Monday, January 31, 2022

Scandalous deceit of parliament and the public

Bettina Arndt

How can we have trust in our institutions if governments can be hoodwinked into passing draconian legislation as a result of false, misleading statistics? We’re talking about totally wrong figures which claimed five times more sexual assaults than were actually reported and underestimated ten-fold the proportion of such cases determined in court.

This week’s intriguing story reveals how grossly inaccurate data was promoted and correct statistics suppressed whilst the media and feminist MPs scared the public into believing there was good reason to push through dangerous affirmative consent laws in NSW.

In March last year I wrote about the shockingly low figure of 2% which was being claimed as the conviction rate for rape cases in NSW. I questioned how this was possible, since all the data I could find suggested a very different picture, with every effort being made to push sexual assault cases through to trial.

In stepped Greg Andresen, one of the smartest and most tenacious researchers working on men’s issues in this country. Greg spent the next nine months on the case, starting with writing to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) which collects most of the relevant data, seeking clarification. BOCSAR confirmed they had no idea where that 2 per cent figure had come from and Greg embarked on a mighty investigation seeking to work out what the real statistics are and how the parliament and the public came to be so thoroughly misled.

He’s put together a timeline of the resulting paper trail, as he pursued relevant authorities to find out what happened. At the heart of the problem was a 2020 NSW Law Reform Commission report on the proposed sexual consent legislation which actually recommended against the enthusiastic/affirmative consent laws being promoted by AG Mark Speakman and his feminist colleagues. The NSW Bar Association warned that these laws “would potentially criminalise many sexual relations” and were likely “to result in significant injustice.” The purpose of these laws, requiring checking for consent every step of the way throughout lovemaking, is to find more men guilty of rape.

But the Commission’s report served another purpose. It was used with great alacrity by the feminist lobby who seized upon a key statistic included in the publication which claimed that only 3% of people alleged to have committed sexual offences ended up with a finalised charge. NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller was quick to jump on board, being quoted in The Telegraph saying “last year we received more than 15,000 reports of sexual assault. But men continue to get away with it – less than 2 percent of reports lead to guilty verdicts in court.”

Note that he’s talking about guilty verdicts, which are naturally less than the finalised charges which include unsuccessful cases, but either way the tiny numbers are far off the mark. The Commission screwed up big time, misrepresenting the true number of reported sexual assault incidents by a factor of more than five, which meant the proportion of persons of interest who faced a finalised charge for sexual offences was ten times what they claimed.

It took Greg nine months to get the authorities to acknowledge they’d published misleading data. On December 6 the Law Reform Commission finally published an extensive correction on their website, admitting they’d totally stuffed it. (Note – their correction is immensely confusing. If you plan to study it closely first read this guide, otherwise it will do your head in.)

It turns out that our criminal justice system isn’t failing rape victims. The Commission wrongly claimed five times as many cases of sexual assault incidents as were actually reported (14,171 vs 2,549)

The proportion of reported sexual offence cases determined in court was ten times more than the Commission first claimed – a leap from 3 to 30%.

There were 323 sexual assault guilty verdicts: that is, 12.7% of reported incidents led to a guilty verdict, not the 2-3% originally claimed.

Sexual assault is being treated very seriously. BOCSAR figures show mean custodial sentences for sexual assault are among the highest of all offences – three times as long as other assault and greater even than child sex offences. 57% of those convicted receive custodial sentences - about 4 times the rate of other assault and 6 times the rate (9.5%) for all offences. From March 2013 to September 2021 the number in prison for sexual assault more than doubled.

All these statistics are readily publicly available, yet our media and politicians instead chose to spend six months spreading alarmist misinformation based on the Commission’s wildly inaccurate statistics. “Many people [are] screaming for action, screaming for law reform and screaming for cultural change,” claimed Mark Speakman in one of a series of media stories quoting the misleading 2-3% figures. That was used as evidence of the failure of our criminal justice system to deal with sexual assault – all part of the campaign to push through affirmative consent laws.

Check out this sequence of events. Thanks to Greg Andresen’s efforts, the relevant authorities were made aware that the Commission had misled the public in September last year. Despite initial claims from the Police Commissioner’s office that they had used a different data set, Greg used a freedom of information request to obtain evidence that the Commissioner’s misleading statistics came from the Law Reform Commission’s report.

By September 21 the Commission acknowledged that BOCSAR was preparing a response to Greg’s enquiry – a tacit admission that they knew they had got it wrong.

“We expect to have it finalised this week,” a BOCSAR analyst told Greg on October 18 when he asked when he could expect a response. They claimed they still had to “run a few programming requests to extract the correct data.”

Two days later the new sexual consent reform bill was introduced into parliament and politicians lined up to show their woke credentials, one after another quoting the 2-3% figure as gospel, or screaming blue murder about the outrage of 15,000 sexual assaults complaints leading to such a low response. Green’s MP Tamara Smith was quoted in Hansard asking what kind of message is sent by the poor outcomes for this huge number of incidents, “The very architecture and fissures of the law around sexual assault have silenced and re-victimised mostly cisgendered women for so many decades. Where do we start to analyse the layers of patriarchy and marginalisation of women's voices?”

On November 18, Greg contacted BOCSAR to check on progress. The analyst claimed there’d been “some complexity in resolving the differences between the figures” and apologised that it was taking longer than anticipated.

On November 23 the legislation sailed through parliament. Within two weeks, the detailed correction had suddenly appeared on the Commission’s website. Game over.

Not that Mr Persistent has given up. Greg has put in a freedom of information request seeking correspondence between BOCSAR and the Commission over the past few months. And he’s been out there bombarding the ABC, SBS and all the other media sources who used the incorrect statistics alerting them to the Commission’s admission that they got it wrong. Not that they will do anything about it.

Luckily, there’s one politician prepared to stick his neck out. As always, Mark Latham from One Nation is on the case. He’s already posed a series of questions to the Police Commissioner and NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman, one of the key players in forcing the legislation through parliament. Latham plans to raise questions in parliament about the whole saga.

The question is whether the timing of all this was a coincidence or a conspiracy involving key government organisations determined to mislead the public and the parliament to ensure smooth passage of draconian new laws and set up the feminists for a very, very happy Xmas. Take your pick.

Either way, the Law Reform Commission failed in their duty to inform the parliament prior to debate of the sexual consent bill that the report they tabled in November 2020 contained major errors. The Commission was aware this grossly misleading data was being used to manipulate parliamentarians into believing the criminal justice system required drastic reform – and yet they did nothing.

This should be a major scandal and I need your help in ensuring it doesn’t pass unnoticed. Here’s a draft letter which I would like you to send to the NSW Premier and other members of parliament demanding a proper investigation of how this happened. With Victoria promising to introduce affirmative consent legislation this year and pressure for other states to follow suit, people living elsewhere should send the letter to their own parliamentarians and policy makers to warn about the duping of the public which has taken place in NSW.

On a light note, one of my correspondents has sent in this wonderful British television skit about pre-coital agreements from over a decade ago. It’s telling that these comedians assumed a signed and sealed pre-bonking deal would do the trick. Little did they know what the feminists had in store for us all, with the affirmative consent model requiring enthusiastic yelps right through the proceedings to avoid illegal behaviour. Wouldn’t they have fun with that absurd notion?

But sadly, this whole business is deadly serious, speaking to the capture of important government bodies by the feminist lobby which will stop at nothing in their quest to tilt the justice system even further to disadvantage men.


‘Treated like mugs’: Angry homeowners blast ‘farcical’ review

Furious homeowners have lashed out at the “farcical” situation that meant they were unable to post information vital to an investigation into the troubled building watchdog.

The Queensland Government’s review into the troubled building watchdog got off to a bad start when the official online chat room crashed soon after it was launched on Australia Day, January 26.

Homeowners complaining of inaction by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission labelled the review “hopeless sham”.

They’ve taken to social media to blast the “farcical” situation where they were unable to post information vital to the investigation.

“It’s bad enough that the Palaszczuk Government thinks so little of our plight that their review even includes what is basically a chat room,” said Mark Agius, who has spent more than $1 million on his four-year legal battle with the QBCC and the builder of his Townsville home.

“But it gets even worse because the government’s online-forum only runs till Tuesday, February 15 – so a matter of weeks – and then after you register your interest to take part, you can’t because the site can’t cope with the seemingly huge demand and crashed.

“While they eventually fixed the problem, it’s a farce and we’re being treated like mugs”.

Mr Agius, a telecommunications engineer, fears his Mount Louisa home will blow away in a cyclone after an independent expert pointed to 75 major defects, including structural defects.

He is furious with the state government building watchdog, the QBCC for dithering and then “agreeing to retrospectively downgrade wind speed cyclone safety standards without my knowledge”.

Mr Agius fears the speedy review will not have the time to process complex cases of botched building by hundreds of disgruntled homeowners.

The review into the QBCC is being headed by Jim Varghese, the newly-appointed Chancellor of Torrens University in SA who is also a member of Springfield City Group’s management team.

It was announced after serious allegations of ministerial intervention, conflicts of interest of board members and a lack of transparency.

Mr Agius says his home does not meet legal wind classifications, and insists a Royal Commission should be conducted into the QBCC.

“It is completely unreasonable that a consumer, a first homebuyer, has had to spend nearly $1.4 million to fight his case simply for choosing to build in a state that the regulator has lost touch,” he said.

“The public has lost confidence in the regulator. I have completely lost confidence in the regulator and its ability to perform its statutory obligations effectively.”

QBCC ‘fails’ to act over safety breaches and house collapse
“My home is entirely unsafe to occupy and is a significant safety risk not only to my family but to every member of the public living nearby,” he said.

“I believe the residential construction industry watchdog is failing Queenslanders, homeowners and tradies alike.”


Australia's health dictatorship and an Israeli critique

Australia seems to be sharing with the world novel ideas about how to persecute the unvaccinated. So far, it has been a raging success. France and Spain are now also considering banning unvaccinated tennis players from their tournaments and there are obstacles to competing at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Domestically, the decision of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to revoke the visa of the world’s No. 1 tennis player has met with widespread approval. Australians have a tradition of cutting down tall poppies, hence the howls of outrage that Novak Djokovic had got special treatment in being allowed to enter the country unvaccinated. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are provisions for vaccine exemptions which Djokovic met — because he had had a recent Covid infection — as the Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke conceded on making his second attempt to deport the tennis champion.

In a wonderful display of Australia’s Catch 2022 Covid rules, tennis coach Darren Cahill said that an exemption for a recent Covid infection should exist only for people who want to be vaccinated, but in the end, it didn’t matter. Even though Djokovic had a valid medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open and had been granted a valid visa to enter the country, he was deported not because he was infected with a dangerous virus, but with a dangerous idea.

What idea? That he, Djokovic should be allowed ‘to choose what’s best’ for his body. Not in Australia. Echoing former prime minister John Howard, who said, when facing thousands of asylum seekers arriving on Australia’s shores, ‘We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come’, Prime Minister Morrison showed the world that he would decide what is injected into our bodies, and the circumstances in which it is injected. Sure, the federal government’s health website proclaims that ‘vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary’ and people have the option to choose. But as thousands of doctors, teachers, paramedics and now Novak Djokovic have found out, choosing not to be vaccinated means choosing to lose your job.

Mr Morrison now finds himself in the tricky situation of having to explain why it is intolerable to have an unvaccinated tennis player in the country, when he has unvaccinated parliamentarians in his own party. Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally tweeted: ‘Mr Morrison cannot pretend that he is a wolf, tough on Novak Djokovic and his anti-vaxx stance, but a lamb in front of his own party room, unwilling to tell people like George Christensen, Senators Antic, Rennick and Canavan to pull their heads in.’

Since Mr Morrison relies on those parliamentarians to retain his own employment as prime minister, he finds them easy to ignore. After all, he only deported Djokovic to try to hang on to his job.

Australians, for their part, feel relieved that, even wearing their woke straitjackets, there is at least one minority that they have licence to loathe, to fire from their jobs, ban from social gatherings, and blame for everything that they hate about the pandemic.

Yet for all the self-righteous outrage about Djokovic, there is also a sense of discomfort.

‘If anyone is looking for a place to isolate, Melbourne Park looks like a great spot,’ tweeted one person. ‘No one is at the Australian Open.’

It must be galling for Australia’s political leaders and health advisers that, having bludgeoned and bullied almost every Australian into getting vaccinated, the country is second only to Israel, which this week broke the global record for daily Covid cases.

Morrison is desperate to point out that it’s not his fault. There has been no policy to let Covid ‘rip’. Regulations are still in place enforcing masks, distancing, density limits, isolation, testing and vaccination. What is painfully obvious is that they are not working.

NSW and Victoria have announced that booster shots can now be given every three months in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of infections. Good luck with that. A clinical trial in Israel has found that a fourth dose of the Pfizer vaccine doesn’t prevent infection by Omicron any more than did the third.

The avalanche of cases has prompted Professor Ehud Qimron of Tel Aviv University and a member of the Israeli government advisory committee on vaccines to deliver a devastating critique to the Israeli government in an open letter published in an Israeli newspaper. He slammed Israel’s Ministry of Health for pursuing ‘destructive policies’ such as lockdowns, restrictions and vaccine mandates out of a ‘lust for power, budgets, and control’, while ignoring epidemiological science, and refusing to adjust policies in the face of real-world data and ultimately to ‘admit failure’.

Professor Qimron criticised the refusal of the government to acknowledge that recovery from infection is more protective than a vaccine, that the vaccinated can catch and transmit Covid and that as a result Israel’s vaccine passport system made no more sense than branding people who chose not to get vaccinated as ‘enemies of the public and as spreaders of disease’.

He also deplored the fact that the government failed to adopt the ‘Great Barrington Declaration’ written by Sunetra Gupta, Jay Bhattacharya, and Martin Kulldorff of the universities of Oxford, Stanford and Harvard respectively which called for an end to ‘devastating’ lockdown policies. Instead, the Israeli government had chosen to ‘ridicule, slander, distort and discredit’ the academics and burn ‘hundreds of billions of shekels’ destroying the education of children, harming livelihoods, the economy, human rights, mental and physical health, slandering colleagues who did not surrender to the government narrative, turning people against each other, dividing society and polarising discourse.

The skyrocketing Omicron cases were not an emergency he said, the only emergency was that the same people who created these destructive policies were still in charge and held huge budgets which they would spend on propaganda and psychological engineering instead of strengthening the health care system.

Every word of this searing critique applies equally to Australia and to most of the Western world. How long before government advisers elsewhere start telling the truth to their masters? Now there’s a dangerous idea that our political leaders must desperately hope isn’t contagious.


When a corruption watchdog is itself corrupt

Tony Fitzgerald will be one of the chairs of a royal commission-style inquiry into the structure of Queensland's anti-corruption body, the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced today.

The bipartisan Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC), which oversees the anti-corruption watchdog, recommended such an inquiry late last year in a scathing report to parliament.

That report stemmed from an examination of the CCC's investigation and decision to charge eight Logan City councillors with fraud in 2019.

It found CCC chair Alan MacSporran did not ensure the watchdog acted independently and impartially at all times.

Mr MacSporran, resigned last week – saying his relationship with the PCCC had broken down irretrievably which saddened him deeply, and defending a decades-long career where his honesty and integrity had never been questioned.

An earlier report on corruption by Tony Fitzgerald led to the creation of the anti-corruption body.(1 News Express)
Mr Fitzgerald conducted the landmark Fitzgerald Inquiry in the 1980s, which revealed systemic corruption in Queensland and led to the creation of what is now the CCC.

Retired Supreme Court judge Alan Wilson QC will also chair the inquiry which is expected to take six months.

'Very serious allegations'
Its terms of reference include a review of the CCC's structure in regards to its investigatory and charging functions, and the role of seconded police officers at the CCC.

Ms Palaszczuk said cabinet considered the PCCC's report into the CCC "at length".

"The CCC has enormous power. The check on its power is the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee," she said.

Integrity issues simmering away in the background for the past year have come to the fore this week for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's third-term government.

"These are very serious allegations and the report was given very serious consideration by cabinet.

"Who better to oversee an inquiry into aspects of the CCC than the man who created it?

"We believe in the checks and balances that are put in place as part of our democracy."

There have been calls for a wider inquiry into integrity matters within Queensland supported by two top bureaucrats — outgoing Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov and former State Archivist Mike Summerell


Australia ready to fill gas gap in Europe if Russia-Ukraine tensions explode

Australian LNG exporters are preparing to fill energy shortages across Europe if Russia cuts off gas supplies, with the federal government pledging to support “friends and allies” caught up in the escalating stand-off over Ukraine.

As US officials scrambled to source alternative energy supplies for countries heavily reliant on Russian gas, Trade Minister Dan Tehan and Resources Minister Keith Pitt said Australia was ready to ship LNG exports to Europe.

European nations on ­average draw more than 40 per cent of their gas imports from Russia – Germany’s reliance is even ­greater – sparking growing concerns that Moscow could limit supply to the continent in ­response to the Ukraine tensions.

Amid reports US officials were holding talks with Australian and Qatari gas suppliers, Mr Tehan said the nation stood ready “to support our friends and allies in the current challenging and complex geostrategic environment”.

“The current geostrategic environment that Australia faces is the most complex since the Second World War,” Mr Tehan said. “This environment will continue to present both challenges and opportunities to Australian exporters now and into the future.

“As Australian LNG exports are expected to grow this financial year, Australian LNG exporters are ideally placed to meet any ­demand that may arise globally.”
READ MORE:Trappett: Putin’s move matters to us too|Jennings: There is still a slim chance to stop war with Russia|Boyes: Russia-Ukraine conflict may trigger global famine|Ukraine’s blacklist: Killers, lawyers, writers and spies

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday threatened to slap sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s financial accounts and interests if any ­attack on Ukraine were made, as Russia said it was conducting new drills with 6000 troops near Ukraine and in the Crimea.

Moscow, which already has 100,000 troops near Ukraine, has demanded in recent weeks that the country, a former Soviet republic, never be allowed to join NATO and a stop to Western drills near the Russian border. The Biden administration has rejected those demands.

With Canberra already threatening to impose economic sanctions and assist Ukrainian officials to repel cyber attacks, former ­Australian ambassador to Ukraine Doug Trappett warned Mr Putin was attempting to ­restore the Soviet Union’s “status and influence”.

“Certainly the effort and ­resources he has invested in ­rebuilding the Russian military and ­trying to make Russia a seemingly indispensable part of various ­conflicts – from the Middle East and northern Africa to northeast Asia – would seem to indicate it,” said Mr Trappett, writing in The Australian.

Mr Trappett, Australia’s first resident ambassador in Kiev between 2014 and 2016, compared Mr Putin’s tactics with those of China’s “ongoing grey zone activities and incursions with Taiwan”.

“As daunting as it is, only ­robust and united diplomacy from NATO leading to a clear Russian understanding of the penalties at stake for any aggression might circumvent the situation,” Mr Trappett said.

“Australia may not want this to occupy too much US focus, but nor should we underestimate what neglect by NATO might mean for the credibility of the ­global rules-based order.

“For these reasons, we should also not underplay Australia’s role. Our own vast security challenges and limited resources preclude the provision of significant military support. But we have more skin in the game than we might realise. We should be vocal and active.”

The Australian understands European and British authorities have been investigating alternative energy, gas and LNG sources in response to tensions with Russia over cyber attacks, militarisation and espionage activity not seen since the Cold War.

While local gas producers were unlikely to become long-term mass LNG suppliers to ­Europe, Australian exporters could help plug emergency shortages and attract premium prices.

Global demand for Australian gas is already at an all-time high, with LNG export earnings forecast to increase from $30bn to $63bn in 2021-22.

Mr Pitt said that as a world-leading, reliable gas exporter, Australia was “ready to assist with any request for further supplies” from European nations. “This shows how important Australian resources are to energy supplies around the world,” he said.

He warned that ongoing “lawfare” by activists threatened “not just Australian jobs, but energy security in countries that rely on our gas exports”.

The US government on ­Tuesday revealed it was in negotiations with “multiple” governments and energy companies around the world to prepare for a co-ordinated “surge” of output, in case Russia reneged on repeated promises not to cut off power to NATO members in Europe. ­“Disruption in physical energy supply transiting through Ukraine would acutely affect natural gas markets in Europe, ­including how they deploy ­existing energy stockpiles, which are at low levels,” a senior US ­official said.

The official said Australia and Qatar were party to these discussions but didn’t provide further details given the market sensitive nature of the talks




Sunday, January 30, 2022

When an Australian government ignored the order of a court

The Djokovic affair is now dead as far as most people are concerned but I don't think it should be. It showed how even a democratic government with conservative credentials can sink into Stalin-like disrespect for justice and the rule of law.

The episode greatly undermines any faith in the adminstration of immigration law in Australia and inspires doubt about the rule of law in Australia generally. Are any of us safe from government high-handedness? We clearly are not.

Djokovic was arrested and extensively grilled when he entered Australia by the border bureaucracy, terminating in his arrest and imprisonment. But he appealed to the court to get himself released. The court found for him but the government deported him anyhow, on the flimsiest of grounds. What the judge in the case said is revealing. It clearly shows that Djokovic did no wrong. The wrong was done to him by the Australian government, probably for political reasons. Stalin had political reasons for his actions too

"The judge presiding in the Novak Djokovic court case has said the world No.1 appeared to have provided all the evidence he was asked for on his arrival at the Australian border.

Judge Anthony Kelly made the comments after the court spent time going through Djokovic’s travel declaration before he arrived in Australia.

Djokovic’s counsel Nicholas Wood SC notes that in the request for declaration of vaccination, the tennis player claimed he could not be vaccinated on medical grounds.

The court heard when prompted to provide proof of this Djokovic uploaded the medical exemption document from the CMO at Tennis Australia.

Judge Kelly said he was somewhat “agitated” about the situation and asked why the Tennis Australia document was not accepted by the delegate making the decision on Djokovic’s visa.

“Here, a professor and an eminently qualified physician have produced and provided to the applicant a medical exemption,” Judge Kelly said.

“Further to that, that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government and that document was in the hands of the delegate.

"The point I am agitated about is what more could this man have done?"

Judge Kelly added that the transcript of Djokovic’s early Thursday morning interview with border officials also showed Djokovic tried to provide officers with everything they needed.

Judge Kelly noted the Djokovic transcript said: “If you will let me talk to people even though you have taken my phone from me, I will try and get you what you want.""


Feminism’s embarrassing fall from ‘Grace’

If the past couple of years has taught us anything, it is that the current wave of feminism has become downright damaging to women.

The embarrassing decline of feminism could not have been any clearer than in Grace Tame’s confected performance with the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, what the commentary both in support and condemnation of her seems to have missed is that her timing and demeanour were carefully designed to achieve one thing and one thing only: to keep the spotlight firmly on herself – even when her year of special treatment was over (and, sadly, at the expense of her successor).

Supporters will say that Ms Tame did a wonderful thing by drawing attention to her cause. How being disrespectful to a Prime Minister advances the cause of child victims of predatory grooming and sexual abuse is not entirely clear, so perhaps they would care to list the changes Ms Tame has brought about for abused children? If they cannot, it is because there are none to speak of, but this does not seem to bother the luvvies.

I cannot blame anybody for wanting to avoid the issue of child sexual abuse, because small children being molested is a uniquely distressing matter to confront. In contrast, the nebulous and ever-expanding bandwagons of ‘ending gender-based violence’ and ‘calling out the patriarchy’ are much more palatable.

They are also a gateway into the huge, self-perpetuating and well-funded industries of advocacy and consultancy that offer an endless gravy trail of ‘jobs for the girls’, which has become the whole point of modern feminism. As a movement, feminism has become self-indulgent, elitist, and completely obsessed with insisting that the fatuous is extraordinary and that the shallow has hidden depth.

This is bad enough on its own, however the most terrifying betrayal of women comes when you take a critical look at who the so-called feminist movement most lauds, not just in Australia, but around the world. The women feminism cheers the loudest are not the scientists, the successful entrepreneurs, the outstanding athletes, or the multitude of others who have achieved remarkable things – often, against exceptional odds.

No, the women held up as beacons of hope and change for the future of womankind are, almost without exception, those whose only real achievement in life – aside from being suspiciously photogenic – is determinedly wearing the badge of gender-based victimhood at all costs. In instances where they have not experienced actual violence or abuse, they simply create it – hence why ‘unwanted looking’ has become a violation.

Is this what we want our daughters, our sisters, ourselves to aspire to? Do we really want young women to believe that the best way for a woman to get ahead in life is to take on a victim role and see the entire world from that blinkered view? Do we honestly want the next generation to dumb itself down and sell itself short like this? Are we alright with teaching girls that victimhood is a credential – and, it seems – a better one to have than the ability to think deeply and critically?

The perpetually outraged will insist that using victimhood for ‘positive change’ is inspirational and will bang on about how ‘brave’ such women are. If we take a step back from the breathless fawning, the rah-rah cheer-leading, and the spectacularly out of touch sphere that is Twitter, then we are forced to admit a simple truth: it does not take ‘courage’ or ‘bravery’ to ‘speak out’ when you have a ready-made cause wanting to adopt you, an incredibly sympathetic media backing you to the hilt, and legions of politicians waiting to be on your side if they think there might be some advantage in it.

This also raises the question of what, exactly, is the ‘positive change’ that is happening? Realistic and effective responses to addressing violence against women do not seem to be part of the equation, because the preferred feminist approaches of ‘awareness raising’ and ‘cultural change’ have been going on for years with – shock horror! – no apparent impacts on the statistics. It is hard to point to anything more tangible than promotion of the view that the ‘ideal woman’ is one whose value lies in talking about her victimhood and the inferred victimhood of all women.

When we buy into the cult of victimhood, we are also buying into the unspoken notion that women are, deep down, helpless little creatures who need somebody to protect them. Today, that somebody is invariably ‘the state’, but is that really any different to the days when women were seen as needing constant protection by a father, brother, or husband? As a society, we need to get past our fixation with this damaging, insulting role for women and completely change the message.

Our message to the girls and women of the future must be this: one woman can change the course of the world – but that woman, no matter what she has been through, will never need to play the victim-card to do it.


Another winner for Australia: Zinc

The price of zinc is rising and it will push up the price of everything from renewable energy to mobile phones.

Industry experts say it's likely the price will continue to rise amid a supply crisis in Europe

But it is good news for miners — Australia is the world's second-biggest producer. The price of zinc on the London Metal Exchange hit a 14-year high in October and is holding near that price.

It is one of many metals that are going up in price and that is pushing up the cost of renewable energy systems in particular.

Since the beginning of 2020 the price of the PV-grade polysilicon used in solar panels has more than quadrupled, steel has increased by 50 per cent, copper by 60 per cent and aluminium by 80 per cent.

The rising prices could also push up the cost of mobile phones, which require many of the same resources.

Pete Lau from phone manufacturer OnePlus told Business Insider last year that "prices across the supply chain, from raw materials to 5G chips, are all rising".

Variscan Mines managing director Stewart Dickson said the zinc price could climb yet.

The surging cost of energy in Europe has forced some smelters to shut down, tightening up supplies. Belgium cut its production in half midway through last year.

"Supply is projected to fall by 3 per cent a year, but demand will double by 2030," Mr Dickson said. "So the price is set to rise."

His company is involved in two zinc projects in Spain and other projects in Chile and Australia.

Zinc is used as a protective coating on steel, combines with copper to make brass and is in chemical compounds in rubber and paints.

It is used in electroplating, metal spraying and automotive parts as well as in electronic goods like fuses, anodes and cell batteries. You can find it on roof gutters, engravers' plates, cable wrappings and sunblock.

But the biggest impact of rising zinc prices may be in the renewables sector. "Batteries need zinc, solar panels need zinc to improve energy flow and wind turbines need zinc," Mr Dickson said.


Older people say school curriculum is ‘too woke’, Australian values must be protected

Generations are split over whether schools should protect Australia’s “inherently Western and Christian” values, as academics slam the curriculum.

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg says people would be supportive of keeping Australia Day but also establishing a second day to celebrate the country’s Indigenous heritage. “More Indigenous leaders are talking about the value of keeping the day on 26 January because it is a day of truth telling,” Mr Bragg told Sky News…

Seven in 10 Baby Boomers think more needs to be done to nurture and protect Australian values.

Overall, more than half of Aussies want to see our values protected, according to an exclusive YouGov poll commissioned by News Corp between December 27 and January 10.

But there are big differences in opinions between the generations, with 15 per cent of Gen Z – those born after 1997 – going as far as saying there should be less emphasis placed on Australian values.

The survey of 2297 people also found that one in four Australians have concerns that the school curriculum is too ‘woke’.

Fiona Mueller, an adjunct scholar from the Centre for Independent Studies, said while teachers tried to instil respect, compassion and fairness in schools, the current curriculum made it almost impossible for students to develop a deep appreciation of our “inherently Western and Christian” based Australian values.

“There is no overarching intellectual and academic framework that places Australian values at the heart of learning,” she said.

“It is ironic that the dominance of themes such as climate change, racism, globalism and all the other -isms makes it hard to maintain a clear emphasis on longstanding Australian values.”

Temaeva Legeay-Hill, 21, who is studying accounting and finance at university in Melbourne, said the combination of compassion and giving people a fair go was her interpretation of Australian values and ones that the government promoted on its Home Affairs website.

She said Gen Z was becoming increasingly disconnected with these values because they were not seeing them in society.

“Based on the data, our First Nations peoples are not being given a fair go,” Ms Legeay-Hill said.

“Academically they have lower levels of numeracy and literacy and poorer health outcomes.”

She said Gen Z would only want to nurture Australian values if they were authentic.

Meanwhile, the poll also showed that 56 per cent of people believe the curriculum should continue to include lessons on Australia’s links with Asia, Indigenous Australians and the environment.

While a quarter felt the curriculum had become too “woke”, Gen Z does not agree with that sentiment.

Ms Legeay-Hill said including “humanity into academia” was not a bad thing and helped to strengthen cultural bonds.

Glenn Fahey, a research fellow in education policy, said today’s curriculum was contributing to children having a “negative, pessimistic view of Australia – and life in general for that matter – that will feel foreign to past generations and to parents”.

He said there was nothing woke about learning of Australia’s role in Asia, the lives and histories of Indigenous Australians, or the environment, but it depended how the subjects are taught.

He said a “woke” example of Australian history is to paint it “as a racist, genocidal country rather than recognising that we live in the most harmonious and successful multicultural country in the world”.

“The problem is that students may only get a one-sided, politicised view that fails to provide the full context,” he said.




Friday, January 28, 2022

$1bn top-up to keep Great Barrier Reef off UN’s danger list

This is a complete waste of money. The reef is in no danger. Only Greenie scaremongering says it is. And the reef is at its most diverse in WARM climates (e.g. the Torres Strait) so global warming would help, not hinder it. Guess why the reef lies almost entirely in the (warm) tropics? Greenies rely on people not knowing even the basics and nobody dares to contradict them. Peter Ridd did and he got the sack

Scott Morrison will inject an ­additional $1bn into protecting the Great Barrier Reef – the largest single investment in the marine park – to avoid the national treasure being listed as an endangered world heritage site.

Three weeks after Anthony Albanese announced Labor would spend an extra $163m over four years to extend the Reef 2050 program, the Prime Minister will unveil the Coalition’s election pledge in Cairns to increase funding for the reef to $3bn.

Mr Morrison’s funding boost for the Great Barrier Reef – a key economic driver in the government-held electorates of Leichhardt, Herbert, Capricornia and Flynn – comes as Labor attempts to wrestle back the central and north Queensland seats.

The reef package is also expected to bolster the government’s environmental credentials across inner-city electorates in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney where Liberal MPs are facing challenges from cashed-up pro-climate change ­independents at the election due by May.

The major pre-election spending follows a global push and recommendation from UNESCO last year for the 21-country World Heritage Committee to list the Great Barrier Reef as being “in danger”. While the government successfully lobbied against the push, the Morrison government must report to UNESCO by next month about how it is strengthening its Reef 2050 plan.

More than half of the extra $1bn in reef funding, to be spent over nine years, will go towards improving water quality and working with land managers to remediate erosion, improve land condition and reduce nutrient and pesticide run-off.

Efforts to combat threats from the crown of thorns starfish, which has severely damaged large swathes of the reef, will be bolstered by $253m.

The crown of thorns starfish control program, which has already culled more than 275,000 of the marine invertebrates since 2014, will be extended from 253 to 500 reefs.

Mr Morrison said protecting more than 13,000 hectares of coral reef captured under the crown of thorns starfish program required “state of the art on-water management practices”.

“We are backing the health of the reef and the economic future of tourism operators, hospitality providers and Queensland communities that are at the heart of the reef economy,” the Prime Minister said.

“This is already the best-­managed reef in the world and today we take our commitment to a new level. Funding will support scientists, farmers and traditional owners, backing in very latest marine science while building ­resilience and reducing threats from pollution in our oceans and predators such as the crown of thorns starfish.”

The Australian understands the Great Barrier Reef Foundation – controversially awarded a $443m grant by Mr Morrison’s predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, in 2018 – will likely work with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and other government agencies but not play any role in the allocation of funds.

With the Great Barrier Reef supporting 64,000 jobs and generating $6.4bn in annual tourism revenue, veteran Liberal MP Warren Entsch said “the people in Cairns and far north Queensland care about the reef more than anyone”.

“Our tourism operators, local communities and traditional owners are invested in the health of the reef and this funding ­supports their commitment and the future of the world’s greatest natural wonder.”

The Leichhardt MP holds his Cairns-based seat on a margin of 4.2 per cent.

“The reef is an amazing place for people to visit and, particularly as local businesses start to recover, I encourage people to come up and see that for themselves,” Mr Entsch said. “This funding will help us keep it that way and ensure that we remain the best reef managers in the world.”

The government’s existing $2bn 2050 plan has supported management agencies including GBRMPA and the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences maintain the health of the reef.

In addition to water quality and reef management, $92.7m is being funnelled into research and deployment of world-leading reef resilience science and adaptation strategies. A further $74.4m is going towards indigenous and community-led projections including “species protection, habitat restoration, citizen science programs and marine debris”.

Central to the Coalition’s reef management plan is improving the quality of water flowing to the reef, which involves land-­management transformation across a catchment area of about 424,000sq km. About 80 per cent of the catchment area is under agricultural production.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the best science and engagement with communities, industries and indigenous groups would drive record investment.

“From breakthrough science in coral seeding and restoration, to improved water quality, the latest on water management and compliance systems, as well as the protection of native species, we are working across every aspect of the reef,” Ms Ley said. “Our farmers, tourism operators, and fishers are our reef champions and we are supporting them through practical water and land based strategies that will contribute significantly to the health of the reef.”

The Opposition Leader this month launched his Queensland election campaign blitz in the state’s north and promised a Labor government would ensure the key tourist attraction was never classified by the UN as “in danger”.

“That’s what we’re determined to do: make sure that it’s never ever put on that list,” Mr Albanese said. “The way to do that is take the big action that we will take by joining the world in climate policy, once again, not being a pariah sitting in the naughty corner with Saudi Arabia and Brazil and a couple of other countries.”

Mr Albanese also pledged to tear up Mr Turnbull’s Great Barrier Reef Foundation funding arrangement.


Australia day grievance: Always was, always will be a smokescreen

As Roger Scruton wrote: ‘The fictions were far more persuasive than the facts, and more persuasive than both was the longing to be caught up in a mass movement of solidarity, with the promise of emancipation at the end. My father’s grievances were real and well-founded. But his solutions were dreams.’

Always was, always will be. These words are the first clue that the fight about when Australia Day falls isn’t really at all about ‘when Australia Day falls’. It is hard-coded into the progressive narrative that there can be no solution to the problem.

Colonisation cannot be resolved. No reparations, no recognition of inter-generational trauma, no overly-verbose oratory apology can meaningfully move the needle on Indigenous outcomes.

Any good-faith analysis of the anti-Australia Day movement has no choice but to conclude there is nothing that can be done to appease the movement to the point it ‘stops’ short of a complete demolition of the entire country and mass exodus of people.

That is a feature and not a bug of those weaving the narrative. It is designed to endlessly fuel emotional responses in voters which are ordered towards political ends (namely stacking up contributions and winning elections). This isn’t entirely novel to the left but denying this reality is futile.

This isn’t to say that there are not very real and serious issues within Australia’s Indigenous communities that must be urgently addressed. This is to say that whatever cultural battleground we fight over next will be just as asinine and just as much of a smokescreen from the real issues as the fight over Australia Day has been.

Indigenous women are 34 to 80 times more likely to experience domestic and family violence. That should be the headline in the news cycle today. That is a real problem in need of urgent redress.

The infantilisation of adult people as nothing but victims of systemic oppression, teaching them they cannot be the masters of their own destiny – that is a real problem as well. Treating 3.3 per cent of the population as a monolithic entity is also a real problem.

Custodial land rights with no true ownership or freedom to generate wealth from the land entrusted to Indigenous communities, that is a very real and easily solvable problem.

To those who criticise opponents of the date change, saying symbolic changes have ‘real meaning’, please tell us what changing the date will do to address the horrific rates of family violence? Please tell us what ‘Sorry Day’ did to help these disaffected people living in poverty (apart from facilitate the Astro-turfing of the change the date movement to follow it)? The answer, as we all know deep down – or not so deep – is nothing. To paraphrase, ‘Symbolism is quick, easy, and exhilarating. Real change slow, laborious, and dull.’

You can’t put a date on the colonisation of Australia, so suggesting a date change meaningfully alters the nature of Australia Day (whenever it might be) is equally puerile. The narrative will not change: always was, always will be.

A day of celebration and recognition of Australia for all its splendour and achievement is intransigently tied to its conquering through violence. This is neither good nor bad at this point, it is just historical fact. We can, and we will, celebrate good while recognising bad, as we have throughout human history.

Until proponents are willing to come to the table for a vision of a unified Australia (one which recognises the bad but stops short of setting unachievable outcomes), they cannot be taken seriously in their ostensible objectives and Indigenous communities will continue to suffer.

The Greens celebrate calls for Amazon to write Meanjin instead of Brisbane on our frivolous online shopping while looking past the woe’s faced by Indigenous children because the data makes them uncomfortable.

Campaign money, which could be better spent pushing for actually needed reform, will be frittered away by university educated white people trying to ‘change the world’ one overshared Instagram story at a time.

It’s okay though, for anyone tired of the debate, these people will have moved on to their new pet issue by next week. Just like we have already seemingly forgotten the plight of women in Afghanistan.

Maybe the left-wing elite want to have a spell discussing the quandary of the Ukrainian people while simultaneously opposing the military industrial complex which defends them next?

Once you accept that appeasement or acquiescence on the date change would be in vain, you must merely fight the changes because it slows down the timeline before the next pet (culturally more divisive) issue is engineered into the Overton window for political ends.

The grimmest realisation is that in twelve months’ time we will have to rehash this all again, yet no meaningful changes which could actually help our Indigenous communities from the harm they suffer, will have occurred.


Many Australian "workers" are better off on welfare -- and it shows

Last week there were three important pieces of news related to the Australian labour market.

One was the fall in the unemployment rate to 4.2 per cent, the lowest since before the global financial crisis and one of the lowest since monthly surveys were first conducted in 1978.

The second was the revelation that 200,000 people who took up welfare benefits during the height of the pandemic remained out of work, notwithstanding widespread labour shortages.

Finally, there was the decision by the federal government to open international borders to those who had been vaccinated, with visa fees temporarily waived for international students and working holiday-makers. The expectation is that there will be about 175,000 arrivals in the coming months. Note here also that work restrictions placed on international students (20 hours a week during semester time) have been lifted temporarily.

These developments tell us lot about what is happening in the labour market and the government’s approach to dealing with the issues. When it comes to the unemployment rate, the official figure still contains a lot of noise as a result of the pandemic and on-again, off-again lockdowns and other restrictions. Even without government-mandated restrictions, the private decisions of wary members of the public are affecting business conditions.

There is also the impact of Covid-related jobs – think PCR collectors, vaccine givers, contract tracers and the like – which is similar to having an ongoing census affecting the figures. (In the month in which the five-year census takes place, there is always a noticeable impact on employment, although the number of collectors now is much less with the census going largely online.)

The point is that the official unemployment rate still doesn’t give us a totally meaningful and comprehensive view of the labour market. But there is no doubt that conditions are relatively tight, particularly given the absence of temporary migrants in the past nearly two years.

What is clearer is that some industries and businesses had become highly dependent on migrants to fill certain jobs, particularly lower-paid ones in service industries and agriculture. When this source of workers dried up there were serious difficulties in securing other (Australian-born) workers to fill the positions. On the face of it, it would seem there are some jobs Australians just won’t take.

This is consistent with overseas research that shows local workers will vacate positions permanently when there are low-skilled migrants prepared to take them. Even when there are fewer migrants available to do these jobs – as has been the case with the pandemic – local workers show little propensity to resume their occupancy of these jobs, even if rates of pay are slightly increased.

Two or so decades ago, the Australian labour market was adequately serviced by local workers with relatively few international students, working holiday workers and temporary workers. Migrants overwhelmingly were permanent and undertook long-term job plans consistent with getting ahead and providing for their families.

More recently, the number of temporary migrants has swamped the number of permanent ones, which in turn reflects where migrants work and the aspirations of the workers involved. Many international students, for instance, must work to pay fees and living expenses. They tend to take low-skilled jobs in hospitality and retail and often will work in businesses with ethnic ties. It is not surprising that many instances of wage theft occur among these temporary working migrants lacking, as they do, knowledge of our industrial relations regulations and fearful of losing their jobs.

It is not surprising the businesses that came to rely on temporary migrants as one of their principal sources of workers are those that are complaining loudly about worker shortages. If they can convince the government to open up the international borders, it is easier to resume their old ways rather than offer higher wages and train locals to do the jobs.

While this course of action may take time, it shouldn’t be ruled out. That there are large numbers of people on JobSeeker – about 200,000 – who took up welfare payments during the pandemic but remain without employment suggests there is a potential source of labour that could be tapped.

For some people, the net advantages of not working (including the payment of a slightly higher JobSeeker and other top-ups) are greater than the net advantages of working. This creates a dilemma for the government because the employability of these welfare recipients declines the longer their duration of joblessness. But given the complications of the pandemic restrictions on ease of movement, it hasn’t been an optimal time to impose mutual obligations on welfare recipients.

This has led the government to take the easy route and simply bring in as many temporary workers as possible to take up these difficult-to-fill jobs. Mind you, this tactic is consistent with the government’s preference for large migrant intakes and high rates of population growth. (The Prime Minister’s time at the Property Council seems to have had a lasting effect given his ongoing refusal to countenance a future for Australia based on much more limited rates of immigration.)

There are downsides to this approach, not least the lack of electoral appeal in restarting large migrant intakes. The incipient wage pressures that have become apparent, consistent with worker shortages, are likely to be suppressed to a degree. And why bother training workers when it is possible simply to import them? (This is particularly the case in more skilled fields like engineering and IT.)

It is pleasing to note the federal opposition is taking a slightly different position when it comes to immigration. In particular, its view is that the number of temporary workers should be restricted to drive the incentives for locals to be employed and trained.

Having said this, it would seem unlikely a Labor federal government would limit the number of international students granted visas, given the close relationship between the higher education sector and the Labor Party. International students are the largest group of temporary workers by far.

Again, going back two or so decades, our educational sector managed well without such high proportions of international students. Indeed, it would seem many universities have managed very well during the pandemic without the steady stream of international students.

The reality is that the pre-pandemic situation worked for many key players in the economy and the government is being pressured to return to that situation as soon as possible. Without thinking through the forgone opportunity to reform and change things, it would seem the government is only too keen to oblige.


‘Scrap the app’: Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner slams need for the check-in app

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has slammed the state government over the need for the check-in app saying its lost its purpose, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is refusing to budge on the policy.

Cr Schrinner said Queenslanders have been questioning whether the check-in app is worth the “impositions” it puts on businesses since Queensland Health stopped posting individual contact tracing locations this year.

“When the cases started to rise in Queensland, everyone was waiting to hear the contact tracing locations of hotspots, and that hasn’t happened. The state government’s not using their app for its intended purpose. If the contact tracing was happening it would be a different story but it’s not,” he said.

While people were originally prepared to do the “right thing”, Mr Schrinner said their patience wouldn’t last forever.

“If they see a purpose for it, they’ll be cooperative. But in this case people are seeing the state government not using their own app so they’re really questioning why they should use it,” he said.

He said that there are other apps on smartphones that will allow people to show their vaccination status, and this function was unnecessary for places where the vaccine mandate wasn’t enforced.

“When it comes to places like Coles, Woolies and Aldi, it’s time to scrap the app.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk fought back at the Mayor saying there were no plans to remove the check in app as it was vital for making sure people were vaccinated.

“If there is a big outbreak, we want to make sure that we can actually let people know,” she said.


Global cobalt shortage good for Australia

Cobalt prices performed strongly in the second half of 2021, rising for 100 consecutive days to hit more than US$70,000/t in December.

In 2022, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence projects the demand for cobalt out of the global battery sector alone will grow by more than 20% year on year — a significant step up in demand.

Meanwhile, forecasted supply side additions will struggle to keep pace with such growth, providing further support to prices.

Over the medium term, this small market – global production was just ~140,000t cobalt metal total in 2021 — will grow at an average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 8-10% to 2030.

(Of that 140,000t, ~55% is currently consumed by the battery sector.)

Based on a CAGR of 10%, cobalt will be a +310,000tpa market by the end of the decade.

100% growth in just 8 years. Huge.

By 2050, Glencore has previously estimated about 507,000 tonnes per annum will be consumed – a ~300% increase on existing levels.

That’s because EV makers, a relatively small percentage of current demand, will need a lot more going forward. German behemoth VW, for example, has formed a joint venture to produce cathode material at an as-yet undisclosed location in Europe.

The deal outlined targets to produce sufficient cathode material for 20GWh of cell production by 2025, scaling up to 160GWh by the end of the decade. According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence data, that 160GWh will require more than 20,000tpa of cobalt.

COB is making big process on the flagship 81,000t Broken Hill Cobalt Project (BHCP) – Australia’s largest cobalt sulphide deposit — which could be in production by mid to late 2025.

Pre-production capex is estimated at ~$560m. The BHCP would produce +3,500tpa cobalt metal eq over a 20 years at a very low all-in sustaining cost of $US12/lb – making it profitable even at record low prices.

The cobalt price recently hit $33/lb. The leverage for COB is astonishing, Kaderavek told Stockhead. “A US$2.50/lb increase in the price of cobalt delivers a 28% NPV (Post Tax) increase,” he says.

“For example, a mark to market exercise reveals that today’s Broken Hill project is worth $1.3Bn – as opposed to the $550m that was assumed on long dated numbers back in 2020.”

In 2022, COB is planning to operate its demonstration plant — a smaller version of the real thing — and deliver large scale samples to potential offtake partners.

Project approvals and a BFS will be finalised by the end of the year, ready for a final investment decision on the project by Q1 2023.

Despite additional DRC supply coming online soon, Kaderavek says over the long-term, supply will struggle to keep up with demand.

“This is an EV phenomenon – for example, our Broken Hill Cobalt Project is a top 5 (ex-Africa) project, yet the 17,000tpa of our cobalt sulphate will barely feed a single 40GWh giga factory.”

“There are over 50 such large facilities planned for the US and EU alone over the next decade.”

Kaderavek says battery makers and carmakers will need to move up the supply chain to make deals with raw material suppliers.

COB already has commercial partnerships with LG International, Mitsubishi Corporation & the giant Japanese trading house, Sojitz Corporation.

The question isn’t solely whether supply will be able to meet demand. Automakers, especially western automakers, are increasing putting ESG at the centre of everything they do.

That puts dominant global cobalt producer, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under the microscope. The landlocked African nation is a global giant when it comes to cobalt production. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the DRC produced 95,000 tonnes of cobalt in 2020, accounting for 68% of global output.

It’s where China – the world’s biggest consumer by far — gets ~90% of its supply.

But some high-profile supply agreements have shown that European consumers are committed to diversifying away from these problematic Chinese and DRC supply chains.

This underscores the importance of cobalt projects in ‘de-risked’ tier 1 jurisdictions – like those owned by COB, as well as Jervois Mining (ASX:JRV), Australian Mines (ASX:AUZ), Sunrise Energy Metals (ASX:SRL), Queensland Pacific Metals (ASX:QPM), red hot IPO Kuniko (ASX:KNI) and Metals X’s (ASX:MLX) nickel-cobalt spin-out Nico Resources (ASX:NC1) — just to name a few.

The pivot away from African cobalt towards more sustainable sourcing is another reason supply will struggle to keep up with demand, Kaderavek says. “We are seeing a strong commercial pivot towards ethical sourcing of battery materials from the EU and US,” he says.




Thursday, January 27, 2022

Why young women aren’t smiling for you any more

Yasmin Poole, below, is a rather furious feminist who falls into the common error of thinking that her coven of loud feminists speak for all women. I wonder how she squares that with the fact that a majority of white women voted for Donald Trump in 2016?

And as for women smiling at me, I am at the moment fielding a marriage proposal from a youthful lady with whom I have a lot in common. And I am 78, not a highly marriagable age.

So all women are NOT as Jasmin fancies them. Men should ignore her. There are plenty of women with old fashioned values about. And the challenge from young Chinese ladies is formidable. My son once had a Chinese lady in his orbit who told him "Let me be your girfriend and I will do anything for you". He married a blue-eyed girl, as it happens, but it was a pretty good offer. Unless you are as good-looking as Grace Tame, feminist females should be aware of that competition

The immediate backlash from conservative men in power in response to Grace Tame’s photos with the Prime Minister has exposed how they are the gatekeepers of Parliament’s sexist culture.

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Grace Tame’s unforgiving expression next to the Prime Minister became iconic the moment the image was shared.

It also drew swift criticism that can be put straight in the sexist folder. Queensland Liberal Senator James McGrath wrote a Facebook post that criticised Tame as “childish” – an infantilising, belittling word for a courageous Australian of the Year.

Journalist Peter van Onselen offered in his opinion piece for The Australian the tone-deaf, yet telling advice, “If your disdain for [Scott Morrison] is so great ... then just don’t go.”

It’s the same argument from a worn-out misogynists’ playbook. If women’s “disdain” for the political boys club is so great, why should they run for politics? If women “disdain” the system that entrenches our disadvantage, why should we sit at the table and challenge it?

Their criticisms carry a thinly veiled message: women who refuse to obey do not belong in spaces where decisions are made.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australian of the Year Grace Tame have greeted this year’s nominees for a morning tea at The Lodge in Canberra ahead of Australia Day.

This argument has benefited men in power for generations upon generations. Women are expected to nod, smile, be silent and complicit. Women are expected to shoulder the burden of masking our emotions for the comfort of the other.

No one should be expected to smile at a Prime Minister – a servant of the people – who has fallen at every hurdle when it comes to supporting women’s rights. Especially Tame, a survivor of sexual abuse.

It’s not just a few cockroaches in the backyard. It’s a blatant indicator that the whole house is rotten. The critics who have come out publicly swinging against Tame reveal a deeper and more sinister culture of misogyny within Parliament House.

If these individuals have the audacity to publicly smear a woman for refusing to smile, imagine what it is like for a woman intending to speak her mind in the party room?

No need to imagine. The stories from Parliament paint a horrific picture. Former Liberal MP Julia Banks’ experience of sexual harassment and bullying reveals the ongoing culture of silencing women who dare to say “no”. Brittany Higgins’ alleged rape in Parliament House exposed politician after politician who could have done something but turned away.

Tame’s appearance with the Prime Minister ought to remind us that formalities are no longer the concern of women.

We abandoned formalities during the March4Justice last year too. Together, women across generations screamed for justice at Parliament House until our lungs hurt. In Melbourne’s protest, girls as young as 12 took to the stage in their school uniforms sharing their experiences of sexual assault. We did not nod and politely smile. We listened and we cried.

Yet, like clockwork, the predictable male critics across politics and journalism came out of the woodwork. Men in Parliament can always look to these voices whenever they need a reassuring pat on the back, turning their heads from the hundreds of thousands of women who demanded action.

The vocal boys’ club are mercenaries of the sexist culture that harms our democracy and threatens women’s very lives.

There is hope that the misogynistic cycle can be broken. As a young woman, I see how my generation is willing to resist formalities to speak truth to power. Now, more than ever, we need young women in Parliament to give a voice to our experiences in a way that other generations could not capture.

Young women will also remember. We will remember the inaction of the Prime Minister when he could have acted for us but didn’t. We will remember the gatekeepers who have used their influence to protect their power and undermine women who come forward.

Our demands to address sexual assault is clear. The onus is on decision-makers to listen.

The burden weighs heavy on our shoulders. We need you to make gender equality a defining issue for this federal election in the name of safety and respect. We need you to remember the politicians who tried to undermine and throw stones when we said that our lives matter too.

It is time that we dismantle the vicious boys’ club in Parliament. Because, as Tame demonstrates, respect is earned.


Demand for special rights based on race is offensive

The activist campaign to make Indigenous issues the focus of Australia Day, rather than issues affecting us all, has been largely successful. While middle Australia will agree that Indigenous issues are important and must be addressed, nonetheless many might question why almost nothing else gets discussed on Australia Day. Can we please have some balance here?

Similarly with the call for a constitutionally entrenched Indigenous voice to parliament. It would be great to skip the ugly and divisive campaign for an all-or-nothing, extremist voice model and go straight to a discussion of a sensible mid-course that has the best prospect of winning acceptance. There is hope on the horizon. After a long, dishonest and manipulative debate, the critical question for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians finally hove into view just before Christmas. It turned out to be a surprisingly simple and blunt question. It is also now the only outstanding issue between constitutional recognition of our Indigenous people and failure of the whole project. It will get more airplay in 2022 and, for some, will become an election issue.

The question is this: does parliament remain sovereign in Australia, or will there be a co-equal voice that is immune from abolition by parliament? In other words, if the voice becomes corrupt or ineffective like its predecessor, ATSIC, or if it is simply no longer necessary or appropriate, can parliament get rid of it? Not just modify, improve or suspend – but to abolish it and possibly without replacing the voice?

This question emerged from the Indigenous Voice Co-Design final report released by the Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, on behalf of the Morrison government on December 17. The final report recommended, and the government seems to have accepted, a framework for 35 local and regional voices, which, although still in need of considerable work, is heading in the right direction.

Those local and regional voices would, according to the final report, be integrated with and feed into the national voice, which would have the role of advising both the federal government and parliament on Indigenous issues.

Again, there is much detail to be settled on key elements such as the consultation standards that would govern when and to what extent the parliament and/or government would consult the national voice. However, the early signs about the national voice are, save for the elephant in the room described earlier, promisingly moderate and sensible. For example, there seems to be an acceptance that consultation standards would be “non-justiciable”, meaning activists could not drown the courts with complaints about issues around consultation.

READ MORE:Good day to take stock of how far nation has come|Morrison: A day to get behind the best place in the world|Aboriginal health service urges lockdown
The voice has been plagued with self-serving, even bogus, assertions about what Australians do and don’t want. The activists have stubbornly ignored, or sneered at, those Australians who favour a voice, or similar recognition mechanism, for Indigenous Australians created and supervised by, and subject to, the same sovereign body governing us all, namely federal parliament.

Australians might even happily live with the insertion of a facilitative power in the Constitution that authorises the parliament to legislate for the voice and enables it to amend or abolish the voice, with or without a replacement. That seems an elegant compromise. It gives the voice constitutional recognition while not compromising parliamentary sovereignty or establishing a two-tier society divided on racial lines. Sadly, however, the simplicity illustrates the likely battle lines. Many activists want special race-based rights entrenched in the Constitution and protected from abolition by parliament. They remember ATSIC, the Indigenous body abolished with bipartisan support by parliament in 2004 because it was besieged by claims of mal-administration and corruption.

That this is the last remaining battlefield is explicitly recognised by the final report. In the foreword to the final report, its authors, professors Marcia Langton and Tom Calma, say “while consideration of legal form was outside our co-design responsibility, we were not surprised by the growing support for constitutional enshrinement (of an Indigenous voice in the Australian Constitution) … (for) many practical and principled reasons … including that it would be the best way to protect an Indigenous voice against abolition”.

We should be grateful we have clarity, at long last, about this question. While Australians of goodwill might eagerly support recognition and respect for Indigenous Australians, the demand for special rights based on race and a special exemption from parliamentary sovereignty is spectacular overreach and, frankly, a massive own goal. Asking for special rights in special cases might be something Australians can live with for limited periods and purposes, and subject to the overriding constraints of the three-yearly visit to the ballot box that governs us all. But the demand that special rights be made permanent, especially ones based on race, is something many Australians will surely find offensive.

Perhaps most worrying is that the history of the voice debate gives no reason to be confident activists will not try to push this through with a campaign of trickery and deception. This debate has been marked by attempts to confect a consensus based on ignorance. For example, 18 months ago a number of large Australian corporates and professional services firms endorsed an advertising campaign demanding a constitutionally entrenched voice even before any design work had been done. Are they idiots or tricksters?

That our great enterprises have been reduced by their marketing and ESG departments to such infantile emoting as promoting a change to the Constitution without knowing the change proposed was bad enough. Worse was to come when activists and their supporters used this sort of feeble-minded, Pollyanna-behaviour as evidence of overwhelming consensus. If BHP, Commonwealth Bank and their corporate peers want it, everybody must. What utter nonsense.

This kind of campaign is likely to backfire, just as a similarly crafted campaign in favour of the republic did. Australians are astute when it comes to constitutional change. Chances of permanently entrenching in the Constitution a divisive, race-based set of special rights for some Australians only, which overrides parliamentary sovereignty, must be vanishingly small.

There is a good compromise here. Insert a provision in the Constitution that enables parliament to legislate for a voice, and to amend or even abolish it, with or without a replacement.

This recognises the need for a voice but does not overturn parliamentary sovereignty. It really is that simple.


Australia's wind leader is actually running on gas and coal

Approaching breakfast-time SA is importing half of its power from Victoria and 94% of the local generation is gas. The turbines are running at 2% of capacity and providing 5% of demand.

Victoria is generating a small excess of power but not enough to prop up SA without help from Tasmania and NSW. The Victorian windmills are running at 12%, just above wind drought level, and providing 8% of local generation, with coal delivering three quarters of the supply and gas 5%.

Across the NEM the wind is delivering 3.7% of consumption, running at 8% capacity and the fossils are giving 83% (coal 75%).

RE enthusiasts need to realise that SA is the leader in demonstrating that we will never run on wind and solar power until the storage issue is resolved and that is nowhere in sight, certainly not in the next decade or three.

The International Energy Agency (a green organization) is projecting record coal consumption this year with coal consumption holding up past 2040. The fossil fuel contribution to worldwide energy use has declined all of 2% from about 87% to 85% over recent years despite the tens of billions that have been spent to make power more expensive and less reliable


Truth is we were lucky it was the British

The proposal that January 26 should be a day of truth telling should not be dismissed lightly, especially by conservatives.

As Martin Luther King said, nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. It is hard to have serious discussion about the meaning of European settlement unless we first can agree on the facts. Yet fewer than four out of 10 Australians know which event they are supposed to be celebrating or mourning on Wednesday, according to a survey last week by Compass Polling.

Twenty-six per cent believe it to be the anniversary of the establishment of Federation, while 20 per cent think it marks the discovery of Australia by James Cook. Only 39 per cent correctly identified Australia Day as the date of the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.

Popular understanding of Australian history has not been assisted by our incurious professional historians who have been slow to establish the basic facts of settlement. Worse still is the conscious invention of false history, notably in recent times by Bruce Pascoe, whose attempt to portray pre-settlement Australia as a land of sophisticated farming and established towns is pure whimsy.

It is enough that Indigenous hunter-gatherers were able to survive and thrive on this unforgiving continent, largely isolated from the outside world. Pascoe’s denialism dishonours a people and their culture.

A new account of the founding of modern Australia by Margaret Cameron-Ash exposes how much of our understanding of the events of 1788 have been clouded by prejudice and how much we have still to discover. Tellingly, Cameron-Ash trained as a lawyer rather than a historian.

Her book Beating France to Botany Bay: The Race to Found Australia debunks the myth that Australia was purely a dumping ground for Britain’s criminal class, the explanation for settlement that was considered unquestionably true by Manning Clark, one of Australia’s most influ­ential historians. In his four-volume A History of Australia, Clark makes no mention of French voyager Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de Laperouse, whose expedition to the Pacific stirred the British into action. He makes no mention of the 1799 Bunbury inquiry commissioned by the British government that ruled out sending convicts to Botany Bay because of the expense. Britain at that time was in the middle of a rare but refreshing period of fiscal consolidation in the aftermath of an expensive war with France.

Yet, as Cameron-Ash documents, intelligence that Laperouse was on course for Australia with two vessels laden with trees, plants and seeds, manufactured goods, tools and unwrought iron convinced prime minister William Pitt the Younger that French settlement was imminent. The intelligence was the catalyst for a snap decision at a cabinet meeting on August 17, 1786, to commission a fleet carrying convict settlers under the com­mand of Captain Arthur Phillip.

The closeness of the finish to the race 17 months later, in which the 11 vessels in the First Fleet anchored in Botany Bay five days before the arrival of Laperouse, is a story that has been little explored. It has the makings of an epic movie in the tradition of Peter Weir’s Master and Commander were any film company prepared to challenge the zeitgeist and take on such a project.

Cameron-Ash sticks to telling the story rather than lecturing readers on the morality of arriving uninvited to settle in land occup­ied by an indigenous popu­la­tion. Nonetheless, by placing the settlement of Australia in the context of strategic rivalry between European powers, she points to the inevitability of settlement by one or more European powers in the globalised world of the late 18th century.

The Pacific was becoming strategically important, largely because of the fur trade and the settlement of the American west coast. The romantic notion that the Indigenous population could live undisturbed on the great southern con­tinent hermetically sealed from modernity is patently absurd.

It is unfashionable these days to speak of Australia’s good fortune in being settled by the British in the period of the Enlightenment. Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, settlement by the French, a year before the outbreak of the French Revolution would have been a fate far worse.

It was a colony founded on high ideals of the power of scientific discovery and respect for the equal worth of every human being. Those who influenced the nature of Australian settlement, people such as Joseph Banks, Pitt and the wrongly maligned King George III, were insistent that there should be no slavery. Phillip’s instructions, and indeed his instincts, were to treat the Indigenous population with respect and seek peaceful coexistence.

Crucially, NSW would be in the hands of a civil administration rather than under military command, ensuring that the law would be applied equally in principle. The greatest failing of Australia’s founders was naivety, their failure to foresee the size of the challenge in reconciling people from such different cultures.

Andrew Roberts’s definitive new biography of George III cites the king’s instructions to Phillip on the eve of the First Fleet’s departure from Britain in April 1787. He was told to establish good relations with the Eora tribe and to “endeavour by every means possible to open an intercourse with the natives and to con­ciliate their affections” and was directed to punish anyone who sought to “wantonly destroy them”.

George’s liberal values were clearly established. His desire to make peace with Native American tribes and to prevent the spread of colonial settlement beyond the Atlantic coastal fringe had put him at odds with George Washington and the American colonial government. Together with the issue of taxation, his instincts towards Native Americans helped to precipitate the American War of Independence.

Calibrating modern Australia’s foundational story with these facts is not to downplay the ugliness of the conflict between settlers and Aboriginal Australians or to underestimate the moral complexity of European settlement. It does, however, allow us to avoid the divisive reasoning of racial essentialism, weaponised by the Black Lives Matter movement aided and abetted by critical race theory. History as a pursuit of truth is our only hope of establishing a foundational story that unites every Australian.


An Australian perspective on sea levels

Jennifer Marohasy

Australia is a good place to study sea level change. Unlike Britain, Australia wasn’t covered in an ice sheet during the last ice age. Ice sheets complicate things because when all the ice melts – as Scotland’s ice sheet did a little over 9,000 years ago – part of the landmass may gradually rebound dragging its bottom half under. So, the north of the British Isles is rising, while the south has been sinking up to 0.6mm per year for the last 1,000 years – about 60 centimetres in total since the time of William the Conqueror. The sinking of this landmass is sometimes confused with rising sea levels, and it is claimed that this is occurring due to rising carbon dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution.

Where I live, about halfway down the east coast of Australia, sea levels began to rise about 16,000 years ago with the melting of Antarctica. By 9,000 years ago, sea levels around the world had risen by 12,000 centimetres, or 120 metres, the equivalent of a 25-storey building! The extent of this rise dwarfs the 36-centimetre rise that occurred over the last 150 years and the subsidence in places like Lincolnshire which adds up to just a few centimetres over the same period, both of which are worrying the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Indeed, it is uncontroversial, at least in peer-reviewed journals, that global sea level rise at the end of the last ice age occurred at a rate 10 times faster than the modern rate of about 3mm per year – which is about how much Scotland is rising due to isostatic rebound.

After being buried under several kilometres of ice, much of Europe and North America is experiencing uplift. For example, the ice retreated from Sweden 9,900 to 10,300 years ago and large-scale uplift is still occurring to the extent that the tidal gauge in Stockholm shows sea levels have fallen by about 50 cm over the last 129 years — an average annual rate of fall of 3.9mm per year. The uplift at Juneau, in Alaska, is even more extreme: in just 80 years sea levels have fallen by 120cm at a steady rate of minus 15mm per year. This reality jars with the notion of catastrophic sea level rise, so the IPCC ‘detrends’ the measurements from these tidal gauges, until they show sea level rise.

These numbers don’t make easy reading and may seem extraordinary, but sea levels really did rise globally by 120 metres at the end of the last ice age. Yet this inconvenient fact tends to be excluded from political summaries on climate change that rely on remodelled data.

According to the latest IPCC report on climate change – Assessment Report 6, published just before the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow late last year – global temperatures are the warmest they have been for at least the last 125,000 years. There is no mention that in between it got quite cold, and Scotland (where that meeting was held) was covered in a lot of ice.

Given the landmass of Australia has not sunk or risen much over this time period, if the IPCC report is correct the waves should cover my favourite 125,000-year-old platform each high tide and I should be washed away.

The highest tide for this year was forecast for Monday 3 January at 8.27am. A four-metre-high swell was also forecast because ex-tropical Seth was lingering just off-shore. That morning, I wondered: am I finally going to be washed away?

I scrambled down from the lookout and put my drone up. It captured footage of the huge swells, which did make it to the very bottom of the cliff face and washed over the very wide platform I usually stand on.

But I wasn’t washed away. I had positioned myself up a ledge. There are ledges at three different heights in Noosa National Park – and along the coastline all the way to Sydney. This is evidence etched in stone that there have been times in the past when sea levels were even higher than they are now. Why? Because the climate has always changed.