Tuesday, April 30, 2019

ScoMo could squeak it in with Palmer's support

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has narrowed the gap behind Bill Shorten in the latest Newspoll as support for controversial billionaire Clive Palmer soars.

Labor is leading the two-party preferred vote 51 per cent to 49 per cent ahead of the Coalition with three weeks to go until the federal election.

But both of the major parties have lost votes to Mr Palmer, whose extensive $50million advertising campaign for the United Australia Party has resulted in five per cent of the primary vote.

The result is a marked improvement for the Coalition since March, when Mr Morrison's government was down 54-46 on the same measure.

The poll comes after the first two weeks of the election campaign in which Mr Morrison has campaigned heavily on the economy and attacking Labor's tax plans.

But the Coalition's primary vote has dropped one point to 38 per cent, while Labor's primary is down to 37 per cent.


Coalition - 38 per cent

Labor - 37 per cent

Greens - 9 per cent

United Australia Party - 5 per cent

One Nation - 4 per cent

Source: The Australian

Support for One Nation has dropped to four per cent, while the Greens remain on nine per cent.

Labor has ruled out negotiating a preference deal with Mr Palmer after making informal approaches.

Malcolm Turnbull needed a primary vote of 42 per cent to win a one-seat majority in 2016.

Despite the drop in primary vote, Newspoll calculates the Coalition has made up ground based on preference flows at recent federal and state elections.

The two-party preferred vote is now back to where it was before Mr Turnbull was forced out of the top job in August 2018.

Mr Shorten has climbed higher in the preferred prime minister stakes, jumping two points to 37 per cent, while Mr Morrison dropped one point to 45 per cent.

The Labor leader has only won one preferred prime minister poll, getting his best result immediately after Mr Turnbull went, before Mr Morrison overtook him.

The two leaders will conduct their first debate of the campaign on Monday night in Perth, before another debate in Brisbane on Friday.


Fabric of democracy fraying under weight of the mob


Isaac Butterfield was, until now, a little heard of stand-up comedian — until he included Holocaust material in his gig at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this month.

According to a report in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, a Jewish woman emailed Butterfield complaining about some of his material. He replied: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the oven.” The original saying referred to “the kitchen”.

Butterfield’s word usage in this instance is brutally telling, especially when knowingly directed at a Jewish woman. It is an established fact many of the Jews who were murdered by Nazi Germany with poison gas were cremated in ovens. So how did the MICF handle the situation? Well, a spokeswoman said performers were able to express their views, even opinions viewed as offensive. Apart from that, the organisation went into no-comment mode.

This is the same MICF that recently dropped its Barry Award, following comments by comedian Barry Humphries describing transgender as a fashion. Similar comments in recent years have been made by the likes of Julie Burchill and Germaine Greer. The former’s views were removed from the Guardian website.

So, according to the MICF, it is appropriate to strip the name of Australia’s most famous comedian from its key award for making a comment about trans­genderism. But it’s quite OK for Butterfeld to dismiss the views of a Jewish Australian with a tasteless reference to ovens.

In a recent discussion with a young comedian, I asked what remains of humour when so many take offence, often on behalf of somebody else. He replied that it’s still legitimate to make jokes about conservatives. It was a reminder that in the contemporary West it is the Left that is into censorship of thought — and its targets are invariably conservatives.

In his 2019 Keith Murdoch Oration, News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson spoke about “the seemingly powerful global companies that panic and prevaricate at the first mutterings of the … media mob”.

His specific reference was to Google’s decision to surrender when “a mob of Google employees” objected to their employer’s decision to appoint Kay Coles James to an advisory council on artificial intelligence.

The problem was that James is president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. She is also a 69-year-old black American who, as a girl, suffered discrimination when integrated into a white school in Richmond, Virginia.

Thomson commented: “There is no doubt that a mob mentality has taken hold in much of the West and among the most pronounced of the mobs are illiberal liberals, who are roaming the landscape in the seemingly endless, insatiable quest for indignation and umbrage.”

The reference was to the North American use of liberal, meaning Left or left-wing in Australian word usage. He added: “It is vituperation as virtue.”

The latest expression of mob outrage in Australia has been directed at Israel Folau, a rugby union player and committed Christian. His secular “sin” was to post an Instagram warning to drunks, homosexuals, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters that hell awaits them — unless they repent. This was a selection of “the works of the flesh” nominated in St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

Now it appears that Folau breached a warning from Rugby Australia not to make homophobic comments. But St Paul’s mes­sage to the Galatians was not confined to those termed gays today. Even if it were, a lifetime ban for a professional footballer is an enormous punishment for an expression of a religious belief.

The pile-on against Folau seems to begin with companies that advertise with Rugby Australia — most particularly Qantas, whose chief executive, Alan Joyce, apparently suffers no conscience pangs due to the fact the public company of which he is an employee has business dealings with some Muslim nations that are not exactly gay-friendly. And it goes all the way down to sneering secularists such as Nine newspapers’ Peter FitzSimons.

On ABC television’s Offsiders program on April 14, presenter Kelli Underwood and panellist Caroline Wilson bagged Folau and talked down fellow panellist John Harms, who, while not agreeing with the footballer’s comments, argued that his “religious position has to be respected”. Underwood accused Folau of attempting to “hide behind religion” to engage in “hate speech”. The inference is that it’s now hate speech for a Christian to quote St Paul and urge repentance.

What Thomson refers to as “a mob mentality” has even reached the doors of the Australian judicial system. In his judgment in the NSW District Court on December 6 last year in R v Philip Edward Wilson, judge Roy Ellis warned about the “potential for media pressure to impact judicial independence” in child sexual abuse cases.

Ellis’s concern was about “perceived pressure for a court to reach a conclusion which seems to be consistent with the direction of pubic opinion, rather than being consistent with the rule of law that requires a court to hand down individual justice in its decision making process”.

This was an important statement by an experienced judge — which appears to have been ignored by the NSW government. This trial did not involve a jury.

In his sentencing judgment in R v George Pell on March 13, Victorian County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd had this to say: “We have witnessed outside of this court and within our community, examples of a ‘witch-hunt’ or ‘lynch mob’ mentality in relation to Cardinal Pell. I utterly condemn such behaviour. That has nothing to do with justice in a civilised society.”

Again, this was a significant statement about the presence of a mob hostile to the defence and defence counsel by a senior Victorian judge — which appears to have been ignored by the Victorian government. This was a trial by jury.

Democracy has succeeded through the decades because its principal institutions — the executive, the legislature and the judicial system — prevailed against mob opinion.

Let’s hope this remains the case, otherwise intolerance and injustice will prevail.


Teachers claim constant bullying and harassment from parents is forcing them to abandon their profession in droves

Parents objecting to Leftist bias and indoctrination, most likely.  Leftists can dish out the aggression but they can't take it

The number of teachers quitting their jobs is rapidly rising across Australia amid claims angry parents are to blame. 

Teachers say they are being met with bullying, harassment and violence from parents more than ever, and even face the prospect of losing their role if they speak up.

But parents claim they're just being vocal about their concerns. 

A study from Melbourne's La Trobe University found 80 per cent of teachers were subject to student or parent-led bullying in the past year.

A separate report conducted by the Australian Catholic University found that 45 per cent of school principals across the country were threatened with violence in 2018.

In an emotional interview with Channel Nine's 60 Minutes, former teacher George Allertz says that although he was passionate about his job, the constant physical, verbal and electronic abuse he copped pushed him out of the profession.

'You're going home after being abused from a parent because they didn't agree with something that you taught or the way that you taught it,' Mr Allertz says. 'You basically become deflated… I can't do that anymore.'

Mr Allertz says he has witnessed school events during which parents become violent.

The former teacher says parents have opted to fight not only teachers but other parents on school grounds.

He also said he's seen parents use horrific language and come to physical blows before having to be escorted off the grounds.

However, parents have insisted they're just speaking up about their concerns over their children's treatment or the education system.

Kevin Saunders was disciplined for criticising the way his son was being taught at school, causing the angered father to pull him out altogether. Mr Saunders was bewildered that he was disciplined and questioned why he didn't have the right to speak up for his son. 'I spoke the truth and suddenly I'm getting escorted out of there,' he said.


Election coverage offers a measure of ABC’s decline

So far, the ABC’s election coverage could not be described as scintillating. That much is hardly surprising since the campaign performance of a media organisation seldom outshines that of the candidate it backs, and Bill Shorten has hardly delivered a showstopper.

In naming Shorten as the ABC’s preferred prime minister, we should acknowledge, of course, that the corporation takes no editorial stance as such. But as an editorial guidance note to staff acknowledges, impartiality is in the eye of the beholder. “Everyone regards the world through the prism of their own values,” it reads. “Impartiality is therefore an art rather than a ­science.”

So how are the virtuosos of value neutrality performing on AM, the showpiece of ABC radio news and current affairs, which once stretched the canvas on which the day’s campaign would be painted? Scratchily is probably the kindest response. So much so, that if the aim of Sabra Lane and her team was to make the program utterly extraneous, they are succeeding magnificently.

On Tuesday, April 17, for example, we were treated to an exclusive interview with Richard Di Natale defending the rights of the children of terrorists. Wednesday’s coverage began with the launch of the Greens’ climate policy. On Thursday we learned about the alt-right’s covert plan to adopt Fraser Anning as its zombie.

On day eight we were obliged to wait for 16 minutes for the sole election item. “Experts are calling on the government to do more to protect consumers from aggressive hawkers of funeral insurance,” it started unpromisingly.

Last week the taxpayer-funded program ran a series of reports recommending other things on which taxpayers might care to lavish their money. AM called out “childcare as the missing issue in the campaign” and bemoaned the failure of both major parties to boost payments for Newstart.

Experts told us there was “a genuine fundamental shift away from preference for small government”. It was a response to the Work Choices legislation, Joe Hockey’s 2014 budget and climate change, said expert Jill Sheppard from the Australian National University. Expert Ian McAuley from the Centre for Policy Development agreed, claiming voters were reacting against privatisation.

It was left to the Centre for Independent Studies’ Blaise Joseph to provide a sensible opinion. In doing so, regretfully, he revealed that he was not expert, since an expert by definition cannot dispute “expert opinion”, the nebulous voice called upon whenever the ABC’s preconceptions need shoring up. AM no longer provides the forum for grown-up policy debate it did as recently as the 2007 election. That campaign began with interviews with John Howard and Kevin Rudd, followed the next day by details of the Coalition’s tax package and an interview with Wayne Swan.

On subsequent days Nick Minchin was interviewed about housing policy, Hockey attacked Labor’s union links and Julia Gillard spoke for the defence.

There was a four-story package on the first leaders’ debate, Rudd was attacked by the CFMEU, both sides joined a discussion on pensions, treasurer Peter Costello gave a live interview, Julie Bishop defended the Coalition’s record on university funding, Rudd proclaimed his climate credentials and Malcolm Turnbull, as environment minister, responded.

The decline of AM over the course of just four elections is a symptom of the public broadcaster’s drift towards the periphery of national life. Once the daily electoral cycle began with AM’s keynote interview, was punctuated by the 7.30 Report and ended with ABC TV’s Lateline.

Today, AM is a shadow of its former self, so pale that its features are hard to define. The 7.30 audience that once hovered around a million in the five major metropolitan capitals has sunk below 600,000. In an act of mercy, Lateline has been put to sleep.

That the ABC retains any potency at all is down to the integrity of a dwindling number of presenters who understand the responsibilities that come with the ABC’s privilege. It owes nothing to the institution itself, which is increasingly ill-disciplined and hostage to group think.

Take the ABC’s obsession with “Watergate”, for example, a conspiracy concocted on Twitter about alleged irregularities in the allocation of water licences. Quite what the irregularities were, who was alleging impropriety, or indeed whether any of it mattered a jot has never been explained.

Suffice to say, however, that the ABC’s Virginia Trioli decided it was one of the “big issues of the day” when she interviewed the Prime Minister last week.

Scott Morrison drew on his reserves of patience to explain that water deals are done with the advice of state ministers and public servants, not on the whim of the federal government.

Trioli, however, was not satisfied. “You said on this program on January 14 that you’re ‘a Prime Minister for standards’. So is this the standard that we should then accept from you — rather casual about accountability, casual about transparency and seemingly unaccountable about value for taxpayer money?”

Morrison: “Well, Virginia, I think they’re pretty strong accusations you’ve just made there without providing any foundation for them … I don’t know how you could make those allegations in the way that you have, I’d seem to think that would be a bit over the top from you.”

We can only guess if Trioli’s colleagues slapped her on the back after the show or, like most reasonably minded viewers, thought she’d made a goose of herself.

What is indisputable is that Trioli wasted an opportunity to quiz the Prime Minister about substantial policy issues of vital national importance to embark on a frolic of her own. This was not the ABC as the corporation’s great postwar chairman, Dick Boyer, imagined it, an institute standing “solid and serene in the middle of our national life, running no campaign, seeking to persuade no opinion, but presenting the issues freely and fearlessly for the calm judgment of our people”.

It was the very opposite: a jittery voice from the bottom of the garden, lacking self-awareness, jumping at shadows, fixated on the immaterial and utterly and completely irrelevant.


 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, April 29, 2019

No let-up in Bill’s wobbles

The 2019 election campaign continues to be about give and take: Bill Shorten wants to remind voters what Labor is prepared to give and Scott Morrison wants to remind voters what Labor wants to take.

This remains the essence of the choice between two sides offering diametrically opposed policy and economic approaches based on tax cuts and growth or more tax and redistribution. Essentially the argument is about tax and spending: who gets taxed and who gets the benefit of spending.

The Opposition Leader campaigns on being able to spend more than the Coalition — such as the $600 million announced yesterday to fight domestic violence — and still have bigger budget surpluses and less debt because he is going to raise more tax from the “top end of town”.

“We want to stand up for Australian workers. We want to make sure they get better pay and better quality of work. This government just wants to cut schools and hospitals, cut penalty rates, so they can give tax cuts to the top end of town,” Shorten said this week.

The Prime Minister argues Labor’s new taxes on business, investors and high-income earners will dampen the economy and kill jobs while the Coalition’s tax cuts will create growth and jobs. Morrison says he doesn’t think Shorten “has the faintest clue about how business operates in this country, otherwise he wouldn’t be putting $387 billion worth of higher taxes on the Australian economy. As we found out, he doesn’t even know what those tax policies are.”

Disparate polls suggest although Labor’s lead over the Coalition has narrowed, the ALP and Shorten are still the frontrunners and favoured to win on May 18. But Shorten’s campaign, strong on positive announcements and targeting the “chaos” of the Coalition, has been weakened by a lack of attention to detail in the central tax argument, plus mixed messages.

The Labor leader correctly makes the point that Morrison’s focus on his personal popularity doesn’t matter as much as the policy arguments.

This is because he’s had a longstanding low level of voter satisfaction and he has trailed Morrison as preferred prime minister, yet voters have given Labor, under him, a lead over the Coalition. Besides, supposedly “unpopular” opposition leaders have won elections before.

The problem for Shorten is that he will be seen as incompetent and not across detail if he continues to make mistakes.

This week in Queensland, he was confronted with a tax anomaly and stumbled. It wasn’t a detailed and tricky question about negative gearing, franking credits or superannuation. It was a blue-collar worker with hi-vis stripes on his sleeves who wanted a tax cut for people earning more than $250,000 year.

The reason the worker at the coal export terminal in Gladstone wanted relief for people earning $70,000 more than Labor’s $180,000-a-year limit on tax cuts was that a “lot of people” at the coal port earn more than $250,000.

This is a conundrum for Labor, because a lot of traditional supporters get paid enough to fall within the ALP’s class of high-income earners and get lumped in with the “top end of town”. It is also part of the danger of political parties sending mixed messages during an election campaign. If voters are confused about a party’s policies, they are more inclined to vote for the clear message.

Labor’s central message for more than a year has been about wages and taxes: that “everything is rising except your wages”, and the ALP wants to redistribute tax wealth. Next week there will be even greater concentration on the “living wage” from Labor.

On Tuesday, Shorten, in front of TV cameras, was in his element — surrounded by workers. But rather than directly respond to a friendly unionist’s request for a tax cut with the cold truth that he would raise that worker’s tax, Shorten airily responded: “We’re going to look at that.”

Less than a week after having to backtrack and “take it on the chin” over a claim that Labor had no plans to change superannuation policies, when there are new taxes worth $34bn, Shorten had again answered without thinking.

It is easy to understand why Shorten, trailing as preferred PM and with a negative net satisfaction rating, wouldn’t want to disappoint a unionist asking for tax relief. But it highlighted the difficulty in redistributing tax revenue.

In previous elections Labor has suffered after imposing a cut-off point for income-tax relief that was below what a lot of Labor voters were earning or aspired to earn.

When an arbitrary income threshold is set there is no discrimination based on how people earn their money, where they live or how they vote. As Shorten pointed out, the worker he spoke to was on a good “union contract” that paid him $250,000 a year. But it still meant he was in the “top end of town” with bankers and business, and would have to pay Labor’s restored deficit levy — and increased taxes — for workers earning more than $180,000 a year.

As the man considered most likely to become prime minister next month, Shorten can’t afford to talk about hitting the top end of town to pay for $2.3bn in cancer care or $600m to fight domestic violence when he’s in Melbourne, and then say something different when he’s caught eye-to-eye with a Gladstone worker whose tax is going to rise under Labor.

It was bound to be a challenge for both sides to reconcile vast differences in priorities between voters in Deakin and Higgins in metropolitan Melbourne and those in regional Queensland, but Shorten has found it more difficult.

Tax wasn’t the only mixed message that hurt Shorten’s campaign in Queensland as he stood next to candidates who were saying different things to their leader about the Adani coal development in the Carmichael basin.

As Morrison travelled in Queensland, where the Coalition hopes to pick up seats, he was able to benefit from the cabinet decision just before the election was called to sign off on the Adani development and leave the final approval in the hands of the state Labor government. There is no confusion now from the Coalition, it has done all it can to get under way a new coal development that would create hundreds of jobs in central Queensland.

Morrison bit the bullet on Adani and has the benefit of a clear message in Queensland even if it’s unpopular in inner-city Melbourne and Sydney. But Shorten has no such clarity and was badgered about whether he would review the Adani decision in government, and what such a review might actually mean.

When confronted with comments from Labor’s candidate for Dawson, Belinda Hassan, that the ALP is committed to reviewing the federal approvals for the development, he said: “I have made it clear that we have no plans to review it. Our position is that the deals have to stack up commercially. We’ll be guided by the best science. I’m going to implement the law of the land. No more, no less, and of course we’re not going to engage in sovereign risk”.

When pressed, he had to say there would be no review, “full stop” — and no matter what candidates say, the decision would be up to a Labor cabinet.

At the end of the first week of the campaign, after stumbles over super, electric vehicles and negative gearing, Labor looked forward to a reset over Easter, but the second week of the campaign looked dangerously like more of the same for Shorten’s team.


Labor can’t explain 20 per cent payrises

Labor does not know how its taxpayer-funded 20 per cent pay increase to childcare workers will be delivered.

Opposition early childhood education spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth said a future Shorten government would consult with the sector on the best way workers can receive an average pay increase of $11,300.

“We will work with the sector and with the educators to work on a mechanism to deliver it. We have said the quantum of 20 per cent over eight years and we will work with the detail and the staging with the sector after that,” Ms Rishworth said.

“We want to have a consultative process about how we do it. We are not going to come on high about how we are going to do it. We want to work with the sector to deliver it over eight years.”

“We have said the commonwealth would fully fund this pay increase.”

When asked if childcare workers could receive a cash top up from the government, Ms Rishworth said: “I’m not going to go through hypotheticals. As I said, the people that we want to work with is the centres, the peak bodies, the educators and their representatives on how best we can deliver this.”

Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said it was critical workers in the low-paid sector receive a pay rise.

“We will negotiate with the sector. All stakeholders will be involved in making sure we implement this,” Mr O’Connor said.

“But it is critical that if we are going to take preschool eduction seriously in this country, if we are going to attract and retain dedicated staff, then we need to remunerate them properly.”


GetUp has dropped the mask.  They are a well-funded far-Left group whose whole aim is to destroy opponents by hook or by crook

GetUp is an organisation that seeks to destroy. It does not run candidates itself. Its operating method is to damage and destroy its opponents, whom it blackens through a combination of personal character assassination and political critique. It boasts about its influence at the 2016 election and its ability to terminate at this election Coalition MPs of what it calls the “hard right”. Its agenda now is ambitious in the extreme. It seeks, in effect, the partial political beheading of the Liberal Party. It targets Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton, followed by a line of others — Kevin Andrews, Greg Hunt, Josh Frydenberg, Christian Porter and Nicolle Flint.

Its method is an Australian version of the US brand of political action committees that are getting stronger at each election and are basic to the disrepute of US politics. PACs are formed by like-minded people, raise money and run campaigns to elect or defeat candidates, some being constructive but many viciously negative.

GetUp is a highly sophisticated operation, feared by the Liberals, trading on the idea of a “flourishing and fair” Australia. But it has been caught in its own hubris this election and risks being exposed as an extremist organisation of the Left fighting its declared extremists on the Right.

This was not supposed to happen. GetUp is a study in the extremism of progressive politics and its self-righteous belief any tactic is justified to crush its enemies. GetUp has peddled falsehoods about Andrews and Frydenberg and its universally condemned lifesaver advertisement against Abbott reveals GetUp as engaged in toxic tactics of the hard Left.

John Wanna, professor of public administration at the ANU, tells Inquirer: “They present themselves as being of the people but they are a restrictive, non-democratic organisation. It’s not an elected democratic model. They present themselves as being very nice but they operate like the PACs in America — their main purpose is to damage the other side. I think the danger for GetUp and the paradox may be that the more momentum it generates the more it might damage itself if it is seen to be subverting democracy. Its influence in that case may wane.

Asked about the withdrawn lifesaver advertisement, Abbott said: “There’s no doubt GetUp seek to mock their opponents. They have no sense of respect for service if their opponent doesn’t share their views. “They operate as a left-wing political mafia determined to rub out their opponents with campaigns based on prejudice.”

In his grassroots report about the GetUp campaign to destroy Abbott, Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper describes how its group leaders effectively worked a large crowd of volunteers with the sole aim of defeating Abbott: they tell people who to vote against, not who to vote for. Of course, the effect is to support the independent, Zali Steggall. The point, however, is that waging a campaign to destroy somebody is far easier than waging a campaign to get somebody elected. This is the distinctive point about GetUp. Unlike Scott Morrison or Bill Shorten or Pauline Hanson or even Palmer, who are trying to get themselves elected, GetUp exists solely to get people unelected.

The mentality this generates is destructive in the community but also seems to be self-corrupting. In the scripts it was using to turn voters against Andrews, GetUp accused Andrews of supporting gay conversion therapy. “This was a false and defamatory claim,” Andrews tells Inquirer. “I have never spoken about this issue in my life.”

Two branches in Andrews’s electorate put motions along these lines to the Liberal state council. Andrews was unaware of this until a newspaper report was published. He worked with Liberal state president Michael Kroger to have the motions withdrawn. When he discovered the GetUp script being used against him in its “conversation guides”, Andrews wrote to GetUp warning it was false and asking for the material to be withdrawn.

The point is obvious: when you create a demonised culture around a politician like Andrews on the grounds that he is an intolerable conservative, you can readily believe almost anything. A supporter of gay conversion therapy? Of course, why not?

The GetUp campaign against Frydenberg is purely opportunistic. The idea the Treasurer is part of the “hard right” is ludicrous. The justification, evidently, is that GetUp members wanted to target Frydenberg and claiming such a scalp would be an extraordinary triumph.

The “conversation guide” against Frydenberg says he “was part of the coup that removed Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister”. This is a lie, as anybody familiar with the leadership crisis knows. Is GetUp incompetent or unscrupulous, or both?

The script continued that Frydenberg “failed to get any real action on climate change” and was “part of the chaos in Canberra”.

This was a puerile justification for its effort to destroy him. GetUp seems ready to fabricate any excuse for its priorities. Frydenberg is under real pressure with multiple challenges in Kooyong, notably from Julian Burnside on behalf of the Greens.

But there was a comic aspect to this situation when GetUp national director Paul Oosting was put through the wringer by the ABC’s Jon Faine. It was a brilliant insight into GetUp’s real character and will become one of the moments of the campaign. Oosting refused to admit his organisation’s dishonesty: “I don’t think it’s misleading, Jon. I think that as I’ve outlined to you — I think there was a leadership coup in the Liberal Party … Josh Frydenberg was clearly the key beneficiary of that … I don’t think he became deputy prime minister by accident, did he?”

Oosting had to be corrected twice by Faine. Frydenberg is deputy prime minister? Wrong. Michael McCormack is the Deputy Prime Minister. Then he said Frydenberg is the finance minister. Wrong. Mathias Cormann has that job.

But Oosting refused to concede his script was inaccurate or unfair. He defended it by talking about climate change, an irrelevant point. Faine went to the essence. GetUp says it stands for a “different kind of politics”, so would Oosting in the cause of more integrity in politics concede his mistake? No way.

We learnt a lot. We learnt from Oosting’s own mouth that GetUp is as dodgy and deceptive as any of the major parties. On second thoughts, it’s worse — neither Morrison nor Shorten would have been stupid enough to defend such dishonesty. The next time anyone from GetUp tries to spin the line they want a better or more moral politics, you can either laugh or shut the door.

What is obvious is the cavalier irresponsibility with which GetUp makes its claims. It supposedly has seven priority targets in this campaign and it engaged in dishonesty about two of them. The evidence from Andrews and Frydenberg is that GetUp trades in deception.

The denigration of Abbott was even worse and even more revealing. In the ad Abbott is depicted as a lifesaver who refuses to save a drowning person by repeating lines supposed to reveal climate change denialism, and then laughs at the apparent drowning.

Shorten said the ad was “grossly disrespectful” to lifesavers. He said it was wrong to denigrate Abbott for his volunteer work as a lifesaver and the ad was “well out of line”. John Howard said it was “outrageous to suggest a man who has given years of his life to volunteer organisations would allow somebody to drown while he sat there and sneered at it”. Former Labor minister Stephen Conroy said GetUp “deserve all the condemnation they get”.

The ad was pulled by GetUp only after complaints by the 150,000-strong Royal Life Saving Society. GetUp said it had the greatest respect for the lifesaving movement. There was no sign of regret about the way Abbott was depicted. If ever there was a forked-tongue apology this was it. Only a fool would think it genuine. Abbott, for the record, has a long history as a volunteer firefighter and lifesaver where, in fact, he has actually saved people.

What does this ad reveal about GetUp and its culture? The ad had to be created, produced and authorised. It was not an accident. This was intended. The implication is that Abbott was prepared to see people die because of his attitude on climate change. It is the best example so far of how the self-righteous moralism of GetUp leads to the debasement of our politics because of a willingness to demonise an individual without any sense of restraint or decency. This is a warped culture on display — accept Labor or Liberal at any time but don’t accept this.

This is nothing but fermentation of hatred on the assumption that because it is Abbott it is justified. This is what many progressives assert with a passion that borders on hysteria. And once you cross this threshold for one person, you will cross it whenever it is convenient for anybody else that suits your purpose. This is what GetUp represents. Will any of this hurt GetUp? Its activists will be unaffected. Perhaps a few of its volunteers from middle Australia might think twice. No responsible board of directors would tolerate this performance, and if the directors take no action, that will confirm the nature of this group and the hypocrisy of its claims.

This goes to the point made by Wanna: “If you join GetUp you join as a supporter but you are not a member. This is a non-democratic model many not-for-profits use where the executive directors have the power and can operate as a cohesive group.” So far it has been successful.

The supporters are happy volunteers, convinced they are doing democracy a service. What happens if GetUp, despite its tactics, succeeds in beheading an echelon of senior Liberals? Fundamental to the operation of PACs in the US is that they must be “independent” of parties or candidates, yet they exist to support or oppose parties or candidates. Sound familiar?

As for Clive Palmer, he has nothing constructive to offer our political system. Palmer’s ads say he aims to form a government. He does not campaign, offer policies, subject himself to the media or the public. He just buys ads and his real purpose is to win Senate places and attempt to gain the balance of power on the Senate crossbench.

Such a prospect has only one consequence — more dysfunction and chaos in parliament. There is no precedent in Australia’s history for what Palmer is doing. Consider the public vindication if Palmer spends $50m and gets nothing — if the lot is wasted. That would be a sweet moment, or would it?

The downside is that One Nation would get more Senate seats. Every sign post-election is that Australia needs action to salvage the mechanics and culture of its democracy. But didn’t we know that?


Pro coal and anti coal groups face off in Queensland coal town

A police spokeswoman said an emergency call was made before midnight on Saturday after reports a loud noise was heard near the camp of protesters at Clermont. Police it was suspected the noise could have been a firecracker and no one had reported seeing the source of the noise.

Stop Adani convoy organiser and former Greens leader Bob Brown said demonstrators were having a great day in the town after a hostile reception yesterday. ‘‘There were a few firecrackers over the fence in the middle of the night, but everybody had a cracker of a night,” Mr Brown said.

However, anti-Adani protesters complained that rocks had been hurled at cars in the convoy and women were “abused and threatened”.

An additional 100 anti-mining protesters were due to arrive to join a Stop Adani rally in the town on Sunday.

Clermont’s three pubs refused to serve convoy participants yesterday and a sign was hung from a hotel which read, “go home and turn off your power and walk”. Another read, “Mr Brown and ‘Stop Adani’ protesters, you may have travelled far and wide but you won’t get food inside”.

The publican of the Grand Hotel in Clermont, Kel Appleton, said the town had been brought together by going toe-to-toe with the Stop Adani group.

“We’re just normal people, we don’t go pushing our rhetoric on anyone else like they do to us.” Mr Appleton said.

Mr Appleton said having United Australia Party leader and senate hopeful Clive Palmer, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and LNP MP Michelle Landry under the same balcony at his pub on Saturday was a surprise. The politicians arrived to show support for locals yesterday.

He said he understood locals would now leave the anti-Adani protesters alone in the town’s showgrounds as they held today’s rally.  “We still get treated we’re like a bunch of hooligans but we’re not, like I’m half proud of being called a redneck, we probably are, we live out west, there’s graziers, there’s cotton farmers,” he said. “People have driven up from Toowoomba (nine hours away) to stand on our side. “That’s what brought everyone together, just being all good people, you know.”

Mr Brown said some impartial business owners had “expressed regret” at the hostility and he thanked Queensland police for keeping the peace. “This is about every Australian child’s future security in a rapidly heating planet,” Mr Brown said in the statement. “You can back your children or you can back Gautam Adani’s mine but you can’t have both.”

The anti-Adani convoy to stop Adani’s Galilee Basin mine is trying to convince the coal-reliant Queensland town it would be better off without the industry.

But the 400-strong convoy was greeted by jeering Clermont residents lining the main street of the central Queensland mining town on Saturday.

Mr Brown has accused the counterprotesters of “thuggery”.

The former Australian Greens leader, said his “law-abiding and peaceful” convoy would be welcomed in the town, but for a “gaggle” of right-wing politicians including Matt Canavan, Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer, who spent yesterday afternoon rallying the “start Adani” group.

“It’s a complete fabrication that people in central Queensland aren’t worried about this mine,” Mr Brown said. “I was braced for a hostile reception in Mackay and it turned out it was mega-friendly.

“We should all be committed to putting the aggression to one side and talking about the issues, the key issue being the future of our children.”

However, Mr Brown said pro-Adani supporters had threatened local restaurants, forcing them to cancel reservations for members of his convoy, describing an “air of thuggery” about the group.

Police redirected the convoy to an alternate road, away from the main street, in a bid to avoid violent clashes, he said.

“Some of them came up to us, surrounding cars and tearing off flags and stickers,” he said.

State shadow mining minister Dale Last, also in Clermont, said residents were “very angry that this group’s coming out here to tell them what they should and shouldn’t be doing.” “I think these protesters will be left in no doubt they’ve walked into a hornet’s nest in this country,” he said. “They’re going to get a very, very hostile reception, I can assure you of that.”

Adani Australia thanked its supporters in a tweet on Saturday: “Amazing turnout with hundreds in Mackay showing up to support the coal industry.”

An anti-Adani rally on Sunday is expected to include speeches and singing.


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

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Senate could become Bill Shorten’s best friend

Peter van Onselen is the token Leftist at "The Australian" but he says below what I have been thinking:  Shorten is all hot air when you reflect how unlikely it is that his destructive policies will get through the Senate.  In both Australia and the USA, Senates are a great force for stability and obstructing change of all sorts. 

Van Onselen however adds a speculation about voters being devious, which I think is far-fetched.  He seems to think everybody else is  a professor of politics.  I think the Senate will be Shorten's best friend because it will prevent him from legislating great and impoverishing follies

The Senate could become Bill Shorten’s best friend. With the opposition leader’s tax agenda under significant scrutiny — even though most of it has been publicly known for years — the role of the house of review just might save Shorten from himself.

Australians vote more intelligently than they often get credit for. We know our electoral system and understand that governments don’t always get their way. Not in the upper house where the balance of power is held by minor parties.

Even if Labor wins the election, it can squeal all it likes about the mandate won, yet minor parties in the senate will claim the support they got in the senate is also a mandate to follow their policy scripts — which in the case of a number of the minor parties involves disagreeing with Labor’s plans on negative gearing and franking credits.

If voters think that Shorten’s tax agenda will be blocked then they can use their lower house vote to punish the Coalition for a mix of failures in government — doubling the deficit, changing prime ministers not once but twice, having no serious policy for addressing climate change, you name it.


Shorten wages a laughable battle

He has no idea of what is needed to achieve real growth in the national income

Let’s face it, this election campaign is not exactly a comedy festival. The ratio of groans to laughs emanating from my office is very high indeed.

But I did get a good chuckle last week when Bill Shorten declared he was going to get really, really good lawyers to argue his government’s case to raise minimum wages before the Fair Work Commission.

In the Opposition Leader’s world, the reason we have had low wage growth is dud lawyers. Here’s a tip, Bill: even the best lawyer in the world — I wonder if Amal Clooney is available? — can’t alter the course of wages growth in this country.

Here’s how it works: wage growth is related to productivity growth and inflationary expectations. Productivity growth has been sluggish for some time, so it’s no surprise that wage growth has also been sluggish — around the 2 per cent per year mark. But inflationary expectations are also low. Recall this week’s CPI figure of zero for the March quarter and only 1.3 per cent for the year ending in the March quarter.

In point of fact, real wage growth is actually close to being respectable, seeing that the most recent figures on the Wage Price Index are showing annual growth of 2.3 per cent. It’s the equivalent of wages rising by 4 per cent and prices rising by 3 per cent: it might feel different but it’s the same, at least pre-tax.

And here’s another point to consider. The WPI is calculated for a given job, while ignoring promotions, bonuses and the like. The lived experience for many workers is automatic pay increments (often specified in an enterprise agreement) and the possibility of promotion.

According to Professor Mark Wooden of the University of Melbourne, wages have been growing for many workers at around 3 to 4 per cent per year, rather than the number indicated by the WPI, which is a substantial real gain given the very low rate of inflation.

Let me return to Bill’s howler. Actually, the arguments being put to the FWC have been doing their job in the sense that the last two annual increases in the national minimum wage were 3.3 and 3.5 per cent, respectively. These figures have been well above the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI.

And recall that these increases not only apply to the lowest-paid workers but also to the more than 2.5 million award-dependent workers. (The number of employees covered just by awards has been rising.)

But note also that the decision-makers at the FWC do understand a bit of economics. Last year, the point was made that a much higher wage increase would be detrimental to the employment prospects of the low-skilled, in particular. Nothing Amal Clooney can say will alter this.

In the meantime, we need to acknowledge that real wages are now growing at a reasonable pace but in the context of a very low inflationary environment. It’s not a bad outcome.


Palmer sides with Liberals on preferences over economy fears

This is a great coup. Polls suggest Palmer will get about 5% of the vote.  Redirecting that many votes to the Liberals could well swing the election

Clive Palmer is expected to confirm a national preference deal with the Liberal Party on Monday over personal concerns that Bill Shorten’s tax agenda would damage the economy.

The Australian understands the deal will be sealed after Mr Palmer rejected last-ditch attempts by senior Labor powerbrokers to win support from his United Australia Party, which is on track to decide key seats across the country.

Mr Palmer will also direct preferences to the Nationals in NSW on his UAP how-to-vote-cards in return for Senate preferences, which could deliver him seats in NSW and Queensland.

Asked about the preferences deal, a spokesman for Mr Palmer said yesterday there would be an announcement on Monday.

The Australian can reveal that Queensland Labor senator ­Anthony Chisholm, a right-wing powerbroker, phoned Mr Palmer twice in the past fortnight to discuss preferences. The last call was on Wednesday, the same day Mr Shorten launched a public attack on the Queensland mining magnate and former federal MP.

Mr Palmer is believed to have ended the calls promptly and would not enter into specifics about his preference intentions.

This followed approaches from Shorten ally and union leader ­Michael O’Connor, who met Mr Palmer on the Gold Coast last week on the ALP’s behalf to seek a preference deal with Labor despite Mr Shorten’s animosity towards Mr Palmer. A spokeswoman for Mr Shorten denied he had been with Senator Chisholm when he had called Mr Palmer ­because they had been in different ­cities.

Labor sources said the party was more interested in finding out what arrangements Mr Palmer had come to with the LNP, and the Coalition more broadly, than doing an ALP-UAP deal.

The source said Labor would secure a preference swap deal with the Greens, which meant it would have been unable to accommodate any UAP call for a general deal. “The bigger question is what deal has Scott Morrison done with Clive Palmer? If he has done a deal, it is a deal to get Clive Palmer at least, and possibly one of two of his friends, into the parliament,” the Labor source said.

A Coalition-UAP deal would make it difficult for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Queensland candidate, Malcolm Roberts, to secure a Senate seat.

Glenn Druery, the so-called preference whisperer, said he believed the race for the sixth Queensland Senate seat would be between Mr Palmer and Mr Roberts, with the former’s massive advertising spending and an LNP preference deal giving him the edge.

The Australian can also reveal the federal Liberal Party deal will include a preference arrangement for the NSW Nationals in most seats, potentially delivering the UAP a Senate seat in that state. One Nation is running in only one NSW seat that the Nationals are also contesting, Hunter. A Nationals source said they would preference One Nation ahead of Labor in that seat.

One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham said Senator Hanson was in charge of preference arrangements. But he said he could not understand how the Coalition could do a preference deal with Mr Palmer and be reluctant to do one with One Nation. “The One Nation (preferences issue) is a hangover from 25 years ago,” Mr Latham said. “In most (policy) areas, Palmer’s beyond the pale.”

Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman backed the Liberal Party’s decision to preference UAP ahead of Labor and said the Coalition should not be scared of adverse public reaction to the move.

Mr Newman, who had a bitter falling out with Mr Palmer shortly after coming to power in 2012, said he believed the UAP leader was on track to win a Senate spot and was likely motivated to do a preference deal with the Coalition to prevent Mr Shorten from forming government.

Animosity between the pair was aired as recently as last week when the UAP leader alleged in court documents that the 2012 fallout had fuelled a federal government vendetta against him. Mr Palmer said the court action against him was partly motivated by his push for a Senate inquiry into the Newman government in 2014, shortly before the Liberal National Party was voted out.

Mr Newman, who admitted Mr Palmer’s campaigning against him had contributed to his government’s demise, yesterday scoffed at the allegations and said a preference deal with the UAP was a smart move for the Coalition.



Three current articles below

Warmists in government won’t save the planet but will destroy our economy

Herald readers, be independent, always, and please reconsider the false equivalence you read a week ago in a column by your esteemed scribe, Peter Hartch­er. He was tackling what is not only one of the most crucial issues for this nation’s economic and environmental future but also a central policy battleground in the federal election campaign.

Yes, it is climate change. And we are going to ventilate some fundamental facts that might be confronting for Herald loyalists. I wouldn’t question your love for Earth — it is the best planet we have observed so far and the only one of much use to us. It is useful to assume everyone in this debate cares about the planet because self-destruction is not a wise motive to ascribe to your political opponents. But the hard truth is that even if you accept the most alarming claims about the planet being in peril, it is not within the remit of you or your nation to save it. Those Earth Hour dinners, where you drive the Range Rover to the Hunter to eat Coffin Bay oysters by the light of red gum embers, may or may not be carbon-negative but they can’t help the planet.

Virtue signalling is fine to the extent that it encourages virtue but you wouldn’t want a sense of moral superiority to overwhelm awareness of futility. You need to know that global carbon emissions will increase this year by more than a billion tonnes, or more than double the total annual emissions of this country. You need to know that if we made the ultimate sacrifice and shut down this country in January, any benefit to the planet would disappear by July. For all the goodwill in the world, try to imagine how much good your Pious, I mean Prius, or subsidised solar roof panels are doing for the global environment. You need to keep all this in mind when Labor leader Bill Shorten tells you his uncosted plan to double the nation’s renewable energy target and emissions reductions goals will save us money by cooling our “angry” summers and reducing our natural disasters.

Logic reveals an entirely oppos­ite reality — that whatever the costs and complications of Labor’s dramatically more ambitious plans, they cannot and will not lead to any improvement in the climate because global carbon emissions will continue to rise.

So let us get back to Hartcher’s column, which I fear might have prompted sage nodding from some. Here is the main thrust of his argument uncut:

“When Tony Abbott was prime minister, he ordered more Australian strike aircraft and troops into Iraq. Not because Australia was big enough to turn the tide of battle against the barbarians of Daesh, so-called Islamic State or ISIS. But because he believed in the fight.

“ ‘It’s absolutely vital that the world sees and sees quickly that the ISIS death cult can be beaten,’ he said in 2014. Australia’s commitment ultimately made up less than 1 per cent of the combined effort against the terrorist thugs but it was early and firm. Abbott described it as ‘an important global concern’ and he was right. And, with more than 60 countries co-operating, it was a success. When it came to another important global concern, Abbott argued a very different case. He and like-minded Coalition conservatives have long maintained that Australian action against climate change was futile: ‘Even if carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring trace gas that’s necessary for life, really is the main climate change villain, Australia’s contribution to mankind’s emissions is scarcely more than 1 per cent,’ Abbott said last year.

“On terrorism, Abbott argued for Australian leadership. On climate change, he argued for wilful helplessness. Australia is a 1 per cent contributor in both cases. In one case, it used its 1 per cent to show leadership and effective action. On the other, it used its 1 per cent as an excuse for inaction.”

Let’s start at the end. Inaction? Under the Coalition’s target, agreed when Abbott was prime minister, Australia is committed to the Paris Agreement and emissions reductions of 26 to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. This, while China, India and a range of smaller nations increase emissions on a business-as-usual basis. The US bailed from Paris and, counterintuitively, its fixed power carbon emissions have decreased. Paris is clearly better at signalling virtue than reducing emissions.

Given the way the renewable energy target and other interventions have corrupted our electricity market, drained taxpayers’ funds, undermined power supplies, increased prices and forced job losses in steelmaking, aluminium manufacturing and other industries, it is impossible to cite a country doing more on climate at a higher cost than Australia. Power prices have doubled, coal-fired power stations have closed and carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced, taking jobs and economic growth with them.

Yet Hartcher calls this “inaction"

But let’s go to this insulting false equivalence between action on terrorism and climate change. First, terrorism is unequivocally bad; there is no possible benefit or justification for the murder of innocents in a political, religious or cultural cause. Climate change, on the other hand, is a complex and nuanced phenomenon that brings benefits such as higher crop yields and lower rates of death from severe cold. Even the most strident alarmists concede global warming produces winners and losers.

Just as the two dilemmas differ in their ambiguity, or lack thereof, so too do the prospects for overcoming them. If the US tackles Islamist terrorism we can expect some success, especially when it takes military action to eliminate a self-styled caliphate and expel Islamic State from seized land in the Middle East. If Australia contributes 1 per cent to US-led anti-terrorism efforts it is aligning itself with successful efforts by powerful actors who unarguably improve the world.

On climate, if Australia contributes 1 per cent to global efforts our costs disappear in futile gestures. Worldwide action is producing dramatic increases in global carbon emissions, so Australia’s costly actions manifestly are doing us economic harm but are not helping the environment or anyone. However much we may want to change the world, these are the facts. Hartcher and others may seek to disguise the benefits of the war against terrorism and hide the futility of climate virtue signalling but they can’t change the facts. Yet this sort of deception characterises much of the climate debate.

Shorten is allowed to dodge questions about policy costs with glib lines about the cost of inaction exceeding the cost of action. Activists get away with suggesting a ban on the Adani coalmine will save the Great Barrier Reef despite the reality that India will burn coal regardless of where it is sourced and, to the extent the reef is harmed by a warming planet, only global greenhouse emissions matter.

The defining difference between the terrorism and climate debates is the willingness to embrace reality and confront alarmism in one and the desire to shun reality and heighten alarmism in the other. Where Australia has suffered terribly from terrorism but has contributed materially to global improvements, Hartcher raises questions. But where the nation is yet definitively to suffer any setbacks from global warming and has caused itself serious economic pain through remedial efforts that cannot deliver improvements, Hartcher urges more action.

He is not alone, of course. Why are these arguments put? The reason cannot be for practical outcomes. Additional Australian efforts cannot, as Shorten would have it, cool our “angry” summers. The only possible reason for proposing additional and accelerated action before global emissions plateau is political posturing. And inflicting more economic self-harm for gestures ought to be called out.

Before people shout “denier” or question abandoning international responsibilities, none of the above is an argument for doing nothing — although intellectually coherent cases can be made for that approach. For all sorts of practical reasons including sensible environmental caution (giving the planet the benefit of the doubt), responsible global citizenship and adjusting to possible worldwide technological shifts, Australia needs to play a role.

By any reasonable assessment Australia has already done its fair share. And given the primacy of the Paris Agreement and the free ride given to many developing nations, any country that delivers emissions reductions in line with those commitments is doing some heavy lifting. The idea this nation would almost double its carbon cuts from what was agreed at Paris while global emissions continue to rise dramatically is about as stark an example of pointless self-harm as is possible. It would be as reckless as refusing to tackle terrorism.


No logic in our nuclear allergy

How depressing to see Scott Morrison having to backtrack after making the obvious and sensible remark that nuclear power shouldn’t be off the agenda if it stacks up economically.

Labor environment spokesman Tony Burke bristled at the idea that the most reliable and clean form of energy the world knows should even be discussed. “Nuclear power is against the law in Australia,” he chirped, as if being the only G20 nation to have such a ban were a good idea.

It’s embarrassing to tell people in the US that nuclear energy is banned in Australia. “But don’t you export uranium?” “Umm, yes,” I say, “but flower power has more adherents than nuclear among Australia’s political class.”

In the scramble to lift the share of renewables in the energy mix, the whole point is forgotten: to curb carbon emissions, not erect wind turbines or acres of solar panels for their own sake.

Thankfully, US leaders have moved on from Woodstock. The US government provides grants and research support for US businesses to build better reactors and bolster the country’s scientific edge. Jordi Roglans Ribas, a senior nuclear scientist at Argonne ­laboratory, one of the US’s top research institutions, says developments in small — even micro — nuclear reactors look set to bring down the cost of nuclear power.

“There’s been a lot of recent technical work on making nuclear more economically attractive, including by being able to manufacture components of plants in factories and ship them to where you need a reactor,” he tells The Australian.

As part of its “carbon-free power project”, Oregon-based Nuscale is already building a set of small modular reactors for the state of Utah, which should be operational by the mid-2020s. “Our advanced SMR design eliminates two-thirds of previously required safety systems and components found in today’s large reactors,” the company says. Three of these, at about $US250 million ($350m) each, would provide more energy — and reliably — than Australia’s biggest wind farm, according to the Minerals Council.

California-based Kairos Power is working on “fluoride salt-cooled, high-temperature reactors” that can be shut down far more safely than traditional water-cooled reactors. HolosGen, based in Virginia, expects its reactors will produce electricity at a lower “levelised cost” than wind or solar can.

With almost a third of the world’s known uranium reserves, you’d think we might try to develop a comparative advantage in nuclear energy. Instead, we’d put these scientists in jail for breaking the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which outlaws nuclear power here.

Memo to the world: Australia, with a population smaller than Texas, doesn’t approve of nuclear energy (though we’re quite happy to take the cash from those who do). How silly we look, eschewing 20 years of research. China, also at the forefront of the electric car rollout, has about 30 nuclear reactors under construction.

Ribas says nuclear power should be a natural complement to wind and solar as the world moves away from fossil fuels. “The development of massive storage capacity at low cost is of benefit to nuclear too, because when there is abundant wind, for example, you don’t need all (of a) nuclear plant’s production, so you can store it and release it later,” he says.

Replacing coal and gas with renewables entirely is an absurd idea even assuming further large falls in the cost of batteries. That would take about 10,000 giant batteries costing more than $300 billion to ensure enough storage to ensure a reliable power supply, according to recent estimates by respected economist Geoffrey Carmody.

For all the harrumphing about the “cost” of nuclear, power is cheaper in jurisdictions that have dared try it. Illinois, with just under 13 million people, has six nuclear power stations. In Chicago the average price of electricity in January was around US12c a kW/H. Energy Australia charges me 29.4c a kW/H for electricity in Sydney.

In nearby Ontario, where nuclear energy provides 60 per cent of the electricity needs of Canada’s biggest province, it was less than C13c a kW/h.

“It has two major benefits — low operating costs and virtually none of the emissions that lead to smog, acid rain or global warming,” says Ontario Power Generation. “These benefits make nuclear a very attractive option for meeting the province’s electricity needs well into the future.”

Ribas says, “Canada is very interested to evaluate small modular reactors in some remote areas.” Better not tell them what Tony Burke thinks!

Once upon a time, the Left stressed the importance of progress through advances in science and technology, mandating state funding for schools and universities. Today it’s more akin to the religious Right it once despised, vainly dismissing for ideological reasons an entire field.

The Greens want to see “a world free of nuclear power”. Yet there are about 450 nuclear reactors in operation in the world and another 60 under construction.

“There is a strong link between the mining and export of uranium and nuclear weapons proliferation,” the Greens say. Yet more than 30 countries have nuclear power stations and many more, such as Italy and Denmark, import electricity from them. About 10 countries have nuclear weapons — far from a “strong link”.

“The use of nuclear weapons, nuclear accidents or attacks on reactors pose unacceptable risk of catastrophic consequences,” they go on. In more than 70 years of nuclear power there have only been three nuclear accidents, the most recent of which, the Fukushima disaster of 2011, incurred no fatalities. Meanwhile, wind turbines are killing hundreds of thousands of birds every year.

Fukushima was built in the 1960s and hit by a tsunami. Australia offers a safer geography for nuclear power. As the closure of the giant Liddell coal power station nears in 2022, small modular imported nuclear reactors might be one option worth investigating, providing reliable, carbon-free power cheaply — and without killing animals.


Labor pledges to terminate half-a-billion-dollar Great Barrier Reef Foundation grant

This payment was a totally useless Turnbull brain fart that should never have happened.  Shorten is right to claw it back

Labor has vowed to strip the Great Barrier Reef Foundation of its half-a-billion-dollar grant if elected on May 18.

Labor added that it would redistribute that cash amongst public agencies, but is yet to detail specifics ahead of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's first election-period Queensland visit this week.

Last August, a $443 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation by Malcolm Turnbull's government was criticised for lacking an open tender process, and for burdening an organisation that had six full time staff with a grant of such a size.

Labor wrote to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation at the time to warn them that if the party won government, it could withdraw from the existing contract.

But this marks the first time they have determined to rip up the agreement.

"Every dollar returned will be invested back in the reef and we will seek advice on the most effective way to allocate the funding," Mr Shorten said, adding that his government would consult with the Department of Environment on its reef strategy.

Mr Shorten mentioned peak science body CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences as possible alternatives.

While the Great Barrier Reef Foundation has had all $443 million of the grant in its accounts for months, Labor environment spokesman Tony Burke has previously pointed to a contract clause that allows the agreement to be terminated if there was "a material change in Australian Government policy that is inconsistent with the continued operation of this agreement''.

In the letter warning the foundation that funding could be withdrawn, Labor advised it not to spend a disproportionate amount before the election, noting that the funds were set aside for a six-year period.


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

Friday, April 26, 2019

Anzac Day 2019: Peter Cosgrove’s parting message to next generation

Governor-general Peter Cosgrove has sought to reintroduce the Anzac legend to a new generation in his last Anzac Day address as the Queen’s representative in Australia.

Sir Peter, who will retire from public life in June, used his commemorative address at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to explain why Australians gather every April to commemorate veterans and the fallen to young people and new arrivals.

“For some here attending this moment in the national capital, and others like this elsewhere around the nation, this will be your first Anzac Day service,” he said in Canberra.

“Some of you are youngsters, some are new to this nation. From all of those newly come to this national ritual, we expect that you will all be eager to understand what it is that draws us, as a nation, to gather so solemnly.

“For those who wonder why communities assemble on this day every year at dawn and later in the morning, as Governor-general I say that in the gamut of motives from the profoundly philosophical to simple curiosity, there is a fundamental reason.

“It is by our presence to say to the shades of those countless men and women who did not come home or who made it back but who have now passed and to say to their modern representatives, the ones around the nation who today march behind their banners ‘You matter. What you did matters. You are in our hearts. Let it be always thus’.”

The crowd in Canberra burst into applause when the National Anzac Ceremony’s master of ceremonies, journalist Scott Bevan, thanked Sir Peter for his service and wished him well for his upcoming retirement.

The march at the national ceremony was led by Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith, who is currently suing the Sydney Morning Herald over allegations of war crimes and domestic violence, which the Afghanistan war hero strenuously denies.

Fellow VC recipient Corporal Mark Donaldson earlier gave the dawn service address in Canberra, where he called on young Australians to learn more about those who died.

Sir Peter will leave public life after five years as Governor-general and previous service as the Chief of the Australian Defence Forces. He will be replaced later this year by NSW Governor David Hurley.


What we are seeing at The Drum is cultural cleansing

Do you ever wonder if there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? Sorry, let me rephrase that: do you ever wonder if there is intelligent life in the universe? No doubt you too are curious about what it would make of us and our primitive attempts to make contact.

If we are to succeed in that endeavour, let us hope it is not through the Pioneer 10 and 11 space probes, which were launched in the early 1970s. Both bear a 15 x 23 gold-anodised plaque depicting a naked Caucasian couple, which was a blatant attempt to reinforce a racist, heteronormative, and binary hegemony under the guise of interstellar harmony. Nice going, NASA, you cultural and biological fascists.

Fortunately in these more enlightened times we are more woke to attempts to marginalise the wretched. And should we make contact with extra-terrestrials, it is more likely to be through the radio waves we have been transmitting for over a century. What they will first see is anyone’s guess. Imagine, for example, the impression we could convey through documentaries such as David Attenborough’s Planet Earth or When We Were Kings, the inspiring story of boxer Muhammad Ali’s triumph over George Foreman to reclaim his title as World Heavyweight Champion. But Murphy’s Law being what it is, I fear the aliens’ first impression of us will be gleaned from the self-centred, partisan and victimhood drivel which passes as informed comment today.

Which brings me to The Drum. According to the ABC website, the show, which is hosted alternately by Ellen Fanning and Julia Baird, features a “diverse, respectful and robust discussion” on “the key issues gripping or confounding Australia,” Australia being the areas within a five kilometre radius of the ABC studios at Ultimo, Sydney and Southbank, Melbourne.

An alien anthropologist would conclude from watching this show that the key issues gripping and confounding Australia were an impending climate apocalypse, as well as rampant misogyny, racism, and cruelty towards asylum-seekers. And naturally the anthropologist would also conclude the chief beneficiaries of this dystopian hierarchy are heterosexual and cisgender white males.

As with many of today’s public institutions, The Drum’s definition of diversity is taken from a social justice dictionary. Consider, for example, the program’s treatment of the Institute of Public Affairs, a public policy think tank which espouses principles such as limited government, individual autonomy, and freedom of speech — all oppressive and hateful concepts admittedly. Until April last year IPA representatives featured on The Drum at an average of once a month.

Its prolonged absence from the program is not of the IPA’s doing. As revealed by Sky News host and The Australian Associate Editor Chris Kenny on Monday, its representatives have effectively been blacklisted from The Drum, despite the ABC insisting otherwise.

This followed an aggressive social media disinformation campaign last year by leftist activists who claimed the show disproportionately featured IPA panellists. As Baird noted last year, one activist estimated the IPA had notched up 50 appearances on the show in the period between January and July in 2018, when the organisation had in fact appeared only three times. “But it is only the IPA that is shouted down when they appear on air,” she wrote last July. “So much so that it has become disproportionate and irrational.”

Kudos to Baird for admitting this, but unfortunately she herself has seemingly acquiesced in these demands. In the following months the IPA was politely rebuffed or ignored whenever its representatives volunteered to appear on the program. Last October the IPA’s media and communications manager, Evan Mulholland, emailed Baird to ask her whether the show had vetoed the appearance of the think tank’s staff. He was referred to the show’s executive producer, Annie White, who denied this, stating “We’ve had a very busy year and more than 500 people on our panel books.”

Who knew getting a gig on the show was so competitive? Let’s recap some statistics that Kenny on Media outlined concerning certain panellists from The Drum in the 12 months since an IPA representative last appeared. We begin with Per Capita, a think tank which espouses “shared prosperity, community and social justice”. It featured 10 times. The Diversity Council of Australia scored six appearances, as did Human Rights Watch and Change.org. As for the far-left activist group GetUp!, it featured eight times.

Muslim entrepreneur Aisha Novakovich and founder of Modest Fashion has appeared five times. Cross-cultural consultant and fellow Muslim Tasneem Chopra secured nine appearances. Presumably it is coincidence the IPA missed out all this time while these progressive interest groups and individuals were given a free run.

When a lone gunman and terrorist murdered 50 New Zealanders in two Christchurch mosques in March, The Drum was quick to analyse the atrocity through a familiar prism. “What role has Australian media and politics played in fomenting the rise of white supremacy?” it tweeted:

What role has Australian media and politics played in fomenting the rise of white supremacy? Tonight in a special episode of #TheDrum a panel of all Muslim women will discuss the social, cultural and political influences leading up to the Christchurch terror attack

The next weekday after the attack it featured an all Muslim women panel to discuss this theme. One of them was GetUp! board member Sara Saleh. In addition to saying former prime minister Tony Abbott’s “existence” was “offensive”, she said he, together with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, had “emboldened neo-Nazis and white supremacists,” declaring all three “have blood on their hands”. For good measure The Drum tweeted Saleh’s outrageous diatribe.

Now compare that with the show’s reaction to the terrorist bombings of three churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, allegedly by Islamic State, which resulted in the deaths of 359 people. This would have been an ideal time for The Drum to discuss the very real dangers that Christians face from Islamists in the developing world. So what was the show’s response? Put it this way, in the three episodes that have aired since the attack, none of them featured an all-Christian panel to canvas this.

When the show this month discussed the concept of masculinity, even seasoned cynical viewers were surprised at the unabashed misandry. “We need to do the hard work and for all men to put their hands up and acknowledge their misogyny, acknowledge the fact that they are profiting from toxic masculinity in some way, even if they are not violent,” said panellist and co-founder of HIV advocacy group The Institute of Many, Nic Holas.

To claim all men are guilty of misogyny and that masculinity is an original sin is a contemptible slur, yet this remark was not challenged by host John Barron. Guest Jacqui Watt, CEO of No to Violence, added in response to Holas that she “echoed everything he said”. Not surprisingly Twitter exploded, with many men expressing anger at being stigmatised, which prompted The Drum to tweet an admonishment. “Some of the comments below clearly breach the boundaries of civil language,” it read. “So a reminder: be respectful.”

I am certain even the most mild-mannered of men who saw that episode were tempted to give their televisions the full Elvis treatment. It takes a special kind of narcissistic dissonance on one hand to facilitate and condone the demonisation of 50 per cent of the population, yet on the other to take offence when being on the receiving end of a few choice words from that provoked demographic.

Just imagine the reaction if a men’s rights activist was invited on the panel and expressed similar views about feminism. “All fourth wave feminists need to put their hands up and acknowledge their misandry, acknowledge they are entitled harpies who profit from toxic feminism,” he would say. After pulling the plug for a brief period, The Drum would resume with a live shot of said man being hurled off the roof of ABC head office, along with any male who added that he “echoed everything he said”.

What we are seeing at The Drum is cultural cleansing, a gradual removal of all conservative commentary in accordance with ABC’s unspoken ethos and the militant demands of unrelenting social media activists. The ABC’s doing so is a total abrogation of its statutory charter, yet its staff continue to deny the organisation’s bias despite the abundant evidence. In a statement released Monday, the ABC said “The Drum draws on a database of more than 500 people for its panels; it aims for a diversity of guests and viewpoints from a range of sources. IPA representatives continue to be a part of this mix as they have previously.”

How appropriate the show is named after a percussion instrument. As they say, empty vessels make the most noise.


"Code of conduct". That’s code for ‘conduct yourself as we tell you’

A code of conduct is becoming an employer’s power trip

Ever since the ruling classes of East Germany shamelessly nicknamed the Berlin Wall the Antifaschistischer Schutzwall, the anti-fascist protection wall, it pays to check how those with power use words, pretending to protect us by restricting basic freedoms.

Those wielding power today favour deliberately innocuous labels to describe new institutional ramparts that limit basic freedoms. And nothing sounds more innocuous than a code of conduct.

Most read like bad poetry, sweet-sounding words linking lofty aspirations about how people should treat one another in a workplace. Codes of conduct have become a neat way to virtue-signal your political correctness too. No socially progressive word or phrase is left out, usually highly contestable, offering no great guidance for the reader or the employee.

Drawn up by ever-expanding human resources departments, these slick instruments are found inside just about every company, organisation, government body, sporting club or other group made up of more than a dozen people. Codes of conduct are sprouting like weeds, rarely trimmed for meaning, only ever augmented by more and more prose pickled in sugary sentiments.

But don’t be fooled by the vanilla label. Increasingly, a code of conduct is becoming an employer’s power trip, their weapon of choice in the workplace to limit the basic freedoms of employees. And these deliberately vague terms become expensive legal battles for sacked employees. Two examples in the past two weeks. Last week, Peter Ridd, the highly respected professor of physics, won his court case against James Cook University after he was sacked for offending the univer­sity’s code of conduct.

JCU used its code of conduct to full effect. When Ridd raised doubts about the quality of science claiming the Great Barrier Reef was being damaged, he was accused of misconduct, not acting in a collegial way, disparaging fellow academics, not upholding the integrity and good reputation of JCU. It made no difference to the code’s enforcers that Ridd raised his concerns in a polite and measured manner, making clear that fellow academics were honest, though mistaken, in their work.

When Ridd raised funds online to help pay for his expensive legal battle with JCU, the university accused him of breaching the code of conduct. When Ridd sent an email to a student, attaching a newspaper article headed “for your amusement”, the physics professor of 30 years’ standing was censured for acting contrary to an earlier “no satire direction” when JCU told Ridd not to trivialise, satirise or parody the univer­sity’s disciplinary action against him. When Ridd mentioned JCU’s “Orwellian” attitude to free speech in an email to another supportive student, JCU censured him for another breach of the code of conduct.

Note that JCU discovered the offending email by trawling through Ridd’s correspondence in a distinctly Orwellian manner.

On it went. Actions and words parsed and censured, secrecy sought under JCU’s code of conduct to protect the university, not Ridd.

Last week, the Federal Court rejected JCU’s 17 claims against Ridd under the university’s code of conduct. Federal Court judge Salvatore Vasta made clear that JCU’s fundamental error was to assume its code of conduct “is the lens through which all behaviour must be viewed”. Rather than starting from the principle of intellectual freedom set out in clause 14 of JCU’s enterprise agreement with academics, a core value that goes to the mission of a university, JCU used its lengthy and loquacious code of conduct to restrain Ridd. Therefore, it did not occur to JCU, or to academics who complained about Ridd, that the best response was to provide evidence Ridd’s claims were wrong. The enforcers chose censure and sacking over debate.

Rejecting JCU’s position, Vasta found the intellectual freedom clause is “the lens through which the behaviour of Professor Ridd must be viewed”. The judge said intellectual freedom allows people to express opinions without fear of reprisal. That is how Charles Darwin broke free from the constraints of creationism and how Albert Einstein challenged the constraints of Newtonian physics.

JCU will surely appeal this decision. Other universities will also be hoping for a favourable legal determination that upholds their codes of conduct as the final word, trumping even an intellectual freedom clause in an enterprise agreement with academics.

All things considered then, we have reached a shameful state of affairs: university leaders spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to uphold coercive powers they have given themselves under codes of conduct but expending no intellectual effort in considering the need for a truly liberating charter of intellectual freedom such as that drawn up by the University of Chicago and adopted by dozens of other American colleges.

This augurs poorly for Wallabies star Israel Folau, sacked last week by Rugby Australia using its code of conduct. Folau’s sacking was, in many ways, inevitable. If a university cannot uphold basic freedoms for academics to express honestly held views, what hope for a sporting code?

Folau’s contract with RA does not include a freedom of expression clause, but neither does it include a clause telling him to stop posting offensive views on social media. In another messy, expensive and protracted legal battle, the basic right to free speech will depend on whether RA’s code of conduct is the final legal word on Folau’s future.

RA could have left it to us in civil society to exercise our powers of condemnation against Folau for his ignorant and divisive comments. We could have enlightened Folau that gay people do not deserve to be in hell for their sexuality. Instead, RA became the enforcer, turning a goose into a martyr by using the same clumsy stick JCU used against Ridd.

What grates, more generally, is the selective approach to who gets hung, drawn and quartered these days. The Australian is aware that senior ABC staff have raised concerns with ABC management about divisive statements made by some of their so-called “talent”. Fairfax writer, ABC host and gay rights activist Benjamin Law happily tweeted during the same-sex marriage debate that he was “wondering if I’d hate-f..k all the anti-gay MPs in parliament if it meant they got the homophobia out of their system”. A few years ago, Josh Szeps, now an ABC host, expressed his view during a YouTube chat with Joe Rogan that it should be legal for a woman to kill her unborn baby right up to nine months’ gestation, and sometimes after birth. Are these statements any less abhorrent than Folau’s views?

Vaguely drafted codes of conduct are a conduit for double standards. And that is why they are bogus legal instruments. Every law student is taught that contracts can be voided for uncertainty. A boss should only ever have power to adversely affect a person’s employment in the clearest and most precise circumstances. It is high time that proliferating codes of conduct are exposed as dangerously vague virtue-signalling instruments with a nasty kick to them, allowing bosses to terminate an employee at will.


Shorten all tip and no iceberg on living costs

Yesterday’s recorded consumer price index movement for the March quarter of this year was a big fat zero. That’s right: according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, consumer prices on balance were flat.

I wouldn’t like my chances of persuading the people walking alongside the river close to my office that this is the case. Doubtless, many of the responses would be unprintable.

According to the figures, vegetables, secondary education and motor vehicles went up in price but automotive fuel and domestic and international holidays went down.

Bear in mind that the CPI doesn’t record the cost of living, in part because the CPI is based on an average basket of goods and services, and different groups consume different baskets of goods and services. Consider, for instance, the different consumption patterns of young families compared with retirees.

The key distinction is between the price of unavoidable purchases — electricity, health, education, childcare and the like — and discretionary or luxury purchases.

Adam Creighton, economics editor of The Australian, has discussed this topic over the years. He has noted that “luxuries have fallen in price, while those of many essentials — which tend to make up a bigger share of poorer households’ budgets — have increased. Purchases that can be put off have been falling while those that can’t, such as university fees (up 53 per cent), have tended to surge.

“The entry of China and more recently India into the global economy has slashed the cost of goods that can be traded, while the costs of services ... have risen.”

He further illustrates the point by noting that “the price of holidays has grown only half as fast as the CPI since 2007 (overseas stays even more slowly). But electricity has shot up 114 per cent, water bills and gas prices about 90 per cent and medical services 84 per cent.”

Do these CPI figures steal Bill Shorten’s electioneering thunder, given his ongoing emphasis during the campaign on the cost of living pressures felt by voters and Labor’s intention to alleviate them?

The first thing to note is that, in a technical sense, the low inflation figure recorded — only 1.3 per cent over the year ending in the March quarter — will feed into the decision-making of the Fair Work Commission when deciding on the appropriate change to the national minimum wage this year. The increase will apply from July 1. Note also that a number of welfare payments are indexed by the CPI and so only very low increases will apply.

The second issue is that it’s not clear how Labor can really address the inflationary pressures in the non-traded goods sectors, which are very often exacerbated by faulty government intervention.

The ongoing increases in cost of childcare, for instance, simply mirror the large increases in government outlays on childcare subsidies. The benefits are essentially captured by the centre owners and not the parents.

There is also a real danger that Shorten’s pledges in relation to cancer will just lead to higher incomes for providers, particularly medical imaging firms, radiologists and oncologists.

As for electricity prices, it’s a brave call to think Labor’s target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 will lead to lower prices given that the increasing penetration of renewables that has already occurred has led to a doubling in the real price of electricity in a decade.

The truth is that Shorten is all tip and no iceberg when it comes to the cost of living. He may be able to identify the problem but he has no sustainable solutions, and some of Labor’s policies will make the cost of living pressures even worse. No doubt he will keep talking the talk.


 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, April 25, 2019

The Ridd affair is a debacle for JCU -- and its council should look into it

Physicist Prof. Ridd blew the whistle on scientific fraud at JCU and the Warmist fraudsters hate him for it. He showed that their statements about the "endangered" Great Barrier Reef depended on very selective evidence.  They had no defence against his accusations so they played the man, not the ball.  The Federal court has just overturned their attempt to fire him. 

They were relying on the taxpayers' deep pockets to ensure that Ridd could not afford to challenge them in court.  But Ridd's treatment was so palpably wrong that many people rallied to his defence by contributing to his fighting fund

The unrepentant academics at JCU have said they will appeal the finding.  They may be encouraged by the fact that judge Vasta has been overturned a few times lately.  They should not get their hopes up. He has been overturned on appeal at least 15 times but he has heard more than 1000 cases.  That's not good odds for them

Thank God for the National Tertiary Education Union. Sacked professor Peter Ridd won his Federal Court action against James Cook University this month ­entirely because the university’s enterprise bargaining agreement, negotiated by the union, included a lengthy and carefully worded protection for intellectual freedom.

And that is the simple fact. Ridd’s win (he was found to have been wrongly dismissed) was a big victory for intellectual freedom in academia, and its legal foundation is in the commitment of the tertiary union to free speech.

Why is last week’s decision, from judge Salvatore Vasta, so important? It helps to look back at the history of this dispute.

First of all, Ridd is a respected scientist. He was head of physics at JCU from 2009 to 2016, and he managed the university’s marine geophysical laboratory for 15 years. He has expertise in studies of the Great Barrier Reef.

But he held concerns about the methodology used by some colleagues who said that coral bleaching on the reef was a recent phenomenon and linked to global warming.

Ridd also questioned the methodology behind findings that sediment in run-off was damaging the reef.

Ridd spoke to journalists and made public statements about these concerns. He questioned the judgments of colleagues and called on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as well as the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies to “check their facts before they spin their story”.

But the point about this is that Ridd was arguing about scientific judgments. His views may be right or wrong. But they are testable in the way all scientific assertions should be tested — by observation and experiment. Scientific controversies are a staple of the history of science and, eventually, truth outs.

But the university, offended by Ridd’s contrarian views and possibly fearing the impact it would have on its relations with other bodies such as the GBRMPA and the ARC Centre of Excellence, went after Ridd personally, saying that he had breached the university’s code of conduct by not upholding “the integrity and good reputation of the university”.

The university also trawled through Ridd’s work emails and came up with things that reflected on the organisation and some of Ridd’s colleagues.

There was this statement by Ridd: “ … our whole university system pretends to value free debate, but in fact it crushes it whenever the ‘wrong’ ideas are spoken. They are truly an Orwellian in nature.” And this, referring to some colleagues: “Needless to say I have certainly offended some sensitive but powerful and ruthless egos.”

Such statements, in the view of the university, were again not upholding the university’s good integrity and good reputation.

Sensibly, [judge] Vasta took the view that Ridd was just exercising his right, contained in the enterprise agreement, to “express opinions about the operations of JCU” and “express disagreement with university decisions and with the processes used to make those decisions”.

Naturally the university doesn’t agree. In a statement last week, issued after the decision, it stood by its view that Ridd “engaged in serious misconduct, including denigrating the university and its employees and breaching confidentiality directions regarding the disciplinary processes”.

“We are a university,” JCU also proclaimed in the statement. “Within our very DNA is the importance of promoting academic views and collegiate debate.”

With respect, it is exactly the lack of commitment to academic and collegiate debate that is the problem.

If the university had taken Ridd’s scientific objections to findings about damage to the Barrier Reef seriously, it’s very unlikely that this debacle — which is highly damaging to the university — would have occurred.

There is another point that needs to be made. The science at issue here is not about whether or not global warming is occurring, or whether or not such warming is caused by humans. What Ridd questioned is whether recent bleaching (which nobody disputes occurred) is itself evidence of warming. Ridd presented evidence — which should have been ­investigated, not summarily dismissed — that bleaching is a recurring phenomenon not specifically linked to warming.

In the court decision, Vasta offered his own defence of intellectual freedom and an implicit rebuke of JCU.

“It (intellectual freedom) allows a Charles Darwin to break free of the constraints of creationism. It allows an Albert Einstein to break free of the constraints of Newtonian physics. It allows the human race to question conventional wisdom in the never-ending search for knowledge and truth. And that, at its core, is what higher learning is about. To suggest otherwise is to ignore why universities were created and why critically focused academics remain central to all that university teaching claims to offer,” the judge said.

The Ridd affair should be of major concern to the JCU council — the university’s governing body — and its chancellor, former diplomat Bill Tweddell. If the council doesn’t look into why the university sacked a professor whose honestly held scientific views happened to be unpopular, then it’s failing in its duty.


Fraser Anning speaks following Sri Lankan bombings

What the senator says seems simply factual to me.  What has he said that is not true?  There are fashions about things that must not be said but that is all the more reason to say them, it seems to me

Senator Fraser Anning has claimed he was “right all along” in an  anti-Muslim Twitter rant following the Sri Lankan bombings.

The Sri Lankan Government has blamed the attacks on Islamic extremist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

Senator Anning wasted little time using the attacks to announce he was “right all along” about the connection between Islam and violence.

“I was right all along. Islamic populations do indeed create violence.”

The Queensland senator went on to call out New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who was pictured donning a hijab out of respect following the Christchurch mosque shootings last month.

“Where is all the condemnation around the world on extreme radical Islam,” Senator Anning wrote. “Our politicians are quiet. What about the New Zealand PM who is now wearing a hijab, embracing Islam and playing the Islamic call to prayer?”

 Where is the world coming together for Christianity after almost 300 are dead and churches bombed in Sri Lanka?

This is one of the largest Islamic terrorist attacks ever, and yet the mainstream media is far less outraged compared to during the Christchurch shootings.

The media were next in the firing line, with Senator Anning claiming mainstream news outlets have been giving less attention to the Sri Lankan bombings than they gave to the Christchurch massacre.

He then took a swipe at “egg boy”, also known as Will Connolly, who gained the nickname after cracking an egg on Senator Anning’s head in the wake of his controversial comments about Christchurch.

“Almost 300 dead due to Islamic terrorists in Sri Lanka. Where is egg boy now?” the tweet read.

 What I said and has been proven completely true is that Islamic populations when they increase in number will result in an increase in violence.

I also said during Christchurch, that whilst Muslims had been the victims, Muslims are usually the perpetrators in terrorist attacks.

The Islamophobic comments Senator Anning made following the Christchurch shootings were slammed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as “disgusting”.

But the widespread backlash didn’t deter the senator from last night reiterating and standing by what he said.

“I also said during Christchurch, that whilst Muslims had been the victims, Muslims are usually the perpetrators in terrorist attacks,” he tweeted.

Senator Anning finished off his rant by warning Australians there will be more terrorist attacks here if the government continued to allow Muslims to enter the country.

He even went as far as telling people they would “face death” if they didn’t heed his advice.

Senator Anning’s controversial posts have racked up thousands of comments, both from people condemning the senator’s actions and from people praising him.


Labor’s carbon knockout for top companies

Australia’s top companies — including food manufacturers, miners and retailers — will be hit with carbon bills ranging from several millions dollars to up to $1.6 billion each to meet Labor’s emissions-­reduction targets by 2030, according to a government analysis of the policy based on a future inter­national carbon price of $62 a tonne.

Resources giant Chevron is estimated to be facing a $1.6bn liability under a phased-in target, while Alcoa could be forced to buy $867 million in credits if it is unable to reduce its emissions by 2030.

Retail food group Woolworths could be up for $77m in credits, which industry experts have warned could affect the price of food, while BlueScope steel’s liability could be as high as $890m over the 10-year horizon.

The Australian revealed last week that the cost to business to meet Labor’s targets of a 45 per cent reduction in 2005 emission levels could be as high as $25bn based on a future international carbon price of $50 a tonne.

Bill Shorten has disputed the numbers but has not said what Labor’s policy forecasts on costs will be.

The dispute hinges on Labor’s plans to reduce the current safeguard mechanism that imposes penalties on companies that produce more than 100,000 tonnes a year of carbon emissions, to 25,000 tonnes a year.

The policy claimed this would capture 250 of Australia’s top companies which would be forced to reduce their emissions or buy offsets, including international carbon credits.

The current 100,000-tonne safeguard covers 140 companies but is rarely, if ever, triggered by the government, which shifts the baseline to avoid having to heavily penalise companies that go over it.

The government has been accused of watering down the safeguard by allowing companies to claim exemptions for a range of reasons, including the expansion of their business.

Labor’s policy will lower the threshold capturing more companies but will more aggressively police the safeguard to ensure compliance.

The Opposition Leader has dismissed suggestions an inter­national carbon price will be above $60 a tonne by 2030 — despite the figure being regarded as a conservative estimate in modelling by former government scientist and contributing author to the International Panel on Climate Change Brian Fisher.

Josh Frydenberg yesterday said analysis done by his policy team confirmed the bill over the decade could be between $13bn and $26bn for businesses’ obligations triggered under Labor’s policy.

The figures for individual companies are based on their annual emissions as recorded by the Clean Energy Regulator and working on an assumption that they would have to purchase international credits to meet their obligations under Labor’s 25,000-tonne safeguard.

Scott Morrison yesterday continued his climate attack on Mr Shorten, warning voters that the Labor leader could not “explain his emissions-reduction policies”.

“There’s the cost he won’t explain on his emissions-reduction policies, particularly up there in Queensland … where GetUp is going around trying to take away people’s jobs,” the Prime Minister said.

“Bill Shorten — who is the godfather of GetUp — needs to explain why he cannot tell people what the cost of his emissions-­reduction policies are,” he said.

Mr Shorten said economist Warwick McKibbin, on whom he was relying to defend his emissions policy, had this week made it clear that the “debate about cost … isn’t the main game”.

“What he said to do is you have got to compare the cost of not taking action on climate change in 2030 with the cost of taking climate action,” Mr Shorten said. “And what he said is have a look at the detailed policies. Labor’s got policies. So let’s once and for all … put a stake into that argument.”

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale said Labor wasn’t “serious about tackling dangerous climate change”, attacking Mr Shorten’s $1.5bn plan to unlock gas reserves in northern Australia.

“We are in the middle of a climate emergency and we can’t be opening up any more coal, oil or gas fields if we are going to hand over a sustainable environment to our children and grandchildren,” he said.

“Australia’s fastest-growing source of emissions is leaking methane from gas projects.

“Labor’s plan will simply add to Australia’s growing emissions when they need to be going the other way.”


Bill Shorten taking a risk with millennial pitch

The corporate world is watching with fascination the risks Bill Shorten and the ALP are taking in putting a significant portion of their 2019 election campaign eggs in the millennial basket.

The focus on the millennials starts on the positive side, with policies that 18-37years olds find attractive on climate change, lower house prices, and higher wages including higher shift allowances.

Naturally the ALP is hoping to also to attract people in Generation X with these policies.

At the same time, Labor is attacking the baby boomers aged between 58 and 77 (and those aged above 50 thinking of retiring), as well as the older pre-boomers, with a ferocity rarely deployed against one segment of a community in an election.

Early this week I catalogued ten blows that the ALP is landing on the parents and grandparents of the millennials.

If it works, then marketing in Australia will require a very different approach and the concept of marketing to the whole population will be in tatters.

Also writing in The Australian, Bernard Salt set out why the ALP millennial strategy could work. It’s because together, millennials are the biggest single population group in the country, with 7.3 million people or 36. per cent of the total voting population. If all the generations united against them of course they will lose, but that is not likely.

But the danger the ALP faces in this strategy is highlighted by some fascinating findings by Morgan Research. They show that in Sydney and Melbourne — our two most populous cities — close to one in three millennials (31 per cent) were born in Asia. Asian-born people represent a much larger proportion of the 18-37 age group than they do in older age brackets.

Morgan says that Asian born millennials are much more likely to hold socially conservative views and values, despite their youth. They contrast starkly with Australian-born millennials. For example, four in ten Australian born millennials are married (41 per cent) compared to seven in ten Asian born millennials (74 per cent), and that particularly applies to those from India.

One in five millennials born in China own their own homes outright, compared one in eight Australian-born millennials. Religion is more prominent to Asian born millennials with one in four regularly attending a place of worship compared to 14 per cent of their Australian-born peers. Just how these Asian born millennials will view the attack on their parents and grandparents is of course completely unknown. It is possible they will not know the extent of the attacks.

However millennials, whether they be Asian or Australian born, have a number of features in common in particular they are very tech savvy and very big users of social media which is how they get much of their information. Many of their parents do not speak English well and again may not be aware of how the ALP is preparing to attack them, although they will be aware of the negative gearing measures which will adversely affect many in the Chinese community.

But they certainly would not have read Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech, where the ALP set out is aim with great clarity. Shorten declared: “We are going to stop intergenerational unfairness in our tax system”.

That is shorthand for declaring that the parents and grandparents of the millennials are going to be a lot poorer. The ALP crafted its 10-pronged attack to minimise the blows on the rich and poor, although some pensioners get caught up in hits delivered to the baby boomers.

However against that, the ALP is very skilled in the way it uses social media and relates to tech savvy people. And in particular it is likely that the views of the Asian-born millennials on climate change and wages will be very similar to their Australian-born peers.

But the fact that the segment of the community to whom the ALP is looking to win is in fact divided into two very separate groups increases the risk of the ALP strategy. As for the Coalition, it needs to bring around it younger people from migrant communities who know how to relate to the young people in their group. In particular, the Coalition must emphasise the ten taxation blows being directed at their parents and grandparents.

At the same time many in the migrant community run small businesses. As I described on Tuesday, both parties are coming together with small business policies but all small businesses employing low cost labour will not be pleased at Bill Shorten’s plan to increase shift allowances.

But of course their children may have a different view.


March and a quiet beer in store for VC hero Ben Roberts-Smith

The accusation of war crimes against one of our bravest and most distinguished soldiers is just the usual attempt by little people to tear down men better than themselves

It’s hard to keep Anzac Day low key when you’re a 2m tall former SAS trooper with a bronze Victoria Cross pinned to your chest, but this year Ben Roberts-Smith is going to give it a go.

Since leaving the army in 2013, the 40-year-old has been on a ­carousel of public and corporate obligations: chairman of the Australia Day Council, Father of the Year, general manager of Seven Queensland.

This year, he is hoping to keep it simple. “The Canberra RSL has asked me to lead the march, which is a great honour,’’ he said. “After that, I’ll catch up with my friends and colleagues and we’ll probably have a beer.’’

It’s no secret Mr Roberts-Smith has had a torrid year. He is embroiled in a defamation action against Nine over a series of articles that he says portrayed him as a war criminal, a bully and a domestic abuser. A long-running inquiry into possible war crimes committed by the SASR and the commandos will soon hand down its findings.

Mr Roberts-Smith is reluctant to talk about the events of the past year. Not, he said, because he had anything to hide — he fiercely maintains his innocence — but on a day given over to the service of all veterans, he is loath to focus on his own woes.

“My family and I have been under a lot of undue and unfair scrutiny of late,’’ he said. “My opinion is that I won’t let any media outlet dictate when and where I support veterans. This Anzac Day, I’ll do what I can to ensure all veterans are recognised, the ones that have gone before me and the contemporary ones.’’

The ACT RSL’s decision to tap Mr Roberts-Smith to lead out the march represents something of a generational shift for an ­organisation founded in 1916, at a time when support services for ­returning veterans were non-existent. “They’re trying to connect with younger veterans, so this is a good opportunity to help them do that,’’ Mr Roberts-Smith said.

Some of those younger veterans are doing it pretty tough. A 2017 study by the National Mental Health Commission found the suicide rate for serving members of the Australian Defence Force is lower than the nat­ional average but higher for those who’ve left.

The danger zone seems to be in the period of transition when veterans must learn to live with the burdens of their service without the support services laid on by the military.

Mr Roberts-Smith doesn’t think his generation of veterans is doing it any tougher than previous ones — in fact, he’s full of praise for the way Australians have embraced newer veterans — but he worries that as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, there is a danger we could lose focus.

“We shouldn’t forget that some of these guys are just in their 20s,” he said. “They can’t just be thrown back into society and told to deal with it.’’


 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