Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Family moves to Canberra to escape ‘atrocious’ temperatures in Western Sydney

She might be disappointed. Canberra is pretty hot in summer

Sydney has always been a hot place. As Watkin Tench recorded, it got so hot in 1790 (Yes. 1790. not 1970) that birds and bats were falling out of the trees dead. And that was in coastal Sydney. Inland has always been even hotter. So the lady's claim that she is escaping anthropogenic climate change is tendentious. There were no SUVs or power stations in 1790

An Australian climate scientist who specialises in heatwaves has told of how she moved her family to a new city to escape “atrocious” temperatures due to climate change.

University of NSW climate scientist Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick shared her story in the documentary series Life at 50 Degrees, available to stream on Flash News.

The mother of two said she was so concerned about the extreme temperatures her family endured where they lived in western Sydney, that she made the decision to relocate.

“I have experienced days of 45 and 47 degrees celsius and that was appalling, it was atrocious. You couldn’t do anything,” Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick said. “The only way we could stay cool in Western Sydney was to have the aircon running all day and that was a hard thing for me to do.”

She said she made the extreme decision to move her family to Canberra, where the climate is much cooler, for her daughters, aged 2 and 4.

“It really bothers me that the world that they’re experiencing now is a lot different from my childhood,” she said.

“During my first pregnancy, it was so hot that I actually struggled to put the washing on the line. “While I was literally about to bring this child into the world, I was thinking what will the summers be like for her in the future.”

According to Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, temperatures in Western Sydney already experience 10 degrees higher than in the city’s eastern suburbs. The region’s local government areas (LGAs) including Penrith, where Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick was living, are expected to be the worst affected with a forecast of an average of four extra days of extreme heat by around 2050.

The climate scientist said the outlook for the area forced her to take action and make the move. “As a scientist, I know how bad the future looks. I understand all that, I comprehend all that. That’s what I do for a living,” she said.

“But as a mum, as a person, as a human being, I really struggle with just how bad those impacts will be.”


Sydney University academics’ fury over dumped departments

This is just about a new boss wanting to make his mark. The only possible reason for the rejig is to increase cross-disciplinary contact and co-operation. But that is a snark. It already happens when the parties concerned want it. I studied and taught in a "School" that comprised people from psychology, sociology and anthropology -- the School of Behavioral Sciences at Macquarie university. And I saw no instance of research co-operation across those disciplines.

Arts and social sciences academics at Sydney University are furious about a plan to refashion the faculty’s departments as disciplines, with many saying they have never seen such anger in decades at the institution.

Sixty senior faculty members, including more than 20 chairs of departments – including history, philosophy and English – and almost 30 professors within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, or FASS, have written to the university’s administration to express their alarm.

It is the first major skirmish between university management and academics under the rule of new vice-chancellor, Mark Scott.

Chair of Archaeology Annie Clarke said it would be more than a name change.

Departments were as old as the university itself, and were an integral part of its intangible heritage. She warned the proposed “disciplines” were nebulous and risked damaging the university’s reputation. She has been at Sydney since 2003 and said “I’ve never seen people so upset”.

“All the major universities in the world have departments, and this slippage into a different kind of culture around disciplines is increasing centralised control of what we do,” Professor Clarke said. “For us, it’s a line in the sand.”

A proposal presented to FASS academics this month said the faculty regularly failed to meet budget targets for domestic students, and only two of its schools – economics, and media and communications – attracted significant numbers of overseas students.

Those schools cross-subsidised the rest of the faculty, but, as COVID-19 border closures showed, the international market was volatile. Costs were growing at 2.8 per cent a year but revenue was only climbing by 2 per cent a year, which was unsustainable. “It makes sense for us to consider changes in the way we work,” the proposal said.

FASS is divided into six schools, which are in turn divided into departments, with a chair of each. In 2019, only two of its schools returned a surplus: Economics ($41 million) and the School of Languages and Cultures ($6m), the proposal said.

The loss-makers were the schools of Literature Art and Media ($91,000), Education and Social Work ($532,000), Social and Political Sciences ($5 million) and the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry ($13 million).

The proposed changes involve re-naming schools and shifting the subjects within them. A new School of Humanities would take in subjects from the old School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, while adding linguistics and religion but losing gender studies to social sciences.

All undergraduate units with fewer than 24 students would be scrapped.

The departments within schools would be renamed disciplines, to “move away from the administrative and financial silos”, increase interaction between similar subjects, and reduce internal competition. The department chair would become a discipline lead.

Other universities, such as Melbourne and Monash, have also adopted the “discipline” approach. The university defines a department as an organisational unit, and discipline as a sub-field of knowledge. Departments don’t have their own budgets.

However, academics are worried this will curtail their ability to manage their own subject.

The letter from angry FASS academics said the discipline concept was nebulous and risky, and their views had been ignored. “There is no clear reason or benefit for the proposed change, as no specific problems with the current structure have been identified,” it said.

Professor Clarke said students, alumni and staff strongly identified with departments. The new structure would lead to an “erosion and loss of identity,” she said.

“There is an increasing centralised control of academic life. In departments we have a fair degree of control over what we teach our students, what we do, and public facing, the engagement work we do. We feel that there’s a slow erosion of the structures of a university that we feel are really important.”

Not everyone agrees. Sociologist Salvatore Babones, who was not a signatory to the letter, said his colleagues were justifiably concerned about the consolidation of smaller departments into bigger ones.

“But relabelling departments as disciplines is the epitome of pro forma reform: departments become disciplines, department chairs become discipline leads, and the rest is business as usual,” he said. “It’s yet another missed opportunity for a genuine reexamination and long-overdue modernization of how we educate the next generation.”

A spokeswoman for the university administration said the FASS proposal involved significant consultation with staff, and the latest version involved smaller changes with no redundancies or reductions in employment.

More consultation was underway. “Like other institutions, we need to look for ways to ensure ongoing sustainability alongside continued high-quality teaching and research,” she said.

“The proposal to change from departments to a disciplinary structure – and to merge a very small number of disciplines – will allow our academic staff to collaborate more easily, reduce administrative double-up, produce a more consistent and flexible student experience and contribute to securing the future of our smaller disciplines.”


How the pandemic changed our population

The article below clearly favours high levels of immigration. But why? The claim is that there is a shortage of workers in some occupations -- such as care of the elderly. But there is only a shortage at current pay rates. Pay more and you will get more workers. The only valid reason for immigration that I can see is to enable family reunions.

It is true that paying more for services to children and the elderly will increase the costs to users of those services but that could usually be prevented by reducing the burden of regulation on such services. Requiring that people tasked with the care of little children have a university degree is one example of the towering stupidity in current regulations.

And traffic congestion and the price of housing can only be worsened by an increased population. And both of those things are already hugely problematical in Australia -- mainly as a result of past high levels of immigration

Disputes over population are a staple of Australian politics. So, it’s no surprise there are plenty of views about what to do about immigration policy now that pandemic restrictions on international borders are being lifted.

Some urge a rapid catch up. A leaked briefing prepared by bureaucrats for new NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet suggested he push for “an aggressive resumption of immigration levels”. It proposed Australia welcome 2 million migrants over the next five years. That’s 400,000 annually or nearly double the pre-pandemic rate.

High rates of migration have been blamed for worsening traffic congestion and other urban challenges
High rates of migration have been blamed for worsening traffic congestion and other urban challengesCREDIT:NICK MOIR

Others want a much more gradual build-up in migration numbers following the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic. This would help drive up demand for local labour and revive wages growth which has been sluggish for nearly a decade, they argue.

And as always there are those calling for much lower migration levels, or even none.

On Monday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that from next week eligible visa holders including overseas students, skilled work visa holders and working holidaymakers will be allowed to enter Australia for the first time in almost two years. The government anticipates this will pave the way for around 200,000 new arrivals in coming months.

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back,” Morrison said.

The Federal Government appears to have rejected the idea of an immigration catch-up period. But nor will there be a go slow. The May budget forecast net overseas migration to bounce back to pre-COVID levels (235,000 per year) by mid-decade and remain around that level into the early 2030s.

That strategy will have far-reaching consequences.

Since the 1970s Australia’s population has been expanding at an average rate of 1.4 per cent a year which is relatively fast compared to other developed countries. But growth has come to a virtual standstill thanks to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In the year before the pandemic hit Australia added 357,000 people, but that plunged to 36,000 in the year to March 2021. According to official estimates the national population increased by just 0.1 per cent last financial year and is forecast to grow by 0.2 per cent in 2021-22.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver says the hit to population growth delivered by COVID-19 means that Australia “will be 1 million people smaller than expected pre-coronavirus”. Longer range forecasts show Australia is now expected to have 35.3 million people in 2050, which is 2.5 million less than forecast in 2015. The population will also be older than otherwise would have been the case.

The pandemic has affected another important population driver – the fertility rate. The number of babies born per woman in Australia is expected to fall temporarily because of the economic uncertainty created by COVID-19.

Official forecasts for Australia’s long-term fertility rate have also been subject to major downward revisions, largely unrelated to the pandemic. Back in 2015 the federal government assumed women would have an average of 1.9 babies over the next 40 years but this year it was cut to 1.62 babies per woman.

Australian National University demographer Liz Allen says the pandemic’s simultaneous disruption to both net overseas migration and the fertility rate will be noticeable for many years. Things as basic as family formation have been interrupted by the way COVID-19 put a stop to the way we normally mix socially.

“What’s happened to Australia’s population during the pandemic is nothing short of extraordinary,” says Allen. “We’ll be able to look back in generations to come and actually see the impact on the composition of our population.”

Even the way population is distributed across Australia has been affected. Terry Rawnsley, a demographer and urban economist at KPMG, says population growth in many regional areas, especially those relatively close to capital cities, will be much stronger than expected before the pandemic.

“The surge in people working from home has made a move to a regional area much more attractive,” he says.

Dr Allen says overseas migrants will form an essential part of Australia’s post-pandemic recovery and is fundamental if Australia is to maintain a healthy population profile in the longer term.

“What’s really concerning is that the composition of the population’s age structure has become more problematic during the pandemic,” she says. “Prior to COVID we were struggling with an age structure that meant we had insufficient people for our workforce needs, and that’s even more pronounced now. That’s going to put pressure on the nation in the post-pandemic recovery phase.”

Migrant labour is crucial to many services industries including the care of the young, the elderly and the disabled. A recent study found just over 37 per cent of paid frontline care workers were born overseas in 2016, up from 31 per cent in 2011. Another survey found 60 per cent of migrants in caring occupations were on temporary visas, and around 38 per cent arrived on student visas.

Australia is facing a shortage of at least 110,000 aged-care workers within the next decade according to research published in August by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). The study concluded Australia is unlikely “to get anywhere close” to meeting its aged care workforce needs without migration.

“We require a workforce to sustain the nations needs and at present that means we require immigration to help us,” says Allen.

“Because of our age structure we don’t have a sufficient number of people ageing into the workforce to fill the gaps left by those ageing out, that’s the reality.”

Australia’s permanent migrant intake is capped at 160,000 per year, down recently from 190,000 a year. Skilled workers are favoured for permanent migration, although a growing share of places has been allocated under a program designed to boost business investment. Australia grants a further 13,750 permanent visas under a separate humanitarian program to resettle refugees and others overseas who are in humanitarian need.

A separate temporary migration program is largely uncapped (except for limits on working holiday visa grants for some countries) and demand driven. The stock of temporary migrants - which includes overseas students, working holidaymakers, skilled temporary residents, seasonal workers, and others - has increased by about 50,000 each year over the past decade.

Economic change along with Australia’s increasing integration with global trade and commerce has helped make population flows more complex. Knowledge-based industries which make up a growing share of our economy require skilled foreign workers to be able to come and go much more than in the past. The rise of the international education sector has added to this complexity. During the past 20 years it has emerged as Australia’s biggest services export. But overseas students are also part of the temporary migrant labour workforce (and are sometimes blamed for suppressing wages). They also increase demand for local housing and other services.

“Population can be a complicated issue,” says Allen.

Immigration is routinely blamed for a clutch of problems including traffic congestion, crowded trains, high-rise property developments and rising property prices.

A survey conducted for The Age and the Herald by research firm Resolve Strategic found 58 per cent favour restarting migration at a lower level than before the coronavirus while 20 per cent supported a return to the pre-pandemic rate.


Brisbane developer wins approval to build $300m tree house

image from https://content.api.news/v3/images/bin/0a259b875644ed79af440aa6dcd46c4c

A Brisbane developer has received approval to build one of the world’s greenest residential buildings in the heart of the city.

A Brisbane developer has finally been given the go ahead to build what it claims will be one of the world’s greenest residential buildings — an apartment tower with “backyards in the sky” covered in more than 500 trees and 25,000 plants.

Designed by internationally renowned architect Koichi Takada, Aria Property Group’s $300 million “The Urban Forest” project will be a 20-storey building with 194 apartments in the heart of South Brisbane.

Plans for the development were lodged with Brisbane City Council in June last year and have just been approved, with 90 per cent of all submissions in support of the proposal.

The development was originally designed to have 32 storeys, but was scaled back due to the council raising concerns about height and scale during the approval process.

Aria development manager Michael Hurley said the project had attracted “overwhelming” interest, with more than 800 inquiries domestically and internationally since the development application was lodged.

Mr Hurley said the project would be “Queensland’s first stand-alone five-star green star design and as-built residential development” and a sustainable landmark for Brisbane in the lead-up to the 2032 Olympic Games.

“Urban Forest will redefine apartment living, with the best residences we have ever delivered, iconic recreation spaces and innovations such as a two-storey fitness centre with basketball and squash courts on the rooftop,” Mr Hurley said.

“Demand for buildings like this moving forward will be huge. We hope this could lead the way for other (developers) to follow.”

The project’s major green initiatives include a 1450 sqm public park at the base of the building and a recycled greywater system that can save up to 50,000 litres of water a week.

‘The Urban Forest’ will offer 3700 sqm of resident amenity including a rooftop ‘canopy club’ with 360 degree views across South Brisbane, Musgrave Park, the CBD and Brisbane River, and Australia’s first rooftop basketball court.

Architect Koichi Takada said he hoped the project would inspire the next generation to work towards a more sustainable future.

“Urban Forest will change the way we live,” Mr Takada said. “We designed away the barrier between the building and nature resulting in the greenest residential building ever with generous backyards in the sky and offering a healthier lifestyle.”

Construction is set to begin mid-next year and is expected to be completed by late 2024.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


Monday, November 29, 2021

New words for "Advance Australia Fair"?

The proposed second verse is a rather clumsy reference to Aborigines so is hardly appropriate for general use. The proposed third verse, by contrast, refers to common Australian phenomena so is reasonably appropriate.

The real issue is why one population group is being singled out in what is supposed to be a NATIONAL anthem. Rather confused thinking.

There is also a Christian verse to the anthem that is widely sung in church circles. Christians so far have been content to use the verse only on their own occasions but if we are going to recognize special groups, the Christian version should also be recognized. There are more Christians than Aborigines

The Australian national anthem could be rewritten under proposed changes to make the words better reflect indigenous history.

Non- profit group Recognition in Anthem is pushing for a new second verse to Advance Australia Fair titled 'Our People' and a third verse 'Our Values'.

The group already had one victory when Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a one-word change from January 1 this year that altered the line 'we are young and free' to 'we are one and free'.

Cathy Freeman - who carried both the Australian and Aboriginal flags during her Sydney Olympics gold medal lap of honour in 2000 - is backing the move.

Her support was instrumental in the one word change - with Mr Morrison personally calling her to let her know - but now she wants to 'finish the job'.

The revised anthem has already been sung at high profile events including most recently at the Sydney Opera House during National Reconciliation Week in May 2021, attended by Ms Bulger.

She said the change to the lyrics made on New Year's Eve was a small step and the new verses 'would mean that we could truly celebrate our anthem because it would include us, the First Nations people, and the special places that are around Australia'.

Advance Australia Fair was chosen as the de facto national anthem in a 1977 plebiscite by just over 8.4 million voters who picked the song over God Save the Queen, Waltzing Matilda and Song of Australia.

It was officially adopted as the national anthem on April 19, 1984 on the recommendation of the federal government.

The song was composed by the Scottish-born Peter Dodds McCormick, first performed in 1878 and was sung in Australia as a patriotic song.


Verse 2 - Our People

For sixty thousand years and more

First peoples of this land

Sustained by Country, Dreaming told

By song and artist's hand.

Unite our cultures from afar

In peace with those first here

To walk together on this soil

Respect for all grows there.

From everywhere on Earth we sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Verse 3 - Our Values

In times of drought and flood and fire

When all but hope is gone

Australians join with helping hands

And wattle blooms again.

Tomorrow may this timeless land

Live for our young to share

From red-rock heart to sun-filled shore

Our country free and fair.

Beneath the Southern Cross we sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath the Southern Cross we sing, Advance Australia Fair.

Christian verse:

With Christ our head and cornerstone,
We’ll build our nation’s might,
Whose way and truth and light alone,
Can guide our path aright.
Our lives, a sacrifice of love,
Reflect our Master’s care.
With faces turned to heaven above,
Advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.


Premier vows NSW WON'T go back into lockdown and will remain open to the world despite global fears over new Omicron Covid variant

Premier Dominic Perrottet has vowed NSW will stay open and forge ahead with its Covid roadmap despite fears about the Omicron variant.

NSW Health confirmed on Sunday urgent genomic testing found two travellers who touched down in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday night have the new strain.

The latest virus mutation, first detected in South Africa, sparked concerns around the globe amid fears it is more transmissible than world's most contagious and dominant strain, Delta.

But Mr Perrotet said Omicron could be contained and the state's timeline of lifting restrictions at 95 per cent vaccination or on December 15 was on track.

He said 'for the moment' he intended to stick with the state's plan as NSW could not be a 'hermit kingdom on the other side of the world'.

'Ultimately, we not only need to learn to live alongside the virus, but live alongside the variants as well,' he said.

'This pandemic is not over. These variants will continue, cases will continue to rise and the best thing we can do to keep the community safe, keep your family safe is to go out and get vaccinated and get that booster shot when you can.'

Experts say mask wearing, social distancing and better ventilation will help prevent all variants of Covid-19, including Omicron

Mr Perrotet said it was inevitable that Omicron would seep onto our shores. 'If you look at Delta… how quickly that come into countries around the world, the prime minister cancelled flights into here,' he said.

'The reality is these variants are highly transmissible and that means it is almost certain it will get into countries around the world. That is the reality of the situation.

'We can’t look at the world as we want it to be, we need to look at the situation as it is.'


‘Vandals’: Victoria, Queensland fume over federal climate intervention

The Morrison government has used sweeping new powers to override state and territory government support for an international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The federal government has deployed recently passed laws to overturn the participation of five states and territories in the global Under 2 Coalition.

In an email dated 23 November, an official with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told his counterpart in the Victorian government that its participation in the coalition was “no longer in operation”.

The email warned the Victorian government that under the new Foreign Relations (States and Territories) Act 2020, sign up to the agreement was now illegitimate.

The email said Victoria had 14 days to tell the global organisation it had “failed to properly classify” the state’s involvement in a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding.

Two-hundred-and-sixty sub-national governments worldwide have signed up to the the Under 2 coalition, representing 1.75 billion people and 50% of the global economy. Members commit to keeping global temperature rises to well below 2C, with efforts to reach 1.5C. Thirty-five states and regions in the coalition have committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

“[T]he MOU has also been invalidated for a number of other states and territories,” the official said, naming the ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia. He did not cite NSW, which has lately signed up.

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s energy, environment and climate change minister, said Dfat had used a technicality that was “illogical” to cancel her state’s participation.

“It’s just a really ridiculous technicality,” D’Ambrosio said. “It’s egregious. They are vandals.”

The move came less than a fortnight after the Glasgow climate summit ended. The Morrison government had weathered extensive criticism at the event for being among the few rich nations to avoid raising their 2030 emission reduction targets.

“This is going to be a global embarrassment, not for the Victorian government but the federal government that has already covered itself in ridicule on the climate change stage,” D’Ambrosio said. “Rather than addressing the urgency of climate change, they are actually putting forward more barriers.”

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the Under 2 Coalition MOU had not come to the minister for a decision.

“The MOU was not properly notified by the relevant states and territory under the Foreign Relations Act 2020 and was therefore automatically invalidated by operation of the Act,” the spokesperson said.

Dfat was also approached for comment, as was energy minister Angus Taylor.

The Dfat official suggested in the email if Victoria wanted to sign up to the Under 2 coalition’s 2021 MOU, his department would consider approving it. He also said Victoria should join with other jurisdictions to make a single submission.

“Under what conditions would they be prepared to consider an application?” D’Ambrosio said. “Are they saying that if there’s one or two states that maybe hadn’t wanted to pursue it or have delayed it, then everyone else will be held up?”

Meaghan Scanlon, Queensland’s minister for the environment and the Great Barrier Reef, said her state had also received the cancellation advice.

“Clearly, the Morrison government aren’t content with their own failures on climate change, they’re now trying to stop the states from taking action.” she said.

“Surely their time would be better spent funding renewable energy projects or delivering a credible policy on reducing emissions, than on playing silly bureaucratic games,” Scanlon said.


Another 10 million students under education growth plan

Australia should shake up its $40 billion international student sector to shift the focus to teaching online and offshore, the government says, arguing that an extra 10 million students could benefit from an Australian education over the next 20 years.

In its new 10-year international education strategy, the government says Australia should look to Britain which in 2019 taught 407,000 students in offshore arrangements, compared to 117,000 – or 22 per cent – by Australian education providers.

The new strategy says Australia must diversify where students come from and what and where they study. Louie Douvis

Experts, however, say the prospect of living and working in Australia is a strong drawcard for students.

“We know that the vast majority of international students still want to study onshore in Australia for a significant proportion of their studies,” said Jake Foster, chief commercial officer with education consultancy AECC Global.

“The government is actively encouraging and supporting students to start their studies offshore, which could help grow the Australian international education sector in the years ahead.”

The international education strategy for 2021-2030 also says Australia must diversify the number of countries from which students are sourced and diversify the courses in which they study.

While China and India are the highest source countries for all major international education destinations, Australia has the highest concentration of them, with 58 per cent of students arriving from those two countries. That is compared to 50 per cent for the US and Canada and 36 per cent for Britain.

The strategy argues that study for an Australian qualification and the right to live and work in Australia for a time following graduation should be linked as a means of driving skilled workers into the economy.

Alignment with skills priorities

The strategy notes that almost half of all international students who study in Australia are enrolled in business and management courses, but there would be greater benefit for the country if they were to graduate in priority skills areas such as computing.

“Better aligning program choices with priority employment fields will delivery more job-ready graduates in the disciplines and regions where they are most needed,” the strategy reads.

The strategy argues that the diversification of source countries and study areas will improve the educational experience for international and domestic students.

Brett Blacker, chief executive of English Australia, which represents the country’s English language, or ELICOS, colleges, said teaching students online and offshore required a trade-off with the soft diplomacy and flow-on economic benefits of teaching students onshore.

“But that doesn’t mean they have to be mutually exclusive. We can build some pipelines through students doing some of their program offshore and then coming to Australia,” Mr Blacker said.

Vicki Thomson, chief executive of the Group of Eight, said concentration of Chinese students in the group’s universities was higher still at 68 per cent, with just 5 per cent from India.

Students, skilled migrants are next priority entrants
“Clearly, diversifying into alternative markets is going to take time,” Ms Thomson said.

She also said most international students in Go8 universities were postgraduates in fields such as engineering and science.

“These are precisely the skills that we need to address our current skill shortages and research demands,” she said.

Over the past two years, the number of international students enrolled in Australian institutions has dropped by 150,000. The sector was valued at $40 billion to the economy in 2019 and is expected to be worth half that by the end of the year.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


Sunday, November 28, 2021

CSIRO study proves climate change driving Australia’s 800% boom in bushfires

This is a childish level of logic. There is no doubt that weather changes impact fires but PROVING that the weather changes are due to global warming shows no awarenes of the scientific and philosophical requirements for proving anything. As David Hume pointed out, you have to show constant conjunction between two things to substantiate a claim of causation and there is NO constant conjunction between any meteorological phenonena. Weak probabilities are all we have.

And there is no recognition below that Greenie restrictions on good forest management have increased the risk and severity of fires. There IS constant conjunction between restrictions on backburning and the severity of fires in the area

I have read the academic article concerned ("Multi-decadal increase of forest burned area in Australia is linked to climate change") and it goes to great length to prove what was in no doubt -- that fires have been on the increase in recent years

Of greater interest is what they found to correlate with fire incidence and severity. Their contribution there is assertions plus some desultory modelling. And the data they put into modelling is of the low quality that we have come to expect of modelling in this area. Let me quote their look at preventive burning:

We found no changes in the mean annual area of prescribed burning over the past 32 years, although we have no information on how successful those burns were in reducing fuel loads. However, given the lack of trend and the fact that on average, only 1% of forests are subject to fuel reduction burns every year, it is very likely that fuel management had no effect on the observed multi-decadal increasing trend in the burned area of forest fires

They correlate "prescribed" burning and admit that such figures tell us nothing. What is prescribed and what Greenies allow to happen are two different things. Their figures are clearly rubbish, as are their conclusions

But here is the clincher. I quote:

"The research also found Australia is bucking an international trend of decreasing fire activity"

If nobody else is getting the trend, how come it is due to global warming? Can you have global warming in one country? Is it global or is it not? Yet another logical failure in this pathetic study.

Climate change is the dominant factor causing the increased size of bushfires in Australia’s forests, according to a landmark study that found the average annual area burned had grown by 800 per cent in the past 32 years.

The peer-reviewed research by the national science agency, CSIRO — published in the prestigious science journal, Nature — reveals evidence showing changes in weather due to global warming were the driving force behind the boom in Australia’s bushfires.

Lead author and CSIRO chief climate research scientist Pep Canadell said the study established the correlation between the Forest Fire Danger Index – which measures weather-related vegetation dryness, air temperature, wind speed and humidity – and the rise in area of forest burned since the 1930s.

“It’s so tight, it’s so strong that clearly when we have these big fire events, they’re run by the climate and the weather,” Dr Canadell said.

The bushfire royal commission identified climate change as a key risk to ongoing bushfire catastrophe but did not make recommendations about reducing greenhouse emissions to curb the threat.

The CSIRO report found other factors have an impact on the extent and intensity of bushfires such as the amount of vegetation or fuel load in a forest, the time elapsed since the last fire, and hazard reduction burning. But Dr Canadell said the study showed the link between weather and climate conditions and the size of bushfires was so tight, it was clear these factors far outweighed all other fire drivers.

“Almost regardless of what we do the overall extent of the fire, really, is dictated by those climate conditions,” he said.

Climate scientists have found climate change is exacerbating the key fire risk factors identified by CSIRO’s study, with south-eastern Australia becoming hotter, drier and, in a particularly worrying trend, more prone to high wind on extremely hot and dry summer days.

The weather system that drove a blast furnace’s worth of westerly wind across NSW and Victoria’s forests, sparking some of the worst fires of the Black Summer in 2019-20, will be up to four times more likely to occur under forecast levels of global warming.

“All the various climate trends, which are so important, are all on the rise and they’re all connected to various degrees with anthropogenic climate change,” Dr Canadell said.

The study shows fires are becoming bigger and more common even when the Black Summer is not factored in. When the first half of the study period, from 1988 to 2001, is compared to the period between 2002 and 2018, the average annual forest burned area in Australia increased 350 per cent. That figured ramps up to 800 per cent when the fires of 2019-20, which burnt more than 24 million hectares of land, are included.

Mega-fires, which burn more than 1 million hectares, have “markedly” increased with three of the four recorded from 1930 occurring since 2000, while the gap between big blazes has had a “rapid decrease”, the study says.

Last year, the bushfire royal commission reported fuel-load management through hazard reduction burning “may have no appreciable effect under extreme conditions” that typically cause loss of life and property.

The CSIRO findings bolster that conclusion and call into question calls for native forest logging to be used as a bushfire management tool.

“This is happening regardless of anything that we might or might not do to try to stop the fires,” Dr Canadell said.

The increased frequency of bushfires is giving the bush less and less time to recover, which is changing ecosystems and threatening the survival of many plants and animals that are struggling to adapt to the pace of change and loss of habitat.


Melbourne's anti-vaxxers have started placing Nazi-themed stickers around city. Stickers show Star of David, image of Adolf Hitler and a syringe with messaging

image from https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2021/11/25/12/50962997-10242523-Melbourne_s_anti_vaxxers_have_started_placing_stickers_around_th-m-157_1637844002352.jpg

I am a great fan of vaccines. I have had them all. But I fundamentally object to compulsion in the matter. I had no side-effects at all from my two Astra Zeneca shots but most people do get side-effects of varying degrees of severity, including death. In the circumstances, people are surely entitled to say "No thanks".

So using Nazi imgery is a very clear way of emphasizing that government tyranny can be a very bad thing. I think the handling of the coronavirus by methods copied from Communist China will go down in history as one of the great medical disasters

Melbourne's anti-vaxxers have started placing stickers around the city controversially comparing themselves to Jews in the Holocaust as they continue to protest against mandatory vaccinations.

The stickers, which have been spotted around the Victorian capital in recent weeks, show three images - the Star of David, Adolf Hitler and a syringe.

'What's the difference between vaccine papers and a yellow star? 82 years. We are increasingly living under National Socialiam. Stop medical apartheid,' the message reads.

The stickers have caused outrage in the Jewish community, with community leaders calling for the government to take a stand against the propaganda.

They have been placed on walls, street signs and crossings around the city, usually in areas of high foot traffic.

The Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission said the comparison between anti-vaxxers and slaughtered Jews was 'hateful and cruel'.

'To hijack the Holocaust, in which six million Jews and millions of others were slaughtered and burned, to suggest that Hitler's Final Solution is comparable to lifesaving vaccination efforts is to trivialise and downplay humanity's most immense tragedy,' Dr Dvir Abramovich said.


New Australian laws to unmask anonymous online trolls and make tech giants pay

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced he is set to introduce new internet safety legislation as a way to allow 'real world rules' to exist in the digital world.

If the companies refuse or are unable to identify who made the defamatory comments, then they will have to pay the defamation costs.

Announcing the measures on Sunday, Mr Morrison said the internet should not be a “wild west where bots and bigots and trolls” can harm people without consequence.

He said women and children were the people most affected by anonymous bullying and defamatory abuse online and there needed to be a “quick and fast way” for people to raise these issues with the platforms and get it taken down.

“Free speech is not being allowed to cowardly hide in your basement and sledge … and harass people anonymously and seek to destroy their lives,” Mr Morrison said. “That is cowardice — and there is no place for that in this country.”

Mr Morrison said the online giants needed to be held accountable for the world they had created, to ensure there was a “quick and easy” method for users to address harassment.

“They have created the space, and they need to make it safe, and if they won’t, we will make them laws such as this, and I will campaign for these all around the world as I have done on so many other occasions with Australia taking the lead.”

Social media giants will also have to establish online customer shopfronts in Australia to make sure they comply with orders as part of the measures.

The centrepiece crackdown on online trolls will be a change to the law to make it clear social media providers are responsible for payouts arising from defamatory comments on their platform where the troll cannot be identified.

The measures will force social media companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, to create a complaints scheme which will allow victims to know if comments were made in Australia and, if so, to obtain the contact details of the poster, with their consent.

If that is unsuccessful, a complainant will also be able to seek a new form of court order, to be called an “End-user Information Disclosure Order”, which will allow a social media company to unmask trolls without consent.

Mr Morrison said the government would seek test cases because it was aware that most litigants in defamation cases against social media giants will be outgunned financially.

He said the government was prepared to intervene in defamation disputes involving social media companies to support victims and make it clear to the courts how it thinks the Commonwealth legislation should be applied.

The laws were first flagged by Mr Morrison at last month’s G20 summit in Rome, where he proposed a new round of coordinated action to protect people online.

Australia and other countries have joined forces at previous G20 summits to impose tougher rules on digital companies, including an agreement in Osaka two years ago when France backed a push to halt the spread of violent terrorism online after the Christchurch attacks.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said the measures would also “bring clarity” to the High Court decision in September when it dismissed an appeal by some of Australia’s biggest media outlets including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, finding they are the publishers of third-party comments on their Facebook pages.

The court found that, by running the Facebook pages, the media groups participated in communicating any defamatory material in the case of former Northern Territory detainee Dylan Voller which were posted by third parties and were therefore responsible for the comments.

“Social media services, they need to step up and they need to understand that they have a responsibility in this regard, and that is why this important step, providing clarity to all Australians, but in particular to social media companies - you will be deemed to be publisher,” she said.


‘Grotesque, leftwing back-scratching’: failed Senate inquiry into ABC leaves Coalition enraged

A coalition of Labor and Green senators managed to head off an inquiry into the ABC complaints process – which was labelled “politically motivated” by ABC chair Ita Buttrose – but the manoeuvre left some Liberal senators apoplectic.

Queensland senator James McGrath described the 11th hour block as a “grotesque, leftwing, back-scratching orgy of flatulent arrogance from the ABC and those on the left” and called for the ABC to be broken up and Triple J to be sold off.

Related: Senate inquiry into ABC suspended after Labor and Greens motion gets cross-bench support

The deputy whip’s personal attack on the prime minister’s captain’s pick for ABC chair was unprecedented, seemingly more personal than Michael Kroger’s spray in June, when the former Victorian Liberal powerbroker said Buttrose was a “hopeless failure” and should resign.

“This ABC who sneers at us is led by an arrogant chair who sees the ABC as a country apart from Australia,” McGrath told the Senate. “And that is quite sad. The inevitable result of decades of free rein, of grossly excessive budgets and diminished accountability, is that we’ve ended up with an inner-city hive of woke workers, hiring woke friends to do their woke work in their quest to ‘wokify’ the world.

“But in conjunction with the first-night crowd, the chair of the ABC and her fellow first-nighters are at the opera, chinking their champagne glasses, sneering at middle Australia and at those who believe in a pluralistic, diverse media market.”

The decision by the Senate to delay the inquiry was a win for Buttrose who had called a week ago on the upper house to act to “defend the independence of the ABC”.

The government inquiry was sprung on the ABC days after the ABC’s complaints division told Fox News it had not upheld any of the complaints made in a lengthy submission about a Four Corners program on the News Corp broadcaster aired in August.

The ABC, which returns to Senate estimates on Monday, declined to comment.

An issues paper by the ABC’s independent review of its complaints handling is due to be released on Friday, and it will call for public submissions.

Professor John McMillan, a former commonwealth and NSW ombudsman and one of the co-reviewers, said a story in the Australian claiming the aborted parliamentary inquiry had put pressure on the external inquiry to call for public submissions was wrong.

“It is incorrect to suggest that the independent inquiry into ABC complaint handling I am conducting with Jim Carroll has only recently decided to invite public submissions,” McMillan said on Friday. “A public inquiry and submission process was planned from day one.

“A standard inquiry practice is to invite public submissions following initial consultations and preparation of an issues paper. That practice has been followed in this inquiry. An issues paper will shortly be released.”


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


Friday, November 26, 2021

Top Australian Official: We’re Transferring COVID-19 Patients to Quarantine Camps

The story below is from an American publication, apparently based on a Facebook post and a story in The Guardian.

To comprehend it you need to know that it refers to Aboriginal settlements. The inhabitants are totally welfare-dependant and famously inert in response to all government initiatives and requirements

Australian authorities are removing COVID-19-positive patients and residents in the Northern Territory to a quarantine camp in Howard Springs, after nine cases were identified in the community of Binjari, according to a local official.

Hard lockdowns were implemented in Binjari and nearby Rockhole on Nov. 20, according to Northern Territory’s chief minister.

“Residents of Binjari and Rockhole no longer have the five reasons to leave their homes,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said in a Facebook post dated Nov. 20. Australia’s five allowable reasons for people to leave their homes include going to work or school, buying food or supplies, exercising, caregiving, or getting vaccinated.

Officials have “identified five additional close contacts in Borroloola that had not previously been known to us. … They have all tested negative, and they are being transferred to Howard Springs,” he said.

Gunner said on Nov. 21 that eight people have been taken to a facility in Howard Springs, the Guardian reported.

“It’s highly likely that more residents will be transferred to Howard Springs today, either as positive cases or close contacts,” Gunner said. “We have already identified 38 close contacts from Binjari, but that number will go up. Those 38 are being transferred now.”

According to the Northern Territory government website, those who are taken to Howard Springs or the other quarantine camp, the Alice Springs Quarantine Facility, and “do not undergo a test, you will be required to remain in quarantine a further 10 days at your own expense.”

On Nov. 22, Police Commissioner and Territory Controller Jamie Chalker confirmed to news outlets that a 77-year-old man who was on an international repatriation flight died at the Howard Springs quarantine site over the weekend.

“He was an international repat. Obviously, he was a 77-year-old individual,” Chalker said, local media reported. “We’re just looking at whether they had any existing other issues, but certainly the initial advice is not indicating that it was a death relating to COVID.”

Over the weekend, thousands of people demonstrated in multiple Australian cities against vaccine mandates. About 85 percent of the eligible population is currently vaccinated as of Nov. 19.

In recent months, concerns have been raised about Australia’s federal and state governments’ COVID-19 emergency lockdowns and restrictions. For example, Melbourne has endured likely the longest lockdown in the world.

“There are concerns among parts of the community about some pandemic management legislation that the state government is currently trying to pass through the upper house of Parliament,” Melbourne-based journalist Dana Morse told Al Jazeera. “That bill has stalled, but people are concerned about the amount of power that the state government will have if the bill passes.”


Commonwealth to support private sector in gas push

Taxpayers will fund the private sector to accelerate gas exploration across Australia, with the federal government’s new strategy pinpointing locations off the coast of Victoria and the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Basin as priorities for development.

The national gas infrastructure plan, released on Friday, says the government must act to alleviate the risk of gas supply shortfalls and support companies to open up new gas basins and construct gas pipelines.

A fortnight after nations at the Glasgow climate meeting, including Australia, affirmed the need to keep global warming within 1.5°C and phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies, the new plan has angered climate and environment groups, which describe it as “corporate welfare”.

Under the plan, the Commonwealth will support the private sector to search for viable gas fields and develop an extensive network of new pipelines and related infrastructure. The plan’s modelling suggests at least one new basin will be required to meet projected domestic and export requirements.

“There may be circumstances where private sector investment is not available in time to ensure priority infrastructure projects are in place when required,” the plan says. “In such conditions, the government stands ready to drive new infrastructure development.”

The 36-page plan document, which does not mention climate change, was released along with an investment document that details which types of projects would be prioritised.

Australia’s energy market operator, AEMO, has warned that Victoria and the other southern states face a shortfall of natural gas on peak-demand winter days by 2024, and probable gas price rises.

To date, $285 million has been committed by the federal government to the development of private gas projects, including $224 million for the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory and $21 million for Queensland’s North Bowen and Galilee Basin.

The gas industry’s expansion sets Australia at odds with the global shift towards renewables. Earlier this year the International Energy Agency released analysis that found the global route to net zero emissions was “narrow and extremely challenging”, and that no new fossil fuel projects should be approved.

The federal priorities include the development of the Port Kembla gas terminal in NSW, and envisages opening up new gas basins. The Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory should be brought into production by 2025, Narrabri in NSW from 2026 and Queensland’s Galilee and North Bowen basins in production by 2028, the plan says.

The plan also identifies potential offshore supply from the Bass, Otway and Gippsland basins. But the majority of new southern fields within these basins are in the ‘discovery’ phase, and it is unclear when production might start.

Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said the fracking industry in the Northern Territory, still in an exploratory phase, was being supported by “corporate welfare”.

“The Morrison government would be better off giving taxpayer money to just about any other industry if it wanted to seriously stimulate the economy,” Mr Sawyer said.

The Climate Council’s head of research, Dr Simon Bradshaw, described the plan as a “disaster”. “What part of gas is a polluting fossil fuel does this government not understand? The science is very clear: to avoid a climate catastrophe, fossil fuels must stay in the ground,” he said.

The plan underlines the government’s interest in developing its so-called “clean” hydrogen industry, noting hydrogen may be produced using gas and that carbon emissions could be stored using the controversial practice of carbon capture and storage. This would not be classed as “green” hydrogen, which is produced with renewable energy.

Not everyone is convinced Australia faces a looming gas shortage. Environment Victoria analysis found there is enough gas supply capacity in Victoria until 2027.

Over the following three years there is a shortfall of between 26 petajoules (PJ) and 85 PJ, but the adoption of gas-demand reduction measures, like increasing energy efficiency and electrification, eliminates the forecast shortfall.


Iron ore prices back up

Iron ore producers are holding steady this morning, avoiding a post-rally sell-off after iron ore grasped at the significant US$100/t mark overnight.

Iron ore US$100© Stockhead Australia Iron ore US$100
It came after a day of barnstorming trade in iron ore futures and producers, following signals China was planning to ease its fiscal policy to recover lost economic growth.

That has fuelled suggestions China will unwind steel production curbs in December, with October figures suggesting its ambitious plans to constrain steel output to 2020 levels will be met.

Steel output across the world fell 10.3% in October to 145.7Mt, a fall almost entirely attributable to China, which produced 3.5 year lows of 71.6Mt (down 23.3% on October 2020).

Production was well up in other markets like the US, Brazil, India and Japan, but China’s role in the steel sector is so substantial its trade with Australian iron ore producers effectively sets iron ore prices.

Benchmark 62% fines were trading for US$99.83/t on Tuesday according to Fastmarkets MB.

Fortescue (ASX:FMG), Rio (ASX:RIO), Champion Iron (ASX:CIA), MinRes (ASX:MIN) and BHP (ASX:BHP) will fall well short of the radical gains they posted yesterday – FMG was up almost 10% – but are all comfortably in the green this morning.


Melbourne council to ditch slave-link name

This is absurd. "Moreland" is a perfectly normal Anglo name. Google records 17 million uses of it. Are they all wrong and racist?

A Melbourne council is making moves to change its name after discovering its namesake was a Jamaican slave estate.

Traditional owners and other community representatives presented the City of Moreland with information showing the name came from land between Moonee Ponds Creek to Sydney Road, that Farquhar McCrae acquired in 1839.

He named the land 'Moreland' after a Jamaican slave plantation his father and grandfather had operated from 1770 to 1796, which produced sugar, rum and slave trading with 500 to 700 enslaved people there in any one year.

In 1994 the local government areas of the City of Brunswick, the City of Moreland and part of Broadmeadows were amalgamated and the state government named the new local government area Moreland.

Mayor Mark Riley said the council was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the discovery. "The history behind the naming of this area is painful, uncomfortable and very wrong. It needs to be addressed," he said.

"Moreland stands firmly against racism, we are one community, proudly diverse. Council is committed to working with Wurundjeri people and we take the request very seriously."

A new name would be developed after a consultation process with the Moreland community, but ultimately it is the state government that must make the change.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Regulator decided against cancelling the license of a tradesman guilty of sex assaults

The grub took advantage of women when he was in their house doing building work

Internal documents have revealed the real reason why the building regulator delayed taking action against a tradie who had pleaded guilty to multiple sexual assaults.

Queensland’s embattled building industry watchdog decided against immediately cancelling the licence of a convicted sex offender earlier this year because he was considered “unlikely’’ to break the law again.

Internal case file notes from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission seen by The Courier Mail also reveal that bureaucrats failed to get a copy of the judge’s sentencing remarks when making the decision.

Instead, they relied on the text of an ABC news article online which quoted the judge saying Townsville tradie William Emanuel Camilleri was not likely to reoffend.

Mr Camilleri pleaded guilty and was convicted in August of eight counts of sexual assault against five women while he was carrying out renovation work in their homes. He was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for three years.

The QBCC documents show the agency became aware of the charges against Mr Camilleri when they were first laid in May 2019.

“The QBCC immediately opened a fit and proper investigation but could not take any action as the Human Rights Act section 32(1) states person (sic) charged with a criminal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law,’’ the notes say.

That contradicts subsequent comments from the responsible minister, Mick de Brenni, who blamed two former senior licensing officers for failing to immediately revoke the license right after Camilleri was charged.

“On 11 August 2021 QBCC received verbal advice that Mr Camilleri had been convicted of sexual assault charges. We immediately commenced action, sending Mr Camilleri a Notice of Reasons for Proposed Cancellation or Suspension (NRPCS) of his license,’’ the notes say.

“The QBCC considered an immediate suspension at the time however it was determined that we cannot meet the legislated test for an immediate suspension that we reasonably believe there is a real likelihood that serious harm will occur to the parties identified in Section 49A.’’

The parties referred to in that section of the QBCC Act include consumers, as well as other licensees, employees and suppliers.

“The known offending occurred between 25 May 2016 and 27 March 2019, the QBCC has no evidence to suggest that any offending has occurred after 27 March 2019,’’ the notes say.

“In addition, while we do not have a copy of the sentencing remarks to consider the statement in full, the abc (sic) news article states ‘The judge said Camilleri had no criminal history and was unlikely to reoffend’.

“Based on the above we cannot meet the legislated test for an immediate suspension.’’

The notes indicate that Mr Camilleri’s solicitors contacted the QBCC and requested an extension of time to respond to the proposed licence cancellation or suspension. They were given until October 6.

When The Courier Mail revealed in late September that Camilleri remained able to work in the industry despite his conviction more than a month earlier, Mr de Brenni responded immediately that “regulatory action to cancel or suspend the license has been commenced and will be rigorously pursued’’.

It still took another two weeks after that comment for the QBCC to finally cancel the license.

Last week, Mr de Brenni announced an independent governance review of the QBCC which will be led by Jim Varghese, a former government department director-general and current Springfield City Group director.

That move followed months of damning claims of improper ministerial and board intervention into regulatory matters. Largely as result of this alleged interference, more than two dozen senior executive have resigned from the QBCC over the past two years.

“There is an awful management culture at QBCC,’’ one of these former executives said.

“They seem to have forgotten that the QBCC exists to protect the community and the honest builders and tradies. What’s worse is that when things do go wrong, they seem to either pretend not to see it or blame others to deflect personal accountability.”

Tim Mander, the shadow Minister for Housing and Public Works, said the case “proves the state’s building watchdog is an out-of-touch, rudderless mess’’.

“It beggars belief that the QBCC didn’t do its proper due diligence after such a serious offence was brought to light,’’ Mr Mander said.

“Camilleri’s offences weren’t ‘one off’ … he was convicted of serial sex offences. The risk to the community is too great for him to ever be considered a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a builder’s licence.

“Instead of checking with the courts, the QBCC did a Google search. This man pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting women in their homes but the QBCC allowed him to continue operating due to a technicality and a Google search.

“The organisation has no genuine leadership and that starts with the Minister.’’

A spokesman for Mr de Brenni declined to comment on Tuesday.

A QBCC spokesman confirmed the licences for both Mr Camilleri and his building company were cancelled on October 7. But he would not elaborate on the decision-making process leading up to that point.

“The QBCC determined that he was not a fit and proper person to hold a contractor’s licence, having regard to his conviction for an indictable offence,’’ he said.


Fanatical warmist high school teacher allegedly berated students who wanted airconditioning turned on in 30C-plus heat

Schoolteachers are refusing to turn on classroom airconditioning, citing climate change as the reason to keep the kids sweating, a frustrated parent has claimed.

The father of a student at Corinda State High School in Brisbane’s west claims the teacher refused cool air relief to uncomfortable Year 9 pupils on November 4, saying she would consider turning it on if the temperature hit 40C.

The Courier-Mail has been told the aircon has remained off since that date, including days over 30C with extreme humidity

The parent claims the teacher berated the class about their lack of interest in climate change and called them “ignorant and selfish”. Corinda State High School has solar panels generating 266.6kW of power.

As the Queensland Government works towards completing its $447 million program to install airconditioners in all state schools by next June, the parent said teachers needed to be aware of what the Department of Education’s policy was on airconditioning, and needed to adhere to the policy regardless of any personal climate change beliefs.

“Several pupils spoke up to the teachers requesting aircon,” the parent said. “She advised the students she’d reconsider the request if the temperature reached 40C – a preposterous position by any reckoning.

“She didn’t appreciate the way the students were thinking about the issue of climate change and they should be grateful previous generations are doing things to prevent climate change.

“Her comments are unwarranted, abusive and harassing — contrary to her obligations under the fiduciary relationship which exists in her classroom.”

The parent claims the school has not responded to an email asking for an apology to the Year 9 students.

The use of airconditioning and its impact on the planet is a hot topic as the warmer it gets the more airconditioning is used.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said that the department is aware that an anonymous complaint email was received.

“To date, the anonymous complainant has not responded to the principal’s invitation to address their concerns,” she said.

“The school has diligently investigated these claims, however, none of the classroom students confirmed the allegations or expressed concerns regarding classroom temperatures or the teacher’s conduct.

“Teachers use airconditioning in their classrooms as needed to ensure that everyone in the classroom benefits from the best conditions for learning.”


Dan Andrews' government is slammed as lockdowns leave thousands in agony while they wait months for life-changing surgery

After years living with an aggressive form of endometriosis, Danielle Noon has spent the past six months waiting for life-changing surgery.

It took four years for her to be diagnosed with the condition which can cause painful periods, cramping, nausea, back and bowel pain.

Earlier this year she found out she had deep infiltrating endometriosis and was booked in for surgery. But Ms Noon will have to wait in agony for at least another six months.

Last week she was told her private hospital procedure, scheduled for mid-December, had been delayed due to surgery caps imposed by the Victorian government.

"I basically spent two days crying. I'm exhausted and this has completely broken my spirit," she told AAP. "I was literally counting down how many periods I'd have to go through until I could get surgery."

Her operation has been postponed until March or April 2022. She will soon enter her last year at university, with a busy few months of work placements ahead. "The thought of navigating all my placements next year, still in this amount of pain each month, seems unbearable," she said. "I honestly don't have the tools to be able to deal with a setback like this."

The surgery is needed to stop tissue growing, which could break through her bowel wall. Despite this, her procedure is considered non-urgent.

Ms Noon is one of thousands facing delays, after 18 months of changing COVID-19 restrictions led to significant wait lists. As of September 30, 67,000 Victorians were waiting for elective surgeries.

Two weeks ago the state government allowed hospitals to increase surgeries up to 50 per cent capacity, but health bodies say this is not enough.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons says government plans to gradually increase elective surgeries are "too slow" and risked running into Christmas, when many health workers will take holidays.

RACS has sent a proposal to the state's health department to support "rapid" change to the current system, calling for the 50 per cent cap to be removed.

"We believe that the current stabilisation of the COVID-19 situation with high vaccination rates, fall in the number of COVID-19 cases and a gradual reduction in hospital in-patient ICU cases presents an ideal window of opportunity for government to restore surgery to full capacity," president Sally Langley said.

It is calling for more transparency about how these decisions are made, and said many small private hospitals should be permitted to recommence surgery with no cap, since they do not form part of the COVID response.

Additionally, larger hospitals "have significant unused operative capacity" that could be used to address private and public sector wait lists.

The Australian Private Hospitals Association said anyone waiting for surgery at a private hospital is facing "long waits for some time to come".

APHA chief executive Lucy Cheetham said deferred procedures included total knee and hip replacements and cataract surgery, impacting a patient's ability "to move around or to see".

A Victorian government spokeswoman said it would "continue to adopt a staged approach" to increasing non-urgent surgeries.

"We always said we would increase our elective surgery capacity when we could and we'll have more to say soon on any further capacity increases," she said.


Morrison's religious discrimination bill could face High Court showdown as Victoria digs in

The Andrews government has vowed to fight attempts by the federal government to override state anti-discrimination laws, paving the way for a possible High Court stoush over religious rights.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans to personally introduce his controversial Religious Discrimination Bill within days, to deliver on a pledge three years ago to protect religious freedom.

At the same time, the Victorian Parliament is debating equal opportunity law amendments that ban religious schools and other institutions from sacking or refusing to employ teachers because of their sexuality or gender identity or marital status.

The clash of the two bills, the latest battle in Australia's long-running culture wars, comes with both levels of government due for election next year.

On Wednesday, Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said while it was a "little unclear" what the Coalition's intentions were, she would not rule out any action - including a High Court challenge - to defend state laws.

She said she was waiting for legal advice before a decision about how to respond. "If there are any attempts to water down the Victorian laws, which aim to protect people in organisations from being discriminated against based on their sexuality, their marital status, etc, then I will be very firmly opposed to any measures that do that."

Rachel Colvin is a committed Christian who was effectively forced to resign from her job at Ballarat Christian College in 2019 after refusing to sign the school statement of faith that declared "marriage can only be between a male and a woman". Ms Colvin has a husband, Mark, and she has three children. She grew up in an evangelical Christian household and has been a missionary.

She had taught happily at the evangelical college since 2008 but in the wake of the marriage equality debate, the school sought to firm up its position on issues such as marriage and homosexuality.

"When I read this [the belief statement] I was immediately concerned. I knew that this didn't align with my Christian beliefs. I believe that God loves all of us," she said.

Ms Colvin offered to teach that the school had one view about marriage but there are other Christian views. "I was hoping we could agree to disagree."

But one morning she was called into a meeting and asked to resign. "It was such a devastating time for me. I truly loved my job. I loved the students. I worked with a great bunch of people."

After a long stand-off leaving Ms Colvin anxious and in poor health, she decided to leave the school as requested.

Under the Andrews government amendments to the Equal Opportunities Act, Ms Colvin would be better protected from discrimination. Under the Morrison bill, protections for people in Ms Colvin's position would be rolled back.

The revised federal bill includes a new provision to protect the right of religious schools to positively discriminate in their employment practices.

If passed, it would shield people who make a statement of belief as long as it is made in good faith, is in line with the teachings of their religion, is not malicious and does not vilify or harass.

In contrast, Victoria's proposal would leave religious schools in the state prohibited from sacking or refusing to employ teachers because of their sexuality or gender or marital status.

Victorian upper house MP Fiona Patten said if the federal bill were to pass in any form that threatened to override Victoria's anti-discrimination laws, the state government should launch a High Court challenge.

"Were it to pass, it would sideline Victoria's anti-discrimination tribunal


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Top scientist referred to corruption watchdog over alleged research misconduct

It looks like he has "massaged" his data to produce a more significant result

One of Australia’s leading cancer scientists, who secured almost $40 million in taxpayer-funded research grants, has been referred to Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission by his institute over allegations of research misconduct.

The Brisbane-based QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute confirmed to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on Monday it had referred Mark Smyth, until recently the institute’s head of immunology in cancer, to the commission following an external investigation into complaints about his research conduct.

The external investigation, headed by retired Appeal Court judge Robert Gotterson, found Professor Smyth had seriously breached codes of responsible research, the institute said in a statement. The findings of the investigation were referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission, it said.

The institute declined to detail the specific allegations made as the matter is now before the commission, but The Age understands they centre on data manipulation.

Professor Smyth could not be reached for comment.

A second independent review, to be headed by Bruce Lander, South Australia’s former Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, had also been commissioned into what the institute called a “broad range of issues” arising from the initial investigation, the institute said.

Professor Smyth is one of Australia’s foremost scientists and has received millions of dollars in government and commercial funding. The investigation is likely to have wide-ranging fallout across the research sector.

He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, which lists him as the “the most highly cited immunologist in Australia” whose “research has helped pave the way for effective immunotherapy of cancer, beginning with immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs”.

He had been awarded government research grants worth a total of $38.2 million as chief investigator, the National Health and Medical Research Council said.

The council confirmed it was considering taking action to recover the grant funds.

Professor Smyth is listed as a reviewing editor at Science, one of the world’s top scientific journals, and an honorary professor at the University of Queensland.

He was head of immunology at QIMR until recently. The institute said on Thursday he was now a former employee. He formerly headed the Cancer Immunology Program at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria.

In 2006, a paper in Nature Immunology he co-authored was retracted because it contained “several errors, including duplications … and incorrect reporting of … values that in some cases weakens the statistical significance”.

In 2015, a paper Professor Smyth co-authored in the Journal of Clinical Investigation had a correction notice attached because it also contained several duplications and errors.

In a statement, QIMR director and chief executive Fabienne Mackay said: “QIMR Berghofer is introducing a new robust research integrity framework under which all staff will be expected to operate, in consultation with leading research integrity experts.

“Our researchers and community deserve only the highest standards, and that is what we are going to deliver.”

Professor David Vaux, former deputy director of science, integrity and ethics at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said the case further reinforced the need for an office for research integrity in Australia.

“QIMR deserves kudos for handling this rigorously and properly,” he said. “Generally, things like this are swept under the rug in Australia because here, research integrity is self-regulated, which means conflicts of interest inevitably arise as people investigate their own colleagues.

“Twenty-three European countries, the US, Canada, Japan and China have national offices to handle research integrity. Australia is being left behind.”


The Victorian experience suggests that Queensland can reach a Covid victory

Victoria has emerged as the real-world example of living with Covid with a drop in hospitalisations despite high case numbers.

Just one fifth of Covid patients in the state’s hospitals are vaccinated, with more than 80 per cent requiring treatment unvaccinated.

Hospitalisation rates for Covid-19 in Victoria have more than halved in a month, despite the state dropping almost all lockdown restrictions.

There were 851 people in hospital with Covid in Victoria on October 18 and on Tuesday it was just 303.

Of those 97 in intensive care, including those who have recovered from Covid-19 but still need ongoing treatment.

That’s an overall drop of more than 64 per cent, as the state hits a sweet spot of high vaccination, strong immunity and warmer weather which has reduced cases across the globe.

Of those in hospital in Victoria on Tuesday, 77 per cent were not fully vaccinated – and 80 per cent of those in intensive care were not vaccinated.

Victorians aged 12 and over are 89.3 per cent fully vaccinated, with more than 93.5 per cent having one dose.

The state has continued to record the most Covid cases in the country with 827 in the community yesterday and on October 18 there were 1903 new local cases.

Leading epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely said Australia has no choice but to live with COVID-19, as Victoria becomes the testing ground of how to reopen with high case numbers.

Victoria had its “freedom day” last week even though it recorded 1,160 coronavirus cases on the same day.

During Melbourne’s lockdown the case numbers were a daily marker of the mood – with case numbers of more than 10 flattening the mood of the city.

But Premier Daniel Andrews, who had enforced the world’s longest lockdown on Melbourne, dropped his ambition for zero Covid-19 cases as vaccination rates improved.

Professor Blakely, of the University of Melbourne, said Victoria was in a sweet spot of high vaccination rates and immunity, but that was likely to wane as winter approached next year.

Queensland has a natural advantage because of it’s warmer weather and larger homes, which reduces the spread of Covid, Mr Blakely added.

“If people in Queensland are having parties outside on their verandas then that bodes well for them,” he said.

“We just have to brace ourselves for winter when everyone goes indoors (in Victoria).”

He said it was unclear if warmer weather reduced the spread of the virus, or if people spending more time outdoors contained outbreaks because Covid-19 spreads faster in confined spaces.

Either way, based on world evidence and the falling cases in Victoria and New South Wales, he said summer was a limiting factor on Covid-19.

There were 827 cases in Victoria on Tuesday, and sadly, 19 people died with the illness. Of those who died, only two were fully vaccinated.

The cases in Victoria are now overwhelmingly among younger, unvaccinated people, who generally do not need hospital treatment.

Britain’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health had “made clear” that “the overwhelming majority of children and young people still have no symptoms or very mild illness only.”

Australian Federal Health Department figures provided to the Courier Mail show that only 2.5 per cent of children who contracted Covid-19 attended hospital.

However, the Health Department cautioned that of those who were taken to hospital, some went only because they could not be looked after at home because their parents were sick.

Dr Nick Coatsworth, a former deputy chief medical officer who was the face of the Federal Government’s coronavirus advertising campaign, was critical of the Victorian Government’s approach.

He said the Victorian Government could have opened schools earlier than it did. “No, it’s not a fair system, Victoria is taking an overly cautious approach,” he said. “A study in the Journal Nature found there was no supporting evidence for shutting schools, based on research in late 2020.”

Prof Blakely said cases would be suppressed if primary school aged children were given the green light to get vaccinated in January.

Booster shots would be required at Easter to prevent another outbreak next winter, he added


Labor senator warns party about reacting to climate ‘extremists’

Victorian Labor senator Raff Ciccone has warned his colleagues against demonising regional industries, particularly forestry, as the federal opposition prepares to finalise its climate policy ahead of next year’s election.

In a speech to the Senate on Tuesday night, Senator Ciccone said “extremists” who sought to damage or disrupt the activities of timber workers were not only hurting the livelihoods of families but would make it harder for Australia to hit its climate goals.

The senator has been a vocal advocate for timber workers and has criticised his side of politics over the Victorian Labor government’s decision to phase out native forest harvesting from 2024, with a full shutdown by 2030.

The federal opposition is close to settling its climate policy, which is likely to include revised emissions reductions targets, but is wary of creating a blue-collar worker backlash after failing to convince voters over climate change during the past decade.

Senator Ciccone told the Senate on Tuesday evening the timber industry would prove critical to Australia’s hopes of hitting net zero by 2050, which the federal government officially signed up to at this month United Nations climate summit.

Labor climate policy poised to respond to PM scare tactics
“We cannot afford to be distracted by radicals more concerned with making themselves feel good than protecting our planet,” Senator Ciccone told the Senate.

“The real climate heroes are providing sustainable, green building materials to our construction industry. They are taking and storing carbon from our forests and re-growing the harvested trees to store even more carbon.”

He cited research from the Centre of Policy Studies at Victoria University, released earlier this month, which found the forestry industry would almost double as decarbonisation boosted tree planting to take advantage of bio-sequestration opportunities.

The report found a net-zero policy would lead to significant increases in forested land and increased sales of logs for processing and export as forest pulp.

Senator Ciccone said the paper showed the forestry industry was Australia’s greenest form of carbon capture and would need to grow to meet climate targets.

“Radical activists need to understand that attacking the timber industry is not going to prevent climate change. You are targeting an industry that needs to get bigger, not smaller, to protect our planet.”

He said the Coalition government also needed to show greater support for the industry by spruiking the role forestry would play in reaching emissions targets over the coming decades.

“The Morrison-Joyce government needs to understand that leadership isn’t just waving a brochure around at a press conference,” he said. “Leadership is assessing the impact of your decisions on the Australian economy, so we can help those who will need a leg-up and create the jobs of the future right here in Australia.”

The industry has argued Australia has untapped potential as a bioenergy powerhouse through industrial heat in the future renewable energy mix. The federal government’s road map forecast that bioenergy could make up a fifth of Australia’s resource potential.

Veteran CFMEU forestry union leader Michael O’Connor has criticised Victorian Labor’s “disgraceful” treatment of timber workers in the state and warned it was under­mining federal Labor’s pitch to voters that workers and communities reliant on transitioning industries would be looked after.

“Federal Labor’s task of convincing blue-collar workers and communities they will be looked after is threatened by the approach of the Andrews government toward timber workers and their communities. Because these workers are being thrown on the scrap heap,” Mr O’Connor said last month ahead of the Glasgow climate summit.


Religious Australians to get protection to make ‘statements of belief’

Australians will be able to make statements of religious belief under the protection of federal law in draft changes to a bill that sparked a warning about the risk to people who lose their jobs or suffer hurt because their sexuality is at odds with someone’s faith.

The federal government ended months of uncertainty by releasing a draft law to shield people who make a statement of belief as long as it is made in good faith, is in line with the teachings of their religion, is not malicious and does not vilify or harass.

Australians will be able to make statements of religious belief under the protection of federal law in draft changes to the Religious Discrimination Bill.
Australians will be able to make statements of religious belief under the protection of federal law in draft changes to the Religious Discrimination Bill.CREDIT:GETTY

Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans to introduce the Religious Discrimination Bill to Parliament personally within days to deliver on a pledge three years ago to protect religious freedom, but he faces major barriers in the Senate after LGBTQI activists called for a halt to the plan.

The revised bill includes a new provision to protect the right of religious schools to positively discriminate in their employment practices, with a clear intention to override state laws, including those being pursued by the Victorian government.

Equality Australia chief Anna Brown said the statement of belief provision would license “new forms of discrimination” by overriding state and territory laws and allowing remarks that would currently breach those laws.

Liberal MPs express concern over religious freedom bill
“All of the attempts to override state and territory and federal discrimination laws are extraordinarily unprecedented and extraordinarily dangerous in a democratic society like Australia,” Ms Brown said.

The stronger protections against discrimination being considered in Victoria are expected to be made to the state’s Equal Opportunity Act, one of the laws explicitly named in the new federal bill to be overridden.

The final draft confirms the removal of a clause that would have stopped employers acting against workers who make statements of faith that offend others, a case that arose when Rugby Australia terminated its contract with Israel Folau after he said homosexuals would go to hell.

The draft includes broader safeguards, however, that will intensify arguments about faith and sexuality while a Senate inquiry considers the details before a final vote next year.

The bill says a statement of belief does not constitute discrimination under other federal law and a list of equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws already in place in every state and territory.

The statement of belief has to be one of religious belief that is genuinely held and made in good faith and part of religious doctrine, although it could also be the statement of an atheist.

The new safeguard does not apply if the statement is malicious or something that a reasonable person would consider a threat, or would intimidate, harass or vilify a person or group.

A note to the draft bill says a “moderately expressed religious view that does not incite hatred or violence” would not constitute vilification.

A separate section protects religious bodies such as schools from claims of discrimination if they make decisions to hire or fire workers such as teachers.

“A religious body does not discriminate against a person... by engaging, in good faith, in conduct that a person of the same religion as the religious body could reasonably consider to be in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of that religion,” the draft says.

“Religious educational institutions must have a publicly available policy in relation to conduct in the context of employment.”

A note to the draft says the conduct might still breach the Sex Discrimination Act. While the government said teachers could not be sacked on the grounds of their sexual identity, Equality Australia disputed this and warned that LGBTQI teachers could be removed on religious grounds.

The draft also says this protection for religious bodies does not cover religious hospitals, aged care facilities, accommodation providers and disability service providers.

Liberal MPs spoke up in a tense meeting of the Coalition party room on Tuesday to warn against any move to rush the Religious Discrimination Bill through Parliament when the changes have split church and gender equality advocates.

The meeting ended with Coalition MPs expecting the bill to be introduced in the next few days before it is debated by Labor and decided in the lower house next week, clearing the way for a Senate inquiry over summer and a final vote next year.

The Liberal MP for Leichhardt in northern Queensland, Warren Entsch, said he did not see the need for the bill and questioned provisions including the defence for statements of faith.

Fellow Liberals Bridget Archer, Angie Bell, Andrew Bragg, Fiona Martin, Dave Sharma and Trent Zimmerman also expressed their concern.

Mr Zimmerman told the meeting it would be better to refer the bill to an inquiry led by a joint committee so MPs had a say in the outcome rather than Senators alone, and he warned against putting the bill to a vote in the House of Representatives before the review.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash told the meeting the effect of the bill was to allow freedom of speech but not discrimination, arguing that a Catholic could tell someone he or she did not believe in divorce but could not act on that by using it as grounds to sack someone.

In another example, Liberals who were briefed on the bill said atheists would be protected if they told people of faith they would not go to heaven.

However, a nurse who told a patient that he or she would go to hell because of their sexuality would not be protected because this would involve a breach of professional standards, according to the briefing. This was a change on earlier drafts sought by Liberals MP including Katie Allen, a pediatrician.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)