Thursday, November 12, 2020

Morrison government shuts down proposal to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait flags in parliament during important week for indigenous culture

Leftist racism again. They want to divide us according to race, in this case Aboriginal race. Why does race matter? Many aborigines do quite well. Why can we not celebrate them instead of moaning about others? We all have burdens to bear. By all means help people with problems but why not do that regardless of race?

Senator Thorpe is a strange spokesperson for Aborigines. She bears an Old English surname and has no Aboriginal appearance other than a light tan. Her aboriginal ancestry is clearly minimal. She is just a complainer. She would use her energies more usefully by raising children well.

The Morrison government has blocked a push to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in federal parliament's Senate chamber.

Three Indigenous senators moved a motion to coincide with NAIDOC Week to have the flags hoisted on the floor of the upper house.

Labor's Malarndirri McCarthy and Pat Dodson, along with Greens senator Lidia Thorpe wanted them raised alongside the Australian flag.

But coalition senators opposed the move, narrowly defeating the motion 29 to 28 votes.

Cabinet minister Anne Ruston said there were many other circumstances to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. 'The government believes the Australian national flag, which represents all Australians, is the only appropriate flag to be flown in the Senate chamber,' she told parliament.

The coalition then denied Senator McCarthy a chance to make a short statement on the issue, angering Labor frontbencher Murray Watt. 'This is NAIDOC Week. To deny a First Nations senator leave to speak for one minute on this motion is I think something the government will regret,' he said.

The government then relented, allowing Senator McCarthy and Senator Thorpe a chance to speak. 'Thank you so very much for allowing black people to speak about the black flag,' Senator Thorpe said.

Senator McCarthy said NAIDOC Week was a chance to show Australia politicians could unite the country. 'The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are also national flags,' she said.

Senator Thorpe said she wasn't sure where other senators had come from, but her people had been in Australia for thousands of generations. 'Can I remind you all that we are on stolen land? The Aboriginal flag represents the oldest continuing living culture in the world,' she said.

'The Aboriginal flag is what we identify with, what we connect with, just as you connect with the colonial flag that you love and you appeal to.'

'We are ONE and free': Gladys Berejiklian says the national anthem SHOULD be changed as a sign of respect for Indigenous Australians

It is certainly absurd to say that Australians are all young so I supppose "one" is an improvement. But in what way we are "one" is pretty elusive

The New South Wales Premier has called for a national conversation around changing the lyrics to Advance Australia Fair.

A campaign is gaining momentum to scrap the national anthem as the State of Origin heads into round two on Wednesday night.

The Recognition in Anthem Project wants the lyrics in the first verse changed from 'we are young and free' to 'we are one and free'.

Gladys Berejiklian said the national anthem should be changed as a sign of respect for indigenous Australians.

'I love our national anthem. I get goose bumps every time I hear it sung or played, but think one word change will make such a difference,' Ms Berejiklian told the Daily Telegraph.

She said the change would 'acknowledge our proud Indigenous history'.

'We're all Australian and we all need to come together, no matter our background and heritage, that's what makes Australia and NSW what it is,' she said.

The premier recalled singing the national anthem when she was a little girl at school. But she said back then they would sing 'Australia's sons let us rejoice' instead of 'Australians all let us rejoice.'

Ms Berejiklian acknowledged a minor change could make a big difference for the Indigenous community. 'I'm so proud of our first nations people and our Indigenous players - I don't want them to feel they aren't included. Dignity and respect goes a long way,' she said.

She pointed to Armenian heritage and acknowledged how difficult it was to feel injustice.

Blues players Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Cody Walker refused to sing the anthem during Round One of last year's State of Origin. They were joined in another boycott last Wednesday by Maroon outside back Dane Gagai.

The premier said a national conversation should be held inviting the Indigneous community to have their say.

The NRL was left red-faced after backflipping on a decision to scrap the anthem at game one of State of Origin in Adelaide last Wednesday. The decision was spurred by public backlash including from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

But some commentators, including 2GB's Ben Fordham agreed with the recommendation to alter the lyrics. 'This is a step we can and should take and I think the time is now,' Fordham said. 'I'm going to change starting tonight and I invite anyone else to join me.'

'When the national anthem plays before the Origin I will be singing it loud and proud, but in that opening verse I'll be singing 'Australians all let us rejoice for we are one and free.''

National sporting events have typically been at the forefront of debate around changing the national anthem. Earlier this year in February at the Indigenous All-Stars NRL game between Australia and New Zealand - the national anthems were scrapped in favour of traditional dances.

Star Latrell Mitchell was reportedly a driving force behind the anthem being conspicuously absent - with the 23-year-old refusing to take part in singing the song before the previous year's event.

Social media was impressed with the ceremonial dances and lit up with comments praising the move. 'The emotion was absolutely spectacular,' one person said. 'This beats any anthems hands down,' another added.

However, Advance Australia Fair is also held fondly by vast amount of the population with calls to scrap the song entirely met with consistent outcry.

Joe Biden’s Green New Deal is a setback for Australia too

Last week’s was America’s most important election, but it also has profound implications for Australia. The Green New Deal is what most distinguishes the Democrats’ program from that of President Donald Trump.

As Jennifer Oriel has noted, Kamala Harris and ­Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez plan to use energy policy not only to fundamentally reshape the American economy but as a means of redistributing wealth and income to “low-income communities, indigenous peoples, and communities of colour”.

With the Green New Deal, the Democrats’ policy target is ­focused on zero net emissions of CO2. This means eliminating coal and gas and sharply winding back oil consumption. Nuclear power as an alternative has no place.

The day after the 2020 election, having given a year’s notice, the US formally left the Paris Agreement on climate change. Under the Paris Agreement — largely developed by the Obama administration — Australia committed to reduce its CO2 emissions by some 28 per cent as did other developed countries.

Trump renounced it because its provisions would raise energy costs, disadvantaging the US economy, especially in the context of China and other developing countries having no meaningful abatement obligations.

Joe Biden will re-join and pursue policies that include funding developing countries’ abatements, banning fracking for new gas supplies, requiring costly carbon abatement on gas and coal power stations, and a carbon tax.

The Democrats and political elites elsewhere, including Australia, generally support measures to address climate change. Those in politics and the bureaucracy (Trump’s swamp dwellers) believe the version of the science that has human-induced CO2 emissions bringing catastrophic warming of the atmosphere, with costs that include loss of wildlife and increased climatic emergencies.

Burning carbon previously stored in fossil fuels has brought carbon dioxide emissions that have caused a 1C increase in temperatures. But some scientists (controversially) believe this will be magnified two to four fold ­because CO2 will create more water vapour.

Of the 32 climate models monitored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, only the one produced by the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Numerical Mathematics, does not feature water vapour amplification from CO2.

*Significantly, this “outlier” is the only model that has not overshot actual global temperatures in its forecasts*

Motivation for the Green New Deal also echoes 40 years of claims that renewable energy is the future and should be supported. This finds favour with many in business (and agriculture) who actually or potentially receive the subsidies. The subsidies to wind and solar in the US, like Australia, already cover half their cost.

US CO2 emissions have fallen recently, largely due to gas replacing coal in power generation. ­Additional regulatory measures will be required to approach the deep cuts targeted by the Green New Deal.

A carbon tax is one of the Biden strategies. Many economists also favour this because of its claimed neutrality in bringing about emission reductions.

Australia under the Gillard government is one of the few governments to have introduced such a measure. But Gillard’s carbon tax, like measures contemplated by Biden, was not a neutral alternative to other regulations and taxes. Rather, it was in addition to other taxes and regulations designed to reduce emissions, especially by supporting renewable energy.

Recent analysis for New Zealand estimate that a carbon tax of $560 per tonne is needed to bring about net zero emissions (the Australian tax was $20 per tonne).

Australia’s projected 28 per cent reduction in emissions falls well short of cuts now contemplated by the EU and America’s Democrats. Australian policy of paring back emissions is being met largely by a forced substitution of coal by renewables, driven by subsidies and selective taxes and regulatory measures. These are estimated to bring annual costs in higher electricity charges and taxes of about $13bn a year.

The coming lower costs of renewables continue to miscarry. Moreover, their unreliability demands enormous investments. These include more than $17bn to transform the Snowy and Tasmanian hydro resources into back-up facilities. They also mean vast expenditures on batteries and new transmission lines, as foreshadowed in NSW’s recent electricity infrastructure road map.

Governments claim renewable energy policies will reduce prices, but experience disproves it. As a result of such policies Australia has have slipped from leading the world on low energy prices to being among the most expensive.

The Biden victory will bring increased pressure on us to introduce more regulations, subsidies and other measures to reduce domestic emissions. One upshot, aside from higher household electricity bills, will be closure or contraction of Australian industries previously benefiting from low cost energy. A corollary is lower living standards.

Tutors could become a fixture of NSW schools to close education gap

An ambitious plan to hire thousands of tutors to bring students up to speed after the COVID-19 shutdown could become a fixture of the NSW public school system if it succeeds in narrowing the education gap.

The $337 million, 12-month scheme, which will be funded in next week’s state budget, will equate to an average of $130,000 and 1700 tutoring hours per school.

The Department of Education will consult teachers and use the results of school assessments such as the check-in tests held this year and NAPLAN in 2021 to determine which schools and students need most help.

Retired teachers, casuals and university education students can apply for about 5500 tutoring jobs from this week, and will be paid according to their experience.

Learning gaps were already significant before the pandemic, and have long been one of the biggest challenges facing schools. By year 3, disadvantaged students are 10 months behind those from advantaged backgrounds.

But modelling suggests the gap may have widened by up to five weeks due to seven weeks of remote learning earlier this year.

When asked if the program could continue after its allocated 12 months if it succeeded in reducing the gap, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said she would be closely monitoring its effectiveness.

“We have record funding going into our schools, there’s opportunity to look at how that money is being spent," she said. “If this is something that is successful that we could look at tailoring with existing funding arrangements then absolutely we’re open to having that discussion.”

After NAPLAN was cancelled this year, three quarters of public schools participated in check-in assessments for years 3, 5 and 9. After positive feedback, the Department of Education will create more assessments for different years.

That data, plus consultation with teachers and principals, would help the department decide how to distribute resources, Ms Mitchell said.

“We’ll look at the size of the school, and we'll also look at the need of the school - what the data shows us in terms of where the gap is in the learning and how much extra support is needed to catch up,” she said.

“We’ll give some flexibility to school communities to how they roll this out. We know small group tutoring is proven to be very effective. It might take place within the classroom setting supporting the teacher, it might take place before or after school.”

The plan - which has also been adopted by Victoria - was first proposed by the Grattan Institute in June, after its modelling showed the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students in NSW grew by six per cent due to COVID-19.

Students 'need $1.1 billion to close remote-learning gap'
The institute’s school education fellow, Julie Sonnemann, said research had found that intensive tuition in groups of between two and five, held three to four times a week over 12 weeks, could increase student learning by five months.

She said NSW's tutoring funding should be focused on core learning areas such as literacy and numeracy, and give priority to students who are in transition grades such as kindergarten, year seven, and years 11 and 12 .

Dr Sonnemann also said tutors should be required to use teaching methods with a strong evidence base. “This is a great opportunity to understand what works, to help students experiencing disadvantage catch up, and, longer term, to tackle the much bigger equity issues we’ve struggled with,” she said.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get an understanding of how to close the equity gap.”

The NSW Teachers Federation, which called for extra teacher hours to help the COVID-19 recovery, welcomed the plan. “We will work with the government to ensure the most effective implementation,” said president Angelo Gavrielatos.

Craig Petersen from the Secondary Principals Council said he was yet to see detail, but “in principle, it’s got the potential to be enormously helpful.”

Mr Petersen said the check-in assessment showed literacy and numeracy may require attention, and schools might need to pay particular attention to students beginning year 11 to ensure they have mastered concepts they need for the HSC.

“I think it needs to be as flexible as possible within some guidelines so we can ensure we are getting our best value for money from what is a significant investment,” he said.

Ten per cent of the funding will be directed to non-government schools in greatest need. The head of Catholic Schools NSW, Dallas McInerney, estimated about half of Catholic schools would qualify for funding.

"Its encouraging that there’s policy responses which are going to buffer the effect [of COVID-19] on NSW students," he said.




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