Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Ramsay Centre and University of Wollongong sign Memorandum of Understanding

The anti-Western attitudes that are so common on the Left meant that moves to establish a centre for the study of Western Civilization were derailed by protesters at one university after another.  So it is heartening that one well established university has bucked Leftist censorship

AS part of a philanthropic gift to the Humanities in Australia, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Wollongong (UOW), to fund a new BA degree in Western Civilisation, and a related scholarship program.

This is the first university partnership for the Centre, which was created with an endowment from the late Paul Ramsay AO, founder of Ramsay Health Care. The Centre seeks to advance education through study and discussion of Western civilisation, including through university partnerships. It is currently in discussion with several other universities, including within the Group of Eight.

Worth upwards of $50 million over 8 years, the partnership will also fund 150 undergraduate scholarships, and the hiring of world-class educators.

We are delighted to be partnering with the University of Wollongong. The negotiations have been conducted in a highly collegiate and mutually respectful manner over the last twelve months. Together we are excited about the wonderful opportunity for students in the Humanities this partnership presents.

The BA (Western Civilisation) will comprise 16 newly created subjects, leaving room for students to take an outside major or double degree. Students will study the great texts of western civilisation in small groups.

We have always said that the success of the degree would depend on the quality of the teaching and UOW attaches great importance to teaching standards and quality.

UOW’s Western Civilisation program will be directed by Professor Daniel Hutto who is a gifted and passionate educator, committed to hiring world-class scholars and teachers into the program.

Students will benefit from UOW’s emphasis on teacher quality and student engagement. In 2018 the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) ranked UOW as the number one NSW university. It also ranked UOW as NSW’s best university in eight study areas including the humanities and law.

The University of Wollongong is a university on the rise, ranked equal 10th in Australia in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University rankings and 30th in the world in the Times Higher Education Young University rankings.

For more information on the centre please visit www.ramsaycentre.org

Media release: contact Sarah Switzer sarah.switzer@ramsaycentre.org

Malaysia says Australia’s Jerusalem decision is ‘humiliating’ and ‘premature’

PM Morrison made a very balanced announcement that included recognition of Palestinian claims but compromise is alien to Muslims

Malaysia has come out strongly against the Australian government’s move to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling the decision “premature” and a “humiliation to the Palestinians”.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it’s a decision for Australia, and wants the nation’s new position to become an election issue if Labor won’t support it.

Mr Morrison confirmed the foreign policy change on Saturday, which Labor has suggested it could reserve if it wins government in 2019.

The prime minister says Opposition Leader Bill Shorten needs to make the case for such a reversal before Australians vote.

“He will have to outline to the Australian community why he would want to now reverse that position and step Australia back from what should be, I think, a very strong stand of support for Israel,” he told reporters in Canberra earlier this week.

A decision on the capital came after the government flouted the idea of moving its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in October, ahead of a crucial by-election in Wentworth.

It drew criticism from political rivals as a cynical ploy to buy votes in the electorate, which has a large Jewish population.

The step also drew rebukes from South East Asian trading partners, who feared Australia wading into the multi-generational political quagmire could fuel unrest.

The government now says it won’t move its embassy until a two-state solution is reached, at which time it will also recognise East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital.

But Australia will establish a defence and trade office in Jerusalem and will start looking for an appropriate site for an embassy there.

The Malaysian foreign ministry expressed its strong opposition to the changes in a statement on Sunday.

“This announcement, made before the settlement of a two-state solution, is premature and a humiliation to the Palestinians and their struggle for the right to self-determination,” the ministry said.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has called the shift in foreign policy a “humiliating backdown” after the coalition’s announcement during the dying days of its Wentworth campaign.

“We’ve seen a complex debate derailed by reckless and foolish behaviour,” he told reporters in Adelaide on Saturday.

Labor believes Jerusalem should remain recognised as the capital of both Israel and Palestine until the final stages of negotiations on a two-state solution. Israel’s foreign ministry commended the move as a step in the right direction, while Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the announcement was born of Australian “petty domestic politics”.

Mr Morrison has defended the new position, saying it was time to call out the “rancid stalemate” in progress towards a two-state solution. A delayed multibillion-dollar trade deal with Indonesia is expected to be on shaky ground as a result of the announcement.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir, noted that Australia had not moved its embassy to Jerusalem and called on all members of the United Nations to recognise a Palestinian state “based on the principle of two-state solutions”.


Revenue surge puts Coalition $30bn in the black

The fruit of conservative government

An unexpected budget bonanza has doubled the projected sur­pluses over the next four years to more than $30 billion in a dramatic improvement to the bottom line in what the Coalition will today claim is the best set of numbers since the final year of the Howard-Costello government.

The Australian understands that next year’s long-awaited ­return to surplus for 2019-20 will be revised up in today’s budget update from a wafer thin $2.2bn to just over $4bn following significant cuts in spending and higher company tax revenues.

This is forecast to snowball over the current forward estimates to reach accumulated surpluses of $30bn by 2021-22, which is twice the projected aggregate of $15.3bn revealed in the last budget.

The turnaround for the government, which inherited $123bn in cumulative deficits from the previous Labor governments when it came to office in 2013, paves the way for an unexpected and sizeable war chest ahead of the April 2 budget and the May election, which could be used for further tax relief.

The mid-year economic and fiscal outlook will reveal radically lower spending numbers this ­financial year. which are believed to be worth up to $9bn and include major savings in welfare payments.

The Australian understands this includes $1.1bn in additional savings from fewer dole payments due to high employment growth and people going from welfare and into work. This is on top of the existing savings of $721 million over the forward estimates ­revealed in the May budget. Josh Frydenberg will confirm that the budget deficit in 2018-19 will be at its lowest level since 2007-08 — the last time a budget surplus was recorded.

The Treasurer will announce the expected budget deficit for the current 2018-19 year of $14.4bn will be cut by more than half, in line with monthly financial statements that have shown significantly higher revenue and improved spending restraint.

The Australian understands the deficit for the current year could come in as low as $5bn, which will deliver the higher-than-projected return to surplus next year.

The shortfall in welfare spending is likely to cover the cost of new spending announcements since the May budget, including the school funding package, costed at $4.6bn over a decade, and the GST deal for Western Australia, which could cost up to $9bn over a decade. Analysts expect the strength of tax revenue will give the government the latitude to spend up to $9bn a year in tax cuts or new spending programs ahead of next year’s election, although major new commitments are not expected in the budget update.

“As the Prime Minister has made clear, next year we will ­deliver a budget surplus — the first in a decade,” Mr Frydenberg said ahead of the update.

“This will be achieved without increasing taxes and while providing the essential services that Australians rely on and investing in the critical infrastructure that Australia needs.

“Our economic fundamentals are strong, with the unemployment rate down to 5 per cent, economic growth faster than all G7 nations except the United States, and our AAA credit rating reaffirmed.

“As a result of our disciplined budget management, real growth in government spending under the Coalition government is averaging 1.9 per cent per year — its lowest level for any government in 50 years.

“A strong economy means we can deliver tax relief for individuals as well as small and family businesses. It also means we can deliver the essential services like healthcare, disability support, aged care and schools which Australians rely on.

“We are able to do this without raising taxes. In contrast, Labor plans to slug $200bn in taxes on your income, your property, your savings and your electricity.”

The mid-year update will also show employment grew by 308,100 people over the year to last October, contributing to the lowest proportion of people of working age on welfare in 25 years.

The Department of Finance has been having difficulty costing a range of the most expensive programs, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme, age pensions, family tax benefits and unemployment benefits, which have all cost much less than was estimated in the May budget.

The NDIS has been difficult to cost, because it is a new program that depends on the readiness of third-party providers to deliver the funding. However, a former ­Finance Department official speaking on background said the errors in costing programs such as the age pension, which was overstated by $900m, were much harder to understand.

Treasury attributed the shortfall to the lift in the retirement age to 67 years by 2023, however the tightening of the age pensions ­assets test has also been affecting more people than anticipated.

Major over-estimates in the cost of family tax payments ($800m) and unemployment benefits ($330m) are partly explained by improving economic conditions. Only two-thirds of NDIS commitments are being taken up, with figures for the September quarter showing little more than 50 per cent of budgeted funds had been spent.

The final report for 2017-18 showed spending was $2.5bn less than anticipated.

The May budget figures were compiled on the basis of actual spending in the first six months of the 2017-18 financial year, and ­analysts expect the shortfall which came to light when the final budget outcome was completed in September, will carry through into the current financial year.

Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said the government would have the scope to include other planned election commitments that are yet to be announced in the contingency ­reserve. This would have the effect of making this year’s deficit larger and next year’s surplus smaller, but would keep Labor in the dark about what funds are available.

“Ahead of an election, the contingency reserve has the potential to be a handy refrigerator to keep things fresh,” Mr Richardson said.

Mr Richardson said the budget was about 0.5 per cent of GDP better than expected as a result of a stronger nominal economy, equivalent to $9bn to $10bn, which could be distributed between tax cuts, offers to marginal electorates and improvement in the surplus.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said there was a danger that windfall tax revenue from higher commodity prices and strong employment growth might prove temporary.

“A lot of the improvement in the budget has come from higher commodity prices. If China’s economy continues to slow, it is hard to see the iron ore price holding up,” he said.

Dr Oliver noted that employment growth was also starting to slow, while Treasury would be under pressure to lower its forecast for wage growth, which the budget predicted would reach 2.75 per cent this year and 3.25 per cent next year. The latest report shows private sector wage growth remains stuck at 2 per cent.


Anti-coal protestors interrupt Labor leader's keynote address

Bill Shorten’s keynote speech at Labor’s National Conference this morning got off to an awkward start as he was ambushed by protesters.

The audience of 400 delegates and 1000 observers at the Adelaide Convention Centre had been thoroughly warmed up by Labor’s deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, national president Wayne Swan and South Australian opposition leader Peter Malinauskas when Mr Shorten finally strolled onto the stage.

A protester, 25-year-old Isaac Astill, quickly appeared next to him. As Mr Shorten took his position behind the lecturn, Mr Astill stood beside him and unfurled a banner bearing the words “Stop Adani”.

“Will you please stop the Adani coal mine? There are bushfires across Queensland, heat records are tumbling, the Great Barrier Reef is heading for a third bleaching event, we have to stop the Adani coal mine,” he said.

“Oh mate. Alright,” Mr Shorten said, before letting Mr Astill make his point.

“Thanks for making that statement. Do I get to keep the flag?” he asked. “You can keep the flag if you like, absolutely, of course,” the protester replied.

“Good on you mate, cheers. See ya,” Mr Shorten said.

“Really appreciate it Mr Shorten. It’s going to be so important you do that. Thank you, catch you later. I really hope you come out with a commitment to stop the mine.”

“No it’s all good. Thank you very much, I appreciate you making your point.”

At that point, Mr Swan intervened, and a security guard removed Mr Astill from the stage.

“I think our visitor should leave the stage now,” Mr Swan said. “Show him the way out, thank you.”

But the fiasco continued, as more protesters appeared at Mr Shorten’s other shoulder.

“OK. Which one’s this?” he quipped.

“We’ll call for the escorts,” Mr Swan interjected.

“We’re Australia’s oldest political party. We have a proud history of democracy, we all understand the right to protest. But that doesn’t include the right to drown out the leader of the opposition. So could you please leave the stage?”

When he finally got some clear air, Mr Shorten addressed the crowd. “I know these people are well-intentioned, but the only people they’re helping is the current government of Australia,” he said.

“I’ve waited for the next election for five years and if I’ve got to wait a couple more minutes, I just will. “People have got a right to protest, but you’ve got to ask yourself when you see these protests — who’s the winner? It’s the Coalition. “We’ve already had two protests and goodness knows what the current Prime Minister will do to try to upstage them.”


 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

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