Wednesday, August 07, 2019

'The loss of dignity - and friends': Elderly woman reveals her tragic story of life on the dole - amid claims Australia's welfare system is an 'embarrassment for our nation'

Judging by her shape, Ms Bartels eats well so what else is at issue?  It appears that being on the dole has "cost her dignity and friends".  It has not been good for her social life, in short.

But is the dole supposed to be good for that? Should the taxpayer be financing a good social life for everyone?  It would perhaps be desirable but I think there are too many other calls on taxpayer funds to make that a reasonable possibility

Note that she is only a few years away from going on the pension, which is similar to the dole, so she is just undergoing a bit early what would be an inevitable transition

The lady seems to think that the government should provide some avenue for getting her a job but that is absurd.  The number of employers who would take on an overweight elderly woman is vanishingly small.  We may deplore that but it is reality.  It is hard to see what any government could do about it

An elderly woman has told the Q&A panel about how living on Newstart has been the 'worst time of her life' - costing her dignity and friends.

Ricci Bartels became emotional on Monday night's program as she revealed she was forced on to unemployment benefits three years ago after being made redundant.

'I have paid taxes for 46 years… I've worked 20 years in the private sector and 26 years in the public sector for a not-for-profit community service,' Mrs Bartels said.

'I was forced on to Newstart at the age of 62 through change of management and subsequent retrenchment. I've experienced Newstart for three years, JobActive left me to my own devices. I could not find a job no matter how hard I tried.'

Mrs Bartels said the experience of being on welfare after so many years of dedicated work had been the 'worst of her life'.

The Newstart allowance of $555.70 a fortnight hasn't risen in real terms, adjusted for inflation, since 1994.

It is also more than two-and-a-half times less than the minimum, full-time wage.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ruled out calls for an increase, despite calls from former PM John Howard and ex-Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

'To put it in a nutshell it (being on Newstart) is the worst time of my life, the loss of dignity, the loss of friends because you can't go out, you can't socialise, not eating proper foods even though I suffer various ailments, looking for a job applying for a job, not getting the job,' Mrs Bartels said fighting back tears.

Referencing a quote from Mr Morrison, she said: 'So my question to you wonderful panellists is this, what would you or how would you suggest people like me have a go to get a go?'

Mrs Bartels posed the question to the panel before host Tony Jones gave the Liberal member for Mackellar Jason Falinski an opportunity to speak.

'We have done a number of things in the government to try and make sure that our system, which is a $172billion welfare system per-annum, is as bespoke as possible in response to the needs of individuals as much as possible,' the backbencher from Sydney's northern beaches said.

'It may be in your particular case we haven't been as accessible as we need to be but we keep trying.'

Mr Falinski then touted Australia's existing welfare system Australia, evoking audible moans of disagreement from the studio audience.

'Australia has a very successful welfare and tax and transfer system … it's one of the reasons that we have very high income mobility levels and very low levels of income inequality especially compared to other nations,' he said.

Mrs Bartels addressed the question to the panel before host Tony Jones gave Liberal MP for Mackellar Jason Falinski (pictured) a chance to answer but he left Mrs Bartels disappointed

Mrs Bartels continued her line of questioning to Mr Falinski and quickly called him out for dodging the crux of her question.

'Jason, with respect, you haven't answered my question, what do you suggest people like me, at my age or at a young age for that matter, how do they have a go to get a go, this is so important, have a go to get a go, it is so divisive,' Mrs Bartels said. 

Mr Falinski doubled down on his comments that without knowing all of Mrs Bartels's circumstances he couldn't tell her what path she needed to take.

'If the system has failed you personally, in your particular circumstances, I can only apologise for that, I'd love to know more and create a system to make sure what happens to you doesn't happen to others,' he said. 


Almost 60 arrested as climate activists shut down Brisbane CBD

Cops have hauled away almost 60 climate activists as hundreds continue to shut down Brisbane’s CBD as part of a “rebellion day”.

Almost 60 climate change protesters have been arrested as activists shut down Brisbane’s CBD today.

A spokeswoman for Queensland Police told that a number of protesters have been arrested at the scene for blocking traffic — and pictures show activists being dragged away.

Although she couldn’t confirm a number, local reports state that up to 56 people have been detained by police so far.

Carrying gazebos, chairs, blankets and a barbecue dozens activists from the Extinction Rebellion group have gathered in the city’s CBD, according to reports on social media.

The group expects hundreds of protesters will join them outside 1 William Street, the state government’s HQ, and carry out “mass civil disobedience”. The disruption is understood to continue for seven hours.

Queensland Police is advising those travelling to the CBD today to use public transport — saying the group is expected to cause “significant disruption to traffic in the Central Business District and South Brisbane” between 7am to 9pm.

Translink advises there are currently 25 to 30-minute bus delays in the Brisbane CBD as a result of the protest.

The Courier Mail reports that the activists are encouraging families to involve their children in the protests by giving them  chalk to graffiti Brisbane’s roads and footpaths with climate change messages.

“I’ve bought a whole pile of chalk and definitely the main encouragement from the main group was they would love to have the kids chalking, and then it’s still on the street the next day,’’ an organiser said in a hook-up yesterday.

Extinction Rebellion is a socio-political movement with the stated aim of using civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to protest against climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse.

Begun by a group of British academics in 2018 in response to the IPCC report that found we have just 12 years to stop catastrophic climate change, the movement has held hundreds of street blockades and occupations, mainly in the UK, but also other cities around the world. The group has held several street blockades in Brisbane this year.

“Business as usual is killing us,” the group wrote in a statement. “There is no more time to waste. Government has failed to protect us, so ordinary people have to act now.”

Nurse Daniel Young, who is one of 48 people already arrested in the lead up to Rebellion Day, condemns the way the government is treating climate policy.

“If the climate was one of my patients — and I was ignoring all the warning signs and just waiting for them to deteriorate — I would be charged with criminal negligence,” he said.

Superintendent Chris Stream said police acknowledge the right to lawful and peaceful protest. “Police and partner agencies are working closely to manage the protest and minimise as much as possible disruptions to transportation networks,” Superintendent Stream said.

“We continue to urge protest leaders to engage with police so that we can map out a solution for lawful and peaceful protest activity.”

However, the official Extinction Rebellion SEQ Facebook account appeared critical of police. A spokesman posted: “Queensland police uphold a colonial system of exploitation. “They hold children in watchhouses for weeks, they protect officers who give the addresses of DV victims to their abusers.

“They target indigenous people and people of colour for stop and search checks because of the racial profiling culture in the force. “Stay peaceful, stay non violent. Ignore them as much as you can.  “It f***s with their power trip.”


Schools going backward with no plan for change

If more evidence were needed to demonstrate why our school education system is substandard, despite additional billions and so many government-mandated initiatives, look no further than the depressing sub­missions to the review of the 2008 Melbourne Declaration.

For 11 years it has been used as the key strategic road map to guide policy development at the state and commonwealth levels.

The declaration also has been employed by educational bureaucrats, education ministers and professional associations to inform the work of schools.

Given our retreating standards of literacy and numeracy, you’d expect the submissions would call for radical change.

Not so. The Australian Education Union argues that the document is still relevant; there’s no need for a review.

Predictably the union argues that to improve “equity and excellence”, additional billions must be invested, especially for “disadvantaged” schools, and that the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy tests must be abolished.

Ironically, NAPLAN is the only transparent and objective measure that can be used to evaluate and track school and system effectiveness.

The Melbourne Graduate School of Education is also hostile to NAPLAN. It argues that governments should “move away from a narrow focus of point-in-time high-stakes assessment” by adopting “best practice diagnostic and assessment tools and learning progressions”, otherwise known as formative assessment.

The stronger performing systems in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Finland stress summative assessment, in which students are marked against year level standards, there are consequences for success and failure, and students are ranked one against the other at key stages.

One of the many destructive ideas associated with outcomes-based education, an unproven curriculum model forced on Australian schools in the 1990s, is championing generic competencies and skills rather than established subjects and disciplines.

Instead of learning from our failures, submissions to the review of the Melbourne Declaration also stress competencies and skills associated with 21st century, lifelong learning. A time, supposedly, when the workplace will be “unpredictable, dynamic, ambiguous and complex”. Given the ever-increasing rate of “changes, particularly global and technological”, the Melbourne Graduate School of Education argues that learning should focus on students becoming “lifelong learners, critical, creative and enterprising individuals”.

Learning and assessment should focus on “social and emotional wellbeing with general capabilities and multiple forms of excellence celebrated”.

Apparently, to “prepare students for the future” the Australian Association for the Teaching of English believes it is no longer necessary to give students an appreciation of the Western literary canon.

Given the cultural-left’s long march through the education system, it comes as no surprise that several submissions recycle the usual cliches and pretentious phrases associated with politically correctness and groupthink.

The Melbourne Graduate School, after citing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, suggests education should “recognise our common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet and the need to continue working with others towards a better and more peaceful world as we create an innovative future”.

Cultural relativism is also promoted. Any future road map should recognise “Australia’s diverse cultural heritage” and ensure students demonstrate “ethical and respectful behaviour towards other cultures”.

But not all cultures are equal as there are some practices that are immoral, uncivilised and indefensible. The Australian Curriculum Studies Association also champions the belief that Australia is “diverse” and “multi-faith”.

Submissions to the review emphasise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture on the basis that indigenous history and culture are “a foundation of Australia’s culture, heritage and future”.

But Australia primarily is a Western, liberal democracy where our institutions and way of life are underpinned by Judeo-Christianity and epochal events such as the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and modernity.

Of greater concern is that while most submissions focus on equity and disadvantage, there is no acknowledgment that students’ performance is so dismal — especially among gifted students.

Even worse, the deluded argument is put that the Melbourne Declaration has been so successful that any new road map should be extended to include universities. As suggested by the Australian Catholic University’s sub­mission, this would extend the dead hand of self-serving educrats and further undermine Australia’s tertiary system.


CSR no license for private government

The trend for business to get involved in controversial political debates in the name of ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) is gathering pace.

Last week, BHP Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie announced that the ‘Big Australian’ would be ramping up its climate change policy. Not only will executive pay be linked to reducing the company’s greenhouse emissions, but BHP will also begin monitoring and seeking to reduce the carbon emissions of its customers.

My work on the CSR phenomenon has stressed that there may be legitimate commercial reasons for companies to proactively address environmental issues to protect the financial interests of shareholders.

Despite — or perhaps because of — BHP’s extensive coal business, commercial considerations could well be driving the company’s emission strategy, given the scope of the global transition to renewable energy.

But of concern is that the new approach appears to have been adopted in response to pressure from climate activists “who have been pushing mining majors to monitor and try to reduce so-called ‘scope 3’ emissions — those from downstream manufacturers, such as steel mills, that use the iron ore and other commodities that BHP mines.”

This seems to be a clear case of corporate power and influence being co-opted by activists to drive their political agenda, skirt the democratic process, and exert control over the otherwise legal activities of companies.

This type of CSR initiative might, therefore, be fairly characterised as inappropriate political meddling in pursuit of ‘systemic change’, given that climate change policy has been one of the most contested and partisan political issues of recent times.

In a democracy, it is the parliament that is sovereign and makes the laws which all are obliged to abide by.  As Milton Friedman argued in his classic essay on CSR, when the social role of companies extends – as in this case – outside of the rule of law, business is effectively usurping the functions and acting as “simultaneously legislator, executive and jurist.”

The standard rationale for CSR is that its demonstrating social responsibility that enhances the good standing of brands in the community.

But it is hard to see how company reputations are enhanced by opening them up to allegations of acting undemocratically and operating above the law.

CSR should not become a license for companies to initiate a form of private government that undermines our democratic traditions and rides roughshod over the rule of law.


Here is the speech Mr BHP should have delivered


I am the chief executive of BHP. For a brief moment last week, I thought about giving a speech in London to an august crowd, some lords and ambassadors and other masters of the universe. It’s not as neat as rubbing shoulders with celebritie­s at Davos, but that mountain soiree is six months away. I thought about announcing that BHP will appoint itself as the moral guardian of greenhouse emissions, dictating to our custom­ers how they use our product­s to reduce emissions.

I imagined feeling a frisson of excitement when sections of the media and the climate-in-crisis activists laud my landmark addres­s when I also announce that BHP will commit hundreds of millions­ of dollars, shareholders’ money, to monitor what our custome­rs do with the coal they buy from us. I will ignore cynics who may think I’m after a personal­ halo.

Then I shook off such nonsense. As the CEO of BHP, my first duty is to our shareholders, meaning all of them. How feeble I would have looked succumbing to a small rowdy bunch of activist investo­rs who think they can tell us what to do over and above our millions of quiet shareholders.

I decided that joining the herd is too easy, too predictable, and maybe people are right to think it a bit sneaky to spend other people’s money to buy personal cachet. I decided to leave that to someone who craves adulation, rather than respect.

What follows is my actual speech. I should have given it long ago, in Australia, because BHP is still “the Big Australian”. Our histor­y and headquarters are in this country, and so the hard work must start here.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to be here today to talk about BHP’s respons­e to critical issues affecting our company, this country, and the global economy. It is time for me, as chief executive of BHP, to take the lead. I cannot remain silen­t any more. Too much is at stake. To the climate change activists who want me to speak about a climate crisis, and spend shareholders’ money on it, I say there is another crisis I must deal with first. And it won’t cost shareholders a dime.

The challenge is clear and present: there is a crisis of confidence about capitalism. It is on the nose, and so are big companies. The loss of legitimacy in big companies means that fundamentals of business and capitalism are more highly contestable than they have been for decades. What were once accepted as truths — that business­es create jobs and that small and big businesses work together to drive economic growth — are controversial because of sustained attacks by ideological opponents. Not to mention an education system that is failing to properly educate our students.

Those who bash big business and free markets won’t be defeat­ed by corporate bosses whining privately about populist politic­ians, dimwitted voters and left-wing activists.

As BHP’s boss, I must stand up to defend the story of capitalism. Our future as a company depends on the next generation understanding that free enterprise is critical to their future.

I hope other corporate leaders will join in this existential battle. Free enterprise, the success of companies, big and small, are integ­ral to human flourishing. Capitalism is not perfect but, as Winston Churchill said about democracy, it is a damned sight better than the alternatives.

The history of capitalism is one of lifting billions of people from poverty, providing standards of living that earlier generations could never have dreamt of.

People are living longer becaus­e of medical advances. Peopl­e are better educated, wealthier, more mobile, moving up income levels and across cities and countries. There is an extraordinary array of technology at our fingertips.

All of this comes from a set of values that drive free enterprise. If we lose confidence in those values, in open and free markets, we lose the key to our present and future prosperity.

I commit to reminding people of the morality of free markets. As CEO, it is my role to explain why profit matters to BHP, to our shareholders, those ordinary Australi­ans who save and invest in their future, either directly or through funds that invest in us.

I will use my privileged position to explain and promote the moral dimensions of policies that grow our company and create more jobs. Few corporate leaders, if any, ever speak of the essential human dignity that comes from work. If more people understand that improvin­g productivity is not just an economic imperative, it is a moral one too, they will back polic­ies that create jobs. If corporate leaders like me don’t support these policies, who will?

Lower corporate taxes, more sensible industrial relations laws and less red tape are far more fund­amental to our future than adding BHP’s name to any number­ of feel-good social causes.

For too long, corporate leaders have shunned these policy debate­s on spurious grounds that we do not get involved in politics. We make that claim in our corporate governance statement. It’s utter nonsense.

We get involved in, and throw shareholders’ money at, an array of highly contestable social causes. The Voice? How can we, as corporate leaders, justify taking sides on an issue that is an intensely political, its consequences unknown, yet we did nothing when there was a concrete proposal to abolish tax refunds for our shareholders.

That dereliction of duty will not happen again under my watch. Virtue-signalling about socia­l issues that are far more contested than we care to admit ends today. I commit to redrafting BHP’s corporate governance statement to make this new direction abundantly clear.

On that score, the next time another small, noisy group of activist­s tries to hijack the ASX corporate governance principles, imposing pages of social engineering baloney, I will speak out.

Last time it happened, our silenc­e created an opening for those interfering activists who do not value free enterprise. We left it to others to defeat the dangerous frolic that would have guaranteed a one-size-fits-all corporate medioc­rity. Mediocre companies do not survive in a globally competiti­ve world. Today, I commit to showing leadership about how and by whom BHP is run.

Nowhere is the morality of free markets more obvious than when it comes to cheap and reliable energ­y. Our economy, our local businesses, existing and new jobs, our living standards depend on cheap and reliable energy. That means there is a future for coal.

It is one of the great moral challeng­es of our time to provide cheap energy to countries less fortunat­e than ours.

Cheap energy has already lifted billions of people out of poverty­, improved their life chances­.

Let me end this address by making it clear that we are a proud exporter of coal, and we will not engage in rich-country hypocrisy that presumes to tell other countries they cannot enjoy the same advantages that have made us rich. Thank you.”


 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

No comments: