Monday, July 22, 2019

Another prominent Australian Greenie attacks windmills

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has backed his predecessor Bob Brown’s concerns about a proposed wind farm on Tasmania’s Robbins Island, saying it needs to be subject to a thorough planning process.

Dr Brown told The Australian this week the wind farm was comparable to the Franklin Dam, and yesterday condemned the company behind the proposal, UPC Renewables, as a “profit-seeking multinational”. He has shocked many with his objections after supporting earlier wind farm developments in the state.

Asked whether it was a sign of renewable energy’s success that it’s now embraced by corporations “big and profitable enough to offend the Greens”, Senator Di Natale told Insiders the substance of Dr Brown’s criticism was the impact of the project on the local environment.

“This is an area where you’ve got migratory bird species, many of them threatened, nesting shore birds, and that’s why it needs to be subject to a thorough planning process,” Senator Di Natale said.

“The reality is that the Greens are very strong supporters of renewable energy.

“We understand that coal is the central problem when it comes to climate change, that we have to transition away from coal to renewable energy.

“Under Bob, we had a big hand in establishing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation that has meant billions of dollars flowing into wind projects and solar projects, but even the strongest supporters of those projects wouldn’t say that every single site in the country is suitable site.

“You wouldn’t put offshore wind farms on the Great Barrier Reef or solar panels on the Opera House.”

Senator Di Natale said the details of the Robbins Island proposal weren’t yet clear.

“When there is a final proposal it will be subject to a whole bunch of planning laws,” he said.

‘We’re the real opposition’

Senator Di Natale also hit out at the Labor Party, condemning them from passing the Coalition’s suite of income tax cuts, arguing that the Labor Party has “decided that the best way to beat a terrible conservative government is by adopting their policies.”

“What we need is a real opposition in this country, and it’s very clear that the Greens are now the real opposition.

“It was the Labor Party, who, quite rightly in the lead-up to the election, talked about how important it was to improve the tax system, to deal with economic inequality.

“You had the deputy leader saying that it was a good thing that coal was coming to an end. “After the election, they’ve backed in the biggest tax cuts that we’ve seen. They’ve backed in the government’s flat tax, small government agenda.

“(Deputy leader) Richard Marles is out there saying that we should celebrate the coal industry. “You don’t beat the conservatives by adopting their policies.”


Evidence will provide education solutions

It is the duty of the State to educate, and the right of the people to demand education (Edmund Barton, Prime Minister of Australia 1901-1903)

Australia’s first Prime Minister, the Honourable Edmund Barton, was an outstanding scholar, dux of Sydney Grammar School and a prize-winning graduate in classics at the University of Sydney. A passionate advocate of Federation, he told audiences that ‘For the first time in history, we have a nation for a continent and a continent for a nation.’ Barton supported the provision of free, compulsory education and believed that schooling should be ‘unsectarian’.

How might he view the state of education in the 21st century?

On the basis of official reports and public commentary, Barton might well observe that Australia’s youngest citizens could be better served. Surely he would marvel at the very low level of public confidence in education, relative to the extraordinarily high levels of taxpayer funding.

Today’s educational deficits are due to the absence of genuine national commitment and collaboration as well as the ongoing adoption of fads and trends in the hope of quick fixes.

A clever Australia — to channel the late former Prime Minister Bob Hawke — needs powerful nation-building philosophies and strategies. This is particularly true of education, a public good that transforms lives and societies like no other and whose success depends on the intellectual credibility and humanitarian aspirations of its champions.

Evidence of a national loss of confidence in education comes from those who defend Australia’s annual program of standardised tests for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. However flawed NAPLAN may be, they argue, it must be retained because it constitutes the only objective mechanism for measuring student performance, monitoring teacher effectiveness and providing data to parents and schools.

Given the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on school education every year, it should be easy to point to steady improvements resulting from careful investment. While there are wonderful examples of achievement and innovation around Australia, the findings are largely negative, with descriptions such as ‘stagnant’, ‘declining’, ‘lacking in rigour’ and ‘inequitable’ appearing all too often.

Not only are Australian students underperforming in the national tests of literacy and numeracy, international assessments such as PISA reveal that our secondary school students are increasingly less academically competitive with their international counterparts. Employers and tertiary institutions are concerned about the poor knowledge and skills of school leavers, too many of whom need remedial support. Teacher morale is low, reflected in part by the continued high attrition rate of early-career educators.

Many factors contribute to a respected, high-performing system of education. Some, such as student motivation, parental involvement and socio-cultural understanding and support, are more external and can be hard to gauge and grow. Others are the business of school leaders and teachers, education authorities and professional bodies, such as setting consistently high academic standards and expectations of classroom behaviour and school culture, delivering high-quality instruction, designing useful, robust assessment tasks and reporting honestly and effectively on student performance.

Under Australia’s federal model of government, the states and territories carry constitutional responsibility for the education of all children. However, in recent decades, concerns about the direction and quality of schooling have brought changes in the national education infrastructure.
National collaboration was identified as one of the key strategies for achieving the educational goals articulated in the Melbourne Declaration; the ‘roadmap’ signed by all federal and state education ministers in 2008.

In addition to a national school funding model, Australia now has a national curriculum (the Australian Curriculum, completed in 2016), a national program of standardised testing (dominated by NAPLAN) and a national reporting instrument (My School), the last three managed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). Another national body, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), is responsible for the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and Principals.

The limitations of federation are clear, however. For example, only five of the eight states and territories have adopted the Australian Curriculum in its original form, and even that applies only to students in Kindergarten to Year 10. The policies and practices applicable to students in Years 11 and 12 vary significantly across the country; there are no agreed national academic standards for school leavers and there is minimal alignment of approaches across primary and secondary levels, including teaching, assessment and reporting. It can be very difficult for students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders to grasp what success looks like at the various stages of Australian schooling.

Duplication of effort is a waste of time and money. A useful first step would be to undertake an independent, comprehensive national information audit – likely the first of its kind –to ascertain the nature, extent and effectiveness of expenditure, collaboration and innovation in Australian school education. This would provide a unique platform on which to identify successes as well as overlap, blockages and deficits. Most importantly, it would demonstrate cross-sectoral commitment to national goals.

This great country, with its small, dispersed population and limited taxpayer base, has its work cut out to design and deliver the best possible education for all young Australians. A common sense, evidence-based approach will provide the solutions to most challenges — and this should not cost the earth.


Farmers line up for $750m in Murray-Darling compensation case

There can be no excuse for giving the farmers ZERO of the available river water

A landmark $750 million class ­action enters court next week with more than 500 drought-­ravaged irrigation farmers claiming financial damage from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s alleged water mismanagement.

The law suit, initiated only two months ago by farmer and rural activist Chris Brooks, has signed up more than half the estimated 1000 affected landholders after he ran a road show around local communities.

The suit seeks damages from the MDBA for allegedly draining the Menindee Lakes in NSW, and then diverting water into the ­Murray River downstream, breaking its banks, and allowing it to flow through forests to build up storages for South Australia.

It claims these practices resulted in inadequate reserves for NSW farmers, and led to the continuin­g zero water allocations for irrigation on the Murray.

“They flooded the forest for 141 days last year, doing untold envir­onmental damage, and wasted all of our water down an extremely high-flowing Murray River, which simply flowed out to sea, was lost in transmission or evapor­ated in the lower lakes, while we were allocated zero volume­ of water against our allocation,” Mr Brooks said.

A spokesman for the authority said “it’s the MDBA’s view that river operations were not mismanaged”.

Prominent barrister and former­ judge Ian Coleman SC will lead the farmers’ case, while the MDBA is represented by Scott Nixon SC and Catherine Gleeson.

The farmers and their lawyers are well advanced in negotiations with a litigation funder who will ­finance the case in exchange for a percentage of any payout forced upon the MDBA.

“He has given initial advice that he is happy with the inform­ation we have supplied, and it would appear from the evidence currently gathered that we have a reasonable case,” Mr Brooks said.

Apart from seeking financial remedy, the farmers believe the case before the NSW Supreme Court will provide public expos­ure of what they claim is a bias in government and the MDBA ­towards the left and green-leaning inclinations of urban voters rather than rural communities.

Jon Gatacre, the third generation to operate his family property near the NSW Riverina town of Deniliquin, has signed up with legal firm Aqua Law to join the case. He hoped it would “highlight a lot of issues and bring it to the public and expose how it’s all come to this point”. “I’ve been home for 20 years and very frustrated about the disregar­d for irrigators and farmers,” he said.

“Going through the millennium drought it was stark to see that the environmentalists were taking over a lot of our rights and our water, and even our land decisions. “The water being wasted down the river is disgraceful … these communities like Deniliquin just can’t last any longer.”

The original statement of claim involves only nine plaintiffs, and Aqua Law solicitor Tim Horne said he expected the first day of the case in Sydney on Wednesda­y would address how to ­introduce the hundreds of other farmers who want to join it.

Mr Brooks said the initial close of the sign-up list for farmers to join the case had been extended, due to expanding interest.

“We expect to have over 1000 individual growers representing an estimated 1300 landholdings that are entitled to approximately 750,000 megalitres of water in the NSW Murray by the time the class action is listed to begin, and this should represent a cash claim of almost $750 million,” he said.


GetUp chiefs face complaint to parliamentary committee

GetUp chiefs could be hauled to parliament to explain their conduct during the election as Liberal MP Kevin Andrews plans to push a formal complaint against the left-wing activist network.

Mr Andrews’ move against GetUp in parliament comes as Liberal MP Nicolle Flint says she will do “everything in my power” to stop aggressive campaigns against MPs, which she says nearly led to a breakdown.

The former defence minister — who won his Melbourne seat of Menzies in May despite a strong campaign against him — will go to the joint standing committee of electoral matters over GetUp.

“I intend to make a submission to the Committee about the activities of GetUp and its affiliates,” he told The Australian today.

Mr Andrews told The Australian earlier today that he was falsely accused of supporting gay conversion therapy, a topic he has never even discussed, with GetUp withdrawing the claim only after he threatened legal action.

He was also targeted by a multicultural group called Colour Code, which shared the same ­address as GetUp, and distributed material in Mandarin to Chinese-Australian voters in his Melbourne electorate of Menzies labelling him a racist.

Ms Flint — who revealed to The Australian she was stalked during the election campaign and had her election material vandalised — told Sky News she wanted the aggressive campaigns to stop and to make GetUp’s funding more transparent.

“I want to do everything in my power to make sure this behaviour stops in Australia,” she said today.

“We’ve got to make sure people like me feel safe in my workplace … we’ve never seen this level of aggression, and a lot of it was abuse as well.

“We need to fully expose the tactics of GetUp and the unions and how they’ve worked with the Labor Party to run these hit campaigns against people like me.

“I don’t believe GetUp is subject to the same political funding reporting requirements that the unions or certainly political parties are. So where is the funding from?”

A spokesman for GetUp yesterday rejected responsibility for Ms Flint’s treatment, saying the group had written a tweet during the campaign condemning the attacks on her campaign office.

“GetUp condemns the sexist and cruel attacks Nicolle Flint and other women, such as Zali Steggall, faced during the election, as well as bullying from within the party.

“We specifically condemned the attacks on Ms Flint’s office at the time. There is no place for that in our politics,” it said.

“GetUp volunteers campaigned in Boothby to champion climate action, by singing alongside children’s entertainer Peter Combe, having heart-to-heart phone calls with their neighbours and volunteering on election day.

“We will continue to hold politicians to account on the issues that matter.”


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

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