Sunday, July 07, 2019

Commuter chaos as militant climate change protesters shut down Sydney streets to protest the controversial Adani mine

Queensland already has massive coal mines.  Why is another one so different?  Is it racial prejudice against its Indian owner?  The claims of environmental damage are pure hysteria.  We already know well what actual threats to the environment come from coal mines and have had plenty of practice in preventing them

There is no unaddressed problem with the mine and both major parties at the Federal and State level have approved it.  So why is this small group of fantasists protesting?  It's just virtue signalling.  They are publicity hounds and want people to think how good and kind and wise they are.  The unfortunate Mr Adani has just been chosen as a symbolic target.  His brown skin probably helped single him out

Parts of Sydney have been shut down as demonstrators march through the streets in protest of the Adani mine.

Hundreds of activists have brandished placards as they walk along Bathurst Street in Town Hall. 'Coral not Coal,' one sign reads.

A child could also be seen amid the crowd waving a sign that read: 'Adani you have kids... think about our children.'

Parts of Brisbane have also been brought to a standstill with protests across the city kicking into high gear. Protesters could be heard chanting throughout Brisbane Square: 'Palaszczuk hear us say, we’ll fight Adani all the way.'

Organiser Catherine Robertson said the protest intended to put pressure on the Queensland Government. 'We're stopping the city again because we can't afford to let the Adani coal mine become a reality,' she said in a statement.

'The mine is going to destroy the Galilee Basin, lead to mass extinctions and push us to a point of no return on the climate.'

She said she was expecting a crowd of 2,000 people as they pressured the state government to 'rip up' contracts with the Indian mining company. 'We want to disrupt the city so the Labor government takes notice,' she said.

'Adani will result in the extinction of that entire part of the state.'

In anticipation of the protest public order and riot squad officers were deployed to parts of Sydney to prepare for the oncoming flood of protesters.

The protest on Friday follows a string of demonstrations held in Queensland in June. Five protesters glued themselves to a street while more than 700 marched through Brisbane Square on June 21. Only a few days earlier protesters glued themselves to a busy street and caused commuter chaos.

After eight years, the Adani coalmine was given its final environmental approval in early June.

Queensland's government said it had accepted a groundwater management plan for the Indian-owned Adani Carmichael mine -- the last major legal hurdle before construction can begin.

The vast open cut mine is slated to produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year, boosting Australia's already vast exports by around 20 percent.

Coupled with the construction of a railway link, it could open up a swathe of Queensland to further exploitation and new mining projects.

'If all the coal in the Galilee Basin is burnt it would produce 705 million tonnes of climate pollution each year, which is more than 1.3 times Australia's annual pollution from all sources, including cars, industry, energy and agriculture,' the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

While some locals are thankful for the jobs the mine promises to create, others have been opposed to the environmental impact of a new coal mine.

Adani originally promised to employ 10,000 news jobs, but this figure has since been cut back to just 1,500 with a potential 6,750 indirect jobs, Mining Monthly reported.


Scott Morrison now has a clear run

The wreckers have all gone, leaving the way for a new united Liberal party

One week of parliament down, tax cuts passed and, for so many reasons, Scott Morrison is in pole position. The ghouls of the Liberal Party fled the house early, expecting an election defeat in May. Christopher Pyne has a new controversial gig, Julie Bishop is touting a chat-with-chicks TV show, Malcolm Turnbull is back in Point Piper spellchecking a book that does not end well — for him. Tony Abbott has gone, too. All were parties to unresolved internal spats and lingering resentments. And the Prime Minister is better off without them.

Adding to the early joy of the 46th parliament, the opposition is in disarray. It is led by a new leader historically wedded to the sort of left-wing politics that caused Labor’s most recent electoral rout.

This week’s contortions on tax by Anthony Albanese show a party still consumed with a class-war tax agenda. Labor’s Ed Husic claims that a budget surplus is a vanity exercise: if this is Labor’s stance on budget matters then the party remains fiscally and politically clueless.

The Senate is another blessing for the Coalition; a crossbench that is a damn sight healthier than before the election. Morrison’s agenda — set out by Governor-General David Hurley in his address to parliament on Tuesday, from tax and industrial relations to removing red tape and introducing new laws to protect religious freedom — stands a good chance. Provided the Coalition government can make the case for each reform.

Morrison is at the mercy of little else, except his own ambition and ability.

That the Prime Minister has clear air, while the Opposition Leader has Bill Shorten brooding like the ghost from Christmas past, is his biggest gift. Together with Josh Frydenberg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, the leadership team can get on with the work of government rather than the tedious internal games that defined the 45th parliament.

On this front, miracles started mounting early for Morrison when Pyne, Bishop and Turnbull announced their departures. The behaviour of this trio before and after they left parliament proves why Morrison, and the country, is better off without them. Pyne was best known as a plotter of the dark arts of politics. Many of his colleagues will tell you privately that, after a quarter-century in Canberra, he has left behind few traces of signature policy convictions.

While many found Pyne funny and quick-witted, he wasn’t exact­ly trusted in his party. Pyne said the Liberal Party needed more women, only for his South Australian factional forces to try to oust hardworking, impressive Liberal MP Nicolle Flint. When Pyne announced he was leaving politics, his seat went to a man who worked for him. As senior Liberals told this newspaper, Pyne’s legacy was survival — not quite enough for a chapter in the history books of the Liberal Party.

That Pyne has left his defence portfolio to take a job with business advisers EY as a defence consultant hasn’t surprised many. It has raised questions about possible breaches of the ministerial code of standards, which state that for 18 months after they leave office former ministers “will not lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the government … on any matters on which they have had official dealings as minister”. It says ministers cannot “take personal advantage of information to which they have had access as a minister, where that information is not generally available to the public”.

Pyne denies there is a problem. And, to be sure, former politicians must be able to work post politics. But in return for a healthy annual payment from taxpayers after they leave, it is not too much to expect they meet ministerial standards. This may not concern the man who described himself “the fixer”. But neither is Pyne likely to be missed by the Liberal leadership team.

It is fair to say Bishop’s departure hasn’t left a dent in the Coali­tion government either. Her antics after leaving her portfolio as foreign minister tainted her time in politics. Cosying up to Julia Banks, a woman who deserted the party at the first whiff of political grapeshot, was always going to damage Bishop’s reputation. Warriors hang around for a fight. Bishop sided with a turncoat and other women giggling like girls who claimed, minus any evidence, that the Liberal Party treats women badly.

The truth is that some women treated the Liberal Party very poorly, Banks among them. But, mercifully, she has gone too.

In a tacky move, Bishop joined the Nine Network’s panel on election night and swung a giant red stiletto at a smiling photo of Abbott when he lost his seat after 25 years in parliament. All a bit of fun? No, it was nasty stuff.

Right then, many of us who once admired a professional Bishop lost all remaining respect for her. She seems to be chasing celebrity; think Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous, minus fabulous and funny.

Her tasteless election night judgment adds context to an unhappy legacy that includes Bishop winning just 11 votes in a leadership contest, and failing to have her chosen candidate replace her in the seat of Curtin.

Now, Bishop wants to front a chat show for chicks. Good on her. Better she take her new gender politics far away from the serious work that needs to happen in ­Canberra.

Bishop’s new gig, giving advice to Palladium, a beneficiary of her policy as foreign minister to privatise foreign aid, raises new questions about her judgment. Some say it warrants questions at an inquiry into breaches of ministerial standards.

The irony of two sworn enemies, Bishop and Pyne, being brought before a possible inquiry into whether breaches of ministerial standards occurred, has not been lost on many in the party.

Bishop’s nasty comments, describing Cormann as the “most disloyal man in politics”, have blown back on her, too.

When the deputy Liberal leader switched seamlessly from Abbott to Turnbull in 2015 she said it was “a very difficult time for the Liberal Party, a very difficult decision for us, and of course for me personally”. Was Bishop being disloyal to a prime minister under pressure? Or was it just political ­reality?

The rehash of last year’s Liberal leadership turmoil is a useful reminder that Pyne, Bishop and Turnbull had little clue about their partyroom. Their judgment calls were repudiated then, and the election outcome renders them irrelevant now.

The Finance Minister was one of the few adults in Turnbull’s leadership team, making tough calls in awful circumstances, picking up the pieces after Turnbull imploded. Cormann’s decisions were entirely vindicated by the election result. The other unsung champion from that period is Peter Dutton, without whom the ghouls would not have gone, and Morrison would not be Prime Minister today.

On that note, what is there left for Liberals to say about Turnbull? His leadership was a failed experiment. That Turnbull relied on political neophyte Craig Laundy for counsel is a telling insight into the state of his support. The former prime minister self-imploded in the most spectacular fashion.

Vengeance against, indeed destruction of, the party that rebuffed him consumed Turnbull on the way out and will likely get another airing in his book. Again, the most important thing for Morrison is that Turnbull, Pyne and Bishop have gone. That Abbott is no longer in parliament is not a bad thing for Morrison either. A former prime minister sitting on government benches, perhaps still indignant about his 2015 ousting, is not conducive to a united team.

That said, Abbott’s speech on election night will go down in Liberal history as the mark of a tough, decent man who fought valiantly to the end in the face of the most despicable campaign against him. But that is the past too.

The future looks bright for the Prime Minister if he harnesses it. The boon beyond Canberra is that quiet Australians have found their voice. They are willing the Prime Minister to be the Liberal Prime Minister the country has lacked since John Howard departed the political stage in 2007.


Union-busting bill reintroduced to friendlier Senate

The Morrison government has reintroduced its union-busting bill which could be passed before the end of the year, giving it the power to deregister unions that break the law and ban officials such as construction union boss John Setka for misconduct.

Mr Setka's refusal to step down as leader of the Victoria CFMMEU, despite pressure from the ACTU and most affiliated unions after he pleaded guilty to harassing his wife through abusive text messages, have boosted the government's chances of getting the bill passed.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter cited the "appalling behaviour" by rogue sections of the union movement and officials since Parliament voted against the original 2017 bill as grounds for its reintroduction. He said the CFMMEU had repeatedly flouted workplace laws and clocked up more than $16 million in fines, while risking the delivery of goods and services infrastructure projects.

“The Morrison government makes no apologies for upholding the rule of law and cracking down on lawbreakers – particularly those who refuse to address longstanding and repeated law-breaking behaviour," he said.

“We have heard the new Labor leader Anthony Albanese and others within his party roundly condemn John Setka of the CFMMEU. Now it is time for Mr Albanese and Labor to prove they’re not all talk and back their words with action."

Labor and the Greens will oppose the legislation, which has been referred to a Senate committee due to report in October, meaning it would likely go to a vote in November.

The Parliament rejected the controversial Ensuring Integrity Bill in 2017, but the government is now confident it has a better chance of getting it across the line with the support of four out of six senate crossbenchers.

It is expected that Australian Conservatives' Cory Bernardi will support the bill. The two Centre Alliance senators are broadly supportive of tightening the regulation of union officials, but may seek amendments to ensure corporate leaders are also held to account. Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie's position is uncertain. The two One Nation senators are potential supporters.

The bill will introduce a new public interest test the Fair Work Commission could use to prevent future union mergers like the one between the maritime, construction, mining and footwear unions to form the CFMMEU.

The bill will also make it possible for the government or Registered Organisations Commission to cancel a union's registration on the basis of improper conduct, including repeated breaches of industrial laws and serious criminal offences.

It allows for the automatic disqualification of union officials charged with serious criminal offences that are punishable by five or more years in prison. This reflects a similar provision in the Corporations Act. Union officials will also face disqualification if they fail to take reasonable steps to stop their organisation from breaking the law.

The Corporations Act empowers the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), not a minister, to disqualify company directors. Under the Ensuring Integrity Bill, the Registered Oganisations Commissioner, the minister and any person with a "sufficient interest" would have the power to apply to the Federal Court for the disqualification of a union official.


Australian teacher education degrees should face scrutiny

People who have undergone teacher education degrees have been telling me for years that they are useless

Australian teachers are underprepared for the classroom compared to those in other countries, according to a recent global survey. The result indicates initial teacher education in Australia often isn’t up to scratch.

The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) asked teachers around the world how prepared they were after completing their teacher education degrees. And on almost every measure — including being prepared to teach specific subjects, teach mixed-ability classes, and manage the classroom — Australian teachers reported being less prepared than the OECD teacher average.

While we should not rely too much on international surveys (because teachers in different countries may answer questions differently due to varying expectations and backgrounds), the TALIS findings are consistent with existing research on Australian teacher education degrees. The evidence indicates new teachers aren’t adequately prepared to teach reading or manage student behaviour — aspects of teaching that could hardly be classified as optional extras.

This should certainly raise questions about the quality of content that taxpayer-funded universities are delivering to teacher education students. And it follows on from concerning news that almost 1 in 10 teacher education students fail a basic literacy and numeracy test, which has prompted calls to raise the standard of new teacher intakes.

The TALIS survey also asked teachers about what school spending priorities should be. Australian teachers were more likely than the OECD teacher average to prioritise reducing administrative burden by recruiting more support staff — suggesting red tape for teachers may have grown unreasonably, meaning less time can be spent on lesson preparation.

Interestingly, Australian teachers were less likely to think reducing class sizes or increasing teacher salaries should be prioritised than the OECD teacher average.

This goes to show there are many policies to improve the school system we should consider before we move to throwing even more taxpayer money at the problems. We should start by trying to improve teacher training.


Religious freedom is remarkably unprotected in Australia

Regardless of what the courts eventually say about the sacking of Israel Folau, the real blame for the sportsman’s religious persecution does not rest with Rugby Australia, Alan Joyce and Qantas. It rests with generations of politicians who have allowed the manifestation of religious belief to be viewed as something shameful.

That is the effect of the network of anti-discrimination laws that has been put in place and supported by successive federal governments. It treats religious freedom as a form of discrimination that is only grudgingly recognised as an exception to the law.

It is therefore easy to understand how sports administrators and businessmen may have got the wrong idea: that the manifestation of religious belief is something vaguely grubby that is acceptable only if it is done behind closed doors, so nobody can take offence.

This is at odds with the structure of international human rights law where all rights are of equal importance and where public displays of religious belief are protected by treaties to which Australia is a party. Yet instead of giving positive protection to religious freedom, the inaction of parliament could be viewed as confirmation that in Australia religion is not that important.

By refusing that task, parliament has vacated the field and left it to others to draw their own conclusions about where the boundary should be drawn between religion and other conflicting rights.

In the Folau case, Rugby Australia was the first to step into the void, and it now looks as if the courts will determine whether this man’s rough and ready version of what is written in the Bible is so offen­sive that he should lose his job.

Rugby Australia terminated Folau’s $4 million contract after he said on social media that hell awaited “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” if they failed to repent.

Everyone has an interest in the outcome of this case. It raises the question of whether Australians can be required to sign away fundamental human rights in return for money — even a very large amount of money. The manifestation of religious belief is protected by international law.

This case may also give the courts an opportunity to rule on how far employers can go in determining what employees do and say outside the workplace.

It is already clear, however, that corporate Australia may need to reconsider the wisdom of taking a stance on social issues. If Folau wins against Rugby Australia, sponsors such as Alan Joyce’s Qantas may be required to chip in for the damages bill — if they are found to have encouraged any wrongdoing.

The effect on the airline’s reputation would not be insignificant.

If Folau does win — and the Morrison government pushes ahead with its promised religious discrimination act — some may consider this affair to have come to an end. Such a view would be misplaced. The fundamental error in the design of Australia’s human rights laws still needs to be fixed to drive home the reality that religious freedom is a fundamental right, not an exception to the law.

With luck, the fallout from this case eventually could put an end to this idiosyncratic treatment of religion.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognises freedom of thought, conscience and religion in article 18(1). It says everyone has the right to manifest their religion, belief, observance, practice and teaching. Article 18(2) says nobody shall be subject to coercion that would impair their freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of their choice.

The government’s planned legislation will help by giving statutory effect to article 26 of that treaty that says discrimination based on religion should be outlawed. But the significance of a federal religious discrimination act needs to be kept in perspective: religious discrimination is already unlawful in most states.

The real test is whether the government’s proposed scheme would have protected Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous against what happened to him four years ago.

Folau, unlike Porteous, has the benefit of provisions of the Fair Work Act that target religious discrimination in the workplace. What happened to the archbishop was not a workplace dispute.

In 2015, Porteous explained the Catholic doctrine of marriage in a widely distributed booklet. That prompted Martine Delaney, a transgender activist and Greens candidate, to complain that she felt offended.

Because he was an archbishop, Porteous thought he had a right under Australian law to explain his church’s teachings. Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commission disagreed and found he had a case to answer.

The real problem with the Porteous case was that it was unresolved. It came to an end only after Delaney, in the face of widespread media attention, withdrew her complaint. That means there is still a risk that the public dissemination of Catholic doctrine in Tasmania could trigger a repeat of that affair.

And it looks as if a federal religious discrimination act would make no difference. “It would not solve all or even most of the problems with religious freedom in Australia at all,” University of Queensland dean of law Patrick Parkinson says.

“It is a minor reform that will fill a lacuna in federal law. The religious discrim­ination bill, as the government envisages it, will have no impact whatsoever on vilification law in the states — it is irrelevant to the Porteous case.

“All it will do is make it unlawful under federal law to discriminate against somebody because of their faith. The problem in Tasmania was that a state law was used against Archbishop Porteous on the basis of causing offence to somebody. That is a totally different matter that raises very significant issues about freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” says Parkinson, who is part of the Freedom for Faith lobby group.

Before Rugby Australia moved against Folau, Parkinson’s group had urged the Ruddock review of religious freedom to support a federal religious freedom act that would be far more robust than Morrison’s proposed scheme.

The Ruddock report did not go that far, preferring the more modest route that has been accepted by the government.

Parkinson, however, argues that a religious discrimination act would still allow Tasmania to take action against religious leaders over the public dissemination of doctrine that left people feeling offended. He sees this as a major weakness with the government’s plan. But he is also opposed to the radical option of a federal charter of rights that would empower the judiciary.

His preferred option is “a very targeted piece of legislation, focused around freedom of speech and freedom of religion”.

Its goal would be to prevent state laws from being applied in a way that would put Australia in breach of the nation’s international obligation to protect religious freedom.

This is how Parkinson’s group explained the concept in its submission to the Ruddock review: “It would be up to a court, interpreting and applying the state law, to determine whether its application so interfered with fundamental freedoms in any given situation that to the extent of the inconsistency with federal law it should be regarded as invalid, or alternatively, read down to avoid inconsistency.”

Parkinson makes the point that the federal government intervened 20 years ago to override Tasmania’s law criminalising homosexuality. “It is no more appropriate that Tasmanian law interferes with freedom of religion than when it criminalised homosexuality,” he says.


 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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