Wednesday, July 31, 2019

There was no "welcome to country" at this weekend's WA Liberal conference, with the leader saying it's not meaningful to 'tick a box' to be politically correct

Just because Aborigines once lived in a place, why does it mean that we have to keep mentioning it?  It achieves nothing.  It is just Leftist virtue signalling that costs them nothing

It is also at much conflict with other claims of the Left, particularly when the speech concerned is some addled rave from an Aborigine, which it often is.  The Left like to claim that there was a great struggle of Aborigines against white settlement -- while in fact Aborigines mostly just faded away in the face of white encroachment.

So what we now see is a colonialist's fancy -- pretending that blacks "welcomed" whites to their land.  However you look at it, it is a gross distortion of the truth.  It in fact demeans Aborigines.  It makes them puppets for whites

West Australian opposition leader Liza Harvey has trotted out a "tired, lazy argument" in defending her party not starting its annual state conference with a welcome to country, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt says.

Asked if it was a good look for the WA Liberal gathering on Saturday to omit the Indigenous ceremony, Ms Harvey replied: "It is what it is".

"I think the worst thing you can do is for the sake of political correctness, engage in welcome to countries that aren't meaningful," Ms Harvey told reporters on Sunday.

"Where it's appropriate, there are welcome to countries, for example the City of Stirling at their citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day," Ms Harvey said.

"It's fantastic - I'm a big fan of that but I don't think we should do these things just because you've got to tick a box.

"It needs to be meaningful and respectful."

Mr Wyatt, whose relative Ken Wyatt is pushing for constitutional recognition, was unimpressed. "A welcome is about a modern, inclusive, respectful society," he tweeted.

"Even Colin Barnett understood that, which is why the parliament amended the WA constitution to recognise Aboriginal traditional ownership."


Central Australian date farmers determined to fight cheap imports as industry grows for sugar substitutes

This is the old, old story of Australian agriculture: We can grow huge quantities of almost everything -- but can we do it at a competitive price?  Mostly the answer is No

Spread out across the edge of the Simpson Desert is a date palm plantation, trees swaying in the breeze.

The Desert Fruit Farm near Alice Springs is the only commercial date operation in the Northern Territory, and one of only a handful in Australia.

The trees are a legacy of Afghan cameleers who arrived in the middle of the 1800s — the 'pilots of the desert' effectively helped set up Central Australia's vast interior, and to keep homesickness at bay brought a little bit of home with them, in the form of palm trees.

"Dates [were] first grown in the Hermannsburg Indigenous community, with the mission they had to be self-sufficient in their food," said Ben Wall, the manager of the Desert Fruit Farm.  "[They] grew dates by the Finke River, the oldest river in the world, and the first commercial farm was set up in the 1950s."

Mr Wall said it was a thoroughly modern trend that has made this date palm a desert gold mine; as more people seek out sugar-free alternatives to get their sweet fix, dates are in high demand.

The farm has about 10 varieties of date.

"Often a lot of people want them for processing dates like energy bars and doing things with hemp, so these are good because they are kind of dry," he said.

The cooperative has been running since 2014 on a farm established by the previous owner in the 1990s. Mr Wall manages the farm on behalf of investors, and is passionate about sustainable agriculture, particularly in Australia's arid zone.

Across 6 hectares, there are 700 mature female date trees, with about 20 male trees to pollinate them, he said.

But fickle in its fertility, date trees need to be hand-pollinated, with pollen from a male tree extracted and cut with powder to help transport it.

The farmers essentially have to do the job a bee would do with conventional plants.

"It generally takes about five years [to attain] first fruit, but then you don't want to farm until about eight to 10 years," Mr Wall said.     "Dates are like humans, they live to be the same age — 80 to 100 years — and are most productive when teenage to 30 years old.

["They're] fertile, yes, and then a gradual decline, very elegant decline just like us."

Harvesting is also onerous, as the dates have to be picked by hand one at a time.

This year the farm was up 300 per cent on the previous year's yield, with 2 tonnes sent to the Middle East and the rest sold domestically.

"There's a huge market for them, and we get calls all the time from the Middle East because we are in the southern hemisphere," Mr Wall said.

    "There are 2 billion Muslim people [for whom] dates are an important part of the culture, [so] we can sell anything we can grow, really."

Dates are grown in 40 different countries across 800,000 hectares, and Central Australia's arid zone is the perfect landscape and climate for growing them.

But despite that, the industry remains extremely small, with only a handful of operators across the country.

The Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) is working to change that, and holds the largest collection of date varieties in the southern hemisphere.

Its research will help inform farmers about the best varieties to grow to suit the climate and conditions, and will also offer pollination advice.

Stuart Smith from AZRI sees the Australian industry expanding in future years, particularly in the desert.     "Because of our isolation and dry atmosphere, we can produce a lot of crops without disease," he said.

"If you have adequate water well-allocated, and sustainably-allocated groundwater systems, which we have here in Central Australia, I think the arid zone is a good place for agriculture."

Further south, farmers are also having success.

Dave Reilly has 3,000 date palms on his family property Gurra Downs in the Riverland District in South Australia, where they have been growing dates for 20 years.

He's a big supporter of helping other growers get a foothold in the market, but there is competition he doesn't welcome from cheap imports.

Biosecurity Australia is currently considering allowing fresh dates to be imported from Africa and the Middle East, which has him and other growers worried.

"That will totally change dynamics," Mr Reilly said. "For example, we pay our staff $25 an hour, and we'll be competing with countries that pay a $USD1 an hour, so it's going to be very difficult to compete.

"Unfortunately that's what happens with free trade agreements; it doesn't benefit everyone, and our industry being relatively labour-intensive may well get beaten up by cheap imports."

Mr Reilly is hopeful that discerning consumers will continue to seek out locally-grown dates.

"Australian relies almost entirely on imported dates so the demand is there, there's curiosity surrounding the Australian-grown fruit, so we are benefiting a bit over the last 10 years, selling that into the area," Mr Reilly said.

"Dates are now being recognised for their health benefits … so we are getting a lot of interest from health food people.

    "Dates are sweet but also have a lot of nutrition so from a health food perspective dates are a wonderful substitute to sugar."

This ancient fruit could also be grown on Indigenous-run plantations, Mr Wall said. "There is a lot of potential to grow the industry, there are a few growers around Australia now just finding their feet, [so there is] potential for dates to be growing around each Indigenous community," he said.

"You can use low-quality water, salty water to grow food, and they create a shaded ecosystem to grow other food underneath it, so we are really hopeful the industry can grow from this little farm here."


Household income plunging and poverty rising: How Australians were BETTER off during the global financial crisis - and experts say immigration is to blame

Australian households are earning less than they did during the global financial crisis a decade ago.

A survey of 17,500 people confirmed stagnant wages are even worse than first thought, with pay packets falling as immigration has surged.

Median household incomes, after tax, are now $542 less than they were during the GFC.

They have fallen from $80,637 in 2009 to $80,095 eight years later, new data from the Melbourne Institute's annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA) study for 2019 showed.

Income growth has been patchy during the past decade, falling in the two years after the GFC, rising in 2012 and mainly stagnating after that.

During that time, Australia's population has surged from 21.2million in 2009 to 24million in 2017, before rising above the 25million milestone in August 2018.

The Grattan Institute think tank's chief executive John Daley has told economists with the Reserve Bank of Australia that low-skilled migrants were driving down wages.

'Many believe that Australian migration is highly skilled and has nothing to do with the underpayment of minimum wages,' he said in his April presentation, which was made public on Monday.

'That might have been true in the past, but it's less true now.'

Professor Daley said 59 per cent of temporary visa holders were in low-skilled jobs.

For student and working holiday visa holders, that number in low-skilled jobs rises to 75 per cent.

With one in five Australian workers on the minimum wage, Professor Daley said 'low-skilled' employment at or below the minimum wage was 'big enough to matter'.

Australia is home to one million temporary migrants, with 450,000 of them being on student visas with another 150,000 on working holiday visas. Then there are 250,000 temporary migrants in the 'other' visa category.

If all migrants worked, they would comprise four per cent of Australia's 13million workers.

When household incomes were adjusted for needs, the HILDA research found salary levels over five years had gone backwards in Adelaide, Perth and regional New South Wales but had risen in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Poverty levels, defined as income that is half of the median, have also risen in recent years.

Financial hardship levels fell from 12.4 per cent to 9.6 per cent between 2007 and 2016 but rose again in 2017, to reach 10.4 per cent.


One in five solar units ‘defective’

More than one in five rooftop solar installations on Australian homes were found to be substandard in 2018 amid a boom in the renewable energy source driven by cheaper costs and government rebates.

More than 20 per cent or 748 of the 3678 solar units inspected last year were found to be substandard, meaning defects were found such as incorrect wiring that could lead to “premature” equipment failure, Clean Energy Regulator data shows.

The government’s renewables regulator has been conducting random inspections of rooftop solar units across the nation since 2011, with the average number of substandard systems recorded at 17.7 per cent as of July 2018. Last year’s figure of 20.3 per cent marked a jump and was also a slight increase on the 19.8 per cent of systems labelled substandard in 2017.

The number of unsafe systems, defined as a possible safety hazard, also grew slightly with 80 out of 3678 solar units receiving the rating, equating to a rate of 2.2 per cent compared with 1.9 per cent in 2017. Common issues included water found in electrical components and products subject to recalls.

The growth of solar continues to accelerate in Australia with 2.15 million households now owning rooftop systems spurred by the falling cost of kit and subsidies at federal and state level.

The technology’s rampant growth is helping to reset the generation mix of the nation’s power grid while the growth of rooftop solar contributed to prices hitting zero across the entire national electricity market last Sunday, underlining new-found volatility for electricity generators in the market.

Growth in solar will continue over the next decade even as subsidies are retired, the regulator said.

“We continue to see growth in rooftop photovoltaic for households and businesses, even as the level of the support from subsidies under the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme gradually decreases between now and when the scheme ends in 2030,” Clean Energy Regulator chairman David Parker said.

The number of accredited installers working in Australia and New Zealand surged by more than 1000 to 5922 by the end of 2018 with the Clean Energy Council taking action against 590 installers or roughly 10 per cent of the entire workforce, the report found.

New guidelines to improve safety and quality effective July 1 will cut the number of jobs an installer can sign off on to two from three while ongoing work with product manufacturers and safety regulators is being conducted to improve safety concerns.

In Victoria, the Andrews government’s solar subsidy was plunged into disarray this week with the staggered nature of the $2225 subsidy leading to a boom and bust cycle and forcing some businesses to the brink.

The $1.3 billion Solar Homes program — launched last year in the lead-up to the election — was designed to help 770,000 households invest in solar while creating 5500 new jobs and slashing carbon emissions.

However, the Smart Energy Council, which organised a mass protest on Thursday over the rollout of the scheme, yesterday urged those affected to meet with their local MPs to try and reset the system.


 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

1 comment:

Paul said...

"The Grattan Institute think tank's chief executive John Daley has told economists with the Reserve Bank of Australia that low-skilled migrants were driving down wages."

A feature, not a bug.