Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Made In Indonesia: ‘Aboriginal Art’ Company Lands In Federal Court Over Alleged Misleading Conduct

I am one of those dreadful people who think most "art" is BS.  So I am rather amused by this. 

A whole lot of "art" is bought for things other than its appearance.  When a famous painting is shown to be a fake, its value drops to about 1% of what it was.  Yet the painting remains the same. Which shows that the previous buyers were buying the thing for the name on it, not its appearance. They bought it for essentially snobbish reasons.  They can't say they bought it "just because they liked the look of it".  If they really did like the look of it, they could just as well have bought a quality print. And it may be that they didn't like the look of it at all.

So in the case below many buyers would have been snobs who were deliberately ripped off.  They bought it for its origins, not its appearance. But I am not too sorry for them. They got what they saw. Those who bought it for its looks however, lost nothing. Its looks remain unchanged

With a highly distinctive ‘Aboriginal art’ style , you’ve probably seen Birubi products in tourist shops all over the country. Everything from ‘hand-made’ and ‘hand-painted’ boomerangs and didgeridoos, to bull roarers and even drink coasters.

And you probably thought Aboriginal artists were behind them.

Today, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced it’s launching Federal Court action against the company behind the brand – Birubi Art Pty Ltd (Birubi) – alleging it spent years making misleading claims about Aboriginal art.

Between July 2014 and November 2017, Birubi allegedly “contravened the Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading representations that some of its products were made in Australia and/or that Aboriginal people had made or hand painted them, when in fact they were made in Indonesia”.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said the products displayed a combination of words and artwork including ‘hand painted’, ‘handcrafted’, ‘Aboriginal Art’, and ‘Australia’.

“We allege that Birubi’s conduct is damaging as it is likely to mislead consumers into thinking they are buying genuine handmade Aboriginal art when they are not. This has the potential to undermine the integrity of Aboriginal art and negatively impact Indigenous artists, including by undervaluing their authentic works,” Commissioner Court said in a written statement.

“We allege that over 18,000 of these Birubi products were sold to retail shops in key tourist spots around the country.

“In the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month, with tens of thousands of tourists visiting Australia, this action by the ACCC is a timely reminder to traders to ensure that products they are selling as Indigenous cultural objects or art are authentic.”

The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, injunctions, corrective notices, compliance program orders, and costs.

Ironically, Birubi claims to be a “proud licensed supplier of many items featuring the copyright Aboriginal Flag image designed by Mr Harold Thomas”.

The website adds: “So please, when purchasing Aboriginal flag items, ensure they are authentic licensed products….”


Women in Men’s Sheds

Bettina Arndt

Women are everywhere now. We've forced our way into all the workplaces, into the army’s fighting forces, into all men’s organisations, into the pubs. Everywhere you look there are women.

But there was one place that men were safe and that was in men's sheds. Traditionally in Australia many men had sheds up in their backyard where they could retreat to do their own thing. It led to a Men's Shed movement across Australia – over 1000 sheds now, particularly attracting older, retired men who come together and support each other. A vital mental health measure given that these older men are the group most at risk of suicide in the country.

But guess what? Women are pushing our way into the sheds too. There are sheds across the country coming under pressure to allow women members and amazingly some have caved in. I recently spent a few days talking to men in sheds for a YouTube video, finding out what’s going on here.

It turns out women are being allowed in the door due to a bunch of virtue-signalling men who willingly sell out other males in order to win brownie points from the ladies. They don’t believe in what men’s sheds are supposed to be all about – that special male companionship that comes from men doing things together, working on projects and enjoying banter and secret men’s talk. They don’t believe men are more likely to share their problems when with other men who get where they are coming from, who know what it’s like to face a broken marriage or prostate cancer.

There’s a good bloke up at Kur-ring-gai called Kevin Callinan who is chairman of the peak body representing men’s sheds, The Australian Men’s Sheds Association. He worked for seven years to set up his local shed but Kevin comes from a background in equity in the workplace. He believes in “inclusiveness” and hence calls his thriving shed simply “The Shed” and women are welcome.

Kevin is a man who doesn’t believe there's anything special about male culture. “There is to a certain extent but it’s not the be all and end all. I would more prefer a broader mix of society.” When asked whether it changes male culture to include women he said. “It does change male culture - for the good.”

Yet you hear something very different if you talk to most blokes in the Men’s Sheds movement.

“What do you think of women in men’s sheds?” I asked a man from the Kincumber Shed, on the NSW Central Coast. “Ugly!” was his response.  

“If women ever came into this shed I would be out the door,” said another.

Many believe the men allowing women into their sheds for cosy “inclusive” little craft sessions are selling out other men – and they are part of a far bigger problem.

There are many men in leadership positions see it in their interests to brown-nose to the ladies rather than stick up for men. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lies about women’s role in family violence blaming the whole problem on men. Men running corporations, our bureaucracies are falling over themselves to institute policies favouring women. Our laws are tilted to favour women victims. The men running our universities promote a fake rape crisis and ignore the increasingly failure rates for male students. And so it goes on.

Men involved in the Men’s Shed movement need to take action to protect these male sanctuaries that enrich the spirit and even save the lives of some men. Come on men – grow a pair and stand up for men! 

Via email from Bettina bettina@bettinaarndt.com.au

Cutting company tax and red tape are key to jobs and wage growth

On the surface, Australia's economy is performing well. Gross domestic product grew by a healthy 2.4 per cent last year, adding to the 25-plus unbroken years of economic growth. But digging a bit deeper shows not all is well.

A substantial portion of Australia's overall growth stems from population growth. This means per capita growth, which is more relevant to people's lives, hasn't been doing so well. Since the end of the global financial crisis in 2008, per capita incomes grew by just 1.3 per cent on average per year. This is less than half the average growth seen between 1992 and 2017.

Slow income growth has been underpinned by slow wages growth. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, average annual wages growth has been on the decline since mid-2014, and is now as low as 1.9 per cent. To put that in context, annual wages have grown by an average of 3.2 per cent over the past 20 years.

Making things worse, the price of key household essentials has risen dramatically. Over the past 20 years, for example, the cost of housing has increased by 330 per cent, child care by 310 per cent, electricity by 215 per cent, and education by 174 per cent.

Is the free market to blame?

Many have blamed free market capitalism (or what is often pejoratively referred to as "neoliberalism") for our economic malaise.

Will Australia really be uncompetitive with these countries if the Government's tax cut proposal is not passed by Parliament?
"Neoliberalism" has been blamed for everything from rising prices, to creating loneliness, to making us physically sick.

However, the root cause of Australia's economic problems is better understood as the absence of free market capitalism, not its prevalence.

In a free market system, government intervention would be limited to protecting property, administering justice, and providing a targeted safety net, national defence and domestic law enforcement.

Taxes would be low and flat, and regulation would be mostly limited to the common law. People would be free to start a business, and sell their products, services, or labour to anyone, anytime, under whatever conditions they voluntarily agree to.

The Australian economy, by contrast, is beset with government interference in every corner.

Company tax rate deterring investment

If you want to know why wage growth is sluggish, look no further than the corporate tax rate.

Australia's top marginal corporate rate of 30 per cent is well above key competitor nations such as the US (21 per cent), the UK (17 per cent by 2020), and Singapore (17 per cent).

Further, a recent World Economic Forum report showed that, out of 138 nations, Australia ranked 94th for the negative effect taxation has on the incentive to invest.

This is why business investment in Australia is sitting at just 12 per cent of GDP, which is lower than during the Whitlam era. And low business investment means less capital, lower productivity, and lower wages.

Workers could win from a tax cut

Cutting Australia's high corporate tax rate would help turn this around. The Treasury — hardly a bastion of free-market thought — estimated that reducing the business tax rate to 25 per cent will increase GDP by 1 per cent, or $17 billion each year.

The murky world of corporate tax cuts

Who really emerges as the winners? Business editor Ian Verrender looks at the push for a 25pc company tax rate.
This windfall would be shared among customers (through lower prices), shareholders (through higher returns) and employees and households (through higher wages).

Economists differ on the exact breakdown. But Treasury estimated about two-thirds would go to households, mostly through higher wages.

Even Former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry stated, "if the company income tax were to be cut, the principal beneficiaries will be workers …"

Red tape also to blame

But it isn't just taxes where the heavy hand of government can be felt. Regulation and red tape are as big, if not bigger, drains on Australia's economic prospects. Modelling by the IPA shows red tape reduces economic output in Australia by $176 billion each year, or around 11 per cent of GDP. This cost captures forgone human potential: all of the businesses which are never started, the jobs never created, or the technologies never developed because red tape got in the way.

The consequences of red tape and regulation can be seen across the economy.

An iron ore mine located in the Pilbara in Western Australia required some 4,697 licences, approvals, and conditions for the pre-construction phase alone.

While in NSW it could take filling out 48 separate forms just to open a restaurant.

The key to jobs and wage growth

Cutting this regulatory burden, reducing Australia's high business tax rate and liberalising the economy will give Australians more freedom to start their own business. It will also encourage more businesses to invest in Australia instead of overseas.

This isn't "trickle-down economics". It's an immutable reality.

If you want more jobs and higher wages, then you need more of what creates jobs and pays wages: businesses.

Imposing high taxes and a stifling regulatory burden will only drive businesses away. And the biggest losers won't be corporate CEOs. They will just find work in other countries. It will be Australian workers and families.


HSC students abandoning high-level subjects

The proportion of students doing high-level maths and science subjects in the HSC has steadily declined over the past 10 years along with Australia's performance in international tests, which experts say is linked to the country's attitudes towards STEM.
Only 4.18 per cent of HSC students did Maths Extension 2, the highest level maths subject available, last year. This was down from 4.58 per cent of the cohort in 2007.

Only 11.54 per cent of year 12 students did Maths Extension 1 in 2017, down from 13.18 per cent in 2007, and 22.36 per cent studied Mathematics, down from 26.99 per cent.

Maths General 2, which is a non-calculus course, remains the most popular maths elective, with 41.29 per cent of HSC students taking it last year. However, this also represents a decline from 44.27 per cent in 2007.

The proportion of students studying physics, chemistry, engineering and technology subjects has also seen a similar decline.

There was also a fall in the proportion of HSC students studying the top-level English Extension 2 course from 3.8 per cent in 2007 to 2.16 per cent last year.

However, the percentage of students taking the popular PDHPE course has increased from 18.64 per cent of the HSC cohort in 2007 to 20.43 per cent in 2017. The candidature for Modern History has also increased from 14.02 per cent of students in 2007 to 14.54 per cent last year.

Despite these figures, NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said that the national promotion of STEM subjects over humanities subjects was an act of "intellectual snobbery", which has drawn comment from the country's top scientists and industry experts.

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) school program manager Janine McIntosh said that general attitudes towards maths and science are a big part of the problem.

"Australia seems to have an aversion to STEM, something I hear a lot at dinner parties is 'I was never any good at maths'," Ms McIntosh said.

"All of the calculus-based subjects have declined, and not just in NSW.

"My biggest concern is that Australia is going to be left behind because other countries don't have that negative attitude to maths and they're going to have the data analysis and technical skills for the future."

Sue Thomson, head of educational monitoring and research at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), said the effect of the decline is visible in students' results in international tests such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS).

"What we've found is that over the past 15 to 20 years, we have fewer students performing at the advanced level," Dr Thomson said.

"We're average on the OECD scale for maths but certainly, our scores have gone down over the past 10 to 20 years.

"And in the questions where we ask students whether they like maths or science, only half say yes in year 4. By year 8, it's down to under a quarter and it's even lower at the senior levels."

Dr Thomson said a shortage of STEM-qualified teachers in high schools and anxiety about teaching maths and science subjects among primary school teachers is one reason for the fall in enrolments in high-level maths and science subjects and the country's overall declining performance.

"The other reason is that kids only choose subjects they know they'll be successful in," Dr Thomson said.

"If they know they'll only be moderately successful in advanced maths, they'll do general maths instead. And often they're advised to do that by their schools to maximise their ATARs."

The ATAR scaling system has advantaged students choosing Maths General 2 course with up to 6.5 marks more than those studying the Mathematics course, a report by the NSW Department of Education's Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) revealed last year.

However, new maths syllabuses that will be rolled out this year and next year will aim to address the problem by introducing common content and marking scales.


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

1 comment:

Paul said...

Reminded me of the paradox of women-only gyms. They still exist, unchallenged, in some places.