Friday, September 28, 2018

A small hiatus

I last went on vacation in the year 2004 so I have begun to feel that I should get out more.  So I have decided to take two or three short breaks in the months ahead.  I will therefore be getting on a train later today for a 7 hour trip to see my gorgeous sister.  To have a great sister but rarely see her is crazy.  And the trip will be on a very modern fast train so the travel alone should be interesting.  I will be away for only a few days and will be unlikely to do any blogging while I am away.  I will however be taking a computer with me so if there is a big drama happening I might put up something.


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is feeling cynical about the upheavals at the ABC

Conservative party bludgeoned by Leftist government for allowing anti-Muslim speech

The lies and misrepresentations of the Leftist press are incredible.  The senator sad that the "final solution" to Muslim problems was democracy, not gas ovens.  It was a pro-democracy speech, not a pro-Nazi speech

Queensland's corruption watchdog has ruled Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and three opposition MPs have no case to answer over the removal of resources from Katter's Australia Party.

Ms Palaszczuk stripped the party of extra parliamentary staff after state KAP MPs refused to denounce federal Senator Fraser Anning for using the Nazi-associated phrase "final solution" during his first parliamentary speech.

In response, KAP Qld leader Robbie Katter referred the premier to the Crime and Corruption Commission claiming she had broken the law by using the extra resources as leverage in urging the KAP to renounce the senator's speech.

He also referred Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington, Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander and LNP member for Warrego Ann Leahy after they called for the premier to withdraw the funding.

The CCC found the LNP MPs had no case to answer, and said the premier may have technically breached the law by threatening to remove the extra funding if the KAP MPs didn't renounce the speech.

"The premier's answer allegedly contained an implied threat to withdraw KAP staffing resources with the intent to influence KAP parliamentary members in their vote," the watchdog said in a statement.

However it also found the relevant section of the criminal code wasn't meant to apply to statements made in parliament.

"The CCC acknowledges that the government of the day has authority to determine appropriate resourcing for ministerial and other office holders."

"The CCC is of the view that parliament is the appropriate entity to decide the propriety of its own proceedings"

The anti-corruption body recommended setting up an independent body to decide resource allocation to parties.

The resources were initially allocated to the KAP during the last term of government when Labor relied on its two votes in the minority government at the time.


Victoria’s nonsensical renewable energy experiment

One of the benefits of a federation is that each state can learn from the mistakes of others. When it comes to electricity, the disastrous experiment of South Australia, with its uncontrolled promotion of renewable energy, should be a salutary lesson for all the others.

South Australia has close to the highest electricity prices in the world and a system that is so fragile it is constantly being propped up — think coal-fired electricity from Victoria and specifically purchased diesel generators. It’s an example of what not to do. But this is not how the Victorian government sees the world as it embarks on an even riskier scheme of promoting subsidised renewable ­energy in that state. Virtue-signalling to attract wavering, inner-city voters trumps concern for keeping a lid on electricity prices and maintaining the stability of the grid.

Deeply unimpressive Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has announced the results of a reverse auction for ­investments in large-scale renewable energy. The government’s legislated target is for at least 40 per cent of electricity to come from renewable energy by 2025. The auctions aimed to ­deliver 650 megawatts (nameplate cap­acity) of new projects. In the end, projects for 928MWs were accept­ed.

But let’s be clear: reverse auc­tions involve huge subsidies to the promoters of these projects, guaranteeing cashflow at high megawatt per hour prices. By contrast, the (federal) renewable ­energy target is a less secure source of subsidy, particularly as total investment is nearing the 2020 final target and the value of the underlying certificates, the large-scale generation certificates, will fall sharply in the early 2020s.

Now, the renewable energy sector will claim wind and solar deliver cheaper electricity than new fossil fuel power plants, although this claim doesn’t take into account the associated costs of firming intermittent renewable energy. This claim is worth interrogating because, notwith­stand­ing a fall in the cost of the solar panels, there is not much in the physical construction of these projects that supports the assertion.

The real answer lies in the subsidised cost of capital that renewable energy projects underwritten by governments are able to secure. In effect, these projects can access debt finance at the long-run government bond rate. (Note that Victoria has a AAA credit rating.) Were new coal-fired plants able to access debt at this concessional rate, their cost per megawatt hour on a firmed basis would be much lower again. But because these plants need to accept direct merchant risk, their cost of capital could easily be 300 basis points above the government bond rate, assuming they can even secure debt finance in this country.

The fundamental problem of the renewable energy policy in Victoria is the refusal to learn from the problems of the South Australian experiment. These include:

The failure to impose any firming obligations on the renewable energy projects to ensure 24/7 supply of electricity.

The failure to take into ­account the extra expenses associated with investment in transmission and distribution needed to connect these often far-flung projects to the grid.

The failure to take into ­account the destruction of the economics of existing generators — in Victoria’s case, the brown coal-fired generators in the Latrobe Valley — and the effects of the early retirement of these assets.

If any Victorian voter is foolish enough to think state taxpayers or electricity consumers are getting a good deal out of these reverse auctions, they need to think again. While these costs are not directly sheeted home to the renewable energy providers — they should be — they are real and will cause economic and social damage down the track.

Consider the firming costs that are necessarily part and parcel of renewable energy. Wind farms produce at most 30 per cent of their capacity, mainly in spring and autumn. Solar farms produce slightly less than 20 per cent, with peak output at 1pm — a time of relatively low demand.

When it comes to firming and using the figures from the current Snowy operation, the cost for solar is about $40 per megawatt hour. In the case of wind, however, a firming cost cannot even be nominated ­because of the inherent unreliability of wind patterns.

So when the Victorian government quotes figures of between $53/MWh and $57/MWh for the successful renewable energy projects in the recent reverse auction, we need to add a minimum of $40/MWh for firming. This makes these projects very expensive.

In terms of the poles and wires issue, there are considerable weaknesses in the way in which the regulation and pricing systems ­operate. Effectively, a renewable energy project can be located anywhere and, as long as the regulator agrees, the cost of connecting the project to the grid is borne by all customers without any cost imposition on the operator.

Note that regulated assets are priced at a fixed margin over the cost of capital, so the transmission/distribution companies do not ­really care who bears the cost.

Let’s also be clear about another thing: the abrupt closure of the Hazelwood power station in 2016 was a disaster for the state and the consequences still reverberate. At the time, Labor Premier Daniel Andrews made the ludicrous claim that retail prices would rise by less than 4 per cent in 2017. The actual rise was four times higher.

There are also some important short-term issues for Victoria, ­including the forecast shortfall of generating capacity of close to 400MW during the coming summer. The Australian Energy Market Operator says a combin­ation of demand management — paying customers to power down — and extra diesel generation will be sufficient to see the state through those very warm days. But it will be a close call.

The Victorian case — and let’s not forget Queensland’s equally bizarre promotion of renewable energy projects, again many in far-flung places — should provide the backdrop to some much needed changes to the operation of the National Electricity Market. The rapid penetration of large and small-scale renewable energy ­demands some new rules to ensure the stability and reliability of the grid as well as deliver lower prices.

These changes must involve the imposition of more obligations on renewable energy providers who have been afforded too many favours. There are three main changes that are required: day ahead pricing; scheduled generation by requiring firmed cap­acity; and developer charges on generators for the cost of extra transmission and distribution.

There is no doubt these changes will be resisted by the ­renewable energy sector. But without them, the stability and reli­ability of the grid will be imperilled. It was one thing for a small state such as South Australia to lose its head and overinvest in renewable energy; it is another thing altogether for several states to do so.

The AEMO is clear we need to extend the lives of our thermal plants for as long as possible but the actions of foolhardy governments promoting renewable energy to secure inner-city votes threaten this outcome. At the very least, consumers in those states should bear the full costs of their governments’ foolish policies.

The hope is that federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor can deal with some of these issues before it is too late.


North Sydney to ban smokers from lighting up on the street – becoming the country's first smoke-free district

North Sydney is set to ban smokers from lighting up in the street, becoming the first Council in the country to create a smoke-free district.

Mayor Jilly Gibson made the recommendation to North Sydney Council who unanimously voted for the ban this week.

'We're not going to hand out fines. It's going to work by goodwill,' Cr Gibson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'No one should be forced to inhale passive smoke, but also for schoolchildren, they should not have to see people standing around smoking. The less they see, the less they are influenced,' she said.

The ban would include all streets, plazas, parks, and outdoor restaurant and café seating.

Regarding electronic cigarettes, the Mayor said she thinks they would fall into the same category although 'we haven't really thought about it yet.'

Cr Gibson said that the North Sydney CBD could become smoke free by early next year if community consultations are completed on schedule by Christmas.

Dominique Bergel-Grant, president of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, said the organisation welcomed the move to ban smoking in an area that sees an influx of 46,000 workers during the week.

In June 2016, Sydney Council permanently banned smoking in Martin Place following a 12 month trial and in September the same year added Pitt Street Mall as a smoke free zone.

The Federal Government increased the price of cigarettes in this year's budget, with each pack now costing almost $40.

The 12.5 per cent tobacco excise hike signals the government has no intention of going easy on smokers' wallets in a country that is already the most expensive place  to buy cigarettes in the world.


Company profits, lower welfare spending drive strong budget

Company profits, surging employment and a reduction in welfare payments have driven the federal budget to its smallest deficit in 10 years, putting a surplus in sight as the Morrison government heads to the polls next year.

The headline figures, which drove the deficit down to $10.1 billion in the final budget outcome for 2017-18, were driven by spending restraint under former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and lower than expected welfare payments to the aged, unemployed and the disabled.

They were also pushed along by an accounting change that helped the Coalition add $11 billion to its deficit reduction trajectory by comparing gains with the previous year's budget, rather than the most recent May budget.

The Coalition's headline figure claimed that the deficit has "improved" by $19.3 billion, but without the accounting change the figure would have only been $8.1 billion.

The single biggest saving was the lower than expected numbers of participants entering the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Increasing the aged pension to 67 also saved $900 million in payments, while there was $4 billion in lower than expected spending on people with disabilities.

The lower welfare payments, coupled with a $6.8 billion boost in company tax receipts and an immigration-driven employment boom, effectively delivered Tuesday's result.

But the outcome also contains a warning that the strong company tax revenues may be only temporary. While company tax receipts were $6.8 billion higher than predicted in 2017, they were $930 million lower than the May budget pencilled in.

Up to 350,000 new jobs in 2017-18 effectively added $2.4 billion to income tax takings, while some of that increase was also down to taxpayers being slowly pushed into higher tax brackets despite anaemic wage growth.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the numbers showed the Coalition's economic plan was working, as the government moves to put a platform fiscal responsibility at the heart of its re-election pitch.

In the past month, ratings agency S&P has removed Australia's negative watch rating and the national accounts showed the strongest economic growth since the global financial crisis - the last time Australia recorded a surplus.

"Since coming to office we've kept spending real growth down to 1.9 per cent which is the lowest of any government in 50 years," Mr Frydenberg said. "But we cannot be complacent."

The Coalition has now effectively abandoned a self-imposed budget rule which compelled ministers to make spending announcements by finding savings in other areas.

That rule meant "shifts in receipts and payments due to changes in the economy will be banked as an improvement to the budget bottom line if this impact is positive."

With a wafer-thin surplus now timetabled for 2019-20, Mr Frydenberg has promised a "stronger economy" will now pay for new spending announcements, including the $4.4 billion in extra school funding pledged last week.

Labor, which has proposed up to $200 billion in budget saving measures, accused the government of abandoning its core principle.

"Simply saying the ‘economy’ or ‘growth’ will pay for new spending or tax cut plans is no plan for a sustainable budget repair strategy," said shadow treasurer Chris Bowen.


Australian Catholic University moves up in rankings

Australian Catholic University (ACU) has been ranked in the top 500 of universities worldwide, in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2018, announced on Wednesday 26 September.

This is the third consecutive year ACU has risen in the rankings, indicative of its improving research strengths.

The University climbed from joint 30 position last year to rank 25 out of 35 Australian institutions.

The THE World University Rankings is an annual league table of the top universities in the world. It assesses universities under the criteria of teaching, research, citations, industry income, and international outlook.

ACU’s strong performance included improved scores for research and citations, with ACU positioned in the top 400 for research and top 500 for citations worldwide.

ACU Provost Professor Pauline Nugent said the results were a welcome acknowledgement of the commitment the University had made to priority areas in health, education and theology and philosophy.

 “It is very encouraging to see that our steady growth and a determination to focus on areas that are fundamental to our mission and core values are having an impact.”

“The University has set out to achieve excellent outcomes, by investing in quality research and programs that will deliver genuinely valuable results for others,” she said.

ACU is increasingly making its mark internationally, with other notable rankings such as:

Positioned 501-600 in Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)

A top 100 Asia Pacific (APAC) university, recognised as a leader in higher education in the region (Times Higher Education Asia-Pacific University Rankings 2018)

Recognised as one of the world’s top young universities, included in the top 50 of Generation Y and ranked 101-150 globally (Times Higher Education Young Universities Rankings 2018)

Ranked in the top 100 for a number of subjects:

sport science (26 ARWU)

nursing (41 ARWU)

education (51-75 ARWU)

theology, divinity and religious studies (top 100 QS Subject Rankings)

These results follow closely behind the University’s strong performance in the most recent Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment – with 94 per cent of all ACU research judged to be at or above world standards, and ACU placed equal first in Australia in five Fields of Research.

ACU is a public, not-for-profit university funded by the Australian Government. It is open to students and staff of all beliefs. Its research institutes and faculties focus on the priority research areas of education, health, and theology and philosophy.

Media release from

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, September 27, 2018

Terror school: Why returning jihadis could soon be teaching your children under a radical new plan to fight ISIS - as authorities admit the threat is 'as high as ever'

Australian jihadis could soon be teaching the country's youth under new plans unveiled by one of Australia's leading counter-terrorism strategists.

Former NSW Police deputy commissioner and UN investigator, Nick Kaldas, said the government should consider employing some of the 400 Australians who are in hiding overseas after fleeing to fight for Islamic State.

The radical new thinking, which Mr Kaldas said comes at a time when the terrorist threat is 'as high as ever', means they could be 'deployed' as mentors to dissuade young people who were considering turning to extremism.

While admitting the concept was controversial, he said it offered a better alternative than prosecuting those who had gone to fight under ISIS' black flag. He said: 'It may be useful to consider using them as an example and have them talk to those who may follow their path. 'To say "it's not that good, it's not what you think it is, it is a horrible thing to do,"' he told The Daily Telegraph.

'I know that would be controversial but I think there could be some uses in having people who have done it come back repentant - and share those mistakes with others.' 

Mr Kaldas' proposal comes after five Australian jihadists who had travelled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State were stripped of their citizenship last month.

Included in those five was Neil Prakash - a senior ISIS figure behind bars in Turkey on terror charges.

One other Australian, Khaled Sharrouf, is believed to have been stripped of his citizenship after joining Islamic State.

The former police deputy chief was in talks with then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2017 about running his own ministry to combat terrorism.

The ministry, which would be similar to the UK's Home Office or the US' Homeland Security, would co-ordinate Australia's authorities in countering the terror threat.

Mr Kaldas also said the implementation of intelligence sharing between public and private law enforcement sectors could help Australian authorities fight terrorism better.

He added it was imperative that high-profile landmarks like the Sydney Opera House were in constant communication with police over possible threats - rather than being kept in the dark.

Around 230 Australians have joined the Islamic State, of which 90 have been killed in combat.


Proud to be a racist: 'Final solution' senator claims immigrants come from 'broken s***holes' and Islam 'is on a mission to take over Australia'

Some realism at last

A rogue senator who called for a 'final solution' to Muslim immigration has now declared he doesn't care if he is called a racist.

Katter's Australian Party lawmaker Fraser Anning released a video declaring all non-European migrants moving to Australia were from 'broken down s***holes'.

'We're finding that more and more people are apologising for being white but it was the whites who built these nations,' he said.

The Queensland senator said people from poor countries wanted to move to Australia 'because we have what they don't have'.

'We don't need to turn our countries into those same broken down s***holes that they come from. Otherwise we'll just become one of them,' he said.

On Tuesday, Senator Anning tweeted a meme equating Muslims with failed states in the Middle East and Africa to argue why they should be banned from Australia.

'If being a racist means I don't want my country turned into a pile of rocks and goat s*** ruled by a barbaric cult, then I'm a racist,' he said on Facebook and Twitter.  

Senator Anning told Daily Mail Australia he was specifically referring to Muslims in the social media post. 'Make no mistake Islam is on a mission to take over the Western world and implement sharia law,' he said today.

'Islam is an ideology of hate. Look at the appalling conditions and the treatment of women in countries like Somalia, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authorities, Iran and Afghanistan.'

Senator Anning said that like other Western nations, Australia's immigration intake was undermining a society with European institutions.

The 2016 Census shows that 49 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas.

'Look at the fundamental changes that are occurring in countries with indiscriminate immigration policies,' he said. 'We cannot avoid the subject for fear of being called racist.

'The question all Australians need to ask themselves is do they want to see the nation changed and not for the better?'

The 68-year-old Brisbane-based senator, who defected from One Nation in January after being sworn in as a federal member of Parliament, was condemned by both sides of politics in August after using a Nazi Germany phrase to demand an end to Muslim immigration. 'The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote,' he said in his maiden speech.

Treasurer and deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg, who is Jewish, and Labor frontbencher Ed Husic, a Muslim, joined together as friends from across the political divide to condemn Senator Anning.

His speech was even condemned by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who maintains Australia is in danger of being 'swamped by Asians' and is also an Islam critic.

Senator Anning had also told Parliament Australian society was better before the formal dismantling of the White Australia policy in 1973 ended a bias in favour of European migrants.

His latest social media post has divided Twitter, with one woman questioning how it was racist to criticise Islam, who make up 2.6 per cent of the Australian population. 'Religion has nothing to do with race,' she said.

A supporter of Senator Anning said white people were being silenced. 'Racism is white people thinking or feeling about race the way that people of other races remain free to feel and think about it,' he said.


Property expert hits back at Labor’s controversial negative gearing policy

ONE of Australia’s most outspoken property experts has issued a dire warning for Labor, insisting the party could “destroy the property market”.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the ALP’s vow to limit negative gearing to newly built homes would actually “invite a housing market crash”.

The policy is at the core of the Labor’s housing proposals — and negative gearing policy is expected to be one of the major issues at the heart of the next federal election.

Now, property investor and author Bushy Martin has weighed into the divisive debate, claiming Labor’s plan could end up decimating our already ailing housing market.

“This is an economic disaster in the making and is the only real current threat that has the potential to destroy the property market and slash the value of everyone’s homes,” he told

“Given that over 50 per cent of the average Australian’s wealth is in their home, this will kill the long-term financial future of most hardworking Aussies.

“The naivety of Labor … is staggering in its ignorance — this is more surprising given that former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating made the same mistake in removing negative gearing back in the ’80s only to overturn and reinstate it 18 months later when property values fell and rents started rising rapidly. It appears the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.”

Mr Martin said the policy would have serious consequences for the majority of Australians.

“I implore the Labor Party to stop pursuing ill-conceived kneejerk policies aimed at satisfying the squeaky wheel few that will have unforeseen impacts on the many,” he said.

“The Labor Party needs to stop dancing to the tune of the politically correct vocal minority and get out and actually talk to a broad cross-section of the industry which will quickly educate them on the myopic madness of their proposed tax changes which will be equivalent to a tax revolution.

“If the Labor Party pursues this kamikaze path, property values will plunge and trigger the economic ‘recession we did not have to have’.”

But the ALP has hit back at Mr Martin’s claims, with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen slamming the investor for promoting a “doom and gloom” scenario.

“Mr Martin appears unaware that Labor announced this policy in 2016 and the doom and gloom scenario he is predicted has been widely rejected, including by the Treasury,” he said in a statement provided to “Every existing investment is grandfathered under Labor’s carefully designed policy and negative gearing will continue to be allowed for new properties, encouraging new supply.

“Mr Martin may choose to describe young people struggling with an unaffordable housing market as ‘the squeaky wheel few’ but we don’t.”

Mr Bowen said Labor’s plan was all about fairness. “I understand Mr Martin wants (to) continue to be subsidised by the most generous tax concession for investment in the world, but Labor’s grandfathered policy will put first homebuyers and investors on a more level playing field and is fair for all,” he said.

In recent weeks, the Opposition’s promise to limit negative gearing and halve the 50 per cent capital gains tax discount has ignited fierce debate among leading property experts and everyday Aussies alike.

According to the recently released 2018 Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA) Property Investor Sentiment Survey, despite the current housing downturn, more than 77 per cent of respondents think now is a good time to invest in property, with 52 per cent looking to purchase a property in the next six to 12 months.

However, 48 per cent say changes to investor lending policies have impacted their ability to secure finance for an investment property, with potential changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax policies also a growing concern.


How China is driving Australia and Trump into each other's arms

On Malcolm Turnbull's last weekend as prime minister he picked up the phone and called the White House. In the inner sanctum, his government had just made a threshold decision on the hyper-connected, fifth-generation mobile telecommunications future that's to enable the so-called "internet of things".

Before he announced it to the world, Turnbull wanted to tell Donald Trump. Specifically, he told Trump that Australia had decided that the risk of allowing Chinese companies to supply any of the gear for the forthcoming multi-billion dollar 5G network was too great.

As the government would announce a few days later, on Turnbull's last full day as prime minister, Chinese firms would be banned outright. It was, in effect, a profound statement of mistrust in Beijing's intent.

Trump was pleased. Even impressed: "You're ahead of us on this," the President said during the unpublicised call, according to informed sources. The Australian leader was well aware. He'd been urging the US for months to get active on the matter. He raised it with Trump in a meeting in Washington in February, for instance.

Now Australia had taken a decisive step, becoming the first country in the world to ban Chinese suppliers from its 5G network and incurring the customary angry bluster and threats from Beijing as a result. Turnbull evidently hoped that, by taking the lead, Australia would prompt the US and others to follow. It seems likely that it will.

Four weeks after that phone call, the admiral in charge of the US Indo-Pacific Command stood on the deck of a US navy guided missile destroyer in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. Admiral Phil Davidson is responsible for US military operations across a little over half the earth's surface.

"I will be totally transparent with you," Davidson told assembled sailors and guests. "China is moving around the region with an open pocket book greasing the region with money like no other adversary we have ever faced."

This is strong stuff. He welcomed Australia's co-operation. And he embraced the term that Australia's ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, has been promoting ever since he arrived in the post two and a half years ago. The US, said Davidson, classifies the countries it works with into three tiers - friends, partners and allies.

"And then there's mates," said the Admiral, adding a fourth category. "The highest form of relationship you can have."

Standing with him and the crew of the American destroyer was the crew of the HMAS Hobart, the first of Australia's three new guided missile destroyers. The Hobart was docked alongside its US counterpart. Both carry the sophisticated American-made Aegis combat system, a statement in itself.

Trump himself, who has adopted the Australian ambassador as a golfing partner, speaks of America's Aussie "mates" and "mateship". And while the President has decided to cancel his attendance at the two big annual summits in Asia in November, and the side-trip he had planned to Australia as well, the Vice-President is to make the trip instead.

Mike Pence is set to visit Cairns, a token of American commitment to the alliance. The theme will be the shared priority of a "free and open Indo-Pacific". This is unsubtle code for "preventing Chinese takeover of international waters and airspace".

Although the visit has not yet been announced, it's understood to be a one-day affair. One quirk is that, on the current scheduling, the US Vice-President will come to Australia but not meet the Prime Minister. Scott Morrison is to be in Darwin meeting the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

What do these various developments have in common? Shared fear of China's intentions is holding the alliance together. If anything, it is strengthening the relationship.

In the absence of the China risk, Australia would be inclined to recoil from Trump's America. The President is personally unpopular with the Australian public and politically distasteful to all but a right-most fringe in Australian politics.

Some of his key policies hurt Australia's interests. Australia favours free trade. Trump does not. Australia is committed to the Paris carbon accord. Trump is opposed. Australia supports the Iranian nuclear deal. Trump is pulling it apart.

But the threat from the authoritarian party-state in Beijing is so pervasive that Australia and the US are drawn to co-operate more closely in spite of their policy differences.

The cover story in the American journal Foreign Affairs is about China's plan for cyber dominance. It's titled: "World World Web."

The man who was conducting that war for America until four months ago is retired admiral Mike Rogers; he was the chief signals spy as head of the US National Security Agency and concurrently the chief cyber warrior as head of US Cyber Command.

Rogers tells me that when he started in those two posts four years ago, "We considered the Russians to be our peers in cyber. With China, initially, that wasn't my judgment. But look at the growth in their expertise. You are seeing China increase their capability and their level of investment. We have to develop responses predicated on the assumption that this is not going to go away."

And this is a priority that Australia shares. When Xi Jinping said that China aims to become a "cyber superpower" he wasn't thinking about how to improve shoppers' retail experience. China seeks to dominate. That's the shared concern that moved Turnbull to call Trump, the new relevance of an old alliance.


How immigration accounts for almost TWO-THIRDS of Australia's population growth

It's Sydney but except for the blonde hair it could be Tokyo

Sydney has become so overcrowded because of high immigration families are packing up and leaving for Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast to afford a house, official figures reveal.

Australia's biggest city is continuing to house the bulk of new arrivals from overseas, with net immigration accounting for almost two-thirds of national population growth.

Sydney is becoming so crowded families are moving en masse to Melbourne and south-east Queensland to escape the ridiculously high house prices, new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

In the year to March, 20,500 moved out of New South Wales as the immigration-fuelled population in Australia's most crowded state surged by 113,100.

During the same time frame, 15,100 people moved to Victoria while another 24,000 moved to Queensland.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle said many people had moved from Sydney, where median house prices are still at $1 million, to Melbourne, which also has more than 5 million people, to get cheaper housing.

'If we look at the people leaving Sydney, it's not that they're quitting cities, they're just quitting this city, they're moving to other cities, Melbourne among them' he told Daily Mail Australia today.

'Sydney's become a victim of its own success. 'The ongoing urban sprawl, congestion, the commute times, has got Sydney to the point where people are looking for other alternatives.

'Melbourne has as strong an economy as Sydney and lots of jobs to boot, it's got the lifestyle but it's got housing affordability 20 per cent better than that of Sydney.'

The exodus of people from Sydney to Melbourne drove a surge in Victoria's population growth pace to 2.2 per cent, the highest in Australia.

Other alternatives to Sydney include the Gold Coast for retirees and Brisbane for mortgaged families looking to escape a 'long commute from western Sydney'.

At the turn of the 21st century, Australia's birth rate accounted for more than half of Australia's population growth pace. That began to change in 2002 after the Howard government pushed Australia's net annual immigration pace above 100,000.

It has been above 200,000 since 2012 and stood at 236,800 in the year to March, accounting for 62 per cent of national population growth.

During that time the natural increase of 143,900, subjecting deaths from births, accounted for 38 per cent of Australia's population growth.

Australia's population grew by 1.6 per cent, or 380,700 people, to be among the fastest expanding in the developed world, before reaching the 25 million milestone in August.

'Compared to our comparable countries it's still a very high growth rate,' Mr McCrindle said. 'That's largely through the very high migration rate. 'While it's become the norm, historically it hasn't been.'

The population growth pace in developed world is 0.7 per cent, as measured by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.


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, September 26, 2018

Feminism according to Daisy Cousens

America has many great conservative women.  I particularly like Kellyanne Conway and Monica Crowley.  But Australia produces talented conservatives too.  Claire Lehman, creator and editor of Quillette has come to international attention in recent times. And Daisy Cousens is very prominent these days in Australia.  She appears on all sorts of shows vigorously promoting conservative views. 

Her great asset is that she uses irreverent humor to punch holes in Leftist nonsense.  And the fact that she is very pretty and ultra feminine does undoubtedly help. After the video I reproduce an abridged version of a story about her.

For Daisy Cousens, there is more than one reason to celebrate the ascendancy of Donald Trump – or "Uncle Donny", as she refers to the US president.

First and foremost, it is good to wake up in the morning and know that a man of his calibre is in the Oval Office. The bonus? Knowing lefties worldwide are still sobbing into their pillows. "Hilarious," is her summing-up of the situation.

Cousens, 28, is a right-wing political pundit, frequently invited to air her opinions in print and on television talk-shows.

Besides being forthright, she is "smart, hard-working, and extremely well-educated" – at least, that is how she described herself in an article she published online late last year. In the same piece, she attributed her professional success in part to her sparkling personality and attractive appearance.

"Funny and conventionally pretty is a winning combination," she pointed out, "and although looks and charisma won't help me do the task, they assist immeasurably in gaining me the opportunity."

On a warm afternoon, I visit Cousens on Sydney's North Shore, where she lives with her parents and two younger sisters in a pleasant house surrounded by towering gums.

She comes to the door wearing a fulllength dress with a fitted bodice. Her skin is pale, her hair dark, her smile coquettish: she reminds me of Vivien Leigh playing Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. We take cups of tea to an outside table and I ask how she got into punditry. "I've always been conservative," she says. And confident, obviously. Also – she doesn't mind admitting it – contrarian. "I kinda like arguing with people. I like to talk."

She laughs when I mention that I saw her make a determined effort to speak over the top of host Tony Jones on ABC TV's Q&A earlier this year.

"I was just really annoyed," she says. "I'm like, 'No, let me talk, dammit!' It was very funny." On ABC's The Drum, Cousens was even more assertive. "No-no-no-no-no-no-no," she told a fellow guest who tried to get a word in edgeways. "Don't interrupt me." Both performances drew a big response online. "I didn't read any of it," she says. "But my friends were like, 'Er, Daisy, people are calling you a Nazi.'"

There's nothing like the presence of a Trump supporter to spice up on-air debate.

While I am working on this story, Cousens accepts requests to appear on Sky News' The Bolt Report, Paul Murray Live and Jones & Co, Channel Ten's The Project, as well as Q&A and The Drum. No one could accuse her of shrinking from the spotlight, but even she is surprised by how much screen-time she's getting. "They keep calling me," she says.

I think nowadays, being conservative, it's kind of like the new rebellion.

Daisy Cousens' parents are actors. (Her father, Peter Cousens, is also a producer and director whose film credits include Freedom, starring Cuba Gooding jnr.) "I think they're a bit more centrist than I am," says Daisy, as we sit drinking tea in their sun-dappled garden. She herself dreamed of becoming a musical-theatre star, and spent the best part of a year trying to conquer Broadway. She says she had $10 in her pocket when she returned from New York. What's nice, from her perspective, is that she has ended up in the spotlight any way – even if she finds herself playing to tougher crowds than she encountered in her song-and-dance days. "They booed me!" she says of a section of the Q&A audience. A small pause. "I was really pleased."

CONTROVERSY IS, of course, the pundit's stock-intrade. When Cousens says things like, "I called myself a feminist before I started, you know, thinking," you get the impression she is hoping for a sharp collective intake of breath. She tells me that she and fellow members of the cohort she calls the "millennial Right" aim to be "very, very outrageous … We like to shock people".

In the Trump era, conservatism has lost its fuddy-duddy image, she says. "I think nowadays, being conservative, it's kind of like the new rebellion."

Cousens, who likes that Trump is "very anti-politicalcorrectness", was just 15 the first time she gave us the benefit of her assessment of a US president. It was 2003, a few months after the invasion of Iraq, and US president George W. Bush was visiting Canberra. Cousens, in the national capital on a school excursion,was one of 40 students selected to sit in on his address to federal parliament ("You had to be the worst kind of teacher's pet to get picked for that," she admits).

Interviewed for the next day's newspapers, she said Bush had convinced her that starting the war was the right thing to do: "When he talked about Saddam's torture chambers, I thought, 'Oh my God, this man is trying to defend all of us.' "

Looking back, she is impressed by the chutzpah she showed when the press pack approached. "They said, 'Do any of you girls have anything to say about the speech?' And everyone was quiet except me. I just kept talking and talking." She beams. "Nothing has changed."

After Cousens accepted that her future was not on the stage, she obtained a master's degree in creative writing and began contributing articles to an online women's magazine, SheSaid. She also started writing about tennis, a sport she has always adored. Then she knocked out a piece called "Islam and Sexual Slavery", which the conservative journal Quadrant published in November 2015 under the pseudonym Victoria Kincaid (because it was so "controversial", she says). This was her break. She landed a job as an editorial assistant at [conservative magazine] Quadrant, later joining The Spectator Australia's stable of columnists.

Cousens' political pieces invariably excoriate the Left. "I wait to write things until I'm in a terrible mood," she says. "It's usually 2am and I have a block of chocolate and I'm irrationally annoyed because Rafael Nadal, who's my favourite tennis player, has lost in the early rounds." Her objective when she composes a column is "to make people think, and to make them laugh, and to punch a hole in something that hasn't had a hole punched in it before".

Factual accuracy isn't necessarily a top priority. "The single mother, popping out children at 16 for government benefits, is hailed as a 'working-class hero'," she writes. (Really? By whom?)

In spoken commentary, too, Cousens can seem to have an airy disregard for detail: she has claimed, for instance, that Trump's Democrat rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, "sort of like robbed Haiti of all this stuff after the earthquake".

Sometimes, Cousens' main aim looks suspiciously like self-promotion. In a widely derided Spectator article last month about the late cartoonist Bill Leak, she wrote that he referred to her as "beautiful Daisy" and ended their only face-to-face meeting by predicting: "You'll go far, my girl."

"I'm happy to have a political discussion with people who disagree with me, because that's interesting and I don't take it personally," Cousens says. "But the psychology of the Left is different. They get very, very emotionally attached to what they believe."

At my first meeting with Cousens, she says becoming a political provocateur has lost her about a dozen friends. "It's a shame," she says, sounding not particularly despondent. And yes, she gets plenty of online abuse from strangers, but she doesn't allow that to upset her: "It's an occupational hazard."


Bettina Arndt names to shame Sydney University’s ‘free-speech bullies’

After being targeted by demonstrators at Sydney University, journalist Bettina Arndt has hit back with tactics that could force the protest leaders to give her a written apology and undertake anti-bullying training.

Arndt has lodged a formal complaint with vice-chancellor Michael Spence accusing five named students of breaching the university’s code of conduct by trying to prevent her giving a talk questioning the existence of a rape crisis on campus.

Attorney-General Christian Porter yesterday backed calls for universities to do more to protect free speech and said they were supposed to be the epicentres of free speech.

“It is a bit of a Pyrrhic victory if you have to ask governments to come in and maintain free speech at universities,” Mr Porter said. “This buck stops firstly with the universities themselves.

“Some universities do better than others so why can’t they all lift themselves to the optimal standard of enhancing free, open and civil public debate on campus,” he said.

Dr Spence defended Sydney’s University’s approach to free speech, saying a variety of views was regularly expressed. “The picture that sometimes appears in the flyers of the culture warriors — of our university as a camp of indoctrination in which free speech is inhibited — is simply unrecognisable to those who work and study here,” he writes in today’s opinion page.

“On any given day, on almost any issue, there is a diversity of views presented on campus, in the classroom, in student groups, and by organisations to whom the university provides a platform.”

If Arndt succeeds in showing student demonstrators engaged in bullying and intimidation to prevent her talk, penalties under Sydney University rules include an oral or written apology, anti-bullying training and a “management plan” that would need her agreement.

In an email to Dr Spence, Arndt wrote on Friday that she could supply witness statements and a video of the September 11 incident in which police were called when demonstrators tried to prevent her from speaking at an event organised by the student Liberal Club.

The video shows key people “encouraging protesters to block the entrance to the venue and harassing, abusing and physically intimidating students trying to attend the lecture”, she wrote.

“I am calling for action to be taken to enforce the university’s bullying policy. “I ask the university to take action against the students who demonstrated and encouraged abusive behaviour towards me and towards Liberal Club members and my audience.”

This comes soon after a similar incident at La Trobe University and a warning from former High Court chief justice Robert French that universities faced the risk of legislative intervention unless they provided a robust defence of free speech on campus.

Arndt called on Dr Spence to initiate complaint proceedings under clause 4 of the university’s code of conduct, which says students must not unreasonably impede access to lecture theatres and must not become involved in harassment or bullying.

If her complaint is upheld, clause 17 of the university’s policy on bullying, harassment and the prevention of discrimination says breaches of the policy may result in action that includes an apology and a management plan containing agreed actions by the parties.

In a separate email with Liberal Club president Jack O’Brien, Arndt asked Dr Spence to refund the $475.20 that the Liberal Club had been required to pay for security. “The security officers ended up calling in the riot squad because they were unable to protect us nor hold back the violent, abusive protesters,” they wrote.

Education Minister Dan Tehan has suggested to university vice-chancellors that campus activists should be required to pay for security but in today’s opinion page Dr Spence argues against that proposal.

Arndt told The Australian the Liberal Club had paid for security services that the university was unable to provide.


No decent campus curtails the free exchange of ideas

In an address reported yesterday, former High Court chief justice Robert French hints the attempt to shut down politically inconvenient speech on campus may meet a challenge invoking the Constitution’s implied freedom of communication. Free-spirited law students, take note.

Unfortunately, universities have pandered to the intolerant Left, enabling a politically correct orthodoxy in which competing views are pathologised as “hate speech” akin to bodily harm. Designated victim groups are accorded “safe spaces” to shelter from the injurious thought of oppressor groups.

Life is too messy and interesting to be reduced to such a crude ideology. Its narrow formula for “diversity” leaves little room for individual integrity or political dissent.

Psychologist Bettina Arndt has launched a university tour to critique claims of a rape crisis on campus. La Trobe University at first denied permission for the event, then relented. Rowdy protesters rebuffed Ms Arndt’s attempt at dialogue, seeking nothing less than to silence her.

At the University of Sydney, student organisers were told they would have to pay for extra security, which proved ineffective against disruption.

By accepting the equation between speech and harm, and imposing security costs on student organisations, universities risk giving violent activists an effective veto over speakers who challenge the PC orthodoxy.

So far, despite the difficulties, the Arndt tour has gone ahead, but the US practice of “no platforming” shows the trajectory. At the heart of Ms Arndt’s argument is the interpretation and validity of surveys of sexual assault. If she is right, university leaders have been complicit in the creation of an unnecessary climate of fear and gender suspicion on campus.

This is precisely the kind of issue where intellectual honesty requires students to be exposed to competing arguments so they can make up their own minds.

Mr French puts it well: “The scholar of the university expects vigorous debate about his or her ideas and that colleagues and students can be pushed to re-examine their own. The creation of better citizens is a by-product of educating students. That is to say, people who can take their place in public civic discourse, help to form public values and public policy, and to choose the officials who manage public affairs. This is not just about creating future leaders but responsible contributors to civic life.”

SOURCE (editorials)

Morrison’s changes of pace take game to Labor

Scott Morrison is proving to be a fast-moving target, with dramatic changes of political pace and topic giving him a fighting chance even as Bill Shorten and Labor continue to exploit the division and incalculable damage of a leadership change.

It is becoming clearer by the day that the new regime is more adept at political tactics, able to address multiple issues — large and small — while being resolute and consistent in response to Labor’s attacks.

The Prime Minister proved yesterday he can switch from vaudeville to serious policy decisions and political problem-solving while not taking his eyes off Labor. After grabbing the initiative last weekend by announcing an aged care royal commission. Morrison moved seamlessly into confronting the serious consumer issue of strawberry contamination before reinforcing his concern for drought-affected farmers by announcing help on hay trucks.

Labor had to agree with the new strawberry sabotage laws and couldn’t complain about the straw supplies for farmers.

But not content with winning the dreaded 24-hour news cycle, Morrison unveiled a $4.2 billion solution to the non-government-school funding debacle that had dogged Malcolm Turnbull and his unnecessarily abrasive education minister, Simon Birmingham.

For more than a year, the Turnbull-Birmingham Gonski funding model and gratuitous insults to Catholic educators, combined with higher fees for parents at non-government schools, had caused alarm within the Coalition and allowed the Opposition Leader to exploit Catholic discontent at the ballot box.

After a month in the job, Morrison and the new minister, Dan Tehan, solved the crisis by acting on the funding review recommendations, accepting the review’s findings that the concerns of systemic Catholic schools were justified and didn’t suggest Catholic schools were “taking 30 pieces of silver” by dealing with Labor.

Regardless of whether Turnbull or Morrison was PM, this policy and political solution couldn’t have been reached with Birmingham in place.

Morrison, behaving in the mould of Robert Menzies and John Howard, moved to reclaim the Coalition’s traditional strength on funding for non-government schools and was able to take something positive out of the leadership change.

After so long and successfully cultivating the “Catholic vote”, Labor was forced back on to its mantra of “state schools first”.

Of course, Morrison can’t escape or resist the parliamentary baiting from the Opposition Leader over the leadership change and his self-described “muppet show”. Once again, Morrison was asked why Turnbull wasn’t still PM and suffered the sideshow of Labor MPs with Muppet characters.

The new Liberal leader can’t explain his presence without dumping on the previous Liberal leader, so instead he embraces the pain and dysfunction of leadership challenge and attempts to turn the odium of “Canberra politics” back on to Shorten with claims he’s only interested in “playing games”.

Morrison’s staunch defence of Peter Dutton — now that Labor has stalled on the visa intervention allegations after damaging the Home Affairs Minister politically — was another sign the PM was going to be steadfast and not about to abandon any colleagues.


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, September 25, 2018

Bad news for Bill Shorten: Scott Morrison becomes most popular PM in years as support for Labor leader plunges in latest Newspoll

Support for Labor leader Bill Shorten has plunged in the latest Newspoll, with Scott Morrison extending his lead as the preferred prime minister.

Voters have continued to warm to Mr Morrison a month after he seized the nation's top job following the Liberal Party's brutal leadership spill.

Mr Morrison's latest approval rating is the best result for a prime minister since February 2016.

He increased his lead as the preferred prime minister to 13 points over Mr Shorten - 45 to 32 per cent.

Mr Shorten's approval fell five points while Mr Morrison's rose three points compared to the previous Newspoll.

The prime minister also came out in front on the question of which leader voters considered more authentic.

In a bad sign for Mr Shorten, 21 per cent of Labor voters also chose Mr Morrison.

But while Mr Morrison is more favoured by voters, his party is not. The Coalition lost its 41st Newspoll in a row - but there are signs of a revival in its fortunes.

Their primary vote rose two points to 36 per cent just weeks after the leadership spill. Labor's primary vote dropped three points to 39 per cent but on a two-party preferred basis, it continues to lead the coalition 54 to 46.

The poll of 1675 voters was conducted nationally for The Australian.


With Turnbull gone, it’s no longer a walkover for Shorten

Suddenly, Bill Shorten and Labor have a fight on their hands.

The ALP still is clearly favoured to move from opposition to government in the next few months, but Scott Morrison’s actions as Prime Minister are presenting difficulties for Labor and giving new hope to Liberals.

Labor was convinced it had Malcolm Turnbull’s measure and had filled its war chest with weapons based on the assumption that Peter Dutton was the likeliest alternative leader.

Morrison as a compromise leader has made it more difficult for Labor, and it’s taking time for the Opposition Leader to adjust his tactics and strategy.

Time is of the essence for both Morrison and Shorten — the Liberal leader has little time to turn around a deeply damaged and divided Coalition government, while Labor can’t afford to give Morrison any leeway and lose an “unlosable” election.

Morrison is aware of the need to show tangible proof of an improved standing in the next couple of Newspoll surveys and survive the Wentworth by-election on October 20 if he is to have any hope of winning the general election. So he is moving quickly to differentiate himself personally and politically from Turnbull.

Making quick decisions and presenting them in terms ordinary voters can appreciate and understand has become a hallmark of Morrison’s brief leadership. In the past week he has taken the initiative and called an aged-care royal commission, introduced emergency new sabotage laws to counter strawberry contamination, lifted restrictions on hay trucks delivering feed to drought-affected cattle, sought a report from the Liberal Party on parliamentary gender imbalance and, most significantly, settled the “war” with the Catholic school system — a big cause for disenchantment with Turnbull.

The settlement of the non-government school funding issue was a demonstration of Morrison’s commitment to longstanding Liberal principles — in the Menzies and Howard mould — as well as his political acumen.

He locked Labor into supporting the aged-care royal commission and the emergency food tampering laws, and neutralised Shorten’s highly successful campaign to politically enlist the Catholic education system. With his down-to-earth language and image, Morrison is earning respect from critics and working furiously to heal Liberal divisions.

The attention to language and detail includes the new reference to “our government”, a term all Liberal MPs are being encouraged to use. In the catastrophic circumstances Morrison inherited, he is doing better than expected and a lift in Coalition support is likely.

Labor’s tactics in the first month of the Morrison leadership have evolved as Shorten has adjusted to facing a new opponent. Understandably, Labor’s priority has been to exploit the extensive damage done to a government when yet another first-term prime minister is removed.

It has demanded an explanation for Turnbull’s removal; used divisive interventions from the likes of Turnbull and his former deputy Julie Bishop; continued to pursue Home Affairs Minister Dutton over his exercise of ministerial discretion on visas; promoted its superior record on female parliamentary representation; unveiled more policies; highlighted Labor’s unity and stability; and attacked Morrison’s record as treasurer.

This wealth of issues conceals two traps Labor must avoid: hubris, in considering victory to be inevitable; and overplaying the Liberal divisions to a point of turning them into a game that reflects poorly on Shorten.

There were a few ins­tances this week that suggested complacency — which so far Shorten has been careful to avoid — inexorably is creeping into Labor thinking. Announcing a double-plus policy for Labor of improving superannuation for women on lower incomes, which underlined Labor’s strength on women’s ­issues and highlighted Morrison’s unpopular superannuation chan­ges in the 2016 budget, Shorten referred to what Labor would do when “we get into government”. An assumption of victory is poison in the electorate, which never wants to be taken for granted.

The second sign of hubris was trivialising the prime ministerial changes, with two Labor MPs cuddling Muppet figures — including Fozzie Bear amid cries of “Waka! Waka!” — being ejected from parliament. Morrison used the juvenile display to once again embrace his use of Muppet imagery to apologise to the public for the Liberal leadership chaos and accused Labor of “playing Canberra games”.

Oppositions can get away with a few stunts that governments can’t, but there is always a danger of taking them too far — such as the cardboard cutout of Kevin Rudd in question time — and the ALP needs to ratchet back its stuffed-toy onslaught or risk a backlash against all politicians.

Understandably, every parliamentary sitting day Shorten and his colleagues have asked at least once why Turnbull is still no longer prime minister. From dire experience Labor knows this is a question the public wants answered, and it is one the new leader cannot honestly answer.

Labor has linked this with internal Liberal bickering over bullying, amid encouragement from Turnbull and Bishop to pursue Dutton and keep open the prospect of forcing the minister to the backbench or out of parliament and bringing down the Morrison government.

In the end, the Labor and Greens’ move for a no-confidence motion in Dutton over his intervention on visas failed to budge Dutton or Morrison but perpetuated the sense of parliamentary instability and the precariousness of a minority government.

Shorten believes time will be Morrison’s biggest problem and would dearly love to force an early election or a defeat on the parliamentary floor for the Prime Minister, no matter what the issue. At the same time, Shorten describes significant differences within Labor over trade and tariffs as “debate”, which shouldn’t be “confused with disagreement and disunity”.

“Let’s not confuse debate and difference of opinion with disun­ity. I mean, I’m on to my third prime minister in my five-year stint … That’s disunity,” Shorten said this week, comfortable in his own leadership as Morrison desperately tried to muffle internal criticism.

Shorten and opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen also worked to positively extend and defend Labor’s policy offerings while trying to negate Morrison’s record as treasurer.

Labor’s extension of commonwealth-funded superannuation payments for people on commonwealth paid parental leave did not come at a huge cost — $400 million across the four-year budget estimates — but has appeal for low-paid women and older women, and addresses the issue of the growing number of older women facing homelessness. “It is absolutely unconscionable that today in Australia the fast-growing group of people moving into homelessness are single, older women,” Shorten ­declared.

Bowen also linked Labor’s proposed negative gearing changes to addressing housing affordability and derided Morrison’s claims this would “torpedo” the housing market.

“It was only a couple of years ago he was arguing within his party to rein in the ‘excesses’ in negative gearing, only to be rolled by his cabinet,” Bowen said.

Labor’s campaign against the “Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison” government is about maximising disunity and destabilisation within the Coalition, pressing for an early election, offering a united, disciplined alternative, proffering policy, agreeing with good ideas such as the aged-care royal commission or steps to combat food contamination, and describing the new Prime Minister as the architect of all the unpopular decisions of the old prime minister.

Shorten is not letting up — but Morrison is not going to allow the policy hiatus that crippled Turnbull’s momentum when he replaced Tony Abbott.


Coalition to examine Labor's pay gap plan

A Labor plan to force companies to publicly disclose how much they pay women compared to men will be closely examined by the coalition.

The sentiment comes as a leading business group has expressed concerns the proposal could heap extra regulations on Australian companies.

Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer says the policy is an "interesting idea" but she isn't sure it would be effective and believes it may cause division.

"We think it's best though to unite people rather than divide them and we have to be very conscious of the regulatory burden that would be imposed on businesses," she told ABC radio on Monday.

The opposition on Sunday announced the election commitment to make Australian companies with more than 1000 employees disclose their gender pay gaps. Similar public reporting is underway in Belgium and the United Kingdom.

Ms O'Dwyer said it was "early days" in terms of overseas data, but the government would closely examine the results.

The gender pay gap has hit a record low of 14.5 per cent under the coalition, according to reporting by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the minister said. "It's still too high but it's certainly lower than it was and we need to look at practical measures for how we can get it lower," she said.

Ms O'Dwyer will be delivering the first economic security statement for women in coming months, which will address practical measures that can address the issue.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson said more employers than ever are taking action on the gender pay gap, though there remains work to do. But businesses will be closely looking at Labor's plan, he said, with ACCI concerned Labor's plans could be burdensome. "Employers already have substantial reporting obligations in this area, so we need to think carefully about whether or not we should add further regulation," he said.

A Shorten Labor government would also change the Fair Work Act to prohibit pay secrecy clauses, which prevent employees from discussing their salaries.

Mr Pearson said there were reasons why pay may be kept confidential, including employers' wishes. "We would be wary about moves to remove that confidentiality because it does risk people being put under pressure to reveal their pay when they may not want to for very good reasons," he said.


Leyonhjelm wins on income-based school funding

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm has welcomed the Government’s decision to fund non-government schools based on the income of parents, rather than the average wealth of the parents’ neighbours.

“For several years I have been outlining to education ministers how funding for private schools can and should be based on the income of parents rather than the average wealth of the parents’ neighbours.  I have also outlined how taxpayer privacy can be maintained.

“I am delighted that the Government has finally worked it out.

“Income-based funding improves the degree to which school funding is needs-based.  The schools educating poor kids will get more than schools educating rich kids.

“The fact that the additional funding favours non-government schools over government schools also enhances needs-based funding.

“Currently a non-government school whose students are poorer and more disadvantaged than a government school receives only 80 per cent of the funding of the government school.  Any move that whittles away at this baseless bias against non-government schools is great.

“The Government should go further and completely eliminate this rule. A non‑government school whose students are poorer and more disadvantaged than a government school should never receive less taxpayer-funding just because it is a non-government school.

“The Government should also start funding government schools based on the income of parents, and rich parents who send their children to government schools need to be charged meaningful school fees.

“This is fair, and would achieve more education bang for the taxpayer buck.

“The Government is moving towards the Liberal Democrats’ policy of schooling vouchers that are sector-blind, means‑tested and needs-based.  It should go all the way.”

Media release

Australia caught between the two behemoths, China and the USA

Tensions between the two behemoths of the global economy show no signs of abating and could well escalate alarmingly in coming months. Though any negotiation involving Donald Trump is inherently unpredictable, no one should expect a cease fire any time soon.

And the increasing hostilities could gravely damage the ­global trade system that has underpinned Australian prosperity, according to federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who warns that the dispute “has the potential to undermine the consensus on trade which has been so valuable to ­Australia”.

“For 20 years we’ve had co-­operation on the multilateral trade agenda and the World Trade Organisation has been the key forum for negotiation and enforcement. This has been of great benefit to Australia. Now we are seeing retaliation and tariff barriers being imposed outside of the WTO.”

This week the US President imposed a 10 per cent tariff on $US200 billion ($274bn) worth of Chinese exports to the US, which rate is set to rise to 25 per cent by the end of the year. In retaliation the Chinese imposed tariffs on $US60bn worth of US exports to China. Trump has threatened a further round of tariffs on China’s remaining exports to the US.

In 2017 the US sold $US130bn worth of goods to China whereas Beijing sold nearly four times that much — $US505bn — to the US, leaving a staggering bilateral US trade deficit with China of $US375bn. As a result, Beijing has far less room to retaliate with tariffs against US tariffs, although it could use regulatory means to hit US companies operating in China.

Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese tech conglomerate, Alibaba, says the dispute could last 20 years and sees no short-term solution.

In imposing the tariffs, Trump cited not only the trade deficit but also accusations of intellectual property theft and coercion that the US has long levelled at China.

The EU’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom says she agrees with some of the US complaints but not with the method of retaliation. “The message is that ultimately tariffs lead to less jobs because they lead to higher costs”

Frydenberg says the Australian government must work at “ensuring, as far as we can, that our trade partners stay committed to a rules-based system”. He says that in relation to China the US has “concerns around intellectual property, the role of state-owned enterprises and the trade deficit”.

Although he would offer the same advice to any country, his response to the Trump administration’s moves is encapsulated in the following: “The message is that ultimately tariffs lead to less jobs because they lead to higher costs.”

However, the Treasurer also has a message that applies particularly to China: “It doesn’t matter what the country is, there needs to be a genuine respect for intellectual property and, ultimately, a failure to protect IP is counter-productive because it’s a disincentive to future investment. From Australia’s point of view, we want to see all sides adhere to intellectual property rules. China is becoming more aware of the fact that if they don’t have good IP protection, that could impinge on foreign investment.”

Naturally, Frydenberg will not be drawn on whether he accepts the proposition that Beijing routinely steals other countries’ IP. However, every relevant Western agency and every senior Western official privately acknowledges this to be the case. Only the Americans are strong enough to say it publicly.

Woodward cites an official US study that concluded Beijing had stolen more than $US600bn worth of US intellectual property.

Woodward writes: “The Chinese broke every rule. They stole everything, from tech companies’ trade secrets to pirated software, film and music, and counterfeited luxury goods and pharmaceuticals. They bought parts of companies and stole the technology.

“They stole intellectual property from American companies that had been required to move their technology to China to operate there. Cohn considered the Chinese dirty rotten scoundrels.”

Frydenberg’s assessment is that the US-China trade dispute has so far not had serious effects on the performance of the global economy, but that this could well change.

The total additional tariffs imposed so far, the Treasurer says, have been confined to about 2 per cent of world trade, “so there has been little or no macro-economic effect so far”.

“Australia has avoided direct fallout by avoiding (US) steel ­tariffs.”

However, in a rejection of some of the hysterical anti-Trump rhetoric of recent days, he also expresses complete confidence in the US economy under Trump.

“The American economy remains a global powerhouse and a force for good globally, and of great benefit to Australia,” he says.

Frydenberg adds that even after the imposition of the new Trump tariffs, the US economy remains the most open, most free and most free-trading big economy in the world.

This is a critical reality check on the sometimes hysterical Australian debate about Trump.

At a World Economic Forum meeting in China this week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang defended the global trading system and condemned unilateral attempts to change it. He and other Chinese leaders have said that the world faces a choice between globalisation and unilateralism.

Without mentioning the US by name, Chinese leaders have presented themselves as free traders and the US as protectionist.

But as Frydenberg incontrovertibly points out, the US remains a vastly more free-trade economy than China.

Not only that, given the record of Chinese violations of intellectual property rights, the stated desire of the government in Beijing to achieve greater rates of self-sufficiency in key domestic markets, and the highly restrictive rules surrounding foreign investment in China, it is Beijing far more than Washington that has put the global trading system under strain.

But Australia has a stake in both economic relationships and risks being caught up not just in a trade dispute between our key ­security partner and an economic partner, but also in fact between our two closest economic partners.

But the US is also by a vast distance the biggest foreign investor in Australia

The Treasurer, who next month will attend his first G20 ­finance ministers’ meeting, will, like most senior global figures, seek to keep the situation as calm as possible.

He remains positive overall about the prospects for global economic growth but identifies escalating trade tensions as one of four potential impediments to global growth.

The other three are slowing Chinese economic growth, the potential for inflation and higher interest rates in the US, and “jitters” in emerging markets.

All these factors are also potentially risky for Australia.

The global economy in 2017 recorded its fastest growth since 2011, but the OECD in its economic outlook published on Thursday suggests that growth would come back a bit, and nominates trade tensions as one of the downside risks for the global economy.

Frydenberg says there were three factors that saved Australia in the GFC.

“The first was the pristine balance sheet that John Howard and Peter Costello left for the nation. There was money in the bank when the GFC came along.

“The second was that China’s demand for our exports continued to be strong throughout that ­period.

“And the third was that we had a stable financial system. Our banks were not exposed to low document loans, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in the US. Our financial system today is stronger than ever before.”


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, September 24, 2018

Australia set to run on 100% renewable energy within 15 years

How the Green/Left can blind themselves to the obvious is a wonder. Do they seriously think that any population would settle for an electricity supply that only worked when the sun shone and the wind blew?  Yet that is what we would have with 100% renewable energy.  "Renewables" will always need to be backed to 100% of demand by conventional generators

Australia is set to reach its target of 100% renewable energy by the early 2030’s, provided current uptake of renewable energy options in the residential and commercial sectors remains strong.

The Australian renewables energy industry will install more than 10 gigawatts of new solar and wind power before the end of 2019 and if that rate is maintained, Australia would reach 50% of its renewables target in 2025.

The reduction target, set under the famed Paris Agreement into global climate change, forms part of a commitment made by Australia in 2015 to cut carbon emissions nationwide by up to 28% of 2005 levels by the year 2030.

It represents reductions of around 52% in emissions per capita and around 65% in the emissions intensity of the economy between 2005 and 2030.

Homeowners and industry have embraced the renewables challenge so well that it now seems possible the nation will reach the equivalent of 100% renewables for its electricity supply well before then.

A report by the Energy Exchange Institute at Australian National University, says merely keeping up the current rate of renewable energy deployment – roughly divided between solar photovoltaics (PVs), wind farms and rooftop solar PVs – would meet the country’s entire emissions reduction task for the whole economy by 2025.
New global energy capacity additions 2015 2017 solar wind
Net new global generation capacity additions in 2015 and 2017.

That doesn’t take into account recent announcements at State level to make solar a more attractive option to consumers.


University free speech charters must be more than mere words

Federal education minister Dan Tehan has proposed that Australian universities be required to adopt new codes to protect freedom of thought and expression.

This is in response to the growing campus activism against free expression; typified by last week’s disgraceful scenes at Sydney University, when left-wing students violently tried to stop social commentator Bettina Arndt from making a speech questioning the idea of a ‘rape culture’ at universities.

Tehan’s proposal would be a timely initiative to help our universities avoid the kind of full-blown free speech crisis occurring in universities in North America.

But to prove effective and uphold the principles of rational inquiry and civil debate that all universities should stand for, university freedom codes or charters cannot be toothless tigers—all platitudes and no action.

Universities that don’t defend freedom of thought and expression should have some of their $17 billion in public funding cut by the federal government, as is starting to happen in other countries.

We simply cannot rely on universities to defend free speech when the anti-free speech culture in contemporary universities is so deeply mired in political correctness and identity politics.

At Sydney university, more than 100 academics have opposed working with the Ramsay Foundation to teach students about the history of Western civilisation because this would supposedly violate the university’s commitment to “diversity and inclusion.”

This is the same rationale offered at American universities to justify ‘no platforming’ certain speakers.

So-called controversial thinkers and writers are denied the right to speak on campus because they are accused of allegedly promoting racist, patriarchial or homo- or trans-phobic ideas claimed as ‘offensive’ or ‘hurtful’ to some students.

The dire implications of this for free speech prompted the University of Chicago to conduct a special inquiry into freedom thought and expression in 2015.

The resultant Stone Committee Report—which Tehan’s university freedom charters should take a leaf from—rightly argued that concerns about students being exposed to ideas they disagree with or deem offensive should never justify shutting down free and open inquiry, because universities should guarantee “the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.”

Tehan should also look closely at the new approach to defending free speech on campus in the Canadian province of Ontario, which requires universities to develop free speech policies as a condition of taxpayer-funding.

More importantly, the Ontario government’s commitment to promoting free speech on campus not only has teeth, but also practical bite: universities that do not develop, implement, and comply with free speech policies will face funding cuts.

It might be pitiful to think that universities need to sign up to a freedom charter—let alone be threatened with financial penalties—to defend freedom of thought and expression. And this is not to advocate that government uses public funds to censor universities.  Instead it is about universities fulfilling their traditional obligations as institutions of intellectual freedom.

But if we are going to address the anti-free speech culture on campuses, the government—on behalf of all citizens and all taxpayers—needs to hold universities to account to protect the free speech of all.


Liberals in bid to reverse collapse in support from older voters

Scott Morrison has moved to ­reverse a collapse in support for the Coalition among senior Australians with his decision to call a royal commission into the aged-care sector in addition to jettisoning Abbott-era plans to raise the pension age to 70.

Coalition sources say internal polling and focus group research confirms a weakness in support among seniors — a voter group that was generously rewarded under the Howard government and which became its strongest bulwark of support.

The Coalition has always held a dominant share of the vote among senior Australians, while Labor has consistently led among younger voters. However, the ­Coalition’s margin among older voters has narrowed significantly over the past five years.

Newspoll does not separately identify the over-65 age group, but among the over-50s, primary support for the Coalition peaked at 54 per cent under the Gillard government, when the impact of the carbon tax was being felt, having held at just under 50 per cent under the Howard government.

Support for the Coalition among this age group dropped to 44 per cent after the Abbott government’s “tough medicine” 2014-15 budget. It now languishes at ­between 40 and 43 per cent.

Malcolm Turnbull moved to shore up support in this age group last month when he announced the retention of the pensioners ­energy supplement, worth about $366 a year to single pensioners. Morrison’s decision to probe the aged-care sector and keep the ­retirement age at 67 has intensified those efforts.

Liberal backbencher Ann Sudmalis, who last week announced she would leave parliament at the next election in response to ­alleged bullying at a local level, highlights the government’s vulnerability to a backlash among older voters.

The census shows 34 per cent of voters in her electorate of Gilmore, which covers a stretch of the NSW south coast including Batemans Bay and Nowra, are aged 65 years or over, far in excess of the 23 per cent national average. Department of Social Services data shows that almost a quarter of Gilmore voters receive the Age Pension. Once a safe Coalition seat, Sudmalis now holds it by just 0.7 per cent. Labor analysts have the seat chalked into their column.

The senior vote is increasingly important. Since the 2013 election, the number of people on the electoral roll has increased by 10 per cent but the number of voters aged over 65 years has risen by 17 per cent. Senior voters represent about 23 per cent of the electorate, while policies directly affecting them also influence the votes of people in their 50s who are planning for retirement.

The Abbott government’s first budget, in 2014, came as a tremendous shock to older Australians. In pursuit of the senior Australians’ vote, the Howard government had legislated generous indexation, setting the Age Pension at 25 per cent of male total average weekly earnings. Wages almost always rise faster than consumer prices, and men’s wages rise faster, and are set higher, than women’s. The Rudd government raised the benchmark to 28 per cent.

However, the Abbott budget ordered an immediate shift to indexation based on the consumer price index, which abandoned any relationship with earnings.

ANU economist Peter Whiteford estimated that over the time scale of the government’s intergenerational reports, the value of the pension would drop to just 16 per cent of male earnings.

To make matters worse, the Abbott budget proposed raising the pension age from the 67 years to 70 years.

With 2.5 million recipients of the Age Pension, or about 15 per cent of the electorate (and the measure affecting a further 1.5 million people on disability and other pension payments), the Coalition government was taking electoral pain for very little gain. Although the change would make a huge difference in the long term, the measure was only saving $450 million over the budget period.

As social services minister from late 2014, Morrison took on the task of devising an alternative saving to the indexation cut, which had no chance of winning support in the Senate. His cleverly crafted response retained the long-established pension indexation, but ­adjusted the rate at which a part pension would be withdrawn under the assets test.

There would be an increase in the pension for those with low assets and a cut for those with high assets, apart from the family home.

The Department of Social Services calculated that 170,000 people would get more, while 320,000 would get less. Figures given to an estimates hearings this year suggest the initial impact hit 50,000 more people than expected.

Chief executive of the Council of the Aged Ian Yates said the first Abbott budget and the asset test changes cost the government political support. “There was a significant slippage of the older primary vote at that time,” he says.

Newspoll ratings among the 50-plus age group rose sharply following the ouster of Abbott by Malcolm Turnbull in 2015. They again topped 50 per cent. But Morrison, who was appointed treasurer following the leadership coup, made the reform of superannuation an early priority. The aim of superannuation was to reduce the 80 per cent of the aged population dependent on the pension rather than wealth creation, he said. “It is not an estate planning tool. It is to help people have a pool of retirement savings that they can draw down to live on,” he said.

His superannuation reforms were deeply unpopular with the Liberal Party base, imposing limits on the amount of non-concessional contributions and placing a $1.6 million cap on what could be transferred into a tax-free retirement-phase fund. Although share investors are typically strong ­Coalition supporters, analysis by Australian National University professor Ian McAllister found that in the 2016 election, the holders of self-managed superannuation funds were no more likely to vote for the Coalition than for Labor. “Controversial changes in Liberal policy effectively neutralised the electoral advantages that the party would otherwise have enjoyed on the issue,” he wrote.

Funding changes affecting the 65,000 aged-care residents add to the picture of a government seeking savings from a section of the population unable to lift their incomes to compensate. The reality is that the 2016-17 budget, saving $1.2bn, echoed similar moves under the Gillard government.

COTA’s Yates emphasises that Morrison has been responsive to the needs of senior Australians. This year’s budget included a package of measures to help older Australians remain in the workforce — an unusual social policy initiative for a treasurer.

Yet McAllister believes the damage has been done and Morrison’s efforts to cauterise the loss of votes will be ineffective. He suspects many of the Coalition votes among seniors have gone to One Nation, particularly in Queensland. “It has gone on for too long and people are not listening.’’

The Coalition is hoping Labor's plan to stop cash refunds of dividend imputation credits will help it turn the tide. Labor is untroubled. Its officials note the Coalition campaigned hard on the dividend imputation policy in the Longman by-election. But on Bribie ­Island in the electorate, where voters aged over 65 years represent 48 per cent of voters, booths showed an 11 per cent swing from the Coalition and a 4 per cent gain by Labor.


Scott Morrison’s marketing campaign targets the pain points

We have an election coming. And this time it’s different — our sitting prime minister is a marketing man.

A simple campaign strategy is emerging. Stripped down, this strategy is systematically to go through all the pain points of the Coalition out there in voter land and remove them. This is more than barnacle scraping because these pain points are not just slowing down the good ship ­Coalition — the ship is taking on water after a bloody mutiny.

However, once you remove the pain points, you take the oxygen from Labor on policy criticism. And once you do all of that, what this election comes down to is a battle between two personalities, Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten. And we know what the polls say about that.

If this sounds crude, look at what the Morrison government has been addressing.

First, the drought, a particular pain point for the Nationals, whose support Morrison desperately needs after the bitter personal spat between Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull.

Next, ditching the hugely ­unpopular big company tax cuts, an albatross weighing heavier as each day of royal commission scrutiny passes. Enter Scott “Cry Me a River” Morrison, the man who put the levy on the banks.

Third, electricity prices, perhaps the single-most critical pain point to address in a campaign. Enter Angus “Down Down” Taylor, the new energy minister who now only has two targets: price and reliability. Emissions are not a pain point.

Then there is the royal commission into financial services in itself, which the Coalition fought off for so long: clearly in hindsight the wrong call. When he responds to Kenneth Hayne’s interim report next Friday, ­expect the PM to deliver at least as much theatre as counsel Rowena Orr has manufactured.

Fifth, the PM ups the stakes by announcing a new royal commission into the elderly and nursing homes, nipping in the bud the growing anguish of baby boomers and their parents, and getting in ahead of Labor. The government has also ditched its zombie measure of raising the retirement age. That’s not a bad pitch to boomers, particularly if you toss in a robust scare campaign against Labor on franking credits and negative gearing.

At number six, Morrison has now quelled the Catholic school funding issue, worth every cent in campaign terms.

There will be other pragmatic decisions to come, many pitched at delivering greater fairness­ ­between haves and have nots. Certainly, Cassandra Goldie at ACOSS is seizing the day: her joint call with Deloitte’s Chris Richardson for a $75 a week rise in Newstart is a strong candidate for a policy change that received no love in the May budget. But these are different times.

If Team Morrison can rid ­itself of the key electoral pain points, then the Morrison-Shorten face-off may be troubling for Labor. Turnbull versus Shorten opened up all manner of class-warfare opportunities that no longer are in play with the boy from the Shire.

A brilliant display of Team Morrison’s marketing deftness was the strawberry scandal, a genuine crisis for growers and a disturbing new threat of economic terrorism. The timing of the announcement by the PM and Attorney-General Chris­tian Porter to come down hard on these terrorist “grubs” with 15-year jail terms completely overwhelmed Labor’s new policy around getting rid of the gender gap through super contributions during maternity leave.

Now you’d think that at a time when the Morrison government is under fire for bullying, women are jumping overboard and the PM’s own directive for a woman in Wentworth went ignored, Labor’s announcement would have cut deep, but no. On his way to question time on Wednesday, Morrison did a walking, talking flawless piece to camera on strawberries worthy of any media professional, now sitting on the PM’s Twitter.


ABC’s undergraduate-style bias goes off the charter

Imagine if you had been stranded on an island for the past few years with nothing to watch, listen to or read from but Australia’s public broadcaster.

You would be under the false apprehension that our navy tortured asylum-seekers who were then raped on Nauru. You would think the people-smuggling trade was impossible to stop and that if boats were turned back there would be a conflict with Indonesia. You would think climate change was the greatest threat to the country, region and the world, and that it was already making our lives worse; on the bright side you would have faith that a carbon tax, emissions trading scheme or national energy guarantee would put an end to droughts, floods and bushfires while saving the Great Barrier Reef. You might be under the impression that our dams were dry and $12 billion of desalination plants were supplying us with water.

For a moment, you would have believed that the Donald Trump “nightmare” ended on the day he lost the election. But now you would be confused as to how he fired up conflicts on the Korean peninsula and in Iran without any hostilities eventuating.

There is a good chance you would be unaware of the US’s economic recovery but you would know the ins and outs of every crackpot allegation about Russian interference in American politics. Julia Gillard and Hillary Clinton would rank among your pantheon of political winners and role models. Profit and revenue would be interchangeable business terms and you might not comprehend that businesses must recoup losses before paying tax.

The Liberal Party coup that toppled Tony Abbott would stand as an example of a sorely needed and democratically orthodox leadership switch while the felling of Malcolm Turnbull would rank with The Dismissal as a repudiation of all that was acceptable in political affairs. While you would recognise Abbott as the “most destructive” politician of our time, you would see Turnbull as a victim who was knifed for no apparent reason. Still, that confusion would have ended this week when you heard that the real reason we changed prime ministers was because a couple of media moguls decided they wanted to — all you need the ABC to tell you next is why they did it, and how.

This update falls a long way short of an exhaustive list of the public broadcaster’s litany of errors and unrepented deceptions. To be fair, all journalists and media organisations make their mistakes. It is the unrelenting and undisclosed ideological bent of the ABC’s errors that is so infuriating. The lack of intellectual integrity is less than we might demand of ­undergraduates.

The transgressions are so regular that to consume ABC news and current affairs is to enter an ­alternative reality of facts and expectations. Take the 7.30 interview this week with West Australian businesswoman Catherine Marriott, who had levelled allegations of sexual harassment against former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. Leigh Sales declined to press her for any details about her claim. Allowed — nay, encouraged — to smear Joyce’s reputation without even a hint of what allegedly transpired, Marriott was not interrogated about why she did nothing for almost 1½ years before lodging a complaint with the Nationals in February this year, when Joyce was at the eye of a political storm over his personal life.

There was no scrutiny, no natural justice, no accountability — just a free opportunity to claim victim status and attack someone else’s reputation. Issues around the reporting of alleged sexual transgressions and how we treat alleged victims are difficult and sensitive, to be sure, but common decency and fairness demand that public allegations need to be sufficiently detailed to allow rebuttal, provide context and be tested.

An ABC News Twitter account this week circulated a picture of a delegation of six men and two women at Parliament House with the comment: “A ­visiting Saudi Arabian delegation has a higher proportion of women than the Coalition.” Really, the Coalition falls behind the Saudis on women’s rights? What an ­insult, not just to the Coalition, but to the women who suffer in that country. The ABC later deleted the tweet.

On Radio National’s Big Ideas this week, Paul Barclay spoke with US journalist David Neiwert, ­author of Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. “I think he’s frankly too stupid to be an ideologue,” Neiwert said of Trump. And so it went.

Barclay invoked Germany in the 1930s and talked about white extremist terrorism as the greatest threat in the US at a time we are “obsessed by Islamic terrorism”. According to Neiwert, “fake news and alternative facts” were all part of a plan to create “chaos” to “introduce fear” so that “fear induces this authoritarian response”. He said there was a “crisis for democracy”, overlooking the fact Trump was elected democratically.

This taxpayer-funded media world sure is a topsy-turvy one, full of conspiracies, evil far-right groups, climate threats, misogynist conservatives and governments talking up terrorism to increase their power and authority. It is what you might hear at a meeting of university activists, a GetUp sub-branch or perhaps a Greens protest. Thousands of adults on dozens of television, radio and online platforms propagate this stuff at our expense, 24/7.

Still, the story this week about Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes dictating the prime ministership of this country takes the cake. It was laughable when it led ABC TV news bulletins on Tuesday night, extraordinary when it was presented prominently online and humiliating that the reports came not from some eager kid but from the ABC’s political editor, Andrew Probyn.

Apart from the teenage silliness of pretending that Murdoch and Stokes could just phone a few underlings to create a false media dynamic and force serious journalists to conjure up stories and commentary that then swung the votes of more than 40 MPs to change the leadership of the Liberal Party, Probyn had obvious facts wrong. In these pages during the week I detailed how his claim that this newspaper had been “unabashed in its advocacy for an end to the Turnbull prime ministership” was not only wrong but the opposite to what transpired.

Across three years of the Turnbull prime ministership and about 936 editorial columns, Probyn will not find a single editorial calling for this outcome.

Nothing else in Probyn’s piece rang true either, detailing as it did third-hand accounts of alleged conversations that only could have taken place after the leadership trauma was already playing out, and ­ignoring all the events that led to that denouement.

This was the sort of conspiracy theory that belongs on Twitter or intheGreen Left Weekly. It is not the sort of reporting that can be taken seriously or should be promoted to grown-ups. Naive, jaundiced and implausible, it also was wrong. To lead major bulletins with this was to seriously mislead the public and plunge the ABC’s reputation to new lows.

But it soon got worse. Stokes denied the communications, comments and interventions attributed to him. Probyn’s piece served only to demonstrate how the ABC’s reaction to Turnbull’s demise has started to mirror the reaction of liberal media in the US to the election of Trump: indignant denial triggering irrational and misleading reportage.

The worry is that this goes much deeper than one ill-advised and poorly edited piece by Probyn. It is the latest in a series of ideologically convenient false reports. Intriguingly, it acted as an irresistible lure, drawing praise and endorsement from other journalists and demonstrating how their political bent distorts their journalistic scepticism. Radio National host Hugh Riminton declared it was “good, detailed reporting” and another RN voice, Paul Bongiorno, retweeted the story, claiming it shed “more light on dark places”.

MediaWatch host Paul Barry retweeted the story with this recommendation: “Read this and weep. Australia’s media moguls plotting who should be PM. Important story from ABC News and Andrew Probyn.” Even ABC News director Gaven Morris pushed the story around, noting that Probyn had “worked for these two guys” and that his version of events was “worth a read”.

Interviewing senator Eric Abetz on Melbourne ABC radio, Jon Faine said, “We’ve got Scott Morrison as Prime Minister ­because Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes decided.”

Oh dear. The Left loves conspiracy theories. Gore Vidal said he wasn’t so much a conspiracy theorist as a conspiracy analyst. The ABC ought to be wary of conspiracies lest its wishful thinking reveals too much about a corporate view of the world that, according to its charter, should not exist.


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