Thursday, December 31, 2020

The revolutionary green technology using old car tyres to make steel that could spell the end of Australia's coal exports

This is a big laugh. The cost problem is acknowledged but there are many other difficulties.

Biggest of all is that electric arc furnaces are big users of electricity and that current has to be delivered in a stable way. So where will they get all that electricity? From coal-fired power stations, almost certainly. So they are still using coal to make steel but in a more complicated way!

Also amusing is that the newspaper's copy reader does not know the difference between an ark and an arc. Noah's arc would be amusing

The heating up of old car tyres to make steel could one day spell the end of coal - threatening one of Australia's key exports to China.

University of New South Wales engineering and science professor Veena Sahajwalla has pioneered world-first 'green steel' technology where hydrogen and solid carbon are extracted from waste rubber to make metal.

The former judge on the ABC's New Inventors show told Daily Mail Australia her innovation, also known as Polymer Injection Technology, had the potential to one day make metallurgical coal redundant.

'Oh, absolutely. Absolutely,' she said. 'We are certainly looking at a future where the dependency on coal for steel making is completely eliminated.

What is green steel technology?

Green steel technology involves extracting hydrogen and carbon from waste tyres to make metal

This method, also known as Polymer Injection Technology, relies on an electric ark furnace instead of a traditional blast furnace powered by coking coal

'So the goal very much is to say that we want to get to zero coal and coke in the process of making steel.'

China, Australia's biggest trading partner, last year bought $10billion worth of Australia's metallurgical coal exports and it still relies on old-fashioned blast furnaces that are heavily dependent on this fossil fuel.

'It's basically asking the question: "Where will the tipping point be for many countries like China and others?",' Professor Sahajwalla said.

Most of the world's existing steel production involves heating coking coal in a blast furnace at 1,000C, but green steel technology is about phasing this out and replacing it with a new method of making liquid steel.

'A traditional blast furnace will always have coke not just from a heat point of view but coke also provides a structure - it is a solid product that sits inside a furnace,' Professor Sahajwalla said.

'The traditional coke that is used as a source in a furnace, we're talking about replacing that coke with, of course, waste tyres.

'The science shows that it works.'

A smaller proportion of steel production involves electric ark furnace which uses high-current electric arcs to melt scrap steel and convert it into liquid steel.

Green steel production relies on this method to turn rubber tyres into metal.

Newcastle mining materials supplier Molycop, a former division of Arrium, uses green steel technology to make replacement metal wheels for Waratah trains servicing Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, and Wollongong.

Michael Parker, the company's president, said its manufacturing, combining coking coal and oil with crumbed tyre rubber and the use of renewable solar energy - to power an electric ark furnace - produced 80 per cent less carbon emissions than traditional steel making.

The green steel method, for now, has significantly reduced the need for coal in steel production but is has not completely eliminated it.

'This polymer injection technology allows us to substitute probably about half of that with crumbed rubber,' Mr Parker told Daily Mail Australia.

'Use the carbon and hydrogen out of waste tyres to replace virgin, raw materials.'

As part of the green steel production, tyres are put into a high-temperature electric ark furnace to extract hydrogen so iron oxide can be turned into iron as part of a chemical transformation. 'It's the rubber that contains all these other elements,' Professor Sahajwalla said.

'It's the tyres that give you these other molecules like hydrogen which then participates in the reaction and that's what allows us to convert the iron oxide into iron which is what becomes steel.'

The finished product sold to customers depends on added alloys and additives.

Though rubber tyres can replace the need for coking coal, a lot of the success of green steel will also rely on recycling existing scrap metal.

Mr Parker said waste metal was unexpectedly in short supply. 'There's not enough scrap steel in the world to replace the demand for new steel,' he said.

British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta hopes to use renewable energy and scrap metal recycling to turn the old Whyalla steelworks in South Australia into a major supplier of new green steel.

He has a long-term plan to phase out old-fashioned blast furnaces and replace them with electric ark furnaces.

His GFG Alliance bought Arrium, which previously owned Molycop, before American private equity group American Industrial Partners rescued it in 2017.

Professor Sahajwalla said green steel was slowly replacing coking coal. 'Ultimately, the goal is full replacement,' she said. 'Are we already on that journey? The short answer's yes.'

Unlike coking coal, tyres can also produce hydrogen, which can be turned into gas or a liquid.

Nonetheless, Mr Parker conceded green steel production, involving an electric ark furnace instead of a traditional blast furnace, was still a costlier method of making steel than coal or iron ore-derived methods.

'The issue is the cost of producing hydrogen through electrolysis is very high so there's got to be some breakthrough technically to get it down to a cost where you can afford to use hydrogen to make or produce iron ore to go into something like an electric ark furnace,' he said.

Making steel out of old tyres at least solves the problem of landfill. 'It's about being clever, let's use it in a way that maximises value from this waste,' Professor Sahajwalla said.

The highly anticipated Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in Britain - and millions of doses are expected to land in Australia in just two months

The Australian Government invested more than $3billion through agreements for four separate Covid-19 vaccines to be rolled out, with Mr Hunt predicting all Australians will receive the jab by the end of October.

'The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is progressing well both in terms of results and in terms of its passage through the UK, US and European processes.

'First, it's not just on track, but we are hopeful that we will have both domestic production and international import ahead of schedule. And I think that's reassuring, reaffirming, and an important point of hope.'

The health minister said the data from the final assessments of the vaccine by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) were expected in late January or early February.

Fifty million doses of the jab will be produced onshore by biotech company, CSL.

Australia has also secured 10million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which is expected to be rolled out in March, going first to aged care residents and health workers.

The Novavax vaccine is also expected to hit Australian shores around May next year.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which has been described as a 'game changer', was given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency . The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine - enough to vaccinate 50 million people.

The United Kingdom was the first country to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has a lower cost and is easier to store than other vaccines that have already been approved.

The vaccine – called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 – uses a harmless, weakened version of a common virus which causes a cold in chimpanzees.

Researchers have already used this technology to produce vaccines against a number of pathogens including flu and Zika.

The virus is genetically modified so that it is impossible for it to reproduce in humans and cause infection.

Scientists have transferred the genetic instructions for coronavirus's specific 'spike protein' – which it needs to invade cells – to the vaccine.

When the vaccine enters cells inside the body, it uses this genetic code to force the body's own cells to produce the surface spike protein of the coronavirus.

This induces an immune response because it makes those cells look like the virus, which effectively works as a training aid for the immune system to learn how to fight the virus if the real thing gets into the body.

Health secretary Matt Hancock hailed the approval of the critical vaccine on Wednesday saying it means the UK will be 'out' of the coronavirus crisis by the Spring

AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot said deliveries would start tomorrow, adding: 'Vaccination will start next week and we will get to one million a week and beyond that very rapidly. We can go to two million.'

The Oxford vaccine is the second vaccine that has been given the green light for public roll-out after the Pfizer vaccine - which has also been approved in the US. The UK was the first country in the world to approve the vaccine for public use.

Studies have shown that the vaccine has an average efficacy rate of 70 percent, with this number rising to 90 percent when half a dose was followed by a full dose.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which has been described as a 'game changer', was given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: 'The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine for use.

'This follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.'

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford trial, said: 'The regulator's assessment that this is a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment, and an endorsement of the huge effort from a devoted international team of researchers and our dedicated trial participants.

'Though this is just the beginning, we will start to get ahead of the pandemic, protect health and economies when the vulnerable are vaccinated everywhere, as many as possible as soon possible.'

Data published in The Lancet medical journal in early December showed the vaccine was 62 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 among a group of 4,440 people given two standard doses of the vaccine when compared with 4,455 people given a placebo drug.

Of 1,367 people given a half first dose of the vaccine followed by a full second dose, there was 90 percent protection against Covid-19 when compared with a control group of 1,374 people.

The overall Lancet data, which was peer-reviewed, set out full results from clinical trials of more than 20,000 people.

Among the people given the placebo drug, 10 were admitted to hospital with coronavirus, including two with severe Covid which resulted in one death. But among those receiving the vaccine, there were no hospital admissions or severe cases.

The half dose followed by a full dose regime came about as a result of an accidental dosing error.

However, the MHRA was made aware of what happened and clinical trials for the vaccine were allowed to continue.

The overall Lancet data, which was peer-reviewed, set out full results from clinical trials of more than 20,000 people.

Among the people given the placebo drug, 10 were admitted to hospital with coronavirus, including two with severe Covid which resulted in one death. But among those receiving the vaccine, there were no hospital admissions or severe cases.

The half dose followed by a full dose regime came about as a result of an accidental dosing error.

However, the MHRA was made aware of what happened and clinical trials for the vaccine were allowed to continue.

Does it differ from Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine?

Yes. The jabs from Pfizer and Moderna use messenger RNA (mRNA) to trigger immunity to Covid-19.

Conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of the virus, but mRNAs use only the virus’s genetic code.

An mRNA vaccine is injected into the body where it enters cells and tells them to create antigens.

These antigens are recognised by the immune system and prepare it to fight coronavirus.

No actual virus is needed to create an mRNA vaccine. This means the rate at which the vaccine can be produced is accelerated.

What about antibodies and T-cells?

The Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines have been shown to provoke both an antibody and T-cell response.

Antibodies are proteins that bind to the body’s foreign invaders and tell the immune system it needs to take action.

T-cells are a type of white blood cell which hunt down infected cells in the body and destroy them.

Nearly all effective vaccines induce both an antibody and a T-cell response.

A study on the AstraZeneca vaccine found that levels of T-cells peaked 14 days after vaccination, while antibody levels peaked after 28 days.

Boost for Aussie business as China calls for broken relationship with Australia to be fixed as 'early as possible'

They are the ones hurting now, with widespread electricity shortages etc

Trade and political hostilities between Australia and China could be on the mend after relations between the nations escalated into a bitter year-long $20billion war.

China's foreign minister Wang Yi has indicated he wants relations repaired 'as early as possible' - but added the ball is in Australia's court.

Antagonism rapidly escalated after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic from its source in the Chinese city of Wuhan back in April.

China responded by slapping tariffs on Australian wine and barley, adding sanctions on beef, wheat, timber, cotton, lamb, coal and lobster.

Mr Wang hinted at a possible truce at a recent live-streamed private event, where he was asked by former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd whether a practical way of re-stabilisation relations could be accommodated.

In a transcript obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Wang conceded improving relations would be difficult if Australia continues to see China as a threat.

'If Australia sees China not as a threat, but a partner, then for the issues between us there are better chances that we find solutions. So I would kick the ball to Australia,' he said.

'We hope that the relationship can come back to the right track as early as possible and we would welcome efforts by all who want the relations to improve to make some efforts.'

Mr Wang also expressed concern about the 'largely negative' views about China in Australia.

His comments come days after Australia made an official complaint to the World Trade Organisation to investigate the 80 per cent barley tariff imposed by Beijing.

Australian wine also incurred 212 per cent import taxes in November, following months of trade intimidation against beef, lobster, timber, lamb and even coal exporters.

ANU's National Security Colleges head Rory Medcalf described Mr Wang's comments 'at best mild and conditional'.

'There's no admission that China bears any fault in the deterioration in ties, or even acknowledgement that it is using ongoing coercive measures – economic restrictions or hostage diplomacy – against countries like Australia and Canada,' he told the publication.

Australia wheat exports poised to deliver $6b windfall

Australian grain is flying off farms regardless of China’s trade sanctions, and wheat shipments alone are set to hit 4 million tonnes in December.

A whopper wheat crop, now predicted to be Australia’s biggest ever, could reap $6 billion in export earnings as grain flows back into traditional and rarely accessed markets.

While a flotilla of coal-carrying vessels sits in limbo off China, the action will be non-stop at Australia’s grain port terminals well into 2021.

Australian grain is being helped by doubts about supply out of Russia, where the government is trying to control domestic inflation by slapping a $US25 a tonne tax on grain exports.

GrainCorp port terminals that gathered cobwebs last year are now booked solid through to August-September.

It is a similar story for the operators of port terminals from Newcastle in NSW all the way around Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia as shipping slots are gobbled up by hungry grain traders and marketers.

The export program includes about 1 million tonnes of wheat bound for China over the coming weeks.

It is understood some grain traders, particularly multinationals operating in Australia, did not support the Morrison government’s decision to appeal against China’s 80.5 per cent barley tariffs to the World Trade Organisation.

Nearly all have refused to endorse Australia’s WTO appeal out of concern about reprisals, despite most farmers supporting the move.

Grain industry experts are tipping the harvest will wind down to produce 34-35 million tonnes of wheat and about 13 million tonnes of barley.

If so, it will be the biggest wheat crop Australia has grown and the second biggest barley crop. It also puts Australia on track to export about 22 million tonnes of wheat and 7 million tonnes of barley by September 30.

CBH marketing and trading boss Jason Craig said Australia was exporting from nearly all ports, something it had not done since 2016-17. He said it was price competitive into most overseas markets.

“We are going to places, East Africa for example, where we haven’t been since 2016-17,” he said.

“There has been strong selling and Australia is very competitive in the marketplace for wheat, barley and canola.
“People are covering their requirements as supply out of the Black Sea has been a little uncertain and that is encouraging people to come back to Australia.

“In particular you are seeing south-east Asia returning to Australian grain as their base. We would expect that for the majority of next year.”

Wheat sales into Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea are strong and the Middle East has emerged as the biggest buyer of barley in the absence of China.

There is also the prospect of stronger wheat prices for Australian farmers as Russia is set to impose its tax from February through to at least June. The benchmark wheat price at Kwinana in WA has already climbed from $300 a tonne on December 9 to $315 a tonne following the doubts about Russian exports.

Egypt bought wheat this week at a higher price than its last tender after no Russian wheat was offered for sale.

Emerald Grain chief executive David Johnson said there was strong demand for Australian wheat and barley across markets in Asia, the Middle East and the east coast of Africa. “The shipping stem [port terminal capacity bookings] in Australia is being populated very rapidly,” he said. “It is good for everyone. The cupboard was bare coming into this season after two years of well-below-average production.




Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Australian culture denied by obsession with cancel culture

Tony Abbott

With public spending on an unprecedented scale and previously unimaginable restrictions on our daily lives, 2020 hasn’t been a great year for “small government conservatives”.

But with “pandemic pragmatism” tempering the instinct for lower spending and greater freedom, there’s now scope to focus on the other main element in the conservative creed: namely love of country and appreciation of our history.

And there’s more need for that too, as the Australia that emerges from the pandemic will not only have more debt and bigger government. As things stand, it’s likely to be less self-confident about what holds us together as a nation.

The pandemic has coincided with a renewed assault on our history as fundamentally racist, and requiring atonement, even though Australia had become a magnet to migrants, eventually from all over the world, even while it was still a penal colony.

It can’t have been lost on anyone concerned about political correctness and the cancel culture that police in Victoria failed to make a single arrest when 10,000 people marched for Black Lives Matter, but made 400 arrests at a much smaller protest against ongoing health restrictions.

Yet almost nothing was made of this double standard – partly because the leaders who would normally notice it were preoccupied with the pandemic and trying to make a national cabinet work.

As well as habituating people to accept restrictions on freedom and massive government spending “for our own good”, the pandemic seems to have accelerated the elevation of opinion over fact and how we feel about things over what actually happened.

We know that Aboriginal people had inhabited Australia for tens of thousands of years prior to British settlement. Post 1788, their society was disrupted and their population devastated, mostly by disease, occasionally by violence.

They weren’t always given a vote, didn’t usually get the same wage and didn’t often get the same justice.

But we also know that Captain James Cook appreciated the qualities of the Aboriginal people he found; that the British government enjoined Governor Arthur Phillip to “live in amity” with the native people; that Phillip refrained from vindictiveness or punitive measures as a matter of policy, even after he had himself been speared at Manly; and that white men were hanged for the murder of blacks as early as the 1830s after the Myall Creek massacre.

We also know that massive efforts have been made to give Aboriginal people a better life, first by missionaries and later by government.

It’s true that Aboriginal people are hugely over-represented in our gaols, even now. But that’s because they’re heavily over-represented in our courts and crime statistics; as are all people, regardless of background, who don’t finish school, don’t have jobs and live in dysfunctional households.

At least as much as some belated measure of recognition in the Constitution, Aboriginal people need to go to school and to take jobs at the same rate as other Australians, for reconciliation to be complete.

In the end, cancel culture is not about correcting a particular injustice or righting a particular historical wrong. It denies moral legitimacy to the whole Australian project, just as it also does in the United States and Britain.

You can argue that things could have been done better and that more must be done now; but it’s hard to maintain that British settlement should not have happened; or that, on balance, it wasn’t a golden moment in human history.

On balance, it was a blessing that the British settled Australia. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary Portuguese, Spanish or French governor declaring, as Phillip did, that there could be “no slavery in a free land”.

Even in those days, it was the Royal Navy that was doing its best to extirpate the West African slave trade to the Americas.

There are now calls for a pandemic-triggered “great reset” from the globalist establishment. This won’t just mean entrenching bigger government and higher spending.

Inevitably, it will also involve a new push to fundamentally rethink institutions that have stood the test of time.

In Australia, this always translates into agitation to change our flag and to remove the crown from our constitution.

Yet it’s dead wrong to see only the flag of another country (albeit our founder) within our own, rather than the crosses of St Patrick, St Andrew and St George representing our Christian heritage; or to neglect the symbolism of the Southern Cross with its significance to indigenous people.

It’s wrong to focus on a “foreign monarch” when that crown – and the ideals of duty and service that we have assimilated – has been with us every step of our journey as a nation.

Besides, it’s vandalism to demolish anything when there’s nothing better to replace it; and it’s arrogance in any one generation to think that its collective wisdom wholly surpasses that of every predecessor.

Our response to the Black Lives Matter protests was too apologetic.

Instead of looking the other way while their statues were graffitied, we should have resolved to end the neglect of people like Cook and Phillip because, without them, there would have been no Australia.

Cook was a scientist and a humanist, as well as one of the greatest explorers in all history.

Phillip didn’t so much found a penal colony as begin a nation; whose freedom, fairness and prosperity quickly became the envy of the Earth.

Instead of empathising with the would-be statue toppers, there should be a renewed emphasis on the wondrous legacy of the English-speaking version of Western Civilisation: including the world’s common language, the industrial revolution, the mother of parliaments, and the emancipation of minorities.

That perspective is at least as worthy of permeating the national curriculum as the currently-ordained indigenous, sustainability, and Asian ones.

And if there are too many statues to by-gone imperial potentates, let’s add a few more to those who should be Australian icons. To Sir John Monash, for instance, the Jewish citizen-soldier, hailed as “the most resourceful general in the British Army”, who broke the stalemate on the Western Front and helped to deliver victory in the Great War.

And to Lord Florey, the inventor of penicillin, that’s saved literally hundreds of millions of lives.

And if there’s too many “dead white males”, let’s enlarge our history, not rewrite it and be less blinkered about those who have made a difference.

People like Neville Bonner, for instance, the first Indigenous member of the Australian parliament; and Dame Enid Lyons, our first female cabinet minister. Neither of whom, as yet, seem to have statues in their honour.

The pandemic will pass. What should never pass is respect for the people and the institutions that have made modern Australia.

The economy will never be unimportant; because there can be no community without an economy to sustain it.

But post-pandemic, conservatives are likely to be patriots first and economic reformers second.

The coming campaign admonition might as well be “society, stupid”; because one thing the pandemic has helped to clarify is the new fault line in politics: not between those who want bigger and those who want smaller government, but between those who are proud of their country and those who can’t help wanting to remake it.

Of course, those with a preference for freedom and a concern for lasting prosperity still have to “fight the good fight” but also to focus even more on the one main element of conservatism that’s not in temporary eclipse.

Namely love of country, with all that involves: respect for our institutions, pride in our history and faith in our future.

Australia's Joint Strike Fighters declared ready for deployment after passing trials

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has declared its multi-billion-dollar fleet of Joint Strike Fighters is ready for deployment, two years after the first F-35As were delivered from the United States.

Since 2018, the controversial stealth fighters have been "rigorously tested" by the Defence Department which has now determined they have reached "initial operating capability" (IOC).

So far, Australia has accepted 30 of the Lockheed Martin designed aircraft but will eventually acquire 72 Joint Strike Fighters from the US at a cost of $17 billion.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has welcomed the IOC milestone, describing F-35A as critical to the Australian Defence Force.

"The fifth-generation F-35A, along with the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, is key to our air combat capability and critical to achieving the objectives set out in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update to Shape, Deter and Respond," Ms Reynolds said.

"The Australian Defence Force now has an F-35A squadron ready to conduct technologically advanced strike and air combat roles, and another squadron dedicated to providing world-class training here in Australia."

Two F-35A Joint Strike Fighters in a hangar.
The total cost of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighters is $17 billion.(ABC Newcastle: Ben Millington)
Defence claims the F-35A boasts the world's most advanced air combat technology, allowing it to gather more information and share it with other aircraft, Navy ships and Army units quicker than ever before.

The RAAF now has more than 40 qualified F-35A pilots and 220 maintainers trained on the F-35A.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said 50 Australian companies had so far shared in $2.7 billion in contracts to help build the JSF for various partner nations across the globe.

"Australia will continue to work with the United States F-35 Joint Program Office and our industry partners as more aircraft are delivered through to 2023, and a mature capability is achieved," Ms Price said.

Australia first signed up to the controversial JSF program in 2002, and successive federal governments have faced criticisms for delays and cost blowouts on the multi-billion-dollar project.

La Trobe University aims to improve reading teaching in education degrees

Learning to read isn't as easy as learning to talk, because it is not an innate ability — it has to be taught. At least, that's the battle cry of phonics advocates on one side of the 'reading wars'.

If you turn the debate book over, you'll find other literacy experts who disagree and believe that reading is a natural ability.

But with student literacy levels falling across all states last year, both sides concede that it is time for a rethink on how trainee teachers are being instructed to teach Australian children to read — because they are clearly struggling.

The La Trobe University's new Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) Lab, co-founded by professor of cognitive psychology Pamela Snow, aims to fill what it sees as a crucial curriculum gap in tertiary education degrees.

The lab aims to give teachers the knowledge needed to teach 'systematic synthetic phonics' more comprehensively in Australian primary schools.

Sometimes referred to simply as 'phonics' or 'structured literacy instruction', the method stems from The Simple View of Reading, a scientific theoretical framework from the 1980s developed by psychologists Philip Gough and William Tunmer.

"The simple view of reading tells us that in order to get meaning out of text, you've got to be able to crack the code," Professor Snow said. "So you've got to recognize that the squiggles on the page — they are print representations of speech sounds, so there is a code."

Professor Snow's first short course at the lab in September attracted more than 800 participants — mostly teachers from around the country who had heard about the method online or from fellow teachers.

"What we hear repeatedly from teachers when we talk about the simple view of reading is — 'I've never heard of this'," she said. "So that's a really good example of high-quality cognitive psychology research that I think is like the family china that belongs to teachers, but isn't being given to teachers."

The basic premise is that children are most likely to become successful readers when they are explicitly taught how to break words down into letter sounds and word parts, and use their understanding of those parts to comprehend the meaning and sound out unfamiliar words.

In the early years, the focus is on attaching individual letters to sounds. Later on, children learn about word parts and their meanings.

Professor Snow said there were many scientific and psychological studies supporting the efficacy of structured literacy instruction, especially with young children.

She said that on the other side of the so-called 'reading wars' was an approach called 'whole language'. "So, [the thinking is] we don't specifically teach children how to talk, so therefore we should not need to specifically teach them how to read, we'll just immerse them in lots of text and they'll somehow intuit the process of reading," Professor Snow said.

Professor Snow said more recently a method called 'balanced literacy' had come into favour, which aimed to strike a balanced between different methods including synthetic phonics and whole language.

Still a divisive issue

Melbourne-based Year 1 teacher Troy Wood said he was shocked by how divisive the issue was when he became an early-childhood educator several years ago. "I didn't know about this debate until a couple of years ago," Mr Wood said.

Professor Snow said she agreed systematic synthetic phonics shouldn't be the only method taught, but it should be more of a focus than it was now.

And despite its opponents, phonics is being adopted increasingly in government policy, albeit slowly and carefully.

Last year, the Federal Government launched a free voluntary phonics health check for Year 1 students, citing a report that found phonics "to be the most effective way of teaching children to read words accurately and fluently".
a woman in glasses at a press conference

The South Australian Government recently reported that it had experienced a lift in Year 1 literacy levels after introducing a phonics check in 2018.

And just last week, the NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell wrote an opinion piece declaring that phonics had "won the reading wars", and that from next year, phonics would be compulsory for every Year 1 class in the state.

"Study after study shows that if phonics is not taught properly, student outcomes suffer across the board," Ms Mitchell wrote.




Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A non-Aborigine?

The media are quick to call admirable people Aborigines even when they are to all appearances white. So how come the guy below was not identified as an Aborigine? He is in fact a fairly typical urban Aborigine. Urban Aborigines do typically have some white ancestry.

The Left-led media try their best to create a picture that it the opposite of reality. One wonders if that does any of the good that is presunmably intended. Can any good come from a blatant lie?

A man has been charged with murder after allegedly stabbing his girlfriend's father to death in front of his family on Christmas Eve.

Garth Michael Reid is accused of killing Warren Toby, 53, just before midnight on Friday in the front garden of a home in North Ipswich, south-west of Brisbane.

The 33-year-old allegedly used a 'sharp implement' to stab the man multiple times as horrified family members watched on.

Police said the group were drinking before an argument broke out and spilled onto the street.

Paramedics desperately tried to resuscitate Mr Toby but he could not be revived.

Reid, who was in a relationship with the alleged victim's 30-year-old daughter, was arrested at 5pm the following day at his home in Woodgate.

He was charged with murder, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and wilful damage.

Reid did not apply for bail and will appear in Ipswich Magistrates Court on February 3.

Shocking moment a man finds a HUGE five-foot-long python balancing on his garden fence

No big deal. I found one inside my house a month ago

The five-foot-long carpet python was spotted enjoying the sunshine in the backyard of a home in Newcastle, New South Wales this week.

The homeowner recorded the moment he stumbled upon the giant serpent and posted the footage to Reddit. 'Yep, Aussie summer is in full swing,' the caption read.

Push for radical shift in hotel quarantine system from city hotels to country areas

Professor Patrick McGorry, a leading psychiatrist in youth mental health and 2010 Australian of the Year, is among those calling for more support to be offered to travellers in hotel quarantine.

Among Professor McGorry's suggestions is to radically change the hotel quarantine system by moving it away from CBD hotels.

"It might be convenient because these hotels are empty but in the past, quarantine stations were placed remote from major population centres," he said.

"Prior to the 1950s, tuberculosis sanatoria were often placed in quite pleasant rural surroundings so you did have space, you did actually have rest and a sort of sense of calm and serenity.

"I don't know if enough thought's gone into that on this occasion."

Professor McGorry said the change would be beneficial for more than just those in quarantine.

"If there is a leakage or there are incidents or spread [of the virus] out of the quarantine location, if it's a more isolated setting or a smaller population base … the risk to the general public surely would be a lot less," he said.

Opposition spokesman Tony Krsticevic said the Liberal Party was calling for an independent inquiry into the state's preparedness to deal with the coronavirus.

He said a key consideration should be alternative forms of quarantine, including facilities in rural areas or hotels with balconies.

"We know that when people go into quarantine, into lockdown, some of them are going to struggle and we need to understand the experiences that they're going through," Mr Krsticevic said on Monday. "We should have alternatives for those who can't cope and for those who have mental health issues."

At the same time, WA's Health Incident Coordinator, Robyn Lawrence, said people in the hotels had been receiving appropriate mental health support.

"Through the health and wellbeing teams and a very dedicated mental health team for those with more serious mental health issues, we've been able to support more than 20,000 international travellers safely through hotel quarantine to return to their families and friends," she said.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) WA President Andrew Miller echoed calls for the system to be overhauled, saying it was "critical to our future success in 2021". "You can't just assume [people are] going to be OK if you stick them in a hotel room and ask them to stay there," he said.

Allowing for fresh air or trips outside were at the top of his wishlist, but Dr Miller said abandoning hotel quarantine entirely should be considered for some international arrivals.

"There may well be situations in which it's entirely appropriate for international arrivals to be … looked after at home or at another residence away from hotel quarantine."

Divorce courts clogged with case backlog: Pauline Hanson demands judges lose long holidays

Divorce courts are clogged with a year-long backlog of cases, as highly-paid judges enjoy up to 10 weeks’ holidays while postponing court hearings until 2022.

One Nation senator Pauline Hanson demanded that judges be stripped of their generous perks, with holidays cut back to the four or five weeks a year granted to ordinary Australian workers.

“The courts are overworked and have got a backlog of 20,000 cases,’’ she told News Corp Australia. “Cases are taking months, if not a couple of years, to be heard.

“Judges’ entitlements are excessive and I don’t think judges should be appointed for life or ‘til they’re 70. “They get burnt out, and close to retirement they go on stress leave and sick leave.’’

Senator Hanson is deputy chair of a federal parliamentary inquiry into family law, which has revealed that some children have been caught in seven-year custody battles.

Divorce disputes are heard in two courts – the Family Court, which fielded a five-year high of 21,054 applications in 2019/2020, or the Federal Circuit Court (FCC), which received 85,563 family law cases, including 45,886 divorce applications the same year.

The 33 Family Court judges, who hear the most complex disputes, are paid a base salary of $468,020 plus 15 per cent superannuation and a car allowance – with eight weeks’ holidays.

The 68 FCC judges are paid $394,980 plus superannuation and a car allowance, with six weeks’ holidays and the ability to “purchase’’ a bonus four weeks’ leave through salary sacrifice – giving them up to 10 weeks’ holiday each year.

Judicial salaries were frozen this year after the Remuneration Tribunal knocked back a pay rise due to the COVID-19 recession.

Law Council of Australia president Pauline Wright yesterday warned that some separated couples were waiting three years for a judgment.

She said the Family Court had a backlog of at least a year’s worth of cases.

Ms Wright said some hearings scheduled for 2020 had been cancelled by email and postponed due to the pandemic – with some final hearing dates set for 2022 at the earliest.

“Even before COVID-19, some families were having to wait up to three years, some longer, to have their matters resolved,’’ Ms Wright said.

“The sheer workload, coupled with too few judges to carry it out, is creating delays, leaving families and children in limbo and often at risk while waiting for their matter to be heard.’’

Internal court data provided to the parliamentary inquiry last month reveals that two out of three FCC judges are juggling more than 300 matters on their dockets.

One unnamed Brisbane judge was dealing with 659 cases, while another had more than 500. A judge in Melbourne and another in Adelaide also had more than 500 cases. A Wollongong judge had more than 600 cases and nationally 21 judges were dealing with more than 400 cases each.

In regional courts, some judges were hearing 60 cases a day.

The Family Court has a backlog of 6720 cases – including 2586 lodged more than a year ago, and 1508 cases at least two years old, the latest Productivity Commission data reveals.

The FCC has 50,791 family law cases in its queue, including 12,834 more than a year old.

Its judges have been swamped with immigration cases since COVID-19 border closures this year.

The inquiry’s chairman, Kevin Andrews, said the most pressing issues raised by evidence to the inquiry were “the cost of family law proceedings, the delays in the system, and the seeming unenforceabilty of orders.”

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter yesterday vowed to press ahead with plans to merge the two courts next year.

“This is an area in need of urgent reform to improve the system for all those involved, most especially for families who should be able to rely on the courts to help them resolve matters at the end of a relationship as quickly, efficiently and at as low cost as possible,’’ he said.

Ms Wright said lawyers opposed the merger and wanted a stand-alone federal law court instead, with more specialised judges to fast-track cases and extra training to deal with cases of domestic violence.

Mr Porter said the Morrison government would spend $140 million on family law over the next four years, including funding for another judge, five more registrars and extra support staff for courts.

“There is little point in pushing more funding into a failed structure and additional funding needs to attach to structural reform of the courts,’’ he said.

Interest rate collapse saves home buyers thousands but hits savers

Saving for your retirement is a mug's game now

The pandemic recession will end up delivering savings worth tens of thousands of dollars to the nation's home buyers due to a collapse in mortgage interest rates, but will also cruel the savings plans of millions more.

Data compiled by Canstar reveals the extent of the drop in mortgage rates through 2020 that will deliver ongoing benefits to those buying new or refinancing their existing home loan.

At the start of the year a person with a $300,000, 25-year mortgage faced an average variable mortgage rate of 3.73 per cent. The monthly repayments on such a loan were $1539 and over the life of the mortgage the buyer would repay $461,739.

By year's end, the average interest rate on a $300,000 mortgage had fallen to 3.32 per cent. The monthly repayment is $1473 with the buyer repaying $441,920 over the life of the mortgage.

The savings have been even bigger for those able to sniff out the lowest mortgage rates on the market. At the start of the year, the best rate was 2.69 per cent which meant monthly repayments of $1375. The best rate now is 1.99 per cent with a monthly repayment of $1280.

The Reserve Bank has signalled it is not expecting to increase official interest for at least 3 years.

Canstar group executive of financial services Steve Mickenbecker said bargain hunters with good credit levels had done exceptionally well, with the lowest rate in the market 1.77 per cent for a loan-to-value ratio of up to 60 per cent. "Home loan rate cuts have been one piece of good news for borrowers in 2020," he said.

There has been strong growth in fixed rate mortgages this year as buyers seek to lock-in record low rates. The average rate on a three-year fixed mortgage has fallen from 3.15 per cent to 2.3 per cent, a difference of $130 a month or more than $39,000 over the life of the loan. The best three-year fixed rate is 1.89 per cent, down from 2.69 per cent at the start of the year.

"Much of the interest rate action has been in fixed rates, with five-year fixed rates down as low as 1.99 per cent and two-year rates starting from 1.88 per cent. Even the big banks have joined the fixed rate frenzy, with rates as low as 1.99 per cent for four years," Mr Mickenbecker said.

Low rates are expected to be the norm for coming years. The Reserve Bank has signalled it is not expecting to increase official interest for at least three years.

It's been a much tougher year, interest-wise, for people with money. As banks have cut their mortgage rates, they've also slashed their savings rates.

Canstar recorded 529 cuts to savings rates across the year, split between regular accounts and bonus savings accounts.

The average regular saving rate was 1.12 per cent at the start of the year but it is now just 0.43 per cent. For a person with $10,000 in their account, the drop in interest equates to a $740 in compound savings over a decade. The current inflation rate is 0.7 per cent, meaning a person holding cash is going backwards in real terms.

The average bonus savings rate, which are often introductory rates, have fallen from 1.47 per cent 0.75 per cent.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said record low mortgage rates, coupled with government home-buyer incentives, income support measures and bank payment holidays, were boosting home prices at present.

How Australia navigated an economic jolt not seen for a century
But high unemployment, the collapse in immigration numbers and weak rental markets were weighing on inner city areas and units in Sydney and Melbourne.

Those with money were likely to be disappointed with their savings performances. "Cash and bank deposits are likely to provide very poor returns, given the ultra-low cash rate of just 0.1 per cent," he said.




Monday, December 28, 2020

Six Tasmanian Aborigines killed unlawfully in 1827

The killer was a livestock handler so it seems probable that the Aborigines came to attention for cattle stealing, a grave offence in those days

It is important to note that the killing was illegal -- not part of any official policy. It would in fact have been prosecuted if it became known. So it was no evidence of the "genocide" that some Leftist historians assert. It is in fact evidence against that

A soldier's diary disintegrating in Ireland's national library has revealed disturbing evidence of an undocumented massacre of Aboriginal people in Tasmania in the colony's early years.

The diary belonged to Private Robert McNally, posted to Van Diemen's Land in the 1820s, and records in gritty detail colonial life and encounters with settlers and a notorious bushranger.

But it's his account of his part in the cover up a massacre of men and women on March 21, 1827, near Campbell Town in the Northern Midlands, that stunned University of Tasmania history professor Pam Sharpe.

Searching the National Library of Ireland catalogue for documents about settlers, Professor Sharpe found a note referring to "two volumes in bad condition" of a soldier's writings.

Unearthed, the diaries were identified as the work of McNally, an Irishman who served in Ireland, India, Sydney and Van Diemen's Land, Professor Sharpe told ABC Radio Hobart.

Professor Sharpe said she approached the find with low expectations, but that soon changed when she got her hands on the first of two notebooks. "I didn't hold out much hope that it would be interesting, but I opened it and it was absolutely fascinating," she said.

What she read prompted Professor Sharpe to divert her research funding to have the handwritten entries digitised. Efforts are underway to conserve what remains of a second McNally volume in poor condition.

"It is extremely unusual, very valuable, and completely worth diverting my research to investigate because some of these things aren't on the record about Van Diemen's Land," Professor Sharpe said.

She said the diaries recounted McNally's time with the infantry from 1815 to 1836. "He gets to Van Diemen's Land around about the time that Governor [George] Arthur comes — 1825. He's here for three years," Professor Sharpe said.

"The critical thing is that it's the only diary of an ordinary soldier that anyone has found for colonial Australia."

Professor Sharpe said she was disturbed to read McNally's account of the aftermath of a deadly confrontation between a livestock handler named Shaw and local Indigenous people on the Sutherland Estate.

"McNally doesn't actually see any Aboriginal people for the first few months, but then he is involved in some alarming episodes," she said.

"He was called to [the scene of] a massacre that my researchers and I can't find any other evidence of."

McNally wrote:

"A man of the name of Shaw came to me with information that he had killed six of the natives, two of which was woman.

"I advised him to say no more about it but keep it as a secret as he would be called to an account before a justice. He took me to the place where I saw him make a bonfire of these bodies."

A lot of violence perpetrated against Aboriginal people happened in remote areas of Van Diemen's Land and many incidents were not recorded, Professor Sharpe said.

"It is horrific, absolutely awful, but unfortunately it is probably the story of what happened to a lot of Aboriginal people in the 1820s," she said

The University of Newcastle's Professor Lyndall Ryan, who created an online map of massacres in Australia, said there were lots of massacres that never came to light.

"Most of them were carried out in secret. If you were caught, you would be hanged," Professor Ryan said.

'Colonials hid massacres'

Heather Sculthorpe, chief executive of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, said any new information would need to be substantiated.

"It will be exciting if there is new information, but we do need it to be historically verified," she said.

"There has been a lot of work done on the history of Tasmania, but of course there is more to be found.

"The way that colonials would have written about massacres would have been hidden."

Professor Sharpe said she had only had four hours to examine the McNally diary before returning home to Hobart. She hadn't even seen the second volume, because it was covered in mould and deemed too fragile.

But the research continues.

"After a lot of effort, and the involvement of the Irish ambassador to Australia, the National Library of Ireland is now conserving [the second volume]," Professor Sharpe said.

"It is undergoing an enormous restoration process in the Marsh's Library in Dublin, where they're experts on 18th century paper conservation."

According to his diary, McNally witnessed another famous event in Tasmania's history.

Matthew Brady was known as the "gentleman bushranger" and one of his most audacious actions was the capture of the entire township of Sorell, near Hobart, in November 1825.

His "gentlemanly" attributes included rarely robbing women and fine manners while stealing from men.

"To start with [McNally is] chasing Matthew Brady, who more or less held the whole island to ransom," Professor Sharpe said.

"I mean, Brady and his gang are running rampant.

"Robert is part of the military force trying to capture him and they have an eyeball-to-eyeball encounter at Sorell jail and Brady gets away yet again.

"That's quite a famous episode, so it's just fantastic to have a very close and detailed account of this."

Immense drinking and women trouble

Professor Sharpe said the McNally diary also documented the minutiae of colonial life.

"There is a lot of everyday detail, including what they wore, what they do all the time and all the drinking they do, which is immense," she said.

"He recounts his liaisons with women. We have a lot of quite explicit detail of his affairs, which I hadn't expected of an early 19th century journal.

"He really struggles with forming relationships with women."

Signs of authenticity
Professor Sharpe said McNally was born in the 1790s and died in 1874 in Ireland.

She said she had strong indications the diary was McNally's own work and not that of an amanuensis, or person employed to take dictation or copy other people's experiences, which was common at the time.

She said the library conservator had established the diary was very early 19th century handmade paper.

"We've been able to fact check against military records, newspaper reports and so far, Robert McNally is where he says he is," Professor Sharpe said.

"We know that writers of military memoirs sometimes put themselves into the spotlight, as Albert Facey did in A Fortunate Life when he gives a description of the beginning of Gallipoli, when we know he wasn't there.

"In the McNally diaries there is quite a famous incident in Ireland called the Churchtown Burnings and Robert says he is nearby but not actually there.

"This gives us confidence that, when he gives himself a central role in the Sorell jail hold-up by Matthew Brady a few years later, he was actually there, and he did what he describes."

Robert Hogan is working as a research assistant on the diaries, and has found Private McNally's service record in the British National Archives.

"The information he gives in the journal is consistent with military history," Mr Hogan said.

"I found that he joined the 96th Regiment in 1816 and when they disbanded in 1818 he moved immediately to join the 40th Regiment.

"His length of service in each place is consistent with what he says in his diaries."

WA doctors call for more 'humane' quarantine with access to fresh air after woman flees

Doctors in Western Australia have called for a more “humane” quarantine system with access to fresh air after a woman who described her experience as “traumatic” fled hotel quarantine and was later found by police.

Jenny Maree D’ubios hadn’t completed mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving from overseas when she absconded on Saturday morning. WA police found her overnight at Rockingham hospital, south-west of Perth. She has been charged with failing to comply with a direction under the Emergency Management Act.

WA’s acting premier, Roger Cook, said D’ubios, who described her quarantine experience as “traumatic” on social media, had since returned a negative Covid-19 test result.

D’ubios on Facebook said she wanted a “non-toxic safe place to quarantine”, while also making several conspiracy theory claims.

The Australian Medical Association’s WA president, Dr Andrew Miller, said the hotel quarantine system needed to be more “humane”, with fresh air available to prevent people from trying to flee.

He also wants a “transparent and open” explanation of how the state’s quarantine system is working. “The quarantine seems to be a bit of a voluntary thing just now and the hospitals are overloaded,” Miller told reporters on Sunday.

“We know there are going to be uncooperative people, we know mistakes are going to be made, but in my job we have to have systems in place that make up for that, otherwise people die.

“Now unfortunately that’s also the case with hotel quarantine ... so there’s lots of work to be done because Covid is not taking the Christmas/new year period off.”

D’ubios was refused bail in Perth magistrates court on Sunday, the ABC reported, and was remanded in custody until 4 January.

Cook said the woman, who arrived in Perth from Madrid on 19 December, faced a maximum penalty of $50,000 or 12 months in prison.

While in hotel quarantine she had regular contact with an on-site medical, health and wellbeing team, he said, and was twice taken to Royal Perth hospital for medical assistance.

People quarantining in other states have shared similar experiences, describing a lack of fresh air and dirty rooms.

A woman who only wanted to be identified as Sophie and who is quarantining in a hotel in Chippendale in New South Wales told Guardian Australia that she had entered quarantine healthy but was now unwell, with allergies and back pain. She sent photos of her bed linen to Guardian Australia, which had red and brown stains on it.

Sophie said the rooms were not being cleaned, and some people had resorted to asking their loved ones to drop off vacuum cleaners and cleaning products.

“I asked the hotel to provide me with a vacuum cleaner but they said no, because I might contaminate it,” she said. “It is so unhealthy to live in a room which is not vacuumed, had no fresh air, and no ability to clean surfaces unless you call someone and ask for spray.”

She said medical staff at the hotel accused her of having obsessive compulsive disorder after her complaints about the dirty linen and dust, and encouraged her to take allergy tablets and sleeping pills.

“This system is designed to punish and humiliate, there is no other explanation,” Sophie said. “There is utter chaos and lack of coordination between government, police, ADF, the hotel, caterers and health care workers and it is infuriating.

“There is no oversight to ensure the different parties work efficiently together.”

In Victoria, a man was arrested in Melbourne after also escaping hotel quarantine, because of “anxiety”, he said. He was arrested by four police officers outside the Holiday Inn hotel on Saturday afternoon.

The man told the Melbourne radio station 3AW he didn’t believe he needed to be in the facility. He claimed he had returned from NSW in time to avoid compulsory hotel quarantine.

“I know it was wrong ... But I had told the medical staff, my anxiety is going to take over and I can’t control myself, and I’m just going to go out and try to leave until I’m forcibly stopped,” he said.

‘100 per cent’ COVID cure being produced in Australia

A vaccine said to be “100 per cent” effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19 is coming soon, with the government increasingly confident of its ability.

A vaccine already being produced in Australia is “100 per cent effective” in preventing severe cases of COVID-19 infections, new data shows.

The federal government is “confident” it has backed the right COVID vaccine as data to be released in Australia shows the Oxford/AstraZeneca-developed jab is as effective as the already approved Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna jabs.

Australia has thrown its weight behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with 50m doses to be manufactured in Melbourne by pharmaceutical company CSL and almost 4m of those doses to be delivered to Australia in January and February.

Until now the precise efficacy of the jab was yet to be determined through clinical trials.

But AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said new data would show the vaccine would be just as effective as the already-approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that protect 95 per cent of patients. And it would be “100 per cent effective” in preventing severe illness.

“We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else,” Mr Soriot said.

Senior UK government officials expect the drug watchdog will approve the vaccine before Thursday, kickstarting the rollout of the jab to 15m vulnerable people in Britain.

Unlike the US, Britain and Canada which slashed red tape to fast-track vaccines, the Australian government plans to roll out the vaccine in March.

“Before any COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in Australia, it will be subject to the well-established and rigorous assessment and approval processes of the Therapeutic Goods Administration,” Mr Hunt’s spokesman said.

“The rollout of the vaccine in Australia will be guided by the Medical experts of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.”

The UK government regards the Oxford vaccine as the one that would transform the fight against COVID, as it can be stored in a fridge and costs $A3.50 a shot.

The Pfizer vaccine, of which Australia has ordered 10 million doses, has to be kept at temperatures of -70C and costs $A26 a dose.

Australia poised to fight back against Chinese trade war by AXING a lucrative university research agreement

Australia could be set to strike back at China as the two nations continue to engage in an ugly trade war, as ministers consider scrapping a widely-touted research agreement.

The ongoing deal, signed off in 2015, sees grants of up to $200,000 handed out to Victorian universities and companies to share research and data.

But the agreement could be axed by the federal government, ending the deal with China's Jiangsu province which sees intellectual property and new product development shared across the two nations.

Relations between Australia and China have dramatically soured since Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic from its source in the Chinese city of Wuhan back in April.

In a seemingly tit-for-tat response, a furious China has imposed a raft of trade measures on Australian products from barley to beef, recently adding timber to the list.

There are mounting fears the Victoria-Jiangsu Program for Technology and Innovation Research and Development could not be in the best interests of Australia's national affairs.

According to The Age, recent legislation introduced by the federal government in December sees the Commonwealth able to cancel agreements with foreign powers if the deals are perceived as harmful.

Dr Paul Monk, the former head of China analysis in Australia's Defence Department, said the current Jiangsu deal could see Chinese government officials blatantly take advantage of Australia.

'For this deal to be getting promoted by the Chinese government, there is likely to be something we can provide that they want – otherwise they would do it themselves,' he said.

'So we must ask: what [intellectual property] do we bring to the table that they are seeking?'

The current terms of the Jiangsu deal see a number of Australian entities frequently travel to the region for research and development in sectors such as aerospace, biotechnology and medicine.

Former Trade Minister Simon Birmingham recently lodged an official complaint with the World Trade Organisation in relation to Beijing's conduct in the ongoing trade dispute Australia and China.

'We have a series of different actions that China has taken during the course of the year and each come with slightly different criteria for how you might respond at the WTO,' he said earlier this month.

'The application of pressure on [markets] in the Chinese system where businesses within China are state-owned enterprises, being discouraged from purchasing Australian goods [is one].

In May this year, China imposed 80 per cent tariffs on barley, prompting an official complaint to the WTO from Mr Birmingham this month.

Australian wine also incurred 212 per cent import taxes in November, following months of trade intimidation against beef, lobster, timber, lamb and even coal exporters.




Sunday, December 27, 2020

How a regional Australian city became an unlikely home for hundreds of Yazidi refugees

Yazidis are Indo-Europeans, related to European populations, not Arabs or Iranians. They have their own monotheistic religion. They should settle well in Australia

It's been almost three years since about 600 Yazidi refugees from Northern Iraq and Syria began resettling in Australia, many fleeing trauma after persecution by the IS terror group.

One of the resettlement areas was Armidale, where the community has embraced its new migrants.

Aedo, who arrived two years ago, is now helping transform a plot of land just outside of the town into prime pasture, as part of a new agriculture initiative set up for the Yazidi community.

"What we're trying to achieve is help them realise their place in Armidale, through acquisition of skills and using those skills to gain employment,” says Lance McNamara from Northern Settlement Services.

Aedo hopes the opportunity will help him secure stable employment in Australia.

"The first thing I get is experience, so I know how work will be like and I can get the best work every day,” he says.

The land was donated by members of the local rotary club to give the Yazidi community, who typically worked on the land, a place of their own to farm.

Peter Lloyd from Armidale Rotary says members of his organisation have been stunned by the rapid progress the community has made in transforming the plot.

"It's absolutely amazing, 250 metres of fencing disappeared in a couple of hours,” he says.

“The speed of work, efficiency, and the degree of learning is quite impressive."

Resettlement program

Armidale, which has a population of about 25,000, was selected as a regional resettlement site by the Turnbull Government in August 2017, with the first refugees from Syria and Iraq arriving just over six months later.

Mr Lloyd says the way the families have been settled has helped them assimilate into the wider community.

"The families are being distributed, if you like, with their homes quite separated within the township and many families, their neighbours are taking everyone under their wings,” he says.

“There's a lot of exchanges, especially of recipes!”

“There's a lot of Yazidi bread that's being consumed in Armidale and a lot of other things [happening] that are really beneficial in a social sense, a language sense, and also an educational sense."

Yazidi cuisine has become a highlight at one local hotel. The Minnie Barn, which opened at the beginning of this year, has employed Yazidi chefs to cook up a unique menu.

The dishes have proved popular, even during periods impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

“We knew about the Yazidi community, we approached them, and we found a couple of guys that were willing to come on board,” says Comfort City Inn manager Phil Mitchell.

“It was a bit of a struggle from the start with the language barriers and working out how to operate a professional kitchen with them. But a couple of months in, it's really taking off."

Salam Qaro and his wife Fryal Khalaf arrived in Australia in July 2019. Since settling in Armidale, the family has thrived.

“I was surprised because the physical aspects of Armidale are similar to my hometown, where I was living in Northern Iraq,” Salam says.

“I noticed that Armidale was so quiet, and also the people were welcoming, and I feel safe with my family here.”

The rest of his family remain in Northern Iraq, where they have faced persecution, he says. Some are still missing or were killed by IS.

"Two uncles of mine are missing by ISIS, and also my grandmother, my cousin was killed by ISIS, and no-one cared about that.”

“In my country, there is no future for anyone, especially for the Yazidi community, because the Yazidi community is all the time living very dangerous situations."

While he Fryal were able to settle in Armidale as refugees, applications to bring other family members to Australia on humanitarian grounds have not been successful.

“We received it with a declined outcome by [the Department of] Immigration. We don’t know why, and we are still asking why,” he says.

While his psychology degree is not recognised in Australia, Salam now helps settle other refugees in the area and is planning to build a house of his own with Fryal.

In June, the family also expanded when they welcomed baby Sama.

"We were lucky with Sama, she was born in Australia and she is an Australian citizen now,” he says. “She will have a good future in Australia."

Australian universities allowing almost anyone into their courses this year

Teenagers who missed out on studying their dream degree due to a low ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) are being urged to take a short bridging course or apply directly for entry.

One university is admitting students based on teacher recommendations, rather than ATAR scores, this year.

Others are counting community service and work experience towards university entry.

Students who copped health or financial curveballs in 2020 can also apply for special entry on “equity’’ grounds.

Universities, bleeding cash due to the lockout of fee-paying international students, are bending over backwards to admit more domestic students for 2021.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said 2020 had been “exceptionally tough’’ for students and advised them to use different “pathways’’ to a degree.

“These include work experience, other qualifications such as bridging courses, leadership and community service, equity and special circumstances,’’ she told News Corp Australia.

“Options for university admission don’t end with the ATAR.

“Universities understand that the disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis may have affected students differently and will be looking to provide flexibility to students.

“All universities will be ready and willing to talk with students about their individual situation.’’

Budding criminologist Megan Ting, 23, was devastated when she received a low ATAR but is now studying a Bachelor of Forensics Science at UTS, after completing a bridging Diploma of Life Science at UTS Insearch.

“Your ATAR doesn’t define you at all,’’ she said.

“Just don’t stress out – there’s always another way.

“I wish someone had told me earlier not to stress out and think it’s the end of the world.’’

The University of Tasmania has already admitted 1800 students through a side door, using its Schools’ Recommendation Program.

“We take a teachers’ recommendation along with prior academic performance, not just ATAR which is not a good predictor of future success,’’ vice-chancellor Professor Rufus Black said yesterday.

“Teachers are ideally placed to know if a student is on the right path to further studies.

“We (also) take into account people’s work and other life experience when considering their application to study.

“Not having an ATAR, or not having the ATAR you were hoping for, doesn’t have to be a barrier to your dream course.’’

Charles Sturt University (CSU) gives school leavers from regional areas a five-point ATAR bonus, and has already made 1859 early offers to school leavers.

CSU takes into account “soft skills’’ such as empathy and resilience, demonstrated through community and charity work.

Indigenous students can undertake a five-day entry program that provides guaranteed entry into a broad range of bachelor degrees.

CSU also offers “micro-credentials” in community leadership and resilience, to certify skills that show a student’s ability to do a job or continue study.

CSU acting vice-chancellor Professor John Germov said that “ATAR scores are not what they used to be’’, with 70 per cent of students entering via other pathways.

“ATAR scores do not necessarily reflect the skills and attributes that many occupations and professions require, and which students might possess when they apply for entry to university,’’ he said.

“A nurse is nothing without empathy for her patients, a veterinarian will struggle without the resilience required to deal with the death of the animals in his care.’’

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) offers free three-month Tertiary Preparation Programs, covering English, maths and study management, with guaranteed entry to a range of USQ bachelor degrees regardless of ATAR results.

It also offers six-month certificate programs as a stepping stone to a full degree.

“You do not have to give up on your dream career,’’ vice-chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said.

“This year 12 cohort has had a lot thrown at them in the last 12 months.

“They’ve shown grit and resilience and will no doubt continue to do this throughout their university studies and into their careers.’’

In Victoria, RMIT University offers a new Pathways Guaranteed program, to help students without an ATAR get into a degree course by completing a TAFE course first.

“The benchmark of some VCE students will be disproportionately impacted this year by the disruptions of bushfires and COVID-19,’’ a spokeswoman said.

“The cost of a Pathways Package is often cheaper than completing a full Bachelor program.’’

University of Queensland acting deputy vice-chancellor Professor Doune Macdonald urged school leavers to “keep their ATAR in perspective’’.

“While it’s disappointing not to get the ATAR they were hoping for it can be a detour for school leavers – and for many students, that detour can become their passion,’’ she said.

The University of South Australia is offering diplomas or foundation studies to help students leapfrog into a degree.

“If students didn’t achieve the result they needed to get into their chosen degree, we encourage having a back-up plan by preferencing a degree in a similar field,’’ UniSA chief academic services officer Professor Marie Wilson said yesterday,

The Australian Catholic University (ACU) has introduced a new Foundation Studies Program at its Blacktown Campus in Sydney, to help students without a Year 12 qualification get into uni.

“While the year was extremely challenging for Year 12s, we are also seeing a very large number of applicants with high ATARs so not all students will be able to get in to their first choice,’’ ACU vice-chancellor Professor Greg Craven said yesterday.

He said the federal government was funding extra places for school leavers to complete a certificate first, and then transfer into a bachelor degree once they meet the entry requirements.

The University of New England (UNE) already admits 90 per cent of its students without an ATAR result, and offers free short courses to gain entry.

“If you didn’t get the ATAR that you hoped for, there is absolutely no reason why you still can’t go to university and go on to a successful career in your chosen field,’’ UNE student success director Barb Shaw said yesterday.

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) advises school leavers to study a diploma or certificate in a similar discipline, as a pathway to a full degree.

Students can also combine a TAFE certificate with a QUT qualification, or study a different bachelor degree course before switching to their dream degree.

James Cook University (JCU) offers a Certificate of Higher Education that lets students catch up on any missing prerequisite subjects, in time to start most bachelor degrees in February 2021.

“If a student didn’t get the ATAR they need for their dream course, the Diploma of Higher Education is a six-month to one-year full-time course designed to help them meet the entry requirements for most JCU courses,’’ a spokesman said.

“They’ll study a combination of introductory and first-year degree subjects and develop the practical skills to be a successful university student and gain credit towards their chosen degree.’’

Shrinking family is fertile ground for concern

There are times when I wish I had a dollar for every insult I have endured for the size of my family. The number of children that I have managed to produce, nine, has been the source of a never-ending stream of jokes and jibes, from complete strangers.

They range from the lamely comedic: “Don’t you have a TV?” my reply, “we found something much better to do”, to the snide: “How can you afford them?” muttered to a nine-year-old, to which she replied: “Do you have to pay for yours?” But the absolute worst was: “people have families, not litters” a statement that was actually published in the letters section of a metropolitan newspaper.

That a large family like mine is open season for attack and ridicule shows more about why there is a so-called “baby drought’” than any number of statistics and theories.

The rot at the heart of declining fertility is not as some think, just economic, nor just about women’s working patterns or men’s inability to “commit”. It is deeply cultural. It is the product of a sick society that has pushed the natural child-bearing family to the periphery.

This decline can all be traced to exactly one year, 1961, the year the pill was introduced. From the very year of its introduction the total fertility rate (TFR) literally plummeted. The graph dips in a Matterhorn-like precipitous decline.From 1961 the Australian birthrate went from 3.55, as an average number of births per woman over a lifetime, to the current 1.6.

But a worse cultural malaise took hold. The nexus between sex and fertility was lost, and gradually, the consequences of this sexual revolution, the “great dis-ruption”, as Francis Fukayama described it, have been disastrous.

One of the first things that happened was the marriage rate began to decline. This is particularly bad for fertility because most people do not want children outside the marriage bond. Even today, over 64 per cent of children are born into a registered marriage.

Over 50 years, casual sexual relationships became more common. Marriage went from the gold standard foundation of sexual relationships, something sacred, profound and exclusive to heterosexual sex because of the children that might be produced from that natural biological pairing, to a “partnership” in which the children were an optional extra.

Gradually within this milieu, serial sexual relationships have replaced marriage. Even in exclusive partnerships marriage is delayed. The consequence on a practical level is that people are getting older at marriage, and women who have delayed childbirth simply can’t have as many children as in the past – or even as many as all the social surveys show they would like.

Peter Costello is right. He knows full well that we have to increase the fertility rate in Australia or we will simply run short of young productive people to fuel the economy. We must have migration just to top up our ever-dwindling natural fertility, which must be just over 2 per woman over a lifetime for our population to simply remain static. The last time this happened was in 1997. It was the Baby Bonus blip, but it was not sustainable. Right now, our economic future is running on empty, with a pitifully shrinking fertility and alarmingly low migration statistics due to the COVID-19 crisis which has cut the projected population increase by over a million.

Some influential people have been brainwashed by the so-called “population bomb” of the zero-population growth movement, which gave its advocates an ideologically respectable reason not to have kids. But the world’s population increase is slowing and is predicted to reach stasis in about 2050. Already some countries, notably Russia, have actually lost population.

Ours is not a country that has too many people. It is a country where too many people are crammed into only six cities. It is a country that needs decentralisation, but nevertheless, we are a society that is running short of young people to fuel our economy. So, we keep importing them in ever increasing numbers just to keep things going. Migration works to expand the youthful workforce in the short term but it exponentially increases the ageing of the population since migrants arrive as adults, and have about the same numbers of children as the native born.

Since 1961 some dangerously scarring phenomena have been embedded into the social culture. The advent of the pill seemed to give women, and men, great freedom to plan their families responsibly. But on the downside it had a more subtle effect on male /female relationships. It has always been assumed it was good for women, but many women found that the pill subtly allowed men to assume women were always available – in effect infertile vessels for sex.

Now feminists and others are often puzzled as to why despite practical advances, the exploitation of women has not improved and why in the 50 years since the pill there has been a huge increase in the creep of pornography, which is fundamentally exploitive, into mainstream culture. Look back to that “revolution” which bore as one of its fruits a hyper sexualised culture, which denies the greatest gift of sex, the child.

The current confusing social/sexual milieu is another evolutionary step which seriously mitigates against healthy heterosexual sexual relations and marriage. Many young people literally don’t know if they are Arthur or Martha, having been told from a very young age, they can change. But although most people, are horrified by these developments they are too intimidated to call out this naked emperor.

Worse, in the ACT and soon in Victoria parents will be legally robbed of their authority to do so. No wonder well-meaning people are afraid of child-bearing. This attack on parental authority by the state, which only supports parents who agree with them, is an attack unprecedented in democracies. It is both an extreme symptom and cause of the collapse of the family, the real cause of the baby drought.

Adelaide man who suffered broken leg during SA Police arrest secures $854,000 compensation

The Supreme Court of South Australia has upheld an $854,000 compensation payment for a man whose leg was broken as police arrested him more than seven years ago.

SA Police officers used capsicum spray and a "figure four leg lock" as they tried to arrest Matthew Charles Crossley on Bank Street in the Adelaide CBD in March 2013.

The leg lock manoeuvre, designed to restrain someone thrashing or kicking, left Mr Crossley's femur so badly broken that a 40-centimetre rod was inserted during surgery hours after the incident.

In February, the District Court ruled that the police officers had committed three acts of battery during the arrest and, in May, awarded Mr Crossley $700,000 in compensation for the "egregious" and "violent" arrest.

At the time, District Court Judge Sydney Tilmouth found the use of the leg lock to handcuff Mr Crossley was "unnecessary and excessive" because he was already restrained.

He added that Mr Crossley was entitled to resist the arrest because the officers' failure to explain their reasoning rendered it "unlawful".

More damages were added in July to bring the total to $854,313.

In an appeal to the Supreme Court, the State Government argued the officers had lawfully arrested Mr Crossley for disorderly behaviour.

Lawyers for the government argued that using pepper spray and the leg lock was lawful and justified in the circumstances.

But the court dismissed the appeal, on all grounds, in a judgement handed down this week.

In the reasons for the unanimous decision, Justice David Peek said the officers' actions "were unjustified and unlawful, irrespective of whether or not [Mr Crossley] had been properly informed as to the reason for his arrest".

"The judge was correct in finding that [Senior Constable] Lovell attempted to carry out a 'figure four leg lock' manoeuvre by applying his full body weight across the respondent's legs while bending and twisting his left leg at the knee and that this was inherently dangerous and unjustified," Justice Peek wrote.

An SA Police spokeswoman said it was "assessing the outcomes of the appeal and have no further comment to make".

In a hearing earlier this year, Mr Crossley said he used crutches for six months and a walking stick for a further three-to-four months after the injury but was otherwise left "basically bed-bound" most of the time.

He has suffered complications with the rod, walks with a limp and will require continued rehabilitation as part of his ongoing recovery.

Additionally, his treating psychiatrist said he experiences symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Mr Crossley told the court he had not worked since the incident because he was "not physically capable".