Wednesday, January 06, 2021

China's plan to produce its own wine and agriculture instead of buying it from Australia and switching from coal to green energy could blow a $150billion hole in our economy

It could theoretically. But the claim that China will shift to "green" electricity in replacement for coal is a bit of a laugh. Only a Western Greenie would believe that of China. They have been very enthusiastic builders of coal-fired generators.

And China's limits on Australian wine need to be seen in conjunction with the fact that China already produces quite a lot of its own wine. But tastes in wine are very individual so it is clear that many Chinese prefer Australian wines. So the non-availablity of Australian wines will be felt in China

And the block on Australian coal is already being felt. Chinese power stations are already running out, causing blackouts. Coal is a very common mineral worldwide so Australian coal could theoretically be replaced. But that would incur a penalty in both quality and price

China's long-term plan to be more economically self-sufficient could harm Australia's major exporters, including those in the once unassailable resources sector.

The Communist power is Australia's biggest trading partner buying 35 per cent of exports worth $150billion during the last financial year.

Iron ore, the commodity used to make steel, is by far the most valuable good sent to China, but thermal coal, agricultural and service exports would be under threat if China aimed to be less reliant on imports and more focused on renewable energy.

Associate Professor Jane Golley, the director of the Australian Centre on China in the World at Canberra's Australian National University, said local exporters would be vulnerable under President Xi Jinping's plan to be more self-sufficient and generate more economic growth to legitimise Communist Party rule.

'If the Chinese government succeeds in making the Chinese economy more reliant on domestic production and consumption, that doesn't sound like a great idea for the Australian export market broadly,' she told the ABC's 7.30 program.

China in 2019-20 bought $18billion worth of Australian coal. That component included about $8billion worth of thermal coal, used for electricity generation.

China is aiming to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2060 which threatens Australia's lucrative coal exports. 'For example, they will continue to shift out of coal and towards renewable energies,' Dr Golley said.

'They're also going to open up for capital investors to come in from abroad to support that green growth and so there will be opportunities for Australians in certain markets but I don't think it will be quite as universal as it has been in the past.'

World’s eyes on Australia to see if we can resist China

Before the pandemic shut down international travel, Australia had been receiving a steady stream of visitors from Western civil services, intelligence agencies, think tanks, universities and parliaments, all interested in one thing: what measures had Australia taken to protect its institutions from interference and infiltration by the Chinese state?

Experts have been explaining over and over what Australia has done and the circumstances that turned this country into the global leader pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party’s interference.

Two important factors persuaded the Turnbull government to introduce these and other policies. First, public alarm was rising following a series of media reports about donations by CCP-linked people to political parties, centring on the Dastyari affair. Second, the evidence in a series of secret intelligence briefings describing the extent of Beijing’s campaign to win friends among Australia’s elites became overwhelming.

The responses have included outlawing foreign interference, banning Huawei from the 5G network, excluding Chinese investors from buying up critical infrastructure and working behind the scenes to shake institutions such as universities out of their cash-induced complacency.

Today, Australia has become a model for other nations concerned about China’s influence. Some have introduced foreign interference legislation mirroring Australia’s.

During the past nine months, Beijing has subjected Australia to an escalating program of punishment, mainly by the use of economic coercion but also by a diplomatic freeze backed by a barrage of insults and threats emanating from the highest levels of the party in Beijing.

The Canberra embassy issued 14 demands we must satisfy if we wanted China to back off, including abolishing our foreign interference law, allowing Huawei into our 5G network, permitting unrestricted Chinese investment and limiting media criticism of the regime.

The trigger event for Beijing was Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s call in April for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

But the retribution follows growing annoyance in the CCP, reaching up to general secretary Xi Jinping, that China’s attempts to break our resistance to its domination are failing. For Beijing, and for democracy, the geopolitical stakes could hardly be higher.

If Australia refuses to be intimidated, sticks to its position and takes the pain then Beijing must realise sooner or later that its campaign can’t succeed and grudgingly will resume normal relations with Australia.

That outcome would send a powerful message to the rest of the world: it’s possible for medium-sized nations to maintain their independence in the face of severe pressure from Beijing. A decisive blow would be dealt to Beijing’s goal of gaining global supremacy, if not by its United Front strategy of co-opting elites, then by economic blackmail.

On the other hand, if Australia’s resolve weakens under pressure and we give way to Beijing’s demands then it would represent a stunning victory for the CCP’s tactic of bullying and economic retribution.

The message to the rest of the world would be shattering. In the corridors of power, those urging resistance to the CCP would be told: “Australia tried but was forced to back down. China is too powerful. Only the US can resist and who knows for how long.”

This would pave the way for China to rapidly become the dominant power in the world from where the CCP would spread its malign influence.

Party documents are unequivocal: the CCP is hostile to free speech, a free media, religious freedom, independent courts and civil society.

So the stance being taken by the government in Canberra has world historical significance.

The vital question is: who in this unequal contest will win?

The Morrison government has made it very clear that Australia’s principles are not negotiable. But Beijing believes that if it imposes enough economic pain on Australians then we will be forced to trade our principles for higher growth.

The crucial factor in this fight is Australian public opinion. Communist Party bosses tend to believe that winning over powerful elites is enough. In pursuing that tactic they have been very successful. There are powerful voices in Australia urging the government to capitulate to Beijing’s pressure.

Certain former prime ministers, premiers, mining magnates, vice-chancellors, strategic analysts and Sinologists are all telling the government to appease Beijing. And some of the leaders of the industries being squeezed by China’s trade bans have become, in effect, mouthpieces for Beijing, calling on the government to “fix the relationship”, as if it’s all our fault. This is exactly what Beijing planned.

But in democracies political parties want to win elections above all else. Most Australians have been woken from their slumber and now see China as a serious threat to the democratic practices that for too long they had taken for granted.

With an election due at the end of this year or early next, the public must therefore watch both sides of politics closely for any signs of wavering. If our leaders go weak at the knees then the rest of the world is imperilled.

The epidemic Australia is failing to control

While we may be leading the health pandemic recovery, it seems like Australia has an education epidemic it is not treating effectively. Two decades ago, Australia was one of the leading education nations in the world. The OECD, for example, used to hold Australia as one of the best in class in education. But not any longer.

Despite frequent school reforms, educational performance has not been improving. Indeed, it has been in decline compared to many other countries. International data makes that clear. Australian Council for Educational Research concluded it by saying that student performance in Australia has been in long-term decline. The OECD statistics reveal system-wide prevalence of inequity that is boosted by education resource gaps between Australian schools that are among the largest in the world. And UNICEF has ranked Australia’s education among the most unequal in rich countries.

Often the inspiration for the education reforms in Australia are imported from the US and Britain. Yet, the evidence base to support many of these grand policy changes here is weak or non-existent. For instance, research shows that market-based models of school choice, test-based accountability, and privatisation of public education have been wrong strategies for world-class education elsewhere. Yet, market models have been the cornerstone of Australian school policies since the early 2000s.

So, what should we do instead? Success in fighting the ongoing health pandemic is a result of systematically relying on the best available science and expert knowledge to maximise the effectiveness of treatments while minimising their side effects. We should follow that same principle in education, too.

Evidence-based education policies use research to link selected treatment and expected outcomes, but they almost always ignore possible harmful side effects they may have on schools, teachers or children. Take NAPLAN, for example. Those who advocate the necessity of national standardised testing regimes back their views by positive consequences of high-stakes testing while ignoring the associated risks that research has exposed: narrowing curriculum, teaching to the tests, and declining student motivation, just to mention some.

Education and health are important contributors to a better life. During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen what evidence-based public health policies look like. But unlike medicine, education operates on the basis of ideology, politics and consensus. We see the inconvenient consequences of that in national statistics and international education indicators.

In early December, Australia’s plans of having a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine were ruined when the University of Queensland research team found that participants in phase 1 trials tested weakly positive on HIV tests. These detected side effects made Prime Minister Morrison terminate a $1 billion deal with the UQ and look for safer options to treat the coronavirus pandemic.

If education was like medicine, many controversial education policies, including NAPLAN, MySchool and school funding models, would have been terminated during trial phases due to harm they do to teaching and learning.

If we have learnt anything in 2020, it is that we need to learn to act in education more like we act in medicine. We should stop claiming that there is an extensive evidence base behind suggested educational treatments like the School Success Model without being sure about their possible side effects to children’s learning.

More importantly, it is unfair to expect schools to base their pedagogical decisions on solid evidence unless the policies behind these expectations are based on best available science and professional practice.

Is there anyone more "incorrect" than Bettina Arndt?

Another one of her intrepid articles below: "Truths about indigenous violence", where she criticizes both blacks AND women

Early last year I taped a fascinating video discussion about a similar but even more touchy topic. I’ve been sitting on it ever since because I decided not to release the video during the attacks on me because I didn’t want this important issue to be caught up in the vitriol.

Now it seems to make sense to start 2021 with a bang – and reveal this powerful story.

It’s all about indigenous violence. But not the dangerous aboriginal men you hear so much about, men rightly condemned for their aggression towards women and children.

What you never hear about in public discussion of indigenous violence is the domestic violence perpetrated by indigenous women.

Last year I was contacted by Phillip Bligh, an indigenous leader from the Central Coast of NSW. Phillip has spent over 30 years working in indigenous communities and schools and acting as a consultant for governments and other key organizations.

He wrote to me after being asked by the domestic violence organization White Ribbon to assess the cultural appropriateness of their Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Training Manual. Phillip was appalled that, as is true with all White Ribbon material, the manual presented a very simplistic picture of violent aboriginal men attacking and terrorizing women and children.

The reality is far more complex, with indigenous women playing an increasing role in family violence. Phillip wrote to me about the families he knew where children grew up in fear of violent, abusive mothers. He expressed his concern about the veil of silence being drawn over the fact that this mothering is contributing to the cycle of violence causing so much damage in his community.

He pointed out that report after report is being produced about the violence of indigenous men, but women are hardly ever mentioned and statistics about their abuse is invariably missing.

The hidden statistics showing women’s violence

In preparation for our discussion, we asked the excellent NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research to dig out the latest statistics. The results were very telling:

* Indigenous women are eight times more likely to perpetrate domestic assault than the group of all women.

* Indigenous women are more than twice as violent as men in general.

Our governments spend millions of dollars on projects calling out men’s violence but not one cent addressing the destructive effects of the high levels of domestic violence perpetrated by indigenous women.

And how come no one is talking about the fact that the problem of violent indigenous women is getting far worse? Look at these trends over the last decade – it is women who are becoming more violent, particularly the indigenous women.

To make matters worse, these domestic violence figures don’t include the high levels of child abuse and neglect by indigenous mothers which contributes to the constant issue over child protection in these communities.

These facts will be uncomfortable for many people, but effective social policy must be based on evidence not ideology.
It takes a brave soul to speak out about this controversial issue and I applaud Phillip Bligh for coming forward.

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