Monday, April 06, 2020

For reference

Fantasy meets reality

Building industry shutdown would be devastating

Building employers and unions have warned the state government to expect economic devastation if the industry shuts down due to coronavirus.

In an unprecedented double act, Master Builders Victoria and the CFMEU have written to Premier Daniel Andrews pleading for construction to continue.

The industrial enemies also want state and federal governments to ensure that contractors are not punished with liquidated damages if projects are delayed due to the virus.

Last week, the City of Melbourne announced extended construction times for the inner city on weekdays and weekends to help compensate for social distancing measures on work sites. But the industry is clearly concerned it could be forced to shut down if government lockdowns are extended.

A group of industry associations and unions have co-operated to create a 20-page document of guidelines for employers and workers to deal with potential COVID-19 threats.

MBV chief executive Rebecca Casson and CFMEU state secretary John Setka have urged Mr Andrews to work inside the National Cabinet to ensure the building industry was kept open.

“We are firmly of the view that if our industry shuts down, the economic knock-on effects would be devastating on a scale that would dwarf what we have seen to date,” their letter said.

“As you will know, our industry accounts for 12.7 per cent of gross state product and 45 per cent of our state’s tax revenue (and we need you) to assist our economy now and to make sure it is ready to ramp up quickly as we hit recovery mode.”

Ms Casson and Mr Setka said social distancing on sites was slowing work down.


Beautiful One Day, Police State The Next

To control the spread of a dangerous virus that as yet has taken 24 lives in this country, 25 million Australians have been placed under indefinite house arrest, children’s playgrounds are locked and patrolled by security guards, and the police fly drones over beaches and parks.

To control a virus that as yet has infected 5000 Australians, the response of doctors and politicians to this serious health crisis was to create also a humanitarian and an economic crisis. In the years to come Australians will quite rightly question whether there could have been a better way.

Future generations will ask why the public was so quick to accept the opinions of those experts who presented the worst-case scenarios rather than listen to other experts, no less qualified to offer a judgment, but who suggested less draconian solutions than those that came to be implemented.

Those future generations will also ponder how in 2020 it was that so many Australians could have become so completely disengaged and removed from what happens in the economy that they could advocate policies that would have shut down practically all economic activity in the country.

This is the position of the Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, who said: “The government has a responsibility to deal with this health emergency. That is the first priority. Then, it needs to deal with the economic consequences of the health emergency and the appropriate response. It needs to be done in that order.”

Sadly, Albanese seems not to understand that the economic emergency Australia faces involves people’s lives in exactly the same way as does the health emergency.

Australians like to joke about how the country’s second-most populous state has become “The People’s Socialist Republic of Victoria”. But it is no laughing matter that in the space of just a few weeks Victoria became a police state, as its government made laws and then enforced those laws, in ways not very different from how the worst socialist regimes operate. The New South Wales government (‘liberal’ in name only) has been quick to follow Victoria’s lead.

Passed without scrutiny

In Victoria, the most extreme house arrest laws in the country were enacted without parliamentary authority and without any form of public or democratic scrutiny. They were simply made under an enabling act that allows the government do anything it “considers is reasonably necessary to protect public health”. Using this power, Victoria has enacted house arrest laws that are arbitrary, unpredictable, and that are changed, literally, hour by hour at the whim of politicians and bureaucrats.

On Wednesday morning the Victorian Premier declared that it was against the law for anyone to leave their home for any non-essential purpose, including couples who lived apart visiting each other. Just before 5pm that day, following a community backlash, the government announced couples would be exempt from the law.

Meanwhile, in New South Wales, police officers harass people sitting alone on park benches. In 1984, Big Brother at least allowed Winston Smith to go outside.

Jonathan Sumption, a former judge on the UK Supreme Court, gave an interview to the BBC on Monday in which he warned of the consequences of untrammelled power in the hands of politicians and the police. Everything he said applies to Australia. Of police operating in the UK in the same way as they are in Victoria and New South Wales, Sumption said: “That is what a police state is like. It’s a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes.”

It is significant that despite all the coverage it has devoted to the current crisis, the mainstream media in Australia has made no reference to the interview. It might be that the answer to Sumption’s question is too uncomfortable.

“Yes this is serious and yes it’s understandable that people cry out to the government,’’ Sumption said.

“But the real question is: Is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hard-working people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress…”


Exam shake-up to ensure year 12s not disadvantaged

Year 12 students could have their subject scores artificially boosted to reflect the disruption from coronavirus with the Victorian Government backing a plan that no student should repeat their final year.

State and territory ministers could rubberstamp the year 12 plan as early as Tuesday when they meet for the National Education Council amid concerns large numbers of students repeating their final year would clog up the system.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino is expected to back any federal push for year 12s not to repeat the year.

With travel restrictions hurting the tertiary sector, universities have pleaded with the government to ensure a new cohort of domestic students enrol in courses next year.

Parents and principals have raised concerns about the impact coronavirus will have on the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) results, which determine which courses students are accepted into.

Late last month, federal Education Minister Dan Tehan met state and territory counterparts to discuss the possibility of adjusting university admission processes to reflect the impact of the virus.

The Sunday Herald Sun understands the proposal has widespread support from the states and territories.

Under the plan, all students’ subject scores would be lifted by the same amount so top- performing students would still get top marks, even if they performed worse than students in previous years.

A similar system is now in place for students whose study is interrupted by ill health, allowing teachers to give an estimate based on year 11 results.

Education Minister Dan Tehan said he didn’t want year 12 students to miss out on starting university, vocational education or work next year.

“We want year 12 to go ahead and to get as many year 12s through, in whatever shape or form,” Mr Tehan said.


 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

No comments: