Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Journalists won't face facts over false claims of abuse in divorce proceedings


Astounding as it might seem, fact can sometimes be portrayed as fiction because politicians and journalists are more interested in their own positioning than realistically dealing with the proposition at hand.

Afteryears of campaigning for reform of the Family Court system, Pauline Hanson last month welcomed the government's decision to grant her wish of a parliamentary inquiry, complete with her place as deputy chair.

In one of her first interviews Hanson told Radio National Breakfast's Hamish McDonald that women sometimes used false domestic violence claims so as to win sole custody of their children. "I'm hearing of too many cases where children, or parents I should say, are using domestic violence to stop the other parent from seeing their children. Perjury is in our system, but they're not charged with perjury," said the One Nation Senator.

McDonald, rightly, pressed Hanson for evidence to support her claim, and she, rightly, relayed cases forwarded to her, including one involving her son, as anecdotal evidence while arguing this was one of the issues the inquiry should examine in order to establish verifiable information. Hanson went on to make similar comments on Nine Media and elsewhere, dubbing some women "liars".

Cue outrage. "One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has caused outrage after making a series of comments on ABC Radio this morning, implying women who report domestic violence are often lying," reported "Pauline Hanson sparks fury with claim domestic violence victims are lying to family court," screamed The Guardian Australia. "Pauline Hanson slammed," opened The Project while host Carrie Bickmore said Hanson "sparked outrage taking aim at domestic violence victims" — which seemed to draw a long and inflammatory bow.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, journalist David Leser wrote Hanson "has already demonstrated her lack of fitness for the job by accusing women of fabricating domestic violence claims in order to get custody of their children". The Guardian Australia's political reporter, Katharine Murphy, opined: "Hanson has kicked off with inflammation, ventilating the old chestnut that women are making up domestic violence claims in custody battles."

In Nine Media newspapers Jacqueline Maley and Bianca Hall quoted former Family Court chief justice Elizabeth Evatt: "The first-ever chief justice of the Family Court says Senator Pauline Hanson's claim that women fabricate family violence complaints is 'appalling' and 'not true."

With such outrage afoot the safest place for politicians (especially men) to be was anywhere but agreeing with Hanson. While Labor and the Greens lined up to attack her, even Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton pushed back. "Pauline Hanson is passionate about a lot of issues and she was wrong in relation to some of the comments she made during the course of the week," he said.

Surely for journalists there was one crucial question that had to be addressed — and it wasn't whether or not you agreed with Hanson's language, supported her priorities, or whether you thought false claims were the biggest problem when it came to the Family Court and domestic violence. The question was simply whether she was right.

The ABC ran a story on the second day of this controversy saying domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty had "called out" Hanson's comments, yet in the next paragraph quoted Batty saying there are "some women who abuse the system".

The Project, The Guardian Australia and others went to journalist Jess Hill, whose book on domestic violence cited, among other things, a study showing men made false claims at three times the rate of women. Hill was keen to condemn Hanson but did she disprove her claims? On The Project, Bickmore asked Hill: "Jess, what do you make of Pauline's comments? Are false abuse claims a big problem in our Family Courts?"

The response was emphatic and fascinating. "No," said Hill, "we actually have data for a really long time telling us about the average number of false claims, or deliberately false allegations — they're at about 10 per cent"

On RN Breakfast the day after his initial Hanson interview, McDonald followed up by interviewing domestic violence expert Dr Jane Wangmann from University of Technology Sydney. Asked whether or not false claims happened, her initial response mentioned that this was "a very powerful narrative that has come from men's rights groups" and she went on to say "there is no evidence to support her (Hanson's) allegations".

Yet, live to air, Wangmann cited studies in Canada and Australia tracing false claims involv-ing child abuse and family court matters. "They have found allegations that are false are very, very small, ranging between 4 and 12 per cent," she said. Wangmann clarified that the 12 per cent figure related to the Australian study but insisted: "There is no evidence to support this is a widespread concern in which we might need to have an inquiry."

So here we had RN Breakfast and The Project persisting in their outrage that Hanson was perpetrating a falsehood about women making false claims, at the same time their chosen experts confirmed false allegation rates of 10 and 12 per cent. In neither case did the interviews note that false claim rates of 10 per cent or more only under-scored Hanson's point.

Instead the media angle was to remain aligned with their guests — that is, opposed to Hanson. This is a dear case of the media maintaining their ideological position despite the facts, journalism siding with political style over factual substance.

Judging whether someone is right or wrong is not a matter of making hierarchical comparisons with other issues. Hanson did not say false claims are a bigger issue than the number of women being killed in domestic violence attacks, or that this was easy or that it was the only issue. Hanson said there was a problem with false claims and that it might be a factor in the high rates of male suicide. And while politicians rushed to distance themselves, so did the media.

But even in their efforts to de-bunk Hanson they revealed figures suggesting one in every 10 claims put before the system is false. It seems we have cultivated such a superficial public debate that participants fear conceding any point to Hanson might see them identified with her agenda. So, figures that proved Hanson
had a point were used to pretend she was wrong.

Child psychologist Clare Rowe deals in such matters daily. "People might not like Hanson's politics, or priorities, or how she speaks about these issues, but the reality is false claims are a problem," Rowe told me. "This topic should not be taboo because, while we know the court must err on the side of caution, these cases do occur, and it means hundreds of children are being denied a parent under false pre-tences."

That sounds like an issue worthy of media examination. But it requires a bit more time and effort compared to the usual Hanson backlash angle.

Story from the Brisbane "courier Mail" of 7 October, 2019

Governments created this Murray-Darling water crisis

The Murray-Darling is the only major region where irrigation plays a prominent role. Water availability there has the urgent attention of politicians because locals, unhappy at measures that have deprived farmers of water, have helped displace Nationals representatives in favour of those from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

Drought Minister David Littleproud is to meet farming representatives on Tuesday to discuss a fivefold increase in prices of Murray-Darling water. The minister attributes this to speculator hoarding together with another villain, climate change, which he says “is leading to hotter days, meaning droughts”.

Neither of these factors are the cause of the farmers’ discontent.

Although the Murray-Darling, like much of Australia, is in serious drought, this is not unusual. Other areas are seeing record rainfall; for Australia as a whole, rainfall has increased during the past century.

As for the minister’s attack on speculators, he targets an ever-convenient and populist scapegoat.

Independent ownership of water was facilitated when the ­rivers’ water was formally made tradeable in 2014 (before which trades were informal and ostensibly water could be owned only by the landowner).

Unless they are monopolists — and the sheer number of water owners makes this impossible — speculators simply respond to market opportunities. In this way, speculators perform a useful function in ironing out supply and demand imbalances and selling scarce supplies to those whose willingness to pay shows they need them most.

The real reasons behind the distress of irrigated agriculture are government policies that have ­reduced water availability.

Across the course of the 20th century, irrigation had transformed the Murray-Darling Basin from an arid region to one that produced more than 40 per cent of the nation’s agricultural output. The basin’s irrigators have long seen rival claims to the water from those at the Murray mouth, where allocated flows have created artificial permanent freshwater lakes.

But alternative uses were claimed in the 1990s by activists, calling themselves the Wentworth Group, whose members ­included Tim Flannery, David ­Karoly and Mike Young, the ­author of a column last week in this newspaper (“Drought of good ideas has drained water policy”). In addition to claims that irrigation was depriving natural vegetation of water, the Wentworth Group sought to wind back irrigation use on the basis of salinity with bloodcurdling claims such as “Salt destroying our rivers and land like a cancer”.

The fact is the Murray-Darling has become a working river. It experiences highly irregular annual flows of between 7000 and 118,000 gigalitres within an average 34,000GL. By 1997, dams along the system had ­allowed about 12,000GL a year to be granted to irrigators under levels of accessibility that vary with each year’s water availability. This not only brought the region’s agricultural bounty but converted a ­highly irregular river into ­placid waterway for tourists.

Wentworth Group activists ­recruited the ABC and other media as supporters in its agenda to reallocate the water flows from agriculture. In response, the Howard government bought up water from farmers for environmental purposes and, in doing so, set in place bureaucratic machinery that could readily expand the reallocation. This was tailor-made for the election of the Rudd government when climate change psychosis became the catalyst for further reducing irrigation water.

The 2008 Garnaut report, which was written by Steven Kennedy, who recently was appointed Treasury secretary, claimed that climate change meant the Murray-Darling area would be faced with permanent drought.

The ­report argued that we should start now to reduce water use generally in preparation for the period under which no irrigation would be possible.

Under Rudd’s radical environmentalist water minister, Tony Burke, the stakes were raised and 2750GL were to be bought from irrigators or created (by water-saving expenditures). At a cost of $13bn, this meant taking 20 per cent of a vital input into farming.

Inevitably, reduced output as well as higher prices have been caused by this government-induced scarcity. Ironically, the reduction in farmers’ water availability took place when the government was proclaiming a new dawn in demand for farm produce from the burgeoning Asian economies.

While making minor revisions, today’s federal government has accepted the thrust of the policy set up by its predecessor.

Blaming twin bogeymen of speculators and climate change is no solution to the problems ­governments have created. The Murray-Darling water policy has been a disaster for the region and the nation.

The solution is to ­accept the reality that the river system, before recent years’ ­reallocation of irrigation water, was in good condition. The more regular flows that the dams have allowed contributed to this as well as creating a thriving agricultural province. The only way of repairing the damage must start with the government selling back to irrigators the stocks of water that it now owns.


Record number of asylum seekers arriving in Australia - but  they're not coming by boat

In just five years, 95,943 people seeking refugee status arrived lawfully by air, the government has revealed.

The number of asylum seekers arriving by air more than tripled from 8,652 in the 2014-15 financial year to 27,884 in 2017-18.

Labor's immigration spokeswoman Kristina Keneally, who asked a parliamentary question on notice on August 20, said a 'staggering' 80 asylum seekers a day were arriving by plane.

At the present rate, she predicted a 'record-breaking' 29,470 were likely to arrive by air 'which would be the highest number of asylum claims in any year ever'.

Between July 1 and August 19 this year, 4,037 asylum seekers arrived by plane.

Senator Keneally, Labor's American-born deputy leader in the Senate, suggested asylum seekers arriving by plane had been exploited by unscrupulous employers.

'There's nothing wrong with claiming asylum – it's an important right,' she said in a statement on Monday.

'However, in 90 per cent of these particular cases, the individuals are not legitimate refugees and are often being trafficked to Australia for the explicit purpose of being exploited.'

Immigration Minister David Coleman confirmed 84.2 per cent of those who applied for a protection visa were refused, which added up to 62,732 people.

When Labor was last in power,  50,000 asylum seekers arrived on 800 boats between 2007 and 2013.

This slowed to a trickle when the Coalition came to power, and stopped the former department of immigration and border protection from publishing media alerts every time an illegal boat arrived in Australian waters.

Senator Keneally pointed out the number of asylum seekers that had arrived by plane in five years was double the number that came by boat during Labor's six years in power.

The Coalition has argued that under Labor, 1,200 people died at sea, including 48 asylum seekers from Iran and Iraq who died in 2010 when their boat washed on to cliffs at Christmas Island.

Senator Keneally said Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had overlooked the number of asylum seekers who arrived by plane only to be exploited.

'Peter Dutton boasts "no one dies on a plane" but the truth is we have no idea how many airplane people may have been critically injured or even died on his watch because of exploitation and slavery that is taking place under his nose,' she said.


Jewish boys taunted in shocking cases of anti-Semitic bullying at Melbourne schools

A 12-year-old Jewish student was forced to kneel down and kiss the shoes of a Muslim classmate, while a five-year-old boy was allegedly called a "Jewish cockroach" and repeatedly hounded in the school toilets by his young classmates.

The two incidents this year – the first involving a year 7 boy at Cheltenham Secondary College and the second a prep student at Hawthorn West Primary School – have prompted the Anti-Defamation Commission to sound an alarm about what it says is a "rapidly spreading" crisis involving anti-Semitic bullying in Victorian state schools.

Both boys, whose parents have asked to remain anonymous, have since left the schools where the incidents occurred, with the five-year-old boy currently being home schooled.

The older boy’s act of kissing another student’s shoes, under threat of being swarmed by several other boys, was filmed, photographed and shared on social media.

No disciplinary action has been taken against the group of boys involved in the incident, which took place in a public park.

The mother said she was bitterly disappointed by the response of Cheltenham Secondary College and the Education Department.

The school and the department have denied having responsibility for the incident, because it did not take place on school grounds, the mother said.

"I took such offence with the Education Department, because there was nothing they did to protect my son at all, at any point in time – that’s what’s cut me up," she said.

The mother sought out the parents of the Muslim boy, who were horrified by their son’s actions.

"We sat down, his parents, the two boys and myself, around the table and explained the velocity of [the bullying] and what it meant to us as parents as far as building bridges between Jews and Muslims in society and not creating division like that photo does," she said.

One of the boys who watched on was later suspended for five days for assaulting the Jewish student in the school locker room.

The Jewish boy was punched in the face and left with a bruised back and had skin gouged out of his shoulder, his mother said.

The mother of the five-year-old boy at Hawthorn West Primary said her son was repeatedly taunted and laughed at over his circumcised penis, to the point where he began to wet himself in class rather than go to the toilet.

The taunts – which the education department said could not be corroborated because they were not overheard by teachers – led the school to temporarily provide a separate toilet for the boy as a "safety plan", although this plan failed on its second day.

The mother said one of the most disturbing aspects of the other children’s insults was the way they mirrored the anti-Semitic language of the Holocaust. "The words ‘you dirty Jew’ and ‘Jewish cockroach’, they are such cliches," she said.

"I grew up with Holocaust survivors, I used to go to synagogue with my uncle who was a Holocaust survivor and those were the words, literally, he was taunted with when he was five."

The department conceded last month in an apology letter to the parents that the boy had been laughed at in the toilets by other students on this day and said this was unacceptable.

"While school staff were not able to substantiate that any negative interactions were anti-Semitic in nature, on the basis of those investigations, school staff identified an incident that involved children laughing at [the boy]," department director Barbara Crowe said. "This was not acceptable and would have been an unpleasant experience for [the boy]. I am sorry that this occurred."

But the mother said the school had made an error of judgment by treating the incident as general bullying, not anti-Semitism. "Why not just say, this is anti-Semitism and talk about it? These are things that happen to different people and different religions," she said.

The parents have lost confidence in Hawthorn West Primary School’s ability to care for their son, and are home schooling him while looking for a new school.

Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, said this was part of a disturbing trend of Jewish parents pulling their children out of government schools in Melbourne.

"There is mounting evidence that families are forced to take their children out of public schools and to enrol them in Jewish-day schools due to a growing sense of insecurity and fear that their kids will be harmed simply because of who they are," Dr Abramovich said.

Mr Abramovich has been helping the mother of the 12-year-old boy to find another school for her daughter, because she does not want to send her to Cheltenham Secondary College.

The Education Department has been contacted for commen

 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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