Sunday, December 15, 2019

Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW accept complaint against Israel Folau

Israel Folau’s legal battles may not be over just yet after the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW accepted a complaint from a gay rights activist who has accused the former rugby star of “homosexuality vilification”.

Campaigner Garry Burns wrote to the board’s president in early December complaining about Folau’s infamous April Instagram post in which he warned hell awaits homosexuals.

Mr Burns also complained about the rugby player’s comments seen in a video sermon linking severe droughts and unprecedented bushfires to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in late 2017.

He wrote that Folau’s statements were “objectively capable of incitement of contempt and or hatred of homosexual persons on the ground of their homosexuality”.

The anti-discrimination board on Friday informed Mr Burns his complaint had been accepted under the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act.

Once a complaint is accepted it normally goes to conciliation. If that fails to resolve the matter it can be referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a legal decision.

Mr Burns in 2013 and 2014 had success at NCAT when the tribunal found a former Katter Party candidate had vilified homosexuals and ordered she publicly apologise.

But when Tess Corbett, a Victorian, didn’t retract her comments he couldn’t enforce the ruling because she wasn’t a NSW resident.

Mr Burns has set up a GoFundMe page to fight against the Sydney-based Folau.

Former leader of the Australian Labor Party Mark Latham believed the decision to accept the complaint sent a “chilling” precedent for all “religious preachers”.

In a lengthy spiel, Latham detailed how the ruling set a dangerous mark for the NSW Tribunal in relation to free speech.

“Section 49ZT of the Act has an exemption from ‘Homosexual vilification’ action for ‘religious instruction’, discussion, debate and ‘expositions of any act or matter’.

“The s49ZT exemption does not apply to Folau, apparently, meaning that an unelected NSW Govt tribunal is now in the business of re-interpreting The Bible in the case of a religious preacher.

“Mark Speakman must step in now and clean out the Anti-Discrim Board.

“During the SSM debate, we were told repeatedly no one would lose their freedom of speech to criticise gay marriage. This was a lie. “Folau has been dragged before a NSW tribunal for his belief that God disapproves of SSM laws.”


Australia cops hate at UN climate summit

Australia’s lax approach to climate change has been called out on the final day of the United Nations climate summit in Madrid.

Among other things, Australia has come under fire for resisting proposed future emissions targets and changes to carbon markets.

Escalating tensions, Costa Rica’s environment and energy minister Carlos Manuel Rodríguez outright blamed “Australia, Brazil and the US” for the stalemate.

“Some of the positions are totally unacceptable because they are inconsistent with the commitment and the spirit that we were able to agree upon (in Paris in 2015),” he said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres also warned of a global crisis unless big emitters such as Australia can meet demands. Australia’s reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita.

The summit comes on the heels of countless climate-related disasters across the planet, including unprecedented cyclones, deadly droughts and catastrophic fires.

Along with Costa Rica, Fiji officials have also extensively criticised Australia’s stance.

At the talks, vulnerable countries expressed outrage over Australia’s bid to hold onto piles of emissions vouchers left over from a now-discredited system under the Kyoto Protocol. That approach could potentially allow Australia to meet its climate commitments on paper, without actually reducing pollution.

While Britain, Germany, New Zealand and others have slammed the notion, Australia continues pushing to maintain the loophole.

Asked about Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent assertion that his country was part of the “Pacific family,” the Minister for Economy of Fiji responded that “when you have family members you also have some black sheep members too in the family.”

“At the moment, it would seem that they appear to be far from eating at the same table,” Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum told reporters in Madrid, adding that he hoped Australia would “let go of their current position.”

Small, low-lying islands like Fiji are particularly vulnerable to tropical storms and sea-level rise worsened by climate change.

Nations are also at odds over how the fight against climate change should be funded and how carbon trading schemes should be regulated.

In addition, there has been little progress over the issue of “loss and damage” – how countries already dealing with the worst impacts of climate-related extreme weather and drought should be compensated.

Amid growing calls for action to address climate change, the Prime Minister was forced to address it earlier this week. The recent release of the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index - which looks at national climate action internationally - deemed the Morrison government a “regressive force”, saying the re-elected Morrison government “has continued to worsen performance at both national and international levels”.

Asked about that report during a press conference, Mr Morrison said he “completely rejects” it. Asked to elaborate, he only said, “Because I don’t think it’s credible” before moving on to another question.


The drought shows vividly that Australia needs new dams

Ross Fitzgerald is pretty right below but he should do some reading on the Bradfield scheme.  Ross is no economist

Right now, the federal government is doing what it can to help struggling farmers and their communities with low-interest loans, income support payments and local infrastructure grants. These are important short-term palliatives but of course they don't address the problem of too little water.

At some stage, the drought will break, and when it does, in this land of "drought and flooding rain", chronic water shortage will almost certainly turn into temporary abundance. Australia doesn't have a shortage of water. We have a shortage of water management. This is what the Morrison govern-ment needs to tackle.

So far, the Coalition government has pushed on with the measures originally envisaged in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. There's been grants and loans for on-farm improvements to make existing water allocations go further, and there's been the welcome recent development in turning on the Adelaide desalination plant, so that South Australia needs less river water; leaving more for farmers and communities upstream.

But the Morrison government has also pushed ahead with water buybacks for environmental purposes, and now Water Minister David Littleproud is reportedly threatening even more of them.

The one thing the government has not been prepared to do is build more dams, even though this is the only way to secure much more water both for farmers and for the environment. Morrison must know that there's a problem. He would not otherwise have appointed former Northern Territory chief minister Shane Stone as the drought co-ordinator.

For most of the past year, Stone has been quietly but effectively managing the aftermath of the floods in western Queensland with tens of thousands of dead cattle and farmers traumatised by a succession of enduring natural disasters. Morrison is no doubt hoping that this can-do former politician (who has no time for the climate cult, who's not in awe of bureaucrats, and won't take any un-reasonable "no" for an answer), can take the heat off the National Party ministers whose feuding has made them so ineffectual.

While Stone can't make it rain, any more than anyone else, he might just have the combination of independence and political authority to tell the Prime Minister that the phobia about dams must end.

The NSW government is cautiously venturing down this path, with two proposals (that the federal government is quietly supporting) to increase the capacity of the existing Dungowan and Wyangala dams.

And the Queensland Coalition opposition has formally committed to a feasibility study of a modern version of the 1938
Bradfield scheme, originally conceived by the engineer responsible for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

This would be a tropical version of the Snowy Mountains scheme, damming coastal rivers and, through a series of tunnels, exploiting much of the water that would otherwise flow out to sea into Australia's western river system.

When the Howard government briefly flirted with the idea of damming a tributary of the Clarence, in northern NSW, to increase Brisbane's water supply, local reaction was a factor in losing the seat of Page. But that proposal was to send water to another state, not to tunnel water under the Great Dividing Range to help farmers at a time of the worst drought ever in northern NSW.

So there are at least two credible proposals that should be considered if the government is to ensure that the next drought has nothing like the adverse conse-quences of this one.

What ought to be crystal clear is that we can't continue to add to our population without any significant increase in our water storages. Indeed, increasing population is the elephant in the room. At a time that our population has increased by a third over the past 30 years, we've added less than 5 per cent to our water storage. And any ambition to be a food bowl to the emerging middle classes of Asia is obviously dependent on more water.

Morrison has done well presenting himself as the plain-speaking everyman of Australian politics. Not for him the economic reformism of Hawke, Howard or Keating. Yet even cautious, careful, pragmatic leaders are expected to solve major problems. Otherwise, what's the point of being in government?

At some stage, it won't be enough to point to the dangers of an unreconstructed Labor Party in order to keep winning elections.

The Morrison-led Coalition needs something visionary; and drought-proofing Australia could be just the ticket

From "The Australian" of 9/12/19

Not every little thing needs to be about the nation

Bring back real federalism

When did everything become a national problem? Not a problem for individuals and families, not a problem for communities and organisations, not a problem for state governments or local coun-cils — but a national problem.

I was reminded of this with the release of the Program for International Student Assessment results revealing that Australia ranks 16th for reading, 17th for science and 29th for mathematics. Over a decade, our students have fallen behind close to a full year in these subjects.

Responding to the news, Labor's education spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, declared it "a national problem, it needs a national approach and we need to make sure that we're working together to teach the basics well, lift entry standards into teaching, give schools the support they need".

This national approach thinking infects all sorts of areas. We have a national strategy for obesity and a national strategy for suicide prevention. The government recently created the very dubious position of National Skills Commissioner. The second Gonski report recommended a national teacher workforce strategy.

A recent report by the supposedly learned Academy of Science, titled Sustainable Cities and Regions: 10-Year Strategy to Enable Urban Systems Transformation, calls for a national vision for cities. (And don't waste your time reading it.)

Apparently, "sustainable transformation of Australia's cities and regions is being hampered by the lack of a national vision, institutional silos and perennial underfunding, and our best innovations and research break-throughs are not being shared across cities".

Last time I looked, our cities were all located wholly within either states or territories. So much for having a national vision. In any case, whose national vision? The vision of the deeply woke Academy of Science?

Economists have a framework for thinking about when a national approach is warranted and when it is not. To use the jargon, when there are significant inter-jurisdictional spillovers — meaning that what is done in one state has clear effects in other states — there is a strong case for a national approach. Otherwise solutions should be developed as close as possible to the action.

In this way, competition between the states is fostered and each can learn from the approaches others adopt. And the existence of interjurisdictional spillovers is not sufficient to justify a national approach. There are often means of handling these without a national approach. Using mutual recognition of skills and qualifications between the states is an example of this.

For several decades there has been a marked shift in the division of roles and responsibility between the federal and state governments, with the federal government winning out.

There have been some moments of hesitation. The Victorian government under premier John Brumby sought a mature discussion about the division of roles and responsibilities between the levels of government. Similarly, the then premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, was prepared to accommodate some clean reallocation of tasks between the levels of government

For a brief time, the Rudd government sought to rationalise federal-state relations, particularly in relation to intergovernmental agreements.

Once an avowed centralist; Tony Abbott as prime minister discovered the virtues of the federation and established a process to renegotiate the roles and responsibilities between the levels of government and the associated funding reforms. This was killed off when Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister.

The recently released discussion paper of the NSW Review of Federal Financial Relations includes some useful information on this. In 2008, the federal and state governments signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations.

This agreement was the acknowledgment that the states have the principal responsibility for service delivery — education and hospitals, in particular. As a result, the number of agreements between the federal and state governments was reduced from 90 to six national agreements and about 16 national partnership agreements.

The new arrangements did not last, however. By 2010, there were more than 300 intergovernmental agreements. The paper also notes: "In 2018-19, there were 30 national partnerships that provided NSW with less than $10 million in funding. 25 of these were less than $5 million in funding."

So effectively where we have ended up is the federal government interfering in many areas that were traditionally the states' preserve. The funding agreements bgtween the federal and state governments come with strict and onerous conditions on how the money can be spent while failing to provide any funding certainty.

A consequence of all this has been to enfeeble state governments, which have lost significant capacity to develop policy and delivery systems. Always keen to secure additional funding, they have been prepared to go along with the bossiness of Canberra while diluting their autonomy, notwithstanding their continuing responsibility to deliver the vast majority of government-funded human services. In the case of schools, for instance, the states own and run public schools and bear 80 per cent of their costs.

Apart from enjoying a sense of dominance and illusory control, it's not entirely clear why the federal government has sought to interfere so forcefully in the realm of state government activities. It almost goes without saying that unclear accountability leads to inferior results. And does anyone believe that the federal government — including thousands of
bureaucrats in the federal departments of education and health —really has any comparative advantage in devising effective and implementable policy approaches?

Education expert Ben Jensen has observed that for too long, education policy has been dominated by a series of highfalutin, worthy-sounding national reports without real attention being paid to what does and what does not work and adjusting the approaches used to the particular circumstances. One size does not fit all.

Underpinning these dysfunctional arrangements are the funding imbalances that exist between the levels of government. Economists use the arcane term vertical fiscal imbalance. With the states raising less than two-thirds of what they spend, there is a tendency of the fiscally dominant level of government to call the shots in some detail.

The way forward involves the states standing on their own feet to a greater extent when it comes to raising revenue and for the federal government to realise that more untied funding to the states is likely, on balance, to provide better outcomes than the plethora of detailed and unworkable commands.

The federal government may also come to appreciate that the appropriate absence of national approaches in many areas eliminates the blame game for outcomes it can't really control.

From "The Australian" of 9/12/19

 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...

Have to agree with Latham. Some arguments belong in the Public Square, not safe behind the battering ram of of bureaucracy.