Thursday, September 03, 2020

Scott Morrison's plans to double the cost of arts degrees to $14,500 a year while slashing the price of maths and engineering qualifications face a huge setback

Morrison is coming down heavily on the utilitarian view of education but there is a big lobby for education as a general cultural grounding.

The cultural argument has some force but theory is poorly matched by experience these days.  Humanities courses distort our inherited culture if anything.  They are Left-wing madrasses rather than Athenian symposia.

In the circumstances the argument that taxpayer money should not be spent on Leftist indoctrination has much force.  Morrison is on the right track

The future of the Morrison government's university fee changes is uncertain after a vote in the Senate showed a lack of majority support for the idea.

The draft legislation, which also reduces the price of 'job-relevant' courses, was introduced to federal parliament last week and is being debated in the lower house.

While a Greens bid to have the bill referred to a committee for an inquiry failed in the Senate because of an even vote, if senators vote the same way for the draft laws they would fail.

Cross bench senators Jacqui Lambie, Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff sided with the Greens and Labor, leaving the committee vote tied.

Labor's education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek says the government is hiding from scrutiny by voting against an inquiry into the bill.

'Whenever there are tough questions to answer, the Liberals run from scrutiny,' she told AAP. 'If Scott Morrison thinks his plan to cut unis and jack up fees is so great, why is he trying to stop an inquiry? What has the prime minister got to hide?'

The proposed laws would more than double the cost of some humanities courses in a bid to encourage people to enrol in courses it argues lead to higher employability.

Science and maths would be among the degrees made cheaper, along with psychology, agriculture, environmental sciences and health.

Under the plans, nursing qualifications will cost just $3,700 per year while IT, science and engineering degrees will drop by $2,000 per year.

Meanwhile humanities degrees are expected to jump from $6,804 per year to $14,500. Teaching and nursing degrees are expected to drop by 45 per cent, while a law degree will cost 28 per cent more.


United Firefighters Union Queensland says not enough firefighters to reach hazard reduction target

The State Government looks set to miss a crucial bushfire mitigation target for the fifth year in a row amid concerns there aren’t enough firefighters to do the work.

The extraordinary revelation joins new warnings of “above normal fire potential” across the state between September and November.

The Courier-Mail can reveal of the 413 planned hazard reduction activities, which largely consists of controlled burns, about 274 were undertaken.

The Government also looks set to miss its target of 153 planned upgrades which includes fire break upgrades, as part of Operation Cool Burn, which typically extends from April to August.

And just 130 of 153 planned community education activities were undertaken.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said QFES continued to receive reports about recently completed activities, with the figures to rise.

It comes nine months after The Courier-Mail revealed the Government had failed to meet its targets for the previous four years.

United Firefighters Union Queensland general secretary John Oliver said according to experts, the window of opportunity to conduct the burns was shortening. “We don’t have enough firefighters to do that work,” he said.

Mr Oliver said there needed to be a systematic approach to hazard reduction burns across the state.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services officers undertake controlled burning across the state as part of Operation Cool Burn. In 2019, just 117 of the 168 planned burns were completed.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said QFES had worked harder than ever before to prepare Queensland for this year’s bushfire season. “2020 Operation Cool Burn means Queensland is well-positioned for the season,” he said.

“Favourable weather conditions have meant twice the number of hazard mitigation activities have already been completed compared to this time last year. “Those activities will continue as long as it is safe to do so.”

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington claimed it was hard to believe that after last year’s horrendous bushfires, the Government looked set to miss its own targets.

“The Palaszczuk Labor Government has no performance targets for holding government departments to account, which is why the LNP’s bushfire plan includes a commitment to complete 98 per cent of all planned hazard reduction activities,” she said.

Meanwhile, the government has finally begun rolling out more high-quality P3 respirator masks two years after promising to issue “thousands” to protect the health of rural fire brigades.

The Rural Fire Service has now issued 724 of the 800 masks it is delivering in 2020 to 59 brigades.

“Due to the pandemic, significant delays have been caused by increasing demand on mask suppliers and subsequent limited availability of stock, as well as limited sea transport options to ship items to Australia,” a spokesperson said.

Training and fitting for the masks was also impacted by COVID safe requirements.

Volunteer brigades have been asking for the masks, which filter 99.95 per cent of particles, since 2014.


Extraordinary expose of what Queensland doctors really think

Queensland doctors have little or no faith in the Queensland Government’s health system and only three per cent say the state’s patients are in good hands.

In an eye-opening expose, an Australian Medical Association Queensland survey of 677 doctors reveals medics fear that patients are at risk from misdiagnoses and medical accidents, some policies make no medical sense and doctors’ expertise and advice is being ignored.

AMAQ vice president Dr Bav Manoharan said it was important to gauge the views of doctors on the state of health before people went to the polls on October 31.

“I wish I could say that the results of this poll have surprised me but doctors have felt ignored and watched the erosion of services for some time now. This survey sends a clear message to all political parties contesting the next State election about what Queensland patients need and deserve,” he said.

“Doctors believe appointing people with frontline health experience to key policy making roles in the public system is the top solution to improving patient care, followed by increased funding for primary and preventive care.

“AMAQ is calling on all political parties to lay out their visions for health care for Queensland, so voters can make an informed decision at the ballot box.

“Every Queenslander deserve equal access to quality health care,” the vice president said.

Dr Manoharan said many doctors feared a rise in misdiagnoses and medical mishaps if the current public health system was allowed to continue.

“We are concerned at the level in which some health practitioners are working outside of their scope,” he said.

“Nurse endoscopists for example - this was a trial that began in 2000 and is common practice in some hospitals. “This kind of process was always carried out by a specialist or a general surgeon. “Nurses are not able to remove any suspicious lesions putting patients at risk back on the waiting list.”

Dr Chris Perry, the AMAQ chief, said doctors have advised the government of the risks of testing people for COVID in retail outlets, and the working pharmacists themselves are overwhelmingly opposed to the trial on safety grounds and yet it is going ahead.

“The trial is backed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia – a lobby group that represents a small number of wealthy pharmacy owners who benefit from increased traffic to their retail outlets – but it has been vehemently opposed by working pharmacists and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia which has called for an immediate stop to the trial,” he said.

“It shows the State Government is totally out of touch with community expectations about its role to protect people’s health and is blatantly ignoring sound medical advice,” he said.

Australian Medical Association Federal President Dr Omar Khorshid has supported Dr Perry’s concerns, writing to Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles to warn him that COVID testing in pharmacies “is dangerous and poses unacceptable risks” to staff, customers and the wider community.

Dr Perry called on the State Government to invest more in existing COVID testing centres, rather than contracting out the important health measure to commercial enterprise.

“Fully equipped testing locations already exist with trained staff. We need to boost the number of these services and ensure there’s adequate supply of PPE such as head coverings, face shields, masks and gowns rather than encourage sick people to wander through shopping centres and retail outlets,” Dr Perry said.

Dr Manoharan said that 60 per cent of doctors in the survey states that Queensland Health ignored their advice in favour of other solutions to patient care, while a further 38 per cent said they believed the State Government made some sound decisions, ‘though there are some policies that don’t make medical sense’.

“More than 90 per cent of doctors surveyed said the State Government trial allowing pharmacists to diagnose people with urinary tract infections (UTIs) and prescribe antibiotics placed patients at a medium to extremely high risk. Many also noted the trial contradicts national and global efforts to reduce antimicrobial resistance. Pharmacists handing out antibiotics for possible urinary symptoms which could be caused by pelvic cancers or bladder stones, fragment patient care and lead to poor health outcomes for Queenslanders,” the deputy president said.

On the whole, the survey found 38 per cent of doctors had little or no faith in the public health system while 45 per cent said they had some faith, but had noticed a decline in quality and services over the past decade.

A Queensland Health spokesman said the state “has one of the best health systems in the world.”

“And while we always welcome feedback that might help us continue to improve, we understand this survey had a small number of respondents and it’s difficult to see the results as an accurate reflection of our workplaces,” a Queensland Health spokesman said.

“If the doctors surveyed (677) were all in the public health system where there are just over 10,000 doctors, that is just 6.7 per cent of all our doctors.

“If the doctors surveyed include general practitioners, that percentage will be significantly lower.”


The effect of Australia's international travel ban has been devastating for some people

If you want to have a harrowing week at work, try appealing for and then reading through more than 500 emails and messages from people whose families and lives have been torn apart.

That's more than 500 tales of pain and heartbreak, more than 500 stories of separation and anxiety brought about by Australia's current travel bans, rules that no doubt had good intentions but seem so subjective and ridiculous now that they're properly examined.

These people wrote in response to a column published last week that questioned the strictness of Australia's current travel bans: right now Australian citizens are not allowed out of the country without an exemption approved by Border Force; no one is allowed in, either, without prior approval, and then only if they fit under a daily cap on numbers and can find an airfare that's reasonably priced. And these stories are the consequences.

Australians, unfortunately, need to get comfortable with this stuff. You as a citizen need to read these stories and accept that these are the necessary consequences of an incredibly tough regime enforced by your government. And if you can't get comfortable with it then you need to ask why this is being done in your name.

Because that's what is happening. This is being done for you, for your health, for your safety. Are you happy with that?

These are just a few of the stories I've been sent in the last seven days. I've left out literally hundreds that have just dealt in garden-variety pain, the people who can't see their children, their parents, their boyfriends or girlfriends, their fianc├ęs, their spouses, and have no idea why, or when they will again. Here, instead, are some of the most troubling:
Traveller Newsletter

    An Australian woman was living in Tanzania with her Tanzanian husband. She fell pregnant just before the COVID-19 pandemic and on government advice returned to Australia when it struck, while her husband stayed in Tanzania to work. As the seriousness of the pandemic increased, she applied for a visa for her husband to join her. After several months and plenty of hard work he was eventually granted that visa and he booked a flight to Australia. However, thanks to the cap on international arrivals he has now been bumped off his flights five times over several months. He missed the birth of his baby girl. He still hasn't seen her.
An Australian man's father died suddenly in India, leaving his elderly mother with no carer. The man can't leave his job in Australia as he is his household's sole earner. He has applied to have his mother come to join him in Australia so he can look after her – that application has been rejected.
An Australian man's wife returned to her family in Vietnam to have their first baby. She now can't get back to Australia, and he can't leave to get to Vietnam. He's never met his child. "There is no plan and no hope," he wrote. "I am utterly destroyed and my marriage is on a knife edge."
A flight attendant and Australian permanent resident who works between San Francisco and Sydney, and who has two children with disabilities, is allowed to quarantine at home in Sydney when she's on flight layovers, as she is considered an "essential worker". However, on her longer monthly breaks, NSW Health does not consider her essential, which means she would have to quarantine for a fortnight in a hotel at her own cost every month. Because of that ruling she now can't fly the Sydney route and is forced to base herself in San Francisco. She's not sure when she will be able to see her children for any reasonable length of time again.
An Australian permanent resident's wife went home to India to give birth to their first child, and can't get back into Australia because of visa issues and now flight availability, plus the couple can't afford the cost of hotel quarantine. The man hasn't even met his six-month-old child.
An Australian woman wanted to visit her 87-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia, in the UK. Her application was denied, in same week the Australian cricket team flew to England.
An Australian woman is married to a South African man. She returned to Australia at the beginning of the pandemic, and is now applying to have her husband join her here; however, the Department of Home Affairs won't process his visa application until he submits his biometrics in person at an Australian Visa Application Centre. The AVAC in South Africa has been closed since March 27. So, no biometrics, no application, no travel.
An Australian man has travelled to the UAE to restart his job there, but his wife and two children have been denied permission to leave Australia and join him. He's not sure when he'll see them again.

To reiterate, I'm not calling for open international borders. None of the people who have emailed me are, either. It's possible to recognise the seriousness of COVID-19 and the need for restrictions while also appealing for more compassion and common sense in the way those restrictions are enforced.

It's also possible to recognise that there are grey areas here, there are nuances that aren't taken into account by current rules. There are so many families and others whose circumstances fall outside of the "you should'a come home earlier" narrative, people with lives overseas, with jobs and families that prevented an immediate dash back to Australia, or an immediate departure home.

We're a nation of migrants living in a globalised world, where almost everyone has family or friends or partners living in another country. And what about those caught in similar situations because they can't even move from state to state? These people deserve sympathy. They deserve a smarter, fairer, better system.

This is the brutal cost of Australia's travel bans. I'm not comfortable with it. Are you?


The Green Road To Blackouts

Viv Forbes

California leads the way to electricity blackouts, closely followed by South Australia. They both created this problem by taxing, banning, delaying or demolishing reliable coal, nuclear, gas or hydro generators while subsidising and promoting unreliable electricity from the sickly green twins – solar and wind.

All supposed to solve a global warming crisis that exists only in academic computer models. Energy policy should be driven by proven reliability, efficiency and cost, not by green politics. Wind and solar will always be prone to blackouts for three reasons.

Firstly they are intermittent, producing zero power when winds drops or sunlight fails.

Secondly, green energy is dilute so the collection area must be huge. Both solar panels and wind turbines are old technologies and now close to collecting the maximum energy from a given land area of wind and sun, so limited technology gains are possible.

Wind turbines generate nothing from gentle breezes and must shut down in gales. To collect more energy the green twins must collect from greater areas using a widespread scatter of panels and towers connected by a fragile network of roads and transmission lines.

This expensive, extensive but flimsy system is far more susceptible to damage from cyclones, hail, snow, lightning, bushfire, flood and sabotage than a big, well-built, centrally-located, well-maintained traditional power station with strong walls, a roof and lightning protection. Green energy also requires far more investment in transmission lines and inter-connectors that consumers must pay for, and the energy transmission losses are greater.

Thirdly, green energy is like a virus in a distribution network. When the sun shines, solar energy floods the network, causing energy prices to plummet. Coal and gas plants are forced to operate at a cash loss or shut down. Erratic winds make this problem worse as they are less predictable and changes can be quicker.

But when all green energy fails suddenly, like in an evening peak demand period after a still cold sunset, coal cannot ramp up quickly unless it has been kept on standby with boilers hot, waiting for an opportunity to generate some positive cash flow. Gas and hydro can fire up swiftly but who wants to own/build/maintain an expensive fair-dinkum power station that operates intermittently?

Currently hydro, or stop-start gas turbines on standby, or coal generators fired up but not generating are keeping Australian lights on during green energy blackouts. But no one will build new reliable generators to operate part-time. Soon we will have day-time where there is heaps of electricity producing no profit for any generator, and night-time when electricity prices will soar and blackouts will threaten.

Authorities have their solution – rationing. They will use a blackout crisis to grab the power to dictate rolling blackouts of whole suburbs, areas or factories or selective consumer blackouts using smart meters.

Naturally Green “engineers” also have a solution – “More Big Batteries”.

There are many contestants in the battery growth “industry” including pumped hydro, lithium batteries, compressed air, big flywheels, hydrogen storage, capacitors and molten salt. They all need to be able to cope with a few days without wind-solar, which makes them huge and expensive. And all are net consumers of energy as they go through the charge/discharge cycle.

Half-tonne Li/Co/Pb batteries are huge consumers of energy – energy for exploring/mining/refining metals and for concrete, battery manufacture, transport and construction; energy to charge them and absorb the inevitable losses in the charge/discharge cycle; energy to build battery warehouses and finally energy to recycle/bury worn-out batteries (which wear out far quicker than coal, gas, hydro or nuclear power stations).

Few people consider the extra generating capacity needed to maintain charged batteries. Solar energy at best delivers power for about 8 hours per day when there is no cloud, smoke or dust in the air. So a solar array needs batteries with a capacity of twice name-plate capacity just to cover the hours of darkness, every day. These batteries then need extra generating capacity to charge them during daylight hours.

But a solar system also needs to be able to cope with up to 7 days of cloudy weather. This needs 7 times more batteries plus the generating capacity to charge them.

The Big Battery in South Australia has a capacity of 150 MW and cost $160m. East Coast demand these days is about 22,500 MW which would require 150 SA batteries and adding a 10% factor of safety = 165 batteries. The cost could be 165 X $160m = $26.4bn.

No matter whether the battery is stored hydrogen or pumped hydro, the cost to stabilise 100% green energy would be prohibitively expensive. Before we leap over this green cliff, those who claim otherwise must be obliged to demonstrate a working pilot plant without coal, gas or diesel.

Wind power suffers the same problems but is far less predictable. Wind droughts are a common feature. At times wind turbines drain electricity from the grid.

To maintain grid stability, the generators must charge batteries which can then supply a steady stream of electricity to the grid. This requires many more transmission lines and battery connections.

At this point the maths/costs of zero-emissions with 100% solar/wind become preposterous. And the ecological disruption becomes enormous.

When Danish windmills stand silent, they import hydro power from Scandinavia. When German solar panels are covered in snow, they import nuclear electricity from France. And California can draw power from Canada.

But Australia is an island. When the grid fails, Tasmanian hydro or New Zealand geo-thermal are the closest reliable-energy neighbours.

The looming Covid Depression has no room for more green energy silliness. We cannot afford to mollycoddle an aging failing technology. A hard dangerous new world is coming. To survive we will need cheap reliable energy – coal, gas, nuclear or hydro.


 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 didn't actually know there were Nurse Endoscopists. It must be a capital city hospital thing. It kind of makes sense to an extent if its just about surveillance and diagnostics. I think his point is that when a Doctor is in there with the scope they can clip incidental polyps they may see while the nurse can't do that as its medical treatment (and he's quite right there). The simple workaround is for the Doctor to be available to call on during procedure days were the nurse to spot something needing action. There are a hell of a lot of scopes needing doing in this era of heavily advertised preventative care, and the Doctors are simply too few in number to keep up with demand for screening, which is probably why this has been extended to specialist nursing. One of the main reasons Nurses are (with regulatory approval) encroaching into what was once billable territory reserved for Doctors is numbers, sheer numbers.