Thursday, October 31, 2019

A-G backs silk over Labor campaigning

The swamp defends one of their own.  A politicized judiciary is OK if it's Leftist.  Nobody can see anything wrong about Qld Bar Association president Rebecca Treston QC handing out Leftist propaganda on the streets

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has declared her full confidence in state Bar Association president Rebecca Treston QC amid disquiet over the silk campaigning for Labor at the federal election. Ms D'Ath threw her weight behind the first woman to head the state Bar after The Weekend Australian revealed former president Christopher Hughes QC had written to federal Attorney-General Christian Porter dissociating himself from Ms Treston's actions.

Hitting out at Mr Hughes, Ms D'Ath said: "Mr Hughes has not written to the Queensland Attorney-General, who is responsible for making Queensland judicial appointments. "It is regrettable that Mr Hughes has chosen to politicise the matter by writing to the Commonwealth Attorney-General, who has no authority over state appointments."

Ms Treston said she was acting in a personal capacity when she donned a Labor T-shirt and handed how how-to-vote cards for her friend and ALP candidate Ali France before the May 18 federal election. This happened once, for only a few hours, she said. Ms Treston insisted she did not belong to a political party and her position did not preclude her from being "supportive to my friends".

In a shot at the federal government's quasi-judicial appointments in Queensland, Ms D'Ath said the state Labor government's selection process was transparent, unlike the Coalition, which "has no concern with appointing former LNP politicians and staffers" to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

"I have full confidence in Rebecca Treston QC, her leadership of the Bar and in the members of the Bar Association in Queensland," Ms D'Ath said.

Ms Treston's critics have cited her 'responsibilities to advise the state government on judicial appointments and consult over the designation of barristers as Queen's Counsels in arguing that she has compromised the supposedly apolitical standing of the Bar president.

The annual intake of QCs can be contentious because of the valuable stakes: the investiture of silk typically bumps up a barrister's earnings and prospects of advancement, including later appointment to the bench. This year's prospective crop in Queensland is being circulated for comment among Supreme Court judges by Chief Justice Catherine Holmes, who will provide recommendations to Ms D'Ath on who should get silk. An announcement is due by November 20.

Victorian Bar president Matthew Collins QC said he was not aware of rules anywhere in the country preventing the office-bearers of a legal representative body from being actively engaged in political campaigning. Asked whether this was appropriate conduct, Dr Collins said: "My concern would be about whether any conduct had undermined the ability of the office-bearer to engage in a constructive relationship with politicians from whatever side of politics. So it would depend very much on the circumstances."

Ms Treston said she had developed strong working relations with MPs on all sides, and would continue to represent the interests of barristers.

From "The Australian" of 28/10/2019

Chill out: lessons Joe Hockey says the US can learn from Australia

Australia’s Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey has warned that the values that made America great are under pressure and that no-one should take the US-Australia alliance for granted.

In a blunt and at times emotional speech in New York, Mr Hockey who finishes his term in January, offered some heartfelt advice for the US from his observations in his four year posting.

“Patriotism, respect, freedom and hope are values that are essential for America to continue to be exceptional and they are all under extreme pressure in a world that is increasingly fraught,” Mr Hockey told the annual gala dinner of the American Australian Association on Wall St in New York.

Mr Hockey, who was presented with the AAA’s “Legend Award” for his services to Australia’s most important alliance, gave a speech that was generous towards the US but had a sting in its tail.

“Americans can learn from Australians as well,” the former Federal Treasurer said. “Your infrastructure is terrible. Your banking system is really hard work and I don’t understand your health care system.

“Americans also have to learn to chill and they should think a little bit more about bridging the divide between the haves and have-nots in a society that is broad, diverse and inherently generous,” Mr Hockey said.

His comments came less than a week after Mr Hockey, who enjoys a close relationship with the Trump White House, warned that the US was at risk of permanently abdicating its global leadership role if it continues down the route of trade protectionism.

Mr Hockey told the AAA dinner that the risk for both the US and Australia was that both countries took the relationship for granted.

Mr Hockey was introduced by the Secretary of the US Navy Richard Spencer who lauded the strength of the military relationship between the two nations.

The dinner of around 1000 people then watched a video about Mr Hockey’s time in the US which included tributes from singer Olivia Newton-John, golfers Greg Norman and Jan Stephenson and members of the Friends of Australia Caucus in the US Congress.

The night began with Mr Hockey’s favourite band, Human Nature, making a surprise appearance and singing for him as he walked into the building for the function.

For many months Mr Hockey had been trying to get Human Nature to perform at an Australian embassy function somewhere in the US. But the band, which has a solid regular gig in Las Vegas, was never available.

Hockey wanted them for the AAA gala dinner — but his minders said no they are not available.

Except that they were. Hockey stepped out of his car in the front of Cipriani’s Wall St where the AAA gala dinner was held and as he posed for a formal photo, Human Nature emerged from behind a concrete pillar to sing him a song in front of startled New York commuters. Hockey’s face said it all — he had no idea.

Among those also attending the dinner were former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy and the chief executive of News Corp Robert Thomson.

Mr Hockey, who has been Ambassador since January 2016, has been credited with forging close personal connections with the Trump White House.

He has played an important role in helping navigate Australia’s most important alliance relationship through the turbulent Trump administration with an unpredictable president who has often lashed out at close allies.

Mr Hockey has largely ignored the traditional US State Department channels that ambassadors in Washington have relied upon and has instead sought to forge personal relationships inside the White House itself.

He has developed a close friendship with Mr Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and has frequently played golf with both Mulvaney and the president.

During his tenure as ambassador Mr Hockey helped repair an early rift in the relationship when Mr Trump argued with then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull over the refugee deal in a phone call just days into his presidency in early 2017.

Mr Trump lashed out at the deal struck between Mr Turnbull and outgoing president Barack Obama to resettle refugees from Nauru into the United States and accused Mr Turnbull of wanting to export ‘the next Boston bombers’ to the US.

Months later Mr Hockey helped to organise a meeting between the two leaders in New York for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea – a meeting that helped put the relationship back on track.

Mr Hockey has also had to deal with the threat of Australia being hit by Mr Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs which he initially threatened to levy on US allies and rivals alike.

Mr Hockey was part of a successful government-wide lobbying effort to persuade the White House to grant Australia a special exemption from the tariffs.

Mr Hockey’s term ends in January when he will be replaced by former Senator and John Howard’s former chief of staff Arthur Sinodinos.


The West Australian Government will ban students from using mobile phones in all public schools in a major push to reduce distraction and focus on learning

The ban, announced today by Premier Mark McGowan and Education Minister Sue Ellery, will come into effect from 2020.

The prohibition on phones will take effect during school hours, beginning from the time students arrive until the end of the school day, including before school and during break times.

"We want to create the best possible learning environment for WA kids and our policy will allow students to focus on their school work without the distraction of a mobile phone," Mr McGowan said.

With no phones, life returns to the schoolyard

The "off and away all day" policy comes after consultation with schools such as Ocean Reef High School that already had successful guidelines in place for controlling access to mobile phones.

Principal Karon Brookes said despite initial resistance from some students, the ban immediately reduced disruptions in the classroom and increased interaction in the schoolyard.

"Teachers felt that at every change of lesson, they weren't dealing with students and reminding them, prompting them to put away their phones," she said.

"But we also noticed this growing noise in the yard … students were actually talking, laughing and engaging with each other."
Ms Brookes said the school set up extra activities at recess and lunch breaks to help students get used to the new policy.

One Year 11 student at Ocean Reef Senior High School, ZJ Tan, said the ban had paid dividends. "We are not distracted by notifications, so we are more focused in class and we are aware of what homeworks are given out [and] when assignments are due. So grades have improved," she said.

The ban restricts the use of mobile phones, smart watches, earbuds, tablets and headphones unless students are under the instruction of a staff member.

Students from kindergarten to Year 6 will not be permitted to have mobile phones in their possession during the school day.

Students from Years 7 to 12 must have their phones turned off during school hours and kept off and out of sight until the end of the school day.

Additionally, under the new policy, smart watches must be set to airplane mode.

Mr McGowan said exemptions to the policy would be made for students with special circumstances, including those who needed to monitor a health condition, were under the direct instruction of a teacher for educational purposes or had teacher permission for a specified purpose.

Education Minister Sue Ellery told ABC Radio Perth the ban, which had been trialled at six secondary schools, had been relatively well received. "Most of [the students] said they found it useful to have a break," she said. "Some of them whinged a little bit, but nobody said that it was completely unreasonable."

Ms Ellery said teachers would also be allowed to give students permission to use their phone — for example, to take photos of work on whiteboards or to confirm shifts with employers.

She said while other states pointed to the rise of cyberbullying as motivation for similar bans, that was not the case in WA.

"I don't know that it will do that of itself, because most of that happens actually outside of school hours," she said.

"But if this policy helps kids form the habit of having a break and knowing that the world isn't going to end, the sky isn't going to fall down, if you're not on social media 24/7.
"That will probably help with cyberbullying as well."

Ms Ellery said the response at Ocean Reef Senior High School, one of the schools to have trialled the ban, gave her confidence the change would be a success.

"When they introduced the policy at the start of last school year, they were amazed," she said. "They hadn't anticipated the level of noise in the playground at lunchtime because kids were actually talking to each other."


$102m to help keep the lights on

The usefulness of interconnetors consists in some suppliers having excess capacity. With all states shutting down traditional generators, that seems to be less and less likely.  It's a poor substitute for new coal or gas-fired generators

An upgrade of the Queensland-NSW Interconnector will be underwritten by Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in a move to increase competition between generators in the electricity market and drive down wholesale energy prices amid pressure from coal station closures.

The federal and NSW governments will underwrite the project up to $102m to help TransGrid fast-track early works ahead of final approvals by the Australian Energy Regulator.

Ahead of the Liddell coal-fired power station closing in the Hunter Valley in 2023, the Prime Minister said unlocking transmission infrastructure was crucial in ensuring the future of the NSW energy grid. "This is about putting downward pressure on wholesale prices so businesses and households have access to reliable and affordable power," he said.

"Industry needs certainty. They need to know their electricity won't cut out, and their power bill won't suddenly double. "You can't run a business like that, and you can't employ people. That's why we are underwriting this interconnector. It's a practical step to make sure it happens, and it happens quickly."

Support for the interconnector upgrade is separate to the Morrison government underwriting the new generation investments program, which has shortlisted 12 renewable pumped hydro, gas and coal upgrade projects in NSW, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria.

In mid-2018, the Australian Energy Market Operator released an integrated system plan outlining transmission investments required to preserve long-term affordability and reliability in the national electricity market.

The QNI project, which will provide an extra 190MW of transmission capacity from Queensland to NSW and an upgrade of the Victoria/NSW interconnector provide an extra 170M W. of transmission capacity, were identified as key priorities by the AEMO.

Upgraded interconnectors would increase wholesale market competition in NSW and push down prices. Upgrades would also provide a reliability buffer in NSW, delivering an extra 360MW of supply across the state during peak demand.

Ms Berejiklian said her government committed to the QNI up-grade to "ease cost of living pressures across NSW" and provide "reliable and affordable power to households and businesses".

"Last year, the NSW government announced its transmission infrastructure strategy, which outlined our commitment to accelerate the delivery of key interconnector projects, including the QNI," Ms Berejiklian said.  The joint federal-state agreement, of which the Commonwealth's liability is capped to a maximum of $51m, will see upgrades to the QNI brought forward to late-2021 and help cushion the impact of the Liddell closure.

Regulatory approvals for the QNI project were progressing under the NSW transmission infrastructure strategy but further action would be required to ensure the upgraded QNI was "fully operational by the summer of 2022-23".

Under the arrangement, the federal and state governments
would be liable only for early work costs not yet approved by the AER. TransGrid chief executive Paul Italiano said the underwriting commitment was essential to the "early delivery" of the transmission project: "TransGrid is building the interconnector to ensure a reliable supply of electricity to cus-tomers over the summers ahead and as older, coal-fired generators shut down."

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said the project would help "keep the lights on and keep power costs down as the energy market transitions", while federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said NSW industries required lower energy prices and reliable transmission to protect jobs.

From "The Australian" of 28/10/2019

In defence of the recent Leunig toon

It behoves me to defend Michael Leunig, despite having never met him, nor warming to the whiny tone of his cartoons, and holding a bit of a grudge against him because he didn't support his fellow cartoonist, the late, great Bill Leak, in his hour of need.

Still, we need to stand by Leunig because the bullying handed out to him in the searing world of social media is another assault on free expression. Were he around today, Leak would be in Leunig's corner, showing a solidarity too many spared for him.

Leak was probably helped into his early grave in 2017 because of a nasty and illiberal pile-on over his provocative cartoon about indigenous community dysfunction. He was given the full thought-police treatment under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

In miserable comments soon after Leak's death, Leunig said Leak had probably been "egged on" by others to draw his "cruel" cartoon that was a "terrible mistake". He could hardly have been more insulting, wrong or cowardly.

Still, when Leunig last week dared to suggest that some of us —in his drawing, a mum — might be distracted from the better and more important things in life by our smartphones, all hell broke loose. A social media barrage attacked Leunig for things he did not choose — his age, sex and skin colour — as well as for his cartoon.

On Channel 10's The Project Leunig was denounced as a'"dinosaur" and a "74-year-old dude" who' was "targeting mums" and has "form going after women and mums in particular". We were told it was "time he exited the public sphere for good".

At least Leunig didn't confront an AHRC investigation trying to taint him as sexist or racist. But the vigour and tone of the public shaming was worrying; not seeking to disagree or discuss but to silence, condemn and de-platform.

Lucky for Leunig, some cartoonists are consistent. Leak's old mate, The Daily Telegraph's Warren Brown, defended Leunig from what he called an "extraordinary" overreaction. 'We've all copped it out of the blue," Brown sympathised. "A cartoon is about making people think."

Yep, Leunig gave some readers pause to think. Well played, Warren, Bill would have loved your work, and he would have rung you to say so, not deferred to social media.

From "The Australian" of 28/10/2019

 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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