "debate" in Australia showed how coercive and thuggish  these groups can be

And it is clearly the Left who abuse the opportunity to demonstrate.  The "Occupy Wall St" demonstrations of 2011 in NYC were very aggressive and trashed the location whereas the conservative "Tea Party" demonstrations were polite, civil and picked up their rubbish after themselves.

In my home State of Queensland under the Bjelke-Peterson administration of the '60s, Leftist demonstrations were heavily limited by the police, resulting in quite civil Leftist behaviour, when a demonstration was allowed.  I know.  I was there.  I think that should be the general pattern.  Leftist hate-fests should be carefully monitored and cancelled when they become aggressive

Leftists are rarely content with free speech. They want freedom to coerce and intimidate as well.  Non-coercive, non-obstructive, non-abusive demonstrations should of course always be allowed but a Leftist demonstration rarely even starts out that way, let alone ending that way

The activist group GetUp has criticised the Turnbull government’s proposed crackdown on foreign political donations, saying its legislation will destroy the revenue streams of grassroots groups and minor parties.

In a submission to the joint standing committee on electoral matters, which is holding an inquiry into election funding and disclosure, GetUp says the government’s bill contains an extraordinary requirement for not-for-profit organisations to obtain a statutory declaration from donors who give just $4.80 a week to political campaign organisations such as GetUp.
Fear 'rushed' foreign influence bill will harm freedom of speech
Read more

It says according to Sections 302L and 302P of the bill’s explanatory memorandum, buried on pages 43 and 45, the government makes it clear that if individuals want to donate $250 or more annually to an organisation they will have to declare they are an “allowable donor” and have a justice of the peace or a police officer witness their declaration.

GetUp says that would require organisations to monitor cumulative small donations in real time and, once the annual $250 ceiling is met, to refuse further donations until a statutory declaration is obtained.

Failure to comply with the law would result in 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine of $210,000.

“This hidden clause reveals the federal government’s true intention is to shut down anyone it doesn’t agree with,” Paul Oosting, GetUp national director, told Guardian Australia. “This will destroy grassroots groups’ and minor parties’ revenue streams.

“If brought into law, this would starve GetUp of more than half of our people-powered funding, essentially halting our ability to call on the government to save the Great Barrier Reef, demand corporations contribute a fair share to our local schools and hospitals and treat people seeking asylum in Australia humanely.

“You can get a passport or buy a house without a stat dec but now if you want to stand up for a cause you believe in you’ve got to line up at a police station and get a formal document signed and witnessed. It’s absurd.

“This bill serves the interests of the Turnbull government and no one else. It doesn’t stop the likes of Gina Rinehart or the Adani Corporation from cutting huge cheques to their favourite politicians but it forces everyday people to jump through absurd hoops just to have their say in our democracy.”

GetUp’s submission says the government’s bill is ostensibly a response to a series of scandals surrounding foreign funding of politicians and political parties, and the potential for undue foreign influence, but those scandals would not have played out any differently if the bill were enacted into law.

“The ‘foreign donors; namechecked in the media – Chau Chak Wing and Huang Xiang Mo – both hold or held Australian citizenship or residency at the time the donations were made and therefore would be allowable donors under the provisions of the bill,” GetUp’s submission says.

“Meanwhile, the bill not only prohibits many not-for-profits from receiving international philanthropy entirely, but imposes a large administrative burden for them to confirm the identity of all donors – as opposed to, for example, simply determining whether the donation came from a foreign bank account.

“This represents a near-impossible feat for community organisations that depend on the small donations of thousands of everyday people.

“There is also a reasonable concern that banning donations by reference to a person’s identity in the way currently drafted is unconstitutional. It is clear the Bill is not serving the interests of the Australian public, concerned about the recent slew of foreign donations scandals – which raises the question, what or whose interests does it serve?

“One clue is in what the bill omits. It misses by far the biggest risk for ‘foreign influence’ in Australia’s democracy: large multinational corporations.”

The Minerals Council of Australia, one of Australia’s biggest corporate lobby groups, has conceded that it makes political donations and pays to attend fundraisers to gain access to members of parliament.

In a submission to a separate Senate inquiry, the MCA said it made donations amounting to $33,250 in 2015-16 and $57,345 in 2016-17, which were declared to the Australian Electoral Commission. The majority in both years went to the Liberal or National parties and associated entities.

The frank admission – which reflects a commonly held belief about the role of money in politics – stuck out because major corporations and lobby groups by and large say they make donations to support democracy.


Aboriginal activist called a ‘hypocritical hater’

Hate is what Leftists do

An Aboriginal activist who called for Australia to be burnt to the ground during an incendiary ­address to an “invasion day” rally has been described as a hypocritical hater and faces calls to be dumped from her leadership role with a government-funded body.

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett said the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) ­organiser Dtarneen Onus-Williams should step down as an executive member of Victoria’s Koorie Youth Council for a series of angry, divisive comments.

At a rally outside Victoria’s Parliament House on Friday, Ms Onus-Williams, 24, told the crowd: “We have not organised this to change the date. We have organised this to abolish Australia Day because f..k Australia. F..k Australia, I hope it f..king burns to the ground.’’ She later stood by the comments, saying that although they were intended metaphorically rather than literally, she wanted “everything, all the governments to fall apart”.

Mr Kennett said that while the young activist was entitled to speak her mind and to say what she wanted, it was inappropriate for her to continue with the state government-funded Koorie Youth Council and to sit on any government-funded body.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate that she continues to serve on the council,” Mr Kennett said.

“This is something that’s meant to advance the understanding and appreciation of all things indigenous and in saying what she has, she’s shown that she’s totally incompatible with that. I think it’s a case of ‘thank you, but goodbye’.”

Indigenous leader and former ALP president Warren Mundine said Ms Onus-Williams was a hypocrite and a “hater” for working with the government on state-funded programs while openly attacking the government and causing division in other forums.

Mr Mundine said the episode illustrated that governments across the country had to rethink which indigenous groups and panels they funded and more carefully scrutinise where the funds are spent.

“The serious question here is why is the government funding these groups and these organisations when the people involved are haters who have no scruples about taking taxpayers’ money and then spitting in their faces,” Mr Mundine told The Australian.

“And governments only have themselves to blame for wasting taxpayers’ money, because there’s no real rigour in appointments and no questions about where this money is going. And then you see money going into causes and demonstrations where people are racially abusing and threatening people — it has to change.”

The Victorian Koorie [Aboriginal] Youth Council has received almost $2 million from the state government since 2012, with the Andrews government providing $545,342 for 2016-17. The Koorie Youth Council yesterday said it did not support Ms Onus-Williams’s comments. In a statement, it stressed that Ms Onus-Williams was a volunteer with the organisation and had been sharing her personal opinion — rather than the council’s — at the rally.

The council said it had played no role in the organisation of the rally, nor provided any funding for external activities. “Media reports associating KYC with the march are misleading and unfounded,” a statement said.

Mr Mundine said the Victorian government should strip the youth council of funding following Ms Onus-Williams’s comments. He said the youth council had promoted the rally several times on its Twitter feed.

Mr Mundine’s comments angered indigenous academic Marcia Langton, who hit back. “With youth detention rates at a high, the overwhelmingly good work of the KYC needs our support,” she said. “Think about consequences of your demand to defend/shut down one of the few voices for young indigenous people.”

Ms Onus-Williams could not be reached for comment yesterday. She deleted her Facebook ­account after the rally.


The Never-ending Battles of the Coral Sea

Viv Forbes

For at least 50 years Australian taxpayers and other innocents have supported a parasitic industry in academia, bureaucracy, law, media and the tax-exempt Green Alarm “Charities”, all studying, regulating, inspecting and writing about yet another “imminent threat to Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.”

It has become the never-ending battle of the Coral Sea.

The threats change, but there is always a doomsday forecast – Crown-of-Thorns, oil drilling, fishing, cane farming, coastal shipping, global warming, ocean acidity, coral bleaching, port dredging, chemical and fertiliser runoff, coal transport, river sediments, loss of world heritage status etc. Every recycled scare, magnified by the media and parroted by politicians, generates more income for the alarm industry, usually at the expense of taxpayers, consumers or local industries.

The reality is that sea creatures would starve in pure water – all marine life needs nutrients, salts and minerals. These come from other life forms, from decomposing rocks and organic matter carried to the sea by rivers, from dissolving atmospheric gases, or from delta and shelf sediments stirred up by floods, cyclones, dredging or coastal shipping. No one supports over-use of toxic man-made chemicals, but well-run cane, cattle and coal companies can co-exist with corals.

Corals first appeared 500 million years ago and have proven to be one of Earth’s great survivors. They outlasted the Carboniferous Forests, the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions, the dinosaurs, the mammoths, the Neanderthals and the Pleistocene cycles of ice age and warming. They thrive in warm tropical water, cluster around hot volcanic fumaroles and survive massive petroleum spills, natural oil seeps, tidal waves and volcanic dust. They have even recolonised the Montebello Island waters devastated by atomic bomb testing in the 1950’s.

The ENSO oscillation of blobs of warm Pacific water which caused recent coral bleaching can be identified in historical records for at least 400 years. Corals have survived El Nino warmings for thousands of years and they will probably outlast Homo Alarmism as Earth proceeds into the next glacial epoch.

Corals do not rely on computer models of global temperature to advise them – they read the sea level thermometer which falls and rises as the great ice sheets come and go.

In the warming phase like the one just ending, ice melts, sea levels rise and the reef that houses the corals may get drowned. Corals have two choices – build their reef higher or just float south/inshore and build a new reef (like the Great Barrier Reef) in shallower, cooler water. When islands sink beneath rising oceans, corals may build their own coral atolls as fast as the water rises.

Then when the cold era returns, ice sheets grow, sea levels fall, and the warm era coral reefs (like the Great Barrier Reef) get stranded on the new beaches and coastal plains. Usually the process is slow enough to allow the coral polyps to float into deeper warmer water closer to the equator and build another reef.

This eminently sensible policy of “move when you have to” has proved a successful survival policy for the corals for 500 million years.

Humans should copy the corals – “forget the computer climate models but watch real data like actual sea levels and . . . move when you have to.”


Absurd ‘modest Australian fashion’

How did you dress your little girl for school this morning? Shorts, and a short-sleeved polo?

A sunhat, to wear outdoors?

And what about your good self, what do you have on? A cute off-the-shoulder number? A shirt, with the second button undone?

Do you think that makes you a little immodest? Synonyms for which include immoral, and indecent?

I ask because Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, otherwise known as DFAT, or else as Australia’s face to the world, has this week launched a thrilling new exhibition, in both Malaysia and Indonesia, showcasing, wait for it, “modest Australian fashion.”

In case you don’t know what that is, it’s skirts to the floor, ladies.

It is full body suits at the beach. It’s covering up your hair, and draping yourself in heavy fabric as you go about your day.

When did this become something the Australian government wanted to promote, and celebrate?

In 2018, apparently.

A media release announcing the exhibition, titled “Fashion Diplomacy in Action: Showcasing Australian Modest Fashion” went up on DFAT’s social media pages on 22 January. You can find it here.

It starts in a cheery way: “You may not have even heard of the modest fashion market but it is booming.”

Yes, it is. Depressingly, it is booming, as the corruption of Sharia in the name of Islam, and its attendant misogyny, expands around the globe, sweeping all before it in an orgy of violence and terror.

But hey, what a great opportunity to introduce “Australian modest fashion” to the world!

Just curious, though, if you’re not wearing modest fashion, as defined by DFAT, what kind of fashion are you wearing today?

Immodest fashion? Because you haven’t got a pair of leggings under your calf-length skirts, and a turtle-neck under your blouse?

This is how Australian government officials describe us now?

Apparently so, because the blog helpfully explains: “Modest fashion is clothing that conceals rather than accentuating the body — and it is quickly increasing in popularity.”

Popularity. What an interesting word to choose.

The post goes on: “The emerging modest fashion market can help advance Australia’s public diplomacy objectives.”

How so, exactly? The post is illustrated with glamour shots of women covered head to toe, as if this is the ideal.

Australian women have done very well without being told what they can wear, from day dot. And that is because Australian womanhood is robust, hands-on, shoulder to the wheel. It is pioneers on outback stations, and it is women, and indeed teenage girls, sailing solo around the globe. It’s walking across the continent with your own fleet of camels, and flying your own damn plane.

It is women like Annette Kellerman, who in 1905 held all the world’s records for swimming, including the coveted 26-miles from Dover to Ramsgate.

It’s Joan Mary Barry, who at the age of 25 in 1961, was hauled before the Waverley Court for wearing a bikini on Bondi Beach, and for telling the lifeguard who tried to arrest her that he was a fool.

Obviously it’s possible to be both Australian and to wear the veil. But the idea that by choosing not to cover up — heading to the beach in a pair of bathers, or hitching up your shorts for climbing trees — makes one immodest … that’s something we need to push back against, as hard and as fast as we can.

The giddy tone of the DFAT post truly defies belief: “We first came across the exhibition (of modest clothing) in 2016 when we were researching public diplomacy activities for the coming financial year,” it says.

“We thought the exhibition would resonate well with Malaysians and we were right — a comment we heard from many was ‘wow, we didn’t realise Australia had a modest fashion scene.”

We’re meant to feel thrilled about that?

How about we tell them: Australia is an enlightened country, where women can dress as they please?

How about we immediately divert the funds from the “modest fashion exhibition” toward programs for breaking up child marriages, sending girls to school, and clamping down on genital mutilation?

DFAT may think it is a you-beaut idea to “support” the veiling of women in Malaysia and Indonesia, but in case they missed the cable, women across the Middle East are currently battling for the right not to wear the hijab.

Those women are disappearing from street corners.

They’re being thrown into prison.

How about we “support” them in their “immodest” desires? Because it’s getting harder to live without the scarf in Malaysia, and in places like Aceh, in Indonesia. Religious police are roaming the streets, and breaking into private homes, and arresting women for hanging out with chaps who aren’t their husbands.

Why are we supporting the idea that dressing freely is immodest? That is our government — our money, in our secular democracy — in the service of misogyny. It’s not fashion forward. It is fashion backward, and plain grotesque.


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, January 29, 2018

Australia’s Workplace Relations System is Broken

Australia’s workplace relations system is broken — it is not optimally serving the interests of employees, employers, the public or our national economy.

The rail dispute in Sydney this week is an example of just one small part of the broader problem with a system that is no longer fit for purpose.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers initiated the legal case on Tuesday afternoon to stop the industrial action as we were concerned that no one else had, and time was running out. The Government joined in on Wednesday.

We, at Harmers Workplace Lawyers, took this legal action because we believe the industrial action by the unions was not in the public interest and was excessive. The community should not be exposed to enormous disruption and economic loss simply because two warring parties cannot agree.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers had legal standing in this dispute as, under the legislation, it was heavily impacted by the industrial action. More than 50% of our staff rely on trains to get to work. There would have been a considerable loss of revenue, cash flow and productivity to the firm if the strike went ahead.

We were justifiably concerned for the impact on many commuters and that many businesses across the State would be similarly affected to ours. We also genuinely apprehended that the industrial action was not legally protected, and that even the overtime bans would expose rail employees and their unions to class action style litigation for tens of millions of dollars. As concerned citizens we felt it incumbent upon us to attempt to stop all of those outcomes.

Rail unions and their members had been provoked by their employer and had legitimate bargaining issues to pursue. The only effective bargaining leverage the current system gave them was to threaten — and take — disruptive industrial action.

The implementation of overtime bans and the threat of a whole-day strike achieved its intended aim of prompting a better offer from the NSW Government. But the overtime ban caused misery for hundreds of thousands of Sydneysiders on Thursday. Monday’s strike would have caused too much harm to innocent bystanders and the economy. So the only option left was to seek legal orders stopping the industrial action.

An enterprise bargaining system reliant on such industrial action leverage is old-fashioned and inefficient.
The strike was not in the public interest.

Millions of workers do not have any such leverage — they have bills to pay, families to feed and skyrocketing expenses. They resolve their disputes directly with their employers without having the ability to disrupt the lives of millions. So, effective leverage is missing for employees at either end of the spectrum. Employers also crave a fair go in a system which lacks adequate flexibility.

There is a need for a reformed system which respects workplace rights, and the need for flexibility for workers, business and the public. That system should be built totally on the Australian notion of the fair go all round.

Such a system should redress the imbalance between employees and employers via an improved system of good faith bargaining, conciliation and fair-go-all-round arbitration — without flow on abuses and the excesses of the past.

We currently have totally different modes of legislation to address each of workplace relations, human rights and workplace health and safety — these should be streamlined into one integrated system.

We need to breathe new life into employee and employer representation — for without it access to justice in our country is an expensive farce.

The major political parties have got to stop playing politically-expedient football with the system — kicking partisan, outmoded models back and forth across the political spectrum.

There is a need for genuine national consultation on a middle path for our workplace relations system — which is currently in a politically frozen abyss.

That new system should provide a principled mooring respecting the rights and responsibilities of workers, business and the public interest and should not be built on political expediency.

I write these comments as we celebrate the Australia Day weekend as part of a genuine call for reform, and in an entirely personal capacity.


David Leyonhjelm attacks cultural awareness training as ‘racism’

Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm has accused the federal government of racism after the staff of all federal politicians were offered special “cultural awareness” training to help them interact with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Ministerial and parliamentary services employees were offered two hours’ training designed to provide “a better understanding of indigenous Australians in your workplace, social environments and the community in which you live and work”.

“Whether you are delivering services specifically to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, working with indigenous colleagues, working with the general public or you just want to increase your understanding about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people you live with, this course is of benefit to you,” an email to staff said.

The course includes an overview of indigenous Australian history; the modern impact; understanding common terms and indigenous culture; protocols, including awareness of sensitive issues affecting indigenous people, and indigenous people in today’s workplace.

Senator Leyonhjelm said although the training was not compulsory, he was opposed to the use of taxpayers’ money to deliver it. “It’s racist because it favours a particular race (indigenous Australians) over another race (all other Australian races),” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“It infers other Australians require training to become culturally aware of indigenous Australians, whereas we don’t require training to be aware of other cultures (Swedish barons, for example).”

He said such training was “misguided”. “I went to school with Aborigines and we mostly got on fine,” he said. “When people choose to be racists, cultural training won’t help.”

Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi said: “This kind of tokenistic fawning is symptomatic of the growing malaise relentlessly foisted upon us by the politically correct mafia.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the training was not compulsory.


Not sure whether the Senator referred to a Swedish barony above or whether a journalist inserted it. Leyonhjelm (Lion helmet) is a Swedish baronial title and the senator is of that ilk

Another contribution to Australia from China

Mathematical Excellence Recognised in Australia Day Honours

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) congratulates Eddie Woo, its members and supporters of the mathematical sciences community on their inclusion in the 2018 Australia Day Honours.

Professor Prince said it was gratifying to see members of the mathematical community acknowledged in this way.

“Policy shapers, innovators and role-models, these are individuals whose passion and leadership are causing ripples of change across the Australian mathematical pipeline,” he said.

Wootube founder and Head of Maths at Cherrybrook Technology High School, Eddie Woo, received the 2018 Australian Local Hero Award for his application of modern technology approaches in the classroom. The 2016 AMSI Choose Maths Excellence Award winner also delivered this year’s NSW Australia Day address.

Perhaps one of Australia’s most famous mathematics teachers, Woo is a true pioneer whose creativity and passion in the classroom has transformed student engagement and achievement. With over 160,000 followers, the impact of his work is felt globally.

“An outstanding educator and mathematics advocate, Eddie has made an indelible impact on Australian mathematics and is richly deserving of this recognition and the platform it provides to further their work,” he said.

Media release from

Canada wine war launched through WTO

The idea of Canadian wine does seem faintly amusing. One would think that Canada would be too cold for the growing of wine grapes.  But they do in fact grow 40% of their own wine consumption.  Their cold climate appears to have enabled them to grow one highly praised wine -- Eiswein (ice wine). Germany was for a long time the only supplier. 

Australia has launched formal ­action with the World Trade ­Organisation targeting Canada over a trade dispute involving Australian wine products, two months after Justin Trudeau snubbed Malcolm Turnbull and world leaders during crucial negotiations on a new Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

In a rare move, the Turnbull government initiated WTO ­dispute-settlement action against Canada following representations from Australian winemakers concerned about “protectionist” measures that threatened their ­lucrative export market.

The Australian can reveal that Trade Minister Steve Ciobo initiated the WTO proceedings after bilateral discussions with Canada broke down.

Australian wine sales to Canada, valued at almost $200 million, make it the fourth biggest market for the domestic export industry after China, the US and Britain.

Mr Ciobo said the Australian wine industry was a “big export earner” and “job creator”.

He ­described Canadian measures as discriminatory. “I want to make sure we stand up for our producers and not allow other countries to discriminate against us, costing us export income and ­potentially jobs,” he said. “Australia has requested formal WTO consultations on measures discriminating against Australian wine imports that we consider to be clearly inconsistent with Canada’s WTO commitments. Canada’s inconsistent measures include extra taxes, fees and mark-ups on imported wine, separate distribution channels reserved for Canadian wine and restricting sale of imported wine in grocery stores to a ‘store within a store’.”

Australia previously launched action with the WTO in 2003, successfully arguing that the ­EU had breached international trade rules. Mr Ciobo said WTO action ­ensured that the Australian wine industry would be protected.

“Canada’s wine market is worth approximately $7 billion,” he said. “These measures are ­impacting on Australia’s ability to better access this market.”

The Turnbull government’s pursuit of Canada through the WTO follows a souring in relations after Mr Trudeau was accused of derailing the rejuvenated TPP11 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Vietnam in November.

Mr Trudeau failed to attend a crucial leaders’ meeting despite an earlier agreement struck by the TPP11 trade ministers, including Canada’s representative, that settled on a “substantial conclusion”.

Following the snub, Australian officials described Mr Trudeau’s absence at the meeting as “shocking” and that the Canadians had “screwed everybody”. Winemakers Federation of Australia chief executive Tony Battaglene said Canada’s restrictions were having an impact on Australian exports.

Canadian provinces have adopted non-tariff measures with respect to the sale and marketing of wine that discriminate in favour of locally produced wines.

Mr Battaglene said there had been long-running issues over equal access to the Canadian ­market but the level of protections had “ramped up” over the past two years.

Mr Battaglene said there had been a lot of concern from producers that this would have an impact, “and we have started to see that. Having said that, we are seeing the Canadian market start to grow so we want to make sure we don’t stymie that growth by having these measures which will prevent our product growing.

“If it was just one or two things you wouldn’t be concerned but when there is a pattern that comes right across the country from the different provinces, it starts to paint a picture of how we can be severely impeded so we want to get on top of it before it becomes a real issue.”

Mr Battaglene said the most significant access issues involved banning foreign wine from being sold at grocery stores in British Columbia and extra sales taxes.

The Australian government yesterday reiterated that it supported a multilateral trading ­system and that WTO members should fully comply with their commitments. If the stand-off with Canada can’t be resolved through WTO consultations (the first stage in dispute settlement actions), Australia could request a WTO panel.

Canada last week launched separate WTO proceedings against the US as negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement continue to stall.

Mr Battaglene said the ­Australian government’s action with the WTO was critical amid those Canada-US trade ­negotiations.

“The US initiated World Trade Organisation action last year and as part of that they are also negotiating a settlement to NAFTA, and we were very concerned that they would get the same preferential access that Canadian producers did and that would be to the severe detriment of Australian producers,” Mr Battaglene said.

“Now we are launching our own action, we don’t have to worry about the US getting preferential access over us because we are actually in the box seat to ensure whatever comes out of it we get the best option.”


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, January 28, 2018

The six-class system: dispelling myths of an egalitarian Australia

The story below is based on one from Britain but is all fair enough. It is one way of scoring social prestige.  In my survey research on the subject in 1971, I found that the manual/non-manual division of employment was nearly as good as any in dividing people into classes but the most meaningful of all was where you saw yourself as belonging.

And any overall measure of class is clearly too broad for most uses.  Occupation, education, wealth and income are not all highly correlated so should on most occasions be considered separately.  People may, for instance be high class on income but low on education -- and vice versa.

And there is an elephant in the room in these studies: IQ.  Charles Murray famously showed two decades ago that IQ has big effects on life chances -- including being a good predictor of income.  So class studies should all consider IQ.  From what I see, I supect that IQ  divides people up more strongly than anything else.  What I see described as upper class or upper-middle class behaviours are ones I know as also being high IQ behaviours.  What is attributed to class may be nothing more than an IQ effect.  A prestigious person will usually be a very bright person, rock stars excepted, of course.

As just one instance of that, there is a huge literature on breast feeding and the clearest finding from that is that in modern Western society there is a very strong class division. Prestigious women breastfeed and working class women give it up early on.  So much so that an upper middle class mother who fails to breastfeed gets a lot of social opprobrium -- with  medical reasons  being her only acceptable excuse.

So it is not surprising to find in that large literature a study that made an attempt to look as comprehensively as possible at all the social predictors of breastfeeding.  The finding?

"The mother's IQ was more highly predictive of breastfeeding status than were her race, education, age, poverty status, smoking, the home environment, or the child's birth weight or birth order."

It was all IQ.  What looked like an effect of social class was in fact an effect of IQ.

And I think that is particularly so in Australia.  Australians do as a matter of belief ignore social class considerations. A person in humble employment will cheerfully strike up a  conversation with a professional person and get a civil reply.  It is only  when the professional starts to use words of high generality that the conversation stops.  His IQ strongly influences the words he uses and that can lead to a communication breakdown.  So it may be that in Australia IQ is the ONLY significant form of social stratification. What seem to be other forms are in fact simply side-effects of IQ level.

While most of us have an intuitive understanding of social class, we often struggle to define it beyond simple financial metrics, like how much money someone has in the bank.

The three-stratum model, which splits all of us into either the working, middle or upper class, is a mainstay of 20th century sociology.

It's a rigid structure, but a recent report out of the Australian National University posits a more nuanced approach to the way we define ourselves and where we sit on the social ladder.

The end result? Six social classes.

Australia might like to consider itself a classless society, but these new methods of social modelling tell a far more complicated story.

We're looking for Aussies to take part in a new RN show about class in Australia. Here's how to get involved.

Social and cultural capital

Jill Sheppard, who co-authored the report Class, Capital and Identity in Australian Society with Nicholas Biddle, says recent studies of social class, particularly in Australia, have been one-tracked.

"For example: do you have a blue-collar occupation or do you have a white-collar one? Do you do low-skilled manual labour or high-skilled manual labour?"

Dr Sheppard says this method, while easy to use and measure, ignores the more complex, social aspects of class.

As part of their research, Dr Sheppard and her team surveyed 1,200 randomly selected Australians, and asked them questions about their relative wealth, their pastimes, and the occupations of the people they regularly socialised with.

She says socialisation — what those around us think and feel — has long-lasting effects on how we manifest our class behaviour.

"What your parents did, where you're from, all these little things that leave little indelible marks along the way, … [they] are really hard to shake off," Dr Sheppard says.

The new, six-class model that the ANU report proposes, based on a similar study in the UK, takes these complexities into account by measuring, along with savings and income (your economic capital), two other metrics: social capital and cultural capital.

Cultural capital, Dr Sheppard explains, is broadly defined as how you spend your free time.  "If you have the night off or away from the kids, what do you do? Do you go to see a movie? Or do you go and see the theatre or do you sit at home and play on Facebook?" she asks.

The activities are tabulated along a scale of relative prestige and used as an indication of education, socio-political access and spending habits.

Similarly, social capital is measured by prestige — but it's also contrasted by variety.

"We ask subjects the kinds of people that they know from a range of occupations. That is, 'what sort of jobs do your friends and family have?'"

"We're working on the basis that there is a difference between people who only socialise with people who do the same things as them, and people that have a broad range of social contacts."

If you mostly socialise with people who do the same things as you and those things rank lower on the prestige hierarchy (looking at Facebook vs. going to the opera, for example), then your overall score will be lower.

The six classes

While Dr Sheppard accepts that no demographic study can account for all of society's complexities, she believes the resulting six classes are as close to accurately representative as possible — at least in Australia.

The precariat – Accounting for 13 per cent of the sample, the precariat comprises Australia's most poverty-affected citizens. They have the lowest mean household income, many are unemployed or claiming government aid and their social and cultural capital scores are the lowest.

Ageing workers – This class has the highest mean age of any of the classes (58 years) and counts for 14 per cent of the population. A large portion of this class are pensioned retirees and are the least likely, along with the precariat, to be engaged in gainful employment.

New workers – In contrast, almost half of all new workers, whose mean age is naturally younger, are employed fulltime. While the relative prestige of the occupations of people in this class is slightly lower than that of ageing workers, they are more financially successful and have better social and cultural capital scores over all.

Established middle – While reporting slightly lower fulltime employment rates compared with new workers, the established middle class "appear more entrenched and comfortable in their status than the new worker class." Due to more accumulated wealth, they also enjoy "greater advantages" overall than new workers.

Emerging affluent – The emerging affluent class reports higher income levels than the established middle but, interestingly, lower "wealth accumulation" (i.e. assets and savings).

Established affluent – The closest Australia has to an aristocracy, reporting the highest scores of social, economic and cultural capital of any class.

One of the most compelling aspects of the report's results, Dr Sheppard says, is the fact that the six classes seem to make intuitive and anecdotal sense.

The mythology

While we're starting to dismantle the idea that class is meaningless in Australia, we still like to think of ourselves as a society that's blind to these kinds of social divides.

"One problem is that lots of people have written really well about this issue in Australia," Dr Sheppard says.

"But they tend to be academics who don't have any incentive to make their work accessible — and while that work remains inaccessible, this sort of mythology can persist."

The idea of the Australian 'fair-go', and the notion that we're all egalitarian, is part of the mythos around Australian identity.

And Dr Sheppard believes this is, in part, related to a historical anti-British sentiment.

"We're like their rebellious daughter, who wants to kick back against everything we see in the United Kingdom," she says.

But it's not all bad news — there is one small thing in which Australians can take solace. "There is good evidence to suggest we aren't as socially hierarchical as England," Dr Sheppard says.


Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement reached to deliver more Australian jobs

This seems to be in line with what Mr. Trump asks: Namely, give and take from both sides

This a landmark deal for trade in our region. Australian businesses and farmers will now have more opportunities to export their food, fibre and services to more customers, more easily.

More trade means more export opportunities for local businesses, and more Australian jobs.

Overnight, 11 countries - Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - reached agreement on the final Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at an officials-level meeting in Tokyo, Japan.

It is expected the agreement will be signed in March in Chile.

This is a multi-billion-dollar win for Australian jobs. Australian workers, businesses, farmers and consumers will benefit.

The Government took a leadership role and worked hard to deliver the TPP because it will generate more Australian exports and create new Australian jobs.

The TPP will eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs in a trade zone with a combined GDP of $13.7 trillion. The agreement will deliver 18 new free trade agreements between the TPP parties. For Australia that means new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

In 2016-17, nearly one quarter of Australia’s total exports, worth nearly $88 billion, went to TPP countries. This will continue to grow thanks to the significant increase in market access the TPP gives Australian exporters.

Significant wins for Australian exporters under the TPP include:

Accelerated reductions in Japan’s import tariffs on beef, where Australian exports were worth $2 billion in 2015-16 - under TPP-11 even better access.

Elimination of a range of cheese tariffs into Japan covering more than $100 million of trade that was not covered by the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.

New quotas for wheat and rice to Japan, and for sugar into Japan, Canada and Mexico.

Elimination of all tariffs on sheep meat, cotton, wool, seafood, horticulture, wine and industrial products (manufactured goods).
Eleven separate deals - legally enforceable market access to all these countries.

Investment sets up strong legally enforceable commitments on the way countries regulate foreign investment.

Labor and Bill Shorten declared this trade agreement dead - they urged the Government to walk away. If Labor got their way, Bill Shorten would have shut Australia out of this historic agreement and denied our farmers, manufacturers, services providers and consumers the big wins the TPP delivers.

Unlike Labor, the Government will never give up on measures that create jobs for Australians.


Complaints soar over 'politically incorrect' Australia Day ads

Australia Day advertising campaigns are fraught with danger as society becomes more politically correct and complaints soar, say industry experts.

The Meat & Livestock Australia's lamb advertising campaign, which has been running for 14 years, has again been one of the most controversial Australia Day ads this year.

The lamb ad depicts a stand-off between the left and right in today's society trying to achieve "political correctness" in a dance battle. They eventually unite over a barbecue.

Meat & Livestock Australia has given the ad a Broadway musical makeover this year and, for the second time, does not mention the controversial date of Australia Day.

Swinburne University of Technology, advertising lecturer David Reid, said the 2018 lamb ad was an excellent campaign from a creative point of view but said it was always going to be controversial as it plays on stereotypes.

"Perhaps [brands could actually be looking for controversy as a way to boost sales,] but the agency and brand, Meat & Livestock Australia, understand there is a public debate and they are simply creatively interpreting that," Mr Reid said.

"They understand there is widespread public interest, they're not silly."


Why January 26 should be celebrated

James Paterson

Underlying the campaign to change the date of Australia Day is a barely-concealed hostility to the very existence of Australia as a modern western nation.

If you don’t believe January 26 is a milestone worth celebrating, you are really saying that the arrival of British settlers on that date, and the subsequent creation of modern Australia, is something to be regretted.

This hostility was on full display last week when the Greens leader declared Australia Day “a day that represents the beginning of an ongoing genocide.”

This is an extraordinary position for any Australian to hold, let alone the leader of a political party. It also displays a stunning complacency about how lucky we are to live in such a great country.

According to Di Natale, there’s no reason not to change the date of Australia Day: “We’ll continue to celebrate Australian music, we’ll continue to celebrate all the things that we do, have our barbecues, have our games of beach cricket, but we’ll be able to do it in a way that brings the country together.”

But January 26 wasn’t chosen as Australia Day because of the good weather. It wasn’t picked because it’s suitable for beach cricket and barbecues. Nor did the choice have anything to do with Australian music. January 26 is Australia Day because it marks the birth of our nation.

No one denies that indigenous communities have inhabited our island-continent for thousands of years prior to 1788. They have one of the world’s oldest cultures, which should be celebrated. But it was only with the arrival of the first fleet – and the introduction of a set of cultural and legal institutions with their own storied history – that modern Australia was born.

Without British settlement, Australia would never have inherited the institutions of parliamentary democracy and the common law. We would never have inherited the unique combination of ancient Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian religious traditions, which were forged and refined in the fires of the enlightenment to produce the core elements of western civilisation.

It is these institutions, and this cultural tradition, that has provided the foundation of modern Australia; enabling it to become one of the freest, most prosperous, and harmonious pluralistic societies that has ever existed. It’s why people from around the world have flocked to our shores for generations.

This is why January 26 should be celebrated. It is the genesis of our modern, diverse immigrant society.

There is no debate that indigenous Australians have often been horribly mistreated throughout Australian history. Denying this truth would be morally wrong. But we can acknowledge our imperfect history while also appreciating that it compares favourably to any other nation on earth. And we don’t need to ditch the anniversary of our foundational day to do so. Americans still celebrate their Independence Day on July 4 despite their nation’s own shortcomings in history.

By focusing on these harms at the exclusion of the overwhelming number of things that make Australia a great country, the advocates for changing the date betray their true feelings about the birth of modern Australia – that it was a historical wrong that should never have occurred. By implication, they are arguing that modern Australia should not exist.

The benefits that have come from the settlement of Australia far outweigh the injustices that have been committed.

On top of this implicit hostility to the British settlement of Australia is the lie that changing the date of Australia Day will improve the circumstances of indigenous Australians.

This claim has been powerfully refuted by Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who aptly declared that the Change the Date campaign “isn’t going to make any significant impact whatsoever on the ground for the most marginalised… It’s a complete copout and a pretend way to act like you actually care for Aboriginal people.”

She continued: “If people actually chose to march the streets in the numbers that they do for changing the date but for the victims of family violence towards Aboriginal women and children, we might get around to solving those issues and doing it together.”

January 26 is Australia Day because it marks the birth of Australia as a modern western nation. Not everything about Australia’s history is worth celebrating. But January 26 is the genesis of all the good things, as well as the bad. And the moral ledger is overwhelmingly in the positive.

The only reason to change the date is if you think the European settlement of Australia is not worth celebrating. And if you believe that then you don’t really believe in Australia.


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, January 26, 2018

‘What the hell gives Islamic people the right to tell us what to do’: One-eyed truck driver slams Australia Day video

One-eyed truck driver Trevor Vale has already made waves with his controversial stance on race, religion and bullying.

He has previously blasted the Sudanese mother of a jailed gang member, slammed Australian police, and attempted to raise awareness about online bullying.

But this time it’s Australia Day and a video posted by a group of Arabic-speaking people that has outraged the Aussie truck driver.

In a video posted on Facebook, he slammed the group for calling for the date of Australia Day to be changed.

In the video, which is mostly in Arabic, the woman says Australia Day marks ‘the murder and rape’ of Indigenous men, women and children and that the date should be changed.

The group believe that Australia Day is not a day to celebrate but one to be mourned.

Ending the video after a series of emotional pleas, the last woman featured shares a strong message of hopeful change.

'Make sure this invasion day you stand with the owners of the lands you are on.'

Vale responded, saying Australia day is accepted by most people in this country and that the 'Islamic group' has no right to offer their opinion otherwise.

'If you don’t like the way we do things in this country, you can go home to your own country.'

‘What the hell gives Islamic people the right to tell us what to do,’ Vale said.

'A majority are going to celebrate Australia Day tomorrow on the 26th of January and that's where it should b***** well stay' he said.


One Nation's Pauline Hanson says families of immigrants who break the law should be deported along with those committing the crimes

Relatives of immigrants who commit serious crimes on Australian soil would face deportation along with their offending family members in a scheme to be proposed by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.

The controversial policy would aim to 'stabilise the country's population' while working to weed out criminal migrants, Daily Telegraph reports.

In a move to achieve 'zero net immigration', migrants who 'choose to engage in anti-social, criminal behaviours' would not be allowed citizenship.

Senator Hanson said 'under certain circumstances' family members of extreme offending immigrants would also face deportation.

'It is high time parents start taking more responsibility for the actions of their children,' she said.

'More must be done to create strict laws and regulations that protect our national security and reduce the risk of terrorism and radicalisation.'

Also on her hit list heading into federal parliament for 2018 was a 'use it or lose it' policy for gas companies and a reform of the family law system.

She wants an end to gas companies sitting on offshore gas reserves who aren't producing anything.

'It's a fact that the Federal Government has granted 31 retention licences for offshore areas which contain more gas than we'd know what to do with,' Senator Hanson said.

'None of these licences have gone to production phase, with some multinational companies having sat on these reserves for the past 30 years.'

She said domestic violence, child support, parental equality and alack of judges in the family court were also among her top priorities.

A focus on water security also ranked high on her list, along with protecting valuable agricultural land from foreign corporations.

'This is an issue that is of particular interest to Queensland. I want to see a focus on ensuring water security for prime agriculture land by investing more in infrastructure like dams.

'It's disgraceful that we have a system now that incentivises multinational corporations to trade water for profit, with no regard for what is best for the long-term future of Australia's regional farming communities.'


Big talk, big cost, big battery but small result

On 1 December last, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill flipped the on switch for the giant lithium-ion battery at Jamestown and this facility went online.

It was a huge celebration all round for the South Australian Government which is facing what promises to be a very difficult election and the US company Tesla which constructed and installed the battery – well, actually, lots of smaller batteries – known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve.

The Reserve is designed to store 129 megawatt hours of power for use at times of acute shortage and is supposed to provide 30,000 South Australian homes power for more than an hour in the event of a failure. For the record, the 2016 Census reported that South Australia had 767,267 dwellings. Even the battery facility’s loudest champions can’t escape the unfortunate fact that a very small number of homes could only be supplied for a very short time if the facility was working at peak efficiency.

Premier Weatherill must be hoping that these lucky 30,000 homes are strategically scattered among Labor’s marginal seats.

The facility is linked to a wind farm owned and operated by French firm Neoen. Power produced there is sent to the battery facility and stored for future use.

Australia generally and South Australia in particular have been treated to a masterful public relations blitz by Tesla’s US boss Elon Musk who has long shown a remarkable ability to con money from governments and the public when both have been dazzled by his non-stop self promotion.

Typical of his behaviour was the extravagant bet that he would have the battery facility up and running within one hundred days of the contracts being signed or, he solemnly promised, it would be free. Other companies who tender for projects and then sign contracts for fixed-price projects within a required time do so quietly as a matter of course and don’t feel the need to shout about bets and gambles. They know what their contract requires and they do it or suffer penalties – just like Mr Musk’s contractual obligation. But the “bet” was good PR and everybody – including the South Australian Government lapped it up. And guess what? Mr Musk won his bet. What a surprise!

However, when very hot weather struck southern Australia in January, the battery facility proved to be seriously wanting.

On the two January days of highest temperatures, the wind was blowing so little in South Australia that it was only producing about 6.5 per cent of its capacity. South Australia was relying on Victoria for 31 per cent of its power, 23 per cent of which was provided by hydro-electricity.

According an Institute of Public Affairs analysis, wind contributed only 3.5 per cent of national energy generation on the second day of highest temperatures.

The South Australian Government has refused to say what this battery facility cost although it is generally accepted to be at least $50 million. The mere matter of taxpayers’ money is nothing compared to what Premier Weatherill calls “history in the making”.


'It does not make me racist to ask you a question!' Tense moment broadcaster Neil Mitchell clashes with 'Invasion Day' protester live on air

An Invasion Day protester has accused broadcaster Neil Mitchell of being a racist during an awkward interview on live radio.

An executive of the state-funded Koorie Youth Council, appeared on 3AW radio on Tuesday to promote an 'Invasion Day' protest planned in Melbourne's centre on Friday.

The tension kicked off when Mitchell asked his guest, Tarnee Onus-Williams, if her protest group would cooperate with the police or council to minimise disruption.

'Yeah look, we are asserting our sovereign right to walk on our country because we are sovereign people to this land. At the moment we're not organising with police,' Ms Onus-Williams said.

'So people can do things the way they like, and we like to do things we like to do.'

Mitchell asked Ms Onus-Williams if that meant she ignored 'white man's law'.

'On that basis you can say the aboriginal people can do whatever they like and just ignore the law of the land,' he said.

Ms Onus-Williams replied saying 'we have a law of the land already, we do hold our values strong to our heart'.

Mitchell went on to question Ms Onus-Williams about the state-funded Koorie Youth Council, on which she was an executive.

'The Koorie Youth Council is actively promoting the rally and Invasion Day line on its Facebook page, it's urging people to be involved, it's promoting it. This is a state-funded organisation that in a sense is using public money to promote an Invasion Day rally,' he said. 'Is that legitimate use of public money?'

Ms Onus-Williams refused to answer the questions, saying she had 'no comment'. 'I don't want to. I have free speech, I don't have to answer a question,' she said.

The young aboriginal executive told Mitchell she was on his show to talk about the Invasion Day protest and refused to answer his questions about state funding.

She went on to tell Mitchell about the rally, before she was cut off by the broadcaster. 'We've been protesting for 80 years this year, 80 years ago they held a conference protesting the treatment of aboriginal people in this country,' she said.

She said the rally was protesting the abolition of Australia Day, not just pushing for the date to be moved. 

Mitchell cut in saying: 'you're happy to interview yourself, but that's not the way it works'.

The interview descended into chaos when Ms Onus-Williams said she would not 'take orders' from Mitchell. 'I won't take orders from a radio host on a racist radio channel,' she said.

A shocked Mitchell said, 'did you just call me a racist?' to which Ms Onus-Williams replied, 'Yes, I called you a racist'.

'You're questioning my legitimacy as a sovereign person of this land,' she said.

Mitchell told her he was offended by the accusation, saying it was 'ugly to throw around the word racist'.

'I'm questioning you not because you're black or yellow or white, but because you're in a position organising a rally which is significant to this town around a significant issue which is the future of Australia Day,' he said.

'It does not make me racist to ask you a bloody question and to call me a racist is damn offensive.

'Please please please don't assume that questioning equates with racism, that really is quite offensive intellectually and morally.'

Ms Onus-Williams told Mitchell to 'settle down' because he was 'going on a bit of a rampage'.

She went on to tell Mitchell he should 'get more comfortable' with being called a racist.

'You're not being very nice to me this morning, you're being quite rude,' she said.

The pair parted ways amiably, with Mitchell thanking Ms Onus-Williams for appearing on his show ahead of the Australia Day protest. 


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, January 25, 2018

African Gang Violence: Don't Look at Us Says Top Cop

Victoria’s top cop says people are “looking in the wrong direction” if they expect police to clean up the Melbourne’s gang problem.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, who returned from leave this month to a politically charged debate on a spate of crimes linked to African youths, spoke this morning as a caller to radio station 3AW asked why police could not solve the gangs issue and protect Melburnians scared in their homes.

“If you’re looking for police to put it to bed, you’re looking in the wrong direction,” Mr Ashton replied.

“We’re locking ‘em up as many as we can … We’re responding more quickly than we’ve ever responded, we’re making more arrests than we’ve ever made in total so we’re doing plenty about it but you’re talking about bigger social issues than police (can) solve.

“Generally the social conditions that we’ve got out there are such that young people are out there looking for trouble.”

Mr Ashton spoke as police issued CCTV images of young women of African appearance, who are being sought in relation to two separate attacks on women travelling in an apartment building elevator.

A 24-year-old woman in the lift at a Southbank building was assaulted by the group when she tried to get onto her floor around 3.30am on New Year’s Day.

Police believe the same group attacked two other women in the lift about 2am the next morning.

Mr Ashton said the summer period had been a busy time for youth offending, with groups brought together through social media.

“We’ve certainly had a lot of young Africans, Australian kids offending as well (as) Islander kids, a lot of indigenous kids we’re getting as well,” he said.

He said he had visited the Ecoville estate in Tarneit — which has been trashed by thugs who use it as an informal hang out for drinking and troublemaking — twice last week, though not at night.

“I was a bit saddened,” he said. “When you go around areas like that Ecoville, everyone’s got their blinds drawn and their curtains pulled. “It was really noticeable to me … It just seemed like it was a bad way for people to be living.”

Mr Ashton also expressed support for tougher sentencing, saying police members were “very frustrated” by the level of repeat offenders.

Asked if he supported statutory minimum sentences, as proposed by the state Opposition for some serious crimes, he said: “In some cases I think we’ve got to send a message.”

“There’s a core of offenders that just offend and when they’re not inside in custody in the corrections system, they’re out there offending,” he said.


More than 70% of Aussies don't want the date of Australia Day changed because they believe the country should be proud of its history

Mr Turnbull speaks for his people

More than 70 per cent of Australians do not want the date of Australia Day to change, according to a Institute of Public Affairs survey.

Out of 1,000 polled, only 23 per cent of people said council celebrations and citizenship ceremonies should be shifted to an alternative date.

About 50 per cent of people said they did not agree with some councils' decision to move the date and 76 per cent said they believe the country should be proud of its history.

Around 11 per cent of people said Australia does not have a history to be proud of.

A massive majority of 87 per cent said they were proud to be Australian.  

'It is encouraging that Australians overwhelmingly reject the negative rhetoric about our nation's history continually pushed by many on the left,' IPA foundations of Western civilisation program director Bella d’Abreras said.

'This is evidence that Australians both value and understand British institutions such as liberal democracy and the rule of law which have made Australia the successful nation that it is today.'


'They're getting a soft touch because they aren't citizens'

Peter Dutton claims courts are handing foreigners light sentences to avoid deporting them

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has accused the Australian court system of going easy on foreign-born criminals so they aren't deported to their home countries.

He said 'soft pedaling' was becoming an all too familiar theme in their sentencing, with judges opting to dish out lighter penalties to keep them on Australian soil.

The country's tough laws demand foreign offenders be deported if they are sentenced to a year or more in jail.

But Mr Dutton claims the courts have been purposely refraining from imposing such penalties.

His accusation comes as several high profile cases have seen foreign-born criminals walk away with suspended sentences or probation, making them free to stay in the country. 'Some people are getting a soft touch because they are not citizens of this country,' he said.

Mr Dutton said across the board something had to change in order for community expectations surrounding sentencing to be met.

'If magistrates are imposing softer sentences because they're worried about somebody being eligible to be deported then that really undermines public confidence in the judiciary and it needs to stop,' he said.

Criminal lawyer Bill Potts slammed Mr Dutton's comments, arguing in favour of the country's justice system.

'It's not appropriate for ordinary people in the street to suddenly think that because a minister is criticising the courts, that somehow the system of justice does not work,' he said.


Vic Libs pledge school curriculum overhaul

Schoolkids should be taught Australian values and "the principles of Western enlightenment" in a simplified curriculum, Victoria's coalition opposition says.

School kids will focus more on reading, writing and maths instead of learning "a politically correct gender and sexuality agenda" if the Victorian opposition wins power.

The opposition also plans to scrap cross-curriculum priorities afforded to Indigenous history, Asian engagement and sustainability, and place a greater emphasis on "the principles of Western enlightenment" if it wins the November state election.

A coalition government would ask senior research fellow with the right-leaning Centre for Independent Studies, Dr Jennifer Buckingham, to review the curriculum.

"Foundational events that occurred in Europe and North America before 1788 that underpin our national and state institutions are barely spoken of," the coalition's School Education Values Statement released on Wednesday said.

"Concepts like the inherent dignity of the individual, religious tolerance, the principles of the Western enlightenment - such as freedom of speech, equality before the law and government by consent.

"Of course, there are aspects of this nation's history we are not proud of, particularly the shameful treatment of the Indigenous peoples, and that must be taught in depth as well."

Opposition education spokesman Tim Smith said the current curriculum was "over-cluttered" while literacy and numeracy standards were dropping.

He also said young people were leaving school without an adequate understanding of how democracy worked.

"I wouldn't call it (the current curriculum) un-Australian, I just think that ... the working knowledge of our democracy should be improved," Mr Smith told reporters.

The opposition also wants to scrap the Safe Schools program designed to reduce bullying of LGBTI students, and replace it with an anti-bullying program particularly focused on cyber-bullying.

"Programs like Safe Schools add to curriculum clutter and impose a politically correct gender and sexuality agenda on schools," the statement says.

Premier Daniel Andrews is a long-time defender of Safe Schools and told journalists Victorian students were already being taught Australian values.

He said the Liberals cut education funding when they were in power.


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, January 24, 2018

Australia’s inequality crisis: Oxfam paper

Who said it is a crisis?  The world's most favoured nations where living standards are at their highest all have substantial inequality.  You ALWAYS have inequality.  Even the old Soviet Union had its nomenklatura.  You lift people up by working to increase economic efficiency, not by red-eyed envy of others. 

What we read below is just one big paroxysm of hate for those who have done well.  In the usual Leftist way, it is totally one sided, with no mention of the vast amount of tax that rich people pay or their many philanthropic activities.  Mentioning that would undermine the hate. 

Nor is there any mention of how people got rich -- usually by providing a new service or an improvement to existing services.  The fact that very rich people keep emerging in Australia simply shows that Australia is a land of opportunity with few barriers to improved economic activity for those who have realistic business ideas and the energy to implement them

Oxfam seems to put out "reports" such as the one below annually.  There was a very similar one at the beginning of last year. Oxfam was founded to help the poor but it now seems to be obsessed with the rich

The head of Oxfam in Australia is Helen Szoke, whose surname seems to have been taken from her Czechoslovakian adoptive parents. She had a rather distressed childhood, which probably had some role in making her a lifelong far-Leftist. You will, for instance, not see her telling anybody that Life is getting much, much better for the world's poor, however you want to measure it – whether it's in terms of average incomes, life expectancy, child mortality, disease, poverty, or women's rights.  Leftists don't want to know about all that. They feed on grievance

She is a former head of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. Her determinations there always seemed perverse, although carefully put.

A record number of Australian billionaires amassed an astonishing $38 billion increase in their wealth last financial year – enough money to pay for more than half of Federal public health spending, an Oxfam Australia briefing paper has revealed.

The briefing paper, Growing Gulf Between Work and Wealth, shows the number of Australian billionaires increased by eight to 33 last year – and has more than doubled over the past 10 years – while workers’ wages have stagnated.

Released as the world’s political and business leaders gather this week in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, the Oxfam analysis shows inequality in Australia is higher than at any time over the past two decades. The share of wealth held by the richest one per cent continues to rise, while wage growth for ordinary workers has slowed to record lows – barely keeping up with the cost of living.

“Oxfam is committed to tackling poverty and inequality – but a broken economic system that is concentrating more wealth in the hands of the rich and powerful, while ordinary people struggle to scrape by, is fuelling an inequality crisis,” Dr Szoke said.

“Over the decade since the Global Financial Crisis, the wealth of Australian billionaires has increased by almost 140 per cent to a total of $115.4 billion last year. Yet over the same time, the average wages of ordinary Australians have increased by just 36 per cent and average household wealth grew by 12 per cent.

“The richest one per cent of Australians continue to own more wealth than the bottom 70 per cent of Australians combined. While everyday Australians are struggling more and more to get by, the wealthiest groups have grown richer and richer.”

The Oxfam paper also highlights that the system is broken for workers in Australian global supply chains – trapping people in poverty, no matter how hard they work.

“This economic injustice is nowhere more apparent than in the clothing industry, where the people – mainly women – making clothes for household Australian brands are often paid poverty wages,” Dr Szoke said.

“A handful of the highest paid chief executives in the Australian clothing retail sector earn, on average, about $6 million a year. At the same time, many women working in Bangladesh to make the clothes sold by these brands take home a minimum wage of AUD $974 a year.

“Garment workers earning this minimum wage in Bangladesh – which falls far short of a living wage to cover the basics – would have to work more than 10,000 years to make the same amount that one of the highest paid Australian fashion retail CEOs made in 2017.”

Dr Szoke said to tackle the top end of this inequality crisis, the Federal Government must end cuts to corporate taxes and introduce tougher tax transparency laws that require companies to publicly report on income, profits and taxes for every country in which they operate.

To address the other extreme of the economic divide, Dr Szoke said Australian companies should commit to ensuring at least a living wage to workers in their supply chains – and to publishing a step-by-step strategy outlining how this would be achieved.

“Hard work is no longer a guarantee for a better life – the system is clearly not working for a majority of people,” Dr Szoke said. “The Federal Government and Australian companies cannot ignore this inequality crisis and must act to curtail the widening gulf between the super-rich and ordinary workers.”

Media release received via email

Australian success story offers no scope for contrition or cringe

We must beware of employing the “slippery slope” argument, particularly when critiquing the slippery policies of the Greens. It is tempting, nonetheless, to imagine that abolishing Australia Day won’t be the end of the matter but merely a step towards the abolition of Australia itself.

Since Greens leader Richard Di Natale confidently predicts we’ll be rid of Australia Day within a decade, we might well be heading for a constitutional referendum on national self-abolishment by 2028.

The push to abolish Australia is not popular, yet its advocates are noisy, resourceful and driven by an irrepressible desire for change for its own sake. Like supporters of a republic, they are largely people who have been to university, where an intellectualised intolerance to patriotism thrives. These are denaturalised intellectuals, the group identified by ­Arthur Angell Phillips in 1958 in The Australian Tradition as the ­unhappy victims of the cultural cringe, isolated and alienated from their own country.

Their thinking is clouded by the unsavoury ­interpretation of the Australian story that pervades history faculties and seeps out through other branches of the ­humanities, as the work of the ­Institute of Public ­Affairs’ Bella d’Abrera revealed last year.

The academic class has become obsessed with what divides Australia, rather than what unites us. D’Abrera’s analysis of the titles and descriptions of 746 subjects found a proliferation of the words “indigenous”, “race”, “gender”, “envir­onment”, “identity” and “sex­uality”, which appeared far more frequently than “Enlightenment” or “the Reformation”.

The dispiriting effect of identity politics is made worse by the stigmatising of dissenting thinkers as bad and immoral. Universities are deprived of the benefits of checking truth against error, one of the great benefits of the principle of free speech articulated by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty .

“All silencing of discussion,” wrote Mill, “is an assumption of ­infallibility.”

Paradoxically, the deracinated, denationalised intellectual class ranks inclusiveness high among its virtues. It presumes to see the world in a clearer light, considering itself above the chubby, chuckleheaded masses who attach the national flag to their Holdens each year and believe, in the ­immortal words of Barry McKenzie, that they live in “the greatest living country in the world, no risk”.

The new cultural cringers have little conception of Australia’s ­exceptional history or understanding of the importance of the timing and nature of British settlement. Since we had the good fortune to be settled after the Enlightenment, there were no witch trials in Australia, where rationalism reigned. There was a conscious rejection of slavery and a commitment to penal reform that defies Robert Hughes’s depiction of the Fatal Shore.

The trite, anti-colonial narrative of theft and oppression fits poorly around the Australian story; the most grievous acts of oppression occurred beyond the boundaries of the law, an important distinction seldom acknowledged. Violence and theft were, for the most part, unendorsed by the state.

There is nothing in Australia’s history to match, for example, the 1879 incident known as the Conquest of the Desert in Argentina when General Julio Roca led 6000 troops in five columns armed with repeating rifles to seize possession of the Rio Negro, rounding up ­Indians to be apportioned as servants or labourers to an elite band of colonialists who took control of large ranches.

Australian farms were middle-class settlements, made fertile in individual ingenuity and perseverance. Argentina and Australia were ranked equal for their economic potential a little more than a century ago. But middle-class energy, personal and economic liberty and inherited ­institutions under the rule of law proved a more successful model of progress than cronyism, protectionism and patronage. Today Australia far outranks Argentina for wealth, agricultural exports, small business, education and ­income equality.

To talk of Australia as a successful nation, an exemplar of progress, is to do nothing more than state facts. The defamatory claim that Australia was founded on genocide and theft, a falsehood in which we marinate our schoolchildren, softening them for the dreary courses they take at university, is far more dangerous than we imagine.

For Europeans, colonialism is just a middle-ranking sin, writes Douglas Murray in The Strange Death of Europe. For Australians, however, it has become their original sin. The narrative of guilt has moved from the margins of public debate to the core, he argues. “Strangely this narrative of guilt seems actually desired and welcomed by Australian society,” he writes. The world’s impression of Australia and the country’s self-­regard has palpably changed “from a generally sunny and optimistic place to one that has ­become darker, not to mention mawkish, about its past”.

Mass displays of plastic hands in Aboriginal colours on the lawns of parliament, the signing of Sorry books and grand symbolic nat­ional apologies are symptoms of a mania, says Murray. The political class mistakenly assumes its statements of regret are cost-free. Yet we may pay dearly for the erosion of national confidence in a competitive world. “If Australia is forever opening up and apologising for its own past while China ­remains silent, the impression may be instilled, in children in Australia as much as elsewhere, that Australia is the country for more to apologise for.”

Such observations from abroad deserve to be taken seriously, particularly in the context of a book that mourns the loss in cultural confidence across Europe, the erosion of shared values and the weakening of the social fabric.

In 1958, when Phillips wrote his seminal essay on the Australian cultural cringe, those who displayed it were to be pitied or mocked. It is harder to laugh at Murray’s update or dismiss the discomfort with nationalism as a harmless quirk. Phillips’ antidote holds good, though: Australians must develop “the art of being ­unselfconsciously ourselves”.

“The Cringe is a worse enemy to our cultural development than our isolation,” he concludes. “The opposite of the Cringe is not Strut, but a relaxed erectness of carriage.”


Unemployment among Australian university graduates

The article below by Cat Moir is generally sensible even though it is from a strongly Leftist source. In the last of her words below she sees a paradox that is not, however. It is a widely held view that all speech should be free except speech that promotes violence. And it is pretty clear that Muslim teaching leads in the direction of violence. Jihad is not a Presbyterian idea and the Middle East is hardly an oasis of peace. So careful oversight of Muslim speech is warranted caution

On 8 January, Quality Indicators for Teaching and Learning (QILT) published the results of the 2017 Employer Satisfaction Survey. The survey stated that 84% of employers were satisfied overall with the skills of the university graduates they employed, with 93% saying that the graduates they employed were prepared ‘very well’, or ‘well’ for their current employment.

Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham released a statement on the survey, saying that these results were encouraging because they allow students to compare how courses “are viewed by their prospective employers as part of a clearer picture of our higher education system”. According to Senator Birmingham, the survey will allow students to make better decisions “when considering the courses and careers they choose to embark on”.

However, as QILT’s Graduate Outcomes Survey also makes clear, whatever path they embark on, up to 38% of graduates leaving Australian universities today will not find full-time work. According to that data, the last decade has seen a rise of 17% in the number of university leavers in part-time employment.

In response to these figures, Senator Birmingham demands “more accountability of universities for the students they take on”. He insists that universities must “take responsibility” for the outcomes of their graduates.

One might be tempted to argue at this juncture that universities are not just employability factories, but rather spaces for intellectual enquiry, self-discovery, and collective endeavour. Whatever their remit, though, no university would dispute that HE institutions must do everything in their power to provide students with the best possible standard of education, encouragement, and support.

But even if we conceive of the role of universities only in narrow economic terms, the implication that what happens within their walls can or should somehow guarantee the outcomes of students once they leave the campus and enter an increasingly volatile and precarious global labour market is false.

As the GOS makes clear, one of the main causes of the increase in part-time graduate work was the GFC in 2008: a less stable global labour market, combined with an influx of increasingly highly-qualified young people, makes it more difficult to get a job.

The paradox here, if you hadn’t already guessed, is that if the point of universities is supposed to be to produce employable graduates, then there have to be jobs in which these graduates can be employed. But that is not something for which universities can be held responsible.

In the UK, the universities sector has confronted both a type-1 and a type-2 paradox this last week. Since they’re related, let’s group them together as the ‘freedom of speech paradox’.

The UK government has recently established a new Office for Students, a regulatory body that merges HEFCE and the Office for Fair Access. It has extensive powers: it will administer university funding, degree award powers, university title, the Teaching and Research Excellence Frameworks for measuring academic performance, and fair access to higher education.

It will also be responsible for ensuring that universities allow freedom of speech for controversial guest speakers.

The freedom of speech issue is familiar here in Australia: it has to do with universities no-platforming figures who publicly espouse violently racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise discriminatory views.

The argument of no-platforming advocates is that ‘free speech’ is so often used as a cover by those whose right to speak has historically been protected (more or less well off white men) to incite hatred and even violence towards those whose right to speak has historically not enjoyed the same protection: women, people of colour, gender non-binary people, the poor.

Whatever stance one takes on the no-platforming issue, it seems to be irreconcilable with the OfS’ other duty: to enforce the government’s Prevent strategy, which is designed to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism by — among other things — monitoring the potential presence of extremist views on campus.

The OfS is therefore in the (type-1) paradoxical situation of having to say that universities must protect the freedom of controversial figures to speak on campus… except if they’re a radical Islamist, in which case they will be no-platformed after all.


Genetic modification laws set for shake-up, with health and agriculture research industries to benefit

Australia is set to reform how it regulates new genetic engineering techniques, which experts say will help to dramatically speed up health and agriculture research.

The changes will enable agricultural scientists to breed higher yielding crops faster and cheaper, or ones resistant to drought and disease.

Australia's gene technology regulator Raj Bhula has proposed reducing regulations around gene editing techniques such as CRISPR, following a 12 month technical review into the current regulations.

The most radical change put forward by the regulator is that some of the more efficient and newer genetic technologies, known as gene editing, would not be considered "genetic modification".

"With gene editing you don't always have to use genetic material from another organism, it is just editing the [existing] material within the organism," Dr Bhula said.

"All of our regulatory frameworks and laws have been established based on people putting unrelated genetic material into another organism.

"Whereas this process is just manipulation within the organism and not introducing anything foreign."

Case for deregulation when there is no risk
Under current legislation, a genetically modified organism (GMO) is broadly defined as an organism that has been modified by gene technology, and is subject to heavy regulation.

Genetically modified crops have been available for decades and some are already widely used in Australian agriculture, particularly cotton and canola.

GM cotton varieties, such as BT cotton, use the DNA from a common soil bacterium to repel insects.

Dr Bhula said the newer technologies, rather than inserting a foreign gene, involve editing an existing gene to speed up the development of an organism that would usually happen over time.

"If these technologies lead to outcomes no different to the processes people have been using for thousands of years, then there is no need to regulate them, because of their safe history of use," she said.

"If there is no risk case to be made when using these new technologies, in terms of impact on human health and safety for the environment, then there is a case for deregulation."

If approved, the reforms will have wide ranging benefits for agriculture research, and could speed up the research and commercialisation of disease, salt or drought-resistant crops, or high yielding varieties.

The changes are currently open for consultation, and will ultimately need to be signed off by Commonwealth and state and territory governments, and passed in federal Parliament.


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