Tuesday, August 04, 2020

'Quantum shift': Ambitious new targets to improve Indigenous lives

Targets are all very well but how are they going to be met?  Nobody knows. We have only vague generalities below and it has all been tried before.  The truth is that Aborigines have been going downhill ever since the missionaries were forced out

Even the missionaries could do only so much.  Aborigines have some eerie abilities at perception and memory but they have one of the lowest average IQs in the world, and it shows.  Their educational performance is disastrous and that is fatal

Ambitious targets to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians by lifting school attendance, employment rates and university enrolments while dramatically lowering the number of children in out-of-home care and behind bars will be unveiled on Thursday.

A new national agreement on Closing the Gap, which sets 16 new national socio-economic targets to track progress, will put community-controlled Indigenous organisations at the centre of efforts to redress inequality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the broader community.

The plan will commit federal, state and local governments and a coalition of 50 peak Indigenous organisations to a significant reduction in suicides as well as a pledge to reduce the Indigenous adult incarceration rate by at least 15 per cent among adults and at least 30 per cent among juveniles by 2031. It will also aim to dramatically reduce the number of Indigenous children in out-of-home care in the next decade.

After more than 10 years of failings in many of the key targets, new independent and state-based reporting of results will be put in place. This will include the Productivity Commission undertaking an independent three-yearly review on progress, complemented by an independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led review.

The agreement has been written in a collaborative process overseen by Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt and Pat Turner, convener of a coalition of 50 peak Indigenous organisations.

Mr Wyatt said the historic plan would for the first time bring shared responsibility and joint accountability to efforts by governments, councils and communities to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the results are not good enough as he releases the Closing the Gap report vowing to make changes.

He said the new agreement represented a "quantum shift" from a decade of failings.

"Every word has been considered and debated, every target has been considered and debated," Mr Wyatt said. "We know that the best outcomes are achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are equal partners with governments and when they have a direct say in how we are going to be successful in driving the desired outcomes."

The annual Closing the Gap report, released in February, showed a staggering failure to meet targets in improving levels of Indigenous childhood mortality, life expectancy, school attendance and employment.

The new agreement will focus on four priority reforms to change how governments work with Indigenous Australians, establishing formal partnerships and shared decision making, transforming government agencies, and improving and sharing access to data and information to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to make informed decisions.

Ms Turner said it would be the first time First Nations people would share decision making with governments on Closing the Gap.

"Our country has unforgivable gaps in the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians in all aspects of life including mortality, chronic disease, disability rates, housing security, education, employment and wealth," she said.

"These gaps have burdened our people and caused the erosion of health and well-being of generations of First Nations Australians. The national agreement represents a turning point in our country's efforts to close these gaps."

Federal and state governments agreed on draft targets in December 2018 for education, economic development and health as well as planning a new goal to reduce Indigenous incarceration within a decade.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the agreement was a new chapter. "The gaps we are now seeking to close are the gaps that have now been defined by the representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is as it should be," Mr Morrison said. "By focusing our efforts on these more specific, practical and shared objectives we can expect to make much greater progress.


New Zealand axes travel bubble plans with Australia

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says a trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia is now a “long way off”, given Australia’s new position in the fight against COVID-19.

After Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared a “state of disaster” including harsh new restrictions, Ms Ardern said the country was no longer in a position to be thinking about a corridor across the ditch.

Speaking on The AM Show on Monday, the New Zealand Prime Minister said it will likely be “several months” before a trans-Tasman bubble will even be considered, let alone put into practice between both nations given the number of coronavirus cases in Victoria.

“The trans-Tasman bubble, obviously not anytime soon,” the Prime Minister told The AM Show on Monday.

“One of the things that we set as part of our criteria, is anywhere where we have quarantine-free travel, they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time – 28 days. That is going to take a long time for Australia to get back to that place, so that will be on the backburner for some time.”

Previously, a trans-Tasman bubble between both nations had been tipped for an opening anywhere from July to August, but it is now likely that will be delayed by months.

“Their numbers at the moment are very high. Dan Andrews himself said they were looking like being in that position for months, which is why they’ve gone into the lockdown,” she said, noting an exact time frame of a trans-Tasman corridor was “very hard to predict”.

In an interview with Newshub last month, Ms Ardern said she was eyeing off a corridor with the Cook Islands, given its zero reported coronavirus cases and proximity to New Zealand. The conversation comes as soaring coronavirus case numbers continue in Melbourne and fresh outbreaks sweep parts of NSW.

“It’s clear to us that opening up with Realm countries, keeping in mind they are New Zealand passport holders, will come before any opening up with Australia,” Ms Ardern told Newshub.

The Cook Islands, with a population of just over 15,000, is one of the few countries in the world that has reported no COVID-19 cases during the pandemic.

Ms Ardern would not comment on a possible timeline for a travel bridge with the South Pacific nation but said New Zealand airports were already working on the logistics of allowing for the influx of travellers.


UNSW under fire for deleting social media posts critical of China over Hong Kong

The University of New South Wales is facing criticism over the deletion of social media posts seen to be critical of Beijing, after an online backlash and coverage by Chinese state media.

The official UNSW account on Friday tweeted an article that quoted Human Rights Watch's Australia director and adjunct law lecturer Elaine Pearson as saying: "Now is a pivotal moment to bring attention to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Hong Kong".

Several hours later, a further tweet was posted by UNSW reading: "The opinions expressed by our academics do not always represent the views of UNSW."

"We have a long & valued relationship with Greater China going back 60 years. "UNSW provides a welcome & inclusive environment & is proud to welcome students from over 100 countries."

Both tweets were later deleted.

The article posted to the UNSW Law website, entitled China needs international pressure to end Hong Kong wrongs, extensively quoted Ms Pearson.

Ms Pearson told the ABC the article was removed from the UNSW website on Saturday, but is now able to be accessed.

Chinese students reportedly wrote to the Chinese embassy calling for it to pressure the university into deleting the article and associated posts.

Ms Pearson said she was seeking clarification from UNSW about what happened.

"I did not write the article … I have my views on recent developments in Hong Kong and what the international community should do," Ms Pearson said.

"Clearly that hit a nerve for some pro-Chinese Communist Party supporters who aggressively and collectively pressured the university to remove the story."

The state-run Global Times tabloid reported that the tweet's deletion "failed to buy Chinese students" and that "they are still negotiating with the university, and demanding an apology for its twitter post".

"It's incredibly concerning to see an Australian university succumb to pressure to abandon their core values of academic freedom and free speech on campus," said Victorian Senator James Paterson in a statement. "UNSW is sadly just the latest example of how relationships with the Chinese Communist Party is compromising our universities.

Labor Senator Tony Sheldon tweeted: "How can @UNSW call itself a university if they allow this to happen? When respected voices like @PearsonElaine and @hrw are being censored we have a big problem."

"This is a genuinely harmful bit of imposed censorship — an entirely factual article about the dire situation in Hong Kong, removed for no good reason by @UNSW out of cowardice," tweeted deputy editor at Foreign Policy magazine, James Palmer.

"Should be a mini-PR disaster for them," he said.

In the article, Ms Pearson called the recent introduction of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong the "death-knell of the 'one country two systems' arrangement", referring to a system intended to give greater autonomy to the city after its governance was transferred from Britain to China in 1997.

Several teenagers were arrested in Hong Kong under the new laws last week.

"Safeguarding the human rights of Hong Kong citizens should not be something that should be controversial," she told the ABC.

Ms Pearson is a frequent critic of the Chinese Government's human rights record, including crackdowns on pro-democracy protests and the mass incarceration of Muslims in Xinjiang.

Ms Pearson said Human Rights Watch had documented threats to academic freedom in Australia resulting from Chinese Government pressure and "called on universities to ensure robust protection of academic freedom to deal with those threats".

Neither the Chinese embassy nor UNSW responded to the ABC's requests for comment.

The controversy comes amid deteriorating ties between Canberra and Beijing and reflects growing concern about the impact on academic freedom from Australian universities' heavy reliance on revenues from Chinese international student fees.

Students from mainland China account for almost a quarter of the UNSW cohort, numbering some 16,000 and representing a whopping 68.8 per cent of all international students, while the university has strong business and research ties to China.

University of Sydney sociologist Salvatore Babones has estimated that UNSW derives 22 per cent of revenue from Chinese international students' course fees.


More funding needed in government push to cut 'green tape': industry

Resource and agricultural industries are welcoming plans to cut "green tape" and speed up project development by handing control of some elements of national environment laws to state governments, but they say changes cannot come at the expense of wildlife protection.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley announced in July plans for a "one-touch" regime that transfers to states the Commonwealth's legal responsibilities for protecting threatened species and ecosystems in assessments of major projects that come under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Ms Ley has ruled out financial support to help the states conduct extra work under a new system. But she has said states would have to show they could meet the standards required under the act, which include assessing complicated, long-term impacts of activities such as land clearing, coal mining or sinking wells for gas production, and impacts on flora, fauna and the water table.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable welcomed the opportunity to speed project approvals and said the mining industry relied on a "strong social licence" and for environmental assessments "to be done properly".

"The single-touch system is a huge opportunity because it gets rid of duplication and complexity in different systems that exist between state and federal governments," Ms Constable said. "But the department or body that has carriage of compliance must have the right amount of resources."

Federal administration of the act has fallen short since it was created in 1999. The list of threatened species and ecosystems has grown by a third – from 1483 to 1974. More than 8 million hectares of threatened species' habitats have been cleared in that time, mostly for project development, but 93 per cent of these were not assessed under the legislation.

A report last month from the Commonwealth Auditor-General found the Environment Department failed to protect endangered wildlife or manage conflicts of interest in development approvals, and 79 per cent of approvals were non-compliant or contained errors.

National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said green tape was a "huge concern" for the farm sector, with uncertainty about different state and federal processing discouraging investment in activities that should be simply and quickly assessed, such as clearing regrowth of invasive species from a property.

"It is limiting innovation and expansion of farms. Put simply, people don't know what they can and can't do," Mr Mahar said.

He also called for more funding to bolster the system.

"Of course there needs to be more funding, for better engagement with industry about the act, and to make sure the regulations are working they way they were intended," Mr Mahar said.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association said the proposed changes could "improve certainty and flexibility for business, environmental groups and communities" and "provide greater flexibility when circumstances change while ensuring environmental protection is maintained".

The government's plans were announced in response a review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by former competition regulator Graeme Samuel, who found the national laws were “not fit to address current or future environmental challenges” and that for industry they are "ineffective and inefficient".

Last week Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his initial meeting with state leaders had been "really positive" and he was confident that negotiations with state governments would lead to agreement for a new regulatory regime.


 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...

I work with them every day. In the younger the indisputable low IQ has now been joined to an amplified sense of grievance which is slowly turning violent. They are basically being weaponized, and our main protection, the Police, are being disarmed through guilt and demoralisation. Things are going to deteriorate to a level never before seen, as in the US where it is already there. It is less the militant, politicised Blacks one should worry about, it is the everyday thug/criminal Blacks who are starting to sense the slipping of the leash.

Black people didn't cook this up themselves. Like Gays, they are too absorbed with their own self-importance to see the manipulative hand pushing them along.