Monday, October 28, 2019

Sydney university abolishing its chair in Australian literature

Literature has an important role in enriching people's lives. I greatly enjoyed my own literary studies of long ago. And formal literary studies have an undoubted role in introducing people to works they might not otherwise come to know. So this decision seems like a step in the wrong direction to me. I personally think that taxpayer-funded education should primarily be vocationally focused but it would be a bleak system that did not also have some role for personal development.

So what's behind this decision? It's pretty clearly a part of the Leftist attack on patriotism. The Left want us all to become undifferentiated internationalists. It's only a slight revision of the old aim to create a "New Soviet Man". The corrupt United Nations is the great multicolored hope of the Left. Mr Trump strikes at their very heart

There is a lot of distinctively Australian literature and I think a lot of it is pretty good -- Patrick White and Kath Walker excepted. It introduces us to times and places in Australia that we would not usually come to know about otherwise.

Publisher Michael Heyward has launched an attack on the University of Sydney, describing the sandstone institution's decision to cut off funding for its Australian literature chair as a "shocking betrayal of readers and writers" that "reveals a contempt for books"

The university recently said it had withdrawn internal funding for the chair; the oldest and most prestigious of its type in AUstralia, while it searched for external funding for the role.

The move, which follows the retirement of the university's fourth professor of Australian literature, Robert Dixon, shocked many as the chair was the nation's first dedicated professorship of Australian literature when it was set up 57 years ago.

Heyward, managing director of Melbourne publishing house Text Publishing, said withdrawal of university funds from the historically important role was a case of Sydney joining the "philistine ranks" of other universities, whose Australian literature offerings had traditionally been "paltry".

"In the sorry history of the teaching of Australian literature in our universities, Sydney has been the outlier since 1962 when its chair was founded by public subscription," he said "Now it has joined the philistine ranks of its fellow institutions.

"Not even the Australian National University has a chair in Australian literature. What kind of country can't bear to teach its own literature? What kind of university has no curiosity about the writers who have shaped our imaginations, and have informed how we think?"

Heyward, whose company publishes local and international authors as well Australian classics, said "our universities are increasingly cut off from Australia's dynamic literary life, from our festivals and from our bookstores and from the readers who keep them alive".

Elizabeth Webby, a former professor of Australian literature at Sydney University, called the defunding of the role "very disappointing", warning that if external funding wasn't found and the chair was abandoned, it would leave just one Ozlit chair for academics nationwide, at the University of Western Australia.

"The only (full-time) chair that actually involves an academic doing courses in Australian literature is at UWA, which is government-funded," she said, The UWA chair was established after The Australian exposed how, in 2006, there was just one full-time Australian literature chair still operating -- the Sydney role now under threat

The University of Melbourne has had an externally funded professorship of Australian literature since 2015, reserved for authors rather than academics.

Paul Giles, Sydney University's Challis Professor of English, said the withdrawal of university funds from the chair was caused, in part, by falling student enrolments in Ozlit subjects and fewer research grants going to the humanities. He said the university still employed three fUll-time Ozlit specialists and two part-time lecturers, but admitted that the university had yet to begin its search for external funds

From "The Weekend Australian" of 26/10/2019

It's not "men" who are to blame for domestic violence

A big study has shown that it's a few repeat offenders from poor communities who do most of the violence. The feminists are dead wrong. No demographic is a powerful predictor but the most relevant demographic is income, not sex

A recent watershed moment that sank to the bottom of the sea was a landmark study by the Australian Institute of Criminology that examined 39 quantitative studies of domestic violence over the past decade or so, entitled simply “Domestic violence offenders, prior offending and reoffending in Australia”.

Astonishingly, given the amount of publicity and so-called “research” this life or death issue has received in recent years, the study noted in its opening statement: “To our knowledge, there has been no attempt to develop a comprehensive understanding of what characterises domestic violence offenders and offending across Australia.”

In an effort to actually tackle this problem, it combed through almost 3000 records and more than 300 papers from almost every conceivable agency and source, painstakingly eliminating those that were not scientifically sound, such as sources more than 30 years old, those not from Australia and those based on non-hard data, such as focus groups and interviews.

The evidence from this comprehensive, fact-based and tragically unprecedented analysis was clear and overwhelming. There was a massive concentration of domestic violence in disadvantaged and indigenous communities and that alcohol was also a driving factor.

Perhaps most significantly, despite the prevailing narrative that domestic violence is a simple male versus female issue, it found that in fact it was a tiny minority of men who were responsible for a vastly disproportionate amount of abuse.

“There is growing recognition that domestic violence offending is concentrated among a relatively small group of offenders or couples,” the AIC found.

One 2016 study it cited “found that a very small minority of repeat offenders (2 per cent) were responsible for half of all harm (50 per cent)” and another 2017 Northern Territory study “found that eight per cent of couples accounted for 27 per cent of the harm associated with domestic violence”.

The conclusion was unequivocal: “First, a very large proportion of offenders involved in domestic violence incidents attended by police, and who then move through the justice system, are recidivist offenders.”

Moreover, these were concentrated in the poorest and most long-suffering communities, as the AIC found and stated again and again.

“The likelihood of domestic violence reoffending appears to be higher in more socio-economically disadvantaged communities,” the report said.

And again: “Those in highly disadvantaged areas were also at a greater risk of violent domestic violence reoffending compared with those in the areas of least disadvantage.”

And once more: “Perpetrators of physical violence were found to have higher levels of unemployment (a 2007 study) and were more likely to be from more disadvantaged areas (another study from 2016).”

It literally could not be clearer.

And yet only four of the 39 studies the AIC analysed even looked at the socio-economic status of offenders — compared to 21 that focused on gender. Apparently most of the academic research over the past decade is either oblivious or wilfully blind to the most critical factor in this scourge.

By contrast, I and precious few others have been crazybrave enough to publicly draw attention to the fact that poorest communities are hardest hit by domestic violence. And it is a matter of public record that whenever I have said or written precisely what the evidence shows I have been summarily crucified by self-proclaimed progressives, including suggestions that I am a closet abuser myself, that I should be bashed or defiled and veiled threats from activists saying they knew where I lived or went to the supermarket.

Meanwhile these same so-called progressives are happy to consign poor and indigenous women to their deaths in their darkly narcissistic campaign to argue that they are no more at risk than upper-middle class professionals because it is simply men that are the problem, not broken communities. This is the deadliest of lies.

As a result you won’t see or hear these progressive gender warriors championing the findings of this most comprehensive and belatedly groundbreaking study, because they know they are condemned by the truth.

If they had any decency they would hang their heads in shame for abandoning the most vulnerable women in our society for the sake of a few retweets and an undergraduate ideological war. But the fact is they have no decency, nor any shame.

Still, I promised a happy story and so it is. Because, as the outrage subsides and the evidence rolls in, it will become evermore clear that the social media arbiters of social justice are mindless hypocrites far more obsessed with their own pontification than the real problems besetting society — not to mention wholly unaware of what those problems even are.

And as the outrage is constantly disproved and defrocked, not only does the emperor have no clothes but the emperor has been stripsearched at Splendour and found to be carrying not so much as a disco biscuit up the jexy.

The truth will out, the truth will prevail, and the truth will put the horseshit in the pail.


Qantas chairman rejects activists' demands over illegal immigration

QANTAS Airways chairman Richard Goyder says the high-profile airline is being singled out by activists who are trying to use it to change government policy around asylum seekers.

The comments were made at the Flying Kangaroo annual meeting which was again dominated by attempts to get the airline to stop carrying asylum seekers who were being forcibly transferred or deported by the government.

A resolution by activist shareholder group the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility to get the company to review its policies in this area failed to win share-holder approval. The resolution attracted a yes vote of 23.5 per cent, up from the 6.4 per cent support a similar resolution put to last year's meeting gained. The ACCR said the result was the largest support vote for a human rights resolution ever put to an Australian company. [It's a human right to enter another country illegally?]

Mr Goyder said other airlines had not attracted the same sort of attention from the ACCR as Qantas. "The ACCR, for all its good things, is using the Qantas brand to try to change government policy," he told the meeting yesterday. "I'd encourage ACCR to take up this cause with the Federal Government, and I'd like to reiterate the directors recognise the complexity of Australian immigration policy and recognise the courts are the best places to make decisions on the rights of asylum seekers, not airlines."

Mr Goyder acknowledged some parties had accused Qantas of hypocrisy for taking a stand on social issues like gender diversity, indigenous reconciliation and marriage equality but not taking up charge on asylum seekers. He rejected the suggestion, saying the airline was not duty bound to speak up on all social issues.

"We are pleased to be part of broader conversations on social and economic issues," he said. "But it's absurd to suggest that because a company speaks up on some issues, it is therefore duty-bound to speak up on all issues." Chief executive Alan Joyce said if Qantas agreed to stop transporting asylum seekers, it could disadvantage those in need of medical assistance, or transfers between detention centres due to overcrowding.

"How can the airlines be the judge on each of these individual cases?" Mr Joyce said. "You're asking us to do an impossible task and we could do more damage by not carrying these people."

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail of 26/10/2019

Household recycling nightmare.  Italy is a warning

I have seen the future of household recycling; it wasn’t a dream — it’s a nightmare.

A five-coloured rainbow of daily rubbish duties for the householder; constant sorting in the basement; living under the threat of having your garbage left behind because you failed to follow the rules; being bossed about by a council worker in hi-vis rejecting your rubbish; rules that your garbage must be in transparent plastic to allow inspection, or costly biodegradable bags for organic waste; and colour coding that is an immutable law unto itself.

In addition to daily duties for household waste there are the supplementary collection days for old clothing and large items and garden waste that can take months to organise.

Last Monday’s report from Infrastructure Victoria that sees a future for Melburnians separating materials into organics, plastics, paper and cardboard, glass, metals and “regular” waste is part of a global shift to recycling and sorting by the householder to make the rubbish handlers’ job easier.

Scott Morrison has adopted a personal campaign to encourage recycling as an industry, to cut waste, reduce landfill and help the environment.

But the prime ministerial vision is at an industrial level. On his visit to the US he attended the opening of Anthony Pratt’s cardboard factory in Ohio, which is recycling waste paper, and the largest recycling plant in North America, also Australian-owned, where glass, rubber and plastic are turned into building materials.

This is a vastly different view of recycling than the idea that households have up to six bins to sort a family’s waste.

I have lived it in a mountain village in Italy — what evolved was a complicated, increasingly costly and endlessly time-consuming rubbish collection system.

Ten years ago there was a weekly garbage collection for everything. Then the commune — the council — introduced large communal bins to take bottles and paper for recycling as the system of waste management changed across Italy. (The irony being this is a country where corruption and inefficiency would regularly create mountains of garbage on the streets of Naples and the illegal dumping into the sea of everything from toxic waste to radioactive materials.)

Because the collection of our garbage was often delayed, the communal bins filled with all sorts of waste so the council moved to control garbage by increasing household sorting.

This summer in the little mountain village in the Abruzzi — and across Italy — there will be five separate rubbish bins; every household must put out or bring in a rubbish bin every day of the week and spend every evening sorting the rubbish to avoid contamination that would see collectors leave it behind.

There are five categories of rubbish, each with their own colour-coded bin, which must have its own designated bin-liner of a specified type.

The categories are organic (a five-litre brown bin and biodegradable bag); glass (a 10-litre bin and green transparent plastic bag); paper and cardboard (10-litre blue bin with transparent bag); plastic and metal (10-litre yellow bin with transparent bag) and; “secco”, loosely described as “hard” rubbish (a five-litre grey bin with a transparent bag).

Of course, all bins can’t be collected on the same day. Each is collected on a set day of the week.

But because organic waste has to be collected more often, the collection days shift and you must keep a daily calendar. No bin is collected on Sunday but you need to put one out Sunday night.

Typically there are three organic — food scraps from the kitchen — collections a week, with two as close to the weekend as possible but never guaranteed. There is also a sorting issue: plastic trays from the supermarket that have had meat in them can be placed in the organic bag, as can kitchen paper towels. But nonetheless, there’s a risk it will be deemed incorrect and left on your doorstep.

Likewise, glass and plastic collections are in transparent bags so they can be inspected to ensure there is no sheet glass or unwashed containers.

My neighbours this summer, up from Rome for their annual holiday, had their rubbish rejected three days in a row because they used black plastic bags. The garbage man told them that I was “from Australia” and even I knew the rules.

The real problem is “secco” such as CDs, DVDs and toothpaste tubes, but there is a limit to how many CDs you are throwing out and our village simply shrugs its shoulders and says “secco” is for “too hard” waste. It ends up the rubbish of the rubbish.

Apartment dwellers without a basement are cursed; they must store five bins or are given keys to small communal bins appropriately coloured and locked.

The cumulative result of rejected rubbish, a lack of public bins, confusion over categories and a reluctance to store putrid rubbish is that sneaky piles of trash appear around the place, and in the rural areas woodstoves and fires have the distinct smell of burning plastic.

My wife reckons I’m obsessed but I think it’s a modern recycling equivalent of fear of missing out — missing out on having our stinky rubbish removed.


Andrews dabbles in foreign policy to state’s detriment

Victoria began in 1851 as a colony of the United Kingdom. On January 1, 1901, it became a state of the Commonwealth of Australia. It did not have a foreign policy in either capacity.

Nor did Australia during its early decades. On September 3, 1939, prime minister Robert Menzies declared war on Nazi Germany. His message was that “Great Britain has declared war upon” Germany and “as a result, Australia is also at war”.

This was an accurate statement. It is not clear precisely when Australia developed a complete independence from Britain. But this occurred on or after the passing of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act received royal assent in October 1942.

Through the years since Federation, the powers of the commonwealth government have increased at the expense of state governments. However, no state has queried the right of the commonwealth government to determine Australian foreign and defence policies. That has been ­regarded as a constitutional ­responsibility of the commonwealth.

Until this week, that is, when Victoria’s left-wing Labor premier Daniel Andrews appeared to do precisely this. Last Wednesday, it was announced that the Victorian government had signed a framework agreement with China’s ­National Development and Reform Commission.

This is a manifestation of what China refers to as its Belt and Road Initiative. It amounts to China interacting with governments in ­respect to infrastructure, innovation (high-end manufacturing and technology) and aged care along with trade development and market access.

Under the plan, a joint working group will be established to oversee future co-operation that And­rews and NDRC vice-chairman Ning Jizhe will chair. The framework agreement is not legally binding but is regarded by ­Andrews as an example of the strength of the relationship between the two entities.

It remains to be seen whether the framework agreement between Victoria and China is a good idea that will have a positive outcome. Certainly it has been criticised by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who raised two questions: “Why does he (Andrews) believe this is in our national interest; why does he believe it’s in Victoria’s interest?”

At this early stage, the framework agreement is of little consequence, except for the symbolism involved.

In the Victorian government’s media release on Wednesday, three quotes were provided attributable to Andrews. The intent of one was clear, namely: “We don’t see China as our good customers, we see them as our good friends.”

This can only be read as a criticism of contemporary Australian foreign policy with respect to China in general — and of Scott Morrison in particular. Just before the May 18 election, the Prime Minister was quoted as saying the US was a “friend” while referring to China as a “customer”.

Morrison’s position was a reasonable one. He was running the line developed by former prime minister John Howard — namely that Australia can have a good relationship with both ­nations without weakening our historical links with the US.

Morrison put it this way when asked about trade tensions between the US and China: “You don’t have to pick sides; you don’t have to walk away from the relationships that you have.”

Again a sensible point. China trades with Australia because it wants to purchase our high-quality goods and services at market prices within a legal system that works.

There was no reason for ­Andrews to sneer at the Prime Minister’s response. In any event, he would be advised to realise that many nations of the Indo-Pacific region are wary of embracing China — among others, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and India.

Foreign policy in Australia is the preserve of the commonwealth government; in particular, that of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Marise Payne. Yet Andrews regarded Beijing as a suitable base from which to criticise the Morrison government’s policy towards China.

If Andrews wants to determine foreign policy from government, there’s always the option of running for a seat in the commonwealth parliament. It’s impossible to imagine a provincial leader of the Communist Party of China criticising President Xi Jinping’s foreign policy while on an official visit to, say, Canberra.

It’s not as if Andrews is without reason for self-criticism back home. In July, Sky News ran a two-part documentary titled Lawyer X: The Untold Story. Last Monday, ABC television’s Four Corners followed up the story of Lawyer X (Nicola Gobbo) with a program ­titled Reprehensible Conduct. It’s the (now) familiar story, which Victoria Police tried to bury, about how it engaged Gobbo to spill the beans on many of the clients she was engaged to defend in her capacity as a defence counsel — thus perverting the course of justice.

Without question, this is one of the greatest scandals in Australian legal history. Certainly Victoria Police were attempting to end the gangland murders in Melbourne that ran from about 1999 to about 2010. But you can’t pervert the law to defend the law.

The matter is subject to investigation by the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants headed by the former Queensland chief justice Margaret McMurdo. It is expected that Victoria Police commissioner Graham Ashton, and Simon Overland (one of his predecessors) will give evidence. Both men held senior roles in Victoria Police at the time of what we now know to be the Lawyer X scandal.

And here’s the problem. Overland left the Victoria Police some time ago. However, Ashton currently heads the organisation that is under investigation by the royal commission. An extraordinary situation — with which Andrews is apparently content.

Interviewed on Four Corners, Gavin Silbert QC (a former Victorian chief prosecutor) said those in Victoria Police who knew of the Lawyer X affair “were guilty of terrible breaches of duty and extraordinarily unethical behaviour”. Silbert added that he was “absolutely surprised” that Ashton has “lasted so long” and that anyone in the Victoria Police hierarchy who sanctioned the Lawyer X operatives “should have gone” by now.

It would seem that Andrews is more focused on lecturing the Prime Minister on China than starting the task of reforming Victoria Police.


 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...

Why would Andrews want to reform the Victoria Police? He gets what he wants from them just as they are now.