Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Medevac transfers are just a rort

Fewer than one in 10 refugees and asylum-seekers transferred to Australia under Labor-backed medivac laws has required hospital treatment, and none is currently receiving in-patient care.

Operation Sovereign Borders head Craig Furini told Senate estimates on Monday that just 13 medical-transfer detainees, out of 135 brought to Australia so far, had been hospitalised. "As of this morning, there are zero of those transferred in hospital," Major General Furini said.

He also revealed that six peo-ple had been transferred to Aus-tralia under the legislation despite security concerns, and a further two had been approved for transfer despite similar character concerns.

Five people transferred under the laws had refused treatment after arriving in Australia, and a further 43 had refused chest X-rays or pathology tests.

The Senate heard 10 detainees in Port Moresby had been approved for transfer but were unable to travel because they were being held under PNG law.

As the government prepares to introduce legislation to overturn the medivac laws, General Furini said all refugees and asylum-seekers who had been transferred remained in Australia.

Home Affairs Department secretary Mike Pezzullo said it was a "grievous flaw in the legislation" that detainees could be brought to Australia for assessment without the ability to return them to offshore processing. "(It) the assessment leads to the conclusion ... that, well, actually there is no further treatment required, there is no ability to return," he said.

Mr Pezzullo also rejected claims of a "crisis" in refugees arriving by plane, saying just 0.23 per cent of those entering the country with valid visas went on to claim protection visas.

Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally tackled Mr Pezzullo in Senate estimates on Monday over onshore refugee claims, which she argues are at crisis levels. Mr Pezzullo confirmed there were 92,000 on-shore claims in the past five years from more than four million arrivals.

He said trying to get that number down would deliver a "vanishingly small return". "The marginal gain that you would achieve in tapping that number down by putting onerous restrictions in terms of students, tourists, visitor visas and the like would be completely disproportionate to the gains that you end up getting," Mr Pezzullo said.

"You end up creating so many disincentives in terms of tourist, visitor visa, student categories, that the pain would not be worth the effort."

He said onshore refugee claims were a "completely different problem" than asylum-seeker arrivals by boat, which had led to an estimated 1200 people dying at sea. "I've dealt with a border crisis. This is not a border crisis, I can assure you," Mr Pezzullo said.

He said among members of the Five Eyes security alliance "there is a degree of incomprehension that we have got the numbers as under control as possible". "Frankly, the reaction we get is the Meg Ryan reaction — 'We'll have what they're having'," he said, referring to a scene in the 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally.

Senate estimates heard 24,520 refugee claims were made in 2018-19 by people who arrived by air. This was down on the pre-vious Year, when about 27,900 onshore claims were made. Malaysian and Chinese travellers have previously made up a large proportion of onshore refugee claims, with their applications overwhelmingly rejected.

From "the Australian" of 22 Oct., 2019

Great Barrier Reef has 'vibrant future', authority agrees

They are walking back their Greenie gloom

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has supported Environment Minister Sussan Ley's appraisal that the reef is "good" and has "a vibrant future". A Senate estimates committee hearing on Monday heard a downgrading of the reef condition from poor to very poor was a long-term forecast based on no action being taken on climate change.

GBRMPA chief executive Joshua Thomas said the out-look report was an assessment of the likely condition of the reef if a series of issues were not addressed. These included reducing global greenhouse gas emissions along with improving reef water quality, better marine park compliance, controlling crown of thorns starfish and reducing marine debris.

"The reef is a vast estate and many areas remain vibrant and ecologically robust," he said. "It continuo to be an extraordinary experience for visitors to the region, supporting beautiful corals and abundant marine life."

After her first visit to the reef as minister, Ms Ley said: "It gives me great heart and hope that the future of this magnificent part of the world is a good one." She said at the time the reef
was not dead, was not dying and not even on life support.

"Today we saw coral that was struggling but we also saw coral that was coming back, that was growing, that was vibrant"

Mr Thomas said Ms Ley had been "referring to the fact there are many areas, of the reef that remain vibrant and worth visiting and we support that statement". "It is also true that the reef over the past five years has been subjected to unprecedented changes, including those bleaching events in 2016-177 he added.

The authority's chief scientist, David Wachenfeld, told Senate estimates the outlook report was evidence-based. He said the downgrade from poor to very poor was the long-term outlook for the reef that was largely a consideration of the impacts of climate change on current green-house gas emissions trajectories.

From "the Australian" of 22 Oct., 2019

`Back to basics' plan for new NSW curriculum

The abandonment of year-denominated progress will require a lot more work from teachers and administrators.  Where will the money for that come from?

The NSW school curriculum is poised to be pared back significantly to enable a greater focus on the core subjects of English, maths and science, with the state government promising a "back to basics approach" to education.

Mandated content within the curriculum could be reduced by as much as 20 per cent, while subjects relating to health, safety or social concerns could face the chopping block, under recommendations proposed in the interim report from the NSW curriculum review to be released on Tuesday.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the draft report, which stemmed from a review under way since May 2018, indicated "significant change" was required to be made to the curriculum. "Students need to be equipped with strong literacy and numeracy foundations to succeed in the 21st century," she said. "We want a curriculum that leaves no student behind while stimulating students who are advancing faster than others."

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW "strongly supports a back to basics approach". Many of the findings from the review, led by Australian Council for Educational Research chief executive Geoff Masters, appear to mirror those made in the 2018 report into Australian school education by David Gonski.

Among more than a dozen recommendations, described as "reform directions", is a call for NSW to scrap the year-level curriculum and instead deliver learning based on each student's level of attainment.

Under such a model, students would progress through a sequence of attainment levels — most likely at different times and rates — rather than all moving in "lockstep fashion from one year-level syllabus to the next" de-pending on their age.

Such a change would have implications for the assessment and reporting of student learning, with A to E grades to be scrapped. "Rather than grading each student's performance against the same year-level syllabus expectations, information will be provided about the highest attainment level a student has achieved in each subject at any given time and the progress they are making towards the achievement of the next level, as assessed by their teacher," the report says.

"In this way, parents/carers and students will be provided with information about how a student is progressing and whether they are on track with learning expectations."

According to the report, "the crowded nature of many syllabuses, particularly in primary schools ... was described as encouraging superficial coverage of material rather than teaching for under-standing, exploring relevance and meaning, and providing opportunities for students to transfer and apply their learning".

"The review also heard wide-spread concerns about additional expectations and demands placed on schools and that further reduce time for quality teaching and learning. "A number of submissions observed that schools are fulfilling functions once the responsibility of families and other institutions in society ... particularly in relation to student mental health, wellbeing and the development of personal qualities."

From "the Australian" of 22 Oct., 2019

Desperate attempts to save aluminium smelter from high electricity costs

[Federal] Energy Minister Angus Taylor has called on the Andrews government to prioritise affordable, reliable power, amid doubts over the future of the Portland aluminium smelter in Victoria's southwest, which consumes about 10 per cent of the state's power.

In its third-quarter earnings results released on Wednesday night, US aluminium giant Alcoa, which operates the Portland plant, said it planned to restructure its global portfolio, placing under review "15 million metric tonnes of smelting capacity and four million metric tonnes of alumina refining capacity".

"The review will consider opportunities for significant improvement, potential curtailments, closures or divestitures," Alcoa said.

The company did not name Portland, but chief executive Roy Harvey told analysts on an earnings call on Wednesday night that the smelters in focus would be those where Alcoa had already curtailed capacity. "The review numbers that we've provided are for both operating capacity and currently curtailed capacity, so all of that capacity would be under review," he said.

That list included Portland, where 15 per cent of the smelter's annual capacity is idled, and facilities in Brazil, Canada and three of Alcoa's US operations. The annual capacity of all of those smelters combined is 15 million tonnes.

Alcoa also declared its ambition to become "the lowest emitter of carbon dioxide" among the world's aluminium companies, adding to the clouds over Portland's future, given 70 per cent of its power comes from brown coal from Victoria's Latrobe Valley.

Mr Taykir said of all energy-intensive industries, smelters were "particularly sensitive" to electricity reliability and price.

"The Australian government is already engaging with NSW and Queensland on the future of their domestic smelters," he said. "The future challenges facing the Victorian energy grid are well known.

"The Andrews government needs to prioritise the affordability and reliability of their grid, and ensure their thermal generators stay in the market, running at full tilt, to ensure the viability of Victorian industry into the future."

Australian Workers Union Victorian branch secretary Ben Davis also highlighted the importance of affordable pcower,saying he had sought assuraces from Alcoa that jobs would not be lost. "The review will take its course," he said. "In the meantime, Alcoa will be seeking negotiations around their power contract,  which expires in mis 2021

He said the aluminium industry was facing challenges and the review did not come as a surprise, but added "To see Alcoa close in Portland would be a catastrophic hit to the economy in southwest Victoria, which none of us wants."

In 2017, the Andrews government provided $200m over four years to ensure Portland would operate until at least 2021. The federal government has also contributed $30m to guarantee operations through to June 2021.

In response to extensive questions about the future of the Portland smelter, an Andrews government spokeswoman said: "This is a matter for Alcoa." Liberal MP for the state seat of ‘South  West Coast Roma Britnell said State government policies had forced electricity prices "sky high" and placed enormous pressure on the Portland smelter.  Andrews can't sit on his hands, he must act and support Alcoa to make the Portland smelter sustainable," Ms Britnell said. "The potential closure of the Portland smelter would be devastating for the community."

Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews said Alcoa had not identified any specific operations likely to be affected by its review. "It's premature to speculate about the future of its Portland smelter," Ms Andrews said.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" 16/10/2019
 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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