Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Scott Morrison was asked about the Israel Folau case on ABC’s 7.30

When Leigh Sales put a hypothetical question to the PM, Scott Morrison refused to budge and be drawn into “extreme” examples.

Scott Morrison has weighed in on Israel Folau’s fight against Rugby Australia after being asked about the controversy during an interview on ABC’s 7.30 program last night.

After speaking about the religious freedom bill being put forward by the Liberal Party this year, Leigh Sales asked the prime minister for his view on Folau’s recent sacking following the comments he made about homosexuals on social media.

Despite the PM skirting around the question, Sales pushed the issue, asking if being a public figure made any difference to the type of views you can express.

“If a public figure said, for example, that Jews are going to hell, they would be rightly and roundly condemned for that,” Sales said.

“But if a public figure says gays are going to hell, it can be defended as religious freedom. Do you see any problem with that situation?”

But Mr Morrison said he would not let the debate around anti-discrimination legislation “derailed” by “extremes of examples” like Sales had put forward.

“Well, again, I mean, the issue is making sure you get the balance right in the legislation, which respects the same principle of anti-discrimination as applies to many other cases,” He replied.

“We already have anti-discrimination legislation which deals with these sensitivities in other areas, and that will apply also to religious faith.

“And what I would hope is that we can have a sensible and adult debate about this one - not one that is drawn to extremes of examples or things like that to try and derail debates, but one that actually keeps people together and honours the key principle.

“I mean, religious freedom is a core pillar of our society. And it’s not unreasonable. And I think there are many millions of Australians who would like to see that protected, and I intend to follow through on that commitment.”

Sales also asked the PM about the Folau case, where the Wallabies star is fighting his sacking by Rugby Australia over an Instagram post.

“Under the changes you introduce, would you like to see somebody like Israel Folau be able to make the remark he made and be safe from being sacked,” Sales asked.

Mr Morrison was very brief with his response, saying a balance needs to be struck between an employer’s expectation of their employees and how much say they should have over what they do in their personal lives.

“I think it’s important, ultimately, that employers have reasonable expectations of their employees, and that they don’t impinge on their areas of private practice and private belief or private activity,” Mr Morrison said.

“And there’s a balance that has to be struck in that, and our courts will always ultimately decide this based on the legislation that’s presented.”

He added that as the Folau case would likely be making its way through the court very soon he couldn’t really make any further comments.

Mr Morrison said there is currently a gap in the law when it comes to expressions of religious faith, and the new bill aims to close that gap.

“We’re looking at a religious Discrimination Act which I think which will provide more protections for people because of their religious faith and belief in the same way that people of whatever gender they have or sexuality or what nationality or ethnic background or the colour of their skin — they shouldn’t be discriminated against also,” he said.


Why are school standards still falling?

Despite all the policy differences in the election, there was little to distinguish between the two major parties on the subject of increasing school funding. They only differ in the extent: the Coalition promised a large spending increase, and Labor promised an even larger one.

But neither of those promises were based on evidence.

Australia’s results on international tests have been declining over the past 10 years ¾ both in absolute terms and in comparison to other countries ¾ despite continually increased school funding.

According to the Productivity Commission, per-student funding increased in real terms (above inflation) between 2007-08 and 2016-17 by over 14 per cent.

While non-government schools received a larger percentage increase (though coming off a much lower base), government schools still received an 11 per cent per student increase.

It’s been argued this was actually only a very small increase for government schools, because if teacher wages growth is taken into account then schools on average don’t actually have much more discretionary spending.

But this notion — that extra school funding spent on higher teacher salaries doesn’t actually count as extra school funding — fails the common sense test.

The reality is funding has increased for government schools. Some state governments have chosen to spend the extra money on higher teacher salaries. We can argue about the merits of this, but the fact remains that much more is being spent on government schooling than 10 years ago.

And this highlights an important fact that often gets missed in the funding debate: the states have the responsibility of running the government school systems.

State spending on government schools increased by only 3 per cent across 10 years, while federal spending on government schools went up by a whopping 93 per cent (albeit compared to a far lower funding starting point). If people are concerned that government schools are underfunded, they should be blaming state governments, not the federal government.

In any case, the OECD has concluded there are diminishing marginal returns to school funding. In other words, beyond a certain point there is no clear relationship between school spending and student outcomes.

Australia already spends more per student as a dollar amount than the OECD average — and several top-performing countries like Finland and Japan — after adjusting for purchasing power parity (taking into account cost differences between countries). There is very little evidence that further funding increases in Australia would substantially boost results.

But school funding in Australia can definitely be better allocated. And that doesn’t mean the simplistic attitude of ‘let’s take money from greedy non-government schools and give it to poor government schools’. Money for disadvantaged students should be allocated on the basis of evidence, not on the basis of school sector.

We’re often told government schools are below their ‘funding target’, but this doesn’t mean much ¾ because the current target is arbitrary and unreasonably high.

For example, the criteria for being a disadvantaged student is so broad that the majority of all Australian school students are classified as ‘disadvantaged’ and attract extra school funding. This isn’t evidence-based, but it is hugely expensive ¾ and means funding for disadvantage isn’t efficiently allocated to the schools that need it most.

The new government should commit to reviewing the funding formula.

And there are many ways to improve Australia’s school system that don’t require significantly more taxpayer money. For example, ensuring university teacher education degrees pass on evidence-based content would be a cost-effective approach to improving teaching.

The focus of the education policy debate must shift from how much money is spent to how it is spent.


'Young Australians don't want to get their hands dirty': The $80k-a-year tradie jobs that NO ONE will apply for - forcing employers to bring workers in from overseas

Australia has been swamped with job opportunities for tradies - but many of the positions have gone for months without any applicants.

Rod McInnes, who is a consultant for Maxima business development in Adelaide, said the manufacturing industry had been struggling because young people were more interested in sitting at a desk than doing 'dirty work'. 

Dairy Farmer Brian Dickson told the ABC he fears the worker shortage would lead to the end of the dairy farming industry in Australia. Turnover is high at farms in Western Victoria despite the $24/h wage because employees aren't willing to work long hours.  In 2018, it was reported a Queensland dairy farm was struggling to attract local interest in a job that paid $50,000 and came with free accommodation.

Jobs in fruit and vegetable picking were also are unpopular among Australian workers, as well as roles in meat processing.

Restaurants have also had to rely on foreign workers, who are said to be more stable. Research showed chef positions and restaurant managers were 'very difficult' to recruit.

Bakeries also reported difficulty hiring because workers are not keen on bakers' hours, which often means starting at 1am.

In 2013, Traffic management firm Australian Retro revealed 85 per cent of traffic controllers were Irish women.

Far North Queensland currently has more than 3,700 vacancies, including 800 automotive trade jobs, according to the ABC.

Larry Napoli, who runs a collision repair centre in South Australia, says most workers don't 'stick it out' because it's hard work.  He told Adelaide Now one local business had been trying to find a panel beater to fill a vacant position but even though the job can fetch an average $65,258 a year, no one wanted it.

Other positions that had failed to be filled were welders, carpenters and electricians - who earn about $80,000 a year on average. 

'A lot of the younger guys and girls aren't wanting to get their hands dirty because they're going into high tech careers or sitting at a desk,' he said.

The region has seen demand for boilermakers and welders increase due to a recent bump in structural steel work, however, the skills shortage has seen multiple companies go searching overseas to fill the positions.

Southern Cross Workforce director Mike Racher feared the problem would become worse as more young people looked to mining and defence in search of bigger pay packets.

'These days the youngsters are more interested in getting a job in the computer age. They don't want sparks going on around them or ducking their head in the bonnet of an engine,' he said.

The shortage has sparked calls for the state government to put a greater emphasis on getting young people onto the trades pathway.

Industry and Skills Minister David Pisoni said the government had been pushing to get more young people into  those roles.

'With recent reports of South Australian businesses struggling to fill jobs, we're very keen to promote the opportunities for young South Australians that an apprenticeship or traineeship can deliver.'

Last month, an ABC report revealed business owners and farmers have been left to rely on migrants to do unwanted jobs, as the number of job vacancies across regional Australia reaches 46,000.

West Victorian dairy farmer Brian Dickson said he feared the worker shortage would lead to the end of the dairy farming industry in Australia. Although the job pays $24 an hour, turnover is high because workers aren't willing to work the long hours.

Larry Napoli, who runs Carisbrook Collision Repair Centre in north of Adelaide, told the ABC he has struggled to find panel beaters for his business. 'A lot of them don't really stick it out because it's hard work and it's very complex,' he said. 

Meanwhile in Far North Queensland, there were more than 3,700 open automotive trade positions, and 1,000 vacancies, mostly in the medical field, in the Riverina in NSW.

The Federal government in turn has stepped into mitigate the issue by allowing farmers to seek out foreign workers.

Migrants are even offered permanent residency if they are willing to work in the region for three years.


Bob Brown seeks $500,000 to train anti-Adani activists

Former Greens leader Bob Brown has launched a last-ditch effort to halt the planned Adani coal mine, rallying supporters to raise half a million dollars to purchase land to establish a base to train activists and plan protests against the mine.

Dr Brown, whose ‘Stop Adani’ anti-coal convoy through central Queensland during the election campaign has been credited with increasing a swing towards the Coalition, yesterday launched a crowdfunding page with a group, Friends of the Galilee Basin, to establish a “last line of defence” anti-Adani campaign headquarters in regional Queensland.

The target is to raise $500,000 to set up “a base for the campaign” at Binbee to “ensure that people can keep protecting country and put their bodies on the frontline”.

“Having a safe camp to train activists and plan protests is critical to getting thousands to the frontline.” the crowdfunding page states.

“Despite outcry from the scientific community, the Australian government has given the Adani Coal mine the final tick of approval.

“The good news is there are people on the frontline who are prepared to protect water, community and living systems to leave a safe planet for future generations.

“So far activists have helped to delay, disrupt and reduce the size of the Adani mega mine for over 5 years. Now is the time to come together and stop it for good.

“Mass civil disobedience is our last position to stop Adani in one of the biggest environmental battles in Australian history.” it said.

The campaign had raised $2,490 as of 8am this morning.

Queensland’s Environment Department gave the green light to Adani’s groundwater management plan last month, the final major approval needed for stage two of construction to begin on the controversial $2 billion.

Surveying and clearing work on the mine’s main site began on June 19.

Dr Brown gained notoriety when he led opposition against Tasmania’s Franklin Dam in the 1970s.

Many Coalition figures have stated the activist’s ‘Stop Adani’ convoy, which was heckled in when travelling through Queensland, helped the government’s election result in May.

Dr Brown has previously rejected those claims as “hogwash”.


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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